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If Ben & Jerry's Is Progressive, Why Won't It Protect Its Farmworkers?

Truthout - Mon, 07/03/2017 - 07:38

In December of 2009, a young farmworker named José Obeth Santiz Cruz was killed on the job in Fairfield, Vermont after his clothes got caught in a mechanized gutter scraper. Cruz's tragic death led to the creation of Migrant Justice, an organization demanding human rights for migrant farmworkers in the state.

Five years later, Migrant Justice approached Ben & Jerry's, the popular Vermont-based ice cream company, and invited them to join their 'Milk with Dignity' program' program, a movement of farmworkers and activists that calls on companies to put an end to rampant industry abuses. Despite Ben & Jerry's progressive reputation and stated commitment to social causes, the company has so far declined to formally sign on to a grassroots initiative led by some of the most exploited workers in the state.

Now, Vermont farmworkers are escalating their campaign, building from years of organizing in an industry fraught with abuses. The Milk with Dignity campaign was birthed after years of movement dialogue and research, including the release of a survey showing that 40 percent of Vermont farmworkers earn less than minimum wage.

Vermont farmworkers worked directly with the Florida-based Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to construct a campaign capable of taking on large companies, including businesses that have cultivated a progressive image. The CIW spearheaded an internationally recognized anti-slavery campaign, which has liberated more than 1,200 farmworkers from bondage in the United States.

In 2010, the CIW forced the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange to adopt farmworkers' 'Fair Food Program,' which covered more than 30,000 workers. According to a joint press release from the two organizations, the agreement "[includes] a strict code of conduct, a cooperative complaint resolution system, a participatory health and safety program, and a worker-to-worker education process -- to over 90 percent of the Florida tomato industry."

CIW's strategy has already borne some fruit for Migrant Justice. In May of 2015, Ben & Jerry's agreed to work with Migrant Justice in implementing the Milk with Dignity program in their supply chain.

However, the ice cream giant has yet to officially endorse the agreement. Migrant Justice's Will Lambek told In These Times that, while both sides are unable to speak publicly about the contract negotiations, he can confirm that Migrant Justice is talking with Ben & Jerry's frequently. Lambek says he is optimistic about the process, but he pointed out that his organization is prepared to do "whatever we can, whatever it takes to get Ben & Jerry's to support this campaign."

That meant standing outside of Ben & Jerry's locations on April 4, during the company's Free Cone Day, and passing out information about the campaign. The following week, activists protested outside of a Ben & Jerry's board meeting in South Burlington. "To get those last things resolved, we have this whole organization to go through, and it's not easy," said Ben & Jerry's board director Jeff Furman after listening to dairy workers speak. "But there's a lot of understanding and concern for the workers' struggle."

Most recently, on the two-year anniversary of Ben & Jerry's unfulfilled commitment to Milk with Dignity, Migrant Justice organized a 13-mile march from Vermont's State House to Ben & Jerry's factory. In addition to being the place where the company's famous ice cream is made, Lambek pointed out the city is also a big tourist attraction in Vermont, making it an ideal location to inform consumers about the issue.

One of the marchers is farmworker Enrique Balcazar. Prior to the action, he wrote a piece for Civil Eats describing his first job in Vermont, after moving to the state from Mexico at the age of 17:

The farmer had me working 12 to 15 hours a day, with no day off. At the end of my first week, my body aching from over 80 hours of hard labor, I received my first paycheck and couldn't believe what I saw: $350, or just over $4 per hour. At that time, I had no idea what the minimum wage was, but I knew that it wasn't fair pay for the work I had done. But when I tried to express my frustration to the farm owner, he simply told me that's how much the job paid.

A few months after coming to Vermont, organizers with Migrant Justice visited my farm and invited me to a community assembly, where I joined 30 other farmworkers in sharing food and swapping stories about abusive work conditions just like mine. I was happy to find my community, but angry to find out that we were all suffering. Then and there, I decided to get involved in the fight for my rights.

