Category Archives: Environmental

What Is Civil Disobedience — And Why Are Governments Cracking Down?

The definition of civil disobedience is simple: it is the act of breaking the law — albeit in a peaceful way — in order to peacefully protest. For example, protesters might decide to block off a busy road without legal permission to be there. Inevitably, many of these protesters will be arrested for misdemeanors after breaking the law. But by breaking the law in full view of cameras all over the world, the hope is that they get their point across by doing so. 

A new policing bill in the UK has been attacked for threatening the right to peacefully protest by making civil disobedience — already against the law — more difficult.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill seeks to “strengthen police powers to tackle non-violent protests that have a significant disruptive effect on the public or an access to Parliament.”

Maximum sentencing guidelines for memorial vandalism have been increased from three months to ten years incarceration in order to deter this type of behavior. 

Opponents point to overreach in the new bill. Authorities are now allowed to break up or restrict the right to protest based on noise. In other words, if the police say you’re too loud, then they can lawfully disperse the crowd. 

More than 150 organizations have penned a letter urging lawmakers to rethink the aggressive bill, describing it as “an attack on some of the most fundamental rights of citizens.” Ironically, “Kill the Bill” protests have broken out in response to its passage. A petition calling for the immediate repeal of the bill has garnered over 200,000 signatures.

Labour MP David Lammy said, “by giving police the powers to use these powers some of the time, it takes away our freedom all of the time.”

The Home Office fought back against opposition, suggesting that “the majority of protests in England and Wales are lawful and will be unaffected by these changes.”

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Are Social Media Giants Helping Indian Authorities Wage War Against Climate Activists?

Climate activists have rarely put the government of India in the position of international hero — but then again, climate activists all over the world are pissed off at their respective governments. Why shouldn’t they be? Politics are putting the future of our world at risk. They shouldn’t force us to delay investment into renewable energy solutions just because a few holdouts can stomach the idea.

Last month, Naomi Klein for The Intercept wrote about a climate activist named Disha Ravi: “A nature-loving 22-year-old vegan climate activist who against all odds has found herself ensnared in an Orwellian legal saga that includes accusation of sedition, incitement, and involvement in an international conspiracy whose elements include…Indian farmers in revolve, the global pop star Rihanna, supposed plots against yoga and chai, Sikh separatism, and Greta Thunberg.”

Ravi had spent more than a week in prison while she was interrogated about her alleged part in these crackpot conspiracy theories when a judge granted her bail. But he actually wrote an 18-page ruling to rant about the government’s part in accusing this youthful, innocent activist without actual proof.

Social media giants like Facebook and Twitter have now been accused of playing a role in helping the Indian government lock up activists like Ravi — and for no good reason.

One anonymous digital rights activist told Naomi, “The silence of these companies speaks volumes. They have to take a stand, and they have to do it now.”

The judge who presided over Ravi’s case wrote: “Citizens are conscience keepers of government in any democratic Nation. They cannot be put behind the bars simply because they choose to disagree with the state policies.”

Part of the government’s case against Ravi hinged on Ravi sharing a digital “toolkit” with Greta Thunberg, a famous climate rights activist. These toolkits are basically just organizational suggestions. Tweet this, hashtag that, etc. The judge said that sharing the toolkit amounted to “the freedom of speech and expression [and included] the right to seek a global audience.”

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Jeff Bezos Pledges $10 Billion Toward Fight Against Man-Made Climate Change

Big tech companies are making huge strides for humanity’s sake — and often their own, which is why many news outlets are reporting Jeff Bezos’s big announcement with a wee bit of snark. Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and even Amazon are trying to shower the globe with wireless internet while eradicating disease or fighting to keep humans healthy for more years. Renewable energy is now cheaper to make than new coal and oil, in part because of the work done by those money-making entities.

That’s why it should come as little surprise that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has announced a $10 billion seed in a new push against man-made climate change. That’s a huge investment, but still well under 10 percent of his entire fortune of $130 billion. He’s the richest man on the planet.

