An area of 3.2 million hectares (7.9 million acres) was engulfed by forest fires in remote regions of Russia on Monday. In comparison, the total surface of the nation of Belgium is 3.07 million hectares.
With fires raging for days, immense clouds of smoke reached large population centers, including Russia's third biggest city, Novosibirsk. Authorities declared emergencies in several regions.
"The smoke is horrible," pensioner Raisa Brovkina told state television after being hospitalized in Novosibirsk.
"I am choking and dizzy," she added.
No Money to Put out Fires
Siberia regularly faces immense wildfires, but the impact this year had been boosted by strong wind and unusually dry weather. The blazes have been allowed to spread as cash-strapped local authorities usually ignore fires in remote regions.
Talking to Siberian Times, an emergency pilot in Krasnoyarski Krai said he had spent days waiting to fly his firefighting plane, but received no order to do so.
"Every day the whole team and I are on duty. There are four aircraft," he said in an article published on Monday.
"Since the beginning of the fires, not a single specialized [plane] has been lifted into the air."
"They say it is expensive to extinguish and if part of the forest burns down — it is not scary," the unnamed pilot said.
Greenpeace Steps in
Separately, the region's officials said that cost of the firefighting effort is sometimes "ten times larger than the possible damage" caused by the fire.
But the pilot slammed the calculation as "absurd."
"Of course, now, probably it will be expensive to extinguish everything that burns," he said.
"But why was there no order to fly out earlier, when the fire had just begun to spread?"
The Russian charter of Greenpeace had launched a petition to force the government to move against wildfires in Siberia, which was signed by some 245,000 by Tuesday evening.
Burning in the Sun
The wildfires "have long stopped being a local problem" and have "transformed into an ecological disaster with consequences for the entire country," Greenpeace said.
Greenpeace expert Grigory Kuksin said the soot and ashes accelerate the melting of the Arctic ice and permafrost, which in turns releases even more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
"It is comparable to the emissions of major cities," he told the AFP news agency. "The more fires affect the climate, the more conditions are created for new dangerous fires."
The group said almost 12 million hectares have already burned this year, destroying forests that absorb carbon dioxide.
Siberia was almost 10 degrees Celsius (18 Fahrenheit) warmer than the long-term average in June, according to the World Meteorological Organization.
Reposted with permission from our media associate DW.
- The Vicious Climate-Wildfire Cycle - EcoWatch ›
- The Arctic Is Burning: Wildfires Rage from Sweden to Alaska ... ›
Beverage behemoths Coca-Cola and Pepsico have taken a stand against a trade association that actively works to restrict plastic bag bans. The two soft drink giants have announced that they will leave the Plastics Industry Association as a response to concerns that their membership in the group contradicted their commitment to reducing plastic waste and packaging, as Newsweek reported.
The exit from the trade group follows pressure from Greenpeace, which has urged all companies to reduce their plastic use. Last year, Greenpeace named Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestle as the world's biggest producers of plastic trash, according to CNBC.
The Plastics Industry Association has spent millions in state legislatures fighting plastic bag bans and working to draft preemptive restrictions on plastic bag bans so local municipalities are not allowed to implement their own bans on plastics, as the Intercept reported.
"We withdrew earlier this year as a result of positions the organization was taking that were not fully consistent with our commitments and goals," said a Coca-Cola spokesperson to CNBC.
A PepsiCo spokesperson claimed that the company initially joined the Plastics Industry Association to learn about material innovation, but will terminate its membership after 2019.
"We do not participate in the policy advocacy work of the association or its subsidiaries, and our membership will conclude at the end of this year," a PepsiCo spokeswoman said, as MarketWatch reported.
Greenpeace praised the move as a positive step towards sustainability.
"Companies understand that they cannot publicly say they want to end plastic pollution, while financially supporting an association that lobbies for our continued reliance on throwaway plastics," said John Hocevar, Greenpeace USA Oceans Campaign Director, in a statement, as Newsweek reported. "This is a victory for every person that spoke up and asked Coca-Cola and PepsiCo to put their money where their mouths are and tell the Plastics Industry Association to stop preventing plastic reduction efforts."
Both drink manufacturers have committed to reduce plastic waste and to help improve the U.S. recycling system, which is currently incinerating plastic that developing countries will no longer accept. Coca-Cola's and PepsiCo's decisions to exit the lobbying group also stem from its need to appeal to young consumers who will become lifelong customers. Millennials are especially concerned with how eco-friendly a product is, according to a survey by market intelligence firm Nielsen and reported by MarketWatch, which found 73 percent of millennials would pay more for sustainable products.
However, both companies have fought vigorously against bottle bills, which would expand the number of states required to charge a deposit for drinks in bottles, as The New York Times reported. Research shows that bottle deposits dramatically increase the number of bottles and cans headed for the recycling plant rather than the landfill.
