Arquivo da tag: Nova York

Gangbusters: How the Upsurge in Anti-Gang Tactics Will Hurt Communities of Color (Truthout)

Tuesday, 19 January 2016 00:00 By Josmar Trujillo, Truthout | News Analysis 

Shanice Farrar wants to honor her son and stop violence in her neighborhood. (Photo: Lyssy Pastrana)Bronx activist Shanice Farrar wants to honor her son, who was killed by police, and stop violence in her neighborhood. (Photo: Lyssy Pastrana)

Dozens of alleged gang members were arrested in December when police raids swept through public housing developments in the Bronx, following similar raids in September and July of 2015. A December multipart Daily News special investigation, packaged behind a “Gangs of New York” front-page cover, reported on the prevalence of gangs throughout New York City, even publishing a map detailing alleged “ganglands.” New York City Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Bill Bratton, in an op-ed published in the same edition, called the gang activity “violence for its own sake.”

As arrests and indictments pile up to form a media narrative of senseless violence and seemingly irredeemable youth, there are public housing and criminal justice reform advocates who want a different approach. They say that poverty is the underlying root cause of violence – one that cops and gang raids cannot solve.

Shanice Farrar, 42, is the mother of Shaaliver Douse, a teenager killed by cops in 2013 while, police say, he was chasing and shooting at another young man. Farrar is a single mother who has worked as a fire guard (someone who patrols areas lacking functioning fire protection systems) for almost eight years, at times working in the same Bronx public housing development, the Morris Houses, where she and her son lived. She always had dual concerns for Shaalie, as his friends called him: the neighborhood violence and the police who harassed him. She vividly remembers the night he didn’t come home. After calling and texting Shaalie’s phone all night, Farrar woke up on the morning of August 4, 2013, to the sounds of cops banging on her door. NYPD detectives told Farrar that her son had been killed in a shoot-out with police. They said Shaalie was shot in the face after ignoring orders to drop a gun.

Ray Kelly, the NYPD police commissioner at the time, said that Shaalie’s death was justified. Police said they had surveillance footage of him running with a gun. But footage released by the NYPD is incomplete. Images show a young man in a white shirt, purportedly Shaalie, chasing someone around a corner on 151st Street in the Melrose section of the Bronx. The confrontation with cops, where police claim he was told to drop the gun, isn’t seen. Farrar says she’s been denied access to other video angles, as well as the names of the rookie cops who shot her son.

Shaalie’s name and reputation were scrutinized immediately following his death. The newspapers’ presentation of his past arrests as an affirmation of his criminality weren’t fair to him or his family, Farrar says. The New York Daily News described Shaalie as a young man with a “growing rap sheet” and a follow-up story used unnamed sources to claim that Shaalie was, in fact, in a gang. Criminal charges her son was facing were bogus, Farrar insists. In 2012, Shaalie, then 13, was charged with attempted murder. Shaalie told his mom that he’d in fact been robbed at gunpoint by some boys from another housing complex. When cops showed up, everyone ran. Cops caught Shaalie, who didn’t want to cooperate. They told him that if he didn’t tell them whose gun it was, they’d pin the gun, which they found abandoned in some nearby grass, on him. Attempted murder charges were dropped to weapons possession charges when witnesses recanted. After several court dates, the judge in the case suggested that the whole case would soon be thrown out, Farrar says.

New York’s Turn Toward Gang Conspiracy Charges

Building criminal cases and indicting young men with gang conspiracy charges is quickly becoming a favored law enforcement approach in New York – one that’s getting more sophisticated. The NYPD and some of the city’s top prosecutors are targeting mostly young men, usually those living in public housing, with a blend of modern surveillance and conspiracy charges developed in the 1970s to take down the mafia. Raids are usually the final leg of the NYPD’s Operation Crew Cut, a police tactic that targets “crews” – a looser grouping of young people often compared to gangs – by building criminal cases often off of what is obtained from their online activity. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office has been involved in gang raids in East Harlem, indicting 63 men in 2013, and West Harlem, indicting 103 in 2014 – the city’s largest raid ever. Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson launched several smaller raids in the Bronx in 2015.

If attempts to get young people to turn away from violence can be described as either carrot or stick approaches, then Operation Ceasefire, a law enforcement initiative based largely on the work of John Jay College’s David Kennedy, is said to offer some carrots. With the help of Susan Herman, a former Pace University professor turned NYPD deputy commissioner, Kennedy’s ideas have gained traction at the police department under Bratton. Herman’s husband, John Jay College president Jeremy Travis, works with Kennedy and used to work for Bratton in the 1990s. With a nearly $5 million grant from the Department of Justice and early influence on the president’s national police reform agenda, Kennedy is one of the most in-demand criminal justice minds in the country.

Like Crew Cut, Ceasefire focuses on a small amount of alleged perpetrators, said to be responsible for a large portion of shootings and murders. This so-called “focused-deterrence” strategy also claims to offer pathways away from violence for suspected perpetrators as cops and community figures partner to dissuade young people from violence. A similar NYPD program focused on robberies, the Juvenile Robbery Intervention Program (J-RIP), has, even by police accounts, shown no effect. The Ceasefire model, perhaps, can differ from city to city. In New York, the chief of department sat down with alleged gang members, mandated to attend through parole agreements, to eat pizza and inform them that they’re being watched. In other cases, cops simply keep close tabs on who they say are the city’s most likely killers, busting them for small infractions like jaywalking. In the 12 precincts where Ceasefire is being formally implemented, shootings are down, but murders are up.

While Ceasefire ostensibly offers a multilayer approach, described by Bratton as a mix between “intensive enforcement” and “genuine offers of assistance,” there is a clear emphasis on the enforcement side as police efforts “pretty much hang a sword over (gang members’) heads.”

“Look, if you or your gang is involved in violent activities then we’re all going to come after you. It’s not just going to be local authorities but the feds and we’ll try to get you every which way we can,” Bratton warned. “When we get them convicted, we get them shipped off to federal prisons so they’re not going to be able to hang out with all their buddies up in the state prisons.”

Criticisms of the Ceasefire Approach to Policing

Alex Vitale, an associate professor of sociology at Brooklyn College, says that some of the city’s efforts to fight violence seem “contradictory” and make little sense. “On the one hand, we’ve seen small increases in the amount of money being devoted to community-based violence reduction efforts in the form of peer violence interrupters and increased services for high-risk youth,” he told Truthout. “On the other hand, the city has invested heavily in new policing strategies that rely on intensive punitive enforcement measures targeting these same populations of young people.” Vitale believes that the law enforcement approach can “actually disrupt the efforts of community-based groups to encourage young people off the streets and into school and employment.”

Programs like Crew Cut and Ceasefire “rely on threats and punishment” and often “run counter to the efforts to reduce youth crime,” Vitale said. He thinks violence intervention work and community-based peer violence mediation offer much more promising alternatives without hinging on police raids or lengthy prison sentences. “Intensive policing undermines those efforts and destabilizes the relationships they are building with these young people,” he added. Wraparound social services, and not gang raids, should be the focus, Vitale says, because poor communities “need more access to real resources that can provide these young people real avenues out of poverty and despair.”

Shaaliver Douce was killed a few yards from his high school. (Photo: Lyssy Pastrana)Shaaliver Douce was killed a few yards from his high school. (Photo: Lyssy Pastrana)

Lessons From New Orleans

Ethan Brown is a licensed investigator in Louisiana. He works on the defense side of drug cases in New Orleans and moved there from New York in 2007. Brown is a critic of Ceasefire and of Kennedy, whom he describes as “this generation’s George Kelling” (a prominent criminologist who is credited with developing the “broken windows” theory of policing). Brown says New Orleans’ supposed success with its own Ceasefire-style efforts, which it launched in 2012, isn’t necessarily backed up by the numbers. Post-Katrina New Orleans has been the murder capital of the United States almost every year. It had the highest murder rate for a US city every year between 2000 and 2011, except for 2005. Brown says that despite dedicating tremendous police resources to fight violence, the city has only seen a modest reduction in the murder rate.

New Orleans offers an interesting test case, since the city has also employed a historically abusive police force – creating a barrier between police and the community with which they’re supposed to collaborate. In 2012, the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) was placed under a federal consent decree after authorities described the police there as “lawless.” Federal investigations had gone back to the 1990s, but the monitoring program was an overt acknowledgement that the department could not reform itself.

The stories were the stuff of nightmares. Henry Glover was killed by cops in 2005, a few days after Hurricane Katrina struck. His body was found shot and burned inside a car, the fire used as a cover-up by police officers. The infamous Danziger Bridge incident, where NOPD cops shot six people, killing two, and lied that they had been shot at, invited national outrage. There was also the tale of Melvin “Flattop” Williams, the infamously aggressive Black cop ultimately convicted of killing an unarmed man in 2012, fracturing his ribs and rupturing his spleen.

