News Roundup – August 2017

Local Global Mass Extinction

According to an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in July, the planet is in the midst of the sixth mass extinction event. Strikingly, the scientists who wrote the article call this a “biological annihilation.”

The destruction of the planet happens bit-by-bit. A new big-box store, a new housing development, a new farm. Day-by-day, the change seems slow. But over a decade, or a lifetime, the scale of the destruction is dramatic.

Here in the Willamette Valley, we can see this in action. Due to agriculture and development, less than one tenth of one percent of the native oak savannah remains. Many local species have been driven to the brink, including the endangered Fender’s blue butterfly and the threatened Kincaid’s lupine. Both species are barely hanging on. One of their few havens is the Willow Creek preserve in southwest Eugene.

The latest threat is a proposed housing development on Gimpl Hill Road (see “Sour Grapes,” Eugene Weekly 5/27) that would destroy native habitat in favor of million-dollar trophy homes. There are many reasons this project is a mistake, including the lack of water in the neighborhood. Already, some wells run dry each summer.

But the most important reason is that contributing to “biological annihilation” for the sake of “sophisticated, secure gated country living” is wrong. The Lane County Board of Commissioners should do what is right — not what is profitable or easy. They should deny permits for this project.

DGR Member in Eugene, OR

100,000 Pages of Chemical Industry Secrets Gathered Dust in an Oregon Barn for Decades — Until Now

For decades, some of the dirtiest, darkest secrets of the chemical industry have been kept in Carol Van Strum’s barn. Creaky, damp, and prowled by the occasional black bear, the listing, 80-year-old structure in rural Oregon housed more than 100,000 pages of documents obtained through legal discovery in lawsuits against Dow, Monsanto, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forest Service, the Air Force, and pulp and paper companies, among others.

As of today, those documents and others that have been collected by environmental activists will be publicly available through a project called the Poison Papers. Together, the library contains more than 200,000 pages of information and “lays out a 40-year history of deceit and collusion involving the chemical industry and the regulatory agencies that were supposed to be protecting human health and the environment,” said Peter von Stackelberg, a journalist who along with the Center for Media and Democracy and the Bioscience Resource Project helped put the collection online.

Read the full article on The Intercept

Giving rights to the Siletz River ecosystem

By Dahr Jamail

On July 24, the Siletz River Ecosystem (SRE) in Northwestern Oregon took legal action to protect itself.

Becoming the third US ecosystem to do so, the SRE took this self-defense step by filing a motion to intervene in the lawsuit Rex Capri and Wakefield Farms, LLC v. Dana W. Jenkins and Lincoln County, and Lincoln County Community Rights.

Carol Van Strum, a farmer, author, parent, naturalist, copy editor and co-custodian of 20 acres of temperate rainforest, bottomland and river in the Oregon Coast Range, is an advocate for the intervention of the SRE. She told Truthout why.

“This is a significant and groundbreaking effort, literally from the ground, offering a far more effective, comprehensive way to protect the planet we’re part of than piecemeal campaigns to ban a single chemical or fight a single fracking or mining operation at a time,” she said. “It is also significant because it starts with communities taking back control of their lives and environment that industry-controlled governments have taken from them.”

Read the full article on Truthout

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