Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Amazon Rainforest Is Burning


The Amazon Rainforest fire is just one of several recent crises that highlight the need for real swft and bold action against climate change.

Yes, people--this is really happening. The largest rain forest in the world is on fire. Yet the lead on the news is about stock markets and politics. It is a telling sign of just how disconnected we have become with the planet we live on.

For years, scientists have been warning us that we need to drastically reduce our carbon emissions to even try to preserve a habitable planet for future generations to live on. Yet it seems we have political parties around the world who basically scoff at the notion of doing anything about it. Some cling to their religious beliefs their deity won’t let it happen. Others dismiss scientific finding out of hand when it suits their agenda.

“I’m not a scientist. I am interested in protecting Kentucky’s economy. I’m interested in having low cost electricity.” — Mitch McConnell

Here in the United States, that party is the Republican Party. Here are a few gems from some of their politicians:
Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky
Senate majority leader, said he was “distressed” by the US-China deal to cut emissions announced this week. He was likely also surprised, as he spent his recent reelection campaign saying he would not consider emissions caps because “nobody else is going to do that,” as he told the Louisville Courier-Journal.
“I’m not a scientist. I am interested in protecting Kentucky’s economy, I’m interested in having low cost electricity,” he said.
Translation: I don’t want to do anything because no one else is. I’d rather lower electrical bills than make sure my grand kids will be able to live on this planet.
Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, has taken different routes to denial, from saying he’s not a scientist to second-guessing the data. “I don’t agree with the notion that some are putting out there, including scientists, that somehow there are actions we can take today that would actually have an impact on what’s happening in our climate,” he said in a May interview on ABC News. Here's the full statement:
"Our climate is always changing. And what they have chosen to do is take a handful of decades of research and say that this is now evidence of a longer-term trend that’s directly and almost solely attributable to man-made activity. I do not agree with that.
I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it. That’s what I do not — and I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it. Except it will destroy our economy."
Translation: Thought I trust and rely on science for everything else to include travel, technology and oil exploration, but in this one instance I will chose to completely ignore what scientists are telling me since it doesn’t suit my agenda.
The Republican Party often call itself the party of “Fiscal Responsibility.” Yet under Donald Trump...
President Donald Trump has blasted bipartisan politicians for failing to address the federal debt and repeatedly vowed to eliminate it within eight years. On his watch, it has exploded to more than $22 trillion.
The country was already headed for a $1 trillion deficit this year. Yet, the president has made clear his support for the federal budget deal reached Monday, which would increase spending by billions against a backdrop of lower tax receipts.
“House Republicans should support the TWO YEAR BUDGET AGREEMENT which greatly helps our Military and our Vets,” the president said Thursday of the bill, which would lift the debt ceiling until July 2021 and permanently end a series of automatic spending cuts. “I am totally with you!”
Crafted by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the deal would give both Republicans and Democrats bigger budgets for fiscal priorities. It would increase spending by about approximately $320 billion, with equal amounts going to defense and domestic agencies.
That could amount to $1.7 trillion in projected debt levels over the next decade, according to estimates by the Committee for a Responsible Budget.
It’s funny how when it’s something Republicans want, we always seem to find more money to spend. Yet when it comes to trying to ensure that our planet can sustain our children and grandchildren money suddenly becomes an issue.
Climate change is real. This isn’t a bunch of crazy people on social media saying this. This is NASA, the American Meteorology Society, The Australian Academy of Sciences, and hundreds more scientific societies and agencies from around the world. Here’s a list:

If you want to do a deep dive in to why these organizations agree that Climate Change is driven by human activity, NASA has a website dedicated to that purpose.

At the same time the Democratic Party, which at least accepts that climate change is a real issue, won’t have a debate for it’s 2020 presidential candidates that will focus solely on this issue.

 https://youtu.be/2eoALS8HJxQ

This is not just a national issue--it’s a global issue. Climate change will affect the future of all of humanity. Why would they do this? According to Vice News:
Democratic National Committee officials voted down the resolution that would’ve called for an official climate debate by a margin of 17 to 8 at a party meeting in San Francisco Thursday. If the DNC doesn’t host a climate debate, the candidates could opt to participate in a non-DNC sanctioned debate. But by participating, they could be sanctioned by the DNC, which means being potentially barred from any further DNC-sponsored debates.
The article continues:
DNC chief Tom Perez opposed the climate debate and doesn’t think it benefits the Democrats to hold any single-issue debates.
Joe Biden’s press secretary, Symone Sanders also doesn’t support a climate debate — even though the former vice president and presidential candidate has said that he supports one .
It is critical to emphasize this point. Not only has the DNC voted down a debate with a sole focus on climate change… but because of the DNC rules any candidates who participates in any non-DNC sanctioned debate will be banned from future DNC sanctioned debates. This is ridiculous. Clearly this issue isn’t being taken seriously enough… by either party.

