Now Playing | Rebel Bells is about an all-girls radical collective located in the Calumet region connecting southeast side Chicago, Illinois and East Chicago in northwest Indiana. The Calumet region is an economically precarious, environmentally-polluted industrial corridor in the U.S. Midwest. The Rebel Bells was started in 2016 by three mothers who are leaders in the environmental justice movements in their respective communities. The goal of the Rebel Bells collective is to teach young girls about social justice and community activism in an empowered and safe environment.
Past Presentation | Hungry for Justice: Spotlight on the South provides a snapshot of the injustices present in our current food system and introduces one of the promising market-based solutions that has arisen—Food Justice Certification. It tells the story of one farm in the South and their commitment to focus on social justice issues for their farmworkers by seeking this certification and market label. Food Justice Certification, a project of the Agricultural Justice Project (AJP), is a unique program in the domestic fair trade movement as it is the only verification program in the marketplace that has included farmworkers and farmworker representatives in the development of the certification standards and includes them in the verification process.
Human civilisation is headed for collapse. Collectively, we are pushing planet Earth beyond the limits of endurance. There has to be a better way. Now a new book makes the case for systemic change.
Now Playing | Heavily armed officers of the University of Florida police department in Gainesville, FL, responding to a 911 call from a neighbor who heard screams, break into the campus apartment of Ghanaian graduate student, Kofi Adu-Brempong. Clad in SWAT gear and ready to attack, they see the disabled doctoral student, sitting with a metal table leg in his hand and within a minute of entry, shoot the unarmed man in the face. Adu-Brempong, who because of childhood polio, needed a cane to walk, and had been suffering from mental illness, now has severe facial injuries, and is charged with resisting arrest. He is guarded outside his hospital door, his legs shackled together when going to the bathroom. The officer who shoots Kofi, and who had previously been caught cruising through town throwing eggs at residents of a Black neighborhood, is not suspended or fired. Student protests lead the administration to drop charges but calls for revoking SWAT-like teams on campus go unheard. Kofi’s shooting is not an isolated incident but part of an ongoing pattern of police brutality against Blacks and a stark reminder of the dangers of increasingly militarized campuses nationwide. In His Own Home came out of outrage by a small group of concerned community members committed to seeing social justice happen on a local level. This documentary is an educational and organizing tool, especially calling for our communities to be safe from violence by racist and over-armed police.
A new essay collection explores the role of lawyers in the struggle for social justice.
Past Presentation | A documentary short that examines the dark history of environmental injustice around a creosote plant in southeastern North Carolina.
Past Presentation | A Swedish mining giant dumps hazardous waste in Arica in northern Chile. Subsequently thousands of inhabitants are damaged.Now the survivors are seeking justice in a groundbreaking transnational corporate accountability trial.
Past Presentation | A once in a lifetime filming experience, #Whilewewatch is Director Kevin Breslin’s passionate, raw and sensitive inside story about some very great people during Occupy Wall Street protests, which came out of nowhere and created a media revolution.
The state's attorney general accuses EPA regulators of losing sight of the agency's environmental mission and instead moonlighting as "social justice warriors fixated on race."
Now Playing | The Lakota people on the Rosebud Reservation of South Dakota welcome buffalo back to their land with hopes that this reunion will restore their cultural, physical, spiritual, and economic health.
A report on the Chesapeake Bay has found strong disparities between communities in different parts of the bay’s watershed in terms of health, economics and social justice concerns
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed two more bills — one addressing agriculture and the other restricting some state government activities from being directed based on environmental or social justice concerns
A report on the Chesapeake Bay released Tuesday found strong disparities between communities in different parts of the bay’s watershed in terms of health, economics and social justice concerns.
UC Berkeley is spreading the gospel of data science, a high-demand, high-earning field that can advance social justice, with a proposed new college and free curriculum to schools.
The company has built a reputation on serving up zany ice cream flavors and unapologetically supporting social justice causes. The union drive serves as a test of its values, workers say.
Past Presentation | Water is the essence of all life. It draws the Earth and the history of mankind, but it can turn into danger and even poison. The rivers of Bolivia, veins of the heart of South America, are turning black, red and even disappearing.
Past Presentation | Juan ‘Accidentes’ Dominguez is on his biggest case ever. On behalf of twelve Nicaraguan banana workers he is tackling Dole Food Co. in a ground-breaking legal battle for their use of a banned pesticide that sterilized workers. Can he beat the giant, or will the corporation get away with it? In the suspenseful documentary Bananas!, filmmaker Fredrik Gertten sheds new light on the global politics of food.
Now Playing | LA LUCHA SIGUE (THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES) is a feature length documentary that combines breathtaking cinematography with intimate access and creative storytelling as it follows COPINH and OFRANEH, two grassroots Indigenous and Black organizations leading the struggle for justice in Honduras.
Past Presentation | Bhopali is an award winning documentary about the survivors of the 1984 Union Carbide gas disaster of Bhopal, India. What was one of the world's worst industrial disasters of the past continues to cause suffering of thousands to this day, prompting victims to fight for justice against Union Carbide (now owned by DOW Chemical), the American corporation responsible.
Now Playing | "Again, Together" is a film created in partnership with Ronald L. Jones, bringing stories from communities across Houston that have been impacted by environmental racism — namely redlining, segregation, underinvestment, exposure to pollution, gentrification, inequitable disaster recovery resources and freeway development.
Now Playing | The other tale of two cities - both plagued by decades of lack of investment and racial discrimination in their wastewater infrastructure and facing further challenges amidst climate change - told by community members, advocates, utility operators, and elected officials. As the nation grapples with how to fund long overdue infrastructure needs, this film brings to light the need for urgency and equity in these decisions.
Now Playing | Thousands from across the political spectrum were inspired to travel to Standing Rock and join the resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline. In Spring 2016, the call went out, and no one would have guessed the movement would gain so much support around the world. The fight is not over: The sacred fire has been kicked out, but the embers are still ablaze in water protectors everywhere as Native Americans lead the important challenges to protect our environment.
Now Playing | Join Maya van Rossum, Founder of Green Amendments For The Generations, in her exploration of New Mexico’s biggest environmental issues and the role a NM Green Amendment could play in the fight for environmental justice with: Senator Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, legislative sponsor of the New Mexico Green Amendment; Emma Rose Cohen, CEO/Founder of the sustainable business Final; Beata Tsosie-Peña, Environmental Health and Justice Program Coordinator for Tewa Women United; Artemisio Romero y Carver, founding member of Youth United for Climate Crisis Action (YUCCA); and Dee George and Penny Aucoin, fracking waste accident victims impacted residents of Otis, NM.
Now Playing | When will the ""last"" time be the LAST time? Chris Oledude's single ""George Floyd"" has now been re-presented in the powerful video, ""George Floyd: Say Their Names."" America's struggle for equality and fairness throughout law enforcement parallels those struggles faced by minority groups in every society where the majority feels empowered to disregard civil and human rights. The powerful protests that erupted worldwide after George Floyd's murder in May, 2020, are celebrated here. The enduring power of Black women as determined healers of a torn community is celebrated here. The victims had names. We honor their lives by saying their names. The pressure for change must continue. No justice? No peace!
