What Humans Are Really Doing to Our Planet…

…in 19 Jaw-Dropping Images, (and one fitting cartoon).

http://www.filmsforaction.org/articles/what-humans-are-really-doing-to-our-planet-in-19-jawdropping-images/

By Michael McCutcheon / mic.com

Last week, Pope Francis and church officials encouraged everyone to consume less and think more about our impact on the environment.

It’s a timely warning because the next six months will be critical to our future.

Ahead of a series of major events later this year, The Foundation for Deep Ecology and the Population Media Center released a collection that illustrates the devastating effects of out-of-control growth and waste, and it’s breathtaking.

 

“This is an issue that people care about, and oftentimes it’s just not discussed by mainstream media,” Missie Thurston, director of marketing and communications at the Population Media Center, told Mic.It’s difficult to always know the impacts of our daily choices, like the real effect of buying a bottled water or an extra TV or laptop. With 220,000 more people on the planet every day, and the average person generating over 4 pounds of waste a day — an almost 60% increase since 1960 — the impact of that growth and change in behavior is rarely seen like this.

Source: Peter Essick/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Electronic waste, from around the world, is shipped to Accra, Ghana, where locals break apart the electronics for minerals or burn them. 

Source: Pablo Lopez Luz/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Mexico City, Mexico, one of the most populous cities in the Western Hemisphere.

Source: Digital Globe/Foundation for Deep Ecology

New Delhi, India, where many landfills are reaching a breaking point. The surrounding population of Delhi totals some 25 million people

Source: Mike Hedge/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Los Angeles, California, which is famous for sometimes having more cars than people.

Source: Mark Gamba/Corbis/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Kern River Oil Field, California, USA.

Source: Daniel Dancer/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Former old-growth forest leveled for reservoir development, Willamette National Forest, Oregon, per thePopulation Media Center.

Source: Jason Hawkes/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Coal power plant, United Kingdom.

Source: Cotton Coulson/Keenpress/Foundation for Deep Ecology

North East Land, Svalbard, Norway, where rising global temperatures are fundamentally changing the ecology.

Source: Digital Globe/Foundation for Deep Ecology

The world’s largest diamond mine, Russia.

Source: Daniel Beltra/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Amazon jungle burns to make room for grazing cattle, Brazil.

Source: Garth Lentz/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Tar sands and open pit mining in an area so vast, it can be seen from space. Alberta, Canada.

Source: Daniel Dancer/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Tires discarded in Nevada.

Source: Garth Lentz/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Vancouver Island, Canada.

Source: Yann Arthus Bertrand/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Industrial agriculture in Almeria, Spain, stretches for miles.

Source: Garth Lentz/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Tar sands, Alberta, Canada.

Source: Lu Guang/Foundation for Deep Ecology

A man turns away from the smell of the Yellow River in China.

Source: M.R. Hasasn/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Bangladesh, where much of the world’s clothing and goods are manufactured.

Source: Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Black Friday, Boise, Idaho.

Source: Zak Noyle/Foundation for Deep Ecology

A remote bay in Java, Indonesia, where local residents, without infrastructure for waste disposal, discard waste directly into streams and rivers.

The rest of the year is going to be critical. In September, world leaders will try and agree on sustainable development goals that will take us through 2030. In December, in Paris, the United Nations will attempt to finally set binding limits on pollution. 2015 will dictate how we address our degrading planet over the next few decades.

The Population Media Center and partners hope these photos will help generate awareness and action. Because as the word spreads, so does the will to make sure we never have to see images like these again.

________________________________________________

And yet, an all-too common human reaction is…

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More fireworks stands close due to fire danger

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http://www.wenatcheeworld.com/news/2015/jul/01/more-fireworks-stands-close-due-to-fire-danger/

July 1, 2015,

WENATCHEE — More fireworks stands are closing as a result of widespread fireworks bans, tinder-dry fire conditions, and some outward community concern for fire safety.

Throngs of Independence Day revelers would normally be lining up this time of year to buy their annual dose of sparklers, rockets, Roman candles and firecrackers.

But tents and trailers offering fireworks for sale are either closed or shy of business this year. Those that are open have had far fewer sales than their proprietors have had harassments. The only flag waving seen, they say, is with middle fingers.

As a result, several more stands agreed to close Wednesday afternoon.

With everything going on, and in the name of fire safety, TNT is voluntarily deciding to let local organizations shut down. It’s the right thing to do,” said Greg Burger, an area manager assistant for TNT Fireworks. The company provides fireworks, often a tent and insurance to organizations and individuals who want a share of the profits, often for local fundraisers.

The change is a response to the devastating loss of homes during the Sleepy Hollow Fire, widespread firework bans and tinder dry fire conditions throughout the region.

Several fireworks stands previously decided not to open. The Church of the Nazarene, the Wenatchee Valley Appleaires and the Douglas County Republicans earlier decided not to open stands in East Wenatchee. The new TNT decision will close four stands in Wenatchee and two others in East Wenatchee.

Most of the stands that remained open were run by organizations bound by contract. Sales at the stands had been far from sparkling.

Wenatchee Eagles had one such stand near the organization’s auxiliary hall at 1202 N. Wenatchee Ave. They planned to open another stand today at Coastal Farm & Home in East Wenatchee.

Eagles member Dena Saylor said the group signed a contract with TNT Fireworks last October. Saylor said the Eagles used profits from last year’s sales to pay organizational property taxes and to give to local charities. One was to help fire victims from last year’s Carlton Complex fires.

Member Christine Farley said the Wenatchee stand had only nine sales in the first two days they’ve been open.

But we’re getting harassed quite a bit. A couple of people seemed really over the edge. I didn’t know what they were going to do,” she said.

Farley and Saylor said they weren’t forcing anyone to buy fireworks. They told them they can’t shoot them off in Wenatchee and most parts of Chelan County and to be cautious if they did. Burger, the TNT assistant stopped by Tuesday at the same time as a Chelan County fire marshal, and that’s when an agreement was made to shut down, Farley said.

WENATCHEE — More fireworks stands are closing as a result of widespread fireworks bans, tinder-dry fire conditions, and some outward community concern for fire safety.

Throngs of Independence Day revelers would normally be lining up this time of year to buy their annual dose of sparklers, rockets, Roman candles and firecrackers.

But tents and trailers offering fireworks for sale are either closed or shy of business this year. Those that are open have had far fewer sales than their proprietors have had harassments. The only flag waving seen, they say, is with middle fingers.

As a result, several more stands agreed to close Wednesday afternoon.

With everything going on, and in the name of fire safety, TNT is voluntarily deciding to let local organizations shut down. It’s the right thing to do,” said Greg Burger, an area manager assistant for TNT Fireworks. The company provides fireworks, often a tent and insurance to organizations and individuals who want a share of the profits, often for local fundraisers.

