From June 14 to June 17, activists from all over the U.S. gathered in Columbus, Ohio to oppose the controversial drilling technique of hydraulic fracturing, toxic wastewater injection wells, and the lack of policies that support a renewable energy future for Ohio and the U.S.
The first three days of events were attended by more than 200 activists who participated in workshops, trainings, strategy sessions and community-building. People shared their stories about what’s happening in their communities as their neighbors sign leases with the natural gas industry. Others detailed the water and air contamination, increased truck traffic and reduction in property value once wells are drilled.
Youngstown, Ohio residents shared their fear of more earthquakes hitting their town as toxic wastewater continues to be injected in wells 8,000 feet below ground. Other issues discussed included water withdrawal, silica sand mining, non-disclosure of fracking chemicals, and the impacts to human health and the environment as the drilling frenzy continues in Ohio, including in its state parks and possibly its only national forest, the Wayne National Forest.
The Don’t Frack Ohio event culminated on Sunday, June 17, when more than 1,000 people gathered at Arch Park in downtown Columbus to hear speeches by Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, Josh Fox, director of Gasland, and Mary Clare Rietz from Ohio Alliance for People and Environment.
Following these environmental leaders’ powerful speeches exposing the perils of fracking and the need for immediate action to move beyond fossil fuels, rally participants marched to the Ohio Statehouse and occupied the rotunda.
Once assembled inside the Statehouse, activists chanted, passed a people’s resolution to end fracking in Ohio and to support a sustainable future, heard incredible stories from six Ohioans and took a pledge to continue resistance against the fossil fuel industry. The rally not only highlighted what we don’t want, but clearly identified what we do want—a federal energy policy that transitions us to a renewable energy future.
Rally participants were also speaking out against the recent passage of SB 315, a bill Gov. Kasich signed in May opening up vast areas of Ohio to the natural gas industry with little oversight. SB 315 allows fracking companies to claim trade secrets to hide chemicals used in the fracking process and gags physicians from disclosing the chemical composition of treated water. The law does not go far enough on water testing or address the serious climate impact associated with fracking.
Organizers involved in the event stressed how Chesapeake Energy and the Oil and Gas Association greased the wheels to push SB 315 into law. They highlighted the millions of dollars in contributions many of the Ohio General Assembly members and Gov. Kasich have received in the last several years from the natural gas industry, ensuring that industry voices were louder than those of the people of Ohio.
“I am dedicated to defending my community from the negative economic and health impacts related to the process of hydraulic fracturing,” said Josh Harris, a grassroots organizer in central Ohio. “That is why I participated in a people’s assembly—to vote for protective legislation since our state officials have failed to do so. SB 315 is not acceptable for those of us who will be living with these operations around our homes.”
Though the rally on Sunday was certainly the high point of the four-day gathering, the days leading up to the march to the Ohio Statehouse had a huge impact on moving the anti-fracking movement forward. I had the chance to sit in on a workshop on Saturday given by Karen Showalter from Oil Change International who discussed how money in politics impacts legislation and she gave an in depth overview of the website priceofoil.org. The website exposes the true costs of fossil fuels and reveals how much money elected officials receive in contributions from the fossil fuel industry and how it impacts their vote.
Saturday evening highlighted four keynote speakers. Jason Box, associate professor and geography atmospheric sciences program researcher at Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University, spoke about climate change and global warming as it relates to the severe weather—including droughts, heat waves, flooding and wild fires—being experienced throughout the world.
Mari Lynn Evans, director and producer of Coal Country, shared her passion for protecting the Appalachian region from coalmining. She discussed the fight to save Blair Mountain and detailed the extremely destructive practices of mountaintop removal where more than 500 mountaintops have been blown up throughout Appalachia.
Josh Fox, director of Gasland, shared how his desire to educate his neighbors on the perils of fracking—as leases were being signed throughout his community—turned into the feature documentary Gasland. He stressed the importance of everyone spreading the information of the dangers of fracking to their family, friends and neighbors. “The fracking contamination is not just the water, it’s not just the air, it’s the democracy itself,” said Fox.
The evening finished with a powerful talk by Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org. He stressed how daunting the science is concerning climate change and global warming, and how that means "we've got to move really fast, and it means that we've got to move really cohesively, and really together, and we have to do it where we are, close to home, but we also have to do it in a kind of global way."
Click here to view photos from the Don't Frack Ohio event.
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The Washington Redskins will retire their controversial name and logo, the National Football League (NFL) team announced Monday.
By Alyssa Murdoch, Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle and Sapna Sharma
Summer has finally arrived in the northern reaches of Canada and Alaska, liberating hundreds of thousands of northern stream fish from their wintering habitats.
