Tag Archive | "Mother Jones"

Climate Change: How bad can it be?

It is easy to become lulled into intellectual somnolence by the seemingly gradual changes we are incurring in our weather. After all, just how bad can a couple of degrees be?

Oh, we wake up every once in a while when our catastrophe leads media reports on some hurricane, flood or tornado, especially if the event is half-a-world away. We all thought that the outbreak of tornadoes that struck the Southeast this spring was bad enough It truly was in Tuscaloosa. Then, we had to live vicariously through Joplin again. I remember May, 1971 tornado that hit Joplin. But we need to pay more attention to the facts of what is happening rather than jumping to unsubstantiated conclusions.

Heidi Cullen give a good summary of what we know about climate change and tornadoes in this post at Huffington Post and then repeated, with comments, by Joe Romm at Climate Progress I give you that link as Joe’s bracketed comments point to additional information

Still, we need more understanding than that and this Mother Jones summary of a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists does just that, bringing attention to the relationship between climate (temperature), ozone and health. There is a lot to piece together and the collage is not a pretty picture or a wonderful future.

The report, published yesterday by the Union of Concerned Scientists, concludes that CO2-induced temperature increases will worsen ground-level ozone concentrations (the kind coming from power plants and exhaust pipes, not the kind that shields the Earth from UV rays). Higher concentrations of ground-level ozone threaten the health of millions of Americans, an impact that could cost the US $5.4 billion in 2020.

As someone who suffered with asthma as a child, and that was long before we had inhalers or corticosteroids to deal with the symptoms. Asthma is not what I would wish on any child but that is what we are doing.

There are two recent takes on the effects of this. One is a post at Climate Progress that recognizes asthma as an environmental justice issue facing, primarily, people of color. The other is a rather straight forward determination that Californians will be the most affected and shows up on the KQED (SF) blog: Climate Watch. They both comment on the same report, just frame it differently.

This is going to be additive to the problems that we already have in California. A 2006 report from CSU Fullerton found that air pollution was costing California’s some $3 billion annually. Included in this finding were:

23,300 asthma attacks
188,000 days of school absences
3,230 cases of acute bronchitis in children

The authors updated and expanded that study in 2008. This time they included the corridor leading away from the port at Long Beach and all that diesel traffic. Now the cost to California was $28 Billion annually and the costs to our children, in terms of health and education were more striking;

Asthma attacks: 141,370
Days of school absence: 1,259,840
Cases of acute bronchitis in children: 16,110
Days of respiratory symptoms in children: 2,078,300

This is the base problem to which we are adding an additional load from increase pollution.
While the current economic conditions will alter the monetary value, the number of events do not change. Even with school funding being cut and cut, those lost school days deprive our education system of what it really needs to do its job as funding formulas use average daily attendance.

If Greens want to work for better education, if we want to lower the cost of health care, if we want a better future for our children, then we had better be spending a lot of time on the battle for a rational climate policy. It is as important as anything else we do, since it deal with everything at once: energy, the economy, health care, education. The economic cost for California would be as high as $1.8 billion / yr by 2020 if we do nothing. The cost to our children can not be so easily calculated.

Posted in News

Mother Jones

Mother Jones. 1902

“I asked a man in prison once how he happened to be there, and he said he had stolen a loaf of bread. I told him if he had stolen a railroad, he’d be a U.S. Senator.”

Mother Jones (1837-1930) was socialist and one of the greatest labor organizers the US has seen. She co-founded the Industrial Workers of the World (AKA the Wobblies) and was instrumental in bringing the issues of child labor and mine safety to the country. She organized miners in West Virginia, thousands of them. A local prosecutor called her “the most dangerous woman in America.” She was denounced on the floor of the US Senate as the “grandmother of all agitators” to which she famously replied “”I hope to live long enough to be the great-grandmother of all agitators.”

Mother Jones Museum has started an archive about her and Wikipedia has a useful bio about her.

[Poet] Carl Sandburg, in The American Songbag, suggests that the “she” in “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain” was a reference to Mother Jones and her travels to Appalachian mountain coal mining camps promoting the unionization of the miners.

More Mother Jones quotes

“Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.”

“My friends, it is solidarity of labor we want. We do not want to find fault with each other, but to solidify our forces and say to each other: “We must be together; our masters are joined together and we must do the same thing.”

“I am not afraid of the pen, or the scaffold, or the sword. I will tell the truth wherever I please.”

“I believe that no man who holds a leader’s position should ever accept favors from either side. He is then committed to show favors. A leader must stand alone.”

“The miners lost because they had only the constitution. The other side had bayonets. In the end, bayonets always win.”

“My address is like my shoes. It travels with me. I abide where there is a fight against wrong.”

“If they want to hang me, let them. And on the scaffold I will shout Freedom for the working class!”

“I’m not a humanitarian, I’m a hell-raiser.”

May one thousand Mother Jones’ bloom.

Posted in News


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