Zephyr Teachout Rides Wave of Moral Outrage and Scientific Clarity on Fracking and Climate Change
With no polling on the New York Governor primary race, we have no idea if Zephyr Teachout is leading Governor Cuomo. We have no idea what the depth of breadth of her support is. But I can tell you that that the excitement for her campaign is skyrocketing—because that is how people respond to real leadership and vision.
I see Teachout buttons everywhere, my inbox is flooded with emails about campaign potluck dinners all over the state, and I am greeted by her supporters at community gatherings and farmers markets. But more important than all that, I see something in Zephyr Teachout's supporters that I haven't seen in a while—real enthusiasm, real trust and real excitement.
Zephyr has that wicked buzz that a true political leader inspires in people—a re-awakened optimism—a belief that things can actually get better. So it is not surprising that she has unexpectedly and deservedly gained the endorsements of the Sierra Club, National Organization of Women and many many more. She's the real deal. She's that smart. She's that poised. And she's that clearheaded.
And that has woken up something highly unusual in New York state politics, so unusual that it feels almost unreal—actual inspiration. I know because it happened to me—I was as jaded as can be about electoral politics, and she inspired me to not only dream of a better future in New York, but dream that it could actually occupy the Governor's Mansion. So I am writing something unusual, something I feel compelled to write.
Can we dream out loud?
Can we dream of a New York Governor that lifts the toxic cloud of the threat of fracking once and for all?
Can we dream of a New York Governor that truly stands for and embodies progressive values?
Can we dream of a New York Governor who understands that New York's economy can be restored and lifted up based on vigorous renewable energy development?
Can we dream of a New York Governor who is one of us—who doesn't come from the political ruling class and who doesn't kowtow to big business over the people?
Can we dream of a grassroots electoral movement in New York?
Can we dream of Zephyr Teachout?
(Did we actually dream her up? A person, and a name, like some fantastical progressive super-heroine from a Pete Seeger song?)
Movements and politics are all about tipping points—moments when something fundamental shifts in the world—where an idea, a passion, a calling, becomes an inevitable surge. When that happens you can either get on the right side of history or you can miss the boat and be left on the shores of the broken ignorant past. That tipping point has happened on fracking in New York—the people have called for a ban, the facts are clear, the science is clear and New York has moved to make history. We do not want our water fracked, we do not want our air fracked, we do not want our land and communities and our media and our climate and our public health fracked. And right now, importantly, we do not want our politics and our democracy fracked.
Zephyr Teachout is riding a wave of moral outrage and scientific clarity on fracking and climate change that Andrew Cuomo has missed. While I do credit him with having the courage not to open New York to fracking despite incredible pressure from the gas industry, the time to listen to the science is now. Cuomo continues to delay while Teachout gives the straight talk loud and clear. We need to lead the world and ban fracking now. We need to lead the world and adopt a vigorous path towards 100% renewable energy across the state.
New York has always had the ability to lead the world. On so many fronts New York has historically taken up the mantle of leadership—from labor, to issues of race and equality, to energy innovation and progress, New York state has led. In the tradition of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, New York has always striven to be at the forefront of world moral and progressive leadership.
And right now, by rejecting fracking, by pioneering a real renewable energy economy, by upending the oligarchic politics that plague New York and the U.S., by standing for true progressive values, New York Democratic primary voters can once again lead the world. Andrew Cuomo has had the chance to be a real leader on all of these issues and make history in New York and yet in four years he has declined to do so.
On all of these issues, Zephyr Teachout is truly leading New York and with her New York has a chance to lead the world.
And that is where my heart and my conscience wants to be.
I encourage you to vote your progressive conscience, vote your moral outrage, vote your scientific clarity on fracking and climate, vote your state back into world leadership—Vote Teachout on Sept. 9.
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A stretch of coastline in the Philippine capital, Manila has received backlash from environmentalists. The heavily polluted Manila Bay area, which had been slated for cleanup, has become the site of a controversial 500-meter (1,600-foot) stretch of white sand beach.
Sand Makeup Crucial for Ecosystems<p>While UNEP/GRID-Geneva generally supports finding <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/not-enough-sand-for-construction-industry-despite-abundance/a-49342942" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">alternative sources of sand</a> so as not to disrupt ecosystems in rivers and oceans when extracting them, Vander Velpen stressed it was vital to use sand which closely matches the makeup of the native sand to protect beach fauna.</p><p>"If you change the core characteristics of the native sand, the original sand, you need to do an environmental impact assessment (EIA) to find out how it's going to impact the ecosystem and nearby ecosystems," he told DW.</p><p>But according to Torres, such an assessment was not done in Manila.</p>
Beautification Stunt Instead of Proper Cleanup?<p>Manila Bay's waters are heavily polluted by oil and trash from nearby residential areas and ports. A huge "No swimming" sign warns visitors to stay away from the ocean.</p><p>Philippines' <a href="https://denr.gov.ph/index.php/priority-programs/manila-bay-clean-up/25-priority-programs/1825-frequently-ask-questions-faqs-on-the-dolomite-and-the-beach-nourishment-project" target="_blank">Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)</a> has denied dolomite sand poses any risk to human health and the ecosystem.</p><p>However, scientists of the University of the Philippines have come forward disputing the DENR's claims. A <a href="https://biology.science.upd.edu.ph/index.php/ib-statement-regarding-dolomite-in-manila-bay/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">statement by the Institute of Biology</a> said that using crushed dolomite did not address any of the rehabilitation phases and instead was "even more detrimental to the existing biodiversity as well as the communities in the area," pointing to the case of water birds. "The dumping of dolomite in Manila Bay has effectively covered part of the intertidal area used by the birds thereby reducing their habitat."</p><p>At peak migration season, Manila Bay is home to 90 aquatic bird species, including species of international conservation concern that are facing a very high extinction risk in the wild. </p><p>Authorities should focus on protecting and conserving biodiversity, the Institute of Biology added. "Rehabilitating mangroves is an example of a nature-based solution that is cheaper and more cost-effective than the dolomite dumping project," the scientists said.</p><p>Moreover, <a href="http://www.msi.upd.edu.ph/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the Marine Science Institute</a> has warned that prolonged inhalation of finer dust particles of dolomite could "cause chronic health effects," leading to discomfort in the chest, shortness of breath and coughing.</p><p>They also warned dolomite sand grains would erode during storms and be carried out to sea, essentially being washed away.</p>
Rehabilitation vs. Reclamation<p>Environmentalists say covering up the beach doesn't address the real issues of the bay. Torres and others believe the best way to clean up Manila Bay is not to add anything, but rather remove trash and pollution.</p><p>"There have been studies saying much of the waste comes from already collected waste — so these are open dump sites along the coast that get washed up because of the rain," Torres said.</p><p>She criticized the authorities for continuing to push reclamation projects she says are at odds with each other. These projects will affect large areas of mangrove forests, she said, and experts warn that this, in turn, exacerbates coastal erosion.</p><p>"If you've removed the areas that helped trap the sand, like mangrove forests, then the likelihood increases that you will have to nourish a beach. Same as building right up to the waterfront," said Vander Velpen of UNEP/GRID-Geneva.</p>
Plenty of Sand in the Sea?<p>The question of Manila's contentious white beach echoes larger questions about sand mining worldwide. <a href="https://unepgrid.ch/storage/app/media/documents/Sand_and_sustainability_UNEP_2019.pdf" target="_blank">Global sand consumption has tripled</a> over the past two decades, UNEP/GRID-Geneva has found. A huge chunk of it is now taken up by construction.</p><p>"Many operate on the assumption that natural sand is endless in its supply," said Vander Velpen.</p><p>Sand scarcity is a concern shared by Stefan Schimmels of <a href="https://www.fzk.uni-hannover.de/fzk_start.html?&L=1" target="_blank">Forschungszentrum Küste</a> who's done extensive research on shore nourishment to stop coastal erosion. And as climate change and rising sea levels are threatening coasts, demand for sand will grow even more.</p><p>A large study, the <a href="http://www.stencil-project.de/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/STENCIL_SWOT_Analyse_191026.pdf" target="_blank">Strategies and Tools for Environment-Friendly Shore Nourishments as Climate Change Impact Low-Regret Measures (STENCIL project)</a>, focused on the German island of Sylt, a popular vacation spot.</p><p>About 1 million cubic meter of sand per year is used to maintain the coastal area of Sylt, STENCIL project head Schimmels said. That's about 100 million 10-liter buckets of sand.</p><p>When sand was extracted off the coast of Sylt, underwater craters were formed. "You can still detect these craters even decades later," Schimmels told DW.</p><p>"Also when you add a couple of meters sand onto the beach — you essentially bury all things that do creep and fly," he said. "How quickly will they recover?" Schimmels said more research was needed as there was still too little known about long-term effects on the environment. </p>
Criticism Piling Up<p>As for Manila's artificial white sand, it looks like some might have already been blown away by a recent storm. DENR claims it wasn't washed away, but said that grayish sand, stones and other material had simply piled up over the dolomite sand. People in Manila have tweeted photos showing how the storm has ravaged the beach. </p>
<div id="adc0b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="98f9390db6bb81cb421aaf0bb9d9a6fb"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1318816633280851969" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Exactly one month after giving excited netizen a glimpse of Manila Bay white sands, look what happened now after ju… https://t.co/X0Z9i0bPB0</div> — M*A*S*H (@M*A*S*H)<a href="https://twitter.com/Magtira_Matibay/statuses/1318816633280851969">1603265362.0</a></blockquote></div><p>Authorities have been called tone-deaf for spending around 389 million pesos ($8 million) on a beach nourishment project in the middle of a raging pandemic.</p><p>An image of cake iced with the words "It really hurts - that's [worth] 389 million pesos?" has since gone viral.</p>
<div class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4387aad52ea316e4db7330052318ca2f"><div class="fb-post" data-href="https://www.facebook.com/theweekendpatisserie/posts/144564207350008"></div></div><p>"It's just a waste of precious resources," Torres said. </p><p>The environmental activist now also worries that she might be labeled a terrorist for speaking out under the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/philippine-anti-terrorism-law-triggers-fear-of-massive-rights-abuses/a-53732140" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Philippines' controversial new anti-terrorism law</a>. She says she could be arrested for inciting fear when talking about environmental dangers.</p>
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