By Daisy Simmons
Nevada City, California. Amidst a historic pandemic and social unrest, watching the accelerating impacts of climate change on the silver screen could create a sense of helplessness – or deepen the resolve to act. Emphasizing the latter, "Resilient by Nature" was the official theme of the recent Wild & Scenic Film Festival, an entirely virtual affair this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than a tagline, a sense of resilience was palpable throughout the online event, from the festival's stirring poster art, through the 100-plus documentaries that emphasized solutions, and even into the Zoom-based lobby, where attendees could drop in for a trivia game, casual conversation about the films, or even a BYOB beer tasting.
Held by the South Yuba River Conservation League (SYRCL), the 19th annual festival also played up opportunities to act on climate and other environmental issues, from participating in virtual activism workshops to simply getting outside: Self-guided excursions included the memorable "It's All Newt to Me," a guide to local amphibians.
Despite the creative ways to come together virtually, however, there was also disappointment that the event could not be held in person. Yet even this regret seemed unifying, at least in the virtual media lounge, where several filmmakers expressed an appreciation for being able to sit in on each other's video-conference interviews – pleasantly intimate conversations that any attendee could also enjoy from the comfort of their own couch, live or after the fact.
Flexibility was indeed a silver lining of the virtual festival experience, as audiences could view most of the films at any time, from any WiFi-enabled device, during the 11-day festival.
Five Documentaries to Add to Your Climate Watchlist
Resilience doesn't mean being Pollyannaish. The festival's standout climate documentaries tackled some of today's most sobering subjects, from the devastating Camp Fire that leveled Paradise, Calif. in 2018, to existential threats faced by indigenous Arctic communities experiencing intensifying oil and gas development.
Yet even these darkest of explorations reveal stories of fierce hope and determination, a reminder that heroic action on climate isn't just possible – it's happening now.
A glance at five documentaries* that may inspire your own conviction that worthy ways forward exist:
2040 (92 min. documentary, see trailer below)
How will 2040 look for the youth of today? Australian director and narrator Damon Gameau imagines a hopeful future for his four-year-old daughter, Ella – a vision that is profoundly realistic as it is based on solutions that are already available. Yet despite the film's optimism, there is no sugarcoating here. Gameau opens with a frank description of the climate crisis, albeit in terms a young child can grasp, demonstrating greenhouse gases with a steamy shower, for one example, and the danger of melting "glaciers" spilling out of the freezer, for another.
From there an expedition in "fact-based dreaming" takes off, as the film crisscrosses the world to explore some of the most promising current "solutions," including renewable energy, driverless cars, regenerative agriculture, marine permaculture, and empowering girls. For each category, we see resourceful and dedicated people in action today, followed by a fanciful, often humorous, dramatization of Ella's future, 20-something self, living in a world rich with these solutions. Will there be a giant world party in 2040 to celebrate the success of these efforts? There's no way to know whether Gameau's hopeful vision will or won't pan-out, but he points out that "we have everything we need to make it happen."
The Last Ice (83 min. documentary, see trailer below)
A new race is afoot in the waters between Canada and Greenland, where steadily melting sea ice is opening up the potential for faster shipping, increased oil extraction, and other commercial pursuits. As industries vie for space in the newly open waters, indigenous communities are rallying to protect the Arctic as they long have known it.
Taking home the Wild and Scenic "Best of the Fest" award, The Last Ice follows the personal journeys of several Inuit people whose lives are fundamentally tied to the land and wildlife, including a young man with dreams of being a hunter, who is deeply devoted to his sled dogs, and a woman working to keep her culture's ancient traditions alive, one text at a time. Mixing in archival footage and current science and political news, the film traces the threads of globalization that led to this moment over the past century, from the first forced resettlements of Inuit communities, to container ships cutting ever-more swiftly through the ice.
Through it all, there's stunning landscapes bedazzled with Northern lights; threatened, majestic animals like polar bears and narwhals; and a fervor for preserving Inuit ways of life. They combine to make the case that it's in our shared best interest to keep the Arctic from becoming a Wild West of extraction.
Public Trust | The Fight for America's Public Lands (96 min. documentary, see trailer below)
Spanning around 640 million acres and 28% of the United States' land, the nation's public lands are a uniquely American birthright – and the center of a fight over what to do with them. Do we exploit natural resources to further economic activity? Or do we preserve them from extractive industry use, to keep ecosystems and their beauty intact for future generations? Are those poles-apart choices the only two options?
This film documents both sides of what has become a cultural war over "the last large-scale public asset on the planet," from the deserts of Utah, the storied Boundary Waters of Minnesota, and the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge – all threatened by oil and gas development and/or mining. But at its core, it's also a love letter to these places, and the people across the country working to protect diverse lands.
Winner of one the festival's pair of Jury Awards, Public Trust features a refreshing mix of personalities, including a hunter and investigative reporter from north Alabama. Feeling a deeply personal stake in the future of the public lands he grew up on, he is working to "follow the money" to help Americans see who's behind the destruction of our public lands.
During production, the Trump administration opened up large areas of public land to oil and gas development. Now, viewed from the fresh reality of a new administration, it may comfort some viewers to know that a Biden administration executive order has already begun halting oil and gas leasing on federal lands.
Rebuilding Paradise (91 min. documentary, see trailer below)
The deadliest fire in California history captured international attention when it decimated Paradise in 2018. But the town's story didn't end there.
It takes grit not to fast-forward through the first harrowing 10 minutes of this Ron Howard-directed documentary. Raw dashcam footage and emergency call audio blend into a nightmarish sequence of escape from the smoke-blackened town. As the flames leap higher, a police officer, alone in his cruiser, slows down to pass his own home, stiffly reports that it is engulfed in flames, then plunges back into the darkness.
From there, though, the film shifts from disaster to what comes next for locals who choose to stay and rebuild, like the former mayor who can't wait to rebuild, and the school counselor whose own home was spared but feels crushing guilt when she runs through her now-empty neighborhood.
As the year goes on, the pain doesn't subside – it somehow gets harder, for the counselor at least. There are water contamination issues to confront, the lingering trauma that strains the police officer's marriage, and an angry town meeting with PG&E, the utility whose faulty equipment started the fire.
But life has indeed gone on in Paradise. Somehow the high school remained standing, and six months after the Camp Fire, graduating seniors light up the field with exquisite joy.
Some people argue against rebuilding because the risk of another fire is too high. The former mayor, however, is defiant in his decision to stay. "A lot of people think it's wrong to rebuild. I'm 74, I don't give a damn. Is it right to build a house in a hurricane zone in Miami on the beach? This is where I want to be."
Wild Climate (27 min. documentary, see trailer below)
Got wanderlust? Enjoy a classic cross-country road from your living room with Virginia and Peter Sargent, as they cruise through rural America to get to know people whose livelihoods are threatened by climate change. Together with their dogs, Trout and Salmon, the Sargents camp out in public lands along their way to meet folks like farmers, hunters, fishermen, and even pro snowboarders, all seeing the increasing effects of climate change in their daily lives from intensified drought thwarting the Colorado farmer, to the impacts of wildfire on a hunting outfitting company in Idaho.
Interspersed with these stories is data confirming the science behind their experiences. For example, the pro snowboarder is already seeing his work threatened by diminishing snowpack; that makes sense given that western U.S. snowpack declined by 10-20% between the 1980s and 2000s, with another 60% loss anticipated in the next 30 years.
But more than a series of interviews and scenic views, the Sargents themselves give the film heart. These aren't just big city slickers swooping in and out of little towns to get the scoop and high-tail it to the next location. There's respect and even, at times, reverence for the people they meet along the way. Of the family farmers in Idaho, Peter says, "I think Purple Sage represents the best that family farms have to offer in this country. And there are so many more like them. And it's also an aspiration. It's the kind of family I want to create with Virginia."
Note: Some of the above films may not yet be available yet for general audience streaming. Keep an eye out for a local edition of the Wild and Scenic On Tour program, coming soon to roughly 250 local events across the U.S.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
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By John R. Platt
The period of the 45th presidency will go down as dark days for the United States — not just for the violent insurgency and impeachment that capped off Donald Trump's four years in office, but for every regressive action that came before.
It's been said that Trump was the worst environmental president in history, and that's easy to see from his administration's record. They rolled back decades of environmental progress by slashing protective regulations, strangled the agencies tasked with enforcing the regulations that remained, pushed corporate agendas damaging to wildlife, human health and the climate, and stoked the flames of right-wing extremists — including people whose radical agendas often attack public-land protections or climate science.
That barely covers it all, of course. It would take an entire book — a whole library — to fully convey the environmental damage done under Trump.
And now it's up to a new administration — and the work of a lot of people on top of it — to undo the damage and hopefully make up for four lost years of potential progress.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, together with the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, have a tough task ahead of them.
Make that many tough tasks. They'll need to rebuild the ranks of government workforces while reinforcing the trust in government and the trust in America on the world stage. They'll need to pass and restore regulations that don't just return us to the status quo but radically improve on it — taking the world forward at a time when the effects of climate change and the extinction crisis continue to worsen. 2020 tied for the hottest year on record, and Trump added fewer species to the Endangered Species Act than any other president while slashing protections for those already on the list. They'll need to address environmental justice at a time when white supremacy is at its most vocal point in decades and firmly entrenched in some areas of government. They'll need to resist the usual corporate influence that could slow things down along the way.
And they'll need to do it all while helping the country stabilize and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and Trump's botched response to the crisis, not to mention the continued threat from seditious domestic terrorists.
That's a lot on one plate, but they're already off to a good start. Biden and Harris ran on a strong climate platform and have assembled an experienced climate team. Neither the platform nor the team is perfect — progressives think they can do much better — but they're light years ahead of anything we saw under the previous administration.
And of course, now that the Democrats have won the Senate, Biden's cabinet picks are more likely to be confirmed and the country will no longer face the obstruction ever-present under the majority leadership of Mitch McConnell.
But at the same time, Republicans have risen to power in cities and state legislatures around the country, and many of them are still fueled by MAGA Trumpism and unhinged conspiracy theories. The right-wing media, meanwhile, continue to shape and mold millions with their unique brand of misinformation and discord. Both trends will present a barrier to progress at every level.
So what's the agenda for moving forward under the Biden-Harris administration? Below, you'll find a series of articles and expert commentaries from The Revelator's archives addressing key steps the incoming team can take to restore the EPA, protect key species, address the COVID-19 pandemic in a just and climate-focused manner, and more.
We'll continue to add to these roadmaps as the administration gets its footing, and we invite any insiders and experts to contribute their own voices.
And here's a report from our parent organization, the Center for Biological Diversity:
Reposted with permission from The Revelator.
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See how you can save money on solar panels in Florida.
Florida is well-known as the Sunshine State because of its year-round sunny weather that draws millions of tourists each year, but historically, Florida hasn't actually been a national leader when it comes to solar energy generation. That said, financial incentives like Florida solar tax credit and rebate opportunities have played a huge part in its rise to become one of the top states for solar energy.
To the glee of clean energy advocates across the state, various Florida solar incentives have succeeded in bringing solar power throughout the state. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, in 2020, Florida ranked third in the nation for solar energy capacity, and it had the second-most installations during the second quarter of 2021.
This progress in the solar field comes from many different sources, not the least of which is Florida solar incentives. For any homes or businesses feeling left behind while the rest of the state goes solar, these types of solar tax credits are still widely available across Florida, which will be discussed in this article.
For most homeowners, the decision to go solar comes down to cost. To see how much you'd pay for a home solar system (and how much you can shave off that price with Florida solar tax credit and incentive opportunities), you can get a free quote from a top solar company near you by using this tool or filling out the form below.
Florida Solar Tax Credits and Solar Rebates
As much as transitioning to clean energy is the best thing for the environment and the fight against climate change, the reality has always been that such changes would be slow to happen (if they happened at all) unless they made sense financially. When solar energy systems are proven to save money for those who pay the high upfront costs to install them, those purchases are better considered a worthy investment.
