The spotlight is a weekly, categorized compilation of links and excerpts from environmentally related posts at Daily Kos. Any posts included in the collection do not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of them. Because of the interconnectedness of the subject matter, some of these posts can be placed in more than one category.
CLIMATE EMERGENCY & EXTREME WEATHER
2023 was the hottest year in human history. 2024 is already setting records by Mark Sumner. The Copernicus Climate Change Service is one of a series of agencies created by the European Union to monitor events on Earth. Its official report made clear just how extraordinary 2023 was, even when compared with other warm years in the recent past: 2023 was confirmed to be the warmest year since records have been kept; the average temperature was 0.17 degrees Celsius higher than the previous record year of 2016; the average temperature was 0.60 C higher than the average between 1991-2020; the average temperature was 1.48 C higher than the average between 1850-1900; every month from June to December was warmer than in any past year. Every single day in 2023 was over 1 C warmer than in the 1850-1900 “pre-industrial” period, and roughly half of the days were more than 1.5 C warmer. Highlighting how hot it was near the end of the year, there were two days in November that, for the first time on record, were more than 2 C warmer than that pre-industrial line.
Caribbean Matters: The severe impact of climate change on the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico by Denise Oliver-Velez. While many media outlets only seem to pay attention to the U.S. Virgin Islands these days when discussing Jeffrey Epstein’s infamous private island of Little St. James and Puerto Rico when it comes to Bad Bunny concerts, it is important that we take note of the reality that both U.S. colonies in the Caribbean are on the front lines of climate change. The islands have been hit with scorching, record-breaking heat over the past summer, drought, flooding, erosion of the coastlines, damage to coral reefs, and waves of foul-smelling seaweed called sargassum. Climate change greatly affects the health and safety of those who live in the areas, not to mention the economic impact. When discussing the impact of climate change on the daily lives of Puerto Rican and Virgin islanders, one aspect that I don’t often see mentioned are the are health-related impacts, both mental and physical. Writer, reporter, photographer, and producer Pearl Marvell published this report for Yale Climate Connections about the damage extreme weather does to areas already impacted by colonization and systemic inequality
Science identifies the threshold as to when the snowpack tipping point begins by Pakalolo. A warming ocean adds more moisture to the atmosphere, and when conditions are ripe for storms to form, heavy rainfall or snowfall results. In just hours, my part of the country will have received back-to-back winter storms that did not and will not drop snow but rather heavy flooding rain. Bitter-cold Arctic temperatures as low as thirty degrees below zero in parts of the high plains will follow and move east quickly, flash-freezing the Great Lakes accompanied by blizzard conditions—the storm then moves to the heavily populated Northeast. Power outages could be widespread, and since the Northeast soil is already heavily saturated, flooding will occur in some areas. No single event can be attributed to climate change, but precipitation pattern disruption and other trends can help explain some natural disasters' severity, expanse, and distribution. I have no children, but yours will likely see less and less snow, according to a new study published in Nature. It found that snowfall has a non-linear response to average warming winter temperatures (17 F), meaning snow declines slowly and then falls off a cliff at a certain threshold due to the damage humans have willfully inflicted on the ocean and atmosphere.
Overnight News Digest for January 10, 2024 (Hunted becomes the Hunter edition) by jeremybloom. From The Guardian (UK) — ‘We can’t pretend the ecological crisis is separate’: the economist thinking differently about climate breakdown. James Meadway is an economist who is not at all impressed with economics. Formerly an adviser to John McDonnell when he was Labour shadow chancellor, Meadway has plenty to say about what mainstream economics gets wrong. But one of his central gripes is the way it treats the environment. “We cannot simply pretend that … the entire ecological crisis is a separate and distinct thing from what’s happening in the economy,” says Meadway, who now works on climate finance. And yet that is precisely what happens. This critique informs the podcast, Macrodose, which Meadway presents and which has recently turned one year old. Its tagline is “Your weekly fix of climate economics”. Every Wednesday, in 15 minutes or so, Meadway analyses the key economic stories of the week. Part of the aim is to make economics more accessible because, he says, it is often thought of as something so difficult that “you have to be really clever to do it.”
