The Time Is Now for Transgender Equality

From Huffington Post:

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Measure Climate-Related Destruction in the Many Trillions of Dollars: UN

From Common Dreams:

A look at only one subset of negative impacts of global warming – the loss of vital coral reefs – would cost an estimated $11.9 trillion in the coming years

Jon Queally

Measure the cost of destructive climate change-related impacts in the trillions of dollars, says a United Nations report published Thursday.

The report, which focuses on the world’s 52 Small Island Developing States (or SIDS) found predominantly in the Caribbean and the South Pacific, highlights how the nations and people least responsible for the climate crisis face the most severe damage. However, the report notes, the costs associated with the destruction of low-lying nations, coral reefs, and vulnerable coasts will be felt globally.

According to the UN’s Environment Program (UNEP), the coral reefs in all SIDS regions are already severely impacted by rising ocean surface temperatures. And the report says that the global net loss of the coral reef cover – around 34 million hectares over the coming two decades – will cost the international economy nearly $12 trillion, with the economies and very existence of those small nations especially impacted.

“For example,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, “these 52 nations, home to over 62 million people, emit less than one per cent of global greenhouse gases, yet they suffer disproportionately from the climate change that global emissions cause.”

The threats to low-lowing nations and those highly-dependent on their proximity to ocean resources, according to the report, are increased flooding, shoreline erosion, ocean acidification, warmer sea and land temperature, and damage to infrastructure from extreme weather events.

The UNEP reports says that though the challenges are enormous, there do existence mitigation efforts that could lessen or forestall the worst impacts, but only if governments quickly create new policies and change course.


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What Piketty Forgot: The Crisis of Capitalism Isn’t Just about Inequality

From Common Dreams:

It’s not just about the distance between rich and poor, but about the gap between what’s demanded by our planet and what’s demanded by our economy.

by Noel Ortega

By now, it’s no secret that French economist Thomas Piketty is one of the world’s leading experts on inequality. His exhaustive, improbably popular opus of economic history—the 700-page Capital in the Twenty-First Century—sat atop the New York Times bestseller list for weeks. Some have called it the most important study of inequality in over 50 years.

Piketty is hardly the first scholar to tackle the linkage of capitalism with inequality. What sets him apart is his relentlessly empirical approach to the subject and his access to never before used data—tax and estate records—that elegantly demonstrates the growing trends of income and wealth inequality. The database he has compiled spans 300 years in 20 different countries.

Exactingly empirical and deeply multidisciplinary, Capital is an extremely important contribution to the study of economics and inequality over the last few centuries. But because it fails to address the real limits on growth—namely our ecological crisis—it can’t be a roadmap for the next.

Inequality and Growth

One of the main culprits of inequality, according to Piketty (and Marx before him), is that investing large amounts of capital is more lucrative than investing large amounts of labor. Returns on capital can be thought of as the payments that go to a small fraction of the population—the investor class—simply for having capital.

In essence, the investor class makes money from money, without contributing to the “real economy.” Piketty demonstrates that after adjusting for inflation, the average global rate of return on capital has been steady, at about 5 percent for the last 300 years (with a few exceptions, such as the World War II years).

The rate of economic growth, on the other hand, has shown a different trend. Before the Industrial Revolution, and for most of our human history, economic growth was about 0.1 percent per year. But during and after the rapid industrialization of the global north, growth increased to a then-staggering 1.5 percent in Western Europe and the United States. By the 1950s and 1970s, growth rates began to accelerate in the rest of the world. While the United States hovered just below 2 percent, Africa’s growth rates caught up with America’s, while rates in Europe and Asia reached upwards of 4 percent.

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Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Dr. Oz and Nutritional Supplements

Transgender people want to exist without having to prove they are ‘real’

From The Guardian UK:

Janet Mock explains why ‘passing’ isn’t a compliment: it’s accepting the narrative that trans people are trying to deceive, Friday 20 June 2014

Janet Mock is the author of the best-selling book, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More. The New York-based, Hawaii-born Mock came out as a trans woman in a 2011 Marie Claire article and since has dedicated her time to raising awareness around the issues facing trans women and girls, launching the #GirlsLikeUs movement on Twitter. In 2012 alone, she was nominated for a Glaad Media Award, named to OUT magazine’s Out 100 List and listed as one of The Grio’s 100 most influential African-Americans. She also keeps a pretty fantastic Instagram account.

Mock talked to me the other day about what it feels like to be made into a spokesperson for an entire community, her interview with Piers Morgan in which he focused almost entirely on her genitals, and the problem with the notion of “passing”.

JESSICA VALENTI: You’ve had a New York Times best-selling book, you’ve been raising awareness online and off of transgender issues, and you now have this incredible platform. What do you think you’ll use it for?

JANET MOCK: I’ll continue to tell stories. I am a writer and storyteller who believes wholeheartedly in the power of stories to transform and connect us to ourselves and one another. There are more books in me and more stories I’d like to write, but I’m also excited about using other mediums – like television – as a space to connect with people and have thought-provoking and transformative conversations about politics, pop culture, aesthetics and social justice issues.

Your book is memoir, and obviously very personal – did you expect it to resonate so broadly?

Redefining Realness is very much my story, a story about a young trans girl of color on her quest for wholeness. I guess I’m most surprised that my very specific story and my various interactions with identity, with my parents, with poverty, with media and pop culture and literature has resonated with all kinds of readers. I definitely set out to write a book that would allow trans girls to see themselves but am moved that women, men and readers from all walks of life have seen themselves as well. For me writing is about communicating truth, and its empowering that my truth can be universal.

What’s been your least favorite question from a reporter?

“Do you have any advice on how we should speak to trans people?” My answer is always, “As human beings.” I think the question is well-meaning but also deeply dehumanizing.

How do you feel about being seen a spokesperson for transgender people, especially trans women? Obviously, there’s such a diversity of experience there – but the media loves a figurehead or a “representative” and it feels like you’re it. Are you ever concerned about that?

Of course, I’m concerned. It is why I open my book in both the Author’s Note and Introduction discussing my own experience with media representation and critiquing its limitations as well. None of us can represent anyone but ourselves, and when I write about my experiences I point out my own privilege, contextualize those experiences to offer a broader sociopolitical lens, and pay homage to the work of those who came before me and whom I work alongside as well. Yes the media loves a lone figurehead – but I resist that by speaking the names of my community members, showing I do none of this work alone.

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