Coca-Cola has pledged to package its products in fully recyclable, reusable or compostable containers by 2025. Similarly, Pepsico plans to make its products in recyclable, compostable or biodegradable packaging by 2025, according to CNBC.
The exit from the Plastics Industry Association follows other companies like Clorox, medical device manufacturer Becton Dickinson, and hygiene and cleaning tech company Ecolab — all of which opposed the trade group's ethics and ended membership last year, as CNBC reported.
Yet, the Plastics Industry Association remains flush with cash, since it represents plastic manufacturers including Shell Polymers, LyondellBasell, Exxon Mobil, Chevron Phillips, DowDuPont and Novolex — all of which reap huge profits from plastics production, according to the Intercept.
These multi-billion dollar companies have the resources to use sustainable packaging for their products but they'd rather use single-use plastic to protect their profits. 💰 < 🌎#breakfreefromplastic https://t.co/Y3to1dJcOe— The Story of Stuff Project (@storyofstuff) October 11, 2018
- World's Biggest Plastic Polluters Pledge to Cut Waste by 2025 ... ›
- Coca-Cola Produced More Than 110 Billion Plastic Bottles Last Year ›
- How Coca-Cola and Climate Change Created a Public Health Crisis ... ›
- Plastic Bottle Made From Plants Degrades in Just One Year - EcoWatch ›
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.
The order, issued by the new acting head of the state's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) Jason Marshall, also said the fossil fuel company had not done enough to stop the spills that had begun May 10. The order came a day after California Gov. Gavin Newsom fired former DOGGR head Ken Harris after a significant rise in fracking permits.
"The Chevron spill clearly shows that California needs stronger climate leadership from the governor," Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard said in a statement reported by KQED. "Oil and gas infrastructure will never be free from spills and leaks or from spewing climate pollution. We face a growing public health crisis and climate emergency stoked by rampant oil and gas development."
DOGGR had initially issued Chevron with an order of violation and ordered it to stop some extraction in the area. Friday's order upped the ante by mandating the company completely stop the releases and take steps to prevent future ones.
"Chevron takes these matters seriously," the company said in a statement Saturday. "We will review the order and continue working in a collaborative manner with the involved agencies."
However, while the spill is larger than both the 2015 spill that dumped 140,000 gallons of crude oil onto Refugio State Beach and the 2007 spill of 54,000 gallons of oil into San Francisco Bay, it has been less devastating since it was not near an active waterway and has not significantly impacted wildlife, both company and state officials said.
Chevron spokeswoman Veronica Flores-Paniagua told The Associated Press that the flow had stopped since its last release on Tuesday. It occurred in an area where the company uses steam to extract oil from the Cymric Oil Field, which is about 35 miles west of Bakersfield. The steam helps the crude oil flow more readily.
The company estimated that around 70 percent of the seepage was water, leaving 240,000 gallons of oil. Regulators put that figure slightly higher at around 265,000 gallons of oil, KQED reported.
The seepage first occurred May 10, stopped, then started again on June 8 and June 23.
Department of Conservation spokesperson Teresa Schilling confirmed Saturday that the flow was contained.
- Chevron Refinery Dumps Oil Into San Francisco Bay - EcoWatch ›
- Gavin Newsom Sued for 'Completely Unacceptable' Approval of Oil and Gas Projects in California - EcoWatch ›
By Willie Mackenzie
When it comes to being otherworldly, alien and bizarre, the ocean has plenty to fuel the imagination and make your jaw drop: giant scuttling bugs, jelly-like blobfish, slimy mucus-drenched hagfish, hairy armed lobsters and almost anything else you could imagine.
It's no big surprise that Hollywood science fiction films so often look to the deep for their monsters, landscapes and mystery. After all, the deep ocean is more alien to us than the surface of the moon.
But bizarrely, some scientists think the ocean floor might well be the very place where life on our planet first evolved.
The spiral tube worm, or Sabella Spallanzanii, lives in membranous tubes, often reinforced by the inclusion of mud particles and has a feathery, filter-feeding crown that can be quickly withdrawn into the tube when danger threatens.
Gavin Newman / Greenpeace
Discovery of Hydrothermal Vents
One of the hottest candidates for creating the right conditions are deep sea "hydrothermal" vents, where super-heated water and chemicals meet. These vents exist far below the reach of sunlight, in an area devoid of any oxygen. They're created at the places where giant tectonic plates meet, by the heat from the inner Earth pushing through the crust of the planet.
Hydrothermal vents were only discovered in 1977 – and astonished scientists with their towering chimneys and bizarre animals discovered around them. Giant tube worms, bacteria-eating crabs and other surreal creatures somehow thriving at great depths, clustered around columns billowing out "smoking" superheated, mineral-rich seawater.
