Now Is the Time to Talk About What We Are Actually Talking About - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
In the wake of the election, we must resist the slightest extension in the boundaries of what is right and just.

America has always been aspirational to me. Even when I chafed at its hypocrisies, it somehow always seemed sure, a nation that knew what it was doing, refreshingly free of that anything-can-happen existential uncertainty so familiar to developing nations. But no longer.

The election of Donald Trump has flattened the poetry in America’s founding philosophy: the country born from an idea of freedom is to be governed by an unstable, stubbornly uninformed, authoritarian demagogue. And in response to this there are people living in visceral fear, people anxiously trying to discern policy from bluster, and people kowtowing as though to a new king. Things that were recently pushed to the corners of America’s political space—overt racism, glaring misogyny, anti-intellectualism—are once again creeping to the center.

Now is the time to resist the slightest extension in the boundaries of what is right and just. Now is the time to speak up and to wear as a badge of honor the opprobrium of bigots. Now is the time to confront the weak core at the heart of America’s addiction to optimism; it allows too little room for resilience, and too much for fragility. Hazy visions of “healing” and “not becoming the hate we hate” sound dangerously like appeasement. The responsibility to forge unity belongs not to the denigrated but to the denigrators. The premise for empathy has to be equal humanity; it is an injustice to demand that the maligned identify with those who question their humanity.

America loves winners, but victory does not absolve. Victory, especially a slender one decided by a few thousand votes in a handful of states, does not guarantee respect. Nobody automatically deserves deference on ascending to the leadership of any country. American journalists know this only too well when reporting on foreign leaders—their default mode with Africans, for instance, is nearly always barely concealed disdain. President Obama endured disrespect from all quarters. By far the most egregious insult directed toward him, the racist movement tamely termed “birtherism,” was championed by Trump.

Yet, a day after the election, I heard a journalist on the radio speak of the vitriol between Obama and Trump. No, the vitriol was Trump’s. Now is the time to burn false equivalencies forever. Pretending that both sides of an issue are equal when they are not is not “balanced” journalism; it is a fairy tale—and, unlike most fairy tales, a disingenuous one.

Now is the time to refuse the blurring of memory. Each mention of “gridlock” under Obama must be wrought in truth: that “gridlock” was a deliberate and systematic refusal of the Republican Congress to work with him. Now is the time to call things what they actually are, because language can illuminate truth as much as it can obfuscate it. Now is the time to forge new words. “Alt-right” is benign. “White-supremacist right” is more accurate.

Now is the time to talk about what we are actually talking about. “Climate contrarian” obfuscates. “Climate-change denier” does not. And because climate change is scientific fact, not opinion, this matters…


Sharing Earth observation satellite data to help understand our planet

Since the launch of the first Earth-observing satellites in the 1970s, numerous missions from international space organisations have taken to the sky. Today, decades of data are helping scientists to build a better picture of changes to our planet.

Between 2008 and 2009, a 750 sq km-area of ice in the northern Antarctic – known as the Wilkins Ice Shelf – partly disintegrated. At the time, ESA’s Envisat satellite monitored the event with the help of the DLR German Aerospace Center’s TerraSAR-X mission.

While the event itself made headlines, scientists got to work studying the ice’s behaviour before the break-up and continued to monitor the area for years afterward.

In a study published recently, a team of researchers from the German university Erlangen-Nürnberg examined data dating back to 1994 from the ERS mission to map the ice speed on the Wilkins Ice Shelf up through 2010 using Envisat, TerraSAR-X and Japan’s ALOS.

Measuring the speeds over different periods, the team discovered that while very stable in the mid-1990s, the major ice-front retreat in 2008 greatly affected upstream ice-shelf areas, causing an increase. This suggests that the area of ice lost was responsible for restraining upstream ice.

Monitoring the behaviour of ice yields important information for climate change modelling.

But in order to monitor changes in ice – or any other climate variables such as sea levels, greenhouse gases or land cover – over long periods, it is imperative that there are no gaps in the data.

ESA’s archives date back to the 1980s and include not only information from ESA’s own satellites, but also data from international missions.

Access to information from different satellites carrying similar sensors allows scientists to obtain a more complete picture of an area of interest. For example, Envisat continued to monitor the Wilkins Ice Shelf until its mission ended in 2012, but Germany’s TerraSAR-X, Canada’s Radarsat and Italy’s Cosmo-SkyMed continued to collect data over the area.

Within ESA’s Third Party Mission programme, access to data from these and other missions are available to the worldwide scientific community at no cost, following the submission of a project proposal.

Today, the Sentinel-1 mission ensures global satellite radar coverage into the future, and the Copernicus programme’s free and open data policy also allows access to these important data.

As with any technology, formats change over time. Data from Envisat or the even older ERS radar mission is not identical to those from Sentinel-1. ESA is addressing this issue through the Long Term Data Preservation Programme, which ensures that both old and new satellite data and associated information are properly preserved and available for scientists, policy-makers and value-adding companies.

