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SolaREIT Nets Injection of Capital from Atlantic Union Bank

Solar Industry Magazine - Tue, 01/31/2023 - 07:50

SolaREIT, a solar real estate investment fund, says it has closed on a revolving credit facility with Atlantic Union Bank (AUB), giving the company an additional $15 million of liquidity and enabling it to aggregate land and leases under community solar projects prior to placing them into a securitization facility.

“The revolving credit facility with Atlantic Union Bank compliments our securitization facility with Nuveen/TIAA CREF, further allowing us to scale nationally,” says Laura Pagliarulo, president of SolaREIT.

SolaREIT provides solar developers and landowners with capital solutions, including land purchases, lease purchases and solar loans, that allow landowners to access the full value of their solar land.

The post SolaREIT Nets Injection of Capital from Atlantic Union Bank appeared first on Solar Industry.

What determines the success of movements today?

Waging Nonviolence - Tue, 01/31/2023 - 07:45
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Anyone who has come across “Why Civil Resistance Works” by Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan will be familiar with the idea that size matters for social movements. Their highly cited “3.5 percent rule” says that once movements actively involve at least 3.5 percent of the population they will inevitably succeed. 

The idea that this is a cast iron rule has been contested — including by Chenoweth — on the basis that it was a description of the past rather than a prediction of the future. Others have shown that the rule has been broken in at least two cases. And although it was extracted primarily from a Global South context for countries resisting regimes, it has since, controversially, been applied to the strategy documents of prominent activist groups like Extinction Rebellion and been widely quoted in the media, including by the BBC, The Guardian and The Economist

Far less contested, however, is another of the book’s major takeaways, which is the idea that nonviolence brings a higher success rate. Looking at civil resistance focused on regime change between 1900 and 2006, they found that nonviolent campaigns were more than twice as likely to succeed as violent ones: 53 percent of nonviolent campaigns led to political change, while the same was true for only 26 percent of violent campaigns. 

As a nonprofit that helps inform advocates, decision-makers and philanthropists on the best ways to accelerate positive social progress, Social Change Lab was interested in seeing how the Chenoweth/Stephan findings hold up in today’s movement landscape. We wanted to see if the evidence from their historical data translated to the present, particularly as it relates to campaigns focused on more limited, area-specific goals rather than the high level goal of regime change. We also wanted to see what other factors might help bring about protest movement wins. 

Our team has spent the last six months researching these questions. We did public opinion polling; interviewed academics, social movement experts and policy makers; and reviewed the literature. What we found — and published in our full report — not only underscores the recommendations of Chenoweth, Stephan and other movement strategists, but also builds upon them, offering insights into other key factors that determine the success of movements today. 

What are the most important success factors?

Movements or social movement organizations optimize for different outcomes  — whether it is changing public opinion, campaigning on a particular policy, prompting public discourse or something else. So a “success factor” is variable, and it can be hard to compare them. 

Nevertheless, we wanted to try to give a sense of the relative importance of different ingredients of success — so we did this by combining and weighing evidence from multiple sources, beginning with data from existing experimental studies. We weighted our estimates based on the strength of evidence behind them. For instance, if most studies on a particular topic had similar results — and our experts also agreed — that would be strong evidence. Less agreement between studies, or a lack of studies, or disagreement amongst experts would be weak evidence.

What emerged from our findings were two tiers of success factors: one that showed a clear and distinct impact on a successful outcome and another whose impact was, though still important, less decisive.

The top three factors

1. Nonviolent tactics. Even though there is historical evidence for nonviolence being the best way to go, this tactical question is still widely discussed within social movements. Many activists are tempted to adopt more violent tactics because they think it’s a more expedient way of addressing the urgent problems we’re facing. There’s also debate about what other types of tactical actions might be most effective. Our own research has suggested that having a radical flank that uses more shocking tactics (like throwing soup at paintings) can actually increase support for more moderate groups focused on the same cause. 

Previous Coverage
  • Radical tactics are likely to help the climate movement, not hurt it
  • Our research here suggests that nonviolent tactics are more likely to lead to successful outcomes relative to violent outcomes. The experts we consulted were reasonably confident that violence is a less effective approach and the literature supported their view.

    Omar Wasow, at Princeton University, published research in 2020, based on studying civil rights protests in the U.S. from the 1960s. He found that states where nonviolent protests occurred went on to see increased votes for Democrats (more-or-less in line with what protesters were aiming for). Violent protests, on the other hand, led to increased votes for Republicans. 

    Ruud Wouters, from the University of Amsterdam, used Charles Tilley’s Worthiness, Unity, Numbers and Commitment framework to conduct empirical research. In this framework, “worthiness,” which is a measure of “the absence of disruptiveness,” is a rough equivalent of nonviolence. Wouters’s 2019 study looked at support for asylum demonstrators in a sample of Belgian citizens and found big differences in support depending on whether protesters were seen to have “high” or “low” worthiness. He suggests that low worthiness alienates the public. A further Wouters study showed a similar effect — of the greater appeal of nonviolence — on elected representatives. 

    The violence/nonviolence question has been widely studied by academics, and most studies reach similar conclusions, which is why we give this finding strong weight. 

    2017 Women’s March in Washington, DC. (Flickr/Vlad Tchompalov)

    2. Larger numbers. Again, we found our evidence supported Chenoweth’s idea that size is really key, with bigger protests meaning a better chance of policy changes and other desired outcomes. Some interviewees suggested that although politicians invest a lot in learning about public opinion, they often don’t really understand the public — so big numbers at a protest give them a clear signal of public opinion. There might also be a virtuous circle here: As a protest gets larger, people think it’s more likely to succeed, so they feel more enthusiastic about joining it. So it gets larger, more people join and so on. Whether or not this is the explanation, we think the evidence for size being important is causal: A larger protest really will increase your likelihood of success.

    In 2017, Ruud Wouters and Stefaan Walgrave looked at the attitudes of elected officials in response to protests. They found that officials were much more likely to take a position closer to the protesters when protest numbers were high. This change in their thinking also translated into behavior change and taking action, such as proposing a bill or asking a question.

    Bouke Klein Teeselink and Georgios Melios also considered whether mass mobilizations bring about social change — this time by looking at the effect of the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, following the death of George Floyd. Their research found that wherever large numbers participated in protests, the result was a greater increase in the Democrat share of the vote. In fact, for every 1 percent increase in the fraction of the population who protested, there was a raise in the Democratic vote share of 5.6 percent. Another study found that killings by police decreased by as much as 20 percent in municipalities where BLM protests occurred, and that police departments were more likely to adopt body cameras and community-policing initiatives.

    In 2012, Stefaan Walgrave and Rens Vliegenthart looked at Belgian protests that had taken place between 1993 and 2000. Their analysis included more than 4 million people participating in almost 4,000 demonstrations. They too found a highly significant impact of protest size on legislation outcomes, suggesting this effect comes in part through bigger protests being associated with more media coverage.

    3. Favorable sociopolitical context. There are other factors more outside the control of protesters — things like pre-existing public opinion, the response of the media, whether there are elites (like politicians or celebrities) who support the cause, as well as blind luck. This isn’t great news in terms of actionable evidence, as it can be hard to know what constitutes the right conditions and even harder to judge best timing. On top of those uncertainties, movements themselves have their own seasons and cycles, as Carlos Saavedra from the Ayni Institute has noted. There is little direct evidence on the effect of elite allies, but few would argue with a “best bet” of trying to win over influential people to your cause. Our experts agreed that winning a positive reception from elites was a really important factor — one even claiming that this factor alone explained 80 percent of the variance in outcomes. 

    Previous Coverage
  • Movements and leaders have seasons — it’s important to know which one you are in
  • Some researchers have tried to get a firmer empirical handle on the influence of elites, such as Marco Giugni and Florence Passy in Switzerland. Their 2007 research looked at the impact of elite allies and the effect they can have, over and above that of public opinion. They found that it was a combination of protest, supportive public opinion and the presence of political allies that led to policy wins. They also found that this combination of factors led to increased spending on environmental protection and reduced spending on nuclear energy (in line with protester demands).

    Legislators adapt their policies and positions in response to public priorities — and the typical way to represent public priorities is through surveys. But protests offer another way to represent public views, and protests can also amplify public priorities. Luca Bernardi, Daniel Bischof and Ruud Wouters analyzed a data set covering nearly 40 years in four Western countries, looking at policy maker agendas, protests and public opinion. They concluded that it is very rare for protest alone to have an effect on legislators. Only when protests interact with the priorities of the public will legislators be moved to change their agendas. 

