US Defense Re-Authorization Act Defends Water! “Hummingbird Salamander” by Jeff Vandemeer, COP15 on Biodiversity!

by | Dec 16, 2022 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

US Defense Re-Authorization Act Defends Water! “Hummingbird Salamander” by Jeff Vandemeer, COP15 On Biodiversity!


Last week, the United States House of Representatives sent the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act to the U.S. Senate floor for consideration this week. The legislation, which passed the House 350-80, carries a number of energy and environment riders, including authorizing billions of dollars for water infrastructure projects and environmental cleanups. The House passed the $858 billion defense bill by a vote of 350-80. It includes major projects to improve the nation’s waterways and protect communities against floods made more severe by climate change. Why does the National Defense Authorization Act matter to us?

Because the vote advances the Water Resources Development Act of 2022. That lays out a sprawling set of policies for the Army Corps and authorizes projects that touch on navigation, improving the environment and protecting against storms. It typically passes every two years. It received strong, bipartisan support and now advances to the Senate. The Texas coastal protection project far outstrips any of the 24 other projects greenlit by the bill. There is a $6.3 billion plan to deepen vital shipping channels near New York City and a $1.2 billion effort to raise homes and businesses on the central Louisiana coast. It also would appropriate about $300 million for water projects in Washington State.

“No matter what side of politics you are on, everyone is interested in having good water resources,” said Sandra Knight, president of WaterWonks LLC. “This bill represents compromise after months of hard work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers of Congress. Whatever our disagreements may be, there’s a lot to be proud of in this bill,” said House Armed Services Committee Chair Adam Smith (D-Wash.).




Okay. Let me first say this is not solar punk, but it is a thrill ride read. It’s called, Hummingbird Salamander. Hummingbird Salamander is author Jeff VanderMeer, wrapping profound questions about climate change, identity, and the world we live in into a tightly plotted thriller full of unexpected twists and elaborate conspiracy. Here’s the plot line: Security consultant “Jane Smith” receives an envelope with a key to a storage unit that holds a taxidermied hummingbird and clues leading her to a taxidermied salamander. Silvina, the dead woman who left the note, is a reputed ecoterrorist and the daughter of an Argentine industrialist. By taking the hummingbird from the storage unit, Jane sets in motion a series of events that quickly spin beyond her control. 

Soon, Jane and her family are in danger, with few allies to help her make sense of the true scope of the peril. Is the only way to safety to follow in Silvina’s footsteps? Is it too late to stop? As she desperately seeks answers about why Silvina contacted her, time is running out―for her and possibly for the world. According to Helen Phillips, The New York Times, Hummingbird Salamander is ” climate fiction at its most urgent and gripping.”  The Washington Post wrote, “You won’t look up even once while you’re reading.”

DEEPER DIVE: The Novel, The Author



We love the United Nations, but sometimes the jargon that organization uses can be a bit confusing. For example, COP27 just occurred in Egypt, and yet COP15 is now taking place in Montreal!. How did that happen? Well because these are two different cops. Here’s the deal. COP27 stands for the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. COP15 stands for the 15th meeting of Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. This is actually part two of COP15. It had originally been planned to be held in Kunming, China in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic nixed that. A decision was made to split up the COP and part one took place in Kunming last year. 

Part two of COP15 is taking place with a sense of real urgency. According to Inger Andersen – UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, “Nature and biodiversity is dying the death of a billion cuts. And humanity is paying the price for betraying its closest friend. In the words of the UN Secretary-General, “we are committing suicide by proxy”. This Conference of the Parties must secure the future of our planetary life support system.” Here’s why COP15 Biodiversity should matter to us. Its goals are:  

  • Adoption of an equitable and comprehensive framework matched by the resources needed for implementation
  • Clear targets to address overexploitation, pollution, fragmentation and unsustainable agricultural practices
  • A plan that safeguards the rights of indigenous peoples and recognizes their contributions as stewards of nature
  • Finance for biodiversity and alignment of financial flows with nature to drive finances toward sustainable investments and away from environmentally harmful ones

COP15 Biodiversity continues through December 19th, so we hope to bring you some positive action, climate change news from it next week. 

DEEPER DIVE: UN COP15, UNAC, EuroNews, YouTube