Forty-thousand liters (approximately 10,600 gallons) of diesel oil have spilled into the waters of Chile's Patagonia, a biodiversity hotspot at the tip of South America.
The oil spilled from the island, where CAP mines limestone, and out into the South Pacific Ocean, Reuters reported. Oceana Chile tweeted a map showing the affected area, along with the hope that the spill would not be of unspeakable proportions.
Esta es la zona afectada hoy por derrame de petróleo. @Armada_Chile ya trabaja por controlar accidente en terminal marítimo de #CAP— Oceana Chile (@OceanaChile) July 28, 2019
Esperamos que daño no sea de proporciones...
Por ello insistimos en proteger #ArchipielagoHumboldt#ChaoCAP #NoDominga pic.twitter.com/Itvst2S04f
Greenpeace Chile also expressed concern over the potential damage, warning it could be "devastating."
"It's an extremely grave situation considering the pristine nature of the waters in which this environmental emergency has occurred," Greenpeace Chile Director Matías Asun said in a statement reported by CNN. "It must be considered that the zone is extremely difficult to access and that it is an area of great richness of marine mammals, like whales and dolphins, which could see themselves seriously affected in their habitat given that when coming to the surface to breathe they could meet this layer of oil."
The navy sent ships to control the damage and launched an investigation into its cause.
"The marine pollution control centre was activated," Third Naval Zone commander Ronald Baasch told local media, according to The Associated Press.
The navy announced that around 15,000 liters (approximately 4,000 gallons) had been contained as of Sunday, CNN reported.
15 mil litros de agua de mar contaminada han logrado ser contenidos en isla Guarello— Armada de Chile (@Armada_Chile) July 29, 2019
Tanto la Barcaza "Elicura" como el Patrullero Oceánico "Marinero Fuentealba" ya se encuentran en la zona apoyando la emergencia https://t.co/pZzj11UBBV pic.twitter.com/CpIhD9MuFO
CAP also said Sunday that the spill had been contained and that they were cooperating with the navy's investigation, Reuters further reported. The company said it had activated its procedure for controlling spills and containing damage.
"As an additional measure, a process of permanent monitoring of the area has been coordinated through a specialized foundation," the company's statement said.
Patagonia is a remote region at the southern tip of South America that is shared by Argentina and Chile. The Wildlife Conservation Society described its scale:
All told, its terrestrial wilderness spans over a million square miles, roughly seven times the state of New York. Its waters cover 1.8 million square miles—about the size of Alaska. Together, these are home to some of the largest coastal colonies of marine mammals and birds anywhere.
Oil spills threaten marine life because they coat the water with residue, blocking light from entering marine ecosystems, Greenpeace Chile explained. They also spread toxins throughout the ocean environment, harming the ability of marine animals to feed themselves and reproduce.
That salmon sitting in your neighborhood grocery store's fish counter won't look the same to you after watching Artifishal, a new film from Patagonia.
The project, which got its start when Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard wanted to make a film about the arrogance of humankind, turned out to be a film about salmon … and what we're doing to them.
The film uses salmon as a lens to tell a larger story about wilderness.
"It's about how we keep trying to control nature rather than allowing it to do what it does," said the film's director, Josh Murphy.
Artifishal looks specifically at how fish hatcheries and fish farms threaten wild salmon populations, which in turn has ecosystem-wide effects — all because of our desire to eat these culturally significant species.
"We fell in love with this wild thing and then we took too many of them and we degraded the environments that produce them," explained Murphy of the genesis of the film.
But instead of helping wild salmon recover, we've created hatcheries and farms to make more of them — at great cost, both economically and ecologically. The film explores the process, the tradeoffs and what's at stake if we continue down this path.
As Artifishal and its filmmakers travel around the country conducting screenings with community organizations, we spoke with Murphy about what he learned making the film and why wild salmon are so important.
It seems like the heart of this film is fish hatcheries, which don’t get a lot of attention. What did you learn about them?
There's this narrative that hatcheries are a good thing. But I wanted to know where that came from because there's no other animal that I can find that's mass produced, much less by a state or a federal government, and then released into the wild. It doesn't happen.
I found the story of George Perkins Marsh, who wrote a book in 1864 called Man and Nature about the irreparable harm humans were having on the environment. And that was a big thing. Creeks and rivers had been so degraded by industry, dams, mills and forest practices [that] he proposed that we should restore fish. He had just heard about this technique brought over by some French guys about how to take the fish eggs and milt and combine them. And he thought that this is how we'll solve the problem — we're just going to make more fish. Within five years of the Civil War ending there were fish hatcheries all over New England.
It played on our agricultural norms — we do this for chickens, sheep, cows — of course we're going to do this for fish. But we didn't realize that fish are going into an uncontrolled environment.
What are some of the risks to wild salmon from this?
Fast forward to today and now you have certain people who wanted to further degrade rivers, for example, people that want to develop the rivers for hydropower, and they're allowed to do that — they can dam the whole river and just put a hatchery at the bottom of it.
Hatcheries have enabled people to believe that you could control the river and still have fish.
And what we're realizing now is the science over the last 25 years says that's a completely false narrative. It's actually degrading the biological diversity.
By bringing fish into a hatchery, you're decreasing all of the natural selection that would have happened and so you're taking the fitness out. And then we started selecting certain breeds within a river, like fall-run Chinook, because it was easier and cheaper for us to produce those. But we only do that with economically viable species, not the biologically viable species. So we don't have, for example, hatcheries for lampreys, which are an important part of the ecosystem. And we don't have hatcheries for spring-run in many places or winter-run, which some rivers have. It's only fall-run.
I think the scariest thing is that in choosing as we are, we are actually degrading the fishes' ability to adapt in the future to things like climate change. They're becoming more like a monocrop.
