And yet the fossil fuel industry, big banks, and far too many politicians—most but not all of them Republicans—erect obstacles to taking action designed to mitigate or prevent at least some of the more harmful climate impacts already happening and that scientists say are soon headed our way. One consequence we learned this week is that the U.S. is on track to make it only halfway towards 2030 Paris Agreement targets. Of course, it’s not just the U.S. that’s falling short. Here, in graphic form, is what the synthesis report found to be our planet’s current emissions trajectory versus where we need to be:
We need to be headed into the blue on that chart, at worst into the green, and … we’re not. For example, even as they expand renewables and promote a new generation of nuclear power plants, the U.S. and China, the world’s two largest emitters, are still approving new fossil fuel projects. What would that rise of 3.2 degrees C (5.8 F) shown in the chart mean? This video shows it would not be pretty.
Greenpeace Nordic Senior Policy Adviser Kaisa Kosonen said in a statement to EcoWatch, “The threats are huge, but so are the opportunities for change. This is our moment to rise up, scale up and be bold. Governments must stop doing just a little better and start doing enough. Thanks to brave scientists, communities and progressive leaders around the world, who’ve persistently advanced climate solutions like solar and wind energy for years and decades, we now have everything needed to solve this mess. It’s time to up our game, deliver on climate justice and push fossil fuel interests out of the way. There’s a role for everyone to play.”
Over the next five to seven years, hundreds of scientists will put together the IPCC’s Seventh Assessment Report. Will the scientists who write it be able to say in their synthesis that we Earthlings finally got the message in 2023 and initiated the recommended actions? Will we have mustered the political will to defeat the foes of accelerating the changes needed to effectively address the climate crisis? Or will we let the fossil fools and foot-draggers continue taking us down the path of destruction? If we’re going to pull this off, it means, as Guterres said: everything, everywhere, all at once.
WEEKLY GREEN video
RESOURCES & ACTION
A liquid biofuels primer: Carbon-cutting hopes vs. real-world impacts. By Sean Mowbray at Mongabay. “Advocates say biofuels are particularly useful for reducing emissions from “hard-to-decarbonize” sectors, such as aviation. Three generations of biofuel sources—corn, soy, palm oil, organic waste, grasses and other perennial cellulose crops, algae, and more — have been funded, researched, and tested as avenues to viable low-carbon liquid fuels. But technological and upscaling challenges have repeatedly frustrated their widespread use. Producing biofuels can do major environmental harm, including deforestation and biodiversity loss due to needed cropland expansion, with biofuel crops sometimes displacing important food crops, say critics. In some instances, land-use change for biofuels can add to carbon emissions rather than curbing them. Some experts suggest that the holy grail of an efficient biofuel is still obtainable, with much to be learned from past experiments. Others say we would be better off abandoning this techno fix, investing instead in electrifying the transportation grid to save energy, and rewilding former biofuel croplands to store more carbon.”
Six tips for how to talk to your kids about climate change. “1. Break the silence: For a growing number of families all over the world, there's no avoiding it: Climate change is already at their front door. Others, who are privileged enough to have evaded the direct impacts so far, seem to be struggling to deal with the constant barrage of anxiety-provoking news about the environment. And one of the biggest barriers among that group is emotional. Mary DeMocker, an activist and artist in Eugene, Ore., is the author of The Parents' Guide To Climate Revolution, a book focusing on simple actions families can take both personally and collectively. ‘The emotional aspect is actually, I think, one of the biggest aspects of climate work right now,’ she says.”
The Indians must conform to the "white man’s ways" peaceably if they will, forcibly if they must. They must adjust themselves to their environment, and conform their mode of living substantially to our civilization. This civilization may not be the best possible but it is the best the Indians can get.—Bureau of Indian Affairs Report, 1889.
