The Banner, Vol. 5, No. 3 – Patient, Persistent Indigenous Generosity

January 15, 2019
The patient, persistent generosity of people of color, indigenous people, and impoverished people generally, is astonishing. And especially considering the continued onslaught on their personal lives, fortunes, well-being, possessions and dignity by the Northern hemisphere’s “koyaanisqatsi,” life out of balance – the essence of idolatry. In this issue we will examine these matters.
But first the news.

Activists Who Crawled Into Fracked Gas Pipeline
Found Guilty In Narrow Ruling,
Granted Unconditional Release

Cortlandt, New York – Today, Cortlandt Town Justice Kimberly Ragazzo found three New Yorkers — Rebecca Berlin, David Publow, and Janet González — guilty of trespass, rejecting the climate necessity defense; the three shut down construction of the Spectra Energy (now Enbridge) high-pressure, high-volume, fracked-gas, “Algonquin” Incremental Market (AIM) pipeline. Justice Ragazzo highlighted the strict, objective standard of New York’s necessity defense and focused her verdict on the narrow grounds that the defendants had not exhausted all legal remedies, specifically citing the defendants failure to file as ‘intervenors’ with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Courtney Williams, an impacted Peekskill resident and member of Stop the “Algonquin” Pipeline Expansion (SAPE) said she was frustrated by the verdict. “That the judge ruled against these water protectors because they had not filed as intervenors is ridiculous. SAPE, Riverkeeper, City of Peekskill, and Town of Cortlandt all filed as intervenors. At the time of the action in October 2016 we were under a “Tolling Order” from FERC. That meant we had no legal recourse, we couldn’t go to the Court of Appeals, but Spectra could build the pipeline. Being an intervenor wouldn’t have given Dave, Rebecca, or Janet any more ability to stop the pipeline. They had to act.”

David Publow, a New York State organic farmer and member of Resist Spectra said, “The legal process is always seeking to go for a narrow route. That process is not going to cut a new path for us, but I think we’re cutting a new path for ourselves.”

Justice Ragazzo rejected the Assistant District Attorney’s excessive sentencing request of a maximum fine and 300 hours of community service, instead granting Berlin, Publow, and González unconditional release, explicitly refusing a conditional release on the grounds that it would have a chilling effect on their future activism with no community service and no fines.

“It’s unfortunate that the judge, and most people, still don’t understand how the FERC system is designed to take power away from the people or how we are all part of collective action,” said Rebecca Berlin, a local Yorktown resident. “We are, however, encouraged by her words and her sentencing, both of which show that she understands the AIM Pipeline’s harms and the imminence of those threats.”

According to David Dorfman, the defense lawyer for the three defendants and a professor at Elizabeth Haub Law School at Pace University, “This was certainly not a complete victory, but we were able to fully and completely litigate the necessity defense. The judge appeared to accredit our arguments and expert testimony regarding the harms caused by shale gas, methane emissions, and the dire risk of pipeline explosions, especially near Indian Point. Where we came up short is whether my three clients exhausted legal means to stop the pipeline before resorting to direct action. We disagree with the verdict and we will appeal. Perhaps as importantly, especially for my clients, they did not sustain criminal convictions and the sentence of an unconditional discharge is basically no sentence at all. No fines, no court costs, no community service. Nothing. That’s a great thing. And the fight continues.”
Background info:

On October 10, 2016, in solidarity with Water Protectors at Standing Rock, the three defendants crawled into a 42-inch diameter steel pipe set to be pulled under the Hudson River near Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant in Verplanck, New York, halting construction on the pipeline for 18 hours.

The Spectra/Enbridge AIM pipeline transports fracked gas from Pennsylvania through New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. The high pressure pipeline runs within 105 feet of critical safety infrastructure at the decaying Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant, endangering more than 20 million people in the New York metropolitan area in the event of a rupture.

During the trial, expert witnesses testified that in addition to its dangerous placement near Indian Point, the fracked gas pipeline already substantially contributes to climate change and exposes the local community to harmful pollutants in fracked gas which lead to an array of health issues.

The defendants also took the stand, testifying that they, along with the local community opposing the pipeline, exhausted all legal remedies before resorting to direct action. They were forced to take action when elected officials, including Governor Cuomo and Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, failed to take real action to stop the pipeline. The action took place after FERC approved the pipeline and construction began, but had halted legal proceedings by issuing a “Tolling Order,” refusing to rule on a request for rehearing that would clear the way for parties to appeal the approval US Court of Appeals.

