The Shift to Electric Vehicles Propels a Strike Against GM

Like other automakers, General Motors is preparing for a mostly electric future. The catch is that building those cars requires a lot fewer workers.

Strikers stand in front of delivery truck
Striking United Auto Workers outside a General Motors factory. PHOTOGRAPH: MICHAEL B. THOMAS/GETTY IMAGES

When United Automobile Workers members walked off the job at 33 General Motors sites around the US on Sunday morning, perhaps the most … striking detail was that they only numbered 46,000. The last time the UAW’s GM workers went on strike, in 2007, they were 73,000 strong. And that was a fraction of the 259,000 US hourly production workers GM employed in 1991.

UAW membership has ticked upward in recent years, recovering from its post-financial-crisis nadir. Now it faces a new threat from the next great shift for the auto industry. The electric car may be great for the planet and glorious for drivers, but it’s no good for jobs.
In talks for a new contract with the union, GM offered to create 5,400 new jobs, invest $7 billion in various facilities, and increase wages and benefits. Among other demands, the UAW wants a greater share of GM profits—the automaker has reported $35 billion in operating profit in North America over the past three years—and for GM to reopen an Ohio plant it closed in March. GM announced the closure of that plant, in Lordstown, late last year, along with job cuts and the elimination of many sedan and compact models. It has balanced that withdrawal with plans to introduce 20 new, all-electric models by 2023, its first big step in an $8 billion bid to (someday) stop building gas- and diesel-powered rides altogether. MORE

Extinction Rebellion stages funeral procession to end London Fashion Week

Extinction Rebellion protest at London fashion Week. Protesters from Extinction Rebellion demonstrate outside the BFC Show Space, London. Picture date: Tuesday September 17, 2019. Photo credit should read: Isabel Infantes/PA Wire URN:45330330 (Press Association via AP Images)

Climate change activist group Extinction Rebellion staged a funeral procession in London Tuesday, the last day of London Fashion Week.
The group is calling for this year’s fashion week to be the last, after demanding its cancellation in an open letter to the British Fashion Council earlier this year.
The march began at Trafalgar Square before progressing along the Strand, a major road in the center of London, to London Fashion Week’s central venue at 180 The Strand. Protesters were dressed in black, wearing veils and carrying white roses.
Pallbearers carried black coffins, one bearing the slogan “OUR FUTURE,” while other activists banged drums and waved flags featuring the hourglass-shaped Extinction symbol. Banners and placards carried by protesters read “LIFE OR DEATH” and “R.I.P. LFW.”

Protesters cloaked in red gathered for an Extinction Rebellion demonstration on Tuesday in London.

Protesters cloaked in red gathered for an Extinction Rebellion demonstration on Tuesday in London. Credit: Isabel Infantes/PA Wire/AP
Members of the Red Brigade, a protest and performance group that has participated in previous Extinction Rebellion events, wore vibrant red robes, headdresses and veils, their faces painted stark white and their eyes outlined in black.
In the open letter delivered to the British Fashion Council in July, Extinction Rebellion accused London Fashion Week of setting a “global precedent” that encouraged the demand for fast fashion, resulting in increased pollution and the exploitation of workers by the fashion industry.
Caroline Rush, chief executive of the British Fashion Council, said in response that London Fashion Week was a “platform to discuss societal issues from access to education to diversity and inclusion, and in this case, climate change.”

Extinction Rebellion activists protested outside Victoria Beckham's London Fashion Week Show Sunday.

Extinction Rebellion activists protested outside Victoria Beckham’s London Fashion Week Show Sunday. Credit: NurPhoto via Getty Images
Bel Jacobs, a former fashion editor who now belongs to Extinction Rebellion’s Boycott Fashion group, told CNN that Tuesday’s protest was organized to “mark a hopeful end to London Fashion Week,” as well as to “lay to rest the toxic system that is destroying us all, and to mourn those who have already lost their lives and those still to lose their lives to the effects of climate change.”
“The fact is that we have already produced enough clothing to last us all for the next 40 years and beyond — at considerable cost to our planet. We are hoping that people will look at what they already own and use it in new imaginative, creative and joyful ways.”
The funeral was the final event in a series of protests staged by Extinction Rebellion throughout London Fashion Week.

Kenney Government Appointed Foreign, Koch-Funded Researcher to Rewrite Alberta’s Education Curriculum


Appointee supports right-wing American-style education reforms to subsidize private religious schools with public tax dollars

A curriculum review panelist recently appointed by Jason Kenney’s government is an American scholar who specializes in work looking at public subsidies for privately-run religious schools.

