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Entries since November 2012Page Previous 1 • 2 • 3 Next
November 8, 2012 · By Janet Redman
Like most U.S. climate activists, I breathed a sigh of relief as the election returns rolled in.
You didn't have to be paranoid to fear that Mitt Romney just wasn't taking seriously the potential devastation in store for us if we don't change course. The Republican hopeful even tried to score political points by poking fun at President Barack Obama for taking climate change seriously.
And in his acceptance speech, Obama laid out a vision of a nation "that isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet."
Still, it would be naïve to assume that Obama's victory is a win for the environment or the communities most impacted by climate change.
After all, Obama has yet to break the deafening silence that lasted throughout his long reelection campaign. By failing to even utter the term "climate change," he's signaling that he still considers climate deniers a powerful political force. And it makes me nervous when I hear Obama talk about "freeing ourselves from foreign oil" as he did in his acceptance speech.
In the past four years his "all of the above" approach to energy independence has leaned too heavily on expanding drilling, pumping, blasting, piping and fracking for domestic consumption and export. Staying this course means more greenhouse gas pollution, more warming, and more storms like Sandy — or worse.
And his push to expand nuclear power under the guise of "low-carbon" energy is an expensive and toxic diversion from investment in clean renewable energy like wind and solar.
Freed of his campaign obligations and concerns, Obama is now free to be bold. We must hold him accountable for living up to his visionary rhetoric and call him out on the shortsightedness of his energy policy. He said so himself.
"The role of citizens in our democracy does not end with your vote," Obama said in his acceptance speech."America's never been about what can be done for us. It's about what can be done by us together."
We can't sit back and wait for Obama to lead on climate or anything else. We can't abdicate the political space to Beltway lobbyists — even the ones with green credentials — to negotiate solutions to this most urgent threat. We need to organize and take action.
Here are some inspiring grassroots examples of people who aren't waiting for our leaders to take action. They're already building alternatives to our fossil-fueled economy while making their communities more resilient to climate disruption.
- WeACT in West Harlem is fighting for bus-rapid transit as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create public sector jobs, and protect residents' health.
- The New York City Environmental Justice Alliance's Waterfront Justice Project — the Big Apple's first citywide community resiliency campaign — is working to protect communities from toxic inundation during storm surges.
- Right to the City and Grassroots Global Justice Alliance groups like CAAAV, Picture the Homeless, Make the Road, and many more work to end displacement and economic inequality — which render families particularly vulnerable when climate disasters hit.
- Ironbound Community Corporation, a member of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives and the New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance is crafting "Zero Waste" solutions that create recycling and composting jobs while drastically reducing climate and toxic pollution from landfills and incinerators.
- The Indigenous Environmental Network has been working with Indigenous communities throughout Canada and the United States, fighting to protect their lands from fossil fuel development like tar sands mines and the Keystone XL, Kinder Morgan, and Enbridge Northern Gateway pipelines.
Janet Redman is the co-director of the Sustainable Energy & Economy Network at the Institute for Policy Studies. www.ips-dc.org
November 7, 2012 · By Emily Schwartz Greco
As authorities in the Northeast order new evacuations and the airlines cancel hundreds of flights in anticipation of another fierce storm, OtherWords is taking stock of the many ways in which Sandy may prove a teachable moment.
Daphne Wysham and John Talberth show how this latest bout of extreme weather exposes the shortcomings of relying on GDP to measure economic progress. William A. Collins, one of the 8.5 million people who lost power last week, asks whether Mother Nature was disciplining Wall Street for its dirty-energy finance. Michael Brune, who grew up in one of New Jersey's hardest-hit towns, calls for bigger investments in clean energy. Ryan Alexander calls for a more responsible approach to the nation's flood insurance system. And Khalil Bendib's cartoon can accompany any of these commentaries.
- How Sandy Reveals the GDP's Twisted Logic / John Talberth and Daphne Wysham
Extreme weather doesn't boost the economy.
- Hurricane Sandy's Wakeup Call / Michael Brune
Sandy is only the latest and most devastating incident in a pattern of extreme weather that's become impossible to ignore.
- Social Security: It Ain't Broke / Elizabeth Rose
It's a basic part of what makes America run, like our national highway system.
- Rebuilding Resilience / Ryan Alexander
We have to stop subsidizing people to live in harm's way.
- The Invisible Hand Won't Stop Inequality in Its Tracks / Sam Pizzigati
We'll have more economic and climate disasters on Sandy's scale unless our political systems intervene.
- Why the Chicken Crossed the Road / Jim Hightower
Factory farms are animal concentration camps.
- Shivering in the Land of Climate Denial / William A. Collins
If Wall Street doesn't get Mother Nature's hint, it will become the entire world's tragedy.
