Pages tagged "global warming"

APRIL Makes A Mockery Of Its Own "Sustainable" Forest Policy


Almost six months after the release of its Sustainable Forest Management Policy, Asia Pacific Resources International Ltd (APRIL)—the second-largest Indonesian pulp & paper company—continues business-as-usual rainforest destruction, betraying the spirit and substance of its policy.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported in May that APRIL-owned PT RAPP cleared massive swaths of carbon-rich peatlands on Pulau Padang, an island off the Sumatran coast that APRIL promised to help restore. Members of island community Desa Bagan Melibur have called on APRIL to terminate operations on their community land, and Desa Bagan Melibur’s May 17 protest is the most recent clash in a stark legacy of land disputes between APRIL and Padang’s thirteen villages since 2009.

Pulau Padang’s peatlands store millions of tons of carbon and are home to endangered species and communities that depend on these forests for their livelihoods. You could also say the island itself is endangered: decaying peat causes the low-lying island to subside, and scientists warn that if no action is taken, Padang may very well be under sea level and useless for any type of cultivation by 2050.

APRIL’s forest policy itself is rife with loopholes and allows APRIL to continue slashing natural forests in its concessions through December and source rainforest fiber until 2020. Yet the company’s refusal to uphold even its weak policy commitments brings APRIL’s intentions entirely into doubt. In addition to the Pulau Padang case, earlier this year, APRIL suppliers were caught clearing natural forests on legally protected peat land in Borneo and high conservation value forest on peat land in Riau. In the latter case, not only were internationally protected ramin trees cut down, but APRIL supplier PT Triomas allegedly attempted to hide the evidence by burying the contraband logs.

There is mounting recognition that APRIL’s policy and actions are insufficient and not credible. Last Friday, RAN and an international collation of allies co-authored a letter highlighting the severe shortcomings in APRIL’s policies, such as the lack of a moratorium on natural forest and peat land conversion, unclear commitments on resolving social conflicts, and the policy’s narrow scope, which does not extend to cover APRIL’s sister companies within owner Sukanto Tanoto’s rogue cartel of companies, such as Toba Pulp Lestari, Sateri, and Asian Agri. The letter also points to the inadequacy and questionable credibility of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) APRIL set up to help develop, implement, and monitor the forest policy in a transparent and independent manner.

APRIL’s new policy and the SAC risk being nothing but a parade of environmental lip service built on teetering scaffolds of environmental destruction, social conflict, and corruption. Customers and financiers must cut ties with APRIL and other companies owned by Sukanto Tanoto and pressure APRIL to end rainforest clearing and respect community rights.

TAKE ACTION: Tell APRIL owner Sukanto Tanoto to stop pulping Pulau Padang’s rainforests.

EPA Announces Rules to Limit Carbon Pollution: RAN Responds

This morning, Gina McCarthy, head of the EPA, announced new carbon pollution standards for power plants, the centerpiece of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.

We welcome the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to limit carbon pollution from power plants.

Power plants are the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. Setting the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution is an essential and long overdue step to address global warming.

Communities across the nation are already seeing and feeling the impacts of global warming, from increased health risks like asthma attacks and lung disease, to devastating extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy and wildfires across the American West. The science is clear: inaction will only increase these deadly and costly threats.

Coal FumesThis is exactly why communities from Chicago to North Carolina, from New England to New Mexico, are fighting to shut down the polluting power plants in their neighborhoods.

To be clear, the proposed carbon pollution standard is just one step. To keep our climate stable, we must rapidly shift our energy production away from the highest-polluting fossil fuels and accelerate our transition to truly clean, renewable energy generation.

The proposed rule is not yet enough to slow global warming and not yet enough to inspire the world to make the necessary deep cuts in climate pollution. That is why we will be working hard the next year to include much deeper cuts in the final rule.

We stand with the majority of Americans who want to see strong action from the government to address global warming and set limits on carbon pollution from power plants.

RAN fights climate change by taking fast, impactful action against dirty energy. Join us by becoming a Dirty Energy Rapid Responder!

