Posts tagged with "Climate change"

Buttigieg asks U.S. Congress for ‘generational investment’ in infrastructure

March 29, 2021

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg urged the U.S. Congress on March 25 to make a “generational investment” to improve the nation’s transit and water systems and address climate change and racial inequities, as Democrats began laying the groundwork to pass sweeping infrastructure proposals that could cost $3 trillion to $4 trillion, reports The New York Times.

Buttigieg’s inaugural testimony before a key House panel highlighted not only the enormous stakes of the Biden administration’s impending pair of infrastructure proposals—which could not only help President Joe Biden deliver on a number of campaign promises and reshape the country’s economic and energy future, but also the hurdles ahead.

According to the Times, Republicans at the hearing grilled Buttigieg over how to pay for the plan and signaled that they would not support any legislation that went much beyond the nation’s roads, bridges, and waterways.

Biden’s proposals envision far more than that: One would address physical infrastructure projects and development, including clean energy and other measures to take on climate change; and the other would make investments in child care, education and caregiving.

In the first news conference of his presidency, Biden confirmed on March 25 that rebuilding “infrastructure, both physical and technological,” was his next major task, saying it was necessary “so that we can compete and create significant numbers of really good-paying jobs.” He mentioned repairing roads and bridges, replacing aging pipes that leach lead into water; and helping the United States close an infrastructure-spending gap with China.

Buttigieg told lawmakers on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that at least $1 trillion was needed in infrastructure improvements to the nation’s roads, highways, bridges and transit systems. He painted such an investment as an opportunity to address climate change, racial justice and competition with China.

“I believe that we have at this moment the best chance in any of our lifetimes to make a generational investment in infrastructure that will help us meet the country’s most pressing challenges today, and create a stronger future for decades to come,” Buttigieg said, adding that the legislation would serve as a sequel to the nearly $2 trillion coronavirus relief plan approved this month.

He said minorities and low-income Americans bore the brunt of deficient infrastructure. “Across the country, we face a trillion-dollar backlog of needed repairs and improvements, with hundreds of billions of dollars in good projects already in the pipeline,” Buttigieg stated. “We face an imperative to create resilient infrastructure and confront inequities that have devastated communities.”

Buttigieg said the infrastructure overhaul should not be a partisan issue, because transportation affected all Americans. Democrats have professed optimism for a bipartisan package, —particularly after pushing the pandemic relief legislation through both chambers over unanimous Republican opposition—and lawmakers in both parties repeatedly emphasized that infrastructure had traditionally been a source of cooperation.

But early partisan divisions spilled over at the hearing, with Republicans criticizing the size and some of the goals of Biden’s proposals.

Addressing reporters on Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said Democrats would pursue a bipartisan legislative package but would have to “make a judgment” about how to accomplish more ambitious goals related to addressing climate change and economic inequality that Republicans might not support.

“One of the challenges that we face is we cannot just settle for what we can agree on without recognizing that this has to be a bill for the future,” she said

Reearch contact: @nytimes

Suffer the children: UK kids are more scared of Trump than of nuclear war

January 30, 2018

British children are more anxious about Donald Trump’s U.S. presidency than about the threat of nuclear war, based on findings of a survey released on January 23 by the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) of Britain

One-third of children between the ages of five and 18 are experiencing “widespread anxiety” about Trump and terrorism, according to the study, conducted on behalf of MHF by YouGov and published by the International Business Times.

About 1,9 00 U.K. parents were asked to identify what they thought their sons or daughters, between the ages of five and 18, were anxious about. Forty-one percent said that terrorism was their child’s biggest concern, with 33% saying that Donald Trump and his administration also made their children feel very anxious.

Indeed, terrorism and Trump were ranked as more anxiety-inducing than global warming and the threat of nuclear war. About one-third of parents (32%) said their sons and daughters were worried about climate change, while 23% said the possibility of nuclear war worried them.

Thirteen percent of parents said their children were so worried about a terrorist attacks that they had started avoiding public transport or going to busy places. Eight percent said their children were having nightmares about global events.

In response to the survey’s findings, Dr Camilla Rosan of the Mental Health Foundation said: “We often forget that distressing world events can have a significant impact on the mental health of our children. This is especially true in the digital age, [when] … it’s no longer possible to shield our children from worrying or scary news.”