Workers like Balcazar appear to be taking considerable risks to fight this battle in a political climate marked by escalated immigration enforcement. Shortly after the Milk with Dignity campaign was announced, Balcazar was detained by ICE. After 11 days in an immigration jail he was ordered release by a judge. "I'm just one of many farmworker leaders who has been targeted by the President's deportation force for speaking out for my rights," he wrote.

After the march on Ben & Jerry's factory two of the participants, Yesenia Hernandez-Ramos and Esau Peche-Ventura, were arrested and held on immigration charges. They're currently at a detention facility in New Hampshire pending a hearing to determine bond. On June 23, Migrant Justice held a rally calling for their release.

Ben & Jerry's released a statement about the arrests. "We are concerned that hard-working, productive members of our community, who contribute to the success of dairy farms in Vermont, would face criminalization," the company said. "We need policy change that serves Vermont's dairy workers, farmers, and industry as a whole."

Migrant Justice certainly agrees with that sentiment. Now, the organization is urging Ben & Jerry's to put its principles into practice.

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Think Uber's Problems Stop at Its Management and Culture? Think Again

Truthout - Mon, 07/03/2017 - 07:22

In February 2017, Susan Fowler published a blog post detailing the sexual harassment and gender discrimination she experienced during her time as an engineer at Uber, the ride-hailing company. Although this was not the first time that Uber had been accused of creating a workplace where pervasive sexism and discrimination thrive, Fowler's piece struck a chord. It built on a wave of criticism of the company from an earlier public relations disaster -- Uber's missteps following protests of President Trump's racist executive order at John F. Kennedy Airport starting on January 28th and the resulting #DeleteUber campaign -- and emboldened others to report sexual and other misconduct at the company (215 complaints about its corporate workplace have been filed).

While the criticisms levied at Uber are generally applicable to Silicon Valley as a whole, public ire was now focused on Uber, which was having a public relations crisis seemingly every week. The one-time $70 billion-valued private company (five times more valuable than the grocery store Whole Foods, which has 431 supermarkets, and was recently acquired by Amazon) was under immense pressure from even investors too. In response, it agreed to two investigations, both led by law firms. One investigated the workplace complaints that had been lodged against the company, leading to the firing of over 20 employees as well as disciplinary action against others. The second's task was to investigate Uber's corporate culture and develop recommendations to restructure the company to try to address the root causes of the problems. This team was led by former Obama administration Attorney General, and former Uber advisor, Eric Holder.

The report from Holder's team, released a few days ago, came up with 13 pages of recommendations, all of which were adopted by Uber's board of directors. In general, they seek to bring Uber in line with the practices of a company of its size. Some of these are common sense: developing internal controls and processes in a variety of ways, eliminating bias by performing blind reviews, reducing the unusually high amount of power of key executives, giving the board of directors more power, creating oversight and audit committees, using compensation as a carrot and stick, etc. Other recommendations include ensuring that people with children can participate in company events, which is laudable. Where the proposal fails is in its recommendations for changing values and emphasizing diversity, which include training for staff, developing programs to attract qualified diverse candidates, and reforming the list of the company's core values (from something that a frat boy would write to, no doubt, corporate-speak clichés). It also included symbolic changes, like renaming Uber's "War Room," the "Peace Room."

While revamping Uber's structure and setting a bunch of (corporate) priorities might seem like a positive change at the company, it's important to keep a few things in mind. One is that the problems that Uber is facing with regards to its culture and diversity are pervasive in Silicon Valley. Uber might be especially bad in these areas right now, but the typical solutions are unlikely to make much of a difference at the company because they haven't made much of a difference at most tech companies. There are complicated reasons for these failures, and there should be little confidence that these tired and hollow strategies will work.

