Press Freedom and the Assange Appeal; Green Colonialism, Tribal Consent, and the Climate Crisis

Featuring Kevin Gozstola and Hilary Beaumont

by Kate Horgan
Published: Last Updated on
The Project Censored Show
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Press Freedom and the Assange Appeal; Green Colonialism, Tribal Consent, and the Climate Crisis
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Britain’s High Court of Justice has ruled whether Julian Assange can appeal an extradition order that would send him to the U.S. Independent journalist Kevin Gozstola, author or Guilty of Journalism, explains to Mickey the implications of the order, and whether the US might file new charges against the Wikileaks publisher if it finally gets its hands on him. They also discuss the significant consequences for press freedom should the case move forward. Then, Eleanor spoke with independent journalist Hilary Beaumont about her recent reporting on solar geoengineering and tribal consent. Hilary outlines how this technology represents yet another example of green colonialism, the negative and positive potential and effects of such methods, and the paltry attention corporate media give to issues such as Indigenous rights and the climate crisis.

Notes:
Kevin Gosztola is an independent journalist and author. He has covered the Julian Assange legal proceedings in the UK from their beginning, as well as other press-freedom and whistleblower cases. He has been a frequent guest on the Project Censored Show. His book on the Assange case, Guilty of Journalism: The Political Case Against Julian Assange was published in 2023. Gosztola is also the editor of the Dissenter newsletter. Hilary Beaumont is a California-based independent investigative journalist who covers the climate crisis, indigenous rights, and immigration. Her work has been published by The Guardian, Al Jazeera, and High Country News.

 

Video of the Interview with Kevin Gozstola

Video of the Interview with Hilary Beaumont

Below is a Rough Transcript of the Interview with Kevin Gozstola

Mickey Huff: Welcome to the Project Censored Show on Pacifica Radio. I’m your host, Mickey Huff. Today, in this segment, we are welcoming back to the show Kevin Gozstola. Kevin Gozstola is certainly no stranger to the Project Censored audience. He’s been joining us, well, for years, actually, but especially in this past year.

He’s been giving us consistent updates on the case of Julian Assange. Kevin Gozstola is an independent journalist at The Dissenter. He is also the author of Guilty of Journalism, the Political Case Against Julian Assange, with a foreword by Abby Martin. Let me give Kevin a proper introduction. Even though he is no stranger to our audience, he spent the last decade reporting on Assange, WikiLeaks, and the wider war on whistleblowers. He was the co founder and managing editor over at Shadowproof, but as an independent, journalist now, and curator of the Dissenter newsletter. He is also a producer of the podcast Unauthorized Disclosure, and his work has appeared in The Nation, Salon, Common Dreams, Truthout, and many other places.

Kevin Gozstola, welcome back to the Project Censored Show.

Kevin Gozstola: Hey, it’s good to be with you again.

Mickey Huff: Kevin. There has been, in the last month or two, there have been a number of updates around the Julian Assange case as he is still in Belmarsh prison. I’m speaking with you. It is Thursday, April 4th. This interview is pre recorded the program will air next week.

But April 11 is the 5 year anniversary of Julian Assange, being taken and put in Belmarsh prison. And I, again, want to reiterate to our audience. He’s been, well, he’s being detained there. He’s not been sentenced. So and you and I have talked about this before. So as he keeps waiting, for kangaroo courts and political show trials to decide his fate, he’s been languishing there.

So. Kevin, can you please give us some updates? There has been, there has been some action in the case and in the appeals process. Please, bring us up to speed. Kevin Gozstola.

Kevin Gozstola: There was a major development and it’s complex. I think it was confusing for people who are not following the case as closely as me because, it was kind of reported as Julian Assange was granted an appeal.

And then it was also reported that it was on hold, or there’s something the U. S. government’s going to do, and so Julian Assange isn’t really going to be able to challenge his extradition, and the fight has basically been lost. It’s a bit of both, but what I would report to people as we update your listeners is that the UK Appeals Court, this high court of justice, ruled, after, you know, a little more than a month. I thought that was. Remarkable because limbo has defined a lot of this case, and we’ve seen that the courts will take lots and lots of time in making decisions and the people who are strongly suspicious of what the US government is doing to Assange, rightly so, think that this limbo is intentional and they’re dragging it out and they really would prefer not to put Julian Assange on trial. Maybe just see him die in prison. And so they’re punishing him through this process, but the court issued a decision and there were nine grounds for appeal that his legal team had presented. Only on two and a half of the grounds for appeal, what did, did the court say those were valid. And you may say why two and a half? How do they do that? Well, the issue of is his right to freedom of expression being violated was one in which the court said, no, we don’t think what he was doing was journalism. We don’t think that, the US can’t extradite him and put him on trial because it would violate his rights in that respect.

However, lead prosecutor in this case, his name is Gordon Kromberg, said to us in a filing, or said to the district court when she reviewed the extradition request that Julian Assange, if he were on trial, could argue that he was protected by the First Amendment, and then prosecutors would just go to the judge and say, well, he’s a foreigner, he’s not from the US, so he has no First Amendment rights.

