With the presidential campaign dominating the news cycle, it's easy to get distracted from what our current administration is doing—and not doing—to tackle climate change. We can't afford to wait and see what the election brings. That's why communities from the Gulf South to Alaska and around the globe are uniting in an incredible wave of resistance to fossil fuels this week.
Here's why taking action matters:
1. Business as usual for the fossil fuel industry cannot continue.
The consequences of our reliance on dirty energy are no secret, but that hasn't stopped fossil fuel companies from going to extremes to protect their bottom lines.
Exxon, for one, knew the climate impacts of burning fossil fuels 40 years ago. But instead of acting in the interest of humanity, the company campaigned in secret to cover up climate science so it could continue to plunder and pollute in search of more oil to burn.
"[#ExxonKnew] poses the biggest existential threat the company has faced in decades." https://t.co/GlgEL0PppW https://t.co/mVjTRi2CoA— 350 dot org (@350 dot org)1462804050.0
Not to be outdone, Shell spent three years and $7 billion trying to drill in U.S. Arctic waters, a campaign that ended in a very public, ego-bruising failure in 2015. But the company is still clinging to its Arctic drilling hopes by a thread, relinquishing all but one of its Alaskan leases on Tuesday.
What do these two stories have in common? People power winning out over corporate greed. Thanks to tireless activism, Exxon is finally taking its scandal seriously, deploying the full force of its lawyers and lobbyists. And the movement that pressured Shell to leave the Arctic also prompted President Obama to protect Alaska from offshore drilling through 2017 and make the Atlantic off limits through 2022.
2. The path to a sustainable future does not include fossil fuels.
The science is clear: to avoid the worst effects of #climatechange, we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground. https://t.co/I2XqukBNzO— Greenpeace USA (@Greenpeace USA)1462658765.0
If we have any hope of preventing runaway climate change, we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground—starting now.
A 2015 study in the journal Nature revealed that we need to leave at least 80 percent of the world's known remaining fossil fuel reserves untouched, including more than 90 percent of U.S. coal reserves and a whopping 100 percent of Arctic oil and gas.
In the U.S. alone, keeping publicly owned fossil fuels in the ground would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 100 million metric tons per year.
Of course, communities on the frontlines of the fight against fossil fuels have known this for years, but policymakers are just starting to catch up.
3. Actions speak louder than words.
If last year's Paris climate talks showed us anything, it's that the world's political leaders are ready to talk the talk on climate action.
But are they ready to walk the walk? So far, the answer is no.
President Obama, for example, said last year, “As long as I am president, America will lead the world to meet this threat [climate change] before it's too late."
But his actions aren't on pace with the change we need. He's failed to protect the U.S. Arctic and the Gulf of Mexico from offshore drilling and his Interior Department Secretary Sally Jewell called the keep it in the ground movement “naive" in a recent speech.
#keepitintheground isn't just a slogan, it's a scientifically proven necessity. Details here https://t.co/EpfpmHlnix https://t.co/OvyTeop99B— Annie Leonard (@Annie Leonard)1462563011.0
If you think it's “naive" to preach climate action one minute then turn around and sell our public land to the highest bidder the next, then it's time to speak up!
4. Momentum for a clean energy revolution is on our side.
Breaking free from fossil fuels won't happen overnight, but we're far beyond square one. People power has already stopped major projects like the Keystone XL pipeline and forced Shell to abandon immediate Arctic drilling plans.
And we didn't stop there.
Canceled. Rejected. Delayed: 20 fossil fuel projects halted in the wake of KXL rejection https://t.co/AZOcWTfMZN https://t.co/DVGrYr0VBc— InsideClimate News (@InsideClimate News)1462561545.0
This series of wins is no accident—it's because people like you and me are uniting around one clear message. We only have one choice to protect our future: keep fossil fuels in the ground.
From financial stress to increased pressure from people like you, the fossil fuel industry is reeling. Right now is our best chance to turn up the heat and make 2016 a tipping point in the journey towards a clean, just, renewable energy future.
Communities all over the country—from Alaska to the Gulf South—have already pushed us closer and closer to this tipping point. Now it's time to build on their actions and break free from fossil fuels for good.
Sound like a movement you want to be a part of? Find a Break Free action near you and get involved.
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It's going to be back-to-school time soon, but will children go into the classrooms?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.
Keeping Schools Safe<p>What will safer schools look like?</p><p>In a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766822" target="_blank">JAMA article</a> published last month, <a href="https://www.jhsph.edu/faculty/directory/profile/1781/joshua-m-sharfstein" target="_blank">Dr. Joshua Sharfstein</a>, a pediatrician and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, outlined suggestions — many of which are similar to AAP's.</p><p>Remote learning protocols must stay in place, especially as some schools stagger home and in-building learning. If another shutdown needs to occur, children will rely on distance learning completely, so it must be easy to switch to, he said.</p><p>He suggested giving parents a daily checklist to document their child's health. Kids should be screened quickly on arrival and be given hygiene supplies. Maintenance staff should use appropriate PPE and have regular cleaning schedules. A notification system should be in place if a case is identified, Sharfstein recommended.</p><p><a href="https://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/faculty/erika-martin" target="_blank">Erika Martin</a>, PhD, an associate professor of public administration and policy at University at Albany, said nutrition assistance and health services should be included. She called for tutoring programs with virtual options as well as technology access.</p>
Supporting Staff<p>Teachers and staff will be affected by safeguarding measures, noted <a href="https://directory.sph.umn.edu/bio/sph-a-z/rachel-widome" target="_blank">Rachel Widome</a>, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota.</p><p>"In order for all of the in-school precautions to work well, we'll be asking a lot of teachers and staff," Widome told Healthline. In addition to their usual workload, they'll now be asked to monitor mask-wearing, ensure children are keeping distance, and be aware of any symptoms.</p><p>Along with Sharfstein, Widome called for an increase in financial support. More employees will likely be required so teachers and staff members can keep up with the added demands.</p>
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What Parents Can Do<p>Parents should ask for and receive frequent updates from schools about plans for the fall. They should also be informed about plans if and when COVID infections are identified, Sharfstein said.</p><p>"I'd like to see parents investing now, during the summer, in doing things that can slow and stop the spread of the virus in their communities," Widome said.</p><p>"Now is a good time for kids to practice wearing masks and get used to them as they may be wearing them for longer stretches if school starts up in person," Widome suggested.</p><p>She recommends parents try different mask designs and materials to see what children are more comfortable wearing.</p><p>"If you are using cloth face coverings, it's good to have extras on hand," Widome added.</p><p>Parents should model healthy behavior at home and while out in public — another thing that could affect how well children adapt to reopening practices, Sorensen said.</p><p>"Children may want to know more about face coverings," added <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/leescott/" target="_blank">Lee Scott</a>, chairwoman of the Educational Advisory Board at <a href="https://www.goddardschool.com/" target="_blank">The Goddard School</a>. "Dramatic play, such as creating or wearing a face covering, may help some children adjust to this concept." Schools can also show children photos of what faculty members look like in their masks so the students are familiar with that appearance.</p><p>Johns Hopkins University recently released its eSchool+ Initiative, a slew of resources surrounding education during the pandemic. These include a <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-checklist/" target="_blank">checklist for administrators</a>, report on <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/ethics-of-reopening/" target="_blank">ethical considerations</a>, and a tracker of <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-policy-tracker/" target="_blank">state and local reopening plans</a>.</p>
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