No technological miracles needed to address climate; Green New Deal push relaunches

Rod Lamberts wrote a decade ago:  

If there’s one thing decades of advertising, public relations, psychology research and science communication have taught us, it’s that throwing facts at opposing opinions with the hope of changing people’s minds is like playing golf with a pineapple: it’s not just useless, it’s actively counterproductive.

At best, presenting people with facts to counter their beliefs makes them ignore you; at worst, it drives them further away. How much more evidence do you need than the singular failure of scientific facts to convince deniers that humans are buggering up the climate? […]

There’s no profit in trying to change the position of deniers. Their values and motivations are fundamentally different to those of us who listen to what the weight of scientific evidence tell us. So forget them.

Lambert, who is the deputy director of the Australian National Center for the Public Awareness of Science, was talking about facts vs. opinions and why climate scientists should be expressing opinions as well as presenting facts—because politics are as crucial as technology and computer modeling when it comes to addressing the climate crisis. Whether it was his essay or other urgings that spurred climatologists to start speaking up aggressively in that political way is hard to discern, but several certainly have done so. 

Trying to persuade diehard deniers to give up their science illiteracy is a waste of time. But there are some political leaders who accept the science but have yet to adopt the fierce urgency of now that dealing with the climate crisis requires. Surely, they can be convinced to giddyap in the matter. And facts do matter for that convincing. 

In fact, climate facts are becoming steadily more grim—so much so that even the mainstream media a few years ago finally stopped treating every denier’s claim with the same respect given to scientists who have spent their whole careers studying climate. Now, with some of the worst-case scenarios many scientists had been expecting would only come late in the century seemingly just decades or a decade away, the portents are not favorable, which is putting it mildly. 

As a consequence, on some days, even those of us who have followed the matter for decades and sought to convince others that serious individual and collective action is required to address the dire perils we and our fellow species on the planet face would just like to pull down the shades and binge on a light-weight TV series or try out a month’s worth of new recipes. Like deniers all of the time, we’d like to la-la-la away the awful facts at least some of the time. 

However, as diarist Mokurai proves to us every Tuesday, there are some awesome facts, too. In this vein, let me spotlight a new book showing that, technologically speaking, we have 95% of what we need right now to get to zero emissions. 

Since he was a kid in the 1970s, Mark Z. Jacobson has been focused on solutions to prevent the damage caused by burning fossil fuels, first in relation to lethal air pollution and later on climate change. Fifteen years ago, based on a foundation of research he had begun a decade earlier, Jacobson and Mark A. Delucchi developed A Plan to Power 100 Percent of the Planet with Renewables (2009). Jacobson subsequently co-founded (with financier Marco Krapels and anti-fracking activist Mark Ruffalo) The Solutions Project in 2013. This was followed in 2015 with an article written by Jacobson, Delucchi, and other team members in the peer-reviewed journal Energy & Environmental Science titled 100% clean and renewable wind, water, and sunlight (WWS) all-sector energy roadmaps for the 50 United States.” It outlined a path for all 50 states to be 100% renewable by 2050. In 2017, a Jacobson-led team produced another study, “100% Clean and Renewable Wind, Water, and Sunlight All-Sector Energy Roadmaps for 139 Countries of the World.”

Early on, Jacobson received much criticism and considerable ridicule from those skeptical of or ideologically and financially opposed to his and his team’s assertions that 100% renewables was even workable in terms of physics. When the matter was first raised, the idea that even 20% renewables could be folded into the grid reliably was widely challenged, particularly by parties with an interest in making sure that the old way of doing things wasn’t squeezed out along with their profits.

Ridicule has pretty much vanished since 23 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico, plus 200 U.S. cities have now committed to 100% renewables by 2050 or earlier. It’s true that public relations often collides with actual policy because committing to and implementing climate-friendly policies aren’t the same thing. And, of course, there are those 27 other states (not to mention 194 other countries. But both the concept and the reality of 100% renewables are making progress.

