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climate change

Transport Workers and Climate Change: Towards Sustainable, Low-Carbon Mobility

By ITF Climate Change Working Group - International Transport Workers’ Federation, August 4, 2010

This report, now more than a decade old, was remarkably forward-thinking for its time (except for the uncritically positive assessment of Carbon Capture and Storage and Cap-and-Trade, positions the authors would likely now no longer hold. It also, interestingly, includes in an appendix, the delegate of one union affiliate, Robert Scardelletti, President of the Transportation Communications International Union (TCU), an affiliate of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), from the US, who dissented from this report's conclusions, because it's green unionist orientation would "destroy jobs", a position held by the most conservative unions in the AFL-CIO.

From the introduction:

Climate change is the biggest single challenge ever faced by human civilization. Human economic activity has put so much carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) into the atmosphere that serious global warming is already happening. As a society, we have no choice but to reduce these emissions drastically in order to stand a good chance of avoiding potentially catastrophic changes in our climate. Moreover, emissions from transport are rising faster than emissions from any other sector and in some cases the increase in transport emissions is counteracting emissions reductions achieved in other sectors. Lowering transport emissions presents a series of unique and formidable challenges.

The good news for transport workers is that a serious approach to emissions reductions will create new opportunities for quality employment, particularly in public transport, railways (both passenger and freight), transport infrastructure, road repair, and in developing clean transport technologies. But failure to act on climate change will have the opposite effect.

Read the text (PDF).

Coal’s Assault on Human Health

By Alan H Lockwood, Kristen Welker-Hood, Molly Rauch, and Barbara Gottlieb - Physicians for Social Responsibility, November 2009

Coal pollutants affect all major body organ systems and contribute to four of the five leading causes of mortality in the U.S.: heart disease, cancer, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory diseases. This conclusion emerges from our reassessment of the widely recognized health threats from coal. Each step of the coal lifecycle—mining, transportation, washing, combustion, and disposing of postcombustion wastes—impacts human health. Coal combustion in particular contributes to diseases affecting large portions of the U.S. population, including asthma, lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke, compounding the major public health challenges of our time. It interferes with lung development, increases the risk of heart attacks, and compromises intellectual capacity.

Oxidative stress and inflammation are indicated as possible mechanisms in the exacerbation and development of many of the diseases under review. In addition, the report addresses another, less widely recognized health threat from coal: the contribution of coal combustion to global warming, and the current and predicted health effects of global warming.

Read the report (PDF).

Making the Transition: Helping Workers and Communities Retool for the Clean Energy Economy

By Elena Foshay, et. al. - Apollo Alliance and Cornell Global Labor Institute, August 11, 2020

We stand at a critical moment in American history. We face a choice: do we continue with business as usual, ignoring the climate implications of current energy, environmental, and economic policy? Or do we move forward with a new set of priorities aimed at promoting climate stability, energy security, and economic prosperity?

The Politics of Climate Change

Author Unknown - 2009

In recent years climate change has loomed large in the public imagination. Scientifically, there is little doubt that it is a real threat to the future of human civilisation. The greenhouse effect has been known about since the early 19th century — gases in the atmosphere such as carbon dioxide, methane and water vapour trap heat from the sun, causing the climate of the planet to heat up over time. Probably the most spectacular known example of this effect in action is on Venus.

As recently as the 1960s it was thought that Venus might have a climate that could support life. However, in 1962, a US space probe measured its surface temperature at 425°C. Billions of years ago, it had a climate similar to that of earth today — but a runaway greenhouse effect turned it into a ball of fire.

The existence of the greenhouse effect is beyond doubt, as is the fact that humans have been busily pumping large volumes of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere. The only matter for scientific debate concerns exactly what effect the greenhouse gases are having on our climate. As scientists have come up with new and better ways of measuring climate changes, an alarming consensus has emerged.

The global climate has been heating up significantly due to human activity and during the course of the 21st century temperatures will rise at least 1°C more and perhaps as much as 6.5°C. This is likely to have a cataclysmic effect on human civilisation.

Most alarmingly, the melting of ice sheets will see rises in sea levels that will threaten coastal settlements, but that is not the only risk. Any increased volatility in our climate is almost certain to leave it in a state where it is much less capable of sustaining billions of people.

