Two headlines in USA Today and Reuters earlier this week were very sobering: Study: Global temperatures could rise 5 degrees by 2050, (USA Today) and, even worse, Global Warming Close to Becoming Irreversible (Reuters).
It’s not that I was surprised. I have known for years how urgent things are as far as our heated-up climate. Since deciding in 2003 that I needed to do more personally on this overarching survival issue, the world has seen a dramatic rise in the number and intensity of weather disasters, just as predicted by climate scientists years ago, though coming sooner than most of them expected.
What are the main points of these two articles?
One reports on extensive research at Oxford University in England using computer model simulations which show that “average global temperatures could climb 2.5 to 5.4 degrees by 2050” if we don’t get serious about shifting from fossil fuels to a renewable energy-driven economy.
The other reports from a London conference where scientists “say the world is close to reaching tipping points that will make it irreversibly hotter. . . ‘We are on the cusp of some big changes,’” said Will Steffen, executive director of the Australian National University’s climate change institute. “We can cap temperature rise at two degrees, or cross the threshold beyond which the system shifts to a much hotter state.”
These articles were discussed a few days ago by some of us organizing the Interfaith Moral Action on Climate actions in late April. We talked about the importance of emphasizing the urgency of the climate crisis if we are to build the political will, get to a political tipping point, that will force the U.S. government to finally give the leadership on this issue desperately needed. At the same time, we need to make clear that it is not a hopeless situation. The technologies exist and are improving that will allow us to rapidly reverse our fossil-fuel-industry-driven forced march toward catastrophic climate change. And there will be huge numbers of decent jobs and significant economic stimulation created by this shift.
It is hard, impossible really, to know exactly how and when that sea change in consciousness and active concern among the U.S. American people will happen that will constitute the political tipping point we need. But it is clear that those of us who get it on the urgency of this issue can speed up that process by doing several key things:
• Don’t mourn, organize. These famous words of martyred labor organizer Joe Hill ring true as never before.
It is easy to get down, to mourn, over the failure, so far, of U.S. and world leaders on this issue. As the Reuters article commented, “a new global climate treaty forcing the world’s biggest polluters, such as the United States and China, to curb emissions will only be agreed on by 2015—to enter into force in 2020.” This abysmal failure of political leadership will only be changed when more and more people throughout all sectors of society are motivated, and supported, to speak out and take action, consistently, on this greatest civilizational challenge we have ever faced.
• Organizing must include outreach to regular folks who are not activists, as well as to those who are progressive activists.
I continue to be astounded by how many progressive activists just don’t get it on this issue. It’s really a form of denial. I started experiencing this when I began working on the climate crisis in 2004. People who understood how bad things were but who were doing and saying virtually nothing about it would respond as if I was making them uncomfortable by being up-front about our dire situation. We can’t let anyone “off the hook” on this issue; it’s long past time for everyone who cares about what kind of world we will be leaving to those who follow after us to integrate speaking about this issue into their daily lives.
• There is no substitute for visible, demonstrative action.
Mass movements for social change have never been successful unless they have been able to show visibly via street demonstrations, mass meetings, civil disobedience and/or other ways that large numbers of people feel so strongly about an issue that they are willing to take risks and do things they don’t ordinarily do to demand change. Period. Full stop.
• Finally, it is critical that we do all of this work in a way which has a growing and widening impact because of HOW we go about doing it.
The Interfaith Moral Action on Climate group incorporated a verse from the Old Testament in its Call to Action which gets at this question: “Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God.” This is from Micah, chapter 6, verse 8. You don’t have to be religious to get the basic points. We must be about the creation of a just world if we are to be true to the best within us and if we are to be successful building the broad climate movement necessary. We must treat one another and all people with kindness and in a non-arrogant way if we are to maintain our commitment to struggle for as long as it will take to bring about a more just world and a stable climate.
May the Great Unknown Force Which Rules the Universe give us strength, courage and persistence for this most important of battles between right and wrong.
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By Gwen Ranniger
In the midst of a pandemic, sales of cleaning products have skyrocketed, and many feel a need to clean more often. Knowing what to look for when purchasing cleaning supplies can help prevent unwanted and dangerous toxics from entering your home.
1. Fragrance – Avoid It<p>One of the fastest ways to narrow down your product options is immediately eliminating any product that promotes a fragrance, or parfum. That scent of "fresh breeze" or lemon might initially smell good, but the fragrance does not last. What does last? The concoction of various undisclosed and unregulated chemicals that created that fragrance.</p><p>Many fragrances contain phthalates, which are linked to many health risks including reproductive problems and cancer.</p>
2. With Bleach? Do Without<p>Going scent-free should have narrowed down your options substantially – now, check the front of the remaining packaging. Any that include ammonia or chlorine bleach ought to go, as these substances are irritating and corrosive to your body. While bleach is commonly known as a powerful disinfectant, there are safer alternatives that you can use in your home, such as sodium borate or hydrogen peroxide.</p><p>While you're at it, check if there are any warnings on the label – "flammable," "use in ventilated area," etc. – if the product is hazardous, that's a red flag and should be avoided.</p>
3. Check the Back Label<p>Flip to the back of the remaining contenders and check out that ingredient list. Less is more, here. Opt for a shorter ingredient list with words you recognize and/or can pronounce.</p><p>You may notice many products do not have ingredient lists – while this doesn't necessarily mean they contain toxic ingredients, transparency is key. Feel free to look up a list online, or stick to products that are open about their ingredients.</p>
4. Ingredients to Avoid<p>We already mentioned that cleaners containing fragrance or parfum, and bleach or ammonia should be avoided, but there are other ingredients to look out for as well.</p><ul><li>Quaternary ammonium "quats" – lung irritants that contribute to asthma and other breathing problems. Also linger on surfaces long after they've been cleaned.</li><li>Parabens – Known hormone disruptor; can contribute to ailments such as cancer</li><li>Triclosan – triclosan and other antibacterial chemicals are registered with the EPA as pesticides. Triclosan is a known hormone disruptor and can also impact your immune system.</li><li>Formaldehyde – Causes irritation of eyes, nose, and throat; studies suggest formaldehyde exposure is linked with certain varieties of cancer. Can be found in products or become a byproduct of chemical reactions in the air.</li></ul>
Cleaning Products and Toxics: The Bottom Line<p>Do your research. There are many cleaning products available, but taking these steps will drastically reduce your options and help keep your home toxic-free. Protecting your home from bacteria and viruses is important, but make sure you do so in a way that doesn't introduce other health risks into the home.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.ehn.org/how-to-shop-for-cleaning-products-while-avoiding-toxics-2648130273.html" target="_blank">Environmental Health News</a>. </em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649054624#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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Twenty-five years ago, a food called Tofurky made its debut on grocery store shelves. Since then, the tofu-based roast has become a beloved part of many vegetarians' holiday feasts.
