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Water Protectors Protesting at Willow River Warn Line 3 ‘Is a Catastrophic Threat’

Water protectors protested against Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands pipeline on July 6, 2021, in and around Willow River in Minnesota. (Photo: Keri Pickett)

By Jessica Corbett | Common Dreams

The Indigenous-led fight against Line 3 continued Tuesday as water protectors descended on the area of Willow River where Canadian energy giant Enbridge is working to install a “climate-wrecking” tar sands pipeline to replace one that was built in the 1960s.

Water protectors attached themselves to drilling equipment and built blockades on access roads in an effort to halt construction in Minnesota on Tuesday, according to a statement from organizers.

Pipeline opponents also joined Indigenous leaders Winona LaDuke, executive director of Honor the Earth, and Tania Aubid to stand in the river in prayer.

“We the people are here in the river because the rivers belong to the fish, they belong to the animals, and they belong to the people—and they don’t belong to Enbridge,” LaDuke said in a video from the river shared on social media.

Speaking from the river, which is part of the Mississippi watershed, Aubid said: “Minnesota, you will be held accountable along with the federal and Canadian governments for the genocide of Mother Earth.”

“We cannot allow them to take these rivers,” Taysha Martineau, a water protector of the Fond du Lac Tribe who has helped build Camp Migizi, said about Tuesday’s direct action.

“Enbridge was given a cease-and-desist notice in order to protect the ceremonial lodge,” Martineau explained. “The state of Minnesota has refused to abide by that order and so action was taken. Abide by the order or we will continue to use people’s power to shut it down.”

An unnamed water protector locked down in Minnesota declared that “Line 3 is a catastrophic threat to the land, the water, the people, wild rice, and the climate.”

“This pipeline violates the treaty rights of the Anishinaabe and is not being built with Indigenous consent,” the water protector noted, before taking aim at the company behind it:

Enbridge has a long history of spills, many of which occur in the first 10 years of a pipeline operating. They do not care about the land, the people, or their workers. They only care about the money, so we are putting pressure on their pocketbooks by slowing the progress of Line 3 until we stop it altogether. Polluted water, land, and rapid climate change are threats to us all, and Line 3 will cause unpredictable levels of damage if it becomes active.

“Actions like this one are a fight for all of our survival,” the activist added, “and should be seen as nothing less.”

In a series of tweets from the river Tuesday, Honor the Earth raised concerns that “a spot in the river is warmer, and appears to have been polluted with drilling mud.”

The advocacy group shared a photo of a nearby container labeled “spill kit,” and said that there was “no one working to contain this drilling mud from washing downstream and polluting the river.”

According to the Line 3 resistance movement, as of Tuesday, more than 500 people have been arrested for protesting the pipeline. As Common Dreams reported last week, some of them now face felony charges.

Under pressure from Indigenous leaders and climate justice advocates, the Minneapolis City Council last week unanimously passed a resolution opposing the pipeline, calling on elected leaders who can stop it to do so immediately, and requesting that the city’s mayor and police chief refuse to participate in a law enforcement coalition formed in response to protests.

“This water we protect serves the people of your city,” LaDuke said last week of the development in Minneapolis. “Together we need to stop the last tar sands pipeline.”

Despite running on a broad promise to tackle the global climate emergency, to which the fossil fuel industry substantially contributed, President Joe Biden has so far refused to stop the project.

In fact, last month Biden’s Department of Justice filed a legal brief in support of the federal government’s approval of the project under former President Donald Trump.

Tara Houska, the founder of the Giniw Collective, called the DOJ’s move “a horrific failure of the government’s duty to tribal nations, to climate science, to the sacred.”

Wen Stephenson, who protested against Enbridge in Massachusetts last week, wrote for The Nation Tuesday that “the Giniw Collective and #StopLine3 campaign are demanding that the Biden administration suspend the project and order a review of the water-crossing permits issued under Trump.”

As Stephenson reports:

The state-level environmental impact statement (EIS), they point out, failed to consider the risks of (all but inevitable) oil spills; the impacts on “tribal cultural resources,” such as wild rice beds sacred to Anishinaabe people; as well as the project’s impact on climate change. If Biden orders a review and applies the same standard that compelled the Obama administration to reject the Keystone XL pipeline (to which Biden himself delivered the coup de grace upon taking office), then, as Houska says, “There’s no way it’s going to pass the test.”

According to Stephenson, who concluded with a call for solidarity with Line 3’s opponents, “What Enbridge is doing on Anishinaabe land in Minnesota, and what the fossil fuel industry and its political and financial backers are doing to drive global climate catastrophe, amounts to nothing less than a continuation of the genocide against the Indigenous peoples of the Americas and the Global South that began half a millennium ago.”


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Record-Breaking Northwest Heatwave Linked to Hundreds of Deaths

By Jake Johnson | Common Dreams

The record-shattering heatwave currently scorching the Pacific Northwest has been linked to hundreds of deaths in the region over just the past week, with British Columbia alone reporting at least 486 “sudden and unexpected” fatalities since last Friday.

“There is a way out of this nightmare of ever-worsening weather extremes… A rapid transition to clean energy.”
—Michael Mann, Susan Joy Hassol

While it’s unclear how many of those deaths were a direct consequence of the heatwave, the chief coroner of the Canadian province said in a statement that “it is believed likely that the significant increase in deaths reported is attributable to the extreme weather.”

In Oregon, the medical examiner’s office has received reports of more than 60 deaths believed to be tied to the dangerously high temperatures that have hit the state in recent days. On Monday, the temperature in Portland soared to a record 116°F—heat that was sufficient to melt city power cables. In the city of Salem, located roughly 50 miles south of Portland, the temperature reached an all-time high of 117°F.

“The preliminary cause of death for… 45 people in Multnomah County, ranging in age from 44 to 97, was determined to be hyperthermia, an unusually high body temperature caused by a failure of the body to deal with heat,” the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. “By contrast, there were 12 deaths from hyperthermia for all of Oregon between 2017 and 2019.”

According to the local medical examiner, many of those who died in Multnomah County were discovered alone without air conditioning or a fan.

Washington state has also experienced record-breaking heat, with two weather stations in Chelan County recording a temperature of 119°F on Tuesday afternoon. At least 13 people have reportedly died in the Seattle area as a result of the heatwave—a number that is likely to grow as high temperatures persist and investigations into recent deaths across the state continue.

CNN reported Thursday that “at least 676 people in Washington state visited emergency departments for heat-related symptoms from Friday through Sunday—before the heatwave hit its peak. On Monday alone, there were 688 heat-related emergency department visits.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who represents the Seattle area, said Wednesday that the heatwave further demonstrates that “climate action is literally a matter of life or death—and it can’t wait any longer.”

Scientists have directly attributed the devastating Pacific Northwest temperature spikes to the human-caused climate crisis, warning that governments’ continued failure to slash carbon emissions in line with the current science will lead to even more intense heatwaves in the near future, with the elderly, the unhoused, incarcerated people, and unprotected outdoor workers among the most vulnerable to such extreme conditions.

“We’ve long known that a warming climate would yield more extremely hot weather,” climate scientist Michael Mann and science communicator Susan Joy Hassol wrote in a New York Times op-ed earlier this week. “The science is clear on how human-caused climate change is already affecting heatwaves: Global warming has caused them to be hotter, larger, longer, and more frequent. What was once very rare events are becoming more common.”