Now Playing | Alegria - A Humanitarian Expedition tells the story of an epic solo expedition across the Himalaya that changed the life of thousands of people in need. Supporting leprosy patients and mentally destitute women in India, Christoph von Toggenburg cycled 3200km on the world’s highest tracks pulling a 40kg trailer packed with survival gear. With little air to breathe and facing temperatures between -15°C to +45°C he crossed mountain passes higher than 5500m mastering a total of 50’000m, Christoph fell altitude sick and was hit by rock fall. Crossing Nepal during the Maoist unrests, conflict stricken Kashmir, Christoph encountered wonderful hospitality, found new friends, and saw some of the world’s most spectacular landscapes. He became film-maker, actor, fund-and awareness-raiser in one person capturing this epic adventure entirely by himself.
Now Playing | Together We Grow is a 40-minute documentary telling the story of Common Unity, in Aotearoa New Zealand. Introducing a thriving hub helping to build resilience into its local community by growing, sewing, repairing, sharing – you name it, Common Unity is doing it! Too many of our communities, here and around the world, are facing housing crises, food insecurity, social isolation, and more. In addition, the multiple impacts of the Covid pandemic and climate change are current and ongoing. How can we most effectively confront these challenges, and help our communities thrive in an economic system that leaves many feeling trapped in poverty? Founder Julia Milne and her team have created a completely replicable model for developing strong, connected, resilient communities – a model that could be put in place across thousands of communities in Aotearoa and millions of communities across the world. They’ve proven it can be done, this film was made to help them share the story!
Aid Groups Warn of “Secondary Disaster” as Death Toll from Turkey and Syria Quakes Tops 22,000, Mike Pence Subpoenaed in Jan. 6 Probe by Special Counsel Jack Smith, White Mississippi Lawmakers Approve Bill to Disenfranchise Voters in Majority-Black Jackson, Missouri Democrats Slam “Racism” After GOP House Speaker Silences Black Lawmakers, Eleanor Holmes Norton Calls Out GOP Racism as U.S. House Blocks 2 Washington, D.C., Bills, Police Arrest Suspect in Assault of Minnesota Rep. Angie Craig, Brazil’s Lula Makes First Official U.S. Visit Since Retaking Office, Brazilian Environmental Police Target Illegal Miners in Yanomami Territory Amid Humanitarian Crisis, Nicaragua Releases 200+ Political Prisoners and Transfers Them to U.S., Uganda Shuts Down U.N. Human Rights Office Amid Reports of Persistent Rights Abuses, Jen Angel, Beloved Social Justice & Media Activist, Writer and Oakland Baker, Dies at 48, David Harris, Who Inspired Young People in the ’60s to Resist Vietnam War Draft, Dies at 76
Five weeks after the Norfolk Southern toxic train derailment and so-called controlled burn that blanketed the town with a toxic brew of at least six hazardous chemicals and gases, senators grilled the CEO of Norfolk Southern over the company’s toxic train derailment. The company has evaded calls to cover healthcare costs as residents continue to report headaches, coughing, fatigue, irritation and burning of the skin. For more on the ongoing fallout from the toxic crash, and its roots in the plastics industry, we are joined by Monica Unseld, a biologist and environmental and social justice advocate who has studied the health impact of endocrine-disrupting chemicals used in plastics like those released in East Palestine. She is executive director of Until Justice Data Partners and co-lead for the Coming Clean science team. Also joining us is Judith Enck, a former EPA regional administrator and president of Beyond Plastics whose recent Boston Globe op-ed is headlined “The East Palestine disaster was a direct result of the country’s reliance on fossil fuels and plastic.”
Cinema Verde presents an interview with Director Malini Schueller about her film "In His Own Home" in which heavily armed officers of the University of Florida police department in Gainesville, FL, responding to a 911 call from a neighbor who heard screams, break into the campus apartment of Ghanaian graduate student, Kofi Adu-Brempong. Clad in SWAT gear and ready to attack, they see the disabled doctoral student, sitting with a metal table leg in his hand and within a minute of entry, shoot the unarmed man in the face. Adu-Brempong, who because of childhood polio, needed a cane to walk, and had been suffering from mental illness, now has severe facial injuries, and is charged with resisting arrest. He is guarded outside his hospital door, his legs shackled together when going to the bathroom. The officer who shoots Kofi, and who had previously been caught cruising through town throwing eggs at residents of a Black neighborhood, is not suspended or fired. Student protests lead the administration to drop charges but calls for revoking SWAT-like teams on campus go unheard. Kofi’s shooting is not an isolated incident but part of an ongoing pattern of police brutality against Blacks and a stark reminder of the dangers of increasingly militarized campuses nationwide. In His Own Home came out of outrage by a small group of concerned community members committed to seeing social justice happen on a local level. This documentary is an educational and organizing tool, especially calling for our communities to be safe from violence by racist and over-armed police. Our full catalog of video interviews and streaming films is available to members at cinemaverde.org.
CalMatters’ newest hires improve our coverage of education and homelessness and boost engagement and fundraising.
Our latest key hires bring an amazing range of skills and experience to our team.
Growing up, Hamid Torabzadeh experienced the impacts of air pollution. In high school, he found a club that showed him his path to doing something about it. Now a college freshman, he's studying to be what he calls a "new type of doctor."
The MacArthur Foundation announced 25 "genius" grant winners Wednesday.Why it matters: The award is seen as one of the most coveted and distinguished honors in academia, arts and science, and it includes a massive cash prize.Driving the news: The 2022 list of MacArthur Fellows included an ornithologist, a computer scientist and a human rights activist, among others.The MacArthur Fellows will receive an $800,000 grant, which is a "no-strings-attached award to extraordinarily talented and creative individuals as an investment in their potential," according to the MacArthur Foundation website.The foundation did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.Below are the the 25 recipients.2022 MacArthur Fellows grant winnersJennifer Carlson is a sociologist from Tucson, Arizona, who has been investigating gun culture in the United States.Paul Chan is an artist from New York who has depicted political and social topics.Yejin Choi is a computer scientist from Seattle who has helped "develop artificial intelligence-based systems that can perform commonsense reasoning," per the foundation's website.P. Gabrielle Foreman is a historian and digital humanist from University Park, Penn., who has researched early African American activism.Danna Freedman, a chemist from Cambridge, Mass., has worked to create "novel molecular materials with unique properties directly relevant to quantum information science," the foundation said.Martha Gonzalez, a musician and artist from Claremont, California, has used art to build community and promote social justice.Sky Hopinka is a filmmaker from Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, whose films elevate Indigenous perspectives.June Huh, a mathematician from Princeton, New Jersey, has made connections between combinatorics and algebraic geometry.Moriba Jah is an astrodynamicist from Austin, Texas, who has worked to create solutions for Earth's orbital structures.Jenna Jambeck is an environmental engineer from Athens, Georgia, who has investigated the scale of plastic pollution and has worked to stop plastic waste.Monica Kim, a historian from Madison, Wisc., has researched the relationship between U.S. foreign policy and global decolonization. Robin Wall Kimmerer, a plant ecologist and writer from Syracuse, New York, who has been researching how to build a better environment through scientific and Indigenous information.Priti Krishtel, a health justice lawyer from Oakland, California, has worked to build access to affordable medications.Joseph Drew Lanham, an ornithologist and writer from Clemson, S.C., has researched the impacts of forest management on birds and wildlife.Kiese Laymon is a Houston, Texas, writer who examines Black people's experience with violence.Reuben Jonathan Miller is a sociologist from Chicago who has researched the aftermath of incarceration, primarily among communities of color.Ikue Mori, an electronic music composer from New York, has expanded the range of technical music space through her own techniques.Steven Prohira, a physicist from Lawrence, Kansas, has used new tools to research "ultra-high energy sub-atomic particles" that could help us all understand the universe.Tomeka Reid, a jazz cellist and composer from Chicago, has used a number of musical traditions to create her unique sound.Loretta J. Ross, a human rights advocate from Northampton, Mass., has worked to link social justice and human rights with reproductive justice. Steven Ruggles, a historical demographer from Minneapolis, Minnesota, has helped build the world's largest public database of population statistics (the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series).Tavares Strachan is an artist from New York and The Bahamas who has promoted "overlooked contributions of marginalized figures throughout history" by using science, history and other projects, per the foundation's site.Emily Wang is a primary care physician and researcher from New Haven, Connecticut, who has studied the health effects of incarceration and people exiting prison.Amanda Williams is an artist from Chicago whose work "uses ideas around color and architecture to explore the intersection of race and the built environment," per the foundation's website.Melanie Matchett Wood, a mathematician from Cambridge, Mass., has used number theory and algebraic geometry to provide a new understanding of the properties of numbers.
