Carbon dioxide pollution just killed 10 million scallops


By John Upton, Grist

Scallops go well with loads of chili and an after-dinner dose of antacid. It’s just too bad we can’t share our post-gluttony medicine with the oceans that produce our mollusk feasts.

A scallops producer on Vancouver Island in British Columbia just lost three years’ worth of product to high acidity levels. The disaster, which cost the company $10 million and could lead to its closure, is the latest vicious reminder of the submarine impacts of our fossil fuel–heavy energy appetites. As carbon dioxide is soaked up by the oceans, it reacts with water to produce bicarbonate and carbonic acid, increasing ocean acidity.

The Parksville Qualicum Beach News has the latest shellfish-shriveling scoop:

“I’m not sure we are going to stay alive and I’m not sure the oyster industry is going to stay alive,” [Island Scallops CEO Rob] Saunders told The NEWS. “It’s that dramatic.”

Saunders said the carbon dioxide levels have increased dramatically in the waters of the Georgia Strait, forcing the PH levels to 7.3 from their norm of 8.1 or 8.2. … Saunders said the company has lost all the scallops put in the ocean in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

“(The high acidity level means the scallops) can’t make their shells and they are less robust and they are suseptible to infection,” said Saunders, who also said this level of PH in the water is not something he’s seen in his 35 years of shellfish farming.

The deep and nutrient-rich waters off the Pacific Northwest are among those that are especially vulnerable to ocean acidification, and oyster farms in the region have already lost billions of their mollusks since 2005, threatening the entire industry.

So get your shellfish gluttony on now. Our acid reflux is only going to get worse as rising acidity claims more victims.

The united resistance of Fearless Summer — a conversation with Mathew Louis-Rosenberg

(Fearless Summer / Nina Montenegro)
(Fearless Summer / Nina Montenegro)

Bryan Farrell, Waging Non-Violence

This has been a busy summer for climate activists — with actions against the fossil fuel industry taking place on a near daily basis around the country. But busy is not the word they are using. They prefer to describe their efforts this summer as fearless. And why not? They are, after all, facing off against the largest, most profitable industry in the history of the world.

Nevertheless, this fearless action is not without strategy. In fact, the term Fearless Summer is being used to unite climate campaigns across the country that are working to stop fossil fuel extraction and protect communities on the frontlines. By coordinating collective action under the same banner, the aim is to speak as one voice against the fossil fuel industry.

To better understand how Fearless Summer came to be and what it’s accomplishing, I spoke with one of its coordinators, Mathew Louis-Rosenberg, who works in southern West Virginia fighting strip-mining — both with the community organization Coal River Mountain Watch and the direct action campaign Radical Action for Mountains and Peoples Survival.

How did the idea for the Fearless Summer come about?

Fearless Summer grew out of a discussion at the first Extreme Energy Extraction Summit held last February in upstate New York. The summit brought together an incredibly diverse group of 70 activists from across the country fighting against coal, gas, oil, tar sands, uranium and industrial biomass to create a more unified movement against energy extraction. We created shared languages, fostered relationships across the diverse spectrum of groups working on the issues and provided space for dialogue that allows innovative collaborations to form. Fearless Summer was one such collaboration.

Who are the principle organizers and groups involved? And how do you coordinate between one another?

Fearless Summer is an open-ended organizing framework and a call-to-action. So it’s difficult to say who the “principle organizers” are. There has been a core group of folks helping to coordinate and create infrastructure that includes organizers across a wide spectrum of groups, such as Radical Action for Mountains and Peoples Survival, Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, Peaceful Uprising, Food and Water Watch, Green Memes, Tar Sands Blockade, the student divestment movement and others. Coordination work has primarily been done through a listserv and open, weekly conference calls. There is no formal organizing or decision-making structure.

How does this build on last year’s Summer of Solidarity initiative and the actions that have happened since? Do you see it as an escalation?

Fearless Summer was explicitly conceived of as a next step beyond last year’s Summer of Solidarity. I think the intention and scale of Fearless Summer is the escalation. Summer of Solidarity arose out of the organizers of several large actions — the Mountain Mobilization, Coal Export Action, Tar Sands Blockade and Stop the Frack Attack — recognizing that we were all planning big things in a similar timeframe and by working together, primarily through social media, we could amplify each other’s messages rather than compete for attention. The hashtag #ClimateSOS took off and had a life of its own, but coordination never went beyond that core group. Fearless Summer was explicitly launched as an open framework intended to draw in as many groups and actions as possible and came with a clear statement of purpose. This time we engaged a much much wider spectrum of groups and actions under clear principles of unity and escalation. Fearless Summer has gone beyond social media coordination to really create some national dialogue between grassroots groups on presenting a united front on energy issues.