A risk assessment released by the Cuomo administration in 2018 confirmed the concerns of Resist Spectra and the local community who are still calling on Governor Cuomo to be a true climate leader and shut off the gas in the pipeline.…—Lee Ziesche, “Pipeline Crawlers Found Guilty,” Sane Energy Project, 1/8/19

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Action Alert! Albany, Tuesday: Cuomo, Act On Climate

Tuesday, January 15th, Governor Cuomo will deliver his budget address in Albany. We will be there to remind him that the #StateOfTheClimate should be his number one priority. In particular we want Cuomo to stop fracked gas power plant proposals such as the Cayuga Power Plant, the Danskammer Power Plant, the Cricket Valley Energy Center, and the Sheridan Hollow Microgrid going forward. It has never been more urgent – in order to begin to meet our climate goals we MUST stop the ever increasing demand for fracked gas from PA.

Further reading: The Green New Deal New York Needs, From Its Original Source

Meet up: Empire State Plaza Convention Center
Empire State Plaza
Albany, New York 12210 MAP: Empire Convention Center
When: 12:30PM

If you can’t make it to Albany on Tuesday, you can help keep the pressure on the Governor on Twitter. Tweet and retweet using the hashtag #StateOfTheClimate from 12:30-2:00.

Sample Tweets:
.@NYGovCuomo, keep dirty #FrackedGas from #PA in the ground! Tompkins County doesn’t want a fracked gas power plant or a pipeline on wheels! @StopCayuga #CuomoWalkTheTalk #OffFossilFuels #GreenNewDeal #StateOfTheClimate
 
.@NYGovCuomo, make #ClimateChange your top budget priority in 2019! No more #FrackedGas power plants! #JustTransition to 100% #RenewableEnergy @StopCayuga #CuomoWalkTheTalk #OffFossilFuels #GreenNewDeal #StateOfTheClimate
 
.@NYGovCuomo, @MothersOutFront urges you to #ActOnClimate for the sake of all children. Keep #FrackedGas in the ground and commit to a #JustTransition to 100% #RenewableEnergy now! #CuomoWalkTheTalk #OffFossilFuels #GreenNewDeal #StateOfTheClimate

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Sierra Club Requests Town of Campbell Delay
Hakes Landfill Rezoning

“On behalf of the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, I have written to the Town of Campbell to request that the Planning Board delay its vote on the application of the Hakes landfill to establish a Non-Residential Planned Development District. The vote has been scheduled for the Planning Board meeting this Wednesday,” said Kate Bartholomew, Chair of the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter and a resident of Montour Falls.

The Sierra Club applauds the Town for seeking more information regarding radioactivity issues than was provided in the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed expansion of the landfill (DSEIS),” Bartholomew said. “We do not believe, however, that the May 2018 CoPhysics Report provided to the Town by Casella Waste Management satisfactorily addresses the concerns outlined in the comments we submitted on the DSEIS on March 19, 2018.”

We have engaged Dr. Raymond Vaughan to respond to the CoPhysics Report. Dr. Vaughan prepared an expert affidavit on the radioactivity issues raised by the landfill’s leachate test results that was provided to the Town and to DEC as an exhibit to our comments on the DSEIS. The CoPhysics Report is in large part a response to Dr. Vaughan’s affidavit and the other expert affidavits we provided,” Bartholomew said. (See documents below.)

For further information:

In the short time that has elapsed since the CoPhysics Report was made available to the public as an appendix to the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on December 5, 2018, a period that was filled with major holidays, Dr. Vaughan has not yet been able to complete his response. We urge the Town to take the time to understand our concerns with the CoPhysics Report. For this reason, we have requested that the Town give us a month for Dr. Vaughan to complete his response so that it can be submitted for the Town’s consideration before the Town votes on the Hakes rezoning application.—Kate Bartholomew, “Sierra Club Requests Town of Campbell Delay Hakes Landfill Rezoning Vote,” 1/14/18

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Second Ethane Cracker Closer to Reality in Ohio

Second Ethane Cracker Closer to Reality in Ohio – The Allegheny Front

In late December, environmental regulators in Ohio approved both the air and water discharge permits for an ethane cracker in Belmont County, Ohio, paving the way for the project to get started. Some people are predicting that this could be the beginning of a petrochemical hub in the region.

