Last month the largest rally on climate change in history took place in Washington, D.C. with companion events in other cities across the county. As a follow-up and to keep pressure on the Administration and Congress to take meaningful action on climate change, a group called Interfaith Moral Action on Climate (IMAC) is organizing another protest outside the White House on March 21st. Participants will be gathering in Lafayette Park across the street from the White House at 11 am. If you are going to be in Washington then or are interesting in showing solidarity with their actions, we at the RAC encourage you to do so.
This post is part of our Passover series, in which we think about the application of our age-old Passover story and traditions to the crucial issues we face today. For ways to infuse your seder with social justice, see our holiday guide.
We all know the story of Passover. In response to Pharaoh’s refusal to free the Jews from slavery, God unleashed ten plagues upon the Egyptians to entice their leader’s acquiescence. These punishments were ecological disasters, which had devastating effects on the Egyptians; even the Jews were impacted by some of them, namely blood, frogs and lice. The key to the story is the great suffering that had to be endured until the Egyptian’s leader finally agreed to free the slaves.
Last week 38 experts including members of the national security teams of the last 7 administrations, retired congressmen and senators, and 9 retired generals and admirals sent a letter to congress asking members to approve aid to poor countries to combat climate change and assist with adaptation. Despite the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, the drought in the Midwest and Southwest, and a record number of forest fires, the United States has thus far been able to band together to bounce back from the disasters brought on by climate change. However, many in the developing world have not been so fortunate. Though the debates in Washington about our fiscal solvency might paint a different picture, the reality is that the United States is able to afford to pay the excess costs incurred from climate changes.
In the words of Vice Admiral McGinn, former Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfare Requirements and Programs, speaking in 2009, “We have less than 10 years to change our fossil fuel dependency course in significant ways. Our nation’s security depends on the swift, serious and thoughtful response to the inter-linked challenges of energy security and climate change. Our elected leaders and, most importantly, the American people should realize this set of challenges isn’t going way. We cannot continue business as usual.”
It doesn’t get much more serious than that.
Image Courtesy of Partnership for a Secure America.
If you have been following RACblog, you know that we have been discussing the nation’s need to cut its carbon emissions and begin to think seriously about the economic and environmental costs of failing to address our growing carbon footprints. However, you also probably know that sequestration, the massive across-the-board spending cuts and revenue increases that were enacted by congress in 2011 to force both parties to compromise on a solution to the nation’s fiscal issues, went into effect at midnight. While we may not see the direct effects for another couple of weeks, rest assured that baring major congressional action, we will be seeing them shortly.
Many programs will be hurt by these cuts including some significant environmental impacts. First and foremost, there will be cuts to FEMA, including relief money for the damages caused by Hurricane Sandy. About 9% of the recovery activity will be cut. In addition many of the grants issues by FEMA, which fund first responders including police, firemen and EMTs, will see major cuts. In the event of another major storm or other disaster many local communities may suddenly be unable to respond as effectively. National parks will cut hours and visitor services, the effects of which could trickle down to small businesses that depend on tourists visiting the parks for their income.
Regardless of the chaos and disruption that will likely arrive in the next few weeks, there will be a general slowing of the permitting process for oil and gas extraction on federal lands. So we have that going for us…
Image Courtesy of Capitol Markets.
On Sunday an estimated 40,000 people flooded the National Mall to try and create a “super storm” of discourse on and infuse new energy into the congressional struggle to enact meaningful action on climate change. The dead zone of the debate expanded to an unprecedented level in 2012 as the presidential candidates avoided the subject altogether. However, the rising tide of natural disasters has prompted the environmental and interfaith communities to raise the temperature on Congress to act.
Sunday’s historic gathering brought environmental activists together for the biggest rally calling attention to climate change in U.S. history. Specifically, the protestors focused their efforts on the Administration’s plans to expand the Keystone pipeline. Supporters of the pipeline argue that it could create 20,000 jobs, while environmental activists warn against the potential environmental risks. Obama has certainly been helping the wind blow in a new direction with his high profile pledge to take action in his second inaugural address and the state of the union.
It remains to be seen what – if any – legislation on climate change will come out of the 113th Congress, but we can only hope that a combination of mass action by the people and pressure from the Administration will convince Congress to take action – especially given that the biggest potential legislation that has materialized in recent years ended more or less like this.
Image Courtesy of the ICJ Project.
Mounting statistical evidence shows that the population of the United States not only believes that climate disruption is real but also that the federal government should take major action to avert or at least mitigate its damage. Why, then, has federal action on the issue been so minimal? Perhaps it is simply that our voices have not yet been loud enough to resonate in the echo chambers of Washington, D.C.
To that end, organizers are planning a climate rally on February 17 here in Washington with parallel events taking place in other cities around the country. The rally will call on the President to take major steps to carry out the promise he made in his second Inaugural Address: To protect the earth from the ravages of climate disaster.
If you will be in D.C. for the rally, there will be a gathering of interfaith activists who will participate together to show that protecting our climate is an issue for all people of faith. The group will gather between 11:30 and 12:30 at the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden on the National Mall (between 7th and 9th Streets SW) – on the north/Mall side on the gravel pathway. The closest Metro station is L’Enfant Plaza (green, yellow, orange, or blue lines). Look for Tim Kumfer, of the Festival Center, and Rose Berger, of Sojourners, who will be carrying a large “dove” to help you find the group. From there the crowd will march to the White House.
Image Courtesy of Nation of Change.
Tonight, President Obama will deliver his State of the Union address to Congress and the nation. Leaders of the Reform Jewish Movement are highlighting key issues they hope President Obama will address in the speech and calling on the President and Members of Congress to act swiftly on pressing domestic and international concerns.