February 4, 2020
This week we return to look at the systemic causes of climate change, and the twenty leading corporations responsible for so much of the discord on the science, and about 35% of our civilization’s pollution. These polluters work hard to describe the social stress they promote as merely individual views and preferences, cloaking their tremendous effort to sow discord and promote ‘you deserve a break today’ consumerism.
But first the news.

But first a Note About the Banner

You may have noticed that this newsletter is far less reliably in your inbox on Tuesday mornings. Some if this is due to efforts to develop an improved reader experience (development of the Table of Contents, and other efforts to make publication itself more efficient). And a large part is due to the wear and tear on the editor over 6 years of weekly effort. We will continue to have a goal of weekly publication, but please, dear reader, do not consider inconstancy as a signal of coming absence. We are dedicated to this work with whatever energy we have. Thank you for hanging in there with us! And now for the news…)

Table of Contents

Activist News

The Pollution Extremists

Indigenous Leaders

Youth Leadership

Resilience & Deep Adaptation

In Case You Missed It

Government & Economics

Worldwide Climate News & Events


Climate activists slam Cuomo as they storm budget hearing

Protesters briefly flooded a hearing on environmental funding Monday as state Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner Basil Seggos praised Gov. Cuomo’s climate record.

ALBANY — The Legislature’s first joint budget hearing of the year got off to a stormy start.

Protesters briefly flooded a hearing on environmental funding Monday as state Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner Basil Seggos attempted to praise Gov. Cuomo’s climate record.

A few dozen advocates descended upon the meeting to let Seggos know they don’t share the agency head’s assessment of his boss.

“We call bull—t on the governor’s budget,” they chanted after storming the dais and surrounding Seggos where he sat seemingly unfaze

The groups, part of the Movement for a Green New Deal coalition, called on Cuomo and state legislators to boost taxes on the state’s wealthiest residents to fund Green New Deal proposals. They also want the state to stop building all fossil fuel infrastructure, convert to 100% renewable energy as soon as possible and to put utility companies under public control.

Following the short disruption, Seggos said he sympathizes with the activists.

“I don’t begrudge the protesters and what they brought to the room today,” he said. “I might quibble with some of their facts and their language but they are voicing what we’ve all seen now internationally, fear, a sense that governments have let them down. They need an outlet for their voices I actually intend to stand with them in some ways.

“I think we need to completely rethink the way we are approaching the environment, approaching the world, approaching our societies,” he added.…

Advocates argue that much of the money outlined in budget is already committed funds. They say more needs to be done to truly address the impending climate disaster.

“Cuomo’s austerity budget will place the burden of the transition on the working class through regressive utility charges,” said Gustavo Gordillo, organizer at NYC Democratic Socialists of America. “We need to tax the rich and create publicly owned utilities to build renewable energy, green homes, and good union jobs for all.”…—”Climate activists slam Cuomo budget,” Denis Slattery, New York Daily News, 1/27/20

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Earth Day to May Day: Shut Down Business as Usual

April 22-24 — Youth Leading on Climate

Between April 22 and 24 young people are organizing a robust series of events ranging from school strikes to civil disobedience on Capitol Hill.

Our friends fighting to cut off the money pipeline to the fossil fuel industry will also be taking mass action confronting banks and other financial institutions during that window. We will support and lift up these activities and while leaving space for youth to lead in this important moment.

April 27-May 1 — #ShutDownDC

Throughout the week of April 27th we’ll shut down business as usual with disruptive actions each day, culminating in a mass mobilization that brings the nation’s capital to a halt on May 1. Each day of the week will focus on a theme to highlight the ways that the climate crisis threatens our communities and lifts up our opportunities to buildresilient alternatives. Are you with us? Click here to let us know how you want to be involved! Over the next three months we have a lot of work to do! Over the next few weeks we will be continuing to work with local organizations to identify themes for each day during the week of action and building out the structures we need to support this historic mobilization. Check out more about our community agreements and organizing process to find out how we can work together to make this happen!

We’ll be having organizing meetings every Thursday starting at 6pm at 725 23rd St NW, Washington, DC (Room 208). Click here to RSVP. Can’t make Thursday meetings (or just not the meeting type)? There are plenty of other ways to plug in. Click here to let us know how you want to volunteer or to sign up for a working group!—”Earth Day to May Day: Shut Down Business as Usual,” ShutDownDC, 1/31/20

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Energy Subcommittee Announces Oversight Hearing
on the Natural Gas Act

Chairman Pallone and Energy Subcommittee Chairman Bobby L. Rush announce an oversight hearing on the Natural Gas Act.

Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Energy Subcommittee Chairman Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) announced today that the Energy Subcommittee will hold a hearing on Wednesday, February 5, at 10 am in room 2322 of the Rayburn House Office Building on the Natural Gas Act. The hearing is entitled, “Modernizing the Natural Gas Act to Ensure it Works for Everyone.”

“The Natural Gas Act is nearly a century old, and it is past time that we take a comprehensive look at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s implementation of it,” said Pallone and Rush. “We must reevaluate the pipeline siting process, which has long favored industry over the rights of landowners. We must also examine rates, charges, imports, exports and what must be done to dramatically reduce impacts to our climate. It’s time to assess whether the Natural Gas Act is truly serving the needs and interests of all Americans, not just those of the gas industry.”

Information for this hearing, including the Committee Memorandum, witness list, testimony and a live webcast will be posted HERE as they become available.—”Energy Subcommittee Announces Oversight Hearing on the Natural Gas Act,” Democrats, House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, 1/29/20

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America’s Radioactive Secret

Oil-and-gas wells produce nearly a trillion gallons of toxic waste a year. An investigation shows how it could be making workers sick and contaminating communities across America

In 2014, a muscular, middle-aged Ohio man named Peter took a job trucking waste for the oil-and-gas industry. The hours were long — he was out the door by 3 a.m. every morning and not home until well after dark — but the steady $16-an-hour pay was appealing, says Peter, who asked to use a pseudonym. “This is a poverty area,” he says of his home in the state’s rural southeast corner. “Throw a little money at us and by God we’ll jump and take it.”

In a squat rig fitted with a 5,000-gallon tank, Peter crisscrosses the expanse of farms and woods near the Ohio/West Virginia/Pennsylvania border, the heart of a region that produces close to one-third of America’s natural gas. He hauls a salty substance called “brine,” a naturally occurring waste product that gushes out of America’s oil-and-gas wells to the tune of nearly 1 trillion gallons a year, enough to flood Manhattan, almost shin-high, every single day. At most wells, far more brine is produced than oil or gas, as much as 10 times more. It collects in tanks, and like an oil-and-gas garbage man, Peter picks it up and hauls it off to treatment plants or injection wells, where it’s disposed of by being shot back into the earth.

Further reading Green Celebrities Heap Praise on Cuomo While State Turns Blind Eye to Health Risks of ‘Radioactive’ Drilling Imports
Gas Industry’s Solution to Toxic Wastewater: Spray It on Roads
Radium has been widely spread on Pennsylvania roadways without regulation
1982 American Petroleum Institute Report Warned Oil Workers Faced ‘Significant’ Risks from Radioactivity

One day in 2017, Peter pulled up to an injection well in Cambridge, Ohio. A worker walked around his truck with a hand-held radiation detector, he says, and told him he was carrying one of the “hottest loads” he’d ever seen. It was the first time Peter had heard any mention of the brine being radioactive.…—”Beyond Fracking: Oil-and-Gas Industry’s Toxic Waste Is Radioactive,” Justin Nobel, Rolling Stone, 1/21/20

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NY Shale Gas Exposures, Public Health & Policy

Click for clear view

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Edge LNG expands in Marcellus basin

Edge Gathering Virtual Pipelines 2 LLC has been selected by a large producer to capture and liquefy gas from its stranded wells in Tioga County in the Marcellus basin, Pennsylvania, US.

For the producer, this is an opportunity to reap economic benefits on assets unreachable by pipeline. Initial operation is underway and is set to be ongoing until at least 2022.

Initial operation is underway and is set to be ongoing until at least 2022 and Edge LNG claims the “deal will transform previously stranded gas into profitable LNG”.

