January 20, 2020
This week was filled with examples of unexpected loss, inauspicious change and suffering, all undeniably caused by the climate emergency. We look at a few, and also the growing body of work on deep adaptation in the face of inevitable loss despite our best efforts to convince the powers that be to avoid a climate crisis.
But first the news.

Table of Contents

Activist News

Field Lessons in Climate Crisis

Indigenous Peoples News

Youth Leadership

Resilience & Deep Adaptation

In Case You Missed It

The Lighter Side of Things


NY Public Service Commission Burdens Rate Payers with utility investments while inching foward on energy efficiency

Citizen activists protesting PSC’s lack of movement on climate change removed from meeting

Albany, NY — Renewable energy and energy efficiency supporters packed today’s monthly Public Service Commission meeting to hear decisions on New York’s long-awaited Energy Efficiency Standard as well as the controversial Consolidated Edison rate case settlement.

To the disappointment of activists gathered in the room, the Commissioners, who are all appointed by Governor Cuomo, approved Consolidated Edison’s rate hike request, which included hundreds of millions of dollars for gas infrastructure projects the company said were needed to increase gas delivery in its New York City territory. Environmental advocacy groups nearly unanimously opposed Con Edison’s gas proposal because of these investments, which fly in the face of climate science and New York’s climate law. Only Commissioner Tracey Edwards voted no on the proposal, saying that she wanted the Commission to move faster on environmental issues. The vote to approve the rate hike was met by chants and songs of resistance by some of the activists in the room, who temporarily shut down the meeting and were eventually removed by security.

Westchester County legislator, Colin Smith, later expressed his disappointment in the decision saying that the rate hike increased the financial burden on already struggling Westchester families. He praised Governor Cuomo for his efforts to stand up to the corporate utilities like Con Edison and went on to say: “We are here today to call on our state agencies, like the Public Service Commission, to stop fueling our economy with these antiquated fossil fuel based systems that continue to cost constituents millions in ratepayer dollars. We are calling for more aggressive action that will ensure a safe and healthy future for not only the people of Westchester but throughout the State of New York.”

The Commission also approved an energy efficiency plan which has been delayed for months. Over a year ago, the Commission ordered an acceleration of energy efficiency, but then faltered on issuing an implementation order after utilities pushed back on targets and budgets and failed to adequately respond to recommendations from environmental justice, climate justice, and energy democracy advocates. As months dragged on without sufficient funding for energy efficiency or renewable heating options, utility companies in New York City imposed moratoria due to increases in demand for fracked gas. Activists from Renewable Heat Now have attended the last five Public Service Commission meetings to protest the lack of movement on energy efficiency and to call on the Commission to urgently fund heat pumps as alternatives to gas heating. Over 1,000 people submitted comments in favor of strong heat pump targets and incentives and over 90 organizations signed onto a letter making specific recommendations about how to transition from gas to efficiency and heat pumps.

The energy efficiency order was a mixed bag. On the plus side, the order approved nearly $400 million more for utility efficiency programs than it had originally allocated in December of 2018. On the flip side, the Commission reduced its previous heat pump target of 5 TBtu by 2025 to 3.6 TBtu. The Commission’s Order will amount to approximately 12,000 households per year converting from fossil fuels to heat pumps. Experts have estimated that the state needs to convert over 200,000 buildings per year to heat pumps to meet its climate goals. Popular suggestions such as a “Cash for Clunkers” replacement program for inefficient furnaces and boilers were rejected.

“Overall, we are glad the Energy Efficiency Order is finally published so that implementation can get underway,” said Irene Weiser of Fossil Free Tompkins. “This order sends a message that heat pumps and not fossil fuels are the future for building heating and cooling. I am encouraged that the state intends more oversight to ensure the utilities achieve the heat pump and efficiency targets that have been set, but I am disappointed that the Commission did not do more to push the utilities out of their comfort zone by setting more ambitious targets.”

“We needed game changing policy in this Energy Efficiency Order and a commitment for utility scale conversions to heat pumps,” said Kim Fraczek, director of Sane Energy Project. “Instead the Commission backslid on its already underwhelming goals. This is not climate leadership. This is business as usual for utilities, who make generous profits from fracked gas infrastructure investments.”

