All Articles Tagged "Climate Change"
Climate talks between 190 countries began today in Lima, Peru, with greenhouse gas emissions atop the agenda. With the globe readying to call this the warmest year on record, some major players — the US, China and the European Union — have already signed on for limits to emissions.
“To have a decent chance of reversing the warming trend before the planet hits the 2-degree mark, the world needs to slash emissions by 40 percent to 70 percent by 2050 and to near-zero by the end of the century, according to the panel’s assessments,” says ABC News. Renewables are now becoming more appealing, and more countries are preparing to foot the bill for not just maintaining the planet but reversing the damage we’ve already done.
Individuals aren’t waiting, and neither are politicians, community leaders and civic organizations. On November 10 and 11, African-American religious leaders gathered in Oakland, CA for the first ever Green the Church Summit in which, according to a statement from Rev. Dr. Ambrose Carroll, Green the Church founder, “our brightest minds are coming together to take on the challenge of protecting God’s creation and keeping our communities safe from climate change.”
We followed up with a few questions via email to learn more about what the group will be doing and why they’re getting involved. Below are responses from Green For All’s Director of Education and Outreach, Julian Mocine-McQueen.
MadameNoire: What were the main takeaways from the event?
Julian Mocine-McQueen: Pastors spoke about the moral imperative to fight climate change and prevent the massive human suffering it will bring. Thirty churches and one seminary signed Green The Church commitment cards, agreeing to work closely with their congregations on sustainability and climate change.
MN: Why is it important for the clergy to have a voice in this discussion?
JMM: The African American church has historically served as a moral leader on the most pressing issues of our time—from voting rights to gun violence. The church isn’t going to now sit aside and watch as polluters jeopardize the health and safety of our children and grandchildren.
Climate change not only imperils the most marvelous natural features of God’s creation, it threatens to cause human suffering of a magnitude that we cannot tolerate. Worldwide, we are facing severe drought, famine, disease, and disasters as a result of our climate crisis.
MN: What are some next steps?
JMM: One action on the near horizon that we’re asking folks to take is to send a comment to the Environmental Protection Agency letting them know they support strong carbon pollution safeguards. These carbon safeguards would go a long way to fighting climate change and protecting our communities. You can find out more at www.epa.gov.
MN: What impact do these church leaders see the environment (particularly environmental degradation) having on their congregations and communities?
JMM: Many of these churches are already working on environmental issues just as part of the day-to-day job of the church to make sure congregants are healthy and not being poisoned. Those struggles are related to the industries that are driving climate change and they understand that connection.
We had representation from a church in Richmond, CA that has struggled with pollution from the Chevron oil refinery. We had a pastor from a church in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood, which has a number of Superfund sites from the old navy shipyards. There have been a number of environmental justice issues there for years. While climate change and carbon pollution hurt everyone, the communities that many of these churches serve shoulder the greatest burden. Seventy-eight percent of African Americans live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant. Black children have an 80 percent higher rate of asthma than their White peers, and are more than three times more likely to die of the disease. These same communities are the ones hit first and worst by the superstorms, floods, drought, and disasters that climate change threatens to bring. When disaster strikes, Americans with the fewest resources have a harder time escaping, surviving, and recovering. Hurricane Katrina taught us that.
— ѕyndιcalιѕт (@syndicalisms) September 22, 2014
Protesters have taken their push for action against climate change to downtown NYC with a sit-in at the New York Stock Exchange and gatherings in the area. #FloodWallStreet is trending on Twitter, with those on the scene earlier today reporting clashes between protesters and the police. The group doesn’t have a permit for their protest, but say they’re willing to risk the legal repercussions to make their point. Arrests have happened, barricades are out and pepper spray has been used by the police.
This is day two of protests in New York, action taken to show the United Nations that there is concern — in the US and abroad — about the degradation of the environment and, by extension, our existence on the planet. Yesterday’s protest in New York brought out 300,000 according to organizers. Here’s a quick recap.
While others seem to roll their eyes at climate change buzz words such as “global warming” and “melting polar ice caps,” people of color seem to have a soft spot for the environment — 75 percent of minorities, according to a Green For All (GFA) poll, are concerned about climate change.
People of color are more likely to be concerned about the environmental hazards that threaten our biosphere because, for one, African Americans are admitted into emergency rooms for asthma at 350 percent the average rate of Whites, ThinkProgress reports. Of the six million Americans who live near a coal plant, 39 percent are residents of color. These energy sources emit carbon dioxide, a hazardous gas that experts say causes global warming.
In comparison to only 78 percent of Whites, a whopping 89 percent of Blacks support regulation on carbon dioxide pollution, according to a 2010 study conducted by the Yale Project on Climate Change and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication.
“People of color care deeply about the environment and the impacts of climate change. We understand the urgency of these threats because we experience the effects every single day,” said Nikki Silvestri, GFA’s executive director.
Nearly 70 percent of minorities, according to the GFA poll, believe that climate change is an issue that needs to be addressed now, not later.
Here’s another reason why POC support climate action: Many have immigrated to the U.S. due to being displaced by Mother Nature’s wrath in their home countries. In 2013, more than 32 million people were forced out of their homes due to natural disasters. Most of them, ThinkProgress adds, were Asians and Africans. “Firsthand experience with the impact of climate change has made minorities firm believers in climate science,” says the site.
Among those polled, 62 percent of minorities say that we are not devoting enough attention and resources to curb climate change. And that’s why voters of color gravitate towards political candidates who express urgency in climate action.