In 2010, a new mayor, Democrat Mitch Landrieu, became the first white mayor of New Orleans since 1978, when Moon Landrieu, his father, ran the city. Landrieu’s administration brought with it promises of police reform and a new police chief, Ronal Serpas. While Serpas was expected to deal with the controversial misconduct and killings at the NOPD, he instead sought to tackle the murder rate. In 2012, he and Landrieu brought in Kennedy to help form “NOLA for Life,” an anti-violence initiative built largely on the Ceasefire model. Reductions in the murder rate seemed promising, falling in 2013 and 2014. However, the murder rate rose again in 2015. And, in fact, murders had already begun to fall from 2011 to 2012, before NOLA for Life. Other cities, like Los Angeles, have seen similarly mixed results. Boston, where Ceasefire originated, initially had big drops in murders, but saw those numbers climb again as the model proved unsustainable.

While NOLA for Life promotes an inspiring array of “carrots,” like job postings and mentoring, the law enforcement “stick” was more like a “bazooka” in New Orleans, according to Brown. “Since 2012, there’ve been an extraordinary number of gang indictments. The sentences that people face are immense, like ones you’d give to drug cartels,” he told Truthout. Brown also thinks that police and prosecutors are casting too wide a net when gangs are targeted.

“The notion of a ‘crew’ or ‘gang’ affiliation is spread so wide, the definition becomes completely elastic,” he said. In this regard, Brown sees business as usual. “[Ceasefire] is presented as some radically new law enforcement approach … but actually, particularly at the federal level, these things have been going on for decades,” he said. And the “carrot” side of the equation? “The cure is unspecified social services that no one has been able to figure out.”

More Sticks Than Carrots

A 2007 Justice Policy Institute report by Judith Greene and Kevin Pranis found not only that the Ceasefire model failed to deliver on some of its violence-reducing claims, but also that the “carrot” side of the model “always lagged behind the suppression side,” or the “stick.” Greene and Pranis criticized the broader gang enforcement tactics that operate on the suppression end as “ineffectual, if not counterproductive.” Specifically, the report points to efforts of police to intensely target gang “leaders” as problematic because destabilizing gangs, which can produce new leaders, can also risk more violence.

Resources spent on gang suppression include money spent on arrests, prosecutions and jail terms. Neighborhood costs include young people being carted off to jail for things they may or may not have done, or simply said they might do, and serving long sentences in prisons – where gangs thrive – only to come home in as bleak a situation as they went in. More importantly, however, is that the police-community partnership narrative that Ceasefire promotes hinges on a questionable equivalency of power between police and community, which can affect how resources are divvied up. Public and private funding made available for social services, or “carrots,” will likely go to groups with established, deferential relationships with law enforcement. In other words, law enforcement is always in control.

Benny, 31, grew up in the Morris Houses in the Bronx. He says the hunt for gangs is unfair to people who live in the community and grow up together, especially young men. “Black lives do matter. When you grow up in a neighborhood like this, they judge you. You see this group right here,” he said, pointing to a group of men and women hanging out on nearby benches. “They’ll consider this like gang activity, even though all we did was grow up together. Next thing you know they’ll be hitting you with conspiracy [charges].” On an unusually warm Friday afternoon in December, people are sitting around on park benches. People of all ages, from teenage boys to older women pushing shopping carts, stop to talk and laugh.

“They’re taking my friends and they’re not helping,” a young woman named Daisy said about police. Daisy, 19, was Shaalie’s friend. She mourned not only Shaalie’s death, but also that of Jujuan Carson, a 19-year-old friend of hers and Shaalie’s who was just killed in November 2015. “They still haven’t found the person who killed Jujuan, but yet they indicted his friends the day before his funeral,” she said angrily. Daisy says she doesn’t trust police. “Whatever comes out of their mouths are lies.”

Jumping to Conclusions About Gang Activity

The Morris Houses stretch down the east side of the Metro North railroad, which runs along Park Avenue, separating them from the Butler and Morris senior houses on the other side. The New York Daily News’ gang map lists “Washside” as an active gang based in the Morris Houses. Farrar objects to that label. “Washside” is the name some Morris kids identify with, but isn’t an actual gang, she says. While she doesn’t deny gun violence, she vividly remembers how her son was characterized as a gang member for all sorts of reasons. If he posted a picture of himself pointing to a new pair of sneakers or holding a new belt, people would say that those were gang hand signs. “Shaalie’s World,” the words on shirts and sweaters Farrar made after Shaalie’s death, is now rumored to be a gang.

Shaalie’s friends often make tributes to him in songs and on social media. Farrar worries that law enforcement may be deliberately conflating a song, tweet or Instagram post with a sign of gang activity. Amateur music videos that mention Shaalie or refer to “Washside” are probably being collected as cops and prosecutors build cases on more young men, she suspects. In 2015, a Brooklyn man was sentenced to 12 life sentences for a string of murders after prosecutors used rap lyrics of songs he posted on YouTube against him.

“I feel it’s like a cycle. That’s how I feel. It’s like this shit is designed for you to either end up dead or in jail,” Benny said as he tested out his new remote-controlled helicopter. “Right now, my little brother got 10 years for conspiracy,” he said. “It’s guilt by association, who you hang with.” Benny knows police are surveilling them, using all of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and NYPD cameras posted around the neighborhood. “I could be chillin’ with you, you makin’ money, but you been my man since we was kids, and now they taking pictures of us. Let me walk out here with a hoodie tonight and watch me get stopped five times.” Farrar quickly jumps in to recall how Shaalie started wearing hoodies after the death of Trayvon Martin, the Florida boy killed by a neighborhood vigilante. “They really killed him because he was wearing a hoodie, ma?” she recalled him asking.

The Morris Houses are the targets of national gang enforcement trend. (Photo: Lyssy Pastrana)The Morris Houses are the targets of a national gang enforcement trend. (Photo: Lyssy Pastrana)

Farrar, like many of her neighbors, is distrustful of the police and of these new efforts to target alleged gang members. Sitting at some park benches near her building on Washington Avenue, about a mile from where Shaalie died, she and her friends talk about the neighborhood and both the violence and poverty that plague it. For them, poverty is inextricable from the violence – which is something police can’t solve.

“The Kids Need Somewhere to Play”

While Farrar will be the first to agree that youth violence is a problem, the neighborhood’s antagonistic relationship with cops puts them between a rock and a hard place. It was the police, she says, who locked up the basketball courts for two months during the summer. She points at the fence, describing how people were forced to cut and crawl through openings just to play basketball. If cops locked up the courts to prevent violence, then they failed to do even that, some say. A man walks over and says closing the park “wasn’t the solution.” “Now you make it worse,” said the man, who didn’t want to be identified. “Now they got nothin’ to do. Now all they gon’ do is fight now.”

“The kids need somewhere to play,” said Dee, a 35-year-old trainer and boxer who used to train Shaalie. He wants the younger generation to come off of the street and stop fighting with each other, but he says they need resources. He recalls block parties when he was younger that have since become too few and far between. The city-funded health tables and community programming nowadays are directed at very young children and the elderly, not the teens and young adults most susceptible to violence. Worse yet is that programs are limited in scope and time: “They go from like 10 [am] to 12 [pm] and that’s it,” Dee said.

Ms. Betty is 58 and has raised three boys in the Morris Houses. “They’ve got nothing for them to do, that’s our problem. If they find something to do, maybe they’ll stop fighting each other,” she said. For her, the lack of fully functioning community centers contributes to the violence. “It doesn’t make sense. Families got to be crying over their kids and kids fighting for no reason.” While she feels that police are needed, she’s taken aback at the way cops crack down on many in the neighborhood just for hanging out around the buildings. “We just want to be out here like normal people,” she said. She recalls playgrounds inexplicably closed and benches removed from the front of buildings. Asked about the city’s efforts to lease some NYCHA property for private development, she says what the neighborhood needs is an expanded community center. “That don’t make no sense. And they know that.”

Once a basketball court, an empty lot sits in the Morris Houses development. (Photo: Lyssy Pastrana)

Once a basketball court, an empty lot sits in the Morris Houses development. (Photo: Lyssy Pastrana)

“I gave my son a lot of attention. But my son was the child of a single parent who felt his mother, you know, was struggling too hard,” Farrar told Truthout. Asked about the Black Lives Matter movement, Farrar is supportive of marches and protests in response to police killings, but she’s also painfully aware of the fact that many may not jump to stand behind her son’s life because of the questions around his case. Shaalie’s funeral was attended by Constance Malcolm and Frank Graham, the parents of Ramarley Graham, a young man fatally shot by cops who chased him into his grandmother’s house. However, few others in the anti-police brutality movement have made her pain their pain. Asked about the future of the movement, Farrar wants the scope to extend beyond cops. “I’d like Black Lives Matter to help the community come together, do things for kids, help stop the beefing,” Farrar said.

During a march that Farrar and her friends put together a few years back in memory of Shaalie, some of his friends began to chant “Fuck the police, RIP Shaalie” to the cops walking alongside. These were Shaalie’s friends, all from the surrounding buildings. Farrar pulled out her camera phone and kept watch of the cops as the march continued to the spot Shaalie died. The group, too large for the sidewalk, formed a big circle. A police car pulled up and a cop insisted the event clear out because it was blocking the road. Farrar told them they wouldn’t be going anywhere until they were done. They released white balloons into the sky and promised never to forget Shaalie’s name.

