Speaking of the Environment …

Yesterday, a ruptured pipe in the Keystone pipeline dumped some 14,000 barrels, more than a half-million gallons of crude oil into a creek in north-eastern Kansas.  It was the largest onshore crude pipeline spill in nine years and the largest Keystone spill in history. How many fish and other aquatic creatures died yesterday as a result?  How many families will be affected by the contamination of their water supply?  Do you think for one minute that TC Energy who owns the pipeline gives a damn?  NO, the only thing they are concerned with is mitigating the damaging press and getting their pipeline back up and running!  I will have more on this later, but it makes the following OpEd by British environmental activist George Monbiot in The Guardian more relevant than ever.

The US is a rogue state leading the world towards ecological collapse

It’s not just indifference. It’s an active, and deadly, cavalier attitude towards the lives of others: an example other nations follow

George Monbiot

09 December 2022

There are two extraordinary facts about the convention on biological diversity, whose members are meeting in Montreal now to discuss the global ecological crisis. The first is that, of the world’s 198 states, 196 are party to it. The second is the identity of those that aren’t. Take a guess. North Korea? Russia? Wrong. Both ratified the convention years ago. One is the Holy See (the Vatican). The other is the United States of America.

This is one of several major international treaties the US has refused to ratify. Among the others are crucial instruments such as the Rome statute on international crimes, the treaties banning cluster bombs and landmines, the convention on discrimination against women, the Basel convention on hazardous waste, the convention on the law of the sea, the nuclear test ban treaty, the employment policy convention and the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities.

In some cases, it is one of only a small number to refuse: the others are generally either impoverished states with little administrative capacity or vicious dictatorships. It is the only independent nation on Earth not to ratify the convention on the rights of the child. Perhaps this is because it is the only nation to sentence children to life imprisonment without parole, among many other brutal policies. While others play by the rules, the most powerful nation refuses. If this country were a person, we’d call it a psychopath. As it is not a person, we should call it what it is: a rogue state.

Through its undemocratic dominance of global governance, the US makes the rules, to a greater extent than any other state. It also does more than any other to prevent both their implementation and their enforcement. Its refusal to ratify treaties such as the convention on biological diversity provides other nations with a permanent excuse to participate in name only. Like all imperial powers, its hegemony is expressed in the assertion of its right not to care.

The question that assails those who strive for a kinder world is always the same but endlessly surprising: how do we persuade others to care? The lack of interest in resolving our existential crises, expressed by the US Senate in particular, is not a passive exceptionalism. It is an active, proud and furious refusal to care about the lives of others. This refusal has become the motive force of the old-new politics now sweeping the world. It appears to be driving a deadly, self-reinforcing political cycle.

Take the nitrogen crisis in the Netherlands. Scientists there have been warning since the 1980s that the excessive release of nitrogen compounds – primarily by agriculture – exceed the land and water’s capacity to absorb them, killing rivers, polluting groundwater, damaging soil, wiping out wild plants and causing a severe but seldom-discussed air pollution crisis. But successive governments could not be persuaded to care. Their repeated failure to act on these warnings allowed the problem to mount until it reached catastrophic levels. In 2019, a ruling by the Dutch council of state that the pollution levels breached European law obliged the government to do suddenly what its predecessors had failed to do gradually: shut down some of the major sources of this pollution.

This has triggered a furious reaction from the industries most affected, primarily livestock farming. The farmers’ protests have, like the Ottawa truckers’ strike, now become a cause célèbre for the far right all over the world. Rightwing politicians claim that the nitrogen crisis is being used as a pretext to seize land from farmers, in whom, they claim, true Dutch identity is vested, and hand it to asylum seekers and other immigrants, at the behest of “globalist” forces such as the World Economic Forum.

In other words, the issue has been co-opted by “great reset” and “great replacement” conspiracy theorists, who claim that there are deliberate policies to replace local, white people with “other cultures”. Some Dutch farmers have now adopted these themes, spreading ever more extreme conspiracy fictions, which might have helped to fuel an escalation of violence.

These themes are a reworking of long-established tropes. The notion that farming represents a “rooted” and “authentic” national identity that must be defended from “cosmopolitan” and “alien” forces was a mainstay of European fascist thought in the first half of the 20th century. Never mind that nitrogen fertilisers are now imported from Russia and livestock feed from the US and Brazil, never mind that the model of intensive livestock farming is the same all over the world: Dutch meat, eggs and milk are promoted as “local” and sometimes even “sovereign”, and said to be threatened by the forces of “globalism”.