Sorting Global Warming Fact from Fiction

> Original story at Center for American Progress.
Cattle graze in front of wind mills of the Spanish utility Endesa in the Eolico Park, Spain. (SOURCE: AP/Javier Barbancho) Cattle graze in front of wind mills of the Spanish utility Endesa in the Eolico Park, Spain. SOURCE: AP/Javier Barbancho. By Vanessa Cárdenas | May 20, 2009
Léalo en español When so-called experts with little credibility and ties to the energy industry come out against renewable energy investments, you would think we would take their advice with a grain of salt. Yet that’s not the case with media pundits, elected officials, and others who—egged on by the conservative Heritage Foundation—have latched on to a dubious study from Spain to scare lawmakers and the public into thinking that developing clean-energy technologies raises prices and costs jobs. Spain is a global leader in renewable energy, but this study claimed that government subsidies for renewable energy projects such as windmills and solar panels cost the Spanish economy $8 billion and eliminate 2.2 jobs for every “green” job created. Nothing could be further from the truth. The study, authored by the relatively unknown Gabriel Caldaza, estimates that renewable projects in Spain created only 50,000 jobs, yet U.N. estimates show those projects actually created 188,000 jobs. Caldaza also claims that solar energy projects cost Spain 15,000 additional jobs last year. Yet Caldaza fails to disclose that these job losses in Spain were actually caused by the worldwide economic crisis, not government funding for clean-energy projects. In reality, government estimates show that the clean energy sector in Spain grew by 500 percent in the last three years, and it will likely create 270,000 more jobs by 2020. Caldaza also inaccurately forecasts impending economic doom in the United States if the current administration keeps its sights set on renewable energy development. Caldaza asserts, without offering any analysis of the U.S. economic situation, that if the Obama administration continues to subsidize renewable energy projects, “the U.S. could lose 6.6 million to 11 million jobs while it creates three million largely temporary ëgreen jobs.’” These dire projections have made Caldaza the darling of the American extreme right wing. Never mind that leading Spanish experts from Fundación Ideas para el Progreso in a letter to Congress decrying Caldaza’s study characterized his research as “not reliable or credible,” and further described the research institute he’s affiliated with as having “clear links to the energy industry.” Investing in clean and renewable energy is not only beneficial to the environment and our health; it actually reduces household energy bills while creating jobs. A 2008 Center for American Progress study found that investing $100 billion over two years in green energy would generate 2 million jobs, creating four times more jobs than if the same amount were spent in the oil sector. And these jobs would be concentrated in manufacturing and construction—two of the worst affected sectors by the recession. Investing in green jobs could therefore act as an economic stimulus and help low skill workers such as construction workers, roofers, and assemblers. Clean-energy companies have already over the last year invested in American manufacturing facilities and created needed employment in the United States. According to the American Wind Energy Association, or AWEA, the wind energy industry currently employs 85,000 people and generated over 35,000 jobs in 2008. Yet the AWEA warned in a letter to Congress that the United States could lose its wind energy industry—and the billions in investments and thousands of jobs that come with it—to other countries unless it adopts improved renewable energy standards. These standards, which would require at least 25 percent of electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2025, are currently being debated by Congress and have already been adopted by states such as Colorado and New Mexico. And what about prices? The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that American consumers will save $95.5 billion from lower energy costs by 2030 if the government adopts the national renewable electricity standard currently being debated in Congress. A national renewable electricity standard, a key piece of this legislation proposed by Representatives Waxman and Markey, would save households and businesses in every state billions of dollars in electricity and natural gas bills. This would correspond to more than $5 billion in savings each for California, Texas, and New York. The bottom line is that it is in our best interest to make a serious investment in clean and renewable energy and follow Spain’s lead. To get there, we will have to focus on the facts and not on such tall tales. For more information, see:
To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact: For print and radio, John Neurohr, Deputy Press Secretary 202.481.8182 or For TV, Andrea Purse, Deputy Director of Media Strategy 202.446.8429 or For web, Erin Lindsay, Online Marketing Manager 202.741.6397 or