By Jessica Corbett
A leading environmental advocacy group marked Native American Heritage Month on Wednesday by urging President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Kamala Harris, and the entire incoming administration "to honor Indigenous sovereignty and immediately halt the Keystone XL, Dakota Access, and Line 3 pipelines."
- Climate Crisis: What We Can Learn From Indigenous Traditions ... ›
- 10 Organizations Honoring Native People on Thanksgiving ... ›
- Biden Vows to Ax Keystone XL if Elected - EcoWatch ›
Returning the ‘Three Sisters’ – Corn, Beans and Squash – to Native American Farms Nourishes People, Land and Cultures
By Christina Gish Hill
Historians know that turkey and corn were part of the first Thanksgiving, when Wampanoag peoples shared a harvest meal with the pilgrims of Plymouth plantation in Massachusetts. And traditional Native American farming practices tell us that squash and beans likely were part of that 1621 dinner too.
Abundant Harvests<p>Historically, Native people throughout the Americas bred indigenous plant varieties specific to the growing conditions of their homelands. They selected seeds for many different traits, such as <a href="https://emergencemagazine.org/story/corn-tastes-better/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">flavor, texture and color</a>.</p><p>Native growers knew that planting corn, beans, squash and sunflowers together produced mutual benefits. Corn stalks created a trellis for beans to climb, and beans' twining vines secured the corn in high winds. They also certainly observed that corn and bean plants growing together tended to be healthier than when raised separately. Today we know the reason: Bacteria living on bean plant roots pull nitrogen – an essential plant nutrient – from the air and <a href="http://www.tilthalliance.org/learn/resources-1/almanac/october/octobermngg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">convert it to a form that both beans and corn can use</a>.</p><p>Squash plants contributed by shading the ground with their broad leaves, preventing weeds from growing and retaining water in the soil. Heritage squash varieties also had spines that discouraged deer and raccoons from visiting the garden for a snack. And sunflowers planted around the edges of the garden created a natural fence, protecting other plants from wind and animals and attracting pollinators.</p><p>Interplanting these agricultural sisters produced bountiful harvests that sustained large Native communities and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/eam.2015.0016" target="_blank">spurred fruitful trade economies</a>. The first Europeans who reached the Americas were shocked at the abundant food crops they found. My research is exploring how, 200 years ago, Native American agriculturalists around the Great Lakes and along the Missouri and Red rivers fed fur traders with their diverse vegetable products.</p>
Displaced From the Land<p>As Euro-Americans settled permanently on the most fertile North American lands and acquired seeds that Native growers had carefully bred, they imposed policies that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr/87.2.550" target="_blank">made Native farming practices impossible</a>. In 1830 President Andrew Jackson signed the <a href="https://guides.loc.gov/indian-removal-act" target="_blank">Indian Removal Act</a>, which made it official U.S. policy to force Native peoples from their home locations, pushing them onto subpar lands.</p><p>On reservations, U.S. government officials discouraged Native women from cultivating anything larger than small garden plots and pressured Native men to practice Euro-American style monoculture. Allotment policies assigned small plots to nuclear families, further limiting Native Americans' access to land and preventing them from using communal farming practices.</p><p>Native children were forced to attend boarding schools, where they had no opportunity to <a href="https://doi.org/10.5749/jamerindieduc.57.1.0145" target="_blank">learn Native agriculture techniques or preservation and preparation of Indigenous foods</a>. Instead they were forced to eat Western foods, turning their palates away from their traditional preferences. Taken together, these policies <a href="https://kansaspress.ku.edu/978-0-7006-0802-7.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">almost entirely eradicated three sisters agriculture</a> from Native communities in the Midwest by the 1930s.</p>
Reviving Native Agriculture<p>Today Native people all over the U.S. are working diligently to <a href="https://www.oupress.com/books/15107980/indigenous-food-sovereignty-in-the-united-sta" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reclaim Indigenous varieties of corn, beans, squash, sunflowers and other crops</a>. This effort is important for many reasons.</p><p>Improving Native people's access to healthy, culturally appropriate foods will help lower rates of <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/aian-diabetes/index.html" target="_blank">diabetes</a> and <a href="https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/native-american/obesity" target="_blank">obesity</a>, which affect Native Americans at disproportionately high rates. Sharing traditional knowledge about agriculture is a way for elders to pass cultural information along to younger generations. Indigenous growing techniques also protect the lands that Native nations now inhabit, and can potentially benefit the wider ecosystems around them.</p>
By Jake Johnson
Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.