Temp de Tempville – Chapter 3, Environmental Justice: Is the Environment a First Priority in This American Democracy?

 

With so many requests, and demands to make our economy better, we tend to worsen our environment by doing so. Before doing something that seems to be good for our economy, what should first be looked is how it will affect our environment in the long run. In the end, no matter what decision is made, if our environment is going to be put at risk so will the people and wildlife living in it, and that won’t help anything. Throughout the years, the environment hasn’t always been the first thing that the people in Government prioritized in their minds. If it had, it wouldn’t be consumed with so much pollution, and other contaminants caused by decisions that were made for the economy. Environmental justice also plays into ethnic groups, and social division. When the environment is affected in a harmful way, certain ethnic groups and social divisions are affected more than others.

When there are environmental toxins and pollutants going around, it has more of an effect on the health of the poor and people of color. It’s often observed that when there are environmental dangers going around, it’s often unaddressed in urban communities. In New York, a group of parents are protesting to bring attention to polluted schools that their children attend. “Throughout the United States, children of color and poor children are disproportionately exposed to health hazards while attending public school, placing them at high risk. Often, this problem is unaddressed in urban centers. However, one group of New York City parents is bringing attention to polluted schools, holding elected officials accountable, and in the process, becoming a focal point in the environmental justice movement.” (Huffington Post)

Even though environmental justice is supposed to be the fair treatments to people of all ethnic groups, not all ethnic groups are actually being treated fairly.  This isn’t the first time that certain ethnic groups, and lower classes have been targeted when it came to environmental pollution. In 1982, a  polychlorinated biphenyls landfill, which is highly toxic, was going to be built in the community of Afton, North Carolina. At the time, it was predominantly an African American community. The landfill was protested against, but it was also argued that this region was selected because it was a minority and it was also poor. Later on, it was proven that the Afton PCB landfill was not a scientifically suitable site because the risk for groundwater contamination was high (USCCR). This shows that instead of , “fair treatment” to people of all ethnic groups and social classes, the Government was instead willing to put people of color, and those who weren’t in the best financial situation at risk.

Resources from this earth have been taken and altered to produce what we have to keep our economy running today. The primary greenhouse gas excreted due to human activities is Carbon Dioxide. Even though Carbon Dioxide is naturally in the air because of the Earth’s carbon cycle, it is altered by human activities. Carbon Dioxide is mainly excreted through the combustion of fossil fuels, which is used for energy and transportation. Though energy and transportation is necessary in our economy, so is the health of people living in it, and that should first be taken into account when dealing with harmful gases, such as Carbon Dioxide. If high concentrations of Carbon Dioxide is released into the air, when inhaled, it can cause many health hazards including death, if oxygen isn’t available. President Obama recently proposed a new rule to cut Carbon Dioxide emissions. “Initiating a broader use of executive authority announced earlier this year, the president proposes new rules that require the country’s dirtiest fossil fuel-reliant power plants—those which burn coal—to cut their carbon-dioxide emissions by 30 percent.” (ColorLines)

It was also promised that energy production would be remade for this economy. “The mechanism for this carbon reduction, known as “cap-and-trade,” promises to remake the economics of domestic energy production by essentially making polluters pay for the harm that they cause in the short-term, and by incentivizing them to do less harm over time. Cap-and-trade will diminish the amount of carbon that can be emitted into the atmosphere each year, while at the same expanding the market for and price competitiveness of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.” With such a long history of events concerning environmental and climate injustice, President Obama taking a step to change this is a pretty big deal. The country itself is it’s own polluter because of what we made it into, that’s why a lot of issues concerning the environment weren’t addressed. So, now that President Obama is working within the country to deal with environmental dangers, it’s a shock to the system.

For so long the safety of the people living in this country has been put aside in order to fill the needs of what was wanted and needed for this country. The Government prioritized what they needed to do to keep this economy running, rather than prioritizing what they needed to do to keep their people healthy and safe, while making decisions for this country. Environmental justice is equality between all ethnic groups, social class, as well as respect to the environment. ‘Equality’ is one of the factors that makes up a democracy, so environmental justice should already be apart of that package. A democracy isn’t much of  a democracy if it doesn’t look below high class, and only looks above minorities. While there is a lot of mess to clean up from so many years of neglecting the environment, there are improvements being made. Each improvement is a step to a brighter future for a better democracy.

Sources:

Love, David A. “Waiting For Environmental Justice to Come.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2015.

“Chapter 2: What Is Environmental Justice?” Chapter 2: What Is Environmental Justice? N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2015.

“Changing the Economics of Climate Injustice – COLORLINES.” RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2015.

“Carbon Dioxide Emissions.” EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2015.

“Common Menu Bar Links.” Carbon Dioxide : OSH Answers. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2015.

Temp de Tempville – Chapter 2, Consumerism in America: Is Consumerism a Form of Freedom?

 

In a controlling system, consumerism is the only thing that people feel they have a choice in. The Government controls how much money people get, but the people have the choice to do whatever they want with it. Consumerism itself isn’t a bad thing, but the image that it paints can be. It paints whatever picture that appeals to the eye of the public, cosmetics, clothing, food. People fall into consuming so easily because at every turn there is something being advertised.  The point of consumerism is just to get money out of people, so the Government makes sure that they’re selling what appeals to them. Knowing that people are free to spend their money however they choose, they develop this false sense of freedom, but they don’t realize that much of this freedom is an illusion.

During emotional distress, some people tend to turn to shopping to make them feel better, also known as shopping therapy. It gives them an escape, and outlet to leave whatever they have going on behind them for a while. They feel free from their problems, and it makes them happy. Even though in the midst of all the shopping they feel happy, afterwards they’re still left with the emotional distress they started with.  “But when everything’s marketing and everything’s retail and everything’s shopping, we somehow think that enhances our freedom. Well, it doesn’t. It has the same corrupting effect on the fundamental diversity and variety that are our lives, that make us human, that make us happy. And, in that sense, focusing on shopping and the fulfillment of private consumer desires actually undermines our happiness.”  Shopping can be used as a temporary fulfillment to what we feel that we’re missing, and even though at the time we have the effect of being happy, it actually eats away at our happiness. There is nothing wrong with shopping to make us feel good about ourselves, but when it’s done to fulfill a desire that shopping can only temporarily fill, then that’s when it becomes unhealthy. That’s when obsession takes places, and instead of being free, we end up trapped in that illusion.

Without consumption our economy wouldn’t exist, which is why advertisements make sure that we don’t miss them. Advertisements are everywhere, T.V, billboards, internet, it’s hard to miss. They pop up so much that it’s almost consuming, but they do it so that we won’t stop consuming. “Not shopping is a hard sell, not least because it goes against the fundamentals of our economy and therefore our society. We are built around growth and consumption.” Consumption needs to happen in order for our economy to keep running, but the line is blurred between consumption and the obsession to fill the desire we look for in it. In an economy where consuming is necessary, it’s hard to see when it’s not actually necessary.  It makes it more difficult to realize that we don’t need consumption to be free, and to be happy. Materialistic things can’t make up happiness and freedom because they are only temporary. In an economy such as ours we’re often blinded from seeing this because being surrounded by consumption makes us unaware that we  depend on the materialistics instead of being abstemious.

In order for marketers to get us to want what they’re selling they have to create an impression. This impression works as bait to appeal to the eyes of many consumers.  “It’s not what’s wrong with American consumers, it’s what’s wrong with American capitalism, American advertisers, American marketers? We’re not asking for it. It’s what I call push capitalism. It’s supply side. They’ve got to sell all this stuff, and they have to figure out how to get us to want it. So they take adults and they infantilize them. They dumb them down. They get us to want things.” This quote is saying that a capitalist country, where they make it necessary to sell us something all the time, pushes us to consume so much, that we don’t realize we’re actually numb to it.

In our economy consuming is much needed because that is how it stays running. Without consuming we wouldn’t have much of an economy. Therefore there is no harm in consumerism, but when it becomes a priority, or one of the main focuses to keep our system running, that’s when it becomes a problem. When it becomes a main focus, it becomes a desperation to keep selling and marketing things, to the point that American Marketers will do anything to get people to buy what they want them to buy, including creating a false impression on what they’re advertising. This affects the citizens of this economy, because it makes them center their lives around that as well, and as stated earlier, that can be harmful. As an economy, we should learn to not just depend on the things we consume. Even though Americans Marketers push on always selling something, doesn’t mean it’s necessary to give in. We should learn to not make consuming our focus, rather we should form a balance with everything. There is such thing as having real freedom, but real freedom is behind all the distractions that this Capitalist country feeds us.

Sources:

PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2015.

“Is Consumerism Killing Democracy?” Consumerist. N.p., 26 Dec. 2007. Web. 10 Jan. 2015.

