Month 6, Day 3: Disaster Spells O-P-P-O-R-T-U-N-I-T-Y ?

This DK diary contains two fantastic essays by Bill McKibben and Adam Siegel. Go read it. And while you’re at it, read this. These two posts are what brought this letter bubbling up.

More personal than usual, but I’m starting to really take this stuff personally, y’know?

Dear President Obama —

I just read that in its opening addresses at the UN climate negotiations in Bonn, the United States never once mentioned a readiness to accept a binding agreement on carbon emission reductions.

Mr. President, I love my country.

Like you, I have lived abroad. When I first went to India to live, in the mid-1980’s, people asked me over and over again, “the Americans we meet are such wonderful people. Why is it that your government does such terrible things?”

That was during the Reagan years, and those of us with conscience were outraged by the behavior of our government. And all I could do was shake my head sadly, and say, “I know. It’s a terrible thing.”

When the U.S.negotiator states that the negotiation text which had been approved by every country in the world at Copenhagen ‘had no standing,’ I can only shake my head sadly and say, “I know. It’s a terrible thing.”

When my government’s negotiator promotes the Copenhagen Accord, a political agreement which takes seven degrees Farenheit of global warming as a given, I can only shake my head sadly and say, “I know. It’s a terrible thing.”

When I look at the consequences of that level of warming and realize that it will mean millions and millions of deaths due to food and water shortages, I can only shake my head sadly and say, “I know. It’s a terrible thing.”.

I know that it takes a long time to turn things around. I am not so naive as to think that wishing will make it so — but I still wish.

Bill McKibben said recently that the Deepwater Horizon disaster has offered you the perfect platform for a genuinely transformative approach. While the oil chokes the water and poisons all the life in the Gulf of Mexico, you must remind us all that fossil fuel is dirty. It’s dirty when you take it out of the ground, it’s dirty when you process it, it’s dirty when you burn it…and, of course, as it burns it releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Dirty. With the ruined ecosystems of the Louisiana coast as a backdrop, you need to ask the American people, “Is this what you really want?” And you need to offer some alternatives. McKibben notes that his organization,, is planning a “Global Work Party” for energy conservation and efficiency on the 10th of October of this year. He concludes with this wish: “Let’s hope the president is up on the roof of the White House, hammering in the solar panels that Ronald Reagan took down.”

Mr. President, that’s my wish for you, too.

I wish for an America that embraces the idea of energy independence, that acknowledges its global responsibilities, that recognizes that the global engine of predatory capitalism is causing irreversible damage to the planet we share. I wish for an America where I don’t have to keep shaking my head sadly and saying, “I know. It’s a terrible thing.”

Yours Sincerely,

Warren Senders

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