And that was what they could argue. And that set off alarm bells for the high court justices because they really were afraid that Julian Assange is, I guess, freedom of speech or are certain constitutional rights that typically come with defendants in the past that he would be deprived of those rights while he is on trial.

The second thing of importance was that they didn’t like how the attorneys answered their questions when they were asked about the death penalty and whether Julian Assange would face the risk of a death sentence if he was brought to the United States. Now, just to be clear, he’s charged with seventeen counts of violating the Espionage Act and he’s charged with one count of a conspiracy to commit a computer intrusion.

None of those offenses carry the death sentence. Can it, but how will we get to there? Well, the attorneys didn’t say that the answer was no when they were asked if additional charges could be added to the indictment after Julian Assange was extradited to the U. S. So the fear is that given what we have heard from officials in the past that they might say you aided and abetted treason.

Well, the crime of treason can carry a death penalty. What if they say that he engaged in espionage? Actual classic form of espionage? Not this form that we’ve seen popularized of like leaking classified information to the press. I mean, what if they say Julian Assange was working for a foreign power like Russia and they want to add an espionage charge to the case?

Those are both crimes that can carry the potential of a death penalty. It is barred by extradition law in the United Kingdom to extradite someone to a country where they would face a death sentence. So this is where he was granted the possibility of an appeal hearing.

Mickey Huff: So Kevin, this, this goes back to, again, you can follow Kevin Gozstola’s work at thedissenter.

org. You wrote March 28th, UK High Court extradition removed CIA’s rationale for assassinating Assange. And that is where you wrote more about the High Court’s decision. A couple things. Obviously coming out of that one, we want to revisit the CIA momentarily, just for a reminder of what that was about.

But also, the other issue here about, the death penalty, again, does it not again, what just your opinion? What is the likelihood that if Assange was extradited. If he is sent to the United States, I fail to understand how it’s possible for him to receive a fair trial. So, I know that this would be speculation, but, you are, very well educated and informed about this case and around this issue.

Obviously, you wrote the book on it, Guilty of Journalism, the Political Case Against Julian Assange. What are your thoughts about that process and what could happen? I don’t believe he could receive a fair trial.

Kevin Gozstola: Yeah, the argument from Julian Assange’s attorneys is if you look at this district where he will be put on trial, the Eastern District of Virginia, not only do you have judges that are part of what has been dubbed the espionage court, they’re highly, inclined to favor the national security arguments of prosecutors.

But you also have the fact that this jury pool, the people who could be populated, who will be invited or asked to perform their duty as jurors, if Julian Assange decides to have a jury trial, they will come from a population that are government employees or contractors of, let’s just call it top secret America, as Bill Arkin and Dana Priest dubbed it over 15 years ago, that these people are, they’ve gone through training.

Some of them, if they have, they should be asked if they have a security clearance, because if they do, they’ve gone through training where they have probably seen pictures of Julian Assange or Chelsea Manning or Edward Snowden or Thomas Drake, who was an NSA whistleblower, who’ve been held up as insider threats, and they’re told how to safeguard classified information and, and that if certain state secrets are disclosed, there’s going to be pandemonium and all sorts of chaos and danger for the United States.

So how would you think they would feel if they are asked to review these allegations against Julian Assange. I mean, even though they’re new and he has occupied a role as a publisher, the US government has gone above and beyond to make it so that he seems like he’s not a journalist. And, in fact, is more of a, of a nefarious actor, a malicious actor, so to speak and so I just want to, so that answers your question, but I want to make sure that I don’t forget to get in here that with the High Court’s ruling, this appeals court, what I told you was the good news that he was giving, given an opportunity for an appeal, but that was put on hold because in a paragraph, very clearly they told the US government what magic words the US government needs to say in order to avoid an appeal. And it was, it was right there on a silver platter. It just says, tell us you won’t impose the death penalty. And if so, then there won’t be an appeal hearing. Tell us that you believe he has some kind of rights to freedom of expression.

And, those will be, that’ll be respected during the trial. And, or that you would allow him to make a first amendment challenge to the espionage act. I think a combination of those. And then, of course, everything will be okay. There will be no appeal hearing. And so the US government can do this by like April 14th.

And then there will be a hearing on May 20th about these assurances, and, you may vaguely remember that we’ve had discussions about assurances before on Project Censored’s radio show, and they related to how Julian Assange would be treated in prison or in detention while awaiting trial, and the US just made several empty pledges to the courts, they cannot be tested, there was no, hearing about them, and then there would be a ruling issued about those, they judges said we have to take them under, that they are good faith assurances. We cannot question how they are being put forward. And, they ruled against Julian Assange after he had prevailed, after, he had convinced a district judge to block extradition back in January, 2021.

So we’re here again. And I don’t expect anything less from the UK high Court. I expect that they will side with the US government and deny Julian Assange an appeal.

Mickey Huff: Yet regardless of whatever representatives from the US government say, the actions do speak very clearly that they have a clear bias.