The first part of the film is about hatcheries and then it jumps to fish farms. You show the risks of Atlantic salmon being raised in open pens in Pacific waters. Was this a commentary on that practice specifically or fish farms in general?
Net-pen salmon farms concentrate fish at unnaturally high levels, creating ideal conditions for disease, parasites and other health issues. Alta, Norway.
In open net-pen aquaculture, when you have opportunities for the farmed fish to escape and interbreed with wild fish — when you have Atlantic salmon in the Pacific — one has to wonder, what are we doing? What's driving this? And it's just money.
There are other ways. There're opportunities for fish to be raised on land with either freshwater or saltwater with less harm to the wild environment. But we don't do it because we want more money. Floating a net in the ocean costs nothing. You don't even pay property taxes. You may have a license fee to the state, but that's it. And you get to dump everything into the water.
We may need to have aquaculture in the future and I think that it's a promising sector. But if we need more fish, if there's a demand for that, we need to do it in a way that does not harm wild fish.
What do we lose if we don’t have wild salmon?
There're the obvious benefits that salmon give to ecosystems.
So for example, right now in rivers that have hatcheries, there's often a fish weir on the river and the fish will swim up to it until they can go no further. So they've taken all of the nutrients that they have acquired in the ocean, and they swim up to that weir, turn the corner and they swim themselves into the hatchery. The hatchery kills the fish, takes the gametes, makes the new generation and throws the fish into a landfill. All of those nutrients that used to funnel from the ocean to the headwaters of these rivers are gone. That means all of the animals that relied on those nutrients no longer have that.
But we don't care because we just want to make more fish and release them. For who? Commercial and sport fishers. That's it. That means there's no other value that salmon have to anything else in the ecosystem. If fish are not seen as wildlife and they're only seen as food and fun, then we will just try to churn them out and manufacture them as quickly as we can because of the economic benefits.
But we don't do that for grizzly bears. We don't have hatcheries for deer, for elk, for waterfowl. When you hear the word "hatchery," it sounds quaint, but if we call these "fish factories," which is what they really are, people might consider the whole thing differently.
Raceways for raising juvenile spring Chinook salmon at the Sawtooth Hatchery, in Stanley, Idaho which is managed by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
What do you hope people take away from this film?
If we don't respect wild and we just try to replicate them in farms and replicate them in hatcheries, then we could lose wild altogether. What I hope the movie leaves people with is this kind of disquieting question, which is, are we at the end of wild?
If we are then that's a really frustrating reality. If, in fact, that's what we've decided, what then for birds? What then for bears? For elephants?
Some people just don't want to hear that because they're so focused on themselves — their livelihood or their recreation. But what about the rest of the entire ecosystem that relies on wild fish? It's not just about us. That is the arrogance of man — this whole story is just about us. And I think that's what we have to reconsider.
Fish are really indicators of water quality. I think about that in terms of the metaphor of the canary in the coal mine. If a miner was descending into a mine and the canary dies, it says to the miner, "don't go any farther." Right?
With fish it's like we're descending into that mine, the fish dies, and we just make more of them to put in the cage. It's telling us something. It's saying the environment can't support them. Fix that problem. Don't make more of them. We have to fix the disease, not just manage the symptom, which is a lack of fish. And until we do that, our future for wild fish, and our future for other wild things is in question.
Tara Lohan is deputy editor of The Revelator and has worked for more than a decade as a digital editor and environmental journalist focused on the intersections of energy, water and climate. Her work has been published by The Nation, American Prospect, High Country News, Grist,Pacific Standard and others. She is the editor of two books on the global water crisis.
Reposted with permission from our media associate The Revelator.
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.
"Based on last year's irresponsible tax cut, Patagonia will owe less in taxes this year—$10 million less, in fact. Instead of putting the money back into our business, we're responding by putting $10 million back into the planet. Our home planet needs it more than we do," CEO Rose Marcario wrote in a LinkedIn blog post published Wednesday.
The tax cut provided billions of dollars in tax savings for the oil and gas industry. A 40-year drilling ban on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was also lifted after the bill was approved in December.
"Taxes protect the most vulnerable in our society, our public lands and other life-giving resources. In spite of this, the Trump administration initiated a corporate tax cut, threatening these services at the expense of our planet," Marcario wrote.
Patagonia's unexpected windfall will go to conservation organizations protecting our air, land, water and climate. The funds will also help support the regenerative organic agriculture movement, "which we think will not only slow the climate crisis but could begin to reverse it," the company said in an emailed press release.
We're giving our $10 million tax cut back to the planet. https://t.co/3mB5NQYCB6 https://t.co/WAjpkMImOq— Patagonia (@Patagonia)1543425412.0
Citing Friday's National Climate Assessment report compiled by 13 federal agencies and more than 300 scientists, Marcario said climate change is impacting people around the world and will cost the U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars.
"Mega-fires. Toxic algae blooms. Deadly heat waves and deadly hurricanes. Far too many have suffered the consequences of global warming in recent months, and the political response has so far been woefully inadequate—and the denial is just evil," she wrote.
Trump, meanwhile, continues to deny science and responded to the U.S. climate report by saying, "I don't believe it."
"Our government continues to ignore the seriousness and causes of the climate crisis. It is pure evil," Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard said in an emailed statement. "We need to double down on renewable energy solutions. We need an agriculture system that supports small family farms and ranches, not one that rewards chemical companies intent on destroying our planet and poisoning our food. And we need to protect our public lands and waters because they are all we have left."
Patagonia has long been a champion of grassroots environmental efforts and is an outspoken critic of the Trump administration. The company sued the president last year over his controversial decision to shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah, and it famously declared on its website, "The President Stole Your Land."