Climate Justice and Coal’s Funeral Procession

About a month or so after the Capitol Climate action I wrote a movement strategy piece to reflect on its lessons. It is the cover story for the May issue of Z Magazine and pasted below. This magazine came out on the day we heard from the Administration that they have begun to implement their promise to phase coal out of the Capitol Power Plant. Climate Justice and Coal’s Funeral Procession Learning from the Capitol Climate Action The snow was 4.5 inches deep and it was 23 degrees out when our action started at 1pm. We could already hear the Fox News commentators making the usual absurd statements: “A global warming protest in the snow?! Maybe this climate change stuff isn’t real after all, ha ha ha.” But by the end of the day, even Fox News gave positive coverage to the largest protest in history demanding solutions to the climate crisis. On March 2nd, around 4,000 people came to the Capitol Power Plant in Washington DC, over 2,000 of whom risked arrest through civil disobedience. The vast majority had never been to a demonstration of any kind before, let alone engaged in non-violent direct action. People from communities most directly impacted by coal’s lifecycle -- from Navajo reservations in the Southwest to Appalachian towns in the Southeast -- led the march. With vibrant multicolored flags depicting windmills, people planting gardens, waves crashing, and captions like “community,” “security,” “change” and “power,” we sat-in to blockade five entrances to the power plant that literally fuels Congress. We called the whole thing the “Capitol Climate Action” (CCA). The belching smoke stacks just two blocks from the Capitol building made a fitting target for a national flashpoint. They symbolize the stranglehold that the dirty fossil fuel industry – and coal industry in particular – has on our government, economy, and future. Burning coal is the single biggest contributor to global warming. We will not be able to solve the climate crisis or build a clean energy economy without breaking its hold. Notable people of all kinds joined our demonstration, legitimizing the tactic of civil disobedience for a mainstream audience. From the scientific community, Dr. James Hansen (the world’s foremost climatologist) and Gus Speth (former environment advisor to Jimmy Carter) risked arrest. Writers like Wendell Berry joined them. Environmental advocates like Dr. Vandana Shiva and Bill McKibben, religious leaders of all stripes, DC’s Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, and celebrities such as Daryl Hannah participated. At the end of the day it was clear that the police had been overwhelmed by our numbers and were not going to arrest anyone unless we escalated to felony charges, which we were unwilling to do (though the image of Dr. Hansen scaling a fence is pretty romantic). Instead, we declared victory after shutting the plant down for the afternoon. Thousands of us exited on our own terms and committed to use the experience to build our local movements stronger in what has become a defining year for the climate. We cannot win the battle on climate change without immediate, binding, science-based federal legislation. 2009 is crucial, and not just because of the terrifying tipping points that scientists describe. It’s our year because the political window to pass this legislation is growing increasingly urgent as we march toward the United Nations climate talks in Copenhagen this December. In the U.S., the fossil fuel industry employs over 2,340 corporate lobbyists and is throwing over $90 million at pushing false solutions (nuclear, “clean” coal, industrial agrofuels, and others) that devastate communities. In response, people’s movements need to create political space for progressives in office to write bolder policy (and push them do to so) in the short and mid-term. For the long-term, we need to continue to build community-based solutions, like wind farms, urban gardens, and other projects that localize our economies. This calls for an aligned “inside / outside” movement strategy that honors the different roles that a broad spectrum of organizations, networks, and activists must take. CCA sought to anchor an outside action-arm of this spectrum. The role of such an anchor is to help shift the center of political conversation in the U.S. further to the left. This must happen within the context of building the broad-based progressive majoritarian coalition currently coalescing in the United States, offering a holistic narrative and program of solutions to intersecting crises (ecological, economic, political etc). The mistakes and successes of CCA are instructive for building a movement that is both broad-based and politically savvy, as well as bold in demanding genuine solutions. Evaluations of actions like CCA must always be measured against this objective. Context The pace of direct actions against coal has sharply increased since 2004. These campaigns have been organized and carried out by a polycentric global network of student organizers, “frontline” communities (those most directly affected by injustice), radical environmentalists, and traditional non-profits. In the United States, communities have been using non-violent direct action to confront coal at all stages of its lifecycle (finance, extraction, “cleaning” and transport, burning, and energy consumption). This trajectory began gaining momentum on November 10, 2004 with a blockade of Maryland’s Dickerson Power Plant, grew to three major direct actions in 2005, two more in 2006, six in 2007, shot up to 18 actions in 2008, and 15 actions within the first two and a half months of 2009 alone. Similar to the Anti-Nuclear movement of the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Anti-Coal movement has targeted specific mines and plants while challenging the overall legitimacy of fossil-fuel-based economies. We organized the Capitol Climate Action because we saw an opening to connect these struggles more publicly, help build momentum around them, and “supercharge” the energy to keep the exponential increase rising. This struggle has transcended single-issue organizing. The varied efforts to stop coal have brought diverse stakeholders together. Stemming from the people of color, working class, and women-led Environmental Justice movement, Climate Justice has become a political banner for the climate crisis’ intersecting racial justice, economic equity, community health, and environmental quality issues, of which elements of “no coal struggles” are a part. It is useful to think of campaigns against coal as one strand of a robust frontline-led Climate Justice movement. At CCA, marginalized communities impacted by mountain-top removal mining in Appalachia mobilized their bases to travel to DC. Indigenous communities resisting strip mining and resource theft from the Southwest United States and from Canada joined them. Folks suffering from asthma and pollution caused by coal-burning plants in the inner city also played a role, and were joined and supported by thousands of other folks (primarily white youth and students, but also religious congregations, families, teachers, and others) new to this movement. Organizers from four national/regional non-profit organizations (Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and the Ruckus Society) comprised the CCA organizing core. These were not community-based organizations, but rather sought to act in solidarity with frontline groups. CCA organizers consulted such communities throughout the build-up, and we invited these groups to lead the march and become spokespeople for the action. CCA Goals and Outcomes We had three “big picture” goals with the Capitol Climate Action: 1) Change the national conversation on climate. We wanted to get sympathetic mainstream media coverage, with a climate justice framework that highlighted coal as a driver of global warming. Within a single media cycle, we had positive pieces in the Associated Press (AP), TIME Magazine, CNN, USA Today, New York Times blogs, Democracy Now!, The Nation, and a host of others. The action generated over 700 media stories. We wanted the message to be specific enough to be impactful (no more coal!), but also solution-oriented and visionary. Great care was taken to make sure the media reflected concerns ranging from public health to economic sustainability, weaving them together to make a political statement that was quite radical. While media outlets ignored the specifics around “2009 climate policy”, the general receptiveness of media to our broader message reflects an opportunity to continue to build and shape a new progressive narrative around climate and the economy. 2) Press the new administration and Congress for bolder climate policy in 2009. This “mid-term” goal is difficult to evaluate just a month after the action, but we are already seeing indications of some success. Three days before our action, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that the Capitol Power Plant would be “greened” by switching from coal to natural gas. Our action objectives went well beyond this specific plant, and natural gas is certainly not the solution (it’s an industry-backed false solution), but it’s a meaningful step forward that was clearly the direct result of the threat of protest. While Pelosi’s move seemed aimed at taking the wind out of our sails, it had the opposite effect, publicly validating the power and efficacy of grassroots popular pressure. It demonstrated that people-power can open the political window we have with a new Congress and administration…and that we need to push harder. We timed our action within the “first 100 days” of the new administration to communicate that regular people are offering leadership and not waiting around to have change legislated for them. More specifically, CCA coincided with the largest lobby day on climate in history. Thousands of young people who attended the Power Shift 09 youth summit on the climate crisis (occurring that same weekend) demanded clean energy policy inside Congress. Various reasons prevented us from working explicitly with the Power Shift conference to have a publicly unified approach, which was a missed opportunity to integrate strategies and do thorough political education with participants about the value of outside friction creating inside momentum. 