By Abdullahi Alim
The 2008 financial crisis spurred a number of youth movements including Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring. A decade later, this anger resurfaced in a new wave of global protests, from Hong Kong to Beirut to London, only this time driven by the children of the 2008 financial crisis.
1. Learn From the Past<p>Young people tend to be comfortable with change. Their instant adoption of technology is an example.<a target="_blank"> However, they may lack an understanding of the more permanent realities – requiring patience and </a>stoicism.</p><p>This wisdom is typically in the hands of individuals who either work within systems or who have accumulated far more tenure. This was effectively echoed by 13-year old activist, Naomi Wadler who <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17Aa6XLZe9A" target="_blank">said</a>, "We can educate our youth a lot better. We're not delving deeper into social justice movements from the past."</p><p>Youth movements that are informed by the success and pitfalls of prior efforts offer a more promising outcome. Take for example, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, co-founded by a 32-year old Alicia Garza.<span></span></p><p>Unlike the civil rights movement of the 1960's, BLM lacks central governance. This means that opponents can't attack its leadership as a means to discredit the whole movement. In the 1960's, this is exactly what happened to the civil rights movement, when critics went after Martin Luther King, stalling the collective efforts of the movement.</p><p>In fact, King spent his final year <a href="https://eu.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/04/04/martin-luther-king-jr-50-years-assassination-donald-trump-disapproval-column/482242002/" target="_blank">mired in public disapproval</a> with over 75% of Americans considering him "irrelevant" including 60% of African Americans.</p><p>By studying the legacy of previous efforts, BLM has managed to rally approximately <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/big-majorities-support-protests-over-floyd-killing-and-say-police-need-to-change-poll-finds/2020/06/08/6742d52c-a9b9-11ea-9063-e69bd6520940_story.html" target="_blank">75% of the American public</a>; a feat that will undeniably ensure the longevity of its cause.</p><p>For the youth climate movement, it too must reconcile the long record of activism that predates its tenure. It ought to model itself as an intergenerational movement by giving greater credence to the activists, environmental scientists and <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/05/juan-manuel-santos-colombia-indigenous-peoples-coronavirus-pandemic-climate-change-environment-nature/" target="_blank">indigenous elders</a> that have fought for climate justice before its inception and ultimately signal the nuance and maturity that would activate allies within systems of power.</p>
2. Become Part of Systems Change<p>From the college campus to the coworking space, you would be hard pressed to avoid the sight of a social impact competition that invites young people to resolve some of the world's most intractable problems.<br></p><p>Unsurprisingly, this often leads to problematic and incomplete solutions. Take, for example, <a href="https://ssir.org/articles/entry/tackling_heropreneurship" target="_blank">an app for African farmers</a> developed by students who have neither farmed nor been to Africa.<br></p><p>Fortunately, there is a growing shift towards empowering young people to better diagnose the systems that uphold inequality. For example, Oxford University hosts the annual <a href="http://www.oxfordglobalchallenge.com/" target="_blank">Map the System</a> competition to celebrate some of the most promising youth-led mappings and the World Economic Forum's <a href="https://www.globalshapers.org/story" target="_blank">Global Shapers Community</a> convenes more than 7,000 young people under the age of 30 to address local, regional and global challenges.</p><p>To achieve systemic change, young changemakers must first unpack systems into <a href="https://wtf.tw/ref/meadows.pdf" target="_blank">three components</a>; elements, interconnections and functions:</p><ul><li>Elements are essentially the key stakeholders in the system. This can include individuals, land or objects.</li><li>Interconnections are the laws and social norms that bind the elements together.</li><li>Functions are the end-goals.</li></ul><p>Take for example, the persistence of sexual harassment in the workplace as a systems issue. The elements in the system would include the victim, perpetrator and other intermediary bodies including line managers and human resource teams. The interconnections could include forced arbitration laws that prohibit employees from seeking public courts and a managerial culture that protects high performing perpetrators and pressures victims into silence. In which case, the ultimate functions (or rather dysfunctions) of the system discourage victims from pursuing action and enable perpetrators and enablers to enjoy the benefits of career progression without due trial.</p><p>Systemic change is about redesigning the interconnections (the cultural norms and laws). In the example above, it involves challenging the use of private arbitrary courts and uprooting a toxic work culture. Reclaiming this intuition opens a pandora's box that ultimately allows for any given system to operate more inclusively.<br></p><p>Today, young changemakers can rely on online resources like <a href="http://systems-ledleadership.com/" target="_blank">Systems-Led-Leadership</a> to analyze any given system of inequality and then direct their unique skills and knowledge towards the most effective intervention.</p>
3. Avoid Heropreneurship<p>Daniela Papi-Thornton first coined the term <a href="http://tacklingheropreneurship.com/" target="_blank">heropreneurship</a> to describe a growing trend that credits social change to the "founder" of an organization or movement exclusively.</p><p>This culture has inspired an entire generation of young change-makers who are swayed by the allure of the "heroic" founder and whose behaviors are validated through youth awards, grants and speaking circuits that glorify a role in the limelight. This pervasive culture undercuts the entire spectrum of actors that really creates social change.</p><p>Social change does not necessarily warrant the creation of a new organization or movement. Change-makers should consider the root causes that perpetuate and uphold inequalities and then map the existing players and solutions. This process might point to scaling up the work of an existing organization or helping a local candidate run for office.<br><br>For young people who wish to create social change, their efforts – while extremely important – may go unnoticed. This is an expectation that needs to be managed.<br></p>