    Beyond the top three

    So we know that numbers, nonviolence and a conducive climate are crucial ingredients for success. But there were other — albeit less well-evidenced — factors that also emerged as potentially important and worth the consideration of social movements.

    Students on climate strike. (Unsplash/Callum Shaw)

    Diversity. Striking school children are not something you see every day. According to our experts, the arresting images of children waving banners gave a particularly strong signal to politicians. Protests felt inherently less political given that it was children, rather than experienced activists, who were protesting. These were not the “usual suspects.”

    The school strikes were a particularly strong example of diversity of protesters (diversity, in this case, from protester norms), but more generally we also found that greater diversity is likely to increase the chance of protest success. This might be because greater diversity appeals to more of the public — meaning there’s more chance they will support or join a movement. It also gives a clear signal to policy makers that the issue has broad public support. 

    We think it’s interesting that — while most of the social movement experts we interviewed didn’t talk about diversity — all the policy makers thought that it was important. The three U.K. civil servants thought diversity was the second most important protest factor after size. They also felt that unexpected protesters — or people who don’t often protest, like school children — give a much stronger public opinion signal than so-called typical protesters. 

    A nonviolent radical flank. The “radical flank effect” refers to the influence that a radical faction of a movement can have on support for more moderate factions. It can be positive or negative. Overall, we believe a violent radical flank is likely to have negative overall consequences, while the effects of a nonviolent radical flank are more likely to be positive. 

    Evidence from a recent 2022 experimental study from Brent Simpson, Robb Willer and Matthew Feinberg supports the idea that radical flanks can have positive effects. They found that having a radical flank that uses radical tactics leads to a better impression of a more moderate flank, whereas a flank with a radical ideology (but not radical tactics) has no impact on the more moderate flank. 

    Other research by Eric Shuman and colleagues at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands found that actions that break social norms — like being disruptive or radical — may be the most effective way to persuade those who are resistant to change. They tested this idea of “constructive disruption” in a variety of experimental settings and found that it was more persuasive than either violent or typical (non disruptive) nonviolent actions. Evidence that radical flanks can also carry a cost comes from work by Elizabeth Tompkins. She found that a radical flank increases state repression, which in turn decreases mobilization — though she also points out that these effects are not “necessarily detrimental” to the overall success of a campaign. 

    Trigger events. These highly visible, often shocking actions that vividly reveal an existing problem to a wider public can have a significant impact. The arrest of Rosa Parks in 1955 and the murder of George Floyd in 2020 were very potent trigger events, both of which led to dramatic widespread protests. This suggests that it is important for protest groups to build the groundwork so that if an opportunity comes, they can grasp it and use the chance to build momentum. 

    There is very little direct research on trigger events, partly because their unpredictability makes them hard to study, but many of the experts we spoke with mentioned their importance. If they are right, social movement organizations would be wise to plan and organize for the need to respond speedily and convincingly, mobilizing in large volume at short notice. 

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    Numbers really count… but they’re not the whole story

    In their 2016 book, “This Is an Uprising,” authors Mark Engler and Paul Engler wrote persuasively of the impact mass movements can have when pursuing strategic nonviolence. Our previous research has also found that social movement organizations that use protest as a main tactic can significantly impact public opinion, voting behavior, public discourse and to a lesser degree, direct policy outcomes. 

    If protest is an important tool of influence, it is important to think about how best to go about it. Some of our key findings are not a total surprise: numbers matter and nonviolence is the best strategy. These findings support recommendations of many social movement thinkers and help to build a clear set of guidance as to some of the key decisions social movement strategists should take to make their campaigns effective. Our evidence also points to some less well known factors that are worth considering. Being able to act on trigger events, adding to the diversity of your protester base and expanding your movement to incorporate a nonviolent radical flank might all be valuable strategic additions.

    One important note, however: Our research is not an exhaustive guide to what protest movements should do to be successful. Instead it should be seen as a summary of the current available evidence. Some factors are easier to measure than others. For example, it is a lot easier to get an idea of protest size than it is to assess an organization’s internal culture. So, there could be a bias towards some factors in the research. 

    Additionally, there are some pieces of evidence that are hard to act upon. The importance of timing, external factors and luck certainly leave some open questions. And while social movements may ebb and flow in cycles, it’s not clear what grassroots organizations should be doing in their fallow periods. Should they be focusing on internal organizational improvements or concentrating on building the sort of supporter base able to mobilize at short notice? These are areas where we think we could explore further.

    As protests grow and spread around the world, becoming an ever more popular tactic for achieving social change, we need to understand them better. We hope that our research has added value in addressing some unanswered questions about the best approaches for protest movements in their efforts to improve the world.

    Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

    Orsted Leveraging Aegir Insights for Offshore Wind Intel

    North American Windpower - Tue, 01/31/2023 - 07:33

    Aegir Insights, a company focused on offshore wind intelligence and investment solutions, says it has brought on offshore wind developer Ørsted A/S as a client.

    The agreement provides Ørsted with access to the Aegir Insights product portfolio, enabling better informed decisions on offshore wind opportunities. As a client, Ørsted will also provide feedback on Aegir Insights’ product development roadmap.

    Aegir Insights says it combines deep industry experience with advanced data science and visualization solutions in order to help offshore wind investors make better strategic decisions that are trusted by developers and governments.

    ”Ørsted is the world’s leading offshore wind developer and one of the pioneers of the industry,” says Rikke Nørgaard, CCO of Aegir Insights. “We are proud to have them as a platform user. This will be a transformational year for Aegir Insights, where on the back of our recent seed investment, we are investing heavily in technology for the next generation of our product portfolio in close cooperation with our industry partners.”

    Aegir Insights recently closed a seed investment round led by Norwegian energy sector executive Jon Erik Reinhardsen and Denmark’s Export & Investment Fund to support buildout of its scalable intelligence and workflow solutions for offshore wind investors.

    The post Orsted Leveraging Aegir Insights for Offshore Wind Intel appeared first on North American Windpower.

    EWG statement on proposed creation of a FDA deputy commissioner for human foods

    Environmental Working Group - Tue, 01/31/2023 - 07:02
    EWG statement on proposed creation of a FDA deputy commissioner for human foods rcoleman January 31, 2023

    WASHINGTON – Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf today proposed the creation of a deputy commissioner for human foods.

    The following is a statement from Scott Faber, EWG senior vice president for government affairs, about the proposal: 

    Today’s proposed reorganization by Dr. Califf is an important first step toward addressing the structural and cultural challenges that contributed to several tragic food safety failures. 

    Food companies are responsible for the food they sell, but creating a deputy commissioner for human foods to oversee and coordinate FDA’s food safety and nutrition functions will help address the silos and miscommunication documented by the Reagan-Udall Foundation. 

    The deputy commissioner will have decision-making power over a new human foods program, but it’s unclear whether this new leader will have the power to ensure that food safety inspectors are trained and deployed to keep us safe. 

    It also remains to be seen whether FDA regulation of toxic chemicals in everyday products – a top priority for consumers – will finally be treated with the same sense of urgency as the pathogens in our food. 


    The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action

    Areas of Focus Food & Water Food Family Health Children’s Health Toxic Chemicals Food Chemicals Disqus Comments Press Contact Iris Myers (202) 939-9126 January 31, 2023
    Categories: G1. Progressive Green

    TravelCenters of America to deploy 1,000 EV charging ports by 2028

    Utility Dive - Tue, 01/31/2023 - 06:57

    The stations will appear at more than 200 locations and will be run by manufacturer Electrify America. 

    Cold Water Fish Can Adapt to Climate Change by Breeding With Warm Water Relatives

    Yale Environment 360 - Tue, 01/31/2023 - 06:56

    Temperatures are rising faster than many species can evolve to cope with them, posing a long-term threat to their survival. But new research suggests an evolutionary shortcut to adaptation: breed with closely related species that can better stand the heat.

    Read more on E360 →

    Categories: H. Green News

    EWG's Student Leader program

    Environmental Working Group - Tue, 01/31/2023 - 06:34
    EWG's Student Leader program Help create meaningful change rcoleman January 31, 2023

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    Students are called the leaders of tomorrow, but EWG knows students today aren’t willing to wait for tomorrow when it comes to protecting their health and saving the planet. EWG is proud to support the next generation of environmental champions and advocates with science-backed tools and resources to help them create change on the pressing issues that affect our planet. As an EWG Student Leader, you’ll get our support as you make safe choices and we’ll help you make safe choices and enact change.

