Being Reasonable or Reliable?

Being Reasonable or Reliable?

Editor’s Note: The scientific method is considered the best at explaining natural phenomenon – for good reason. However, science also has limitations.

First, science has a limited scope. It requires evidence beyond reasonable doubt for any explanations to be considered reliable. It can only make predictions based on those explanations. What if there are some real phenomena that cannot be “proven” yet? In that case, what alternative assumptions do we use to make predictions?

Second, (quite contrarily to what most scientists claim) science is not value free. And science cannot be value free, as long as the scientists remain value laden.

The alternative assumptions that science uses to make real life predictions are based on those values of the scientists, and of science as a field of study. Most often than not, these values support the status quo.

There is a reason that climate scientists have repeatedly failed to make reliable predictions about the upcoming ecological collapse. The sooner that scientists accept and acknowledge these (and other) limitations, the better it is for the natural world! The following piece explores some of these issues.

“Science, as it is practiced in our society, is a nearly perfect expression of human supremacy. It’s all for us (humans); it’s all about us.”  – Tom Murphy


By Brian Lloyd / Resilience

Scientists have been in the news of late fretting that their projections about the onset of disasters caused by a warming climate may have been off the mark.
It appears that Mother Nature has pushed the “fast forward” button and we are all paddling, choking, and sizzling much sooner than sober science had led us to expect. We will be hard-pressed to devise a plan of action commensurate with the trouble we are in if we come at that task wielding flawed assumptions.
Events cannot speak of their own accord but if they could recent ones would surely be telling us that any forecasts based on conditions prevailing even until yesterday are not worth much. We have entered a new phase in the life of our planet and, by all appearances, do not have a clue about what that circumstance demands of us as inhabitants.
I am not a scientist, but I did recently encounter a related case of cluelessness that I thought I might try to diagnose. Writing in The New Yorker (07/24/2023), Louis Menand pauses at the end of an essay on the rise and fall of neoliberalism to take stock of its achievements and failings. On the positive side, he claims that globalization has lifted a billion people out of poverty, lowered the cost of many household items, turned formerly marginal nations into “economic players,” and broken the monopoly held by First World powers on modern technology. On the debit side, he notes a deepening “trend towards monopoly” in every major industry and a disturbing increase in inequality. This latter, he believes, fouls the workings of democracy and thus poses a threat to civic order.
Menand is not a hack. He is a diligent researcher, a thoughtful cultural observer, and a gifted stylist whose books are read and discussed within and beyond the academy. The reader who consults any of his books and essays for insight into American history or contemporary politics will find much of substance to chew on. Yet his summary assessment of the ideas that have been dominant in official circles for the last four decades lags even farther behind the visible course of events than the too-cautious calculations of the climate scientists. Perhaps he and the scientists have inherited the same conceptual defect.
Suppose that Shell Oil hires several dozen young Nigerians to help protect its facilities from any local villagers who might harbor ill will against it for poisoning the land base that once supported an economy of small market fishing and farming. As long as these new hires make more than $2.15/day they would count among the billions being lifted out of poverty by globalization. That is how the World Bank, the source of Menand’s numbers, measures economic progress. The wholesale destruction of entire ecosystems, along with the ways of life that flourished for centuries within them, do not figure in these calculations. The World Bank cannot quantify such things so Menand finds no occasion to discuss them. Overheating oceans and atmospheres, environmental degradation, species extinctions, soil depletion, water scarcity, drought, fire, flooding, crop failures, mass migrations – none of these worrisome developments make their way onto Menand’s ledger, even as all of them were either caused or sharply accelerated by fossil fuel-powered globalization. Progress is happening when people who once farmed and fished for a living get funneled, by whatever means and onto whatever station, into the wage economy. So long as “our” household items stay cheap, we have cause to celebrate. So long as the list of “players” in this game keeps expanding and the technology needed to keep the global machine humming gets spread around a bit, what’s to worry?
As recently as seven or eight years ago I might have nodded along with Menand’s assessment of neoliberalism. It is reasonably argued by the standards I then used to measure what it was reasonable to consider when exploring such a topic. Now, such arguments provoke the kind of irritation we feel when someone adopts an attitude of command after, in plain view, missing the boat entirely. What happened?Two things. First, there is the news. The polycrisis, as many are calling it, has unsettled my preferred means of making sense of the world. Procedures that once seemed soundly empirical suddenly appear woefully constricted. Facts that once grounded the kinds of arguments I deemed credible were dwarfed by realities that no one seemed willing or able to treat as facts of relevance to what was going on around me. Second, my realization that I have been poorly served by the analytic tools I knew how to use inspired me to search for replacements in places that I would have not thought to visit before. I read books on animal intelligence and plant communication. David Abram’s books shattered the foundations of my philosophical outlook, creating cracks for wilder, less head-heavy insights to grow. I stopped feeling sheepish about nodding in agreement with Derrick Jensen and Paul Kingsnorth. My growing suspicions about the serviceability of Western science opened me up to Robin Wall Kimmerer’s respectful humbling of it and to the value generally of indigenous modes of understanding. I read nearly everything written by Wendell Berry and Gary Snyder.
I am most likely a pagan now, if by that term we mean someone who believes it was a really bad idea to drain all of the spirit out of the natural world and invest it in a single, vengeful sky god whom we must propitiate in a manner prescribed by one pleasure-phobic priesthood or another. I am not an atheist because when I am hiking alone under old trees or watching seabirds in flight I frequently feel myself drawn into a force field of enchantment where words fail and the mind stalls. I believe it is historically warranted to call that field “sacred” and, if we are to undo the damage done by those who believe otherwise, strategically necessary.
From where I sit now, it seems clear that Menand and the climate scientists were betrayed by a desire to appear reasonable. In the gap between their conclusions and the horizon where the hard edge of reality now cuts we can measure the obsolescence of Reason as it has been conceived in the West for the last four centuries. Events quite near at hand are making it increasingly difficult to dismiss, as “external” factors or “secondary qualities” irrelevant to any disciplined act of understanding, whatever cannot be abstracted, reduced, and counted. It is no longer reasonable, in particular, to abstract humans from the natural world, reduce them to self-aggrandizing egos, and then feed their doings alone into our computations. Social systems are embedded in ecosystems, humans are enmeshed in webs of interdependence with the other-than-human.
Analyses, social or natural scientific, that remain indifferent to these insights are rapidly becoming unreliable, and visibly so, as descriptions of the real world. As empirical backing for moral arguments or policy decisions, these analyses are serviceable only to those who have a stake in keeping the blinders firmly secured.
Menand’s analysis of neoliberalism, for example, is all numbers and people. For him, being reasonable means taking such facts as can be configured mathematically and assembling a balanced account of them. All the thirsting, wheezing, and keeling over in the street, the struggling for food and safety now being experienced by millions of people worldwide, the winking out of species – these consequences of neoliberal globalization are unmistakably real but somehow inadmissible as evidence. Menand is no doubt aware of them – who couldn’t be? – but he is constrained from factoring them in by his manner of being a reasonable intellectual. The balance he achieves by adding some downsides to a World Bank success narrative comes only after leaving the weightiest items off the scales. If the people being lifted out of poverty are at the same time, and by action of the same press of circumstances, being lowered into their graves, that is probably a fact worth noting.The scientists are well aware of ecosystems and non-humans. But they too are duty-bound to appear reasonable. The manner in which they do so affirms the foresight of those who etched into the founding tablets of modern science a commandment never to mix facts and values. In private, climate scientists confess to being scared shitless by what their most trustworthy empirical projections suggest is awaiting us just around the bend (for this side of the story, see the interview with climate scientist Bill McGuire in the 07/30/2022 Guardian). When facing the public, professional etiquette requires that they adopt a “just the facts, ma’am” demeanor. Those few who violate that code and speak their fears as responsible moral actors are chastised in the media and, often, in the academic journals for tarnishing the hallowed objectivity of science.
The facts do speak, but from beneath such a thick overlay of well-mannered reasonableness that only the scientists themselves can catch their true import. With rare exception, they are not sharing with us what those facts say to them. This institutionalized cautiousness infects their sense of what we should consider normal and of how – at what rate, along which dimensions – we should expect things to deviate from that norm in the future. Their fears find no purchase in such calculations, surfacing only over drinks or in bed after the work of science is done.I recently sat in on a conference panel where two well-informed observers traded speculations about what the future might hold. The social scientist had authored a book which, it was argued, had influenced some of the thinking and language in the Biden Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act. Her vision of the future teems with solar panels, batteries on wheels, and windmills – our tickets, if we would just invest in them, to “sustainability.” The other panelist, a science fiction writer who had woven climate change into the plotline of a best-selling novel, seconded her enthusiasm for all-out electrification. An audience member wondered what we should make of the same administration’s approval of the Willow project in Alaska and its decision to remove any legal barriers local residents had been using, out of desperation, to obstruct completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Appalachia. The science fiction writer argued that just because the drilling infrastructure is built, we shouldn’t assume any oil will actually be pumped out of the ground and burned. Perhaps there is a deeper, strategic logic to the approval of Willow. Sensing perhaps the astonishment that lit up some faces in my vicinity at least, he then informed us that there are some amazing young people working on energy policy in the Biden Administration. I doubt that I was alone in my inability to find this reassuring, but it seemed to do the job for the panelists. They then went on the offensive, invoking “the narcissism of small differences” as a way to understand the complaints of those who do not share either their confidence that right-thinking young people will be shaping policy from lowly positions in the Department of Energy or their faith in the wisdom of the “electrify everything’ agenda altogether. Skeptics, apparently, will have to pay for some therapy before that wisdom can sink in.That exchange gives us a glimpse into how most progressives and environmentalists are now drawing the line between reasonable and unreasonable in the matter of new drilling projects and pipelines. Another glimpse was provided by a keynote speaker at the same conference. Billed as a “visionary green entrepreneur,” he floated point-clinching charts and breezy rhetoric above the stage to ornament a case for full tilt electrification. He was favorably received.This speaker handled in three ways the argument that all the mining, manufacturing, and transport required to affect a transition to green energy would have an environmental impact as devastating as the fossil fuel economy has had. At the outset of his talk, he said with mock exasperation that “yes, we are going to have to dig some holes in the ground.” Like the anti-narcissists, he claimed the real world as his domain and chided the mass electrification skeptics for their refusal to live in it.

