June 30, 2020
We are not as lost as a species as it appears. Though economic, political and regulatory policy seems lost, we might well investigate what a cocooned caterpillar goes through in becoming a butterfly. Humanity seems to be grieving, and hoping for a world renewal. That is found in a dizzying multiplicity and cacophony of forms, as people of different circumstances, experiences and world-views cast about (or try a grab for power and influence) for how the world could come to be retrieved or saved. Meanwhile, we drown in the pollution, poisoning and our civilization’s detachment from the life around us has produced. We will explore several expressions of that, for better —and worse.
But first the news.

But First a Few Words about The Banner.

This year has seen some innovation in pursuit of a better reader experience. We are also bringing you stories from major newspapers that might need a subscription to read in full, and we encourage interested readers to take advantage of their trial offers. Journalism is in a parlous state and under physical attack as you’ll read below. We encourage our readers to do what they can to support the organizations whose work we bring a few paragraphs to this page.

And now it’s getting on to the end of June and time to appeal to readers to support The Banner. We run a tight ship and our needs are small. A bit from all our subscribers would be a windfall! Please do what you can. You can either send money with Paypal to editor@thebanner.news, or write to editor@thebanner.news if you want to send a check and need the editors postal address. And thank you all for your support these six years! And now that news…

Table of Contents

NY & Northeast Activist News

National Activist News

The Yearning for an Unpoisoned World

Indigenous Peoples News

Renewable Energy News

Science & Climate

Industry News

Regulatory & Court News

In Case You Missed It

The Lighter Side of Things


Action Alert! Comment to FERC:
FERC issues 15 day
public comment period
for Atlantic Coast Pipeline”

On June 16, 2020, Atlantic Coast Pipeline asked for an extension request of their Certificate of Need and Public Necessity because theirs expires on October 13, 2020, a two year extension of its permit to build the pipeline. Its original permit gave it until October 2020. Right now the ACP is only 6% complete.

The next day, FERC responded that they are granting a 15 day public comment period on this topic starting today that will end on July 2nd.

Though it is an outrage that FERC would give the public only 15 days to inform itself of this request and respond by July 2, 2020, nevertheless it is a great opportunity to get public comments into the docket (and instructions are at the link below). Also for any local, state, or federal elected officials who may have made statements in the last 6 years against this unneeded pipeline, it would be great for them to submit comments in this window as well.

So let’s FLASH MOB The Fercing FERC!!

File your comments here and cite the ACP docket number in your comments [CP15-554]. If you hadve any questions, please contact FERC at: E-Mail: ferconlinesupport@ferc.gov mailto:ferconlinesupport@ferc.gov (do not send filings to this address) Voice Mail: 866-208-3676.

Further reading: Atlantic Coast Pipeline problems persist despite Supreme Court decision | Southern Environmental Law Center

Docket(s):
CP15-554-000
CP15-554-001
CP15-555-000

Lead Applicant: Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC

Filing Type: Formal Notice

Description: Notice of Request for Extension of Time re Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC et al under CP15-554 et al.

To view the document for this Issuance, click here

http://elibrary.FERC.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20200617-3054

Here are some talking points from Steven Norris, Senior Organizing Representative, Dirty Fuels Campaign. As always, try to put things in your own words for maximum impact.

FERC: Don’t Give Atlantic Coast Pipeline Two More Years to Build its Unneeded and Destructive Project
▪ With a projected cost of $8 billion and a proposed route across the Appalachian Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway, two national forests, steep landslide-prone mountains, narrow mountain ridges, and environmental justice communities, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would be one of the nation’s most expensive gas pipelines—and one of its most destructive.
▪ ACP’s permitting problems are entirely self-inflicted. Atlantic either ignored or gravely underestimated the serious risks and obstacles inherent to the route it chose for the ACP. From the beginning, the public correctly understood that the ACP would be destructive and dangerous.
▪ Atlantic’s commitment to this risky and highly damaging route has delayed construction by years. A more reasonable project could have been constructed by now. Since May 2018, the ACP has lost eight required permits, and the final route of project is still unknown almost six years into the process. Court decisions resulted in a complete shutdown of construction in December 2018, and less than 6% of the project is complete.
▪ The ACP unfairly burdens African American, indigenous, and low-income communities along its route. After four years of questioning their existence, Atlantic and regulators now acknowledge that the proposed gas-fired compressor station in Union Hill, Virginia is in a historic, predominantly Black community. Atlantic likewise picked a predominantly Black part of Northampton County for its sole North Carolina compressor station.
▪ Because Atlantic’s permitting problems are self-inflicted and the resulting delays were foreseeable, there is no good cause for FERC to extend the Certificate to allow Atlantic to continue to stubbornly adhere to its unreasonable preferred route.
▪ Since 2017, the region’s energy future has undergone a seismic shift away from gas-fired power generation making FERC’s original finding that the ACP is needed obsolete. The newly enacted Virginia Clean Economy Act will rapidly propel Virginia to renewable energy. North Carolina is on a similar trajectory because of the state’s Clean Energy Plan and Duke Energy’s corporate wide carbon reduction targets.
▪ In light of these changes, FERC should deny the request to extend its Certificate Order. The ACP is not needed, and its construction will only unnecessarily harm private property, communities, and the environment along the pipeline’s proposed route.
▪ In January 2020, Virginia—the site of over half of the ACP’s proposed route—told the Supreme Court that in light of the mounting evidence that the pipeline is not needed, the ACP threatens Virginia’s natural resources without clear corresponding benefits.

File your comments here and cite the ACP docket number in your comments [CP15-554].

FLASH MOB THE FERC’s Comment Period!

Back to NYS & Regional Activist News
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

Appointments of environmental justice
& frontline leaders a victory
for the climate justice movement

“It is an enormous victory for the climate and environmental justice movement that so many environmental justice leaders, including three members of the NY Renews Steering Committee, and two additional members of the NY Renews coalition, have been appointed to the NY State Climate Justice Working Group.

Eddie Bautista, Executive Director of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance (NYC-EJA), Rahwa Ghirmatzion, Executive Director of PUSH Buffalo, Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director of UPROSE and Co-Chair of the Climate Justice Alliance, are members of the NY Renews Steering Committee. Cecil Corbin-Mark, Deputy Director of WE-ACT for Environmental Justice, and Abigail McHugh-Grifa, Executive Director of the Rochester People’s Climate Coalition, are both leaders within the NY Renews coalition. Together, they will provide necessary and critical guidance to New York on issues of climate and environmental justice as the state implements the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.


NY Renews, a coalition of over 200 environmental justice, labor, faith, community, and multi-issue organizations, held a People’s Climate Action Council in response to the NY State Climate Action Council meeting on June 24. Nearly 100 New Yorkers shared feedback on what the Climate Action Council had accomplished, and what their work should look like moving forward. They demanded an open, transparent, and democratic process, swift work to transition New York to a 100% renewable economy (without false solutions like natural gas), and investment of at least 40% of NY State energy and climate spending into Black, Brown, and low-income communities hit first and worst by the climate crisis.


The Climate Justice Working Group will guide the state in implementing New York’s climate law in a way that benefits Black, Brown, and low-income communities hit first and worst by the climate crisis. Across New York State, communities of color and low-income communities have contributed the least to pollution and the climate crisis, but bear the worst brunt of its impacts.

These appointees include some of the most experienced and well-respected environmental and racial justice leaders in New York State. They will bring their depth of experience, accountability to frontline communities, and leadership in the issues of environmental, climate, racial and economic justice to the Climate Justice Working Group, and all New Yorkers will benefit.”…—”Appointments of environmental justice & frontline leaders a victory for the climate justice movement,” Arielle Swernoff, NY Renews, 6/23/20

Back to NYS & Regional Activist News
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

Safe Voting in November

SOS, the international signal of distress, notifies others that a ship is in trouble. The letters are commonly thought to stand for Save Our Ship. We now need to send an SOS message that stands for Save Our Ship of State.

