Passionate about life, liberty, peace, equality, democracy, climate change and more.
Outreach & Development Director
New Jersey Future.
Trenton Cycling Revolution.
Ideal Image Consulting
With the effects of Superstorm Sandy fresh in our minds, it is good to have conversations about resiliency and climate adaptation. The event New Jersey Future helped to put together at Monmouth University presented a great opportunity to continue this important dialogue. As those at the shore and others affected by the storm begin to rebuild communities, consideration should be given to elevating homes, burying wires, and other engineering projects to deal more effectively with severe weather events.
But as we pursue important adaptation strategies like these, we must also address the root causes of climate change – our own human activity – or face dire predicted consequences. Scientists (and even political leaders) agree we must prevent global warming of more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels; beyond that, climate change is likely to become irreversible and catastrophic.
Thanks to the New York Times and the Surging Seas analysis from Climate Central, we have rich, interactive mapping tools to demonstrate the potential effects rising sea levels would have on our own communities. Cities like Boston are taking proactive steps to adapt development to sea level rise, but what happens to our well-intended plans if we build our communities to withstand six feet of additional sea level rise and we actually get 12 feet of sea level rise?
Unfortunately, the recently released United Nations Environment Programme Emissions Gap Report 2012 demonstrates how much work still needs to be done. Similarly, a World Bank report, Turn Down the Heat: Why A 4°C Warmer World Must Be Avoided warns that climate could warm from the current global mean temperature of 0.8 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, to as high as 4 degrees Celsius by 2100, even if countries fulfill current emissions-reduction pledges.
In 2008 New Jersey Future documented the connection between land-use and climate change. Smart-growth strategies like compact development and Complete Streets can make our communities more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly for short trips, reducing vehicle miles traveled and the resulting greenhouse gas emissions – but we’ve been reluctant to employ them. Despite demographic demand for these types of communities, the land use pattern in New Jersey has grown substantially more exclusionary and more sprawling over the last two decades. New Jersey’s Global Warming Response Act required the state Department of Environmental Protection to adopt by June 30, 2010, a plan for meeting greenhouse gas reduction goals for 2050 – but nothing has been done. We know we must do more to limit our emissions. The time to start is now.
I watched a great segment on The Rachel Maddow Show tonight called Inconceivable, analyzing the Republican candidates’ positions on birth control. In the initial (amazing) clip, Rachel tracks down Rick Santorum in the midst of a radio show, and questions him on his statements. Santorum obfuscates the issue, by referencing
"a Brookings Institute study, a Brookings Institute 2009 study, that said if you do three things, you’re almost guaranteed not to be in poverty. And those three things are, number one, work. Right? Makes sense, right? Number two, graduate from high school. And number three, if you’re a man, get married; if you’re a woman, get married, uh but don’t have a child before you’re married."
He goes on to say that if you avoid those things, you are risking your ability to pursue economic success and rambles on about how sexual activity, even with contraception, increases your chances of getting pregnant. Rachel rightly focuses on Santorum’s evasion, but seemed to miss Santorum’s potential dishonesty about the research findings.
In 2009, I took a class called The Economics of Poverty taught by Dr. Henry Coleman, while I was enrolled in the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. We studied poverty and did a pretty comprehensive literature review looking at the issue from different ideological sides. Dr. Coleman began several classes reiterating that there were only three proven methods to reduce poverty:
"To avoid poverty, do three things: graduate high school, work full-time and delay marriage/childbirth.”
Needless to say, Santorum’s statement (confusing the contraception issue) but nevertheless putting forth a strikingly similar, yet different argument, stood out to me. I keep everything, so I was able to check my notes from class and Dr. Coleman appeared to be making a contradictory point. So I am trying to find the 2009 Brookings Institute study to see if Santorum even quoted it correctly .
I sent this to the Times of Trenton on October 19, but they didn’t run it yet or respond. Posting online and hoping somehow Mr. Laramore sees it.
To the Editor:
As a concerned resident, I attended the Trenton City Council meeting on October 18. The evening was full of political theater, some of it rather entertaining, much of it concerning, but overall it was an enlightening experience. I could write about the potential rule change limiting public comments; the budgetary bickering; the 6 million dollar decision; the resolution to re-create a Green Team for Sustainable Jersey certification; or even the Occupy Trenton patriots’ jurisdictional inquiry. All were newsworthy.
However, I feel most compelled to address the partially audible statement from Mr. Monroe Laramore. The pieces I did hear were less than inspiring. Mr. Laramore failed to recognize the separation of church and state, promoting demonization of the LGBT community with vague pleas for a subjective sense of morality. I didn’t really understand the relevance, but if his soliloquy was any attempt at an apology for last week’s ranting about “faggots,” it was far from sufficient. I gave Mr. Laramore a note, encouraging him to read the book, What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality, by Daniel A. Helminiak and I truly hope he does. After refuting commonly misinterpreted biblical text, the author writes, “if they rely on the Bible for guidance and inspiration, lesbians and gay men will certainly feel bound by the core moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition: be prayerful, reverence God, respect others, be loving and kind, be forgiving and merciful, be honest and be just. Work for harmony and peace. Stand up for truth. Give of yourself for all that is good, and avoid all that you know to be evil. To do that is to follow God’s way. To do that is to love God with your whole heart and soul. To do that is to be a true disciple of Jesus.” I am going to continue following this wise advice, doing my best to be a good Christian, running around our city, trying to make it a better place for all of us. I hope Mr. Laramore will join me in seizing real opportunities and addressing the true ills plaguing Trenton.
I have this slip of paper with a typewritten poem. I don’t know its authenticity, but it is a beautiful piece and I think my late friend Cory Howard may have given it to me a long time ago. I recently found it again and I love it. I hope the #Occupy protestors around the world do too. Re-typed exactly:
And do not look outside yourself for the leader.
This could be a good time!
There is a river flowing now very fast
It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid.
They will try to hold onto the shore.
They will feel they are being torn apart and they will suffer greatly.
Know the river has its destination.
The elders say we must let go of the shore, and push off and into the river,
Keep our eyes open, and our head above the water.
See who is in there with you and Celebrate.
At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally.
Least of all ourselves.
For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.
The time of the lone wolf is over, Gather yourselves!
Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary.
All that you do now must be done in sacred manner
And in celebration.
"We are the ones we’ve been waiting for…"
The Elders, Hopi Nation, Oraibi, Arizona