As such, some of the most effective policies encouraging solar installations have been those making the decision a no-brainer from the budgetary perspective. Let's take a look at some of the top Florida solar incentives.
|Florida Solar Incentive||Program Overview|
|Florida Net Metering Programs||Credits homeowners when their solar panels produce extra electricity and it is exported to the local power grid|
|Florida Tax Exemptions||Property tax exemptions and sales tax exemptions for solar and other renewable energy equipment|
|Local Incentives||Incentives, rebates and low-interest financing programs at the town, city, and county level that encourage local solar installations|
Florida Net Metering Programs
Regardless of the state, one of the most critical types of energy policy for solar panels is known as net metering. Through net metering, homeowners can feed excess electricity produced by their solar panels into the power grid in exchange for utility credits. These credits can be used to pay for the energy a home uses when panels aren't producing (such as at night).
Net metering tends to be a state-by-state policy, as there is no federal policy regarding net metering. Florida is one of the states where there is, in fact, a statewide net metering program, applicable for homeowners regardless of which utility serves their area.
The specific net metering provision covers up to 2 megawatts (MW) of capacity for any customers who generate electricity with a renewable energy source. Florida Power & Light and Duke Energy have the largest net metering programs in the state.
The availability of such net metering serves as an incentive for Floridians to install solar panels on their property. Not only do they benefit by reducing their power bills from pulling energy from the grid less often, but they can even profit when the utility pays them for generating more power than they consume, bringing their solar payback period down.
Florida Solar Tax Exemptions
Another financial mechanism that the Florida state government offers to solar system owners is solar tax exemptions. To start, Florida doesn't want to make the upfront cost to purchase and install solar equipment to be any higher than the open market says it should be, so since 1997, all solar energy systems have been completely exempt from Florida's sales and use tax.
Once a solar photovoltaic system is purchased and installed, there is a statewide property tax abatement that further helps homeowners avoid paying taxes on it. Most home additions, such as a new shed or outdoor patio built in a home's backyard, would be appraised to determine the value it added to the property and thus increase the overall property tax. However, the added home value of solar panels is excluded from the property's taxable value.
Florida is also a large, diverse state, so in addition to the state solar incentives, many local jurisdictions enact their own policies to encourage and support installation of solar energy systems. At the town, city or county level, Floridians will commonly find low-interesting solar financing options, specific solar incentives or rebates, and more.
You can determine whether your locality offers such incentives by investigating your local government websites or talking to utility company representatives. When you do, you may come across such successful programs as Jacksonville's $2,000 rebate for solar battery installations, Boynton Beach's Energy Edge Rebate Program, or the Solar Energy Rebate Grant Program offered by Dunedin.
Federal Solar Tax Credit
Floridians, of course, can also benefit from all the tax incentives, rebates and credits that are offered at the federal level. Over the past two decades, the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) has attributed largely to the rapid growth in solar energy across business sectors, geographies and customer types.
For systems installed and operational before the end of 2022, the federal solar tax credit is equal to 26% of the value of the installation, dropping to 22% for systems installed in 2023. It is currently set to expire afterward, though the idea of extending the ITC beyond its current expiration date, as has been done in the past, has been a part of active clean energy policy debates.
FAQ: Florida Solar Incentives
Does Florida have a solar tax credit?
State-wide, there is no specific Florida solar tax credit. However, all utilities in the state of Florida do offer customers the ability to utilize net metering, Florida solar homeowners are eligible for the federal solar tax credit, and some local jurisdictions in Florida may offer their own tax credits.
Is solar tax exempt in Florida?
In Florida, the purchase and installation of a home solar system is exempt from all sales tax, and the value of renewable systems are excluded from 100% of residential property taxes.
How much is the solar tax credit for 2022?
For any solar panel system installed before the end of 2022, the federal solar investment tax credit is equal to 26% of the value of the system.
Is Florida a good state for solar?
Florida is a great state for solar from the perspective of having year-round sunny weather, higher-than-average solar irradiance and a policy landscape conducive to solar installations. Because of these factors, Florida ranked third among all states in terms of solar capacity installed in 2020 (rising to second when looking at the third quarter of 2021), per the SEIA.
How much do solar panels cost in Florida?
Based on market research and data from top solar companies, we've found the average cost of solar panels in Florida is $2.53 per watt. However, this is only an average, and prices can vary widely depending on where you live, the number of solar panels you need and more.
To get a free estimate for your own home solar system, you can get connected with a pre-screened local installer by using this tool or entering your home's information below.
CBD, one of the many compounds found in the cannabis plant, has been getting a lot of attention recently. Some of it good and some of it bad. Increasingly, people in the UK are turning to CBD oils for help in relieving pain, anxiety, sleep and a host of other health issues. Find out which brands made our list of the best CBD oil in the U.K. below.
While CBD is gaining in popularity, and more products are becoming available on the high street and online, there is little scientific research to back the claims made by some CBD product manufacturers. That's why if you're going to buy CBD oil it is important to understand what you're purchasing and to choose products from brands that lab test their products and make the results available to customers.
To help you find the best CBD oil available in the UK, we've done all the hard work and created a list of the best CBD oil brands and products that are available online for you to choose from.
Our Top Picks for Best CBD Oils in the U.K.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
How We Chose the Best CBD in the U.K
To create this list of CBD oil producers and sellers, we've:
- Spoken with over 100 different producers
- Tested over 50 products for potency, quality and accuracy of labelling
- Tried every product on the list
We've tested CBD oils for taste, consistency, cannabinoid profile, value, and accuracy of lab test results to compile our list of the best CBD oils available online today.
Our readers also provide feedback on the brands they've tried and like or don't rate so much. We take our readers' feedback into consideration when we make our Buyer's Guides.
We also work directly with many of the leading CBD brands to bring you their latest offers and discounts, so it's worth checking back to see how you can continue to get the best value CBD oils for your money.
It is important to note that the details for the products listed here are not intended for diagnosing, treating, curing or preventing any particular disease. If you take prescription medicines you should speak to your GP or other healthcare professional before you take CBD oil about possible drug on drug interactions.
In this buyer's guide to CBD oils in the U.K., you'll find:
- A list of the brands we trust most
- A price comparison chart to help you find the best value CBD oil
- The potential benefits that you can derive from CBD oil
- CBD dosage recommendations
- How to pick the best CBD oil for your needs
CBD oil works differently for everyone and just because something works well for a friend or colleague doesn't necessarily mean it'll be as effective for you. Fortunately, there are many options out there to choose from. The CBD market is growing fast, however, quality can vary between brands, which is why we have conducted our own research to compile a list of CBD products that we think are the best.
Evopure CBD drops are independently tested and they offer a line of broad spectrum hemp oil in multiple concentrations. As a bonus, all of their oils are extracted from organically grown US hemp on farms that use sustainable farming practices. The Flow blend is best for stress and anxiety. Evopure also has a sleep blend available.
Why buy: Since these drops use broad spectrum CBD oil, they contain zero THC while still providing you with all of the other benefits of a full spectrum oil. They are also organic, vegan, and non-GMO.
If you're looking for a tasty CBD oil, there are various flavours available at Love Hemp, including natural, peppermint, and orange. Their CBD products are also certified THC free, and have a precise amount of CBD for easy dosing.
Why buy: Love Hemp is the leading CBD brand in the UK and for good reason, we haven't found a better product for the price.
CBDistillery offers a range of CBD products, including oil tinctures, softgels, gummies, and topicals. Their most popular product is the Relief + Relax CBD oil, made with full spectrum CBD in several different potencies.
Why buy: All products from CBDistillery use CBD sourced from non-GMO industrial hemp grown using natural farming methods in the U.S. The CBD oil they use is CO2 extracted and tested by independent third-party labs.
aire tinctures are natural, organic, and ethically sourced. The oils contain no THC and are tested by the Cannabis Trade Association approved testing laboratories. Each 10ml bottle contains 1500mg of CBD.
Why buy: Since this is a stronger blend, aire recommends the 015 bottle for more experienced CBD users.
As the most popular tincture from Blessed CBD, this 1,000mg formula is potent and full-spectrum, but still contains less than 0.2% THC. This family run business spent 12 months searching for the best hemp source, eventually settling on a hemp extract from organically grown, non-GMO, hemp plants in Colorado. This ensures that each drop of CBD oil contains rich cannabinoids and terpenes for enhanced effects.
Why buy: We didn't find a single negative review online, which speaks volumes for the quality and effectiveness of their products.
For a tincture with a high potency, the No. 30 CBD oil from Eir Health contains 3000mg of CBD in one 30mL bottle. This equates to 100mg per serving.
Why buy: This full spectrum oil is packed with cannabinoids and terpenes that come from organically grown European hemp plants.
The key numbers to look at are the cost of CBD per mg (how much you're paying for your CBD) and the mg of CBD per mL (how much CBD you're getting per milligram). Where possible, compare each brand's 1,000mg product. It's worth bearing in mind that a higher strength bottle may be more cost effective in the long run.
For instance, Eir Health's 30ml 3,000mg bottle works out at £0.04 per milligram and delivers 100 milligrams per milliliter. So if you're looking for a higher strength bottle which will last you, paying slightly more initially would be beneficial. It's worth bearing in mind that a higher strength bottle may be more cost effective in the long run. For instance, Eir Health's 30ml 3,000mg bottle works out at £0.04 per milligram and delivers 100 milligrams per milliliter. So if you're looking for a higher strength bottle which will last you, paying slightly more initially would be beneficial.
What is CBD Oil?
CBD is short for cannabidiol and is a chemical compound found in all varieties of the cannabis plant. CBD oil has become popular in recent years due to changing worldwide legislation. In the UK specifically, there were several high-profile medical cases relating to medicinal cannabis and the treatment of children with epilepsy and other health conditions. CBD is the non-psychoactive component of cannabis and, it's thought, the primary cannabinoid that interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system. This system promotes homeostasis, or balance, and regulates physiological and cognitive functions such as mood, appetite, and how we feel pain caused by inflammation.
CBD oil is produced using a range of extraction methods, including CO2 or ethanol extraction, and then added to a carrier oil, such as MCT coconut oil, to create a tincture with a broad range of possible health benefits. CBD oil is just one form that this cannabinoid can be found in and is different to hemp seed oil, which is generally used as a dietary supplement for the essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals it imparts. Hemp seed oil is produced by cold pressing hemp seeds and creating a dark coloured oil with the nutrient-rich composition described above. CBD, on the other hand, is extracted from the flower and leaves of hemp plants.
CBD is wildly popular for its potential therapeutic effects, which some clinical trials and animal studies have found to help with a number of symptoms and conditions that CBD may help alleviate, including:
Benefits of CBD Oil
- Chronic pain
The most common health and lifestyle issues that people turn to CBD oil for are:
- Anxiety – CBD oil has been found to relieve symptoms of anxiety in people in several small studies. This is not restricted to one form of anxiety as social anxiety, generalised anxiety, panic attacks and some forms of depression have all been found to be relieved with CBD oil. It's thought that this is achieved by changing the way the brain reacts to anxiety.
- Pain – CBD oil for pain is another area that anecdotal evidence and limited medical studies show people may find relief. CBD may help reduce inflammation in the body and therefore, relieve pain. Chronic pain, back pain and generalised pain have all been shown to be relieved with CBD oil.
- Sleep – Falling asleep and staying asleep for longer periods may be enhanced with CBD oil. Both direct and indirect benefits for sleep can be derived from CBD oil. An oil or edible form of CBD can help to calm the mind (indirect) and in some cases, taking CBD can make the user drowsy (direct).
