The People’s Health Movement (PHM) has been a regular participant of the Prince Mahidol Awards Conference (PMAC) since 2007. Activists from around the world have freely given their time, ideas, and support to bring a progressive civil society perspective to an event whose objective is, reportedly, “to bring together leading public health leaders and stakeholders from around the world to discuss high priority global health issues, summarize findings and propose concrete solutions and recommendations.” Over the years, PHM has contributed many hours of unpaid work for the PMAC, undertaking roles in the conference’s International Organising Committee (IOC).
Oil and Gas Industry
Darren Woods, the CEO of Exxon, celebrates the potential of carbon capture to dramatically reduce global emissions. According to Saudi Aramco’s podcast, the fossil fuel industry is innovating new climate solutions, and BP’s podcast proclaims more of the same. These messages sound like they’ve been pulled from the public-relations departments of the world’s largest oil companies, but they were produced and promoted by the in-house ad agencies of Bloomberg, Reuters, and The New York Times, respectively, and in the process benefited from the credibility those media brands have built with readers over the decades as trustworthy sources of news.
In the 1970s, Dr. Bernard Goldstein, a young professor at the New York University School of Medicine, researched the health impacts of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) produced by gas stoves. In a series of studies, Goldstein and his colleagues identified a higher incidence of respiratory problems among schoolchildren from homes with gas stoves. Fifty years on, Goldstein, now emeritus professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at the University of Pittsburgh, recently told NPR “it’s way past time that we were doing something about gas stoves.”
Baltimore, Maryland - South Baltimore is on a peninsula surrounded by water, highways and train tracks. It's mostly made up of residential row houses, small yards, schools, rec centers and parks. It's also often thought of as a place to avoid — folks are taught to be careful of or even avoid South Baltimore. There was a mass shooting this past July in the Brooklyn neighborhood of South Baltimore, and another in early September. "People think Curtis Bay is a dangerous place. It's not. It's just we're surrounded by dangerous things," says Taysia Thompson, 17. Taysia is a part of a group of student activists fighting against a very different kind of danger in their neighborhood: air pollution and climate change.
Years before Hurricane Katrina levee failures flooded New Orleans, a Louisiana hurricane expert warned federal officials of the potential for the levees to break. Now, Ivor van Heerden, the former deputy director of Louisiana State University’s Hurricane Center, is concerned about the disastrous and potentially lethal consequences of a hurricane hitting a liquified natural gas (LNG) export terminal under construction south of New Orleans. “Once again we’ve got politicians and state agencies ignoring the facts, just like they did with Hurricane Katrina,” van Heerden said. “We’re going to have another catastrophe.”
Where the Tickfaw River leads into Lake Maurepas in South Louisiana, a coffin containing a plastic skeleton is fastened to pilings rising out of the water. “Save Lake Maurepas From Impending Death by Air Products,” a sign above it states. This arresting visual captures the sentiments of opponents of a plan to develop the world’s largest carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) project under the lake. Air Products, a global hydrogen manufacturing company, is proposing to build a $4.5 billion “Clean Energy Complex” to manufacture blue hydrogen and an accompanying carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) project, that would be operational by 2026.
Last February, ExxonMobil announced it would further expand its only active carbon capture and storage (CCS) operation in the United States, located at a gas processing facility in LaBarge, Wyoming. Shute Creek is the world’s largest CCS project and has been operational for over 30 years. Although the oil giant publicly touts carbon capture as a “proven” climate solution, its own early foray reveals just how flimsy of a fix the technology really is — and how expensive, both for taxpayers and the climate. For starters, at Exxon’s Shute Creek, nearly all of the CO2 separated from the extracted fossil gas either has been sold, for a profit, to other drillers to use for squeezing out hard-to-recover oil elsewhere (a process called enhanced oil recovery) or vented back into the atmosphere.
The House Oversight Committee has revealed new documentation showing that fossil fuel companies have long been well aware of their industry’s impact on climate disruption, with all of its devastating effects. And rather than respond humanely to human needs, they’ve opted to use every tool in the box, including bold lying, pretend naivete and aggressive misdirection, to continue extracting every last penny that they can. It invites a question: If an investigation falls in the forest and no laws or tax policies or news media approaches are changed by it, does it make a sound? Our next guest’s group collects and shares the receipts on fossil fuel companies’ architecture of deception—not for fun, but for change. Richard Wiles is president of the Center for Climate Integrity.
Shortly after he took office, President Biden announced a goal of building 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind by 2030, enough clean energy to power 10 million homes. For the administration, the offshore wind target was a part of a larger strategy of reducing carbon pollution and putting the country on track for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. But, like many clean energy plans, this one was met with immediate resistance. In August 2021, CBS News reported that Nantucket Residents Against Turbines — or ACK Rats — launched a lawsuit against the administration's offshore wind plans. The Massachusetts-based resident group argued that offshore wind development “poses a threat to the critically endangered North Atlantic Right Whale.”
UN Special Rapporteurs estimate that 100,000 people have died in Venezuela in the last decade because of the lack of medicine brought on by U.S. sanctions. Nearly 60% of those deaths took place under the Trump administration after Washington escalated its economic warfare on the Bolivarian state. During the Trump era, Jorge Arreaza served as Venezuela’s foreign minister and spent years building diplomatic ties with other nations amid Washington’s aggressive hybrid war. “After 22 years of revolution, we have had to deal with President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, President Trump, and President Biden. And there are no major differences between them because it is not a matter of who is in the Oval Office; it is a matter of who really controls the decisions in the United States,” Arreaza told MintPress.
In her documentary “Hard Road of Hope,” independent filmmaker Eleanor Goldfield details the history and contemporary struggles of West Virginians living and dying in coal country. As part of our coverage commemorating the Battle of Blair Mountain centennial, we are screening “Hard Road of Hope” for a limited time on the TRNN YouTube channel (watch it now here). In this complementary interview, TRNN Editor-in-Chief Maximillian Alvarez talks with Goldfield about the urgency of the issues detailed in her documentary, and about how the gas industry, which employs environmentally destructive practices like fracking, is picking up where the coal industry left off and continuing the exploitation of the people and resources of West Virginia. To see more of Goldfield’s work, visit https://artkillingapathy.com/.
With nearly 300 miles of coastline, the Hawaiian islands that make up Maui County face the threat of sea level rise from all sides. It's that assault that has formed the foundation of a lawsuit Maui filed this week against 20 fossil fuel companies seeking compensation for the rising costs of climate change. The lawsuit alleges that the companies, including ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell and ConocoPhillips, knew their products produced warming greenhouse gases that threatened the planet but hid those dangers from Maui's people and businesses to maximize corporate profits.
Many of the most powerful oil and gas companies, private utilities, and financial institutions that drive environmental injustice are also backers of the same police departments – through their funding, sponsoring, and governing of police foundations – that tyrannize the very communities these corporate actors pollute. As demands continue to rise to defund the police and reinvest in Black and Brown communities, as well as to divest from the fossil fuel industry and reinvest in environmental justice and a just transition, the fossil fuel industry power structure presents a common foe for these interconnected fights.