Haunting Views of a Planet Declining Faster for Some Communities Than for Others
Demian DinéYazhi´'s "Rez Dog, Rez Dirt," 2013. Courtesy Demian DinéYazhi´
By Ingrid Abramovitch
Carolina Caycedo's nets hang and sway from the ceiling of the Whitney Museum of American Art, each one distinct in shape, color and composition. They range from softly rounded to elongated and geometric; some are white, while others have been dyed in bright oranges and reds. Caught in their knotted structures are objects that speak to a vibrant world: embroideries, seeds, dried plants, candles, framed religious images and musical instruments. "They are atarrayas, fishing nets that you throw by hand, and I think super beautiful," said the artist. "They were given to me by fisherfolk in Colombia near the Magdalena River, not far from where my father has a farm."
Caycedo calls the hanging sculptures Cosmotarrayas, an amalgam of their name in Spanish and the word cosmos, since each one encompasses its own small world. And they are indeed beautiful. Like the work of the five other artists in a new exhibition titled "Between the Waters," which opened at the New York City museum on March 9, Caycedo's art is inspired by a common theme: the impact of ecological damage and abuse on communities.
Carolina Caycedo's "Esto No Es Agua/This is Not Water" (still), 2015Courtesy Carolina Caycedo
Organized by assistant curator Elisabeth Sherman and curatorial assistant Margaret Kross, the exhibition focuses on the precarious state of the environment. "The idea for the show came out of talking to artists and listening to their practices," said Sherman. "We started to notice several artists working on themes that connect environmental issues with civil rights and human life."
Caycedo, for example, has created several projects that refer to the construction of hydroelectric dams in South America and the consequences for local populations. Another artist, Lena Henke, contributed sculptures that tell the story of New York City neighborhoods that were gouged from the map in the 1930s by city planner Robert Moses to make way for expressways.
Cy Gavin's "Aubade II (Spittal Pond), 2016Courtesy Sargent's Daughters
The show includes the work of two painters: Cy Gavin, an artist whose colorful maritime canvases are inspired by his father's native Bermuda and its historical role in the Atlantic slave trade; and Torkwase Dyson, whose abstract works are drawn from scientific drawings of water tables. Meanwhile, Atlanta artist Erin Jane Nelson conjures octopuses in textile collages created out of transparent fabric, spices and dried foliage. "The motivation comes from environmental anxiety," Nelson said. "Dealing with climate change, ocean acidification, and other emerging and enormous threats is not particularly uplifting, but I try to make empathetic narratives and objects that make space for catharsis and reconciliation."
Erin Jane Nelson's "Touch.tank.1," 2016Courtesy Erin Jane Nelson
Sherman said that several of the artists mentioned Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor as a major influence on their work. The book, by Princeton humanities and environment scholar Rob Nixon, examines climate change, deforestation, oil spills and war in the global south. "They are interested in how the politics of the land plays out on marginalized communities," she said. "It's not 'kumbaya,' but there is a message of 'We're all in this together,' along with a challenge to the notion that humans have a right to dominate the land."
Demian DinéYazhi´ is a Navajo artist who grew up in Gallup, New Mexico. His work at the Whitney, which combines video and text, originated in his "increasing sense of alienation, frustration and anger" at recent politics, including the Trump administration's decision to build the Dakota Access Pipeline despite protests at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. "Indigenous land has always been political," DinéYazhi´ said. "On the reservation I come from, the land has always been under threat, from the issue of water rights to extraction industries like coal and uranium."
On view in "Between the Waters" is DinéYazhi´'s 2010 Rez Dog, Rez Dirt, in which the artist, now based in Portland, used his iPhone to capture video of his grandparents' land and added narration about his feelings of disconnection. "It is about being tied to who I am, but realizing my current life is about migration," he said. Another piece, Burying White Supremacy, created by DinéYazhi' with artist Ginger Dunnill, combines drone photography taken on a Navajo reservation superimposed with conceptual instructions on "how to bury white supremacy." Stark but ultimately hopeful, the piece depicts the green shoot of a plant emerging from a barren landscape strewn with gray tumbleweeds. "I'm trying to show that we have ways of adapting," the artist said, "and of spreading our intelligence."
"Between the Waters" is currently on display at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City and is accessible to the public for free.
Reposted with permission from our media associate onEarth.
