August 27, 2019
We may be witnessing an inflection point in both climate change and humanity’s capability to address it truly. The Earth’s largest rain-forest is on fire. São Paulo was dark as night at noon on Monday, August 19. Indonesia’s forests are on fire – but reports are they are doing a good job putting them out. The Siberian fires are larger than Belgium. Fairbanks, Alaska in extreme drought. Most of this is caused directly or indirectly because men want to extract as much value from Earth as possible, as quickly as possible. What spare comfort there is seems to in recalling that this is not human nature; it an artifact of our civilization. Indigenous people the world over largely share a teaching in common with all our religious teachings, of humanity as stewards of Earth, living in sustainable balance with her resources, constantly repairing the inevitable damage left by humans. This week we explore the results and some important resources for dealing with an unrepaired rapacious greed.
But first the news.

First West Virginia Gasland Tour of the fall season
The Development of an Appalachian Cancer Alley

See what frack wells, pipelines, compressor stations, fractionation/separation plants, water treatment facilities, steep slopes, erosion, large trucks and equipment do to the landscape, the economy, and the health of the region. This is at the very heart of the extraction colony that West Virginia has come to be: the Appalachian replacement of Louisiana’s Cancer Alley and the Texas coastal petrochemical hub, now crippled by flooding and storms.

It is at the convergence of where three states, WVU Energy Institute, WV Commerce Dept., the WV Legislature (including Senator Manchin), and 4 countries (China, U.S., Thailand, Korea) want to invest billions of dollars to build another petrochemical hub, and will use gas as feedstock for plastics manufacturing. With that comes underground storage and a network of pipelines along and under the Ohio River to supply the giant hub which stretches across WV, OH, and PA.

We meet at Bridgeport, WV
September 21, 2019 9:00AM

Only 10 seats on the bus, but one or two other cars can be integrated into the tour
Car pooling is encouraged. For Rochester/Elmira/Corning & South carpool contact Dwain Wilder at editor@thebanner.news.
For details & RSVP no later than Wednesday, September
18th: April Keating apkeating@hotmail.com 304-642-9436

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CLEAN WATER ACT
EPA curbs state power to deny permits for climate concerns

CLEAN WATER ACT: EPA curbs state power to deny permits for climate concerns

EPA released a new guidance today saying it can issue federal permits for projects, including pipelines, regardless of whether states raise questions about impacts to climate change or air pollution.

Section 401 of the Clean Water Act gives states the right to “certify” that projects requiring federal permits comply with both the act and their water quality standards. That means projects being permitted federally by EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers or the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission also must be approved, denied or approved with conditions by states.

In recent years, New York and Washington have used this certification process to deny permits for pipelines and coal terminals not just due to water quality concerns, but also because of their contribution to air pollution and climate change.

Public Comments Notice: Federal Register :: Updating Regulations on Water Quality Certification; Public Comments due 6/21/19

Guidance issued today by EPA seeks to limit that practice. The guidance is meant as a stand-in while EPA works on formal regulations.


…although “outstanding information requests or non-responsive project proponents can be challenging, the EPA recognizes that states and tribes are water resource experts and have significant experience issuing permits and approvals for many types of projects, including for discharges to waters, dredge and fill projects, and above- and below-ground pipelines in their jurisdictions.”


The guidance itself doesn’t carry the rule of law, and therefore states are not bound by it. But it serves as a significant warning shot. States that ignore EPA guidance could well find themselves in court, either fighting EPA for ignoring their certification decisions or fighting with industry.…—Ariel Wittenberg, “CLEAN WATER ACT: EPA curbs state power to deny permits for climate concerns,” E&E News, 6/7/19

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US Climate Strikes, September 20, 2019

Click for interactive map of actions nearby

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Climate Change Awareness & Action Table at State Fair

Climate change is increasingly become an issue of concern in CNY:

  • Maple syrup production is declining
  • toxic alga blooms are increasing.

Climate Change Awareness & Action will have a table in the Science Building from Tuesday Aug. 27 to the end of the Fair, Monday Sept.  2.

Learn how climate change is impacting the world and CNY and what you can do about it as an individual and collectively.

The problem is too great to be addressed by individual action alone. Public policy is critical if are to decrease our dependence on carbon based  fuels, a key driver of climate change.

CCAA is undertaking a project to survey candidates running for the County Executive and 17 Onondaga county legislative districts on their position on climate change and what they support to address the challenges caused by climate change in CNY.  We will make the survey results available on our web site – www.climatechange-action.com/ as we receive them.

This survey information will be helpful for anyone in Onondaga County concerned about climate change.
Further info: Peter Wirth pwirth2@verizon.net 315-476-3396

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Columbia Gas Denied Right to Take Public Land
for Potomac Pipeline

Columbia Gas Denied Right to Take Public Land for Potomac Pipeline

The federal judge’s ruling is a blow both to Columbia Gas and to the pipeline’s main intended customer, the Rockwool insulation factory in West Virginia.

