Environment

UK Govt. Ignore Pesticides as Cause of Increased Disease

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 17/09/2019 - 12:27am in

Colin Todhunter The information below and the quotes were taken from the 12-page report that accompanied Rosemary Mason’s recent open letter to the Chief Medical Officer to England, Sally Davies. It can be accessed here. Campaigner and environmentalist Dr Rosemary Mason has written an open letter to the Chief Medical Officer of England, Sally Davies. …

Only a Green New Deal Can Douse the Fires of Eco-Fascism

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 16/09/2019 - 8:00pm in

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Environment

Organizers are expecting huge numbers to turn out for the Global Climate Strike, beginning on September 20 and continuing through September 27. It builds on the first global climate strike, which took place on March 15, and attracted an estimated 1.6 million young people, who walked out of class at schools on every continent.

But this week’s strike will be different. This time, young organizers have called on adults from all walks of life to join them in the streets. So in addition to schools in over 150 countries, almost 1,000 workers at Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle have pledged to walk out, as have some faculty unions, Britain’s Trades Union Congress, and many others. There is a plan to shut down Washington, D.C. on September 23.

This diversity of the groups involved may well prove to be a new stage in the climate movement, with many more movements and constituencies seeing themselves in the struggle against climate breakdown — as well as in the emerging vision for an intersectional justice-based Green New Deal.

And it’s a good thing too, because as Donald Trump spews racist hate at Bahamian refugees fleeing the wreckage of Hurricane Dorian and growing numbers of far-right killers cite environmental damage as a justification for their rampages, there is a pressing need to confront the ways in which the fires of climate breakdown are already intersecting with the fires of white supremacy and surging xenophobia globally.

These are themes I explore in-depth in my new book, “On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal,” from which this essay is excerpted.

An Eco-Fascist Massacre

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Image: Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

In Christchurch, New Zealand, the March 15 School Strike for Climate started in much the same way as in so many other cities and towns: Rowdy students poured out of their schools in the middle of the day, holding up signs demanding a new era of climate action. Some were sweet and earnest (I STAND 4 WHAT I STAND ON), some less so (KEEP EARTH CLEAN. IT’S NOT URANUS!).

By 1 p.m., about 2,000 kids had made their way into Cathedral Square, at the city center, where they gathered around a makeshift stage and donated sound system to listen to speeches and music.

There were students of all ages there, and an entire Maori school had walked out together. “I was so proud of the whole of Christchurch,” one of the organizers, 17-year-old Mia Sutherland, told me. “All of these people had been so brave. It isn’t easy to walk out.”

Just as Sutherland was psyching herself up to deliver the final testimony of the day, one of her friends gave her a tug and told her, “You have to shut it down. Now!” Sutherland was confused — had they been too loud? Surely that was their right! Just then, a police officer walked onto the stage and took the mic away from her. Everyone needs to leave the square, the officer said over the sound system. Go home. Go back to school. But stay away from Hagley Park.

A couple hundred students decided to march together to City Hall to keep the protest going. Sutherland, still confused, went to catch a bus — and that’s when she saw a headline on her phone about a shooting 10 minutes away from where she was standing.

It would be several hours before the young strikers grasped the full horror of what had transpired that day — and why they had been told to stay away from a park near the Al Noor Mosque. We now know that at the very same time as the students’ climate strike, a 28-year-old Australian man living in New Zealand drove to that mosque, walked inside, and, during Friday prayers, opened fire. After six minutes of carnage, he calmly left Al Noor, drove to another mosque, and continued his rampage. By the end, 50 people were dead, including a 3-year-old child. Another would die in the hospital weeks later. An additional 49 were seriously injured. It was the largest massacre in modern New Zealand history.

The killer was not driven by environmental concern — his motivation was unadulterated racist hate — but ecological breakdown was one of the forces that seemed to be stoking that hatred.

In his manifesto (posted to multiple social media sites) and in inscriptions on his weapon, the killer expressed admiration for the men responsible for other, similar massacres: in downtown Oslo and at a Norwegian summer camp in 2011 (77 people killed); at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015 (nine people murdered); at a Quebec City mosque in 2017 (six people dead); and at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue in 2018 (11 people murdered). Like all these other terrorists, the Christchurch shooter was obsessed with the concept of “white genocide,” a supposed threat posed by the growing presence of nonwhite populations in majority-white nations, which he blamed on immigrant “invaders.”

The horror in Christchurch was part of this clear and escalating pattern of far-right hate crimes, but it was also distinct in a couple of ways. One was the extent to which the killer planned and executed his massacre as a made-for-the-internet spectacle. Before beginning his rampage, he announced on the message board 8chan that “it’s time to stop shitposting and time to make a real life effort post,” as if a mass killing were merely a particularly shocking meme waiting to be shared.

The hypermediated nature of the Christchurch massacre, with the killer’s obvious bid to game-ify his “real life effort post,” made for an unbearable contrast with the searing reality of his horrific crime — of bullets tearing through flesh, of families stricken by grief, and of a global Muslim community sent a terrorizing message that its members were safe nowhere, not even in the sanctity of prayer.

It also made for a wrenching contrast with the youth climate strikers who had gathered at the exact same time for such a different purpose. Where the killer gleefully toyed with the lines between fact, fiction, and conspiracy, as if the very idea of truth were #FakeNews, the strikers painstakingly insisted that hard realities like accumulated greenhouse gases and carbon footprints and spiraling extinctions really did matter, and demanded that politicians close the yawning gap between their words and their actions.

When I spoke to her six weeks after that terrible day, Mia Sutherland was still having trouble prying the strike and the massacre apart; they had somehow fused together in her memory. “In no one’s mind are they separate,” she told me, her voice just above a whisper.

When intense events happen in close proximity to one another, the human mind often tries to draw connections that are not there, a phenomenon known as apophenia. But in this case, there were connections. In fact, the strike and the massacre can be understood as mirror opposite reactions to some of the same historical forces. And this relates to the other way that the Christchurch killer is distinct from the white supremacist mass murderers from whom he openly drew inspiration. Unlike them, he identifies explicitly as an “ethno-nationalist eco-fascist.” In his rambling manifesto, he framed his actions as a twisted kind of environmentalism, railing against population growth and asserting that “Continued immigration into Europe is environmental warfare.”

To be clear, the killer was not driven by environmental concern — his motivation was unadulterated racist hate — but ecological breakdown was one of the forces that seemed to be stoking that hatred, much as we are seeing it act as an accelerant for hatred and violence in armed conflicts around the world. My fear is that, unless something significant changes in how our societies rise to the ecological crisis, we are going to see this kind of white power eco-fascism emerge with much greater frequency, as a ferocious rationalization for refusing to live up to our collective climate responsibilities.

