tagged w/ 350.org
ON THE ROAD with the new generation of college activists fighting for the environment
by: Bill McKibben
It's obvious how this should end. You've got the richest industry on earth, fossil fuel, up against some college kids, some professors, a few environmentalists, a few brave scientists.
And it's worse than that. The college students want their universities to divest from fossil fuel – to sell off their stock in Exxon and Shell and the rest in an effort to combat global warming. But those universities, and their boards, have deep ties to the one percent: combined, their endowments are worth $400 billion, and at Harvard, say, the five folks who run the portfolio make as much money as the entire faculty combined.
Oh, and remember – this is supposed to be an apathetic college generation. The veteran leader Ralph Nader, in a speech in Boston last year, said kids today were more passive than any he'd seen in 45 years. "Nothing changes if you don't have fire in your belly," he said. "You are a generation without even embers in your belly."
Is Congress Finally Moving on Climate Change?
But here's my bet: the kids are going to win, and when they do, it's going to matter. In fact, with Washington blocked, campuses are suddenly a front line in the climate fight – a place to stand up to a status quo that is wrecking the planet. The campaign to demand divestment from fossil fuel stock emerged from nowhere in late fall to suddenly become the largest student movement in decades. Already it's drawing widespread media attention; already churches and city governments are joining students in the fight. It's where the action all of a sudden is.
I had a front row seat to watch this explosion – actually, I was up on stage, on a nationwide tour that sold out concert halls across the country early this winter. With a bevy of progressive heroes (author Naomi Klein, indigenous activist Winona LaDuke, filmmaker Josh Fox, Hip Hop Caucus founder Lennox Yearwood) and with Rolling Stone as a media sponsor, we took our biodiesel tour bus from Seattle to Atlanta, Maine to Utah, trying to spark a new front in the climate fight. Unknowingly, we'd timed this DoTheMath tour pretty well: Post-Sandy, as the hottest year in American history was drawing to a close, we had no trouble finding allies. In fact, we were serving less as a virus then as a vector, letting activists glimpse their emerging strength. Every night, kids from a dozen local colleges would shout out their resolve, and then gather in "Aftermath" parties to get down to organizing.
By the time we finally finished, in December in Salt Lake City, 192 college campuses had active divestment fights underway, a number that's since grown to 256. And people were noticing. On the Senate floor, Rhode Island's Sheldon Whitehouse told his colleagues that "as Congress sleepwalks, Americans actually are taking action on their own. These students are imploring their schools to weigh the real cost of climate change against the drive for more financial returns, and divest from the polluters."
The New York Times, in what became the week's most e-mailed story in the paper of record, said the campaign could "force climate change back on to the nation's political agenda."
A few days later, Time magazine ended its account of the mushrooming movement like this: "University presidents who don't fall in line should get used to hearing protests outside their offices. Just like their forerunners in the apartheid battles of the 1980s, these climate activists won't stop until they win."
Story continued at linkON THE ROAD with the new generation of college activists fighting for the environment... more
On Sunday, an estimated crowd of 35,000 people joined the Forward On Climate rally in Washington, DC, where protesters delivered a clear message to President Obama: Take immediate action on climate change by rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Organizers of the rally described as the “largest in U.S. history” also called on the president to issue overdue Clean Air Act standards to limit carbon pollution from power plants.
At the rally, 350.org President Bill McKibben said the “easiest, simplest, purest action” Obama could take on the climate is to reject ”this long fuse to one of the biggest carbon bombs on earth,” the Keystone XL pipeline.
By Rebecca Leber on Feb 17, 2013 at 4:45 pmOn Sunday, an estimated crowd of 35,000 people joined the Forward On Climate rally in... more
For immediate release
Jan 15, 2012
OAKLAND CA -- Eighteen of the nation’s top climate scientists released a letter to President Obama today urging him to say no to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
“Eighteen months ago some of us wrote you about the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, explaining why in our opinion its construction ran counter to both national and planetary interests," wrote the scientists. "Nothing that has happened since has changed that evaluation; indeed, the year of review that you asked for on the project made it clear exactly how pressing the climate issue really is."
Indeed the past year has shown that climate change is here. A few months after Superstorm Sandy flooded parts of the Northeast, NOAA announced last week that the average temperature for 2012 was 55.3 degrees Fahrenheit, 3.2 degrees above normal and a full degree higher than the previous warmest year recorded -- 1988.
The State Department is expected to soon release its supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) required for the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline. The department’s previous pipeline EIS downplayed climate risks by arguing that the tar sands would be developed with or without Keystone XL and therefore the project had no responsibility for the additional greenhouse gas emissions that come from burning tar sands oil.
But two of Canada's largest banks, TD Economics and CIBC, have recently said that without added capacity, "Canada's oil industry is facing a serious challenge to its long-term growth" and that “Canada needs pipe — and lots of it — to avoid the opportunity cost of stranding over a million barrels a day of potential crude oil growth.”
