September 10, 2019
“When an old culture is dying, the new culture is born from a few people who are not afraid to be insecure.” —Rudolf Bahro. How do we face a future in which the outcome is likely to be catastrophic for much of what one loves? —and work to make the catastrophe as small as possible, perhaps trivially small, perhaps finally to be overwhelmed by it? The week we explore what we mean by “hope,” and what varieties of hope sustain us as we work for a world in which our children and grandchildren – and all life – can live and thrive sustainably.
But first the news.

Action Alert! Stop The Digging; Fund the Solutions!

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The Renewable Heat Now Coalition invites the people of New York to converge at the September 19 Public Service Commission Meeting on the eve of the international climate strike. The world is watching.

At this meeting the Public Service Commission will decide what the utilities will be responsible for when it comes to meeting the state’s energy efficiency targets. The PSC is at a crossroads. Will they allow utilities to keep digging fracked gas pipelines or will they take action to insist on renewable heating now?

Come hold signs in the Public Service Commission meeting and join us at a press conference immediately following the meeting where we will issue our reaction to their decision and make our call to action for the next day.

WHEN: Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 9:30 AM – 2 PM
WHERE: Empire State Plaza, Albany, New York 12242
Hosted by Renewable Heat Now

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EARTH TO CUOMO: The Rally for New  York’s Climate

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Time Is Running Out.

This is our moment to stand together and speak in one clear voice:
“Governor Cuomo, keep your word!”

In 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo abolished fracking in New York State. Bravo!

In July 2019, he signed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, legislation that could make New York State a national leader in the fight against climate change. The bill promises 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040 and economy-wide, net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Bravo!!

But, at the same time, the Governor is still permitting ongoing operations as well as the construction of new, large-scale fracked-gas power plants and other fracked gas infrastructure projects in the state.

Unless we stop these projects now, we won’t achieve the goals described in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. Our citizens, our state, and our planet will suffer.

You are a constituent. You have power, not only in the voting booth but today, to ensure that that you and all New Yorkers will be able to enjoy clean air, fresh water and a livable climate now and for generations to come

We Can Speak for the Earth Together this October 13th!

FILL A CAR. FILL A VAN. FILL A BUS.  SEE YOU THERE!

Sunday October 13th, 2019 1:00 – 3:30
Location: Victor C Waryas Park, Poughkeepsie, NY Map: Victor C Waryas Park
Assembly point: westernmost loop end of Main Street, Poughkeepsie. Plenty of on-street parking

UPDATES AND RSVP: Earth to Cuomo: Rally for New York’s Climate
Facebook page:
Earth To Cuomo

Twitter, Facebook postings: use #EarthToCuomo
For more Information/Questions: (845) 905-9100 or earth2cuomo@gmail.com

Sponsored by 350.orgMothers Out Front•Food & Water Action•Sane Energy•NYPIRG

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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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Action Alert! Monroe County Government:
Establish a Monroe County Climate Action Plan

Rochester Youth Climate Leaders is pushing Monroe County to establish a Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our community and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. The students have spoken at every legislature meeting since May, have the support of over 1000 Monroe County residents on their petition (Sign and share the petition at change.org), and have met with various county legislators about their proposal. Additionally, they have recently obtained support from Representative Joseph Morelle of the 25th district of New York.

Sign the petition: We urge the Monroe County government to create a plan of systematic and annual greenhouse gas emissions reductions to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

Further reading Legislators propose Climate Action Plan Advisory Board for Monroe County
City of Rochester | Climate Action Plan

According to Representative Morelle, “There is no greater threat to the future of our planet than climate change – and although we are already experiencing its destructive effects today, it is our young people and future generations who will feel its devastation the most. That is why I applaud the Rochester Youth Climate Leaders for taking action on this critical issue. I am proud to stand alongside them in urging Monroe County to establish a Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our community and do their part to create a safer, healthier environment for all.”

The Rochester Youth Climate Leaders is grateful that Representative Morelle is speaking up on climate change. His endorsement encourages the county legislature to take action on this issue. Representative Morelle is doing his part to address the climate crisis, and it’s time county legislators do theirs.”—Liam Smith, “Representative Morelle calls on the Monroe County Legislature to act on Climate Change,” Rochester Youth Climate Leaders

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Thur 9/12: Get trained to lead a presentation on fracking infrastructure

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This movement to remove monopoly power from the fossil fuel industry requires us to have our facts straight, to understand the big picture, and to spread the science and truth! Whether you’re meeting with an elected official, a community group or a neighbor who wants to know more, we want you to be prepared with facts, figures and the vocabulary to explain what can seem incredibly complicated. Our free online tool You Are Here Map visualizes local fracking infrastructure connections. Learn how to give a short, effective presentation of this map. We will, as usual, have great snacks.—Sane Energy Project, 9/3/19

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University of Rochester Climate Strike

Our world is on fire. What are we going to do about it?

Rochester is proud to join the global climate strike inspired by Students’ FridaysForFuture school protests. The way we live and the non-renewable resources we are using are hurtling Earth to the point of no return. The Amazon is on fire, the Great Barrier Reef is in decay. Millions of people are being displaced in the Middle East, Central America and Africa because of the climate crisis. Something has to change.

In a climate crisis, what kind of world do we have to look forward to? Going to school begins to be pointless. We can’t live like this anymore, and we won’t.

Friday, September 20, 2019 11:00 AM
University of Rochester (Hirst lounge), Wilson Commons
500 Wilson Blvd
Rochester, NY 14611
Host Contact Info: abardhan@u.rochester.edu

Details: Click here to view the event details.

FAQ on the Global Climate Strike: https://globalclimatestrike.net/#faq

Share this event: on Facebook on Twitter.
Send your friends: 
Sign-up Here!