Environment, just stop war by LaFeminista. From The Guardian: The planet-warming emissions generated during the first two months of the war in Gaza were greater than the annual carbon footprint of more than 20 of the world’s most climate-vulnerable nations, new research reveals. The vast majority (99%) of the 281,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2 equivalent) estimated to have been generated in the first 60 days following the 7 October Hamas attack can be attributed to Israel’s aerial bombardment and ground invasion of Gaza, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis by researchers in the UK and US. According to the study, which is based on only a handful of carbon-intensive activities and is therefore probably a significant underestimate, the climate cost of the first 60 days of Israel’s military response was equivalent to burning at least 150,000 tonnes of coal.
Methane Fines, Ocean Warming, State of the Climate 2023 by boatsie. The Biden administration Friday announced the nation’s first move in curbing greenhouse gas emissions with plans to fine oil and gas companies for excess methane pollution. The potent gas contributes 80 times more pollution than carbon dioxide, which is the only greenhouse gas more abundant than methane. Penalties on the fossil fuel companies for methane emissions begin at $900 per ton for emissions which exceed federal limits, increasing to $1,500 per ton by 2026.
When is it time to leave? Increasing climate migration within US by boatsie. Climate News reports over on BlueSky that at least 1 million Americans will need to relocate during 2024 to avoid flooding, wildfires, droughts, or other extreme weather. This figure may increase to 5 million during 2025 and 100 million by 2027. Just nine days into the year, massive storms, tornadoes, and floods have impacted the lives of millions of Americans. Maybe not yet to the point of forcing them to consider moving, but the writing is on the wall. Last year, there were 28 disasters in the United States, with price tags of $1B each. Those numbers are only expected to increase in 2024 as global temperatures continue to rise, causing more extreme heatwaves, flooding, and more powerful extreme weather events. Those disasters, tallied by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, include the wildfire on Maui in August; Hurricane Idalia, which hit Florida later that month; and Typhoon Mawar in Guam in late May. The list also includes four flooding events, two tornado outbreaks, a heat wave, and 17 severe weather and hail events.
CRITTERS & THE GREAT OUTDOORS
The Daily Bucket - a Bonaparte’s party by OceanDiver. All the recent sightings of Bonaparte’s gulls mentioned in Daily Buckets lately reminded me I never reported on my own lucky sightings back in November. So today’s Bucket will add to observations by BrownsBay, Jeff Graham, WordsandBirds down in Edmonds, bluetownship and RonK up in Bellingham, Clickadee in SE Michigan, CaptBLI in Mississippi and nookular in New York. Hope everyone else isn’t sick of Bonaparte’s gulls! They are pretty special though, which you can tell by our excitement, so welcome to the party. Usually Bonaparte’s form sizable flocks, feeding together. Sometimes they’ll mix with other birds and animals in what sure looks like a party but which of course is the serious business of fueling up in a cold marine environment. I can add to our collective Bonaparte’s story with a couple of multispecies feeding incidents in my neighborhood.\
Daily Bucket - 2024 - First of Year Sightings by CaptBLI. January 3rd through the 5th contained an adventure I am glad I took. One of the last species I collected during that week is the Red-cockaded Woodpecker. I had not planned to hunt for that bird this year. My urge to collect more species (hopefully new) rose to great heights after this chance encounter.
Daily Bucket -New Year, New Bird by cal birdbrain. My spouse and I used to spend New Year’s Day at the movies. When the pandemic closed the theaters in 2020, we decided to spend the day checking out the local birds instead. After a leisurely morning watching the Rose Parade last Monday, I wandered over to the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area to check out the local peeps. A recent rain left part of the auto tour closed but I was glad to see a lot more water in the ponds. They are still pretty low but there was enough water to attract plenty of the migratory birds. I drove the alternate auto route and came across a couple of my favorite birds.
Overnight News Digest: ‘King Kong’ great apes extinction likely due to climate change by Magnifico. A King Kong-like ape once roamed southern China. Scientists say they now know why and when it disappeared. From CNN: The largest ape on record stood almost 10 feet tall (3 meters) and weighed nearly twice as much as a gorilla. Why and when the legendary colossus — which has captivated the popular imagination as “the real King Kong” — disappeared is one of the biggest mysteries in paleontology. […] “I think the child in us wants to know about these amazing creatures and what happened to them,” said Renaud Joannes-Boyau, a coauthor of the study published Wednesday in the journal Nature. Joannes-Boyau is a professor in the faculty of science and engineering at Southern Cross University in Australia. The authors believe the massive creature went extinct between 295,000 and 215,000 years ago, after the climate became more seasonal and the plant-eating primate struggled to adapt to changing vegetation.