A Good News Story?<p>On the surface, the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/fwb.13569" target="_blank">results from our study</a> appear to provide a "good news" story. Warming temperatures were linked to higher numbers of fish, more species overall and, therefore, potentially more fishing opportunities for northerners.</p><p>Initially, we were surprised to learn that warming was increasing the distribution of cold-adapted fish. We reasoned that modest amounts of warming could lead to benefits such as increased food and winter habitat availability without reaching stressful levels for many species.</p>
Photo of Arctic grayling (left) and Dolly Varden trout (right). Alyssa Murdoch / Lilian Tran / Nunavik Research Centre and Tracey Loewen / Fisheries and Oceans Canada<p>Yet, not all fish species fared equally well. Ecologically unique northern species — those that have evolved in colder, more nutrient-poor environments, such as Arctic grayling and Dolly Varden trout — were showing declines with warming.</p>
Fish Strandings and Buried Eggs<p>Recent news headlines run the gamut for Pacific salmon — from their increased escapades <a href="https://nunatsiaq.com/stories/article/more-pacific-salmon-showing-up-in-western-arctic-waters/" target="_blank">into the Arctic</a> to <a href="https://www.juneauempire.com/news/warm-waters-across-alaska-cause-salmon-die-offs/" target="_blank">massive pre-spawning die-offs</a> in central Alaska. Similarly, results from our study revealed different outcomes for fish depending on local climatic conditions, including Pacific salmon.</p><p>We found that warmer spring and fall temperatures may be helping juvenile salmon by providing a longer and more plentiful growing season, and by supporting early egg development in northern regions that were previously too cold for survival.</p><p>In contrast, salmon declined in regions that were experiencing wetter fall conditions, pointing to an increased risk of flooding and sedimentation that could bury or dislodge incubating eggs.</p>
Headwaters of the Wind River within the largely intact Peel River watershed in northern Canada. Don Reid / Wildlife Conservation Society Canada / Author provided<p>Interestingly, we found that certain climatic combinations, such as warmer summer water temperatures with decreased summer rainfall, were important in determining where Pacific salmon could survive. Summer warming in drier watersheds led to declines, suggesting that lowered streamflows may have increased the risk of fish becoming stranded in subpar habitats that were too warm and crowded.</p>
The Fate of Northern Fisheries<p>The promise of a warmer and more accessible Arctic has attracted mounting interest in new economic opportunities, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2019.103637" target="_blank">including fisheries</a>. As warming rates at higher latitudes are already <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/" target="_blank">two to three times global levels</a>, it seems probable that northern biodiversity will experience dramatic shifts in the coming decades.</p><p>Despite the many unknowns surrounding the future of Pacific salmon, many fisheries are currently <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/03632415.2017.1374251" target="_blank">thriving following warmer and more productive northern oceans</a>, and some <a href="https://doi.org/10.14430/arctic68876" target="_blank">Arctic Indigenous communities are developing new salmon fisheries</a>.</p><p>As warming continues, the commercial salmon fishing industry is poised to expand northwards, but its success will largely depend on extenuating factors such as <a href="https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060023067" target="_blank">changes to marine habitat and food sources</a> and <a href="https://www.yukon-news.com/news/promising-chinook-salmon-run-failed-to-materialize-in-the-yukon-river-panel-hears/" target="_blank">how many fish are caught during the freshwater stages of their journey</a>.</p><p>Even with the potential for increased northern biodiversity, it is important to recognize that some northern communities may be unable to adapt or may <a href="https://thenarwhal.ca/searching-for-the-yukon-rivers-missing-chinook/" target="_blank">lose individual species that are associated with important cultural values</a>.</p>
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If you get a call from a number you don't recognize, don't hit decline — it might be a contact tracer calling to let you know that someone you've been near has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Interviews With Contact Tracers<p>Contact tracing is a public health strategy that involves identifying everyone who may have been in contact with a person who has the coronavirus. Contact tracers collect information and provide guidance to help contain the transmission of disease.</p><p>It's been used during outbreaks of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), Ebola, measles, and now the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.</p><p>It starts when the local department of health gets a report of a confirmed case of the coronavirus in its community and gives that person a call. The contact tracer usually provides information on how to isolate and when to get treatment, then tries to figure out who else the person may have exposed.</p><p>"We ask who they've been in contact with in the 48 hours prior to symptom onset, or 2 days before the date of their positive test if they don't have symptoms," said <a href="https://case.edu/medicine/healthintegration/people/heidi-gullett" target="_blank">Dr. Heidi Gullett</a>, associate director of the Center for Community Health Integration at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and medical director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Health in Ohio.</p>
“You’ve Been Exposed”<p>After the case interview, contact tracers will get to work calling the folks who may have been exposed to the coronavirus by the person who tested positive.</p><p>"We give them recommendations about quarantining or isolating, getting tested, and what to do if they become sick. If they're not already sick, we still want them to self-quarantine so that they don't spread the disease to anyone else if they were to become sick," said Labus.</p><p>Generally, the contact tracer won't ask for additional contacts unless they happen to call someone who is sick or has a confirmed case of the virus. They will help ensure the contact has the resources they need to isolate themselves, if necessary. The contact tracer may continue to stay in touch with that person over the next 14 days.</p><p>"We follow the percentage of people that were contacts, then converted into being actual cases of the virus. It's an important marker to help us understand what kind of transmission happens in our community and how to control the virus," said Gullett.</p>
Why You Should Participate (and What Happens If You Don’t)<p>A <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(20)30457-6/fulltext" target="_blank">Lancet study</a> from June 16, which looked at data from more than 40,000 people, found that COVID-19 transmission could be reduced by 64 percent through isolating those who have the coronavirus, quarantining their household, and contacting the people they may have exposed.</p><p>The combination strategy was significantly more effective than mass random testing or just isolating the sick person and members of their household.</p><p>However, contact tracing is only as effective as people's willingness to participate, and a small number of people who've contracted the coronavirus or were potentially exposed are reluctant to talk.</p><p>"Contact tracers have all been hung up on, cussed at, yelled at," said Gullet.</p><p>The hesitation to talk to contact tracers often stems from concerns over privacy — a serious issue in healthcare.</p>
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