Borneo (Kalimantan): A Frontline For Survival Of Our Planet

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By Andre Vltchek for Counter Currents – But after visiting Borneo earlier this year (2017), something changed inside me. The island used to be one of the most beautiful places on earth, covered by impenetrable tropical forests, high mountains, and mighty rivers. Its many kingdoms and cultures were self-sufficient and thoroughly unique. Thousands of animal species were coexisting in harmony, sharing the living space with other creatures like birds, butterflies and rare plants, trees and flowers. It was a magic, gentle and pure world…And it was all not so long ago. Many things are even documented by stunning old photographs…Then, Western colonialism changed, basically ruined everything; as it had ruined everything almost everything, all over the world. Dutch and British invaders, showing no respect and no interest in local people and their habitat, began doing here what they have been doing everywhere for centuries: plundering, stealing, cutting down trees, extracting riches from under the earth, enslaving the locals. Later on, after semi-independence, the West corrupted local elites and introduced savage capitalism onto basicallythe entire island of Borneo.

Hot, Dry And Worrisome: 2016 Was A Record-Breaking Year For Climate

Drought was a frequent problem around the world in 2016, the annual State of the Climate report shows. This summer, Montana has been dealing with more crop-damaging drought. Credit: Scott Olson/Getty

By Georgina Gustin for Inside Climate News – Global scientists relied on the typical superlatives to describe the state of the climate in 2016, but they might have come up with a few neologisms as well. It was not only the hottest year on record, but one of the droughtiest, high-tidiest and altogether worryingest. Driven by the inexorable warming brought on by record concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and vaulted even higher into the record books by the effects of a powerful El Niño, the signals of climate change were unmistakeable and remarkably diverse, the authoritative annual review, State of the Climate in 2016, shows. Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the main blanket of gases warming the planet, increased by the largest year-to-year jump in the six decades of measurement and surpassed 400 parts per million for the first time as an annual average. Sea level rise has been accelerating over time and hit another record in 2016, according to the report. The global oceans have been going up an average of .13 inches a year for two decades and were, on average, 3.25 inches higher last year than in 1993. Sea surface temperatures also hit a record high in 2016.

Federal Scientists’ Startling Climate Report Released Before Trump Can Bury It

Climate change earth melting. Source Bruce Rolff, Shutterstock

By Chris D’Angelo for THe Huffington Post – WASHINGTON — Government scientists agree that, contrary to President Donald Trumpand his team’s repeated claims, climate change is already having a dramatic effect in the U.S., according to a new report. The New York Times published an unreleased draft of the report Monday. The 543-page report was written by scientists from 13 federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It concludes that temperatures in the U.S. have risen sharply, by 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit, over the last 150 years and that it is “extremely likely that most of the global mean temperature increase since 1951 was caused by human influence on climate.” “Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans,” the report states. “Thousands of studies conducted by tens of thousands of scientists around the world have documented changes in surface, atmospheric, and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; disappearing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; rising sea level; and an increase in atmospheric water vapor.

Top Official Resigns From Trump EPA With Scathing Letter

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By Ryan Grenoble for The Huffington Post – In her 40 years working in environmental protection, Elizabeth “Betsy” Southerland has confronted all manner of environmental threats. But even she has her limits. Faced with the stark new environmental policies ushered in by President Donald Trump and Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, Southerland resigned from the agency Monday, where’d she’d been working as the director of science and technology in the Office of Water. Southerland explained her decision in a farewell letter published Tuesday by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a non-profit group for federal resource professionals. “Today the environmental field is suffering from the temporary triumph of myth over truth,” she wrote. “The truth is there is NO war on coal, there is NO economic crisis caused by environmental protection, and climate change IS caused by man’s activities.” Southerland joins several other dissenting federal environmental officials who have publicly chastised the Trump administration’s environmental approach, which has been defined thus far largely by reducing federal oversight and overturning landmark Obama-era EPA rulings.

Arrests: Forests Are For Picnics Not For Pipelines

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By the Sugar Shack Alliance. Massachusetts – It was a beautiful day for picnics in Otis State Forest on Saturday, as the non-violent direct action group Sugar Shack Alliance hosted a large public rally at Lower Spectacle Pond in Sandisfield, Massachusetts. As the rally was happening, an entirely different kind of picnic, a well-coordinated act of civil disobedience was unfolding along the construction easement of the $93 million Kinder Morgan Connecticut Expansion pipeline project, culminating in 22 arrests. Despite the temporary police closure of Cold Spring Road, about 80 people gathered at 10:00 a.m. at the glistening Lower Spectacle Pond to reaffirm the need for solidarity against fossil fuel infrastructure across the country. Speakers included Susan Baxter, an affected Sandisfield land-owner; Anthony Melting Tallow and Karyn Redwolf; Martha Klein from the CT Sierra Club; and Ian Jackson of the Green Party.

Judge Orders Halt On All Mariner East 2 Drilling

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By Staff for Clean Air Council – (PHILADELPHIA, PA – July 25, 2017) On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board granted the petition of Clean Air Council, Mountain Watershed Association, Inc., and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network to halt all drilling operations associated with the construction of the Mariner East 2 natural gas liquids pipelines. This ruling comes after last week’s filing which disclosed 61 drilling fluid spills and water contamination in multiple Pennsylvania regions. After hearing the argument about drilling spills and water well contamination from Sunoco’s drilling operations for the Mariner East 2 pipeline, the Environmental Hearing Board issued an order stating, “it is hereby ordered that the Appellants’ application for a temporary partial supersedeas is granted.” “Residents living along the route of the pipeline have been assailed over the last few months by drilling spills and damage to water wells and water quality due to Sunoco’s reckless drilling,” said Joseph Otis Minott, Executive Director and Chief Counsel for Clean Air Council. “Today’s decision provides residents with much-needed protection over the next two weeks.”

The Campaign To Clean-Up The Ongoing US Fukushima

Charmaine White Face, an environmental scientist, recently won a Giraffe Award for her efforts to battle corruption and uranium pollution over the last 30 years.
Josh Morgan, Journal staff

By Max B. O’Connell for Rapid City Journal – It takes a lot of courage to stick your neck out, but one Rapid City resident has been dubbed a hero for doing just that. Charmaine White Face, an Oglala Sioux scientist, environmentalist and activist, has been named a Giraffe Hero by the Giraffe Heroes Project, a nonprofit organization that encourages people to “stick their necks out for the common good.” White Face, who learned of the honor just days before it was announced last Wednesday, was surprised. “I knew someone had nominated me, but I didn’t expect it,” White Face said. “And I’m glad, but I knew all of the reasons I was nominated, and there’s far more that happened than anyone knows.” White Face, 69, was chosen for her battles against corruption within tribal governments, as well as her fight against uranium mining in the Black Hills. Her work has been met with threats as well as plaudits: White Face said that the brakes to her car have been cut, and that people have told her to “watch out” or a bomb would be placed in her car. “That’s why I have mixed feelings about this, because there’s trauma that comes with my work,” White Face said. “I still have residue of that.” White Face’s fights began in the 1980s as she tried to uncover corruption within the tribal governments. At the time, she was the treasurer of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. “I saw all of the corruption and misuse of federal money,” White Face said. “Different programs like Head Start and elderly meals programs had money being used to pay people off, and that left people in poverty.”

Letter to the Editor Campaign: NAFTA IS NOT FOR US

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The Trump administration’s NAFTA negotiation objectives show more clearly than ever that this agreement will not be made for us or by us. The thousands of comments submitted by the trade justice movement have been ignored as the objectives resemble the language and sentiment of the original NAFTA and defeated TPP goals. We cannot let corporations and their political representatives decide our fate. Our communities need to know that this NAFTA IS NOT FOR US. Join our letter to the editor campaign, our resistance to NAFTA must go viral!

Environmental Defenders Being Killed In Record Numbers Globally

Activists call for justice in the case of Honduran indigenous environmentalist Berta Cáceres, who was killed last year. Photograph: Marvin Recinos/AFP/Getty Images

By Jonathan Watts and John Vidal for The Guardian – Last year was the most perilous ever for people defending their community’s land, natural resources or wildlife, with new research showing that environmental defenders are being killed at the rate of almost four a week across the world. Two hundred environmental activists, wildlife rangers and indigenous leaders trying to protect their land were killed in 2016, according to the watchdog group Global Witness – more than double the number killed five years ago. And the frequency of killings is only increasing as 2017 ticks by, according to data provided exclusively to the Guardian, with 98 killings identified in the first five months of this year. John Knox, UN special rapporteur on human rights and the environment, said: “Human rights are being jettisoned as a culture of impunity is developing. “There is now an overwhelming incentive to wreck the environment for economic reasons. The people most at risk are people who are already marginalised and excluded from politics and judicial redress, and are dependent on the environment. The countries do not respect the rule of law. Everywhere in the world, defenders are facing threats. “There is an epidemic now, a culture of impunity, a sense that anyone can kill environmental defenders without repercussions, eliminate anyone who stands in the way. It [comes from] mining, agribusiness, illegal logging and dam building.”

