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US states have spent the past 5 years trying to criminalize protest

The Minnesota legislature has spent the last five years preparing for the kind of protests that have rocked the city over the past week in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd — by attempting to criminalize them.

From 2016 through 2019, state lawmakers introduced ten bills that either made obstructing traffic on highways a misdemeanor or increased penalties for protesting near oil and gas facilities. Most of these legislative proposals were introduced in response to ongoing protests against a controversial oil pipeline as well as those following the police killing of Philando Castile in a St. Paul suburb in 2016. The bills would have allowed protesters to be jailed for up to a year, fined offenders up to $3,000 each, and allowed cities to sue protesters for the cost of police response. Many of the bills were introduced in 2017 after racial justice activists in the state made headlines shutting down a major highway. A couple others were in response to protests in 2016 and 2019 against the energy company Enbridge’s planned replacement of a pipeline running from Alberta to Wisconsin.

None of the bills have yet become law, but three failed only because they were vetoed by the governor. Two bills introduced earlier this year are still on the table. One would make trespassing on property with oil and gas facilities punishable by up to three years in prison and a $5,000 fine. The other would make those who assist such activity civilly liable for damages.

Over the past half-decade, a wave of bills that criminalize civil disobedience has swept state legislatures across the country — particularly those controlled by Republican lawmakers. According to a new report by PEN America, a nonprofit advocating for First Amendment rights, 116 such bills were proposed in state legislatures between 2015 and 2020. Of those, 23 bills in 15 states became law. While there is no comprehensive count of the number of people arrested and prosecuted under these new laws, activists protesting oil and gas activity have been charged with felonies in Houston and Louisiana.

This year alone, four states — Kentucky, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Utah — passed laws that increased penalties and charges for either interfering with oil and gas activity or disturbing meetings of government officials. (Interfering with oil and gas activity may include obstructing the construction or operation of pipelines and other “critical infrastructure.”) As of May, 12 other bills are pending in various state legislatures — all of them introduced before the past week’s unrest. If passed, these bills would increase disciplinary sanctions for campus protesters, classify trespassing on property with oil and gas infrastructure a felony, and expand the definition of rioting, among other things.

More bills increasing penalties for protesters may be on their way. In response to the recent protests against George Floyd’s killing, a Tennessee lawmaker has proposed increasing penalties for rioting and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has said that her administration is looking into legislative proposals to respond to the recent unrest.

“Protest, in the last several years, has absolutely been followed by efforts by state legislators to criminalize the very activity practiced in the mere months prior,” said Nora Benevidez, director of the U.S. Free Expression Programs at PEN America. “There is this larger narrative that is being cast that protest needs to be narrowed — and the definitions around what constitutes acceptable protests are becoming smaller and smaller.”

Benevidez found that, in the years prior to recent large-scale protests and the 2016 election victories of conservative state legislators, proposals chipping away at constitutionally-protected protest activity were few and far between. In 2015 and 2016, only six bills narrowing the rights of protesters were introduced. But in 2017 — in the wake of nationwide protests over the police shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, protests against the Dakota Access pipeline, and marches responding to President Trump’s election — that number rose to 56.

Lawmakers who supported such bills weren’t shy about their intentions. In 2018, Minnesota state senator Paul Utke — the main sponsor of a bill that would have made training, hiring, or counseling those who end up trespassing on property with a pipeline a felony punishable with up to ten years in prison and a $20,000 fine — pointed to the Dakota Access Pipeline protests as a reason for the bill. “We saw what happened in North Dakota and we have a big pipeline project coming up [in Minnesota],” he said.

Only two such laws have been challenged in court. South Dakota’s “riot-boosting” law, which allowed the state to sue protesters for damages, was found unconstitutional in 2019 because it was created in anticipation of protests against the Keystone XL pipeline. Earlier this year, however, lawmakers passed a new version of the law, which has not yet been challenged in court. Litigation against a similar law in Louisiana is pending.

Benevidez said she expects to see many more bills curtailing the right to protest in the coming months.

“The long-term and sustained ways to target certain groups comes not just from moments like this but in the months that follow,” she said. “Even if protests die down, the need to be ready to challenge some of these proposals is going to be really necessary.”

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US states have spent the past 5 years trying to criminalize protest

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Mannahatta – Eric W. Sanderson & Markley Boyer



A Natural History of New York City

Eric W. Sanderson & Markley Boyer

Genre: Nature

Price: $11.99

Publish Date: December 1, 2013

Publisher: ABRAMS

Seller: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.