“Our climate future depends on the actions we take today. This Energy Efficiency Order is an important step for renewable heating, funding a pathway to switch from dirty fossil fuel heat to comfortable homes that are inexpensive to heat and cool,” said Lindsay Speer with Alliance for a Green Economy. “In Central New York, families are cutting their heating costs by up to 75% with heat pumps. But New Yorkers need more assistance to be able to switch to these clean heating and cooling technologies. Governor Cuomo and the Public Service Commission need to go all in on funding for renewable heat and they need to stop funding gas infrastructure expansion.”

“According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the most critical time to take action is in the next 10-year period,” said Charlie Olver of the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG). “New York is at a critical juncture and we must stop fossil fuel infrastructure expansion now. The solution is simple: New York must ramp up energy efficiency, renewable heat, and begin requiring electrification of new buildings. Today’s energy efficiency order is not aggressive enough to meet these goals. As a young adult, I’m counting on New York’s leadership.”—”PSC Energy Efficiency and Con Edison Rate Orders,” Andra Leimanis, Alliance for A Green Economy, 1/16/20

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We Mapped the Toxic Wastewater Discharges

The roughly 6,900 toxic-containing wastewater discharges along the Ohio River are mapped out, including how much they spew annually. But public records only tell part of the story.

All Tim Guilfoile wants to do is fish. Before his retirement, he had two careers: one in business and one in water quality activism. Now, he serves as the director of marketing and communications for Northern Kentucky Fly Fishers. “We fly fish for bass, blue gill, striped bass and others. Not just trout. I fish on the Ohio River.”

Will he eat the fish he catches in the Ohio River?

“Oh God, no!” he said.

The Clean Water Act has regulated the levels of pollutants discharged into U.S. waterways since 1972, but sport anglers on the Ohio River still have to check the Ohio River Fish Consumption Advisories to see if their catch is safe to eat. Having worked as deputy director for the Sierra Club “Protecting America’s Waters” Campaign and the Sierra Club Water Sentinels, Guilfoile knows the contamination risks of fishing on the Ohio.

“But the scary part,” he said, “is that most people who fish are not aware of these advisories although there are notices with fish and wildlife agencies.”…—”We Mapped the Toxic Wastewater Discharges Along the Ohio River. Here’s What We Learned.” Bonnie Jean Feldkamp, The Allegheny Front|State Impact, 1/15/20

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FERC Sides With Fossil Fuels In Forcing Renewables To Match Prices

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) announced a directive just a few days before Christmas which will require PJM Interconnection to raise prices of wind and solar power to be in line with the cost of fossil fuels

In a move clearly intended to slide under the radar, the United States’ Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) announced a directive just a few days before Christmas which will require PJM Interconnection to raise prices of wind and solar power to be in line with the cost of fossil fuels — a move slammed by the Union of Concerned Scientists which believes it will increase the cost of electricity to consumers between $2 billion and $8 billion per year.

The new FERC directive is in response to a proposal submitted by PJM Interconnection — the regional transmission organization (RTO) which covers parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest — which sought “to address the impact of state subsidies on the wholesale capacity market.” Filed in April of 2018, PJM’s proposal was essentially approved and turned into a directive by the Commission, now requiring PJM to comply within 90 days of the order.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s findings described the fossil fuel industry as the underdog across PJM Interconnection’s 14 states and districts. According to the Commission’s directive, “out-of-market payments provided, or required to be provided, by PJM states to support operation of certain generation resources threaten the competitiveness of PJM’s capacity market. That order ruled PJM’s open access transmission tariff is unjust and unreasonable because the MOPR failed to address the price-distorting impact of resources receiving out-of-market support.” [Editor’s Note: FERC failed to consider federal subsidies for fossil fuels which are also out-of-market payments and likewise influences price of service. These dwarf state and federal support for the alternative energy market.]…—”FERC Sides With Fossil Fuels In Forcing Renewables To Match Prices,” Joshua S Hill, CleanTechnica, 12/17/19

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ShutDownDC 2020 Kickoff Meeting

On April 22, 2020 when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we will find ourselves just ten years from plunging irreversibly into a catastrophic climate crisis driven by fossil fuels that threatens our collective survival. Young people all around the world are calling for everyone to mark this occasion by taking to the streets, joining strikes, and organizing other protests to demand serious action to confront the climate crisis.

