Happy Earth Day from Branch Out - Here is a critical update on COVID-19, the rainforest, and how you can support the climate justice movement

From every member of our team at Branch Out, we wish you a Happy Earth Day and hope you are safe and healthy, and your loved ones too. You’re probably reading this a day or two after Earth Day because we are sending it at the end of an action-packed day.

We have spent the day connecting with people who are ready to build the climate justice movement and researching our upcoming news coverage on pipeline resistance and fossil fuel divestment. In case you missed last week’s Friday Forecast, here is an update:

Brazil’s Coronavirus response and how it will impact Indigenous Nations protecting the Amazon Rainforest.

Daiara Tukano, an Indigenous activist from Brazil and coordinator of Radio Yandê, speaking at the WECAN livestream, said: “One of the [COVID-19] deaths that we faced of a young boy of 15 years old was caused because of the invasion of illegal mining in indigenous territories.”

Studies have shown that the Amazon rainforest affects precipitation across the western hemisphere. Moreover, the rainforest sequesters massive amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere, making it one of the most important natural carbon sinks in the fight against climate change. 

Bolsonaro’s commitment to the anti-indigenous policy of economic development in the Amazon region shows how far governments will go to perpetuate extractive capitalism even in the backdrop of a global pandemic. Brazil’s coronavirus response is not flat-out denial; it is the belief that capitalist economic growth is more important than life itself. 

Why Indigenous people of the Amazon play a pivotal role in global public health

“Sometimes it rains too light, sometimes it rains too much, but people who live in their comfort zone don’t perceive this too much,” Yawanawa told CBS. “We all live in a global village. Whatever we do affects each other. If I burn everything here, it is going to affect you wherever you are.“

“I am sure that when the forest is depleted, we will no longer have a spirit, because our spirit just lives in peace where the forest is there,”  Bainawá said in the 2016 documentary. “The rich and powerful ones, they are rich in stuff but poor in spirit, as they, the white men, do not realize the forest is a crystal clear portal.”

For Yawanawa, the fight to save the Amazon is not his community’s independent battle to save their home and way of life, the destruction of the world’s largest rainforest is a global crisis that affects everyone, and therefore everyone should join the fight. 

What you can do to stop Brazil's fascist leaders from destroying the rainforest and causing the next pandemic

In seeking the help of allies across the world, The Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB) has called for a boycott of beef, soy, and other products from companies profiting from the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest and its Peoples. APIB has disclosed a list of companies and individuals who have profited from destroying Indigenous lands, endangering all life on Earth.

As documented by Mighty Earth, the companies using Cargill soy products include Costco, McDonald’s, Burger King, Sysco, Target, Kroger, Sam’s Club, Aldi, Walmart, and Safeway.

Many others use JBS Beef and Marfig Global Foods, which provide beef for companies such as Nestle, McDonald’s, RBI, Subway and Wegmans.

To identify any others, 789-790 is the Brazilian bar-code identification number to look out for

Take Action Now!

  1. #BoycottBrazilianFood

  2. Share our reporting. We win with strength in numbers, so tell people about Branch Out and the issues impacting climate justice.

  3. Make a contribution to our GoFundMe page. We know times are tough for most people right now. Whether you can contribute $1, $5, $50, $100, $500 or more, your support is critical to help create green journalism jobs and climate justice projects. Right now, 50% of all your gifts will fund our reporting, while the other 50% will fund regenerative urban agriculture and chemical-free food mutual aid programs in solidarity with Black Earth Farms.

Keep rising and branch out.

The U.S. fossil fuel bailout has already started

How big polluters are profiting from the government response to COVID-19

Greetings,

Branch Out is here to bring you the most updated stories on how the Coronavirus is impacting the climate crisis. Our latest article “Fossil Fuel Bailout? Why the Coronavirus is a crossroads for Climate Action” is available now. Here is an excerpt:

“In response to the lack of public accountability over the CARES Act, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the applications of fossil fuel and mining companies to be made public:

“Disclosure of the requested records will significantly enhance the public’s understanding of the potential financial assistance fossil fuels and mining companies will receive coupled with the lack of Congressional oversight, as compared to the level of public understanding that exists prior to the disclosure.”

The connections between the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis go beyond the government response. Branch Out reported Friday how deforestation and air pollution make pandemics like COVID-19 more likely to occur and more severe. Although stimulus is necessary to support suffering workers and families, climate activists worry a fossil fuel bailout will boost pollution while bankrupting the planet.

Although the stimulus bill did not include $3 billion for big oil, an idea that had previously been floated, it did give $32 billion to the airline industry without any environmental standards attached, according to Salon. With limited oversight and environmental protection, however, the fossil fuel industry could cling to life despite pollution putting the world on the brink of climate collapse

The truth is, oil and gas companies were going bankrupt well before the COVID-19 pandemic rattled the industry further. Oilprice.com reported that 50 oil and gas companies filed for bankruptcy in the first three quarters of 2019 because they racked up multi-billion-dollar debts to ramp up production only to see the price of oil sputter.”

Take Action

In this time of social distancing, we can still make a difference remotely. Here are four steps you can take today.

  1. Share the article, so that more people will be informed about what is happening.

  2. Contact your elected officials and tell them that we cannot bailout fossil fuels and that only a green stimulus such as the Green New Deal or Red Deal will provide relief for working people and families.

  3. Do everything you can to divest and abstain from fossil fuel use so that emissions continue to decline.

  4. Contribute to Branch Out so we can continue bringing you the news and fund regenerative community agriculture to put carbon back in the soil and food on the tables of low-income families.

The Coronavirus and the Climate Crisis are more connected than you think

Deforestation, air pollution and factory farms are a major factor in the proliferation and intensity of infectious diseases.

Greetings,

I hope you are all handling our current crisis. Branch Out is here to provide the analysis that you won’t see on mainstream media outlets. Our latest piece, “Coronavirus and the Climate: A Singular Crisis” is a deep dive into how both the cause and the response to COVID-19 are directly linked to the forces driving climate change. Please use the extra time you may have on your hands to read the whole thing, and here are some key excerpts to start:

Deforestation

“Remarkably, many of the epidemics that have occurred over the last several decades – including West NileEbolaDengueLyme diseaseMalaria, Nipah, Lassa, Madariaga and many more – are linked directly to deforestation. To highlight just one example, a 2017 study found a positive association between deforestation and malaria outbreaks in an astounding 67 countries. “

Airlines

“While ordinary people across the country (and the world) are struggling to pay for bills and provide for their families, U.S. airlines spent 96 percent of their cash profits in the last decade on stock buybacks to enrich investors and their own executives. The disparity has led to calls for more funds to go to individuals and families struggling because of the economic impact of COVID-19, (particularly people of color who will be disproportionately affected by the economic crisis) and for public funds to be used to facilitate a just transition to environmentally sustainable jobs and clean methods of transportation. “

Pollution

“A recent estimate found that China’s reduction in air pollution has saved the lives of 4,000 kids under 5 as well as 73,000 adults over 70 in China. Industrial society today not only facilitates the emergence and spread of infectious diseases; it is also responsible for the leading cause of preventable deaths worldwide – air pollution – estimated by the European Heart Journal to cause about 8 million early deaths per year. “

Solutions

“But what is certain is that as social, political, and economic circumstances continue to be volatile, we must do everything we can to support each other in the immediate ways that are available to us now, and strengthen our solidarity in the future. With a Green Stimulus blueprint to create millions of family-sustaining, career-track green jobs while lifting up and collaborating with frontline communities, we must grow and invest in the energy, food, transit, and social systems we need to avoid the disruptions and exploitation exhibited by the system’s failures in responding to COVID-19. “

Get Involved

Branch Out is leading the way showing how independent journalism can impact the fight for Climate Justice. You can help by sharing our work on social media and by making a contribution to our GoFundMe to fund our efforts.

The Permian Highway Pipeline and the battle for Texas' future

The Permian Highway Pipeline is slated to run 430 miles through Texas, but a coalition of environmental organizations, local governments and private landowners are standing in the way to protect their land, water and future.

This pipeline should be stopped. Here are the top 5 things that are wrong with it, and ways you can take action.

  1. The pipeline company, Kinder Morgan, is using eminent domain to take land to build the pipeline, often against the will of the rightful landowners.

  2. The proposed route goes through the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone and experts worry it could potentially pollute drinking water in addition to swimming sites like Jacob’s Well and Barton Springs.

  3. If completed, the project will empower gas producers in the Permian Basin to ramp up drilling, which will exacerbate climate change at a time when we need to stop fossil fuel extraction.

  4. Kinder Morgan’s pipelines have a history of significant accidents, and this route goes through heavily populated areas, so the impact of an accident would be devastating.

  5. The route cuts through the habitat for the endangered Golden Cheeked Warbler, and Kinder Morgan has not conducted an Environmental Impact Statement.

Take Action

  1. Read and share our article that takes a deep dive into the Permian Highway Pipeline: http://branchoutnow.org/permian-highway-pipeline-story/

  2. The pipeline still needs permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. You can email or call Adam Zerrenner at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Austin and urge him not to issue these permits.

    Adam_Zerrenner@FWS.Gov.

    (512) 490-0057, extension 248

    You can also ask to speak to Stephen Brooks at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Fort Worth, or leave a comment with anyone who will listen in their permitting office.

    (817) 886-173

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