Environment

Forged in Fire: California’s Lessons for a Green New Deal

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 08/11/2019 - 1:00am in

FILE - In this Nov. 8, 2018 file photo, flames climb trees as the Camp Fire tears through Paradise, Calif. A federal hazard tree-removal program will remove destroyed trees from last year's deadly Camp Fire that remain on private property and could fall on public roads and facilities. But the Chico Enterprise-Record reports that the Federal Emergency Management Agency program will not take down trees that could fall on homes. Some arborists have estimated there are half a million to a million burned trees remaining from the fire that wiped out 14,000 homes and killed 85 last November. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

Flames climb trees as the Camp Fire tears through Paradise, Calif., on Nov. 8, 2018.

Photo: Noah Berger/AP

We were just taking pictures. Of the ash, stray bricks, and weeds. Of twisted metal and charred patio furniture. Of the pine trees still standing on the edge of the lots, their towering trunks now charcoal black. Of the lonely white brick fireplace in the middle of it all, the only surviving structure, metal pokers hanging expectantly by the grate.

“Get the hell off my property!”

The words came bellowing from a burly man who had just pulled up to the pile of ash that once was his home in Paradise, California. As he shouted a litany of complaints, it became clear that his rage wasn’t only reserved for us trespassers — and there have been plenty who have gone to Paradise to gaze at the eerie emptiness where a thriving community once stood, before it was decimated by California’s deadliest fire one year ago.

The target was myriad forces that had conspired to twist the knife, again and again, on his already wrenching property loss — from the insurance company that wouldn’t pay up, to the county that wouldn’t let him clean up, to the state that wanted his (now contaminated) well to be sealed up. His rage was also directed at the absence of decent temporary housing for fire victims like him, not to mention the electric utility that had started the blaze and was still evading responsibility.

When the complaints petered out, I approached the man to introduce myself and apologize for our intrusion. But as I got closer, I felt his volatility: I have been in many disaster-struck communities and know how quickly the gale-force of emotion these events churn up can direct itself at the closest available target. We wished him luck and left.

The encounter was a reminder of the kind of stress that is in the air in the parts of California recently scorched by fire, as well as in the communities that have welcomed thousands of newly homeless neighbors to towns now bursting at the seams. The intersecting hardships experienced by so many in the region also explain why, days before the one-year anniversary of the deadly Camp Fire that burned down Paradise and killed 86 people, local politicians in neighboring Chico unveiled a plan calling for the small city to adopt its own Green New Deal.

Like its national inspiration, the Chico Green New Deal framework marries rapid decarbonization targets with calls for more affordable housing; a safe and sustainable food system; investments in “clean, 21st century” public transit; green jobs creation, including projects earmarked for the poorest residents; and much more.

Chico shows that there is no way to cope with climate breakdown without a simultaneous shift to a very different kind of economy.

“Your city council has heard the call of its community that has resounded locally and across the nation,” said Chico Vice Mayor Alex Brown when the plan was announced. “We are choosing to walk the walk of this movement and to take the leadership being demanded of us.” In an interview, Brown told me that the Camp Fire’s impact on both Paradise and Chico was a glimpse of the future unless action is taken to both radically lower emissions and build “communities that are more resilient to these shifts.” Brown is well aware that a small city like hers isn’t going to make much of a dent in global emissions. But, she said, “We can demonstrate what a Green New Deal looks like at the local level.”

The Chico plan is one of many similar local initiatives that have sprung up in the year since the Sunrise Movement occupied the office of then-prospective House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with young demonstrators demanding that the Democratic Party embrace a sweeping Green New Deal to meet the twin crises of climate disruption and deepening inequality. Since then, as the Green New Deal proposal has picked up momentum in the Democratic primaries, several states and big cities have unveiled their own frameworks, including Maine and Seattle, where city council recently passed a resolution that included the city’s most ambitious climate justice targets to date. It also pledged to create an oversight board to hold the city to its commitments, a body that will be made up of representatives from communities directly impacted by racial, economic, and environmental injustice, as well as climate experts and representatives from trade unions and green groups.