Josmar Trujillo is an activist and organizer with New Yorkers Against Bratton. Follow him on Twitter: @Josmar_Trujillo.

Anúncios

Climate Seer James Hansen Issues His Direst Forecast Yet (The Daily Beast) + other sources, and repercussions

A polar bear walks in the snow near the Hudson Bay waiting for the bay to freeze, 13 November 2007, outside Churchill, Mantioba, Canada. Polar bears return to Churchill, the polar bear capital of the world, to hunt for seals on the icepack every year at this time and remain on the icepack feeding on seals until the spring thaw.   AFP PHOTO/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

Paul J Richards/AFP/Getty

Mark Hertsgaard 

07.20.151:00 AM ET

James Hansen’s new study explodes conventional goals of climate diplomacy and warns of 10 feet of sea level rise before 2100. The good news is, we can fix it.

James Hansen, the former NASA scientist whose congressional testimony put global warming on the world’s agenda a quarter-century ago, is now warning that humanity could confront “sea level rise of several meters” before the end of the century unless greenhouse gas emissions are slashed much faster than currently contemplated.This roughly 10 feet of sea level rise—well beyond previous estimates—would render coastal cities such as New York, London, and Shanghai uninhabitable.  “Parts of [our coastal cities] would still be sticking above the water,” Hansen says, “but you couldn’t live there.”

James Hanson

Columbia University

This apocalyptic scenario illustrates why the goal of limiting temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius is not the safe “guardrail” most politicians and media coverage imply it is, argue Hansen and 16 colleagues in a blockbuster study they are publishing this week in the peer-reviewed journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. On the contrary, a 2 C future would be “highly dangerous.”

If Hansen is right—and he has been right, sooner, about the big issues in climate science longer than anyone—the implications are vast and profound.

Physically, Hansen’s findings mean that Earth’s ice is melting and its seas are rising much faster than expected. Other scientists have offered less extreme findings; the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has projected closer to 3 feet of sea level rise by the end of the century, an amount experts say will be difficult enough to cope with. (Three feet of sea level rise would put runways of all three New York City-area airports underwater unless protective barriers were erected. The same holds for airports in the San Francisco Bay Area.)

Worldwide, approximately $3 trillion worth infrastructure vital to civilization such as water treatment plants, power stations, and highways are located at or below 3 feet of sea level, according to the Stern Review, a comprehensive analysis published by the British government.

Hansen’s track record commands respect. From the time the soft-spoken Iowan told the U.S. Senate in 1988 that man-made global warming was no longer a theory but had in fact begun and threatened unparalleled disaster, he has consistently been ahead of the scientific curve.

Hansen has long suspected that computer models underestimated how sensitive Earth’s ice sheets were to rising temperatures. Indeed, the IPCC excluded ice sheet melt altogether from its calculations of sea level rise. For their study, Hansen and his colleagues combined ancient paleo-climate data with new satellite readings and an improved model of the climate system to demonstrate that ice sheets can melt at a “non-linear” rate: rather than an incremental melting as Earth’s poles inexorably warm, ice sheets might melt at exponential rates, shedding dangerous amounts of mass in a matter of decades, not millennia. In fact, current observations indicate that some ice sheets already are melting this rapidly.

“Prior to this paper I suspected that to be the case,” Hansen told The Daily Beast. “Now we have evidence to make that statement based on much more than suspicion.”

The Nature Climate Change study and Hansen’s new paper give credence to the many developing nations and climate justice advocates who have called for more ambitious action.

Politically, Hansen’s new projections amount to a huge headache for diplomats, activists, and anyone else hoping that a much-anticipated global climate summit the United Nations is convening in Paris in December will put the world on a safe path. President Barack Obama and other world leaders must now reckon with the possibility that the 2 degrees goal they affirmed at the Copenhagen summit in 2009 is actually a recipe for catastrophe. In effect, Hansen’s study explodes what has long been the goal of conventional climate diplomacy.

More troubling, honoring even the conventional 2 degrees C target has so far proven extremely challenging on political and economic grounds. Current emission trajectories put the world on track towards a staggering 4 degrees of warming before the end of the century, an amount almost certainly beyond civilization’s coping capacity. In preparation for the Paris summit, governments have begun announcing commitments to reduce emissions, but to date these commitments are falling well short of satisfying the 2 degrees goal. Now, factor in the possibility that even 2 degrees is too much and many negotiators may be tempted to throw up their hands in despair.

They shouldn’t. New climate science brings good news as well as bad.  Humanity can limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C if it so chooses, according to a little-noticed study by experts at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts (now perhaps the world’s foremost climate research center) and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis published in Nature Climate Change in May.

“Actions for returning global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100 are in many ways similar to those limiting warming to below 2 degrees Celsius,” said Joeri Rogelj, a lead author of the study. “However … emission reductions need to scale up swiftly in the next decades.” And there’s a significant catch: Even this relatively optimistic study concludes that it’s too late to prevent global temperature rising by 2 degrees C. But this overshoot of the 2 C target can be made temporary, the study argues; the total increase can be brought back down to 1.5 C later in the century.

Besides the faster emissions reductions Rogelj referenced, two additional tools are essential, the study outlines. Energy efficiency—shifting to less wasteful lighting, appliances, vehicles, building materials and the like—is already the cheapest, fastest way to reduce emissions. Improved efficiency has made great progress in recent years but will have to accelerate, especially in emerging economies such as China and India.

Also necessary will be breakthroughs in so-called “carbon negative” technologies. Call it the photosynthesis option: because plants inhale carbon dioxide and store it in their roots, stems, and leaves, one can remove carbon from the atmosphere by growing trees, planting cover crops, burying charred plant materials underground, and other kindred methods. In effect, carbon negative technologies can turn back the clock on global warming, making the aforementioned descent from the 2 C overshoot to the 1.5 C goal later in this century theoretically possible. Carbon-negative technologies thus far remain unproven at the scale needed, however; more research and deployment is required, according to the study.

Together, the Nature Climate Change study and Hansen’s new paper give credence to the many developing nations and climate justice advocates who have called for more ambitious action. The authors of the Nature Climate Changestudy point out that the 1.5 degrees goal “is supported by more than 100 countries worldwide, including those most vulnerable to climate change.” In May, the governments of 20 of those countries, including the Philippines, Costa Rica, Kenya, and Bangladesh, declared the 2 degrees target “inadequate” and called for governments to “reconsider” it in Paris.

Hansen too is confident that the world “could actually come in well under 2 degrees, if we make the price of fossil fuels honest.”

That means making the market price of gasoline and other products derived from fossil fuels reflect the enormous costs that burning those fuels currently externalizes onto society as a whole. Economists from left to right have advocated achieving this by putting a rising fee or tax on fossil fuels. This would give businesses, governments, and other consumers an incentive to shift to non-carbon fuels such as solar, wind, nuclear, and, best of all, increased energy efficiency. (The cheapest and cleanest fuel is the fuel you don’t burn in the first place.)

But putting a fee on fossil fuels will raise their price to consumers, threatening individual budgets and broader economic prospects, as opponents will surely point out. Nevertheless, higher prices for carbon-based fuels need not have injurious economic effects if the fees driving those higher prices are returned to the public to spend as it wishes. It’s been done that way for years with great success in Alaska, where all residents receive an annual check in compensation for the impact the Alaskan oil pipeline has on the state.

“Tax Pollution, Pay People” is the bumper sticker summary coined by activists at the Citizens Climate Lobby. Legislation to this effect has been introduced in both houses of the U.S. Congress.

Meanwhile, there are also a host of other reasons to believe it’s not too late to preserve a livable climate for young people and future generations.

The transition away from fossil fuels has begun and is gaining speed and legitimacy. In 2014, global greenhouse gas emissions remained flat even as the world economy grew—a first. There has been a spectacular boom in wind and solar energy, including in developing countries, as their prices plummet. These technologies now qualify as a “disruptive” economic force that promises further breakthroughs, said Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Programme.

Coal, the most carbon-intensive conventional fossil fuel, is in a death spiral, partly thanks to another piece of encouraging news: the historic climate agreement the U.S. and China reached last November, which envisions both nations slashing coal consumption (as China is already doing). Hammering another nail into coal’s coffin, the leaders of Great Britain’s three main political parties pledged to phase out coal, no matter who won the general elections last May.

“If you look at the long-term [for coal], it’s not getting any better,” said Standard & Poor’s Aneesh Prabhu when S&P downgraded coal company bonds to junk status. “It’s a secular decline,” not a mere cyclical downturn.

Last but not least, a vibrant mass movement has arisen to fight climate change, most visibly manifested when hundreds of thousands of people thronged the streets of New York City last September, demanding action from global leaders gathered at the UN. The rally was impressive enough that it led oil and gas giant ExxonMobil to increase its internal estimate of how likely the U.S. government is to take strong action. “That many people marching is clearly going to put pressure on government to do something,” an ExxonMobil spokesman told Bloomberg Businessweek.