The deal sees Edge LNG deploy its fully mobile, truck-delivered liquefied natural gas equipment clusters to the Marcellus site and each cluster includes two Cryobox liquefaction units. This unique process, created by Galileo Global Technologies and deployed exclusively by Edge LNG in North America, can be delivered to any site accessible by road.…

Further reading: Small scale LNG “Virtual Pipeline” up and running Tioga County PA to Norwich CT!?|Bill Huston Podcast

Edge will purchase the LNG it extracts from the producer to deliver via its truck-based virtual pipeline to existing customers in the region. The company has also signed a deal to supply LNG to Norwich, Connecticut which will be used to provide natural gas to homes and businesses.…—”Edge LNG expands in Marcellus basin,” Nick Parkinson, GasWorld, 1/29/20

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On climate, Cuomo talks a good game.
Now it’s time for action.

In his unremitting and unconscionable attack on science, President Donald Trump claims that human-caused global warming — overwhelmingly accepted by scientists — is a Chinese hoax. He posits that wind turbines cause cancer. Trump has defunded climate research, expanded fossil fuel extraction on public lands and weakened methane regulations. His administration recently announced sweeping plans to eliminate requirements for the analysis of climate change from projects subject to federal review.

In New York, a decidedly blue state, we like to think of ourselves as different — an enlightened bunch of Democrats with a governor who actually “gets” climate change. What of that narrative?

Sure, Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. Flanked by prominent environmental leaders, he touted it as the greatest piece of climate legislation in the nation. It did set bold goals: 70 percent renewable electricity by 2030, 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040, and an 85 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions statewide — relative to 1990 levels — by 2050.

But if New York is aggressively deploying renewables around the state, where are they? Producing only 4 percent of our electricity, wind generation has essentially flatlined since 2015, when New York’s prior goal of 50 percent renewables was first announced in the State Energy Plan. Solar remains a paltry 1 percent of our total electricity production portfolio. Replacing bold goals with bolder ones doesn’t mean much unless it actually happens.…—”Commentary: On climate, Cuomo talks a good game. Now it’s time for action.” Michael H. Sussman, Times-Union, 1/23/20

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Facing Widespread Opposition,
Jordan Cove LNG Withdraws Application to Oregon Department of State Lands

SALEM, OR– Amidst enormous public opposition and just one week before the Department of State Lands (DSL) was set to make a decision on a critical Removal-Fill permit on the Jordan Cove LNG export terminal and Pacific Connector fracked gas pipeline, Pembina has withdrawn their application to the agency.

On Tuesday, DSL issued a rejection of a request for Pembina to extend the agencies timeline, noting the Canadian fossil fuel corporation had still not provided adequate information after multiple extensions.…—”Facing Widespread Opposition, Jordan Cove LNG Withdraws Application to Oregon Department of State Lands,” Allie Rosenbluth, Rogue Climate, 1/23/20

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The Pollution Extremists

Revealed: the 20 firms
behind a third of all carbon emissions

New data shows how fossil fuel companies have driven climate crisis despite industry knowing dangers

The Guardian today reveals the 20 fossil fuel companies whose relentless exploitation of the world’s oil, gas and coal reserves can be directly linked to more than one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the modern era.

New data from world-renowned researchers reveals how this cohort of state-owned and multinational firms are driving the climate emergency that threatens the future of humanity, and details how they have continued to expand their operations despite being aware of the industry’s devastating impact on the planet.

Further reading: Just 100 companies responsible for 71% of global emissions, study says

The analysis, by Richard Heede at the Climate Accountability Institute in the US, the world’s leading authority on big oil’s role in the escalating climate emergency, evaluates what the global corporations have extracted from the ground, and the subsequent emissions these fossil fuels are responsible for since 1965 – the point at which experts say the environmental impact of fossil fuels was known by both industry leaders and politicians.…—”Revealed: the 20 firms behind a third of all carbon emissions | Environment,” Matthew Taylor, Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 10/9/19

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Corporate Control and Climate Meltdown

Dr. Luiz Marques, Professor of Environmental History at the State University of Campinas in São Paolo, Brazil shares an in-depth exploration and explanation of how our current ‘neoclassical’ economic system is responsible for the climate crisis and ecological deterioration, leading to a probable collapse of local ecosystems, and the general inability to grow food for human consumption.