You just mentioned reasons why he likely won’t be getting a fair trial if he is extradited. I mean it reminded, I couldn’t help but thinking of this when you were speaking Kevin, I was reminded of the Rodney King case that where they tried the police and they moved the trial from South Central LA to Simi Valley where, you know, which was basically a retirement community for police and judges and everyone else.

And of course the cops that beat him, beat King on camera, were acquitted. Couldn’t help but thinking of that. Nevertheless, moving back to Assange, what of this, what of the mention of tacking on, what of the mention of tacking on the to the espionage cases, this collusion or that he was somehow working with, I don’t know, let’s say Russia, right?

Since that’s always on on the minds, especially of Democrats, that there’s always some Russian bogeyman around every corner. And, of course, there’s been all kinds of efforts to connect, assigns to the Trump campaign to Russia. Could you quickly talk about some of those things again and remind our audience of some of the issues around those?

Kevin Gozstola: Yeah, I think that this is believable. I think everyone out there who hears discussion of this case probably can recognize that the US government, if it, if it can get away with it, will go as far as they’re willing to go in pursuing Julian Assange. And that’s why it’s believable to these judges. But they also know that, you know, this government through the CIA and other parts of US intelligence were focused on Julian Assange as a supposed national security threat. And so that’s why it is believable that they would add this espionage charge or add an aiding and abetting treason charge. So, since they’re convinced by prosecutors that he is not a journalist, that is why they believe he could be exposed to these charges.

So, you know, if, if, if it was a conversation between press freedom advocates, we may find that it defies our understanding how a prosecutor could get to an espionage charge or an aiding and abetting treason charge. But it’s not difficult if you believe that Julian Assange has performed some roles like an enemy of the state, because it’s very easy to get there.

And so that’s why. I need to very quickly work in what happened with the CIA part of this, because one of the key things that the Assange legal team wanted to do was to bring in this fresh evidence from a Yahoo News report that was based on over thirty, unnamed officials. These were sources that spoke to them from the Trump administration or from US intelligence agencies that had some knowledge about plans that were allegedly sketched by CIA director Mike Pompeo and other high ranking officials to go after and kidnap or poison or By other means, killed Julian Assange while he was in Ecuador’s London embassy. And I just have to read you. There’s no reason for me to, give you a paraphrase.

I need to read what they wrote. The high court put this in their decision. They said, “On the face of the allegations on the evidence before the judge and the fresh evidence, the contemplation of extreme measures against the applicant,” and the applicant is Julian Assange. “Whether poisoning, for example, or rendition, were a response to the fear that the applicant might flee to Russia.

The short answer to this is that the rationale for such conduct is removed if the applicant is extradited. Extradition would result in the applicant being lawfully in the custody of the United States authorities, and the reasons, if they can be called that, for rendition or kidnap or assassination, then fall away.”

This was one of the most astonishing parts of the decision to me. It was not reported widely. I covered it in great detail, but I must emphasize this court is basically saying that Julian Assange’s life is being saved from the CIA through this extradition. They are essentially saying it was an issue that the CIA might assassinate Julian Assange.

But now that the U. S. government is lawfully pursuing his extradition, there is no risk of CIA rendition anymore, so we need not take this any more seriously than we already have.

Mickey Huff: Welcome back to the Project Censored Show on Pacifica Radio.

I’m your host, Mickey Huff. Today in this segment, we are joined once again by independent reporter Kevin Gozstola of thedissenter.Org. I urge listeners to please continue to check out Kevin’s great reporting and great work on whistleblowers and of course on the ongoing case involving julian Assange.

Kevin’s book that came out over a year ago is called Guilty of Journalism, The Political Case Against Julian Assange. Kevin, before the break, you were talking about and reminding our listeners of the CIA’s role, and we’ve covered this of course at Project Censored. It was one of our top stories several years ago that in fact the CIA had, was plotting to assassinate him.

Of course they were also recording his behavior, they were recording his actions, they were recording everything he did. When he was in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, he’s been in the Belmarsh prison five years this week. And you and I have talked about this repeatedly. And before the break, you just gave the astonishing Orwellian justification for how, extraditing Assange is the way of protecting him from the CIA’s assassination only to deliver him directly into hostile courts in the US where he likely won’t receive a fair hearing. And I want to point out that, you and I have talked about this before, but I would be remiss not to mention it. There are even some press freedom groups that have dragged their feet around this issue. There are still people on the left repeating falsehoods about how Assange is, a Putin puppet, or how he intervened in the Trump election.

And we just touched on some of that moments ago. I still see tired tropes of the rape case that was dropped ages ago being brought up against him on the left. I mean, it’s again, it’s if these people haven’t been reading anything and not that the newspapers are really good on this, but it’s again, people are not keeping up with the case, which is why we have you back on the program so often.