4. Know Your Place<p>In 2016, a political action committee entitled <a href="http://canyounot.org/" target="_blank">Can You Not</a> emerged with the aim of discouraging white men from running for office in minority districts.</p><p>Despite the comical graphics, the campaign highlights an important question for young changemakers, particularly if they advocate for issues that they have not lived: in the quest for social change, can the actions of change-makers unwittingly perpetuate injustices, even as they seek to end them?<br></p><p>In the example above, could the notion of a white man effectively assuming the role of a translator between minority communities and government only reinforce their structural underrepresentation in political decision-making? Could the desire to assume office without lived experience also signal little faith in the leadership of the very communities being served?<br></p><p>A more effective approach to social change may be to encourage such actors to take stock of the unintended consequences of misrepresentation. In doing so, they may come to appreciate the importance of "stepping back" to allow others to "step forward." More concretely, this could result in building trusted relationships with the community and eventually empowering more local voices to consider public leadership.<br></p><p>For young changemakers, it is pivotal that they assess their own standing in a given system and avoid perpetuating the very inequalities they wish to tackle.</p>
Strategic Intelligence: Youth Perspectives. World Economic Forum
A More Targeted, Effective Kind of Activism<p>Social media has played its critical part in providing young people with a vehicle to advocate for social reform.</p><p>Whether it's <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/23/greta-thunberg-speech-un-2019-address" target="_blank">Greta Thunberg's speech</a> during the United Nations General Assembly in 2019 or <a href="https://variety.com/2018/politics/features/emma-gonzalez-parkland-interview-1202972485/" target="_blank">Emma Gonzalez</a> rallying crowds for more stringent gun control. younger voices are swaying public opinion and pressuring political systems to operate more inclusively.<br></p><p>The impact of these extraordinary young people is inspiring, but arguably they struggle to provide a course of action for the average young person who is motivated to pursue social change. The inconvenient truth is that social reform is difficult and even more so for a young person who wrestles with challenges related to experience and credibility.<br></p><p>To be more effective, young changemakers must forge greater bonds with late-stage activists as well as potential allies within systems of power. They must also understand the systems that uphold equality and pinpoint the intervention that would most likely inspire systemic change.<br></p><p>Finally, it is pivotal that they invest in a support system and seek to dissolve <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/06/this-is-how-wellbeing-drives-social-change-and-why-cultural-leaders-need-to-talk-about-it" target="_blank">personal anxieties</a> that may compromise their change-making potential.</p><p>It's time for youth activism to grow up.</p>
- British Queen Praises Young Climate Activists in Christmas Speech ... ›
- Homeland Security Listed Climate Activists as 'Extremists' Alongside ... ›
- 'We Have So Much More to Do': Youth Climate Activists Declare as ... ›
By Tara Lohan
Would you like to take a crack at solving climate change? Or at least creating a road map of how we could do it?
When you build a tool like En-ROADS, who are you hoping uses it?<p>The tools that we build are used by quite a range of people, which is one of the exciting things about them.</p><p>Before En-ROADS we had a tool called C-ROADS, which was used in the context of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. During the negotiations in Copenhagen it allowed people to add up what each country was offering to do in terms of emissions cuts and calculate what that would mean for the global temperature at the end of the century. That was of interest to the U.S. State Department under President Obama and negotiating parties from other countries.</p><p>As a young bunch of scientists, it was fairly thrilling to hand our results to a colleague who took them to [science advisor] John Holdren, who took them to the president.</p><p>Today we find En-ROADS having quite a lot of traction in the upper levels of companies and governments, but one thing we've learned over the years is that those high-level leaders really can't move further or faster than the civil society is ready to.</p><p>So we invest quite a lot in supporting teachers — university and high school — and advocates. We're in the middle of a second round of webinars training around 1,000 people to use En-ROADS so they can teach others.</p><p>These are people all around the world. One is interested in going to her members of Congress with her laptop and using the simulation to advocate for a better future for her kids.</p>
What does En-ROADS do differently from other computer simulations?<p>One thing we talk about is the democratization of this information. En-ROADS isn't breaking new scientific ground that other computer simulations of climate change don't do. In fact, often we're relying on that cutting-edge research of other groups.</p><p>But we have paid attention to making it run fast and making it freely available online, where most of these other tools aren't designed for those purposes. They're doing scientific research for other scientists. Top leaders can often get the input of those academics if they have a question or a scenario, but it's unlikely that a politically active mom who's trying to influence her member of Congress would have access to those kinds of tools. Whereas if she puts in the time to learn, she can use En-ROADS.</p><p>I think more and more, and especially in the last few years, we come across people who have the impression that [the climate crisis is] pretty much hopeless. "It's too late. We've left it too long." And En-ROADS, for those people, is motivating because it shows that the goal of the Paris Climate Agreement to keep temperature increase well below 2 degrees [Celsius] is still physically possible. There's a huge amount of social and political will needed to do it, but it's within reach.</p>
