Portuguese Children To Sue European Govs Over Climate Change

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By Staff of The Herald – Seven children are to sue European governments in a landmark lawsuit over the impact that climate change is having on their lives. The Portuguese youngsters, some from the Leiria region which has been devastated by wildfires twice this year, are seeking a ruling to force 47 countries to dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions. And they want the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg to order nations to keep remaining fossil fuel reserves in the ground. One of the children spearheading the unprecedented case is 18-year-old Claudia from the Leiria district, who said older generations have a responsibility to stop releasing dangerous pollution. “What worries me the most about climate change is the rise in temperatures, which has contributed to the number of fires taking place in our country,” she said. Claudia said she is taking the case “for the children and for the future generations who are not responsible for the current state of the environment”. Three days of national mourning are being held in Portugal after scores of people died as deadly forest fires twice hit the country this year. Outbreaks in June claimed 64 lives and another 41 are believed to have been killed in the last week after winds associated with Storm Ophelia fanned flames sparked in drought-like conditions.

Minnesota Judge Allows Climate Necessity Defense In Upcoming

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By Stephen Kent for Shut It Down – While this is not the first time a court has approved presentation of the necessity defense in a criminal trial of a climate activist, the ruling is a milestone that will have far-reaching implications. “Only a few courts have allowed presentation of the climate necessity defense, and until Friday, no judge in a jury trial in the United States had recognized the defense in writing,” according to a statement from the Climate Defense Project, a legal nonprofit that provided pre-trial briefing and is part of the defendants’ legal team. The defendants are climate activists who sought to prevent climate damage by stopping the flow of carbon-intensive tar sands. “Valve-turners” Emily Johnston and Annette Klapstein closed safety block valves on Enbridge pipelines in Clearwater County, Minnesota, on October 11, 2016 as part of the coordinated “Shut It Down” climate direct action, which disrupted all five pipelines bringing carbon-intensive tar sands crude from Canada to the United States. Two other defendants face criminal charges for documenting Johnston and Klapstein’s action: videographer Steve Liptay and support person Ben Joldersma. They have also been granted permission to present a necessity defense, and will be tried separately from Johnston and Klapstein.

Radically Changing How We Face Food Insecurity And Climate Change

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By Josianne Gauthi the Secretary General CIDSE – What we need is a profound and radical transformation, or dare we say, conversion of the world food system. Around the world, people are migrating within and across borders, and for many of them, hunger and food insecurity are driving them. We know that climate change, conflict, and political instability are adversely affecting food security, but if communities are still facing hunger today it is because of the flawed and damaging way in which we produce and distribute food around the world. Indeed, at the heart of the problem, and perhaps the solution, is our very relationship to food and the land it grows on. Food insecurity is largely driven by a food system that is highly controlled by agribusiness, believed to be the only model capable of producing large volumes of food – and waste. But more food is not the same as less hunger! The figures are clear: in 2016 the number of undernourished people in the world came to an estimated 815 million—from 777 million people in 2015. In addition, 75% of the world’s poor rely on agriculture and natural resources for their livelihoods yet, despite this, they are also the most food insecure, leading many to migrate to urban areas or other countries in search for better living conditions with great uncertainty for their own and their children’s futures. Hunger is not diminishing, it is increasing. We must be tackling its root causes, not increasing production.

Whistleblower Quits With Scathing Letter Over Trump Interior Dept. Leadership

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By Sabrina Shankman for Inside Climate Change – A senior Interior Department official announced his resignation on Wednesday, accusing the Trump administration of poor leadership, wasting taxpayer dollars and failing to address climate change. Joel Clement’s resignation comes four months after he invoked the protections of whistleblower law for what he said was an illegal attempt by the department’s leaders to intimidate him for speaking out about climate change. “You and President Trump have waged an all-out assault on the civil service by muzzling scientists and policy experts like myself,” Clement wrote in his resignation letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. “You have disrespected the career staff of the Department by questioning their loyalty, and you have played fast and loose with government regulations to score points with your political base at the expense of American health and safety.” In the letter, Clement listed some of the groups of Americans who are reckoning with the impacts of climate change—including families and businesses in the path of hurricanes and flooding, the fishermen and farmers coping with new realities, medical professionals working to understand new diseases—and issued a warning.

The Brutal Racial Politics Of Climate Change And Pollution

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By Basav Sen for Foreign Policy In Focus – As I watched coverage of Harvey’s flood damage in Houston, Irma’s wreckage in the Caribbean, the devastating record monsoons in South Asia, and the fresh nightmares of Hurricane Maria, I thought back to another place: Charlottesville, where racists openly rallied to their cause—and were later defended by the president. To explain why, let me point back to one of the least known—yet most outrageous—of the Trump administration’s early policy proposals: the proposed elimination of the Environmental Justice program at the EPA. While the division still exists for now, it has no more grants available for the current fiscal year, and its future is in limbo. Environmental justice is the principle that people of color and poor people have historically faced greater harm from environmental damage, so special efforts should be made to prioritize their access to clean air and water. The environmental justice program gave small grants to communities struggling with these disparate pollution impacts. Its budget was small—just $6.7 million out of the prior year’s EPA budget of $8 billion, or less than one-tenth of 1 percent. Clearly, the proposed cut wasn’t about saving money. Instead, it points to a more sinister agenda—especially when paired with other planks of the administration’s environmental platform.

Poll: Most Americans Want Government To Fight Climate Change

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By Timothy Cama for The Hill – More than 6 in 10 Americans believe that climate change is a problem that the federal government needs to address, according to a new poll. The poll, conducted in August by The Associated Press-NORC Center and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, found a large majority of Americans in both major parties believe that climate change is happening. But Americans’ opinions are less clear when it comes to what action they feel should be taken. Just 51 percent of respondents were willing to pay $1 a month to combat global warming, a figure that dropped to 18 percent when the prospective monthly fee increased to $100. “These results put the polarized climate debate in sharp relief, but also point to the possibility of a path forward,” Michael Greenstone, director of the Energy Policy Institute, said in a statement accompanying its Monday release. “Although half of households said they were unwilling to pay anything for a carbon policy in their monthly electricity bills, on average Americans would pay about $30 per month, as a meaningful share of households report that they are willing to pay a substantial amount,” he said. “So, while the raw economics appears to be less and less of a problem, the open question is whether it is feasible to devise a robust climate policy that accommodates these very divergent viewpoints.” Opinions were not entirely clear on hot-button climate policy issues, either. Only 17 percent of respondents said they support fracking. But if the pollster said it would save the respondent significantly on natural gas bill, support averaged 41 percent.

Most Powerful Evidence Climate Scientists Have Of Global Warming

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By Sabrina Shankman and Paul Horn for Inside Climate News – Earth’s temperature is rising, and it isn’t just in the air around us. More than 90 percent of the excess heat trapped by greenhouse gas emissions has been absorbed into the oceans that cover two-thirds of the planet’s surface. Their temperature is rising, too, and it tells a story of how humans are changing the planet. This accrued heat is “really the memory of past climate change,” said Kevin Trenberth, the head of climate analysis at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and co-author of a new paper on ocean warming. It’s not just the amount of warming that is significant—it’s also the pace. The rate at which the oceans are heating up has nearly doubled since 1992, and that heat is reaching ever deeper waters, according to a recent study. At the same time, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have been rising. The charts that follow show how the oceans are changing and what they’re telling us as a thermometer of global warming.

Organic Farms Could Help Fight Climate Change

Local workers pick organically grown squash and zucchini at the Clear Brook Farm in Vermont. The farm was started in 1995 by Andrew Knafel and cultivates 25 to 30 acres (10 to 12 hectares) of its more than 200-acre (81-hectare) property. ROBERT NICKELSBERG/GETTY IMAGES

By Shaun Chavis for How Stuff Works – Agriculture is one of the more significant contributors to global warming. Nitrogen-based fertilizers and farm animals generate greenhouse gases, including methane and nitrous oxide. Conventional farming depletes soilof carbon, while planting and managing forests can help offset carbon emissions. But a new study shows that organic farming fights climate change by trapping temperature-raising carbon in soil, keeping it from contributing to the greenhouse effect. Organic farming can also help offset carbon by storing it in soil. The study is published in the Oct. 1 issue of the journal Advances in Agronomy. The research was conducted by scientists at Northeastern University’s National Soil Project, in partnership with The Organic Center. They gathered more than 650 topsoil samples from organic farmers in 39 U.S. states and compared those samples with more than 725 conventional soil samples from the continental U.S. The results showed soil from organic farms is 26 percent better at retaining carbon — and retaining it for longer periods of time — than soil that’s farmed with conventional methods and synthetic fertilizers. Here’s why: The matter that organic farmers use, such as compost, green manure, animal matter and others — as well as the living things in healthy soil, such as microorganisms, earthworms and other components — gives soil humic acids.

Early Estimate For Hurricanes, Wildfires At $300 Billion

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By Sabrina Shankman for Inside Climate News. The devastation from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria—plus dozens of wildfires that raged across the West in early August—could result in the costliest string of weather events in U.S. history, according to a new report. Over the course of a few weeks, the hurricanes and wildfires left a trail of damage that could add up to nearly $300 billion, according to early estimates from the authors of “The Economic Case for Climate Action in the United States,” a report released on Wednesday by the nonprofit Universal Ecological Fund. If they’re right, the cost of the damage would be equivalent to nearly half the president’s proposed 2018 budget for the Department of Defense.

U.S. Courts Taking Climate Change Seriously

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By Robert M. Thorson for Hartford Courant – Hallelujah! The third branch of the federal government, the appointed judicial branch, is finally getting serious about climate science. No longer can the elected executive branch and the elected legislative branches cave in to popular pressure to avoid the inconvenient truth that climate change adaptations will be hugely expensive. My hope is that the lawsuits that will surely follow Hurricanes Maria, Jose, Irma and Harvey will help normalize the idea that “government can be legally accountable for failure to prevent foreseeable harms to its citizens.” That quote comes from a hot-off-the-press column published in the Sept. 8 issue of Science, “Science in litigation, the third branch of U.S. climate policy.” The quote describes a ruling by a Dutch court that forced the Dutch government to take steps to reduce greenhouse emissions to reduce imminent dangers to its citizens. Meanwhile, back in the United States, many agency heads in the present administration are either climate deniers or climate demurrers. By executive order, we are pulling out of the Paris climate accord and have tossed out “the mandate of the previous administration to “consider climate change in infrastructure planning.” We’ve also withdrawn “guidance to federal agencies … on how to incorporate climate considerations” into National Environmental Policy Act analysis.

Elders Demonstrate Against Mine In Rocking Chairs

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By Elders Rising. SALT LAKE CITY – Tuesday morning, September 26, organizers from Elders Rising called for land restoration and inter-generational justice at the PR Spring tar sands mine in eastern Utah. While sitting in rocking chairs outside the mine, seniors sang songs and held banners to bring attention to US Oil Sands’ destruction of nearly a hundred acres in the Book Cliffs, endangerment of the Colorado River Basin, and contribution to climate chaos. “As a mother and grandmother, I am here to look straight at the destruction of our land in Utah in the pursuit of boom and bust profit from mining tar sands, the dirtiest fuel on this planet,” said Joan Gregory, a member of Elders Rising.

Hurricane Survivors Occupy Senator McConnell’s Office

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By 350.org. WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, a delegation of survivors of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma occupied Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office on Capitol Hill, demanding he acknowledge the role of climate change and the fossil fuel economy in making these storms worse. The delegation was led by members of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (t.e.j.a.s.) and the New Florida Majority as leaders in their communities fighting for climate justice. These leaders called for action from lawmakers at the scale of the climate crisis, including a commitment to 100% clean energy, stopping new fossil fuel projects, and a just and equitable energy transformation.

Ottawa Round Of Secret NAFTA Negotiations Threatens Climate Regulation

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By Staff of Friends of the Earth – Prime Minister Trudeau seeks to preserve a “reformed” but still environmentally dangerous investment chapter in NAFTA. Canada has faced 38 NAFTA Chapter 11 Investor-State Dispute Settlement cases – from an early challenge to Canada’s right to regulate environmentally harmful additives to gasoline through to a current challenge by a U.S. affiliate of Lone Star, a Canadian fossil fuel company suing Canada for $250 million because Quebec imposed a moratorium on fracking under the St. Lawrence River. Trudeau is also seeking a new “regulatory reform” chapter in NAFTA, which would hobble climate and other environmental regulations. This would encourage the fossil fuel industry to continue to file NAFTA investment suits for billions of dollars if climate regulations interfere with their expected future profits. These investor-state provisions must be removed. Together, Friends of the Earth Canada and Friends of the Earth U.S. demand that Donald Trump, Justin Trudeau and Enrique Peña Nieto change course.

Climate Change Brings Socialism And Science Together

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By Eve Ottenberg for Truthout – Thanks to climate change, science and socialism have become entwined in ways previously unimaginable. Science brings the news that, unless we act swiftly to control climate change, we will inhabit a dying planet. Socialism traces the causes of this catastrophe to the destructive and chaotic growth model of capitalism and advocates for a different system. Meanwhile, sensing the source of danger to their profits, corporate and government reactionaries fuel disinformation campaigns to discredit science and confuse the public. This has been going on for years, with disastrous results. Ian Angus’ new book, A Redder Shade of Green, (red for socialist revolution, green for ecological revolution) is about the prospect of ecosocialism in the face of capitalist ecocide. Angus has written previously about the “Anthropocene,” a name for our era that emphasizes the centrality of human-influenced climate change. He does not accuse humanity as a whole of environmental destruction, but only a small sliver of humanity — the capitalist class, which has left a gigantic, planet-sized carbon footprint. Angus repeatedly stresses that billions of people have a negligible impact on climate change and that the overpopulation argument — which blames humanity as a whole for climate change — has been used to distract and undermine an effective, ecosocialist movement. The US military has a hugely destructive impact on the environment.

San Francisco, Oakland Sue Oil Giant Over Climate Change

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By Inside Climate News. San Francisco and Oakland sued five major oil companies in the state courts on Wednesday in the latest attempts to hold fossil fuel producers accountable for the effects of climate change. The parallel lawsuits call for the companies to pay what could become billions of dollars into a fund for the coastal infrastructure necessary to protect property and neighborhoods against sea level rise in the sister cities, which face each other across San Francisco Bay. The moves follow similar lawsuits filed against 37 fossil fuel companies earlier this summer by three other coastal California communities at risk from sea level rise.