As sports commentators and news reporters from all over the world endlessly discuss Sochi's not-so-cold weather and Olympian efforts to improve snow conditions, they often fail to mention that balmy winters may become the new normal in many long-established ski destinations, thanks to our changing global climate. The Olympics have repeatedly placed the world's most pressing concerns and crises in front of a world audience. This year, 105 winter Olympians have called for climate action.
On January 31, as part of an "International Day of Action" against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), protesters rallied in front of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's office in San Francisco's Federal Building and marched on Market Street. Nancy Pelosi has said publicly that she has concerns about the TPP but she continues to avoid taking a bold stance against Fast Track and TPP that might make a difference in the legislation's chances.
Homeless advocates involved in establishing Santa Cruz Sanctuary Camp embarked on a tour of Oregon and Washington State’s “sanctuary type” homeless camps and villages as a research investigation. After touring the northwest interviewing the creators, inhabitants, and neighbors of these camps, a video documentary was produced that chronicles their trip and showcases the new paradigm of citizen organized, community sanctioned homeless communities.
On February 3, protest vigils were held across the country following the State Department’s release of the final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL pipeline. The protests included thousands of demonstrators urging the president to keep his word in the fight against climate change and reject the controversial pipeline. In the Bay Area rallies were held in many cities, including Oakland, Palo Alto, and Santa Cruz.
David Hayden, a frontline activist and advocate for animal and human rights, passed away on January 31. He was the primary driving force at No Compromise magazine and an S.F. Grand Jury resister. David lived in Santa Cruz and worked at UCSC. A memorial in the Talon Conspiracy describes David's passing as, "a reminder that the best fighters are also the best people: kindhearted, soft spoken, humble, and ready to raise hell when injustice rears its ugly head."
The Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal petition on January 16 with the National Marine Fisheries Service to protect more critical habitat for the endangered Southern Resident population of orcas. If successful the proposal would extend Endangered Species Act protection to the whales’ winter foraging range off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California. After several drastic declines, only 81 killer whales remain in the Southern Resident population.
The Obama administration’s push to modernize U.S. ports to accommodate huge new ships that can pass through the widened Panama Canal worries environmentalists who believe U.S. coastlines will be subjected to enormous damage and coastal residents will face increased health risks. For marine life already threatened by shipping traffic, like the majestic right whale, the odds are even tougher.