- Sandy Trumps Romney's Climate Joke / Khalil Bendib Cartoon
November 7, 2012 · By Sarah Anderson
Members of Congress who earned good marks in an Institute for Policy Studies "report card" on inequality fared well on Election Day.
We awarded "A+" grades to the 12 House members who did the most to narrow America's economic divide over the past two years. Eleven of these lawmakers won:
Robert Brady (D-PA), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Steve Cohen (D-TN), John Conyers (D-MI), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jim McDermott (D-WA), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).
Only one of these A+ lawmakers, Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) lost his seat to a Democratic challenger — making him a notable casualty to California's top-two primary system.
Three of the five senators who nailed top marks for their legislative actions to reduce inequality in America were up for re-election. They all won: Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
Republicans identified as the most "99% friendly" within their party also did well. The IPS report card rated three senators and nine House members at a "C" level for doing the most to reduce extreme inequality over the past two years. All seven of the House members on this list who ran for re-election won. None of the three most "99% friendly" Senators was up for re-election this year.
Our report card gave failing grades to 59 lawmakers who consistently favor the interests of the wealthy instead of looking out for the needs of everyone. Of the 45 who were up for re-election, two lost. One was Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-NY), who was the lead sponsor of a bill to repeal a provision in the Dodd-Frank financial reform law that requires corporations to disclose the ratio between what they pay their CEO and their workers.
This new metric could encourage a narrowing of the staggering inequality gaps within companies. In the midst of Hayworth's two-year crusade against that provision, the SEC has failed to implement it.
The other House member who received an "F" grade and lost her seat was tea party-backed Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, another New York Republican.
The IPS report card also identified the 17 Democrats who have done the least to fight extreme inequality and rated no better than a "C: Of the eight House Democrats on this list who were up for re-election, two lost (Representatives Ben Chandler of Kentucky, and Larry Kissell of North Carolina). Mike McIntyre, another North Carolina House Dem, appeared to be headed for a recount.
Sarah Anderson is a co-author of this Institute's first annual inequality report card, released in September. It rates lawmakers on the basis of their voting records and co-sponsorships of 40 different legislative actions over the last two years. The bills considered range from legislation to establish a "Buffett Rule" minimum tax rate that all wealthy Americans must pay to a measure that would raise the minimum wage and index it to inflation.
November 7, 2012 · By Karen Dolan
It was the nail-biter that wasn't
...not even close.
By just after 11,
the GOP gave up the ghost.
Turns out voters are smart —
they knew just what to do.
They knew who was for many
and who was for few.
The tea party is over,
the real work is at hand.
And we all gotta push
whoever's in command.
You can get high,
you can marry your mate,
you can get an education,
we can overcome hate.
But the job's just beginning
to transform how we live.
What we do to the planet,
what we take, what we give.
Don't make a grand bargain,
that slashes and burns
a safety net that we need,
so our kids eat, thrive and learn.
Tax Wall Street, cut waste,
end wars, tax the rich.
Turn green with great haste,
Frankenstorms are a bitch.
The people have spoken,
we've chosen our path.
Now get to work Mr. President,
look at the math.
America's not broke,
the resources are there.
We've gotta be bold,
and create for all a fair share.
Among other things, Karen Dolan is the Institute for Policy Studies' deadline poet. IPS-dc.org
November 6, 2012 · By Lacy MacAuley
Join the Election Night Party with the Institute for Policy Studies to hear from our team of experts for thought and analysis that you won’t hear in the mainstream media. IPS invites you to tune into the livestream of our Election Night Party, 8 PM to 11 PM ET.
We’ll feature a discussion with IPS drug policy expert Sanho Tree on the marijuana legalizations initiatives and how legalization will impact the drug war and our drug policy toward Latin America. You’ll hear a rundown with IPS inequality and economy guru Sarah Anderson on the “inequality vote,” the pro-99-percent candidates versus those whose Congressional actions favor the rich. We’ll have a frank and informative talk with IPS organizer Netfa Freeman on the private polling service that is used by most major broadcast news stations to forecast election winners, and how electronic voting machines may affect democracy.
And we’ll have discussion on much, much more. We'll talk about Proposition 37, the California ballot initiative that would require the labeling of genetically engineered food. We'll break down how marriage equality initiatives are faring four states. We'll review the presidential candidates’ foreign policy positions. And there will be more.
You won’t hear our experts repeat the same old phrases or analysis that you get on network news. The Institute for Policy Studies is a Washington-DC-based think tank speaking truth to power for 50 years. Tonight, we’ll be speaking the truth on livestream.
Join us for our Election Night Party, 8 PM to 11 PM ET, on our UStream Channel: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/live-at-ips