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New York says it will fight federal pipeline ruling

New York says it will fight federal pipeline ruling

Lisa Marshall of Horse Heads addresses those gathered for a rally outside the Capital Center on Monday, May 13, 2019, in Albany, N.Y. National Grid was holding a forum inside the center to highlight its pledge to cut 80% of its emissions by 2050. (Paul Buckowski/Times Union)

The state Department of Environmental Conservation plans to keep fighting against a planned gas pipeline that would terminate in Schoharie County, even though the agency’s 2016 denial was overturned last month by a key federal agency.

Lisa Marshall of Horse Heads addresses those gathered for a rally outside the Capital Center on Monday, May 13, 2019, in Albany, N.Y. National Grid was holding a forum inside the center to highlight its pledge to cut 80% of its emissions by 2050. (Paul Buckowski/Times Union)

“The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) ‎disagrees with FERC’s decision that, once again, sides with the fossil fuel industry over protecting our environment. DEC will continue to vigorously defend our decision and our authority to protect New York State’s water quality resources,” the agency said in a prepared statement following the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s decision in August.

In that decision, FERC ruled against the DEC because it had taken more than the specified one-year period to respond to the Williams Partners’ application for water permits to cross dozens of streams along its proposed route. The federal agency took its cue from a federal district court in Washington D.C., which also concluded that the state should have responded during the allotted time frame.

During earlier arguments though, there was a dispute about whether Williams had halted and re-filed the application or simply extended an earlier application. Williams said it halted and re-filed and the courts agreed.…—Rick Karlin, “New York says it will fight federal pipeline ruling,” Albany Times Union, 9/4/19

urce: www.timesunion.com/news/article/State-says-it-will-fight-federal-pipeline-ruling-14413910.php

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Upstate New York Climate Strikes

Click to find Climate Strikes near you

Eastern New York

  • Sheridan Hollow Climate Strike March and RallySheridan Steam Plant. 79 Sheridan Ave Albany NY US 12210 Get Details & RSVP
  • Albany Youth Climate Strike West Capitol Park. Washington Avenue Albany NY US 12210 Get Details & RSVP
  • Kingston NY Strike Friday, September 20, 2019 • 11:00 AMAcademy Green Park 238 Clinton Ave Kingston, NY 12401 Get Details & RSVP
  • New Paltz Climate Crisis Strike Friday, September 20, 2019 • 3:45 PMMain Street Elting Library Corner 93 Main St New Paltz, NY 12561 Get Details & RSVP
  • Rhinebeck Climate Strike Friday, September 20, 2019 • 1:50 PMLions Mini Park N Park Rd Rhinebeck, NY 12572 Get Details & RSVP
  • Bard College Climate Strike Friday, September 20, 2019 • 10:00 AMBard Campus Center 30 Campus Road Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504 Get Details & RSVP
  • CIA USA STRIKE Friday, September 20, 2019 • 10:00 AMPatio of the egg 1946 Campus Dr Hyde Park, NY 12538 Get Details & RSVP
  • Vassar Climate Strike Friday, September 20, 2019 • 10:00 AMVassar College 100 Main Campus Dr, Vassar College Poughkeepsie, NY 12604 Get Details & RSVP

Central New York

  •  Syracuse

    • May Memorial Climate Strike Friday, September 20, 2019 9:00 AMMay Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society 3800 E Genesee Street, Syracuse, NY 13214Get Details & RSVP
    • Syracuse Climate Strike Friday, September 20, 2019 • 11:30 AM Forman Park, Syracuse, NY 717 E Genesee Street Syracuse , NY 13210 Get Details & RSVP
  • Cherry Valley March Friday, September 20, 2019 • 5:30 PM Start at the Old School 2 Genesee St Cherry Valley, NY 13320 Get Details & RSVP
  • Ithaca Climate Strike, A Day of Action Friday, September 20, 2019 • 11:00 AM Bernie Milton Pavillion 100 N Tioga St Ithaca, NY 14850 Get Details & RSVP
  • SUNY Oswego Climate Rally Friday, September 20, 2019 • 12:00 PM Hewitt Union Union Rd Oswego, NY 13126 Get Details & RSVP
  • Rochester
    • Rochester NY Strike Friday, September 20, 2019 • 11:00 AM University of Rochester (Hirst lounge), Wilson Commons 500 Wilson Blvd Rochester, NY 14611 Get Details & RSVP 
    • Rochester NY Climate Strike Friday, September 27, 2019 • 3:30 PM Rochester City Hall 30 Church St. Rochester, NY 14614 Get Details & RSVP

Western New York

  • Buffalo Youth Climate Strike Friday, September 20, 2019 • 2:00 PM Niagara Square 1, Niagara Square Buffalo, NY 14202 Get Details & RSVP
  • Mandala Strike Friday, September 20, 2019 • 10:00 AM Mandala School 738 Main Street East Aurora , NY 14052 Get Details & RSVP

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Action Alert! Rochester Area Interfaith Climate Action

Marching and Planting Trees along the way/ Brighton, NY Climate Strike

September 22: Save the date to join Rochester Area Interfaith Climate Action for tree planting walk as we support the youth who have organized #climatestrikes throughout the world from September 20 – 27.

September 22, 1:00-3:00PM
Islamic Center of Rochester (Westfall Rd)

  1. McQuaid Jesuit High School (Elmwood & S Clinton)
  2. Temple Brith Kodesh ( Elmwood Ave)
  3. 12 Corners Presbyterian Church & Brighton High School (Winton Rd & Elmwood)

Our walk begins in Brighton at 1:00 pm on Sunday, September 22. More details to follow. Parking is available for those who are unable to walk. Positive, encouraging signs are welcome.