In September, the civic-minded retailer endorsed two Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate, Jon Tester of Montana and Jacky Rosen of Nevada. They both won.
"In this season of giving, we are giving away this tax cut to the planet, our only home, which needs it now more than ever," Marcario concluded.
'Go Out and Vote' Patagonia Endorses Candidates For First Time in Its History @patagonia @enviro_voter… https://t.co/Y8HfjhW5V0— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1540040531.0
Tomorrow, America heads to the polls for the midterm elections, and, as EcoWatch has pointed out, these are very important elections for the environment, giving voters a chance to fight back against the Trump administration's agenda of ignoring climate change and opening public lands to drilling and mining.
This election is so important, in fact, that eco-friendly outdoor brand Patagonia has endorsed two candidates, becoming likely the first U.S. company to ever do so. Patagonia endorsed Democratic Senate candidate Jon Tester in Montana and Democratic Senate candidate Jacky Rosen in Nevada because of their commitments to protecting public lands, but it is also working to encourage voting everywhere. The company is giving its employees the day off, and closing its retail stores.
"[V]oting is more important than shopping," Patagonia Director of Global Communications and Public Relations Corley Kenna told CBS. "Business has an important responsibility to help uphold democracy. The least we can do is make sure the employees of our company have that opportunity to exercise that right."
Patagonia isn't the only private company stepping up this election to help the American public make its voice heard. Here are five major ways that some of your favorite brands are helping to get out the vote tomorrow.
1. Voting Time
Patagonia is one of the many companies that have signed on to the Time to Vote campaign, which is an initiative that was launched by American CEOs in September to raise awareness about things employers can do to make it easier for their employees to vote. Those actions include offering paid time off, making Election Day meeting-free or spreading info about mail-in or early voting. Participants include The Gap, PayPal and Walmart.
Another group of more than 300 companies, including Spotify, Salon and Survey Monkey, has spearheaded a similar initiative called Take Off Election Day, promising to give their employees time off to vote.
300+ companies (comprising an estimated 50,000+ employees) are now taking off election day. What's your excuse? https://t.co/Xhx5K4c06b— Take Off ElectionDay (@Take Off ElectionDay)1476655725.0
2. The Ride to Vote
Rideshare company Lyft launched a campaign this summer called the "Ride to Vote." It explained its motivation in a blog post announcing its efforts:
It is estimated that over 15 million people were registered but didn't vote in 2016 because of transportation issues. That's why we're committed to providing 50% off rides across the country, and free rides to underserved communities that face significant obstacles to transportation.
Not to be outdone, in October Uber announced the steps it would take to help Americans vote, including adding a tool to the app to help voters find and book a ride to their polling place, offering free rides and providing Uber users with voter registration resources.
You drive the vote, we’ll get you to the polls. Learn more about how we’re helping people show up on Election Day. https://t.co/ftLaWCEhZ7— Uber (@Uber)1538673906.0
3. Election Dates
The dating app Bumble came up with a unique way to encourage people to vote. The app, which has 41 million users worldwide, allows users to display their intention to vote on their profile. If anyone is looking for a civic-minded partner, Bumble just made that easier. The app will also send notifications reminding users to follow-through on their commitment.
"We have a real opportunity around election season to really be an advocate for voter registration," Bumble Chief Operating Officer Sarah Jones Simmer told CBS.
We’ve added a new badge option to your Bumble profile, allowing you to show your pride in civic engagement. Regardl… https://t.co/0fbW7QITHW— Bumble (@Bumble)1538936848.0
4. Registration Applications
Bumble isn't the only app encouraging its users to vote. Fellow dating app Tinder teamed up with Rock the Vote to encourage voter turnout, Snapchat registered more than 400,000 users and music app Pandora shared an ad on National Registration Day in which the artist Common encouraged users to register and find their polling place.
"It's your chance to make sure your voice is heard," Common said in the ad, according to CBS. "Tap the link on your screen now to make sure these midterms are on your terms."
Swipe the Vote | Tinder www.youtube.com
5. Fighting Voter Suppression
Twitter and Facebook are in hot water following the 2016 election. There are concerns that the spread of false news on the popular social media platforms might have influenced the results, as Vox explained.
That is likely why they are eager to redeem themselves this time around as they attempt to delete false or misleading posts discouraging people from voting. As of Friday, Twitter had deleted more than 10,000 automatic accounts designed to keep people away from the polls. Both services are getting rid of posts that spread misinformation about how to mail in a ballot, alter pictures to make lines at polling places look longer than they are and say that it is possible to vote online, among other lies.
One rumor Twitter removed said that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would patrol polling sites checking for citizenship, a clear attempt to discourage immigrants who can vote from showing up. ICE eventually clarified on Twitter that it did not patrol polling places.
ICE does not patrol or conduct enforcement operations at polling locations. Any flyers or advertisements claiming o… https://t.co/wAQuAp9pYN— ICE (@ICE)1540384248.0
Update: The window for photo submissions has ended. The winner will be announced this Wednesday, November 21.
EcoWatch is pleased to announce its first photo contest! Show us what in nature you are most thankful for this Thanksgiving. Whether you have a love for oceans, animals, or parks, we want to see your best photos that capture what you love about this planet.
Send your photo to [email protected] with the subject line "ECOWATCH PHOTO CONTEST" by November 16th with the following information for a chance to have your photo appear on EcoWatch and win a $250 Patagonia eGift Card:
3. Phone Number
4. Photo Submission file (.jpeg file format recommended)
Our judges will choose the winning photo and the winner will be announced on November 21st. One submission per person.
All submissions will be evaluated by our wonderful judges Stephen Donofrio, Gaelin Rosenwaks and Marc Bryan-Brown to decide who the winner is.
