Reprinted from I Count For My Earth Blog.

A new study shows that 78 percent of Americans think that the President and Congress should make developing sources of clean energy a priority. Yet 50 percent of Americans have never heard of the Keystone XL pipeline!

Someone has to try and enlarge the audience, reach out to the unreachable. But how do you reach a crowd that is normally not within an environmentalist’s reach?

As Barack Obama said on July 24th 2008, “this is the moment when we must come together to save this planet.”

Univer Soul (a.k.a. John Dares) and Grammy-Award winner Jason Goldstein came together to do just that with this outside-of-the-expected, powerful and relevant (not to mention silly) protest song:

All digital sales proceeds are donated to a diverse handful of environmental groups and activists listed, including, Clean Water Action and Street School Collective.

High profiler environmentalists including Bill McKibben, Ed Begley, Jr., Elisabetta Canalis, Mark Ruffalo, Van Jones and many more have been spreading the word about this video and I hope you will too by sharing this post!

For more, visit

The lyrics:

We Are Glued, The Earth Is a Temple
Don’t You Detect, They Don’t Care ‘Bout You
They Just Want The Job, They’re Useless
What To Do, What To Do, What To Do?
Try The Greens, Try The Greens

Don’t Screw It Up
Give It a Shit
We Are The Leader
Must Find a Way Out
What To Do, What To Do, What To Do?
Try The Greens, Try The Greens

No Nobel, No Way, Where’s The Peace?
Mister One Billion Campaign
Blah Blah Blah And All That Shit
S.P.A. Dog, The Oil Spill, Say It All
Expect The Worst With The Same Liars
What To Do, What To Do, What To Do?
Try The Greens, Try The Greens, For Your Kids, For Your Castle

Home At Bay, Just a Blah Blah Blah, Blah
Home At Bay, Just a Blah Blah Blah, Blah
Home At Bay, Just a Blah Blah Blah, Blah
Home At Bay, Just a Blah Blah Blah, Blah
Home At Bay, Just a Blah Blah Blah, Blah

They’re not afraid of being ridiculed for having tried something different, something new. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

They’re hoping people beyond the typical environmental choir will take notice of the video for its silliness and for its musical originality of dance-meets-rap, so that maybe they’ll hear the content of the message.

The power of music is a barrier-breaker, capable of igniting crowds that don’t care for rallies, and has the potential to last well beyond a day’s protest, a blockade, a summer.

Ultimately, it’s the people who hold the power, it is their power that can preserve their planet for their children.

Follow Stop KXL on twitter @StopKXL.

Lynn Hasselberger is an environmental advocate, writer and social media addict currently working to spread the word about the important documentary Unacceptable Levels. You can connect with her on Facebook and twitter @LynnHasselbrgr.


In a year when big news outlets like the New York Times cut their environmental beat and their Green blog, it’s nice to see that smaller organizations can be recognized for their contribution. Case in point: Three reporters, Elizabeth McGowan, Lisa Song and David Hasemyer, of InsideClimate News nabbed a Pulitzer for their national news reporting.  The organization released this statement:

The trio took top honors in the category for their work on "The Dilbit Disaster: Inside the Biggest Oil Spill You've Never Heard Of," a project that began with a seven-month investigation into the million-gallon spill of Canadian tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River in 2010. It broadened into an examination of national pipeline safety issues, and how unprepared the nation is for the impending flood of imports of a more corrosive and more dangerous form of oil.

InsideClimate News is only the third online organization to win and it’s also as small nonprofit.

Their reporting on the Kalamazoo tar sands spill should be required reading — it gets more and more relevant everyday — the Arkansas spill is just another unfortunate reminder of that. You can read the work as an ebook. They also have excellent coverage of the situation in Arkansas and I’d highly recommend the work they published, “Clean Break” by Osha Gray Davidson, on how Germany is spurring a renewable energy revolution and what we can learn from it. 

Kudos to great reporting, an organization that invests in in-depth environmental investigations, and the many readers who support independent journalism.

Reprinted from Global Exchange.

On April 9, the City Council of Santa Monica voted 7-0 to adopt the state’s first ever Bill of Rights for Sustainability, directing the city to “recognize the rights of people, natural communities and ecosystems to exist, regenerate and flourish.” Santa Monica joins dozens of U.S. communities, the nations of Ecuador, Bolivia, and New Zealand in the fast-growing movement forNature’s Rights.

