Year 4, Month 10, Day 11: The Words In My Heart Reveal How I Feel About You

USA Today, on the divestiture movement:

Students also express their concern for the planet through green majors such as environmental science, sustainability and environmental policy.

Colin Nackerman, a sophomore at George Mason University, was inspired to major in environmental policy after growing up in a small town in Southern California that was affected by environmental issues.

“I kinda wanted to get into the regulation side of policy to hopefully save places like my hometown from being devastated by environmental disasters,” Nackerman says.

At George Mason, he is also involved with the Environmental Action Group, whose goal this year is to fight for more transparency on funding the school receives from the Koch brothers, opponents of climate-change regulations.

Students cite their future as the reason for getting involved with climate change activism on campus.

“We’re the ones inheriting these issues and we’re going to have to be dealing with them in the future, so it behooves us to act now,” Bruck says.

Good luck, kids. You’ll need it, I’m afraid. October 3:’s founder Bill McKibben and many other environmentalists have frequently likened the movement to divest from the fossil fuel industry with student-propelled social initiatives to end financial ties to apartheid South Africa in business, government, and academia. In the 1980s, young people felt the moral imperative to end the injustices of institutionalized racism, and translated their outrage into action. Today’s environmental activists are likewise driven by a deep sense of social responsibility and the need to disassociate from the wrongdoing of a group of highly irresponsible and extremely powerful economic actors. The similarities are profound. But there is one important set of differences.

Apartheid’s victims lived in a single state on a single continent — and at a single pivotal point in time. That the burgeoning climate crisis will claim its casualties everywhere on Earth for centuries to come is a fact which dramatically strengthens the ethical necessity of divestiture.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 10, Day 8: I’m Gonna Live Forever…

The Athens News (OH) runs a great article by the always-great Amy Goodman:

Last week, far out in the Arctic Ocean, the Greenpeace vessel Arctic Sunrise approached a Russian oil-drilling platform and launched a nonviolent protest, with several protesters scaling the side of the platform. They wanted to draw attention to a dangerous precedent being set.

The platform, the Prirazlomnaya, owned by Russian gas giant Gazprom, is the first to begin oil production in the dangerous, ice-filled waters of the Arctic. The Russian government responded swiftly and with force, deploying special-forces soldiers, their faces masked by balaclavas, threatening the peaceful Greenpeace activists with automatic weapons, destroying their inflatable boats by slashing them, arresting 30 and towing the Greenpeace ship to the northern Russian port of Murmansk. At last report, the protesters faced a potential charge of piracy.

This protest is remarkable for its sheer audacity. But it is by no means the sole protest lately against runaway fossil-fuel extraction and consumption. People are speaking up around the globe, demanding action to combat global warming. In North America, a broad coalition has been growing to stop the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, as well as to stop the exploitation of Alberta’s tar sands, which the pipeline is designed to carry.

The corporate persons aren’t just sociopaths, they’re stupid. September 30:

The recently released IPCC report confirms the urgency of the climate crisis.  While widespread citizen action to advocate sane climate policies in America and around the world is a good sign, it’s distressing that the business and financial communities have been both tardy and inadequate in their approach to the problem: a decade late, a trillion dollars short.

The plain facts are simple: action now to mitigate damages will save us money, time and lives in the future. That our government has failed to take even the most anodyne steps to address the metastasizing greenhouse effect is testimony to an ugly reality: the corporate sector which dominates our politics is itself dominated by a toxic mix of scientific ignorance and greed.

The facts are simple: excessive CO2 emissions are damaging our planet’s health and are on track to disrupt and destroy much of our civilization over the coming century, while bringing humanity closer to what evolutionary biologists coyly term an “evolutionary bottleneck” — a delicate euphemism for extinction-level global trauma. I may be naive, but I can’t see how letting your customers get wiped out is good for long-term profitability. Business needs to wake up and support climate action.

Warren Senders


Year 4, Month 10, Day 6: Thank You, Sir — May I Have Another?

PennLive – The Patriot-News – runs a great interview with Michael Mann:

To all the climate-change deniers out there, Penn State meteorology professor Michael Mann has this suggestion:

Stop arguing about whether the globe is warming and whether human pollution from greenhouse gases plays a major role in it. The science on those counts is settled.

Instead, he said, join the debate about what, if anything, the world can — or should — do about it. Is taking action against climate change simply too expensive? Why should we sacrifice given what China and India are doing?

Some critics are asking those questions, he said when interviewed Wednesday in Harrisburg for an event sponsored by PennFuture. And that approach would bring the discussion to “a legitimate level where it’s possible to have a policy debate,” he said. In some ways, I welcome that. We can talk about efficacy, fairness” and other issues.