This 10-billion-dollar plant, proposed by Thailand-based PTT Global Chemical and its partner, would be the second ethane cracker along the Ohio River. Shell Chemical is building an ethane cracker north of Pittsburgh in Beaver County.

This second cracker is near the town of Shadyside, Ohio, a little more an hour’s drive southwest of Pittsburgh. It would use ethane from natural gas wells in the region to make one and a half million tons of ethylene and polyethylene pellets per year that can be manufactured into plastic products, like plastic bags, medical devices and car parts.

Local Support and Opposition

Many people who support and oppose the plant spoke at a public hearing about the company’s air permit held in December by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. The company has promised more than 5,000 construction jobs to build the plant and at least 500 permanent jobs.

…In the press release announcing the final environmental air permit for PTT to build the ethane cracker, Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler said the agency is “proud to be part of the effort to bring critical jobs to Ohio.”

This enthusiasm rankled Jill Hunkler, who lives about 20 miles from where the Ohio plant would be built.

“Unacceptable in my mind,” she said. “It’s not [Ohio EPA’s] job… to create jobs. It’s to protect public health and the environment from these toxic industries. Do your job!”

Hunkler was among the many citizens who spoke against the plant at the air permit hearing.

The cracker facility would be allowed to emit approximately 400 tons/year of volatile organic compounds and almost 200 tons/year of particulate matter among other pollutants and nearly 1.8 million tons of greenhouse gases per year.…—Julie Grant, “Second Ethane Cracker Closer to Reality in Ohio,” The Allegheny Front, 1/9/19

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Patient Generosity, Persistent Grasping
What Colombia’s Kogi people can teach us
about the environment

What Colombia’s Kogi people can teach us about the environment

The Kogi people are warning society of destruction we face if we fail to embrace nature

Deep in Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains, surrounded by jungle (and guerrillas, tomb raiders and drug traffickers), live 20,000 indigenous Kogi people. A culturally intact pre-Colombian society, they’ve lived in seclusion since the Spanish conquest 500 years ago. Highly attuned to nature, the Kogi believe they exist to care for the world – a world they fear we are destroying.

In 1990, in a celebrated BBC documentary, the Kogi made contact with the outside world to warn industrialised societies of the potentially catastrophic future facing the planet if we don’t change our ways.

They watched, waited and listened to nature. They witnessed landslides, floods, deforestation, the drying up of lakes and rivers, the stripping bare of mountain tops, the dying of trees. The Sierra Nevada, because of its unique ecological structure, mirrors the rest of the planet – bad news for us.

The Kogi don’t understand why their words went unheeded, why people did not understand that the earth is a living body and if we damage part of it, we damage the whole body.

Twenty-three years later they summoned filmmaker Alan Ereira back to their home to renew the message: this time the leaders, the Kogi Mama (the name means enlightened ones), set out to show in a visceral way the delicate and critical interconnections that exist between the natural world.

Further viewing: The Kogis’ First warning, 1990 – Gnosis,The Elder Brothers’ Warning

The resulting film, Aluna, takes us into the world of the Kogi. At the heart of the tribe’s belief system is “Aluna” – a kind of cosmic consciousness that is the source of all life and intelligence and the mind inside nature too. “Aluna is something that is thinking and has self-knowledge. It’s self-aware and alive.” says Ereira. “All indigenous people believe this, historically. It’s absolutely universal.”…—Jini Reddy, “What Colombia’s Kogi people can teach us about the environment,” The Guardian, 10/29/13

Source: www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/colombia-kogi-environment-destruction

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Climate Change Prophet

Climate Change Prophet

On the podcast: A scientist who is also an evangelical Christian wants conservatives to understand the dangers of climate change.

Climate change is one of the most politically divisive issues in the United States today: Most liberals embrace the scientific view that it’s a largely man-made phenomenon threatening our very existence, whereas many conservatives see it as fake news.

Standing at the intersection between these two groups is Katharine Hayhoe, an evangelical Christian who is also an atmospheric scientist. Hayhoe, who runs the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, has devoted herself to persuading skeptics that climate change is real—including people in her own community.…—Katherine Hayhoe, “Climate Change Prophet,” Foreign Policy, 1/11/19

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The Eagle and The Condor Prophecy

The Eagle and The Condor Prophecy

The Eagle and the Condor is an ancient prophecy of the Amazon that speaks of human societies splitting into two paths – that of the Eagle, and that of the Condor. The path of the Condor is the path of heart, of intuition, and of the feminine. The path of the Eagle is the path of the mind, of the industrial, and of the masculine.

