On Wednesday, a group of students from Professor Smithey’s Climate Disruption, Conflict, and Peacemaking course observed a nonviolent action mounted by Earth Quaker Action Team. EQAT has called on the private electric utility PECO to distribute 20% of its electricity from local solar installations by 2025. Currently, solar makes up less than half of one percent of PECO’s energy portfolio.
Activists blockaded PECO service centers in Phoenixville, Coatesville, and Warminster saying that PECO is not preparing for the climate disruption crisis and is not properly investing in the region it serves. EQAT’s campaign is called “Power Local Green Jobs”.
Four activists were arrested at the Phoenixville site, where Swarthmore students observed. News coverage, including statements from EQAT and PECO, are available here and here. EQAT’s press release is here.
Twenty-five students from the Peace and Conflict Studies / Environmental Studies course “Climate Disruption, Conflict, and Peacemaking” toured the route of the Mariner East 2 pipeline (ME2) construction that runs near Swarthmore College.
The ME2, a Sunoco project, runs through highly populated neighborhoods in Delaware and Chester counties and beyond. It will carry compressed propane, ethane, and butane from fracking operations in the Marcellus shale fields of western Pennsylvania to the port of Marcus Hook, for shipping, mostly to Europe for the production of plastics (enough to produce 1 billion single-use bottles every day).
The ME2 pipeline carries highly flammable liquefied gases under pressure through populated suburban neighborhoods, often only feet from homes, schools, residential facilities, detention facilities, and businesses. The gases are odorless, invisible, and heavier than air, raising concerns about the possibility of evacuation in the event of a leak. The pipeline has generated significant and growing local opposition and has raised questions about risk and regulatory processes.
Our tour took us to Marcus Hook and its refineries, Hershey’s Mill Village, a large retirement community in the potential blast zone of the pipeline, and an elementary school near a valve station, where we met with a local resident and activist. We are immensely grateful to our guide, George Alexander, author of the Dragonpipe Diary, where you can find more investigative work on the pipeline and local campaigns to stop or regulate the pipeline.
On Wednesday November 7, Malinda Clatterbuck, a co-founder of Lancaster Against Pipelines and a staff member at the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund will speak in our “Climate Disruption, Conflict, and Peacemaking” course in Science Center room 183 at 10:30-11:20. You are welcome to attend to hear more about the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline and local resistance. (An RSVP to lsmithe1 would be welcome but not necessary.)
Last year, our class toured part of the route of the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, including property owned by the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, a Catholic order that is fighting the seizure of their land through eminent domain.
After class on November 7, anyone is invited to join us at noon for a brown-bag conversation over lunch in the new Sproul Hall kitchen (Room 205 in the Hormel/Nguyen Intercultural Center). Brown bag means you bring your own lunch. Drop by Essie Mae’s next door to grab some food if you wish, and then come join us. No need to RSVP.
Please mark your calendar for an exciting event serving as the capstone for Black History Month and the opening for Women’s History Month:
March 2, 2018
“Climate Justice and Civil Rights”
1:30-2:30pm: Swarthmore Meeting House
Reception and Gathering
3:30-5:00pm: Black Cultural Center
You are invited to a public lecture and conversation with Jacqueline Patterson, the Director of the NAACP’s Environmental and Climate Justice Program.
A national leader who bridges civil rights and environmental justice, Patterson heads the NAACP’s initiatives to advance an inclusive, “just transition” to a renewable, green economy. At the heart of this initiative is Patterson’s commitment to ensuring that communities of color and those who are the most impacted by the harmful effects of climate change are at the center of the movement to create an equitable and sustainable future. Patterson’s long history of leadership has led her to serve as coordinator and co-founder of Women of Color United, and to advocate for the intersection of issues relating to women‘s rights, violence against women, HIV&AIDS, racial justice, economic justice, and environmental and climate justice.
This event is co-sponsored by: Environmental Studies, Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, Black Studies, Black Cultural Center, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Diversity, Inclusion & Community Development, Religious Studies, Peace & Conflict Studies, Political Science, Philosophy, Sociology & Anthropology, Office of the President, Health & Societies Initiative, and the Sustainability Office.
PEAC 055. Climate Disruption, Conflict, and Peacemaking
(Cross-listed as ENVS 066, SOAN 055C)
The course will examine several ways in which climate change is a driving force of violent and nonviolent conflict and creates opportunities for peacemaking and social justice. Already, climate change has been identified by the U.S. military as a threat to national security, offering a new rationale for expanding the military industrial complex. Demands on scarce resources generate and exacerbate regional conflicts and drive mass movements of refugees. Behind these dramatic manifestations of climate stress lie extensive corporate and national interests and hegemonic silences that emerging conflicts often reveal. Conflict also brings new opportunities for peacebuilding, cooperation, and conflict resolution. Climate crises have renewed and expanded local and global movements for environmental justice and protection, many of which have historical connections with the peace movement. In support of the college’s carbon charge initiative, we will dedicate part of the course to understanding what constitutes the social cost of carbon and how it is represented in carbon pricing, particularly with respect to increasing frequencies of armed conflict and extension of the military industrial complex.
Alexa Ross ’13 delivered a wonderful tribute to Peace and Conflict Studies Prof. George Lakey, and Robin Harper, a friend of the Peace and Conflict Studies program, was also honored alongside three other elder EQAT activists: Vint Deming, Ann Yasuhara, and Allen Bacon. Friends, family, and comrades sang, read testimonials, and read the words of the honorees from interviews that were conducted before the ceremony. It was a wonderfully affirming and very intergenerational event.
Lee Smithey created an interactive timeline of biographical information about Robin Harper’s life work in the fields of peace, social justice, and climate justice.