“But there is a way out of this nightmare of ever-worsening weather extremes, and it’s one that will serve us well in many other ways, too,” they added. “A rapid transition to clean energy can stabilize the climate, improve our health, provide good-paying jobs, grow the economy, and ensure our children’s future. The choice is ours.”


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“Eye of Fire” Blaze in Gulf of Mexico Literally Shows the Ocean Caught on Fire

By | The Mind Unleashed

A massive ring of fire exploded onto the surface of the Gulf of Mexico on Friday, creating apocalyptic imagery that enveloped social media with unbelievable imagery of the “eye of fire.”

The harrowing “fire in the sea” came following a gas leak in an underwater pipeline near a drilling platform that was owned by Mexican state-owned oil company PEMEX.

The blaze, which resembled a lava flow from a volcano took some five hours to fully contain, and was extinguished by 10:45 a.m., reports USA Today.

In footage from the scene, a hellish orange glow can be seen beneath the churning ocean as boats sprayed streams of water in hopes to put out the blaze.

One video, which seems to depict footage out of a disaster movie, has accumulated over 21 million views at the time of this writing.

User Dave Anthony said: “Never in your life forget the time humans caught the ocean on fire and then tried to put it out by spraying water on it.”

While journalist Christopher Bouzy tweeted“I am not sure how spraying water on a fire that is literally in the ocean is going to help put it out. I need someone to make it make sense for me.”

Company workers resorted to using nitrogen to subdue the blaze.

Company workers used nitrogen to control the inferno, which resembled molten lava swirling on the water.

Fortunately, there were no injuries resulting from the disaster – although it is too early to gauge the impact on the local environment.




Protection from 5G Apocalypse

By Pia and Cullen | Laarkma

Lately, many people have asked us to supply links for protection against 5G and other EMFs, as more and more satellites are launched and turned on. While devices that offer protection cannot and will not solve the problem of 5G, they certainly can offer our physical and mental bodies a measure of relief until together we manage to stop this assault against life.

Arthur Firstenberg, the author of The Invisible Rainbow–A History of Electricity and Life, has provided an in-depth summary of what we are facing here. We recommend you thoroughly what he has to share in this article, and take it to heart.

Below you will find links to EMF protection devices. Make sure what you purchase is capable of handling 5G radiation, not just 3G and 4G EMFs.

Personally, we highly recommend Blushield Ultra Premium Portable and Ultra Premium and the Somavedic Medic Green Ultra devices, which have a powerful field effect against incoming 5G. You can check all of these and see which feels right for you. Investing in your health is always a good investment.

With kindness, compassion, and love,

Pia and Cullen

Blushield USA:

Blushield UK:

Blushield Australia:

Earthcalm Whole House Protection (US):

Somavedic (EU):

Geocleanse (AU):

Qi-Shield (UK) (Consciousspaces.com)

Grander Living Water Pendant (US):




Yellowstone is Losing Its Snow as the Climate Warms, and that Means Widespread Problems for Water and Wildlife

When you picture Yellowstone National Park and its neighbor, Grand Teton, the snowcapped peaks and Old Faithful Geyser almost certainly come to mind. Climate change threatens all of these iconic scenes, and its impact reaches far beyond the parks’ borders.

A new assessment of climate change in the two national parks and surrounding forests and ranchland warns of the potential for significant changes as the region continues to heat up.

Map showing the parks and forest land within the Greater Yellowstone Area

The Greater Yellowstone Area includes both Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, as well as surrounding national forests and federal land. National Park Service

Since 1950, average temperatures in the Greater Yellowstone Area have risen 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit (1.3 C), and potentially more importantly, the region has lost a quarter of its annual snowfall. With the region projected to warm 5-6 F by 2061-2080, compared with the average from 1986-2005, and by as much as 10-11 F by the end of the century, the high country around Yellowstone is poised to lose its snow altogether.

The loss of snow there has repercussions for a vast range of ecosystems and wildlife, as well as cities and farms downstream that rely on rivers that start in these mountains.

Broad impact on wildlife and ecosystems

The Greater Yellowstone Area comprises 22 million acres in northwest Wyoming and portions of Montana and Idaho. In addition to geysers and hot springs, it’s home to the southernmost range of grizzly bear populations in North America and some of the longest intact wildlife migrations, including the seasonal traverses of elk, pronghorn, mule deer and bison.

The area also represents the one point where the three major river basins of the western U.S. converge. The rivers of the Snake-Columbia basin, Green-Colorado basin, and Missouri River Basin all begin as snow on the Continental Divide as it weaves across Yellowstone’s peaks and plateaus.

How climate change alters the Greater Yellowstone Area is, therefore, a question with implications far beyond the impact on Yellowstone’s declining cutthroat trout population and disruptions to the food supplies critical for the region’s recovering grizzly population. By altering the water supply, it also shapes the fate of major Western reservoirs and their dependent cities and farms hundreds of miles downstream.

Rising temperatures also increase the risk of large forest fires like those that scarred Yellowstone in 1988 and broke records across Colorado in 2020. And the effects on the national parks could harm the region’s nearly US$800 billion in annual tourism activity across the three states.

A group of scientists led by Cathy Whitlock from Montana State University, Steve Hostetler of the U.S. Geological Survey and myself at the University of Wyoming partnered with local organizations, including the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, to launch the climate assessment.

We wanted to create a common baseline for discussion among the region’s many voices, from the Indigenous nations who have lived in these landscapes for over 10,000 years to the federal agencies mandated to care for the region’s public lands. What information would ranchers and outfitters, skiers and energy producers need to know to begin planning for the future?

Shifting from snow to rain

Standing at the University of Wyoming-National Park Service Research Station and looking up at the snow on the Grand Teton, over 13,000 feet above sea level, I cannot help but think that the transition away from snow is the most striking outcome that the assessment anticipates – and the most dire.

Today the average winter snowline – the level where almost all winter precipitation falls as snow – is at an elevation of about 6,000 feet. By the end of the century, warming is forecast to raise it to at least 10,000 feet, the top of Jackson Hole’s famous ski areas.

The climate assessment uses projections of future climates based on a scenario that assumes countries substantially reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. When we looked at scenarios in which global emissions continue at a high rate instead, the differences by the end of century compared with today became stark. Not even the highest peaks would regularly receive snow.

In interviews with people across the region, nearly everyone agreed that the challenge ahead is directly connected to water. As a member of one of the regional tribes noted, “Water is a big concern for everybody.”

As temperature has risen over the past seven decades, snowfall has declined, and peak streamflow shifted earlier in the year across the Greater Yellowstone Area. 2021 Greater Yellowstone Climate Assessment, CC BY-ND

Precipitation may increase slightly as the region warms, but less of it will fall as snow. More of it will fall in spring and autumn, while summers will become drier than they have been, our assessment found.

The timing of the spring runoff, when winter snow melts and feeds into streams and rivers, has already shifted ahead by about eight days since 1950. The shift means a longer, drier late summer when drought can turn the landscape brown – or black as the wildfire season becomes longer and hotter.

The outcomes will affect wildlife migrations dependent on the “green wave” of new leaves that rises up the mountain slopes each spring. Low streamflow and warm water in late summer will threaten the survival of coldwater fisheries, like the Yellowstone cutthroat trout, and Yellowstone’s unique species like the western glacier stonefly, which depends on the meltwater from mountain glaciers.

Temperatures are projected to rise in the Greater Yellowstone Area in the coming decades. The chart shows two potential scenarios, based on different projections of what global warming might look like in the future – RCP 8.5, if greenhouse gas emissions continue at a high rate; and RCP 4.5, if countries take substantial steps to slow climate change. The temperatures are compared with the 1900-2005 average. 2021 Greater Yellowstone Climate Assessment

Preparing for a warming future

These outcomes will vary somewhat from location to location, but no area will be untouched.

