Year 2, Month 9, Day 30: “The Ideology Of The Cancer Cell”

The Iowa City Press-Citizen discusses “Moving Planet,” in the wake of Saturday’s planet-wide action:

The event was held in conjunction with the nearly 2,000 other Moving Planet rallies around the world over the weekend, including eight in Iowa, sponsored by the global environmental organization

Carsner urged rally goers to call upon local business to invest in renewable energy, and demand that their elected officials initiate better energy standards and make it more conducive for homeowners and small businesses to generate clean energy through wind and solar power.

“We think there is plenty we can do on a local level,” said Carsner, the head of the Iowa City Sierra Club group. “… We think it’s important to take action, it’s important to gain information and it’s important to be part of a movement.”

I’m continuing with the “let’s reform capitalism” theme. Heh heh heh. Sent September 26:

The people all over the globe who joined Saturday’s “Moving Planet” action are giving voice to the most urgent need of our times. It’s not just that we must address climate change — the greenhouse effect is a symptom of a deeper problem that we have barely begun to think about.

Our economic thinking is based on the idea that continuous growth is both possible and desirable. It is neither. When almost seven billion humans spend environmental capital far faster than it can be replenished, it is time to change our ways.

If humanity is to survive and prosper in the coming centuries, we need to stop consuming the Earth’s resources and start renewing them — which can only happen when our economic models are based on sustainability, not growth. This is the ultimate message of “Moving Planet,” and it’s one the world needs to hear — now, more than ever.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 9, Day 29: Potayto, Potahto, Tomayto, Tomahto

The Bangor Daily News runs an excellent piece of analysis on why climate denialism is so deeply rooted in our contemporary culture. Spread this piece far and wide!

Check it out:

NEW YORK — Tucked between treatises on algae and prehistoric turquoise beads, the study on page 460 of a long-ago issue of the U.S. journal Science drew little attention.

“I don’t think there were any newspaper articles about it or anything like that,” the author recalls.

But the headline on the 1975 report was bold: “Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?” And this article that coined the term may have marked the last time a mention of “global warming” didn’t set off an instant outcry of angry denial.

In the paper, Columbia University geoscientist Wally Broecker calculated how much carbon dioxide would accumulate in the atmosphere in the coming 35 years, and how temperatures consequently would rise. His numbers have proven almost dead-on correct. Meanwhile, other powerful evidence poured in over those decades, showing the “greenhouse effect” is real and is happening. And yet resistance to the idea among many in the U.S. appears to have hardened.

What’s going on?

Read it and weep. Here’s my response, sent Sept. 25:

While much climate denialism is simply rooted in people’s unwillingess to accept unpleasant news, we must also consider the role of the American news media. The principle of false equivalence facilitates journalistic irresponsibility: as long as both sides’ positions are reported, the reporter’s work is done, regardless of their truth or falsity.

However, the two positions in the climate change “debate” are not equally true. On one side: tens of thousands of climate experts from all over the world, building a robust scientific consensus with predictive power that have steadily increased over the past several decades. On the other: a few well-publicized contrarians amply funded by the fossil fuel industry.

Which is likelier? Thousands of climatologists all making spurious claims in order to get funding — or the world’s wealthiest corporations trying to rig the game, as they’ve done so many times before? Denialism is not supported by the facts.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 9, Day 28: More On “Moving Planet”

The September 24 Fiji Times reports sympathetically on “Moving Planet.” As an island nation, they’re right there on the front lines, so their words have particular relevance:

YOU and I have only one planet, one home — if we do not act, we can risk the brunt of a climate catastrophe, says Vodafone 2011 Hibiscus Queen Alisi Rabukawaqa.

Ms Rabukawaqa is part of a campaign called Moving Planet which is a day of global events focused on the need to move the planet beyond fossil fuels.

A statement from Moving Planet-350 Fiji yesterday called on all walkers, runners, cyclists, paddlers and other non-fossil fuel-powered movers to take to the streets on September 24 which has been designated for the event.