Many people shop online for everything from clothes to appliances. If they do not like the product, they simply return it. But there's an environmental cost to returns.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Dolf Gielen and Morgan Bazilian
John Kerry helped bring the world into the Paris climate agreement and expanded America's reputation as a climate leader. That reputation is now in tatters, and President-elect Joe Biden is asking Kerry to rebuild it again – this time as U.S. climate envoy.
Energy Is at the Center of the Climate Challenge<p>The <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/1/" target="_blank">effects of climate change</a> are already evident across the globe, from <a href="https://theconversation.com/100-degrees-in-siberia-5-ways-the-extreme-arctic-heat-wave-follows-a-disturbing-pattern-141442" target="_blank">extreme heat waves</a> to <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/12/" target="_blank">sea level rise</a>. But while the challenge is daunting, there is hope. Solar and wind power have become the <a href="https://www.irena.org/publications/2020/Jun/Renewable-Power-Costs-in-2019" target="_blank">cheapest forms of power generation globally</a>, and technology progress and innovation continue apace to support a transition to clean energy.</p><p>In the U.S. under a Biden administration, long-term national climate legislation will depend on who controls the Senate, and that won't be clear until after two run-off elections in Georgia in January.</p><p>But there is no shortage of <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2020-biden-climate-change-advice/" target="_blank">ideas for ways Biden</a> could still take action even if his proposals are blocked in Congress. For example, he could use executive orders and direct government agencies to tighten regulations on greenhouse gas emissions; increase research and development in clean energy technologies; and empower states to exceed national standards, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-autos-emissions-california/defying-trump-california-locks-in-vehicle-emission-deals-with-major-automakers-idUSKCN25D2CH" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">as California did in the past with auto emission standards</a>. A focus on a just and equitable transition for communities and people affected by the decline of fossil fuels will also be key to creating a sustainable transition.</p><p>The U.S. position as the world's largest oil and gas producer and consumer creates political challenges for any administration. U.S. forays into European energy security are often treated with suspicion. Recently, France blocked <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/frances-engie-backs-out-of-u-s-lng-deal-11604435609" target="_blank">a multi-billion dollar contract</a> to buy U.S. liquefied natural gas because of concerns about limited emissions regulations in Texas.</p><p>Strengthening cooperation and partnerships with like-minded countries will be critical to bring about a transition to cleaner energy as well as sustainability in agriculture, forestry, water and other sectors of the global economy.</p>
Creating a Global Sustainable Transition<p>How the world recovers from COVID-19's economic damage could help drive a lasting shift in the global energy mix.</p><p>Nearly one-third of Europe's US$2 trillion economic relief package <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-21/eu-approves-biggest-green-stimulus-in-history-with-572-billion-plan" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">involves investments that are also good for the climate</a>. The European Union is also strengthening its 2030 climate targets, though each country's energy and climate plans will be critical for successfully implementing them. The <a href="https://joebiden.com/clean-energy/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Biden plan</a> – including a $2 trillion commitment to developing sustainable energy and infrastructure – is aligned with a global energy transition, but its implementation is also uncertain.</p><p>Once Biden takes office, Kerry will be joining ongoing <a href="https://www.un.org/en/conferences/energy2021/about#:%7E:text=The%20overarching%20goal%20of%20the,2030%20Agenda%20for%20Sustainable%20Development.&text=Accelerate%20delivery%20of%20United%20Nations,related%20issues%20at%20all%20levels." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high-level discussions on the energy transition</a> at the U.N. General Assembly and other gatherings of international leaders. With the U.S. no longer obstructing work on climate issues, the G-7 and G-20 have more potential for progress on energy and climate.</p><p>Lots of technical details still need to be worked out, including international trade frameworks and standards that can help countries lower greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep global warming in check. <a href="https://www.carbonpricingleadership.org/what" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Carbon pricing</a> and <a href="https://www.csis.org/analysis/how-can-europe-get-carbon-border-adjustment-right" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">carbon border adjustment taxes</a>, which create incentive for companies to reduce emissions, may be part of it. A consistent and comprehensive set of national energy transition plans will also be needed.</p><p>The global shift to <a href="https://www.irena.org/publications/2019/Jan/A-New-World-The-Geopolitics-of-the-Energy-Transformation" target="_blank">clean energy will also have geopolitical implications for countries and regions</a>, and this will have a profound impact on wider international relations. Kerry, with his experience as secretary of state in the Obama administration, and Biden's plan to make the climate envoy position part of the National Security Council, may help mend these relations. In doing so, the U.S. may again join the wider community of countries willing to lead.</p>
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By Maria Caffrey
As we approach the holidays I, like most people, have been reflecting on everything 2020 has given us (or taken away) while starting to look ahead to 2021.
