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70 Arrested at Extinction Rebellion Protest Demanding More Urgent Climate Coverage From New York Times

Climate
Seventy Extinction Rebellion protesters were arrested outside The New York Times building Saturday. SCOOTERCASTER / YouTube screenshot

Seventy Extinction Rebellion protesters were arrested outside The New York Times building Saturday as they demanded the paper improve its coverage of the climate crisis, Reuters reported.


Protesters briefly blocked traffic on Manhattan's Eighth Avenue, between the Times building and the busy Port Authority Bus Terminal, The Guardian reported. Demonstrators staged a die-in on the street outside the paper's headquarters. They also attached banners to the two buildings. The one affixed to Port Authority read "Climate Emergency," and the banner suspended from the Times building read "climate change = mass murder," with "change" crossed out and replaced with "emergency," Reuters reported.

"The lack of coverage of the climate crisis is completely unacceptable," member of Extinction Rebellion's press and fundraising teams Becca Trabin told The Guardian. "It's a public safety crisis on a global scale."

In total, 67 activists were taken into custody by the New York Police Department and three by Port Authority police, a spokesperson told Reuters.

In one incident, police arrested journalist Michael Nigro while he was photographing the protest from the third floor of the Port Authority building. A live-stream of his arrest was posted on YouTube by News2Share.

Journalist Michael Nigro Arrested for Photographing at NY Port Authority

Breaking: Journalist (and friend of News2Share) Michael Nigro (contributor to SIPA, Getty) has been arrested by NYPD / New York Port Authority for photograph...

News2Share Editor-in-Chief Ford Fischer tweeted that Nigro was released Sunday, but that police kept his press badge, camera and phone.

"I was arrested for committing an act of journalism and then, because of that act, had the very tools I use to report and make a living taken from me," Nigro said in a statement shared by Fischer. "This is troubling not just specifically for journalists, but it pollutes our democratic society in general."

Protester Donna Nicolino told The Guardian why she was willing to risk arrest.

"We want the New York Times as well as all the other media to treat climate change as the crisis it is," she said.

The protest comes around a month after The Guardian updated its style guide for environmental reporting to reflect the urgency of climate change. The paper said it would replace "climate change" with "climate emergency, crisis or breakdown"and refer to "global warming" as "global heating."

New York Times spokesperson Danielle Rhoades Ha defended her paper's coverage.

"There is no national news organization that devotes more time, staff or resources to producing deeply reported coverage to help readers understand climate change than The New York Times," Rhoades Ha told The Guardian. "We fully support this group's right to express their point of view, even when we disagree with it as it relates to our coverage."

The New York Times published 795 articles about climate issues in 2018, Rhoades Ha said.

But Extinction Rebellion spokeswoman Eve Mosher told CNN that even though the New York Times did "good reporting" it did not cover the issue with the appropriate seriousness.

"They should be treating it like World War II," Mosher said, "where there were headlines every day."

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Protestors marched outside the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on Monday, August 26, during the MTV Video and Music Awards to bring attention to the water crisis currently gripping the city. Karla Ann Cote / NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Will Sarni

It is far too easy to view scarcity and poor quality of water as issues solely affecting emerging economies. While the images of women and children fetching water in Africa and a lack of access to water in India are deeply disturbing, this is not the complete picture.

The city of Flint, Michigan, where dangerous levels of pollutants contaminated the municipal water supply, is a case in point — as is, more recently, the city of Newark, New Jersey.

The Past is No Longer a Guide to the Future

We get ever closer to "day zeros" — the point at when municipal water supplies are switched off — and tragedies such as Flint. These are not isolated stories. Instead they are becoming routine, and the public sector and civil society are scrambling to address them. We are seeing "day zeros" in South Africa, India, Australia and elsewhere, and we are now detecting lead contamination in drinking water in cities across the U.S.

"Day zero" is the result of water planning by looking in the rear-view mirror. The past is no longer a guide to the future; water demand has outstripped supplies because we are tied to business-as-usual planning practices and water prices, and this goes hand-in-hand with the inability of the public sector to factor the impacts of climate change into long-term water planning. Lead in drinking water is the result of lead pipe service lines that have not been replaced and in many cases only recently identified by utilities, governments and customers. An estimated 22 million people in the US are potentially using lead water service lines. This aging infrastructure won't repair or replace itself.

One of the most troubling aspects of the global water crisis is that those least able to afford access to water are also the ones who pay a disproportionately high percentage of their income for it. A report by WaterAid revealed that a standard water bill in developed countries is as little as 0.1 percent of the income of someone earning the minimum wage, while in a country like Madagascar a person reliant on a tanker truck for their water supply would spend as much as 45 percent of their daily income on water to get just the recommended daily minimum supply. In Mozambique, families relying on black-market vendors will spend up to 100 times as much on water as those reached by government-subsidized water supplies.

Finally, we need to understand that the discussion of a projected gap between supply and demand is misleading. There is no gap, only poor choices around allocation. The wealthy will have access to water, and the poor will pay more for water of questionable quality. From Flint residents using bottled water and paying high water utility rates, to the poor in South Africa waiting in line for their allocation of water — inequity is everywhere.

Water Inequity Requires Global Action — Now.

These troubling scenarios beg the obvious question: What to do? We do know that ongoing reports on the 'water crisis' are not going to catalyze action to address water scarcity, poor quality, access and affordability. Ensuring the human right to water feels distant at times.

We need to mobilize an ecosystem of stakeholders to be fully engaged in developing and scaling solutions. The public sector, private sector, NGOs, entrepreneurs, investors, academics and civil society must all be engaged in solving water scarcity and quality problems. Each stakeholder brings unique skills, scale and speed of impact (for example, entrepreneurs are fast but lack scale, while conversely the public sector is slow but has scale).

We also urgently need to change how we talk about water. We consistently talk about droughts happening across the globe — but what we are really dealing with is an overallocation of water due to business-as-usual practices and the impacts of climate change.

We need to democratize access to water data and actionable information. Imagine providing anyone with a smartphone the ability to know, on a real-time basis, the quality of their drinking water and actions to secure safe water. Putting this information in the hands of civil society instead or solely relying on centralized regulatory agencies and utilities will change public policies.

Will Sarni is the founder and CEO of Water Foundry.

Note: This post also appears on the World Economic Forum.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Circle of Blue.

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