A federal court judge today denied Columbia Gas the right to move forward with construction of a gas pipeline through public land in Washington County, Md. The ruling is a blow both to Columbia Gas and to the pipeline’s main intended customer, the Rockwool insulation factory in West Virginia, now under construction.

The TransCanada subsidiary had filed a lawsuit against the state of Maryland in June in U.S. District Court in Baltimore to force access to the Maryland Rail Trail, a necessary piece to construct a 3.7-mile pipeline from Fulton County, Pa., through a thin slice of Maryland. In January, the Maryland Board of Public Works, which included Governor Larry Hogan, denied Columbia Gas an easement.

Columbia Gas’s lawsuit was unusual in that a private company tried to use the power of eminent domain to take public land. It claimed that power by virtue of the permit granted to the project by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The judge denied Columbia Gas injunctive relief because it found no substantive case, Upper Potomac Riverkeeper Brent Walls said in a statement delivered by live stream after the ruling. Private industry doesn’t have the right to file an eminent domain case against the state of Maryland, the judge found, because the state has sovereign immunity, he said.…

The judge determined that the economic loss to Columbia Gas with a denial of access is insignificant in comparison the loss of sovereignty immunity by the state of Maryland, according to Walls.…—Anne Meador, “Columbia Gas Denied Right to Take Public Land for Potomac Pipeline,” DC Media Group, 8/21/19

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Say NO to LNG on Puget Sound

Even as Washington begins a transition to 100% clean electricity, Puget Sound Energy continues plans for an 8-million-gallon fracked gas facility on the Tacoma Tideflats. Despite opposition from the Puyallup Tribe, over 80 community organizations, and Governor Inslee, PSE has moved forward with this project without its final permit.

But recently, ignoring the science on fracked gas, Puget Sound Clean Air Agency announced its plan to issue the final permit required for the facility. This decision disregards the climate, health, and safety impacts of this proposed fracked gas facility.
 
On Tuesday, August 27th, PSCAA will accept comments from the public at a hearing. This is our last opportunity to urge the agency to reject the permit for PSE’s dangerous project.

RSVP for the public hearing to tell PSCAA you stand against this dangerous fracked gas project. Or send your electronic comment to PSCAA today.

What: Final Public Hearing on Tacoma LNG
When
: August 27th from 2 to 5 p.m. and from 6:30 to 10 p.m.

Where: Rialto Theatre in Tacoma
Share the event with your friends on Facebook!

Start the day by Standing With The Puyallup! Gather at Don Pugnetti Park at 11:00 am for a march to the Rialto theater and a 1pm rally before the hearing!
 
Join us at Urban Grace Church during the 5-6:30pm break for a free screening of Native Daily Network’s documentary that chronicles Puyallup LNG resistance, Ancestral Waters.

At every stage, PSCAA has moved this project forward based on deeply flawed environmental analysis, and without the government-to-government consultation with the Puyallup Tribe that is required under law. We must call on the agency to reconsider and deny PSE’s permit, because we cannot create a clean energy future by investing in fracked gas.

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Don’t Burn Trees to Fight Climate Change – Let Them Grow

FOCUS: Don’t Burn Trees to Fight Climate Change – Let Them Grow

Of all the solutions to climate change, ones that involve trees make people the happiest. Earlier this year, when a Swiss study announced that planting 1.2 trillion trees might cancel out a decade’s worth of carbon emissions, people swooned (at least on Twitter). And last month, when Ethiopian officials announced that twenty-three million of their citizens had planted three hundred and fifty million trees in a single day, the swooning intensified. Someone tweeted, “This should be like the ice bucket challenge thing.”

So it may surprise you to learn that, at the moment, the main way in which the world employs trees to fight climate change is by cutting them down and burning them. Across much of Europe, countries and utilities are meeting their carbon-reduction targets by importing wood pellets from the southeastern United States and burning them in place of coal: giant ships keep up a steady flow of wood across the Atlantic. “Biomass makes up fifty per cent of the renewables mix in the E.U.,” Rita Frost, a campaigner for the Dogwood Alliance, a nonprofit organization based in Asheville, North Carolina, told me. And the practice could be on the rise in the United States, where new renewable-energy targets proposed by some Democrats and Republicans in Congress, as well as by the E.P.A., treat “biomass”—fuels derived from plants—as “carbon-neutral,” much to the pleasure of the forestry industry. “Big logging groups are up on Capitol Hill working hard,” Alexandra Wisner, the associate director of the Rachel Carson Council, told me, when I spoke with her recently.

The story of how this happened begins with good intentions. As concern about climate change rose during the nineteen-nineties, back when solar power, for instance, cost ten times what it does now, people casting about for alternatives to fossil fuels looked to trees. Trees, of course, are carbon—when you burn them you release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But the logic went like this: if you cut down a tree, another will grow in its place. And, as that tree grows, it will suck up carbon from the atmosphere—so, in carbon terms, it should be a wash. In 2009, Middlebury College, where I teach, was lauded for replacing its oil-fired boilers with a small biomass plant; I remember how proud the students who first presented the idea to the board of trustees were.