The American researcher, Ashley Berner, confirmed to PressProgress that her work is “supported” by the Charles Koch Foundation, a right-wing organization pushing for public-funding of private and charter schools in the United States.

The Charles Koch Foundation told PressProgress it gave her research unit nearly one million dollars last year.

Last month, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange named the foreign, Koch-funded scholar as one of the experts on a panel that is tasked with rewriting the curriculum in Alberta schools — the panel includes no current Alberta teachers.

Adriana LaGrange@AdrianaLaGrange

We are lucky that Ashley Berner is volunteering her time. She is a leading academic in education, and is currently the Deputy Director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy.

Thank you for volunteering your time and expertise. You bring so much to the table!

View image on Twitter
The John Hopkins University professor told PressProgress the Koch Foundation “supports my work and that of our institute” through a major grant that runs from July 2018 until June 2020.

“The general purpose is to conduct research on policies and practices (in the US and elsewhere) that render educational pluralism both excellent and equitable,” Berner said, explaining the terms of the grant. She emphasized that the Koch Foundation is “committed to academic freedom” and her work is “non-partisan.”

She said she’s never met Jason Kenney before and, in fact, first received a phone call from LaGrange’s Chief of Staff “inquiring as to my interest in serving.”

Berner told PressProgress she is an American citizen who was born in Florida and currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She said she was “honoured” to be named to Alberta’s curriculum advisory panel.

The Charles Koch Foundation also confirmed it gave nearly a million dollars to the Institute for Education Policy last year, where Berner serves as deputy director, to conduct research in her area of expertise.

“We provided the school a $932,000 grant in 2018 to support the Institute for Education Policy’s research on educational pluralism,” a Koch Foundation spokesperson told PressProgress.

According to the Washington Post, Berner’s work on “educational pluralism” was showcased as an example of research conducted with the “financial support” of the Koch Foundation during a Koch network donor retreat in California earlier this year, part of a new push by the American right to “undermine traditional public schools.”

“We’ve got to start supporting politicians who are willing to make compromises,” Berner is quoted saying on the Koch Foundation’s website.

“Americans are tired of the battles between charters and district schools; these take up too much energy and resources.”

Charles Koch Fdn.@ckochfoundation

.@JHUEdPolicy‘s Ashley Berner says that other democracies fund all types of schools, including religious ones, and America could learn from this. 

Education Reform in America | Charles Koch Foundation

Johns Hopkins’ Ashley Berner says that other democracies fund all types of schools, including religious ones, and America could learn from this. Learn more.

The new face of climate activism is young, angry — and effective

A growing sea of crusaders known as the Sunrise Movement has helped put climate change on the national agenda. Most aren’t even 30.

Sunrise Movement activists rally in support of a Green New Deal outside of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office on April 30, 2019. Drew Angerer/Getty Imag

Unlike some recent college graduates, Sunrise Movement activist Paul Campion doesn’t have a five-year plan. Climate change doesn’t let him plan that far into the future.

“I can’t think more than 16 months out. The other day I was talking with my partner about the magnitude of what we face, and it’s a weight that’s always there,” Campion told me as he sat on the couch in the apartment he shares with four other young Sunrise Movement activists in Northwest Washington, DC.

Their apartment looks like a stereotypical DC group house, but it feels more transient, like its inhabitants could be ready to pick up and move at a moment’s notice. There is no-frills furniture and basic cooking supplies; small “Green New Deal” posters and a huge “Our Time to Rise” banner adorn sparse white walls.

Paul Campion, 22, a Sunrise Movement fellow, in his bedroom in the organization’s “movement home,” located in a small apartment building in Washington, DC. Maura Friedman for Vox
Gabbi Pierce, 22, cooks at the DC movement house.
 Maura Friedman for Vox
Joanna Zhu, 26, another roommate, works on a living room couch. Maura Friedman for Vox

The three-bedroom apartment in Washington’s Columbia Heights neighborhood is one of a handful of so-called movement houses around the country where Sunrise Movement activists live and work together. Their mission is twofold: trying to force politicians to act on one of the most dire issues facing humankind and building an army of young people to send the message.

After they spend their days working at the Sunrise office in downtown DC or meeting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, they come home to share vegetarian meals at their table each night. A small sign in their kitchen says “everyday I’m brusselin’,” and the apartment wifi password alludes to their shared love of eggplant. They try to minimize their trash impact by composting, which they can take to the local farmer’s market for free.