Dr. Marques, who is a proponent of Ecological Economics (http://isecoeco.org) discusses capitalism as the precursor and root cause of the current environmental collapse tightening its grip on the Earth’s biosphere. He argues that an economy based on continual exponential economic growth, which is entirely the program of our current ‘neoclassical economics’ taught universally in business schools around the world, where nature and the environment are considered mere externalities, is unsustainable. A philosophy professor specializing in logic, Dr. Marques provides the logical connections between current economic systems and ecological devastation. —”Corporate Control and the Climate Meltdown,” Dr. Luiz Marques, Stuart Scott, UPFSI|YouTube, 1/23/20

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Goldman Prize winner
launches new environmental foundation in the Cook Islands

  • A Goldman Prize winner from the Cook Islands who was fired for speaking out against mining the floor of the Pacific Ocean has launched a new foundation to support environmental stewardship and social action.
  • Jacqueline Evans won the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2019 for her central role in establishing Marae Moana in her country: it is the largest multiple-use marine park in the world.
  • “This will give our local organizations the independence they need to speak openly when they believe an injustice has been done,” Evans said in a statement.
  • Evans used about $66,000 of the funds awarded to her by the Goldman Prize to launch the new foundation.

Despite the global recognition of Evans’s environmental leadership, she lost her job as director of Marae Moana later in 2019 for speaking out in support of a 10-year moratorium on seabed mining across the Pacific Ocean.

Evans hopes that the fund will enable grantees to focus on local priorities, which is sometimes more difficult when funding comes from entities located overseas, an issue that environmental leaders in Papua New Guinea, another Pacific nation, have also discussed with Mongabay.…—”Goldman Prize winner launches new environmental foundation in the Cook Islands,” Erik Hoffner, Mongabay, 1/13/20

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Environmental groups contrast carbon impact of Line 3
with MN climate goals

13 groups’ new analysis finds that emissions from the proposed Line 3 expansion would vastly outweigh Minnesota’s planned emission reductions.

A coalition of 13 environmental groups released a report today showing greenhouse gas emissions from Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 expansion would vastly outweigh planned reductions in Minnesota’s emissions, as the state decides whether to let the Canadian crude oil pipeline cross its cleanest waters.

The “Giant Step Backward” report shows that, by increasing the global availability of heavy tar sands oil, the high-capacity pipeline would set back plans to address climate change, wiping out state gains in the transition away from burning fossil fuels for energy.

“When your house is on fire, you should stop throwing gasoline on it,” said MN350 communications director Brett Benson. “It makes no sense to expand fossil fuel infrastructure in the middle of a climate crisis.”

The report arrives days before Friday’s public hearing on Line 3 before the Public Utilities Commission in St. Paul. Coalition members stressed they assembled “A Giant Step Backward” to place the pipeline squarely in the spotlight of state policy, as leaders otherwise promote renewable energy.

“We applaud climate initiatives like 100% clean energy and increased electric vehicle standards in Minnesota,” said MN350 organizer Andy Pearson. “This report makes it clear that unless we also stop the Line 3 pipeline, we’ll actually be moving backward instead of forward on addressing climate change as a state, even with lots of progress on clean cars and renewables.”…—”Environmental groups contrast carbon impact of Line 3 with MN climate goals,” Collin Rees, Oil Change International, 1/29/20

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Greta Versus the Greedy Grifters

Why a 17-year-old is a better economist than Steve Mnuchin.

I’ve never been a fan of Davos, that annual gathering of the rich and fatuous. One virtue of the pageant of preening and self-importance, however, is that it brings out the worst in some people, leading them to say things that reveal their vileness for all to see.

And so it was for Steven Mnuchin, Donald Trump’s Treasury secretary. First, Mnuchin doubled down on his claim that the 2017 tax cut will pay for itself — just days after his own department confirmed that the budget deficit in 2019 was more than $1 trillion, 75 percent higher than it was in 2016.

Then he sneered at Greta Thunberg, the young climate activist, suggesting that she go study economics before calling for an end to investment in fossil fuels.

Well, unearned arrogance is a Trump administration hallmark — witness Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, claiming that a respected national security reporter couldn’t find Ukraine on a map. So it may not surprise you to learn that Mnuchin was talking nonsense and that Thunberg almost certainly has it right.…

“I still often find people — both right-wingers and climate activists — asserting that sharply reducing emissions would require a big decline in G.D.P. Everything we know, however, says that this is wrong, that we can decarbonize while continuing to achieve robust growth.” [Editor’s note: The effects of endless robust growth is best studied in oncology, not neo-classical economics. It seems that school of economics is not a good discipline for understanding sustainable economics either, despite the drift of Krugman’s own argument.]…—”Opinion | Greta Versus the Greedy Grifters,” Paul Krugman, The New York Times, 1/27/20

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Meat industry, Tyson foods
linked to largest toxic dead zone in US history

“Americans should not have to choose between producing food and having healthy clean water.”

