Good news: one person CAN do something about the climate crisis. One of the most effective actions is to spread the word!
Our task at this moment, spring 2019, is to rapidly build public backing for necessary immediate and aggressive solutions. The coming months are crucial to elevating climate to an important voter issue in the next election.
Start by understanding the basic problem, the basic reasons that global warming has been allowed to proceed, and the basic solutions.
Then talk to your family, friends, co-workers.
Clear & sharable Q & A from the New York Times:
[3/21/19: page in progress…more to come]
We need a nation-wide Green New Deal, and we need Massachusetts Green New Deal. for our state. This page will be updated with organizing opportunities and actions. Last update: 4/1/2019
!ACTION: Senator Markey is getting intense pushback about sponsoring the Green New Deal. Call his office to voice your support:
413-785-4610 / 202-224-2742
!ACTION: APRIL 22 Green New Deal Forum focusing on local and state applications on Earth Day, April 22 in Northampton. Earlier in the day, Earth Dance downtown will preceed a march from downtown to the high school.
2 pm – 5 pm Earth Dance starting in front of First Churches Northampton, 129 Main Street (in the sanctuary in case of inclement weather). An afternoon of music, dance and theater promoting principles of the Green New Deal.
5 pm – 6 pm People’s March for Climate Action from First Churches to Northampton High School, 380 Elm St. The public is invited to carry signs, banners and flags in support of the Green New Deal.
6 pm – 7:30 pm Green New Deal Forum in the Northampton High School auditorium. Students from the NHS Environmental Club and the Northampton Sunrise Hub will present the principles of the Green New Deal and question local political leaders. Guests, including US Congressman James McGovern, State Senator Jo Comerford, Mayor David Narkewicz and Community Action Pioneer Valley Director Clare Higgins, will speak about possibilities for the Green New Deal at all levels of our government. This forum is part of the Sunrise Road to a Green New Deal Tour.
Green New Deal Policy Group: The New Consensus
Read the Official Congressional Resolution
The GND & The case against incremental climate policy
“The only way Democrats can hope to pass climate legislation is by radically shaking up the status quo balance of powers. ” 3/28/19 David Roberts, Vox
Podcast with the Policy Lead at New Consensus
Climate Justice and the Green New Deal
This article is very interesting and talks a lot about the justice piece of the GND :http://harvardpolitics.com/united-states/time-for-climate-justice/
Green New Deal for Massachusetts
PRESS ADVISORY PRESS ADVISORY PRESS ADVISORY
From: Climate Action Now
Date: November 20, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
“Constituents of Congressman McGovern encourage him to support the ‘Green New Deal’”
South Deerfield, MA. Constituents of Congressman James McGovern concerned about the threat of catastrophic climate change will join him in as he walks through the rain and snow in Monte’s March IX. The Congressman is on the second day of the walk to end hunger from Springfield to Greenfield on behalf of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. The climate group, including Valley young people, will ask him to support the creation of a federal Green New Deal that would quickly convert our nation’s energy system from fossil fuels to conservation and renewable sources. They will ask him to sign on to the Resolution to create a House Select Committee on a Green New Deal. They will join him in South Deerfield near Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory around 3 pm today.
Today has been designated the Day of Action for the Green New Deal, sponsored by the national youth-based Sunrise Movement. Recently members of the group sat in in Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s office demanding immediate action to stop greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change that has already brought megastorms to the Gulf of Mexico and uncontrolled fires in California. Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joined them and together the group proposed that Pelosi, if elected Speaker in the new Congress in January, establish the House Select Committee on a Green New Deal to formulate a Plan for a Green New Deal to be implemented beginning in January, 2020.
A recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has lent extreme urgency to the effort to stop burning fossil fuels. It stated that, to avoid the catastrophic climate change coincident with a rise in global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius, emissions must be reduced by 40% by 2030 and to net zero by 2050. At present, the Trump Administration’s policies are founded on denial of the threat of climate change and are geared to expanding the burning of coal, oil and gas, thus increasing carbon dioxide and methane emissions.
