By Jon Queally
Despite repeated assurances he would not do so, billionaire philanthropist and activist Tom Steyer — who has previously pledged his vast fortune to such causes as defeating the Keystone XL pipeline and mounting a national campaign demanding the impeachment of President Donald Trump — officially announced on Tuesday the launch of a 2020 campaign for the Democratic Party presidential nomination.
Confronting the climate crisis is the No. 1 issue for 96 percent of Democratic voters, but it clocked only around seven minutes of airtime at the first Democratic Presidential debate Wednesday, Vox reported.
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The American Museum of Natural History will no longer host a gala intended to honor controversial Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, whose plans to open the Amazon rainforest to industry were seen by many as incompatible with the museum's mission, Reuters reported Monday.
By John R. Platt
If you're looking for some inspiration, you're in luck. Booksellers will soon see a massive influx of powerful and informative new environmental books. They cover everything from pollinators to animal cognition and predator coexistence to the morality of environmental protection.
Wildlife and Endangered Species<p><u><em style=""><a href="https://islandpress.org/books/protecting-pollinators" target="_blank" style="">Protecting Pollinators: How to Save the Creatures That Feed Our World</a> </em>by Jodi Helmer — An in-depth look at the pollinator crisis (which is affecting bees, as well as bats, birds and other pollen-spreaders) and what people around the world are doing to reverse the declines. A buzz-worthy book.</u></p><p><a href="https://www.hmhco.com/shop/books/Down-from-the-Mountain/9781328972453" target="_blank"><em>Down From the Mountain: The Life and Death of a Grizzly Bear</em></a> by Bryce Andrews — A cautionary tale of human-grizzly coexistence (or lack thereof). The book helps to illustrate the broader issues affecting grizzlies as their populations grow, pushing them closer and closer to humans (and, sadly, their guns).</p><p><a href="https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250144638" target="_blank"><em>Beyond Words: What Elephants and Whales Think and Feel</em></a> by Carl Safina — A new version of Safina's bestselling book about the inner lives of animals, adapted for young-adult readers.</p><p><a href="https://islandpress.org/books/corridor-ecology-second-edition" target="_blank"><em>Corridor Ecology: Linking Landscapes for Biodiversity Conservation and Climate Adaptation</em></a> — The second edition of this important book discusses the latest science about wildlife corridors and how to restore them. (Read our interview with co-editor Jody Hilty <a href="https://therevelator.org/hilty-wildlife-corridors/" target="_blank">here</a>.)</p><p><a href="https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/567189/our-planet-by-alastair-fothergill-and-keith-scholey-with-fred-pearce-foreword-by-david-attenborough/" target="_blank"><em>Our Planet</em></a> by Alastair Fothergill, Keith Scholey and Fred Pearce — The directors of the BBC's <em>Planet Earth</em> and <em>Blue Planet</em> have brought their talents to Netflix for a new documentary series about conservation. This gorgeously photographed coffee-table book expands upon the documentary itself and gives us the chance to slow down and absorb every detail. David Attenborough, who narrates the TV series, provides the foreword.</p><p><a href="https://www.boxcarchildren.com/book/the-sea-turtle-mystery/" target="_blank"><em>The Sea Turtle Mystery</em></a> — The famous "Boxcar Children Mysteries" series tackles the thorny issue of sea turtle egg poaching, a major threat to the survival of all sea turtle species. Can the kids solve the crime and save an endangered species? Geez, I sure hope so.</p><p><a href="https://upcolorado.com/university-press-of-colorado/item/3547-yellowstone-cougars" target="_blank"><em>Yellowstone Cougars: Ecology Before and During Wolf Restoration</em></a> by Toni K. Ruth, Polly C. Buotte and Maurice G. Hornocker — This massive book (525 pages, weighing 1.7 pounds!) is the result of years of fieldwork by the authors. It reveals how wolves and cougars compete with each other and sets the stage for what may be the next era of carnivore conservation and management in the West.</p><p><a href="https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/563903/dont-let-them-disappear-by-chelsea-clinton-illustrated-by-gianna-marino/9780525514329" target="_blank"><em>Don't Let Them Disappear</em></a> by Chelsea Clinton and Gianna Marino — A delightful kids' book about why tigers, elephants, rhinos and other species are at risk and what we can do to help. Also available in Spanish.</p><p><a href="https://www.ucpress.edu/book/9780520296978/ocean-outbreak" target="_blank" style=""><em>Ocean Outbreak: Confronting the Rising Tide of Marine Disease</em></a> by Drew Harvell — If you want to know more about diseases affecting marine wildlife, there's no better person to turn to than Harvell, the scientist who led recent research into the starfish wasting epidemic affecting the west coast. Her new book examines starfish, as well as corals, abalone and salmon to define both the problem and the necessary solutions.</p>