She suggested that parents not only provide their children with the relevant facts about a terrorist attack, but also put things in perspective and reassure them that they are safe.

“Anxiety about scary news events is normal, but not something children have to deal with alone,” she said. “Parents can really help tackle problems early and support good mental health for their children by talking about these issues in an open and honest way.

Research contact press@mentalhealth.org.uk

Tick, tock: Doomsday Clock moves closer to midnight

January 26, 2018

Citing growing nuclear risks and unchecked climate dangers, the iconic Doomsday Clock has now been moved 30 seconds closer to midnight—that  is, to  two and one-half minutes before midnight—the closest to the symbolic point of annihilation that the clock has been since 1953 at the height of the Cold War, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board announced on January 25.

The decision to move the second hand was made after polling the bulletin’s Board of Scientists, which includes 15 Nobel Laureates.

The bulletin was created in 1945 by Manhattan Project scientists who “could not remain aloof to the consequences of their work”—the atomic bomb.

In announcing the decision, board CEO Rachel Bronson stated, “The year just past proved perilous and chaotic, a year in which many of the risks foreshadowed in our last clock statement came into full relief. In 2017, we saw reckless language in the nuclear realm heat up already dangerous situations and re-learned that minimizing evidence-based assessments regarding climate and other global challenges does not lead to better public policies.”

The greatest risk of the year was identified as North Korea’s nuclear program—and the response to it by President Donald Trump of the United States. The group stated, “North Korea’s nuclear weapons program made remarkable progress in 2017, increasing risks to North Korea, itself; other countries in the region and the United States. Hyperbolic rhetoric and provocative actions by both sides have increased the possibility of nuclear war by accident or miscalculation.

Indeed, the scientists highlighted the danger that President Donald Trump represents to the rest of the world, saying “The decline of U.S. leadership and a related demise of diplomacy under the Trump Administration. “… [T]here has also been a breakdown in the international order that has been dangerously exacerbated by recent U.S. actions. In 2017, the United States backed away from its longstanding leadership role in the world, reducing its commitment to seek common ground and undermining the overall effort toward solving pressing global governance challenges. Neither allies nor adversaries have been able to reliably predict U.S. actions or understand when U.S. pronouncements are real, and when they are mere rhetoric. International diplomacy has been reduced to name-calling, giving it a surrealistic sense of unreality that makes the world security situation ever more threatening

On the climate change front, the scientists said, the danger may seem less immediate, “but avoiding catastrophic temperature increases in the long run requires urgent attention now …. The nations of the world will have to significantly decrease their greenhouse gas emissions to keep climate risks manageable, and so far, the global response has fallen far short of meeting this challenge.”

How can this situation be addressed? #RewindtheDoomsdayClock is a major message of the 2018 statement, with the following action steps among those recommended:

  • U.S. President Donald Trump should refrain from provocative rhetoric regarding North Korea, recognizing the impossibility of predicting North Korean reactions. The U.S. and North Korean governments should open multiple channels of communication.
  • The world community should pursue, as a short-term goal, the cessation of North Korea’s nuclear weapon and ballistic missile tests. North Korea is the only country to violate the norm against nuclear testing in 20 years.
  • The Trump administration should abide by the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action for Iran’s nuclear program, unless credible evidence emerges that Iran is not complying with the agreement or Iran agrees to an alternative approach that meets U.S. national security needs.
  • The United States and Russia should discuss and adopt measures to prevent peacetime military incidents along the borders of NATO.
  • U.S. and Russian leaders should return to the negotiating table to resolve differences over the INF treaty, to seek further reductions in nuclear arms, to discuss a lowering of the alert status of the nuclear arsenals of both countries, to limit nuclear modernization programs that threaten to create a new nuclear arms race; and to ensure that new tactical or low-yield nuclear weapons are not built, and existing tactical weapons are never used on the battlefield.
  • U.S. citizens should demand, in all legal ways, climate action from their government.
  • Governments around the world should redouble their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions so they go well beyond the initial, inadequate pledges under the Paris Agreement.
  • The international community should establish new protocols to discourage and penalize the misuse of information technology to undermine public trust in political institutions, in the media, in science, and in the existence of objective reality itself.

Research contact: pmitchell@hastingsgroup.com