Aftermath of an eastern hurricane and a western climate summit

by Lisa

Aftermath is a curious word, a good way to describe a tallying up of the costs and benefits. No discernable benefits to Hurricane Florence which made landfall in North Carolina and led to flooding in that state and parts of other states. Those flood waters are still rising, nearly 2 weeks later, with fresh warnings in effect in some areas of South Carolina where swollen rivers converge. Both inland rivers and coastal waters are contaminated and unsafe for bathing or drinking.

As the hurricane approached local groups and environmental watch-dogs warned that contained animal feeding operations (CAFOs) could cause massive contamination and they were, unfortunately, right.  Satellite images show flood waters contaminated by pollution from waste from the hundreds of industrial-scale hog and poultry farms in North Carolina https://tinyurl.com/y9ethem2. And in an interesting turn about, Rolling Stone points out that its cheaper now to raise hogs in North Carolina than in China due to weak environmental regulations! https://tinyurl.com/yb66mn6y. There are many other costs to people and homes, including lack of flood insurance to cover the damage. And the natural environment suffers, not just because of the immediate effects of the hurricane (which may impact habitat and migrations immediately), but because we have left so little of this world in a natural condition that long-term resilience is compromised. An interesting round up of direct impacts from hurricanes on species was in the National Geographic recently. https://tinyurl.com/yb4urhxz. Really, I haven’t heard about any benefits although I guess it is some kind of progress that most news outlets finally admit climate change is having an effect on hurricanes!

photo of Climate March

Meanwhile, on the west coast, the Governor Jerry Brown brought the Global Climate Action Summit to San Francisco with a lot of big wigs, and protesters responded with a big climate march and days of action.  Queers joined the big march on Saturday and the days of action out in the streets– demanding more, much more, from the politicians. Protests focused on many themes including calling into question voluntary efforts like market based solutions to climate change instead of across the board regulations, climate injustice and impacts to poorer communities, impacts to native lands and forests from climate policies that commodify and monetize the natural world. Without real changes that are needed to reduce new and ongoing greenhouse gas emissions, nothing will actually change.

Native groups blocked entry to the Climate and Forest Task Force meeting at the summit and presented a letter stating: “You cannot commodify the sacred — we reject these market based climate change solutions and projects like the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation program (REDD+), because they are false solutions that further destroy our rights, our ability to use our forests, and our sovereignty and self-determination. The Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force does not represent us and has no authority over our peoples and territories.” REDD in particular has been opposed by native groups globally because its policies do nothing to address the causes of the climate crisis and emission but rather attempts to assert corporate power and government ownership of forests and lands that belong to native people. As the letter explains: “in order to keep it in your hands you invent forms of state ownership such as ‘conservation areas’ or ‘sustainable development areas.’ You invent more forms of offsets such as ‘intelligent agriculture’ ‘biodiversity offsets’ and even ‘butterfly offsets’ that detrimentally affect our lives, our food security, our forests, our biodiversity, and sovereignty. . . .  Our forests are not carbon dumps, they are our homes.”  Native groups call foul on corporate and governmental interests simply labeling the last intact forests and natural lands as “reserves” to show they have made progress on climate change while they continue to pump out GHGs daily and climate chaos descends.

And Jerry Brown wants to be a real climate leader and present California as a climate success but that rhetoric only works if you close your eyes to actions of oil and gas industry across California he is also working to support. Speeches about climate and clean energy along with promises for the golden future are too little too late when oil and gas continues to be developed at the same time as renewable energy and dirty oil and gas facilities are still pumping out toxins in urban neighborhoods too.  And co-chair of the Summit, Michael Bloomberg, former new york mayor and long-time capitalist, is in favor of fracking and investing in fossil fuels – protesters also interrupted his speech at the summit. Seems to me these are pretty reasonable demands, “Climate leaders don’t frack” and “Climate delegates, keep it in the ground.”

 

Author: lagai

LAGAI-Queer Insurrection is one of the oldest radical queer liberation groups in the U.S. We publish UltraViolet, a more or less bimonthly newspaper, which is mailed free of charge to over 1500 people, including over 800 prisoners. Our website is www.lagai.org.

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