To avoid hours-long lines at the polls as occurred in Wisconsin, Georgia and Nevada, we need a safe, efficient system of voting so we don’t put our health at risk in order to vote. Many hope to prevent that by pushing for federal legislation to enable voting by mail; yet getting a bill passed by the US Senate and signed by the President simply won’t happen.

So why not just vote by absentee ballot? That works in states that allow “no excuse” absentee voting, but others limit use of absentee ballots to those who meet certain criteria such as being sick or out of town. Some states require that the voter’s signature be witnessed or notarized. In New York, to eliminate such restrictions requires an amendment to the state constitution.

Fortunately there is another option: executive orders by governors. Just as Governor Cuomo did for the primary in New York, Governor Newsom has done for the general election in California in November: allow voting by absentee ballot simply because of Covid. We each need to ask Cuomo to do that here and ask friends in other states to ask their governor to do the same. The decisions need to be made ASAP in order to give boards of election time to design, order and receive applications, ballots and envelopes, publicize the voting process, and train workers. Hopefully none will spend $100 million on electronic voting machines that don’t work (as happened in Georgia) but instead use paper ballots that can be filled out and scanned in mere minutes (as we do in New York), leaving a permanent paper trail for recounts.

Further reading SOS: Calling All Governors |Ithaca Times
Postal Service Pick With Ties to Trump Raises Concerns Ahead of 2020 Election | The New York Times

In addition we need to get the US Senate to include $25 billion for the US Postal Service in the pending federal stimulus bill, as the House has already done. Without such assistance the USPS could run out of money within months and be unable to handle regular mail services, let alone voting by mail. Even though the USPS is an independent agency authorized by the US Constitution, the Trump administration appears to want to privatize it. On June 15 Louis DeJoy became the new the Postmaster General without ever having worked for the post office. According to Alan Rappeport in “Postal Service Pick With Ties to Trump Raises Concerns Ahead of 2020 Election” (NY Times, 5-7-20), DeJoy has given $360,000 to the Trump reelection campaign and thousands more to the Republican National Committee. The appointment could be a first step toward privatization of the USPS and profits at our expense.

It’s urgent we get this message to friends across the country right away. Together we can make a difference. Our democracy depends on it.—”Safe Voting in November,” Susan Multer, MSW, MS, The Banner, 6/24/20

Back to NYS & Regional Activist News
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

EPA Requires TRI Reporting of PFAS for Year 2020

Click for full vew

This week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) crystallized a new requirement that facilities manufacturing, processing, or otherwise using any of 172 different per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) submit Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reports by July 1, 2021, for calendar year 2020. The EPA created the TRI Program in 1986 under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act to provide the public with information regarding releases of chemicals that the EPA has concluded may pose a threat to human health and the environment. Facilities that manufacture, process, or use listed chemicals above established threshold quantities must annually report to the EPA the amounts released or otherwise disposed.


The EPA has proposed a so-called regulatory determination to set a national drinking water standard for PFOA and PFOS, emerging contaminants found in Hoosick Falls and Newburgh, respectively. Melanie Benesh is legislative attorney with the Washington D.C.-headquartered Environmental Working Group. She says it could be years, however, before EPA sets final, enforceable standards, if at all.

“This is definitely regulation moving at a snail’s pace, and it’s really years overdue,” says Benesh.—”EPA inches toward PFAS drinking water regulation” | WBFO


Further reading: Forever-Chemicals Tap Water | CounterPunch,

The EPA’s move comes in the form of a final rule published in the Federal Register on June 22, 2020. What is un.,, bbbusual is that this final rule was not subject to a public comment period and so may come as a surprise to facilities not closely tracking regulatory developments involving PFAS. The lack of advance notice, however, is due to the fact that in adopting the final rule, the EPA responded directly to the mandate of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (NDAA), signed into law in December 2019. Section 7321 of the NDAA, also part of the so-called PFAS Act of 2019, required the EPA to (1) add fourteen specific PFAS to the TRI (including the high-profile compounds PFOA, PFOS, and GenX); and (2) assess whether other PFAS meet listing criteria identified in that law and consequently should be also added to the TRI.…—”EPA Requires TRI Reporting of PFAS for Year 2020,” Brooks Smith, Viktoriia De Las Casas, Houston Shaner, Troutman Sanders|Environmental|Law & Policy Monitor, 6/24/20

Back to NYS & Regional Activist News
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

Regulatory Failures By DEP,
Health Dept. In Natural Gas Drilling

PAGrandJuryHARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A grand jury investigation into Pennsylvania’s large natural gas drilling industry released Thursday by state Attorney General Josh Shapiro found systematic failures in state departments regulating that industry.

The report, which came after nearly two years of investigation into the state’s Marcellus Shale exploration industry, noted that the state’s Department of Environmental Protection and State Department of Health failed to protect Pennsylvanians by not policing or investigating environmental complaints, failed to collect health data and failed to warn the public when they were at risk.

Susan Phillips / StateImpactPA

The report included eight recommendations to better protect the public and regulate the industry in the state, including distance requirements to residences, more transparency in the chemicals used and transportation regulation for waste created by the drilling.

 

“The bottom line is this was a failure,” Shapiro said. “Regulators were supposed to prevent abuse by the big corporations … but they didn’t.”…—”Pa. AG: Grand Jury Probe Finds Regulatory Failures By DEP, Health Dept. In Natural Gas Drilling,” Associated Press|CBS Pittsburgh, 6/25/20

Back to NYS & Regional Activist News
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

PIPELINES: In landowner win, court reins in
‘Kafkaesque’ approvals

Federal energy regulators are no longer free to indefinitely stall challenges to the projects they approve, a prominent appeals court ruled today in a victory for landowners.

The full panel of active judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission could not use “tolling orders” to avoid facing a legal challenge in court for approval of projects like natural gas pipelines.

The orders allow FERC to put off responding to requests for rehearing and block challengers from bringing their concerns to court, while simultaneously allowing project construction to move forward.

The court held that FERC had to stick to a statutorily mandated 30-day time frame to come to a decision on whether to accept a rehearing request.

“In sum, we hold that, after thirty days elapsed from the filing of a rehearing application without Commission action, the Tolling Order could neither prevent a deemed denial nor alter the jurisdictional consequences of agency inaction. To the extent our prior decisions upheld the use of tolling orders in that manner, they are overruled in relevant part,” Judge Patricia Millett, an Obama appointee, wrote in the majority opinion.…—”PIPELINES: In landowner win, court reins in ‘Kafkaesque’ approvals,” Niina H. Farah, E&E News, 6/30/20

Back National to Activist News
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

United States: Over 400 Attacks On Press Freedom
In Under A Month

Police have targeted journalists on live TV during the George Floyd protests.

Courtney Radsch of the Committee to Protect Journalists talks about what’s behind this development and what it could mean for the world.

DW: There have been over 400 cases of press freedom violations in the United States since late May, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). What do these violations look like?

Courtney Radsch: We’ve been working closely with the US Press Freedom Tracker, which is doing all of the investigations and documentations. The Committee to Protect Journalists is a founding partner of the tracker and we have been investigating more than 400 incidents since the outbreak of the protests over racial injustice and police brutality on May 26.

Those incidents include arrests by police, assaults by police and protesters, the targeting of protesters with projectiles, stealing of equipment and a range of different attacks which we are documenting and making available on the US Press Freedom Tracker website.