“If that’s where we really were, we’d be in really good shape,” he said.

Alas, we are not, as a flood of commenters on this article will surely demonstrate. Denialists will bring up out-of-context data points and cite the handful of academically-credentialed dissenters who dispute the overwhelming scientific consensus on the subject.

“There are always devil’s advocates and contrarians in science,” said Mann.

Always a pleasure to stand up for a stand-up guy. September 28:

Even since Dr. Michael Mann first published his findings on the accelerating pace of climate change, he’s come under steady attack from anti-science conservatives. Despite the fact that they’ve come up empty in their search for incriminating evidence of academic malfeasance, these anti-science zealots aren’t abandoning their fruitless crusade.

The recent IPCC report once again demonstrates that the specialists who’ve dedicated their lives to understanding Earth’s climate agree that there is a very serious problem, and that we — all of us — need to talk about it. Unable to refute the rapidly accumulating evidence of the climate crisis, denialist pundits and politicians instead resort to misrepresentations, ad hominem attacks, and statistical cherrypicking.

In the face of a rapidly accelerating crisis, Michael Mann and other climatologists exemplify not just good scientific practice, but the broader virtues of responsible citizenship. They deserve our thanks and respectful attention, not calumnies and abuse.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 10, Day 2: She’s My Curly-Headed Baby…

Great work against the PIPELINES recently. The Burlington Free Press (VT):

MIDDLEBURY — Activists attempted to draw the line against what they called dirty fuels Saturday.

As high noon hit the Middlebury Town Green, young families, teens, seniors and outspoken 30-somethings eagerly donned wide, orange strips of tape to connect each other in a human line intended to send an unyielding message against the Keystone XL, Vermont Gas, and Portland-Montreal pipelines.

Raymond LaLumiere of Leicester heckled guest speakers by shouting, “What about the facts? What about the facts?”

Rally coordinator Maeve McBride of South Burlington calmed the pipeline supporter so the more than 100 registered activists could listen to the speakers on the gazebo who rallied against pipeline projects in Vermont.

Activists at the rally were from the Center for Biological Diversity, joined by members of 350 Vermont, Rising Tide and other citizens to voice their opposition.

I sure do love reading about protests. September 24:

Patriotism is not expressed by flags and slogans, but by acting on a shared responsibility to the future of our nation and the world. It was two hundred and thirty-eight years ago that the Green Mountain Boys struck a decisive blow in the early history of America, catapulting Ethan Allen into our nation’s pantheon of legendary patriots, and laying the groundwork for the creation of the State of Vermont. The American Revolution was the world’s first fight to establish a country free from economic and political domination by a major world power, and its effects are still part of our lives, centuries later.

Now Americans are under the domination of a different sort of major power — the multinational corporations which profit by selling us fossil fuels. Just as King George III’s government disregarded the needs and wishes of the American colonists, these giant collective entities are indifferent to the common good…and just as the heroes of the revolution fought back against British rule, so too must ordinary citizens resist the incursions of our new corporate rulers. Ordinary citizens — like the patriots who came to Middlebury last Saturday to express their dedicated opposition to the destructive and polluting oil and gas pipelines proposed to cross Vermont.

When most eyes are focused on pop stars and the banalities of television news, these environmental activists seek a world where our energy consumption no longer endangers humanity’s future, while grossly enriching a corrupt few.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 9, Day 19: Just The Word I Was Looking For!

I sure am proud to be from Massachusetts. The Boston Globe:

Some Massachusetts lawmakers want the state to join a growing national movement that is fighting climate change by pressuring institutional investors such as pension funds and university endowments to divest holdings in companies that produce, distribute, and support fossil fuels.

Fossil fuels include oil, natural gas, and coal, which, when burned, produce carbon dioxide, the major culprit in climate change. Earlier this week, the Legislature held its first hearing on a bill that would require the state pension fund to unload over five years some $1.4 billion in investments — about 2.6 percent of the $54.4 billion fund — in oil companies, mining companies, refiners, and similar corporations. An estimated 200 people rallied in support of the bill in front of the State House Tuesday.

If the legislation is approved, Massachusetts would become the first state in the nation to divest its fossil fuel holdings, said state Senator Benjamin B. Downing, a Pittsfield Democrat sponsoring the bill. He argued that divestment makes economic sense given the quickening adoption of wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources.

“At some point, those fossil fuel companies will not be a good investment, and that will have an impact on our pension fund,” Downing said. “We need to transition away.”

This sprang naturally to mind. September 12:

It was in 1831 that Massachusetts’ voice of conscience, William Lloyd Garrison, excoriated public indifference to the evils of slavery, writing, “The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal, and to hasten the resurrection of the dead.” His dedication, and that of countless other abolitionists motivated by a profound sense of justice, helped hasten the end of a crime against humanity.

