Say hello to Justin Trudeau, the world’s newest oil executive | Bill McKibben

The Canadian prime minister presents himself as an atmosphere hero. By promising to nationalise the Kinder Morgan pipeline, he discloses his true self

In case anyone wondered, this is how the world aims: with the cutest, progressivest, boybandiest leader in the world going fully in the tank for the oil industry.

Justin Trudeau’s government announced on Tuesday that it would nationalize the Kinder Morgan pipeline go from the tar sand of Alberta to the tidewater of British Columbia. It will fork over at least $4.5 bn in Canadian taxpayers’ money for the right to own a 60 -year-old pipe that springs leaks regularly, and for the right to push through a second pipeline on the same road- a proposal that has elicited strong opposition.

That opposition has come from three main sources. First are many of Canada’s First Nations groups, who don’t want their land used for this purpose without their permission, and who dread the effects of oil spills on the oceans and woods they depend on. Second are the residents of Canada’s west coast, who don’t want hundreds of additional tankers plying the narrow inlets around Vancouver on the theory that eventually there’s going to be an oil spill. And third are climate scientists, who point out that even if Trudeau’s pipeline doesn’t spill oil into the ocean, it will spill carbon into the atmosphere.

Lots of carbon: Trudeau told oil executives last year that” no country would find 173 bn barrels of petroleum in the ground and just leave it there “. That’s apparently how much he plans to dig up and burn- and if he’s successful, the one half of 1% of countries around the world that is Canadian will have awarded to itself almost one-third of the remaining carbon budget between us and the 1.5 degree rise in temperature the planet drew as a red line in Paris. There’s no way of spinning the math that constructs that okay- Canadians already emit more carbon per capita than Americans. Hell, than Saudi Arabians.

Is this a clever fiscal decision that will somehow stimulate Canada rich? Surely not in the long run. Cleaning up the tar sands complex in Alberta- the biggest, ugliest scar on the surface of the earth- is already estimated to cost more than the total revenues generated by all the oil that’s come out of the ground. Meanwhile, when something goes wrong, Canada is now on the hook: when BP tarred the Gulf of Mexico, the US was at least able to exact billions of dollars in penalties to help with the cleanup. Canada will get to sue itself.

No, this is simply a scared prime minister playing politics. He’s worried about the reaction in Alberta if the pipe is not constructed, and so he has mortgaged his credibility. His predecessor, Stephen Harper, likely would not have dared try- the outcry from environmentalists and First Nations would have been too overwhelming. But Trudeau is banking on the fact that his liberal charm will soothe things over. Since he’s got Trump to point to- a true climate denier- maybe he’ll get away with it.

But it seems like a bad wager to me. Faced with the same situation- a uprising over the Keystone XL pipeline- Barack Obama delayed for several years to avoid antagonizing either side. He ultimately decided he couldn’t defend the climate cost of building it, and so became the first world leader to explicitly reject a big piece of infrastructure on global warming grounds. Trudeau has built the exact opposite bellow, and now we’ll see if pipeline foes cave.

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I was in Vancouver two weeks ago to help activists raise money for lawyers, and I would guess that the civil disobedience will continue- in so far, two members of parliament have been arrested, an escalation we’ve never seen even in the Nation. Coast Salish elders have built a” watch home” along the pipeline road and, as at Standing Rock, other native activists have been pouring in- I’m guessing that making such petro-colonialism officially country sponsored will merely harden people’s solving. The showdown will be powerfully symbolic: kayaktivists, for example, have paddled peacefully around the pipeline’s terminal, at least until Kinder Morgan put up an ugly razor wire roadblock in the middle of the harbor.

Now it’s Trudeau who owns the razor wire, Trudeau who has to battle his own people. All in the name of pouring more carbon into the air, so he can make the oil companies back at the Alberta end of his pipe a little more fund. We know now how history will recollect Justin Trudeau: not as a dreamy progressive, but as one more pathetic employee of the richest, most reckless industry in the planet’s history.

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Trump administration refuses to consider that 97% of climate scientists could be right | Dana Nuccitelli

Dana Nuccitelli: Even though smart climate policies could save tens of trillions of dollars

Last week, the Washington Post procured a White House internal memoranda that debated how the Trump administration should handle federal climate science reports.

The memo presented three options without endorsing any of them: conducting a” red squad/ blue team” exert to” highlight uncertainties in climate science “; more formally reviewing the social sciences under the Administrative Procedure Act; or deciding to only” ignore, and not seek to characterize or question, the science were carried out in Federal agencies and outside entities .”