Today is Congressman McGovern’s birthday, and the climate marchers will wish him a happy birthday, support his walk against hunger and encourage him to continue a long history of championing environmental efforts by signing on to the Resolution.
Published in the Hampshire Daily Gazette August 02, 2018
I really want to write good news. Honestly and personally, I hate heat and I hate suffering. And I hate rants. I want to write joyously about how what we are doing in cutting greenhouse gas emissions is decreasing CO2 and methane levels and fulfilling the biospheric need for a stable climate.
No such luck. The reality is that the planet itself is hot and suffering and beginning to rant, if we will listen. Last month, a Washington Post weather story began with the sentence, “From the normally mild summer climes of Ireland, Scotland and Canada to the scorching Middle East to Southern California, numerous locations in the Northern Hemisphere have witnessed their hottest weather ever recorded.” Fifty-four people died in the heat wave in Canada, and the thermometer hit 90 degrees in Northern Siberia on July 5, 40 degrees above normal. That same day, temperatures seem to have risen to the highest ever recorded on the African continent, at 124 degrees in Ouargla, Algeria. The heat surpassed or tied all-time records across North America and in Europe: from Los Angeles to Denver, Burlington and Montreal, and across the Atlantic to cities in Scotland and Ireland. Quriyat, Oman, posted the highest daily low temperature ever recorded on June 28: 109 degrees.
Our planet has a fever. The inconvenient truth is that global warming and climate chaos are happening. Heat and drought have resulted in fire seasons throughout the American West that now start three months earlier than in the past. But again, it is a world-wide phenomenon: flames are incinerating towns and forests from Redding, Calif., to Athens to northern Sweden above the Arctic Circle, each fire producing more emissions and more heat to compound the problem.
Probably our ancestors’ greatest accomplishment, the one that contributed most uniquely to the survival and dominance of our species, was control of fire. Now the effort to stop the burning of carbon to carbon dioxide poses the greatest challenge to the sustainability of life.
In the face of the crisis, leaders continue to sort themselves. There are the “climate change-makers” (ironic, since they are also the deniers). Donald Trump and his administration just last week announced a full-mouth tooth extraction from the Endangered Species Act, paving the way for more deforestation, mining, building and drilling while he ushers threatened animals and plants into extinction. For the first time since the Act’s adoption in 1973, economic impact (read profit) is to be weighed in decisions to protect species at risk, and states, who have closer ties to eager developers and drillers, will have a say in the process. Local author Elizabeth Kolbert wrote The Sixth Extinction, which reviews humanity’s startlingly rapid destruction of the planet’s flora and fauna, equivalent to only five previous known episodes of species collapse in all of Earth’s 4.5 billion-year history. Responding to Trump’s plan, she quoted Congressman Raul Grijalva, who described it as “part of the endless special favors the White House and Department of the Interior are willing to do for their industry friends.”
Grijalva is right of course. The announcement and coordinated acts by Congressional Republicans augmented the news that the administration overall has drastically cut penalties for corporate wrongdoing compared to the Obama Administration. The worst decrease in fines not surprisingly came from the Environmental Protection Agency, which lowered them by a stunning 94 percent, from $29 billion in 2016 to a measly $1.9 billion in 2017. So even if regulations are broken under the new, hobbled Endangered Species Act, violators have little to fear.
The opposition to Trump’s plundering sports an admirable lineup, though. Recently Massachusetts’ Maura Healey joined six other state attorneys general demanding that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for the first time consider the environmental costs, including climate change, of building new gas pipelines. FERC is responsible for licensing new fossil fuel infrastructure, and to call it a pushover is to be kind. Since 1999, FERC has approved around 400 natural gas pipeline projects and rejected only two. In that time enough pipeline has been built to deliver nearly twice the average daily consumption of natural gas in the U.S., 40 billion cubic feet greater even than the peak demand per day during the 2014 “Polar Vortex” cold snap. “By determining public benefit without regard to adverse environmental impacts and without consideration of the climate harm caused by a project, the Commission is failing to meet its obligations…,” AG Healey stated in her comments.
So, Trump wants corporations to have control over saving species and the AGs want those who breathe air and desire a livable climate to have a say in building fossil fuel infrastructure of questionable value.