With the passage of this ordinance, Santa Monica challenges the legal status of nature as merely property, and empowers the City or residents to bring suit on behalf of local ecosystems. While not eliminating property ownership, these new laws seek to eliminate the authority of a property owner to destroy entire ecosystems that exist and depend upon that property. The ordinance also mandates the City to follow the Sustainable City Plan as a guide for decision-making to maximize environmental benefits and reduce or eliminate negative environmental impacts.

“As a city with very little green space or fresh local water, becoming a model for sustainability and moving toward self-reliance is important for our community’s long term well-being,” says Cris Guttierez, organizer for Santa Monica Neighbors Unite!, a group that organized and mobilized residents to support the law. “We’re proud to be on the cutting edge of environmental protection.”

The idea came about from conversations between Mark Gold, the 20-year Chair of Santa Monica’s Task Force on the Environment, and Linda Sheehan, who now directs the nonprofit Earth Law Center. “Linda and I had been pretty successful over the years in the water quality arena,” says Gold. “But we realized that despite all our good work protecting public health and environmental resources, we were still as a society going backwards in the big picture. It was time to shake things up, recognize the existing environmental laws just weren’t doing the job and that sustainability wasn’t actually possible as long as we treat nature as a thing to be exploited.”

Sheehan, also an environmental attorney, brought in California-basedGlobal Exchange and Pennsylvania law group, theCommunity Environmental Legal Defense Fund(CELDF), organizations specializing in assisting communities to write new laws to place the rights of communities and ecosystems above corporate profits, to hold a 3-day “Democracy School” training in Santa Monica.

Sheehan and Global Exchange’s Community Rights program director, Shannon Biggs then presented draft ordinances to the Task Force on The Environment. As Shannon Biggs, Community Rights Director for Global Exchange told the Task Force, “Recognizing rights for nature does not stop development; rather it stops the kind of development that interferes with the existence and vitality of those ecosystems.”

The process took about three years in total, and the ordinance went through several changes during the course of numerous Task Force and other public meetings.  The ordinance was eventually submitted to the city council in 2012.  At that time, before a packed chamber, dozens of residents spoke in support of the ordinance, spurring the council to pass a resolution in support of its Rights of Nature provisions.

Then, in a surprise move, Santa Monica’s City Attorney, Marsha Jones Moutrie, met with Sheehan and Gold to talk about the ordinance and its framework of rights, and ended up drafting a new version — ultimately becoming the ordinance that passed by unanimous vote of the Council this year. “The final ordinance is not as strong as the original, notes Global Exchange’s Biggs, citing a few examples, “it doesn’t strip Constitutional protections like corporate personhood or the Commerce Clause that enable corporations to override community concerns, and it doesn’t strictly prohibit any activities, which means it is up to the community to keep the pressure on the city to enforce it when something comes up. But it’s a step forward for brand new environmental protections.”

Gold and Guttierez don’t believe holding the City’s feet to the fire will be a problem, and the ordinance does mandate regular public reviews of the Sustainability City Plan and forces the city to take action if goals aren’t being met. As Guttierez notes, “Working to educate people about rights of nature and the ordinance was a challenge, but now our work really begins. Many goals we could not lay out in the ordinance, but at the same time, that’s what we should be driving for, practical measurable goals. Turning it into an educational tool is exciting. Sustainability is now our legal commitment.”



Reprinted from Global Exchange.

Here’s a 90 second test to see if a picture is truly worth 1,000 words when it comes to fracking. After watching this image video, answer one question: would you want fracking in your backyard?

Still believe the corporate hype that fracking is safe and good for the economy? Then read on.

Separating frack from fiction:

The truth is out there sitting next to, hovering over and lying below every hydro fracking shale “play”  in the U.S.  Wherever frackers frack, water water and more water is contaminated and toxified—along with the soil and the air, and the atmosphere.

Things like scientific evidence don’t seem to matter much to corporate executives and their bought and paid for politicians, PR firms and lobbyists, who argue that fracking is absolutely safe, bringing prosperity and energy security.  And just like that, despite the mounting evidence that fracking is dirty and dangerous…we have a “debate.”  This “syndrome” has now been identified as “The Sky is Pink,” coined by former Pittsburgh City Councilman Doug Shields, and made famous in the video short of the same name, by famed fracking documentary filmmaker, Josh Fox.

After Pittsburgh PA’s city water supply was contaminated by gas drilling, City Councilman Doug Shields worked to pass an ordinance asserting the community’s right to ban fracking.In this 18 minute video short, Shields describes for Josh how industry professionals have used money to cast doubt on scientific evidence surrounding fracking. Science says the sky is blue. The gas industry says it is pink. Suddenly, there’s a debate. “They’re coming in and telling me the sky is pink all day,” says Shields, adding that in the fracking hub surrounding Harrisburg, PA “the sky actually IS pink.”

