Politics Farmworker health and climate change
Angela Merkel Will Leave a Mixed Climate Legacy. Other Leaders Will Fare Far Worse
Angela Merkel Will Leave a Mixed Climate Legacy. Other Leaders Will Fare Far Worse“The Federal Constitutional Court—in a groundbreaking ruling—has tasked us to pay more attention to intergenerational fairness in climate protection and to also describe in more concrete terms the path to climate neutrality,” she said at the high-level kickoff of the Petersberg Climate Dialogue. She quickly transitioned to what would be the event’s headline: a pledge to eliminate Germany’s carbon footprint by 2045, five years earlier than previously promised.
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government quickly deemed farmworkersin order to assure the durability of the nation's food supply.
As infection rates skyrocketed, farmworkers endured exceedingly dangerous working conditions due in large part to inadequate access to personal protective equipment (PPE), crowded housing and transportation to and from worksites. At the same time, farmworkers wereto basic public health protections and suffered some of the country's COVID-19 infection and fatality rates. In addition, farmworkers faced to access COVID-19 testing and immunization.
Kids are taking governments to court over climate. And they are starting to win.
It was early in the morning when Luisa Neubauer got the call from her lawyer. She was staying at her mother's house, frantically trying to finish a book she'd been working on, so she said it took her a moment to realize what had happened. © David Young/picture alliance/Getty Images Luisa Neubauer was organizing climate strikes across Germany before launching her legal case. The 25-year-old climate activist had taken the German government to court last year and won.
This incongruity isn't unique to the pandemic; it's a reflection of longstanding inequities in our food system. Farm and agricultural workers are excluded from many of the protections afforded to workers in other industries - a systemand through the Bracero Program, the Immigration and Nationality Act and H-2 visa program, and the Immigration Reform and Control Act. The legacies of these exploitative policies persist in our continued failure to protect farmworkers while relying on their skills for basic sustenance. In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to face a growing crisis: climate change. Now that policymakers have acknowledged how "essential" farmworkers are, what will they do to protect these workers in the face of a warming planet and increased risk at work?
The green schism threatening Biden's climate plan
Left-wing climate and environmental justice activists believe it isn’t ambitious enough. © Stephanie Keith/Getty Images The emissions from the Gavin Power Plant are seen. Many prominent environmental groups have hailed Biden’s proposed clean electricity standard, the centerpiece of his plan to eliminate all planet-warming emissions from the power sector by 2035, as the most aggressive initiative to shut down dirty power plants in American history.
Farmworkers are undeniably on the climate change frontlines. Last September,of workers picking crops in front of a backdrop of wildfires - a result of increasing heat and dry conditions that are causing more . The associated smoke exposure and unhealthy air quality leaves farmworkers vulnerable to such as heart disease, asthma and other . These issues are compounded by regular exposure to pesticides. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that farmworkers suffer acute illnesses from pesticide exposure each year, while chronic illnesses such as cancer, neurological effects, respiratory damage, metabolic effects and DNA damage caused by pesticides are rampant. Rising temperatures will and potentially and volatility, worsening pesticide-related illness among farmworkers.
Biden signs order directing studies of climate-related financial risks
President Biden on Thursday signed an executive order directing several federal departments and agencies to analyze the risks climate change poses to the U.S. financial system and federal government, the White House announced.The order from Biden mandates a range of studies meant to expose the ways climate change, the severe weather it spurs, and the measures taken to fight it could threaten the financial stability of both the U.S. and the federal government. "We know that the climate crisis, whether through rising seas or extreme weather, already presents increasing risks to infrastructure, investments, and businesses.
Farmworkers also die from heat exposure at a rate nearlythat of all civilian workers in the U.S. - and fields are only getting hotter. Average temperatures in most states in the U.S. appear to be , while 2020 tied for the on record. A on public health threats that farmworkers face found that heat-related illness is very common among farmworkers, and the risks associated with working for long periods of time under extreme weather conditions are likely to worsen. Despite these threats, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the federal agency regulating workplace safety and health, has to implement an enforceable heat safety standard. That leaves states to fill in the gaps.Yet - California, Minnesota and Washington - have adopted any standards to combat heat-related illness on farms.
can and must take action to confront these growing public health crises. A national heat safety standard addressing acclimatization, temperature, proximity to shade and water, and more frequent breaks is far overdue. The proposed , named after a farmworker who died from heat stroke after picking grapes for 10 hours in 105-degree heat, would compel OSHA to establish enforceable standards protecting workers from heat - a step in the right direction. Other laws or regulatory actions that restrict the use of the most dangerous pesticides - such as the requirement that the EPA either ban all food-related uses of or prove its safety - are urgently needed to save lives.
Biden issues sweeping executive order requiring agencies to combat climate change
President Joe Biden is directing federal agencies to identify and address financial risks posed by climate change in a sweeping executive order that could affect much of the government budget and many private industries. © Provided by Washington Examiner The Thursday order is the latest action by the Biden administration to enlist the financial sector in fighting climate change, both through dedicated efforts to reduce climate-related economic risks and actions to minimize public investment in fossil fuels.
Because farmworkers have first-hand experience with the realities of a changing climate, their participation and leadership is critical to any solution. Of the 2.4 million farmworkers in the U.S., the average workerand is highly skilled. Farmworkers have organized for increased pay and protections and are often the most well-equipped to determine what changes in policies and practices will best protect them from workplace health risks. For example, the in North Carolina has recovered thousands of dollars in , and farmworkers have worked with organizations such as to collect research samples in fields, homes and other areas to generate data and hold growers and government regulators accountable.
Policies that protect occupational health must also be coupled with structural interventions that address the root causes that make farmworkers vulnerable to negative health impacts: from increasing farmworker wages to reflect the highly skilled nature of their work; providing legal protection and representation to all farmworkers; ensuring access to adequate sanitation and work breaks; and holding employers accountable to provide safe working conditions through increased industry oversight. Our food system, agricultural communities and collective wellbeing will be more resilient in the face of climate change when workers receive the rights, protections and compensation they have fought for and deserve.
It's been a wild week of zombie fires,' deadly flooding and the world's largest iceberg. Some were a result of climate change
This week's weather headlines read like science fiction: "Zombie fires." Ice jam. Furious cyclone. World's largest iceberg.Many of them are examples of climate change in action. As the Earth warms and causes shifting weather patterns on land and sea, such effects will become even more visible and extreme, experts say.
Sarah Goldman, Former Sr. Research Program Coordinator at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, is the lead author of a recenton the health risks farmworkers face. Laurie Beyranevand, director of the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School, is the lead author of a recent on laws and policies that address heat and pesticide exposure on farms.
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