The Dakota Gold Corporation, which went public just a year ago next month, has acquired 43,000 acres of the northern Black Hills. It plans to drill 345 holes exploring for gold. It’s scarcely alone. There is, in fact, a new gold rush in the Black Hills, sacred land to the Lakota, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and other tribes. Other proposed projects have run into significant opposition, both from environmentalists and Lakota (also known as the Teton Sioux). Despite the outcry about one of them, the U.S. Forest Service says the project will go forward anyway.
Jerry Aberle, chief of Dakota Gold’s operations, told reporter Keith Grant, “One of the things that we are working toward is repurposing already disturbed mining ground and that being ground that was owned by Homestake Mining Company and mined by Homestake Mining Company in the past. ... We have an environmental policy, and we have environmental audits, and we have environmental inspections, and it’s integral to what we’re doing and we’re doing it over a long term, and it’s not just to be green, it’s because that makes sense, especially in underground environments, to go to electric vehicles that are cleaner.”
Aberle added, “The Indigenous people are local people also and we need to be very sensitive to that. We know that in many ways we’re in conflict with what people think and we’re trying to deal with that in the best way that we can.”
Way to understate.
When 1,000 soldiers under Lt. Col. George A. Custer confirmed the presence of gold in the Black Hills in 1874, a deluge of miners staked claims on reservation land, which led to repeated clashes. Those conflicts and the refusal of thousands of Lakota to keep to the reservation ended in the Battle of the Greasy Grass (Little Big Horn) in June 1876, a Pyrrhic victory for the Lakota and their Cheyenne allies. Just four months after Custer and his men met their end in Medicine Tail Coulee, Washington, D.C., imposed the Treaty with the Sioux Nation of 1876. Under the provisions of the previous 1868 treaty, terms could only be changed with approval of three-fourths of Lakota adult men. Nowhere near that number signed in 1876. But the treaty was imposed anyway, stripping away a 50-mile-wide swath of land in what is now western South Dakota, including the Black Hills.
Preparing for statehood, white Dakotans lobbied Washington to cut up what was left of the Great Sioux Reservation into seven smaller reservations while grabbing 9 million acres and opening land to homesteaders. In 1888, a federal commission sought to collect signatures from three-fourths of Lakota adult males. They were unsuccessful. The next year, they stepped up the pressure, but still the Lakota refused to assent. Spokesmen John Grass, Gall, and Mad Bear opposed it, and though not chosen by his people to speak, Sitting Bull did speak and urged everyone not to be intimidated into signing away the land. But enough signatures were obtained and, in 1889, Congress passed the Sioux Bill, opening the reservation to non-Indians and making acreage allotments to individual Indians with the intent of breaking up tribal land held in common and ending reservations and tribal identity entirely.
Nonviolent resistance continued after the law took effect in February 1890. Consequently, Sitting Bull was murdered during an arrest in mid-December and the infamous massacre at Wounded Knee came two weeks later. After that, armed resistance ended. More land was taken in 1910. Many non-Lakota homesteads were abandoned in the 1930s, but instead of restoring these lands to the tribes, Washington turned them over to the National Park Service (NPS) and the Bureau of Land Management. Even more land was taken for the Badlands Bombing Range during World War II. When the Air Force declared it was unneeded in the 1960s, it was transferred to the NPS instead of being returned to communal tribal ownership.
The U.S. Supreme Court confirmed a lower court ruling in 1980 (after 40 years of litigation) that the Black Hills had been unlawfully taken and the seven tribes of Lakota should be compensated to the tune of $107 million. But all the tribes refused this, fearing that if they took the money, they would forever lose any rights to the land that was guaranteed to them in perpetuity before Custer and his expedition discovered gold. Even though that money, in escrow, has now swollen to more than $1.5 billion, the tribes have continued to refuse it, saying, as they long have, that the “sacred Black Hills” are not for sale.
They continue to struggle to gain some say over the modern uses of those ancestral lands ripped away from them at gunpoint. And still it is they who are being told, just as they were in 1889, that it is they who must “adjust” and “conform.”