The change is a response to the devastating loss of homes during the Sleepy Hollow Fire, widespread firework bans and tinder dry fire conditions throughout the region.

Several fireworks stands previously decided not to open. The Church of the Nazarene, the Wenatchee Valley Appleaires and the Douglas County Republicans earlier decided not to open stands in East Wenatchee. The new TNT decision will close four stands in Wenatchee and two others in East Wenatchee.

Most of the stands that remained open were run by organizations bound by contract. Sales at the stands had been far from sparkling.

Wenatchee Eagles had one such stand near the organization’s auxiliary hall at 1202 N. Wenatchee Ave. They planned to open another stand today at Coastal Farm & Home in East Wenatchee.

Eagles member Dena Saylor said the group signed a contract with TNT Fireworks last October. Saylor said the Eagles used profits from last year’s sales to pay organizational property taxes and to give to local charities. One was to help fire victims from last year’s Carlton Complex fires.

Member Christine Farley said the Wenatchee stand had only nine sales in the first two days they’ve been open.

But we’re getting harassed quite a bit. A couple of people seemed really over the edge. I didn’t know what they were going to do,” she said.

Farley and Saylor said they weren’t forcing anyone to buy fireworks. They told them they can’t shoot them off in Wenatchee and most parts of Chelan County and to be cautious if they did. Burger, the TNT assistant stopped by Tuesday at the same time as a Chelan County fire marshal, and that’s when an agreement was made to shut down, Farley said.

We are telling them about the fireworks show at the park and set them off New Year’s Eve,” Farley said about her few customers. “But when people come in and start yelling and screaming at us, that’s not cool. It’s not like we don’t care about fire victims. We do.”

WENATCHEE — More fireworks stands are closing as a result of widespread fireworks bans, tinder-dry fire conditions, and some outward community concern for fire safety.

Throngs of Independence Day revelers would normally be lining up this time of year to buy their annual dose of sparklers, rockets, Roman candles and firecrackers.

But tents and trailers offering fireworks for sale are either closed or shy of business this year. Those that are open have had far fewer sales than their proprietors have had harassments. The only flag waving seen, they say, is with middle fingers.

As a result, several more stands agreed to close Wednesday afternoon.

With everything going on, and in the name of fire safety, TNT is voluntarily deciding to let local organizations shut down. It’s the right thing to do,” said Greg Burger, an area manager assistant for TNT Fireworks. The company provides fireworks, often a tent and insurance to organizations and individuals who want a share of the profits, often for local fundraisers.

The change is a response to the devastating loss of homes during the Sleepy Hollow Fire, widespread firework bans and tinder dry fire conditions throughout the region.

Several fireworks stands previously decided not to open. The Church of the Nazarene, the Wenatchee Valley Appleaires and the Douglas County Republicans earlier decided not to open stands in East Wenatchee. The new TNT decision will close four stands in Wenatchee and two others in East Wenatchee.

Most of the stands that remained open were run by organizations bound by contract. Sales at the stands had been far from sparkling.

Wenatchee Eagles had one such stand near the organization’s auxiliary hall at 1202 N. Wenatchee Ave. They planned to open another stand today at Coastal Farm & Home in East Wenatchee.

Eagles member Dena Saylor said the group signed a contract with TNT Fireworks last October. Saylor said the Eagles used profits from last year’s sales to pay organizational property taxes and to give to local charities. One was to help fire victims from last year’s Carlton Complex fires.

Member Christine Farley said the Wenatchee stand had only nine sales in the first two days they’ve been open.

But we’re getting harassed quite a bit. A couple of people seemed really over the edge. I didn’t know what they were going to do,” she said.

Farley and Saylor said they weren’t forcing anyone to buy fireworks. They told them they can’t shoot them off in Wenatchee and most parts of Chelan County and to be cautious if they did. Burger, the TNT assistant stopped by Tuesday at the same time as a Chelan County fire marshal, and that’s when an agreement was made to shut down, Farley said.

We are telling them about the fireworks show at the park and set them off New Year’s Eve,” Farley said about her few customers. “But when people come in and start yelling and screaming at us, that’s not cool. It’s not like we don’t care about fire victims. We do.”

Leave It All for Generation Y Me?

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Yesterday afternoon my wife and I were out on our covered porch watching the thermometer climb toward 90*, taking advantage of the oppressive heat to hang laundry out to dry, when we realized a loaf of fresh bread was about ready to enjoy.

We had been talking about the life-crushing impacts of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) and she said, “Ahh, fresh bread, one of life’s little pleasures left for us.” I said, “I think there will still be a few pleasures left for us in this world in the near future, although it sounds like all the shit’s really going to come down for the next generation—whatever they’re going to be called. Let’s see, we had the Baby Boomers, the Now Generation, the Me Generation, Generation X, and I vaguely remember hearing something about follow-up generations Y and Z.

She offered, “How about ‘Generation Y me?’”? I laughed and said, “Well, that one sure fits better that anything I’ve heard yet. After all, they’re the ones who are really going to have to deal with the changes wrought by ACD.”

In case those who vote on such things haven’t come up with a new nick name so far, I hereby petition that the next group of humans born should be labeled, “Generation Y me?”

“Twenty More Years of Roaring Growth” for China?

The following is an excerpt from http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/31478-china-s-communist-capitalist-ecological-apocalypse :

In The Wall Street Journal of August 20, 2014, Justin Yifu Lin, an economist and close adviser to senior leaders in Beijing, stated that he’s confident China can sustain its recent 8 percent per year growth rate for the foreseeable future. He predicts “20 years of roaring growth” for China. Really? Where does Yifu think the resources are going to come from for this scale of consumption? As it happens, in 2011, the Earth Policy Institute at Columbia University calculated that if China keeps growing by around 8 percent per year, Chinese average per capita consumption will reach the current US level by around 2035. But to provide the natural resources for China’s 1.3 billion to consume on a per capita basis like the United States’ 330 million consume today, the Chinese – roughly 20 percent of the world’s population – will consume as much oil as the entire world consumes today. It would also consume more than 60 percent of other critical resources.

Production Consumption* Commodity Unit Consumption Latest Year Projected Consumption 2035
U.S. China China World
Grain Million Tons 338 424 1,505 2,191
Meat Million Tons 37 73 166 270
Oil Million Barrels per Day 19 9 85 86
Coal Million Tons of Oil Equivalent 525 1,714 2,335 3,731
Steel Million Tons 102 453 456 1,329
Fertilizer Million Tons 20 49 91 214
Paper Million Tons 74 97 331 394

*Projected Chinese consumption in 2035 is calculated assuming per-capita consumption will be equal to the current US level, based on projected GDP growth of 8 percent annually. Latest year figures for grain, oil, coal, fertilizer and paper are from 2008. Latest year figures for meat and steel are from 2010. Source: Earth Policy Institute, 2011

How can this happen? What would the rest of the world live on? Already, as resource analyst Michael Klare reviews in his latest book, The Race for What’s Left (2012), around the world existing reserves of oil, minerals and other resources “are being depleted at a terrifying pace and will be largely exhausted in the not-too-distant future.”