Stephen Donofrio's work spans across sectors on climate, water, and forests sustainability, branching out to include carbon finance, cap-and-trade, corporate responsibility, and forest risk free agricultural supply chain management. He launched Greenpoint Innovations in 2014 with the aim of delivering compelling insights and unforgettable stories with the integration of innovative technologies and the arts. Aside from Greenpoint Innovations, he serves as a director at Forest Trends, is a regular public speaker at global forums, and is an associate educator at Boston College and Arizona University.
Gaelin Rosenwaks is a marine scientist, explorer, photographer and filmmaker. Alarmed by the changes happening in the oceans, Gaelin founded Global Ocean Exploration, Inc. to share her passion for ocean exploration, marine conservation, and fishing through powerful imagery, words and adventure. She now participates and conducts expeditions in every ocean to alert the public not only to the challenges facing the oceans, but also to what science is doing to understand these changes.
Documentary photographer Marc Bryan-Brown has been shooting people, places and things for more than 30 years. Starting in the music industry he was Whitney Houston's personal photographer at the peak of her career. Following that he moved into travel and expedition work. He is cited by the Mountainview Museum of Computing as being on the first "online expedition" and the 1994 Friendship Flight Across Arctic Siberia where images and reports were filed from the field to a website. Marc lives in the New York Hudson Valley with his wife Florence Seery.
By entering this photo contest you are granting EcoWatch the right to use your photo on our site and our media channels in conjunction with this contest without the written permission of the photographer. Unless otherwise instructed, EcoWatch reserves the right to use photo submissions on our site and in our media channels aside from the contest. If you do not wish to give EcoWatch the rights to use your photo aside from the current photo contest that you are participating in, please let us know within your email submission with the text "No, I do not want to give EcoWatch the rights to use my photos in other media aside from the current photo contest that I am participating in."
More Contest Details:
- Photo submissions must be original work taken by the contest entrant.
- By entering this photo contest you are granting EcoWatch the right to use your photo on our site and our media channels in conjunction with this contest without the written permission of the photographer.
- Unless otherwise instructed, EcoWatch reserves the right to use photo submissions on our site and in our media channels aside from the contest.
- The winner's name will be announced alongside the winning photo submission.
- Photos that have already been submitted to other contests currently ongoing or have already won prizes in other contests are not eligible.
- Image files created through any device capable of taking still images, such as smartphones and digital still cameras, will be accepted.
- Color and monochrome images are valid for entry.
- After judging concludes, the winners will be notified by email sent to their listed email address by November 21st. The Patagonia eGift Card will be sent to the same listed email address.
- EcoWatch reserves the right to void entries that depict brand logos or other intellectual property, whether on electronic signs, posters, or in other forms, or that in its judgment are harmful to public order, go against standards of decency, or are conflicting to the goals of the contest.
- EcoWatch is not responsible for the resolution of legal issues arising from the entrants submitted photos and will not pay any costs thereby incurred.
- EcoWatch does not bear any costs to the entrants that incur by entering the contest.
- Submitted entries may not be withdrawn or returned.
- EcoWatch reserves the right to suspend or postpone the receipt of any or all entries if it is judged that the contest is unable to be run effectively, smoothly, or without affecting the fairness of judging.
The civic-minded retailer is backing two Democrats in two crucial Senate races: the re-election of Sen. Jon Tester of Montana; and Rep. Jacky Rosen, who is trying to unseat Republican Sen. Dean Heller in Nevada.
Although CEOs give endorsements and corporations donate to candidates all the time, Patagonia's move is likely the first time any U.S. company has explicitly endorsed candidates for office, campaign-finance experts told the Washington Post.
"We are supporting Jon Tester because he gives a damn about protecting public lands—and, like US, he's committed to fight back against anyone who doesn't," Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard said in a press release emailed to EcoWatch. "He goes to work every day for the 95 percent of Montanans who believe recreation on public lands is a priority, unlike Republicans in Congress who only serve the fossil fuel industry."
Patagonia CEO and president Rose Marcario was similarly enthusiastic about Rosen.
"She will fight to protect Nevada's public lands and the vibrant outdoor industry that depends on them," Marcario said in the press release. "Jacky has a strong record of defending public lands in Congress and protecting our access to clean air and clean waters."
Patagonia has a major presence in Nevada, the home of its global distribution center, its Worn Wear repair center and more than 650 of its employees. For the past two decades, the company has partnered with grassroots environmental nonprofits and state leaders on conservation issues.
In Montana, the company's conservation efforts have dated back nearly 30 years when it started offering grants to support the Montana Wilderness Association. The Treasure State is also home to a Patagonia outlet store and is where the company started its 1% for the Planet program.
Patagonia is not afraid to get political. They sued President Donald Trump last year over his controversial decision to shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah, and it famously declared on its website, "The President Stole Your Land."
The company also helped launch the nonpartisan "Time to Vote" campaign to increase voter participation. It will give its roughly 1,500 U.S. employees a paid day off this Nov. 6 so they have time to head to the polls. It did the same during the 2016 election.
"In the last midterm election only 36 percent of eligible voters decided to vote. That's not enough voters to represent the American people. I think we deserve better than that," Chouinard said in the video posted last week. "If you do too, then let's get off our butts and go out and vote."
Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard reminds you that democracy requires showing up. On November 6, #MidtermsMatter —… https://t.co/EOtH7q3ERL— Patagonia (@Patagonia)1539281571.0
- Trump to Gut Bears Ears by 85%, Grand Staircase-Escalante by 50% ›
- Outdoor Brand Patagonia Wants You to ‘Vote the A**holes Out’ - EcoWatch ›
Researchers with the European Space Agency (ESA) have mapped in stunning detail the extensive retreat of South America's Patagonian ice fields, where some glaciers are melting at the highest rates on Earth and contribute to global sea level rise.
