The Waggle: Issue 002
What We’re Reading
This week’s top stories, as curated by our Nexus research collective.
One of the positive outcomes in governance in the last few weeks is how the youngest and newest President in Chile’s history (36 yrs) is completely changing the relationship between government and science. There is a big emphasis on the climate crisis and a tripling of the science budget. The enlargement of the role of science augurs an era of inclusiveness on all levels in Gabriel Couric’s administration. This may incite political changes throughout South America that has been plagued by voter support of rightwing “strongman” hypocrites.
The revival of oil prices occasioned by the war in Ukraine and the post-Covid recovery has resurfaced a third element that has been stewing for two decades, the idea that the combustion of gas and oil is a “human right” for developing countries regardless of climate science.
Mumbai is the first South Asian city to announce a Net-Zero Roadmap! This piece describes how asset managers are both a key stakeholder in climate action, and more often than not act like bad actors. Lastly, this week I’m reading Inflamed: Deep Medicine and the Anatomy of Injustice, and recommend it to anyone interested in learning about how modern medicine is entangled in colonial thinking—and the alternatives that deep medicine has to offer for our bodies, societies, and planet.
I came across two stories this week about some of the unintended consequences of cultivating certain types of plants in the name of fighting climate change. I previously shared a story about corn-derived ethanol being a net loss for the climate. Now David Frum, the former George W. Bush speechwriter, is arguing that it is also a net loss in terms of undercutting Russia's ability to cow Europe, since it allows Russia to dominate the global wheat market. Then, the NYTimes had a piece out today that did a (mostly) good job of diving into concerns around some of the questionable tree planting that has become a popular way for companies to claim 'net zero' emissions ledgers.
In researching wind projects that have involved Indigenous Peoples, I found the Wocawson Energy Project in New Brunswick, Canada. This wind farm is an example of community engagement done right. Specifically, the project is named after a Wabanaki mountaintop spirit bird whose wings make the wind. The project is a partnership between the Neqotkuk First Nation and the renewable energy company Natural Forces, which own 51% and 49% of the wind farm, respectively. While the wind farm became operational in 2020, Natural Forces was talking with the Neqotkuk band council on how to develop the project as early as 2014. And given the Neqotkuk First Nation’s direct ownership of the project, they are now making money from the wind farm that is being put to use in needed infrastructure, such as housing and roads.
This week I enjoyed learning about "Urban Sequoia," a proposition by architects from Skidmore, Owings & Merrils that the urban built environment can absorb carbon and that cities can become carbon sinks. While the idea is not unique or new, it is a hopeful example of yet another large design firm taking action to influence its industry to go beyond energy efficiency and incorporate bio-based building materials into building projects of all sizes.
Solar tech company Arcadia speaks right to my nerdy, pun-loving heart with their “For the Greater Grid” newsletter. In their most recent issue, they delivered a crash course on energy justice that included this interview with Shalanda Baker, Deputy Director for Energy Justice at the Department of Energy. She speaks of finding her path into energy justice through indigenous communities harnessing wind power in Oaxaca, and how that shaped her vision for what a just transition can look like. I especially loved this quote from her (which is also the thesis of her book): “The technical terrain of energy policy should be the next domain to advance civil rights.”
Two articles from Civil Eats complement each other in a very interesting way. The first article focuses on an ambitious effort to quantify the benefits of regenerative ag, called the 1000 Farm Initiative. It’s headed by scientist Jonathan Lundgren who wants hard numbers to support regen ag claims. At the same time, we should remember that indigenous and traditional knowledge has high value too as the second article describes. This perspective is sometimes lost in the push for data. The holistic ranchers I worked with years ago didn’t need a scientist to confirm what they knew from experience worked well ecologically. They didn’t wait for one to show up either!
Claire Inciong Krummenacher
The Pentagon announced this week that the U.S. military will be defueling the Red Hill underground fuel storage tanks and permanently closing the facilities following months of indigenous-led protests over the tanks' contamination of Oahu's main water source and subsequent displacement of military families. The process of draining the 100 million gallons of fuel stored in the tanks is scheduled to begin in late May and is expected to take up to a year, but U.S. Senator Brian Schatz affirmed state leaders' commitment to holding the Pentagon accountable in a March 7 statement: "There will be challenges ahead, but make no mistake: Red Hill will be shut down. In order to implement this decision, we're going to have to provide additional resources and hold DoD's feet to the fire through Congressional oversight."
I was pleased to learn that climate justice is newly prominent in the latest IPCC report. And in the Wildcard/It's All Connected Department: In this article on vallenato, one of Colombia's great musical forms, Carlos Vives talks about the interrelationship between music, ecoregions, cultures, and ecological damage—and how part of his work as a musician is to “contribute to many of the solutions that we need in this territory.”
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