The awards have already added 1,800 no-emission buses to the nation’s roadways, more than doubling the number of such vehicles in use.
The Vermont Green FC is the first team in the U.S. to make climate action a central tenet of its business plan. It's winning on and off the pitch.
On Monday, the Biden administration officially announced it will approve the largest oil drilling operation proposed for federal lands in decades: the Willow project in Alaska’s North Slope. While the administration opted to approve a reduced plan of three well pads, rather than ConocoPhillips’s original five, three pads could amount to up to 199 total wells, and the well pad reduction will only reduce the project’s estimated emissions by around 8 percent. Though pitched as a response to today’s energy security needs, the project is not slated to begin production until 2029. At its peak, the Willow project is expected to produce 180,000 barrels of oil per day and 600 billion barrels of oil total over its projected 30-year lifespan, all while releasing emissions equivalent to those of a third of the U.S. fleet of coal-fired power plants. The Arctic environment around it, meanwhile, has warmed four times as fast as the rest of the planet since 1979. Looking to soften the blow, the administration separately announced it will declare 13 million acres within Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve off limits to new drilling. The Willow project’s supporters have sought to frame opposition to the plan as coming solely from out-of-touch radicals. “The president and his team talk often about racial justice, racial equity, environmental justice—the vast majority of the Native people in Alaska support this project,” Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan said last week at a major oil and gas conference in Houston, CERAWeek. “And what they’re starting to say is, these lower-48 environmental groups who are now doing this big campaign against Willow are undertaking really the second wave of colonialism. This is from our Native leaders: eco-colonialism.” Asked afterward to clarify which Indigenous communities he was referring to, Sullivan said, “All of them.” The Willow project has indeed enjoyed support from many Indigenous governments and groups in Alaska. Half of lease revenues from sales in the Arctic go to a special grant program that disperses money to North Slope communities, which are majority Indigenous, “to help mitigate significantly adverse impacts related to oil and gas development.” The Willow project approval was welcomed by the North Slope Borough that encompasses the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska; elected leaders in the Iñupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, or ICAS; as well as the for-profit Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, which was formed by federal statute to allow Iñupiat shareholders to oversee and invest revenue from the state’s land and natural resources. In a joint statement on Monday, the Alaska Federation of Natives—the largest statewide Native organization—supported Willow and said that the project “bolsters U.S. energy security at an important time when we are trying to raise the urgency of investing in critical needs arising because of Russia’s aggression.”Local support for the Willow project is hardly unanimous, though. Rosemary Ahtuangaruak—mayor of the 525-person city closest to the Willow project, Nuiqsut—has been an outspoken critic. “Our people feed their families with traditional subsistence activities like fishing and hunting caribou, moose, birds, and more,” she wrote last November. “The Willow project’s massive infrastructure would bulldoze straight through these crucial habitats, redirecting the animals’ migratory paths, moving them away from nearby villages, and endangering the food security of local people. That’s not to mention the damage from exposure to air and water pollution that we face.”“Not only a complete betrayal of his commitments to confront the climate crisis but also an open violation of Indigenous rights.”The group Sovereign Iñupiat for a Living Arctic condemned the Biden administration’s approval of the project, calling it “a great disappointment” that “comes after years of grassroots, Iñupiaq-led opposition,” and represents “the continued prioritization of profit over climate and people.” The Indigenous Environmental Network has called the project “the next U.S. climate bomb,” adding that Biden’s decision constitutes “not only a complete betrayal of his commitments to confront the climate crisis but … also an open violation of Indigenous rights. It doesn’t matter what other ‘Arctic Protections’ this administration puts in place, the ecological & spiritual damage wrought by this project cannot be offset nor supplanted.” After the administration’s decision was announced this week, Sullivan hauled out the same talking point he had used earlier and commended Alaska Natives in the North Slope for persevering, “even as far-left, Lower 48, eco-colonialist NGOs continued their efforts to silence Alaska Native voices.” ConocoPhillips is one of Sullivan’s top donors. He has received nearly $50,000 from the company’s PAC and its employees—most donating considerable sums—since his inaugural 2014 Senate campaign. Sullivan’s top donor overall is the billionaire-funded conservative anti-tax group Club for Growth. ConocoPhillips CEO Ryan Lance has used similar talking points. Approving the Willow project, he said Monday that it “fits within the Biden administration’s priorities on environmental and social justice.” Praising the White House’s decision, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska called Willow “meticulously planned, socially just, and environmentally sound.” ConocoPhillips is Murkowski’s top corporate campaign donor, having furnished her campaigns with more than $140,000 since 2003.
From big bears to the boreal forests, here are some books that moved us and helped illuminate what’s worth fighting for. The post Our Favorite Environmental Books of 2022 appeared first on The Revelator.
A trio of Tennessee Democrats who were subject to expulsion votes over a gun reform protest has captured national attention as observers grapple with the potential impact amid roiling debates over the gun issue. Driving the news: A Republican-led effort to expel the state lawmakers — dubbed the "Tennessee three" — succeeded in ousting two members of the group, Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson.An effort to expel Rep. Gloria Johnson failed by a single vote.The lawmakers' protest came in the wake of a school shooting in Nashville that left three children and three adults dead.The big picture: Allegations of racism have swirled following the vote, given that both Jones and Pearson are Black while Johnson is white.The effort could also have a greater rippling effect on state legislatures across the country, with experts warning it could further embolden majority party lawmakers to punish minority party members with divergent political positions. Democratic state Rep. Justin Jones of Nashville gestures during a vote on his expulsion from the state legislature at the State Capitol Building on April 6, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. Photo: Seth Herald/Getty ImagesJustin JonesAt 27 years old, Jones was one of the youngest members of the state House prior to his expulsion. The community-organizer-turned-lawmaker was elected last year to represent parts of Nashville.Jones has Black and Filipino heritage, was born in Oakland, California and is a graduate of Fisk University in Nashville. He has been working towards a master of theological studies at Vanderbilt University, according to his campaign website.State of play: “We called for you all to ban assault weapons and you respond with an assault on democracy," Jones told lawmakers during the debate to expel him, CNN reported.Jones was expelled in a 72-25 vote.His absence from the state House could be brief, wit a special Metro Council meeting set for next Monday on filling his seat. The expelled members can run again for their old offices."I'm hopeful because I saw thousands of people — and in fact people across this nation, I would say, millions — who are paying attention to what happened and are challenging it, saying that it was wrong," Jones told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Friday. Democratic state Reps. Justin Pearson (C) of Memphis and Justin Jones (R) of Nashville attend the vote in which they were expelled from the state Legislature on April 6, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. Photo: Seth Herald/Getty ImagesJustin PearsonPearson, 28, won his seat in a landslide earlier this year to represent parts of Memphis.A Memphis native, Pearson is a graduate of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, where he studied government and legal studies and education studies, according to his campaign website.He has worked as a community organizer focusing on environmental and social justice. He founded and co-founded organizations including the Memphis Community Against Pollution and the Memphis Community Against the Pipeline, respectively, to oppose a proposed crude oil pipeline project that could have impacted the city's drinking water, per his website.State of play: Pearson, who was expelled in a 69-26 vote, has spoken openly about the way his life has been impacted by gun violence.The fight for gun reform “is personal when you lose your friends, when you lose loved ones," he told the New York Times.Pearson told ABC News' "Start Here" podcast he recently lost a classmate to gun violence."We will not stop. We will not give up! We will continue working to build a nation that includes, not excludes, or unjustly expels," Pearson tweeted Friday. Democratic state Rep. Gloria Johnson of Knoxville speaks after a vote to expel Justin Jones of Nashville from the governing body on April 6, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. Photo: Seth Herald/Getty ImagesGloria JohnsonJohnson, 60, is a former teacher who was elected to the state House in 2012. After losing the 2014 race as an incumbent and a repeat contest in 2016, she returned to office in 2018 and represents parts of Knoxville.Born in Colorado, Johnson's family moved around during her childhood before settling in Knoxville when she was in the seventh grade. Johnson is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville with a degree in education, per her website.Johnson has taught at both the elementary and high school levels. She previously worked as a field organizer for former President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign and served as the Knox County Democratic Party Chairwoman.During her 27 years as a teacher, the issue of gun violence and school shootings felt personal, per interview she's given. She spoken about being a teacher at Knoxville's Central High School during a shooting in 2008 that left one person dead.Johnson told the New York Times that she recalled, “the terror on the kids’ faces as they were running down that hill into my classroom.”"As someone who worked in a classroom where we lost one of our students, you never forget the faces, the people, the children, and the traumatic experience. And we do not want that to happen to another child and another school," Johnson told ABC News.
