Greenpeace shuts down 74 Shell stations in UK to protest Arctic drilling

By Laurie Tuffrey / The Guardian

Greenpeace activists shut down 74 Shell petrol stations in Edinburgh and London in a protest against the company’s plans to drill for oil in the Arctic that saw 24 campaigners arrested on Monday.

The campaigners are attempting to shut off petrol to London’s 105 Shell stations and Edinburgh’s 14. Seventy-one have been closed in London and three in Edinburgh.

There have been 24 confirmed arrests, 18 in London and six in Edinburgh. The police in Edinburgh have reportedly parked cars outside all Shell stations across the capital.

Protesters have scaled the roof of the Shell station on Queenstown Road near Battersea Park in London and on Dalry Road in Edinburgh, with police and fire crews attending the scene in Edinburgh.

Activists arrived at the Battersea Park branch at 6.45am and used the station’s barriers to close down the forecourt. They have since covered the Shell sign with a Save the Arctic banner and positioned a life-sized polar bear model on the station’s roof.

The activists are shutting down the stations by using an emergency shut-off switch to stop petrol going to the pumps and then removing a fuse to delay it being switched on again. The organisation has since posted a picture of an activist posting one of the fuses to Shell’s head of Arctic drilling, with the message: “We’re being careful not to destroy property. Even the carefully removed components will go back to Shell.”

The protest is part of Greenpeace’s Save the Arctic campaign, which is aiming to prevent oil drilling and industrial fishing in the Arctic by having the region recognised as a world park. The organisation understands that Shell is going to begin drilling in the Alaskan Arctic in the coming weeks, with the Russian oil company Gazprom also due to work in the region.

The campaign group’s website is running a TV talkshow-style live broadcast covering the protest and showing interviews and videos about the Arctic campaign.

Sara Ayech, a campaigner at the Battersea Park station, said: “It’s time to draw a line in the ice and tell Shell to stop. That’s why today we’re going to shut down all of Shell’s petrol stations in the capital cities of London and Edinburgh. We’ve got dozens of people who will hit over 100 Shell garages throughout the day.”

Graham Thompson is another campaigner who helped shut down the station: “The staff were very pleasant and very reasonable. Obviously they’re not entirely happy about what’s going on but they’ve responded in a very civilised way.

“Obviously, we need to ratchet up the pressure, we need to let Shell know that this isn’t just a publicity campaign, we’re going to put pressure on them until they agree to stop what they’re doing,” said Thompson, commenting on future plans.

Read more from The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/jul/16/greenpeace-activists-shell-petrol

8 Steps Used By Offshore Wind to Create Agreements

8 Steps Used By Offshore Wind to Create Agreements

Editor’s note: While this article could have been written about any extractive industry, it has focused on offshore wind turbine farms. These destructive projects should require at least as much scrutiny as an offshore oil rig, but they are not. Because in the name of climate mitigation, they are rushed through without consideration for the damage they will cause, or even their effectiveness in serving this purpose and need for existence. Which is usually just based only on government mandates. And this is all done in the name of Big Environmentalism. DGR does not believe the Bright Green Lies of mainstream environmental NGOs.


By Carl van Warmerdam

People who believe that offshore wind turbines can help solve climate change are misinformed. Because the facts are that they will not. Even the companies building them make no such claim. And the truth, based on facts, will always trump belief. I am not a climate denier, but you don’t have to be a climate denier to know that these things are bad and are doomed to failure. And you also don’t have to be linked to the fossil fuel industry, the same people that knew they were causing global warming and therefore threatening the very existence of the planet. Yet, in pursuit of profit, fossil fuel executives not only refused to publicly acknowledge what they had learned but, year after year, lied about the existential threat that climate change posed for our planet. “Renewable” energy projects should require just as must scrutiny from regulators and environmentalists as fossil fuel projects.

