Category Archives: Agriculture

Trump Rollback of Key EPA Water Protection Rule Denounced as ‘Callous’ and ‘Immoral’ Giveaway to Big Polluters

“This is shameful and dangerous.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-12-2019

As the Trump administration repealed the 2015 Clean Water Rule Thursday, one critic warned that “the EPA’s callous decision endangers communities and threatens our environment.” (Photo: Varanos/Flickr/cc)

Environmental and public health advocates blasted the Trump administration Thursday for finalizing its rollback of an Obama-era regulation designed to curb the pollution of waterways nationwide.

“Fifty years after the Cuyahoga River fire that inspired the Clean Water Act, President Trump’s administration wants to turn back the clock to the days of poisoned flammable water,” declared Abigail Dillen, president of the non-profit legal group Earthjustice. “This is shameful and dangerous.” Continue reading

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How climate change is driving emigration from Central America

A farmer carries firewood during the dry season in Nicaragua, one of the Central American countries affected by a recent drought. Neil Palmer for CIAT/flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

Miranda Cady Hallett, University of Dayton

Clouds of dust rose behind the wheels of the pickup truck as we hurtled over the back road in Palo Verde, El Salvador. When we got to the stone-paved part of the road, the driver slowed as the truck heaved up and down with the uneven terrain. Riding in the back bed of the truck, Ruben (not his real name) and I talked while we held on tight, sitting on sacks of dried beans that he was taking to market.

“It doesn’t come out right,” he said, “it just doesn’t pay anymore to work the land. I take out a loan for seed, and then I can’t count on making it back to pay off my debt.” Continue reading

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Tipping Point: UN Biodiversity Chief Warns Burning of Amazon Could Lead to ‘Cascading Collapse of Natural Systems’

“If we don’t work together, we are going to die together.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-30-2019

The fires engulfing the Amazon rain forest are a sign that the Earth is approaching an environmental and ecological “tipping point” that all of humanity must work together to avoid, the U.N.’s top biodiversity expert said Friday. (Photo: ©Victor Moriyama/Greenpeace)

Unless world governments, consumers, and businesses all work together to address the root causes of the current burning of the Amazon rain forest, the Arctic, and forests in the Congo and Angola, the planet will continue careening toward a point of no return, the U.N.’s top biodiversity expert said Friday.

Cristiana Paşca Palmer, executive secretary of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity, called the fires that have torn through more than 1,300 square miles of the Amazon this year “extraordinarily concerning.” Continue reading

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As New Fires Rage in Amazon, Global Calls for Urgent Action to Avert ‘Astronomical’ Impacts to ‘Life on Earth’

Pope Francis urges protection of “that lung of forests” and French President Macron says G7 nations pledged help at summit

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-25-2019

The latest official figures show 79,513 forest fires have been recorded in the country this year, the highest number of any year since 2013. More than half of those are in the massive Amazon basin. Experts say increased land clearing during the months-long dry season to make way for crops or grazing has aggravated the problem this year. Photo: @capnfrenchie/Twitter

Brazil’s army on Sunday deployed aircraft to battle the raging fires in the Amazon as global concern and outrage over the potential consequences—and the destructive causes—of the disaster grow.

The military operations involving C-130 aircraft to put out fires came after Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro triggered global protests over his government’s policies and failure to take swift action to combat the flames. Continue reading

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Health and Labor Groups Sue Trump EPA for Refusal to Ban Pesticide Linked to Brain Damage in Children

“Farmworkers, families, and developing children must be safe from chlorpyrifos.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-8-2019

The Environmental Protection Agency ended household use of chlorpyrifos in 2000 but still allowed famers to use it on crops, including corn. (Photo: Pixabay)

A coalition of health and labor organizations sued the Trump administration on Wednesday over the Environmental Protection Agency’s refusal last month to ban chlorpyrifos, a pesticide tied to brain damage in children.

