Climate change is not a partisan issue. No seriously, it isn't.

As a staunch Independent, partisan bickering over pretty much everything these days drives me batty.

So many issues that should barely be considered “political” much less “partisan” have divided Americans among party lines and become man-made mountains both Democrats and Republicans are willing to die on.

But the issue of climate change in particular has become increasingly partisan, which makes no sense whatsoever. I mean, I know Al Gore making himself the face of global warming was probably enough to create a partisan divide all by itself, but when you look at the core of the issue, there’s nothing particularly "progressive" or "liberal" about protecting our planet.


In fact, in some fundamental ways, environmentalism and fighting climate change fit more neatly within a conservative worldview than a liberal one. Here's why:

1) Conservation and limiting change are literally conservative ideas. It’s right there in the name.

Conservation is about conserving the environment, keeping our natural heritage in tact, taking responsibility, and subscribing to the traditional value of stewardship. It’s about maintaining the earth's status quo, keeping her resources balanced and sustainable. Action on climate change is about trying to keep too much change from happening too fast, which is the primary idea that conservative ideology embraces.

When you remove the Republican/Democrat labels and look at the ideologies that underlie them, fighting climate change and working for conservation actually seems like a more logical fit for conservatives.

2)  The National Parks Service and United States Forest Service were started by a Republican President.

Teddy Roosevelt is known for his focus on the protection of our natural resources and his love of the environment. His passion for conservation is what prompted the establishment of our National Parks the USFS.

He also encouraged Americans to think about the impact of our habits and what the future might hold if we insist on relying on deforestation and fossil fuels to sustain us:

“We have become great because of the lavish use of our resources. But the time has come to inquire seriously what will happen when our forests are gone, when the coal, the iron, the oil, and the gas are exhausted, when the soils have still further impoverished and washed into the streams, polluting the rivers, denuding the fields and obstructing navigation.”

3) The Environmental Protection Agency was started under Republican president. So was the NOAA.  

The EPA was proposed and established in 1970 by Richard Nixon as a response to the obvious air and water pollution that had developed around the nation. In his State of the Union Address that year, Nixon said:

Restoring nature to its natural state is a cause beyond party and beyond factions. It has become a common cause of all the people of this country. It is a cause of particular concern to young Americans, because they more than we will reap the grim consequences of our failure to act on programs which are needed now if we are to prevent disaster later. Clean air, clean water, open spaces-these should once again be the birthright of every American.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which  was also established on Nixon’s watch. That government agency has done research on climate change throughout Democratic and Republican administrations, because science is not a partisan activity.

4) The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was launched by a Republican U.S. president.

Are we seeing a pattern here?

George H.W. Bush said in a campaign speech in Michigan in 1988,

“Our land, water and soil support a remarkable range of human activities, but they can only take so much and we must remember to treat them not as a given but as a gift. These issues know no ideology, no political boundaries. It’s not a liberal or conservative thing we’re talking about.”

Four years later, Bush signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on Climate Change, making the U.S. the first industrialized nation to do so. In his official presidential statement, Bush wrote:

“The Climate Convention is the first step in crucial long-term international efforts to address climate change. The international community moved with unprecedented speed in negotiating this convention and thereby beginning the response to climate change.

As proposed by the United States, the convention is comprehensive in scope and action-oriented. All parties must inventory all sources and sinks of greenhouse gases and establish national climate change programs. Industrialized countries must go further, outlining in detail the programs and measures they will undertake to limit greenhouse emissions and adapt to climate change and quantifying expected results. Parties will meet on a regular basis to review and update those plans in the light of evolving scientific and economic information.”

It’s only recently that conservative politics has moved away from addressing or believing the science about climate change.

5) Traditionally conservative American pastimes are directly threatened by the impact of climate change.

Hunting and fishing are generally seen as hobbies enjoyed by folks in rural/conservative areas. If those were things I enjoyed doing, I’d be doing everything I could to make sure they remained sustainable. Ensuring the protection of land and water seems like a logical desire for folks who rely on them for food or for sport. And considering the impact unchecked climate change has on forest and waterway ecosystems, I'd think hunting and fishing enthusiasts would be totally on board with trying to mitigate it.

6) Scientists around the globe have come to the same conclusion, so it’s clearly not a Democrat/Republican issue.

Take America’s political parties completely out of the equation, and you still end up with the same answer to the question of whether climate change is real and accelerated by human activity. Thousands of scientists from all around the world contribute to climate change research and advise the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which gives reports on the scientific consensus. Despite working in their respective regions of the world, these scientists are widely in agreement on the issue because, again, science is not a partisan activity.

Now, there are definitely some political debates to be had for how we go about addressing climate change. There's just no room for debate about whether we do so.

Meet the conservatives who are actively engaged in the fight to slow climate change.

The group Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship states on its website that climate change is real, that it is influenced by human activity, and that “There is nothing remotely conservative about ignoring or rejecting all of this scientific evidence.” These “conservatives stewards” do not reject the science of climate change and the proven need to reduce emission to mitigate it.

They do, however, assert that conservatives should be engaged in addressing the issue wisely:

“Because how we choose to reduce these emissions matters greatly, it is important that conservatives be constructively engaged in efforts to address climate change. Throughout the nation’s history, conservative leadership has produced the most effective, efficient and enduring solutions to our environmental problems—from smog and water pollution to ozone depletion and acid rain, conservative leadership has been instrumental to finding the best solutions.”

While that statement may not ring true for our most recent history, it has clearly been true in the past and there’s no reason it can’t be again. We need to get back to the place where we all embrace the science so we can have productive debates and work together to find solutions to our civilization’s most looming threat.

The effects of climate change don’t care where you live, how you vote, or what you believe. And our planet is too precious to let partisan politics keep us from protecting it for ourselves and our children, no matter what side of the aisle we lean toward.

Heroes

A new Harriet Tubman statue sculpted by Emmy and Academy award-winner Wesley Wofford has been revealed, and its symbolism is moving to say the least.

Harriet Tubman was the best known "conductor" on the Underground Railroad, a network of safe houses that helped thousands of enslaved black Americans make their way to freedom in the north in the early-to-mid 1800s. Tubman herself escaped slavery in 1849, then kept returning to the Underground Railroad, risking her life to help lead others to freedom. She worked as a spy for the Union Army during the Civil War, and after the war dedicated her life to helping formerly enslaved people try to escape poverty.

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Heroes

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

Culture
via Kenneth Goldsmith / Twitter

The Hillary Clinton email scandal was a major right-wing talking point during the 2016 election that aimed to create an air of suspicion around the candidate.

The media played right into it turning Clinton — one of the most qualified candidates to ever run for the office — appear just as unworthy of the presidency as Trump, a vulgar, politically-inexperienced pathological liar.

The controversy surrounded Clinton's use of a private email account in which over 30,000 emails were sent during her time as Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013. An FBI interrogation found there were 110 confidential emails sent from her private account.

Clinton was never criminally charged, however FBI director James Comey said she was "extremely careless."

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Democracy

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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