For Peace and Justice, Secretary Kerry Must Reject Keystone XL
By Jeff Cobb and Lauren Berlekamp
During the Vietnam War, as a Vietnam War veteran, John Kerry led from the frontlines as he protested the war, “I'm not doing this for any violent reasons, but for peace and justice, and to try and make this country wake up once and for all.” During his anti-war testimony before the U.S. Senate, he said, “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”
Now as Secretary of State, history calls upon Kerry again to lead from the frontlines in the "war" against climate change, by advising President Obama to deny the Keystone XL pipeline permit. If Keystone XL is approved, scientists say it will be "game over for the climate" and we will not survive the resulting catastrophic, apocalyptic climate change. Teetering on the brink of runaway permafrost melt already, the tar sands will take us over the edge, unleashing an unstoppable tsunami of greenhouse gases two to 10 times those already emitted, as the permafrost melts.
Considering his trusted advice will directly influence the President's final decision, the question Secretary John Kerry should be asking himself is, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die on the Earth due to climate change? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for the mistake of approving Keystone XL?"
Today, a coalition of 26 environmental, religious and public interest groups sent a letter to Secretary Kerry asking him to throw out the State Department’s environmental review of the proposed tar sands pipeline, which was released shortly after he was appointed. The coalition is also calling for Environmental Resources Management (ERM), the consulting firm in charge of the review, to be banned from future federal contracts for lying about direct conflicts of interest, including working for TransCanada, the company planning the pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to Texas.
"The public expects the State Department to perform a transparent and independent review of this project’s impacts on the environment and the global climate before the decision reaches President Obama’s desk," the groups said. "It is critical that the report on which the administration’s decision will rely on be free of any taint of impropriety or conflict of interest."
Earlier this month, after a Freedom of Information Act request revealed that the State Department was unaware of the pipeline's exact route, a State Department spokeswoman also admitted to Postmedia News of Canada that their office did not try to verify whether ERM was telling the truth when it certified that it had no business ties to TransCanada.
- Fire ERM and disqualify it from future federal contracts.
- Start the environmental review process over with a new contractor that complies with the Federal Acquisition Regulation regarding conflicts of interest.
- Order an inspector general's investigation to determine "how a contractor with clear conflicts of interest was allowed to write the U.S. government's assessment of Keystone XL, and why the State Department has so far failed to bring those conflicts of interest to light."
Secretary Kerry must lead once again, "for peace and justice, and to try to make this country wake up once and for all" to the dangers of runaway climate change, and advise President Obama to deny the Keystone XL permit.
Visit EcoWatch’s KEYSTONE XL page for more related news on this topic.
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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