What Can You Do When No One is Paying Attention?

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…


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.

5 Responses to “What Can You Do When No One is Paying Attention?”

  1. admin says:

    Submitted by Admin on behalf of Nancy B:

    But what can you do when no one is paying attention?

  2. admin says:

    To which Admin unremarkably answered:

    Hi Nancy! Uhh. I don’t have the magic answer… Get right up in their faces? Disrupt business as usual? other??

  3. admin says:

    To which Nancy B. replied (submitted by Admin):

    … But I am not at all sure that confrontation gets attention focused where we want it. Perhaps we can get some brainstorming going on here on what you can do when no one is paying attention.

    The Tar Sands initiative is a case in point; the Sept. 24 event was pretty much ignored by the U.S. media, in spite of much world-wide participation and people being arrested. November 6 was a bit more successful in that it caught the attention of the White House. But will it solve the problem? We are still, as a society, determined to extract and burn all fossil fuel, the environment bedamned.

    The Occupy movement got more media attention, but Wall Street simply does not get it. (I recognize that it’s hard to be critical of the fossil fuel industry when its stocks are making you rich). Most of those folks have no conception of what it is like to be out-of-work for years with no hope of finding meaningful work, nor do they see, the environmental disasters already occurring world-wide, or the relationship of those disasters to their behavior. Teaching them would be a daunting task. However, the Occupy movement, while still unfocused, is ongoing. I am slightly hopeful.

    I see huge obstacles to progress: 1- that we no longer hold people accountable if they fail to tell the truth, and 2- the public’s general lack of scientific education or even ability to reason. The public needs to be educated enough to to recognize truth from fiction. I am not talking about uncertainties in science, but that too cannot be appreciated by the majority of ourvoting public. And hence we fall prey to the obfuscations and corruption promulgated by lobbyists for industry, as well as to the distortions we see daily on TV. Can we fix these problems in less than a generation? We may not have that long. Until then we remain eco-vandals.

    I grant you that I am ignoring the 800 pound gorilla in the room. We cannot lay our problems at the feet of Wall Street or the Oil industry alone. They operate in a flawed system, aided and enabled by our dysfunctional government that can only loosely be called a democracy. Can democracy work, given human nature?

  4. admin says:

    Form a large enough bock to move legislation, policy, behavior in a direction which wil draw along all others in its wake, like it or not.

    Get into them subliminally, so that theire attitudes and preferences start to change without their noticing.

    Make them notice! in compelling terms which are immediately relate-able to their lives.

    Make the undesired behaviors more expensive.

    Make the undesired behavior otherwise less desire-able: less convenient, less publically acceptable – as has been done with smoking, …

    Hook their consciences?

    Put our childrens’ faces on the issue.


    Other ideas, please? This is germane to how “we” proceed in the coming year…

    And Blessed Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

  5. Sally G says:

    Just got an E-mail today from the United Farm Workers (UFW)—they have been fighting to ban a poisonous pesticide that was being used on strawberries—which easily absorb chemicals—and that has caused much serious illness (cancer et al) among farm workers. There was good news: the company that makes it has pulled it off the U.S. market (no news about whether it is used elsewhere). Despite a quotation from some corporate executive that compared the decision to watching one of one’s children fail (sorry, no sympathy from me), the fact was that it was no longer profitable in this market. A California assemblyperson has a bill to put together a task force to work on a replacement. Good at first thought, but then one asks, “and just why should the government take on the cost of this for-profit research?”
    Anyway, what I started to say, but from which I got sidetracked, boycotts work—UFW is Cesar Chavez’s group—remember boycotting lettuce and grapes? Not sure we can boycott fossil fuels entirely, nor can we find a clean, nonfracked source of natural gas (once it enters the market, it is not trackable), but we can cut down, we can hold energy-free events, we can spread the word.
    I feel just a bit hypocritical as I type—can I really ignore the plug shining green in the left corner—I am fully charged—or the footprint of manufacturing and transporting this laptop? Still, consciousness-raising is an important first step, I do believe.

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