By Steve Horn
The huge bipartisan energy bill currently stalled in the Senate would fast-track exports of fracked gas, offer over a billion dollars in subsidies to "clean coal" efforts and make available hundreds of millions in tax dollars for a geoengineering pilot project.
Bipartisan Uptake, Industry Praise<p>The legislation has thus far received bipartisan support because it contains subsidies for renewable energy sources including <a href="https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/whats-in-the-senate-energy-bill-for-clean-energy-smart-grid-and-energy-storage" target="_blank">wind, solar</a>, and geothermal. It also creates federal financial incentives for creating energy-efficient buildings and boosts funding for energy storage. For that, it has garnered lobbying support from the likes of the <a href="https://acore.org/acore-statement-on-the-american-energy-innovation-act/" target="_blank">American Council on Renewable Energy</a>, the <a href="https://www.nature.org/en-us/newsroom/statement-supporting-senate-energy-bill/" target="_blank">Nature Conservancy</a>, and the <a href="https://www.edf.org/media/bipartisan-senate-innovation-package-takes-useful-steps-towards-smart-climate-policy" target="_blank">Environmental Defense Fund</a>.</p><p>Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called for support of the bill during March 2 remarks on the Senate floor.</p>
Dirty Details<p>Outside of the renewable energy, energy efficiency, and energy storage clauses, the energy bill contains provisions aiming to ease the way for exports of so-called<a href="https://www.desmogblog.com/2017/09/07/trump-small-scale-lng-exports-without-environmental-review" target="_blank"> "small scale" LNG export terminals</a>, which rely on slightly smaller tankers and keep the <span style="background-color: initial;">LNG</span> in liquid form instead of re-gasifying it.</p><p>The Senate bill also offers over $367.8 million in federal funding through 2024 to test out a geoengineering pilot project for a technique called <a href="http://www.geoengineeringmonitor.org/2018/05/direct-air-capture/" target="_blank">direct air capture</a>, which involves vacuuming carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Geoengineering is a proposal to use various technologies with goals of either removing greenhouse gases already emitted or reversing global warming. </p>
Bakken Petrochemical Hub<p>Senators have also introduced <a href="https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/2657/amendments?searchResultViewType=expanded&KWICView=false&pageSize=250" target="_blank">220 different amendments</a> to the bill, which include the one calling for a phase-out of hydrofluorocarbons from cooling and refrigeration devices. Three of the amendments, if passed, would greatly expand drilling in North Dakota's Bakken Shale basin.</p><p>Two of them received an introduction by U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), who <a href="http://v/" target="_blank">served as an energy policy aide</a> for President <a href="https://www.desmogblog.com/donald-trump" target="_blank">Donald Trump</a>'s 2016 presidential campaign. One of these amendments, <a href="https://www.kirkland.com/publications/kirkland-alert/2020/03/senate-energy-legislation" target="_blank">successfully inserted</a> into the bill, calls for the U.S. Department of Energy to do a "Bakken and Three Forks Natural Gas Liquids Report" to study the potential for a petrochemical storage hub in the Bakken. The other, titled "Bakken Energy for National Security," calls for the Energy Department to do a similar study with the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Treasury Department to "assess … the potential national and economic security impacts of building ethane and other natural-gas-liquids-related petrochemical infrastructure in the geographical vicinity of the Bakken."</p>
Energy.Senate.Gov<p>The third amendment, introduced by <span style="background-color: initial;">U.S.</span> Sen. John Hoeven (R-<span style="background-color: initial;">ND</span>), calls for expedited permitting for drilling on <span style="background-color: initial;">U.S.</span> public lands located within the Bakken. The provision is known as the Bureau of Land Management (<span style="background-color: initial;">BLM</span>) Spacing Act.</p>
Congress.gov<p>The North Dakota Pipeline Authority is <a href="https://news.prairiepublic.org/post/study-bakken-and-three-forks-natural-gas-liquids-approved" target="_blank">currently teaming up</a> with the University of North Dakota's Energy and Environmental Research Center to study the potential for a petrochemical hub in the region, as well. That study is set for release on May 1, the publication Prairie Public Broadcasting reported.</p><p>"The petrochemical industry is the number one consumer of those natural gas liquids," Justin Kringstad, Executive Director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority, <a href="https://news.prairiepublic.org/post/pipeline-authority-director-wants-study-chemical-make-natural-gas-liquids-over-time" target="_blank">told Prairie Public Broadcasting in October</a>. "As investors and companies look at North Dakota for opportunities, we need to have good, solid scientific data we can point to, and have a good understanding of this resource potential."</p><p>The oil and gas industry sees the <a href="https://www.desmogblog.com/fracking-plastics" target="_blank">growth of plastics manufacturing</a>, as well as <a href="https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/sites/default/files/rpt_1905_fracking-2019-web_2.pdf" target="_blank">exporting LNG and building gas power plants</a> in the U.S., as a profitable lifeline to continue fracking in places like the Bakken Shale and the Marcellus. For climate advocates, pointing to the threat of potent methane emissions from the supply chain, this presents a major problem. </p><p><span style="background-color: initial;">"</span>From petrochemical facilities to gas-fired power plants and liquefied natural gas export terminals, these new projects would commit America to another generation of dependence on fossil fuels," the advocacy group Food and Water Watch wrote in a <a href="https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/sites/default/files/rpt_1905_fracking-2019-web_2.pdf" target="_blank">March 2019 report</a>. "These projects aren't just associated with health and safety risks: if even a fraction of them come to fruition, they will condemn the planet to a future of climate chaos."</p>
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Kidney stones are hard deposits that form in the kidneys. They are produced when minerals and salts, most commonly calcium oxalate, crystallize in the kidneys, creating hard, crystal-like stones. If you've ever had a kidney stone, we're sure you won't want to repeat the experience!
