White nationalists’ extreme solution to the coming environmental apocalypse

White nationalists around the world are appropriating the language of environmentalism.

The white nationalist who allegedly massacred 22 people in El Paso in early August posted a four-page screed on the chatroom 8chan. In it, the shooter blames his attack on the “Hispanic invasion of Texas” and the impending “cultural and ethnic replacement” of whites in America.

The shooter also refers directly to the lengthy manifesto written by the man who allegedly murdered 52 in March in attacks motivated by Islamophobia on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The Christchurch shooter called himself an “ecofascist” who believes there is no “nationalism without environmentalism.” The El Paso shooter titled his rant “An Inconvenient Truth,” apparently in reference to Al Gore’s 2006 documentary warning about the dangers of climate change. He also praised “The Lorax,” Dr. Seuss’ classic story about deforestation and corporate greed.

The prominence of environmental themes in these manifestos is not an oddity. Instead, it signals the rise of ecofascism as a core ideology of contemporary white nationalism, a trend I uncovered when conducting research for my recent book, “Proud Boys and the White Ethnostate: How the Alt-Right Is Warping the American Imagination.”

The roots of ecofascism

Ecofascists combine anxieties about the demographic changes they characterize as “white extinction” with fantasies of pristine lands free of nonwhites and free of pollution.

Ecofascism’s roots trace back to early 1900s when romantic notions of communion with the land took hold in Germany. These ideas found expression in the concept of “lebensraum” or living spaces, and in attempts to create an exclusive Aryan fatherhood in which “blood and soil” racial nationalism reigned supreme. The concept of lebensraum was integral to the expansionist and genocidal policies of the Third Reich.

There is a long thread that ties xenophobia to right-wing environmentalism. In the U.S., strains of ecofascism appeared in the incipient environmental movement, espoused by racialists like Madison Grant, who in the 1920s championed the preservation of native flora including California’s redwood trees, while demonizing nonwhite immigrants.

After World War II, in the name of protecting forests and rivers, nativist organizations opposed to arrivals from non-European countries stoked fears of overpopulation and rampant immigration.

A meme popular online among the far-right and ecofascists is “save trees, not refugees.” Often ecofascist memes take the form of emojis like the popular Norse rune known as Algiz, or the “life” rune. This rune, favored by Heinrich Himmler and the SS, is one of many alternative symbols to swastikas that circulate online to dog whistle neo-Nazism allegiances.

Deep ecology

Many ecofascists today gravitate toward “deep ecology,” the philosophy developed by the Norwegian Arne Naess in the early 1970s. Naess wanted to distinguish “deep ecology,” which he characterized as reverence for all living things, from what he viewed as faddish “shallow ecology.”

Jettisoning Naess’ belief in the value of biological diversity, far-right thinkers have perverted deep ecology, imagining that the world is intrinsically unequal and that racial and gender hierarchies are part of nature’s design.

Deep ecology celebrates a quasi-spiritual connection to the land. As I show in my book, in its white nationalist version only men – white or European men – can truly commune with nature in a meaningful, transcendent way. This cosmic quest fuels their desire to preserve, by force if necessary, pure lands for white people.

White nationalists today look to the Finnish ecofascist Pentti Linkola, who advocates for stringent immigration restriction, “the reversion to pre-industrial life ways, and authoritarian measures to keep human life within strict limits.”

Reflecting on Linkola’s ideas, the white nationalist webzine Counter-Currents impels white men to take ecofascist action, saying that it is their duty to “safeguard the sanctity of the Earth.”

Antonio Basco, whose wife Margie Reckard was murdered during a shooting at a Walmart store, touches a white wooden cross bearing the name of his late wife, at a memorial for the victims of the shooting in El Paso, Texas.
REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

Why partisan labels don’t apply

This background helps to explain why the Christchurch shooter called himself an “ecofascist” and discussed environmental issues in his rambling screed.

The El Paso shooter offered more specific examples. In addition to mentioning the “The Lorax,” he criticized Americans for failing to recycle and for wanton waste of single-use plastics.

Their crusade to save white people from erasure through multiculturalism and immigration mirrors their crusade to preserve nature from environmental destruction and overpopulation.

The conventional wisdom in the public is that environmentalism is the province of liberals, if not of the left, with its commitments to environmental justice and carbon neutrality.