While there are a wide range of benefits that may be derived from CBD oil, the MHRA – which stands for the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and is the equivalent to America's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – has taken the stance that unless a CBD product has been approved as a medication it cannot make any medical claims on its packaging or in its marketing. This means producers need to hold a product licence to legally sell, supply or advertise them as medicine in the UK. However, no licences for selling CBD oil as a medicine have been granted by the MHRA to date. The MHRA advises people to speak to their GP or other healthcare professional if they are considering taking CBD products.
Is CBD Oil Legal in the UK?
Yes, but there is some confusion. In the UK and EU, CBD products are completely legal, as long as they have been derived from industrial hemp and contain no more than 1mg of THC per product. But the general advice is that UK CBD oil should contain no more than 0.01% THC, as current testing standards may not be able to detect 1mg of THC.
It has been reported that CBD Oil in the UK with no more than 0.2% THC is legal but this only applies to the cultivation of hemp and not CBD oils, which are hemp derivatives. Also, any THC contained in CBD products must be difficult to separate from the rest of the product. There are two exceptions to this law; one for Sativex, a 50% CBD and 50% THC product approved by the MHRA as a medication for treating multiple sclerosis symptoms, and for the prescription of cannabis derived medicinal products by specialist clinicians. The second exception came into law in November of 2018 after several cases were brought to court requesting the use of medical cannabis products to alleviate severe epileptic symptoms in two children.
CBD Strength and Concentrations
Concentrations of CBD in oils vary from 1mg of CBD per millilitre to 50 or 400mg per millilitre.
If a bottle has 1000mg of CBD in a 10ml bottle, this means that 100mg of CBD is dissolved in every 1ml of liquid. You can work out the number of milligrams of CBD in each millilitre by dividing the milligrams (weight) of CBD by the millilitres (volume) of the bottle; for this example, that's 1000 divided by 10 which works out at 100mg per ml.
Many UK-based brands highlight the percentage of CBD in their products, such as 5% or 10% CBD. This simply refers to the weight of the drug by volume measured in grams in 100 millilitres. Using the example above, we need to convert 1,000 milligrams to grams, which is 1 gram of CBD, that's our weight. And as the bottle is 10ml, we divide 1 gram by 10 millilitres, and multiply by 100 to get our percentage, which is 10%.
How to Dose with CBD Oil
Advice on how much CBD oil you should take varies. It's almost impossible to find a definitive answer based on clinical guidance so people need to experiment in order to find out what works best for them. It's wise to start with a low dose and work your way up to find a dosage that works for you. Understanding different product types and labelling will help you to properly measure the amount of CBD to take.
Because dose guidelines are limited, it's best to start low and work your way up to a dose of CBD oil that works for you. One resource we've found suggests starting at 1 – 6mg of CBD per 10lbs of body weight. This would mean an average UK woman weighing 11 stone, could take anywhere between 15 – 92mg of CBD per dose. This could be broken into smaller doses throughout the day instead of taking all in one go.
Typically, 10ml works out to approximately 200 drops. Using the same example above, we know 1ml contains 100mg of CBD. That would mean to take 100mg of CBD you would need 20 drops of the CBD Oil. We got to that number by dividing 200 by 10. To get 15mg of CBD you would need to take only 3 drops.
What is the Correct CBD Oil Dosage?
How to take CBD and the concentrations for each does will vary depending on the condition you are looking to find relief from. For example, if you're taking CBD oil for anxiety, regular, lower doses seems to be appropriate. CBD oil for sleep calls for a single, higher dose no more than an hour before bed. That's not medical advice, that's what we've gleaned from people who use CBD products.
Dosing is the most common question people have about CBD oil and other products. It's also the question we're most often asked. We cannot overstate the fact that there is no one definitive answer.
With that being said, here is a typical dosing guide to help you get started:
CBD Oil Dosing Guide
How your body reacts to CBD is different to everyone else. The reason to take CBD is also personal to you – some people want to feel relaxed, others are thinking of a daily supplement to boost their health. CBD oil capsules can give your body a steady supply of cannabinoids to absorb over the course of the day. Oils will have you feeling the effects faster, but they still take time a small amount of time to work their way into your system (usually somewhere between 5 and 20 minutes). If you don't feel the effects immediately, don't take more. CBD can have an accumulative effect so wait a while before re-dosing.
Use Your Head
If you want to take 50mg of CBD and buy gummies containing 10mg each, consider the amount of sugar you'll also consume to get your CBD dose. Remember you're looking for a supplement, not a sugary snack. Choose the product that makes the most sense in regard to the dose of CBD you wish to take.
It's also worth considering price. If you find oils that declare 500mg of CBD for £15, yet everywhere else is selling the same for £50, ask yourself a few questions. Is it likely that the cheaper brand has found a way to lower the cost of growing, extracting and packaging their CBD that the others haven't? It's more likely that the cheaper brand is making bogus claims or misleading you in regards to the quality of CBD in their product? Check online guides, research brands, read a comparison list, and do your homework so you are sure you are purchasing the best CBD products for your individual circumstances.
How to Buy the Right CBD Oil Online
Consider How Much You Want to Spend
Before you purchase CBD oil online, you should consider how much you're comfortable spending. Products can be expensive, so setting an upward limit can help you narrow down the selection and find something that works for you, without breaking your budget.
Check the Test Results
The best CBD products and brands show third-party test results on their websites, or sometimes send them to you if requested. There are a few points you should look out for when viewing test results that can help you decide which brand is best for you.
- Batch numbers – Some brands are fastidious about testing and you can check individual batch numbers for products. This lets you follow a crop from soil, to lab, to bottle. Test results should be recent, within the last quarter is good, within the past year is acceptable, anything more is less helpful.
- Cannabinoid strength, potency and terpene levels – A recent UK study by the Centre for Medical Cannabis found 62% of UK CBD mislabelled. Checking on test results can help you confirm the CBD, THC and other terpene levels found in products.
- Heavy metals and pesticides – Hemp sucks up whatever is in the soil. This can compromise the quality of CBD products and is why we like established brands that use land free from pesticides and heavy metals, as opposed to pop-up brands that may source their product from growers using unproven ground. Test results should show the heavy metal content of CBD products is below the safe threshold.
- Solvents and bacteria – All CBD products should be free from solvents and manufactured in clean facilities that are free from bacteria such as salmonella.
If you are making a purchase via the internet, always make sure to review recent Certificates of Analysis.
Check to See What Kind of CBD Extract is Used in the Product
CBD products in the UK fall into three different categories: Oils with THC, broad spectrum, and isolate. Full and Broad-spectrum CBD oils are thought to have greater therapeutic benefits as the multiple cannabinoids work together. This is known as the 'entourage effect'. Experts we have spoken to support the idea of 'whole-plant therapy'. Some people may prefer CBD isolate if they are subject to drug tests through work and so on.
Consider the Taste
Some people can stand the taste of hemp. The earthy green flavour can be a turn off. Some CBD oil products have milder hemp flavours or natural additives that mask the hemp flavour to make them more palatable.
While you need to be aware of scammers, there are a lot of great brands that care about their product and customers. In terms of taste and strength of product, you may find it helps to try a range of brands to find the one that suits your personal preferences best.
Is CBD oil safe?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) released a report in 2017 stating that there was little potential for abuse of CBD. Furthermore, they recognised the potential therapeutic benefits that could be derived from CBD for treating a wide range of conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, cancer and diabetic complications, along with general pain, anxiety and depression.
Does CBD get you stoned?
No. CBD is the non-psychoactive component of cannabis. THC is the compound that has a psychoactive effect when taken in large enough doses (more than the 0.2% found in CBD products). Someone would need to smoke a CBD joint the size of a telephone mast to feel any psychoactive effects. CBD products allow people to get beneficial cannabinoids into their system to help their body function better, without becoming 'high' or 'stoned'.
How long does CBD oil last?
This partly depends on how quickly your body processes CBD and also the kind of CBD product you use. 6 – 8 hours is generally the length of time CBD oils will provide a noticeable effect.
Some products, like capsules are considered a daily supplement that needs to be taken over a period of time for it to reach its potential. Other kinds of CBD are faster acting and stronger; these types of products are better for specific issues such as social anxiety, problems with public speaking, or irregular and unexpected pain or discomfort.
Can I take too much CBD Oil?
You need to be careful about taking anything that will affect your health and if you are taking other medication, you should definitely discuss how CBD might interact with them, with your GP or healthcare professional. That said, most experts agree it is impossible to overdoes on CBD and even the World Health Organisation has published a report stating CBD is non-toxic and safe to use.
If you do take a very high dose of CBD, you may experience dizziness, lethargy, nausea, dry mouth and diarrhoea, but this will pass as your body processes the dose you have taken.
Other Types of CBD Products
This page covers most of what you need to know about CBD oils. If you're in the states, we also have this helpful list of organic CBD oil brands. There are lots of CBD products on the market, and each have their pros and cons.
If you're interested in CBD gummies, topicals, capsules or anything else, check out our additional online guides to find out all about the CBD product that interests you most.
Melena Gurganus is passionate about health and wellness and her writing aims to help others find products they can trust. Her work has been featured in publications such as Health, Shape, Huffington Post, Cannabis Business Times, and Bustle.
By John R. Platt
These days many of us have a natural inclination to "doomscroll" — that constant refreshing of social media so we can gnash our teeth at the most recent bad news.
There's an alternative. Let's call it hopescrolling — the art and act of looking for beautiful things and important information to keep us inspired.
With the pandemic and election results still looming over our heads, here are 20 of our favorite nature- and environment-related Instagram accounts. May they fill your days with beauty and drive you to fight for the planet.
Some of the best photos from the app that helps scientists and everyday citizens keep track of the natural world.
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Our #FlashbackFriday Observation of the Day is this Beauveria locustiphila #fungus (and its #orthopteran host), seen in #Ecuador back in 2011 by lolavioleta! Have a collection of old nature photos? You can upload them to iNaturalist to get some ID help and contribute to our growing biodiversity database! See our Getting Started guide here: https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/getting+started • More details at: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/56811526 #nature #mycology #fungi #biodiversity #naturephotography #insects #fungiofinstagram #fungusphotography
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The famed National Geographic photographer is on a mission to capture the world's biodiversity before it disappears.
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This species may be known as the common octopus, but its nothing short of spectacular. A well studied species, researchers have found that this octopus is able to tell how bright an object is, distinguish between different shapes, and recognize patterns. They are also exceptionally clever, successfully removing screw-on lids from jars and even retrieving food from commercial lobster traps. Photo taken @gulfspecimenaquarium. #WorldOctopusDay #common #octopus #commonoctopus #clever #intelligent #tentacles #orange #PhotoArk #savetogether
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Everyday Climate Change
Six photographers team up to showcase the very real effects of climate change around the world.
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This is Amanda Perobelli @amandamperobelli taking over @everydayclimatechange Instagram this week and sharing my work about the Pantanal, the world’s largest wetland on fire, on assignment for Reuters with journalist Jake Spring Dorvalino Conceicao Camargo, 56, who works on a ranch, attempts to put out a fire with a tree branch Sweating from the effort, Camargo said he had never seen fires this bad. "Everything is suffering," he said. Camargo recalled navigating the waters as a child in boxy canoes. Back on the ranch where he works, he showed the farm's high-water mark - 70 centimeters (2.3 feet) off the ground - hewn into the post of a cattle corral. Even in a dry year it's typically about half that, he said. This year, the floods never came. Only a little bit of water pooled in a ditch nearby, he said. Now as water evaporates in the dry season, the Paraguay River that traverses the Pantanal has receded to its lowest point since 1973, according to Julia Arieira, a climate researcher at Brazil's Federal University of Espirito Santo. With Jake Spring, for Reuters Link for the full text and story in my bio @amandamperobelli #climatechange #globalwarming #climatecrisis #pantanal
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Virunga National Park
This park is famously home to mountain gorillas, but its account shows so much more.
