New Zealand river world’s first to obtain legal staus as a person

March 16, 2017 by  
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A river in New Zealand now has legal status similar to a human being, marking a historic victory for indigenous people. For over 100 years, the Whanganui Iwi have fought over the rights of the Whanganui River, the country’s longest navigable river . Now the New Zealand Parliament has recently passed the Te Awa Tupua Bill , or Whanganui River Claims Settlement Bill, acknowledging past wrongs and declaring the river “an indivisible and living whole.” The Whanganui River can now be represented through two human representatives, one appointed by the New Zealand government and the other by the Whanganui Iwi. Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson told Newshub, “I know some people will say it’s pretty strange to give a natural resource a legal personality, but it’s no stranger than family trusts, or companies, or incorporated societies.” A $56 million financial redress payment is also part of the significant legislation. Related: Indonesian president gives forest management back to indigenous communities It’s been a long battle for the Whanganui Iwi. According to the bill, “Since 1873, Whanganui Iwi have sought recognition of their authority over the River, including by pursuing one of New Zealand’s longest-running court cases.” Whanganui Iwi spokesperson Gerrard Albert said the people have challenged the government’s impact on the river’s health since the mid-1850’s, and sought recognition of their rights over the river. In a statement he said, “We have always believed that the Whanganui River is an indivisible and living whole – Te Awa Tupua – which includes all its physical and spiritual elements from the mountains of the central North Island to the sea.” A government website adds, “The tribes of Whanganui take their name, their spirit, and their strength from the great river…The people say, ‘Ko au te awa. Ko te awa ko au’ (I am the river. The river is me).” Over 200 Whanganui Iwi descendants were present in Parliament as the bill passed, and sang songs after the third and final bill reading. Via EcoWatch Images via Alex Indigo on Flickr and eyeintim on Flickr

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New Zealand river world’s first to obtain legal staus as a person

Over 700 North American bee species are heading towards extinction

March 6, 2017 by  
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Life without honeybees would be less than sweet – it’d mean a lot fewer fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. But honeybees aren’t the only bees we need to worry about. The future of many Native North American and Hawaiian bee species is also in peril: a new study found that more than half of the region’s native bee species are declining , and nearly one in four native bee species is imperiled and at risk for extinction. Image © Dominik Scythe via Unsplash A new report by the Center for Biological Diversity entitled “Pollinators in Peril: A systematic status review of North American and Hawaiian bees” outlines the importance of these native bee species by valuing their financial importance as well as their ability to help ecosystems thrive. As fruit-pollinators, native bee species are worth more than three billion dollars, yet their work pollinating wild flowers and plants is equally important in maintaining diverse and colorful flora. As if the information regarding known declining populations wasn’t cause enough for alarm, the author warned that this study and other bee studies simply don’t have enough data on thousands of native bee species – many of which are found in areas of “great environmental degradation” – to determine if they are at risk. Image © Jenni Peterson via Unsplash Related| This could be the United States’ first endangered bee species The study cites loss of habitat due to agriculture, heavy use of pesticides , climate change, and urbanization as large drivers of the native bee populations’ decline and endangerment. Lead author Kelsey Kopec said, “It’s a quiet but staggering crisis unfolding right under our noses that illuminates the unacceptably high cost of our careless addiction to pesticides and monoculture farming.” The report includes case studies of five distinct bee species around the country that are in great peril, including the wild sweet potato bee, which is the only known species in the world in its genus, and the sunflower leafcutting bee, which is the largest and most distinctive leafcutting bee on the continent. While a casual eye might be tempted to group these bee species together, their unique habits and contributions to varied ecosystems highlight their individual importance and fragility. Via Time Lead image © Jenna Lee via Unsplash

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Over 700 North American bee species are heading towards extinction

Verdant Detroit: Can ‘agrihoods’ revitalize urban centers?

February 28, 2017 by  
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A two-acre farm in Detroit’s North End neighborhood offers free food, green space, and hope to the community.

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Verdant Detroit: Can ‘agrihoods’ revitalize urban centers?