To reach a wider audience than peer-reviewed journals, last year Jacobson wrote the 400-page No Miracles Needed: How Today’s Technology Can Save Our Climate and Clean Our Air. Writing about 100% renewables for lay readers, he addresses how to solve the three problems that have always been associated with burning fossil fuels: health damage, climate damage, and dangers to energy security. Climatologist Michael Mann calls it “an amazing new book.” As someone who in the past 50 years has probably read more than 200 books regarding what we used to call “alternative energy,” I could not agree more. 

Here is an example of the kind of questions Jacobson answers regarding implementing 100% WWS energy (wind, water, solar). He describes the amount of land needed for the actual structures and spacing between them (p. 314):

Together, the new land footprint and spacing areas for 100 percent WWS across all energy sectors sum up to 0.53 percent of the the 145-country land area. This is equivalent to about 1.52 times the land area of California for virtually all world energy. Most of this is multi-purpose spacing land. In fact, solar PV panels can be installed on some of the space between wind turbines. 

In comparison, about 37.4 percent of the world’s land was used for agriculture in 2016, and 2.5 percent was urban land in 2010. Also, the land area required for the fossil fuel instructure in the United States alone is about 1.3 percent of the United States land area. Thus, replacing fossil fuels with 100 percent WWS should reduce land requirements substantially. 

The promise of a climate-friendly, renewables-powered world is encouraging. But, as noted, Jacobson’s blueprint is technological. What can be done depends on a political blueprint as well. Something full-blown but flexible. Like, say, a version of the Green New Deal. 




A National Tour to relaunch the Green New Deal arrives in Pennsylvania 

In November, in Dearborn, Michigan, a coalition debuted its nationwide tour to relaunch the ambitious Green New Deal. Led by the Green New Deal Network, the tour landed in Pittsburgh, its fourth city, on Thursday. It has also hit Atlanta and Chicago, and will soon go to Minneapolis and Boston. The message: “The job on climate is not done.” 

Keerti Gopal at Inside Climate News reports: 

The Green New Deal resolution, officially unveiled in 2019 by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and reintroduced in 2023, is a framework for addressing the impacts of climate change through robust federal spending and a 10-year commitment to creating climate-related union jobs. Initially dismissed by establishment politicians from both parties, the Green New Deal rose rapidly in popularity among voters and its essential mission—to address climate change through a government investment in union jobs—became a key talking point in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary and central to subsequent federal climate actions, including the Biden administration’s Build Back Better Act. Originally a $3.5 trillion proposal, the Build Back Better Act eventually became the $369 billion Inflation Reduction Act.

Now, the Green New Deal Network, which commends the administration’s investments in climate action but says that they barely scratch the surface of the nation’s needs, is demanding a renewed commitment of the originally proposed funds, as well as an additional $1 trillion in climate, education, labor and social policy between now and 2030. With the “Green New Deal for the People” tour, the coalition hopes to reignite support for ramped up investment in climate jobs and demonstrate the pressing needs of working class communities of color living in climate and environmental risk zones.

John Paul Mejia, a national spokesperson for the Sunrise Movement, the youth-led climate justice organization, said during the Dearborn event, “The Inflation Reduction Act was the largest climate investment in U.S. history. But for the next 10 years, we should work to make [it] the smallest by winning stuff that’s much larger.” 

Also in Dearborn, referencing the 2006 documentary on the climate crisis by the former Vice President Al Gore, Kaniela Ing, the national director of the Green New Deal Network and a former Hawaii state legislator, said, “During that ‘Inconvenient Truth’ era, climate advocacy was very technocratic in some ways. But the Green New Deal was about how all these things are connected, how climate is connected to schools, better infrastructure … things that people actually want.”

Saul Levin, Green New Deal Network legislative and policy director, said, “We need new investment and we need President Biden to actually run on a platform to actually do something more on climate change. We need the state House in Michigan to invest billions of dollars on climate change and we need to support the leadership of local folks right here in Dearborn and are all right trying to do more on climate change. We need more resources.”