Why We're Investigating Grand Canyon Uranium

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By John Ahni Schertow and Garet Bleir for InterContinental Cry. In 2012, US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced a twenty-year ban on mining surrounding the Grand Canyon National Park. It was one of the biggest wins for the environment that year. After all, 10,000 uranium mining claims threatened to turn this iconic natural landscape into a radioactive wasteland. The moratorium put an end to all that — at least for the next 20 years. Unfortunately, our celebration of the historic decision had consequences. It drowned out two pressing facts that the media urgently needed to focus on: there were at least four old uranium mines near the Grand Canyon that could be reopened despite the moratorium; and there were still hundreds of abandoned uranium mines on Navajo (Diné) land that needed remediation.

Activists Occupy Trees To Stop Pipeline

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By Mark Scialla for PBS. Last spring, Elise Gerhart and her mother Ellen heard chainsaw motors revving in the woods behind their southern Pennsylvania home. Pipeline workers had returned to finish clear-cutting a patch of the Gerhart’s 27-acre forest. The two women, joined by other activists, raced into the woods, and Elise climbed 40-feet high into a 100-year-old white pine. Cutting that tree would have brought her down with it. The workers were forced to stop. A year later, only three of the hundreds of trees remain in a three-acre clearing of stumps and logs. Forts suspended from the branches of these trees block new work in the woods. It was last year that the Gerharts first put out a call for help to stop a natural gas liquids project planned to pass under a wetland and forest on their property in Huntingdon County. The Gerhart’s land, now known by activists as Camp White Pine, has since become another front in the handful of pipeline battles occurring across the continent, many of which were inspired by the movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline last year.

1.5 Million Volunteers Plant 66 Million Trees In 12 Hours

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By Lorraine Chow for Nation of Change – The central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh set a new Guinness World Record on Sunday after 1.5 million volunteers planted more than 66 million tree saplings in just 12 hours along the Narmada river. The effort bested the state of Uttar Pradesh’s previous record-breaking feat, when 800,000 participants planted 50 million trees in one day in July 2016. Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, boasted the achievement: “I am extremely proud to happily share that people of Madhya Pradesh successfully planted 6.63 Crore saplings today.” One crore is 10 million. According to a press release for the occasion, the aim of the mass-planting event was to raise awareness for the nation’s “make India green again” plan. At the Paris climate conference, India pledged to increase forest cover to 95 million hectares (235 million acres) by year 2030 and is putting $6.2 billion towards the effort.

Newsletter - Positive Actions You Can Take This Summer

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By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese for Popular Resistance. This week, we look at some of the current struggles in the United States and ways that you can get involved this summer. From protecting health care, net neutrality and the environment to building positive alternatives that transform our current dysfunctional systems, there is something for everyone to do. Read on to learn what’s happening and how to take action. This is the time to rise up and protect our families, communities and planet.

The Grizzled, Stubborn Lawyers Protecting The Environment From Trump

Indigenous leaders participate in a protest march and rally in opposition to the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, in front of the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC in March.KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS

By Nick Stockton for Wired – ON HIS FOURTH full day in office, President Trump signed an executive order that was supposed to settle this whole Dakota Access Pipeline thing—no more delays due to protests, no more reconsidering the route because of environmental worries. And for a while, it seemed to work. The protest camps are gone, and the pipe has been pumping oil since March. But Thursday, a federal judge ordered a do-over on the rush-job environmental review Trump ordered back in January. Trump came into office aiming for a blitzkrieg on environmental regulations. He got trench warfare. That’s because firing from the other side of no man’s land is a nimble alliance of environmental groups that have spent decades preparing for the likes of him. You have probably heard of many of them: the Sierra Club, National Resources Defense Council, EarthJustice, and so on. Others are smaller, focused on regional issues—like the Standing Rock Sioux that just won a small victory against the Dakota Access Pipeline. What they all have in common are stubborn, attrition-minded legal teams. Trump’s assault is just a more bombastic version of what these lawyers have weathered under past administrations. And if there’s any green left in the government by 2020, they’ll be the ones responsible.

Anti-Pipeline Protesters Head Back To Court

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By The Sugar Shack Alliance. Massachusetts – On June 20, eighteen members of the Sugar Shack Alliance who were arrested for civil disobedience at Otis State Forest in Sandisfield, MA, will be having their day in court. At the activists first arraignment for the criminal charges brought against them for blocking tree cutting in Otis State Forest, the state put in a motion to have the criminal charges of disorderly conduct and trespass converted into civil charges. Charges stemmed from protesters blocking the gas pipeline workers’ access to a pipeline work site. The hearing on that motion will take place in front of Judge Vrabel on June 20 at 9:00 a.m. at the Southern Berkshire District Court in Great Barrington. Those being tried at the hearing were arrested protesting a the $93 Kinder Morgan Connecticut Expansion Project, a pipeline extension planned for the Massachusetts state forest to store fracked gas that will be used in CT.