Archive | May 2013

America’s first climate refugees

Watch out America, this is only the beginning…

Grist

Sabrina Warner keeps having the same nightmare: a huge wave rearing up out of the water and crashing over her home, forcing her to swim for her life with her toddler son.

“I dream about the water coming in,” she said. The landscape in winter on the Bering Sea coast seems peaceful, the tidal wave of Warner’s nightmare trapped by snow and several feet of ice. But the calm is deceptive. Spring break-up will soon restore the Ninglick River to its full violent force.

In the dream, Warner climbs on to the roof of her small house. As the waters rise, she swims for higher ground: the village school which sits on 20-foot pilings.

Even that isn’t high enough. By the time Warner wakes, she is clinging to the roof of the school, desperate to be saved.

Warner’s vision is not far removed from a reality written by climate change…

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This is my attempt at being objective and diplomatic.

May first is symbolic in many ways. As well as representing the beginning of spring, it is International Workers’ Day, prompting demonstrations of solidarity across the world every year. This week was no different, with demonstrations taking place in the North America, Asia and Europe. Thousands of people took to the streets of cities like Bologna, Napoli and Madrid to protest against austerity measures and record levels of unemployment throughout Europe, which stands at 27% in Spain. Some demonstrations ended with frustration turning to violence, such as in Istanbul, where police used teargas and watercannon against protesters, who were said to have thrown stones and Molotov cocktails at police lines. Public and private sector strikes were called in Athens, bringing services like hospitals and banks to a standstill, and causing major disruption to transport services.

Similar scenes were seen in Seattle, the location of the 1999 ‘Battle of Seattle’ anti-globalisation demonstrations against the World Trade Organisation. Peaceful rallies of trades unions, students and labour activists marched throughout the day, but a small “non-permitted” demonstration caused damage to property during the evening, after the march. Police were quick to dispel the situation, with mayor Mike McGinn justifying their response by connecting the situation to the Boston bombings earlier this month, which is still fresh in the minds of many Americans.

The collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh earlier this week sparked May Day protests in Dhaka, where demonstrators demanded factory owners be held to account for the disaster which killed 402 people and injured around 2500.

May Day is a celebration of the strength and solidarity of workers all over the world, and many marches showed exactly that. The sporadic violence that erupted illustrated the anger and frustration felt by workers in exploitative situations such as in Dhaka, where workers were paid just £32 a month.

Happy Mayday

May you be full of the joys of spring and class solidarityImage