Seventy percent of POC voters are more likely to support legislators that circumvent detractors who view climate change action as some kind of affliction to the economy.
“We know that tackling climate change won’t be easy,” Silvestri said. “We’re ready to come to the table to find solutions, so we can help communities of color not only survive the next climate disaster, but leap forward and thrive.”
The climate change regulations introduced this week by the Obama administration and the Environmental Protection Agency have got everyone thinking about the consequences of the deteriorating environmental state (though there are some who still maintain that climate change isn’t happening despite the overwhelming scientific evidence). Since we all live on Earth, climate conditions impact everyone. But, like so many other things, there are ways where some people will be affected more than others.
Environmental groups, while pleased that the President and the EPA are taking steps to stop climate change, of course, wanted more. Still from Al Gore to the environmental investment group Ceres, there was positive feedback about the new regulations. Supporters say that a switch to clean energy will create jobs in solar and wind energy while we do away with harmful levels of pollution.
“This is about protecting our health and protecting our homes. This is about protecting local economies and this is about protecting jobs,” said EPA administrator Gina McCarthy during her remarks on Monday. (You can watch them in full here.)
In a May op-ed in The New York Times, Algernon Austin, the former director of the Economic Policy Institute’s Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy cites Pew Research numbers that places concern over the environment among African Americans and Hispanics at a higher level than whites. Hispanics, he writes, tend to live in places like Florida and the Caribbean where environmental issues are more noticeable. And African Americans live in communities where pollution from the burning of fossil fuels is having direct health effects, like increased cases of asthma. The Root makes a similar case, using the language of Dr. Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement to discuss the current fight against environmental devastation.
“Today it is the climate crisis—bringing famine and devastation on whole nations—that has come upon us, and the dream of a shared and sustainable abundance, that must call us into action, walking the path that King walked. We must cry out with the fierce urgency of now,” the article says.
So too is Green For All, an organization focused on creating a green economy and alleviating poverty.
“These safeguards would represent a huge victory in the fight against global warming. Carbon limits would also be welcome news for poor Americans and communities of color, who are disproportionately exposed to power plant pollution, and who are most vulnerable to the storms, disasters, and severe weather that climate change brings. We applaud the president and the EPA for acting boldly to protect America’s families and neighborhoods,” reads a statement from the group’s executive director, Nikki Silvestri.
According to Silvestri, the impact of climate change is felt more acutely by low-income communities and communities of color. She told MadameNoire in an email:
When it comes to storms and severe weather, those with the fewest resources have a harder time preparing, escaping and recovering. Nationally, African-Americans, who are more likely to live in coastal areas, are at greater risk for displacement from flooding and sea level rise. We’re also more vulnerable to heat-related deaths, which are expected to increase by 90 percent. Meanwhile, climbing food costs, crime, and illness from climate change are all expected to hit people of color and the poor hardest.
Polluting power plants are one of the largest drivers of climate change, and communities of color also bear the brunt of their health effects. Sixty-eight percent of African Americans live within 30 miles of a polluting coal plant. That might help explain why African-American kids have a much higher rate of asthma: One in six, compared with one in ten nationwide. Yesterday’s announcement of proposed carbon pollution standards represents a huge victory for these communities.
The organization’s goal is to bring members of these communities into the conversation to not just recover from a disaster, but to build systems to thrive. Moreover, they’d like to drive investment in green jobs in these areas.
“In the long run, the economic stability these jobs create will do more than just about anything to fortify communities on the front lines,” Silvestri’s comments conclude.
Rush Limbaugh is at it again, this time taking aim at the polar vortex. On Monday, the shock jock took to the airwaves to denounce the polar vortex as a political hoax. The polar vortex that has had most of the country in a deep freeze for much of the past few days, according to Limbaugh, is part of a liberal conspiracy to pressure people into believing the science behind climate change.
Al Roker was having none of it. Offering us all a basic meteorology lesson on Twitter, the morning news host posted an image from his 1950s meteorology college textbook with the section on the polar vortex circled.
“Let me tell you something, we’ve never used the phrase ‘global warming’ or ‘climate change’ in conjunction with the polar vortex,” Roker said this morning.
“So for all the doubters out there: Stuff it!” he concluded.
Separately but related, Jon Stewart took a few moments on The Daily Show the other night to sound off on climate change deniers, including members of Congress, who think that just because it’s cold out global warming can’t be happening. Sigh.
But back to the polar vortex, CNN says the polar vortex is being pushed back up to Canada, so the US will be seeing warmer temperatures by Saturday, when most places will be back to average temperatures. The extreme weather is being blamed for 22 deaths.
Last night, President Obama gave the first State of the Union address of his second term (we live tweeted it here) and he raced through a number of big issues that he’d like to see Congress act on in the coming months. One of those issues, and possibly most unexpected, was a higher minimum wage.
But there were others that will be up for debate — among Congresspeople and voters alike. Here, we outline nine of the big ones. And in the comments, feel free to chime in with your thoughts and debate. That’s democracy at work!
(Black Enterprise) — Former President Bill Clinton on Tuesday warned of the growing devastation of the global economic downturn and said the dangers posed by natural disasters around the world had been increased by the effects of climate change.
The former president spoke in New York on the first day of the annual Clinton Global Initiative. The conference brings together leaders from government, business and philanthropy, who make financial commitments aimed at tackling poverty and disease around the world.