The Eagle and the Condor prophecy of the Amazon speaks of human societies splitting into two paths – that of the Eagle, and that of the Condor. The path of the Condor is the path of heart, of intuition, and of the feminine. The path of the Eagle is the path of the mind, of the industrial, and of the masculine.

The Eagle and Condor prophecy says that the 1490s would begin a 500 year period during during which the Eagle people would become so powerful that they would virtually drive the Condor people out of existence. This can be seen in the conquering of the Americas and the killing and oppressing of the indigenous peoples in the subsequent 500 years – up to and including today.

The prophecy says that during the next 500-year period, beginning in 1990, the potential would arise for the Eagle and the Condor to come together, to fly in the same sky, and to create a new level of consciousness for humanity. The prophecy only speaks of the potential, so it’s up to us to activate this potential and ensure that a new consciousness is allowed to arise.

The Pachamama Alliance is an alliance between the Achuar – the Condor people of the Ecuadorian amazon – and the modern world – the Eagle people of the North. In the 1990s, the Achuar of the Ecuadorian Amazon began seeing the threat of oil development coming to their ancient pristine territory.

The Achuar decided to reach out to the modern world to form an alliance that would equip them to protect their land and culture and at the same time change the dream of the modern world that drives the consumption threatening their land and culture. Our alliance with the Achuar is a reciprocal partnership where the “mind” of the modern world helps the Achuar stand for their land and culture and the “heart” of the Achuar culture helps to educate and inspire people all over the world through our transformative workshops.…—Ryan Andersen, “The Eagle and The Condor Prophecy,” Pachamama Alliance, 8/5/17

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Indigenous groups are the world’s endangered environmental guardians

Indigenous groups are the world’s endangered environmental guardians

Brazil’s new President, Jair Bolsonaro – known for his misogynistic, racist, homophobic and anti-environmental comments – has raised questions about the future of the world’s fourth-largest democracy with his support for torture and his unapologetic nostalgia for the country’s 1964-85 military dictatorship. But no part of Brazil’s diverse society has more to dread from Mr. Bolsonaro’s coming to power than the country’s already beleaguered Indigenous groups.

Over the past five centuries, the number of Indigenous people in Brazil has shrunk from as much as five million to about 895,000, less than 0.5 per cent of the country’s population. Since 2006, their territory – the Brazilian part of the Amazon Basin – has lost forest cover over an area greater in size than the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the world’s 11th-largest country, according to satellite data.

…To be sure, Brazil is not the only country where Indigenous tribes must confront mounting threats to their ways of life – and their lives. From Canada and the Philippines to Japan and Indonesia, Indigenous people face growing threats of discrimination, marginalization and forced assimilation. As a result, the world’s Indigenous communities are rapidly dwindling in numbers owing to encroachment and the exploitation of their natural resources.

With their combined share of the global population shrinking to 4.5 per cent, Indigenous communities are locked in modern-day David-versus-Goliath battles against mining companies, dam builders, oil-palm plantations, loggers, ranchers, hunters, evangelists and military forces. Their rights continue to be violated with impunity despite an international convention obligating governments to protect their lands, identities, penal customs and ways of life.

More fundamentally, at a time when environmental degradation and climate change have emerged as mortal threats to humankind, Indigenous peoples’ ways of life, with their premium on maintaining a balance between human needs and the preservation of ecosystems, serve as examples to the wider world.

Living close to nature, with their survival tied to ecosystem health, Indigenous communities respect nature as their teacher and protector. Consequently, they tend to understand nature better than modern societies, as was illustrated in late 2004, when a devastating tsunami struck in the Indian Ocean, killing more than a quarter million people across 14 Asian countries. On India’s remote Andaman archipelago, however, close to the epicentre of the earthquake that caused the tsunami, two of the world’s most isolated Indigenous tribes escaped harm by relying on traditional warning systems and moving to higher ground in time.…— Brahma Chellaney, “Indigenous groups are the world’s endangered environmental guardians,” The Globe and Mail, 1/11/19

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First Nations Pipeline Protest: 14 Land Protectors Arrested as Canadian Police Raid Indigenous Camp

First Nations Pipeline Protest: 14 Land Protectors Arrested as Canadian Police Raid Indigenous Camp

WET’SUWET’EN LAND DEFENDER: The Wet’suwet’en have won rights and title to their lands. We did not hurt anyone. The hereditary chiefs say, “No, you cannot go through our lands.” And under your law, the authority is them.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: TransCanada Corporation has been seeking entry into indigenous territory, where they’re planning to build the massive $4.7 billion Coastal GasLink pipeline. Land protectors from First Nations clans set up two encampments where they had been physically blocking entry to TransCanada workers. This is a protester speaking after being arrested.

