Event Alert: Ecology of Spirit

Event Alert: Ecology of Spirit

Species extinction. Plastic pollution. Global warming. Catastrophic floods. Raging fires. The failure of coral reefs. Whales dying en masse. Forever chemicals contaminating mothers’ breast milk. Where is our spirit?

Our planet is in crisis. And while the wealthy and governments pour trillions into technological so-called “solutions,” things are spiraling out of control.

What if solving the ecological crisis depended on falling in love with the natural world, and acting to defend those we love?

What if a biocentric worldview — one which places the natural world at the center of our morality — could help us access the courage needed to stop the destruction?

On October 21st, join us for special 3-hour live streaming event on Facebook or Givebutter:

Ecology of Spirit: Biocentrism, Animism, and the Environmental Crisis — “the spirituality of the front lines.”

This live event will explore the connectedness of all life and focus on organized resistance to the destruction of the planet.

It starts at 1pm Pacific Time / 20:00 UTC, and features selected speakers including:

Tiokasin Ghosthorse

 

Ecology of Spirit

Tiokasin Ghosthorse is a member of the Cheyenne River Lakota Nation of South Dakota and has a long history with Indigenous activism and advocacy. Tiokasin is the Founder, Host and Executive Producer of “First Voices Radio” (formerly “First Voices Indigenous Radio”) for the last 27 years in New York City and Seattle/Olympia, Washington.

In 2016, he received a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize from the International Institute of Peace Studies and Global Philosophy. Other recent recognitions include: Native Arts and Cultures Foundation National Fellowship in Music (2016), National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship Nominee (2017), Indigenous Music Award Nominee for Best Instrumental Album (2019) and National Native American Hall of Fame Nominee (2018, 2019).

He was also awarded New York City’s Peacemaker of the Year in 2013. Tiokasin is a “perfectly flawed human being.”

Suprabha Seshan

Suprabha Seshan
Suprabha is a conservationist and environmental educator committed to the rewilding of habitat and human beings. She lives and works at the Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary (GBS) in the Western Ghat Mountains in India, which she often describes as a refugee center for hundreds of species of plants which are rescued from threatened places, and for the wildlife who they support.
Learning from nature to protect nature better is the work of GBS, through its integrated conservation practices in land, species and community-based ecological nurturance. On behalf of the GBS team, Suprabha received the prestigious Whitely Award for Nature in 2006.

Derrick Jensen

Derrick Jensen: The Man Box and the Cult of Masculinity
Derrick Jensen is a leading voice of cultural dissent. A longtime activist living in Northern California, he has been described as an “ecophilosopher in the anarcho-primitivist tradition.”

He explores the nature of injustice, how civilizations devastate the natural world, and how human beings retreat into denial at the destruction of the planet. His work examines the central question, “If the destruction of the natural world isn’t making us happy, then why are we doing it?”

Keala Kelly

Ecology of Spirit

Keala Kelly is a filmmaker and journalist living on Hawai’i Island. Her works depict the critical links between cultural, Film, and spiritual survival in the movement for Hawaiian self-determination and Indigenous peoples’ struggles for territorial and environmental survival.

She is an outspoken advocate for Indigenous self-representation in mass media. Keala is a Ted Scripps Environmental Journalism Fellow and has an MFA from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television.

Lierre Keith

 

Lierre Keith (auteur de Le Mythe végétarien) - Babelio

Lierre Keith is an American writer, radical feminist, food activist, and environmentalist. She began her public involvement in the feminist movement as the founding editor of Vanessa and Iris: A Journal for Young Feminists (1983–85).

During this same period, she also volunteered with a group called Women Against Violence Against Women in Cambridge, where she participated in educational events and protest campaigns.

In 1984 she was a founding member of Minor Disturbance, a protest group against militarism from a feminist perspective. In 1986 she was a founding member of Feminists Against Pornography in Northampton, Massachusetts. She is a founding editor of Rain and Thunder, a radical feminist journal in Northampton.

Sakej Ward

 

Ecology of Spirit

Sakej (James Ward) belongs to the wolf clan. He is Mi’kmaw (Mi’kmaq Nation) from the community of Esgenoopetitj (Burnt Church First Nation, New Brunswick). He is the father of nine children, four grandchildren and a caregiver for one. He resides in Shxw’owhamel First Nation with his wife Melody Andrews and their children.

Sakej has a long history of advocating and protecting First Nations inherent responsibilities and freedoms, having spent the last 21 years fighting the government and industry. This deep desire to bring justice to all Indigenous people has given Sakej experience in international relations where he spoke on behalf of the Mi’kmaq Nation at the United Nations Working Group for Indigenous Populations (WGIP).

For his efforts in protecting Indigenous people, freedoms and territory he has received the National Aboriginal Achievement Award.

Will Falk

 

Will-Falk | Oregon Community Rights Network

Will Falk is a writer, lawyer, poet and environmental activist. The natural world speaks and Will’s work is how he listens. He believes the ongoing destruction of the natural world is the most pressing issue confronting us today. For Will, writing is a tool to be used in resistance.

