By Oliver Milman
The climate crisis is set to be a significant factor in a U.S. presidential election for the first time, with new polling showing a clear majority of American voters want decisive action to deal with the threats posed by global heating.
Seven in 10 voters support government action to address climate change, with three-quarters wanting the U.S. to generate all of its electricity from renewable sources such as solar and wind within 15 years.
Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they would be more likely to vote for a presidential candidate who supports the complete shift to clean energy, with a further seven in 10 voters supporting US involvement in the Paris climate agreement, which commits countries to tackling dangerous heating. Two-thirds of voters said climate should be a priority for whoever wins the election.
"There may be a divide on Capitol Hill but the large majority of us are worried about climate change and want to see leaders deal with it," said Ed Maibach, director of George Mason University's Center for Climate Change Communication. "This is the first election where climate change has featured heavily. It's unlike anything we've seen in American politics before."
Over the past decade, the crisis has become a sharply partisan political topic as Republicans embraced denial and obfuscation of the escalating crisis. Donald Trump called climate science a "hoax" and his administration set about dismantling every policy put in place by Barack Obama to reduce planet-heating emissions.
However, the new polling, on behalf of the Guardian, Vice Media Group and Covering Climate Now, by Climate Nexus, the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, shows that the political landscape among voters appears to be shifting.
Do you support or oppose each of the following policies as part of the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic?
Democrats are becoming increasingly alarmed over the climate crisis, with 90% describing it as either a "very serious" or "somewhat serious" problem and more than eight in 10 supporting a Green New Deal, a vast government-led climate program, to combat it.
This concern is filtering through, to a lesser degree, to Republican voters. More than half say climate change is a very or somewhat serious problem, with 41% backing the Green New Deal, despite it being widely vilified by Republican party leaders. A further 51% of Republican voters support U.S. involvement in the Paris climate accords.
The polling suggests Trump, who has triggered the U.S. withdrawal from the agreement and routinely disparages climate science, will be the first U.S. president to face a voter backlash over the climate crisis. His Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, meanwhile, has vowed to reduce U.S. energy emissions to net zero by 2050 and promised a $2tn investment to create millions of new jobs in clean energy industries.
"Republican officeholders really do have to worry about this," said Maibach. "Young Republicans are becoming less accepting of the party line that climate change isn't real or isn't a serious problem. They don't want climate denial any more, moderate Republicans don't want climate denial any more and women voters largely don't want to support climate denialist candidates any more either."
The surge in voter appetite for climate action follows a barrage of disasters that have hit the U.S. recently, including huge wildfires that have scorched the west coast and powerful hurricanes that have pummeled the U.S. south. Scientists say rising global temperatures, caused by humans burning fossil fuels, are aiding the spread of wildfires and making hurricanes more intense.
Trump's first term in office has also seen a growing youth-led climate protest movement, with the Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg as its figurehead. Younger U.S. voters see the climate crisis as a top-tier issue, polling has shown, while the latest opinion research shows broad support for a greater focus on the issue in the media.
More than six in 10 respondents said the media should explicitly outline the link between extreme weather events and the climate crisis, while nearly three-quarters want moderators to ask questions about the climate crisis during the three televised presidential debates, which start next week. In 2016, no questions were asked about climate during the debates between Trump and Hillary Clinton.
This story originally appeared in The Guardian and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.
By Alexander Freund
The World Health Organization, along with its global partners in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, has announced that it will provide 120 million rapid-diagnostic antigen tests to people in lower- and middle-income countries over the next six months. The tests represent a "massive increase" in testing worldwide, according to the Global Fund, a partnership that works to end epidemics.
"We have an agreement, we have seed funding and now we need the full amount of funds to buy these tests," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday, without providing further details. The program will initially require $600 million and is planned to start as early as October.
This mass testing campaign is part of a global initiative launched in April by the WHO, the European Commission, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the French government. Additional partner organizations include the Global Fund, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) and Unitaid.
The test manufacturers, South Korea's SD BioSensor and U.S.-based Abbott Laboratories, have agreed to provide 20% of their test kits to lower- and middle-income countries. The remainder will be made available to wealthier nations, some of whom are helping to finance the test drive. Germany, for example, has already ordered some 20 million test kits.
Quick Test Can Break Infection Chains
"These tests provide reliable results in approximately 15 to 30 minutes, rather than hours or days, at a lower price with less sophisticated equipment," said WHO head Tedros, adding that the tests would cost as little as $5 each, and could become cheaper still. He said the rapid tests would help expand testing to hard-to-reach areas which aren't as well-equipped, or which are lacking trained health workers.
"High-quality rapid tests show us where the virus is hiding, which is key to quickly tracing and isolating contacts and breaking the chains of transmission," said Tedros. "The tests are a critical tool for governments as they look to reopen economies and ultimately save both lives and livelihoods."
Catharina Boehme, head of FIND, also welcomed the widespread rollout of cheap test kits. "This really shows what can be achieved when the world and leading global health partners come together with a common priority," she said.
How Do COVID-19 Antigen Tests Work?
There are currently three different types of coronavirus diagnostic tests on the market: antigen tests, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and serology tests (ELISA).
Rapid antigen tests target virus proteins, and somewhat resemble pregnancy tests. They aren't yet available at pharmacies and can only be administered by trained medical personnel. With a nasal or throat swab, testers can find out within approximately 15 minutes whether a patient has contracted the SARS-CoV-2 virus and is infectious and must be quarantined.
The advantage of rapid antigen tests is that they can be conducted quickly and on the spot.
It's hoped that this will help save the lives of thousands of people and slow the spread of the pandemic in the world's poorest countries. Rapid antigen tests can be used to carry out mass screenings among health care workers in low-income countries, who are at greater risk of death from COVID-19. These tests could also be used in schools, in the workplace and in nursing and retirement homes.
The major disadvantage of rapid antigen tests is that they're less reliable than PCR tests, which are conducted in labs and designed to detect the virus' genetic material. Rapid antigen tests may also be less effective in detecting infections in the early stages.
Still, a growing number of medical experts are backing the mass rollout of antigen tests, as they allow infected people to be identified even before they show symptoms, when individuals have a high viral load and are especially infectious.
Not All Rapid Test Kits Are Reliable
Hundreds of rapid COVID-19 test kits have come on the market recently. Many of them are reliable, but not all. In March, for example, Spain sent back two batches of unlicensed Chinese test kits because they were flawed.
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control has pointed out that even though many tests have been approved for sale on the European market, very few clinical studies show whether they are actually effective.
The 120 million test kits set to be rolled out by the WHO are the first to meet all of the organization's standards; test makers SD BioSensor and Abbott were granted emergency approval by the WHO last week.
The manufacturers claim their tests are up to 97% reliable in lab conditions; in the real world, the tests are said to be between 80% and 90% reliable. While this is good, it also means some 20% of patients will receive negative results despite being infected, which could lead to further spread of the virus.
What Are the Alternatives to Antigen Tests?
Rapid antigen tests are ideal to test scores of patients quickly, simply and cheaply. Lab-based PCR tests, however, are superior in terms of reliability.
The PCR test detects genetic material, or RNA, from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Patients are asked to provide a throat swab. One part of the person's genetic material is then synthesized, after which a biochemical process known as agarose gel electrophoresis is used to detect if the sample contains virus RNA. These tests are highly reliable but can only be conducted in specialized labs.
Serologic testing, on the other hand, detects antibodies in a person's blood that form when the immune system responds to a certain pathogen. This indicates that a person has already been exposed to the virus. While quick test kits are available for this method, these are mainly used for scientific studies.
Reposted with permission from Deutsche Welle.
For anyone seeking a natural way to manage stress and anxiety, chronic pain, or inflammation, cannabidiol (CBD) presents an appealing natural alternative to find potential relief. Many in the CBD community claim that full spectrum CBD oils and products offer the most benefits. We'll explain the different types of CBD and offer our picks for the best full spectrum CBD oils.