On September 12, 1609, Henry Hudson first set foot on the land that would become Manhattan. Today, it’s difficult to imagine what he saw, but for more than a decade, landscape ecologist Eric Sanderson has been working to do just that. Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City is the astounding result of those efforts, reconstructing in words and images the wild island that millions now call home. By geographically matching an 18th-century map with one of the modern city, examining volumes of historic documents, and collecting and analyzing scientific data, Sanderson re-creates the forests of Times Square, the meadows of Harlem, and the wetlands of downtown. His lively text guides readers through this abundant landscape, while breathtaking illustrations transport them back in time. Mannahatta is a groundbreaking work that provides not only a window into the past, but also inspiration for the future.

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Mannahatta – Eric W. Sanderson & Markley Boyer

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Trump blasts wind turbine emissions, says zilch about fossil fuels

It’s no secret that President Trump hates wind turbines. He’s had it out for them since at least 2012, when he tweeted that they’re an “environmental & aesthetic disaster,” and blamed them for murdering bald eagles. The enmity reportedly stems from an offshore wind farm that Trump feared would mar views from one of his golf courses in Scotland.

At a rally in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Thursday, Trump made his displeasure known again, saying that the wind turbines he saw recently on a trip to Palm Springs were “closed” and “rotting.” “They look like hell,” he said.

He didn’t stop there. “When they’re making them, more stuff goes up into the air and up into the ozone, the atmosphere,” Trump said. “And they don’t say this, but after a period of time, they get tired, they get old, they get rusty and a lot of guys say hey, their useful life is gone, let’s get the hell out of here.”

The president isn’t entirely wrong about that last bit. As a recent report from Bloomberg Green points out, tens of thousands of aging wind turbine blades — which can stretch longer than the wing of a Boeing 747 — are ending up in landfills. Over the next four years, 32,000 blades will go to the landfill in the United States alone. Recycling the blades, which are built to outlast hurricanes and tornadoes, is nigh impossible.

But the environmental impact of wind turbines is nothing compared to that of oil, gas, and coal — industries that Trump has tried to prop up with every executive lever available to him. If Trump actually cared about the stuff that “goes up into the air,” he’d rail against fossil fuels, not renewables. The carbon footprint of coal is nearly 90 times greater than that of wind energy, according to the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, an agency in the executive branch that Trump is the head of. The footprint of natural gas is more than 40 times greater.

Trump’s 2012 claim that wind turbines kill birds is also a half-truth: the Audubon Society estimates that wind turbines kill somewhere between 140,000 and 328,000 birds every year in North America. But the oil and gas industry kills as many as one million birds a year, says the Bureau of Land Management. And coal, the industry Trump has vowed to save, kills nearly 8 million per year.

Come to think of it, “a lot of guys say hey, their useful life is gone, let’s get the hell out of here” would be a much better motto for fossil fuels than for wind turbines.

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Trump blasts wind turbine emissions, says zilch about fossil fuels

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Humble Pi – Matt Parker


Humble Pi

When Math Goes Wrong in the Real World

Matt Parker

Genre: Mathematics

Price: $13.99

Publish Date: January 21, 2020

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group


An international bestseller The book-length answer to anyone who ever put their hand up in math class and asked, “When am I ever going to use this in the real world?”  “Fun, informative, and relentlessly entertaining,  Humble Pi  is a charming and very readable guide to some of humanity's all-time greatest miscalculations—that also gives you permission to feel a little better about some of your own mistakes.” —Ryan North, author of  How to Invent Everything   Our whole world is built on math, from the code running a website to the equations enabling the design of skyscrapers and bridges. Most of the time this math works quietly behind the scenes . . . until it doesn’t. All sorts of seemingly innocuous mathematical mistakes can have significant consequences. Math is easy to ignore until a misplaced decimal point upends the stock market, a unit conversion error causes a plane to crash, or someone divides by zero and stalls a battleship in the middle of the ocean. Exploring and explaining a litany of glitches, near misses, and mathematical mishaps involving the internet, big data, elections, street signs, lotteries, the Roman Empire, and an Olympic team, Matt Parker uncovers the bizarre ways math trips us up, and what this reveals about its essential place in our world. Getting it wrong has never been more fun.