Your organization is guided by a practice you call “multisolving.” What is that?<p>In the early years of working with models like C-ROADS and En-ROADS, we were really focused on tons of greenhouse gases and how to limit those. And clearly that's the core of the problem. But what we found in Copenhagen was that, despite our group and a few others who were doing this analysis actually being heard, and being on the front page of top newspapers, it didn't lead to more ambitious pledges from countries.</p><p>There was a soul-searching moment for me and for Climate Interactive in realizing that just being good scientists within this narrow bound of counting tons of carbon isn't getting us onto the path we need to be on.</p><p>That got me interested in this question of what else would be different in a world that has gotten off of fossil fuels. This was around 2009-2010. I hired the best researcher I knew, and she went away and came back and handed me this report.</p><p>It said that the benefits of being off fossil fuels, when monetized — when you took all the lives saved, all the healthcare costs saved, all the jobs created — the savings were of the same order of magnitude as the cost.</p><p>I thought she had made a mistake. Because I had worked my whole career trying to convince people that it's going to be <em>hard</em>, it's going to be <em>expensive</em>, but we <em>need</em> to get off fossil fuels. And she was saying that if you just widened your scope and looked not just on the carbon side, but you looked at the lives and health and community well-being, we were going to reap all these benefits.</p><p>I felt like I had been spending my life on a problem that was framed in a way where we would never be able to solve it. But by expanding our view, the things we were missing — basically political will, political power and budgetary power — seemed like maybe they could be aligned.</p><p>After that, for a long time we talked about the "co-benefits," and that that was kind of the word at the time. And many people still use it. We ended up dissatisfied with that word because it sounds like climate change is the main benefit, and then there are these other nice co-benefits.</p><p>That's still putting CO2 at the center of the world.</p><p>To a parent who's been in the emergency room all night with a child with asthma, is protecting the climate 100 years from now the main benefit of closing the neighborhood coal-fired power plant? Or is ending asthma the main benefit and climate is a nice co-benefit?</p><p>So we made up the word "<a href="https://www.climateinteractive.org/programs/multisolving/" target="_blank">multisolving</a>" to talk about how all these problems matter.</p>
What does this look like in action?<p>We learned that by and large our systems are not set up to allow people to take advantage of these synergies. And just to give you one example, if a country is going to go on a low-carbon transportation plan, those are going to be costs that are felt by the ministry of transportation. But the savings are largely going to be felt by the ministry of health. There'll be less hospitalization, fewer premature deaths, less cardiovascular and respiratory illness, less premature birth. But the way current governments are set up, no transportation minister is going to get much political appreciation or an incentive by saving money for the health ministry.</p><p>So for the last few years we've been working more and more on how to bring people together, to build the relationships that are needed to take advantage of these synergies because — until people can shift their systems around in a way where they can act together across these different silos and boundaries and jurisdictions — this will all just stay theoretical.</p><p>One place we have been doing this is in Atlanta with a group called Partnership for Southern Equity. We're creating a community network, the <a href="https://sites.google.com/view/justgrowth/just-growth-circle?authuser=0" target="_blank">Just Growth Circle</a>, that can be mobilized to have influence, decision-by-decision, on the kind of pattern of growth and development that will eventually change a whole city.</p>
That kind of deep-relationship building isn’t something that can be done quickly. How do you balance that kind of work to establish these interconnections with the urgency of the climate crisis?<p>Wendell Berry said, "To be patient in an emergency is a terrible trial." But we're in the kind of emergency that calls for patience. Time is very short and yet to make the kind of changes we need to make requires trust and relationships that can't be rushed and can only be cultivated. All you can do is create the conditions for them.</p><p>If you have urgency — if you need to bring things to scale, if you're looking for transformation and not incremental change — then actually this very slow and patient work of building trust and relationships is the way that you get to a very fast and transformative change.</p>
Has anything shifted in your thinking in the last few months during this global pandemic?<p>There's been a lot of talk about opportunities for transformation within the pandemic, especially about the need for low-carbon solutions. The other side is the social safety net. A lot of what we need to do to help people through the pandemic is also what the smart people behind the Green New Deal have said from the beginning needs to be part of the plan.</p><p>When they talked about universal healthcare, childcare, gender equity programs and the job training side of it, lots of people responded that they were way outside their lane. "What does this have to do with carbon?" But the pandemic is showing us that if you want a society to be able to pivot rapidly, you need a social safety net to support people.</p><p>If you want to pivot to green infrastructure, if you want low carbon infrastructure, you're changing a whole workforce in a generation. The social safety net is the lubrication that allows that to happen with less friction.</p><p>The social safety net we need to build to get through the pandemic could be built to also carry us through the transition to a climate-safe economy. It's not the technical side of this transition, but it is the taking care of each other through the transition. That may sound selfless, but it's also highly practical because the transition isn't going to happen if we can't move a whole society very quickly.</p>
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
To hear many journalists tell it, the spring of 2020 has brought a series of extraordinary revelations. Look at what the nation has learned: That our health-care system was not remotely up to the challenge of a deadly pandemic. That our economic safety net was largely nonexistent. That our vulnerability to disease and death was directly tied to our race and where we live. That our political leadership sowed misinformation that left people dead. That systemic racism and the killing of Black people by police is undiminished, despite decades of protest and so many Black lives lost.
- Climate Crisis Brings India's Worst Locust Invasion in Decades ... ›
- Climate Crisis Made Australia's Historic Wildfires at Least 30% More ... ›
- 4 Climate Crisis Solutions No One Is Talking About - EcoWatch ›
By Neil King and Gabriel Borrud
Human beings all over the world agreed to strict limitations to their rights when governments made the decision to enter lockdown during the COVID-19 crisis. Many have done it willingly on behalf of the collective. So why can't this same attitude be seen when tackling climate change?