Will graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School and practiced as a public defender in Kenosha, WI. He left the public defender office to pursue frontline environmental activism.

So far, activism has taken him to the Unist’ot’en Camp – an indigenous cultural center and pipeline blockade on unceded Wet’suwet’en territory in so-called British Columbia, Canada, to a construction blockade on Mauna Kea in Hawai’i, to endangered pinyon-juniper forests in the Great Basin, and to Thacker Pass in northern Nevada where Will is trying to stop an open pit lithium mine from destroying a beautiful mountain pass.

Rebecca Wildbear

 

Meet Rebecca Wildbear

Rebecca Wildbear is a river and soul guide who helps people tune in to the mysteries that live within the Earth community, dreams, and their own wild Nature, so they may live a life of creative service. She has been a guide with Animas Valley Institute.

A long-time yoga teacher (since 2003) and a former faculty member at Nosara Yoga Institute (2008-2017), Rebecca created Wild Yoga™ — a practice of worship, veneration, and advocacy for Earth — while teaching yoga in a variety of wild places, including the tide pools of Costa Rica, the mountains and rivers of Colorado, and the ancient red rock canyons of Utah.

Max Wilbert

 

Board of Directors

Max Wilbert is a third-generation organizer who grew up in Seattle’s post-WTO anti-globalization and undoing racism movement. He has been an organizer for more than 15 years. Max is a longtime member of Deep Green Resistance and serves on the board of a small, grassroots non-profit. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Communication and Advocacy from Huxley College.

His first book, a collection of pro-feminist and environmental essays written over a six-year period, was released in 2018. He is co-author of the forthcoming book “Bright Green Lies,” which looks at the problems with mainstream so-called “solutions” to the climate crisis.

Alan Clements

 

Ecology of Spirit

Alan Clements was one of the first Westerners to ordain as a Buddhist monk in Myanmar (formerly Burma). In 1984, forced by the dictator Ne Win to leave the country, Clements returned to the West and lectured on ‘The Wisdom of Mindfulness.’

In 1988, Alan integrated into his Buddhist training an awareness that included universal human rights, social injustice, environmental sanity, political activism, the study of propaganda and mind control in both democratic and totalitarian societies, and the preciousness of everyday freedom.

In the jungles of Burma, in 1990, he was one of the first eye-witnesses to document the mass murder and oppression of ethnic minorities by Burma’s military dictatorship, which resulted in his first book, ‘Burma: The Next Killing Fields?’ In 1995 a French publisher asked Alan to attempt re-entering Burma with the purpose of meeting Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of her country’s pro-democracy movement and 1991 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

The transcripts of their five months of conversations were smuggled out of the country and became the book ‘The Voice of Hope’.

Other special guests will attend the session as well. There will be opportunities to ask questions and participate in dialogue.
You can join the event through our Facebook page or Givebutter page.

The mainstream environmental movement is mostly funded by foundations which don’t support revolutionary change. Radical organizations like Deep Green Resistance rely on individual donors to support our activism around the world, which is why “Ecology of Spirit” is also a fundraiser.

We’re outnumbered and we need your help.

There is a path out of the this crisis, and DGR is one of the organizations leading the way. But we can’t do it without you. We’re raising funds to support global community organizing, fund mutual aid and direct action campaigns, and sustain our core outreach and organizational work.

Donate here: https://givebutter.com/ecologyofspirit

Whether or not you are in a financial position to donate, we hope you will join us on October 21st for this opportunity to connect with kindred spirit offering light in dark times!

Environmental Groups Protest Manila Bay Reclamation Project

Environmental Groups Protest Manila Bay Reclamation Project

The following is a press release by Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) about a protest action against seabed quarrying in Manila Bay. DGR Asia Pacific is also a collaborator of the protest.


Press release

Alyansa Tigil Mina together with Deep Green Resistance and Local Autonomous Network trooped to the Senate during the joint hearing on seabed quarrying today for a peaceful protest action dubbed “Food Not Quarry” as they asked the Senate to urge President Bongbong Marcos, Jr. to issue an Executive Order suspending all Manila Bay reclamation projects.

ATM submitted its Position Paper on Seabed Quarrying during the joint hearing of the Senate Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change and the Senate Committee on Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement.

“ATM respectfully calls on the distinguished members of the Philippine Senate to urge President Marcos Jr. to issue an executive order formalizing his August 9 announcement that reclamation projects in Manila Bay are suspended,” said the group in their position paper.

“Despite President Marcos’ announcement suspending the Manila Bay reclamation projects, we still observe an increase in sand mining, river dredging and seabed quarrying in Cagayan, Zambales, Bataan, and Cavite. These activities appear to provide filling materials for Manila Bay reclamation projects,” said Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator.

