from a warming planet
Stephen F. Eisenman
After 18 months of lockdowns and travel restrictions, we decided it was time to hit the streets and visit some of our “environmental justice communities” on the Gulf Coast. Environmental Justice Communities (EJC) are non-white or working-class neighborhoods that have been flooded, burned, poisoned, or impoverished by the petrochemical, biomedical, transportation, real estate, timber, animal agriculture, or financial service industries.
The coronavirus pandemic is a de facto General Strike against a political and social order that privileges the few over the many. But this has been a largely leaderless strike in which almost no one has issued demands. Now, in the midst of the pandemic, there remains an opportunity for working people and their political representatives to challenge the health and environmental policies that created the crisis, and forge a more humane and sustainable future.
For the many disappointed Bernie Sanders supporters (including me), we need to keep our eyes on the ball: saving human civilization (and myriad animal species) from extinction. Here’s how: Bernie must call up Joe Biden now and tell him that if he will publicly and enthusiastically endorse a Green New Deal, Bernie will quit the race and work to unite the party.
The frequency and severity of most so-called “natural” disasters in the United States – excessive heat, fires, drought, and floods — have increased significantly in recent decades. The reason is that there is nothing natural about them. They are the result of higher levels of global greenhouse gasses (GGGs) in the atmosphere leading to higher temperatures. In the past decade, record high readings in the U.S.
Capital in the current class struggle enabled congressional Republicans and the president to pass a tax cut in 2017 which further enriched the wealthy, while reducing incomes for the poor. And whatever modest economic stimulus the tax cut may initially have had, it’s now clearly worn off, and the resulting budget deficit become a damper on the economy and a threat to the modest, social welfare net.
Harriet and I recently returned from a week-long road trip to Gulfport and Biloxi Mississippi. I’d only been to Mississippi a handful of times before, on the way to somewhere else, and had few impressions of the state.
As expected, the first Atlantic hurricane of the season is a whopper. Coastal communities in North and South Carolina face the prospect of severe damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure, especially to the electric power grid. Inland agriculture, much of it given over to concentrated animal feeding operations (factory farms), may also be damaged, and neighboring communities along with them.
The remarkable thing about current conversations concerning the ethics of veganism is that they so often turn into discussions about the necessity of veganism. At a time of environmental crisis, human civilization itself may depend upon our willingness to protect animals and stop eating meat.
The Anthropocene, as visitors to Anthropocene Alliance will know, is the name proposed by the Working Group of the Anthropocene (WGA), a committee established by the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS), to describe the moment in Earth’s history when humans came to dominate and even determine major earth systems.
A recent article in Quartz, an online magazine owned by corporate-apologist Atlantic Media, is an example of the growing backlash against the surging vegan movement, of which VGNPWR is one expression. The author, Chase Purdy, titled his piece “If the Entire Nation Went Vegan, it Would be a Public Health Disaster:”
It’s a staple of spy and adventure novels and films. At the end of Goldfinger (1964, dir. Guy Hamilton), James Bond is handcuffed to an atomic bomb in Fort Knox. After managing to free himself, he frantically starts to pull some wires on the device when a scientist arrives, flips a toggle and halts the threat with 007 seconds to go.
Since our founding in April, Anthropocene Alliance established a powerful tool for helping individuals and communities hurt by flooding, Flood Forum USA, along with a Facebook platform called SPOUT! FFUSA has engaged over 100 community Flood Groups across 30 states in the US, representing 200,000 people, and initiated mitigation programs in 10 of them, assisted by the Thriving Earth Exchange of the American Geophysical Union.
Never before has the human role in environmental degradation been more widely acknowledged and understood. From great cities in the U.S. to small hamlets in rural China, people are discussing air and water pollution, the degradation of soils and aquifers, and especially, the looming crisis of global warming. People are poised to act.