- The Crunch Question on Climate: How Can I Help? - EcoWatch ›
- The Power of Collective Action Gangnam Style - EcoWatch ›
- Scientist Finds Remarkable Way to Connect People Emotionally ... ›
I Study Coronavirus in a Highly Secured Biosafety Lab – Here’s Why I Feel Safer Here Than in the World Outside
By Troy Sutton
It's quiet in the laboratory, almost peaceful. But I'm holding live SARS-CoV-2 in my hands and this virus is not to be taken lightly.
Biosafety levels are defined by how much risk is involved in working with particular pathogens. The Conversation, CC BY-ND
Suiting Up Like You’re on a Space Mission<p>When performing a SARS-CoV-2 experiment, my days start by coordinating with a least one of my lab members – we always work in pairs inside containment. We outline the experiment step-by-step, check we have all of the required supplies, confirm and review any procedures and communicate with the facility staff.</p><p>First thing on site, we check multiple gauges and monitors to ensure the facility is functioning properly. Then we enter the changeroom, where we remove all of our street clothes, including jewelry and underwear. We don't want to bring any potentially contaminated clothing or items out of containment at the end of the day. "You enter and leave containment as you were at birth" is our saying.</p><p>We don scrubs, close-toed laboratory shoes, a full-body disposable suit, shoe covers, multiple pairs of gloves and a surgical gown. Most importantly, we also put on our air-purifying respirators. This device includes a Batman-style utility belt that houses a motor attached to an air filter capable of filtering out any infectious agents in the air. Powered by a battery pack that will last at least six hours, the respirator blows purified air up a tube into a hood that covers my entire head and shoulders. The hood is under positive pressure so no air from the environment can enter my breathing space.</p><p>Through the clear plastic face shield I can see that we look like astronauts in space suits. Once fully equipped, we enter the containment facility and proceed to our designated virus culture and animal holding rooms. This whole process has taken between 30 and 45 minutes.</p>
Inside the lab, experiments are done under a vented hood that sucks air away to be filtered. Penn State, CC BY-ND
What’s Inside?<p>The facility itself is a giant vacuum. All of the air flows from outside into the lab. It exhausts through air filters that remove any stray infectious agents. The facility is designed to accommodate failures. If one filter fails, there's a second one, and all work stops until both are working again.</p><p>Within this space our work is divided into rooms where we grow virus in cells in plastic dishes. There are separate spaces where we house animals that we use to evaluate how the virus is transmitted and if our vaccines are working.</p><p>When we're done for the day, the materials we used are treated with bleach or stored safely. All waste is sealed in plastic bags and treated in a pressurized, high-heat oven called an autoclave to ensure any remaining virus is dead.</p><p>To leave the lab, as we move through various anterooms toward the exit, at every stage we remove a layer of gloves and protective equipment. We also regularly spray our suits and respirators with powerful disinfectants. At the last step, we remove our respirator and scrubs and "shower out" of the facility. Even the wastewater from the shower is boiled for an hour under high pressure to kill any microorganisms.</p><p>The only living thing that leaves the facility is the scientist.</p>
An exterior view of the Eva J. Pell BSL-3 containment laboratory at Penn State. Penn State, CC BY-ND
Training and Oversight<p>Many of the safety precautions around working in a high containment facility happen long before a researcher steps foot on the site. To gain access to this laboratory, I underwent an extensive FBI and police background check.</p><p>I was subject to a medical exam, and my lung capacity was tested. I was vaccinated against influenza. I'm sure when a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, I'll get that shot as well.</p><p>A rigorous training and testing process made sure I know how to handle agents like SARS-CoV-2 safely, as well as things like what to do during a fire, a bomb threat and even a tornado. Regardless of my over 10 years experience working with viruses, everyone entering the facility is trained from scratch.</p><p>Every high containment lab in the U.S. is subject to regular inspections by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or both. Once open, a facility is reinspected and certified every three years. During the interim, inspectors arrive unannounced to review all aspects of the facility, including maintenance records, inventories of agents and operating procedures. My university also provides oversight.</p><p>In addition, there is a myriad of other security features. One of my colleagues once joked that during a zombie apocalypse, the containment lab would be the best place to hide.</p><p>Ultimately, all these precautions are in place to help us understand how the SARS-CoV-2 virus is transmitted in animals and determine the optimal vaccine formulation that will prevent transmission. The facility at Penn State, like others throughout the U.S., was built for this type of research so scientists could quickly and safely respond during a pandemic. With a bit of luck, the work done by dedicated researchers in these facilities will help bring the COVID-19 pandemic to an end, sooner than later.</p>
Climate movement, we have a problem.
We've been marching and speaking out demanding justice for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless other victims of white supremacy.
