You are hereEnvironment

Environment


Overseeing Koch Profits: The Roots of David Vitter’s Green Billionaires Club Report

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

A DeSmogBlog investigation reveals that Kristina Moore, the Senate staffer listed as the author of U.S. Sen. David Vitter's (R-La.) "green billionaire's club" report published by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) on July 30, has career roots tracing back to the Koch Brothers' right-wing machine.

Peacenvironmentalism

Remarks at North Carolina Peace Action Event in Raleigh, N.C., August 23, 2014.

Thank you for inviting me, and thank you to North Carolina Peace Action, and to John Heuer whom I consider a tireless selfless and inspired peacemaker himself.  Can we thank John?

It's an honor for me to have a role in honoring the 2014 Student Peacemaker, iMatter Youth North Carolina. I've followed what iMatter has been doing around the country for years, I've sat in on a court case they brought in Washington, D.C., I've shared a stage with them at a public event, I've organized an online petition with them at RootsAction.org, I've written about them and watched them inspire writers like Jeremy Brecher whom I recommend reading.  Here is an organization acting in the interests of all future generations of all species and being led -- and led well -- by human kids.  Can we give them some applause?

But, perhaps revealing the short-sightedness and self-centeredness of myself as a member of a species that didn't evolve to manage a whole planet, I'm especially happy to be recognizing iMatter Youth North Carolina because my own niece Hallie Turner and my nephew Travis Turner are part of it.  They deserve LOTS of applause.

And the full iMatter planning team, I'm told, is represented tonight as well by Zack Kingery, Nora White, and Ari Nicholson. They should have even more applause.

I take complete credit for Hallie and Travis's work, because although I didn't really teach them anything, I did, before they were born, tell my sister she should go to our high school reunion, at which she met the man who became my brother in law.  Without that, no Hallie and no Travis.

However, it was my parents -- who I suppose by the same logic (although in this case I of course reject it) get complete credit for anything I do -- it was they who took Hallie to her first rally, at the White House protesting a tar sands pipeline.  I'm told that Hallie didn't know what it was all about at first or why the good people were being arrested, instead of the people committing the offenses against our loved ones and our earth being arrested. But by the end of the rally Hallie was right in the thick of it, wouldn't leave until the last person had gone off to jail for justice, and she pronounced the occasion the most important day of her life thus far, or words to that effect.

Perhaps, as it turns out, that was an important day, not just for Hallie but also for iMatter Youth North Carolina, and, who knows, just maybe -- like the day Gandhi was thrown off a train, or the day Bayard Rustin talked Martin Luther King Jr. into giving up his guns, or the day a teacher assigned Thomas Clarkson to write an essay on whether slavery was acceptable -- it will eventually turn out to have been an important day for more of us.

I'm a bit ashamed of two things though, despite all my pride. 

One is that we adults leave kids to discover moral action and serious political engagement by accident rather than teaching it to them systematically and universally, as if we don't really think they want meaningful lives, as if we imagine comfortable lives is the complete human ideal.  We are asking kids to lead the way on the environment, because we -- I'm speaking collectively of everyone over 30, the people Bob Dylan said not to trust until he was over 30 -- we are not doing it, and the kids are taking us to court, and our government is allowing its fellow leading destroyers of the environment to become voluntary co-defendants (can you imagine volunteering to be sued along with someone else who's facing a law suit? No, wait, sue me too!), and the voluntary co-defendants, including the National Association of Manufacturers, are providing teams of lawyers that probably cost more than the schools Hallie and Travis attend, and the courts are ruling that it is an individual right of non-human entities called corporations to destroy the inhabitability of the planet for everyone, despite the evident logic that says the corporations will cease to exist as well. 

Should our kids do as we say or as we do?  Neither!  They should run in the opposite direction from anything we've touched.  There are exceptions, of course. Some of us try a little.  But it is an uphill effort to undo the cultural indoctrination that has us saying phrases like "throw this away" as if there really were an away, or labeling the destruction of a forest "economic growth," or worrying about so-called peak oil and how we'll live when the oil runs out, even though we've already found five times what we can safely burn and still be able to live on this beautiful rock. 