Global Exchange, Doug Shields and our partners are hitting the road in CA

More than 50% of Californians don’t know what fracking IS, let alone where it is or what its impacts might be.  So we’re hitting the road to share the facts and stories from other communities who have faced fracking already.

The speaking tour targets impacted communities throughout the largest shale regions of California. We’re bringing community voices, scientists, and anti-fracking leaders to California audiences, and sharing ways for communities to engage—from working with Global Exchange to pass a “rights-based” local ban like Pittsburgh, PA has done, to all of the strategies employed by the growing anti-fracking movement in California.

Join the Tour

Join Global Exchange and our partners including Doug Shields, CELDF, the Center for Biological DiversityClean Water Action350.0rgEARTHWORKS, Food & Water Watch, Transition Towns, CREDO Action, and our local community hosts on the road throughCalifornia’s Fracklands April 14-21. Check out our tour schedule in places like Chico, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Culver City and San Diego.

If you don’t live near the route, but are concerned about fracking, let us know, because we’re doing a second tour leg this summer, maybe through your hometown.

Shannon Biggs is the director of the Community Rights program at Global Exchange.

This article was published in partnership with

What does the face of environmental movement look like to you? Does it look like Nancy Zorn, a 79-year-old grandmother from Warr Acres, Oklahoma? If not, it should. 

Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance reports:

Oklahoma grandmother Nancy Zorn, 79, from Warr Acres, has locked herself to a piece of heavy machinery effectively halting construction on TransCanada’s Keystone XL toxic tar sands pipeline. This action comes in the wake of the disastrous tar sands pipeline spill in Mayflower Arkansas, where an estimated 80,000 gallons of tar sands spilled into a residential neighborhood and local waterways. 

“Right now our neighbors in Arkansas are feeling the toxic affect of tar sands on their community. Will Oklahoma neighborhoods be next?” asked Zorn before taking action today. “I can no longer sit by idly while toxic tar sands are pumped down from Canada and into our communities. It is time to rise up and defend our home. It is my hope that this one small action today will inspire many to protect this land and our water.”Using a bike-lock, Zorn has attached her neck directly to a massive earth-mover, known as an excavator, which has brought construction of Keystone XL to a stop.  Zorn is the second Oklahoma grandmother this year risking arrest to stop construction of the pipeline, and her protest is the third in a series of ongoing civil disobedience actions led by the Oklahoma-based coalition of organizations, Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance.

Actions against the Keystone XL are growing and are supported by a diverse group of individuals from Alberta to Texas. Oh and by the way, you can contribute to Nancy’s bail fund.


This article was published in partnership with

There is a push to get tar sands through the US -- whether by pipeline or rail. Either way, it may be a mess. Reuters reported today:

A mile-long train hauling oil from Canada derailed and leaked 30,000 gallons of crude in western Minnesota on Wednesday, as debate rages over the environmental risks of transporting tar sands across the border.

The leak - the first major spill of the modern North American crude-by-rail transit boom - came when 14 cars on a 94-car Canadian Pacific train left the tracks about 150 miles north west of Minneapolis near the town of Parkers Prairie, the Otter Tail Sheriff's Department said.

A statement from Tar Sands Blockade reported:

Dan Olson, a spokesperson for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, today confirmed that the substance spilled is, indeed, tar sands from Alberta, Canada. Tar sands shipment by rail has increased rapidly in the last three years while the industry faces widespread public outcry against tar sands pipelines and related infrastructure projects.

Michigan is still trying to clean up from a tar sands pipeline spill in July 2010 where over a million gallons ended up in the Kalamazoo RIver. It has been a monumental mess ever since and a signal about how the industry views human health and environmental safety. As Henry Henderson writes for the Huffington Post: 

While the disaster was unfolding, the CEO of Enbridge was on-hand, but did not bother to tell authorities that they should consider some alternative cleanup techniques to deal with the heavier-than-water bitumen slurping out of his busted pipe. As a result, the cleanup was largely focused on skimming oil off the surface initially. Later, officials realized that a wide swath of the river bottom was mucked with tar sands oil globules, as were sensitive wetlands along the waterway. The cleanup has focused on those areas since and recent press reports imply that even though most of the oil is gone, some of those submerged globules are continuing to spread.