For us at Project Censored, this case really is central to global press freedom, and it’s important that we recognize these many distractions, including character assassinations against Assange, and to remind people that while Julian is a human being, and a husband, and a father, he’s also a journalist, a publisher, and a representation, I think, pretty large In the 21st century of a classic muckraker who speaks truth to power and believes in journalism in the public interest and that the public has a right to know the crimes its government commits and covers up and Assange, of course, if he’s guilty of something, it’s surely guilty of embarrassing the US government by exposing their wanton war crimes. While no one in the U. S. government has been held accountable for collateral murder. No one in the US government has been held accountable for the heinous crimes exposed by Vault 7. The person leaking Vault 7 has been punished. Chelsea Manning was punished.

And so I want to revisit the topic, Kevin, of why this isn’t only about Julian Assange and what really is at stake in this case, Kevin Gozstola.

Kevin Gozstola: I think that what’s at stake is whether the US government can target individuals In a way that deprives them of their right to freedom of expression. And I’ll, I’ll use that broadly because that’s the way that it is understood globally and freedom of expression includes speech.

It includes engaging in journalism. And there are other activities that I believe would be connected to protest and dissent. And that’s how international legal bodies or human rights groups approach these issues when they’re looking at over 175 countries throughout the globe. And what I mean by this point is that the Justice Department is openly engaging in this action where they look at defendants who have engaged in journalism and in order to excuse their decision to go forward with prosecuting those people, they just outright determine that that person is not a journalist. So, we can’t sit back and say that it doesn’t matter if a person is a journalist or not, they perform the acts of journalism and that’s protected by the 1st amendment.

The very reason why the Justice Department is getting away with prosecuting Julian Assange is because they have chosen to label him as not a journalist, but someone more of like a hacker, or an anarchist, or however they would view him internally. And they’re doing this not just in Assange’s case, they’re doing this to a journalist named Timothy Burke in Florida, who, who was indicted, less than two months ago, because he was scouring the internet.

We don’t have time to get into his case on your broadcast, but I very quickly want to give a thumbnail summary. He was scouring the internet, according to them. Which is what all journalists do. I basically sit around here scouring the internet every day to find articles. That’s how bloggers have worked.

They look all over the internet for something that’s like a scoop that could get them traffic to their website or their YouTube channel.

Mickey Huff: Scouring is kind of a scare term for researching.

Kevin Gozstola: Yes. And so, and so he was, given access to some unencrypted feeds that included a Fox News stream. And he ended up being able to find the unedited version of Tucker Carlson’s interview with Kanye West.

And he was able to tell how they had edited that interview to make sure Kanye West didn’t look as mentally ill as we know he is, and as anti semitic as he has been when he speaks. openly, and he exposed to the world the way that Fox News had edited the interview to not only make Kanye look better, but I think Tucker Carlson look better.

And then in response, Fox News and their lawyers got the Justice Department to send in the FBI, raid this man’s home newsroom, they confiscated his computer equipment, and he’s now facing a trial by the Economic Crimes Division of the Justice Department. And they say that he’s got a, and they say he is not a journalist because he has not published under a byline in the last two years.

So we need to recognize that whether it’s the National Security Division or an Economic Crimes Division or some other part of the Justice Department, our government is doing this thing now and so are local governments. We saw in Kansas the Marion County Record, their 97, 98 year old editor had her home raided and it so traumatized her that she died the next day, even though she had been a perfectly healthy individual and probably could have lived to 100 and

Mickey Huff: and had done nothing illegal.

Kevin Gozstola: Yeah, had done nothing illegal. So we’re seeing local governments. And the Justice Department. So all the way down to the city level, we’re seeing prosecutors decide that if they want to violate your rights, they will just send in the police or the FBI agents and they will start a case or they will start to pick apart your newsroom in your very life.

And that’s why people need to stand up for Julian

Assange.

Mickey Huff: Kevin Gozstola, I was just going to punctuate that with you and this is exactly why. People who are concerned about freedom of the press need to care about the case against Julian Assange, they need to understand as the title of your book points out that he is being presumed guilty of journalism.

And you just sketched it from top to bottom. So this, there are plenty of people, you know, maybe on the sidelines in other government agencies and in local municipalities that might be attuned to this case, because it looks like if it happens to Assange, it’s going to green light that kind of behavior all the way across the spectrum.

Right? I understand that some might say that’s a slippery slope and we don’t owe that. We don’t know that. I beg to differ. There are ample examples of how this has already been happening. You just mentioned a couple of the most egregious recent examples of it. And I think that this is something that people should seriously consider if you’re out there and you’re still wondering why we’re talking about the Julian Assange case.

This is why we care about freedom of the press. We care about the 1st amendment. We care about the right of the public to vote, to know. Now, Kevin Gozstola, we only have a couple minutes left, and I wanted to segue briefly, into some of the work, and we talked off air earlier, you had mentioned the work that you do with Ron Yacolic.

We’re seeing again, you know, great press failures in what’s happening in the onslaught of, by Israel in Gaza, and the killing of 30,000 people, over 130 journalists killed. I mean, it’s unconscionable and it’s extraordinary. It’s it’s it’s finally recently the case that over half the US public has grown to oppose Israeli actions in Gaza, and their, their murderous rampage in Gaza. Could you connect this for for our listeners, in terms of the Assange case, in terms of the kinds of atrocities that are being committed and why it’s so essential that journalists are protected and also, that people understand that we need solidarity in order to work together to speak up to stop the brutality that’s being met upon the Palestinian public.