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Humble Pi – Matt Parker

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The Ice at the End of the World – Jon Gertner


The Ice at the End of the World

An Epic Journey into Greenland’s Buried Past and Our Perilous Future

Jon Gertner

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $13.99

Publish Date: June 11, 2019

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC

A riveting, urgent account of the explorers and scientists racing to understand the rapidly melting ice sheet in Greenland, a dramatic harbinger of climate change “Jon Gertner takes readers to spots few journalists or even explorers have visited. The result is a gripping and important book.”—Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of  The Sixth Extinction Greenland: a remote, mysterious island five times the size of California but with a population of just 56,000. The ice sheet that covers it is 700 miles wide and 1,500 miles long, and is composed of nearly three quadrillion tons of ice. For the last 150 years, explorers and scientists have sought to understand Greenland—at first hoping that it would serve as a gateway to the North Pole, and later coming to realize that it contained essential information about our climate. Locked within this vast and frozen white desert are some of the most profound secrets about our planet and its future. Greenland’s ice doesn’t just tell us where we’ve been. More urgently, it tells us where we’re headed. In The Ice at the End of the World, Jon Gertner explains how Greenland has evolved from one of earth’s last frontiers to its largest scientific laboratory. The history of Greenland’s ice begins with the explorers who arrived here at the turn of the twentieth century—first on foot, then on skis, then on crude, motorized sleds—and embarked on grueling expeditions that took as long as a year and often ended in frostbitten tragedy. Their original goal was simple: to conquer Greenland’s seemingly infinite interior. Yet their efforts eventually gave way to scientists who built lonely encampments out on the ice and began drilling—one mile, two miles down. Their aim was to pull up ice cores that could reveal the deepest mysteries of earth’s past, going back hundreds of thousands of years. Today, scientists from all over the world are deploying every technological tool available to uncover the secrets of this frozen island before it’s too late. As Greenland’s ice melts and runs off into the sea, it not only threatens to affect hundreds of millions of people who live in coastal areas. It will also have drastic effects on ocean currents, weather systems, economies, and migration patterns. Gertner chronicles the unfathomable hardships, amazing discoveries, and scientific achievements of the Arctic’s explorers and researchers with a transporting, deeply intelligent style—and a keen sense of what this work means for the rest of us. The melting ice sheet in Greenland is, in a way, an analog for time. It contains the past. It reflects the present. It can also tell us how much time we might have left.

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The Ice at the End of the World – Jon Gertner

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Earth911 Conscious-Shopping Guide: Best Solar Panels

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Technological advances have transformed the solar energy industry in recent years. Solar panels are significantly more efficient, producing more power in the same amount of space. Meanwhile, prices continue to fall, reducing the cost of solar electricity.

But with the introduction of new technologies comes uncertainty. Which solar panels are the most reliable and durable? What technology creates the least amount of pollution in the manufacturing process? Let’s explore some of these critical issues in the pursuit of the best solar panels on the market.

Solar Panel Considerations


Solar panels have become significantly more efficient in recent years. And the more efficient a solar panel is, the more energy can be generated in a given space. Space becomes more critical when there are constraints due to the size or your roof or property. Unfortunately, more efficient panels typically cost more. If space isn’t an issue, efficiency becomes less crucial. For installations limited by space, panel efficiency is an important consideration. It is also important to consider the long-term efficiency of solar modules.

Long-Term Power Generation

Like most other things, solar panels degrade over time. They become less efficient in turning sunlight into electricity. This is important because solar panels can last 30 years and you want your solar system to be churning out a lot of energy a couple of decades from now, even if someone else owns the home.

Solar panel manufacturers offer a power production guarantee to ensure a certain level of output over a given time. Many solar panel manufacturers provide a guarantee of 90 percent production for 10 years and 80 percent for 25 years.

Some manufacturers differentiate themselves by offering stronger warranties. SunPower, for example, leads the industry by offering a 92 percent performance guarantee for 25 years. The higher the value of the 25-year production warranty, the more power the panels will generate 25 years down the road.

Product Warranties

Product warranties cover defects and failures. Solar panel warranties vary a lot by the manufacturer. SunPower, LG, and Solaria all offer a 25-year warranty, whereas Trina offers just a 10-year warranty. The longer the warranty, the lower the investment risk. In many cases, a more extended product warranty means higher solar panel prices.

Environmental Performance

The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC) is dedicated to a safe and sustainable solar photovoltaic (PV) industry. They produce a solar scorecard that rates manufacturers on extended producer responsibility, supply chain, workers rights, emissions reporting, module toxicity, greenhouse gas emissions, conflict minerals, and water use. The companies with the highest ratings are the most sustainable.