If you're a newcomer to CBD oil, it is easy to get confused about the different types of CBD available and how they differ. First, you should know that CBD is one of more than 100+ cannabinoids (naturally occurring chemical compounds) found in the cannabis plant. If the word cannabis sets off alarms in your head, it's probably because you're equating it to marijuana. The difference is that marijuana gets you "high" because of the presence of another cannabinoid called tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC, which possesses psychoactive properties. This is not CBD.
We'll get into the details later about how (and why) these different cannabinoids affect your body in the ways that they do, but the important thing to remember is that experiences can vary greatly based on the chemical composition of the product you're using.
What is Full Spectrum CBD?
Some of the most popular products on the market today are those that contain full spectrum CBD oil. While the delivery mechanism can be anything from a tincture you take under your tongue with a dropper to gummies you swallow, these are great products that contain more than just CBD.
Full spectrum CBD products incorporate additional parts of the cannabis plant, including other cannabinoids and terpenes, aromatics found in the plant's essential oils that supply the strain with its unique scent. Beyond just CBD, some of the other beneficial cannabinoids that you'll find in full spectrum CBD oil are trace amounts of THC, cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN) and cannabichromene (CBC).
Our Top Full Spectrum CBD Products
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Best Overall CBD Oil - Spruce CBD Oil
- Strongest CBD Oil - CBDistillery
- Best CBD Oil for Recovery - Charlotte's Web
- Best CBD Oil for Daytime - Cornbread Hemp
- Best CBD Oil for Sleep - NuLeaf Naturals
- Best Organic CBD Oil - R+R Medicinals
- Best CBD Oil Flavors - FAB CBD
How We Chose These Full Spectrum CBD Oils
In choosing the best full spectrum CBD products, we evaluated each one on six key categories:
- Strength — How much CBD does the oil contain?
- Source — Does the company source their hemp in the USA?
- Flavor — Are the oils flavored, and do they use natural flavoring ingredients?
- Transparency — Can you easily access independent third-party lab results for the oil?
- Value — How much does the full spectrum oil cost?
- Customer Experience — What do customers say about the product?
The 8 Best Full Spectrum CBD Oils
Best Overall: Spruce Full Spectrum CBD Oil
Spruce is a family business that produces American-made, lab-grade CBD products of the highest quality. It offers its full-spectrum CBD oil in multiple strengths. The 750 mg strength provides 25 mg of CBD per serving, and comes in a natural peppermint flavor.
Why buy: We love Spruce CBD because they use organic hemp from North Carolina and Kentucky grown without pesticides. This full spectrum oil is made with organic hemp seed oil and natural flavors, and offers a potent dose of cannabinoids and beneficial plant compounds for a stronger entourage effect.
Strongest CBD Oil: CBDistillery Full Spectrum CBD Oil
CBDistillery is one of the CBD industry's most well-known and reputable brands. And when it comes to full-spectrum CBD oil, this brand delivers on its promise to create high-quality products made from non-GMO industrial hemp. At 83 mg of CBD per serving, their Maximum Strength Relief + Relax formula is the strongest full spectrum CBD oil on our list.
Why buy: We like that CBDistillery full spectrum CBD oils are all third-party lab tested and are created from U.S. Hemp Authority certified hemp grown using natural farming practices. This maximum strength oil is a great option for those who aren't getting the relief they need from lower strength oils.
Best CBD Oil for Recovery: Charlotte's Web Original Formula Full Spectrum CBD Oilcharlottesweb.comOriginal Formula CBD Oil
Made using a small-batch alcohol extraction method, Charlotte's Web Original Formula Full Spectrum CBD oil boasts a complete profile of phytocannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and fatty acids. Their 50 mg per serving formula gives you all of the beneficial plant compounds from their Colorado-grown hemp with no artificial ingredients or flavorings.
Why buy: We love Charlotte's Web full spectrum CBD oil because it can provide a high-quality dose of plant compounds and extracts without any additives or dyes. Use this U.S. Hemp Authority certified product to help support your recovery from the gym or exercise.
Best CBD Oil for Daytime: Cornbread Hemp Distilled Full Spectrum CBD Oilcornbreadhemp.com
Cornbread Hemp Distilled Full Spectrum CBD oil is crafted from Kentucky-grown USDA organic hemp and USDA organic MCT oil for a product you can trust. It offers 25 mg or 50 mg of CBD plus naturally-occurring cannabinoids and terpenes without any preservatives or flavorings.
Why buy: We love this full spectrum CBD oil from Cornbread Hemp because it is made from a unique flower-only hemp extract for a cleaner CBD oil with a lighter taste. This product is great for promoting a sense of calm throughout the day.
Best CBD Oil for Sleep: NuLeaf Naturals Full Spectrum CBD Oil
NuLeaf Naturals offers a simple yet powerful full spectrum CBD oil. It contains two ingredients: their full spectrum whole-plant extract from Colorado-grown hemp and an organic virgin hemp seed oil. They use an advanced clean Co2 extraction method that results in a fuller plant extract that's also easier on the environment.
Why buy: This full spectrum CBD oil from NuLeaf Naturals can provide a full range of the beneficial plant compounds that can work together to promote the entourage effect. We recommend this oil for help promoting rest and healthy sleep cycles at night.
Best Organic CBD Oil: R+R Medicinals Full Spectrum CBD Tincturerrmeds.com
R+R Medicinals makes a USDA organic full spectrum CBD oil that offers an extra-strength blend of phytocannabinoids. The 1000 mg size contains 33.33 mg of CBD per serving plus over 4 mg of minor cannabinoids like CBC, CBN, CBG, and THC for powerful relief potential.
Why buy: We like this full spectrum oil from R+R Medicinals because it packs so many beneficial cannabinoids plus organic MCT oil and organic mint flavoring into one bottle. This is a great option for a completely USDA organic CBD supplement.
Best CBD Oil Flavors: FAB CBD Full Spectrum CBD Oils
FAB CBD makes it easy to find the full spectrum CBD oil that's right for you. Their organically-grown full spectrum Colorado hemp extract is available in four different strengths and five different flavors, including Citrus, Mint, Natural, Berry, and Vanilla.
Why buy: We really like the options that FAB offers, from the flavors to the potency. The 300 mg size is a good choice for those new to CBD as it contains just 10 mg of CBD per serving in whichever flavor you choose.
The Research on Full Spectrum CBD Oil
While further study remains to be done, CBD has shown promise in studies for a number of different potential health benefits. Scientific research conducted on mice indicated that CBD and other cannabinoids can be effective in the management of difficult to treat pain.
Other animal and human studies have illustrated potential benefits of full spectrum CBD oil that include:
- Regulation of nausea and vomiting
- Reduction in the severity and frequency of seizures
- Management of neurodegenerative conditions, including Parkinson's disease, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis
The reason why CBD has such a profound effect on the body is due to the endocannabinoid system, or ECS. The ECS works hard to keep your body in a state of balance called homeostasis so that your sleep, mood, appetite and other bodily functions remain stable. It does this by interacting with cannabinoid receptors throughout the body.
One of the most significant advantages to full spectrum CBD oil comes courtesy of something called the entourage effect. This concept reinforces that the whole of the cannabis plant is greater than the sum of its parts—meaning that when multiple cannabinoids work together, the effects of each become supercharged and work synergistically to provide greater benefits.
What's the Difference Between Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, and CBD Isolate?
Full spectrum CBD oil won't be for everyone. Some might be put off by the presence of both CBD and THC, while others may not enjoy the oil's earthy and musky flavor profile. The good news is there are several other categories of CBD products to dabble in that might make you feel more comfortable or that you find easier to stomach.
We already talked about how full spectrum CBD is derived from cannabis plants, but we should also mention that it comes from industrial hemp plants. These are cannabis Sativa plants that contain high concentrations of CBD and less than 0.3% THC, a ratio that legalizes the plant's contents on a national level, thanks to the passage of the 2018 United States Farm Bill. As mentioned, these hemp plants contain other cannabinoids and terpenes, making use of the whole plant.
