By Amitabh Pal for the Progressive. The two big issues we are facing are climate change and water shortages. Water shortages are more imminent. They’re here now. We suddenly look around and realize that water tables are falling everywhere: throughout the high plains of the United States, for instance, in the Ogallala Aquifer. This is a huge source of water, but it has already been pumped out in Texas-Oklahoma. Much of the water used in the world comes from aquifers. There are thirty-seven major aquifers. More than twenty of them have no major recharge at all. When they’re gone, they’re gone. Over the last thirty years, numerous lakes and rivers have disappeared in the world, and that’s going to continue. Some of the larger rivers no longer make it to the sea, such as the Colorado River or the Yellow River. We’ve got to reshape the economy to make it much more water-efficient than it now is. We know that there are already a number of countries that are running out of water. They’ve pumped their aquifers dry or they’re getting very close to it. This includes Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq. And in India, water tables are falling everywhere. The question is: What happens when wells start to run dry?
By Sandra Steingraber of We Are Seneca Lake. Watkins Glen, NY – In an act of civil disobedience against gas storage in Seneca Lake salt caverns, 13 Finger Lakes residents, led by local members of the Ithaca Catholic Worker Movement, formed a human blockade shortly after sunrise this morning at the north entrance of Crestwood Midstream on Route 14. Carrying with them a seven-foot-tall replica of Pope Francis’ recent encyclical letter on climate change, Laudato Si! On Care for Our Common Home, they blocked all traffic from entering or leaving. Schuyler County deputies arrested the 13 shortly after 9:30 a.m. as they sang and read from the Ponitical document.
Growers in colder climates often utilize various approaches to extend the growing season or to give their crops a boost, whether it’s coldframes, hoop houses or greenhouses. Greenhouses are usually glazed structures, but are typically expensive to construct and heat throughout the winter. A much more affordable and effective alternative to glass greenhouses is the walipini (an Aymara Indian word for a “place of warmth”), also known as an underground or pit greenhouse. First developed over 20 years ago for the cold mountainous regions of South America, this method allows growers to maintain a productive garden year-round, even in the coldest of climates.
Sixteen We Are Seneca Lake protesters will face charges tonight—some at 5 pm and some at 7 pm—for peaceful acts of civil disobedience in the form of trespassing at the gates of Crestwood. I am one of them, and it’s likely that I will not be returning home tonight. We Are Seneca Lake is a campaign that was born on October 23, which the date of our first blockade, after we learned that approval had been granted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to expand the storage of methane in crumbling salt caverns that underlie the west bank of Seneca Lake. In granting this approval, the federal government swept aside demonstrable evidence for reckless risks, including methane leakage, salt cavern collapse, and salination of our lake. These are all problems that have vexed other gas storage facilities similarly created from unlined, interbedded salt caverns.
Medea Benjamin, the co-founder of Code Pink, sits down with Dennis Trainor, Jr. of Acronym TV on the eve of the largest Climate march in history to discuss the climate justice. “”If you care about the planet, you care about people, workers, immigrants, and you care about whether we are destroying the planet whether by polluting or by polluting through war, says Benjamin, who went on to describe the founding of Code Pink as a climate Justice group. “We started as a group of women who came together around the environment. We were called Unreasonable Women for the planet.” Benjamin and Code Pink have regularly disrupted Senate hearings on ISIS/ ISIL of late, but being part of the People’s Climate March is not something she would miss: “It is all interconnected,” she told me “and I don’t think we have the ability anymore to divide ourselves into these (separate) silos.”
The richest 1% own the two major parties. It’s time working people had one of our own. That’s why I’m running for Governor. My name is Howie Hawkins. I’m a working Teamster and my running mate, Brian Jones, is a teacher and union member. New York has the greatest income inequality in the country — and it has gotten worse under Governor Cuomo’s tax breaks for the rich and spending cuts for the rest of us. Our schools are the most segregated in the nation. Poverty is on the rise in cities across the state. It doesn’t have to be this way. We can create an economy that meets human needs and protects our planet. (read more: http://www.howiehawkins.org/)
While much of the national climate movement has focused on gearing up towards the People’s Climate March in New York City later this month, frontline communities in Appalachia have been working hard at the local and regional level to address climate justice issues at the source. “Our people have been producing energy for this nation for over 100 years. We are proud of our heritage. But we can’t stay stuck in time,” said Teri Blanton, a long time organizer with Kentuckians For The Commonwealth and The Alliance for Appalachia. “In Appalachia we’ve already seen what climate change can do — denuded and destroyed landscapes, poisoned water and a corrupt political system — it’s all together and it’s all connected. We have seen first hand that what they do to the land, they do to the people.” One of the key issues Appalachian leaders are organizing communities around is water pollution; lack of access to safe water has been an issue for decades in the region, a grim irony considering the area is a temperate rainforest.
The furious pace of energy exploration in North Dakota is creating a crisis for farmers whose grain shipments have been held up by a vast new movement of oil by rail, leading to millions of dollars in agricultural losses and slower production for breakfast cereal giants like General Mills. The backlog is only going to get worse, farmers said, as they prepared this week for what is expected to be a record crop of wheat and soybeans. “If we can’t get this stuff out soon, a lot of it is simply going to go on the ground and rot,” said Bill Hejl, who grows soybeans, wheat and sugar beets in the town of Casselton, about 20 miles west of here. Although the energy boom in North Dakota has led to a 2.8 percent unemployment rate, the lowest in the nation, the downside has been harder times for farmers who have long been mainstays of the state’s economy.
According to Kash Nikazmrad of Students for Justice in Palestine, one should view passages from the Hamas charter like the one above as hyperbolic political rhetoric meant to stoke a political base, and not, he says, as something to be taken literally. The focus, he says should be on the genocidal conditions imposed by Isreal that give birth to the resistance. “The UN recognizes Genocide as anything deterring the progression of human life,” says Nikazmrad, “and that is what (Israel) does in Gaza. They don’t allow them to fish. Settlers come and cut down Oliver trees and put concrete on the olive trees. And (Israel) is all outside, and they blame Palestinians for building tunnels to try to bring medical supplies in. What do you think will happen when you build a prison (Gaza) and you prevent people from having any kind of right to life? They are going to try and build tunnels and they are going to try and resist the occupation that is there.”
I first met Victoria Tauli-Corpuz 11 years ago in Rome. An indigenous Filipina activist, Vicky was attending a meeting on indigenous peoples’ rights at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations rural development agency where I work. In fact, it was the first time indigenous peoples’ representatives had ever been invited to IFAD’s offices on the outskirts of the Eternal City. Since then, IFAD and the UN system as a whole have made progress on bringing indigenous issues and priorities into the mainstream of our work – though we still have plenty more to do. Flash forward to New York this spring, when I heard Vicky’s name called by the chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in the General Assembly hall at UN headquarters.
A year after the birth of the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City, writer, director and producer Dennis Trainor, Jr. made a full-length feature documentary capturing the fervor and passion that spread through the nation in fall 2011, fueled a street revolution and introduced the concept of “the 99%” to define the corporate greed that has crippled the U.S. American Autumn lets the protestors and organizers tell in their own words why they joined the protests and what they hoped to accomplish. Shot at the birthplace of the Occupy movement at Zuccotti Park in New York City, as well as on location at protests in Washington, D.C., Trainor offers a Ground Zero view of the movement and its participants. On camera, protesters strive to define the goals of Occupy as well as how to achieve them. “Imagine that a single voice carries as much weight as the CEO of Goldman Sachs” the film posits, distilling one of Occupy’s core beliefs.
March Against Monsanto reports that members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) are fighting to stop initiatives that require labeling of GMO-containing foods. The GMA does not want people to have the right to know what is in their food. In Washington State alone, the GMA spent more than seven million dollars to defeat the GMO labeling bill in 2013. And now they are preparing to sue the state of Vermont over its labeling law. That’s why March Against Monsanto and others are calling for a boycott of these companies until they drop their affiliation with the GMA. Below is a list of the companies and their headquarters. In addition to boycotting their products, if you live close to a headquarter, you might consider organizing an action to tell them to drop their affiliation with the GMA and to side with the people instead. Tell them that the health of the people is more important than their profits.
Opponents of a proposed natural gas pipeline extension through Addison County want to see the project put on hold until concerns over water contamination are addressed. The environmental group Rising Tide Vermont rallied outside the Public Service Board offices in Montpelier on Monday to pressure state regulators to delay the construction of the pipeline extension until these concerns are considered. “What we are asking for is the Public Service Board and the Department of Public Service to suspend pipeline construction until there can be adequate soil testing along the proposed route,” said Jonathan Shapiro, an organizer with Rising Tide Vermont.
As more and more crops are targeted for GMO adaptation and then commercialized, the decision to not grow a crop represents a loss. It is a loss of choice, leaving fewer and fewer crops from which to choose. In 2013, GMO-soy comprised 93% of the soy U.S. crop. Deciding to grow non-GMO soy in a soybean growing area would be a lost cause. A North Dakota farmer quoted in the Food and Water Watch survey, states The loss of crop options is not a direct cost, but a real one. We cannot, for example, grow organic canola as we are surrounded by hundreds of acres of GM canola – pollinated by insects – no buffer is big enough to contain cross pollination. GMO-wheat has not yet been commercialized, but when it is, another major crop might be off-limits to organic farmers.