Tag Archives: Climate

Bill Gates, farms, rivers, springs

The NBC News story has legs.

Rebecca Heilweil, Vox, 11 June 2021, The controversy over Bill Gates becoming the largest private farmland owner in the US: People are drawing connections between Gates’s vast farmlands and climate change advocacy.

One Georgia farmer and environmental advocate, John Quarterman, told NBC that while he expected that Gates would encourage more sustainable practices after buying farmland nearby, his acquisition of that land didn’t change much. And the National Farmers Union has suggested that the growing number of non-farmer owners like Gates buying up farmland — and renting it out — could lead to practices that hurt the environment: Short-term farmers who rent land are less likely to take long-term conservation steps, the organization argues, and non-farmer owners don’t have the experience to “understand the importance of protecting natural resources.”

[Photo: Chris Mericle, Dust storm in Hamilton County, Florida, March, 2014, Suwannee Riverkeeper by NBC News, June, 2021]
Photo: Chris Mericle, Dust storm in Hamilton County, Florida, March, 2014, Suwannee Riverkeeper by NBC News, June, 2021

The Vox story includes the Leading Harvest greenwashing of Gates’ tinkering around the edges, but goes harder on this:

But whatever Gates might wish, many observers can’t quite separate the two things. For them, Bill Gates the environmentalist is also Bill Gates the commercial farmland owner, and they think the two roles are connected even if Gates doesn’t consider them to be.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

Bill Gates did nothing to stop fertilizer nitrates leaching into springs and rivers –Suwannee Riverkeeper via NBC News 2021-06-08

The story doesn’t say BMAP, but it does get at the heart of the problem the Basin Management Action Plans don’t actually solve, and Bill Gates did not, either.

April Glaser, NBC News, 8 June 2021, updated 9 June 2021, McDonald’s french fries, carrots, onions: all of the foods that come from Bill Gates farmland: Gates does not appear to count his farming investments as the nation’s largest farmland owner as part of his broader strategy to save the climate.

The reporter had never heard of Riverkeepers before, and now here’s one on NBC News.

Algae bloom

But some farmers whose land is adjacent to that of the Gateses have expressed disappointment that despite the couple’s wealth, they have not done more to preserve the environment. Quarterman also serves as the Suwannee Riverkeeper and advocates for conservation of the intricate network of springs and rivers in the region, where water from the swamps of Georgia flow into Florida before they release into the Gulf of Mexico. He said that this is where large tracts of rich farmland is used to raise livestock and grow many of the vegetables that end up in grocery aisles up and down the East Coast.

[John Quarterman stands by the Withlacoochee River in Georgia. Matt Odom / for NBC News]
John Quarterman stands by the Withlacoochee River in Georgia. Matt Odom / for NBC News

All that farming has led to large water withdrawals from Florida’s aquifer system and requires fertilizer, which leaches through the ground into waterways, emptying nitrogen that has led to destructive algae blooms and severe loss of fish and marsh habitats.

In the video segment, she also mentions manatees.

He hoped Gates would have Continue reading

Gates Foundation viewed as political ploy

This article does not follow the Gates-worshiping herd: “The [Gates Foundation] even reports having a $5.3 million bond holding in Energy Transfer Operating, which is a partial owner of the Dakota Access pipeline —the subject of a very high-profile divestment campaign.

There is much more, well worth reading, in today’s article by Tim Schwab, The Nation, 16 February 2021, Bill Gates, Climate Warrior. And Super Emitter: The billionaire’s new book, a bid to be taken seriously as a climate campaigner, has attracted the usual worshipful coverage. When will the media realize that with Gates you have to follow the money? See below for where I’m quoted about Gates’ farmland investments. But first, more about pipelines.

As we dug up back in 2016, the same company, Enbridge, is part owner of both the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline that gouged under our Withlacoochee, Suwannee, Santa Fe, and Withlacoochee (south) Rivers in south Georgia and north Florida, destroying farmlands and forests along the way. We held and participated in numerous demonstrations about #NoDAPL, #NoSabalTrail, as well as other actions, including a legal case in Florida and feeding information to the case Sierra Club won in U.S. District Court. We continue to advocate against expansion of Sabal Trail, and to report on its leaks and other damage.

