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COVID-19: A Consequence of Our Broken Relationship with Nature

COVID-19 is causing massive disruption to everyone’s work and lives. Hundreds of thousands have become ill, many fatally so. It appears this crisis originated with humans’ unsustainable approach to the exploitation of wildlife (plants and animals)—in this instance, wildlife trafficking. Wildlife trafficking is a commercial enterprise that entails illegal poaching, taking, and trade of wildlife.

Experts believe that the current coronavirus likely originated with the close interaction with wildlife—that may have been illegally trafficked—in a live animal market in Wuhan, China. The disease may have originated in bats and moved to an intermediary host—possibly the highly endangered pangolin, the most trafficked mammal on earth—from which the disease jumped to humans.

We have been here before. SARSEbola, and HIV all likely originated from the exploitation of wildlife, including threatened and endangered species. Now is the time to learn from our past actions. We must put an end to wildlife trafficking immediately. And, we must stop the unsustainable exploitation of wildlife more broadly. This is the second leading cause of the biodiversity crisis.

The destruction of biodiversity, including the poaching and trafficking of wildlife, puts people in incredible danger in a variety of ways: it spreads disease, jeopardizes security, undermines the rule of law, and threatens local economies that depend on nature. This current situation helps to crystalize that good wildlife policy and conservation funding, including for enforcement, must be a very high priority to protect our health, communities, and future.

Finally, it is essential to recognize that humans have all contributed to the biodiversity crisis we face, with a million species at risk of extinction in the near future. But this is no excuse for racial, ethnic, or other discrimination or retaliation. Cultures across the globe, including ours and yours, engage in some practices that are not compatible with protecting the diversity of life that exists on our planet and ourselves. And every culture has something to mend and contribute to global efforts to protect our gift of biodiversity that sustains us all. We applaud countries that have re-acknowledged the threats of wildlife trafficking by establishing and enforcing permanent bans on this illegal and deadly trade. Protecting all endangered species is now more important than ever

ESC Update

As we head into some uncertainty of the impact COVID-19 will have over the next month or so, the Endangered Species Coalition is taking steps to ensure the work of protecting the Endangered Species Act and all native wildlife continues.

ESC is abiding by CDC recommendations of not attending or assembling large gatherings. We are fortunate to be able to direct our staff across the country to telework from home. Our team is still mobilizing grassroots power, using creative alternatives allowing activists and member groups to speak up, and out, against the Trump Administration’s repeated and reckless attacks on the environment. We continue to be in contact with members of Congress about the PAW and FIN Act–the bill that would reverse the ESA Administrative rollbacks–and to advocate for robust funding for ESA protections. Our Endangered Species Day outreach continues with a focus on educational materials that children can enjoy at home and school. Because of you and your continuous support, we have been able to put the infrastructure in place to make this happen. We want to say thank you for helping us ensure that we can continue to advocate for plants and animals.

We are all in this together. At the same time, our staff is doing what we can, when we can, to support members of our broader community who are most impacted and hope that you will too. We are here for you should you have any questions about the work we continue to do.

 

The Buzz About Bees: Why Do We Need Them?

By at Gardener’s Path.

To understand why we need the little bumblebee, we need to understand how it helps us and why it is in danger. If the bee faces extinction, then the planet risks losing a great variety of foodstuffs.

We enjoy the beautiful flowers in our gardens but most of them need to be pollinated to survive. Without pollination, the plants would not be able to reproduce.

The recent decline in the number of pollinators is a sad fact in itself.

But did you know that bees actually pollinate about a sixth of the world’s crops, or around 400 of the agricultural plants we harvest?

According to the the US Fish and Wildlife Service that these insects contributed to the production of around nineteen billion dollars worth of foodstuffs in 2010 in the US alone.

This figure illuminates the true scale of this problem:

It amounts to about a third of all the food we eat.

Saying that there is a problem here is an understatement. But there are things that you can do to help. Read more…

Protecting Western Monarchs

By: Angela Laws, Endangered Species Conservation Biologist, The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation; Marlene Milosevich, conservation volunteer and Jeanne Dodds, Creative Engagement Director, Endangered Species Coalition

 

The western monarch population has declined by more than 99% from its size in the 1980’s, with an 86% drop in the size of the overwintering population from 2018 to 2019.  In response to this decline, The Xerces Society released a Call to Action, to identify the steps we can all take to help protect this species.