But kids are different.  The need to protect the earth and use clean energy even if it means a few inconveniences or even some serious personal risk, is no more unusual or strange to a kid than half the other stuff they are presented with for the first time, like algebra, or swim meets, or uncles.  They haven't spent as many years being told that renewable energy doesn't work.  They haven't developed the fine-tuned sense of patriotism that allows us to keep believing renewable energy cannot work even as we hear about it working in other countries. (That's German physics!)

Our young leaders have fewer years of indoctrination into what Martin Luther King Jr. called extreme materialism, militarism, and racism.  Adults block the way in the courts, so kids take to the streets, they organize and agitate and educate.  And so they must, but they are up against an educational system and an employment system and an entertainment system that often tells them they are powerless, that serious change is impossible, and that the most important thing you can do is vote. 

Now, adults telling each other that the most important thing they can do is vote is bad enough, but saying that to kids who aren't old enough to vote is like telling them to do nothing.  We need a few percent of our population doing the opposite of nothing, living and breathing dedicated activism.  We need creative nonviolent resistance, re-education, redirection of our resources, boycotts, divestments, the creation of sustainable practices as models for others, and the impeding of an established order that is politely and smilingly steering us over a cliff.  Rallies organized by iMatter Youth North Carolina look like moves in the right direction to me.  So, let's thank them again.

The second thing I'm a little ashamed of is that it is not at all uncommon for a peace organization to arrive at an environmental activist when choosing someone to honor, whereas I have never once heard of the reverse. Hallie and Travis have an uncle who works largely on peace, but they live in a culture where the activism that receives funding and attention and mainstream acceptance, to the limited extent that any does and of course trailing far behind 5Ks against breast cancer and the sort of activism that lacks real opponents, is activism for the environment.  But I think there's a problem with what I've just done and what we usually tend to do, that is, with categorizing people as peace activists or environmental activists or clean elections activists or media reform activists or anti-racism activists.  As we came to realize a few years back, we all add up to 99% of the population, but those who are really active are divided, in reality as well as in people's perceptions.

Peace and environmentalism should, I think, be combined into the single word peacenvironmentalism, because neither movement is likely to succeed without the other.  iMatter wants to live as if our future matters.  You can't do that with militarism, with the resources it takes, with the destruction it causes, with the risk that grows greater with each passing day that nuclear weapons will be intentionally or accidentally detonated.  If you could really figure out how to nuke another nation while shooting its missiles out of the sky, which of course nobody has figured out, the impact on the atmosphere and climate would severely impact your own nation as well.  But that's a fantasy.  In a real world scenario, a nuclear weapon is launched on purpose or by mistake, and many more are quickly launched in every direction.  This has in fact nearly happened numerous times, and the fact that we pay almost no attention to it anymore makes it more rather than less likely.  I imagine you know what happened 50 miles southeast of here on January 24, 1961?  That's right, the U.S. military accidentally dropped two nuclear bombs and got very lucky they didn't explode.  Nothing to worry about, says comedy news anchor John Oliver, that's why we have TWO Carolinas.

iMatter advocates for an economic shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy and for sustainable jobs.  If only there were a couple of trillion dollars a year being wasted on something useless or destructive!  And of course there is, worldwide, that unfathomable sum is being spent on preparations for war, half of it by the United States, three quarters of it by the United States and its allies -- and much of that last bit on U.S. weapons.  For a fraction of it, starvation and disease could be seriously dealt with, and so could climate change.  War kills primarily through taking spending away from where it's needed.  For a small fraction of war preparations spending, college could be free here and provided free in some other parts of the world too.  Imagine how many more environmental activists we could have if college graduates didn't owe tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for the human right of an education!  How do you pay that back without going to work for the destroyers of the earth?

79% of weapons in the Middle East come from the United States, not counting those belonging to the U.S. military.  U.S. weapons were on both sides in Libya three years ago and are on both sides in Syria and Iraq.  Weapons making is an unsustainable job if ever I saw one.  It drains the economy.  The same dollars spent on clean energy or infrastructure or education or even tax cuts for non-billionaires produces more jobs than military spending.  Militarism fuels more violence, rather than protecting us.  The weapons have to be used up, destroyed, or given to local police who will begin to see local people as enemies, so that new weapons can be made. And this process is, by some measures, the biggest destroyer of the environment we have.

