By May Boeve
This Saturday (May 5), at events around the world, people will Connect the Dots between extreme weather and climate change. It's going to be an amazing day—and the theme that will tie it all together is the dots.
Here's the deal: At each event, people will take a photo of their "climate dot" which they'll make out of fabric or cardboard or anything else. Each of these dots will represent how climate change is already hitting home in our local communities. Some of them will have a climate message on them, some of them will have a symbol of local extreme weather, and some will just be a big, plain dot.
We put together a full tip-sheet on how to make a great photo here, and to the right is an example of a great, simple climate dot photo that just came in from our friends in Vermont, recently devastated by the flooding of the Mad River.
As soon as the local events are finished, we're asking everyone around the world to upload their photos to us—our 350 team will make a global photo mosaic that connects all those dots. To make sure our message reaches "outside of the choir," we'll deliver those photos to global media and decision-makers—the people who most urgently need to connect the dots.
Here in New York, our 350 crew had a lot of fun making our climate dot (you can see photos here)—and we learned a lot while we were doing it. Here are the basic steps to make your dot:
1. Cut out a dot. We used a parachute for our dot, so we didn’t have to cut it, but most fabric stores will help cut out the dot. Or cut a giant dot from a thrift-store bed sheet, a big piece of cardboard, or anything else that works for you. Or, if you don't feel like cutting something out, just draw a big dot on a sign.
2. Put a message on it. Will your dot be in a place that’s self explanatory? Will the climate impact be clear? If not, write the name of the city and your climate message on the dot. For example, we wrote “NYC Underwater” on our dot. You can also just put one of the "climate impact symbols" on your climate dot—you can download and print those symbols right here.
3. Make sure you have a team set up to hold it up. Sometimes an overhead angle on your dot makes a dramatic visual. Wondering about having a lot of people in the shot? Great if you have them, but no worries if you don’t.
4. Scout your location and take a photo. Take some photos and figure out where the dot will look best. Ideally, the dot will be front and center, and the background will show how climate change is impacting your community.
5. Send it in. Send your single best photo to email@example.com. Put the location as the email subject line, and include the story behind the photo in the body of the email. You can find full photo upload-instructions here.
Things are getting a bit hectic as we gear up for 5/5, and it's all starting to come together. I truly can't wait to see your climate dots this weekend—to see, once again, what this movement is capable of when we act together.
Most of all, we need you out in your community on May 5, but the action isn't all offline—we also need a crew of online activists who can spread the word and Connect the Dots using social media. We're gathering a #ConnectTheDots Social Media Team to share key photos, facts and videos from our day of action. Click here to join the team.
For more information, click here.
By Simon Montlake
For more than a decade, Susan Jane Brown has been battling to stop a natural gas pipeline and export terminal from being built in the backcountry of Oregon. As an attorney at the nonprofit Western Environmental Law Center, she has repeatedly argued that the project's environmental, social, and health costs are too high.
All that was before this month's deadly wildfires in Oregon shrouded the skies above her home office in Portland. "It puts a fine point on it. These fossil fuel projects are contributing to global climate change," she says.
Moderates Feeling the Heat<p>If elected, Mr. Biden has vowed to stop new drilling for oil and gas on federal land and in federal waters and to rejoin the 2015 Paris climate accord that President Donald Trump gave notice of quitting. He would reinstate Obama-era regulations of greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, the largest component of natural gas.</p><p>The Biden climate platform also states that all federal infrastructure investments and federal permits would need to be assessed for their climate impacts. Analysts say such a test could impede future LNG plants and pipelines, though not those that already have federal approval. </p><p>Climate change activists who pushed for that language say much depends on who would have oversight of federal agencies that regulate the industry. Some are wary of Biden's reliance on advice from Obama-era officials, including former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who is now on the board of Southern Company, a utility, and a former Obama environmental aide, Heather Zichal, who has served on the board of Cheniere Energy, an LNG exporter. </p>
The Push for U.S. Fuel Exports<p>As vice president, Biden was part of an administration that pushed hard for global climate action while also promoting U.S. oil and gas exports to its allies and trading partners. As fracking boomed, Obama ended a 40-year ban on crude oil exports. In Europe, LNG was touted both as an alternative to coal and as strategic competition with Russian pipelines.</p><p>That much, at least, continued with President Trump. Under Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the agency referred to liquified U.S. hydrocarbons as "<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/29/us/freedom-gas-energy-department.html" target="_blank">freedom gas</a>."</p><p>Mr. Trump has also championed the interests of coal, oil, and gas while denigrating the findings of government climate scientists. He rejected the Paris accord as unfair to the U.S. and detrimental to its economy, but has offered no alternative path to emissions cuts. </p><p>Still, Trump's foreign policy has not always served the LNG industry: Tariffs on foreign steel drove up pipeline costs, and a trade war with China stayed the hand of Chinese LNG importers wary of reliance on U.S. suppliers. </p><p>Even his regulatory rollbacks could be a double-edged sword. By relaxing curbs last month on methane leaks, the U.S. has ceded ground to European regulators who are drafting emissions standards that LNG producers are watching closely. "That's a precursor of fights that will be fought in all the rest of the developed world," says Mr. Hutchison. </p><p>Indeed, some oil-and-gas exporters had urged the Trump administration not to abandon the tougher rules, since they undercut their claim to offer a cleaner-burning way of producing heat and electricity. "U.S. LNG is not going to be able to compete in a world that's focused on methane emissions and intensity," says Erin Blanton, a senior research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. </p>
Stepping on the Gas<p>In July, the Department of Energy issued an export license to Jordan Cove's developer, Canada's Pembina Pipeline Corp. In a statement, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said the project would provide "reliable, affordable, and cleaner-burning natural gas to our allies around the world."</p><p>As a West Coast terminal, Jordan Cove offers a faster route to Asia where its capacity of 7.8 million tons of LNG a year could serve to heat more than 15 million homes. At its peak, its construction would also create 6,000 jobs, the company says, in a stagnant corner of Oregon.</p><p>But the project still lacks multiple local and state permits, and its biggest asset – a Pacific port – has become its biggest handicap, says Ms. Blanton. "They are putting infrastructure in a state where there's no political support for the pipeline or the terminal, unlike in Louisiana or Texas," she says. </p><p>Ms. Brown, the environmental lawyer, says she wants to see Jordan Cove buried, not just mothballed until natural gas prices recover. But she knows that it's only one among many LNG projects and that others will likely get built, even if Biden is elected in November, despite growing evidence of the harm caused by methane emissions. </p>
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