One step in this Call to Action is to restore breeding and migratory habitat in California.  To that end, The Xerces Society worked with longtime partners at Hedgerow Farms to create “Monarch and Pollinator Habitat Kits”.  Each kit contains 1600 transplants, including 800 native milkweed transplants and 800 non-milkweed native wildflowers to provide nectar.  Each species included in the kit is a native, drought tolerant, climate-smart species used by monarchs and other pollinators. Funding for these kits was made possible by a grant from the Wildlife Conservation Society Climate Adaptation Fund.

The Xerces Society was able to provide 32 kits to groups engaged in pollinator habitat restoration in California.  The Endangered Species Coalition donated funds to some of the kits, including the two kits awarded to the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge located in California’s Central Valley.  Staff at the refuge have been working to restore habitat for monarchs and other pollinators. On October 27, 2019, Angela Laws from Xerces joined refuge staff and a team of dedicated volunteers to plant one of the habitat kits.

One volunteer, Marlene Milosevich, generously agreed to talk with ESC about her engagement with pollinator conservation and habitat restoration; here is our interview:

Jeanne Dodds:  How did you become interested in pollinator conservation?

Marlene Milosevich: Several years ago, I was fussing over some heirloom tomatoes when I observed a neatly fashioned hole about 3/8 of an inch in diameter near the base of one of the plants.  I was immediately incensed at the thought that some vile creature was going to damage the root system of my tomatoes. As I stood there, hands on my hips and staring indignantly down at the hole plotting the defense of my precious plants, a chunky bee cruised low across the ground and deftly dropped down into the hole.  I was stunned, perplexed and fascinated. This was my first introduction to Svastra obliqua, a long-horned sunflower bee. I’ve been enamored ever since, pursuing the study of native bees and changing my gardening style to provide both food and nesting areas for them. Since I retired, I became a Master Gardener and California Naturalist through the programs offered by the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources and presented by the University of California Cooperative Extension Merced Office and the Sierra Foothill Conservancy respectively.

JD What motivates you to volunteer to create habitat for Monarch butterflies in California?

MM As I began to “Bee watch”, I observed a greater variety of bees, flies and wasps than I have ever noticed before.  However, what became increasingly apparent was the lack of the larger butterflies such as the Monarch and the Swallowtail along with the lack of Bumblebees.  I had observed these in abundance during my childhood but they seemed to be missing now. I have also noticed that most of our yards and gardens are sterile environments of mostly non-native, non-flowering shrubs and lawn.  As more open areas are destroyed by developments and healthy habitats are lost, I feel compelled to do something to rectify the situation.

JD What role do you that public lands, such as wildlife refuges, can play in Monarch conservation?

MM In providing protection for a specific species like the Condor or in maintaining waterfowl hunting areas, we have inadvertently provided protection for some of the smallest and overlooked creatures such as the insects.  These tracts of land in this most populated state in the union have become vital for it ensures these areas will be protected from development, hopefully into perpetuity. Areas of milkweed and nectar plants can be established and maintained with little inference from humans with mowers, pesticides and herbicides providing a safe haven for the Monarchs.

JD If you could tell others one way or share one reason to become involved with pollinator conservation, what would that be?

MM It enhances your life.  It will bring back the wonder and delight you had as a child.  Put down the electronics, step away from the screens, the phones and step outside.  Observe the natural world… it’s just outside your door…that’s where the true reality is.

 

Let’s Make This A Better Year for Wildlife!

If your New Year’s Resolution involved walking more gently on the planet, practicing compassion or being a more conscientious consumer – then this blog is for you!     

Seeing the Amazon and Malaysia rainforests burn, as well as the animals and plants that call these forests home, just to grow cheap palm oil, breaks my heart. The videos of endangered orangutans being shot out of trees infuriates me.  So much cruelty and brutality for cheap, unnecessary products. 

Palm oil has become ubiquitous in so many products as American corporations, shareholders and consumers greedily demand cheap products.  

