Earth at Night 2001, NASA
The Climate Killers: Meet the 17 polluters and deniers who are derailing efforts to curb global warming ... Tim Dickinson, The Climate Killers, Rolling Stone, 1-6-10
A new guerrilla green operation has begun. Polluter Watch, the brainchild of the advocacy group Greenpeace, is taking direct aim at major corporations who emit greenhouse gases and other pollutants. They're not just going after the companies themselves, but their hired guns and allies. Juliet Eilperin, Climategate: East Anglia aftermath, and beyond, Post Carbon, 1-8-10
Time is of the essence. While the world dawdles, green house gases are building up in the atmosphere, and the likelihood that the world will meet even the agreed-upon target of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius is diminishing. We have given the Kyoto approach, based on emission rights, more than a fair chance. Given the fundamental problems underlying it, Copenhagen’s failure should not be a surprise. At the very least, it is worth giving the alternative a chance. Joseph Stiglitz, Capital Times, 1-8-10
[Worldwatch president Christopher Flavin] admits consumerism is not the only factor driving environmental degradation but says it is one of the key root causes on which other factors are built – and, as a cultural framework, it is expanding. "In India and China, for instance, the consumer culture of the U.S. and Western Europe is not only being replicated but being replicated on a much vaster scale," Flavin says. Matthew Berger, Seeking a Cultural Revolution: From Consumerism to Sustainability, Inter Press Service, 1-13-10
Haiti & the Doomsday Clock Offer Some Post-Copenhagen Context: Time to Come On Hard & Fast in the Planetary Climate Crisis
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has moved the Doomsday Clock back from five to six minutes to midnight.
We are poised to bend the arc of history toward a world free of nuclear weapons. For the first time since atomic bombs were dropped in 1945, leaders of nuclear weapons states are cooperating to vastly reduce their arsenals and secure all nuclear bomb-making material. And for the first time ever, industrialized and developing countries alike are pledging to limit climate-changing gas emissions that could render our planet nearly uninhabitable. These unprecedented steps are signs of a growing political will to tackle the two gravest threats to civilization--the terror of nuclear weapons and runaway climate change. It is Six Minutes to Midnight, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, 1-14-10
Surprised? Yes, there is an oh so fragile reed of hope. And like a good parent, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists is trying to encourage humanity to cultivate that oh so fragile reed of hope. (You can be certain that if the USA had chosen madness over reason in the 2008 elections, the clock would not have moved back.)
Do not misinterpret this moment. From where we are now, there is great potential for the hands of the clock to swing one way or the other -- rapidly. Think of each minute on the clock as 15 years; and ponder this, we are only six minutes from midnight. We have been moving inexorably toward the end; now for the first time, we have regained one minute, and that means there is an opportunity to turn it all around.
Meanwhile, this nation's attention (limited as it is) is focused elsewhere.
The suffering of Haiti was already almost beyond comprehension -- before the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that just devastated the devastated.
Beyond what this catastrophe means to the Haitians (again, almost beyond comprehension), there are two critical lessons for the rest of us. One, for me, is best articulated in a maxim that I stress in risk and intelligence briefings: "Anywhere, anytime." The other is also a maxim of warning, "Ignore the scientists at your own peril."
Five scientists presented a paper during the 18th Caribbean Geological Conference in March 2008 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, stating that a fault zone on the south side of the island posed "a major seismic hazard." Tuesday's potentially disastrous 7.0 earthquake occurred in Haiti along the same fault line, known as the Enriquillo-Plaintain Garden fault zone. Brandon Griggs, CNN, 1-13-10
In regard to the Climate Crisis, a threat on the planetary scale, the scientists are being ignored again; not only by those who chose to live in denial, whether for profit or pathology, but even by those political leaders who accept the reality, but cannot face responsibility for the drastic actions that must be taken.
So where does the human race stand in the aftermath of the collective failure of the planet's political leadership in Copenhagen?
There isn't much time left. Indeed, many experts, off the record, confess that they believe it is already too late. Well, it is certainly "too late" to avoid climate change; the destructive process is already well underway. But it is still not "too late" to mitigate the worst of what could befall us; although it is close and the window is closing very rapidly, and the grim political and geopolitical realities make even significant mitigation increasingly unlikely. Nor is it "too late" to dedicate ourselves to adaptation; and candidly speaking, adaptation may be the most meaningful way left to us to impact coming events.
Therefore, if you understand the Climate Crisis for what it is, i.e., the human race's most profound challenge and as well as its greatest opportunity, I urge you to come on hard and fast in the coming weeks and months.
There are three fronts in this all-consuming struggle, as a citizen, as an individual and as an incarnated spirit. Each of these fronts calls on us in different ways.
As citizens, it is vital to ratchet up our own efforts to raise consciousness and enlighten those so terribly disinformed by the US mainstream news media, the political establishment, and the corporate interests that control them both.
As individuals, it is vital to prepare ourselves and our loved ones as best we can; this means thinking through what is possible, i.e., crisis management for you and your circle, including, in particular, mobility (e.g., how to work and live on the move), and food and water security (e.g, what you can grow, what you can stock, etc.) for you and your circle. Do you understand the potential for extreme weather in your region? Are you in drought country or ice age country? Are you in mega-wildfire country or hurricane country? Do you understand how the coming population displacements will impact you? Will you likely be among the displaced or among those engulfed by the displaced? You cannot know anything for certain, but you can use common sense, and intuition, and develop your own contingencies.