Further reading: A Crisis That Began With an Image of Police Violence Keeps Providing More|The New York Times

PoliceShoveBuffaloManOne of those incidents involved a DW reporter named Stefan Simons. He was shot at with rubber bullets and threatened with arrest in Minneapolis several weeks ago. How typical is his experience based on your research?

Unfortunately, Stefan’s experience of getting shot at by the police with non-lethal projectiles is not uncommon. During the past few weeks, we have recorded at least 89 rubber bullet or projectile incidents, 27 pepper is 49 tear gassings.…—”United States: Over 400 Attacks On Press Freedom In Under A Month,” Popular Resistance|Deutsche Welle, 6/21/20

Back National to Activist News
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

Louisiana Activists Charged with Felonies
After Delivering Box of
Formosa Plastic Pollution to Lobbyists

Two Louisiana environmental activists, Anne Rolfes and Kate McIntosh, were taken in handcuffs and leg irons from a Baton Rouge police station to jail after they voluntarily surrendered themselves on felony charges after months’ earlier delivering plastic pollution pulled from Texas waters to fossil fuel lobbyists’ homes. The two posted bond and were released later the same day.

The women are accused of terrorizing oil and gas lobbyists by giving them a file box full of plastic pellets found in Texas bays near a plastic manufacturing facility owned by Formosa Plastics,” NOLA.com reports.

Rolfes and McIntosh are being charged with felony “terrorizing” under Louisiana Revised Statute 14:40.1, according to their attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights attorney Pam Spees. The charges carry sentences of up to 15 years imprisonment.

The charges “do not even pass the laugh test,” Spees said in a statement. “We ask the District Attorney to look carefully at these arrests and reject the charges against these two dedicated advocates as soon as possible.”

The allegations against the two Louisiana Bucket Brigade activists center around an event dubbed “Nurdlefest,” that was designed to raise awareness about plastics pollution along the Gulf Coast. Newly made plastic emerges from petrochemical plants in the form of “nurdles,” or tiny plastic pellets, which are then sold in bulk to industrial clients.…—”Louisiana Activists Charged with Felonies After Delivering Box of Formosa Plastic Pollution to Lobbyists,” Julie Dermansky, Sharon Kelly, DeSmog, 6.25/20

Back National to Activist News
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

Millions of Americans can’t afford water
as bills rise 80% in a decade

Exclusive: analysis of US cities shows emergency on affordability of running water amid Covid-19 pandemic

Millions of ordinary Americans are facing rising and unaffordable bills for running water, and risk being disconnected or losing their homes if they cannot pay, a landmark Guardian investigation has found.

Exclusive analysis of 12 US cities shows the combined price of water and sewage increased by an average of 80% between 2010 and 2018, with more than two-fifths of residents in some cities living in neighbourhoods with unaffordable bills.

We’ve never had a better chance… to make a greener world. Covid-19 has delivered unusual environmental benefits: cleaner air, lower carbon emissions, a respite for wildlife. Now the big question is whether we can capitalise on this moment. The Guardian aims to lead the debate from the front.—The Guardian | Guardian US commissioned an analysis of the cost and affordability of water and sewage services in 12 diverse American cities

In the first nationwide research of its kind, our findings reveal the painful impact of America’s expanding water poverty crisis as aging infrastructure, environmental clean-ups, changing demographics and the climate emergency fuel exponential price hikes in almost every corner of the US.

America’s growing water affordability crisis comes as the Covid-19 pandemic underlines the importance of access to clean water. The research shows that rising bills are not just hurting the poorest but also, increasingly, working Americans.

“More people are in trouble, and the poorest of the poor are in big trouble,” said Roger Colton, a leading utilities analyst, who was commissioned by the Guardian to analyse water poverty. “The data shows that we’ve got an affordability problem in an overwhelming number of cities nationwide that didn’t exist a decade ago, or even two or three years ago in some cities.”…—”Revealed: millions of Americans can’t afford water as bills rise 80% in a decade,’ Nina Lakhani, The Guardian, 6/23/20

Back National to Activist News
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

Law Enforcement
Scoured Protester Communications
and Exaggerated Threats to Minneapolis Cops,

Newly leaked documents reveal that, in the wake of George Floyd’s killing, local and federal law enforcement agencies repeatedly told police in Minnesota that they were under attack. The fears stoked by the warnings appear to have set the stage for the police’s escalating, violent response to the protests, including the widespread use of tear gas, percussion grenades, and rubber bullets, sometimes fired at close range.

The documents show that law enforcement leadership warned of potential threats from antifa and “black racially motivated violent extremists,” as well as vaguely described social media users. Federal and local agencies collected intelligence drawn from private online messaging groups and Slack channels, according to the documents. The agencies also tracked Facebook RSVPs to peaceful protest events, including a suburban candlelight vigil.

The window into the police’s internal memos came thanks to a trove of documents called Blueleaks, which were published on the website Distributed Denial of Secrets. The site’s founder told Wired that the documents came from the hacking collective Anonymous, or someone claiming to be affiliated with the group. Government officials whose files appeared among the documents told the Intercept they were “illegally obtained,” but no questions have been raised about their authenticity. The documents on Minnesota are from a host of local and federal law enforcement agencies and coordinating offices that worked to share information between them.

While the documents reveal concern over groups with a professed commitment to unrest, like the far-right group Boogaloo, they also suggest a tendency to categorize standard protest behavior as a threat to police. For instance, a May 28 document from the Minnesota Fusion Center, a post-9/11 body that coordinates among various law enforcement agencies, warned that police should look out for a dizzying array of suspicious behaviors, including people possessing balloons or bike locks and wearing masks — a description that includes many of those who took to the streets during the pandemic.…—”Law Enforcement Scoured Protester Communications and Exaggerated Threats to Minneapolis Cops, Leaked Documents Show,” Mara Hvistendahl, Alleen Brown, Reader Supported News, 6/27/20

Back National to Activist News
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

The Yearning for an Unpoisoned World

In Peace and Harmony with Nature

DenverAirportMurals

Leo Tanguma’s “In Peace and Harmony with Nature” references the social realist murals of Mexico while addressing a modern theme: the destruction of the environment. The first half of the mural shows children displaying great sadness over the destruction and extinction of life, as the second half of the artwork depicts humanity coming together to rehabilitate and celebrate nature.—”In Peace and Harmony with Nature Mural,” Leo Tanguma, Denver International Airport

The murals are fairly shocking. Here we have refugees living in a basement and the Lord of Death, brandishing an AK-47, killing the dove of peace. Gray waves pulse from the figure, the waves pulse outward, killing everybody in its path. The figure wears a gas mask implying the gray waves, the instrument of death in this case, is a biological weapon.

Set against the backdrop of a solar flare and horrific destruction, not to mention the extinction of various species including whales and sea turtles, children are in the center sobbing over three open caskets.

You’ll notice there is a little girl in the back right holding a Mayan tablet alluding to Dec. 21, 2012, the end of the world. But the Mayans also predict a ‘rebirth’ which is why some life, such as the penguin and bird, are being preserved. Oh, and let’s not overlook the city being destroyed in the background.

All of the children of the world bring in the weapons from their country, handing them to a German boy. The gas mask man from the previous scene is now dead, two doves perched on his body. All of the children appear to be relieved. The deeper metaphor is the return to peace, a rebirth; there will be no more need for weapons in the new world.