Truth be told, most rebuildable “renewable” energy extractive companies are also liars, and have ties to fossil fuel companies. In reality what is really going on is a boondoggle, that you won’t hear about in mainstream corporate media because they only give disinformation. After years of rebuildable energy – solar and wind infrastructure – the world used more fossil fuels in 2023 than it did in 2022, as it did the year before that and the year before that. We are in fact using more fossil fuel than ever before. From 61 thousand terawatts-hours of primary energy consumption in 1973, which was the year of the OPEC oil embargo, when governments began to massively support research and development of large wind turbines and solar panels, to 137 thousand today. This is well over twice as much. In that same period, emissions grew from 17 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions to the 37 billion metric tons today. A 20 billion metric ton increase in the last 50 years. And after all of that, 80 percent of our energy use still comes from fossil fuels. The percent of US energy use from electricity has remained the same, about 20 percent. Of that, wind turbines account for 7 percent and solar energy provides 2 percent of total US electricity used. So the dream of a 100 percent electric power supply is just that, a dream.

 Why? Because these energy intense extractive technologies require massive amounts of fossil fuels to produce and those emissions are adding onto what is already being used, not reducing it (Jevons paradox). Thus spewing more planet-heating carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at a time when greenhouse gas emissions world wide must nosedive to stop extreme weather from growing more unpredictable and violent. The only reason CO2 emission may drop in countries installing rebuildable extractive energy and electric vehicles is because they have outsourced the mining and manufacture of these machines to other countries, thus increasing the CO2 emissions in those countries. LNG has replaced dirty coal to run power plants.  Add on to all of this, easy access resources are gone. So the Energy Return On Investment (EROI) has gone down sharply in that time. Instead of Jeb shooting for some food, we have to use fracking and offshore drilling, mountaintop removal and deep sea mining. In the foreseeable future, the energy needed to produce our energy needs could approach unsustainable levels, a phenomenon called “energy cannibalism.”

If this continues, the so called “green” energy transition will in fact be an energy correction, complements of Mother Nature, bigger and more storms, flooding, fire, drought and biodiversity collapse. These are no longer natural disasters, instead these more powerful weather events are man made.

Nature is not more complicated than you think, it is more complicated than you CAN think” ~Frank Edwin Egler

Rebuildable extractive energy capturing machines are not clean except through greenwashing and are only making our predicament worse. The trillions in government subsidies given to this sector only makes the rich richer. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) should more appropriately be called the 4th Industrial Revolution Act. This is government redistribution of wealth from the working class to offshore transnational state sponsored corporations and the wealthy financial class, which are also principally owned by fossil fuel companies. Ultimately any money that is offered by them as payouts for grants, agreements, promotion or mitigation will come from the utility ratepayer. This is a scam that is not financially feasible without trillions in government subsidies. This is what their balance sheet looks like. What is done to the natural environment is even worse.  

Wildlife and wind turbines are an uncomfortable mix. Rotating turbine blades can make short work of anyone or anything unlucky enough to collide with them, but direct mortality is only part of the story. Having reviewed the available evidence from around the world, biologists in Finland have found that 63 percent of bird species, 72 percent of bats and 67 percent of terrestrial mammals are displaced from areas where turbines are installed. The same holds true for offshore wind farms, to include fish and marine mammals. Wind turbines are an invasive species to functioning ecosystems that took millions of years to create. The building process is a war zone. The noise and devastation are a disaster to fragile ecosystem habitats. Consider how you would feel if these massive monsters were put up next to your house in your town. The oceans, from which we came, are the lungs of the planet. Life can not exist if the delicate balance is disrupted. These projects are doomed to failure in more ways than one.

True resilience and sustainability comes by thinking globally and acting locally. The land base that people live on should be able to, on its own, continually feed, clothe and house the people who live on it. It makes no sense to destroy the sustainable food provided by the ocean in order to keep the lights on. It is preferable to eat in the dark than to starve in the light. Also know that fish farms are in the same league as wind farms. It is an enclosure of the commons for corporate control of our food supply, what they call “The Blue Economy”.    

How do we know that offshore wind will be a “pain” now and into the future for fishing, tourism, cultural heritage, beauty, integrity, stability, sustainability, ecological balance and quality of life? Millions of dollars are offered up to mitigate (bribe) it. Money would better be spent to mitigate the already abandon mines, fossil fuel wells and habitat degradation. This is where our good paying jobs should be working, to protect the planet. Life on the planet can be saved, a modern industrial lifestyle cannot.

