What Can You Do When No One is Paying Attention?

December 16th, 2011

Some days ago, I sent the following to my “Climate Action Network” list. That spurred a conversation with Nancy B of NH, who’s initial question is the title of this post. I include her comments below. We are open for other thoughts – indeed, this is a pressing concern, as Presidential and other campaigns pick up steam, as climate commitments fail to be made, and so on…

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OK. So I see that the Catholic pope has spoken at the Durban Climate talks. That’s good… Right: the talks are coming up… No, they’ve been going on for a week already…

Now, I don’t watch much TV nor listen to much radio. So is it just me or is this important event lost on the American public? and are we – is the country – even engaging productively there? or have we essentially blown it off?

An interviewee on Charlie Rose the other night pointed to a WSJ article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203441704577068670488306242.html . “The U.S. Nears Milestone: Net Fuel Exporter.” I got lost in thoughts like: is domestic energy security already in-hand? is there that much oil, gas, etc. already available? are we trying to accelerate into peak fossil fuel times? how do Tar Sands and fracked gas truly figure in (perhaps only as cash cows, as I’ve heard some say)? …

My mother – Colette – pointed out another aspect: Here we are, selling coal and petroleum products around the world – while we should – or at least could – be shutting down the sale of those commodities in favor of climate stabilization. We’re literally throwing gasoline on the fire that is global warming…

Wasn’t Brazil being paid to avert de-forestation? Do we need to be paid – or otherwise forced – to keep our fossil fuels in the ground? because we aren’t smart enough to do it ourselves?

The concept of eco-cide was running around a few years ago. In a sense, the US is arguably engaged in eco-cide… A new term came to mind a few days ago: Eco-Vandal. The US as Eco-Vandal. Just sort of trashing the place. Definitions of vandalize include “intentional and malicious destruction of or damage to the property of another.” That sounds about right.

Rejecting Candidates Who Won’t Act for Climate Stabilization

November 30th, 2011

US Representative Henry Waxman authored a piece entitled “The GOP’s climate contradictions“, which was carried on Politico’s website. In the article, Mr. Waxman addresses such perspectives as “we question the science”, “we can’t act alone”, and “EPA shouldn’t be regulating climate change.” His purpose is to deflate those arguments.

He closes the article as follows: “We cannot repeal the laws of nature. If we continue to do nothing, the floods, wildfires, heat waves and extreme weather that have wreaked havoc across our nation — at a cost of tens of billions of dollars annually — will increase and intensify. And future generations will never understand why we squandered our shrinking opportunity to protect the planet.”

These criticisms are not being offerred by a casual bystander. Representative Waxman has been an outspoken Congressional advocate for climate action, having championed legislation in the 111th session with fellow-representative Edward Markey (their “American Clean Energy and Security” Act passed the House but died in the Senate). Mr. Waxman has gone so far as to label climate change a “moral issue” during a speech earlier this year at the Center for American Progress.

In a related story, mid-Iowa publisher Ames Tribune released “Scientists urge candidates to recognize climate change” on November 22.

One message which is being loudly voiced in these items is the need to avert the election of climate-deniers or even climate-apathists in the upcoming electoral cycle.

How do we assure that climate deniers and apathists are rejected at the polls one year from now?

Your actionable ideas are warmly invited!

Reacting in Outrage to EnergyFromShale.org

September 10th, 2011

The linked ad showed up on a full page of a North Jersey newspaper (The Record, page A12) on September 7, 2011 – strategically timed, no doubt, to coincide with anti-fracking actions going on that day in Philadelphia .

Check out the ad: EnergyFromShale.org Advertisement  (then return here by clicking the Back-Arrow in your browser!). The ad shows an intent, inquisitive, blond-haired toddler crouched on a patch of perfect, green grass; he is peering through a big magnifying glass, directing his sight into the earth. His background is a pleasant, out-of-focus expanse of green leaves.

The headline reads: “WHERE IS AMERICA FINDING MORE THAN A CENTURY’S WORTH OF CLEAN, DOMESTIC ENERGY?” The answer, placed below the large picture of the toddler, is stated as “RIGHT BENEATH OUR FEET.” Additional text asserts: “technology has improved”, “safely recover”, “practices employed to protect the environment”, “transform America’s energy security”, “creating jobs and growing the economy”, and “let’s unlock it.”