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, you will find CBD isolate. Products that feature CBD isolate have been heavily purified and distilled to remove any and all terpenes and cannabinoids besides CBD. These THC-free products are great for anyone looking to take advantage of pure CBD's therapeutic properties without worrying about THC.
Broad spectrum CBD oil exists right in the middle of full spectrum and CBD isolate. Similar to CBD isolate, broad spectrum is THC free, but it does include some of the other terpenes and cannabinoids that you might find in full spectrum like CBN and CBG.
When Should I Use Full Spectrum CBD Oil?
There are definitely advantages to full spectrum CBD oil that you just can't get with CBD isolate or even broad spectrum. We generally recommend full spectrum products over other options because these CBD products tend to provide the most benefit and a fuller effect thanks to the complete profile of plant compounds. Full spectrum CBD oils are specifically great for supporting healthy sleep cycles and support managing chronic pain.
The main reason to consider a broad spectrum of CBD isolate product is to avoid ingesting any THC. CBD should never make you feel high, but products that contain even trace amounts of THC could cause a positive drug test. You should always keep that and your personal circumstances in mind as you select your CBD products. Also know when looking for the best CBD oils you can refine your search to select from only organic options.
How to Shop for Full Spectrum CBD Oils
In order to find the best full spectrum CBD product for you, there are a few things to consider. Here is what to remember when shopping for full spectrum CBD.
What to Look For
Concentration: Always make sure you know how much CBD an oil or edible contains, both per container and per individual serving.
Source: We recommend choosing brands that use hemp grown in the U.S. using natural or organic farming methods.
Testing: The most important thing to look for in any CBD product is proof of independent third-party lab testing.
How to Read Labels
These are the key pieces of information you should look for on the label of any full spectrum CBD oil.
- Strength - This is typically shown as milligrams of CBD per 1 mL serving.
- Lab Test Results - Most brands include information, or a QR code, for the lab test results of their CBD.
- Carrier Oil - CBD oil tinctures use carrier oils like MCT oil, olive oil, or hemp seed oil. If you have a food allergy, be sure to check the type of oil used in a product.
- Dosage Guide - Some CBD brands include a dosage guide on the label to help you measure the appropriate amount of CBD per serving.
How to Use
Full spectrum CBD oils can either be taken sublingually, in which you hold the oil under your tongue for 30 seconds or so before swallowing, or can be mixed into food and beverages. Depending on the amount of CBD you need per day, this can be done either once or twice per day. If you are taking a full spectrum CBD oil to help with insomnia or sleep, it's best to take those in the evening, an hour or so before bed. For support in managing stress or anxiety, you may want to take one serving in the morning and another serving in the evening. As with all CBD products, full spectrum CBD typically works best over time as it builds up in your system through consistent use.
Safety & Side Effects
According to the World Health Organization "CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile." Like any dietary or wellness supplement, however, it can cause a few mild side effects in certain people. These can include dry mouth, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, and changes in appetite. One important thing to note is that there can be a drug interaction between CBD and certain prescription medicines, especially blood thinners. If you're currently undergoing a course of medication or take a prescription medication, check with your physician to ensure you can safely add CBD to the mix before beginning.
The best full spectrum CBD oils may allow you to boost your wellness and enjoy natural relief through your own body's endocannabinoid system. Use our guide to make sure that you know what to look for when shopping and which brands to consider in order to get the best possible product for you.
Josh Hall has been professional writer and storyteller for more than 15 years. His work on natural health and cannabis has appeared in Health, Shape, and Remedy Review.
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As Biden Embraces More Ambitious Climate Plan, Fossil Fuel Execs Donate to Trump 'With Greater Zeal' Than in 2016
By Jake Johnson
With presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden's climate platform becoming increasingly ambitious thanks to nonstop grassroots pressure, fossil fuel executives and lobbyists are pouring money into the coffers of President Donald Trump's reelection campaign in the hopes of keeping an outspoken and dedicated ally of dirty energy in the White House.
The Houston Chronicle reported Monday that oil and gas executives "are writing checks to President Donald Trump with greater zeal than they did four years ago, as Biden campaigns on a climate plan that seeks to eliminate carbon emissions by mid-century."
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Trump's reelection campaign has thus far raised over $936,000 from the oil and gas industry — more than three times the $265,000 the industry has donated to Biden as of July 21. By contrast, the Chronicle noted, Trump only narrowly led Hillary Clinton in fossil fuel industry donations during the 2016 campaign cycle.
"As the incumbent, Trump might seem a surer bet for companies than he was as a political outsider four years ago," the Chronicle reported. "At the same time, Biden's recent climate stance is very different from Clinton's, who as secretary of state had promoted the U.S. fracking industry overseas — Biden has sworn off donations from the oil and gas sector, though through loopholes executives are still giving."
Trump, for his part, is openly courting the oil and gas industry by warning that a Biden presidency would spell disaster for the fossil fuel sector, which has been hammered by the coronavirus pandemic.
"If these far-left politicians ever get into power, they will demolish not only your industry but the entire U.S. economy," Trump said at the site of an active oil rig in Midland, Texas last week. The president went on to falsely claim that Biden supports a total ban on fracking. (Biden only supports banning fracking on public lands.)
"No fracking, no drilling, no oil," Trump said of the former vice president's position.
While Biden's refusal to commit to the Green New Deal and a complete fracking ban has drawn the ire of environmentalists and advocacy groups, the former vice president's release last month of a $2 trillion green energy plan was celebrated as an encouraging step in the right direction.
Biden's plan, as Common Dreams reported, calls for 100% clean electricity by 2035 and sweeping infrastructure upgrades that would create millions of new jobs.
"We've seen a pretty huge transformation in Biden's climate plan," Varshini Prakash, co-founder and executive director of the Sunrise Movement, told The Washington Post on Sunday. "What I've seen in the last six to eight weeks is a pretty big transition in upping his ambition and centering environmental justice."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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By Lisa Newcomb
As wildfires burn through California and the western United States, the Gulf Coast prepares for two potential hurricanes within a 48-hour timeframe, and record high temperatures dominate the summer, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday noted the resounding absence of any mention of the climate crisis during the first night of the Republican National Convention.
"You wouldn't know it if you watched the first night of the Republican National Convention, but we are in the middle of a climate emergency with scientists telling us we have just a few years to act in order to save our planet for future generations," Sanders said in an email to supporters Tuesday.
In what NowThis described as a "Carnival of Misinformation," the GOP managed to attack Sanders and other progressive political leaders Monday night, calling them "radical" and "Marxist," and to vilify the state of California—which has lost 1.4 million acres to wildfires so far this year—but failed to even mention climate or environmental concerns.
There wasn't a single mention of climate change during the #RNC2020 last night. But we know exactly where Trump and… https://t.co/AkNRbvDs6c— Climate Power (@Climate Power)1598376600.0
"Don't tell me the Green New Deal is radical," Sanders continued in his email. "What is radical is doing nothing to take on the existential threat of climate change while the world burns."
President Donald Trump criticized Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom and his state's wildfire mitigation strategies earlier this month, harkening to comments the president has made in the past about clearing forest floors of debris as the key to preventing the destruction caused across the west in recent years.
"I see again the forest fires are starting," the president said at a rally in Pennsylvania. "They're starting again in California. I said, you gotta clean your floors, you gotta clean your forests—there are many, many years of leaves and broken trees and they're like, like, so flammable, you touch them and it goes up." Trump went on to threaten withholding federal funds, though he did promise aid last weekend.
The president, a notorious denier of human-caused climate change, has called the crisis a "hoax invented by the Chinese."
"Here is the truth," Sanders wrote. "In the midst of everything going on right now, a global pandemic, an economic meltdown, a struggle for racial justice, and more, we simply cannot lose sight of the existential threat of climate change which puts at risk the very survival of this planet."
The senator from Vermont, a champion of the Green New Deal, warned that the time of incremental action in dealing with the climate crisis has passed.
"We cannot go far enough or be too aggressive on this issue," he said.
