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2015: The Hottest Year Ever Recorded

Posted on 09. Feb, 2016 by .

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Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 5.02.10 PMThe Bloomberg Business.com   published an animation that shows the warming trend over the last century. It is a sobering graphic that makes climate change difficult to deny.

To view the animation, click here or on the image to the right.

The following is from the Environmental Defense Fund:

While reading the announcement that 2015 had broken – indeed, shattered – the hottest year on record set by 2014, there was one fact that really made things personal: we have now had 31 straight years since a single month was cooler than the twentieth century global average temperature. That means that I have never lived through a month that wasn’t warmer than average – never once in my lifetime.

My entire career as a climate scientist is focused on reducing the threat of global warming, and yet I have never even been alive at a time when the climate was stable. I technically don’t even know what normal is.

Warmest Years on Record graphic

So on one hand, you could say that I don’t even know what I am fighting for. On the other hand, I’ve been afforded two unique opportunities because I’ve lived in the shadow of global warming my entire life.

First, because I’ve grown up at a time when heat records are broken over and over again, I was aware of this worldwide crisis during those impressionable and important “pick a major” years of college. I was thus able to set myself on a career path shaped by climate change from the get-go, rather than later on in life once I was already an established professional in something else.

Second, because my elder colleagues have already identified – with extreme confidence – that humans are the main cause of climate change, I’ve been able to focus on solutions from the get-go, and not just causes and impacts. I have thus benefitted from previous scientific research because I could explore avenues to address climate change, because if humans are the cause, then we are also the solution.

And it’s not just me; there is now an entire generation of young people motivated and empowered to do something about climate change. We – almost the entire millennial generation – have never lived in a world without global warming.

Perhaps for similar reasons to mine (and/or because we think we’re special), my generation has shown a propensity for not just caring about climate change, but doing something about it. Whether on their campuses of their schools or the communities where they live, my generation is showing that they want solutions. In fact, eighty-percent of millennials support cleaner energy in the U.S., regardless of party affiliation.

For this reason among others, I am more hopeful about our future than ever before. Climate change has been impacting my generation our whole lives, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. We didn’t ask for this challenge, but I truly believe we’ll be able to rise up to meet it.

 

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Finish This Sentence…

Posted on 09. Feb, 2016 by .

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The following is from the Coalition on Human Needs:

Income. Housing. Education. Racial justice. These are just a few of the areas where inequality is evident in our society. But what does inequality mean to you? That’s the question the Ford Foundation is exploring with their new series of videos and conversations about inequality in all its forms called #InequalityIs.

Leaders in business, entertainment and social justice including Elton John, Gloria Steinem, Jose Antonio Vargas and others weigh in via these videos on how they see inequality and what they’re doing to change it. You’ll hear Paul Polman, the CEO of Unilever, say that “Inequality undermines the fabric of society.” You’ll hear Rajiv Joshi, managing director of the B Team, say that the fact that 99% of the world’s people have less wealth combined than 1% of world’s people is “an injustice that needs to be resolved.” You’ll hear Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, talk about how mass incarceration has been “particularly devastating on the poor and people of color.” You’ll hear Ai-jen Poo, co-director of Caring across Generations, discuss how the she sees “the experience of caregivers in this country as emblematic of inequality today.”

But beyond just listening to what these people think about inequality, you’re invited to join the conversation and share what inequality means to you. How would you finish the sentence “Inequality is…”? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and use the hashtag #InequalityIs on Twitter.

If you read our latest Human Needs Report, you know that the federal budget season is upon us once again. As we prepare to delve through the different budget proposals released by the Obama Administration, the House and Senate Budget Committees, the House Democrats, the Progressive Caucus, and the Congressional Black Caucus, you can be sure we’ll be doing so through the lens of inequality – and what policies would lessen or deepen it.

 

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Syria: 5 Years in 60 seconds

Posted on 08. Feb, 2016 by .

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Global UNICEF and multiple partners created this video. This is a VERY powerful 60 second visual summary of the Syrian Crisis.

