Tag Archives: climate change

Flat Earthers Won’t Believe This News on Antarctica’s Climate

The Arctic is the fastest-warming place on our overheated planet, but so far, its polar opposite has managed to stay pretty cool. Why is Antarctica warming so slowly compared with the Arctic? The answer is complicated, but a new study suggests we’re overlooking a basic reality of geometry.


President Trump Deletes Every Old Press Release, But The Internet Never Forgets

Yesterday, journalists discovered that the Trump regime had deleted the president’s infamous press release from 2015 that called for a ban on all Muslims traveling to the United States. But it wasn’t just the Muslim ban. Every single press release from before January 1, 2017 has been erased from donaldjtrump.com.…


EPA Sacks Advisors Overseeing Scientific Integrity But It’s Fine, Everything’s Fine

On Monday, the Washington Post reports that EPA head Scott Pruitt was behind the dismissal of half of the members of the agency’s Board of Science Counselors. The 18-member board oversees the rigor and integrity of the scientific research guiding policy decisions coming out of the EPA, from climate change to air…


This Girl Sued Pennsylvania’s Government for Her Environmental Rights

This story appears in the May issue of VICE magazine. Click HERE to subscribe.

Before March 28 of this year, something exciting and potentially world-changing (in a good way) was playing out in Pennsylvania. Seven young plaintiffs, including 17-year-old Rekha Dhillon-Richardson, were suing their state, arguing that the government had failed to protect their constitutional rights by refusing to adequately and immediately combat climate change. Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution guarantees "the right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic, and esthetic values of the environment." This groundbreaking case, which requested strict reduction and regulation of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse-gas emissions in order to ensure a habitable planet for young people and future generations, made its way through the legal system until the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently upheld a lower court's ruling in the state's favor.

Even though they lost, Dhillon-Richardson and her allies made important ethical and legal arguments on the public stage. As many of us adjust to a presidential administration that denies the reality of climate change and scoffs at basic science, I talked to Dhillon-Richardson about what we can learn from this case and its creative pursuit of state-based avenues for progressive action.

VICE: Why did you get involved in this case?
Rekha Dhillon-Richardson: Because I believe that it is absolutely crucial that youth are central players in developing local and national strategies to fight environmental degradation. The fundamental human rights and futures of children and youth are disproportionately threatened by climate destabilization, even though we have had little to do with the production of the problem.

What have you learned being part of this process?
It's taught me how to be a more effective advocate for the things that I believe in and to use whatever avenues necessary to seek change and bring about justice. I have also learned that the court process is extremely slow; it is hard to make quick and significant changes through the courts. Those of us deeply concerned about issues of environmental injustice would be wise to explore multiple strategies to challenge the government.

Pennsylvania's environmental constitutional rights are pretty impressive. What do you think about the fact that we have rights on the books that aren't implemented?
Although Pennsylvania has extensive environmental constitutional protections, it is shameful and shortsighted that they are not being put into practice. I am encouraged by our government's consideration of the right to clean air, water, and natural resources—these are rights that everyone should have. However, it is very disappointing that Pennsylvania is failing to do the work to actually ensure that these rights are upheld. This case made me realize that just because a law is created in theory does not mean that it is applied in reality.

Has the new administration changed how you think about the case and what needs to be done to protect the environment?
The people Trump has chosen for his Cabinet are dangerous and are now in a position of authority. With this new administration that threatens the environmental movement, it is imperative that we continue to take immediate and significant action—protests, public education, youth organizing, and challenges in the court are all part of this resistance.

Are there things young people see about the future that older people don't?
My generation is ready and willing to fight for our human rights and for the rights of our earth. There are amazing kids all around the world who are standing up to environmental degradation and who live with the consequences of the decisions around extractive industries that are made in places like the United States. The natural world that my generation and the future generations will inherit is going to be very different than the one that older people have enjoyed. I think young people have the ability to imagine a better world—to have a vision for the longer term.

Do you think previous generations have let people your age down?
I do think we have been let down. Children across the globe have trusted the adults to make the right decisions—to lead us forward into a cleaner and more just future for everyone. We have been harmed by decisions that were made without our authorization.

What are your plans for the future? Has being part of this case shaped what you want to do later on?
I plan to become an environmental scientist—I start college this fall—and continue my advocacy work for climate justice, with a focus on areas in the world that are disproportionately impacted. Being part of this case has confirmed that young people are needed more than ever. Consequently, I also plan to continue to create platforms for young people to become leaders alongside me.

Farms Could Be Changing the Climate in Ways You’d Never Expect

Back on a crisp January day in 2016, I slipped around on a frozen lake in Wisconsin to ask a bunch of portly men in grey hoodies and trucker hats how the fishing had been compared to when they were kids. Secretly, I wanted to know what they thought about the changing climate. The men had various backgrounds, many of…


What We Saw at the Climate March on Washington

I showed up at the US Capitol area around 11 AM. By then people were streaming in from all directions. Volunteers directed people to the appropriate spots, and banners were laid on on the ground in preparation for the walk to the White House.

At the front of the march was a "human shield," a group of people with linked arms who helped clear the way for the different groups walking behind them.

The organizations involved were a diverse coalition that included Black Lives Matter...

...Native Americans...

...and lots of other left-wing groups.

When they got to the White House, protesters sat on the ground, their backs to the White House, then patted their chests in imitation of a heartbeat for 100 seconds.

After that, protesters flooded onto the National Mall. By then it was around 2:30 and the afternoon heat was taking its toll (it was 91 degrees, the record for this time of year in DC). Some people retreated into the shade...

...while others soaked up the sun.

The march was peaceful and almost celebratory at times, with lots of live music and arts installations.

Everyone, however, obviously felt this fight to be urgent—just days ago, the EPA removed pages about climate change from its website.

The Trump administration, in particular EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt seems dedicated to dismantling efforts to fight climate change, but Saturday's march shows how passionate the opposition is.

How to Talk Across the Aisle When You’re Marching For Science (Or Climate Change)

The March for Science brought historic numbers of scientists to the streets to stand up for evidence-based reasoning, but whether it actually helped heal the partisan divide on issues like climate change is far less certain. A cursory look at the post-March media coverage suggests we’re as trapped as ever in our…