By Andrea Germanos
Lawyer and visionary thinker Polly Higgins, who campaigned for ecocide to be internationally recognized as a crime on par with genocide and war crimes, died Sunday at the age of 50.
She had been diagnosed with an aggressive cancer last month and given just weeks to live.
Author and climate activist Naomi Klein praised Higgins's work as well.
"She devoted her life to changing broken laws that have failed so miserably to protect the natural systems upon which we all depend. Her work will live on," Klein wrote.
So sad to hear of the loss of Polly Higgins. She devoted her life to changing broken laws that have failed so miser… https://t.co/K8WtL8cG2G— Naomi Klein (@Naomi Klein)1555930510.0
Such accolades wouldn't be pouring in if not for the pivotal moment when Higgins chose to her leave her legal practice to focus on a singular client: planet Earth.
"I was standing in court one day," she told the Scotsman in 2012. "It was three years on in a long case, the last day in the Court of Appeal, and we were waiting for the judges to come back. I'd been giving voice to my client, who had been injured and harmed in the workplace, and I looked out the window and thought, 'The Earth is being injured and harmed as well and nothing is being done about it.'"
"I actually thought, 'The Earth is in need of a good lawyer.' That thought would not leave me alone. It changed my life," said Higgins.
Guardian columnist George Monbiot paid tribute to her work last month, and outlined some of her achievements:
Until 1996, drafts of the Rome statute, which lists international crimes against humanity, included the crime of ecocide. But it was dropped at a late stage at the behest of three states: the UK, France and the Netherlands. Ecocide looked like a lost cause until Higgins took it up 10 years ago.
She gave up her job and sold her house to finance this campaign on behalf of all of us. She has drafted model laws to show what the crime of ecocide would look like, published two books on the subject and, often against furious opposition, presented her proposals at international meetings. The Earth Protectors group she founded seeks to crowdfund the campaign. Recently she has been working with the Republic of Vanuatu with a view to tabling an amendment to the Rome statute, introducing the missing law.
Higgins's visionary work to make ecocide a crime, Monbiot wrote, "could, with our support, do for all life on Earth what the criminalization of genocide has done for vulnerable minorities: provide protection where none existed before. Let it become her legacy."
To hear Higgins in her own words, watch her TEDxExeter talk from 2012, "Ecocide, the 5th Crime Against Peace."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
By Tara Lohan
Three years into the Trump administration, its anti-climate and anti-science agenda is well established. Despite dire warnings from the world's leading scientists about the threats from rising greenhouse gas emissions, the administration has stubbornly continued to deny climate change, obstructed and undermined efforts to curb it, and moved again and again to roll back existing regulations that help reduce emissions.
Under Trump there's only one government agency whose top officials continue to take the threat of climate change seriously, albeit out of the public spotlight: the Department of Defense.
As international threat expert Michael T. Klare recounts in his new book, All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon's Perspective on Climate Change, U.S. military leaders view climate change as a threat to the country's security — as well as global stability. Klare explores what they're doing about it, mostly behind the scenes.
With long experience studying national security issues, Klare is currently director of the Five College Program in Peace and World Security Studies at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass. He's written extensively about the military and global resources, including The Race for What's Left and Blood and Oil.
"While discussion of climate change has indeed largely disappeared from the Pentagon's public statements, its internal efforts to address the effects of global warming have not stopped," Klare writes.
Klare begins by tracing the evolution of the Pentagon's understanding of the potential dangers of climate change, which goes back more than a decade. The Department of Defense has published numerous reports and briefs since and is currently conducting an assessment of the climate-related threats to the hundreds of U.S. military bases at home and abroad. While the study isn't complete, results so far have shown that half of all bases face at least one climate-related threat. Many face several.
What Pentagon analysts are most concerned about is not endangered species, like some other government agencies, but other humans.
"They see climate change as ratcheting up global chaos, which in turn means a greater likelihood of U.S involvement in ugly foreign wars," writes Klare.
In some places climate-related disasters such as droughts, heat waves and hurricanes may trigger mass migrations and failed states; in others climate change may not be the sole threat or even the greatest, but it could make a bad situation catastrophic. It's considered a "threat multiplier" — one that, in the age of globalization, can lead to far-reaching failures of energy, food and health systems.
"Try to picture a food-price crisis occurring at more or less the same time as a major pandemic and a mass migration event: the resulting chaos, distress and contention are almost unimaginable," he writes.
As climate change worsens, the U.S. military will face more humanitarian crises. Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013 and the quick succession of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in 2017 gave a preview of what's to come — and the extensive resources needed.
Climate-related threats to food and water can also trigger what Klare calls "failed-state syndrome," like in Mali where resource scarcity, social unrest and natural disaster helped create political upheaval. Countries like Nigeria and Saudi Arabia could face similar threats.
There's also the potential for clashes among the world's heavyweights. A melting Arctic will open up access to shipping, drilling and other kinds of economic exploitation, which could prompt conflict between Arctic neighbors like the United States, Russia, Norway and Canada. Not coincidentally, the United States recently restocked its Cold War stash of military equipment and weapons housed in caves in Norway, presumably in the case of conflict with Russia, writes Klare.
And across the world, China could go head-to-head with India over vital flows in the Brahmaputra and other rivers as melting Himalayan glaciers curtail water resources. A similar situation over water conflict could emerge between India and Pakistan, too, writes Klare.
And then there are the threats emerging at home. The military is already dealing with rising seas, increased inland flooding, and more severe hurricanes and wildfires. These aren't small problems: The Department of Defense mobilized more than 30,000 personnel in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
Klare's review of both foreign and domestic threats from climate change is exhaustive and alarming, especially on top of what we already know about how climate change threatens vital ecosystems and species across the globe.
He makes a convincing case that there's ample reason for military leaders to be concerned — not to mention the rest of us: "It follows that if the armed services are worried about the safety and survival of their vital systems, we should be equally worried about our own."
Of course, many of us already are worried, which is why the last part of the book — what the Pentagon is actually doing about all of this — is so important… and also a bit disappointing. Klare reveals that many of the military's efforts to "go green" — for example, by using fewer fossil fuels — have been less about environmental concerns than strategy. Convoys to carry gasoline to remote military outposts are vulnerable to attack; using solar or other technologies to power barracks or vehicles reduces that risk.
And some programs were, well, less than they first appeared. For example, in 2006 the USS Stockdale set off as a part of the "Great Green Fleet," so named because the boat was using some "alternative fuels" to reduce its dependence on oil. But Klare reveals that the boat was actually running on a mix of 90% oil and 10% liquefied beef fat. It's hard to imagine that's either a green or scalable replacement for the petroleum used to power a destroyer across an ocean.
Other efforts have yielded better results, though. Today the different service branches use more solar and other renewables. And efforts are underway to vastly increase fuel efficiency of planes and ground vehicles.
And along the way they've achieved some measurable results: From 2011 to 2016, the DoD's consumption of petroleum for operating forces declined 20%. The energy supplied by renewables at home has also climbed 12% over 2003 levels.
Klare lists a few other statistics, but it's hard to put all of it into context as the book fails to mention the overall climate footprint of the U.S. military — which other sources point out is more than in most other countries. There's also no mention of the sweeping environmental, social and related implications of U.S. imperialism, a significant omission.
Indeed the idea of the U.S. military being a big green savior is a tough pill to swallow. Sen. Elizabeth Warren found that out earlier this year, when she introduced the Department of Defense Climate Resiliency and Readiness Act, which seeks to ramp up the military's potential when it comes to renewables and energy efficiency.