Another is that Uber is a private company, with control intentionally held closely among certain people, like CEO Travis Kalanick, who is most responsible for Uber's reprehensible culture. As the CEO and founder, he ultimately controls much of what happens at the company, whether the Holder recommendations are adopted, and whether they are taken seriously. The most important result from the Holder investigation -- Kalanick's decision to take leave and take on a supposedly diminished role at the company -- was undoubtedly due to pressure from the investigation but still entirely Kalanick's own decision (and he's still the CEO). Lastly, while the recommendations wisely agreed to use compensation as a way to incentivize and punish managers for transgressions, in practice, out-of-control pay of CEOs and executives, regardless of performance, is a systemic problem among not only tech companies, but companies in general. Kalanick's poor performance as head of Uber should lead to a pay cut, but it likely won't.

Thus, the Holder report might have some good ideas about how Uber could be run better, although it is unlikely that Uber will fundamentally change. (Indeed, at the board of directors meeting to discuss the results of the report, an Uber board member made a sexist remark.) But what this conversation about Uber misses are the more fundamental questions about Uber and its business. The narrative that has emerged about the company since the beginning of this year is that Uber's problems start and stop at its management (specifically, Kalanick) and culture, when they don't.

The Big List of Uber's Controversies is a compendium of the problems and controversies that have plagued the company since its founding in 2009. Many of these are related to the problems the company is very publicly dealing with now; others are not. The goal of the list is to point out that Uber's problems are pervasive and fundamental to the company's operations, yet not necessarily unique to the company (although Uber might be an outlier with regard to how poorly it is managed and structured). To that end, the controversies are divided into six categories: Business Practices; Social Costs; Misuse of Data and Software; Corporate Culture; Passenger Issues; and Driver Issues.

While the 79 controversies and problems currently on the list touch on many different and unique issues, there are themes that give some insight into the inner workings of the company and its problems, and demonstrate that Uber's problems run much deeper than its culture or even the company itself.

  • Uber hemorrhages massive amounts of its investors' money every year and does not have a viable business model, absent major changes in the industry or the creation of a monopoly;
  • Uber's success depends on attracting more investment and growing quickly, as well as anti-competitive practices: it has not created efficiencies or value that would justify its poor financial performance;
  • Uber uses misleading research and fantastic technology forecasts to distract from the dismal failure of its core business, taxi service;
  • Uber has large and sophisticated lobbying, public relations, and research departments, often involving former Obama administration officials, that deliberately misleads (and outright lies to) reporters, investors, regulators, and the public in order to justify and give cover to flagrant violations of the law, defend exploitative conditions, and paper over the problems with its business model;
  • Uber erroneously claims that it is a technology -- not a taxi -- company, and that the business conducted on its platform is "sharing" in order to evade responsibility;
  • Uber has inadequate internal controls for its data and software tools, leading to improper, and possibly illegal, access and use by employees, including to surveil critics and regulators;
  • Uber's growth-at-any-cost mentality and poor management has led to a culture that ignores problems and creates a toxic culture and workplace for its employees -- significantly and negatively impacting its drivers and passengers as well;
  • Uber's past behavior suggests it has a complete disregard for the safety of its drivers and passengers until it is pressured to take action;
  • Uber manipulates its drivers, entices them to enter into exploitative arrangements (including their misclassification as independent contractors), opposes their unionization, and exerts undue influence over their working conditions, consistently lowering their pay; and
  • Uber's operation has significant social costs with implications for public safety, public finance, access for those with disabilities, discrimination, investment in public infrastructure, and the regulated taxi industry as well as the taxi driving occupation.

Recent criticism of Uber is undoubtedly a good thing, but as this list demonstrates, its problems extend far beyond the individuals that run it or its corporate culture. With these problems, the fundamental question should not be whether Uber can reform its workplace culture, or whether Kalanick should stay on as CEO, or if he is overly important to the company. Rather it should be whether Uber, and companies like it, should be tolerated at all. In Uber's case, it is unclear whether it is any better than regulated taxis broadly. Individuals might like Uber's service -- and that's fine, and also to be expected, considering their rides are all subsidized by Uber's investors -- but policy should not cater what certain segments of the population want, especially if they don't understand how the company operates.

