Jane Fonda Says Bernie Sanders Is the Only Climate Candidate
By Jessica Corbett
Octogenarian actor and activist Jane Fonda declared ahead of a climate action protest in California Friday that the U.S. needs a "climate president" and she is now backing Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is leading a grassroots movement challenging the Democratic Party establishment coalescing around former Vice President Joe Biden.
"We have to get a climate president in office, and there's only one right now, and that's Bernie Sanders," Fonda told USA TODAY prior to the Los Angeles rally. "So, I'm indirectly saying I believe you have to support the climate candidate."
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) is technically still in the Democratic presidential primary race, but Super Tuesday effectively made it a two-person contest between Biden and Sanders (I-Vt.). USA Today noted that Fonda previously donated to Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who have since ended their campaigns.
Sanders' Green New Deal proposal to tackle the global climate crisis and ensure a just transition to renewable energy has been hailed by climate advocates as a "game-changer." The plan, unveiled in August 2019, calls for "100% renewable energy for electricity and transportation by no later than 2030 and complete decarbonization by at least 2050."
Fonda's comments about supporting Sanders came ahead of the second Fire Drill Friday event in California. In October 2019, Fonda launched Fire Drill Fridays as a weekly civil disobedience campaign in Washington, DC that aimed to pressure U.S. policymakers to ambitiously address the human-caused climate crisis.
After a few months and five arrests, Fonda returned to California to resume filming her Netflix show Grace and Frankie. She also partnered with Greenpeace USA to bring Fire Drill Fridays to the West Coast. The first monthly rally was held on Feb. 7 at City Hall in Los Angeles. The second event was Friday, in the Los Angeles Harbor area, and focused on environmental racism.
Oil sites in communities like Wilmington are not a coincidence. There's a reason we don't see them in wealthier, pr… https://t.co/mTosOnzBvi— Greenpeace USA (@Greenpeace USA)1583540179.0
With the Fire Drill Friday demonstrations, "we're protesting an existential threat that could determine the future of human life on the planet, basically," Fonda explained to USA Today.
Fonda's attorneys struck a deal with a DC judge that the 82-year-old won't face penalties or court dates for her arrests as long as she isn't arrested in Los Angeles for three months. Although she won't be risking arrest for a while, Fonda continues to demand climate action — specifically, cutting emissions by 50 percent over the next decade and phasing out fossil fuels by 2050.
"This is going to be very, very, very hard, and it requires millions and millions of people to do more than just be concerned, but to actually become activists and become willing to put their bodies on the line," Fonda said. "That's why we're doing Fire Drill Fridays."
Fonda was joined Friday by her Grace and Frankie co-stars Lily Tomlin and Sam Waterston as well as other celebrities and national and community organizers. After rallying at offices of Los Angeles City Councilmember Joe Buscaino, a group of actors and activists visited fossil fuel impact zones in the area before blockading the entrance of a Warren E&P oil extraction site. There were no arrests.
"While we're in the midst of a massive communicable health crisis across the globe, a much quieter health crisis is worsening in communities like Wilmington, California where hundreds of residents, activists, and celebrities joined me today," Fonda said in a statement Friday. "We heard powerful stories from community members who have become seriously ill simply by living in their own homes where drilling is occurring in their backyards, without their permission."
"We will be watching California leadership, specifically Councilmember Joe Busciano, who has allowed his district to become a sacrifice zone for the fossil fuel industry, and demanding they do better," Fonda promised. "We will not quiet down until our leadership decides to protect the people and our climate."
An amazing display of action and solidarity today at #FireDrillFriday — and we're not stopping! Thank you to all th… https://t.co/Jz1jQLkewm— Greenpeace USA (@Greenpeace USA)1583541303.0
Fonda's vow to hold California leadership accountable was echoed by other climate activists. Annie Leonard of Greenpeace USA called Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom to "do something for the health and and safety of communities like Wilmington, and begin a just transition away from fossil fuels for the industry's workers."
Newsom, Leonard said, "must stop issuing new permits for oil and gas projects, drop existing fossil fuel production, and roll out setback limits by creating a 2,500-foot public health and safety buffer zone between fossil fuel infrastructure like the Warren E&P sites and homes, schools, and other sensitive sites in neighborhoods like Wilmington."
As Wilmington community organizer Alicia Riveria explained:
Oil operations happen right next to our homes and schools and parks in Wilmington. People are suffering while politicians are sitting on their hands. Just last week a fire broke out at one of the refineries in our community and we had to advise residents to stay indoors and close their windows to try to mitigate toxic fumes from coming into their homes. There is environmental racism at play for frontline communities across California, and it's unacceptable.
Dr. Saba Malik of Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles and the STAND-LA Coalition said, "It's public health common sense — based on a mountain of scientific evidence — that oil production does not belong anywhere near homes, schools, or other sensitive land uses."