3) Build the climate justice movement and legitimize non-violent direct action and civil disobedience. We believe that we will solve the intersecting crises of our time through a mass movement of millions. As such we must to be relevant to, and help build our “anchor” as part of, our country’s progressive majority. We therefore did not focus on mobilizing seasoned activists. We primarily engaged “passive allies” – people who care about the issue but have not yet taken action. We wanted CCA to be a vehicle through which new people had a transformational first experience and joined the movement. The breadth of endorsing organizations is one indicator of success. More than 100 groups publicly endorsed the action, ranging from public health organizations, religious groups, and clean-energy businesses, to grassroots environmental networks, labor groups, and racial justice organizations. These groups helped mobilize a base of mostly first-time activists, (many of whom also came from Power Shift) who participated in a build-up that trained more than 2,000 people in civil disobedience, growing the capacity of our movement. We also measure success by how well this action served to “supercharge” the movement against coal across the country. Three days after the CCA, there was another civil disobedience action at Coal River Mountain in West Virginia. Six days later there was a mass-action in Belgium blockading EU Finance Ministers, with over 350 arrests, citing CCA as a big inspiration for their recruitment. On March 14, there was an action in Knoxville protesting the Tennessee Valley Authority around the recent coal ash sludge spill. The Same day, 80 activists inspired by CCA marched in Palm Springs, CA as part of the Power Past Coal campaign. Three CCA inspired actions happened that week in Massachusetts. Decentralized “Fossil Fools Day” actions targeting coal happened across the continent on April 1. On April 20, there is a mass-action called the “Cliffside Climate Action” in North Carolina to stop Duke Energy’s proposed coal plant. Manufacturing Victory? Arrest and Escalation. CCA navigated new challenges: we wanted to be good organizers and “meet people where they were at” – which meant “baby steps” for brand new folks. After CCA, some of the more seasoned activists critiqued that we did too much controlled hand-holding of new activists and should have escalated further. Photo by Elizabeth Lane We likely could not have escalated this action without some incurring felony charges and potentially endangering others unprepared for it. While escalating to achieve some arrests may have attracted more media attention, it is likely it would have been lower quality. Such coverage would likely focus on a handful of arrests rather than 4,000+ courageous people braving the freezing cold in an unpermitted march and illegal action. Regardless, participant expectations lost alignment at the exit: depending on one’s perception of action goals, this move was either strategic, or a fabricated victory declaration. A “decision dilemma” is a direct action term that refers to a certain kind of escalation. It means that we create a situation, through non-violent action, where the target is forced to either negotiate with the activists, or react with force (including arrests). Mistake number one was that CCA lacked a real decision dilemma from the beginning, putting us in a difficult spot on the day-of. The lack of demands around this specific plant (and defaulting to national policy-related demands being advanced by the students lobbying that day) undercut the possibility for one. There was no specific response we were demanding on that day, other than the prevention of movement in and out of the plant. In freezing weather and police who were determined to wait us out, we had no tricks up our sleeve. We made the right decision for our circumstance, though questions about whether we could (or should) have shaped the action differently beforehand are valid. Tactical circumstances (blizzards and all) aside, escalation must be in service of larger movement strategy – would pushing harder have been a service to the goal of bringing along the general public and pulling the conversation further left? Perhaps. There are two kinds of direct action: “instrumental” and “expressive.” Expressive actions communicate an idea. They are like a big exclamation point. They help shape popular discourse by influencing public debate. In these kinds of actions, arrests can help raise a profile, attract attention, and can give activists a moral higher ground. They can also, however, marginalize change-agents and distract from core messages, instead focusing on the tactic rather than the issue. Context is important. Instrumental actions have an immediate concrete goal, directly stopping something from happening (for example, blockading a port deploying weapons to Iraq). In such actions, arrests are not the goal, but often an unfortunate byproduct. As friends have humorously noted, in any struggle throughout history, getting captured is usually seen as a bad thing. The Capitol Climate Action was a mix of both of these things, leading to differences in perspective among participants about the role of arrests, and a lack of clarity about the utility of focusing on this specific plant, versus the stated symbolic action objectives. This action was an opportunity for us to flex our muscle; it served as a great “gateway,” though it didn’t fully test our limits. Ninjas playing Chess While there were over 100 organizations endorsing CCA, the core organizing was convened by four non-profits. The resources and time from these groups helped this action be detail-oriented and well coordinated. The front-line community groups we consulted said they did not have the capacity to help in the organizing, but requested input on the message as well as clear roles up-front in the action itself. Tactical decisions were made on-the-ground by a group of folks prioritizing safety of the group, empowering participants, and getting wide media coverage. Toward that end, we encouraged participants to form affinity groups (small groups of people who support one another). Unlike mass-actions of the Global Justice movement era, these affinity groups did not have decision-making power during the action itself. This organizational model was appropriate for the goals of this particular action, though there is still a crucial role for mass-actions that are rooted in street-level democracy and horizontal decision-making. As a symbolic action, CCA sought to stoke the wildfire of local instrumental actions across the country against the coal industry. Such instrumental actions must be community-led and part of ongoing strategic campaigns. If we hope to have a sophisticated action-arm of a broader progressive coalition we must be precise about the roles of different organizing models as well as the roles of various organizations within them: “insider” non-profits who have a seat at the government table, direct-action-oriented non-profits, radical grassroots networks, community-based organizations, frontline communities, progressive politicians and green business.
Those of us who play the outside game must increasingly learn to be like ninjas – using exactly as much force as required to reach our objectives, but not more. We must be surgical in our interventions and have a strategic plan for how it helps shape the inside game. As such, movement strategy looks a lot more like a game of chess than one of checkers. Checkers are black and white (or black and red, as it were), and lend themselves to homogenous plowing forward without forethought. Chess is not just a game of strategy, but one that has a team of players each with differentiated roles and abilities. This is our current political moment. Moving forward Our political landscape is shifting, as is the nature of the “environmental” movement. Three out of the four White House environmental “heavy hitters” are people of color. Environmental leaders with racial justice organizing backgrounds like Van Jones are becoming Obama’s advisors. This signals a meaningful opening. Until now, struggles against the coal industry have primarily centered on preventing the construction of new coal-burning plants. We now need to go after existing coal plants across the country. Here, lessons from the Anti-Nuclear movement are instructive. Direct actions at plants across the country did not decommission individual nuclear facilities, but cumulatively helped create moratorium on nuclear plant construction that lasted decades. The seeds are planted for decentralized actions against coal across the United States, integrated with varied campaigning tactics on multiple fronts. Should we be successful at networking efforts, this network must weave itself into a broader Climate Justice movement (whether or not it uses that name). If we hope to win, the movement must be relevant enough to relate to, and help create, a broad-based progressive majority that is unafraid to build unlikely alliances across the political spectrum, while maintaining a principled anchor of its left wing. Groups helping anchor the left wing of this formation are tying conditions to participation. These conditions currently center around economic empowerment and social uplift for communities of color and other impacted peoples, led by a compelling, if potentially co-opt-able, call for green jobs. Climate Justice organizers can build their leverage in this new political terrain through increased demonstrations of power. The Capitol Climate Action sought to test our limits, and found that we’re ready for more. So let’s push further. For photos, video, and other multimedia from the Capitol Climate Action, see Joshua Kahn Russell is the Grassroots Actions Manager at Rainforest Action Network and was a lead organizer on the Capitol Climate Action. Photo by Elizabeth Lane