More info: Facebook Event Page Rochester Area Interfaith Climate Action Tree Planting Walk

RSVP for updates & register: RAICA Tree-planting

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‘No Time Left for Business as Usual’:
Climate Activists Plan Day of Mass Civil Disobedience
#ShutDownDC

‘No Time Left for Business as Usual’: Climate Activists Plan Day of Mass Civil Disobedience to #ShutDownDC

“There’s a tremendous amount of power that drives through those streets and parks next to those sidewalks and walks into those buildings. We want them to think about what they’re doing with that power.”

Environmental activists are hoping to bring Washington, D.C. to a “gridlocked standstill” next month with a massive act of civil disobedience aimed at disrupting business as usual and getting the attention of members of Congress standing in the way of bold climate action.

The #ShutDownDC day of action, scheduled for Sept. 23, is expected to include blockades at key intersections throughout the U.S. capital, according to a press release from the coalition of advocacy groups that organized the protest.

“The severity of the issue and the complete lack of response from elected officials necessitates mass civil disobedience,” Kathleen Brophy, an organizer with 350.org, said in a statement.

The civil disobedience is expected to come during a week of youth-led global climate strikes, which are set to begin Sept. 20 and continue through Sept. 27.

Sean Haskett of the youth-led Sunrise Movement told The Guardian on Wednesday that the goal of the #ShutDownDC action is to “disrupt the workings of power.”

“There’s a tremendous amount of power that drives through those streets and parks next to those sidewalks and walks into those buildings,” said Haskett. “We want them to think about what they’re doing with that power.”

Further involvement: DC Climate Strike – Shut Down Business-As-Usual – September 23

The coalition behind the protest—which includes prominent organizations such as Extinction Rebellion D.C., Movement for a People’s Party, and CodePink—acknowledged the blockades will likely “cause massive disruption to people who bear little responsibility for the climate catastrophe we are facing.”

“But we will also cause massive disruption for politicians, huge corporations, and the lobbyists who control our government,” the groups said on the website for the action. “We need to fundamentally change the power structure of the United States if we want to stop the climate crisis, and shutting down D.C. is a big step in the right direction.”…—Jake Johnson, “‘No Time Left for Business as Usual’: Climate Activists Plan Day of Mass Civil Disobedience to #ShutDownDC,” Common Dreams News, 8/28/19

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Varieties of Hope During the Great Turning

Hope in the Face of Climate Change

A Bridge Without Railing

Those about to watch this video are unique people, willing to unflinchingly consider the portends of climate change eyeball to eyeball. But this subculture has developed a severe aversion to the term ‘hope’ which could used to be rectified. This talk by Dr. Susanne Moser, presented on June 12, 2015, takes a look at climate and hope different than usually. The word has a diverse meaning and integral relationship with the human psyche. To ‘abandon all hope’ we risk painting ourselves into a dark, dark corner when in fact we need to be coming from the light more now than ever. Hope is more complex than that. There is no doubt we live at an apocalyptic moment in time. Remaining intent upon making personal and political change within our sphere is a self-reinforcing function coupled with hope. We cannot afford to bar ‘hope’ as one of the many responses upon which we can draw.

Dr. Moser gave this keynote speech about the importance of ‘active hope’ in the face of climate disruption at the 2015 Conference on Communication and Environment (COCE) in Boulder, Colorado on June 12th, 2015 . We are republishing the presentation here with her permission.—Susanne Moser, “Hope in the face of climate change,” UPFSI|YouTube, 9/7/19

You can read in depth about Dr. Moser at http://www.susannemoser.com/about.php. Dowload a PDF of the draft of her paper underlying this presentation: “Hope in the face of climate change: A bridge without railing” 

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Despairing about the Climate Crisis? Read This.

Despairing about the Climate Crisis? Read This.

Perhaps you are depressed about last year’s IPCC report, which said we have about a decade to head off catastrophic climate change. Or you are reeling from the UN’s recent warning that we may doom one million species to extinction. These days, the relentless tide of bad news can take a toll on our mental health — and on our motivation to stay in the fight. How can we find that sweet spot between denial and despair?

Susanne Moser has given it some thought.

In fact, Moser has been thinking about climate change since the mid-1980s, when — as a high school student in Germany — she read an article on the subject in one of her mother’s magazines. She came to the US to complete a doctorate on climate-related issues, and her long resume includes stints at the Union of Concerned Scientists and the National Center for Atmospheric Research, as well as academic postings at Harvard and Stanford universities. Moser has always been ahead of the curve: she was writing about climate adaptation back in the early 1990s, before that was a thing. Today, in addition to advising governments, nonprofits, foundations and others on climate change adaptation and the transformational changes required to maintain the kind of conditions that allow for a functional society, much less one in which all people and nature can thrive, Moser spends a lot of time thinking about the psychological demands of this fraught moment.

In a conversation with Earth Island Journal and Island Press, Moser talks about communicating bad climate news, the benefits of “functional denial,” the varied flavors of hope, and the better world we can build in the wreckage of life as we know it.

So you’ve been trying to get people to pay attention to climate change for decades now. We always hear in the communications field that fear is not motivating, that scaring the bejesus out of people is not productive. But personally, I feel quite motivated by fear. And the science is fearful. Should we pull our punches on that?

Well, there is no doubt that fear is motivational, or else we would not be here as a species. Right? If we were not afraid of the lions coming out of the grass, we’d be eaten by them. But if you only scare people without telling them what the hell they can do with their fear and how to translate that into protective or remedial action, then you lose them. There are two reactions we have to a threat: we either deal with the threat, or we deal with the feeling about the threat.

The first option actually reduces the threat. You reduce it, you run away from it, or you build a seawall against it. The other one is, I don’t want to look this awful issue in the face because I don’t know what to do. So I’m going to stick my head in the sand.