Editor’s note: This is part four of a four-part series in which our special correspondent Terry Collins, Ph.D, examines what qualities of leadership are essential for ensuring that the EU’s Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability inspires trust in Europeans and the world that there can be a body of chemical products and processes we can safely live with. Read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. Our civilization needs commercial chemicals to prosper and survive. But as a chemist, I long ago arrived at a conviction — our civilization can’t last long without making a clean getaway from the endocrine-disrupting chemicals that litter today’s chemical enterprise and are harming us as seriously as climate change. This means we must have appropriately wired people to accomplish the great escape from chemicals that are disrupting our endocrine systems. Engager is my term for that wiring. Let’s explore why this disposition is key for European Union leadership in pursuing their new chemicals strategy for sustainability. Engager The engager sustainability disposition moves its bearers to positive action when scientific facts demand that injustice cannot be ignored. You can detect this in talking with them. They conduct their own scholarship rather than parrot rumors. They follow up where possible by acquainting and allying themselves with the sources of the information. They have fidelity to scientific data and justice, and can tune out the outside noise. People with the engager disposition cannot ignore the social and environmental justice issues, especially the ability of endocrine-disrupting chemicals to adversely impact families for generations after an incumbent generation has been exposed. But like all powerful organisms, the modern chemical enterprise possesses a healthy immune system and resists the efforts of engagers. Think of the previous sustainability dispositions I’ve written about and where their bearers turn up — the executives, PR spin doctors, faux experts, lobbyists and trade association operatives. "But like all powerful organisms, the modern chemical enterprise possesses a healthy immune system and resists the efforts of engagers." In academia, especially American academia, researchers are scared to lose research funding by embracing controversy — and this dread intimidates folks from adopting the engager disposition. While great engager-bearing sustainability scholars can be found in many academic institutions, academic administrations are often sustainability incompetent. They measure their progress in the technical advances of their faculty and students, development gifts, constructions, and, admirably, social justice reforms. Too many academic administrators are sleepwalking through flattering trustee meetings and cheerful college functions while being largely unresponsive to the calls of sustainability. They ignore the most vital of all academic domains where human ingenuity can best honor the gift of life and build transgenerational justice that is the measure of a civilization’s sustainability competence. In our unsustainable world, academia could instead adopt a collective engager disposition to better honor its duty to seek and act on the truth that might set our civilization free. Engager influence growsI have come wearily to this judgment with chemical sustainability matters; only engagers have the assets of disposition, character and intellect to matter. This typically also means that engagers have had to look outside the system they are hoping to change for support at every level.In my experience with many engagers, they each possess remarkable intellectual and creative function, an open mind with advanced natural abilities that deftly process abstract thought while keeping political thought in perspective. Engager bearers are prepared to risk their professional and even personal security when the situation calls for it to reject the status quo when it makes no sense to them in science or in justice. This places a heavy burden and responsibility upon the individuals with engager dispositions. But to borrow phrasing from Martin Luther King Jr., the arc of the chemical future bends toward their solutions. Fortunately, engager bearer numbers are growing, as is their influence. The birthing of the EU’s Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, which explicitly incorporates both endocrinological science and the promise of funding for necessary innovations in safe and sustainable chemistry, is likely to accelerate those trends. As companies learn that their sustainability efforts are rewarded by the market for safer products, while their old, unsustainable chemicals are punished, the acceleration will be enhanced.It’s depends on us, not the chemicalsIn the end, whether we survive the threats of endocrine-disrupting chemicals or succumb to their perils depends on us, not on the chemicals. Escaping these chemicals owns the center of the ethical stage of the chemical enterprise. The more Europe’s leaders of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability actualization stay focused on their ethical duty to protect the future from the money-first present, the more successful the strategy and our civilization will be.Engager bearers inspire me. The responsible engager heroes include not only spectacular scientists who are often Socratic visionaries, but an indubitable Gandalf (Pete Myers), journalists, authors, policy advocates, congresspeople and parliamentarians, students, institutional officials, and, occasionally, regulators. The galvanized brilliance of engager researchers and communicators heartens me to believe that European civilization will indeed batter its weary way through the industrial endocrine-disrupting chemical defenses to a sustainable future. Terrence J. Collins, Ph.D., is a Teresa Heinz professor of green chemistry, and director of the Institute for Green Science at Carnegie Mellon University. His views do not necessarily represent those of Environmental Health News, The Daily Climate, or publisher Environmental Health Sciences.The author thanks the Axios Fund, Korein-Tillery LLC and the Heinz Family Foundation for support of CMU's Institute for Green Science.
The popular YouTuber, engineer, and inventor works to engage young people in science and technology while encouraging curiosity and resilience.
Costa Rica is known for being an eco-friendly destination, a place to be one with nature and enjoy the ‘Pura Vida’ life. The country is powered by renewable energy and has a vast number of national parks, wildlife reserves, and conservation areas. Many hotels and businesses have consciously decided to immerse into this lifestyle and […] The post 3 Sustainable Hotels in Costa Rica that Put the Planet First appeared first on The Tico Times | Costa Rica News | Travel | Real Estate.
Trust Lab, founded by a former Google exec for content moderation, will identify “online harmful content, including toxicity and misinformation.” The post CIA Venture Capital Arm Partners With Ex-Googler’s Startup to “Safeguard the Internet” appeared first on The Intercept.
Australia’s environmental movement is not united. The reasons for that go deep.
Solar-powered lights fixed onto the outside of shacks in informal settlements may be a better option than high-mast lights, a project in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, has shown. As part of their PhD project, Yael Borofsky and Stephanie Briers from ETH Zurich University in Switzerland collaborated with the leadership and residents of PJS informal settlement, the […] The post There’s a way to sort out lighting in informal settlements appeared first on SAPeople - Worldwide South African News.