A debate is about more than just putting candidates ideas against each other. It is an opportunity to truly articulate the severity of climate change to the public. It’s an opportunity to inform the citizenry and potentially change the minds of those who opt to bury their heads in the sand about this issue. Instead, it seems as though the DNC is content with putting the fate of all of humanity on par with every other issue.

Even as important as they are, the economy and health care won’t matter one bit if we continue on this course. According to the United Nations, we have 11 years to have done enough to prevent irreversible climate change. That was as of March 2019--before the fire in the Amazon Rainforest.

Also, this week Iceland had a “funeral” for the Okj√∂kull glacier. It is the first glacier that has been lost to climate change. This event follows “The hottest July on record”. In 30 days, we have seen at least three major events that are signalling that half measures and incrementalism is not sufficient to turning things around.

During the ceremony in Iceland, they placed a plaque where the glacier once stood which said the following:
Ok is the first Icelandic glacier to lose its status as glacier,
In the next 200 years all our main glaciers are expected to follow the same path. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done.
Only you know if we did it.
It’s not just about fossil fuels either. In June 2019, reports were surfacing about toxic algae in Florida’s waterways. It has gotten so bad that it has started to affect the tourism industry.
Florida’s waterways are screaming for “help.” A catastrophic combination of red tide and blue-green algae blooms on the west coast, and blue-green algae blooms on the east coast are hurting Florida. These headline-making events are causing significant public health concerns, tarnishing Florida’s reputation for world-class beaches, and mucking up our clear blue waters. But how does this happen?
Red tide originates naturally in the Gulf of Mexico’s salty waters while blue-green algae occurs in freshwater bodies like Lake Okeechobee. These two outbreaks are independent of one another, but together wreak compounding havoc. Both deplete water of vital oxygen- suffocating fish, mammals, and plants. More research is needed to get a full picture of what’s going on, but what is clear is that both of these chaotic scenarios are exacerbated by a warming climate and excess nutrients in our waterways. The sources of nutrient pollution aren’t new: agricultural runoff, manure from cattle, septic tanks, treated sewage used for watering lawns, sewage sludge spread on fields, and local storm water runoff. All of this ends up entering waterways and exacerbates red tide and blue-green algae. When combined with the decades-old phosphorus in Lake Okeechobee during the hot summer months, excess nutrients result in the harmful blue-green algae blooms in the lake and estuaries on Florida’s east and west coasts.
How much worse do things have to get before our leaders get serious about this? We can already see the effects . Many of the more seasoned power brokers in D.C. will not be alive when the effects of climate change are at their worst. If now isn’t the time to have a serious and substantive debate on how to tackle climate change, when is the right time?

Carl Sagan asked NASA to turn the Voyager space craft towards Earth and take a snapshot of our world when it was heading towards the outer edge of our Solar System. This was the image it took:


Planet Earth viewed from the Voyager space craft from the far reaches of our solar system.

That is our world. It’s the only one we have. We rely on it for everything from growing food to breathing. It is our one, and only safe refuge in a universe that is not hospitable to human life.

Dr. Sagan talked about the above image in his book Pale Blue Dot — A Vision of the Human Future in Space. Here is a very famous quote from that book:
“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
Carl Sagan understood the importance of protecting our planet in the 1990's… but our politicians and so called leaders still are not taking this as seriously as they should in the 21st century. This is not just our planet. This is our children's planet. It belongs to our descendants who will be here after we are gone to dust. If we do nothing… if we keep kicking this can down the road, we imperil their existence and the very existence of humanity.

Once humanity is gone, it no longer matters about your power or status. No one will be here to remember you. No one will care that you were an important CEO or congressman or resident. No one will remember the great things humanity has accomplished. Outside of our structures that survive, it will be as though we were never here.

Is this really the future you want?
“We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” -- David Brower
The world stands at a critical moment right now. We have a responsibility to future generations to try to sustain our world. The fate of humanity is in our hands. Either we take this threat seriously and do what is necessary to try to mitigate what is coming or we do little to nothing as we allow humanity to go extinct. We can’t wait until later. We need to take serious action right now!