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By Derrick Z. Jackson
All over America, protesters have taken to the streets to protest the police murders of African Americans George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville and the white vigilante lynching of African American Ahmed Aubrey in Brunswick, Georgia. Part of the news coverage has dwelled on the speculation that the protests will fuel a second wave of COVID-19. One infectious disease scientist, Trevor Bedford of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, made the rough calculation that the protests could ultimately lead to between 15,000 and 50,000 overall coronavirus infections and between 50 to 500 deaths.
Police Contribute to COVID-19 Risk<p>Those same masks worn by protesters were too often ripped off in agony as police around the nation chose to break up usually peaceful protests with tear gas and pepper spray. Researchers told National Public Radio that the gasping and violent coughing <a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/06/05/870144402/tear-gassing-protesters-during-an-infectious-outbreak-called-a-recipe-for-disast" target="_blank">can project the virus of an infected person many feet</a>. Many of those gasping people were then herded into packed vans and sent to crowded jails.</p><p>The Army has <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25003867/" target="_blank">found</a> that tear gas training exercises make soldiers more susceptible to acute respiratory illnesses, and the increased risk of COVID-19 spread triggered by using tear gas is so high that Duke University researcher Sven Eric Jordt <a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/06/05/870144402/tear-gassing-protesters-during-an-infectious-outbreak-called-a-recipe-for-disast" target="_blank">told</a> NPR, "Using it in the current situation with COVID-19 around is completely irresponsible."</p><p>The police also displayed more irresponsibility than the people they were supposed to control by often spurning face coverings for themselves and practicing no social distancing. Several New York City police officers <a href="https://nypost.com/2020/06/02/nypd-cops-ignore-directive-abandon-masks-during-protester-clashes/" target="_blank">told</a> the media that face coverings are too hot and difficult to breathe through while dealing with protesters. In Chattanooga, Tennessee, local and county policy said they did not wear face coverings because they hampered communication.</p><p>That did not wash with the Rev. Alaina Cobb of the Mercy Junction Justice and Peace Center. She <a href="https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/local/story/2020/jun/03/protesters-question-lack-masks/524488/" target="_blank">said to the Chattanooga Times Free Press,</a> "We see once again the significance of the police's disregard for the health, safety and even lives of those who they feign they are here to protect."</p><p>The police actions mirrored political disregard around the nation for health, safety, and lives—especially those of black and brown people. Governors in many states ignored pleas not to reopen so quickly from mayors of cities whose populations are significantly of color and hard hit by COVID-19.</p><p>One of the most dramatic dismissals of the damage and continuing risk of COVID-19 to black people came a month ago in Mississippi, where Governor Tate Reeves <a href="https://voxpopulisphere.com/2020/05/16/michelle-d-holmes-m-d-re-opening-america/" target="_blank">announced</a> an aggressive reopening of close-contact gyms, hair salons, and barbershops on the same day the state hit a <a href="https://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2020/05/08/watch-gov-reeves-coronavirus-crisis-mississippi/3095787001/" target="_blank">record high</a> in new cases. He could reopen with unspoken racial comfort as a white governor. Mississippi is 59 percent white, but <a href="https://www.apmresearchlab.org/covid/deaths-by-race" target="_blank">52 percent</a> of the state's COVID-19 deaths have been suffered by African Americans, who are more vulnerable to the disease through a combination of poor prior health, congested living conditions, and riskier essential jobs.</p><p>As my epidemiologist wife Michelle D. Holmes pointed out in her own <a href="https://voxpopulisphere.com/2020/05/16/michelle-d-holmes-m-d-re-opening-america/" target="_blank">commentary</a> in Vox Populi, Reeves justified reopening by claiming that the economic damage was becoming as "disastrous" as the virus. Vigorously objecting to this equating of money with life was Chokwe Antar Lumumba, mayor of Mississippi's heavily black capital of Jackson. He said, "It's a bad decision to freeze economic progress, but a worse one to sacrifice human lives."</p>
