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Amazon announced that its carbon footprint rose 15 percent in 2019, meaning the online retail giant emits the carbon equivalent of running 13 coal fired power plants all year, according to the CBC. That also included an 18 percent rise in emissions from fossil fuels.
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The demands of feeding a planet rapidly careening toward 10 billion people, coupled with the environmental degradation that industry and development has caused, has left much of the world's soil depleted of nutrients. A professor who studies soil science and is looking to improve the dirt for farmers around the world has been awarded the 2020 World Food Prize for his work, as NPR reported.
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How an Environmental Justice Documentary Is Building Solidarity in the Midst of the Racial and Health Crisis
By Tracy L. Barnett
A soon-to-be-released feature film exemplifies how independent media initiatives can be powerful tools for social and environmental justice organizing. Challenging the isolation and impotence that many are feeling in the face of the current health and racial crises, the internationally acclaimed documentary The Condor & The Eagle and its impact campaign "No More Sacrificed Communities" bring us together in these challenging times – reminding us of our deep interconnectedness with the Earth and one another.
A PROFOUND WORK OF CLIMATE JOURNALISM<p>Oscar-winning editor and producer Douglas Blush says: "This documentary takes the struggle for climate justice beyond the standard borders of separate nations using thrilling cinematography, deeply personal stories and the urgency of tomorrow's headlines. <em>The Condor & The Eagle</em> is both a profound work of climate journalism and an exhilarating, emotional adventure film."<br></p>
Casey Camp-Horinek, Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma, left, with Melina Laboucan_Massimo, Lubicon Cree First Nation of Alberta, in the front row of the half-million-strong People's Climate March in New York, 2014. Screenshot / The Condor & The Eagle
IMPACT CAMPAIGN: "NO MORE SACRIFICED COMMUNITIES"<p>Indigenous leaders, environmental groups (including Amazon Watch, Sierra Club, Extinction Rebellion), divestment and interfaith coalitions (including Interfaith Power and Light, Unitarian Universalists) are <a href="https://thecondorandtheeagle.com/events/" target="_blank">hosting impressive online events</a>, presenting the film to large audiences along with a live-screen discussion with film and movement protagonists. In the weeks and months ahead, the film's impact campaign, "No More Sacrificed Communities," will explore how media highlighting the voices from impacted communities can compel a shift from witnessing environmental destruction to practical actions for sustainable, community-based initiatives.</p> <p>Each of more than a dozen online events is hosted by a different organization and offers the opportunity to raise funds for key environmental justice groups and impacted communities that are leading the charge against destructive fossil fuel projects.</p>
At the Red Nation International Film Festival. Left to right: Festival director Joanelle Romero, co-director Clement Guerra, film protagonist Bryan Parras, Executive Producer Jacqueline Garcia and Impact Partner Kat Lo, Eaton Workshop.
INTERNATIONAL FILM RELEASE<p>Since its premiere at the Woodstock Film Festival in October 2019, <em>The Condor & the Eagle</em> has been selected by more than 50 film festivals and has won 12 awards, most notably Best Environmental Documentary at the 2019 Red Nation International Film Festival in Beverly Hills, California.<br></p> <p>The film's international release date is set for Wednesday, July 1, and it will be available for rent on the <a href="https://www.filmsforaction.org/watch/the-condor-and-the-eagle/" target="_blank">Films For Action</a> website. That day also marks the film's Latin American premiere with "<a href="https://event.webinarjam.com/register/93/xyg1yuw9?fbclid=IwAR2pNe5jKZJ3jXlmHROc8ifD1JtxQkKNG1QB2xx41WST7XrL7knai_kGnHU" target="_blank">Defending the Defenders of the Mother Earth / Defendiendo las Defensoras de la Madre Tierra</a>," a bilingual screening event featuring Bertha "Bertita" Zúñiga Cáceres of Honduras, daughter of the environmental martyr Berta Cáceres, and the director, among others.</p>
A MESSAGE FROM THE FILMMAKERS<p>The film was directed and produced by Clement Guerra, a 37-year-old French international marketing manager, and his German wife Sophie. The couple left their comfortable careers in Europe and took their savings to live in a camper van and spend five years documenting the Indigenous-led climate justice movement.</p><p>"We don't want to be 'extractivist' filmmakers, but rather ones who work hand-in-hand with communities," Clement told The Esperanza Project in a recent interview, <a href="https://www.esperanzaproject.com/2020/native-american-culture/the-condor-the-eagle-takes-flight/" target="_blank"><em>The Condor & The Eagle' Takes Flight</em></a>. "On a personal level, this whole experience helped us face our own privilege, and we quickly realized that the pollution outside reflected the ego-toxicity we are carrying on the inside. We have been conditioned to believe that we are skin-encapsulated egos, that we are each an 'I' separate from every other 'I.' Thanks to our journey and the process of making this film, we came to realize that we all depend on each other; we are not separate."<br></p><p>You can support the team impact work <a href="https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=W44L44WM4ELDW&source=url" target="_blank">HERE</a>.</p>
Scientists say reusable cups, bags and containers are safe to use as long as people employ basic hygiene. Igishevamaria / iStock / Getty Images Plus
The response to the global pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus has seen many states and countries reverse course on their efforts to reduce the ubiquity of single-use plastics. Now, it seems single-use plastics are a mainstay of the front lines in the fight against spreading COVID-19.