How to Convince a Community to Destroy Their Future 

 

Step 1. Create an effective advertising campaign for Your Destructive Offshore Wind Project

Use a name that has a certain historical, cultural, or environmental value for the communities. Change the name from Pilgrim and Mayflower(tone deaf) to South Coast Wind or Vineyard Wind(more like Graveyard). Call it “clean”, “green”, “renewable” energy that is the solution to climate change and save our lifestyle. With the right branding, people will drink any poison, pinwheels for everyone.

Step 2. Get the Local Government on Your Side

Pay off the local politicians to agree and hand out licenses. Tell them there is nothing they can do to stop it, so they should just get the best Good Neighbor Host Agreement possible or get nothing.

Step 3. Lobby as Much as Possible to Bend the Law in Favor Offshore Wind

Create legal loopholes and tax credits for corporations, behind closed doors. Speed up the “permit” your destruction process. Buy-off federal and state politicians and corporate capture regulatory agencies. Nobody wants these in their backyard, let’s just put them out to sea. 

Step 4. Presents! Buy Off Public Opinion

Build a new school, library(Carnegie) or sewer system. Or just offer money as compensation to do with as you wish. The major ENGOs have entered into agreement with offshore wind: Natural Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation, and Conservation Law Foundation and taken money; Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, Environmental League of Mass., Sierra Club, etc. along with aquariums, universities and the media. 

Step 5. Offer a Compromise

Let us destroy this land/sea here and we will protect some other land/sea. Or agree with us and we will let you have a say in how the destruction will occur. This project has to be done to stop climate change, we have to destroy the planet to save it. There must be sacrifice zones. Sorry that your home is being destroyed but don’t be a NIMBY(Not In My Backyard). Actually when respondents of national surveys begin to think about ideas of what rebuildable energy entails, such as offshore wind, their support often diminishes. There will be painful trade-offs, trying to preserve comfortable lives. Most of that pain will come from other species. But if we acknowledge that our modern industrial lifestyle is causing the end of life on the planet, we must say NOPE(Not On Planet Earth).

Step 6. Threats Are Effective Deterrents

If you file a law suit against this project, we will file a lawsuit against you, a SLAPP(Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation). Focus on the leaders of the struggle. Scaring people works. This smear tactic was conducted by the prestigious Ivy League College Brown against the opponents to offshore wind. Attack the messenger. In the global south, this is done literally. Real nice place you got here, it would be a sham if something bad happened to it.

Step 7. Create Chaos and Conflict; Divide the Community in Two Camps

Tout the temporary “good paying union” jobs you will create over the permanent sustainable jobs, fishing and tourism, destroyed forever. Destroying a food source never makes good sense. What is truly needed, at this time of ecological collapse, is food sovereignty. Where jobs are hard to come by this is called poverty pimping. Then don’t forget to accuse those opposed to offshore wind of promoting “disinformation“. Push it as a choice in political values, Republicans against Democrats. There is a backlash against “renewable” energy. It’s turned Democrats into Republicans.

Step 8. Having Wrought Havoc, Now Frame It as a Successful Story of Growth and Prosperity

Welcome to the great big beautiful tomorrow, shining at the end of every day. Technology has fixed the problem that it has created! Too bad it is a dystopian science fiction. No one willingly wants to destroy their environment. It is done because of the Golden Rule: Whoever has the gold, makes the rules! Not to mention that these companies have gotten out of paying most of the taxes required of multinationals. And avoid putting emphasis on the fact that the jobs are short term, while the environmental damage is forever.

The Community Environment Legal Defense Fund can help to fight these corporate criminals from destroying your town.