Rep. Jamaal Bowman, of the Green New Deals champions, said, “With our Green New Deals for public schools, housing, cities and more, we can make historic investments that transform our communities by repairing damage done by the fossil fuel-driven climate crisis and giving every person the resources they need to thrive.”

While the participating organizations in the tour seek to put pressure on the Biden administration to do more, the coalition is focusing on making the Green New Deal a positive for Democrats in state and local elections. In Pittsburgh last week, Rep. Summer Lee said, “Pittsburgh led the country’s labor movement and Pittsburgh is leading this multi-racial, multi-generational movement to right the wrongs of environmental racism and demand clean air and water, worker power, union jobs, lower costs and a future where all of us can thrive. If that’s not a blueprint for how we beat Republicans in November, I’m not sure what is.”

Here’s an example of some policies that GNDN is working together with local activists to push. 


The Atlantic is unusually warm right now, which scientists say is ‘deeply troubling’

A warming Atlantic Ocean is not a new thing. For instance, four years ago scientists at the Climate System Research Center at University of Massachusetts in Amherst calculated in a study that the Atlantic was then warmer than at any time in the previous 2,900 years. Since then, other studies have confirmed warming is not only happening but accelerating.

The Atlantic is currently about 2 degrees Fahrenheit above the average in the 42-year satellite record. That has even media like The New York Times publishing a story under the headline of Scientists Are Freaking Out About Ocean Temperatures, with a subhead of “It’s like an omen of the future.” 

At Vox, Benji Jones showed just how unusual this is with a chart: 


The thick orangey-red line that runs the length of the chart and hovers above nearly all the others is from 2023. The North Atlantic started breaking heat temperature records in March of last year.

Even more alarming is the departure that the new, shorter line from 2024 represents. It’s far above the rest, indicating this extreme, anomalous increase has continued into this year.

The chart’s creator, Brian McNoldy, an expert in hurricane formation at the University of Miami, has been tracking the latest data from the North Atlantic where the heat wave has been especially worrisome. “The North Atlantic has been record-breakingly warm for almost a year now,” McNoldy told the Times. “It’s just astonishing. Like, it doesn’t seem real.” 

And Rob Larter, a marine scientist at the University of Cambridge in England who tracks polar ice levels, said, “It’s quite scary, partly because I’m not hearing any scientists that have a convincing explanation of why it is we’ve got such a departure. We’re used to having a fairly good handle on things. But the impression at the moment is that things have gone further and faster than we expected. That’s an uncomfortable place as a scientist to be.”

And everything points to it soon being an uncomfortable place for all of us to be. And not just humans. As Jones writes:

Wildlife, on the whole, is really good at adapting to environmental change, but warming is happening too fast. It’s altering the growth, the location, and perhaps even the color of plankton communities, which are made up of tiny marine organisms that literally every ocean animal relies on. Plankton that endangered North Atlantic right whales eat, for example, are moving north, and the whales are following them. That makes some of the protected areas that are stuck in space (where activities that harm the whales are limited) less useful.

The heat is making some fish smaller. Some fisheries, meanwhile, are shifting toward the poles, in some cases pushing them into different political territories. That’s a problem for the people who eat fish and the $253 billion US fishing industry. What’s more, ocean heat can wipe out coral reefs almost overnight, as I know too well — threatening the enormous tourism and fishing industries that these ecosystems support.