1. What Our Black Colleagues Want the Rest of Us to Know About Culture<p><strong>Black People Are Not a Monolith</strong></p><p>"Whether in terms of appearance, experience, personal interests or opinion, Black people are not a monolith. We come in many shades, shapes, and colors. Our hair comes in many textures and styles. We represent different opinions and interests. We represent a myriad of cultures and community experiences. These are not pop cultural trends, but are reflective of who we are as individuals. While there may be some common themes, just as with any culture, Black people are still individuals and should be recognized as such." </p><p><strong>We Have Experienced Racism </strong></p><p>"Most of us have experienced racism in some shape or form. Whether it's a derogatory name, gaslighting, second-guessing our success as the result of external charity rather than individual prowess, or a denial of history (statements like "slavery wasn't that bad"), it's there. It manifests in many different ways, and we learn to recognize it at an early age. Our reactions to this reality are as diverse as we are as individuals. Each of us are experts on our individual experience and, while there may be some overlap, our individual experience it is not necessarily fully representative of the Black experience. Also, we don't all necessarily agree on everything nor do we all know each other." </p><p><strong>It's Not Our Job to Educate You</strong></p><p>"As a Black person, it is not our job to educate you on the Black experience or race. Having conversations on race are fine (and necessary), but recognize it is not something you are owed. If we choose to engage, understand that it is often through mixed emotion of frustration, anger, and microaggressions. Also recognize that if we do choose to engage with you, it is often a good sign not that you've gotten it all right, but that we think there is hope for you before you're too far gone. Appreciate that."</p><p><strong>Black Comes in All Shades</strong></p><p>"People who are of a lighter skin aren't necessarily mixed. Black comes in all shades."</p><p><strong>Black Culture Is Not for Your Entertainment</strong></p><p>"My culture is not for your entertainment. I have spent a lifetime fighting stereotypes so I don't wear straight back cornrows or outfits that show my shape. I stay away from color and wear blue, black, and gray. We are taught that our natural way of being is ghetto. Then other races co-opt our style, music, and slang, and it is considered 'pop culture' and 'fashion forward.'"</p>
2. About Privilege<p><strong>White Privilege Is a Symptom of Racism</strong></p><p>"Recognize your privilege. Just a short time ago, most Americans thought that police killings of Black Americans were isolated events. Now, most agree that there is a systemic problem. White privilege is a symptom of racism. It is critical for white people to have uncomfortable conversations about race so that they can recognize their privilege and understand how they benefit from a society that is profoundly separate and unequal. Just as people of color did nothing to deserve unequal treatment, white people did not 'earn' disproportionate access to compassion and fairness."</p><p><strong>White Privilege Means We Carry a Burden That You Do Not</strong></p><p>"The fact that you just recently started thinking deeply about these issues is a sign of your white privilege. I've had to discuss racial injustice at my dinner table for my entire life, not just the last few weeks. When you grow tired of the news stories about racial injustice, you can unplug and go for a run or walk your dog in the park. Those same innocent activities can turn deadly for me, so I don't have the 'privilege' to unplug."</p>
3. About Ally-ship<p><strong>You Need to Do the Work Yourself</strong></p><p>"I am tired and trying to stay afloat, so I can't always be a source for your political education. Being an ally requires extensively educating yourself on colonialism, imperialism, white supremacy, racism, and anti-Blackness. Part of the work is finding these resources with your community."</p><p><strong>Ally-ship Means Asking Hard Questions</strong></p><p>"Solidarity is advocating for material change in our fight to end all state sanctioned violence. Questions to ask yourself: Are you willing to relinquish your comfort and power? What are you willing to risk? Are you prepared to be on the frontline? Why now? Has your guilt brought you here? How will you keep the momentum? What does ally-ship mean? Are you ready to interrogate your own internalized anti-Blackness?"</p><p><strong>We Are Not Here for Your Photo Op</strong></p><p>You will not exploit or destroy my relationships in my community. I will NEVER let my people be a photo opportunity for your grant project, board of directors meetings, or anything else. I can make an introduction but you need to put in the work because we believe in transformational relationships, not transactional ones."</p><p><strong>Words Matter</strong></p><p>"When listening to our liberal and progressive white allies speak and the mainstream media, they have a way of using verbiage and unwittingly pushing dog whistles that sound like bullhorns to the Black community. Words matter and how things are framed matter. If there is a group of Black people with guns, they are 'thugs' and 'gangs.' When they are white they are a 'militia.' When white people are suspected of committing a crime the word 'allegedly' is used 99.9 percent of the time. George Floyd was murdered by the police because someone called them because he passed a fake $20 in a store. He has never been convicted of that. He 'allegedly' passed a fake $20 in a store. And by not using this word, you are assigning guilt that is not appropriate and it criminalizes him to justify his death."</p>
4. About Racism and White Supremacy<p><strong>Racism Is Traumatic</strong></p><p>"The shock that many of you experienced after watching George Floyd's murder on camera is reflective of the shock that many in our communities live with every day. The fatigue some of you have expressed from a few weeks of racial upheaval — we've lived with that and then some for generations. We've lived with the frustration of communities for decades screaming that this was happening to us, only to have society turn a blind eye. We live with this trauma. And we still show up to work. We still achieve. We still smile, despite the pain. Recognize this — and not for sympathy, but for solidarity."</p><p><strong>Our Lives Always Matter</strong></p><p>"Black lives don't only matter when we are already dead. Our lives always matter. Solidarity is redistributing your wealth and resources. Organize for the liberation of all Black people globally. Believe Black people. Protect all Black lives."</p><p><strong>Use Your Privilege to Fix Racism</strong></p><p>"We don't directly blame you for racism; we know this has been around long before you were born. But please realize you have privilege due to racism and though you didn't start it, you have the power to fix it."</p>
- 15 EcoWatch Stories on Environmental and Racial Injustice ... ›
- Pollution, Race and the Search for Justice - EcoWatch ›
- 4 Climate Activists Explain Why the Climate-Justice Movement ... ›
- As Protests Rage, Climate Activists Embrace Racial Justice ... ›
By Julian Agyeman and Kofi Boone
Underlying the recent unrest sweeping U.S. cities over police brutality is a fundamental inequity in wealth, land and power that has circumscribed black lives since the end of slavery in the U.S.
