Canada’s largest ever energy project faces fresh turmoil as First Nations seek to evict workers

Canada’s multi-billion LNG Canada project is facing fresh trouble, as work on a key artery linking the export facility near Kitimat, B.C. to natural gas resources in Dawson Creek area is being halted by First Nations groups.

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, representing all five clans of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, said over the weekend that they issued an eviction notice to the Coastal GasLink pipeline company, which is building the $6.6 billion project.

LNG Canada, which is also under construction, is said to be the largest private sector investment in Canadian history, with a price tag of around $40 billion and is being developed by a Royal Dutch Shell-led consortium. The project will export Canadian natural gas to Asian markets.

The First Nations’ move comes after the B.C. Supreme Court sided with the company and granted access to areas covered by the injunction at the end of December. The decision did not spell out what the RCMP can do to enforce the injunction but police have been heavily scrutinized over the past year for enforcing a previous injunction granted by Justice Church against Coastal GasLink protestors.

Wet’suwet’en says Coastal Gaslink violated its law of trespass, bulldozed through its territories, destroyed its archaeological sites, and occupied it land with industrial camps.

“Private security firms and RCMP have continually interfered with the constitutionally protected rights of Wet’suwet’en people to access our lands for hunting, trapping, and ceremony,” the First Nations said.

Coastal GasLink reported that its personnel discovered that trees had been felled making a key road impassable, which is “a clear violation of the Interlocutory Injunction as it prevents our crews from accessing work areas.”

“We have reached out to better understand their reasons and are hopeful we can find a mutually agreeable path forward,” the company said. “To that end, we are requesting to meet with Unist’ot’en and the Hereditary Chiefs as soon as possible. Over the past year, Coastal GasLink has repeatedly requested face-to-face meetings with the Unist’ot’en and the Office of the Wet’suwet’en but these requests have either been ignored or rejected by these groups.”

The matter is further complicated as last year British Columbia became the first jurisdiction in Canada to pass legislation implementing the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which aims to end discrimination, uphold basic human rights and ensure more economic justice and fairness for Indigenous groups.

However, while states may consult and cooperate in good faith with the Indigenous peoples in order to obtain their consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them, “UNDRIP is not a legally binding instrument under international law,” according to law firm Norton Rose Fulbright.   SOURCE

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Work must stop on Trans Mountain, Site C, LNG pipeline until First Nations approval, UN committee says
One Year after RCMP Raid, Tensions Rise as Wet’suwet’en Evict Pipeline Company

What a Bernie Sanders Presidency Would Look Like

For a complementary perspective, read the alternate cover feature, What an Elizabeth Warren Presidency Would Look Like, by Kathleen Geier.

WE HAVE A DECADE TO TRANSFORM THE U.S. ECONOMY TO STAVE OFF CLIMATE CATASTROPHE, and Bernie Sanders has the only agenda to do so and the only mobilization strategy to get it done. No plan for a better future is worthwhile if environmental crisis renders our future unimaginably bleak.

As Naomi Klein notes, this planetary emergency “entered mainstream consciousness” in the 1980s as the Right and big business launched an “ideological war … on the very idea of the collective sphere.” To take the collective action needed to phase out fossil fuels, our next president must build a foreign policy of radical cooperation alongside a new domestic politics of inclusion—or else witness a racist, nationalist, far-right politics expand its divisive power.

Sanders is the only presidential candidate who has put forward a genuine Green New Deal, a plan to radically remake the economy to serve ordinary people rather than just “greening” the economic system that threatens to end human society as we know it. His Green New Deal would dismantle the fossil fuel industry and put a renewable energy system under democratic control, working with governments around the world to achieve what the science demands.

Sanders’ proposals go beyond piecemeal liberal solutions by targeting the unjust economic system that fuels climate change and pushing an agenda that simultaneously empowers workers and saves the planet. This agenda would help millions of workers join unions, give workers an ownership stake in major corporations, provide universal healthcare and tuition-free higher education, build millions of affordable homes and protect (rather than target) immigrants.

Though President Sanders could execute parts of this agenda on his own, much of it would require Congress. How could it pass, given Republican extremism and likely pushback from even a Democrat-controlled House and Senate? The question poses a serious problem for any program that meets our challenge. And it is one Sanders is uniquely positioned to solve.

