Breaking: Climate March Planned for Paris this Saturday, at noon <
According to 350.org “thousands of people will gather in the streets of Paris carrying red flowers to honour past and future victims of climate change”.
Marches are illegal in Paris under current security measures. Where people will gather and march is being kept a secret.Details will be posted here
Oganizers say they plan to unfurl over 100 meters of red fabric to form a giant red line down a major boulevard. The flowers will include more than 5,000 red tulips that will be laid down along the line.
This “Red Lines” action is the launch of a new wave of what some activists call “climate disobedience,” civil disobedience actions that challenge the fossil fuel industry, often at major infrastructure projects like coal mines or pipelines.
On Thursday, campaigners at COP21 will announce a major mobilization planned for May 2016 called “Break Free,” when people around the world will take on some of the worst fossil fuel projects in their region.
Protests Escalate in Paris: Beginning of “Red Lines” Protests
10 Arrested at Louvre Wednesday
Sit down protest inside COP 21 ongoing
Police remove protestors at “Solutions 21” event in Paris
Host a Live Blog from Paris Climate Talks By International Journalists
Would you be interested in hosting the Climate News Mosaic Live Blog of the COP 21 Paris climate talks during the last week of this historic event?
Experienced freelance journalists from a number of countries are already providing brief daily contributions as they happen. The Live Blog also has short reports from a variety of countries for a unique mix of global and local coverage.
The Climate News Mosaic (CNM) won the HostWriter Prize for its collaborative coverage of the UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw (COP 19).
It’s free to host the Paris Live Blog. A small snippet of open source code from Germany’s Sourcefabric is all that’s needed to host the live blog.
Here are links to our Paris Live Blog on some of our media hosts sites:
Contact me to receive the Live Blog code and broaden your coverage just as curiosity and interest in what’s happening in Paris begins to grow rapidly.
I’m a CNM co-founder and a journalist based in Canada who won the 2012 Prince Albert of Monaco prize for climate change and environment reporting. I’m also author of the award-winning “Your Water Footprint: The Shocking Facts Behind Our Thirst for Earth’s Most Precious Resource” (Anderson Prize – Best Science Book of 2014).
A historic climate change conference is taking place in Paris, France from November 30 to December 11th. World leaders from more than 195 nations will meet to work on a new international climate deal, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.
The award-winning Climate News Mosaic (CNM)will provide a free daily live blog to track all progress, major announcements and events, latest scientific reports, as well as happenings in and outside of the conference halls with stories, photos, videos, soundbites from experienced journalists from different countries.
The live blog will also feature climate news updates, reactions and short reports from a variety of countries for a unique mix of global and local coverage.
The Climate News Mosaic (CNM) is the award-winning collaboration of independent environmental journalists from Canada, the Philippines, Germany, Italy, Costa Rica, Brazil and many more. In 2014 CNM won the international HostWriter Prize for its collaborative coverage of the UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw (COP 19). The live blog was hosted on nine news sites including the Inter Press News Service, Climate Home, Earth Journalism Network.
Stay up-to-date. Follow @climatemosaic on Twitter for the latest news and information in follow-up to the summit and elsewhere (hashtag: #climate2015)
Who remembers that climate change was a top priority early in George W Bush’s first term as US president?
Merchants of Doubt, a new documentary film released in US cinemas this week, reminds us that in June 2001 Bush and the Republican party were 100% committed to curbing carbon emissions causing global warming.
Six months later everything changed. The film shows Republican party leader John Boehner calling the idea of global warming “laughable”, said Merchants of Doubt director Robert Kenner.
Framing Climate Science as Attack on Personal Freedoms
With the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center occupying attention, Americans For Prosperity, a powerful, fossil-fuel lobby group founded by the billionaire Koch Brothers, launched a decade-long, multi-pronged campaign to sow doubt about the reality of climate change.
By equating the findings of climate scientists as an attack on personal freedoms, they cleverly shifted the focus away from science to political opinion. “Creating a focus point away from what is actually going on is how magicians pull off their tricks,” said Kenner who directed the Oscar-nominated documentary Food Inc.
Inspired by the 2010 book of the same name, Kenner’s film is about deception and profiles many of the charming and always smiling professional deceivers who work for the tobacco, chemical, pharmaceutical, and fossil fuel industries. The tobacco industry knowingly and successfully deceived the public for 50 years about the connection between smoking and cancer, the 1988 tobacco lawsuit settlement revealed.
In a pattern of manipulation clearly evident today in the manufactured ‘debate’ over climate change, the tobacco industry used media-friendly pseudo-experts, doctored ‘science’ studies and attacked the credibility of scientists or experts who said otherwise, Kenner said.
