By Patrick Robbins, 350.org
As someone born and raised in New York City, Superstorm Sandy devastated places I loved. I remember watching places I’d grown up become disaster zones, and walking through dark streets where electricity hadn’t returned. As the waters rose, we asked ourselves – how could this have happened?
The answer is complicated, but climate change is a major part of it. We know climate change is supercharging storms, “setting the stage” for a greater frequency of storms and storms that are deadlier and more intense.
And let’s be very clear – this is about justice. The poor and vulnerable are hit first and worst by extreme weather events like Sandy. At the time of the storm, 70% of New York City’s low-income housing was located inside “Zone A,” the area at highest risk of flooding. While there has been a lot of rebuilding, many neighborhoods are still feeling Sandy’s impacts five years later.
New York City’s political leaders claim to care about climate change. Mayor Bill de Blasio has said that “the world cannot ignore the very real threat of climate change.” Scott Stringer, the Comptroller who controls the city’s vast pension funds, responded to Trump’s pullout from Paris by saying we would “work towards a sustainable future in every capacity we can.” But today, there’s still $3 billion of New York pension funds invested in the likes of Exxon, Kinder Morgan and Transcanada, and dozens of other oil, gas and pipeline companies.
Why does this matter? Because these are the very companies that are supercharging hurricanes and storms like Sandy and Harvey and Irma, and more that will likely hit this fall.
By supporting fossil fuel companies, de Blasio and Stringer are supporting injustice, plain and simple. You don’t get to be a climate leader while giving away money to oil and gas companies. That’s not how it works.
— Fossil Free (@GoFossilFree) September 18, 2017
It’s time for a reckoning.
On October 28, we remember, resist, and rise. We will join together and demand that our elected officials stand with their people. Reckoning with the past, particularly a painful past like Hurricane Sandy, is never easy. But it is necessary to ensure a healthy and equitable future. RSVP here, and tell everyone you know.
See you in the streets.
Ordinary people everywhere are standing up and fighting fossil fuel projects across the country. Trump and the fossil fuel industry are desperate to lock us into decades more of polluting fossil fuels by building new pipelines and other dirty infrastructure, but their agenda is being disrupted by grassroots organizing across the country to protect our water, communities, and climate.
This month was particularly exciting with five major developments in key fights across North America. Here are some of the stories, headlines, and landmark decisions.
On August 22, an appeals court rejected the federal government’s approval of a natural gas pipeline project in the southeastern U.S., citing concerns about its impact on climate change.
“In a 2-1 ruling, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) did not properly analyze the climate impact from burning the natural gas that the project would deliver to power plants.
The ruling is significant because it adds to environmentalists’ arguments that analyses under the National Environmental Policy Act — the law governing all environmental reviews of federal decisions — must consider climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.”
“On August 30, regulators in New York rejected key permits for a natural gas pipeline, saying a previous federal approval had failed to consider the resulting greenhouse gas emissions.
The pipeline in question, the 7.8 mile-long Valley Lateral Project, would supply a 680 megawatt power plant that’s currently under construction. The pipeline had already received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), but because it crosses several streams and wetlands, it needed state regulators to sign off, too.”
Courts and regulators have blocked several fossil fuel projects in the past month, in part over climate concerns https://t.co/8bHIc0vZTq
— InsideClimate News (@insideclimate) September 7, 2017
On Monday, Sept 11, the Minnesota Department of Commerce released an analysis concluding that Enbridge’s proposed new crude oil pipeline across northern Minnesota, Line 3, isn’t needed — and moreover the aging line it’s supposed to replace should be shut down.
“The report represents a major and unexpected roadblock for Calgary-based Enbridge in its attempt to replace the 1960s-vintage Line 3, which shuttles oil from Alberta, Canada, to the company’s terminal in Superior, Wis.”
— MN350 (@MN_350) September 11, 2017
“On September 10, West Virginia environmental regulators rescinded approval for building the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which would carry natural gas down the center of West Virginia for 195 miles.In a letter Thursday, the Department of Environmental Protection said it’s vacating the water quality certification issued in March, which followed review of the projected impact on the state’s waters and public hearings.”