This discovery challenged what people thought about life on Earth, and even more so when "alkaline" versions were discovered in 2000. Caustic conditions, similar to weak bleach, or bicarbonate of soda, seemed even more unlikely to support life. Yet they did.
The Lost City: The Real Primordial Soup?
The Lost City is the best known of these hydrothermal vents — a collection of turrets, towers and chimneys that could be as much as 120,000 years old.
Research shows that these vents are creating hydrocarbons — molecules that are essential for all life on Earth. Could it be that churning chemicals and minerals in superheated seawater in places like the Lost City were actually where life started? Is this the real primordial soup?
The honest answer is — we still don't know. In the last couple of decades, scientists have struggled to survey and understand the mysteries of the Lost City.
But as research continues to try and answer these questions, the seabed has attracted attention from industry keen to exploit the minerals and metals down there too.
Hydrothermal vents at Dom João De Castro.
Greenpeace / Gavin Newman
Monster Machines at the Ready
We don't know very much about the deep sea, and we know even less about remote, inhospitable deep sea vents. Though they exist in extreme chemical and physical conditions, they seem to be very fragile and precarious.
Yet even before scientists have started to scratch the surface of understanding these remarkable environments, they are at risk of being damaged or destroyed forever by industries keen to mine minerals from the deep sea.
Licenses have already been granted to explore for mining the seafloor with monster machines — which risk wrecking these places before they are even understood.
Underwater footage of seamounts in the Azores, Princess Alice Banks.
A Wake-Up Call
The rush to exploit the deep ocean, before we even understand it, has to be a wake-up call.
It's not as if the public is clamoring for the seafloor to be ripped up for us to get a new gadget (especially when companies can't even get their act together to reclaim and recycle the materials we already have!). Not only are we threatening unique marine life, but we might destroy these places forever.
That's why Greenpeace's Pole to Pole expedition is sailing to the Lost City this summer with the scientist who discovered this wonder of the deep ocean, to learn more about its mysteries and make the case for protection, rather than exploitation.
Did life on Earth begin in the cauldron of chemical soup around deep sea hydrothermal vents? I don't know. But I do know that we're already harming enough species and habitats, and we have no justifiable reason to trash the fragile deep sea and all the wonderfully weird marine life that makes its home there.
The Esperanza arriving to the Azores for the Lost City Leg of the Pole to Pole Ship Tour.
Barbara Sanchez Palomero / Greenpeace
Willie Mackenzie is an Oceans Campaigner with Greenpeace International.
By Paula Tejón Carbajal
Working in climate and environment, you hear this question a lot. On one hand, environmental groups — including Greenpeace — will tell you that every action you take can make a difference. Every action counts! On the other, editorials and experts will tell you that it doesn't matter what you do in your everyday life, because the problem can't be solved by individual action. They may claim that its a cop out and lets corporations off the hook, because the problem lies with the broken but deeply entrenched system we're caught in. After all, 70 percent of emissions are created by 100 companies, right?
As this Vox piece laid out so well, as a climate campaigner, my friends also used to proudly tell me how much they recycle, or about their efforts to eat less meat or buy green products whenever they could afford them. It always broke my heart to tell them: sure… but to have a real impact you need to refuse and reduce first, join a climate strike, or become a politically active citizen who demands the mayor in your city launches an ambitious mobility plan or the government in your country starts holding corporations accountable.
After one of my lectures, which were typically technical and lengthy, their facial expressions had usually changed dramatically. Their body language said it all; and then, silence. Or worse — the defensive response: I do what I can. You know? Or the powerless version: Even if I do that, others probably don't, so what difference does it make? Or the most defeated and most painful one to hear: Well, who cares? We are all screwed anyway, right?
I wanted my friends and family to keep speaking to me, so I started to explore new ways to have conversations with them about climate change and the environmental crisis while being mindful with their emotions (and mine!). Because, the truth is, we need both individual and collective action. And we need them now!
Yes, some have argued that small positive changes in our lifestyles can be a distraction, and even hold back the drive for and uptake of ambitious policies, as we de-prioritize a collective check on corporate and political power. But I believe it isn't a matter of either, or. It's both — AND. Individual and collective actions go hand-in-hand. They are intimately interlinked.
Recycle. Yes, and refuse, reduce and ask big brands to change their business and distribution models. Bike to work. Yes, and work with your neighbors to get your mayor to declare climate emergency and create a plan to increase bike lines and public transport in your city. Change your light bulbs. Yes, and advocate with your community for the uptake of renewable energy to transform the energy system in your region. Eat less meat. Yes, and work with your kids' school to include vegetarian meals in their menus or introduce how to grow their own food in their curriculums. Plant trees. Yes, and demand your government to protect our forests and adopt bold climate policies.