In a report this week, ESA revealed that between the years 2011 and 2017, Patagonia's ice fields receded at a rate of more than 21 gigatonnes (Gt)—21 billion metric tons—a year, the equivalent to adding 0.06 millimeters to global sea level.
During that six-year period, the team observed "widespread thinning of ice, particularly in the northern part of the Patagonian ice fields," said Luca Foresta, from the University of Edinburgh, in a statement.
"For example, the Jorge Montt glacier, which flows down to the ocean, retreated 2.5 kilometers and lost about 2.2 Gt of ice a year, and the Upsala glacier, which terminates at a lake, lost 2.68 Gt a year," Foresta said.
"In contrast, however, Pio XI, the largest glacier in South America, advanced and gained mass at a rate of about 0.67 Gt a year."
The scientists gathered this information using a novel technique called "swath processing" of data from ESA's CryoSat satellite, which monitors ice volume.
This new method, detailed in a paper published last month in the journal Remote Sensing of Environment, allows whole swaths, rather than single points, of elevations to be computed, thus yielding more detail on the changing nature of glacial ice.
A new way of processing @esa #CryoSat swath data now makes it possible to map #Patagonia mountain #glaciers in fine… https://t.co/kCmhR48w2W— ESA EarthObservation (@ESA EarthObservation)1525355071.0
The study authors noted that Patagonian ice fields have thinned rapidly in recent years. Its ongoing melting has contributed about 15 percent to the total mass loss from glaciers and ice caps in the first decade of this century.
"This is because the weather is relatively warm and these glaciers typically terminate in fjords and lakes, exacerbating surface melting and causing them to flow faster and lose ice as icebergs at their margins," ESA explained in a report.
"There is a clear need to monitor and understand glacial dynamics, not only in Patagonia but globally," ESA said.
By Robin Walter
After fording a rib-deep and bone-cracking cold river whose current could have easily swept away a person much bigger than I am, I took stock of my surroundings. My companions and I were sodden and soggy, huddled against slanting hail on the banks of the Jeinimeni River in Patagonia. Miserable? You bet. But there were also huge grins plastered across all of our faces. Exhilarated? Yes. Joyful? Plainly. Through rivulets of water cascading down rain-jacket hoods, I registered a few shell-shocked expressions. Everyone seemed to be chewing on the same question: How in the hell did I end up spending Christmas morning with frozen feet?
Later that night, we huddled around a fire in a sheep-shack tucked into a lenga forest on the edge of Valle La Gloria, sang rousing rounds of "Rudolph the Red-nosed Huemel" (that's the endangered deer that lives in the southern Andes), and considered why we had travelled thousands of miles by plane, ferry, bus and truck to spend Christmas in Patagonia's backcountry.
Each of the 10 team members had signed up to spend nine days trekking through Patagonia's Aysén region with Chulengo, an expedition-centered company that aims to reconnect us with the wilds of the natural world and to challenge us to think hard about our roles as advocates for a healthier ecological future. Some came seeking adventure. Others came to foster a connection with self through challenge. Yet others hoped to reconnect with a part of themselves that had been put on the backburner. I had visited Patagonia years before, and came back to help lead the trip as if pulled by the force of a magnet.
The symphonic peaks and endless steppe drew me back to Patagonia, but it was also something else. I think it had something to do with Patagonia's power to decenter you, to render you insignificant, to destabilize your sense of importance. Its sheer scale—the magnitude and improbability of its angles, the electric green barba de viejo moss strung across its trees—forces a shift in perspective. There's something both alluring and a little scary about allowing your sense of self to crack apart.
Patagonia's landscape has long held such power; now, it also enjoys new legal protections. In late January, Chilean president Michelle Bachelet signed into creation two massive new National Parks in the country's rugged south: Pumalín and Patagonia National Parks. Together, the new parks will preserve nearly 10 million acres of wildlands, an area three times the size of Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks combined.
The creation of Patagonia National Park is one of the biggest conservation success stories in history—and it's as controversial as it is ambitious. The vision for the park has been spearheaded by American conservationist Kristine Tompkins and her late husband Doug Tompkins (co-founder of The North Face clothing company), who donated 1 million acres of private land to the park. The new National Park represents a monumental shift in how humans will interact with this landscape. As such, the project has sparked furious debate. Some people have resisted the conversion of rangeland to wilderness preservation, while others have embraced this evolution.
"The way you understand the region's history impacts how you conceptualize its proper use," Nadine Lehner, co-founder of Chulengo and former executive director of Conservación Patagonica, told us around the fire that soggy Christmas night.
Consider, to take just one example, the Jeinimeni Valley through which we were trekking, which makes up the northern extent of the new Park. It has only existed as a national reserve for the last 20 years. Before that, settlers utilized the area for agricultural, often to graze sheep. In pre-Columbian times, the nomadic Tehuelche people inhabited the area, traveling to the highlands to hunt game. Each of these periods marks a shift in humans' engagement with the landscape. Each has had a different impact.
The word "Patagonia" evokes images of wildness. Many think of Patagonia as an icon of the last "untouched" places. Words like untrammeled and unspoiled, virgin and pristine, punctuate descriptions of the place. Is Patagonia wild? Absolutely. The landscape boasts snow-scoured peaks, hanging glacial lakes, and unfathomably blue waters. Is it untouched? Parts of it. Is it wilderness? That's a loaded question.
The fact that we took refuge on Christmas evening beneath the leaky roof of a refugio once used by sheep herders to graze their flocks speaks to the complexity of those questions. To arrive at our camp, we bushwhacked across thorny understory in shin-deep mud and waded through waist-deep rivers clean enough to drink from. The sound of glaciers pouring melt-water through rock made up the soundscape.
