The American Chestnut Foundation puts forests at risk with Frankentrees!

The American Chestnut Foundation is leading efforts to introduce genetically engineered (GE) American Chestnut trees back into the eastern North American deciduous forest ecosystem. The native tree (Castanea dentata) was nearly obliterated by an imported blight during the first part of the 20th Century.  It was a crucial part of the forests ecosysystem which stretched from Maine in the U.S.; south through the Applachians and into Missouri; throughout much of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, the Virginias, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama.  This forest also is found in Southeastern Canada including Quebec and Ontario. The Campaign to STOP GE Trees, in collaboration with Global Justice Ecology Project is developing a major campaign to challenge the introduction of genetically engineered American Chestnuts into these ecosystems. Read a fact sheet here.

The American chestnut tree reigned over 200 million acres of eastern woodlands from Maine to Florida, and from the Piedmont plateau in the Carolinas west to the Ohio Valley, until succumbing to a lethal fungus infestation, known as the chestnut blight, during the first half of the 20th century. An estimated 4 billion American chestnuts, up to 1/4 of the hardwood tree population, grew within this range.

The American chestnut tree reigned over 200 million acres of eastern woodlands from Maine to Florida, and from the Piedmont plateau in the Carolinas west to the Ohio Valley, until succumbing to a lethal fungus infestation, known as the chestnut blight, during the first half of the 20th century. An estimated 4 billion American chestnuts, up to 1/4 of the hardwood tree population, grew within this range. -Source- American Chestnut Foundation

While lauded in many quarters as a step toward “bringing back the native forests,” there are critical reasons to believe that the introduction of GE American chestnut trees is a dangerous practice and may lead to further demise of ecosystems, the wildlife that depends on them, and ultimately human well-being. In their October campaign appeal, the American Chestnut Foundation may have let the real cat out of the bag, or revealed the camels nose under the tent. -Funding for research and introduction of synthetic trees into forest ecosystems.

Appeal letter from American Chestnut Foundation, October 2014 (excerpts)

“As important as the American chestnut is to our ecosystem, its successful restoration will have an even greater significance. We believe our model can be applied to other endangered trees such s the ash, elm, and hemlock. Our continue success will help ensure that other trees under grave threat of annihilation will also be saved.

Our scientists, in partnership with many universities and non-profits, are using the best tools available to advance our American chestnut breeding program. We are using cutting edge technologies to develop genetic makers for blight resistance, hypo virulence strategies, and advance screening techniques for ink disease. Only through science can we successfully restore this iconic species.”

by Betsy Gamber, Interim President and CEO

Kim Steiner, Ph.D Chairman of the Board of Directors

Read more about GE Chestnut work here.

We know that the ultimate achievements of these programs  will further institutionalize the commodficiation of forests and forest products turning more of our unprotected natural resources into short term profits for industry that considers the environment an externality. We want you to know this as well. Read more about GE Trees and the STOP GE Trees Campaign

We intend to stop this and we need your help. In the coming weeks and months we will be posting here at Climate Connections, educational posts and maybe an occasional fundraising appeal to support our work. We will work to keep ourselves, our partners, and our readers educated and informed on these critical forest and ecosystem issues.

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Filed under Biodiversity, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, GMOs, Great Lakes, Greenwashing, Pollution, Synthetic Biology, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

“Too much ice is really bad for polar bears”: Give yourself a real scare with this great video of Koch-financed disinformation

Jeff Parker political cartoon.

Jeff Parker political cartoon.

Brendan DeMelle of DeSmogBlog drew my attention to this great video by Brave New Films. He wrote:

The Koch brothers have spent far more than even ExxonMobil to spread doubt and misinformation about the 97% scientific consensus on climate changein recent years—over $67 million on climate denial, in fact. Out of 13,950 peer-reviewed scientific journals, only 24 reject global warming. But the Kochs and the extensive, well-funded network of front groups and media echo chambers would prefer that we ignore our responsibility [...] so that the Koch brothers and their friends can continue to profit from pollution-based enterprises.

The video does a great job tying the seemingly crazy climate change denial given space in mainstream media with very specific organizations funded by the Koch brothers. There’s even a little Exorcist-like music for this Halloween.

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Filed under Climate Change, Media

Seneca Lake NY Natural Gas Storage Blockade Continues

10 people were arrested Wednesday at the continuing blockade at the gates of the Crestwood compressor station on the shores of Seneca Lake, New York’s largest Finger Lake.

Led by anti-fracking activist Sandra Steingraber, over 400 people have participated in the blockade since it began earlier this month after the Federal Energy Regulartory Commission (FERC) approved the former salt mine cavern located beneath the lake as a compressed natural gas storage facility.

All of the individuals arrested yesterday were released and face a court hearing on November 5.

