Wash U Sit-In Enters Historic 3rd Week: Peabody Moment of Truth Arrives
In an emerging public relations nightmare for Washington University officials, the sit-in against Peabody Energy ties entered a historic third week, as students continued to press demands after a faltering statement released yesterday by Chancellor Mark Wrighton.
"We want to make it clear that we are not satisfied with this statement," the Wash U Students Against Peabody countered. "We plan to continue to pressure Chancellor Wrighton and Provost Thorp until they end Washington University’s relationship with Peabody."
Let's face it: With growing national media attention, growing outrage over Peabody violations, and growing plans for nationwide rallies against Peabody on its shareholders meeting on May 8, the moment of truth for the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees about Peabody's toxic relationship with Washington University has arrived.
And this Peabody moment of truth has been years—even decades—in the making.
The Wash U student protests have been raising the ante for years—I've watched with amazement, over the last decade, as I've been chronicling Peabody violations around the world—including the Black Mesa tragedy, which I consider one of the worst human rights and environmental disasters in American history.
This much we all know: The Wash U students are on the right side of history, and at a certain point, Chancellor Wrighton and the Board of Trustees will end their denial and join the students' clear-headed demands.
And it won't be the first time.
Consider another date in May in Washington University history: May 9, 1952, when the Board of Trustees found it "increasingly difficult to ignore mounting public sentiment and maintain its segregationist policy," and finally bent to the will of a long-time student movement to officially integrate.
It's time once again for Washington University to be on the right side of history.
It's also time for Chancellor Wrighton to prosecute Peabody Energy's violations of Washington University's own code of conduct for all vendors, associates and trustees like Peabody CEO Greg Boyce. The Wash U codes for integrity and ethical conduct are clear: "The university relies on each community member's ethical behavior, honesty, integrity and good judgment. Each community member should demonstrate respect for the rights of others. Each community member is accountable for his/her actions."
Putting aside climate change denial and environmental destruction, how can Chancellor Wrighton and Washington University condone the following actions by Peabody as ethical behavior, honesty, integrity and good judgment?
On Black Mesa?
Or, consider these other actions:
2014: Does Peabody remain in violation of federal laws for improper handling and holding of Native American burial remains and artifacts from Black Mesa?
2013: Judge rules that Peabody violated EPA rules at their Indiana strip mine.
2012: Peabody closed a southern Illinois mine due to safety problems and violations.
2011: Peabody receives MSHA notice of pattern of serious violations for an Illinois mine.
2000-2009: Peabody wracks up more than 8,700 "significant" mine safety violations.
1986: Peabody pleads guilty in miner's death in Illinois.
Every day that the Wash U Chancellor fails to answer the sit-in students' questions and demands, he and his university remain on the wrong side of history.
And the nation—that is watching—knows it.
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They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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