We cannot accept that our children and grandchildren must face worse fires, worse hurricanes, worse floods and more… https://t.co/5cVBtP0J6o— Bernie Sanders (@Bernie Sanders)1598281975.0
Sanders isn't the only one who noticed the RNC's dismissal of environmental and climate concerns Monday night. Conservative climate activist Benji Backer expressed his frustration on Twitter, saying he's "feeling as disenfranchised as ever."
I've dedicated my life to conservative politics...thousands of hours knocking doors/making phone calls. I've gone t… https://t.co/iUfcg0PSKb— Benji Backer (@Benji Backer)1598291360.0
Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah), whom League of Conservation Voters gives a 3% rating on its environmental scorecard, told attendees at an unrelated event Monday that his party has to start taking the climate crisis seriously.
"As a conservative, I regret that we have let ourselves be branded as not caring about the Earth," Curtis said. "It's time to stop being on the defensive and go on the offensive."
He continued: "We don't need to destroy the U.S. economy to be successful. As a matter of fact, I believe a once-in-a-generation opportunity is in front of us."
But Curtis remains in the minority of Republican lawmakers, and, Sanders wrote, tackling the climate crisis is a duty we share as global citizens.
"We are custodians of the Earth," he wrote. "All of us. And it would be a moral disgrace if we left to future generations a planet and that was unhealthy, unsafe, and uninhabitable."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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By Yvette Cabrera
This story was originally published on Grist on July 30, 2020
Fifteen years ago, Kamala Harris — San Francisco's District Attorney at the time — created an environmental justice unit in her office. The goal was to go after the perpetrators of environmental crimes that were hurting some of the city's poorest residents.
The state attorney general's office had emphasized the need for state and local law enforcement to step up because of a void left by federal authorities in the Bush administration who were busy rolling back environmental protections. "One of the best tools out there to go after polluters is to go after them on a criminal basis," a spokesperson for then–State Attorney General Bill Lockyer told SFGate in 2005. Across the country, communities burdened by pollution and contamination have been calling for that type of accountability at the federal level for decades.
Now, even as the Trump administration continues to aggressively roll back environmental regulations, that dream has a better chance of materializing. Harris, as California's junior senator, is fighting for a comprehensive piece of legislation that will give vulnerable communities the tools they need to address environmental disparities. On Thursday, Harris plans to introduce a companion bill in the Senate to the Environmental Justice for All Act introduced earlier this year in the House of Representatives by Democrats A. Donald McEachin of Virginia and Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona.
"Environmental justice is interconnected with every aspect of our fight for justice. From racial justice and economic justice, to housing justice and educational justice, we cannot disentangle the environment people live in from the lives they live," Harris told Grist in an email. "These crises we are experiencing have exposed injustices in our nation that many of us have known and fought our entire lives."
The Senate bill, whose lead cosponsors are Democrats Cory Booker of New Jersey and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, acknowledges how factors such as segregation and racist zoning codes have rendered communities of color more vulnerable to the effects of climate change and left them with limited resources to address ongoing environmental health disparities. To address this, the act aims broadly to meaningfully engage impacted communities in government decision-making processes, such as federal permitting decisions for infrastructure projects, the creation of climate resiliency plans, and the transition to clean energy.
For more than two years, Grijalva and McEachin have worked alongside environmental justice advocates to address these inequities during the drafting of the act. That work was underway well before the COVID-19 pandemic struck and before the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd at the hands of a police officer this spring, which unleashed massive protests calling for the country to reckon with systemic racism. While the health crisis and movement for racial justice has put vulnerable communities in the spotlight, Grijalva told Grist that their aim was always to deliver a comprehensive environmental justice bill that could help these communities.
"The premise was … that we were going to deal with the systemic root causes, with the systemic solutions, not just cover up the problem or change one little thing or create another task force," said Grijalva, who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee. "There had to be codified into law a systemic response to that systemic racism that created the situation."
The Environmental Justice for All Act would amend the Civil Rights Act to allow private citizens and organizations that experience discrimination to seek legal remedies when a program, policy, or practice causes a disparate impact. It would also require federal agencies to consider health effects that might compound over time when making permitting decisions under the federal Clean Air and Clean Water acts. In addition, it would fund research on and programs to reduce health disparities and improve public health in disadvantaged communities. Under the act, new fees on oil, gas, and coal companies would go toward a fund to support workers and communities transitioning away from fossil fuel jobs. Finally, the act also intends to codify and make enforceable a longstanding executive order on environmental justice that then–President Bill Clinton signed in 1994.
McEachin told Grist that the House and Senate bills acknowledge the racist roots of environmental burdens in low-income communities and communities of color. "This is a moment in time that does not just focus on police brutality, does not just focus on confederate memorabilia. The focus is on 401 years of racial injustice in this nation, and part of that has to be environmental justice," said McEachin. "If we're going to achieve a clean energy future, climate justice, and relief for those communities, the frontline community has to be the very centerpiece of that plan."
The Black Lives Matter movement has helped the act gain momentum toward passage in the House — Grijalva is optimistic that he'll be able to bring the bill to the floor of the House for a vote by September. Some of the act has also been incorporated into other Democratic proposals, like the 538-page climate plan recently released by the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. Some of the act's proposals are also reflected in the environmental justice plan released by presumed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, said Grijalva.
For example, Biden plans to revise and reinvigorate Clinton's executive order that directs federal agencies to review programs that may have disproportionately high or adverse health and environmental effects. Historically, the agencies have been inconsistent in addressing environmental justice within their strategic plans.
Environmental advocates who were involved in the creation of the House bill expressed enthusiasm for Harris' sponsorship of the bill in the Senate and said that the legislation could be a game-changer for frontline communities. Kerene Nicole Tayloe, director of federal legislative affairs for the New York City–based nonprofit WE ACT for Environmental Justice, said that the consideration of cumulative health impacts during permitting processes would be particularly important, especially in states like Louisiana that don't have meaningful environmental legislation on the books.
"Having something like the EJ for All bill, to consider cumulative effects in Cancer Alley and all of those kinds of places that have long been a dumping ground for companies and industry, I think would start to give communities the legal protections they need and put the tools in place," said Tayloe.
Angelo Logan, who is the campaign director of the Los-Angeles-based Moving Forward Network and who was also involved in crafting the House bill, told Grist that he hopes the act sets the stage for more community involvement in creating legislation at the local, state, and federal levels. "I think there'll be a dramatic change, a complete positive impact on communities that are the most impacted by environmental racism," said Logan. "And the multiplying effects that it would have on communities is tremendous."
As a presidential candidate, Harris made acting on climate change a top priority. Last year, while running for president, she unveiled a climate equity plan with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and created a climate agenda that would address the climate crisis and environmental injustices while building a clean economy with well-paying jobs. As California's attorney general, she defended the state's landmark climate laws in court and sued Chevron U.S.A. Inc. for damaging the environment. Holding polluters accountable will be critical moving forward, and the Environmental Justice for All Act will help communities do just that, Harris told Grist via email.
Race, she noted, is the No. 1 predictor of where polluting facilities in America are located. And 70 percent of Americans who live in the highest air pollution areas of our country are people of color. "These disparities were in part intentionally created and so we must intentionally address them," said Harris. "That's what this bill does."
Reposted with permission from Grist.
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What does the climate crisis look like? As wildfires continue to rage up and down the U.S. West Coast, we have some terrifying answers: orange skies; burnt-out buildings; a horse, seemingly abandoned, running past a stall as the hill above erupts in flames. These images help to ground an unfathomable reality.
More than 100 major fires in California, Oregon and Washington have forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes during a pandemic, destroyed entire towns and claimed at least 23 lives, USA Today reported Friday. The flames have charred more than three million acres in California alone, a record for the state, The New York Times reported.
While the individual fires have different causes, including a gender-reveal party, scientists agree that changes in the climate make larger fires like the ones burning now more likely. This is because warmer temperatures mean more extreme heat waves and drier air and vegetation, creating ideal conditions for fires to spread, as CBS News explained. While climate change can feel abstract and distant as a prediction, these seven photos of the West Coast fires make it devastatingly real.
