Alaska Natives and environmental groups are suing the Trump administration, saying it has concealed information about the effects of oil development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. "This case is about bringing transparency to what has been a rushed and secretive process to sell out a national treasure to the oil industry," said Patrick Lavin of Defenders of Wildlife.Read original story
A new report on the health impacts of climate change say it is already causing deaths, Climate change is "absolutely" already causing deaths and predicts climate-related stunting, malnutrition and lower IQ in children in the coming decades. The report cites heat stress, malnutrition, malaria and diarrhea as major concerns.Read original story
Florida's governor is expected to name the state's first chief resilience officer, to be in charge of adapting the most vulnerable state in the nation to climate change. The Miami Herald reports that the top candidate has a strong background in military and diplomacy issues but lacks obvious experience with climate change or resilience.Read original story
Russia declared a state of emergency in parts of Siberia after wildfires engulfed forest area almost the size of Belgium. The area is seeing record high temperatures as a result of climate change. Wildfires have become a problem across the boreal forests as heat waves dry out Alaska and the Arctic.Read original story
In many coastal states, flood-prone areas have seen the highest rates of home construction since 2010, a study found, suggesting that the risks of climate change have yet to fundamentally change people's behavior.Read original story
Many of the candidates participating in last night's Democratic presidential debate offered ideas about climate change. The Associated Press fact-checked their responses.Read original story
Adapted from original in Spanish, here
We began this week with great sadness at the news of another oil spill in South America – this time, in Chilean Patagonia. Nearly 40,000 liters were spilled into the sea, according to Sachurger Huachipato, a subsidiary of CAP mining company.
The causes are still unclear. The Chilean navy first claimed it was crude oil that was spilled during a fuel transfer operation – authorities later confirmed it was diesel.
The environmental crime took place 250 kilometers northeast of Puerto Natales at Guarello island, where the ancient indigenous Kaswésqar community lives. In an interview with El País, representatives from the community in the town of Puerto Edén described the spill-affected area:
“The Madre de Dios (Mother of God) archipelago is the birthplace of our elders and a place of great significance for our canoeist community. The ocean and its resources are integral to this culture. There are cave paintings of our ancestors which are very culturally and archeologically significant.”
They add that within the geographical area there are sacred taboo sites, which are specifically protected and where it is not permitted to eat or make noise, much less pollute.
“Many of these sites protect ancestral marine resources that we have protected for thousands of years. The area, in addition, is a transit zone for aquatic mammals and home to sea lion and seabird colonies, with which our community has a close biocultural bond.”
It’s horrifying each time we get news of a spill. We have so many technologies available to replace fossil fuels and make a just transition to renewable energy sources, but unfortunately families have to continue to live in contaminated areas.
We hope prosecutors will complete all the necessary investigations and that legal authorities find those responsible for the spill that will also affect the work and livelihoods of fishermen in this area of extraction.
Livia Lie – Digital campaign coordinator of 350.org Brasil and Latin America, part of the Brazil Climate Coalition for water, life, and no fracking.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works introduced a transportation bill to invest $287 billion in federal transportation projects over the next five years. The measures include a funding boost for electric vehicle charging infrastructure and some initiatives aimed at curbing emissions.Read original story
Across the Upper Midwest, populations of cisco, a small, ghostly fish, have been decimated by rising water temperatures. Over 30 years the fish, which plays a key role in Minnesota's aquatic food chain, has disappeared from more than a dozen Minnesota lakes and has lost more than half its population.Read original story
Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens' capital fund is replacing one of its crude oil investment vehicles with renewables. The fund is seizing an opportunity to invest in clean energy as fossil fuels "get pummeled" in the capital markets, Bloomberg reports.Read original story
Pacific leaders are calling on Australia to immediately stop new coal mining and to abandon plans to use carry-over credits to meet its Paris climate targets. In a statement called the Nadi Bay declaration, leaders warned that some of their countries could be uninhabitable as soon as 2030 due to climate change.Read original story
Nadi, Fiji – A ‘climate crisis’ has been declared in a special session during the 5th Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) Leaders’ Summit and first Conference, echoing the global movement declaring ‘climate emergency.’
The PIDF Leaders’ Summit had representation from 10 of the 14 member states, which are most at risk to climate breakdown such Fiji, the Solomon Islands, and Timor Leste – in addition to regional institutions such as the Pacific Islands Association of NGOs, the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO) and the University of the South Pacific (USP).