And yet the contribution now coming from humble Chico — a scrappy northern California college town with a population of approximately 100,000 — may be the most politically significant. Because the Chico Green New Deal is based directly on this region’s hard-won experience of living through the 2018 inferno; it was forged, quite literally, in fire.

Ever since the Green New Deal landed on the political map, liberals have attacked it for its supposedly impractical scope and ambition. Fighting poverty, racism, and homelessness are worthy goals, we have been told — but what do they have to do with lowering greenhouse gas emissions? Surely a carbon-centric approach — like a simple tax or cap-and-trade and some narrow regulations on polluters — would be more likely to succeed. And besides, connecting greenhouse-gas reductions with building a fairer society just confirms Republican beliefs that climate change is a vast left-wing plot: Better to focus exclusively on pollution and worry about the rest down the road. Conservative Chico city council members have gone on the offensive against the Green New Deal with precisely this kind of attack.

 An aerial view of a neighborhood destroyed by the Camp Fire October 21, 2019 in Paradise, California. It has been one year since the the Camp Fire ripped through the town of Paradise, California charring over 150,000 acres, killed 85 people and destroyed over 18,000 homes and businesses. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

An aerial view of a destroyed neighborhood in Paradise, Calif., on Oct. 21, 2019, one year after the Camp Fire.

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Yet Chico’s lived experience over the past year is a devastating rebuke to this line of criticism. As the community that housed the vast majority of people displaced by the Camp Fire, Chico shows that there is no way to cope with climate breakdown without a simultaneous shift to a very different kind of economy, one that is willing to make major nonmarket investments in housing, transit, health (including mental health), water, electricity, and more.

Because what I found in Chico and what’s left of Paradise on my recent visit were people who had behaved with heroic solidarity. Tested by disaster, these communities had come together and looked after one another. At least they did at first. But saddled with basic infrastructure made brittle by decades of underinvestment and privatization, combined with powerful market incentives to profit from disaster, they soon discovered that the decks were stacked against those early efforts. That’s why so many in the community have concluded that the impacts of climate disruption simply cannot be handled without big structural changes on the order of a Green New Deal. Some of these investments can be done locally; others will need bold state and federal support.

Mark Stemen, a professor of geography and planning at Chico State, was my guide through Paradise and Chico and has been at the forefront of many of these debates. For him, the story of the wildfire and its aftermath makes the case for this holistic model of change.

“Some of the most beautiful nights were in the Walmart parking lot,” Stemen told me as we drove the Skyway out of Paradise and approached the big-box retailer on the outskirts of Chico. The black asphalt surrounding the store, he explained, acted as a fire break, repelling the flames that destroyed between 17,000 and 19,000 structures up the road. So, as cars and trucks fled that rain of fire, hundreds of them pulled into the Walmart parking lot, safe at last.

There they were met by North Valley Mutual Aid, the now legendary anarchist disaster response group that self-organized in the immediate aftermath of the fire. Thanks in large part to these grassroots activists, the evacuees who ended up at the Chico Walmart were greeted with clothing, pollution masks, hot meals, dog food, and much more. A whiteboard shared information about people who were still missing. Portable toilets appeared and showers a few days later. Walmart donated some supplies —and also made a killing selling tents, sleeping bags, and whatever else anyone needed.

Soon, the parking lot and the empty field next to it were transformed into a bustling, pets-welcome campground, a place for those made homeless by the fire to stay connected while finding their feet — and a place for Chico’s residents to show up with donations and offers of spare bedrooms.

Tera Hickerson, right, and Columbus Holt embrace as they look at a board with information for services at a makeshift encampment outside a Walmart store for people displaced by the Camp Fire, Friday, Nov. 16, 2018, in Chico, Calif. The two, from Paradise, Calif., escaped the fire and don't know if their house is still standing. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Tera Hickerson, right, and Columbus Holt embrace as they look at a board with information for services at a makeshift encampment outside a Walmart store for people displaced by the Camp Fire in Chico, Calif., on Nov. 16, 2018.