How does Fearless Summer compliment or differ from the many other summer initiatives going on, such as’s Summer Heat and indigenous peoples’ Sovereignty Summer? Did you coordinate with those organizers?

We see these efforts as highly complementary. We are probably most similar to Sovereignty Summer in how we are organized. Many current indigenous sovereignty struggles are deeply connected to struggles against energy industry attacks on native lands and we have been promoting many such struggles through Fearless Summer. We have also been talking extensively with organizers about the connections with Summer Heat, which is obviously different due to the central coordination through and a much more focused timeframe. Fearless Summer is an open framework for action through the summer, so any other similar organizing efforts strengthen the goals of Fearless Summer regardless of how coordinated they are with us.

How many actions have taken place under the Fearless Summer banner so far?

It’s really difficult to say. The trouble with an unstaffed, unfunded, open collaboration is that it’s hard to keep up with where people are taking things. Our kickoff week of action in June had at least 28 actions in six days and there have been dozens more outside of that. At least 50-60.

What actions are coming up?

To be honest, I don’t know. There’s still a lot going on. We’re hosting an action camp in West Virginia and I’ve heard whispers of big plans in other parts of the country, but at this point people are just taking the framework and running with it as we intended.

What are the plans for the fall and beyond?

Those conversations are happening right now. I think people want to see coordination move to the next level of acting together nationally on some common targets more and there’s also a lot of talk about connecting more with other social justice issues and talking about root causes. The second Extreme Energy Extraction Summit is coming up September 6-10 and a lot of discussion will happen there.

Are you feeling optimistic about the larger climate justice movement at the moment?

I am feeling optimistic about the movement. We see more and more communities getting active. It’s getting harder and harder for the energy industry to find anywhere to operate without resistance. And it’s having an impact. The president’s speech and climate plan, despite its deep flaws, speak to the impact we are having. Four years ago, Obama was telling student leaders that he couldn’t do anything without a large scale public pressure movement. We have that now. I think we have a long way to go still. A lot of work still needs to be done to engage a wider base, connect with other struggles around justice and root causes of climate change, and articulate a policy platform that solves the climate crisis in a just and honest way. On the action front, we are still a long way from where the nuclear freeze movement was — with thousands occupying power plants and test sites — doing jail solidarity and really creating a concrete problem for the industry beyond public relations.

If momentum continues to build in the next year, where do you see it coming from? And what might the work of activists look like next summer?

I’m not sure what the big catalyst could be. So far the growth of the movement has mostly been in a proliferation of local campaigns. I think it’s going to take a lot of national dialogue to knit those into collective action for collective wins. My hope is that by next year we will be seeing mass direct action that truly challenges the ability of legal systems to respond and corporations to operate. We need more people acting like their children’s lives are on the line. Because they are.

When Drones Guard the Pipeline: Militarizing Fossil Fuels in the East

Winona LaDuke, Indian Country Today Media Network

Someone needs to explain to me why wanting clean drinking water makes you an activist, and why proposing to destroy water with chemical warfare doesn’t make a corporation a terrorist.

I’m in South Dakota today, sort of a ground zero for the Keystone XL Pipeline, that pipeline, owned by a Canadian Corporation which will export tar sands oil to the rest of the world. This is the heart of the North American continent here. Bwaan Akiing is what we call this land-Land of the Lakota. There are no pipelines across it, and beneath it is the Oglalla Aquifer wherein lies the vast majority of the water for this region. The Lakota understand that water is life, and that there is no new water. It turns out, tar sands carrying pipelines (otherwise called “dilbit”) are 16 times more likely to break than a conventional pipeline, and it seems that some ranchers and Native people, in a new Cowboy and Indian Alliance, are intent upon protecting that water.

This community understands the price of protecting land. And, the use of military force upon a civilian community- carrying an acute memory of the over 133,000 rounds of ammunition fired by the National Guard upon Lakota people forty years ago in the Wounded Knee standoff. That experience is coming home again, this time in Mi’gmaq territory.

Militarization of North American Oil Fields

This past week in New Brunswick, the Canadian military came out to protect oil companies. In this case, seismic testing for potential natural gas reserves by Southwestern Energy Company (SWN), a Texas-based company working in the province. It’s an image of extreme energy, and perhaps the times.