We now confront another kind of bondage — a servitude to the giant multinational corporations which profit hugely by selling us oil and coal to heat our homes, run our automobiles, and power our infrastructure — but which we now know are damaging our planet’s health in ways which will make our descendants’ lives all but intolerable. The movement to divest from fossil fuels is morally and economically analogous to Garrison’s tenacious campaign against another “peculiar institution” one and a half centuries ago.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 9, Day 10: That’s The Song Of Songs

More on the Energy Exodus heroes, from Cape Cod Online:

HYANNIS – Dr. Turner Bledsoe, 79, said walking 70 miles over the past six days hurt.

“Every step was painful,” said the Hingham resident.

But, he added, “It’s the most important hike of my life.”

Bledsoe was the oldest member of a core group of around 50 hikers who participated in the Energy Exodus, walking from the Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset and arriving in Hyannis Monday.

“The idea of the Energy Exodus march was to show a departure from fossil fuel addiction,” explained Varshini Prakash, a student organizer and staff member of the Better Future Project, a nonprofit supporting grass roots efforts to address climate change.

The march began at the Brayton Point Power Station, which is described on the station’s Website as, “one of New England’s largest fossil-fueled generating facilities.

FSM bless them, every one. No kidding. September 3:

It was two hundred and thirty-eight years ago that a few courageous patriots responded to a midnight call and became an indelible part of our nation’s history. The Minutemen of Middlesex also make a convincing argument as to why it’s a good idea to heed early-warning systems. The world’s climatologists are the Paul Reveres of today, and they’ve been sounding the alarm for far longer than most of us know, in the face of a lazy media and a political establishment that has been co-opted when it hasn’t simply been purchased outright.

Today’s Minutemen, of course, are the ones who recognize the gravity of the crisis and the need for action. People like those in Energy Exodus, who joined a 70-mile walk in the hopes of spurring a genuine response to a genuine emergency.

When America’s eyes are fixed on pop stars and the vacuous talking heads of television news, environmental activists strive towards a world where our consumption of energy no longer endangers humanity’s future. These brave men and women are the true patriots of the age.

Warren Senders


Year 4, Month 9, Day 2: Remember That Stuff We Had Back In The Old Days? That Was Good Stuff, Man.

South Coast Today (MA) talks about these excellent specimens of humanity:

NEW BEDFORD — Eighty people rallied for green jobs and wind energy Thursday as the six-day long Energy Exodus march from Brayton Point Power Station stopped in both New Bedford and Fairhaven on the way to a Hyannis rally for Cape Wind.

“Today we’re celebrating the construction of (South Terminal) behind us here, showing that there are already jobs coming to the SouthCoast because of the wind industry,” said Craig Altemose, executive director of Better Future Project, which is organizing the 66-mile march to build momentum for clean energy.

“This is not some idealistic dream — there are real, good jobs and there’s a lot more where those came.”

With the hurricane barrier on one side, old mill buildings behind and the Fairhaven turbines off in the distance, the crew of marchers stood at South Terminal cheering New Bedford for its move towards green energy.

No sarcasm here. Only admiration. Wish I was out there with ’em. August 29:

Almost two hundred and forty years ago, courageous patriots responded to a midnight call, and their actions are not only an indelible part of our nation’s history, but an eloquent argument for heeding early-warning systems.

Today’s Paul Reveres are the world’s climatologists, who have been sounding the alarm for decades, in the face of a complacent citizenry and a complaisant political establishment. And today’s “Minutemen”? They’re the people who recognize the urgency of the warning, and the need for action, whether it’s “positive” (pressing for new sources of renewable energy instead of carbon-polluting fossil fuels) or “negative” (working to block destructive initiatives like the disastrous Keystone XL pipeline).

In a media environment where the majority of the world’s eyes are focused on the latest pop-tart’s scandal du jour, environmentalists face marginalization, hostility, and ridicule as they strive to make possible a world in which our energy consumption no longer imperils our species’ future. The members of the Energy Exodus march are the true patriots of our time.

Warren Senders


Year 4, Month 7, Day 25: Because A Fire Was In My Head

The Lexington Herald-Leader (KY) notes the work of local activists, who are planting lots of trees:

Advocates of reforesting surface-mined land in Appalachia hope the Obama Administration’s new push to cut carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could boost their efforts.

Trees suck up and store carbon dioxide, after all, and Appalachia has vast areas where trees could be planted.

“These mined lands are a great potential for sequestering carbon,” said Christopher D. Barton, a forest hydrologist at the University of Kentucky who is active in the reforestation effort.