ATM’s position paper further notes that interviews with Cavite fishing communities revealed: the absence or lack of consultations before seabed quarrying activities were permitted; frequent incidents of dredging ships damaging fishing nets; and, sharp decline in fish catch since the dredging started.

The group called for the inclusion of people’s organizations, coastal communities, and civil society groups in the on-going cumulative assessment by the DENR.

“We also call on the Senate to hold accountable concerned government officials and private actors for the environmental damage and human rights violations caused by the seabed quarrying projects,” Garganera said.

“We likewise demand the rehabilitation of marine resources and compensation of coastal families whose rights and livelihood were adversely affected.”

Outside the Senate building, the protestors demanded the “eventual halt or cancellation of seabed quarrying projects that destroy fishing grounds and municipal waters, and bring about hunger and poverty to nearby communities.”

“Our direct action aims to surface the discontent surrounding seabed quarrying in San Nicholas Shoal Cavite as well as other areas.

We would also like to bring attention to the need for sustainable projects that ensure food security, especially in the midst of the climate crisis,” said Garganera.


Jonila Castro and Jhed Tamano resurfaced

Jonila Castro and Jhed Tamano (two activists abducted on September 2) have resurfaced. There are two versions of what happened to them.

In the official version (published September 16), the governmental law enforcement agencies claim that the two women were not abducted but left on their free will. They also claimed that they wanted to leave the group against Manila Bay Reclamation Project but were afraid to do so. As a result they fled from their homes and surrendered to the military. This news story highlights the official statement of the story.

The military presented the two women in a press conference on September 20. The aim of the press conference was to “debunk the abduction propaganda.” The two women were supposed to support the official version of the event. However, when Castro took the floor, she boldly claimed that she was abducted and forced to sign affidavit in military camps. Tamano supported Castro’s claim, after which the press conference was halted abruptly. Thankfully, the women were released hours after the conference in the presence of their families and human rights activists. A report of the press conference can be found here.

As a movement becomes more effective, the repression against it becomes stronger. The powerful will do anything in their power to destroy the movement. DGR commends the bravery of Castro and Tamano, for maintaining their courage and commitment to the natural world despite the hardships.


DGR is now selling a campaign shirt to support the operation cost of our ongoing campaign in the Philippines. We strongly opposed the Seabed Quarrying in San Nicolas Shoal in Cavite and Manila Bay Reclamation Projects which cause a wide ecological marine destruction and kill the livelihood of thousands of small fisherfolks around Manila Bay.

Price: P500.00

For every shirt that you purchase, DGR Asia Pacific will get P200 pesos that we will use in our activity and actions about Seabed Quarrying and Reclamations.

To order a shirt, please send us a message on our FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/dgrasiapacific/

It Isn’t Nice, But Climate Activists Will Block the Doorways

It Isn’t Nice, But Climate Activists Will Block the Doorways

Editor’s Note: With the ineffectiveness of the current environmental movement becoming more and more apparent, people are turning to other means to save the natural world. DGR believes in the use of any technique to save the natural world. However, we also believe that caution should be expanded towards the so called “renewable” energy as well. Also care should be taken in what actions would happen in declaring a climate emergency.


By Chuck Collins/Common Dreams

The 1960s folk singer Malvina Reynolds wrote a song: “It Isn’t Nice,” singing, “It isn’t nice to block the doorway. It isn’t nice to go to jail. There are nicer ways to do it. But the nice ways always fail.”

Keep Malvina in mind as you read about the climate protests next week and in the days to come, including Climate Defiance blocking the doors to Citigroup because of their financing of new oil and gas projects. Prepare to witness a militant escalation of tactics aimed at the fossil fuel industry and their role in delaying society’s response to climate change.

After a summer of floods, fires, droughts, record heat, and weather disruption, we are clearly moving into the “new abnormal,” fueled by increased greenhouse gas emissions.

Yet even President Biden can’t seem to mouth the words “climate emergency.” As part of the June budget deficit deal, Biden approved an expedited Mountain Valley gas pipeline project along with an unprecedented legal shield against delaying lawsuits.

There are still avenues and pressure points for humanity to avert the worst outcome of climate disruption, which is an extinction event. But this will require bold action in what scientists call the critical decade ahead.

A new United Nations global climate report card finds countries need to catch up in meeting their Paris Agreement goals in reducing emissions. We would be making more progress if an unrepentant fossil fuel industry wasn’t using its considerable clout to block the transition to a clean energy future.

As global leaders gather in New York City for Climate Week and other United Nations meetings, hundreds of thousands will join the March to End Fossil Fuels. Some of them will be “blocking the doorways.”

Actions in Europe presage US coming attractions. Extinction Rebellion UK has blocked roads and building entrances, Just Stop Oil activists threw soup at paintings and disrupted cultural events, while other European activists blocked private jet runways.