We hope the climate assessment will help communities anticipate the complex impacts ahead and start planning for the future.

As the report indicates, that future will depend on choices made now and in the coming years. Federal and state policy choices will determine whether the world will see optimistic scenarios or scenarios where adaption becomes more difficult. The Yellowstone region, one of the coldest parts of the U.S., will face changes, but actions now can help avoid the worst. High-elevation mountain towns like Jackson, Wyoming, which today rarely experience 90 F, may face a couple of weeks of such heat by the end of the century – or they may face two months of it, depending in large part on those decisions.

The assessment underscores the need for discussion. What choices do we want to make?

Bryan Shuman, Professor of Paleoclimatology and Paleoecology, University of Wyoming

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.




Vandana Shiva: Bill Gates’ Book “How to Avoid Climate Disaster” is RUBBISH | Interview with Russell Brand | Article by Dr. Mercola

By Dr. Joseph Mercola | mercola.com

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Big Tech is driving a new wave of colonization in the name of sustainability and “net-zero” carbon emissions
  • Tech billionaire Bill Gates, now the largest owner of farmland in the U.S., is at the root of the problem, pushing technology as the only mechanism to save the world, and in so doing denying real solutions
  • Shiva calls Gates’ book, “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster,” which pushes for the elimination of age-old farming traditions and widespread adoption of fake meat, “rubbish”
  • According to Shiva, in order to force the world to accept this new food and agricultural system, new conditionalities are being created through net-zero “nature-based” solutions, which will only further destroy indigenous people and small farmers
  • Net-zero does not mean zero emissions, Shiva says; it means the rich polluters will continue to pollute and also grab the land and resources of those who have not polluted

Vandana Shiva is a brilliant mind calling for inhabitants of the Earth to unite against forces that are threatening to destroy the planet, in part via a new wave of colonization in the name of sustainability.

Tech billionaire Bill Gates, now the largest owner of farmland in the U.S.,1 is at the root of the problem, pushing technology as the only mechanism to save the world, and in so doing denying real solutions. This path is not accidental but carefully orchestrated to amass wealth, power and control, while making all but the elite subservient.

In my interview with Vandana Shiva, Ph.D., she spoke about Gates Ag One,2 which is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, where Monsanto is also headquartered.

“Gates Ag One is one [type of] agriculture for the whole world, organized top-down. He’s written about it. We have a whole section on it in our new report,3 ‘Gates to a Global Empire,'” she said. This includes digital farming, in which farmers are surveilled and mined for their agricultural data, which is then repackaged and sold back to them.

Bill Gates’ New Book Is ‘Rubbish’

In the above Under the Skin podcast with Russel Brand, Shiva takes aim at Gates’ book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need,” which was released in February 20214 — calling it “rubbish:”5

“Just by chance I was reading the rubbish in Bill Gates’ new book. I normally don’t read rubbish but when they want to be rulers through rubbish, I read it. And it’s lovely because he says the greenhouse gases from factory farms are not because of factory farms and putting animals in prisons … it’s because the cows were the problem. They had four stomachs and the four stomachs make the methane.”

The reason cows in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) emit methane that smells is because they’re fed an unnatural diet of grains and placed in crowded quarters. It’s not a natural phenomenon. It’s a man-made one. “You walk behind a good cow on a grazing pasture, she’s not stinking,” Shiva said.6

The strong recommendation to replace beef with fake meat is also made in Gates’ book7 — another example of replacing a whole, natural food with something engineered, heavily processed, and fake. It all stems from an overreaching theme of arrogance and the desire for recolonization and a global empire.

The idea is to imply or create an environment in which, survival isn’t possible without technology. “It is a denial of the richness of agroecological pieces of knowledge and practices that are resurging around the world,” according to one of Navdanya’s reports.8

Shiva founded Navdanya, a nonprofit organization promoting biodiversity, organic farming, and seed saving, in 1994. She has also traveled the globe to warn other countries, including Africa, about plans to displace rural farmers so investors can turn the land into industrial farms to export the commodities.

Gates’ book talks about eliminating age-old farming traditions, which Shiva believes must be protected. Speaking with Brand, Shiva said:9

“He [Gates] has put the Indian plow that has existed for 10,000 years and says this primitive technology must go. I call this, as the future technology, a partnership between our bodies, the body of the Earth, and the body of the animals — realizing that we are not masters but we are there to serve through what Gandhi called bread labor, the labor of our body in the service of the Earth, in the service of community.

So we are for sure at an epic moment where everything wrong is being given a new life just at the time when the world was waking up … I think this is happening … because of arrogance … we’ve destroyed every international law, we’ve destroyed all democracy, we have locked people into fear … you know, the British empire had that arrogance.” 

Breaking the Sacred Relationship With Food

Industrialization started the process of severing humans’ age-old connections to their food and the land on which it’s grown. “Now, with digitalization,” Shiva said, “they would like to end it forever.”10 Tech giants, in an effort to drive home digital agriculture, are working to reduce life to software11 while advancing digital surveillance systems.

So far, Shiva’s organization has managed to prevent Gates from introducing a seed surveillance startup, where farmers would not be allowed to grow seeds unless approved by Gates’ surveillance system. The data mining, Shiva says, is needed because they don’t actually know agriculture.

This is why Gates finances the policing of farmers. He needs to mine their data to learn how farming is actually done. In countering the tech giants’ attempts to remove humans’ sacred relationship to food, Shiva states we can fight back by remembering and focusing on a few essential principles:12

  • Food is the currency of life
  • The highest duty is to grow and give food in abundance
  • The worst sin is to let someone go hungry in your neighborhood, not grow food, and, worse, sell bad food

“We’ve got to bring to the center of our everyday life the rituals that make life sacred,” Shiva said. “Our breath … breath is what connects us to the world … water connects us to the world. Food connects us to the world.”13

‘Net Zero’ Nonsense

Gates has been vocal that achieving “net-zero” emissions will be the “most amazing thing humanity has ever done.”14 By 2030, he’s pushing for drastic, fundamental changes, including widespread consumption of fake meat, adoption of next-generation nuclear energy, and growing a fungus as a new type of nutritional protein.15

The deadline Gates has given to reach net-zero emissions is 2050,16 likely because he wants to realize his global vision during his lifetime. But according to Shiva, in order to force the world to accept this new food and agricultural system, new conditionalities are being created through net-zero “nature-based” solutions. Navdanya’s report, “Earth Democracy: Connecting Rights of Mother Earth to Human Rights and Well-Being of All,” explains:17

“If ‘feeding the world’ through chemicals and dwarf varieties bred for chemicals was the false narrative created to impose the Green Revolution, the new false narrative is ‘sustainability’ and ‘saving the planet.’ In the new ‘net zero’ world, farmers will not be respected and rewarded as custodians of the land and caregivers, as Annadatas, the providers of our food and health.

They will not be paid a fair and just price for growing healthy food through ecological processes, which protect and regenerate the farming systems as a whole.

They will be paid for linear extraction of fragments of the ecological functions of the system, which can be tied to the new ‘net zero’ false climate solution based on a fake calculus, fake science allowing continued emissions while taking control over the land of indigenous people and small farmers.

‘Net Zero’ is a new strategy to get rid of small farmers in first through ‘digital farming’ and ‘farming without farmers’ and then through the burden of fake carbon accounting.