“On Saturday, September 24 we join people all over the world in more than 180 countries to show our support for moving beyond fossil fuels and tackling climate change,” the statement said.

Bill McKibben, founder of said, governments all over the world were complacent about the increasing climate crisis.

“This is the day when people will get the earth moving, rolling towards solutions we need,” he said.

This is a rephrasing of my letter for yesterday, sent an hour later, on Sept. 23 (it’s already the next day over there in Fiji!):

Bill McKibben and have taken on perhaps the most daunting challenge in the history of grassroots movements for social change: a long-term campaign to transform our planetary economy away from consumption, and toward renewal and replenishment.

The global warming emergency wasn’t caused by any individual, organization or society, but is a byproduct of our complex civilization. While industrialized culture has brought us countless wonders and facilitated global interconnectedness to an unprecedented degree, it also consumes far more of our irreplaceable environmental resources than we replace.

Political and regulatory approaches, while crucial to solving the climate crisis, cannot replace what’s really needed: a profound change in our ways of living.

This change must be subtle, yet radical; global, yet local; immediate, yet long-term. With millions of people working collectively across the globe, our chances of success are slim. So why bother? Because shirking this challenge is a guarantee of catastrophe.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 9, Day 27: Wheels On Fire, Rollin’ Down The Road

The September 23 edition of the Milford, MA Daily News runs a sympathetic article on the upcoming “Moving Planet” events, leading with these nicely crafted paragraphs:

Many scientists and climate experts understand that 350 ppm (parts per million) of carbon carbon dioxide (CO2) is the amount considered to be the safe upper limit of the gas in the earth’s atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere allowing humans to live on earth, but at higher levels leads to global warming.

The bad news is that the earth’s atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide are currently at 392 ppm and are increasing by 2 ppm every year. If this trend continues, a tipping point could be reached and irreversible damage done to the planet. The good news is that the planet is still at a point where if changes are made now to significantly reduce the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse emissions, the planet could slowly cycle some of the extra carbon in the atmosphere and get back to 350 ppm. That is the goal of

Bill McKibben, founder of ( and author of several books on climate change, says we cannot remain on the wrong side of 350. He organized as a global movement to bring attention to this vexing worldwide problem. This year, linked up with Moving Planet to organize Saturday’s global day of action, a movement created to continue beyond this date of unity.

It seemed to be worth it to try for a philosophically robust analysis in the space of 150 words, sent Sept. 23:

The rationale for the “Moving Planet” action rests in the fact that the biggest culprit in the global warming emergency is not a single individual, or even a single organization. Rather, the steadily increasing concentration of greenhouse gases is brought about by the industrialized civilization within which we all live.

“Top-down” political and regulatory solutions are essential to a viable resolution of the climate crisis, but they are insufficient without a widespread change in our ways of living. While our complex, vibrant informational culture has made worldwide interconnectedness a possibility, it consumes environmental resources far faster than they can be renewed.

We must transform our economy away from consumption and towards replenishment — without losing the planetary sensibility that made modern environmentalism possible. To succeed, this transformation must be both global and local, immediate and long-term — which is why Bill McKibben’s vision is so relevant and inspiring. Let’s ride.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 9, Day 26: Stupid Is As Stupid Does

The Sept. 22 edition of the Cypress Times (TX) notes the idiotic readiness of conservative voters to reject climate change and evolution in one fell swoop:

WASHINGTON, D.C.—While nearly 7-in-10 (69%) Americans believe there is solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades, and nearly 6-in-10 (57%) Americans believe humans and other living things evolved over time, a new survey finds that approximately half of Americans who identify with the Tea Party reject both (50% reject global warming and 51% reject evolution).

The new PRRI/RNS Religion News Survey was conducted by Public Religion Research Institute, in partnership with the Religion News Service, amid back and forth among Republican presidential candidates on religion and science, especially the issues of climate change and evolution.