The best thing to do is to stop emitting carbon. However, preserving a safe climate will likely require us to go further.
Washington, D.C., May 31, 2023 — The National Geographic Society is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2023 Wayfinder Awards. This year’s awardees include an Egyptologist, documentary filmmaker, investigative journalist, biologist, urban ecologist and other innovators, and were selected for their exemplary achievements in exploration through science, education, conservation, technology, and storytelling. Wayfinder Award...
Since President Biden took office, his administration has put environmental justice front and center in its strategies to combat climate change. Last year, the Inflation Reduction Act made billions of dollars available to environmental justice–related initiatives; in April, the president signed an executive order mandating that environmental justice principles be worked into the mission of every federal agency, not just the ones dealing directly with the environment. It’s a long-overdue effort to correct the systemic inequities that Black and brown people face when it comes to climate change and other environmental factors.Unfortunately, advocates and federal workers may have to grapple with the Supreme Court to make some of these changes a reality. None of the Supreme Court decisions that made headlines last week dealt directly with environmental issues, but the rulings have real ramifications for how the government could help vulnerable communities moving forward.As E&E News reporter Pamela King reported this week, the Supreme Court’s decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, which dealt with affirmative action on college campuses, could have serious implications for government attempts to prioritize racial equity, including on environmental matters. Last week’s historic ruling, which effectively banned race-based admissions policies, “does not mean that race-conscious environmental justice efforts are doomed—but the court clearly signaled that the strict-scrutiny test has very sharp teeth,” Emily Hammond, a professor and vice provost for faculty affairs at George Washington University Law School, told King. “Federal, state and local governments will need to tightly craft their environmental justice policies to meet this standard.”The court is already looming large in how the administration deals with potential oncoming legal challenges from conservative states. Last Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it would drop an investigation into whether Black communities living in an industry-heavy stretch of coastline in Louisiana suffered disproportionate cancer risks thanks to the state’s failure to regulate chemical plants there. For decades, residents of the region, commonly referred to as “Cancer Alley,” have complained of health problems from petrochemical and oil facilities. According to the NAACP Legal Fund, one school district that sits half a mile from a chemical facility has a 25 percent higher incidence rate of all types of cancers compared to the rest of the state. The area has been the subject of countless media investigations over the past few decades, and Biden mentioned the region by name when signing a major environmental executive order at the start of his term. The administration’s adoption of the case last year was seen as a substantial win for the environmental justice movement and a long-awaited chance to bring changes to Cancer Alley residents. But the EPA said last week, just two days before the affirmative action ruling was announced, that it had taken sufficient enforcement against Louisiana’s Departments of Health and Environmental Quality based on the deficiencies it found, and would not be pursuing a Civil Rights Act investigation. The Biden administration has centered much of its environmental justice investigation and enforcement around Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits racial discrimination in programs and entities receiving federal funds. Title VI has historically been used in areas like housing, education, and transportation, but the Biden administration has taken the idea for a new spin with regard to climate and health. It’s seen some success with this strategy. Earlier this year, the Justice Department reached an agreement with the Alabama Department of Public Health, finding that the state had violated Title VI in neglecting to address sanitation conditions in the majority-Black Lowndes County. Residents have for decades complained about open sewage pits in their yards, high rates of disease, and a lack of help from the local government. But in late May, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry—who is also running for governor—filed suit against the EPA and the Biden administration. While the suit doesn’t specifically name the agency’s investigation into conditions in Cancer Alley, it claims that the EPA’s attempted use of Title VI in enforcement procedures oversteps its authority. The EPA has “lost sight of the agency’s actual environmental mission, and instead decided to moonlight as […] social justice warriors fixated on race,” Landry wrote. The majority opinion in the Harvard case last week focused mostly on the constitutionality of race-based admissions rather than specific issues with Title VI. But in a concurring opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch echoed some of Landry’s specific allegations about the use of Title VI. In the suit, Landry also raised the “major questions” doctrine, a conservative legal interpretation that aims to limit how much government agencies can do without explicit permission from Congress; the doctrine formed the bedrock of the court’s decision last year in West Virginia vs. EPA, which constrained the agency’s ability to regulate emissions from power plants. The doctrine was also brought up last week in the Biden v. Nebraska student loan ruling, suggesting that the question around what Congress explicitly allows specific agencies to do will be a continual theme in decisions to come. Legal experts told the AP that it’s likely the EPA dropped the investigation in Louisiana in order to avoid the risk of this suit being brought before the right-wing court. But that raises questions of how the administration can otherwise help vulnerable communities—and it doesn’t mean anything to the residents of Cancer Alley, who have been living in environmentally dangerous conditions for years.“I would never support the government abandoning their obligation,” Robert Taylor, a resident of St. John the Baptist Parish and founder and executive director of the Concerned Citizens of St. John, told The Washington Post. “It will not help the residents here. They know that we are the targets of these industries.… We have the least protection. And now the federal government can’t provide protection.”Good NewsWind and solar are pulling more than their fair share in Texas, where a sustained heat wave and increased air conditioner use have made energy demand skyrocket. The state set a record for renewable energy generation last week, and renewables provided up to 40 percent of Texas’s energy mix during peak use times. Bad NewsIt’s not just you—this July 4 was really, really, really hot. The global average temperature on July 4 reached 62.92 degrees Fahrenheit, making it the hottest day on record, according to data from the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Prediction.Stat of the Week4.5%That’s the rate at which incidences of domestic violence against women in South Asian countries increase as the ambient temperature rises by one degree Celsius, a new study published last week in the journal JAMA Psychiatry has found.Elsewhere in the EcosystemClimate change could swamp this island. Home sales are surging.An island in Maryland threatened by sea level rise is experiencing a surge in real estate sales, The Washington Post reports: More homes have sold on Smith Island in the last three years than in the previous 11 combined, according to sales data. Locals see a story of hope. Their efforts to rescue a 400-year-old way of life tied to tide and season are beginning to bear fruit. Many question the doomsday predictions for the island or hope they can find a way to ride out rising waters.Environmentalists see a dangerous kind of denialism. They say Smith Island’s long-term survival is doubtful, so the only rational path is retreat. They see the recent interest in the island as part of an unsettling national trend—studies show more Americans are moving into climate danger zones.Read Justin Jouvenal’s full report at The Washington Post.This article first appeared in Life in a Warming World, a weekly TNR newsletter authored by contributing deputy editor Molly Taft. Sign up here.
Most of those policies take shape every five years in the farm bill, and hearings and negotiations around the 2023 version of the mega-legislation are just getting started. About 150 people attended the Food Not Feed Summit in Washington, D.C, and many headed to Capitol Hill afterward to meet with lawmakers. Another 700 people were registered […] The post The Field Report: Calls Grow for a Farm Bill that Serves ‘All of Us, Not Just Corporations’ appeared first on Civil Eats.
Over 300 social impact leaders from around the world convened on MIT’s campus to discuss global challenges and how to solve them together.
The world might not have enough renewable energy to power everything by 2029, but we’ll have more than enough to keep the lights on without additional drilling.