We Need More Than Listening<p>By now we have all become sadly accustomed to the current administration sidelining scientists, most prominently Dr. Anthony Fauci, because the facts they provide do not fit with the political rhetoric of the moment.</p><p>I have <a href="https://www.csldf.org/2019/08/22/csldf-helps-climate-scientist-maria-caffrey-fight-for-scientific-integrity/" target="_blank">my own history</a> of filing a scientific integrity complaint with the National Park Service (which falls under the Department of the Interior) after senior ranking employees attempted to censor one of my scientific reports. I know all too well the damage and pain that these actions cause, not just for the individual scientist, but also because these <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/attacks-on-science" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">attacks on science</a> over the last few years have undermined sound, evidence-based decision making.</p><p>President-elect Biden has repeatedly said that he will <a href="https://thehill.com/homenews/521638-trump-biden-will-listen-to-the-scientists-if-elected" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">listen to the scientists</a>. While this is certainly a welcome change, listening can only take us so far. This past week Lauren Kurtz from the <a href="https://www.csldf.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Climate Science Legal Defense Fund</a> and my colleague <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/about/people/gretchen-goldman" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Gretchen Goldman</a> published <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ten-steps-that-can-restore-scientific-integrity-in-government/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an article</a> listing 10 actions the new administration should implement to show their commitment to strengthening government science:</p><ol><li>Clearly prohibit political interference and censorship.</li><li>Protect scientists' communication rights.</li><li>Acknowledge that attempts to violate scientific integrity, even if ultimately not fruitful, are still violations.</li><li>Protect federal scientists' right to provide information to Congress and other lawmakers.</li><li>Commit to incorporating the best science as part of agency decisions.</li><li>Elevate agency scientific integrity policies to have the full force of law.</li><li>Publicly release anonymized information about scientific integrity complaints and their resolutions at every agency.</li><li>Institute an intra-agency workforce, potentially under the White House <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/2020-09/strengthening-science-and-si-at-ostp.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Office of Science and Technology Policy</a>, to coordinate scientific integrity efforts across agencies, foster discussion of policy improvements, and standardize criteria for policies across agencies.</li><li>Strengthen whistleblower protections.</li><li>Ensure that policies cover all actors who will be dealing with science.</li></ol>
Time for Action<p>I have spoken to many scientists, particularly federal scientists, who are eager to turn the page so they can hurry back to the work they had been doing before this administration, but I urge caution in assuming that things can be "normal" again.</p><p>Before Trump, I naively thought the scientific integrity policies established during the <a href="https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2016/12/19/scientific-integrity-policies-update" target="_blank">Obama administration</a> would be sufficient. I never imagined that any administration could so willfully ignore and attack expert advice and evidence that is intended to protect us and our public lands.</p><p>I have personally witnessed how hard our federal scientists work. They put in long hours with minimal pay (far less that what they could get if they worked in private industry) to pursue one simple goal: to make things better for the nation.</p><p>We need stronger scientific integrity policies to protect these people and their work. But more than that, we need stronger scientific integrity laws because they also benefit society.</p>
By Andrea Germanos
Environmental campaigners stressed the need for the incoming Biden White House to put in place permanent protections for Alaska's Bristol Bay after the Trump administration on Wednesday denied a permit for the proposed Pebble Mine that threatened "lasting harm to this phenomenally productive ecosystem" and death to the area's Indigenous culture.
<div id="da98c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="478a197b7c59c92787c92bec92f1ac39"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1331662923710693376" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Bristol Bay forever, Pebble mine never. #NoPebbleMine #SaveBristolBay https://t.co/CBQ9zuy8A5</div> — Save Bristol Bay (@Save Bristol Bay)<a href="https://twitter.com/SaveBristolBay/statuses/1331662923710693376">1606328156.0</a></blockquote></div>
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By Gwen Ranniger
In the midst of a pandemic, sales of cleaning products have skyrocketed, and many feel a need to clean more often. Knowing what to look for when purchasing cleaning supplies can help prevent unwanted and dangerous toxics from entering your home.