This small group is part of a much larger national organization whose members are disproportionately in their teens or 20s. (The Sunrise Movement doesn’t have formal membership.) But its core leaders — a small group of activists in their mid-20s — estimate that 15,000 young people have showed up to in-person actions across the country and that 80,000 have participated in less direct actions such as emailing and calling their representatives. As of this month, the group has 290 small, autonomous chapters of activists (called “hubs”) across the country. In November 2018, there were just 11.

The 15,000 people who have turned out in person have spent the past year occupying the offices and hallways of the US Capitol, state houses, and Democratic National Committee meetings across the country, yelling at the top of their lungs.

Their methods are straight out of the playbook of the civil rights movement of the 1960s: Frequently, they sing protest songs. They stand quietly as police officers zip-tie their hands behind their backs and lead them into vans for civil disobedience. Their eyes pleading, they carry signs, including ones that say, “The Youth are Coming for You.” MORE



NDP promises free dental care for households making under $70K starting in 2020

Doctors prescribe action for ‘eco-anxiety’

Tina Yeonju Oh pictured at the Amherst Community Wind Farm in Cumberland County on August 20, 2018. Photo courtesy of Brower Youth Awards

Tina Yeonju Oh experiences “eco-anxiety.”

Age 22, she knows a lot of other young adults who “are having internal conversations with themselves but also with friends and family about whether or not to have children.”

“Young people are facing this anxiety and mostly because we are the generation to live through this crisis,” the environmental activist and organizer told National Observer.

One of the country’s top environmentalists under 25, she is a graduate student in environmental studies at Dalhousie University and the interim coordinator of the Canadian Youth Delegation, a group sent to international United Nations climate conferences. Now a resident of Halifax, she has been to conferences in Morocco and Germany.

There’s an element of hopelessness, she says, that arises from the steady barrage of doomsday reports or news about climate-accelerated natural disasters every day.

Those observations reflect findings of a new report whose lead author, Dr. Courtney Howard, says climate-related events have “started to shift peoples thoughts away from thinking of climate change as something that has to do with carbon dioxide on a graph and something that has to do with them and their children and their health and their future.”

Grief, post-traumatic stress disorder and the eco-anxiety Oh described are among the public health risks that will accompany an era of rampant food insecurity, isolation and displacement, according to the Lancet Countdown 2018 Report.

Dr. Howard said that evacuating one’s home due to the extreme weather events that increase in frequency with climate change – such as flooding and wildfires – creates the conditions for the sense of loss that imperils mental wellbeing.

These stressors may increase rates of alcohol and drug abuse, said Howard, and early research also suggests links between extreme heat and suicide.

Dr. Courtney Howard speaks at the Lancet Countdown Report launch at the General Campus of the Ottawa Hospital on Nov. 2, 2017. Photo by Alex Tétreault“Health care professionals see first-hand the devastating health impacts of our changing climate. From wildfires to heat waves to new infectious diseases, we’re already treating the health effects of climate change,” said Dr. Gigi Osler, president of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), in a statement.

“This is the public health imperative of our time.”

The Canadian Lancet document was prepared with support from CMA and the Canadian Public Health Association.

As researchers discussed the Lancet report, Ontario Environment Minister Rod Phillips presented the government’s climate plan, many weeks after repealing the former Liberal government’s policies to reduce carbon emissions. Despite consensus from policy and climate experts, Ontario’s new plan does not feature a carbon tax, which the minister referred to as an unnecessary “dogma.” MORE


Eco-anxiety affecting more people – and inspiring them to change
The rise of ‘eco-anxiety’: climate change affects our mental health, too
Global climate change and health in Canadian children


#sacrifice2survive The news media is missing a big part of the climate crisis story — what you can do

Here’s a hint about one big way you can reduce emissions and slow climate change. And 7018 would thank you. Photo by Ryan McGuire via Pixabay.

It’s easy to feel hopeless when you tune in to the news media’s coverage of the climate crisis.

Each week it seems there’s a new story about how many millions of people will die and how many thousands of species will go extinct because of global heating. With each story, the world becomes more uncertain and more uncontrollable.

So, instead, we tune out. And that’s because journalists aren’t covering this disaster like they would any other disaster. But there’s something you can do today to help change that.

In a disaster, we want to know what we can do right now to keep ourselves, our families and our communities safe. And journalists usually work hard to meet that need. When western North America was choked by wildfire smoke, reporters reminded the public to “stay indoors.” When the Midwest was flooded by rainstorms, reporters quoted sources who told the public to “move to higher ground.” And when Europe was scorched by extreme heat waves, reporters reminded the public to “drink cold drinks regularly.”

