Lately, our 350.org network has been breaking a lot of rules.
Last Sunday, we marched right into the place where the fossil fuel industry didn't want us—into the Ohio state capitol, for a “people's assembly” in the middle of the state-house protesting the dangerous practice of fracking. It was a beautiful sight to behold: 1,000 passionate activists bravely standing up for their rights to free assembly, clean water and a future worth fighting for.
And on Thursday we marched right out of the place that we were supposed to be: the Rio Earth Summit. World leaders had gathered yet again to forge a plan to address our planetary challenges—but they ended up failing us by producing another weak, non-binding agreement. So when youth leaders asked us to join a walk-out in protest of the summit's disappointing outcomes, we were proud to join them—even if that meant breaking the rules set out by the United Nations.
The point is, if we play by the rules that the corporations have set for our political life, we're going to lose. Corporate polluters channeled $350,000 to Ohio’s governor to make sure he was pushing fracking, and they made sure that the official text in Rio was a mush of weasel words and toothless promises.
So we're going to have to find the places we can have a people-powered edge. Some of those places will be in the streets, of course—but we'll also be ramping up our work on the web, where hundreds of thousands of people around the world launched a “TwitterStorm” on fossil fuel subsidies last week. Those subsidies ended up being one of the only real issues that drew much attention at Rio—meaning that hundreds of thousands of people around the world managed to take this arcane topic and thrust it into the global spotlight. In the weeks ahead, we'll continue to ramp up the pressure on fossil fuel subsidies with a sustained, strategic campaign in the U.S. and around the world.
World leaders failed us in Rio—and if we don’t shake things up, there’s no reason to think that they are likely to change. Fortunately for the planet, this movement already has some big plans under way.
Some of our friends in Texas are taking the lead with a bold action called the Tar Sands Blockade. They're planning a very direct action that will literally stand in the way of the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline.
This section of Keystone will get final approval from the Obama administration this week—the plan is to build a pipeline running from Cushing, Okla. to Port Arthur, Texas, carrying hundreds of thousands of barrels of toxic oil across farms, homes and communities. Stopping the northern leg of the pipeline running from Canada is an important victory that we will continue to defend, but with folks in Oklahoma and Texas facing this new danger, our movement needs to step up to help them as well.
They need all kinds of help: online supporters who can amplify their message on social media, small donations for supplies and courageous people who can join them on the front-lines in Texas. (A full list of needs is below)
Click here to sign up to support the Tar Sands Blockade in Texas.
We're not in charge of this action, but our team has been working with the organizers closely, and we're excited to pass on their call to action.
It's not always easy to be doing such hard work in trying times. But if we have a hope to beat this crisis, it's in our collective bravery and strength.
P.S. Here’s the word directly from the folks in Texas:
A dedicated and experienced group of activists has been preparing all year for this action. We have exhausted every other option and now we are going to take direct action to blockade the construction of this pipeline nonviolently and safely. We have an organized strategy, trained activists, practiced our skills, built our blockades and crafted our media message. We are strong and we are ready, but we need your help before and after TransCanada arrives to destroy our homes. Successful actions require many different kinds of support and there is something for everyone who wants to help.
There are a myriad of ways to get involved in the Tar Sands Blockade! We are one team, united by our love for the beautiful planet we share together. Among the ways you can get involved include:
Donate supplies or funds
In order for this action to be safe and successful we need supplies and funds. Every penny goes directly towards things we need like food, gear, travel expenses and legal fees. Cash donations are tax deductible and a great way for people who can't be here to help us out in a tremendous way. Click here to donate to support the action. These are the things that will keep us safe and healthy so that we can stop the pipeline and help to slow the climate crisis.
Spread the word
Anyone with a web browser can be a huge asset to the action by just telling their friends and spreading the word throughout their social networks. Click here to plug-into our social media strategy.
If we tell this story right we can inspire people all along the pipeline route to use the time-tested method of nonviolent direct action to bring the zombie pipeline down for good. If you have media skills, we need bloggers, artists and web-savvy people who can help us from their homes. Contact us at KXLBlockade@riseup.net for more information.
Travel to Texas
We need people who have the skills and are willing to accept the risks of participating in our blockade. This would include spending days at a time outdoors fulfilling various responsibilities. Our blockaders will be living in a camp site that will need food, gear, safety, direct support, transportation and communications help. This camp is our direct action community and all of us are equals working and living together democratically to secure our common goals. Click here to join the action in person.
We will be hosting a regional training in July for activists interested in getting involved. Click here to join the training.
