Why the Millennial Generation Sees Keystone XL as More Than Just a Pipeline
The Keystone XL pipeline proposal has hit a Nebraska stop sign, but it has deeper problems than right-of-way issues across the U.S. After all, the controversial proposal for transporting Canada's tar sands was never just about the pipeline. Just ask the thousand students who rallied in front of the White House recently, who were willing to be arrested to make their point.
Below, is a slideshow of the March 2 action:
Frustrated and angry over a lack of political action on climate change, the millennial generation is not tolerating an ineffectual Congress or President. The 18-34 year old group are 74 million strong in the U.S. and when the worst happens, they will suffer the most from climate change. With little representation in Congress—where the average age is 60—they look to civil disobedience as a strategy to create the political will to address this threat.
The fight over Keystone XL is really about a generational shift in the energy paradigm and how the U.S. will survive the twenty-first century. It concerns the wealth and jobs that the fossil fuels industry creates—how it has weaved itself into daily lives of Americans and pulled us into a formidable dependency. With growing apprehension, however, concerned citizens are sensing that the carbon-intensive lifestyle may be lethal to future generations and to survive, it is incumbent to accelerate efforts to develop other energy sources.
From Washington, D.C. and Nebraska courts, this conflict now swings to Canada, where the Alberta government owns 81 percent of its tar sands and has a long list of investment partners. Besides multinational corporations, one of its biggest sources of investment capital for mining is China, the planet's largest producer of greenhouse gases. Alberta looks to collect $1.2 trillion in royalties from its oil sands over the next 35 years, but has attracted attention because of the massive pollution resulting from the mining and burning of bitumen tar.
Canada also faces a disenfranchised youth, who feel their voices and futures have been diminished by the enormous profits bitumen tar sands portend. They are joined by First Nations aboriginal tribes who share the same political paucity and frustration. Despite the economic benefits of bitumen tar mining on their lands, First Nations point irreversible health and cultural damage. It is a critical decision for First Nations to continue its relationship with Canadian oil interests.
The world's climate scientists essentially agree that if left unchecked, carbon dioxide will worsen extreme weather, raise sea levels and create mass extinctions from an array of environmental changes. Many acknowledge that climate deniers are fed propagated ignorance by fossil fuel strategists as part of a misinformation campaign. It creates a polarized electorate, leaving the issue to develop worst case scenarios before action is taken.
In moderation, fossil fuel usage might not have posed a serious threat, but the world has moved well past that threshold. Burning of fossil fuels produces around 33.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year and world energy needs are expected to rise by about a third over the next 20 years. CO2 has reached proportions in our atmosphere not seen for 15 million years and many scientists warn it may already be too late to mitigate damages.
As Keystone XL falters and tar sands mining continues to provoke protests, our nation is compelled to end political bickering and accede millennials a more powerful voice on climate legislation. President Obama must grasp the significance of this moment, deny the Keystone permit and tell the world his decision has nothing to do with the pipeline and everything to do with leadership.
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At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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