Then there is the case of Massachusetts House Democratic leadership and Speaker Robert Deleo. They had the opportunity this session to join the Senate in legislating crucial greenhouse gas emissions reductions. Yet so far, they have refused to step up to the plate. The Senate passed a clean energy bill that would: rapidly increase the renewable energy portion of our state’s electricity supply (the Renewable Portfolio Standard or RPS) sufficient to reach 100 percent by 2050; remove the net metering caps that are halting solar projects and killing our solar industry; provide the full benefits of solar energy to low income and renting families; increase offshore wind production by 5,000 MW and establish environmental justice principles in law. In return, the House offered up… a northingburger. What finally came out of the Conference Committee was a pitiful compromise: only a 2 percent rise per year in the RPS for 10 years starting in 2020; the possibility of 1600 MW more offshore wind power; and no action on the caps to net metering or the barriers to low-income people needing solar energy. Moreover, final bill incentivized the burning of trash as an energy source, allowing it to continue polluting Massachusetts air, usually in the poorest neighborhoods.
A group of us spent quite a bit of volunteer time last week calling voters to ask that they urge their state representatives to demand action in the Conference Committee. More than once, I heard comments like, “You mean my progressive state doesn’t have these things already?! What’s going on?”
What’s going on is a fight to the death, literally, to protect vested interests and their status quo against the survival needs of future generations.
There are a lot more of us than there are of them. How do we sort out?
Marty Nathan MD is a mostly-retired Family Practitioner at Baystate Brightwood Health Center, a mother and a grandmother. She is a steering committee member of Climate Action Now and the Springfield Climate Justice Coalition. She offers many thanks to Adele Franks for her information and editing.
Published on MassLive.com Posted Aug 8
Click here for story with photos https://www.masslive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2018/08/climate_change_maria_and_negle.html
By Marty Nathan and Jomarie Ramirez
For two years we have known that the world is hotter than it has been for the last 115,000 years. The planet’s mean temperature has risen by 0.9 degrees Centigrade (1.6 degrees Fahrenheit) almost half way to the two-degree C upper limit that triggers geological feedback loops on a grand scale – melting of the Arctic tundra and sea ice, forest destruction and death of microscopic marine life – processes that will by themselves spew huge amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
This summer we have seen and felt the heat. We in Springfield were scorched by near-100-degree temperatures early in the summer. The south-central US – Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana – saw heat indices approaching 115 degrees this week and nearly 35 million Americans carried out their lives under excessive heat warnings. Most alarming, there were fires in Sweden, where temperatures went above 90 degrees north of the Arctic Circle.
There are no reputable scientists today that dispute either climate change or its human cause. The drilling and burning of fossil fuels have been putting unprecedented amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the air and creating a blanket over the Earth that prevents heat escape into space.
Now the results are rolling in, faster than was earlier predicted, and those left “holding the bag”, suffering for fossil fuel company profits, are the people who can least afford it and are least responsible.
Rising temperatures are breeding more powerful storms. Before 2017, New Orleans was the poster child for climate injustice. After Hurricane Katrina hit the City in 2004 it was the inhabitants of the Lower Ninth Ward, mostly black, very poor and unprotected, who died when the levies broke. Prevention of the flooding, evacuation of the victims and then cleanup and rebuilding were all neglected because these were the people with the least political and economic clout in the region. Over 1,800 people died and tens of thousands were scattered across the country, our first internal climate refugees.
There should never be competition for misery, but the story of Katrina has now been replaced in extent of devastation and neglect by that of the people of Puerto Rico battered and killed by Hurricane Maria in September 2017.
When Donald Trump met with Governor Ricardo Rossello in San Juan after the storm, he threw paper towels at men and women without shelter, and congratulated FEMA and his own administration for a death toll reported at that time as “only sixteen”.