The world’s oceans, covering 70% of the Earth’s surface, are deeply troubled, much of this tied directly or indirectly to climate change. Overfishing is depleting key species; biodiverse coral reefs are bleaching and dying; and pollution from shipping, industry, and agriculture has created dead zones. Absorption of carbon dioxide has led to ocean heatwaves and acidification (referred to in some quarters as “climate change’s evil twin”), which is making life difficult for species like oysters, sea scallops, clams, lobsters, shrimp, and others as chemical reactions eat away at the minerals these creatures use to build their shells and exoskeletons. The ocean absorbs around 25% of global CO2 emissions. That amounts to about 10 billion metric tons a year.
To address these and other ocean-related matters, the Biden administration released its 105-page Ocean Climate Action Plan (OCAP) Tuesday. Put together by the Ocean Policy Committee—which includes representatives from nearly every executive branch, including the military—the OCAP is a dense policy document covering a range of issues from acidification, research into sea bed sequestration of carbon dioxide, and green shipping to fisheries, offshore wind farms, coastal resilience, and marine protected areas.
Proposed actions are based on three broad goals: creating a carbon-neutral future, accelerating nature-based solutions, and enhancing community resilience to ocean change:
A Carbon-Neutral Future—where CO2 emissions ... and other GHG emissions are reduced sharply and any remaining GHG emissions are offset by the rate at which CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and stored—could be supported through several ocean-based actions, such as advancing offshore wind and clean marine energy, accelerating green maritime shipping to further reduce pollution, and investigating ways to sequester more carbon in the ocean environment.
Nature-Based Solutions in the ocean and coastal environment can also help reduce potential greenhouse gas emissions and store carbon, limiting further climate change, and help adapt to the changing environment. The OCAP highlights two types of nature-based solutions: “blue carbon” (restoring and protecting coastal and marine environments that naturally store carbon) and climate- adaptive marine protected areas. While the Biden-Harris Administration has made it clear that the future requires a phase-out of fossil fuels, it is also committed to the successful implementation of the IRA, which includes Congressionally-mandated offshore oil and gas leasing requirements. ...
Community Resilience includes actions that develop climate-ready fisheries and aquaculture, aid protected species, bolster coastal communities by building resilience to the negative impacts of climate change, and support a robust and sustainable ocean economy.
Jean Flemma, director of Ocean Defense Initiative, told Bob Berwyn at Inside Climate News, “This Ocean Climate Action Plan is the first comprehensive approach that the U.S. has taken to leveraging the power of the ocean in the fight against climate change.” But she warned, “Still, a plan is only as strong as its implementation. We look forward to working with the Biden Administration to ensure strong ocean climate action policies are adopted across federal agencies and help the communities that need it most.”
Berwyn notes that critics can be expected to look closely at the plan’s recommendation for studying how fertilizing ocean areas with minerals could promote the growth of organisms that capture CO2 through photosynthesis. “Stimulating plankton growth at a scale that would benefit the climate could disrupt natural cycles that are critical for fish, birds and marine mammals,” he writes.
“Every day I complain, protest, and object, but it takes such vigilance and activism to keep legislators on their toes and government accountable to the people on environmental issues.”—Hazel Johnson, a longtime activist for protecting communities of color from environmental racism
Our Nation Must Enlist Youth on Mass Scale to Battle Climate Emergency. By Seth Klein at Common Dreams. “The point ought not to be the creation of another new non-profit program. That's too small. Meeting the climate emergency requires something much grander. I've written previously about the need for a national and audacious Youth Climate Corps. The Canadian Climate Emergency Unit (CEU) and a coalition of partner organizations are now ramping up the call for such a program. You can see the campaign's inspiring new video here. Some say young people should be protected from ‘fear-mongering’ about the climate, so as not to risk their mental health. But young people are plenty aware, and they can smell phony and trite messages a mile away. Far better to honor them with the truth. And the truth is—we do not yet have the situation in hand.”