She received some swift backlash from progressives, including author and activist Naomi Klein who tweeted that, "The most powerful war machine on the planet is never going to be 'green.'"
Still, Klare claims that "given the immense size of the U.S. military establishment and its proven ability to embrace technological innovation, the Department of Defense is one of the few institutions in American society with the capacity to make a real difference in slowing the pace of warming."
But will that be enough? If climate change worsens the threats the military has identified, and makes military action more likely, the chances of reducing our armed forces' carbon footprint will get even slimmer. As Klare's own reporting shows, the vast, worldwide social and political upheaval that we'll likely experience due to climate change means we badly need civilian, as well as military, arms of government to get on board.
Reposted with permission from The Revelator.
Throughout Texas, there are a number of solar power companies that can install solar panels on your roof to take advantage of the abundant sunlight. But which solar power provider should you choose? In this article, we'll provide a list of the best solar companies in the Lone Star State.
Our Picks for the Best Texas Solar Companies
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Sunpro Solar
- Longhorn Solar, Inc.
- Solartime USA
- Kosmos Solar
- Sunshine Renewable Solutions
- Alba Energy
- Circle L Solar
- South Texas Solar Systems
- Good Faith Energy
How We Chose the Best Solar Energy Companies in Texas
There are a number of factors to keep in mind when comparing and contrasting different solar providers. These are some of the considerations we used to evaluate Texas solar energy companies.
Different solar companies may provide varying services. Always take the time to understand the full range of what's being offered in terms of solar panel consultation, design, installation, etc. Also consider add-ons, like EV charging stations, whenever applicable.
When meeting with a representative from one of Texas' solar power companies, we would always encourage you to ask what the installation process involves. What kind of customization can you expect? Will your solar provider use salaried installers, or outsourced contractors? These are all important questions to raise during the due diligence process.
Texas is a big place, and as you look for a good solar power provider, you want to ensure that their services are available where you live. If you live in Austin, it doesn't do you much good to have a solar company that's active only in Houston.
Pricing and Financing
Keep in mind that the initial cost of solar panel installation can be sizable. Some solar companies are certainly more affordable than others, and you can also ask about the flexible financing options that are available to you.
To guarantee that the renewable energy providers you select are reputable, and that they have both the integrity and the expertise needed, we would recommend assessing their status in the industry. The simplest way to do this is to check to see whether they are North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certified or belong to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) or other industry groups.
Types of Panels
As you research different companies, it certainly doesn't hurt to get to know the specific products they offer. Inquire about their tech portfolio, and see if they are certified to install leading brands like Tesla or Panasonic.
Rebates and Tax Credits
There are a lot of opportunities to claim clean energy rebates or federal tax credits which can help with your initial solar purchase. Ask your solar provider for guidance navigating these different savings opportunities.
Going solar is a big investment, but a warranty can help you trust that your system will work for decades. A lot of solar providers provide warranties on their technology and workmanship for 25 years or more, but you'll definitely want to ask about this on the front end.
The 10 Best Solar Energy Companies in Texas
With these criteria in mind, consider our picks for the 10 best solar energy companies in TX.
SunPower is a solar energy company that makes it easy to make an informed and totally customized decision about your solar power setup. SunPower has an online design studio where you can learn more about the different options available for your home, and even a form where you can get a free online estimate. Set up a virtual consultation to speak directly with a qualified solar installer from the comfort of your own home. It's no wonder SunPower is a top solar installation company in Texas. They make the entire process easy and expedient.
Sunpro Solar is another solar power company with a solid reputation across the country. Their services are widely available to Texas homeowners, and they make the switch to solar effortless. We recommend them for their outstanding customer service, for the ease of their consultation and design process, and for their assistance to homeowners looking to claim tax credits and other incentives.
Looking for a solar contractor with true Texas roots? Longhorn Solar is an award-winning company that's frequently touted as one of the best solar providers in the state. Their services are available in Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio, and since 2009 they have helped more than 2,000 Texans make the switch to energy efficiency with solar. We recommend them for their technical expertise, proven track record, and solar product selection.
Solartime USA is another company based in Texas. In fact, this family-owned business is located in Richardson, which is just outside of Dallas. They have ample expertise with customized solar energy solutions in residential settings, and their portfolio of online reviews attests to their first-rate customer service. We love this company for the simplicity of their process, and for all the guidance they offer customers seeking to go solar.
Next on our list is Kosmos Solar, another Texas-based solar company. They're based in the northern part of the state, and highly recommended for homeowners in the area. They supply free estimates, high-quality products, custom solar designs, and award-winning personal service. Plus, their website has a lot of great information that may help guide you while you determine whether going solar is right for you.
Sunshine Renewable Solutions is based out of Houston, and they've developed a sterling reputation for dependable service and high-quality products. They have a lot of helpful financing options, and can show you how you can make the switch to solar in a really cost-effective way. We also like that they give free estimates, so there's certainly no harm in learning more about this great local company.
"Powered by the Texas sun." That's the official tagline of Alba Energy, a solar energy provider that's based out of Katy, TX. They have lots of great information about solar panel systems and solar solutions, including solar calculators to help you tabulate your potential energy savings. Additionally, we recommend Alba Energy because all of their work is done by a trusted, in-house team of solar professionals. They maintain an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and they have rave reviews from satisfied customers.
Circle L Solar has a praiseworthy mission of helping homeowners slash their energy costs while participating in the green energy revolution. This is another company that provides a lot of great information, including energy savings calculators. Also note that, in addition to solar panels, Circle L Solar also showcases a number of other assets that can help you make your home more energy efficient, including windows, weatherization services, LED lighting, and more.
You can tell by the name that South Texas Solar Systems focuses its service area on the southernmost part of the Lone Star State. Their products include a wide range of commercial and residential solar panels, as well as "off the grid" panels for homeowners who want to detach from public utilities altogether. Since 2007, this company has been a trusted solar energy provider in San Antonio and beyond.
Good Faith Energy is a certified installer of Tesla solar technology for homeowners throughout Texas. This company is really committed to ecological stewardship, and they have amassed a lot of goodwill thanks to their friendly customer service and the depth of their solar expertise. In addition to Tesla solar panels, they can also install EV charging stations and storage batteries.
What are Your Solar Financing Options in Texas?
We've mentioned already that going solar requires a significant investment on the front-end. It's worth emphasizing that some of the best solar companies provide a range of financing options, allowing you to choose whether you buy your system outright, lease it, or pay for it in monthly installments.
Also keep in mind that there are a lot of rebates and state and federal tax credits available to help offset starting costs. Find a Texas solar provider who can walk you through some of the different options.
How Much Does a Solar Energy System Cost in Texas?
How much is it going to cost you to make that initial investment into solar power? It varies by customer and by home, but the median cost of solar paneling may be somewhere in the ballpark of $13,000. Note that, when you take into account federal tax incentives, this number can fall by several thousand dollars.
And of course, once you go solar, your monthly utility bills are going to shrink dramatically… so while solar systems won't pay for themselves in the first month or even the first year, they will ultimately prove more than cost-effective.
Finding the Right Solar Energy Companies in TX
Texas is a great place to pursue solar energy companies, thanks to all the natural sunlight, and there are plenty of companies out there to help you make the transition. Do your homework, compare a few options, and seek the solar provider that's right for you. We hope this guide is a helpful jumping-off point as you try to get as much information as possible about the best solar companies in Texas.