If you can sell tobacco you can sell anything
Peter Sparber, one the tobacco industry’s most successful deceivers, told Kenner that he could get the public to believe a garbage man knew more about science than prominent climate scientist James Hansen.
“If you can sell tobacco you can sell anything,” Sparber tells Kenner.
Selling confusion and doubt around a complex issue like climate change was far easier than selling tobacco. Nearly all of those well-paid climate misinformers have no science background and often clear ties to industry lobby groups and yet are treated as expert commentators on climate science by media. It’s not just Fox News. Serious news outlets like CNN and the New York Times are complicit by featuring misinformers in news articles and on discussion panels, he said.
The film also focuses on the many self-described “grassroots” organisations that are actually promoting specific corporate and political interests. These organisations are often aided by, and passionately supported by, ordinary citizens who believe they are fighting for personal freedoms and libertarian or conservative values.
Kenner is hoping audiences “will realise they’ve been lied to” and develop better “bullshit detectors”.
Freelancer Stephen Leahy on crowdfunding his environmental journalism
by Rachel Sanders
Stephen Leahy was at a conservation conference in Mexico five years ago when the dire state of freelance journalism became clear to him. After the event, he spoke with several other freelancers, all of whom had received travel awards to attend the event. Most of them had not been able to sell a single story about the conference.
“These other freelancers were supremely experienced. The former bureau chief from Asia from the New York Times, the former chief of some bureau at Reuters AFP, all these guys had really impressive credentials. And they couldn’t sell any stories as freelancers,” Leahy told Story Board during a recent phone interview.
“And one of the big pronouncements there was the need to protect 50% of the planet. Which is a number that is outrageous and had never ever been uttered before. And I was like ‘wow that’s a really good story.’ But they couldn’t sell any stories. I was the only one who had sold two or three stories.”
Leahy, who is based in Uxbridge, Ontario, says that several of those journalists quit freelancing after this dismal experience. Some made the switch to PR. But he wasn’t prepared to give up.
“People say to me all the time ‘my God, this is amazing stuff, how come I never knew about these things?’ So people want it and I want to keep doing it. How do we make this happen? The only solution I could come up with was, well, they have to pay me directly. Publishers aren’t going to pay, and many of the places I write for can’t pay. Who benefits from this stuff, who wants to see it? The readers. And so why not ask them?”
Over the next few years, Leahy built up an email contact list. The members on his mailing list now number around a thousand. Once a week he sends out a newsletter with links to his most recent stories. Approximately 10% of his newsletters also include a direct pitch for financial support.
“When I first started it was probably a much higher percentage than that. It was probably 50% pitches included with these newsletters. Now it’s declined quite a bit because it’s been pretty stable and I’ve been getting lots of assignments so I haven’t needed it so much,” he said.
Leahy has been freelancing for 22 years. His work has been published in National Geographic, The Guardian, Vice Magazine, Al Jazeera, and The Toronto Star among many others. But with ad revenues dropping, and freelance budgets shrinking, the market is tighter than ever for environmental reporting. Leahy has succeeded in making up some of the income shortfall with crowdfunding. These days, reader contributions account for approximately 20 to 25% of his income.
Leahy believes that his funding model would work with any subject that people care passionately about. But he says it’s also vital that readers feel a connection to the writer in question.
“The subject’s one thing but you also have to want to see more stuff from this writer. It’s a relationship between reader and writer. It’s difficult to do, it takes a long time to build up that relationship. You have to know your audience, you have to build a relationship with them and there has to be some sense of reciprocity. In return for me doing my thing, you help me out. It’s an exchange,” he said.
To build those relationships, Leahy has had to open up to his readers about his finances and his personal life.
“It’s hard to donate to a person you don’t really know. So I had to open up and explain the situation, the reality of freelancing. Sometimes you get $150 for a story you might have spent two weeks on. Any sensible person would not do that,” he said.
He has tried a number of different funding models – such as asking for weekly contributions and making project-based funding requests – but has found the most success by asking his readers for monthly contributions. And although only a small percentage of his readers offer him financial support, some support him in other ways.
“There are people who do not make financial contributions but they make information contributions or will help me out if I say ‘I’m going to X, Y, and Z to cover this subject. I can’t afford any hotels. Anybody know anyone who could let me stay at their place?’ And that worked out two or three years ago in Bonn, Germany to cover a UN climate meeting,” he said.
Though his published work covers weighty topics, Leahy says some of the most difficult writing he does is in his weekly email newsletters.