We have taken every precaution to secure our safety, but this type of action does come with certain risks. There is the possibility of arrest and the potential for bodily harm. Anybody who is not sure if they can afford those risks should choose other ways to join our team.
Nobody can do everything but everybody can do something.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Alexandra Rowles
Oregano is a fragrant herb that's best known as an ingredient in Italian food.
However, it can also be concentrated into an essential oil that's loaded with antioxidants and powerful compounds that have proven health benefits.
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By Emily Grubert
Natural gas is a versatile fossil fuel that accounts for about a third of U.S. energy use. Although it produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants than coal or oil, natural gas is a major contributor to climate change, an urgent global problem. Reducing emissions from the natural gas system is especially challenging because natural gas is used roughly equally for electricity, heating, and industrial applications.
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What RNG Is and Why it Matters<p>Most equipment that uses energy can only use a single kind of fuel, but the fuel might come from different resources. For example, you can't charge your computer with gasoline, but it can run on electricity generated from coal, natural gas or solar power.</p><p>Natural gas is almost pure methane, <a href="https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/natural-gas/" target="_blank">currently sourced</a> from raw, fossil natural gas produced from <a href="https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/natural-gas/where-our-natural-gas-comes-from.php" target="_blank">deposits deep underground</a>. But methane could come from renewable resources, too.</p><p><span></span>Two main methane sources could be used to make RNG. First is <a href="https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/inventory-us-greenhouse-gas-emissions-and-sinks" target="_blank">biogenic methane</a>, produced by bacteria that digest organic materials in manure, landfills and wastewater. Wastewater treatment plants, landfills and dairy farms have captured and used biogenic methane as an energy resource for <a href="http://emilygrubert.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/eia_860_2017_map.html" target="_blank">decades</a>, in a form usually called <a href="https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/biomass/landfill-gas-and-biogas.php" target="_blank">biogas</a>.</p><p>Some biogenic methane is generated naturally when organic materials break down without oxygen. Burning it for energy can be beneficial for the climate if doing so prevents methane from escaping to the atmosphere.</p>
Renewable Isn’t Always Sustainable<p>If RNG could be a renewable replacement for fossil natural gas, why not move ahead? Consumers have shown that they are <a href="https://www.nrel.gov/analysis/green-power.html" target="_blank">willing to buy renewable electricity</a>, so we might expect similar enthusiasm for RNG.</p><p>The key issue is that methane isn't just a fuel – it's also a <a href="https://www.eia.gov/environment/emissions/ghg_report/ghg_overview.php" target="_blank">potent greenhouse gas</a> that contributes to climate change. Any methane that is manufactured intentionally, whether from biogenic or other sources, will contribute to climate change if it enters the atmosphere.</p><p>And <a href="http://doi.org/10.1126/science.aar7204" target="_blank">releases</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wasman.2019.07.029" target="_blank">will happen</a>, from newly built production systems and <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-methane-emissions-matter-to-climate-change-5-questions-answered-122684" target="_blank">existing, leaky transportation and user infrastructure</a>. For example, the moment you smell gas before the pilot light on a stove lights the ring? That's methane leakage, and it contributes to climate change.</p><p>To be clear, RNG is almost certainly better for the climate than fossil natural gas because byproducts of burning RNG won't contribute to climate change. But doing somewhat better than existing systems is no longer enough to respond to the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2923" target="_blank">urgency</a> of climate change. The world's <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/chapter/spm/" target="_blank">primary international body on climate change</a> suggests we need to decarbonize by 2030 to mitigate the worst effects of climate change.</p>
Scant Climate Benefits<p><a href="https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/ab9335/meta" target="_blank">My recent research</a> suggests that for a system large enough to displace a lot of fossil natural gas, RNG is probably not as good for the climate as <a href="https://investor.southerncompany.com/information-for-investors/latest-news/latest-news-releases/press-release-details/2020/Southern-Company-Gas-grows-leadership-team-to-focus-on-climate-action-innovation-and-renewable-natural-gas-strategy/default.aspx" target="_blank">is publicly claimed</a>. Although RNG has lower climate impact than its fossil counterpart, likely high demand and methane leakage mean that it probably will contribute to climate change. In contrast, renewable sources such as wind and solar energy do not <a href="https://www.eia.gov/environment/emissions/carbon/" target="_blank">emit climate pollution directly</a>.</p><p>What's more, creating a large RNG system would require building mostly new production infrastructure, since RNG comes from different sources than fossil natural gas. Such investments are both long-term commitments and opportunity costs. They would devote money, political will and infrastructure investments to RNG instead of alternatives that could achieve a zero greenhouse gas emission goal.</p><p>When climate change first <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/1988/06/24/us/global-warming-has-begun-expert-tells-senate.html" target="_blank">broke into the political conversation</a> in the late 1980s, investing in long-lived systems with low but non-zero greenhouse gas emissions was still compatible with aggressive climate goals. Now, zero greenhouse gas emissions is the target, and my research suggests that large deployments of RNG likely won't meet that goal.</p>
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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued a list of 431 products that are effective at killing viruses when they are on surfaces. Now, a good year for Lysol manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser just got better when the EPA said that two Lysol products are among the products that can kill the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
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For all its posturing on climate change, the Democratic Party has long been weak on the actual policies we need to save us from extinction. President Barack Obama promised his presidency would mark "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow," and then embraced natural gas, a major driver of global temperature rise, as a "bridge fuel." Climate legislation passed in the House in 2009 would have allowed industries to buy credits to pollute, a practice known to concentrate toxic air in black and brown neighborhoods while doing little to cut emissions.