Land Grab<p>The proportion of the United States under black ownership has actually shrunk over <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/06/19/why-racial-wealth-gap-persists-more-than-years-after-emancipation/" target="_blank">the last 100 years or so</a>.</p><p>At their peak in 1910, <a href="https://psmag.com/news/african-american-farmers-make-up-less-than-2-percent-of-all-us-farmers" target="_blank">African American farmers</a> made up around 14% of all U.S. farmers, owning <a href="https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/publications/46984/19353_ra174h_1_.pdf?v=41056#:%7E:text=Land%20ownership%20by%20Black%20farmers,acres%20owned%20by%20White%20farmers." target="_blank">16 to 19 million acres of land</a>. By 2012, black Americans represented just 1.6% of the farming community, owning 3.6 million acres of land. Another study shows a <a href="https://thecounter.org/usda-black-farmers-discrimination-tom-vilsack-reparations-civil-rights/" target="_blank">98% decline</a> in black farmers between 1920 and 1997. This contrasts sharply with an <a href="https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/publications/46984/19353_ra174h_1_.pdf?v=41056#:%7E:text=Land%20ownership%20by%20Black%20farmers,acres%20owned%20by%20White%20farmers." target="_blank">increase in acres owned by white farmers</a> over the same period.</p><p>In <a href="https://archive.org/details/timetoact1545usda" target="_blank">a 1998 report</a>, the U.S. Department of Agriculture ascribed this decline to a long and "well-documented" history of discrimination against black farmers, ranging from New Deal and USDA <a href="https://eji.org/news/one-million-black-families-have-lost-their-farms/" target="_blank">discriminatory practices</a> dating from the 1930s to 1950s-era exclusion from legal, title and loan resources.</p><p>Discriminatory practices have also affected who owns property as well as land. In 2017, the racial homeownership gap was <a href="https://www.urban.org/urban-wire/breaking-down-black-white-homeownership-gap" target="_blank">at its highest level for 50 years</a>, with 79.1% of white Americans owning a home compared to 41.8% of black Americans. This gap is even larger than it was when <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/redlining-what-is-history-mike-bloomberg-comments/" target="_blank">racist housing practices such as redlining</a>, which denied black residents mortgages to buy, or loans to renovate, property were legal.</p><p>The lack of ownership is crucial to understanding the crippling economic disparity that has <a href="https://prosperitynow.org/blog/black-and-latino-households-are-short-road-zero-wealth-hollowing-out-americas-historic-middle" target="_blank">hollowed out the black middle class</a> and continues to plague black America – making it harder to accrue wealth and pass it on to future generations.</p><p>A 2017 <a href="https://www.bostonfed.org/publications/one-time-pubs/color-of-wealth.aspx" target="_blank">report</a> found that the median net worth for non-immigrant black American households in the greater Boston region was just US $8, but for whites it was $247,500. This was due to "general housing and lending discrimination through restrictive covenants, redlining and other lending practices."</p><p>Nationally, between 1983 and 2013, median <a href="https://prosperitynow.org/resources/road-zero-wealth" target="_blank">black household wealth decreased</a> by 75% to $1,700 while median white household wealth increased 14% to $116,800.</p>
Freedom Farms<p>Land ownership today could look very different. The idea of collective ownership has a long history in the United States. Even during slavery, a piece of ground was granted by slave masters for enslaved African subsistence farming. The <a href="https://www.dukeupress.edu/sylvia-wynter" target="_blank">Jamaican social theorist Sylvia Wynter</a> called this land "the plot."</p><p><a href="https://www.aaihs.org/towards-usable-histories-of-the-black-commons/" target="_blank">Wynter has explained</a> how that these parcels of land were transformed into communal areas where slaves could establish their own social order, sustain traditional African folklore and foodways – growing yams, cassava and sweet potatoes. Plots were often called "<a href="https://english.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/DeLoughrey-Yam-Roots-Rot-Small-Axe.pdf" target="_blank">yam grounds</a>," so important was this staple food.</p><p>The connection between food, land, power and cultural survival was subversive in its nature. By appropriating physical space to support collective growing practices within the brutal constraints of slavery, black people also demonstrated the need for common, shared mental space to enable their survival and resistance. Herbalism, medicine and midwifery, and other African American <a href="https://uncpress.org/book/9780807853788/working-cures-/" target="_blank">healing practices</a> were seen as acts of resistance that were "intimately tied to religion and community," according to historian Sharla M. Fett.</p><p>With the end of slavery, these plots disappeared.</p>