West Virginia Withdraws Approval of Mountain Valley Pipeline https://t.co/Y7eQHG40JC
— 350 Central VA (@350CVA) September 12, 2017
On September 7, TransCanada announced it would suspend the application for its Energy East pipeline for 30 days and may abandon the project weeks after Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) announced a tougher review process that would consider the project’s indirect greenhouse gas contributions.
— 350 Canada (@350Canada) September 12, 2017
Texas and Louisiana have barely begun recovering from Harvey. Now Hurricane Irma is whipping through the Caribbean and barreling towards the Florida coast, with Hurricane Jose following closely behind it.
Some of you might have loved ones in the path of Hurricane Irma, or know those who have already been hit by the hurricane. Our thoughts are with them.
This is a crucial moment to support the people impacted — here are two places where you can donate:
(We’ll continue to share links via email and social media for other accountable relief organizations that you can direct your donations to).
Hurricane Irma, like Harvey before it, or the wildfires blazing across much of the Western United States, are impacting tens of millions of us in the U.S., and throughout the Caribbean.
Tomorrow, Hurricane Irma arrives in Florida after leaving a deadly trail on its way, and is already considered the largest storm ever seen in the Atlantic. Yet another disaster not so natural.
Climate science tells us that Hurricane Irma is strengthened by warming temperatures – just like Harvey was – making them both much more destructive. Here are the major connections:
Storms like Hurricane Irma are made stronger and more deadly by climate change, yet the fossil fuel industry has been sowing doubt for years about the climate crisis. That’s just criminal.
The impacts will always be particularly severe on the most marginalized in our society: poor people and communities of color are not only often on the frontlines of these disasters, they also have the least resources to rebuild.
The climate crisis is no longer a distant future. It’s a clear and present danger. And it’s an injustice in every sense of the word.
Together, we will not only recover from these storms, but work to protect our communities from more such climate related disasters in the future.
In the midst of disastrous climate events — hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and the inhumane policies of deportations that are compounding these injustices — we’ve got some good news.
Yesterday, TransCanada announced that it was requesting a 30-day suspension to the Energy East review, to assess on the viability of its pipeline project given new review constraints. That’s because last month, the National Energy Board (NEB) — the regulatory body tasked with evaluating pipelines — announced that it would include climate change impacts in its assessment of the project.
Including climate impacts seems like a no brainer for a project that is the largest tar sands pipeline ever proposed. But it wasn’t always that way. There’s a whooping 4,500 km of pipe destined to export 1.1 million barrels of oil every day, extracted from Alberta’s tar sands and shipped out through the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick to foreign markets and up until two months ago, the NEB was going to assess this project without considering the toll burning all that oil would take on the climate.
Like many others, I’ve spend hours — both as a volunteer and in my work life — supporting the nation-wide opposition to this project, so I’d like to dwell for a minute on how we got here and celebrate this important milestone.
A quick recap of recent history will remind us that in 2012, Stephen Harper changed a lot of laws at once with its Omnibus Bill C-38 (among others) which included an overhaul to the NEB, making it harder for the public to participate, easier for industry to expedite applications, and gave more power to politicians to decide the ultimate fate of these projects. With no consideration of climate change in its reviews, the NEB became a “captured regulator”, for the benefit of Canada’s fossil fuel industry.
Shortly after Energy East was proposed to the NEB, a campaign called the People’s Intervention got off the ground, supported by a number of organizations — it called for climate change to be included in the assessment of the project.
First, 100,000 people signed a petition asking for the NEB to include climate impacts. Next, close to 2,000 people actually applied to the NEB as intervenors in the project, asking to talk about Energy East’s impact on climate change. Then, hearings and open houses were held along the pipeline route and communities came out en masse to voice their opposition and demand a climate test on the pipeline.
Two years later, climate change is now included in the review, forcing TransCanada to pump the breaks on the project. We won this round.
Pipelines in the era of climate change
In the process, the NEB was so far delegitimized that a profound reform to the regulatory framework became a key 2015 election issue, and the review for Energy East got suspended, dissolved, amended, and reset multiple times. By demanding climate accountability we’ve made it unviable for TransCanada to move forward with their project.