Josh Hurst is a journalist, critic, and essayist. He lives in Knoxville, TN, with his wife and three sons. He covers natural health, nutrition, supplements, and clean energy. His writing has appeared in Health, Shape, and Remedy Review.
By Stacy Malkan
If you like to give friends and family the gift of knowledge about our food, we're here with recommendations for 2019 books and movies that illuminate the issues close to our hearts. At U.S. Right to Know, we believe that transparency – in the marketplace and in politics – is crucial to building a healthier food system for our children, our families and our world. Kudos to the journalists and filmmakers who are exposing how powerful food and chemical industry interests impact our health and the environment.
Here are our recommendations for best-of-the-year food books and movies. You can also receive a signed copy of the award-winning 2017 book by our colleague, Carey Gillam, Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer and the Corruption of Science, for a monthly sustainer donation to U.S. Right to Know through Patreon or you can donate directly to USRTK here.
Eating Tomorrow: Agribusiness, Family Farmers, and the Battle for the Future of Food
By Timothy A. Wise, The New Press
Holiday gift-giving solved: #EatingTomorrow!— Timothy A. Wise (@TimothyAWise) December 3, 2019
Olivier De Schutter: "There is a battle for the future of food, and Eating Tomorrow shifts the frontlines.”@drvandanashiva: “Eating Tomorrow is a wake-up call about the future of food."
Ricardo Salvador: “Wise’s writing is riveting." pic.twitter.com/f0nXjqc4Y2
Scholar Timothy A. Wise shows the world already has the tools to feed itself, without expanding industrial agriculture or adopting genetically modified seeds. Reporting from Africa, Mexico, India and the U.S., Wise details how agribusiness and its philanthropic promoters have hijacked food policies to feed corporate interests, and argues that policies promoted by the Gates Foundation-funded Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) are failing to deliver productivity and income improvements for small-scale farmers in Africa. Wise also takes readers to remote villages to see how farmers are rebuilding soils with ecologically sound practices without chemicals or imported hybrid or genetically engineered seeds.
"Hundreds of billions of dollars spent on fertilizer and hybrid seed subsidies by Kenya and other African countries over the past few years have gone down the drain, a new book argues," writes Julius Segei in Kenya's largest independent newspaper, the The Daily Nation. "The scholar's verdict that there is little evidence of any green revolution coming to Africa more than 10 years after AGRA is likely to kick up a storm in agriculture and development circles."
The Triumph of Doubt: Dark Money and the Science of Deception
By David Michaels, Oxford University Press (available January 2020)
David Michaels' new book offers an insider's look at how corporations manufacture doubt in science: bogus studies, congressional testimonies, think-tank policy documents and more. He provides new details of high-profile cases involving car manufacturing, professional sports, the food we eat and the air we breathe. Michaels, the former assistant secretary of labor under President Barack Obama, writes that the anti-science policies of the Trump administration are not new, but rather the outcome of decades-long campaigns by the tobacco and fossil fuel industries to stop regulation of deadly products. "This book is written to get you angry enough to want to learn how to defend yourselves, your communities, and our vulnerable planet," writes consumer advocate Ralph Nader. "Let it grip you toward detection and defiance."
A tenacious attorney, Rob Billot, uncovers a dark secret that connects a growing number of unexplained deaths to one of the world's largest corporations. As the evidence in the film shows, DuPont was aware of the dangers of its Teflon ingredients for many years. While trying to expose the truth, Bilot soon finds himself risking his future, his family and his own life.
In these kinds of movies, "you know going in that you're going to see a story about how bad things are thanks to corporate influence over government as well as the economy," writes movie critic Roger Ebert, "but the extent of the corruption is still shocking, highlighting the implicit question: why fight, if the bad guys have already won? The answer, of course, is that you should fight because it's the right thing to do." Dark Waters is "an effective outrage machine," writes Michael O'Sullivan in The Washington Post, but the movie "doesn't aspire to be something it's not. Like Bilott himself, it gets the job done, not by showboating, but by laying out the facts."
Kid Food: The Challenge of Feeding Children in a Highly Processed World
By Bettina Elias Siegel, Oxford University Press
Many of you have asked if KID FOOD will be released as an audiobook. YES! Here’s a preorder link—along with details re: my East Coast book tour, which starts THIS WEEK! https://t.co/UBnfH6I9Yw @AvivaGoldfarb @marionnestle @pam_koch @dietdetective @greenlightbklyn @audible_com pic.twitter.com/XvhBk6Nppv— Bettina Elias Siegel (@thelunchtray) November 11, 2019
Bettina Elias Siegel, a leading voice on children's food, critically examines how America's food culture exploits children and misleads parents. Siegel exposes predatory food-industry techniques for marketing directly to children and convincing parents that highly-processed products are "healthy." She provides extensive coverage of America's school-food program — including why, even after Obama-era reforms, school meals are still so often dominated by processed foods, many of them bearing popular junk-food trademarks. "This is a gorgeously written, heartfelt, and deeply compelling manifesto arguing why and how we must do better at feeding our kids more healthfully at home, in schools, and on the soccer field," writes Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. "It should inspire all of us to get busy and start advocating for better kid-food policies — right now."
Modified: A food lover's journey into GMOs
By Aube Giroux, feature length documentary now available for purchase or rent online
In this beautiful, moving, award-winning documentary, filmmaker Aube Giroux and her mother embark on a personal investigative journey to find out why GMOs are not labeled on food products in the U.S. and Canada, despite being labeled in 64 countries around the world. Interweaving the personal and the political, the film is anchored around the filmmaker's relationship to her mom, a gardener and food activist who battled cancer during the film's production. Fueled by their shared love of food, the mother-daughter team discovers the extent to which the agribusiness industry controls our food policies, and makes a strong case for a more transparent and sustainable food system. The winner of four Audience Favorite Awards and the 2019 James Beard Foundation Broadcast Media Award for best documentary, Modified is "beautiful beyond words … compelling and compassionate," writes the journalist Joan Baxter.
Et le monde devint silencieux: Comment l'agrochimie a détruit les insectes
And The World Became Silent: How Agrochemistry Destroyed Insects
by Stéphane Foucart, Editions du Seuil (in French)
[Événement] Stéphane Foucart @sfoucart, journaliste @lemondefr, présente son ouvrage sur l’industrie des pesticides auprès des étudiants dauphinois— Univ Paris Dauphine-PSL (@Paris_Dauphine) November 12, 2019
« Et le monde devint silencieux » @EditionsduSeuil 🐝
➡️ https://t.co/MpYXfDr1Db pic.twitter.com/N127Gb3Ir1
Investigative journalist Stéphane Foucart details how the agrichemical industry orchestrated "the greatest ecological disaster of the early twenty-first century" – the collapse of insect populations. Although pesticide companies claim the disappearance of insects is a mystery due to multiple factors, Foucart reports that the dominant cause is the massive use of neonicotinoid pesticides, and shows how it was made possible by an industry that faked public debate by manipulating science, regulation and expertise. The book shows how the industry exploited science to the point of "making us forget that insecticides … kill insects," writes Annabelle Martella in La Croix (review in French).
Foucart won the 2018 European Press Prize for investigative reporting, along with Stéphane Horel, for their Monsanto Papers (translated into English here) articles about how Monsanto manipulated science, influenced the regulatory process and orchestrated stealth PR campaigns to defend its Roundup herbicides.