Photo: John Locher/AP

It’s true that California’s fires have provided the world with some extraordinary examples of disaster capitalism and climate apartheid: ultrarich mansion owners protecting their homes with private firefighters and failing to inform their immigrant housekeepers and gardeners that their workplaces were under evacuation; Cal Fire’s reliance on hyper-exploited prison inmates to do some of the most dangerous firefighting in the state; migrant farmworkers in wine country forced to work in a haze of wildfire smoke.

But one year ago, Chico and Paradise seemed to provide a counterpoint to all this. Indeed, many saw those early days and weeks after the fire as a powerful embodiment of the solidarity and generosity that humans are capable of when faced with adversity. In Paradise, nurses, doctors, and elder care workers went to heroic lengths to save the lives of the people in their care. Chico’s residents, meanwhile, knew that what had happened to their neighbors in Paradise could have easily happened to them — and with the warm, dry weather of climate disruption, it could still happen to them at virtually any time.

And so they found their best selves: They shared what they had, opened their homes to strangers, asked people what they needed, and made it happen. The Chico State sports clubs and teams showed up at the various evacuation centers and played games with the kids. Underlying this outbreak of mutual aid was an unspoken agreement that people in need have an inherent right to food and water and housing. Any whiff of profiteering was met with rage.

“A tsunami of fire and terror rolled down the hill from Paradise,” Stemen recalled, his voice catching. “But that tsunami was buffeted by a blanket of love and comfort.”

Except here is the trouble: Love and comfort may have been the dominant first responses, but we do not currently live in a society that is governed by those values. On the contrary, ours is an economy built to profit off even the most desperate human needs, from water to health care to shelter and warmth after horrific disasters. A case in point: PG&E, California’s much loathed private energy utility, has been selling generators off its “marketplace” website to customers who have lost power thanks to … PG&E.

And so as the reality set in that Chico’s population had grown by some 20,000 people, sharp feelings of scarcity and cutthroat competition began to descend over this parched piece of northern California.

Denise Chester, an evacuee of the Camp Fire, hugs her son Antonio Batres as she volunteers sorting clothes at a makeshift shelter in Chico, Calif., on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018. Chester, who doesn't want to know yet whether her home survived, said "I want to help. I don't want to shut down." (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Denise Chester, an evacuee of the Camp Fire, hugs her son Antonio Batres as she volunteers to sort clothes at a makeshift shelter in Chico, Calif., on Nov. 14, 2018.

Photo: Noah Berger/AP

Well before the Camp Fire, Chico had a serious shortage of affordable housing (indeed, many people who worked in Chico had to live in Paradise because it was cheaper). So it was only natural that, when free food and supplies started being distributed outside Walmart, many members of Chico’s chronically homeless population showed up alongside those who had just lost their homes in the Camp Fire. That was fine by North Valley Mutual Aid, which rejects any notion that there is a hierarchy of deserving and undeserving homeless people. Moreover, many Paradise evacuees camping outside Walmart reported learning valuable skills from folks with years of experience sleeping rough (including how to keep belongings safe and how to line tents with cardboard to stay dry).

But others disagreed. They portrayed the pre-fire homeless as invaders, interlopers, freeloaders. Meanwhile, as Black Friday approached, with its promise of blockbuster sales, Walmart started agitating to clear the parking lot and the tents in the neighboring field. Facing backlash, it offered up funds for a permanent homeless shelter in town — but according to Stemen, that was rejected by the neighborhood for the same reason such shelters are so often rejected: concerns about safety and property values.

Making matters worse has been an epidemic of the kind of stress I encountered on the pile of ash that was once a home in Paradise. I heard several stories of people who had opened their homes to strangers, only to watch helplessly as untreated trauma made living in close quarters unbearable. As is so often the case after disasters, rates of domestic violence increased sharply. Though they have gone down in recent months, Brown told me that the severity of domestic attacks remains elevated. She also confirmed the widespread perception of a spike in traffic accidents, the product of an influx of new cars on the roads, which has fueled “strain and stress getting from one place to another.”