The U.S. military burned through about 340,000 barrels of oil each day, as measured in 2006. If the Pentagon were a country, it would rank 38th out of 196 in oil consumption. If you removed the Pentagon from the total oil consumption by the United States, then the United States would still rank first with nobody else anywhere close. But you would have spared the atmosphere the burning of more oil than most countries consume, and would have spared the planet all the mischief the U.S. military manages to fuel with it. No other institution in the United States consumes remotely as much oil as the military.

Each year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spends $622 million trying to figure out how to produce power without oil, while the military spends hundreds of billions of dollars burning oil in wars fought and on bases maintained to control the oil supplies. The million dollars spent to keep each soldier in a foreign occupation for a year could create 20 green energy jobs at $50,000 each.

Wars in recent years have rendered large areas uninhabitable and generated tens of millions of refugees. War "rivals infectious disease as a global cause of morbidity and mortality," according to Jennifer Leaning of Harvard Medical School.  Leaning divides war's environmental impact into four areas: "production and testing of nuclear weapons, aerial and naval bombardment of terrain, dispersal and persistence of land mines and buried ordnance, and use or storage of military despoliants, toxins, and waste."  A 1993 U.S. State Department report called land mines "the most toxic and widespread pollution facing mankind." Millions of hectares in Europe, North Africa, and Asia are under interdiction. One-third of the land in Libya conceals land mines and unexploded World War II munitions.

The Soviet and U.S. occupations of Afghanistan have destroyed or damaged thousands of villages and sources of water. The Taliban has illegally traded timber to Pakistan, resulting in significant deforestation. U.S. bombs and refugees in need of firewood have added to the damage. Afghanistan’s forests are almost gone. Most of the migratory birds that used to pass through Afghanistan no longer do so. Its air and water have been poisoned with explosives and rocket propellants.

You may not care about politics, the saying goes, but politics cares about you.  That goes for war.  John Wayne avoided going off to World War II by making movies to glorify other people going.  And do you know what happened to him? He made a movie in Utah near a nuclear testing area.  Of the 220 people who worked on the film, 91, rather than the 30 that would have been the norm, developed cancer including John Wayne, Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorehead, and director Dick Powell.

We need a different direction.  In Connecticut, Peace Action and many other groups have been involved in successfully persuading the state government to set up a commission to work on converting from weapons to peaceful industries.  Labor unions and management support it.  Environmental and peace groups are part of it.  It's very much a work in progress.  It was likely stimulated by false stories that the military was being slashed.  But whether we can make that a reality or not, the environmental need to shift our resources to green energy is going to grow, and there is no reason North Carolina shouldn't be the second state in the country to do this.  You have moral Mondays here. Why not have moral every days of the year?

Major changes look larger before they happen than after.  Environmentalism has come on very quickly.  The U.S. already had nuclear submarines back when whales were still being used as a source of raw materials, lubricants, and fuels, including in nuclear submarines.  Now whales are, almost suddenly, seen as marvelous intelligent creatures to be protected, and the nuclear submarines have begun to look a bit archaic, and the deadly sound pollution that the Navy imposes on the world's oceans looks a bit barbaric.

iMatter's lawsuits seek to protect the public trust for future generations.  The ability to care about future generations is, in terms of the imagination required, almost identical to the ability to care about foreign people at a distance in space rather than time.  If we can think of our community as including those not yet born, who of course we hope far outnumber the rest of us, we can probably think of it as including the 95% of those alive today who don't happen to be in the United States of America, and vice versa.

But even if environmentalism and peace activism were not a single movement, we'd have to join them and several others together in order to have the sort of Occupy 2.0 coalition we need to effect change.  A big chance to do that is coming up around September 21st which is the International Day of Peace and the time when a rally and all sorts of events for the climate will be happening in New York City.

At WorldBeyondWar.org you'll find all sorts of resources for holding your own event for peace and the environment.  You'll also find a short two-sentence statement in favor of ending all war, a statement that has been signed in the past few months by people in 81 nations and rising.  You can sign it on paper here this evening.  We need your help, young and old.  But we should be especially glad that time and numbers are on the side of the young around the world, to whom I say along with Shelley:

Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you-
Ye are many — they are few
.