A bit later he flashed a chart with different sized circles designed to contrast the amount of coal, gas, and oil we now use to power our economy with the amount of what he called “transition metals” (most prominently lithium, cobalt, and nickel, along with aluminum and steel at the end of the list) that would be consumed in a green economy. The circles for the fossil fuels (figures were from 2019) were huge, as one might expect, visually dominating the chart. There were two circles for the transition metals, both quite puny by comparison, which was the point of the graphic. The first represented the amount of these metals consumed in 2020, its puniness attributable to the fact that the transition had only begun. The second circle represented the same variable for 2050 – a projection based on what somebody had calculated all this might amount to at the end of the transition.

His third tactic for handling the skepticism he knew to be festering in audiences like this was to pin it all on the fossil fuel companies. Like the cigarette makers of yore, the bad guys in this story were muddying the waters so they could keep their product burning at full volume into the future. The implication seemed to be that if you were experiencing any of this skepticism you were being duped by industry propaganda. It was not reason but partisan skullduggery that was prompting your misgivings about the green energy script.

Call me a narcissist if you must, but my misgivings arose from my own reading around in these issues and they were not being quelled by this presentation. I balked at the size of the 2050 circle – is it really possible to calculate, from where we sit now, all the materials a fully green economy would consume? Given the scale of this construction project and the unknowns sure to crop up along the way, an estimate made a quarter century before completion is bound to be an underestimation – most likely a sizable one. And were these calculations inflected in any way by a partisanship, opposed to that of the fossil fuel propagandists but in play nonetheless, that I should worry about? Early in the presentation the speaker had flashed a chart showing that “total energy-related CO2 emissions” had peaked and were trending steadily downward. He urged the audience to take pride in what had been accomplished and cautioned that we not grow complacent, as if the hard work of transition might be behind us. That was puzzling. If one consults any available graph for total CO2 emissions, one will discover that they continue to trend upwards. This fact has been widely reported and causes much consternation among those alarmed by climate change. I do not know what had to be excluded from consideration to get the downward-trending graph – i.e., exactly how “total energy-related CO2 emissions” differs from “total CO2 emissions” – but it was apparent that the speaker had selected the celebratory numbers so we might feel that we were on the right road and just needed to do more of what we were already doing in the way of sustainability to get things fully under control. The maneuver called to mind the factors Menand left out of his review of neoliberalism and, for me, drained the last bit of credibility out of the teeny 2050 “transition metals” circle.

The costs of digging some holes in the ground become more tangible if we visit a place where that is already underway. A New York Times correspondent recently (08/18/2023) filed a report on a Chinese mining facility in Indonesia, which has some of the world’s largest deposits of nickel. Chinese investors wanted to mine and smelt this critical “transition metal” (needed in batteries for electric vehicles) offshore so the operation would not add to the already poor air quality of most Chinese cities. The project proved a boon for local merchants who service the thousands of workers drawn to the site but every other impact was devastating. An aerial photograph of the site looks eerily like those taken of the Athabascan tar sands in western Canada – a lunar landscape of total ecological destruction. Pools of toxic waste nestle up against farmland. Those who make their living from agriculture – who, in the reporter’s phrase, “coaxed crops from the soil,” as if they were the ones out of synch with nature here – voiced sharp opposition to the project, as one would expect. Locals don masks on bad days; health clinics are full of people reporting lung ailments. Hours at the smelter are long, working conditions are horrendous, deadly accidents are commonplace. Non-native workers often find that their visas have been confiscated; a disturbing number choose suicide as their only avenue of escape. They wear helmets that signal by color their rank in the job hierarchy – yellow for those on the bottom, red, blue, and white for the workers and supervisors tiered by category above them. Nearly all the yellow helmets are worn by Indonesians, the rest by Chinese. The immigrant Chinese are sometimes prohibited from leaving the vicinity of their barracks lest the mere sight of them fan the animosity of native Indonesians into violence. Protests against the pollution and the caste labor system have been brutally suppressed by police and, when necessary, Indonesian army units.

Conditions such as these were not represented in the green visionary’s cost-of-transition circles. The mathematical representations diverted our attention from such realities as could be observed by the naked eye and invested our hopes in the very development – a growing “green economy” – that brought those conditions into being. This maneuver transported the discussion to a place beyond the reach of moral judgment. Anything that might provoke outrage – what most of us feel when we read about such things – had to be excluded so that the work of empirical calculation could proceed unsullied by any outpouring of empathy. Beyond that, these are just some holes in the ground. Rabbits and groundhogs, whom we tolerate, dig them too.

Also visible at the site, but buried within his math, were the energy sources that undermine the green visionary’s “we’ve bent the curve, people” cheeriness. Along with millions of tons of mined nickel spilled across the Sulawesi landscape, the reporter observed a “structure the size of several airplane hangars [holding] mountains of coal waiting to be fed into the park’s power plant to generate electricity.” Of course he did. All the major components of the “green economy” – windmills, photovoltaic cells, EV batteries – require fossil fuels for their production.

China licenses two new coal-fired electricity-generating plants a week to power its manufacturing facilities, including the ones that make those components. That is why CO2 emissions continue to rise with the numbers for renewable energy usage. As the fossil fuel companies are well aware, it is an integrated system. The economy envisioned by “green growth” enthusiasts, with its carbon capture scams and electrify everything fantasies, gives those companies a new lease on life. If they are to be put down, it will be by other means.

The reporter placed Jamal, a construction worker hired to build dormitories to accommodate the influx of smelter workers, at the center of his story. He had boosted his income by building a few rental units of his own and used that money to put tile on his floors and an air conditioner in his house. The “crux” of the matter, which the reporter derived from Jamal’s situation, was the trade-off Indonesians seemed willing to accept – “pollution and social strife for social mobility.” As Jamal put it, “the air is not good but we have better living standards.”