B. Airpocalypse Now

Decades of coal-powered industrialization combined with the government-promoted car craze since the 1990s have brought China the worst air pollution in the world. Scientists have compared north China’s toxic smog to a “nuclear winter” and the smog is also sharply reducing crop yields. Lung cancer is now the leading cause of death in Beijing and nationally pollution-induced lung disease is taking the lives of more than 1.2 million people a year. With 20 percent of the world’s population, China now burns as much coal as the rest of the world put together. Twenty of the world’s 30 smoggiest cities are in China.

As domestic food grows increasingly unsafe, alarmed middle-class Chinese strip supermarkets of imported food.

Ironically, China is also a “green technology” leader, the world’s largest producer of both windmills and solar panels. Yet in China these account for barely 1 percent of electricity generation. Coal presently supplies 69 percent of China’s total energy consumption; oil accounts for 18 percent; hydroelectric, 6 percent; natural gas, 4 percent; nuclear, less than 1 percent; and other renewables including solar and wind, 1 percent. (27) China currently burns 4 billion tons of coal a year; the US burns less than 1 billion; the European Union, about 0.6 billion. China has marginally reduced the carbon intensity of production in recent years by installing newer, more efficient power plants but these gains have been outstripped by relentless building of more power plants. To make matters worse, even when power plants are fitted with scrubbers to reduce pollution, operators often don’t turn on the scrubbers because these cut into their profits.

While government plans call for reducing coal’s share of the energy mix from 69 percent to 55 percent by 2040, it projects that China’s absolute coal consumption will still rise by more than 50 percent in the same period in line with China’s projected economic growth of around 7.7 percent per year. The World Health Organization considers air pollution above 25 micrograms of particulate matter per cubic meter (PM2.5) to be unsafe. China’s current national average is 75 micrograms but particulate levels in many cities average in the hundreds.

In the winter of 2013, China suffered from the worst air pollution in its history as half of the country, nearly the whole of northern and eastern China, was smothered in dense smog for weeks at a time. Smog alerts were called in 104 cities in 20 of China’s 30 provinces as schools and airports closed in Beijing, Shanghai and other cities. In January, PM2.5 levels in Beijing reached 900 micrograms per cubic meter. As Beijing was choking in smog in the winter of 2013, Deutsche Bank analysts gloomily concluded that even if China’s economy slowed to 5 percent growth per year from it’s current 7.6 percent rate, coal consumption would still nearly double and China’s smog could increase by as much as 70 percent by 2030. (28)

China’s leaders thus face an intractable dilemma. They can’t keep growing the economy without consuming ever more coal, oil and gas. Yet the more fossil fuels they burn, the more uninhabitable China’s cities become, the more Chinese people flee the country, and the faster China’s emissions are driving global warming.

More: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/31478-china-s-communist-capitalist-ecological-apocalypse

How the US Navy Plans to War Game the Arctic

Destroying What Remains: An Animal Rights Article from All-Creatures.org

FROM

Dahr Jamail, Truthout.org / TomDispatch.com
June 2015

[NOTE from All-Creatures.org: PLEASE visit WAR OF THE WHALES for detailed, sad, horrifying information about the effects of sonar on sea animals!]

Now, a dozen years after I left my home state and landed in Baghdad to begin life as a journalist and nine years after definitively abandoning Alaska, I find myself back. I wish it was to climb another mountain, but this time, unfortunately, it’s because I seem increasingly incapable of escaping the long and destructive reach of the US military.

Here’s just one example of the kinds of damage that will occur: the cyanide discharge from a Navy torpedo is in the range of 140-150 parts per billion. The Environmental Protection Agency’s “allowable” limit on cyanide: one part per billion.

Given that the Navy has been making plans for “ice-free” operations in the Arctic since at least 2001, their June “Northern Edge” exercises may well prove to be just the opening salvo in the future northern climate wars, with whales, seals, and salmon being the first in the line of fire.

Species affected will include blue, fin, gray, humpback, minke, sei, sperm, and killer whales, the highly endangered North Pacific right whale (of which there are only approximately 30 left), as well as dolphins and sea lions.

I lived in Anchorage for 10 years and spent much of that time climbing in and on the spine of the state, the Alaska Range. Three times I stood atop the mountain the Athabaskans call Denali, “the great one.” During that decade, I mountaineered for more than half a year on that magnificent state’s highest peaks. It was there that I took in my own insignificance while living amid rock and ice, sleeping atop glaciers that creaked and moaned as they slowly ground their way toward lower elevations.

Alaska contains the largest coastal mountain range in the world and the highest peak in North America. It has more coastline than the entire contiguous 48 states combined and is big enough to hold the state of Texas two and a half times over. It has the largest population of bald eagles in the country. It has 430 kinds of birds along with the brown bear, the largest carnivorous land mammal in the world, and other species ranging from the pygmy shrew that weighs less than a penny to gray whales that come in at 45 tons. Species that are classified as “endangered” in other places are often found in abundance in Alaska.

Now, a dozen years after I left my home state and landed in Baghdad to begin life as a journalist and nine years after definitively abandoning Alaska, I find myself back. I wish it was to climb another mountain, but this time, unfortunately, it’s because I seem increasingly incapable of escaping the long and destructive reach of the US military.

That summer in 2003 when my life in Alaska ended was an unnerving one for me. It followed a winter and spring in which I found myself protesting the coming invasion of Iraq in the streets of Anchorage, then impotently watching the televised spectacle of the Bush administration’s “shock and awe” assault on that country as Baghdad burned and Iraqis were slaughtered. While on Denali that summer I listened to news of the beginnings of what would be an occupation from hell and, in my tent on a glacier at 17 thousand feet, wondered what in the world I could do.

In this way, in a cloud of angst, I traveled to Iraq as an independent news team of one and found myself reporting on atrocities that were evident to anyone not embedded with the US military, which was then laying waste to the country. My early reporting, some of it for TomDispatch, warned of body counts on a trajectory toward one million, rampant torture in the military’s detention facilities, and the toxic legacy it had left in the city of Fallujah thanks to the use of depleted uranium munitions and white phosphorous.

As I learned, the US military is an industrial-scale killing machine and also the single largest consumer of fossil fuels on the planet, which makes it a major source of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. As it happens, distant lands like Iraq sitting atop vast reservoirs of oil and natural gas are by no means its only playing fields.