White Privilege Unmasked<p>The rush back to business by Reeves and so many governors who have pursued aggressive openings gives a new expression of white privilege in America. In striking photographs from all over the country, predominately white crowds are <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/social-distancing-strictures-fall-away-as-crowds-gather-to-party-and-protest/2020/05/30/42df4d9c-a2a6-11ea-81bb-c2f70f01034b_story.html" target="_blank">packed</a> shoulder to shoulder, with few face coverings, at <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/31/sports/ace-speedway-north-carolina-coronavirus.html" target="_blank">raceways</a>, at Lake of the <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/destinations/2020/06/06/lake-ozarks-covid-cases-community-undeterred-reopening/3156993001/" target="_blank">Ozarks</a>, West Coast and East Coast beaches, and at the <a href="https://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/2020/05/30/go-baby-go-crowds-converge-space-coast-spacex-launch/5279246002/" target="_blank">launch</a> of SpaceX.</p><p>These photos showcase a kind of jolly version of the angry, all-white, and supremacist-influenced anti-lockdown protests at state capitols. The images amount to an open declaration that the pursuit of white happiness is an unalienable, unalterable right. It offers up a perverted version of America the Beautiful, where alabaster crowds beam, undimmed by COVID-19 tears from black and brown communities.</p>
Shutting Up Every Scientist They Can<p>The nation's cheerleader for this version of happiness is President Trump, who has overtly shunned mask wearing and social distancing. His administration gave a royal welcome to the coronavirus by <a href="https://www.statnews.com/2020/05/17/the-art-of-the-pandemic-how-donald-trump-walked-the-u-s-into-the-covid-19-era/" target="_blank">shuttering</a> most of the pandemic-warning apparatus built up by prior administrations. Now the White House is helping to assure a second wave by <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/white-house-tensions-with-cdc-spill-into-public-view-as-top-trump-adviser-criticizes-agency-response/2020/05/17/a4917896-9854-11ea-a282-386f56d579e6_story.html" target="_blank">shutting up</a> every scientist they can.</p><p>Chief among the silenced has been whistleblower Rick Bright, who <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/05/us/politics/rick-bright-coronavirus-whistleblower.html" target="_blank">said</a> he was removed from a top post combatting infectious threats because he told the administration it was <a href="https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/key-moments-from-hhs-whistleblower-rick-brights-testimony-on-coronavirus-response" target="_blank">moving</a> too slowly to stem the spread of the coronavirus. He warned a House hearing last month that, without a coordinated national response based in science, "the pandemic will get far worse."</p><p>It appears that the silencing of science is also now muting one of the few voices America could count on for sane public health advice during the now-evaporated coronavirus task force press briefings in which Trump ranted about dubious virus remedies, personally attacked reporters, and self-congratulated himself on closing borders despite the dead. CNN <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/01/politics/fauci-trump-two-weeks/index.html" target="_blank">reported</a> on June 1 that infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said he had not talked with Trump since May 18. In a June 1 <a href="https://www.statnews.com/2020/06/01/anthony-fauci-on-covid-19-reopenings-vaccines-and-moving-at-warp-speed/" target="_blank">interview</a> with STAT News, Fauci expanded on this, saying:</p><p>"We used to have task force meetings every single day, including Saturday and Sunday, and about 75 percent of the time after the task force meeting, we'd meet with the president. So, I was meeting with him four times a week back, a month or so ago. But as you probably noticed, the task force meetings have not occurred as often lately. And certainly, my meetings with the president have been dramatically decreased."</p>
COVID-19 Cases Increasing in Nearly Half of All States<p>In the absence of federal leadership, not to mention science-based leadership, we find ourselves in the midst of a 50-state experiment, weaving a clashing quilt of regulations and timing in <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/states-reopen-map-coronavirus.html" target="_blank">opening up</a> shopping malls, restaurants, barbershops, beauty parlors, gyms, churches, and childcare facilities.</p><p>Universities—responsible for <a href="https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=372#College_enrollment" target="_blank">20 million</a> young adults—are releasing their plans for fall re-openings that <a href="https://www.marketplace.org/2020/05/20/covid-19-college-campuses-reopening-online-classes/" target="_blank">display no consistency</a>, ranging from the Harvard School of Public Health and the California State University System remaining online to aggressive plans for in-person classes at schools such as Notre Dame and Purdue. Top college football teams are opening facilities, AMC Theaters says it will <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/09/business/coronavirus-amc-movie-theaters-reopening.