The Banner, Vol. 5, No. 49 – Reckoning With Climate Crisis

December 11, 2019
As COP25 Madrid ended its first week, there is a grueling sense that the world’s leaders, however valiant here and there, have made a public nuisance of themselves in their collective inability to confront and vanquish the forces at work driving the whole world to doom. The children have the bit in their teeth, and they are impatient.

But first the news.


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Roadshowing to Replace Rubber-stamping FERC

Between mid-October and mid-November I took part with five other members of Beyond Extreme Energy—Jimmy Betts, Kendall Hale, Andy Hinz, Steve Norris and Maple Osterbrink–on two week-long road trips, each about a thousand miles of driving, from the Pennsylvania Appalachians to the Carolina lowlands and coastlands. Over the course of these trips we met with what turned out to be hundreds of local people, most of them working or taking action against FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, fracking, and the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure..…—”Roadshowing to Replace Rubber-stamping FERC,” Ted Glick, Future of Hope, 11/25/19

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Rochester Area Students Strike for Climate

Rochester-area students join their peers across the world striking for climate

A group of young people are for state and local changes when it comes to climate change.

The United Nations recently issued a bleak report on climate change that found countries have failed to halt the rise of greenhouse gas emissions, despite warnings from scientists.

The Emissions Gap Report, produced by the United Nations Environment Program, revealed that every single country that signed the 2016 Paris climate agreement has increased its emissions, instead of cutting them back, with China and the United States being the worst offenders.

As a result, the authors wrote, “deeper and faster cuts are now required.” That is exactly the message that Rochester-area students will convey on December 6, when they intend to walk out of their schools and join a global climate strike. In a news release announcing the action, the students said the walkout would happen “in protest of continued government inaction on the climate crisis.”

Brighton was the anchor of the strike. Students from the Brighton middle and high school — including members of the Brighton High School Climate Club — marched to Twelve Corners at 3 p.m. There, they joined members of Rochester Youth Climate Leaders, New York Youth Climate Leaders, Webster Thomas Earth Club, Rochester Earth Guardians, Honeoye Falls-Lima Green Team, School of the Arts Green Crew, and McQuaid Climate Club, about 150 in all gathered in the snowy plaza.

The young climate activists want to propel the momentum created by the global climate strikes in late September. Rochester’s September 27 demonstration drew more than 1,000 people of all ages. While the recent UN agency report paints a troubling picture about emissions, it also strikes a couple of notes of hope. It points out that in September, after the UN secretary general’s climate action summit in September, 65 countries and “sub-national economies” committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

The Trump White House has been dismissive of climate change and hostile toward efforts that would reduce emissions. Administration officials barely participated in the summit and President Donald Trump has moved to withdraw the US from the Paris agreement. But New York state, which has an economy roughly the size of South Korea’s, passed laws requiring utilities to provide increasing amounts of renewable and carbon-free power, and setting a target for the state to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Further reading: Rochester wants renewable power for the people, Rochester City Newspaper

The UN report also mentions “encouraging developments” taking place. One of them: “the political focus on the climate crisis is growing in several countries, with voters and protestors, particularly youth, making it clear that it is their number one issue.”

Rochester-area youth are among those making it clear that climate is a priority issue for them.—'”Students plan climate strike,” Jeremy Moule, Rochester City Newspaper, 12/1/19

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D.C. Circuit to Review FERC Practice Called ‘Kafkaesque’

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has taken the rare step of re-hearing a case, Allegheny Defense Project v. FERC, D.C. Cir., No. 17-1098. The entire court will take a closer look at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s practice of issuing “tolling orders,” which allow pipeline construction to proceed while the agency considers requests for rehearing. Natural gas pipeline challengers believe tolling orders defy Congress’s 30-day limit on administrative re-hearing, and one judge recently agreed, deriding their use as a “Kafkaesque regime.” That’s because construction on a project can be completed before landowners, environmental groups, or other challengers are allowed an opportunity to even get into court. The D.C. Circuit’s decision to re-hear the case suggests it may end FERC’s practice of not issuing an order within 30 days of a request for rehearing, as Congress intended.—”D.C. Circuit to Review FERC Practice Called ‘Kafkaesque’,” Ellen M. Gilmer, Bloomberg|Environment, 12/5/19

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Letter to the Editor: TALLYING TROUBLING TACTICS

I wish to write about a little-publicized fracked gas pipeline proposal by National Grid under consideration by the NYS Public Service Commission; it is referred to as the E37/Albany Loop.

I am the co-founder of Stop NY Fracked Gas Pipeline which is a local grass group formed in 2014 to oppose the “Northeast Energy Direct” fracked gas pipeline proposal. This project was a glaring case of private gain at public expense and, fortunately, the developer withdrew its application once the public became educated about it.

Speaking of education, National Grid has exhibited a familiar pattern of “detail stinginess” and “gloss-over simplification” beginning with its not revealing its pipeline proposal adequately to the Capital District public.

National Grid did place a public announcement of its plans in a small community newspaper on January 9, 2019. In so doing, it combined an informational forum and a public hearing into one day on April 10, 2019. This technically meet the letter of law, but this isn’t an example of full-throttled public outreach is it?

At this April 10 hearing, a National Grid spokesperson reluctantly revealed, after several probing questions, that some of this pipeline gas “might” be fracked. However, we know that most, if not all, of this gas comes from the fracking fields of Pennsylvania.

In a further troublesome tactic, National Grid formally appealed to the NYS Public Service Commission (lead-decision agency) to not allow our group, Stop NY Fracked Gas Pipeline, to have a “seat at the table“ known as having “party status”.

National Grid did the same with the Aztech Geothermal company and with the Sane Energy organization. I think that the Public Service Commission values public input, but apparently National Grid doesn’t. What is National Grid afraid of I ask?

Our groups’ years of knowledge translates to knowing what works well regarding the use of solar, wind and geothermal energy along with related conservation and efficiencies. We wish to supply the Public Service Commission with this information empowering it to make an informed and balanced decision about this E37/Albany Loop proposal. (Fortunately, the Public Service Commission has not blocked the aforementioned groups from having party status.)

In its documentation for this pipeline, National Grid never even documented to the NYS Public Service Commission sufficient facts justifying the need for this fracked gas pipeline and what’s worse, never seriously considered the use of readily available alternative renewable energies.

Here is the link to Stop NY Fracked Gas Pipeline’s (SNYFGP) detailed objection to this proposal on 5/24/19: SNYFGP Objections to E37/Albany Loop. One can read many other well researched objections to this proposal as well by clicking on: Public Comments E37/Albany Loop and clicking on the “Public Commentstab.

There are more examples of National Grid’s non-transparent practices, such that it’s time for me to say that “the emperor really has no clothes”.

National Grid’s E37/Albany Loop fracked gas pipeline proposal presents with a paucity of public disclosure. It is another greedy, unneeded and outmoded attempt to profit stockholders while leaving the public with environmentally damaging emissions and potentially stranded assets.

Please consider expressing your opinion to the Public Service Commission about this E37/Albany Loop proposal, which has the Matter Master:19-00338 and case number: 19-T-0069 by contacting:

Hon. Kathleen H. Burgess
Secretary to the Commission
New York State Public Service Commission
Agency Building 3
Albany, NY 12223-1350>
Phone: (518) 474-2500
Fax: (518) 474-9842
E-mail: secretary@dps.ny.gov

Robert Connors
1409 County Rte 5
Canaan, NY 12029
518-781-4686

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Disaster Monopoly Capitalism at Cricket Valley

Despite strong climate rhetoric from Governor Cuomo and Mayor DeBlasio, billions of dollars of fracked gas infrastructure are still being built in New York State and New York City. Today we’ll be talking with RPM’s Lee Ziesche who has been on the ground as communities fight to stop a massive fracked gas power plant and prevent corporate utilities Con Ed and National Grid from raising our rates to build fracked gas pipelines, including one right now in Bushwick.…—”Disaster Monopoly Capitalism,” Lee Ziesche, Revolutions Per Minute|NYC Democratic Socialists of America, 11/26/19

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Extinction Rebellion Rochester hangs Climate Crisis banners over main highways on Black Friday

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – “We are facing an unprecedented global emergency. The government has failed to protect us. To survive it’s going to take everything we’ve got.” (XR Global). Extinction Rebellion, which was founded in the UK but has since grown to hundreds of chapters around the world, embraces non-violent direct action, civil disobedience, and other tactics to peacefully advocate four Demands, which aim to save humanity from extinction. As said in the quote above, our government has failed us. We must now take matters into our own hands and fight for our right to live.

On the morning of Black Friday, as Rochester’s anxious shoppers made a beeline to shopping malls and Best Buy’s around town, Extinction Rebellion (XR) Rochester also rose early – around 4:00 AM on November 29, rebels from XR Rochester hung large banners at four different overpasses along Interstates 490 and 390, including an overpass near Eastview Mall.

The message was Climate Crisis – Action Now, Tell the Truth, demanding that the Government declare a climate emergency and speak truth about the catastrophic consequences of inaction on the current climate and ecological emergency.

Hundreds of thousands of people have driven under the banners, which were at three strategic overpasses along Interstate routes I490 and I390 this week.—”Extinction Rebellion Rochester hangs Climate Crisis banners over main highways on Black Friday,” Sean Delaney, RocXR, 10/1/19

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A Spirit Cafe at a Climate Justice Church

Please put the event in your calendar. Family and friends welcome.