Last week, a group of Republican senators gathered for a special closed-door lunch on Capitol Hill with author Alex Epstein, who distributed signed copies of his newest book to attendees. After the lunch, Senator Kevin Cramer of North Dakota told E&E News that Epstein was “brilliant,” adding, “He made the case that fossil fuels contributed more to people getting out of poverty than the other way around.”Epstein’s name may not be recognizable to most Americans, but his star has been rising on the right for quite some time. We may all start hearing about him more often because the time is ripe for his particular brand of fossil fuel boosterism to become the GOP’s mainstream climate talking point.Epstein began his career at the Ayn Rand Institute, where he rose to prominence with op-eds on subjects like abortion, animal rights, and keeping the United States hooked on oil, which he described in 2006 as “a wonderful, life-sustaining product.” In 2011, after leaving the organization, he founded the Center for Industrial Progress; per its website, CIP is devoted to “helping industry fight for its freedom, with new ideas, arguments, and policies that will improve our economy and our environment.” Since then, he’s written two books (2014’s The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels and 2022’s Fossil Future). He’s been on countless right-wing media shows extolling the virtues of fossil fuels, and debated climate activist Bill McKibben on the topic in 2015. Despite his carbon-loaded arguments, Epstein famously does not want to be called a climate denier, claiming that he “explicitly acknowledge[s] the phenomenon of global warming.” CIP’s financial activities are harder to track than those of other right-wing organizations working against climate action. Epstein’s organization openly bills itself as a “for-profit foundation,” claiming on a (now-deleted) part of its website that it is “proudly not a 501c-3 non-profit.” Still, even without this financial information, it’s clear from the company Epstein keeps that he’s become a darling of groups with deep ties to the fossil fuel industry. This year alone, he’s spoken at two organizations that are members of the State Policy Network, a cluster of groups that work with the Koch-funded American Legislative Council, or ALEC, and gave a keynote address at the Heartland Institute’s annual climate conference. Heartland has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from oil and coal giants to push climate denial.There’s a big difference, however, between the rhetoric of these old-school organizations—which, traditionally, have challenged the science behind climate change—and Epstein’s schtick. While Epstein does his fair share of bad-faith science (like promoting the idea that carbon dioxide is necessary as a plant food), his central point is that using fossil fuels is a moral imperative. Because humans have achieved so much in the past using coal, gas, and oil, his thesis goes, we should keep using them. By contrast, stopping fossil fuel use will do nothing but stifle human “flourishing” and end up only hurting the world’s poor.“The fastest way to decrease energy poverty and overall poverty is to end all favoritism for wasteful, unreliable solar and wind schemes,” he writes. “And above all reject any proposal to outlaw reliable fossil fuels and nuclear in favor of unreliable ‘renewable’ energy.”This is, obviously, a colossal misdirect. People who are advocating that the world must transition off fossil fuels are not saying that we should all go back to less efficient forms of energy, like burning firewood, or that the poor must stay poor. The whole idea is to develop new technologies, curb some of our enormous energy use, and beef up alternate forms of energy like wind and solar. These emissions cuts, in turn, can protect the world’s most vulnerable, whom Epstein professes to care so much about, from the impacts of climate change. But for Epstein, there’s no future in which we’re able to divorce ourselves from fossil fuels; no possible world where reducing our energy consumption and putting guardrails on our natural tendencies to use and produce more could be beneficial. This is an argument that Ayn Rand herself probably would have loved: Letting a gargantuan industry like oil or coal run wild with zero government intervention would, in a book like Atlas Shrugged, probably fix all sorts of societal ills. In the real world, it’s gotten us into a catastrophic mess.But Randian rhetoric also makes Epstein an ideal tool for the GOP’s new approach to attacking climate policy. I’ve written before about how the age of old Republican climate denialism—embodied most famously by Senator Jim Inhofe, of snowball fame—is over. In this summer’s intense heat, with temperature records being smashed left and right, insisting that absolutely nothing is wrong with our planet is ludicrous. For a GOP politician focused on keeping fossil fuels in business, especially in the face of the rapid expansion of cheap renewable alternatives, squabbling over numbers and charts is counterproductive. It’s all about repackaging fossil fuels, turning them from the problem to part of the solution. Speaker Kevin McCarthy demonstrated some of this new rhetoric this week. When a reporter asked him at an event about wildfires and climate change, McCarthy didn’t waste time denying them. Instead, he proposed planting a trillion trees, which the AP notes “would also require a massive amount of space—roughly the size of the continental United States,” and lauded “American natural gas” as having a key role in “a cleaner world.”Epstein’s arguments are also an attempt to turn the tables on Democrats’ push for environmental and climate justice—the idea that cutting emissions is crucial to keeping people, especially Black and brown communities, safe and healthy. In Epstein-land, fossil fuels are the good guy. It’s climate “alarmists” who are the racists, who want poor people to suffer without energy access. It’s no wonder that in addition to right-wing dark money groups and traditional climate deniers, he’s also gained favor with conservative technocrats like Peter Thiel and “thinkers” like Jordan Peterson, who make scoffing at social justice the entirety of their brand.This wasn’t Epstein’s first visit to Congress, but given the glowing reviews from the book signing, it definitely won’t be his last. In the Biden era, as temperatures keep getting hotter and climate action finally becomes federal policy, the GOP and its fossil fuel allies need a new savior—and Epstein is gunning for the job.Good NewsThe Environmental Protection Agency said last week that it would be making $20 billion available from a specially earmarked “green bank” fund established by the Inflation Reduction Act for clean energy projects, especially those in disadvantaged communities, across the country. Bad NewsWe’re still a few months away from the end of hurricane and fire seasons, but the federal government might have trouble helping with disaster. Officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency said this week its disaster fund would run out of money by late August. Stat of the Week$300 millionThat’s how much a yacht vandalized by climate activists in Ibiza this weekend is worth. Activists posted a video on Twitter showing them spray-painting the boat, reportedly owned by a Walmart heiress, and holding a sign reading, “You Consume, Others Suffer.”Elsewhere in the EcosystemEnergy industry uses whale activists to aid anti-wind farm strategy, experts sayThe fossil fuel industry is enlisting whale lovers in the fight against offshore wind, The Guardian reports: In the classroom, Roberts and his students have been studying how such rhetoric can stop renewable energy projects in their tracks—despite experts who say recent whale deaths have no connection to wind power. That night at the town hall, Roberts also spotted Elizabeth Knight, who founded Green Oceans earlier this year, another anti-wind organization in Rhode Island. Roberts said he felt compassion for Knight.“She thinks a train wreck is coming,” said Roberts, referring to Knight’s fears of how wind power will push right whales to extinction. “And when you see that, you want to do all you can.”But he is concerned that Knight and Chalke are falling into a trap laid out by rightwing interests that are sowing doubt to fuel public discontent over renewable energy projects.Read Shanti Escalante-De Mattei’s full report at The Guardian.This article first appeared in Life in a Warming World, a weekly TNR newsletter authored by contributing deputy editor Molly Taft. Sign up here.
The following six titles are correctives to isolation.
As summer heatwaves loom and farmworkers take to the fields, an in-depth report highlights massive gaps in regulations, especially around pesticide use and exposure.