Wilted: Pathogens, Chemicals, and the Fragile Future of the Strawberry Industry
By Julie Guthman, University of California Press
Thanks to @uscs professor Julie Guthman for her excellent reporting on how the strawberry industry came to rely on highly toxic soil fumigants. For more on #Wilted, see review by @emonosson11 in @aaas @sciencemagazine https://t.co/AfjdjsgxB2— U.S. Right To Know (@USRightToKnow) December 18, 2019
Julie Guthman tells the story of how strawberries – the sixth highest-grossing crop in California which produces 88 percent of the nation's favorite berry – came to rely on highly toxic soil fumigants, and how that reliance reverberated throughout the rest of the fruit's production system. The particular conditions of plants, soils, chemicals, climate and laboring bodies that once made strawberry production so lucrative in the Golden State have now changed and become a set of related threats that jeopardize the future of the industry. "The strawberry industry's predicament is just one example of how our strategy of dominating ecological systems and focusing on increased output at all cost is short-sighted, with diminishing returns," writes Emily Monosson in a Science magazine review. "Recent efforts to work with, rather than against, natural systems suggest a path forward."
GMOs Decoded: A Skeptic's View of Genetically Modified Foods
By Sheldon Krimsky, MIT Press
Tufts professor Sheldon Krimsky examines health and safety concerns, environmental issues, implications for world hunger and lack of scientific consensus on GMOs (genetically modified organisms). He explores the viewpoints of a range of GMO skeptics, from public advocacy groups and nongovernmental organizations to scientists with differing views on risk and environmental impact. Publishers Weekly calls Krimsky's book a "fair-minded, informative primer" that "lays out opposing 'claims and counterclaims,' demystifies the science, and shows where there is consensus, honest disagreement, or unresolved uncertainty." NYU professor Marion Nestle describes the book as "a gift to anyone confused" about GMOs.
And Two More Excellent Food Books From 2018
Seeds of Resistance: The Fight to Save Our Food Supply
By Mark Schapiro, Skyhorse Publishing
Check out Mark Schapiro's new website on seed politics, and his terrific new book Seeds of Resistance https://t.co/QtCduGXSrH— Michael Pollan (@michaelpollan) February 19, 2019
Journalist Mark Schapiro reports on the high-stakes battle underway for control of the world's seeds, as climate volatility threatens the security of our food supply. Schapiro investigates what it means that more than half the world's commercial seeds are owned by three multinational chemical companies, and brings to light what the corporate stranglehold is doing to our daily diet – from the explosion of genetically modified foods, to the rapid disappearance of plant varieties, to the elimination of independent farmers who have long been the bedrock of our food supply. The book also documents colorful and surprising stories from the global movement that is defying these companies, and offering alternatives capable of surviving the accelerating climatic changes. "Seeds of Resistance is a wake-up call," writes Alice Waters, founder of Chez Panisse and the Edible Schoolyard. "With vivid and memorable stories, Mark Schapiro tells us how seeds are at the frontlines of our epic battle for healthy food."
Formerly Known as Food: How the Industrial Food System Is Changing Our Minds, Bodies, and Culture
By Kristin Lawless, St. Martin's Press
Not mad about the comparison! “Of all the books that I’ve read on the food industry, hers is one that sticks out. An absolute flamethrower – jawdropping – savage AF. Kristin Lawless is Daenerys Targaryen and Big Food is King’s Landing and I’m here for it.” https://t.co/a7BiHpsh4C— Kristin Lawless (@kristinlawless) December 15, 2019
If you think buying organic from Whole Foods is protecting you, you're wrong. Our food — even what we're told is good for us — has changed for the worse in the past 100 years, its nutritional content deteriorating due to industrial farming and its composition altered due to the addition of thousands of chemicals from pesticides to packaging. We simply no longer know what we're eating. In Formerly Known as Food, Kristin Lawless argues that, because of the degradation of our diet, our bodies are literally changing from the inside out. The billion-dollar food industry is reshaping our food preferences, altering our brains, changing the composition of our microbiota, and even affecting the expression of our genes.
"In this revelatory survey of the dangers of the industrial food system, Lawless offers crucial tools for navigating it safely," writes the author Naomi Klein. "The best ones have nothing to do with shopping advice: she asks us to think holistically about food, why it can't be separated from other struggles for justice, and what it means to demand transformative change."
Reposted with permission from U.S. Right to Know.
- This Holiday Season Your Best Gift Can Be a Donation to a Nonprofit ›
- Holiday Shopping: Best Retailers for Toxic-Free Gifts - EcoWatch ›
September has arrived, summer vacation season is over and it's time to get stuff done — not just for the month ahead but for the future of the planet.
With that in mind, this month sees the publication of an amazing array of books on a wide range of environmental issues, covering everything from climate change to burning rainforests to protecting our water. We've combed through the catalogs to pick the 13 best new eco-books coming out in September, including titles from an impressive team of experts and award-winning authors. Check out our list below, pick the ones that are best for you or your family, and read up on new ideas for fixing what we've broken — then get to work.
The Green New Deal:
To start off our list, this month brings not one but two books about the need for a Green New Deal.
First up, Shock Doctrine author Naomi Klein offers us On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal. This collection of new and previously published reports examines the state of the environment around the world, ranging from the Great Barrier Reef to the Vatican. And as you'd expect from a firebrand like Klein, this impassioned, justice-oriented book presents a call for immediate transformation of the systems that have produced the climate crisis (and so many other crises along the way).
Taking a slightly different path, economic theorist Jeremy Rifkin brings us The Green New Deal, a cautionary tale that warns the world economy (if not the world itself) will fall apart in under ten years if we don't take immediate action to mothball extractive energy technologies. Subtitled "Why the Fossil Fuel Civilization Will Collapse by 2028, and the Bold Economic Plan to Save Life on Earth," Rifkin's book serves as a call for world governments to decarbonize their economies, post-haste.
Wildlife and Conservation:
The Missing Lynx: The Past and Future of Britain's Lost Mammals by Ross Barnett — Eurasian lynx were wiped out in Britain 1,300 years ago, but there's now an effort to bring them back to their old stomping grounds. Could other species, even megafauna, soon follow? Barnett look at the lynx and other extinct British species to see what we've lost following their disappearance from the ecosystem and what we might gain from rewilding projects. Along the way, he asks if these types of projects should even be conducted at all. That's a timely, important question in this era when we're even talking about brining extinct species like the mammoth back to life.
Gone Is Gone: Wildlife Under Threat by Isabelle Groc — Aimed at teenage readers, this profusely illustrated and thoroughly researched book looks at endangered species around the world — and what we can do to help them. Conservation icon Jane Goodall provides the foreword. (For juvenile readers, check out a similarly themed book out this month: Survival by artist Louise McNaught and writer Anna Claybourne.)
Vanishing: The World's Most Vulnerable Animals by Joel Sartore — Critically endangered and extinct-in-the-wild species get the spotlight in this stunning, 400-page photography book, the latest in Sartore's "Photo Ark" project for National Geographic. This could be your last chance to see many of these species, so take some time to linger on each image and reflect on the very real faces of impending extinction.
We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast by Jonathan Safran Foer — If we want to fight climate change, we (individually and collectively) need to put down the breakfast sausages and rethink many of our other agricultural products. A stylishly written and thought-provoking book from the author of Everything Is Illuminated and Eating Animals.
The Geography of Risk: Epic Storms, Rising Seas, and the Cost of America's Coasts by Gilbert M. Gaul — Hoo boy, the coastal destruction coming our way due to climate change and sea-level rise is going to be expensive…and taxpayers will carry the costs. Gaul, a Pulitzer Prize-winner, recounts the history of coastal development (or over-development, to be precise) and lays out the case for changing the way we regulate and subsidize risky construction.
