Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Naomi Klein offers her take on why we need to talk about climate change when its effects are most visible:
(E)very time we act as if an unprecedented weather event is hitting us out of the blue, as some sort of Act of God that no one foresaw, reporters are making a highly political decision. It’s a decision to spare feelings and avoid controversy at the expense of telling the truth, however difficult. Because the truth is that these events have long been predicted by climate scientists. Warmer oceans throw up more powerful storms. Higher sea levels mean those storms surge into places they never reached before. Hotter weather leads to extremes of precipitation: long dry periods interrupted by massive snow or rain dumps, rather than the steadier predictable patterns most of us grew up with.

The records being broken year after year — whether for drought, storm surges, wildfires, or just heat — are happening because the planet is markedly warmer than it has been since record-keeping began. Covering events like Harvey while ignoring those facts, failing to provide a platform to climate scientists who can make them plain, all while never mentioning President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accords, fails in the most basic duty of journalism: to provide important facts and relevant context. It leaves the public with the false impression that these are disasters without root causes, which also means that nothing could have been done to prevent them (and that nothing can be done now to prevent them from getting much worse in the future).
(T)he right will waste no time exploiting Harvey, and any other disaster like it, to peddle ruinous false solutions, such as militarized police, more oil and gas infrastructure, and privatized services. Which means there is a moral imperative for informed, caring people to name the real root causes behind this crisis — connecting the dots between climate pollution, systemic racism, underfunding of social services, and overfunding of police. We also need to seize the moment to lay out intersectional solutions, ones that dramatically lower emissions while battling all forms of inequality and injustice (something we have tried to lay out at The Leap and which groups, such as the Climate Justice Alliance, have been advancing for a long time.)

And it has to happen right now – precisely when the enormous human and economic costs of inaction are on full public display. If we fail, if we hesitate out of some misguided idea of what is and is not appropriate during a crisis, it leaves the door wide open for ruthless actors to exploit this disaster for predictable and nefarious ends.
- Noah Smith examines how the uneven ownership of assets - and particularly the concentration of stocks in the hands of the rich - exacerbates income and wealth inequality.

- Kevin Milligan examines the anticipated effects of closing tax loopholes for small businesses. And Michael Wolfson points out the problems with any attempt to paint equal taxation of money held in private corporations as an attack on doctors. 

- The Council of Canadians reveals the overwhelming public response in opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

-  Amarnath Amarasingam and Ryan Scrivens discuss the need to acknowledge and respond to the rise of right-wing hate groups in Canada. And James Wilt calls out the corporate media for legitimizing an outlet dedicated to nothing else. 

- Finally, Robert Jago writes that John A. MacDonald's legacy is amply captured by the continuing discrimination facing Indigenous people in Canada - and that we should focus more on the action necessary to bring about reconciliation for the present and future.

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