    Have an idea of how to get involved or questions about the program? We’d love to hear from you! Email us at 

    Consumer Guides EWG resources for students Tap Water Database

    If you've ever wondered what's actually in your tap water, we have answers. Our Tap Water Database provides insight into pollutants in local water resources.

    Click here EWG VERIFIED®

    Shopping for personal care products? The EWG VERIFIED® mark signals the product in your hands meets our strictest criteria for transparency and health.

    Click here Skin Deep®

    Since 2004, EWG's Skin Deep® cosmetic database has helped people protect themselves from potentially toxic chemicals in personal care and beauty products.

    Click here EWG's Guide to Sunscreens

    Sunscreen safety ratings that help you make the right purchase.

    Click here EWG’s Water Filter Guide Filtering your drinking water is a good step to take to protect children’s health from pollutants in tap water. But understanding the pros and cons of different types of filters can be tricky. Click here PFAS Chemicals

    In 1946, DuPont introduced Teflon to the world, changing millions of people’s lives – and polluting their bodies. Today, the family of compounds including Teflon, commonly called PFAS, is found not only in pots and pans but also in the blood of people around the world, including 99 percent of Americans.

    Click here
    Categories: G1. Progressive Green

    DOE, other scientists assess alternatives to cobalt for lithium-ion batteries amid concerns

    Utility Dive - Tue, 01/31/2023 - 06:27

    Researchers created and analyzed a material for a lithium-ion cathode that uses no cobalt and is instead rich in nickel.

    GM invests $650m in Lithium Americas to develop Thacker Pass mine

    Mining.Com - Tue, 01/31/2023 - 06:18

    Shares in Lithium Americas (TSX, NYSE: LAC) soared on Tuesday morning after it announced that General Motors (NYSE: GM) will invest $650 million in the company to help it develop the Thacker Pass lithium mine in northern Nevada.

    The Canadian miner’s stock was up 10% in premarket trading in New York after it unveiled GM’s investment, which the companies say represents the largest-ever investment by an automaker to produce battery raw materials.

    Lithium carbonate from Thacker Pass, the largest known lithium source in the US, will be used in GM’s proprietary Ultium battery cell.

    “Direct sourcing critical EV raw materials and components from suppliers in North America and free-trade-agreement countries helps make our supply chain more secure, helps us manage cell costs, and creates jobs,” GM Chief Executive Mary Barra in a separate statement.

    “The agreement with GM is a major milestone in moving Thacker Pass toward production, while setting a foundation for the separation of our U.S. and Argentine businesses,” Lithium Americas CEO Jonathan Evans noted. 

    The investment will be split into two tranches. Funds for the first $320 million-tranche will be held in escrow until certain conditions are met, including the outcome of the Record of Decision ruling currently pending in the US District Court.

    This figure grants GM exclusive rights to the first stage of lithium production at Thacker Pass and almost 10% of the miner’s shares with a further $330 million to follow. The second payment will happen once the Thacker Pass mine has been separated from Lithium Americas’ Argentine businesses, which will be called Lithium International, as it announced in November.

    “This investment is evidence of the thrust the IRA has provided to the US EV value chain,” Jordan Roberts, Analyst at Fastmarkets NewGen said in an emailed statement. “We expect Thacker Pass to represent almost 20% of North America’s processed production in 2032, giving GM a massive share of potential US lithium production.”

    GM’s move represents an important escalation in the battle among EV makers to secure battery metals. It also highlights a growing trend of integration between the automotive and mining industries.

    The announcement comes on the heels of a US judge’s comments indicating she would rule “in the next couple of months” on whether former President Donald Trump erred in 2021 when he approved the lithium project.

    The Vancouver-based miner, which has received all necessary permits to begin construction, had expected a ruling by last September.

    Enough for 1 million EVs per year

    The mine has the capacity to produce lithium for up to 1 million electric vehicles (EV) a year and is expected to create 1,000 jobs during construction and 500 permanent positions. 

    Lithium Americas is planning the open-pit project’s production capacity to reach 60,000 tonnes a year of battery-grade lithium carbonate over a 46-year mine life, according to a 2018 pre-feasibility study.

    Measured and indicated resources at Thacker Pass total 385 million tonnes averaging 2,917 parts per million (ppm) lithium for 6 million tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE). Inferred resources are 147 million tonnes averaging 2,932 ppm for 2.3 million tonnes of LCE.

    While the world needs more and more lithium, investment in new supply has not kept pace with rising demand, which is expected to hit over 1 million tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent by 2025.

    GM shares were up about 5.4% at $38.24 in premarket trading. Along with the investment, GM also reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings and gave financial guidance for 2023 that topped analysts’ estimates.

    More rampant gas price gouging: Exxon reaps obscene $56 billion profit for 2022 on backs of hard-working Americans

    Environmental Working Group - Tue, 01/31/2023 - 06:14
    More rampant gas price gouging: Exxon reaps obscene $56 billion profit for 2022 on backs of hard-working Americans rcoleman January 31, 2023

    SAN FRANCISCO – ExxonMobil posted record windfall profits in 2022 of $56 billion, according to the oil giant’s fourth-quarter earnings report, released Tuesday. Hard-working Americans getting fleeced at the gas pump are to thank for the company’s obscene earnings.

    The financial report by Exxon, the largest U.S. oil company by market cap, comes days after Chevron posted its fourth-quarter earnings of roughly $36 billion in 2022.

    A portion of the enormous gains can be attributed to the global energy market disruptions caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and pandemic-induced inflation. But the sky-high gas prices Exxon and other big oil firms forced upon consumers, most notably in California, have undoubtedly contributed to the company’s eye-popping earnings last year.

    “Exxon is reaping record profits for investors and company executives, much of it coming right from the pockets of hard-working families forced to pay outrageously high gas prices during much of last year,” said EWG President and California resident Ken Cook. “These obscene earnings made on the backs of everyday consumers should spur action by lawmakers in Sacramento to quickly adopt legislation to penalize future gas gouging by greedy oil companies in the state.”

    Late last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom urged members of the legislature to take up a measure he put forth to punish big oil companies that participate in future price gouging.

    The proposal, embodied in legislation introduced in a special session in December by Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), would empower the California Energy Commission to impose civil penalties on oil refiners that exceed the profit gap limit. Lawmakers could tap the resulting special fund created by these penalty fees to issue refunds to California families. 

    Some of Exxon’s profits are likely helping fund the oil industry’s deceptive campaign to repeal a new law in California to block the expansion of oil and gas drilling in vulnerable communities around the state whose residents are largely Black and Latino. 

    “Between rampant price gouging and deceitful efforts to overturn a California law to protect communities of color from more dangerous oil drilling, it’s clear Big Oil has far too much power over the people in the state,” said Cook.

    The campaign would block the law that bans new drilling operations from within 3,200 feet of homes, schools and hospitals for at least two years. Led by the California Independent Petroleum Association, of which Exxon is a member, the campaign claims to have gathered enough signatures to place a referendum on the 2024 ballot. 


    The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.

    Areas of Focus Energy Federal & State Energy Policy Fossil & Nuclear Regional Issues California Disqus Comments Press Contact Alex Formuzis (202) 667-6982 January 31, 2023
    Categories: G1. Progressive Green

    The Swedish EU Presidency Under Far-Right Influence

    Green European Journal - Tue, 01/31/2023 - 06:09

    The election of Sweden’s new government in September was historic. Never in modern history has the country had a government as conservative as the current one. Given that Sweden has taken over the role of president for the Council of the EU for the first half of 2023, the right-wing turn could have implications not just for Sweden itself, but for all of Europe. But what does this new conservative government want, and how might it influence European politics?

    It’s 1941 and the Swede Gustav Ekström travels to Berlin to join the Nazi cause. For two years he creates propaganda for the Nazis at Lützowstrasse 48/49, the main office of the SS in Berlin. Only when the tide of the war turns will he eventually return to Sweden. He remained a Nazi for the rest of his life. In the early 90s, shortly before his death, he would defend his role in the Second World War as a just struggle against global Jewish domination.  After 1988, he had secured his place in the history books, not for his part in Nazi regime but for co-founding the first local chapter of the Sweden Democrats – the party that today is a central part of the new government’s coalition.