The final mural is oddly reminiscent of the Garden of Eden, the world now lives in peace after the horrific events that have taken place. All the murals, when viewed in sequence, depict a massive genocide followed by the formation of a now less-populated, harmonious new world.—”In Peace and Harmony with Nature,” Denver International Airport Art & Culture

Back to An Unpoisoned World
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

Facebook creates fact-checking exemption
for climate deniers

Facebook is “aiding and abetting the spread of climate misinformation,” said Robert Brulle, an environmental sociologist at Drexel University. “They have become the vehicle for climate misinformation, and thus should be held partially responsible for a lack of action on climate change.”

Brulle was reacting to Facebook’s recent decision, made at the request of climate science deniers, to create a giant loophole in its fact-checking program. Last year, Facebook partnered with an organization, Science Feedback, that would bring in teams of Ph.D. climate scientists to evaluate the accuracy of viral content. It was an important expansion of the company’s third-party fact-checking program.

But now Facebook has reportedly decided to allow its staffers to overrule the climate scientists and make any climate disinformation ineligible for fact-checking by deeming it “opinion.”…—”Facebook creates fact-checking exemption for climate deniers,” Judd Legum, Popular Information|Heated, 6/24/20`

Back to An Unpoisoned World
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

Coca-Cola halts social media ads over hate content

Coca-Cola will suspend advertising on social media globally for at least 30 days, as pressure builds on platforms to crack down on hate speech.

“There is no place for racism in the world and there is no place for racism on social media,” the drinks maker’s chairman and CEO James Quincey said.

He demanded “greater accountability and transparency” from social media firms.

It came after Facebook said it would label potentially harmful or misleading posts left up for their news value.

Founder Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook would also ban advertising containing claims “that people of a specific race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity or immigration status” are a threat to others.

The organisers of the #StopHateforProfit campaign, which accuses Facebook of not doing enough to stop hate speech and disinformation, said the “small number of small changes” would not “make a dent in the problem”.

Further reading Facebook to tag ‘harmful’ posts as boycott widens | BBC
Ben & Jerry’s joins Facebook ad boycott |BBC
US phone giant Verizon joins Facebook ad boycott | BBC

More than 90 companies have paused advertising in support of #StopHateforProfit.

As a result of the boycott, shares in Facebook fell 8.3% on Friday, eliminating $56bn (£45bn) from the company’s market value and knocking $7.2bn off Mr Zuckerberg’s personal net worth, Bloomberg reported. As a result of the loss, Louis Vuitton boss Bernard Arnault replaced the Facebook founder as the world’s third richest individual.…—”Coca-Cola suspends social media advertising despite Facebook changes,” BBC News, 6/27/201

Back to An Unpoisoned World
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

Supreme Court Refuses to Hear
Klamath Basin ‘Takings’ Case,
Upholding Tribes’ Senior Water Rights

Click for full view

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court today refused to hear the case of Baley vs. United States, an 18-year-old case regarding water rights on the Klamath Basin, agreeing with the Court of Appeals that Basin irrigators’ water rights were subordinate to the Tribes’ federal reserved water rights.

The court’s refusal to hear the case brought by Klamath Basin irrigators “settles for good” the question of whether reduced water deliveries to Klamath Basin agricultural producers in 2001 constituted a “taking” of private property under the Fifth Amendment, according to a statement from Earthjustice.

The Court of Appeals argued that the federal reserved rights of the Tribes “need not have been adjudicated or quantified before they were asserted to protect the Tribes’ fishing rights.” The decision is available here: www.cafc.uscourts.gov

“For the foregoing reasons, we agree with the Court of Federal Claims that appellants’ water rights were subordinate to the Tribes’ federal reserved water rights,” the Appeals Court concluded. “We therefore see no error in the court’s holding that the Bureau of Reclamation’s action in temporarily halting deliveries of Klamath Project water in 2001 did not constitute a taking of appellants’ property. Because the parties agree this ruling is dispositive of the case, we need not reach appellants’ remaining arguments on appeal noted above.”

Klamath River Tribes, fishing groups and environmental organizations praised the Supreme Court’s decision to not hear the case.

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court has declined to hear this case, and upheld the Federal Circuit’s decision,” said attorney Stefanie Tsosie of Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law firm that has been involved in this case for 18 years. “This decision affirms sound and settled principles of Tribal reserved water rights. Earthjustice has long worked to protect and restore the Klamath River and its salmon, which hold significant cultural value for Tribes in the Klamath Basin and are essential to sustaining the West Coast commercial salmon fishing industry.”… —”Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Klamath Basin ‘Takings’ Case, Upholding Tribes’ Senior Water Rights,” Dan Bacher, Daily Kos, 6/22/20

Back to Indigenous Peoples News
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

Seven billion people ‘need a sense of oneness’

The leader of Tibetan Buddhism sees reasons for optimism even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. People are helping one another, he tells the BBC’s Justin Rowlatt, and if seven billion people on Earth develop “a sense of oneness” they may yet unite to solve the problem of climate change.

The first time I met the Dalai Lama he tweaked my cheek.

It is pretty unusual to have your cheek tweaked by anyone, let alone by a man regarded as a living god by many of his followers.

But the Dalai Lama is a playful man who likes to tease his interviewers.

DalaiLamaSpeaksNow, of course, such a gesture would be unthinkable – our latest encounter comes via the sterile interface of a video conferencing app.

The Dalai Lama appears promptly and sits in front of the camera, smiling and adjusting his burgundy robes.

“Half-five,” he says with a grin. His eyes sparkle: “Too early!”

We both laugh. He is teasing me again…

I sit among rows of empty desks in the grey half-light while in a palace atop a mountain redoubt in the foothills of the Himalayas, monks in saffron and purple robes sweep by, tweaking cables and adjusting cameras in a gilded room.

Clear mountain light streams in through the windows.

There are worse places to endure lockdown than a palace with sweeping views of icy mountain peaks, and the Dalai Lama acknowledges as much.

“Here we have very pure fresh water and fresh air. I stay here peacefully,” he tells me with another of his signature explosive laughs.

His thoughts are with those who are suffering and afraid during this terrible pandemic but he says there has been much to inspire and to celebrate.

“Many people don’t care about their own safety but are helping, it is wonderful.”

The Dalai Lama smiles.

“When we face some tragic situation, it reveals the deeper human values of compassion,” he continues. “Usually people don’t think about these deeper human values, but when they see their human brothers and sisters suffering the response comes automatically.”

I ask what advice he has for people who are anxious or frightened.

The important thing is to try not to worry too much, he suggests.

“If there is a way to overcome your situation then make effort, no need to worry,” he explains.

“If truly there is no way to overcome then it is no use to worry, you can’t do anything. You have to accept it, like old age.”

The Dalai Lama will be 85 in a few weeks.

“It is no use me thinking I am too old, no use as an old person,” he continues.

“Young people are physical, their minds are fresh, they can make a contribution for a better world but they are too much excited.” He chuckles.

“Older people have more experience they can help by teaching the young. We can tell them to be calm,” he says with another explosive laugh.…—”Dalai Lama: Seven billion people ‘need a sense of oneness’,” BBC News, 6/13/20

Back to An Unpoisoned World
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

Mercury with that? Shark fins served
with illegal doses of heavy metals

Shark fin soup is said to be the food of emperors, but a new study finds this “luxury” dish may not be so favorable to the person who eats it. A team of international researchers discovered that shark fins contain high levels of mercury — in most cases, much higher than what’s legally considered safe for human consumption.

Shark fin soup has a long history in Chinese culture. Emperor Taizu of the Northern Song, who ruled China between 960 and 976, apparently ate shark fin soup to display his power and wealth. From that point on, the dish became a status symbol and much-sought-after food item in China, served throughout the Song dynasty (960-1279), the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), and the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912). While it briefly disappeared from the menu when the Chinese Communist Party assumed power in 1949, it reemerged in the 1980s as a dish to signify prosperity and good fortune.

