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By Lamfu Fabrice Yengong and Sylvie Djacbou Deugoue
Biodiversity loss is a global crisis. In May last year, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) warned that over 1,000,000 species are threatened with extinction worldwide. On May 22, the International Day of Biodiversity, it is important to recall the silent victims of our country's obsession for industrial growth at the expense of our forests.
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By Sylvie Djacbou Deugoue, Greenpeace Africa
When I think of the forest, I remember playing in it. We would build huts of sticks and moss, and vehicles from bamboo trees. Getting lost in the forest was a real adventure. We used to turn the forest into a navigation game. We could get a sense of orientation without a compass or a GPS.
Sylvie Djacbou Deugoue, in the rainforest in the south region of Cameroon, 2017. Greenpeace Africa<p>I would go with my brothers, sisters and our friends into the nearby forest to collect seasonal fruits off the trees (bush mango, oranges, lemons). We would collect traditional medicinal herbs and scrape the tree barks with our grandma to treat our stomach aches, especially after eating too much of those fruits.</p><p>Playing and jumping in the bushes, looking for food and building materials, these were some of our favorite moments as children in Cameroon. The forest served me with free therapy sessions. When I was sad or needed to reflect, I used to go and rest under a tree. Alone, I could enjoy the shadow created by the branches. Listening to the squirrels' feet clambering in the trees or the birds singing, chirping, croaking and shrilling, it was a peaceful treatment for my mind.</p><p><span>Life seemed so simple then. We had a place where we found ourselves connected. The air was pure and fresh and we did not know many of the diseases we do now. The tranquil environment in the forest was reflected in the unity of our communities. There were hardly any conflicts over land and when they occurred they were solved peacefully around a fresh cup of palm wine.</span></p>
Sylvie Djacbou Deugoue, in the Baka house in the south region of Cameroon, 2019. Greenpeace Africa<p>Joining the fight through the forest campaign of Greenpeace Africa six years ago gave me an opportunity to defend my forest and stand for the rights of the people living here. Working with communities and learning to see the forest through their eyes, hearing their cry the forest is destroyed in the name of "development," makes me more eager to continue to stand with them and for their rights.</p><p>Here in Cameroon, many of the plantations that have replaced our natural forests are in fact tree monocultures. But not everyone understands the difference between a tree monoculture plantation and a natural forest. Even some governments. By replacing natural forests with monoculture tree plantations, not only are human communities and endangered species put at risk, but enormous stocks of carbon are released into the air.</p><p>Carbon is mostly stored in the thick stems and deep roots of trees that are hundreds of years old. Planting new trees to replace ancient forests is not a solution. It just serves to greenwash the conscience of executives in oil and gas companies, <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-world-economic-forum-davos-switzerland/" target="_blank">declaring one trillion trees</a> will be planted and "offsetting" CO2 emissions from extractive industries with artificial forests is part of the problem. Planting trees with one hand, while the other one is pumping oil out of the ground is like putting a band-aid on an arm that has been dismembered.</p><p>Only a natural forest can be home to rich biodiversity, including rapidly disappearing medicinal plants. Only a natural forest can be a home to Indigenous and local forest communities. The solution requires acknowledging their unique role in good management of forests and recognizing their rights over their land. Give them back the forest. Ensure their participation and inclusion in all policies.</p><p>Seeing the scale of forest destruction in my land and understanding the risks for the entire planet, celebrating my birthday has become more difficult in recent years. I hope that this time around, my cry as someone who always loves to visit the forest — along with the cries of Indigenous and local communities who must live in the forest — will be heard by many more of you. That would be the perfect gift for my birthday. It would help bring a smile to my face and to so many more.</p>
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Cole Taylor
Storytelling is the heart of activism and community building. Part of my story is standing on the Fred Hartman Bridge and blocking the Houston Ship Channel for 18 hours on Sept. 12. Why did I feel compelled to do something like this? It really comes down to the many stories that make up my life, community and passion.
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By Kaitlin Grable
I was born on the island of O'ahu, 98 years after the U.S. supported an illegal coup in my hometown of Honolulu to overthrow Queen Liliuokalani and steal Hawaiian land. I was born in a Hawai'i that is radically and tragically different from the Hawai'i of my ancestors.