Q&A: The Diné worldviews in the SCOTUS water rights case Arizona v. Navajo Nation. By Anna V. Smith at High Country News. “On March 20, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments for Arizona v. Navajo Nation, in which the Navajo Nation argues that the U.S. has a treaty-based duty to plan for and protect its water interests. The justices’ decision—due this summer—is likely to have far-reaching implications, whether it’s a narrow ruling that applies solely to the Navajo Nation or a much broader one that could affect tribal water rights across the U.S. Given the case’s significance, tribal nations, water organizations and nonprofits—as well as one anti-Indigenous group—have filed almost a dozen amici, or ‘friend of the court,’ briefs to assist the justices in their deliberations. One of the briefs, filed on behalf of the Diné Hataałii Association, an organization of over 200 medicine men and women from all five regions of the Navajo Nation, focuses on a core tenet of federal Indian law: that treaties must be interpreted as tribal signatures would have understood them at the time of signing. Using that lens, bolstered by interviews with elders of the Diné Hataałii, attorneys Derrick Beetso (Diné) at Arizona State University and Patty Ferguson Bohnee, a tribal member of the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe and director of ASU’s Indian Legal Clinic, created a brief that’s firmly grounded in Diné bi beehaz’áanii, or traditional Diné worldviews and Navajo law. The brief captures and amplifies a unique legal perspective, which weaves together the concepts of Diné hózhǫ́ (harmony), nahat’a (planning) and nitsáhákees (thinking)—each more complicated than its English language equivalent would suggest.”
Sámi rights must not be sacrificed for green energy goals of Europe. By Karin Nutti Pilflykt.at Mongabay. “Last week, the European Commission released the Critical Raw Materials Act for minerals used in renewable energy and digital technologies. It mandates that EU countries should be extracting ‘enough ores, minerals and concentrates to produce at least 10% of their strategic raw materials by 2030,’ and part of that looks likely to come from mines on Indigenous Sámi land. Mines already sited there have caused pollution, devastated ecosystems, poisoned reindeer forage, and taken away reindeer grazing areas. ‘We are Europe’s only Indigenous people, but colonialism means our territory, Sápmi, is split across four countries: Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Russia. But across these national borders, the same pressures bear down on us, from mining to forestry and wind farms.’”
Who Is Biden Trying to Please With His Middle-Ground Energy Policy? By Kate Aronoff at The New Republic. “At a confab for oil and gas executives last week, Cabinet members raised the possibility that fossil fuel CEOs could be ‘visionary leaders’ in the fight against climate change. Days later, the Biden administration handed the industry a giant bone: approving ConocoPhillips’s $8 billion Willow project in Alaska. At the same time, it announced it would close off an additional 16 million acres there to new drilling. No one seems especially happy about the White House’s tightrope walk on climate and energy. So who is the show for? Climate activists, for their part, seem universally outraged about the president’s decision on Willow, a disavowal of his campaign trail pledge of ‘no more drilling on federal lands, period, period, period.’ But while the decision has angered environmentalists, it hasn’t won over their enemies either. Oil and gas executives are breathing a sigh of relief now that Democrats won’t pass bills that constrain their business model for the foreseeable future. They might even have a landmark Supreme Court ruling to look forward to in the not-too-distant future that dismantles agencies’ ability to do things like regulate carbon emissions by going after climate-related financial rules. None of that, however, has produced the sort of goodwill toward Democrats that might make oil execs cease funding Republican politicians, trade associations, and think tanks that are steadfastly committed to making sure that Democrats never govern again.”
The doomers are wrong about humanity’s future — and its past. By Bryan Walsh at Vox. “The biggest danger we face today, if we care about actually making the future a more perfect place, isn’t that industrial civilization will choke on its own exhaust or that democracy will crumble or that AI will rise up and overthrow us all. It’s that we will cease believing in the one force that raised humanity out of tens of thousands of years of general misery: the very idea of progress. Progress may be about where we’re going, but it’s impossible to understand without returning to where we’ve been. So let’s take a trip back to the foreign country that was the early years of the 19th century.”