Even today, shark fin soup continues to be a popular food choice in China and Hong Kong, and there’s even a growing demand in other Asian countries like Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia. In Hong Kong, it’s frequently served as a delicacy at weddings and New Year’s banquets, but you can also find “everyday” versions of the soup at most restaurants.

To feed the insatiable demand for shark fin soup, about 100 million sharks are killed every year, according to one study. While it’s legal to trade the fins of many shark species, other sharks are protected under CITES Appendix II, which only allows trade when special permits have been granted. But CITES regulations have not managed to stop the many illegal parts of the global shark fin trade.…—”Mercury with that? Shark fins served with illegal doses of heavy metals,” Elizabeth Claire Alberts, Mongabay, 6/19/20

Back to ICYMI
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

Roundup Maker to Pay $10 Billion
to Settle Cancer Suits

Bayer faced tens of thousands of claims linking the weedkiller to cases of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Some of the money is set aside for future cases.

When Bayer, the giant German chemical and pharmaceutical maker, acquired Monsanto two years ago, the company knew it was also buying the world’s best-known weedkiller. What it didn’t anticipate was a legal firestorm over claims that the herbicide, Roundup, caused cancer.

Now Bayer is moving to put those troubles behind it, agreeing to pay more than $10 billion to settle tens of thousands of claims while continuing to sell the product without adding warning labels about its safety.

The deal, announced Wednesday, is among the largest settlements ever in U.S. civil litigation. Negotiations were extraordinarily complex, producing separate agreements with 25 lead law firms whose clients will receive varying amounts.…

Bayer, which inherited the litigation when it bought Monsanto for $63 billion, has repeatedly maintained that Roundup is safe.… —”Roundup Maker to Pay $10 Billion to Settle Cancer Suits,” Patricia Cohen, The New York Times, 6/24/21

Back to Industry News
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

To Support ‘Urgently-Needed Clean and
Just Energy Transition,’ 450+ Groups Demand
Federal Regulators Rebuff Attack
on Community Solar

Net metering must continue, the groups tell the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Over 450 environmental, faith, and consumer advocacy groups on Monday urged federal regulators to reject a proposal from a secretive right-wing organization that would upend policies seen as “foundational to achieving the nation’s urgently-needed clean and just energy transition.”

The call comes in a letter (pdf) to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and concerns the New England Ratepayers Association’s (NERA) April petition arguing for federal jurisdiction over solar net-metering policies, which are now under states’ control.

Public Citizen—one of the signatories to the new letter—explained Monday:

Net metering is a billing mechanism that credits solar power generators for the electricity they add to the grid. It is a crucial component of rooftop solar project financing because it makes solar energy systems affordable for small businesses and families through energy credits for the solar power they generate. The NERA petition would grant FERC sole jurisdiction to govern such programs through the Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act or Federal Power Act.

The alternative to net metering is gross metering. Under this scenario, as Pine Tree Watch reported last month,

utilities pay solar users a low credit for supplying solar energy to the electric grid, then charge them a higher rate—the same as what non-solar users pay—for any energy they consume. This can result in solar customers paying for electricity even if they use less than their panels produce. “

[…]

The petition also could lay the groundwork for the elimination of states’ ability to promote renewable energy policies that incentivize solar.

Further reading: Petition threatens to derail solar incentives across New England | Pine Tree Watch

According to Nathan Phelps, regulatory director at Vote Solar, “If this is approved, families and businesses across the country will be blindsided by this malicious affront on their good faith investments that were based on state policies that have been protected by FERC for the past 20 years.”…—”To Support ‘Urgently-Needed Clean and Just Energy Transition,’ 450+ Groups Demand Federal Regulators Rebuff Attack on Community Solar,” Andrea Germanos, Common Dreams News, 6/15/20

Back to Renewable Energy News
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

Fast-growing mini-forests
spring up in Europe to aid climate

Miyawaki forests are denser and said to be more biodiverse than other kinds of woods

Tiny, dense forests are springing up around Europe as part of a movement aimed at restoring biodiversity and fighting the climate crisis.

TinyForestsVidOften sited in schoolyards or alongside roads, the forests can be as small as a tennis court. They are based on the work of the Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki, who has planted more than 1,000 such forests in Japan, Malaysia and elsewhere.

Advocates for the method say the miniature forests grow 10 times faster and become 30 times denser and 100 times more biodiverse than those planted by conventional methods. This result is achieved by planting saplings close together, three per square metre, using native varieties adapted to local conditions. A wide variety of species – ideally 30 or more – are planted to recreate the layers of a natural forest.

Guardian-Donate.-1Scientists say such ecosystems are key to meeting climate goals, estimating that natural forests can store 40 times more carbon than single-species plantations. The Miyawaki forests are designed to regenerate land in far less time than the 70-plus years it takes a forest to recover on its own.…—”Fast-growing mini-forests spring up in Europe to aid climate,” Hannah Lewis, The Guardian, 6/13/20

Back to Renewable Energy News
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

At least 2,000 more black people were lynched
by white mobs than previously reported,
new research finds

In December 1865, seven months after President Abraham Lincoln took a bullet to the head at Ford’s Theatre, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified with these words:

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction,” the amendment says.

For blacks, the moment represented liberty in its truest form — the country’s defining document now outlawed slavery. But the 13th Amendment infuriated many Southern whites who refused to accept the outcome of the Civil War.

The next 12 years during the period known as Reconstruction was one of the most brutal stretches of organized racial terrorism in American history, with white mobs attacking and lynching blacks. The unprovoked assaults stretched into the early 1950s.

Historians have struggled for years to figure out just how many blacks were lynched. Now, thanks to a new report from the Equal Justice Initiative, the numbers are coming into clearer focus. The Alabama-based organization said its researchers have documented 6,500 lynchings between 1865 and 1950, including 2,000 attacks during Reconstruction that weren’t tallied in its previous reports.

Thousands of other blacks were also assaulted and raped, the organization said. And the actual number of attacks might never be known.

“Emboldened Confederate veterans and former enslavers organized a reign of terror that effectively nullified constitutional amendments designed to provide Black people with equal protection and the right to vote,” the report said. “Violence, mass lynchings, and lawlessness enabled white Southerners to create a regime of white supremacy and Black disenfranchisement alongside a new economic order that continued to exploit Black labor.”…—”Lynchings: Equal Justice Initiative report finds 2,000 blacks lynched during Reconstruction,” Michael S. Rosenwald, The Washington Post, 6/16/20

Back to An Unpoisoned World
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

Emergency in the Sahel: choosing the fight against inequalities

As massacres and violence intensify in the Sahel, so does the urgency of a response from the states of the region and the international community to prioritize the fight against inequality. That is at least what Oxfam now states in its new report, “Securing is not developing: the fight against inequality must be our priority,” which is published whilst Alliance Sahel and the G5 Sahel meet in Bonn and a day before the Foreign Affairs and Development ministers of both the G7 and the G5 Sahel meet in Paris.

The crises the Sahel faces, whether they be of a humanitarian, environmental, or security nature, are all rooted in the inequality and profound sense of injustice that permeate Sahelian societies. These inequalities dangerously undermine community life and result in repeated tensions and violence.