Take the place where I now live, the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state. The US Navy already has plans to conduct electromagnetic warfare training in an area close to where I moved to once again seek solace in the mountains: Olympic National Forest and nearby Olympic National Park. And this June, it’s scheduling massive war games in the Gulf of Alaska, including live bombing runs that will mean the detonation of tens of thousands of pounds of toxic munitions, as well as the use of active sonar in the most pristine, economically valuable, and sustainable salmon fishery in the country (arguably in the world). And all of this is to happen right in the middle of fishing season.

This time, in other words, the bombs will be falling far closer to home. Whether it’s war-torn Iraq or “peaceful” Alaska, Sunnis and Shi’ites or salmon and whales, to me the omnipresent “footprint” of the US military feels inescapable.

sonar war arctic
All of Southeast Alaska’s pristine coastline would be impacted by the Navy’s upcoming planned war games in the Gulf of Alaska. (Photo: Dahr Jamail/Truthout)

The War Comes Home

In 2013, US Navy researchers predicted ice-free summer Arctic waters by 2016 and it looks as if that prediction might come true. Recently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that there was less ice in the Arctic this winter than in any other winter of the satellite era. Given that the Navy has been making plans for “ice-free” operations in the Arctic since at least 2001, their June “Northern Edge” exercises may well prove to be just the opening salvo in the future northern climate wars, with whales, seals, and salmon being the first in the line of fire.

In April 2001, a Navy symposium entitled “Naval Operations in an Ice-Free Arctic” was mounted to begin to prepare the service for a climate-change-induced future. Fast forward to June 2015. In what the military refers to as Alaska’s “premier” joint training exercise, Alaskan Command aims to conduct “Northern Edge” over 8,429 nautical miles, which include critical habitat for all five wild Alaskan salmon species and 377 other species of marine life. The upcoming war games in the Gulf of Alaska will not be the first such exercises in the region — they have been conducted, on and off, for the last 30 years — but they will be the largest by far. In fact, a 360 percent rise in munitions use is expected, according to Emily Stolarcyk, the program manager for the Eyak Preservation Council (EPC).

The waters in the Gulf of Alaska are some of the most pristine in the world, rivaled only by those in the Antarctic, and among the purest and most nutrient-rich waters anywhere. Northern Edge will take place in an Alaskan “marine protected area,” as well as in a NOAA-designated “fisheries protected area.” These war games will also coincide with the key breeding and migratory periods of the marine life in the region as they make their way toward Prince William Sound, as well as further north into the Arctic.

Species affected will include blue, fin, gray, humpback, minke, sei, sperm, and killer whales, the highly endangered North Pacific right whale (of which there are only approximately 30 left), as well as dolphins and sea lions. No fewer than a dozen native tribes including the Eskimo, Eyak, Athabascan, Tlingit, Sun’aq, and Aleut rely on the area for subsistence living, not to speak of their cultural and spiritual identities.

The Navy is already permitted to use live ordnance including bombs, missiles, and torpedoes, along with active and passive sonar in “realistic” war gaming that is expected to involve the release of as much as 352,000 pounds of “expended materials” every year. (The Navy’s EIS lists numerous things as “expended materials,” including missiles, bombs, torpedoes.) At present, the Navy is well into the process of securing the necessary permits for the next five years and has even mentioned making plans for the next 20. Large numbers of warships and submarines are slated to move into the area and the potential pollution from this has worried Alaskans who live nearby.

“We are concerned about expended materials in addition to the bombs, jet noise, and sonar,” the Eyak Preservation Council’s Emily Stolarcyk tells me as we sit in her office in Cordova, Alaska. EPC is an environmental and social-justice-oriented nonprofit whose primary mission is to protect wild salmon habitat. “Chromium, lead, tungsten, nickel, cadmium, cyanide, ammonium perchlorate, the Navy’s own environmental impact statement says there is a high risk of chemical exposure to fish.”

Tiny Cordova, population 2,300, is home to the largest commercial fishing fleet in the state and consistently ranks among the top 10 busiest US fishing ports. Since September, when Stolarcyk first became aware of the Navy’s plans, she has been working tirelessly, calling local, state and federal officials and alerting virtually every fisherman she runs into about what she calls “the storm” looming on the horizon. “The propellants from the Navy’s missiles and some of their other weapons will release benzene, toluene, xylene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and naphthalene into the waters of twenty percent of the training area, according to their own EIS [environmental impact statement],” she explains as we look down on Cordova’s harbor with salmon fishing season rapidly approaching. As it happens, most of the chemicals she mentioned were part of BP’s disastrous 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which I covered for years, so as I listened to her I had an eerie sense of futuristic déjà vu.

Here’s just one example of the kinds of damage that will occur: the cyanide discharge from a Navy torpedo is in the range of 140-150 parts per billion. The Environmental Protection Agency’s “allowable” limit on cyanide: one part per billion.

The Navy’s EIS estimates that, in the five-year period in which these war games are to be conducted, there will be more than 182,000 “takes” — direct deaths of a marine mammal, or the disruption of essential behaviors like breeding, nursing, or surfacing. On the deaths of fish, it offers no estimates at all. Nevertheless, the Navy will be permitted to use at least 352,000 pounds of expended materials in these games annually. The potential negative effects could be far-reaching, given species migration and the global current system in northern waters. p>

In the meantime, the Navy is giving Stolarcyk’s efforts the cold shoulder, showing what she calls “total disregard toward the people making their living from these waters.” She adds, “They say this is for national security. They are theoretically defending us, but if they destroy our food source and how we make our living, while polluting our air and water, what’s left to defend?”

Stolarcyk has been labeled an “activist” and “environmentalist,” perhaps because the main organizations she’s managed to sign on to her efforts are indeed environmental groups like the Alaska Marine Conservation Council, and the Alaskans First Coalition.

“Why does wanting to protect wild salmon habitat make me an activist?” she asks. “How has that caused me to be branded as an environmentalist?” Given that the Alaska commercial fishing industry could be decimated if its iconic “wild-caught” salmon turn up with traces of cyanide or any of the myriad chemicals the Navy will be using, Stolarcyk could as easily be seen as fighting for the well-being, if not the survival, of the fishing industry in her state.

War Gaming the Community

The clock is ticking in Cordova and others in Stolarcyk’s community are beginning to share her concerns. A few like Alexis Cooper, the executive director of Cordova District Fishermen United (CDFU), a non-profit organization that represents the commercial fishermen in the area, have begun to speak out. “We’re already seeing reduced numbers of halibut without the Navy having expanded their operations in the GOA [Gulf of Alaska],” she says, “and we’re already seeing other decreases in harvestable species.”