    The story above illustrates why many people are rightly alarmed by Sweden’s new government. The current government consists of three parties, two traditional conservative parties, and one liberal party. Together they amount to about 30 per cent of the votes in parliament, requiring the Sweden Democrats’ 20 per cent to hold power. For a long time, no other party wanted anything to do with the Sweden Democrats because of their Nazi roots. Today however, Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson likes to compare the Sweden Democrats to other Nordic right-wing populist parties like Norway’s Fremskrittspartiet, or the Danish People’s Party, which have both been part of conservative government coalitions for decades. However, Kristersson’s argument conveniently ignores that neither of these parties has a Nazi or Neo-Nazi past. A more appropriate comparison is Brothers of Italy, a party who also have historical connections to fascist movements.

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    That the influence of the far right has been on the rise in European politics is no news by now. But how much influence will the Sweden Democrats have on European politics in a coalition with traditional conservative parties? The answer will depend on what issue we are talking about.

    Sweden’s shifting place in Europe

    As laid out by Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson in a speech to the European parliament, Sweden’s number one priority during its EU presidency is supporting Ukraine against the Russian aggression. While the Sweden Democrats have shown pro-Kremlin leanings in the past, there is no space for such ideas within the current Swedish government. The traditional Swedish right has a long history of being pro-European and pro-Western. Now, with Sweden (and Finland) applying to join NATO, with strong public backing, they feel vindicated. This decision has also re-energised their ambition to take Sweden from what they see as a role on the periphery of the western cooperation, to a position firmly within the western fold. This includes increasing both the armed and the humanitarian support for Ukraine, as well as strengthening the EU against other threats, including China.

    The situation is somewhat similar when it comes to the rule of law. While Kristersson has declared his intention to continue the work towards protecting the rule of law within the EU, here too the track record of the Sweden Democrats is concerning. However, all other parties in the Swedish parliament are reliable supporters of rule of law and the Sweden Democrats are unlikely to want to spend political capital on Poland or Hungary, so attempts to hold such countries accountable for undermining of democratic institutions via Article 7 proceedings are likely to continue uninterrupted.

    When it comes to the European Green Deal, Kristersson has uttered all the right phrases in his speeches. He supports the EU commitments to the Paris Agreement, and he is proud of Sweden’s contributions to the green transition. However, his actions say otherwise. On the national level, the government has kept the relatively ambitious environmental goals of its predecessor. At the same time, they are slashing funding to the environmental agency, aiming for a more-than-half cut by 2025. The single reform that the government spent the most on in its 2022 budget was lowering taxes on and increasing subsidies of fossil fuels. According to the finance ministry’s own assessment, the government’s new policies are incompatible with the climate goals that they still pretend to support.

    Europe is facing the most challenging time in decades, but this is a reason to put more effort into protecting human rights including for refugees, and to speed up the green transition.

    The current governing coalition has never been an enthusiastic supporter of the European Green Deal. During a vote on it in 2021, only one of the four parties in the current governing coalition voted yes. Sweden is expected to support the European Green Deal with about 15 billion euros, but will only receive about 3 billion back. This has made the European Green Deal somewhat controversial in the Swedish discourse. If the government were to treat the European Green Deal the same way it has treated its national climate agenda, it would be devastating.

    Another area where the Sweden Democrats influence can be felt migration policy. To keep the Sweden Democrats out of the government but still be able to rely on their support in the parliament, the governing parties had to make several political concessions to them. Naturally, the Sweden Democrats’ main priority was a stricter migration policy. The agreement reached by the parties was more far reaching than almost anyone had expected. Family reunification will be as limited as the EU law allows, deportation will be made easier including for “immoral behavior”, (what that includes exactly is still unclear), citizenships will be harder to obtain, decreased economic support to asylum seekers and asylum receivers. The list goes on. The outcome is perhaps best summarised by the lead negotiator for the Sweden Democrats, Gustav Gellerbrant who said that “it’s incredible really, we’ve basically agreed to implement the entirety of the Sweden Democrats’ migration policy”

    Some might argue that while the Sweden Democrats have a large influence on Swedish migratory and asylum policy, the same might not apply for EU policy as it is run directly through government rather than through parliament. But they would be wrong. Initially, the government reassured everyone that the Sweden Democrats would not be allowed to influence any foreign or EU policy. But internal documents leaked by journalists showed that the Sweden Democrats will be consulted on several EU topics, including migration. In general, traditional right have largely internalised the Sweden Democrats’ view on migration and asylum. Unlike 10 years ago, the Swedish right no longer talks about the benefits of labour migration, or the respect for human rights. We should assume that this will be reflected in Sweden’s priorities in the ongoing negotiations of the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum.

    The challenge for Greens

    On one hand, Sweden is not Poland or Hungary, and will remain a reliable actor when it comes to European cohesion and the respect for rule of law. On the other hand, in key areas such as migration and climate action, Sweden is more than likely to switch roles from progressive champion to regressive conservative, focusing more on narrow national self-interest instead of the common European good.

    For progressives, it is concerning enough that alliances of the traditional right and the populist right are seeing electoral success in many European countries. Holding the Swedish government accountable, particularly to the EU climate goals which they at least pay lip service to, will be an important job for Greens. Europe is facing the most challenging time in decades, but this is a reason to put more, not less, effort into protecting human rights including for refugees, and to speed up the green transition. Sadly, Sweden’s role as president of the Council of the EU is unlikely to help in that regard. But that makes it all the more important that others take up the mantle.

    Categories: H. Green News

    Illegal mining in Central, South America decimating snake populations

    Mining.Com - Tue, 01/31/2023 - 06:06

    A recent study published in the journal ZooKeys found that the proliferation of illegal open-pit gold and copper mining operations in the jungles of Ecuador, Colombia, and Panama is decimating the populations of five newly-described tree-dwelling snake species.

    According to the paper, neotropical snail-eating snakes (genera Sibon and Dipsas) have a unique lifestyle that makes them particularly prone to the effects of gold and copper mining. First, they are arboreal, so they cannot survive in areas devoid of vegetation, such as in open-pit mines. Second, they feed exclusively on slugs and snails, a soft-bodied type of prey that occurs mostly along streams and rivers and is presumably declining because of the pollution of water bodies.

    “When I first explored the rainforests of Nangaritza River (in Ecuador) in 2014, I remember thinking the place was an undiscovered and unspoiled paradise,” Alejandro Arteaga, lead author of the study, said in a media statement.

    “In fact, the place is called Nuevo Paraíso in Spanish, but it is a paradise no more. Hundreds of illegal gold miners using backhoe loaders have now taken possession of the river margins, which are now destroyed and turned into rubble.”

    According to Arteaga, the presence of a conservation area may not be enough to keep the snail-eating snakes safe. In southeastern Ecuador, illegal miners are closing in on the Maycu Reserve, ignoring landowner rights and even making violent threats to anyone opposed to the extraction of gold. 

    The researcher noted that even rangers and their families are tempted to quit their jobs to work in illegal mining, as they can earn what would otherwise be a year’s salary in just a few weeks extracting gold from the Nangaritza River. 

    Looking into the situation in Panama, Arteaga pointed out that large-scale copper mining is affecting the habitat of two of the new species: Sibon irmelindicaprioae and Sibon canopy. However, unlike the illegal gold miners in Ecuador and Colombia, in the Central American country, metal extraction is legally carried out by Minera Panamá.

    “Both legal and illegal open-pit mines are uninhabitable for the snail-eating snakes,” Arteaga said. “But the legal mines may be the lesser of two evils. At the very least, they respect the limit of nearby protected areas, answer to a higher authority, and are presumably unlikely to enact violence on park rangers, researchers, and conservationists.”

    Sibon canopy, one of the newly described species, appears to have fairly stable populations inside protected areas of Panama, although elsewhere nearly 40% of its habitat has been destroyed. At Parque Nacional Omar Torrijos, where it is found, there has been a reduction in the number of park rangers. This makes it easier for loggers and poachers to reach previously unspoiled habitats that are essential for the survival of the snakes.

    Arteaga said that the lack of employment and the high price of gold aggravate the situation as no legal activity can compete against the “gold bonanza.” 

    “More and more often, farmers, park rangers, and Indigenous people are turning to illegal activities to provide for their families, particularly during crisis situations like the covid-19 pandemic, when NGO funding was at its lowest,” he said. “These new species of snake are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of new species discoveries in this region, but if illegal mining continues at this rate, there may not be an opportunity to make any future discoveries.”

    Duke Energy Planning Major Enhancements to Renewables Programs

    Solar Industry Magazine - Tue, 01/31/2023 - 06:03

    Duke Energy has proposed an expansion to its Green Source Advantage (GSA) program that would give customers the option to supplement their power usage with 100% renewable power and the ability to pair renewable projects with energy storage.

    Details for the GSA Choice program were outlined in a filing with the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

    “Many of our large business customers seek renewable power sources and are making decarbonization a long-term part of their business plans,” says Lon Huber, Duke Energy’s senior vice president, pricing and customer solutions. “Duke Energy is proud to offer these customers a wide range of options, including the ability to increase their hourly use with carbon-free energy in one of the country’s first time-aligned clean-energy programs.”

    Duke Energy’s GSA program was launched in 2017 and has been used by customers such as the City of CharlotteBank of AmericaWells Fargo and Duke University. The changes build and expand on that program.

    Up to 4,000 MW of capacity will be available under the GSA Choice program, which is more than 10 times the capacity now available. It will provide customers a path toward having 24×7 clean energy. It allows large customers to offset their power purchases by securing renewable energy from projects connected to the Duke Energy grid. The customer may count the renewable energy generated to satisfy their sustainability goals.

    Among the changes to the program:

    • Customers can contract for up to 100% of their energy use. Previously, the program’s details only allowed for about 30% of total energy use.
    • Customers can work directly with Duke Energy or independent developers for their long-term purchase of renewable energy.
    • Customers may also combine energy storage with their project – allowing them to align the production of renewable energy with their energy load.
    • Duke Energy is also proposing a new 10-year avoided cost bill credit option in addition to the existing hourly, two-year and five-year options.

    Another program being proposed – Clean Energy Impact – is ideal for customers who want to claim a certain percentage of renewable energy through environmental attribute purchases in support of corporate sustainability goals, or for residential customers that would like to support the local renewable energy industry.

    The program with feature locally source renewable energy certificates; month-to-month contracts with no long-term commitments. Clean Energy Impact will be available to residential customers, who can purchase renewable energy to match their energy use at the level of their choosing. It will be ideal for renters, or customers who aren’t able or looking to install solar.

    “We’re continuing to fine-tune our renewable energy options for all customers and are looking at programs such as community solar in the future. That will allow customers to directly subscribe to the output of a solar facility,” adds Huber.

    To learn more about these programs, business customers can visit here, while residential customers can find more information here.

    The post Duke Energy Planning Major Enhancements to Renewables Programs appeared first on Solar Industry.

    Queer Tolstoy Book Launch at Book Soup!

    Join me next month at the launch for Queer Tolstoy: A Psychobiography at Book Soup! It will take place on Thursday, February 23 at 7pm. Book Soup is located at 8818 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, CA, 90069.

    Masks are strongly encouraged. Thank you.

    Categories: B1. EcoAnarchism

    สล็อตวอเลท 168

    Pittsburgh Green New Deal - Tue, 01/31/2023 - 05:09
    สล็อตวอเลท 168

    สล็อตวอเลท 168 เว็บไซต์ที่รบบรวมเกมสล็อตไว้มากกว่า 50 ค่าย ค่ายไหนดี ค่ายไหนดัง มีครบจบที่ 168 เว็บไซต์คุณภาพ ที่มีความทันสมัย สะดวก สบาย และครบวงจร อีกทั้งยังได้รวบรวมคาสิโนออนไลน์ เกมไพ่ออนไลน์ กีฬาต่าง ๆ ไว้ให้สมาชิกทุกท่านได้เลือกเล่นมากกว่า 1000+ รายการ เกมสล็อตค่ายดังชั้นนำอย่าง  ค่าย PG Slot , ค่าย Slot XO​ , ค่าย Joker Gaming​ , ค่าย Pragmatic Play , ค่าย Ameba Slot​ , ค่าย Wazdan Slot​ ก็ได้รวบรวมไว้แล้วที่นี่

    เว็บไซต์ของเราเปิดให้บริการมาแล้วมากกว่า 10 ปี เป็นเว็บตรง ที่มั่นงคง เชื่อถือได้ การันตีความสนุก และความตื่นเต้นที่เร้าใจ ไม่เหมือนใคร หากมีข้อสงสัย หรือติดปัญหาที่ใด ก็สามารถแจ้งแอดมินได้ตลิด 24 ชั่วโมง เราพร้อมให้บริการอย่างใส่ใจ อีกทั้งยังมีโปรโมชั่นพิเศษต่าง ๆ ที่คุณไม่ควรพลาด สามารถฝากถอนได้ไม่มีขั้นต่ำ รองรับการฝาก – ถอนผ่านทรูวอเลท เพิ่มความสะดวกในการฝากถอนให้รวดเร็วยิ่งขึ้น ด้วยระบบออโต้ ต้องลอง

    เล่นเกมสล็อตกับ สล็อตวอเลท 168 ดียังไง

    ท่านจะได้พบกับเกมสล็อตมากกว่า 10000+ เกม จากค่ายดังชั้นนำมากกว่า 50 ค่าย ด้วยเกมที่มีคุณภาพ แจกโบนัสแบบจัดหนักจัดเต็ม เอฟเฟคภาพ กราฟฟิกเกมที่สวยงามทันสมัย ไม่ว่าจะทุนน้อย ทุนหนา ก็สามารถเลือกเล่นเกมสล็อตได้อย่างเพลิดเพลิน ลุ้นรับโบนัสรางวัลแจ็คพอตได้แบบไม่อั้นได้อย่างจุใจ

    เว็บไซต์คุณภาพ ที่รองรับทั้งระบบ  IOS , Android และคอมพิวเตอร์ สามารถเล่นได้ทุกที่ ทุกเวลา สะดวก ไม่มีสะดุด เพิ่มความเพลิดเพลินในการเล่นมากยิ่งขึ้น ถือว่าตอบโจทย์ของนักปั่นมาก ๆ เลยทีเดียว กับเกมสล็อตที่มีความสนุก พร้อมเว็บไซต์ที่มีความทันสมัย มีเกมใหม่อัพเดทให้เล่นทุกวัน รับรองได้เลยว่า เกมไหนแตกง่าย มาใหม่ คุณจะได้เล่นก่อนใคร เลือกเล่นได้ไม่ซ้ำใครแน่นอน

    และที่สำคัญยังเป็นเว็บตรง ที่ไม่ผ่านเอเย่นต์ ไม่มีปัญหาการโกงแน่นอน การันตีจากผู้ใช้งานจริง และองค์กรชื่อดังชั้นนำทั่วโลก และหากท่านใดที่สนใจอยากเป็นสมาชิกกับเรา สามารถสมัครสมาชิกได้ง่าย ๆ ผ่านทางหน้าเว็บไซต์ โดยการสมัครไม่ต้องเสียเงินแม้แต่บาทเดียว และยังมีโปรโมชั่นพิเศษให้เลือกรับอีกมากมาย กิจกรรมต่าง ๆ ที่ให้ร่วมสนุกอย่างเต็มที่


    โปรโมชั้นที่เราจะมาแนะนำในวันนี้ ไม่ได้มีแม้แต่สมาชิกใหม่ สมาชิกเก่าของทางเว็บเรา ก็สามารถลุ้นรับได้เหมือนกัน

    • โปรโมชั่นสมาชิกใหม่ รับ 300%
    • ฟรีโบนัส 50% สำหรับสมาชิกใหม่
    • ฝาก 20 รับเครดิตฟรี 100 บาท สำหรับสมชิกใหม่
    • ฝาก 100 รับเครดิตฟรี 300 บาท สำหรับสมาชิกใหม่
    • คืนยอดเสีย 5% สำหรับสมาชิกใหม่ และสมาชิกเก่า
    • โปรแนะนำเพื่อน รับ 10% สำหรับสมาชิกใหม่ และสมาชิกเก่า

    อีกทั้งยังมีกิจกรรมพิเศษให้คุณได้ลุ้นรับทั้งสมชิกเก่า และสมาชิกใหม่ ไม่ว่าจะเป็นกิจกรรมการหมุนวงล้อ สะสมแต้มแลกคะแนน และอื่น ๆ เรียกได้ว่าแจกหนัก แจกโหดมาก ๆ เลยทีเดียว แจกดีแบบนี้ จะพลาดได้ยังไง

    1. มีบริการฝากถอนอย่างรวดเร็วไม่ต้องรอนาน ด้วยระบบออโต้
    2. มีเกมสล็อตให้เลือกเล่นจากหลากหลายค่ายดังชั้นนำ ไม่ว่าจะเป็น  PG SLOT , SLOT XO , JOKER SLOT หรืออื่น ๆ อีกมากกว่า 50 ค่าย
    3. มีแอดมินคอยให้บริการอย่างครอบคลุมตลอด 24 ชั่วโมง
    4. เกมสล็อตเล่นง่าย พร้อมเบทเดิมพันขั้นต่ำ ที่ไม่ว่าใครก็สามารถเล่นได้ เกมไหนลื่น ไม่สะดุด
    5. มีการอัพเดทเกมใหม่ทุกวัน คุณจะได้เล่นก่อนใครอย่างแน่นอน
    6. มีโปรโมชั่นเด็ด ๆ มากมาย ให้ได้เลือกรับทุกวัน
    7. รักษาข้อมูลของสมาชิกทุกท่านอย่างปลอดภัย เว็บตรง มั่นคง ไม่มีการโกงแน่นอน

    Credit สล็อตเว็บตรง1688upx


    The post สล็อตวอเลท 168 appeared first on

    Categories: B3. EcoSocialism

    The EPA vetoed Alaska’s proposed Pebble Mine

    High Country News - Tue, 01/31/2023 - 05:00
    Read a Q&A with Yup’ik fisher and activist Alannah Hurley on the fight for Bristol Bay’s future.
    Categories: H. Green News

    UNITE FOR JUSTICE: Extinction Rebellion, Netpol, Just Stop Oil and others join forces to take action at Royal Courts of Justice

    Extinction Rebellion - Tue, 01/31/2023 - 04:31

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    #ExtinctionRebellion #UniteforJustice

    • People from over 25 social justice groups – including Extinction Rebellion, Just Stop Oil, and Netpol – gathered outside the Royal Courts of Justice to highlight the failure of the justice system to protect the rights of people and planet 
    • A 3m high ‘Justice Arch’ with a banner stating ‘Unite for Justice’ was erected in front of the Royal Courts. The arch was topped with scales holding the Earth on one side weighed down by piles of money on the other. 
    • A table of ‘climate criminals’ was set up and actors representing Rishi Sunak, Boris Johnson, and Rupert Murdoch, partied with faceless individuals bearing the logos of polluting corporations like Shell, BP, Vanguard, Monsanto, and Barclays 
    • The action marks the 80-day countdown to ‘The Big One’ on 21 April 2023, when Extinction Rebellion will bring 100,000 people to stand together at the Houses of Parliament 

    At 11.30 today, Extinction Rebellion have joined over 20 other groups – including Just Stop Oil and Netpol – outside the Royal Courts of Justice to highlight the justice system’s failure to protect the rights of people and planet.  

    The group set up a table outside the Courts of Justice where ‘climate criminals’ wearing Rishi Sunak, Boris Johnson, and Rupert Murdoch masks partied with faceless representatives of polluting corporations bearing the logos of Shell, BP, Monsanto, McDonalds, Vanguard, and Barclays. 

    A 3m high ‘Justice Arch’ was erected in front of the court with a banner reading ‘Unite for Justice’. The arch was topped with scales holding the Earth on one side weighed down by piles of money on the other. Two individuals dressed as ‘Lady Justice’ – stylised as the justice we have now, and the justice we need instead – stood under the arch. 

    The action aims to highlight the UK justice system’s failure to hold those responsible for the destruction of our planet legally accountable. It also honoured Earth and human rights defenders around the world, many of whom have a disproportionate price – from incarceration to death – for taking action.   Legal cases fighting corporations, governments and the law itself were spotlighted.

    Speaking on behalf of Extinction Rebellion, Melanie Nazareth, Lawyer, said:The legal system is failing us, both here in the UK and around the world. The scales of justice, thrown out of whack by powerful vested interests and corporate might, are no longer in balance. We’re highlighting the injustice of a legal system that is too-often prepared to side with the rich and powerful, instead of defending the rights of ordinary citizens and the planet. 

    “Our world is being destroyed before our eyes, yet Lady Justice is frequently willing to look the other way. As Booker Prize-winning novelist Ben Okri recently asked: ‘“Why is it easier to punish people who are trying to save our world than to face the causes of the environmental disaster hanging over the human race?’” [1]

    Representatives from more than 25 different activist groups brought symbols of their struggle to find justice and delivered short speeches under the arch. Violet Coco, an Australian climate activist, had a symbolic burnt teddy bear, destroyed during the country’s devastating wildfires, presented on her behalf. 

    The event ended with a display of photos of activists who have lost life or liberty in their struggle to protect people and planet. Blank placards were held up to honour those whose lives are currently too at risk to be named publicly.

    Monika Sobiecki, 34, barrister and partner at Bindmans LLP, and member of Lawyers Are Responsible, said: “As the climate, ecological and biodiversity emergencies intensify, ordinary people are following their consciences and taking non-violent direct action. Many of these conscientious protectors are paying a terrible price – from incarceration to death. 

    “Meanwhile, the courts and the legal system continue to take harsh measures against peaceful protestors and are unwilling or unable to punish the real wrongdoers. There is still no international crime of ecocide, allowing individuals and corporations with money and power to irreparably damage the biosphere with impunity. 

    “Last year I and more than 250 other legal professionals, from juniors to King’s Counsel, signed a letter warning that to breach the 1.5C global warming threshold set out in the Paris Agreement would threaten mass loss of life, disorder and the end of the rule of law. This was far from enough. Now it is time for more lawyers to take a stand of conscience. We are Lawyers Are Responsible – and we are determined to make the legal profession look long and hard at themselves and their practices, to stop lawyers being perpetrators of and bystanders to the climate and ecological crises. If this chimes with you and you want to stand with us – join us.”

    Amber Rose-Dewey from Campaign Against Arms Trade said:”Justice rarely plays a role in the international arms trade. The UK government licenses billions of pounds worth of arms to human rights abusing regimes without thought to the death and misery they are causing. Profit is more important than human rights or war crimes.

    Earlier this month, Extinction Rebellion announced its ‘100 Days’ campaign, which aims to mobilise 100,000 people to stand outside the Houses of Parliament on 21 April for ‘The Big One’. Today marks the 80 day countdown to that event as Extinction Rebellion continues to build bridges with people and organisations for April. Extinction Rebellion’s official ‘ticker’ count currently shows over 10,500 people have pledged to be there.[3] 






    Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and increasingly rapid climate change. If urgent and radical action isn’t taken, we’re heading towards 4˚C warming, and the societal collapse and mass loss of life that that implies. The younger generation, racially marginalised communities and the Global South are on the front-line. No-one will escape the devastating impacts. 

    Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.

    Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:

    1. Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
    2. Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
    3. Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

    The post <strong>UNITE FOR JUSTICE: Extinction Rebellion, Netpol, Just Stop Oil and others join forces to take action at Royal Courts of Justice</strong> appeared first on Extinction Rebellion UK.

    Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

    Fact in fiction: Canadian authors reflect sex workers’ struggles

    Rabble - Tue, 01/31/2023 - 04:00

    When I first moved to Toronto, I rented a room above a restaurant in a not yet gentrified neighborhood. Across from me was one of those seedy boarding house hotels and sex workers worked the corner. I would see them on my walk home. When things were slow, they read books. As a bookworm myself, I was intrigued. It took me a couple of months to work up the courage to ask them what they read when they weren’t busy. They were amused by me. I was a weird college kid in weird outfits with a weird ask, but from then on, we would chat about books sometimes. They were the first sex workers I ever met. They made me feel welcome in my new neighborhood.

    A few years later, when I was a baby stripper, some of the girls would lend each other books in the changing room. Some were self-help, some business improvement, and some were books about sex workers, or sex worker memoirs. Eventually, we formed what we called “the ho bookclub.” Our book club went on for a year or two, before some of us left the club for good. I still read and collect books by or about sex workers, particularly books written by Canadian authors.

    I’m hoping to review books written by sex workers later this year, but for now, I’m going to focus on established feminist writers whose books can be easily found at local libraries and bookstores.

    Margaret Atwood and Heather O’Neill are Canadian, feminist, best-selling authors. Both have written about sex workers during their careers. There is not enough space in a monthly column for me to get into much detail about each author and their body of work. But there is space for me to tell you if sex workers feel seen in the books written by the above authors.

    I might as well start with the grande dame of Canadian literature herself, Margaret Atwood. As we’ve seen with the reversal of Roe v. Wade in America, her book and the current TV adaptation the Handmaid’s Tale is becoming less speculative fiction by the day. I remember first reading the book in high school, and remember thinking to myself that I, too, would have chosen to work at the clandestine brothel called Jezebel’s instead of hard labour in a nuclear wasteland without any safety precautions if the powers that be determined me to be too slutty to be used as a handmaid. I didn’t have the vocabulary at the time to express that even in extreme situations such as being forced to choose between sex trafficking or a gulag, victims can and do express agency. And there is such a thing as a spectrum of consent. 

    Atwood’s Oryx and Crake trilogy, like the Handmaid’s Tale, is speculative fiction. Year of the Flood is my favorite of the three because the protagonist is a stripper. Ren is a graduate with a fine arts degree in dance whose only career prospects are working in fast food or to work as a stripper. She gets hired as a feature entertainer at a club called Scales and Tails. The book begins with Ren being stuck in a decontamination suite at the club just as the environmental apocalypse hits. She survives on champagne and bar nuts and reflects on her life thus far and wonders if she will ever find her friend Amanda again. In this dystopian strip club/brothel, the women who work there are categorized by the owners as either talent or disposable, and the clients treat them as such. 

    The girls who are talent are expected to perform. They are provided some, but never enough, safety measures such as skin suit costumes and a decontamination suite if the suit gets ripped to minimize their interactions with the clientele. By contrast, the workers deemed as disposable are brought in from impoverished countries and the men can do what they wish to them with impunity — their bodies are literally disposable.

    In her fictional world, and in my real world, class, or the perception of class, determines a sex worker’s earning potential and working conditions. On one end, we have white, conventionally attractive, college educated women who can brand themselves as luxury and charge accordingly. On the other end of the spectrum, we have sex workers who work outdoors. They are more likely to be living in poverty, racialized, disabled, living with addictions or mental health issues, and/or without access to education or social capital. 

    Think about it: when the Stormy Daniels scandal broke, people were tripping all over themselves to say that they too would engage in sex work for 130 thousand U.S. dollars and that Daniels has great business acumen. Would these same people rush to express their approval when they see a sex worker working outdoors, doing the same thing just in far worse conditions for exponentially less money? Would they want to be a sex worker in that scenario?

    With the exception of Lullabies for Little Criminals, Heather O’Neill sets her books in Victorian or Edwardian era Montreal. Her protagonists are, for the most part, teenage girls who engage in survival sex work. I’m sure, in part, writing about Montreal’s history is in itself O’Neill’s ongoing homage to her hometown. Montreal is glorious and deserves to be celebrated. But it’s also a hell of a lot less jarring to read about teenagers trading sex during a time where child labor was still legal and women weren’t allowed to vote or own property. I think for us as readers, it’s easier to stomach human tragedy when it’s at arm’s length — we can tell ourselves that things are much better nowadays for young people, and that our social nets never let anyone “slip through the cracks.” We fall asleep with our book still open, in our cozy beds, surrounded by modern amenities. 

    O’Neill’s latest book, When We Lost Our Heads, is about two best friends Marie and Sadie, who get up to all sorts of strange and wonderful performance art. Marie is the only (legitimate) child of a sugar baron. Sadie is the child of a social climbing third rate politician. In an ever escalating game of truth or dare, the girls accidentally kill a maid. Marie is shielded from consequence. Sadie is sent abroad to some sort of remedial school. Years later when she returns, she runs away from home because her family wants to minimize their reputational risk and send her to the asylum. Instead, she runs away and meets George, an androgynous woman who was raised communally in a brothel. George hasn’t left the brothel, she splits her time between doing sex work, being a trained midwife for the brothel, and a clandestine abortionist for the wider community. She takes in Sadie and they have a beautiful love story. Sadie eventually becomes the brothel’s resident dominatrix. This book is unapologetically queer; there are no heaving bosoms. Instead, we get a love scene with a strap on followed by cuddles. The sex is real. 

    Equally real is the camaraderie among the sex workers. They help each other with clients. They hustle together. The work is hard, but the girls have a shared sense that helps them push through it.  On Sundays, they rest their bodies and smoke opium. Nowadays, it’s a facemask, foot bath and joint kind of hangout after work or on a Sunday afternoon, but the communal rest remains the same. The women at the brothel know each other’s bodies. They love each other. It made me want to work with these girls. 

    Sadie and George eventually part ways, but they put their time at the brothel to good use. They each become writers in their own right. Sadie becomes a famous erotica writer, and George writes political pamphlets that eventually empower young girls working in the factory to revolt, strike and demand better working conditions. There is no precautionary tale, they both move on from sex work relatively unscathed. If anything, their time at the brothel gave them inspiration and time to plan their next steps.

    If reading more books was one of your New Year resolutions, you should add Year of the Flood and When We Lost our Heads to your list. The authors’ creation of a parallel world as a way to lessen the blow about the impossible choices young women are faced with is masterful.

    Both books highlight and parallel key struggles that I, and other sex workers I know, face. They also reflect us as full humans: we are resilient and work hard. We love and are loved. We use our talents to uplift our communities in face of injustice. 

    I’m looking forward to reading books new book written by sex workers about sex work and sex workers. We have a lot to say! Consider reading along with me this year.

    The post Fact in fiction: Canadian authors reflect sex workers’ struggles appeared first on

    Categories: F. Left News

    How a defunct Trump policy still threatens Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp

    Grist - Tue, 01/31/2023 - 03:45

    For centuries, the Okefenokee Swamp has been a haven for people, animals, and plants. The wilderness, which straddles the Georgia-Florida border, is a mire of winding, midnight waters, giant cypress trees cloaked in Spanish moss, and peat islands floating among alligators and lily pads. The swamp has seen many chapters: It was part of the homelands of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation before the Tribe was forcibly removed from Georgia in the 1820s and 1830s. A hundred years later, the swamp came under federal protection as a national wildlife refuge. 

    Now, yet another chapter may be approaching for the Okefenokee watershed: a titanium mining site. 

    For years, the Okefenokee Swamp has been warding off Alabama-based Twin Pines Minerals, which in 2019 filed for permits for a mining project just outside of the refuge. The company hopes to extract titanium dioxide, which can be used to create bright white pigments used in a wide variety of consumer and industrial products. While the swamp itself is not at risk of being turned into a giant mining pit, the project would result in a 500-by-100-foot pit in the nearby Trail Ridge, which holds the swamp waters in place.

    Grist / Jessie Blaeser / Amelia Bates

    This January, the mine moved one step closer to breaking ground when the Georgia Environmental Protection Division released a draft plan for the development and opened a 60-day period of public comment. The progress was made possible by a short-lived Trump administration rule that created a window of opportunity for industrial projects to proceed along protected waterways — even without a federal permit.

    “What we’re seeing at Twin Pines is not the only example of waterways that remain at risk because of the prior administration’s rule,” said Kelly Moser, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center, of the Okefenokee Swamp. “It is the most striking example, given that it jeopardizes one of our most iconic and valuable natural resources, but it is not alone.” 

    During Trump’s time in office, the federal government rolled back hundreds of environmental protections, enacting many new pro-industry policies. Among those was the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which removed the protection of the Clean Water Act — aimed at preventing water pollution — from huge swaths of streams and wetlands across the United States. 

    An ibis steps into the waters at the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Steve Brookes / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

    The rule lasted just over 16 months before it was vacated by a federal judge who cited “fundamental, substantive flaws” in the rule. But the damage had already been done: During that time period, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers reported a three-fold increase in projects that no longer needed federal permits. At least 333 of those projects would have required a permit had it not been for the rule. 

    Companies were trying to take advantage of “the fast food window” to grab their project clearances, said Stu Gillespie, a supervising senior attorney with Earthjustice. (The nonprofit has been involved in litigation against the Army Corps of Engineers and mining companies as a result of the Navigable Water Protection Rule.) He said these projects are likely to have environmental, cultural and potential health consequences that will play out over decades. 

    “The harms are irreparable,” Gillespie said.

    For the Twin Pines mining site, the Trump-era rule meant that for a brief but meaningful window, all the waters associated with the project site were abruptly excluded from federal protection. During that period, the Army Corps of Engineers determined the project only required state approval, a small hill to climb compared to the regulatory mountain that is the federal Clean Water Act, in order to proceed.

