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Forest Service paying timber industry to pick which trees it wants in Alaskas’ Tongas National Forest

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“Logging companies should pay for the privilege of cutting trees on a national forest — taxpayers should not be writing checks to corporations to cut a public treasure like the Tongass. The Forest Service should end this grant immediately.” –Tom Waldo. Attorney, Earthjustice
Up to $1.3 million in U.S. Forest Service (USFS) dollars will wind up in the hands of the Alaska Forest Association — a timber industry group — for work that entails selecting old-growth trees to be logged on Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, government records show.

Documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act reveal a series of agreements linking the federal agency, the Alaska Forest Association, and the Alaska Division of Forestry in a public-private partnership arrangement that ultimately grants logging companies first pick in the largest timber sale undertaken in any national forest in more than 30 years. The timber sale, dubbed the Prince of Wales Landscape Level Analysis (POWLLA), will take place over an area spanning roughly 1.8 million acres. It is the subject of litigation brought by the environmental law firm Earthjustice, on behalf of clients who claim the Forest Service violated the law by keeping the public in the dark and failing to disclose where logging would take place. Oral argument in that case has been scheduled for Feb. 7 in Juneau.

“This grant has it backwards,” said Earthjustice staff attorney Tom Waldo. “Logging companies should pay for the privilege of cutting trees on a national forest — taxpayers should not be writing checks to corporations to cut a public treasure like the Tongass. The Forest Service should end this grant immediately.”

Documents obtained by Earthjustice show a pass-through of federal funding flowing to the timber industry association, via the state of Alaska. In August 2019, the Alaska Division of Forestry signed a “Cooperative Agreement” with the Alaska Forest Association as a side-deal under an agreement the Alaska Division of Forestry and U.S. Forest Service had made the month before.

The pact between the state and federal agency, known as a “Challenge Cost Share Agreement,” pledges $300,000 annually from the Forest Service for up to five years. That funding supports “cadres,” billed as training programs, which bring loggers together with agency officials to go into the field and mark trees for removal by helicopter. In turn, the “Cooperative Agreement” between the state and the Alaska Forest Association puts industry in charge of managing this work and passes nearly all of the money — $260,000 annually, totaling $1.3 million — through to the industry association.

“Even though many people rely on the area slated for logging on Prince of Wales for a variety of livelihoods and recreation, the Forest Service approved this mammoth timber sale without giving the public basic information about where it intends to log,” said Larry Edwards of Alaska Rainforest Defenders. “The secret agreements uncovered through public-records requests show the timber industry is not only privy to such information, but actively influencing what the Forest Service will let it chop down. That’s a conflict of interest and, worse, the Forest Service is paying industry to hold this special seat at the table.”

Waldo added, “Allowing the timber industry to cherry-pick the most valuable trees will maximize profit at the expense of important wildlife habitat.”

This is at least the second recent grant issued by the Forest Service that has landed in the hands of the timber industry to influence Tongass logging issues. In 2018, the Forest Service granted $2 million to the State of Alaska to remove existing protections for roadless areas of the Tongass National Forest. In 2019 the State passed $200,000 of that to the Alaska Forest Association. That use of federal funds spurred a Congressional inquiry. Last year, more than 444,000 people sent comments to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue opposing the proposed rollback of the Roadless Rule in the Tongass National Forest.

Source: Earth Justice

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The Green Jobs Advantage: How Climate-friendly Investments Are Better Job Creators

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This paper compares job creation per dollar from various types of green investments vs. unsustainable investments. It also explores how to promote good jobs that have fair wages, job security, opportunities for career growth, safe working conditions, and are accessible for all.

Source: World Resource Institute

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused millions of jobs to be lost globally and has exacerbated inequality. At the same time, addressing climate change is an urgent challenge. Too many governments have funneled money to unsustainable sectors as part of their COVID-19 recovery efforts even though this is not the best job creator and will exacerbate climate change.