That does get us to the heart of things, although not in the way Jamal or the reporter imagines.

Notice that air quality is not perceived to be a component of living standards. The ecological and economic values are segregated, calculated separately, and then thrown on the scales to achieve the unhappy balance that marks the arrival of a reasonable conclusion. It mimics exactly Menand’s analysis of neoliberalism and every other account you will find online about nickel mining in Indonesia or, indeed, the mining and manufacture of anything needed for the “green transition.” The script is classically tragic – a lamentable situation unfolds that people, the reasonable ones at least, must accept as their share of a fated outcome.

So we look away from the holes in the ground and carry on, sadder perhaps but wiser. We collect data and mind our business. We add well-trained voices to those tasked with prettifying an administration which is building out the infrastructure for fossil fuel production faster and bigger than anybody. We applaud glitzy, upbeat presentations that assure us we can keep the consumer extravaganza going with batteries and solar panels. Nothing seems to shake our faith in the righteousness of that extravaganza, even as we are beset at every turn, in our communities and our homes, by despair and unhappiness.

There are plenty of bad actors in this story but rest assured that I am not placing anyone I have refenced here in that category. The explanations and projections of these observers fall short, as I see it, because they are coming at things with a stock of assumptions that is being depleted along with everything else. The intellectual climate, too, has grown chaotic. More precisely, a fissure has opened up between two ways of being reasonable. The old one, in place since the scientific revolution and on display in the arguments I have reviewed, is showing itself to be inadequate to the challenges – to reliable comprehension and sensible conduct – we now face. But a new one has arisen to supplant it. Those who nudged me in a new direction are not monks scribbling away in a monastery but writers with large readerships (Braiding Sweetgrass stayed on the NYT best seller list for over two years). The commitments that bind them as a group – to holism rather than dualism; to ecological rather than reductionist approaches to the natural world; to beauty and mutuality as defining features of that world and the need to take both into account when engaging with it for any purpose; to the worth and significance of every being, not just the humans, on the scene; to the value of being rooted in a particular place if we are to live free, well, and wisely – are shared as well by the millions of ordinary folks worldwide who have never been pried loose from these commitments in the first place. Further, those aspiring to be reasonable in this way exhibit remarkable diversity in political and religious beliefs. Among them you can find reactionaries and radicals, Christians and Buddhists, animists and atheists. Established methods for sorting out and evaluating political options and spiritual possibilities, like the old way of being scientific, have been compromised by serious weather damage. They are not worthy of repair. A new mass constituency for fundamental change – the new way of reasoning made flesh – is visible amidst the blight and the rot. No member of this constituency would find it reasonable to trade clean air for cheap household items, health and justice for toys and gadgets.

Here is real cause for optimism. Here is a transition sure to reward the hopes we place in it. The change in consciousness that must happen if we are to live within the planetary limits we have so foolishly imagined we could ignore is underway. Too slowly, and as yet on too small a terrain, but it is underway.

How to Beat the Fracking Frenzy

How to Beat the Fracking Frenzy

Editor’s Note: The successful Irish struggle against fracking by multi-national gas company Tamboran offers key insights on community power building for anti-extraction movements across the world.
The Australian corporation paints its international natural gas projects as ‘green’ with words like “Net Zero CO2 Energy Transition”. But people in the Beetaloo Basin in Australia and Leitrim in Ireland don’t fall for their lies.

Read about how local people, farmers, fishers and artists – deeply intertwined with their land – unite to fight for what they hold dear: rivers and streams, peat lands and hills, villages and work on the land.

Resistance movements of the past, both successful and unsuccessful, are a good lesson in organizing and strategy. DGR supports resistance against renewable energies as well, but as we see, the struggle against fossil fuels continues in every country.


By Jamie Gorman/Waging Nonviolence

Australian resistance

The reality of the climate crisis makes it clear that we must leave the “oil in the soil” and the “gas under the grass,” as the Oilwatch International slogan goes. The fossil fuel industry knew this before anyone else. Yet the industry continues to seek new extractive frontiers on all continents in what has been labeled a “fracking frenzy” by campaigners.

In Australia, unconventional fossil gas exploration has been on the rise over the last two decades. Coal seam gas wells have been in production since 2013, while community resistance has so far prevented the threat of shale gas fracking. The climate crisis and state commitments under the Paris Agreement means that the window for exploration is closing. But the Australian economy remains hooked on fossil fuels and the industry claims that fossil gas is essential for economic recovery from COVID, “green growth” and meeting net-zero targets.

The Northern Territory, or NT, government is particularly eager to exploit its fossil fuel reserves and wants to open up extraction in the Beetaloo Basin as part of its gas strategy. The NT recently announced a $1.32 billion fossil fuel subsidy for gas infrastructure project Middle Arm and greenlighted the drilling of 12 wells by fracking company Tamboran Resources as a first step towards full production.

Beetaloo Basin community struggle

Gas exploration is inherently speculative with high risks. The threat of reputational damage is high enough that large blue chip energy companies like Origin Energy — a major player in the Australian energy market — are turning away from shale. This leaves the field to smaller players who are willing to take a gamble in search of a quick buck. This is precisely how Tamboran came to prominence in Australia. After buying out Origin Energy in September 2022, Tamboran is now the biggest player in the Northern Territory’s drive to drill.

NT anti-fracking campaigner Hannah Ekin described this point as “a really key moment in the campaign to stop fracking in the Beetaloo basin.”

For over a decade, “Traditional Owners, pastoralists and the broader community have held the industry at bay, but we are now staring down the possibility of full production licenses being issued in the near future.”

Despite this threat, Tamboran has been stopped before. In 2017, community activists in Ireland mobilized a grassroots movement that forced the state to revoke Tamboran’s license and ban fracking. Although the context may be different, this successful Irish campaign has many key insights to offer those on the frontlines of resistance in Australia — as well as the wider anti-extraction movements all over the world.

Fracking comes to Ireland

In February 2011, Tamboran was awarded an exploratory license in Ireland — without public knowledge or consent. They planned to exploit the shale gas of the northwest carboniferous basin and set their sights on county Leitrim. The county is a beautiful, mountainous place, with small communities nestled in valleys carved by glaciers in the last ice age.

The landscape is watery: peat bogs, marshes and gushing rivers are replenished by near daily downpours as Atlantic coast weather fronts meet Ireland’s western seaboard. Farming families go back generations on land that can be difficult to cultivate. Out of this land spring vibrant and creative communities, despite — or perhaps because of — the challenges of being on the margins and politically peripheral.

The affected communities first realized Tamboran’s plans when the company began a PR exercise touting jobs and economic development. In seeking to understand what they faced, people turned to other communities experiencing similar issues. A mobile cinema toured the glens of Leitrim showing Josh Fox’s documentary “Gasland.” After the film there were Q&As with folks from another Irish community, those resisting a Shell pipeline and gas refinery project at Rossport. Out of these early exchanges, an anti-fracking movement comprised of many groups and individuals emerged. One in particular — Love Leitrim, or LL, which formed in late 2011 — underscored the importance of a grassroots community response.

Resisting fracking by celebrating the positives about Leitrim life was a conscious strategic decision and became the group’s hallmark.

In LL’s constitution, campaigners asserted that Leitrim is “a vibrant, creative, inclusive and diverse community,” challenging the underlying assumptions of the fracking project that Leitrim was a marginal place worth sacrificing for gas. The group developed a twin strategy of local organizing — which rooted them in the community — and political campaigning, which enabled them to reach from the margins to the center of Irish politics.

This combination of “rooting” and “reaching” was crucial to the campaign’s success.

5 key rooting strategies

The first step towards defeating Tamboran in Ireland was building a movement rooted in the local community. Out of this experience, five key “rooting strategies” for local organizing emerged — showing how the resistance developed a strong social license and built community power.