A boat motors by as the Bidwell Bar Bridge is surrounded by fire in Lake Oroville during the Bear Fire in Oroville, California on Sept. 9, 2020. Josh Edelson / AFP / Getty Images
People in Northern California looked out their windows Wednesday to a scene out of a science-fiction movie as the sky glowed orange. Clouds of smoke covering the state filtered the sun's light and energy, tinting skies and lowering temperatures, Al Jazeera reported. In San Francisco, the unusual color was a combination of ash from the Bear Fire mixed with the marine layer that provides the city's famous fog, ABC 7 News explained. The effect was so remarkable that Hillary Clinton shared the image above, taken in Oroville, on her Instagram. "None of this is normal, and confronting climate change is on the ballot this year. Vote, as early as you can, for a habitable planet," she wrote.
Creek Fire Destruction
A community of forest homes lies in ruins along Auberry Road in the Meadow Lakes area after the Creek Fire swept through on Sept. 8, 2020 near Shaver Lake, California. David McNew / Getty Images
The Creek Fire started on Friday, Sept. 4, just as large swaths of California were facing record-breaking heat for Labor Day weekend. The fire spread quickly through the western edge of the Sierra National Forest. Hundreds of people were airlifted away from the fast-spreading fire earlier in the week, according to KABC in Los Angeles. So far, the fire has burned through 175,893 acres and was only 6 percent contained Thursday, according to the Fresno Bee. Cal Fire's statistics say the fire, which has ripped through the remote mountain town of Big Creek, has destroyed hundreds of homes and buildings. "My family has been part of this community since 1929 and knowing it's probably never going to be the same is just gut-wrenching," said Toby Walt, the superintendent of Big Creek School District, to CNN.
Mass Evacuations in Washington
Tinted orange by wildfire smoke from Oregon and southern Washington, the sun sets behind a hill on Sept. 9, 2020 in Kalama, Washington. David Ryder / Getty Images
As of Wednesday, wildfires had scorched 587,000 acres of Washington state, nearly half the area of land that burned during the entire record-setting fire season of 2015, The Seattle Times reported. The fires prompted Washington Governor Jay Inslee to sign an emergency declaration Wednesday, and to promise cash assistance for people who have lost their homes to the flames. Hundreds of families have had to evacuate, including residents of Tacoma suburb Bonney Lake. One of them was Christian Deoliveira, who fled his home with his fiancé and five-year-old son early Tuesday morning. "I woke up at about 3 a.m. to a neighbor knocking on the door, saying the whole hillside's on fire," Deoliveira told The News Tribune.
Animals Affected by Wildfires
A horse runs by a stall as flames from the Hennessey fire approach a property in the Spanish Flat area of Napa, California on Aug. 18, 2020. Josh Edelson / AFP / Getty Images
Wild animals in the West are accustomed to wildfires as a natural part of the ecosystem. Some even need the burnt-out areas for their breeding grounds, while other predators will lie in wait for prey fleeing the fire. But the size and intensity of the current fires is beyond what most animals have adapted to. While scientists do not have a count of how many animals die in wildfires, they do know that smoke, fire and heat are extremely dangerous for animals that can't escape fast enough, particularly young and small animals, according to National Geographic. It's not just wild animals that suffer. Domestic pets are also left behind to fend for themselves as fire approaches and pet owners need to evacuate. Animal rescue crews are scrambling to find cats and dogs that were left behind. After finding one dog, Farshad Azad of the North Valley Animal Disaster Group told the Vallejo Times-Herald, "Everything around him was incinerated." He added, "People are really afraid. And people are hurting because their animals are missing."
The Human Toll
Resident Austin Giannuzzi cries while embracing family members at the burnt remains of their home during the LNU Lightning Complex fire in Vacaville, California on Aug. 23, 2020. Josh Edelson / AFP / Getty Images
The fires have claimed at least 23 lives and destroyed hundreds of homes in all three states. One of the hardest hit areas has been California's Butte County, which was also the site of 2018's Camp Fire, the fire that scorched the town of Paradise and was the deadliest and most destructive in the state's history. Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said Thursday at least 10 people in his county had died in the North Complex fires, while dozens were missing and hundreds of homes were feared lost, according to USA Today. The blaze even menaced Paradise again, though The Mercury News reported evacuation orders for part of the town had been lifted. But Paradise's experience was repeated in the Butte County community of Berry Creek, which was obliterated by a part of the North Complex Fire Tuesday night. "The school is gone, the fire department's gone, the bar's gone, the laundromat's gone, the general store's gone," 50-year-resident John Sykes, who watched the blaze from a mile away, told The Sacramento Bee. "I'll never go back. I don't want to see it. That's why I'm leaving. I never want to see California again."
Communities Threatened and Destroyed in Oregon
A sprinkler wets the exterior of a home as wildfires approach nearby in Clackamas County on Sept. 9, 2020 in Oregon City, Oregon. David Ryder / Getty Images
High winds have fueled the rapid spread of the wildfires in Oregon, which are threatening the Western part of the state at an unprecedented rate. More than a half-million people have fled from the fires, which makes up more than 10 percent of the state's population of 4.2 million, according to the BBC. As of Thursday, there were 37 different blazes in the state, affecting people along the Interstate 5 corridor from Ashland in the south to Portland in the north. That includes Salem and Eugene. The blazes, which are only 1 percent contained, have decimated the towns of Phoenix and Talent, destroying hundreds of homes. "We have never seen this amount of uncontained fire across the state," said Governor Kate Brown, as the BBC reported. "This will not be a one-time event. Unfortunately, it is the bellwether of the future. We're feeling the acute impacts of climate change."
Wildfires During a Pandemic
A sign warning people about COVID-19 is surrounded by flames during the Hennessey Fire near Lake Berryessa in Napa, California on Aug. 18, 2020. Josh Edelson / AFP / Getty Images
The intense fires in the midst of a pandemic that requires social distancing is complicating evacuation strategies. Usually, people fleeing fires will huddle together in school gymnasiums. The COVID-19 pandemic has made that a no-no. The same restrictions apply to firefighters who would usually bunk together in small spaces, according to HuffPost. Complicating matters further is that the poor air quality from the smoke may affect recovery from COVID-19. "We know that wildfire exposure to communities increases the risk of lower respiratory tract infection," such as acute bronchitis and pneumonia, said Dr. John Balmes, a physician at the University of California, San Francisco, as HuffPost reported. "So there's concern in the context of the pandemic that wildfire smoke exposure would increase the risk of moving from mild to more severe COVID-19."
Note: This article has been updated to clarify that orange skies are being seen in areas of Northern California including Oroville and San Francisco.
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By Michael Addonizio
Safely resuming in-person instruction at U.S. public schools is important for the academic, physical, emotional and social well-being of children and their families. It's also a key factor for the nation's economic recovery.
But in mid-July, despite considerable pressure from the Trump administration, many school systems around the nation had announced that they didn't yet believe that anything close to resembling a traditional schedule would be feasible before the 2020-21 school year starts. Many school districts, including those in Los Angeles, San Diego and Houston, three of the nation's largest, were planning to be fully online.
Others, such as those serving New York City and Clinton, Mississippi, currently plan to follow hybrid approaches that combine distance learning and in-person learning. The goal in those cases is to reduce the spread of coronavirus by keeping students several feet apart from each other at all times and the only way to do that is to have fewer children in school at any given time.
Some states, including Florida, are trying to demand that local school systems at least offer families a chance for in-person daily instruction. But it's unlikely that all schools schools in those states will have on-site instruction, especially in COVID-19 hotspots.
Pressure from teachers has contributed to decisions to refrain from holding classes in person everywhere from Southern California to Northern Virginia. Based on my research regarding educational leadership and school policies, I believe that those moves reflect how teachers are insisting that schools only be reopened once staff and student safety can be more assured.