Yet the ubiquity of environmental concerns among white nationalists shows that distinctions between liberal and conservative are not necessarily germane when assessing the ideologies of the far-right today.

If current trends continue, the future will be one of intensified global warming and extreme weather patterns. There will be an increase in climate refugees, often seeking respite in the global north. In this context, I think that white nationalists will be primed to merge the prospect of climate calamities with their anxieties about white extinction.

Census projections indicate that around 2050 the U.S. will become a majority nonwhite country. For white nationalists, this demographic clock ticks more loudly each day. Both the Christchurch and the El Paso shooters invoke the “Great Replacement” theory, or the distorted idea that whites are being demographically outnumbered, to the point of extinction, by immigrants and racial others.

Given the patterns I see emerging, I believe that the public needs to recognize ecofascism as a dangerous cloud gathering on the horizon.

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Why does Liza Minelli only dress in Halston? She talks about her special relatio…

Why does Liza Minelli only dress in Halston? She talks about her special relationship with the American fashion designer in the CNN Film – Halston. Premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/PT #HalstonFilm


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Changes for a landmark agreement mean immigrant children face harsher treatment in US

The Trump administration is trying to terminate the Flores settlement, a legal agreement that determines how immigrant children are treated in U.S. immigration detention.

The 1997 settlement established basic standards for the treatment of unaccompanied minors who were in the custody of federal authorities for violating immigration laws.

It requires the federal government to place children with a close relative or family friend “without unnecessary delay,” rather than detaining them, and to keep immigrant children who are in custody in the “least restrictive conditions” possible. Generally speaking, this has meant migrant children can be kept in federal immigrant detention for only 20 days.

But a new regulation, originally proposed by the Trump administration in 2018 and finalized on Aug. 21, would remove the requirements of the Flores settlement.

Case took years

In the 1980s, the Reagan administration aggressively used detention of Central Americans as a device to deter migration from that region, where violent civil wars had caused tens of thousands to flee.

Central Americans arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border were held in custody – including many who sought asylum in the U.S. because they feared persecution if returned home.

Immigrant rights groups filed a series of lawsuits challenging various aspects of the detention policies, including denying migrants access to counsel, taking steps to encourage them to “consent” to deportation and detaining them in isolated locations far from families and attorneys.

One suit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in 1985 on behalf of Jenny Lisette Flores, a 15-year-old from El Salvador. She had fled violence in her home country to live with an aunt who was in the U.S.

But Flores was detained by federal authorities at the U.S. border for not having proper documentation permitting her to stay in the U.S.

The American Civil Liberties Union charged that holding Flores indefinitely violated the U.S. Constitution and immigration laws. The Flores case slowly made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In its 1993 ruling in the case, the court held that a regulation allowing the government to release a migrant child to a close family member or legal guardian in the United States was legal.

But the primary legacy of the case was the subsequent settlement, to which both the Clinton administration and the plaintiffs agreed in 1997.

The Flores settlement is a landmark agreement in no small part because Central Americans continue to flee violence in their homelands and the U.S. government has responded with mass detention of immigrant children.

Although the settlement was agreeable to the Clinton administration, the Trump administration strongly desires to detain families, including children, for periods longer than permitted by the Flores settlement – in fact, indefinitely.

Central American migrants in March 2019 waited for food in a pen erected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in El Paso, Texas.
AP/Cedar Attanasio

Longtime contentious issue

Litigation over enforcement of the Flores settlement has exploded during the Trump administration, which has detained migrant children in poor conditions along the U.S.-Mexico border since soon after taking office.

The lawsuits include a court case brought by immigrants’ rights and civil liberties groups in response to what they called the “imminent threat to the health and welfare” of migrant children in detention. U.S. border officials should have “promptly released children to their relatives and provided safe and sanitary detention conditions for all children in its custody,” said an attorney representing the groups that brought the action.

Similarly, in the summer of 2018, based on the Flores settlement, a federal court barred immigration authorities from giving children psychotropic drugs without consent of parents or legal guardians.

Conditions apparently have not improved in detention centers across the country. Several children have died while in custody since January, and public outcry over the conditions of detention for the migrants have led to numerous court fights.