CDFU represents more than 800 commercial salmon fishermen, an industry that accounts for an estimated 90 percent of Cordova’s economy. Without salmon, like many other towns along coastal southeastern Alaska, it would effectively cease to exist.

Teal Webber, a lifelong commercial fisherwoman and member of the Native Village of Eyak, gets visibly upset when the Navy’s plans come up. “You wouldn’t bomb a bunch of farmland,” she says, “and the salmon run comes right through this area, so why are they doing this now?” She adds, “When all of the fishing community in Cordova gets the news about how much impact the Navy’s war games could have, you’ll see them oppose it en masse.”

While I’m in town, Stolarcyk offers a public presentation of the case against Northern Edge in the elementary school auditorium. As she shows a slide from the Navy’s environmental impact statement indicating that the areas affected will take decades to recover, several fishermen quietly shake their heads.

One of them, James Weiss, who also works for Alaska’s Fish and Game Department, pulls me aside and quietly says, “My son is growing up here, eating everything that comes out of the sea. I know fish travel through that area they plan to bomb and pollute, so of course I’m concerned. This is too important of a fishing area to put at risk.” p>

In the question-and-answer session that follows, Jim Kasch, the town’s mayor, assures Stolarcyk that he’ll ask the city council to become involved. “What’s disturbing is that there is no thought about the fish and marine life,” he tells me later. “It’s a sensitive area and we live off the ocean. This is just scary.” A Marine veteran, Kasch acknowledges the Navy’s need to train, then pauses and adds, “But dropping live ordnance in a sensitive fishery just isn’t a good idea. The entire coast of Alaska lives and breathes from our resources from the ocean.”

That evening, with the sun still high in the spring sky, I walk along the boat docks in the harbor and can’t help but wonder whether this small, scruffy town has a hope in hell of stopping or altering Northern Edge. There have been examples of such unlikely victories in the past. A dozen years ago, the Navy was, for example, finally forced to stop using the Puerto Rican island of Vieques as its own private bombing and test range, but only after having done so since the 1940s. In the wake of those six decades of target practice, the island’s population has the highest cancer and asthma rates in the Caribbean, a phenomenon locals attribute to the Navy’s activities.

Similarly, earlier this year a federal court ruled that Navy war games off the coast of California violated the law. It deemed an estimated 9.6 million “harms” to whales and dolphins via high-intensity sonar and underwater detonations improperly assessed as “negligible” in that service’s EIS.

As a result of Stolarcyk’s work, on May 6th Cordova’s city council passed a resolution formally opposing the upcoming war games. Unfortunately, the largest seafood processor in Cordova (and Alaska), Trident Seafoods, has yet to offer a comment on Northern Edge. Its representatives wouldn’t even return my phone call on the subject. Nor, for instance, has Cordova’s Prince William Sound Science Center, whose president, Katrina Hoffman, wrote me that “as an organization, we have no position statement on the matter at this time.” This, despite their stated aim of supporting “the ability of communities in this region to maintain socioeconomic resilience among healthy, functioning ecosystems.” (Of course, it should be noted that at least some of their funds come from the Navy.)

Government-to-Government Consultation

At Kodiak Island, my next stop, I find a stronger sense of the threat on the horizon in both the fishing and tribal communities and palpable anger about the Navy’s plans. Take J.J. Marsh, the CEO of the Sun’aq Tribe, the largest on the island. “I think it’s horrible,” she says the minute I sit down in her office. “I grew up here. I was raised on subsistence living. I grew up caring about the environment and the animals and fishing in a native household living off the land and seeing my grandpa being a fisherman. So obviously, the need to protect this is clear.”

What, I ask, is her tribe going to do?

She responds instantly. “We are going to file for a government-to-government consultation and so are other Kodiak tribes so that hopefully we can get this stopped.”

The US government has a unique relationship with Alaska’s Native tribes, like all other American Indian tribes. It treats each as if it were an autonomous government. If a tribe requests a “consultation,” Washington must respond and Marsh hopes that such an intervention might help block Northern Edge. “It’s about the generations to come. We have an opportunity as a sovereign tribe to go to battle on this with the feds. If we aren’t going to do it, who is?”

Melissa Borton, the tribal administrator for the Native Village of Afognak, feels similarly. Like Marsh’s tribe, hers was, until recently, remarkably unaware of the Navy’s plans. That’s hardly surprising since that service has essentially made no effort to publicize what it is going to do. “We are absolutely going to be part of this [attempt to stop the Navy],” she tells me. “I’m appalled.”

One reason she’s appalled: she lived through Alaska’s monster Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989. “We are still feeling its effects,” she says. “Every time they make these environmental decisions they affect us… We are already plagued with cancer and it comes from the military waste already in our ground or that our fish and deer eat and we eat those… I’ve lost family to cancer, as most around here have and at some point in time this has to stop.”

When I meet with Natasha Hayden, an Afognak tribal council member whose husband is a commercial fisherman, she puts the matter simply and bluntly. “This is a frontal attack by the Navy on our cultural identity.”

Gary Knagin, lifelong fisherman and member of the Sun’aq tribe, is busily preparing his boat and crew for the salmon season when we talk. “We aren’t going to be able to eat if they do this. It’s bullshit. It’ll be detrimental to us and it’s obvious why. In June, when we are out there, salmon are jumping [in the waters] where they want to bomb as far as you can see in any direction. That’s the salmon run. So why do they have to do it in June? If our fish are contaminated, the whole state’s economy is hit. The fishing industry here supports everyone and every other business here is reliant upon the fishing industry. So if you take out the fishing, you take out the town.”

The Navy’s Free Ride

I requested comment from the US military’s Alaskan Command office, and Captain Anastasia Wasem responded after I returned home from my trip north. In our email exchange, I asked her why the Navy had chosen the Gulf of Alaska, given that it was a critical habitat for all five of the state’s wild salmon. She replied that the waters where the war games will occur, which the Navy refers to as the Temporary Maritime Activities Area, are “strategically significant” and claimed that a recent “Pacific command study” found that naval training opportunities are declining everywhere in the Pacific “except Alaska,” which she referred to as “a true national asset.”

“The Navy’s training activities,” she added, “are conducted with an extensive set of mitigation measures designed to minimize the potential risk to marine life.”

In its assessment of the Navy’s plans, however, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), one of the premier federal agencies tasked with protecting national fisheries, disagreed. “Potential stressors to managed species and EFH [essential fish habitat],” its report said, “include vessel movements (disturbance and collisions), aircraft overflights (disturbance), fuel spills, ship discharge, explosive ordnance, sonar training (disturbance), weapons firing/nonexplosive ordnance use (disturbance and strikes), and expended materials (ordnance-related materials, targets, sonobuoys, and marine markers). Navy activities could have direct and indirect impacts on individual species, modify their habitat, or alter water quality.” According to the NMFS, effects on habitats and communities from Northern Edge “may result in damage that could take years to decades from which to recover.”

