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Our Daily Planet: Consider giving on #GivingTuesday, Climate not an issue in MS runoff and Songs for the Saints.
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 Giving Tuesday

It’s #GivingTuesday And The Planet Needs You!

As you contemplate the perfect gift of a donation, please consider giving to an environmental organization or two.  There are so many great ones!  But we do recommend the following organizations who are doing fantastic work and have helped us get started this year: the Pristine Seas Project at the National Geographic Society,  Oceana, World Central KitchenFood Rescue US, the National Wildlife Federation, and the National Ocean Protection Coalition.  

 Politics

Climate Change/Environment Not A Factor in Mississippi Runoff 


Despite the fact that the #BlackFridayReport points to impacts in Mississippi caused by climate change, the Mississippi Clarion Ledger reported yesterday that both candidates in the Senate runoff election have been mum on climate change in the final days of the campaign.  The #BlackFridayReport points to impacts on farmers in the state due to drought, plus more severe storms, flooded coastal areas and sea level rise as just a few of the impact that can be expected.  According to the Report, in rural areas of the Southeastern U.S. “[c]hanging winter temperature extremes, wildfire patterns, sea levels, hurricanes, floods, droughts, and warming ocean temperatures are expected to redistribute species and greatly modify ecosystems. As a result, the ecological resources that people depend on for livelihood, protection, and well-being are increasingly at risk, and future generations can expect to experience and interact with natural systems that are much different than those that we see today.”
 

According to the Clarion Ledger, incumbent U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Republican who fervently supports the policies of the Trump Administration and the President, “has repeatedly expressed doubt about climate change.” The Democratic candidate, Mike Espy, has focused his campaign on health care.  Neither one mentions climate change or environmental issues on their websites. Polls taken in the state by National Public Radio and PBS NewsHour found that only 7 percent of respondents said climate change was the most important factor in deciding how they would vote, while the economy and jobs were at the top of the list at 20 percent, followed by health care, at 17 percent.

Why This Matters:  Clearly there is a disconnect when voters of a climate vulnerable state like Mississippi do not understand that their economic future and their health and safety are put at huge risk by climate change.  And those risks are present today, not in the distant future, as the #BlackFridayReport makes painfully clear.   We have to find more ODP Readers in Mississippi.  Can you help us?  Do you know someone in Mississippi who would like to receive Our Daily Planet?  Forward it to them or sign them up!

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 Water and Climate Change

Water Impacts:  The #BlackFridayReport on Climate Change

In its own words:  Summary Conclusion — The quality and quantity of water available for use by people and ecosystems across the country are being affected by climate change, increasing risks and costs to agriculture, energy production, industry, recreation, and the environment.
  • Rising air and water temperatures and changes in precipitation are intensifying droughts, increasing heavy downpours, reducing snowpack and causing declines in surface water quality, with varying impacts across regions.
  • Future warming will add to the stress on water supplies and adversely impact the availability of water in parts of the United States.
  • Changes in the relative amounts and timing of snow and rainfall are leading to mismatches between water availability and needs in some regions, posing threats to, for example, the future reliability of hydropower production in the Southwest and the Northwest.
  • Groundwater depletion is exacerbating drought risk in many parts of the United States, particularly in the Southwest and Southern Great Plains.
  • Dependable and safe water supplies for U.S. Caribbean, Hawai‘i, and U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Island communities are threatened by drought, flooding, and saltwater contamination due to sea level rise.
  • Capital improvement needs for public water systems (which provide safe drinking water) have been estimated at $384 billion for projects necessary from 2011 through 2030.
Why This Matters:  To state the obvious, we need water to sustain our quality of life.  Countries that do not have access to clean water for drinking, growing food, and for key industries such as power production and tourism, are less healthy, productive and prosperous.  While we cannot increase the amount of water we have, we can, through better water management and greater efficiency and improving our water infrastructure, make our supply go farther, mitigate these impacts and reduce our water risks.  But we need to start now.  This is not a problem that we will confront in the decades to come — it is one we face today in every region of the country. The report cites some good examples of how to better prepare — the cities of Denver, New York and Tampa have all taken pro-active steps.  And there are ongoing efforts to improve shared water supplies with our neighbors in Canada and Mexico.  
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 Land

Looking out over the destroyed Bitter End yacht club and hotel in Virgin Gorda, BVI. 
Virgin Island Hurricane Recovery Continues 

I (Miro) got the incredible opportunity to spend last week on vacation with my family in the British Virgin Islands. Throughout the years we’ve paid many visits to these special islands but this was my first time back since hurricanes Irma and Maria left them devastated last year. It was striking to me how unevenly the damage was spread out, some buildings were completely ripped apart while others just next door were spared. As the New York Times reported, the storms also destroyed 70 percent of homes on the islands, which have a population of about 30,000. This destruction also crippled the tourism sector as just about every hotel and marina was severely damaged. Tourism accounts for about 35 percent of the economy and one in three jobs here. Overall the British Virgin Islands suffered more than $3.6 billion in damages, or almost four times its gross domestic product. You can see from my photo above how vegetation on the island of Virgin Gorda is still recovering and how sparse it is in parts (for reference this is how lush it used to be). A very popular marina and hotel at the Bitter End is completely wiped out and it was devastating to see the ruins left of the once bustling landmark. 

