Newsdesk – July 6, 2020

The project is intended to bring development to Turkey’s impoverished and insurgency-riven southeast.

An Ancient Valley Lost to ‘Progress’.  This Turkish river valley was prized for millennia for its beauty and treasures. Today the valley is submerged and 70,000 people are displaced, victims of President Erdogan’s ambitions for change. Government officials have emphasized that hydropower offered their greenest option when they decided to push ahead with the dam a dozen years ago, allowing Turkey to reduce its dependence on imported coal and gas. But many who lost their homes and livelihoods say they were never really consulted. When Mr. Erdogan first announced his determination to build the dam, he championed it not only for the energy it would provide Turkey’s expanding economy but also for the development it would bring to the impoverished and insurgency-riven southeast. The dam is part of the massive Southeastern Anatolia Project irrigation plan that was begun in the 1980s. Zeynep Ahunbay, a conservation architect, campaigned for more than a decade to save Hasankeyf, not only for its archaeological gems but also for the value of its ancient natural setting. “You see this valley, it is so impressive,” Ms. Ahunbay said, describing what it was like to round the hillside and see Hasankeyf come into view. “You see this river cutting the rock and it goes down and down, and in the end you have the citadel of Hasankeyf. It is really marvelous, and nature and man have formed this place.” Many who lost their homes and livelihoods are traumatize and bitter. Their efforts to save Hasankeyf collapsed in the face of Mr. Erdogan’s increasing authoritarianism. International law, lagging behind the shifting attitudes around climate change and the value of protecting the environment, was inadequate for safeguarding the cultural heritage.  Environmentalists and archaeologists, in Turkey and abroad, are angry and frustrated, too, at the loss of the valley and its treasures – The New York Times

  • Vermont just banned food waste in trash. Here’s how it works – Fast Company
  • With an eye on the environment, New Zealand wants to overhaul the way buildings are constructed – CNBC
  • Could Paying Farmers to Store Carbon Help the Climate and Save Farms? – Mother Jones
  • Australia Has a Flesh-Eating-Bacteria Problem – The Atlantic
  • We are throwing away a record 53.6 million metric tons of electronics – Fast Company
  • The world endured 2 extra heatwave days per decade since 1950 – but the worst is yet to come –
  • Reagan recognized the threat to the ozone layer; conservatives today should respond the same way to climate change | Opinion – Sun-Sentinel
A lump of coal in a quarry near the town of Ust IlimskPHOTOGRAPH: SCOTT SIMPER

The Epic Siberian Journey to Solve a Mass Extinction Mystery. A quarter-billion years ago, huge volcanic eruptions burned coal, leading to the worst extinction in Earth’s history.   To cause a mass extinction that unfolded over a mere tens of thousands of years, somehow all that carbon had to suddenly burn off and rapidly warm the whole planet. One long-standing hypothesis for the cause of the Permian-Triassic extinction, also known as the Great Dying is the large-scale burning of coal. Only such a catastrophe, scientists reckoned, had the power to transform Earth so radically in such a short period of time. And there’s no evidence of an asteroid strike in this period, like the one that would kill off the dinosaurs 190 million years later. The only problem is that scientists didn’t have the hard evidence to prove a massive combustion of coal did all those species in. But they knew where to look: in what we now call Siberia, a frigid expanse of land that 250 million years ago was anything but chilly, because it was flooded with lava. Planetary scientist Lindy Elkins-Tanton, of Arizona State University, was on a mission to prove it. After cutting through spools of red tape for half a year, in the summer of 2008 she and her team flew from Moscow to the tiny Arctic town of Khatanga. “We’d be in our tents and we would just hear these gigantic roaring landslides as the permafrost gave way, and whole sides of these cliffs slipped down as mud and huge amounts of trees,” she says. Elkins-Tanton and her colleagues scoured the Siberian landscape, chisels and small 10-pound sledgehammers in hand. They were looking for hard evidence of a cataclysm that might have kicked off the Permian-Triassic extinction: volcaniclastic rock—crumbly stuff, with lots of small particles stuck together, almost like sandstone. “I really wanted to find this place that was rumored where there were a lot of rocks that result from explosive volcanic eruptions,” Elkins-Tanton says, “because that’s the only way that we know of that you can effectively drive chemicals into the upper atmosphere where they’ll get spun around the whole planet.” She was closing in on the geological signals of apocalyptic climate change – Wired

FILE – This March 9, 2010, file photo shows a tanker truck passing the Chevron oil refinery in Richmond, Calif. A U.S. judge who held a hearing about climate change that received widespread attention has thrown out the underlying lawsuits that sought to hold big oil companies liable for the role of fossil fuels in the Earth’s warming environment. Judge William Alsup in San Francisco said Monday, June 25, 2018, that Congress and the president, not a federal judge, were best suited to address fossil fuels’ contribution to global warming. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

Climate battles are moving into the courtroom, and lawyers are getting creative.  There is a shift in how people are understanding the role of the judiciary in mediating cases related to the warming climate. “The courts are an increasingly important place for addressing the problem of climate change,” said Hari Osofsky, the dean of Penn State Law and the School of International Affairs. Two decades ago, only a handful of climate-related lawsuits had ever been filed worldwide. Today, that number is 1,600, including 1,200 lawsuits in the United States alone, according to data reported Friday by the London School of Economics. This shift been especially pronounced in the United States, where more than a dozen cases filed by states, cities and other parties are challenging the fossil fuel industry for its role in causing climate change and not informing the public of its harms. Last month, both Minnesota state and the District of Columbia filed lawsuits alleging that oil majors had misled consumers on how using their products involved releasing carbon emissions and contributing to climate change.  Some companies appear to be worried. The National Association of Manufacturers formed a group in 2017 to push back against “activist lawyers” for trying to scapegoat energy manufacturers. The group, called the Manufacturers’ Accountability Project, applauded a December ruling in New York clearing Exxon Mobil of securities fraud charges, after it was accused of failing to inform investors about what it knew about climate change. In a high-profile decision in January, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco dismissed “Juliana v. United States,” in which 21 youths had accused the federal government of infringing on their rights to life and liberty by perpetuating an economic system fuelling dangerous climate change. Judge Andrew Hurwitz said he had “reluctantly” concluded that the issue was a matter for the executive and legislative branches – Reuters