Credit Unions and Co-Ops<p>The accumulation of wealth was not the only desired consequence of a black commons.</p><p>In 1967, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/30/us/harold-cruse-social-critic-and-fervent-black-nationalist-dies-at-89.html" target="_blank">social critic Harold Cruse</a> argued for a "<a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/40034433?seq=1" target="_blank">new institutionalism</a>" that would create a "new dynamic synthesis of politics, economics, and culture." In his view, economic ventures needed to be grounded in the greater aspirations of black communities – politically, culturally and economically. This could be achieved through a black commons.</p><p>As the political economist <a href="https://www.jjay.cuny.edu/faculty/jessica-gordon-nembhard" target="_blank">Jessica Gordon Nembhard</a> <a href="http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-06216-7.html" target="_blank">has noted</a> in reference to black <a href="https://www.essence.com/news/bankblack-listing-black-owned-banks-credit-unions-united-states/" target="_blank">credit unions and mutual aid funds</a>, "African Americans, as well as other people of color and low-income people, have benefited greatly from cooperative ownership and democratic economic participation throughout the nation's history."</p><p>The nonprofit <a href="https://centerforneweconomics.org/" target="_blank">Schumacher Center for a New Economics</a> is working to rejuvenate the idea of black commons. In a 2018 statement, the <a href="https://centerforneweconomics.org/publications/proposal-for-a-black-commons/" target="_blank">center proposed to adopt a community land trust structure</a> "to serve as a national vehicle to amass purchased and gifted lands in a black commons with the specific purpose of facilitating low-cost access for black Americans hitherto without such access."</p><p>Meanwhile, shared equity housing schemes and <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-04-29/alternative-homeownership-land-trusts-and-co-ops" target="_blank">community land trusts</a> <a href="https://www.lincolninst.edu/publications/working-papers/tracking-growth-evaluating-performance-shared-equity-homeownership" target="_blank">continue to grow</a>, helping black families own property, <a href="https://housingmatters.urban.org/articles/how-community-land-trusts-can-advance-racial-and-economic-justice" target="_blank">advance racial and economic justice</a> and mitigate displacement resulting from gentrification.</p>
Digital Commons<p>The disproportionate effects of the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/racial-ethnic-minorities.html" target="_blank">coronavirus pandemic</a> and unrest over <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/police-violence-pandemic/2020/06/05/e1a2a1b0-a669-11ea-b619-3f9133bbb482_story.html" target="_blank">police brutality</a> have highlighted deeply embedded structural racism. Organizations such as Black Lives Matter and the <a href="https://m4bl.org/" target="_blank">Movement for Black Lives</a> are demonstrating a renewed vigor around collective action and a blueprint for how this can be achieved in a digital age. At the same time, black Americans are also forging a cultural commons through events such as DJ D-Nice's <a href="https://www.oprahmag.com/entertainment/a31860967/dj-dnice-instagram-dance-party-coronavirus-quarantine/" target="_blank">Club Quarantine</a> – a <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/adriennegibbs/2020/03/28/dj-d-nice-just-had-the-best-quarantine-week-ever/#2c57f81c47dc" target="_blank">hugely popular</a> online dance party. Club Quarantine's success indicates the potential for using online platforms to facilitate community building, pointing toward future economic cooperation.</p><p>That's what organizations like <a href="http://urbanpatch.org/" target="_blank">Urban Patch</a> are trying to do. The nonprofit group uses crowdsourced funding to build community spaces in inner city areas of Indianapolis and encourage collective economic development that echoes the black commons of years past.</p><p>The long history of racism in the United States has held back black Americans for generations. But the current soul searching over this legacy is also an unrivaled opportunity to look again at the idea of collective black action and ownership, using it to create a community and economy that goes beyond just ownership of land for wealth's sake.</p>
- Water Protectors Take Action to Keep Pipeline Out of Black and ... ›
- Attendees at Trump's First Rally Since March Can't Sue if They Get ... ›
By Sulaiman Sesay
I lost five family members to Ebola within two weeks when the virus ravaged Liberia in 2014. First my uncle became sick. I called an ambulance to take him to the treatment center, but he died before they came. Everyone who attended to him became infected and passed away.
- A Second, Larger Wave of Locusts Invades East Africa Amid Pandemic ›
- The Threat of Coronavirus in Africa Flags a Deeper Crisis of Global ... ›
- Africa Has a Troubling Shortage of Ventilators, Masks and Soap ... ›
By Daniel Ross
The wildfires that tore across Australia were as devastating as they were overwhelming, scorching some 15 million hectares of land, killing 34 people and more than 1 billion animals. In terms of its apocalyptic imagery — sweeping infernos torching great swaths with unerring speed — Australia's wildfires were hauntingly reminiscent of the fires that roared through the Amazon rainforest over the past year. Indeed, more than 80,000 fires hit the region during 2019, according to the Brazilian government.
- Amazon Deforestation Is Causing 20% of Forests to Release More ... ›
- The Pope Makes Plea to Save the Amazon — Will the World Listen ... ›
- 'This is a Sick Statement': Brazil's Bolsonaro, Under Pressure for Anti ... ›
By Mark Trahant
- On Indigenous People's Day, a Look at the Movement to Revive ... ›
- Why More Places Are Abandoning Columbus Day in Favor of ... ›
- Maine Becomes Latest State to Ditch Columbus Day for Indigenous ... ›
By Kristen DeAngelis, Gwynne Mhuireach and Sue Ishaq
Almost overnight, the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed many Americans' relationships with food. To relieve some of the stress associated with shopping safely for groceries and ensure food security, many people are once again planting "victory gardens." This tradition hearkens back to previous generations who cultivated home gardens during both World Wars.