Captain Wasem assured me that the Navy made its plans in consultation with the NMFS, but she failed to add that those consultations were found to be inadequate by the agency or to acknowledge that it expressed serious concerns about the coming war games. In fact, in 2011 it made four conservation recommendations to avoid, mitigate, or otherwise offset possible adverse effects to essential fish habitat. Although such recommendations were non-binding, the Navy was supposed to consider the public interest in its planning.

One of the recommendations, for instance, was that it develop a plan to report on fish mortality during the exercises. The Navy rejected this, claiming that such reporting would “not provide much, if any, valuable data.” As Stolarcyk told me, “The Navy declined to do three of their four recommendations, and NMFS just rolled over.”

I asked Captain Wasem why the Navy choose to hold the exercise in the middle of salmon fishing season.

“The Northern Edge exercise is scheduled when weather is most conducive for training,” she explained vaguely, pointing out that “the Northern Edge exercise is a big investment for DoD [the Department of Defense] in terms of funding, use of equipment/fuels, strategic transportation, and personnel.”

Arctic Nightmares

The bottom line on all this is simple, if brutal. The Navy is increasingly focused on possible future climate-change conflicts in the melting waters of the north and, in that context, has little or no intention of caretaking the environment when it comes to military exercises. In addition, the federal agencies tasked with overseeing any war-gaming plans have neither the legal ability nor the will to enforce environmental regulations when what’s at stake, at least according to the Pentagon, is “national security.”

Needless to say, when it comes to the safety of locals in the Navy’s expanding area of operation, there is no obvious recourse. Alaskans can’t turn to NMFS or the Environmental Protection Agency or NOAA. If you want to stop the US military from dropping live munitions, or blasting electromagnetic radiation into national forests and marine sanctuaries, or poisoning your environment, you’d better figure out how to file a major lawsuit or, if you belong to a Native tribe, demand a government-to-government consultation and hope it works. And both of those are long shots, at best.

Meanwhile, as the race heats up for reserves of oil and gas in the melting Arctic that shouldn’t be extracted and burned in the first place, so do the Navy’s war games. From southern California to Alaska, if you live in a coastal town or city, odds are that the Navy is coming your way, if it’s not already there.

Nevertheless, Emily Stolarcyk shows no signs of throwing in the towel, despite the way the deck is stacked against her efforts. “It’s supposedly our constitutional right that control of the military is in the hands of the citizens,” she told me in our last session together. At one point, she paused and asked, “Haven’t we learned from our past mistakes around not protecting salmon? Look at California, Oregon, and Washington’s salmon. They’ve been decimated. We have the best and most pristine salmon left on the planet, and the Navy wants to do these exercises. You can’t have both.”

Stolarcyk and I share a bond common among people who have lived in our northernmost state, a place whose wilderness is so vast and beautiful as to make your head spin. Those of us who have experienced its rivers and mountains, have been awed by the northern lights, and are regularly reminded of our own insignificance (even as we gained a new appreciation for how precious life really is) tend to want to protect the place as well as share it with others.

“Everyone has been telling me from the start that I’m fighting a lost cause and I will not win,” Stolarcyk said as our time together wound down. “No other non-profit in Alaska will touch this. But I actually believe we can fight this and we can stop them. I believe in the power of one. If I can convince someone to join me, it spreads from there. It takes a spark to start a fire, and I refuse to believe that nothing can be done.”

Three decades ago, in his book Arctic Dreams, Barry Lopez suggested that, when it came to exploiting the Arctic versus living sustainably in it, the ecosystems of the region were too vulnerable to absorb attempts to “accommodate both sides.” In the years since, whether it’s been the Navy, Big Energy, or the increasingly catastrophic impacts of human-caused climate disruption, only one side has been accommodated and the results have been dismal.

In Iraq in wartime, I saw what the US military was capable of in a distant ravaged land. In June, I’ll see what that military is capable of in what still passes for peacetime and close to home indeed. As I sit at my desk writing this story on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, the roar of Navy jets periodically rumbles in from across Puget Sound, where a massive naval air station is located. I can’t help but wonder whether, years from now, I’ll still be writing pieces with titles like “Destroying What Remains,” as the Navy continues its war-gaming in an ice-free summer Arctic amid a sea of offshore oil drilling platforms.

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A Seattle high school is taking birth control access to the next level

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This is part 2 of our first-hand look at reproductive health access for teen girls in our home state of Washington. Read our introduction to the series here.

Chief Sealth International is a Seattle public school in the diverse neighborhood of Delridge, on the southwest end of the city. It’s a modern building, airy and light-filled, and the surprisingly buoyant mood set by gleefully yelling teenagers almost makes you forget how awful high school actually is. Unassumingly perched over the atrium is the school-based health center, where the students can get treatment for sore throats (both feigned and not), bandages for sprained ankles, and IUDs.

At the end of 2009, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists formally recommended long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) — IUDs and hormonal implants — as the most effective ways for teen girls to avoid unintended pregnancy, and Seattle’s public health department quickly decided that they should be available in school-based clinics. (These clinics, which have also provided other forms of birth control to students since the mid 1990s, are funded by a city-wide Families and Education Levy, which voters have supported since 1991.)

Neighborcare Health, which runs nonprofit medical and dental clinics in Seattle for low-income and uninsured families and individuals, was the first organization to step up to the plate and provide LARC placement services in certain Seattle public high schools and middle schools, where it sponsors the school-based health centers — and within just a few months of the ACOG recommendation, the first Seattle public school student got a Nexplanon hormonal implant through the program.

LARCs, because they’re meant to last for so long, are the most expensive forms of birth control available. But free, in-school LARC placement is made possible in part by Take Charge, a Washington State Medicaid program that’s specifically targeted toward minors seeking contraceptive services. Because of Take Charge, girls under 19 who don’t want to use their parents’ private insurance to get birth control have a way to get contraception in school at no cost.

Now, it’s as easy for a Chief Sealth student to get an IUD as it is to get a Coke – actually, easier, because pop is banned in Seattle schools.

More: http://grist.org/living/a-seattle-high-school-is-taking-birth-control-access-to-the-next-level/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=EDIT%20Weekly&utm_campaign=weekly

The Science of Global Warming

Six Things Michael Mann Wants You to Know About the Science of Global Warming

Dolphins drowning in oil‏

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From Avaaz:

Dear friends,

I live on the California coast, and I’m crying as I write this. Last week a massive oil pipeline burst off of Santa Barbara, and now thousands of dolphins, sea lions, and pelicans are drowning in slick rivers of oil. But my rage and sadness is also hope, because I know together we can make sure this never happens again.