“Anti-consumerism Is the New Democracy.” – Blog – ABC Environment (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2015

“Reject Abject Consumerism & We Save Ourselves- Greg Koch at TEDxAmericasFinestCity.” YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2015.

Temp de Tempville – Chapter 1: The Misrepresentation between Christianity and Democracy

Even though Christianity has been around for long time, it is the most persecuted religion. There are people who claim to be Christian, yet they treat people unequally, and unjustly. Some people falsely speak out and claim that what they say is what the bible says, in turn putting a bad taste of Christianity in other people’s mouths. Christianity can often be misinterpreted, and because it is misinterpreted, it is looked down upon. Some people are in no doubt that Democracy was not founded on Christian principles, while others are confident that they were. What if Democracy and Christianity were more similar than what people thought? The problem is that both systems have been misrepresented, and therefore seem like they have nothing common.

America was founded on Christian principles by our Founding Fathers who believed in promoting Christianity for this country. “In the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior. The Declaration of Independence laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity.” (John Quincy Adams). Their belief that Christianity should be apart of our democracy has slowly twisted into what is now, the “modern day democracy”, of having no religious morals in our democracy. One example of this is marriage. In the United States, marriage was only between the union of a male and female. Not between two men or two women, just one man and one woman joined together as one in holy matrimony. “Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.” (Federal Marriage Amendment)

Today, these laws have recently been altered.The approval of gay marriages slowly spread throughout the United States, making marriage available to those that claimed they weren’t getting the same equal rights as straight couples. While some people rejoiced; gays, and their advocates, others were not happy. The union between a man and a woman was not only law, but it was also a Christian principle, and it was strongly backed up by Christians. The family foundation of Virginia asked Christians to fast for 40 days to protest against gay marriage, they stated, “Our nation, built on a Judeo-Christian foundation, has been greatly blessed by the Lord, but instead of being thankful, we have turned our back on the Lord and His teachings and have and followed after other gods,” the organization said in a press release. “That is why we are asking you to join us zealously in humility and fasting in repentance before God and implore Him to heal our land.” Some Christians like these weren’t willing to accept the fact that the nation that was built on Christian beliefs was suddenly starting to change into something that our founding fathers hadn’t envisioned at all.
While other Christians are willing to be bold and speak out on it, some are tolerant. Even though the tolerant Christians may seem like they are OK with it, they may not be. It’s not because they hate gays, no. They believe that it is a sin, but they also believe in loving one another regardless. They may not agree with it, but they do not believe hating homosexuals is the answer. So instead of showing hate, they show love because as Christians that’s what they should do. On the other hand there are Christians who don’t treat homosexuals with respect, they don’t treat them equally, and the way they treat them puts a bad image into the minds of homosexuals and the people who are for them as well. It seems as if that majority of Christians overtake the Christians who actually do treat homosexuals equally. The people of America want justice, equality, and they think that Christians don’t show that because they only look at the Christians who are judgmental towards others, and not the Christians who aren’t. For this reason, and many other reasons they do not want religion apart of our democracy.

As more and more issues arrive on equality, Christianity is getting pushed away and looked down upon. Keeping religious morals isn’t as important to the government as it was when our Founding Fathers were still around. Will keeping Christian morals out of the democratic system really impart equality to everyone? The Christian bible says that we are all one in Christ, meaning that we are all the same in God’s eyes. It also says that God shows no partiality, which means that he shows no favoritism among people, he loves each and every person equally. People want equality, and justice for this Democracy, but yet they don’t want it to be based on Christian morals, even though it was originally based on that. What they don’t see is that Democracy was based on Christian morals because equality is what Christianity was built on. The foundation of Christianity is treating people as you would treat yourself and loving others. This concept has been misrepresented because of the way some people portray Christianity. It needs to be reinvented back into this democratic system, so that the people can see what it’s really all about.

Podcast: Do you think there is a relationship between Christianity and Democracy?

Citations:

“Faith of Our Fathers.” Christianity and America. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Dec. 2014.

“Christians in Virginia Plan 40-day Fast to Protest Gay Marriage.” NY Daily News. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Dec. 2014.

“WallBuilders – Issues and Articles – The Founding Fathers on Jesus, Christianity and the Bible.” WallBuilders – Issues and Articles – The Founding Fathers on Jesus, Christianity and the Bible. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Dec. 2014.

“”Federal Marriage Amendment” (FMA) to Prohibit Same-sex Marriage (SSM).” Proposed Marriage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: All Viewpoints. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Dec. 2014.