SWN exercised it’s permit to conduct preliminary testing to assess resource potential for shale gas exploitation. Canadian constitutional law requires the consultation with First Nations, and this has not occurred. That’s when Elsipogtog Mi’gmaq warrior chief, John Levi, seized a vehicle containing seismic testing equipment owned by SWN. Their claim is that fracking is illegal without their permission on their traditional territory. About 65 protesters, including women and children, seized the truck at a gas station and surrounded the vehicle so that it couldn’t be removed from the parking lot. Levi says that SWN broke the law when they first started fracking “in our traditional hunting grounds, medicine grounds, contaminating our waters.” according to reporter Jane Mundy in an on-line Lawyers and Settlements publication. This may be just the beginning.

On June 9, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) came out en masse, seemingly to protect SWN seismic exploration crews against peaceful protesters – both native and non-Native, blocking route 126 from seismic thumper trucks. Armed with guns, paddy wagons and twist tie restraints, peaceful protestors were arrested. Four days later the protesting continued, and this time drew the attention of local military personnel. As one Mi’gmag said, “Just who is calling the shots in New Brunswick when the value of the land and water take a backseat to the risks associated with shale gas development?”

The militarization of the energy fields is not new. It’s just more apparent when it’s in a first world country, albeit New Brunswick. New Brunswick is sort of the El Salvador of Canadian provinces, if one looks at the economy, run akin to an oligarchy. New Brunswick’s Irving family empire stretches from oil and gas to media, they are the largest employer in New Brunswick and the primary proponents of the Trans Canada West to East pipeline which will bring tar sands oil to the St. Johns refinery owned by the same family. Irving is the fourth wealthiest family in Canada, the largest employer, land holder and amasses that wealth in the relatively poor province. The Saint John refinery would be a beneficiary of any natural gas fracked in the province. In general, press coverage of Aboriginal issues there is sparse at best.

Fracking proposals have come to their territory with a vengeance, and the perfect political storm has emerged- immense material poverty (seven of the ten poorest postal codes in Canada), a set of starve or sell federal agreements pushed by the Harper administration (onto first nations), and extreme energy drives.

Each fracking well will take up to two-million-gallons of pristine water and transform the water into a toxic soup, full of carcinogens. The subsistence economy has been central to the Wabanaki confederacy since time immemorial, and concerns over SWN’s water contamination have come to the province. A recent Arkansas lawsuit against SWN charges the company with widespread toxic contamination of drinking water from their hydro-fracking.

Canada is the home to 75% of the worlds mining corporations, and they have tended to have relative impunity in the Canadian Courts. Canadian corporations and their international subsidiaries are being protected by military forces elsewhere, and this concerns many. According to a U.K. Guardian story, a Québec court of appeal rejected a suit by citizens of the Democratic Republic of the Congo against Montreal-based Anvil Mining Limited for allegedly providing logistical support to the DRC army as it carried out a massacre, killing as many as 100 people in the town of Kilwa near the company’s silver and copper mine. The Supreme Court of Canada later confirmed that Canadian courts had no jurisdiction over the company’s actions in the DRC when it rejected the plaintiffs’ request to appeal. Kairos Canada, a faith-based organization, concluded that the Supreme Court’s ruling would “have broader implications for other victims of human rights abuses committed by Canadian companies and their chances of bringing similar cases to our courts”.

In the meantime, back in New Brunswick, a heavily militarized RCMP came out to protect the exploration crews. Opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline has many faces, from ranchers in Nebraska and Texas who reject eminent domain takings of their land for a pipeline right of way, to the Lakota nation which walked out of State Department meetings in May in a show of firm opposition to the pipeline. All of them are facing a pipeline owned by TransCanada, a Canadian Corporation.

On a worldwide scale communities are concerned about their water. In El Salvador, more than 60% of the population relies on a single source of water. In 2009, this came down to choosing between drinking water and mining. In 2009, after immense public pressure, the country chose water. It established a moratorium on metal mining permits. Polls show that a strong majority of Salvadorans would now like a permanent ban. A testament to how things can change even in a politically challenged environment.

Up in Canada’s version of El Salvador, twelve people, both native and non were arrested, some detained and interrogated by investigators of the RCMP forces on June l4, and after a day of the federal military “making their presence” felt, the people of the region have concerns about how far Canada will go to protect fossil fuels.

Here in Bwaan Akiing, I am hoping that people who want to protect the water are treated with respect. And, I also have to hope that those 7,000-plus American-owned drones aren’t coming home, omaa akiing, from elsewhere to our territories in the name of Canadian oil interests.

Winona LaDuke is the Executive Director of Honor the Earth in White Earth Reservation, Minnesota. Visit their website at