“This declaration makes clear that the current scale of the climate crisis calls for urgent action to phase out coal and other fossil fuels.,” said Fenton Lutunatabua, Regional Managing Director of 350.org in the Pacific.
“This visionary Declaration is a testament to the will of the Pacific people who have moved their politicians to show committed actions in confronting the climate crisis.”
“The collective futures of Pacific peoples depends on us being able to pushback against the fossil fuel industry fuelling this climate crisis, and towards equitable and just solutions centered on people – this is what is at the heart of this important international statement.”
The Nadi Bay Declaration on the Climate Change Crisis in the Pacific was tabled to members and outlined proposed actions to urgently increase efforts to respond to the climate crisis.
It “Recognize[s] the urgent responsibility and moral obligation of fossil fuel producers to lead in putting an end to fossil fuel development and to manage the decline of existing production and the need to ensure the phase-out of coal power to achieve the Paris climate goals…”
It calls on:
- the global community to seriously take action to urgently address the warnings of the IPCC Special Report on the dire consequences of lack of urgent actions to address climate change and sea-level rise
- all coal producers to immediately cease any new mining of coal and develop a strategy for a decadal phase-out and closure of all existing coal production;
- all parties to take immediate measures to relinquish the subsidies to fossil fuel production and use and support a transition to appropriate and affordable technologies;
- all parties to welcome the IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C, and the upcoming Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate and the Special Report on Climate Change and Land by the 25th UNFCCC Conference of Parties to meet in Santiago Chile on 2-13 December 2019;
- relevant parties to the Kyoto Protocol to refrain from using ‘carryover credits’ as abatement for the additional Paris Agreement emissions reduction targets; [seen as a blunt political statement to the Australian Government which is considering using this accounting trick.]
Read the full declaration here: Nadi Bay Declaration on the Climate Change Crisis in the Pacific
Why are so many nations now led by extravagant buffoons? Because the nature of capitalism has changed.
By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 26th July 2019
Seven years ago the brilliant impressionist Rory Bremner complained that politicians had become so boring that few of them were worth mimicking: “They’re quite homogenous and dull these days … It’s as if character is seen as a liability.” Today, his profession has the opposite problem: however extreme satire becomes, it struggles to keep pace with reality. The political sphere, so dull and grey a few years ago, is now populated by preposterous exhibitionists.
This trend is not confined to the UK – everywhere the killer clowns are taking over. Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, Donald Trump, Narendra Modi, Jair Bolsonaro, Scott Morrison, Rodrigo Duterte, Matteo Salvini, Recep Erdogan, Viktor Orban and a host of other ludicrous strongmen – or weakmen as they so often turn out to be – dominate nations that would once have laughed them off stage. The question is why? Why are the deathly technocrats who held sway almost everywhere a few years ago giving way to extravagant buffoons?
Social media, which is an incubator of absurdity, is certainly part of the story. But while there has been plenty of good work investigating the means, there has been surprisingly little thinking about the ends. Why are the ultra-rich, who until recently used their money and newspapers to promote charisma-free politicians, now funding this circus? Why would capital wish to be represented by middle managers one moment and jesters the next?
The reason, I believe, is that the nature of capitalism has changed. The dominant force of the 1990s and early 2000s – corporate power – demanded technocratic government. It wanted people who could simultaneously run a competent, secure state and protect profits from democratic change. In 2012, when Rory Bremner made his complaint, power was already shifting to a different place, but politics had not caught up.
The policies that were supposed to promote enterprise – slashing taxes for the rich, ripping down public protections, destroying trade unions – instead stimulated a powerful spiral of patrimonial wealth accumulation. The largest fortunes are now made not through entrepreneurial brilliance but through inheritance, monopoly and rent-seeking: securing exclusive control of crucial assets, such as land and buildings, privatised utilities and intellectual property, and assembling service monopolies such as trading hubs, software and social media platforms, then charging user fees far higher than the costs of production and delivery. In Russia, people who enrich themselves this way are called oligarchs. But this is not a Russian phenomenon, it is a global one. Corporate power still exists, but today it is overlain by – and is mutating into – oligarchic power.
What the oligarchs want is not the same as what the old corporations wanted. In the words of their favoured theorist Stephen Bannon, they seek the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” Chaos is the profit multiplier for the disaster capitalism on which the new billionaires thrive. Every rupture is used to seize more of the assets on which our lives depend. The chaos of an undeliverable Brexit, the repeated meltdowns and shutdowns of government under Trump: these are the kind of deconstructions Bannon foresaw. As institutions, rules and democratic oversight implode, the oligarchs extend their wealth and power at our expense.