More than two dozen people put their bodies on the line today in a last-resort protest to stop a major gas storage expansion project on the shore of Seneca Lake, the largest of New York’s Finger Lakes. Photo credit: wearesenecalake.com

More than two dozen people put their bodies on the line today in a last-resort protest to stop a major gas storage expansion project on the shore of Seneca Lake, the largest of New York’s Finger Lakes. Photo credit: wearesenecalake.com

Blockade of Seneca Lake Crestwood Gas Storage Facility Continues

Human blockade peacefully opposes recent FERC decision allowing expansion of CNG storage in geologically unstable salt caverns.

ITHACA, N.Y., Oct. 28, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — We Are Seneca Lake, comprised of residents of the Finger Lakes, peacefully demonstrate their determined opposition by continuing to blockade the gates of the Crestwood compressor station on the shore of Seneca Lake, the largest of New York’s Finger Lakes. The methane gas storage expansion project is advancing in the face of unparalleled public opposition and unresolved questions about geological instabilities, fault lines, and possible salinization of the lake, which serves as a source of drinking water for 100,000 people. Inexplicably, a Capital New York investigation just revealed that Governor Cuomo’s DEC excised references to the risks of underground gas storage from a 2011 federal report on methane contamination of drinking water, and has allowed key data to remain hidden.

“Dangerous gas storage in the Crestwood salt caverns is incompatible with the rapid growth of our wine and tourism industries.” Lou Damiani, Damiani Vineyards

“Seneca Lake is a source of economic prosperity for the entire region, not a gas station for fracking operations. It’s a place for tourists, wineries, farms and families. Speaking with our bodies in an act of civil disobedience is a measure of last recourse to protect our home, our water, and our local economy – with our bodies and our voices, telling Texas-based Crestwood to go home!” Sandra Steingraber, PhD, Heinz Award Recipient, biologist, author.

“Crestwood’s business model for this region is flawed. A billion dollar wine and tourism industry fuels thousands of sustainable jobs here in the Finger Lakes. This dangerous operation threatens all of that and more.” Chris Tate, BME, Finger Lakes CleanWaters Initiative.

Find more information here.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Justice, Energy, Fracking, Human made disasters, Water

Dr Blessing Karumbidza, more land grabbed in Africa than rest of the world combined

Photo of Conference from its Facebook page.

Photo of First Africa Conference on Land Grabs from its Facebook page.

Dr. Blessing Karumbidza, a member of GJEP’s New Voices Speakers Bureau, presented at the First Africa Conference on Land Grabs, held this week in Johannesburg. He reported to the conference that more land has been grabbed in Africa in the 21st century than in the rest of the world combined–a startling 55 million hectares of land between 2000 and 2012.

CCTV Africa covered the story:

SAPA, the South African Press Association, also ran a story picked up widely by South African media.

More land ‘grabbed’ in Africa than rest of the world combined

Sapa, Times LIVE, 29 October 2014

Over 55 million hectares of land in Africa have been “grabbed” since 2000, according to research presented at a conference.

More land had been “grabbed” in Africa between 2000 and 2012 than in the rest of the world combined, Dr Blessing Karumbidza, senior research associate at the Durban University of Technology, told the Africa land Grab conference in Midrand.

See the whole story here.

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Filed under Africa, Land Grabs, New Voices Speakers Bureau

Ebola and Palm Oil

An enormous oil palm plantation cut from the Liberian rainforest. Photo: Chulius Caesar via Flickr.

An enormous oil palm plantation cut from the Liberian rainforest. Photo: Chulius Caesar via Flickr.

The real drivers of Ebola in West Africa–poverty and oil palm

A new article in the Ecologist links the underlying causes of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to the “explosive spread of industrial oil palm, which disrupts the ecology of forests and farms.”

Oil Palm Explosion driving West Africa’s Eboloa outbreak

By Richard Kock. Ecologist. 29 October 2014

The medical response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been monstrously inadequate, writes Richard Kock. But so has been recognition of the underlying causes – in particular the explosive spread of industrial oil palm, which disrupts the ecology of forests and farms, and undermines local economy and traditional governance, leading to a ‘perfect storm’ of disease.

The growing Ebola virus outbreak not only highlights the tragedy enveloping the areas most affected but also offers a commentary on they way in which the political ecology in West Africa has allowed this disease to become established.

Read the whole article here.

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Filed under Africa, Biofuelwatch, Forests, Palm Oil

12 Flood Wall Street protestors use “necessity defense” plea

Twelve of the more than 100 protestors arrested during the Sept. 22 “Flood Wall Street” demonstration have pled “not guilty” citing “necessity defense.” In a post on Earth First Journal, the protestors might find success using the plea because, their lawyer argues, that the climate crisis is such a serious issue that the defendants’ “action was a necessity for them to sit down to bring attention to the problem.”

