Daily Archives: May 17, 2014

Climate change poses threat to national security, report says | Al Jazeera America


Retired U.S. military leaders say armed forces should create long-term plan to counter effects of climate change

May 14, 2014 12:10PM ET
by Renee Lewis

The effects of climate change — including extreme weather, drought and sea-level rise — pose a serious threat to U.S. national security, according to a report released Wednesday. Because of the effects, the country’s already “stretched” military capacity is being put to the test, it said.

“National Security and the Threat of Climate Change,” written by 12 retired military leaders and published by the Center for Naval Analyses, a national security analysis nonprofit, said the U.S. armed forces should create a 30- to 40-year plan to address the risks.

“It is not possible to discuss the future of national and international security without addressing climate change,” retired Air Force Gen. Donald Hoffman said Wednesday in a press release. “Food shortages, droughts, floods — all directly tied to climate change will be catalysts for conflict.”

Unlike traditional national security concerns, climate change has the potential to create multiple chronic conditions occurring simultaneously around the world, the report said. It called climate change’s projected impact on water, food and energy security “profound.”

The world can expect “more poverty, more forced migrations, higher unemployment,” retired Navy admiral and former commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Command T. Joseph Lopez said in the report. He added that those conditions are “ripe” for extremists — another national security concern that climate change will likely exacerbate.

Still, the majority of the report’s recommendations were related to addressing domestic vulnerabilities.

An increase in frequency and intensity of hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean, for example, could have a destabilizing effect on U.S. fleets and ships, retired Navy Adm. Donald L. Pilling, former vice chief of naval operations, said in the report.

…(read more).

Global Climate Change
Environmental Justice
Environment Ethics

Chevron uses deep pockets to win Ecuador legal battle


Amazon residents set back in mismatched litigation with US oil giant, but fight for justice continues

May 16, 2014 2:30AM ET
by Lauren Carasik @ajam

On May 7, Patton Boggs, a prominent Washington law and lobbying firm, withdrew from an effort to enforce a $9.5 billion Ecuadorean court order against U.S. oil giant Chevron. Patton Boggs represented 48 Amazon residents in a long-running suit for health and environmental damages resulting from the dumping of 18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater in Ecuador’s northern Lago Agrio region.

As part of the settlement, in exchange for Chevron’s dropping a fraud claim against the firm, Patton Boggs agreed to pay the oil company $15 million, to provide documents and assign 5 percent of the profits to Chevron if the plaintiffs prevailed and to express regret for involvement in the case. The Ecuadorean plaintiffs, who first heard about the firm’s withdrawal in the press, condemned the “betrayal,” vowing to explore legal options to nullify all or parts of the settlement.

The firm’s sudden concession has been trumpeted as another legal and public-relations victory for Chevron. While the energy multinational may have indeed won a high-profile legal scuffle, the Amazonian farmers’ battle for justice is far from over. Besides, the withdrawal appears to be more about Patton Boggs’ survival than any commentary on the validity of the suit it had so vigorously and effectively promoted.

The settlement removes an impediment to Patton Boggs’ ongoing talks of a merger with global law firm Squire Sanders that is deemed critical to its solvency. But the firm’s abandonment of its clients and its promised cooperation with Chevron may tarnish its stellar reputation as unimpeachable advocates.

Steven Donziger, a New York–based attorney who has represented the Ecuadorean plaintiffs since the 1990s, argues that Patton Boggs’ remorse and public rebuke of clients in the process of withdrawal breach its obligations under New York’s ethical rules for lawyers. The Ecuadoreans have also alleged that the agreement threatens attorney-client confidentiality and burdens them with the task of objecting to the release of privileged information despite the fact that Patton Boggs’ withdrawal left them without representation in New York. Chevron’s demand for documents appears to target the financial details of the litigation, the counsel who aided the Ecuadoreans and others who could assist in enforcement of the court’s judgment. Chevron could also use the information to deter cooperation with efforts to recover the plaintiffs’ claims.

….(read more).

Environmental Justice
Environment Ethics

Bill Moyers Essay: An Antidote to Big Brother’s Chill



February 27, 2014

In this Web-only essay, Bill recommends a book out this week by award-winning investigative journalist Julia Angwin. Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance explores how we have become a society in which unbridled technology enables our government and corporations to constantly and indiscriminately collect data on us with no concern for privacy.

Bill notes the striking similarities between 21st century America and the dystopian societies invented more than a half-century ago by George Orwell in 1984 and Aldous Huxley in Brave New World. Perhaps that’s why sales of 1984 went through the roof after Edward Snowden dropped his trove of classified documents last summer.

Like Orwell’s telescreens — through which Big Brother broadcasts propaganda and spies on citizens — our lives are dominated by cellphones, tablets and laptops that are our real-life two-way mirrors. And although Huxley’s Brave New World contained some far-fetched ideas and scenarios, Bill concludes that “all those people genetically designed to be regimented into total social conformity and subservient to the groupthink of the one percent… could easily have walked right out Huxley and straight into Roger Ailes’ Fox News playbook or Rush Limbaugh’s studio.”

Dragnet Nation, he says, is the “antidote to Big Brother’s chill.”

Environmental Justice
Environment Ethics
Global Climate Change