The killer clowns offer the oligarchs something else too: distraction and deflection. While the kleptocrats fleece us, we are urged to look elsewhere. We are mesmerised by buffoons, who encourage us to channel the anger that should be reserved for billionaires towards immigrants, women, Jews, Muslims, people of colour and other imaginary enemies and customary scapegoats. Just as it was in the 1930s, the new demagoguery is a con, a revolt against the impacts of capital, financed by capitalists.
The oligarch’s interests always lie offshore: in tax havens and secrecy regimes. Paradoxically, these interests are best promoted by nationalists and nativists. The politicians who most loudly proclaim their patriotism and defence of sovereignty are always the first to sell their nations down the river. It is no coincidence that most of the newspapers promoting the nativist agenda, whipping up hatred against immigrants and thundering about sovereignty, are owned by billionaire tax exiles, living offshore.
As economic life has been offshored, so has political life. The political rules that are supposed to prevent foreign money from funding domestic politics have collapsed. The main beneficiaries are the self-proclaimed defenders of sovereignty, who rise to power with the help of social media ads bought by persons unknown, and thinktanks and lobbyists that refuse to reveal their funders. A recent essay by the academics Reijer Hendrikse and Rodrigo Fernandez argues that offshore finance involves “the rampant unbundling and commercialisation of state sovereignty” and the shifting of power into a secretive, extraterritorial legal space, beyond the control of any state. In this offshore world, they contend, “financialised and hypermobile global capital effectively is the state.”
Today’s billionaires are the real citizens of nowhere. They fantasise, like the plutocrats in Ayn Rand’s terrible novel Atlas Shrugged, about further escape. Look at the “seasteading” venture funded by Paypal’s founder Peter Thiel, that sought to build artificial islands in the middle of the ocean, whose citizens could enact a libertarian fantasy of escape from the state, its laws, regulations and taxes, and from organised labour. Scarcely a month goes by without a billionaire raising the prospect of leaving the Earth altogether, and colonising space pods or other planets.
Those whose identity is offshore seek only to travel further offshore. To them, the nation state is both facilitator and encumbrance, source of wealth and imposer of tax, pool of cheap labour and seething mass of ungrateful plebs, from whom they must flee, leaving the wretched earthlings to their well-deserved fate.
Defending ourselves from these disasters means taxing oligarchy to oblivion. It’s easy to get hooked up on discussions about what tax level maximises the generation of revenue. There are endless arguments about the Laffer curve, that purports to show where this level lies. But these discussions overlook something crucial: raising revenue is only one of the purposes of tax. Another is breaking the spiral of patrimonial wealth accumulation.
Breaking this spiral is a democratic necessity: otherwise the oligarchs, as we have seen, come to dominate national and international life. The spiral does not stop by itself: only government action can do it. This is one of the reasons why, during the 1940s, the top rate of income tax in the US rose to 94%, and in the UK to 98%. A fair society requires periodic corrections on this scale. But these days the steepest taxes would be better aimed at accumulated unearned wealth.
Of course, the offshore world the billionaires have created makes such bold policies extremely difficult: this, after all, is one of its purposes. But at least we know what the aim should be, and can begin to see the scale of the challenge. To fight something, first we need to understand it.
Tonight begins the second set of Democratic presidential debates. The first debates devoted just 15 minutes to climate issues. Prepare for the next round by reading our collection of profiles of candidates' views on climate change.Read original story
ICN reporter Sabrina Shankman tested the air quality home and wrote about the experience in the third episode of an ongoing first-person series about South Portland families responding to air quality concerns. A recent EPA report said that an energy supply company had been violating its emissions permit since at least 2013; the amount of volatile organic compounds being emitted was reportedly more than double what was permitted.Read original story
Colorado and major automakers say they have reached a deal on the state's plan to adopt California's zero-emission vehicle requirements. Two auto trade groups representing 99 percent of U.S. car and truck sales, including General Motors, Volkswagen, Toyota and Hyundai, said the state agreed to address concerns "by providing the support Coloradans need to buy electric vehicles while allowing auto manufacturers to transition into Colorado's ZEV program."Read original story
Democrats Swore Off Donations from Lobbyists and Fossil Fuel Execs. But Some Are Skirting Their Own Rules.
Some Democratic presidential candidates who vowed not to accept money from the fossil fuel industry — a major contributor to climate change — did so anyway. Caveats in rules like the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge allowed candidates to accept donations in smaller amounts and from high-level officials outside of the pledge parameters.Read original story