Friday, January 11, 2008

Climate Crisis Update: Encouraging News from An Unexpected Source, & 50 People to Hold in Your Hearts & Minds

Image: Variations of the Earth's surface temperature: year 1000 to year 2100, IPCC

Climate Crisis Update 1-11-07: Encouraging News from An Unexpected Source, & 50 People to Hold in Your Hearts & Minds

By Richard Power

I have been researching, writing and speaking out about global warming and climate change for a decade. There has been very little good news to report.

But here is some encouraging news from an unexpected source -- the Republican voters of South Carolina:

According to a January 2007 poll conducted for the group Environmental Defense, 81 percent of South Carolina’s Republican voters believe the United States should reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
South Carolina’s Republican Governor Mark Sanford has commissioned a committee to create a climate action plan for the state. During the last legislative session, 90 House and 24 Senate members — split evenly between Republicans and Democrats — signed an open letter calling for presidential leadership on climate change.
Furthermore, in November, 108 of South Carolina’s mayors “signed a separate letter also calling on presidential candidates to speak out on climate change.
Think Progress, 1-10-08

Furthermore, in the Telegraph/UK, Adam Markham postulates that the climate change issue, particularly among independent voters, may have led to the surprising comeback victory of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in the New Hampshire primary:

[McCain is] a pro-Iraq war Republican whose campaign was all but written off six months ago, but alone among the Republicans he has a passion for the climate issue and a plan to address it.
This gave him huge appeal to the Independents that he needed to pull-off a win in this state.
Independents can vote in either the Democratic or Republican primary in New Hampshire - one of the few states where they can, which is why the primary is so important, as it helps show which candidates can bring new support to a party. Polling last November showed that 84 per cent of independents think climate change is a serious issue.
Telegraph/UK, 1-9-08

Yes, despite the denial exhibited in the US mainstream news media and the political establishment, the populace understands the threat and wants something meaningful done about it.

This data bodes well not only for the utter necessity of getting US commitment to a global accord in 2009, but also for the possibility of restoring true bi-partisan consensus on vital national security issues.

Of course, the data also underscores how disconnected much of the mainstream news media and political establishment really are -- both from reality and the body politic that they are supposed to serve.

Leadership at all levels of society, business and government is what is desperately needed, and another encouraging story -- this one from John Vidal in the Guardian/UK -- highlights the work of fifty such leaders:

To come up with a list of the 50 people most able to prevent the continuing destruction of the planet, we consulted key people in the global environment debate. Our panel included scientists - former World Bank chief scientist and now the British government's scientific adviser on climate change, Bob Watson, Indian physicist and ecologist Vandana Shiva, Kenyan biologist and Nobel prize-winner Wangari Maathai; activists - Guardian columnist George Monbiot and head of Greenpeace International Gerd Leipold; politicians - Green party co-leader and MEP Caroline Lucas, and London mayor Ken Livingstone; sustainable development commissioner for the UK government Jonathon Porritt and novelist Philip Pullman.
Then the Guardian's science, environment and economics correspondents met to add their own nominations and establish a final 50. Great names were argued over, and unknown ones surfaced. Should Al Gore be on the list? He may have put climate change on the rich countries' agenda, but some felt his solution of trading emissions is not enough and no more than what all major businesses and western governments are now saying. But in the end he squeaked through.
There was also debate over Leonardo DiCaprio. It would be easy to sniff at someone who seemed to have merely pledged to forgo private jets and made a couple of films about the environment, but we felt the Hollywood superstar who has grabbed the green agenda had to be included because of the worldwide influence he is expected to have. Thanks to his massive celebrity status DiCaprio could be a crucial figure in persuading and leading the next generation.
Some people made it to the final 50 not just because of their work but because - like the man who has found a simple way to save energy in a refrigerator, or the boy who collects impressive amounts of money for the protection of tigers - they represented a significant grassroots technological or social movement. And some got on the list because they were considered the driving forces behind the decision-makers. One church leader, for example, made it largely because the world's religions have huge investments and are shifting the political landscape in the US and Europe.
The final list includes an Indian peasant farmer, the world's leading geneticist, German and Chinese politicians, a novelist, a film director, a civil engineer, a seed collector and a scientist who has persuaded an African president to make a tenth of his country a national park. There are 19 nationalities represented. Nearly one in five of those listed comes from the US, and one in three is from a developing country, suggesting that grassroots resourcefulness will be as important as money and technology in the future. Nearly one in three of the people chosen has a scientific background, even if not all practice what they studied. It's not a definitive list and there are no rankings, but these 50 names give a sense of the vast well of people who represent the stirrings of a remarkable scientific and social revolution, and give us hope as we enter 2008.
Click here to read the list, Guardian/UK, 1-7-08

For the Words of Power Climate Crisis Updates Archive, click here.

Click here for access to great promotional tools available on The Eleventh Hour action page.

To sign the Live Earth Pledge, click here.

For analysis of the US mainstream news media's failure to treat global warming and climate change with accuracy or appropriae urgency, click here for Media Matters' compilation of "Myths and Falsehoods about Global Warming".

Want to participate in the effort to mitigate the impact of global warming? Download "Ten Things You Can Do"

Want to join hundreds of thousands of people on the Stop Global Warming Virtual March, and become part of the movement to demand our leaders freeze and reduce carbon dioxide emissions now? Click here.

Center for American Progress Action Fund's Mic Check Radio has released a witty and compelling compilation on the Top 100 Effects of Global Warming, organized into sections like "Global Warming Wrecks All the Fun" (e.g., "Goodbye to Pinot Noir," "Goodbye to Baseball," "Goodbye to Salmon Dinners," "Goodbye to Ski Vacations," etc.), "Global Warming Kills the Animals" (e.g., "Death March of the Penguins," "Dying Grey Whales," "Farwell to Frogs," etc.) and yes, "Global Warming Threatens Our National Security" (e.g., "Famine," "Drought," "Large-Scale Migrations," "The World's Checkbook," etc.) I urge you to utilize Top 100 Effects of Global Warming in your dialogues with friends, family and colleagues.

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