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage" target="_blank">reopen</a> its cineplexes in July. The National Basketball Association, which jumpstarted the closure of mass events in mid-March by suspending the season, says it plans to resume its season at the end of July.</p><p>And on what public health evidence? Not much. Consider that:</p><ul><li>According to the June 11 <em>New York Times</em> <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html" target="_blank">coronavirus map</a>, coronavirus cases are increasing in 20 states and Puerto Rico, based on 14-day trajectories;</li><li>According to the June 11 Johns Hopkins <a href="https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/new-cases-50-states" target="_blank">coronavirus map,</a> 21 states and Puerto Rico were seeing an increase, based on a three-day rolling average.</li><li>A June 8 <em>Washington Post</em> <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/06/08/14-states-puerto-rico-hit-their-highest-seven-day-average-new-covid-19-infections-since-june/" target="_blank">analysis</a> found that 14 states and Puerto Rico saw their highest-ever seven-day average of new cases in the pandemic. The states were: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Mississippi, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah;</li><li>According to the June 10 version of The Atlantic's COVID-19 <a href="https://www.covidexitstrategy.org/" target="_blank">Tracking Project</a>, states "trending poorly" toward safe reopenings outnumber those "trending better" by a 3-to-1 margin. Only six states were trending better while 20 were trending poorly. The other states and the District of Columbia were in a muddled middle, making progress in decreasing infections, but still raising concern given their limited intensive care units and low testing levels;</li><li>And Columbia University infectious disease specialist Wafaa El-Sadr <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/california-and-some-other-states-see-coronavirus-cases-rise-11591540411" target="_blank">noted</a> to the Wall Street Journal that the national average of cases, which seem to be on a gradual downward trend, might be a dangerous illusion created by the few states that were hit hard early but since have made major progress in curbing COVID-19. "If you take out the impact of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and so on, you'd have a much more worrisome picture of what's happening in the U.S.," El-Sadr said.</li></ul><p>No matter which tracking map you look at, the list of states most poorly controlling the virus are dominated by those which have aggressively relaxed COVID health protections and been most supportive of the Trump administration's drive to get back to business regardless of safety. In the <em>Atlantic</em> map, not a single Southern or Southwestern state shows a decreasing trend in the spread of disease. It is equally scary that the largest blue state in the country, California, is seeing new outbreaks as it begins to lift restrictions after being one of the first states to shut down.</p><p>Now that every state has reopened in some way, there are new outbreaks from California to the Jersey Shore and from Utah to Florida from <a href="https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article243400791.html" target="_blank">family gatherings</a>, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/08/us/jersey-shore-coronavirus-trnd/index.html" target="_blank">beach vacations</a>, <a href="https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/local/2020/06/09/coronavirus-kentucky-17-clays-mill-baptist-church-members-infected/3164299001/" target="_blank">churches</a>, people going back to <a href="https://www.deseret.com/utah/2020/6/8/21284039/utahs-recent-spike-in-covid-19-cases-inevitable-but-no-cause-for-panic-epidemiologist-says" target="_blank">workplaces</a>, resumption of college <a href="https://www.kcra.com/article/more-universities-report-coronavirus-cases-in-athletics-programs-1/32793704" target="_blank">sports practices, </a>and factory food processing. In the purple swing state of North Carolina, state health secretary Mandy Cohen <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/coronavirus-latest-news-06-08-2020-11591604366" target="_blank">told</a> the Wall Street Journal on June 8: "These trends moving in the wrong direction are a signal we need to take very seriously."</p>