Sanders understands that change at this scale will require mass movements to pressure Congress and every level of government—and to change their composition. Americans isolated and atomized by cutthroat capitalism must engage in massive collective action. His political program isn’t just about policy, then, but about the capacity of ordinary people to participate in democracy. This disruption includes, critically, his plans to facilitate direct participation in decisions from our workplaces to our energy systems, shifting the balance of power in our society. No one contends that Sanders alone will spark, let alone be, a mass movement. The Sanders campaign slogan, “Not Me. Us.,” conveys precisely that. Sanders, as he puts it, is “gonna be organizer-in-chief.”

Sanders’ Green New Deal plan, which builds on the resolution introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), will take massive organization to make a reality. His plan alone among Democratic candidates takes seriously the massive public spending ($16.3 trillion, to be exact, much more than Sen. Elizabeth Warren proposes) needed to reach 100% renewable electricity and transportation by 2030 with full decarbonization by 2050, a reorientation of public priorities (diverting $1.215 trillion from “military spending on protecting the global oil supply”), the creation of 20 million jobs, and unprecedented levels of public-sector coordination and social mobilization. Sanders is the only candidate who identifies the private ownership of energy as a core problem, calling out the “greed” in our for-profit system, from investor-owned utilities like California’s Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to the fossil fuel companies that collect billions in federal subsidies while contaminating the planet. Saving the planet is impossible without heightening class conflict.

Sanders’ critics who say he would never be able to get much done simply haven’t been paying attention: Sanders’ record of connecting to mass mobilizations and dramatically reshaping public debates sets him apart. Before he ran in 2016, for example, Medicare for All was deemed a pipe dream; now, it’s a center of attention. Unlike Warren, who in her constant equivocation has managed to elicit criticism from all directions, Sanders pledges to introduce Medicare for All legislation during his first week in office. And he has responded to the mainstreaming of Medicare for All by pushing politics in yet more radical directions.

The fight of this generation depends not only on putting forth good policies but on a powerful revival of collective politics. With control of the White House, Sanders and the movements rallied around him could do huge things.

SINCE THE 1970S, American politics has been stunted by neoliberal governance, which invokes “free markets” to protect capital from democratic control and grind down the unions that once checked corporate power. Many came to believe change is impossible, even as capitalism’s costs shifted onto ordinary people and exploited their social bonds to keep the broken system from going off the rails. Young people must borrow for education against their future and their parents’ assets; women can be trapped in abusive relationships because of expensive childcare, low wages and high rents.

Sanders takes neoliberalism’s atomizing points of domination and transforms them into a set of demands for collective freedom, with policies like Medicare for All, free public higher education, universal childcare and pre-K, and the abolition of student and medical debt. These policies would help break the cycle of privatized financial burden and, in doing so, free people to engage in more radicalized struggle.

Sanders’ homes guarantee and Green New Deal for Public Housing, introduced with Ocasio-Cortez, would deliver direct economic benefits while empowering the working class and cutting carbon emissions. Real estate assets, as of 2017, were worth an estimated $228 trillion, “a more valuable asset class than all stocks, shares and securitized debt combined,” according to Savills World Research. As such, they have been a key driver of inequality and household indebtedness. Real estate speculation also, of course, helped spark the global financial crash of 2008.

Building 10 million permanently affordable homes, investing in shared equity homeownership models like community land trusts, enacting nationwide rent control, and upgrading and expanding public housing with local renewable energy would be revolutionary in a country where more than 500,000 people are homeless on any given night, tens of millions pay more than a third or even half their income in rent, and poor people live under the continual threat of eviction. Making housing affordable would make people less urgently dependent on their paychecks. Sanders also pledges to attack the residential segregation and gentrification that consign poor, racialized communities to second-class schools, insecure housing and subpar public services. MORE

RELATED:

What an Elizabeth Warren Presidency Would Look Like

Beating Swords into Plowshares or Wind Turbines & Solar Panels

We Could Have 100% Renewable Electricity If We Had Invested in Wind and Solar Instead of War in the Middle East

Yes, the United States could be generating 100% of its electricity from renewable energy if we had used the money spent on our ill-advised wars in the Middle East to build wind and solar systems, as well as battery storage, here at home.