It was easy to imagine this place was remote enough to have eluded human impact. But the romanticized notion of it being "untouched" dissolved as we took shelter beneath the tin roof built by shepherds in decades past.
"[Ranching] has been so much more than just an economic center in the region," Lehner said. "Ranching has been both the primary economic activity and the cultural identity for a very long time."
In an effort to re-wild the Valle Chacabuco landscape, which now forms the centerpiece of the new Park, Conservación Patagonica removed 25,000 sheep, 5,000 cattle, and 400 miles of fence, moving what once was Chile's third largest sheep ranch out of production and into conservation.
"If you go around the region and ask people what they love about this place, the word that comes up over and over is 'tranquilidad' or 'calmness,'" Lehner told us. "Tourism is a complicated game because it has the potential to disrupt that."
Independently of the park's creation, the region has undergone vast changes. The road into the area is improving, and 3G reaches more places than ever before. The region's tranquility will evolve regardless of an increase in eco-tourism. By affording protection to an area that might otherwise have faced development, the park may ultimately play a role in safeguarding the region's tranquilidad, though it may look different than in years past.
The morning after Christmas, I woke early to head to the river where I watched the sun slide across the water braiding down the valley. A Magellan goose regarded me through inky eyes as she herded four chicks into the water. Across the river, a waterfall cascaded into glacial moraine. The spray caught the sun and threw a shimmering brocade of light onto slick black rock.
Enormous forces created this place: glaciers had carved entire valleys as rivers moved tons of rock. I thought about home, and what it means to feel at home in a wild place. How do we foster a sense of belonging—not of the natural world belonging to us, but of us belonging to the natural world?
One answer: Create experiences that remove the boundaries that ordinarily stretch between us and the natural world. Take away the cars, phones and faucets. Take away the beds that separate our backs from the ground. Invite our bodies into the presence borne from plunging into glacial lakes. Dissolve the distance that spreads between us and our human-as-animal selves.
"I hope that our generation comes up with a new word for conservation," Lehner said the night before as the fire died. "Because it's easy to think that conservation ends with creating national parks, when really it's just the beginning. We're standing on the shoulders of giants to be able to walk in these places, and the work each of us needs to do when we walk away from them is different. To borrow a phrase from Doug Tompkins, 'It is important to consider how each of us will pay rent to live on this planet.'"
For each of us, this work will manifest in diverse ways. Lehner's exhortation sounded to me like an invitation to dig into. So I dove head first into the river. I shocked my body into the present and allowed my tangled thoughts about wilderness to turn toward the reality of the present: shivering, cold and at home in a truly wild place.
WHERE The Avilés Trail, Patagonia National Park, Aysén, Patagonia, Chile
GETTING THERE It's not easy to get really far away. From the Chilean capital of Santiago, fly to Balmaceda. Make your way to Coyhaique, take a bus to Puerto Ibañez, catch the ferry across Lago General Carrera to Chile Chico, and find a kind soul to take you across Patagonia's eastern steppe to the trailhead at Lago Jeinimeni.
WHEN TO VISIT The window between November and March is your best bet—though expect to be hailed on any time of the year.
CAMPING You'll find puestos—or lean-to's—along the route that offer varying degrees of shelter. Fires are not permitted outside these structures. Leave your iodine and water filters behind; the water here is as clean as you'll ever find.
SURVIVAL TIPS Know proper river-crossing techniques. Bring trekking poles to help in deep crossings. Make sure to buy a copy of Map for Good's recently completed topo map of the area, and know how to read it.
WHAT TO WEAR Don't forget your gaiters! You'll be able to gloat when your bare-legged companions spend hours picking burs out of soggy socks.
ADDITIONAL INFO Read about Tompkins Conservation's work to protect ten million acres—an area the size of Switzerland—here. Want to experience a polar plunge in one of these parks for yourself? Sign up for a Chulengo expedition here.
Reposted with permission from our media associate SIERRA Magazine.
- How the Wonder of Nature Can Inspire Social Justice Activism ›
- 10 Million Acres of New National Parks Created in Chile ›
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet signed a decree Monday to create five new national parks and expand three others, following a pledge made last year with Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, the president and CEO of Tompkins Conservation, to dramatically expand national parkland in the South American country.
More than 10 million acres of new national parklands will be created in Chile, approximately three times the size of Yellowstone and Yosemite combined, or about the size of Switzerland. Bachelet said that would increase national parklands in Chile by 38.5 percent.
The expansion includes 1 million acres of land donated by Tompkins Conservation, in what is believed to be the largest private donation of land ever from a private entity to a country.
The decree included the creation of Pumalín Park and Patagonia Park, the conservation organization's two flagship projects, while expanding others to help create the "Route of Parks," a 17-park route spanning more than 1,500 miles from Puerto Montt to Cape Horn in the continent's southern tip.
"This is not only an unprecedented preservation effort," Bachelet said at the official ceremony in Pumalín Park. "It's also an invitation to imagine other ways of rationally occupying our lands, of creating other economic activities, of using natural resources without preying on them. In other words, it's about generating sustainable development."
McDivitt Tompkins, the former CEO of Patagonia, along with her late husband Doug Tompkins, who founded North Face and Esprit, have dedicated a quarter of a century towards conservation efforts and land acquisition to ensure protection of wildlife and wildlands in Chile and Argentina.
Doug Tompkins died in December 2015 in a kayaking accident but his conservation legacy continues. To date, Tompkins Conservation has donated roughly two million acres of land for conservation purposes, and together with governments and other partners, has protected roughly 13 million acres in total.
"I am proud of my husband Doug and his vision which continues to guide us, in addition to our entire team, for completing these two national parks and the broader network, a major milestone of our first 25 years of work," McDivitt Tompkins said. "While we will continue to help promote and safeguard these parks, we are beginning to turn our attention to more new conservation and rewilding projects in Chile and Argentina as we work to save and restore big, wild and connected ecosystems."