Another important point is that Uber's reckless behavior has been tolerated and excused because of its ascending position in the market. But as the clear industry leader today, that is part of the reason why it is now in the crosshairs, even though other ride-hailing companies suffer from some of the same problems as Uber. (Lyft eagerly capitalized on Uber's misfortunes following the JFK protests, for example.) Importantly, they too have not developed ways to be profitable or more efficient than regulated, fleet-based taxis. Even Juno, the supposedly fair and ethical ride-hailing company that gave its drivers equity in its business, sold them out when it was acquired.

So, while some have suggested that the solution is simply to stop using Uber (and, ostensibly, to use competitors like Lyft or Gett), this is no solution at all. The solution is making sure that these companies are subject to the same regulations as traditional taxis, as well as that they comply with labor and other laws, all of which was unsurprisingly absent from the Holder report. This is the innovative idea that is also a solution to many of Silicon Valley's problems, regardless of the industry.

Uber might not be able to survive if it started caring about the safety of its passengers, the exploitation of its drivers, or the social costs it shifts onto the rest of us (it's in trouble already), but maybe it shouldn't. As politicians plot with Silicon Valley to take over public infrastructure and to revamp the fundamental nature of work, maybe Silicon Valley shouldn't either.

Categories: Latest News

It's Raining in Antarctica While Trump Slashes Climate Science Funding

Truthout - Mon, 07/03/2017 - 06:52

In Antarctica, scientists were stunned to find rainfall and a melt area larger than the size of Texas in 2016. (Photo: Echinophoria / Getty Images)

Parts of Antarctica are turning green due to unprecedented moss growth on the ice continent where an area larger than Texas has experienced half a month of continuous surface melt. As President Trump and his administration continue their assault on climate science and scientists, atmospheric CO2 keeps rising to new record levels.

In Antarctica, scientists were stunned to find rainfall and a melt area larger than the size of Texas in 2016. (Photo: Echinophoria / Getty Images)

This Memorial Day I awoke in a tent high on Klahhane Ridge in Washington state's Olympic National Park. With the Strait of Juan de Fuca just to the north, and a sweeping view of Mount Olympus and the rest of the park to the south, the sunset the night before went on for hours.

After the sun set, slivers of red arched across the sky in streaks on the underbellies of a few wispy clouds. That night, the stars were so bright they ran all the way down to the horizons. 

To see more stories like this, visit "Planet or Profit?"

The morning sun found me crawling out of my sleeping bag early. I sat outside eating oatmeal while marveling at the majesty of the park before me. All of the high mountains, including Mount Olympus, were covered in late-spring snow, which covered everything down to 3,000 feet. The grandeur of the wild high country was augmented by the white backdrop.

The sound of rivers and waterfalls was ever-present in the background, and aside from the one road into the park in this area, the land was unscarred. Yet all around the park, logging has left a patchwork of the forest. And now, emboldened by this particularly destructive administration, the loggers want all of these parks. And in time, I fear they will get them. Because they want everything. They are the Earth eaters. 

That day I wondered, will we have a Memorial Day for all the lost, wild places? Will we have a Memorial Day for all the glaciers that used to be here?

Meanwhile, abrupt anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) continues apace.

As President Donald Trump announced the US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] released data showing 2016 saw the biggest annual jump in atmospheric CO2 levels on record, coming in at nearly double the average pace.

NASA announced that April was the second hottest April in the history of record-keeping, and that agency, along with NOAA, released data showing that 2016 was the warmest year on record globally, making 2016 the third year in a row to set a new record for global average surface temperatures.

And the records continue to be broken. NASA data showed May to be the second hottest on record, barely trailing 2016 by one-tenth of a degree, and this was the second-warmest spring on record, again only behind 2016. The first five months of this year make it likely that this will be the second hottest year on record, again only behind last year.

Meanwhile, parts of Antarctica are literally beginning to turn green, as scientists there are finding a four- to five-fold increase in the amount of moss growth on the ice continent's northern peninsula.

Even more stunning news comes from Antarctica in a study published in the June 15 issue of the journal Nature Communications which revealed that over an area of West Antarctica, scientists were stunned to find rainfall and a melt area larger than the size of Texas in 2016.

Yes, it is now raining in Antarctica.