The fact that Enbridge's CEO did not offer up help in this area is not surprising. The National Transportation Safety Board reports detailing the disaster are riveting to read; offering a shocking and damning account of incompetence and a bullying work atmosphere in the Alberta control room that was supposed to prevent this sort of spill. But his unwillingness to even admit that tar sands were involved in the unfortunate incident, even when asked directly by multiple reporters, continues to shock me.  

Is there more of this on tap for the US? Cindy Spoon, a native Texan and spokesperson with Tar Sands Blockade, "I'm fed up with rich fossil fuel corporations getting to decide when and where they can irrevocably damage our homes and our climate. Tar Sands Blockade stands in solidarity with the Red Lake Blockade and all people rising up to ensure not a drop of toxic tar sands will flow through our communities."

This story was reprinted from Berkeley Media Studies Group.

Both the media and major health organizations often trumpet the health benefits of breastfeeding. Babies who are breastfed, they will tell you, are more likely to enjoy better brain development, a lower risk of infections, a stronger heart, and a decreased chance of developing chronic conditions like diabetes or asthma. Groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organization consider breastfeeding so beneficial that they recommend moms do so exclusively (giving no other foods or liquids) for the first six months. And the CDC has identified breastfeeding promotion as a key strategy in its goal to improve the health of moms and kids.

It may come as no shock, then, that approximately 90 percent of mothers in California enter the hospital intending to breastfeed. So why is it that by the time they are discharged, only 40 percent are still breastfeeding exclusively? For all the reporting on breastfeeding, what we don't often hear about are challenges that can make it an unrealistic option. In spite of breastfeeding's known ties to health, for many mothers, the social barriers to continued nursing are simply too high -- particularly when the very places where women give birth do little to support the practice.

Many hospitals, especially those in low-income communities and communities of color, lack policies that promote breastfeeding. Fortunately, a new bill by California state Senators Kevin de León and Fran Pavley would help change that. Sponsored by the California WIC Association, the new legislation (SB 402) would require all California hospitals with perinatal units to adopt, by 2020, a set of practices shown to improve breastfeeding rates. The practices include having a written policy on breastfeeding that staff are trained to implement, keeping moms and babies in the same room, showing mothers how to breastfeed (and how to maintain their milk supply if they are away from their babies), and giving infants no formula or other breast milk supplement unless it is medically necessary.

This legislation is critical not only for babies' health but also for the health of their mothers. Breastfeeding can decrease a woman's risk of breast and ovarian cancers, Type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis. It also helps protect against high cholesterol and heart disease.

When mothers and children are healthy, our whole society benefits. Yet, without policies to make sure breastfeeding is well supported in all communities, women's desire to breastfeed will continue to lose out to obstacles that they, as individuals, have little control over.

Of course, weak hospital policy isn't the only reason why breastfeeding rates remain stubbornly low. Breastfeeding rates continue to drop after women leave the hospital. By the time their children are six months old, less than 22 percent of California moms are still breastfeeding exclusively.

Other barriers include a lack of support in the workplace (which may prevent moms from being able to pump and store milk), aggressive formula marketing (filled with vague and misleading health claims), a dearth of cultural support (which can result in nursing moms being kicked off of airplanes and out of courtroomsretail stores and other public spaces), and a lack of reporting on these barriers.

Still, improving hospital policy to support breastfeeding is one critical step in the right direction. And with our collective health depending on it, the time to act is now.

Those interested in supporting SB 402 can attend a Senate Health Committee hearing on the bill Weds., April 3, at 1:30 p.m., in Room 4203 of the State Capitol in Sacramento.


This article was published in partnership with

I’ve heard of hurricane season and wildfire season, but this is the first I’ve ever heard of a sinkhole season. NBC News reported

Across Florida this time of year, it's the start of what's unofficially considered the "sinkhole season," State Geologist Jonathan Arthur said. It coincides with the beginning of the state's rainy season and usually lasts until the end of summer. ... Acidic rain can, over time, eat away the limestone and natural caverns that lie under much of the state, causing sinkholes. Both extremely dry weather and very wet weather can trigger sinkholes, he said. 

Sinkholes have of course become a hot news topic since a 37-year-old man is presumed dead in Florida after a sink hole that developed underneath the bedroom of his house swallowed him while sleeping. 

While the death was shocking, sinkholes in Florida are nothing new. (In one of the most well-known events in Winter Park, Florida in 1981 a 320-foot wide sink hole swallowed a home and a Porsche dealership.) Business Week reports:

The sinkhole that killed Jeff Bush wasn’t even one of the state’s 15,000 verified sinkholes, which are located mainly in central Florida and around Tampa. Plenty are unverified, according to research from CoreLogic. Springhill, on the state’s west coast, has the greatest number of  verified sinkholes, with 3,145—roughly one for every 31 residents. 