A Texas-Sized Problem<p>Even though there is plenty of emerging evidence that new outbreaks are spreading out into whiter parts of America, you would not know that from governors such as Greg Abbott of Texas.</p><p>Like other governors of states in which COVID-19 deaths of people of color outnumber those of white residents, Abbott is reopening Texas as though he can gerrymander the boundaries of the virus to protect privileged communities. We know that social distancing and face coverings offer the best tools we have to prevent the spread of the coronavirus without a vaccine. Despite how badly the White House botched the beginning of the pandemic, a <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2404-8_reference.pdf" target="_blank">study</a> released June 8 in the journal <em>Nature</em> found that state lockdowns still <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/06/08/shutdowns-prevented-60-million-coronavirus-infections-us-study-finds/" target="_blank">averted</a> some 60 million infections.</p><p>Nonetheless, despite Texas seeing a 53 percent increase in its rolling 14-day average number of virus cases as of June 10, Abbott <a href="https://dailytimes.com/promotions/article_69e42a14-a668-11ea-b60b-2be4980fc413.html" target="_blank">has announced</a> plans to allow Fourth of July celebrations, to let <a href="https://www.dallasnews.com/sports/cowboys/2020/06/03/gov-greg-abbott-says-professional-collegiate-stadiums-in-texas-can-operate-at-50-capacity/" target="_blank">sports stadiums</a> and retailers operate at 50 percent capacity, and to let restaurants serve meals at 75 percent capacity.</p><p>Abbott was quite clear in his statements that he has not taken in any of the science about <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/02/opinion/coronavirus-superspreaders.html?campaign_id=9&emc=edit_nn_20200611&instance_id=19296&nl=the-morning&regi_id=61941902&segment_id=30654&te=1&user_id=4f40d98c4eef63a91e3d367c28db532b" target="_blank">potential superspreading of the virus from large gatherings</a>. He also seems to take perverse comfort in his reopening based on his perception of where the virus hits hardest, citing jails, nursing homes, and meatpacking plants.</p><p>The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting <a href="https://investigatemidwest.org/2020/04/16/tracking-covid-19s-impact-on-meatpacking-workers-and-industry/" target="_blank">says</a> that as of June 9, at least 24,000 meatpacking workers and family members have been infected with COIVD-19, with at least 86 worker deaths. "We have the ability to contain those hot spots while opening up Texas for business," <a href="https://dailytimes.com/promotions/article_69e42a14-a668-11ea-b60b-2be4980fc413.html" target="_blank">Abbott said.</a> Translated, Abbott's statement amounts to a plan to contain the virus to communities that are disproportionally made up of people of color. While he didn't bother to say it, the fact is that inmates, meatpackers, and nursing home <a href="https://healthworkforce.ucsf.edu/sites/healthworkforce.ucsf.edu/files/REPORT-2018.HWRC_diversity_.4-18.pdf" target="_blank">staff</a> all tend to be disproportionately black and brown.</p>
Failing to Prioritize Justice and Public Health<p>The major question now is what will come of an America that is smoldering in the photographed displays of white privilege, the pillaging of science by the Trump administration, and an uprising of black grievance.</p><p>The uprisings started with police killings but have also reminded us that racism itself is a fatal virus that has been with us far longer than COVID-19. Back in 2005, former Surgeon General David Satcher <a href="https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/pdf/10.1377/hlthaff.24.2.459" target="_blank">estimated</a> that 83,500 black lives a year could be saved by eliminating health disparities. In the COVID-19 crisis, the APM Research Lab <a href="https://www.apmresearchlab.org/covid/deaths-by-race" target="_blank">estimates </a>that at least 14,400 African Americans would still be alive if they died from the virus at the same rate as white Americans.</p><p>One source of those disparities—one tied to the COVID-19 crisis—is <a href="https://prospect.org/greennewdeal/toxic-injustices-little-village-chicago/" target="_blank">environmental injustice</a>. Even as protesters marched in the streets, President Trump signed an <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/eo-accelerating-nations-economic-recovery-covid-19-emergency-expediting-infrastructure-investments-activities/" target="_blank">executive order</a> last week waiving environmental reviews for fossil fuel facilities and pipelines, mining, and other toxic industries. People of color <a href="https://prospect.org/greennewdeal/toxic-injustices-little-village-chicago/" target="_blank">live disproportionately</a> close to lung-penetrating particles and poisonous fumes from industrial plants, increasing their vulnerability to the worst effects of COVID-19.