NAFCON Commemorates Earth Day

April 22, 2017

Reference:  Terry Valen, President, president@nafconusa.org ​

 

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NAFCON Commemorates Earth Day

A commitment to the environment is a commitment to justice and peace

Today, April 22nd, the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns celebrates the 47th anniversary of Earth Day. As NAFCON promotes that rights and welfare of Filipinos worldwide, we work for a society where the health and well-being of the people are protected, which includes a safe, clean, and peaceful environment to live in. NAFCON reaffirms our commitment to work toward a society that respects our planet and values the lives it holds.

In 1970, Earth Day gave voice to emerging global ecological consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement that was led by mostly students. In the US, it is no accident that communities of color, who are often poor, are routinely targeted to host facilities that have negative environmental impacts. As a result, the environmental justice movement has been championed primarily by those who address these issues — working class African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, Pacific Islanders and Native Americans.

47 years later, the fight for a clean environment continues with increasing urgency as the ravages of climate change become more manifest every day. Industries continue to have massive oil spills and belch out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences. Air pollution was and is commonly accepted as representation of economic growth. The destruction of marine resources like coral reefs are occurring at a more rapid rate. Severe super storms are on the rise.

In 2017, attacks on the environment and the people are still all too familiar. The most recent U.S. environmental injustice actions include:

  • North Dakota Access pipeline was approved, which has a plan to pipe some of the world’s dirtiest oil through America’s heartland, threatening our land, water, climate and communities, from Montana through Nebraska and to the Gulf coast impacting yet again, Native Americans, people of color and working class communities.
  • Trump set forth Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cutbacks, ending climate research to avoid proof of the rapidly worsening environmental degradation and for less corporate accountability and expanding the oil industry.
  • Last month Trump signed an Executive Order to dismantle a slew of climate rules that would virtually guarantee that the United States will fail to meet its 2015 Paris Agreement pledge to reduce emissions in order to curb the effects of climate change.
  • EPA head, Scott Pruitt, denies the human impact on climate change.
  • EPA budget cuts targets mostly environment justice programs that are meant to protect communities of color and working class areas.
  • The US continues to bomb countries around the world, most recently Syria and Afghanistan.

In the United States, Democrats and Republicans have played crucial roles in the 47 years battle for environmental justice that poor communities of color have yet to win. Environmental justice has become a tug of war between multinational corporations and the working class communities. The answer does not lie with a single party to improve lives and protect ancestral lands, but lies in the perseverance of environmentally-impacted communities to fight economic and foreign policies that prioritize corporate interests and expand US military control abroad over the welfare of the people.

Ecological balance and social justice are inseparable. From Flint, Michigan to North Dakota, we echo the demand of the affected communities for a right to investigation of water-contaminated crisis and comprehensive clean up, and a repeal to the unlawful approval for TransCanada to build the climate-wrecking Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. From war torn countries throughout the Middle East specifically Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Iran to the Philippines throughout Africa and Latin America, we elevate our demands to withdraw US military support and U.S.- instigated warfare that has demolished the environment, massacred millions, destroyed culture, erased history of people who are now forced to migrate to seek refuge.

People in underdeveloped countries like the Philippines bear the brunt of climate change even if they least contributed to it. The trend of deaths caused by the annual typhoons continue. Indigenous people of the Philippines continue to be been killed for protecting the environment and their ancestral land from further destruction and militarization. Let us stand alongside the peasant and indigenous communities who are  supporting the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and National Democratic Front of the Philippines that aims to address the root causes of landlessness and poverty, corruption, and foreign influence, essentially discussing the need for national industrialization and protection of natural resources and the environment.

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