For the first time, a New York judge gave judicial notice to the realities of climate change as he exonerated ten protesters on freedom of speech grounds. Judge Robert Mandelbaum found the Flood Wall Street Ten not guilty, commending the climate activists’ protest as “honorable.” This landmark decision could not only have resounding implications for the growing environmental justice movement — it could also potentially thaw the iron-fisted policing that has come to be routine in the United States, especially in New York. “The importance of judicial notice is that the judge accepted climate change and the need to do something about it as a fact without the necessity of any evidentiary support or proof at trial,” Martin Stolar, an attorney for the defense, told MintPress News. “To the best of my knowledge, this is unprecedented and has significance for future litigation involving climate change.” The legal recognition of man-made climate change as an indisputable fact sent shockwaves through the environmentalist movement both on the streets and in the courts, allowing the Flood Wall Street case to be cited by protesters, academics and lawyers alike.
The UMW Board of Visitors has dismissed the demands of thousands of students, faculty, and people worldwide by refusing to establish a subcommittee to investigate the financial realities of a fossil free endowment. Students are taking action to show that this denial is unacceptable. In February, DivestUMW delivered a detail presentation on divestment to the Board and demanded the formation of a subcommittee, which would provide information and transparency to advance divestment research. A month after the presentation, Holly Cuellar, Rector of the Board, denied the students’ demand without deliberation or a vote. Stand with these students to show Rector Cuellar that this dismissal is unacceptable. We’re counting on your help to build a strong collective voice.
An employee of Florida’s environmental protection department was forced to take a leave of absence and seek a mental health evaluation for violating governor Rick Scott’s unwritten ban on using the phrases “climate change” or “global warming” under any circumstance, according to a complaint filed against the state. Longtime employee Barton Bibler reportedly included an explicit mention of climate change in his official notes from a Florida Coastal Managers Forum meeting in late February, during which climate change, rising sea levels and the possible environmental impact of the Keystone XL Pipeline were discussed. On 9 March, Bibler received a formal reprimand for “misrepresenting that ‘the official meeting agenda included climate change’”, according to a statement from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (Peer).
Representatives from environmental organizations, unions, student groups and First Nations Sunday announced plans for a rally to demand action to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The groups say Canada and other countries need to respect targets for cutting emissions, and they say projects such the ones going on in Alberta’s tar sands are incompatible with meeting those targets. They want the governments of Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and New Brunswick to oppose the expansion of the tar sands and the transport of oil by pipeline and by train. Dubbed the “Act on climate” march, the groups want the march, set for April 11 in Quebec City, will remind leaders that Canadians want them to do more to protect the planet.
A B.C. climate change scientist says he got an “intimidating” call from RCMP because he had taken pictures on Burnaby Mountain near the site of a proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline. Tim Takaro, a health sciences professor at SFU, says he was having lunch in Tofino with his family on Wednesday when his daughter’s cellphone rang. When she answered it, she was told it was the Burnaby RCMP calling and they were looking for her father. “I was very upset that he had called my daughter and that he was basically threatening, intimidating on the phone,” says Takaro. He says the officer asked him if he had recently had been taking photos near a Trans Mountain pipeline work site on Burnaby Mountain.
This morning members of 350-Missoula, Blue Skies Campaign, and CAJA3 (Community Action for Justice in the Americas, Africa, and Asia) held a sit-in at the Missoula office of Senator Steve Daines to protest the senator’s denial of climate change science and his support for fossil fuel projects like coal exports, the Otter Creek Coal Mine, and the Keystone XL pipeline. Fourteen people were arrested for refusing to leave Daines’ office in a peaceful act of civil disobedience, while around seventy supporters stood outside holding protest signs. “We are here today because we want our elected representatives to stop greenlighting harmful industries such as coal exports and the Keystone XL pipeline, and to support renewable energy and a clean, sustainable economy,” said Meaghan Browne from Butte.