“The people are hungry, winter is coming, and the geese fill the marshes with food. It is a gift and the people receive it with thanksgiving, love, and respect. But when the food does not come from a flock in the sky, when you don’t feel the warm feathers cool in your hand and know that a life has been given for yours, when there is no gratitude in return—that food may not satisfy. It may leave the spirit hungry while the belly is full. Something is broken when the food comes on a Styrofoam tray wrapped in slippery plastic, a carcass of a being whose only chance at life was a cramped cage. That is not a gift of life; it is a theft.”Robin Wall Kimmerer


From Civil Rights to Food Justice, Jim Embry Reflects on a Life of Creative ResistanceFrom Civil Rights to Food Justice, Jim Embry Reflects on a Life of Creative Resistance by Mya Price at Civil Eats. Jim Embry sees tending to land as a sacred and spiritual responsibility. The food systems advocate, land steward, and beekeeper came of age during the civil rights movement in Kentucky and has spent five decades working for social and racial justice. In 1972, he founded the Good Foods Co-op in Lexington. Then, in 2001, at a pivotal point of his life, Embry moved to the heart of Detroit, assuming the role of director at the Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership, where he began integrating his work for social justice into the effort to bring nutritious food to underserved communities. This move marked the culmination of 30 years of political collaboration with luminaries Jimmy and Grace Lee Boggs. Embry’s focus on urban agriculture and food justice in Detroit drew a global audience, where he hosted audiences include the British Parliament, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, and distinguished personalities such as Danny Glover, David Korten, and Joanna Macy.

Jim Embry
Veteran food systems organizer Jim Embry says “within agriculture [is] where we have the most profound need for change, and the most powerful fulcrum point for social transformation of all other human institutions.”

Despite FL’s scorching heat, lawmakers want to eliminate local heat protection rules by Mitch Perry at the Florida Phoenix. A measure that will ban local governments from passing heat-protection ordinances inspired strong emotions from the public Thursday, but lawmakers approved the bill backed by big business interests. The bill also eliminates living wage ordinances that require companies that receive government contracts to pay their employees more than the state’s minimum wage (currently $12 an hour), according to Fort Myers Republican Rep. Tiffany Esposito, the bill sponsor. But it was the provision removing local governments from passing ordinances to provide outdoor workers with protections that inspired one speaker in a committee hearing to break down in tears. “To me this bill is not about numbers, it’s about millions of Floridians and it is very personal,” said Lake Worth resident Laura Munoz with the organization Florida Student Power. She told the members of the House Commerce Committee that her father had died in a workplace accident related to a combination of unsafe working conditions and years of poor heat protections. “OSHA failed us,” she said, referring to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that regulates workplace safety. “The private market and private employers failed us. And I am here to ask you did my father not deserve better? Did I not deserve better? How much profit was worth his life, and how much profits are worth their lives? Because I don’t think there’s money enough to ever be worth it. And you know what? Nobody can bring my father back. But what you can do to help us heal is to make sure that’s nobody has to go through this, and that’s all I’m asking you. Is that too much to ask?”

Wildlife Crossings Can Mend a Landscape by Anne Pinto-Rodrigues at Sierra magazine. Badgers and hedgehogs need protection from traffic as much as lions and bears. It’s a cloudy morning in the Netherlands, and a lone female roe deer saunters across the Zanderij Crailoo Nature Bridge, the longest wildlife crossing in the world. This half-mile-long overpass connects a forested area on one side to a stretch of open, uncultivated land on the other. A few minutes later, a red fox scampers along the bridge.  The overpass and others like it allow animals to roam large distances freely, without the risk of becoming roadkill. For more than three decades, the Netherlands has used them to reduce habitat fragmentation and improve connectivity for wildlife. It has built a wide variety of crossing structures, either above or below roads and railways and at waterways. This tiny nation, less than twice the size of Massachusetts, has nearly 3,000 crossings in place.  Vegetated overpasses facilitate the movement of red foxes, roe deer, red deer, fallow deer, wild boar, and other large mammals, while smaller tunnels enable the movement of otters, badgers, stoats, pine martens, weasels, hedgehogs, snakes, and amphibians. Many of these species are locally or nationally endangered. Wildlife crossings provide them with access to food, mates, and new habitat, aiding in their long-term conservation.

A wildlife crossing in The Netherlands that incorporates a canal.
Wildlife crossing structures take many forms around the world to provide safe passage. This example from the Netherlands incorporates a canal.

