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Green Program

I’m encouraged by the growth of the movement to stem global warming and the resulting climate change and resource depletion. Activists worldwide are confronting the corporate despoilers on many fronts and localities, but we lack agreement about how to make basic change with so many important variables and connected issues. With these seven demands, I’m trying to define the building blocks of a climate justice movement.

1. Tax fossil fuel extraction: Based on the government’s estimates of the social cost of carbon pollution, some green capitalists have proposed a tax of $38/ton on carbon produced by burning fossil fuels. As capitalists, they want to tax the end product, because that primes the engine of our system – intermediate profit-driven exchanges – and the end-user can pass on the cost of the tax to consumers. Instead, we should impose this tax at the point of extraction. This will dramatically raise the cost at the well/pipe/mine, and would increase costs for all intermediate profiteers, thus discouraging extraction.

2. Clean-up toxic sites: These sites usually are located close to low-income neighborhoods populated by people of color. Since the military has declared climate change a national security issue, we should demand that funds be taken from the military budget to clean toxic sites, starting with those located near densest populations in the poorest places.

3. Vatican divestment: The Vatican has given no indication that it will divest from fossil fuel companies, but such action follows logically from the Pope’s environmental encyclical. As I wrote in a recent blog. “Vatican divestment, coupled with the Church’s urging its parishioners to follow suit, would have a momentous impact. The divestment movement would become an exponentially more powerful international force once the Catholic Church jumped on its bandwagon.”

4. Wages up, hours and consumption down: Labor wants full employment and a living wage. These are legitimate demands, but if they lead to more production and consumption, even if generated by “green jobs,” greenhouse gas emissions will increase. Substantial wage increases, beyond $15/hr, must be accompanied by a reduced work-week of 25 hours and a radical decrease in consumption of disposable items. Together, these three changes will not only produce a living wage and less production, but also free people to pursue artistic, intellectual, and leisure activities with minimal carbon footprints and maximize comunity building.

5. Subject the military to environmental regulation: The United States military is the institution with the largest carbon footprint in the world. For stated national security reasons the military is exempted from environmental regulation and reporting requirements. We must demand that the military be subject to all environmental regulations and that its annual carbon footprint be made public.

6. Universal education for girls: Nothing brings the birthrate down more quickly than providing universal primary and secondary school education for girls. Unlike the veiled racism of mainstream family-planning organizations’ drive to prevent third-world women of color from giving birth, there is nothing racist about educating young girls. This is a positive way to contain population growth and ultimately reduce it to sustainable levels.

7. Know your footprint: States should develop a clear and precise online application for taxpayers to calculate their carbon footprint and grant a tax credit for doing so. Knowing your carbon footprint will not cause systemic change, but it will enable millions to make informed energy-related choices and spark further discussion of how to reduce greenhouse gas output.

This list is not complete, but these seven items take on the fossil fuel companies and the military-industrial complex, encourage alliances between people of color, labor, peace and green activists, and begin to address the important issues of over-population, divestment and personal responsibility. That’s my beginning. Please critique and add your thoughts.  Read More 
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