Their focus on fossil fuel corporations makes sense. Investigative reporting has revealed that the largest fossil fuel companies, including Shell and ExxonMobil, have known about the dangerous repercussions of burning coal, gas and oil for decades. And this week The Wall Street Journal offered its own expose about Exxon’s internal strategy to downplay climate risk.

If governments and the public had known what these corporate leaders knew four decades ago, we could have moved more quickly to a safe energy transition. Instead, the industry has “run out the clock”—making low-hanging fruit adjustments impossible and putting our planet on a trajectory towards ecosystem collapse right up until the present moment.

The leaders of a couple dozen global energy corporations are making conscious decisions to build new infrastructure to extract and burn billions of tons of carbon and methane presently sequestered. A Guardian expose identified 195 carbon bomb projects that would each burn a billion tons of carbon over their lifetime. Private airports are making plans to expand capacity for private jet travel, one of the least defensible forms of luxury excess.

In this context, more people are abandoning our political system as the arena for making change, focusing on private sector responses such as carbon capture technologies, and using militant direct actions to block new oil, gas, and coal infrastructure.

Disruptive direct action, such as efforts by Extinction Rebellion and Climate Defiance, are critical to drawing attention to the fight, an urgency that will only grow as ecological stability unravels. On Earth Day last year, a Colorado activist, Wynn Bruce self-immolated himself on the steps of the Supreme Court as they handed down a decision undermining climate protections.

The collision course between ecological realities and our insufficient societal responses will only intensify. The coming decade will see more Wynn Bruce acts of desperation and eco-sabotage, like that depicted in the dramatic new film, How to Blow Up a Pipeline and the nonfiction book by Andreas Malm with the same name.

Works of future fiction may be preparing us for what may lay ahead. In Ministry for the Future, Kim Stanley Robinson depicts a murky “black ops” group that leads to private jets falling from the sky and hostage-taking.

In my novel, Altar to an Erupting Sun, a group of terminally-ill grandmothers calling themselves the Good Ancestors self-immolate themselves in the lobby of ExxonMobil, a wake-up call that mobilizes humanity. Other fictional activists focus on preparing their New England communities to face a disrupted future by building local food resilience, mutual aid, and the capacity to welcome climate refugees. In The Deluge, author Stephen Markley describes the radicalization of right and left-wing activists to rising sea level rise and economic collapse.

There are still avenues and pressure points for humanity to avert the worst outcome of climate disruption, which is an extinction event. But this will require bold action in what scientists call the critical decade ahead. What we need is a bold “just transition” program that ends fossil fuels as soon as possible, including a declaration of a climate emergency, a moratorium on new fossil fuel infrastructure, and the elimination of government subsidies for oil, gas, and coal, and its timely phase-out.

Until this program can move forward, be prepared to find people blocking the doorways.

Direct action is all we have left. Save the world. #Melbourneclimatestrike IMG_5249” by John Englart (Takver) is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Divestment Delegation Highlights Dangers of Appalachian Pipeline

Divestment Delegation Highlights Dangers of Appalachian Pipeline

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

“Violence on the Land is Violence on our Bodies”: Appalachian Frontline Women’s Divestment Delegation Highlights Dangers of Mountain Valley Pipeline in Meeting with UBS Bank

Joint press release with Divest Invest Protect and The Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International

SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA, California— On September 6, a delegation of frontline women leaders from Appalachia and advocates met with UBS Bank to highlight concerns of human rights violations along the Mountain Valley Pipeline, as well as environmental harms in the Appalachian region as a result of the pipeline.

During the meeting, the Appalachian Frontline Women’s Divestment Delegation provided testimony and shared stories, data and research on the multiple ways that the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and its construction pose a serious threat to communities, water, air quality and the global climate.

Originally expected to be completed in 2018, the MVP Mainline now runs five years behind schedule and $3 billion over budget. UBS Bank is one of the banks financing MVP, and during the meeting, delegates highlighted that since the project’s inception, the joint owners of Mountain Valley Pipeline have sustained financial losses. In May, 2022, RGC Resources, parent company of Roanoke Gas, disclosed a $29.6 million impairment charge on MVP. Similarly, NextEra announced an $800 million loss in February, 2022, and stated that it was reevaluating its investment in MVP. Additionally, Mountain Valley LLC has incurred millions in fines and settlements for environmental violations and billions of dollars’ worth of expenses in legal battles, permit negotiations, and costly construction delays.

Delegation members provided eye witness accounts and detailed information about specific impacts Indigenous communities and communities of color face in regards to the construction and operation of MVP. The pipeline route will go through Black, Indigenous, Latino, and low-income communities across Appalachia who would experience the brunt of environmental injustice. According to the company’s own 2017 Final Environmental Impact Statement, elderly, disabled, poor, and medically underserved residents are over-represented in the path of the project. Pollution caused by pipelines and methane gas infrastructure has been linked to several adverse health effects, including respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. The racial inequities that will ensue from the MVP construction route are so indisputable that the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board denied an air permit on environmental justice grounds. Additionally, construction of MVP has already damaged sacred sites on the homeland of the Monacan Indian Nation, Occaneechi, Saponi, and Tutelo tribes, including a burial mound near Roanoke, Virginia, which dates back several thousand years.

