Holiday Table Positives: Climate Edition

Holiday celebrations are approaching, and with them comes opportunities for conversations.  From Uber drivers to that relative, you may have a chance to talk about Biden’s accomplishments or other good news that the media ignores.  Remember, most people do not pay for a newspaper or even watch the news – whatever the reason, they just don’t pay attention. Here are some conversation starters!

Biden and Climate

Did you know that in September, Biden used existing funds to establish the American Climate Corps? He patterned it after the New Deal’s Civilian Conservation Corps. Most of the jobs will need no prior experience, and Biden’s plan is to quickly create 20,000 jobs with good wages, benefits and the right to organize.  He will offer education awards similar to the AmeriCorps program.  The jobs will be in clean energy and climate resilience.  So far, there are state and federal programs working together in Arizona, California, Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Utah and Washington.  

This won’t be your grandfather’s CCC, though – Biden has centered equity and environmental justice at its core.  That simply means fairness.  It means creating good jobs in communities most affected by pollution, usually disadvantaged areas.  It’s not an accident that industrial pollution is worse in communities already suffering; they don’t always have the resources to fight back.  So, the American Climate Corp will create good jobs, where investment will make a huge difference in the health and well-being of its residents.  I’d sure like to see that program continue and expand under another Biden term!

Conversation Tip:  

This might be a great way to bring generations together!  My grandfather was in the 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps – his (all-white male) unit built roads and bridges in the Colorado mountains.  What did your family do in the 30s?  Was the New Deal meaningful to your family?  It’s almost 100 years since then – can we use it again to lift people out of poverty and give back to the nation at the same time?

More good climate news

In August, Montana youth won their lawsuit arguing that their state violated their right to a clean environment.  Why is this so important?  The district court was striking down a Republican state law barring Montana from considering climate impacts when permitting energy projects.  Yes, that’s correct – Republicans wrote a law to say you couldn’t even talk about climate issues during zoning and permitting processes.  

Montana’s constitution is unique in that it includes the right to a “clean and healthful environment,” added in 1972.   The Court affirmed that climate is included in this right. 

Currently, the Republican government of Montana has promoted fossil fuels, especially coal, which is significantly dirtier than natural gas.  The plaintiffs, from age 5 to 22, testified that “climate change has jeopardized their recreation, traditions, mental health and physical health.”  The Indigenous plaintiffs testified that climate change threatens their land and culture.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that 2022 was the 50th anniversary of Montana citizen’s 1972 state constitutional convention that changed their state from a “corporate colony to an era of grassroots democracy.”  It’s an inspiring story of people rising up to do what is right for the land and themselves.  I bet learning about this history helped inspire the current lawsuit!

Conversation Tip:

Ask someone to share their experience in nature.  What makes it important to protect and preserve our natural spaces?  Who really benefits when Republicans allow corporations to industrialize?  Who is hurt?  Climate Change is such a broad term – what does it mean for our wild spaces?