The climate challenge has long amounted to a race between the imperatives of science and the contingencies of politics. With Hansen’s paper, the science has gotten harsher, even as the Nature Climate Change study affirms that humanity can still choose life, if it will. The question now is how the politics will respond—now, at Paris in December, and beyond.

Mark Hertsgaard has reported on politics, culture, and the environment from more than 20 countries and written six books, including “HOT: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth.”

*   *   *

Experts make dire prediction about sea levels (CBS)

VIDEO

In the future, there could be major flooding along every coast. So says a new study that warns the world’s seas are rising.

Ever-warming oceans that are melting polar ice could raise sea levels 15 feet in the next 50 to 100 years, NASA’s former climate chief now says. That’s five times higher than previous predictions.

“This is the biggest threat the planet faces,” said James Hansen, the co-author of the new journal article raising that alarm scenario.

“If we get sea level rise of several meters, all coastal cities become dysfunctional,” he said. “The implications of this are just incalculable.”

If ocean levels rise just 10 feet, areas like Miami, Boston, Seattle and New York City would face flooding.

The melting ice would cool ocean surfaces at the poles even more. While the overall climate continues to warm. The temperature difference would fuel even more volatile weather.

“As the atmosphere gets warmer and there’s more water vapor, that’s going to drive stronger thunderstorms, stronger hurricanes, stronger tornadoes, because they all get their energy from the water vapor,” said Hansen.

Nearly a decade ago, Hansen told “60 Minutes” we had 10 years to get global warming under control, or we would reach “tipping point.”

“It will be a situation that is out of our control,” he said. “We’re essentially at the edge of that. That’s why this year is a critical year.”

Critical because of a United Nations meeting in Paris that is designed to reach legally binding agreements on carbons emissions, those greenhouse gases that create global warming.

*   *   *

Sea Levels Could Rise Much Faster than Thought (Climate Denial Crock of the Week)

with Peter SinclairJuly 21, 2015

Washington Post:

James Hansen has often been out ahead of his scientific colleagues.

With his 1988 congressional testimony, the then-NASA scientist is credited with putting the global warming issue on the map by saying that a warming trend had already begun. “It is time to stop waffling so much and say that the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here,” Hansen famously testified.

Now Hansen — who retired in 2013 from his NASA post, and is currently an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute — is publishing what he says may be his most important paper. Along with 16 other researchers — including leading experts on the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets — he has authored a lengthy study outlining an scenario of potentially rapid sea level rise combined with more intense storm systems.

It’s an alarming picture of where the planet could be headed — and hard to ignore, given its author. But it may also meet with considerable skepticism in the broader scientific community, given that its scenarios of sea level rise occur more rapidly than those ratified by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its latest assessment of the state of climate science, published in 2013.

In the new study, Hansen and his colleagues suggest that the “doubling time” for ice loss from West Antarctica — the time period over which the amount of loss could double — could be as short as 10 years. In other words, a non-linear process could be at work, triggering major sea level rise in a time frame of 50 to 200 years. By contrast, Hansen and colleagues note, the IPCC assumed more of a linear process, suggesting only around 1 meter of sea level rise, at most, by 2100.

Here, a clip from our extended interview with Eric Rignot in December of 2014.  Rignot is one of the co-authors of the new study.

Slate:

The study—written by James Hansen, NASA’s former lead climate scientist, and 16 co-authors, many of whom are considered among the top in their fields—concludes that glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica will melt 10 times faster than previous consensus estimates, resulting in sea level rise of at least 10 feet in as little as 50 years. The study, which has not yet been peer reviewed, brings new importance to a feedback loop in the ocean near Antarctica that results in cooler freshwater from melting glaciers forcing warmer, saltier water underneath the ice sheets, speeding up the melting rate. Hansen, who is known for being alarmist and also right, acknowledges that his study implies change far beyond previous consensus estimates. In a conference call with reporters, he said he hoped the new findings would be “substantially more persuasive than anything previously published.” I certainly find them to be.

We conclude that continued high emissions will make multi-meter sea level rise practically unavoidable and likely to occur this century. Social disruption and economic consequences of such large sea level rise could be devastating. It is not difficult to imagine that conflicts arising from forced migrations and economic collapse might make the planet ungovernable, threatening the fabric of civilization.

The science of ice melt rates is advancing so fast, scientists have generally been reluctant to put a number to what is essentially an unpredictable, non-linear response of ice sheets to a steadily warming ocean. With Hansen’s new study, that changes in a dramatic way. One of the study’s co-authors is Eric Rignot, whose own study last year found that glacial melt from West Antarctica now appears to be “unstoppable.” Chris Mooney, writing for Mother Jonescalled that study a “holy shit” moment for the climate.

Daily Beast:

New climate science brings good news as well as bad.  Humanity can limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C if it so chooses, according to a little-noticed study by experts at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts (now perhaps the world’s foremost climate research center) and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis published in Nature Climate Changein May.

shanghai500

“Actions for returning global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100 are in many ways similar to those limiting warming to below 2 degrees Celsius,” said Joeri Rogelj, a lead author of the study. “However … emission reductions need to scale up swiftly in the next decades.” And there’s a significant catch: Even this relatively optimistic study concludes that it’s too late to prevent global temperature rising by 2 degrees C. But this overshoot of the 2 C target can be made temporary, the study argues; the total increase can be brought back down to 1.5 C later in the century.

Besides the faster emissions reductions Rogelj referenced, two additional tools are essential, the study outlines. Energy efficiency—shifting to less wasteful lighting, appliances, vehicles, building materials and the like—is already the cheapest, fastest way to reduce emissions. Improved efficiency has made great progress in recent years but will have to accelerate, especially in emerging economies such as China and India.

Also necessary will be breakthroughs in so-called “carbon negative” technologies. Call it the photosynthesis option: because plants inhale carbon dioxide and store it in their roots, stems, and leaves, one can remove carbon from the atmosphere by growing trees, planting cover crops, burying charred plant materials underground, and other kindred methods. In effect, carbon negative technologies can turn back the clock on global warming, making the aforementioned descent from the 2 C overshoot to the 1.5 C goal later in this century theoretically possible. Carbon-negative technologies thus far remain unproven at the scale needed, however; more research and deployment is required, according to the study.

*   *   *

Earth’s Most Famous Climate Scientist Issues Bombshell Sea Level Warning (Slate)

495456719-single-family-homes-on-islands-and-condo-buildings-on

Monday’s new study greatly increases the potential for catastrophic near-term sea level rise. Here, Miami Beach, among the most vulnerable cities to sea level rise in the world. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

In what may prove to be a turning point for political action on climate change, a breathtaking new study casts extreme doubt about the near-term stability of global sea levels.

The study—written by James Hansen, NASA’s former lead climate scientist, and 16 co-authors, many of whom are considered among the top in their fields—concludes that glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica will melt 10 times faster than previous consensus estimates, resulting in sea level rise of at least 10 feet in as little as 50 years. The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, brings new importance to a feedback loop in the ocean near Antarctica that results in cooler freshwater from melting glaciers forcing warmer, saltier water underneath the ice sheets, speeding up the melting rate. Hansen, who is known for being alarmist and also right, acknowledges that his study implies change far beyond previous consensus estimates. In a conference call with reporters, he said he hoped the new findings would be “substantially more persuasive than anything previously published.” I certainly find them to be.

To come to their findings, the authors used a mixture of paleoclimate records, computer models, and observations of current rates of sea level rise, but “the real world is moving somewhat faster than the model,” Hansen says.

Hansen’s study does not attempt to predict the precise timing of the feedback loop, only that it is “likely” to occur this century. The implications are mindboggling: In the study’s likely scenario, New York City—and every other coastal city on the planet—may only have a few more decades of habitability left. That dire prediction, in Hansen’s view, requires “emergency cooperation among nations.”

We conclude that continued high emissions will make multi-meter sea level rise practically unavoidable and likely to occur this century. Social disruption and economic consequences of such large sea level rise could be devastating. It is not difficult to imagine that conflicts arising from forced migrations and economic collapse might make the planet ungovernable, threatening the fabric of civilization.

The science of ice melt rates is advancing so fast, scientists have generally been reluctant to put a number to what is essentially an unpredictable, nonlinear response of ice sheets to a steadily warming ocean. With Hansen’s new study, that changes in a dramatic way. One of the study’s co-authors is Eric Rignot, whose own study last year found that glacial melt from West Antarctica now appears to be “unstoppable.” Chris Mooney, writing for Mother Jonescalled that study a “holy shit” moment for the climate.

One necessary note of caution: Hansen’s study comes via a nontraditional publishing decision by its authors. The study will be published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, an open-access “discussion” journal, and will not have formal peer review prior to its appearance online later this week. [Update, July 23: The paper is now available.] The complete discussion draft circulated to journalists was 66 pages long, and included more than 300 references. The peer review will take place in real time, with responses to the work by other scientists also published online. Hansen said this publishing timeline was necessary to make the work public as soon as possible before global negotiators meet in Paris later this year. Still, the lack of traditional peer review and the fact that this study’s results go far beyond what’s been previously published will likely bring increased scrutiny. On Twitter, Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist whose work focuses on Greenland and the Arctic, was skeptical of such enormous rates of near-term sea level rise, though she defended Hansen’s decision to publish in a nontraditional way.