This report puts a price tag on the climate impacts of US LNG exports by Jeff St. John at Canary Media. According to a recent report from the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University School of Law: The assessments that have guided U.S. LNG export authorizations over the past half-decade of the industry’s startling growth are not capturing the full scope of climate harms those exports are causing — or the economic harms those emissions will create in the country or around the world. The report uses data from DOE’s previously published studies — the same ones that environmentalists say have failed to consider the broader economic and climate impacts of LNG export terminals to date — to determine that the climate costs” of expanding LNG exports likely exceed economic benefits.” And these findings aren’t based on a novel methodology for calculating benefits and harms of the LNG industry, said Max Sarinsky, the report’s co-author, a senior attorney at the Institute for Policy Integrity and an adjunct clinical professor at New York University School of Law. Instead, we just took DOE’s existing analyses and had them talk to each other,” he explained. Because our analysis draws heavily from the DOE’s own work, including data, models and methods, it could be particularly useful for DOE’s purposes” of reassessing whether expanding U.S. LNG export capacity is in the public interest.


Texas has more chemical emergencies than any other state and they’re disproportionately affecting Latino communities by Cami Ferrell at Environmental Health News. Texas has more chemical disasters than any other state, according to the chemical incident database from the Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters. A recent report created using the database suggests that a chemical incident — such as a spill, an emission leak or an explosion — occurs every other day in the U.S. These disasters affect communities in a variety of ways, including road closures, shelter in place orders, emergency room visits and, depending on exposure, increased cancer risks. Those living within a mile or less radius of a chemical facility – known as fenceline communities – are the most vulnerable. The database reported that Texas had 49 incidents in 2023, with the Houston-Galveston area accounting for 26 of them. Texas has 1,558 facilities that handle hazardous chemicals, which is also more than any other state, according to the EPA. Some of the chemicals at these facilities may sound familiar. Ammonia, mercury or lead can cause respiratory distress, skin irritation and harm to internal organs, and lead is also linked to cancer. But other less-known substances found in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxic Release Inventory database are equally – if not more – dangerous. Volatile compounds benzene, butadiene and formaldehyde are known to cause cancer, and yet exist at elevated levels in the Houston area, home to the nation’s largest petrochemical hub.

Sheep may soon graze under solar panels in one of Wyoming’s first ‘agrivoltaic’ projects by Jake Bolster at Inside Climate News. Converse County is one of the most welcoming areas in Wyoming when it comes to clean energy. For roughly every 20 residents, there is one wind turbine, the highest ratio in the state. At a recent County Commissioners meeting, it took another step in diversifying its energy infrastructure, signaling its intent to issue its first solar farm permit to BrightNight. The global energy company has proposed to build more than 1 million solar panels, a battery storage facility and a few miles of above-ground transmission lines on a 4,738 acres of private land run by the Tillard ranching family near Glenrock. The Dutchman Project, as it is called, is notable neither for its generation nor its storage capacity but for the creatures moseying beneath its panels. The base of each sun-tracking panel will be several feet off the ground, allowing enough room for the Tillard’s sheep to continue grazing. In a state whose ranching industry predates its inclusion in the union, pairing solar generation with livestock grazing or other agricultural practices, a technique called “agrivoltaics,” could forge an unlikely alliance between two industries—one ancient; the other, high tech— that typically compete for resources.




