What’s the Green New Deal?

Blog by Justice Promoter, Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

The pros and cons of the Green New Deal have frequently appeared in the press lately. But what is it?  As I did my research, it became clear to me that it’s a vision… a vision of what the United States should be. What country wouldn’t want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that threaten to increase climate disasters beyond return?  Or ensure that everyone has a job that can support his/her family? Or how about promoting justice and equity? It’s all about the Three E’s – Environment, Economy and Equality.

But “the devil is in the details” and it’s clear that what is proposed will need serious consideration and collaboration. This is a BIG, BIG, BIG effort. Most Americans like the principles of the Green New Deal.  In fact, a recent Yale survey found that 81% of registered voters across the political spectrum supported the broad goals presented in the proposal when presented free of political context.

Here are the main elements of the Green New Deal that would be implemented over a ten-year period: (Politifact)

On emissions:

  • eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions as much as technologically feasible
  • build or upgrade to energy-efficient, distributed, and ‘smart’ power grids, and ensure affordable access to electricity
  • work collaboratively with farmers and ranchers in the United States to remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector as much as is technologically feasible

On water:

  • guarantee universal access to clean water

On infrastructure:

  • build resiliency against climate change-related disasters, such as extreme weather
  • upgrade all existing buildings in the United States and building new buildings to achieve maximum energy efficiency, water efficiency, safety, affordability, comfort, and durability, including through electrification
  • provide clean, affordable, and accessible public transit, and high-speed rail

On scientific research:

  • make public investments in the research and development of new clean and renewable energy technologies and industries

On the oppressed:

  • promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth

On education:

  • provide resources, training, and high-quality education, including higher education, to all people of the United States

On labor unions:

  • strengthen and protect the right of all workers to organize, unionize, and collectively bargain free of coercion, intimidation, and harassment

On social services:

  • guarantee a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States
  • provide all people of the United States with high-quality health care, affordable, safe, and adequate housing, and economic security

Ultimately, the goal would be to get the entire world to a net zero greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050 but it’s time the U.S. took a leadership role.

Back in 1932, candidate Franklin Roosevelt promised a new deal that would eventually pull the country out of the Great Depression.  Isn’t this the time to take bold steps to pull the United States and the world back from the brink of climate disaster.

 

 

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Justice Updates – July 2, 2019

Thank you to all who voted on the Death Penalty Corporate Stance. The stance needed 2/3 of eligible sisters to accept. 73% of these sisters supported the corporate stance.  142 associates cast a vote and 94% supported the corporate stance.   Stay tuned for more information about how we will live out our stance.  If you would like to participate in actions in your state, please contact Sr. Barbara Kane at bkane@oppeace.org.

Do you ever think about what chemicals may be in your food? Even Cheerios are not safe to eat.   Friends of the Earth prepared a report that will leave you stunned. Toxic Secret reports that thousands of synthetic pesticides are allowed in non-organic agriculture in the U.S. and many of them are linked to health problems from autism and infertility to cancer and Parkinson’s disease.

 International Migration.  I have focused our attention on the immigrants coming to our southern border but migration due to violence and climate disasters are an international problem. The Grand Councilor of the Order of Malta describes the factors that contribute to 258 million international migrants including climate disasters, political unrest, and human rights violations. Here is his report.

Did you know that the U.S. spends 9 time more on the Pentagon than on education or most other domestic programs? Congress is considering spending $1.7 Trillion on new nuclear weapons while there is not enough money to care for our homeless veterans or provide clean drinking water.  Call your representative and ask her/him to redirect $2 trillion from weapons of war toward priorities of peace.

Would you be able to tell if a person is being trafficked? Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking published this story written by Diana Dombrowski of the Sheboygan Press.

Even victims don’t know they’re being trafficked. So how can you spot the crime and the perpetrators?

Colleen Stratton grew up in Kohler, one of the most affluent communities in Wisconsin. She met her trafficker when she was about to turn 25. By then, she’d already struggled with abuse, self-harm and addiction.

She met that man in Florida after her parents sent her there for addiction treatment. Stratton skipped out on treatment and stayed in a beach-side hotel until her money ran out. Her trafficker, she said, didn’t have to groom her. She was already homeless and detoxing from drugs and alcohol.”He said he was going to take me back to his house and help me get on my feet again,” Stratton said. “A week later, he was raping me and having others rape me.”

Her trafficker also “owned” four other women and kept them in his “stable” — a term used to describe a group of people being trafficked by the same person. He would take her to walk the streets, to truck stops and motels. “I thought that I was just a prostitute,” Stratton said. “I literally just thought, ‘OK, I’m prostituting myself so that I have a place to stay, so that I can have drugs, so that I don’t get beat.'”

Though Stratton didn’t realize it, she’d entered the dark world of human trafficking. The International Labor Organization estimated 40.3 million people were victims of trafficking at any given point in 2016. The signs are subtle but it’s taking place all around us, in towns of all sizes in Wisconsin.

You may have seen someone being trafficked and had no idea it was going on.