PROTESTER: There were a couple of the protesters who had secured themselves to the barricade inside. I’m not sure exactly how, but the rest of us were standing watching and singing, as they pried people loose. And the only thing I could do for myself was try to block the path between the bus and one side of the bridge. And I’m not a big person, but I was big enough to stand. And they had asked me to move, and I said, “No, I’m not moving. I’m here to the Wet’suwet’en, and I’m not moving.” And so they said, “Well, we can arrest you.” I said, “Yeah.” And I’m proud to have been arrested.

AMY GOODMAN: And this is Wet’suwet’en Chief Namox speaking after the arrests.

CHIEF NAMOX: Today was a perfect example of who steers the government. And it’s absolutely industry. Industry told government how to direct the RCMP. The RCMP removed the fence at the access point, arrested people, have charged a number of them. They were following the law of the Wet’suwet’en. What happened today was our trespass laws were broken. But according to Canadian law, who is being steered by industry, they say that these people are now criminals.

Now we need all Canadians to stand up and tell this government that they have to treat indigenous people as human beings, hereditary chiefs as true owners of this Wet’suwet’en land. And we will never give up our rights, title or jurisdiction or authority to any form of government.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, for more, we’re joined by Karla Tait, a member of the Unist’ot’en House Group of the Gilseyhu Clan. Dr. Tait is the director of clinical programming for the Unist’ot’en Healing Centre.

We thank you very much for being with us, Dr. Tait. Can you explain—first set the larger context for us. Where is this happening in British Columbia? Talk about what the larger struggle is right now.

DR. KARLA TAIT: So, this is occurring just outside of Houston, BC, on our unceded traditional territories. It’s about an hour’s drive down the forest service road.

And in terms of a larger context, the Unist’ot’en camp was established when my aunt took up her residence there in 2010. So she’s been living there on our territory for eight years. It’s been used by our chiefs, by our membership, for trapping and other purposes, for millennia before that.

And the reason that Freda took up her residence there and started fundraising to build our Healing Centre is she wanted to fulfill our family’s vision of bringing healing to our people on the land, but also she wanted to ensure that projects that were going to compromise the integrity of that healthy environment, of that healthy land, were not permitted to proceed without permission of our hereditary chiefs, who have jurisdiction over that land.

So, she’s been there for a long time, had defeated[sic. probably mistaken for ‘defended’] or maintained that territory against the Enbridge pipeline. And more recently, we’ve been faced with provincial permits and pressure to allow the Coastal GasLink to begin construction.…—Amy Goodman, “Democracy Now! Speaks to Unist’ot’en member Dr. Karla Tait on RCMP Violence,” Democracy Now!|Unist’ot’en Camp, 1/7/19

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Nine Things You Need to Know about the Unist’ot’en Blockade

Nine Things You Need to Know about the Unist’ot’en Blockade | The Tyee

The RCMP moved Monday to break up a First Nations protest. Here’s how we got to this point.

Where is the Unist’ot’en blockade and what’s it about?

The gated checkpoint is on a forest service road about 120 kilometres southwest of Smithers in Unist’ot’en territory at the Morice River Bridge. Two natural gas pipelines are to cross the bridge to serve the Kitimat LNG project. Unist’ot’en is a clan within the Wet’suwet’en First Nation.

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs claim title to the land, based on their pre-Confederation occupation and the fact that they’ve never signed a treaty. Their claim has not been proven in court.

The gated checkpoint is meant to control access to their traditional territory. A protocol for entry, based on principles of free, prior and informed consent, is publicly available. While the first checkpoint was built by the Unist’ot’en clan, all the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation have affirmed that their consent is required prior to any development.

TransCanada’s Coastal GasLink pipeline will carry natural gas from Dawson Creek to Kitimat. It’s in the early construction phase. The proposed Pacific Trail pipeline, run by Chevron, proposes to transport natural gas from Summit Lake to Kitimat for conversion to LNG. This pipeline received an Environmental Assessment certificate, but the investment agreement has yet to be finalized. (The Northern Gateway Pipeline run by Enbridge was also planned to go through the region, but was scrapped in 2016.)