That’s the startling conclusion of a simple calculation my colleague Robert Freehling and I made after the latest reports on the economic cost of our wars in the Middle East.

This is, after all, not rocket science. Money spent on war–anywhere–is money lost. It’s not an investment in the future. It’s money quite literally that goes up in smoke.

In contrast, money spent on building wind and solar farms or putting solar systems on rooftops is money invested in the future that will be earning returns–in the form of electricity–for 20 to 30 years.

I’ve followed this topic since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. I posted my first article on this subject on July 4, 2005, and I’ve been updating that article periodically since then as the cost of our wars continued to grow.

On the anniversary of September 11th this year, news articles on the cost of the war in Afghanistan prompted me to take another look at our lost opportunities to invest in infrastructure here at home for the direct benefit of Americans.

What I learned shocked me. Using what I call a back-of-the-envelope method, I calculated that we could have installed enough wind turbines to more than provide 100% of our electricity with what we’d spent on war.

That just didn’t seem right. These are big numbers and it’s easy to get them wrong. After all, we’ve been told for decades that it’s simply too expensive to install that many wind turbines and solar panels. We could never afford it, critics warned.

So I called my colleague and renewable energy analyst Robert Freehling for help. I’ve relied on Freehling to sort out such thorny problems in the past.

His conclusion? Yes, we could be generating 100% of our electricity in this country from just wind and solar; that is, not counting existing hydro, geothermal, or biomass generation. Freehling, though, goes even further. We would be generating so much renewable electricity that we could store huge amounts in batteries–electricity storage that also would be paid for with our “war savings.”

How did we reach such a conclusion? Did we use a supercomputer to calculate all the possible permutations of what a renewable electricity supply would look like?

No. We kept it simple. We looked at two respected estimates of what our wars have cost in economic terms to the US taxpayer, not what they’ve cost in human suffering, nor what they’ve cost the countries on the receiving end of our expenditures.

The National Priorities Project calculates that the wars in the Middle East since 2001 have cost $4.9 trillion, a sum that continues to rise. The Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University estimates $5.9 trillion through Fiscal Year 2019. Their latest estimate raises that to $6.4 trillion through FY 2020.

To paraphrase Senator Everett Dirksen, “A trillion here, a trillion there and pretty soon it adds up to real money.”

For a sense of perspective, one billion is 1,000 million. Thus, a trillion is one million million. That’s a one with twelve zeros behind it–a very big number.

We made no attempt to match the annual costs of the wars to the deployment of wind and solar. Again, we kept it simple. We simply prorated the costs over two decades with the exception explained below.

Freehling’s simple spreadsheet model assumes ramping up installations from a low base over a decade to reflect the necessity of scaling up manufacturing to meet the demand. Then he held installations constant for another decade until he reached 100% renewable generation from wind and solar. If we had started in 2001, the whole conversion would be accomplished by 2020.

Shockingly, there was a lot of money left over. So Freehling plowed the remainder into battery storage using the same approach as with wind and solar. He scaled installations up from a low base until the industry was likely to reach maturity.

Existing renewable generation from hydro, geothermal, and biomass was then shunted into the mass of new storage. Batteries would be used to equalize the grid when winds were light or the sun had set. The remainder could then be used to charge electric vehicles.

Wind and solar are cheap today. That was not so, two decades ago. Freehling accounts for this by using historical figures for the cost of wind and solar.

He dropped the initial cost of wind from $2,500 per kilowatt of installed capacity in the year 2000 to about $1,400 today.

Solar has seen a dramatic drop in cost during the past two decades. Freehling used $12,000 per kilowatt as the cost of solar capacity in 2000 and dropped it to nearly $1,500 per kilowatt in 2020.

We apportioned how much wind and how much solar were built, based on the work of my French colleague Bernard Chabot. He found that for a temperate climate, such as the United States, the optimum mix of generation is 60% wind and 40% solar energy. This mix minimizes the amount of storage needed.