FERC leaders have apparently had more than enough of the anti-fracking protests that have disrupted their meetings — and in very FERC-ian fashion, they’ve approved a new rule on it. Order No. 806 clarifies that for the public, the right to observe meetings “does not include disruptive behavior.” Ted Glick, national campaign coordinator at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, one of the groups involved in the FERC protests, told Politico that FERC has failed to protect human health and the environment. “People facing new pipelines, compressor stations, and liquefaction plants in their communities have voiced concerns through every ‘official’ means possible, only to see FERC put the interests of the gas industry over the public interest at every turn,” he said. “Now, instead of focusing on doing its job, FERC appears to be focused on further shutting out citizen voices. As long as FERC continues to fail the public, people will face no choice but to keep showing up at their doorstep.”
The climate crisis is an example of a truth that requires urgent enactment. This is because it remains largely invisible to those operating the levers of destruction. Unlike the LaFleur’s of the world, who remain largely insulated by wealth, those living on the frontlines of the crisis might see and feel it everyday. LaFleur, on the other hand, can sit comfortably at the helm of a government agency, rubber stamping climate change inducing infrastructure projects with impunity, never once having to experience the consequences of her actions firsthand. Not in a significant way, at least. It is our job, therefore, to bring the crisis experience to her directly. It is our job, in other words, to manifest the crisis for those who are blinded to it, namely, the economic elite, the bureaucrats, and the other managers of the world who are tasked with keeping the cogs oiled and running. We must build around these folks a crisis so immense and forceful that they have no other choice but to abandon the machine all together.
The governments that will be meeting in Paris rule the world, but they do not own the world. Under international law the earth’s shared natural resources belong to the world’s people and their posterity, as the common heritage of humanity. This fundamental principle is embodied in the laws and constitutions of countries around the world. It was codified in the Institutes of Justinian, issued by the Roman Emperor in 535 A.D., which stated, “By the law of nature these things are common to mankind — the air, running water, the sea and consequently the shores of the sea.” Under constitutional principles recognized in the law of many countries, known in the United States as the “public trust doctrine,” governments are required to act not as owners of essential natural resources, but as trustees for the real owners: the people.
The Campaign Against Climate Change, who organised the march, said “well over 20,000” people attended. The number of attendees was buoyed by the bright sunshine of early spring. Last September 40,000 people took to London’s streetsas part of the biggest demonstration on climate change action in history. Sauven said the protest on Saturday was the first step in a year of climate action. “This is much smaller in terms of its aims and objectives [than the global day of action in 2014]. But I think it’s also just the beginning. By the time we get to Paris then we have to have far bigger numbers than we had last year in September.” Lucas said climate change was visible and demanded action. “
The battle over building the Keystone XL pipeline is having an impact far from its proposed route. One of those places is the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, home to Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a city of 100,000 known for its educated and engaged citizens. The city currently purchases the electricity that powers its municipal buildings from TransCanada, Keystone XL’s parent company. But now its city council has passed a unanimous resolution advising city manager Richard Rossi not to do business with the company once its current contract expires at the end of 2015 and to look at acquiring the city’s electricity from clean, renewable sources. The measure was sponsored by councillor Dennis Carlone.
In his ruling, Judge Robert Mandelbaum found that the NYPD’s order to disperse was unlawful, and that by ordering protesters to leave the entire Wall Street area, police violated protesters’ First Amendment right to carry their message directly to its intended recipients: the Wall Street bankers who bankroll climate change. Defense Attorney Jonathan Wallace successfully argued that the Constitution protects citizen’s rights to express political speech within proximity to the target of the protest. In this case, the NYPD first prevented protesters from entering Wall Street before later ordering them to leave the area altogether. This pattern of policing proved to be the Prosecution’s undoing. Judge Mandelbaum also broke new ground by taking judicial notice that climate change is happening, is a serious problem, requires immediate action, and is caused by human activity.