William R. Moomaw, a climate and policy scientist who has published some of the most recent papers on the carbon cycle of forests, told me about the impact of biomass, saying, “back in those days, I thought it could be considered carbon neutral. But I hadn’t done the math. I hadn’t done the physics.” Once scientists did that work, they fairly quickly figured out the problem. Burning wood to generate electricity expels a big puff of carbon into the atmosphere now. Eventually, if the forest regrows, that carbon will be sucked back up. But eventually will be too long—as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change made clear last fall, we’re going to break the back of the climate system in the next few decades. For all intents and purposes, in the short term, wood is just another fossil fuel, and in climate terms the short term is mostly what matters. As an M.I.T. study put it last year, while the regrowth of forests, if it happens, can eventually repay the carbon debt created by the burning of wood pellets, that payback time ranges from forty-four years to a hundred and four in forests in the eastern U.S., and, in the meantime, the carbon you’ve emitted can produce “potentially irreversible impacts that may arise before the long-run benefits are realized.”…—Bill McKibben, “Don’t Burn Trees to Fight Climate Change – Let Them Grow,” Reader Supported News, 8/17/19

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A Preview of Rapacity’s Endgame

The Amazon Is Dying
and Bolsonaro Is Fanning the Flames

The Amazon Is Dying and Bolsonaro Is Fanning the Flames

The darkened sky in São Paulo, Brazil, is pictured on August 19, 2019. Residents reported black rain, while studies by two universities confirmed that the rainwater contains fire residue. Andre Lucas / picture alliance via Getty Images

The Amazon rainforest is the largest rainforest on planet Earth. Generating half its own rainfall and holding 20 percent of all the world’s rivers within its borders, it covers an area two-thirds the size of the contiguous 48 United States, and produces 20 percent of the oxygen in the world’s atmosphere.

There are more than 1,100 tributaries of the Amazon River alone, with seventeen of them longer than one thousand miles. The rainforest also creates “flying rivers,” — massive streams of airborne moisture that develop above the canopy and move with the clouds and rainfall patterns across the entire continent of South America.

We can most likely expect to see the demise of the Amazon, possibly even before 2100.

Many scientists believe the Amazon is the most important source of biodiversity on the planet, and statistics back that up. It contains thousands of species of birds and trees, an estimated 2.5 million species of insects, and at least 3,000 species of fish in the Rio Negro alone, with new species being discovered all the time. A new species is discovered, on average, every other day.

And now, the Amazon is on fire. Wildfires are incinerating the rainforest at a record pace, according to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE as it is commonly referenced). INPE recently stated that there has been an 80 percent increase in wildfires in the Amazon, compared to the same period from last year.

Smoke from the burning rainforest has blotted out the sky over São Paulo, a city more than 1,700 miles from the fires, while satellite imagery shows smoke from the fires having spread all the way to the Atlantic coast, covering half of Brazil, and even covering parts of Paraguay, Bolivia and Peru.

Crossing Thresholds

Thomas Lovejoy has worked in Brazil’s Amazon since 1965, but he is the first to say that “we’ve barely scratched the surface” in terms of our understanding of that rainforest, as he told Truthout during an interview in 2017. He was director of the World Wildlife Fund in the U.S. for 14 years, and has been given the nickname “the godfather of biodiversity,” having coined the term “biodiversity” himself. One of his reports, alone, led to more than half of the Amazon rainforest being put under protection.

During our interview, Lovejoy gave dire warnings of things to come, including the heartbreaking wildfires we are seeing now.

He noted that emissions limits that have been agreed to internationally will not prevent catastrophe. In a 2013 op-ed for The New York Times entitled “The Climate Change Endgame,” he wrote, “It is abundantly clear that the target of a 2-degree Celsius limit to climate change was mostly derived from what seemed convenient and doable without any reference to what it really means environmentally. Two degrees is actually too much for ecosystems.”…—Dahr Jamail, “The Amazon Is Dying and Bolsonaro Is Fanning the Flames,” Truthout, 8/22/19

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Why the DNC Must Change the Rules
and Hold a Climate Debate

FOCUS: Why the DNC Must Change the Rules and Hold a Climate Debate

Dear Members of the DNC:

Your meeting in San Francisco this weekend takes place against a backdrop that is literally on fire. You are gathering one month after the hottest month ever recorded in human history. You are meeting on the same week that smoke from a record number of wildfires in the Amazon rainforest turned day into night in the Brazilian megapolis of São Paulo. And you are meeting just days after Iceland’s prime minister led her country in its first funeral service for a major glacier lost to climate change.

This is the terrifying context in which you will vote on a series of resolutions to determine whether the presidential primaries will include a dedicated debate about the climate emergency. Not the already scheduled climate “forum” or climate “town hall,” which will surely be fascinating for those who seek them out — but a formal televised debate among the top candidates vying to lead your party and the country.

I am writing to add my voice to the hundreds of thousands of others who have called on you to use your power to turn that debate into a reality.