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#ReptileAwarenessDay⠀ ⠀ Tree Agama Lizards are found around Rumangabo in the Maura Forest. This female Agama is likely to be part of a polygamous group. Reptiles play an important part in ecosystems as they are both the predator and prey.
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Cornell Lab of Ornithology
All birds, all the time.
We've all seen the documentaries, but there's a lot more photos and videos to enjoy through this account.
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Wasssup 🐸 #EarthCapture by @rainerarmbruster Despite its name, the European green toad is also found across Asia and North Africa. This particular toad, known as "the changeable toad", is capable of changing colour in response to light and temperature changes within its environment. . . . . #bbcearth #amphibians #toads #frogs #europeangreentoad #greentoad #reptilesofinstagram #reptilephotography #wildlife #wildlifephotography #naturephotography #amazinganimals #nature #naturelovers #earth #earthlovers
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Zoe Keller Art
One of The Revelator's favorite nature artists. (Check out our interview with Keller here.)
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LIGHTNING SPEED • Prompt 27 for #WildOctoberArt ⚡️ This prompt would be a really great opportunity to do some gesture drawings! In process drawing of a chameleon at the beginning of this post. Inspiration in this post from: @cincinnatizoo @paulnicklen via @sealegacy @chameleon_craze
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Among the world's best insect photographers — and an important entomologist to boot.
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Carls of Ohio
A groundhog that lives in a friend's backyard. Hey — urban biodiversity matters.
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the world may be on fire but a chubby groundhog can still enjoy a carrot in 2020 🥕🔥🚒 🔈 #groundhog #groundhogs #groundhogsofinstagram #woodchuck #woodchucks #woodchucksofinstagram #wildohio #ohionature #asmreating #asmr #stressrelief #stressmanagement
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The Caterpillar Lab
So much color, plus background on some species (and body stages) that we tend to overlook.
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Caterpillar-of-the-Day Follow Along: Day 286⠀ ⠀ Like Some Heavy Fruit:⠀ Big Poplar Sphinx⠀ Pachysphinx modesta⠀ ⠀ Three poplar trees stand isolated in a large field in Gardner, Massachusetts. Like some heavy fruit or nut, the sphinx, clasping to remnant leaf petioles, dangle precariously in the wind. Far below, in the late July heat, I discover their frass and bits of discarded leaves. The big poplar sphinx is always out of my reach.⠀ ⠀ -------⠀ • Caterpillar: Pachysphinx modesta - Big Poplar Sphinx⠀ ⠀ • Range: Eastern and Central North America , west across the Northern US and Canada.⠀ ⠀ • Host Plants: A specialist feeder on poplars and willows. Seems to show a preference for Cottonwood here in the Northeast.⠀ ⠀ • Season: Caterpillars active in the Summer⠀ ⠀ • Where are they now: Pachysphinx overwinter as pupa in soil.⠀ -------⠀ ⠀ If you would like to follow along with us this year you can find posts like this one here on Instagram, follow us on Facebook, or just visit the front page of our website to see our expanded calendar graphic. For the best experience, order one of our physical Caterpillar-A-Day calendars so you can follow along, add notes, and learn more, as we go.⠀ ⠀ ⠀ #moths #mothsofinstagram #thecaterpillarlab #caterpillar #caterpillars #nature #naturephotography #science #entomology #lepidoptera #scienceeducation #naturalhistory #art #artandscience #buglife #exciting #insects #bugs #insectsofinstagram #followalong #lifecycle #2020 #macrophotography #insectphotography
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The conservation icon doesn't plan to be on Instagram very long — hey, he's in his nineties — but this account is gold.
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Everyone who made the film believes that nature is our greatest resource. The eternal energies of nature are our future. We have to move the whole world off fossil fuels, and we can all impact climate change by thinking about where and how we spend our money. A Life On Our Planet film is produced by @silverback_films and @wwf_uk Streaming on @netflix
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Drone the Whales
Amazing aerial footage of cetaceans around the world.
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This amazing artist/activist frequently works with our parent organization, the Center for Biological Diversity, but that's just a fraction of his inspirational output.
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This work, "Make it Through", was the first artwork I made this year, all the way back in January, what seems like a lifetime ago. I was trying to rework the idea that inspired "Face It" (second slide) to get at something that I missed the first time. The bird in Face It is a Scrub Jay, enduring the storm in the black walnut tree that grew in behind my house in 2009. The bird in Make it Through is a Wandering Albatross- great pelagic voyagers, crossing vast oceans with hardly a wingbeat. That was something more of the endurance that I wanted to convey, and goddamn it has taken a lot of endurance to get through this year up to this point- and it's not over yet. No matter how you are engaging with this experience I wish you the strength to go all the way through it and arrive, sunlit and with gentler winds, on the other side. . . . Make It a Through is available, send a DM. #art #print #printmaking #reliefprint #linocutprint #linoleumprint #reliefprint #blockprint #albatross #makeitthrough #justseeds
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National Park Service
Not only does this agency help protect amazing landscapes, it also employs some incredibly talented photographers. And they share great tips.
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“How to recognize different trees from quite a long way away. No. 1 The Larch” Larix occidentalis, the Western larch, turns a luminescent yellow in the fall, lighting up slopes in golden patches. As the days grow shorter and temperatures drop, photosynthesis becomes more difficult. The tree saves nutrients by ceasing the process. Larch needles change color as chlorophyll (the light-absorbing pigment that provides energy for photosynthesis) is absorbed back into the tree, leaving behind a yellow pigment, xanthophyll. Eventually the needles drop off the tree, leaving it bare-limbed until spring. Image: Larch trees in the western and southern portions of Glacier National Park turn bright yellow during the mid-to-late October. #findyourpark #nationalparkservice #larch #glacier #fallcolors
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The famed Native American activist is a source of constant inspiration.
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✊🏽🔥 Celebrating being Indigenous- We are still here >> Happy Indigenous Peoples Day! 🌿 Indigenous peoples comprise less than 5% of the world's population but protect 80% of global biodiversity. 💥 We must center Indigenous knowledge and sovereignty in the fight for climate and environmental justice. Thank you to the Indigenous activists and communities who—for millennia—have shown what being true stewards of the environment looks like. Learn more and look up whose land you occupy through the link in our bio. 📲 photo by @LittleRedfeather #IndigenousPeoplesDay #Biodiversity #IndigenousSovereignty #LandBack
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Public Lands Hate You
See what certain people do wrong when they try to celebrate the natural world — and remind yourself not to follow in their footsteps.
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The number of people who defend their off-trail travels as not having an impact is astounding. The thing is, humans are inherently lazy. We tend to take the path of least resistance. So, if someone wants to travel to the other side of a field, and they see a slightly beaten path that may have been taken by one or two people before them, they take it. This is how new trails are formed. The hiking community calls these “social trails”. They are unofficial trails that people use as the path of least resistance from Point A to Point B. The problem with social trails is that as they become more frequently used, they become permanent. First the vegetation is slightly disturbed. The people that follow then beat the vegetation flat. Continued use compacts soils to the point that they won’t support new growth. This breaks up what was previously homogenous habit into small fractured pieces. It's not good for vegetation. It’s not good for wildlife. And it certainly doesn’t make for good pictures. The 1st picture was taken by @waterproject. The 2nd is a Google Earth satellite image of the same location taken a few years prior. Notice the difference? How can someone look at these two photos side by side and say that there hasn’t been an impact? How much longer do you think this area can withstand this amount of abuse before it comes a dirt hillside with a couple of flower patches protected behind wooden fences? The next photos are close up views of what these new social trails look like, progressing from slightly disturbed vegetation, to fully flattened and dead vegetation, to fully compacted soils and new dirt "trails" that will require either human intervention or decades of natural forces to recover. This is the progression that we want to avoid. Resist the temptation to use social trails. Stick to the official dirt trails. They are obvious. They are generally wide enough for two or more people to walk side by side. They are a fully dirt surface with no vegetation present. You don’t need to create new trails for beautiful pictures that others will love, as seen in the last two photos. #leavenotrace #poppy #wildflowers #ethics #mindfulness #publiclands
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United Nations Environment Programme
This great account frequently features world-saving initiatives both large and small.
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⚠️ Air pollution is a threat to sustainable development & the #GlobalGoals 🙌 It is a problem we can solve together & will help achieve #CleanAirForAll ❓How? ✅ Ask governments to create policies & measures aimed at reducing air pollution ✅ Promote renewable energy ✅ Create safe, affordable & strong public transportation systems & pedestrian & cycle-friendly networks #ClearTheAir
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NASA Climate Change
Images and science about the planet. Expect lots of photos of melting icebergs.
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Study: If greenhouse gas emissions continue, Greenland and Antarctica’s ice sheets could contribute more than 15 inches (38 centimeters) of global sea level rise by 2100 – which is beyond the amount that has already been set in motion by Earth’s warming climate. • Full story: https://sealevel.nasa.gov/news/194/emissions-could-add-15-inches-to-sea-level-by-2100-nasa-led-study-finds • 📸: Ice shelves in Antarctica, such as the Getz Ice Shelf seen above, are sensitive to warming ocean temperatures. Ocean and atmospheric conditions are some of the drivers of ice sheet loss that scientists considered in a new study estimating additional global sea level rise by 2100. Credit: NASA/Jeremy Harbeck • #nasa #globalwarming #climatechange #sealevelrise #sealevelchange #greenland #antarctica #greenhousegas #fossilfuels #humanactivity #humanactivities #science #study #icemelt #iceloss #icesheet #water #ocean #carbon
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International Dark-Sky Association
This organization is devoted to protecting us from light pollution, and these photos will inspire you to look up into the night.
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We're back with another #WildlifeWednesday! Did you know that sloths have a sense of smell so sensitive that they can tell whether nearby branches are emitting whiffs of sap or not? Pretty cool, right? This allows them to swing only on branches that are healthy and avoid grabbing a dead one that may break and cause them to fall and injure themselves. This adaptation permits them to safely swing through forests in complete darkness.
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The Center for Biological Diversity
Our parent organization's Instagram account will both entertain you and keep you engaged in important activism. Just when you're needed most.
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The mating ritual of leopard slugs is beautifully odd. Each slug has both male and female sex organs. They mate while suspended from a mucus tether upside down. Why? Gravity helps their oversized penises emerge from an opening in their heads. Thanks to @thepobble for the footage.
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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. His "Extinction Countdown" column has run continuously since 2004 and has covered news and science related to more than 1,000 endangered species. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and the National Association of Science Writers. John lives on the outskirts of Portland, Ore., where he finds himself surrounded by animals and cartoonists.
Reposted with permission from The Revelator.
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By Tara Lohan
Our plastic pollution problem has reached new heights and new depths.
Scientists have found bits of plastic on the seafloor, thousands of feet below the ocean's surface. Plastic debris has also washed ashore on remote islands; traveled to the top of pristine mountains; and been found inside the bodies of whales, turtles, seabirds and people, too.
Tiny plastic particles are now ubiquitous and insidious. And the mounting pollution that swirls in ocean gyres and washes ashore on beaches poses a big threat to wildlife and ecosystems. So too, does the production of that plastic.
A number of recent studies — not to mention articles and essays published here in The Revelator — have helped pinpoint just how bad things have gotten and also what we can do about the problem. Here's what you should know about plastic:
1. There’s a lot of it.
In a September study published in Science about the growth of plastic waste, an international team of researchers estimated that 19 to 23 million metric tons — or 11% of plastic waste generated — ended up in aquatic ecosystems in 2016. And even with countries pledging to help cut waste or better manage it, the amount of plastic pollution is likely to double in the next 10 years.
A study about solutions to plastic waste, published in the same issue, attributed the plastic pollution epidemic to a rise in single-use plastic and "an expanding 'throw-away' culture." The researchers also found that waste-management systems simply can't deal with the onslaught of plastic, which is why so much of it ends up in the environment. We now know that only 9% of the plastic products we use actually get recycled.