In 2013, Hansen left his post at NASA to become a climate activist because, in his words, “as a government employee, you can’t testify against the government.” In a wide-ranging December 2013 study, conducted to support Our Children’s Trust, a group advancing legal challenges to lax greenhouse gas emissions policies on behalf of minors, Hansen called for a “human tipping point”—essentially, a social revolution—as one of the most effective ways of combating climate change, though he still favors a bilateral carbon tax agreed upon by the United States and China as the best near-term climate policy. In the new study, Hansen writes, “there is no morally defensible excuse to delay phase-out of fossil fuel emissions as rapidly as possible.”

Asked whether Hansen has plans to personally present the new research to world leaders, he said: “Yes, but I can’t talk about that today.” What’s still uncertain is whether, like with so many previous dire warnings, world leaders will be willing to listen.

*   *   *

Ice Melt, Sea Level Rise and Superstorms (Climate Sciences, Awareness and Solutions / Earth Institute, Columbia University)

23 July 2015

James Hansen

The paper “Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: evidence from paleoclimate data, climate modeling, and modern observations that 2°C global warming is highly dangerous” has been published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussion and is freely available here.

The paper draws on a large body of work by the research community, as indicated by the 300 references. No doubt we missed some important relevant contributions, which we may be able to rectify in the final version of the paper. I thank all the researchers who provided data or information, many of whom I may have failed to include in the acknowledgments, as the work for the paper occurred over a several year period.

I am especially grateful to the Durst family for a generous grant that allowed me to work full time this year on finishing the paper, as well as the other supporters of our program Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions at the Columbia University Earth Institute.

In the conceivable event that you do not read the full paper plus supplement, I include the Acknowledgments here:

Acknowledgments. Completion of this study was made possible by a generous gift from The Durst Family to the Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions program at the Columbia University Earth Institute. That program was initiated in 2013 primarily via support from the Grantham Foundation for Protection of the Environment, Jim and Krisann Miller, and Gerry Lenfest and sustained via their continuing support. Other substantial support has been provided by the Flora Family Foundation, Dennis Pence, the Skoll Global Threats Fund, Alexander Totic and Hugh Perrine. We thank Anders Carlson, Elsa Cortijo, Nil Irvali, Kurt Lambeck, Scott Lehman, and Ulysses Ninnemann for their kind provision of data and related information. Support for climate simulations was provided by the NASA High-End Computing (HEC) Program through the NASA Center for Climate Simulation (NCCS) at Goddard Space Flight Center.

12 Reasons To Love Nudity And Celebrate NYC Bodypainting Day July 18 (NSFW) (Huff Post)

 Posted: 07/16/2015 8:15 pm EDT  Updated: 07/20/2015 1:59 pm EDT 

You don’t have to strip down to your birthday suit to celebrate NYC Bodypainting Day, but it’s something you might want to consider. Here’s why:

  • 1
    It’s Free
    Michael Loccisano via Getty Images
    Just come down to Dag Hammarskjold Plaza (47th Street at 2nd Avenue) on July 18. Full details at Bodypainting Day 2015.
  • 2
    All Are Welcome
    Andy Golub
    You can volunteer to be a model, artist, volunteer or just enjoy the show.
  • 3
    People Of All Races And Colors Will Be All Colors
    Andy Golub
  • 4
    It’s Clothing Optional (Sort Of)
    Andy Golub
    If you want to model, you have to take it all off. But if you just want to enjoy the show, you’ll need to put something on. Your choice.
  • 5
    It’s A Great Way To Enjoy New York City
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Once the models are painted, they’ll parade from Dag Hammarskjold Plaza (47th and 2nd Avenue) to the United Nations.
  • 6
    It’s About Free Artistic Expression
    TIMOTHY A. CLARY via Getty Images
    Artist Andy Golub didn’t change New York City nudity laws, but he did influence how they were enforced. If you’re naked in a public space because you’re creating art, it’s legal. Thanks, Andy!
  • 7
    It’s About Body Acceptance
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • 8
    It’s A Great Way To Meet People
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • 9
    You’ll Definitely Fit In
    Andy Golub
  • 10
    It’s Art
    Andy Golub
  • 11
    And, of course, The Body Is Beautiful
    Michael Loccisano via Getty Images
  • 12
    . . . In All Its Forms
    Buck Wolf

Listen to the Weird News Podcast for a full conversation with Golub, Aponte and Alston-Owens.

Study explores how past Native American settlement modified WNY forests (Buffalo University)

June 2, 2015

Charlotte Hsu

Fire-tolerant trees that bear edible nuts were unusually abundant near the historical sites of Native American villages, research suggests

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A new study by University at Buffalo geographers explores how humans altered the arboreal make-up of Western New York forests before European settlers arrived in large numbers.

The research looked at land survey data from around 1799-1814, and used this information to model which tree species were present in different areas of Chautauqua County, New York, at that time.

The analysis placed hickory, chestnut and oak trees in larger-than-expected numbers near the historical sites of Native American villages, said co-author Steve Tulowiecki, who conducted the research as a geography PhD candidate at the University at Buffalo and is now an adjunct lecturer of geography at SUNY Geneseo. This finding is important because these species produce edible nuts, and are also more likely than many other trees to survive fires.

PHOTOS: http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2015/05/048.html

“Our results contribute to the conversation about how natural or humanized the landscape of America was when Europeans first arrived,” Tulowiecki said. “Our society has competing views about this: On one hand, there is the argument that it was a wilderness relatively untouched by man. Recently, we’ve had this perspective challenged, with some saying that the landscape was dramatically altered, particularly through burning and other clearance practices.”

The findings of the new research — more fire-tolerant, large-nut-bearing trees than expected within about 15 kilometers of village sites — suggest that Native American communities in the study area modified the forest in ways that favored those species, Tulowiecki said. He noted that flame-sensitive beech and sugar maples, which burn readily in forest fires, appeared in smaller numbers than expected near village sites.

Forest modifications may have impacted upwards of 20 percent of total land area in modern-day Chautauqua County, according to Tulowiecki’s analysis.

The research is important, he said, because it uses data to address questions surrounding historical forest modification.

“There have been contentious debates over the past few decades regarding the spatial extent of Native American impacts upon pre-European landscapes,” he said. “Yet, very few studies have offered exhaustive methods to understand or quantify these impacts. Our study utilizes advanced quantitative models, geographic information systems, original land survey data, and historical-archaeological records of Native American settlement in order to understand these impacts.”

Tulowiecki, who finished his PhD in 2015, conducted the study with his advisor, UB Associate Professor of Geography Chris Larsen, PhD. The research was published online on May 19 in Ecological Monographs, a journal of the Ecological Society of America.

Picturing a 19th-century forest

To predict how the forest looked 200 years ago, Tulowiecki and Larsen synthesized several sources of information.

They began with the observations of surveyors from the Holland Land Company, who documented the terrain of Chautauqua County between 1799 and 1814. These assessors included details on which types of trees they found at thousands of locations in the region.

Tulowiecki and Larsen mapped this information, then overlaid it with data showing the temperature, precipitation, soil conditions and other environmental variables at different locations. This helped the researchers understand what types of trees typically grew under various conditions, and they used this information to build predictive models showing how all of Chautauqua County would have looked, tree-wise, at the turn of the 19th century if environmental conditions were the only factor at play.

Apparently, they were not, because in some places the distribution of tree species predicted by the model didn’t match the reality of what surveyors saw.

The sites where these discrepancies occurred coincided with the historical location of Native American villages as mapped or described by various sources, Tulowiecki says. This suggested that Native American societies – particularly the Seneca – modified the areas surrounding their communities.

To account for this possibility, the researchers refined their predictive models. In addition to the original environmental variables, they incorporated a new variable that captured information related to proximity to village sites.

The models improved as a result.

Voices from the People’s Climate March: Indigenous Groups Lead Historic 400,000-Strong NYC Protest (Democracy Now!)

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2014

As many as 400,000 people turned out in New York City on Sunday for the People’s Climate March, the largest environmental protest in history. With a turnout far exceeding expectations, the streets of midtown Manhattan were filled with environmentalists, politicians, musicians, students, farmers, celebrities, nurses and labor activists — all united in their demand for urgent action on climate change. Organizers arranged the People’s Climate March into different contingents reflecting the movement’s diversity, with indigenous groups in the lead. Democracy Now! producers Aaron Maté and Elizabeth Press were in the streets to hear from some of the demonstrators taking part in the historic protest.

TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to the People’s Climate March. Organizers estimate as many as 400,000 people marched in New York Sunday in the largest climate protest in history. The turnout far exceeded expectations. Other marches and rallies were held in 166 countries. More protests are planned for today. Climate activists are gathering today in downtown Manhattan for a mass sit-in dubbed “Flood Wall Street.” The actions are timed to coincide with the United Nations climate summit taking place here in New York Tuesday. President Obama and over 100 other world leaders are scheduled to attend.