Much of this is due to the hard calculus of global warming. This is a crisis overwhelmingly created by the wealthiest strata of society: Almost 50 percent of global emissions are produced by the richest 10 percent of the world’s population; the wealthiest 20 percent are responsible for 70 percent. But the impacts of those emissions are hurting the poorest first and worst, forcing growing numbers of people to move, with many more on the way. A 2018 World Bank study estimates that by 2050, more than 140 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America will be displaced because of climate stresses, an estimate many consider conservative. Most will stay in their own countries, crowding into already overstressed cities and slums; many will try for a better life elsewhere.

In any moral universe, guided by basic human rights principles, these victims of a crisis of other people’s making would be owed justice. That justice would and should take many forms. First and foremost, justice requires that the wealthiest 10-20 percent stop the underlying cause of this deepening crisis by lowering emissions as rapidly as technology allows (the premise of the Green New Deal). Justice also demands that we heed the call for a “Marshall Plan for the Earth” that Bolivia’s climate negotiator called for a decade ago: to roll out resources in the global south so communities can fortify themselves against extreme weather, pull themselves out of poverty with clean tech, and protect their ways of life wherever possible.

When protection is not possible — when the land is simply too parched to grow crops and when the seas are rising too fast to hold them back — then justice demands that we clearly recognize that all people have the human right to move and seek safety. That means they are owed asylum and status on arrival. In truth, amid so much loss and suffering, they are owed much more than that: They are owed kindness, compensation, and a heartfelt apology.

In other words, climate disruption demands a reckoning on the terrain most repellent to conservative minds: wealth redistribution, resource sharing, and reparations. And a growing number of people on the hard right realize this all too well, which is why they are developing various twisted rationales for why none of this can take place.

The first phase is to scream “socialist conspiracy” and flat out deny reality. We’ve been in that phase for quite some time now. That was the tack taken by Anders Breivik, the sociopath who opened fire at the Norwegian summer camp in 2011. Breivik was convinced that in addition to immigration, one of the ways that white Western culture was being weakened was through calls for Europe and the Anglosphere to pay its “climate debt.” In a section of his manifesto titled “Green Is the New Red — Stop EnviroCommunism!,” in which he cites several prominent climate change deniers, he casts demands for climate financing as an attempt to “‘punish’ European countries (US included) for capitalism and success.” Climate action, he asserts, “is the new Redistribution of Wealth.”

But if straight-up denial seemed a viable strategy then, nine years later (with six of those years among the 10 hottest ever recorded) it is less so today. That does not mean, however, that onetime deniers are suddenly going to embrace a response to the climate crisis based on agreed-upon international frameworks. It is far more likely that many who currently claim to deny climate change will simply switch abruptly to the sinister worldview espoused by the Christchurch killer, a recognition that we are indeed facing a convulsive future and that is all the more reason for wealthy, majority-white countries to fortress their borders, as well as their identities as white Christians, and wage war on any and all “invaders.”

The goal of this fortification around Europe and the Anglosphere is all too clear: Convince people to stay where they are, no matter how miserable it is, no matter how deadly. 

The climate science will no longer be denied; what will be denied is the idea that the nations that are the largest historical emitters of carbon owe anything to the black and brown people impacted by that pollution. This will be denied based on the only rationale possible: that those non-white and non-Christian people are lesser than, are the other, are dangerous invaders.

In much of Europe and the Anglosphere, this hardening is already well under way. The European Union, Australia, and the United States have all embraced immigration policies that are variations on “prevention through deterrence.” The brutal logic is to treat migrants with so much callousness and cruelty that desperate people will be deterred from seeking safety by crossing borders.

With this in mind, migrants are left to drown in the Mediterranean, or to die of dehydration in the rugged Arizona desert. And if they survive, they are put in conditions tantamount to torture: in the Libyan camps where European countries now send the migrants who try to reach their shores; in Australia’s offshore island detention camps; in a cavernous Walmart turned child jail in Texas. In Italy, if migrants do make it to a port, they are now regularly prevented from disembarking, held captive in rescue boats under conditions a court has ruled to be tantamount to kidnapping.

Canada’s prime minister, meanwhile, tweets pictures of himself welcoming refugees and visiting mosques — even as his government makes massive new investments in militarizing the border and tightening the noose of the Safe Third Country Agreement, which bars asylum-seekers from requesting protection at official Canadian border crossings if they are coming from the supposedly “safe” country of Trump’s United States.

The goal of this fortification around Europe and the Anglosphere is all too clear: Convince people to stay where they are, no matter how miserable it is, no matter how deadly. In this worldview, the emergency is not people’s suffering; it is their inconvenient desire to escape that suffering.

That is why, just hours after the Christchurch massacre, Trump could shrug off the surge of far-right violence and immediately change the subject to the “invasion” of migrants at the United States’s southern border and his recent declaration of a “national emergency,” a move meant to free up billions for a border wall. Three weeks later, Trump tweeted, “Our Country is FULL!” This followed Italy’s interior minister, Matteo Salvini, responding to the arrival of a small group of migrants rescued at sea by tweeting, “Our ports were and remain CLOSED.”

Murtaza Hussain, an investigative reporter who studied the Christchurch killer’s manifesto closely, stresses that it is filled with ideas that are anything but marginal. His words, Hussain writes, are “both lucid and chillingly familiar. His references to immigrants as invaders find echoes in the language used by the president of the United States and far-right leaders across Europe. For those wondering where [he] was radicalized, the answer is right out in the open. It is in our media and politics, where minorities, Muslims or otherwise, are vilified as a matter of course.”

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People carry the coffin of Tomas Joaquim Chimukme during his funeral, after his home collapsed following tropical cyclone Idai that hit Beira, Mozambique, on March 20, 2019.

Photo: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images

Toxic Ideologies

The drivers of mass migration are complex: war, gang violence, sexual violence, deepening poverty. What is clear is that climate disruption is intensifying all these other crises, and it’s only going to get worse as it gets hotter. But rather than helping, the wealthiest countries on the planet seem determined to deepen the crisis on every front.

They are failing to provide meaningful new aid so poorer nations can better protect themselves from weather extremes. When impoverished and debt-ridden Mozambique was pummeled by Cyclone Idai, the International Monetary Fund offered the country $118 million, a loan (not a grant) it would somehow have to pay back; the Jubilee Debt Campaign described the move as “a shocking indictment of the international community.” Worse, in March 2019, Trump announced that he intended to cut $700 million in current aid to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, some of which was earmarked for programs that help farmers cope with drought. In an equally explicit expression of its priorities, in June 2018, at the start of hurricane season, the Department of Homeland Security diverted $10 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is tasked with responding to natural disasters at home, and moved it over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to pay for migrant detention.