Hasn’t the Unist’ot’en camp been around for years now? Why is it suddenly the centre of attention?

Yes, the checkpoint was established on April 1, 2009. Since then, annual work camps have added a cabin, healing lodge, pit house and a bunkhouse for visitors. The camp is used year-round for healing retreats, culture camps and living.…

It’s in the news now because not only did Unist’ot’en camp refuse to take down the checkpoint, their neighbouring clan, Gidmt’en, established a second checkpoint. (The injunction was expanded on Jan. 4 to include that checkpoint.)

Throngs of people are travelling to join the camp in solidarity, and on Monday the RCMP mobilized to enforce the injunction. Rallies are planned in over 30 cities around the world today.…—Zoë Ducklow, “Nine Things You Need to Know about the Unist’ot’en Blockade,” The Tyee, 1/8/19

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It’s only natural
the push to give rivers, mountains and forests legal rights

It’s only natural: the push to give rivers, mountains and forests legal rights

It seems logical to grant protection to nature by treating it as a living entity. And the law might be catching up

On 20 March a community rally on the Margaret river south of Perth called for the river to be recognised as a legal entity with the local council as its custodian. Under the banner “Is it time to give our river rights?”, more than 100 people discussed ways of protecting the river, prompted by plans for a mountain-bike and walking track along the foreshore. A river advocate, Ray Swarts, says a rights-of-nature approach has majority support in the council.

The emerging international rights-of-nature movement aims to address the way western legal systems treat nature as property, making the living world invisible to the law. It uses western legal constructs, such as personhood and rights-based approaches, to shift the status of nature from property to a subject in law in an effort to protect the natural world.

Further reading: ‘The dream of our ancestors’: Victorian bill gives Indigenous owners custodianship of Yarra

This new approach to environmental law was introduced in the US by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, whose first success came in 2006 when it helped to defend a Pennsylvania community’s right to reject sludge being dumped in their borough.

In just over a decade the rights-of-nature movement has grown from one law adopted in a small community in the US to a movement which has seen countries enact laws, even constitutional protections, recognising the rights of nature, says the fund’s co-founder, Margi Margil.…—Jane Gleeson-White, “It’s only natural: the push to give rivers, mountains and forests legal rights,” The Guardian, 4/1/18

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Scientists Call for Drastic Drop in Emissions.
U.S. Appears to Have Gone the Other Way.

Scientists Call for Drastic Drop in Emissions. U.S. Appears to Have Gone the Other Way. — ProPublica

A report by a private research company found that U.S. emissions, which amount to one-sixth of the planet’s, didn’t fall in 2018 but instead skyrocketed. The 3.4 percent jump for 2018, projected by the firm, would be second-largest surge in greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S. since Bill Clinton was president.

The signals are blaring: Dramatic changes to our climate are well upon us. These changes — we know thanks to a steady drumbeat of alarming official reports over the past 12 months — could cripple the U.S. economy, threaten to make vast stretches of our coastlines uninhabitable, make basic food supplies scarce and push millions of the planet’s poorest people into cities and across borders as they flee environmental perils.

All is not yet lost, we are told, but the demands of the moment are great. The resounding consensus of scientists, economists and analysts tells us that the solution lies in an unprecedented global effort to immediately and drastically drop carbon emissions levels. That drop is possible, but it will need to happen so fast that it will demand extraordinary commitment, resolve, innovation and, yes, sacrifice. The time we’ve got to work with, according to the United Nations, is a tad more than 10 years.

And so it stings particularly badly to learn from a new report released this week by the Rhodium Group, a private research company, that U.S. emissions — which amount to one-sixth of the planet’s — didn’t drop in 2018 but instead skyrocketed. The 3.4 percent jump in CO2 for 2018, projected by the Rhodium Group, would be second-largest surge in greenhouse gas emissions from the United States since 1996, when Bill Clinton was president.