Stop Sabal Trail from the Suwannee
Stop Sabal Trail from the Suwannee, in #NoDAPL #NoSabalTrail @ Suwannee River State Park 2016-09-13

The article does not go easy on Gates or his Foundation, for example referring to the book he just published about climate change.

In his book, Gates several times praises the young people and activists who have energized climate politics—even drawing parallels to successful protests against the Vietnam War and divestment campaigns against South African apartheid. Yet Gates doesn’t seriously engage with these political movements, and seems oblivious to ways that they’ve pushed the mainstream conversation on climate change beyond the technical question of how to reduce carbon emissions—Gates’s narrow focus—to interrogate the political systems and economic models that, for example, channel climate change’s greatest impacts toward the poor and people of color.

Anthony Rogers-Wright, director of environmental justice for the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, notes that even Joe Biden—a “centrist, neoliberal president”—understands that issues like equity and justice are central to climate change, as is evident in a recent executive order that mentions the term “environmental justice” 27 times. In Gates’s 250-page book, the term is completely absent.

“These billionaires, the best they could do, some would say, would be to be stop their foundations and pay their fair share of taxes,” says Continue reading

Video: Sign up to recommend No Build; M-CORES toll road webinars

Floridians moved to Lowndes County, Georgia, after Hurricane Irma, but not because of lack of toll roads. If they had had solar panels and batteries so they wouldn’t be without power for weeks, they might have stayed in Florida, said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman at the meeting in Madison County, Florida, February 11, 2020.

You can recommend No Build this coming week, as M-CORES holds webinars with public comment. See below for how.

[Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman]
Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman says No Build.

The Suncoast Connector Task Force webinar is 9:30 AM to 12 noon, Thursday, April 30, 2020. That’s the toll road that would run from Crystal River across the Suwannee River, through farms, forests, and wetlands, building bypasses around towns and cities, to Thomasville, Georgia.

To listen, you have to Continue reading

Videos: Don’t split farms, and don’t harm nature, schools, or aquifer, at M-CORES toll road meeting, Madison, FL 2020-02-11

Toll roads splitting farms would be generational damage, said farmer Ernest Culver of Jackson County, and the Task Force doesn’t take into account churches or schools, not to mention nature, rivers, or the Floridan Aquifer, said Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson of Columbia County, at the meeting in Madison County, Florida, February 11, 2020.

[Ernest Culver & Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson]
Ernest Culver & Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson

The idea of repurposing toll roads funds for virus pandemic relief continues to get more at least indirect support. Craig Pitman, Florida Phoenix, 9 April 2020, Does Florida still need that trio of billion-dollar toll roads?,

Florida’s controversial new toll roads hit a potential roadblock this week.

Two of them are supposed to Continue reading

Videos: Toll roads as prosperity drain and climate change, at M-CORES toll road meeting, Madison, FL 2020-02-11

More toll roads could drain prosperity, and more driving means more climate change, said two speakers at the meeting in Madison County, Florida, February 11, 2020.

You can send your opinion to FDOT.Listens@dot.state.fl.us. And Sierra Club has provided a convenient way for Floridians to tell FDOT No Build:
https://addup.sierraclub.org/campaigns/no-roads-to-ruin/take-action

See also the No Roads to Ruin Coalition facebook page.

A couple of speakers in Madison were for the toll roads, both claiming economic benefits. Madison County later terminated the consulting contract for one of them as a cost-cutting measure due to virus pandemic.

If one county can do that, the state of Florida can do that, as we previously suggested. See also Philip Beasley, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, April 12, 2020, Put federal dollars in hands of jobless.

Here are the WWALS videos of speakers in Madison:

EPA hearings Tuesday and Wednesday in Atlanta and Climate Rally by Sierra Club

Mercury in the Alapaha River probably comes from coal Plant Scherer near Macon. EPA is holding public hearings on its proposed Clean Power Plan next week, 29-30 July 2014, in Atlanta. You can also comment online until 16 October 2014 on Docket ID EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602. And you can express your opinion outside with Georgia Sierra Club at the Atlanta Climate Rally Tuesday at high noon. Maybe you want to mention shifting from coal to “natural” gas (fracked methane) actually may make matters worse here, so EPA needs to go further.

While that proposed carbon rule may help clean up coal plants like Scherer, it says nothing about methane, which EPA says is Continue reading