It's true that to tackle the ecological and climate crisis straight on, systemic change is a must; a matter of survival.
We do need to shift societal mindsets from "only the free market and extractive models can spark happiness by creating economic growth" and "having more stuff makes me happy," to "the economy must work within the environmental limits of the planet" and "self-worth is linked to our relationships and experiences, not buying more stuff."
We do need collective action to drive the system change we want to see.
But we can push those shifts forward by encouraging positive stories, co-creating solutions that shape the new normal, and working towards an environment with role models and reward systems that mirror these behaviors as socially desirable.
For this systemic change to happen, we need society to acknowledge the magnitude of these shifts and we need to start somewhere. And that somewhere can start with each of us.
No, individual actions won't have an immediate impact on world problems. Using a tote bag or buying fruit that isn't repacked in foam isn't going to stop the production of single-use plastic at the scale required. But it could make a difference to your local city or community as a first step, because personal positive actions have the potential to empower people, build agency, encourage role models that inspire others and make them feel they are part of the solution.
Small signals can spark hope and search for others to build communities that take action. When the community takes action, it becomes more resilient, therefore more independent and sufficient.
Rosa Park or Greta Thunberg were and are both ordinary people who did and are still doing extraordinary things … and as a consequence, they changed (and still are changing) the world, creating a new normal that was unthinkable before they took that first brave step.
Not every single-handed action you take will result in a civil rights movement or stop an oil rig in its tracks. But it might change someone's mind around a dinner table, or at a board table, or wherever it is you choose to take your courageous step. Courage means different things to different people, because it happens at the edge of our own personal comfort zone. Each individual's courage is different — but equally valid and equally bold.
Personal actions are a courageous and valuable starting point, let's not shame people for doing what they can, or make people feel guilty for not doing enough.
But equally let's make sure we don't stop there. From student to CEO, let's make sure those entry points enable as many people as possible to join a meaningful collective journey where the scale of our acts is proportionate to the scale of our responsibilities and our possibilities.
Let's be optimistic, courageous and honest with ourselves. Let's acknowledge the urgent need to change our current socio economic system. And yes, that includes the way we think, behave and live, which means we need the small and the big actions, and anything and everything in-between.
Paula Tejón Carbajal is a Global Campaign Strategist for Greenpeace International.
By Eon Higgins
Its official name is the "Akademik Lomonosov," but critics call it a "floating Chernobyl."
Whichever title you prefer, the floating barge nuclear plant is heading across the Arctic Circle. A project of the Russian government, the plant is headed to the far eastern town of Pevek on Russia's Arctic north coast to provide power to energy projects in the North Pole.
According to CNN:
The Admiral Lomonosov will be the northernmost operating nuclear plant in the world, and it's key to plans to develop the region economically. About 2 million Russians reside near the Arctic coast in villages and towns similar to Pevek, settlements that are often reachable only by plane or ship, if the weather permits. But they generate as much as 20 percent of country's GDP and are key for Russian plans to tap into the hidden Arctic riches of oil and gas as Siberian reserves diminish.
The Lomonosov has been the target of criticism from Greenpeace for years. The environmental group first coined the name "Chernobyl on ice."
But the company behind Lomonosov, Rosatom, takes exception at comparing its barge plant to the famed site of the world's worse domestic nuclear disaster.
"It's totally not justified to compare these two projects," the Lomonosov's chief engineer for environmental protection, Vladimir Iriminku, told CNN. "These are baseless claims, just the way the reactors themselves operate work is different."
The barge's operators have learned from the disaster at Fukushima, Japan as well, they said.
"This rig can't be torn out of moorings, even with a 9-point tsunami, and we've even considered that if it does go inland, there is a backup system that can keep the reactor cooling for 24 hours without an electricity supply," said Lomonosov deputy director Dmitry Alekseenko.
Bellona, a nonprofit that observes nuclear projects and their environmental impacts, found in April that 24 hours could be insufficient time to avoid disaster if the rig was torn out of its moorings and landed somewhere where escape is difficult due to the polar environment.
In an interview with The Verge, Dale Klein, the former head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission under President George W. Bush, called the plant's nickname a "scare tactic." However, Klein acknowledged that the potential for disaster from the Lomonosov could be catastrophic if something were to go wrong.
"If there were a problem out in the middle of the ocean, you would probably never see it on land," said Klein. "Or, you might be able to measure it, but it would be such a minimal impact [on land] because the ocean is so big. But if you have this barge that's anchored providing electricity 24 hours, seven days a week, and you had a spill, then it could get into the environment locally onshore."
