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Climate Hustle

2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #15

Posted on 15 April 2017 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook page during the past week. Articles of signifigance as determined by the editor are highlighted in the Editor's Picks' section.

Editor's Picks

An Indian court says glaciers and rivers are 'living entities.' Could the same approach work in the US?

Ganges River Kolkata India Chaiti Chhath Festival 

A Hindu devotee performs a ritual as she offers prayers to the Sun god in the waters of the Ganges River during the Chaiti Chhath Festival in Kolkata, India. The Gangotri glacier feeds the Ganges. (Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters

Just weeks after a high court in the Indian state of Uttarakhand granted legal personhood to the Ganges and Yamuna rivers, the same court recently extended that same standing to the Gangotri and Yamunotri glaciers that feed them. 

The finding follows New Zealand’s mid-March passage of a law recognizing the Whanganui River – a feature that the Maori people consider an ancestor – as a living entity. And the Indian court’s effort to protect the vanishing glaciers also carries religious overtones, since both the rivers and glaciers are considered sacred sites to many Hindus.

“The past generations have handed over the ‘Mother Earth’ to us in its pristine glory and we are morally bound to hand over the same Mother Earth to the next generation,” the two ruling justices wrote, according to India’s Hindustan Times. 

An Indian court says glaciers and rivers are 'living entities.' Could the same approach work in the US? by David Iaconangelo, Christian Science Monitor, Apr 7, 2017


Déjà vu all over again: Heartland Institute Peddling Misinformation to Teachers about Climate Change

Heartland Why-scientists-disagree-cover Not Science UCS

I have had the thrill of sharing the latest discoveries in the classroom with students who asked probing questions, when I was a faculty member of a University.  That journey of discovery is one that parents and family members delight in hearing about when students come home and share what they have found particularly intriguing.

What if the information the student shared was not based on the best available evidence?  Misinformation would begin to spread more widely.  If corrected, the student might distrust the teacher who may have not known the source material was compromised.

This scenario is not fiction.  It has happened and may still be occurring in some U.S. schools.  Anyone concerned about this can learn more with an update forthcoming from those who keep track – the National Center for Science Education (NCSE).

Déjà vu all over again: Heartland Institute Peddling Misinformation to Teachers about Climate Change by Brenda Ekwurzel, Union of Concerned Scientists, Apr 7, 2017


China's Xi Outshines Trump as the World's Future Energy Leader

US Pres Donald Trump (L) & Chinese Pres Xi Jinping (R)

US President Donald Trump (L) sits with Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) during a bilateral meeting at the Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida, on April 6, 2017. Credit: Jim Watson Getty Images

Much of Pres. Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago country club in Palm Beach, Fla., sits less than two meters above the Atlantic Ocean, meaning big parts of the resort could rest beneath the waves by the end of this century as seas rise in response to global warming. Already nearby communities like Miami Beach are flooded even when the sun shines, as higher seas push water up and out of the porous limestone underneath the ground in southern Florida.

China is no better off, with cities from Hong Kong to Shanghai at increasing risk of inundation. Other threats such as extreme weather, farms turned to desert and choking smog are all exacerbated by climate change that results from rising concentrations of carbon dioxide in the air. Even China’s efforts to combat those rising concentrations—in part by switching from burning coal to capturing the power latent in rivers like the Yangtze—falter in the face of global warming, as a result of less water in those rivers due to drought and the dwindling glaciers of the Tibetan Plateau.

But all that seems to exist in an alternate universe where facts matter, because Trump and China’s Pres. Xi Jinping apparently ignored climate change at their inaugural meeting last week. Although the two leaders apparently found time to discuss everything from North Korea’s nuclear capability to a potential reset of trade relations, climate change was never mentioned, even though Trump might have wanted to take the opportunity to directly fact check his Tweet from last year that China invented climate change to cripple U.S. manufacturing.

The silence was not a surprise, however, even if the focus 

China's Xi Outshines Trump as the World's Future Energy Leader by David Biello, Scientific American, Apr 11, 2017


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Comments

Comments 1 to 6:


  1. Just weeks after a high court in the Indian state of Uttarakhand granted legal personhood to the Ganges and Yamuna rivers.

    An Indian court says glaciers and rivers are 'living entities.' Could the same approach work in the US?


    Could this same approach work in the United States - such a holding in a US court would be in direct conflict in Roe V Wade where a personhood doesnt exist until emergence from the womb.  

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  2. @Joe: In the USA, corporations of various legal feathers are routinely granted personhood. The Supreme Court ruled in 2010 (Citizens United versus Federal Election Commission) that as legal persons, corporations have the same first Amendment rights as natural persons, and are therefore entitled to make political expenditures. Many see this as the final nail in American democracy, officially institutionalizing the rule of money.

    Almost all large corporate persons have been found guilty of felonies multiple times, but when it comes to jail time, bankruptcy, and the other normal responsibilities of natural persons, it turns out that fictional legal persons have more rights but less responsibilities.

    If we can enable faceless psychopathically inclined pools of capital to reap the rewards of actual personhood, without the concomitant obligations, there should be no reason why we cannot grant forests, wetlands, or rivers personhood.
    [psychopathic is used here as a diagnostic, not a derogatory term: most corporations manifest all the diagnostic criteria for psychopathy]

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  3. In the USA, corporations of various legal feathers are routinely granted personhood. The Supreme Court ruled in 2010 (Citizens United versus Federal Election Commission) that as legal persons, corporations have the same first Amendment rights as natural persons,


    JW - FYI the SC did not grant personhood or anything resembling personhood in CU.

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  4. Joe: On the other hand, Citizens United opened the floodgates for corporations to influence elections and the public policy decisions through the expenditure of unlimited amounts of money.  The federal government of the US has effectively become a government of big business, by big business, and for big business. 

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  5. @Joe: I should have been more circumspect with my terminology, and avoided "personhood" which has been a more contentious term. Notwithstanding, corporations and other legal entities are considered "legal persons" by the law and are the subject of legal agency, and it is on the basis of this legal agency and the First Amendment rights that inhere in it, that the Supreme Court granted them the right to political contributions and action.

    Common sense would dictate that a legal persoon has "personhood", but this is clearly not the case, as everybody recognizes that a "legal person" is no more than a legal artifice. Although universally recognized and employed, the concept of legal "persons" has been criticized in recent decades because it often enables the persons behind such social organizations "to get away with murder."

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  6. Please dont misunderstand what india is doing. we have a religion based fascist government in power. they are painting the color of religion everywhere, so all who get affected by that propaganda reacting with religious theme. Making just one river is sacred is a game for divide and rule and killing innocent people.

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