</p><p>At a June 9 House hearing, Mustafa Santiago Ali, vice president of environmental justice at the National Wildlife Federation and former senior adviser for environmental justice at the Environmental Protection Agency, tied the protests and environmental justice together. According to The Hill, he <a href="https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/501894-in-trump-response-to-coronavirus-lawmakers-and-activists-see" target="_blank">said,</a> "Black communities are dealing with the systemic racism that has infected the policing in our communities that is literally choking us to death. The rolling back of environmental rules and regulations has us gasping for air due to the cumulative public health impacts from the burning of fossil fuels," he <a href="https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/501894-in-trump-response-to-coronavirus-lawmakers-and-activists-see" target="_blank">said,</a> according to The Hill. "When we say, 'I Can't Breathe,' we literally can't breathe."</p>
The Looming Second Wave<p>A lot more people will not be breathing if we get a second wave of disease anything like the fall resurgence of the 1918 flu <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1918-commemoration/three-waves.htm" target="_blank">pandemic</a>, which killed most of the 675,000 Americans who perished from the virus. If we do, this country will have no one to blame but itself. The widespread abandonment of state lockdowns began a month ago even though just one-quarter of all states were <a href="https://blog.ucsusa.org/derrick-jackson/the-push-to-relax-covid-19-protections-exposes-age-old-racial-wounds" target="_blank">reporting</a> a decline in COVID-19 caseloads and even fewer had robust virus testing programs in place.</p><p>The US reopenings are proceeding even though the Imperial College of London has found "little evidence that the epidemic is under control in the majority of states." They are proceeding even though Harvard University global health expert Ashish Jha <a href="https://www.npr.org/2020/06/10/873624522/as-cities-hit-hardest-by-covid-19-reopen-red-flags-emerge-in-other-areas" target="_blank">told</a> National Public Radio on June 10, "It's stunning to me that we have just decided it's OK for tens of thousands of Americans to die. And we aren't going to do what we know we can do to prevent those deaths. And that is, to me, unconscionable."</p><p>They are proceeding even though Irwin Redlener, director of Columbia University's National Center for Disaster Preparedness, recently <a href="https://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/watch/dr-redlener-disaster-for-states-to-reopen-without-enough-testing-83884613632" target="_blank">told</a> MSNBC that without strong testing and tracing, it is a "disaster for the country to have these various states opening. We should be reconsidering this right now. If it was up to me, I'd put a halt to this reopening."</p><p>That makes it ludicrous to spend a whole lot of time speculating about the spread of COVID-19 from protesters. The far greater concern is the rampage on science and public health now underway by governors and the White House.</p><p>To effectively combat the pandemic, we need a just response guided by science and accurate data. But in this terrible moment when Americans have taken to the streets in droves because a police officer put a fatal knee to the neck of a black man, tens of thousands more Americans now risk of dying because the states and the White House have applied a figurative knee to the neck of our public health.</p>
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An examination of monitoring data available for the first time concludes that 91 percent of U.S. coal-fired power plants with monitoring data are contaminating groundwater with unsafe levels of toxic pollutants.
The study by the Environmental Integrity Project, with assistance from Earthjustice, used industry data that became available to the public for the first time in 2018 because of requirements in federal coal ash regulations issued in 2015.
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Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge and second in line to the throne, announced today a multimillion-dollar prize to encourage the world's greatest problem solvers to tackle the climate crisis, as Reuters reported.
The newly announced Earthshot Prize, which bills itself as "a decade of action to repair the Earth," has been planned for the last year, according to a statement from Kensington Palace. The prize will be given to five winners a year for the next 10 years starting in 2021 with the goal of funding 50 creative and achievable solutions to the world's greatest threat by 2030, as CNN reported.
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By Lora Shinn
Sex. Drugs. Global extinction. When difficult subjects come up, it's not easy being a parent — especially when that subject is climate change.
