What to know Michael Moore’s 'Planet of the Humans' criticizes the green energy movement. It was met with outrage from the environmental community. The movie was re-released after a copyright infringement for free viewing on June 5th.
The film's argument 'Planet of the Humans' argues that
- Green energy does not have the capability to save the planet from a climate crisis.
- Leading environmental organizations’ motives are muddied by ties to the fossil fuel industry.
The critics Environmentalist Josh Fox and others rebuked the film for its inaccuracies. Most of the footage is from 5-15 years ago, and information about solar and wind technology is also stuck in that time period. Despite this, the footage is misleadingly not marked with dates.
Zoom out It is true that green energy technology can be poorly implemented, but this does not mean that green energy as a whole is useless, as the film suggests. In the words of Fox, “to attack the basic premise that renewable energy works is patently absurd.”
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- Capture: This app helps you measure your carbon footprint
- RecycleCoach: Become a better recycler using this app!
- Buycott: Become a smarter and more conscious consumer using this app
- Waze: Use this app to find alternate routes and save money and gas, while reducing the environmental impact of your commute!
- PaperKarma: Track and cut paper waste by stopping junk mail using this app.
Good stuff to know Under normal circumstances, NEPA sets a hard, but simple line for federal action on construction projects. Before the government can move ahead with a proposed project, it must:
- Determine the future environmental impact of the project
- Alert the public of its plans
- Consult other alternatives to the proposal
- Invite public commentary
The court ruling NEPA applies to 'major federal actions,' and courts have recently interpreted this term broadly.
What it means The Trump administration may pick and choose which of its projects count as 'major federal actions'. Discretion on a project’s classification lies with the agencies overseeing its completion.
Now, 'cumulative” and “indirect' effects are no longer required for agencies’ consideration. With that, NEPA maintains that decisions must “make sense for tomorrow as well as today.”
Bottom line This broad interpretation of NEPA eviscerates two of the most important protections of the act.
Civil rights lawyers and community activists are now joining forces to defeat the deafening blow to communities of color in the latest series of Trumpian environmental rollbacks.
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What to Know
- The House and Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) in a bipartisan agreement
- The GAOA accomplishes two goals.
- $9 billion for deferred maintenance
- Guaranteed $900 million annually in perpetuity for the Land and Water Conservation Fund
- The fund also supports the National Parks Service, Forest Service, U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Indian Education
Why it Matters
- The GAOA will help maintain NPS lands that have been loved to death with a 50% increase in visitor rate since the 1980’s
- Conservation does not have to be a partisan issue. The passing of GAOA demonstrates room for common ground when it comes to environmental protection
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Hot take The Zero Waste movement is failing.
Some key talking points
1. Barrier to entry The environmental movement has struggled with inclusivity and accessibility since its inception. Geographic location can heavily impact one’s ability to practice zero waste.
Bulk food stores, farmers markets and zero-waste shops sprout up in trendy metropolitan cities like San Francisco, but are rarely sighted in rural towns.
2. Trendy products = more consumption Pressure on companies to be more sustainable is seemingly a victory for environmentalists. However, as consumer-centric businesses seize upon Zero Waste trends, the advertising has paradoxically become about consuming more, rather than less (there are exceptions).
Alternatives to Zero Waste
- Diet Reducing consumption is largely considered the single most effective way to reduce your carbon footprint. Second to that is purchasing local foods and unprocessed foods.
- Transportation Reduce reliance on car and air travel. Use public transportation, or bike. Or, you can never leave your house again because... covid.
- Fast Fashion Avoid the incredible footprint of fast fashion. Buy second hand, stay informed. Unlearn the tendency to purchase quantity over quality.
- Activism The climate crisis was caused by individual consumers. To change what you can’t directly control, become involved in activism. Looking for a place to start? Try Fridays For Future or Sunrise Movement.
Proposal Instead of the Zero Waste movement, let’s call it the Low Impact movement. Names are powerful, and not only is this phrasing more attainable, it is less self-righteous and exclusionary.
This is a beautiful movement that has lost its authenticity. The more genuine we can make it, the more impactful and widespread it will become.
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Big picture Two-thirds of Americans believe the US government must act more urgently to slow global warming. As November's presidential election nears, climate change policy will likely earn a top-ten spot in debate topics.