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Bayer's $10 billion settlement to put an end to roughly 125,000 lawsuits against its popular weed killer Roundup, which contains glyphosate, hit a snag this week when a federal judge in San Francisco expressed skepticism over what rights future plaintiffs would have, as the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
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By Charli Shield
When an elephant dies in the wild, it's not uncommon to later find its bones scattered throughout the surrounding landscape.
Elephant Burial Grounds<p>Highly social creatures that form deep familial bonds, elephants have long been observed gathering at the site where a peer or family member has died — often spending hours, even days, quietly investigating the bodies or the bones of other dead elephants.</p><p>Although the popular idea that dying elephants are instinctively drawn to special communal graves — so-called "elephant graveyards" — is a myth, their tendency to go out of their way to visit the bones and tusks of the deceased isn't unlike human rituals at graveyards, says animal psychologist Karen McComb.</p><p>"They spend a lot of time touching and smelling skulls and ivory, placing the soles of their feet gently on top of them, and also lifting them up with their trunks," McComb, who's been studying African elephants for 25 years in Kenya's Amboseli National Park, told DW.</p><p>The most striking part of watching an elephant experience loss, Poole recalls, is the quietude. She still remembers one of the first elephant deaths she witnessed; a mother who birthed a stillborn calf. That elephant stayed with its baby for two days, trying to lift it and defending it from vultures and hyenas.</p><p>"I was so struck by the expression on her face and her body. She looked so dejected. It was really like, 'Oh God, these animals grieve…'. It was just so different," Poole told DW. </p>
Witnessing Emotions in Animals<p>Not all scientists are comfortable concluding that elephants grieve. Among the more than 30 reports of elephant reactions to death that Wittemyer co-reviewed in <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10329-019-00766-5" target="_blank">a study published in November 2019</a> were accounts of "enormous variation and nuance" he says. "It can be incredibly involved and intricate for extended periods or can be relatively cursory checks."</p><p>In Wittemyer's own experience, it can be difficult not to attribute some kind of emotional experience to the more involved interactions between elephants and their dead.</p><p>He shares the story of an "extraordinary event" involving the death of a 55 year-old matriarch in Kenya in a protected area that happened to be near his place of work. She was visited by multiple unrelated families while she was dying, including another matriarch that exerted such enormous effort attempting to lift her to her feet that she broke her tusk, which Wittemyer says, is "like breaking a tooth." </p><p><span></span>"It was a remarkable example of this heightened emotional state, it was very clearly a very stressful interaction," he says.</p>
A Different Sensory World<p>One factor that limits our ability to fully grasp the way elephants process and respond to loss is our markedly different sensory experiences of the world.</p><p>An elephant's world is fundamentally olfactory — based on smell. Ours is visual. Previous <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25053675/" target="_blank">research</a> has shown elephants possess the most scent receptors of any mammal, and can <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17949977/" target="_blank">use smell</a> to discern the difference between different human tribes from the same local area.</p><p>That could explain why elephants exhibit such interest in sniffing the bones and tusks of others, as a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1617198/" target="_blank">2005 study</a> from McCombs highlighted. When presented with the skulls and ivory of long-dead elephants and those from other large herbivores, including rhino and buffalo, McCombs and her team found elephants approached and were specifically attracted to the remains of their own species. </p><p>Without access to the smells an elephant picks up on, Wittemyer says "an enormous amount of stuff" could be missed by humans when studying these behaviors.</p>
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