If you would like to help stop The Blue Economy of offshore wind, see Green Oceans https://green-oceans.org/


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Ben Martin
Steinreich Communications

(212) 4911600

bmartin@scompr.com

GREEN OCEANS LEADS 35 COPLAINTIFFS IN LAWSUIT ALLEGING U.S. AGENCIES
ILLEGALLY APPROVED OFFSHORE WIND PROJECTS

LITTLE COMPTON, R.I. – Rhode Island-based Green Oceans, a non-partisan, grassroots not-for-profit organization dedicated to protecting the ocean and the ecosystems it sustains, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleging four federal agencies shortcut statutory and regulatory procedures and violated environmental protection laws by approving the South Fork and Revolution Wind projects. An additional 35 co-plaintiffs joined the litigation.

The suit alleges that the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and their respective administrative leaders, issued permits for the two projects on the critical marine habitat known as Coxes Ledge, despite the acknowledgment of serious irreversible harm and without adequate environmental impact studies. The lawsuit asks the court to invalidate the approvals for both projects until the government complies with all relevant statutes and regulations.

“In a rush to meet state mandates, we cannot short-circuit our country’s most important environmental and natural resource policies. This suit will ensure the federal government follows its own rules and regulations,” said Green Ocean’s Co-founder and President Dr. Elizabeth Quattrocki Knight. 

Filed under the Administrative Procedure Act, the suit intends to prove that the federal agencies violated eight statutes, including the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Coastal Zone Management Act, National Historic Preservation Act, Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, Clean Water Act, and their associated regulatory programs.

The suit highlights the alarming scale of proposed offshore wind plans – up to 1,000 turbines, each towering over 870 feet high. The closest turbines will reside just 12.9 nautical miles from the Rhode Island coast. Collectively, the nine projects planned for the waters off the coast of Rhode Island represent the largest offshore development anywhere in the world. The Green Oceans suit alleges that BOEM did not adequately consider the cumulative impact of the entire lease area, a legal requirement. No geographic boundaries exist between the nine different projects planned for the 1,400 square miles of coastal waters between Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

“Marine mammals will not appreciate whether any given turbine belongs to one project or another. Legally, BOEM must evaluate the collective impact, not just each project in isolation,” Dr. Quattrocki Knight emphasized. The projects threaten to permanently alter the environmentally sensitive Coxes Ledge, one of the last remaining spawning grounds for Southern New England cod and an important habitat for the North Atlantic right whale and four other endangered whale species.

Barbara Chapman, a Green Oceans trustee, added, “Even people who support the concept of wind power understand the threat to sea life. On the official NOAA site, they have granted the developer of Revolution Wind, just one project of many, permission to harm and harass over 13,000 marine animals, including 568 whales, during the course of a single year. We do not consider 13,000 a small number.”

“BOEM admits the projects will have adverse impacts on the health of our fisheries, navigation safety, historic resources, the North Atlantic right whale, and environmental justice populations, while having no effect on climate change. Why accept this irreversible environmental damage for no overall gain?” questions Green Ocean’s Co-founder and Vice President, Bill Thompson.

Co-plaintiffs to the suit include the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance, Save Right Whales Coalition, New England Fishermen’s Stewardship Association, Bat World Sanctuary, three former Rhode Island Fisherman’s Advisory Board members, along with local and regional recreational fishermen, sailors, boaters, pilots, conservationists, residents, and leading members of the business community.

Green Oceans is a nonprofit, non-partisan group of community members dedicated to combating climate change without jeopardizing biodiversity or the health of the ocean. For more information or to get involved, visit: https://green-oceans.org/.

Featured photo by Pete Godfrey on Unsplash

Norway Votes To Allow Deep-Sea Mining In Arctic Waters

Norway Votes To Allow Deep-Sea Mining In Arctic Waters

Editor’s note: There is no way mining can be done in a “sustainable way and with acceptable consequences,” whether it is on land or in the sea. It is not a question of if we don’t, we will have to continue to use open pit mines and mountaintop removal. These forms of mining will continue regardless. Deep sea mining will only add to it. Norway likes to be perceived as a net-zero hero but the reality is that behind all of those electric cars and heat pumps, Norway is a major exporter of fossil fuels, and uses the income to pay for the new technologies. And now Norway wants to be a leader in deep-sea mining, too. This demonstrates that Norway is a country that cares little for the natural world if it means giving up its extractive economy for the conviences of a modern lifestyle. If mining is involved, there will be no green transition.