1. Build from and on relationships

Good relationships were essential to building trust in LL’s campaign. Who was involved — and who was seen to be involved — were crucial for rooting the campaign in the community. Local people were far more likely to trust and accept information that was provided by those they knew, and getting the public support of local farmers, fishers and well-known people was crucial. Building on existing relationships and social bonds, LL became deeply rooted in local life in a way that provided a powerful social license and a strongly-rooted base to enable resistance to fracking.

2. Foster ‘two-way’ community engagement

LL engaged the community with its campaign and, at the same time, actively participated as volunteers in community events. This two-way community engagement built trust and networked the campaign in the community. LL actively participated in local events such as markets, fairs and the St. Patrick’s Day parade, which offered creative ways to boost their visibility. At the same time, LL also volunteered to support events run by other community groups, from fun-runs to bake sales. According to LL member Heather (who, along with others in this article, is quoted on the condition of anonymity), this strategy was essential to “building up trust … between the group, its name and what it wants, and the community.”

3. Celebrate community

In line with its vision, LL celebrated and fostered community in many ways. This was typified by its organizing of a street feast world café event during a 2017 community festival that saw people come together over a meal to discuss their visions of Leitrim now and for their children. LL members also supported local renewable energy and ecotourism projects that advanced alternative visions of development. Celebrating and strengthening the community in this way challenged the fundamental assumptions of the fracking project — a politics of disposability which assumed that Leitrim could be sacrificed to fuel the extractivist economy.

4. Connect to culture

Campaigners saw culture as a medium for catalyzing conversations and connecting with popular folk wisdom. LL worked with musicians, artists and local celebrities in order to relate fracking to popular cultural and historical narratives that resonated with communities through folk music and cultural events. This was particularly important in 2016, the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, which ultimately led to Irish independence from the British Empire. Making those connections tapped into radical strands of the popular imagination. Drawing on critical counter-narratives in creative ways overcame the potential for falling into negative activist stereotypes. Through culture, campaigners could present new or alternative stories, experiences or ideas in a way that evocatively connected with people.

5. Build networks of solidarity

Reaching out to other frontline communities was a powerful and evocative way to raise awareness of fracking and extractivism from people who had experienced them first-hand.

As local campaigner Bernie explained, “When someone comes, it’s on a human level people can appreciate and understand. When they tell their personal story, that makes a difference.”

Perhaps the most significant guest speaker was Canadian activist Jessica Ernst, whose February 2012 presentation to a packed meeting in the Rainbow ballroom was described by many campaigners as a key moment in the campaign. Ernst is a former gas industry engineer who found herself battling the fracking industry on her own land. She told her personal story, the power of which was heightened by her own industry insider credentials and social capital as a landowner. Reflecting on the event, LL member Triona remembered looking around the room and seeing “all the farmers, the landowners, who are the important people to have there — and people were really listening.”

4 key reaching strategies against fracking

With a strong social license and empowered network of activists, the next step for the anti-fracking movement was to identify how to make their voices heard and influence public policy. This required reaching beyond the local community scale to engage in national political decision making around fracking. Four key strategies enabled campaigners to successfully jump scales and secure a national fracking ban.

1. Find strategic framings

Tamboran sought to frame the public conversation on narrow technical issues surrounding single drilling sites, pipelines and infrastructure, obscuring the full impact of the thousands of planned wells.

As LL campaigner Robert pointed out, this “project-splitting” approach “isn’t safe for communities, but it’s easier for the industry because they’re getting into a position where they’re unstoppable.”

Addressing the impact of the entire project at a policy level became a key concern for campaigners. LL needed framings that would carry weight with decision makers, regulators and the media.

Listening and dialogue in communities helped campaigners to understand and root the campaign in local concerns. From this, public health and democracy emerged as frames that resonated locally, while also carrying currency nationally.

The public health frame mobilized a wide base of opposition. Yet it was not a consideration in the initial Irish Environmental Protection Agency research to devise a regulatory framework for fracking. LL mobilized a campaign that established public health as a key test of the public’s trust in the study’s legitimacy. The EPA conceded and amended the study’s terms of reference to include public health. This enabled campaigners to draw on emerging health impact research from North American fracking sites, providing evidence that would have “cache with the politicians,” as LL member Alison put it. Working alongside campaigners from New York, LL established the advocacy group Concerned Health Professionals of Ireland, or CHPI, mirroring a similar, highly effective New York group. CHPI was crucial to highlighting the public health case for a ban on fracking and shaping the media and political debate.

2. Demonstrate resistance

Having rooted the campaign in local community life, LL catalyzed key groups like farmers and fishers to mobilize their bases. Farmers in LL worked within their social networks to organize a tractorcade. “It was all word of mouth … knocking on doors and phone calls,” said Fergus, the lead organizer for the event. Such demonstrations were “a show of solidarity with the farmers who are the landowners,” Triona recalled. They were also aimed at forcing the farmer’s union to take a public position on fracking. The event demonstrated to local farmers union leaders that their members were opposed to fracking, encouraging them to break their silence on the issue.

Collective action also enforced a bottom line of resistance to the industry. Tamboran made one attempt to drill a test well in 2014. Community mobilization prevented equipment getting to the site for a week while a legal battle over a lack of an environmental impact assessment was fought and won. Reflecting on this success, Robert suggested that communities can be nodes of resistance to “fundamental, large problems that aren’t that easy to solve” because “one of the things small communities can do is simply say no.”

And when frontline communities are networked, then “every time a community resists, it empowers another community to resist.”

3. Engage politicians before regulators

In 2013, when Tamboran was renewing its license, campaigners found that there was no public consultation mechanism. Despite this, LL organized an “Application Not to Frack.” This was printed in a local newspaper, and the public was encouraged to cut it out and sign it. This grassroots counter-application carried no weight with regulators, but with an emphasis on rights and democracy, it sent a strong signal to politicians.

Submitting their counter application, LL issued a press release: Throughout this process people have been forgotten about. We want to put people back into the center of decision making … We are asking the Irish government: Are you with your people or not?

At a time when public sentiment was disillusioned with the political establishment in the aftermath of the 2011 financial crisis, LL tapped into this sentiment to discursively jump from the scale of a localized place-based struggle to one that was emblematic of wider democratic discontents and of national importance.

Frontline environmental justice campaigns often experience procedural injustices when navigating governance structures that privilege scientific/technical expertise. Rather than attempt an asymmetrical engagement with regulators, LL forced public debate in the political arena. In that space, they were electors holding politicians to account rather than lay-people with insufficient scientific knowledge to contribute to the policy making process.

The group used a variety of creative tactics and strategic advocacy to engage local politicians. This approach — backed up by a strongly rooted base — led to unanimous support for a ban from politicians in the license area. In the 2016 election, the only pro-fracking candidate failed to win a seat. Local democratic will was clear. Campaigners set their sights on parliament and a national fracking ban.

4. Focus on the parliament

The lack of any public consultation before exploration commenced led campaigners to fear that decisions would continue to be made without public scrutiny. LL built strategic relationships with politicians across the political spectrum with the aim of forcing accountability in the regulatory system. A major obstacle to legislation was the ongoing EPA study, which was to inform government decisions on future licensing. But it emerged that CDM Smith, a vocally pro-fracking engineering firm, had been contracted for much of the work. The study was likely to set a roadmap to frack.
Campaigners had two tasks: to politically discredit the EPA study and work towards a fracking ban.

They identified the different roles politicians across the political spectrum — and between government and opposition — could strategically play in the parliamentary process.

While continuing a public campaign, the group engaged in intensive advocacy efforts, working with supportive parliamentarians to host briefings where community members addressed lawmakers, submitted parliamentary questions to the minister, used their party’s speaking time to address the issue, raised issues at parliamentary committee hearings, and proposed motions and legislative bills.

While the politicians were also not environmental experts, their position as elected representatives meant that regulators were accountable to them. Political pressure thus led to the shelving of the compromised EPA study and paved the way for a ban. Several bills had been tabled.

By chance, the one that was first scheduled for debate was from a Leitrim politician whose bill was backed by campaigners as the most watertight. With one final push from campaigners, it secured support from lawmakers across parties and a government motion to block it was fought off.

