Year 4, Month 11, Day 5: Gettin’ Better All The Time?

USA Today, on the Power Shift 2013 gathering:

Students from more than 720 campuses and communities attended Power Shift 2013 last weekend in order to discuss climate, energy and environmental justice issues.

Power Shift, hosted by Energy Action Coalition, is a biannual convergence of young activists that seeks to help further the movement to end fracking (the process of fracturing rock layers very deep within the earth in order to extract natural gas or oil), create a clean energy future and divest for fossil fuels.

For the first time, Power Shift was held in Pittsburgh rather than its usual location in Washington D.C.

The weekend offered workshops, keynote speakers and more than 200 panels on how to run campaigns that promote a clean and just energy economy on their own campuses or within their own communities.

For 28-year-old Whit Jones, campaign director for Energy Action Coalition, Power Shift is a time in which the young generation can make its voices heard.

“Our generation has the opportunity to lead our movement and our country into a clean energy economy,” Jones says. “Right now we have both urgent crises around climate change and our economic crisis. If our generation can lead the way into a cleaner economy we can both help stop climate change and also create millions of jobs for our generation.”

Crazy anarchists! October 26:

In the sixties, college students led protests against war and racial bigotry. A few decades later, their campaigned for divestiture from South Africa’s apartheid government galvanized campuses across America. While today’s collegians may at first glance have many possible pathways of activism, ultimately there is only one central cause, and it is exemplified by the young people involved in “Power Shift 2013.”

When you get right down to it, humanity’s been successful because our planet’s climate is pretty benign; letting us feed ourselves and others while still having time to make things better for our society. All our advances — expanding the franchise, gradually eliminating slavery, emancipating women, the crazy notion that children have rights, ending the oppression of LGBT people — rest on a foundation of environmental and climatic stability.

These dedicated young people realize that if we fail on climate, we fail on everything. They deserve our applause and support.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 12, Day 5: Variations On A Theme

The Albany Times-Union runs the same AP article on Pachauri’s remarks (see yesterday’s letter for a blockquote). So I took yesterday’s piece, filed off all the serial numbers, and passed it along.

Sent November 30 (now I’m five days ahead of the curve!):

Seeking to justify inaction on climate change, self-styled fiscal conservatives are fond of invoking the specter of expense. But as Rajendra Pachauri makes clear, the economic impacts of a runaway greenhouse effect will be far more exorbitant than any costs associated with shifting to an energy economy based on the principles of sustainability.

Genuine financial responsibility implies living within one’s means, and it’s time for the world’s biggest burners of fossil fuels to recognize the hidden costs of the energy they’ve long regarded as inexpensive. Climate chaos’ impacts on infrastructure, public health, and agriculture (to name just three vulnerable sectors of the economy) will be devastating in ways that neither business or government have anticipated — and once we include all these factors in our calculations, coal and oil stand revealed as exorbitantly costly.

Our species cannot afford any more “cheap energy” if we are to survive the coming centuries.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 3, Day 27: You Call THAT a Disaster? Hah! I’ll Show YOU a Disaster!

John Sanbonmatsu has a piece in the Christian Science Monitor that pulls no punches in its headline: “Japan’s nuclear crisis pales in comparison to destruction from global climate change.” It’s well worth a read.

Sent March 18:

The Fukushima disaster is sure to have extensive generational repercussions, although it’s essentially a short-lived phenomenon; an isolated failure of technology in response to an extreme seismic event. As John Sanbonmatsu makes clear, the ongoing crisis of climate change is a slow-motion catastrophe of much greater magnitude and significance. Japan’s agony provides an opportunity to realize how inadequately we’ve prepared for worst-case events, combining a touching faith in technological solutions with a blinkered inability to address problems before they become emergencies. We need increased investment in renewable energy; we need a “smart grid”; we need updated infrastructure. But more importantly, the national philosophy underlying our approach to energy must be completely transformed. American energy policy must be based first and foremost on principles of efficiency and reduced consumption; the petrocentric Cheneyism that snidely decreed conservation merely a “sign of personal virtue” is in its essence both anti-American and anti-human.

Warren Senders