Solar Panel Module Testing

Look for DNV GL test results. The company tests solar panels for reliability and durability for common degradation mechanisms. Solar panel performance has a huge impact on the solar electricity of an array over time. Such testing helps ensure high-quality panels, reducing financial risk.

DMV GL produces a list of top-performing PV panels that lead in product reliability.

Manufacturing Location

Most solar panels are manufactured in Asia, Europe, or North America. Modules that are made in the United States tend to be more expensive. But some solar shoppers want to support domestic manufacturing. Many companies produce panels in two or three countries. For example, SunPower products are made in the United States, the Philippines, and Mexico. Keep in mind that the manufacturing location and the company’s headquarters are not necessarily the same. Also, the manufacturing location isn’t necessarily an indication of quality. Panels that are manufactured closer to the installation site might have lower emissions related to transportation of the product. 

Top Solar Panels Comparison Chart

We compared the efficiency, warranty, environmental performance, and more of the following solar panel models in the comparison chart below. 

  1. SunPower X22
  2. Trina Solar TSM
  3. Hanwha Q CELLS Q.Peak Duo
  4. REC Solar N-Peak
  5. LG Electronics NeON R
  6. Solaria PowerXT
  7. Adani Solar ASP-7-AAA

To view our printable comparison chart of top solar panels on the market, click the image below.

A Dynamic Industry

At times, supply delays and surpluses have plagued the solar industry. For example, China slashed solar subsidies for domestic solar installations in May 2018. This move created a lag in demand, causing a surplus of solar panels and falling prices across the industry. Thankfully, this surplus supply has helped offset the impact of the U.S. solar tariff that was recently enacted.

Because solar panel technology is advancing, the market is very dynamic. New products are frequently being released as others become obsolete. The most efficient solar panels on the market today will probably not seem so efficient in a decade as the technology matures. Companies that are relatively unknown could capture a larger share of the market.


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Have you considered installing a solar power system on your …Sarah LozanovaJanuary 31, 2019



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Earth911 Conscious-Shopping Guide: Best Solar Panels

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Under the Sea Wind – Rachel Carson


Under the Sea Wind

Rachel Carson

Genre: Nature

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: March 29, 2011

Publisher: Open Road Media

Seller: OpenRoad Integrated Media, LLC

This New York Times bestseller by the author of the environmental classic Silent Spring beautifully details the coastal ecosystem of birds and the sea.  In her first book, preeminent nature writer Rachel Carson tells the story of the sea creatures and birds that dwell in and around the waters along North America’s eastern coast—and the delicately balanced ecosystem that sustains them. Following the life cycles of a pair of sanderlings, a mackerel, and an eel, Carson gracefully weaves scientific observation with imaginative prose to educate and inspire, creating one of the finest wildlife narratives in American literature.  This ebook features an illustrated biography of Rachel Carson including rare photos and never-before-seen documents from the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.

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Under the Sea Wind – Rachel Carson

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How to Responsibly Dispose of Old Clothes

Did you know that the typical?lifetime of a piece of clothing in an American’s closet is just?3 years??The average American throws away 70 pounds of textile waste annually; and just 15 percent of this actually gets recycled. The rest? You guessed it: landfill.

When we think of waste piling up in our landfills and our oceans, we typically envision things like plastic straws, broken electronics and dirty diapers ??not perfectly wearable clothing. But unwanted garments actually make up 5 percent of all landfills in the United States…

It’s shameful, really. And totally unnecessary!

If you’re used to?bagging up all your old clothes and dropping them off on the doorstep of your local thrift store, know that there?are other ways!?Even in the case of decade-old underwear and paint-stained t-shirts, there?are textile recyclers that will take them. Let’s take a?look at the options that are out there.

How to responsibly dispose of
clothing and textiles

What to do with clothing that is?current, but doesn’t fit or doesn’t suit you

Resell it! Recycling clothing doesn’t necessarily mean shipping it off to get broken down and remade into new fibers.?It can also include selling (and purchasing) gently used items from the secondhand market.

If you have items in great condition and want to make a little extra cash, consider one of these three options:

  1. Take clothing to your local consignment shop. They’ll put your items on the rack and, once they sell, pay you a cut of the earnings. It’s easy and a great way to support local business!
  2. Send clothing to an online reseller like thredUP.?Earn cash or store credit for items you’re no longer wearing. They’ll ship back or responsibly recycle anything they don’t think will sell.
  3. Resell clothing in your own online boutique.?Take pictures of your gently used items and post on platforms like Poshmark, eBay, Mercari or?The RealReal. Get cash each time you make a sale, minus a small percentage that goes to the platform host.

