We want to start this introduction to the SustainABILITY issue of The BeZine with a pause and breath.
Go ahead, breathe in deeply. This is both calming and symbolic of the interrelated crises of humanity at this time.
Three huge, potentially shattering issues loom large today, what commentator Elizabeth Sawin, Co-Director of the nonprofit Climate Interactive calls “three massive threats”:
Climate Change, COVID-19, Racism
a sustainABILITY pastiche
Climate change concerns the atmosphere and excessive carbon.
Breathe in again, deeply. Breathe out.
That exhalation, as you probably know, is CO2, carbon dioxide. We breathe the atmosphere.
And, as we pollute it, we poison our own breaths through industry, fossil fuels, factory farming, and other human activity. We poison the globe. And as climate change continues its charge ahead in leaps and bounds, it will be increasingly difficult for us to breathe, literally.
Climate Change hits much more than White areas in what Hop Hopkins (“Racism is Killing the Planet,” Sierra Club) calls the “Sacrifice Zones,” where White Supremacy’s “Disposable People” live. The 1% remain more secure and protected.
Have you tried to breathe when the temperatures go above body temperature (37C / 98.6F)? Imagine what it must be like for those locations that have had recent record-breaking temperatures of around 50C / 122F?
Where do you think waste is dumped? Where are polluting industries and power plants built? Who lives in areas that risk their health the most? Certainly not those with money, status, and power in societies.
How long can we continue this way? Are we able to find a path to sustain life on earth (human and otherwise)? That is the goal—sustainABILITY.
From Climate to Pandemic
What we should fear now is a perfect storm: a health, economic and mental health crisis. —Slavoj Zizek (Slavoj Zizek’s ‘Brutal, Dark’ Formula for Saving the World, Haaretz interview, 04 June 2020)
According to a 2015 study published in PNAS, a 30,000 year old virus was found in the permafrost of the Arctic, raising concern that rising temperatures could lead to the rise of deadly, archaic illnesses. —cited in Science Alert (Melting Glaciers Are Revealing Dead Bodies And Ancient Diseases, 23 March 2019).
The economic problems will compel those in power to take actions that before this crisis appeared to be radically leftist measures. Even conservatives are having to do things that run against their principles. —Slavoj Zizek (Slavoj Zizek’s ‘Brutal, Dark’ Formula for Saving the World, Haaretz interview, 04 June 2020)
Climate conditions are classified as top predictors of coronavirus illnesses (Dalziel et al., 2018) as wind speed, humidity, temperature and wind speed are critical in the transmission of infectious diseases (Yuan et al., 2006). Bull (1980) reported that pneumonia’s mortality rate is highly correlated with weather changes. —cited in Correlation between climate indicators and COVID-19 pandemic in New York, USA, (Science Direct 20 April 2020)
Higher temperatures and respiratory problems are also linked. One reason is because higher temperatures contribute to the build-up of harmful air pollutants. —U.S. CDC and American Public Health Association (Extreme Heat Can Affect our Health)
COVID-19 blocks our lungs. It literally stops us from breathing. Yes, also organ damage, including heart problems. But it stops our breath, in a world-wide pandemic. Like the global crisis of climate change will, eventually, stop our breath.
There will be more pandemics with continued Global Warming. There will be more disruption, economic loss, social unrest, and all of the things we have seen so far in this pandemic.
Will we avoid the next pandemic? Could a 30,000 year-old virus, or a 150 year-old virus revive to attack? If so, who will have our back? The government?
How will we be able to sustain human and other life on earth if we continue on this path? Will we build a sustainABLE future for our children, our grandchildren? Ourselves?
In the US, even the current CDC admits that COVID-19 has hit POC and Indigenous Peoples, especially African Americans, harder than White people. The 1% remain more secure and protected.
From Pandemic to Race
The effects of COVID-19 on the health of racial and ethnic minority groups is still emerging; however, current data suggest a disproportionate burden of illness and death among racial and ethnic minority groups. —US CDC (COVID-19 in Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups page last reviewed on by CDC June 4 2020)
Robert D. Bullard is a professor at Texas Southern University who has written for more than 30 years about the need to redress environmental racism. He welcomed the statements of support this week from the leaders of big environmental groups but he lamented that the vast amount of donor money still goes to white-led environmental groups.
“I’d like to see these groups start to embrace this whole concept of justice, fairness and equity,” he said. “Those statements need to be followed up with a concerted effort to address the underlying conditions that make for despair.” —(Black Environmentalists Talk About Climate and Anti-Racism, NYTimes, June 2, 2020)
It’s essential to have anti-racism baked into the goals that even white-led organizations are pursuing because both political racism and environmental racism are drivers of our excess pollution and climate denialism. —Heather McGhee, senior fellow at Demos, a nonpartisan research and advocacy group, and the author of a forthcoming book called The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together (cited in Black Environmentalists Talk About Climate and Anti-Racism, NYTimes, June 2, 2020)
Police violence is an aspect of a broader pattern of structural violence, which the climate crisis is a manifestation of. Healing structural violence is actually in the best interest of all human beings. —Sam Grant, executive director of MN350.org, the Minnesota affiliate of the international climate activist group 350.org (cited in Black Environmentalists Talk About Climate and Anti-Racism, NYTimes, June 2, 2020)
Racism has come to the fore with the anti-racist, anti-police-brutality protests and riots since the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. His quoted last words, echoing those of Eric Garner (murdered by police in New York City six years ago): “I can’t breathe.” Protest signs and chants have repeated this phrase thousands of times since last month.