The same is true with shame, which can sometimes move some people. Guilt can, anger can, love can, but if you don’t know how to translate them into anything, then even positive feelings won’t do any good.…

I’ve come to the conclusion we have very little hope literacy in this country, and in the world, actually. There are many different flavors of hope.

One is sometimes called grounded hope, active hope, or authentic hope. That’s where you are not at all convinced that there is a positive outcome at the end of your labors. It’s not like you’re working towards winning something grand. You don’t know that you’ll able to achieve that. But you do know that you cannot live with yourself if you do not do everything toward a positive outcome.

And then there’s ‘radical hope,’ a term coined by a man named Jonathan Lear, an anthropologist. With radical hope, you don’t know at all whether the outcome is positive or negative. Neither the means nor the ends are clear, and you have to reinvent yourself completely to come to peace with whatever that new future is. Between grounded hope and radical hope, that’s what we’re going to need for climate change.

It sounds like radical hope is useful in times of great uncertainty.

Oh, absolutely. Lear came up with that term in the context of studying a Native American tribe that had lost everything: their land, their livelihoods, their culture, their freedom — they had to completely remake themselves in order to survive.

They had a great leader in helping them make that transformation. We don’t currently have anyone in this country or in this world that I see who understands what radical cultural transformation requires in terms of leadership.…—Laurie Mazur, “Despairing about the Climate Crisis? Read This.Flipboard, 7/22/19

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Judge allowing more tribes, groups to weigh in on DAPL lawsuit

Judge allowing more tribes, groups to weigh in on DAPL lawsuit

The federal judge overseeing a tribal lawsuit against the Dakota Access Pipeline is allowing nine groups including the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Congress of American Indians to

The federal judge overseeing a tribal lawsuit against the Dakota Access Pipeline is allowing nine groups including the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Congress of American Indians to weigh in on whether federal officials who permitted the pipeline properly consulted tribes.

Texas-based pipeline developer Dakota Access unsuccessfully opposed the groups’ request, arguing that the issue of tribal consultation has already been resolved.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg, in Washington, D.C., also is allowing 14 other tribes from Washington state to Florida to provide input in the lawsuit filed by four Sioux tribes in the Dakotas. Those tribes fear a spill from the $3.8 billion pipeline that’s moving North Dakota oil to Illinois could contaminate the Missouri River, which they rely on for drinking water, fishing and religious practices.

The Standing Rock, Cheyenne River, Oglala and Yankton Sioux all recently filed what amounts to their final legal arguments in the three-year-old case. They want Boasberg to order the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to shut down the pipeline and do more environmental study.

The group of intervenors that includes the ACLU and the 14 other tribes argues that the Corps has not adequately considered tribal views. The agency “ignored the extensive body of materials amassed by the tribes regarding the potential impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice,” attorney Michael Sklaire wrote.…—Blake Nicholson, “Judge allowing more tribes, groups to weigh in on DAPL lawsuit,” Bismarck Tribune, 9/6/19

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Extinction Rebellion’s radical philosophy

Extinction Rebellion’s radical philosophy

An Extinction Rebellion protest on Blackfriars Bridge in London, November 17, 2018. CREDIT: Julia Hawkins

“When it’s a fight for your life, you’re willing to throw down.”

“The way you win is by forcing the issue and then asking people, ‘Which side are you on?’ And we know what side the conservatives are on,” Ruiz said. “A significant portion of the country, for example, is evangelicals, who literally believe that, if climate change exists, then it’s God’s will. Civil resistance movements do not win by spending precious time and resources and energy trying to win over people like that. That’s a losing strategy.”

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The Battle for a Paycheck in Kentucky Coal Country

The Battle for a Paycheck in Kentucky Coal Country

At a protest camp in Harlan County, Kentucky, coal miners fighting for better wages have attempted to dispense with contemporary political divisions, at least momentarily. Illustrations by Edward Steed

On a cloudy morning in late August, about a dozen coal miners, their families, and a few young labor activists were gathered in a protest encampment, which they had built together, on a set of train tracks that ran through the steep green hills of eastern Kentucky. An air of weariness was descending. The group had been there for about a month, since five miners had stopped an outbound train that was loaded with a million dollars’ worth of metallurgical coal. The company that owned the mine, Blackjewel, had failed to pay the miners for their work, and, in turn, the miners had pledged to block the coal train until they got the money they were due. They were still waiting. Stacy Rowe, the wife of a miner named Chris, was at the camp, wearing a red T-shirt printed with a crossed pickaxe and shovel and the words “No Pay, No Coal.” “I think everybody is tired,” she said. “Physically, mentally, and emotionally.”

Blackjewel, like almost every other coal company in Kentucky, had not been in compliance with a state law requiring coal companies to post a bond to cover workers’ wages in cases of sudden insolvency.

Seated next to Rowe was Lill, a twenty-nine-year-old transgender activist, whose feet were soaking in a basin of warm water sprinkled with bath salts. “You gotta take care of your body, even out here,” they said, with a thick Kentucky drawl. “You only get one.” Lill and their friend Nico, who both use gender-neutral pronouns and requested that I not use their last names, had recently bought a house for their collective in the coal fields of West Virginia, and have been involved in many protest camps over the years—against natural-gas pipelines, mountaintop-removal mining, and the prison system. Lill quit their job at a Starbucks when they heard about the miners’ action; they and Nico arrived on day two of the blockade. They set up social-media accounts to post about the miners’ fight, and to crowdfund from activists around the country and the world. “Our sort of gimmick is that we’re just really honest about who we are,” Lill said. “We’re mostly a collective of trans anarchists, and a lot of people want to throw money at the kind of solidarity that can be built between us and coal miners.” Nico added, “It’s almost like they’re shocked by it.”