Industry Ignored Its Scientists on Climate -

In order to create controversy over the cause or even the reality of Global Warming, Big Oil, Big Auto and Big Coal promoted the idea that there was a debate and that the evidence linking the burning of fossil fuels to accelerated climate change was inconclusive and wrong. Environmentalists have long decried this practice while Industry denied it. Now it seems there's proof that this is indeed the case, and that the fossil-fuel dealers and addicts were buying time to maintain profits while the world slowly began to burn. Industry Ignored Its Scientists on Climate - For more than a decade the Global Climate Coalition, a group representing industries with profits tied to fossil fuels, led an aggressive lobbying and public relations campaign against the idea that emissions of heat-trapping gases could lead to global warming. “The role of greenhouse gases in climate change is not well understood,” the coalition said in a scientific “backgrounder” provided to lawmakers and journalists through the early 1990s, adding that “scientists differ” on the issue. But a document filed in a federal lawsuit demonstrates that even as the coalition worked to sway opinion, its own scientific and technical experts were advising that the science backing the role of greenhouse gases in global warming could not be refuted. “The scientific basis for the Greenhouse Effect and the potential impact of human emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 on climate is well established and cannot be denied,” the experts wrote in an internal report compiled for the coalition in 1995. The coalition was financed by fees from large corporations and trade groups representing the oil, coal and auto industries, among others. In 1997, the year an international climate agreement that came to be known as the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated, its budget totaled $1.68 million, according to tax records obtained by environmental groups. Throughout the 1990s, when the coalition conducted a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign challenging the merits of an international agreement, policy makers and pundits were fiercely debating whether humans could dangerously warm the planet. Today, with general agreement on the basics of warming, the debate has largely moved on to the question of how extensively to respond to rising temperatures. Environmentalists have long maintained that industry knew early on that the scientific evidence supported a human influence on rising temperatures, but that the evidence was ignored for the sake of companies’ fight against curbs on greenhouse gas emissions. Some environmentalists have compared the tactic to that once used by tobacco companies, which for decades insisted that the science linking cigarette smoking to lung cancer was uncertain. By questioning the science on global warming, these environmentalists say, groups like the Global Climate Coalition were able to sow enough doubt to blunt public concern about a consequential issue and delay government action. George Monbiot, a British environmental activist and writer, said that by promoting doubt, industry had taken advantage of news media norms requiring neutral coverage of issues, just as the tobacco industry once had. “They didn’t have to win the argument to succeed,” Mr. Monbiot said, “only to cause as much confusion as possible.” William O’Keefe, at the time a leader of the Global Climate Coalition, said in a telephone interview that the group’s leadership had not been aware of a gap between the public campaign and the advisers’ views. Mr. O’Keefe said the coalition’s leaders had felt that the scientific uncertainty justified a cautious approach to addressing cuts in greenhouse gases. The coalition disbanded in 2002, but some members, including the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Petroleum Institute, continue to lobby against any law or treaty that would sharply curb emissions. Others, like Exxon Mobil, now recognize a human contribution to global warming and have largely dropped financial support to groups challenging the science. Documents drawn up by the coalition’s advisers were provided to lawyers by the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, a coalition member, during the discovery process in a lawsuit that the auto industry filed in 2007 against the State of California’s efforts to limit vehicles’ greenhouse gas emissions. The documents included drafts of a primer written for the coalition by its technical advisory committee, as well as minutes of the advisers’ meetings. The documents were recently sent to The New York Times by a lawyer for environmental groups that sided with the state. The lawyer, eager to maintain a cordial relationship with the court, insisted on anonymity because the litigation is continuing. The advisory committee was led by Leonard S. Bernstein, a chemical engineer and climate expert then at the Mobil Corporation. At the time the committee’s primer was drawn up, policy makers in the United States and abroad were arguing over the scope of the international climate-change agreement that in 1997 became the Kyoto Protocol. The primer rejected the idea that mounting evidence already suggested that human activities were warming the climate, as a 1995 report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had concluded. (In a report in 2007, the panel concluded with near certainty that most recent warming had been caused by humans.) Yet the primer also found unpersuasive the arguments being used by skeptics, including the possibility that temperatures were only appearing to rise because of flawed climate records. “The contrarian theories raise interesting questions about our total understanding of climate processes, but they do not offer convincing arguments against the conventional model of greenhouse gas emission-induced climate change,” the advisory committee said in the 17-page primer. According to the minutes of an advisory committee meeting that are among the disclosed documents, the primer was approved by the coalition’s operating committee early in 1996. But the approval came only after the operating committee had asked the advisers to omit the section that rebutted the contrarian arguments. “This idea was accepted,” the minutes said, “and that portion of the paper will be dropped.” The primer itself was never publicly distributed. Mr. O’Keefe, who was then chairman of the Global Climate Coalition and a senior official of the American Petroleum Institute, the lobby for oil companies, said in the phone interview that he recalled seeing parts of the primer. But he said he was not aware of the dropped sections when a copy of the approved final draft was sent to him. He said a change of that kind would have been made by the staff before the document was brought to the board for final consideration. “I have no idea why the section on the contrarians would have been deleted,” said Mr. O’Keefe, now chief executive of the Marshall Institute, a nonprofit research group that opposes a mandatory cap on greenhouse gas emissions. “One thing I’m absolutely certain of,” he said, “is that no member of the board of the Global Climate Coalition said, ‘We have to suppress this.’ ” Benjamin D. Santer, a climate scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory whose work for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was challenged by the Global Climate Coalition and allied groups, said the coalition was “engaging in a full-court press at the time, trying to cast doubt on the bottom-line conclusion of the I.P.C.C.” That panel concluded in 1995 that “the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.” “I’m amazed and astonished,” Dr. Santer said, “that the Global Climate Coalition had in their possession scientific information that substantiated our cautious findings and then chose to suppress that information.”