The Daily Bucket: Sprague's Pond - A Quick Visit by BrownsBay. Sprague’s Pond is smallish water body in a suburban setting. The pond covers an area of about 2.5 acres. On the pond’s northwestern side is a mini park with playground and a grassy area. Two older commercial office buildings are set on the shore, one on the northeastern side and the other on the southern side. Busy roads line the north and east sides. But for whatever reason, this little suburban pond draws in wintering waterfowl like no other in the area. For that reason, it’s a regular birding stop for me. It’s only 4.5 miles from my house; about a 15 minute drive. My wife worked for many years in the office building on the south side of the pond. She would give me regular reports of bird sightings or whenever an otter would appear. About half the shoreline includes some dense riparian vegetation, mainly willows, that provide food and shelter for the wildlife. The pond is not natural but was created sometime during the 1960s based on historical USGS topographic maps I reviewed (reference here: USGS Topo View). I’m guessing the pond was created for storm water control. I’m still doing more research on the pond origin.
The Daily Bucket. Morning fog segues to afternoon sun; a sequence of Kestrel, Hawks, and Eagles by funningforrest. Right next to the stream is a gate down into the field. The Red-tailed hopped up on the gate to get a better look at me, I think. I reckon sometimes I must not always look that scary, because this gorgeous raptor just went about its business of drying off with total nonchalance. [...] Not more than a few yards down the road from the preceding Red-tailed, here was what I take to be a very young Red-tailed. At first it was down in a small stream that crosses the road; it was taking a bit of a bath. I stopped the bicycle, got out the camera, but it flew up out of the water before I could get a shot. It stopped in the grass just a few feet away from the water.
Dawn Chorus: Ants- And the Birds Who Love Them by nookular. We carefully picked our way along a muddy trail in the rain forest at Soberania National Park in Panama as we tried to take in all the unfamiliar sounds coming from the jungle’s birds, insects and frogs. On this day there were five of us, four birders following closely behind Jorge, our guide, A few of the songs coming from the dark forest were recognizable to me- the descending double notes of the Spotted Antbird and the maniacal wheezing of a Bicolored Antbird. Suddenly Jorge signals us to stop- he says in a hushed tone- “Hay hormigas”- there are ants. Birding in a tropical rainforest can be a humbling experience. Its easy for a first-time (or tenth time) visitor to the rainforest to be overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by the heat, the humidity, the sights, the sounds and especially, the insects. Crawly things, large and small, are everywhere, and although they seldom have any direct impact on the human observer, they are pretty hard to miss. One thing that gets the birder to snap to attention though are those whispered words. Ant swarms bring special birds.
ENERGY, EMISSIONS & TRANSPORTATION
1/9 Renewable Tuesday: Not Just Greenhouse Gases by Mokurai. Analysis: UK electricity from fossil fuels drops to lowest level since 1957: The amount of UK electricity generated from fossil fuels fell 22% year-on-year in 2023 to the lowest level since 1957, Carbon Brief analysis reveals. The 104 terawatt hours (TWh) generated from fossil fuels in 2023 is the lowest level in 66 years. Back then, Harold Macmillan was the UK prime minister and the Beatles’ John Lennon and Paul McCartney had just met for the first time. Electricity from fossil fuels has now fallen by two-thirds (199TWh) since peaking in 2008. Within that total, coal has dropped by 115TWh (97%) and gas by 80TWh (45%).