Activism and Environmental Justice:
Whose Water Is It, Anyway? Taking Water Protection Into Public Hands by Maude Barlow — One of the world's most notable water-justice activists provides a step-by-step guide to help communities keep themselves from going dry due to the actions of irresponsible companies and governments. (Check out our interview with Barlow.)
Unearthing Justice: How to Protect Your Community From the Mining Industry by Joan Kuyek — Covering everything from how to stop a new mining project to figuring out how to clean up an abandoned mine, this important book offers activists a primer for taking on all manner of extractive industries that can harm human health and the environment.
Salmon and Acorns Feed Our People: Colonialism, Nature and Social Action by Kari Marie Norgaard — A sociological look at North American colonialism, focusing on the Karuk Tribe of northern California and their political struggles for environmental justice and food sovereignty.
And Two More for Good Measure:
Waste by Kate O'Neill — A simply titled book about a very complex issue: What do we do with all of our stuff? From food waste to plastic recycling to the remnants of our ubiquitous electronics, O'Neill examines the politics and future of what we throw away.
Rainforest: Dispatches From Earth's Most Vital Frontlines by Tony Juniper — A gorgeous, thoughtful and increasingly necessary book examining the roles that rainforests around the world play in regulating our planetary systems. Juniper, a noted environmentalist who has spent decades working on rainforest conservation, devotes a good portion of this book to the threats that human-caused fires pose to these essential ecosystems — a timely topic, to say the least.
That's our list for this month, but don't stop here: You can find dozens of other recent eco-books in the "Revelator Reads" archive.
John R. Platt is the editor of The Revelator. An award-winning environmental journalist, his work has appeared in Scientific American, Audubon, Motherboard, and numerous other magazines and publications.
Reposted with permission from our media associate The Revelator.
By Jon Queally
"Gold over life, literally."
That was the succinct and critical reaction of Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein to reporting on Friday that President Donald Trump had personally intervened — after a meeting with Alaska's Republican Governor Mike Dunleavy on Air Force One in June — to withdraw the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) opposition to a gold mining project in the state that the federal government's own scientists have acknowledged would destroy native fisheries and undermine the state's fragile ecosystems.
So Trump meets Alaska's governor in his airplane and agrees to push through a goldmine that had been stopped b/c it will devastate salmon habitat. This at a time that orcas are already starving death. Salmon carry entire ecosystems on their backs. Gold over life, literally. https://t.co/QcT2UosP0g— Naomi Klein (@NaomiAKlein) August 9, 2019
Based on reporting by CNN that only emerged Friday evening, the key developments happened weeks ago after Trump's one-on-one meeting with Dunleavy — who has supported the copper and gold Pebble Mine project in Bristol Bay despite the opposition of conservationists, Indigenous groups, salmon fisheries experts, and others.
The EPA told staff scientists that it was no longer opposing a controversial Alaska mining project that could devastate one of the world's most valuable wild salmon fisheries, just one day after President Trump met with Alaska's governor, CNN has learned https://t.co/vJmjAYfSw4 pic.twitter.com/TFGjPxSeAR— CNN (@CNN) August 9, 2019
In 2014, the project was halted because an EPA study found that it would cause "complete loss of fish habitat due to elimination, dewatering, and fragmentation of streams, wetlands, and other aquatic resources" in some areas of Bristol Bay. The agency invoked a rarely used provision of the Clean Water Act that works like a veto, effectively banning mining on the site.
"If that mine gets put in, it would ... completely devastate our region," Gayla Hoseth, second chief of the Curyung Tribal Council and a Bristol Bay Native Association director, told CNN. "It would not only kill our resources, but it would kill us culturally."
EPA just lifted a restriction blocking #PebbleMine — which would decimate 3,500+ acres of Alaskan wetlands— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) August 5, 2019
"Yet again, the agency charged with protecting our public health and environment is abandoning science to advance the interests of a wealthy few."https://t.co/8aCOe63eCq
When the internal announcement was made by Trump political appointees that the agency was dropping its opposition, which came one day after the Trump-Dunleavy meeting, sources told CNN it came as a "total shock" to some of the top EPA scientists who were planning to oppose the project on environmental grounds. Sources for the story, the news outlet noted, "asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution."
According to CNN:
Four EPA sources with knowledge of the decision told CNN that senior agency officials in Washington summoned scientists and other staffers to an internal videoconference on June 27, the day after the Trump-Dunleavy meeting, to inform them of the agency's reversal. The details of that meeting are not on any official EPA calendar and have not previously been reported.
Those sources said the decision disregards the standard assessment process under the Clean Water Act, cutting scientists out of the process.
The EPA's new position on the project is the latest development in a decade-long battle that has pitted environmentalists, Alaskan Natives and the fishing industry against pro-mining interests in Alaska.
Responding to Klein's tweet, fellow author and activist Bill McKibben — long a colleague of hers at 350.org — expressed similar contempt.
"This is one of the world's most beautiful places, with a thriving salmon run, and now we'll get some ... gold," McKibben tweeted. Trump, he added, is "President Midas."
It’s all so tragic, and criminal. https://t.co/SB02V25G9P— Bonnie Bates (@bonniebates51) August 10, 2019
After being told that the decision was made, one EPA inside told CNN, "I was dumbfounded. We were basically told we weren't going to examine anything. We were told to get out of the way and just make it happen."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
- EPA Likely to Approve Mine That Threatens Alaska's Largest Salmon Hatchery - EcoWatch ›
- Clean Water Act Rollback: Trump's EPA Limits States’ and Tribes’ Rights to Block Pipelines - EcoWatch ›
- Trump Admin Reverses Obama-Era Restrictions on Pebble Mine Near Alaska's Largest Salmon Nursery - EcoWatch ›
'Huge Victory' for Grassroots Climate Campaigners as NY Lawmakers Reach Deal on Sweeping Climate Legislation
By Julia Conley
Grassroots climate campaigners in New York applauded on Monday after state lawmakers reached a deal on sweeping climate legislation, paving the way for the passage of what could be some of the country's most ambitious environmental reforms.
The legislature reached an agreement just before midnight Sunday on the Climate and Communities Protection Act (CCPA), one of several climate bills state lawmakers have pushed in recent months since progressives gained momentum in their push for a federal Green New Deal.
New York's CCPA — like those passed in recent months in California, Hawaii, New Mexico, Nevada and Washington — offers a path forward for the implementation of Green New Deal-like laws at the state level, proponents say.
"This is going to be a huge victory for the environmental justice movement in New York," author Naomi Klein tweeted, adding that some far-reaching parts of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal grew out of state legislation.
Wow! This is going to be a huge victory for the environmental justice movement in NY. Almost there!! #PassTheCCPA (Fun historical note: some of the best parts of FDR's New Deal, like the Civilian Conservation Corp, were based on programs that began in NY State) #GreenNewDeal https://t.co/PzHED7IkvQ— Naomi Klein (@NaomiAKlein) June 17, 2019
New York's CCPA calls for zero fossil fuel emissions from utilities by 2040. By 2050, 85 percent of all energy in the state will be from renewable sources under the legislation, with the remaining 15 percent being off-set or captured.
"By and large, this is a very big victory," Arielle Swernoff of New York Renews, a coalition that pushed to pass the bill, told the Huffington Post. The group counts more than 100 groups in its membership, including national groups like 350.org and Friends of the Earth as well as local organizations like Saratoga Unites and Syracuse United Neighbors.