76 water protectors arrested at Standing Rock

February 2, 2017 by  
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Just one day after federal officials greenlighted the Dakota Access pipeline , North Dakota police arrested 76 water protectors camped out at the site. Hundreds of activists had established a new camp at Standing Rock after it became clear that the Trump administration planned to move ahead with the project, but local police claim that “rogue” protestors were trespassing on private property. Embed from Getty Images North Dakota Senator John Hoeven stated on Tuesday that the army had been directed to proceed with the easement needed to complete the pipeline . Hundreds of protestors, including environmental activists and indigenous people, gathered at a camp to fight against the pipeline’s construction. Many protestors left when it became known that the police were planning to raid the camp, but others felt that the “prospect of treaty rights was something worth getting arrested over,” according to Linda Black Elk. The Morton County sheriff’s office said that it was too soon to tell what charges were being filed beyond the claim that protestors were trespassing. Related: Here’s every bank funding the Dakota Access Pipeline, and how to switch Nearly 700 people have been arrested in the battle against the pipeline, and Native Americans have stated that many have been subjected to inhumane conditions or mistreated in the local jails. Activists not arrested say that they are hoping to free those rounded up by police as soon as possible. Via The Guardian lead image via Flickr

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76 water protectors arrested at Standing Rock

Trump signs executive actions to reinstate Keystone and Dakota Access Pipeline

January 24, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump signed a pair of executive orders on Tuesday to move forward with the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines. The decision rolls back efforts by President Barack Obama’s administration to impede the two projects, the latter of which was the recent subject of grueling protests by environmental and Native American activists. Signing the documents in the Oval Office, Trump told reporters that he wanted to “renegotiate some of the terms” of the Keystone bill but that he would seek to “get that pipeline built.” He also issued executive actions specifying that pipelines built in the United States should be constructed using U.S. materials. Obama rejected the Keystone pipeline project in 2015, arguing that that it would undercut America’s leadership to fight climate change. As proposed by Calgary-based TransCanada, the pipeline would have moved more than 800,000 barrels of petroleum across 1,200 miles and six U.S. states, linking Canadian oil sands to refineries in the Gulf Cost. Proponents of the pipeline said that the project would create more jobs and expand energy resources. Its detractors, on the other hand, warned that the extraction of oil sands creates more planet-warming greenhouse gases than that of petroleum. “So sad that Obama rejected Keystone Pipeline,” Trump, then the GOP presidential frontrunner tweeted that November. “Thousands of jobs, good for the environment, no downside.” While Obama didn’t block the Dakota Access project, the Army Corps of Engineers denied Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners’ request for an easement in early December, before adding that it was was seeking alternative routes for the $3.7 billion pipeline in response to the vigorous backlash. Protestors, who camped for months in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, rallied against original plans to route the pipeline below Lake Oahe near Standing Rock Sioux reservation, potentially damaging drinking-water supplies and sacred sites. The section under the lake would have been the final piece of the 1,172-mile pipeline, most of which was completed by the summer of 2016. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe accused Trump of acting “hastily and irresponsibly,” saying in a statement that it would contest the move. “Americans know this pipeline was unfairly rerouted towards our nation and without our consent. The existing pipeline route risks infringing on our treaty rights, contaminating our water and the water of 17 million Americans downstream,” said Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock tribe. Much has been made of Trump’s conflicts of interest, and for good reason. Through at least mid-2016, Trump owned ETP stock through, according to financial disclosure forms. ETP CEO Kelcy Warren donated $100,000 to his campaign. Plus, until recently, U.S. Energy Secretary nominee Rick Perry was a member of ETP’s board.

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Trump’s press secretary indicates the Dakota Access Pipeline will proceed