Palm oil is derived from the fruit of the oil palm tree. The palm fruit yields both palm oil and palm kernel oil. Palm oil is extracted from the pulp of the fruit and is an edible oil used in food. Palm kernel oil is extracted from the seed of the fruit and is used in the manufacture of cosmetics.

There are two main species of oil palm tree; Elaeis guineensis, native to West Africa and Elaeis oleifera, native to Central and South America. Both species grow in tropical regions including Colombia in South America, New Guinea in the Pacific, Ghana in Africa and Indonesia and Malaysia in Southeast Asia. Palm oil plantations are the main driver for deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia. These two regions account for 85 percent of global production of palm oil.

When consumers try to purchase products without palm oil, the industry and corporations make it difficult for consumers to even know if a product has palm oil by using many different names on the labels. They literally try to trick us and this behavior should be illegal.   

If you do an internet search for “products without palm oil” many lists will pop up.  However, many of the products do have palm oil – just using a different name for palm oil. Some products market themselves as environmentally produced, such as Seventh Generation, Burt’s Bees and Toms of Maine but they contain palm oil. To stop purchasing palm oil one must read labels very carefully.  

Here is a list of names that are palm oil from the World Wildlife Fund:  

INGREDIENTS: Vegetable Oil, Vegetable Fat, Palm Kernel, Palm Kernel Oil, Palm Fruit Oil, Palmate, Palmitate, Palmolein, Glyceryl, Stearate, Stearic Acid, Elaeis Guineensis, Palmitic Acid, Palm Stearine, Palmitoyl Oxostearamide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Kernelate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Lauryl Lactylate/Sulphate, Hyrated Palm Glycerides, Etyl Palmitate, Octyl Palmitate, Palmityl Alcohol  

Sidenote:  Not all vegetable oil is palm oil however if a product does not disclose a particular oil, such as peanut oil, olive oil, sunflower oil etc. then it is probably palm oil. Palm oil is a saturated fat, so if a product lists vegetable oil and contains saturated fats as more than 40 percent of its total fat content on its nutritional information label – then you can 99% assume it would be palm oil. If you are still unsure, ask the company.

Deforestation photo credit Wikimedia

Burning rainforests and lying corporations made me angry –  so I took action. I did research to find better products for me and the planet.   

Corporations, politicians and lazy consumers will make it seem too difficult to be a conscientious consumer.  But it’s not! There is a false narrative that one consumer can’t make a difference and only government action will solve problems.  

I hope the government will take action but at this point they are not and won’t for a long time. Even if a bill requiring transparency passed the House, Senate and was signed by Trump today – it would not go into effect for a few years and that may be too late for some species. In fact, the government right now is rolling back safeguarding environmental regulations. 

Only consumer choices make a difference right now – today.  

Personally, I sleep better knowing I am trying not to harm people or animals.  

Food is easy – just do not purchase processed foods.  Buy fruits and vegetables, they are palm free! Buy cereals and breads with a few clear ingredients and try to buy organic – great way to avoid palm oil.  Avoid nutella, most candy and junk food in general and you are avoiding palm oil. Your healthy choices help your body and the forests and the plants and animals that live there! 

The bathroom and laundry room are more complicated but there are great products available now.  

I use all these products and love them. 

Everything on this list is palm oil free. 

They are vegan. 

They are cruelty-free. 

Many are organic. 

Almost all avoid single use plastic. Massive amounts of single-use plastic (only approximately 9% of plastic is recycled in the USA) ends up in wildlife habitat and animal and human bodies. 

You can even purchase directly from the company and do not need to use Amazon.

Let’s encourage these businesses to keep doing the right thing by supporting them!      

These are just my recommendations. There are more products being created every day.  As for price, I am not sure if these products are cheaper or more expensive than what you can buy at a chain corporate store, but those products do not internalize their externalities.  You pay for corporate pollution with your health – both mental and physical – and they get the financial profit. Flip it over! Buy products that benefit you in their utilitarian purpose, as well as help your health both mental and physically.  

And let the good guys make a profit!   

And if they are more expensive and you can afford them, buy them.  Economies of scale will bring prices down for everyone. 

