Pence Offers 'Prayers' as Hurricane Laura Hits Gulf Coast While Dismissing Climate Action at RNC
By Jake Johnson
Just hours before Hurricane Laura made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 4 storm with wind speed surpassing that of Katrina, Vice President Mike Pence delivered a Republican National Convention speech Wednesday night in which he mentioned climate action once only to reject it, continuing the GOP event's ignoring or downplaying of an emergency wreaking havoc and devastation in real time.
"Wildfires are ravaging the West and a historic storm is barreling toward Texas and Louisiana, and yet not a single speaker had anything real to say about the climate crisis that is happening right before our eyes," Lori Lodes, executive director of Climate Power 2020, said in a statement. "Denial is not a plan. Thoughts and prayers are not a solution. We must take action now to stave off even more devastation."
Judging only by the attention Republican speakers gave the hurricane on the third night of their party's convention, one may not have grasped the severity of the storm that was barreling toward Louisiana and Texas as the evening progressed, forcing hundreds of thousands to evacuate as experts warned of catastrophic damage.
The night opened with a prayer for those in the path of Hurricane Laura but, as Politico reported, "it was nearly two hours before the hurricane was mentioned again" by President Donald Trump's daughter-in-law Lara Trump, who said "may God bless and protect the Gulf states in the path of the hurricane." Lara Trump's address came shortly after Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) spent a portion of her speech smearing the Green New Deal.
.@joniernst joined #RNC2020 & spent 1/2 her speech on floods devastating IA, then closed spreading lies about the #GreenNewDeal.— Sunrise Movement 🌅 (@sunrisemvmt) August 27, 2020
She never, however, mentioned the climate crisis, the $355k she’s taken from Big Oil, or GOP abandonment of family farmers.
Iowans will vote her out. https://t.co/VI37oC00ll
Speaking live from Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Pence said at the beginning of his remarks that his "prayers are with" those affected by the hurricane set to strike at the heart of the U.S. oil and gas industry, sparking warnings of a looming "environmental nightmare."
"This is a serious storm," added the vice president, who said the White House is "working closely with authorities in the states that will be impacted."
The one time Pence mentioned climate in his remarks was during an attack on Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who the vice president said wants to "abolish fossil fuels, end fracking, and impose a regime of climate change regulations." Biden's climate plan, viewed by green groups as insufficient but as a step in the right direction, calls for new regulations on the polluting oil and gas industry but would not end fracking or abolish fossil fuels.
3 nights. 69 speakers.— Jamie Henn (@jamieclimate) August 27, 2020
Now just one mention of climate change: Mike Pence saying they won’t pass a “regime of climate change regulations.”
Meanwhile...well, just watch the weather channel. https://t.co/xAoHaqqQ31
Pence's remarks came just before Hurricane Laura made landfall as a Category 4 storm near Cameron, Louisiana early Thursday morning, bringing maximum sustained winds of 150 miles per hour and causing widespread power outages across Louisiana and Texas.
"Laura is a storm of historic proportions," the Wall Street Journal reported. "The fast-moving hurricane exploded in intensity Wednesday and had continued to gain strength into the night, with sustained winds of 150 miles an hour, according to the National Hurricane Center, close to the 157 mile-an-hour threshold of a Category 5 storm."
10:30pm UPDATE from the 4th floor of our hotel in Lake Charles! Really now seeing a ramp up in the winds. @StephanieAbrams is LIVE on @weatherchannel down on ground level! #HurricaneLaura #LakeCharles #Louisiana pic.twitter.com/cUc9NhX1lO— Chris Bruin (@TWCChrisBruin) August 27, 2020
In a statement late Wednesday, Climate Power 2020 warned that flooding from the massive storm "could cause some of the 109 Superfund sites in Laura's path to leak toxic chemicals into neighborhoods and drinking water storage."
"In 2017," the group noted, "hundreds of millions of gallons of contaminated industrial products and hundreds of tons of air toxins were released into communities because of flooding and damage during Hurricane Harvey."
Echoing the grave warnings of other experts, meteorologist Eric Holthaus tweeted early Thursday that "Southwest Louisiana will never be the same after this."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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