It’s been over 100 days since the catastrophic derailment of a Norfolk Southern train carrying over 100,000 gallons of toxic materials occurred in East Palestine, Ohio, on Feb 3. Since then, residents of East Palestine and the surrounding area in Ohio and Pennsylvania have had their lives turned completely upside down. Entire families have been uprooted from their homes, with many having to live in hotels or wherever they can find shelter, unable to return home out of fear of exposure to chemicals that were spilled into the water and soil from the derailment and spewed into the air from Norfolk Southern’s “controlled burn” of the vinyl chloride contained within multiple derailed train cars.
The biggest fossil fuel companies in the world owe at least $209 billion in yearly climate reparations to communities that suffered the brunt of the calamities caused by the climate crisis, a new study has concluded. While substantial, the researchers consider theirs to be a conservative cost estimate, as it did not put a price tag on the loss of lives or income, additional wellbeing considerations or extinction of species and other types of biodiversity depletion not reflected in gross domestic product calculations, reported The Guardian. The study said the 21 biggest polluters have collectively caused $5.4 trillion in sea level rise, drought, wildfires, glacial melt and other climate-related disasters.
Indigenous peoples around the globe agree that their health and the health of the planet are interdependent and in jeopardy. On day two of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, or UNPFII, this fact—that Indigenous people make up 5% of the world’s population but are responsible for 80% of its biodiversity—was repeated again and again by global Indigenous leaders. “As we are all aware, Indigenous peoples have least contributed to the problems of climate change nonetheless, due to their interdependence with their vital environment in their ecosystems, they suffer at its worst effects,” said Francisco Cali Tzay on Tuesday, a Mayan Cakchiquel from Guatemala and the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous peoples.
“No War 2022, July 8 – 10,” hosted by World BEYOND War, will consider major and growing threats faced in today’s world. Emphasizing “Resistance and Regeneration,” the conference will feature practitioners of permaculture who work to heal scarred lands as well as abolish all war. Listening to various friends speak of the environmental impact of war, we recalled testimony from survivors of a Nazi concentration camp on the outskirts of Berlin, Sachsenhausen, where over 200,000 prisoners were interned from 1936 – 1945.
In the Brazilian Amazon, as deforestation reaches record levels and rivers are increasingly polluted, the illegal gold mining contributing to these problems continues largely unabated. The response of the government has been to increase military action to curb environmental crimes in Brazil. Far from achieving this purpose, however, the military intervention has only led to tragedies in the region, directly or indirectly. A source from the Brazilian Amazon wrote to us at Revista Opera two years ago to warn us about something strange that was going on there: illegally mined gold was being sold at the same price as legally mined gold. “If the nugget is a big one,” said the source, “they give the miner extra [money].”
Most Americans trust the military; a 2020 poll found 72 percent with “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in that institution, edged out only by small business. Many were likely picturing enlisted persons, but their trust often extends to the leadership, both uniformed and civilian. However, those making life-and-death decisions for both U.S. troops and people of other countries — even in the absence of war — deserve our serious scrutiny. A new book, Poisoning the Pacific, examines the military’s long role in the environmental degradation of East Asia and Pacific islands, severely impacting the health of the region’s people and U.S. personnel stationed there. Author Jon Mitchell is a Tokyo-based journalist, and much of his book focuses on Japan, especially its southernmost prefecture of Okinawa.
Wind howls in my ears. My fingers are numb. It’s midnight and I’m on top of Pink Mountain, near Mile 147 of the Alaska Highway in northeastern British Columbia. As I look out into the night, dozens of gas plants light up the horizon. This is fracking country. For two weeks, I’m driving the back roads of this sparse corner of the province to gather images of the destruction gas development has wrought here. It involves long periods of boredom punctuated by jaw-dropping moments where I curse aloud to no one in particular.
A state department tasked with preserving historic landmarks recently criticized Cal State Long Beach for depositing soil and debris from a construction zone on a parcel of land called Puvungna that is sacred to local Native American tribes. Construction to expand student housing near the site sparked outcry, protests and a lawsuit from tribal leaders last year. And in an August letter, the California Office of Historic Preservation, which reviews construction projects near archaeological landmarks, weighed in on the controversy.
On August 22, 2020, the ORCAO paramilitary organization looted and burned two Zapatista coffee warehouses in Cuxuljá, Chiapas. This is the latest in an accelerating series of attacks on the Zapatista project since the current administration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) took office. Many of you will remember that in 2017 as Trump took office, the Zapatistas sent four tons of their coffee harvest to migrant and other communities in struggle in the United States as an organizing resource. Now we need to organize our own coffee solidarity effort — not only to help recover the cost of the lost harvest, but to show there is widespread solidarity with the Zapatista project.
Natural gas leaks from underground pipelines are killing trees in densely populated urban environments, a new study suggests, adding to concerns over such leaks fueling climate change and explosion hazards. The study, which took place in Chelsea, Massachusetts, a low-income immigrant community near Boston, also highlights the many interrelated environmental challenges in a city that faces high levels of air pollution, soaring summer temperatures and is now beset by one of the highest coronavirus infection rates in the nation. Dead or dying trees were 30 times more likely to have been exposed to methane in the soil surrounding their roots than healthy trees, according to the study published last month in the journal Environmental Pollution.
A new study in Nature (April 2020) casts a disturbing light on the prospects of abrupt ecosystem collapse. The report analyzes the probabilities of collapsing ecosystems en masse, and not simply the loss of individual species. (Source: Trisos, C.H. et al, The Projected Timing of Abrupt Ecological Disruption From Climate Change, Nature, April 8, 2020) The paper states that a high percentage of species will be exposed to harmful climate conditions at about the same time, potentially leading to sudden and catastrophic die-offs of biodiversity. If high greenhouse gas emissions remain in place, abrupt events are forecast to begin before 2030 in tropical oceans and spread to tropical forests and temperate regions over time. Without doubt, no nation is prepared for the consequences of collapsing ecosystems nor are they doing anything to avert it.
I have spent the past seven years studying the rich biological communities of Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. Few places there are more captivating than the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. The monument is home to breathtaking cacti that have stood for over a century, as well as several endangered animal species. It’s also the rightful, sacred land of the Indigenous O’odham Nation. Despite the awe I have felt there in the past, I haven’t visited Organ Pipe recently. It’s just too heartbreaking. Why? Because right now, President Trump’s border wall is turning the landscape into an ecological dystopia. The Department of Homeland Security is leveling this precious habitat with absolutely no regard for the delicacy of this place’s unique cultural and ecological resources, ravaging one of the most iconic sites in the Western hemisphere.
One person did more in 2018 to advance the extinction of the human race than any other. While space makes it impossible to list all the ways he acted to damage the earth, a look at just a few of the highlights from 2018 gives a clear snapshot. In 2018, he made it easier for coal plants to pollute, made it easier for industry to engage in hazardous air pollution, announced the US will be pulling out of a twenty-year-old nuclear weapons treaty, started to roll back vehicle mileage standards, opened up oil and gas drilling on millions of acres of protected public lands, vigorously opposed the rights of children in the US to challenge the federal government for its role in global warming, and is making it easier for oil and gas companies to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.