Toothpaste – 

Davids has no palm oil, vegan, cruelty-free, made from renewable energy and comes in a metal tube. 

https://davids-usa.com/

Moisturizers, shampoos, lip balms, deodorant, soaps etc.-

All vegan, cruelty-free, no palm oil and almost all the products are organic. 

Products do come in plastic containers and I am asking them to find a way to return and refill.

https://fancifulfox.myshopify.com/

Paper goods for people and planet –

Have the choice to purchase paper products made from bamboo and no dyes or 100% recycled and no dyes. 

Everything comes in recycled paper – no plastic.  

https://us.whogivesacrap.org/

Palm oil free laundry products – 

Vegan and cruelty-free. 

Almost all laundry detergent has palm oil – but not at MyGreenRefills. 

You get a plastic container with your first purchase, then refill packets that come in paper.  

https://mygreenfills.com/

Glass, bathroom, and other cleaning products – 

Vegan, cruelty and palm oil free.

No single-use plastic because the first order includes containers, after that refill packets in paper.

Refill is the new recycle!    

https://www.blueland.com/pages/our-mission

Please let us know if you are using other great products.  We need to inform and educate each other and promote these companies for doing the right thing! 

Urgent action needed for Idaho wolves

The state of Idaho has long been a hostile environment for gray wolves. Since losing Endangered Species Act protections through congressional interference in 2011, wolves in this state have faced increasingly gruesome threats.

Submit your opposition online through the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s (IDFG) website. Scroll down and vote no on each proposal.

Just a few weeks ago, the state changed its rules to permit a single individual to kill up to 30 gray wolves annually. Now, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game is considering a series of measures that will make their state even more inhospitable to wolves.

IDFG is proposing to:

1: Lengthen the legal wolf hunting season from 7 months to 11-months in much of the state;

2: Permit year-round wolf hunting on public and private land in southwest and south-central Idaho;

3: Allow deadly and inhumane snares in some areas, and;

4: Create 173 days of new wolf trapping opportunities on public land.

The state is accepting public comments through the end of day on February 10th. Please vote “do not support” on all proposals on their form.

Part 1: Borneo Burning: One of the Faces of Climate Change

This post is a part 1 of a 4-part guest series by Sherri Harvey

According to the United Nations, 2019 was one of the most disastrous years on record for Climate Change disasters. In fact, in the month of July alone, there was a climate crisis disaster reported each week. Climate Change is real, although looks different in every single part of the world. No matter the face, there is no denying we need to find solutions. In Australia and California, fires ravaged the land. Fires in the Amazon have destroyed a large portion of the rainforests. In Indonesia, industrial-scale forest clearing has resulted in a 31 percent loss of rainforest in the past twenty-five years. In Borneo alone, the home of one of our biggest rainforests, mining, logging, and palm oil cultivation, has resulted in the destruction of a large portion of trees, a natural defense against climate change. And we need our rainforests. 

Tropical rainforests are located in five major regions: America, Africa, Southeast Asia, Madagascar, and New Guinea, with smaller outliers in Australia. They offer biological and cultural diversity as well as climate stability. In Borneo, the rainforests host the perfect balance of flora, fauna, soil, water, and animals to create an antidote for climate change, but what do the threats facing one of the biggest rainforests in the world actually look like? Borneo is ablaze. Rainforests are being replaced by palm forests. Dayak culture is disappearing. Orangutans face extinction. Indonesians need our help. Indonesia needs the world’s attention. 

In February 2020, I will be visiting places in the jungle that have fallen victim to the effects of the local and global demands for Borneo’s commodities and for the entire world’s natural remedies against climate change: the trees. My mission includes traveling upriver on canoes, driving through the jungle landscapes and staying in long homes with the traditional Dayak culture to paint a picture of one of the largest rainforests in the world. 

Through photos, essays and video, I plan to give a voice to the rainforest, the Dayak community and the orangutans in order to magnify the issues facing Borneo, and ultimately, all of us. Help me by following my journey to magnify the voices of Borneo in order to begin to see the ugly face of climate change. I aim to show the world what life is like for one of the last remaining rainforests on the planet.  