Sunday’s events in New York began with an indigenous sunrise ceremony in Central Park. Indigenous activists then led the march.Democracy Now!‘s Aaron Maté was in the streets at the People’s Climate March.

AARON MATÉ: We’re near the very front of the People’s Climate March, and the sign behind me reads: “Front Lines of Crisis, Forefront of Change.” This march has been divided up into different groups, and at the front are indigenous and front-line communities most impacted by climate change.

CLAYTON THOMASMULLER: Hi. My name is Clayton Thomas-Muller. I’m an organizer with the indigenous peoples’ social movement Idle No More and Defenders of the Land. Things today are going really, really well. We’ve got tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people on the street. We have front-line indigenous communities from communities that are disproportionately affected by President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy policy. We’ve got leaders from communities fighting fracking, fighting tar sands, pipelines, all kinds of pipeline fighters from across the continent who are organizing in solidarity with First Nations from the belly of the beast in Alberta who are trying to stop tar sands expansion at the source. And we’re here to send a very clear message to President Obama, Stephen Harper and the rest of the world leaders that we need legally binding mechanisms on climate change right now passed, and if they ain’t going to do it, that the people certainly will.

INDIGENOUS ACTIVIST: Hi. We’re here to march for the next seven generations and to take astand against Big Oil companies that are coming through our territories and trying to take our ancestral lands and destroy them. We’re here because it’s going to take all of us—all of us—not just the indigenous people, but everyone in the whole world, to come together to save our water.

PERUVIAN ACTIVIST: We are from the Peruvian delegation here on the March. And we are marching because we are fighting for climate justice, and we are fighting because this December, the next COP event is going to be in our country. And we are preparing a people’s summit and the next march in December 10 in Lima. And we are asking the Peruvian government, Ollanta Humala, for coherence, because even if they are taking pictures here near Ban Ki-moon, they are not doing that kind of commitments in the country. So, we need to fight here, we need to fight in our country. This is a global fight.

EL PUENTE ACTIVIST: Who are we?

EL PUENTE ACTIVISTS: El Puente!

EL PUENTE ACTIVIST: What do we stand for?

EL PUENTE ACTIVISTS: Peace and justice!

FRANCES LUCERNA: My name is Frances Lucerna. I’m the executive director of El Puente. We have about 300-strong here of our young people. We are a human rights organization located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Most of our young people are from Puerto Rico, from Dominican Republic. And the connection between what’s happening in terms of our islands and also what’s happening here in our waterfront community that Williamsburg is part of, we need, really, the powers that be to come together with our people and really make decisions that are about preserving our Earth.

CARLOS GARCIA: Hi. My name is Carlos Garcia. I’m the secretary-treasurer of the New York State Public Employees Federation. We represent 54,000 New York state employees who are professional scientific and technical workers. And we’re out here to say to the U.S. government, New York state government, let’s take care of our climate, let’s take care of our environment.

IRENE JOR: My name is Irene Jor. I’m with the National Domestic Workers Alliance with the New York domestic workers here today. And for us, we’re here because, as domestic workers, it’s time to clean up the climate mess.

DOMESTIC WORKERS: We are domestic workers! We want climate justice now!

IRENE JOR: Domestic workers have been part of the struggle for a long time. We’re disproportionately impacted by climate change. For those of us who are migrant women workers, we often come here because of what extractive resources and climate crisis has done to our home countries.

AARON MATÉ: We’ve come upon a huge contingent of young people, many carrying signs reading “Youth choose climate justice.”

YOUTH ACTIVISTS: Obama, we don’t want no climate drama! Hey, Obama, we don’t want no climate drama!

JONAH FELDMAN: My name is Jonah Feldman. I’m here with the Brandeis Divestment Campaign from Brandeis University.

AARON MATÉ: And what does your sign say?

JONAH FELDMAN: It says, “Divest from Climate Change.” We believe that our university should sell off all its investments in the fossil fuel industry—that’s in coal, oil, natural gas, tar sands—and to reinvest into clean, renewable alternatives.

LUIS NAVARRO: Hello. My name Luis Navarro. I’m 16. I’m from Boston, Massachusetts. I’m with the Boston-area Youth Organizing Project. Well, as a youth, I feel like every youth should be a part of this, because it concerns them and their future, whether or not if they can live by 20 years from now with this climate change. And I feel like it’s important for me to be here to show them that the youth is on our side.

AARON MATÉ: As we weave through this march that has taken over midtown Manhattan, tens of thousands out in full force, coming across all different sorts of diverse groups.

VEGAN: Number one way to fight climate change: Go vegan.

REV. SUSAN DE GEORGE: I’m Susan De George, and I’m with both Green Faith and with Hudson River Presbytery. We have everybody from Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists, Hindus, Catholics, Protestants, atheists, agnostics, all marching in a group.

PROTESTERS: What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!

CAITLIN CALLAHAN: My name is Caitlin Callahan. I’m from Rockaway Beach, and I’m an organizer with Rockaway Wildfire. Superstorm Sandy devastated the Rockaway Peninsula. We know that climate change is being worsened and exacerbated by all of the systemic profiteering that’s happening throughout our world. And it’s time for that to stop. If you haven’t been involved in climate justice activism before, it’s time to get involved in climate justice activism, because this is affecting all of us.

BRADEN ELLIOTT: My name is Braden Elliott. I’m a Ph.D. student at Dartmouth College, and I’m here because I care.

AARON MATÉ: And the banner under which the scientists are marching is “The Debate is Over”?

BRADEN ELLIOTT: Correct. The banner says “The Debate is Over” because the core part, the part that the planet is warming and that humans are responsible for the lion’s share of it, is settled. There’s always debate to be had on the edges of a large topic, but the call to action is very clear.

AARON MATÉ: And now we’re in the bloc of demonstrators under the banner of “We Know Who is Responsible,” anti-corporate campaigners, peace and justice groups, those who are organizing against the groups they say are holding back progress.

SANDRA NURSE: My name is Sandra Nurse. I’m here with the Flood Wall Street contingent. We’re calling on people to do a mass sit-in in the financial district to highlight the connections between corporate capitalism, extractive industries, the financing and bankrolling of climate change, the financing of politicians who will not bring meaningful legislation to the table and who are blocking the process of actually bringing meaningful legislation against climate change.

FLOOD WALL STREET CONTINGENT: All day, all week, let’s flood Wall Street!

AMY GOODMAN: Some of the voices from the 400,000-strong People’s Climate March here in New York. Special thanks to Aaron Maté and Elizabeth Press in the streets for Democracy Now!

The Changing Face of Climate Change (Slate)

Will the leaders of the People’s Climate March now lead the movement?

At the front of the People’s Climate March, moments before the crowd began to move, you could look back and see the wall of stone that makes up the wealthy Upper West Side apartment buildings to your left, and Central Park to your right, in the last of its full-blown green phase before the leaves start to turn. Visible on the street: signs, artwork, and many, many heads.

In the front section of the march, designated by organizers for “the people first and most impacted,” were representatives of the Kichwa from Ecuador, Taino from the Caribbean, Winnemem Wintu from California, and many other indigenous groups in traditional clothing. There were also members of the media and the musician Sting. Young people of color from Brooklyn held large paper sunflowers and an enormous banner reading: “FRONTLINES OF CRISIS, FOREFRONT OF CHANGE.” Above them were the glossy towers that mark the beginning of Midtown and the bright red CNN sign against the fog signaling that the 11:30 a.m. start time was drawing closer. On his spire, Columbus had his back to the crowd.

The march was already the largest climate demonstration in history before the walking began. There was plenty of excitement. But the drums, the chanting, and the drone of conch-shell horns added an air of warfare.

Indigenous and underprivileged communities are already experiencing the worst impact of climate change, and for those at the front of the march, battle-ready would seem an appropriate posture.

People's Climate March.

Many of the indigenous groups participating in the People’s Climate March on Sept. 21, 2014, in New York City, wore traditional clothing. Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Ricken Patel, the founder of the online activist network called Avaaz, told us shortly before the march: “We know that the most vulnerable communities get if first and worst every time.” The refrain was repeated by so many others, and research corroborates it. An analysis from Yale and George Mason University finds that in the United States, climate change is most likely to affect “Hispanics, African Americans, and other racial and ethnic groups who are likely to be more vulnerable to heat waves, extreme weather events, environmental degradation, and subsequent labor market dislocations.”

The people at the front of the march were themselves a sign that the face of mainstream climate activism has shifted from polar bears and Priuses toward marginalized communities. It is, in theory, a shift from what climate researcher Angela Park wrote in 2009 was a movement that “still suffers from the perception, and arguably the reality, that it is … led by and designed for the interests of the white, upper-middle class.”

Seven representatives from frontline communities spoke at a press conference before the march began, including Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, a 26-year-old writer, professor, and spoken-word artist from the Marshall Islands. She has also been selected by the United Nations from a group of 544 nominees to speak in the opening ceremonies of Tuesday’s Climate Summit.