But as the months went on and on and tarps were not delivered, floods were not drained, electricity, roads and buildings were not repaired, people continued to die from the effects of the storm. Climate change gave Maria its force but neglect by the United States government caused the deaths from heat, unclean water and lack of phone service, oxygen, refrigeration, medicines, transportation, and adequate food. A Harvard study in June estimated that there were 4,645 deaths attributable to the damage caused by the storm unrepaired by a disaster relief effort that was too little too late.
The blatant inadequacy of federal response was documented by other investigators from Politico who compared the efforts in Texas after the 2017 Hurricane Harvey with those that met Maria. They found that “the Trump administration — and the president himself — responded far more aggressively to Texas than to Puerto Rico. FEMA and the Trump administration exerted a faster, and initially greater, effort in Texas, even though the damage in Puerto Rico exceeded that in Houston.”
* It took six days from Hurricane Harvey to get more than 70 helicopters above the Texas coast delivering emergency supplies and saving lives, but over three weeks to fly the same number of helicopters over Puerto Rico.
* Nine days after each hurricane FEMA had approved $142 million for Harvey victims but only $6.2 million for Maria victims. Three times as many FEMA personnel had arrived, and they had delivered three times as many meals, twice as much water, and four times as many tarps in Houston as in Puerto Rico.
* It took just ten days for FEMA to approve permanent disaster aid for Texas compared with forty-three days for the Island.
There are arguments that the relief efforts in Puerto Rico were hampered by its geography as an island and its already-impoverished infrastructure crumbling further because of the austerity imposed by financial crisis. But we are talking about a country, the United States, that could deliver “Shock and Awe” half-way around the world if it wants to engage in war. And most Puerto Ricans would argue that the financial crisis was largely a product of unfair deals made with US banks by corrupt officials, leaving the Island deeply in debt and having to sacrifice its educational, medical and power infrastructure to its colonial financiers on the mainland to pay the debt.
The results? The Island has suffered mass out-migration, with more than 135,000 having left the Island by March and a half million expected to have moved to the mainland by 2019 due to the effects of the storm. Those who arrived in the US impoverished and desperate are now facing eviction from the motels and hotels where they were sheltered without jobs, family or other options.
On the other hand, rich speculators working with local officials are exploiting the financial desperation of those left whose businesses, farms and jobs have been disrupted by the storm. They are closing schools and medical facilities, privatizing electricity for corporate profit, and buying up land dirt cheap to create, as one journalist dubbed it, “A Playground for the Privileged”. In June there were 55,000 homes in foreclosure and developers are replacing them with luxury homes and hotels for tourists.
This is the new face of climate injustice: lives lost and families made refugees while their homes are replaced by golf courses and pools for the rich. Climate change brings moral challenges. Are we up to them?
Marty Nathan, MD, is an almost-retired family physician at Baystate Brightwood Health Center and a member of Springfield Climate Justice Coalition.
Jomarie Ramirez is a long-time resident and activist in Springfield who recently returned from visiting her family in Puerto Rico.
My husband is rightfully proud of himself. He is an anthropologist in the process of retiring from Smith College after a distinguished career of research, writing and teaching about African pastoral nomads, people in the dryland north of Kenya who move from place to place herding their goats, cattle and camels.
He has presented his material and led discussions in conferences all around the world, from Dubrovnik to Ulaanbaatar.
With the climate crisis, we increasingly have felt the need to cut down on traveling, particularly that requiring airplane flight. We made the hard choice not to visit our daughter and her first child born in Bangkok four years ago and got some flak from friends and family about it.
But world travel was recently underlined as a threat to the environment for belching greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. Tourism has been found to produce around four times the emissions previously estimated, due both to an explosion in world travel and inclusion in the calculations of the overspending, overeating and hotel use of travelers. Not unexpectedly, the United States is number one in tourism emissions, but the Chinese are competing as their population becomes richer.
Air flight is so voraciously fossil-fuel consumptive that a single person’s round-trip flight from San Francisco to New York can create almost one-fifth of that average individual’s annual carbon footprint.
There need to be systemic fixes to halt the damage. Carbon should be priced for jet fuels to raise prices to capture the externalized costs of flight (think asthma, cardiovascular disease and climate change) with which the burning of fossil fuels burdens our society. We should fight for it.
