Amsterdam is the first city in the world to adopt a radical economic theory that suggests economic growth shouldn’t be the ultimate measure of success. Instead, “doughnut economics” focuses on protecting the environment while meeting citizens’ basic needs. Special Correspondent Megan Thompson reports as part of our ongoing series “Peril & Promise: The Challenge of Climate Change.”
Many individual states have forged ahead with climate action — even during periods of inaction or indecision by the federal government. As Biden’s ambitious pledge places the climate crisis at the top of the government’s agenda, it’s perhaps hard to remember that the environment was once a bipartisan issue. Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich is committed to raising climate change awareness, and explains to Walter Isaacson how he thinks the GOP has lost its way in the thick of climate denial.
A Minnesota jury’s conviction of former police officer Derek Chauvin on three counts for murdering George Floyd does not go far enough in dismantling police brutality and state-sanctioned violence, says historian and author Khalil Gibran Muhammad. “We know that while the prosecution was performing in such a way to make the case that Derek Chauvin was a rogue actor, the truth is that policing should have been on trial in that case,” Muhammad says. “We don’t have a mechanism in our current system of laws in the way that we treat individual offenses to have that accountability and justice delivered.” Muhammad also lays out the racist history of slave patrols that led to U.S. police departments, which he details his book, “The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America.”
We look at the link between migration and the climate emergency, which studies have estimated could displace over 200 million people by 2050, including many in Central American countries such as Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Last year, two hurricanes, Iota and Eta, devastated the region and forced thousands to flee north. A new report finds that the climate crisis is already a driver in migration from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, which reiterates the necessity of planning “ahead for the major migration flows,” says Camila Bustos, human rights associate at the University Network for Human Rights. “What we’re really telling the Biden administration is to take this data, look into it, think critically and creatively about solutions, and revise immigration policy.”
From Appalachia to the Navajo Nation, and the Illinois to the Powder River Basin, workers and families affected by the changing coal economy are facing a profound crisis. Coal facility closures, layoffs, and cuts to vital services are hitting the people and communities already facing a decades-long economic decline, a black lung epidemic, and environmental devastation. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic and economic decline, reliance on a troubled coal-based economy resulted in high poverty rates, deep job losses, and shrinking opportunity. Challenges—from decaying infrastructure to inadequate healthcare access to the opioid epidemic—only make the future of these communities more uncertain.
COVID-19 is making an already precarious economic situation in these communities more unstable. Many of these places haven’t recovered from the Great Recession, were struggling from the loss of manufacturing jobs, or were never on equal or strong footing to begin with. These new economic and public health crises are layered on to the existing crises spurred by the transition from coal and threaten to inflict more turmoil on people and communities. The national economic decline is accelerating the decline of the coal sector, likely leading to the rapid closure of even more coal facilities. That will leave more communities with little time to plan for the disappearance of their largest employer and the tax base that supports public services, local education, and health care systems. Challenges for communities of color and low-income communities already disproportionately left behind by the status quo multiply as already scarce resources, opportunities, and services are disappearing and exhausted. The people and places that powered our country for generations deserve much better.
Yet people living and working in American communities dependent on coal are confronting these challenges, spurring economic development, and charting their own paths to a bright and sustainable future. Local leaders are embracing innovative ideas that foster locally driven, equitable economic opportunity and build resilience to help weather future crises. Workers in Wayne, West Virginia are learning to install solar panels; Navajo communities and entrepreneurs near the recently closed coal-fired Navajo Generating Station in Northern Arizona are launching clean energy and sustainable tourism enterprises and partnerships; and community members from Southwest Virginia to western Colorado are creating regional food markets. There are sustainable, equitable, and inclusive solutions for economic development for the people and places hit hardest by the transition away from coal, and they are driven by communities, built from the ground up.
It’s been a week of tough talk on climate action. President Biden set out US plans for fighting climate change and called on the industrialised world to join his efforts to dramatically slash carbon emissions this decade. The global shift towards a greener world is transforming the way we work and live, but for many the changes are coming at a steep cost.
Fuel taxes have increased the cost of farming, the shutting down of carbon-intensive industries is disproportionately affecting those in low-paid jobs, and while many big businesses have the resources to go green, levies for failing to reduce carbon footprints are increasing costs for many small and medium-size businesses.
So how can the burden of a green transition be shared more evenly? Is the world at risk of leaving marginalised communities behind, and – if so – what can be done to minimise any increase in inequality that results from attempts to battle climate change? Ritula Shah is joined by a panel of expert guests.
Welcome to Transition Studies. To prosper for very much longer on the changing Earth humankind will need to move beyond its current fossil-fueled civilization toward one that is sustained on recycled materials and renewable energy. This is not a trivial shift. It will require a major transition in all aspects of our lives.
This weblog explores the transition to a sustainable future on our finite planet. It provides links to current news, key documents from government sources and non-governmental organizations, as well as video documentaries about climate change, environmental ethics and environmental justice concerns.
The links are listed here to be used in whatever manner they may be helpful in public information campaigns, course preparation, teaching, letter-writing, lectures, class presentations, policy discussions, article writing, civic or Congressional hearings and citizen action campaigns, etc. For further information on this blog see: About this weblog. and How to use this weblog.
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