 

Professor Donald A. Brown of Widener University Commonwealth Law School writes that natural gas fracking is not the bridge fuel that proponents of natural gas thought.  Here’s what’s happening.

Press coverage of natural gas fracking controversies in Pennsylvania and other places where natural gas fracking has boomed in the last few decades has mostly focused on disputed claims about gas development’s adverse environmental impacts to water, air, forests, and land, while largely ignoring natural gas’ continuing contribution to ominously rising atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations.

When the natural gas fracking boom began about two decades ago, proponents of natural gas combustion often sold it as a “bridge fuel” for climate change because natural gas combustion only emits only 53% of the CO2 emitted by coal combustion provided that methane leakage from the gas production and distribution system is less than 3% of the produced gas. Although the actual amount of methane leakage from gas production remains somewhat contentious, even if there is no methane leakage from gas production, because the international community has understood for at least a decade that the world must move toward zero carbon emissions within several decades to prevent climate catastrophe, government action to replace natural gas with non-fossil energy should have been an imperative at least throughout the last decade of natural gas fracking expansion to make the transition to non-fossil energy needed to avoid planetary disaster feasible.

The failure to move quickly to non-fossil energy in the last decade is partially responsible for the rise of atmospheric CO2 to reach 415 ppm, a concentration never experienced in human history. Because even modest amounts of additional warming above current global elevated temperatures create the risk that certain thresholds, or “tipping points,” in the climate system may be exceeded causing much more abrupt climate change, human-induced climate change creates grave threats to life on Earth. For this reason, every country in the world agreed in Paris in 2015 to act to limit additional warming as close as possible to 1.5 0C but no more than 2.00 C.  

Yet, to achieve the Paris Agreement’s warming limit goals will require an “all hands on deck” by all governments at all levels to completely decarbonize their economies by 2045 to keep warming below 1.5 0C and by 2070 to achieve the 2.00 C limit. Making matters worse, when the 2.00 C goal was adopted in Paris, many scientists believed that achieving this warming limit would prevent abrupt climate change that would be caused if the Earth’s climate tipping points were exceeded. Yet, recent evidence has frightened many climate scientists because a few of the tipping points, including rapid increases in methane and CO2 emissions liberated when artic permafrost melts, are already beginning to appear, making the climate crisis a staggering global emergency.

Yet climate change is not only a horrific future calamity, the 1.1 0 C temperature rise the Earth has experienced since the beginning of the industrial revolution has already caused brutal suffering by causing increases in killer hurricanes, unprecedented flooding, droughts, forest fires, storm surges, climate refugees, increases in vector-borne and tropical diseases, killer heat stresses, loss of valued ecological systems including coral reefs around the world, and human conflict in Syria and parts of Africa. Because natural gas combustion has contributed to raising atmospheric GHG concentrations which is causing these horrors, nations have both a moral and legal duty under the “no harm principle,” a provision of customary international law agreed to by the United States in the 1992 United Nations climate convention to not harm citizens in other countries. Thus, all levels of government in the US must replace energy technologies which emit GHGs with technologies that don’t raise atmospheric GHG concentrations ASAP.

In addition, the two most compelling arguments that proponents of rapid natural gas expansion sometimes made in opposition to ambitious proposed policies that would replace fossil fuels with renewable energy are no longer viable if they ever were.  First, although at one-time wind and solar energy were more expensive than gas, renewable energies are now competing favorably with fossil energy on cost. Second although renewable energies need backup sources of energy when the wind is not blowing or the sun is not shining, energy storage technologies including batteries, are rapidly improving in capacity while lowering price. This is the reason that growing numbers of national and local governments have set targets to achieve 100% renewable energy in the electricity sector and ambitious targets to replace fossil fuel powered vehicles with electrically powered transport in the next several decades.

For these reasons, Pennsylvania and other places where natural gas fracking has boomed must acknowledge that the only bridge that natural gas is now a bridge to is a bridge to world catastrophe and therefore must adopt policies to replace all fossil fuel technologies with technologies which don’t emit GHGs ASAP.

Posted in News

LAUGHTER DOES GOOD, JUST LIKE MEDICINE

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

Once you start laughing, you start healing.

That is something one of my late mentor’s used to say. He would say “Colette, you will always be able to conquer anything as long as you can continue to laugh in the midst of adversity. Laughter is the best medicine you can have.”

I was reminded of his words recently when I heard a new gospel song by BeBe Winans and Korean Soul called “Laughter Just Like Medicine.”

It turns out that the singers and my beloved mentor (a psychologist and religious brother) are right.

Scientists and researchers say that laughing is medically beneficial. Studies show that laughter boosts the immune system and triggers the release of pleasure-inducing neurochemicals in the brain.

Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increase blood flow; reduces pain and allows toleration of discomfort; and relaxes the body. It creates a positive emotional climate and a sense of connection between people and produces a general sense of well-being.

When was the last time you had a good laugh?

Go ahead, take your medicine. Click here to start: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuQOnT6R6mY

 

Posted in Associate Blog, News