NJ’s Governor has established a 1-year moratorium on drilling, a relatively small amount of which is envisioned in the state. NY’s DEC has just issued socio-economic data to supplement its generic environmental impact statement; public comment continues through December 12, 2011 (http://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/75370.html ; again, return here by clicking the Back-Arrow). PA is in the midst of fracking; property owners continue to be negatively impacted (at Tar Sands, I spoke with Jeremiah Compton Gee about devastation at his family’s home in Wellsboro PA which occurred earlier this year under the supervision of Shell).

My question for this blog entry: HOW IS THE IMPEDIMENT TO CLIMATE STABILIZATION POSED BY ADS SUCH AS THIS EFFECTIVELY COUNTERED?

What messages need to be publicized? What sound-bytes? What pictorials? How to broadcast to all? How to respond fast? …

One suggestion which occurs to me based on my Tar Sands attendance: Show the child mainlining oil into his veins, the victim of the addiction which plagues us now, floating on a raft with only the radio mast of the new WTC building showing. (I am being intentionally provocative and insensative. My apologies, in advance.)

??! Where Do We Need The Action – The Feds, The States, The Cities ??!

August 13th, 2011

Posted by Admin for Jeremy:

I’d like to (start a) conversation to discuss specifics a bit. I’m interested to know what specific policies we are all in favor of the government enacting to make headway in this problem, and which are to be deemed ineffective or unworkable.

Before listing my own picks, I’m going to qualify: I think it’s far more effective to petition a local or state government on these issues than it is to petition the Federal Government. Let me explain. The Federal Government is massive, unwieldy and sluggish when compared to its constituent parts. It is as if a battleship trying to turn itself around on a dime, whereas the states – scooners or yachts if you will – are more easily influenced. States have fewer demographics to appease, fewer ‘moving parts’; they are more vulnerable to political action than the hulking behemoths of the United States of America’s Legislative Branch, and its Executive Branch, which are solidifying, over time, into a non-zero sum game of two-party, nobody-finally-wins, nobody-finally-loses politics.

So my suggestions for policy will focus only on what has so far worked for city and town governments, though I have great faith in political action directed at the state as well.

I adamantly support government action, and organized activism to this end, that focuses on promoting the sorts of markets and plans of action listed below. All of them are conducive to massive reductions in GHG output:

* In Transportation:

– Subways: residents of cities without cars spend something like 1/4 or 1/3 the carbon of suburbanites on average, and public rail is one of the main reasons. The better the subways in cities, the lesser the footprint.

– Bike Riding: cities can support this by reserving clear bike paths, beautifying them, and even by implementing larger scale projects like bike-sharing, citywide… one company that does this is PBSC; they’ve installed infrastructure in Montreal, Toronto, London and Melbourne, among a few others, to great success.

– High-Speed Rail: high-speed rail is estimated to reduce carbon output to 1/3 of the amount of output necessary for traditional rail travel. Commuter rail, in particular, is used daily by millions of Americans. The project being pushed by the Obama administration is a jump start (to say nothing of Obama’s administration’s choices otherwise).

– Car-Sharing: Zipcar is the heaviest hitter on this, with 75% of global market share. Car-sharing is estimated to reduce driving hours by about 80% for the average urban dweller… government support of these systems could be a huge step in sustainable development.

– Plug-in Infrastructure (for hybrids and electric vehicles): California is already starting on this. The East Coast needs to get started, too. The electricity still comes from the wrong places right now, but once the infrastructure’s in place, we can later more easily transition to clean power, and then use it to drive. Cars on the road will continue to increase over the coming decades; this measure is indispensable.

– “Cash for Clunkers”: The government can offer tax breaks or direct payments to encourage citizens to turn in their fuel-inefficient car to be recycled for materials.

* In Water Use:

– Rainwater Capture: This is a huge one. Hundreds of billions of gallons of rainwater fall to earth every year, meanwhile, we expend billions of tons of carbon pumping water into cities from elsewhere. This is a massive failure of efficiency. The New York DEC is currently working on implementing this in several places – in the City, and at least in Onandooga County as well.

* In Energy:

– Homebuilding: the government has power to provide tasty rebates for homeowners for outfitting homes with new insulation, caulking windows, and otherwise improving home energy use. This almost happened in the form of “Cash for Caulkers” back in 2010, but it hasn’t seen the light of day yet…

– Government Energy Use: Most government buildings in the States don’t operate at optimum energy efficiency; they’re just old. In NYC for example, government and institutional buildings constitute almost 18% of total. The government has direct control, at the very least, over how much energy it uses; it can and should cut back.