By James Blair
Local residents and environmentalists in Chile are enjoying a prolonged New Year's celebration, thanks to two major legal decisions that will protect the country's free-flowing rivers. Chile's justice system put a final stop to two controversial large hydroelectric dam developments in Chilean Patagonia: 1) Mediterráneo S.A.'s run-of-the-river project proposed on tributaries of the Puelo River near the city of Cochamó; and 2) Energía Austral SpA's three-dam power plant proposed on the Cuervo River in the Aysén region.
DE ÚLTIMO MINUTO!!!! La Corte Suprema pone la lápida definitiva al proyecto de Haggeman y Cox !!! SE TERMINÓ MEDITE… https://t.co/Be6DAPGjYU— Puelo sin Torres (@Puelo sin Torres)1514598681.0
This double victory came on the heels of several significant green accomplishments in 2017. This included the opening of South America's first geothermal plant, a gift of more than 400,000 hectares (ha) (roughly 1 million acres) of land in Patagonia for conservation, and the Environmental Court's final ruling to uphold the momentous 2014 decision against HidroAysén's proposal to build five mega-dams on the Baker and Pascua Rivers. The latter event was the culmination of a decade-long struggle between grassroots activists and HidroAysén's two parent companies, Colbún and Endesa Chile, who just recently were forced to liquidate the hotly contested project.
The Chilean government's commitment to biodiversity conservation and renewable energy earned outgoing President Michelle Bachelet the title of UN Champion of the Earth. However, recently re-elected President Sebastián Piñera, a neoconservative billionaire, has followed a pattern of prioritizing free markets over free rivers. To safeguard Patagonia's rivers from harmful development in the long term, it will be critical for his government to go a step further and transfer water rights back to local communities, which would support conservation with Indigenous knowledge of the environment.
Here are more details about each of these two projects and why Chile's authorities put a stop to them.
"Puelo Without Towers": Upholding the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Puelo River in Chilean PatagoniaAmanda Maxwell
Originating in the Puelo Lake of the Argentine Andes, the Puelo River flows west toward the Pacific Ocean in confluence with the Manso and Torrentoso Rivers. It is also the lifeblood of the local economy in nearby Cochamó, which centers on ecotourism and fishing. As the below documentary film shows, Cochamó community members and their mayor were deeply divided over the project, which risked degrading the landscape in order to construct a 60 kilometer-long (37 miles) transmission line connecting Mediterráneo S.A.'s $400 million, 210 MW run-of-the-river plant to the main grid in Puerto Montt.
The campaign to protect the Puelo River from the hydroelectric energy complex had become a protracted legal battle. Under the banner "Puelo Sin Torres" (Puelo without Towers), local community members united with environmental lawyers, activists, members of Parliament and celebrities to block the project.
The Mediterráneo dam project's evaluation process and environmental impact assessment bedeviled the environmental alliance with a series of legal obstacles. Ultimately, the Supreme Court upheld the Third Environmental Tribunal's resolution that Mediterráneo's contracted anthropological study of the socio-ecological impacts on Indigenous people was inadequate. The Tribunal accepted the claim of José Cayún Quiroz—an Indigenous environmentalist from the Mapuche community of Domingo Cayún Panicheo located in the Los Lagos region—who pointed out a series of messy errors in the study's methodology. Mediterráneo's consultants had carried out two studies, comprising 37 families. But out of that pool, eight families were excluded from the analysis, and 14 more families were not even registered.
The politics of responsible decision-making with respect to Indigenous claims to sovereignty and territory have become particularly contentious in the borderlands of Argentina and Chile. Land disputes have turned deadly, sparking mass protests and social unrest. While the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples requires free, prior and informed consent for use of territory and natural resources, the Chilean government has labeled Mapuche people as "terrorists."
Rather than righting these historical wrongs, Mediterráneo and its Environmental Evaluation Service insisted that their research design necessitated uncomprehensive forms of qualitative data collection. They also acknowledged the presence of Indigenous communities, yet maintained—against an abundance of firsthand testimony—that they would not be affected by the development. Ultimately, the ethnographic evidence was insufficient to support Mediterráneo's claims.
Preserving Life in Aysén
Lake Yulton in Aysén, Chile
The Cuervo River hydroelectric power plant proposal would have been located in the remote Patagonian region of Aysén, which features stunning landscapes with exceptional biodiversity. The project's owner Energía Austral—a joint venture between Swiss mining company Glencore (66 percent) and the Australian firm Origin Energy (34 percent)—put it up for sale after it went through environmental permitting in 2013. The $733 million, 640 MW project would have included two dams, flooding 13,000 ha (32,000 acres), and joining the Yulton and Meullin lakes. However, the Environmental Tribunal annulled Cuervo's environmental assessment because the project's owner's mitigation measures for the loss of forest cover and wetlands were insufficient.
For local citizens of Aysén, the Cuervo project was the latest iteration in a series of proposals dating back to 1990 that Chile's environmental authorities have ultimately rejected. In resolute opposition to the dam, residents formed groups like the Coalición Ciudadana por Aisén Reserva de Vida (Citizens' Coalition for the Aysén Life Reserve), and together they pointed out why the project was so poorly planned. First, in addition to the obscene flooding of lakes and forests, the dam would have been built on the active Liquiñe-Ofqui fault line. The project would have put the nearest city of Puerto Aysén—located just 46 kilometers (28.6 miles) downstream—at serious risk. And second, similar to the above lack of consent in the Puelo River case, Energía Austral failed to meet the International Labor Organization's (ILO) Convention 169 standards on Indigenous consultation for the Cuervo project. This made the false equivalencies in the company's proposed compensation measures for ecosystem loss especially egregious.