Many of you are already on board, including the chairs of several state parties, but you are up against some powerful opponents. Let’s take on their two main counterarguments in turn.

First, you will hear that the rules on debates are already set. And, as DNC Chair Tom Perez has declared, the party “will not be holding entire debates on a single issue area.” But here’s the thing: Having a habitable Earth is not a “single issue”; it is the single precondition for every other issue’s existence. Humbling as it may be, our shared climate is the frame inside which all of our lives, causes, and struggles unfold. [emphasis added]

More immediately, climate breakdown is already pouring fuel on every evil that humans are capable of conjuring, from deadly wars to femicide to unmasked white supremacy and colonialism. Indeed, President Donald Trump is currently throwing a tantrum because he is being denied what he perceives as the United States’s manifest destiny to purchase the Indigenous-governed territory of Greenland, which has become increasingly valuable because of the wealth made accessible by melting ice. In short, there is nothing singular about planetary breakdown — it encompasses, quite literally, everything.

Other members of the DNC will argue that the climate debate must be shut down because if you give in to this wave of pressure, spearheaded by the Sunrise Movement, it will open up the floodgates for every progressive constituency demanding a dedicated debate of their own.

In truth, that will probably happen. And in retrospect, it probably would have served the country better to have a series of issue-based debates, rather than the incoherent free-for-alls we’ve been treated to so far. But the political and bureaucratic hassles you will face should you greenlight a climate debate need to be weighed against something far more important: the fact that, by breaking your own rules, you have a critical chance to model what it means to treat climate breakdown like a true emergency, which is precisely what the next administration needs to do if our species is going to have a fighting chance. And when you think about it (and I hope you do), that is a pretty fearsome responsibility.…—Naomi Klein, “Focus: Why the DNC Must Change the Rules and Hold a Climate Debate,” Reader Supported News, 8/22/19

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With the Brazilian Amazon in Flames,
We Must All Be the Resistance

With the Brazilian Amazon in Flames, We Must All Be the Resistance

Today we may be witnessing the tragedy of our lifetime: the Brazilian Amazon is in flames and in peril. Indeed, it’s not only the Amazon, but our entire planet that is in crisis as the devastation of this life-giving biome poses a real, existential threat for all of humanity.

An unprecedented number of manmade blazes are raging across the rainforest, blanketing the region in acrid smoke and prompting a state of emergency. Indeed, it’s not only the Amazon, but our entire planet that is in crisis as the devastation of this life-giving biome poses a real, existential threat for all of humanity.

We are witnessing a government that denies its responsibility for this tragedy while it dismantles Brazil’s environmental protections and rejects its duty to uphold human rights. A president so desperate to deflect culpability that he concocts pathetic theories that the very organizations dedicated to defending the rainforest are themselves responsible for this disaster. We are witnessing a perfect storm, with no end in sight.

Amazon Watch is working around the clock to ensure that the world understands both the causes and the solutions to this crisis. These fires were set deliberately and those who are resisting need our urgent support. A global solidarity movement must rise to directly oppose Bolsonaro, and as a solidarity organization Amazon Watch aims to spearhead these critical efforts.

Our recent Complicity in Destruction II report exposes the global corporate financiers of Amazon destruction, but the power to force them to change their actions comes from organizing and raising our collective voice. Today’s massive outcry over the Amazon fires and the outpouring of support toward solutions is magnifying our ability to shift these actors and ultimately the Bolsonaro regime. We will channel this support to our allies on the ground to amplify their messages and their struggles, empowering acts of resistance from all quarters.

Brazil has experienced an 84% jump in forest fires this year, totaling more than 74,000. This dire situation is exacerbated by a 67% rise in deforestation, creating ideal climatic conditions for fires to flourish and spread uncontrollably. And these trends are not accidents; they are in fact malicious acts committed by the regime of Jere Bolsonaro and his army of devout followers, carried out in a context of complete impunity.…—Christian Poirier, “With the Brazilian Amazon in Flames, We Must All Be the Resistance,” Amazon Watch, 8/23/19

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Amazon Rain-forest Fires – Avoid This Trap

The Amazon rain-forest is on fire, but there is a psychological trap to be cautious of. Like a lot of people I’ve been really deeply affected by what’s happening in the Amazon rainforest here in August 2019, as the red line of logging and fires, many of them set deliberately to clear land for soybean plantations and cattle plantations and sugar cane.

That red line encroaches deeper and deeper into what should be the heart of the Amazon rainforest. As indigenous people are getting suppressed, and protected lands are getting logged and destroyed, I feel these waves of helplessness. The grief is so strong. What do I do with that energy? I’ve noticed kind of a trap, a diversion, that says “take that energy and hate somebody with it. Blame somebody with it.”—Charles Eisenstein, “Amazon Rainforest Fires – Avoid This Trap,” YouTube, 8/23/19

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With Amazon Rain Forest Ablaze,
Brazil Faces Global Backlash

With Amazon Rain Forest Ablaze, Brazil Faces Global Backlash

The fires scorching the Amazon come amid growing concern that Brazil’s weakening environmental policies could jeopardize the country’s trade and foreign relations.

