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By Mark Schlosberg
Mike Pompeo, a former congressman, current CIA director, and Trump's nominee to be Secretary of State, will face confirmation hearing this week before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. For anyone who cares about the environment, Pompeo as Secretary of State is a frightening prospect. His nomination must be rejected—any Senator who votes in support of Pompeo will clearly be siding with the fossil fuel industry over public health and climate stability.
Trump's agenda on climate, energy and the environment is crystal clear: deny science, ignore the impacts of pollution on our air, water and people, and as directed by industry, shred any common-sense environmental regulation in reach. The elevation of Mike Pompeo to Secretary of State would give Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt another willing partner in their agenda of environmental destruction.
Pompeo's record speaks for itself. Back in congress, he was the top recipient of campaign contributions from the Koch brothers, and he did everything in his power to fuel their deregulatory and pro-fossil fuel agenda. He is a climate denier who called relatively weak Obama administration efforts to address climate change "radical" and "damaging." He authored the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act, which would have expedited the approval of fracked gas pipelines. And he called for the permanent elimination of wind power production tax credits, at a time when we need to be giving every incentive for more solar and wind production as we move off fossil fuels.
Pompeo also carried water for the corporate chemical giant Monsanto, authoring federal legislation that stripped states of their rights to label genetically modified foods. This law was passed at a time when states were beginning to pass labeling laws under great pressure from rising public demand for the right to know what we're eating.
When Pompeo was confirmed as CIA Director he received support from a large number of Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Foreign Relations Committee members Tim Kaine (VA) and Jean Shaheen (NH), senators like Dianne Feinstein (CA), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) and Amy Klobuchar (MN) who say we need to protect our climate for future generations.
As the country's top diplomat, the Secretary of State is charged with, among other immensely important things, negotiating with other countries regarding climate change and global energy sourcing. Science tells us undeniably that human fossil fuel consumption is rapidly warming the planet. Not only must we act, but we must act immediately and decisively to avert greater climate chaos and more humanitarian disasters. This is why more than 200 organizations delivered a letter this week to all senators, demanding they reject the Pompeo nomination.
Any senator who votes for Pompeo for Secretary of State will be sending a clear signal that they are choosing to side with fossil fuel industry polluters over people and the planet. They must choose. We'll be watching.
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Last week, the Peruvian Palm Oil Producers' Association (JUNPALMA) promised to enter into an agreement for sustainable and deforestation-free palm oil production. The promise was secured by the U.S. based National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in collaboration with the local government, growers and the independent conservation organization Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo.
The rallying cry to build it again and to build it better than before is inspiring after a natural disaster, but it may not be the best course of action, according to new research published in the journal Science.
"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.
The researchers suggest that it is time to rethink retreat, which is often seen as a last resort and a sign of weakness. Instead, it should be seen as the smart option and an opportunity to build new communities.
"We propose a reconceptualization of retreat as a suite of adaptation options that are both strategic and managed," the paper states. "Strategy integrates retreat into long-term development goals and identifies why retreat should occur and, in doing so, influences where and when."
The billions of dollars spent to rebuild the Jersey Shore and to create dunes to protect from future storms after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 may be a waste if sea level rise inundates the entire coastline.
"There's a definite rhetoric of, 'We're going to build it back better. We're going to win. We're going to beat this. Something technological is going to come and it's going to save us,'" said A.R. Siders, an assistant professor with the disaster research center at the University of Delaware and lead author of the paper, to the New York Times. "It's like, let's step back and think for a minute. You're in a fight with the ocean. You're fighting to hold the ocean in place. Maybe that's not the battle we want to pick."
Rethinking retreat could make it a strategic, efficient, and equitable way to adapt to the climate crisis, the study says.
Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.
That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.
Some of those complexities include, coordinating moves across city, state or even international lines; cultural and social considerations like the importance of burial grounds or ancestral lands; reparations for losses or damage to historic practices; long-term social and psychological consequences; financial incentives that often contradict environmental imperatives; and the critical importance of managing retreat in a way that protects vulnerable and poor populations and that doesn't exacerbate past injustices, as Harvard Magazine reported.
If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.
"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."
To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.
"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."
Leaked documents show that Jair Bolsonaro's government intends to use the Brazilian president's hate speech to isolate minorities living in the Amazon region. The PowerPoint slides, which democraciaAbierta has seen, also reveal plans to implement predatory projects that could have a devastating environmental impact.
Last week we received positive news on the border wall's imminent construction in an Arizona wildlife refuge. The Trump administration delayed construction of the wall through about 60 miles of federal wildlife preserves.