North Carolina Open Thread: Voting Rights Act, Replacing McHenry, Coal Ash, EPA rules by randallt. Coal ash more hazardous than previously known, EPA says, could alter Chapel Hill cleanup plan. You can read the full EPA draft risk assessment report that address more than just structural fill (82 pages) or excerpts that are specific to that use (10 pages). We’ve annotated the second document to help readers understand what it means. The black dirt on the steep slope of an overgrown knoll of trash overlooking the Bolin Creek greenway in Chapel Hill is, in fact, not dirt. It’s coal ash, fully exposed to the elements. On this windy winter morning, it’s hard to know if ash particles are hitchhiking on the breeze, but to stand downwind elicits a sense of unease. Coal ash could increase a person’s cancer risk significantly more than previously estimated, according to a recent EPA report, raising questions about the safety of places where ash has been used as structural fill. This is especially true where the ash is visible, like the mound along the Bolin Creek greenway. Like in Mooresville, where ash has escaped a sinkhole in a commercial parking lot, and protruded through crumbling asphalt at Lake Norman High School. Like in Weldon, where state inspectors found swaths of exposed ash at an abandoned sawmill.
Biden has made progress in holding Big Oil accountable by ChrisMarshallAUS. In an era marked by grave climate challenges and a call for greater corporate responsibility, President Biden has taken important steps towards accountability in the oil and gas industry. The Trump administration left President Biden with many repairs to make of the federal government’s stewardship of American natural resources. Perhaps worst of all, then-President Trump overruled the wishes of indigenous peoples in the Southwest to revoke protections for their sacred lands in Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, Utah. President Biden has since restored those monuments and protected nearly 1.5 million acres in other places that hold similar significance to the native peoples of this continent. That puts him on track to be the greatest first term conservation President in modern American history.
Kitchen Table Kibitzing: 3 Day DC Sit-in to Stop New Liquid Natural Gas Export Facilities by boatsie. Climate movement leaders, environmental justice advocates, and frontline community members released a letter Tuesday calling for a three-day sit-in at the Department of Energy this February 6-8 to pressure the Biden Administration to pause the approval of any new Liquified Natural Gas export facilities. The letter comes as news breaks that the Biden administration is evaluating the criteria it uses to approve these new projects. [...] The organizers of the February sit-in, and the broader movement fighting LNG exports, are specifically calling on the Biden Administration and Department of Energy to, “stop CP2—the next big facility up for approval—and all other facilities by committing to a serious pause to rework the criteria for public interest designation, incorporating the latest science and economics, before any such facility is permitted.”
Climate Leaders Call for Sit-In at Department of Energy to Stop New LNG Export Facilities by Dan Bacher. Climate movement leaders, environmental justice advocates, and frontline community members released a letter today calling for a three day sit-in at the Department of Energy this February 6-8 to pressure the Biden Administration to pause the approval of any new Liquified Natural Gas export facilities. The letter comes as news breaks that the Biden administration is evaluating the criteria it uses to approve these new projects, according to a press statement from Fossil Free Media. [...] “The sit-in is modeled on previous demonstrations, like the iconic sit-ins at the White House against the Keystone XL pipeline, which thrust that fossil fuel fight into the national spotlight,” according to the statement. “Organizers expect at least 100 people a day to risk arrest by peacefully blocking the entrance to the Department of Energy—a soft launch of the event to the members of Third Act has already generated hundreds of sign-ups.”
Why We Don't Have Rail Transit by Larry Lagarto. A friend of mine posted a meme about high speed rail that sent me off on a rant. The text of the meme read: Most people in the US underestimate high-speed rail. There's a direct train from Barcelona to Paris that takes 6 hours, tops out at almost 200 mph, and costs $41. Not $400+. $41. Why aren't we funding this? My rant in response: Because those who profit from selling $400+ tickets on the existing rail and airline infrastructure can afford the price of a congressman. But it's actually much more nuanced than that (it always is). 19th-century rail laws are play a large role, as do land use jurisdictions. Add to that the growth of infrastructure around the automobile and trucking and the preference of Americans for suburban single-family homes on as large a lot as we can get away with. Top that off with transit funding models that pit types of transit against each other for budget allocations. Then garnish with good old-fashioned corporate greed and inertia. Serve with a side of corruption. [...] But dammit, we've got some serious restructuring of a century's worth of policies and entrenched interests to do first. I despair of it ever happening. But climate change is going to make air travel increasingly unpleasant, so maybe…
FOOD, AGRICULTURE & GARDENING
Think Twice Before Ordering a Second Slice by Alan Singer. Americans eat more chicken and cheese than in the past, mostly because of snack foods like pizza and chicken wings. Over the last fifty years, American per-person cheese and chicken consumption has doubled. In the same time period, chicken and cheese exports have increased by ten times and the export of animal feed has also soared, partly because of increased productive efficiency and partly because of government loan subsidies. What no one paid attention to as agri-business met increasing demand with more dairy cows and chickens, was the impact on underground available water as non-renewable groundwater was drained to grow animal feed. [...] Because farming has expanded into dryer regions of the country, agri-business depends on underground water in the aquifers that supply an estimated 90% of water for irrigation. This is water that built up over the centuries, perhaps over thousands of years, water that is not renewed because of inadequate rainfall. The depletion of underground water reserves is now creating crises situations in Texas, the Central Valley of California, the High Plains in Kansas, and Arizona. Wells pumping water out of the aquifer in Idaho to irrigate alfalfa fields are measuring the lowest water levels ever recorded.