“It’s, ‘Oh, my God, these coal miners aren’t homophobic! Can you believe it?’ ” Lill said.

Rowe nodded. “Southeast Kentucky gets stereotyped,” she said. “We’re stereotyped to hate all different kinds of people, and we don’t. I don’t care if you’re different from me. So I do like that we’re kind of proving that people can come together.”

Further reading: Bankrupt coal company Blackjewel hit with class action lawsuit

The origin of the blockade dates back to Monday, July 1st, when about a hundred men arrived to work at a mine, known as Cloverlick No. 3, up a narrow hollow in the small town of Cumberland. The miners were suited up, ready to go underground, when their superintendent informed them that Blackjewel had declared bankruptcy that morning. The men were untroubled. They were, at this point, accustomed to mass layoffs, to coal companies going belly-up. Apart from Blackjewel, half a dozen other coal companies have filed for bankruptcy since Donald Trump took office. In the last three decades, Kentucky has shed eighty per cent of its coal-mining jobs. (At last count, according to the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, about sixty-six hundred coal-mining jobs remained in Kentucky, and fifty-three thousand remained nationwide.)

But three hours after the miners started their shifts they were unexpectedly called back outside and sent home. By Wednesday, their bank balances were negative. They had cashed their paychecks from the previous Friday to pay mortgages, utility bills, and medication costs, and to buy food and gas. When banks realized that the checks were cold, they deducted the money from the miners’ accounts.

Some miners discovered that the checks had bounced when they heard from ex-spouses that their child-support contributions—withheld automatically from their paychecks—had evaporated.…—Carolyn Kormann, “The Battle for a Paycheck in Kentucky Coal Country,” The New Yorker, 9/9/19

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Why Are Hurricanes Like Dorian Stalling,
and Is Global Warming Involved?

Why Are Hurricanes Like Dorian Stalling, and Is Global Warming Involved?

Hurricanes Harvey and Florence also stalled, leading to extreme rainfall. Research shows it’s a global trend.

Hurricane Dorian’s slow, destructive track through the Bahamas fits a pattern scientists have been seeing over recent decades, and one they expect to continue as the planet warms: hurricanes stalling over coastal areas and bringing extreme rainfall.

Dorian made landfall in the northern Bahamas on Sept. 1 as one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record, then battered the islands for hours on end with heavy rain, a storm surge of up to 23 feet and sustained wind speeds reaching 185 miles per hour. The storm’s slow forward motion—at times only 1 mile per hour—is one of the reasons forecasters were having a hard time pinpointing its exact future path toward the U.S. coast.

With the storm still over the islands on Sept. 2, the magnitude of the devastation and death toll was only beginning to become clear. “We are in the midst of a historic tragedy in parts of our northern Bahamas,” Prime Minister Hubert Minnis told reporters.

Recent research shows that more North Atlantic hurricanes have been stalling as Dorian did, leading to more extreme rainfall. Their average forward speed has also decreased by 17 percent—from 11.5 mph, to 9.6 mph—from 1944 to 2017, according to a study published in June by federal scientists at NASA and NOAA.

Further reading: The Strange Future Hurricane Harvey Portends

The researchers don’t understand exactly why tropical storms are stalling more, but they think it’s caused by a general slowdown of atmospheric circulation (global winds), both in the tropics, where the systems form, and in the mid-latitudes, where they hit land and cause damage.

Hurricanes are steered and carried by large-scale wind flows, “like a cork in a stream,” said Tim Hall, a hurricane researcher with NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and author of the study. So, if those winds slow down or shift direction, it affects how fast hurricanes move forward and where they end up.…—Bob Berwyn, “Why Are Hurricanes Like Dorian Stalling, and Is Global Warming Involved?InsideClimate News, 9/3/19

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As the Brazilian Amazon Burns, Indigenous Peoples Take a Stand

As the Brazilian Amazon Burns, Indigenous Peoples Take a Stand

In August, 2019, Amazon Watch visited the Munduruku people in the Amazonian state of Pará, whose nation stretches the vast Tapajós River basin. Our stay in the contested Sawré Muybu territory was illustrative of the spiraling threats faced by indigenous peoples in Bolsonaro’s Brazil.

In these dark times we need solutions that inspire, and that match the enormity of our collective challenges. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Brazilian Amazon, where irreplaceable forests and their indigenous guardians face severe crisis. With deforestation now reaching three football fields per minute and murderous invasions of indigenous territories spiking, the Bolsonaro regime has created a perfect storm that is pushing the world’s largest rainforest toward an irreversible tipping point, with drastic implications for us all.  

Last week’s assassination of Chief Emyra Waiãpi by illegal miners in Amapá state indicates the deadly climate faced by Amazonian Earth Defenders. It is also emblematic of a wave of violent criminality spreading across the region’s protected forests, as the Brazilian government abandons its duty to enforce environmental law and uphold human rights.

Brazil’s indigenous peoples effectively stand between Bolsonaro’s reckless agenda and global climate chaos. And as his regime unleashes fury on the Amazon by slashing governance and inspiring lawlessness, indigenous communities are placed on the front lines of resistance, increasingly defending lands and rights on their own

The Munduruku Resistance

Last month I visited the Munduruku people in the Amazonian state of Pará, whose nation stretches the vast Tapajós River basin. My stay in the contested Sawré Muybu territory was illustrative of the spiraling threats faced by indigenous peoples in Bolsonaro’s Brazil. The Munduruku people have long fought to officially title this 440,000 acre territory, while the federal government has continually reneged on its constitutional duty to finalize this arduous process, leaving their ancestral domain in legal limbo and increasingly vulnerable to destructive invasions and land grabbing. In short, the Munduruku of Sawré Muybu live precariously in a deteriorating conflict zone.   