Sustaining that empathetic impulse beyond the initial emergency takes more than good will. It takes good policy, alongside serious public investments.

Several researchers I spoke with observed that post-traumatic stress disorder was rampant, including for Chico residents who were not in the fires but spent days breathing smoke that they knew included the remains of dozens of people. And though there have been many examples of artists working with residents on public memorials and grieving ceremonies, there is nothing close to the level of mental health support that would have helped people to keep from turning on each other as a result of these overlapping pressures.

Adding to the cauldron of stress was the fact that that serious profiteering had set in. Rents in Chico shot up, along with home prices. Improbably, Realtor.com named Chico the hottest housing market in the nation.

“All of sudden, there was a whole new class of refugees on people’s couches: the evicted,” Stemen told me. “But they weren’t evicted by fire, they were evicted by greed.”

All of this had an impact on that initial wave of human solidarity. After all, it’s harder to feel good about being generous with your home and belongings when you keep hearing stories about the guy down the street who made a killing flipping his house thanks to post-disaster price inflation. Or the people buying up property in smoldering Paradise at bargain-basement prices. Or the developer who was fast-tracking plans to build a gated community outside of Paradise without public input or review — while seemingly having his luxury project subsidized with taxpayer dollars earmarked for disaster response.

It is experiences like these that have taught many Chico residents that, in the real world, climate action cannot be pried apart from the need to transform an economic model that systematically puts private profits above the public good. They have seen firsthand that while most people very much want to help their fellow humans after disasters, sustaining that empathetic impulse beyond the initial emergency takes more than good will. It takes good policy, alongside serious public investments.

Which brings us back to the Chico Green New Deal and its plan for green jobs, public transit, local food, reduced car traffic, and more affordable housing. As Brown puts it, a major lesson from the Camp Fire is that “one of the things we can expect is displacement” — people being forced to move from one community to another. Which is part of why investing in affordable housing is central to Chico’s climate plan.

But that lesson goes well beyond Chico. With drought and sea-level rise already making large swaths of our warming planet uninhabitable, we have entered an era in which more and more people are going to have to live together on less and less land. If we don’t want that to plunge our societies deeper into xenophobic backlash, we will all have to rapidly embrace the kind of policies and supports that will help us live in these denser settlements without turning on one another.

One thing we most certainly cannot do is advance approaches to the climate crisis that make life more costly and most stressful — which, unfortunately, is precisely what too many climate policies have done. For 25 years, governments have been trying to find solutions to this crisis that did not clash with “free market” orthodoxies of deregulation, privatization, low taxes for the rich, and public austerity. And so, for instance, instead of telling polluters that they need to leave vast amounts of carbon in the ground (dismissed for years as “command-and-control” regulation), governments introduced emission trading schemes that created clever markets in pollution or imposed carbon taxes at the point of consumption. Instead of encouraging the use of clean public transit by making it better and more affordable (or even free) and tightly restricting the use of cars in cities, they argued over helpful but inadequate fuel efficiency standards and allowed transit fares to go up. Instead of nationalizing key sectors, like electricity and trains, that needed to embrace forms of change that do not necessarily return big profits to shareholders, they allowed for-profit companies to pay lip service to their plans to decarbonize while increasing rates.

There are a couple of problems with this approach. The first is that even when they do succeed in lowering emissions, they don’t do it on anything like the scale required to prevent climate breakdown. The other problem is that because these types of policies consistently offload the costs of transition onto already overburdened workers and consumers, while letting polluters off the hook, they almost invariably generate backlash.

We saw it in France with the Yellow Vest movement in response to a fuel tax. We are seeing it in Chile right now, which is being rocked by a popular revolt that began when the government of Sebastián Piñera increased the price of public transit, in part to defray the costs of purchasing a fleet of climate-friendly electric buses. We are seeing similar uprisings in Ecuador and Haiti, where the initial spark was cuts to fuel subsidies that made energy more expensive for the poor.

Increases in the prices of energy and transit are not the true causes of these popular mobilizations, not by any means. But in societies exhausted by policies of systemic immiseration imposed by corrupt elites, additional costs passed onto the public while inequality widens is most certainly proving a powerful catalyst.