A history of
turning away
from Africa’s
colonial
legacy
Central Sahel: the humanitarian emergency the world is ignoring | ReliefWeb, 11/15/19
Three-country crisis’ across central Sahel puts whole generation at risk, warns UN food agency | UN News, 11/10/19

Escalating Burkina Faso violence brings wider Sahel displacement emergency into focus | UN News, 2/21/20

Sahel emergency | World Food Programme, March, 2020

According to Adama Coulibaly, Oxfam Regional Director for West Africa: “This new challenge is superimposed on pre-existing development issues. Indeed, despite considerable progress, the Sahel, where over half of the population has no access to drinking water, remains one of the poorest regions in the world as well as the one with the steepest food safety deterioration in the last 10 years. The Sahel is also one of the regions with the worst climate inequalities. For the often weak and resource-poor Sahelian states, this two-pronged challenge must lead to a new approach, one centred on the fight against inequalities.”…—”Emergency in the Sahel: choosing the fight against inequalities,” Oxfam International, 7/2/19

Back to An Unpoisoned World
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

Illegal farms on indigenous lands
get whitewashed under
Bolsonaro administration

An exclusive study shows that 114 properties have been certified inside indigenous territories awaiting demarcation in the Brazilian Amazon, spurred in large part by a recent statute that leaves these reserves unprotected from such illegal land grabs.

The administration of President Jair Bolsonaro has legitimized more than a hundred farms established illegally inside indigenous territories in the Brazilian Amazon, most of them certified following a recent rule change.

That was the finding from an unprecedented study by the investigative reporting outlet Agência Pública, which puts the combined area of indigenous lands occupied in this way at 250,000 hectares (620,000 acres), or about the size of Luxembourg. Meanwhile, Bolsonaro has not ratified a single new indigenous territory since taking office at the start of 2019.

Indigenous territories are theoretically protected from land grabs such as these under a 2012 statute of FUNAI, the federal agency for indigenous affairs. This protection extends to unratified indigenous lands, which are those awaiting a presidential decree as the last step in the demarcation process for official recognition.…—”Illegal farms on indigenous lands get whitewashed under Bolsonaro administration,” Bruno Fonseca, Rafael Oliveira, Mongabay, 6/23/20

Back to Indigenous Peoples News
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

\A prescription for a post-COVID economy:
A national climate bank

Click for full view

When the Obama administration entered the White House in January 2009, the previous year’s financial crisis had sent the U.S. economy spiraling. Unemployment was on its way to peaking at about 10 percent, and the new president and Democrat-led Congress’s first job was sparking an economic recovery. Their hope was to put people back to work — while also accelerating a transition to a clean energy economy.

One of the ideas Congress considered at the time was launching a national “green bank,” a nonprofit institution that would use public money to help cash-strapped businesses invest in solar panels, wind farms, and energy-efficiency building retrofits. Green bank legislation gained traction that year, but it and other climate-related initiatives — most famously a cap-and-trade bill — ultimately never passed.

Further reading: Why You Should Care About The National Climate Bank | CleanTechnica Exclusive

So green bank advocates turned their efforts to the states. Soon Connecticut, Florida, and Hawaii had launched their own specialized banks, using seed funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to issue loans and bonds to local projects. Together, those programs have spurred billions of dollars’ worth of investments and supported tens of thousands of jobs, bank leaders say.

Today, as the COVID-19 pandemic catalyzes another economic meltdown — with an unemployment rate over 13 percent — the green bank concept is making a comeback. With nearly 600,000 clean energy positions lost in recent weeks, environmental advocates are among those again eyeing a recovery that includes significantly decarbonizing the American economy. And they say a federal green bank is a key element.…—”A prescription for a post-COVID economy: A national climate bank,” Maria Gallucci. Grist, 6/23/20

Back to An Unpoisoned World
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

‘Betting on impunity’:
Brazilian Amazon under attack
despite logging crackdown

In a corner of Brazil’s Mato Grosso state, a handful of clandestine roads neatly slice the dense jungle canopy into rectangles. From the sky, an entourage of bulldozers can be spotted wading deeper into the Amazon along these makeshift routes. The vast Wawi Indigenous Territory lies just beyond, emerald green stretching as far as the eye can see.

Two weeks earlier, authorities raided this very region of Querência, a municipality 960 kilometers (597 miles) east of the state capital, Cuiabá. In a highly publicized operation in mid-May led by the state, agents slapped embargoes on 700 hectares of land being deforested illegally. They confiscated tractors and handed out R$4.2 million ($780,990) in fines to the perpetrators.

But just a few days after the flashy operation, indigenous people living nearby reported hearing the whirring sound of electric chainsaws as the invaders picked up right where they had left off. Local sources said it appeared as if they were carving roads into the still-lush territory as a way of demarcating and opening it up to heavy machinery, which could then easily raze down large swaths of forest.

Following a complaint by environmental advocates, a helicopter that appeared to belong to federal forces swept above the region in early June, local sources say. But it appears the invaders were undeterred: they were still clearing forest as recently as June 11, according to local sources and satellite images of the area.

“It’s an affront, it’s a form of betting on impunity,” said Ricardo Abad, an analyst at the Instituto Socioambiental (ISA), an NGO that defends environmental diversity and the rights of indigenous and traditional people. “The person knows that nothing will happen.”…—”‘Betting on impunity’: Brazilian Amazon under attack despite logging crackdown,” Ana Ionova, Mongabay, 6/23/20

Back to An Unpoisoned World
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

Texas oil industry faces prospect of collapse
amid Covid-19 losses

Oil and gas producers are trying to reopen after a ‘devastating’ halt, but pessimism about an economic recovery is widespread

Jeffrey Lattea finally got his first unemployment check this week, a whole month after he was laid off again. The 34-year-old resorted to government assistance to cover his bills after losing his second job in the Texas oil and gas industry just six weeks into it.

“My first company laid us off to stabilize their balance sheet,” the oil worker said, matter-of-factly. “I was able to secure a temporary position with another inspection company in Pasadena with a turnaround. They started doing layoffs after the first week, so I knew it was coming – but not that fast.”

Lattea is among tens of thousands of workers across Texas – America’s largest oil-producing state – who have lost their jobs since coronavirus shutdowns dried up demand. The shutdowns have led to apocalyptic headlines proclaiming that the state could lose 1 million jobs, and at least $24bn by the end of the year. Oil and gas companies have paused or curtailed production and halted capital expenditures to conserve cash leading to mass layoffs as the world shut down.

In April alone, the industry shed a historic 26,300 jobs in Texas.

Guardian-Donate.-1New coronavirus cases are increasing to record numbers and the state has paused its reopening plans. But the oil and gas industry cannot afford another shutdown as it smarts from one of its worst years in decades.…—”Texas oil industry faces prospect of collapse amid Covid-19 losses,” Larry Madowo, The Guardian, 6/26/20

Back to Industry News
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

A pipeline poisons the wells in Hill Country, Texas

BLANCO, TX — It began without warning on the afternoon of March 29.

Physician Teri Albright was making sun tea at her Hill Country ranch, expecting that when she put the pitcher under the kitchen faucet she’d see her pristine well water bubbling out of it.

Instead, it looked like chocolate milk. She ran to the other faucets. Same thing with the shower, the toilets, the hose outside: sludge.

She and her husband, also a medical doctor, had bought their ranch along the banks of the Blanco River to enjoy the scenery and solitude. It’s where they wanted to grow old together and spoil the grandkids.

When Houston-based energy giant Kinder Morgan announced plans in 2018 to build a natural gas pipeline nearby, Albright said she felt “stomach sick.” Their plans didn’t include watching construction crews cut through limestone and rip out 100-year-old live oak trees. She worried an explosion might kill them all.

Neighbors protested, warning about disturbing the Hill Country’s “karst” features — which include vast underground caves and channels that hold and carry their groundwater.…—”A pipeline poisons the wells in Hill Country,” Jay Root, Houston Chronicle, 6/27/20

Back to Industry News
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

Emergence of Cascading Dynamics
in Interacting Tipping Elements
of Ecology and Climate

Click for full view

Abstract

In ecology, climate and other fields, (sub)systems have been identified that can transition into a qualitatively different state when a critical threshold or tipping point in a driving process is crossed. An understanding of those tipping elements is of great interest given the increasing influence of humans on the biophysical Earth system. Complex interactions exist between tipping elements, e.g. physical mechanisms connect subsystems of the climate system.