Carbon offsets and the new accounting trick of ‘net zero’ does not mean zero emissions. It means the rich polluters will continue to pollute and also grab the land and resources of those who have not polluted — indigenous people and small farmers — for carbon offsets.”

Gates already alluded to this double-standard in responding to those who criticized him for the hypocrisy of being a serious polluter himself, with a 66,000 square-foot mansion, a private jet, 242,000 acres of farmland, and investments in fossil fuel-dependent industries such as airlines, heavy machinery, and cars.18

This pollution is acceptable, Gates said, because, “I am offsetting my carbon emissions by buying clean aviation fuel, and funding carbon capture and funding low-cost housing projects to use electricity instead of natural gas.”19

Carbon Colonization and Carbon Slavery

Carbon colonization and carbon slavery are two terms being used to explain the reality behind carbon trade, which is being regarded by Big Tech as the next big opportunity, Shiva says.20 Carbon trade refers to the buying and selling of credits that allow a company to emit a certain amount of carbon dioxide,21 but by buying up credits from nonpolluters, the industry can continue to pollute.

Technocracy is also a resource-based economic system, which is why the World Economic Forum talks about the creation of “sustainable digital finance,”22 a carbon-based economy and carbon credit trading.23 As explained on its website:24

“Digital finance refers to the integration of big data, artificial intelligence (AI), mobile platforms, blockchain and the Internet of things (IoT) in the provision of financial services. Sustainable finance refers to financial services integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria into the business or investment decisions.

When combined, sustainable digital finance can take advantage of emerging technologies to analyze data, power investment decisions and grow jobs in sectors supporting a transition to a low-carbon economy.”

As Navdanya’s report explains, however, this will ultimately further remove the rights of small farmers, who will be forced into a new form of data slavery:25

“A global ‘seal’ of approval based on fake science, fake economics of maximizing profits through extraction will create new data slavery for farmers. Instead of using their own heads and cocreating with the Earth, they will be forced to buy ‘Big Data.’ Instead of obeying the laws of Mother Earth, they will be forced to obey algorithms created by Big Tech and Big Ag.”

Focusing solely on carbon reductionism also misses the point that “forests, lands, ecosystems are so much more than the carbon stored in them,” and putting conditionalities on small farmers will only make environmental injustices worse. The report adds:26

“Conditionalities under any condition violate democratic principles and human rights. Farmers are guided by Earth care. The culture of Earth care needs to be respected and rewarded because it is centered on rights of the Earth and rights of all her children … Conditionalities put on the nonpolluters by the polluters who want to continue to pollute is unjust and ecologically, morally and ethically bankrupt.”

‘The Universe Is Divine’

According to the ancient Vedas, the universe is divine, and everything therein — even the smallest grass — is an expression of the divine. “When I go to villages,” Shiva told Brand, “women will do sacred ceremonies with indigenous seed. They will never use a hybrid seed for a sacred ceremony … It’s quite amazing. No one told them, but they have that understanding of integrity and what the sacred means. It means to treat without violation.”27

The universe exists for the well-being of all, but her gifts must be enjoyed without greed, Shiva explained. Taking more than your share is theft, and will only backfire. The solution to true sustainability doesn’t lie with new technology but is relying on the natural “technology” that is the universe:28

“It is by learning from the Earth that we can regenerate the Earth. We have to become students of Mother Earth, not try and dominate her. When we practice agriculture in unison with the Earth’s ecological processes aligned with the ecological laws of nature and the Earth, we evolve an agriculture of care for the land, for the soil. We participate in the process of regenerating the seed and biodiversity, soil and water.”




EPA Inaction Blamed as US Bees Suffer Second Highest Colony Losses on Record

By Andrea Germanos | Common Dreams

Beekeepers this year in the United States reported the second-highest annual loss of managed honey bee colonies since records began in 2006, according to results of a nationwide survey released Wednesday.

The non-profit Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) said in its preliminary analysis that beekeepers—ranging from small backyard keepers to commercial operations—lost 45.5% of their colonies between April 2020 and April 2021. The results are based on a survey of over 3,300 U.S. beekeepers managing a combined 192,384 colonies.

“The worrisome part is we see no progress towards a reduction of losses.”

“This year’s survey results show that colony losses are still high,” said Nathalie Steinhauer, BIP’s science coordinator and a post-doctoral researcher in the University of Maryland Department of Entomology, in a statement.

The annual loss is 6.1 percentage points higher than the average loss rate of 39.4% over the last 10 years, the researchers said.

“Though we see fluctuations from year to year,” said Steinhauer, “the worrisome part is we see no progress towards a reduction of losses.”

During winter beekeepers reported losses of 32.2%—9.6 percentage points higher than last year and 3.9 points higher than the 15-year average. Summer losses came in at 31.1%. While that figure is 0.9 percentage points lower than last year, it’s 8.6 points higher than the survey average.

The beekeepers attributed the losses this year to a number of factors, with the parasitic Varroa destructor mite being cited most frequently for winter losses and queen issues most frequent for summer losses. Other causes of colony loss beekeepers cited included starvation, weather, and pesticides.

Continued losses are bad news for food security, as agricultural crops like blueberries and almonds rely on the bees for pollination.

“Beekeepers of all types consistently lose a high number of colonies each year, which puts a heavy burden on many of them to recoup those losses in time for major pollination events like California almonds,” said survey co-author Geoffrey Williams, an assistant professor of entomology at Auburn University.

“Colony losses remain elevated,” he said, “and this year’s annual and summer loss rates are among the highest recorded.”

For Jason Davidson, senior food and agriculture campaigner with Friends of the Earth, the survey results were a damning indictment of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) failure to act on what conservation advocates call an “insect apocalypse” that was furthered by the Trump administration’s pro-pesticide industry decisions.

“These bee losses highlight the disturbing lack of progress from the EPA in the fight to protect pollinators from toxic pesticides,” said Davidson, urging the EPA not to “sit on the sidelines while beekeepers experience horrific losses year after year.”

“It will take meaningful policy protection and rapid market change to reverse these unsustainable declines in honey bees and to protect the future of our food supply,” he added.

BIP’s findings were delivered during National Pollinator Week and as Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) reintroduced (pdf) the Saving America’s Pollinators Act.

Pollinators, Blumenauer said Wednesday, are “critically important to the food we eat and the environment that sustains us. Unfortunately, our pollinators weren’t immune from [former President Donald] Trump’s war on science and the environment. In fact, they were a target, as the previous administration actually fought to allow more bee-killing pesticides back on the market.”

“Now, it’s up to us to work overtime to protect them, which is why I’ve reintroduced Saving America’s Pollinators Act,” he said.

According to Emily Knobbe, policy manager at the Center for Food Safety, which endorsed the legislation, “National Pollinator Week is the perfect time for Rep. Blumenauer to reintroduce his progressive pollinator protection bill—and a perfect time to ask legislators to support this continued dedication to pollinators.”

She said the latest version of the bill rightly responds to the decline in pollinator health, pointing to the 80% decline in 20 years of the Eastern Monarch butterfly populations as one example. She also pointed to a group of pesticides called neonicotinoids, or neonics, as key to pollinator recovery, given their links to pollinator harm.

“Rep. Blumenauer’s bill would require not a suspension, but a ban on all neonicotinoid pesticides,” wrote Knobbe. “This change to the proposed legislation reflects that the time for requesting incremental action from the EPA has passed.”

