You Say You Want a Revolution
In the “Climate Revolution” issue [May 12], Christopher Hayes, Mark Hertsgaard, Naomi Klein and Dan Zegart illuminated the changes needed in economics, law and patterns of thinking to address climate change. I only wish they had given attention to a measure many climate activists consider pivotal: the revenue-neutral carbon tax. As proposed by Citizens’ Climate Lobby, this measure would tax carbon dioxide (or equivalent greenhouse gas) emissions at $15 a ton and increase by $10 a ton each year. The plan is revenue-neutral because all money collected would be returned to US citizens, which would protect lower- and middle-income households from the burden of higher energy prices. An analysis by the Carbon Tax Center projects that 66 percent of households would break even or come out ahead under the plan. Nation readers who want to work for a solution to the climate crisis should join or start a CCL chapter (see citizensclimatelobby.org).
Yes, we need a climate revolution! We need to tie climate stabilization proposals to progressive economic policies—for example, government green-job-creation programs and community-choice energy programs that provide customers with clean energy while protecting them from soaring utility rates.
Your pieces on climate change were spot-on. But there was no mention of overpopulation. World population has tripled since the warnings of Julian Huxley and others in the 1950s. The Ford administration’s 1975 National Security Study memorandum detailed much of the problem, called for universal access to contraception, and said abortion should be decriminalized. But it was mysteriously “classified,” buried until 1989, and is never mentioned.
silver spring, md.
The plan of the world’s decision-making elites is to expand fossil fuel use for at least another twenty or thirty years. This is clear from investments and reports of forecasting organizations and the business press. There is no intention of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius. Mass death from lack of living space, food and water, and from wars, etc., will inevitably follow. But the victims will be the poor—and therefore irrelevant to the economy. Consumerism may continue to flourish for a good while in a world with a diminished population.
Here’s the deal: little will be done in the short term—the next few decades. Later, after significant consequences like the flooding of Miami, there will be successful good-faith efforts, but by then temperature rise will be much more than 2 degrees Celsius.
Naomi Klein focuses on the need for each of us to dramatically reduce our carbon footprint. For most Nation readers, the best place to start is flying less; the biggest emission of carbon dioxide comes from air travel. Three round-trip flights from Chicago to Frankfurt generate 10.6 tons of CO2 per passenger; three round trips from Philadelphia to San Francisco create six tons per passenger. The average American creates nineteen tons of CO2 annually compared with a European’s ten tons (go to footprintnetwork.org and take the short quiz).
Allen J. Davis
The average American can’t do much to combat the influence of the big oil companies or to change our country’s problematic energy policies. But not eating meat is something we all can do to reduce climate change—not to mention to save water, alleviate disparities in food availability, combat most Western diseases (heart disease, cancer, diabetes, autoimmune disorders) and stop unconscionable animal suffering.
new york city
Working for Kids—All Kids
Gary Younge, in his May 12 column, “Yes, It’s a Racial Thing,” critiqued the “unbearable whiteness of the left” in his online version. He took issue with a grassroots panel at the Network for Public Education conference led by four white people. A grassroots panel that did not include people of color was a mistake. However, there were many panelists of color who led discussions at the NPE conference—thirty-four panelists of color, of some 100 total.
We do not raise this as a defense of the oversight on that particular panel, but to underscore that our priority is to partner with diverse stakeholders across the nation. The work we share—challenging the misguided “reforms” we see damaging our children and communities—calls for us all to overcome overt and covert discrimination. We seek to strengthen our connections with one another and ensure that the voices of all are included and heard.
The NPE is just over a year old. We were honored to host stakeholders from across the country in Austin this year, and we look forward to standing with friends and allies as we build alliances to support the best education possible for all our children.
Diane Ravitch, Julian Vasquez-Heilig, Robin Hiller, Anthony Cody, Mark B. Miller, Leonie Haimson, Phyllis Bush, Colleen Doherty-Woods, Bertis Downs
NPE board of directors
I highlighted this particular NPE panel not because I believe the NPE is the worst offender, but because the all-white panel and the response to the question about it were so emblematic of a broader problem: the degree to which people of color and low-income people are marginalized within organizations on the left.
There are only so many isolated “oversights” one can acknowledge before one understands them as part of a pattern. If we are serious about challenging that pattern, the demands and participation of people of color and low-income people must be integral to the agendas and workings of progressive movements like the NPE, from the base to the board. (At the NPE website, of nine board members, only one appears to be a person of color. I cannot speak to its class composition.)
That pattern emerges from a history of economic and racial inequality. It didn’t emerge from one panel and isn’t limited to the question of representation. The central issue is diversity and racial and economic justice. As I wrote, “This ought to be a civil conversation among friends.” Such conversations demand generosity and honesty. I support the NPE agenda and want it to be effective. I’m glad it exists. I want it to thrive. For that, you will not only need people of color and low-income people to be friends and allies. You will need them to be you.