The Obama Administrations has promised action on climate change but if KXL is approved, the Administration would be actively supporting and encouraging the growth of an industry which has demonstrably serious effects on climate.
Thousands of concerned citizens will come to Washington, DC on February 17th, President's Day weekend, to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline. Rally information is at www.350.org/presidentsday.
1. Full text of the letter:
Dear Mr. President,
You take office for the second time at a critical moment. As you may know, the U.S. has just recorded the hottest year in its history, beating the old mark by a full degree; the same year that saw the deep Midwest drought, and the fury of Hurricane Sandy, also witnessed the rapid and unprecedented melt of the Arctic ice pack.
If we are to restrain the rise in the planet's temperature, it will require strong action from, among others, the planet's sole superpower. Some of that work will be difficult, requiring the cooperation of Congress. But other steps are relatively easy.
Eighteen months ago some of us wrote you about the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, explaining why in our opinion its construction ran counter to both national and planetary interests. Nothing that has happened since has changed that evaluation; indeed, the year of review that you asked for on the project made it clear exactly how pressing the climate issue really is.
We hope, as scientists, that you will demonstrate the seriousness of your climate convictions by refusing to permit Keystone XL; to do otherwise would be to undermine your legacy.
The International Research Institute for Climate and Society
The Earth Institute, Columbia University
Scripps CO2 Program Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Professor of Ecosystem Sciences
University of California
Jason E. Box
Byrd Polar Research Center
Associate Professor, School of Engineering
University of St. Thomas
Senior Scientist. Department of Global Ecology
Chief Scientist for Climate Change Programs
Michael E. Mann
Professor of Meteorology
Director, Earth System Science Center
The Pennsylvania State University
Alexander Agassiz Professor of Biological Oceanography
Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs
Woodrow Wilson School and Department of Geosciences
Raymond T. Pierrehumbert
Louis Block Professor in the Geophysical Sciences
The University of Chicago
Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Research Professor
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
George M. Woodwell
Founder, Director Emeritus, and Senior Scientist
Woods Hole Research Center
Department of Environmental Science
Professor, Department of Geophysical Sciences
The University of Chicago
Dr. Ted Scambos
Lead Scientist, National Snow and Ice Data Center
University of Colorado at Boulder
Terry L. Root
Alan Robock, Professor II
Distinguished Professor, Department of Environmental Sciences
Rutgers UniversityFor immediate release
Jan 15, 2012
OAKLAND CA -- Eighteen of the nation’s... more
As Congress debates what actions to take to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff” perhaps no programs are less worthy of government support than those which subsidize Big Oil, Gas, and Coal. Read on....
"Every year Congress gives the fossil fuel industry over $10 billion in subsidies. That’s your tax dollars lining our pockets, begging a fortune destroying your kids future."
Please sign petition at link.As Congress debates what actions to take to avoid the so-called “fiscal... more
November 7th, Bill McKibben and 350.0rg hit the road to jumpstart the next phase of the climate movement.
It was protests by 350.0rg that stopped the Keystone XL pipeline last year. Rather than bash Obama how about we Greens support this Do The Math Tour?November 7th, Bill McKibben and 350.0rg hit the road to jumpstart the next phase of... more
So far, we've raised the average temperature of the planet just under 0.8 degrees Celsius, and that has caused far more damage than most scientists expected.
By Bill McKibben
July 19, 2012 9:35 AM ET
If the pictures of those towering wildfires in Colorado haven't convinced you, or the size of your AC bill this summer, here are some hard numbers about climate change: June broke or tied 3,215 high-temperature records across the United States. That followed the warmest May on record for the Northern Hemisphere – the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average, the odds of which occurring by simple chance were 3.7 x 10-99, a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe.
Meteorologists reported that this spring was the warmest ever recorded for our nation – in fact, it crushed the old record by so much that it represented the "largest temperature departure from average of any season on record." The same week, Saudi authorities reported that it had rained in Mecca despite a temperature of 109 degrees, the hottest downpour in the planet's history.
Not that our leaders seemed to notice. Last month the world's nations, meeting in Rio for the 20th-anniversary reprise of a massive 1992 environmental summit, accomplished nothing. Unlike George H.W. Bush, who flew in for the first conclave, Barack Obama didn't even attend. It was "a ghost of the glad, confident meeting 20 years ago," the British journalist George Monbiot wrote; no one paid it much attention, footsteps echoing through the halls "once thronged by multitudes." Since I wrote one of the first books for a general audience about global warming way back in 1989, and since I've spent the intervening decades working ineffectively to slow that warming, I can say with some confidence that we're losing the fight, badly and quickly – losing it because, most of all, we remain in denial about the peril that human civilization is in.