President Trump’s attempts to restrict immigration have resulted in several rulings requiring the government to treat immigrant children better.
AP/Evan Vucci

During recent litigation seeking to enforce the Flores settlement, the Department of Justice made headlines for its defense of the detention conditions of migrant children. The judges of the court of appeals were incredulous at the government’s claim that soap and a toothbrush were not necessarily required for detained migrant children. Not surprisingly, the court flatly rejected the government’s claim.

Last year, the Trump administration requested to amend the settlement to allow it to indefinitely detain migrant children.

The courts consistently have denied these requests and have continued to monitor the detention of migrant children, as the Flores settlement requires them to do.

Importantly, the new rule will allow the Department of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services to respond to significant changes that have occurred since the Flores settlement agreement has been in place, including dramatic increases in the numbers of unaccompanied children and family units crossing into the United States.

The rule is slated to take effect on Oct. 23. But immigration and civil liberties advocates have vowed to challenge the rule in court, which will put the proposed change in front of U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee. Gee is the judge who denied the administration’s request last year to extend family detentions.

This is an updated version of an article originally published on Aug. 2, 2018 and revised on June 27, 2019.

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Why don’t hummingbirds get fat or sick from drinking sugary nectar?

Curious Kids is a series for children of all ages. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, send it to CuriousKidsUS@theconversation.com.

Why don’t hummingbirds get fat or sick from drinking sugary nectar? – Dhruv, age 15, Washington, District of Columbia

If you have a hummingbird feeder filled with sugar water, you might have the impression that all that hummingbirds need to live a healthy life is to sip sweet drinks all day long.

Believe it or not, these tiny birds need other types of fuel as well. While sugar makes up a large component of their diet, they also need proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals to be healthy. Their largest source of protein is from eating insects. If you watch hummingbirds near your feeders, you might get to see them do some erratic, zigzag flying – this is how they catch small insects flying through the air.

I’ve been studying hummingbirds for 10 years, and as part of my research, I place tiny aluminum bands on thousands of hummingbird legs to help me learn where they migrate and allow me to monitor how healthy their populations are each year.

What else do hummingbirds eat?

Hummingbirds will also pluck insects directly off of flowers, shrubs and trees. Some of their favorite bugs includes small flies and gnats, ants, tiny insect eggs, larva and even small spiders.

Some people report seeing hummingbirds eating dirt, sand and campfire ashes too. Ornithologists suspect this is to gain certain vitamins and minerals. They are also known to eat pollen and even tree sap. So a hummingbird diet is actually quite complex and varied, and they can’t eat sugar alone to survive.

When humans eat too much sugar consistently, their blood sugar levels rise and they are at risk of getting diabetes. Hummingbirds’ anatomy and digestion are very different from humans. While nectar accounts for about 90% of their diet, hummingbirds don’t get diabetes since their bodies are designed specifically for digesting sucrose. With a heartbeat that can reach 1,260 beats per minute, hummingbirds need the sugar rush.

A hummingbird slurping nectar from Salvia officinalis flowers.
Kit Leong

How to attract and feed hummingbirds

Diluted white sugar most closely resembles the sucrose nectar of flowers the birds feed on. You can easily fill your feeders with sugar water. Mix four parts water to one part white sugar and then boil, cool and fill the feeder. Remember to clean and refill your feeder every few days, especially in hot weather. A dirty or moldy feeder can make hummingbirds sick.

Don’t ever use brown sugar, honey, or any other type of sweetener, which can harm a hummingbird. For example, brown sugar has too much iron in it. Try not to make it too much sweeter than a 4:1 ratio because it is harder for them to digest. There is such a thing as too sweet, even for a hummingbird.

Did you know that hummingbirds probably don’t want red dye added to their sugar water? Red dye serves no healthy purpose for their body (or yours). Most red dyes are petroleum-based, and it makes their poop red, which is unnatural.

The red color on your feeder is enough for a hummingbird to find it. Or consider planting some red or purple flowers in your garden, like Salvias or Monardas – hummingbirds love them and they’re great sources of insects too.

So don’t be shocked if a hummingbird zips past you feeder and ignores a fresh batch of sugar water. It might be focused on getting its protein fix and catching a flying gnat right out of the air.

Hello, curious kids! Do you have a question you’d like an expert to answer? Ask an adult to send your question to curiouskidsus@theconversation.com.

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