'Insult to Our Young People's Future': UK Budget Neglects Climate Crisis
By Jake Johnson
While British Prime Minister Theresa May's Autumn budget rollout was accompanied by much fanfare and lofty promises—"the era of austerity is finally coming to an end," proclaimed UK Finance Minister Philip Hammond—the specifics of the budget detailed on Monday were met with a mixture of disgust and alarm by the Labour Party and environmentalists, who argued that the plan is stuffed with "half measures" and tax cuts for the rich but zero policies to address the human-caused climate crisis.
Highlighting May's recent speech declaring that deep cuts to public spending are over, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn excoriated May and Hammond for delivering a "broken promise budget" that vows "quick fixes while austerity grinds on."
"Far from people's hard work and sacrifices having paid of ... this government has frittered it away in ideological tax cuts to the richest in our society," Corbyn said. "The government claims austerity has worked so now they can end it. That is absolutely the opposite of the truth—austerity needs to end because it has failed."
Just ahead of May's big budget unveil, the Labour Party tweeted out a video that portrays May and her cabinet as cruel plutocrats and condemns their record of slashing life-saving programs for vulnerable in order to deliver massive gifts to the ultra-wealthy.
Though May's Autumn budget does call for some increases in social spending, critics said these boosts will not be nearly enough to recover from years of Tory austerity.
While touting the budget's proposed increase in education spending, Hammond boasted that schools will now be able to afford "the little extras they need"—a remark that was quickly denounced as an insult to British schools that are facing massive teacher shortages and cutting hours due to lack of funds.
"Cannot believe how out of touch this government is," Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the UK Green Party, wrote on Twitter. "Schools don't just need money for 'little extras'—they are struggling to pay staff, upkeep buildings, and provide vital support to children with special needs."
The grassroots left-wing group Momentum added that, in May's budget, "schools are getting less money than the pot hole fund."
"We have oversized classes, lack of basic stationery, and a cap on teachers' pay," the group wrote on Twitter. "Your budget is an insult to our young people's future."
May's budget was similarly denounced by environmentalists as an appalling insult to the planet, given that—in his speech detailing the Autumn budget—Hammond didn't bother to mention the climate crisis once.
Hammond did, however, announce that the budget will maintain special tax subsidies for the oil and gas industry.
"Three weeks since the world's leading climate scientists said governments have just 12 years to turn the tide on the catastrophic and irreversible consequences of climate change, the chancellor has delivered a budget that reads as though he missed the memo," Greenpeace UK declared on Twitter, referencing a recent United Nations report warning that the world must cut carbon emissions in half by 2030 to avert global catastrophe.
"It's unforgivable that Hammond failed to even mention climate change," concluded Lucas of the Green Party. "It's not clear what planet Hammond is living on—because he's certainly doing nothing to protect those of us living on this one. His deluded budget was built on a fantasy future where the technical revolution will solve all of society's problems. Our children will never forgive him."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
'Kicking Ass for Her Generation': Applause for 16-Year-Old Greta Thunberg as EU Chief Pledges $1 Trillion to Curb Climate Threat
By Julia Conley
Sixteen-year-old climate action leader Greta Thunberg stood alongside European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker Thursday in Brussels as he indicated—after weeks of climate strikes around the world inspired by the Swedish teenager—that the European Union has heard the demands of young people and pledged more than $1 trillion over the next seven years to address the crisis of a rapidly heating planet.
In the financial period beginning in 2021, Juncker said, the EU will devote a quarter of its budget to solving the crisis.
‘Plastic Is Lethal’: Groundbreaking Report Reveals Health Risks at Every Stage in Plastics Life Cycle
With eight million metric tons of plastic entering the world's oceans every year, there is growing concern about the proliferation of plastics in the environment. Despite this, surprisingly little is known about the full impact of plastic pollution on human health.
But a first-of-its-kind study released Tuesday sets out to change that. The study, Plastic & Health: The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet, is especially groundbreaking because it looks at the health impacts of every stage in the life cycle of plastics, from the extraction of the fossil fuels that make them to their permanence in the environment. While previous studies have focused on particular products, manufacturing processes or moments in the creation and use of plastics, this study shows that plastics pose serious health risks at every stage in their production, use and disposal.
Air pollution within the home causes 3.8 million deaths a year, according to the World Health Organization. A recent University of Colorado in Boulder study reported by The Guardian found that cooking a full Thanksgiving meal could raise levels of particulate matter 2.5 in the house higher than the levels averaged in New Delhi, the world's sixth most polluted city.
But soon, you will be able to shop for a solution in the same place you buy your budget roasting pans. IKEA is working on a specially-designed, air-purifying curtain called the GUNRID.
A rare species of giant tortoise, feared extinct for more than 100 years, was sighted on the Galápagos island of Fernandina Sunday, the Ecuadorian government announced.