By Lorraine Chow for Eco Watch – As the Trump administration works to dismantle environmental regulations protecting American waterways, New Zealand has recognized the Whanganui River as a legal person. On Wednesday, New Zealand Parliament passed the Te Awa Tupua Bill which states that the river is “an indivisible and living whole,” making it the world’s first river to be given this special designation. The river has been granted the ability to represent itself through human representatives, one appointed by the Whanganui Iwi (Maori people) and one by the Crown (government of New Zealand), Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson explained to Newshub.
By Kelly Clancy for Nautilis – But we know now that that picture is incomplete. Evolutionary progress can be propelled both by the competitive struggle to adapt to an environment, and by the relaxation of selective forces. When natural selection on an organism is relaxed, the creative powers of mutation can be unshackled and evolution accelerated. The relief of an easier life can inspire new biological forms just as powerfully as the threat of death. One of the best ways to relax selective forces is to work together, something that mathematical biologist Martin Nowak has called the “snuggle for survival.” New research has only deepened and broadened the importance of cooperation and lifting of selective pressures.
By The Campaign to Stop GE Trees. Chile – On March 22nd, World Water Day, the international delegation of the Campaign to STOP GE Trees, the Landless Workers Movement (MST), CEPEDES* and OLCA** presented at the University of Concepción in Concepción, Chile. The all-woman panel reported on the devastating impacts of tree plantations on water, life and communities in Brazil, the danger of GE trees internationally, and the state of GE trees in Chile. This is a critical moment for Concepción, as forest fires have ripped through much of the region, destroying towns, forests, and tree plantations. Concepción is in the Bio-Bio region where 50% of Chile’s tree plantations are grown. Over the last couple of months, tree plantations aided the spread of the wildfires and for the first time in history, marches against the tree plantation industry occurred throughout the country on March 14th 2017.
BY Lauren Macauley for Commondreams. Colorado – A group of Colorado teenagers scored a “huge” victory against the state’s fracking industry on Thursday when a three-judge panel ruled that the health of citizens and environment takes precedence over oil and gas interests. The decision, handed down by the Colorado Court of Appeals on Thursday, requires that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) consider a petition from six youth plaintiffs, which asks the board to suspend the issuance of fracking permits “until it can be done without adversely impacting human health and safety and without impairing Colorado’s atmospheric resource and climate system, water, soil, wildlife, and other biological resources.” Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, 16-year-old plaintiff and youth director of the Boulder-based Earth Guardians, declared after the ruling: “Our movement to fight for the rights of people and our environment is evolving.
By John Zangas for DC Media Group – Environmental groups rallied at the White House Friday afternoon in a new commitment to do whatever it takes to stop the Keystone XL pipeline. The call to action came as the Trump administration issued permission to restart the pipeline, a project which was considered defeated in November 2015, when Obama rejected final approval of the State Department permits. The project was previously the focus of an epic six-year battle between TransCanada Corporation and hundreds of environmental groups, between 2010-2015, which grew out of grassroots organizing and into a major environmental movement. The battle was waged with a broad range of groups, including Indigenous people, students, clergy, green groups and involved legal challenges.
By David Roberts for Grist. Environmentalists these days love speaking in the language of economics — it makes them sound Serious — but I worry that wrapping this notion in a bloodless technical term tends to have a narcotizing effect. It brings to mind incrementalism: boost a few taxes here, tighten a regulation there, and the industrial juggernaut can keep right on chugging. However, if we take the idea seriously, not just as an accounting phenomenon but as a deep description of current human practices, its implications are positively revolutionary. To see what I mean, check out a recent report [PDF] done by environmental consultancy Trucost on behalf of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) program sponsored by United Nations Environmental Program. TEEB asked Trucost to tally up the total “unpriced natural capital” consumed by the world’s top industrial sectors.
By Phil McKenna for Inside Climate News – The head of the environmental justice program at the Environmental Protection Agency has stepped down, departing the government with a lengthy letter to Scott Pruitt, the EPA’s new administrator, urging him not to kill the agency’s programs. Mustafa Ali, a senior adviser and assistant associate administrator at the agency, worked to alleviate the impact of air, water and industrial pollution on poverty-stricken towns and neighborhoods during nearly a quarter century with the EPA. He helped found the environmental justice office, then the environmental equity office, in 1992, during the presidency of President George H.W. Bush.
Responding to two letters sent by members of Congress urging President Donald Trump to prioritize nominating candidates for vacant Commissioner seats at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in order to restore the necessary voting quorum, 136 organizations representing communities in all 50 states sent a strong letter of rebuke to the Congressional signers of the letters. The two letters, dated February 22, 2017, were signed by a group of 14 House Democrats on one and 92 additional members of Congress on the other. The letters urged Mr. Trump to put forth the nominations in order to restore the FERC Commissioner quorum necessary to take formal action on energy issues. In addition to urging swift action by the President, on one of the letters the Congressional members promised “to do our part”, suggesting that they would likewise take swift action to approve nominees put forth by the President.
By the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition. Houghton, MI — Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC) members and supporters are expressing outrage and frustration following news that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issued a surface use permit authorizing Orvana Resources – a subsidiary of Highland Copper – to begin exploratory drilling in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. According to the DNR, drilling began Sunday, before the agency’s press release had even been published. The Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is well known for its hiking trails, rugged terrain, old growth forests, miles of wild and scenic Lake Superior shoreline, wilderness campsites, rivers, lakes and waterfalls. “The sulfide mining industry is leading the State of Michigan around by a leash….”
By Lauren McCauley for Common Dreams – Offering some hope that “reality” will prevail in a political climate seemingly bent on climate destruction, a Washington state jury on Wednesday failed to convict activist Ken Ward on two felony counts stemming from an act of civil disobedience against the fossil fuel industry. The Climate Disobedience Center, which Ward co-founded, declared the mistrial “a resounding recognition of the threat of climate change,” noting that one or more jurors refused to convict Ward on charges of sabotage and burglary for breaking into and shutting down a Kinder Morgan pipeline near Anacortes, Washington last year. Alternately, they were persuaded by his argument that he had acted out of necessity, in defense of the planet.
By Kevin Zeese for Popular Resistance. On Thursday afternoon the protests grew filling the streets of downtown Philadelphia when Trump arrived at noon. People were protesting a host of extreme right wing issues that Trump and the GOP are pursuing including immigration, healthcare, women’s rights, the drug war and civil liberties, urged tolerance and love as an antidote to hate. Thousands of people filled city blocks around the Loews Hotel. People also protested his executive orders that seek to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone Pipeline as well as Trump’s threats to the environment.
By Staff of Indian Country Media Network. “Bears Ears has been home to Hopi, Navajo, Ute Indian Tribe, Ute Mountain Ute, and Zuni for countless generations,” the coalition said. “Our ancestors lived, hunted, gathered, prayed, and built civilizations here, and it remains vital today as a place of subsistence and spirituality. Our oral traditions speak of this area, and of certain spiritual resources found only there. The protection of the Bears Ears cultural landscape is powerful medicine for healing—of the land, of plants and animals, and for all people. The Bears Ears National Monument will also ensure continued access to tribal ceremonies, firewood and herb collection, hunting, grazing and outdoor recreation.”
By Brian Bienkowski for Environmental Health News – A historic year for environmental justice saw government failures in Flint, a resurgent Native voice, and a merging of movements. We’re watching where it’s headed in the new year. There I was in a mid-March snowstorm riding shotgun in a truck heading south through the Crow reservation in Montana. I made a stupid comment to break the silence: “Man, there is nothing out there.” Crow member and my guide for the day, Emery Three Irons, politely corrected me: “There’s a lot out there.” I saw an empty vastness. Three Irons saw a landscape of history and culture, and all of the splendor and pain attached to both.
By Richard Falk for Global Justice in the 21st Century – My concerns have concentrated upon the ethical, legal, and philosophical dimensions of international political behavior. From a disciplinary orientation there was almost no attention given to Earth Jurisprudence perspectives beyond occasional concerns for local pollution issues until the 1970s when there was a sudden surge of interest associated with limits on the earth’s capacity to deal with a variety of pressures caused by global industrial growth and demographic trends. The publication of Limits to Growth became a major event, anticipating the need for drastic changes in consumption patterns, industrial behavior…
By Staff of Climate and Capitalism – Mr. President of Brazil Fernando Collor de Melo; Mr. UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali; Your Excellencies; An important biological species is in danger of disappearing due to the fast and progressive destruction of its natural living conditions: humanity. We have become aware of this problem when it is almost too late to stop it. It is necessary to point out that consumer societies are fundamentally responsible for the brutal destruction of the environment. They arose from the old colonial powers and from imperialist policies which in turn engendered the backwardness and poverty which today afflicts the vast majority of mankind.