"And so," said Klein, "you'd have to make sure that that never happens."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
- Former U.S. Nuclear Safety Chief: 'New Nuclear Is off the Table ... ›
- World's 250,000-Ton Nuclear Waste Stockpiles a 'Global Crisis ... ›
By Jeremiah Lowery
The climate crisis is comprised of many issues, which require many solutions. Now is the time for presidential candidates to discuss all these issues facing U.S. citizens and our international community.
When I was growing up in the Washington, DC area, many members of my community struggled with not only unemployment, but also with our drinking water containing so much lead it caused Congress to open an investigation.
We had trouble with a myriad of other issues as well, from poor air quality (largely due to the industrial factories in the city) to finding adequate public transportation options to get to the grocery store.
To paraphrase the author and poet Audre Lorde, our collective struggles were not singularly focused, therefore we did not live single-issue lives.
A woman stands at the window of her home looking out at Shell refinery just a couple of yards away, in an area dubbed "Cancer Alley" in Louisiana.
This is the reason I am in the climate movement.
I believe that by building a broad and all-encompassing climate movement, we will be able to tackle many of the issues that members of my community faced.
Addressing our climate crisis means addressing our lack of good paying, sustainable jobs, it means children having clean water to drink, it means reliable public transportation run on renewable energy, and so many other solutions.
Which is why I was very disappointed to read that Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee, declined to hold a climate debate for the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates because he stated climate is a "single-issue" and debates should cover a broader range of issues besides just climate.
People ride in the back of military trucks as they are evacuated through the flooded streets of Houston after Hurricane Harvey caused record flooding in southeast Texas.
The issues faced by my community clearly show that our climate movement is not a single-issue movement. If you look at other parts of the country you will see communities are facing similar issues because their leaders have not fully grasped or embraced the solutions. Solutions which can be found within the climate movement.
Cities like Flint, Michigan are struggling with the issue of clean water. Yuma County, Arizona is struggling with the issue of high unemployment. Bakersfield, California is struggling with the issue of air pollution. And year after year, communities like those on the coast of Texas are destroyed by hurricanes and flooding.
A woman holds a jar of water from her well, which was contaminated after hydraulic fracturing drilling began near her Washington County farm.
Our climate movement also encompasses international issues as well. Our climate crisis will have a devastating effects on trade, cause massive famine in countries such as Sudan due to flooding of farmland, and overall causes global instability.
We need to know whether or not the next leader of the United States understands the potential that lies within our climate movement to solve many of the pressuring issues facing our world today.
Now is the time for Presidential candidates to discuss all these issues facing U.S. citizens and our international community.
And an effective platform through which citizens can learn about their candidates' foreign and domestic plans for all these issues is a climate debate.
Tom Perez needs to reconsider his position and the DNC needs to step up to the plate and host a climate debate, because the multiple issues within our climate crisis can no longer be pushed aside. These issues must be addressed if we care about the future stability of our nation.
The issues we are facing are great but our potential is greater. If you believe we need a climate debate now, for all the issues facing our communities, take action and demand it.
'This Is an Emergency. We Need the Democrats to Act Like It': Outrage as DNC Says It Won't Host a 2020 Debate on Climate Crisis https://t.co/oQ3MC3bH3h #2020election #Climatechange #Jayinslee pic.twitter.com/aPNXJ0jYur— Renewable Search (@RenewableSearch) June 6, 2019
- 4 Reasons Why We Need a Climate Debate - EcoWatch ›
- Youth-Led Petition Urges 2020 Democratic Candidates to Hold ... ›
Greenpeace Activists Stop BP Rig Bound for North Sea, Stalling Plan to Drill for 30 Million Barrels of Oil
By Julia Conley
Carrying enough provisions to last several days aboard the rig, the climate action advocates pulled up to the 27,000-ton vessel in small boats as it attempted to leave Cromarty Firth, bound for the Vorlich oil field where BP plans to access up to 30 million barrels of oil.
The campaigners unfurled a banner reading "Climate Emergency" after climbing the rig.
BREAKING: Two activists are blocking a @BP_plc oil rig from setting out to the North Sea where it intends to drill for 30 million barrels of oil. We're in a #ClimateEmergency - the age of oil is over. RT to show your support! #NoMoreOil— Greenpeace UK (@GreenpeaceUK) June 9, 2019
Despite recent studies from the world's top climate scientists warning that governments must transition to renewable energy sources and end their dependence on fossil fuels to stem the effects of the climate crisis, the UK's Oil and Gas Authority last week awarded 37 license areas to 30 companies.
"The approval threatens to result in scores of new projects at exactly the time we need to halt the growth of new oil and gas production," said Greenpeace.
The new licenses suggest that the country is not following its recent declaration of a climate emergency with concrete action, as campaigners have demanded.