Video of Agent Orange Workshop at the 29th Annual Convention of Veterans For Peace

Theme: Abolish War on the Planet and the Poor
Hosted by VFP Chapter 099 Western North Carolina on July 23rd -27th 2014
The University of North Carolina at Asheville
all videos by Dan Shea

Dan Shea tells a personal story of how Agent Orange affected his life and took his son Casey and introduces an Agent Orange Facebook Page for other survivors to tell their stories and keep informed https://www.facebook.com/SurvivingAgentOrange But since he was doing the filming no video of his presentation. Dan Shea is a marine  veteran of (Vietnam 1968), Agent Orange survivor, former member of the VFP National Board of Directors and current member of the Core Committee of the the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign. Dan is a poet, visual artist and currently hosts a monthly cable TV program Veterans For Peace Forum. He  is an active member of Portland, Oregon VFP Chapter 72 and keeps a blog at http://dsheavfp72.wordpress.

Paul Cox:  AO Workshop (1) VFP Convention July 2014

Paul Cox giving update overview of our work, legislation & AO hotspots remediation clean up work being done. Paul is a Vietnam veteran and a founder of VFP chapter 69 in San Francisco. He has been working on Agent Orange since 2005 with the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign (VAORRC), a VFP National Campaign. He has been back to Vietnam thrice in recent years to investigate the lingering, disturbing effects of AO on the Vietnamese people and the environment.

Susan Schnall:  AO Workshop (2) VFP Convention July 2014

Susan Schnall served as a Navy nurse during the Vietnam conflict, caring for returning soldiers and marines at Oak Knoll Naval Hospital. She was tried and convicted by a general court martial for anti-war activities in 1969. She been working with the VAORRC for the past several years and has vistied Viet Nam several times. Two years ago she brought a delegation of science/public health professionals to meet with families affected by the U.S. use of Agent Orange/Dioxin during the conflict and to survey the diozin contaminated land and remediation efforts. Susan is vice president of the NYC chapter of VFP.

Chuck Searcy: AO Workshop (3) Community Base Rehabilitation

Chuck Searcy enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1966 & served in the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion in Saigon 1967-1968. He has been living and working in Vietnam since January 1995, currently as International Advisor for Project RENEW, a mine action program in Quang Tri Province to clean up cluster bombs, landmines and other unexploded ordnance remaining along the DMZ.

Q & A Discussion: AO Workshop (4)

Documents: Cheniere Fuels ALEC’s New Push for Fracked Gas Exports

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Today, legislative and lobbyist members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) voted on model legislation promoting both exports of gas obtained via hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") and vehicles powered by compressed natural gas (CNG)

Stop the Wars, Stop the Warming!


Stop the Wars, Stop the Warming!

http://peoplesclimate.org/peace/appeal

We are at a crossroads, faced with a climate crisis that threatens to end our world as we know it.

The signs of climate change are all around us.  They include—increasingly severe weather everywhere (floods, heat waves, droughts, cyclones and wildfires), as well as melting polar ice and glaciers, rising acidic oceans, and thawing of Siberian permafrost, which threatens release of huge, devastating, methane gas emissions.

If we pursue business as usual we face a world of food shortages caused by drought,  increasing disease and deaths, and displacement from vast areas of flooded and uninhabitable terrain. We must do all in our power to stop greenhouse gas emissions, counteract the effects, and prevent the increase of global warming.

Stop the War on Mother EarthBut the developing climate emergency does not exist in isolation. And we must understand and confront the social and economic context that produced and accompanies it: war and unlimited military expenditures, corporate globalization, vast social inequality and racism.