In June, a survey of the members of the American Federation of Teachers, a union with 1.6 million members, found that only 21% of K-12 teachers preferred to resume school on a traditional schedule. Another 42% supported a hybrid approach combining in-person and distance learning and 29% wanted to continue with distance learning exclusively and the rest didn't express a preference.
Fully 62% of the teachers responding to the survey expressed concerns over school safety tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.
One reason for this trepidation is demographic. More than 1 in 4 of the nation's 3.7 million public school teachers are 50 years old or older. That means they have a high risk of getting severe symptoms if they contract COVID-19.
Countless other teachers live with someone who is in a high-risk category due to their age or have underlying conditions that put them at a greater risk should they get sick.
A recent effort to at least bring teachers together while they taught young students online over the summer didn't bode well. Three teachers shared a classroom at an Arizona public school. Although all three wore masks and gloves, used hand sanitizer and socially distanced, they all got infected with the coronavirus. One of them, who was 61, died in June.
Even experts do not yet have a good understanding of the likely risks tied to reopening K-12 school buildings. Much remains unknown about the degree to which kids, who appear to be unlikely to develop COVID-19 symptoms, can spread the coronavirus. It's unclear whether the heating and cooling systems in school buildings function adequately enough to rely on during a pandemic. And no one knows how the alternative scheduling scenarios taking shape might affect student and staff safety since for the most part they are unprecedented.
This pushback from teachers is in keeping with a recent wave of mass mobilization by educators.
In 2018 and 2019, tens of thousands of public school teachers, both unionized and not, walked out of their classrooms. In states like Kentucky, Arizona, California and Illinois, they protested low salaries, large class sizes and cuts to school budgets that have forced many teachers to spend their own money on classroom materials.
From these walkouts, some statewide and others limited to specific school districts, teachers won better pay and working conditions. They also garnered considerable public support that may have bolstered educators' political clout in decisions being made about how to carry on with K-12 schooling in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Teaching is challenging in the best of times. Now teachers are being asked and told to do more than ever: prepare in-person, online and hybrid lessons, allay students' anxieties, and risk their own and their families' health while serving students and families, often in communities where the pandemic isn't anywhere near under control.
Should school systems not heed teacher safety concerns, there's a risk that large numbers of educators might retire early or quit until conditions are safer.
A wave of resignations could have major consequences for school quality. Teacher experience makes a big difference, in terms of both measured student achievement and student behavior. And replacing them with inexperienced substitute teachers and others far less qualified and issued emergency credentials would surely take a toll on the quality of education children get, whether it happens online or in classrooms.
In my view, the educational costs of losing scores of veteran teachers over personal health concerns would be incalculable.
Michael Addonizio is a professor of educational leadership and policy studies at the Wayne State University.
Disclosure statement: Michael Addonizio does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Reposted with permission from The Conversation.
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By Leanna First-Arai
In a push to capture the rural vote, 62 percent of which went to Trump in 2016, both the Trump and Biden campaigns are ramping up efforts to appeal to farmers and ranchers.
On September 22, the Biden campaign launched a new radio ad blitz in eight battleground states, in which Biden appeals to older voters whose families have lived in rural areas for generations. "No longer are we going to be faced with children or grandchildren believing that the only way they can make it is to leave home and go somewhere else to get that good job," Biden's voice assures. "There's no reason why it can't happen here."
In a contrasting approach, at a rally in North Carolina, just a few hours ahead of the opening of the Republican National Convention in August, Trump claimed that, under his administration, "The American farmer has done very well. I never hear any complaints from the American farmer." Remarks later that week during the convention followed suit. "The economy is coming up very rapidly, our farmers are doing well because I got China to give them $28 billion because they were targeted by China," Trump said on the first night of the convention.
But that assessment doesn't square with the hardship many U.S. farmers are facing — particularly small farmers. U.S. farm bankruptcies increased 20 percent in 2019, reaching an eight-year high, on account of factors like the trade war, increasing costs of production and crop loss related to the climate crisis.
Since April 2020, farmer support for the incumbent president has fallen from 89 percent to 71 percent, according to an August 2020 survey by DTN/The Progressive Farmer. A recent report by the Government Accountability Office revealed that under the Trump administration, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Market Facilitation Program payments to farmers harmed by the trade war went disproportionately to large-scale cotton and soybean farmers, ignoring the needs of small farmers who grow food. On account of Trump administration changes in payment maximums for the USDA's Market Facilitation Program, the top 1.3 percent of payment recipients received an additional $519 million, while the average individual farmer in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania got $11,829 and $8,661, respectively. The finding is in line with earlier analyses revealing Trump's disproportionate financial support for the largest capitalist farmers.
According to the USDA, more than half of the 2 million farms in the United States are "very small farms," grossing less than $10,000 annually. When asked what political capital this group could hold, Wingate University Assistant Professor of Political Science Chelsea Kaufman told Truthout that the increased pressure small farmers face from forces like the overlapping COVID-19 pandemic and climate crisis could make them a "relatively unique" political force, as has been the case with farmers experiencing economic shocks during past election cycles.
In 1932, incumbent President Herbert Hoover lost votes from normally Republican-voting northern farmers, and the same happened for Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956. Academics attribute this to low crop prices during election years. According to the Cook Political Report, many of what are expected to be key battleground states in 2020, like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, are also top agricultural producers.
The majority of the smaller farmers Truthout spoke with for this story want to see a federal government that tackles climate change head-on and restructures agriculture to be a solution by encouraging diversified farming that stores (rather than releases) carbon. Industrial agriculture is a major contributor to climate change, through its reliance on chemical fertilizers, the manufacturing of which releases carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, and depletes the soil of nutrients. It's a system that farmers are "stuck in," says Tom Rosenfeld, who grows apples, blueberries, strawberries and peaches on 120 acres of farmland in southwest Michigan. Rosenfeld purchased a conventional orchard in 2005 and has been converting it to organic ever since, which he says has been a challenge in a system that prioritizes conventional practices. Dealing with climate change has made it even more difficult, a sentiment that reflects a wider experience among farmers. In 2018, 75 percent of Farm Aid hotline calls were related to extreme weather and weather-related crises like wildfires.
Rosenfeld says more frequent late freezes due to climate change have been all but impossible to bounce back from. After temperatures dropped to 25 degrees Fahrenheit in May 2020, he lost 65 percent of his strawberries, 40 percent of his blueberries and all of his Red Delicious, Gala, Empire and McIntosh apples. On top of that, the changing climate has brought new pests to the region, like the apple flea weevil, which destroyed a full season's worth of crops when it first appeared in 2010. "Every year I keep thinking, is this it?" he tells Truthout. "I can't afford this financially; I can't afford the time and energy and it doesn't seem to be getting to any kind of manageable place."
In 2018, when President Trump signed the latest Farm Bill, he reauthorized the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which provides financial and technical assistance to farmers who implement certain conservation practices like mulching to protect soil, or "karst sinkhole treatment" to protect runoff from reaching groundwater supply.
But Rosenfeld, who is in the midst of transitioning all 110 acres from conventional to organic, says the program doesn't offer the kind of assistance he needs. When government representatives paid his farm a visit to assess what kind of EQIP program they might support, Rosenfeld says they proposed he build a retention wall near where he fills his sprayer, to help catch runoff. "But what good does that do?" he said, referring to his ultimate goal of moving away from using any kind of hazardous material on his land. "They're not offering the types of programs that are relevant to me as an organic grower."
Rosenfeld says he wants to shift away from using diesel and gas-fueled tractors and to have on-site renewable energy to power his farm. But no existing government programs make that financially feasible. When he considered investing in solar panels a few years ago, he found one program that would have cost him around $30,000, but with the kind of crop loss he has experienced, he couldn't afford it.