Last September, when young people called for global climate strikes organizers in DC answered that call in a big way. Nearly two-dozen affinity groups from a wide range of social movements came together to blockade more than 17 intersections around the District, shutting down business as usual. This spring we plan to answer that call again!

Want to get involved in this historic mobilization? Join us for the #ShutDownDC 2020 kickoff meeting on Thursday, January 23 at 7pm at 725 23rd St NW, Washington, DC 20052, Room 208.

#ShutDownDC is committed to creating an inclusive and accessible space. If there is anything that you need to be able to fully participate in this meeting (for example, ASL interpretation, translation or childcare) please email info@ShutDownDC.org

If you plan on joining us please RSVP so we can make sure we have enough space!

See you Thursday!

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US hit record $55.5B renewables investments in 2019

A slow start to 2019 ended with a flurry of offshore and onshore wind investments led by the U.S., China and Europe.

  • The U.S. hit a record $55.5 billion in renewable energy investments in 2019, as overall global investments beat out 2018, thanks to a flurry of wind investments at the end of the year, according to a recent report.

  • Worldwide investment hit $282.2 billion in 2019, up $2 billion since 2018, according to a BloombergNEF report released Thursday on 2019 clean energy investment trends. New wind and solar is estimated to have hit 180 GW, up 20 GW from 2018.

  • Onshore and offshore wind investments led in 2019, increasing 6% since 2018 to reach $138.2 billion, with solar close behind at $131.1 billion.

Further reading: A Trump administration ruling could quash Maryland’s renewable energy efforts, regulators say in appeal

A last-minute push from U.S. investors on wind in response to the Production Tax Credit winding down, as well as bullish investments from Europe and China on offshore wind, led to a surge in investments at the end of 2019, momentum that’s anticipated to carry through 2020, according to BloombergNEF.…—”US hit record $55.5B renewables investments in 2019,” Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive, 1/17/20

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PSR Sues to Protect Public Lands from Fracking

PSR and an environmental organization filed suit in federal court this month to overturn leases that permit fracking for oil and gas on nearly two million acres of public lands in five western states.

PSR joined with WildEarth Guardians to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The case argues that the BLM leases fail to take into account the effects of climate change that would result from fracking operations.…—”PSR Sues to Protect Public Lands from Fracking,” Physicians for Social Responsibility, 1/5/20

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Duke Energy agrees to remove coal ash in North Carolin

The Department of Environmental Quality said in a press release that it will be the largest coal ash cleanup in the nation’s history.

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The state of North Carolina says it has secured an agreement with Duke Energy to excavate nearly 80 million tons (72.5 million metric tons) of coal ash at six facilities.

The Department of Environmental Quality said in a Thursday press release that it will be the largest coal ash cleanup in the nation’s history. It also settles various legal disputes between Duke and parties that include environmental and community groups.

For decades, coal ash has been stored in landfills or in ponds, often near waterways into which toxins can leach.

Duke Energy will remove coal ash from the Allen, Belews Creek, Cliffside, Marshall, Mayo and Roxboro sites into on-site lined landfills.

“This agreement is a historic cleanup of coal ash pollution in North Carolina, and the Department of Environmental Quality and community groups throughout the state have provided essential leadership in obtaining it,” said Southern Environmental Law Center senior attorney Frank Holleman in a written statement.

Further resources Trump EPA Rolls Back Coal-Fired Power Plant Waste Rule
Groups Announce Historic Coal Ash Cleanup Agreement with Power Plant Polluting Susquehanna River
Coal Ash Waste | Beyond Coal
Public Comment tool: Stop Water Pollution from Coal Plants

Stephen De May, North Carolina president of Duke Energy, said in a statement that the agreement “significantly reduces the cost to close our coal ash basins in the Carolinas for our customers, while delivering the same environmental benefits as full excavation.”

