200+ Groups Demand Senate Kill Bill That Would Pour 'Fuel on Fire of Climate Crisis'
By Julia Conley
More than 200 national climate action groups on Thursday demanded that the Senate stop the passage of a bill that would serve to keep both Europe and the U.S. dependent on fossil fuels for decades to come — as millions around the world have marched in recent months to demand that governments rapidly shift away from carbon-emitting energy sources.
Passed by the House in March, the European Energy Security and Diversification Act of 2019 (S. 704) would provide billions of dollars in support for natural gas infrastructure projects, propping up fossil fuel industries and leading to fracking projects in the U.S. — undercutting the goals of climate campaigners who are demanding that all industrialized countries move toward renewable energy systems.
S. 704 would lock "both the United States and Europe into decades of continued fossil fuel dependence under the guise of national security," said Food and Water Watch, which organized the letter signed by groups including the Sunrise Movement, 350.org, Greenpeace, Oil Change U.S. and Friends of the Earth.
"At a time when we should be leading the global mission to rapidly quit fossil fuels, the notion of seeking new and deeper fossil fuel codependence between America and Europe is patently absurd," Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food and Water Watch, said.
The legislation is now under consideration in the Senate, with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) sponsoring the bill along with five bipartisan co-sponsors.
Murphy and other proponents say the bill would counter Russia's influence over energy production in Eastern Europe, but climate campaigners warned against using the fossil fuel sector, which releases millions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year, to push Russian President Vladimir Putin out of European energy markets is a short-sighted solution.
"This bill would undermine its own stated cause," said Collin Rees, senior campaigner at Oil Change U.S., in a statement. "Using fossil fuels for energy diplomacy increases global tensions and decreases our national security by pouring fuel on the fire of the climate crisis. Research clearly shows that existing fossil fuel development — including gas development — contains more carbon than the world can afford to burn."
While U.S. funding of fossil fuel projects in Europe may drive down Russian influence for now, the groups wrote, it would also exacerbate water scarcity, food shortages, and rising sea levels — all "geopolitical threats" in their own right.
Contrary to its name, they added, the European Energy Security and Diversification Act would do little to promote the safety and security of the U.S.
"The underlying logic of this legislation is deeply flawed," the letter reads. "Far from securing a more stable world, expanding exports of liquefied natural gas to Europe will lead to a more unstable world."
"Whatever the geopolitics, sending more deadly fossil fuels to Europe or any other part of the world is not the answer," said Bill Snape of the Center for Biological Diversity. "Natural gas is fool's gold and will inevitably lead to further destabilization of any region that relies upon it."
The legislation is being pushed just as children and adults around the world are months into a global climate action campaign which has begun to make strides in the European Union and Great Britain. Eight European countries this week unveiled a proposal to spend a quarter of the EU's budget to combat climate change, fulfilling a commitment European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker made to climate action leader Greta Thunberg earlier this year, while the U.K. Parliament declared a climate emergency last week under pressure from the international movement Extinction Rebellion.
"Climate science is clear: We must begin an aggressive global transition to clean, renewable energy now," said Hauter. "For the Senate to promote the opposite would be a clear abdication of moral duty to current and future generations in this country and every country."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
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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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