The report notes that Americans consumed significantly more electricity in 2018 than in years past, and that demand for trucking (think shipping) and jet fuel (lots more people flew) also grew substantially. More alarming are the large jumps in U.S. emissions from industry and from buildings — which the report’s authors note are largely “ignored in clean energy and climate policymaking.” Heating and cooking-related emissions from old, often-inefficient buildings jumped 10 percent, in part due to a growing population and despite a warmer-than-average winter. As manufacturing was buoyed by the strong economy, the emissions the sector produced jumped by nearly 6 percent. The Rhodium Group forecasts those emissions will continue to grow.…—Abrahm Lustgarten, “Scientists Call for Drastic Drop in Emissions. U.S.,” , 1/11/19

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‘The dream of our ancestors’:
Victorian bill gives Indigenous owners custodianship of Yarra

‘The dream of our ancestors’: Victorian bill gives Indigenous owners custodianship of Yarra

First legislation to go before state’s parliament with a dual Indigenous language title designed to give Wurundjeri people a voice in decisions around the river

Wrapped in a possum-skin shawl, Wurundjeri elder Alice Kolasa stood at the dispatch box on the floor of the Victorian parliament and read the name of a new piece of legislation designed to protect the health of the Yarra river, known in Woiwurrung language as the Birrarung. Wilip-gin Birrarung murron: keep the Birrarung alive.

Kolasa is the first Wurundjeri person to speak from the floor of the parliament in their role as a traditional owner of land on which Parliament House is built.

The bill she supported, tabled by the planning minister, Richard Wynne, as the Yarra river protection (Wilip-gin Birrarung murron) bill 2017, is the first legislation ever to go before the Victorian parliament with a dual Indigenous language title, and the first to include an Indigenous language preamble.

It was a historic occasion, Kolasa said. The legislation creates an independent body called the Birrarung Council, two members of which must be nominated from the Wurundjeri Tribe Land and Compensation Cultural Heritage Council.

That grants Wurundjeri people, who have struggled to get formal recognition of the ownership of their land, a legislatively-enshrined voice in the formal custodianship of the Birrarung.…—Calla Wahlquist, ‘The dream of our ancestors’: Victorian bill gives Indigenous owners custodianship of Yarra,” Australia|The Guardian, 6/22/17

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Peter Wadhams – Clueless Main Street is Waking Up

Peter Wadhams – Clueless Main Street is Waking Up

A great change in our stewardship of the Earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided. —”World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: Second Notice“, American Institute of Biological Sciences, 13/13/17

Arundhati Roy: “Our strategy should be not only to confront [corporate] empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness – and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe. Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them. Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”—Stuart Scott, Peter Wadhams, “Clueless Main Street is Waking Up,” ScientistsWarning.TV|Youtube, 1/10/19

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EPA backs down from plan that could have allowed
youth farmworkers to handle pesticides

EPA backs down from plan that could have allowed youth farmworkers to handle pesticides

 

The rules did not sit well with industry groups, such as the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Assn. of State Departments of Agriculture, which argued that they were unfair to farmers and exposed them to lawsuits from environmental organizations.

Paul Schlegel, the federation’s managing director of public policy, said the group had hoped the EPA would repeal some of these rules. “We would have liked to have seen them go forward with that,” he said.…—Anna M. Phillips, “EPA backs down from plan that could have allowed youth farm workers to handle pesticides,” The Los Angeles Times, 1/10/19

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Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘€˜single biggest way’€™
to reduce your impact on Earth

Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth

Biggest analysis to date reveals huge footprint of livestock – it provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of farmland

Avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet, according to the scientists behind the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet.

The new research shows that without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75% – an area equivalent to the US, China, European Union and Australia combined – and still feed the world. Loss of wild areas to agriculture is the leading cause of the current mass extinction of wildlife.

The new analysis shows that while meat and dairy provide just 18% of calories and 37% of protein, it uses the vast majority – 83% – of farmland and produces 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions. Other recent research shows 86% of all land mammals are now livestock or humans. The scientists also found that even the very lowest impact meat and dairy products still cause much more environmental harm than the least sustainable vegetable and cereal growing.

The study, published in the journal Science, created a huge dataset based on almost 40,000 farms in 119 countries and covering 40 food products that represent 90% of all that is eaten. It assessed the full impact of these foods, from farm to fork, on land use, climate change emissions, freshwater use and water pollution (eutrophication) and air pollution (acidification).

“A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use,” said Joseph Poore, at the University of Oxford, UK, who led the research. “It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car,” he said, as these only cut greenhouse gas emissions.…—Damian Carrington, “Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth,” The Guardian, 5/31/18

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And That’s A Wrap! Thanks to everyone who sent in news, action announcements and comments this week. Send kudos, rotten tomatoes and your story ideas, your group’s action events, and news of interest to intrepid climate change and environmental justice warriors! Send to editor@thebanner.news.