Year 3, Month 6, Day 4: Yo-Ho-Ho And A Bottle Of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Romanee-Conti Grand Cru!

Well. Who could ever have expected this:

BONN, Germany — U.N. climate talks ran into gridlock Thursday as a widening rift between rich and poor countries risked undoing some advances made last year in the decades-long effort to control carbon emissions that scientists say are overheating the planet.

As so often in the slow-moving negotiations, the session in Bonn bogged down with disputes over technicalities. But at the heart of the discord was the larger issue of how to divide the burden of emissions cuts between developed and developing nations. Developing nations say the industrialized world – responsible for most of the emissions historically – should bear the brunt of the emissions cuts while developed nations want to make sure that fast-growing economies like China and India don’t get off too easy. China is now the world’s top polluter.

“There is a total stalemate,” said Artur Runge-Metzger, the chief negotiator for the European Union.

The negotiations in Bonn were meant to build on a deal struck in December in Durban, South Africa, to create a new global climate pact by 2015 that would make both rich and poor nations rein in emissions caused by the burning of oil and other fossil fuels. But on the next-to-last day of two weeks of talks there was little sign of progress, as different interpretations emerged on what, exactly, was agreed upon last year.

“There is distrust and there is frustration in the atmosphere,” Seyni Nafo, spokesman for a group of African countries, told The Associated Press.

Sociopaths. Sent May 25:

The sickness of America’s economy is uncannily mirrored by the sickness of the planet: the very wealthy and powerful resist regulation, deny responsibility for their actions, and spurn any policies that would impact their profitability.

On Wall Street, unregulated banks gamble money that never existed to begin with, turning to our government to bail out their losses, while at the Bonn climate conference, it’s the nations that triggered global climate change in the first place that are vehemently rejecting the kind of robust, systemic transformation that climate scientists tell us is essential for the survival and prosperity of our species in the coming centuries.

Just as “pirate capitalists” reward themselves for the destruction of our nation’s once vibrantly interdependent economy, great multinational oil corporations reap rich returns while plundering the ecological systems upon which all Earthly life depend. Economic and environmental injustice, it turns out, are one and the same.

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 5, Day 16: While You’re In The Neighborhood

The New York Times makes half the case:

The federal government has given generously to the clean energy industry over the last few years, funneling billions of dollars in grants, loans and tax breaks to renewable power sources like wind and solar, biofuels and electric vehicles. “Clean tech” has been good in return.

During the recession, it was one of the few sectors to add jobs. Costs of wind turbines and solar cells have fallen over the last five years, electricity from renewables has more than doubled, construction is under way on the country’s first new nuclear power plant in decades. And the United States remains an important player in the global clean energy market.

Yet this productive relationship is in peril, mainly because federal funding is about to drop off a cliff and the Republican wrecking crew in the House remains generally hostile to programs that threaten the hegemony of the oil and gas interests. The clean energy incentives provided by President Obama’s 2009 stimulus bill are coming to an end, while other longer-standing subsidies are expiring.

Fun with analogies. Sent May 6:

America’s energy economy bears a remarkable resemblance to a heart patient who’s beginning to recognize that a pulmonary condition requires old habits to be abandoned and new ones taken up. On the one hand, no more cigarettes and cheeseburgers; on the other, lots of exercise and plenty of vegetables. Any part of this program can be beneficial, but for a robust recovery, both are essential.

As in our own bodies, so too in our nation’s consumption of energy. Since it’s essential for our long-term survival that we shift rapidly toward renewable sources (exercise and vegetables, if you will), expanding government subsidies to clean energy is an essential part of a systemic return to health. But the fact is inescapable: if we are to end our dependence on oil and coal (cigarettes and cheeseburgers), it’s time for our taxpayer dollars to stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry.

Warren Senders

Month 4, Day 19: Turning Your Money Into Trash

Financial reform is very important, not only because Goldman Sachs and the rest of the shark pack have ripped the guts out of our economy, but because these mega-bankers care as much about the environment as they do about the people below them on the economic ladder. That is to say, not at all. Unsustainable environmental practices go hand in hand with unsustainable business practices, and it’s time to make sure that shit is absolutely never going to happen again.

Dear Senators Kerry and Dodd,

This letter is about the connection between climate legislation and financial reform.

Any reasonably robust climate bill will be fought tooth and nail by business interests in this country, which is a sure indication that environmental legislation needs to be coupled with financial reform. Ultimately, our destruction of the environment is rooted in a systemic problem in our economic thinking. Our economy is largely built on an unsustainable practice: buying things and turning them into trash as quickly as possible. This happens on Wall Street when the big banks buy and sell incomprehensible credit derivatives to one another, and it happens on Main Street when our stores sell us cheap plastic-wrapped junk that breaks and winds up in a landfill a week later.

An economic model based on turning things into trash will ultimately destroy our nation, and us along with it. We tell our children to contribute to society, to leave things better than we found them — but unless we can end our reliance on consumption as a way of life, our fine words are nothing more than hypocritical prating. The next few decades will determine whether we live in a world that offers our children and their children a meaningful future or a landscape clogged beyond recognition with toxic trash. We can’t fix the climate unless we transform our economy — until we focus our power and attention on living in ways that give back more to the Earth than we take out.

During the debate on the financial reform bill, it is my hope that you will point out to your colleagues in the Senate (and to the nation) that what unsustainable financial practices have done to our economic health, unsustainable consumption habits are doing to our environment. Our nation, and the world, can afford this no longer.

Yours Sincerely,

Warren Senders