The issue of coal ash storage drew national attention following a spill in Tennessee in 2008. Cleanup became a priority in North Carolina after a 2014 leak from a Duke Energy site left coal ash coating 70 miles (110 kilometers) of the Dan River on the state’s border with Virginia.…—”Duke Energy agrees to remove coal ash in North Carolina,” Associated Press, PBS NewsHour, 1/2/20

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Natural gas leaves many feeling grim

Puget Sound Energy’s liquefied natural gas facility in Tacoma has many critics, including islanders.

Last week, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency cleared the way for the Tacoma liquefied natural gas plant to proceed with its remaining construction.

The facility has been the subject of a bitter, ongoing dispute between the Puyallup Tribe, climate activists, the city and state agencies. Racing towards completion in 2021, many contend that the groundwork to build the facility should never have begun in the first place.

Now that Puget Sound Energy has been issued the final permit needed to complete its LNG facility, it will allow the energy company to bring natural gas via underground pipelines to Tacoma where it will be frozen at -260 degrees Fahrenheit and then stored. The facility can produce no more than 250,000 gallons of LNG per day; up to eight million gallons of LNG can be held in the massive tank.

At a cost of $310 million, PSE says the plant will service natural gas customers at peak times during the coldest days of the year and provide a fuel alternative for cargo ships owned by Totem Ocean Trailer Express (TOTE), the first and largest customer in line for Tacoma LNG.…—”Natural gas leaves many feeling grim,” Paul Rowley, Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber, 12/18/20

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Field Lessons in Climate Crisis

Why Australia’s fires are linked to floods in Africa

Australia’s recent fire season has been hellish, and there’s no end in sight. At least 17.9 million acres have burned, 28 people have died, and an estimated 1 billion animals have been lost.

But while Australia burns, East Africa has been grappling with record-breaking rainfall leading to catastrophic floods. Both have a common cause — and it lies in the Indian Ocean.

Watch the video above the learn how a large oceanic temperature gradient, the Indian Ocean Dipole, affects weather in East Africa and Australia. And how climate change could make this season’s disastrous weather the new norm.…—”Why Australia’s fires are linked to floods in Africa,” Danush Parvaneh, Madeline Marshall, Kimberly Mas, Vox, 1/17/20

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Dead Birds Washing Up by the Thousands
Send a Warning About Climate Change

A new study unravels the mystery of what caused so many of these normally resilient seabirds to starve amid an ocean heat wave fueled in part by global warming.

David Irons was driving past a beach in Whittier, Alaska, on New Year’s Day four years ago when something caught his eye. It was an endless line of white lumps near the water’s edge—piles of something that shouldn’t be there.

They were dead sea birds, and the bodies were everywhere. “I just couldn’t believe it,” said Irons, a recently retired biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “We started counting them, and we just counted a section and we got to 1,500.”

In all, he and his wife, son and a friend found 8,000 dead birds on a beach about a mile long. A dead zone of common murres—a species known for its resilience.…—”Dead Birds Washing Up by the Thousands Send a Warning About Climate Change,” Sabrina Shankman, InsideClimate News, 1/16/20

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‘She was absolutely adored’
Iranian scientist spent her life
fighting for Indigenous voices in conservation

Ghanimat Azhdari was born into a nomadic tribe in Iran and was a PhD student at Canada’s University of Guelph, where she was working with Indigenous communities in the boreal forest to map cultural sites. This week, she died along with 175 others aboard Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, leaving friends and colleagues reeling over her loss

A petite Iranian woman stands before a roomful of hundreds of experts in an Egyptian auditorium, wearing a flowing purple dress her mother sewed for her. International delegates at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity summit listen quietly.

Ghanimat Azhdari takes a deep breath, quelling her nerves, and then she begins.

She shows picture after picture of her homeland, of men and women riding mules and horses and camels across sloping Iranian plains while dogs trot alongside them.

“If you care about nature and biodiversity, we are your biggest allies,” she tells the room. “No one knows our territories better than we do, and no one has a bigger stake in protecting and securing our territories and the life within them than we do.”