In November 2017, six years after Tamboran arrived in Leitrim, fracking was finally banned in Ireland. It was a win for people power and democracy.

Building a bridge to the Beetaloo and beyond

Pacifist-anarchist folk singer Utah Phillips described folk songs as “bridges” between past struggles and the listener’s present. Bridges enable the sharing of knowledge and critical understanding across time and distances. Similarly, stories of struggle act as a bridge, between the world of the reader and the world of the story, sharing wisdom, and practical and ethical knowledge. The story of successful Irish resistance to Tamboran is grounded in a particular political moment and a particular cultural context. The political and cultural context faced by Australian campaigners is very different. Yet there are certainly insights that can bridge the gap between Ireland and Australia.

The Irish campaign shows us how crucial relationships and strongly rooted community networks can be when people mobilize.

In the NT, campaigners have similarly sought to build alliances across the territory and between traditional Indigenous owners and pastoralists. This is crucial, suggests NT anti-fracking campaigner Hannah Ekin, because “the population affected by fracking in the NT is very diverse, and different communities often have conflicting interests, values and lifestyles.”

LL’s campaign demonstrates the importance of campaign framings reflective of local contexts and concerns. While public health was a unifying frame in Ireland, Ekin notes that the protection of water has become “a real motivator” and a rallying cry that “unites people across the region” because “if we over-extract or contaminate the groundwater we rely on, we are jeopardizing our capacity to continue living here.”

The Beetaloo is a sacred site for First Nations communities, with sacred song lines connected to the waterways. “We have to maintain the health of the waterways,” stressed Mudburra elder Raymond Dimikarri Dixon. “That water is alive through the song line. If that water isn’t there the songlines will die too.”

In scaling up from local organizing to national campaigning, the Irish campaign demonstrated the importance of challenging project splitting and engaging the political system to avoid being silenced by the technicalities of the regulatory process. In the NT, the government is advancing the infrastructure to drill, transport and process fracked gas. This onslaught puts enormous pressure on campaigners. “It’s death by a thousand cuts,” Ekin noted. “We are constantly on the back foot trying to stop each individual application for a few wells here, a few wells there, as the industry entrenches itself as inevitable.”

In December 2022, Environment Minister Lauren Moss approved a plan by Tamboran Resources to frack 12 wells in the Beetaloo as they move towards full production. But campaigners are determined to stop them: the Central Australian Frack Free Alliance, or CAFFA, is taking the minister to court for failing to address the cumulative impacts of the project as a whole. By launching this case CAFFA wants to shift the conversation to the bigger issue of challenging a full scale fracking industry in the NT. As Ekin explained, “We want to make the government listen to the community, who for over a decade now have been saying that fracking is not safe, not trusted, not wanted in the territory.”


 

The Electric Vehicle ‘revolution’ and Forever Wars

The Electric Vehicle ‘revolution’ and Forever Wars

Editor’s note: The US military is the largest emitter of greenhouse gas pollution in the world. It is through the allocation of over half the federal government budget that this is made possible. So when companies say that the destruction of the environment must be done to save the planet, this fact is never mentioned. We are in fact in an existential situation and yet ending the war machine is never on the table. The evil empire will do what it has always done, which is to extract the wealth of the land to the determinant of those that live there. And this will not end until it collapses. If we are to have anything left before this happens we must fight to save it.


By Katie Fite/Counterpunch

Critical Minerals Propaganda

In early summer, Vale BLM (Bureau of Land Management) held a Resource Advisory Council meeting in McDermitt, ground zero for the critical minerals rush on public lands. Lithium driller Jindalee HiTech got to talk about the company’s horrifying new exploration drilling proposal for 267 more drill holes, wastewater sumps, and 30 miles of new “temporary” roads. The project would tear rip apart irreplaceable Sage-grouse Focal habitat, as a prelude to open pit strip mining for lower grade lithium. The BLM geologist showed a video, How Critical Minerals are Vital to the Climate Fight, that had appeared on ABC news.

One narrator, Reed Blakemore, was from the Atlantic Council think tank known for never seeing a War or US-backed coup it wouldn’t propagandize and cheerlead for. The other narrator works for an organization called SAFE. Their mission appears to be strident propaganda shaping policies, perceptions and practices and support for wresting control of critical minerals and energy, no matter how unsafe it makes the world or how much environmental damage is caused. The two harangue viewers about the need to get “shovels in the ground”. It includes a clip of Biden bragging about the Defense Production Act.

SAFE’s Website boasts about working with retired 4 star generals. A scroll through their Twitter account shows them pushing for streamlining environmental analysis–like the type of NEPA and tribal consultation short-cuts which contributed to the Thacker Pass (Peehee mu’huh) controversy that rages on. SAFE screeches about mineral laundering by China, adores high voltage transmission lines, and my favorite: SAFE believes the Biden admin must take an aggressive approach that raises strong walls around foreign entities of concern while lowering drawbridges for our allies, like South Korea”. And hurl pots of burning oil down on the enemies of Fortress America from the castle keep?

This energy transition and critical minerals crusade on public lands is very much about retaining a corporate iron grip on energy, and increasingly seems to be about feeding the Military Industrial Complex. Watching the video, it belatedly dawned on me that critical minerals and green energy Neocons are driving much of the agenda. It’s certainly neocolonialist, but with the added twist of the Neocon global control freaks, and no dissent is allowed. We’ll grab what we want, anywhere, no matter if we break it all apart, no restraints tolerated, and we and our friends will make a fortune. The McDermitt caldera encapsulates the clash between supposed clean energy and the dirty reality for public land, water, communities, biodiversity, and a sane path to sustainability and energy change.

The EV “revolution” is being carried out with the same mindset, hubris, lies, greed, propaganda and war mongering that plunged us ever deeper into the fossil fuels mess and Forever Wars. The public is being propagandized by the Atlantic Council, SAFE, and others to blindly accept the sacrifice of any place, anywhere – under claims of saving us from climate change (as we continue to guzzle energy without limits). It’s also about domination and empire. Just like with oil, they won’t be content with a “domestic supply”, and instead seek to control all of it. Leadership of big green groups often appears captured by these critical minerals and energy Neocons – witness those dead serious Sierra Club outreach e-mails with a tangle of high voltage transmission lines portraying NEPA short-cuts as a good thing.

War Contractor Bechtel Selected to Build the Thacker Pass Mine, Mine Costs Double

Environews provides a whirlwind summary of some 2023 Thacker Pass events. Lithium Americas contracted with Bechtel Mining and Metals for engineering, procurement and execution of the mine. Bechtel is an industrial contractor and war profiteer who reaped massive government contracts during our Forever Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They’ve already signed a reconstruction agreement with Ukraine, a tad prematurely. They go way back, having built Hoover Dam and infrastructure for the Manhattan atomic bomb project at Hanford and elsewhere. Hanford plutonium was used in the nuclear bomb the US dropped on the people of Nagasaki Japan. To this day, Bechtel is involved in Forever Clean Up at nuclear facilities, including the most toxic place in America, and helping work on new nukes, keeping the gravy train going. The International Committee for Investigative Journalists summarized:

“Bechtel has been heavily involved in both commercial and military nuclear activities. These have included some of the most notable nuclear mishaps in U.S. history, from California’s San Onofre reactor installed backwards, to the botched clean up of Three Mile Island … Bechtel is finding ways to profit from the radioactive mess its projects have created.”

Regarding Bechtel’s endless Hanford work and profiteering Joshua Frank describes “they have a really bad track record and are well known for reaping the spoils of U.S. military ventures all over the globe. In October they had a test facility up and running that was going to do a run of vitrification for low-level radioactive waste. They basically had a ribbon cutting for this big machine and it ran for a week, then overheated, and they had to shut it down”.