January 24, 2017 by  
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Hundreds of thousands of people protested the Dakota Access Pipeline last year in North Dakota, and were joined by people from around the world. But it appears President Donald Trump doesn’t care that thousands of people made their voices heard on Native American rights; his press secretary just indicated the president may move forward with the controversial oil pipeline . The United States Army Corps of Engineers denied Energy Transfer Partners the permit they required to keep working on the Dakota Access Pipeline near the North Dakota Standing Rock Sioux reservation in December. Army Assistant Secretary for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy said they would “explore alternate routes” for the pipeline that was set to extend through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois. Related: Trump officially supports completing the Dakota Access Pipeline, but it has “nothing to do” with his investment But the new Press Secretary Sean Spicer hinted the White House wants to plunge forward with the pipeline. In a press conference, Spicer said, “I will tell you that areas like the Dakota and Keystone pipeline areas that we can increase jobs, increase economic growth, and tap into America’s energy supply. That’s something that he’s been very clear about.” It seems Trump views natural resources as supplies America should consume instead of conserve. Spicer said, “The energy sector and our natural resources are an area where I think the president is very, very keen on making sure that we maximize our use of natural resources to America’s benefit. It’s good for economic growth, it’s good for jobs, and it’s good for American energy.” Lawmakers also appear confident Trump will move forward on the pipeline. North Dakota Republican representative Kevin Cramer told a Fargo radio station it’s possible for Trump to cancel the Environmental Impact Study Obama ordered that helped lead to the permit denial. Cramer said, “I expect [the EIS] will be rescinded quickly, that the easement [to drill under Lake Oahe] will be ordered and issued, you know, maybe as early as Monday. And I would expect that Dakota Access could begin finishing that line within a week.” According to The Independent, Trump still held an under $50,000 stake in Energy Transfer Partners last year, although his campaign said his stance on continuing the pipeline had nothing “to do with his personal investments and everything to do with promoting policies that benefit all Americans.” Via The Independent Images via Fibonacci Blue on Flickr and screenshot

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Trump’s press secretary indicates the Dakota Access Pipeline will proceed

Greenpeace says Apple is world’s most sustainable tech company

January 11, 2017 by  
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Five years ago, Apple , Facebook, and Google were the first companies to commit to powering their businesses 100 percent with renewable energy, according to Greenpeace . Delving into the carbon footprints of those and other leading technology companies, Greenpeace recently released a report titled “Clicking Clean: Who Is Winning the Race to Build A Green Internet?” We bet you can guess a few of the winners. Apparently Apple, Facebook, and Google are living up to their commitments; they received top marks alongside newcomer Switch, beating out the competition on factors like renewable energy use and transparency. Apple “played a catalytic role within its IT supply chain, pushing other IT data center and cloud operators who help deliver pieces of Apple’s corner of the Internet to follow their lead in powering their operations with renewable energy,” according to the report. Related: Apple’s water-resistant iPhone 7 will fight e-waste due to drowned gadgets Greenpeace gave Apple As in renewable energy commitment, energy transparency, renewable procurement, and energy efficiency and mitigation. The company’s only B was in the advocacy category. Google also received mostly As except for a B in energy transparency, but Apple edges out Google on Greenpeace’s clean energy index to be the top winner. But not everyone in the tech industry is a winner. According to Greenpeace, Netflix streaming accounts for around one third of North America’s Internet traffic, but they gave the company a D because, according to a statement, Netflix “is likely turning to carbon offsets or unbundled renewable energy credits, which do little to increase renewable energy investment.” Similarly, Greenpeace called for increased transparency from Amazon Web Services, calling them “a prime example of a company that talks up its renewable projects, but keeps customers in the dark on its energy performance while expanding into markets served by dirty energy like Virginia.” There’s hope yet for Netflix and Amazon; as recently as 2011 Greenpeace called Apple the “least clean” tech company , but today they lead the way in running a sustainable tech business. Via Greenpeace and Business Insider Images via Michele Ursino on Flickr and Mike Deerkoski on Flickr

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Greenpeace says Apple is world’s most sustainable tech company