Davos in the Desert, on the Coast by Jonathan Guyer at The American Prospect. In Miami, leading lights from tech, finance, media, and entertainment gathered at the Saudi investment conference, yet another attempt to sanitize the autocratic regime. Larry Summers was reminiscing on stage with former Google CEO Eric Schmidt about their old friend Henry Kissinger. “Henry had many fascinating, complex, and nuanced beliefs, but I’m not sure any was more central than the idea of order and predictability as a prerequisite for anything else good to happen,” Summers, the Harvard economist and former Treasury secretary, said. “Henry could not have said it better, and we miss him,” Schmidt replied. The venue, a Saudi investment conference in Miami, was a fitting tribute to the late statesman known for a particular brand of realpolitik. No one loves Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman more than America’s elite. In recent years, we’ve seen leaders, investors, and celebrities hold out a Saudi exception to human rights in the service of a blurry concept of national interests that requires the U.S. to constantly compromise its values in service of an autocrat. And so MBS has been welcomed back into the establishment fold, and he won over Washington. And now he’s taking a victory lap.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attend the G20 Leaders' Summit in Buenos Aires, on November 30, 2018. - Global leaders gather in the Argentine capital for a two-day G20 summit beginning on Friday likely to be dominated by simmering international tensions over trade. (Photo by ludovic MARIN / AFP)        (Photo credit should read LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman yucks it up with another guy with murder on his mind in 2018. 
Recycling Doesn’t Work—and the Plastics Industry Knew It by Kate Aronoff at The New Republic. Hardly any plastics can be recycled. You’d be forgiven for not knowing that, given how much messaging Americans receive about the convenience of recycling old bottles and food containers—from the weekly curbside collections to the “chasing arrows” markings on food and beverage packaging. But here’s the reality: Between 1990 and 2015, some 90 percent of plastics either ended up in a landfill, were burned, or leaked into the environment. Another recent study estimates that just 5 to 6 percent are successfully recycled. While those numbers may surprise you, these sorts of statistics aren’t news to the companies that produce plastics. For more than 30 years, the industry knew precisely how impractical it is to recycle them, according to a new report from the Center for Climate Integrity. A trade association called the Vinyl Institute concluded in a 1986 report that “recycling cannot be considered a permanent solid waste solution” to plastics, as it merely prolongs the time until an item is disposed of.” Still, facing public backlash over the growing amount of plastics being incinerated and piling up in landfills, manufacturers and their lobbyists sold recycling as an easy solution, warding off potential legislation to ban or limit plastics.


Our demand for cheap plastics is choking this town by Arielle Samuelson at the Heat substack.

The day is overcast, and the smoke billowing from the Motiva refinery behind John Beard Jr. mixes with the fumes from the Valero petrochemical plant across the street. Refineries stretch across the horizon as far as the eye can see—an unbroken line of pollution. After 38 years of working for Port Arthur’s booming fossil fuel industry, Beard knows exactly what is pouring out of those smokestacks. He tells the gaggle of reporters gathered around him to take a deep breath. “I won’t promise you it won’t harm you,” Beard says, describing the rotten egg smell of hydrogen sulfide, a carcinogenic chemical. “But you’ll survive. I mean, we’ve done it for 120 years.”  Port Arthur, where Beard was born and raised, is ground zero for some of the worst pollution in the country.  But it’s also where the fossil fuel industry is making its final stand against the energy transition, by betting on one of the most desirable and dirty products on Earth: plastic. The World Economic Forum predicts that plastic production will double in the next 20 years. […] Once an Exxon employee, Beard is now the founder of the Port Arthur Community Action Network (PA-CAN), a network he started to fight back against petrochemicals in his city. 

John Beard Jr.
John Beard Jr. 

How a Legal Loophole Allows Gas Leaks to Keep on Flowing by John Hurdle at Yale Environment 360. A new federal rule, finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency in December, is intended to slash methane emissions from oil and gas operations — the largest industrial source of methane pollution in the U.S. — by almost 80 percent nationally over the next 15 years. The agency also aims to reduce emissions of smog-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by 16 million tons and cut the output of toxic air pollutants like benzene and toluene by 590,000 tons. Notably, the rule — which promotes use of advanced methane-detecting technology — will apply to the entire natural gas system, including well sites, gathering and boosting compressor stations, and processing, transmission, and storage facilities. According to the EPA, emissions from transmission, storage, and processing accounted for a quarter of the industry’s total in 2021. Other estimates of midstream emissions are far higher. In 2021, a study published in Environmental Science and Technology Letters found that methane leaks from midstream activities in Texas’s Permian Basin were 20 percent higher than national estimates, and in 2022, a study in the same journal estimated methane emissions from the Permian’s natural gas “gathering” pipelines — which connect wells with processing plants — were up to 52 times higher than the EPA’s national estimate. The new EPA rule will “deliver major climate and health benefits for all Americans,” the EPA said in a statement. But it won’t fully address the concerns of [people] who breathe midstream emissions. That’s because the rule covers only single “major” sources that emit pollutants — such as carbon monoxide, particulates, and nitrogen oxides — that hit prescribed thresholds. Though it covers a wider range of sources, it won’t combine, or aggregate, leaks that come from a multitude of “minor” sources.