The message, from Chico to Chile, is clear: If the responses to the climate crisis do not simultaneously begin to repair the wrenching injustices and inequalities that scar and strain our world, they have no hope of success. The bottom line is that people are already under too much stress and strain to take any more.

A Green New Deal-style approach — which fuses the battle against planet-warming pollution with the kinds of universalist health, housing, and transit policies that make daily life less stressful and more humane — is not, therefore, one of many possible climate solutions. Having exhausted every other option, it is the only kind of climate response that stands a chance of not going up in smoke.

Put bluntly, we will not do what is required to confront the climate emergency unless we are willing to confront the economic and social emergencies produced by decades of neoliberal policy. Or, as Stemen said, “For Chico, a Green New Deal is a way that we can have housing that both the people and planet can afford.”

Because it isn’t only our dry and overheated forests and grasslands that are tinderboxes, just waiting for a tiniest spark to go up in flames. All around the world, our human societies, scorched under the stresses of late capitalism, are political tinderboxes as well.

In the short window that remains, we need policies capable putting out all these flames.

The post Forged in Fire: California’s Lessons for a Green New Deal appeared first on The Intercept.

KYIV COMMUNIQUÉ

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 07/11/2019 - 6:28am in

On the Environmental Impact and Economic Sustainability of Nord Stream 2 and Other Sub-Marine Natural Gas Pipelines

Kyiv, November 6, 2019

 

Summary

Representatives of the Ukraine National Academy of Sciences, National Technical University of Ukraine, Ukrainian National Forestry University, Naftogaz Board for Science and Technologies, Institute of Market Problems and Ecological Economics Research, Ukrainian Institute for the Future, and scholars from France, Italy, and the USA convened at the Presidium of the Ukraine National Academy of Sciences in Kyiv on 1 February 2019 to consider the environmental and economic issues associated with the Nord Stream 2 (NS 2) pipeline project. The resulting communiqué, refined in subsequent months and released on 6 November 2019, underlines the urgency of interdisciplinary research on the impact of NS 2 and other international sub-marine natural gas pipeline projects. We call for a detailed assessment of the environmental impacts, microeconomic efficiency, and macroeconomic sustainability of NS 2, as well as its consistency with international laws and agreements.

Signing of the Kyiv Communique

Drafting of the Kyiv Communiqué

 

Background

Construction, operation, and decommissioning of natural gas pipelines, as well as the indirect effects at each stage, must be viewed within the context of sustainability for present and future generations. Pipelines such as NS 2 are proposed and defended on the basis that they are useful for economic growth. However, it has become increasingly apparent in the 21st century that economic growth (increasing production and consumption of goods and services in the aggregate, indicated by growing GDP) is not perpetually sustainable and is causing serious environmental and economic problems in Europe, Asia, and the world. Therefore, it is entirely feasible that NS 2 would cause more problems than it would solve.

European authorities have already condemned the project. For example, the European Parliament’s Resolution of December 12, 2018 (Clause 79) “condemns the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline” and “calls for the project to be cancelled.” NS 2 is also under intense scrutiny pursuant to the fourth revision of the EU Commission’s Gas Directive (published February 4, 2019). The Gas Directive prescribes rules governing the EU’s internal gas market, and the revision extends the Directive’s applicability to pipelines from third countries.

NS 2 is also subject to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (UN 2015), the Paris Agreement (2015), the Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982), the Espoo Convention (1991), and the Convention on Biological Diversity (1992). These and other international obligations of NS 2 host countries include extensive environmental impact assessment, avoidance of environmental damage, and mitigation or compensation for damages already caused, all in the context of international collaboration and jurisdiction.

Despite the strong objections to NS 2 and the environmental obligations in force for its host countries, some NS 2 project activities have already commenced. This has created a situation of urgency with regard to NS 2 investigation, oversight, monitoring, and the enforcement of European and other international agreements.