The Park Church has entered a period of thoughtful consideration about becoming a climate justice church. The discernment process includes a book study and several educational sessions related to climate change. Two sessions have already been delivered: “Climate Change 101” and “Grieving Climate Loss

The next event is listed below and will occur at the church in Beecher Hall:

  • Friday, January 3 – Spirit Cafe 6:00-8:00 PM
    The Spirit of Climate Justice
    Featuring speakers and table discussions
  • A home-cooked dinner provided at $10 a plate (Please RSVP the church office: 607-733-9104)

The Park Church
08 West Gray Street
Elmira, NY 14901.

Contact me at dcouchon@gmail.com if you are interested, Hope you will join us for this event!

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Climate change protesters block downtown D.C. streets in hours-long protest

Climate change protesters took to the District’s streets once again Friday, snarling traffic in rolling protests that meandered through downtown Washington for more than seven hours.

During the morning rush, they blocked major intersections with bodies and banners, sending cars and buses down winding, alternate routes. Outside the Washington offices of the world’s largest asset-management company, they sang songs and chanted to the beat of drums. And for two hours at a Wells Fargo Bank branch, protesters chained themselves to the door — blocking all entrances and exits.

It was the latest demonstration led by a coalition of activists that have in recent weeks deployed increasingly confrontational tactics against government agencies, financial institutions and corporations.

Last month, the group held a hunger strike in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). In September, the coalition, known as Shut Down DC, set up blockades at 15 downtown intersections and chained themselves to the hull of a boat that was blocks from the White House, culminating in 32 arrests.

Despite hours of disruptions and tense moments between protesters and D.C. police, officials said no arrests were made Friday.

Demonstrators began their day about 7:30 a.m. at George Washington University before marching to the World Bank headquarters along Pennsylvania Avenue NW — blocking major roads on and off for several hours — and then joining actress Jane Fonda’s recurring Friday protest to draw attention to private investment firms that finance the fossil fuel industry.…—”D.C. protests: Climate change protesters block downtown Washington streets Friday,” Marissa J. Lang, The Washington Post, 12/6/19

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“Is shale gas a major driver of recent increase in global atmospheric methane?”

Sustainability Series Speaker

Professor Robert Howarth
Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Cornell University

Saturday December 14th, 2019 Noon ~ 2 p.m.
Community School of Music and Art
3rd Floor auditorium space
330 E. Martin Luther King Jr / State St., Ithaca, NY 14850.

The CSMA is in the first block east of the Commons, around the corner from Viva Taqueria, in Ithaca

For tabling at this event, please contact Gay@sustainabletompkins.org

Gratitude is free.

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RECKONING WITH CLIMATE CRISIS

COP25 climate summit: what happened during the first week?

The COP25 climate talks in Madrid may have officially opened on Monday 2 December, but they only really started on Friday evening. That was when Greta Thunberg arrived to join a 500,000-strong march through the centre of Madrid, demanding that world leaders listen.…—”COP25 climate summit: what happened during the first week?” Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 12/9/19

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Villains & Heroes

Our first program from COP-25 in Madrid, Spain was a ‘broadside’ hit to the insane neo-liberal economic system, and the corrupt people who lead and dominate it … insane because those who control the system will knowingly kill off humanity and life on Earth for personal profit and privilege. In this ScientistsWarning.TV program, Stuart Scott takes on some of the richest and most famous ‘villains’ on Earth. But he then goes on to pay homage to a few of the ecological ‘heroes’ who have formed the ‘loyal opposition’ for years.—”Villains & Heroes,” Stuart Scott, UPFSI|YouTube, 12/4/19

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More Growth = Collapse

In this program, recorded Wednesday, December 4th 2019 at COP25, we explore the outrageous idea that Nature might actually need space to continue to thrive… for us to continue to thrive. Our guest Amy Lewis, from the WILD Foundation, explains why Nature needs half the Earth to remain viable. And our friends Gert-Peter Bruch and Mindahi Batista, from the Alliance of Mother Nature’s Guardians, discuss the principles of the pledge their members take, and which should rightly be taught in kindergarten. “

The Paris Agreement was a trade agreement” – Gert-Peter Bruch—”More Growth = Collapse,” Stuart Scott, UPFSI|YouTube,12/6/19

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Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot make short film on climate crisis

Environmental activists Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot have helped produce a short film highlighting the need to protect, restore and use nature to tackle the climate crisis. Living ecosystems like forests, mangroves, swamps and seabeds can pull enormous quantities of carbon from the air and store them safely, but natural climate solutions currently receive only 2% of the funding spent on cutting emissions.

