Labor, Community and Environmental Activists Need to Find Common Ground for a Green New Deal

by on October 14, 2019 · 0 comments

in Environment, San Diego, Under the Perfect Sun

Labor and the Environment Panel – Wednesday, October 16th

By Jim Miller

In Naomi Klein’s new book, On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal, she outlines precisely how challenging it will be to respond to the climate crisis in the urgent fashion called for in the last UN IPCC report:

Pulling off this high-speed pollution phaseout, the report establishes, is not possible with singular technocratic approaches like carbon taxes, though those tools must be a part.  Rather it requires deliberately and immediately changing how our societies produce energy, how we grow our food, how we move ourselves around, and how our buildings are constructed. 

What is needed, the report’s summary states in its first sentence, is “rapid, far reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”.

In the face of this daunting task, the answer to the question “What can I do as an individual?” is, Klein tells us, “nothing.”  What is needed is not individual consumer choices or other changes of habit but rather collective action.  Hence, she argues, “We can only meet this tremendous challenge together, as part of a massive and organized global movement.”

Ironically, Klein observes, it has been the world’s least powerful people who have been the first to recognize this because their “individual powerlessness pushed them to be politically ambitious, to demand structural change.”

In wealthier countries like our own, we have been seduced by the siren call of neoliberalism to believe more in consumerist fantasies of individual choice and other market-based flights of fancy to combat climate change.  Thus, we too easily abandon fights for big structural change and think small when, at present, the pressing need is to think big.

Klein convincingly makes the case in “On Fire” that, despite the pushback it has received, the Green New Deal is the most compelling opportunity born out of the climate crisis.  She’s right both because the GND offers us a vision commensurate with the problem we face on the climate front and because its focus on climate justice seeks to marry environmental action with economic transformation.

In sum, done the right way, a Green New Deal would address the threat of climate catastrophe in a fashion that would, like the original New Deal, lift up rather than displace millions of working-class people.

Of course, such a bold course of action will require a lot of movement building.

It necessitates that labor, community, and environmental activists get out of their silos and find common ground to do the essential work of creating a just, sustainable world.  Right now there are frequent conflicts and political battles that have pitted us against each other.  To move beyond this, we need to start thinking about what a common movement to save the planet should look like locally, nationally, and globally.

The time we have is short.  Therefore the task of envisioning a broader vision of intersectional solidarity is urgent work.

This Wednesday, October 16th the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council Environmental Caucus and the San Diego Democrats for Environmental Action are taking a step toward furthering this conversation.

Labor and the Environment Panel at San Diego Democrats for Environmental Action
Wednesday, October 16th at 6:00 PM
At Elijah’s Restaurant
7061 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard

Please consider joining us in this important dialogue.

Details on the panel from the SD Democrats for Environmental Action Facebook page are below:

After several months of planning, it’s our pleasure to host a panel featuring members of the Environmental Caucus of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council at our October General Membership Meeting.

Dr. Jim Miller of AFT Guild 1931 will moderate the panel, featuring Rick Bates of UNITE HERE Local 30, Dalia Tayag with California Nurses Association, and Micah Mitrosky with IBEW Local 569. Panelist presentations will be followed by Q and A.

Join us for an informative and lively discussion of the opportunities and challenges forging the labor and environmental movements into a common struggle to advance environmental justice, preserve our open spaces and biodiversity, and avert the climate catastrophe. Social begins at 6 p.m., and the meeting begins promptly at 6:30 p.m.

Basic refreshments (tea, ice tea, water) are provided by the club free of charge. Additional dinner service is available throughout the meeting at Elijah’s Restaurant, located at 7061 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.


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