Kevin Gozstola: Yeah, definitely. I think for those in tune with press freedom, obviously the thing that we hear most from the Biden White House now is that we need to free Evan Gershkovich from a prison that Vladimir Putin has put him into. But I think just as essential is to look at the more than 100 journalists in Gaza that have been killed.

Also, they’re banning Al Jazeera in Israel. You know, they’re, they’re going to take all these news networks off of having the access to this information. And Al Jazeera is one of the only news media organizations that have been on the ground in Gaza reporting on what’s happening. But you connect these two, you, you look at what’s happening with Assange and you look at Gaza (unintelligible).

Often people are baffled at the way that Julian Assange is being treated. And I think for those people who have seen what’s happening with Israel’s assault on Gaza and the way the United States government has been willing to just allow it to unfold, Joe Biden isn’t doing anything to stop it. You go, Oh, well, the slow death of a journalist is possible if you’re okay with green lighting this violence that has been happening this assault that has been relentless for the last six months, and I just want to close here on your show by shouting out a few of the people who have supported my work and given me a platform and have also had me on as a kind of reporter to share this news, not just Project Censored. You’ve had these regular updates, but I need to give credit to Scott Horton and his anti war radio show, because every time there’s a development, I’m invited on his program. I’ve been invited on a colleague of mine show, Jordan Chariton has a show called Status Coup. He’s known for his work on the Flint water crisis and the criminality around it, but he regularly invites me on.

And then Breakthrough News. Hosted by Rania Khalek and Eugene Puryear. I’m regularly invited to act as a reporter and update people on Assange. And those places, those platforms, those outlets, those channels, they’re far and few, but I think your listeners might be interested in supporting them or paying attention to them if they’re looking for good news, not junk news.

Mickey Huff: Absolutely, Kevin Gozstola. And of course, it’s my strong belief that you should have been on Amy Goodman’s show, Democracy Now, umpteen times by now, given your expertise and coverage of this, but, you’ve seemingly had no such luck there. I would also like to say to anybody else out there listening, Kevin is an extraordinary reporter and author.

He is an expert on this case and I strongly encourage your presence on as many platforms and as many outlets. As would give you the opportunity to speak about these important issues. Kevin Gozstola, thank you so much for once again taking time out to update us on the Julian Assange case. Kevin Gozstola is author of Guilty of Journalism, the Political Case Against Julian Assange.

Book is a little bit over a year old now. It received great praise from Daniel Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky with a foreword by Abby Martin. To follow Kevin’s work, you can go to thedissenter.org. Kevin Gozstola, thank you so much for joining us again on the Project Censored show today.

 

Below is a Rough Transcript of the Interview with Hilary Beaumont

Eleanor Goldfield: Thanks everyone for joining us at the Project Censored Radio Show. We’re very glad right now to be joined by Hilary Beaumont, who’s an independent investigative journalist who covers the climate crisis, indigenous rights, and immigration.

Hilary, thanks so much for joining us.

Hilary Beaumont: Thank you for having me.

Eleanor Goldfield: So I want to start with a report that you filed in February of this year with High Country News about solar geoengineering, i. e. balloons launched into the sky to release sulfur dioxide, as you write, a gas that has a cooling effect when erupting volcanoes release it.

Now, at first blush, listeners might notice several red flags here, but the one that you start off by focusing on, which I think is really interesting and important is tribal consent, something that this country and the corporations which own them, has a rather worthless track record on.

So I’m curious, starting off with this, with launching balloons like this, is there any kind of regulation regarding informed consent of not just tribes, but also non tribes?

Hilary Beaumont: Yeah, it’s a really good question. When I started looking into this and noticed that this company, venture backed, company, you know, backed by venture capital from Silicon Valley was like launching balloons, I noticed that they were going over, of course, tribal territory, and I just got curious about whether they had contacted tribes, both in Baja, Mexico, and also in Northern California and Nevada.

And so I started contacting tribes to ask them whether they had been contacted by this group, and it turned out they had not. So just as you asked, I got curious about whether there’s any requirement of, you know, this company to contact tribes. And it turns out that, I guess, with such small amounts of sulfur dioxide being released at this point, there’s not necessarily a requirement.

But it kind of depends on a few things. It depends how much sulfur dioxide you’re releasing. And also, it depends, kind of, high, how high up off the ground you are releasing it. So it gets very interesting in terms of consent if you’re, you know, releasing it above commercial aviation, for example, then, you know, there appears to be no requirement, but the closer you get to the ground or if particles start falling to the ground, then there may be a requirement and there are a few precedents about, you know, drones landing on, tribal territory, for example, that, would require somebody to, ask for consent first.

And also, if you are starting to release larger amounts of sulfur dioxide or other chemicals, then there would be a requirement to contact and consult with tribes first.

