Democrats' Climate Crisis Town Hall Lasted 7 Hours
For the first time, Democratic contenders for President participated in a town hall solely focused on the climate crisis. For more than seven hours last night, 10 candidates fielded questions from an audience of Democratic voters and from CNN's moderators.
After a summer of record heat waves, wildfires and ice melt, and on the heels of Hurricane Dorian stalling over the Bahamas and dropping record rainfall, there were no longer softball questions about whether or not human-induced climate change is real. Instead, questions touched on many aspects of environmental damage, not just from coal and cars, but also from farming, industry, human migration, adaptation, deforestation, trade, the food system and the racial and economic divide in the face of a changing climate, amongst several other topics.
Throughout the night, the candidates faced some straight forward questions from the moderators about light bulbs and plastic straws; the tough questions came from young people in the audience, as The New York Times pointed out. In fact, one of the questions seemed to rattle former Vice President Joe Biden.
"How can we trust you to hold these corporations and executives accountable for their crimes against humanity when we know that tomorrow you are holding a high-dollar fund-raiser hosted by Andrew Goldman, a fossil fuel executive?" asked Isaac Larsen, a 27-year-old Ph.D. candidate at Northwestern.
Biden then used an outsized portion of his 40-minutes to explain away his connections to Andrew Goldman, a co-founder of a liquid natural gas company. Biden was also asked by a 19-year-old how her generation can trust him to prioritize their future over big business.
A high school student asked Julian Castro why he should be trusted when he supported fracking as mayor of San Antonio. Similarly, a college student asked Amy Klobuchar if she could actually stand up to the beef and dairy industry when they have so much influence in government and, in particular, Minnesota, which she represents in the Senate.
https://t.co/xCe6YrKpiZ— darien DignityRespectKindness (DRK) (@darien DignityRespectKindness (DRK))1567642478.0
Several of the candidates took exception to the questions that the moderators asked as too simplistic and too much an echo of conservative talking points. For example, being asked if the US should rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, Sen. Cory Booker bristled, ""I'm sorry. That is, like, a cost of entry even to run for president or talk about the presidency."
Elizabeth Warren was exasperated by Chris Cuomo's question about whether the government should regulate light bulb uses. She pointed out that it is a conservative talking point to the put the onus on the consumer rather than polluting industries, as Mother Jones reported.
"Oh come on, give me a break," Warren said to Cuomo. "This is exactly what the fossil fuel industry wants us to be talking about. That's what they want us to talk about: This is your problem."
And, when Sen. Bernie Sanders was asked by Anderson Cooper if he would reinstate the light bulb requirement, he simply answered, "Duh!"
Some other notable moments came from Andrew Yang who offered creative solutions and knew how much of a carbon-tax he would like to levy. He also championed changing the calculation of gross domestic product to include environmental factors. "Let's upgrade it with a new score card that includes our environmental sustainability and our goals," he said.
Sen. Kamala Harris said she would direct the Department of Justice to investigate oil and gas companies whose practices "are causing harm and death in communities. And there has been no accountability," she said.
Sanders boasted about his $16 trillion spending plan as the most serious approach to a mounting crisis. "We are fighting for the survival of the planet Earth, our only planet. How is this not a major priority?" Sanders asked during the town hall.
Sanders also unequivocally opposed nuclear power plants. "It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me to add more dangerous waste to this country and the world when we don't know how to get rid of what we have now," he said, as the The New York Times reported.
That differed from several other candidates. Both Andrew Yang and Sen. Booker championed nuclear power as a necessary ingredient for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 plan. Harris worried about waste, but said she would leave it up to the states to decide, according to the The New York Times.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
Green groups applauded Sen. Jeff Merkley on Wednesday for introducing a pioneering pair of bills that aim to "protect the long-term health and well-being of the American people and their economy from the catastrophic effects of climate chaos" by preventing banks and international financial institutions from financing fossil fuels.