By Jake Johnson / Common Dreams
Change only happens when people rise up to demand it.”
That is one of the principal rallying cries of environmentalists around the world who are gearing up for a historic mobilization aimed at highlighting the devastating effects the climate crisis is already having on vulnerable communities—and demanding a just transition to a world without fossil fuels.
“At the core of the fight to tackle the climate crisis is a concern for protecting communities and families—we need to accelerate to a renewable energy world without leaving behind the people who build the economy and power this inevitable transition,” noted 350.org, one of the groups that helped organize the 500 Rise for Climate events in over 70 countries, which are set to take place next Saturday. [Read more…]
For the children of steel
The Atlantic recently ran an article about the long term impacts of the now largely defunct steel industry in Braddock, Pennsylvania. Braddock resident Tony Buba has produced a short documentary about the environmental racism that has created an overlooked health crisis among residents in the area, particularly among African Americans who were segregated in neighborhoods closest to the mills. The incidences of cancer and lung disease are shocking.
For those of us who lived in any one of the mill towns dotting the Monongahela River (Mon Valley) in southwestern Pennsylvania and lost loved ones to those diseases, the statistics are heartbreaking. The Trump administration’s attempts to roll back EPA air pollution standards and bring back asbestos are enraging. [Read more…]
Wildfires continue to ravage California. Instead of hiring firefighters to put out the fires, the government is turning to incarcerated people for labor. More than 3,400 prisoners risk their lives every day to tackle the wildfires. While the average California firefighter earns $74,000 plus benefits annually, imprisoned people are paid as little as $2 a day. By relying on prison labor, California avoids spending $80 to $100 million a year.
I first learned about the exploitation of imprisoned laborers during the snowpocalypse that hit Boston in 2015. Imprisoned workers were paid 20 cents an hour for shoveling the city in the freezing cold that no one else wanted to venture out and brave. It dawned on me then that prison wasn’t just about gruesome punishment: it’s about profit. And prison labor is responsible for more of this country’s everyday products and services than is let on.
Today, the United States holds 5 percent of the world’s population and incarcerates 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. More than 2 million people are separated from their families, deprived of basic human rights, abused, and left to suffer in cages. Incarceration has increased by 500 percent in the last 40 years, even though crime rates have decreased. More than one-half of all federal prisoners are incarcerated for a nonviolent drug offense. [Read more…]
The world just keeps getting hotter, and California burns ever-more-furiously as one epic blaze after another strain not just our resources, but our ability to cognitively adjust to the fact that this is the new normal. As I wrote in response to the huge fires in Los Angeles last December, “Reality is exceeding the capacity of our dystopian imaginations.”
Temperatures broke records worldwide this summer prompting the Washington Post to run a startling headline about our “red-hot planet”, while the New York Times observed how “Scorching Summer in Europe Signals Long-Term Climate Changes.” Here in California, Governor Jerry Brown visited the devastation in the wake of the Redding fire and bluntly commented that the problem behind these horrifying disasters was that, “We’re fighting nature with the amount of material that we’re putting in the environment, and that material traps heat.”
That fire was then followed by the largest blaze in state history in Northern California and another big fire in Orange County, both coinciding with the huge inferno shutting down Yosemite, and others still. Earlier in the summer, San Diego suffered through the Alpine fire and its own series of heat waves and freakishly warm, record-setting ocean temperatures in early August.
The list goes on and on. [Read more…]
By Stephanie Corkran / SanDiego350
Brown’s Last Chance is a campaign demanding Governor Jerry Brown halt the development of unsustainable, polluting, fossil fuel infrastructure and begin an immediate phase-out of fossil fuels in California. If he’s unwilling to do so, a multitude of organizations (environmental, health, justice, community, consumer) are prepared to protest the upcoming Global Climate Action Summit.
This climate summit, held in San Francisco next month from September 12 to 14, was the brainchild of Gov. Brown. It was conceived of in response to President Trump withdrawing the United States from the international Paris Climate Accord. World leaders will be in attendance to continue the work of past international climate conferences to mitigate climate change. There will be numerous affiliate marches and rallies around the world (including San Diego’s Rise For Climate March) to demand a transformation to clean energy and real action on climate change. [Read more…]
By Laura Sisk-Hackworth / SanDiego350
A landmark bill in the California legislature, SB 964, defines climate-related financial risk in law for the first time and requires the boards of the two largest public pension funds in the nation to report on this risk every three years. The importance of this bill is that it gives the public a way to respond to the boards’ consideration of climate risk and its investments in key industries. It also protects state employees and our economy from potentially devastating financial losses that could result from climate change. [Read more…]
Councilman Chris Ward appeared before the Ocean Beach Town Council last Wednesday night and urged OBceans to support his efforts to ban styrofoam.