“Pollinators need swift action in order to survive—banning neonicotinoids would provide a lifeline for these essential species,” she said.


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Global Hopes in Doubt After G7 Fails to Meet Climate Finance Pledges for Poor Nations

Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched through central Paris (and other French towns) on Saturday 13 Oct 2018 calling on the French government and the international community to do more to tackle climate change. (Photo: Jeanne Menjoulet via Flickr)

By Andrea Germanos | Common Dreams

The Group of 7 leaders last week ended their summit without a firm and clear commitment on how they’re going to deliver on the annual $100 billion climate finance pledge they made over a decade ago, sparking criticism from United Nations climate chief Patricia Espinosa.

The climate finance for developing nations, Espinosa has said, is “absolutely crucial” to the success of ongoing climate negotiations.

“Regarding finance,” she told the UK Observer, “I’d have really hoped for a clearer signal on how and when we will be able to see the commitment to mobilize the $100 billion fulfilled.”

“There is little point in climate-vulnerable nations showing up in Glasgow to do business with governments that break their promises.”

“This is one condition to be able to have a good basis to have a successful COP26,” Espinosa said in reference to the November climate negotiations in Glasgow. “It is essential. We cannot afford a lack of success.”

The G7 closed out the summit with “commitments to get to the target” ahead of Glasgow, the Guardian reported, “but a lack of detail remained about precisely how much money wealthier nations would be willing to give.”

Last week, Espinosa told Agence France-Presse that a commitment to climate finance would be a “central element for a successful outcome at COP26.”

“$100 billion is a lot of money,” she said, “but we also know what is required for the deep transformation that is needed is much more.”

Wealthy nations made the climate finance commitment (pdf) in 2010, and it was formalized in the Paris climate agreement. The annual funds would “help developing countries quit fossil fuels and protect against climate impacts,” as Mark Hertsgaard wrote this month for Covering Climate Now. He further explained:

This obligation, which was to take effect in 2020, was grounded in the truism that climate change is overwhelmingly caused by the rich but disproportionately punishes the poor. Rich countries have not honored their $100 billion pledge either. Instead of $100 billion a year of climate aid, they have provided about $20 billion, according to an analysis that the global anti-poverty NGO Oxfam conducted of 2018 figures (the last year of authoritative data). […]

Supplying climate aid is an act not of charity but rather of self-preservation, according to a landmark International Energy Agency report released last month. In order to hold the global temperature rise to 1.5 C, the IEA said, the world must halt all new fossil fuel development, and both developing and developed countries alike must shift rapidly to non-carbon energy. That shift will be “impossible” for developing countries, [U.N. Secretary General António] Guterres said, without sizable financial and technological help.

In May, ahead of the G7’s June 11-13 summit in Cornwall in the U.K., Espinosa stressed to G7 climate and environment ministers the urgency of “comprehensive financial support for developing nations to address climate change.”

“We cannot put out a wildfire threatening to engulf the whole world with a few wet blankets. We must fully extinguish it.”

“The reality is that this is an act of collective self-interest,” she said. “Again, we cannot put out a wildfire threatening to engulf the whole world with a few wet blankets. We must fully extinguish it.”

While the G7 communiqué issued at end of the summit reaffirmed a commitment to “jointly mobilize $100 billion per year from public and private sources, through to 2025,” as Reuters reported, climate activists said the pledge fell short.

“The G7’s reaffirmation of the previous $100 billion a year target doesn’t come close to addressing the urgency and scale of the crisis,” said Teresa Anderson of Action Aid.

Saleemul Huq, director of the Bangladesh-based International Center for Climate Change and Development, expressed similar frustration.

In a Reuters op-ed last week, he wrote that the G7 “issued a communiqué touching on their plans [to] increase their climate finance and meet the goal—but failed to provide clarity on how, and simply punted the decision to the next meeting of the G20 taking place in Italy in September.”

“It is therefore clear that rich countries have simply decided to ignore this collective finance commitment—and each country is calculating for itself what it is supposed to provide and what they will count towards their respective share,” wrote Huq.

He further lamented that the climate finance pledge isn’t in the trillions, calling $100 billion annually “not at all commensurate with the scale of climate finance required to help developing nations adopt clean energy and adapt to worsening extreme weather and rising seas.”

Simply put, said Huq, if the wealthy G7 can’t pony up the pledged money immediately, developing nations should skip the COP26 climate talks in Scotland this November.

“If the money is not delivered before November,” he said, “then there is little point in climate-vulnerable nations showing up in Glasgow to do business with governments that break their promises.”


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Indigenous Women Invite Deb Haaland to See Devastation of Line 3 for Herself

Secretary Deb Haaland Budget Testimony. ( Photo via Flickr)

By Kenny Stancil | Common Dreams

A group of Indigenous women opposed to the Line 3 pipeline on Thursday invited Interior Secretary Deb Haaland—the first Native American woman to hold her Cabinet position and a professed critic of fossil fuel infrastructure on public and tribal lands—to visit northern Minnesota and “learn more about the impacts” of the tar sands project first-hand.

“We would be honored to host you in our territories and share further about our treaty rights, the violation of free, prior, and informed consent now occurring, the importance of wild rice to our communities, and the impacts of Line 3.”
—Letter to Interior Secretary Haaland

“The Line 3 pipeline project poses a significant threat to water, Indigenous Treaty rights, and worsens the global climate crisis,” the group wrote in a letter (pdf) addressed to Haaland. “Line 3 is being constructed in Minnesota on Indigenous lands without consent from local tribes and public officials, and without a federal environmental review.”

As the group noted, “Enbridge’s new pipeline route crosses the 1854 and 1855 Treaty territories, where Anishinaabe people retain the right to hunt, fish, gather medicines and harvest wild rice. The impact of construction—or worse, an oil spill—would permanently damage our people’s ability to exercise these rights.”

“The White Earth Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe and the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians wrote (pdf) to President Joe Biden informing him these sovereign nations do not consent to Line 3 and have enacted multiple resolutions opposing the project, and requesting President Biden respect treaty rights,” the group added. “So far, President Biden and the Army Corps of Engineers haven’t listened to our voices—we are hoping they will listen to yours.”

The invitation was sent by Tara Houska (Couchiching First Nation), Giniw Collective; Winona LaDuke (White Earth Nation), Honor the Earth; Taysha Martineau (The Fond Du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa), Camp Migizi; Sasha Beaulieu (Red Lake Nation), Red Lake Treaty Camp; Simone Senogles (Red Lake Nation), Indigenous Environmental Network and RISE Coalition; and Joye Braun (Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe), Indigenous Environmental Network.

The letter states:

The Army Corps of Engineers must immediately reevaluate and suspend or revoke Enbridge’s Line 3 Clean Water Act Section 404 permit. The Army Corps failed to consider significant information on Line 3’s impacts in reaching its original determination, including the risks of oil spills, climate change effects, and consequences to Indigenous peoples. The Army Corps also refused to prepare a federal Environmental Impact Statement for Line 3, despite overwhelming evidence that the project would have significant impacts.

The new Line 3 route will run from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to the shores of Lake Superior, crossing 227 lakes and rivers, including the headwaters of the Mississippi River and rivers that feed directly into Lake Superior, putting all those waterways at imminent risk of a spill from the 760,000 barrels of tar sands oil that would flow daily.

Climate scientists warn that we must keep the vast majority of known fossil fuels reserves in the ground and drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions before 2030 to achieve international climate goals. Line 3 would release emissions equivalent to building 50 new coal plants, costing society more than $287 billion in climate impacts in just its first 30 years of operation.

