Things That Matter

Julián Castro Is Rolling Out A $10 Trillion Plan To Fight Climate Change

Ahead of CNN’s Climate Crisis Town Hall on Wednesday in New York, Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro released his own version of the Green New Deal called the “People and Planet First Plan.” The former San Antonio Mayor is planning to “direct $10 trillion in federal, state, local, and private investments” over the next decade that his campaign estimates will create 10 million jobs over the next 10 years. 

“People do not live their lives in silos and so our plan is intersectional,” Castro said in his proposal. “We will build a 100 percent clean energy economy that both combats the climate crisis and tackles structural inequality.”

Here is what you need to know about Castro’s ambitious environmental policy plan.  

Credit: @CNN / Twitter

At the core of Castro’s environmental policy is combating and reducing greenhouse gas emissions until the U.S. achieves net-zero emissions by 2045 at the latest. Castro also says that his first executive action if elected will be to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement that President Trump withdrew from in 2017. Over the course of the next decade, Castro is also calling for the reduction of carbon emissions by moving from fossil fuels to clean energy.

“Right now, the climate crisis is already devastating our communities, our homes, and our families,” Castro said in his policy proposal. “Severe storms, deadly hurricanes, massive floods, extreme droughts, and wildfires are now a normal occurrence, destroying homes and businesses, and shrinking our economy.”

Castro is billing his plan as “ambitious and achievable” while the cost of it puts him in the middle of other democratic candidates when it comes to money put forth. Pete Buttigieg and Beto O’Rourke rank towards the lower end with environmental proposals that cost close to $2 trillion and $5 trillion, respectively. Bernie Sanders is near the top as he has called for a $16.3 trillion investment. 

For Castro, it’s not about the cost of these investments but what is at stake if no action is taken.  

A key part of Castro’s proposal is putting an end to “environmental racism” which predominately affects communities of color. 

Credit: @lcvoters / Twitter

If elected president, Castro says said he would propose legislation to combat environmental racism, a form of discrimination where various communities of color are forced to live near environmentally dangerous areas like hazardous waste sites. Castro said he’d do this by bringing forth new civil rights bills such as requiring all federal actions to be reviewed for environmental and health impacts on these low-income and marginalized communities.

“In my administration, we will invest in environmental justice and climate resilience with an emphasis on frontline communities,” Castro writes. “People who are at the forefront of combating climate change, and families who have borne the unequal burden of pollution.”

Castro’s proposed bill would also further strengthen the power of the Environmental Protection Agency to go after polluters who do such harm. It would also give communities and individuals more power to file legal action against companies who have caused pollution and have had a heavy impact on communities of color.

Here is some of what Castro had to say during the CNN Town Hall. 

Credit: @novelloamanda / Twitter

Castro was the first Democratic presidential candidate at the CNN climate town hall which meant he had to set the tone of the evening early. He made an effort to point out many themes in his climate change proposal by emphasizing and calling climate change “an existential threat”. 

Castro drew applause from members of the audience when he mentioned the rejoining of the Paris Climate Agreement. He says beyond just the rejoining the agreement again, “it’s actually what comes next that is most important.” There would be an imposed fee on carbon pollution and an executive order banning fossil fuel exploration and development on public lands, Castro said. 

Another moment of applause came when Castro discussed some of his prior work as the nation’s housing chief. He reminded people of his past commitment working side by side with low-income communities and helping protect them from environmental dangers and natural disasters. 

Castro also faced some criticism when it came to his prior support of fracking. 

There was also a tough moment for Castro when asked about his prior support of fracking. Sila Inanoglu, an activist from the Sunrise Movement, a liberal environmental group, asked Castro why he should be trusted to move the country away from fossil fuels when he supported fracking.

“She’s right. When I was mayor of San Antonio, I did believe that there were opportunities to be had with fracking that was going on in South Texas.” Castro responded. “The thing is back then almost a decade ago natural gas was described as a “bridge fuel, we’re coming to the end of the bridge.”