Sources:

Amazon Rainforest Burning image from space: Wikimedia Commons
List of Worldwide Scientific Organizations that hold the position that Climate Change has been caused by human action: State of California Governors Office of Planning and Research
If you want to do a deep dive NASA has a website dedicated to that purpose.
Scientific Consensus: Earth’s Climate is Warming: NASA Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet
The DNC rejects call for Climate Change Debate: The Real News Network Published on Aug 22, 2019
“Pale Blue Dot” Video: CarSaganDotCom
David Brower Quote: “We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

BIO:  The Independent Reformist says this about his writing: "Independent political perspective from a working class American. No B.S." He currently blogs on Medium and at his Wordpress site.





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 From Rainforest Action Network:

The fires in the Amazon rainforest are devastating. The Amazon rainforest is called the lungs of the planet, because it accounts for 20% of the world’s oxygen. With the climate crisis worsening, we can’t afford to lose these ancient trees who filter out and store the world’s carbon.
These fires affect every single living creature on earth. Read that again, every single creature on earth is and will be impacted by the loss of these forests. We need your help to protect them.
Many of you have asked, how can we help? 
The fires aren’t a random occurrence. With new leadership, Brazil has declared the Amazon open for business. Massive companies and investment firms like BlackRock, have rushed to the Amazon to develop this formerly protected land. The fires are being used to clear villages, trees, and wildlife for illegal cattle ranching, soya, and other products. They are literally stealing land from Indigenous Peoples and destroying the Amazon rainforest to turn a profit.
There’s no time to lose, we must act NOW. Please, take action and help us raise awareness for the Amazon and all of the world’s remaining rainforests.
Ginger Cassady
Program Director
Rainforest Action Network

***
There are a record number of fires in the Amazon. We need Brazil to stop encouraging people to destroy the rainforest for profit.

 

Sign Now

 



The Amazon Rainforest is called the lungs of the earth. It's critical for biodiversity and fighting climate change. It has been burning for more than three weeks, but chances are you didn't hear about it until last week. In the time between when the fires surged out of control and when the media picked up the story, nearly 40,000 individual fires had started in the rainforest — many of them set intentionally.
There are a lot of reasons the Amazon is burning at a record rate. Burning cultivate nutrient-rich farm land is a long-held practice. For decades, farmers, ranchers and loggers have hacked into the rainforest to get access to timber and land, which they use for profit. But now, climate change and deforestation magnify the risks if and when fires get out of control.
Much of this was true last year and the years before What's different in 2019 is that Brazil's new right-wing government doesn't care. President Bolsonaro has dramatically scaled back on enforcement against illegal logging and mining in the Amazon. In fact, he's called for more of it. People have responded by setting records numbers of fires to clear the forest.
As of August, more than 1,300 square miles of forest have been lost in 2019 alone. Now that people around the world have realized just how catastrophic this could be, everyone from the right-wing Prime Minister of the UK to Colombian pop star Shakira are calling on the Brazilian government to act.
We agree. Perhaps most alarming that Brazil's dry season has just begun — meaning things could actually still get worse. We need to mobilize massive action now to get these fires under control, find people who've started these fires and, most importantly, stop the setting of new ones.
Thank you,
Emily V.
The Care2 Petitions Team


 


P.S. With dry season just beginning, we need Brazil's government to stop more human-caused fires in the Amazon (and put out the ones already raging out of control). Sign the petition.


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Follow The Leaders?


Every once in a while, a great leader comes along to lead the people against injustice. If we're lucky, this person makes us feel safe following them and listening to their council. But what happens when our leaders act out-to-lunch, like they couldn't care less about our health and happiness? We're forced to become our own leaders and depend on ourselves. It's difficult and disheartening to say the least. We lose respect for those we were taught to trust. 

The following  are some musings on feeling leaderless followed by two press releases from a group who have decided to not wait on an unresponsive leadership. They've become their own leaders to take on the corrupt system. May we all do likewise.


Greens get ready to show their Pride!

 Follow The Leaders?
musings and photos by C.A. Matthews

Upon our return from the local Pride Parade, I felt exhausted but in a good way. The crowds that met our marching groups were large and friendly, the parade full of fun-loving and colorfully-dressed people. The Pride message is one of love and acceptance of all humanity. You should come away with a positive and optimistic view of the world after such a joyous experience.

In spite of the fact that I wore a t-shirt with the slogan "You. Are. Loved.", I returned home pondering why this isn't always the case, however. There are those who don't unconditionally love the unwashed masses of which I'm a part of. Sure, they've got a use or two for us slobs, but that's about it. We were put on this earth to be used by them. We have to measure up to some imaginary impossible standard or else we're not to be rewarded or respected.