Batteries are still expensive. The cost of battery storage, however, has fallen 80% in the past decade alone notes Freehling. He suggests that the cost of battery storage would have fallen even more rapidly through economies-of-scale if we had begun deploying them at scale sooner. Batteries for Electric Vehicles (EVs) would also be cheaper today if we had plowed some of our war savings into battery development.

Here in California, the Independent System Operator (Cal-ISO) requires 4-hours of storage for it to reliably meet peak demand.” Our scenario calls for one million megawatts of wind and another one million megawatts of solar. This scenario uses some 700,000 MW of batteries to store 3 terawatt-hours (TWh) or 3 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity. The amount of storage is approximately enough to meet the peak electricity demand for the entire United States for a period of 4 hours.

All together, wind, solar, and storage would be capable of providing 4,400 TWh per year–the amount of electricity generated annually in the United States–for an investment of $6 trillion over two decades.

The United States produces more than 700 TWh per year–about 17% of annual electricity generation–from existing wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, and biomass. Existing renewables would be capable of powering more than one-third to as much as one-half of the entire US passenger vehicle fleet with electricity.

If we had instead invested the $6 trillion we squandered on war in the Middle East, we would, two decades later, have made our grid more resilient with battery storage, and be generating 100% of our electricity with wind and solar. Moreover, existing sources of renewable energy would be sufficient to power a substantial portion of our passenger cars with clean, renewable electricity.

Incredible.

What a lost opportunity. SOURCE

Staying vegan for the planet

Vegan artwork

An increasing number of people are choosing to become vegan, but some obstacles still remain.

Evidence of our diet’s impact on the planet has come into sharp focus in recent years. We know now that animal agriculture is a leading driver of climate breakdown, deforestation and ecocide, while polluting earth, air and waterways.

Much ocean plastic pollution is abandoned lost fishing gear, a fact that has prompted campaigners like Paul de Gelder to ask: why focus on ending plastic straw use to save fish when we could stop eating fish to save fish?

Vegan Food & Living recently conducted a survey of 8,300 vegans to better understand who is going vegan and why, the issues they face and the needs they have.

Why vegan?

First, we wanted to know exactly how many people become vegan for environmental reasons.

We found that, overall, animal welfare remains the most influential factor, with 71 percent citing that as their main reason.

However, things are changing. Among those who have been vegan for more than five years, 26 percent of people cite the environment as their main motivation but for those who have become vegan within the past year, that figure rises to 39 per cent. It seems the ecological message is starting to hit home.

With research consistently indicating that a whole food plant-based diet can prevent, halt and even reverse some of our biggest killers, an increasing proportion of vegans are citing health as their key motivator.

For those who became vegan 6-12 months prior to the survey, 23 percent said their health was the main reason; among those who had become vegan in the preceding six months, that had risen to 36 per cent.

Staying vegan

The massive increase in people becoming vegan over the past five years is undoubtedly connected to the popularity of Veganuary, which in 2019 saw 250,000 people register to take the month-long plant-based pledge.

Veganuary’s own surveys suggest that around half of those who try vegan for January stay vegan afterwards, but there is no detailed data on numbers who lapse.

Our survey could not yield this information, yet it does suggest three issues that could plausibly lead to recidivism among environmental vegans: packaging, cost and the food itself.

As the scale and impact of human waste has become apparent, a whole movement of zero waste campaigners has sprung up and, unsurprisingly perhaps, it often goes hand-in-hand with veganism.

For fledgling vegans inspired by the environment, some of the food packaging can be an issue.

Waste not

Are vegan foods more heavily packaged than non-vegan foods? No, I don’t think so. But first, there is a temptation to try all the ready-made vegan items when people start on this journey.

It’s natural to want to do that but, as they simultaneously learn more about the environment, it is inevitable that packaging will become an issue.

Since there are currently fewer options for vegans, they do not always have the ability to choose minimally packaged options.

For example, a non-vegan wishing to reduce their waste can buy butter wrapped in one piece of foil or paper, but the dairy-free margarines sold in supermarkets all come in plastic tubs. A connecting issue is that much organic produce comes more heavily packaged than non-organic.

Manufacturers and retailers must do better so that customers whose shopping preferences are based on environmental impact don’t have to choose between boycotting pesticides, plastic and animal products.