The Surprising Green Lining at 2017 NAIAS

January 10, 2017 by  
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For an EcoGeek, there were many surprises at the 2017 edition of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). We’ve been watching the emphasis on green cars decline for a number of years. Some of that is in the mainstreaming of more efficient vehicles, with increased fuel efficiency standards, greater numbers of hybrid vehicles, and alternative fuels. But nothing brought home how far things have come quite so much as this year’s show. Last year, we thought , “the days of green cars being featured at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) seem to be over.” Where the “green” cars were once a niche item that were typically highlighted with special displays. This year, green is so mainstream that the 2017 Green Car of the Year is also the North American Car of the Year for 2017. Those awards, along with Motor Trend Car of the Year, all went to the Chevrolet Bolt. And there are many companies with multiple electric drive vehicles. Toyota, Ford, GM, and BMW each have a variety of options available. Some are all electric drive. Some are gas/electric hybrids. Some are smaller, shorter range commuter cars, while others are readily capable of long range trips. It is no longer the case that, if you want an electric drive vehicle, your selection is limited to the one model that a company offers. There are choices, and not just between this manufacturer or that one, but a variety within a company. Even Fiat Chrysler, which has in past years seemingly paid no attention whatsoever to eco-mindedness, has a hybrid Pacifica minivan, which offers an 83 MPGe rating. At this point, it seems that the automotive manufacturers don’t feel a strong need to keep pushing the market to accept electric vehicles or to get them to understand the benefits. That has been established with consumers, and it is now a matter of finding the right vehicles to meet the demand that they have fostered. What is exciting for us as EcoGeeks is that the pursuit of transformative technology continues. The lower level of the show has been an unpredictable sideline to the main floor show. In some years it has been almost like a ghost town. In others, it has offered a driving track with sometimes many different vehicles available to test drive. This year, the lower level was packed with dozens of different booths ranging from second-tier manufacturers (who make components and systems for the automakers), autonomous vehicle technologies, two different folding electric scooters, university racing and design programs, and a row full of developers of automotive- and transportation-related apps and services. As has been the case in previous years, hydrogen-fueled vehicles caught our eye as the next wave to watch in the transformation of the market. The joke about hydrogen fueled vehicles has long been that “Hydrogen powered vehicles are always 20 years in the future.” But now, after several years, that 20 years is starting to feel like it might be inching a bit closer. Where electric vehicles were a decade ago, hydrogen vehicles are today. They are something that some companies are dedicating some of their floor space to displaying. Toyota and Honda both have available hydrogen vehicles on display, and are selling hydrogen vehicles to consumers. In addition, GM, in conjunction with the US Army, has a fuel cell powered Colorado variant on display on the lower level as an investigational next-generation HMMV replacement which is slated for field trials later this year. Completely unrelated to attending the auto show, but perhaps a telling sign, while driving home on the highway on Sunday night, I passed a tanker truck carrying a load of liquid hydrogen. Perhaps it’s the shape of things to come.

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The Surprising Green Lining at 2017 NAIAS

VF puts its best foot forward on renewables

December 5, 2016 by  
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Wrangler, North Face and Vans to deliver 100 percent renewable energy by 2025.

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VF puts its best foot forward on renewables

American veterans arrive at Standing Rock to defend Dakota Access Pipeline protesters

December 2, 2016 by  
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United States veterans are mobilizing to protect water protectors at the Dakota Access Pipeline . The first veterans rolled in this week, and over 2,000 more who are part of the group Veterans for Standing Rock aim to arrive this weekend. They plan to gather peacefully, unarmed, according to their GoFundMe , to defend activists from what they describe as militarized law enforcement. Army veteran Wesley Clark and Marine Corps veteran Michael A. Wood, Jr. organized the group Veterans for Standing Rock. They have raised over $850,000 on GoFundMe to help pay for travel expenses. Navy veteran Matthew Crane told Reuters he purchased a one-way ticket to North Dakota, and hopes the protesters and veterans can “shut this down before Christmas.” He also said the veterans were “standing on the shoulders of Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi.” Related: 8 ways to help the water protectors at the Standing Rock Reservation Some veterans condemned the group, saying protests had not been wholly peaceful. President Russ Stabler of the North Dakota Veterans Coordinating Council said joining the protest would mar veteran’s reputations. Meanwhile President-elect Donald Trump said this week he supports finishing the Dakota Access Pipeline. His transition team said in a statement, “We respect all Americans’ first amendment right to peacefully protest, and we hope that local and federal officials continue to give support to local law enforcement so they are able to continue to protect these protesters.” We’re not sure if by “protect” they actually mean “spray protesters with rubber bullets, tear gas, and freezing water.” Thousands of pipeline protesters now face snow and sub-zero temperatures. Items currently on the Sacred Stone Camp’s Amazon wishlist include propane, a snow plow, and a solar generator. Veterans for Standing Rock is still shy of their $1 million goal on GoFundMe; you can donate here . You can also donate money to the official Sacred Stone Camp GoFundMe here . Via Reuters Images via Sacred Stone Camp Facebook and Standing Rock Rising Facebook

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American veterans arrive at Standing Rock to defend Dakota Access Pipeline protesters

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