Thanks to such failures of care over many years, we now approach multiple drastic decision points, at which governments must either implement changes in months that should have happened over decades, or watch crucial components of civic life collapse, including the most important component of all: a habitable planet. In either case, it’s a cliff edge.

As we rush towards these precipices, we are likely to see an ever more violent refusal to care. For example, if we in the rich nations are to meet our twin duties of care and responsibility, we must be prepared to accept many more refugees, who will be driven from their homes by the climate and ecological breakdown caused disproportionately by our economies. But as this displacement crisis (that could be greater than any dispossession the world has ever seen) looms, it could trigger a new wave of reactive, far-right politics, furiously rejecting the obligations accumulated by our previous failures to act. In turn, a resurgence of far-right politics would cut off meaningful environmental action. In other words, we face the threat of a self-perpetuating escalation of collapse.

This is the spiral we must seek to break. With every missed opportunity – and the signs suggest that the Montreal summit might be another grave disappointment – the scope for gentle action diminishes and the rush towards drastic decisions accelerates. Some of us have campaigned for years for soft landings. But that time has now passed. We are in the era of hard landings. We must counter the rise of indifference with an overt and conspicuous politics of care.

Look What We’re Doing To Our Planet!!! 🌍 🌏 🌎

oil spill.JPG

Spilled oil in South Dakota – 2016

Early Friday morning it was announced that on Thursday, an existing portion of TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline leaked at least 210,000 gallons of oil near Amherst, South Dakota. The spill is about 40 miles from the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation. Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate tribal chairman David Flute said his community is concerned the leak, the largest by the Keystone pipeline in South Dakota to date, could pollute the area’s aquifer and waterways.

“We are keeping a watchful eye and an open ear. The concern is at a high level, but there is really nothing we can do.”

On November 20th, the Nebraska Public Service Commission is scheduled to vote on whether to accept TransCanada’s Keystone XL proposal to construct new pipeline through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.  Thursday’s spill is the largest yet in the pipeline’s 7-year history. Last year, another major leak sent 16,800 gallons of oil spilling onto South Dakota grasslands. Now, one might expect a leak of more than 210,000 gallons might influence the decision of the Nebraska Public Service Commission, mightn’t one?  Well, think again.  An excerpt from the law governing the approval process:

“Commission Determination – In determining whether the pipeline carrier has met its burden, the Act prohibits the Commission from evaluating safety considerations, including the safety as to the design, installation, inspection, emergency plans and procedures, testing, construction, extension, operation, replacement, maintenance, and risk or impact of spills or leaks from the major oil pipeline.”

The law also states that an environmental impact study is to be presented and considered.  The environmental impact study can and does consider spills and leaks and those are reflected in the report.  The only problem here is that two environmental impact studies will be presented:  one was conducted by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality in 2012, and the other conducted by the State Department in 2014.  No environmental impact study has been performed for three years, thus neither this latest major spill nor the one last year will be considered in the decision next week.


Dallas Goldtooth

“It poses a risk to the Indigenous rights of tribal nations all along the route and it’s a complete disregard for free prior and informed consent as guaranteed on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It puts at risk the drinking water of over 65,000 Indigenous peoples along the route and puts at risk the livelihood for so many people that depend on tourism, on the land itself for farming and livestock. It’s a risk we can’t take.” – Dallas Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network

TransCanada first noticed the drop in pressure that is indicative of a leak at around 6:00 a.m., Thursday morning; the state was not notified until 10:30 a.m., and the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate tribe was not notified until noon.PipelineThe Obama administration spent six years considering the controversial cross-border pipeline before ultimately denying a permit for its construction in November of 2015. On Friday, 04 March 2017, the Trump administration issued a permit allowing the pipeline to move forward. Why?  Two reasons, greed and Trump’s determination to reverse every action President Obama took during his eight years in office.

However, there is yet another twist in the story. When the project was first proposed in 2008, oil prices had just topped $70 a barrel, rising to more than $90 a barrel between 2010 and 2014. But since then, oil prices have dropped precipitously — down to just about $56 a barrel today, greatly reducing the profitability and salability of the oil from the pipeline.