We caught up with her after the march. Jetnil-Kijiner is small in stature, with long black curly hair, and she appeared exhausted after arriving from the Marshall Islands just the day before the march (not to mention marching and speaking to reporters all day), but she managed to reanimate herself. Walking in Central Park, she told us that she first felt called to climate activism after returning to the Marshall Islands after college in 2010. “There are some parts of the Marshalls where you can stand and see both sides of the ocean,” she said. Rising sea levels, one of the most devastating and permanent consequences of climate change, threaten the very existence of low-lying island nations. In 2008, she woke one morning to find her home island flooded. Houses were destroyed, debris was everywhere, and once the waters receded, the trees shriveled because of the salt.

While people like Jetnil-Kijiner were physically at the front of the march, the question remains whether their voices will be drowned out by the bigger names of climate activism, the Bill McKibbens and the Ricken Patels.

140922_SCI_PeoplesClimateMarch04

Demonstrators take part in the People’s Climate March on Sept. 21, 2014, in New York City. Photo by Lisa Larson-Walker

The night before the march, McKibben and other writers and politicians spoke on a panel in the packed Unitarian Church of All Souls on the Upper East Side. Nearing the end of the discussion, the moderator, Brian Lehrer, asked McKibben what was the unified message that he wanted people to take away from the march. Instead of answering, McKibben metaphorically passed the mic, saying, “There will be people from communities who have had to deal with Sandy, the ongoing fact of living in a place where every third kid has an inhaler. They’ll do a good job of speaking powerfully.”

Just before the march, Ananda Lee Tan, an organizer with the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, told us, “We’re seeing a shift in the movement. This march really marks a flipping of the script.” Tan explained that the communities most impacted by extreme weather have joined together. “We’re taking over the leadership of the U.S. climate movement,” he said, “and so we’ll see on the streets today probably the most diverse, broad, grass-roots climate movement that the U.S. has ever seen.”

The difference is not that communities most threatened by climate change are now involved in the climate change movement. As Jacqueline Patterson, the NAACP’s Environment and Climate Justice Program director, pointed out in a phone interview, frontline communities have been involved in climate justice from the beginning of the movement. What’s new is that a wide range of groups, from labor unions and indigenous tribes to the Granny Peace Brigade, was marching in the same place.

People’s Climate March.

The People’s Climate March was the largest climate demonstration in history. Photo by Lisa Larson-Walker

Still, Patterson had a more cautious view of the role of frontline communities in the march and the wider movement. She said that while there was now more acknowledgement that frontline communities needed to be engaged, there was “to a lesser extent, an acknowledgement that the frontline communities need to lead.”

On the Wednesday before the march, a 28-year-old Avaaz canvasser (who preferred to remain anonymous, citing a nondisclosure agreement) echoed Patterson’s concerns. He said there was much improvement in the communication with frontline communities, but he was skeptical of the “big greens” such as Avaaz, 350.org, and the Sierra Club, arguing that they needed to deepen their understanding of organizing in frontline communities. “There’s a lot of wisdom there,” he said. Specifically, he wanted the established environmental organizations to give more money directly to grass-roots organizations. He told us that he planned to quit his canvassing job that evening. He didn’t want to canvas in Washington Square Park anymore; he planned to return to his home community of Staten Island to organize there.

The test of the movement’s potency will, of course, be its coordination beyond the march, its ability to maintain the unity that defined it. And on Tuesday, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner will have an opportunity to tell world leaders about the Marshall Islands, about what it is like to live on land just two meters above sea level. She is tired of answering the question of where the Marshall Islanders will move when the islands are gone. “We don’t want to move, and we shouldn’t have to move,” she said. “There should be changes now so that doesn’t have to happen.”

New York summit is last chance to get consensus on climate before 2015 talks (The Guardian)

UN is trying to convince countries to make new pledges before they meet in Paris to finalise a new deal on cutting emissions, reports

Paul Brown for Climate News Network, part of the Guardian Enviornment Network

theguardian.com, Thursday 4 September 2014 14.48 BST

Ban Ki-moonUN secretary general Ban Ki-moon has invited world leaders to New York on 23 September for a climate summit. Photograph: David Rowland/AFP/Getty Images

It is widely acknowledged that the planet’s political leaders and its people are currently failing to take enough action to prevent catastrophic climate change.

Next year, at the United Nations climate change conference in Paris, representatives of all the world’s countries will be hoping to reach a new deal to cut greenhouse gases and prevent the planet overheating dangerously. So far, there are no signs that their leaders have the political will to do so.

To try to speed up the process, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, has invited world leaders to UN headquarters in New York on 23 September for a grandly-named Climate Summit 2014.

He said at the last climate conference, in Warsaw last year, that he is deeply concerned about the lack of progress in signing up to new legally-binding targets to cut emissions.

If the summit is a success, then it means a new international deal to replace the Kyoto protocol will be probable in late 2015 in Paris. But if world leaders will not accept new targets for cutting emissions, and timetables to achieve them, then many believe that political progress is impossible.

Ban Ki-moon’s frustration about lack of progress is because politicians know the danger we are in, yet do nothing. World leaders have already agreed that there is no longer any serious scientific argument about the fact that the Earth is heating up and if no action is taken will exceed the 2C danger threshold.

It is also clear, Ban Ki-moon says, that the technologies already exist for the world to turn its back on fossil fuels and cut emissions of greenhouse gases to a safe level.

What the major countries cannot agree on is how the burden of taking action should be shared among the world’s 196 nations.

Ban Ki-moon already has the backing of more than half the countries in the world for his plan. These are the most vulnerable to climate change, and most are already being seriously affected.

More than 100 countries meeting in Apia, Samoa, at the third UN conference on small island developing states, in their draft final statement, note with “grave concern” that world leaders’ pledges on the mitigation of greenhouse gases will not save them from catastrophic sea level rise, droughts, and forced migration. “We express profound alarm that emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise globally.”

Many of them have long advocated a maximum temperature rise of 1.5C to prevent disaster for the most vulnerable nations, such as the Marshall Islands and the Maldives.

The draft ministerial statement says: “Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time, and we express profound alarm that emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise globally.

“We are deeply concerned that all countries, particularly developing countries, are vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change and are already experiencing an increase in such impacts, including persistent drought and extreme weather events, sea level rise, coastal erosion and ocean acidification, further threatening food security and efforts to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development.”

Speaking from Apia, Shirley Laban, the convenor of the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network, an NGO, said: “Unless we cut emissions now, and limit global warming to less than 1.5C, Pacific communities will reap devastating consequences for generations to come. Because of pollution we are not responsible for, we are facing catastrophic threats to our way of life.”

She called on all leaders attending the UN climate summit in New York to “use this historic opportunity to inject momentum into the global climate negotiations, and work to secure an ambitious global agreement in 2015”.

This is a tall order for a one-day summit, but Ban Ki-moon is expecting a whole series of announcements by major nations of new targets to cut greenhouse gases, and timetables to reach them.

There are encouraging signs in that the two largest emitters – China and the US – have been in talks, and both agree that action is a must. Even the previously reluctant Republicans in America now accept that climate change is a danger.

It is not yet known how many heads of state will attend the summit in person, or how many will be prepared to make real pledges.

At the end of the summit, the secretary general has said, he will sum up the proceedings. It will be a moment when many small island states and millions of people around the world will be hoping for better news.

Activists promise biggest climate march in history (The Guardian)

People’s Climate March in New York and cities worldwide hopes to put pressure on heads of state at Ban Ki-moon summit

theguardian.com, Monday 8 September 2014 06.00 BST

People's Climate March advert to be put up on the London Underground tube network.People’s Climate March advert to be put up on the London Underground tube network.Photograph: Avaaz

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to take to the streets of New York, London and eight other cities worldwide in a fortnight to pressure world leaders to take action on global warming, in what organisers claim will be the biggest climate march in history.

On 23 September, heads of state will join a New York summit on climate change organised by Ban Ki-moon, the first time world leaders have come together on the issue since the landmark Copenhagen summit in 2009, which was seen as a failure.

The UN secretary general hopes the meeting will inject momentum into efforts to reach a global deal on cutting greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2015, at a conference in Paris.

Ricken Patel, executive director of digital campaign group Avaaz, one of the organisers of the People’s Climate March on 21 September, said the demonstration was intended to send a signal to those world leaders, who are expected to include David Cameron and Barack Obama, though not heads of state from China and India.

“We in the movement, activists, have failed up until this point to put up a banner and say if you care about this, now is the time, here is the place, let’s come together, to show politicians the political power that is out there on there. Our goal is to mobilise the largest climate change mobilisation in history and the indications are we’re going to get there,” he told the Guardian.

Patel said he expects more than a hundred thousand people at the New York march alone, which will be the focus of the day’s events. Although many of the hundreds of organisations that have committed to taking part are environmental groups, he said not all those attending would be traditional ‘green’ activists.