Including climate in the review says simply: if you’re going to propose a project that releases massive amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, then you’ll be evaluated against the standards we’ve set for our ability to live safely on this planet. There’s nothing extreme about it, it’s just the true cost of mega-infrastructure projects in line with the science.
But imagine for a second what headlines we’d be reading today about this “done deal” pipeline if it wasn’t for the thousands of people who took action?
Over the course of the last years, this pipeline project dubbed as a “nation-builder” did indeed connect people across the country — in opposition to it. A vibrant network made up of students, faith groups, Indigenous leaders, environmental NGOs, grassroots associations, local businesses, farmers, workers, mayors all engaged in legal battles, local and regional organizing, and creative troublemaking to change hearts and minds.
Among the inspiring regional actions I’ve had the privilege of joining from coast to coast, I remember participating to the Red Head March at the End of the Line in New Brunswick, taking a few steps with Anishinaabe women at the Treaty 3 Water Walk in Manitoba, marching alongside thousands in Quebec against the Cacouna port. Through these and countless other big and little moments that each would deserve to be highlighted, you could feel the pulse of a powerful movement.
Building a climate movement
The fate of Energy East is of course linked to other tar sands pipelines, and if there’s one thing we’ve proven it’s that people are rising for a just transition off fossil fuels and towards renewables everywhere. Two other projects in the works are still facing massive opposition from First Nations and allies, despite approvals: Keystone XL is seeing solar panels built in its pathway in the US, and Kinder Morgan is facing tiny homes installed on the pipeline route in British-Columbia.
We don’t know for sure what TransCanada will do next, whether they will abandon this folly or if they’re not giving up on Energy East yet. Regardless, we’ll be continuing to lead with strategies that work, like the climate review one, and scaling up to continue to take on destructive projects.
If you too have been feeling despair at the horrifying flames and floods around the world, this is a good reminder that when people come together and communities organize, campaigns to take massive carbon projects out of the equation can actually work. Now, go ahead and find one to join.
By: Clayton Thomas-Muller
Deep in the interior of British Columbia, exists the territory of Secwepemul’ecw. It is the largest unceded indigenous land holding that the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion project is proposed to pass through, covering up to 518 km of the pipeline route. Prior to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s unilateral approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline, both the federal and (now former) Liberal provincial governments failed to consult with the Secwepemc as the proper title and rights holders collectively, so, grassroots members of the unceded Secwepemc Nation took matters into their own hands.
At an emergency national assembly in June 2017, organized by the surviving kin of the late Secwepemc Chief Arthur Manuel leadership, women, youth and elders discussed needs to uphold the protection of their traditional territory. A plan called ‘Tiny House Warriors: Our Land is Home’ was born. And, this week, that plan has been put into motion to stop the Kinder Morgan TransMountain pipeline from crossing unceded Secwepemc Territory.
Construction of the first of ten tiny homes started earlier this week near where the national Secwepec assembly took place. Upon completion, these tiny homes will be placed strategically along pipeline’s path, an assertion of Secwepemc Law and jurisdiction to protect the land and water of their territory.
You can find more information on the Tiny House Warriors Facebook page and by following the #TinyHousewarriors hashtag on other social media.
Yesterday, Nicolas Hulot (French minister of “solidarity-based and ecological transition”) presented the draft of a law aiming at freezing fossil fuel exploration and extraction in France and French territories.
Hulot’s project is very reflective of international global leaders’ past & current commitments to climate action — whilst the law that the French parliament plans to adopt later this autumn sets a historic precedent, it also falls short on ambition.
It sets a precedent because France is the first country to (plan to) adopt a law banning fossil fuel exploration and extraction. But it falls short for three reasons:
- France’s domestic fossil fuel production amounts to only 1% of France’s fossil fuel consumption. The “Hulot Act” would thus be mainly (if not entirely) symbolic. The problem with symbols is that they lose meaning if they are built on half-hearted measures. And this is clearly the case here.