Elizabeth Claire Alberts/Mongabay

Norway’s parliament has voted to allow deep-sea mining to commence in the Norwegian Sea, a move that has garnered criticism from scientists and environmentalists: While the Norwegian government insists that it can conduct deep-sea mining in a sustainable way, critics say these activities will put marine ecosystems and biodiversity at risk.

The Skandinavian country will open a 281,000-square-kilometer (108,500-square-mile) area of the ocean for deep-sea mining, which mostly falls along its continental shelf.

This result was already anticipated in December 2023 after Norway’s minority government negotiated a deal with opposition parties to open up the ocean off Norway’s coast to deep-sea mining.

Companies will now bid for exploration licences

The government previously proposed opening a 329,000-square-kilometer (127,000-square-mile) portion of the Norwegian Sea to deep-sea mining. However, this was later reduced to 281,000 km2 (108,500 mi2), an area nearly the size of Italy. Most of this region falls across Norway’s extended continental shelf, which is technically in international waters, but over which Norway has jurisdiction. Another portion falls within the territorial waters of the Svalbard archipelago, which Norway claims as its own exclusive economic zone, although this is contested by nations such as Russia, Iceland, the U.K. and several EU countries.

Experts say they believe the next step could be the Norwegian Offshore Directorate, the government agency responsible for regulating petroleum resources, inviting companies to bid for exploration licenses, which could happen as early as this year. However, there’s currently no public timeline of forthcoming events.

Norway intends to mine for minerals such as magnesium, cobalt, copper, nickel and rare-earth metals found in manganese crusts on seamounts and sulfide deposits on active, inactive or extinct hydrothermal vents. The government says seabed mining is necessary to ensure that Norway is able to succeed in a “green transition.”

“We need to cut 55% of our emissions by 2030, and we also need to cut the rest of our emissions after 2030,” Astrid Bergmål, Norway’s state secretary for the energy minister, told Mongabay. “So, the reason for us to look into seabed minerals is the large amount of critical minerals that will be needed for many years.”

Critics, however, say that minerals for renewable energy technologies could be obtained from land-based sources and recycling processes.

Doubts about “clean” deep-sea mining

Bergmål said deep-sea mining will be done in a “step-by-step approach” and that it will only be permitted to go forward if the Norwegian government can ensure it will be done in a “sustainable way and with acceptable consequences.”

“If there is one country that can do this in a stepwise manner … that is Norway,” Bergmål said, “because when we say that we are going to put the world’s highest standards with respect to environmental concerns, we do it in practice.”

Norway isn’t the only country with ambitions to mine the deep sea. Other nations, including the Cook Islands, China and Japan, are working on similar plans within their own jurisdictions.

Deep-sea mining explained in 5 minute video

The high seas, which are areas beyond national jurisdiction, have also been earmarked for seabed mining, particularly in a region of the Pacific Ocean known as the Clarion-Clipperton Zone, where there are vast expanses dotted with potato-shaped polymetallic nodules containing minerals like manganese, nickel, cobalt and copper. The International Seabed Authority (ISA), a U.N.-mandated mining regulator, has been overseeing negotiations to approve a set of rules that would govern this activity so it could potentially start in the near future.

Protesters ready to stop seabed mining industry

Peter Haugan, a scientist who serves as policy director of Norway’s Institute of Marine Research and director of the Geophysical Institute at the University of Bergen, said Norway’s plans go against scientific advice and could endanger marine biodiversity.

“Destroying very sensitive and vulnerable areas and eliminating biodiversity … is a real risk,” Haugan told Mongabay. “It’s really a sad day for Norway.”

Haugan said Norway’s decision could also be a “violation of the law” due to a lack of scientific evidence needed to assess the environmental impacts of future mining activities, which is legally needed for such decisions to be made.

Haldis Tjeldflaat Helle, a campaigner at Greenpeace Norway against deep-sea mining, who participated in a protest outside the Norwegian parliament on Jan. 9, said she’s still hopeful that environmentalists will be able to stop the industry before it goes ahead.