Price wars

Around 56 percent of our survey respondents said that they thought vegan alternatives were more expensive than their animal-based counterparts and found it unfair.

This compared to 17 percent who agreed that they were more expensive, but they were happy to pay extra because they understood the reasons why.

Interestingly, among the ‘vegan curious’ – those just dipping their toe into veganism – the figure rose sharply. Here, 65 percent found this increased cost unfair and indicated a lack of understanding, and even some resentfulness.

We believe that retailers should either make prices comparable to non-vegan alternatives or educate consumers as to why they’re paying more. After all, there could be a good reason!

Selling points

As a good example of this we should compare Elmlea, which recently bought-out vegan versions of its single and double long-life creams, and Galaxy, which around the same time released its first vegan chocolate.

The Elmlea creams were priced exactly the same as the dairy versions and were met with incredible levels of excitement. They’d won people over even before anyone had tasted it!

When Mars released three vegan Galaxy bars there were similar levels of excitement but while the taste was lauded, the price was questioned.

Where the dairy version is priced at 1.50 for a 135g bar, the vegan chocolate costs £3 for a 100g bar. What was missing from their messaging was that part of the additional cost could be that the bars are wrapped in Natureflex – a compostable film made from wood fibre which quickly breaks down in home composting.

This should be a huge selling point for environmental vegans, and yet hardly anyone knew.

Food market

People should not be punished for making the right choice. In order to encourage people to become vegan and help them stay vegan, there must be a great range of delicious and easily accessible vegan foods.

The plant-based food market is currently booming and in many ways things are improving fast. Our survey found that 19 percent of people classed both Tesco and Sainsbury’s as very good for vegans, with a further 40 percent classing them both as good.

Not every retailer fared so well, with just 2 percent classing both Aldi and Lidl as very good.

In terms of chain restaurants, those that offer a good variety of vegan options in keeping with the main menu tend to do best. Here, Wagamama was a clear favourite, with Zizzi and Pizza Express also proving popular.

Eating out as a vegan remains a key concern for new vegans according to Veganuary, and it is clear that there is still room for improvement.

Mixed bag

For manufacturers, it is also a mixed bag. Around 84 percent of people think there is a good selection of plant milks available, but just 22 percent say that vegan cheese is any good.

Almost half would like to see a greater choice of ready-made sandwiches.

Our survey suggests that an increasing number of people are choosing to become vegan in order to reduce their impact on our planet, but there are issues that could deter them from trying or that fail to keep them vegan after the honeymoon period.

For the sake of our planet, those of us in the western world must move towards a fully plant-based diet, and we need industry to incentivise this.

Increasing choice, improving provision and looking at both cost and packaging would go some way to helping people take this important step and stick with it.

 

Greenpeace: “Let’s start the year off with a clean plate.”

It’s a new year and I’m wiping my plate clean. After the excess of the holidays, it’s time to clean up our food system.

Overconsumption of industrial meat. Excessive food waste. Fruits and veggies that travel for miles to get to our plates. These are the ingredients of a food system that is cooking our planet. In fact, did you know our global food system accounts for as much as 37% of greenhouse gas emissions?[1]

But we have the power to turn all of this fork around. Will you take a new year’s resolution with me to eat for the climate?

You’ve probably heard that 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the production and consumption of industrial meat. Last year the world watched as the Amazon rainforest went up in flames, a visible reminder of what’s in store for our planet if we continue to eat industrial meat at current rates.

But it’s not just meat. I was surprised to learn that a staggering 58% of food produced in Canada is wasted.[2] This represents enough food to feed all Canadians for nearly 5 months! And this has environmental consequences: food loss and waste represents 8% of global GHG emissions, a quantity four times larger than emissions from global aviation.[3]

We need to start 2020 off with the right ingredients for the climate. This is why we’ve launched the #GoodFoodChallenge, an opportunity to reduce our reliance on meat, use more local fruits and veggies and curb our food waste. Are you in?