Will we share what’s left and try to look after one another? Or are we instead going to attempt to hoard what’s left, look after “our own,” and lock everyone else out?

Let there be no mistake: This is the dawn of climate barbarism. And unless there is a radical change not only in politics but in the underlying values that govern our politics, this is how the wealthy world is going to “adapt” to more climate disruption: by fully unleashing the toxic ideologies that rank the relative value of human lives in order to justify the monstrous discarding of huge swaths of humanity. And what starts as brutality at the border will most certainly infect societies as a whole.

These supremacist ideas are not new; nor have they ever gone away. For those of us in North America, they are deeply embedded in the legal basis for our nations’ very existence (from the Doctrine of Christian Discovery to terra nullius). Their power has ebbed and flowed throughout our histories, depending on what immoral behaviors demanded ideological justification. And just as these toxic ideas surged when they were required to rationalize slavery, land theft, and segregation, they are surging once more now that they are needed to justify climate recalcitrance and the barbarism at our borders.

The rapidly escalating cruelty of our present moment cannot be overstated; nor can the long-term damage to the collective psyche should this go unchallenged. Beneath the theater of some governments denying climate change and others claiming to be doing something about it while they fortress their borders from its effects, there is one overarching question facing us. In the rough and rocky future that has already begun, what kind of people are we going to be? Will we share what’s left and try to look after one another? Or are we instead going to attempt to hoard what’s left, look after “our own,” and lock everyone else out?

In this time of rising seas and rising fascism, these are the stark choices before us. There are options besides full-blown climate barbarism, but given how far down that road we are, there is no point pretending that they are easy. It’s going to take a lot more than a carbon tax or cap-and-trade. It’s going to take an all-out war on pollution and poverty and racism and colonialism and despair all at the same time.

The message coming from the school strikes is that a great many young people are ready for this kind of deep change. They know all too well that the sixth mass extinction is not the only crisis they have inherited. They are also growing up in the rubble of market euphoria, in which the dreams of endlessly rising living standards have given way to rampant austerity and economic insecurity. And techno-utopianism, which imagined a frictionless future of limitless connection and community, has morphed into addiction to the algorithms of envy, relentless corporate surveillance, and spiraling online misogyny and white supremacy.

“Once you have done your homework,” the young Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg says, “you realize that we need new politics. We need a new economics, where everything is based on our rapidly declining and extremely limited carbon budget. But that is not enough. We need a whole new way of thinking. … We must stop competing with each other. We need to start cooperating and sharing the remaining resources of this planet in a fair way.”

Because our house is on fire, and this should come as no surprise. Built on false promises, discounted futures, and sacrificial people, it was rigged to blow from the start. It’s too late to save all our stuff, but we can still save each other and a great many other species, too. Let’s put out the flames and build something different in its place. Something a little less ornate, but with room for all those who need shelter and care.

Adapted from “On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal,” published by Simon and Schuster.

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets that aims to strengthen coverage of the climate crisis.

The post Only a Green New Deal Can Douse the Fires of Eco-Fascism appeared first on The Intercept.

We Need a Safe Environment for All 2-Legged and 4-Legged Creatures

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 16/09/2019 - 10:39am in

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Environment

There should be a delicate balance between ecological improvements and the protection of people and animals from diseases and unwanted parasites. In an ideal world, people and businesses should strive to create an equilibrium between ecological improvements and a safe environment for our 2-legged and 4-legged creatures. There should also be an understanding of the…

The post We Need a Safe Environment for All 2-Legged and 4-Legged Creatures appeared first on Peak Oil.

Coal, and the Harlan County Coal Miners Who Blocked a Train Over Bankrupt Blackjewel’s Wage Theft

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 16/09/2019 - 5:25am in

Perspectives on the Harlan County train block protest as direct action, issues with the protest camp, Kentucky politics, and a "just transition" from coal.

Industrialized Militaries Are a Bigger Part of the Climate Emergency Than You Know

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 15/09/2019 - 10:30pm in

Over a century before we reached the brink of ecological catastrophe, Rabindranath Tagore had a glimpse of where we might be headed. Tagore, an Indian author and cultural reformer who lived during the period of British colonialism, was among the last of a generation able to examine the industrialized world from the outside. He issued one of the earliest and most eloquent warnings about the precarity of a world sustained, like ours today, on the twin pillars of industrial consumption and industrial warfare. On a sea voyage to Japan in 1916, Tagore witnessed an unfathomable event that seems almost mundane to us today: an oil spill. To him, it was a jarring image of an earth destroyed by humanity’s unbridled pursuit of power, now supercharged by the tools of modern science.

“Before this political civilization came to its power and opened its hungry jaws wide enough to gulp down great continents of the earth,” Tagore wrote in “On Nationalism,” his 1917 book of essays, “we had wars, pillages, changes of monarchy and consequent miseries. But never such a sight of fearful and hopeless voracity, such wholesale feeding of nation upon nation, such huge machines for turning great portions of the earth into mincemeat, never such terrible jealousies with all their ugly teeth and claws ready for tearing open each other’s vitals.”

The climate emergency we are tipping into today — the tearing open of our mutual vitals — is a product of our collective failure to adhere to limits. An economic system that demanded endless growth and endless consumption was always too much to ask from a planet whose resources are finite. Yet, as Tagore recognized, the same avarice and contempt that led us to war against the earth would also lead to catastrophic, endless wars among peoples. At the time of his writing, World War I was underway. Tagore saw that conflict as the first of the modern wars that showed us the great power we had gained to destroy the natural world along with our fellow humans. The massive military industries created during that conflict pointed to an even more inhuman future that might be in store.

It may not come as a surprise that the largest industrial military in the history of the world is also the single biggest polluter on the planet.

“The gigantic organizations for hurting others and warding off their blows, for making money by dragging others back, will not help us,” Tagore wrote. “On the contrary, by their crushing weight, their enormous cost, and their deadening effect upon the living humanity, they will seriously impede our freedom.”

Until his death in 1940, Tagore wrote about the dangers of militarism, race hatred, and a brutal type of industrial development that had begun to disfigure the natural world. The industrialization of warfare has now given us powers to destroy other human beings and the earth itself on a scale surpassing even Tagore’s warnings. Even those whose lives have been dedicated to the project of American militarism have begun to recognize the destruction being wrought. In the era of climate crisis, the relationship between environmental destruction and the destruction of human life that Tagore decried in his writings has become perhaps the central issue of our time.

It may not come as a surprise that the largest industrial military in the history of the world is also the single biggest polluter on the planet. A recent study from Brown University’s Costs of War project surfaced this startling fact: The U.S. Department of Defense has a larger annual carbon footprint than most countries on earth. With a sprawling network of bases and logistics networks, the U.S. military is the single biggest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world aside from whole nation-states themselves. “Indeed, the DOD is the world’s largest institutional user of petroleum and correspondingly, the single largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world,” the report notes. If the Pentagon were a country, it would be the world’s 55th biggest emitter of carbon dioxide. And its main purpose — warfare — is easily its most carbon-intensive activity. Since the present era of American conflicts began with the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the U.S. military is estimated to have emitted a staggering 1.2 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere. For comparison, the entire annual carbon emissions of the United Kingdom is roughly 360 million tons.

That massive additional burden on the planet might be justifiable were it all being done in the name of vital national security interests, but the biggest components of the U.S. military’s carbon dioxide footprint have been in wars and occupations that were almost entirely unnecessary. To put it crudely: The U.S. poisoned the planet for vanity projects.

Take, for example, the occupation of Afghanistan, where after 18 years the United States may be close to cutting a peace deal with the Taliban. While the initial war was widely accepted as a necessary response to the September 11 attacks, the nearly two decades of fighting since then seem to have served no political purpose. From an American perspective, a better peace deal could have been reached in 2001, when the Taliban had nearly disbanded in the face of an international military offensive. Instead of sensibly concluding a deal then and declaring Afghanistan a victory, the United States decided to embark on an endless war and occupation. The costs have been tremendous: The Taliban was revived from near-death, at least 110,000 people have been killed, and the environmental toll has been massive.

In addition to emitting millions of tons of carbon dioxide during the war, the U.S. military footprint contributed more directly to the immediate destruction of the Afghan environment. Deforestation has accelerated amid the chaos of the war and, through trash burning and other means, the U.S. armed forces released toxic pollutants into the air that are blamed for sickening Afghan civilians and causing chronic illnesses among U.S. veterans.

We have been killing, dying, and polluting to ensure our access to the same toxic resource most responsible for our climate disruption.

The environmental havoc wreaked by the war in Iraq has been even worse. Not only did the war lead to a spike in carbon dioxide emissions through U.S. military activity, it resulted in the widespread poisoning of the Iraqi environment through the use of toxic munitions and the same so-called burn pits on military bases that were used in Afghanistan. The environment has become so toxic in some places that it has led to elevated rates of cancer, as well as crippling birth defects — terrible individual punishments inflicted on innocent future generations. A British doctor who co-authored two studies on the environmental impact of U.S. military operations in Fallujah said that the city’s population suffers “the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied.”

Much of this impact can be blamed on the use of depleted uranium munitions by U.S. forces. Despite vowing to cease their use, a study by the independent monitoring group Airwars and Foreign Policy Magazine found that the military continued to use the toxic munitions during its most recent bombing campaign in Syria.

The fact that fossil fuel emissions have been the major driver of climate change adds another grim irony to these wars. For decades, the heavy U.S. military footprint in the Middle East has been justified by the need to preserve access to the region’s oil reserves. The industrial extraction of those same reserves has been one of the major drivers of global carbon dioxide emissions.

In other words, we have been killing, dying, and polluting to ensure our access to the same toxic resource most responsible for our climate disruption. It took this perfect symmetry between industrial warfare and industrial exploitation of the earth to bring about the unspeakable emergency we now face.

 Two interpreters for Bravo troop dump their trash in the base's "burn pit." Bravo "Bonecrusher" Troop of the 1-75 Cavalry, 101st Airborne Division recently deployed to the Pashmul area in the Zhari District of Kandahar Province which is a stronghold of the Taliban. They are partnered with Afghan soldiers from 2nd Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 205th Corps. Bravo Troop is part of the new US surge into Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban. (Photo by Sebastian Meyer/Corbis via Getty Images)

Two interpreters for Bravo troop dump their trash in the base’s burn pit in the Zhari District of Kandahar Province, April 2012.

Photo: Sebastian Meyer/Corbis via Getty Images

The phenomena of endless war and climate change have benefitted from another shared indulgence: public indifference. To be clear, it’s not that people don’t care. Before the Iraq War began, millions went into the streets in a last-ditch effort to prevent the invasion. There has been a vibrant environmental movement in the United States for decades.

Over time, the raging wars abroad and stories about distant ecological catastrophes have become background noise.

Over time, however, the raging wars abroad and stories about distant ecological catastrophes have become background noise. Even today, as genuine disaster stares us in the face, neither subject is the primary focus of our media or political discourse. Part of this seems to be based on who has suffered so far. Just as the terrible burdens of war have fallen mostly on foreign countries — as well as a small, volunteer military from the United States — the first stages of the climate crisis have mainly impacted distant places with brown-skinned populations like Brazil, Bangladesh, the Maldives, and the Bahamas. As long as the crisis stays away from the mainland United States, even people who might be saddened by such news seem unwilling to treat it as an emergency.

Sooner or later, the emergency will come to our shores. This March, the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide reached a milestone 415 parts per million. To give a sense of what that means, the last time the atmosphere had that much carbon was 800,000 years ago. At that time, the South Pole was a temperate zone with forests growing and average global temperature was 3 to 4 degrees Celsius warmer than today. Sea levels were 60 feet higher than present levels. Without a drastic push for net-negative emissions — stopping carbon dioxide emissions and reducing the amount of carbon already in the atmosphere — we are on the way to creating a planet like that. Instead, net global emissions are rising.

Ironically, given its own role in helping create this emergency, the Pentagon happens to be one of the few redoubts from the climate denialism now gripping the American government. “The only department in Washington that is clearly and completely seized with the idea that climate change is real is the Department of Defense,” Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Gen. Colin Powell, has said. The U.S. military is preparing for a grim future of climate-caused political instability, food shortages, resource wars, and massive refugee flows. Recognizing the strategic threat posed by its own dependence on fossil fuel, it has even taken steps to diversify its energy sources.

Yet even these limited efforts have met pushback from the Trump administration. The Navy recently killed a task force created to study the effects of climate change, undermining a bare-minimum effort to forecast the impact of rising seas and melting ice caps. In the words of the former rear admiral who led the Navy’s climate change efforts until 2015, “The task force ended, in my opinion, without full incorporation of climate change considerations.”

We tend to think of the 20th century as mainly one of material progress. It’s worth remembering that it was also an era that gave us bloodshed on a historically unprecedented scale. The power of modern science was finally wedded to the primordial dark side of human nature. The result was the most savagely violent period in human history. The death tolls can scarcely be comprehended today, but World War II alone — with its industrial demonology of tanks, bomber planes, poison gas, and atomic weapons — killed over 70 million people. The war inflicted types of environmental harm never seen before. The nuclear blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki gave us our first realistic glimpses of how civilization itself could end. We eventually staggered out of that catastrophe. We may now be walking into a far greater one.

The melting of the Arctic is not just creating an ecological emergency, but, in the eyes of American, Russian, and Chinese military commanders, it is also creating a potential new battleground. Faced with a planet that is clearly at the limits of the abuse it can take, the groundwork is still being laid for more exploitation and violence.

Rabindranath Tagore died at the outset of World War II, before it reached its terrible nuclear crescendo. Many decades earlier, he had already foreseen where unlimited greed, military expansion, and environmental contempt might lead the planet — unless we found a way to steer ourselves off the course. More than a century later, his words sound nearly prophetic. There are finally stirrings of a real movement against the endless war and environmental nihilism that have brought us to this precipice. Tagore left no ambiguity about where we would find ourselves if we fail.

“If this persists indefinitely and armaments go on exaggerating themselves to unimaginable absurdities, and machines and storehouses envelop this fair earth with their dirt and smoke and ugliness,” Tagore warned, “then it will end in a conflagration of suicide.”

The post Industrialized Militaries Are a Bigger Part of the Climate Emergency Than You Know appeared first on The Intercept.

What’s in a Trump Straw?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 15/09/2019 - 9:00pm in

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Environment

Watch as Naomi Klein explains why the overpriced scraps of pre-landfill known as Trump Straws can actually tell us a whole lot about why our planet’s on fire.

So many environmental responses have just been minor tweaks to an economy based on endless consumption — take your electric car to the drive-through for an Impossible Burger and a Coke with a paper straw. Of course it’s better than the alternative. But it’s nowhere close to the depth of change required if we hope to actually pull our planet back from the brink. Restricting plastic straws is great. But we also need a ban on those significantly larger cylindrical sucking things. And electric cars are nice, if you can afford them. But what we really need is free, zero emissions public transit with energy-efficient non-market housing and health care steps away. We need new ways of thinking, beyond Trumpian temper tantrums or the dangerous incrementalism of the supposedly serious centrists.

 

This video is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets that aims to strengthen coverage of the climate crisis.

The post What’s in a Trump Straw? appeared first on The Intercept.

Young people and workers of the world unite! You have a right to a future.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 14/09/2019 - 9:41pm in

Placard at a demonstration with the slogan "Planet over Profit"Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Earlier this week in New York, Greta Thunberg, Naomi Klein and other environmental activists shared a platform in an event entitled ‘The Right to a Future’. In the face of growing public concern about the consequences of climate change (see last week’s blog) the discussion focused on how to break through the political and economic barriers which are preventing addressing the climate crisis, and how best to secure a future in which human beings can survive and thrive.

Greta Thunberg’s lonely protests outside her own Swedish parliament have grown into a world-wide movement. Next week on September 20th a series of climate strikes will take place on every continent across the world (link here). Young people who have the most to lose will be joining hands in an act of world-wide resistance and asking politicians to take their heads out of the sand and act before it is too late.

Greta’s simple message to the world in the face of those who claim that action will be too expensive was; ‘’If we can save the banks, we can save the world. If there is something we are not lacking in this world it’s money. Of course, many people do lack money, but governments and these people in power, they do not lack money’.  

In the light of the growing campaign to challenge the monetary orthodoxy of the past decades by bringing an understanding of modern monetary realities to ordinary people and shining a lens on the consequences of austerity and public spending cuts, this simple message was a heartening one. Such public figures as Greta Thunberg and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez espousing such ideas in a public arena allow us to explore and challenge the narratives of destruction and go boldly forward in the knowledge that a Green New Deal is not just affordable, but vital to our existence.

As Professor L Randall Wray and Yeva Nersisyan write in their paper entitled ‘How to pay for a Green New Deal which they explain mimics that of J.M Keynes famous book ‘How to Pay for the War: A Radical Plan for the Chancellor of the Exchequer’;

We already have the financial wherewithal needed to afford whatever is technologically possible. We do not need to go hat-in-hand to rich folks to get them to pay for it. We do not have to beggar our grandkids to pay for it. We do not have to borrow from China to pay for it. We do not have to get the Fed to “print money” to pay for it. All we need to do is to remove the self-imposed constraints, the myths, and the misplaced morality; then budget for it, approve the budget, and spend. […] That is how you pay for it.” *

*For federal reserve read Bank of England.

Prior to last week’s Spending Review, Greenpeace and the Friends of the Earth urged the Chancellor to invest at least £42bn to tackle the climate crisis. Much of course has been made of the loosening of the fiscal purse strings (along with dire warnings by the economic sirens of orthodoxy) but the £32m allocated by Javid amounted to little more than a gesture and was just 0.l% of what is needed to help the country meet Theresa May’s 2050 net-zero target. In fact, as the Friends of the Earth noted, ‘it completely undermines the government’s commitment to taking climate and biodiversity seriously’. Instead of putting its money where its mouth is, it is showing the complete contempt with which it holds our young people who will inherit the consequences of its failure to act.

Of course, that may come as no surprise when you know that the some of the signatories of a letter (a former founder of the Taxpayer’s Alliance, the Institute of Economic Affairs and the Adam Smith Institute) sent to the EU and the UN last week entitled ‘There is no Climate emergency’ are reported to be advising Javid, Johnson and Truss.

Naomi Klein climate activist and campaigner wrote in her book ‘This Changes Everything’ (2014):

“The bottom line is what matters here; our economic system and our planetary system are now at war. Or, more accurately our economy is at war with many forms of life including human life. What the climate needs to avoid collapse is a contraction in humanity’s use of resources: what our economic model demands to avoid collapse is unfettered expansion. Only one of these sets of rules can be changed, and it’s not the laws of nature.”

Our governments and the corporations they serve need to move beyond viewing the natural world and its citizens as resources to consume and throw away in their constant search for profit. As Klein says, we need a ‘shift in worldview at every level’. In her new book On Fire: The Burning case for a Green New Deal to be published next week she makes the point that ecological breakdown and economic injustice are inseparable. From action to deliver a greener and more sustainable world to addressing the inequality which leaves too many without enough food, adequate shelter, healthcare and education, the Green New Deal (GND) provides a radical framework upon which we can build for real change.

However, we should also not forget the importance of the Job Guarantee which is fundamental to delivering a GND. We need to manage the transition for workers currently employed in carbon heavy industries, towards a green pathway that not only cleans up the environment but redresses the exploitation of both humans and finite resources in the search for surplus value. This exploitation has formed the basis for the economic and societal injustices that have prevailed for far too long and the adjustments which will have to be made must not impoverish further or place any more burden on those who have already paid a heavy price and suffered enough.

On the one hand, we have politicians on the right barricading themselves in with nonsensical fiscal rules which, despite a loosening of the purse strings to offer a few crumbs from the table, still favour financial prudence over societal and planetary well-being to keep the status quo in place. On the other we have economists and politicians on the left discussing how the green new deal can be paid for through borrowing because interest rates are so low. They, in their different ways both deny the monetary reality that a government which issues its own currency doesn’t have to borrow to fund its spending and fail to grasp that such financial constraints could put the brakes on government action to address climate change. Instead of imposing monetary constraints which do not reflect monetary reality, our leaders and their advisors should be looking at how we can best manage the resources that will be needed to put the GND into action without exceeding the productive capacity of a nation and indeed the planet.

It is imperative that our young people grasp monetary realities and challenge the stale paradigms and incorrect narratives on both sides of the political divide which will deprive them of a future if not addressed urgently. On a dead planet there are no workers – well actually there are potentially no people!

In other news this week our NHS is still on the endangered/critical list as budgets are squeezed and services increasingly put under pressure thus creating the perfect conditions for a long-planned takeover by a privatised US style Medicare system. What began with Thatcher and was enthusiastically embraced by Blair and later Cameron’s Tory/Lib Dem coalition now is in its endgame as US private healthcare companies circle for the ‘prize’.  Brexit or no.

It was reported that London GPs have been told to restrict specialist referrals under an NHS plan to ration services in order to plug the growing hole in healthcare budgets. This will amount to cost-cutting at the expense of patient care whilst also and very importantly removing from doctors in GP Practices or in hospitals the ability to make decisions about what is best for their patient. Financial accountability trumps the clinical needs of patients. Health Campaigners rightly fear that similar cuts will be imposed in other Clinical Commissioning Groups across the country, which also have substantial deficits.

However, the public needs to be aware that this is all part of a long-term plan, which began in the 80s and was pursued by successive governments, to whittle down the NHS to its barest essentials to make it a profit-making enterprise for the private healthcare sector and allow it access to a ready market of private/insurance paying patients thus creating an unequal two-tier health service of haves and have nots.  The Americanisation of the NHS has been with us for decades and whilst the focus is often on funding, as if somehow addressing that would be a solution, we should be directing our attention to campaigning to reinstate the NHS as a publicly owned, funded and managed organisation for the benefit of the nation and its health and not the coffers of private companies.

In the same week it has been reported by the left-wing think tank the IPPR (link here) that NHS trusts crippled by the Private Finance Initiative still have £55bn of their debt outstanding, which it says represents a huge burden on already squeezed budgets at a time when trusts are struggling to provide patient services and meet the spiralling costs of estate maintenance. Whilst noting that PFI had proved to be a very bad deal which by 2050 will have cost around £80bn for just £13bn of assets, it suggested incorrectly that although they were bad deals, they were the only mechanism that could have brought enough capital into the health system.

The truth of the story is that PFI (introduced by John Major) was embraced enthusiastically by Blair and the then Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown who used it as a mechanism to keep expenditure off the public accounts in order to remain within the government’s fiscal rules. Contrary to the suggestion made by the IPPR that they were the only means of funding NHS infrastructure, the government as the currency issuer could have funded that capital investment without borrowing a bean. Interestingly, at the time the Chief Economist of the IPPR, Peter Robinson, said that the idea that government could not have afforded new schools and hospitals without the PFI was ‘economically illiterate’ although it has to be said that that was in the context of the state being able to borrow more cheaply.

As Chris Thomas, an IPPR fellow, who carried out the research notes ‘Toxic PFI contracts are still driving billions away from patients and into private bank accounts.’ Our NHS is now paying the price for an accounting trick to give the impression of a financially prudent government which has financially burdened the NHS and enabled the privatisers to achieve their objectives under cover and with impunity.  And we should not imagine that this just applies to PFI. Clinical and back office services which have landed in the lap of private companies through tendered contracts also take public money away from patients.  The State has become nothing less than a profit-oriented cash cow for the private sector to leach from at the expense of patient care.

Tweet bu @help_forceContinuing with the NHS theme, if you’re a tweeter you may have seen this earlier in the week. Helpforce is an organisation that in its words is ‘working with NHS Trusts to create exciting roles for safe, reliable and effective volunteering’. In the tweet, reference is made to Emma Valentine who is explaining to the assembled audience the flexibility that NHS England offer their employees should they wish to volunteer within healthcare and praising what a difference volunteering can make to our society.

GIMMS has covered volunteering before in its blogs so excuse us if we do so again. It is important to reiterate that it is not knocking at all the social value of volunteering both for those doing the volunteering and those on the receiving end. However, we cannot support volunteering when it is a part of a clear strategy to reduce costs and deliver a profitable health and social care system for private providers whilst at the same time denying a person the dignity of a paid job.

In NHS England’s volunteering strategy Consultation Document published in 2017 it wrote in its forward:

‘Volunteers are crucial in both health and social care. […]. The Local Government Association has made proposals that volunteers including those who help care for the elderly, should receive a 10% reduction in their council tax bill […]. We support testing approaches like that, which could be extended to those who volunteer in hospitals and other parts of the NHS. The NHS can go further, accrediting volunteers and devising ways to help them become part of the extended NHS family, not as substitutes for but as partners with our skilled employed staff.

In a world where driving down costs to extract profit is the aim of the capitalist game, it is easy to see why volunteering holds attraction to those in the business of global domination of healthcare. As the campaigner Jo Land wrote last year in her article in the New Internationalist ‘Why neoliberals are pushing ‘Accountable Care’ worldwide’ (link here)

‘Costs are to be kept low through using deskilled staff and telehealth technologies. Another way of keeping costs low are controversial ‘new models of care’ in which populations such as the frail elderly are cared for at home, leveraging maximum (unpaid) support from volunteers and family.’

A new report by the charities ProBono Economics and Helpforce found that around three million volunteers are giving their time in health and social care and that the NHS is planning to increase its voluntary support from 80,000 to 156,000 over the next three years. It suggests that given the NHS’s digital transformation strategy tech-literate young people could teach patients to use new technologies to help them manage their conditions and it also proposes that skilled workers could also offer their skills as unpaid volunteers in project management or data analytics or as economists and lawyers. Such volunteering roles will be prioritised as part of the Helpforce programme which is supported by NHS England and forms part of its long-term plans.

In a lecture in 2014 Andy Haldane, the Chief Economist at the Bank of England and Trustee of Pro-Bono Economics, pointed out the value of volunteering to the economy could exceed £50bn a year. If that is £50bn of unpaid work which is contributing to the well-being of society for free, then surely this is a moment to ask questions? As Harvie and Dowling note in their paper; Harnessing the Social: State, Crisis and (Big) Society:

‘capital’s lifeblood is unpaid work, and the Big Society as political economy is an attempt (to) extend the realm of unpaid work that can be appropriated.’

What has been presented as community empowerment aimed essentially at devolving power from the state which has deliberately been marketed to appeal to our human capacity for empathy has been used by government to restructure society as the State increasingly withdraws ‘from fiscal intervention or the provision of welfare’.

Where government should be at the heart of delivering societal and economic well-being through its policies, the public has been persuaded otherwise as part of a long-term divisive strategy to lay blame on individuals rather than the state. Thus, it enables justification of its withdrawal from provision of public services and social security to favour private sector involvement and a restoration of Victorian charitable values.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can and should challenge the mantra of “there is no alternative” because it has done huge damage to people’s lives, their livelihoods and the planet.

Firstly, instead of freebie labour which keeps capital exploiting working people to manage their profit margins we need a better model which gives working people more control over their lives and can also act as an economic stabiliser during an economy’s cyclical ups and down. Why not start with government re-embracing full employment policies – we did once why not again? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes a right to work (article 23 (1)) and both the UN and the International Labour office asserted that full employment should be a national and international goal.

Why not implement a Job or Employment Guarantee to benefit our local communities which would both sustain their economies and also provide a mechanism to address climate change on a local basis?  Why not pay people a decent wage and offer training to provide support in socially useful work which would have the added benefit of offering a stepping-stone into private sector employment with skills to match should they choose to? The research is clear about the value of work which allows people to feel socially included, participate in the economy, feed and clothe themselves adequately and also raises their self-esteem.

Secondly, if a skilled job needs to be done, then why are people not being employed on a regular salary to do it? If, for example, there are tasks that need to be accomplished on a regular basis outside of normal nursing and caring duties then why not employ people to do it on a living wage?  Full employment policies combined with a job guarantee would put working people back in the driving seat and would have the added benefit of putting money into circulation to ensure a thriving and sustainable economy.

As it stands, we have government colluding with big business through its employment policies which include the encouragement to volunteer via a cynical appeal to their better nature which keeps working people suppressed and capital in charge and profitable.

Why not think beyond the neoliberal narrative which abandons people and the planet to its fate? Let’s work towards a fairer and more inclusive economic model which puts the planet and people at its heart. It’s time.

 

Upcoming events:

GIMMS Labour Fringe Event

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Brighton, BN2 1RL

September 23 @ 2:00 pm – 4:30 pm – book your free ticket here

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September 24 @ 6:30 pm – 21:00 pm – book your free ticket here

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Leeds, LS6 3HN

September 28 @ 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm – book your free ticket here

 

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The post Young people and workers of the world unite! You have a right to a future. appeared first on The Gower Initiative for Modern Money Studies.

Greta Thunberg on the Climate Fight: “If We Can Save the Banks, Then We Can Save the World”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 14/09/2019 - 1:26am in

Tags 

Environment

We are living through some scary times. As Greta has told us so often: “Our house is on fire.” And I firmly believe that there are three things that have to align if we are going to douse the flames. First, we need the courage to dream of a different kind of future. To shake off the sense of inevitable apocalypse that has pervaded our culture. To give us a destination, a common goal, a picture of the world we are working towards.

But those dreams are useless unless we are willing to embrace the other two forces. One is the need to confront the truth of our moment in history — the truth of how much we have already lost and of how much more we are on the brink of losing if we do not embrace revolutionary levels of change.

The other thing we have to do is this: We have find our fight. We have to come together across differences and build credible, unshakable power. In the face of the fires roiling our world, we have to find our own fire. Truth and fire.

Greta Thunberg is one of the great truth-tellers of this or any time. Let me refresh your memories about some of her most iconic lines. To the U.N. climate negotiators in Poland last December, she said: “You are not mature enough to tell it like it is. Even that burden you leave to us children.”

To the British MPs who asked her to speak, she asked, “Is my English OK? Is the microphone on? Because I’m beginning to wonder.”

To the rich and mighty at Davos who praised her for giving them hope, she replied, “I don’t want your hope. … I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is.”

She also told them that not everyone is to blame for the climate crisis. No, she looked them in the eye and said that they were to blame. And we will always love her for that.

But Greta is not all talk. All of this began with action. It began when Greta realized, one year and one month ago, that if she wanted powerful politicians to put themselves on emergency footing to fight climate change, then she needed to reflect that state of emergency in her own life. And so she stopped doing the one thing all kids are supposed to do when everything is normal: Go to school to prepare for their future as adults.

Instead, she stationed herself outside of Sweden’s parliament with a handmade sign that said simply: “School Strike for the Climate.” She started doing it every Friday, and pretty soon she attracted a small crowd. Then other students started doing it in other cities as well.

Students like Alexandria Villaseñor, who stations herself outside the United Nations in this city every Friday, week after week, rain, snow or shine. Sometimes the student climate strikes were just one lonely kid. Sometimes tens of thousands showed up.

And then, on March 15, came the first Global School Strike for Climate. Over 2,000 strikes in 125 countries, with 1.6 million young people participating on a single day. 1.6 million people. That’s quite an achievement for a movement that began just eight months earlier with a single 15-year-old girl in Stockholm, Sweden.

And now this movement is gearing up for its biggest challenge yet: They have called on people of all ages to join the and go on strike, all around the world, on September 20. Because protecting the future is not a spectator sport.

Thunberg and the many other amazing young organizers have been very clear that they do not want adults to pat them on the head and thank them for the hope infusion. They want us to join them and fight for the future alongside them. Because it is their right. And all of our duty.

The post Greta Thunberg on the Climate Fight: “If We Can Save the Banks, Then We Can Save the World” appeared first on The Intercept.

Senate Democrats Draft Pro Athlete Instagram Influencers Into Climate Fight

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 13/09/2019 - 9:01am in

On Thursday, after a summer of extreme heat, the Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis convened to hear from a group of people especially affected by climate change. They were not members of low-income communities or communities of color, people who have been hit by hurricanes, wildfires, and other disasters. They were current and former professional athletes, appearing to testify on how climate change impacts winter sports and tourism industries.

The 10-member special committee, chaired by Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, is tasked with investigating the impacts of climate change to develop the policy ideas necessary to pass “ambitious actions that are on scale with the problem” following the 2020 election. As long as Republicans control the Senate, there is virtually no chance of any meaningful legislation passing. “The goal is to lay down the factual basis for taking action, so that if we are in charge in 2021, we don’t have to go through 18 months of investigatory hearings,” Schatz told The Atlantic in July.

Broadly speaking, Democratic leaders have resisted calls for a more urgent push toward a Green New Deal by assuring climate activists that they are on their side, and that they’re hard at work on the problem. In the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., declined to create the kind of panel demanded by activists with the Sunrise Movement and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., explaining that the standing committees with current jurisdiction could handle the legislation. To buck them, she created a Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, but declined to give it subpoena authority or otherwise empower it. Nearly a year later, it’s fair to ask: Do Democrats indeed have it under control?