In June 2023, a provision in the Fiscal Responsibility Act approved all remaining permits for the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Another provision stripped the judiciary of any authority to assess the legality of the permits, and therefore opportunity for challenges and input from local communities, forcing the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to dismiss two long-standing legal challenges against the MVP that had been staving off construction for years. Construction is now moving forward on the MVP Mainline following Congressional intervention deemed unconstitutional by well-regarded legal scholars.

Delegates shared research on how MVP can negatively impact local ecosystems and the global climate. Experts state that MVP will emit over 89 million metric tons of greenhouse gas pollution annually, equivalent to the pollution from 24 average US coal plants. The pipeline route will cut across over 1,000 waterways and harm the ecosystems of multiple species of concern, including six federally endangered or threatened species and an additional four state listed species. The pipeline will also run over terrain susceptible to landslides in an active seismic zone, raising concerns over pipeline ruptures and explosions. Delegates highlighted the August 2023 Notice of Proposed Safety Order by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) stating that conditions along the MVP may “pose a pipeline integrity risk to public safety, property, or the environment.

The Appalachian Frontline Women’s Divestment Delegation, organized by the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) and Divest Invest Protect (DIP) includes: Dr. Crystal A Cavalier, Ed.D, MPA (Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation), Adjunct Professor and Co-Founder, 7 Directions of Service; Dr. Emily Satterwhite, Professor and Director of Appalachian Studies (Appalachian Resident); Crystal Mello, Community Organizer, POWHR (Appalachian Resident);  Michelle Cook (Diné), Founder of Divest Invest Protect; with Osprey Orielle Lake, Founder and Executive Director of Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN).

“Violence on the land is violence on our bodies. MVP is literally a death sentence for many in our communities and region, threatening our health and livelihoods. Our communities are disproportionately burdened with health hazards through policies and practices that force us to live near sources of toxic waste, such as pipelines, sewage works, mines, landfills, power stations, compressor stations, major roads, and emitters of airborne particulate matter. As a result, our communities suffer higher rates of health problems attendant on hazardous pollutants.” Dr. Crystal A Cavalier, Ed.D, MPA (Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation), Adjunct Professor and Co-Founder, 7 Directions of Service

“Mountain Valley Pipeline, a fly-by-night LLC is incapable of construction in compliance with environmental laws. MVP’s leadership clearly has no idea what they’re doing— but that hasn’t stopped them from rushing to place corroded and defective pipes in our land and water before PHMSA’s Notice of Proposed Safety Order can take effect. MVP is putting our lives at risk and then prosecuting us in the courts for trying to protect ourselves.” – Dr. Emily Satterwhite, Professor and Director of Appalachian Studies (Appalachian Resident)

“We’ve been devastated by the forward progress of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. We’re being sacrificed and it’s hard to imagine at times that this is even real. We’re literally in the fight for our lives – The struggle for my home, the struggle for clean air and water, the struggle for the planet, it’s a constant stresser in my life and in the lives of others in my community. We’ll never give up on protecting our home.” Crystal Mello, Community Organizer, POWHR (Appalachian Resident)

“The Appalachian Mountains, the oldest mountains in the world, her peoples, and countless other species, are under an urgent threat from the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). We call for everyone to listen to the Mountains; the river’s babbling brook; the Fish; the Black Bear; the Hell Bender; and Falcon, and even the stones. Life itself cries out for urgent intervention against risks of fire and catastrophic explosions; their siren song sings screaming, Stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Our peoples of Appalachia were not created to be sacrificed to their altars of money and profit. Our peoples of Appalachia were not created to serve corporate extractivists agendas that destroy our bodies, health, water, and lands. We will protect our Mother the Mountain and we will protect one another. Our Mother the Mountain, she who is worthy of adoration and defense. The berry jewels of her forests, her glittering crystal silver waters, her golden harvests of grain and corn. She provides all we need for eternity and only requires respect for this opulence. UBS in this historic moment needs to do their due diligence to prevent risks relating to their financing; to respect internationally recognized human rights obligations to both people, planet, and the earth’s biodiversity.” – Michelle Cook (Diné), Founder of Divest Invest Protect

“The Mountain Valley Pipeline will have disastrous impacts for frontline communities who will experience the worst of fossil fuel pollution, for biodiverse species whose very habitats will be destroyed, and for our global climate which cannot take another pipeline project. It is time to end the era of fossil fuels for the health of our communities and planet. We must stop the very worst of the climate crisis before it is too late. We are calling for financial institutions to listen to communities and science, conduct thorough due diligence, and stop the harms of fossil fuel extraction. UBS and other banks have an opportunity to be leaders in the just transition by divesting from fossil fuels and instead financing projects that support the well-being of communities, ecosystems, and our planet. Now is the time for financial institutions to firmly respect international human rights standards and climate agreements as we collectively move towards a clean, just, and healthy future for all. There is no time to lose!” – Osprey Orielle Lake, Founder and Executive Director of Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN)

MEDIA CONTACT

Katherine Quaid, WECAN International, katherine@wecaninternational.org
Michelle Cook, Divest Invest Protect, divestinvestprotect@gmail.com

This press release is also available online.