    President Donald Trump looks on while EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler speaks during an event to unveil significant changes to U.S. environmental policy. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

    As with other projects where all the waters were determined not to be under federal protection during that period, the Corps’ decision at Twin Pines has been allowed to stand despite the fact that the rule they were based on is no longer in place. For projects where the federal government still had jurisdiction under the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, many of these had to go back to the starting line.

    Scientists from the University of Georgia as well as the Fish and Wildlife Administration have warned against the Twin Pines project moving forward. In 2019, in a document obtained by the Defenders of Wildlife and shared with Grist, the Fish and Wildlife listed concerns about the project’s impact on water levels in the Okefenokee, increasing the likelihood of fires, and destroying habitats. “The effects of the action may be permanent to the entire 438,000-acre swamp and nearby ecosystems on nearby Trail Ridge,” the agency wrote.

    Moser called the situation “an absurdity.” The Corps “is not protecting critical wetlands that have been waters of the United States and are waters of the United States,” she said. 

    Across the country, about an hour south of Tucson, Arizona, another mining complex is already breaking ground as a result of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. The Copper World Complex is owned by Hudbay Minerals, a Toronto-based mining company. Just like Twin Pines, the Trump-era rule allowed Hudbay to proceed without the need for a federal permit. Within the complex, ephemeral waterways — dry stream beds that turn into rivers or streams after periods during the monsoon season — weave through the slope of the Santa Rita Mountains. These waterways are essential to maintaining surface water levels of the Santa Cruz River, but were categorically excluded from protection under the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. 

    Still, the two projects have faced multiple legal stumbling blocks. In June 2022, the Army Corps of Engineers identified the proposals in a memo rescinding its previous determinations as a result of the agency’s previous failure to consult local tribes: the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in Georgia, and the the Tohono O’odham Nation, Pascua Yaqui Tribe, and Hopi Tribe in Arizona. But after Twin Pines filed a civil suit, the Corps reinstated its Trump-era determination for that site, putting the fate of the project back in Georgia’s hands. 

    The Corps seems to have applied the same thinking to Hudbay’s Arizona mining project. “Unlike Twin Pines, there hasn’t been any kind of out-of-court settlement with Hudbay or anything along those lines,” said Earthjustice’s Gillespie. The progress in the Copper World Mining Complex is “a direct result” of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, he said.

    An aerial view shows environmental damage caused by copper mining in Tucson, Arizona. Joe Sohm / Visions of America / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

    Under the guise of Trump-era guidelines, Hudbay has already begun development in the Santa Rita Mountain range, filling the stream beds that are technically back under federal protection.

    In November 2022, the Southern Environmental Law Center filed a lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers, arguing the agency was in charge of protecting “waters of the United States,” such as the freshwater wetlands on which the Twin Pines mining site might be built. But at the state level, there are no Georgia laws protecting freshwater wetlands. “The state has always abdicated that responsibility to the federal government,” said hydrologist and University of Georgia professor Rhett Jackson.

    In order to proceed, both Twin Pines and Hudbay await only a handful of state permits from Georgia and Arizona, respectively. These permits are related to air quality and groundwater withdrawals, but do not need to address the potential destruction of the waterways in question.

    In Arizona, state law restricts its own water department from regulating streams not under federal protection. But the Environmental Protection Agency has begun an investigation into the Copper World site to “determine whether there’s been violations to the Clean Water Act,” Gillespie said.

    In Georgia, the project must first hurdle the 60-day period of public comment, which began January 19, for Twin Pines’ draft mining plan. With the fate of the Okefenokee Swamp at risk, voices have risen up against the mine both locally and nationally, with opposition likely to reach a fever pitch over the next few months. 

    Jackson is one of those opposed to the project. “I have traveled all over the world (29 countries), hiked in many national parks, and worked as a wilderness ranger in the North Cascade Range of Washington State, and I have never seen anything more beautiful than the Okefenokee Swamp,” he wrote in an email to Grist.

    An alligator basks in the sun in Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Stacy Shelton / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

    Meanwhile, Twin Pines sees the period of public comment as a victory: It moves the project forward. 

    “We are pleased to have reached this important milestone in the permitting process and appreciate the Georgia [Environmental Protection Division] EPD’s diligence in evaluating our application,” said Steve Ingle, president of Twin Pines Minerals, in a statement. “This is a great opportunity for people to learn the truth about what our operations will and will not do, and the absurdity of allegations that our shallow mining-to-land-reclamation process will ‘drain the swamp’ or harm it in any way.”

    The Georgia Environmental Protection Division says it hopes to receive thoughtful feedback on the Twin Pines draft plan. “Good comments on the [Mining Land Use Plan] MLUP — additional analysis, data, technical perspectives, mitigation measures, etc. — helps EPD make better decisions and we look forward to the process,” said the department’s Communications Director, Sara Lips. 

    The federal government, however, is putting pressure on Georgia to halt the project. In September 2022, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland visited the Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge along with Senator Jon Ossoff of Georgia. The pair spoke with over a dozen local leaders about protecting the area, according to WABE. Just two months later, Halaand wrote to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, urging him to halt approval of the mine.

    The recommendation is a reminder of how fast the wheels of politics can turn — albeit with lasting environmental consequences. “What the Trump rule did was embolden industry to flout the law, to ignore the science, and to rally around this false approach to protecting waters of the United States,” Gillespie said. Furthermore, it gave extractive industries a roadmap for circumventing the federal permitting process for protecting waterways.

    We see that companies “are continuing to press those very same arguments,” Gillespie said.

    Editor’s note: Earthjustice and Southern Environmental Law Center are advertisers with Grist. Advertisers have no role in Grist’s editorial decisions.

    This story was originally published by Grist with the headline How a defunct Trump policy still threatens Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp on Jan 31, 2023.

    Categories: H. Green News

    Auckland drenched by New Zealand’s wettest month on record

    Grist - Tue, 01/31/2023 - 03:30

    New Zealand’s capital remained under a state of emergency Monday after the heaviest rainfall on record flooded the city. This month’s unprecedented dousing, which the prime minister attributed to climate change, has left four people dead and thousands more with damaged homes.

    Hundreds of emergency personnel are converging on Auckland to assist even as forecasts call for another soaking Tuesday. Authorities have evacuated scores of people. “We have more adverse weather coming and we need to prepare for that,” Rachel Kelleher, the Auckland Emergency Management duty controller, said during a press conference, according to Reuters.

    January typically ranks among New Zealand’s drier months. The country’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research says 13 inches of rain has fallen so far this month, an amount usually received during the entire summer. That figure easily eclipsed the 8-inch record for the month set in 1986 and makes it the wettest month since record keeping began in 1909 – surpassing the 11 inches that fell in July of 1998. Another 3 to 5 inches could sop the area in coming days.

    “It’s a 1-in-100-year weather event, and we seem to be getting a lot of them at the moment,” Prime Minister Chris Himpkins said in a news broadcast on TVNZ. “I think people can see that there’s a message in that … Climate change is real, it’s with us. We are going to have to deal with more of these extreme weather events in the future. 

    The flood follows deluges that soaked Canterbury in June and central New Zealand in August of 2021. Those floods, during one of the warmest winters in New Zealand’s recorded history, displaced more than 1,000 people. 

    Rising global average temperatures are associated with the widespread changes in weather patterns, which can intensify extreme weather events. That, in turn, can create a positive feedback loop of more violent storms, more intense heat waves, rising sea levels, and higher temperatures. Studies have shown that such events will likely become more frequent and more extreme with human-induced climate change.

    California, for example, experienced record rainfall as a series of atmospheric rivers dumped more than 17 inches of rain on the state in just three weeks after Christmas. The storms killed at least 19 people  and caused some $30 billion in damage from flooding, landslides, and problems. New Zealand can expect similar challenges. “When you have a significant rainfall event like this, rivers can rise quickly,” meteorologist Luis Fernandes said in a statement to CNN, “and roads can literally fall away or become covered and can cut off communities.” 

    According to research published in May 2022, the seas surrounding New Zealand are expected to rise sooner than previously thought. With the rate of that increase doubling over the past 60 years, the prognosis suggested that while the global sea level is expected to rise more than 19 inches by 2100, New Zealand, which is sinking, could see more than 3 feet of sea level rise. That will bring a  higher risk of coastal storms, erosion, and flooding.

    This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Auckland drenched by New Zealand’s wettest month on record on Jan 31, 2023.

    Categories: H. Green News


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