We have one planet to live on.  Humans will not, contrary to what some believe, live on Mars or the moon.  Humans and most of the other living creatures and vegetation currently calling this planet their home, will survive on this planet or not at all.  But, as with any home, we must maintain it, care for it, and take responsibility for its habitability.  The industrialized, western nations are, quite frankly, doing a lousy job of taking care of our planet, nearly always choosing profit over good stewardship.  love earth

We have a responsibility to preserve our planet for future generations.  Instead, we applaud a leader who approves a risky pipeline that will endanger the water supplies in at least four states, and who has refused to work toward a healthier, more sustainable environment.  If, after 11 spills in 7 years, two of them major spills, this pipeline is allowed to continue, it will be an abomination, another time that we traded human life for profit, another time we bowed to greed.  A saying I have heard many times in the last few years is that the Earth will survive without humans, but humans will not survive without Earth. Think about it.earth


Idiot Meets Idiot

Feminism is a … “socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” – Former Idiot of the Week recipient, Pat Robertson

Wednesday morning, despite, or perhaps because of the reported chaos in the White House, Donald Trump found time to do an interview with none other than Pat Robertson on Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), his first public appearance since he returned from the G-20 to the news that his son, Junior, has made a muck of things. (The interview actually aired on Thursday) It is interesting to note that, while Trump shuns and rallies against the mainstream media, he is willing to sit down with one of the foulest, most bigoted men in the country.  Says something, don’t you think?

A few of the more “magical” moments with Filosofa’s snarkiness in blue.

Robertson asked Trump if Putin’s assertions that he did not meddle in the 2016 election could be trusted, to which Trump responded, “I think we get along very well and I think that’s a good thing, that’s not a bad thing.” I imagine this one had Robertson scratching his little bald pate. 

“We are the most powerful country in the world and we are getting more and more powerful because I’m a big military person. As an example, if Hillary had won, our military would be decimated. Our energy would be much more expensive. That’s what Putin doesn’t like about me. And that’s why I say, why would he want me? Because from day one I wanted a strong military. He doesn’t want to see that.”  News alert, Trumpie … Putin knew he could pull your little puppet strings, but that Hillary was too smart to fall for it.

“It was a great G-20. We had 20 countries.”  No shit, Sherlock!  GASP … perhaps that is why they call it the G-“20”!

“That’s why I do interviews with you, you have a tremendous audience. You have people that I love — evangelicals and sometimes you say ‘the evangelical Christians.’” Sigh … no comment.

“We’ve really helped because I’ve gotten rid of the Johnson Amendment. Now they’re going to be able to speak, and that’s a great thing for Christianity, believe me — a great, great thing — and it’s a great thing for religion.” (The Johnson Amendment is a provision in the U.S. tax code, since 1954, that prohibits all 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates. Trump signed an executive order in May that says, “churches should not be found guilty of implied endorsements where secular organizations would not be.” It does NOT repeal the Johnson Amendment, nor does Trump have the power to do so. The only way to repeal the Johnson Amendment is if Congress votes to repeal, which would breach ‘separation of church and state’.)

When asked what would happen if the effort in Congress to repeal ACA should fail, Trump replied, “I will be very angry about it.”  Awwww shucks … don’t want to make li’l Donnie angry.

All of the above would be hysterically funny … if only it were not so very real. If only it were not coming from the mouth of the man who occupies the Oval Office.

pinocchioAnd then there were the blatant lies:

“Saudi Arabia put up hundreds of billions of dollars of money going into buying our planes and our military equipment and investing in our country.”  No, they did not … according to Bruce Riedel, a scholar at the Brookings Institution, “There is no $110 billion deal. Instead, there are a bunch of letters of interest or intent, but not contracts. Many are offers that the defense industry thinks the Saudis will be interested in someday. So far nothing has been notified to the Senate for review.”

“The Keystone Pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline will lead to thousands of thousands of jobs.”  A likely exaggeration, though it is unknown how many temporary jobs the construction of the pipelines will create.  Keyword here is temporary.  At the end of the construction, the projects will have created approximately 35 permanent jobs.  Thirty-five.  35.

Obamacare “has failed. It is a failed experiment — it is totally gone. It is out of business.” Wrong again.  Some 20.4 million people have been added to the insurance roles, and the current 8.8 percent rate of uninsured persons is the lowest since 1972.  In fact, ACA is currently more popular than at any other time, with more than half the adult population in support of keeping and repairing it. If that’s failure …

Robertson did not ask Trump about the Russia investigation, though he seemed to reference it afterward, saying, “I dealt with so many issues in that interview and we didn’t once talk about all that garbage because the American people don’t care about it.” Oh YES, sweet cheeks, the American people most certainly DO care about “all that garbage” … in fact we care VERY much!

Trump and Robertson had a lovely little mutual admiration society, rather like an afternoon tea on the veranda.  However, what I want to see is him to do a one-on-one with George Stephanopoulos, Anderson Cooper, or Jonathan Karl, somebody who is intelligent and who will ask the tough questions and keep asking until they get an answer.  But Trump will never agree to that interview, for he is a coward.  Most bullies are.