- The draft of the law states that exploration as well as production of “unconventional fossil fuels” is forbidden. A first draft excluded “coalbed methane” from its definition of non-conventional fossil fuels. A very odd choice, since all institutions, as well as the fossil fuel industry itself, define coalbed methane as a non-conventional fossil fuel. As such, the law would thus leave room for coalbed methane exploitation, especially in the North-East of France. The latest draft doesn’t mention this exception – a probable direct consequence of the worries that climate groups and organizations (including the local communities affected by coalbed methane extraction) expressed openly. However, the new version of the draft leaves the room open for the extraction of non-conventional fossil fuels – if the industry uses other technologies than fracking.
- The law only focuses on new exploration permits: they would be the only ones to be frozen, and current extraction permits would still run until their end (25 years for the newest ones). Current permits would be almost automatically transformed into extraction permits if the company owning the exploration permit requests it. The draft of the law doesn’t say anything about the so-called “droit de suite” – which legally means that the company owning an exploration permit should be the one granted an extraction permit. This is probably the point where Hulot’s project lacks the most ambition. Since the publication of Oil Change International’s report “The Sky’s limit”, we know that we can’t develop any new fossil fuel projects if we are to meet the objectives laid out in the Paris Agreement. It’s essential then, that the Hulot law contributes to the “planned obsolescence” of the fossil fuel industry – i.e. by including legal measures preventing exploration permits from automatically becoming extraction permits.
The good news is: we have some plans to campaign and strengthen the law (page in French), so stay tuned!
A week after Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas, I talked to Sandy Spears, one of the volunteer leaders of 350 Houston. Sandy is a school teacher who has lived in Houston for 26 years and has been working with 350 Houston for about two years. Her school is located in the frontline corridor of oil refineries, an area hard hit by Harvey.
Sandy helped re-generate the 350 local group after some of the previous leaders left. “I started reading about climate change and after attending the PCM in NYC I returned to Texas and wanted to help create a community to grieve the difficult realities that I was learning about. In the past two years 350 Houston has evolved; we started out with meetings, then did some rallies and public actions. Now, quite a lot of people show up to meetings, and we frequently collaborate with other groups like Indivisible and the Sierra Club.”
Climate organizing in Houston is hard. Many of the city’s residents work in the oil and gas industry and the 350 group’s efforts to do outreach and education are often met with resistance. When Sandy has offered to share presentations she has been told that talking about climate change would make those in the industry “feel bad” (and in one case she was turned away by a former Exxon executive on a church committee).
Still, the 350 Houston community is working on change at a structural level. They participate on the Mayor’s Climate Action Plan committee and they are hosting candidate forums on climate for the upcoming District 7 Congressional race. Up until now, most politicians could get away with only thinking about growth and never discussing climate. People in power were warned of this disaster, they knew about the reservoirs, they knew about the dangers.
What are you hearing and experiencing?
“Right now it’s crazy. Electricity and wifi have been out, so I was disconnected from the macro-situation in my own city. There is a chemical leak right now. The big thing in front of me is that the area where I work is flooded. I live in a neighborhood that can afford good drainage. Our neighborhood put out a channel to the bayou. We have been draining really fast, which might mean that we were, in our privileged preparations, even contributing to the inability of other neighborhoods to drain out.”
“People are so generous about helping on an individual level. But to be even more helpful, let’s think about the macro situation. We’ve stepped up on the individual level but we are still not talking about climate change. If it’s too hard to talk about climate change, can we at least talk about how poorly West Houston was planned? I’ve done a lot of research to try and find common values for conversations, but people aren’t always rational. We need to be able to simultaneously hold two truths; people need jobs and climate change is real.”
Sandy grew up in a right wing and conservative community, “a conservative bubble”. She has been frustrated that the churches of Houston have been largely unwilling to talk about climate change and is interested in finding ways to bring faith leaders and people of faith into climate organizing.
When asked if people in Texas are now connecting Harvey to climate change, Sandy said that the local media has been largely silent in that regard. She was thrilled to hear today that her ally, Rice University professor and atmospheric scientist Dan Cohan had been asked by the newspaper to write about the connections between Harvey and climate change. “It is a huge breakthrough!”
How might Harvey change climate organizing in Houston?
“Harvey may be an opportunity to bring climate education to faith communities. Thus far, local evangelical thought leaders haven’t been open to talking about climate change, and we hope that this could be a new opportunity.
We have a meeting next Tuesday and maybe it will make it easier to get folks together. After Trump there was a jump in enrollment and maybe that will happen now. I grew up right wing and conservative and sometimes people need to tiptoe where they are going. People come up to me privately and say that they love my 350 Houston posts on Facebook but they aren’t yet talking about climate change publicly.
It really matters to feel the support from all over the world. We can’t just rebuild Houston like it was. Hopefully now we can more easily introduce solar panel and electric cars. Maybe this moment will be a gateway for change.
I feel hopeful. I feel the conversation shifting. Lots of people here still won’t say it (climate change) aloud. But underneath the surface dialogue, people know. Its shifting. The shift has been from ‘this isn’t true’ to ‘I believe this is real’. I can feel it.”
Isaac Evens-Frantz of Action Corp NYC: I Asked Comptroller Stringer When He’ll Be Divesting NYC From Fossil Fuel
By: Isaac Evans-Frantz, Action Corps NYC, @iefrantz
On behalf of Action Corps NYC‘s 5,800 supporters, I recently asked NYC comptroller Scott Stringer when he will divest NYC Public Worker Pension Funds from fossil fuel holdings. I told Mr. Stringer that shareholder activism is not enough. He has already divested from coal and has commissioned a study of investments in other fossil fuel.
The hard-earned pensions of our public employees should not be invested an industry that is killing people. Rather, we should invest in renewable energy and the resiliency of people bearing the brunt of climate disasters.
Twenty million people around the world are on the brink of starvation. Famines are human-made, products of weak infrastructure, poor governance, conflict, inequality.
Climate change is also part of the problem. Farmers are experiencing droughts in places like South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen. Global warming only worsens these sorts of climate problems.
Often we have often acted alone in our environmental efforts – composting, recycling, even divesting our personal funds – but public divestment is an example of wisely thinking about our collective impact. Public divestment allows all of us to work together for massive change – which is exactly what we need right now. You don’t have to have money to participate in this campaign.
The US should support frontline communities dealing with the impacts of climate change. Emergency response systems, irrigation systems, rural development, drought-resistant crops, and other interventions can help people adapt to the changing environment and build resilience. While we divest from the fossil fuel industry, we need to support these sorts of efforts. While least responsible for causing climate change, poor communities around the world experience its impact first and worst.
Action Corps NYC looks forward to working with Divest NY and the People’s Climate Movement to plan the Hurricane Sandy 5th anniversary event. We will keep speaking up, and marching, and lobbying. We will not be silent, and we will not turn our backs on our neighbors – both near and far – who bear the brunt of climate change.
Now is the time for us to lead boldly and to hold our leaders accountable in this big, beautiful world of ours.
By Nathália Clark
How do you explain to a child that we need not fear the rain when we hear that more than 1200 people died in floods caused by storms in Nepal, India and Bangladesh in recent months? How do you tell them not to be afraid the wind when we see how hurricane Harvey in the United States left at least 18 dead and dozens injured in two days during its path through the state of Texas? How can we carry as though nothing is wrong, when in Brazil 1296 cities are in a state of emergency due to extreme weather events such as droughts and floods?
How can we convince the inhabitants of the Southern Hemisphere that they will not be affected by the events taking place in the Northern Hemisphere and vice versa, when all these disasters are interconnected? How can we continue to call these “natural” phenomena, absolving ourselves from our own responsibility, when we know that human actions are the main drivers of global warming? How can we say that the world is healthy when we continue to burn fossil fuels, even though we have known for decades that they are the largest emitters of the gases that cause the greenhouse effect?
There is only one common cause for the disasters that are currently occurring in every corner of the world: climate change. With the intensification of emissions, the planet’s climate becomes warmer and warmer, deregulating the rainfall regime, affecting the level and temperature of the sea, and causing irreversible social and environmental impacts. And we humans must assume a significant share of the blame. Direct or indirectly. Whether through the actions of those who insist on using polluting sources for energy production, or through the inaction of those who do not prevent that from happening.