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By Tara Lohan
With its white-sand beaches and glittery high-rises, Miami is still a vacation hotspot. But lapping at those shores is another reality. The city is also a "possible future Atlantis, and a metonymic stand-in for how the rest of the developed world might fail — or succeed — in the climate-changed future," wrote Miami journalist Mario Alejandro Ariza in his forthcoming book, Disposable City: Miami's Future on the Shores of Climate Catastrophe.
Flooding in Miami's Brickell neighborhood in 2017. Phillip Pessar / CC BY 2.0<p>Ariza explains how decades of racist policies and real-estate practices have pushed communities of color away from the beach and the newly emerging suburbs. They ended up sandwiched in between, in an area of high ground that now looks enticing to developers.</p><p>This new pressure is increasing gentrification in communities already barely surviving. It's liable to get worse, too, Ariza explains. Between $15-$23 billion worth of property may be underwater in 30 years. The market has yet to broadly reflect that, but developers are building on borrowed time, even as the lower-income communities are already feeling the pinch.</p><p>"Everything we know about climate change indicates that it pulls at society's loose ends," said Ariza. These cracks in vulnerability could become chasms if the right policies aren't enacted as the city works to mitigate and adapt.</p><p>By the end of <em>Disposable City, </em>it's likely readers won't be wildly optimistic about Miami's chances. But they will be armed with a deeper view of what's at stake and the complexities of trying to solve an environmental and social challenge of this magnitude. Even if the city itself does everything right, it still needs the state of Florida to embrace climate reality and the rest of the world to meet science-based targets for greenhouse gas reductions. Efforts are underway, including a <a href="https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article243276326.html" target="_blank">newly released draft plan</a> from the Army Corps of Engineers to spend $4.6 billion on sea walls and other projects to protect businesses and homes from storm surges. But much more will be needed.</p><p>In Miami these next decades will be fight or flight. Or a combination of both. And he muses on what that would look like. And feel like. Ariza himself is an immigrant, having come to Miami from the Dominican Republic as a kid. He already carries the grief of having left a homeland — a feeling that half the city's population also knows intimately.</p><p>"Now we have to face the fact that climate change may well force us to scatter again," he wrote.</p><p>The end of the book turns from this hard reality to a future vision as Ariza shifts to a fictional envisioning. No spoilers, but it's safe to say Miami in 2100 will be a changed place. And that's at least one thing we know for sure about this warming world — it is a changing one.</p><p>Ariza's deep dive into Miami is an intricate look at <em>his</em> vulnerable city, but it's likely to get readers thinking about their own. What will your hometown look like in 80 years? What do you want it to look like? What will you do to make that hope a reality?</p>
The Vatican urged Catholics to closely consider where they invest their money and to take a close look at the environmental impact of the companies they may be shareholders in, as Reuters reported.
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By Paul Bierman and Amanda H. Schmidt
For most of the past 60 years, the United States and Cuba have had very limited diplomatic ties. President Barack Obama started the process of normalizing U.S.-Cuba relations, but the Trump administration reversed this policy, sharply reducing interactions between the two countries.