Photo by Elijah Mears on Unsplash

Polar Bears – Fight for Who We Love

Polar Bears – Fight for Who We Love

Editor’s Note: In the Fight for Who We Love series, we introduce you to a species. These nonhuman species are what inspires most of us to join environmental movements and to continue to fight for the natural world. We hope you find this series inspiring, informative, and a break from news on industrial civilization. Let us know what you think in the comments! Also, if there is a species that you want us to cover in the upcoming months, please make suggestions. Today they are polar bears.


By Kim Olson and Benja Weller

When there’s talk about climate change affecting other species, people often think of polar bears. Because yes, their habitat is being destroyed — and we’ll get to that.

But the reason we’re writing about polar bears today is because long before I (Kim) knew anything about climate change or melting ice caps, they were my favorite wild animal. Because to me, they represent patience and intelligence, strength and resilience, playfulness and beauty.

FOOD + BEHAVIOR

A polar bear stretcheA polar bear stretches in Kaktovik, Alaska. Photo: Kim Olsons

A polar bear stretches in Kaktovik, Alaska. Photo: Kim Olson

Like much of the wild world (what’s left), polar bears must put in some serious effort and time to acquire their next meal, and as the largest terrestrial carnivorous mammal on earth, that’s no small amount.

So how much food do they need, then?

“Polar bears need to consume approximately 4.4lbs [2kg] of fat daily or a 121lbs [55kg] seal provides about 8 days’ worth of energy. Polar bears can eat 100lbs [45kg] of seal blubber in one sitting.”

Nature Magazine

A typical polar bear meal doesn’t vary a whole lot and includes one main course: seals (ringed, but also bearded, hooded and harped). But when food is scarce, they’re opportunistic eaters and will munch on berries, fish, plants, birds, small mammals — basically whatever they can find, which unfortunately also includes human garbage.

Hunting patiently on an ice sheet

While polar bears use their semi-webbed, big-ass paws (about 12in / 30cm, which is bigger than most human heads!) to wander the snowy ground and doggy paddle around the Arctic Ocean like nobody’s business, they aren’t aquatic animals. So they have to hunt usually at the edge of sea ice or next to a seal’s breathing hole.

Once the bears locate a suitable place to hunt, they get comfortable and prepare themselves for a potentially long wait. This most common “still-hunting” method, which they’re the most successful at, requires that the bears barely move for hours and sometimes even days.

Days! I don’t know about you, but I find that kind of commitment and patience remarkable. Because in an age where instant gratification is a thing, us civilized humans may sometimes feel it’s unbearable to have to wait longer than even thirty minutes for a meal when we’re hungry. But polar bears? They’ve got the patience thing down. I mean, they have to. Because, contrary to popular belief, food doesn’t actually come from the grocery store.

When not about to pounce on a seal, polar bears are generally slow-moving creatures, ambling leisurely and deliberately to conserve their strength. At times they may wander for miles, their huge paws helping to keep them from sinking too deeply into the snow.

A bear walks across the snowy ground in Kaktovik, Alaska. Photo: Kim Olson

A bear walks across the snowy ground in Kaktovik, Alaska. Photo: Kim Olson

EVOLUTION + HABITAT

Harsh climate made polar bears become specialists

Polar bears diverged from brown bears but it’s not clear when — some estimates say a few hundred thousand years while newer guesses put it at a few million years.

But no matter when the split occurred, polar bears developed some unique characteristics that help them survive in a harsh climate where average winter temperatures are around -29°F / -2°C.

Most bears live north of the Arctic Circle in the US, Canada, Greenland, Norway, and Russia, and spend much of their lives on sea ice hunting (some sources say up to 50% of their time).

3 fun facts you may not know about polar bears:

  1. Their skin is black, which helps them absorb heat from the sun (when they have it, which is not much in the winter that far north!).
  2. Their fur (the thickest of all bears) is not white and is not actually hair. The outer layer of fur is in fact clear, hollow tubes. But because of the way these tubes reflect the visible light wavelengths, the fur appears white. And the hollow tubes provide insulation against the frigid temps and repel water.
  3. They don’t (typically) hibernate. Since their main food source (seals) is available only during the winter, only pregnant females hibernate (and in case you’re wondering, twins cubs are the most common), and even then it’s not a full hibernation like other bears do.
A mama bear with her two cubs in Kaktovik, Alaska. Photo: Kim Olson

A mama bear with her two cubs in Kaktovik, Alaska. Photo: Kim Olson

QUICK STATS

infographic about polar bears

Infographic by Benja Weller CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0

Size:    Males are about 2-3 times larger than females.