Introducing the Concepts to Young Children (Ages 0–6)<p><strong>Inspire environmental wonder in little ones.</strong></p><p>Since younger children won't easily understand concepts such as <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/greenhouse-effect-101" target="_blank">greenhouse gases</a> and <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/what-you-need-know-about-ocean-acidification" target="_blank">ocean acidification</a>, start out with a more straightforward message: Living things grow and thrive when we care for them. Children learn through doing, so try planting seeds or caring for animals as a way to <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/how-raise-environmentalist" target="_blank">raise young environmentalists</a>.</p><p>Noticing, appreciating and celebrating the seasons builds a good foundation for understanding climate change, suggests Ronnie Citron-Fink, a former schoolteacher and now the editorial director of <a href="https://www.momscleanairforce.org/" target="_blank">Moms Clean Air Force</a>. On hikes, note how leaves fall from trees in autumn, then sprout again in spring. Point out migrating birds or butterflies that come and go with the seasons.</p><p><strong>Recognize small actions demonstrating respect for the planet.</strong></p><p>In the short- and long-term, it's beneficial to instill the idea of cleanup responsibility. "It's thinking about the impact you have — if you make a mess where plants and animals live, it can hurt them, and if you clean up, it helps them," Greenspun said. Additionally, though the idea of "sharing" can be challenging for people of any age, young children should be encouraged to share Earth's space with other living things.</p><p>Likewise, praise kids when they take initiative. That could be as simple as saying "Thank you for turning off the lights, that's helping the planet." Many of us forget to take this step, said Robin Gurwitch, a professor and clinical psychologist at Duke University Medical Center and the Center for Child and Family Health. "When people most important to us notice our actions," she said, "we're more likely to do again and carry it forward."</p><p><strong>Keep their faith in humanity alive (it might help restore yours, too).</strong></p><p>"For most children under age 5 or 6, the world is a good place, with people taking care of it," said Mary DeMocker, author of <em>The Parents' Guide to Climate Revolution: 100 Ways to Build a Fossil-Free Future, Raise Empowered Kids, and Still Get a Good Night's Sleep</em>. Remind kids that so many grownups care about kids' futures and about nature, and they are working to protect both. "They need to know the adults are in charge, and they've got this," DeMocker added.</p><p>In the same vein, avoid processing your own anxieties while talking to young kids, who easily pick up on our emotions. While important to be open about your climate change concerns, do it out of your kids' earshot, by talking with other parents or <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/resistance-your-backyard" target="_blank">banding together with fellow activists in your community</a>.</p>
Teaching the Basics to School-Age Kids (Ages 6–12)<p><strong>Explain the science, simply.</strong></p><p>First, gauge what your kids may already know. If they're familiar with the term <em>climate change</em>, ask them to tell you what they've heard about it. Kids sometimes overhear strange ideas, as we know from some of <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/trump-lies#sec-climate" target="_blank">the lies</a> circulated by climate change deniers in our own government. Acknowledge these false claims for what they are, explaining that some people care more about making money or hanging onto power than about the health of our planet. This may be a tough discussion, but it will help you recognize and validate the outrage that kids may feel at older generations.</p><p>Once you've dispelled the myths, you can explain the more abstract idea of climate change by using the blanket analogy. Gurwitch suggests describing it this way: "Our world is protected by a layer surrounding the Earth, like a blanket that keeps it at just the right temperature. With global warming, there are more and more blankets being put around the Earth. We can't just toss them off. So we're figuring out how to change back to the right kind and number of blankets."</p><p><strong>Emphasize how we're trying to solve the problem.</strong></p><p>Pivot to the positive changes we're making immediately after discussing the challenges. "Children can be frightened if they don't know there are adults who care about climate change and are trying to fix problems," noted Greenspun. "It can help battle the sense of helplessness and powerlessness."</p><p>Let them know that there are, in fact, millions of adults who are working to protect kids, to answer our own questions about climate change, and to figure out the steps we will take to get to where we need to be, together.</p><p>DeMocker suggests offering kid-friendly examples of innovations and solutions, too, including <a href="http://www.pandagreen.com/show-342.html" target="_blank">Chinese solar farms designed in the shape of pandas</a> and <a href="https://www.playgroundenergy.com/" target="_blank">playgrounds that create energy</a>. Some of these solutions will be relatable to your child — like the <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/green-your-school" target="_blank">Turn It Off campaign</a> students have championed to decrease emissions produced by idling drivers, and the Meatless Mondays initiative <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/new-york-city-students-are-taking-climate-change-starting-lunchroom" target="_blank">sweeping school cafeterias</a> to lessen the climate impact of weekday lunches.</p><p><strong>Discuss the power of personal action.</strong></p><p>In grade school, children understand cause and effect, so it's a good time to talk about what kids can do to decrease carbon emissions, with your help. Maybe this is biking or carpooling to school, <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/how-shop-energy-efficient-light-bulbs" target="_blank">switching out incandescent light bulbs for energy-efficient LEDs</a>, or setting up <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/composting-way-easier-you-think" target="_blank">a home composting system</a>. One note of caution, though: Kids of all ages notice adult inconsistencies. If we talk about the importance of recycling but don't <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/reduce-reuse-recycle-most-all-reduce" target="_blank">cut single-use items out of our daily routine</a>, we may face some tough questions.</p>