2. The United States is a big culprit.
Plastic pollution is a global problem, but the United States plays an outsized role. In 2016 the United States was responsible for more plastic waste than any other country, a new study in Science Advances found. Some of that waste was dumped illegally within the country and some was shipped to other countries that lacked the necessary infrastructure to handle it.
"The amount of plastic waste generated in the United States estimated to enter the coastal environment in 2016 was up to five times larger than that estimated for 2010, rendering the United States' contribution among the highest in the world," the researchers concluded. Part of that is because the United States ranks second in exporting plastic scrap.
3. It threatens wildlife and ecosystems.
A giant otter plays with a plastic bottle. Paul Williams / CC BY-NC 2.0
Out of sight (for Americans) is not out of mind — and definitely not out of our waterways. An estimated 700 marine species and 50 freshwater species have either ingested plastic or been entangled in it.
"If we don't get the plastic pollution problem in the ocean under control, we threaten contaminating the entire marine food web, from phytoplankton to whales," George Leonard, the Ocean Conservancy's chief scientist and coauthor of the September Science study about plastic waste's increase, told National Geographic. "And by the time the science catches up to this, perhaps definitively concluding that this is problematic, it will be too late. We will not be able to go back. That massive amount of plastic will be embedded in the ocean's wildlife essentially forever."
Microplastics have also been found in terrestrial animals, soil, drinking water and, not surprisingly, in our own bodies, although it's not clear yet just how dangerous that is for people.
4. The fracking boom is producing a plastic boom.
Despite the known risks of plastic pollution and concern over its mounting presence in the environment, plastic production — driven by fossil fuels like fracked gas and its component chemicals — is on pace to increase by 40% in the next 10 years.
The American Chemistry Council boasted that shale gas drilling is driving a surge in plastic production, including the investment of more than $200 billion to fund new and expanded operations at 343 production plants in the United States.
On the ground this means more harmful pollution along the Gulf Coast's "Cancer Alley," where petrochemicals have been manufactured for decades in low-wealth communities of color. And it means the build-out of new facilities in Rust Belt states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Fracking also causes harmful greenhouse gas emissions, like methane, to be released into the atmosphere — amplifying the climate crisis. The refining process and the incineration of plastic waste also further drives greenhouse emissions and hazardous pollution.
A petrochemical plant in Houston's ship channel. Louis Vest / CC BY-NC 2.0
5. Solutions are multifaceted.
Beach cleanups tend to make headlines, but it's a losing battle as long as petrochemical companies keep producing so much plastic and we keep using plastic for products we're meant to toss after a single use.
The September study in Science on plastic solutions found that it's possible to cut plastic pollution — perhaps as much as 80% by 2040 — but it will take systemic change both in reducing the amount of plastic produced and in better managing the waste stream.
Regulatory efforts can help this process, including by regulating plastic as a pollution source under the Clean Water Act.
Efforts to ban single-use plastics, as the European Union aims to do by 2021, are another positive step. So too are "circular economy laws," which have been introduced, but not yet passed, in the United States.
These laws would halt the production of new petrochemical facilities and encourage businesses to take responsibility for the full lifecycle of the products they produce by requiring them to be reused, adequately recycled or composted.
Getting circular economy laws enacted, though, will mean enough public and political will to counter the petrochemical, fossil fuel and plastic industries.
At The Revelator, we'll keep covering the push for solutions to the plastic problem and new science to better understand the threats. And if you want to know more about how wildlife has already been affected, what laws could help, whether industry will be held accountable and more, check out these stories from our archives:
Laws and Regulations
Tara Lohan is deputy editor of The Revelator and has worked for more than a decade as a digital editor and environmental journalist focused on the intersections of energy, water and climate. Her work has been published by The Nation, American Prospect, High Country News, Grist, Pacific Standard and others. She is the editor of two books on the global water crisis.
Reposted with permission from The Revelator.
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By Brett Wilkins
In the nearly six months since President Donald Trump declared a public health emergency over the coronavirus pandemic, he has rolled back at least 30 public protections, while proposing changes to at least 20 others, according to a report published Thursday by Public Citizen's Coalition on Sensible Safeguards.
The report—Pandemic Rollbacks: Slashing Safeguards During the Coronavirus—tracks dozens of regulatory rollbacks enacted or proposed by the Trump administration since March.
SCOOP: Six months after his emergency declaration, Trump has repealed more than 30 public protections that have not… https://t.co/19r1AuV5Pp— Sensible Safeguards (@Sensible Safeguards) 1599742908.0
Noting that Trump "has directed agencies to press forward with his dangerous, unpopular, and corrupt deregulatory agenda as if it's business as usual," the report accuses the president of appearing "eager to take advantage of the crisis and ram through deregulatory policies while the rest of the country is distracted."
The rollbacks are spread widely across numerous federal agencies, with many occuring at the besieged Environmental Protection Agency. Here is a sampling of some of the administration's more egregious actions:
- Weakening EPA rules on methane emissions.
- Relaxing the Volcker Rule, which was enacted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis to prevent banks from acting like hedge funds.
- Reducing regulations on trains transporting extremely flammable materials.
- Loosening restrictions on predatory payday lending companies.
- Revoking Health and Human Services Department nondiscrimination protections for transgender people and people seeking abortions.
- Easing rules on dark money disclosure by groups including the National Rifle Association and AARP.
- Limiting states' power to reject fossil fuel projects.
- Eviscerating protections for asylum-seekers.
Among the administration's proposed rollbacks are: revoking protections for unhoused transgender people, redefining critical wildlife habitats, revising the Clean Air Act, weakening pipeline safety rules, and removing barriers on oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Sea.
"Instead of using their regulatory and enforcement powers to implement a national pandemic response, Trump officials have sabotaged or obliterated essential health, safety, environmental, anti-discrimination, and financial safeguards for the American public," said Matt Kent, a regulatory policy associate for Public Citizen, in a statement.
"Nearly 200,000 Americans are dead and more than 6 million have been infected with Covid-19 because of the administration's disastrous response, but Trump's priority is showering giant corporations with deregulatory special favors," Kent added. "It's an appalling betrayal of the American people."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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By Heather Houser
Compost. Fly less. Reduce your meat consumption. Say no to plastic. These imperatives are familiar ones in the repertoire of individual actions to reduce a person's environmental impact. Don't have kids, or maybe just one. This climate action appears less frequently in that repertoire, but it's gaining currency as climate catastrophes mount. One study has shown that the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from having one fewer child in the United States is 20 times higher—yes 2000% greater—than the impact of lifestyle changes like those listed above.
Yet opponents are quick to accuse child-free for climate advocates of racism and nativism because their aims can resemble those of forced population control. In early 2019, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez set off a news avalanche for deeming it "legitimate" to ask whether it's "OK to still have children" given the dire predictions for planetary climate change. As a lightning rod for conservatives, AOC got outsized attention for an idea that's been circulating for decades, even centuries: making an ecologically minded choice to forgo reproduction.
Choice. That word introduces two knotty issues surrounding proposals to go child-free—or child-fewer—for climate. First, choice smuggles in the keyword in anti-abortion versus abortion-rights battles over reproductive liberties in the U.S. Second, it suggests that large-scale social and environmental changes rest on individuals or families acting alone. Limiting one's sights to individual choice passes over the structures within which those choices occur and the histories of gender and racial injustice that shape them—structures and histories that effectively prevent actual choice. The solution, then, lies in viewing reproductive justice through a framework that prioritizes bodily self-determination.
The Stickiness of Population
Only five years ago, there was minimal coverage of the child-free for climate movement. AOC is just one of many reasons it's lighting up now. New scientific analyses, scholarly debates, and social media conversations have shined a light on reproduction and climate. The influential Project Drawdown framework for climate mitigation includes a list of solutions ranked by their potential impact, two of which—educating girls and providing access to family planning—they project will have a greater combined impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions than almost all other climate solutions because of their effect on fertility rates.
In January 2020, 11,000 scientists signed onto a study that warned about the unfolding climate emergency. The authors prescribe steps in six sectors that can prevent irreversible planetary collapse, including that "the world population must be stabilized—and, ideally, gradually reduced—within a framework that ensures social integrity." The framework they propose includes universal access to family planning as well as education and equity for young women. (Other scientific takes on population-based climate actions are more skeptical about their immediate impact given the scale of fertility reductions needed to balance out longer lifespans.)
Even before 2020, a new movement was afoot to address climate by forgoing reproduction. Blythe Pepino, a British musician in her 30s, formed BirthStrike in 2018 to build a community of people—typically women-identified—who have opted not to reproduce in response to the ecological and social crises that climate change is creating. In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests this summer, the group recognized the need to acknowledge the oppression that colors conversations about reproduction as it relates to climate and so reformed itself into a support group for those grieving parenthood. Their new stated goal is to channel that loss into action on climate justice.
Organizations such as Conceivable Future, however, continue to keep reproduction at the fore. Led by climate activists Meghan Kallman and Josephine Ferorelli, Conceivable Future is raising awareness about how the climate crisis affects "intimate choices" like reproduction. The Conceivable Future and now-defunct BirthStrike campaigns share ideological terrain with "population engineers," a group of bioethicists who forward policies for limiting the size of the global population through positive incentives like family planning classes and negative ones such as taxes on wealthy procreators.
In proposing specific policies rather than individual action, population engineers acknowledge the structures within which reproductive choices occur, everything from media influence to the tax code. Even with this shift to the structural, however, the racist, sexist, colonialist, and nativist legacies of the population question within environmentalism still plague child-free for climate. As do the historical and social injustices that constrain so-called choices.
Racism and Xenophobia in Environmentalism
This summer and fall, the climate crisis and its correlated catastrophes—extreme heat, flooding, wildfires—are intensifying alongside Black Lives Matter uprisings and the coronavirus health disparities among Black, Indigenous, and Latinx populations. This confluence has brought overdue attention to racism in environmentalism, as evidenced by the Audubon Society's recent reckoning with racial injustices in its past and present, including publicizing that its famed founder was a White supremacist and a slaveholder. The intersections of climate justice and racial justice have also come to the fore through studies of how Black communities are greatly harmed by hotter temperatures and through the popular intersectional environmentalist platform created by Leah Thomas, a young Black activist and "eco-communicator." To these reckonings we need to add the racism and xenophobia that have long characterized environmentally motivated population controls.
The New York Times recently exposed these sins in a profile of Cordelia Scaife May, showing how this heir to the Mellon fortune converted a love of birding into a network of anti-immigration, pro-population-control organizations that still influence politics today. In the 1960s May linked threatened birdlife to the rapidly expanding human population. May wasn't wrong to see and worry over this link: A host of human activities—from toxic agriculture and industry to sprawling settlements and light and noise pollution—decimate avian habitats and habits. May's anti-immigration approach, however, indicates how readily environmentalism can mutate into racist and xenophobic actions.
The Times investigators show that "protecting natural habitats and helping women prevent unplanned pregnancies merged over time into a single goal of preserving the environment by discouraging offspring altogether." Taken on its own, this goal resonates with Conceivable Future's and population engineers' aims. To be clear, this does not mean that today's child-free climate advocates are racist nativists. However, it does indicate how readily the affiliation arises because of the ugly history of forced population control.
And this history is hardly past. For example, race and class conflicts erupted around a population platform within the Sierra Club only 15 years ago. In 2004, a faction of club members took a page from May and argued that more people living in the U.S. meant more encroachment on less developed land and water. As with May's effort, this anti-immigration push amounted to "the greening of hate," according to the Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League, who entered the dispute when they found White supremacists lobbying for anti-immigration Sierra Club board candidates. A 2010 SPLC report firms up the connection between environmentalist intentions and racist agendas by explaining why White nationalist John Tanton infiltrated the club: "Using an organization perceived by the public as part of the liberal left would insulate nativists from charges of racism—charges that … would likely otherwise stick."