Only if we understand, can we care. Only if we care, we will help. Only if we help, we shall be saved” says Jane Goodall. Follow me here and at www.sherriharvey.com to view the effects that deforestation, mining, soil erosion, and illegal wildlife trading have on the people who live there. Could ecotourism bring awareness to the region and help the world realize that Borneo is burning and that they need help from the rest of the world before it’s too late?

David Attenborough’s Orangutan vs. Bulldozer photo

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Sher Harvey/The Accidental Advocate

www.sherriharvey.com

Orangutan photo credit USFWS/Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation

Wildlife Protection Legislation Advances in Congress

Today, the House Natural Resource Committee voted in favor of protecting wildlife, nature, and America’s legacy for future generations. 

We are in the sixth mass extinction event—the first caused by humans. One million species could be threatened with extinction due to habitat loss, pollution, invasive species and climate change, according to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. This report indicates that we have time to stem the crisis, but not without immediate action to protect wildlife and plants, especially imperiled species. The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, led by Chairman Grijalva (D-AZ), passed several bills today that will help us take immediate action to protect America’s web of life.

One bill overturns new rules issued by the Trump Administration that severely weaken the Endangered Species Act. H.R. 4348, Protect America’s Wildlife and Fish In Need of Conservation (PAW and FIN) Act of 2019, will terminate those new rules and restore the primacy of science, not politics, in wildlife decision-making.

In addition, two important pieces of legislation will help safeguard wildlife (and in many cases people) via the creation and support of wildlife corridors. H.R. 2795,Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act,”  will establish National Wildlife Corridors to provide for the protection of habitats and migration routes of native fish, wildlife, and plant species on federal public land. H.R. 5179, “Tribal Wildlife and Corridors Act” support wildlife corridors on tribal lands.

Other bills that advance responsible stewardship of our natural resources address extreme weather and climate change on wildlife, plants and fisheries; protect habitat by establishing a new wildlife refuge in California; and address nutria, a very harmful invasive species.

“This is a great day for oday, the House Natural Resource Committee voted in favor of protecting wildlife, nature, and wildlife and for all Americans who wish to be free to experience our country’s natural heritage. Millions of Americans have asked Congress to address the biodiversity crisis, and today Members of Congress took a significant step forward. The bills passed in the US House Natural Resource Committee can help restore and create protections for threatened and endangered species across the country. We applaud the committee members and will continue to work to ensure these bills are soon passed by Congress,” stated Leda Huta, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition.      

“We thank all Endangered Species Coalition member groups and activists for all their efforts to get these important bills moved out of committee,” continued Leda Huta, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition.    

HR 4679, 2748, 5179, 2795 passed – 22-15.  

Democrat Reps. Brown, Cartwright, Case, Costa, Cox, Cunningham, Degette, Dingell,  Gallego, Garcia, Grijalva, Haaland, Horsford, Huffman, Levin, Lowenthal, Napolitano, Neguse, Sablan, San Nicolas, Soto and Tonko voted yes. 

Republican Reps. Bishop, Cook, Curtis, Fulcher, Gosar, Graves, Hern, Hice, Lamborn, McClintock, Radewagen, Webster, Westerman, Wittman voted no. 

HR 4348 passed 21 – 16, with Congressman Costa joining the Republicans. 

HR 1240, 2956 and 3399 passed by Unanimous Consent, with no recorded vote.   

To read the bills, click on links:  

