By Stephanie Feldstein
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a dire warning last week: We need to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and we need to do it fast to avoid catastrophic climate change.
At the current rate, our global carbon budget will be spent in the next 10 to 14 years. We can't wait another day to start drastically reducing emissions if we hope to stay below 1.5 degree warming.
In response to the report, articles have advocated for individual actions like turning off lights, eating less meat, and recycling. One article advised that, if you can't change your commute by walking or taking public transportation, you might benefit from upgrading to a new hybrid or electric car.
While personal choices such as investing in renewable energy and eating less meat can certainly make a difference, it's not always that simple. For many of us, putting solar panels on our house, walking to work, or buying a hybrid car aren't easy choices.
Emphasizing personal action puts the responsibility on the shoulders of individuals rather than addressing the structures we live in—such as capitalist markets that reinforce income inequality and institutionalized racism that propels discrimination. These structures shape our choices, and they're what got us into this mess in the first place.
The real change that needs to happen—and fast—is big and structural. Here are three ways to take the bold action that's needed to reverse climate change.
1. Fight Poverty
There's no question that we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground and rapidly shift to renewable energy. But while some people can afford home solar panels or electric cars, these choices are out of reach for others.
Entire neighborhoods lack public transportation, and people working multiple jobs may lack the time to take it. And when it's a challenge to pay the heating bill, it may be a luxury to think about investing in weatherization, even if it might ultimately save a few bucks.
Research published earlier this year shows that socioeconomic disparity increases the risk of failing to meet emissions reduction targets. If we're going to address climate change, we need to address wealth disparity. Without living wages, many people can't afford to make climate-friendly choices that are good for the planet and their pocketbooks, too.
And low-income communities are often hit first and hardest by climate-related disasters. After the storm hits, it only gets worse—about half of the people affected by Hurricane Harvey had no savings to help them recover from the damage, and FEMA assistance is anything but certain.
It's a vicious cycle where low-income communities are more vulnerable to climate-related losses, which increases the economic stress that only makes it harder to cope with climate change.
By fighting poverty, we can make it possible for people to take action against climate change, while building more resilient communities in the process.
Support campaigns for living wages such as the Fight for $15. Connect with groups fighting for paid leave and affordable child care, like MomsRising. Urge your city council to improve basic services like public transportation and health care for low-income neighborhoods, and include those neighborhoods in disaster response planning discussions. And demand policies that remove barriers to sustainable alternatives—like solar panels and hybrids—and make them more affordable.
2. Hold Corporations Accountable
Trash accounts for about 3 percent to 5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, so recycling isn't going to be enough to keep global warming below catastrophic levels, even if all of your plastic is making it into the right bin. And resources are needed to take recycled plastic and turn it into something usable again.
So, when it comes to what we buy—from plastic bottles to burgers to cheap clothes—the real climate savings won't be found downstream at the landfill or recycling center. They'll be found upstream, with the companies that manufacture these goods in the first place.
If we're going to effectively reduce production-related emissions, we need to produce less, and corporations need to be held responsible for their cradle-to-grave carbon footprints.
Demand accountability from corporations for their contribution to climate change by supporting policies that remove subsidies andgovernment bailouts that make more sustainable alternatives less competitive. And support local policies that would require corporations to pay for climate change impacts.
3. Disrupt Oppression
A study released earlier this year found that climate deniers are more likely to hold racist beliefs. The researchers note that while this trend was apparent during Obama's presidency, Trump has further fueled it with rhetoric tying "White grievance and resentment" to climate change and energy policy.
We also see that those who disregard the threat of climate change are the same people who disregard women's rights and voices. The nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was challenged by multiple allegations of sexual assault. It was also challenged for his dangerous environmental record, which Kavanaugh lied about under oath.
At the same time, women and communities of color are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change. And their voices are often shut out of the conversation. Only 5 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women—and that's down 25 percent from last year. In the entire history of Fortune 500, there have only been 15 Black CEOs. Eighty-one percent of Congress is White, compared to 62 percent of the U.S. population, and only 20 percent of members of Congress are women. And among many environmental groups, senior positions and boardrooms are still predominantly White and male.
We can all work to dismantle the structures of oppression and rebuild a society that's based on inclusion and equity.
We need to amplify the voices of people of color and women in the climate movement and among politicians making climate change policy. Green 2.0 is helping bring diversity, equity, and inclusion to the forefront of the environmental movement. Demand that your city council put justice and equity at the core of any climate action or other sustainability plans, and that it does so by bringing marginalized voices to the table. Vote for local city council or congressional candidates from affected communities and support organizations such as She Should Run and Democracy in Color, which are working to bring equality and representation to all levels of government.
Reposted with permission from our media associate YES! Magazine.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
Green groups applauded Sen. Jeff Merkley on Wednesday for introducing a pioneering pair of bills that aim to "protect the long-term health and well-being of the American people and their economy from the catastrophic effects of climate chaos" by preventing banks and international financial institutions from financing fossil fuels.