Charges of racism ultimately did stick to Tanton and his anti-immigration, pro-population-control allies. And they continue to stick in analyses of the child-free for climate movement today. Earlier this year, climate journalist Meehan Crist took up AOC's question of whether it's OK to have a child. In arriving at an answer (for her, yes), she affiliates child-free positions with "anti-feminist, racist and anti-human" values and with bad science. "Darker visions" proceed from this analysis, she writes, visions of those who believe "racial purity will save the planet. Closed borders. . . . Ecofascist death squads." The dark visions Crist spins from the child-free for climate question underscore how readily calls for reproductive limits touch the third rails of modern environmentalism: racism, eugenics, xenophobia, even death-dealing.
We get even closer to these third rails when we consider that the question of whether to reproduce is, for some people, no choice at all. Modern efforts to limit fertility, which ramped up after World War II, have targeted poor women in the Global South, and Black, Indigenous, and people of color in the U.S. using coercion and force. BIPOC reproductive justice advocates such as Loretta Ross have condemned dichotomous pro-abortion-rights versus anti-abortion politics for producing "anemic political analyses" that ignore the reality of forced sterilizations in prisons and the appallingly high maternal mortality rate for Black women in the U.S. These are all forms of what medical historian and ethicist Harriet Washington calls "medical apartheid."
This oppression has been used "as a means of controlling 'undesirable' populations—immigrants, people of color, poor people, unmarried mothers, the disabled, the mentally ill." Recent events confirm this isn't a historical anomaly. In September, accusations of nonconsensual hysterectomies and other procedures in an ICE detention center reestablished that, when it comes to women's health, "choice" comes with the privileges of race, class, and citizenship status.
Reproductive justice advocates offer a way through the rocky shoals of weighing whether to have children amid a climate crisis. The reproductive justice framework prioritizes bodily self-determination for people of all races, genders, classes, and sexualities, and it recognizes that, just as poverty and racism can impinge on that self-determination, so too can environmental degradation. As SisterSong, a "women of color reproductive justice collective" based in Atlanta, puts it, reproductive justice is "the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities." Because the climate crisis threatens the safety and sustainability of communities, it also threatens the right to bodily autonomy. Within this framework, reproduction is not about choice but about the systems that can make reproductive outcomes no choice at all.
When we debate climate actions, we often focus on feasibility, economics, and political and popular support. But grim histories also travel with climate proposals: histories of environmentalist racism and of reproductive violence against poor, BIPOC, and other marginalized people in the U.S. and abroad. This shouldn't squelch conversations about child-free for climate. We should take it seriously, but if it is to go from being an expression of individualist privilege to part of a wider debate, we must wrestle with the observation by science studies scholar Michelle Murphy that "race is the grammar and ghost of population." Only through nuanced attention to the histories, values, and associations attaching to climate actions can we hope to sustain dialogue about which ones—whether they be child-free or the Green New Deal—are just and efficacious in these critical times, while keeping reproduction and family part of the climate conversation.
Heather Houser writes on the environment, contemporary culture, and science and technology. She's an associate professor of English at The University of Texas at Austin, and her most recent book is Infowhelm: Environmental Art and Literature in an Age of Data (Columbia University Press, 2020).
Reposted with permission from Yes! Magazine.
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By Sharon Guynup
At this time of year, in Russia's far north Laptev Sea, the sun hovers near the horizon during the day, generating little warmth, as the region heads towards months of polar night. By late September or early October, the sea's shallow waters should be a vast, frozen expanse.
But not this year. For the first time since records have been kept, open water still laps this coastline in late October though snow is already falling there.
"In one sense, it's shocking, but on the other hand, it's not surprising," said Walt Meier, a research scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder's National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). Over the past 40 years, unprecedented climate change-driven events such as this have become the new normal in the Arctic — which is heating up far faster than the rest of the planet.
While weather patterns at the top of the world vary, the overall changes are dramatic and occurring so rapidly that the region may be entering a "new Arctic" climate regime, says Laura Landrum, an oceanographer with Colorado's National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The Arctic is transitioning from a mostly frozen state into an entirely new climate — and impacting the entire planet, she said.
Meier calls the Arctic the "bellweather of climate change" because it's a place where a small bump in temperature has real impact: a change from -.5°C to .5°C (31°F to 33°F) is the difference between ice skating and swimming, he said, while a couple of degrees warmer in Florida may not even be noticed.
Comparison of autumn sea ice formation for the first half of October 2012 (the record year for Arctic sea ice extent loss) and in 2020 (second place for sea ice extent loss). The satellite record goes back to 1979. @Icy_Samuel, data provided by NSIDC
An Extreme Year in a Region Known for Extremes
It's been quite a year in Siberia — on land, and off the Arctic coast. The first six months were extraordinarily warm and the sea ice began melting early. By May, fires burned in permafrost zones that are usually frozen year-round. In June, temperatures hit a record-breaking 38°C (100°F), and by September, blazes incinerated about 14 million hectares (54,000 square miles) of tundra — an area the size of Greece.
A combination of changing climate and quirky weather are now preventing this fall's freeze-up. Siberian sea temperatures are higher than usual because of this year's extreme climate events. The heat wave warmed the many rivers that feed into the Arctic Ocean and also triggered an early melt-out. Without ice and snow that acts like a mirror — reflecting the sun's heat back into the atmosphere — the dark ocean absorbed extra warmth over the summer. Much of the remaining ice disintegrated. Then in September, unusually strong, warm winds blew in from the south, pushing any newly formed ice out to sea.
In the past, a shift in the winds wouldn't have mattered much. Back in the 1980s, Igor Polyakov, a climate scientist at the University of Alaska, remembers being part of expeditions that landed small seaplanes on sea ice to study the Siberian Arctic. He described the Laptev Sea as a solid, glaring white landscape punctuated by pastel-tinged ice: rose-colored, light blue and green. Since the regions' deeply cut gulfs and bays are located in shallow continental shelf waters, they mostly stayed frozen.
But by summer 2002, sea ice was less stable, and today, ice breakers can travel the region through open water. "The changes are dramatic," he said. "It happened in front of our eyes. Now, in the summer, there's no ice at all for thousands of kilometers, sometimes as far north as the 85th parallel." That's five degrees from the North Pole.
In the 1980s, about 80% of the Arctic Ocean and its surrounding seas were frozen in thick, "old ice" that mostly survived the summer melt, said James Overland, an oceanographer with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) who has studied the Arctic for decades. "Now much of that has to refreeze each winter. We did not expect to see this so soon."
Arctic sea ice extent on Oct. 25, 2020 was at a record low 5.613 million square kilometers for this date, surpassing the record set in 2019 of 6.174 million square kilometers. ChArctic NSIDC
A Dangerous Cycle
Across the Arctic, ice is now thawing earlier, freezing later, thinning and — in many places — disappearing altogether.
Thinner ice is less resilient. Picture ice cubes in a glass. Thick chunks last longer and melt slower than ice chips and slivers. All disintegrate faster in warmer liquid. This is a huge problem in the Arctic, where vast stretches of open blue water absorb the sun's heat during summer, when the sun never really sets. Those warm waters flow beneath the ice to melt it from below.
This year, the overall health of the sea ice was bleak: the end-of-summer minimum was tracking at the second-lowest amount of sea ice in 42 years, Landrum said. Measurements by NASA and the NSIDC found it was about 2.6 million square kilometers (1 million square miles) lower than the average from 1981 to 2000. NASA satellite data shows an overall downward trend in Arctic ice is averaging 12.9% a year.
This year's average global temperature will be among the warmest on record, researchers say. Current models predict the Arctic will be ice-free in summertime by 2040 – 2050. Overland thinks this so-called Blue Ocean Event (BOE) might come even sooner.
Many factors are colliding that could speed massive melt. New feedback loops continue to emerge, compounding and accelerating changes. For example, early climate models didn't factor in methane — a potent greenhouse gas — that's pouring into the atmosphere from melting permafrost. The tundra is now thought to be emitting 300-600 million tons of carbon yearly, the equivalent of driving between 65 and 129 million cars for a year.
The Arctic appears to be changing into an entirely new climate state due to rapid warming. The extent of sea ice in the late summer, when it reaches its minimum each year, has already entered a statistically different climate, with surface air temperatures and the number of days with rain instead of snow also beginning to transition. Simmi Sinha, ©UCAR
Likewise, thick ice that withstood high winds and storms decades ago, now is thin and can be severely damaged by such storms — amplifying one-off extreme weather events. Then there's "Atlantification," the increasing intrusion of salty, temperate Atlantic Ocean waters into chillier Arctic seas.
The changes in the Laptev Sea, long known as an Arctic "ice factory," add another concerning factor. In the past, sea ice created there typically moved with wind and ocean currents, traveling over the North Pole towards Greenland. Depending on changing conditions, that ice then spent years trapped in a slowly spinning gyre in the Beaufort Sea; ended up off the Greenland coast; or piled up on the north shore of the Canadian Archipelago, building ice ridges that towered 3 to 9 meters (12 to 30 feet) high — multi-year ice that resisted melting.
That system no longer works as before, with the Laptev Sea now turning to blue water every summer, the "ice factory" largely shut down, and multi-year Arctic sea ice at a record low — and still dropping.
A polar bear prowls the Arctic shoreline. VisualHunt.com
An Interconnected Planet
The polar bear has become the poster child for climate change impacts on wildlife. But Ursus maritimus isn't the only victim; cascading affects throughout the Arctic food chain are impacting everything from plankton to seals, globally important fisheries species like pollock, on up to whales, musk ox and other cold climate mammals.
In Siberia, reindeer are starving in wintertime. "Weather whiplash" is bringing rain, in what should be the frigid dead of polar night. The falling rain freezes atop the snowpack, forming a layer of thick ice that makes it impossible for reindeer to dig down to grass and plants below; many now die of hunger. These once-rare Arctic warm spells are now commonplace.
Indigenous people are also suffering. Without proper ice platforms, it's growing harder for them to hunt for the walrus and whales that sustain them. Coastlines are eroding as sediments held together by permafrost become unglued. And rising seas are inundating coastal villages.
Worse, rapidly escalating climate change in the Far North is being exported to the rest of the world: The Earth's biomes are interconnected. "You can't alter one system without affecting others," explained Mark Serreze, a research scientist for the NSIDC. "What happens in the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arctic, and the changes are unfolding faster than our ability to keep up with them." Serreze, in his 2018 book framing the problem, dubbed the north polar region as, "The Brave New Arctic."
Serreze notes that the Arctic covers a massive area; it's the size of the lower 48 U.S. states combined. Amplified Arctic warming alters global weather, and impacts the rest of the planet, changing weather, ocean patterns and the jet stream.
Intense storms, droughts and heat waves — once every 100- or 500-year extreme weather events — are now occurring regularly around the globe, with devastating impacts on people, economies, and ecosystems. This year alone, for example, saw massive record wildfires in California, Colorado, Siberia, and Brazil, and no one yet knows how this autumn's delayed Arctic re-freeze might impact the planet's upcoming weather.
A fire burning through northern forest in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, in July 2020. Greenpeace International
Julienne Stroeve, who specializes in sea ice research at NSIDC, adds another potential serious impact to the list: threats to our food supply. "What's predicted to happen in agricultural sectors is not good news ... We're going to be living on a very different planet if we keep adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere," she said. "We're conducting this blind experiment, and we don't yet know the real implications.
Stroeve is desperate to inform people of the urgency: "How do you sell climate change to be as much of an emergency as COVID-19? Except that it will kill a lot more people."
She believes we can rally. If we can produce a COVID-19 vaccine in record time, and heal the ozone layer through the Montreal Protocol, Stroeve thinks "we have the ability to change the course of this train."
Reposted with permission from Mongabay.