Two hours north of Rosenfeld's farm, in White Cloud, Michigan, Luke Eising is a farmer who uses silvopasture techniques, letting cows, pigs and chickens graze together amid integrated forest and plant landscapes. Rotating the animals to different pastures encourages plants to develop more robust root systems, which returns carbon to the soil and improves soil quality. In addition to producing food for his community, Eising says, being able to help sequester carbon and rebuild degraded soil is a major reason he chose to be a farmer. According to the 2018 United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, sequestering carbon in the soil is the most cost-effective option for economic activity generating "negative emissions." "I very much see it as a solution for food systems," Eising told Truthout.
Eising would like to see subsidies for corn and soy cut, because he thinks regenerative practices like his would become competitive. "We're fighting an uphill battle when I can see chicken breasts or pork chops in the store for less than I pay to process [my product]," he says, referring to animals raised in confinement and fed monoculture corn and soy feed the federal government subsidizes. Another issue the current administration hasn't helped with, Eising says, is a major meat processing backlog. Whereas Eising can usually get a date within six to eight weeks at a meat processing plant, given meat plant shutdowns amid COVID-19, leading to short supply of meat processing facilities, it's been hard to find a date any time before 2022. "This is not okay. I have animals outside that are ready to process, I have customers lining up because they're hungry and I have a freezer that's empty," he says. Existing laws prohibit small, local butchers from processing meat headed for market.
Eising tends to vote for conservative or libertarian candidates in local and national elections. In 2016, he voted for libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. But Eising says he'll likely vote for Biden if polling remains close in Michigan. "Nobody else is at all interested in what regenerative farming could do for this country," he says. Biden has recently talked about paying farmers for "planting certain crops that in fact absorb carbon from the air," but his climate plan makes no mention of organic, diversified or regenerative farming. According to a report by Data For Progress, conventional farming practices that rely on pesticides and monoculture practices are linked to $44 billion in annual damage related to soil erosion in the United States, which is perhaps felt most acutely in areas where soil can no longer retain moisture in the advent of a heavy rain, leading to catastrophic flooding.
Ecologically minded farmers in swing states outside of Michigan similarly reflect a desire for leadership that addresses climate through agricultural reform. Kemper Burt began farming 40 years ago in California. He now lives in Arizona, where he grows lettuce and other produce on a 40-acre farm powered by solar energy. Burt points out that tackling climate change will entail decolonizing the way we produce food, in direct contrast with the "feed the world" mentality behind the so-called "Green Revolution" of the 1970s, which led to the fertilizer and pesticide-heavy monoculture farming he and other small-scale farmers want to break away from. "Let's just try feeding our community, then let's just try feeding our state, and then let's just try feeding other states," Burt says. Burt is registered as an independent, though he wouldn't say exactly how he'll vote in November. "I look to what people are doing to help protect nature, which then in turn protects you and I," he said.
Many small farmers say they've yet to see a presidential candidate or down-ballot candidate fully address their needs in this election cycle. President Trump's reelection campaign has not yet put out a climate plan. And Biden's climate plan does not yet spell out what small-scale farmers say they want, like a return to the New Deal-era concept of "parity," a supply-management strategy designed to prevent the kind of wasteful over-production of soybeans and corn that wipes the land of biodiversity and results in unstable prices. Rosenfeld wants to see a shift away from crop insurance, which comprised one-third of farmers' income in 2019, toward income insurance, which would provide financial support for people growing food, rather than cash crops.
As long as agriculture is considered a solution to the climate crisis, whether in a Green New Deal or as part of another climate plan, says Maine farmer Craig Hickman, he'd consider it a step forward, noting that he thinks his neighbors in Maine, many of whom are libertarians, would agree. "Investing in food infrastructure is as important as roads and bridges," he told Truthout.
In 2019, Maine, a "purple" state, passed the first state-level Green New Deal backed by labor unions. Facing increased pressure from forces like climate change, the potential "farm vote" could build swing power, "although it is not clear whether that would happen in 2020 or a later election year," Kaufman said. "We can look to the lessons of history: Farmers had quite unique behavior at points in time where they faced economic instability, which led them to support candidates and parties that addressed these issues."
This story originally appeared in Truthout and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.
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By Varshini Prakash and John Podesta
At the 2019 Republican Retreat, Donald Trump promised his allies that he would make this election about climate change: "I want to bring them way down the pike," he said, "before we start criticizing the Green New Deal."
At his Tulsa rally in June, and in many of the campaign "speeches" he's given since then, the president's long riff on the climate proved he hasn't forgotten the promise he made to Republicans. Trump's obsession with the Green New Deal—from his fixation on the completely debunked notion that windmills cause cancer, to his nonsense about cows and hamburgers, to his racist and misogynistic ramblings about Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who introduced the Green New Deal Resolution—is much more central to his reelection effort than it appears at first glance.
For whatever reason, Trump has decided that the Green New Deal—a proposal to save our country from environmental and economic disaster—is going to be his main electoral punching bag in the 2020 campaign.
If that's the fight he wants to pick, we say: Bring it on. And new polling shows the Democratic Party should welcome the fight, too.
Trump and the GOP appear poised to spend the election attacking Joe Biden's plan to create millions of high-paying jobs by falsely arguing that it will cost $100 trillion, and destroy all the cows, cars, and airplanes. The goal of these absurd lies is to distract us from the truth: He and his party have no plan to address the climate crisis aside from further lining the pockets of oil and gas executives. But the American people want climate action.
New polling from Climate Power 2020 finds 71 percent favor bold government action on climate change, while only 18 percent oppose it. And talking about climate moves votes for Democrats. When presented as a choice between a Democratic congressional candidate in favor of bold climate action and an anti-action Republican, the vote moves 14 points in the Democrat's favor. This jump is even bigger—21 points—for centrist Republican and Democratic voters. These numbers are astronomical, and they make clear that running aggressively on climate is the Democratic Party's biggest political opportunity this election.
Trump's record on climate is damning. He put oil and coal lobbyists in charge of protecting our environment—and they immediately went to work rolling back over 100 environmental safeguards, allowing corporate polluters to pump more toxic pollution and chemicals into our air and water. So that companies like Chevron can keep making billions in profits and pay zero in federal taxes, he's waged a war on our clean energy industry that's cost our economy over 1.1 million jobs. Future generations will face devastating health impacts and extreme weather disasters, all because Trump spent four years allowing fossil fuel lobbyists to dictate his every move on the climate, clean energy, and the environment.
Trump is picking this fight because he thinks he can convince voters that bold climate action is a threat, not a necessity. But hyperbolic attacks don't work. Polling shows the American people see it for what it is: another distraction from the same guy who's called both climate change and the novel coronavirus a hoax, who had the audacity to claim that thousands of Americans did not die under his watch in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, and who never listens to scientists, experts—or even his own military leaders at the Pentagon, which have recognized climate change as a national security threat for years.
But here's the deal: Running boldly on tackling the climate crisis, running on a Green New Deal, these are policies that can be popular in all 50 states. Democrats should run toward, not away from these fights. The evidence is clear: If we loudly make the case for bold climate action, we will win.
John's gray hair is a testament to our 44-year difference in age. Those familiar with each of us may not think we have a lot in common. One of us chaired Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign, and one of us was Bernie Sanders's leading climate surrogate in 2020. But we're both clear: We've never seen our country so eager to elect leaders who will take bold action to stop the climate crisis.
Neither have we ever known a country in such dire need of such bold action. In a moment of historic unemployment, Democrats want to put millions of people back to work now by investing in bold climate action that would create millions of clean energy jobs and begin to repair decades of environmental injustice. That's what the American people want too. By 23 points, voters support investing trillions of dollars in clean energy infrastructure.
We have paid an inconceivable price for Trump's refusal to heed experts and science in a crisis. But as Americans claw out of unemployment, as folks scrape together the money to properly honor the lives they have lost, we have become unified by our acute fear of living through another crisis of this scale.
The climate crisis is the crisis we fear. Trump wants to fight about it. That's good. So do we.
This story originally appeared in The Nation and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.
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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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While the nation struggles to find ways to put money in peoples' pockets and to ramp up the economy so people can get back to work, over $43 billion in low-interest loans earmarked for clean energy projects sits undistributed by the Trump administration, according to The New York Times.
