Coming on the heels of last week's announcement to abandon the Paris climate accord, a group of leading national social change organizations announced Tuesday that they are divesting funds from "pipeline banks" and instead banking in alignment with their values. This growing international movement represents the next wave of institutions and individuals refusing to do business with banks financing risky fossil fuel infrastructure projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), Keystone XL, Trans Mountain and others.
The 15 U.S.-based organizations represent more than 13 million combined supporters. These groups have either already moved organizational money out of banks that finance DAPL and/or other tar sands pipelines, are in the process of doing so or never held an account in such banks in the first place. They currently, or will soon, use banks that they consider more socially responsible in principle and practice.
The groups include: 350.org, Climate Hawks Vote, CREDO, Earth Guardians, Friends of the Earth, Green America, Honor the Earth, Institute for Policy Studies, League of Conservation Voters, The Hip Hop Caucus, Oil Change International, Potlach Fund, Rainforest Action Network, Sierra Club and the U.S. Climate Action Network (USCAN).
"Shifting investments away from fossil fuels can help banks improve not just their social license but their bottom line—investments in clean, renewable energy have proven to be a boon to both our economy and our environment," Lena Moffitt, senior director of the Sierra Club's Our Wild America Campaign, said. "The people are watching where and what banks sink their funds into, and they will not back down until every last one commits to investing in a future that benefits their communities, their economies and their health."
According to Shorting the Climate, a report documenting big bank support for fossil fuel infrastructure, the top global and U.S. banks provided $785 billion for fossil fuel infrastructure such as coal and tar sands development from 2013 through 2015. Advocates are taking action to ensure that banks do not continue to finance and lock in infrastructure that will push the world past the Paris climate agreement objectives.
"Now, more than ever, organizations and individuals are waking up to the troubling reality of what their banks are supporting with their money," Vanessa Green, campaign director for DivestInvest Individual, said. "It's time for everyone to invest in our future and divest from projects and businesses that harm our environment. If our President won't do the right thing, then we all need to step up and do it ourselves."
After recent bank protests and a burning global spotlight, several banks have dropped investments in DAPL or have committed, as U.S. Bank recently did, to revisit their financing of future fossil fuel projects threatening Indigenous sovereignty, water and land. But as one form or other of bank financing continues for existing and proposed pipelines, efforts to defund them continue.
"For too long decision-makers have put the profit of polluters over the lives of real people," Mustafa Santiago Ali, senior vice president of Climate, Environmental Justice & Community Revitalization for the Hip Hop Caucus, said. "Divesting in those who support those decision-makers and polluters is a way we are fighting back."
Last month, a coalition of grassroots Indigenous groups from across Turtle Island and 121 First Nations and Tribes of the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion launched an expanded pipeline divestment campaign. With a focus on 17 primary target banks, they call on "individuals, businesses, organizations and governments to withdraw their money from these banks" until they stop financing Enbridge, Kinder Morgan and TransCanada, the companies behind the Dakota Access Pipeline and four proposed new tar sands pipelines projects. The Mazaska (Money) Talks campaign and aligned public petition are catalyzing account closures—currently over $3.6 billion—to tally the business lost due to the banks' continued involvement.
"Divestment has been a hugely successful tactic in confronting the global climate crisis and is now shining a bright light on the assaults on the sovereignty, land and water of First Nations people perpetuated by fossil fuel billionaires and their dirty pipelines," Jenny Marienau, U.S. campaigns director at 350.org, said. "Just this May during 350.org's Global Divestment Mobilization, thousands of people attended over 260 events in 45 countries on six continents to put pressure on institutions to break their financial ties with fossil fuel companies."
Most major banks are invested in fossil fuel companies and infrastructure projects like pipelines, refineries and export terminals, among other risky industries. A growing number of online resources exist to help account holders identify alternatives like small and medium-sized banks, credit unions, CDCUs and CDFIs that support a clean and equitable energy transition, local economic development, fair housing, sustainable food systems and more.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jeff Masters, Ph.D.
Tropical Storm Josephine Also No Threat to Land<p>Meanwhile, the season's record-earliest tenth named storm, Tropical Storm Josephine, was also struggling with high wind shear as it traced out a path over the open ocean.</p><p>At 5 a.m. EDT Saturday, Josephine was located about 310 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands, moving west-northwest at 15 mph with top sustained winds at 45 mph. Josephine is expected to bring one to three inches of rain over portions of the northern Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico over the weekend. Josephine will encounter steadily rising wind shear through Monday, peaking at a very high 30 – 35 knots. This high shear is likely to destroy Josephine's circulation by Monday, before the storm can affect any other land areas.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2020/08/tropical-storm-kyle-forms-unlikely-to-affect-land/" target="_blank">Yale Climate Connections</a>. </em><em></em></p>
By Ute Eberle
In May 2017, shells started washing up along the Ligurian coast in Italy. They were small and purple and belonged to a snail called Janthina pallida that is rarely seen on land. But the snails kept coming — so many that entire stretches of the beach turned pastel.
The Ligurian coast has been swept by snails turning its color pastel.