🚨 @NYSenate @NYSA_Majority @NYGovCuomo reached agreement to #PassTheCCPA! 🚨 THANK YOU @SteveEngles @ToddKaminsky!— NY Renews (@NYRenews) June 17, 2019
What we know:
✅ Sets most ambitious standards to cut emissions in US
✅ Invests 35%-40% of climate $ in frontline communities
✅ Supports workers in transition pic.twitter.com/b16FFzcvsM
The bill emphasizes the climate crisis's impact on low-income and marginalized communities, mandating that 35 percent of energy funding be directed to such towns and cities.
"By passing the CCPA with all its equity provisions intact, New York State can both address the climate crisis and build a more equitable economy," Assemblywoman Latrice Walker wrote at City Limits.
"Help is on the way," tweeted state Sen. Todd Kaminsky, who sponsored the legislation. "While D.C. sleeps through a crisis, New York steps up."
Dear 🌎: Help is on the way. Proud to announce a deal on climate bill #CCPA, with nation-leading carbon reductions in all sectors of economy. While DC sleeps through a crisis, NY steps up. @NYRenews @nylcv @nature_ny @NRDC @Earthjustice @greenwatchdogNY @citizensenviro @Surfrider https://t.co/c39Pehg9dh— Todd Kaminsky (@toddkaminsky) June 17, 2019
Members of New York Renews gathered on Monday in Albany, where lawmakers are expected to pass the legislation on Wednesday.
"We believe that we will win!" the group chanted.
We Believe That We Will Win!— NY Renews (@NYRenews) June 17, 2019
Get ready for the vote folks! pic.twitter.com/iqbmHtRv2n
Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York, gave credit to grassroots organizers for pressuring their state representatives to reach a deal on and pass the CCPA.
"Thank you to the frontlines for bringing this into Albany," Iwanowicz told the group gathered in the state capital. "Insiders couldn't do this by ourselves."
"Thank you to the frontlines for bringing this into Albany. Insiders couldn't do this by ourselves. This is the biggest, the boldest, the baddest climate policy! We will take this to Washingtom and the world." Peter Iwanowitcz of @greenwatchdogNY. We WILL #PassTheCCPA! @NYRenews pic.twitter.com/iQ7zEGZtGi— Adrien Salazar (@adrien4ej) June 17, 2019
Beyond the benefits the CCPA has in store for New Yorkers, one climate campaigner wrote on social media, the expected passage of the bill after pressure from the NY Renews coalition bodes well for a potential federal Green New Deal in the future.
"What a massive win for the climate justice movement and the frontline communities that have fought so hard for this!" wrote Daniel Aldana Cohen, a professor at University of Pennsylvania. "If flipping a bunch of New York State senate seats and building fighting coalitions could achieve all this in a couple years — just imagine what millions of organized people in the streets and a federal Green New Deal could do."
This is really amazing. Also remember the giant tenants win. If flipping a bunch of NY State senate seats and building fighting coalitions could achieve all this in a couple years—just imagine what millions of organized ppl in the streets and a federal GND could do— Daniel Aldana Cohen (@aldatweets) June 17, 2019
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
By Jessica Corbett
A group of activists, experts and writers on Wednesday launched a bold new campaign calling for the "thrilling but neglected approach" of embracing nature's awesome restorative powers to battle the existential crises of climate and ecological breakdown.
Averting catastrophic global warming and devastating declines in biodiversity, scientists warn, requires not only overhauling human activities that generate planet-heating emissions — like phasing out fossil fuels — but also cutting down on the carbon that is already in the atmosphere.
In a letter to governments, NGOs, the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity and the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Natural Climate Solutions campaign calls for tackling these crises by not only rapidly decarbonizing economies, but also by "drawing carbon dioxide out of the air by protecting and restoring ecosystems."
Along with stopping fossil fuel emissions, we badly need to restore natural systems. Important new effort spearhead… https://t.co/tq9OPRoiR1— Bill McKibben (@Bill McKibben)1554296301.0
"By defending, restoring and re-establishing forests, peatlands, mangroves, salt marshes, natural seabeds, and other crucial ecosystems, very large amounts of carbon can be removed from the air and stored," the letter says. "At the same time, the protection and restoration of these ecosystems can help to minimize a sixth great extinction, while enhancing local people's resilience against climate disaster."
The letter urges the politicians, nonprofits and international bodies to support such solutions with research, funding and political commitment — and to "work with the guidance and free, prior and informed consent of indigenous people and other local communities."
The campaign also put out a short video that outlines "how nature can save us from climate breakdown."
The video notes that "exotic and often dangerous schemes have been proposed" to reduce atmospheric carbon — referencing controversial geoengineering suggestions favored by some politicians and scientists — "but there's a better and simpler way: let nature do it for us."
Writer and environmentalist George Monbiot, a leader of the campaign, laid out the scientific support for this approach to carbon drawdown in an essay on the campaign's website as well as in his Wednesday column for The Guardian.
Detailing the potential impact of restoring lands worldwide, Monbiot wrote for the newspaper:
The greatest drawdown potential per hectare (though the total area is smaller) is the restoration of coastal habitats such as mangroves, salt marsh and seagrass beds. They stash carbon 40 times faster than tropical forests can. Peaty soils are also vital carbon stores. They are currently being oxidized by deforestation, drainage, drying, burning, farming, and mining for gardening and fuel. Restoring peat, by blocking drainage channels and allowing natural vegetation to recover, can suck back much of what has been lost.
"Scientists have only begun to explore how the recovery of certain animal populations could radically change the carbon balance," he acknowledged, pointing to forest elephants and rhinos in Africa and Asia and tapirs in Brazil as examples.
"Instead of making painful choices and deploying miserable means to a desirable end," Monbiot concluded, "we can defend ourselves from disaster by enhancing our world of wonders."
Key supporters of the campaign include youth climate strike leader Greta Thunberg; journalist Naomi Klein; author and activist Bill McKibben; Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann; former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed; and activist Yeb Saño,along with more than a dozen others who signed the letter.
"Healing and restoring the natural world is key to carbon drawdown," Klein tweeted Wednesday, "plus it makes life fuller and richer and can create millions of jobs."
Proud to be part of this great call. When we think about a #GreenNewDeal we tend to focus on the built environment… https://t.co/4GLFeRLTH7— Naomi Klein (@Naomi Klein)1554310736.0
Despite the high profiles of many supporters, the campaign launch did not attract the attention of the corporate media.
Monbiot took to Twitter to call out broadcast outlets for failing to cover not only the climate and ecological crises, but also potential solutions like those offered by the new campaign. As he put it, "They are living in a world of their own."
One less than thrilling aspect: despite a concerted effort by a PR company working pro bono with us on… https://t.co/NsStc8KvWP— George Monbiot (@George Monbiot)1554281411.0
They'll reproduce a rubbish corporate press release, but not a single BBC programme has reported our exciting and w… https://t.co/CP1PKiGRos— George Monbiot (@George Monbiot)1554297987.0
The climate needs your help, the water needs your help, the land needs your help. Here are just some of the ways yo… https://t.co/cXC0bkJgnl— Seeds&Chips (@Seeds&Chips)1546956126.0
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
'This Is a Big Deal': Warren Vows to Ban New Leases for Fossil Fuel Drilling Offshore and on Public Lands
By Jessica Corbett
Environmental activists and advocacy groups praised Sen. Elizabeth Warren Monday after she promised that if she is elected president in 2020, she will ban new fossil fuel extraction leases for federally controlled lands and waters.