* In Waste Management:

– Landfilling: Massive amounts of trash are managed my major cities every day, in the billions of tons nationwide. This trash has to go somewhere – in many places it is actually shipped out of state, and sometimes several states away. This could be avoided if local landfills or, better yet, Waste-To-Energy power plants were installed locally. If movements to finance these are available in our areas, I feel they deserve utmost support.

The U.S. EPA offers statistics on what parts of the country – what states and what cities – are responsible for the most flagrant GHG emissions. If political action is have lasting impact in the states – whether that action be directed at the local, the State or the Federal government – it will have to address emissions reductions especially in these areas. I submit that it would be easier and more effective to engage those governments directly, as opposed to engaging the much larger, much more powerful, and much more politically entrenched Federal Government, which would then be expected to handle the logistics of intervening in affairs of state governance, most likely also threatening the GDP-per-capita of those states’ populations, by regulating their economies against their will.

The Sagebrush Rebellion has established a precedence for states to rebel against the Federal Government on these matters. Substantial support for States’ rights exists in both houses of Congress. I doubt very much that legislation allowing the Federal Government to overrule states on the use of their own land has any hope of being passed in both houses… at least not in our current political climate.

By appealing to cities and states, not the Federal government, we appeal to less powerful, more easily-influenced political bodies. And should enough of these smaller bodies come around, it would indeed, then be more feasible to appeal to the Federal Government for more widespread plans of action.

Yo! We Need Songs, Music, Tunes, A Beat to Move The Climate To!!

August 5th, 2011

Music is integral to our experiences – especially our enjoyment – of life. Music and lyrics crystallized the messaging – the aspirations, the needs, the energy – of prior movements. Tell me if I’m wrong ;-]

Vietnam, Civil Rights – The late 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. The young among us still listen to them with affection. The elder remember the times, places, people, and scene associated with the music of the time. Purposeful or playful – it all helped. It was our drum-beat…

Let’s make a playlist, a disco-graphy of songs that could energize the climate stabilization movement – the civil disobendience movement – the setting of sights on a New Future…

Let’s write and share the songs that speak to the heart of the problems of today… (Wish I could offer the prizes… !!)

I’ll throw out some ideas:

>> Guitar Shorty’s “We The People”

>> Bob Dylan’s ?? (help me out!)

>> Crosby, Still, Nash, Young: “Ohio” and “Southern Man”

>> John Lennon and the Beatles: “Imagine”

>>

>>

—– someone list the labor and civil rights standards, or paste a link, please —–

———–we need these to sing in jail————

What Factors Make The Climate Action Movement Unique?

July 29th, 2011

It occurs to me that the climate action movement needs to identify and understand factors which differentiate it from successful historic movements. Purposes for such an exercise would include: i) defining strategies and tactics which address those unique attributes or challenges; and, ii) putting into context the enormity of the task of advancing the movement.

Movements with which we might compare and contrast include: women suffrage; African-American civil rights; farm workers; and others. (I am no historian.)

I’ll start off some observations/suggestions and ask that readers add their thoughts…

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1) addressing global warming needs to touch and affect every aspect of personal and societal life in order to be meaningful; no group is exempt; no activity will be exempt; as much as 9/11/2001 has affected life, addressing global warming will be even more pervasive in our lifestyles.

2) addressing global warming will affect the consumption patterns of individual Americans, an aspect of life from which we derive satisfaction, comfort, self-esteem, social status, even purpose; further, the affect will be in reducing that consumption, generally speaking – a tendancy which many may find distasteful. Further, directly affecting consumption through external means (as by taxation) could be deemed an attack on personal freedom by many Americans.

3) Many segments of society are bound to the success – and failure – of the major corporate entities active in the fossil-fuel industry. Obviously, employees of same, and their families and communities; these are in virtually bondage. Governments fearful of relocation of the industry’s operations and the attendant loss of tax revenue (?) and employment opportunity (?) and other support are similarly led by the nose. Even retirees – through their pensions plans, IRA’s, and other investments – are complicit in the expectation that – even the need for – the corporations included in their portfolios to do well; and will applaud great performance, without possibly knowing how those were achieved.

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I leave the floor to the next commenter… Please, come on up to the microphone…

Hello world!

July 28th, 2011

Welcome to WordPress on 1&1 and this site! I have never done this before, so please bear with me!

My desire is to engage intellectually with you in an open forum where-in we can talk about climate matters – with the intention of moving American society – or at least ourselves – in the direction of climate stabilization.

Initially, I will apply no controls as to who can comment; again, the purpose is free exchange of ideas. I ask that commenters remain dignified and courteous: I will purge comments which might be personally offensive to others…

Thanks! Jerome Wagner