But in Hawai’i the continued legacies of colonialism and imperialism are destroying our ‘aina.<p>Countless Hawaiian sacred sites have been bulldozed, dismantled, developed and even used for military target practice.</p><p>Many Kanaka (Indigenous Hawaiians) are passionately fighting to raise awareness about the injustices they face, such as racism and displacement, while seeking to gain back control of their land. And right now, the world is watching as Hawaiians, both Indigenous Kanaka and non-Indigenous Kama'aina, are taking a stand against scientific imperialism in the form of the Thirty Meter Telescope.</p><p>These protectors, the Ku Kia'i Mauna, have been steadfast in their presence, creating blockades with their own bodies to prevent road access for weeks now.</p>
But this is about so much more than the desecration of sacred lands. This is about dismantling the systems of colonialism and imperialism that have destroyed and exploited our precious natural resources, and continue to do so with no regard for people or planet.<p>Hulali Kau, a writer and advocate working in Native Hawaiian and environmental law, said it best: </p><blockquote>"To anyone that continues to try to frame TMT as a science versus culture argument, I would say that this struggle over the future of Mauna Kea is actually about how we manage resources and align our laws and values of Hawaii to connect a past where the state has subjected its Indigenous people to continued mismanagement of it lands with its uncertain future."</blockquote>
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.
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<p>One of the hottest candidates for creating the right conditions are deep sea "<a href="https://www.whoi.edu/know-your-ocean/ocean-topics/seafloor-below/hydrothermal-vents/" target="_blank">hydrothermal</a>" 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.</p><p>Hydrothermal vents were only discovered in 1977 – and astonished scientists with their towering chimneys and bizarre animals discovered around them. <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QffkyLYB_PA" target="_blank">Giant tube worms</a>, bacteria-eating crabs and other surreal creatures somehow thriving at great depths, clustered around columns billowing out "<a href="https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/vents.html" target="_blank">smoking</a>" superheated, mineral-rich seawater. </p><p>This discovery challenged what people thought about life on Earth, and even more so when "alkaline" versions were discovered in 2000. <a href="https://www.usgs.gov/media/images/ph-scale-0" target="_blank">Caustic conditions</a>, similar to weak bleach, or bicarbonate of soda, seemed even more unlikely to support life. Yet they did. </p>
The Lost City: The Real Primordial Soup?<p>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.</p><p>Research shows that these vents are <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080131151856.htm" target="_blank">creating hydrocarbons</a> — 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 <a href="https://www.chemistryworld.com/features/hydrothermal-vents-and-the-origins-of-life/3007088.article" target="_blank">where life started</a>? Is this the real primordial soup?</p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p>
Hydrothermal vents at Dom João De Castro.
Greenpeace / Gavin Newman
Monster Machines at the Ready<p>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.</p><p>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. </p><p>Licenses have already been granted to explore for mining the seafloor with monster machines — which risk wrecking these places before they are even understood.</p>
Underwater footage of seamounts in the Azores, Princess Alice Banks.
A Wake-Up Call<p>The rush to exploit the deep ocean, before we even understand it, has to be a wake-up call.</p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p>
The Esperanza arriving to the Azores for the Lost City Leg of the Pole to Pole Ship Tour.
Barbara Sanchez Palomero / Greenpeace
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?
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.
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.
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.
A woman holds a jar of water from her well, which was contaminated after hydraulic fracturing drilling began near her Washington County farm.
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By Rachelle Adelante
Amid the growing plastic pollution crisis, we see people rising up and taking a stand in a lot of different ways. Plastic pollution protests can range from marching in the streets to more unorthodox methods, such as protest art. Protest art is an important way to create public awareness for issues such as the single-use plastics problem.
Trash Art, Katie Williams.
San Francisco Trash Art<p>She met photographer Jen Fedrizzi while living together at the Convent Arts Collective in San Francisco. Williams gushed over, "Jen had seen some of my performance art and she asked if I'd be interested to collaborate on the topic of plastic pollution. She absolutely reignited my passion for the environment."<br></p><p>The duo first staged a performance art piece on the day after Thanksgiving in 2017 called, <em>Our Sophisticated Denial</em>, which took place in the street front window of the Artists' Television Access Gallery on busy Valencia Street in San Francisco's Mission district. For this performance, Williams and Fedrizzi "drowned" in waste over the course of 5 hours.</p><p>"We actually collected waste from our arts collective, and in that process of collecting waste, rather than throwing it in the bin, we saw firsthand just how much waste was being created. It was shocking to see how much trash you've accumulated. Once you see it, you cannot unsee it." Williams said.</p>
Our Sophisticated Denial, November 2017.
