Tag Archives: environmental justice

Just water.

Photo credit: Erik NessFreshwater can cause entire nations to celebrate or mourn; water can transform a desert overnight into a cacophonous shout of color and life; a steady stream of water can become the anchor of commerce and community for centuries.  Water isn’t just the rain that falls or the lakes, marshes and rivers that define our geographical regions; but the groundwater, the aquifers, the glaciers, and polar ice caps.  Water means life.

Freshwater, though a seemingly abundant resource for those of us in the Midwestern United States, is quite precious and rare.  Do you know how much of the world’s water is freshwater? Less than 4%! Of that tiny bit, over 65% is trapped in glaciers and snow caps.  That leaves only 0.76% of the world’s water available to humans in rivers, lakes and underground aquifers. Think of the world’s total water (fresh and salty) as a gallon jug.  About ⅔  cup of it would be all the freshwater, but people can only drink, irrigate crops, and manufacture with ⅛ cup. Continue reading

Elwood on Climate Justice

Today, we at the Paris climate summit were privileged to hear from Bishop Efraim Tendero, Pesident of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA). In addition to leading the 600-million-member WEA, Bishop “Eff” serves as the presiding Bishop of the Philippines. And so his lecture, titled “Climate Justice,” rings with special authority, as the nation of the Philippines leads a bloc of nations that claim to be the most harmed by climate change. That bloc, called the V20, is demanding justice from polluting countries that are causing them harm.

Indeed, it has long been recognized that poorer countries are most vulnerable to climate change, without having contributed meaningfully to its causes. Bishop Eff noted that China and the US account for 42% of global greenhouse gas emissions. By contrast, the low-lying Philippines account for only 0.28% of those pollutants. And while the big polluters will indeed suffer in a world of climate disruption, it is the Philippines which are already being devastated by monster storms like Typhoon Haiyan. Continue reading

Standing Face to Face with Injustice

CC License, Wikimedia Commons

I moved from a rural farming town to the “big city” to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2008, and I’ve lived in Madison ever since.  I felt that I’ve always fit in here, and I’m proud when I tell people where I live–after all, Madison and her suburbs consistently receive recognition in contests of “Best Place to Live, Raise a Family, #1 City to Live in 2015,” and that’s pretty cool.  According to some sources, we are also the #1 Greenest City in America!  Recently, I became aware of information that pretty much shatters my paradigm that Madison is a near-perfect place.  The 2013 Race to Equity report, undertaken to promote greater public awareness of racial disparity in Dane County Continue reading