This analysis of studies from around the world finds that green investments generally create more jobs per US$1 million than unsustainable investments. It compares near-term job creation effects from clean energy vs. fossil fuels, public transportation vs. roads, electric vehicles vs. internal combustion engine vehicles, and nature-based solutions vs. oil and gas production.

For example, on average:

  • Investing in solar PV creates 1.5 times as many jobs as fossil fuels per $1 million.
  • Building efficiency creates 2.8 times as many jobs as fossil fuels per $1 million.
  • Mass transit creates 1.4 times as many jobs as road construction per $1 million.
  • Ecosystem restoration creates 3.7 times as many jobs as oil & gas production per $1 million.

The paper also explores job quality in green sectors. In developing countries, green jobs can offer good wages when they are formal, but too many are informal and temporary, limiting access to work security, safety and social protections. In developed countries, new green jobs can provide avenues to the middle class, but may have wages and benefits that aren’t as high as those in traditional sectors where, in many cases, workers have been able to fight for job quality through decades of collective action.

Government investment should come with conditions that ensure fair wages and benefits, work security, safe working conditions, opportunities for training and advancement, the right to organize, and accessibility to all.

This paper is jointly published by WRI, the International Trade Union Confederation, and New Climate Economy.

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Behind the Lofty SDGs the Reality is People Don’t Trust Governments to Act

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Behind the Lofty SDGs the Reality is People Don’t Trust Governments to Act

By Andrew Cave, Driving Change

Michael Sani is a fervent believer in people casting transformative power with their votes. As chief executive of Bite the Ballot, a program supporting the U.K. Cabinet Office to increase voter registration, he partnered with Starbucks to create “DeCafe” debates, re-invigorating the spirit of the 17th Century coffee shop to inspire participation in elections.

 

The social entrepreneur later took this initiative to France and Colombia to support political engagement in elections and saw its methodology inspire the African Prisons Project, which held events in prisons with key social justice stakeholders.

 

Now CEO of Play Verto, which he says takes a “holistic approach” to accelerating and magnifying social impact through data-led decision-making, Sani’s new target is nothing less than generating the people power to help change the world.

 

The British-born, Egypt-based former business studies teacher recently unveiled The People’s Report, a global poll enabling 17,000 people speaking 43 different languages on the front lines of climate change to submit de-facto annual returns on how it is affecting their daily lives. The aim is for this exercise to act as a flash scorecard on progress toward achieving the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

 

Emanating from discussions in 2019 with Catalyst 2030, a social entrepreneurship policy initiative, and run on a shoestring with a tiny staff reliant on volunteers and funded by friends and supporters, The People’s Report also wants its data to be used to formulate future policies.

 

“Social entrepreneurs want to collaborate in order to achieve the SDGs” says Sani, “but there are many different social entrepreneurs working towards the SDGs in silos across the different thematic areas.

 

“They have the same goals, but collaboration is hard to come by and what often happens is that there’s not enough funding or resources and you end up competing against those you should be working with because of the way the ecosystem has been put together.

 

“A lot of social entrepreneurs are therefore just surviving, rather than thriving, and that’s the piece of the jigsaw that most fascinates me: how do we shift the sector from survive mode and thrive.”

 

A collaboration between Catalyst 2030, the Social Progress Imperative and Play Verto, The People’s Report’s aim is to measure the reality of peoples’ lives in relation to the SDGs. Eleven questions were posed to ordinary people accessed through the partners’ networks. Eleven questions were posed to ordinary people accessed through the networks of Catalyst 2030 and other initiatives including the Social Progress Index.

 

 

 

 

They were answered by people on the world’s front lines: from the townships of South Africa, sex workers in India, Syrians in refugee camps, truck drivers in Australia, rose growers in Bogota, and office workers in Japan.

 

The inaugural survey found nearly two-thirds of respondents stating that they are experiencing the direct effects of climate change in their daily lives. Some 50% said they cannot trust their governmental leaders to address the issue. Asked whether they would choose to raise children in their communities in the current worsening environment, 34% of respondents replied in the negative.

 

The poll found that 34% of respondents under the age of 51 reported worsening mental health since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread evidence that they are living in the climate emergency, with 79% of respondents in the Indian subcontinent and 63% overall saying they had personally witnessed biodiversity loss.

 

The reality of hunger was also evident, with Africa (32%) and the Indian subcontinent (24%) reporting the highest levels, but 15% of North Americans and 14% of Europeans also saying they go to bed hungry. The impact of COVID-19 was clearly seen as 43% of respondents saying they had lost their income.

 

Lack of trust in governments emerged as a real problem, with 57% citing this in the Middle East and North Africa and one-third of all respondents stating that different views were not respected in their communities.

 

Finally, the survey identified a genuine fear for the future, with 42% of people in the Middle East and North Africa expressing little confidence in the future.

 

Sani and his partners are now planning much bigger Peoples Reports over the remaining eight years until the UN’s deadline. “The call to arms was ‘What’s your story?’” he says.

 

“We wanted to get the realities of as many people as possible at a particular point in time, with the goal of taking that back to the UN. It’s not about pointing out where their data is wrong and our data is right, but just to offer up our ideas so we can all work together with fresh and vivid information.

 

“We’ve got nine years to achieve the SDGs and this is the state of our realities according to the people facing them. We hope it can help form a unified voice to help better shape strategies based on need and a better understanding of what’s working and what’s not.

 

“If we’re going to set forth such an ambitious plan as achieving the SDGs, we really need to have our finger on the pulse. Now we have the data to take this forward.”

Source: Driving Change

Andrew Cave

Andrew Cave is a British business journalist who has written for The Daily Telegraph for 24 years in London and New York, rising to be Associate City Editor before switching to freelance writing in 2005. He also penned columns for Forbes Magazine for six years and has written five books on leadership and management.

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Rebranding Public Service

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Public service needs a rebranding.

It needs to emphasize that it is one of the best ways individuals can make a significant difference to society, which should help it compete with tech giants and other private sector employers for the brightest and best talent.

By Andrew Cave, Driving Change

That’s the view of Jeffrey Neal, who has spent his career in public sector human resources, including nine years as Human Resources director for the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and two years as Chief Human Capital Officer at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

 

Now running consulting firm ChiefHRO, he believes one major problem in attracting the talent it needs is that “government doesn’t promote or market itself very well,” sometimes because it is prohibited from doing so.

 

“There are some people who think that government should never tout government,” he says, “but the reality is that if you want to recruit talent, you have to market. I think an increased focus on public service would be a very good thing.

 

“Another problem is that a lot of federal government agencies don’t recruit well. They do what some people in the HR field refer to as ‘post and pray’, where you post a job listing and pray that somebody qualified will apply for it. That’s not recruiting.

 

Recruitment Strategy 1: Focus on providing people with interesting work.

 

“What it ends up giving you is lower-caliber candidates who are not what you need. Federal agencies need to put some resources behind developing their human resources capabilities. They don’t do that very well in most agencies right now.”

 

Neal’s experience working in U.S. government agencies focused on science saw him recruit physicists, chemists, and metallurgists, while at the DLA he hired supply chain management personnel including buyers and inventory managers to handle material in warehouses.

 

He believes public sector recruitment is misunderstood, partly because it is impossible to generalize about its wide range of agencies, occupations, and skillsets.

 

However, he is adamant that merely focusing on the pay gap between public and private sectors misses the point. “When you look at high-caliber talent, is it about money or also intellect, willingness to work, creativity, and character?” he asks.

 

“I would make the argument that a person who is very bright and who is only interested in making money for himself or herself is not a high-caliber person. They are a greedy, self-centered person. In my definition of high-caliber, I would exclude people who are greedy and self-centered. I think there are very smart people who are interested in things other than going to the highest bidder.”