Some Zoom (and Other) Agriculture Events in January by gmoke. • Increasing Affordability Through Municipal Climate Action - webinar #4 - FOOD SECURITY, Monday, January 15, 2 pm - 3 pm EST. Online RSVP at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/increasing-affordability-through-municipal-climate-action-food-security-tickets-672266566397. • Eating Down the Food Chain: Let Them Eat Algae. Tuesday, January 16, 10 pm ET, Hopkins Marine Station, Izzie Abbott Boatworks Auditorium, 120 Ocean View Blvd, Pacific Grove, CA. 93950. And online, RSVP at https://stanford.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_enci5N_oQfmGX4JCXhaVNA#/. • Climate Resilient Gardening: Natures Green-Print,Thursday, January 18, 8 pm- 9 pm EST. Online, RSVP at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/climate-resilient-gardening-natures-green-print-tickets-765890317557
Note: The climate strike action began at San Francisco City Hall in 2019. The following entries are excerpts from “letters” that were issued each week of the action. Although the strike was focused on San Francisco, many of the same issues affect countless U.S. cities.]
Health Reaction Guidelines -- Strike for the Planet week 183 by birches. Climate change is an extreme health hazard. According to the WHO: Climate change is already impacting health in a myriad of ways, including by leading to death and illness from increasingly frequent extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, storms and floods, the disruption of food systems, increases in zoonoses and food-, water- and vector-borne diseases, and mental health issues. Furthermore, climate change is undermining many of the social determinants for good health, such as livelihoods, equality and access to health care and social support structures. These climate-sensitive health risks are disproportionately felt by the most vulnerable and disadvantaged, including women, children, ethnic minorities, poor communities, migrants or displaced persons, older populations, and those with underlying health conditions. Is SF ready to respond to these hazards? Heat? No. Flooding? No.
Food disruption? No. Disease? No. Mental health issues? Jobs? Equity? Let’s examine those, and disease, in more detail below.
Harmful Algal Bloom Reaction Guidelines -- Strike for the Planet week 182 by birches. HABs cause fish kills, plant and animal poisonings, and dead zones. They’re a major source of methane, a GHG. They produce airborne toxins that affect human health. They produce domoic acid, which is bioaccumulated, and causes ingestion poisoning events and the closing of fisheries. They poison drinking water. They lead to human development of ALS and Parkinson’s. HABs are caused when excess nutrients, usually nitrogen and phosphorus, are dumped in water. Humans are creating HABs and dead zones through agricultural run-off, sewage, coastal development, and climate change.
Cars Rule! -- Strike for the Planet week 181 by birches. This week’s topic: Cars Rule! Open it all up now!Give it over to cars, all cars, all the time, everywhere! They deserve it! Because! Parks? Who needs parks?! Driving wherever anyone wants to go is waaaay more important than habitat, silence, darkness, ecosystems, recreation, health and safety. Waaaaaaaaay more important! Everywhere! Because cars! Raaaah! Streets belong to cars!
They weren’t made for cars, but cars rule them now. Because cars are killers, right? That’s why nothing else belongs on streets! Ever. Anywhere. Know that ghost bike locked up on the Civic Center side of City Hall? The woman who died there, if she’d just been riding on the sidewalk, it’s a lot less likely she would have been killed by a car. Even better, she should have been driving a car, right? Then her sister wouldn’t have been crying out there at the bike memorial a few weeks ago!