However, that would be a federal action and — just as we must figure out ways to sidestep all the other crimes of commission and omission of the present regime — we are forced to act directly here. To fly should not be automatic but should be a well-considered choice after reviewing all the options.
My husband decided that, rather than flying to Brazil to give a 15-minute presentation, Skyping was a better option, despite the lure of the rain forest and Latin culture. There is a website for folks like him — climate scientists, activists and regular people — who won’t fly or fly less at https://noflyclimatesci.org/.
Beyond individual efforts, municipalities are increasingly taking on the load of effecting carbon-emissions cuts. We in the upper Valley have witnessed the visionary actions of the Northampton City Council’s 100 percent renewable energy resolution and Amherst Town Meeting’s zero net energy building ordinance. The former commits all energy-related decisions made by Northampton to weighing the goal of achieving our power from renewable generation. It allows us to pursue community choice energy in a coalition with Amherst and Pelham that can select our electricity supply from cleaner sources.
The Amherst ordinance has the force of law, requiring all new municipal structures to create as much energy as they consume, a huge but not impossible task.
Some may give this a ho-hum: The northern Valley is always doing these outlandishly moral things. But on Friday, Mayor DomenicSarno of Springfield made a welcome announcement long sought by residents and concerned neighbors unified in the Springfield Climate Justice.
Almost four years ago, letter-writing, marching and council-meeting speakouts had brought forth a climate justice resolution voted into effect unanimously by the City Council. It authorized a sustainability plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the city, develop the green economy and provide resiliency to climate change particularly for the most vulnerable poor neighborhoods. The plan was written with a goal of an 80 percent emissions reduction in the city by 2050. But no interim guidelines were adopted that would truly allow that goal to be reached and the mayor did not budget staff to implement it. It looked to most observers like one more study destined to gather dust on the shelves of City Hall archives. (Or to crinkle in the heat of the coming decades.)
Then, on Friday, the mayor announced that a full-time sustainability officer would be hired, and reasonable and ambitious interim goals would be adopted. This affects all of us. Springfield is the largest city and thus the largest polluter in western Massachusetts. This will make our children healthier while fighting climate change.
Going up a government level, the news is not so good. Despite Charlie Baker’s ad naming him a “clean energy champion for Massachusetts” who is “leading the charge to reduce carbon emissions,” neither Baker nor House leadership have done what should have been done this legislative session to advance full funding of public transit, adequately lift the net metering cap to incentivize rooftop solar generation, sufficiently raise the renewable portfolio standard to rapidly increase the percentage of electricity generated from clean sources, or pass a fair price on carbon in Massachusetts.
All were possible this legislative session, but Baker did nothing to make them happen. The ad is simply a lie. Baker is timid and protective of the status quo, not the governor we need in a time of climate crisis.
Hopefully, Scott Pruitt will drown in the corrupt swamp that he has created at the U.S. Environmental Protection Administration, and a new Congress will take on the necessary tasks in Washington in January. Until then, and until the end of this legislative session, keep those calls to House leadership coming in.
Demand a just climate agenda for the state while we work to implement the progressive municipal plans of western Massachusetts. And rethink that next trip.
Dr. Marty Nathan lives in Northampton and is a physician at BaystateBrightwood Health Center in Springfield. She is on the steering committee of Climate Action NOW and drinks coffee with 2degreesatgreenneighbors.earth. She may be reached at email@example.com.
Monday, June 4. 1-3 PM Court SQ Springfield. FMI contact Arise Springfield
MASS SAVE NEEDS TO BE BROADER, DEEPER AND MORE ACCOUNTABLE!
Speak out: Thursday, April 5 at 6pm in Springfield
Submit written comments: by email. See below.
We are facing a climate crisis with rising temperatures and sea levels, megastorms and droughts caused by the burning of fossil fuels. We need to cut our greenhouse gas emissions now, and by doing so, improve our air quality, our health and our energy bills.
Massachusetts is a nationwide leader in energy efficiency and conservation, which are the most cost-effective and potent means of decreasing emissions. Our energy efficiency programs are known as Mass Save, which uses the dollars taken from our electric and gas bills to fund weatherization for our houses and replacement of inefficient furnaces, refrigerators, air conditioners and lightbulbs.