Further reading; Greta Thunberg to Congress: ‘You’re not trying hard enough. Sorry’

The film’s director, Tom Mustill of Gripping Films, said: ‘We tried to make the film have the tiniest environmental impact possible. We took trains to Sweden to interview Greta, charged our hybrid car at George’s house, used green energy to power the edit and recycled archive footage rather than shooting new.’—”Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot make short film on climate crisis,” Tom Mustill, The Guardian, 9/19/19

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Meet a Blackfoot elder who worked for 20 years
to showcase Writing-on-Stone to the world

Martin Heavy Head’s grandfathers never went to Áísínai’pi, the area also known as Writing-on-Stone — a stretch of coulees and cottonwoods that straddles the Milk River in southern Alberta.

They didn’t go because they probably wouldn’t have been allowed.

“Since the start of reservation days, we were by law more or less confined to our reserves,” Heavy Head, 67, says. “They would have had to get a pass … I don’t even know if the Indian agent would have granted it.” Visiting a sacred site, he says, was likely not considered by the government to be a valid reason to leave the reserve, But even though they had never seen it, they still knew about it. Stories about Áísínai’pi had been passed down from generation to generation.

Heavy Head was born on the Blood Reserve, at Dead Man’s Corner, where the Great Plains stretch to the horizon, and where the Rocky Mountains can just be seen jutting out into the sky, a fringe on a vast landscape.…—Sharon J. Riley, “Meet a Blackfoot elder who worked for 20 years to showcase Writing-on-Stone to the world,” The Narwhal, 7/16/19

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Philippine climate activists fight to make the issue relatable

While up to a million people turned out in some developed countries for the Sept. 20 global climate strikes, only around 600 people gathered in Manila on Nov. 29 for the global day for action ahead of this week’s U.N. climate summit in Madrid.

The turnout pales in comparison to other major protests held in the country, Lidy Nacpil of the Asian People’s Movement on Debt and Development said at a press conference, and was even lower than the “couple of thousand” people that organizers had anticipated.

“It’s difficult when the issue is climate because we’re talking about future impacts,” Nacpil said, adding that other social issues, including poverty and unfair labor practices, rate higher on Filipinos’ list of priorities. “If it’s about other issues, the response is usually higher because the impacts are already being felt by people.”—”Philippine climate activists fight to make the issue relatable,” Mongabay, 12/5/19

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Sue the ******, Solve the Problem

COP25, Madrid— Today we discuss with Dr. James Hansen and his legal advisor Dan Galpern, the approaches to reducing our carbon emissions by legal actions.

One successful lawsuit in the form they are describing could really put a crimp in the fossil fuel industry’s plans to kill us all for the sake of profit.—”James Hansen & Dan Galpern – Sue the ******, Solve the Problem,” Stuart Scott, UFSI|YouTube, 12/2/19

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In Indonesia, a tourism village holds off a nickel mine — for now

  • Residents of the island of Kabaena in Indonesia registered their home as a “tourism village” seven years ago in a bid to ward off a planned nickel mine.
  • They say they fear that mining activity will disrupt their water sources and despoil the forests that they hold sacred.
  • Mining activities have proliferated in other districts in the province, driven by a boom for the nickel used in rechargeable batteries and stainless steel.
  • While the notion of being a tourism village has meant mining can’t proceed here, the villagers say they’re not getting the full support they expected to boost their economy this way.—”In Indonesia, a tourism village holds off a nickel mine — for now,” Ian Morse, Mongabay, 12/8/19

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Albatross – A film about Us, Midway

The journey of ALBATROSS began in 2008 as a collaboration with my friend, activist/photographer Manuel Maqueda. Studying the newly-emerging issue of ocean plastic pollution, we learned of a stunning environmental tragedy taking place on a tiny atoll in the center of the vast North Pacific Ocean. We immediately began planning an expedition there, and on our first trip to Midway Island in September of 2009, we and our team photographed and filmed thousands of young albatrosses that lay dead on the ground, their stomachs filled with plastic. The experience was devastating, not only for what it meant for the suffering of the birds, but also for what it reflected back to us about the destructive power of our culture of mass consumption, and humanity’s damaged relationship with the living world.

ALBATROSS is offered as a free public artwork. Watch the 3-minute trailer now.…—”Albatross,” Chris Jordan

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Orbits and Ice Ages: The History of Climate

The boring history of science made clear and alarming and hilariously done

Climate change has become a major political issue, but few understand how climate has changed in the past and the forces that drive climate. Most people don’t know that fifty million years ago there were breadfruit trees and crocodiles on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, or that 18,000 years ago there was a mile-thick glacier on Manhattan and a continuous belt of winter sea ice extending south to Cape Hatteras. The History of Climate provides context of our current climate debate and fundamental insight how the climate works.

Another lecture in IHMC’s award winning lecture series. http://www.ihmc.us Climate change has become a major political issue, but few understand how climate …Dan Britt – “Orbits and Ice Ages: The History of Climate,” YouTube, 2/8/12

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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.