Coastal Retreat Reaction Guidelines -- Strike for the Planet week 180 by birches. Will coastal retreat be necessary? Yes. The bay shoreline and Treasure Island are mostly unconsolidated fill, prone to slumping, liquifaction, and sinking (especially given building masses). The city and the Army Corps of Engineers are looking at hardening strategies, which do damage to adjacent shorelines, only work if the builders accurately guess maximum sea level/ storm surge/ tidal rise, and assume erosion doesn’t exist. Even for this work, most of the focus is on the bay shores, but more than the bay shores are in danger. Pacific kelp forests have been devastated by sea urchins, with many areas becoming urchin barrens. The lack of kelp forests results in wave speeds and increased shore impacts equal to those caused by removing barrier islands and mangrove swamps, and that are not noticed until disaster hits. In other words, we will flood.
What Are You So Afraid Of? -- Strike for the Planet week 179 by birches. This week’s topic: What are you so afraid of? Artificial turf — remember that? The stuff you layered over natural permeable park land all over the city? The stuff that’s a plastic carpet on a concrete slab, with a life expectancy of 10 years, prone to off-gassing and spreading black crumb rubber everywhere? You remember. Well, it turns out it’s toxic. Surprise, surprise! Whoever would have thought it? How toxic? You know PFAS? Per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds, otherwise known as forever chemicals? Linked to cancers, liver disease, thyroid problems, birth defects, kidney disease, childhood developmental problems, immune disorders, and more? Yeah, them. PFAS are in artificial turf. The really toxic ones, like 6:2 FTOH and PFOS have been found in turf fields. We know they are getting into our bodies; PFAS are even found in umbilical cord blood. They bioaccumulate. And the artificial turf industry has said that they cannot make the blades and backing without PFAS.
Food Reaction Guidelines -- Strike for the Planet week 178 by birches. What could threaten our food supply? Flooding (ex. Central Valley 1861-1862 and Pakistan now); drought and megadrought (ex. the “missing millennia” and the Anasazi); heat (ex. cattle deaths in 2022 in the tens of thousands and a 20% drop in crop production); disease (ex. the Irish Potato Famine and a modern increase in plant pathogen infection rates); nuclear war (ex. Putin). There’s more issues and more example of threats. What could threaten our ability to get food donations? Wide scale disaster (ex. Nigeria, Puerto Rico, Pakistan, and China now); famine (ex. Somalia, Madagascar, and the ripples from Ukraine); infrastructure destruction (ex. the Great Hanshin earthquake of 1995); supply chain problems or collapse (ex. Russia/Ukraine and the China logjam); political actions (ex. Puerto Rico after Maria and Yemen).
WATER & INFRASTRUCTURE
Coming Clean: State Water Resources Control Board Finally Acknowledges “Paper Water” by Dan Bacher. In a proposed update to a management plan for the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers and their shared Delta, the State Water Resources Control Board has finally acknowledged California’s water supplies are oversubscribed by 500%, according to a statement from the California Water Impact Network. “Aimed at protecting water quality and fisheries, the Board’s Phase II Flow Update stipulates flow volume and temperature targets for the Bay-Delta,” the group stated. “The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is the export point for both the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project, the massive water conveyance systems that send water to South State agribusiness operations and cities.” The acknowledgement takes at a time when the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary is in its worst ecological crisis in history, largely due to the oversubscription of water in California. Sacramento River fall-run Chinook salmon salmon populations, along with the Klamath/Trinity salmon runs, have collapsed, resulting in the closure of ocean and river salmon fishing in California in 2023 and probably again this year.
Governor unveils 2024 California budget as $16+ billion Delta Tunnel project moves forward by Dan Bacher. At a widely-covered media event today in Sacramento, Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled his $291 billion proposed 2024-25 budget for the State of California as the state faces an expected $37.8 billion budget deficit. The budget draws $10 billion from the state’s budget reserves to address the deficit while Newsom continues to push forward with the Delta Conveyance Project, AKA Delta Tunnel, that will indebt Californians for decades to come at a cost of at least $16 billion. Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta, pointed out the absurdity of the Governor’s Office forging ahead with the multi-billion dollar Delta Tunnel at a time of fiscal cutbacks as the Governor portrays the tunnel now as a “climate project.” She said, “It will waste at least $16 billion dollars that could be spent on actual climate resilience projects like rural groundwater recharging and urban floodwater capture. Every struggling California family knows that money not spent on frivolous things can be used on essential items that help us get through the tough times.”