Holding Open Discussions with Preteens (Ages 12–14)<p><strong>Encourage climate change questions — even if you can't always answer them.</strong></p><p>Tweens are driven by scientific curiosity, awareness, and a sense of civic responsibility. When they're seeking answers to big questions, you can embark with them on the hunt. Start teaching children about how to find trusted resources for climate science information — and what disinformation is out there. However, there's no need to follow every web link. "If we're not careful, the information can become overwhelming and swamp us," Gurwitch said, and can lead to a sense of futility or unrealistic expectations.</p><p><strong>Engage children's personal strengths in expressing their concerns.</strong></p><p>Maybe your middle-schooler loves polar bears or is worried about air pollution. Communicate that small acts to spread awareness can have ripple effects and encourage them to speak out. Some children feel comfortable <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/13-year-old-gives-us-hope-future" target="_blank">giving presentations to other kids</a>, others will prefer to work on poster campaigns and <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/landlocked-vienna-humpback-spreads-powerful-message" target="_blank">group art projects</a>, and others might perform <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/onearth/watch-these-young-spoken-word-poets-take-climate-change" target="_blank">spoken-word poetry</a>. Invite outgoing kids to join a rally with you. DeMocker, whose family lives in Eugene, Oregon, began attending climate protests with her children at this age, joining symbolic kayak blockades of the <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/onearth/bomb-train-derailment-sparked-resistance-columbia-river-gorge" target="_blank">Columbia River</a> to protest fossil fuel exports. "We modeled simple living, but also civic engagement," she said.</p>
Branching Out With Teens (Ages 15–18)<p><strong>Don't be afraid to let your teen educate <em>you </em>on climate change.</strong></p><p>After all, when it comes to climate change, your teen may be more aware of the latest research on fossil fuels and <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/green-your-college-dorm-room" target="_blank">lighting alternatives</a> than you are."We can all learn from our children and listen to them," Greenspun said. Many of us might react defensively, due to guilt or frustration over not doing more. "We all need to have the humility to step back and look at parts of ourselves we don't necessarily like to look at," she said.</p><p>So if your vegetarian teen confronts you over burgers, ask questions and reflect back their thoughts: How did you decide to become a vegetarian? How do you feel to live in a family with meat-eaters? Can you think of some solutions or compromises?</p><p><strong>Share news articles with your teens about their peers making a difference.</strong></p><p>The Youth Climate Movement is flourishing, and there are many inspiring examples you can point to spotlighting young people <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/onearth/friday-school-out-and-climate-strike" target="_blank">standing up for their generation's future</a>. "It's empowering for teens to see that the government and people are taking them seriously," said Citron-Fink. "It shows them that their voices matter."</p><p>This will also help encourage teens to channel climate outrage and worry into action and to focus on the things they can have control over. That's important for their mental health, since as Greenspun pointed out, "Obsessing over all the things we don't know and can't do anything about often contributes to stress and anxiety."</p><p><strong>Discuss coping strategies — what to do when you feel scared, angry, and overwhelmed.</strong></p><p>It might be a breathing practice, talking to a friend or grandparent, or going for a walk. "Review with kids what they've found helpful in the past, when they've gone through something hard," Greenspun said.</p><p>On the other hand, some teens might act as if they don't care about climate change. "There might need to be a little more digging to find out what that's really about," Greenspun said. "Underneath the bravado of not caring, there's often a lot of fear and sadness."</p><p>It's also important to focus on the good news: If humans are to blame for getting into this crisis, humans can also get us back on track. And the latest reports on climate change all emphasize that <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/our-land-key-solving-climate-crisis" target="_blank">we do have solutions in reach</a>. "Reassure kids that the scientists say we still have time to avoid the worst climate impacts," DeMocker said. "Scientists are telling us how to turn this around," she added — and many of us are listening.</p>
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The Lorax would not approve of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline—the controversial pipeline intended to carry fracked natural gas through 600 miles in Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina. That's the sentiment behind a ruling by a Virginia appeals court Thursday tossing out a U.S. Forest Service permit for the pipeline to cross 21 miles of national forest in Virginia, including a part of the Appalachian Trail, The News & Observer reported.
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The controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which will carry fracked natural gas along a 600 mile route through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, has been stalled yet again. This time, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers suspended a permit allowing the pipeline to cross streams, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.
As people in North and South Carolina continue to confront flooding and other massive damage from Hurricane Florence, it's heartbreaking to watch them have to deal with yet another hazard: the toxic coal ash leaked from coal ash ponds and landfills in the region. Even more infuriating is the denial coming from the company responsible for that pollution in the first place—Duke Energy in North Carolina.