In South Asia, countries often suffer from floods during the monsoon season, which occurs from June to September. But international aid agencies say that this year things have gotten worse, leaving thousands of villages devastated, people homeless, and refugees far from their homes, deprived of food and clean water for days. In the United States, it is estimated that more than 6 million people are being impacted by Harvey, which has been heralded as the most powerful ‘not-so-natural’ phenomenon to hit the country in 13 years, and the most intense hurricane in Texas since 1961. More than 1,200 millimeters of rain fell in two days in Houston, the oil capital. Ironically, the country’s largest refinery, located in the Texan city of Port Arthur, had to close its doors because of the flooding.
But such powerful phenomena do not occur out of the blue. In contact with warm seas, hurricanes thrive until they become devastating storms. And the sea in Texas was between 2 and 7 degrees above its usual temperature before Harvey. That means more water evaporated during the storm and more rain fell on the coast. So it quickly grew from a tropical storm to a Category 4 hurricane, with winds of about 200 km/h. Also, as a knock-on effect, the storm force increases the sea level, which has already risen at least 30 cm since the 1960s in the Gulf of Mexico.
In Brazil, according to data released by the Ministry of National Integration, since the beginning of the year, a quarter of Brazilian municipalities have already asked for help from the federal government due to heavy rains in the south of the country and one of the most severe droughts ever recorded in the Northeast. Most emergency situations (71%) are due to drought. The remaining 29% are caused by storms, floods, and landslides.
In May, the rain in Maceió killed eight people and left thousands homeless. In Fortaleza, the drought affected 900 thousand inhabitants. The capital, Brasília, where water rationing is currently in force, has already had 100 days with no rain and has been in a state of emergency since February. In the state of Paraíba, 196 out of 223 cities are experiencing drought. The Ministry of Integration says it has transferred a total of 200 million BRL (64 million USD) to cities in a state of emergency for relief actions, humanitarian assistance, restoration of services, and recovery of damaged structures.
As can be commonly observed, climate change does not discriminate, or spare anyone anywhere in the world. Argentina, home to one of the world’s largest shale gas reserves in the Vaca Muerta region, province of Neuquén, is also suffering the impacts of climate change. In March, a strong heat wave killed dozens of calves in the province of La Pampa. According to the veterinarian who examined the dead animals on one of the region’s farms, they suffered heart attacks caused by continuous exposure to high temperatures, which reached 40oC in a season whose average is 16oC.
A warmer planet with warmer oceans means that weather events of rapid and unusual intensification are more likely, increasing the occurrence of extreme disasters, the once occasional or seasonal phenomenon becoming commonplace. It is not “natural” for millions of people to suffer the consequences of the actions of only a few, who prioritize profit over the well-being of populations. We cannot naturalize death. Be it family, neighbors or the world as we know it.
Denying or ignoring science does not prepare us physically, psychologically or financially to deal with the disasters and climatic challenges that we have experienced on a daily basis in different regions. To stop these disasters, we should stop the fossil industry now, preventing it from continuing to put coal, oil and gas above the survival of humanity.
This means that there can be no more wells to exploit these fuels, whether new or existing. It also means that the world’s governments must take responsibility for climate change by creating and implementing resilience and adaptation policies for all cities, as well as initiating an urgent transition to renewable, equitable, free, and accessible renewable energy sources, in all sectors of the economy. And this must be done immediately. Before it’s too late.
An excessively hot Gulf of Mexico and higher sea levels caused by climate change played a key role in the scale and ongoing destruction by Hurricane Harvey.
But the EPA, the federal agency most responsible for climate science, is lashing out at climate scientists trying to educate the public about the connections between Harvey and a hotter planet. Trump’s climate denial is becoming climate censorship.
Denying climate change puts people in harm’s way. Rising sea levels and stronger storms are real — and unless we take steps to keep fossil fuels in the ground and plan for a changing world, more people will lose their homes or their lives.