He explained his proposal passed the Council’s Rules Committee unanimously on July 11 and is heading to the full Council sometime this fall.
And if San Diego does pass it, the city will become the fourth city in San Diego County to ban food and beverage containers made of styrofoam – also called polystyrene. Others include Solana Beach, Encinitas and Imperial Beach. [Read more…]
After wandering through the Schools for Chiapas Mayan Food Forest incubator in Part I, and witnessing the resistance by the First Peoples of southern Mexico to powerful corporate and governmental forces intent on destroying their autonomy and culture in Part II, we conclude with a look back to a past marvelous and shameful and towards a future carved on the shell of a snail.
“The diet of the people here before the Spanish conquest was so much more than corn and beans,” explains Paco Vazquez, a coordinator with Prodmedios, a media company based in San Cristóbal that empowers local communities all over Mexico to tell their own stories using a wide variety of media. Raised on the outskirts of what was once the Aztec capital, Paco is a direct descendant of the Nahuatl water architects who constructed the floating gardens and aquaculture the Spanish marveled at, and then destroyed. Five centuries have transformed a city once laced by clear running canals into a diesel-choked metropolis; so Paco knows something about lost knowledge. [Read more…]
In Part 1, we met Armando, the Schools for Chiapas coordinator of the effort to restore the ancient Mayan system of sustainable food forests in the regions of Chiapas, Mexico, in consultation with Zapatista educators. In Part Two we explore the mortal threat posed by NAFTA and the heroic resistance to the attempts to culturally, and at times physically, exterminate the First Peoples of southern Mexico.
The mortal threat posed by U.S. corn to the people who first domesticated it is not the cheapness of Midwestern maize but its bio-engineered genetic uniformity. According to a 2017 study by scientists from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), GMO corn from north of the border has infiltrated up to 90 percent of corn tortillas and 82 percent of all corn based products throughout Mexico.
Wind riding GMO corn pollen contaminates non GMO fields with ease leading to a loss of genetic diversity that makes any living system less resilient and at greater risk for catastrophic plagues. And the myriad creatures who live in the rivers and streams that absorb run off from nearby GMO fields when the rains come? Collateral damage, whose numbers and health can only be guessed at.
Super weeds are already appearing in GMO fields in the U.S., descendants of hardy survivors who passed their immunity to Roundup weed killer onto future generations. Loathe to listen to any messages coming from lifeforms not [Read more…]
By Michelle Roberts
In late May/early June, a number of my students at Southwest High School gathered in Biology Room 501 to embark on a climate murals project. Their goal? To help change the mindset of San Diegans.
I became involved in the murals project through volunteering with SanDiego350, who got input on the concept from local artist and muralist, Joanne Tawfilis, of the Muramid museum, Oceanside. SanDiego350 contacted Tawfilis and she got us started with some helpful insights on this type of project. Our volunteers then brainstormed on how we could adapt her concept so local kids could create murals relating to climate change.
SanDiego350 volunteer and artist, Anne Mudge, refined the concept in a Climate Murals PowerPoint presentation. Anne believes:
“Giving children and the youth a way to express themselves creatively as they explore the consequences of our actions gives them a sense of agency in a totally fun and community-building way. The images they create can be powerful motivators for the rest of us. Who isn’t moved by the hopes and visions of the ones who will be living in the world we hand off to them?”
There’s something compelling about desolation, about lost places filled with traces of forgotten histories both personal and collective. That’s why I’ve always had a penchant for little towns around the Salton Sea, the vast, dying body of water I describe in my first novel, Drift:
It was a mistake, the product of a vulgar utopia gone awry. At the turn of the century, they dreamed of transforming the desert into a garden by bleeding nature of more than she readily offered. When they sought to divert the waters of the Colorado, they flooded downhill and formed the Salton Sea. In the wake of this disaster, they dreamed of turning the floodwaters into their own depraved version of Eden, a haven for real estate boosters, businessmen, and all the hungry failures who had lost out on the golden dream in Los Angeles and San Diego. But everything went wrong, and all the detritus of the dying dream flooded into the sea—all the pesticides, toxics, organic compounds, and salt, salt, salt mixed together to form an ocean of poison that is killing even the harder corvina, who survived, like those who transplanted them, by eating all the smaller fish. Now the fish lie rotting by the shore, easy prey for the birds that scoop them up hungrily and die in large numbers.
And when you drive through places like Salton City or Bombay Beach it feels like the end of the world. As the main character of Drift muses, “This is where you go when you stop wanting . . . Occupy the wreckage of a dead dream. If the world pushes you too hard, just stop pushing back.”