What many reporters aren’t doing as regularly is reminding the public about the ways they can reduce the future severity and frequency of such disasters, each of which was fuelled by global heating.

For example, in May an Australian think tank warned the temperature and weather changes caused by that heating could, by 2050, create a world of “‘outright chaos’ on a path to the end of human civilization and modern society as we have known it.”

But few in the media told their traumatized audiences what they could do in their own day-to-day lives to help prevent that frightening future.

Given this lack of information, is it any wonder we feel hopeless? Is it any wonder we wait for someone to do something about the climate crisis? And is it any wonder we think that someone can’t be us?

So what information should reporters be providing to change that? Well, scientists have clearly identified what we, as individuals, can do each day to protect ourselves and our loved ones. We should give up driving our cars. We should give up travelling by plane. And we should give up eating meat.

Because these are three of the things we regularly do that damage our world the most.

It’s true that not everyone may be able to make each of those changes. Some of us, for example, can’t give up driving because we live in a rural community or away from a bus route, while others aren’t well enough to walk, or earn their living driving. Some may also find it difficult to give up eating meat because of a medical condition. And then there are those who can’t give up travelling by plane because it’s part of their job.

But each of us must try, doing everything possible to turn those can’ts into wills.

That’s because, according to a 2017 study, these three things add 4.4 tonnes to your annual greenhouse gas emissions, assuming you go on a single roundtrip transatlantic flight each year.

To put that in perspective, a recently released Institute for Global Environmental Strategies report found that by 2030 we must have reduced our individual annual emissions to less than 2.5 tonnes to keep global heating below 1.5 C.

Just by changing what you eat and how you travel, you can do a lot to keep the world safe. It doesn’t require government action. It doesn’t require industry action. It doesn’t even require new technology. You just have to change your behaviour. That doesn’t mean, though, that government and industry don’t need to act. They do. But these individual changes could have an immense impact.

For example, a team of United States scientists calculated what would happen if every American replaced the beef they ate with beans. In their 2017 study, they found that one food change could likely get the U.S. almost halfway — and perhaps three-quarters of the way — to meeting former president Barack Obama’s 2020 greenhouse gas emissions goal.

Similarly, according to a 2016 Oxford University study, more than a quarter of our greenhouse gas emissions come from our food system. If everyone gave up eating meat, those emissions would plummet 63 per cent by 2050. MORE


Yes, the Climate Crisis May Wipe out Six Billion People

Creator of the ‘ecological footprint’ on life and death in a world 4 C hotter.

UBC professor emeritus William Rees provides the grim calculations for humanity if climate change and growth in population and consumption fueled by cheap energy goes unchecked. Photo by Nick Wiebe, Wikimedia.

Carbon emissions may continue to rise, the polar ice caps may continue to melt, crop yields may continue to decline, the world’s forests may continue to burn, coastal cities may continue to sink under rising seas and droughts may continue to wipe out fertile farmlands, but the messiahs of hope assure us that all will be right in the end. Only it won’t.” — Chris Hedges

One thing the climate crisis underscores is that Homo sapiens are not primarily a rational species. When forced to make important decisions, particularly decisions affecting our economic security or socio-political status, primitive instinct and raw emotion tend to take the upper hand.

This is not a good thing if the fate of society is at stake. Take “hope” for example. For good evolutionary reasons, humans naturally tend to be hopeful in times of stress. So gently comforting is this word, that some even endow their daughters with its name. But hope can be enervating, flat out debilitating, when it merges with mere wishful thinking — when we hope, for example, that technology alone can save us from climate change.

As novelist Jonathan Franzen asks: “If your hope for the future depends on a wildly optimistic scenario, what will you do 10 years from now, when the scenario becomes unworkable even in theory?”

We needn’t bother Roger Hallam with this question. He can scarcely be held up as a “messiah of hope.” Quite the contrary. Hallam, a co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, has been desperately warning of societal collapse for years.

But on Aug. 15, in a memorable session of the BBC’s HardTalk, Hallam irritated multiple cultural nerves by claiming, on the basis of “hard science,” that six billion people will die as a result of climate change in coming decades.

More specifically, our ruling elites’ inaction and lies on climate change will lead to climate turmoil, mass starvation and general societal collapse in this century. Normally unflappable HardTalk host, Stephen Sackur, just couldn’t wrap his mind around Hallam’s unyielding assertions. MORE