Bill to End Offshore Oil Drilling in CA Waters Passes First Major Legislative Hurdle by Dan Bacher. New oil leases for offshore oil and gas drilling have been banned in California waters for decades, but the oil industry can keep drilling in state waters 3 miles and less from shore under existing leases. Senator Dave Min’s Senate Bill (SB) 559 seeks to change this situation by requiring the California State Lands Commission to take immediate steps to terminate the remaining leases for offshore oil drilling in California state waters. The bill passed out of its first legislative committee earlier this week. The State Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee, chaired by Senator Min, approved the measure by a 7-3 vote. “As the 2021 oil spill off the coast of Orange County starkly illustrated (as did the 2015 Refugio Beach oil spill), offshore drilling poses a clear and immediate threat to our beautiful beaches and our vibrant $44 billion a year coastal
economy,” said Senator Min.
Hoopa Valley Tribe Announces Largest Land Reacquisition in Tribal History - 10,000 Acres by Dan Bacher. On Dec. 20, the Hoopa Valley Tribe announced the acquisition of 10,395 acres of land bordering the western boundary of the Tribe’s Reservation, The return of the Hupa Mountain property brings the Tribe’s landholdings to a total of over 102,000 acres, according to a press release from the Tribe. When the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation was created, the Hupa people lost access to and use of more than two-thirds of their ancestral lands. The Tribe’s $14.1 million purchase of the land rightfully returns management, conservation and use of the land to Hupa People. “Today is a day of intense celebration for our Tribe,” said Hoopa Valley Tribal Chairman Joe Davis. “As a tribal nation that has long led the way in self-governance and self-determination, the Hoopa Valley Tribe worked hard to secure this once-in-a-generation opportunity to reclaim a meaningful portion of our ancestral lands. Many thanks to our Tribal Council for their leadership, our Tribal staff for their dedication and creativity, and the many public and private partners who helped make this possible.”
Earth Matters: Biden's IRA plan extends solar to low-income people, EVs surge by Meteor Blades. Interest in solar cooperatives is on the rise in part because of the Biden administration’s push to add 20 gigawatts of community solar generation capacity by the end of 2025. Enough to provide electricity for 5 million households. Plus, the IRA provides a 30% tax credit for community solar projects, with extra benefits for those built in low-income communities or on tribal lands. Meanwhile, all but six states have applied or are in the process of applying for the Solar for All grants. Not a single congressional Republican voted for the IRA, but that hasn’t stopped more than a dozen Republican-led states from applying, just as it hasn’t stopped GOP members of Congress from taking two-faced credit for local projects funded by the IRA they voted against. The six declining states, which don’t seem to like the very concept of solar for all, are Florida, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota, all led by Republican governors and Republican-controlled legislatures. Nevada has a Republican governor with Democrats running the legislature.
A Modest Proposal for an Ethic of Sustainability by Kat Ignatz. An ethic of sustainability would help humanity see and understand how its actions are ruining the world. It would lend clarity to the meaning of sustainability, which, at the moment, is a catchphrase for greenwashing, and it would throw light on the false narratives that feed human meddling. These mistaken ideas include: 1. Humanity can separate itself from the natural world. Humans who believe this build doomsday bunkers and propose colonies on Mars, but belief won’t help them when the machinery breaks and the food, water, and fuel run out, and they're forced to leave their bunkers and attempt to survive in a world that doesn’t support life, be it Earth or Mars. 2. The benefits of altering the natural world outweigh the negative consequences. Let’s cut to the chase and start with the consequences. They’re collapse and death. What benefits outweigh that? 3.The world is self-healing and can be reaped endlessly. This idea worked, to a degree, long ago when human societies could move to new terrain when they had depleted the territory they were in. Left alone, habitats could heal, although some damage, like extinctions, was irreversible. In the 21st century, eight billion humans occupy all livable environments and disrupt all that aren’t. There’s no place to go, and Earth has no room to recover.4. More meddling can solve the problems of previous meddling. There is no technological fix that won’t create new problems that will also need fixing. Human technology is always disruptive, and the only sustainable systems on Earth are Earth’s natural systems.