  •  
  • H.R. 4679 (Rep. Cunningham), To require the Comptroller General of the United States to submit to Congress a report examining efforts by the Regional Fishery Management Councils, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, and the National Marine Fisheries Service to prepare and adapt United States fishery management for the impacts of climate change, and for other purposes. “Climate-Ready Fisheries Act of 2019.”
  • H.R. 2748 (Rep. Cartwright), To establish an integrated national approach to respond to ongoing and expected effects of extreme weather and climate change by protecting, managing, and conserving the fish, wildlife, and plants of the United States, and to maximize Government efficiency and reduce costs, in cooperation with State, local, and Tribal Governments and other entities, and for other purposes. “Safeguarding America’s Future and Environment Act.”
  • H.R. 5179 (Rep. Gallego), To require the Secretary of the Interior to establish Tribal Wildlife Corridors, and for other purposes. “Tribal Wildlife Corridors Act of 2019.”
  • H.R. 2795 (Rep. Beyer), To establish National Wildlife Corridors to provide for the protection and restoration of certain native fish, wildlife, and plant species, and for other purposes. “Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act of 2019.”
  • H.R. 4348 (Rep. Grijalva), To terminate certain rules issued by the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce relating to endangered and threatened species, and for other purposes. “Protect America’s Wildlife and Fish In Need of Conservation Act of 2019.”
  • H.R. 1240 (Rep. Young), To preserve United States fishing heritage through a national program dedicated to training and assisting the next generation of commercial fishermen. “Young Fishermen’s Development Act of 2019.” 
  • H.R. 2956 (Rep. Calvert), To provide for the establishment of the Western Riverside County Wildlife Refuge.
  • H.R. 3399 (Rep. Harder), To amend the Nutria Eradication and Control Act of 2003 to include California in the program, and for other purposes.

Positive Steps for Wildlife as House Natural Resource Committee Passes Protection Bills

Some Bills Include Bipartisan Co-sponsorship

Washington, D.C.—Today, the House Natural Resource Committee voted in favor of protecting wildlife, nature, and America’s legacy for future generations.

We are in the sixth mass extinction event—the first caused by humans. One million species could be threatened with extinction due to habitat loss, pollution, invasive species and climate change, according to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. This report indicates that we have time to stem the crisis, but not without immediate action to protect wildlife and plants, especially imperiled species. The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, led by Chairman Grijalva (D-NM), passed several bills today that will help us take immediate action to protect America’s web of life.

One bill overturns new rules issued by the Trump Administration that severely weaken the Endangered Species Act. H.R. 4348, Protect America’s Wildlife and Fish In Need of Conservation (PAW and FIN) Act of 2019, will terminate those new rules and restore the primacy of science, not politics, in wildlife decision-making.

In addition, two important pieces of legislation will help safeguard wildlife (and in many cases people) via the creation and support of wildlife corridors. H.R. 2795,“Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act,”  will establish National Wildlife Corridors to provide for the protection of habitats and migration routes of native fish, wildlife, and plant species on federal public land. H.R. 5179, “Tribal Wildlife and Corridors Act” support wildlife corridors on tribal lands.

Other bills that advance responsible stewardship of our natural resources address extreme weather and climate change on wildlife, plants and fisheries; protect habitat by establishing a new wildlife refuge in California; and address nutria, a very harmful invasive species.

“This is a great day for wildlife and for all Americans who wish to be free to experience our country’s natural heritage. Millions of Americans have asked Congress to address the biodiversity crisis, and today Members of Congress took a significant step forward. The bills passed in the US House Natural Resource Committee can help restore and create protections for threatened and endangered species across the country. We applaud the committee members and will continue to work to ensure these bills are soon passed by Congress,” stated Leda Huta, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition.     

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Contact: Leda Huta, lhuta@endangered.org, (202) 320-6467

Our House is On Fire

VOTE – SPEAK – ACT!

Every day we see more examples of wildlife being hurt and killed by climate change.  In Australia, more than a billion native species have burned to death, including kangaroos and koalas. Fires in the rain forests of Malaysia and Brazil contribute to global warming and kill endangered orangutans and giant armadillos. Plants and animals are taking the horrific brunt of human excess and greed. 

Sometimes I feel alone in my understanding of how terrible this crisis really is and how urgently we must act.  People often seem apathetic and behave as though someone else will solve the problem. 

But I am not alone. We are not alone. 

Firedrill Friday

Jane and Corry being arrested. Photo by Karen Ramsey

In response to the crisis, Endangered Species Coalition has been participating in Fire Drill Fridays in Washington DC.  Fire Drill Fridays were created by Jane Fonda, in order to support the efforts of Greta Thunberg and other young climate activists, to demand real climate action and a Green New Deal.  The events included educational webinars, inspirational speakers and civil action and disobedience.  

Hundreds of brave souls were arrested.  Jane Fonda was arrested four times and spent one night in jail. I was arrested twice.   