The meat industry, more specifically corporate giants such as Tyson foods, has been directly linked to the environmental catastrophe know as the toxic dead zone.

Corporations that are a part of the meat industry use industrial-scale agriculture to raise their animals, which is the number one source of water pollution in the country. Even though there are better solutions available to minimize the impacts on the environment, corporations continue to use resource-intensive and ecologically destructive practices. This pollution has lead to toxic “dead zones”, which are areas where there is no longer enough oxygen for fish to survive. The largest dead zone in the United States is in the Gulf of Mexico.…

According to Mighty Earth, only a very small number of large and powerful corporations control livestock feed production, making huge profits while creating massive downstream pollution. These companies are ADM, Bunge, and Cargill. [See Mystery Meat II|Mighty Earth]

These three companies are not held accountable for their run-off or excess fertilizer use, which are currently classified as “non-point source” pollution. While industrial agriculture contributes to massive soil erosion and run-off, American taxpayers are paying for it. Industrial agriculture is operating with impunity while polluting lands, rivers, and oceans.…—”Meat industry, Tyson foods linked to largest toxic dead zone in US history,” Qlexandra Jacobo, Nation of Change, 11/2/17

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Aboriginal Australians Lose Land Rights to Coal Mine

With no public announcement whatsoever, the Queensland government in Australia has done away with a native title of over 1,385 hectares of Wangan and Jagalingou country for the controversial new Adani coal mine.

The very first seven-inch single I bought when I was 12 years old was Iron Maiden’s ‘Run to the Hills,’ which begins with the line: “White man came across the sea. He brought us pain and misery. He killed our tribes killed our creed. He took our game for his own need.” While the words of this haunting song are being spoken from the perspective of a North American indigenous person, some Aboriginal Australians might be singing it today.

Further reading: This drying continent can’t afford Adani’s pipeline to 12.5 billion litres of precious water

W&J Council leader Adrian Burragubba and his group of Wangan and Jagalingou representatives are being made to swallow an exceptionally bitter pill, that their government have transferred their ancestral lands to a multi-billion dollar Indian mining giant , Adani, who will now proceed to rip up their sacred lands on an industrial scale, and make them trespassers in their own home.…—”Aboriginal Australians Lose Land Rights to Coal Mine,” Ashley Cowie, Ancient Origins, 9/2/19

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Meditations in an emergency:
climate, fiction, and apocalypse

Berger, a lecturer in English and American studies, discusses the relevance of apocalyptic literature in an age increasingly defined by a real climate crisis.

Yale’s James Berger is in a unique position to consider the question. A senior lecturer in English and American studies and author of “After the End: Representations of Post Apocalypse,” Berger focuses much of his work on apocalyptic literature and film, and examining the cultural drives that spur their creation. And, with the threat of climate change imminent and the subgenre of climate fiction (or “cli-fi”) ascending, the end of the world as we know it is a possibility he’s confronting.…—”Meditations in an emergency: James Berger on climate, fiction, and apocalypse,” Peter Cunningham, Yale News, 1/27/20

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Extremophiles

Anyone seeking to defend life on Earth is now labelled an extremist. Yet the real extremists are those in power.

It’s not an “error” or an “accident”, as the police now claim. It’s a pattern. First, the Guardian revealed that counterterrorism police in south-east England have listed Extinction Rebellion (XR) and the youth climate strikes as forms of “ideological extremism”. Then teachers and officials around the country reported that they had been told, in briefings by the anti-radicalisation Prevent programme, to look out for people expressing support for XR and Greenpeace.

Then the Guardian found a guide by Counter Terrorism Policing to the signs and symbols used by various groups. Alongside terrorists and violent extremist organisations, the guide listed Greenpeace, XR, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, CND, the Socialist Party, Stop the War and other peaceful green and left organisations. Then the newspaper discovered that City of London Police had listed XR as a “key threat” in its counterterrorism assessment.

