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Philanthropists to Raise $62.5 Million for Extinction Rebellion and School Strikers
By Julia Conley
Heeding the call of grassroots campaigners, several wealthy philanthropists announced Friday a new fund that will raise money for climate action groups around the world.
Investor Trevor Neilson, filmmaker Rory Kennedy and Aileen Getty of the Getty Oil family have so far raised more than $625,000 for their Climate Emergency Fund (CEF). The philanthropists plan to raise at least 100 times that amount over the next several months by appealing to other rich and powerful contacts around the globe, calling on them to use their immense wealth to help demand that governments take immediate, decisive climate action.
Echoing the message that groups like Extinction Rebellion and the School Strike for Climate movement have been spreading for months, Neilson said he recently realized that most people who hold enough wealth to potentially sway lawmakers haven't grasped that incremental progress to fight the climate crisis is not sufficient.
"The world's biggest philanthropists are still in a gradualist mindset," Neilson told The Guardian. "We do not have time for gradualism."
Extinction Rebellion, which will receive a large portion of the money raised by the fund so far and which inspired Neilson to use his wealth for the cause, welcomed the development of CEF.
"It's a signal that we are coming to a tipping point," said a spokesperson. "In the past, philanthropy has often been about personal interest, but now people are realizing that we are all in this together and putting their money forward for our collective well-being."
The money raised by CEF will also go to the School Strike for Climate. Other grassroots campaigners will be able to apply for three levels of funding: for start-ups, groups that want to create a permanent structure for their activism work, and established campaigns that are ready to organize large-scale events and pay salaries to organizers.
"Our climate crisis demands a new paradigm, requiring the phasing out of fossil fuel infrastructure, the phasing in of non-fossil energy sources, and large-scale removal of carbon from the atmosphere," reads the fund's website. "Despite what we know is needed, we are currently moving in the wrong direction as global emissions continue to increase annually. CEF recognizes that this moment requires large-scale disruption and nonviolent civil disobedience to force the policy change we need."
350.org co-founder Bill McKibben, Uninhabitable Earth author David Wallace-Wells, and Climate Mobilization founder Margaret Klein Salamon are among the advisers on the fund's board. The advisers have all spent years calling for bold action to drastically and immediately curb carbon emissions by ending fossil fuel extraction projects and shifting to a renewable energy economy.
Salamon wrote on social media that the fund and the involvement of wealthy philanthropists could be a "game changer for the Climate Emergency Movement."
Extinction Rebellion's occupation of several landmarks in the UK this spring helped convince government leaders in Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales to declare a climate emergency. Sixteen national governments across the globe have now done the same.
After agreeing to end its occupation of the landmarks, Extinction Rebellion said it was planning to focus on sustaining an international movement — work that CEF may support.
"CEF recognizes that this is a critical moment to support activist movements to demand change," wrote the fund on its website. "We believe that only a peaceful planet-wide mobilization on the scale of World War II will give us a chance to avoid the worst-case scenarios and restore a safe climate."
"The disruption of everyday life and perceived normal reality is necessary to create a conversation on the climate and ecological crisis," CEF added. "It is not convenient, but it is necessary."
Correction: A previous version of this headline said Philanthropists Raise $600 Million when it should've said Philanthropists to Raise $62.5 Million. The headline has been updated to reflect this change.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
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By Tracy L. Barnett
Sources reviewed this article for accuracy.
For Sicangu Lakota water protector Cheryl Angel, Standing Rock helped her define what she stands against: an economy rooted in extraction of resources and exploitation of people and planet. It wasn't until she'd had some distance that the vision of what she stands for came into focus.
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.