In a World on Fire, Is Nonviolence Still an Option? (+4 more)

BY TIM DECHRISTOPHER 

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” John F. Kennedy, March 13, 1962

Over the past few years, advocates of nonviolence (such as myself) have been losing the debate in the climate movement. After decades of a well-funded and organized movement that has tried every nonviolent strategy, yet failed to pressure power structures away from the path of climate catastrophe, the promise of nonviolent success rests mainly on faith. 

Adding to the lack of efficacy is a startling rise in draconian consequences for peaceful activism, including dozens of states that have proposed laws legalizing vehicular homicide of activists marching on a public street. As proponents of nonviolence are increasingly ridiculed as “peace police” and booed out of movement spaces, Kennedy’s warning grows more urgent. 

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We Don’t Need Prisons to Make Us Safer

BY VICTORIA LAW

ILLUSTRATION BY KEITH BISHOP/GETTY IMAGES

To the statement that prisons provide safety, we should ask, “Safety for whom? And from what?”

The United States now has 2.3 million people behind bars of some form or another. These are not 2.3 million isolated individuals—their imprisonment sends reverberations into their families and communities. On any given day, 2.7 million children have a parent in prison. Incarcerating that parent removes a source of financial and emotional support for both children and adult family members. For families who are already in economically precarious situations, removing a parent can plunge them into poverty, reduce their safety, and make them more vulnerable to arrest and incarceration.

This is not to say that we don’t need interventions when harm and violence happen. But prisons have proven again and again to be an ineffective intervention. First, we must remember that incarceration is a form of punishment and incapacitation that happens after harm has occurred, not before. We must also remember that incarceration addresses only certain types of harm. People who sell drugs on the street risk arrest and imprisonment. But the same rarely applies to wealthy people like the Sackler family, who earned billions from OxyContin, the addictive painkiller launched in 1996 that spawned today’s opioid crisis. Likewise, board members and corporate executives responsible for oil spills and other environmental disasters or for precipitating economic crises rarely face handcuffs and jail time.

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Addressing Child Poverty Beyond the Pandemic

To Decarbonize the Economy Equitably, Start With Schools

The Significance of Uncle Tom in the 21st Century

Will Biden’s Central American Plan Slow Migration (or Speed It Up)? (+1 more)

By Aviva Chomsky

Joe Biden speaking with supporters at a town hall hosted by the Iowa Asian and Latino Coalition at Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 33 in Des Moines, Iowa, August 2019.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

This piece appeared originally in TomDispatch.

Joe Biden entered the White House with some inspiring yet contradictory positions on immigration and Central America. He promised to reverse Donald Trump’s draconian anti-immigrant policies while, through his “Plan to Build Security and Prosperity in Partnership with the People of Central America,” restoring “US leadership in the region” that he claimed Trump had abandoned. For Central Americans, though, such “leadership” has an ominous ring.

Although the second half of his plan’s name does, in fact, echo that of left-wing, grassroots organizations like the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), its content highlights a version of security and prosperity in that region that’s more Cold War-like than CISPES-like. Instead of solidarity (or even partnership) with Central America, Biden’s plan actually promotes an old economic development model that has long benefited U.S. corporations. It also aims to impose a distinctly militarized version of “security” on the people of that region. In addition, it focuses on enlisting Central American governments and, in particular, their militaries to contain migration through the use of repression.

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Gratitude, Simplicity, and Service—3 Community-Centered Values for Addressing Climate Change

By Andreas Karelas

Image credit: Gerd Altmann

Considering how the pandemic has called attention to the harms we’ve caused our planet, it’s fitting that this year’s theme for Earth Day is Restore Our Earth. The theme reminds us to value the home we share with so many other species as well as the opportunities we have to do better by our planet. Andreas Karelas, founder and executive director of RE-volv, is all about the opportunities to act on climate change solutions. One of the ways we can restore our Earth is to take a page or two from this passage of his book, Climate Courage, and adopt the three community-centered values he suggests. Our psychology and mindset toward climate change is just as important to be aware of.

***

Based on the latest findings of positive psychology research, I suggest that, in order to address climate change, we need to cultivate different values—values that place a greater emphasis on community and less on consumption—and that living according to these values will have the benefits of reducing our impact on the planet and increasing our personal well-being. To do this I’ll describe what I believe to be an effective three-step approach: (1) cultivate gratitude, (2) choose simplicity, and (3) focus on serving others. If we can learn to be more grateful for what we have, simplify our lives, and put more effort into serving others, I think we’ll be well on our way to a happier, more sustainable world.

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At Earth Day Climate Summit, Biden Promises 50% Reduction in US Greenhouse Emissions

Deirdre Shesgreen, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden pledged to cut U.S. greenhouse gas pollution in half by 2030 at a virtual climate summit Thursday, outlining an aggressive target that would require sweeping changes to America’s energy and transportation sectors. 

“These steps will set America on a path of a net-zero emissions economy by no later than 2050,” Biden said as the White House opened the two-day summit, attended by 40 leaders from around the world. 

“Scientists tell us that this is the decisive decade, this is the decade we must make decisions that will avoid the worst consequences of a climate crisis,” Biden said. 

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The US Has Pledged to Halve Its Carbon Emissions By 2030

by Charlotte Jeearchive, MIT

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden speaks in the Oval Office of the White House earlier this weekAP

The pledge makes a big statement about the US’s intentions on climate ahead of a meeting of global leaders today

The news: The US will pledge at a summit of 40 global leaders today to halve its carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 2030. This far exceeds an Obama-era pledge in 2014 to get emissions 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. The hope is that the commitment will help encourage India, China, and other major emitters to sign up to similar targets before the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, set to be held in Glasgow, UK,  in November. “The United States is not waiting, the costs of delay are too great, and our nation is resolved to act now,” the White House said in a statement

The big picture: The world has already warmed up by 1.2 °C since preindustrial times, and it’s getting ever closer to the 1.5 °C threshold that the 2016 Paris agreement aimed to avoid. Climate scientists have been warning for years now that a significant amount of climate damage is already baked in thanks to previous emissions, but there is still a short window to avoid catastrophic global warming. 

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Climate Change in Graphics: The Charts That Show We Must Act Now

Global warming is already happening as carbon emissions keep on rising, with effects from sea level rise to more and more extreme weather events worldwide

By New Scientist

New Scientist Default Image
Buildings and farmlands are seen partially submerged in floodwaters following heavy rainfall in Poyang county of JiangxiREUTERS/China Daily CDIC

Earth is warming. Globally, 2020 was the second-warmest year on record, with a mean temperature 1.2°C above the pre-industrial average. By that measure, this means we are already four-fifths of the way to the 1.5°C “safe” level to which the world committed to try to limit global warming.

The culprits are carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels and land use changes that reduce Earth’s ability to draw down greenhouse gases. The results are already being felt, not just through rising temperatures, but also through loss of ice cover, rising sea levels and more extreme droughts, floods and storms across the globe.

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