George Floyd, a Black man suspected of passing a counterfeit $20, was strangled by a police officer kneeling on his neck for nearly 9 minutes. Eric Garner, a Black man selling loose cigarettes, was strangled by police using a “choke hold.” The 1% remain totally secure and protected.
Structural, systemic racism is an integral part of our extraction economy, according to Hop Hopkins, writing for The Sierra Club. It keeps those in power in power by dividing us against each other—so that the 1% (or 3% or 5% or 10%) can keep in power and grow their wealth. It is built into not only the U.S, but Western Society.
Devaluing Black and Indigenous people’s lives to build wealth for white communities isn’t new. White settlers began that project in the 15th century, when they arrived in North America. Most Native peoples of North America lived in regenerative relationships with the land; they were careful to take no more than the land could sustain. The settlers had another ethic: They sought to dominate and control. —Hop Hopkins (Sierra Club, Racism is Killing the Planet, June 8, 2020)
From “Three Massive Threats” to SustainABILITY
One of the most baffling things throughout the coronavirus pandemic is that even with a life-threatening global pandemic, sides emerged. At the beginning of the pandemic, I remember thinking that this threat to humanity would unify us and strengthen public trust in science. Boy was I wrong. The economic realities of the pandemic, cries of “just the flu”, and protests against social distancing policies tell a different and complex story. —Marshall Shepherd (3 Common Things In Race, Coronavirus And Climate Change Debates, Forbes, June 12 2020)
I wish I had all the answers, but I don’t. The answer is for all of us to figure out together.
All I know is that if climate change and environmental injustice are the result of a society that values some lives and not others, then none of us are safe from pollution until all of us are safe from pollution. Dirty air doesn’t stop at the county line, and carbon pollution doesn’t respect national borders. As long as we keep letting the polluters sacrifice Black and brown communities, we can’t protect our shared global climate. —Hop Hopkins (Sierra Club, Racism is Killing the Planet, June 8, 2020)
Today we face threemassive threats, and the only way to neutralize any one of them is to succeed at addressing all three at once.…
…we must as soon as possible – in our cities, states and nations – convene emergency task forces to tackle equity, the pandemic and climate change as an integrated whole.
These task forces will need expertise in climate, clean energy, equity, public health, epidemiology and people-centered economics. Each task force should include an additional kind of expertise: the life experience of those who are most impacted by inequity, climate change and COVID-19. Those who live with the impacts of multiple problems often have the most creative ideas about addressing them.
Time and money are in short supply. There isn’t enough of either to treat equity, climate change and the current pandemic as separate issues. A holistic, multisolving approach is an effective, cost-saving way to tackle the great challenges of our times. —Elizabeth Sawin (US News & World Report, Commentary, Why We Can’t Ignore the Link Between COVID-19, Climate Change and Inequity, April 1, 2020)
The June Theme of The BeZine: SustainABILITY
We can’t wait. The time to act is now.
We may want to say, “God save us.” But we have free will, so it is up to us to move forward and make the change, so that we are ABLE to sustain the earth.
Then, perhaps 100% of humans (and other life) would be more secure and protected.
—Michael Dickel, Co-Managing Editor
Much thanks to Michael Dickel for stunning and exhaustive editorial collaboration and technical innovations on this issue, to the whole of the Zine team for stalwart efforts and supports, to our readers and supporters who share our peaceable values, and to Margaret Shaw for the wonderful header-art gracing this edition of the Zine.
In the spirit of love (respect) and community and on behalf of The Bardo Group Beguines,
—Jamie Dedes, Founding Editor and Co-Managing Editor
Table of Contents
“Earth care, as it turns out, is really about self-care and other-care. What we design today impacts how we live tomorrow. For better or for worse, it impacts far into upcoming generations.”
Dreaming—Poems, Mike Stone
Three Haikus, Irma Do
Cento, Eric Nicholson
A Walk in the Park, Eric Nicholson
Let Freedom Ring, An Anti-Deterministic Poem, Linda Chowen
Do We Need To?, Munia Khan
The Veggie Lady, Adrian Slonakar
One Sky, One Earth, Ambily Omanakuttan
Tread Softly, Irene Emanuel
Tomorrow’s Question, John R. Ehrenfeeld
creatures today, Connor Orrico
Nature We Failed, Wayne Russell
Three Poems, Shoko Cosmas
A Series of Haikus, Chris Northrop
rootes in solide erthe & 2 other poems, Dennis Formento
Côte-Nord, Candice O’Grady
Daylighting, Candice O’Grady
Migration, Candice O’Grady
“All the human and animal manure which the world wastes, if returned to the land, instead of being thrown into the sea, would suffice to nourish the world.”
“The main thing, Ruby said, was not to get ahead of yourself. Go at a rhythm that could be sustained on and on. Do just as much as you could do and still be able to get up and do again tomorrow. No more, and no less.”
In Your Hands, Margaret Read MacDonald
“The environmental movement of the 21st century created a new path to sustainability for cities, the path of wilderness.”
Art / Photography
“In the end, the term ‘circularity’ may just be one way to make us aware that we need a more encompassing, integrated and restorative sustainability path that includes people as much as technology and nature.”
“..despite myriad differences in beliefs and value systems, people have the capacity to acknowledge that the one constant across the board is the Earth. Her health is our health. Her life is our life.”
Sierra Club Op-Ed
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