Hello friends and family of The Bridge. Today, much to the dismay of CNN, MSNBC, FOX or your local evening news, we want to talk about Climate. Just as we no longer debate the Earth’s shape, or how plants regenerate, or why it rains, we will not debate whether the climate is changing. We refuse to eat Exxon Mobile's doubt-sandwhich and we are not currently sponsored by BP. The climate is changing, we know this, we know why, and every minute wasted discussing the science, we take another bite of the Tillerson sandwich and we lose time to talk about what change is going to bring.

Climate change in America is often intangible, that is, until it becomes dangerously tangible. The fires of california, the flooding of Houston, the devastation in Puerto Rico or the earthquakes in Oklahoma. Up until a few months ago, the Pentagon's official line on Climate was that it was one of our greatest threats to national security. Regardless of the Commander in Chief’s orders to stop preparing for climate change, the armed forcescontinue to build its defenses only now it is for “extreme weather”, not climate change. Yes, our military is currently playing hide-the-bloody-synonym with a 70 year old child, a child, no less, who “loves the military.”

Please, Mr. President, we don’t need this much backing.

As with most things, the political class has taken the topic, warped it to meet their particular agendas, and in doing so, made it next to impossible to have a true conversation about how we will deal with the impending effects of climate on our society. Climate change is happening and it is going to disrupt what we take for granted, regardless of what the politicians say in the chambers of congress or Grandpa Ed’s regurgitations of Sean Hannity from his lazyboy. Those guys aren’t going to see the effects of a warming climate, so their opinion should matter about as much as a drop of rain does to the ocean. It’s up to our generation, the people who are bound to inherit an ever-warming world, to talk openly and honestly about how we can regulate, mediate and justly provide future generations with better options than we have inherited. The military is thinking about it, they are talking about it in terms of instability and vulnerability for our nation from the outside in, but how are we, as a society, going to talk and think about it from the inside out?

Ground RuleIs the climate changing, is no longer the beginning of this conversation. The conversation must now begin here: how are we going to insure that a changing climate will not further divide us, as a world, a society or as a generation?

 

Common Ground

The Left

Jake Tonkel & Christen Corcoran

When it comes to the topic of climate change, nearly everyone of the millennial left (and a lot of the right) seems to be on the same page. Scientific evidence has demonstrated, our teachers have educated, nature itself is giving us the warning signs, and Al Gore has spread the word: climate change is real, it's happening and it is the greatest challenge the human race has ever seen—infinitely more complex than WWI and WWII combined. This is the the starting point that we must have in climate discourse. So why do we not see this reflected in politics? Why isn’t the liberal left doing more to reflect what our generation is demanding?

Climate change has already had devastating consequences, especially for the already-marginalized communities of our country and our world. Big oil, big business, the transnational elite and others have a vested interest in preventing policies directed towards combating climate change: they would lose money or like whitefish, stand to gain during the recovery effort. Furthermore, they will either be dead or as rich as King Midas by the time ultimate disaster strikes. We stand up time and time again (KeystoneDAPL, etc), but the DNC couldn't even rule out fracking in its official 2016 platform. In fact, according toClimateHawksVote, an organization that ranks representatives on their action on climate issues, Dems scored an average of just 23.25pts out of 100! With 6 of 44 scoring in the negatives!

That is a really, really tough pill for us to swallow as millennials. With congress at an average age of 57, we don’t have much, if any representation. It's ironic really, being told your whole life that with age comes wisdom only to have those that touted the saying literally destroy our world. Politicians empirically care more about the money in their pocket than working towards a solution.

As the world tries to collaborate, our government makes sure the deals are non-binding, cheering “compromise” between business and consumer, developed and developing.

It is devastating that the US is no longer party to the Paris Agreement, but in reality—we were the reason it was weak to begin with. The US follows the money, not policies that will protect humanity. This is a gross corruption of our fundamental values—by the people, for the people—which puts the market above society, and greed above human lives.

This is a somber “Left” because this is not a problem of “getting the word out”; the word is already out. Politicians know the consequences of inaction. Yet they are not following through. Terrorist attack, congress passes legislation, gun violence, the Blue team gets all frustrated at thoughts and prayers, 3 or 4 natural disasters hit the U.S., exacerbated by a warming planet, and only the Pope seems to give it the time of day.