RIO DE JANEIRO — As dozens of fires scorched large swaths of the Amazon, the Brazilian government on Thursday, August 22, 2019, struggled to contain growing global outrage over its environmental policies, which have paved the way for runaway deforestation of the world’s largest rain forest.

The fires, many intentionally set, are spreading as Germany and Norway appear to be on the brink of shutting down a $1.2 billion conservation initiative for the Amazon.

Concern over the environmental policies of President Jair Bolsonaro, which have prioritized the interests of industries that want greater access to protected lands, has also put in jeopardy a trade agreement the European Union and a handful of South American nations struck in June, following decades of negotiations.…

The Bolsonaro administration has reacted with indignation to the outrage, claiming without presenting any evidence that nongovernmental organizations could have started the fires to undermine the far-right president.

In the northern state of Rondônia, which has been among the most affected by the fires, indigenous leaders described watching wild animals dashing out of areas of the forest as the flames approached.

“We saw wild pigs, tapirs, armadillos, anteaters, snakes in larger numbers than we are used to,” said Adriano Karipuna, a leader in the Karipuna indigenous community, whose territory has been affected by fires. “We saw the forest covered in smoke, and the sky darkened. Our eyes became red due to the smoke.”

Mr. Karipuna said loggers are striding into protected areas, emboldened by Mr. Bolsonaro’s views that the legal protections granted to indigenous lands are an unreasonable impediment to profiting from the Amazon’s resources.

“He empowered them, he told them to invade,” Mr. Karipuna said in a phone interview.…—Manuela Andreoni, Letícia Casado, Ernesto Londoño, “Amazon Rain Forests Are on Fire, and Brazil Faces a Global Backlash,The New York Times, 8/22/19

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Living in Two Worlds: Capitalism Pretends All Is Well
While the World Is Burning

Living in Two Worlds: Capitalism Pretends All Is Well While the World Is Burning

As the climate crisis escalates, we must develop strategies for living while recognizing the contradictions at hand.

Global capitalism demands we pretend all is well, while climate and political realities already reveal the end game we are living in. The U.S. government, along with many others in the western world, has lurched into overt authoritarianism, while climate chaos accelerates at a breakneck pace.

How do we live in both worlds?

In this column, each of us reflect on our own process of coping with this existential schism, in hopes that our experiences might be of some help in grappling with the grave dilemma we all share.

Dahr:

Those of us who are lucky enough to be living somewhere in the world where there is enough food to eat, water to drink, and security for us and our loved ones, are living in a bubble.

If we are paying close attention to escalating changes to the climate and the biosphere of Planet Earth, we know that it is only a matter of time until we or our descendants, too, will have our lives turned upside down, or even ended, by catastrophic climate disruption impacts.

The truth can be calming, as it sets our feet on solid ground, dispelling the obfuscating mist of lies, deceptions and fossil-fueled propaganda that colors the dominant culture.

Increasing numbers of us are living with the knowledge that it is already far too late to avert a global environmental catastrophe, yet the dominant culture of global capitalism continues to pretend there is still time — or the crisis isn’t actually that bad, or that geoengineering or some other mythically miraculous human technology will save us.

Nearly every experience now feels to me like an example of the growing chasm between the worlds. Here are some recent examples:

* I engaged in a conversation with a friend who spoke of interesting points during one of the Democratic debates, while I paid the debates no attention, since I already see the U.S. as a functioning authoritarian state and wonder seriously whether Trump will be the last president until the final disintegration of this country.

* Earlier today, after reading news of more climate refugees drowning in the Mediterranean Sea in a desperate attempt to gain safety abroad, I walked into a well-stocked grocery store to purchase some provisions, all the while acutely aware of the irreconcilability of these incongruent realities.

* Recently, two of my mountaineering friends and I traversed glaciers in North Cascades National Park en route to a mountain we aimed to climb. Cerulean exposed ice augmented by deep green mountain hemlock lined the valley across from the glacier upon which we climbed with our crampons and ice axes. The wonder and power of mountains brings my soul alight as nothing else. My deep love of this place made the simultaneous knowing of its impermanence all the more acute.…

Sometimes I half-joke with friends about our living in the apocalypse. My use of that word stems not from its biblical usage, but from its root in the Greek word apokálypsis which means, literally, “uncovering, disclosure, revelation.”

The veils between these co-existing realities are thinning daily for everyone. Sometimes they are being torn apart. Other times, when people are not able or willing to acknowledge these hard truths, they themselves are being torn apart by this schism.

Carrying this knowledge, how, then, does one live life on a daily basis — going to work as usual, taking children to summer camp, washing clothes, and making meals?