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah. And I, I also find it interesting in the article, you note, that there isn’t actually legit science to back up the idea that releasing sulfur dioxide balloons would actually have positive effects in mitigating climate change. And then it could come with a lot of nasty side effects. In fact, could you talk a little bit about that side of it?

Hilary Beaumont: For sure. Yeah. One of the things that we have to acknowledge about solar geoengineering is that there have been very few, if any real world experiments and this company is embarking on a real world what it calls an experiment. But what scientists would say is not an experiment. They’re not taking, you know, proper measurements, they’re not, you know, sharing that data in a way that it can be peer reviewed. So, yeah, we don’t know much beyond what has been modeled. And there has not been a huge amount of modeling done on what solar geoengineering would do to the world, which is one reason that a lot of people are so hesitant to just start these experiments, or start using this technology without, you know, any guardrails on it.

Right. So, We know that what could potentially happen if it’s used at large scale, a lot of that is based on evidence from volcanic eruptions, because volcanic eruptions release sulfur dioxide, and that’s what the cooling material is, it basically reflects sunlight, and we know that. volcanoes reflect sunlight and cool the earth.

So we know that what can happen is that if, you know, sulfur dioxide is released in one area, it can, potentially prevent a heat wave. However, it can also cause a drought in another area at the same time. Yeah, it’s really terrifying stuff. And then also it can interfere with the global water cycle.

So you, you might interfere with, you know, how rains are happening in some areas of the planet. So there are a lot of really scary effects. Also potentially it can interfere with ozone. Of course, we’ve been like trying to rebuild the ozone layer that we all heard about in the 90s or growing up when we’re concerned about, you know, the ozone hole over Antarctica.

Which there’s been, quite a lot of progress to close that, that ozone hole, but that could interfere with ozone again and, create, holes in the atmosphere. So there’s quite a lot of like quite scary things that this technology could do if it’s deployed at large scale. And I think one of the, the biggest things that freaked me out was that, you don’t know who’s going to deploy it at what time.

And there’s kind of, it would require quite a lot of, I guess, global diplomacy to decide like who’s going to deploy it when. So if you have like a heat wave coming up and you wanted to make sure that a certain population is not going to, you know, endure that heat wave, you might want to use this technology, but then what, if that’s going to affect another country and cause a drought or torrential rains at that time.

So, knowing the way that global diplomacy is working or not working right now, can we really, trust that those tools would be, you know, capable of being used at that time within a way that doesn’t cause harm? I’m not really sure.

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah, absolutely. And I, I mean, I got this sense when I was reading that article that these concerns are not shared by the company that’s deploying these balloons.

And I got a little bit of this like, kind of like tech bro feel from it, you know, like we’re at the, it’s kind of a very American feel like we’re at the frontier of this technology and that’s just cool. How, how did they respond or did they respond to these kind of these legitimate concerns about not just the science of it, but the real world effects that could take place if and when they deploy this on a larger scale?

Hilary Beaumont: Yeah, I mean, I was, I was grateful to be able to, interview one of the founders and like have an extended interview with Make Sunset’s co founder, Luke Iseman. And I brought up a lot of the concerns with him. So I guess, like, there were some things I brought up where I was concerned about the issues of tribal consent, of course, and he kind of mentioned that he hadn’t really thought too much about it, but that hopefully, you know, they would contact tribes in the future.

I’m not sure if that is actually panned out. He, he was insistent that he hadn’t broken any sort of regulations, or hadn’t interfered with tribal authority, and kind of mentioned that, like, did they also have concerns about planes flying over tribal territory? And yeah, yeah, and I guess, like, I was asking him also, like, because I, I do think that, you know, we shouldn’t necessarily like discount that this technology may have potential if there’s like, you know, if, if we reach a stage where global heating is so extreme that we do need to use it to save lives. So I was asking him about that. Like, what, what are the reasons that he really decided that this was important?

And he did bring that up that like the, you know, the world is, is racing past the 1. 5 degrees Celsius target that was set, which is really terrifying. We have to be really honest about that. And already millions of people are dying due to the climate crisis. And so he was pointing toward that reality and the, you know, the reality that is already here, where in some parts of the world, if you don’t have air conditioning, you will be exposed to deadly heat.

And I do, you know, I do obviously feel very sympathetic to that argument that, like, we do need technologies that can do something about that very real feature. However, obviously the concern is with who gets to use these technologies. Do tribes get to use these technologies if they want to? You know, who gets to decide when it’s used and where it’s used?

And I don’t think that he had engaged too much with that question at the time that I asked him about this. So I do, I do understand some of their arguments about, you know, wanting to, in some way, use a technology that could have some benefits, but at the same time, I felt that, perhaps there had been, like, very little,thought put into, I guess, what the harms could be, whether, whether regulations would kick in at some point and prevent them from doing this anyway, and whether they wanted to engage with anyone on if this is a good idea.

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it feels, it feels a bit, and I want to get into the conversation of green colonialism in, in a minute, but it feels a bit like. Well, it’s too late to not, I mean, a climate scientist that I spoke to years ago said it’s too late to just subtract like as in just cut fossil fuels like we now have to add solutions like geoengineering.