“The conservation world is finally coming to terms with this.”…—”‘She was absolutely adored’: Iranian scientist spent her life fighting for Indigenous voices in conservation,” Jimmy Thomson, The Narwhal, 1/10/20

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The forest is sick and losing its carbon-sequestration capacity

A researcher at the INPE Center of Land System Science, Antonio Donato Nobre, describes the state of degradation threatening the future of the Amazon rainforest in an exclusive interview with Mongabay.

  • A researcher at the INPE Center of Land System Science, Antonio Donato Nobre, describes the state of degradation threatening the future of the Amazon rainforest in an exclusive interview with Mongabay.
  • Nobre fears the forest is nearing what he describes as a “tipping point,” after which it will no longer be able to regenerate on its own, thus embarking on the path to desertification. “This is not about protecting the forest simply to please environmentalists. The living forest is essential for the survival of human civilization,” he says.
  • {BUTTON:RIGHT}In order to reverse the current state of destruction, Nobre proposes the development of a forest economy – capable, in his opinion, of generating nearly 20 times as much revenue as extensive cattle ranching. As an example, he cites the project Amazônia 4.0, which defends the use of technology for the sustainable exploration of biodiversity.…—Antonio Donato Nobre: “The forest is sick and losing its carbon-sequestration capacity,” Sibélia Zanon, Mongabay, 12/23/19

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‘Our Planet Is Seriously Burning
and the Adults Keep Letting Us Down’:
Ninth Circuit Throws Out Youth Climate Case

“Seeking to quash this suit, the government bluntly insists that it has the absolute and unreviewable power to destroy the Nation,” wrote Judge Josephine Staton in a scathing dissent opinion. “My colleagues throw up their hands, concluding that this case presents nothing fit for the Judiciary.”

In a ruling taken as a devastating blow for climate campaigners worldwide, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the United States on Friday afternoon threw out a lawsuit brought by 21 youth plaintiffs who accused the U.S. government of failing its constitutional mandate by refusing to act urgently and responsibly to address the existential threat of human-caused global warming.

The case at issue, Juliana vs. United States, has been seen as a potential landmark case not just domestically but across the globe and while the three-member panel of the Ninth Circuit—notably seen as one of the country’s most liberal-minded circuit courts—agreed with the plaintiff’s argument that the U.S. government has operated as a barrier to climate action, but it concluded the courts were not the appropriate avenue for their complaint.…—”‘Our Planet Is Seriously Burning and the Adults Keep Letting Us Down’: Ninth Circuit Throws Out Youth Climate Case,” Jon Queally, Common Dreams News, 1/18/20

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Scientists Say Ocean Circulation Is Slowing.
Here’s Why You Should Care.

Hotter summers in Europe, changing rainfall in the tropics, hurricane risks along the U.S. coast: If Atlantic currents keep weakening, we’ll feel it.

Scientists have found new evidence that the Atlantic Ocean’s circulation has slowed by about 15 percent since the middle of the last century. If it continues to slow, that could have profound consequences for Earth’s inhabitants.

Further reading: Shutdown of thermohaline circulation | Wikipedia

Studies suggest it would mean much colder winters and hotter summers in Europe, changing rainfall patterns in the tropics, and warmer water building up along the U.S. coast that can fuel sea level rise and destructive storms. The changes in the North Atlantic could also intensify streams of icebergs into shipping lanes and coastal ice jams that hinder navigation.…—”Scientists Say Ocean Circulation Is Slowing. Here’s Why You Should Care.” Bob Berwyn, InsideClimate News, 7/5/18

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Trump Removes Pollution Controls on Streams and Wetlands

The Trump administration has finished a new rule that rolls back environmental controls on many wetlands and intermittent streams, delivering a win to rural landowners.

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Thursday will finalize a rule to strip away environmental protections for streams, wetlands and other water bodies, handing a victory to farmers, fossil fuel producers and real estate developers who said Obama-era rules had shackled them with onerous and unnecessary burdens.