I have found a variety of ongoing actions helpful for creating a milieu with a spiritual atmosphere of acceptance. After years of wrestling with anger, despair, depression and angst stemming from the global crisis, my weekly menu of self-care includes time outside every day in nature, at least one full day a week in the mountains, a daily meditation practice, regular service work for both humans and the planet, and maintaining a small yet tight inner circle of trusted friends with whom I share my feelings about what is happening to the planet.…

Barbara:

As I write this piece, I am looking out the window, across a welcoming meadow, with my dog snoring contentedly at my feet. That’s my immediate reality.

Parallel to this, on August 2, 12.5 billion tons of ice melted on the Greenland ice sheet; the 250th mass shooting in the last 215 days in the U.S. just broke into the headlines; 200 known species went extinct; and the equivalent of 4,300 football fields was razed in the Amazon. This registers in me as a cocktail of outrage and grief. Steady background anxiety translates into a premonition of collapse on interlocking fronts, mass chaos and human civility gone haywire.

Behind the disparity of my privileged immediate experience and the knowledge of what is coming, are two very different ways of thinking. In a semblance of control and cool observation, my mind witnesses, assesses and wants to fix the crises. It’s my ceaseless effort to frame what is going on and keep it manageable in my head.…

Parallel to this process, after years now of digesting scientific climate realities, my body, heart and subconscious anticipate what is in the wings. Uncertainty prevails despite any efforts to contain it all.

I believe that each of us is built to heal, restore, release, recreate, remember in our own way.

What do I trust as the basis for my actions and choices? My mental context feels thin and brittle. My perception through my body senses is increasingly loud and demanding. I have the choice of where to place the weight of my discernment. Increasingly, I am using my “figure-it-out” capability to concretize the implications that arise out of a deeper level of perception mediated by my heart.

I have thought often in the last years about what I call “Noah Moves.” Most people probably thought Noah was outlandish at best, building that ark in the desert. I imagine he felt rather isolated in his determination. But he followed his inner guidance. Things that we are called to do often don’t make sense to friends, colleagues or family … from buying a mountain of food at Costco, to moving, to rearranging patterns of relationship, to laying in protest on a bridge in London. I am continually answering the question, “How, then, shall we live?” according to an inner standard that registers direction moment by moment and day by day. I am learning, often ungracefully, by trial and error, how to bridge gaps between myself and the people I love who are navigating in a different reality.…—Dahr Jamail, Barbara Cecil, “Living in Two Worlds: Capitalism Pretends All Is Well While the World Is Burning,” Truthout, 8/20/19

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Tar-Sands oil industry in trouble in Canada
as Koch Brothers disinvest

Tar-Sands oil industry in trouble in Canada as Koch Brothers disinvest

Koch Brothers Abandon Alberta Tar Sands/Oil Sands

“Koch, one of the world’s largest private companies owned by American billionaires and Republican donors Charles and David Koch, has also abandoned the licences it did not sell in the transaction with Paramount and has been allowing its leases in the play to expire,” the Post reports.

The news lands just days after tar sands/oil sands analysts bemoaned the poor response the industry is receiving from investors, despite its continuing efforts to cut costs.

“The majority of Koch Oil Sands licences have been transferred to Paramount Resources Ltd.,” Alberta Energy Regulator spokesperson Shawn Roth said in an email. “All of the remaining licences for well sites have been abandoned, which means they have been permanently sealed and taken out of service.”…—Geoffrey Morgan, “Tar-Sands oil industry in trouble in Canada as Koch Brothers disinvest,” The Benicia Independent, 8/16/19

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Protesters Crash ALEC Conference to Resist Bill Criminalizing Pipeline Activists

Protesters Crash ALEC Conference to Resist Bill Criminalizing Pipeline Activists

Protesters with Extinction Rebellion ATX were briefly detained and released after disrupting ALEC’s annual conference.

Four protesters with the Austin chapter of Extinction Rebellion were briefly detained and released Thursday after three activists disrupted a private lunch session inside the JW Marriott hotel in downtown Austin, where the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is holding its annual conference this week. Two other activists disrupted the event on the hotel’s fourth and second floors.

Inside a private ballroom, the activists chanted and dropped a banner reading “People & Planet Before Profit” to protest ALEC’s role in developing a so-called “critical infrastructure” bill passed during Texas’s last legislation session which charges those who damage or “impair or interrupt” operations of oil and gas facilities with a felony.

ALEC is a corporate-backed group that is the most prolific organization in the country at writing model legislation, which right-wing politicians often use as templates for the bills they propose — and often pass — in state legislatures. During ALEC’s annual conference, legislators and corporate lobbyist members from across the country will sit on task forces designed to review and vote on conservative model legislation.

The Texas “critical infrastructure” bill, which is set to take effect in September, will criminalize damage to oil and gas facilities under construction with a third-degree felony. Violators who simply disrupt operations or who enter property with the intent to damage it will face a state jail felony. The ALEC-created model legislation on which the Texas bill is based has already passed in eight other state legislatures in the aftermath of the high-profile protests at Standing Rock, and has been introduced in at least 13 other states. Now, the administration is taking the legislation to the federal level.…—Candice Bernd, “Protesters Crash ALEC Conference to Resist Bill Criminalizing Pipeline Activists,” Truthout, 8/15/19

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Peru Passes Momentous Ban On Palm Oil Deforestation

Peru Passes Momentous Ban On Palm Oil Deforestation

Peru has just become the second South American country to commit to ending palm oil-driven deforestation by 2021, according to reports.