The New York Times published a fantastic interactive piece on the ice continent that is well worth a look, while warm temperatures last fall caused water to breach the entrance of the Arctic's "Doomsday" seed vault, one of humans' last hopes of preserving seeds to survive a global catastrophe.

Meanwhile, Arctic sea ice is disappearing off Alaskan coasts more than a month earlier than normal, and due to congressional budget cuts, the 38-year continuous US Arctic satellite monitoring program is about to end, leaving researchers in the dark about ongoing sea ice losses.

And this May, atmospheric CO2 content set an all-time monthly high when it reached 409.65ppm, according to NOAA data.

Earth

Anthropogenic climate disruption has created stunning major developments in the lives of the Earth's plants and animals over recent weeks.

A recently published paper in the journal Scientific Reports shows how ACD is disrupting the timing of dozens of songbird species. Timing is critical for migratory birds, because if they arrive too late they only get the tail end of the spring's insect supply and have trouble finding nesting spots and mates. On the other hand, if they arrive too early, they will arrive in temperatures colder than they are prepared to deal with. Yet, ACD is causing spring to arrive earlier in eastern US states and later in the west, disrupting the timing of dozens of bird species.

This is threatening the survival of many species that are currently popular in many people's backyards. "The long-term concern is that this growing mismatch can lead to population declines," Stephen Mayor, the study's primary researcher said in an interview.

An interesting thing is happening to trees in the US -- they are moving westward, and nobody seems to know why, aside from the influence of ACD, which scientists say accounts for 20 percent of the reason. One main hypothesis is that the trees are following moisture as it moves westward: The east has been getting less rain, and the great plains are getting more.

Meanwhile, a vast dieback of trees caused by a tiny beetle from southeast Asia that is on track to kill 26.8 million trees across Southern California over the next few years is expected to bring about a human death toll that could reach into the thousands. A recent report cited differences in illnesses and deaths in human populations that live near greenery versus those who do not, and is predicting these ramifications from the widespread tree dieback.

In other parts of the world, ACD-driven extreme weather events and wild temperature swings are predicted to slash major staple crop production (corn, wheat, rice, soybeans) by nearly one-quarter over the upcoming 30 years, according to another report.

In another astounding turn of events, a recently released study showed that in Greenland, so much water and ice rushed through a melting glacier that it literally warmed the Earth's crust. A mass of melting ice the size of 18,000 Empire State Buildings traveled over 15 miles through the Rink Glacier in 2012, a record melting year for the ice sheet.

Eric Rignot, a leading expert on the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet from the University of California, Irvine, recently told Scientific American that in the Arctic, the Greenland Ice Sheet poses the single greatest risk for ocean levels due to the obvious fact that land ice that is melting, like Greenland, is the single biggest cause of rising seas, and that "most of the Arctic's land ice is locked up in Greenland." If the entire Greenland Ice Sheet melted, it would raise sea levels an average of seven meters.

And the consequences of a melting Greenland Ice sheet are far from limited to global sea level rise. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that if the melting is large enough, it could literally change global weather patterns that could result in devastating crops in Africa. In sum, the massive influx of freshwater from the melting ice sheet could disrupt a major ocean current system, which would then dry out the Sahel of Africa. The consequences of this would be devastating agricultural losses as that area's climate shifts, and upwards of tens of millions of people could be forced to migrate out of the area in the worst-case scenario.

And that's not the only place major changes in melting ice are having an impact on the planet.

In Savoonga, Alaska, a village island 164 miles west of Nome in the Bering Sea, the sea ice is arriving later and going out earlier than ever before, and with it, the walruses the natives in the village depend on. "This year it's worse. Unusual. The ice moved out in April," Larry Kava, 76, a tribal and cultural leader in Savoonga, told the Alaska Dispatch News.

Water

Not surprisingly, a recently published study in which researchers looked very closely at cities lining US coasts found that they will flood more often and more severely as ACD progresses. The study warns that cities should brace for much more flooding, from what they refer to as "nuisance" floods that cover streets at high tides, to deluges that kill people and take out vast swaths of infrastructure.

As if to underscore that point, another recent study has found that Earth's oceans are now rising three times as rapidly as they had been throughout much of the last century, showing that sea level rise acceleration is now very much under way.

At the same time, other land-based glaciers and ice fields continue to wither at ever-increasing paces. Recently released data from the USGS and Portland State University showed that ACD has dramatically reduced the size of 39 glaciers across Montana since just 1966. Some of them have been reduced by 85 percent, and on average Montana's glaciers have been reduced by 39 percent, and only 26 of the remaining glaciers are larger than 25 acres, the minimum size threshold used to decide if bodies of ice are large enough to be considered glaciers.

Seeing the writing on the wall, a team of international scientists in Bolivia called the "Ice Memory" expedition is working feverishly to transport samples of ice from a melting glacier there to Antarctica, in order to preserve and study the 18,000 years of climate history embedded within the ice before the glacier disappears completely.

Meanwhile, as oceans continue to warm, global coral bleaching continues apace.

The Australian government's primary aim of protecting the Great Barrier Reef is now no longer achievable due to the dramatic impacts of ACD, according to experts advising that country's governmental advisory committee for the plan. The reef is now likely to become listed as a World Heritage Site in Danger.

The coral bleaching event that struck the Great Barrier Reef this year was recently revealed to have had an escalating impact from north to south, killing 70 percent of all shallow-water corals north of the coastal town of Port Douglas.

Another report has gone so far as to claim that the damage already done to the Great Barrier Reef is so great that the reef is beyond repair and can no longer be saved, at least according to some scientists. This is, they said, because of the "extraordinary rapidity" of ACD, and because roughly 95 percent of the reef has been bleached since 2016.

In the US, NOAA scientists recently warned that US coral reefs are on a course to disappear within just a few decades, and the Chagos Archipelago, a small group of roughly 60 islands in the Indian Ocean, was recently found to also be devastated by ACD impacts. After back-to-back bleaching events in 2015 and 2016, scientists there found approximately 90 percent of the coral in shallow waters to already be dead.

Ocean waters in the tropics are becoming so warm that a leading fisheries expert recently warned that fish are literally abandoning tropical waters.

Meanwhile flooding is progressing apace as extreme rain events continue to happen more frequently. In late May, Sri Lanka was seeing flooding from its most torrential rains since 2003. At least half a million people were impacted, with a death toll of at least 169 according to the Disaster Management Centre.

Another recent report revealed that three-fourths of California's native species and subspecies of salmonids (fish in the salmon family) may be extinct within 100 years, primarily due to ACD impacts and severe degradation of wild river habitats, according to biologists at the University of California, Davis, and the watershed advocacy group California Trout. In their study, "State of the Salmonids II: Fish in Hot Water," the authors warned that climate change impacts and the severe degradation of habitat of wild rivers that continues to this day could extinguish almost half of California's 32 types of native salmon and trout within 50 years.

Fire

There have been several major fires over the last month, many of which affected the US.

Southern California saw a 950-acre wildfire near Big Bear Lake. And in Utah, hundreds of people had to flee a ski town due to a rapidly spreading fire. In Arizona, more than eight structures burned as more than 100 firefighters worked to contain the wildfire amid extreme heat, hot winds and bone-dry vegetation.

In New Mexico, a volunteer fire fighter died from burns, while in Portugal raging wildfires killed at least 62, many of whom died in their cars while trying to flee to safety.

In the US, at the time of this writing, 27,943 wildfires have burned more than 2.5 million acres thus far for 2017.

Air

Methane, a greenhouse gas that is at least 20 times more potent than CO2, is already being released across much of the Arctic at far higher levels than ever recorded.

Hundreds of huge craters (some of which are half a mile wide) were recently discovered in the Arctic Ocean sea floor -- craters that formed after ice sheets melted, allowing trapped methane to blow out. One of the authors of a study on these craters described the event as being like "champagne bottles being opened" -- a phenomenon that could well happen again.

Meanwhile, examples of rapidly escalating global temperatures abound.