And so I’m curious with your, with your reporting experience, do you feel that that’s the case? Like, are we, do we have to legitimately look at things like solar geoengineering and be like, look, we’ve already blown past the, the, the days where we could have just like stopped, drilling for oil. And now we have to look at these, look at these additions.

Would you say that that’s, do you feel that that’s accurate based on your reporting experience?

Hilary Beaumont: Yeah, that question is something I am constantly revisiting, honestly. To try to determine kind of like where we are in this transition that needs to happen. And obviously like we’re in the country the United States that it was. Is one of the largest contributors to global heating one of the you know, the largest extractor of oil in the world And like this is where the climate crisis has originated.

So I also think it’s where we need to be looking at how the transition is going. So, I mean, we know that first of all, Biden has approved more oil leases than Trump. Even, we know that, you know, oil extraction is continuing. We know about, you know, natural gas exports as well. Like we have to be really honest about where the climate crisis is originating and, you know, how much extraction is still ongoing? That said, we also need to look at the technologies that are being deployed right now. And there are actually, like very, hopeful things happening in terms of the, the clean energy transition in the US when it comes to solar and wind deployment, offshore wind, these, these are, going at a very fast pace actually, and the Inflation Reduction Act is helping push that forward by investing in a lot of these clean energies and and specifically making them, on par in terms of the cost with fossil fuels with coal and natural gas, which sorry, natural gas by that I mean, fossil gas natural gas is like a, you know, an industry term. We know all about that. But yeah, basically, the transition is happening quite fast.

Like EVs are starting to go from the fringe, to the mainstream, like a lot of the technologies that we need to be deployed are being deployed, but at the same time, extraction of fossil fuels is continuing. And so that really does concern me about the transition and obviously we are going to go past 1. 5 degrees Celsius by 2027 this year.

There are some parts of the world that have already gone past 1. 5 because of El Nino. So, yeah, it’s, we’re at a really scary time, but I do sometimes try to look at the hopeful things that are happening.

Eleanor Goldfield: Well, and I want to get into that because not, not that I want to rain on anyone’s parade, but it’s kind of also what I do.

The green, the green colonialism aspect of this, right? Like, so, we, we’ve talked about that on the show before. I’m from Sweden and Sweden has, found lithium in the north, which is the, indigenous land called Sápmi. It’s the home of the Sámi people, the indigenous of the far north, which constitutes part of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia, historically.

And, but hey, I’m sorry that we have to ruin your way of life because lithium. Also, they’ve been deforesting, and this is like in the Arctic circle where it’s, I mean, all ecosystems are fragile, but like, if we’re talking about the most fragile, it’s definitely up there. They’re engaging in a lot of deforestation, to create things like wind farms.

So, but you have to just accept it, shut up and accept it because it’s green energy and it’s important. So I want to get to that part of it too, because when it comes to tribal consent, or when it comes to just like the perpetuation of colonialism, it seems like this transition that should be good, that should be positive, is also tarnished and, soaked in the history, the very violent history of colonialism.

Could you talk a little bit about that part of it where it’s like, yeah, we should be transitioning, but like, at what cost? And how does this just merely replace fossil fuel colonialism with green energy colonialism?

Hilary Beaumont: Yeah, I love that you, brought up lithium mining. I didn’t know about that project, and that’s very interesting to hear about.

The, there was also a lithium mine in Nevada that, violated tribal consent. There are tribes there who are really concerned about, how this lithium mine, an open pit lithium mine, is going to interfere with, burial sites at a site of a massacre. This is something that’s so important in the Western Us. where, I mean, obviously, right across North America, there’s been genocide, in various ways through boarding schools, through massacres, you name it, you know, but in the West, especially, there have been many, many massacres during the gold rush era, and lithium mining, and other kinds of, you know, “clean energy” mining are really renewing that gold rush era.

This kind of like rush for land, rush for minerals, continuation of extraction. So it is, kind of igniting those same kind of conversations. At the same time though, I think that like a lot of tribes have embraced renewables for themselves and for their own territories, which is like, a wonderful thing.

And I think also we need to kind of remember that it’s not tribes who are the, the main people who are opposing renewables. So, some of the kind of most organized opposition against renewables are these, like, lobbying groups of non indigenous communities. Some of them who are funded or backed by fossil fuel interests, trying to kind of slow their renewable transition in places like the Midwest, and so I, I only say that to say that we need to take tribal concerns even more seriously, knowing that they’re not the ones who are trying to really stop the renewable transition. So, when tribes do bring up concerns about, you know, companies entering their territories, or, you know, former massacre sites.

They’re, they’re not just bringing up these concerns for the sake of complaining they’re, they’re literally saying, like, this has been happening for so many generations. We need to actually step back and listen to those concerns.

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah, and with that, I, I, I really appreciate that your reporting, highlights that intersection of climate crisis and indigenous rights. And I’m reminded of, of a quote by, Cherri Foytlin, an afro Din’e water protector and the founder of L’eau Est La Vie Pipeline Resistance Camp in Louisiana. And she said to me during an interview once, “Indigenous leadership is the single most important thing in this movement, and I’m not saying that as a beautiful or heroic idea.

