Welcome to Rocket Trike Diaries—a 10 week video tour of the 2011 "Ride for Renewables: No Tar Sands Oil On American Soil!" Join Renewable Rider Tom Weis as he pedals his rocket trike 2,150 miles through America’s heartland in support of landowners fighting TransCanada’s toxic Keystone XL tar sands pipeline scheme. Here are the video entries from Week Five:
Video Entry #30: Alex White Plume Rides Rocket Trike
Renewable Rider Tom Weis watches as Alex White Plume take the rocket trike for a spin through Kiza Park near Pine Ridge, S.D.
Video Entry #31: Chief John Spotted Tail: "You've Got to Take a Chance in Life."
Renewable Rider Tom Weis hears Sicangu Lakota Hereditary Chief John Spotted Tail talk about the Keystone XL "Tour of Resistance" solidarity rides in Pine Ridge and Rosebud. John explains how the tar sands pipeline is a violation of treaty (Ft. Laramie Treaty of 1868) territory and why it must be fought.
Video Entry #32: The Rosebud Sioux Tribe's Green Energy Dream
Renewable Rider Tom Weis speaks with Ken Haukaas, Economic Development Advisor to the Chairman of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, about impediments to achieving their green energy dream. Ken talks about how destructive overcrowding in the home, 80 percent unemployment, and record suicide rates are destroying the social fabric of his people. The Tribe is doing their part to develop local economies by investing in energy efficiency, solar pv, solar thermal, small wind, industrial-scale wind, geothermal, sustainable timber for homes, and greenhouses for locally grown produce, but needs the federal government to honor their trust responsibility by meeting them halfway.
Video Entry #33: Why He Joined the Keystone XL "Tour of Resistance"
Renewable Rider Tom Weis hears Shane Red Hawk of the Sicangu Lakota Nation talk about why he stepped up to join the Keystone XL "Tour of Resistance." Shane brought out his horses to ride in support of his 8-year old daughter and Mother Earth. He poetically describes how we need to overcome division and differences, saying, "There's so much beauty in our diversity."
Video Entry #34: Protecting Keya Paha River from Keystone XL
Renewable Rider Tom Weis discovers the beautiful Keya Paha River shortly after crossing the South Dakota border into Nebraska. He talks about the importance of protecting this river—and others that most Americans have never heard of—from TransCanada's Keystone XL toxic tar sands pipeline.
Video Entry #35: Nebraska Woman to Obama: "Stop Giving the Public Lip Service"
Renewable Rider Tom Weis meets Alesiah Dart of Royal, Nebraska, who has a message for President Obama regarding Keystone XL: "He needs to stop giving the public lip service... he needs to just stop the TransCanada pipeline." She says, "I can live without oil, but I can't live without drinkable water."
Video Entry #36: Nebraska High School Student Hitting Keystone XL "Head On"
Renewable Rider Tom Weis meets Thomas Higgins of O'Neill, Nebraska, who explains why young people should join the fight to stop Keystone XL. Thomas' grandpa is featured in the documentary, "Pipe Dreams," with the pipeline slated to cross his family's land. Thomas proclaims, "I'm hitting this head on... gotta get it stopped while you can...”
Yet another former Trump administration staffer has come out with an endorsement for former Vice President Joe Biden, this time in response to President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Every September for the past 11 years, non-profit the Climate Group has hosted Climate Week NYC, a chance for business, government, activist and community leaders to come together and discuss solutions to the climate crisis.
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By Elliot Douglas
The coronavirus pandemic has altered economic priorities for governments around the world. But as wildfires tear up the west coast of the United States and Europe reels after one of its hottest summers on record, tackling climate change remains at the forefront of economic policy.
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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>
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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.