Category: Big Picture

Carbon Emissions From 30 of the World’s Largest Cities Are Already Dropping Since Signing Climate Pact

C40 CITIES and GOOD NEW NETWORK – The world’s leading scientists have calculated that global greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2020 in order to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C. New analysis published ahead of the C40 World Mayors Summit confirms that 30 of the world’s largest cities, representing more than 58 million urban citizens, have now reached this crucial milestone.

The US Is Spending $1.25 Trillion Annually on War

WILLIAM D. HARTUNG and MANDY SMITHBERGER – There are at least 10 separate pots of money dedicated to fighting wars, preparing for yet more wars, and dealing with the consequences of wars already fought. So the next time a president, a general, a secretary of defense, or a hawkish member of Congress insists that the U.S. military is woefully underfunded, think twice. A careful look at U.S. defense expenditures offers a healthy corrective to such wildly inaccurate claims.

Virgin Plastic Pellets are the Biggest Pollution Disaster You’ve Never Heard Of

ZOE SCHLANGER – “Pellets make up the second most common type of microplastic that we find, second to fragments which break down from things that are bigger,” says Sherri Mason, a plastics pollution researcher at Pennsylvania State University who has published foundational studies on microplastics found in freshwater. She spends much of her time collecting and counting bits of plastic in the environment. “I can go to any beach, give me five minutes and I’ll find a nurdle,” she says. “Along a river, 10 minutes. Once you know what a nurdle looks like you find them everywhere.”

2019’s States with the Most Underprivileged Children

ADAM MCCANN – In an ideal world, all children would live worry-free and have access to their basic needs: nutritious food, a good education, quality health care and a secure home. Emotionally, they all would feel safe and be loved and supported by caring adults. When all such needs are met, children have a better chance of a stable and happy adult life. But in reality, not every child is so privileged — even in the richest and most powerful nation in the world.

‘Completely Terrifying’: Study Warns Carbon-Saturated Oceans Headed Toward Tipping Point That Could Unleash Mass Extinction Event

JULIA CONLEY – The continuous accumulation of carbon dioxide in the planet’s oceans—which shows no sign of stopping due to humanity’s relentless consumption of fossil fuels—is likely to trigger a chemical reaction in Earth’s carbon cycle similar to those which happened just before mass extinction events, according to a new study.

Let’s Not Spend $1.7 Trillion on Our Nukes, a Group of N.J. Professors Says. Let’s Get Rid of Them, and the Threat of a Catastrophic War.

ZIA MIAN, ALAN ROBOCK and SHARON WEINER – On May 23rd, the New Jersey General Assembly approved Resolution 230, urging the federal government to pursue a broad range of measures to reduce the danger of nuclear war and to join the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. California and some American cities have already adopted similar resolutions to call for action in Washington on nuclear weapons. Here’s why.

Keep Your Eye on HR1 – the Most Consequential Pro-Democracy Legislation in Half a Century

ROBERT WEISSMAN – Our democracy is in a double crisis. We face the immediate threat posed every day by Donald Trump, with his combination of unprecedented corruption, disdain for the rule of law and autocratic governance. We also face the deeper rooted problems of Big Money dominance of our elections, shocking voter suppression, extreme gerrymandering and outrageous corporate influence over the policymaking process. After the 2018 election, we have the chance to do something about this double crisis

Facebook’s New Propaganda Partners

FAIRNESS AND ACCURACY IN REPORTING (FAIR) — That a single corporation — Facebook — has a monopoly over the flow of worldwide news is already problematic, but the increasing meshing of corporate and US government control over the means of communication is particularly worrying. All those who believe in free and open exchange of information should oppose Facebook becoming a tool of US foreign policy.

Jordan Cove LNG Campaign Contributions Raise Questions

TED SICKINGER – Controversy over foreign meddling in the 2016 Election has been swirling around Washington D.C. since the day Donald Trump was elected president. But some southern Oregon residents are convinced they’ve got their own case of foreign interference. And if it’s not OK for the Russians, they say, why would it be OK for Canadians?

In an internal memo, the White House considered whether to simply ‘ignore’ federal climate research

CHRIS MOONEY and JULIET EILPERIN – White House officials last year weighed whether to simply “ignore” climate studies produced by government scientists or to instead develop “a coherent, fact-based message about climate science,” according to a memo obtained by The Washington Post. The document, drafted Sept. 18 by Michael Catanzaro, President Trump’s special assistant for domestic energy and environmental policy at the time, highlights the dilemma the administration has faced over climate change since Trump took office. Even as Trump’s deputies have worked methodically to uproot policies aimed at curbing the nation’s carbon output, the administration’s agencies continue to produce reports showing that climate change is happening, is human-driven and is a threat to the United States.

Putin Takes Ax to Military Spending

FRED WEIR – Amid the current worries in the West over Russia, the idea that Russia would be cutting its military spending seems counterintuitive to us. But that’s just what Vladimir Putin is doing with his new budget, in which plans for a major infrastructure boost are coming at the expense of some of the Kremlin’s more ambitious defense projects.

Federal Judge’s Unprecedented Order on Climate Science ‘Could Open Floodgates’ for Big Oil Lawsuits

JESSICA CORBETT – With a decision that could have far-reaching implications, a federal judge in California has ordered the first ever U.S. court hearing on climate science for a “public nuisance” lawsuit, meaning that major oil and gas companies for the first time may have to go on the record regarding what they knew about the planetary impacts of their products—and when.

Meet the Well-Funded Players Working Hard to Thwart Oregon’s Climate Progress

ERIC DE PLACE and PAELINA DESTEPHANO -Oregon is on the cusp of a climate protection breakthrough in 2018. The state legislature is weighing the Clean Energy Jobs bill, a remarkable opportunity to join its West Coast neighbors in lowering carbon pollution while raising money to invest in clean energy and transportation. The money raised would also provide assistance for low-income state residents. (Sightline’s Kristin Eberhard wrote an excellent summary of the legislation.) Nevertheless, Oregon’s climate proposal has garnered backlash from a range of shadowy conservative groups determined to halt the bill’s progress. Many of these organizations are linked to anti-tax and anti-union politics, and many seem specifically designed to obscure their backers and operations from public view. It’s a rogues’ gallery of climate-protection opponents in Oregon, and Sightline takes a hard look at who’s who in this movement and casts some light into the shadows.

Trump “Nuclear Posture” Approves New Warheads & Factories; Opens the Door to Testing

TRI-VALLEY CARES – On January 10th, the Huffington Post leaked a draft of the Trump Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, a Pentagon document that dictates the overall strategy for United States nuclear forces. The leaked document, which is rumored to be the final draft, demonstrates an aggressive shift from the Obama posture review by mandating “more usable” low-yield nuclear weapons, doubling down on building new bomb plants, and lowering the threshold to resume nuclear weapons testing.