"The government may be bent on draining the North Sea of every last drop of oil but this clearly contradicts their climate commitments," said one of the activists who boarded the rig, who was identified as Jo.
"The perverse idea we must maximize our oil and gas reserves cannot continue," she added. "That means the government must seriously reform the Oil and Gas Authority and instead invest heavily in the crucial work of helping oil communities like those in Scotland move from fossil fuels to the industries that will power our low carbon future."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
The Washington Post / Contributor / Getty Images
Washington Governor Jay Inslee is at the top of the class, and former Vice President Joe Biden is struggling near the bottom with a D minus. Those are the results of Greenpeace USA's #Climate2020 Scorecard, the latest tool designed to rate the 2020 presidential candidates based on their plans for tackling the climate crisis.
The scorecard, released Thursday, graded the candidates on a 1 to 100 scale based on two main criteria: their support for a Green New Deal and their commitment to ending the use of fossil fuels, NBC News reported.
"We are in a climate emergency. Yet for the last several elections, even the majority of politicians who claim to care about our future have done little more than say they believe the climate crisis is real," Greenpeace USA Climate Campaign Director Janet Redman said in a statement reported by NBC News. "That doesn't cut it anymore. In 2020, true climate leadership means nothing less than saying 'yes' to a Green New Deal and 'no' to fossil fuels."
There’s a lot at stake in 2020. Middle of the road approaches to the #climatecrisis WON'T cut it. Check out our n… https://t.co/VwbC4LkfSO— Greenpeace USA (@Greenpeace USA)1559229702.0
The scores were based on positions and legislation the candidates had supported since 2013. Inslee, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard also filled out a 29-question survey on their positions. Candidates were also given credit for refusing donations from the fossil fuel industry.
Inslee topped the charts with an A minus.
"Gov. Inslee has championed bold climate action for years. He has laid out the most detailed plan of any candidate so far that's right in line with a Green New Deal, and championed bold action as Governor of Washington State. His 2020 climate plan would invest $3 trillion over ten years to achieve 100 percent clean power by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2045, while prioritizing investments for frontline, Indigenous, and low-income communities," the scorecard said.
He was followed by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Booker, who both earned B pluses. Biden was fourth from last, above only former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, who also earned a D minus, and Republicans Bill Weld, a former Massachusetts governor, and Donald Trump, who both earned Fs.
The full tally is as follows:
- Jay Inslee, A-
- Bernie Sanders, B+
- Cory Booker, B+
- Kirsten Gillibrand, B
- Elizabeth Warren, B
- Tulsi Gabbard, B
- Beto O'Rourke, B-
- Marianne Williamson, C
- Pete Buttigieg, C
- Kamala Harris, C-
- Eric Swalwell, C-
- Amy Klobuchar, C-
- John Delaney, D+
- Andrew Yang, D+
- Julian Castro, D+
- Tim Ryan, D-
- Joe Biden, D-
- John Hickenlooper, D-
- Bill Weld, F
- Donald Trump, F
Greenpeace USA spokesman Ryan Schleeter told NBC News that Biden's low score "is primarily due to lack of info," since he has yet to release a comprehensive climate plan, something he had promised by the end of May, according to The Huffington Post.
"If he wants to translate his front-runner status in the polls to actual leadership on climate, we need him to come out with a bold, concrete plan in line with the scale of the crisis we're facing," Redman told Bloomberg News.
However, the scorecard is designed to push all the candidates, not just Biden. Greenpeace encouraged those reading the scores to either "praise" or "shame" candidates for strong or weak plans.
"If we push each candidate often and altogether, we have a HUGE opportunity to make real climate action a priority this primary season," the organization wrote.
Greenpeace's scorecard uses a similar metric to 350 Action's 2020 Climate Test, released in March. That test grades candidates on three criteria: support for a Green New Deal, commitment to keeping fossil fuels in the ground and refusing fossil fuel money. However, the test is less detailed, simply giving candidates a thumbs up for each box they tick. Biden currently has not signed the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge, and the group lists his positions on the Green New Deal and ending fossil fuel use as unknown.
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The far-right German party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) is increasing its climate denying rhetoric as it prepares for the European elections later this month, singling out 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg for particular attack.
AfD has long denied that climate change is caused by the burning of fossil fuels, but it has chosen to emphasize that message more and more in the past year, according to a joint investigation by Greenpeace's Unearthed and counter-extremism group the Institute of Strategic Dialogue (ISD).
"Even going back on their 2016 posts about climate change, the AFD denied human-made climate change on their social media pages. So while the AFD has not shifted its position, the party has decided to communicate it more frequently," ISD extremism researcher Jakob Guhl said.