The move has been described ‘a momentous win’ for wildlife and sustainable agriculture by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF).

Peru has joined Colombia on its environmental promise, which was made possible by the NWF, the largest private, non-profit conservation education and advocacy organisation in the United States. It has more than six million members and supporters and 51 state and territorial affiliated organisation, Live Kindly reports.

The NFW worked with Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo – a local partner, as well as Peruvian palm oil Producers’ Association JUNAPALMA for two years in a bid to achieve the agreement.

As quoted in Live Kindly, Kiryssa Kasprzyk, who led the NFW’s work on the agreement, said in a statement:

This commitment is a momentous development for the people of Peru and the global effort to confront climate change. It underscores that we can feed the world without hurting biodiversity or clear-cutting tropical forests.

Palm oil is a vegetable oil which is extracted from the fruit and the seeds of the oil palm and can be found in half of all packaged goods found in UK supermarkets.…—Emma Rosemurgey, “Peru Passes Momentous Ban On Palm Oil Deforestation,” Unilad, 8/21/19

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Brazil’s Bolsonaro presses anti-indigenous agenda
resistance surges

Brazil’s Bolsonaro presses anti-indigenous agenda; resistance surges

The president’s coercive methods are meeting with fierce opposition from NGOs, indigenous groups, scientists, Brazil’s Congress, high court and the international community.

  • As President Jair Bolsonaro tries to steamroll his indigenous and environmental policies into law, more than 340 international and Brazilian NGOs are urging the European Union to show its disapproval by pulling out of a nearly complete landmark trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur (South America’s trade bloc).
  • A similar plea made in May by 600 European scientists and 300 indigenous groups called on the EU to demand that Brazil respect environmental and human rights standards as a precondition for concluding the Mercosur trade negotiations. It seems very unlikely that these protests will derail the trade agreement.
  • Despite being blocked by the Brazilian Congress and by the nation’s Supreme Court, Bolsonaro continues demanding that responsibility for demarcating indigenous lands be taken away from FUNAI, Brazil’s indigenous affairs agency, and be handed over to the Ministry of Agriculture.
  • In another move, Brazil’s Environment Minister says he plans to overhaul rules used to select deforestation projects for the Amazon Fund, money provided to Brazil annually largely by Norway and Germany. Both nations deny being consulted about the rule change that could end many NGOs receiving grants.

NGOs aren’t the only group concerned over the EU forging closer ties with Brazil, a country widely accused of human right violations and environmental destruction, especially in the Amazon basin whose rain-forests are vital to sequestering carbon and slowing the climate crisis

In a drive to put economic pressure on the Bolsonaro government, more than 340 international and Brazilian NGOs signed an open letter on 17 June calling for the European Union to immediately break off negotiations with Brazil over a ground-breaking trade deal, due to “worsening human rights and [the] environmental situation” in the Latin American country.

The letter states:

Since the inauguration of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in January 2019, we have witnessed increased human rights violations, attacks on minorities, indigenous peoples, LGBTQ and other traditional communities. Moreover, the administration continues to threaten the basic democratic functioning of civil society while instigating a fundamental assault on some of the world’s most precious and ecologically valuable regions.

The letter comes just days, perhaps hours, before the EU is expected to announce the completion of a long-awaited trade deal with Mercosur, South America’s trade bloc, which includes Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.

The deal would create one of the biggest free trade blocs in the world, encompassing over 770 million consumers and a combined economic output of €18 billion (US$20 billion)..…—Sue Branford, “Brazil’s Bolsonaro presses anti-indigenous agenda; resistance surges,” Mongabay, 6/27/19

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Colombia: Indigenous Yukpa besieged
by deforestation and armed conflict

Colombia: Indigenous Yukpa besieged by deforestation and armed conflict

The indigenous Yukpa live in the Serranía del Perijá, on the border with Venezuela, and over the years have seen their land be taken over, their rivers diverted, and their people threatened by guerrilla and paramilitary groups. 

There is still hope in the innocent eyes of Yukpa children. They play, laugh, and jump about, despite the difficulties their people face. However, the adults’ eyes tell a different story: impotence, anger and pain, caused by the conditions they live in due to lack of land, hunger, deforestation and the diversion of their rivers, but above all, due to the indifference of the state.

The indigenous Yukpa past and present have sombre tones. Yukpa children present high rates of malnutrition and lack of schooling; few adults live beyond the age of 65. According to the 2005 Census, there are 4761 Yukpa living in Colombia, divided among six reserves, located in the municipalities of La Paz, Agustín Codazzi and Becerril, in Cesar, the Colombian Caribbean, covering a total area of 34,064 hectares.

