Robert Redford Calls on President Obama to Keep His Promise on Climate Change
Weather forecasters are saying this summer could deliver above-average temperatures to much of America. If conditions are anything like last year, we could be facing intense heat waves, costly fires and prolonged drought.
This pattern is becoming all too common. Climate change has super-charged the weather, and no matter where we live, every American ends up paying a price: the government spent nearly $100 billion to respond to last year’s storms, floods, drought and fires. That’s more than $1,100 per average U.S. taxpayer.
We cannot let climate change continue to threaten our communities and our economy. In a powerful new tv and online ad campaign, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Trustee Robert Redford singles out the most effective tool for tackling this crisis right now—presidential leadership.
The good news is President Obama can start making big reductions in global warming pollution today. Under the Clean Air Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can set standards to curb carbon pollution from its largest source—coal-fired power plants. Even while Congress remains paralyzed, the president can move forward and reduce carbon pollution by 26 percent and generate up to $60 billion in public health and climate benefits by 2020.
President Obama believes we have a duty to confront this crisis. I had the honor of attending the Inauguration in January and heard him tell the nation, “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”
These are powerful words, but it has been 142 days since the Inauguration, and we haven’t seen any new initiatives from the President that reflect his rhetoric or even begin to tap the power of the presidency. As Redford says in the video, “I just hope the president has the courage of his convictions.”
I welcome this call to action from a respected and dedicated clean energy advocate. Redford has been engaged in the climate fight for decades, since he first organized a conference for Russian and American climate scientists back in the 1980s. He knows we can’t afford to delay any longer. Scientists recently reported that the level of carbon in the atmosphere has passed 400 parts per million. Experts warn that we must keep this level from soaring past 450 parts per million to avoid catastrophic climate change. If we want to turn the tide, we must embrace the clean energy solutions Redford describes in the video and we must do it now.
This is the time for decisive leadership, and President Obama showed in his first term that he is capable of it. Last year, he raised raise automobile fuel efficiency to the equivalent of 54.5 miles per gallon—on average—by 2025. These standards will save consumers $1.7 trillion at the gas pump and cut carbon pollution from new cars in half. He also proposed the first-ever carbon limits on new power plants.
But the administration has missed the legal deadline for finalizing that standard and failed to articulate a climate plan for his second term. Now the president needs to act. He can start by cleaning up the carbon pollution belching from existing power plants. If the president reduces emissions from both our vehicles and our power fleet he will have addressed two-thirds of America’s carbon pollution, and he will be able to put America on a path toward stabilizing the climate. This would be a tremendous legacy—one celebrated for generations to come.
But such a legacy will be built on deeds, not promises. NRDC is pressing the White House to commit to a concrete climate action plan and to kick it off by directing the EPA to curb carbon pollution from power plants.
You can help. Join Robert Redford and other concerned citizens in asking President Obama to make a stable climate and a clean energy system part of his lasting contribution to our nation. Ask President Obama to act on climate now and tell Congress to expedite renewable energy.
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By Kristen Fischer
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>
Should Kids Go Back?<p>While these guidelines may help get some schools to reopen, many people don't think children should go back to school over fears they could contract the disease and spread it to other vulnerable family members like grandparents, infant siblings, or their parents.</p><p>In a <a href="https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2020/07/08/peds.2020-004879" target="_blank">Pediatrics</a> commentary, <a href="https://www.md.com/doctor/william-raszka-md" target="_blank">Dr. William V. Raszka, Jr.</a>, an infectious disease specialist at The University of Vermont Medical Center, argued that schools should open because school-aged children are far less important drivers of COVID-19 than adults.</p><p>But he says the risk and benefit is not equal among all students ages 5 to 18.</p><p>"Elementary schools are arguably higher priority for face-to-face schooling, since younger children are at lower risk for infection and transmission, and since parental supervision of younger children's distance learning may be particularly challenging," added Sorensen, who penned a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/channels/health-forum/fullarticle/2767411" target="_blank">June article in JAMA</a> with reopening tips. "That means middle and high schools are more likely to emphasize distance learning."</p><p>Specific student populations, such as special education students and students with disabilities, would also benefit greatly from more time spent in face-to-face environments, Sorensen said.</p>
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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By Eoin Higgins
Over 300 groups on Monday urged Senate leadership to reject a bill currently under consideration that would incentivize communities to sell off their public water supplies to private companies for pennies on the dollar.
<div id="fea63" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9a6f211c2bc5aedd34837944cb8eeedf"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1281000111481294849" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Water in Illinois is overwhelmingly public. Why is Tammy Duckworth sponsoring a bill that aims to change that? https://t.co/1V36Kkd99s</div> — The American Prospect (@The American Prospect)<a href="https://twitter.com/TheProspect/statuses/1281000111481294849">1594249201.0</a></blockquote></div>
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