Line 3 will increase tar sands export by 370,000 barrels per day. In the most severe drought we have seen in this time, Enbridge plans to take 630 million gallons of water from the fish and the wild rice. All of this puts our pristine ecosystems on the verge of collapse, with significant impacts on federally protected areas including major waterfowl production areas, and forested areas.

Not only does the spill-prone pipeline—which scientists and activists have described as a “climate time bomb”—threaten local ecosystems and communities while exacerbating the carbon pollution driving planetary heating, but opponents say it also puts Indigenous people at risk of physical and sexual violence.

“It is well documented that ‘man camps’ set up along the pipeline route are directly linked with increased rates of drug use, sex trafficking, and missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls,” the group wrote. “Already this year, two Line 3 pipeline workers in Itasca County, Minnesota were arrested and charged with human trafficking, and specifically, solicitation of a minor.”

The Indigenous leaders vowed the coalition opposed to the project would continue direct actions against the pipeline while legal challenges make their way through the courts.

“None of us want further harms or mass arrests for communities on the ground protecting water, the global climate, and Indigenous lands,” the women wrote. “There have been over 500 arrests since construction began in December. Old and young, Indigenous and allied, church and religious people of all walks are engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience to stop the pipeline. We do not want to see an escalation of militarized force against water protectors.”

The letter comes on the heels of a historic weekend of nonviolent, direct action against Line 3. The mass mobilization on June 7—the largest demonstration against the pipeline to date—was brutally repressed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which used low-flying helicopters to kick up sand and debris to force water protectors away from the protest site.

Two days later, the Keystone XL—whose federal permit was rescinded by Biden on the first day of his presidency—was officially declared dead when the corporation behind the tar sands pipeline terminated the project after more than a decade of grassroots organizing, agitation, and tireless opposition by the international climate movement.

That huge victory has only intensified the resolve of Indigenous rights and environmental justice advocates to force Biden to use his executive authority to pull the plug on other destructive fossil fuel projects, including Line 3, the Dakota Access Pipeline, and others advanced during the Trump administration.

“We greatly appreciate your consideration and hope that you will accept this invitation to visit our homelands,” the group said to Haaland. “We would be honored to host you in our territories and share further about our treaty rights, the violation of free, prior, and informed consent now occurring, the importance of wild rice to our communities, and the impacts of Line 3.”


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Record Heat and Flimsy Power Grid Across US Illustrates Urgent Need for Green Infrastructure

By Julia Conley | Common Dreams

With states across the southern and western United States facing record high temperatures weeks before the hottest months of the year, scientists and progressive lawmakers on Wednesday doubled down on calls for green infrastructure to ensure the nation is prepared for increasing levels of extreme weather on a rapidly warming planet.

For the second time in four months, state regulators in Texas on Monday warned residents that the demand for energy was straining the state’s power grid, asking millions to set their thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, turn off lights, and avoid washing clothes and cooking.

“If we talk about infrastructure without considering how that infrastructure needs to match the climate conditions from today on into the future, then we’re building something that won’t stand a chance.” —Julie McNamara, Union of Concerned Scientists

Nevada and Arizona residents were also advised about drought conditions, wildfires, and extreme heat, and in California regulators on Tuesday warned people that they may soon be asked to conserve energy as parts of the state saw temperatures rising to 110 degrees and several wildfires burning.

Temperatures across Texas have reached the 90s this week, and the power demand on Monday came to 70 gigawatts—breaking the state’s record for June and coming close to the maximum that the grid was able to offer with some power plants offline for reasons that were unclear.

The New York Times noted that in the state’s deregulated energy system, power producers sometimes “simply choose not to offer electricity into the market because it might not prove economically beneficial, leaving customers short on energy and paying high prices for the power they do get.”

Following the winter storm in Texas in February that left nearly five million homes and businesses without electricity for days and was linked to more than 100 deaths, state lawmakers introduced legislation to better weatherize the power grid, but critics said this week’s heatwave has demonstrated how the plan is inadequate.

“If we talk about infrastructure without considering how that infrastructure needs to match the climate conditions from today on into the future, then we’re building something that won’t stand a chance,” Julie McNamara, a senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told the Times. 

According to The Guardian, solar power generation—demand for which skyrocketed after February’s power failure—has kept millions of Texans’ lights from going out this week.

“We have over five times as much solar as we had a few years ago and that made the difference in having these afternoons when we’ve had calls for conservation,” Dan Cohan, a civil engineering professor at Rice University, told The Guardian. “There likely would have been rolling blackouts if we didn’t have solar farms online.”

Kevin Doffing, a Houston resident who bought a solar energy system after the winter storm, told the Times, “I just don’t see how we keep doing what we’ve been doing and expect different results.”

The state’s power grid was “deregulated and designed 20 years ago,” said Mike Collier, a former adviser to President Joe Biden who is running for lieutenant governor in the state, and is now in “desperate need of modernization and simply hasn’t kept up with technology.”

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) tweeted that the power grid’s failure to provide for the state’s needs in unseasonably cold and hot weather—both of which are expected to continue amid the climate emergency—underscores the need “to invest in clean and renewable energy infrastructure.”

“The need to include climate action in any infrastructure package should not be in question,” said Lori Lodes, executive director of Climate Power.

As February’s storms left 69% of Texans without electricity, the state’s Republican leaders were quick to blame progressives who have pushed for a Green New Deal and an infrastructure plan that includes clean energy investments—despite agreement among experts that failures of fossil fuel-powered energy sources were behind the crisis.

In fact, said Dan Lashof of the World Resources Institute, “investing in modernizing our electricity grid to make it more resilient” is one key component of rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, despite Republican claims that the proposal doesn’t qualify as “traditional” infrastructure.

“Which provisions of the American Jobs Plan do opponents want to cut when they say they want to limit spending to ‘traditional’ infrastructure?” Lashof asked on social media.

“If we do all of these things fast enough and at large enough scale we will create millions of good jobs, reduce death and disease, and cut our emissions of heat-trapping pollution in half within a decade,” said Lashof.


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Climate Campaigners Welcome SCOTUS Refusal to Hear Big Oil’s Appeal of California Lawsuits

Forward on Climate Rally (Photo: Ben Schumin | Flickr)

By Brett Wilkins | Common Dreams

Climate campaigners on Monday welcomed the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to hear an appeal by oil and gas companies including BP, Chevron, and ExxonMobil seeking to shift a lawsuit from state to federal court, a move that means litigation filed by states and cities against fossil fuel corporations will continue to play out in lower courts.

“Appeals courts have overwhelmingly agreed that climate liability lawsuits filed in state courts belong in state courts.” —Richard Wiles, Center for Climate Integrity

The decision represents “a blow to Big Oil’s efforts to escape accountability,” tweeted the Center for Climate Integrity.

The justices denied a writ of certiorari in Chevron v. Oakland, the oil giant’s response to landmark lawsuits by numerous California counties and cities alleging fossil fuel companies including Chevron, Exxon, BP, ConocoPhillips, and Shell are responsible for subjecting their residents to adverse effects of climate change, including sea-level rise, flooding, wildfires, heatwaves, and extreme weather events.

“Big Oil and Gas companies keep trying to evade responsibility for their role in the climate crisis so they can stick taxpayers with the bill for the massive damages their products cause,” Richard Wiles, executive director of the Center for Climate Integrity, said in a statement welcoming the decision. “Appeals courts have overwhelmingly agreed that climate liability lawsuits filed in state courts belong in state courts.”