 

Recruitment Strategy 2: Hire beginners.

 

When working for DHS during the Obama administration, Neal saw how young people were drawn to public service when they thought they could make a difference. When Obama was elected, a wave of smart, energetic, and very enthusiastic people infused the administration with creativity and dynamism after working on the presidential campaign.

 

“They were exceptional young people who any organization would be thrilled to have,” he says. “We have to figure out what’s going to attract them, and we can’t do it with money. Governments can’t compete with the private sector in terms of money.

 

“If you look at what some of those jobs would have to pay to truly compete on a financial basis with the private sector, you’d have to be paying people five, six, or seven times the national average income and that just doesn’t sit well with people.

 

“The fact that it’s what the labor market says you should pay someone is irrelevant because people think differently about government. They don’t want government to be a place to go to get rich.”

 

Neal believes government recruitment should focus instead on providing people with interesting work. When working for the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington D.C., a chemist won a Nobel Prize for work he carried out there.

 

 

 

 

“He worked his entire career there,” says Neal. “He could have gone out and easily made ten times what the Naval Research Lab paid him, but the lab allowed him to do basic research in the kind of science he wanted to do so he stayed for decades.”

 

Different agencies use contrasting approaches. At the DLA, Neal says 25,000 people were employed at an agency with annual sales of $40bn but there was such a broad focus that it was very difficult to find private sector applicants with the necessary experience.

 

Instead, the agency hired entry level people and developed talent internally. This added complexity to the hiring process, with the agency having to project forward what its needs would be because training inventory management and contracting specialists took about two years. However, it proved successful, and the agency still uses this approach.

 

At the DHS, meanwhile, there were 200,000 civilian employees, plus 40,000 in the military and U. S. Coast Guard and recruitment had to contend with the scale of operations and with bureaucracy and red tape.

 

“They had to hire a lot of people both at the entry level and mid-career and still struggle with a lot of their hiring,” says Neal. “The contract specialists at the buying end of the operations have to follow the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), which runs to 1,000 pages of requirements.

 

“Whereas you can find buyers in the private sector, they don’t know a thing about the FAR so a very experienced buyer who doesn’t have extensive training in it will fail because they don’t know what’s legal and what’s not and they can’t do the job because they don’t know the rules.”

 

Recruitment Strategy 3: Look to other sectors.

 

With The Transportation Security Administration’s 60,000-strong workforce, moreover, an issue was that the private sector didn’t have a lot of people doing similar work.

 

The solution was to hire straight from school and train people. “It may seem odd, but their hiring is more closely related to hiring for a department store or fast-food restaurant than it is for a law enforcement organization,” says Neal.

 

One skill that Neal finds clearly lacking in government is in cybersecurity, where the labor and jobs market are out of alignment, with huge demand for the limited supply of specialists.

 

As for a world where people can seamlessly switch in and out of public service, Neal feels it will take time to develop. “What it will require is less division in our society,” he says. “I do think it’s possible. We just have to get people interested in being a little less selfish. I’m not optimistic it’s going to happen soon.”

Source: Driving Change

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Mobilized TV on Free Speech TV  takes a deep look at our world, the consequences of human activity on our planet, and how we can reverse and prevent existing and future crises from occurring. Mobilized reveals life on our planet as a system of systems which all work together for the optimal health of the whole. The show delves into deep conversations with change-makers so people can clearly take concerted actions.

Produced by Steven Jay and hosted by Jeff Van Treese.

Mobilized’s TV series Mobilized TV  premieres on Free Speech TV on Friday, October 15, 2021. All episodes appear:

Fridays 9:30 PM Eastern (USA/Canada)

Saturdays; 6:30 PM (Eastern USA/Canada)

Sundays: 8:30 AM Eastern (USA/Canada)

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