Jerry Cope: The DC Shuffle; Saving the World From Death By Coal

Huffington Post: Jerry Cope: The DC Shuffle; Saving the World From Death By Coal. Right in the heart of our nation's capitol is a coal fired power plant which kills. This is not unusual, all coal power plants kill. They are the largest anthropogenic source of the CO2 emissions (over 40%) which have now reached high enough levels of concentration in our atmosphere that many of the world's leading experts in climate change fear the tipping point may have already been reached and catastrophic climate change may now be inevitable. There is no such thing as clean coal. The is no such thing as safe coal. Coal may very well end life on this planet as we know it. We absolutely must stop burning coal and we must do it yesterday. The number 350 is now the most important number in the history of the human race. That is the safe level of atmospheric concentration of CO2 as expressed in parts per million. This threshold limit has already been exceeded with levels currently at 386PPM and rising. We are now creating a world vastly different from the one which has been so conducive to the biological diversity and global ecosystem which allowed the human species to evolve and human civilization to flourish. This is not a secret, although the energy industry would have you think it is, nor is it uncertain or alarmist. They are spending an exponentially increasing amount of funds on advertising, lobbying, and disinformation in an effort to cast doubt on what is now scientific certainty. In the last twelve months the number of climate change lobbyists on the Hill has increased 300%. The coal industry carries not only a big stick, but large piles of cash to go along with it. Judging from their actions and attitudes, one wonders if they don't have another planet stashed somewhere close by that they can bail to in a few years while the Earth dies. So what's a person to do? March 2nd, 2009 was historic -- a shining example of what citizens in a democracy can achieve when united in a common cause. That cause is eliminating coal-fired power plants in the United States and the insanely destructive environmental degradation caused by coal mining and related activities. 2009-03-05-FronlineHP.jpg The Front Line A group of over 2,500 people from all across the country marched on the coal fired power plant in our nation's capitol which for over 100 years has supplied heat and electricity to Congress by burning coal. In reality it was a shuffle much more than a march, there were simply too many people to take those nice long-stride parade steps which could properly be termed a march. The slush from fresh snow on the city streets and sidewalks made for a slow shuffle of happy courageous feet, many willing to risk arrest. Leading the march were the two men who first warned the world of the climate crisis rapidly approaching twenty and thirty years ago respectively; Bill McKibben the acclaimed author and activist, and James Hansen the director of NASA's Goddard Center in Manhattan who was the first prominent scientist to testify before Congress that global warming posed a serious threat to all life on the planet as we know it. On the front lines they were joined arm in arm by Wendall Berry, Robert Kennedy Jr., Daryl Hannah, Kathy Mattea, Terry Tempest Williams, Vandava Shiva, Gus Speth, John Quigley, and Mike Clark. The march was organized and endorsed by over forty environmental organizations led by Greenpeace, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and The Rainforest Action Network. I asked my new dear friend Terry Tempest Williams in looking back on the weekend what her thoughts were. Her words as is her entire being are luminous;
I thought that Monday's Climate Change Action was full of vitality and presence. What I realized however, as the day wore on, was that this was really about energizing, engaging, and empowering the students. They were so strong and thoughtful in their gestures. Many were willing to risk arrest. Others were willing to be of support. The students I spoke with were determined and dedicated to making a statement by their presence that the path we have been on is not the path to the future. Their lives are committed to acts of conscience and consequence. This is what moved me most. Jessie Carrier stood for hours in the cold blocking one of the side entrances. In those hours, she considered her actions, the course of her life, and what she wanted to commit her talents toward -- "My heart was quivering." she told me. "I became scared. And then, in time, I became calm and clear on what I was doing and why." A young woman began to dance for her. "She gave me energy," she said. "I joined her." Both young women danced. Movement. "I realized we are growing a movement." And then I think about what Wendell Berry said, when asked why he was there. "To begin a new kind of conversation." Yes. A new kind of conversation. A new kind of movement. We are now realizing that economic issues are environmental issues are social issues that are issues of social justice. This is my hope and faith as a citizen, that this kind of reflective activism can move us collectively, one person at a time toward an open space of democracy that inspires a different kind of relationship to community in the largest sense, both human and wild. Direct Action is not an abstraction. Monday's action was spirited and real. Empathy is a word that comes to mind as we walked arm in arm in solidarity. Climate Change.
2009-03-05-KathyTerryHP.jpg Kathy Mattea & Terry Tempest Williams For four hours all five entrance gates to the plant were blocked. An impressive number of law enforcement many with riot gear stood by and watched. No arrests were made, to the great disappointment of many including my brave friend Daryl Hannah who has been arrested before standing up for the environment, or sitting in a tree. 2009-03-05-MainGateHP.jpg Closed: The Main Gate Gus Speth said to the audience "There's nothing wrong with the Holocene, it's ending it that is crazy." We were all amazed by the energy of the young people and as Kathy Mattea said, "I love it that we can now support them." More actions in the form of civil disobedience directed against coal power plants are planned in the near future. As the world prepares for the UN COP15 Conference in Copenhagen this December, it is a critical year for, as Bill McKibben said, "creating a political space for a climate treaty to be finalized." Time's up.