In short, the White House considered’ debating’ established climate science, casting doubt on scientists’ conclusions, or just ignoring them. Accepting and/ or acting in the conclusions of the scientific experts is not an option they’re willing to consider.

Katharine Hayhoe (@ KHayhoe)

So according to this memo, the administration considered 3 options–( 1) framing reality as being up for debate;( 2) developing their own opinion of reality; or( 3) dismis reality–and went with option 3.

Interesting that “accepting reality” was not an option. https :// t.co/ ejqBOEa0B 0

May 24, 2018

Climate denial is very expensive

Meanwhile, a newspaper published in Nature last week concluded that limiting global warming to 1.5 degC above pre-industrial temperatures would save more than $20 tn as compared to a temperature of 2degC. The carbon pollution cuts needed to achieve the 1.5 degC target would cost about $300 bn more than efforts to meet 2degC. In other words, the economic benefits of the more aggressive target would outweigh its costs by a factor of about 70 -to-1.

Current international climate policies will merely limit global warming to about 3-3. 5degC global warming, and America’s policies are” critically insufficient “~ ATAGEND to meet either the 2degC or 1.5 degC targets. Under the Trump administration, the US has no plans to try and cut its carbon pollution, and in fact the administration has been taking every possible step to undo established climate policies and increase pollution from the coal and oil industries, even though global warming will especially hurt Trump country.

Basically, taking aggressive action to curb global warming would save the world a lot of money, and it would especially benefit the economies in southern, conservative nations. But it wouldn’t be good for the fossil fuel industry, and the Trump administration has prioritized short-term corporate profits above all else, including American welfare and lives.

Ignoring experts is stupid

There’s a 97% expert consensus that humans are causing global warming, and the scientific research is clear that the consequences of continued rapid climate change could be devastating for the economy and for all species on Earth.

The case for the Trump administration approach- ignoring and casting doubt on the conclusions of climate science experts- is that of a bad gambler. It’s not a 100% consensus; perhaps the less than 3% of climate contrarians are onto something. Perhaps the experts are wrong and climate change won’t be so bad.

If the stakes were something inconsequential like a Trump steak, that would be fine, but it should go without saying that betting the future of humanity and life on Earth on a less than 3% long shot is a bad idea. The stakes could not is greater. Prudent risk management dictates that we should be taking serious steps to mitigate the chances of such a disastrous outcome. That’s why Americans buy home and auto and health insurance. It’s why fewer than 17% of Americans today are smokers, down from 42% in 1965.

Saving the Republican Party

Not merely is global warming denial terrible policy, but it’s bad for the long-term health of the Republican Party. There’s a climate change generation gap– most young Americans realize that humans are causing global warming, and young conservatives want their leaders to do something about it. Climate change impacts will only become more severe over day, and today’s youth know that they’ll have to live with the results of our actions today. They simply can’t afford denial, and the GOP hazards losing these voters forever by willfully dismissing the problem that poses an existential menace to young Americans.

There are a few glimmers of hope in the party. Trump’s new Nasa administrator now accepts climate science. Eight House Republicans signed a letter to leaders of the Appropriations Committee urging them to reject any provisions in the 2019 spending bill that would undermine efforts to combat climate change. The conservative Climate Leadership Council proposed a free market, small government, revenue-neutral carbon tax ready to go as soon as the GOP can elect a leadership that’s willing to make a great climate change deal.

But right now the GOP is still stuck being, as Governor Bobby Jindal( R-LA) describing him five years ago,” the stupid party .” Its leadership won’t even consider the possibility that 97% of climate science experts are right. That denial is going to be very expensive, and as Americans increasingly accept the realities of climate change, it will also land the GOP on the endangered species list.

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How cruise ships bring agonising death to last Greek whales

Government promises action on crashes to avoid carnage on busy shipping routes

In an office up a steep hill in a seaside suburbium of Athens, a tiny blue light flickers from a computer terminal. Dr Alexandros Frantzis, Greece’s foremost oceanographer, phases it out. The illumination, he says, tracks marine traffic” in real time “.

It is key to saving one of the world’s most endangered whale populations.

” It logs the position, course and velocity of a ship entering Greek waters ,” he tells.” And that is vital to mapping shipping densities in areas populated by sperm whales .”

Frantzis has expended nearly a one-quarter of a century examining marine mammals. His desk, like his small Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute, is testimony to a passion that has helped transform understanding of dolphins, porpoises and whales in a country where little was known about marine life scarcely two decades ago.

