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Modoc – Ralph Helfer

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Modoc
True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived
Ralph Helfer

Genre: Nature

Price: $8.99

Publish Date: October 13, 2009

Publisher: HarperCollins e-books

Seller: HarperCollins


Spanning several decades and three continents, Modoc is one of the most amazing true animal stories ever told. Raised together in a small German circus town, a boy and an elephant formed a bond that would last their entire lives, and would be tested time and again; through a near-fatal shipwreck in the Indian Ocean, an apprenticeship with the legendary Mahout elephant trainers in the Indian teak forests, and their eventual rise to circus stardom in 1940s New York City. Modoc is a captivating true story of loyalty, friendship, and high adventure, to be treasured by animal lovers everywhere.

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Modoc – Ralph Helfer

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What is Scott Pruitt so afraid of?

For a country that already imports 99 percent of its oil, France’s decision to end all new oil development and phase out existing projects by 2040 may not seem all that meaningful. The Guardian called it a “largely symbolic gesture.”

But actually, as geoscientist Erik Klemetti noted, France is committing to keeping a massive oil reservoir in the ground. The Paris Basin, a region in northern France, may contain nearly as much underground petroleum as the huge Bakken Formation in North Dakota. Extracting that oil and gas would require extensive fracking.

Klemetti calculates that France could extract 100 years worth of oil for the country by fully exploring the Paris Basin — which could contain, according to the top estimate, 5 billion barrels of oil. At current oil prices (around $58 per barrel), that’s worth about $290 billion.

Instead, France decided to say au revoir to oil and gas altogether.

Earlier this year, the country also announced it would ban internal combustion engines by 2040. With decisions like these, France is positioning itself on the right side of history. And it’s sending a message to a world that’s floundering on climate change: A more just and prosperous future is possible, and it doesn’t require the dirty fuels of the past.

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What is Scott Pruitt so afraid of?

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That French plan to attract climate scientists? It’s working.

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That French plan to attract climate scientists? It’s working.

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France just joined the movement to ban fossil-fueled cars.

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France just joined the movement to ban fossil-fueled cars.

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Der Spiegel Just Published the Minutes From Trump’s Contentious Meeting With G7 Leaders

Mother Jones

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German magazine Der Spiegel has been given access to minutes from a contentious meeting of G7 leaders in Taormina, Sicily, at the end of May, in which they applied last-ditch pressure on President Donald Trump to stay in the Paris climate agreement.

The meeting came toward the end of Trump’s first trip abroad as president—and became an opportunity for world leaders to intensely lobby the American president before Trump’s final decision on whether the United States would leave the historic climate accord.

The leaders told Trump in no uncertain terms that if the United States abandoned the agreement, China would be the direct beneficiary.

“Climate change is real and it affects the poorest countries,” said Emmanuel Macron, the newly elected French president, at the outset of the private conversation.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau then told Trump that the success of repairing the ozone layer proved that industry could be persuaded to act on harmful emissions, according to the account.

Then, German Chancellor Angela Merkel brought up China: “If the world’s largest economic power were to pull out, the field would be left to the Chinese,” she said. According to Der Spiegel, Merkel added that Chinese President Xi Jinping was preparing to take advantage of the vacuum left by America’s exit. Even Saudi Arabia, she added, was preparing for a world without oil.

Trump was unmoved. “For me,” the president reportedly said, “it’s easier to stay in than step out,” adding that green regulations were killing American jobs.

As it became clear Trump would not budge, Macron admitted defeat, according to this account.

“Now China leads,” he said.

The account adds fresh details to the president’s fraught European trip. Following the meeting, the G7 broke with tradition to release a statement where six nations reaffirmed the Paris climate agreement, without the United States. The president also caused a diplomatic scuffle in Italy after accusing Germany of being “very bad” on trade and appeared to literally shove aside a leader of a NATO ally.

In a Rose Garden ceremony last Thursday, Trump announced that the United States would leave the historic Paris climate agreement—promising to “begin negotiations to reenter either the Paris accord or an entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States.”

In response to the president’s announcement, President Macron of France released a video statement, saying, “If we do nothing, our children will know a world of migrations, of wars, of shortage. A dangerous world.”

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Der Spiegel Just Published the Minutes From Trump’s Contentious Meeting With G7 Leaders

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Trump’s Behavior in Europe Has Made the World Cringe. Here’s What’s Really on the Line at the G7.

Mother Jones

One year ago Friday, when speaking on a campaign stop in North Dakota, Donald Trump declared he’d “cancel” the Paris climate agreement within 100 days of his presidency, framing it as a “bad deal” that undermines domestic interests. The 100 days have passed, but his unfulfilled pledge hangs over the G7 meeting in Italy.

Trump has already appeared to push a NATO leader aside in Brussels and caused a diplomatic scuffle in Italy after accusing Germany of being “very bad” on trade. But his decision on Paris is far more significant, especially in terms of the response of the 195 signers of the 2015 agreement. The question is whether the rest of the world sinks to the low bar that Trump has set, and the G7 is the first key test. On the one hand, Trump’s resistance may force the G7 to downgrade its climate ambitions and show how US denial is already taking its toll on the global stage. On the other, a G7 that reaffirms Paris goals would demonstrate that the rest of the world won’t be dragged down by America’s new president.

“I think what the other countries are concerned about is that there is not any question about the rest of the industrialized countries raising ambition over time,” says Union of Concerned Scientist’s Director of Strategy and Policy Alden Meyer, who’s followed global climate negotiations for more than 20 years. “That’s why this is so tricky to go along with the US’s minimalist demands in negotiations.”

After world leaders from Germany, France, Canada, Japan, Italy, and the United Kingdom meet on Friday, senior officials will gather to hammer out a text to try to represent a unified front, with global warming usually ranking among the top priorities. Climate change may not be important to Trump, who’s regularly called it a hoax, but it is to leaders of the G7—and has been for a long time. Meyer, who’s followed global climate negotiations for more than 20 years, points to 2005 as when concerns began, but David Waskow, World Resources Institute’s International Climate Initiative Director, says the focus extends even further back, receiving some mention in every G7 text for the last three decades.

That’s not to say there were never any disagreement. In 2015, Canada, home to carbon-intensive tar sands and then led by the conservative Stephen Harper, resisted strong climate goals but eventually agreed to a long-term decarbonization target that involved phasing out fossil fuel use by the end of the century. Japan, which has higher emissions than most countries in the G7, save for the US, has also historically resisted stronger climate language and has become more reliant on coal ever since it mothballed nuclear plants after the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Yet both these countries have changed. Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is more committed on climate change than his predecessor was, and Japan has vowed to fulfill its pledges in the Paris agreement. European countries, especially Germany, are expected to take on new leadership in climate negotiations. France’s new President Emmanuel Macron urged Trump in Brussels on Thursday not to abandon the deal.

“We’re seeing a much broader set of actors playing a real leadership role,” says Waskow. “It ranges from major emitters, like the EU, China, and Canada coming together, to many of the most vulnerable countries, to many countries in between, as well as cities, states, and businesses. It’s no longer dependent on one or two countries playing that leadership role.”

But Trump could change everything. The US is still the major polluter in the G7, at 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to self-reported data to the United Nations, and second in the world only to China. France, Italy, and Canada are each responsible for less than 2 percent of global emissions, and Germany and Japan’s slightly higher emissions hardly compare to pollution in the US. If it were up to Trump, the G7 would probably break its tradition on climate change and ignore the issue entirely. His administration is divided on the Paris decision, and the uncertainty has spilled over into other international negotiations.

Even if the US remained in the agreement, it would likely push for lower engagement across the world, urging countries to include language that recognizes the long-term dominance of fossil fuels, which the oil, gas, and coal industries would appreciate seeing. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed earlier this month, Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), who was an energy adviser on Trump’s campaign, argued that the US should advocate for “advancing technology for clean coal and pushing for increased investment and a better regulatory environment” in future climate talks.

On the other hand, the US will face pressure to flip on Trump’s insistence that we do nothing. We saw that at an Arctic Council meeting with Nordic countries, Russia, and Canada earlier this month, where Secretary of State Rex Tillerson agreed to text that loosely reaffirmed the Paris climate agreement and global action to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Headed into the Arctic Council, it wasn’t clear if the US would attempt to remove language on Paris entirely.

Meanwhile, the world waits for Trump to decide: recommit, drop out, or come up with some understanding for continued engagement.

“Some of the Europeans seem to think he may make a decision on the spot in the G7 meeting,” Meyer says. “No one obviously knows. Maybe even including him.”

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Trump’s Behavior in Europe Has Made the World Cringe. Here’s What’s Really on the Line at the G7.

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Trump: Everyone Has a Better Health Care System Than Us

Mother Jones

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Here is Donald Trump defending his offhand statement that Australia has better health care than America:

Needless to say, Trump doesn’t have a clue about what kind of health care Australia provides or whether it’s better than ours. He’s just whistling in the wind, like he always does.

The interesting thing about this is that shows yet again how little Trump knows about conservative ideology—and how little he cares about it. For years, conservatives have insisted that America has the best health care in the world. Just look at all those Canadians crossing the border for hip replacements! And the reason for our superiority is that we rely on the free market far more than most countries.

Trump just casually batted that away. Australia has a fairly common system cobbled together over the years, with taxes paying for basic universal health care and private insurance companies picking up the slack (sort of like Medigap insurance in the US for Medicare patients). It’s not especially generous, but it’s also about half the cost of American health care.

And Trump just said it’s better than the health care we get. Ditto for Britain’s fully socialized health care. Ditto for the Scandinavian countries. Ditto for France and Germany and Japan. Everyone with a government-funded universal health care system is better than us.

Normally, a statement like this would produce a huge blowback among conservatives. But not this time. That’s because conservatives all know that Trump has no idea what he’s saying, and no plans to let it guide policy. He’s certainly not planning to adopt the Australian model. Just the opposite: it’s little more than random babbling while he happily allows Congress to kill off the most Australian-ish aspects of American health care.

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Trump: Everyone Has a Better Health Care System Than Us

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The Perfect Movie for Your Earth Day Date Night

Mother Jones

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While Hollywood has been on a roll with climate change films, most of them have concentrated on the planet’s impending doom. The team behind the new French documentary Tomorrow takes a different tactic. “I discovered that showing catastrophes—explaining what is going wrong in the world—is not enough,” co-director Cyril Dion tells Mother Jones. “We also need to have energy and enthusiasm to build another future.”

It was a challenge to convince others’ of this opinion, Dion says: “Nobody believed in a positive documentary about ecology, economy, and democracy.” Instead, the Caésar-award-winning film, originally released in France in 2015, was partly crowd-funded. As French actress Mélanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds) implores in the film, “This movie is about thousands of people changing the world so we would like it to be financed by thousands of people willing to do the same.”

Over a backdrop of twee music, the upbeat Laurent and Dion serve as our tour guides into everyday communities that have taken creative steps to reduce their contribution to climate change: permaculture farming in France, urban farming in Detroit, a new democratic experiment to let Untouchables and high-caste live together in India, and a political revolution and rewritten constitution in Iceland. Despite Laurent and Dion’s earnestness to identify answers, however, viewers may find that the film does not fully address the magnitude and urgency of the situation—which small-scale, local solutions alone cannot fix.

Nonetheless, change is perhaps most powerful when it is community-driven. The most novel innovation proposed is the possibility of “local currencies” that never leave one geographic area, thus encouraging the type of localized production and consumption that the filmmakers believe to be essential to a sustainable future. The Swiss WIR, an alternative currency system that stays in Switzerland, has been a successful model for such a system since the 1930s. In the years following the 2008 recession, interest has risen in alternative currency systems insulated from the volatility of global markets. “Rather than money just pouring out of your local economy as though it were a leaky bucket, a local currency recognizes that getting money to stay in your local economy as long as it can, and be passed around as many times as possible, is of huge benefit,” Rob Hopkins, a British environmental activist featured in the film, tells Mother Jones.

By focusing on experiments already in the works, Tomorrow presents climate change as a challenge with clear remedies rather than an inevitable apocalypse.

The film opened in New York and Los Angeles on April 21.

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The Perfect Movie for Your Earth Day Date Night

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Study: Climate Change Could Increase PTSD, Suicide, and Depression

Mother Jones

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This story was originally published by the Huffington Post and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Climate change threatens our cities, our crops, our health and our safety. What many people don’t know is that it also threatens our minds.

On Wednesday, just a day after President Donald Trump signed an executive order undoing the Obama administration’s climate change efforts, the American Psychological Association and the environmental group ecoAmerica published a report describing how climate change is poised to take a grievous toll on our mental health. The report, “Mental Health and our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications and Guidance,” concludes that people living in a number of regions could become more susceptible to post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, suicide, and other mental health issues as a result of climate change.

“It all sounds quite drastic, but it’s not inevitable,” Susan Clayton, one of the authors of the report, said Wednesday during a webinar on the topic.

In addition to outlining the connection between climate change and mental health, the report also offers guidance on how to help people who are most vulnerable. That includes expanding infrastructure for mental health programs in susceptible communities and better preparing first responders to address mental health issues in the wake of a disaster.

Here are some of the connections between changing weather patterns and mental health:

Disasters are linked to short- and long-term mental health issues

In 2014, human-induced climate change played a role in at least 14 extreme weather events, National Geographic reports. These included Hawaii’s active hurricane season, droughts in East Africa, and record rains in New Zealand and France. People who endure such events may subsequently experience immediate or long-term psychological trauma due to personal injury, death of a loved one, or loss of personal property or livelihood, among other issues.

Acute traumatic stress is the most common mental health problem that survivors of natural disasters experience, according to the report. But it’s far from the only one.

Of a sample of people affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, for example, 1 in 6 had post-traumatic stress disorder. Suicide and suicidal ideation—also known as suicidal thoughts—more than doubled among this group in the aftermath of the storm. And nearly half the people developed an anxiety or mood disorder such as depression.

Hot weather is associated with increased aggression, suicide

In the U.S. alone, the number of heat waves tripled between 2011 and 2012. Studies have found that hot temperatures are associated with increased aggression—which can lead people to hurt themselves and others.

Homicide rates rise when temperatures go up, a number of studies have concluded. Higher temperatures have also been linked to increased instances of suicide, because the “distress” of feeling hot can sometimes overwhelm people with pre-existing mental health conditions.

Displacement can lead to feelings of severe loss

By 2050, about 200 million people will be displaced due to climate change. This is expected to occur because of a number of factors, including rising sea levels and certain areas becoming unable to support crops. Losing one’s home can lead to a condition called solastalgia, characterized by intense feelings of desolation and loss.

“Loss of place is not a trivial experience,” the authors of the report note. “Many people form a strong attachment to the place where they live, finding it to provide a sense of stability, security, and personal identity.” People who maintain an attachment to their local community also report experiencing greater happiness, life satisfaction and optimism.

Compounding the problem is the fact that people who are forced to move will also lose social connections, meaning their crucial support systems are likely to erode. The loss of these networks would put people’s sense of continuity and belonging at risk.

Loss of land and occupation leads to loss of identity

People with location-based occupations, like farmers and fishermen, will have to abandon their work if the natural world changes too much. This is happening in communities worldwide, but the circumpolar north is especially vulnerable. It’s warming at more than twice the global average rate, putting local indigenous people at what the report calls “the frontlines in experiencing climate change effects.”

In Canada, for example, Inuit people hunt, fish, forage and harvest regularly. Mental health professionals have a number of concerns about this specific community, whose well-being could be compromised with even a subtle change to their environment. Inuit people say they’re turning to drugs and alcohol to help fill “the newly ’empty’ time” they once used for land-based activities, the report notes. Professionals are also concerned that members of this community could lose a sense of their cultural identity and a feeling of balance and good health that they derive from the natural world.

“I think for the Inuit, going out on the land is just as much a part of our life as breathing,” a local leader said, according to the report. “So if we don’t get out, then, for our mental well-being, it’s like you are not fulfilled.”

If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HELLO to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.

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Study: Climate Change Could Increase PTSD, Suicide, and Depression

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Eat Almonds, Drink Almond Milk, Live Free, Make Love, Hold, Touch, Dance, Laugh, Be Happy Always

Mother Jones

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California’s water problems sleep with the fishes, who are thrilled.

Governor Brown did not praise the drought Friday. He buried it. It will spend the rest of eternity entombed in the ground, forced to watch helplessly as its mortal enemy, groundwater, flows resurgently.

Over the years many pages of this august publication have been dedicated to the drought. (It was often noted by the Mother Jones bureaus in DC and NYC that the San Francisco bureau appeared “obsessed” with the drought, which led to this passive-aggressive headline) Though my colleagues in California knew this was coming—the writing was on the wall—they are in shock. And jubilation has erupted in their office. Reports are coming in from Slack that the almond-fueled celebration could continue well into the weekend.

Why are they celebrating with almonds? Because almonds did the drought and if you ate almonds while the drought was going on you are a bad person. But now the drought is over and the almonds, they rain from the sky like kisses from heaven! And the almond milk! My god, the almond milk, once a controversial hipster indulgence, now flows like the roaring rapids of the Colorado river. A new era of cheap broccoli hedonism dawns!

Here is a list of some of the things we said you were not allowed to do because of the drought which you now can in fact do.

1. Eat almonds.

2. Eat nuts in general.

3. Drink almond milk.

4. We felt very strongly about almond milk.

4. Drink mimosas.

5. Eat avocados.

6. Have dairy of any kind, but specifically Greek yogurt.

7. Shower.

8. Do laundry.

9. Not be a total asshole to your neighbor.

10. Eat vegetables during the winter.

11. Ski.

12. Eat romaine lettuce.

13. Enjoy a complimentary glass of water at a restaurant.

14. Drink a drink with really large ridiculous ice cubes.

15. Almonds again.

16. More almonds.

17. Wow, we wrote a lot about almonds.

RIP California’s drought, survived by its loving children, mudslide and fire.

Let me tell you a story. In 2014 in an editorial meeting people were talking about the drought and I asked “where did the water go?” and they all laughed. “Ha ha,” they said. “Ha ha ha.” And I said, “I don’t think you know.” And they said, “everyone knows.” And I said, “where is it? There used to be water, now it’s gone. Where is it?” And they flipped the table over and stormed out, never answering my question. We have published a lot of really great stories about the drought since but none answering the question. I have encountered many theories. There was the theory of the blob and that the water was in the ocean. Maybe it was stuck in a cloud above the ocean. Maybe it was in France. Because here’s the thing, the water didn’t disappear. It’s somewhere. To find the water, you have to think like the water. What place had more water than before? I thought it might have been Seattle, but Seattle actually had a drought too. So, what do you think? You’ve been reading this paragraph and think I’m stupid. You’ve been chuckling along because you know where the water is. So, where is it? I want you to think in your mind where you think the water went. Maybe you think it is an unanswerable question. If that is what you think then I have a surprise for you: Researchers at Stanford, I recently found out, answered the question. I now know where the water went and I’m going to tell you where the water is and none of you will have guessed accurately. Ready? It’s in Alaska.

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Eat Almonds, Drink Almond Milk, Live Free, Make Love, Hold, Touch, Dance, Laugh, Be Happy Always

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