I guess I just felt like lecturing them a bit on how dumb they’re being. Note the Old-Testament metaphor in my final sentence. Sent Sept. 22:

That many Republican primary voters enthusiastically repudiate evolutionary theory and global climate change is a sad indicator of the state of education in America. These same voters are perfectly ready to endorse scientific results when they’re ideologically neutral — just ask any “tea-party” member to give up antibiotics, chest x-rays, air travel, telephones or the internal combustion engine and see how far you’ll get. It’s also acceptable when science is used to support conservative policy objectives, as in the application of the latest and most advanced war-making technology — all developed by researchers applying the scientific method.

This method — the testing of falsifiable hypotheses — has created an understanding of the world overwhelmingly more accurate than any other in human history. To reject scientific results when they’re ideologically inconvenient — as in the case of climate denialists — is to bow before the golden calf of willful ignorance.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 9, Day 25: Blind Pigs And All That

Usually I have almost nothing but contempt for the World Bank, the IMF and the other tentacles of the global vampire squid. But as the September 21st issue of the Washington Post tells us, they’ve got something right:

AMSTERDAM — Global financial institutions are recommending raising money to fight climate change by trimming subsidies for fossil fuels, putting a price tag of $25 per ton on carbon emissions and collecting a surcharge on aviation and shipping fuels.

The recommendations are part of a draft paper by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other international groups prepared for a meeting Friday in Washington of G20 finance and development ministers. It was leaked prematurely and distributed Wednesday by aid agencies.

The ministers of the world’s 20 largest economies are responding to a commitment to channel $100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing countries adapt to global warming and develop low-carbon economies.

But Republicans won’t eat acorns, no matter what. Sent Sept. 21:

If the recommendations from the World Bank and the IMF actually gain traction in the policy-making sectors of government, it would mark a sea-change in political approaches to the climate crisis. Their suggestions err only on in being too conservative; fossil fuel prices should reflect the true cost of these commodities, including not only the long-term mitigation of their health and environmental effects but all those expensive wars we fight to protect our sources. When these factors are taken into account it is evident that burning carbon is an exceptionally costly to fuel a civilization.

A price on carbon likewise cries out for implementation. A “fee-and-dividend” scheme would return monies directly to consumers, partially offsetting increased energy costs.

Alas, Washington is unlikely to respond meaningfully to these recommendations. As Mr. Clinton remarked, GOP-induced policy paralysis and reflexive climate denialism makes America a joke in the eyes of the world.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 9, Day 24: The Punch Line Is A Punch In The Face

The Seattle Times runs an AP story on Bill Clinton’s Global Initiative, which handles the Big Dog’s remarks rather tamely:

Former President Bill Clinton’s annual philanthropic conference will get under way in New York City with a discussion about climate change.

The Clinton Global Initiative is set to begin Tuesday morning with an opening session focused on addressing global climate challenges in coming years. The session will be co-hosted by Mexican President Felipe Calderon and South African President Jacob Zuma.

They left out his characterization of GOP climate denialism as making the US into a “joke” in the eyes of the world:

Former President Bill Clinton has some tough words for Republican climate-change deniers: quit making the U.S. “look like a joke.”

Kicking off his Clinton Global Initiative in New York, the former president said Americans should make it “politically unacceptable” for people to engage in climate change denial, according to Politico.

“I mean, it makes us — we look like a joke, right?” Clinton said. “You can’t win the nomination of one of the major parties in the country if you admit that scientists are right?”


So I mentioned it in my letter, sent September 20:

In his opening remarks at the Clinton Global Initiative, Bill Clinton spoke forcefully about Republicans’ rejection of science, saying that their unwillingness to admit the existence of global climate change makes the U.S.A. “look like a joke” to the rest of the world.