Based on earlier work on such coupled nonlinear systems, we systematically assessed the qualitative long-term behaviour of interacting tipping elements. We developed an understanding of the consequences of interactions on the tipping behaviour allowing for tipping cascades to emerge under certain conditions. The (narrative) application of these qualitative results to real-world examples of interacting tipping elements indicates that tipping cascades with profound consequences may occur: the interacting Greenland ice sheet and thermohaline ocean circulation might tip before the tipping points of the isolated subsystems are crossed.

The eutrophication of the first lake in a lake chain might propagate through the following lakes without a crossing of their individual critical nutrient input levels. The possibility of emerging cascading tipping dynamics calls for the development of a unified theory of interacting tipping elements and the quantitative analysis of interacting real-world tipping elements.

1. Introduction

Many natural systems exhibit nonlinear dynamics and can undergo a transition into a qualitatively different state when a critical threshold is crossed. Those systems are called tipping elements and the corresponding threshold in terms of a critical parameter is the tipping point of the system. A precise mathematical definition is given in [1]. Examples for tipping elements can be found in ecology as a specific type of regime shifts [2,3] such as the transition of a shallow lake from a clear to a turbid state. Furthermore, subsystems of the Earth system [1,10,11] such as the thermohaline circulation or the Greenland ice sheet [19,20] have been identified as tipping elements.

The term tipping point among other roots originated from describing the changing prevalence of ethnically diverse population in a US community [21–25] and has been applied to natural systems more recently. However, the idea that systems may show such nonlinear behaviour has already been developed within the frameworks of dynamical systems and catastrophe theory [26–30]. The latter theory received increasing attention and has been applied to several real-world systems in the period after its introduction [31]. Its extensive use has been criticized [32–35] so that it became a mathematical theory without much recent influence [36]. Mostly independently of the results given by catastrophe theory, critical transitions, tipping points and regime shifts have been analysed in ecology using the concepts of multistability and resilience [40,41]. Some first attempts to define a climatic tipping element relating to abrupt climate shifts can be found in

Different types of tipping points are discussed in the literature [9,23,37–39,45]. First, a qualitative change of the system’s state when a continuously changing control parameter crosses a threshold is called bifurcation-induced tipping [23,46–48]. Noise can induce a transition into an alternative stable state without a change of the system’s control parameter [23,38,49]. Furthermore, rate-induced tipping describes the shift to a qualitatively different state when the rate of change of a control parameter crosses a critical threshold,

It is known that bifurcation-induced tipping, even though often mentioned, is not the only possible type of tipping [24,45,49,51]. Nevertheless, the response of many natural systems to a control parameter can be described in terms of a double fold bifurcation.

Real-world tipping elements are not independent from each other [52], but there may exist complex interactions between them. Potential interactions through various physical mechanisms were revealed for tipping elements in the climate system [54]. As an example, meltwater influx into the North Atlantic as a result of a tipping of the Greenland ice sheet could weaken the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation [55]. Lake chains or rivers can be seen as an ecological example for coupled tipping elements. Each lake or river section in the chain can undergo a transition from a clear to a turbid state in response to nutrient input [5,6,8]. The single lakes can in reality be connected through small rivers or streams and can therefore not be considered independently.

The tipping probability of a certain tipping element might be influenced by the behaviour of other interacting tipping elements [54,59]. As a consequence, crossing of a critical threshold of a first tipping element could trigger, as a domino effect, a critical transition in a coupled tipping element or even tipping cascades [37,59–64]. In the following, we use the term tipping cascade for a critical transition triggered by a preceding tipping event of an influencing system.…—”Emergence of cascading,dynamics in interacting,tipping elements of ecology,and climate,” Ann Kristin Klose, Volker Karle,Ricarda Winkelmann1, and Jonathan F. Donges, Royal Society Open Science, 5/18/20</p?many>

Back to Science & Climate
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

Professor Corey Bradshaw explains
the unfolding “Extinction Cascades”
on Nature Bats Last.

NatureBatsLast-CoryBradshaw

The audio of the episode is embedded here:

“Dr. Bradshaw is the Matthew Flinders Fellow in Global Ecology at Flinders University, where he directs the Global Ecology Laboratory and is also Chief Investigator of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage. He heads the Flinders Modelling Node of the latter organization. Professor Bradshaw has published some 300 peer-reviewed scientific articles, 11 book chapters and 3 books.

His book titles include The Effective Scientist, published by Cambridge University Press and, from Chicago University Press and co-authored by occasional guest on this show Professor Paul Ehrlich, Killing the Koala and Poisoning the Prairie. In total, his work has been cited more than 20,000 times. Bradshaw is co-Head of the Ecology Section of the Faculty of 1000 and a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Australia. He was awarded the 2017 Verco Medal from the Royal Society of South Australia, a 2017 Rockefeller Foundation ‘Bellagio’ Writer’s Fellowship, the 2010 Australian Ecology Research Award from the Ecological Society of Australia, the 2010 Scopus Young Researcher of the Year, the 2009 HG Andrewartha Medal, and a 2008 Young Tall Poppy Science Award. He is regularly featured in Australian and international media for his research. The Professor’s blog has been visited more than 2.3 million times.” Quoting Professor Guy McPherson

Further reading Publications by Cory Bradshaw | ConservationBytes
Co-extinctions annihilate planetary life during extreme environmental change,” Giovanni Strona, Corey J. A. Bradshaw | NCBI

We have previously discussed on the show Professor Bradshaw’s work with Professor Paul Ehlich. That episode is embedded in the following link: Professor Paul Ehrlich returns to Nature Bats Last.

“More than 99% of all species that have ever existed have gone extinct”. See the short presentation at the top of the Professor Bradshaw’s blog for more on that diamond of information and lets get over our human hubris and invincibility.

Until recently I assumed that at least Tardigrades would get through the extinction bottleneck. That has recently be called into question as we discussed on the show and below;

“Tardigrades are tough little critters. When conditions get nasty, they can dry out, reconfigure their bodies and enter suspended animation – called desiccation – for years. You can throw virtually anything at them: frozen temperatures, zero oxygen, high pressures, the vacuum of space, cosmic radiation, and even being boiled.”

Further reading: Tardigrades Are Basically Indestructible, But Scientists Just Found Their Weak Point | Science Alert

“But new research has shown these tiny organisms may have a weakness – long-term exposure to high temperatures, even in their desiccated state. The longer the temperatures are maintained, the lower the tardigrades’ chances of survival.”…—”Professor Corey Bradshaw explains the unfolding “Extinction Cascades,” Kevin Hester, Guy McPherson, Nature Bats Last, 6/4/20

Kevin Hester is an abrupt climate change researcher based on Rakino Island in the Hauraki Gulf of Aotearoa New Zealand. After a history of anti-apartheid and anti-nuclear activism Hester is whiling away his time chronicling the non-linear unravelling of the biosphere, the cascading extinction crises and the contemporaneous re-rise of fascism.

Hester’s work can be found at his own website, Kevin Hester Live. He co-hosts the podcast Nature Bats Last with Professor Guy McPherson, and its extensive archive can be found at Progressive Radio Network

Back to Science & Climate
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

Scientists are scrambling
to make thirsty crops love salt

It hasn’t been covered as much as global warming or pesticide resistance, but rising soil salinity is a serious, climate change-linked issue that producers are increasingly struggling with.