 

The Right

Kabir Moss

I can’t believe I am even writing this, I mean, there’s snow on ground for lord’s sake. But if you all insist on bringing up climate change, I’ll break it down for you illiterate folk.

The GOP are morons. The Dems are worse. Save me on any details otherwise. Dems are like: Climate Change is real we MUST ACT as they boat around in lakes of money from Exxon and BP and sign off on natural gas and coal, because you can’t act too extremely (wink wink, carbon tax). GOP is like: yeah, science doesn’t exist, as they beg for hurricane relief money for their home states and tout trickle-down-economics as though the theory has evidence based viability.

The truth is, none of it matters. Oil is still keeping us dependent on the most conflicted place on earth. Coal is out. Electric is in, and we should capitalize on it like we did on oil. Let’s face it, we are all individualistic greedy animals and because of that, we should encourage solar and wind. Not for any ridiculous moral obligation to the next generation, but because that’s where the money is heading. The GOP is propping up a dying industry and selling it for jobs. Yo! The new jobs are in GREEN, and I believe in the market over big government. These tribal chickens are holding on to the old energy chiefs of old, but the market doesn’t hold favorites, it follows the capital. At least it should, but we have a GOP purposely holding back an industry,picking winners and losers, like they are real free market foke. Phonies, the lot of them.

If the new jobs lead to less CO2 and less sea water rise and less damaging hurricanes and better air quality and cleaner water and less damage to the (liberal) coasts and more of Indonesia and less displaced people in the the future, then sure, that’s fine, we can live with that. But the real question is, are we going to be able to compete with China? Or Germany? We better set ourselves up for American economic power for generations, cause we are the best consumers in the world, and we need to be able to afford what the markets provide or else we will lose dollar's hegemony and the world is best when America is in power.

Global warming? Sn-who-w cares? Honestly. How can we stay competitive on the international stage? If we want our children to be able to buy anything, we need to pull the prop on an industry in hospice care and let it go ahead and die. There is a new generation of energy and we are holding it back, and it, we hold ourselves back.
 

P.S. Our normal contributor for this column was unable to write this month, and so Kabir took it upon himself to have some fun.

“We believe hydraulic fracturing should not take place where states and local communities oppose it. We will reduce methane emissions from all oil and gas production and transportation by at least 40 to 45 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 through common-sense standards for both new and existing sources and by repairing and replacing thousands of miles of leaky pipes.” 
 Excerpt from the DNC 2016 Platform

 

Taking the Table

Kabir Moss & Ian Vanness

America First is a catchy slogan, one that can remedy the feeling of dispossession by offering the illusion of being the priority. But how this mantra plays out, who it benefits, and who it leaves behind, provides a cautionary tale that we seem hellbent on repeating. The question becomes obvious, should America stand alone? The answers is absolutely not. Any independent nation should have autonomy over developing and implementing its own domestic and international agendas. However, when we see that the US has emitted more CO2 into the atmosphere than any other nation since the industrial revolution we gotta ask ourselves if that progress came at the expense of another’s prosperity? Climate change blurs the line between independence and sovereignty, and America has assaulted countless other nations’ independence. There are sovereign nations, but it grows clearer, now more than ever, that the world is in this shit together—true independence is as illusory and divisive as Make America Great Again.

From the minerals in your phone, to the food you had for lunch, global trade enriches everyday life. While the taxes on these things may recognize borders, the consequences of their production do not. Dirt and Air don’t recognize borders and so the state of an interconnected world goes double for greenhouse gas emissions, regulations, and a climate that is changing. Despite having control over our own policy, if shifting temperate zones, rising seas, swollen hurricanes, and expanding deserts are the result of global emissions, where does our agency lie? We can mitigate against change, but a collaborative response is necessary to tackle a collective problem.