What to do with clothing?that is?dated, but still in wearable condition

Donate or upcycle?it! Thrift stores, community centers, homeless shelters and charity shops can use?your unwanted clothing to?support people and fund valuable programs. Just make sure that there is an actual need for the items you’re dropping off! This is really important.

Also, when you donate clothing, make sure it’s actually in usable, wearable condition. Many shops have policies that disallow unacceptable items like old socks or?torn up sweaters, forcing them?to send unwearable clothing to landfill. That just defeats the whole purpose!

Feeling crafty? Repurpose worn out t-shirts into cleaning rags, sew your jeans into a tote, and make drawstring produce bags from whatever’s left.

What to do with clothing that?can’t be used in its current condition

If?the clothing?you are trying to get rid of just aren’t suitable for reselling, donating or upcycling, consider shipping them to textile recycling programs like these:

Terracycle Fabrics
The Bra Recyclers
Soles 4 Souls
Wearable Collections?(NYC)
Green Tree (NYC)
GemText (PNW)
Don’t Let Fashion Go to Waste (H&M)
Reuse-A-Shoe (Nike)
Common Threads (Patagonia)
Clothes the Loop (The North Face)

Not what you were looking for??Check out these resources for more information:

Council for Textile Recycling
Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles
Donation Town

Well, there you have it! Everything you needed to know about keeping your clothing out of the waste cycle and back into productive use. Have questions about all this? Leave them in the comments!

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How to Responsibly Dispose of Old Clothes

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Joe Biden wants to be the anti-Trump. Here’s what that could mean for climate policy.

Let’s play a game called two truths and a lie:

  1. Joe Biden is running for President.
  2. Joe Biden has endorsed a carbon tax and the Green New Deal.
  3. Joe Biden was the first senator to introduce climate legislation in the U.S.

For all those who guessed that No. 2 is the lie, you are correct! Congrats. The Democrat has not, in fact, endorsed the Green New Deal. Nor has gone on record about supporting carbon pricing, a climate solution embraced by most political moderates.

Story continues below

Biden announced Thursday morning that he is throwing his ice cream-stained cap in the 2020 presidential ring, which means the already-crowded, left-lurching Democratic primary has its most establishment member yet in the 76-year-old former vice president. In a video that focuses heavily on the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, and the current White House occupant’s shocking response to the event, Biden clearly positions himself as the antidote to Donald Trump.

The longtime senator from Delaware has been under scrutiny for months as the media anticipated his official announcement. Dozens of stories have probed his decades-long record. And a month ago, Lucy Flores, a Democratic politician from Nevada, accused him of unwanted touching. Since then, a number of women have come forward with similar stories.

The accusations and the background checks didn’t stop the Democrat from joining the 2020 race. His launch video eschews any talk of issues, so what can we expect from Biden when it comes to tackling climate change? Let’s take a trip down memory lane.

Amtrak Joe was actually the first to propose climate legislation in Congress’s upper chamber — a bill called the 1986 Global Climate Protection Act that would have done what Nancy Pelosi’s Select Committee on the Climate Crisis does now: “Establish a Task Force on the Global Climate to research, develop, and implement a coordinated national strategy on global climate.” Imagine how useful such a panel might have been three decades ago. Unfortunately the president at the time, Ronald Reagan, wasn’t exactly champing at the bit to address rising temperatures.

Between his early days in the Senate and now, Biden’s most notable climate-related accomplishment was serving as Barack Obama’s sidekick for eight years. The administration was especially focused on climate action, especially during its second term (think: CAFE standards, Clean Power Plan, the Paris agreement, among other achievements). Following the 2008 recession, Biden handed out $90 billion in funding for clean-energy programs and called the move “the thing I’m proudest of” from the administration’s first term. In a 2015 speech, the vice president said tackling climate change was “the single most important thing” the White House could do.

Overall, however Obama’s climate record is far from spotless: He bragged about helping the U.S. become the world’s leading oil producer. And part of his energy plan included handing Shell a permit to drill in the Arctic and promoting offshore drilling. Biden might now have to answer for those decisions.

Today, as the chatter left of the aisle centers on the Green New Deal, it’s clear that ideas like the Obama-era “all of the above” energy strategy aren’t going to fly in the Democratic primary. Already, five 2020-bound senators have signed on as cosponsors of the ambitious equity-focused, economy-transforming proposal offered by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey. A slew of other candidates not serving in the Senate have thrown their support behind the idea, too.