The president has long questioned the efficacy of renewable energy sources, has suggested that wind turbines cause cancer, and championed coal as a clean and efficient source of power. Despite his reluctance to champion green energy infrastructure, some lawmakers and energy experts think it is unacceptable that tens of billions of dollars that Congress long ago authorized, with bipartisan support, has not been dispersed.
"We're searching high and low all over Washington, DC, for money to put people back to work and here we have more than $40 billion," said Dan Reicher, executive director of the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance at Stanford University, who served at the Energy Department in the Clinton administration, to The New York Times. "This is the moment to really put these programs back in gear."
The loans passed through Congress well before the coronavirus forced nearly 30 million people into unemployment. However, they have been held up by the Energy Department.
"They haven't put out any or almost any of these loans since he's become president," said Representative Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, as The New York Times reported. "There's an ideological or political aspect to this. The president is not someone who seeks to promote the clean energy sector."
Holding up the loans during the pandemic seems particularly strange since the money could help many people to start working. Anne Reynolds with the Alliance for Clean Energy told POLITICO that energy efficiency companies have laid off between 40 and 50 percent of their workforce.
In New York, for example, the state saw layoffs to nearly 5,000 clean energy jobs in March. Congressman Pallone said that the renewable energy sector had created more than 3 million jobs.
"These utility-led programs could drive significant job and economic growth statewide as we step out of our current pause," said Reynolds, as POLITICO reported. "We are at risk of losing a skilled and trained workforce as work is stalled, and job losses and furloughs accelerate."
While an injection of capital would help restart green energy projects and allow companies to hire back employees, there is little reason to believe the Trump administration will issue any of the loans.The last new project to be approved under the loan program was in 2016, under the Obama administration. To get the money out of the government's hands and into an investment in renewable energy infrastructure, Pallone said he plans to find a way to address the unspent loans in the next stimulus.
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By Robert Reich
Both our economy and the environment are in crisis. Wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few while the majority of Americans struggle to get by. The climate crisis is worsening inequality, as those who are most economically vulnerable bear the brunt of flooding, fires and disruptions of supplies of food, water and power.
At the same time, environmental degradation and climate change are themselves byproducts of widening inequality. The political power of wealthy fossil fuel corporations has stymied action on climate change for decades. Focused only on maximizing their short-term interests, those corporations are becoming even richer and more powerful — while sidelining workers, limiting green innovation, preventing sustainable development and blocking direct action on our dire climate crisis.
Make no mistake: the simultaneous crisis of inequality and climate is no fluke. Both are the result of decades of deliberate choices made and policies enacted, by ultra-wealthy and powerful corporations.
We can address both crises by doing four things:
First, create green jobs. Investing in renewable energy could create millions of family sustaining, union jobs and build the infrastructure we need for marginalized communities to access clean water and air. The transition to a renewable energy-powered economy can add 550,000 jobs each year while saving the U.S. economy $78 billion through 2050. In other words, a Green New Deal could turn the climate crisis into an opportunity — one that both addresses the climate emergency and creates a fairer and more equitable society.
Second, stop dirty energy. A massive investment in renewable energy jobs isn't enough to combat the climate crisis. If we are going to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we must tackle the problem at its source: Stop digging up and burning more oil, gas and coal.
The potential carbon emissions from these fossil fuels in the world's currently developed fields and mines would take us well beyond the 1.5°C increased warming that Nobel Prize winning global scientists tell us the planet can afford. Given this, it's absurd to allow fossil fuel corporations to start new dirty energy projects.
Even as fossil fuel companies claim to be pivoting toward clean energy, they are planning to invest trillions of dollars in new oil and gas projects that are inconsistent with global commitments to limit climate change. And over half of the industry's expansion is projected to happen in the United States. Allowing these projects means locking ourselves into carbon emissions we can't afford now, let alone in the decades to come.
Even if the U.S. were to transition to 100 percent renewable energy today, continuing to dig fossil fuels out of the ground will lead us further into climate crisis. If the U.S. doesn't stop now, whatever we extract will simply be exported and burned overseas. We will all be affected, but the poorest and most vulnerable among us will bear the brunt of the devastating impacts of climate change.
Third, kick fossil fuel companies out of our politics. For decades, companies like Exxon, Chevron, Shell and BP have been polluting our democracy by pouring billions of dollars into our politics and bankrolling elected officials to enact policies that protect their profits. The oil and gas industry spent over $103 million on the 2016 federal elections alone. And that's just what they were required to report: that number doesn't include the untold amounts of "dark money" they've been using to buy-off politicians and corrupt our democracy. The most conservative estimates still put their spending at 10 times that of environmental groups and the renewable energy industry.
As a result, American taxpayers are shelling out $20 billion a year to bankroll oil and gas projects — a huge transfer of wealth to the top. And that doesn't even include hundreds of billions of dollars of indirect subsidies that cost every U.S. citizen roughly $2,000 a year. This has to stop.
And we've got to stop giving away public lands for oil and gas drilling. In 2018, under Trump, the Interior Department made $1.1 billion selling public land leases to oil and gas companies, an all-time record — triple the previous 2008 record, totaling more than 1.5 million acres for drilling alone, threatening multiple cultural sites and countless wildlife. As recently as last September, the Trump administration opened 1.56 million acres of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, threatening Indigenous cultural heritage and hundreds of species that call it home.
That's not all. The ban on exporting crude oil should be reintroduced and extended to other fossil fuels. The ban, in place for 40 years, was lifted in 2015, just days after the signing of the Paris climate agreement. After years of campaigning by oil executives, industry heads and their army of lobbyists, the fossil fuel industry finally got its way.
We can't wait for these changes to be introduced in 5 or 10 years time — we need them now.
Fourth, require the fossil fuel companies that have profited from environmental injustice compensate the communities they've harmed.
As if buying-off our democracy wasn't enough, these corporations have also deliberately misled the public for years on the amount of damage their products have been causing.
For instance, as early as 1977, Exxon's own scientists were warning managers that fossil fuel use would warm the planet and cause irreparable damage. In the 1980s, Exxon shut down its internal climate research program and shifted to funding a network of advocacy groups, lobbying arms and think tanks whose sole purpose was to cloud public discourse and block action on the climate crisis. The five largest oil companies now spend about $197 million a year on ad campaigns claiming they care about the climate — all the while massively increasing their spending on oil and gas extraction.
Meanwhile, millions of Americans, especially poor, Black, Brown and Indigenous communities, already have to fight to drink clean water and breathe clean air as their communities are devastated by climate-fueled hurricanes, floods and fires. As of 2015, nearly 21 million people relied on community water systems that violated health-based quality standards.
Going by population, that's essentially 200 Flint, Michigans, happening all at once. If we continue on our current path, many more communities run the risk of becoming "sacrifice zones," where citizens are left to survive the toxic aftermath of industrial activity with little, if any, help from the entities responsible for creating it.
Climate denial and rampant pollution are not victimless crimes. Fossil fuel corporations must be held accountable and be forced to pay for the damage they've wrought.
If these solutions sound drastic to you, it's because they are. They have to be if we have any hope of keeping our planet habitable. The climate crisis is not a far-off apocalyptic nightmare — it is our present day.
Australia's bushfires wiped out a billion animals, California's fire season wreaks more havoc every year, and record-setting storms are tearing through our communities like never before.
Scientists tell us we have 10 years left to dramatically reduce emissions. We have no room for meek half-measures wrapped up inside giant handouts to the fossil fuel industry.
We deserve a world without fossil fuels. A world in which workers and communities thrive and our shared climate comes before industry profits. Working together, I know we can make it happen. We have no time to waste.
Robert Reich, is the Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as secretary of labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time magazine named him one of the 10 most effective cabinet secretaries of the the twentieth century. The author of many books, including the best-sellers Aftershock, The Work of Nations, Beyond Outrage and, Saving Capitalism. He is also a founding editor of The American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." Reich's newest book is "The Common Good." He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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