In these territories, there are several areas of reserves with fragile ecosystems, and most of the Yukpa population live crammed together in the highest part of the Serranía del Perijá, where the land is more arid. The rivers their ancestors used to fish in are contaminated, some almost dry, and fish are scarce due to lack of oxygen. Furthermore, oil palm plantations have diverted the few remaining water sources. Their future looks bleak.

Semana Sostenible and Mongabay Latam visited the Iroka and Sokorpa reserves (which cover 8678/25,000 hectares and have over 3000/1362 inhabitants respectively), to see the problems experienced by the Yukpa first-hand. The group spans the border with Venezuela, and is exposed to the same difficulties experienced by many other communities living in border areas forgotten by local, regional and national governments.…—Julián Sáenz, “Colombia: Indigenous Yukpa besieged by deforestation and armed conflict,” Mongabay, 8/19/19

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Macron declares international crisis with 165,000 fires burning across Amazon Rainforest, 70,000 in Brazil

Macron declares international crisis with 165,000 fires burning across Amazon Rainforest, 70,000 in Brazil

With inadequate firefighting resources leaving massive swaths of the environmentally crucial Amazon rainforest in flames, and Brazil’s conspiracy-breathing president falsely blaming environmentalists and discounting his own government’s data, French President Emmanuel Macron is declaring an “international crisis” and urging the G7 countries to “discuss this crisis” at their meeting this weekend.

More than 165,000 fires were burning as of yesterday, more than 70,000 in Brazil.

“Satellite data from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) shows an 85% increase in the rate of forest fires, with just half of these fires occurring in the Amazon,” UN Climate Action reports. “These fires are not just affecting Brazil; several South American countries, such as Venezuela, Bolivia, and Colombia, are also currently dealing with forest fires.”

The fires “commonly occur during the dry season, caused by natural events such as lightning strikes as well as by farmers and loggers clearing land for grazing,” the publication explains. “Since July, there has been a sharp rise in deforestation, followed by an increase in burning in August. Local newspapers have reported that local farmers have been organizing fire days to illegally deforest land for cattle ranching.”

Further reading Donald Trump just made the Amazon rainforest fire crisis even worse
As Amazon Fires Become Global Crisis, Brazil’s President Reverses Course
G7 leaders vow to help Brazil fight fires, repair damage
China’s Soybean Demand in Trade War Could Fuel Amazon Fires

“What’s making it worse, say some, are some of the economic and environmental policies put in place by the Brazilian government under the leadership of President Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right politician who has questioned the existence of climate change,” CBC says. “With Brazil holding roughly 60% of the Amazon rainforest, there are concerns about what effects the fires will have ecologically and environmentally, particularly their potential to accelerate climate change.”…—Roger Straw, “Macron declares international crisis with 165,000 fires burning across Amazon Rainforest, 70,000 in Brazil,” The Benicia Independent, 8/23/19

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Australian leader mocks Pacific Islands’ pleas for climate action

Australian leader mocks Pacific Islands’ pleas for climate action

Australia’s deputy prime minister said his country shouldn’t curtail coal production so low-lying nations can survive climate change

As a tense meeting of countries in the Pacific region concluded last week with Australia forcing a watered-down statement climate change, Australia’s deputy prime minister further demonstrated the government’s disregard for Pacific islands’ pleas for urgent climate action to ensure their survival. 

“Pacific islanders don’t and won’t exist by picking Australian fruit, and any Australian who thinks that has a neocolonial attitude borne of ignorance and racism,” Yeo said. “We know those people exist but it is shocking to learn that they hold important positions in the Australian government.

Michael McCormack, who was Australia’s acting prime minister while Scott Morrison attended the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu, said that people from low-lying islands in the region will continue to survive in part because of the labor value they bring to Australia. 

“They’ll continue to survive because many of their workers come here to pick our fruit,” McCormack said Friday, as recorded and reported by The Guardian. He also said he gets “a little bit annoyed” at people from these islands calling for Australia to curtail its  coal production so that “they will continue to survive.” 

“We’re not going to be hijacked into doing something that’s going to shut down the industry that provides tens of thousands of workers’ jobs, that provides two-thirds of our energy needs,” McCormack said. 

Ahead of the forum in Tuvalu, Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama urged Australia to commit to a rapid transition away from coal to carbon-free energy, and to acknowledge the existential threat that climate change poses to low-lying islands. In response to McCormack’s comments, Bainimarama posted on Twitter, “If this is the Australian Government’s idea of a ‘step up’ in its relations with the Pacific, it’s certainly not a step forward. It’s a big step backwards.” 

Solomon Yeo, a University of South Pacific law student and president of the Pacific Island Students Fighting Climate Change, said that the student organization is very disappointed in the statements of Australia’s deputy prime minister.…

“We stand alongside the kids of Australia who believe that Scott Morison does not speak for them and are urging Australia to move beyond coal.”…—Dana Drugmand, “Australian leader mocks Pacific Islands’ pleas for climate action,” Climate Liability News, 8/19/19

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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.