Tribes consider this land to be a Traditional Cultural Property. Reno-Sparks Indian Colony and Summit Lake Tribe submitted a Traditional Cultural Property Eligibility Statement, (Peehee mu’huh: A Living Monument to Numu History and Culture District. September 12, 1865 Thacker Pass Massacre Site) to the BLM. It seeks official Interior Department recognition. Now it’s reported that BLM is sitting on the document, and never transmitted it to the National Park Service who oversees National Historic Register sites. Meanwhile, site integrity is being obliterated. Time after time – in local, national and international media – elders and tribal members have said that lithium mining desecration and destruction at Thacker Pass is like digging up Arlington Cemetery.

A recent deluge of news articles, many appeared planted, hyped a geological study that largely rehashes long known geological information. This helps fuel speculation and increase political pressure on agencies to rubberstamp projects. Following weeks of media gushing about the overblown study, the Nevada Current exposes what’s going on:

“The study was funded by Lithium Americas, and includes research from Lithium Americas employee and shareholder, Thomas Benson”. He was the lead author, but most media stories skipped right over that inconvenient fact.

“John Hadder, the director of the Great Basin Resource Watch … said while the study may be helpful in pitching mining in the area, his organization has heard claims of “largest lithium deposit” from places around the world.

“I am concerned that this report will be used to advance more lithium mining in the region, and pressure the frontline peoples to accept mine plans,” said Hadder. “Regardless of how much lithium may be extractable, the sloppy permitting process that led to the Thacker Pass mine must not be duplicated. Indigenous ancestral lands that have cultural values must be protected, and Indigenous communities should have the right to say no”.

The publicity also bumped up Lithium Americas stock that had sagged a bit. And it seems there was another purpose, too. Lithium Americas is angling for a $1 billion DOE (Department of Energy) loan handout, the largest amount ever. The same outlets that hyped the geological paper are all agog, casting this as “an historic 1 billion”. Reuters now reports Lithium Americas had raised its budget for the first phase of the Thacker Pass project to $2.27 billion, from $1.06 billion, reflecting changes to its production plans”. The loan is claimed to be 50 to 75% of the mine cost. Is this price explosion due to estimates of production linked to the hyped study, or is there a huge mine cost over-run right out of the starting gate? Lithium Americas did choose a contractor with long experience profiting off the US’s trillion-dollar foreign misadventures and nuclear mess. If the lithium mine gets this obscene DOE handout, will dollars evaporate, like four Hanford whistleblowers exposed:

“It is stunning that, for a decade, Bechtel and AECOM chose to line their corporate pockets by diverting important taxpayer funds from this critically essential effort,” Assistant US Attorney Joseph Harrington said in a news release …The case started after four whistleblowers came forward in 2016, telling federal prosecutors about alleged time-card fraud in which the companies billed the U. S. Department of Energy for work that was never completed. The companies hired hundreds of electricians, millwrights, pipefitters … to build the plant … and then over-charged for the workers even when those workers had no duties to perform …”.

The Department of Justice Press release on the Hanford deception is here. The time-card fraud involved DOE funds. Now DOE appears on the verge of lavishing a billion-dollar loan on Lithium Americas who uses this same contractor.

GM Thacker Pass Lithium in Ultium Batteries, GM and War Machines

GM is now implicated as a major player in Caldera lithium mania. In January 2023, GM announced it would invest $650 million in Lithium Americas and use Thacker Pass lithium for its Ultium batteries:

“Lithium carbonate from Thacker Pass will be used in GM’s proprietary Ultium battery cells. … GM is launching a broad portfolio of trucks, SUVs, luxury vehicles and light commercial vehicles using the Ultium Platform, including the GMC HUMMER EV Pickup and SUV, GMC Sierra EV, Cadillac LYRIQ, Cadillac CELESTIQ, Chevrolet Silverado EV, Chevrolet Blazer EV, Chevrolet Equinox EV, BrightDrop Zevo 400 and BrightDrop Zevo 600”.

But these aren’t the only GM vehicles using Ultium batteries. Clean Technica headlined, “The US military is buying Ultium Battery Packs from GM Defense”. Get ready for the Green Wars, folks, including the Green Wars for Green Minerals. Are wild and sacred places of the McDermitt Caldera going to be destroyed not only for bloated GM pick-ups, street Hummers and virtue signaling about the climate crisis, but also for War machines too — gutting the West for critical minerals so we can waste untold amounts of energy and minerals on more Forever Wars?

GM Defense proclaims it’s driving the future of military mobility, with a five-passenger All-Electric Military Concept Vehicle, and working on energy storage for the tactical warfighter. Ultium batteries are also used in armored diplomatic vehicles that look like a sure hit with narco kingpins. Other monstrosities like this tactical truck, don’t yet appear to have EV batteries, but GM does promise they’re fuel efficient. How long until US troops de-stabilizing South American countries to gain control of their lithium, or maneuvering to grab foreign oil, are cruising around in EVs? At the end of a Reno KTVN Channel 2 video full of land destruction images and lithium company spin, the reporter says “lithium is a hot commodity”. The lithium company’s spokesman replies “it’s essential for national security”. Note that lithium is also used in designs of some nuclear reactors and in the nuclear weapons industry.

GM Greenwashing, Thacker Pass Lithium, Social Injustice

A Mighty Earth report, GM Wants ‘Everybody In’ on Greenwashing, tells how GM’s human rights policy conflicts with its investment in Thacker Pass, how they’re building hulks while smaller cars sold may largely be from China, a continuing dirty supply chain, a poor score in indigenous rights protection, and how often GM makes commitments but doesn’t follow through. In the report, the People of Red Mountain Atsa Koodakuh wyh Nuwu explain that “the entire landscape of the McDermitt caldera is sacred to Nevada, California and Oregon tribal nations”

The brutal 1865 US cavalry massacre of a Paiute camp at Thacker Pass was part of the memory-holed Snake War of Extermination. The massacre was not revealed by BLM in the mine EIS. During litigation, Tribes presented resounding evidence – US surveyor records, contemporaneous newspaper stories, and survivor Ox Sam’s own account from Big Bill Haywood’s Autobiography. The Biden-Haaland BLM brushed it all aside, to the anger and dismay of Tribes and many other people. The stalled Traditional Cultural Property document contains the records. Perhaps doling out a $1 billion loan for the destruction of an officially recognized massacre site might be a bridge too far, even for Jennifer Granholm’s DOE.

In spring 2023, the Ox Sam women’s protest camp was set up at Thacker Pass by a gaping water pipeline trench the company had ripped past sacred Sentinel Rock. The camp was raided after a protest action. Now Ox Sam descendants and white activists associated with the camp are being sued in a vile SLAPP suit: After getting hammered with lawsuits aimed at halting development of a lithium mine at Northern Nevada’s Thacker Pass, a Canadian-based mining company has turned the tables and is suing the mine’s protesters … the protesters and an attorney representing them counter that the lawsuit is similar to a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP), aimed at intimidating and silencing their free speech”.

How’s that for upholding ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) principles, and the other social responsibility jargon Lithium Americas and the mob of Caldera miners use to lull investors?

Aurora Schemes of Yellowcake and Green Uranium

Aurora Energy Metals is trying to resurrect a uranium project long thought dead. Promotion videos show Greg Cochran, an Australian “uranium veteran” leading the Aurora charge. Before alighting in the Caldera, Cochran had been with Australian uranium miner Deep Yellow. Here’s Friends of the Earth Melbourne on Deep Yellow, “The Mulga Rock uranium project east of Kalgoorlie is now under the leadership of a team with a track record of over-promising, under-performing and literally blowing up cultural sites”. And this from the Conservation Council of WA (West Australia),“We’ve gone from the inexperienced and cash-poor Vimy Resources to Deep Yellow who are led by a team with a track record that highlights why uranium mining does not have a social license”. 

Aurora drilled a few exploration holes in fall 2022 extended a bit of drilling into a winter exclusion period. Now they seek to expand drilling under a NEPA-less, no public comment Notice, which is how the Jindalee sagebrush killing drilling to date has been done.