How Compost Feeds Soils<p>Healthy soils are living mixtures of minerals, microbes, organic matter, water and air. Unhealthy soils may contain fewer microbes or less organic material. This makes them less active and less helpful for plants. Poor soils have trouble holding water, and are unable to decompose organic material into usable building blocks for new growth.</p><p><span></span>Making degraded soils healthier requires <a href="https://theconversation.com/to-restore-our-soils-feed-the-microbes-79616" target="_blank">feeding the microbes</a>. They need new organic matter – plant or animal tissues – that they can break down and recycle.</p><p>In healthy soil, some of that food comes from growing plants that fix carbon from sunlight and pump almost half of it, in the form of sugars, into the soil. In exchange, the microbes provide other nutrients that plants can't acquire on their own.</p><p>Soil microbes also feed on old organic matter, like leaf litter and dead roots. And new biochemical analyses suggest that when these microbes die, they <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soilbio.2014.12.002" target="_blank">become part of soil organic matter themselves</a>.</p>
Access to Compost Is an Equity Issue<p>If compost is such a great resource, why don't more people make their own? In many ways, <a href="https://theconversation.com/inequity-takes-a-toll-on-your-gut-microbes-too-127659" target="_blank">healthy soil is a luxury</a>. For starters, it takes time to set up a compost pile, followed by continued maintenance – adding browns and greens at the right intervals, watering the pile and turning it over weekly in summer or monthly in winter.</p><p>Composting also takes tools and construction materials that not all aspiring gardeners can afford. It requires access to space, and a friendly regulatory environment that allows residents to create compost piles, which can produce odors and attract pests if they are not managed properly.</p><p>Factors like these are increasing interest in municipal composting programs, in which a community collects and processes residents' organic materials. These programs typically accept food and yard waste from restaurants, schools, businesses and local residents, and create a large-scale, <a href="https://ilsr.org/neighborhood-soil-rebuilders/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIwb744v7-6AIVzMDACh0gsADnEAAYASAAEgL5TPD_BwE" target="_blank">professionally run composting facility</a>.</p><p>Municipal composting saves money for communities by <a href="https://smartasset.com/mortgage/the-economics-of-composting" target="_blank">diverting food waste from landfills</a>. It also promotes sustainability by reducing <a href="https://www.epa.gov/lmop/basic-information-about-landfill-gas#:%7E:text=Methane%20Emissions%20from%20Landfills,of%20these%20emissions%20in%202018." target="_blank">emissions of methane</a>, a powerful greenhouse gas produced in landfills when waste breaks down in the absence of oxygen. And combining lots of different waste sources improves the breakdown of organic materials and generates <a href="https://doi.org/10.1515/eng-2017-0028" target="_blank">more nutritious compost</a>.</p><p>Many municipal programs allot participants a certain volume of compost in return for the waste they provide. And some offer <a href="https://www.cambridgema.gov/Services/curbsidecomposting" target="_blank">pickup and delivery</a>.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="eabee36208a1d692372116f10872435f"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/uAI_4o0HXuw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Growing Compost Programs<p>We encourage people with the necessary time and resources to <a href="https://www.esa.org/microbial/education-outreach/" target="_blank">try home composting</a>. However, creating and supporting municipal composting is necessary to meaningfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions from food waste and increase access to healthy soil.</p><p>Composting programs are sometimes available through <a href="https://ilsr.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/growing-local-fertility.pdf" target="_blank">local community gardens or farms</a>. Many private companies operate <a href="https://compostnow.org/compost-services/" target="_blank">local compost pickup services</a>.</p><p>Among U.S. cities, leaders in promoting city-scale composting services include <a href="https://sfenvironment.org/es/zero-waste/recycling-and-composting" target="_blank">San Francisco</a>, <a href="https://www.seattle.gov/utilities/services/food-and-yard/food-and-yard-waste-at-home" target="_blank">Seattle</a>, and smaller cities like <a href="https://www.burlingtonvt.gov/DPW/Recycling-Solid-Waste/FAQs" target="_blank">Burlington, Vermont</a>. These programs rely on local ordinances that either offer incentives or require restaurants and other large food waste sources to compost food waste instead of sending it to landfills.</p><p>Municipal composting needs consumer support to attract and retain funding and other resources. Demands for land, especially in urban settings, can spur city governments to sell underfunded or underutilized community spaces for commercial use – especially if local neighborhoods <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s10460-019-10011-w" target="_blank">lack social capital to advocate for themselves</a>.</p><p>Promoting community-based food production and recycling waste via composting <a href="http://illinoiscomposts.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Municipal-Composting-one-pager-1.pdf" target="_blank">provides many benefits</a>. It creates jobs, expands access to healthy fruits and vegetables, improves the local environment – especially the soil – and helps <a href="http://www.safsf.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Silvestri_Estrada_SoilsCommunity_Final.pdf" target="_blank">mitigate climate change</a>. Best of all, investing in local agriculture helps boost the local economy, especially for <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/heapol/czu109" target="_blank">those who need it most</a>: people seeking better access to safe and nutritious food.</p>
- Can the U.S. Slash Food Waste in Half in the Next Ten Years ... ›
- The Global Progress of Composting Food Waste - EcoWatch ›
- Find Out Which U.S. City Shames You Into Composting - EcoWatch ›