While Castro said he isn’t calling for an immediate ban on fracking in the U.S., he supports the communities and people who are willing to put an end to the practice to move to cleaner sources. He also said he supports a plan for climate education be taught in schools at a young age. In an attempt to fight deforestation, Castro also hopes to plant 30 billion trees by 2050, or roughly 1 billion trees a year.

READ: Trump’s Plan To End Birthright Citizenship Could Mean More Bureaucracy And More Taxes For All Americans

Don’t Throw Away Those Tamale Husks – They Make The Perfect Eco-Friendly Plate Or Service Dish

Things That Matter

Don’t Throw Away Those Tamale Husks – They Make The Perfect Eco-Friendly Plate Or Service Dish

Unsplash

There is no secret that our planet is experiencing an ecological crisis. From flash flooding in Indonesia to a three-year drought that led to unprecedented and lethal bushfires in Australia, the first three weeks of 2020 have reminded us that as a species us humans have basically sucked at achieving a balance with other animal species and with the natural world in general. We are at the brink of either going into a deep well from which we might not come back, or hitting the PAUSE button and making some significant changes. 

Here’s a success story about creative ways of using free and inexpensive materials to curb our consumption of single-use plastic products. 

Our dependence on single-use plastic plates and containers is not only harmful to the environment, but frankly stupid.

Credit: Greenpeace

Think about the amount of plastic you use in a single day. From the coffee lid that you throw away after finishing your latte to the plastic cutlery at the fast food court, plastic bags at the supermarket and plastic toothpicks, to water bottles and a long list of products that frankly make no sense… all of those contribute to increased levels of pollution. Just think about how silly it all is: that lid that you threw away or that Starbucks cup will exist way after your body has turned into ash or compost. Yes, it might sound dramatic, but it really is how illogical the use of plastic is. 

So in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, corn husks have become the perfect alternative after Styrofoam was banned in the municipality.

The town of San Miguel de Allende, a traditional town and gringo-retiree central, has banned Styrofoam. Instead of complaining like many chilangos (Mexico City natives) did when plastic bags were banned, vendors in the picturesque San Miguel have resorted to a much more friendly and overall cooler alternative: corn husks.

This is a great idea not only because otherwise they get thrown away or turn into compost, but also because it is a resistant material and can even give some extra flavor to some traditional dishes. Such is the case of esquites, a scintillating concoction of corn, mayo, lemon and chili… food for the gods.

As reported by Mexico News Daily, San Miguel’s mayor, Luis Alberto Villareal, is proud of the initiative of banning harmful materials: “We’ve been working all year, but the truth is that the society of San Miguel is very participatory, it’s a committed society, it’s a progressive society, and [getting participation] hasn’t been too complicated.” Good for them! 

Mexico City also banned single-use plastic bags.

Credit: Pixabay

From January 1 the user of single-use plastic bags was banned in Mexico City. Given that this is one of the world’s biggest megalopolis the move will certainly have a measurable impact. Many complained (of course they did!), but most embraced the initiative.

Of course, plastic bag producers spoke out against the law, as CE Noticias Financieras reports: “Plastic bag producers, distributors and traders marched and demonstrated in Mexico City on Wednesday against a series of bans to make the Mexican capital free of plastic objects that are only used once in the next months.”

Multinational supermarket chains have also responded to the initiative by offering their customers reusable bags. As NFINCE reports: “Walmart of Mexico, Latin America’s largest self-service chain, began with the free delivery of half a million reusable bags to its customers, as part of the one-time plastic and plastic bag disposal agreement, signed with the Government of Mexico City.”

 Eco traditional practices are coming back

Credit: Mercado Libre Mexico

Even though hipster, gentrified zones of Mexico City have adopted the use of eco bags and all sorts of products that are often overpriced, Mexico City tradition has a long history of uses of bolsas de mercado, bags in which people store their groceries while shopping. This practice is mostly followed by the lower socioeconomic classes, but we are sure they will expand. Using a reusable bag is tradition and hopefully it will make a comeback. We also hope that bags that are usually less that $3 USD don’t end up being a $50 USD hipster commodity! 

Natural, compostable plates and containers are used throughout the Global South and it is a long and rich tradition.