“We will use the tools we have available,” Helle told Mongabay. “We will continue to do activism against this disruptive industry and try to influence Norwegian politicians to stop deep-sea mining.”

Elizabeth Claire Alberts is a senior staff writer for Mongabay. Follow her on Twitter@ECAlberts.

Photo by Lightscape on Unsplash

Iran: Farmers and Fishermen Flee to Big Cities

Iran: Farmers and Fishermen Flee to Big Cities

Editor’s note: Iran is mostly in the news for its nationwide protests against the Islamic Republic, and for its brutal treatment of women who refuse to cover their hair with a hijab. But there’s another crisis unfolding, not so much covered on the news – the ecological crisis.

In Iran we witness overshoot that leads to the land being uninhabitable in the future: water scarcity, loss of fertile land, overpopulation, government mismanagment, pollution, and poverty.

The oppression of women, gays and lesbians in a country ruled by Shariah – Islamic law based on the Quran – together with the denial of respecting nature, is a recipe for collapse.


By Golnaz Estandiari and Mohammad Zarghami/RFE/RL

Record temperatures, prolonged droughts, and the drying up of rivers and lakes are displacing tens of thousands of Iranians each year, experts say.

Many of the climate migrants are farmers, laborers, and fishermen who are moving with their families from the countryside to major urban areas in Iran in search of alternative livelihoods.

Iranian officials have blamed worsening water scarcity and rising desertification on climate change. But experts say the crisis has been exacerbated by government mismanagement and rapid population growth.

While the exact number of climate migrants is unknown, Iranian media estimated that around 42,000 people in 2022 were forced to migrate due to the effects of climate change, including drought, sand and dust storms, floods, and natural disasters. The estimated figure for 2021 was 41,000. Observers say the real figures are likely much higher. Experts say a growing number of Iranians are likely to leave rural areas as more areas of Iran — where most of the land is arid or semiarid — become uninhabitable every year.

“It is visible because Iran is very dry, there is little rainfall, and a significant part of the country is desert,” Tehran-based ecologist Mohammadreza Fatemi told RFE/RL. “As a result, the slightest change in the climate affects the population.”

Fatemi cited the drying up of the wetlands and lakes in Iran’s southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan as an example. The Hamun wetlands were a key source of food and livelihood for thousands of people. But as the wetlands have diminished, many locals have migrated to the cities.

“Many people lived there, [but] they all moved to [the provincial capital] Zahedan and [the city of] Zabol,” said Fatemi. Now, he adds, many are moving from these cities to other provinces.

Environmentalist Mehdi Zarghami from Tabriz University recently estimated that some 10,000 families have left Zabol for other parts of Iran during the past year due to drought and sandstorms.

Fatemi estimates that around 70 percent of migration inside Iran is driven by the effects of climate change. “We’ve entered the phase of crisis. The next level could be a disaster,” he said.

‘Water Bankruptcy’

Some Iranian officials have warned that many parts of the Islamic republic could eventually become uninhabitable, leading to a mass exodus from the Middle Eastern country.

In July, officials warned that more than 1 million hectares of the country’s territory — roughly equivalent to the size of Qom Province or Lebanon — is essentially becoming unlivable every year.

In 2018, then-Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said that drought and water scarcity could fuel “massive migration” and eventually lead to a “disaster.”

Iran is among the countries most vulnerable to climate change in the Middle East, which is warming at twice the global average.

Ahad Vazifeh of Iran’s Meteorological Center said in October that average temperatures in Iran had increased by 2 degrees in the past 50 years.

But experts say that climate change only partly explains the environmental crisis that Iran is grappling with.

Tehran’s failed efforts to remedy water scarcity, including dam building and water-intensive irrigation projects, have contributed to the drying up of rivers and underground water reservoirs.

Kaveh Madani, the director of the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment, and Health, told RFE/RL’s Radio Farda that Iran’s “water bankruptcy” had been fueled by government mismanagement and the building of dozens of dams.