We call attention especially to the need for advanced, interdisciplinary research of NS 2, with application to other large-scale natural gas projects. An international scientific team is needed to incorporate expertise in fields such as geology, climatology, limnology, biochemistry, wildlife ecology, conservation biology, and related natural sciences. Principles of ecological economics⁠—micro and macro—must be applied, and relevant principles and rules of international law and diplomacy must be explored in the attempt to ascertain the relative merits and legality of NS 2.

 

Establishment of International NS 2 Research Consortium

With beginning membership identified below, we hereby establish an international scientific consortium of experts under the umbrella of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and within the framework of the International Institute-Association of Regional Ecological Problems (IIAREP). The IIAREP “NS 2 Research Consortium” will:

  1. Elaborate a program of interdisciplinary research on the impact of NS 2 and other sub­-marine gas pipelines on the environment, energy security, economic sustainability, and social welfare of Europe, the broader region, and the global community.
  2. Describe the risks of NS 2 to human health and ecosystems as such and as a result of the prevalence of chemical and conventional munitions on or in the Baltic Seabed.
  3. Provide an analysis of international and European law relevant to NS 2 and other sub­-marine gas pipelines;
  4. Assess the consistency of NS 2 with the relevant international and environmental laws.
  5. Assess the feasibility of multilateral instruments that provide for Ukraine’s participation in ongoing and future Baltic sub-marine pipeline negotiations.
  6. Assist if necessary with the development of:
    1. a moratorium on the implementation of NS 2;
    2. mechanisms for compensatory payments to parties aggrieved by premature, ongoing, or future NS 2 project activities, and;
    3. educational programs in ecological economics to highlight the unsustainability of perpetual economic growth and large-scale, sub-marine gas pipelines.
  7. Call upon the relevant European states, institutions, industries, and non-governmental organizations for political and financial support for Consortium activities while stressing the necessity of transparent and independent assessment consistent with the transdisciplinary principles of ecological economics.

 

Signatures and Parties

Signatures

 

 

Print the official Kyiv Communiqué

 

 

The post KYIV COMMUNIQUÉ appeared first on Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy.


Carbon Taxes and Carbon Pricing Are Not Solutions to the Climate Crisis

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 07/11/2019 - 1:55am in

A short-form debunking of a popular but unsound idea for addressing carbon emissions.

Does Anybody Really Believe the Tories’ Fracking Halt Isn’t an Election Stunt?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 06/11/2019 - 2:42am in

I know this story is a few days old, but it bears repeating, if only only to remind everyone that Tories are flagrant liars. On Monday, Mike put up a piece commenting on the Tories’ decision to stop fracking. But only for the moment. It’s just a temporary halt, while they consider the situation. Both Andrew Adonis and Jeremy Corbyn called it out as an election stunt. Adonis said that the ban would last all the way until December 13th, the day after the election. Corbyn added that Labour really would ban fracking. And that would be the real change. He also reminded people that BoJob had called fracking ‘glorious news for humanity’ and that we couldn’t trust him. No, we can’t. And certainly not the people in the areas where they’re drilling for shale gas, who’ve suffered earth tremors and other disastrous environmental effects.

And Labour’s Rebecca Long-Bailey made some very acute observations on the way Andrea Leadsom had phrased the news. She described fracking as ‘a glorious opportunity’ and the decision to halt it ‘a disappointment’. Long Bailey said that usually the Tories wait until after an election before breaking their promises, but this time they’ve made a U-turn within hours of announcing it. She also concluded that this showed they had no intention of stopping fracking, and it was all an electoral stunt.

As did Mike, who wrote

So the choice is simple: A makeshift, make-believe, pretend freeze on this dangerous process under the Tories that will last until just after the general election – or a genuine ban under Labour.

Boris Johnson is a proven liar. Jeremy Corbyn is known to keep his word.

Who do you believe?