HALF A DOZEN OTHER THINGS TO READ (OR LISTEN TO)
Biden designates two new national monuments: “It’s a big deal.” By Robin Bravender at E&E News. “As he designated two new national monuments Tuesday, President Joe Biden touted other new measures to conserve U.S. lands and waters. ‘Our natural wonders are literally the envy of the world,’ he said. ‘They’ve always been, and they always will be. They’re central to our heritage as a people, and they’re central to our identity as a nation.’ Designated under the still controversial Antiquities Act of 1906 are the Avi Kwa Ame National Monument in southern Nevada and the Castner Range National Monument in West Texas. ‘I want you to know it’s a big deal,’ Biden said of the Avi Kwa Me monument (pronounced Ah-VEE kwa-meh). ‘I just know it as Spirit Mountain in Nevada,’ the president said. ‘It’s one of our most beautiful landscapes. It ties together one of the largest continuous wildlife corridors in the United States.’ It’s a site of ‘sacred lands that are central to the creation story of so many tribes who have been here since time immemorial.’ Nevada lawmakers in the crowd to celebrate Biden’s announcement included Democratic Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen, and Rep. Dina Titus. Of the Castner Range National Monument, Biden said, ‘It tells the story of the tribal nations who live there and the members of our armed forces who trained in those lands. It’s also a place of incredible beauty.’ The administration also announced that it is considering a new sanctuary designation to protect all U.S. waters around the Pacific Remote Islands. Such a move would ensure that the administration meets its goal of conserving at least 30% of ocean waters under U.S. jurisdiction by 2030, according to the White House.”
Fellow Dems Say Willow Approval Leaves 'Oil Stain' on Biden Climate Legacy. By Jessica Corbett at Common Dreams. “Progressives on Capitol Hill joined climate advocates and Indigenous leaders across the country Monday in blasting U.S. President Joe Biden for his administration's approval of ConocoPhillips' Willow oil project on federal land in Alaska. ‘The Biden administration has committed to fighting climate change and advancing environmental justice—today's decision to approve the Willow project fails to live up to those promises,’ declared U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) along with a trio of House Natural Resources Committee leaders, Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and Jared Huffman (D-Calif.). The four Democrats argued that ‘their decision ignores the voices of the people of Nuiqsut, our frontline communities, and the irrefutable science that says we must stop building projects like this to slow the ever more devastating impacts of climate change.’” Daily Kos coverage can be seen at As expected, Biden administration okays Willow oil and gas 'carbon bomb' in Alaska and Biden approves an end-game carbon bomb and The Anger Over Willow's Approval is About the Attitude, not the Numbers.
See also: Conservation groups sue to stop the Willow Oil Project in Alaska’s Western Arctic; The Alaska Oil Project Will Be Obsolete Before It’s Finished; and Three reasons the Willow Arctic oil drilling project was approved
The IPCC’s Latest Climate Report Is a Final Alarm for Food Systems, Too. By Lisa Held at Civil Eats. “’Rapid and far-reaching transitions’ are required in every sector, the report’s authors concluded, including food and agriculture. To ‘secure a livable and sustainable future for all,’ those changes must happen within the current decade. ‘Food systems around the world are being pounded by the climate crisis now. Every fraction of a degree of warming raises the risk of food shortages and multiple crop failures,’ said Million Belay, a food systems expert with the international nonprofit IPES-Food, in reaction to the report’s publication. ‘Transforming food systems is now an urgent priority and a massive opportunity.’ The panel confirmed what many have been saying and experiencing: Climate change is making it harder for farmers to produce food, and those challenges will likely get worse due to declining crop and fishery productivity as well as losses from droughts and flooding. Attention to the connection between food and climate has increased since last year. Debate over global solutions proposed at COP27 in November was heated and will continue as the Biden administration prepares to host the first AIM for Climate Summit in May. Projects funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recent Climate-Smart Commodities initiative are just getting started. And some farmers and advocates are pushing policymakers to prioritize climate initiatives as they prepare to draft the 2023 Farm Bill.”