According to the Environmental Court of Valdivia, "The Owner has not been able to determine in a qualitative or quantitative manner that the forests or wetlands to be compensated are equivalent."
In addition to annulling the environmental permit, the sentence therefore orders the Committee of Ministers to reopen the procedure. If the company is unable to verify its proposed compensation of ecosystem loss, then the committee must process the previous appeals. For now, citizens and environmentalists are hailing the decision as another "tremendous success" in the popular Patagonian struggle against large hydro.
Restoring Justice Through Water Rights
These positive legal decisions give much cause for celebration, but they also mark a significant turning point in the global movement to protect Patagonia's rivers. While we should certainly relish the moment and express our contentment, it bears reminding that the fight is not over. Companies like Mediterráneo still hold considerable water concessions in Chile.
Chile's entrenched corporate elites have a clear interest in continuing their foul legacy of socio-ecological destruction. Nonetheless, the incoming government has an opportunity to provide a healthier future for Patagonia and the planet, by building on this new hopeful trend and transferring water rights back to Indigenous Peoples and civil society.
Local residents in Chilean Patagonia
Want to learn more about the ongoing threat of hydroelectric energy development on rivers and biodiverse populations in Chilean Patagonia? Check out our interactive map.
Trump is expected to speak at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City at 12:30 p.m. According to reports, he will announce the gutting of the 1.3 million acre Bears Ears National Monument by 85 percent and the slashing of the 1.9 million acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by 50 percent. The move will be the largest elimination of protected areas in U.S. history.
National monuments can be designated by presidents under the Antiquities Act, which puts the lands off limits to drilling, mining, logging and ranching. Trump says former presidents abused the act.
Bears Ears was designated in 2016 by President Barack Obama. Grand Staircase-Escalante was created by President Bill Clinton in 1996.
Trump's plan to shrink the two monuments came after a review by Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke that the president ordered in April. Fossil fuel-linked advocates have long targeted the areas for oil, gas and coal resources within and around the monuments' boundaries. According to Zinke's leaked memo, Grand Staircase-Escalante sits atop "several billion tons" of coal. Coal and oil reserves also surround Bears Ears.
Trump's decision was made despite widespread public support of the designations. More than 2.8 million people submitted comments to the Interior Department urging the administration to preserve protections for the lands.
Over the weekend, more than 5,000 people rallied at the Utah State Capitol to protest Trump's decision.
"Flatly, Trump does not have the legal authority to gut our national monuments nor does he have the support of the people of Utah to do so. Thousands of Utahns raised their voices today, in recognition of the cultural, archaeological, and environmental significance of these areas," Sierra Club Utah Chapter Director Ashley Soltysiak said of Saturday's demonstration. "Today's rally showed the strength of support for Tribal sovereignty and Utah's public lands."
A protest is also planned at the State Capitol during the president's visit today.
Text UTAH to 52886 for details on Monday’s protest when Trump arrives in SLC. #SaveGrandStaircase #StandWithBearsEars— SUWA (@SUWA)1512249911.0
Monument supporters warn that reducing the land's borders and opening them up to drilling, mining and other development would destroy Native American cultural and archaeological sites and lead to loss of wildlife.
As Bruce Babbitt, the Secretary of Interior from 1993 to 2001 and the Democratic governor of Arizona from 1978 to 1987, eloquently wrote in a New York Times op-ed published Friday:
Mr. Trump's plans add up to the largest elimination of protected areas in American history. He is a vandal in our midst, coming in person to lay waste to the land. This theft of our heritage should awaken us to the damage being piled up across our public lands under this administration.
If he succeeds, tens of thousands of Native American sacred sites in southern Utah will be at renewed risk of looting. Red rock canyon lands will face the prospect of being stripped for coal and drilled for oil and gas. And the wild places where we hike and hunt and find solitude may not be there for future generations to do the same.
Native American tribes such as the Navajo, Hopi, Pueblo of Zuni, Ute Mountain and Ute Indians that consider Bears Ears sacred territory have vowed legal action.
Reuters reported that Republican Congressman Rob Bishop of Utah, chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, is expected to introduce legislation after Trump's announcement to carry out the cuts. However, the measure's chance of passing the Republican-controlled body is unclear.
Senator Tom Udall from New Mexico promised he would try to stop Trump's cuts.
"[President Trump's] ignorance and disrespect diminish the office of president of the United States," Udall said. "He will be challenged in court, and I will fight him every step of the way in my capacity as democratic leader on Senate Indian Affairs and the Interior Department Appropriations Subcommittee."
Environmental groups as well as outdoor clothing company Patagonia are also expected to fight Trump's action in court.
"Since taking office, the Trump administration has abandoned its responsibility to protect America's public lands for our children and our grandchildren, and they've rejected the voices of millions of Americans," said Patagonia president and CEO Rose Marcario. "Removing protections for federal lands could result in permanent destruction of these treasured places and could jeopardize access for all of us. As a result, Patagonia will continue our fight to protect Bears Ears National Monument in the courts."
By Mary Mazzoni
In 2013, shoppers were reacquainted with the tragic story of their clothing when a massive factory collapse claimed the lives of more than 1,100 Bangladeshi garment workers.
The nonprofit Fashion Revolution, formed in response to that disaster, continues to track the apparel industry's progress on environmental stewardship and human rights. But four years later, big brands are still not doing enough to disclose their efforts to customers, the organization concluded in a recent report.
Some former corporate bogeymen like Adidas, Nike and H&M are moving in the right direction, but big labels are playing catch-up compared to newcomers and competitors that were sustainable from the start. Before you refresh that summer wardrobe, consult our list and spend your dollar where it counts.