Exxon Cleared in Court of Lying to Investors About Climate Change
A judge in New York's Supreme Court sided with Exxon in a case that accused the fossil fuel giant of lying to investors about the true cost of the climate crisis. The judge did not absolve Exxon from its contribution to the climate crisis, but insisted that New York State failed to prove that the company intentionally defrauded investors, as NPR reported.
In fact, the judge seemed to lay the groundwork that Exxon could face litigation for its role in contributing to the climate crisis.
"Nothing in this opinion is intended to absolve ExxonMobil from responsibility for contributing to climate change through the emission of greenhouse gasses in the production of its fossil fuel products," wrote Justice Barry Ostrager of the New York State Supreme Court, as NPR reported. But, he added, "this is a securities fraud case, not a climate change case."
The case that New York State built took four years of investigations and millions of pages of internal documents, including emails from Exxon's former CEO and Trump's first Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The case sought a penalty of $476 million to $1.6 billion to be returned to shareholders for the alleged fraud. As EcoWatch reported, the state alleged that Exxon kept two sets of numbers to assess the risk it faced from the climate crisis — one set, showing less vulnerability, was presented to investors, while another showing a more accurate risk assessment was kept by the company.
As The New York Times reported, the judge seemed particularly engaged in Tillerson's testimony, but unimpressed and impatient with New York State's presentation of its case throughout the 12 days of the trial.
"We provided our investors with accurate information on the risks of climate change," Exxon said in a statement, according to the AP. "Lawsuits that waste millions of dollars of taxpayer money do nothing to advance meaningful actions that reduce the risks of climate change."
New York Attorney General Letitia James touted the lawsuit for what it did accomplish.
"For the first time in history, Exxon Mobil was compelled to answer publicly for their internal decisions that misled investors," James said in a statement, as The New York Times reported. She added, "Despite this decision, we will continue to fight to ensure companies are held responsible for actions that undermine and jeopardize the financial health and safety of Americans across our country, and we will continue to fight to end climate change."
Scientists and environmental activists insisted that Exxon and other fossil fuel companies will one day have to answer for their contribution to the climate crisis.
"Exxon and its friends will eventually have to take responsibility for the decades of deception about knowingly contributing to climate change," said Vicky Wyatt, senior climate campaigner at Greenpeace USA, in a statement reported by CNN. "The people will not stop. We're seeing a wave of frontline communities, political leaders and investors demanding accountability and bold action as climate impacts worsen and become costlier."
The Union of Concerned Scientists also said that this will not deter people from holding the fossil fuel industry accountable. "The fossil fuel industry's day of reckoning will come," said group President Ken Kimmell, adding that several other lawsuits continue, as the AP reported.
The Massachusetts attorney general filed a similar lawsuit in October that accused Exxon of misleading both consumers and investors for decades about the contribution fossil fuels made to the climate crisis, as Reuters reported.
Additionally, Rhode Island, Baltimore and about a dozen local governments have filed suits against several oil and gas companies, claiming that the companies created a public nuisance by adding so significantly to the climate crisis. The lawsuits ask the companies to pay for seawalls and other infrastructure designed to protect municipalities from climate crisis-induced extreme weather and rising sea levels, according to Reuters.
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Returning the ‘Three Sisters’ – Corn, Beans and Squash – to Native American Farms Nourishes People, Land and Cultures
By Christina Gish Hill
Historians know that turkey and corn were part of the first Thanksgiving, when Wampanoag peoples shared a harvest meal with the pilgrims of Plymouth plantation in Massachusetts. And traditional Native American farming practices tell us that squash and beans likely were part of that 1621 dinner too.
Abundant Harvests<p>Historically, Native people throughout the Americas bred indigenous plant varieties specific to the growing conditions of their homelands. They selected seeds for many different traits, such as <a href="https://emergencemagazine.org/story/corn-tastes-better/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">flavor, texture and color</a>.</p><p>Native growers knew that planting corn, beans, squash and sunflowers together produced mutual benefits. Corn stalks created a trellis for beans to climb, and beans' twining vines secured the corn in high winds. They also certainly observed that corn and bean plants growing together tended to be healthier than when raised separately. Today we know the reason: Bacteria living on bean plant roots pull nitrogen – an essential plant nutrient – from the air and <a href="http://www.tilthalliance.org/learn/resources-1/almanac/october/octobermngg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">convert it to a form that both beans and corn can use</a>.</p><p>Squash plants contributed by shading the ground with their broad leaves, preventing weeds from growing and retaining water in the soil. Heritage squash varieties also had spines that discouraged deer and raccoons from visiting the garden for a snack. And sunflowers planted around the edges of the garden created a natural fence, protecting other plants from wind and animals and attracting pollinators.</p><p>Interplanting these agricultural sisters produced bountiful harvests that sustained large Native communities and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/eam.2015.0016" target="_blank">spurred fruitful trade economies</a>. The first Europeans who reached the Americas were shocked at the abundant food crops they found. My research is exploring how, 200 years ago, Native American agriculturalists around the Great Lakes and along the Missouri and Red rivers fed fur traders with their diverse vegetable products.</p>
Displaced From the Land<p>As Euro-Americans settled permanently on the most fertile North American lands and acquired seeds that Native growers had carefully bred, they imposed policies that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr/87.2.550" target="_blank">made Native farming practices impossible</a>. In 1830 President Andrew Jackson signed the <a href="https://guides.loc.gov/indian-removal-act" target="_blank">Indian Removal Act</a>, which made it official U.S. policy to force Native peoples from their home locations, pushing them onto subpar lands.</p><p>On reservations, U.S. government officials discouraged Native women from cultivating anything larger than small garden plots and pressured Native men to practice Euro-American style monoculture. Allotment policies assigned small plots to nuclear families, further limiting Native Americans' access to land and preventing them from using communal farming practices.</p><p>Native children were forced to attend boarding schools, where they had no opportunity to <a href="https://doi.org/10.5749/jamerindieduc.57.1.0145" target="_blank">learn Native agriculture techniques or preservation and preparation of Indigenous foods</a>. Instead they were forced to eat Western foods, turning their palates away from their traditional preferences. Taken together, these policies <a href="https://kansaspress.ku.edu/978-0-7006-0802-7.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">almost entirely eradicated three sisters agriculture</a> from Native communities in the Midwest by the 1930s.</p>
Reviving Native Agriculture<p>Today Native people all over the U.S. are working diligently to <a href="https://www.oupress.com/books/15107980/indigenous-food-sovereignty-in-the-united-sta" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reclaim Indigenous varieties of corn, beans, squash, sunflowers and other crops</a>. This effort is important for many reasons.</p><p>Improving Native people's access to healthy, culturally appropriate foods will help lower rates of <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/aian-diabetes/index.html" target="_blank">diabetes</a> and <a href="https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/native-american/obesity" target="_blank">obesity</a>, which affect Native Americans at disproportionately high rates. Sharing traditional knowledge about agriculture is a way for elders to pass cultural information along to younger generations. Indigenous growing techniques also protect the lands that Native nations now inhabit, and can potentially benefit the wider ecosystems around them.</p>
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jake Johnson
Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.
Anger, anxiety, overwhelm … climate change can evoke intense feelings.
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An extremely rare North Atlantic right whale calf was found dead off the North Carolina coast on Friday.
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By Andrea Germanos
A new report released Tuesday details the "shocking" state of global land equality, saying the problem is worse than thought, rising, and "cannot be ignored."
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