Germany’s AfD turns on Greta Thunberg as it embraces climate denial - our latest work looking at the campaigns that… https://t.co/ttXBAvWk0r— Institute for Strategic Dialogue (@Institute for Strategic Dialogue)1557848587.0
AfD barely mentioned climate change on its social media channels when it was first founded in 2013, The Guardian reported. That number rose to 300 between 2017 and 2018, then shot up to more than 900 between 2018 and 2019. Much of that focus has been on Thunberg, who was mentioned in nearly 800 posts on the group's Facebook pages in the last year, the investigation found.
The social media focus has been matched by attacks on the Swedish teen from AfD politicians.
"This is not a 'woman of the year' but at best a teenager with autistic prehistory who is burned by her 'advisers' and by willing MSM as a new icon for the 'climate church,'" AfD Member of Parliament (MP) Frank Pasemann tweeted of Thunberg in March.
AfD andidates in the EU parliamentary elections have compared her to a member of the Nazi youth. One candidate, Maximilian Krah, said she had a "psychosis," The Guardian reported.
In the investigation report, Guhl explained why AfD has exploited Thunberg's fame to spread its climate denying agenda:
"The emergence of Greta Thunberg as public figure provided them with a welcome target to communicate their position in a way more appropriate to the dynamics of social media.
"The fact that many mainstream politicians, in particular from the AfD's key political opponent, the Greens, but also CSU-candidates such as Manfred Weber, supported a 16-year old female activist who was virtually unknown until a few months ago, allowed the party to present belief in climate change as irrational, hysteria, panic, cult-like or even as a replacement religion. Attacking Greta, at times in fairly vicious ways, including mocking her for her autism, became a way to portray the AfD's political opponents as irrational."
But attacking Thunberg isn't the only strategy AfD is using to spread its message. AfD environmental spokesperson Karsten Hilse was seen distributing climate denying leaflets at a school strike for climate in Berlin in March. Hilse also invited a slate of speakers who challenge mainstream climate science to speak at Germany's parliament Tuesday.
How Germany's far right AfD is spotlighting climate change denial: 1) attack greta on social media 2) host climate… https://t.co/OapmHLihya— Unearthed (@Unearthed)1557921540.0
"The AfD is using the Bundestag [German parliament] as a stage for its dissemination of climate lies. They invite fake experts to a so-called symposium on climate change to generate content for mass dissemination via social media channels and stir up hatred and anger on the internet," Greenpeace Germany climate campaigner Karsten Smid told The Guardian.
While the right has long spread misinformation about the existence and causes of climate change in the U.S., this has been less common in the EU until recently. The investigation also found a link between climate denying U.S. think tanks and their German counterparts. Tuesday's event was publicized by German think tank the European Institute for Climate and Energy (EIKE), and the group's vice president advises Hilse. EIKE also co-sponsors an annual climate conference with the U.S. Heartland Institute, which funds the spread of misinformation about climate change. For example, it sent a book and DVD set called Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming to at least 200,000 K-12 teachers in the U.S.
However, the vast majority of Germans are greatly concerned about climate change. While support for AfD is growing, the Green Party is now polling in second place, in Germany, behind its current ruling party.
"Climate change is a major concern among German voters ahead of the European elections," Green Party climate spokesperson Lisa Badum told Unearthed. "A recent poll has shown that 3 out of 4 potential voters in Germany consider climate protection an important factor in their voting decision."
All coal generators were offline from 1:24 p.m. May 1 through 1:24 p.m. May 8, The Guardian reported. The record follows closely on a five-day coal-free stretch over the Easter weekend, The Independent noted.
"As more and more renewables come on to our energy system, coal-free runs like this are going to be a regular occurrence," National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) director Fintan Slye said, according to ITV News.
The UK government has promised to phase out coal entirely by 2025.
"Going a week without coal for the first time since the Industrial Revolution is a huge leap forward in our world-leading efforts to reduce emissions, but we're not stopping there," Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said, as ITV News reported. "To combat climate change growth, we're phasing out coal entirely by 2025 and building a cleaner, greener energy system."
The UK has broken its record and gone a whole week without using coal for power - over 1,000 total hours so far this year!— Dept for BEIS (@beisgovuk) May 8, 2019
We’re phasing out coal entirely by 2025 and on a path to become the first major economy to legislate for #netzero emissions.#cleangrowth #climatechange pic.twitter.com/mJcGvacMGN
However, Slye said he believed the country's entire electricity system could be run without carbon by that time, though it would require work.
"Zero-carbon operation of the electricity system by 2025 means a fundamental change to how our system was designed to operate — integrating newer technologies right across the system — from large-scale offshore wind to domestic-scale solar panels to increased demand-side participation, using new smart digital systems to manage and control the system in real time," he said.