All throughout Asia people use sticks or toothpicks and fresh banana leaves to make bowls and plates in which dishes such as coconut rice or amok (Cambodian curried fish) is served. Oftentimes the practices of the Global North are seen as the panacea of progress but there is much to be learned from developing nations and from indigenous communities in places such as Australia, the United States, Mexico and Canada. 

American Latinos United Launches Committee To Take Down President Trump In 2020

Things That Matter

American Latinos United Launches Committee To Take Down President Trump In 2020

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

On Monday, American Latinos United (ALU) made the announcement that it would be forming a committee to create a new super PAC, “focused on defeating President Donald Trump by activating Latino voters in key battleground states.” As the 2020 election cycles draw closer and closer, political groups are already looking to key battleground states where Latino voters will play a key role in determining the next president. 

Backed by former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and entrepreneur Fernando Espuelas, the new committee will be targeting Latinos in six key battleground states: Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The ALU does not appear to be backing or supporting any specific Democratic candidate as of now. Instead, it will be placing emphasis on Latino voter engagement in these key states. 

This year will be a historic one for Latinos as for the first time ever, they will become the largest minority group of potential voters in the United States. The ALU wants to be sure that a majority of those eligible to vote actually do so. 

The 2020 election has a lot on the line besides just the presidential nomination. For Latinos, issues like healthcare, immigration, and the economy are some of the biggest factors they’ll be considering when heading to the ballot box this November. The ALU plans to energize Latino voters on these issues through specifically targeted technology, culturally appropriate messaging, and on-the-ground work to turn out voters. The committee will also have ads that will be played in English and Spanish across traditional media and digital platforms.

The ALU points to the 2016 election as an example of the importance of having Latinos come out and vote. The number of eligible voters of Latino background who did not cast a ballot in 2016 was overwhelmingly high, 14 million, considering the anti-Latino sentiment heard from Trump on the campaign trail. 

According to the Pew Research Center, over half of the 27 million eligible Hispanic voters stayed home. That may be credited to not only Trump but a lack of enthusiasm when it came to Hillary Clinton. This year hopes to be different as 32 million Latinos will be eligible to vote in 2020, compared with 30 million African-Americans.

“President Trump captured about 30 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2016. If he falls under that threshold in 2020, key battleground states will be out of his reach,” Espuelas said in a press release. “With the Electoral College in play, we intend to empower Latinos in battleground states to defeat Trump with their votes.”

The ALU called out President Trump and his administration for “incompetence and corruption.” It warns if voter turnout this year is anything like 2016, Trump will surely be re-elected. 

In advancing its message, the ALU hopes to also hope to connect with Latinos on single-issue voters that have previously not voted Democrat. In doing so, they will also educate voters on the “moral danger that Trump represents” and the consequences of reelection victory for his administration. 

 “Our country is on a precipice. President Trump’s incompetence and corruption are threatening our democracy and the American way of life,” Villaraigosa said. “Latino voters can make all the difference – if we know how to engage and activate the millions of people that sit out most elections. Through ALU, we’ll connect deeply with our community and create the mechanisms to turn out the vote in historic proportions.”

While most Latinos tend to vote Democratic, that shouldn’t make their vote an automatic given. Many Latinos have cast doubt over the party in recent years, some even pointing anger towards former President Obama who deported more than three million undocumented immigrants. 

The ALU wants to change the narrative on the 2020 election not being just about a party but about having your voice heard. The 2018 midterm elections saw some momentum when it came to the Latino vote as about 40.4 percent of eligible Latino voters came out to the polls, about 11.7 million voters in total, according to the Pew Research Center

“American Latinos United can stop him. We are everywhere. All across the country—around kitchen tables, in-office conference rooms, on busways and buses, in town halls— American Latinos are talking, planning, gathering force and strength,” the ALU website reads. “We have the power to stop Trump. And we can shine the unwavering light of truth on the corrupt Republican party that enables him.

READ: A Man Suspected Of Raping And Killing A 6-Year-Old Girl Was Burned Alive By Angry Residents In Chiapas