This year’s Earth Day theme is “Invest In Our Planet”. Today we’d like to bring attention to the current climate change issues affecting Pima County.
Over the last several years, Pima County has experienced many of the negative consequences of climate change. One of the most notable displays of extreme weather in Pima County are the prolonged wildfire seasons. In 2020, a devastating wildfire season brought about The Bighorn Fire, which destroyed around 120,000 acres in the Catalina Mountains, alongside several other wildfires throughout Arizona. The unseasonably hot and dry conditions leading to these wildfires were exacerbated by the lack of rainfall from 2020’s monsoon season.
On the other end of the spectrum, climate change has ramped up the severity of our monsoon seasons. Although the year before lacked a monsoon season, 2021 went on record to have the third wettest monsoon in Tucson history and spawned several rescue missions over the course of the season.
Despite the insane amount of rainfall we received in 2021, Pima County never escaped Arizona’s drought of over two decades. Pima County is considered to be at ground level zero in terms of water conservation because many of its rivers have had their water sources depleted.
The Santa Cruz River, located here in Pima County, is an example of a river that dried up due to excessive groundwater pumping for irrigation and urban development. It’s not the only one – the Rillito River has also dried up due to the same conditions. In a desert like ours, water conservation is critical, and the damage done to these water sources can have massive consequences. Despite the current state here, there is still time to heal at least some of the damage. Our best hope may be returning these lands to native tribes who know how to take care of it.
This can be seen with the restoration of the Santa Cruz River, which has had water supply restored to areas running through the San Xavier District as a result of the Tohono O’odham Nation’s reclamation of the river. The Santa Cruz River was an important water source for early native tribes, but it was stolen and damaged by unsustainable groundwater pumping. Presently, the Tohono O’odham Nation has restored water supply following water rights settlements that gave them the opportunity to reduce groundwater usage.
The Santa Cruz River is just one of many possible examples of river and land restoration that can result from returning land to native tribes. This aspect is crucial to consider in environmental discussions moving forward.
PCDP Chair Bonnie Heidler released the following statement celebrating the twelve-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was signed into law on March 23, 2010 and has made healthcare more affordable and accessible for all American citizens.
“Twelve years ago today, President Obama was able to keep a campaign promise affordable health care for all. The ACA has helped millions of people, who otherwise would not be able to afford it, have access to health care. Democrats made that happen, and the people in 2017 made sure it stayed. Like many in the Pima community, I joined Indivisible and hit the streets to protest in 115 degree weather because Republicans were trying to end the Affordable Care Act through Congress. That battle to stand up for increased access to health care was hard-fought, and we won. Congress could not remove the ACA, no matter what it tried. We must remember to continue this fight for a more equitable society.”
As of March 11, the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the Arizona Democratic Party filed a motion against the Arizona Republican Party’s proposal to end early and absentee voting in Arizona.
The ability for voters to cast early and absentee ballots is essential to upholding Arizona’s election infrastructure. The system has been in place for almost a century, and in this time it has become the voting method used by the vast majority of Arizona residents – with 90% of voters having used early ballots during the 2020 election.
This proposal from the Republicans explicitly violates the Arizona Constitution, which defines the voting requirements as cast “by ballot” or “by any other means”. Revoking the right to early and absentee ballots means suppressing the voices of the majority of Arizona voters and removing accessible options from voters far from voting locations – including military, tribal, and young voters in school.
Today, the world is celebrating International Women’s Day! It’s a day for celebrating the achievements of women everywhere and bringing attention to the fight for women’s equality.
This year’s campaign theme is #BreakTheBias, with the goal of freeing women from the effects of bias and discrimination. Biases, whether unintentional or not, persist in negatively impacting women in our society. Stripping away these biases is an important step for women’s advancements in all areas.
In the US’s current political state, women’s rights are actively at risk due to the many anti-abortion bills that have managed to get through legislature. In Arizona, state legislators introduced their own anti-abortion bill, designed to mimic the Texas law that was passed in 2021. In the face of proposals such as these, which would override women’s right to legal abortions, it’s important that one of the things we advocate for during this year’s IWD celebration is reproductive freedom.
For other ways that our community can get involved in the worldwide support of women, the International Women’s Day website contains more information regarding IWD’s mission statement, IWD events, free resources, and female-focused charities to promote.