In 2018, the UK got a record 27.5 percent of its electricity from renewable energy. Low-carbon energy, which includes nuclear, accounted for 49.6 percent of the country's supply the same year, also a new high. Natural gas accounted for 43.9 percent of electricity and coal only six percent, a new low.
Greenpeace UK chief scientist Dr. Doug Parr said that the country now needed to move beyond eliminating coal to ban diesel and gas vehicles, improve building efficiency, reduce meat consumption and plant millions of trees to fight climate change.
"Just a few years ago we were told Britain couldn't possibly keep the lights on without burning coal," he said, according to ITV News. "Now coal is quickly becoming an irrelevance, much to the benefit of our climate and air quality, and we barely notice it."
The coal-free milestone comes a little less than a week after the UK's Committee on Climate Change (CCC) released a report saying the country both should and could achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, The Guardian reported.
The UK can get to net-zero emissions by 2050 by using known technologies alongside improvements to quality of life pic.twitter.com/BRkj25USxW— CCC (@theCCCuk) May 2, 2019
But CCC Chief Executive Chris Stark said some government policies were still hampering renewable energy development, among them a proposed hike to VATs on solar panels and a failure to fully back onshore wind power.
"We will need to throw everything at this challenge, including onshore wind and solar," Stark told Members of Parliament on the business committee Wednesday, according to The Guardian. "Anything that makes it harder is really not in line with the net-zero challenge overall."
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By Kaitlin Grable
1. The media still isn’t addressing climate change in a way that matches the urgency of the problem.
Despite years of record-breaking extreme weather, the climate crisis usually gets minor mentions when mainstream news comments on climate-linked disasters or Trump's pro-fossil fuel rhetoric. Climate change shouldn't be a footnote — it should be center stage.
Holding a climate-focused debate will ensure that the climate crisis is treated as a serious issue to address, not an opinion to be questioned.
It would push the candidates to specifically address how they will tackle one of the biggest challenges of our lifetime, and give us all the ability to make an informed choice on who will lead us into an era of bold climate action that's accountable to communities.
2. We need bold, visionary leaders to beat Trump in 2020.
We've spent more than two years resisting a racist and destructive Trump agenda. With daily attacks on our values and freedoms, this administration has attempted to divide us and wear us down. But people power has given us a record number of women in Congress, voting rights restoration in Florida, and the beginnings of an ambitious Green New Deal. This is just the start. Now we need presidential candidates that will look beyond the status quo and reimagine what's possible.
The next president should have the guts and vision to move us toward a safer, healthier, and more prosperous future where we reject the politics of fear and exclusion — while directly confronting how corporate polluters tarnish our air, our water and our climate without repercussions.
It's not the time for half-measures if we want to beat Trump. For decades, the bar on climate policy has been incredibly low. If a politician says they believe in man-made climate change, they've been lauded as progressive on climate. Agreeing with nearly every climate scientist in the world isn't leadership.
We all deserve to know whether each Democratic candidate has a well-thought-out plan for the climate crisis and go toe-to-toe with the oil and gas industry.
Here's what a climate-focused debate could reveal:
- Who supports the Green New Deal and who doesn't;
- How the candidates will stop the fossil fuel industry's influence on our democracy;
- Who will push our economy to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy;
- How candidates will support communities affected by climate disasters;
- Who will make a responsible plan to phase-out fossil fuels while protecting workers.
3. Communities across the country are being badly hurt by the effects of climate change.
Politics has always been divisive. But recently the emphasis on "us versus them" has gone too far. Instead of creating common goals for thriving communities, with healthy air and water, and shared access to clean energy, the calls of "fake news" and "build a wall" put people in conflict with one another. We need to hear how candidates for president are going to bring us together — because we need everyone in this fight.
If we don't shift the way we produce energy in this country, the people who have contributed the least to the climate crisis will continue to suffer the most from devastating extreme weather events and environmental pollution.
The time for talk has passed. We need to move to a 100 percent renewable energy economy and hold corporate polluters accountable for the damage they've caused.
4. We only have just over a decade to take drastic action on climate change.
Scientists tell us we have until 2030 to cut carbon pollution in half to stave off the worst effects of climate change. You do the math. Our future rests on the shoulders of whoever we elect as the next president.
Every day we allow to pass without taking action is one day we come closer to an irreversible ecological tipping point.
Since we have just over 10 years to take major steps forward on climate, the coming years will be a critical time to make up for all the years of climate inaction on both sides of the aisle. The next president of the U.S. must take bolder, faster climate action than any leader has before.
We want to see who is going to claim the mantle of climate leadership, and the best way to do that is for the candidates to debate their plans face-to-face on the debate stage.
Together, we can build a powerful movement to make sure that bold climate action is at the top of presidential candidates' priorities — but we need everyone on board.
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