‘Green’ colonialism is ruining Indigenous lives in Norway

‘Green’ colonialism is ruining Indigenous lives in Norway

SOURCE: Al Jazeera DATE: August 1, 2020 SNIP: In April this year, wind energy company Eolus Vind broke ground for the Oyfjellet wind plant, a new wind power project in Saepmie, the ancestral lands of the Indigenous Saami people, which stretch across Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. This led to a conflict between the Norwegian authorities, project developers and the Saami reindeer herding community Jillen Njaarke, which reveals the numerous reckless practices behind Europe’s “green” energy transition. The German owners of the Oyfjellet wind project, Aquila Capital, have already made a lucrative deal to supply the power produced by the wind plant to the nearby aluminium smelter by Alcoa. On the project’s website, the developers claim to “promote growth, green industry and green employment through long-term investment in renewable energy”. Considering the effect of their actions on the Jillen Njaarke, their mission statement is not only misleading, but is also covering up the fact that the project is disrupting the sustainable way of living of the Saami community, which protects their land. Research demonstrates that the Saami’s semi-domesticated reindeer avoid grazing in areas where they can see or hear wind turbines. A project such as Oyfjellet would disrupt the migration of reindeer, especially in the winter, when they are often weakened and at risk, particularly pregnant mothers and newborn calves. It is yet another source of distress for the Sami herders and their reindeer, adding to the uncertainties of a rapidly changing climate, increasing pressures on ecosystems and land grabbing. On paper, the Norwegian reindeer herding act should provide legal protection against the blocking of reindeer migration routes, like...
British hedgehog now officially classified as vulnerable to extinction

British hedgehog now officially classified as vulnerable to extinction

SOURCE: Country Living and British Hedgehog Preservation Society DATE: July 30, 2020 SNIP: British hedgehogs are now officially vulnerable to extinction, new research has found. The Red List conservation report, which was conducted by the Mammal Society, explains that the spiky creatures could be at risk of dying out completely if we don’t take drastic action to prevent their numbers dropping. As well as hedgehogs, the research also found that 11 of our 47 native mammals are at risk of extinction, due to historical persecution, a loss of habitat, development and the introduction of non-native species. These include the water vole, hazel dormouse, wildcat and the grey long-eared bat. The BHPS is calling on Government, in the light of this new internationally recognised classification, to increase the protection offered to the hedgehog under the Wildlife and Countryside Act by moving it to schedule 5, allowing the level of protection appropriate for such a keystone species in...
Extra 23 million people could face coastal flooding within 30 years, even with emission cuts

Extra 23 million people could face coastal flooding within 30 years, even with emission cuts

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: July 30, 2020 SNIP: The combined impacts of human-caused sea level rise, storm surges and high tides could expose an extra 23 million people to coastal flooding within the next 30 years, even with relatively ambitious cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, a new global study has found. In a worst-case scenario where emissions continue to rise and no efforts are made to adapt to the rising sea levels, coastal assets worth US$14.2tn – about 20% of global GDP – could be at risk by the end of the century. Rising sea levels caused by global heating that expands the oceans and melts land-based ice could mean that one-in-100-year floods occurring now would become one-in-10-year floods by the end of the century. As much as 4% of the world’s population could be affected by flooding. The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, identified “hotspot” regions at risk of extensive flooding. South-eastern China, Australia’s north, Bangladesh, West Bengal and Gujarat in India were especially at risk. In the United States, North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland were considered to be most exposed, as were the UK, northern France and northern Germany. But the study also shows how the risk of damage from rising sea levels and storm surges will continue to rise even if emissions are kept to a level that would keep the global temperature rise to well below 2C by the end of this century. The new study builds on findings published by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2019 that predicted extreme sea level events could be near annual occurrences by...
Baghdad soars to 125 blistering degrees, its highest temperature on record