“The asking for money thing, of course, was difficult. But it was definitely as difficult to be open and more personable with other people. To be a real person, not just a byline. To say ‘yes I welcome your comments and ideas and I want to have a dialogue,” he said.
“I spend a lot of time editing my own stuff and thinking ‘I’ve got to get this into 200 words or less.’ Nobody wants more email spam, right? So it’s important to be really interesting every time, not just once in a while.”
Despite the difficulties involved in making a living as a freelancer, Leahy is committed to the career.
“You get to meet really interesting people,” he said.
“I had a corporate career for a few years and one of the reasons I gave it up is because I found the folks in the business community not particularly interesting. When I started freelancing, I started writing about farming and agriculture. And I thought ‘my God, farmers are way more interesting than these corporate CEOs. There’s much more to them.’”
And the people aren’t the only thing that Leahy finds interesting about freelancing.
“You get to learn all the time. And because I’ve been lucky enough to mostly write about what I’m interested in, it’s never boring. It’s never easy, but it’s never boring. And I get to choose not only what’s interesting but what I think is important,” he said.
“Freelancing allows you to use your time in the way you want to use it.”
You can contact Stephen Leahy through his website to join his mailing list or ask questions about his crowdfunding model. And you can find him on Twitter at @StephenLeahy.
With little demand for environmental stories in Canadian mainstream publications, freelance journalist Stephen Leahy faced two options: Give up the beat, or find a new way to make ends meet. Paul Weinberg explains why the 20-year veteran chose the latter and how he is faring.
A committed freelance environmental journalist has discovered a way to cover important—and often unreported—stories and stay electronically in touch with readers without going through a mainstream media intermediary.
Not that Stephen Leahy had any choice in the matter, after finding fewer newspapers and magazines in Canada and abroad buying his stories a few years ago. It was a problem he saw his American colleagues facing in their domestic market as well.
Based in Uxbridge, east of Toronto, he has also found himself one of the few Canadian reporters still covering international conferences where scientists convene over the latest findings on climate, resources depletion, weather, energy, conservation or other environmental issues.
It all came to a head at the 9th World Wilderness Congress (WWC), in Mérida, Yucatán, on November 6, 2009. Leahy and some other fellow freelance journalists —working for such outlets as Reuters and The New York Times—sat down feeling quite discouraged. Amidst them was the excitement of a weighty conference featuring the likes of high-profile scientist Jane Goodall.
These “highly motivated” journalistic veterans, recounts Leahy, could not sell a single story from this major conference to their traditional mainstream media outlets across North America.
“These guys were making no money. [Most] of us freelancers were making zero money. Fortunately, our hotel and flight costs were covered [by the conservation conference organizers] but we were not making money,” he recalls.
Leahy was the exception, having one regular client, alternative Rome-based global news agency Inter Press Service, which was still keen on receiving his latest story from the conservation meeting for its largely developing world audience.
Searching for alternatives
During that session in Mexico, Leahy and his fellow freelancers engaged in the kind of soul searching that one does when the writing is on the wall. Freelance work involving the covering of international scientific conferences for money had virtually dried up, and so most of these journalists specializing in the environmental were considering packing it in and opting instead for public relations work or a job in academia.
In fact, many of Leahy’s freelancer colleagues had had better contacts among the major buyers of environmental stories in the media during the good times—when the state of the climate and the planet’s fauna and flora was fashionable, he says. “If they could not make it, how was I supposed to make a go of it?”
Leahy had started covering the environment about 20 years by writing entirely for Canadian newspapers and magazines before expanding eventually into international outlets such as Inter Press, The Guardian, New Scientist, Audubon Magazine, Al Jazeera and National Geographic News Watch.
But in the last several years the environmentally-focused publications which had been his bread and butter had either disappeared or were (in the case of Audubon) coming out less frequently because of diminished advertising dollars.
Funding his way—with some help
Earning less freelance income meant that Leahy could not afford to attend as many of the international scientific conferences, which had been his major beat for years.
Rather than give up, Leahy was determined to prove that a market still exists for “independent” environmental journalism and he adopted a funding model to allow him to continue.
Leahy has asked his readers to defray his expenses from travelling and staying in the cities around the world where these international gatherings of scientists continue to meet. Each supporter is asked to send in $10 a month via PayPal or a credit card on his web site to help him continue his work in “community supported environmental journalism.”
“I made a commitment to people that obviously the money is going to be used strictly for journalistic purposes and to stay in touch with them,” he says.
Currently, Leahy has upwards of 300 readers who are offering financial support and feedback on his reporting.
Surprisingly enough, Leahy has not fully taken advantage of Twitter which could really expand his legion of supporters.
“I have been thinking about [social media]. Doing it right takes time. In fact I do spend a significant amount of time fundraising. One of the downsides [of this funding model],” he maintains.
Today, Leahy says he still generates an income below the poverty line. On the other hand, he lives frugally, with support from his long term spouse and family back home. “I don’t have any debts,” he says simply.
Leahy’s funding model was unique at the start but other journalists including those new to the profession are taking a serious gander at doing something similar to financially support their work and in some cases get themselves established.
One of Leahy’s colleagues, for instance, is using an appeal to readers to raise close to $3,000 to pay for a six-week trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to research its internal conflicts for an upcoming book.
But Leahy, who is close to 60, says the toll of travelling to eight to ten international conferences annually (often resulting in being outside Canada close to five months a year) and sleeping on supporters’ couches has taken a physical toll on him in the past year.
“My ultimate hope is to have 10, 20 or 30 younger people doing something similar. I do get quite a few calls from journalism students from around the world and I always have time for them. Folks younger than me understand social media better and they can use it.”
Diminishing coverage of environmental issues
A perennially-losing candidate for the Green Party in federal elections for the Ontario constituency of Durham—where Minister of International Cooperation Bev Oda holds the seat—Leahy has discovered among prospective voters “a hunger” for information on the environment.
“People are really concerned about environmental issues and the state of our democracy. And the second thing is they are so unaware of what is going on in the world, which I think is astonishing,” he says.
The blame for this comes from the disappearance of science issues from the general news programs, Leahy states. He cites as the latest manifestation of this trend—the recent cancellation of CBC News Network’s Connect with Mark Kelly. “It was one of the few sources [for the environment] on broadcast. This is a big blow.”
One of Leahy’s regrets is that with the exception of the alternative online site, Straightgoods.com (which reprints his IPS stories) his articles are largely published outside Canada.
“I started off in Canada, more than 20 years ago, writing 100 per cent for Canadian publications. I used to do weekly columns on environmental issues for daily newspapers that don’t exist,” he said.
Leahy is one of those people who cannot imagine doing anything but journalism.
His funding model, he adds, “has enabled me to continue doing what I think is a pretty useful public service, providing people around the world with information about the important environmental issues.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Leahy had been interviewed on Connect with Mark Kelly a couple of times. Though he had been asked to appear, due to scheduling changes or bumps, Leahy has never actually been interviewed on the show.
Canada’s police and security agencies think citizens concerned about the environment are threats to national security, and some are under surveillance, documents reveal.
The RCMP, the national police force, and Canada’s spy agency CSIS are increasingly conflating terrorism and extremism with peaceful citizens exercising their democratic rights to organise petitions, protest and question government policies, said Jeffrey Monaghan, a researcher with the Surveillance Studies Centre at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.
Protests and opposition to Canada’s resource-based economy, especially oil and gas production, are now viewed as threats to national security, Monaghan said. This conclusion is based on official security documents obtained under freedom of information laws over the last five years.
Frustrated by the lack of interest in climate coverage by mainstream media, 15 young journalists on 4 continents want to bring a new collaborative approach to climate change journalism. This is a voluntary effort to both increase and improve reporting called the Climate News Mosaic (CNM).
They need your help for their first collaborative project to connect what’s happening at the UN climate conference (COP) in Warsaw this November with climate impacts/perspectives on the ground from their home countries.
Here’s how it will work:
* 2 or 3 journalists will go to the COP in Warsaw to report and co-ordinate. The rest will be back home doing local coverage on climate. Everyone contributes and shares interviews, links to reports, sources, A/V and so on.
* Members (mainly freelancers) do articles, audio and video for their own outlets. Some 25-30 original stories in at least 4 languages will be made available for use in whole or in part by any media outlet anywhere in the world.
* A live blog placed on a number non-profit news sites like IPS, Earth Journalism Network , and others will bring the public a wealth of current info on what is happening at the Warsaw COP but also from other countries. (i.e. a short video from Warsaw, a photo from a rally in San Francisco, a soundbite from a press conference in Nairobi, a quote from an interview with an Italian scholar.)
I’m sort of the mentor having used crowd-sourced funding to support my science and climate journalism the past 4 years. That support kept me going and in 2012 I was a co-winner of the Prince Albert/United Nations Global Prize for media coverage of climate change.
For-profit media owners are simply not interested in good science and environment reporting. Coverage of climate change has been in sharp decline since the UN climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009. Even the New York Times closed its environment desk this year. It’s not that there isn’t a lot to report on. Quite the opposite.
[This is a 2011 repost about Keystone XL and expansion of fossil fuel production while world’s nations are supposed to be reducing climate-wrecking emissions of carbon. — Stephen]
Analysis by Stephen Leahy
UXBRIDGE, Canada, Aug 10, 2011 (IPS)
Canada and the United States are now the centre of Bizarro World. This is where leaders promise to reduce carbon emissions but ensure a new, supersized oil pipeline called Keystone XL is built, guaranteeing further expansion of the Alberta tar sands that produce the world’s most carbon-laden oil.
“It’s imperative that we move quickly to alternate forms of energy – and that we leave the tar sands in the ground,” the U.S.’s leading climate scientists urged President Barack Obama in an open letter Aug. 3.
“As scientists… we can say categorically that it’s [the Keystone XL pipeline] not only not in the national interest, it’s also not in the planet’s best interest.”
The letter was signed by 20 world-renowned scientists, including NASA’s James Hansen, Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution, Ralph Keeling of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and George Woodwell, founder of the Woods Hole Research Center Continue reading →
There is quite a bit of misinformation about climate science and climate change (global warming). This is the most important issue of our time but it can be a complex subject. Here are some tips to help sort fact from fiction based on my experience of writing about science and climate change for the past 15 years.
Tip #1: Consider the source
It’s important to know where the information is coming from. Are they an expert or someone with an impressive looking website but no climate science training? No one goes to an engineer if they want their appendix removed.
If someone says a group of retired NASA scientists claim there is no evidence carbon dioxide causes global warming, I check to see if they are climate scientists — they’re not. Then I go to the official NASA website and in a big headline it says: “97% of climate sciences agree” climate change is happening. This is followed by a long list of well-regarded scientific societies from around the world who also agree.
A reader once sent me a link to a “science” article from Investor’s Business Daily that said increased activity of the sun was entirely responsible for the current warming according to the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, a well-known research centre in Germany. A quick check of the Max Planck Institute’s website revealed their actual conclusion: “Solar activity affects the climate but plays only a minor role in the current global warming.”
Tip#3 Brush up on some science
Our atmosphere traps and retains the suns heat which is called the greenhouse effect. Without this the Earth would be more like the moon: +100C in the day and -170C at night. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a greenhouse gas that helps keep the planet warm by retaining some of the sun’s heat. John Tyndall proved this 150 years ago in 1861. In the last 100 years our burning of oil, gas and coal has added 40% more CO2 to the atmosphere. That extra CO2 has warmed the planet 0.8C globally and 1.5C to 2.0C in Canada so far.
Tip # 4: Follow the money
Ask this question who has the most to gain or lose? Climate scientist’s largely rely on getting research money from governments. Scientists are smart people who are good with numbers so if they just wanted to make money they’d be working on Bay St or Wall St.
On the other hand the oil, coal and gas companies represent by far the richest industry in human history. In 2010 their revenues were estimated to be $5 trillion, far more than Canada’s $1.7 trillion gross domestic product (GDP) that year. (A trillion is one thousand billion. A trillion seconds is nearly 32,000 years).
The five biggest oil companies made a record $137 billion in profits in 2011. Surprisingly Canada’s largely foreign-owned oil and gas industry still receives $1.3 billion a year in public subsidies despite many promises to end this taxpayer handout.
Some fossil fuel companies have been caught sowing confusion and doubt about climate change just like the tobacco companies did regarding the link between smoking and lung cancer. Fossil fuel interests fund organizations that look official or science-based and they publish reports, write opinion pieces or do media interviews stating that global warming is a hoax and there is no real need to burn less oil, gas or coal. One of these organizations is Canada’s Friends of Science and its related site ClimateChange101 that received funding from Calgary oil company Talisman Energy to put out false and long-debunked critiques of climate science.
Here’s two of the best sources I use to help me sort fact from fiction:
For climate science go to “Skeptical Science”, a volunteer community with clearly written, rock solid science-based answers on climate.
No one really wants to think about climate change and what it means for our children’s future. It is too difficult, too painful to even consider. But avoiding or denying global warming and its dangers prevents us from taking action to minimize future impacts. Inaction and delay are truly terrifying. However taking action at the personal, family and community levels is liberating and empowering. We need to start a conversation about this.
Uxbridge’s Stephen Leahy is the 2012 co-winner of the Prince Albert/United Nations Global Prize for Climate Change reporting . He is the senior science and environment correspondent at IPS, Inter Press Service News Agency, based in Rome. His work is also published in National Geographic, The Guardian (UK), New Scientist, Al Jazeera, Earth Island Journal and others.