Shelves are stacked high with the bones of sea mammals big and small. The remains of a sperm whale’s lower jaw are propped against a wall up his back office. And in a room beyond, the skeletons of two whales- gargantuan, crusty and yellow- lie neatly assembled across the floor.

” Greece’s marine environment is very rich in species ,” tells Frantzis.” In antiquity cetaceans were taken very seriously. Aristotle wrote the first scientific study, his Historia Animalium , about them. You could tell Greeks are the first and the last to come to the field, which is why urgent measures are being taken .”

Sperm whales are the focus of Frantzis’s latest campaign. Although prevalent in other oceans there are fewer than 300 in Greek water, their largest habitat in the eastern Mediterranean.

Like marine mammals in most places, the whales face a multitude of threats, from entanglement in fishing nets to ingestion of plastic waste.

In Greece there is the added danger of noise pollution from Nato warships conducting underwater sonar drills- exercisings blamed for disorienting whales reliant on their own sort of sonar to navigate and hunt.

Seismic surveys, in accordance with the discovery of underwater hydrocarbons, also pose a threat.

But Frantzis tells the biggest danger to local cetaceans is the chance of colliding with a ship. He singles out the water off the western Peloponnese, an area where whales swarm but one of the busiest roads for shipping.

Last month a nine-metre whale washed up on a beach in Santorini, the latest in a series of strandings. Frantzis now has a large white bone- one of its teeth- on his desk.

For sperm whales, death by collision is by far the most painful, he claims, with propellers often leaving the animals torn and gashed.

” We don’t know how this latest incident resulted ,” he sighs, dispelling reports that huge amounts of plastic had been found in the mammal’s digestive tract.” But what we do know is that at the least one whale every year is killed as a result of a ship ten-strike. It’s a death rate the species in these portions cannot survive .”

Conservationists are saying that if shipping lanes were routed farther offshore, the risk of ship strikes would fell dramatically.

” Sperm whales like waters off steep underwater gradients but unfortunately the Hellenic trench off the Peloponnese is also the direct route for ships moving parallel to the coast ,” the British marine mammal scientist Russell Leaper told the Observer .

Dead
A dead whale washed up on a Greek beach- injuries from a large ship’s propeller are obvious. Photo: Dr Alexandros Frantzis/ Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute

” The solution would be to move ships a little bit offshore into deeper water less favoured by whales ,” he said from the Scottish island of Coll, where he was find minke whales and dolphins last week. A marine mammal expert with the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Leaper has spent more than 20 years analyzing ship ten-strikes and says that in Greek oceans they account for more than 60% of whale demises although most, he adds, go unreported and unrecorded.

Greece is not alone. The southern tip-off of Sri Lanka- one of the world’s busiest shipping routes- represents a similar danger for the blue whale population.

Environmentalists have won unexpected support from the shipping industry. The International Maritime Organization, recognise their own problems, has drawn up guidelines.

Earlier this month, the International Whaling Commission exhorted the Greek government to take action, saying scientific proof showed that ship ten-strikes needed to be tackled.

” There are times when whales have been caught in the bow of a ship with half a tail ripped off ,” Leaper says.” Sometimes you get a body that shows no external meanders but the bones have been crushed. In all cases it is a very horrible route to die .”

Prime pastor Alexis Tsipras’s leftist-led coalition is expected to submit proposals to the IMO to reroute shipping lanes the summer months. Frantzis and his squad have helped identify water that are prone to ship strikes because of the overlap of high densities of whales. Much of their studies has been based on mathematical analysis conducted by Leaper, who believes shifting traffic five miles farther offshore would suffice. He also quotes the example of approaches being altered to the Panama canal and off the shores of the California.

” For a cruise liner running at 20 knots, that[ five miles] would add 15 minutes to the entire journey ,” he says.” It’s a pressing preservation and welfare problem and very easy to solve. Greece has the opportunity to come forward with proposals that will help resolve this, and might also help other countries come forward as well .”

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Police in south India accused of mass murder after shooting dead protesters

Eleven people protesting over pollution from a copper plant have been killed by police in Tamil Nadu in south India

Another person has been shot dead during violent protests in south India against a copper plant operated by a British mining giant residents say is polluting the local environment.

Opposition legislators in the state of Tamil Nadu have accused the police of perpetrating mass murder against protesters opposed to the expansion of a copper smelting facility in the port city of Thoothukudi.

Ten people were shot dead and about 80 wounded by police after crowds set fire to vehicles and pelted officers with stones on Tuesday. Another man, identified by Indian media as a 23 -year-old named Kaliappan, was killed in further protests on Wednesday.

The Madras high court ordered a halting to the expansion of the 400,000 -tonne facility in response to the unrest, and ordered authorities to hold public hearings before granting environmental acceptance to the construction.

The smelter, operated by an Indian subsidiary of London-based Vedanta Resources, has been repeatedly shut down over pollution objections and was penalty PS10m in 2013 for violating environmental norms and operating without the consent of the state pollution board.

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Nine pollution protesters killed in India after police open fire- video report

The same year, activists allege a gas leak from the plant left hundreds with inhaling difficulties, nausea and throat infections.

Residents and environmentalists have been protesting for the past three months against plans to doubled the capacity of the copper plant that they say is polluting the air and fisheries around the site.

Sterlite Copper, the Indian subsidiary that owns the plant, says the facility operates” within all the specified parameters” and blamed the unrest on” nefarious components “.

Outrage over the security forces killings grew on Wednesday, and was fuelled by a video indicating a plainclothes police officer boarding a bus and firing his rifle at protesters. A voice could be heard in the background telling:” At least one should die .”

MK Stalin, leader of the main Tamil Nadu opposition party, the DMK, said police were guilty of atrocities.

” Mass assassination of innocent people ,” he tweeted on Wednesday.” Who ordered the police firing on protesters? Why were automatic weapons used to disperse the crowd and under what law is this permitted ?”

Rahul Gandhi, the national leader of the opposition Congress party, has called the deaths” a brutal instance of state-sponsored terrorism “.” These citizens were murdered for protesting against injustice ,” he said.

P Mahendran, superintendent of Thoothukudi district police, said 18 policemen were also wounded in the clashes.” The situation is tense but under control today ,” he told.” The postmortem on the bodies is being conducted and they will be handed over to families today .”

The plant, about 375 miles( 600 km) south of Tamil Nadu’s state capital Chennai, is currently shut as the company awaits a licence to expand the site.

The protesters had set ablaze the local administrator’s office after they were denied permission to hold a rally at the plant.

Police said efforts to disperse the crowd of many thousands of with a baton charge and teargas volleys failed before authorities use live ammunition.

Tamil Nadu chief minister, Edappadi K Palaniswami, ordered the judicial inquiry into the shootings but defended the police.

” The police had to take action under unavoidable circumstances to protect public life and property as the protesters resorted to repeated violence ,” he said.

The families of each victim would be offered 1 million rupees( PS11, 000) compensation, he added.

A spokeswoman for Vedanta Resources said it had witnessed the deaths at the protest” with great sorrow and regret “.” The company is working with the relevant authorities to ensure the safety of our employees, facilities and the surrounding community ,” she said.

Tamil Nadu is one of India’s most prosperous and industrialised nations but, as elsewhere in the country, environmental regulations are routinely breached and poorly policed.

Thoothukudi was also the site of violent protests in 2012 over a nuclear power plant in neighbouring Kudankulam district that left person or persons dead.

Agence France-Press contributed to this report

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Illegal online sales of endangered wildlife rife in Europe

Exclusive: Study observes 12,000 items worth$ 4m, including tusk, live orangutans and a large number of reptiles and birds for the pet trade

The online sale of endangered and threatened wildlife is rife across Europe, a new investigation has disclosed, ranging from live cheetahs, orangutans and bears to ivory, polar bear scalps and many live reptiles and birds.

Researchers from the International Fund for Animal Welfare( Ifaw) spent six weeks tracking adverts on 100 online marketplaces in four countries, the UK, Germany, France and Russia. They find more than 5,000 adverts offering to sell nearly 12,000 items, worth$ 4m( PS3m) in total. All the specimens were species in which trade is restricted or banned by the global Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species.

Wildlife groups have worked with online marketplaces including eBay, Gumtree and Preloved to cut the trade and the results of the survey are an improvement compared to a previous Ifaw report in 2014. In March, 21 technology giants including Google, eBay, Etsy, Facebook and Instagram became part of the Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online, and committed to bring the online illegal trade in threatened species down by 80% by 2020.

” It is great to see we are stimulating genuinely significant inroads into interrupting and dismantling the trade ,” told Tania McCrea-Steele at Ifaw.” But the scale of the trade is still enormous .”

Almost 20% of the adverts were for tusk and while the number had dropped significantly in the UK and France, a surge was seen in Germany, where merchants developed new code words to mask their marketings.” It is a war of attrition and we are capable of never let our guard down ,” said McCrea-Steele. The UK is implementing a stricter ban on ivory sales and the EU is under pressure from African nations to follow suit.

Reptiles for the pet trade were the single biggest group, attaining up 37% of the adverts, with live turtles and tortoises being sold in large numbers. Jeopardized birds were also common, attaining up 31% of the adverts. Parrots were the most frequently advertised, but nearly 500 owls and 350 birds of prey is likewise offered.

Most of the adverts of large, live animals were found in Russia, where big cats or bears are regarded by some as status emblems. Leopards, cheetahs and jaguars were all offered for sale in Russia, as were more than 130 live primates, including orangutans, lemurs and gibbons.

However, seven live primates were also may be in UK adverts and one live bear advert was found in Germany. More commonly offered for sale in the UK were big cat skins from lions, tigers and leopards, as well as polar bear skins.

Some endangered species can be legally traded, for example if they are bred in captivity. But it is often difficult to tell which marketings are legal, as few adverts provide sufficient information, such as credential numbers.” The legal trade can serve as cover for the illegal trade ,” cautioned McCrea-Steele.

The Ifaw researchers selected 327 of the adverts that appeared most clearly illegal and have shared the information with law enforcement authorities. McCrea-Steele said that online wildlife trading has become big business:” I have seen investigations where enforcers walk into a room of someone they have identified as trading online and they have floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall animal body parts- rooms of death, which are deeply disturbing .”

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Our laws make slaves of nature. Its not just humans who need rights | Mari Margil

For decades our laws have been a licence to destroy the environment. Now, from the Amazon to Australia, the tide is turning, says the campaigner Mari Margil

The Amazon rainforest is often called the earth’s lungs, and generates 20% of the world’s oxygen. Yet in the past half-century nearly a fifth of it has been cut down. The felling and burning of millions of trees is releasing massive amounts of carbon, in turn depleting the Amazon’s capacity to be one of the world’s largest carbon sinks– the natural systems that suck up and store carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere.

Recently, 25 infants brought a lawsuit to objective the deforestation and its devastating impacts on the environment and their own wellbeing. The case induced its route to Colombia’s supreme court, which issued its decision last month. While deforestation is hardly a new issue in this region, the court’s response to the lawsuit surely was. Commenting that environmental degradation- not only in the Amazon but worldwide- is so significant that it threatens” human existence”, the court declared the Colombian Amazon a” subject of rights “.

In 1972 the law professor Christopher Stone published a seminal article, Should Trees Have Standing ?~ ATAGEND, that explored the possibility of recognising the legal rights of nature. He described how women and slaves have all along been been treated as rightless in statute, and suggested that just as they had eventually attained rights, so trees and other nonhuman living thing should also do so.

illegal
The poisoned scenery left left by an illegal goldmine in the Amazon forest. Photo: Mario Tama/ Getty Images

Today, environmental laws govern the human use and demolition of nature. They legalise fracking, drilling, and even dynamiting the tops off mountains to mine coal. The repercussions are proving catastrophic: the die-off crisis of the world’s coral reefs, accelerating species extinction, climate change. Finally, though, this is changing. In 2006 the first statute recognising the legal rights of nature was enacted in the borough of Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, in the United States. The community sought to prevent dredging sludge laden with PCBs( polychlorinated biphenyl ) being dumped in an deserted coalmine. The organisation I work for, the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, helped the council draft the law, transforming nature from being rightless to possessing rights to exist and flourish. It was the first such law in the world. Communities across more than 10 US countries have now followed suit, including New Hampshire, Colorado and Pittsburgh.

After the decision to grant legal rights to nature in Pennsylvania, representatives of my organisation satisfied Ecuador’s constituent assembly in 2008, which was elected to draft a new constitution. We discussed the rights of nature, and why communities all over the world find themselves unable to protect nature under statutes that authorise its exploitation. The assembly’s chairperson, Alberto Acosta, told us:” Nature is a slave .”

However, that year Ecuador enshrined the rights of nature- or Pachamama ( Mother Earth)- in its constitution, the first country to do so. Since then Bolivia has put in place a Law of Mother Earth. Tribunals in India and Colombia have similarly ruled that ecosystems possess rights. In Mexico, Pakistan, Australia and other countries, rights-of-nature frameworks are being proposed and enacted.

Colombia’s supreme court was asked to consider the climate-change impacts of Amazon deforestation in the lawsuit that led to its groundbreaking ruling. Similarly, in Nepal the US-based Center for Economic and Social Development is working to advance rights to safeguard against climate change. The Himalayas- known as the world’s third pole- are experiencing warming faster than any other mountain range on earth. With the melting of ice and snowfall, a Sherpa told us,” the mountains are turning black “. But now a constitutional amendment has been developed that would, if adopted, recognise the rights of the Himalayas to a climate system free from global-warming pollution. It would for the first time offer a platform for Nepal to hold major climate polluters accountable for transgressing the rights of the mountains.

Law today divides the world into two categories: people, capable of having rights; and property, unable to possess rights. While “were not receiving” universally agreed upon definition of” legal person”, it is generally understood to mean an entity capable of bearing rights and duties. The problem that the rights-of-nature movement is now encountering is that this definition is predictably problematic when it comes to rivers, woods or nature more broadly.

In 2017, for example, the country high court in Uttarakhand, India, ruled that in order to protect the Ganges and Yamuna rivers, they should be considered legal persons with” all corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person “. In a subsequent appeal to India’s supreme court, the nation government asked whether, if the rivers inundate, leading to the death of every human being, a lawsuit could be filed for damages. Could the Uttarakhand chief secretary of state, named by the court as one of several officials in loco parentis , be liable on the river’s behalf? In this case, the supreme court decided not.

Can we hold a river accountable for flooding, or a woodland for burning? Of course not. Yet existing legal systems force us to think of nature in terms of human concerns rather than what concerns nature. With the past three years the warmest in recorded history, and as we face what has been called the sixth great extinction, lawmakers and judges appear increasingly to agree that it is time to secure the highest form of legal protection for nature, through the recognition of rights.

To make progress in this area, “were supposed to” break free from legal strictures that were never intended to apply to nature, such as legal personhood, and establish a new structure that addresses what nature wants. Perhaps we can call this framework legal naturehood. A recent symposium at Tulane Law School, in New Orleans , brought together academics, lawyers and activists to develop a set of guidelines for recognising and enforcing legal rights of nature, known as the rights-of-nature principles.

These define the basic rights that nature requires, including rights to existence, regeneration and restoration. Further, they call for monetary damages derived from violations of these rights to be used solely to protect and restore nature to its pre-damaged country. In addition, they outline a means for nature to defend its own rights- like children unable to speak for themselves in court- by being the named” real party in interest” in administrative and court proceedings. The principles build on laws and judicial decisions that have begun to accumulate in this new region of law, laying the groundwork for what legal naturehood could look like.

As daily headlines tell us how we are tearing holes in the very fabric of life on globe, it is time to make a fundamental shift in how we govern ourselves towards nature- before, as Colombia’s supreme court wrote, it’s too late.

* Mari Margil is associate director of the US-based Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund

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Journalists barred from EPA summit on harmful water contaminants

The Associated Press, CNN and the environmental-focused news organization E& amp; E were barred by the EPA from Scott Pruitts event

Journalists from national news organizations were barred from a summit in Washington on harmful water contaminants on Tuesday, convened by the embattled environmental protection bureau( EPA) chief, Scott Pruitt. One reporter was manhandled out of the building.

Pruitt is already engulfed in a scandal over his use of taxpayer fund and closenessto lobbyists, actions he has been obliged to defend in a string of congressional hearings in recent weeks, amid calls for him to discontinue or be fired. He is being investigated for possible federal ethics violations including spending for round-the-clock security guards, first-class plane tickets and a $43,000 soundproof telephone booth.

The ethics problems have added to the dispute around his stewardship of the EPA, where he has been pushingto unwind many environmental protections.

On Tuesday Pruitt told a national summit on water quality that dealing with contaminants is” their own nationals priority “.

But the Associated Press( AP) news organisation, TV cable news giant CNN and the environmental-focused news organization E& E were barred by the EPA from attending the event, the AP reported.

An EPA spokesman, Jahan Wilcox, told the barred organizations they were not invited and there was no space for them, but dedicated no indication of why they specifically were barred, the AP said on Tuesday.

Guards barred an AP reporter from passing through a security checkpoint inside the event premises. When the reporter asked to speak to an EPA public affairs representative, the security guards grabbed the reporter by the shoulders and shoved her forcibly out of the EPA building, the AP said.

It was the latest incident to dog Pruitt’s time as head of the EPA in the Trump administration.

He drew scrutiny from lawmakers earlier this month after EPA emails were released showing that relevant agencies had intervened in the publication of a new government study on certain contaminants.

Politico reported that the EPA and the White House sought to block publication of a federal health analyse on a nationwide water-contamination crisis.

The relevant chemicals are perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl, which are used in some nonstick coatings, in firefighting foam and elsewhere. The chemicals can cause developmental defects and some other serious health problems and the authorities say the contaminants are present in dangerous levels in some water systems, including several near military basis and industrial sites.

Pruitt described questions from both sides of the aisle last week after emails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act revealed an unidentified White House official calling a pending federal toxicological report on the chemical problem a” potential public-relations nightmare “.

The emails also exposed EPA officials intervening in the release of the study, which remains unpublished.

Politicians, including prominent Republican, have called for the study to be released.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, a former California governor, tweeted:” I’m a simple guy, so I have a simple remedy when people like Pruitt ignore or hide pollution: if you don’t have a problem with Americans drinking contaminated drinking water, drink it yourself until you tap out or resign .”

Pruitt, formerly the Republican attorney general of Oklahoma who was known forrepeatedly suing the Obama administration to curb environmental protection statutes, invited what the EPA told were 200 people to Tuesday’s Washington session on the chemicals.

The people attending represented countries, tribes, the chemical industry and other sectors, along with some environmental representatives.

” It’s clear this issue is a national priority ,” Pruitt told, opening the session.

He pledged to start work toward establishing a legal maximum limit for the contaminants in drinking water systems.

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Cougar kills one mountain biker and injures another in Washington state

Mountain lion is tracked and killed after second biker called 911 and screamed: Can you hear me? Assistance!

A mountain lion killed one mountain biker and mauled another in Washington state on Saturday when they ride into its territory. State officials afterward tracked the animal and shot it dead, police told.

The mountain bikers were riding together down a remote, backwoods trail at 11 am local time in an area near North Bend, Washington state, around 30 miles( 48 km) east of Seattle, when the they encountered the animal.

In the ensuing assault, the first rider received deep scratches and the other was dragged away by the puma to its den, King county sheriff spokesman Sergeant Ryan Abbot said.

The 31 -year-old survivor rode two miles out of the area and called 911.

KIRO-TV reported that the injured man called 911 shortly before 11 am and hollered:” Can you hear me? Help !” and then the bellow hung up.

Police drove up the road, find the victim’s bike and went into the woods where they came across the cougar standing over the victim’s body, Abbott said.

” He or she, I don’t know if the puma was a male or female, had the body of the victim down in his den ,” told Ryan.

A deputy took a shot at the animal, sending it fleeing into the woods. Officers of the state fish and game department tracked the cat with dogs and killed it, Abbott said.
The surviving cyclist was taken to hospital in Seattle with serious but none-life-threatening traumata, he told.

Fatal cougar attacks are extremely rare in North America, with only about two dozen are available in the last 100 years, the majority of members of them involving children.

It was only the second deadly assault by a mountain lion in Washington state in the last 100 years, Abbott told.

Cougars are the fourth largest cat species worldwide, with adult females weighing up to 141 pounds( 64 kgs) and males weighing as much as 220 pounds( 100 kgs ).

They attack prey by ambush and usually attack humen only if cornered.

Reuters and Associated Press contributed to this report .

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UK taken to Europe’s highest court over air pollution

European court of justice can enforce multimillion euro penalties if the UK and five other countries do not address the problem

The UK and five other nations have been referred to Europe’s highest court for failing to tackle illegal high levels of air pollution.

The European court of justice( ECJ) has the power to impose multimillion euro fines if the countries do not address the problem swiftly. The nations – the UK, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Romania – had been given a final warning by the European commission in January. Toxic air results in more than 400,000 early deaths across Europe each year.

Levels of nitrogen dioxide, largely produced by diesel vehicles, have been illegally high since 2010 in the vast majority of urban areas in the UK. The government’s latest plan in 2017 was denounced as ” woefully inadequate” by city leaders and “inexcusable” by doctors.

Ministers were forced by UK courts to improve the plan in February, after losing in the high court for the third time to environmental lawyers ClientEarth, and have until the end of 2018 applied by the stricter measures.

” We have waited a long time and we cannot perhaps wait any longer ,” told Karmenu Vella, European commissioner for surrounding.” We have said that this commission is one that protects. Our decision follows through on that claim. It is my conviction that today’s decision will lead to improvements for citizens on a much quicker timescale .”

The six member states had failed to deliver” believable, effective and timely measures to reduce pollution as soon as is practicable, as required under EU law”, a statement from the commission said. In contrast, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Spain delivered sufficient new measures after being given a final warning in January.

ClientEarth CEO, James Thornton, told:” On top of our three successful cases, today’s legal action from the European committee is more damning evidence of the mountain the UK government still has to climb to bring air pollution to within legal limits .”

The World Health Organisation’s director of public health, Dr Maria Neira, told new importance was need to tackle air pollution:” While air pollution knows no borders and sets everyone at risk, those most vulnerable- pregnant women, children, the elderly, those already ill or poor- are particularly affected .”

In the UK, Greenpeace’s Rosie Rogers said:” Ministers’ apathy on this issue in so far has been nothing short of a dereliction of duty.[ Environment secretary] Michael Gove should swiftly come up with a clear plan to tackle the diesel vehicles responsible for most roadside toxic pollution and an outright prohibit on the sale of petrol, diesel vehicles and vans from 2030.”

A spokesman for the UK environment department said:” We continue to meet EU air quality restrictions for all pollutants apart from NO2, and data depicts we are improving thanks to our efforts to bring high levels of NO2 down. We will shortly build on our PS3. 5bn plan to tackle roadside emissions with a comprehensive clean air strategy .”

Air pollution from NO2 causes an estimated 23,500 early deaths every year in the UK. The UN’s special rapporteur on pollution said in September that the UK government was ” flouting” its duty to protect the lives and health of its citizens. The problem was declared a public health emergency by a cross-party committee of MPs in 2016.

The government’s own research shows clean air zones( CAZs ), in which vehicles are deterred from city centres by pollution charges, are by far the most effective solution to air pollution. But pastors refused to attain them compulsory, instead constructing them a voluntary and last-resort alternative for local authorities.

The European legal occurrence now moves to the ECJ, which will hold a hearing within months. If it proclaims the UK in breach of its legal responsibility, the UK gets a period of time to resolve the situation. If it does not, the court can then enforce large fines.

The UK is leaving the EU but it is currently unclear when the ECJ’s jurisdiction over the UK would aim, given the transition period already concurred. It is a risk that the UK will remain bound by ECJ decisions after Brexit, depending on the bargain reached.

Also on Thursday, in the continuing fall-out from the Volkswagen dieselgate scandal, the European committee issued renewed warnings to the UK, Germany, Italy and Luxembourg over their alleged failure to” have effective and dissuasive penalty systems in place to deter car manufacturers from breaking the law “. The nations have two months to reply to prevent action from being escalated.

Elzbieta Bienkowska, industry commissioner told:” We will only succeed in fighting urban air pollution if the car sector plays its part. Manufacturers that maintain disregarding the law have to bear the consequences of their wrongdoing .”

Keith Taylor, Green party MEP for south-east England,” Post-Brexit, this is exactly the kind of scrutiny and oversight matters the Tories plan to escape. Proposals for a so-called environment watchdog that is nothing but a lame lapdog put this reality in sharp relief .”

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‘Incredible’ bioluminescence gives California coastline an eerie blue glow

An unusual algal bud, known as a red tide, has drawn many to the beach in the hopes of witnessing the stunning spectacle

A dense bloom of bioluminescent algae off the coast of southern California has lit up the Pacific Ocean with an eerie and fantastical neon blue light, sending photographers and spectators to the beach at night in hopes of witnessing the natural phenomenon.

The algal bud, also known as a red tide, was observed this week lighting up the waves along a 15 -mile stretch of coastline.

” Bioluminescence happens all the times, merely not at that level” said Dr James M Sullivan, a bioluminescence researcher at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute.” This is an incredible one .”

It is not known how long the current display will last. In September 2013, the last day San Diego assured a red tide, the conditions lasted for a week. Other red tides have been known to last for a month or even longer.

The
The glowing coastline seen from Torrey Pines state beach in San Diego, California. Photograph: Alexander S Kunz/ Getty Images

According to Michael Latz of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, the present red tide is made up of dinoflagellates, including one- Lingulodinium polyedra – that is well known for bioluminescent displays. The sheer concentration of tiny organisms constructs the water seem reddish during the day day. But the real display occurs at night, when any physical disturbance, like the motion of a wave, causes the organisms to emit light.

Dinoflagellates are basically tiny plants that they are able swimming, Sullivan explained. Like any plant, they require certain conditions( nutrients, sunlight, hot) to prosper, and when the conditions are right, its own population can explosion, creating a massive bloom.

Sullivan compared the process by which the organisms make illuminate to glow sticks, which contain two chemicals that create a fluorescent incandescence when mixed. Similarly, dinoflagellates contain an enzyme and a protein that, when disturbed, blend and release a quick flashing of sunlight. Each wave or passing fish, he told, is” just like violating a light stick “.

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