It is a great start, but the electric and gas companies that make up Mass Save CAN DO BETTER, allowing us to better cut pollution, fight climate change and meet the challenges of the Global Warming Solutions and Green Communities Acts.
Energy experts are calling for:
- Accountability. Overall energy efficiency (EE) goals for the program should increase annually and be aggressive and science-based. These goals should generate penalties for the utility Program Administrators who do not reach them. Performance incentives should be tied to not only meeting, but exceeding the goals. Goal attainment must be assessed by measured results- actual energy savings– not just on estimates. These actual outcomes need to be reported to the public in a way that is easy to understand, so that we know where our dollars are going and how much of an impact they are having.
- Serving those in need. Better outreach must be made to low income and non-English-speaking households, households with disabled, elderly and people of color. Pilot programs should be designed and tested to see which are most effective in reaching those in greatest need. This should be coupled with transparency about the services that these households are actually receiving from Mass Save. Furthermore, there should be an “opt-out” policy, assigning audits to all those low income customers who qualify for LIHEAP and any discount utility rates. These customers could be offered the option to opt-out of such services, and not be burdened by having to request the energy auditing services themselves. Energy audit results from these customers should be reported, along with a listing of the remedial actions taken and the energy savings that resulted.
- Expansion of coverage. More moderate income people (up to 120% of median income) should qualify for full subsidies of all energy saving measures. These households often cannot afford to pay the remainder of the cost of the upgrades that are not subsidized by the program
- Better serving renters. Mass Save should publicly engage landlords in discussion of the benefits of energy efficiency and explore ways to grant rights to their tenants who pay their own utility bills such that the tenants can institute energy efficiency measures on their own. We suggest that the utility could prepay for such improvements and could be repaid over time through the utility bills.
- Redefine cost-effectiveness. Energy assessments and subsidized energy efficiency (EE) upgrades must be more comprehensive and science-based than the limited ones now provided. EE measures should be included that may take more than seven years to pay back in cost savings or that provide health benefits to the household and neighborhood. Contractors should be given some leeway to expand their work once on the site, according to their determination of what EE measures would have continuing benefit. Additionally, energy efficiency measures that reduce peak demand (and thus lower demand for the dirtiest, highest cost electricity) should be covered.
- Transparency. Communities should know how many households have been served each year, how many low and moderate income households were served, how many households were served in which English is not a primary language, and what specifically what services were provided. In addition, customers should be surveyed about their satisfaction with the services, and the broader population should be surveyed to determine barriers to using the Mass Save program.
- Air source heat pumps. Energy efficient air source heat pumps should be made available and heavily subsidized for those houses already benefiting from energy efficiency measures, including those households presently using gas, oil, coal or electricity for heat.
Every year, Mass Save is unable to spend all the money taken from our bills to fund energy efficiency. Mass Save needs to work more effectively, broadly and deeply, and with more transparency and accountability.
Please take your comments to the Mass Save Listening Session, 6 pm, Thursday, April 5 at the UMass Center, 1500 Main Street, Springfield. We want to pack the room and want all to speak out for our right to health and sustainability through energy efficiency. If you are interested in carpooling from the north, meet at 5pm at the Sheldon Field lot in Northampton.
Whether you are able to go to the hearing or not, please submit your comments by email by sending to: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and DOER.ENERGY@state.ma.us . In the subject line, put “Written statement for Energy Efficiency Advisory Council”. Then ask for confirmation that it will be distributed to councilors.
Published in The Hampshire Daily Gazette Wednesday, January 31, 2018
I was walking to the River Valley Co-op Sunday morning, pondering what I would say in this column, when a pickup truck narrowly missed hitting me in the Jackson Street crosswalk at Bridge Road.
The driver had run a red light and I reacted with a classic “What the …?!” pose. But then I audibly finished the phrase when the Toyota behind him followed his path and came even closer to flattening me. He yelled back at me as though I were the aggressor.
I immediately knew there were lessons here, so I will dare to spin them.