  • The US military is the single greatest institutional producer of greenhouse gases in the world.
  • Wars by their very nature destroy the environment and burn and release massive amounts of greenhouse gases. Recent military mobilizations are pouring huge amounts of new carbon emissions into the atmosphere.
  • The vast expenditures now consumed by military machines are the very resources needed for a crash program to rapidly create a renewable energy infrastructure and put millions of people to work in green jobs.
  • Wars and military buildup are in large part dedicated to controlling the fossil fuel energy sources on which our present model of global economic development and endless growth depend. Resort to armed conflict is increasing as fossil fuels become more expensive and difficult to extract, transport and produce.
  • Nuclear weapons, like climate change, threaten to destroy the world. There are nine nuclear-armed nations and 17,000 nuclear weapons in the world. With ten wars and 34 limited conflicts now occurring, the chance of any one of them escalating to nuclear war and its unthinkable human and environmental impact is an ever-present specter.  The nuclear powers are bound, under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to disarm all nuclear weapons everywhere, but after 44 years, they have not begun comprehensive negotiations.  In the words of President Kennedy, we must “end these weapons of mass destruction, before they end us.”
  • Corporate dominance and extreme social inequality are intrinsic to our expansionist global economic model.
  • The UN Millennium Development Goals in conjunction with other forces have helped lift the poorest billion of humanity out of extreme poverty. The damage now coming as a result of climate change threatens to erase that progress.
  • The people most affected by climate change are those with the fewest resources to deal with it.  With increasing environmental destruction, droughts, floods, and famine, there will be massive displacement of impoverished and desperate people leading to forced migration and regional hostilities.  Within the U.S., the people most affected include those in prison or nursing homes and others who lack resources to leave their homes or institutions in storms like Katrina and Sandy.
  • Two examples of long-term-drought-induced Climate Wars are the tragedies in Somalia and Syria. In the latter case, a five-year drought was one of the contributors to an ongoing civil war.  Somalia has been at war for twenty years, and that conflict has also embroiled neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia.
  • Rather than taking emergency measures to address climate change and the needs of those impacted now, our military is preparing to control these displacements to protect “US interests”.

We who have opposed the toxic, polluting, life- and earth-destroying wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the existential threat of nuclear weapons are in total support of the People’s Climate March and its vision of a world without fossil fuels and the fires of war. We will march, we will demand divestment and fight denial, we will battle the pollution of Big Money, and we will join in demanding that the Obama administration step forward to achieve a 2015 global treaty to phase out greenhouse gas emissions.

We call on all who want to preserve our planet to form a Stop the Wars, Stop the Warming Contingent on September 21.  We organize under the following principles:

  • We can’t effectively address climate change without ending war and militarism;
  • We can’t end war without ending the fossil fuel energy system;
  • We can’t address social injustice unless we stop using war to safeguard an economic infrastructure (based on fossil fuels) that produces and requires vast social inequality.
  • We can’t end war unless we address the systemic inequality and corporate domination that requires it.
  • We must insist that the transition to a sustainable economy and green jobs not be accomplished at the expense of those now employed in the fossil fuel and military sectors and the communities in which they work and live.  Energy and armament corporations should bear the lion’s share of the social cost to make that transition a just one.

We call on our government

  • To undertake an emergency program to make all our cities energy efficient and to create a new energy grid based on renewable energy sources.
  • To end federal subsidies for the fossil fuel industries—coal, gas, oil and industrial biomass
  • THOUSANDS OF PROTESTORS GATHER IN LONDON'S HYDE PARK TO DEMONSTRATEAGAINST POSSIBLE MILITARY STRIKE ON IRAQ.To end the 2005 “Cheney exemption” to the Clean Water Act for gas hydraulic fracking, which threatens clean water supplies to our people in some 23 states. Strictly enforce the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts of 1970, in all energy production.
  • To stop building new fossil fuel infrastructure, including the Keystone pipeline project, and to rapidly end fracking projects and the awarding of any new offshore drilling contracts.
  • To build a carbon-free, nuclear-free energy future and end subsidies for nuclear power. Nuclear power is not a green alternative energy, results in large amounts of radioactive nuclear waste, and contributes to the global proliferation of nuclear weapons.
  • To implement a financial transaction tax to fund the new solar, wind, hydro, and efficiency programs we need globally and to help clean up the toxic mess of fossil and nuclear destruction.
  • To join with all nuclear powers to abide by their treaty commitments and to move quickly toward mutual abolition of all nuclear weapons as required by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
  • To re-direct military spending to the creation of millions of green jobs and to research and develop a rapid but just transition from fossil fuels to non-polluting energy sources.
  • To stop the military protection of fossil fuel interests in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world.
  • To bring all our troops home now from Afghanistan and Iraq, reject military attacks in Iraq, Syria and Iran, and use the billions saved to invest in energy efficient mass transit, schools, affordable housing and sustainable union-standard jobs.
  • To redefine the mission of U.S. military forces as defense of the United States instead of achieving “Full Spectrum Dominance” in the service of global corporations, the fossil fuel industry, and the military industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned against, thereby also allowing closure of most of our 1,000 or more foreign military bases.
  • To stop blocking the proposals for effective international action on climate change being put forward by the Group of 77 and other developing countries, starting at the UN on September 23, 2014.  All countries must do something, but the countries which are most responsible for carbon emissions have the larger responsibility to commit resources, resulting in an 85% cut in greenhouse gases by 2050.   The wealthier developed countries should provide $100 billion to an international fund for green industrial development in less developed countries.