Getting arrested is scary. Fire Drill Fridays provided training on civil disobedience and the process of getting arrested. They warned us that we would be in painful handcuffs for hours, it would be very cold, and the bathroom situation was not ideal. 

When laws are created to protect corporations that hurt and kill people and animals, and our government defends those laws and corporations and not its citizens and voters, it’s time to challenge the law and engage in civil, non-violent disobedience.  

We have spent decades in court, published scientific reports, created petitions and action alerts and politely asked elected officials to do the right thing. Many of us have engaged in Get Out the Vote activities and vote in every election.  It has not been enough. Decision-makers are not listening. For some, it’s time for civil disobedience. 

Fire Drill Fridays started on Friday, October 11 and ended (in Washington DC) on Friday, January 10.   They are now moving to Los Angeles, California – and beyond.  

Greenpeace, an ESC member group, was the lead conservation organization helping Jane Fonda and will be coordinating Fire Drill Fridays throughout the country moving forward. 

Fire Drill Fridays’ specific topics included climate change and: the Green New Deal; oceans; women; war & military; environmental justice; water; food-justice-agriculture; justice and immigrant rights; jobs & communities; health; forests; and holding fossil fuel companies accountable.  

We most definitely are not alone!  Thousands of people joined the rallies, even on rainy and cold days. It was very inspiring. And the rallies had amazing speakers, experts, and celebrities who raised their voices and were arrested to call attention to the climate crisis! 

Endangered Species Coalition at Fire Drill Friday

Over the course of three months, the speakers on Thursday night webinars and Friday Capitol Hill rallies included: Abigail Leedy (Sunrise Movement), Jasilyn Charger (Indigenous Environmental Protector), Matt Nelson (Presente.org), Whitney Crowder, Jennifer Jacquet, (NYU), Denise Patel (GAIA), John Hocevar (Greenpeace), Rachel Carmona (Women’s March), Asali Devan Ecclisiates, Jodie Evans (CODEPINK), Krystal Two Bulls (Veterans Against the War), Ben and Jerry, Phyllis Bennis, Ciarra Taylor, Robert Kennedy Jr., Khadlja Khokar, Abigail Disney, Mark Magana (Green Latinos), Yvette Arellano, Von Hernandez (Break Free from Plastics), Nick Brana (Extinction Rebellion), Garett Reppenhagen (Veterans for Peace), Mary Grant (Food and Water Watch), Kallan Benson, Gail Taylor, Ricardo Salvador (UCS), Lindsey Allen (Rainforest Action), Jim Goodman (Farm Activist), Sarah Schumann (Commercial Fisherman), Joel Alejandro Salazar (Resilience Force), Rev Dousa, Rabbi Devorah Lynn, Rabbi Shneyer, Joshua Alvarez (Sunrise Movement), Claudi Quinonez (United we Dream), Rev Anderson, Imam Saffett Cadov, Liz Butler (FOE), Diamonte Brown (Teachers Union), Winona Laduke (Economist, author), Gloria Steinem, Roshi Joan Halifax, Laura Seydel, Dolores Huerta (labor activist), Al-Jen Poo, Rev. Barber, Rolando Navarro (CIEL), Veronica Coptis (Center for Coalfield Justice),  Kat Taylor (Beneficial State Bank), Annie Leonard, Eriel Tchekwie Deranger (Indigenous Climate Action) and Bill McKibben.  

Celebrities included Sam Waterston, Ted Danson, Catherine Keener, Rosanna Arquette, June Diane Raphael, Brooklyn Decker, Diane Lane, Piper Perabo, Manny Jacinto, Amber Valletta, Paul Scheer, Ian Armitage, Maura Tierney, Kyra Sedgewick, Taylor Schilling, Sally Field, Casey Wilson, Lily Tomlin, Josh Fox, Ian Armitage, Naomi Klein, Martin Sheen, Joaquin Phoenix and Amber Valletta.

We must not relent.  We must keep demanding real climate action now. Please create or join a Fire Drill Friday in your community! To get involved and plan a Fire Drill Friday in your community text 877877 or go to firedrillfridays.com.