There’s a long history in the UK of attempts to associate peaceful protest with extremism or terrorism. In 2008, for example, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) produced a list of “domestic extremists”. Among them was Dr Peter Harbour, a retired physicist and university lecturer, who had committed the cardinal sin of marching and petitioning against an attempt by the energy company RWE npower to drain a beautiful local lake and fill it with pulverised fly ash. ACPO sought to smear peace campaigners, Greenpeace and Climate Camp with the same charge.…—”Extremophiles,” George Monbiot, Monbiot Blog, 1/24/20

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Rewilding Arctic Tundra
Might Prevent Runaway Climate Change

The key to preserving Arctic ecosystems, slowing the thawing of permafrost, and preventing the release of vast quantities of greenhouse gasses could be the reintroduction of large herbivores. Despite the hopes of a few dreamers, it is too late to bring back the mammoths that shaped the region during the ice age, but a new proposal claims surviving animals could do the trick.

Perhaps the most concerning aspect of global warming is the possibility that above a certain temperature, the environment may start to release stored carbon, leading to continued hotter conditions even if we stop human emissions. Among the top three candidates for such a vicious spiral is the Arctic tundra, where enormous amounts of methane are trapped just below the surface, leading to a slow release in some locations and something much more sudden in others.

Although we think of forests as carbon stores, Dr Marc Macias-Fauria of Oxford University argues that in the Arctic, trees have the opposite effect. Being much darker than snow, they absorb sunlight and cause local warming and melting snow. Meanwhile, grasslands trap carbon in the soil much better than the currently dominant moss and induce a winter freeze so deep it survives the summer warmth.…—”Rewilding Arctic Tundra Might Prevent Runaway Climate Change,” Stephen Luntz, IFLScience, 1/29/20

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BlackRock Will Move Away From Fossil Fuels,
Citing Climate Change

If you felt the earth tremble a little bit in Manhattan on Tuesday morning, it was likely caused by the sheer heft of vast amounts of money starting to shift. “Seismic” is the only word to describe the recent decision of the asset-management firm BlackRock to acknowledge the urgency of the climate crisis and begin (emphasis on begin) to start redirecting its investments.

Had Mr. Fink moved a decade ago to pull BlackRock’s funds out of companies that contribute to climate change, his clients would have been well served. In the past 10 years, through Friday, companies in the S&P 500 energy sector had gained just 2 percent in total. In the same period, the broader S&P 500 nearly tripled.—”BlackRock C.E.O. Larry Fink: Climate Crisis Will Reshape Finance,” The New York Times

By one estimate, there’s about eighty trillion dollars of money on the planet. If that’s correct, then BlackRock’s holding of seven trillion dollars means that nearly a dime of every dollar rests in its digital files, mostly in the form of stocks it invests in for pension funds and the like. So when BlackRock’s C.E.O., Larry Fink, devoted his annual letter to investors to explaining that climate change has now put us “on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance,” it marked a watershed moment in climate history.…—”FOCUS: BlackRock Will Move Away From Fossil Fuels, Citing Climate Change,” Bill McKibben, Reader Supported News, 1/17/20

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U.S. Oil Companies Find Energy Independence
Isn’t So Profitable

Investors are shunning the industry as prices fall, demand slows and fears grow that climate change will force companies to leave fossil fuels untapped.

HOUSTON — For decades, elected leaders and corporate executives have chased a dream of independence from unstable or unfriendly foreign oil producers. Mission accomplished: Oil companies are producing record amounts of crude oil and natural gas in the United States and have become major exporters.

Yet the companies themselves are finding little to love about this seeming bonanza. With a global glut driving down prices, many are losing money and are staying afloat by selling assets and taking on debt.…

Further reading: Fossil Fuel Interests Applaud Trump Admin’s Weakening of Major Environmental Law

But the share price of Exxon Mobil, the largest American oil company, is barely above where it was a decade ago. In years past, investors might have celebrated Occidental Petroleum’s proposed acquisition of Anadarko Petroleum, which has some of the most lucrative oil fields in the country. Instead, Occidental’s shares have fallen by about 10 percent since that deal in early May.… —”U.S. Oil Companies Find Energy Independence Isn’t So Profitable,” Clifford Krauss, The New York Times, 6/30/19

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Why is YouTube Broadcasting
Climate Misinformation to Millions?