History Lessons for the Future<p><a href="https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250159069" target="_blank" style=""><em style="">Republic of Lies: American Conspiracy Theorists and Their Surprising Rise to Power</em></a> by Anna Merlan — This isn't strictly an environmental book, but you want to better understand why some people (and certain presidents) keep insisting that climate change is a hoax, then you need this on your nightstand. Prozac not included.</p><p><a href="http://osupress.oregonstate.edu/book/same-river-twice" target="_blank"><em>Same River Twice: The Politics of Dam Removal and River Restoration</em></a> by Peter Brewitt — A profile of three dam-removal projects in the Pacific Northwest with lessons for advocates throughout the world.</p><p><a href="http://www.beacon.org/As-Long-as-Grass-Grows-P1445.aspx" target="_blank"><em>As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock</em></a> by Dina Gilio-Whitaker — The history of indigenous resistance may offer all of us the strength we need to keep fighting, from the co-author of <em>"All the Real Indians Died Off" And 20 Other Myths About Native Americans</em>.</p><p><a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/morality-and-the-environmental-crisis/CDA836B60C5844C294B5DED17415D34F" target="_blank" style=""><em>Morality and the Environmental Crisis</em></a> by Roger S. Gottlieb — How can we be good people when so many of our individual and collective actions contribute to the destruction of the planet? This major new academic book explores the philosophical, religious, political, societal and ethical challenges and opportunities of living in a time of crisis. (Or you can just watch <a href="https://www.nbc.com/the-good-place/video/dont-let-the-good-life-pass-you-by/3826680" target="_blank" style="">this episode</a> of "The Good Place.")</p>
Pollution and Climate Change<p><a href="https://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/C/bo27863392.html" target="_blank" style=""><em style="">Choked: Life and Breath in the Age of Air Pollution</em></a> by Beth Gardiner — My lungs hurt just reading the description of this book. Gardiner traveled the world to find out how pollution clogs our cities, hearts and politics. Along the way she uncovers the solutions that just may help us all breathe a little easier.</p><p><a href="https://us.macmillan.com/books/9780374721138" target="_blank"><em>Losing Earth: A Recent History</em></a> by Nathaniel Rich — A book-length expansion of Rich's widely shared <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/08/01/magazine/climate-change-losing-earth.html" target="_blank"><em>New York Times Magazine</em> article</a> about how we could have solved the climate crisis in the 1980s — and maybe how we can put those lessons to better use today.</p><p><a href="https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250257604" target="_blank"><em>Science Comics: Wild Weather</em></a> by MK Reed and Jonathan Hill — The science of storms, meteorology and climate change in a fun, easy-to-read graphic format. Like everything in the "Science Comics" series, this is sure to entertain while it educates, no matter what your age.</p><p><a href="https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250178275" target="_blank"><em>Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?</em></a> by Bill McKibben — Be strong. No, seriously, that's the ultimate message of this latest book by the acclaimed environmental activist.</p>
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Bernie Sanders has become the first contender in the crowded 2020 Democratic presidential primary field to pledge to offset all of the greenhouse gas emissions released by campaign travel, The Huffington Post reported Thursday.
Beto O'Rourke announced he would run for President in 2020 Thursday, making the Texas Democrat the latest primary contender to list combating climate change as a major priority.
U.S. opinion on climate change is still highly polarized, with 82 percent of Democrats and only around 25 percent of Republicans ranking it a "very serious" problem, according to a November poll from Monmouth University. However, that divide is weakening. The same poll found that 64 percent of Republicans now acknowledge that it is happening, compared to 49 percent three years ago.
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Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders announced Tuesday that he will run for president in 2020, becoming the latest candidate in a crowded Democratic primary field to promise a Green New Deal if elected, The Washington Post reported.
‘It’s Not Going to Get Turned Around in 10 Years’: Sen. Feinstein Criticized for Dismissive Attitude to Young Climate Activists
An encounter between 15 San Francisco middle and high school students and California Senator Dianne Feinstein on Friday revealed a generational divide within the Democratic party when it comes to acting on climate change.
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By Tiffany Higgins
It's a frigid December morning when I meet Chairman Joseph Holley at the Te-Moak tribal headquarters in Elko, Nevada, seven hours north of Las Vegas. Holley, tall and round-faced, offers me a cup of coffee. He has the burly build of a man who worked 37 years in the area's gold mines, drilling aboveground and digging below the surface.
