Over the past month, Native American tribes and their allies have been working to block the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), a project perhaps best described as “Keystone XL v2.0”. While the pipeline has not yet been stopped, the tribes won a significant victory recently when the Obama administration temporarily halted its construction.
Within the federal government, the #NoDAPL fight pitted the EPA against the Army Corps of Engineers. The key point of contention between the two agencies was the question of how to best determine DAPL’s environmental impact. The Corps used county-by-county and state-by-state data, while the EPA believed that finer-grained data from “census block groups or census tracts” was more appropriate. By assessing DAPL’s impact over larger areas, the Army Corps of Engineers obscured its effects on the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.
1) You need to read @mckennapr’s piece on the Dakota Access pipeline. And there’s one spot in particular to notice. (Maggie Koerth-Baker) (Twitter)
2) Army Corps says Dakota Access has no environmental justice probs. EPA disagrees. Why? Because they’re using different measures (Maggie Koerth-Baker) (Twitter)
3) @mckennapr points out that Army Corps enviro justice analysis was county-by-county or state-by-state. EPA looks for “census block groups” (Maggie Koerth-Baker) (Twitter)
4) Basically, Army Corps says no enviro justice problem on Dakota Access bc they looked at demographics in way that diluted Native presence (Maggie Koerth-Baker) (Twitter)
5) This is what I mean by “numbers aren’t objective”. Numbers come from a story. If you don’t know the story, you don’t really know numbers. (Maggie Koerth-Baker) (Twitter)
6) Army Corps numbers say Dakota Access doesn’t disproportionately impact Native Americans. But that’s only bc of way they measure. (Maggie Koerth-Baker) (Twitter)
Subtle changes in how data is gathered and aggregated can lead to huge differences in the story that data tells. Unfortunately, there remain significant gaps between those telling our stories and those writing them.
It turns out that Google has been algorithmically identifying potential ISIS recruits and manipulating their search results to surface “deradicalizing” content. Now that program is set to be deployed against right-wing extremists within the US.
Now, I’m happy to see non-violent approaches to dealing with potential terrorist threats. But sanctioning corporations to manipulate our information environment for political ends gives me pause.
What other programs like this are out there? Who decides which populations are targeted? Who decides what information they should be “nudged” towards? How do we hold programs like this accountable?
And perhaps most importantly, can we hold programs like this accountable at all?
Hermit crabs in Okinawa have begun using trash generated by the island’s human population for their homes. Which might seem terrible at first, except that solitary bees in Canada are doing something similar, and may actually be finding the new building materials beneficial.
Something that I think many in the environmental movement still struggle with is the idea that humanity is part of, not apart from, “nature”. The cities we build, the waste we produce, the landscapes we change… For many of our fellow travelers on Earth, human civilization is an unmitigated catastrophe.
But for others, our cities and waste are just another ecosystem service.
A visualization of anticipated species migration driven by climate change.