While our rocky shores are awash in oil and dead fish, Plains All American CEO Greg Armstrong raked in over $5 million in compensation last year, and is guaranteed $29 – $87 million in golden parachute cash! These guys broke the law to make a quick buck. But if we hold them accountable, we can prevent another catastrophe by putting oil company executives everywhere on notice that they can’t get away with these kinds of shady games on our watch.

Let’s tell California Attorney General Kamala Harris and local District Attorney Joyce Dudly to file civil and criminal charges against Plains All American and its shady CEOs! Sign now, and spread the word:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/santa_barbara_oil_spill_loc/?bVYyJab&v=59386

The pipeline that burst lacked basic safety features, like an automatic shut-off valve. And Plains All American is one of the most reckless companies in the US, with over 175 documented violations in the past decade.  They’ve been warned time and again, but did nothing.

I live in San Diego, just 200 miles south of this devastating oil spill. My best days are the days I surf with seals and dolphins. Floating in the waves as they frolic with joy and abandon makes the whole world make sense.

These precious creatures are now drowning in oil because of the profiteering short cuts of the Plains All American, but we can hold the culprits accountable. Click now to tell the DA and AG to bring the maximum possible charges:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/santa_barbara_oil_spill_loc/?bVYyJab&v=59386

50 years ago a similar oil spill devastated Santa Barbara’s coastal sanctuary, sparking the modern environmental movement around the world.  Together people everywhere rose-up then in fury and hope, writing new laws to protect our planet and our children’s future.  Let us allow this tragedy to renew our determination, so together we can rise again.

With love and hope,

Terra, Joseph, Rosa and the rest of the Avaaz team

More information:

Santa Barbara oil spill: Authorities, environmentalists step up response (CNN)
http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/22/us/california-oil-spill

Santa Barbara oil pipeline leak rekindles memories of 1969 disaster (LA Times)
http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-santa-barbara-spill-20150521-story.html#page=1

Huge Oversight Gap on Refugio Pipeline (Santa Barbara Independent)
http://www.independent.com/news/2015/may/21/whos-watching-man-whos-watching-pipeline

SEC Form 10-K Annual Report (SEC)
http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1070423/000110465915013616/a14-25277_110k.htm#Item11_Executiv…

Executive Profile (Boardroom Insiders)
http://people.equilar.com/bio/greg-armstrong-plains-all/salary/25718#.VWYDse0azCQ


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We’re entirely funded by donations and receive no money from governments or corporations. Our dedicated team ensures even the smallest contributions go a long way.