If you're thinking I'm talking about the one-percent, you're partially right. They definitely don't love or respect us, but what caused me to reflect deeply about those in positions of power were the two groups I was affiliated with for the Pride Parade. The larger leadership of these organizations doesn't always respect the sentiments and wishes of the rank and file members. And, in the end, feelings are hurt and lives are damaged, perhaps beyond repair.

In a perfect socialist utopia, where the workers would own the means of production--or have an equal say in the running of an organization--all would receive the benefits of feeling wanted and loved just as they are. Alas, this isn't how it pans out in reality, and it sucks. It totally sucks.

 (I'm probably not making a lot of sense so far, but stay with me. This is what you get for not submitting your own wonderfully written blog piece on a progressive topic. Please send one to us in the body of an email to thebernieblog2016@gmail.com  Thank you.)
I marched in this year's Pride Parade with a  group of about 75+ called "The United Methodists for Inclusion." Funny thing is, in spite of being called "United," the largest Methodist church body in the US (if not the world) isn't. Our Pride group hoped to demonstrate that not all in the denomination are qualified homophobes.

This past February the "minority conservative" faction enacted their long game plan and took over the worldwide UMC church body from within, passing measures that would outlaw "self-avowed practicing homosexuals" from serving as clergy or bishops and forbidding all from performing same-sex weddings

Currently the Rev. Anna Blaedel is being brought up on charges of…well, for being an openly LGBTQ human being of all things. The witch trials have begun.

Thing is, the leadership of the UMC had been pretty lax in punishing openly LGBTQ pastors and those who performed same-sex wedding ceremonies for the past fifty years. They played it cool thinking that with these times a-changing nobody would care what the paperwork said but knowing full well that a ticking time bomb of a paragraph existed within the Methodists' Book of Discipline that handles such things as prosecuting errant clergy. 

"Do no harm" Methodists would agree, but the progressives in leadership positions dropped the ball big time and have caused harm, in my and others' opinion. And now they and their conservative counterparts are scrambling to see who will get to keep the baby, that is, the United Methodist Church title/logo and the money and properties. Will there be an unfriendly split or a velvet revolution? Where is King Solomon when you need him to slice a baby in half?

It's like a very bad divorce and we, the children, or church members, are going to be the ones who suffer the most when our churches close down or are forced to do unpleasant things, like get rid of our gay pastors. LGBTQ members and their friends and family have left and are in the process of leaving their beloved UMC churches to worship where they feel wanted. Who can blame them? 

Our merry band of Pride Methodist marchers and rainbow flag wavers don't want our gay brothers, sisters and others to leave, but we're just the rank and file. What power do we really have? Where are all the progressive leaders in powerful positions on the international, national and local levels of the UMC to follow who oppose this conservative coup d'etat ? Some have stepped up, but many, many more will be needed especially here in the heartland of Homophobic America. We await these brave souls impatiently.

Another Pride group I supported (my husband marched with them in my stead) was our courageous Green Party candidate running for city council. I wish I could have cloned myself to march alongside Stefania Czech and add to her band of supporters, but I would have needed to clone myself dozens of times over to make a difference. 

On paper there are many more Greens living in the area. Surely some were free to join in? If they couldn't walk the whole parade route, they could have ridden on the People Called Women feminist bookstore bus to demonstrate how big the Green Party is in these parts. Where were they?


There's no way of knowing for certain what kept the Greens away Saturday. Local party leaders could have made an effort to rally the troops on Stefania's behalf though, right? They could have sent out a mass email or made phone calls to remind members that there is a Green candidate on the ballot and that she could use the numbers to bolster her image in the public's eye on the eve of the primary election.

But, once again, the rank and file are left to do things on their own. Frustration at the lack of help and feelings of unworthiness ensues. Why isn't leadership building up the candidate and actively supporting her run? Don't they want her to win?  Don't they want the voters to take the local, national and even international Green Party seriously?

As eco-socialists, aren't we all terrified of the climate catastrophe on the horizon? Shouldn't we all use our energy to help save the planet? Isn't electing an environmentalist like Stefania to office a step in the right direction to build a brighter future?  Why isn't it all hands on deck?

It seems endemic in the twenty-first century, this lack of taking responsibility for leading others. I'm perplexed--and it makes me worry that progressive movements in both the mainline church and eco-politics are in serious jeopardy. 

Progressive leaders appear to be daydreaming at times, off in their own worlds, more concerned with keeping their titles or impressing others of their status than they are about keeping the human beings they lead together and on track. Sometimes they act like they don't care about the level of stress they're placing--or could place--upon their followers' shoulders. 

Are our leaders scared of actually leading?

When you play the game of "Follow the Leader" you expect someone to step up and take charge. You don't expect them not to lead. Followers need a leader. There's no excuse for letting them down. 

Our planet isn't going to wait on us to get our act together. The extinction clock is ticking as the atmospheric carbon levels rise. Souls are at risk. Lead--or get out of the way for the rank and file to take command before it's too late.

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Lake Erie Bill of Rights Court Case Heats Up as Algae Bloom Grows



A new motion from the City of Toledo cites ‘fatal’ flaws in the corporate lawsuit against LEBOR. Petitioners file amicus brief supporting the City


The City of Toledo has exposed serious errors and misrepresentations in Drewes Farms Partnership’s (DFP) federal lawsuit against the City of Toledo and the Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR). Through briefs opposing motions by plaintiff DFP and intervenor-plaintiff State of Ohio, the City argues DFP’s rush to overturn LEBOR suffers from “fatal procedural flaws,” misrepresentations, and defects that require the lawsuit’s dismissal.

Citing the ongoing landmark court case Juliana v. United States, the City has come out in favor of “Toledoans’ due process rights to a clean and healthy environment.” Petitioners with Toledoans for Safe Water filed an amicus brief, supporting the City, particularly its argument that DFP’s and the State’s lawsuit “undermine[s] the right of local community self-government established by the City’s Charter and the Ohio Constitution.”

The day after Toledo residents passed LEBOR in February 2019, DFP claimed it was personally injured by the vote. However, LEBOR only governs activities within the City of Toledo. The City points out that not only does DFP not own any land it farms, but none of that land lies within the City.

“It is the City and its residents that have been injured. The state has failed to protect Lake Erie,” stated Markie Miller of Toledoans for Safe Water. Since 2014, the City has spent over $527 million to protect its water supply, including during the 2014 drinking water crisis that was caused by toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie. The lake is currently experiencing severe algae blooms.

In response to the State’s arguments that the City and its residents had no authority to pass LEBOR or defend Lake Erie, the City reiterates its jurisdiction over two miles of the lake’s Maumee Bay, and its power to strengthen state protections. LEBOR does not replace state or federal law or regulations, the City argues. Rather, it builds on them to provide additional protections for the lake.

The State has also argued that LEBOR will undermine its authority to protect Lake Erie. “The state has repeatedly failed to protect Lake Erie. Any claim that it can’t protect the lake if we do, rings hollow,” stated Miller.

The City strongly rejects DFP’s argument that the corporation’s First Amendment speech is being chilled by LEBOR. “Conversely,” the City writes, “the real chilling effect would occur if the Court granted DFP’s Motion and considered its request for attorney fees, since this would give DFP – a non-resident – the ability to use a speculative and theoretical future injury to nullify a citizens’ initiative petition and vote of the Toledo electorate.”

“We are happy to see the City standing up for LEBOR and Toledoans’ rights to a clean and healthy environment,” says Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) Ohio Organizer Tish O’Dell. CELDF assisted in drafting petitioner’s amicus brief. “The lake is experiencing toxic blooms right now. The people of Toledo decided at the ballot back in February that they are done accepting being poisoned for corporate profits. Instead of being able to go forward with the law the people passed, an agricultural corporation and the State of Ohio sued the city on speculative claims. It’s time for the judge to end their lawsuit. We need to recognize our dependence on the lake – not the other way around. LEBOR is about recognizing rights of the Lake and stopping the harm before the Lake is completely dead.”

To read the City’s motions and petitioners’s amicus brief visit: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/14573310/drewes-farms-partnership-v-city-of-tole

 https://celdf.org/2019/08/media-statement-lake-erie-bill-of-rights-court-case-heats-up-as-algae-bloom-grows/?fbclid=IwAR0w9-vYK1_yoiAz515taj_ksG-pofHEsDBpZADGwOEpVFQ6Z-IHI0i5Ic0

https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/14573310/drewes-farms-partnership-v-city-of-toledo-ohio/?fbclid=IwAR16UMPbqPVnWDUNY8qDb-9cSwaEoQQCQ2WSgmCVwK-gF_K1nCJJpWsWVc4


Activists Defend Lawsuit Enforcing Lake Erie Bill of Rights, Rights of Toledoans

Plaintiffs seek to Address Unlawful Conduct of the State in Failing to Protect Lake Erie, Ohioans

August 19, 2019

On Friday, three Toledoans filed their response in the pro se (without an attorney) lawsuit against the State of Ohio seeking a declaration from the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas that the Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR) is enforceable in its entirety under the Ohio Constitution. Plaintiffs Mike Ferner, John Michael Durback, and Bryan Twitchell of Toledo are seeking to uphold and protect LEBOR, a charter amendment approved by 61% of voters in February 2019.
This recent filing is in response to the State’s motion to dismiss the case. The State has argued that Article I, Section 2 of Ohio’s constitution – which states, “All power is inherent in the people….and they have the right to alter, reform, or abolish the same, whenever they may deem it necessary” – “cannot be the foundation for a cause of [legal] action.” The plaintiffs assert that this interpretation renders the phrase meaningless. The State has undermined the democratic rights of Toledo voters, and “failed to protect Lake Erie and all those who depend on her,” the plaintiffs argue.

Local activist Mike Ferner said, "The State wants us to believe first, that citizens can be pacified by what it considers just pretty words in Ohio’s constitution and second, that it has sole authority to protect Lake Erie and has done so. We hope what the State claims in its motion will sound as outrageous to Judge Goulding as they do to the three of us and to anyone with a brain in their head."

Pointing to dubious court decisions from American history like Dred Scott v. Sandford, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled African-Americans were never intended to be American citizens, and Plessy v. Ferguson, in which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld racial segregation, the plaintiffs’ motion calls on the court “to stand on the right side of history.” Today, the plaintiffs write, “American law is failing to respond to the seriousness of ecological collapse, this lawsuit presents the court with another opportunity to bring Ohio law to the higher standard being held by the people demanding the necessary legal change required to adequately and immediately address the current climate and environmental crisis.”

“Ecological reality is more important than the legal ideology” that has prevented natural systems from being recognized as rights-bearing entities, Ferner, Durback, and Twitchell state. 

The Lake Erie Bill of Rights, a first-in-the-nation Ecosystem Rights of Nature initiative passed by local residents, enshrines in the Toledo City Charter the legal rights of the Lake Erie watershed and ecosystem to exist and flourish. This forms the basis of a new legal framework for addressing environmental issues by giving citizens standing to hold major polluters accountable on behalf of Lake Erie.
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From Care Petitions:

Newark, New Jersey is on a path to become the next Flint. Drinking water in the city is so contaminated with lead, some residents have already resorted to using bottled water for all their basic needs. We need the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to step in and fix the causes of lead contamination before the problem gets worse.
Like in Flint, lead is leeching into the drinking water from very old pipes. But in Newark, the problem is compounded by the fact that the local water filtration plant isn't actually getting lead out of the water.
This has profound effects on people living in the community that will last lifetimes. Lead can cause neurological disorders and even death. Children who drink lead-contaminated water can suffer from developmental problems that don't go away, even after the water is cleaned up.
It's already taken more than a year for government officials to admit that there's a problem. But this admission hasn't lead to actual solutions. Giving out bottled water is a bandaid on a bullet wound. Just ask Flint: years after their contaminated water made national news, families still must use expensive bottled water to do everything from cooking to showering and drinking.
Many folks in these communities don't have the means to pick up and move somewhere else with safer water. Most importantly: they shouldn't have to. The Environmental Protection Agency has an obligation to ensure that all Americans, regardless of where they live, have safe drinking water. Even the Trump Administration has said this is a priority. But clearly it's going to take our voices to make sure they put real muscle behind a solution.
Thank you,

Emily V.
The Care2 Petitions Team

***
Tell Congress:
"We demand you regulate PFAS - chemicals that have been shown to impact reproductive and immune systems and even cause cancer. You are meant to protect us! We will not accept putting our lives at risk in the interest of business."

It’s simple: companies shouldn’t be able to profit off of giving people cancer.
Yet 3M and DuPont have known since the 1960s that chemicals they use in cookings spray, Teflon, and more, called PFAS, are toxic to humans. They even tested their own employees for them in the 1970s. But they kept on selling them to the American people.
PFAS are called “forever chemicals” because once they have been created, they are extremely hard to get rid of. We demand accountability.
Democrats are calling for hearings to get accountability. We need to know what these companies knew, and when they knew it. And we need to get them to stop poisoning the American people.
Donald Trump’s EPA is making it harder to fight corporations poisoning Americans. That’s why we need Congress to act now!
Thank you for pushing with us.
Team Progress America