And as an incarnated spirit, it is vital to deepen your relationship with the intimate infinite, whatever name you chose to give it; it is a journey best undertaken by quieting the mind and opening the heart, however you choose to accomplish those effects. This intimate infinite is that which reaches from the still small voice within you to the tips of the highest leaves in the rain forest canopies, and back again. It is, as the Diamond Sutra promises, "all together everywhere."
I will address all of three of these fronts in the weeks and months ahead, but for now let me focus on what each of us as citizens should know.
First, it is time to come on fast and hard -- against those who are willfully misleading and disinforming the public. It is time to name names, and press for consequences (political, societal, economic) for those who stand in the way of the rescue of the humanity and other species threatened by the Climate Crisis.
A new guerrilla green operation has begun. PolluterWatch, the brainchild of the advocacy group Greenpeace, is taking direct aim at major corporations who emit greenhouse gases and other pollutants. They're not just going after the companies themselves, but their hired guns and allies. (In the words of Greenpeace U.S. research director Kert Davies, those would be "their hired propagandists and influence peddlers.")... "If successful, we will reveal how the corrupting influence of polluter lobbyists and the politicians they have in their pockets continues to handcuff the US government on climate and energy policy," he said. "The legacy of denial and delay caused by these actors will never be undone, but we can weaken their grip moving forward." Juliet Eilperin, Climategate: East Anglia aftermath, and beyond, Post Carbon, 1-8-10
Familiarize yourself with Rolling Stone's compelling list of 17 prominent "Climate Killers," and popularize these back stories.'
Meet the 17 polluters and deniers who are derailing efforts to curb global warming
The Profiteer: Warren Buffett, CEO, Berskhire Hathaway
The Dinsinformer: Rupert Murdoch, CEO, News Corp.
The Fake Protestor: Jack Gerard, President, American Petroleum
Burning Man: Rex Tillerson, CEO, ExxonMobil
The Dirty Democrat: Sen. Mary Landrieu, Democrat, Louisiana
The Drudge of Denial: Marc Morano, Founder, Climate Depot
God's Denier; Sen. James Inhofe, Republican, Oklahoma
The Power Player: David Ratcliffe, CEO, Southern Company
The Arm Twister: Dick Gephardt, CEO, Gephardt Group
The Pundit: George Will, Commentator, ABC
The Know Nothing: Tom Donohue, President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
The Coal Baron: Don Blankenship, CEO, Massey Energy
The Hack Scientist: Fred Singer, Retired physicist, University of Virginia
The Flip Flopper: Sen. John McCain, Republican, Arizona
The Inquisitor: Rep. Joe Barton, Republican, Texas
The Tea Partiers: Charles and David Koch, CEO and Executive Vice President, Koch Industries Tim Dickinson, The Climate Killers, Rolling Stone, 1-6-10
Second, as Nobel Prize winning economist Joe Stiglitz suggests, it is time to consider the only viable alternative to the cap and trade path that led to failure in Copenhagen.
Even the commitment of the accord to provide amounts approaching $30 billion for the period 2010-12 for adaptation and mitigation appears paltry next to the hundreds of billions of dollars that have been doled out to the banks in the bailouts of 2008-09. If we can afford that much to save banks, we can afford something more to save the planet ...
Perhaps it is time to try another approach: a commitment by each country to raise the price of emissions (whether through a carbon tax or emissions caps) to an agreed level, say, $80 per ton. Countries could use the revenues as an alternative to other taxes -- it makes much more sense to tax bad things than good things ...
We have seen that goodwill alone can get us only so far. We must now conjoin self-interest with good intentions, especially because leaders in some countries (particularly the United States) seem afraid of competition from emerging markets even without any advantage they might receive from not having to pay for carbon emissions. A system of border taxes -- imposed on imports from countries where firms do not have to pay appropriately for carbon emissions -- would level the playing field and provide economic and political incentives for countries to adopt a carbon tax or emission caps. That, in turn, would provide economic incentives for firms to reduce their emissions. Joseph Stiglitz, Capital Times, 1-8-10
Third, each of us has the opportunity to confront the culture of consumerism in our own way, and to live as an example of the alternative culture of sustainability.
The last 50 years have seen an unprecedented and unsustainable spike in consumption, driven by a culture of consumerism that has emerged over that period, says a report released Tuesday by the Worldwatch Institute ... "State of the World 2010", subtitled "Transforming Cultures: From Consumerism to Sustainability", tries to chart a path away from what Worldwatch president Christopher Flavin calls "the consumer culture that has taken hold probably first in the U.S. and now in country after country over the past century, so that we can now talk about a global consumerist culture that has become a powerful force around the world." ... Flavin admits consumerism is not the only factor driving environmental degradation but says it is one of the key root causes on which other factors are built – and, as a cultural framework, it is expanding. "In India and China, for instance, the consumer culture of the U.S. and Western Europe is not only being replicated but being replicated on a much vaster scale," Flavin says. Matthew Berger, Seeking a Cultural Revolution: From Consumerism to Sustainability, Inter Press Service, 1-13-10
For the Words of Power Climate Crisis Updates Archive, click here.
Have you met Al Gore at the Wall yet?
I encourage you to find out why 350 is the most important number in your life and the lives of everyone you love: go to 350.org or Google "Bill McKibben" for the answer.
True North on the Pathless Path: Toward 21st Century Spirituality is available from Amazon.com
Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available from Lulu.com.
Al Gore, Joseph Stiglitz, PolluterWatch, Climate Crisis, Worldwatch Institute, 350