Traveling with Munduruku Chief Juarez and a group of observers along the Tapajós River and its tributary the Jamanxim, I witnessed dozens of clandestine roads entering Sawré Muybu from the riverbanks and leading to illegal logging and mining sites. We walked miles up an active, well-maintained road penetrating deep into Munduruku land that showed years of sophisticated selective logging operations that degraded surrounding forests. We departed under the watchful gaze of the local logging mafia, made keenly aware of daily intimidation faced by indigenous communities confronted with criminal invaders.

Further reading: South America leaders gather to discuss protection of Amazon

The following day we traveled further upstream and past a stunningly beautiful Munduruku sacred site. Known as Daje Kapap, the broad Tapajós suddenly narrows here, with tall verdant hillsides plunging into the river. Yet only ten minutes upstream from this cosmological center we encountered a major mining road that twisted into the forest, past various wastelands of prior mining activity, and finally to a gigantic swath of devastation, where excavators and high-powered hoses had blasted away entire hillsides in search of diamonds. While officially considered an irregular, “wildcat” mining site I was struck by the scale and sophistication of such an operation, which the Bolsonaro government tacitly allows to flourish in remote Amazonian locations.…—Christian Poirier, “As the Brazilian Amazon Burns, Indigenous Peoples Take a Stand,” Amazon Watch, 8/1/19

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16 Inventions Getting Us Off Fossil Fuels

Much of the world’s energy is sourced from fossil fuels. However, there are several individuals and companies who have developed inventions to help get the world off of non-renewable energy. Watch the video above to see these inventions in action.—”16 Inventions Getting Us Off Fossil Fuels,” TechInsider|YouTube, 8/22/18

Further viewing How One Company Turns Plastic Waste Into Reusable Packaging
How Method Keeps Its Soap Factory Eco-Friendly
How This Robotic Farm Is Reimagining Agriculture

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What if We Stopped Pretending the Climate Apocalypse
Can Be Stopped?

What if We Stopped Pretending the Climate Apocalypse Can Be Stopped?

The climate apocalypse is coming. To prepare for it, we need to admit that we can’t prevent it.

“There is infinite hope,” Kafka tells us, “only not for us.” This is a fittingly mystical epigram from a writer whose characters strive for ostensibly reachable goals and, tragically or amusingly, never manage to get any closer to them. But it seems to me, in our rapidly darkening world, that the converse of Kafka’s quip is equally true: There is no hope, except for us.

I’m talking, of course, about climate change. The struggle to rein in global carbon emissions and keep the planet from melting down has the feel of Kafka’s fiction. The goal has been clear for thirty years, and despite earnest efforts we’ve made essentially no progress toward reaching it. Today, the scientific evidence verges on irrefutable. If you’re younger than sixty, you have a good chance of witnessing the radical destabilization of life on earth—massive crop failures, apocalyptic fires, imploding economies, epic flooding, hundreds of millions of refugees fleeing regions made uninhabitable by extreme heat or permanent drought. If you’re under thirty, you’re all but guaranteed to witness it.

If you care about the planet, and about the people and animals who live on it, there are two ways to think about this. You can keep on hoping that catastrophe is preventable, and feel ever more frustrated or enraged by the world’s inaction. Or you can accept that disaster is coming, and begin to rethink what it means to have hope.

Even at this late date, expressions of unrealistic hope continue to abound. Hardly a day seems to pass without my reading that it’s time to “roll up our sleeves” and “save the planet”; that the problem of climate change can be “solved” if we summon the collective will. Although this message was probably still true in 1988, when the science became fully clear, we’ve emitted as much atmospheric carbon in the past thirty years as we did in the previous two centuries of industrialization. The facts have changed, but somehow the message stays the same.

Psychologically, this denial makes sense. Despite the outrageous fact that I’ll soon be dead forever, I live in the present, not the future. Given a choice between an alarming abstraction (death) and the reassuring evidence of my senses (breakfast!), my mind prefers to focus on the latter. The planet, too, is still marvelously intact, still basically normal—seasons changing, another election year coming, new comedies on Netflix—and its impending collapse is even harder to wrap my mind around than death. Other kinds of apocalypse, whether religious or thermonuclear or asteroidal, at least have the binary neatness of dying: one moment the world is there, the next moment it’s gone forever. Climate apocalypse, by contrast, is messy. It will take the form of increasingly severe crises compounding chaotically until civilization begins to fray. Things will get very bad, but maybe not too soon, and maybe not for everyone. Maybe not for me.

Some of the denial, however, is more willful. The evil of the Republican Party’s position on climate science is well known, but denial is entrenched in progressive politics, too, or at least in its rhetoric. The Green New Deal, the blueprint for some of the most substantial proposals put forth on the issue, is still framed as our last chance to avert catastrophe and save the planet, by way of gargantuan renewable-energy projects. Many of the groups that support those proposals deploy the language of “stopping” climate change, or imply that there’s still time to prevent it. Unlike the political right, the left prides itself on listening to climate scientists, who do indeed allow that catastrophe is theoretically avertable. But not everyone seems to be listening carefully. The stress falls on the word theoretically.…—Jonathan Franzen, “What if We Stopped Pretending the Climate Apocalypse Can Be Stopped?The New Yorker, 9/8/19

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Geez Magazine

Geez magazine is a quarterly, non-profit, ad-free, print magazine about social justice, art, and activism for people at the fringes of faith in both Canada and the US.

Our aim is to nurture a community of faith-oriented folks that are concerned about the environment, peace, racial and gender justice, decolonization, and other social concerns. At best, we offer a prophetic and provocative voice to the institutional church and a pastoral presence to those laboring at the front lines of social change.

Here is a sneak preview of the October, 2019 edition:

Tolstoy believed that every generation has a zeitgeist — an emotion that acts as the unspoken guiding force of a time in history. For those of us coming of age in the climate-changed world of late-capitalism, it could be said that the predominant guiding force of our generation is grief.