Mining the Mountains<p>The Ruby Mountains are a prime summertime destination for anglers and hikers, but for the Te-Moak Tribe of the Western Shoshone, who have called the area home for tens of thousands of years, these are the <em>Duka-Doya </em>mountains. Here are pronghorn and bighorn sheep, mule deer and greater sage-grouse. The rivers run with mountain whitefish and native rainbow trout, while endangered Lahontan cutthroat trout swim in the lakes. Here the Te-Moak have gathered nuts and branches and tracked the pathways of wildlife, in tune with the changing seasons. Over millennia, the Te-Moak learned what plants grow where and when, and which animals come to drink in certain springs.</p><p>These are watering holes that — if oil and gas companies get their way — might dry up forever, bringing the Te-Moak cultural history to a close.</p><p>This June the Nevada Bureau of Land Management plans to auction oil and gas leasing rights on 934,244 acres of public lands in the Ruby Mountains area. Long in the works, the lease parcels were formally announced on Feb. 19. In Elko the BLM will offer 49 parcels, comprising 75,005 acres. In the nearby Battle Mountain district, it will lease 123 parcels, amounting to 264,075 acres. The Ely district will see the largest amount leased: 291 parcels totaling 604,164 acres.</p>
Thunderstorms near the Ruby Mountains near Elko, Nevada, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.
Michael Balen / U.S. Forest Service<p>When I visited Elko to talk with Chairman Holley and other residents, I found that many people were still unaware of the ongoing BLM leasing plans. Those who heard feared they would have devastating effects on the local land and peoples and expressed outrage at how little the tribe was consulted.</p>
Polluted Medicines<p>I meet Fermina Stevens in an Elko hotel/casino. Stevens served as chairperson representing the Elko Band on the Te-Moak tribal council from 2000-2003 and since 2012 has worked as a legal assistant for the Cavanaugh-Bill Law office, where she's assisted on cases of the Western Shoshone Defense Project.</p><p>As we sit at the casino bar, Stevens tells me she's concerned about public access. Specifically, tribal access.</p><p>Historically the Western Shoshone used a wide swath of land, traveling to seasonal camps and trekking to different sites to gather various foods and medicinal plants. That traditional land is now federally owned "public" land, with highly restricted access. Only 14,005 acres have been accorded to the tribal reservations.</p><p>"We have to go to public lands to gather," Stevens explains. "We gather willow across a wide area, which means we need wide access."</p><p>Red and green willow, which are used to create cradleboards and baskets, have particularly important cultural significance, she tells me.</p><p>"Our culture is our gathering, our willow, our prayer. We come from the land." Other important plants include cedar, sage, and the doza root that grows close to sagebrush. In early fall, from September to October, the Te-Moak gather pine nuts.</p><p>And the Te-Moak's limited acreage doesn't protect many sites of spiritual and cultural significance. If tribal members wish to conduct a ceremony on BLM land — for example, at the summer and fall solstices, the points of the year of highest cultural significance — they must submit a request to the agency, including a map of the area to be entered.</p><p>Holley later tells me this raises a particularly difficult dilemma: How do they protect these areas of sacred significance without announcing them to the outside world?</p><p>He asks, what will happen when those sites the Te-Moak have been utilizing for centuries end up in private hands? How will the continuity of their culture be affected?</p><p>Stevens says she also worries about how the land itself will be affected by oil and gas development, particularly fracking.</p><p>"Fracking pollutes our medicines, the water, the animals who are drinking the water," she says. Leasing the land, including fracking, "affects us spiritually. It's a big loss. We need clean water and plants to conduct our ceremony."</p>
Lost Lands<p>For the Western Shoshone, these lands have always been theirs.</p><p>The <a href="https://www.nativeweb.org/pages/legal/shoshone/ruby_valley.html" target="_blank">1863 Treaty of Peace and Friendship at Ruby Valley</a> acknowledged as Shoshone lands a wide swath from the Shoshone River Valley in the north, to the Smith Creek Mountains in the west, to the Colorado Desert in the south to the Great Salt Lake Valley in the east.</p><p>Holley asks: How will fracking affect those never-ceded lands, now held by BLM "as a trustee" of public lands?</p><p>If the piñon trees dry up because water-intensive fracking sucks springs dry, then how can the Western Shoshone teach their children about the history that happened at that spring?</p><p>"Kids will lose their culture, tradition and history."</p><p>Holley has seen the pattern before with past mining projects. For example, the Newmont Mining Company's open-pit Lone Tree gold mine notoriously <a href="https://www.denverpost.com/2005/06/07/the-high-cost-of-gold/" target="_blank">polluted the local water with arsenic, boron and other contaminants</a>. BLM promised the Te-Moak that water sources would remain unaffected. However, according to Holley, "the mine drew water down to where springs don't flow any more. It changes the whole landscape, everything that depends on the water, the grasses, the trees, the animals that drink from the springs."</p><p>More recently, Holley says, BLM permitted Newmont to dry up 63 springs near its Long Canyon Mine in Wells.</p><p>"BLM assures us that it will be fine, that the water will be healthy," Holley says. "It never is fine."</p>
Chairman Joseph Holley.
Tiffany Higgins<p>Kyle Hendrix, public affairs specialist for the Battle Mountain BLM district, later tells me that cleanup of mining waste by companies such as Newmont is "voluntary."</p><p>In Elko Holley's jaw is set, eyes registering the memory of failed promises.</p>