Hurricane Harvey Is a Horrible Reminder of the Cost We Pay for Climate Denial
By Ryan Schleeter
The equivalent of half of Houston's annual average rainfall has fallen in the last 48 hours; 80,000 households are without electricity; Houston emergency services have received almost 6,000 urgent appeals for rescues; 54 Texas counties have been declared state disaster areas; thousands of people are displaced or in shelters; five people have died.
And climate change is making it all worse.
This is Houston. I-45 is flooded. https://t.co/X0mSeQTT8c— Suvro Banerji (@Suvro Banerji)1503838328.0
While we cannot say definitively that climate change caused Hurricane Harvey, science tells us with confidence that it has increased the impact of the flooding and heightened the intensity of the storm.
But this shouldn't come as a surprise. For many years, scientists have warned that our continued reliance on fossil fuels will lead to bigger and more devastating storms.
It's also abundantly clear that coastal Texas and the wider Gulf region (which has seen this kind of event before), are on the frontlines of sea level rise and extreme weather heightened by climate change. And Houston in particular—with its slate of oil, gas, and chemical refineries owned by companies like Exxon and Shell—faces the additional risk of toxic petrochemical chemical spills into nearby communities.
We expect to see flares, or "upsets" like this one at #TX PetroChemical (TPC) during #HurricaneHarvery #Harvey… https://t.co/1D6Tvrzr3I— t.e.j.a.s. (@t.e.j.a.s.)1503792798.0
When disasters like Harvey strike, those standing in the way of climate action must answer to the victims.
That means we're looking at you, Greg Abbott. The Texas governor has been on record for years denying the science of climate change, stating that scientists disagree (they don't) and that their findings "need to continue to be investigated" (not really). He also sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over the Clean Power Plan, President Obama's initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
There's also Ted Cruz, the Texas senator so committed to discrediting climate science he once convened a Senate hearing on the issue and filled his panel with "scientists" paid by the fossil fuel industry.
And we can't forget Lamar Smith, who represents Texas's 21st congressional district. As chairman of the House Science Committee, he subpoenaed eight environmental groups—including Greenpeace—for calling on officials to investigate Exxon's history of climate denial.
But this goes beyond Texas—we're also looking at you, Donald Trump. Not only is Trump a unapologetic climate denier who has spent his time in office dismantling every climate protection activists have won in recent years, he also rolled back an Obama-era rule that required new infrastructure to be built with climate resiliency in mind (flood protection, specifically).
How you can support the victims of Hurricane Harvey.
In the long run, helping those impacted by extreme weather events means holding big polluters—like Exxon—and climate deniers—like Trump, Cruz, Abbot and Smith—accountable. Only a just transition away from fossil fuels and toward a clean energy economy can soften the impact of the next superstorm to come our way.
But right now, folks on the ground need your immediate support as they deal with power outages, continued flooding, and overcrowded shelters.
Concerned about #HarveyRelief? Want to give to #AJustHarveyRecovery? Start here: https://t.co/wDpTQSuWC3 (plans are in the works for more)— BridgeTheGulf (@BridgeTheGulf)1503948392.0
Giving money? Consider donating to a local relief effort. Want to give supplies? There are supply drives for items like water and basic hygiene products across Louisiana and the Gulf. Looking for other ways to donate your time? Use this guide from our friends at Another Gulf Is Possible to find more ways you can support.
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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