With the news media surrounding us every day, we are steeped in images of grief. Whales washing up on shores with stomachs full of plastic. Pollinators dying off. Climate change records surpassed decades before predicted, and neo-fascist governments suppressing environmental conservation efforts around the world.

For this whose lives are more directly impacted by climate change and those engaged in the struggle for climate justice, grief becomes the psychic background noise of our work…—Lane Patriquin, “The Zeitgeist of Grief,” Geez 54: Climate Justice, autumn, 2019

This is a magazine with a creative lilt, insight into the zeitgeist of current times, and moxy, devoted to seeing justice done and “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable,” as Finley Dunne once described a newspaper’s job. Here is their business plan:

Bad Business Plan 101

1. Let your kids run through the office with boxes on their heads and spit up on your budgets.
2. Refuse to give up on print or move your publication online.
3. Print on the most expensive 100% post-consumer waste paper.
4. Turn down money from advertisers.
5. This is Geez magazine. We throw down with bad business plans. We refuse to cooperate within a capitalist frame of mind. We rely on readers and community to support this holy, humorous adventure. We straddle the budget lines, count subscriptions, and hope to break even. And we have a blast doing it.

This is the long tradition of Geez. We believe that stories are crucial in the work of transformation. And we believe that holding those stories in your hands is sacred. Subscribe at subscriptions@geezmagazine.orgGeez Magazine

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There is no ‘right’ v ‘left’: it is Trump and the oligarchs against the rest

The president is the puppet master so Americans of all persuasions must look behind him, to where the real danger lies

I keep hearing that the Democratic party has moved “left” and that Democratic candidates may be “too far left”.

But in an era of unprecedented concentration of wealth and political power at the top, I can’t help wondering what it means to be “left”.

A half-century ago, when America had a large and growing middle class, those on the “left” sought stronger social safety nets and more public investment in schools, roads and research. Those on the “right” sought greater reliance on the free market.

But as wealth and power have concentrated at the top, everyone else – whether on the old right or the old left – has become dis-empowered and less secure.

Further reading Donald Trump wants to be a dictator. It’s not enough just to laugh at him
Trump says supporters might ‘demand’ that he serve more than two terms as president
Donald Trump: Extend committee chairmanship to stop retirements

Safety nets have unraveled, public investments have waned and the free market has been taken over by crony capitalism and corporate welfare cheats. Washington and state capitals are overwhelmed by money coming from the super rich, Wall Street and big corporations.

Divide-and-conquer makes the rest of us puppets, fighting each other on a made-up stage

So why do we continue to hear and use the same old “right” and “left” labels?

I suspect it’s because the emerging oligarchy feels safer if Americans are split along the old political battle lines. That way, Americans won’t notice they’re being shafted.

In reality, the biggest divide in America today runs between oligarchy and democracy. When oligarchs fill the coffers of political candidates, they neuter democracy.…—Robert Reich, “There is no ‘right’ v ‘left’: it is Trump and the oligarchs against the rest,” The Guardian, 7/7/19

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Indonesian court cancels dam project
in last stronghold of tigers, rhinos

Indonesian court cancels dam project in last stronghold of tigers, rhinos

Brief

  • A court in Indonesia’s Aceh province has ordered an end to a planned hydroelectric project in Sumatra’s unique Leuser Ecosystem.
  • Environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the Aceh government and the dam’s developer earlier this year over potential environmental destruction and violation of zoning laws.
  • The area is the last place on Earth that’s home to wild tigers, rhinos, orangutans and elephants — all critically endangered species whose habitat would be flooded and fragmented by the dam and its roads and power lines.
  • Villagers in the region were also widely opposed to the project, which they say would have dammed up the river on which they depend and forced them to relocate to make way for the reservoir.

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia — A court in Indonesia has annulled a permit allowing the development of a $3 billion hydropower plant in a forest that’s home to critically endangered tigers, rhinos and orangutans.

The court in Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province on the northern tip of Sumatra, issued the ruling Aug. 28, in a lawsuit filed in March by the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), the country’s biggest green NGO. The respondents in the suit are the Aceh provincial government, which issued the permit, and PT Kamirzu, the Indonesian subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Prosperity International Holding, the recipient of the permit.

The ruling orders the developer and the provincial government to stop the project to build a 443-megawatt plant on 4,407 hectares (10,890 acres) straddling the three districts of Gayo Lues, Aceh Tamiang and East Aceh. The Aceh government violated prevailing regulations, the court found, by permitting the development of forest land greater than 5 hectares (12 acres). Earlier during the hearings, the judges visited the site of the planned Tampur hydropower plant.

Walhi welcomed the court’s decision.

“This means that, besides being objective in assessing and making the decision, the presiding judge has given a new legal lesson for the people of Indonesia,” said Muhammad Reza Maulana, the legal counsel for Walhi’s Aceh chapter.…—Junaidi Hanafiah, “Indonesian court cancels dam project in last stronghold of tigers, rhinos,” Mongabay, 9/2/19

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Scientists Are Wrong About Climate Change.
They’ve Been Underestimating the Pace of It

Scientists Are Wrong About Climate Change. They’ve Been Underestimating the Pace of It

Recently, the U.K. Met Office announced a revision to the Hadley Center historical analysis of sea surface temperatures (SST), suggesting that the oceans have warmed about 0.1 degree Celsius more than previously thought. The need for revision arises from the long-recognized problem that in the past sea surface temperatures were measured using a variety of error-prone methods such as using open buckets, lamb’s wool–wrapped thermometers, and canvas bags. It was not until the 1990s that oceanographers developed a network of consistent and reliable measurement buoys.