From Day 1 of his administration, President Trump vowed to repeal President Barack Obama’s “Waters of the United States” regulation, which had frustrated rural landowners. His new rule, which will be implemented in the coming weeks, is the latest step in the Trump administration’s push to repeal or weaken nearly 100 environmental rules and laws, loosening or eliminating rules on climate change, clean air, chemical pollution, coal mining, oil drilling and endangered species protections.…—”Trump Eases Pollution Controls on Streams and Wetlands,” Coral Davenport, The New York Times, 1/22/20

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Rethink Activism in the Face of Catastrophic Biological Collapse

In a world where a future is no longer guaranteed, where do we find the motivation to act? Here’s a framework.

This is a hard piece to write, partly because we, too, are baffled. Environmental collapse, coupled with living in the sixth mass extinction, are new territory. We are still in the process of confronting the reality of living with the prospect of an unlivable planet. These thoughts emerge out of our sober forays into an uncertain future, searching for the right ways to live and serve in the present. The second reason for our reluctance to share this contemplation is anticipation of the grief, anger and fear it may trigger. We visit these chambers of the heart frequently, and know the challenges of deep feeling, particularly in a culture that denies feelings and pathologizes death.

As the unthinkable settles in our skin, the question of what to do follows closely. What is activism in the context of collapse? Professor of sustainability leadership and founder of the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS) at the University of Cumbria (UK) Jem Bendell’s definition of collapse is useful: “the uneven ending of our current means of sustenance, shelter, security … and identity.” Bendell isn’t the first to warn of collapse — NASA warned of it five years ago. Anyone who takes in the realities of our times will need to find their own relationship to the hard truths about converging environmental, financial, political and social unraveling. There are billions on the planet who are already experiencing the full direct effects of this right now. Forty percent of the human population of the planet is already affected by water scarcity. Humans have annihilated 60 percent of all animal life on the planet since 1970.…—”Rethink Activism in the Face of Catastrophic Biological Collapse,” Dahr Jamail, Barbara Cecil, Truthout, 3/4/19

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Wombats are the heroes of the Australian fires,
sheltering animals in their burrows

Mi casa es su casa.

Amid all the devastation caused by Australia’s bushfires, an unlikely hero has emerged: the wombat. Quite generously, wombats have reportedly been allowing other animals to take refuge in their homes, as they hide from the blazes that threaten their own habitats. Complex underground tunnels, created by wombats, have served as safehouses for other species like wallabies and echidnas, allowing them to survive an otherwise fatal situation.

Peter Hylands, a documentary filmmaker, visited the burnt landscape of the Cobargo Wildlife Sanctuary, and told Yahoo, “You’ve got animals that are completely unscathed and those must be the animals that have been under the ground, it’s the only explanation when the fire zones are so extensive.”…—”Wombats are sheltering wildlife from the Australian fires,” Eben Diskin, Matador Network, 1/15/20

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Landmark UN human rights ruling:
Climate refugees can’t be returned home

Experts say judgment is ‘tipping point’ that opens the door to climate crisis claims for protection

It is unlawful for governments to return people to countries where their lives might be threatened by the climate crisis, a landmark ruling by the United Nations human rights committee has found.

The judgment – which is the first of its kind – represents a legal “tipping point” and a moment that “opens the doorway” to future protection claims for people whose lives and wellbeing have been threatened due to global heating, experts say.

{BUTTON:RIGHT}Tens of millions of people are expected to be displaced by global heating in the next decade.…—”Climate refugees can’t be returned home, says landmark UN human rights ruling,” Kate Lyons The Guardian, 1/20/20

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Unfamiliar Ground:
Bracing for Climate Impacts in the American Midwest

Reporters from across the Midwest explore the climate risks and the strategies communities are using to adapt.

Think of a Minnesota with almost no ice fishing. A Missouri that is as hot and dry as Texas. River and lake communities where catastrophic flooding happens almost every year, rather than every few generations.

This, scientists warn, is the future of the Midwest if emissions continue at a high rate, threatening the very core of the region’s identity.

With extreme heat waves and flooding increasingly making that future feel more real, city leaders have started looking for ways to adapt.