Millions of people in South Asia, Yemen, Niger, and beyond are being affected by flooding this week, in addition to Harvey’s overwhelming rains. This is not a coincidence, this is science. July 2017 was the hottest month ever measured on earth, raising the temperature of the Gulf of Mexico, and making Harvey wetter and stronger.
The media is beginning to pick up on the story too: the editor of the Houston Chronicle called Harvey a turning point in the climate debate, economist Jeff Sachs called on climate deniers in the Texas government to resign, and pressure is building.
Our leaders need to speak out for the truth — not punish others for telling it. With the Executive Branch controlled by climate deniers, it’s more important than ever that Congress speak up. Send a message to your Members of Congress telling them to connect the dots and condemn Trump’s climate denial.
The flood waters are still rising. This will be a long recovery. But protecting communities requires telling the truth about the threat.
Thanks for doing your part.
“Harvey should be the turning point in fighting climate change” Washington Post, August 30th.
“Sachs: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, you need to resign” CNN, August 29th.
“EPA says climate scientists trying to ‘politicize’ Texas storm,” Reuters – August 30th.
Hurricane Harvey is an unnatural disaster. The situation unfolding on Texas’ Gulf Coast is unlike anything else in history, and it is the product of both a hotter planet and this Administration’s climate denial, racism and callousness.
Over 6 million people are being affected by this storm. This is a crucial moment to support the people impacted — here are two places you can donate:
To donate to an alliance of progressive organizations that will be advocating directly for people impacted hardest by the storm, click here.
Here’s how climate change contributed to Harvey’s enormous, unnatural impacts:
- Rising sea levels. Oceans have risen by more than a foot since 1960 in the Texas Gulf Coast. That’s one more foot of storm surge that washed into homes and communities when Harvey made landfall.
- A warmer ocean means more rain. The Gulf of Mexico was anywhere from 2 to 7 degrees hotter than usual before Harvey — well above 80 degrees in total. That means more water evaporated into the storm, and more rain dumped on people on shore.
- A warmer ocean also means stronger storms. Harvey rapidly intensified from a tropical storm to a category 4 hurricane with winds above 135 miles an hour in just 48 hours. A hotter planet and a hotter ocean make this rare rapid intensification event more likely.
Denying climate science makes you unprepared for climate disasters. Here’s how Trump’s climate denial, racism and callousness are creating a truly unnatural disaster:
- Deregulating Big Oil’s toxic pollution. An environmental justice organizer with TEJAS, Bryan Parras, has reported strong, burning chemical smells coming from the refineries and chemical plants in East Houston. The Trump administration is rolling back regulations on Big Oil’s pollution, and wants to eliminate the EPA office of Environmental Justice. These are the rules meant to protect vulnerable communities on the fenceline of huge oil refineries like the ones under siege in Texas right now.
- Cutting off immigrant communities. The Immigrations and Customs Enforcement kept running deportation checkpoints in South Texas in the leadup to the storm, trapping undocumented immigrants looking for safety from Harvey’s destruction. ICE’s aggressive policing in immigrant communities in Texas has created a culture of fear that kept many families from seeking shelter in government facilities.
- Building in the path of the storm. Just last week Trump signed an executive order instructing the federal government to ignore climate change when constructing new infrastructure projects. That means he will be putting more Americans in the path of flooding like what we’re seeing now in Texas.
Rains and flooding from Harvey are expected to continue for days to come. All of our thoughts and prayers are with the communities facing this storm right now. Many people will be rebuilding for years to come.
Here is where to give if you want to support an alliance of progressive groups who will advocate for the victims of Harvey, and here’s where to give to support TEJAS, an environmental justice organization providing direct aid to communities around Houston’s oil industry affected by the storm.
Climate change is real. The people hit the hardest are often poor, people of color, or otherwise vulnerable communities. Climate change is also a choice, one that the fossil fuel industry makes over and over again, despite the consequences for people all over the world. The suffering caused by Harvey is enormous, and the time for action is now.
“How global warming likely made Harvey much worse, explained by a climatologist” Vox.com, August 28.
“Hurricane Harvey – 2017” Climate Signals, August 24.
“‘Unbearable’ petrochemical smells are reportedly drifting into Houston” The New Republic, August 28.