When we think about global warming at all, the arguments tend to be ideological, theological and economic. But to grasp the seriousness of our predicament, you just need to do a little math. For the past year, an easy and powerful bit of arithmetical analysis first published by financial analysts in the U.K. has been making the rounds of environmental conferences and journals, but it hasn't yet broken through to the larger public. This analysis upends most of the conventional political thinking about climate change. And it allows us to understand our precarious – our almost-but-not-quite-finally hopeless – position with three simple numbers.
The First Number: 2° Celsius
If the movie had ended in Hollywood fashion, the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009 would have marked the culmination of the global fight to slow a changing climate. The world's nations had gathered in the December gloom of the Danish capital for what a leading climate economist, Sir Nicholas Stern of Britain, called the "most important gathering since the Second World War, given what is at stake." As Danish energy minister Connie Hedegaard, who presided over the conference, declared at the time: "This is our chance. If we miss it, it could take years before we get a new and better one. If ever."
In the event, of course, we missed it. Copenhagen failed spectacularly. Neither China nor the United States, which between them are responsible for 40 percent of global carbon emissions, was prepared to offer dramatic concessions, and so the conference drifted aimlessly for two weeks until world leaders jetted in for the final day. Amid considerable chaos, President Obama took the lead in drafting a face-saving "Copenhagen Accord" that fooled very few. Its purely voluntary agreements committed no one to anything, and even if countries signaled their intentions to cut carbon emissions, there was no enforcement mechanism. "Copenhagen is a crime scene tonight," an angry Greenpeace official declared, "with the guilty men and women fleeing to the airport." Headline writers were equally brutal: COPENHAGEN: THE MUNICH OF OUR TIMES? asked one.
The accord did contain one important number, however. In Paragraph 1, it formally recognized "the scientific view that the increase in global temperature should be below two degrees Celsius." And in the very next paragraph, it declared that "we agree that deep cuts in global emissions are required... so as to hold the increase in global temperature below two degrees Celsius." By insisting on two degrees – about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit – the accord ratified positions taken earlier in 2009 by the G8, and the so-called Major Economies Forum. It was as conventional as conventional wisdom gets. The number first gained prominence, in fact, at a 1995 climate conference chaired by Angela Merkel, then the German minister of the environment and now the center-right chancellor of the nation.
Some context: So far, we've raised the average temperature of the planet just under 0.8 degrees Celsius, and that has caused far more damage than most scientists expected. (A third of summer sea ice in the Arctic is gone, the oceans are 30 percent more acidic, and since warm air holds more water vapor than cold, the atmosphere over the oceans is a shocking five percent wetter, loading the dice for devastating floods.) Given those impacts, in fact, many scientists have come to think that two degrees is far too lenient a target. "Any number much above one degree involves a gamble," writes Kerry Emanuel of MIT, a leading authority on hurricanes, "and the odds become less and less favorable as the temperature goes up." Thomas Lovejoy, once the World Bank's chief biodiversity adviser, puts it like this: "If we're seeing what we're seeing today at 0.8 degrees Celsius, two degrees is simply too much." NASA scientist James Hansen, the planet's most prominent climatologist, is even blunter: "The target that has been talked about in international negotiations for two degrees of warming is actually a prescription for long-term disaster." At the Copenhagen summit, a spokesman for small island nations warned that many would not survive a two-degree rise: "Some countries will flat-out disappear."
When delegates from developing nations were warned that two degrees would represent a "suicide pact" for drought-stricken Africa, many of them started chanting, "One degree, one Africa."
Despite such well-founded misgivings, political realism bested scientific data, and the world settled on the two-degree target – indeed, it's fair to say that it's the only thing about climate change the world has settled on. All told, 167 countries responsible for more than 87 percent of the world's carbon emissions have signed on to the Copenhagen Accord, endorsing the two-degree target. Only a few dozen countries have rejected it, including Kuwait, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Even the United Arab Emirates, which makes most of its money exporting oil and gas, signed on. The official position of planet Earth at the moment is that we can't raise the temperature more than two degrees Celsius – it's become the bottomest of bottom lines. Two degrees.
Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719#ixzz216dyGPqaSo far, we've raised the average temperature of the planet just under 0.8 degrees... more
Last Saturday people around the world volunteered, documented, educated, and protested to connect the dots on climate change. We're just getting started. Please join us at http://www.350.orgLast Saturday people around the world volunteered, documented, educated, and protested... more
If we’re going to tell this story — and it’s the most important story of our time — we’re going to have to tell it ourselves.
by Bill McKibben, via TomDispatch
The Williams River was so languid and lovely last Saturday morning that it was almost impossible to imagine the violence with which it must have been running on August 28, 2011. And yet the evidence was all around: sand piled high on its banks, trees still scattered as if by a giant’s fist, and most obvious of all, a utilitarian temporary bridge where for 140 years a graceful covered bridge had spanned the water.
The YouTube video of that bridge crashing into the raging river was Vermont’s iconic image from its worst disaster in memory, the record flooding that followed Hurricane Irene’s rampage through the state in August 2011. It claimed dozens of lives, as it cut more than a billion-dollar swath of destruction across the eastern United States.
I watched it on TV in Washington just after emerging from jail, having been arrested at the White House during mass protests of the Keystone XL pipeline. Since Vermont’s my home, it took the theoretical — the ever more turbulent, erratic, and dangerous weather that the tar sands pipeline from Canada would help ensure — and made it all too concrete. It shook me bad.
And I’m not the only one.
New data released last month by researchers at Yale and George Mason universities show that a lot of Americans are growing far more concerned about climate change, precisely because they’re drawing the links between freaky weather, a climate kicked off-kilter by a fossil-fuel guzzling civilization, and their own lives. After a year with a record number of multi-billion dollar weather disasters, seven in ten Americans now believe that “global warming is affecting the weather.” No less striking, 35% of the respondents reported that extreme weather had affected them personally in 2011. As Yale’s Anthony Laiserowitz told the New York Times, “People are starting to connect the dots.”
Which is what we must do. As long as this remains one abstract problem in the long list of problems, we’ll never get to it. There will always be something going on each day that’s more important, including, if you’re facing flood or drought, the immediate danger.
But in reality, climate change is actually the biggest thing that’s going on every single day. If we could only see that pattern we’d have a fighting chance. It’s like one of those trompe l’oeil puzzles where you can only catch sight of the real picture by holding it a certain way. So this weekend we’ll be doing our best to hold our planet a certain way so that the most essential pattern is evident. At 350.org, we’re organizing a global day of action that’s all about dot-connecting; in fact, you can follow the action at climatedots.org.
The day will begin in the Marshall Islands of the far Pacific, where the sun first rises on our planet, and where locals will hold a daybreak underwater demonstration on their coral reef already threatened by rising seas. They’ll hold, in essence, a giant dot — and so will our friends in Bujumbura, Burundi, where March flooding destroyed 500 homes. In Dakar, Senegal, they’ll mark the tidal margins of recent storm surges. In Adelaide, Australia, activists will host a “dry creek regatta” to highlight the spreading drought down under.
Pakistani farmers — some of the millions driven from their homes by unprecedented flooding over the last two years — will mark the day on the banks of the Indus; in Ayuthaya, Thailand, Buddhist monks will protest next to a temple destroyed by December’s epic deluges that also left the capital, Bangkok, awash.
Activists in Ulanbataar will focus on the ongoing effects of drought in Mongolia. In Daegu, South Korea, students will gather with bags of rice and umbrellas to connect the dots between climate change, heavy rains, and the damage caused to South Korea’s rice crop in recent years. In Amman, Jordan, Friends of the Earth Middle East will be forming a climate dot on the shores of the Dead Sea to draw attention to how climate-change-induced drought has been shrinking that sea.
In Herzliya, Israel, people will form a dot on the beach to stand in solidarity with island nations and coastal communities around the world that are feeling the impact of climate change. In newly freed Libya, students will hold a teach-in. In Oman, elders will explain how the weather along the Persian Gulf has shifted in their lifetimes. There will be actions in the cloud forests of Costa Rica, and in the highlands of Peru where drought has wrecked the lives of local farmers. In Monterrey, Mexico, they’ll recall last year’s floods that did nearly $2 billion in damage. In Chamonix, France, climbers will put a giant red dot on the melting glaciers of the Alps.
And across North America, as the sun moves westward, activists in Halifax, Canada, will “swim for survival” across its bay to highlight rising sea levels, while high-school students in Nashville, Tennessee, will gather on a football field inundated by 2011’s historic killer floods.
In Portland, Oregon, city dwellers will hold an umbrella-decorating party to commemorate March’s record rains. In Bandelier, New Mexico, firefighters in full uniform will remember last year’s record forest fires and unveil the new solar panels on their fire station. In Miami, Manhattan, and Maui, citizens will line streets that scientists say will eventually be underwater. In the high Sierra, on one of the glaciers steadily melting away, protesters will unveil a giant banner with just two words, a quote from that classic of western children’s literature, The Wizard of Oz. “I’m Melting” it will say, in letters three-stories high.
This is a full-on fight between information and disinformation, between the urge to witness and the urge to cover-up. The fossil-fuel industry has funded endless efforts to confuse people, to leave an impression that nothing much is going on. But — as with the tobacco industry before them — the evidence has simply gotten too strong.
Once you saw enough people die of lung cancer, you made the connection. The situation is the same today. Now, it’s not just the scientists and the insurance industry; it’s your neighbors. Even pleasant weather starts to seem weird. Fifteen thousand U.S. temperature records were broken, mainly in the East and Midwest, in the month of March alone, as a completely unprecedented heat wave moved across the continent. Most people I met enjoyed the rare experience of wearing shorts in winter, but they were still shaking their heads. Something was clearly wrong and they knew it.
The one institution in our society that isn’t likely to be much help in spreading the news is… the news. Studies show our papers and TV channels paying ever less attention to our shifting climate. In fact, in 2011 ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox spent twice as much time discussing Donald Trump as global warming. Don’t expect representatives from Saturday’s Connect the Dots day to show up on Sunday’s talk shows. Over the last three years, those inside-the-Beltway extravaganzas have devoted 98 minutes total to the planet’s biggest challenge. Last year, in fact, all the Sunday talk shows spent exactly nine minutes of Sunday talking time on climate change — and here’s a shock: all of it was given over to Republican politicians in the great denial sweepstakes.
Continued at linkIf we’re going to tell this story — and it’s the most important... more
'It’s important for all of us whose lives are being damaged to know that it’s right that we get a little angry at those forces causing this problem.'
Across the planet now we see ever more flood, ever more drought, ever more storms. People are dying, communities are being wrecked — the impacts we’re already witnessing from climate change are unlike anything we have seen before.
But because the globe is so big, it’s hard for most people to see that it’s all connected. That’s why, on May 5, we will Connect the Dots.
In places from drought-stricken Mongolia to flood-stricken Thailand, from fire-ravaged Australia to Himalayan communities threatened by glacial melt, we will hold rallies reminding everyone what has happened in our neighborhoods. And at each of those rallies, from Kenya to Canada, from Vietnam to Vermont, someone will be holding a…dot. A huge black dot on a white banner, a “dot” of people holding hands, encircling a field where crops have dried up, a dot made of fabric and the picture taken from above — you get the idea. We’ll share those images the world around, to put a human face on climate change–we’ll hold up a mirror to the planet and force people to come face to face with the ravages of climate change.
Anyone and everyone can participate in this day. Many of us do not live in Texas, the Philippines, or Ethiopia — places deeply affected by climate impacts. For those communities, there are countless ways to stand in solidarity with those on the front-lines of the climate crisis: some people will giving presentations in their communities about how to connect the dots. Others will do projects to demonstrate what sorts of climate impacts we can expect if the crisis is left unchecked. And still others of us will express our indignation to local media and politicians for failing to connect the dots in their coverage of “natural disasters.”
However you choose to participate, your voice is needed in this fight — and you can sign up here: www.climatedots.org
These will be beautiful events, we’re sure. But they will also have an edge. It’s important for all of us whose lives are being damaged to know that it’s right that we get a little angry at those forces causing this problem. The fossil fuel industry is at fault, and we have to make that clear. Our crew at 350.org will work hard to connect all these dots — literally — and weave them together to create a potent call to action, and we will channel that call directly to the people who need to hear it most.
May 5 is coming soon; we need to work rapidly. Because climate change is bearing down on us, and we simply can’t wait. The world needs to understand what’s happening, and you’re the people who can tell them.
Please join us–we need you to send the most important alarm humanity has ever heard!
Bill McKibben'It’s important for all of us whose lives are being damaged to know that... more
This headline and the comments that follow are my personal opinion as a member of 350.org.
May 5, 2012 is Connect the Dots Day when people all around the Earth will speak out against global warming and the havoc it is reeking on people’s lives and ecosystems facing extinction.
Do we not yet realize that this is a problem dwarfing all political and economic considerations? We are talking severe famine and mass migrations here people.
This is not the future crisis that we once thought we could leave to our children to deal with. It is happening today, faster than anyone imagined. Denial is no longer a convenient option.
This is not just another Earth Day when we can all feel good about planting a tree or cleaning up litter one day a year. It is about taking real action by making ourselves heard loud and clear! If we don’t demand a reduction in fossil fuels now it will be too late (if it isn’t already too late).
As a Baby Boomer may I just add how very disappointed I am in my generation? Was it all just a pipe dream???This headline and the comments that follow are my personal opinion as a member of... more
From Bill McKibben for 350.org:
Good news this time.
At some point every one of us at 350 has thought to ourselves a little despairingly: is the world ever going to catch on to climate change? Today is one of those days when it feels like it just might happen.
A story on the front page of yesterday’s New York Times described a new poll -- Americans in record numbers are understanding that the planet is warming because they’re seeing the “freaky” weather that comes with climate change.
And the story ends by describing the next step in this process: May 5, the giant Connect the Dots day that people are joining all around the globe: www.ClimateDots.org
When the zeitgeist conspires to help our efforts, we need to make the most of it. Two weeks is plenty of time to organize a beautiful photo for May 5, one that will help spread this idea. Are you in a place where flood and rain have caused havoc? Ten people with umbrellas can make a memorable “climate dot” for all the world to see. You’ll think of something appropriate for your place -- and you can find lots of examples and ideas here.
This movement is growing quickly, and with not a moment to spare -- new data from scientists like Jim Hansen at NASA shows that our carbon emissions have already made extreme weather many times more likely. We can’t take back the carbon we’ve already poured into the atmosphere, but if we work together hard and fast then we can keep it from getting steadily worse.
Earth Day is coming up this weekend, and there will be thousands of events across the US. Each one of them is a great place to spread the word about the big day of action on 5/5. When you’re on the front page of the Times it’s a sign that the message is starting to get through -- but only one American in 300 reads that newspaper. Now it’s up to all of us to make sure that everyone around the world gets the message, and Connect the Dots day on 5/5 is our best chance to do that. Please join us.
Bill McKibben for 350.org
P.S. It is key to remember that these photos from May 5 are not just for their effect on that day. We need a bank of images showing the human face of global warming -- pictures we’ll use for the hard and direct political work of the next few years. If people don’t know there’s a problem, they won’t try to solve it. So let’s show them on 5/5. Here's a heartbreaking example, from some local activists in Texas [above].From Bill McKibben for 350.org:
Good news this time.
At some... more
[Last week] Barack Obama wrapped up his first trip to Oklahoma as President. He arrived just after a week of floods, capping off a winter that never came, which followed the hottest and driest summer Oklahoma had seen in thousands of years, perhaps ever.
But he wasn’t in Oklahoma to talk about these climate disasters. He was there to laud his administration’s fast-tracking of the southern leg of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. In his speech today, President Obama didn't connect the dots between fossil fuel extraction, climate change, and the extreme weather that has reshaped so much of the American landscape this past year.
It’s a painful reminder that sometimes we must be leaders ourselves, before we can expect our elected officials to follow. It’s clearly up to us to connect the dots.
Today 350.org is launching a global day of action to call attention to these and other climate disasters, here on the same day as the President’s announcement. Across the planet now we see ever more flooding, ever more drought, ever more storms. People are dying, communities are being wrecked -- the impacts we’re already witnessing from climate change are unlike anything we have seen before.
If we're going to do these communities justice, we need to connect the dots between these disasters and show how all of them are linked to fossil fuels. We're setting aside May 5th for a global day of action to do just that: Connect the Dots between extreme weather and climate change.
Anyone and everyone can participate in this day. Many of us do not live in Oklahoma, the Philippines, or Ethiopia -- places deeply affected by climate impacts. For those of us not in directly-impacted communities, there are countless ways to stand in solidarity with those on the front-lines of the climate crisis: some people will be giving presentations in their communities about how to connect the dots. Others will do projects to demonstrate what sorts of climate impacts we can expect if the crisis is left unchecked. And here in the US, it’s particularly important that we make the connections clear to our elected officials -- beginning with President Obama.
However you choose to participate, your voice is needed in this fight -- and you can sign up to host a local event here: www.climatedots.org/start
350.org has done giant global days of action before (over the last three years we've helped coordinate over 15,000 events in 188 countries) and they're always beautiful moments when our movement stands together. This year we'll use that same captivating tactic to draw attention to the struggles of our friends around the world -- the communities already feeling the harsh impacts of climate change.
These will also be beautiful events, we’re sure. But they will also have an edge. It’s right that we get a little angry at those forces causing this problem. The fossil fuel industry is at fault, and we have to make that clear. Our crew at 350.org will work hard to connect all these dots -- literally -- and weave them together to create a potent call to action, and we will channel that call directly to the people who need to hear it most.
May 5 is coming soon; we need to work rapidly. Because climate change is bearing down on us, and we simply can’t wait. The world needs to understand what’s happening, and you’re the people who can tell them.
Please join us -- we need you to send the most important alarm humanity has ever heard.
Bill McKibben[Last week] Barack Obama wrapped up his first trip to Oklahoma as President. He... more
As 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben explains in the video, we're gearing up for a major new fight to end the billions of dollars in subsidies the fossil fuel industry receives each year -- the tax-breaks, handouts, and loopholes that are just adding to the record-breaking profits that these companies are already making. And perhaps most importantly, getting rid of fossil fuel subsidies across the board would be a huge step to cutting carbon emissions and putting us back on a pathway to 350 ppm.
The subsidies battle is gaining momentum, and fast. In a recent speech, President Obama called for an end to subsidies to Big Oil and said, “Let's put every single member of Congress on record: You can stand with oil companies or you can stand up for the American people.”
As you probably know, we haven’t agreed with President Obama on everything, but we think getting every member of Congress on the record is a great idea. As a first step, we just launched this short and simple petition that reads: "I call on Congress to end all subsidies to fossil fuel companies, and invest in green jobs and clean energy instead."
Please take a minute to add your name to the petition calling for Congress to put an end to fossil fuel subsidies. Over the next month, we'll ramp up the pressure -- on Twitter, on Facebook, over the phones, and in district -- to get every politician to tell us where he or she stands on these subsidies. For now, we'll use this petition to show Congress how important this issue is -- and when we launch our big push to get every member of Congress on the record, they'll know that we have an army of concerned citizens who have our back.
As Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the Hip-Hop Caucus says in the video, “To make this movement successful, we have to continue to keep the pressure going.” We couldn't agree more. Along with taking on fossil fuel subsidies, we're gearing up for some massive new efforts to build this movement:
- Taking on more iconic fossil fuel fights across the country and around the world.
- “Connecting the Dots” between climate change and extreme weather -- expect more on that front very soon!
- Training and supporting thousands of new climate leaders to strengthen our movement.
- And lots more…
None of this work is possible without your participation and leadership. As Bill says in the video: “This fight is going to be a lifetime fight. I’m so, so, so grateful to all of you who are playing such a huge role in it.”
On we go,
May Boeve for the 350.org TeamAs 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben explains in the video, we're gearing up for a... more
I just received this great e-mail from 350.org about the 35,553 petitions signed last week on behalf of President Nasheed of the Maldives.
You may not know me, but I’m writing to thank you.
My name is Zaheena. I’m a young Maldivian, recent university graduate, former 350.org intern, and member of the Maldives’ movement for democracy. I’m writing to personally express my gratitude. Your outpouring of support for President Nasheed’s safety, and the plight of democracy and peace in the Maldives, was truly inspiring.
In under a week, an incredible 35,553 of you signed our petition to world leaders.
Last week, I was able to travel to Washington, DC to hand deliver your messages to the political desk that handles Central and South Asian affairs at the US State Department. Here’s a picture of us about to make the delivery.
The response from the State Department was standard boilerplate, but they were clear that your messages made a difference--and I believe them. International pressure was crucial in making the democratic elections of 2008 happen and in bringing democracy to the Maldives, and will be important in restoring democracy.
After the frightening events that took my country by surprise a few weeks back, thousands of people marched in the capital Male’ protesting the coup d’état and calling for democracy and justice. In recent days all political parties agreed to early presidential elections, giving us hope that we will overcome these trying times democratically.
I am so grateful to know so many people care about my homeland, and I sincerely believe that if the world keeps an eye on the Maldives, things will start to change for the better.
There is much in common in the battle against climate change and for democracy--the right to a healthy and dignified life--and this can happen when people are free to speak their minds, make decisions over their own resources, and have the power to act against injustice.
Thanks for all the work you do in your own community to fight climate change, and for standing in solidarity with our fight for climate safety and democracy.
Zaheena RasheedI just received this great e-mail from 350.org about the 35,553 petitions signed last... more
In 24 hours, the 99 percent flooded the U.S. Senate with more than 800,000 messages opposing the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. This afternoon, 781,000 of the signatures to the Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline emergency petition were hand-delivered to the U.S. Capitol in boxes of 20,000 names each by members of 350.org, Green For All, and other climate hawks. “In Kentucky, over 2,000 people gathered at a rally opposing mountaintop removal mining picked up their cell phones and called Sen. McConnell to tell him to stop pushing Keystone XL. In New York City, dozens of people visited Sen. Schumer’s office and got him on the record opposing the pipeline. Petition deliveries also took place in Ohio, Maine, North Carolina, New Mexico, and elsewhere.”In 24 hours, the 99 percent flooded the U.S. Senate with more than 800,000 messages... more
There's a new battlefront in the fracking fight: the Delaware River Basin, which provides water to five percent of the country's population. And anti-fracking dreamboat Mark Ruffalo is asking for help in fighting against fracking there.
You don’t have to take Ruffalo’s word for it -- you probably want to fight fracking anyway. When 350.org asked supporters what they should fight for while Obama sits on the Keystone XL decision, twice as many people voted to fight oil and gas fracking than for any other cause.There's a new battlefront in the fracking fight: the Delaware River Basin, which... more
Caution: It is vitally important not to make connections. When you see pictures of rubble like this week’s shots from Joplin, Mo., you should not wonder: Is this somehow related to the tornado outbreak three weeks ago in Tuscaloosa, Ala., or the enormous outbreak a couple of weeks before that (which, together, comprised the most active April for tornadoes in U.S. history). No, that doesn’t mean a thing.
It is far better to think of these as isolated, unpredictable, discrete events. It is not advisable to try to connect them in your mind with, say, the fires burning across Texas — fires that have burned more of America at this point this year than any wildfires have in previous years. Texas, and adjoining parts of Oklahoma and New Mexico, are drier than they’ve ever been — the drought is worse than that of the Dust Bowl. But do not wonder if they’re somehow connected.
If you did wonder, you see, you would also have to wonder about whether this year’s record snowfalls and rainfalls across the Midwest — resulting in record flooding along the Mississippi — could somehow be related. And then you might find your thoughts wandering to, oh, global warming, and to the fact that climatologists have been predicting for years that as we flood the atmosphere with carbon we will also start both drying and flooding the planet, since warm air holds more water vapor than cold air.
