Facing Global Challenges
Thank you for launching a debate in your pages on geoengineering as a tool to avert climate catastrophe [“Should Governments Consider Engineering the Atmosphere?” by Oliver Morton and Amy Westervelt, April 19/26]. The fundamental problem becomes evident in the first two words of your title. Although global warming is the greatest global challenge we have ever faced, we have nothing like a global government, or Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s 1835 “Parliament of man,” to confront it. Both Morton and Westervelt recognize that virtually any kind of geoengineering will affect different nations in wildly different ways. In our world of separate, sovereign states, it seems far from unlikely, perhaps even inevitable, that individual nations will pursue geoengineering projects which might benefit that nation today but harm both the rest of the planet today and generations unborn tomorrow. So how about a debate in the pages of The Nation on redesigning international institutions, reinventing the United Nations, and reimagining global governance to discern and pursue global public policies (on climate and much else) that serve common human interests and the global public good?
Director of Policy Analysis,
Citizens for Global Solutions
While offering a wealth of caveats urging a cautionary approach to geoengineering, neither Morton nor Westervelt addresses a critical issue in this debate. Although geoengineering efforts in carbon dioxide reduction, such as actual tree planting or artificial tree deployment, could reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide to our benefit, solar radiation management would address only the warming and do absolutely nothing to reduce ocean acidification, as the release of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide also drives ocean acidification when absorbed into our waters. Indeed, by allowing fossil fuel combustion to continue, the solar geoengineering approach would likely enhance ocean acidification at the expense of marine ecosystems and our fisheries.
Southern Oregon Climate Action Now
A Win for Workers
Re Nelson Lichtenstein’s review of Gabriel Winant’s important new book, The Next Shift, about the caring economy [“The Age of Care,” April 19/26]: While Professor Lichtenstein is correct that the health care industry as a whole suffers from a relatively low unionization rate, it should be noted that home care worker organizing, predominantly led by Black women and other women of color, grew by over 600,000 new members in the Service Employees International Union and others from the 1990s to the 2000s, one of the largest and most successful organizing drives of the modern labor movement.
I have long been a loyal, enthusiastic subscriber to the Nation, as were my parents for decades before me. So I must confess to feeling huge surprise and dismay when I was reading Jane McAlevey’s “Blowout in Bessemer,” only to discover that she had attacked me, a fellow labor journalist, for supposedly “overhyping” coverage of the Amazon unionization battle in order to gain “clicks” and “followers.” (The Century Foundation had asked me to write a major story laying out the issues, tactics and stakes in the Amazon unionization fight, and they co-published my story with The Guardian.)
In accusing me along with several other journalists of overhyping in order to gain clicks, McAlevey impugned our professionalism and integrity. I was a reporter for The New York Times for 31 years, 19 of them covering labor, and anyone with minimal knowledge of my work knows I don’t hype things.
After McAlevey’s story appeared, I asked her to give me one example of how my story overhyped anything. She failed to do so. I invite The Nation’s readers to read my story to decide whether McAlevey was being fair and honest in accusing me of overhyping. Many labor experts said the Amazon unionization effort was the most important, most high-stakes unionization effort in years, if not decades, so it was dismaying to see McAlevey, The Nation’s chief labor expert—her title is strikes correspondent—criticizing other labor journalists for “overhyping,” when they were merely giving a very important labor story the attention and coverage it deserved.
I’ve been reading Steven Greenhouse’s stories for more than 20 years. In that time, among my fellow unionists, I’ve often defended his right to criticize unions when they deserved criticism. The story I wrote in The Nation wasn’t about Greenhouse. It was about how workers fighting Amazon might succeed in future campaigns. But it remains the case that his coverage of that failed effort—a failure most veteran labor organizers saw coming very early on—clearly painted a rosy picture at odds with the reality of what it takes to win a serious anti-union campaign. Did Greenhouse “overhype” the prospects of victory at Amazon? Readers can examine his stories and decide for themselves. Such coverage certainly contributed to a dangerous narrative that workers can’t win by setting up the future of labor as riding on Bessemer. Finally, you’d hope an elder statesman of labor journalism would understand that it was never about him—and perhaps be a tad less thin-skinned.