What’s good for the planet is also good for your health, which is reflected in the recent update to the Canada Food Guide. The guide now recommends that Canadians increase the amount of fresh fruits, veggies and plant-based proteins on their plates as a part of a healthy diet.[4]

Making good food choices has the potential to improve our health and the health of our planet. Take the 2020 #GoodFoodChallenge and pledge to eat less meat, waste less food and eat more local fruits and veggies this year!

Don’t worry — we don’t expect you to do this alone! Our food system is broken; it can be difficult to select the nutritious food we need to feed our families and care for our planet. When you add your name to the #GoodFoodChallenge, we’ll send you our Eco Menu: 10 Tips for Climate-Friendly Food Choices.

It might be a new year, yet we are in the same climate emergency. It’s time for us to eat like it. Let’s get cooking for a cooler climate together.


 

One-Third of Food Is Lost or Wasted: What Can Be Done

 

Image result for american food waste

Most American food waste comes from consumers

Spills, spoilage, table scraps, and other losses from the typical American family of four add up to 1,160 pounds of uneaten food annually.

Meanwhile, a single roll-off truck trundles into the Sun Street Transfer Station, not far from downtown Salinas. The driver pauses atop a scale, then positions his battered Dumpster over a concrete pad. A flick of a lever, a pneumatic whoosh, and 20 cubic yards of lettuce and spinach tumble onto the ground. Packaged in plastic boxes and bags, the greens—piled seven feet high—appear to be in the pink of health: dewy, crisp, and unblemished. The misdemeanor for which they’ll soon be consigned to a landfill? Their containers have been improperly filled, labeled, sealed, or cut.

Anyone would say this heap—the size of two African elephants—represents a tremendous, even criminal, waste. But this is nothing. Over the course of the day, the transfer station will receive another 10 to 20 loads of perfectly edible vegetables originating from nearby grower-packers. Between April and November, the Salinas Valley Solid Waste Authority landfills between four and eight million pounds of vegetables fresh from the fields. And that’s just one transfer station out of the many that serve California’s agricultural valleys.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, which keeps tabs on what’s grown and eaten around the globe, estimates that one-third of food produced for human consumption worldwide is annually lost or wasted along the chain that stretches from farms to processing plants, marketplaces, retailers, food-service operations, and our collective kitchens.

At 2.8 trillion pounds, that’s enough sustenance to feed three billion people. In the United States, the waste is even more egregious: More than 30 percent of our food, valued at $162 billion annually, isn’t eaten. Pile all that food on a football field and the layers would form a putrefying casserole miles high.

What’s Behind the Waste?

Careful readers may wonder: What’s the difference between food loss and food waste? Waste occurs toward the back end of the food chain, at the retail and consumer level. In general, the richer the nation, the higher its per capita rate of waste. Loss, on the other hand, mostly occurs at the front of the food chain—during production, postharvest, and processing—and it’s far less prevalent in industrialized nations than in the developing world, which tends to lack the infrastructure to deliver all of its food, in decent shape, to consumers eager to eat it.

Take Africa, for example. Without adequate storage facilities and transportation, 10 to 20 percent of the continent’s sub-Saharan grain succumbs to enemies such as mold, insects, and rodents. That’s four billion dollars’ worth of food, enough to nourish 48 million people for a year. In the absence of refrigeration, dairy products sour and fish ooze. Without the capacity to pickle, can, dry, or bottle foods, surpluses of perishables like okra, mangoes, and cabbage can’t be converted into shelf-stable foods. Bad road and rail conditions slow tomatoes’ trek from farm to market, poorly packed fruit gets jostled into mush, vegetables wilt and rot for lack of shade and cooling. Facing similar challenges, India loses an estimated 35 to 40 percent of its fruits and vegetables.

In developed nations, hyperefficient farming practices, plenty of refrigeration, and top-notch transportation, storage, and communications ensure that most of the food we grow makes it to the retail level (the piles at the Sun Street Transfer Station notwithstanding). But things go rapidly south from there. According to the FAO, industrialized nations waste 1.5 trillion pounds of food a year, an amount almost equal to the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa.

Calories are wasted at restaurants that serve overly large portions or fashion elaborate buffets—where diners help themselves to excessive portions and employees dump everything at closing time, even if it’s been under the sneeze guard for only five minutes.