Biden, however, has so far been uncharacteristically quiet on that front. But, in a speech at the Conference of Mayors in January, he gave the audience a taste of what his thinking around climate is these days:

Lots of renewables: “Today we generate wind power for 24 million homes,” he said. “There’s no reason why we can’t quadruple that, virtually overnight.”
He’s all about setting goals: “There’s no reason that in 2025 all of North America can’t get half its electricity from non-polluting sources.”
Bipartisanship: “There’s unanimity in my party, the vast majority of Republicans agree,” he claimed, that climate needs to be addressed.
Climate change is a matter of national security: “Sea levels rise a half a foot or a foot, you have tens of millions of people migrating,” he explained, shaking his fist. “That’s how wars start.”
Climate change poses an existential threat: “It’s about a matter of survival.”

Biden wrapped up his speech with a call to arms: “We cannot continue down this blind path,” he proclaimed. “We cannot ignore science, we cannot abdicate our duty to lead the world.”

It’s no accident that Biden spent a third of his 30-minute speech expounding on his record on the environment and enumerating ideas to tackle climate change. With the clock ticking on much-needed action, the issue is often on the lips of many challengers vying to take on Donald Trump — and then, hopefully, warming.

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Joe Biden wants to be the anti-Trump. Here’s what that could mean for climate policy.

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Young climate leaders just told a House committee to get its act together

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Melody Zhang’s fascination with the environment, “God’s creation,” began when she was a kid and uttered her first words in Chinese: 出去, which means “Go outside.”

Zhang, the climate justice campaign coordinator for Sojourners (a faith-based social justice magazine) and the co-chair for Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, read this anecdote as part of her testimony in front of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis on Thursday morning.

The congressional hearing wasn’t a typical one. In its first-ever hearing, the brand-new committee listened to the voices of young people who are urging policymakers to take action on climate change.

Along with Zhang, three other young leaders gave brief testimonies about their experiences with climate change: Aji Piper, one of the 21 plaintiffs in the youth climate lawsuit Juliana v. United States; Chris Suggs, a student activist from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and Lindsay Cooper, a political analyst for the Louisiana governor’s office.

18-year-old Suggs grew up in North Carolina, which experienced severe flooding during Hurricane Florence last year. The saddest thing about recurring weather disasters, Suggs said, is that they affect the communities that have already been hit the hardest by all of society’s other problems.

“You have poor, rural communities that are completely underwater or get cut off from their access to food, hospitals, and medical supplies,” he said in his testimony. “Climate change is an extra kick to communities and populations that are already down.”

After hearing the witnesses’ stories, the committee chair, Democrat Kathy Castor of Florida, asked, “Where do you find hope and optimism in the face of such a daunting problem?”

Zhang said she is energized by the creativity and joy that young people bring to the climate movement. She pointed to last month’s Youth Climate Strike, where students at tens of thousands of schools around the world took the streets to demand that leaders act on climate change.

“This level of engagement and activism is one of the best things I have seen in my many years of beating my head against the wall on this issue,” said Representative Jared Huffman from California, a Democrat who joined the Youth Climate Strike.

While most committee members found the youth’s testimonies compelling, Gary Palmer of Alabama and some other Republican representatives expressed an, um, different viewpoint.

“The fundamental principle in addressing these issues is that you have to fundamentally define the problem,” Palmer said. “If you don’t properly define the problem, then the solutions you come up with are generally going to be off the mark.” (He also disparaged the “emphasis on anthropomorphic impact.” Last time we checked the dictionary, “anthropomorphic” means having human-like characteristics. Don’t you mean “anthropogenic,” Mr. Palmer?)

First-time representative Joe Neguse, a Democrat from Colorado, rebuked Palmer’s argument. “I don’t know that this committee needs to necessarily define the problem,” he said. “The scientists and experts [already] defined the problem for us.”

Since he took office three months ago, Neguse said, every meeting he’s had with young people has been about the environment. While he’s worried about the future his 7-month-year-old daughter might inherit, he was reassured by the capable young people in the room. “When my daughter is my age,” he said, “you all will be the leaders running for office, and I have no doubt that given the reality [now], we will truly make progress in this important issue.”

At the end of her testimony, Zhang made one final plea. “As political leaders, especially ones of faith, I implore you to respond faithfully and with full force to love God and neighbor by enacting just, compassionate, and transformative climate policies which rise to the challenge of the climate crisis. That is my prayer for you.”

Originally posted here – 

Young climate leaders just told a House committee to get its act together

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