We can’t afford the greenhouse gas emissions arising from the way we live and from war and preparation for war. And we can’t afford the climate of mistrust and non-cooperation that military threats and intervention foster.

To successfully avert worst-case climate disaster we will need international agreements and cooperation on a scale not seen in the past; we need new approaches in order to demilitarize US foreign policy and humanize domestic policy.

We believe that most Americans will welcome these positive changes. Working together, peace, climate and social justice activists can help make this happen.

We see September 21st as the coming together of the peace, climate and social justice movements and the beginning of a groundswell of public involvement in the creation of a more peaceful, sustainable and just world.

Ed Aguilar, Coalition for Peace Action
Rosalie Anders, Massachusetts Peace Action & 350 Massachusetts
Jim Barton, North Carolina Peace Action
Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies
Leslie Cagan, People’s Climate March
Michael Eisenscher, U.S. Labor Against the War
Julie Enslow, Wisconsin Peace Action
Joseph Gerson, American Friends Service Committee
Cole Harrison, Massachusetts Peace Action
Tom Hayden, Peace and Justice Resource Center
Patricia Hynes, Traprock Center for Peace & Justice
Rosemary Kean, Dorchester People for Peace
Judith LeBlanc, Peace Action
Duncan McFarland, United for Justice with Peace (Greater Boston)
Siri Margerin, UnIted for Peace and Justice & Civilian Soldier Alliance
Marty Nathan, Climate Action NOW!
Paul Shannon, American Friends Service Committee
Alice Slater, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
David Swanson, World Beyond War
Susan Theberge, Climate Action NOW!

(organizations for identification only)

The "War on the Environment" Turns Out to Actually Be War


War and preparations for war are -- although you'll never hear it from well-funded environmental groups -- huge causes of environmental destruction (not to mention wasters of resources that could be used for environmental protection beyond our wildest dreams).  That case is made at http://worldbeyondwar.org/environment

Embedded below is a great new summary by Pat Hynes of what we know on this matter, including this interesting tidbit:

"The projected full costs of the Iraq War (estimated $3 trillion) would cover 'all of the global investments in renewable power generation' needed between now and 2030 to reverse global warming trends."

Of course war preparations are far more costly than wars.  The United States spends about $1 trillion per year, and the rest of the world combined another $1 trillion.  The world could halt military spending for a year and a half and instead fund the actual defense of the world against the actual danger of global warming. 
 

The “Invisible Casualty of War”: The Environmental Destruction of U.S. Militarism

Join Our Contingent at the People's Climate March! 9/21/2014

Save the Date!  Join Our Contingent at the People’s Climate March.  Sunday, September 21, 2014 in NYC

Stop the Crimes Against Our Planet! Humanity and the Planet Must Come First! The World Can't Wait!

Greenpeace Report: Obama Exporting Climate Change by Exporting Coal

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Greenpeace USA has released a major new report on an under-discussed part of President Barack Obama's Climate Action Plan and his U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carbon rule: it serves as a major endorsement of continued coal production and export to overseas markets.

Not Just the Atlantic: Obama Leasing Millions of Gulf Acres for Offshore Drilling

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Deploying the age-old "Friday news dump," President Barack Obama's Interior Department gave the green light on Friday, July 18 to companies to deploy seismic air guns to examine the scope of Atlantic Coast offshore oil-and-gas reserves.

The Toxic Footprint of Syria’s War

By Pieter Both and Wim Zwijnenburg

Syria’s ongoing civil war has already resulted in more than conservative estimates of 120,000 mortalities (including nearly 15,000 children) and has brought enormous destruction in cities and towns all over the country. Apart from the direct impact of the violent conflict on the lives of Syrian citizens, health and environmental impacts are emerging as serious problems that deserve immediate and long-term attention.

