COVID-19 crisis is a chance to rebuild our economy around caregiving, working less, and combatting climate change.

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Nurses have been undervalued and Black Americans are being disproportionately harmed by COVID-10 (Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash)

People are dying to get back to work, top Republicans have been saying for the last month, justifying efforts to force the U.S. economy open during the COVID-19 pandemic, even if it kills thousands of people.

They’re right that people are dying, still almost 1,000 Americans a day succumbing to the disease. They’re even right that many people are tired of the public health lockdowns and anxious about their finances and futures.

But what people really want is economic security, to know that they’re going to be okay, not necessarily to work during these tough and uncertain times. …

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Photo by Louis Maniquet on Unsplash

Now is the time to envision a country that’s more fair and sustainable

It’s time to start imagining the world after this COVID-19 crisis passes. That feels hard to do given the anxiety and uncertainty we’re all feeling today, but we need to be ready and use this downtime to envision what comes next.

Will we prop up the old system, as we did after the 2008 crash, one that has failed to address climate change and the increasing concentration of wealth and power? Or can we imagine and create new models better able to address the challenges of today and tomorrow?

The first step is to imagine the political and economic systems we want to govern us, and to perhaps move closer to the “brotherhood of man” that John Lennon famously imagined. …

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Burning Man brings 70,000 people — and proposes to grow to 100,000 — to Nevada’s Black Rock Desert every August. (Credit:Kyle Harmon/Creative Commons)

New federal conditions overreach, but bringing 100,000 Burners to Black Rock Desert has undeniable impacts

reprinted from Reno Gazette Journal

By Patrick Donnelly and Steven T. Jones

Burning Man organizers and participants are understandably concerned about proposed federal rules governing the annual event. The Bureau of Land Management’s plan for concrete barriers, dumpsters and drug searches could change the nature of the massive arts festival and its ethos of freedom and self-reliance.

But the time has come for Burners to accept the fact than more than 70,000 people descending on remote public lands in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert have a huge environmental impact, as BLM’s new environmental impact statement makes clear.

The event has always been an evolution, blossoming from a few thousand participants to a proposed 100,000 people in the near future. It makes sense that the next iteration be one that keeps its spirit alive but also minimizes harm to the desert, wildlife and the air we breathe. The Black Rock Desert is a special place, and Burning Man is a unique gathering that deserves a deeper conversation and some hard decisions about how to do it right. …

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La prohibición de popotes de plástico es sólo el principio. (Crédito: NPS)

Las compañías de combustible fósil están convirtiendo el gas natural fracturado en más y más plástico

Reimpreso de The Hill

Docenas de ciudades de los EE.UU. hicieron del 2018 el año de la prohibición de popotes de plástico. Pero si realmente queremos reducir la contaminación plástica que rápidamente se acumula en nuestros océanos, el 2019 debe ser el año en que desafiemos el plan de la industria de combustibles fósiles de ampliar agresivamente la producción de plástico.

Sí, esas prohibiciones de los popotes ayudan. Los popotes contribuyen a la contaminación plástica del océano que se espera supere a todos los peces en el mar para el 2050. Aquellos que promueven la compañía anti-popotes “#StopSucking” — y periodistas que dieron una cobertura de alto perfil a la crisis de la contaminación del plástico — merecen que se les dé un crédito enorme por la rápida adopción de las prohibición de popotes plásticos durante el último año. …

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Plastic straw bans are only the beginning. (Credit: NPS)

Fossil fuel companies are turning fracked natural gas into more and more plastic

Reprinted from The Hill

Dozens of U.S. cities made 2018 the year of the plastic straw ban. But if we really want to reduce the plastic pollution rapidly amassing in our oceans, 2019 must be the year we challenge the fossil fuel industry’s plan to aggressively expand plastic production.

Yes, those straw bans help. Straws contribute to ocean plastic pollution that’s expected to outweigh all the fish in the sea by 2050. Those who pushed the anti-straw #StopSucking campaign — and journalists who gave high-profile coverage to the plastic-pollution crisis — deserve tremendous credit for the quick adoption of plastic straw bans over the past year. …

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#Ecolist of Things We Love

California’s epic coastline is popular with international tourists, beach-loving locals and businesses, and a rich variety of wildlife. All would be threatened by the Trump administration’s reckless plan to offer the first offshore oil-drilling leases in the Pacific in more than 30 years.

California was an early adopter of offshore drilling, but the state has been phasing out this destructive practice. People here know how dirty and dangerous it is, after enduring deadly coastal oil spills near Santa Barbara in 1969 and then again in 2015, with countless smaller spills in between.

Heartbreaking images of oil-coated birds and marine life from those California oil spills helped spark the modern environmental movement. More drilling means more oil spills, which would do irreparable harm to the world’s fifth largest economy and set back the recovery of many vulnerable species. …

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How can a ride this epic be illegal?

We met them in Lucia, which is less a town than a remote store and restaurant along California’s coastal highway, 13 miles north of the road closure.

Their son had biked through the closed section of Highway 1 two weeks earlier and urged them to take advantage of this last chance for epic coastal bicycling, car-free. Well, almost car-free in their case.

They drove down from their Sacramento home and were getting ready for a bike ride on the dead-ended road to Gorda and back. …

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One of thousands of drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. (Credit: Interior Department)

Trump administration moves quickly to sell our public lands and waters to fossil fuel industry

The Trump administration is moving quickly and aggressively to give the oil industry control over our oceans and coastlines. It’s as if Trump and his team are trying to sell off as much of our public lands and waters as they can before they’re forced from office, cast out for corruption of one kind or another.

Today it’s the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, where they just announced plans to invite drilling into that long-protected Alaska coastal plain. …

Scenes from the protests against Trump’s reckless offshore oil leasing plan

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Frostpaw the polar bear and hundreds of protesters gather outside the Capitol in Sacramento on Feb. 8, protesting drilling in the Pacific and other U.S. oceans. (Credit: Drew Bird Photography)

After the Trump administration released its draft five-year offshore leasing plan on Jan. 4 — which would open up every U.S. ocean to decades of dangerous offshore oil drilling — Californians organized a strong opposition movement, along with activists in every coastal state. The California campaign peaked on Feb. 8 in Sacramento, where the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management was holding its only hearing in this sprawling state.

Handing over the oceans to fossil-fuel companies would threaten people and wildlife around the world

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Arctic offshore drilling and climate change are dual threats that could cause polar bears to go extinct by the end of this century (Credit: NOAA)

reprinted from 48Hills

We can’t overstate just how much President Trump’s offshore drilling offensive threatens the planet and its inhabitants. Not only is he inviting dirty drilling rigs off Ocean Beach and the entire West Coast, but he’s jeopardizing California and other coastlines for generations to come.

If the draft plan that the Trump administration released this month becomes final, letting the oil industry tap every ocean in the country, we’re dooming people and wildlife around the world to needless suffering and death.

That may sound alarmist, but it’s also true. This is a crucial, life-altering decision. Our country will never recover if we get it wrong. That’s why Californians are forming a wall of opposition leading up to the Feb. …


Steven T. Jones

Longtime California newspaperman, now doing communications for the Center for Biological Diversity while still covering the Bay Area’s evolving culture.

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