Indeed. When a huge slice of our country’s population is represented by petroleum-funded, science-denying, reality-phobic politicians who value the petty exigencies of political gamesmanship over meaningful policy responses to genuine emergencies — well, it means trouble any way you look at it.

It’s trouble for our country, as much-needed investments in renewable energy and conservation are blocked by GOP legislators. It’s trouble for the planet, as America continues to emit more CO2 per capita than any other country in the world. With Republican obstructionism blocking our response to the climate crisis, our country may look like a joke — but no one’s laughing anymore.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 9, Day 23: He Sounds Way More Polite Than I Would Be In A Similar Situation

Marcus Stephen is the president of Nauru. Here is his op-ed in the Solomon Star News; you should read it.

NEW YORK (Reuters AlertNet) —- Standing before the United Nations Security Council on July 20, I described the existential threat posed by climate change to Nauru, my country, and other island nations in the Pacific, arguing that it endangers regional and international security.

After a vigorous open debate, the president of the Council issued a carefully parsed statement that acknowledged that climate change, in some circumstances, could exacerbate pre-existing tensions and undermine the resolution of armed conflicts.

Elsewhere in the UN complex that same day, officials were preparing to announce that a threshold for misery – separating a humanitarian crisis from a full-blown famine – had been crossed in the Horn of Africa.

Today we know tens of thousands of people have died and another 750,000 are at risk of starvation across the region because of the drought.

The timing of the announcements was coincidental, but their convergence reflects how environmental catastrophes made more frequent and intense by climate change are surpassing the ability of political institutions at all levels to respond effectively.

I wish the world’s richest weren’t being so stupid. Sent Sept. 19:

It is cruelly ironic that the nations most immediately affected by climate change are almost always the ones contributing least to the carbon footprint of our industrialized planetary culture. While Arctic ice dwindles and the temperature rises, many of the world’s largest developed countries are unable to address the crisis. By accidents of geography, many of these nations happen to be less vulnerable to rapid climatic transformations and extreme weather events; perhaps this makes it easier for them to abdicate their responsibilities as members of the international community.

Their indifference to this immediate existential threat is baffling. Island states, placed by nature on the front lines of climate change, have no such luxury. Marcus Stephens is correct in calling for a special representative on climate at the United Nations, something that should have happened decades ago. There may still be time to mitigate the worst of the coming storms; there is none to waste in petro-political posturing.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 9, Day 22: He Told You So

The Whittier Daily News reports approvingly on Al Gore’s 24-hour climate reality marathon:

NO one packs more information into a slide show than Al Gore, who won an Oscar for his documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” in 2006.

Gore, the leading voice on global climate change, was back at it last week with his 24-hour streaming video show “Climate Reality Project” ( broadcast from 24 different locations in 13 languages Sept. 14 to Sept. 15.

While one right-wing blogger called it “death by PowerPoint,” I found it informative and worth a watch. If you missed it, you can catch re-runs on his website and on his Current TV channel. Not one fact will move you to act, but perhaps the avalanche of facts, quotes and paraphrases from just the “24th hour” presentation given by Gore himself from New York, will.

The link has an excellent set of bullet points that you would do well to copy and use over and over.

Sent September 18:

The corporate forces aligned to muffle Al Gore’s message are enormous. Through the misleading practice of false equivalency, in which two opposing sides are equated under the guise of journalism, many in our news and opinion media have abdicated their responsibility to the truth.

When the American public sees a one-to-one ratio of worried climate scientists and petro-funded denialists, it’s no wonder that there’s still “debate” on the veracity of climate change. But the correct proportion isn’t one-to-one; it’s more like ninety-seven to one. If ninety-seven heart specialists told you to quit smoking, and three said they wanted more tests…what would you do?

While some candidates explicitly reject science (or pretend to in order to curry the favor of primary voters), climate change’s terrifying consequences should remove this issue from the political arena. The vast majority of climatologists are telling us something important. Will we wake up and pay attention?

Warren Senders