A World Between Worlds<p>The neuston comprises a multitude of weird and wonderful creatures. </p><p>Many, like the Portuguese man-of-war, which paralyzes its prey with venomous tentacles up to 30 meters long, are colored an electric shade of blue, possibly to protect themselves against the sun's UV rays, or as camouflages against predators.</p><p>There are also by-the-wind sailors, flattish creatures that raise chitin shields from the water like sails; slugs known as sea dragons that cling to the water's surface from below with webbed appendages; barnacles that build bubble rafts as big as dinner plates; and the world's only marine insects, a relation of the pond skater.</p><p>They live "between the worlds" of the sea and sky, as Federico Betti, a marine biologist at the University of Genoa, puts it. From below, predators lurk. From above, the sun burns. Winds and waves toss them about. Depending on the weather, their environment may be warm or cool, salty or less so.</p>
Sea snails can make up the neuston.
Velella velella jellyfish living on the surface of the ocean.<p>But now, they face another — manmade — threat from nets designed to catch trash. A project called <a href="https://theoceancleanup.com/" target="_blank">The Ocean Cleanup</a>, run by Dutch inventor Boyan Slat, has raised millions of dollars in donations and sponsorship to deploy long barriers with nets that will drift across the ocean in open loops to sweep up floating garbage. </p>
Collecting With the Current<p>"Plastic could outweigh fish in the oceans by 2050. To us, that future is unacceptable," <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/green-entrepreneur-sets-sights-on-great-pacific-garbage-patch/a-38855785" target="_blank">The Ocean Cleanup</a> declares on its website.</p><p>But Rebecca Helm, a marine biologist at the University of North Carolina, and one of the few scientists to study this ecosystem, fears that The Ocean Cleanup's proposal to remove 90% of the plastic trash from the water could also virtually wipe out the neuston.</p><p>One focus of Helm's studies is where these organisms congregate. "There are places that are very, very concentrated and areas of little concentration, and we're trying to figure out why," says Helm.</p><p>One factor is that the neuston floats with ocean currents, and Helm worries that it might collect in the exact same spots as marine plastic pollution. "Our initial data show that regions with high concentrations of plastic are also regions with high concentrations of life."</p>
Waste collection in the Pacific Ocean heralded by The Ocean Cleanup.<p>The Ocean Cleanup says Helm's concerns are based on "misguided assumptions."</p><p>"It's true that neustonic organisms will be trapped in the barriers," says Gerhard Herndl, professor of Aquatic Biology at the University of Vienna and one of project's scientific advisors. "But these organisms have dangerous lives. They're adapted to high losses because they get washed ashore in storms and they have high reproductive rates. If they didn't, they'd already be extinct."</p><p>Helm says they just don't know how quickly these creatures reproduce, and in any case recovering from passing storm is very different from surviving The Ocean Clean Up's systems which could be in place for years.</p>
Communication Breakdown<p>The Ocean Cleanup invited Helm to a symposium on the topic in December, where both sides presented their points of views and didn't seem to find much common ground. Since then, direct communication between them has stopped, says Helm. "They're not interested in talking to me anymore."</p><p>Both sides agree that much is still unknown about the neuston. But one thing that has been established is that most of the oceans' fish spend part of their lifecycle in the neuston. "More than 90% of marine fish species produce floating eggs that persist on the surface until hatching," Betti says.</p><p>The Ocean Cleanup has undertaken one of the few studies into this ecosystem, collecting data on the neuston on the relative abundance of neuston and floating plastic debris in the eastern North Pacific Ocean during a 2019 expedition to the Pacific Garbage Patch, an area where plastic pollution has accumulated on a vast scale. But it is not yet sharing what it has found. The information was being prepared for publication in an as of yet unspecified journal, probably some time next year, an Ocean Cleanup spokesperson said. </p>
Inshore Solution?<p>Helm believes the best way to tackle the marine plastic problem would be to position the barriers closer to land — across river mouths and bays — to catch garbage before it reaches the sea.</p><p>"Stopping the flow of plastic into the ocean is the most cost-effective — and literally effective — way to ensure that it's not entering our environment," she says. </p><p>As for the plastic already floating in open waters, she does not believe it is worth sacrificing parts of neuston and wants to see more research first. </p><p>The Ocean Cleanup has made barriers across rivers a part of its mission. But it is also going ahead with its original vision of pulling trash from the open water. In late 2018, the project deployed a 600-meter, u-shaped prototype net into the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/environment-conservation-plastic-oceans/a-54436603" target="_blank">Great Pacific Garbage Patch</a>. </p><p>The system ran into difficulties, failing to retain plastic as hoped, and needing to be brought shore for repairs and a design upgrade, after which Ocean Cleanup says it gathered haul of plastic that it will recycle and resell to help fund future operations.</p><p>Over the next two years, the project hopes to deploy up to 60 such barriers to collect drifting flotsam. Helm isn't the only one concerned about these plans.</p><p><span></span>"We should think twice about every action we take in the sea," Betti says. "In nature, nothing is as easy as we think, and often, we've done a lot of damage while trying to do a good thing."</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/environment-conservation-plastic-oceans/a-54436603" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.<a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2646992655#/" target="_self"></a></em><em></em></p>
By Hope Dickens
Molly Craig's day begins with feeding hungry baby birds at 6 a.m. The birds need to be fed every 15 minutes until 7 at night. If she's not feeding them, other staff at the Fox Valley Wildlife Center in Elburn, Illinois take turns helping the hungry orphans.
By Douglas Broom
"Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people," said former U.S. president, Franklin Roosevelt.
So the FAO is using Twitter to remind the world of these five hidden benefits of forests.
A Michigan bald eagle proved that nature can still triumph over machines when it attacked and drowned a nearly $1,000 government drone.
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