CAPITOL CLIMATE ACTION VICTORY: in context for activists

Yesterday thousands of people converged on the Capitol Power Plant to engage in mass civil disobedience, shutting it down for the afternoon to demand clean energy solutions to our economic and climate crises. [youtube 1sMjZ9lfRNY] Check out the recent media coverage in Associated Press (AP), TIME Magazine, CNN, Huffington Post, The Hill, Alternet, and USA Today. See lots of pictures here. There is already a lot being written about how this action achieved our goals in building outside pressure, political will, and urgency to change the national conversation around the climate crisis and get bold policy in 2009. The announcement three days prior to our action that the Capitol Power Plant would be switched off coal validates the power of mass pressure and people power, as we push on to fight for truly clean energy. The amazing media we have already gotten has helped shape the national conversation. I want to talk about another goal we had: movement building - and how we can make the most of it. Through organizing this action, nearly 2,000 people were trained in non-violent direct action. Hundreds of people stepped into roles like peacekeepers, contingent leaders, artists, trainers, media runners, tablers, scouts, chant leaders, media wranglers, technical communications, police liaisons, worker liaisons, trash clean up, medics, support (bringing people food, water, blankets, and hot chocolate), online support, photographers and videographers, spokespeople, and many many others. Our resolve and determination not only brought many to risk arrest, but all of us to brave harsh weather. Speakers ranging from Dr. Vandana Shiva, to Bobby Kennedy, to DC Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, to Dr. James Hansen took the mic to support this movement and action. We certainly surpassed our expectation of 3,000 people participating, some are estimating thousands more than that. But here's the inside scoop: it's important to be real about this action, what it is, and what it isn't. This action was a national flashpoint to get together and help move our country forward on a federal level. It was also an "outside strategy" that gave leverage to the thousands who were inside Congress lobbying for clear and specific policy. But we all know that civil disobedience and non-violent direct action is just one tool of many - sometimes it's strategic, sometimes its not. We are honored and excited that so many thousands of people have had a transformational experience yesterday and are energized to go home and use these tactics. That was a goal. But to get excited about tactics for their own sake - devoid of strategic context and community accountability - would be to take the wrong lesson home. We believe in direct action that is community led, and part of ongoing campaigns where directly affected people are in leadership positions and making decisions. These kinds of direct actions are often smaller and much less "sexy" and "flashy" than national convergences like Capitol Climate Action. The role of national convergences like CCA is specific and rare - and the real work happens when we go back home. While yesterday's action was endorsed by over 100 organizations, including many from impacted regions throughout the continent, the convening organizations who made up our organizing group (along with allies) - Rainforest Action Network, Greenpeace, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and the Ruckus Society - are justice-minded organizations that are national or regional in scope, but are not community-based groups. We want to be transparent about that. We believe in supporting such groups and their leadership in our movement. We were honored to be able to support Native, Appalachian, and urban communities affected by the life cycle of coal in leading our march and being spokespeople for the action. But people wanting to engage in tactics like this should seek local community support and build with one another to craft a smart, thoughtful intervention and escalation with people who live in the impacted area.A MAJOR VICTORY WAS WON YESTERDAY. But this victory will be powerful when all of us who have been transformed by this action go home to our communities and engage responsibly and strategically. Yesterday's action is not a model for a community or local action, it was a vehicle to accelerate the national debate and help push our movement forward. We have talked a lot about how this was the largest mass action on global warming in history – and it was. We should be proud. It is also important for us to think of this as a first step – movements across the globe have been doing this kind of work for ages, and the youth climate movement is very new at it. Let’s celebrate our own power, but do so with humility, knowing we have a lot to learn - not just from the movements that came before us, but from those who are currently pulsing across our planet alongside us. I've started to compile a short list of resources on social movements and organizing here. Also see great training organizations like School of Unity and Liberation, Training for Change, Ruckus, SmartMeme, Highlander Center, and Catalyst Project. Check out some tools for inclusive organizing here. WHAT'S NEXT? - CCA organizers will be compiling a list of next steps, including local campaigns and actions across the country, for folks to plug into as is appropriate. LETS KEEP OUR MOMENTUM GOING!

Dr. James Hansen calls for Civil Disobedience at the Capitol March 2nd « It’s Getting Hot In Here

Dr. James Hansen calls for Civil Disobedience at the Capitol March 2nd « It’s Getting Hot In Here. (Thanks to Josh for posting this at IGHIH!) Today Climate Scientist Dr. James Hansen released a public service announcement calling on all of us to join the Capitol Climate Action (CCA) on March 2nd. If you haven’t heard, it will be the largest protest on Global Warming in U.S. history. “It’s time to take a stand on global warming,” Dr. Hansen says in the video. “We want to send a message to Congress and the President that we want them to take the actions that are needed to preserve climate for young people and future generations and all life on earth.” VIDEO: A Call to Action on Global Warming from Dr. James Hansen Dr. Hansen is a world renowned-scientist more accustomed to the lab and the library than the picket line. When he sees a problem so urgent that he is willing to take to the streets in protest, we can be sure it means that the government must act. Some 2,000 people from across the country are expected to join Dr. Hansen at Congress’s own coal-fired power plant in Southeast Washington, D.C. Over 70 public health, faith-based, labor, racial and environmental justice, and climate groups has endorsed the action along with such leaders and figures as Vandana Shiva, Tom Goldtooth, Daryl Hannah, Michael Franti, Bill McKibben, Gus Speth, Reverend Lennox Yearwood, Noam Chomsky, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Paul Hawken, Adrienne Maree Brown, and Wendell Berry. Grammy Award-winning country singer Kathy Mattea will also join the protest and perform. Coal-fired power plants are largest source of global warming pollution in the country, and the Capitol plant is widely regarded as a symbol of the country’s dangerous reliance on the fossil fuel. Burning coal also cuts short at least 24,000 lives in the U.S. annually, inflicts catastrophic damage to the landscape and water supplies and jeopardizes the lives of coal miners. Furthermore, coal leads to approximately $167 billion in healthcare costs annually and diverts scarce resources away from energy efficiency and clean energy, which create more than twice as many jobs per dollar as money for coal. RSVP to be a part of CCA and make history now!