"It is wrong to prioritize corporate profits over the health and safety of our local communities," the Massachusetts Democrat wrote on Medium. "That's why on my first day as president, I will sign an executive order that says no more drilling — a total moratorium on all new fossil fuel leases, including for drilling offshore and on public lands."
"This is a really important stand to take," 350.org cofounder Bill McKibben tweeted Monday.
He thanked the senator her new policy proposal, which focuses on "keeping our public lands in public hands, and maintaining and preserving existing lands," as well as "making our public lands part of the climate solution — not the problem."
This is a really important stand to take. thank you @SenWarren https://t.co/YdNgSW1Wld— Bill McKibben (@Bill McKibben)1555344682.0
"This is a big deal," said author and activist Naomi Klein. "We can't only talk about the things we want to add — millions of new jobs in renewables, efficiency, transit, green public housing. All that's great. But we gotta be willing to be honest about what we have to subtract too."
This is a big deal. We can't only talk about the things we want to add -- millions of new jobs in renewables, effic… https://t.co/k8IJ7btCpr— Naomi Klein (@Naomi Klein)1555354044.0
Celebrating Warren's "bold plan" on Twitter Monday, both 350 Action and Greenpeace USA noted the pressure it puts on other candidates in the crowded Democratic field.
"Americans want our next president to be a real climate leader, and candidates are listening," tweeted 350 Action. "Who's next?"
Wow: @ewarren has a bold plan to #KeepItInTheGround. "On my 1st day as president, I'll sign an order that says no m… https://t.co/JH9dQJ2Gib— 350 Action (@350 Action)1555344094.0
A cosponsor of the Green New Deal resolution currently before Congress, Warren was one of only three 2020 Democratic candidates — along with Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) — who received checkmarks across the board on 350 Action's 2020 climate policy scorecard, released in late March.
The unveiling of Warren's public lands policy follows a series of other bold proposals from the presidential hopeful. She also has put forward plans to offset tax loopholes exploited by large U.S. corporations; establish nationwide universal childcare; help family farmers compete with agricultural giants; and break up major technology companies.
Warren's approach to managing public lands comes in stark contrast to that of the Trump administration, which has gutted environmental protection rules and worked to expand fossil fuel extraction offshore and on public lands. The senator was among those who opposed the recent confirmation of David Bernhardt, a former fossil fuel lobbyist, to head Trump's Interior Department.
The Trump administration currently poses a grave threat to public lands and waters "with its casual denial of science and apparent amnesia about massive crises like the BP oil spill," Warren argued in her Medium post — but "it doesn't have to be this way. We must not allow corporations to pillage our public lands and leave taxpayers to clean up the mess."
America’s public lands provide us with clean air and water, sustain fish and wildlife, and offer a place for millio… https://t.co/SYJ9Smbo7U— Elizabeth Warren (@Elizabeth Warren)1555345525.0
While Warren's vow to impose a moratorium on drilling leases was highly praised, that wasn't the only promise she made Monday.
"As president," Warren wrote:
- I will set a goal of providing 10 percent of our overall electricity generation from renewable sources offshore or on public lands.
- I will use my authorities under the Antiquities Act to restore protections to both [Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah] and any other national monuments targeted by this administration.
- I will fully fund our public land management agencies and eliminate the infrastructure and maintenance backlog on our public lands in my first term.
- I will recruit 10,000 young people and veterans to jumpstart a 21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps — and increase the budget of AmeriCorps' one-year fellowship program to fund it. This will create job opportunities for thousands of young Americans caring for our natural resources and public lands, deepening their lifelong relationship with the great outdoors.
"The National Park Service is funded by taxpayers," she added, "and it's long past time to make entry into our parks free to ensure that visiting our nation's treasures is within reach for every American family."
Acknowledging that "a patchwork of ownership and access rights means that as many as 10 million acres in the West are not accessible to hunters, anglers, and other outdoor enthusiasts," she also committed to "unlocking 50 percent of these inaccessible acres, to grow our outdoor economy, help ease the burden on our most popular lands, and to provide a financial boost across rural America."
Though Warren's policy is national in nature, she also emphasized the importance of the Interior Department "meaningfully" incorporating local stakeholders, including tribal groups, in public lands management.
"America's public lands belong to all of us," she concluded. "We should start acting like it — expanding access, ending fossil fuel extraction, leveraging them as part of the climate solution, and preserving and improving them for our children and grandchildren. Together, we can manage and protect our public lands for generations to come."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
By Jessica Corbett
Ahead of the World Economic Forum's (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland next week—which convenes the world's wealthiest and most powerful for a summit that's been called both the "money Oscars" and a "threat to democracy"—the group published a report declaring, "Of all risks, it is in relation to the environment that the world is most clearly sleepwalking into catastrophe."
While WEF has made a habit of recognizing the threat posed by the human-made climate crisis in its Global Risks reports—for which it has garnered some praise—author and activist Naomi Klein was quick to challenge the narrative presented in the latest edition, pointing out that many of the policies pushed by the very people invited to the exclusive event have driven the global crisis.
"Sleepwalking? Nah. The policies of global deregulation, privatization, unending consumption, and growth-worship that you advanced so aggressively in order to construct the Davos Class marched us here," she tweeted. "Pretty sure your eyes were wide open."
Sleepwalking? Nah. The policies of global deregulation, privatization, unending consumption and growth-worship that… https://t.co/Gc5tbwYinR— Naomi Klein (@Naomi Klein)1547659003.0
While Klein—who argued in her 2014 book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate that "our economic system and our planetary system are now at war"—brought a critical eye to the report's warnings about the dangers of failing to limit global warming, others welcomed the attention given to the crucial issue.
The climate crisis is once again ranked as the top global risk by @WEF — after yet another year in which Mother Nat… https://t.co/LrcIEGdh2w— Al Gore (@Al Gore)1547655845.0
This, at the same time as #environmental risks continue to dominate @wef Global Risks Perception Survey (GRPS) with… https://t.co/2jlGVLmbvL— Bo Norrman (@Bo Norrman)1547669016.0
WEF's Global Risks Perception Survey solicits input from nearly 1,000 "decision-makers" across government, big business, academia and civil society, and aims to identify both short- and long-term threats to the international community.
Environmental threats—including extreme weather, failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation, natural disasters, biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse, and man-made environmental disasters—dominate the top 10 lists for both likelihood and impact.
"Extreme weather was the risk of greatest concern, but our survey respondents are increasingly worried about environmental policy failure," the report notes, acknowledging that "biodiversity loss is affecting health and socioeconomic development, with implications for well-being, productivity, and even regional security."
Responding in a statement, Marco Lambertini, director general of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) International, said: "Recognition of the dangers posed by climate change and biodiversity loss is not enough. The science is clear: we need to see urgent and unprecedented action now."
"The consequences of not changing course are enormous not just for nature, but for humans. We depend on nature much more than nature depends on us," Lambertini added. "Global political and business leaders know that they have a major role to play in safeguarding the future of economies, businesses, and the natural resources we depend on."
Concerns about governmental failure to adequately address the climate crisis declined among "the Davos Class" after world leaders came together to sign the Paris agreement, according to Reuters. But that changed after President Donald Trump took office and announced plans to ditch the accord, which aims to limit warming within this century to 1.5°C—a goal that experts say would require immediately phasing out fossil fuels.
Additionally, as Aengus Collins, the WEF report's author, told Reuters, "People ... are beginning to understand increasingly the gravity of the situation and that the Paris agreement, even if fully implemented, cannot be seen as a panacea."