Furthermore, the plaintiffs accused fossil fuel corporations of waging a decades-long campaign of denial and deception about the harms some of them knew for decades that their products caused.

The oil companies wanted the case moved from state to federal court where, according to Bloomberg Law, they tend to secure more favorable outcomes.

The Bay Area cities of Oakland and San Francisco in 2017 were the first U.S. municipalities to sue Big Oil seeking to hold fossil fuel polluters accountable for driving the climate emergency. Since then, at least 26 state and local governments have filed similar lawsuits against fossil fuel corporations, according to the Center for Climate Integrity, which filed amicus briefs in some of the cases.

In May 2020, a panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in two separate rulings overturned a federal district court’s ruling dismissing the Oakland and San Francisco lawsuits, sending the cases back to lower courts for further consideration. The panel also ruled that day that climate damage lawsuits filed by half a dozen other California counties and cities should continue in state courts.

“The Supreme Court did the right thing by letting the Ninth Circuit’s ruling stand,” Wiles said. “Oakland, San Francisco, and the more than 20 other states and communities seeking to hold Big Oil accountable deserve their day in court.”


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Earth’s Atmospheric CO2 Soars to Highest Level in 4 Million Years

By Brett Wilkins | The Defender

New data released Monday showed atmospheric carbon dioxide reached a monthly average level of 419 parts per million in May, which is not only the maximum reading ever recorded since accurate measurements began 63 years ago but also the highest level the planet has experienced in over 4 million years.

Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Scripps Institute of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego working at NOAA’s Mauna Loa Atmospheric Baseline Observatory in Hawaii said the May measurements — an increase from 417 parts per million (ppm) in May 2020 — mean that “the atmospheric burden of CO2 is now comparable to where it was during the Pliocene Climatic Optimum, between 4.1 and 4.5 million years ago, when CO2 was close to, or above 400 ppm.”

“During that time, sea level was about 78 feet higher than today, the average temperature was 7°F higher than in pre-industrial times, and studies indicate large forests occupied areas of the Arctic that are now tundra,” they said.

The scientists noted that while the worldwide economic slowdown during the coronavirus pandemic led to a significant but temporary decrease in global greenhouse gas emissions, the drop had no discernible impact on the rate of atmospheric CO2 accumulation.

As Common Dreams reported, atmospheric CO2 concentrations surged past 420 ppm for the first time in recorded history in April.

Ralph Keeling, the geochemist in charge of Scripps’ Mauna Loa program, said that “the ultimate control knob on atmospheric CO2 is fossil-fuel emissions” and that “we still have a long way to go to halt the rise, as each year more CO2 piles up in the atmosphere.”

“We ultimately need cuts that are much larger and sustained longer than the COVID-related shutdowns of 2020,” he added.

Pieter Tans, a senior scientist at NOAA’s Global Monitoring Laboratory, noted that CO2 is stored in the Earth’s oceans and atmosphere for thousands of years after it is emitted.

“We are adding roughly 40 billion metric tons of CO2 pollution to the atmosphere per year,” Tans said in a statement announcing the new figures. “That is a mountain of carbon that we dig up out of the Earth, burn and release into the atmosphere as CO2 — year after year.”

“If we want to avoid catastrophic climate change, the highest priority must be to reduce CO2 pollution to zero at the earliest possible date,” stressed Tans.

Such a reduction would require a dramatic shift in human activity — especially by the world’s wealthiest 1%, who according to a September 2020 study by Oxfam emit more than twice as much CO2 as the poorest 50% of humanity.

“The solution is right before our eyes,” said Tans. “Solar energy and wind are already cheaper than fossil fuels and they work at the scales that are required. If we take real action soon, we might still be able to avoid catastrophic climate change.”

The new figures come as world leaders and policymakers prepare for the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference — also known as COP26 — which will be held in Glasgow, Scotland this November.

Originally published by Common Dreams.




Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Hits Highest Level in Over 4 Million Years

By Brett Wilkins | Common Dreams

New data released Monday showed atmospheric carbon dioxide reached a monthly average level of 419 parts per million in May, which is not only the maximum reading ever recorded since accurate measurements began 63 years ago but also the highest level the planet has experienced in over four million years.

“The solution is right before our eyes. Solar energy and wind are already cheaper than fossil fuels and they work at the scales that are required. If we take real action soon, we might still be able to avoid catastrophic climate change.” —Pieter Tans, NOAA

Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Scripps Institute of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego working at NOAA’s Mauna Loa Atmospheric Baseline Observatory in Hawaii said the May measurements—an increase from 417 parts per million (ppm) in May 2020—mean that “the atmospheric burden of CO2 is now comparable to where it was during the Pliocene Climatic Optimum, between 4.1 and 4.5 million years ago, when CO2 was close to, or above 400 ppm.”

“During that time, sea level was about 78 feet higher than today, the average temperature was 7°F higher than in pre-industrial times, and studies indicate large forests occupied areas of the Arctic that are now tundra,” they said.

The scientists noted that while the worldwide economic slowdown during the coronavirus pandemic led to a significant but temporary decrease in global greenhouse gas emissions, the drop had no discernible impact on the rate of atmospheric CO2 accumulation.

As reported, atmospheric COconcentrations surged past 420 ppm for the first time in recorded history in April.

Ralph Keeling, the geochemist in charge of Scripps’ Mauna Loa program, said that “the ultimate control knob on atmospheric CO2 is fossil-fuel emissions” and that “we still have a long way to go to halt the rise, as each year more CO2 piles up in the atmosphere.”

“We ultimately need cuts that are much larger and sustained longer than the Covid-related shutdowns of 2020,” he added.

Pieter Tans, a senior scientist at NOAA’s Global Monitoring Laboratory, noted that CO2 is stored in the Earth’s oceans and atmosphere for thousands of years after it is emitted.

“We are adding roughly 40 billion metric tons of CO2 pollution to the atmosphere per year,” Tans said in a statement announcing the new figures. “That is a mountain of carbon that we dig up out of the Earth, burn, and release into the atmosphere as CO2—year after year.”

“If we want to avoid catastrophic climate change, the highest priority must be to reduce CO2 pollution to zero at the earliest possible date,” stressed Tans.

Such a reduction would require a dramatic shift in human activity—especially by the world’s wealthiest 1%, who according to a September 2020 study by Oxfam emit more than twice as much COas the poorest 50% of humanity.

“The solution is right before our eyes,” said Tans. “Solar energy and wind are already cheaper than fossil fuels and they work at the scales that are required. If we take real action soon, we might still be able to avoid catastrophic climate change.”

The new figures come as world leaders and policymakers prepare for the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference—also known as COP26—which will be held in Glasgow, Scotland this November.


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Water Protectors Gather for ‘Largest Resistance Yet’ to Line 3 as Enbridge Accelerates Pipeline Construction

(Photo: UnicornRiot.Ninja)

By Jake Johnson | Common Dreams

Thousands of people from across the nation are traveling to northern Minnesota this weekend to join Indigenous leaders in what organizers described as the “largest resistance yet” to Line 3, an Enbridge-owned tar sands pipeline whose construction has accelerated in recent days as opponents warn the project poses a threat to waterways and the climate.

The Treaty People Gathering kicked off Saturday, the first of several expected days of action against Enbridge’s multi-billion-dollar project, which aims to replace and expand the Canadian company’s existing pipeline along a route that crosses more than 200 bodies of water and 800 wetlands.