Monarch Butterfly Numbers Plunge 22% in Annual Count. “During the second half of December 2022, 11 colonies of monarch butterflies—three in the state of Michoacán and eight in the state of Mexico—were found to occupy a total of 2.21 hectares (ha) of forest (5.5 acres). This marks a 22% decrease in the area recorded in 2021. Six colonies were located inside of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve (MBBR), and five were located outside of it. In Atlautla, east of the state of Mexico, a colony occupied a tiny slice of forest. Additionally, two sites outside of the Monarch Region were reported to have isolated groups of butterflies present. However, they did not form colonies. The monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) that overwinter in Mexico migrate from the Great Lakes region in Canada and the U.S. Their overwintering forests are located on the border of Michoacán and the state of Mexico, and their main threats are: 1) the decline of milkweed at U.S. reproduction sites due to the use of herbicides; 2) land-use change in the U.S. and Canada, and forest degradation in Mexico; and 3) climate change.”
The political economy of reforming costly agricultural policies. By Danielle Resnick, Rob Vos, and Will Martin at the Brookings Institute. “Agricultural support policies provide more than $800 billion annually in transfers worldwide. Such policies encompass a broad range of government instruments to support the agriculture sector, which are typically funded by taxpayers and consumers. These include ‘coupled’ subsidies intended to incentivize producers to expand output, ‘decoupled subsidies’ that avoid shifting production incentives, and market-price support measures such as tariff and non-tariff barriers. Many of these policies have facilitated hunger and poverty reduction, but they also have fostered agricultural production systems that threaten environmental sustainability through increased greenhouse gas emission and land use expansion. In addition, by lowering the cost of cereals, they have biased consumption patterns towards calorie-rich and micronutrient-poor diets. Analysis based on global modeling suggests that if governments repurposed a portion of their agricultural support as investments in green innovations and rural infrastructure, this would improve emission reduction, land-use change, farm productivity, poverty levels, and nutrition outcomes. Yet, despite these potential benefits, why is it so difficult for governments to reform these policies? In short, politics.”
In Puerto Rico, advocates want the clean energy revolution to be local. By Carolina Baldwin at Energy News Network. “The Department of Energy has committed $1 billion to develop solar energy in Puerto Rico to help the island meet its goal of 100% renewables by 2050 and to add resilience to a system plagued by hurricane damage, poor maintenance, and debilitating blackouts. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm has visited the island several times, and the department has promised more funding for renewables once a study is completed. Community leaders who have long pushed for solar are hopeful. But they are adamant the funding must prioritize community-driven, decentralized rooftop solar. They oppose building more solar farms, which they say can damage land and continue reliance on shipping power across the island. They are also skeptical of the role of LUMA, the company that runs Puerto Rico’s grid since it was privatized in June 2021. On March 18, Casa Pueblo, a prominent community organization in the mountain town of Adjuntas, inaugurated ‘Adjuntas Pueblo Solar,’ an independent solar project to supply 20 businesses with solar energy.”
Landowners Fear Injection of Fracking Waste Threatens Aquifers in West Texas • Marylanders Overpaid $1 Billion in Excessive Utility Bills. Some Lawmakers and Advocates Are Demanding Answers • GE is developing a massive 18-megawatt offshore wind turbine • Believe it or not, the Amish are loving electric bikes • Adam McKay: Global Warming Is Not Being Treated Like an Emergency • Do Solar Farms Really Hurt Property Values? • California’s Drought Is Not Over • Young Activists Put El Paso On The Front Line Of Climate Defense • Offshore wind isn’t to blame for whale deaths. Developers plan to keep it that way • Misinformation about recent whale deaths dominated discussions of offshore wind energy on Facebook • Warmer Climate May Drive Fungi to Be More Dangerous to Our Health • Montana faces two crises. There's the housing for humans crisis. And there's the housing for everything else
Comments are closed on this story.