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New satellite images have revealed 11 new throngs of emperor penguin colonies, lifting the number of known emperor penguin colonies by 20 percent and their total population by 5 to 10 percent, according to The Guardian.
"The [new colonies] are an exciting discovery," said Peter Fretwell, at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), who led the research, according to The Guardian. "Whilst this is good news, the colonies are small and so only take the overall population count up to just over half a million penguins."
While that may sound like great news for penguins, the truth is these penguins are just as threatened as the rest of their flightless feathered friends, according to Gizmodo.
The 11 new colonies bring the total number up to 61 colonies spread across the continent. Now, the newly discovered birds will act as "canaries in the coalmine" when it comes to studying the impact of global warming, experts have said, as CNN reported.
The study, which used satellite mapping technology, will "provide an important benchmark for monitoring the impact of environmental change on the population of this iconic bird," researchers said, according to CNN.
The study was published in Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation on Wednesday. The findings help shed light on just how threatened the emperor penguins really are. While the climate crisis is rapidly altering the surface of Earth, Antarctica is running ahead of most of the world. It is warming three times faster than the most of the planet. With all that warmth comes the loss of sea ice, which is devastating to emperor penguins since they breed on the ice and need it to be stable, as Gizmodo reported.
"Emperor penguins are vulnerable to climate change, particularly the breakup of the sea ice on which they breed," said study author Peter Fretwell, a researcher with the British Antarctic Survey, in an email to Gizmodo. "Finding more penguins and studying their movements and distribution will be important if we are to understand their struggle to survive in the warming Antarctic environment."
As the BBC noted, the emperors' whole life cycle is centered on the availability of sea ice, and if this is diminished in the decades ahead, as climate models project, then the animals' numbers will suffer. Some models predict that penguin colonies will drop by 90 percent, according to The Guardian.
The discoveries were made by spotting the distinctive red-brown guano patches the birds leave on the ice, according to The Guardian. The findings were made possible by higher-resolution images from a new satellite, as previous scans were unable to pick up smaller colonies.
The European Space Agency's Sentinel-2 satellite was launched in June 2015 and has a resolution of 10 meters. This enabled a search for the smaller penguin colonies. Emperor penguins were expected to be present at fairly regular intervals around the coast of Antarctica, so the search was targeted in areas where none were known. "In every gap where we thought there might be a colony, we found one," said Fretwell, as The Guardian reported.
The European Space Agency makes these images available online, so the team was able to analyze images from 2016, 2018 and 2019. By searching the images for "small areas of brown pixels," or clumps of penguin guano, and targeting their searches by looking at areas near known colonies and breeding habitat, the researchers were able to find these new communities, according to Gizmodo.
The next step is to direct satellites with very high, 30cm-resolution cameras over the colonies to enable the penguins to be counted. "It is dark at the moment in Antarctica, so we can't count them yet," said Fretwell, as The Guardian reported. "The sun will come up either later this month or next month in most of these locations, and then we will start."
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By Elizabeth M. De Santo, Elizabeth Mendenhall and Elizabeth Nyman
Mining the ocean floor for submerged minerals is a little-known, experimental industry. But soon it will take place on the deep seabed, which belongs to everyone, according to international law.
Seabed mining for valuable materials like copper, zinc and lithium already takes place within countries' marine territories. As soon as 2025, larger projects could start in international waters – areas more than 200 nautical miles from shore, beyond national jurisdictions.
We study ocean policy, marine resource management, international ocean governance and environmental regimes, and are researching political processes that govern deep seabed mining. Our main interests are the environmental impacts of seabed mining, ways of sharing marine resources equitably and the use of tools like marine protected areas to protect rare, vulnerable and fragile species and ecosystems.
Today countries are working together on rules for seabed mining. In our opinion, there is still time to develop a framework that will enable nations to share resources and prevent permanent damage to the deep sea. But that will happen only if countries are willing to cooperate and make sacrifices for the greater good.
An Old Treaty With a New Purpose
Countries regulate seabed mining within their marine territories. Farther out, in areas beyond national jurisdiction, they cooperate through the Law of the Sea Convention, which has been ratified by 167 countries and the European Union, but not the U.S.
The treaty created the International Seabed Authority, headquartered in Jamaica, to manage seabed mining in international waters. This organization's workload is about to balloon.
Under the treaty, activities conducted in areas beyond national jurisdiction must be for "the benefit of mankind as a whole." These benefits could include economic profit, scientific research findings, specialized technology and recovery of historical objects. The convention calls on governments to share them fairly, with special attention to developing countries' interests and needs.
The United States was involved in negotiating the convention and signed it but has not ratified it, due to concerns that it puts too many limits on exploitation of deep sea resources. As a result, the U.S. is not bound by the treaty, although it follows most of its rules independently. Recent administrations, including those of Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, sought to ratify the treaty, but failed to muster a two-thirds majority in the Senate to support it.
Locations of three main types of marine mineral deposits: polymetallic nodules (blue); polymetallic or seafloor massive sulfides (orange); and cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts (yellow). Miller et al., 2018, https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2017.00418, CC BY 4.0
Powering Digital Devices
Scientists and industry leaders have known that there are valuable minerals on the seafloor for over a century, but it hasn't been technologically or economically feasible to go after them until the past decade. Widespread growth of battery-driven technologies such as smartphones, computers, wind turbines and solar panels is changing this calculation as the world runs low on land-based deposits of copper, nickel, aluminum, manganese, zinc, lithium and cobalt.
These minerals are found in potato-shaped "nodules" on the seafloor, as well as in and around hydrothermal vents, seamounts and midocean ridges. Energy companies and their governments are also interested in extracting methane hydrates – frozen deposits of natural gas on the seafloor.
Scientists still have a lot to learn about these habitats and the species that live there. Research expeditions are continually discovering new species in deep-sea habitats.
Korea and China Seek the Most Contracts
Mining the deep ocean requires permission from the International Seabed Authority. Exploration contracts provide the right to explore a specific part of the seabed for 15 years. As of mid-2020, 30 mining groups have signed exploration contracts, including governments, public-private partnerships, international consortiums and private multinational companies.
Two entities hold the most exploration contracts (three each): the government of Korea and the China Ocean Mineral Resources R&D Association, a state-owned company. Since the U.S. is not a member of the Law of the Sea treaty, it cannot apply for contracts. But U.S. companies are investing in others' projects. For example, the American defense company Lockheed Martin owns UK Seabed Resources, which holds two exploration contracts.
Once an exploration contract expires, as several have since 2015, mining companies must broker an exploitation contract with the International Seabed Authority to allow for commercial-scale extraction. The agency is working on rules for mining, which will shape individual contracts.
It was meant to be a pivotal year for deep-seabed mining. But the coronavirus pandemic is threatening the drafting… https://t.co/sI7NZ6VGhW— China Dialogue (@China Dialogue) 1589216642.0
Unknown Ecological Impacts
Deep-sea mining technology is still in development but will probably include vacuuming nodules from the seafloor. Scraping and vacuuming the seafloor can destroy habitats and release plumes of sediment that blanket or choke filter-feeding species on the seafloor and fish swimming in the water column.
Mining also introduces noise, vibration and light pollution in a zone that normally is silent, still and dark. And depending on the type of mining taking place, it could lead to chemical leaks and spills.
Many deep-sea species are unique and found nowhere else. We agree with the scientific community and environmental advocates that it is critically important to analyze the potential effects of seabed mining thoroughly. Studies also should inform decision-makers about how to manage the process.
This is a key moment for the International Seabed Authority. It is currently writing the rules for environmental protection but doesn't have enough information about the deep ocean and the impacts of mining. Today the agency relies on seabed mining companies to report on and monitor themselves, and on academic researchers to provide baseline ecosystem data.
We believe that national governments acting through the International Seabed Authority should require more scientific research and monitoring, and better support the agency's efforts to analyze and act on that information. Such action would make it possible to slow the process down and make better decisions about when, where and how to mine the deep seabed.
Balancing Risks and Benefits
The race for deep-sea minerals is imminent. There are compelling arguments for mining the seabed, such as supporting the transition to renewable energy, which some companies assert will be a net gain for the environment. But balancing benefits and impacts will require proactive and thorough study before the industry takes off.
We also believe that the U.S. should ratify the Law of the Sea treaty so that it can help to lead on this issue. The oceans provide humans with food and oxygen and regulate Earth's climate. Choices being made now could affect them far into the future in ways that aren't yet understood.
Dr. Rachel Tiller, Senior Research Scientist with SINTEF Ocean, Norway, contributed to this article.
Elizabeth M. De Santo is an Associate Professor of Environmental Studies, Franklin & Marshall College.
Elizabeth Mendenhall is an Assistant Professor of Marine Affairs and Political Science, University of Rhode Island.
Elizabeth Nyman is an Assistant Professor of Maritime Policy, Texas A&M University.
Disclosure statement: The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Reposted with permission from The Conversation.
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By Jazmin Murphy
Whenever you talk about race relations here in so-called "America," Indigenous communities [are] always the last ones on the rung," says Wanbli Wiyan Ka'win (Eagle Feather Woman), also known as Joye Braun, a front-line community organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network who fought against the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. In defending the land so deeply beloved and cherished by her people, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Braun recounts how actively her community is excluded from environmental work and how she and her colleagues are blatantly silenced, even when working alongside allies. "We've had to really fight … to even have a seat at the table," she says.
The exclusion of Indigenous people and other non-White communities in environmental and conservation work is, unfortunately, nothing new. For centuries, conservation has been driven by Eurocentric, Judeo-Christian belief structures that emphasize a distinct separation of "Man" and "Nature" — an ideology that does not mesh well with many belief structures, including those belonging to Indigenous communities.
"Christianity has been largely built up around the idea of colonization," Braun says. Not only do these belief structures hold disproportionate power in environmental legislation, but they hold historical pains for those outside of Western religions. "Christianity was forced down our throats," Braun says. "Our reservations were divided up: 'OK this community … you can be Catholic. This community … you're Lutheran. This community … you're whatever.'"
Before the onset of such religion through colonialist conquests, the overwhelming consensus throughout the world was that human beings were just a small part of this natural world. Neither detached, nor superior. Of course, this "consensus" was not necessarily expressed in such a way that all groups adhered to the same belief structures. Yet, the underlying environmental ideology remains: Human beings are, to some extent, connected to all other living things on Earth, even the Earth itself. As European imperialism — and along with it, cultural genocide — began to take hold worldwide, so began the spread of the "Man versus Nature" dogma.
Today Braun's life is just one example of the ideological exclusion of non-European thought as it relates to wildlife and the natural world. Nonsubscribers are barred from participation in the protection of the world and nonhuman lives they hold so dear, which inhibits their environmental stewardship. But around the world, and especially in the United States, we are witnessing a historical push toward the dismantling of imperialism, the decentralization of power, and the welcoming of non-White, non-European values into conservation.
How Modern Conservation Upholds the Superiority of Humans
Christianity has deep, painful historical associations with the obsession of dominance. The same Bible that was used to enforce humans' domination over nature was also used to force Indigenous peoples to abandon their cultural truths for those more palatable to Europeans. This laid the foundation that continues to separate human life from nature to this day.
As the Bible states in Genesis, "Let [Man] have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over all the wild animals of the earth." We see echoes of this passage in the frameworks of many conservation objectives today, with concepts such as "creating" sustainable forests, "managing" wildlife populations, and "preserving" wilderness as a realm separate from that of humans. This reduces our perception of human connectivity to nonhuman life and to distance constituents from the objective recognition of Earth's intrinsic value.
Take one of the U.S.'s leading environmental organizations, for example. The National Park Service—a federal organization with well-known racist origins—has a mission statement that almost exclusively highlights the instrumental value of North America's natural lands: "The National Park Services preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations … to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resources conservation … throughout this country and the world."