Global Beach Cleanup<p>Beyond creating art pieces out of trash, Williams and Fedrizzi also organized a global beach cleanup and brand audit in collaboration with The Surfrider Foundation, All One Ocean and Zero Waste Youth USA in March of 2019.</p><p>"A brand audit is a little different from a regular beach cleanup," Williams explained, "For a brand audit, you sort the trash and pile it up by the company that created it. At the end, you take photos and post them online tagging the companies. This lets them know that we are holding them accountable and makes their branding synonymous with trash. We want to force corporations to change to alternatives to single-use plastics."</p><p>The <a href="https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/brandaudittoolkit/" target="_blank">brand audit toolkit</a> is available from Break Free From Plastic and can be used for any type of cleanup.</p>
Stop Plastic! Act Now Facebook Group<p>Williams also manages a group on Facebook that posts daily actions for group members to take, such as emailing companies or signing petitions.</p><p>She created the group as a response to the many Zero Waste groups on Facebook, which place an emphasis on individual actions. "I wanted to focus on corporate accountability. I believe that if enough consumers write in and voice their demands, we can make companies listen."</p><p>You can join the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/groups/352655552225678/" target="_blank">Stop Plastic! Act Now</a> group on Facebook.</p>
Love Transcends All Borders<p>From her years of experience traveling and working around the world, Williams came to realize that people, at their very core, are all the same.</p><p>"We share the same desires, wishes, and sorrows," she recognized, "And of course we also have rich diversity and complexity, but at the heart of it, I feel we all share the same human goodness." That is a good thing as it gives us more chance to unite and collaborate towards the same goals.</p><p>"We see people all over the world right now standing up for plastic pollution and climate change," Williams said, "It represents the goodness of people. We do care."</p><p>So many possibilities are out in the horizon and Williams is simply enjoying her free time working as a communications consultant, plotting her next protest art projects. For now, <a href="https://katculture.com/lovesigns/" target="_blank">her latest project</a> emphasizes love and how it transcends beyond borders, languages and anything that divides us.</p>
By Maggie Ellinger-Locke
We only have about a decade to reverse course on the climate crisis. Activism opposing fossil fuel pipelines is needed more than ever. But activists are facing threats to their right to protest in state legislatures across the country. Lawmakers are introducing legislation to restrict the right to protest. These bills are often modeled on resolutions drafted by companies and passed through groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the secretive group of corporate lobbyists trying to rewrite state laws to benefit corporations over people, and are usually supported by law enforcement groups. Advocates are fighting back, urging elected officials to vote against these bills. But even the mere introduction of these bills has the power to chill speech and curtail activism.
By Kaitlin Grable
1. The media still isn’t addressing climate change in a way that matches the urgency of the problem.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQzOTcyOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwOTM4NjQxMX0.PyxOtx5a7Ro5ulyu54cA1BbD8Xr_wBwACq2yvlqIliU/img.jpg?width=980" id="3c06b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e90e28785d09a9774f1d714aa4fc9627" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>Despite years of record-breaking extreme weather, the <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/climate-change/">climate crisis</a> 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.</p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p>
2. We need bold, visionary leaders to beat Trump in 2020.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQzOTczMi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTU5MzQ5NjM1Mn0.8VK5x_61x_RFJwRNTMS6muDt6l5rwhqw1GcO9s5qAUg/img.jpg?width=980" id="47c26" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d4ec7f2eab666878940d19338d661ea1" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p>Here's what a climate-focused debate could reveal:</p><ul> <li>Who supports the Green New Deal and who doesn't;</li></ul><ul> <li>How the candidates will stop the fossil fuel industry's influence on our democracy;</li></ul><ul> <li>Who will push our economy to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy;</li></ul><ul> <li>How candidates will support communities affected by climate disasters;</li></ul><ul><li>Who will make a responsible plan to phase-out fossil fuels while protecting workers.</li></ul>
3. Communities across the country are being badly hurt by the effects of climate change.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQzOTczNC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTU5NDc1OTg3Mn0.JINcQopkr2mbbJkqV1LyrRtRHXEHnYwE4UqGWB9_j3A/img.jpg?width=980" id="3d8dd" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="01b6f982d855885c4e66b65f1afcff94" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p>
4. We only have just over a decade to take drastic action on climate change.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQzOTczNi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzOTkzNjM1MX0.SR3VHsqCtXssRJ81Vxtye6mC9b06fbhrQlgMyI-35bk/img.jpg?width=980" id="efa73" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e79127556a184dde64c447a0c119330d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>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.</p><p>Every day we allow to pass without taking action is one day we come closer to an irreversible ecological tipping point.</p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p>
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By Russell Scott and Zach Boren
The British government's recently-departed shale gas commissioner admitted to routinely deleting correspondence and throwing away notes from meetings with fracking companies in a move that may have violated transparency requirements.