The Syrian civil war is leaving behind a toxic footprint both directly and indirectly resulting from military contamination from all sides. Heavy metals in munitions, toxic residues from artillery and other bombs, the destruction of buildings and water resources, the targeting of industrial zones and the looting of chemical facilities all contribute to long-term negative impacts for communities suffering in war. The scale of military activity in Syria over the past three years suggests that contaminants and indirect pollution will have a long-term toxic legacy for the environment and can contribute to widespread public health problems for years to come. Amid prolonged violence, it is too early to assess the full scope of hazards to human and environmental health across Syria formed by toxic or radiological substances that result from munitions and military activities. However, an early mapping as part of a new study on Syria by Dutch, peace-oriented non-governmental organization PAX reveals a range of problems in certain areas.

The intense use of large caliber weapons in the prolonged siege of cities such as Homs and Aleppo has dispersed a variety of munitions with known toxic substances such as heavy metals, explosive residues from artillery, mortars and home-made weapons containing known carcinogenic materials such as TNT, as well as toxic rocket propellants from a range of missiles launched by both the Syrian army and opposition forces.

The best known examples, the so-called “barrel bombs,” contain hundreds of kilograms of toxic, energetic materials, which often don’t explode and could result in local contamination if not properly cleaned-up. Similarly, the improvised manufacturing of munitions in rebel-held areas involves the handling of a range of toxic chemical mixes, which requires professional expertise and safe working environments mostly absent in the DIY weapons workshops of the Free Syrian Army. The involvement of children in collecting scrap materials and in production processes poses significant health hazards. Add to this the risk of exposure to pulverized building materials, which may contain asbestos and other pollutants. Toxic dust particles can be inhaled or ingested as they often end up inside homes, in water resources and on vegetables. In areas such as the destroyed Old City of Homs, where displaced civilians have begun to return, building rubble and toxic dust from explosives is widespread, exposing the local community and aid workers to potential health hazards. Furthermore, the absence of waste management in violence-stricken urban areas prevents communities from ridding their neighborhoods of toxic substances that could have a serious impact on their long-term well being.

At the same time, an environmental and public health catastrophe is visibly in the making in Syria’s oil-producing regions, where an illegal oil industry is now booming, resulting in unskilled rebels and civilians working with hazardous materials. Primitive extraction and refining processes by local factions in rebel-held areas are causing the spread of toxic gasses, water and soil pollution in local communities. Through the smoke and dust that is spread by the unregulated, unclean extraction and refining operations, and leakages that pollute the scarce groundwater in what is traditionally a region of agriculture, the crude refineries’ pollution is spreading to surrounding desert villages. Already, reports from local activists warn of oil-related diseases spreading in Deir ez-Zour. According to a local doctor, “common ailments include persistent coughs and chemical burns that have the potential to lead to tumors.” For the foreseeable future, civilians in the region affected by these problems face serious risks of exposure to toxic gasses while vast areas may be becoming unsuitable for agriculture.

Still unclear in this early stage of our research are the potential humanitarian and environmental consequences of the targeting of industrial and military sites and stockpiles. The Sheikh Najjar industrial city, home to thousands of Internally Displaced Persons from nearby Aleppo, has seen heavy fighting between government and rebel forces. The risk of civilian exposure to stored toxic substances in such an area is a cause of concern, be it by the targeting of on-site facilities or by refugees being forced to stay in a hazardous environment. 

The impact of violent conflict on health and the environment urgently deserves a more prominent role in assessing the long-term consequences of wars, both from a military perspective regarding the toxic footprint of certain conventional weapons and from a post-conflict assessment point of view, which should include more awareness on securing and monitoring of health and the environment.

Pieter Both works as a researcher for Dutch non-governmental organization PAX on toxic remnants of war in Syria and holds an M.A. in Conflict Studies and Human Rights. Wim Zwijnenburg works as Program Leader of Security & Disarmament for PAX. Article written for Insight on Conflictand distributed by PeaceVoice.