Then, to develop a consistent picture of long-term trends, techniques had to be developed to compensate for the errors in the older measurements and reconcile them with the newer ones. The Hadley Centre has led this effort, and the new data set—dubbed HadSST4—is a welcome advance in our understanding of global climate change.

But that’s where the good news ends. Because the oceans cover three fifths of the globe, this correction implies that previous estimates of overall global warming have been too low. Moreover it was reported recently that in the one place where it was carefully measured, the underwater melting that is driving disintegration of ice sheets and glaciers is occurring far faster than predicted by theory—as much as two orders of magnitude faster—throwing current model projections of sea level rise further in doubt.

These recent updates, suggesting that climate change and its impacts are emerging faster than scientists previously thought, are consistent with observations that we and other colleagues have made identifying a pattern in assessments of climate research of underestimation of certain key climate indicators, and therefore underestimation of the threat of climate disruption. When new observations of the climate system have provided more or better data, or permitted us to reevaluate old ones, the findings for ice extent, sea level rise and ocean temperature have generally been worse than earlier prevailing views.

Consistent underestimation is a form of bias—in the literal meaning of a systematic tendency to lean in one direction or another—which raises the question: what is causing this bias in scientific analyses of the climate system?…—Naomi Oreskes, Michael Oppenheimer, Dale Jamieson, “Scientists Are Wrong About Climate Change. They’ve Been Underestimating the Pace of It,” Reader Supported News, 8/21/19

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Brazilian environment official murdered in Amazon

Brazilian environment worker killed in Amazon

Police in Brazil are investigating the murder of an official who had worked to protect indigenous people from farmers and loggers attempting to seize land.

Maxciel Pereira dos Santos was reportedly shot twice in the head in the city of Tabatinga, near Brazil’s borders with Colombia and Peru.

Union officials said Mr Santos was shot in front of members of his family.

The killing comes amid international outrage over the rate of destruction of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil.

At least 80,000 fires were recorded there between January and August this year – more than double the number in the same period last year

Further reading Amazon fires: How bad have they got?
The animals caught in the Amazon fires
Amazon fires: Ten of your questions answered
Are forest fires as bad as they seem?

Brazil’s populist President Jair Bolsonaro has drawn intense domestic and international criticism for failing to protect the region.

Hundreds of government environment workers in Brazil last month signed an open letter warning that their work had been hampered by President Bolsonaro.

He has often stated support for farmers and loggers working in the region, while criticising environmental campaigners and slashing the budget of the country’s environmental agency.

Murder on a busy street

The union which represents staff at Brazil’s indigenous protection agency, Funai, said Mr Santos had been shot twice in the head as he drove his motorcycle down a busy street.

INA officials said he was killed in retaliation for his work at the Vale do Javari reserve, where for years he helped prevent hunters, farmers and loggers illegally entering the area.

The reserve is said to be home to the world’s highest concentration of uncontacted indigenous tribes.…—”Brazil worker who protected indigenous tribes killed in Amazon,” BBC News, 9/9/19

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It may feel like the world’s ending
but America has reason to hope

It may feel like the world’s ending – but America has reason to hope

Inequality, the climate crisis, and Trump in the White House may cause despair. But the country is poised to bounce back

If stagnant wages, near-record inequality, climate change, nuclear buildups, assault weapons, mass killings, trade wars, opioid deaths, Russian intrusions into American elections, kids locked in cages at our border, and Donald Trump in the White House don’t at least occasionally cause you feelings of impending doom, you’re not human.

But I want you to remember this: as bad as it looks right now – as despairing as you can sometimes feel – the great strength of this country is our resilience. We bounce back. We will again.

Not convinced?

First, come back in time with me to when I graduated college in 1968. That year, Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated. Robert F Kennedy was assassinated. Our cities were burning.

Whenever privilege and power conspire to pull us backward, we eventually rally and move forward

Tens of thousands of young Americans were being ordered to Vietnam to fight an unwinnable and unjust war, which ultimately claimed more than 58,000 American lives and the lives of over 3 million Vietnamese.

The nation was deeply divided. And then in November, Richard Nixon was elected president. I recall thinking this nation would never recover. But somehow we bounced back.…—Robert Reich, “It may feel like the world’s ending – but America has reason to hope,” The Guardian, 9/7/19

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Elizabeth Warren’s Classic ‘Oh Give Me a Break!’

Elizabeth Warren Gives A Very Good Answer On Straws And Light Bulbs

The fossil fuel industry wants us fighting about cheeseburgers rather than noticing their culpability.

This answer from the CNN Climate Change Forum is gaining traction. (The other was Pete Buttigieg’s answer on Trump “living in a different reality.”)

Host Chris Cuomo asked Warren if the government should regulate what kind of light bulb Americans buy.

“Oh, give me a break,” said the Massachusetts Senator.

ELIZABETH WARREN: Look, there are a lot of ways that we try to change our energy consumption, and our pollution, and God bless all of those ways. Some of it is with lightbulbs, some of it is on straws, some of it, dang, is on cheeseburgers, right? There are a lot of different pieces to this. And I get that people are trying to find the part that they can work on and what can they do. And I’m in favor of that. And I’m going to help and I’m going to support.

But understand, this is exactly what the fossil fuel industry hopes we’re all talking about. That’s what they want us to talk about.

“This is your problem.” They want to be able to stir up a lot of controversy around your lightbulbs, around your straws, and around your cheeseburgers. When 70 percent of the pollution of the carbon that we’re throwing into the air comes from three industries, and we can set our targets and say, by 2028, 2030, and 2035, no more. Think about that. Right there.…—Frances Langum, “Elizabeth Warren Gives A Very Good Answer On Straws And Light Bulbs,” Crooks and Liars, 9/6/19

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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.