If your interest is piqued the United States Geologic Survey has more info.

1. So, what are they exactly?

The USGS reports

A sinkhole is an area of ground that has no natural external surface drainage. Basically this means that when it rains, all of the water stays inside the sinkhole and typically drains into the subsurface.

Sinkholes are most common in what geologists call, “karst terrain.” What’s that? These are regions where the type of rock below the land surface can naturally be dissolved by groundwater circulating through them. Soluble rocks include salt beds and domes, gypsum, and limestone and other carbonate rock. Florida, for instance, is an area largely underlain by limestone and is highly susceptible to sinkholes.

When water from rainfall moves down through the soil, these types of rock begin to dissolve and spaces and caverns develop underground. Sinkholes are dramatic because the land usually stays intact for a period of time until the underground spaces just get too big. If there is not enough support for the land above the spaces, then a sudden collapse of the land surface can occur.

Keep in mind though that while collapses are more frequent after intense rainstorms, there is some evidence that droughts play a role as well. Areas where water levels have lowered suddenly are more prone to collapse formation.

2. Where are they? 

They’re not just in Florida, according to the USGS:

About 20% of our country is underlain by “karst terrain” and is susceptible to a sinkhole event. The most damage from sinkholes tends to occur in Florida, Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania.

3. What causes them? 

While many are caused naturally, others are induced by us.

Many sinkholes form from human activity. Collapses can occur above old mines, from leaky faucets, when sewers give way, or due to groundwater pumping and construction.

Think about all the changes that occur when water-drainage patterns are altered and new systems are developed. And when industrial and runoff-storage ponds are created, the resulting substantial weight of the new material can trigger an underground collapse of supporting material.

Aquifer systems are another example. The sediment above the system is delicately balanced by ground-water fluid pressure, meaning that the water below ground is actually helping to keep the surface soil in place. Groundwater pumping for urban water supply and for irrigation can produce new sinkholes. If pumping results in a lowering of groundwater levels, then underground structures could fail and thus sinkholes can occur.



This article was published in partnership with

Obama’s call that we “must do more to combat climate change,” received a standing ovation. But what did he propose we do? His ideas are a mixed bag. He called for “market-based solutions” but didn’t elaborate on what that would mean. Certainly leveling the playing field for renewables by getting rid of mammoth subsidies for Big Oil would be a start. The president urged Congress to take action and said he would use executive actions to get the job done if Congress won’t. Of course the president doesn't have to wait for a Congress that has failed to take any meaningful action on climate change, writing for Grist today, David Roberts wrote about what actions the president could take right now

Even though Obama gave some lip service to renewable energy, he also kept up his support for natural gas and said that he would cut red tape to speed up new oil and gas permits, an idea that seems to run counter to doing “more to combat climate change.” The president continues to cling to tired notion of "all of the above" energy policy, which won't cut it in the climate change age in which we've now embarked.

He did however say he wanted to create an Energy and Security Trust to “shift cars and trucks off oil for good.” We'll see how that works out. The president stopped short of mentioning the contentious issue of tar sands and the Keystone XL pipeline. 

"I'm glad to see the president, after the long, odd silence of the campaign, ratcheting up the rhetoric about climate change,” said Bill McKibben. “The test of that rhetoric will be what he does about the purest, simplest test: the Keystone XL pipeline, with its freight of nearly a million barrels a day of the dirtiest oil on earth." 


How did you celebrate World Toilet Day? Matt Damon wants to know. But he's sorta joking. Damon, the co-founder of released a PSA that's a mock press conference in which he says:

What's even more shocking is the catastrophic worldwide lack of clean water and sanitation. 780 million people ... lack access to clean water. 2.5 billion people lack access to a toilet or basic sanitation.

In protest of this global tragedy, until this issue is resolved, until everyone has access to clean water and sanitation, I will not go to the bathroom.

The questions asked by the "reporters" in his "press conference" are amusing, but of course the issue is no laughing matter. Damon's been an outspoken advocate of the right to clean water for some time -- a cause which could use more backing from celebrities (maybe Jennifer Aniston could tear herself away from her SmartWater ads?) and people of all kind.

Damon's crucial work on this issue almost makes me feel a little bad that I was so harsh on his fracking film "Promised Land."

Check out the video below: