Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Environmentalists will Occupy Our Capitol on Climate Change this Sunday


The #ForwardOnClimate Rally this Sunday has been billed as “The largest climate rally in U.S. history.” Environmentalists (those aware that we actually occupy our environment) are coming from around the country to demonstrate their commitment to adapting to and mitigating Climate Change. We have to adapt to Climate Change because even if we stop all greenhouse gas emission right now and get our carbon diet from our present 395 parts per million (ppm) to a sensible 350ppm, there is probably 50 to 100 years of warming coming anyway because we didn’t fix this sooner. Mitigation is stopping accelerated anthropogenic Climate Change in its tracks. And, as long as I’m defining things, an anti-environmentalist is a creature that does not occupy this or any other planet.

On Valentine’s Day 48 leaders got themselves arrested as a prelude to the rally to emphasize that the fossil fuel burning era must end. One of the 48 was “Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, who was arrested in the first act of civil disobedience in the organization’s 120-year history.” (2/14/2013 Democracy Now!). We are wicked proud of Brune; listen to this news video after his arrest. (Complete disclosure: I am a proud card-carrying Sierra Club member, former chair of the Rochester, NY group, present webmaster, and present chair of transportation and Zero Waste committees.)

The specific goal of the rally is to push President Obama to stop the XL Keystone Pipeline from snaking its way through the US from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. To help you get your head around the urgency behind stopping this dirty pipeline, you have to watch this hour-long video, White Water, Black Gold, as explained by the great folks at EcoWatch. Putting all that dirty, costly tar into the world commons (our atmosphere to which every creature and every country has an indelible right) would be game over.

This massive rally, an absolute need nowadays if you’re going to grab our present dysfunctional media’s attention, allows us to hold a mirror up to ourselves and demonstrate that we are willing to move out of our comfort zone to change how we get and use energy. I’m sure the Climate Change deniers will be on the sidelines (though they will still experience a planet warming up and all that comes with that) carping about the hypocrisy of those who used fossil fuels to get to an anti-fossil fuel rally.

They have a point, I guess, if you think thousands of folks concerned about the fate of all of us should have started out on foot to get to the rally—a month ago. Truth is we are all complicit in our use of fossil fuel. We cannot escape it. Even those living a low-impact lifestyle have to have their homes heated, their electric grid fueled by something, usually fossil fuel, and even the bikes we ride had to have the metals forged by something burning. This truth should not obscure the larger truth that we have to move this system that we are all a part of to a system that uses renewable energy.

The problem of complicity on burning fossil fuels is that the fossil fuel industry, which takes billions in subsides (your tax dollars) each year and Congress, which panders to the fossil fuel industry like a hungry little lap dog, makes it difficult to get renewable fuel options. Unless you can live in a cave in the cold, at this point you have no choice but to live with burning fossil fuels. But don’t be crippled by this forced complicity. Not lifting your hand to stop the proliferation of greenhouse gas emissions because you had no other choice is like a freed prisoner keeping his chains on because he always had to wear them in the crowbar hotel.

Don’t fall into the guilty consumer conundrum. There’s really only one thing you need to know about Climate Change: We get our carbon addiction under control or we cook. Big changes to our present carbon-burning system happening right now are the only thing that matters.

Lincoln said at the beginning of his presidency, which coincided with the start of our Civil War:

My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union.. . http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gettysburg_Address

The point is that Climate Change is the immediate threat to our future existence, just as winning the civil war was the immediate concern to Lincoln. For Lincoln, his first priority was about saving the union. He cared about the plight of the slaves, about hunger, about peace, about many, many things, but until he preserved the union he could solve none of these other problems. That was the point of the Gettysburg address:

…that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gettysburg_Address

At this point in time, two-thousand and thirteen, we do not want to perish from the earth because Climate Change seems intractable. You can do things about Climate Change in a big way. If you cannot come to the rally and absolutely stun the media into recognition of the public’s concern on Climate Change by a turnout of thousands upon thousands, then read this: “Federal Advisory Committee Draft Climate Assessment Report Released for Public Review” and browbeat your media into connecting the dots with what you find in the study and what you experience locally. You paid good money for this federally-funded study that is backed by hundreds of climate experts and includes the climate concerns of 13 branches of the federal government. Don’t read about the study; read the study.

Also, help back this Boxer/Sanders bill to fill that gaping hole in our economics (externalities) that turns a blind eye to environmental destruction by loony corporations who believe money, not biology and physics, rules.

BREAKING: Senators Boxer and Sanders Introduce Climate Legislation On the heels of President Obama’s call to action in his State of the Union address and the arrest of 48 environmental, civil rights and community leaders at a protest of the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have introduced the first serious climate legislation since cap and trade failed to pass the Senate in 2009. The bill would put a $20/ton fee on the dangerous carbon pollution driving climate impacts like Hurricane Sandy, raising trillions of dollars to offset any impact on consumers and create new investment in renewable energysources. “The leading scientists in the world who study climate change now tell us that their projections in the past were wrong; that, in fact, the crisis facing our planet is much more serious than they had previously believed,” Sanders told a news conference in the Senate environment committee hearing room. The proposal was drafted as two measures, the Climate Protection Act and the Sustainable Energy Act. For a summary, click here.  (February 14, 2013) EcoWatch

Talk to you after the rally…

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