Length:    6-8′ [1.8-2.4m] females, 8-10′ [2.4-3m] males, 12″ [.3m] newborn

Height:    up to 5′ [1.5m] at shoulder on all four paws, 7-11′ [3.3m] standing upright

Weight:    300-700lb [136-318kg] females, 700-1700lb [318-771kg] male, 1-1.5lb [.5-.7kg] newborn

Paws:    webbed paws up to ~12” [30cm] across, which makes them good paddles

Lifespan:    20-30 years in the wild

Running Speed:    25mph [40kph]

Swimming Speed:    6mph [10kph] for up to 62mi [100km] continuously

Walking Speed:     3.4mph [5.5kph]

 

A solo polar bear walking in Kaktovik, Alaska. Photo: Kim Olson

A solo polar bear walking in Kaktovik, Alaska. Photo: Kim Olson

THE BIGGEST THREAT

Melting ice sheets due to global warming

Most of us have seen pictures or videos of starving polar bears in the news. Skinny polar bears searching for food or sitting on an ice sheet with nothing around them but water are heart-wrenching to watch.

Photos and videos like those show the devastating effects of global warming, and are warning signs that express the conclusion in a BBC article by Helen Briggs and Victoria Grill: “Polar bears will be wiped out by the end of the century unless more is done to tackle climate change, a study (by Nature Climate Change) predicts.“

The single most important threat to the long-term survival of polar bears is loss of sea ice due to global warming, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. National Geographic writes about the bears in the Beaufort Sea region, who are among the best studied: “Their numbers have fallen 40 percent in the last ten years.”

Polar bear babies need fat

In our times of warmer climate, sea ice melts earlier in the spring and forms later in the autumn, forcing polar bears to walk or swim longer distances to the remaining ice sheets.

The second effect of melting sea ice is that the bears stay on land longer fasting and living off their fat stores. In both cases, the extra energy loss affects their ability to effectively reproduce and raise babies. When the mother is too skinny, a couple of problems arise:

Initially she can’t have as many babies as a healthy mom can. But when she does have cubs, they have a greater risk of dying by starvation due to the lack of fat in the mother’s milk. This can only mean that the entire population of polar bears decline.

Fossil fuel extraction in the Arctic

Pollution and the exploration of new oil and gas resources are also major threats to these white predators. As we’ve outlined in the article about Adélie penguins, there’s persistent organic pollutants (POPs) being moved from warmer areas to the cold Antarctic and Arctic.

If bears eat seals, they also consume POPs, and high levels of POPs rob polar bears of their vitamin A, thyroid hormones, and some antibodies which impairs their growth, reproduction, and the strength to fight off diseases.

Oil is toxic for animals in the Arctic

As easy-to-access oil and gas resources become scarcer, the industries explore in the most remote places to find this so-called “black gold.” Unhinged, they try to exploit the beautiful Arctic, even though offshore oil operations pose a great risk to the polar bears.

When oil spills into the sea, it affects the bear’s fur, reducing its insulating effect. The bears unknowingly ingest the oil which can cause long-term liver and kidney damage, even if it’s a small amount. Oil spills can wipe out entire populations when they happen in places where there’s a high density of polar bear dens.

Despite sitting around most of the time, National Geographic says that these high-energy beasts can burn through 12,325 calories a day, which is equivalent to 40 (!) burgers.

The polar bears can’t just adapt to melting ice sheets and change their hunting methods in an instant — evolution doesn’t work like that.

Two polar bears play fight in Kaktovik, Alaska. Photo: Kim Olson


Two polar bears play fight in Kaktovik, Alaska. Photo: Kim Olson

WHY THEY’RE SPECIAL

If you ask us, a world without the magnificent polar bears is a world worse off. So they are one more reason #whywefight.

FURTHER READING + SOURCES

Featured Image: A female polar bear with her two cubs in Kaktovik, Alaska. Photo: Kim Olson


The 2023 DGR conference is scheduled for late August in northern California. This annual gathering is an opportunity for our community to share skills, reflect on our work, strengthen our connections, and plan for the future. While this conference is only open to DGR members, we do invite friends and allies on a case-by-case basis. If you’re interested in attending, please contact us, and if you’d like to donate to support the conference, click here.

Against the Seabed Quarry in Manila [Statement]

Against the Seabed Quarry in Manila [Statement]

Editor’s Note: The Manila Bay Reclamation Project is a series of projects around the bay in the cities of Manila, Pasay, Parañaque, Navotas, and Cavite. The projects- that should more accurately be called land grabs- ironically assert to “reclaim” the bay area for commercial, residential and tourism development. Offshore mining has started in the Manila Bay area.

Fisherfolks in the area have not been informed about the seabed quarry before it began. Now there are no fish for them to catch. Their entire livelihood has been destroyed. Many have relocated to other areas. The following is a statement by a coalition of organizations fighting for community rights and against the seabed quarry.