Dairyland to Petrostate: Wisconsin Oil-By-Rail Routes Published for First Time

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog 

DeSmogBlog is publishing the first documents ever obtained from the Wisconsin government revealing routes for oil-by-rail trains in the state carrying oil obtained via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in the Bakken Shale basin.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Imperialist Wars & Global Ecological Degradation

A World Can't Wait Panel at the Left Forum, June 1, 2014  With 1100+ bases, the US military is the single largest user of fossil fuels in this century, while at the same time it fights wars and engages in occupations both to ensure strategic access to those resources and deny rivals control. In its military operations, it uses weapons of mass destruction, such as Agent Orange (in Vietnam) and depleted uranium (in the former Yugoslavia and in Iraq) which cause horrendous suffering including cancer and birth defects and remain over time as potent environmental toxins. The ecological effects of war, such as the burning of oil fields and the destruction of large urban constructions, spreads poisonous fumes and dust, with devestating effects on land, humans, flora and fauna.

Meme with Wings: Are Western Anti-Fracking Activists Funded by Putin's Russia?

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

At a June 19 speaking event at London's Chatham House, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen claimed the Russian government is covertly working to discredit hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") in the west from afar.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Talk Nation Radio: Ted Glick: We Must Block Exports of Fracked Gas

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-ted-glick-we-must-block-exports-of-fracked-gas

On July 13th a rally in Washington D.C. will seek to prevent the opening of a first U.S. facility to export gas from fracking.  See http://StopGasExports.org  We speak with one of the organizers of the rally, Ted Glick.

Ted Glick has devoted 46 years of his life to the progressive social change movement. He was active in the peace movement against the Vietnam war, was a founder and national coordinator of the National Campaign to Impeach Nixon and has been actively involved in progressive coalition-building and independent politics efforts since 1975. Since 2003 he has played a leadership role in the effort to stabilize our climate and for a clean energy revolution. He was a founder in early 2004 of the Climate Crisis Coalition, and he is currently  the National Campaign Coordinator of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. For three and a half months in the fall of 2007 he ate no solid food as part of a climate emergency fast focused on getting Congress to pass strong climate legislation. Over the course of his activist career, he has been arrested 17 times for acts of nonviolent civil disobedience, including five times between October, 2006 and  May 2010 on climate issues. Since 2000, he has been writing Future Hope, a nationally-circulated column of political and social commentary , accessible at http://tedglick.com

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio

Exclusive: North Dakota Oil-By-Rail Routes Published for First Time

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

For the first time, DeSmogBlog has published dozens of documents obtained from the North Dakota government revealing routes and chemical composition data for oil-by-rail trains in the state carrying oil obtained via hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") in the Bakken Shale.

Recent Federal Court Decision Could Muddy Waters for Keystone XL South, Flanagan South

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

On June 6, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit handed down a ruling that will serve as important precedent for the ongoing federal legal battles over the Keystone XL and Flanagan South tar sands pipelines.

Heather Zichal, Former Obama Energy Aide, Named to Board of Fracked Gas Exports Giant Cheniere

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Heather Zichal, former Obama White House Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, may soon walk out of the government-industry revolving door to become a member of the board of directors for fracked gas exports giant Cheniere, who nominated her to serve on the board. 

Silent Coup: How Enbridge is Quietly Cloning the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

While the debate over the TransCanada Keystone XL tar sands pipeline has raged on for over half a decade, pipeline giant Enbridge has quietly cloned its own Keystone XL in the U.S and Canada. 

It comes in the form of the combination of Enbridge's Alberta Clipper (Line 67), Flanagan South and Seaway Twin pipelines.

Meeting Logs: Obama Quietly Coddling Big Oil on “Bomb Trains” Regulations

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

When Richard Revesz, Dean Emeritus of New York University Law School, introduced Howard Shelanski at his only public appearance so far during his tenure as Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), Revesz described Shelanski as, “from our perspective, close to the most important official in the federal government.”

Support WarIsACrime



Donate.








Tweet your Congress critters here.


Advertise on this site!




Facebook      Twitter





Our Stores:























Movie Memorabilia.



The log-in box below is only for bloggers. Nobody else will be able to log in because we have not figured out how to stop voluminous spam ruining the site. If you would like us to have the resources to figure that out please donate. If you would like to receive occasional emails please sign up. If you would like to be a blogger here please send your resume.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.