Before he won an unprecedented third term last fall, former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva buried the hatchet with the prominent environmental activist who had served as his environmental minister from 2003 to 2008. Marina Silva (no relation) left Lula’s Workers’ Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores) in 2009 and sharply criticized her former comrades during her own presidential runs in 2010, 2014, and 2018 over the party’s corruption scandals and for having embraced a destructive development model. The PT returned fire by portraying her as a sanctimonious tool of big banks beholden to the reactionary pastors of her evangelical faith. Things got nasty and personal. But in September, facing off against an openly authoritarian incumbent, Lula wanted to forge a broad front of support. Given her standing at home and abroad, making amends with Marina was a priority, one that would underscore Lula’s commitment to turning the page from the calamitous environmental record of Jair Bolsonaro. Upon winning, Lula once again made Marina his environmental minister, a post she assumed to international sighs of relief.Nearly five months in, however, the administration seems to be fracturing over the same basic question that drove Marina out 15 years ago: namely, whether the president is willing to forgo massive new energy projects and stand up to major agricultural producers that contribute to Brazil’s balance of trade but who have funded far-right initiatives and are among those most responsible for Amazonian deforestation. The present crisis might fade, but it lays bare a critical paradox. Brazil—and, by extension, the planet that depends on the Amazon as a carbon sink—seems to be at a turning point. Lula’s administration, insiders believe, has to deliver on economic development if it wants to hold off a right-wing authoritarian resurgence. But doing that might mean caving on some of the very policies that were supposed to distinguish him from his predecessor. And by pursuing these short-term benefits, Lula would signal he might be willing to placate political forces who want to chip away at the high environmental bar he set for his administration. Last week, the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA), the government entity responsible for upholding both federal environmental laws and international agreements Brazil has ratified, denied a request from the country’s national oil company Petrobras to drill at the mouth of the Amazon river basin. The company’s petition reportedly failed to adequately address concerns over environmental safety. “There is no doubt that Petrobras was offered every opportunity to remedy critical points of its project, but it still presents worrying inconsistencies for the safe operation in a new exploratory frontier of high socio-environmental vulnerability,” the head of IBAMA wrote in his official statement.Petrobras responded that at this stage, when it would only be checking for oil rather than extracting it, environmental risks are low. IBAMA was not convinced, insisting that the mouth of the river is especially delicate, housing various endangered species, indigenous territories, and mangroves of enormously abundant biodiversity. The agency’s competent technocratic corps put its foot down in a decision that Marina said this Tuesday would be “obeyed and respected.”What followed was a kind of revolt. Senator Randolfe Rodrigues, an important Lula administration ally in Brazil’s upper chamber of Congress who hails from the state where Petrobras hopes to drill, quit Rede Sustenabilidade—the party that Marina founded in 2013 which he joined in 2015—in protest. Rodrigues believes new oil finds could be an economic boon to his state, one of the poorest in the country. Lula’s minister of mines and energy urged Petrobras to persist. Lula equivocated in an attempt to keep the peace: “If exploring this oil is a problem for the Amazon,” he said from the G7 summit in Japan, “it will certainly not be explored.” But he also downplayed the risks, leaving the door open to signing off on the project down the line. On Thursday, it was reported that Lula had hoped Marina would come to him before IBAMA’s negative response went public so that they could coordinate the political and policy implications. For her part, Marina said the findings were purely technical and could not be subjected to politicking. The president supposedly felt blindsided by his minister.On one hand, this is a dispute among the various progressive factions that make up the Lula administration, most of which are committed to a sound, modern environmental agenda either for moral and ideological reasons or because it serves Brazil’s broader geopolitical interests. But the issue of whether or not to drill in the Amazon is also part of a much larger fight over Brazil’s role in the urgent global struggle to mitigate climate change. Some, like Senator Rodrigues, believe that oil isn’t going anywhere soon and that it would be foolish to leave precious resources untapped. Others, like prominent ecosocialist Sabrina Fernandes, excoriated the Lula administration for undermining the robust environmental agenda it promised to implement. “There’s a discrepancy in how the Lula government has presented its environmental agenda abroad and what is actually happening in the country. Although there’s improvement from the old Bolsonaro ways, where ecocide was the norm,” she told me, “the new government is lacking the climate leadership that was expected from Lula’s speech at COP27.” There is a legitimate substantive debate to be had about the path to sustainable development and whether new oil drilling should be on the table.Yet the Brazilian right and big business are clearly intent on exacerbating this divide to tie up the Lula government and continue their destructive ways. A series of measures approved by Congress on Wednesday transferred several key attributions of Marina’s ministry of the environment and the newly created ministry of indigenous peoples to other agencies less likely to hold the line against the rapacious interests that drive so much environmental degradation, to the alarm of several NGOs. “They want to change [the cabinet makeup] to implement the Bolsonaro government in the Lula government,” Marina told Folha de São Paulo.It has become painfully clear that the Lula government finds itself in an intractable position. As the well-sourced journalist Mônica Bergamo put it, “an important part of the inner circle of the Lula government has already thrown in the towel and understands that the president needs to hand over several rings to keep his fingers. That is, giving up concrete and also symbolic public policies, such as in the area of the environment, to achieve progress in at least one central theme: economic development, without which the government could fail resoundingly.” According to Bergamo’s sources in the administration, the government has realized it can’t pursue the social justice agenda it wanted to, given its legislative constraints. Above all, some of Lula’s circle believe he must deliver economically right away, or else risk empowering right-wing forces that could endanger Brazil’s democracy.For her part, Marina has promised to resist the pressure from those within the administration’s orbit pushing new carbon-based extractivist initiatives in the Amazon , as well as those aligned with agricultural interests and the former president. In recent days, she has emerged as the government’s conscience. If Marina embodies Brazil’s commitment to sustainable development—and she arguably does, which is why Lula wanted her in his cabinet—then efforts to undermine her in Congress and within the administration itself are a bad omen. “Both the ministry of the environment and the newly created indigenous ministry are targets and Lula’s own coalition is involved in the attacks,” Fernandes lamented, adding that “this crisis of governability is creating tensions in the leftist sector of the coalition, including inside the Workers’ Party, and risks downgrading the ecological agenda of Lula as just enough ‘environmentalism for gringos’ to see.” And the stakes for this administration are higher than they’ve been for prior PT governments, who delivered rising material gains for poor and working-class Brazilians even as Lula occasionally disappointed supportive social movements. In political and environmental terms, there is even less room for failure this time.Bolsonaro brought Brazilian democracy to the brink. Perhaps because of that lingering scare, Lula’s standing in the polls remains quite strong—but that is only mildly comforting given the extremism Bolsonaro unleashed. The former president also laid waste to the country’s international standing. At one point during his time in office, serious people were talking seriously about some kind of international intervention in the Amazon. Lula was a welcome contrast. Up until last week, he had good people in key positions, deforestation was falling, and he reportedly prepared to embrace an even more stringent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions than previously promised. Indeed, the trump card in Lula’s back pocket through tense early moments with the United States and the European Union has undoubtedly been his commitment to high environmental standards. He now risks squandering that asset. Sacrificing his environmental agenda—not to mention the integrity of his cabinet—might preserve a working relationship with a legislature chock-full of pillaging reactionaries, and mollify progressive allies who chafe at the intransigence of environmental and indigenous rights activists, but it risks alienating Washington and Brussels for good. This is a high-wire act for both Brazilian democracy and the climate that requires uncommon balance. Lula is supposed to be good at this. He’d better be—there’s no safety net at the bottom.