In 2015, YouTube launched a campaign7 to “help change the way people discuss climate change, so that the issue and its consequences could become more relevant and tangible to people around the world.” In addition, in Google’s February 2019 Whitepaper on fighting disinformation, YouTube’s parent company made it clear that: “We set out to prevent our systems from serving up content that could misinform users in a harmful way, particularly in domains that rely on veracity, such as science, medicine, news, or historical events. To that end, we introduced a higher bar for videos that are promoted through the YouTube homepage or that are surfaced to users through the “watch next” recommendations. Just because content is available on the site, it does not mean that it will display as prominently throughout the recommendation engine.”8

Further reading: Full report (PDF)

We found that YouTube is driving millions of people to watch climate misinformation videos every day. These climate misinformation videos aren’t just being uploaded to YouTube and organically seen by interested audiences. Instead, YouTube’s recommendation algorithm is giving these videos free promotion and showing misinformation to millions who wouldn’t have been exposed to it otherwise.…—”Avaaz – Why is YouTube Broadcasting Climate Misinformation to Millions?Avaaz, 1/16/20

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Big Oil Bets Big on Plastic

On that warm summer evening in 2018, Ariell Llunga wasn’t looking for an environmental epiphany. Thanks to a friends’ gift of two tickets to see Kings of Leon at the Rose Bowl, and her sister’s offer to babysit, the Pasadena-based sustainable food advocate and her husband had danced their way through a rare kid-free night out. As the concert ended and the crowd began to thin, Llunga and her husband lingered, then began walking across the 90,000-seat stadium’s ground-level field to get a closer look at the stage.

That’s when Llunga realized she was “just wading through a sea of plastic water bottles,” she says.…

Since that night, Llunga has begun ridding her life of single-use plastic, and encouraging friends and co-workers to do the same. Since she works on food policy issues, food was a natural place to start, Llunga says, especially once she learned about the chemicals in plastic that can leach into food. These include substances like phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA), which can affect children’s neurological and reproductive development. Her steps include “moving over to glass for storage,” says Llunga, as well as “slowly doing more bulk buying so I’m not getting everything in plastic bags.”…

Llunga says she realizes that her individual steps to cut back on plastics can’t solve the plastic pollution problem. But they’re a place to start that seem more approachable than fighting for systemic changes to environmental and health policies. “Environmental issues can feel overwhelming if you have other immediate, pressing issues—like in my line of work we are dealing with people who are literally starving,” she says

[F]ossil fuel industries have used sophisticated public relations campaigns to keep the public thinking about anything besides systemic solutions to plastic pollution.

That’s why she encourages individual actions, despite understanding that the biggest changes need to happen at the regulatory level. “I don’t want people to feel bogged down by both ends, like they’re not able to make an effort as an individual or on the policy front,” says Llunga. “You can change your behavior, take steps today, then pay a little more attention to who you’re voting for.”…”Big Oil Bets Big on Plastic,” Amy Westervelt. Drilled News, 1/14/20

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Natural-gas futures drop to their lowest levels since 2016

Natural-gas futures dropped on Friday, January 17, 2020, with ample U.S. supplies and forecasts for milder weather conditions sending prices to their lowest levels since May 2016.

“The losses come down to a lack of winter, notwithstanding the chill in the consuming regions presently,” said Marshall Steeves, energy markets analyst at IHS Markit.

In Friday dealings, the front-month February natural-gas futures contract NGG20, +0.32%  fell 7.4 cents, or 3.6%, to settle at $2.003 per million British thermal units, for lowest settlement since late May 2016, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

Further reading Oil futures suffer a second weekly decline
Oil Companies Will Pay You To Take Natural Gas From West Texas

“Withdrawals from storage have trended below average and we are now at the midpoint of the winter season in terms of heating degree days,” Steeves told MarketWatch.…—”Natural-gas futures drop to their lowest levels since 2016,” Myra P. Saefong, MarketWatch, 1/17/20

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New Study Details Overlooked
Link Between Climate Breakdown
and Violence Against Women

Women are often the “first to be targeted” when environmental shocks threaten natural resources, international conservation group says.

Climate action leaders have warned for years that marginalized frontline communities in poor countries are already facing the most destructive impacts of the climate crisis, and a new study confirms those fears, detailing how women in those regions are at greater risk for violence and abuse as the environment is degraded.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released its study (pdf) on Wednesday after conducting more than 80 case studies and speaking to more than 300 sources over the course of a two-year project.

