Youth Activists Call on California State Teachers Retirement System to End 'Toxic Relationship' With Fossil Fuel Companies
By Eoin Higgins
Youth climate activists in California descended on the state's capitol Sacramento on Thursday to demand divestment from the fossil fuel industry from public school teachers' pension system.
"You want to be in a relationship with fossil fuel companies?" Sujeith, a sixth-grader from Oakland, asked the board of the California State Teachers' Retirement System, or CalSTRS. "What have they done before other than pollute the planet? That sounds like a toxic relationship."
It’s begun! https://t.co/z4bS0soOoH— Andrew Sheeler (@Andrew Sheeler)1580411495.0
Thursday's action was aimed at pressuring the board of CalSTRS, which manages pensions for the state's public school teachers, to divest from fossil fuels. The fund has claimed that divestment would be a financial burden on its members.
"CalSTRS is playing roulette with our pensions and our children's future by holding onto these doomed assets," said CalSTRS member Paula Buel, a retired teacher who volunteers with climate advocacy group Fossil Free California.
Dozens of young people staged a dramatic march from the Capitol to the headquarters of California’s teacher pension… https://t.co/Mp14thMWzN— Rachel Iskow (@Rachel Iskow)1580446312.0
As Common Dreams reported, perceiving fossil fuels as "doomed assets" is no longer unique to the climate movement. CNBC anchor Jim Cramer called the industry "in the death knell phase" on Friday and announced he was no longer recommending investing in fossil fuels.
While CalSTRS did vote on Thursday to institute "Belief 9," a policy statement on the risks of climate investment, that's no substitute for real action, said Fossil Free California executive director Vanessa Warheit.
"We appreciate CalSTRS' efforts to engage corporations to help mitigate their climate-related risk," said Warheit. "But engaging with the energy sector — which is currently 100% comprised of fossil fuel companies — is a waste of staff time and resources."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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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