Every summer, wine scientist Andrew Walker embarks on one or two road trips in search of wild grapes. Armed with an eagle eye, a team of graduate students, and a rental car—the wheels on one side rolling along the asphalt and the wheels on the other rumbling through the adjacent gravel—Walker estimates that he drives between 400 and 500 miles per day in search of native grape varieties, which conveniently thrive along the edges of roads.

Rising soil salinity is a serious, climate change-linked issue that producers are increasingly struggling with.

When he comes across a wild grape, he uproots the plant, places it in a Ziploc bag, and stores it on ice. For obvious reasons, uprooted plants don’t last long, so these foraging trips never last more than a few days. Walker then brings the wild varieties back to his lab at the University of California, Davis, where he’s a professor of viticulture and oenology (fancy terms for “wine-growing” and “the study of wine,” respectively). The plants will go on to play an integral role in his research, breeding grapes to withstand one of today’s most challenging environmental issues: salty soil.…—”Scientists are scrambling to make thirsty crops love salt,” Jessica Fu, The Counter, 2/26/20

Back to Science & Climate
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

Federal Courts Reach Opposite Conclusions
Regarding Implementation of the
Navigable Waters Protection Rule

Click for full view

In the past two weeks, two federal district courts reached seemingly opposite conclusions regarding the implementation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (“the Agencies”) Navigable Waters Protection Rule (“the Rule”). The Rule, which took effect on June 22, narrows the term “waters of the United States” and, thereby, the scope of waters subject to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act (“CWA”). The Rule has been a top priority for the Trump Administration under its two-step process to repeal the Obama Administration’s 2015 rule, which expanded the scope of the CWA, and replace it with a rule that provides more distinct clarity as to which waters are jurisdictional. States, environmental groups, and other interested parties have filed lawsuits across the country challenging the Rule and requested courts issue preliminary injunctions to prevent it from taking effect.

Click for full view

On June 19, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California denied a motion for a nationwide preliminary injunction that was filed by California and sixteen other states and cities (“Plaintiffs”). Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit challenging the Rule and, on May 21, filed a motion for a nationwide preliminary injunction to prevent the Rule from taking effect. In the first ruling of its kind, Judge Richard Seeborg found that the Plaintiffs had not met the standard for a preliminary injunction and denied the motion. The Court found that the Plaintiffs had not shown a likelihood of success on the merits of their legal challenge and rejected the Plaintiffs’ claims that an injunction was warranted to avoid irreparable injury.

Addressing the likelihood of success on the merits, the Court noted that the Agencies’ interpretation of the term “waters of the United States” is ultimately entitled to deference, and should be upheld if it is a reasonable interpretation of the term. The Court emphasized that Congress had failed to clearly define the term in the statute and that there had been a shifting interpretation of the term between administrations. The Court acknowledged that interpretative changes motivated by a change in administration are not inherently unreasonable and concluded that the Agencies’ current interpretation—even if it is inconsistent with the Agencies’ 2015 interpretation of the term—is likely not inconsistent with the text, structure, and purpose of the CWA.…

On the same day, Judge William J. Martinez of the District of Colorado (an Obama appointee) reached an opposite conclusion and granted a request for a preliminary injunction, concluding that the Rule contradicts the Supreme Court’s decision in Rapanos v. United States, 547 U.S. 715 (2006). Specifically, Judge Martinez concluded that the Rule impermissibly implements the jurisdictional test put forth by the four-Justice plurality in Rapanos authored by Justice Scalia rather than Justice Kennedy’s concurring opinion. Given the Rule’s contradiction of Justice Kennedy’s concurring opinion in Rapanos, Judge Martinez determined that the plaintiffs would likely succeed in challenging the Rule and halted its implementation in Colorado during the pendency of the trial.—”Federal Courts Reach Opposite Conclusions Regarding Implementation of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule,“Andrea Wortzel, Fitzgerald Veira, Byron Kirkpatrick, Brooks Smith, Patrick Fanning, Ashley Cameron, Rich Pepper, Environmental Law & Policy Monitor|TroutmanSanders, 6/29/20

Back to Regulatory & Court News
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

Minnesota and the District of Columbia Allege
Climate Change Deception by Big Oil

The lawsuits seek damages related to global warming under statutes prohibiting consumer fraud, deceptive trade practices and false advertising.

Attorney General Keith Ellison filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Ramsey County District Court to stop deceptive practices by Exxon, three Koch industries entities and API related to the sale and promotion of petroleum products known to cause climate change, saying in a statement that they “have harmed Minnesotans’ health and our state’s environment, infrastructure, and economy.”

Further reading: Chevron’s ‘Black Lives Matter’ Tweet Prompts a Debate About Big Oil and Environmental Justice | InsideClimate News

The District of Columbia filed a similar action Thursday morning. After years of investigation, Attorney General Karl Racine announced a lawsuit against Exxon, BP, Chevron, and Shell alleging the companies systematically and intentionally misled district consumers about the role their products play in causing climate change.

Calling climate change “one of the greatest threats facing humanity,” the lawsuit says the oil companies violated the District’s consumer protection law by concealing the fact that using fossil fuels increases greenhouse gas emissions and threatens the health of District residents and the environment. “Defendants also knew that these increases in greenhouse gas concentrations would increase global temperatures, which would in turn wreak havoc on the planet, causing long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, resulting in severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems,” according to the lawsuit, filed in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.…”Minnesota and the District of Columbia Allege Climate Change Deception by Big Oil,” David Hasemyer, InsideClimate News, 6/25/20

Back to Regulatory & Court News
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

Lawsuit Launched Challenging
Endangered Species Act Denial
for Imperiled Bi-state Sage Grouse

“This is an example of politics trumping science while the extinction of a unique population of sage grouse hangs in the balance,” said Ileene Anderson, senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “As we have seen for more than a decade, voluntary measures are not enough; without the legal protections of the Endangered Species Act multiple threats continue to push the bi-state sage grouse closer to population collapse.”

The bi-state sage grouse is a geographically isolated and genetically distinct population of the greater sage grouse. It was originally proposed for listing as threatened in 2013, but the Fish and Wildlife Service abandoned the proposal in 2015. In 2018 a federal court found the agency had wrongly denied Endangered Species Act protection to the bi-state sage grouse and required the agency to re-evaluate the bird’s situation. In 2018, the bi-state sage grouse were again proposed for protection, but in 2020 the administration withdrew its proposal.…—”Lawsuit Launched Challenging Endangered Species Act Denial for Imperiled Bi-state Sage Grouse,” YubaNet, 6/17/20

Back to Regulatory & Court News
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

Franklin Graham attacks Anthony Fauci
because “Science isn’t truth. God is.”

Evangelical leader and fervent Trump worshiper Franklin Graham has taken to Facebook to denounce Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, for speaking about the anti-science bias that has been fomenting on the right for years now.

“Science isn’t truth. God is,” the conservative mouthpiece declared. Graham, the son of the famous evangelical preacher Billy Graham, is not actually a minister.

After he was asked why so many people had taken issue with coronavirus precautions during a podcast, Fauci pointed to the religious right’s attacks on scientific facts, anti-vaccination types, and Donald Trump supporter’s distrust of authority figures.

“One of the problems we face in the United States is that unfortunately, there is a combination of an anti-science bias that people are – for reasons that sometimes are, you know, inconceivable and not understandable – they just don’t believe science and they don’t believe authority,” Fauci said.…—”Franklin Graham attacks Anthony Fauci because “Science isn’t truth. God is.” Bil Browning, LGBTQ Nation, 6/22/20

Back to The Lighter Side
Back to Table of Contents

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

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.