And today, Sens. Mike Braun, R-Ind., and Chris Coons, D-Del., announced their plan to start a bipartisan caucus, getting Republicans involved in the climate discussions. “I look forward to continuing to work with Senator Braun, our colleagues, business leaders, and others to explore ways in which we can work together to curb the growing impacts of climate change,” Coons told the Washington Examiner.

 Caroline Gleich testifies before the Democrats Special Committee on the Climate Crisis during Pro Athletes Join Protect Our Winters Action Fund In Urging Congress To Act On Climate Climate, Public Lands at the U.S. Capitol on September 12, 2019 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Leigh Vogel/Getty Images)

Professional skier Caroline Gleich testifies before the Democrats Special Committee on the Climate Crisis on Capitol Hill on Sept. 12, 2019.

Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images

Since its formation in late March, the Senate committee has met publicly with climate advocates on three different occasions and once privately with labor leaders — and avoided discussing the radical measures needed to counter the climate emergency.

Two out of four of the athletes brought to testify on the panel, called “The Fight to Save Winter: Pro Athletes for Climate Action,” are Instagram influencers. The witnesses were Mike Richter, a former professional ice hockey goaltender; Jeremy Jones, a professional snowboarder and founder of Protect Our Winters (85,200 followers); Tommy Caldwell, a professional climber (591,000 followers); and Caroline Gleich, a professional ski mountaineer (157,000 followers). (Caldwell and Gleich have also used their accounts to promote brands.) Caldwell posted about the Senate appearance on Instagram — as did Gleich, sponsored by Gaia Herbs.

“Good afternoon Senator Schatz and members of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis,” Gleich began. “I am a professional ski mountaineer from Park City, Utah. I built a career working as an ambassador for brands including Patagonia, Keen, Julbo, and Movement Skis. … Having spent my lifetime exploring mountain environments, I have witnessed the impacts of climate change firsthand. It is clear to me our winters are warming and our snowpack is diminishing. As an alpinist, I climb a great deal of glaciers and ice, and there is no doubt increased temperatures are melting away both my sport and my livelihood.”

As Richter, currently the president of Brightcore Energy, noted: “These burdens that we not just allow, but create every day, of inaction on climate change fall disproportionately on the poor, women, and the young.”

Overwhelming public support will be necessary for the overhaul of the economy needed to meet the scale of the climate emergency — and to that end, everyone must be deployed, including brand ambassadors. But that assumes the party is doing everything it can too.

Pro climber Tommy Caldwell, greets Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., before the Senate Democrats Special Committee on the Climate Crisis hearing in the Capitol Visitor Center on Sept. 12, 2019.

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

On March 27, just a day after the Green New Deal resolution failed a procedural vote in the Senate, Democrats unveiled the Special Committee on the Climate Crisis. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had orchestrated the vote as an attempt to embarrass Democrats, particularly the ones running for president, and to get them to record their position on the resolution. Forty-three Democrats voted “present” to dodge the “political stunt,” while also refusing to take a stance on a measure that has broad support among American voters. In April, Yale University conducted a study that found 69 percent of registered voters support the Green New Deal, including 93 percent of Democrats, 64 percent of independents, and 44 percent of Republicans.

Schatz, a self-described climate hawk, hasn’t actually signed on as a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal resolution introduced by Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey. Schatz has praised and “endorsed” the proposal, but he has said he plans to roll out his own legislation instead. Asked about the status of his legislation, Schatz said in a statement to The Intercept, “Earlier this year, Sheldon Whitehouse and I introduced our carbon fee bill. And while it’s one of the best options we have for tackling climate change, there is no silver bullet. We need to do it all — carbon pricing, conservation and efficiency, wind, solar — everything.”

According to the committee’s website, members are tasked with investigating the “efforts of special interests to foster climate denial” and convening meetings with “frontline communities impacted by climate change,” as well as experts from the environmental, national security, and economic development communities. The other members of the committee include Markey and Sens. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Tina Smith of Minnesota, and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.

So, naturally, the committee dedicated its second public hearing to a panel of former climate deniers. At July’s hearing, titled “The Right Thing to Do: Conservatives for Climate Action,” lawmakers asked a group of conservatives — which included veteran GOP strategist and pollster Frank Luntz — for advice on messaging ideas to reach and convert Republicans.

Luntz, who infamously advised the Bush administration to cast doubt on the science of climate change, brought a chart of “words to use and words to lose” to the hearing. He suggested that advocates use words like “cleaner, safer, and healthier,” and drop words like “sustainable” or “sustainability.” Instead of talking about the “jobs” that would be created through climate action, he said, activists should use the word “careers.” But the best way to break down barriers between the left and the right, according to Luntz, is to stay away from the science of climate change and pitch climate action as a personal win-win instead.

“If we do this right, we get cleaner air, we get less dependence on foreign fuels, enhanced national security, we get more innovation in our economy, and more jobs and great new careers. And that’s if the scientists are wrong,” Luntz said. “If the scientists are right, we get all of those things and begin to solve what could be the most catastrophic environmental problem that any of us have faced.”

Another of the Republican witnesses, Nick Huey, founder of the Climate Campaign, choked back tears as he delivered an impassioned plea for bipartisanship and centrism. The solution to climate change, he said, is to “become radical Far-Middle-ists.”

“In the Far Middle, a liberal atheist and a conservative Mormon Christian can sit down and have a real conversation about climate, health care, guns, and gays, and leave with new ideas,” he said. “In the Far Middle, we treasure diversity of thought every bit as much as we treasure diversity of skin color, even when those thoughts are in direct conflict with our own.”

“The Far Middle has been muted by two warring parties, but we are still America’s majority. Give us our voice back,” he continued. “Only then can the Far Middle become the strong and decisive force in Washington it once was. Create the Far Middle, and climate change will take care of itself.”

Only the special committee’s first public hearing, titled “A Blueprint for Success: U.S. Climate Action at the Local Level,” discussed policy specifics. In July, five mayors appeared in Congress to discuss their cities’ efforts to combat carbon pollution. But aside from Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto calling for a “Marshall Plan for the Midwest” to create jobs in clean energy, nearly all the ideas put forward — like investment in electric buses and transit infrastructure — fell short of the radical work needed to stave off climate hell.

The post Senate Democrats Draft Pro Athlete Instagram Influencers Into Climate Fight appeared first on The Intercept.

Axios: What’s the Actual Cost of Not Addressing Climate Change?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 12/09/2019 - 4:03pm in

bunking some arguments against Sanders' climate change program.

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