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A Test Case in Sustainable Farming<p>Cuban rivers run from the mountains to the ocean through cow-filled pastures, fields of sugar cane and rice paddies, <a href="https://doi.org/10.5343/bms.2017.1026" target="_blank">forests, wetlands and mangroves</a>. Along the way, groundwater seeps into river channels from below. When heavy thunderstorms strike, water pours off the land.</p><p>These flows carry soil and dissolved material into streams, which deliver this load to the coast. Cuba's coastlines have abundant mangrove thickets, underwater seagrass beds and some of the Caribbean's <a href="https://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/cuba/cuba-s-coral-reefs" target="_blank">best-preserved coral reefs</a>.</p><p>We became interested in teaming with Cuban scientists because of their nation's country-wide experiment in organic agriculture dating back to the late 1980s. When the Soviet Union, Cuba's former trading partner, broke apart, Cuban farmers lost access to fertilizers, pesticides and heavy equipment, and had to <a href="https://theconversation.com/cubas-sustainable-agriculture-at-risk-in-u-s-thaw-56773" target="_blank">adopt a more ecologically based aproach</a>. Could their experience provide a blueprint for more sustainable approaches to feeding the world?</p><p>We used the <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/" target="_blank">ResearchGate</a> network to find Cuban collaborators. Supported by the <a href="http://nsf.gov/" target="_blank">U.S. National Science Foundation</a> and the <a href="https://www.ceac.cu/" target="_blank">Centro de Estudios Ambientales de Cienfuegos</a>, the research we are doing in Cuba builds on measurements we have done all over the world.</p>
Less Fertilizer Runoff in Cuba<p>For this study we analyzed water samples from each of 25 rivers in central Cuba, looking for elements from across the periodic table and for bacteria. Our <a href="https://doi.org/10.1130/GSATG419A.1" target="_blank">first results</a> show that Cuba's sustainable agricultural practices minimize the impact of agriculture on river water quality by reducing the amount of nitrogen fertilizer that washes off from fields into local waters.</p><p>Cuban farmers use about half as much fertilizer for each acre of farmland than their U.S. counterparts (3 versus 6 tons per square kilometer per year in 2016). As a result, rivers in central Cuba contain much lower concentrations of dissolved nitrogen than the Mississippi River, which drains <a href="https://www.nps.gov/miss/riverfacts.htm" target="_blank">more than 1 million square miles</a> of America's agricultural heartland. On average, the Cuban rivers we analyzed contained 0.76 milligrams of nitrogen per liter of water, compared to 1.3 milligrams per liter in the Mississippi River from 2012-2019.</p><p>American crop yields per acre are higher than Cuba's, thanks partly to fertilizer use, but the trade-off is stark. Nutrients that pour off U.S. farm fields and flow down the Mississippi River create the <a href="https://www.noaa.gov/media-release/noaa-forecasts-very-large-dead-zone-for-gulf-of-mexico" target="_blank">Gulf of Mexico dead zone</a>, a patch of ocean where oxygen levels are so low that almost no marine life survives. The dead zone forms every summer, fed by spring rainfall, and has covered an <a href="https://www.noaa.gov/media-release/large-dead-zone-measured-in-gulf-of-mexico" target="_blank">average of 6,000 square miles</a> in recent years.</p><p>Cuba's rivers do contain other pollutants. We found high levels of bacteria and sediment in most of the rivers we sampled. DNA analysis suggests that at least some of these bacteria were from the guts of cows. We saw many cows during our field work in central Cuba, and those animals had free access to local streams. Simple solutions, like fencing river banks, could greatly lower bacteria levels in surface waters.</p><p>We also found naturally high levels of calcium, sodium and magnesium in Cuban river water. These materials come from rocks that are naturally dissolved by rainwater. None of them are hazardous to humans, although they might leave scale in tea kettles and alter the water's taste.</p>
Enabling More Scientific Cooperation<p>Although we've done field work on Greenland's ice sheet and in rice paddies of southwest China, this work in Cuba has been a uniquely valuable experience for us, both professionally and personally. We found Cuban culture to be warm and welcoming, even to Americans whose leaders for the most part have shunned the Cuban people for decades.</p><p>Sharing and teamwork are key parts of Cuban culture. When we brought out American snacks during our first visit to Cuba, our collaborators insisted these gifts must be shared with the entire lab staff. In the tropical January sunshine, scientists, technicians, secretaries and directors gathered outside to eat Vermont maple candies and blueberry jam.</p><p>We view this project as <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.367.6483.1274" target="_blank">science diplomacy</a> in action. But our Cuban partners cannot visit us until the United States agrees to grant visas to Cuban scientists. The Trump administration is going in the opposite direction: It has <a href="https://www.state.gov/united-states-further-restricts-air-travel-to-cuba/" target="_blank">suspended commercial and public charter flights</a> to Cuba from the U.S. and imposed sanctions that are designed to <a href="https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/cuba_fact_sheet_20190906.pdf" target="_blank">deny Cuba access to hard currency</a>.</p><p>As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps around the world, scientific cooperation is more important than ever. To us, it doesn't make sense to increase sanctions against a country that has more doctors per capita than any country on Earth and has <a href="https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-response-why-cuba-is-such-an-interesting-case-135749" target="_blank">responded more successfully than many nations</a> to COVID-19. We believe that science in the U.S. would gain from reopening communication with Cuba and sharing knowledge that could help heal the global community. </p>
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By Danielle Nierenberg
Following the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, people around the United States are protesting racism, police brutality, inequality, and violence in their own communities. No matter your political affiliation, the violence by multiple police departments in this country is unacceptable.
Monday is World Oceans Day, but how can you celebrate our blue planet while social distancing?
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