Bezos described his efforts: “We can save Earth. It’s going to take collective action from big companies, small companies, nation states, global organizations, and individuals.”

He hasn’t explained exactly what the money is going to be used for, but he wants to fund anyone and anything that might be useful in the fight to reverse the already catastrophic effects of climate change.

He took to Instagram to announce his investment: “Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet. I want to work alongside others both to amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change on this planet we all share. This global initiative will fund scientists, activists, NGOs — any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world.”

Bezos is best known for Amazon, but he also owns Blue Origin, a company that aims to spread humans throughout the solar system to increase the resource at our disposal. He once said that he wants his descendants to live in a world with a “thousand Einsteins.” People like Bezos are key to making it happen.

Part of his reasoning for funding Blue Origin is common sense. Once we’re a spacefaring species, most industry will likely move off-planet (and pollution with it). When that happens, Earth could see a greener revolution than anyone expects. No more burning coal and oil, no more smog in our skies. Just residential neighborhoods and an increased focus on connecting to Mother Nature at every chance.

This is most definitely worth fighting for. In fact, it’s what most of this site’s followers believe in most — saving our planet. We hope the new initiative works.

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Amazon Under Fire For Warning Climate Activists They Would Be Terminated

Despite recently enacting laws to allow its employees to more easily verify what can and cannot be said on public forums (while identified as an employee), Amazon is under fire for threatening climate activists who failed to abide by the policy. The employees were engaged in a struggle to urge Amazon to reassess its environmental impacts and take action to reduce the company’s carbon footprint immediately.

But Amazon threatened to fire those who spoke out. 

At least two employees were warned that they could be terminated for violating company policies by speaking to journalists or posting on social media. Amazon Employees for Climate Justice said that at least four employees were counseled to refrain from making certain kinds of comments in public.

One of the employees, Maren Costa, recently spoke with the Washington Post. A spokesperson for Amazon Employees for Climate Justice said, “This is not the time to shoot the messengers. This is not the time to silence those who are speaking out.”

It’s worth noting, however, that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos also owns the Washington Post

Amazon ensured those concerned about the purported threats that Amazon employees have always been asked to comply with company guidelines, and that the guidelines in question weren’t new. Amazon spokesperson Jaci Anderson said that employees were free to ask for or provide insight into “improvement to how we operate through those internal channels.”

Amazon HR representative Eric Sjoding said in an email to Costa, “I encourage you to review the policy again and in the future anytime you may consider speaking about Amazon’s business in a public forum.”

Amazon employees are barred from making disparaging remarks about the company in public while identified as an Amazon employee — but nothing bars them from doing so anonymously. Many companies and corporations have similar guidelines to prevent employees from placing the company in a bad light. 

After a September walkout, though, Amazon amended this policy to allow employees to request approval for comments they sought to make in public forums. This policy was implemented in 2019. 

The walkout was organized in response to Amazon’s alleged sidestepping of environmentally dangerous policies. A resolution was put forth to change policies, but it was swiftly rejected by shareholders. 

Still, Amazon apparently responded to the suggestions. The company announced a long-term plan to go entirely carbon neutral in 20 years, and use only renewable energy to operate within 10. The announcement was made only a day before workers walked out (alongside many other climate activists around the world).

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Extinction Rebellion Protesters Geared Up For Big Fight With Legislators Worldwide

Much of the news resulting from the Extinction Rebellion protests is coming out of the United Kingdom, but there are chapters in motion all over the world — including here at home in Manhattan, Los Angeles, and Miami. A few days ago, protesters were spread out to impede Manchester’s Deansgate to shed light on what they believe are contradictions between policy and action. The city recently declared a climate emergency, but that hasn’t stopped it from putting into motion a big expansion of its airport.

The rebellion has experienced a bit of traction in recent days. 