I can remember when there were fewer laws protecting pedestrians. There were not many crosswalks. Drivers had a lot more freedom to drive as and where they wanted, and since it was an unequal match — body vs. automobile — a lot of destruction was done to those on foot.
The public danger and immorality of uncontrolled car use was slowly recognized and now every city enforces pedestrian safety. Some, like the scofflaws who threatened me on Sunday, ignore the law, but by doing so they risk jail, particularly if they are successful in doing me in.
More recently the public health threat of tobacco was recognized and codified in laws throughout our country, controlling where and when people can light up, to protect us all from heart and lung disease caused by the smoke. The same should happen with guns to stop the epidemic of violence from mass and individual shootings.
They are practices that most people recognized were wrong before they were made illegal. They violated the public trust, the right to live free of threat by the actions of others. The process of codifying in law that which we know benefits society is nearly always stymied by those (big car, big tobacco, big gun) who sell and profit from lack of restriction on their product and claim they represent the civil rights of the users. Corporate advertisers have fabricated an ideology of “freedom” for the driver, smoker, gun owner.
That ideology has masked a David and Goliath (like me and the car) battle for health and safety against huge, wealthy and powerful corporations. Alert civil society is David.
Enter climate change and environmental devastation. Human rights advocates around the world recognize a fundamental right to breathe clean air in a stable climate without destructive hurricanes, massive drought with associated crop failure, rising seas and flooding, and killer heat waves. It is as basic as my right to life when I step into that crosswalk.
And yet, despite progress first made under Richard Nixon in the 1970s to convert into law that which was known to be reasonable and moral, the Trump administration and corporate friends are wiping out all the protections against climate chaos, heat and rising seas on behalf of the right of polluters to profit. Nixon’s Environmental Protective Agency and its regulations are systematically being dismantled by Trump and Scott Pruitt.
Our coastal waters, public lands and Arctic are open to drilling and despoiling with taxpayer subsidy in a mad drive for profit that will raise world temperatures well above climate tipping points that will yield uncontrollable warming.
To protect the public trust and human rights, particularly of the most vulnerable poor in our country and around the world, we must make (and sometimes remake) the laws that stop the polluting. It’s rough to do it now on the federal level, but we have 2018 elections coming soon.
In this state, there is a lot of lawmaking to be done to protect that public trust for a livable climate:
It must become expensive to pollute. There needs to be a price put on the burning of fossil fuels that begins to capture some of the externalized costs that are borne by all of us in the form of asthma and heart disease they cause as well as the climate they change. (H1726/S1821)
There must be a significant structured rise in the amount of renewable energy that we substitute for coal, gas and oil-burning in generating our electricity. (H2706/S1846)
We must defy the Trump administration’s attempt to kill solar energy development through the imposition of tariffs and instead remove Massachusetts net-metering caps that now limit panel owners’ benefiting from their investment and ensure that low-income communities have access to solar power. (H1396/S1831)
Our Department of Public Utilities, which arbitrates the structure of energy delivery, must stop acting as protectors of the gas companies, welcoming every proposed pipeline as a long-missed relative. There are better alternatives now, and the building of new fossil fuel infrastructure, using taxpayer or ratepayer funds, is a rotten investment. (H3400/S1847)
Speaking of investment, our state and our cities need to follow New York City’s lead and divest from fossil fuels. (H3281)
Poor and working people need institutionalized protection from the kind of polluting industries that tend to be sited in their communities. (H2913/S426)
These are some of the laws that we need to adopt to deal squarely with this century’s overarching public health threat, climate change. They state clearly that, when weighed against corporate profitability and the “rights” of polluters, human life and our planet’s sustainability must win in a just, democratic society.
Every Tuesday morning, I get together with good friends around a kitchen table to drink coffee, eat pastries and gossip. We also call our legislators and let them know exactly what we think should become law in our state to protect our society and our children’s future.
We request that good sense become good law. You are welcome to join us or, if you like, create your own gathering. If we recruit hundreds if not thousands of Davids, Goliath doesn’t have a chance.