Election 2019: Tory halt on fracking condemned as a lie and a stunt

There shouldn’t be any question about it. Johnson’s a liar, and the Tories have lied again and again. Johnson said that the NHS was not on the table in his Brexit negotiations with Donald Trump. Except it was, and there were six secret meetings about it between British and American negotiators. He has said that the Tories intend to build 40 new hospitals, but they’ve only got real funding for six, and about 120 hospitals are also set to close. They’ve also claimed that they’re not privatising the NHS, but the majority of services are now contracted to private healthcare companies. Tweezer lied so much that a London Ska band released a song attacking her for her mendacity, suitably called ‘Liar, Liar’.

And remember when Dodgy Dave Cameron and Iain Duncan Cough were campaigning for the 2010 election, and were leading campaigns to save hospitals from closure? That lasted all the way until Cameron got into No. 10. As did his promise to lead the ‘greenest government ever’. The environment was going to be protected, right up to the point where he became Prime Minister.

And this is another empty promise from a government known for lying.

The Free Market Won’t Free Us From Our Collective Challenges, Especially Global Warming

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 05/11/2019 - 7:25am in

For the first time in our history, the climate crisis and how to combat it is the issue dominating the presidential debate. Many Democratic candidates have released climate proposals that seek to reduce carbon emissions in order to align with recommendations made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Progressives should applaud the collective Aha! moment that is unfolding but caution that the details of these proposals must be careful not to exacerbate the power that markets and corporations hold over our economy. The market-led approach that has prevented climate action for decades should not and cannot lead us forward. 

The ideological and political shift in the 1970s and 1980s toward neoliberalism was a key driver of the climate crisis, and policies built on those same market-led ideals will not save us. To tackle the existential threat we face today, it is essential that we first understand how we got here. In a new Roosevelt report, Transcending Neoliberalism: How the Free Market Myth Has Prevented Climate Action, Mark Paul and Anders Fremstad provide a thorough account of how neoliberalism has contributed to climate inaction and enabled polluters to fuel climate change denialism. Specifically, they point to three core tenets that, taken together, have hindered “our collective ability to address the climate crisis”: a decentralized democracy, weak public investment, and a deregulated economy.

Together, each of these tenets has exacerbated inequality, stifled economic growth, and distorted the public consensus on public power and what government can accomplish. 

A decentralized democracy forces local and state governments to compete with one another to attract fossil fuel businesses, weakened federal public investment literally keeps money out of climate action and puts the onus on state governments to act with far fewer resources, and the push for a deregulated economy means that we cannot hold corporations accountable for the pollution they cause. 

This ideology is harmful to all corners of our economy and society, as our New Rules report lays out in detail. Ultimately, our ability to halt the climate crisis is limited by the reality that its effects are largely irreversible—natural resources cannot be recreated; warming cannot be undone, only slowed; and melting ice caps, causing rising sea levels, cannot be refrozen.  Outsized market and corporate power will continue to hinder a solution unless we shed the ideology that empowers and enables these forces to act in their own interest. 

It is true that climate-change denial is an increasingly fringe opinion in today’s world, but those in denial of neoliberalism’s harmful consequences are in strong numbers and on both sides of the aisle. An effective response to the climate crisis—and to our economic and democracy crises more broadly—first means an ideological moment of reckoning. It will also require the federal government to address climate change head on, using significant public investment, meaningful and enforceable regulation, and federal leadership. The alternative is an unlivable planet for future generations and drastic economic costs in the near term.

The post The Free Market Won’t Free Us From Our Collective Challenges, Especially Global Warming appeared first on Roosevelt Institute.

The winners of the 2019 Schools Economics Challenge

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 05/11/2019 - 4:07am in

Why is addressing climate change so difficult?

That’s the question we posed in the 2019 Schools Economics Challenge, in which we partnered with the Financial Times for Schools. Teams were challenged to create an accessible and entertaining short video, making use of The Economy (if you’re wondering what we have to say about the climate emergency, you’ll find it in Unit 20, “The Economics of the Environment”.

Winner: Dulwich College Shanghai

(£1,000 for the school and £500 Amazon vouchers for students)

 
Dulwich College Shanghai studentsCongratulations to (left to right) Fredric Kong, Aria Jain, Jonathan Dragon, Cherry But, Dominic Woetzel, and Titan Tsui for a video that the judges decided was “clearly willing to both raise and critique theories that matter”. It was “interesting and well-structured … The students displayed an ability to engage critically with the question and to back up their arguments.”

You can see for yourself:

“I believe that students, the voice of the future, should become more engaged in environmental protection and speaking out about the importance of reducing climate change,” Titan says, “The challenge has encouraged me to think outside the box and has given me the skills needed to break those complex issues apart and to see the issue from another perspective. The challenge augmented my analytical skills, but has also made me a more open-minded person.”

“With the CORE SEC, our team was introduced to the imperfect markets which characterise much of reality. In developing countries with weaker institutions and less developed infrastructure, these imperfect markets are more prevalent and likely to make internalising the externality more difficult … this is a testament to the social and political importance of economics,” Fredric adds.

Fiona Charnley, the head of Business and Economics at Dulwich College Shanghai, submitted the entry on behalf of her students. “We see economics as a dynamic subject so links between theory and real world application are very much encouraged in class discussions, and also in assessment tasks,” she says, “The team are very much engaged with sustainability and see the video as an opportunity to spread important information about the challenges of addressing climate change.”

Second place: Toldy Ferenc Gimnázium, Budapest

(£750 for the school and £300 Amazon vouchers for students)

Balázs Bellus, Rozi Lili Mezei, Bence Kis, and Zsombor Zilahy submitted their own very creative animation, including what one judge called “a unique proposal for a new international organisation to help coordinate and even implement climate policies”. As another judge commented: “It is inspiring to hear the students come up with their own ideas on how to tackle climate change.”

Third place: Merchant Taylors’ School, London

(£500 for the school and £200 Amazon vouchers for students)

The video from Bert Edwards, Zak Torns, William Bettridge, and James Tillotson was partly recorded on location in central London on the evening of the global climate strike. It broke new ground for student video competition winners by working in a reference to the Treaty of Westphalia. Judges were also impressed by “a great understanding of core concepts in modern economics.”

Winner, collaborative entry: Hammersmith Academy and St Paul’s Boys School, London

(£1,000 for each school and £500 Amazon vouchers for students)

Each year, participating schools may each enter one additional collaborative entry with another local school. This year the winning collaboration was submitted by Lorena Russo, Luke Polmear, James Allen, and Kourosh Chaharsough Shirazi.

Judges praised a “wide range of economic theory”, including discussion of lobbying power and politics, and “one of the few videos to use game theory and explain it well to a general audience.”

 

Congratulations to the winners, thanks for all your entries. And if you are a teacher and want to help your students investigate the data behind the climate emergency, why not investigate our Doing Economics projects on the topic?

The post The winners of the 2019 Schools Economics Challenge appeared first on CORE.

WATCH: Banking Nature

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 05/11/2019 - 3:00am in

Did you know an entire banking system is evolving that deals with something even less real than fiat-money? That buys up land on which - allegedly - endangered creatures live and then sells the 'credits' it gives itself for 'saving' this land as offsets to other businesses - so they have what amounts to a licence to pollute and destroy?

Monsanto Wins $7.7 Billion Lawsuit in Brazil – but Farmers’ Fight to Stop its ‘Amoral’ Royalty System Will Continue

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 04/11/2019 - 10:25pm in

Monsanto wins $7.7 billion Brazil lawsuit - thus preventing farmers from saving seeds for replanting if the seeds are harvested from Monsanto’s patented Roundup Ready soybeans,.

Agrochemical Apocalypse

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 04/11/2019 - 2:00pm in

Colin Todhunter The renowned author and whistleblower Evaggelos Vallianatos describes British environmentalist and campaigner Dr Rosemary Mason as a “defender of the natural world and public health.” I first came across her work a few years ago. It was in the form of an open letter she had sent to an official about the devastating environmental …

Flip Flop: UK Halts Fracking in England, Effective Immediately, Over Earthquake Fears

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 04/11/2019 - 1:55am in

UK halts all fracking in England with immediate effect. On its face, a big win, but will the Tories make the moratorium permanent?

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