Their mission is painfully anthropocentric, never mind that the very lands it aims to extend were stolen from Indigenous tribes who are now denied access. Missions such as these create a nigh impenetrable ideological barrier through which environmentalists of non-Christian cultures cannot pass.
Keeping POC Out of Conservation
These organizational goals exclude other faith (or non-faith) groups and have nurtured a hostile environment that disproportionately affects people of color. Historical experiences function to reinforce these impacts, further preventing people of color from exercising agency in conservation initiatives. For one, White constituents do not live with the same generational trauma that people of color do.
Experiences rooted in genocide and slavery, for example, still inform people's experience of the outdoors. Black people were forbidden to enter certain spaces owned by the National Park Service and other natural lands because of Jim Crow laws and deeply rooted racism, as pointed out by researchers Rachelle K. Gould and others. Many were lynched in these landscapes as well. Thus, for Black people, experiencing the outdoors was to put one's life on the line.
Simultaneously, "those in power [imposed] a particular concept of environment," Gould says, which denied Black people's experiences in natural habitats. Ideological disparities have likewise discouraged Indigenous agency in land management despite how profoundly they value land and wildlife. In the words of Paula Gunn Allen of the Laguna Pueblo, "The land is not really the place (separate from ourselves) where we act out the drama of our isolate destinies … It is not a matter of being 'close to nature'… The Earth is, in a very real sense, the same as our self (or selves)."
Inequality lies even in the evasiveness of definitions. "Google the word, 'environment' and see how far you need to scroll to see pictures of people in urban areas," Pomona College psychologist Adam Pearson says. "What counts as being an 'environmentalist?' And what counts as 'environmentalism?'" The vast majority of Americans believe that people of color do not feel strongly about environmental causes. Black, Latino, Asian, and White respondents in a 2018 survey overwhelmingly associated environmentalism with whiteness and underestimated environmental valuation in their own communities. Some 65% of Latin and 68% of Asian respondents self-identified as "environmentalists," compared to 50% of White respondents.
What Equal Opportunity Actually Looks Like
The public has long held onto the idea that the socioeconomic inequalities play a large role in a person of color's individual capacity to care for the environment when in fact, conservation organizations often create unequal socioeconomic barriers. People of color who try to enter professional roles in American conservation often encounter pay rates below the poverty line (and have done so for decades). That requires applicants to have enough accumulated wealth to be able to afford forgoing reasonable pay to "gain experience" — a luxury out of reach for many non-Whites because of massive racial wealth disparities that result from long-standing discrimination. Even those who fall in line with the Christian dogma are granted unequal access and compensation. Forty-nine percent of Black Christians, compared to 28% of White Christians, earn less than $30,000 annually, according to the Pew Research Center.
Ideological disparities have also had clear effects on Indigenous agency in land management. For example, the United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services works to combat "wildlife damage," the idea that wildlife poses a threat not only to human health, safety, and property, but to natural resources as well. This concept is a stark contrast to many cultures' environmental values.
How would one expect an Indigenous person, a Buddhist, or a Muslim to feel welcome in such a space? The answer lies not only in dismantling millennia of imperialism, but also in the conscious invitation of non-White, non-European cultures into conservation.
According to Pearson, this requires combating stereotypes of environmentalists and creating enthusiasm for working in traditionally noninclusive spaces. Fulfilling these responsibilities requires taking an honest look at how ideological contrasts actively exclude people of color and perpetuate a negative feedback loop that overrepresents White people in environmental and conservation spaces.
"Inviting people to advise doesn't mean that they're gonna listen," Braun notes when discussing possible methods of increasing diversity in conservation. "I've seen that a lot. That's just them patting themselves on the back." She says real progress relies on human connection. "When you are facing one another, then you're forced to deal with things like the prejudices you carry on your back. You're forced to face the potential of racism. You're forced to face the economic divides."
Abandoning Exclusivity for Diverse Community-Based Management
As climate change becomes a mainstream concern, Indigenous knowledge can reveal truths not visible with White, Eurocentric approaches to conservation. Traditional ecological knowledge is central to monitoring and combating climatic change, according to a 2019 study in British Columbia and Alaska. "The region is a bellwether for biodiversity changes in coastal, forest, and montane environments," the authors write, and "an extremely dynamic and resilient social-ecological system where Indigenous Peoples have been adjusting to changing climate and biodiversity for millennia."
Nearly 100 Indigenous elders from communities along the Pacific Coast shared with researchers the changes they had observed in coho and sockeye salmon migration patterns and the effects of warming aquatic temperatures with great detail. They had similar observations of the Sitka black-tailed deer, highlighting that their migration patterns had been influenced by fluctuating factors such as rising temperatures and reduced snowfall. Ultimately, the researchers asserted that present environmental governance is far too rigid in its exclusivity of Indigenous knowledge and that "token community visits" must evolve to invite Native environmental observers and managers to share their knowledge to create tangible progress.
While these ideas remain nascent in much of American conservation, other countries provide examples of success. For decades, forests in Benin were exclusively owned and managed by state officials. They were supported (and thus, politically influenced) by major stakeholders including the Fondation Aide á l'Autonomie Tobé, a Swiss non-governmental organization. Though the foundation surely had the best interests of the Benin constituents in mind, their collaboration didn't represent the public's values. Those living within the Tobé-Kpobidon forest, for example, did not feel welcome in forest management, which led to unsustainable resource use and degradation of the land.
To establish newfound hope for sustainable forest management and community involvement, a team of researchers, led by Rodrigue Castro Gbedomon implemented a "community forestry approach" in 2016. This methodology aims to "alleviate poverty among forest users, empower them, and improve the condition of the forests." The idea was that the invitation for community involvement (and thus, agency in management decision-making processes) would nurture a sense of ownership in constituents, encouraging them toward more conservative use of forest resources, thereby creating a more sustainable existence for the forest.
The team consciously invited varying ideals and perspectives into management practices by interviewing elders and community leaders on their perspectives regarding the forest's health. Stakeholders included nongovernmental organization leaders, and traditional and religious authorities that led and guided the surrounding communities. Divinity priests were invited as well, representing deities revered by the locals, including Ogu (the god of iron), Tchankponon (the god of smallpox), Otchoumare (the god of the rainbow), and Nonon (the god of bees). First Settlers and local hunters were also given authority in this work, serving to extend the network of participation deeply into every facet of the residents surrounding and within the Tobé-Kpobidon forest.
This decentralization of power and integration of diverse belief structures was supported by the foundation, which provided the financial resources and the means for reinforcement of the constituents' chosen management policies. This included warning signs indicating forest boundaries and guards to manage entry into the area. The foundation also rewarded locals' involvement with a yearly stipend of 500,000 FCA ($1,000) to further encourage their continued dedication to conservation activities.
This new governance structure yielded phenomenal results. As community access to the forest expanded for medicinal gathering, hunting, beekeeping, and more, the forest's contribution to the local economy increased to make up more than 25% of the First Settlers' income. Also, the native flora experienced a "progressive evolution" alongside a healthy, low rate of human agricultural interference. (Cashew plantations, for example, expanded at only 0.4% annually). This community-focused approach continued to have positive effects on the forest in the years after the study.
The Tobé-Kpobidon Forest experimental management approach, along with the extensive foundation of evidence validating Indigenous knowledge, serve as a beacon of hope amid the darkness that looms over non-White, non-European demographics that yearn for a role in conservation initiatives. It demonstrates that the present ideological chasms that keep people of color out of conservation can be defeated and that such cultural victories powerfully serve both humans and the natural landscapes in which we reside.
Reposted with permission from YES! Magazine.
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By Jessica Corbett
"A crisis is a crisis, and in a crisis, we all have to take a few steps back and act for the greater good of each other and our society. In a crisis, you adapt and change your behavior."
That is one of the takeaway messages from a 75-minute radio program, "Humanity Has Not Yet Failed," that 17-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg released Saturday. In the program, available in Swedish and English, the two-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee discusses climate science and activism; how polluting activities of industrialized, rich nations are driving global conditions that disproportionately impact poor and historically marginalized groups; and the failures of the existing economic and political systems.
Thunberg, whose solitary protests outside the Swedish Parliament inspired the global Fridays for Future movement, also shares stories from and reflections on her recent travels as one of the world's most recognized climate leaders. In August 2019, she sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States. After speaking at a United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York City, she appeared before the U.S. Congress and joined various protests demanding climate action while exploring North America.
That it falls on young people like her to direct global attention to scientific warnings about the climate and ecological emergency, Thunberg says, should be seen as "a failure beyond all imagination." That journalists and others often ask her how the international community should solve this "existential crisis," rather than listening to the scientists, is "absurd."
"People want something simple and concrete, and they want me to be naive, angry, childish, and emotional," Thunberg says, recalling an encounter with a Swedish journalist while criticizing how the global media has covered both her activism and the climate crisis. "That is the story that sells and creates the most clicks."
“The emperors are naked. Every single one. It turns out our whole society is just one big nudist party.” I’ve spen… https://t.co/5RcLswHKMa— Greta Thunberg (@Greta Thunberg) 1592642546.0
During her tour of North America, Thunberg saw some of the impacts of the climate crisis, traveling to Paradise, California, which was devastated by the Camp Fire in 2018, and the receding Athabasca Glacier in Jasper National Park, which is located in oil-rich Canadian province Alberta—the only place Thunberg was discouraged from visiting.
"Alberta has a very powerful and highly criticized oil lobby that is well known for its harsh methods to silence anyone they consider a threat to their industry, and I'm definitely considered a threat to them," she explains. "On several occasions, I need to call for police protection when the level of threats and the sheer harassment become too serious."
After the 2019 U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP25) was moved from Santiago, Chile to Madrid, Spain, Thunberg sailed back to Europe for the event. Some of her future travels, including a potential trip to China, were canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has caused lockdowns and travel restrictions globally for the past several months.
The Covid-19 crisis—which has led the Fridays to Future movement to move to mostly digital campaigning—could serve as a wake-up call to the world about the type of action required to tackle the climate crisis, Thunberg argues while acknowledging the "catastrophic" impacts of the pandemic on people around the world and the global economy.
"The corona tragedy of course has no long-term positive effects on the climate, apart from one thing only: namely the insight into how you should perceive and treat an emergency. Because during the corona crisis we suddenly act with necessary force," she says, pointing to international meetings, massive financial bailouts, canceled events, tough restrictions, and focused media coverage.
While there are growing calls across the globe for a "green recovery" from the pandemic, Thunberg expresses concern that such plans will not go far enough in terms of transforming systems that contribute to the climate crisis; throughout the program, she repeatedly makes that case that "the climate and ecological crisis cannot be solved within today's political and economic systems."
Even if policymakers want to pursue ambitious climate action, their efforts are hampered by existing plans for polluting activities like fossil fuel production, she explains. "If we are to avoid a climate catastrophe, we have to make it possible to tear up contracts and abandon existing deals and agreements on a scale we can't even begin to imagine today—and that alone requires a whole new way of thinking, since those type of actions are not politically, economically, or legally possible today."
"A lot may have happened in the last two years, but the changes and level of awareness required are still nowhere in sight," Thunberg says near the end of the program. "Things may look dark and hopeless, but I'm telling you there is hope and that hope comes from the people, from democracy, from you—from the people who more and more themselves are starting to realize the absurdity of the situation."
"The hope does not come from politics, business, or finance—and that's not because politicians or businesspeople are evil, but because what is needed right now simply seems to be too uncomfortable, unpopular, and unprofitable," she continues. Although public awareness and demands for progress aren't yet strong enough, Thunberg adds, "there are signs of change, of awakening."
"Just take the 'Me Too' movement, Black Lives Matter, or the school strike movement, for instance. It's all interconnected. We have passed a social tipping point. We can no longer look away from what our society has been ignoring for so long, whether it is equality, justice, or sustainability," she says. "From a sustainability point of view, all political and economic systems have failed, but humanity has not yet failed."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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