More on Iran’s water problem

“Iran’s consumption is more than its natural sources of water,” he said. “Therefore, [the authorities are] using underground sources of water. [In response,] the wetlands have dried up, rivers have dried up, and now climate change has added to this equation.”

“Temperatures are rising, there’s more dust, soil erosion will increase, and desertification will increase,” predicted Madani, a former deputy head of Iran’s Environment Department.

In this 2018 photo, a man walks his bicycle under the 400-year-old Si-o-seh Pol bridge, named for its 33 arches, that now spans a dried up Zayandeh Roud river in Isfahan.

The government’s mismanagement of Iran’s scant water resources has triggered angry protests in recent years, especially in drought-stricken areas.

Water scarcity has also led to conflict. Iran and Afghanistan engaged in deadly cross-border clashes in May after Tehran demanded that its neighbor release more upstream water to feed Iran’s endangered southeastern wetlands.

Social Problems

Some experts say rapid population growth in Iran has also contributed to the environmental crisis, although growth has slowed in recent years.

Iran’s population has more than doubled since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, rising from about 35 million to almost 88 million, with about 70 percent of the population residing in cities.

Climate migration has put a growing strain on infrastructure and created socioeconomic problems in Iranian cities, including rising poverty, homelessness, and overcrowding, experts say.

A dust storm hits Zabol in October.

Researcher Mohammad Reza Mahbubfar told the Rokna news site in February 2021 that Tehran was a major destination for many of the country’s climate migrants. “Contrary to what officials say — that Tehran has a population of 15 million — the [real] figure has reached 30 million,” he said.

Mahbubfar added that “unbalanced development” had “resulted in Tehran being drowned in social [problems].”

The influx has led some wealthier Tehran residents to move to the country’s northern provinces, a largely fertile region that buttresses the Caspian Sea.

“My mother, who has a heart problem, now spends most of her time in our villa in Nowshahr,” a Tehran resident told Radio Farda, referring to the provincial capital of Mazandaran Province.

“My husband and I are hoping to move there once we retire to escape Tehran’s bad weather and pollution,” the resident said.

Reza Aflatouni, the head of Iran’s Land Affairs Organization, said in August that about 800,000 people had migrated to Mazandaran in the past two years.

Local officials have warned that Mazandaran is struggling to absorb the large influx of people.

Copyright (c)2023 RFE/RL, Inc. Used with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

Photo by Mario/Pixabay

What Does the Earth Want From Us?

What Does the Earth Want From Us?

Editor’s Note: The Earth wants to live. And she wants us to stop destroying her. It is a simple answer, but one with many complex processes. How do we get there? Shall I leave my attachments with the industrial world and being off-the-grid living, like we were supposed to? Will that help Earth?

Yes, we need to leave this way of life and live more sustainably. But what the Earth needs is more than that. It is not one person who should give up on this industrial way of life, rather it is the entire industrial civilization that should stop existing. This requires a massive cultural shift from this globalized culture to a more localized one. In this article, Katie Singer explores the harms of this globalized system and a need to shift to a more local one. You can find her at katiesinger@substack.com


What Does the Earth Want From Us?

By Katie Singer/Substack

Last Fall, I took an online course with the philosopher Bayo Akomolafe to explore creativity and reverence while we collapse. He called the course We Will Dance with Mountains, and I loved it. I loved the warm welcome and libations given by elders at each meeting’s start. I loved discussing juicy questions with people from different continents in the breakout rooms. I loved the phenomenal music, the celebration of differently-abled thinking, the idea of Blackness as a creative way of being. When people shared tears about the 75+-year-old Palestinian-Israeli conflict, I felt humanly connected.

By engaging about 500 mountain dancers from a half dozen continents, the ten-session course displayed technology’s wonders.

I could not delete my awareness that online conferencing starts with a global super-factory that ravages the Earth. It extracts petroleum coke from places like the Tar Sands to smelt quartz gravel for every computer’s silicon transistors. It uses fossil fuels to power smelters and refineries. It takes water from farmers to make transistors electrically conductive. Its copper and nickel mining generates toxic tailings. Its ships (that transport computers’ raw materials to assembly plants and final products to consumers) guzzle ocean-polluting bunker fuel.