“There’s a very strong range and diversity of people from all walks of life, including immigrant rights groups, social justice groups. Whoever you are and wherever you are, climate change threatens us all so it brings us together.”

Nearly 400,000 have signed a call on Avaaz’s site, saying they will attend one of the global events, which also include marches in Berlin, Paris, Delhi, Rio and Melbourne.

Patel added: “We’re building for the longterm here. This is about launching a movement that can literally save the world over the longterm. We want to build to last. We recognise that at this stage what needs be done is build political momentum behind this issue – our governments are nowhere near even the planning to reach the agreements needed to keep warming below [temperature rises of] 2C.”

Around 500 adverts will appear on the London tube network from Monday, calling on people to join the march, and advertising has already appeared across the New York subway. In Rio, the organisers have permission to project messages about the march on to the statue of Christ.

50,000 demand action on climate change at The Wave,   biggest ever UK climate change March in London. 5 December 2009.
Thousands of people had taken part in the 2009 climate march in London.Photograph: Janine Wiedel/Alamy

In an open letter to be published this week, environment and development groups including Greenpeace, Oxfam and WWF, plus politicians including Green party MP Caroline Lucas and Labour MP Tom Watson, have joined with trade unions and faith groups to call on world leaders to use the UN summit to take action on climate change.

“Politicians all over the world cite a lack of public support as a reason not to take bold action against climate change. So on 21 September we will meet this moment with unprecedented public mobilisations in cities around the world, including thousands of people on the streets of London.

“Our goal is simple – to demonstrate the groundswell of demand that exists for ambitious climate action,” they write.

Celebrities backing the People’s Climate March include model Helena Christensen, musician Peter Gabriel, actor Susan Sarandon, Argentine footballer Lionel Messi and actor Edward Norton.

The previous biggest assembly for a climate march was in Copenhagen in 2009, when tens of thousands of people took to the streets.

Separately on Monday, NGOs Greenpeace, WWF, Green Alliance, RSPB and Christian Aid published a report, Paris 2015: Getting a global agreement on climate change, laying out the level of ambition required for a deal at the UN climate talks in Paris.

Matthew Spencer, Green Alliance’s director, said: “There is a fashionable pessimism about multilateralism which shields people from disappointment but does nothing to protect us from the insecurity that climate change is bringing. Only a strong international agreement can avoid that and give nation states the confidence that they will not be alone as they decarbonise their energy systems.”

Summer Field School in Ethnographic Methods in New York City

5th CIFAS Field School in Ethnographic Research Methods

June 16 to 27, 2014

The Comitas Institute for Anthropological Study (CIFAS) is pleased to announce the 5th CIFAS Field School in Ethnographic Research Methods, in New York City

The goal of the Field School is to offer training in the foundations and practice of ethnographic methods. The faculty works closely with participants to identify the required field methods needed to address their academic or professional needs. The Field School is suitable for graduate and undergraduate students in social sciences and other fields of study that use qualitative approaches (such as education, communication, cultural studies, health, social work, human ecology, development studies, consumer behavior, among others), applied social scientists, professionals, and researchers who have an interest in learning more about ethnographic methods and their applications.

The total work load of the course is 30 hours. Students interested in earning credits for the course may have additional assignments in order to totalize 45 hours of activities (what is equivalent to 3 credits).

Course venue: classes will take place at the Institute for Latin American Studies at Columbia University, in the Upper West Side of New York City.

See pictures of the previous editions of the CIFAS Summer Field School here.

Coordinators:

Renzo Taddei (Assistant Professor, Federal University of São Paulo/Affiliated Researcher, Columbia University). CV: http://bit.ly/1dn7RuJ.

Lambros Comitas (Gardner Cowles Professor of Anthropology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University). CV: http://bit.ly/ZUHbMn

Registration and other costs: Places are limited. The tuition fee is US$900. The tuition fee does not cover accommodation, meals or transportation. Registration should be completed online here.

Accommodations: International House offers housing for participants for the discount price of US$ 60 per night (provided there are rooms available). Rooms and other facilities can be checked out on their website, on the virtual tour option (the blue button that says “take a tour”): http://www.ihouse-nyc.org/s/707/start.aspx?sid=707&gid=1&pgid=254.

Other information:

Insurance: Participants are required to have travel insurance that covers medical and repatriation costs (for international students). Proof of purchase of travel insurance must be presented at the first day of activities.

For more information, please write to Renzo Taddei at taddei@iri.columbia.edu, or visit http://www.cifas.us/page/5th-cifas-field-school-ethnographic-research-methods.

Program:

Session Topic
June 16
  • Foundations of ethnographic research
June 17
  • Theory and practice: social theories in the field
June 18
  • Research design & data collection techniques
June 19
  • Planning the logistics of field research
June 20
  • Field trip & individual, one-on-one discussion of research projects
    Weekend
June 23
  • Ethnography in specific fields of activity (applied social sciences, public policy design, business & management, and others)
June 24
  • Principles of organization and indexation of field data
June 25
  • Analyzing field data
June 26
  • Qualitative analysis software packages: basic principles
June 27
  • Field trip & wrap up session

New York Post Helps NYPD Slander Occupy Wall Street (Again) (Village Voice)

By Nick Pinto Thu., Jan. 3 2013 at 2:57 PM

morgangliedman.jpgFacebook – Morgan Gliedman was arrested with Aaron Greene, who the Post incorrectly linked to Occupy Wall Street.

When police raided the West Village apartment of Morgan Gliedman and Aaron Greene on Saturday, the New York Post was first to the story.

It was the sort of story that was right in the Post‘s wheelhouse. Gliedman, 27, nine months pregnant, the daughter of a prominent doctor and the product of a Park-Avenue-and-Dalton upbringing, and Greene, a Harvard alumnus, caught in a filthy den of drugs, decadence, and bomb-making materials just blocks from the townhouse where Weather Underground bomb-makers accidentally blew themselves up decades before.

The story also had another element that appears to becoming a Post signature: citing anonymous sources, apparently from within the NYPD, Post reporters Jamie Schram, Antonio Antenucci, and Matt McNulty reported that Greene had ties to Occupy Wall Street. The assertion was right up top in the story’s lead sentence:

“The privileged daughter of a prominent city doctor, and her boyfriend — a Harvard grad and Occupy Wall Street activist — have been busted for allegedly having a cache of weapons and a bombmaking explosive in their Greenwich Village apartment.”

The Occupy association was quickly picked up and rebroadcast by both Reuters and the Associated Press.

Needless to say, the Occupy angle was red meat to FBI-informant-turned-right-wing-bloviator Brandon Darby, who used the link to justify the recent revelation (dropped on the deadest Friday afternoon of the year) that the FBI had indeed been centrally involved in nationwide surveillance of the Occupy movement.

The thing is, the story didn’t hold up. People involved in Occupy Wall Street had no memory of ever encountering Greene. And by the first afternoon, the Occupy link was already being stepped back in the media. As the Associated Press reported, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly suggested that the question of radical affiliations was still open:

“No political writings were discovered, and Kelly said the investigation was continuing into whether the couple had any larger plans or ties to any radical groups.”

That evening, the Daily Beast called the whole scenario into question with a post entitled “NY Couple Not Terrorists, Say Cops, Just Rich Kids With Drug Habits

By the next day, the NYPD was in the Times fully contradicting the Post’s initial Occupy claims:

“But the police said they did not believe that Mr. Greene was active in any political movements.”

Even so, activists, say, the damage had already been done. None of the outlets ran corrections, and most of the initial stories are still online.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time that the Post — and more specifically, Schram, one of its top cop reporters — has been a conduit for vaguely sourced and ultimately baseless police claims linking scary high-profile crimes to Occupy Wall Street.

In July, Schram co-authored a cover story for the Post under the screaming front-page headline “OWS Murder Link,” citing the claims of anonymous sources that the cold-case murder of a jogger in Inwood had been linked by DNA to a chain used to hold open subway doors during a fare strike by transit workers and Occupy activists last winter. The local NBC affiliate did the same.

That story too was quickly rolled back, as officials conceded that in fact the match was far more likely to have resulted from sloppy lab work, but not before the fabricated link had been picked up by media outlets far and wide.

Occupy Wall Street is now pushing back. An online petition decrying the Post story is approaching 1,000 signatures.

Some activists see a pattern emerging, in which the NYPD uses it’s cozy relationship with the Post to put out anonymous slanders of a nonviolent social-justice movement without having to get its hands dirty.

Whether or not that’s the case, the fact that his has happened twice now raises real questions about the Post’s policies governing the use of anonymous law-enforcement sources and its commitment to correcting factually inaccurate reporting.

Kelly McBride, the senior ethics faculty at the Poynter Institute, told the Voice the Post is definitely doing this wrong:

“In a case like this, the best practices would suggest that The Post is definitely obligated to correct their mistake, both by updating the online version of the story and noting the error, as well as printing a correction in the paper to inform people who saw the mistake there.”

We emailed both Schram and the Post’s PR office for comment, but haven’t heard back yet. We’ll update the post if we do.

UPDATEMore Misreporting On the West Village Explosives Arrests

Previous Coverage: