Briefly

Stuff that matters


Green light special

Walmart just pledged to eliminate a billion tons of greenhouse gas.

That’s as much as Germany’s yearly emissions.

It’s hardly the first example of a business charging ahead on climate change mitigation while governments dither. Pretty much every giant corporation has made a commitment to reduce its emissions: food titan Unilever, everything maker General Electric, and IKEA (where you get your OMLOPPs), and on and on.

But what Walmart does matters. The company is such a behemoth that its policy changes trigger transformation around the globe. Walmart is the 10th largest economic entity in the world, after Canada, so this effort, dubbed “Project Gigaton,” is akin to every Canadian signing on to a strict sustainability plan.

Most of Walmart’s environmental footprint comes from other businesses extracting raw materials to manufacture Walmart’s products. So it will be pushing its suppliers to clean up their act, aiming to slash a gigaton of greenhouse gas emissions from its supply chain.

The Environmental Defense Fund has been working with Walmart to cut its emissions for years, and so there’s a track record here. In 2010, Walmart pledged to cut 28 million metric tons (like removing 6 million cars from the road), then surpassed that goal in five years. Now, they’re aiming to meet a goal 35 times larger, by 2030.


Standing Rock

A state agency filed a complaint against the security company that tracked and targeted DAPL opponents.

North Dakota’s Private Investigative and Security Board says TigerSwan has been operating in the state without a license since last year, when Energy Transfer Partners hired the private paramilitary firm founded by a special forces veteran.

The official allegation comes several weeks after Grist and The Intercept separately reported on leaked internal documents showing that TigerSwan had launched an intrusive military-style surveillance and counterintelligence campaign against anti-Dakota Access Pipeline activists and their allies.

Last fall and again earlier this year, the security board denied applications from TigerSwan’s founder, James Patrick Reese, to become a licensed security provider in North Dakota. TigerSwan “illegally” continued to operate in the state anyway, the board’s attorneys allege in a 68-page complaint dated June 12 and filed this week. Those operations included “roving security teams” and monitoring protesters and their allies, the board says. (Read the complaint here.)

Under North Dakota state law, providing private investigative or security services without a license is considered a misdemeanor. The security board is seeking an injunction against TigerSwan and Reese in state court and asking for administrative fines for the alleged violations.

According to the complaint, which includes copies of some of the same TigerSwan “situation reports” obtained and published by Grist and The Intercept, the company provided flyover photography of the protests to Energy Transfer Partners, coordinated with local law enforcement, and placed or attempted to place undercover agents among the self-described water protectors, among other tactics. The complaint alleges that some of those efforts are ongoing.


rock bikini bottom

A Czech nuclear plant staged a bikini contest to hire its next intern.

An actual swimsuit contest pitted 10 high school grads against each other as they posed for photos at the Temelin Nuclear Power Station.

According to Temelin’s Facebook post, which has since been taken down, the woman whose photo got the most likes would earn the title of “Miss Energy 2017” as well as a two-week internship with the company.

“We think the photographs are very tasteful,” the company commented on the post.

Others disagreed. “The competition is absolutely outside the bounds of ethics,” Petra Havlíková, a lawyer for human rights and an equal opportunities adviser, told a Czech news site.

Temelin apologized for the competition and offered an internship to all 10 of the finalists.

“Only in Europe!” you might be thinking, shaking your head in disbelief. Not so. Across the United States, young women compete in beauty pageants sponsored by fossil fuel companies to vie for titles like Miss Oil Patch, Miss Coal Queen, and Princess Flame.


But Is It Art

Humans have been exploiting the world for so long that there’s a museum about it.

The new Museum of Capitalism in Oakland, California, explores “the ideology, history, and legacy of capitalism.” Surprise! One of the most detrimental legacies of capitalism is … climate change.

Bear with us (and the museum’s curators): The fossil fuel production that drives climate change is due to global (read: American) desire for profit and growth.

The museum — funded largely through a grant from the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation — exhibits several works examining how humans despoil the environment in our quest for more things. Some are simple, like a bright blue baseball cap emblazoned with “COAL = JOBS” in white, akin to the ubiquitous MAGA accessory.

“American Domain,” an exhibit curated by Erin Elder (below), explores the ways in which land in the U.S. has been “continually staked and claimed.” Photographs of the Mexican-American border hang alongside images of drilling equipment, suggesting inconsistency in the United States’ attitude toward borders when it comes to fossil fuel access versus immigration.

“American Domain”Brea McAnally/Brea Photography

In another section of the museum, a video by Kota Takeuchi shows a worker undertaking cleanup of the Fukushima disaster. The worker slowly points at the audience through the camera lens, a designation of blame lasting over 20 minutes.

It’s a succinct gesture that gets to the point of the whole museum: We’re all complicit.


get your facts straight

A top scientist ‘felt bullied’ to downplay facts by EPA chief of staff.

Recently revealed emails show that Deborah Swackhamer on the EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors was asked to downplay the dismissals of several members of the scientific board during her May 23 testimony.

Swackhamer had been prepping to testify before the House Science Committee when she received emails from EPA Chief of Staff Ryan Jackson. Jackson said to use EPA “talking points” and say that “a decision had not yet been made” about the dismissals … despite several scientists on the board already receiving notices that their terms wouldn’t be renewed.

“I was stunned that he was pushing me to ‘correct’ something in my testimony,” Swackhamer told the New York Times. “I was factual, and he was not. I felt bullied.”

Swackhamer added that member count on the scientific review board will drop from 68 to 11 by September, “essentially suspend[ing] scientific activities.”

The Democrats on the committee asked Pruitt to investigate the email exchange. The scientists’ dismissals come on top of the Trump administration’s recent anti-science maneuvers, including Secretary of Energy Rick Perry’s open climate denial. In the words of DJ Khaled, this feels like another one.


I'll stick with the salad

Okja promises gorgeous scenery, gruesome animal slaughter, and a whole lotta tears.

Imagine you have a pet that’s been genetically engineered to be delicious meat. The people who engineered said pet are eventually going to come after it for its intended purpose — what do you do?

This is the premise of Okja, the new film from Snowpiercer director Bong Joon Ho. Mija is a tween desperately trying to save her giant, genetically-engineered pet pig, Okja, from the hands of corporate butchers. It’s a guaranteed heartwrencher set against the lush mountains of South Korea.

In an interview with the New York Times, director Bong Joon Ho disclosed that he’d visited a Colorado slaughterhouse to prepare for the film’s graphic scenes. The experience pushed him to go temporarily vegan — and he wants to convey those horrors to the audience. “I wanted to inflict certain psychological pain [on the audience] because in reality, that’s what the animals go through,” he said.

Certain scenes succeed so well in this regard that the film was initially turned down by multiple studios. Netflix, however, will be streaming the film starting on June 28. Keep your tissues close and your tofu closer.


Climate change for dummies

This professor made a climate change PowerPoint for Trump, and it will make you smile.

Ken Schultz, a political science professor at Stanford University, shared the presentation on Twitter over the weekend.

The snarky explainer lays out climate change in terms President Trump can understand — you know, golf, big/beautiful walls, and YUGE Electoral College victories.

Check out the hilarious thread below:

So simple, even a Trump can understand.