Climate strike – part two

Friday, September 27th was the last day of the Climate Action Week that featured youth-led marches, rallies, and work/school strikes around the world. As happened around the world, there was an opening event last Friday in Binghamton, with a larger event scheduled for the closing day.

This event was held at the Peacemaker’s Stage near the confluence of the Chenango and Susquehanna Rivers. We began with a welcome from the University student-organizers, who recalled that we were on land of the Onondoga Nation, who have endured centuries of broken treaties and environmental assault. This continued the emphasis on social/environmental justice as an integral component of climate action.

The climate movement in the United States is being energized by youth and indigenous leadership. At the Binghamton rally on Friday, there were speakers from the local high school and university, as well as young adults from Citizen Action and local government, either as city council members or candidates. There were people on hand to register new voters or process address changes for those who have moved to be ready for the local elections coming up in November.

Some of the speakers were people of color. Amber, from Citizen Action, reminded us that we bring our personal and community heritage with us, as well as our efforts toward treating everyone with equal dignity. It reminded me of what Pope Francis in the encyclical Laudato Si’ calls “integral ecology” and what I personally experience.

While I am following the science on climate change, I am also taking into account the ethics involved. Because of my Catholic faith, I see the situation in terms of social justice doctrine, which calls for care of creation and of others, especially the most vulnerable. People of color, people of lower socioeconomic standing, indigenous peoples, women, the elderly, babies and children, and people with illnesses are more affected by environmental degradation and climate change, so they merit special support in our efforts.

Amber and other speakers reminded us that all our efforts are connected. You don’t leave your efforts toward combating racism, sexism, poverty, violence, etc. when you are talking about climate and other environmental problems. All of these are justice issues; they are interconnected and the solutions need to take the whole spectrum of humanity and nature into account.

Besides the speakers, the event featured tables set up by different organizations. It was good to have a space for the youth organizations to meet up with the older, established local organizations. It will make it easier to coordinate efforts and initiatives. Next Sunday, there will be a planning meeting open to everyone to keep the momentum going.

There is a lot of work to do. Let’s get to it!

 

 

dread and alarm

It is with an increasing sense of dread and alarm that I approach January 20th.

January 20th is the date on which Donald Trump will be sworn in as President of the United States.

It is not a secret that I was a Bernie Sanders supporter who went on to support Secretary Clinton in the general election.  If our electoral system went by popular vote, she would be assuming the presidency and I would have at least some hope of helpful and reasonable legislation making it through Congress.

As it stands with DT, though, I believe that our country – and the world – are in danger.

That sounds very dramatic, but it is, unfortunately, true.

Early in the primaries, before it was clear that DT would be nominated, I had thought that, if he were to be elected, it would get the Congressional  Republicans to finally cooperate with the Democrats and Independents to pass reasonable, bipartisan legislation, as it was obvious that DT’s ideas were often unconstitutional, impractical, unethical, or some combination thereof. DT was also campaigning against both the Democratic and Republican establishment.

For reasons that I cannot fathom, once DT won, the Congressional Republicans suddenly think they have a mandate to do all kinds of things, such as privatize Medicare, that the majority of the public oppose (and DT used to oppose, although it is often hard to tell where he stands).

DT keeps telling us how smart he is and how he hires great people, but the nominees for staff and Cabinet positions are downright – I know I keep using this word – scary.  Several Cabinet nominees are on record as opposing the existence of the departments they are slated to head. Several have espoused outlandish conspiracy theories, which is even more pathetic when DT and his team are downplaying the very real role that Russia played in influencing the presidential election. The vetting that the Trump transition team did on background and conflicts of interest was sparse and the Senate Republican leadership is trying to rush through hearings and votes, even though the Ethics Office hasn’t been able to evaluate the candidates, some of whom haven’t even sent in their full information.

It is particularly galling because Mitch McConnell, when he was Senate Minority leader, made a huge deal about having extensive background information on President Obama’s appointees. He sent a letter detailing his requirements to then Senate Majority Leader Reid.   Recently, the new Senate Minority Leader and my Senator Chuck Schumer sent that same letter to Mitch McConnell, crossing out his name and signing it himself. It isn’t likely to do much good. Unfortunately, there looks as though there will be massive conflicts of interest with Cabinet secretaries, as well as totally unresolved conflicts with DT himself.

Because the US is so powerful on the world stage, our developing troubles here can affect other countries, too. There are the obvious problems of diplomacy, war, alliances, and trade. I am especially concerned with science and climate issues. Researchers and tech specialists have been rushing to back up data outside the country, in case DT’s departments try to limit or erase content. There is the threat that Congressional Republicans may reduce the pay for some posts, for example, those researching climate change, to $1 in the budget, effectively eliminating those jobs in a way that the Democrats could not block. The prospect just makes me sick. I am also worried that DT may try to pull the US out of the Paris climate agreement, which would be terrible, although many private businesses will continue to participate even if the government tries to renege on its promises.

In many areas, there is a danger that DT and the Republicans are making end runs around the laws that were set up to establish separation of powers and checks and balances. The Congressional Democrats are gearing up to fight, as well as some of the governors and attorneys general. Particularly important will be New York and California.

Everything is unsure, but many ordinary citizens are also gearing up to fight. My inbox is filled with action items on various appointees and policies, including the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act without replacement legislation in place.

It is all terrifying.

And a work in progress.

Stay tuned.

Update January 11:  Not long after I posted this, additional allegations of Russian intelligence against Donald Trump surfaced, raising fears of possible future blackmail. This just adds to the unease over his impending inauguration. DT is scheduled to hold his first news conference in six months today. Should be…interesting.
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Join us for Linda’s Just Jot It January!  Prompts are provided but any post counts. I usually choose not to use prompts, but today’s from Matthew is “danger” – which fed into how I was feeling after watching the news. Find out more about it all here:  https://lindaghill.com/2017/01/10/jusjojan-daily-prompt-jan-10th17/

jjj-2017

Earth Day

I just posted this quote for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesday:
“Compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to mankind.”
– Albert Schweitzer

Because it is Earth Day, I want to expand a bit on Dr. Schweitzer’s quote. Yes, we must embrace all living creatures and all of humanity, especially the most vulnerable, but we must also embrace the plants and earth itself. It is essential that the nations of the world come together in Paris in December to adopt limits on greenhouse gas emissions to avert catastrophic climate change. We can’t undo the damage we have already done and additional climate impacts will develop in the coming years, but we can still keep the earth livable if we act boldly and quickly to phase out fossil fuels and ramp up renewable energy. We have the technology needed to do this, with advancements occurring every year which will make the transition easier. There is no other option. It’s our only world.