What to know
- 63% of Americans feel as if climate change is directly or indirectly affecting their communities and livelihoods.
- 65% believe the federal government is not doing enough to combat climate change.
- 79% of respondents advise federal investment in alternative energy sources such as solar panels and wind farms.
Politics politics politics
- Democrats have increased their awareness of the dangers of climate change by 27% since 2009.
- Republicans and Republican-leaning voters developed only a 6% greater consciousness of climate change.
- Partisanship seems to color most people's views about local climate change effects more than anything else.
- Democrats are more than twice as likely as Republicans to say climate change impacts their local community.
- Moderate-liberal Republican and Republican-leaning voters acknowledge the local impacts of climate change more frequently than their more conservative counterparts.
Bottom line Come November, policy differences between the presidential candidates on climate change will become abundantly clear. Political analysts will have to examine what level of influence climate will have over election results.
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The problem with food waste
- 30% of all food in the US is thrown out (UN Environment)
- Food waste is often incinerated, which causes pollution... instead of feeding hungry mouths, or nourishing soil as compost.
- Food waste harms the environment, which is already stressed by food production’s demand for land, water, and the associated release of greenhouse gas emissions.
What you can do
- Plan meals ahead of time
- Use leftovers creatively, in multiple ways
- Shop responsibly, with a purpose
- Store food intelligently; don't let it go bad too soon
- Support local initiatives, there are good-neighbor ways to help
Bottom line As individuals, we can reduce the environmental consequences of food waste by making simple adjustments to our food habits. Cultivating awareness around food waste will help us work towards a more sustainable food system.
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The scoop Market research firm JD Power released a new index based on environmental, social and governance (ESG).
- Consumer awareness and engagement with utility climate initiatives are very low
- Most concerned cities: NYC, LA and Portland are most concerned cities on climate change
- Climate change skeptics: Wyoming and Alabama have the largest percentages of climate change skeptics
- Business customers more engaged in sustainability than residential customers
Why it matters Sustainability has a communication and education problem. Companies in traditional industries like electricity need to adapt marketing initiatives to match 21st century tools, and communicate better with consumers.
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What to know Congress passed the Air Pollution Control Act (APCA) in 1955, which funded federal air pollution research but did not require or give power to the federal government to regulate air pollution.
The Clear Air Act of 1963 permitted the government to control air pollution in certain capacities. In 1999, several citizens, conservation, and environmental groups filed a petition for the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate air pollution under this act.
The EPA denied the petition, and Massachusetts and several other states filed a class action lawsuit against the EPA to fight for the American people’s right to live in safe environments with clear air.
After a lengthy debate over the ambiguity of the Clean Air Act’s language, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Massachusetts in a 5-4 decision.
Key Takeaways The EPA cannot decline to issue emission standards for motor vehicles based on policy considerations not specifically enumerated in the Clean Air Act.
The Clean Air Act gives the EPA authority to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
Some of the progressive rules that resulted from this case, such as the Clean Car and Clean Truck Standards, were recently minimized by the Trump administration in the beginning stages of the pandemic.
Bottom line The government will continue its ableism (discrimination in favor of able-bodied people) without public pressure and scrutiny, so we must come together to vote and advocate for accelerated climate change action.
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What is environmental racism? Environmental racism refers to the disproportionate burden on minority neighborhoods from air and water borne hazards that impact their quality of life and health outcomes.
Rooted in racial discrimination and a lack of political power and voice, environmental racism continues to drive the systemic segregation of minority communities.
Impact Overwhelmingly, Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities bear the burden of environmental racism.
Limited by government and industrial policies, minority communities are compromised by poor environmental quality as well as a lack of opportunities for social mobility and jobs, thereby segregating minority groups from their white counterparts.
For example, irrespective of socioeconomic status, race continues to be the most pertinent predictor of the location of commercial hazardous waste facilities in America.
Bottom line People of color will continue to suffer from a disproportionate number of health-related issues due to environmental racism unless serious attention and action is brought to the environmental justice movement, which advocates for healthy, sustainable, and livable communities.
Now is the time for communities to demand state and federal accountability and mobilize to raise the political capital of neighboring minority communities.
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