Photo: Earth First Journal

Photo: Earth First Journal

Flood Wall Street Protesters Plead Not Guilty, Assert “Necessity Defense”

by James Woods, DC Media Group, 29 october 2014

Last month, more than 400,000 people took to the streets of New York City to protest against the global systems which continue to contribute to accelerated climate change in the mad dash to increase profits. Billed as the largest climate rally in the history of the world, the “People’s Climate March” was largely ignored by the mainstream media after filling Manhattan with activists and celebrities trying to garner attention to their cause.

The following Monday, a much smaller group numbering in the thousands stormed through the Financial District en route to Wall Street and staged a “sit-in” large enough to wreak havoc on traffic and commerce in the area for the entire day. As a result, the “Flood Wall Street” action received more press coverage than the previous day and more than 100 protesters (including a large polar bear) were arrested for failing to disperse after being confronted by the NYPD.

Read the full article here.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, False Solutions to Climate Change, Law

Update: 64 Arrested at VT Governor’s Office, Demanding End to Pipeline

Image on Aljazeera story, taken from 350 Vermont Twitter feed.

Image on Aljazeera story, taken from 350 Vermont Twitter feed.

Montpelier, Vt. – Sixty-four people were arrested last night, after occupying Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin’s office for over six hours, demanding a ban on new fossil fuel infrastructure and that the governor stop supporting a fracked gas pipeline in the western part of the state.

Half the group occupied the governor’s office, while the other half stayed in the main lobby of the building.  500 people attended a rally outside of the building, supporting the sit-in.

“We are fed up with a broken, unaccountable, and biased process that is ignoring the clear and present danger of expanding fossil fuel infrastructure so that Gaz Metro and International Paper can increase their profit margins,” said Jane Palmer, a landowner in Monkton along the Phase 1 pipeline route. “The Shumlin administration is ignoring the thousands of Vermonters, including impacted landowners and over 500 ratepayers, who know we can’t afford this project.”

Demonstrators from across the state are concerned that the Shumlin administration, including the Public Service Department, are promoting dirty fracked gas as a climate solution, despite the well known climate impacts of extracting and burning fracked gas.

Dr. Maeve McBride, coordinator of 350 Vermont, said, “Today, hundreds of grassroots Vermonters are sitting in to call for a ban on new fossil fuel infrastructure, including Vermont Gas/Gaz-Metro’s proposed fracked gas pipeline, and to demand energy and climate solutions that are transparent, accountable to our communities and put people and the planet first.  As the Governor said himself, these solutions need to come from the grassroots, not from the top down.”  McBride was among those arrested.

Supporting arguments made before the Public Service Board over the past two years, the demonstration focused on how, despite industry rhetoric, fracked gas may actually be worse for the climate than other fossil fuels.

“The science is clear – whether the goal is avoiding CO2 emissions or sparking a transition to an emissions-free energy system, the fracked gas boom and this pipeline are no substitute for ambitious energy and climate policies, weatherization, efficiency and decreased consumption,” said Dr. Rachel Smolker, a Hinesburg resident. “Once the gas bubble pops, ratepayers are going to be stuck with higher bills, paying the cost of this pipeline for years to come and still struggling to heat their homes.”

After police issued a final dispersal order, sixty-four people stayed in the building. All were removed from the building by Vermont State Police, and cited with criminal trespassing.

The coalition planning the event is also calling for a blockade at the Vermont Gas Pipeyard in Williston, Vt., this coming Saturday at 9 am.

Other Media

Aljazeera covered the event, including great photos reposted from Twitter.

Margaret Prescod will interview Dr. Maeve McBride on tomorrow’s Earth Watch Segment, which is coordinated by GJEP in partnership with KPFK’s Sojourner Truth show with Margaret Prescod.

Maeve was one of the organizers and media spokespeople for Oct 27th occupation and sit-in of Vermont Governor Shumlin’s Office. Maeve was one of the 64 protesters arrested yesterday at the governor’s office opposing the fracked gas pipeline project and the build out of new fossil fuel infrastructure.

 

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Filed under Actions / Protest, KPFK, Media, Pipeline

French anti-dam protester killed by police grenade

Another example of the misnomer of “less-than-lethal” weapons like concussion grenades. They may be less lethal, but still can be quite deadly, as this case in France shows.

TNT traces in slain France activist case

Press TV, 28 Oct  2014.

An investigation into the cause of the death of a French activist killed in clashes with the police has yielded traces of TNT used in police grenades.

Sending shockwaves throughout the country, the 21-year-old victim, Remi Fraisse, was killed on Sunday as security forces clashed with people protesting against a controversial dam project in the southwestern Tarn region.

To read the whole story and watch the Press TV story about this, click here.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Hydroelectric dams, Political Repression