When Trump and the GOP speak about the forgotten “American Worker” they are romanticizing a white-male-American-worker. Minorities, particularly the African-American experience, has never had true access to the bountiful middle-class that we long for. The period of the idolized industrial working class was also a time when skin color determined your bathroom. We are a generation removed from the factories and mines, simply because it’s not an economy we’ve experienced. Last May, there were only 69,460 coal mining jobs reported, making up only 0.019% overall share of the American workforce.That generation of workers who bought houses on assembly work, payed for college with a part time job, or fed and clothed a family as coal miners and steelworkers is such an impossibly small prospect today that we hold no allegiance to the fantasy.

Back in June, Pruitt claimed that the administration had created over 50,000 coaling mining jobs. A lie, but if he is going to throw it out there anyway, we should ask what color and gender do you think his hypothetical coal miners are—his American worker? We now have a segment of our population that can empathize with a white coal miner down on hard times due to systemic forces, but simultaneously holds black service workers in contempt of laziness. In glorifying a distant economic past, they provoke this segment to lash out at the minorities and immigrants that are now at economic eye level, rather than analyze the swamp’s conscious decision to leave them in the ditch huffing coal dust.

Fifty years ago MLK confessed that he had, “been gravely disappointed with the white moderate,” for being, “more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice.” While millennials are equipped with the historical prowess and social integrity necessary to heed King’s dismay, there are plenty of Americans in the 21st century who view Kaepernick as a traitor, China as a threat, and inner cities as cancer on American morals. Our generation was taught to idolize the civil rights movement and as a result our standard is that the outright bigotry in our nation is shameful. Which is a whole lot more than we can say for many of those who precede us. And yet, facing bleak prospects, some still flirt with repeating the past in a hipster twist (think Richard, the Alt-Right, Spencer). The vast majority of our generation reject this outright, but it is important to note, if we don’t start this conversation now, who knows how far these new-branded worms might eat into our conscious, and stall our progress.

An America First agenda not only exports our brand of racism, sexism and classism, but it expands another battleground designed to divide us—generational warfare. We are at a place now where one generation with little stake in the future (hella old) are making a lot of the decisions regarding climate change and environmental degradation and we need to take that authority from them. It will be the youth in charge of clean up, so why not start now? The generation in power, much more susceptible to divisive rhetorical fantasies and skeptical of science, needs, no, must get out of the way. Hell, we need to be the ones deciding how much over the 2 degree celsius warning point we want to go. But hey, thanks for these pocket aces baby boomers.

The consequences of climate change will adversely affect those who are the least responsible for CO2 emissions. These communities are consequently those who are the most impoverished, and have the least political agency. The temptation to conceptualize the dynamics of global interrelationships in reductive terms like competition and survival of the fittest is an attempt to divorce ourselves from culpability in exacerbating poverty, inequality and injustice. Donald Trump, Scott Pruitt, and Rex Tillerson are not backing this position because they genuinely believe the alternative facts. They are pursuing this path because they believe their livelihoods will not be negatively affected. That is why the greatest winner of 2016 was the fossil fuel industry.

Indignation was conjured, heritage was perverted, consciousness was compartmentalized, and a referendum on who this country belonged to was delivered. We have since been living in the aftermath, where every item on the menu is meant to serve less opportunity, less prosperity, and less stability than the last. That is the deal that many Americans accepted when they went to the polls last November. Instead of fighting for an inclusive, accountable, and fair economy, they would instead position themselves first in line for table scraps.

The good news is, it’s not our vision of bygone economic stability so it’s easy enough for us to deny. The bad news is, it is our world they are condemning and it is us, in line, waiting for table scraps until we decide to take the table out of their hands.

 

A New Year

We are closing out our first year and would like to thank all of you for the support, patience and conversations throughout the year. We have had a great time trying to bring a little levity to the current political climate. There is still more that binds us than separates us and we look forward to continuing this work next year. We are making a few structural changes in 2018 as our team expands and our vision evolves but it will always be true to the original mission. 

We maintain this all by a few donations, own pockets and  our volunteered man/woman-hours so if durning this holiday season you are feeling particularly generations, you can donate to the bridge here—any small bit helps and is greatly, greatly appreciated.

A YUGE thank you to those readers who have already donated and helped us along the way in 2017, we could not have done it without you.