TOP IMAGE….Wilkins Ice Shelf, 1994–2015

LOWER IMAGE….Wilkins Ice Shelf ice speeds
Navajo Water Supply is More Horrific than Flint, But No One Cares Because they’re Native American

The news out of Flint, Michigan brought the issue of contaminated drinking water into sharp focus, as it was revealed that officials at every level—local, state and federal—knew about lead-poisoned water for months but did nothing to address the problem.

Under state-run systems like utilities and roads, poorer communities are the last to receive attention from government plagued by inefficiencies and corrupt politicians. Perhaps no group knows this better than Native Americans, who have been victimized by government for centuries.

In the western U.S., water contamination has been a way of life for many tribes. The advocacy group Clean Up The Mines! describes the situation in Navajo country, which is far worse than in Flint, Michigan.

Since the 1950s, their water has been poisoned by uranium mining to fuel the nuclear industry and the making of atomic bombs for the U.S. military. Coal mining and coal-fired power plants have added to the mix. The latest assault on Navajo water was carried out by the massive toxic spills into the Animas and San Juan rivers when the EPA recklessly attempted to address the abandoned Gold King mine.

“In 2015 the Gold King Mine spill was a wake-up call to address dangers of abandoned mines, but there are currently more than 15,000 toxic uranium mines that remain abandoned throughout the US,” said Charmaine White Face from the South Dakota based organization Defenders of the Black Hills. “For more than 50 years, many of these hazardous sites have been contaminating the land, air, water, and national monuments such as Mt. Rushmore and the Grand Canyon. Each one of these thousands of abandoned uranium mines is a potential Gold King mine disaster with the greater added threat of radioactive pollution. For the sake of our health, air, land, and water, we can’t let that happen.”

There is no comprehensive law requiring cleanup of abandoned uranium mines, meaning corporations and government can walk away from them after exploiting their resources. 75 percent of abandoned uranium mines are on federal and Tribal lands.

Leona Morgan of Diné No Nukes points out one example: “The United Nuclear Corporation mill tailings spill of 1979, north of Churchrock, New Mexico left an immense amount of radioactive contamination that down-streamers, today, are currently receiving in their drinking water. A mostly-Navajo community in Sanders, Arizona has been exposed to twice the legal limit allowable for uranium through their tap.”

Last week, Diné No Nukes participated in protests in Washington, D.C. to raise awareness of past and ongoing contamination of water supplies in the west, which disproportionately affects Indian country.

“These uranium mines cause radioactive contamination, and as a result all the residents in their vicinity are becoming nuclear radiation victims,” said Petuuche Gilbert of the Laguna Acoma Coalition for a Safe Environment, the Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment and Indigenous World Association. “New Mexico and the federal government have provided little funding for widespread clean up and only occasionally are old mines remediated.  The governments of New Mexico and the United States have a duty to clean up these radioactive mines and mills and, furthermore, to perform health studies to determine the effects of radioactive poisoning. The MASE and LACSE organizations oppose new uranium mining and demand legacy uranium mines to be cleaned up,” said Mr. Gilbert.

Politicians continue to take advantage of Native Americans, making deals with mining companies that would continue polluting their water supplies. Senator John McCain sneaked a resolution into the last defense bill which gave land to Resolution Copper. Their planned copper mining would poison waters that Apaches rely on and would desecrate the ceremonial grounds at Oak Flat.

While EPA and local officials have been forced to address the poisoned water in Flint, the contamination of Indian country water supplies continues. A bill called the Uranium Exploration and Mining Accountability Act, introduced by Arizona Congressman Raúl Grijalva, has languished in Congress for two years.


Justin Trudeau was elected on a promise of a new nation-to-nation relationship with First Nations in which he pledged to “absolutely” respect First Nations’ veto over pipeline projects crossing traditional territories. He has proved unequivocally the emptiness of that promise. His approval of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion Pipeline and Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline is the final, cynical betrayal to Canadians who voted for real change.

‘Sunny ways’ is over, and it has been for a long time.

He has lost all credibility for seeking reconciliation with First Nations over profits of corporations. He has gone against the popular will of Canadians, scientists, environmental groups, municipalities, the province of BC and the sovereignty of First Nations.

Canada could very well be on the verge of seeing blockades and protests with force that hasn’t been seen since the 1990s with Oka, Gustafsen Lake and Ipperwash. A new indigenous coalition created to fight fossil fuel expansion, the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion, now has over 100 Indigenous nations and organizations on its list of signatories.

Trudeau and Notley can pretend to care about many things: the economy, jobs, re-election. One thing they can no longer pretend to care about is “reconciliation.”

This is what colonialism looks like.

James Wilt, Federal Liberals Approval of Kinder Morgan Is Final Nail in the Coffin of ‘Reconciliation’

We saw this coming—and it is not over. Tsleil-Waututh Nation has vowed it will do whatever it takes to stop the Trans Mountain Pipeline, saying the approval is disappointing, dangerous and just the beginning.

Visit to stand with the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs against the expansion of the tar sands.