If completed, the pipeline would have the capacity to carry more than 750,000 barrels of tar sands oil per day from Alberta, Canada to Wisconsin.

Indigenous leaders have decried the pipeline expansion as a brazen violation of treaty rights that endangers sacred land. Attempts to block the pipeline in court have yet to succeed, leading Line 3 opponents to turn their focus to large-scale protests and civil disobedience.

“We need to protect all that we have left of the sacred gifts and land,” said Dawn Goodwin of the Indigenous-led RISE Coalition. “I said that I would do all that I could. And I have done all that I could in the legal system, thus far following that process. Now, they have failed us through regulatory capture and corporate financing. So now we need you.”

The latest major demonstrations against Line 3 are expected to begin on Monday, with prominent environmentalists such as Jane Fonda and Bill McKibben slated to join Winona LaDuke, Tara Houska, and other Indigenous activists in protesting the spill-prone pipeline.

“Our Mother needs us to be brave, to give voice to the sacred and future generations,” Houska, founder of the Giniw Collective, said in a statement. “We’ve elevated the national profile of Line 3 through people power. [President Joe] Biden hears our voices, but the wetlands and wild rice need action.”

“We cannot mitigate the climate crisis and we cannot stand idly by as DAPL and Line 5 fossil fuels flow illegally, as young people chain themselves to the Mountain Valley pipeline and Line 3,” Houska continued. “Stand up for what is right, stand up for those not yet born.”

Around 250 people have been arrested in demonstrations against Line 3 since construction began last December.

“From April 1 through June 1, work on the pipeline itself ceased due to spring road and environmental restrictions, though Enbridge continued building pumping stations,” Minnesota’s Star Tribune reported Saturday. “Over the past week, the full workforce—which numbers over 4,000—returned as direct pipeline work resumed.”

Hundreds of environmental groups and Indigenous leaders have appealed directly to Biden to intervene against Line 3, just as he pulled the plug on the Keystone XL pipeline shortly after taking office.

In a March letter, a coalition of more than 370 organizations warned Biden that “Line 3 is a threat to water, Indigenous rights, and our global climate, and its rushed construction in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic is an extreme danger to Minnesotan communities and energy workers alike.”

But Biden has yet to take any action on Line 3, and just last month his administration formally opposed a shutdown of the Dakota Access Pipeline, angering environmentalists who said the move flies in the face of the president’s vows to treat the climate crisis as an emergency that requires bold action.

“President Biden did the right thing when he canceled the Keystone XL pipeline early on in his term,” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) tweeted on Friday. “Now he must do the right thing and cancel Line 3. I renew my calls to end this destructive, unnecessary giveaway to Big Oil.”


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Climate Crisis and Negligent Policymakers Blamed for ‘Record Sickening Levels’ of Manatee Deaths in Florida

By Julia Conley | Common Dreams

Conservation advocates in Florida are warning that 1,000 manatees in the state’s water could die this year—hundreds more than in recent years—due to starvation drove by water pollution, the climate crisis, and other man-made harms to the mammals’ ecosystem.

As The Guardian reported Monday, 749 manatees died between January 1 and May 21, compared with 637 deaths in all of 2020, qualifying as an “unusual mortality event” according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

“Manatees are literally that sentinel species. They’re warning us of what else is going to come if we don’t do a better job while there’s still time to do something about it. If we don’t, our own lives will suffer.”
—Patrick Rose, Save the Manatee Club

Experts in the state point to the death of seagrass, manatees’ primary food source, including the majority of 80,000 acres of the plants in the Indian River Lagoon due to blue-green algae blooms—”which have themselves been caused by decades of human nutrient pollution from wastewater and runoff that continues unabated to this day,” Bob Graham, a former Democratic Florida governor and co-founder of Save the Manatee, wrote in the Tampa Bay Times last month.

Runoff containing fertilizers, microplastics, and other chemicals has been linked to the growth of blooms.

Warmer water temperatures linked to the climate crisis have also been known to foster the growth of algae, which cover the water’s surface and deprive seagrasses of sunlight. In response, manatees overgraze the remaining seagrass.

As The Guardian reported, toxic wastewater leaks into Tampa Bay from the Piney Point fertilizer plant in Manatee County, Florida has led to water-poisoning red tide algae blooms, with the FWC linking at least 12 manatee deaths to the algae.

A study by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) in March also found traces of pesticides in more than 55% of the manatees the group tested.

“Our beloved chubby sea cows are dodging boat strikes, reeling from red tide and starving in the Indian River Lagoon because of water pollution,” Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director for the CBD, told The Guardian. “It’s heartbreaking to add chronic glyphosate exposure to the list of factors threatening manatee survival.”

With just 7,500 manatees remaining, the unabated threats could mean the species is wiped out within a few years, as well as killing off other marine species and causing disaster for Florida’s beaches and tourism industry.

“Manatees are literally that sentinel species,” Patrick Rose, executive director of the Save the Manatee Club, told CNN. “They’re warning us of what else is going to come if we don’t do a better job while there’s still time to do something about it. If we don’t, our own lives will suffer.”

Rose’s warning was echoed on social media.

The Orlando Sentinel editorial board published a scathing editorial earlier this month, slamming policymakers for allowing manatees to die “at record sickening levels” this year.

“Our careless contempt for keeping Florida’s waters clean now has caught up with these gentle creatures. This isn’t just a coincidence,” the editors wrote, condemning state lawmakers as woefully out of touch with residents who want to save the state’s manatees and marine life:

The average Floridian has always respected wild surroundings and wants to protect the fragile parts, including its crystalline freshwater springs, its moss-draped woodlands and its rare animals.

The average state legislator, on the other hand, has always respected campaign contributions from wealthy polluters like phosphate mines and from developers whose goal is to cover sensitive land with subdivisions and golf courses that spew killing fertilizer into waterways.

Voters have said over and over again—loudly and unambiguously—that they want state money spent on the environment. Consider the 75% voter support for Amendment 1 in 2014.

The constitutional amendment ordered the state to use 33% of the proceeds—that was $750 million in 2015—of an already-existing real-estate tax called documentary stamps to improve and protect water resources and to buy preservation land.

Instead, then-state Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, now the Supervisor of Elections in Lake County, chaired a committee that hijacked all but $37 million to feed bloated state bureaucracy, pay off state debt and keep the corporate welfare flowing. That’s disgusting on two levels—the damage to the environment and the disrespect to the voters.

The editors also denounced former Gov. Rick Scott for “mercilessly slashing employees” from the Department of Environmental Protection, calling on the agency to loosen water quality rules, and barring local governments from regulating the use of harmful fertilizers.

“The reason sensitive manatees are dying is no big mystery,” they wrote. “Environmentalists heralded this foul die-off. Politicians were deaf to the warning. Florida has at least some rules for protecting land and animals but has had almost no enforcement in the past decade. Dead manatees are just the beginning.”

Graham called on the Biden administration to “demand that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and other federal agencies make protecting manatees and recovering seagrasses and other submerged aquatic vegetation a top priority in ensuring that our aquatic ecosystems are nursed back to health,” following a 2019 decision by FWS to change manatees’ status from “endangered” to “threatened.”

Duane De Freese, executive director of the Indian River Lagoon Council, called on policymakers to recognize the threats facing manatees as endangering entire ecosystems.

“This is about more than just the environment,” De Freese told CNN. “It’s about human health, it’s about quality of life, it’s about the economic vitality of our coastal communities. And if we fail to act in a science-driven way to solve these problems, as the population grows, these problems will grow with it.”

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