{BUTTON}“This study adds to the urgency of halting environmental degradation alongside action to stop gender-based violence in all its forms, and demonstrates that the two issues often need to be addressed together,” said Dr. Grethel Aguilar, IUCN’s acting director-general.…—”New Study Details Overlooked Link Between Climate Breakdown and Violence Against Women,” Julia Conley, Common Dreams News, 1/29/20

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After Spain Declares Climate Emergency,
Activists Demand ‘Concrete and Immediate’ Action

“Now it’s time to see… if there will really be major changes that take us away from the catastrophic path we find ourselves on.”

Spain’s new left-wing coalition government on Tuesday declared a climate emergency and promised to send ambitious legislation to the country’s parliament within the next 100 days—moves that were welcomed by campaigners who responded with calls for “concrete and immediate” action plans.

Tuesday’s declaration came just two weeks after the Spanish parliament voted to approve a coalition government formed by Unidas Podemos and the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, following months of failed negotiations between the two parties.

The declaration also came less than a week after Barcelona declared a climate emergency and unveiled 103 measures that are collectively crafted to help Spain’s second-largest city halve its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. As Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau put it, “This is not a drill, the house is on fire.”…—”After Spain Declares Climate Emergency, Activists Demand ‘Concrete and Immediate’ Action,” Jessica Corbett,  Common Dreams News, 1/21/20

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Mexico: defender of monarch butterflies
found dead two weeks after he vanished

A Mexican environmental activist who fought to protect the wintering grounds of the monarch butterfly has been found dead in the western state of Michoacán, two weeks after he disappeared.

Homero Gómez González, a former logger who managed El Rosario butterfly reserve, vanished on 13 January. His body was found floating in a well on Wednesday, reportedly showing signs of torture.

Further reading: More than 300 human rights activists were killed in 2019

The motive for his murder remains unknown, but some activists speculated that it could have been related to disputes over illegal logging.

Last week, authorities called in 53 police officers from the surrounding municipalities for questioning.

Gómez González’s death comes as the murder rate continues to surge in a country where environmental defenders, human rights workers and community activists are routinely targeted for their work.…—”Mexico: defender of monarch butterflies found dead two weeks after he vanished,” David Agren,The Guardian, 1/30/20

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Giving Up Childhood to Avert Climate Catastrophe

“We do not want to sacrifice our education. We do not want to sacrifice our childhoods. You have left us no choice. Our future is already being sacrificed by your inaction. We will not put down our signs and go back to school until you act to stop fossil fuel emissions. Giving up is not an option.” —Kallan Benson, September 2019 speech

Kallan Benson is a 15‐year‐old, third‐generation Quaker and member of Annapolis (Md.) Meeting. She was representing the global community of Fridays for Future (FFF), the climate strike movement inspired by Greta Thunberg. The United Nations Environmental Program was recognizing FFF as “Champions of the Earth.” The September 26, 2019, award came on the heels of ceremonies ten days earlier honoring the FFF strikers globally with Amnesty International’s highest honor, the Ambassador of Conscience Award.

Kallan’s UN address began:

As climate strikers, we are a bit uncomfortable at this award ceremony. Awards are for celebrating achievement, but the achievement we seek has not occurred. The world is in climate crisis, and actions of the United Nations are failing to stop it.

When I watch Kallan’s brief address and listen to the audience’s applause when she says, “Instead, we offer to hold it for you to earn,” I feel overwhelmed with admiration for the young climate strikers. I also feel guilty that my generation’s inaction has brought us to the brink of climate catastrophe. I’ve shared her speech on social media and have forwarded it to friends, acquaintances, and elected representatives.…—”Giving Up Childhood to Avert Climate Catastrophe,” Jim Ross, Friends Journal, 12/1/19

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‘Victory for Our Oceans’: US Court Upholds Ruling
on Vast Marine Monument

Defenders of ocean habitats celebrated Friday after a federal court upheld a lower court ruling defending the right of the U.S. executive branch to set aside marine areas as national monuments.

Citing the authority found under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to establish marine national monuments, the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia sided against a lawsuit brought by large fishing industry interests that challenged President Barack Obama’s designation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, which encompases 4,913 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean off the nation’s northeast coast, as a protected area.…—”‘Victory for Our Oceans’: US Court Upholds Ruling on Vast Marine Monument Established by Obama,” Jon Queally, Common Dreams News, 12/27/19

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