In October, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) put out a report detailing what the world could look like with that level of warming, and demanding "rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented" systemic reforms. That report has been followed by various studies outlining how the U.S. is "drilling toward disaster" with fossil fuel expansion while the oceans are warming and ice is melting at alarming rates.
Along with rising sea levels, the crisis has also featured devastating hurricanes, heatwaves and wildfires. One analysis of last year's costliest climate-driven extreme weather events estimated that the top 10 storms, droughts, fires and floods of 2018 caused at least $84.8 billion in damage, almost certainly an underestimate. Experts warn that as the planet warms, such events will become more common and powerful.
Despite warnings from the global scientific community and mounting public demands for a Green New Deal, Trump and his backers continue to downplay the threat and attack climate and environmental regulations. Although the president no longer plans to attend the Davos meeting due to the government shutdown he has forced over border wall funding, five members of his administration are supposedly still set to attend.
Regardless of whether the government reopens by next week, CNBC reports that "Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will lead the five-strong delegation which also includes Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross; U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer; and Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Coordination, Chris Liddell."
5 Ways to Curb the Power of Corporations and Billionaires @karenhunter - @AfroStateOfMind #KarenRebels https://t.co/LRC72RPAu7— SiriusXM Urban View (@SiriusXM Urban View)1532031493.0
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
Six months since Hurricane Maria battered the island of Puerto Rico, the island is the site of a pitched battle between wealthy investors—particularly from the technology industry—and everyday Puerto Ricans fighting for a place in their island's future.
The Puerto Rican government has pushed for a series of privatization schemes, including privatizing PREPA, one of the largest public power providers in the U.S., and increasing the number of privately run charter schools and private school vouchers.
For more, we speak with best-selling author and journalist Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Her latest piece for The Intercept, where she is a senior correspondent, is The Battle for Paradise: Puerto Ricans and Ultrarich 'Puertopians' Are Locked in a Pitched Struggle over How to Remake the Island.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Democracy Now!.
By Jake Johnson
With people across the globe mobilizing, putting their bodies on the line, and getting arrested en masse as part of a broad effort to force the political establishment to immediately pursue ambitious solutions to the climate crisis, new research published on Monday provided a grim look at what the future will bring if transformative change is not achieved: colossal flooding, bigger fires, stronger hurricanes and much more.
Titled "Explaining Extreme Events in 2017 from a Climate Perspective" and published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS), the series of new studies identify a total of 15 weather events that took place throughout the world last year that were made significantly more likely by the human-caused climate crisis, such as deadly heatwaves in China and catastrophic flooding from Uruguay to Bangladesh.
"A warming Earth is continuing to send us new and more extreme weather events every year," BAMS editor-in-chief Jeff Rosenfeld said in a statement. "The message of this science is that our civilization is increasingly out of sync with our changing climate."
In contrast to the corporate media's systematic failure to connect the dots, the new studies make the case that increasingly extreme global weather events and the climate crisis are intricately linked—and that the former will likely continue to get worse if the latter is not urgently and boldly confronted.
"These studies confirm predictions of the 1990 First [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report, which foresaw that radical departures from 20th century weather and climate would be happening now," research meteorologist and BAMS special editor Martin Hoerling said. "Scientific evidence supports increasing confidence that human activity is driving a variety of extreme events now. These are having large economic impacts across the United States and around the world."
According to the new research—which features the work of more than 100 scientists from ten different countries—record-shattering marine heatwaves in the Tasman Sea in 2017 would have been "virtually impossible" in the absence of the climate crisis.
Additionally, researchers found the drought in East Africa that pushed millions to the brink of famine was made twice as likely by the climate crisis.
"People used to talk about climate change as a very complex and difficult problem of the future—something that would happen in places far away and on long time scales," Rosenfeld told the Washington Post. "But hurricanes and wildfires and bleaching and drought ... they're happening to us right now, and we face new and challenging risks of how they're going to affect us in the future."
Extreme Weather a Huge Threat, Trump’s Actions Make It Worse https://t.co/90gPlvpl56 @OneWorld_News @worldresources @YaleClimateComm— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1517092806.0
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
By Jessica Corbett
A small group of Amazon workers is receiving big praise for their efforts to force their employer to be a better steward of the planet.
More than a dozen employees of the online retail behemoth who have received stock as part of their compensation are, as the New York Times reported, "starting to use those shares to turn the tables on their employers" by putting forth shareholder petitions demanding that the trillion-dollar e-commerce company craft a comprehensive plan to address the global climate crisis.
In November and December, the employees submitted identical petitions calling for the plan. As the Times outlined Sunday:
Their filing appears to be the first time that tech employees have led their own shareholder proposal, according to activist investors. In the proposal, which will be voted on at Amazon's annual shareholder meeting next spring, employees asked the company's board to say how it would respond to climate change and reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.
"We realized we could use our position as employees and our power and our rights as shareholders to bring visibility of this issue to the board and the top leaders of this company," said Eliza Pan, a program manager who has worked at Amazon for five years and is one of the employees who signed on to the proposal.
Ms. Pan, who earned Amazon shares as part of her compensation package, said workers must own at least $2,000 in stock for a year to file a shareholder proposal. "We had this power, and we wanted to leverage that power," she said.
The proposal will only move forward if it garners support from enough shareholders—most notably, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, who owns 16 percent of the company and also happens to be the richest man in the world. But as Pan put it, "Banding together with other shareholders amplifies my voice and makes all of our voices more powerful."
Emily Cunningham, a user experience designer who also has received stock in the company and is supporting the climate proposal, said, "It's important to make change and work for change wherever you happen to be, and I happen to be an employee at Amazon." Expanding on her comments to the Times in a lengthy thread of tweets, Cunningham added:
[Climate] change is about "HUMANITY," about justice. It's also an issue of our national security, health, safety, economy. Climate change is changing & will change everything. It's effecting everything we care about. From the devastating floods in Kerala, India to the #CampFire in CA, we're living through the climate crisis as it destroys communities and kills people living their lives. It's hitting the most vulnerable among us.
...The technology and solutions to climate change are, to a large extent, known and available. And each one of us, in whatever way we can, need to be part of the cultural shift underway to make this a political reality because we're running out of time.
News of the shareholder petitions caught the attention of a few high-profile climate activists, including journalist Naomi Klein—who called it a "very interesting development"—and 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben, who called the Times report an "important story."
Noting that "East Antarctica is melting, animal & insect numbers are plummeting, [and] fires & weather are going crazy," 350 Seattle encouraged readers to sign a petition in support of the employees seeking an Amazon climate plan:
East Antarctica is melting, animal & insect numbers are plummeting, fires & weather are going crazy...& employees t… https://t.co/H7CMcRfFMU— 350 Seattle (@350 Seattle)1545006481.0
"Amazon's shipping business runs on diesel, gasoline, and jet fuel. Some data centers are still coal-powered," the petition notes. Although the company doesn't disclose any information about its carbon footprint, 350 Seattle estimates that last year alone, its shipping operations generated more than 19 million metric tons of CO2—"the equivalent of nearly five coal-fired power plants."
Amazon, which is based in Seattle, declined to comment on the employees' proposal, but Kara Hurst, the company's director of worldwide sustainability, told the
Times, "We have set a goal to power our global infrastructure with 100 percent renewable energy and are investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency innovations," pointing to the fact that 25 fulfillment centers are powered by solar energy and efforts to cut back on packing materials.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.