Aurora’s mining scheme, where some lower grade lithium overlays uranium deposits, is explained in a Proactive Investors video. Cochran envisions the mine of the future with a conveyor belt or pipeline jetting lithium or uranium slurry or crushed rock from Oregon across the state line down onto private land in Nevada, where a processing plant and waste heaps would be located. The video interviewer asks: “Tell me more about this property you bought in Nevada”. Cochran replies:

“Yeah, we kept that under wraps for quite a while because we wanted to make sure that nobody else kind of gazumped us. … We had this strategy of identifying suitable locations within Nevada for the processing plant … because… we know that they understand mining a lot better than Oregon … Nothing is a free pass, but it would allow us, we believe, to permit quicker. Private land to boot is even more attractive. … We discovered that one of the landowners was looking to sell. So, right place, right time. I’m already … envisioning … the mine of the future. Where you develop this mine. You’ve got a crusher, you run a very fancy overland conveyor – or pipeline for that matter – across to Nevada which as the crow flies it’s only 8 or 9 k’s – so there’s no tracking, no footprint … negligible CO2 emissions …’.

He says the Aurora project would be ticking all the boxes in terms of ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) approval – right after detailing a plan to evade Oregon regulations on uranium pollution by moving the hot rocks across the state line. Apparently, radioactive material infiltrating air, groundwater, plants, wildlife, and contaminating the community, doesn’t count when you’re ticking ESG boxes. The same plan is repeated in a Mining Network video here, with Cochran talking about Nevada land enabling Aurora to “permit a quarry in Oregon”, which he describes as fairly straightforward, while siting the processing plant and waste heaps in Nevada. In a Thacker Pass state permitting meeting, Nevada Department of Environmental Quality staff admitted they couldn’t recall not permitting a mine.

Aurora’s Nevada land is around 4 miles west of town, right by the state line south of where the Disaster Peak county road starts. In an Australian publication, Aurora, described as a “shining light”, says that because there’s some hydropower at the site “we have the potential to deliver green uranium”, in a “uranium friendly mining jurisdiction”. Welcome to Nevada – the Uranium Waste Heap State. No Rocks Too Hot to Handle. You can already envision more billboards sprouting up on Highway 95.

A past effort to wrest uranium from Caldera earth fizzled when Fukushima grayed up the miner’s blue sky on uranium. Back then, Oregon mining activist Larry Tuttle warned in Read the Dirt about yellowcake production, water use, the toxic waste stream, tailings ponds and Oregon’s very own Lucky Lass superfund site experience near Lakeview:

Sulfuric acid in the tailings also dissolves and leaches heavy metals – mercury, molybdenum, arsenic, lead, manganese, and cadmium – as well as uranium. (The Aurora site has already been extensively mined for mercury, which pose additional health perils; sulfuric acid easily bonds with and transports mercury to waterways.) Residual uranium elements in the tailings decay and release radon; heavy metals also continue to interact within tailings and other wastes.

For communities as diverse as Moab, Utah, and Jeffrey City, Wyoming (often called yellowcake towns), the effects of uranium mining on public services and resources; ground and surface water; and, air quality are serious and dramatic”.

The Moab Times just reported on resistance to uranium mining and processing at the La Sal Complex near Moab and the Pinyon Plain mine near the Grand Canyon, in “Ute Mountain Utes march against White Mesa as Energy Fuels prepares to reopen uranium mines:

“Some White Mesa residents have long been concerned that the mill, which lies four miles north of the community, is contaminating nearby groundwater, air and wildlife with radon that allegedly blows and seeps off the mill’s tailings impoundments”.

While uranium miners attempt to tamp down dangers, Ute tribal members monitoring past mining effects have measured whopping levels of uranium in spring water, there’s a sulfur odor in the air with re-processing taking place, and animals are disappearing from the mesa. For the record, uranium was recently shifted from the critical minerals list, and is now a fuel mineral with friends in Congress. Caldera uranium is found in uraninite and coffinite ore. No, someone didn’t have a morbid sense of humor, it’s said to be named after a geologist.

Trying to track the serial land destroyers and speculators who’ve descended on the Caldera is quite confusing. It’s unclear who now controls FMS claims. On-line sources show conflicting information. An Aurora prospectus said they control Oregon FMS “CALD” claims. A company named Chariot now appears involved with Oregon and Nevada FMS claims – all located in terrible places for wildlife. Lithium Americas holds a north-south block of claims in extremely sensitive wildlife habitat up in the Montana Mountains. They repeatedly told the public during the Thacker Pass EIS process that the project was sited to avoid those Sage-grouse conflicts, and that they wouldn’t mine up there because wildlife values were so high.

Puzzlingly, a 2016 SEC Report map shows Lithium Americas then controlling much of the current Jindalee claims block in “Miller” [Malheur] county. Why would they let go of Oregon claims while gearing up for Thacker? FMS Nevada claims lie in critical sagebrush by the east face of the Montanas. LiVE, another company, also has some Nevada claims. This month, there were mining press articles and a video about Jindalee drilling again this November. I contacted Vale BLM, and BLM says No. If you’re out in the Caldera, keep your eyes on what’s going on.

Jim Jeffress, a retired NDOW biologist (so he can speak his mind) describes how ideal for Sage-grouse Caldera lands are. He says what happens in the Montana Mountains with key sage grouse habitat “will define the resolve of the state of Nevada and BLM in the recovery of Sage-grouse in Nevada”. He extols the high bird abundance, the ideal habitat configuration, calls the Montanas exceptionally important, the gold standard for Sage-grouse, and a critical bridge between populations, writing:

“My primary concern is focused on ANY mine site or extraction areas on top of the Montana Mountains in the area commonly referred to as Lone Willow, now or in the future. That concern extends into Jordan Meadows in the east that serves as wintering grounds for the Montana Mountains sage-grouse population and those in southern Oregon”.

The Caldera is a unique inter-connected ecosystem, spanning Nevada and Oregon, with irreplaceable habitat for Sage-grouse and other wildlife. It must be protected from a mad, rapacious minerals rush.

Photo Bhie-Cie Zahn-Nahtzu in prayer at Peehee Mu’huh from Protect Thacker Pass website


Event Alert

Environmental Advocates and Groups To Protest Latest Proposed Algonquin Pipeline Expansion Near Shuttered Indian Point Nuclear Plant

On Tuesday, activists will rally outside the shuttered Indian Point nuclear plant in Buchanan in protest of the latest proposed Algonquin Pipeline Expansion in the area. The protest will occur blocks from where, in 2016, three activists were arrested for blocking the last Algonquin Pipeline expansion of an added 42-inch high-pressure pipeline. In addition, two older 32-inch and 23-inch pipelines run underneath the plant. Decommissioning at Indian Point houses over 2,000 tons of irradiated fuel rods in addition to other radioactive waste.

Protestors will call on Governor Hochul to stop pipeline owner Enbridge’s latest “Project Maple” proposal. Project Maple was noticed by Enbridge HERE.

WHAT: Rally calling on Governor Hochul to stop Enbridge’s “Project Maple” fracked gas pipeline expansion

WHEN: Tuesday, November 14 at 4:30pm ET

WHERE: Outside the shuttered Indian Point nuclear plant on the corner of Bleakley Ave & Broadway in Buchanan, NY

WHO: Activists representing Food & Water Watch, United for Clean Energy, Safe Energy Rights Group, and more

SIGN-UP HERE: https://www.mobilize.us/fww/event/592008/

“Project Maple” would significantly expand the amount of gas transmitted through the Algonquin Pipeline which runs from the Hudson Valley through Connecticut to Massachusetts. Enbridge anticipates its proposal to come on line as soon as November 2029.

The proposal to expand fracked gas in the region comes despite New York’s Climate Leadership & Community Protection Act which mandates greenhouse gas emissions reductions of at least 85 percent by 2050 and the state’s nation leading ban on fossil fuels in new buildings, which will go into effect in 2026.

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!