Dr. Marty Nathan lives in Northampton and is a physician at BaystateBrightwood Health Center in Springfield. She is on the steering committee of Climate Action NOW and drinks coffee with 2degreesatgreenneighbors.earth. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
…read more here
Since May 31, the world is talking climate change, I am happy to say. Most of the message is angry and scornful of the Trump Administration’s plan to exit the Paris Climate Change Accord. President Trump has rejected the United States’ leadership role in preventing climate disaster in favor of continued profits for the oil, gas and coal industries. That act was the crowning blow in his battle against environmental responsibility. The offensive has included the appointment of oil well huggers Scott Pruitt, Rick Perry, Ryan Zinke and Rex Tillerson; executive orders that reopened federal lands to mining and drilling; budgetary gutting of the EPA and all other renewable energy programs: and suspension of the Clean Power Plan to cut emissions from U.S. power plants.
Trump’s ultimately leaving the Climate Change Treaty was not unexpected, but it was foolish. The biggest issue of course is its damage to the planet. A Washington consultancy, the Climate Advisors, predicts that Trump’s climate policy will cause U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, which have been falling, to begin to flatten or increase by 2020, and to inject an extra half-billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere by 2025. Global warming will increase, leading tomore killer heat waves, superstorms, drought, crop failure, melting ice and rising seas.
But there is mounting worldwide recognition of the economic and public health advantages to a rapid transition to conservation and renewable energy. Industrial and job growth is booming in the field of solar and wind energy. The U.S. not only will be stigmatized by its immoral stand towards the world’s climate future, it simply will not be able to compete in a rapidly changing world.
Recognizing the danger and the opportunity, local and state leaders are filling the vacuum left by the federal government. As of this writing, more than 350 mayors representing 65.8 million Americans in 44 states have signed on to the “Climate Mayors” coalition. Springfield’s Mayor Domenic Sarno was one of them.
Aligning with the other 194 nations that adopted and remain in the accord, they pledged to “continue to lead. We are increasing investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. We will buy and create more demand for electric cars and trucks. We will increase our efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, create a clean energy economy, and stand for environmental justice.”
Thirteen states, including Massachusetts, have joined the pledge to Paris. The twelve are home to a third of Americans. Gov. Jerry Brown of California has met with Chinese leadership to consider ways to work together to develop and adopt renewable energy technology. China has replaced the U.S. in the clean energy arena and California leads U.S. states in its climate goals and controls.
Trump’s ignorance and greed on behalf of the fossil fuel industry may have sparked a new awareness among those who are paying attention: this is a fight that must be fought from the grassroots. Our federal government, at least for now, is firmly backing the other side.
In Massachusetts, there is a raft of initiatives on the legislative agenda that would catapult our state into the forefront of the battle against climate change. An environmental coalition is backing plans to achieve electricity powered by 100 percent renewable energy by 2035 and siting green jobs in high-unemployment communities like Springfield. There are also strong bills in Boston for carbon pollution pricing, grid up-grades, electric vehicles, and countless other conservation measures. It is up to us to make sure that our legislators know that we are not fooled by Trump, that we support conservation and renewable energy and we expect the same from them. Call them.
Unfortunately, parts of the present Massachusetts budget run contrary to the direction we must take. The budget shortfall has hit the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority, which is threatening to cut back on and eliminate routes that are necessary to those who don’t have or don’t want to use cars. I only found out because I ride two of those buses, the P21 Express and the B48, to Springfield to my job.
This is a climate justice issue. Low income people will be hit particularly hard, losing their means of commuting, shopping, caring for family members. On the other hand, we are a society that must begin to abandon our cars in favor of less fuel-burning alternatives. Public transit must be expanded, not contracted. The PVTA does not have nearly the number or frequency of routes to be easily usable by most people. Public buses are necessary to fight climate change and support economic equity.
There have been several hearings about the bus route eliminations, with round denunciations of the cuts. Check out the proposed changes and send your opinions at http://www.pvta.com/info4.php. This is a chance to think globally and act locally.
Marty Nathan is a physician at Baystate Brightwood Health Center in Springfield and lives in Northampton.