Represented by nonprofit environmental legal firm Earthjustice, the 11 groups filed a petition for review (pdf) in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, challenging EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s July decision to reject the call from environmental groups for a ban on the pesticide. Continue reading

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New BLM Appointee Brings Conflicts of Interest and Plans to Sell Off Public Lands to Agency Charged With Protecting Them

“It’s hard to imagine anyone in this position more dangerous than William Perry Pendley.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-30-2019

Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona is among the public lands which could be threatened by the appointment of William Perry Pendley to oversee the Bureau of Land Management. (Photo: Bureau of Land Management/Flickr/cc)

Control over nearly 250 million acres of public lands was placed Monday in the hands of a former Reagan administration official who has argued that all federal lands should be sold to fossil fuel and other corporate interests in accordance with the goals of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt appointed attorney William Perry Pendley as acting head of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), sending fears throughout conservation groups that many of the country’s minerals and resources will soon be handed over to oil and gas companies. Continue reading

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US House Applauded for Approval of ‘Sweeping’ Provisions That Target Toxic ‘Forever Chemicals’

As part of the annual defense spending bill, lawmakers passed several amendments on PFAS, including one that would designate them “hazardous substances” under the Superfund law

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-12-2019

The U.S. House just passed several measures targeting so-called “forever chemicals” that experts warn have likely contaminated the drinking water of millions of Americans. (Photo: Bart/Flickr/cc)

Public health and environmental advocates celebrated a victory Friday as the U.S. House approved an amendment in the annual defense spending bill that would designate a class of “forever chemicals” as “hazardous substances” under the federal Superfund law.

The amendment was one of several provisions targeting toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances—collectively called PFAS—that the Democratic-controlled House passed this week as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020. Continue reading

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Ahead of Trump ‘Utter Fantasy’ Speech on Environmental Record, DC Flooding Sparks Warnings on Danger of Climate Inaction

“We don’t have time for more lies. We must address the climate crisis now,” says Sen. Bernie Sanders

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-8-2019

A flash flood emergency in Washington left roads submerged and cars stranded as heavy rains poured over the region. Photo: CNN screenshot

Flooding in Washington, D.C. on Monday prompted calls for climate action as well as renewed scorn for the Trump administration’s abysmal environmental record.

The heavy rains came the morning President Donald Trump gave an afternoon speech in which he boasted of supposed environmental accomplishments. “Is this a joke?” said Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “It’s like an arsonist talking about how valuable his work is to the fire department.” Continue reading

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Citing $69 Trillion Price Tag by 2100, Moody’s Warns Central Banks of Far-Reaching Economic Damage of Climate Crisis

“There is no denying it: The longer we wait to take bold action to curb emissions, the higher the costs will be for all of us.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-3-2019

Arid soils are shown in Mauritania in 2012, when crops failed because of a severe drought which led to a food crisis that impacted millions of people across West Africa. (Photo: Oxfam International/Flickr/cc)

Noting previous warnings that the human-caused climate crisis could cause trillions of dollars in damage to the global economy by the end of the century, a new report from Moody’s Analytics explores the economic implications of the international community’s failure to curb planet-warming emissions.

Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi told The Washington Post—which first reported on the new analysis—that this is “the first stab at trying to quantify what the macroeconomic consequences might be” of the global climate crisis, and it comes in response to European commercial banks and central banks. The climate emergency is “not a cliff event. It’s not a shock to the economy. It’s more like a corrosive,” Zandi added. But it is “getting weightier with each passing year.” Continue reading

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Convicts are returning to farming – anti-immigrant policies are the reason

Migrant agricultural workers kept out of the US by tough immigration laws are now being replaced by prison labor. Shutterstock

Stian Rice, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Prison inmates are picking fruits and vegetables at a rate not seen since Jim Crow.

Convict leasing for agriculture – a system that allows states to sell prison labor to private farms – became infamous in the late 1800s for the brutal conditions it imposed on captive, mostly black workers.

Federal and state laws prohibited convict leasing for most of the 20th century, but the once-notorious practice is making a comeback. Continue reading

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