Mounting Evidence Has Republican Climate Change Deniers on Thin Ice for 2016

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=13541

Transcript

Mounting Evidence Has Republican Climate Change Deniers on Thin Ice for 2016SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore. Political posturing among climate-change deniers in the Republican Party is heating up, leading up to the 2016 presidential elections. The Republicans are all repeating the same position. They’re saying that our climate is changing; yes, we can see that. In fact, the climate is always changing, says Mark Rubio, senator from Florida. But they say that humans have little to do with it. Any effort to link the two is seen as an effort to destroy the economy. The new Republican Senate in January passed a climate-change resolution for the first time in eight years on this topic. They voted 98 to 1 to approve a resolution stating that climate change is real and not a hoax. If that sounds good, it is. But then the Senate rejected a second amendment that stated climate change is real and it is significantly caused by humans. Jeb Bush, who is seen as a frontrunner, according to The New York Times, is on record saying, what I get a little tired of is that on the left, this idea that somehow science has decided all this is so, so you can’t have an opinion. That is according to the Washington Post article by Paul Waldman. Further, Ted Cruz, who recently announced his candidacy for president in the 2016 election, is on record at CNN saying, in the “last 15 years, there has been no recorded warming.”Well, science tells us otherwise. It has recorded 2014 as the warmest year in recorded history. Now joining me to discuss what is really going on here among the Republicans is Michael E. Mann and Subhanker Banerjee. Subhanker Banerjee is coming to us from Port Towsend, Washington. And Subhankar is an environmental and humanities scholar and activist. He founded ClimateStorytellers.org and is editor of the anthology Arctic Voices: Resistance at the Tipping Point. We’re also joined by Michael E. Mann, joining us from State College, Pennsylvania. Dr. Michael E. Mann is a distinguished professor and director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University and author of the book The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars. Thank you both for joining us. So I’m going to begin with you, Michael, here. Michael, recently we’ve seen some very dramatic reports in terms of the degree at which the ice caps are melting. How do we know that? How do we measure it? How do we know the ice caps are melting to the degree that it is?DR. MICHAEL E. MANN, DIR. OF EARTH SYSTEM SCIENCE CENTER, PENN STATE UNIV.: Yeah. So we have a variety of measurements that we make. We use satellites primarily. We can use those satellites to measure the amount of mass that is actually contained within the ice sheets. So we can detect fairly small changes in how large the Greenland ice sheet and the Antarctic ice sheet are through these satellite measurements. They’re basically measuring the gravity, the disturbance of the gravity field by these very large masses of ice. In addition, we can monitor changes in the ice cover of the Arctic Ocean. We use satellite measurements. We can look at the surface and we can determine if it’s ice or if it’s open water. So we have very accurate assessments, for several decades now, of how much sea ice there is in the Arctic. We know that we are on a trajectory right now where we will see potentially ice-free conditions at the end of the summer in the Arctic Ocean, perhaps in just a matter of a few decades, far in advance of what the climate models had predicted just a few years ago. So here’s an example of where climate change is unfolding, and in a way that’s faster and has a greater magnitude than what the climate models actually have predicted. Well, it turns out that when you change the amount of sea ice in the Arctic, you change the amount of heat that escapes from the Arctic Ocean into that very cold Arctic atmosphere. And more than a decade ago, scientists began to speculate that as we saw a decrease in that sea ice in the Arctic, we would actually see a large enough change in the amount of heat that escapes from the ocean into the atmosphere in the late fall and the early winter that we would actually change the behavior of the jet stream. And not only would we change the behavior of the jet stream, but we would do it in a fairly specific way, in a way that causes the jet stream to swing way northward in the winter over the West Coast of the U.S., so that all of that moisture that normally comes to California in the winter instead goes northward. And it also takes all that warmth much farther the northward. So you get unusually warm winters in Alaska, in western North America, like we’ve seen this year in particular. You see very dry winters in California. California also had its hottest year on record last year. So you’ve got decreased precipitation, you’ve got increased warmth, which means increased evaporation, which means increased loss of water from the soils, and you get a perfect storm of consequences for drought. And that is why California has now experienced what we think is the worst drought in 1,200 years, in at least 1,200 years. There is almost certainly a human fingerprint in that drought. And my colleague Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute in Oakland, California, and I had a commentary a week ago in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences where we explained how there is now mounting evidence that this historic drought that we’re seeing in California had a human fingerprint in it, the fingerprint of human-caused climate change. But it doesn’t stop there. You change the pattern of the jet stream in a way that may, ironically, give us more of those very powerful nor’easters that have pounded the Northeastern U.S. this winter, giving Boston record snow, producing fairly cold conditions in parts of the Northeastern U.S. So, that entire change in the behavior of the northern hemisphere jetstream and the very strange weather that we’re seeing around North America and around much of the rest of the world, climate change is now starting to play a role in that very unusual–in some measure, unprecedented–extreme weather that we’re seeing.PERIES: Michael, what is your take on the recent report we saw in terms of California having one year of water supply left?MANN: That’s right. It was a very distinguished colleague of mine, Jay Famiglietti, from the University of California, Irvine, who published an op-ed in the L.A. Times where he outlined why it is that California may be just one year away from water rationing. And when you think about it, right now California has record low snowpack, the lowest snowpack ever on record. So that means they’re not going to be getting that meltwater in the spring that provides them with some of the fresh water that they need. They haven’t been getting the rainfall they need. And you have certain special interests, like the natural gas industry, through fracking, using up a fair amount of water for energy. And so you have all these factors coming together in a way that could spell a disaster for California. If you ask Californians if climate change is real, not only is it real; it is impacting them in their daily lives now. And that’s true over an increasingly large part of the world.PERIES: And Subhankar, you’re a scholar of the Arctic and you’ve been monitoring and looking at the implications of the melting ice caps for quite a bit, for quite a long time. Tell us what your observations are.SUBHANKAR BANERJEE, EDITOR, ARCTIC VOICES: RESISTANCE AT THE TIPPING POINT: Yeah, absolutely. You know, I mean, I started my work in the Alaskan Arctic in 2001. And just to briefly summarize what Michael just talked about is why it is so significant, because when I started the work, we were beginning to see the impact of climate change on the Arctic ecology and human communities way back then. And I’ll give couple of quick examples. But what we’re seeing now: that what happens in the Arctic is impacting not only the Arctic but really kind of the northern hemisphere at large, and possibly many parts of the globe as well. So that’s why Michael’s comments were that these were all connected, what’s happening in the Arctic, to what’s happening in California, in the Northeast, and so on. Now, back to the–kind of in my earlier–one of the things that with the melting of the Arctic sea ice–and what we–because you mentioned Arctic ice cap, which is the Greenland ice sheet, and then we have the sea ice, which has hit a record winter maximum low. Usually the summer low is more significant, but the winter maximum is also low. Well, all that means is that the Arctic sea ice is on a death spiral. And that’s having significant impact on both the Arctic ecology and the human communities. And it is widely known that the polar bears are suffering. The–40 percent of the polar bear population in the southern Beaufort Sea in Arctic Alaska and Arctic Canada declined between 2001 and 2010. The walrus populations in the Chukchi Sea is really suffering. Six out of the last eight years, tens of thousands of walruses hauled out onto the barrier islands and the tundra because there was no sea ice for them to rest on. And there are many other impacts of the local ecology, the marine ecology. But what is not understood is that what’s happening in the Arctic Ocean is also impacting the land animals. And, in fact, I’ll give you one really kind of a sad example of that. In 2001, I had photographed 13 muskox, these kind of woolie, prehistoric animals from the Pleistocene era, and they’re in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with a newborn calf in April. Today there is no muskox in the refuge. And one of the impact is this icing on the tundra in the winter because of increased precipitation and warmer weather. Instead of snow, you’re getting rain, and that becomes ice. And that then impacts the animals’ access to food sources. And that’s impacted the muskox in part. So climate change kind of took a toll on the Arctic refuge muskox. And then, right now, in the Norwegian Arctic, in the Svalbard Archipelago, in the reporting of this winter lowest record on the winter maximum sea ice extent, the Guardian journalist did a wonderful connection between the open water in the Arctic seas, but ice on the tundra of the Svalbard, which is impacting the same way the reindeer population did, that really struck me, because when it’s ice, they cannot break the ice through their hooves. And then you have the human communities. What’s happening–and I know this from first-hand experience from Arctic Alaska, that many human communities, indigenous communities, are now being forced to relocate. One example is, of course, Kivalina. Because of the reduced sea ice extent, you have more open water, more coastal erosion, combined with storms, as well as melting of the permafrost. These are all connected, happening. But let me just wrap this up by saying that what the melting, this rapid vanishing of the Arctic sea ice has opened up in my mind is perhaps the most significant contradiction of our time. And the contradiction is this. On one hand, the Arctic sea ice is melting rapidly, causing local, regional, as well as global impacts for human communities, as well as animal communities. At the same time, there is an incredible push to industrially exploit the Arctic seas for oil and gas. In fact, right now this month, the Obama administration is poised to give shale the kind of–one of the permits, and this will continue all through April, and Shell might, if they get all the permits from the Obama administration, will likely drill there. So it’s really–I see that as the greatest contradiction of our time. On one hand, the very thing that is destroying us, not only up there but all over, we are further destroying it by sending Shell and other oil companies to drill in the Arctic Ocean.PERIES: I want to thank you, gentlemen, for joining us today.MANN: Thank you. It was a pleasure.BANERJEE: Thanks so much, Sharmini.PERIES: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

End

Woman spends night chained to Shell ship

By Associated Press Published: May 23, 2015

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) – The Coast Guard says it has no plans to remove a woman who has chained herself to the Arctic Challenger, a support ship for Royal Dutch Shell’s exploratory oil drilling plans.

The activist attached herself to the ship anchored in Bellingham Bay, north of Seattle, on Friday evening.

The Coast Guard cutter Osprey spent the night monitoring the protester but took no action, Petty Officer 3rd Class Katelyn Shearer said Saturday morning. “We’re really most concerned for her safety and the safety of everyone involved,” Shearer said.

Authorities spoke with the woman and asked her to remove herself. “There’s no plans right now to do anything further,” Shearer said.

The ship isn’t scheduled to leave the port for several days.

Rob Lewis, a spokesman for the Bellingham activists, identified the woman who has suspended herself in a climbing harness from the anchor chain of the Arctic Challenger as Chiara Rose.

Lewis said she is protesting Shell’s plan for arctic drilling. He described the Arctic Challenger as a savior vessel that is used in the case of an oil leak, but said activists doubt its effectiveness at preventing environmental disasters like the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.

He confirmed that the Coast Guard was not interfering with Rose, but they had impounded … More:

http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Woman-chains-herself-to-Shell-ship-in-Bellingham-Bay-overnight-304814081.html

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