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“Doomsday” Clock

Posted on 08. Feb, 2016 by .

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The following is from our Facebook page:

23:57 “Doomsday Clock” to stand still amid nuclear tensions

12647159_678323858971176_4961908626863555804_n[BBC] ‘The so-called Doomsday Clock will remain set at three-minutes-to-midnight amid global perils such as climate change and nuclear proliferation.

‘The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BPA), the group behind the clock, said the standing still is “not good news”.

‘The minute hand on the Doomsday Clock is a metaphor for how vulnerable the world is to catastrophe. “It remains the closest it has been over the past 20 years,” said Rachel Bronson, BPA’s executive director.

‘In addition to nuclear arms and climate change, the group also cited growing cyber threats and an uptick in terrorist attacks in their decision to keep clock unchanged.

‘Lawrence Krauss, chairman of the BPA’s Board of Sponsors, said that the Iran nuclear agreement and the Paris climate accord were good news, but said it remained unclear if the Paris agreement would actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

‘He also noted increased tensions between the US and Russia as a sore point…’

 

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Bipartisan Idea to Lift Millions Out of Poverty

Posted on 08. Feb, 2016 by .

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The following article is from the Coalition on Human Needs

President Obama in his State of the Union address called us to a better politics, and Gov. Nikki Haley (R-S.C.) likewise called for us to resist the temptation to “follow the siren call of the angriest voices.” Such remarks should bring glimmers of hope to voters frustrated by a hyper-partisan Congress that is often unable to pass pragmatic legislation on areas of broad bi-partisan agreement.

One of the clearest and most impactful next steps Congress can take in 2016 is to expand tax credits for low-income workers who don’t have dependent children: a bipartisan idea that would lift millions out of poverty. President Obama described this proposal in his speech as a strategy “we can all support,” and prominent Republicans including House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) have favored it.

childless worker tax credit

So let’s get to it!

Last month, Congress recognized the importance of tax credits for low-income workers by ensuring that these credits will not expire for families with children. That means a minimum wage-earning mother with two children will not lose her $1,725 tax credit. These credits for families with children are increasing incomes for 16 million people. They provide a proven work incentive, and the work-plus-tax-credit package is lifting millions out of poverty.
But we do far less for workers without dependent children. Millions of childless cooks and restaurant workers, home health aides, maintenance and housekeeping workers, retail staff and many more are taxed into poverty, creating disincentives for work and inflicting needless suffering. When clear, proven pathways out of poverty, widening them is the right thing to do.

Surprisingly, a woman with adult kids who works in a nursing home at a poverty-level wage of $12,566 gets a tax credit estimated at only $172 for 2015. If she manages to increase her hours to full-time at the minimum wage, her tax credit drops to only $23. The same goes for a young man just out of school in an entry-level job struggling to make ends meet.

Proposals by Obama and Ryan would raise the credit for the poverty-level worker from $172 to $841. The full-time minimum wage worker would see his or her credit rise from $23 to $542. While not the complete answer to low-wage work (raising wages would help a lot), this advance would do more to make work pay and to help workers make ends meet.

Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit as Obama and Ryan have proposed would help young workers just starting out by making the credit available to people as young as 21 (under current law, you can’t be younger than 25). It will help middle-aged and older workers (raising the maximum age from 64 to 66). It will help 13.5 million workers, either by making them newly eligible or by increasing their credits. Ten million poor people would see the severity of their poverty reduced; 500,000 would be lifted out of poverty. Unfortunately, not every job is a ladder out of poverty, but these tax credits provide just that for many working Americans that elected officials claim to represent.

Faith communities have lobbied persuasively for this tax cut on the principle that every great society is measured by how it cares for the least among us. Others have focused on the importance of helping more young people get a foothold in the labor force, or the greater support that noncustodial parents can provide to their children. These are central values shared by the vast majority of Americans.

It’s amazing what we can do when we come together. Millions of children provided with a brighter future, families and communities strengthened. Such a small yet powerful step forward will also be welcome proof that our leaders can overcome partisan divides to work for all of our people, not just the well-connected.

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