An op-ed by Bill McKibben, author and founder of 350.org, narrated and illustrated by Stephen Thomson of Plomomedia.comCaution: It is vitally important not to make connections. When you see pictures of... more
In this week’s webisode, author and Climate Expert Bill McKibben tells us about his 10/10/10 day of action, which he calls “the most widespread day of civic engagement on any issue at any time in the planet’s history.”In this week’s webisode, author and Climate Expert Bill McKibben tells us about... more
Check out this video about the global climate change action taking place on Sunday all over the world.Check out this video about the global climate change action taking place on Sunday all... more
2 years ago
by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger
Congress comes back into session next week, but environmentalists and climate change activists have given up on the legislature. Instead, activists are planning to spur popular concern about these issues, until calls for change are so loud that Congress must listen.
Today, climate change reformer Bill McKibben will ask President Obama to reinstall a solar panel that first graced the White House roof during the Carter presidency. In the months to come, advocates hope to lead more radical direct actions that force more Americans to confront the issues at hand—and hopefully pressure change from the bottom up.
For the past two years, Congress has flirted with action on climate change, only to shy away time and time again. Environmental groups have spent record sums on courting lawmakers to no avail. McKibben and other environmental advocates are now convinced that they must bypass elected representatives and instead work to convince constituents that the country must do something to address global warming.
McKibben, the environmental author who now leads an international climate campaign called 350.0rg, along with Phil Radford and Becky Tarbotton, both heads of environmental groups, wrote to potential allies against the energy industry in Yes! Magazine.
“We’re not going to beat them by asking nicely,” the three wrote. “We’re going to have to build a movement, a movement much bigger than anything we’ve built before, a movement that can push back against the financial power of Big Oil and Big Coal. That movement is our only real hope, and we need your help to plot its future.”
These three leaders see a greater role for direct action in pushing America to scale down its energy use, move towards renewable energy, and abandon its dirty energy habits. As civil rights and suffrage advocates suggest, to move the populace, ”to effectively communicate both to the general public and to our leaders the urgency of the crisis,” climate activists must “put our bodies on the line.”
Those for who have suggestions on how to move forward can contact these leaders at firstname.lastname@example.org. They hope to draw on submitted ideas for actions in the spring.
Clean Energy Victory Bonds
Those less inclined to take to the streets still have options for supporting clean energy. The Nation’s Peter Rothberg suggests supporting the idea of Clean Energy Victory Bonds (CEVB), as conceived by the group Green America. This idea requires Congress to pass legislation, but “it seems like a no-brainer,” Rothberg writes.
“According to Green America, CEVBs would benefit the economy, the environment, and investors, by uniting individuals, communities, and companies to help finance the rapid deployment of renewable energy projects and energy efficiency upgrades,” he says. Other benefits: it’s a safe and potentially flexible investment, and the bonds could help create 1.7 million jobs.
Easy to ignore climate change
At this point, the push for direct action almost seems like a more sensible investment of political energy, at least. Climate change has dropped in importance for most Americans, so it’s easy for Congress to ignore the problem. As Kevin Drum explains for Mother Jones, “The high-water mark for public opinion on climate change was in 2005 or so, and we’ve been losing ground ever since. Until we get it back, Congress is going to continue to do nothing.”
It appears that, without broad popular pressure for some sort of action, Congress feels comfortable leaving aside even policy proposals that the majority of Americans support. One of the sticking points of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) energy bill has been a renewable energy standard (RES), a requirement that the country will increase the percentage of its power generated from clean energy sources within a certain time frame.
The idea is popular, as David Roberts writes at Grist, citing a Pew/National Journal poll showing that 78 percent of all respondents and 70% of Republicans favored an RES.
“Not many policies get this kind of bipartisan support these days,” Roberts writes. “People are fond of saying energy should be a bipartisan issue and surely reasonable people can agree, etc. Well, here it is, happening.”
What’s more, an RES would go a long way towards spurring private sector investment in clean energy. Lew Hay, the CEO of NextEra, a major clean energy company, has said that an RES would spur his company to invest billions of additional dollars in wind and solar development.
East vs. Midwest
Passing an RES would also mean pushing the renewable energy industry to hash out a viable infrastructure for a clean energy future.
“As the nation looks to move to a renewable energy standard, a lot of that really comes down to how to meet the energy needs of the East coast,” Jamie Karnik, the communications manager at a wind advocacy group, told The Washington Independent’s Andrew Restuccia. “Certainly people who are building wind in the Midwest, have their eye on the eastern market.”
The problem is, Restuccia reports, that entrepreneurs on the East Coast want a chance to develop off-shore wind farms. Ultimately, the country will need new electric lines to transport energy created from clean sources, but right now, competition among clean energy manufacturers could delay the construction of those lines.
Maybe climate change activists can come up with some ideas to push the clean energy industry along faster, too.
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger
Congress comes back into session next... more