"So why do they remain in communities like Wilmington and South Los Angeles?" Malik added. "Because these communities are comprised overwhelmingly of people of color, lower income people with less access to adequate healthcare, resulting in an even greater risk of chronic disease and increased vulnerability to the effects of these environmental insults."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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By D. André Green II
One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.
Millions of People Care About Monarchs<p>I will never forget the sights and sounds the first time I visited monarchs' overwintering sites in Mexico. Our guide pointed in the distance to what looked like hanging branches covered with dead leaves. But then I saw the leaves flash orange every so often, revealing what were actually thousands of tightly packed butterflies. The monarchs made their most striking sounds in the Sun, when they burst from the trees in massive fluttering plumes or landed on the ground in the tussle of mating.</p><p>Decades of educational outreach by teachers, researchers and hobbyists has cultivated a generation of monarch admirers who want to help preserve this phenomenon. This global network has helped restore not only monarchs' summer breeding habitat by planting milkweed, but also general pollinator habitat by planting nectaring flowers across North America.</p><p>Scientists have calculated that restoring the monarch population to a stable level of about 120 million butterflies will require <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12198" target="_blank">planting 1.6 billion new milkweed stems</a>. And they need them fast. This is too large a target to achieve through grassroots efforts alone. A <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/CCAA.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new plan</a>, announced in the spring of 2020, is designed to help fill the gap.</p>
Pros and Cons of Regulation<p>The top-down strategy for saving monarchs gained energy in 2014, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service <a href="https://www.fws.gov/southeast/pdf/petition/monarch.pdf" target="_blank">proposed</a> listing them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A decision is expected in December 2020.</p><p>Listing a species as endangered or threatened <a href="https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf" target="_blank">triggers restrictions</a> on "taking" (hunting, collecting or killing), transporting or selling it, and on activities that negatively affect its habitat. Listing monarchs would impose restrictions on landowners in areas where monarchs are found, over vast swaths of land in the U.S.</p><p>In my opinion, this is not a reason to avoid a listing. However, a "threatened" listing might inadvertently threaten one of the best conservation tools that we have: public education.</p><p>It would severely restrict common practices, such as rearing monarchs in classrooms and back yards, as well as scientific research. Anyone who wants to take monarchs and milkweed for these purposes would have to apply for special permits. But these efforts have had a multigenerational educational impact, and they should be protected. Few public campaigns have been more successful at raising awareness of conservation issues.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="91165203d4ec0efc30e4632a00fdf57d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KilPRvjbMrA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Rescue Attempt<p>To preempt the need for this kind of regulation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved a <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/pdfs/Monarch%20CCAA-CCA%20Public%20Comment%20Documents/Monarch-Nationwide_CCAA-CCA_Draft.pdf" target="_blank">Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterflies</a>. Under this plan, "rights-of-way" landowners – energy and transportation companies and private owners – commit to restoring and creating millions of acres of pollinator habitat that have been decimated by land development and herbicide use in the past half-century.</p><p>The agreement was spearheaded by the <a href="http://rightofway.erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank">Rights-of-Way Habitat Working Group</a>, a collaboration between the University of Illinois Chicago's <a href="https://erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Energy Resources Center</a>, the Fish and Wildlife Service and over 40 organizations from the energy and transportation sectors. These sectors control "rights-of-way" corridors such as lands near power lines, oil pipelines, railroad tracks and interstates, all valuable to monarch habitat restoration.</p><p>Under the plan, partners voluntarily agree to commit a percentage of their land to host protected monarch habitat. In exchange, general operations on their land that might directly harm monarchs or destroy milkweed will not be subject to the enhanced regulation of the Endangered Species Act – protection that would last for 25 years if monarchs are listed as threatened. The agreement is expected to create up to 2.3 million acres of new protected habitat, which ideally would avoid the need for a "threatened" listing.</p>
A Model for Collaboration<p>This agreement could be one of the few specific interventions that is big enough to allow researchers to quantify its impact on the size of the monarch population. Even if the agreement produces only 20% of its 2.3 million acre goal, this would still yield nearly half a million acres of new protected habitat. This would provide a powerful test of the role of declining breeding and nectaring habitat compared to other challenges to monarchs, such as climate change or pollution.</p><p>Scientists hope that data from this agreement will be made publicly available, like projects in the <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/MCD.html" target="_blank">Monarch Conservation Database</a>, which has tracked smaller on-the-ground conservation efforts since 2014. With this information we can continue to develop powerful new models with better accuracy for determining how different habitat factors, such as the number of milkweed stems or nectaring flowers on a landscape scale, affect the monarch population.</p><p>North America's monarch butterfly migration is one of the most awe-inspiring feats in the natural world. If this rescue plan succeeds, it could become a model for bridging different interests to achieve a common conservation goal.</p>
The annual Ig Nobel prizes were awarded Thursday by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research for scientific experiments that seem somewhat absurd, but are also thought-provoking. This was the 30th year the awards have been presented, but the first time they were not presented at Harvard University. Instead, they were delivered in a 75-minute pre-recorded ceremony.