Israel’s campaign in Gaza is fueling demands to make ‘ecocide’ an international crime by Lylla Younes at Grist.  When reports emerged in late December that the Israeli military planned to pump seawater into the underground tunnel networks used by Hamas fighters in Gaza, scientists and advocates around the world raised alarm over the prospect of an environmental disaster. Flooding the tunnels threatened to permanently salinate the land, making it impossible to cultivate crops. Seawater could also seep underground and into an aquifer that the majority of Gazans rely on for water. Palestinian rights groups and protesters around the world were already accusing the Israeli government of committing genocide against the Palestinians, with more than 20,000 killed by Israeli bombings on Gaza since Hamas’ attack on southern Israel last October. Now, another term entered the conversation: ecocide. Broadly defined as the severe, widespread, and long-term destruction of the environment, ecocide isn’t considered a crime under international law. At the moment, the only way to prosecute vast environmental destruction internationally is as a war crime in the International Criminal Court, or ICC, based in The Hague, Netherlands. But a growing number of countries, advocates, and legal experts are trying to change that. While some, like representatives from the island nation of Vanuatu, are motivated by the escalating climate crisis, and others, like Ukraine, are more interested in prosecuting environmental war crimes, they ultimately share the same goal: making ecocide the fifth international crime the ICC could prosecute, along with crimes against humanity, war crimes, crimes of aggression, and genocide.


The farm bill hall of shame. The sometimes tragic, always maddening history of today’s ag-policy fights by Claire Kelloway at the Food & Environment Reporting Network. The farm bill is among the most important pieces of legislation that Congress is more or less obliged to pass. Yet to all but a handful of people whose job it is to parse its every incremental gain or loss, it is largely inscrutable. Every five years we’re treated to bitter fights over things like the use and abuse of agricultural subsidies; attempts to defund SNAP; the notion that environmental stewardship should guide farm policy as much as increasing production; and how (and sadly whether) to build equity into an agriculture system with a racist history. But the backstories to these fights, some ill-fated and others shameful, can provide important context and help to clarify exactly what’s at stake. Over the last 90 years there have been several key farm bill moments, the consequences of which shape the debates ongoing today. The story of the farm bill is one of Black land dispossession and persistent racial inequality in American agriculture. It was baked into the first farm bill, and it has never been made right. Faced with the twin crises of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, the Roosevelt administration was determined to help ailing farmers. But in the rush to pass the 1933 Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA), the era’s most dramatic piece of farm legislation, FDR sided with Southern plantation owners, who wanted to raise crop prices, and farm income, by paying farmers to plant fewer acres. This was disastrous for Black farmers. As Jonathan Coppess writes in The Fault Lines of Farm Policy, historians argue that the AAA was “designed and used intentionally to help Southern cotton planters push poor black sharecroppers off the land and consolidate their holdings.”



U.S. DOE Announces Funding for Tribal Clean Energy Projects • How a Solar Revolution in Farming Is Depleting World’s Groundwater • Colorado River talks break down on drought response plans • Dems slam ads depicting national parks overrun by migrants • Report details labor shortages from climate, infrastructure laws • African great apes predicted to see frequent extreme climate events in the next 30 years • New Research from Antarctica Affirms The Threat of the ‘Doomsday Glacier,’ But Funding to Keep Studying it Is Running Out • Rewilding Ireland: ‘Undoing the damage’ from a history of deforestation