A recent study shows that India is now 250 percent more likely to experience deadly heat waves than it was just 50 years ago, and all it took to produce this dramatic change was increasing the average temperature there by just 0.5 Celsius.

In June, a record-breaking heat wave in the Southwestern US affected 40 million people. The heat wave was so intense it cracked pavement, threatened power grids, caused escalated risk of serious injuries and grounded flights. Temperatures reached 127 degrees Fahrenheit in Death Valley, California, the hottest June 20th ever recorded there, and Phoenix saw 119 Fahrenheit. Las Vegas tied its all-time heat record of 117 Fahrenheit (the previous time it saw that kind of heat was just four years ago), and temperature records were set across other parts of Arizona, Nevada and California.

Forty-three flights were grounded in Phoenix when aircraft could not generate enough lift for a safe take-off in thin, low-density super-heated air. By the time of this writing, more than 50 flights had been grounded from the heat.

At one point in Arizona in June, it had never been that hot for that long, in the history of record keeping. For example, in Tucson, a record-setting seven consecutive days of intense heat saw highs above 110 Fahrenheit -- the longest streak of such heat in the city's history.

Also at the time of this writing, at least four people had died from the heat in the Southwest, with that figure expected to rise as the heat wave persisted.

recently released study shows that one-third of the population of the planet now faces deadly heat waves due to ACD, and the number of people in danger will grow to nearly 50 percent by 2100 even if emissions are dramatically reduced before then.

And another recent report warns that ACD is pushing tropical diseases toward the Arctic Circle as the atmosphere continues to warm. This means that rare pathogens from the hotter parts of the planet are already creeping toward the north, and some of these diseases are already appearing near the Arctic.

Denial and Reality

Never a dull moment on the ACD denial front with the Trump administration.

US Energy Secretary (and scientist extraordinaire) Rick Perry said he does not believe CO2 emissions are the primary driver of Earth's warming, hence denying a core finding of ACD science. Instead of CO2 emissions driving warming, Perry claims the driver to be "the ocean waters and this environment we live in."

Trump named a BP oil disaster lawyer, Jeffrey Bossert Clark, who has also repeatedly challenged the science behind US climate policy, as the country's top Department of Justice environmental attorney. Trump's budget request to Congress will also eliminate or shrink core programs the federal government uses to track heat-trapping gases, while 85 percent of the top science jobs in Trump's government remain without a nominee, and the White House thinks the government has been spending too much money on climate science and the new budget from Trump aims to kill "crazy" climate science.

On the reality front, climate scientists are now uniting with lawyers in order to build networks to respond to attempts by the government to subvert their research and threaten them, and a recent poll shows that eight out of 10 people see ACD as a "catastrophic risk."

More news outlets are running stories asking the question of whether or not it makes sense to bring new children into an increasingly climate-disrupted world with a dystopian future that looks more inevitable by the day, and more than 1,400 cities, states and businesses in the US have vowed to meet the Paris climate commitments in the wake of Trump announcing the US withdrawal from the accords.

French President Emmanuel Macron is actively luring US climate researchers to move to France to do their work by offering four-year research grants, staff and coverage of other expenses, and China is now looking to California Gov. Jerry Brown, not Trump, as a partner to work with in mitigating ACD.

Meanwhile, evidence of ACD becoming more abrupt continues to mount. A recently published study shows that ACD-intensified storms over the US Great Plains may well already be eroding the protective ozone layer of Earth's atmosphere, meaning that for starters, the risk of skin cancer and destruction of plants and crops is more likely.

And the final reality check comes in from another recent study that confirmed the planet is already warming 20 times faster than it did during its fastest natural climate change, which occurred when it came out of the last Ice Age.

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Trump's 'Backdoor' Visit to the UK - Global Justice Now Response

Commondreams - Mon, 07/03/2017 - 06:03
Global Justice Now

Responding to the news that President Trump was potentially making a surprise visit to the UK in coming weeks, Nick Dearden the director of Global Justice Now, which is part of the Stop Trump coalition said:

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