Barton heads a program called Green Forests Work, which focuses on reforesting surface-mined land in Appalachia. People involved in the program will explore whether President Barack Obama’s emphasis on limiting carbon pollution could mean increased money to plant trees, Barton said.

“We’ve been working every angle that we can to get funding,” he said. “I’m hoping this will open some doors — some additional doors.”

In a June 25 news release about Obama’s plan, the White House said the nation’s forests play a critical role in addressing carbon pollution, removing almost 12 percent of the total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions annually.

It’s a part of what must be done — but only a part. July 7:

As the climate crisis intensifies, it’s increasingly clear that we — all of us — need to develop and implement ways to get the carbon we’ve already burned back in the ground rather than in the atmosphere, where it contributes to the greenhouse effect. And it’s pretty obvious that concerted tree-planting efforts are one of the simplest and most effective ways to go about this. But this vital work must be part of a unified approach that also includes drastic reductions in our greenhouse emissions, or the consequences will be too severe for any number of trees to ameliorate.

Those who call emissions cuts “economically damaging” miss the deeper point: there is only one “economy” that matters in the end, and it’s not the Dow Jones Index. Industrialized civilization’s century-long fossil-fuel binge brought us drastically over the limit on our Bank of Earth credit card, and the bill is due.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 6, Day 7: I Knew That Would Happen!

Meet Paul Coyne, a congressional candidate in California. He’s a Republican, hence an ignorant asshole. The Ventura County Reporter:

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara/Ventura, co-sponsored a House resolution suggesting there may be a link between prostitution and climate change, and Paul Coyne, Jr., a 2014 candidate for Capps’ congressional seat, has pounced on her for making such a claim.

“This is over the edge and a little out of touch with reality and the needs of our district right now,” said Coyne. “People are searching for jobs, looking for their next meal. There are higher priorities than this.”

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, introduced the resolution that says climate change can cause drought and reduced agricultural output, which can be harmful for women who have limited socioeconomic resources and “may be vulnerable to situations such as sex work, transactional sex and early marriage that put them at risk for HIV, STIs, unplanned pregnancy and poor reproductive health.”

Because weather patterns are changing, chances for regional conflict increase with climate change, the resolution says. This could lead to a refugee and migration crisis, which also links to prostitution.

Bet you didn’t see that coming. May 24:

One of the commonest phrases heard from conservative politicians is “nobody anticipated.” “Nobody” anticipated the crumbling levees in New Orleans during Katrina, the disastrous consequences of the Iraq invasion, the environmental impacts of oil spills, the widespread infrastructural failures that happen when the funding for public works is pulled, or the horrors of 9/11 (the August 6 PDB notwithstanding). And “nobody” is anticipating the thousands of large and small repercussions of global climate change, such as invasive insect pests, resurgent tropical diseases, agricultural collapses — and profound consequences for women around the world who are struggling in poverty.

“Nobody,” that is, except environmentalists, scientists, and the occasional politician like Lois Capps, who recognizes that an important and essential function of effective government is to analyze and consider the possible repercussions of our laws and policies. By mocking Representative Capps, Paul Coyne shows himself ignorant of the deeper responsibilities of public service.

Warren Senders


Year 4, Month 6, Day 6: Du da du du, du du du-du du-du…

The San Luis-Obispo Tribune notes Jerry Brown’s principled advocacy with an unfortunate term:

Gov. Brown continues climate change crusade

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Gov. Jerry Brown is set to continue his climate change charge, joining scientists releasing a 20-page call to action on environmental problems including pollution, extinctions and population growth.

Brown plans to address Silicon Valley leaders, as well as climate scientists from University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University and NASA, on Thursday morning at a conference at NASA Ames Research Center.

The governor has repeatedly called for changes in public policy to better address the impacts of the changing climate on the world’s economy and environment.

Berkeley professor Anthony Barnosky, a featured speaker, says the earth is now at a tipping point, and what decisions makers do now “will determine whether or not human quality of life declines over the next few decades.”

Sheesh. May 23:

Unlike the theologically-driven military adventures of the Middle Ages, Jerry Brown’s “crusade” against climate change is based on facts and evidence. The scientific consensus on the human causes of global heating and the dangers it poses is overwhelming. Another difference from the medieval attitude that motivated hundreds of years of pointless violence is that scientific method actively seeks disproof — which means that even in an “overwhelming consensus” there is always room for doubt.

But this fact, which is a feature of science’s epistemology, should not be used as an excuse for inaction. Climatologists are the closest we’ve got to “planetary physicians,” and their advice to us right now is less scientific than practical: don’t wait for the chimera of absolute proof before taking action to fight the accelerating greenhouse effect. When 97 out of 100 oncologists diagnose malignancy, you don’t need the remaining three to agree before starting therapy.

Warren Senders