I’m saying that our blood has been here the longest, we’ve been fighting the hardest, and we know it the best. We know how to survive.” And so I’m curious, with the, with that intersection of indigenous rights and climate crisis, how do you feel in your reporting experience that, that, how do you feel that that is important, to, to uplift that, in terms of also, like, solutions based reporting?

And, you know, why, why do you feel that that’s so lacking in, in corporate media?

Hilary Beaumont: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s lacking corporate media, probably because, there’s so little education around it in the US education system, the Canadian education system, probably to start with, there are probably many other reasons for that, but yeah, like, indigenous solutions have been here this whole time, indigenous communities have been advocating for, you know, a more relations based approach where you, you know, from their perspective, you’re relating, as, as if you’re, you know, to, maybe I can rephrase this, I’m like, from an indigenous perspective, they take, like, in all my relations perspective of how they are directly related to the water and the earth and all of the, you know, animals and plants and these things need to be, respected in the same way that we’re respected.

And that solutions based approach is actually vital to solving the climate crisis. And it, it can’t be just like tossed aside. For example, one of the tribes that I interviewed about the solar geoengineering, you know, this, this company Make Sunsets flew a balloon over a tribe in, Northern California.

When I contacted them, they, they mentioned that they have been working on this amazing project to try to bring their forests back into balance. They they were just part of the land back movement. They got a piece of land back, which is amazing for a tribe that, had lost its land previously, and they are now using that, that piece of land.

They’re using cultural burns to bring the forest back into balance. But an interesting point that they made was that, they had to go through all of these regulations and prove themselves to the government while Make Sunsets just went ahead and blew their balloon over their territory. So it’s, it’s this like thing that we know that has been happening for so long.

And, yeah, but the indigenous solutions have been there. Cultural burns happened before they were outlawed, by the American government. And not only outlawed, but, you know, Indigenous people could be shot if they tried to do this. And residential schools obviously did their best to try to, get rid of any indigenous teachings.

And so, many communities are relearning a lot of these practices, but they have always been there. And, I think it’s, you know, best for the entire planet. If we try to look toward indigenous solutions in the transition that needs to happen because they know how to live in balance with the earth.

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah, absolutely. So kind of wrapping up here, I, this is a bit of a, of a, of a tangent, but I just noticed it on your, on your Twitter feed, which is, and of course, this is something that’s important to Project Censored because we talk a lot about media and a free press or the idea of one since we don’t have one.

And I noticed that you had been commenting on it. The a lot of layoffs in media. And you also mentioned like that that is related to the climate crisis. And I was wondering if you could touch on that a bit.

Hilary Beaumont: Yeah, I mean, I think that the, you know, the decimation of media over time I mean, you know, like there have been so many layoffs like over the years, but this this year was particularly intense, I think, and I saw some of my former colleagues at Vice be laid off in a very, I don’t know, I, I felt like they weren’t treated very well in the layoff process and I just really felt for them.

Having worked there previously, too, and, you know, it’s, it’s not limited to Vice. It’s like, right across the media ecosystem in the US and Canada and many other places. And the reason I related that to the climate crisis is because the, you know, this like slow erosion of media that is happening, and a kind of like movement of media toward corporate interests, and advertising, especially, you know, fossil fuel money.

I’m seeing ads in many of the mainstream, media outlets for fossil fuels, hearing them on podcasts I listen to it’s, really disappointing, but, the outlets that don’t take fossil fuel money, you know, there are many wonderful ones like the Guardian, for example. But like, the problem is that when you see this erosion of media, there are fewer journalists who are available to, I guess, like, create more government accountability, call out corporate interests, and push back against these, you know, this fossil fuel extraction that is ongoing, and kind of like point the public toward what the real problem is, unfortunately, what you’re seeing a lot in the mainstream press now is like, basically this,

this idea that fossil fuels are part of the solution or part of the transition is working its way into corporate media quite often. It’s very, very disappointing to see that. And. I feel like, yeah, unfortunately, like, thinking about, also thinking about, like, COP 24 and how many fossil fuel interests were part of the climate negotiations.

I just feel that there are so few media outlets who are willing to and available to question these fossil fuel interests. And so it, it makes me honestly feel very sad when I’m going out to, like, report another climate story and knowing that, like, if we had a more, you know, vibrant press. With, you know, no fossil fuel advertising, then potentially this transition would be happening a lot faster.

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah, absolutely. And that’s of course why a truly independent press is, is necessary. You can’t have a free press unless it’s an adversarial press. So Hillary, thank you so much for taking the time to sit down with us. What’s the best way for people to, to follow your work?

Hilary Beaumont: Yeah. I’m @hillarybeaumont on both Instagram and Twitter. Trying to use Instagram a little more. Yeah, but I, I can be found on both those platforms.

Eleanor Goldfield: Awesome. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Hilary Beaumont: Thank you.