Time’s Up for California AG Becerra to Investigate #ExxonKnew and Prove He’s a Real Climate Leader
By May Boeve
With Trump and fossil fuel executives in the White House, any shot of powerful and lasting protections for our climate and communities will come from our cities and states. That's why it's so troubling that in California, one of the most progressive places in the U.S., current state Attorney General Xavier Becerra is failing to stand up to ExxonMobil and its ilk.
Executives at companies like Exxon knew everything there was to know about climate change as far back as the 1970s, but chose to spend the last half a century sowing doubt and confusion. Exxon's own Rex Tillerson is now U.S. secretary of state, even following revelations that he used the secret alias "Wayne Tracker" to cover up all things climate change while serving as the corporation's CEO. And while the rich get richer, it's our communities—especially low-income communities and communities of color—who bear the impacts of this dangerous deception.
2017 was a year of unprecedented federal regression and climate devastation: from Trump backing out of the Paris agreement and hellscape wildfires engulfing California, to Hurricane Maria ripping through Puerto Rico, shedding light on existing inequities previously swept under the rug. It was also a year of resistance and uprising, as it became clearer than ever that these weren't isolated events, but rather perpetuated and worsened by fossil-fueled greed.
Now, people are rising up to hold corporate executives to account for the climate destruction they've caused. The attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts are showing tremendous leadership in their unyielding investigations into what could be the worst case of corporate fraud in history. Is California going to really sit back and force New York and Massachusetts to take on Exxon alone?
As Becerra and elected officials meet and discuss strategies to tackle climate change, launching an investigation into all that Exxon knew is Xavier Becerra's opportunity to prove he's a real climate champion.
This is far from the first time AG Becerra has been urged to investigate Exxon. Local organizers and national groups delivered more than 70,000 petition signatures calling for an investigation last April. In January, more than 30 national and local organizations from labor unions to environmental organizations signed a letter to Becerra ramping up the call. Even the Los Angeles Times editorial board has urged him to move on an Exxon probe.
Years of research on greenhouse gas emissions revealed that just 90 companies are responsible for two-thirds of major greenhouse gas pollution. Even more staggering, just eight companies are responsible for 20 percent of global carbon emissions since the Industrial Revolution.
This, as head of the Center for International Environmental Law Carroll Muffett explained, "for the first time identifies a discrete class of defendants" in the fight against climate change. This blows away any legitimacy of the falsification that if everyone is responsible, no one is. We know who is responsible: fossil fuel executives and their bought-and-paid-for political allies.
Climate litigation is emerging as a major strategy to recover costs from the fossil fuel billionaires who caused the climate crisis. As cities and counties across California step up in holding Exxon accountable, Xavier Becerra drags his feet.
The growing list of climate lawsuits includes San Francisco and Oakland suing Exxon, Chevron, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, ConocoPhillips; and San Mateo and Marin counties and the city of Imperial Beach suing 37 companies. Beyond California, New York City; Paris, France; Boulder, Colorado, and more are joining the fight around lawsuits against major oil companies.
Make no mistake, executives at companies like ExxonMobil and Chevron are trying every trick to fight these lawsuits, going so far as to point fingers and sue other fossil fuel companies. That's like Philip Morris executives claiming it doesn't matter that they lied about the dangers of smoking because they weren't the only ones to do so.
In failing to take on Exxon's climate deception, Xavier Becerra stands to undercut California's vaunted leadership in global efforts to combat climate change. To build the fossil free world that works for all of us, we must use all of our tools to hold accountable those who have profited most from this destruction, in our legal system and in the court of public opinion.
With September's Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco on the horizon, AG Becerra must stand with the people he's meant to represent and hold the likes of Exxon accountable.
ExxonMobil’s Climate Disinformation Campaign Is Still Alive and Well https://t.co/mYHneWhVIx @Public_Citizen @DeSmogBlog— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1518473710.0
Reposted with permission from our media associate 350.org.
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Where Does the Deficiency Begin?<p>Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. The question of when a deficiency starts is correspondingly controversial. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular.Not only is the pseudo-scientific literature on the "sun vitamin" experiencing an upswing, but the number of published studies has also increased enormously in recent years. For example, in 2019 <a href="https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/40/4/1109/5126915" target="_blank">a study found that</a> Vitamin D is responsible for keeping the skeleton functional and is associated with cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer. <br></p>
An All-Rounder<p>Vitamin D levels in the body rise and fall according to sun exposure. If sufficient UV rays reach the skin, the body is able to produce the vitamin itself. However, the human body only derives an estimated 10 to 20 percent of its daily requirement from food.</p><p>The vitamin D that we synthesize from sunlight or food is not biologically active at first. Before the kidneys can produce the biologically active form of the vitamin, known as calcitriol, and release it into the blood, some metabolic processes must take place beforehand.</p><p>In addition, many organs have receptors to which the precursor of calcitriol binds. Further, this substance is also present in blood.</p><p>From this precursor, the organs then produce calcitriol themselves, which the body then uses for countless other processes in the body. This form of vitamin D thus regulates insulin secretion, inhibits tumor growth, and promotes the formation of red blood cells as well as the survival and activity of macrophages, which are important for the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/7/2502/htm" target="_blank">immune system.</a></p>
Low Vitamin D, Severe COVID-19 Disease?<p>A research study carried out <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352364620300067?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">at the University of Hohenheim</a> has now established a link between vitamin D deficiency, certain previous diseases, and severe cases of COVID-19.</p><p>According to the study, "there is a lot of evidence that several non-communicable diseases (high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome) are associated with low vitamin D plasma levels. These comorbidities, together with the often accompanying vitamin D deficiency, increase the risk of severe COVID-19 events."</p><p>"This statement is completely correct," said Martin Fassnacht, head of endocrinology at the University Hospital of Würzburg. However, he qualifies that it is a pure association, "i.e. a mere observation that these events occur together.</p><p>Dr. Fassnacht is very critical of the hype surrounding vitamin D, but not because he denies the vitamin serves important functions. However, studies on humans have not been able to show that vitamin D has the healing powers many often propagate.</p><p>Fassnacht says, "If you take a closer look, the hopes that the administration of vitamin D has a healing effect have not been confirmed so far."</p>
Association Versus Intervention Studies<p>Many studies on the vitamin are association or observational studies. "By definition, these studies cannot prove the causal relationship, but only point to mere correlations," said Fassnacht. The physician tries to illustrate this with an example:</p><p>"Imagine two groups of 80-year-olds. One group is spry, active and does sports. If you compare them with another group living in nursing homes, the difference in vitamin D levels will be dramatic. Life expectancy would also be extremely different."</p><p>But to try to explain the difference in fitness by vitamin D status alone is far too simplistic. "Vitamin D levels are a good measure of how sick someone is. But not more," says Fassnacht. </p><p>According to Fassnacht, none of the intervention studies carried out to date -- that specifically examined the effect of vitamin D on various diseases -- has been able to confirm the previous association and laboratory studies or the presumed positive effect of vitamin D.</p>
Further Research Is Needed<p>"If a coronavirus infection is suspected, it is therefore absolutely necessary to check the vitamin D status and quickly correct any possible deficit," said the recommendation of the paper published by the University of Hohenheim.</p><p>"Studies are underway to see whether vitamin D helps in COVID-19 infection, but I personally do not believe that this is really the case," says endocrinologist Fassnacht. Nevertheless, he says it is of course useful to carry out these studies.<br></p><p>"I don't want to rule out that there are actually subgroups of people who benefit from an additional vitamin D dose," he says. After all, this has been proven to be the case with a severe deficit.</p><p>In view of the study situation, Fassnacht does not think much of preventive, nationwide vitamin D substitutes. "My belief that the vitamin helps somewhere is very low. But, of course, I can be wrong."</p>
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