Red Lake Nation blockades pipeline

The Red Lake Nation claims that Enbridge Energy is trespassing on lands ceded to them in Minnesota by operating multiple pipelines without an easement. On February 28, they began occupying the land above the pipelines.

Twin Cities IndyMedia speculates that if the blockade lasts for three days, then “the flow of oil…will have to be shut down.”

The Enbridge pipeline transports tar sands bitumen extracted from Alberta, Canada. Red Lake Tribal Council has been trying to negotiate an easement settlement since 2011 and is still in negotiations.

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Sins of sequestration: Nation’s weather forecasting compromised

The sequester will slash the National Weather Service budget and compromise its ability to produce reliable weather forecasts.

An 8.2 percent across-the-board cut in spending, from the so-called sequester, will trim already financially-depleted programs critical for maintaining and improving the NWS’ weather capabilities.

“It’s not going to be pretty,” said outgoing National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief Jane Lubchenco at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (according to Climate Central). “The sequester has the potential to wreak havoc with so many different things…”

Don’t forget that these have been record-setting years for weather.

The cuts loom large following a two-year onslaught of extreme weather, including Superstorm Sandy and continuing historic drought conditions in the Heartland. In 2011 and 2012, the U.S. experienced the most and second most number of billion dollar weather disasters on record.

Cheerleaders for America were horrified when the European weather forecasting model beat out the National Weather Service’s in predicting the path of Superstorm Sandy. Turns out it takes money to make accurate predictions, and there may be even less of it now.

The cash-strapped National Weather Service is facing increasing scrutiny over its inferior computer modeling power compared to international peers and is anticipating a likely gap in weather satellite coverage. Last week, the Government Accountability Office ranked the pending satellite gap among the top 30 threats facing the Federal government.

The Department of Commerce warned that not only will the loss of satellite data and imagery diminish the quality of forecasts, but so will other important weather data surrendered by spending cuts.

“NOAA will face the loss of highly trained technical staff and partners,” a DOC spokesperson said. “As a result, the government runs the risk of significantly increasing forecast error and, the government’s ability to warn Americans across the country about high impact weather events, such as hurricanes and tornadoes, will be compromised.”

With global warming on the rise and the polar ice caps melting, we can look forward to extreme weather events with more frequency. It’s the perfect time to increase funding to the National Weather Service–not cut it.

Around the U.S., solidarity with Forward on Climate

There were several rallies and actions in solidarity with Forward on Climate in Washington, DC today. Here are scenes from some of them:

SAN FRANCISCO

Photo by @sophiehh14
Photo by @sophiehh14

SAN RAPHAEL, CA

Photo by @anirvan
Photo by @anirvan

SEATTLE

Seattle_Pragmactivist99
Photo by @Pragmactvisti

LOS ANGELES

Photo by @renegadecop
Photo by @renegadecop

DENVER

Photo by @CO_BeyondCoal
Photo by @CO_BeyondCoal

SANTA FE

SantaFe_JenniferEsperanza

CHICAGO

Chicago_daneyvilla
Photo by @daneyvilla

 

The coming wave of immigration: Climate change refugees

Rising sea levels will flood Bangladesh–and its impoverished population. It’s already happening, creating a new class of climate change refugees:

Masud, 19, lives in Korail, Dhaka’s largest slum. Its roughly 70,000 residents dwell in the shadow of the affluent Gulshan neighbourhood, with its mansions, restaurants and western-style shopping centres.

Masud, her husband Mohammed, and their year-old daughter Karima share a one-room shanty that can be crossed in two strides. It is made of corrugated steel sheets held up by wooden poles. A bed takes up a large portion of the room and a battered TV sits in one corner. In another corner are Masud’s dishes. The kitchen, a cramped space with a couple of shelves, is in the back, about a metre from a toilet shared by two dozen other families.

It is not just the smell. Every monsoon, when the slum is overrun with rainwater, cholera and malaria outbreaks are common. Masud has to cook while standing in puddles of muck; nearby, excrement gets stuck in the overflowing drains. She says she almost gags.

“I don’t want to live like this … who wants to?” says Masud, a pretty woman with big eyes and a sad smile. But after her husband’s family farm and home in Barisal, in southern Bangladesh, were inhaled by a powerful cyclone in 2008, they had no choice.

She is a climate change refugee.

Climate change is expected to trigger a migration like no other.

Experts expect about 250 million people worldwide to move by 2050. Of those, 20 million to 30 million climate change refugees are expected to be in Bangladesh, likely the largest number from one place.

As extreme weather, floods and drought force them to flee their homes, most will head to the capital.
Dhaka is the fastest-growing megacity in the world; its population is about 17 million, up from 12 million in 2005 and six million in 1990. By 2025, the UN says the city will be home to more than 20 million people.

Fast-growing urban areas like Dhaka will bear the brunt of climate change-related disasters, particularly because so many of them are located in coastal zones. Dhaka, on the banks of the Buriganga River in the low-lying Ganges Delta, is prone to flooding during monsoons.
As much as 40 per cent of Dhaka’s population — almost seven million — lives in tiny hovels in slums, beside railway tracks, along riverbanks and even on swampy lowlands in the shadow of glittering hotels.

The International Organization for Migration says about 70 per cent of these slum dwellers have come to Dhaka because of climate-change adversity.

Life as War

THERE IS NO NATURE, THERE IS ONLY TECHNOLOGY

Many are familiar with the seminal 1982 film Koyaanisqatsi, or “Life Out of Balance.” Fewer know that it is the first of the Qatsi trilogy, visual tone poems all accompanied by Philip Glass’ minimalist but powerful music. Naqoyqatsi, “Life as War,” followed Powaqqatsi, “Life as Transformation,” to round out the exploration of human beings, nature and technology:

Naqoyqatsi is a Hopi word (more correctly written naqö̀yqatsi) meaning “life as war”. In the film’s closing credits, Naqoyqatsi is also translated as “civilized violence” and “a life of killing each other”. While Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi examine modern life in industrial countries and the conflict between encroaching industrialization and traditional ways of life, using slow motion and time-lapse footage of cities and natural landscapes, about eighty percent of Naqoyqatsi uses archive footage and stock images manipulated and processed digitally on non-linear editing (non-sequential) workstations and intercut with specially-produced computer generated imagery to demonstrate society’s transition from a natural environment to a technology-based one.

Technology is not in itself evil, nor do I think the film implies that. But divorced from nature, it becomes soulless. When our perception about ourselves is that we are not part of nature, we lose our integral connection to nature and thus to our souls. Somehow, in isolating ourselves from the natural environment, we have decided that we are something apart from it, above it even.

We are constantly making choices as a society about technology and our course into the future. To say that the “market” best determines our fate is not only irresponsible, it’s just inaccurate. We opened Pandora’s box with nuclear weapons and drone warfare. Life as war. We declared war on the planet as well–every energy policy our governments implement is a choice whether to make war or to make peace.

messagefromearthThe Keystone XL Pipeline is yet another Pandora’s box, one which might tip the balance toward irrevocable warming of the planet. We must make a conscious decision yes or no. We can’t leave it up to the energy industry to bully us into it.

It’s a horrifying vision, life without nature. It’s one reason why so many steadfastly refuse to acknowledge that global warming is happening–it’s just too overwhelming. It simply can’t be true that we’re headed toward such a nightmare future. The people rising up against Keystone XL and the fossil fuel economy are courageous in their refusal to look away. They refuse to accept “Life Out of Balance” or “Life as War.” Let us make this era Powaqqatsi, Life as Transformation–and move toward Life in Balance.