Why This Matters: The British government (much like our own) is almost entirely unprepared for hurricanes in the Caribbean and the increase in their intensity and frequency as a result of climate change. The residents of the Virgin Islands feel largely forgotten and have had to fend for themselves in their recovery efforts. Their heart and dedication is truly remarkable despite all the suffering they continue to endure. They’ve rebuilt the tourism industry and continue each day to accommodate visitors like my family. However, the people who live in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico know that they’re on the forefront of climate change and that last year’s hurricanes will become the norm. It’s completely negligent that the President of the United States still continues to deny climate change as by doing so he is denying the suffering of millions of people. 

Go Deeper: Country artist Kenny Chesney’s latest album Songs for the Saints was inspired by rebuilding after Irma and all proceeds from the sales are going to hurricane recovery efforts. If you’re a music lover consider purchasing a copy! Additionally, if you can spare a few dollars Chesney’s relief fund Love for Love City is working with local charities to purchase supplies and sustain relief efforts. 
If you get a chance, visit The Baths in Virgin Gorda BVI. They’re a geological wonder of giant granite boulders that form a series of natural grottos and sheltered pools. Truly breathtaking! 
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 Energy

Yellow Vest Protesters on the Champs-Elysées  Photo: AFP
Gas Tax Hike Fuels Anti-Government Protests in France
By Cate Calogero

Last weekend the yellow vest or “gilets jaunesprotests in France intensified. More than 8,000 protestors took to the Champs-Elysées to express their discontent with French President Emmanuel Macron’ who implemented taxes that raised gas prices. Police used tear gas and water hoses against the protesters, causing President Macron to argue that the “battle scenes” would hurt tourism.  The protests in Paris were echoed throughout France with a total of 106,000 “gilets jaunes” protesters blocking major roadways throughout the country. The political movement of French citizens wearing fluorescent yellow vests originated from widespread discontent with surging gas prices.

French citizens are required to keep one of these yellow vests in their car in case of an emergency, but now they have become a national symbol of unrest and opposition to the pro-business elites in France. French fuel prices have been rising rapidly since Macron’s election as a result of his administration’s environmental goals. Macron has pledged to reduce France’s use of fossil fuels and began taxing petrol as a way to discourage the French from using cars. However, the French citizens see it as an attack against the poorest in the country, since the majority of French drivers are members of the working class. The protests have been going on for more than a week now and the movement has gained support from far-right leaders such as Marine Le PenPresident Trump used the protests to complain about the European Union’s treatment of the U.S., thus (pardon the pun) pouring more gas on the protestors’ fire.  
 
Why This Matters: This is not good news for the Paris agreement or the symbolic place at the center of the climate movement.  The second round of protests this past weekend turned more violent and also shut down one of the major tourist centers of Paris, symbolizing the traction that the “gilets jaunes” movement has gained in France. While the movement is protesting rising fuel taxes, those price increases are the direct result of Macron’s environmental strategy to decrease French fossil-fuel dependence. If this is how the French react to higher fuel taxes, how will the French President implement climate change policies in the future? These protests come just as the British exit the European Union, and further undermine the unified front in Europe to tackle climate change.  
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 Animals   

Getting the Lead Out of Hunting

Over the weekend, The New York Times reported that increasingly hunters are switching from traditional lead bullets to copper ones because of increasing evidence that lead bullets are poisoning the wildlife that feeds on carcasses and polluting the game meat that many people consume.  According to The Times, more than 30 states regulate the use of lead ammunition and some like Oregon and California even ban its use in certain areas.  In addition, state wildlife agencies across the country are working hard to encourage hunters to switch to other types of ammunition by doing things like giving away non-lead bullets, as they do in Arizona, and holding clinics to educate hunters about the benefits of non-lead shot. 

The Humane Society claims that between 10 million and 20 million animals, including eagles, hawks, bears, vultures, ravens, and coyotes, die each year due to lead poisoning rather than at the hands of the hunters themselves.  In addition, The Times reports that “95 percent of the 10 billion to 13 billion rounds of ammunition purchased every year in the United States contain lead, which primarily comes from recycled car batteries, according to industry estimates.”  The Obama Administration on its last day banned the use of lead ammunition on federal lands, but Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke reversed the ban as his first official act in office.

Why This Matters:  Hunters are still reluctant to switch, apparently believing that changing ammunition is part of gun control movement’s efforts to limit gun rights or simply because they have stockpiled leaded ammunition that they don’t want to replace. Lead ammunition breaks apart in ways that make it more likely to contaminate the animals that are killed with it.  It seems like common sense that those who want to eat what they kill would see this move away from lead as a good thing.  Lead is toxic, which is why we have removed it from paint, gas, and pipes.  It would certainly be better for all the other animals in the woods who are exposed to it.  

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 People

Stephen Colbert’s Holiday Spectacular and New Children’s Book
Colbert “Children’s” Book/Cartoon Proceeds Benefit Hurricane Victims

‘Tis the Season for holiday TV specials and trying to find the perfect gift for that hard to buy for person in your life.  No worries.  Stephen Colbert has you covered.  He and his staff have penned a new “children’s” book entitled “Whose Boat Is This Boat” spoofing President Trump in his own words, that purports to explain how to show empathy to the victims of the recent hurricanes.  All the proceeds from the sale of the book will go to hurricane relief charities, including one of our personal favorites, World Central Kitchen. To boost book sales, the Colbert Show turned it into an animated  “holiday special” that can also be purchased on iTunes to benefit the same charities.   The book is climbing to the top of The New York Times hardcover books bestseller list in Washington, DC!
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