Saturday, January 10, 2015

Update: Challenges that Rochester’s poor face with Climate Change

 

CCPoorUpdateSRochester, NY still faces ‘extreme poverty.’ Read ACT Rochester’s updated study “Benchmarking Rochester’s Poverty A 2015 Update and Deeper Analysis of Poverty in the City of Rochester.”

Most of the knee-jerk responses from local commenters blame government-sponsored programs to help the poor, high taxes, racism, the Recession, oppressive government, siphoning off the ‘poverty business’ with high wages for those at the top, policies that continue to drive businesses from NYS, more people relying on the government instead of working to earn their own way, dysfunction in Albany, incorrect poverty figures, minimum standard of living too high for someone who has never bothered to stay in school, teachers, lack of help from local colleges and universities, and politicians.

You can add more to this ‘blame list’ in the comment section of this article:

Report: Rochester tops 'extreme poverty' list This is not the kind of national list that Rochester-area residents hope to top. Rochester now has more people living at less than half the federal poverty level than any other similarly-sized city in the U.S., says a report released Thursday by the Rochester Area Community Foundation and its ACT Rochester initiative. For a family of four, that means getting by on less than $11,925 a year — conditions that the report described as "extreme poverty." (January 8, 2015) Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

From my perspective, this tragedy goes on despite the incredible efforts by many people and organizations who give up much of their time and money to alleviate this misery.

Rather than trying to solve the extreme poverty crisis by blaming just about everyone and every institution, I submit that we ought to stand back and see the big picture. Climate Change. “This Changes Everything,” as Naomi Klein states in her game-changing book, means the consequences of Climate Change provide us with an opportunity to rectify historic economic injustices by properly addressing the mother of all problems.

A year ago, I examined what the poor face in Rochester, based on ACT Rochester’s last report. Here’s my article I wrote on December 14, 2013 “Challenges that Rochester’s poor face with Climate Change.”

Not much has changed; we are doing the same things, expecting different results.

By taking leadership on addressing Climate Change, Rochester could vastly improve the lot of the ‘extreme poor’. Climate Change is about planning and adapting to changes—as climate studies that include our region suggest. Providing jobs that would improve our energy efficiency, updating our transportation, water, waste, and telecommunications infrastructures, proving a more robust public health system, and a continual education program on how Climate Change will affect our region could provide a lot of jobs and a better standard of living for all. Nobody benefits if our life support system is in meltdown.

Rochester can turn its “extreme poverty” around by taking bold action on Climate Change. I have worked with a lot of groups in the Rochester area on environmental issues. Trust me, there would be a lot of brilliant, capable volunteers and all kinds of financial help for this massive change if we had strong local leadership on the worldwide crisis of Climate Change.

We should “plan for climate change migrants” because Climate Change won’t hit us so hard and as soon as other regions. With our plentitude of fresh water, great soil, and no Fracking, we’ll be a destination for many whose states and countries are going to get nailed sooner and harder than us.  We can get ready for this:

Experts warn governments to plan for climate change migrants * Rising seas, heatwaves may force millions from homes * Better planning needed to help those displaced Governments need to plan better for rising migration driven by climate change, experts said on Thursday, citing evidence that extreme weather and natural disasters force far more people from their homes than wars. Projections by leading climate scientists of rising sea levels, heatwaves, floods and droughts linked to global warming are likely to oblige millions of people to move out of harm's way, with some never able to return. The issue is politically sensitive at a time when economic austerity is straining the generosity of host governments and anti-immigrant sentiment is rising in many countries, especially in Europe. (1/8/2015) Reuters)

However, in Rochester, not only is climate change politically sensitive, it’s invisible. Because we have the luxury of being in Climate Change denial a little longer than those states burning up or countries slipping under the seas, we have yet to make Climate Change public at all. We need to change everything in Rochester. Read: “Rochester, NY: a portrait in climate denial.”  

BTW: Please ask our friends over at ACT Rochester to put ‘Environment’ back on their agenda, as in order to assess today’s health accurately for Rochester and plan for its future we need to know the state of our environment—especially Climate Change.

Time passes.

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