Though they do their best to hide it from public view, American food retailers typically experience in-store losses of 43 billion pounds of food a year. Store managers routinely overorder, for fear of running out of a particular product, losing customers, and consequently, their jobs. Entire shelves of perfectly edible shell peas are transferred into Dumpsters to make room for incoming ones; pallets of zucchini are rejected because they curve too much. If the affected wholesaler can’t quickly find another market nearby (a discount chain that tolerates curvy vegetables, for example, or a food bank with refrigerated space), the load will be dumped. The British supermarket chain Tesco, which publicly committed to reducing waste in recent years, still admitted to throwing out more than 110 million pounds of food within their U.K. stores during the latest fiscal year.

Consumers are also complicit: We overbuy because relatively cheap and seductively packaged food is available at nearly every turn. We store food improperly; we take “use by” dates literally, though such stamps were designed to communicate peak freshness and have nothing to do with food safety. We forget to eat our leftovers, we leave our doggy bags in restaurants, and we suffer little or no consequence for scraping edible food into a bin. MORE

 

Dead Bird Nests Contain 36 Different Pesticides, Including DDT

In Brussels and Florence, people began to express concern over the rising finds of dead newborn birds (tits) in their nests.

When these concerned people notified the bird conservation association Vogelbescherming Vlaanderen and the ecological gardening association Velt, they began a crowd-funded investigation. Over 1000 people sent in dead tits and nests, which were analyzed and a report was published with shocking results.

When 1101 nests were analyzed, most contained DDT. Photo: SOS Mezen

“We found a total of 36 different pesticides in 95 mesh nests,” Geert Gommers, a pesticide expert said in a statement.

The birds’ nests revealed traces of 36 different fungicides, herbicides, insecticides and biocides. The alarm came when they found traces of DDT, an insecticide banned since 1974, in 89 of the 95 nests examined.

“That DDT is still present in our environment after all this time is worrying,” the statement read.

“The tits were two weeks old at the most and had never been outside their nest…These results do not make us happy, especially because almost all nests contain one or more pesticides,” Gommers wrote.

Further research is needed to establish a link between increased tit mortality and pesticides. It is noted that some of the pesticides found in the nests had a “high” risk rating for birds.

Does anyone remember the “canary in the coal mine?”

The full report can be found here.

SOURCE

OMNICIDE: Who is Responsible for the Gravest of All Crimes?

Danielle Celermajer calls for accountability for the destruction unfolding in Australia – a crime against humanity she believes is akin to genocide.

As the full extent of the devastation of the Holocaust became apparent, a Polish Jew whose entire family had been killed, Raphael Lemkin, came to realise that there was no word for the distinctive crime that had been committed: the murder of a people.

His life’s work became finding a word to name the crime and then convincing the world to use it and condemn it: genocide. Today, not only has genocide become a dreadful part of our lexicon, we recognise it as perhaps the gravest of all crimes.

During these first days of the third decade of the 21st Century, as we watch humans, animals, trees, insects, fungi, ecosystems, forests, rivers (and on and on) being killed, we find ourselves without a word to name what is happening. In recent years, environmentalists have coined the term ecocide, the killing of ecosystems, but this is something more. This is the killing of everything. Omnicide.

Some will object, no doubt, that the events unfolding in Australia do not count as a “cide” – a murder or killing – because it is a natural phenomenon, albeit an unspeakably regrettable one. Where is the murderous intent? It is difficult to locate, admittedly, but a new crime also requires a new understanding of culpability. Indeed, one of the most serious problems with the laws against genocide is that they were written in a way that requires that the specific intent to destroy a people can be shown to have existed. Even where it did exist, such intent most often remains hidden in people’s dark hearts.

We can, however, identify the political representatives who refused to meet with fire chiefs who had tried to warn of, and act to mitigate, the impending disaster. The same political representatives who approved, and continue to approve, new coalmines in the face of scientific consensus on the effect that continuing to burn fossil fuels will have on the climate in general, and drought and temperatures in particular. The same political representatives who approve water being diverted to support resource extraction, when living beings are dying for want of water and drying to the point of conflagration.