Last week, the “anti-ESG” movement coursing through Red state legislatures extracted its highest-profile win yet: The House and Senate passed a continuing resolution to peel back a new Department of Labor rule affirming that federal pension funds can consider environmental, social, and governance, or ESG, factors in their investment decisions. President Biden is expected to use his first-ever veto to block the resolution. But the vote could be ammunition for litigation targeting ESG and the administrative state.Republicans backing the resolution argue that, by factoring sustainability into their investment decisions, asset managers are gambling other people’s money on radical politics. (The data suggest otherwise.) “ESG means you can’t invest in things like oil, gas, coal, American energy. It means less American energy for people in our country,” Wyoming Senator John Barrasso bellowed on the Senate floor. I asked oil and gas executives attending CERAWeek by S&P Global—the annual energy conference being held in Houston this week—whether that story is true. Pioneer Natural Resources CEO Scott Sheffield gave a concise, representative answer: “No.” Yet while they may disagree with a core premise of the right’s crusade against ESG—and are keen to tout their own ESG credentials—oil and gas executives are still more than happy to fund it.As Sheffield went on to explain, producers are holding back fossil fuel production because it’s bad for business, threatening to flood the market with excess supply and crash oil prices. Had the industry gone along with the Biden administration’s request to drill more last year, he estimates oil prices would be sitting around $50 per barrel, making the prices drivers pay at the pump lower too. “In the last ten years every time we do that,” he said of expanding production, “the price collapses and the price would have collapsed again today. We sort of subsidized the world consumer in my opinion. We don’t want to get in that cycle again.”Devon Energy Vice President David Harrison agreed “woke” investors, despite the rhetoric from Republican politicians, weren’t the problem. “I don’t think we see much of it,” he said of the idea of woke investors blocking production, adding a bit of spin. “What our investors are focused on is what we’re focused on: improving our emissions profile across our operations.” On his panel a few minutes prior, Harrison had explained that his company and others were in the process of attempting to rebuild trust with investors after burning through their cash in the shale boom. The same companies are now raking in cash and delivering lots of it back to shareholders still sore from past spending binges. “We spent ten years prior to that eroding the trust and two good years is not a long enough track record to earn that back,” he said. Whether fossil fuel executives agree with the anti-ESG movement or not—or are merely reluctant to be associated with its seedier elements—plenty are quietly supporting it through their paid memberships in trade associations and campaign contributions to politicians backing the push. In 2021, for instance, Sheffield donated $5,800 to West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who provided a decisive Democratic vote for Republicans’ CRA last week. Two-thirds of Pioneer Natural Resources’s Congressional campaign donations last year went to Republicans. Nearly 90 percent of Devon Energy’s federal donations were to Republican candidates and leadership PACs. Devon is also a member of the American Petroleum Institute, or API, which has worked closely with groups, including the State Financial Officers Foundation, which are leading the charge for state-level anti-ESG bills.Even the American Petroleum Institute walks a careful line to the press, declining to spout anti-ESG adherents’ more colorful talking points. In a brief conversation this week, API’s Frank Macchiarola said, “the factors that go into ESG do not pose a threat to our industry. In fact, tackling the climate challenge in our view presents an opportunity for our industry to continue to lead.” Asked if he supported the anti-ESG bills that are going around state legislatures, Macchiarola said he had to attend the next session. In a follow-up email, API Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy Officer Amanda Eversole said the group supports “this bipartisan legislation that would require investment decisions by pension funds to prioritize financial returns for Americans,” referring to the resolution passed last week. Asked what he made of the anti-ESG movement, Harrison shot a look at Devon’s Corporate Communications head, Lisa Adams, who was standing beside him. She equivocated, saying, “I don’t see a lot of pro or anti ESG in our business.” As we were being ushered out of the room so organizers could rearrange the chairs, I asked Harrison whether—as a member of API—Devon supported that trade association backing the effort to kill the DOL rule in Congress. Harrison paused, then beckoned to a colleague before politely excusing himself.Not all of Devon’s top brass have been so reticent to declare their side in the ESG war. Devon CEO Rick Muncrief sits on the Board of Directors of the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance. Earlier this year, DEPA urged board members of the American Legislative Exchange Council to adopt the “Eliminate Economic Boycotts Act” as official model policy. Modeled on legislation first passed in Texas, the bill would require state comptrollers to stop doing business with banks and asset managers they deem to be boycotting energy companies.The group’s rationale for backing the model policy directly contradicts what Harrison told me about “woke” investors not being a major problem. “Banks are increasingly denying financing to creditworthy companies solely for the purposes of marketing their environmental or social justice credentials, to the detriment of their clients and shareholders,” reads a letter from DEPA to ALEC board members that was obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy, a non-profit watchdog group. “Institutional investors are divesting from entire industries and pressuring companies to commit to environmental goals, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, or social goals, such as diversity quotas, at the expense of investor returns.” DEPA has also published more outlandish views on climate than you’re likely to hear at CERAWeek, where executives emphasize that an energy transition is happening and that climate change needs to be dealt with. “There is no climate crisis, and we’re not in the midst of an energy transition either. Humans and all complex life on earth is simply impossible without carbon dioxide hence the term carbon pollution is outrageous,” DEPA CEO Chris Wright said in a LinkedIn video that was taken down by the platform as “False and Misleading Content.” DEPA also signed a letter supporting the continuing resolution against the administration’s DOL rule. So what explains the discrepancy between fossil fuel execs denying in person that ESG is a threat to their business, and their companies continuing to fund an anti-ESG crusade premised on the idea that it is? That oil and gas executives say one thing and do another isn’t exactly new. During the cap-and-trade fight in 2009, companies that joined the coalition to pass a carbon pricing bill—including BP and ConocoPhillips—simultaneously funded the politicians and trade associations working to kill it. But their Janus face on ESG reflects more than rank hypocrisy. Where a decade ago the spectacle of fossil fuel execs praising decarbonization might have been dismissed as pure greenwashing, today fossil fuel companies talk a green game partly because they see technologies like carbon capture and storage and hydrogen as tidy new revenue streams. Whether they invest in those at scale—most are not—they can collect a new batch of tax credits provided by the Inflation Reduction Act, extracting financing from investors eager to take advantage of the coupon that new subsidies provide on returns. Best of all is that none of this has to come at the expense of oil and gas companies’ bread and butter: to extract and burn as many hydrocarbons as possible. Companies know full well that anti-ESG crusaders’ line about woke investors starving them of capital is bunk. If that campaign is too unseemly to want to appear too close to, it does hold an exciting promise: bringing a challenge to the administrative state, and its ability to enact environmental regulations, before a receptive Supreme Court. Twenty-five Republican State Attorneys General have already filed suit against the DOL rule on the grounds that it violates so-called “Major Questions Doctrine.” That shaky idea was boosted in Chief Justice John Roberts’ majority opinion in West Virginia v. EPA this summer. While that ruling did not broadly gut the EPA or agency rulemaking, as many feared, Roberts laid out the red carpet for right-wing legal entrepreneurs to bring future cases that would. As a weapon of choice he offered up Major Questions Doctrine, which holds that federal agencies should not overstep the narrow instructions provided by federal statutes. The resolution passed last week adds fuel to that fire—even if Biden vetoes. The rare display of bipartisan unity may well be grounds for the Supreme Court’s conservative majority to argue that agencies are running afoul of their mandate from Congress.To have their cake and eat it too, fossil fuel companies must walk a fine line on ESG. Customers and investors in Europe, in particular—a much more important market since Russia invaded Ukraine—want companies they buy from and invest in to have something good to say about decarbonization. And oil companies must talk a particularly green game if they want to ink contracts that stretch into the next several decades, well past the time when most climate models suggest fossil fuel use should plummet. If these companies fund the anti-ESG crusade at the same time, it’s because, while cashing in on the climate zeitgeist would be nice, dismantling the state’s power to regulate them would be nice, too.
Symposium speakers describe numerous ways to promote prevention, resilience, healing, and wellness after early-life stresses.
A growing number of students nationwide are fighting the government's mandate to serve cow's milk in public schools.
The idea that Black people can write out of a personal relationship to nature and have done so since before this nation’s founding comes to many as a shock.
The Smile Trust's Valencia Gunder explains why she sees her relief work as climate work, and why climate work cannot happen without direct aid.