Statement on State of National Address

July 24, 2023

STATE OF NO ACTION (SONA). This is possibly our most apt evaluation of the performance of President Bongbong Marcos, Jr. and DENR Secretary Toni Yulo-Loyzaga.

One full year in office, and yet PBBM and Secretary Loyzaga have not acted on the demands of mining-affected communities, particularly the residents of Sibuyan Island, Romblon and Brooke’s Point, Palawan.

Fact is, mining operations continue in both regions and the respective Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSAs) of Altai Philippines Mining Corporation in Sibuyan and Ipilan Nickel Corporation in Brooke’s Point have not been cancelled.

During last year’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) conducted a “serenade” at the DENR grounds addressing then newly-appointed DENR Secretary Loyzaga. We brought fruits and flowers as gifts, symbolizing the preservation of natural resources and our earnest desire to dialogue with the government.

Over the course of a year, grassroots communities have undertaken various activities to articulate our situation and push for our demands. The activities range from submission of petition letters and research studies, to vigils, dialogues and protest actions.

In particular, residents of Sibuyan and Brooke’s put up barricades demanding a halt in mining operations deemed illegal for lack of proper permits. People from both regions have been insistently asking the DENR for the cancellation of the MPSAs of the concerned mining companies.

The DENR did open its doors for consultations as well as dialogues with those either knocking on or protesting at its gates. They did give an ear to the leaders and representatives of mining-affected communities. They did promise to conduct investigations and address the concerns of people on the ground.

But, until now, mining-affected communities are still awaiting decisive government actions. Investigations have still to be conducted, mining operations have yet to be permanently stopped, and mining contracts have still to be cancelled.

Worse, while the demands of mining-affected communities are ignored, mining companies are given headway in their operations.

For instance, despite the moratorium in new applications for seabed quarrying permits imposed by the previous administration, seabed quarrying and offshore mining have become more active than ever.

Presently, there are 11 large-scale offshore mining projects all over the country. Also, based on a list obtained from the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA), there are 175 reclamation projects lined up at different stages of application.  According to environmental groups belonging to People’s NICHE, there are at least 46 reclamation projects in Manila Bay alone which would affect 32,000-hectares of fishing waters.

In the midst of a climate emergency, the continued destruction of nature through mining and other extractive activities is simply unacceptable. For the continued destructive operations of mining companies and the miserable conditions of people in mining-affected communities, we hold PBBM and the DENR fully accountable.

On this second State of the Nation Address, we strongly call on President Marcos and DENR Sec. Loyzaga to immediately and decisively act on the demands of the people.

Specifically, we demand a stop to destructive and illegal mining operations through the cancellation of large-scale mining contracts in Sibuyan and Brooke’s Point, and other sites of struggles. We also urgently call for a comprehensive review of seabed quarrying and offshore mining activities and a halt to the operations in Manila Bay.

We do not want to waste more time waiting. The time to act is NOW.
Pagkatapos ng usapan, AKSYON ANG KAILANGAN!

Signatured:

Alyansa Tigil Mina
Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party
Aksyon sa Kahandaan sa Kalamidad at Klima (AKKMA)
Aksyon Verde
Alliances of Buguey for Community Development Advocates (Albucoda)
Alyansa Kontra Mina – Santa Catalina, Negros Oriental
Ang Aroroy Ay Alagaan, Inc (4As)
Anislagan Bantay Kalikasan Task Force (ABAKATAF)
Aroroy Youth Environmental Guardian (AYEG)
Bangan – Malabago Fisherfolk Association- BMFA
Bayay Sibuyanon Inc. (BSI)
Bileg Dagiti Babbae (Bileg)
Carrascal Cantilan Madrid Carmen Lanuza Baywatch (CCMCL Baywatch)
Convergence of Initiatives for Environmental Justice (CIEJ)
Didipio Earth Savers Multi- Purpose Association- (DESMA)
Guardians Brotherhood International Humanitarian Leadership, Inc.
Koalisyon ng Mamamayan at Sambayanan sa Northern at Sentral Luzon (Kumasa Na)
La Fraternidad Fisherfolk and Women Group (LAFFWO)
Living Laudatu Si
Marian Women Producers’ Cooperative (MWPC)
Maporac Aetas Organization- MAO
Nature Ambassadors of Sibuyan Island (NASI)
Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK)- Negros Oriental Provincial Council
Risktaker- AMKKAS (Alyansa ng mga Mamamayan para sa Kalikasan ng Kasibu)
Samahan ng Mangingisdang Kababaihan sa Minanga Este (Samakami)
SANLAKAS
Sibuyanon Against Mining (SAM)
Tagbuyawan Lakeshore Association
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)
Tubajon People’s Council (TUPECO)
Unahin Lagi ang Diyos (UNLAD)
Working Youth of Tubay (WYC)
Zambales North Payao Fisherfolk Association (ZambaNorFa)