Baghdad soars to 125 blistering degrees, its highest temperature on record

SOURCE: Washington Post DATE: July 29, 2020 SNIP: Record high temperatures have been plaguing the Middle East, the mercury soaring to extreme levels during a blistering and unforgiving heat wave. Baghdad surged to its highest temperature ever recorded Tuesday. Tuesday’s preliminary high of 125.2 degrees (51.8 Celsius) in Iraq’s capital city shatters its previous record of 123.8 degrees set on July 30, 2015, for any day of the year. On Wednesday, Baghdad followed up with a temperature of 124 degrees, its second-highest temperature on record. On Monday, it had reached 123 degrees. The crippling heat forced many residents indoors, and street sellers had to seek whatever shade they could find. With the state electricity grid failing, many households were relying on generators to power fridges, fans or air-conditioning units, the machines adding a guttural hum to the city’s already-noisy streets. Two protesters were shot dead by security forces Monday during demonstrations over a lack of electricity and basic services amid the heat wave. In nearby Lebanon, where a nationwide electricity crisis has left much of the country with less than three hours of state-provided power per day, the cost of a generator had doubled, leaving many households to go without. [O]n Wednesday, Damascus, Syria’s capital city, tied its hottest temperature on record, hitting 114.8 degrees (46 Celsius). More near-record temperatures in the 120s are likely Thursday in and around Baghdad before a slight moderation Friday. Highs to round out the week into the weekend should fall back into the upper...
Hundreds of Toxic Superfund Sites Imperiled by Sea-Level Rise

Hundreds of Toxic Superfund Sites Imperiled by Sea-Level Rise

SOURCE: Inside Climate News and Union of Concerned Scientists DATE: July 28, 2020 SNIP: A new study by the Union of Concerned Scientists concludes that more than 800 hazardous Superfund sites near the Atlantic and Gulf coasts are at risk of flooding in the next 20 years, even with low rates of sea level rise. More than 1,000 of the sites, overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency, will be at risk for flooding by 2100 if carbon emissions continue on their current trajectory, triggering high rates of sea level rise, according to the study, which faults the Trump administration for ignoring climate change. Superfund sites, the toxic legacy of industry’s environmental indifference, are the worst of the worst hazardous waste sites that expose millions of people—many in neighborhoods of color and of lower economic status—to hundreds of deadly chemicals. Flooding can increase the chances that these toxins will contaminate nearby land and water, putting communities at risk of adverse health effects. The study, “A Toxic Relationship: Extreme Coastal Flooding and Superfund Sites,” was written by Jacob Carter, a research scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists who began the analysis while working at the EPA. He was forced out of the agency in 2017 when the Trump administration signaled it would no longer prioritize climate change-focused research. Carter started his review in response to a 2015 directive by President Barack Obama aimed at understanding how climate change was exacerbating flooding risks. The Trump Administration revoked the directive in 2017. Carter said that’s when he was essentially shown the door. The UCS study identified flooding at a Superfund site on...
Migratory river fish populations plunge 76% in past 50 years

Migratory river fish populations plunge 76% in past 50 years

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: July 27, 2020 SNIP: Populations of migratory river fish around the world have plunged by a “catastrophic” 76% since 1970, an analysis has found. The fall was even greater in Europe at 93%, and for some groups of fish, with sturgeon and eel populations both down by more than 90%. Species such as salmon, trout and giant catfish are vital not just to the rivers and lakes in which they breed or feed but to entire ecosystems. By swimming upstream, they transport nutrients from the oceans and provide food for many land animals, including bears, wolves and birds of prey. The migratory fish are also critical for the food security and livelihoods of millions of people around the world, while recreational fishing is worth billions of dollars a year. The causes of the decline are the hundreds of thousands of dams around the world, overfishing, the climate crisis and water pollution. The scientists said the situation may be even bleaker than it seemed, as many declines began before 1970. Populations of sturgeon in the Great Lakes of North America, for example, have dropped by 95% from historic levels. Furthermore, suitable data has not been gathered on species in some of the world’s most biodiverse rivers such as the Mekong, Congo, Amazon and Yangtze, where researchers fear there will be hundreds of fish extinctions in the coming decades. The average fall in populations was 84% in Latin America, while there has been a 59% decrease in Asia-Oceania, although there is limited data there and not enough from Africa to determine any reliable trend. In North America,...