Month 2, Day 22: To The Super-Rich

My wife was watching a video about billionaires who are serious about tackling climate change. Bill Gates is one such; another is Virgin’s Richard Branson, who feels pretty strongly about it. So I wrote him a letter, which came out pretty well, I think.

I then spent the most frustrating time on the Virgin website trying to find a way to send it through their “Ask Richard” section. Signed up, got a password…and had my email address rejected by their system for (apparently) uncorrectable reasons. So after an hour, I gave up, and emailed it to the headquarters of the Virgin Green Fund, with the following request:

Dear Virgin Green Fund Staffer – after about an hour spent on the Virgin website trying to get the system to accept my information so that I could submit a letter to Richard Branson, I have given up on that avenue. The important work that the VGF is doing seems closest to the theme of my letter to Mr. Branson, and so I am taking the liberty of submitting it to you in the hope that you may be able to forward it up the line in the hope that it will eventually reach its goal.

Thank you for your assistance.

Dear Mr. Branson — I have read with considerable admiration about your work in educating the business community and the world to the dangers of global climate change. We need more businesspeople like you if we are to counter the pernicious denialism that has taken root in public perception. I applaud your plans for a “Carbon War Room;” while as a lifelong pacifist I dislike using the term “war” as an analogy, I recognize that it could capture the public imagination effectively.

I have a comment and a suggestion for you.

First, in the Time article of December 31, 2009, you are described as believing that “global warming will have to be solved by better technology and better practices, not by changing the way we live our lives.” Actually, we will have to change the way we live our lives very substantially. The point is (or should be) that these are changes for the better. Going back to neolithic lifestyles is what we don’t want to do; it is misleading to equate changing some of our culture’s most unhealthy habits with a lessening of quality. For example, lessening the carbon footprint of our food system cannot just mean trucks with lower emissions — it’s also got to mean more community gardens. Reducing the GHG output of our energy system cannot just mean shifting away from coal — it’s also got to mean living less wastefully. These are transformations in our lifestyles which work to our benefit, increasing the resilience of local communities and ecosystems.

Second, since the U.S. Supreme Court decided (in Citizens United vs. F.E.C.) that corporations have free speech rights in American elections, thinkers on all sides of the ideological spectrum have been apprehensive about the likelihood of greatly increased corporate spending and its influence on the political process. While I disagree strongly with the Citizens United decision, I would like to ask you to please take advantage of it: I urge you to buy air time before America’s November election, and to run political advocacy messages educating the electorate about the dangers of global warming. We need representatives who will help us confront the most pressing existential threat humanity has ever faced.

And finally, it is surely obvious to you that the biggest single obstacle to governmental progress on climate change issues is the obduracy of the modern U.S. Republican Party. The Party of No is also the Party of Climate Denial, as witness the obstructionist behavior of Senator James Inhofe. My question is — and this is only partially meant in jest — what would it take for you to buy a few Republicans? The evidence suggests that they come pretty cheaply. It might be money well spent.

Thank you for your consideration,

Warren Senders

“What would it take for you to buy a few republicans” is a question worth repeating. Warren Buffett? George Soros?

22 Feb 2010, 9:53am
by Annette

E-X-C-E-L-L-E-N-T !-!-!-!


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