Further reading: U.S. Justice Dept. Working Closely with Oil Industry to Oppose Cities’ Climate Lawsuits

In a joint project organized by InsideClimate News, reporters across the Midwest are exploring how communities are responding to climate change. Read their stories below, including an overview of the challenges and some solutions from Rochester, Minnesota (InsideClimate News); stories of adaptation planning after disaster in Goshen, Indiana (Indiana Environmental Reporter); climate concerns in Michigan’s cool Upper Peninsula (Bridge Magazine), including mining pollution washed up by heavy rainfall (Bridge Magazine); questions of whether to retreat from flood risk in Freeport, Illinois (Better Government Association); and whether infrastructure, including highways and power lines, can handle climate change in Missouri (St. Louis Post-Dispatch).…—”Unfamiliar Ground: Bracing for Climate Impacts in the American Midwest,” Dan Gearino, InsideClimate News, 11/11/19

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For more wonder, rewild the world

…One of the most exciting scientific findings of the past half century has been the discovery of widespread trophic cascades. A trophic cascade is an ecological process which starts at the top of the food chain and tumbles all the way down to the bottom, and the classic example is what happened in the Yellowstone National Park in the United States when wolves were reintroduced in 1995. Now, we all know that wolves kill various species of animals, but perhaps we’re slightly less aware that they give life to many others. It sounds strange, but just follow me for a while. Before the wolves turned up, they’d been absent for 70 years.…—”For more wonder, rewild the world,” George Monbiot, TED Talk, July, 2013

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Democratic Donor Gets Natural Gas “Bomb Train” Permit
from Trump Admin

Energy Transport Solutions is the first ever company to land a federal interstate LNG-by-rail permit. Environmental critics, congressmen and another federal agency say putting LNG on the tracks may lead to a catastrophic explosion.

Earlier this month, the Trump Administration issued Energy Transport Solutions a special permit to ship up to 100 shipments per day of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by rail from Pennsylvania to New Jersey, the first interstate permit of its type. 

The permit comes despite concerns by environmental groups, the head of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and the National Transportation Safety Board about putting LNG on the tracks. They all say it could lead to a danger for communities living near rail lines if a train carrying the substance derails or gets into an accident.…—”Democratic Donor Gets Natural Gas ‘Bomb Train’ Permit from Trump Admin,” Steve Horn, The Real News, 12/18/19

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Greta Thunberg’s Message at Davos Forum:
“Our House Is Still on Fire”

DAVOS, Switzerland — Greta Thunberg on Tuesday punched a hole in the promises emerging from a forum of the global political and business elite and offered instead an ultimatum: Stop investing in fossil fuels immediately, or explain to your children why you did not protect them from the “climate chaos” you created.

“I wonder, what will you tell your children was the reason to fail and leave them facing the climate chaos you knowingly brought upon them?” Ms. Thunberg, 17, said at the annual gathering of the world’s rich and powerful in Davos, a village on the icy reaches of the Swiss Alps.

Her remarks opened a panel discussion hosted by The New York Times and the World Economic Forum. The full transcript is available here.…”Greta Thunberg’s Message at Davos Forum: ‘Our House Is Still on Fire’,” Somini Sengupta, The New York Times, 1/21/20

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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.

{BUTTON:RIGHT}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.…—”Why Are Hurricanes Like Dorian Stalling, and Is Global Warming Involved?,” Bob Berwyn, InsideClimate News, 9/3/19

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Spawning Grounds

Spawning Grounds is an educational documentary film that chronicles a critical season in the life of the Lake Sammamish kokanee, a unique but little-known species of landlocked salmon with immense cultural and ecological importance. The film follows key characters – a young educator with the Snoqualmie Tribe, a newcomer fish biologist, and a private landowner/activist – as they work together to save this fascinating species and its habitat amid unprecedented development pressure.

We follow three main threads in bringing this large-scale story to life – the efforts being undertaken by local tribes to communicate the cultural and historical importance of the kokanee; the scientific work being done to better understand this unique fish species and to bring them back in ever greater numbers; and the development, planning and construction of a major restoration project along the historically critical spawning area of Zackuse Creek on the eastern edge of the lake. These stories culminate in winter 2019 as the kokanee return to their native streams along the lake to spawn.…—”Spawning Grounds,” Nils Cowan and Marc Pingry, Hemlock Productions, 2019

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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.