Protesters gathered outside the offices of the New York Times newspaper a couple days ago because of next month’s Oil and Money conference scheduled to take place at the InterContinental Hotel in London. CEOs of big oil companies and moguls from OPEC are expected to attend the event.

In response to the noise made outside their offices, the New York Times quickly decided “to end its relationship with the Oil and Money conference,” according to a newspaper spokesperson.

She continued: “We want there to be no question of our independence or even potential appearance of a conflict of interest. Over the last several years [the New York Times] has significantly expanded its reporting on climate change and its impact, as well as broader investigative and explanatory coverage of energy and environmental policy.”

Another round of protests were quickly organized in response to the sweeping fires in the Amazon. “Act for the Amazon” protests swamped the Brazilian consulate in Miami. Extinction Rebellion Miami’s local coordinator, Nicholas Vazquez, said, “This is an international call to action. It’s the fire, but it’s also more. Brazil needs to end its deforestation project to prevent future desolation. Prayers are not enough.”

Protests are becoming more common in Los Angeles for similar reasons — wildfires across the Midwestern United States aren’t just becoming more common, they’re also becoming stronger and doing billions more dollars worth of damage.

Businesses aren’t happy about the Extinction Rebellion’s tendency to block roads and bridges to make its point or create needed change. Contractor Joe Connor said he didn’t believe in the threat of climate change: “I don’t think it’s a proven fact to be honest. Yes we have had a rainy summer but I used to live in Los Angeles, where we would have big downpours in the summer too, and that was years ago.”

Pink leaflets were handed out by protesters in Manchester as a way to apologize for the inconvenience: “For the human race to survive, we need big changes fast. There are solutions that are economically and culturally possible in a short space of time. But we need the government to make changes now, and they are not listening.”

Valiente’s criminal attorneys handle personal injury, DUI, and family law in addition to criminal law. If you were injured or arrested during civil rights protests anywhere in Miami-Dade County, they can help you mount an expert defense!

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Women Who Are Changing Our World With Their Environmental Activism

There is no planet B is a popular catchphrase of one of our sister sites, Teach Climate Change. With that being said, there are four extraordinary women who are raising awareness of global environmental issues and are making a difference and impacting policy changes across the globe.

Clair Nouvian
Founder of BLOOM

Nouvian was the winner of the 2018 Goldman Environmental Prize. A former journalist, she became involved in activism after seeing the devastation of deep-sea bottom trawling and forming the nonprofit conservation organization BLOOM in 2005. Her main goal is to protect the deep blue sea by understanding the connection between shark consumption habits and deep-sea fisheries.

Pashon Murray
Co-founder of Detroit Dirt

Murray’s environmentalism is all about waste reduction, recycling and the reuse of materials. She began her adventure by starting a compost by collecting waste from plant-eating animals at the Detroit Zoo and food waste from local restaurants and General Motor’s headquarters. Her goal is to raise awareness about Detroit’s overall carbon footprint. She also wants to find solutions for everyday waste and lower trips to the landfill by bringing composting into neighborhoods.

Nguy Thi Khanh
Director of the Green Innovation and Development Centre Vietnam

After witnessing her friends and family develop cancer by growing up next to a coal plant in Northern Vietnam, she began promoting sustainable energy development in her country. In 2011, she founded the Green Innovation and Development Centre (GreenID) to do just that. She also helped establish the Vietnam Sustainable Energy Alliance which helps communities reduce pollution into local rivers, turn waste into energy, and change to more sustainable energy like solar. She is also a winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize.

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Daryl Hannah’s Contribution to Environmental Activism

There are those who are willing to fight for environmental protections at great personal cost, and Daryl Hannah is one such individual. She is an actress who has been arrested on more than one occasion in order to prevent activities by those who may have a harmful impact on our world and its fragile ecosystems. She is best known as the character “Elle” (the deadly one-eyed nurse) from Kill Bill. Hannah’s exploration into ways to prevent man-made climate change is noteworthy for several contributions.

