WorldChanging shares Joe Romm’s “The Green FDR: Obama’s First 100 Days Make – and May Remake – History,” which compiles a nice account from Climate Progress of the good things the Obama administration has done on the environmental front. According to Romm, “three game-changing accomplishments stand out:”
“2. Sustainable Budget: The first sustainable budget in U.S. history.
“3. Regulatory breakthrough: EPA finds carbon pollution a serious danger to Americans’ health and welfare requiring regulation.”
Romm goes into details around several developments, including Obama’s steps to block new coal plants and his signing into law a massive investment in public transit, train travel, and renewable energy and efficiency technologies. It’s an impressive list and a convincing argument — one that balances out some of the less sanguine assessments of critics on the left who’ve been focusing (understandably) on the financial crisis and the administration’s seeming deference to Wall Street.
WorldChanging has been posting other insightful takes on ecopolitics in the age of Obama, including on swine flu, geoengineering (as a form of climate denialism), and Toronto’s (my hometown’s) efforts to green its deadly-sprawling suburbs. Sarah Kuck’s article on Swine Flu is a particularly nice demonstration of how the growing shift, in some parts of the environmental sustainability discourse, towards a focus on “resilience,” can provide a nice way to bring social justice and environmental concerns into the same frame. Kuck writes:
“The Swine Flu is just one of many events highlighting our interconnectedness and responsibility to each other, reminding us that our global resilience is only as effective as the resilience at the base of the pyramid. Events like this are magnifying our connectivity, and further emphasizing the great need for those with the means to empower the impoverished, to work toward a world free of suffering, and to create a model of prosperity worth having. [...] The health of someone in a Mexican shop or a Chinese farm now directly relates to the health of us all. We’re all in this together.” (emphasis added)
Unfortunately, events like Swine Flu, SARS, and other viral emergences in the global body politic more commonly tend to evoke a policing reaction, with its military metaphors and calls to prop up defensive walls against the intruding agents, who are associated with “dark” outposts in the white imagination (in this case, Mexico). The flap in Israel over changing the name of the “swine flu” to “Mexican flu” is a case in point. Let’s watch how this plays out… We can be sure at least that Obama’s international sensibilities are much better poised to create a conducive landscape for a globally just eco-resilience movement.
Photograph by Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images, from Guardian.co.uk