Growing Distrust In US About Offshore Oil Drilling

Growing Distrust In US About Offshore Oil Drilling

Editor’s Note: We bring to you a combination of two posts. The first is about a mass arrest of activists during climate protests on September 18. The protests were part of a global coordinated climate action. The second is about the new permits issued in the US for offshore oil drilling. For a president who ran his election on not allowing any more drillings, the move is a shift from his electoral promises. Though reflecting a lack of integrity, it still does not come as a surprise. Both the Democratic and Republican parties have shown, time and again, to favor corporations over nature, people, justice and freedom. This crackdown on protestors and permission for new drilling projects are just a reflection of that. As much as we oppose fossil fuels and oil drilling, DGR does not believe a renewable transition to be a solution to it. And calling a climate emergency to pursue that purpose would be folly.


114 Climate Defenders Arrested While Blocking Entry to NY Federal Reserve

By Brett Wilkins/Common Dreams

A day after tens of thousands of climate activists marched through Manhattan’s Upper East Side demanding an end to oil, gas, and coal production, thousands more demonstrators hit the streets of Lower Manhattan Monday, where more than 100 people were arrested while surrounding the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to protest fossil fuel financing.

Protesters chanted slogans like “No oil, no gas, fossil fuels can kiss my ass” and “We need clean air, not another billionaire” as they marched from Zuccotti Park—ground zero of the 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement—to pre-selected sites in the Financial District. Witnesses said many of the activists attempted to reach the New York Stock Exchange but were blocked by police.

“We’re here to wake up the regulators who are asleep at the wheel as they continue to let Wall Street lead us into ANOTHER financial crash with their fossil fuel financing,” the Stop the Money Pipeline coalition explained on social media.

Protests against 300-mile-long oil pipeline through the Appalachians

Local and national media reported New York Police Department (NYPD) officers arrested 114 protesters and charged them with civil disobedience Monday after they blocked entrances to the Fed building. Most of those arrested were expected to be booked and released.

“I’m being arrested for exercising my First Amendment right to protest because Joe Manchin is putting a 300-mile-long pipeline through my home state of West Virginia and President [Joe] Biden allowed him to do it for nothing in return,” explained Climate Defiance organizer Rylee Haught on social media, referring to the right-wing Democratic senator and the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

As she was led away by an NYPD officer, a tearful Haught said Biden “sold us out.”

“He promised to end drilling on federal lands, and he’s selling out Appalachia’s future for profit,” she added.

The demand is: declare a climate emergency

Responding to the “block-long” line of arrestees, Climate Defiance asked: “Why are we getting handcuffed while people who literally torch the planet get celebrated for their ‘civility’ and their ‘moderation’?”

Alicé Nascimento of New York Communities for Change told WABC that the protests—which are part of Climate Week and are timed to coincide with this week’s United Nations Climate Ambition Summit—are “our last resort.”

“We’re bringing the crisis to their doorstep and this is what it looks like,” said Nascimento.

As they have at similar demonstrations, protesters called on Biden to stop approving new fossil fuel projects and declare a climate emergency. Some had a message for the president and his administration.

“We hold the power of the people, the power you need to win this election,” 17-year-old Brooklynite Emma Buretta of the youth-led protest group Fridays for Future told WABC. “If you want to win in 2024, if you do not want the blood of my generation to be on your hands, end fossil fuels.”


‘Gross Denial of Reality’: Biden Infuriates With Approval of More Offshore Drilling

By Julia Conley/Common Dreams

Rejecting the corporate media’s narrative that U.S. President Joe Biden’s newly-released offshore drilling plan includes the “fewest-ever” drilling leases, dozens of climate action and marine conservation groups on Friday said the president had “missed an easy opportunity to do the right thing” and follow through on his campaign promise to end all lease sales for oil and gas extraction in the nation’s waters.

The U.S. Interior Department announced Friday its five-year plan for the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program, including three new areas in the Gulf of Mexico where fossil fuel companies will be permitted to drill.

Government won’t reach it’s climate goals whith new drilling leases

Biden promised “no new oil drilling, period” as a presidential candidate, but he announced the plan six months after the administration’s approval of the Willow oil drilling project in Alaska incensed climate advocates.

The industries have already bought 9,000 drilling leases – to which the new leases will be added. This is “incompatible with reaching President Biden’s goal of cutting emissions by 50-52% by 2030,” said the Protect All Our Coasts Coalition, citing the findings of Biden’s own Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its Office of Atmospheric Protection earlier this year.

Texan citizens suffer under pollution in the Gulf region

While the final plan scales back from the eleven sales that were originally proposed, said the coalition, “the plan is a step backwards from the climate goals the administration has set and for environmental justice communities across the Gulf South, who are already experiencing the disproportionate impact of fossil fuel extraction across the region.”

The coalition includes the Port Arthur Community Action Network, which has called attention to the risks posed to public health in the Gulf region by continued fossil fuel extraction.

“Folks in Port Arthur, Texas die daily from cancer, respiratory, heart, and kidney disease from the very pollution that would come from more leases and drilling,” said John Beard, the founder, president, and executive director of the group. “If Biden is to truly be the environmental president, he should stop any further leasing and all forms of the petrochemical build-out, call for a climate emergency, and jumpstart the transition to clean green, renewable energy, and lift the toxic pollution from overburdened communities.”

Our fossil fuel-lifestyle incompatible with the survival of the earth

Kendall Dix, national policy director of Taproot Earth, dismissed political think tanks that applauded the “historically few lease sales” on Friday.

“The earth does not recognize political ‘victories,'” said Dix, pointing to an intrusion of saltwater in South Louisiana’s drinking water in recent weeks, which has been exacerbated by the fossil fuel-driven climate crisis.

“As the head of the United Nations [António Guterres] has said, continued fossils fuel development is incompatible with human survival,” he added. “We need to transition to justly sourced renewable energy that’s democratically managed and accountable to frontline communities as quickly as possible.”

Biden’s drilling plans break his campaign promises

Along with groups in the Gulf region, national organizations on Friday condemned a plan that they said blatantly ignores the repeated warnings of international energy experts and the world’s top climate scientists who say no new fossil fuel expansion is compatible with a pathway to limiting planetary heating to 1.5°C.

“Sacrificing millions of acres in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas extraction when scientists are clear that we must end fossil fuel expansion immediately is a gross denial of reality by Joe Biden in the face of climate catastrophe,” said Collin Rees, United States program manager at Oil Change International. “Doubling down on oil drilling is a direct violation of President Biden’s prior commitments and continues a concerning trend.”

Rees noted that 75,000 people marched in New York City last week to demand that Biden declare a climate emergency and end support for any new fossil fuel extraction projects.

Protesters fear the destruction of land based communities and wildlife

“End Fossil Fuels is pretty clear,” said Rees, referring to campaigners’ rallying cry. “Not ‘hold slightly fewer lease sales,’ not ‘talk about climate action’—End. Fossil. Fuels.”

Despite Biden’s campaign promises, Rees noted, the U.S. is currently “on track to expand fossil fuel production more than any other country by 2050.”

“I feel disgusted and incredibly let down by Biden’s offshore oil drilling plan. It piles more harm on already-struggling ecosystems, endangered species and the global climate,” said Brady Bradshaw, senior oceans campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity, another member of the Protect All Our Coasts Coalition. “We need Biden to commit to a fossil fuel phaseout, but actions like this condemn us to oil spills, climate disasters, and decades of toxic harm to communities and wildlife.”

Inflation Reduction Act serves industrial extension

The lease sales, said Sarah Winter Whelan of the Healthy Ocean Coalition, also represent a missed opportunity by the administration to treat the world’s oceans “as a climate solution, not a source for further climate disaster.”

Under the Inflation Reduction Act, negotiated by the White House last year, the government is required to offer at least 60 million acres of offshore gas and oil drilling leases before developing new wind power projects of similar scope.

“A single new lease sale for offshore oil and gas exploration is one too many,” said Whelan. “Communities around the country are already dealing with exacerbating impacts from climate disruption caused by our reliance on fossil fuels. Any increase in our dependence on fossil fuels just bakes in greater impacts to humanity.”

Gulf communities, added Beard, “refuse to be sacrificed” for fossil fuel profits.

“We say enough is enough,” he said.