We can identify the media owners who sponsor mass denial of the scientific evidence of the effects of a fossil fuel-addicted economy on the climate. The same media owners who deploy the tools of mass manipulation to stoke fear, seed confusion, breed ignorance and create and then fuel hostile divisions within communities.

We can identify the financial institutions that continue to invest in, and thereby prop up, toxic industries and who support the media owners to protect themselves from accumulating stranded assets. We can identify the investors who use their financial and social capital to support politicians who will protect their financial interests. We can identify a corporate culture and a legal system – populated by lawyers, management consultants and financial analysts – that incentivise or even require companies to maximise short-term shareholder profit and externalise costs to the future and the planet.

And then we can identify  those closer to home.

Business owners and investors whose profits depend on systems of extraction and resource exploitation. Consumers addicted to lifestyles based on resource extraction and the exploitation of the natural world. Citizens who prioritise narrow, short-term interests over the sustainability of the planet. Citizens who lack the courage or fortitude to undertake the social and economic transformations required to give our children and the more-than-human-world a future. Citizens who do not bother to take the time or to make the effort to develop well-informed opinions, but would rather run to the comfort of the truisms of their tribe.

We can also identify the humans and human cultures that have told themselves that they are superior to, and thus have the right to dominate and exploit, other animals and the natural world. That they are the ones who get to flourish and that everything else that is here is here for our use. That other beings are not life but resource.

None of those mentioned in this list developed a specific intent to kill everything. But all of us have created and are creating the conditions in which omnicide is inevitable.

When I was growing up, my parents used to play a Bob Dylan song called Who Killed Davey Moore? about a boxer who died in the ring when he was just 30 years old. Each verse begins with some party – the coach, the crowd, the manager, the gambling man, the boxing writer, the other fighter – answering the title’s question: “Who killed Davey Moore?” They each respond with “not I” and then explain that they were just doing what it is that they do: going to the fight, writing about the fight, throwing the punches and so on. And, of course, they each told the truth.

We Can Only Walk as Fast as the Slowest Among Us when it Comes to Climate Change—CJ Werleman

We too are just doing what it is that we do: ensuring that the largest political donors support our political campaigns, maximising profits, ensuring a high share price, living a comfortable lifestyle, avoiding change, lazily buying back in to the conceit that we humans are special.But, sometimes, just doing what it is that we do is sufficient to kill – not just Davey Moore, but everything.

Omnicide is the gravest of all crimes. And, as with all crimes, those responsible must be held accountable. SOURCE

12 climate activists on trial for stunt at Swiss bank office

People demonstrate in support of the twelve activists

People demonstrate in support of the twelve activists of the “Lausanne Action Climat (LAC)” collective at the opening of the trial against them for storming a Credit Suisse office in Saint-Francois in November 2018 and playing tennis inside the office, in Renens, Switzerland, Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020. The posters read: “Ecocide everywhere, justice nowhere” and “If the climate were a bank, they would already have saved it”. (Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone via AP) Credit: AP

GENEVA – (AP) — A dozen climate activists have gone on trial for storming a Credit Suisse office in Lausanne, Switzerland, and playing tennis inside, part of a protest against the bank’s investments in fossil fuels.

In a trial billed as the first of its kind in Switzerland, the environmentalists from the “Lausanne Action Climate” group entered the courtroom Tuesday in suburban Renens with a number of supporters on hand outside holding up placards and chanting.

The defendants are standing trial after refusing to pay fines handed down after the incursion at a Lausanne office of the Swiss bank in November 2018. Inside, wearing tennis dress, the activists whacked tennis balls – an allusion to Credit Suisse pitchman Roger Federer – and urged him to break his connection with the institution.

A verdict is expected Monday.

The group says Credit Suisse is one of the top banks worldwide to invest in fossil fuels, making available more than $7.8 billion to nearly four dozen companies that are “extreme” users of dirty fossil fuels and multiplying 16-fold its financing for coal from 2016 to 2017.

Credit Suisse said in a statement that it “is seeking to align its loan portfolios with the objectives of the Paris Agreement and has recently announced in the context of its global climate strategy that it will no longer invest in new coal-fired power plants.”

It added that while it respects freedom of expression, it does not tolerate unlawful attacks on its branches. SOURCE