She records her own video blog “DHLoveLife” in order to help promote potential solutions for a better, more sustainable society moving away from the burning of fossil fuels. Viewers will recognize that she had her home built “green” and it is directly powered by solar energy, a solution which more and more people are getting on board with each year. On top of that, she is vegan and drives a vehicle that uses biodiesel.

Thankfully, solar advancement doubles every two years thanks to activism such as hers. Futurist Ray Kurzweil even predicts worldwide solar domination by 2028. Solar had just a half percent market share in 2012, one percent in 2014, and two percent in 2016. Do the math:

4% in 2018.

8% in 2020.

16% in 2022.

32% in 2024.

64% in 2026.

Total coverage by 2028.

Although this seems impossible, the principle is found in almost every aspect of information technology (consider the very similar Moore’s Law, for example). Many of these technologies double about once every eighteen months. Many of Kurzweil’s “crazy” predictions have come true in the past.

Hannah has done her part by promoting several programs devoted to clean energy alternatives. She participated in the iMatter March in 2011 and the Ride For Renewables project, then executively produced the documentary Greedy Lying Bastards to showcase the corporate connection to climate change denial. She also wrote letters to former President Barack Obama to ask that he cut his support for the Keystone XL pipeline. She was eventually arrested for blocking construction equipment for that same pipeline, and then again in front of the White House for protesting its construction (notably with Robert F. Kennedy).

She continues to participate in the World Future Council, a Hamburg organization dedicated to push forward policy that benefits those who will grow up in future generations–especially when it comes to environmental protections.

Although most of Hannah’s contributions to activism are environmental in nature, she is also a key player in the fight against sex trafficking and sexual slavery that still occurs worldwide. She travels the globe in order to document this terrible atrocity. If there were more people that devoted themselves to such causes, we might be living in a totally different world.

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Al Gore’s Contribution To Environmental Activism

For a long time now, Al Gore’s name has been synonymous with that of environmental activism, albeit usually in a comical context (for good reason). The former Vice President of the United States probably became more famous after he left that job for greener pastures. Just kidding. Those pastures are now devoid of life and desertification has expanded exponentially. Al Gore would like nothing more than to prevent our world’s journey towards a barren wasteland.

His contributions to environmental activism were always abundantly obvious because he’s fought so hard to make global climate change a hot topic of discussion for the media, politicians, and society at large on a world stage. In 2007, Gore and Richard Branson teamed up to create the Virgin Earth Challenge. Any individual or organization can participate in the competition which provides a $25 million prize for anyone who can figure out how to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere (and yes, that stuff really does up the planet). To date, no one has claimed the prize.

Perhaps more shocking is Gore’s insinuation that it may be time to resort to more drastic measures in order to help prevent more carbon from being poured into the atmosphere. He has suggested the possibility of “civil disobedience” in order to prevent companies from engaging in activity that could harm the environment. Sure, he’s not exactly suggesting outright anarchy, but he is strongly implying that we should be willing to break the law to help protect our planet from eventual destruction, something surprising to hear from a former VP–even if it is common for acting presidents, these days.

Veganism is probably one of the most controversial decisions you can make for yourself in 2017. If you come out as gay, then you’re more likely to be accepted by society than you are for making dietary choices for moral and ethical reasons. Whether or not that’s a welcome change is for you to decide. Gore decided to become a vegan in 2013 because he knows that our cattle production is a big part of the environmental crisis. Cattle require a lot of lands to raise, and they leave that land devoid of plant life. Desertification is a result of this process.

Gore recently lobbied for the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina to end construction of a coal power plant that would endanger a nearby forest. He has also in the past been involved with a Climate Reality Project for an expedition to the Antarctic, a Repower America initiative focusing on green, renewable energy, and hundreds of lectures on the subject of manmade climate change. For the foreseeable future, we can count on Al Gore to continue to use the spotlight for the advantage of environmental activists everywhere.

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