Hansen Puts the Tar Sands and Obama's Trip to Canada into Climate Perspective

Dr. Hansen continues to sound the alarm. Pass it on. Seattle Post-Intelligencer President's trip to Canada defines critical carbon moment Last updated February 17, 2009 4:01 p.m. PT By JAMES E. HANSEN GUEST COLUMNIST President Barack Obama has committed to fight global warming. In just his first few weeks in office, he already has taken steps to move the U.S. in a direction that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The most important step so far is the indication that tailpipe emissions will be regulated as needed for improved fuel efficiency. Similar steps will be needed to improve energy efficiencies in buildings and homes. In my opinion, and in the view of most economists, those steps must be accompanied by a rising price on carbon emissions if we hope to stabilize atmospheric composition. Incentives must be provided for economic development that steadily replaces outdated fossil fuel-based energy infrastructure. Such transformation is needed if we are to preserve for future generations the remarkable planet we inherited from our elders. Now Obama is heading off on his first foreign trip --destination Canada. Few realize that Canada is the United States' No. 1 source of oil. And, unlike energy conversations in prior administrations, science and the environment are expected to be an important part of the agenda. Let us hope so. The Canadian media are full of speculation that the Canadian government will push for special treatment and protections from global warming regulation of its fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions -- the tar sands oil development in Alberta, where much of Canada's oil is derived. Such protection would be disastrous for life on our planet. The tar sands of Canada constitute one of our planet's greatest threats. They are a double-barreled threat. First, producing oil from tar sands emits two to three times the global warming pollution of conventional oil. But the process also diminishes one of the best carbon reduction tools on the planet -- Canada's Boreal Forest. This forest plays a key role in the global carbon equation by serving as a major storehouse for terrestrial carbon -- indeed, it is believed to store more carbon per hectare than any other ecosystem on Earth. When this pristine forest is strip-mined for tar sands development, much of its stored carbon is lost. Canada's Boreal Forest is also the reservoir for a large fraction of North America's clean, fresh water, home to about 5 billion migratory birds, and some of the largest remaining populations of caribou, moose, bear and wolves on the planet. As a climate scientist, I am focused on what levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide can be considered safe. In the past few years, based on increasingly detailed information about the history of Earth and observations of ongoing climate change, a startling conclusion has become apparent. The safe level of atmospheric carbon dioxide is no more than 350 parts per million, if we want the diversity of other species on the planet to survive -- as well as "amenities" that humans require, such as fresh water supplies, stable coastlines and a normal degree of extreme weather events. Unfortunately, because of our fossil fuel use, our planet is already at 385 parts per million. It is still practical, with improved agricultural and forestry practices to get future carbon dioxide levels below 350 ppm, provided we phase out emissions from the largest source -- coal -- in coming decades. It is a tough challenge to develop the needed renewable energies of the future, but it is doable. Together with improved energy efficiency we can move to the clean world of the future, beyond fossil fuels. So an underlying fact has become crystal clear. The horrendously carbon-intensive unconventional fossil fuels, tar shale in the United States and tar sands in Canada, cannot be developed. The carbon emissions from tar shale and tar sands would initiate a continual unfolding of climate disasters over the course of this century. We would be miserable stewards of creation. We would rob our own children and grandchildren. Now is a critical moment in the history of our planet. U.S. and Canadian governments must agree that the unconventional fossil fuels, tar sands and tar shale, will not be developed. They will send a message that their statements recognizing "a planet in peril" are not empty rhetoric. They will provide hope to young people and nature. We can preserve our heritage with its remarkable diversity of life.

Irreversible climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions — PNAS

This from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA. For those out there that have any lingering doubts about humanity's role in warming our fragile planetary life-supporting systems, time to wake up. In fact, that time has passed. Given the findings in this article, we have less than no time to waste, and if we're to make a difference in the future our children face, we must act immediately. (Join us at the Capitol Power Plant in Washington DC on March 2nd as we take change to Washington! Capitol Climate Action Abstract of the article: The severity of damaging human-induced climate change depends not only on the magnitude of the change but also on the potential for irreversibility. This paper shows that the climate change that takes place due to increases in carbon dioxide concentration is largely irreversible for 1,000 years after emissions stop. Following cessation of emissions, removal of atmospheric carbon dioxide decreases radiative forcing, but is largely compensated by slower loss of heat to the ocean, so that atmospheric temperatures do not drop significantly for at least 1,000 years. Among illustrative irreversible impacts that should be expected if atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations increase from current levels near 385 parts per million by volume (ppmv) to a peak of 450–600 ppmv over the coming century are irreversible dry-season rainfall reductions in several regions comparable to those of the “dust bowl” era and inexorable sea level rise. Thermal expansion of the warming ocean provides a conservative lower limit to irreversible global average sea level rise of at least 0.4–1.0 m if 21st century CO2 concentrations exceed 600 ppmv and 0.6–1.9 m for peak CO2 concentrations exceeding ≈1,000 ppmv. Additional contributions from glaciers and ice sheet contributions to future sea level rise are uncertain but may equal or exceed several meters over the next millennium or longer. Link to full article: Irreversible climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions — PNAS.

1  2  Next →
Sign in to