Doing anything online requires access networks that consume energy during manufacturing and operation. Wireless ones transmit electro-magnetic radiation 24/7.

More than a decade before AI put data demands on steroids, Greenpeace calculated that if data storage centers were a country, they’d rank fifth in use of energy.

Then, dumpsites (in Africa, in India) fill with dead-and-hazardous computers and batteries. To buy schooling, children scour them for copper wires.

Bayo says, “in order to find your way, you must lose it.”

Call me lost. I want to reduce my digital footprint.

A local dancer volunteered to organize an in-person meeting for New Mexicans. She invited us to consider the question, “What does the land want from me?”

Such a worthwhile question.

It stymied me.

I’ve lived in New Mexico 33 years. When new technologies like wireless Internet access in schools, 5G cell sites on public rights-of-way, smart meters or an 800-acre solar facility with 39 flammable batteries (each 40 feet long), I’ve advocated for professional engineering due diligence to ensure fire safety, traffic safety and reduced impacts to wildlife and public health. I’ve attended more judicial hearings, city council meetings and state public regulatory cases and written more letters to the editor than I can count.

In nearly every case, my efforts have failed. I’ve seen the National Environmental Protection Act disregarded. I’ve seen Section 704 of the 1996 Telecom Act applied. (It prohibits legislators faced with a permit application for transmitting cellular antennas from considering the antennas’ environmental or public health impacts.) Corporate aims have prevailed. New tech has gone up.

What does this land want from me?

The late ecological economist Herman Daly said, “Don’t take from the Earth faster than it can replenish; don’t waste faster than it can absorb.” Alas, it’s not possible to email, watch a video, drive a car, run a fridge—or attend an online conference—and abide by these principles. While we ravage the Earth for unsustainable technologies, we also lose know-how about growing and preserving food, communicating, educating, providing health care, banking and traveling with limited electricity and web access. (Given what solar PVs, industrial wind, batteries and e-vehicles take from the Earth to manufacture, operate and discard, we cannot rightly call them sustainable.)

What does the land want from me?

If I want accurate answers to this question, I need first to know what I take from the land. Because my tools are made with internationally-mined-and-processed materials, I need to know what they demand not just from New Mexico, but also from the Democratic Republic of Congo, from Chile, China, the Tar Sands, the deep sea and the sky.

Once soil or water or living creatures have PFAS in them, for example, the chemicals will stay there forever. Once a child has been buried alive while mining for cobalt, they’re dead. Once corporations mine lithium in an ecosystem that took thousands of years to form, on land with sacred burial grounds, it cannot be restored.

One hundred years ago, Rudolf Steiner observed that because flicking a switch can light a room (and the wiring remains invisible), people would eventually lose the need to think.

Indeed, technologies have outpaced our awareness of how they’re made and how they work. Technologies have outpaced our regulations for safety, environmental health and public health.

Calling for awareness of tech’s consequences—and calling for limits—have become unwelcome.

In the last session of We Will Dance with Mountains, a host invited us to share what we’d not had a chance to discuss. AI put me in a breakout room with another New Mexican. I said that we’ve not discussed how our online conferences ravage the Earth. I said that I don’t know how to share this info creatively or playfully. I want to transition—not toward online living and “renewables” (a marketing term for goods that use fossil fuels, water and plenty of mining for their manufacture and operation and discard)—but toward local food, local health care, local school curricula, local banking, local manufacturing, local community.

I also don’t want to lose my international connections.

Bayo Akomolafe says he’s learning to live “with confusion and make do with partial answers.”

My New Mexican friend aptly called what I know a burden. When he encouraged me to say more, I wrote this piece.

What does the land want from us? Does the Earth want federal agencies to create and monitor regulations that decrease our digital footprint? Does the Earth want users aware of the petroleum coke, wood, nickel, tin, gold, copper and water that every computer requires—or does it want these things invisible?

Does the Earth want us to decrease mining, manufacturing, consumption—and dependence on international corporations? Does it want children to dream that we live in a world with no limits—or to learn how to limit web access?

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Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash