Earlier this month, the Wildlife Conservation Society announced its findings. In the past 20 years, 1.27 million square miles of wilderness have been destroyed – that is an area larger than Ontario and Quebec combined. James Watson, the Society’s Director of Science and Research Initiatives describes the elimination of wilderness as a sort of extinction event “you are losing a system that has evolved for millions of years.”
In another report, the US National Snow and Ice Data Center has reached a preliminary conclusion that this year’s Arctic sea ice coverage is at its second lowest level in recorded history. This continues a significant decline in sea ice that has been ongoing since 1979. Online comic xkcd does an excellent job of putting global warming in historical context with A Timeline of Earth’s Average Temperature (linked to below).
Finally, international non-profit Partners in Flight has released findings that North America has lost more than one-billion birds in the past 40 years – that’s a decline of almost ten-percent. Some birds have been impacted more severely than others, with dozens of species having their populations reduced by more than 50%. The massive decline has been driven by the reduction in wilderness (see above), growth in industrial agriculture, and climate change (see above). The analogy of the canary in the coal-mine is unfortunately apt in this case.
With all of this evidence and still government and communities around the world continue on, preaching gradual shifts in partnership with destructive industries. The building of more pipelines only leads to more pollution and delays investment in sensible alternatives. Urgent action is needed to push back against the destructive, capitalist agenda which has brought us to this point.
Usually, the focus of this publication is to highlight the good work of progressive labour unions around the world in their attempt to push an alternative energy agenda including investment renewables, Just Transition for workers in affected industries, and partnerships between affected communities and workers alike. Unfortunately, this week saw a low point of this work when the AFL-CIO put out a nonsensical press release supporting the Dakota Pipeline project, falsely pitting jobs against the environment, and undervaluing voices of affected aboriginal communities. It is a shameful stain on the good work of other trade unions like National Nurses United and the transport unions who have lead the workers' movement in the US against these destructive projects.
The debate is ongoing in labour unions and it is up to those with clear vision to outline the necessary direction for our unions to take: one that puts local and global solidarity ahead of interests for short-term profit.
- Nurses Union Slams AFL-CIO’s Endorsement of Dakota Access Pipeline 2. AFL-CIO Bucks Progressive Allies, Backs Dakota Access Pipeline 3. Dakota Access Pipeline Provides High-Quality Jobs | AFL-CIO 4. In 20 Short Years, We’ve Wiped Out 10 Percent Of Earth’s Wilderness 5. Arctic sea ice coverage is at its 2nd lowest on record 6. Earth Temperature Timeline 7. Bird populations in steep decline in North America, study finds 8. Liberals back away from setting tougher carbon targets