Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY. Photo: Andy Vernon-Jones (https://andyvernonjones.com/)

Russ Vernon-Jones

In my post two weeks ago entitled “Piano Man” , I shared the story of a remarkable nurse and one of her COVID-19 patients, who through love, determination, and listening turned his case around from impending death, to him deciding to live and bursting into singing one of his favorite songs, “Piano Man”.  I’m pleased to report that Ted, the patient, has continued to recover nicely.  Many people wrote and thanked me for this true story, saying it moved them to tears.  If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to go back and read it now.

This amazing nurse wrote that when she first met Ted he was between fear and tears.  He asked her, “Am I going to get better? The doctors tell me I’m doing really bad.” When it comes to climate change, I think we are all like Ted.  “Are we going to make it?  The scientists tell us it’s really bad.”  We all need to hear success stories, be listened to, and have comrades who are determined that humanity and the planet are going to make it through the climate crisis.

Let’s do that for each other and for our beautiful world. Maybe we can also sing a little as we are stopping the fossil fuel industry, working for a Green New Deal, and caring about each other.

This Is A Tough Time In The United States  
This virus crisis has been hard on almost all of us, and devastating to far too many.  Now the federal Administration seems willing to knowingly sacrifice the lives of tens of thousands more Americans (especially people of color and the elderly) to the virus as they seek to open up the economy for political advantage and economic profit.  They are ignoring the advice of all the most knowledgeable public health experts.  

At the same time the Administration is dismantling long-standing environmental regulations, refusing to enforce others, lowering mileage standards for motor vehicles, and increasing subsidies to the fossil fuel industry as part of the “stimulus” package. 

Success Stories
We need some success stories to share as we listen to people about their thoughts and feelings about climate change and express our commitment to doing whatever is necessary to stop climate change.  Here are a few that have been helpful to me.

Majority Commit To EU Green Deal Guiding Economic Recovery
While many nations are thinking about how to restart their economies in the wake of the virus crisis, a majority of the European Union nations have joined a call to put the European Green Deal at the heart of the economic response to COVID-19.  Their ministers write that the Green Deal (an EU blueprint to reach net zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050, while “no person and no place is left behind”) should be central to the recovery.  “The Green Deal provides us with a roadmap to make the right choices in responding to the economic crisis while transforming Europe into a sustainable and climate neutral economy.”  “We should withstand the temptations of short-term solutions in response to the present crisis that risk locking the EU in a fossil fuel economy for decades to come.”  This is especially significant because the EU is the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the United States.

A U.S. Pipeline Stopped For Good
Just in the last week the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation released its long awaited decision on a key permit for the Williams fracked gas pipeline in NYC.  Not only did they deny the permit, but the company cannot reapply again – which means the project is stopped for good! 350.org writes “The Williams Company has been fighting for years to get this 23 mile long pipeline from Pennsylvania into New York City approved to transport dirty fracked gas.”  Thousands of people have rallied, written letters, submitted public comments, and lobbied politicians for years to stop this pipeline, and now they have won. 

Public opinion in the U.S.
According to a recent study by researchers at Yale and George Mason Universities, public opinion in the United States has continued to move so that climate change is now one of the top voting priorities for Democratic voters, and even a third of Republicans would support declaring that global warming is a national emergency. 

It’s important to not turn away from the harsh realities of the climate crisis, but also to learn and share the good news.  Both can energize us as we join with millions around the world who are motivating more and more people to demand action on climate change.

Russ Vernon Jones blogs regularly on climate justice at www.RussVernonJones.org

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