In many ways, the identification in advance of the great risks that human society faces from greenhouse gases is a triumph of modern science. Climatic patterns are immensely complex and to arrive at the current scientific consensus on climate change has required a vast range of sophisticated experiments, new means of measurement and exceedingly elaborate computer models.

Were it not for the powerful tools of modern science, humanity would have walked blindly into an environmental catastrophe that might have wiped it out. However, there is a big gap between understanding the problem and coming up with a way of addressing it.

Circumstances Affecting the Heat of the Sun's Rays

Circumstances Affecting the Heat of the Sun's Rays - By Eunice Foote as read before the American Association of Science and Arts, August 23, 1856

Irish physicist John Tyndall is commonly credited with discovering the greenhouse effect, which underpins the science of climate change.  However, it was (in fact) a woman, named Eunice Foote who actually deserves the credit (as this article describes). Women often do much of the work in this world, and, under the patriarchical capitalist system we seek to overthrow, they rarely receive proper credit (until much later, if ever).

Read her summary, here (PDF).

Guilty, Guilty: Earth First! - IWW Greenhouse Demo

By Judi Bari -  Composite of two articles from Industrial Worker, March 1989 and Earth First! Journal, Nov. 1, 1988; A substantially shortened summary also appeared in the Mendocino Commentary, October 6, 1988.

Web Editor's Note: Both the Industrial Worker and Earth First! Journal versions of this article are abridged in different places (evidently they’re both excerpted from a common press release). The following represents a combination of both articles. This is the very first article Judi Bari wrote for the Industrial Worker.

The best thing about our regional Earth First! gath-erings are the demonstrations afterwards. I mean, as long as you’ve got 200 yahooing Earth First!ers together, you might as well do an action. So, in keeping with this venerable tradition, our California Rendezvous September 16–18, 1988, we decided to indict some of the criminals responsible for the greenhouse effect. After all, as Fellow Worker Utah Phillips told us, “The earth isn’t dying; it’s being killed, and the people killing it have names and addresses.”

So we decided to use a traditional Wobbly tactic of an all-day roving picket line with the theme of the Greenhouse Effect. We printed indictment forms (with blanks to fill in the company name) and whipped up a few big banners saying “Guilty Guilty-Greenhouse Effect Violator,” and prepared some indictment forms to lay on the perpetrators.

We had plenty of violators to pick from, but time constraints forced us to limit it to four—Simpson Pulp Mill, MAXXAM / Pacific Lumber Corporation (in Scotia, CA), Eel River Sawmills, and a public hearing on offshore oil.

Simpson was the most dramatic. We gathered in the morning drizzle at Arcata Plaza. By the time our caravan reached Simpson pulp mill, we were 100 strong. Truck drivers were surprised by the sudden appearance of a raggedy mob, just back from three days in the woods, blocking the entrance road to the Simpson plant. We stretched our banners out in the road and, as the Arcata Union described it, “As a truck tried to turn onto Samoa Blvd., the Earth First!ers stood firm in its way and started howling like coyotes.” The first truck stopped and we ran over to tell the driver that the IWW says take a break on us. That was fine with him, and he kicked back to enjoy the show. The driver coming the other direction, though, didn’t take it so easy. No damn hippies were gonna stop him from going to work—he was going to ram our line. “Stop Mr. Block!” chanted the crowd, but the truck kept coming until Earth First!er Corbin Solomon courageously dove under the front wheel of the moving semi. The driver stopped, cursed, then rolled forward. Our line held firm, and people started yelling “Brian Willson!”  as the truck wheels came within feet of Corbin’s body before it finally stopped.

IWW rep Billy Don Robinson jumped up on the truck’s running board to talk some sense into his fellow wage slave. But Mr. Block wasn’t in a talking mood, and took a swing at Bill Don. “No jobs on a dead planet!” chanted the crowd, as the standoff continued for 30 minutes, with trucks backed up down the highway in both directions. Finally the police showed up and ordered us to leave. Since we had more work to do that day, we cheerfully obliged, jumping into our cars loudly announcing “Eel River Sawmills next!” Then we proceeded to Pacific Lumber Corp., skipping Eel River for now and losing our police escort.

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