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Archive for the ‘Activism’ Category

BPSDB Disempowering ourselves again

It’s unlikely that the U.S. is going to take serious action on climate change until there are observable, dramatic events, almost catastrophic in nature, that drive public opinion and drive the political process in that direction,” Stavins, director of Harvard’s Environmental Economics Program in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said today in an interview in Bloomberg’s Boston office.

Disaster Needed for U.S. to Act on Climate Change, Harvard’s Stavins Says

The argument that people will not do anything until it starts to affect them has probably been around for all of history. Certainly it is an old one with respect to climate change. The most recent iteration by Harvard economist Robert Stavins.

I was not able to find  much response to Stavins in the climate science blogosphere, perhaps because we have repeatedly been here before. However, there were two which illustrate several of the false assumptions that tend to get associated with this argument:

  1. What do we mean by “affect”?

  2. “Act” or react?

  3. Why catastrophe? Why Wait?

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Let’s start by noting that what is being referred to is what is known as “trigger events” in discussions of political activism. Trigger events are things that spike public awareness of a particular issue, for good or ill.

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As long as we’re on the topic  (for the last time, at least for a good long while) I decided to move this post up (and several others still to appear).

The context is this video by Katie Goodman of Broad Comedy. It’s a little ditty that uses “f**ked” as a hook and to entertain, but that nonetheless touches on some important points relevant to mobilizing the public.

For most of the points I am going to do no more than note them in the expectation of returning to them at some later time. You may argue that I read too much into a comedic song, but I think that the lyrics resonate with the audience because they touch on truths regardless of the light nature of this particular context.

OK, that’s understated. In a microcosm it pretty much sums up where we are and why we are stuck here.  Kudos to Katie for raising those points, but the really scary interesting  scary thing about this video is the comments people made about it.

First watch the video if you care to (and are not too offended by the F-word) and then we can get to my points.

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When I first saw the video my immediate thought was that it should be the anthem for the youth climate justice movement. Let’s take a quick walk through some of the lyrics:

There’s never been a time
as fucked up as this

No argument there, not for humans anyway. Maybe the Toba eruption, and I understand the PETM was pretty nasty for most species, but that’s pedantic quibbling.

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BPSDB

Fuddle Duddle

Chamberlain, Trudeau or … ?

Flotsam

A couple of weeks ago Michael Tobis shocked the delicate, refined sensibilities of the climate change Deniers by stating unambiguously what is at stake and what he felt were the unhelpful contributions of Steve Mosher.

Michael was blowing off some steam and may have used some language that he generally doesn’t. The incident would warrant only passing remark except for some of the fall out and follow up.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Getting past the irrelevant, the incident raises some important questions about how we engage in the debate, what our goals are, and what the implications are for our struggle, as individuals and as a collective.

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Fuddle Duddle

Text of what Tobis actually said

“Let me explain why. It is not because I am a pusillanimous chickenshit, Mosher. It is because the fucking survival of the fucking planet is at fucking stake. And if we narrowly fucking miss pulling this out, it may well end up being your, your own fucking personal individual fucking self-satisfied mischief and disrespect for authority that tips the balance. You have a lot of fucking nerve saying you are on my “side”.

Unless and until you find it within yourself to understand that you have major fucked up, big time, by throwing big juicy meat to the deniers to chew on and spin paranoid fantasies about for years, even decades,”

What I heard as significant:

“Let me explain why. It is not because I am a pusillanimous chickenshit, Mosher. It is because the fucking survival of the fucking planet is at fucking stake.

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BPSDB On April 29th a person using the twitter account “@septscelles”  released a large file to Barrett Brown that purportedly contained secret US Chamber of Commerce documents. ~ Muskegon Critic

If you hadn’t heard about this it’s because there’s nothing to hear. The data dump seems to contain nothing that wasn’t already publicly available and/or of no interest. “a big nothing-burger.”

That works for me since I want to talk about the context rather than the content, and now can do so without the distraction of what the hacked information may or may not mean. Call this a preemptive discussion for if and when there is some sort of “real” release of information from one of the Denier monoliths.

I think there are three important issues to consider:

  1. The validity of the content;
  2. Our response to the content;
  3. Our response to the nature of the release.

The validity of the content

Of the US Chamber of Commerce release The Atlantic Wire reports:

“Suspicions? Well, yes–Brown has reason to believe the new cache of documents isn’t totally on the level. Recall that when Anonymous released a bunch of documents from the cyberintelligence group Team Themis, those files described various strategies for discrediting watchdog groups–including creating “false documents” and “fake insider personas.” So Septscelles may be a concerned citizen who values transparency, or, as another posting at AnonNews puts it, he or she may be trying to “discredit Anonymous through a campaign of misinformation.”

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BPSDB

(hat tip to Quark Soup and Climate Progress)

Maybe you celebrated Earth Day, maybe you ignored it. Maybe you share the cynicism that has been becoming overt on more than a few environmental sites, or at least noticed it.

For the international celebration of a cause that we are working for, articles like (just a sampling):

don’t exactly seem to be caught up in the spirit of it.

Or how about this group email?:

“It’s that time of year again: Earth Day, a singular day when the faithless are moved to buy reusable grocery bags.

At #######, we get pretty rankled at all the Earthapalooza shenanigans. What’s next, Ye Olde Mattress Sale? Honestly.

Let’s face it, we’re all just doing the best we can. And we do the best we can every stinking day. Not just on some tarted-up, feel-good, strum-your-guitar day of glowing holiness …

I want to talk about something far more important than Earth Day, more important than saving endangered species,  or “the planet”, or humanity.

First a little context.

Continue reading at News Junkie Post:

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SOA Quebec City 2001

BPSDB In the dim mists of time hundreds of us were gathered by a foundation to discuss how we were going to move from our then state of impending environmental crisis to a sustainable society. Demographically we were a sampling of politicians, bureaucrats, scientists, business people, NGO staffers, and community organizers.

We talked and worked over three days in ever changing combinations that always had representation from each sector. By the last evening we were a much smaller, exhausted group consisting almost exclusively of the NGO staffers, community organizers and scientists, with only a handful of the others still present.  The organizers then revealed our last task, which was to answer:

  1. What needs to happen?
  2. What will it take?
  3. Who will pay for it?

There was a long silence, and then finally a voice (an environmental consultant) said in a calm, measured manner “Revolution … Blood in the streets … Eat the rich.”

There was another long silence as we all looked around to see how the others were reacting to this.  What we saw was a room full of people calmly nodding. We then spent the last few hours translating that answer into language that the Foundation could actually publish in it’s report.

Make no mistake, this was not a gathering of radical activists. The participants were drawn from quite mainstream, moderate organizations and institutions. Nor, I think, would that have been the answer given when we first gathered, even by the subset of us still there at the end.

Although the group had an abundance of experience trying to make change, the day long sessions of quibbling over trivia and dross had brought into stark relief just how inert “the system” was. Apparently imminent catastrophe was simply not sufficient reason to fiddle with the price of gas, or anything else for that matter.

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BPSDB

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Head

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Heart


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Hands


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If by any remote chance you have not heard of them, Koch Industries is a major funder of many right wing agendas including climate change Denial (The Machinery of Climate Anti-Science) and a core driver of the Tea Party movement.

Of course it is unlikely that you haven’t heard of them, which begs the question of what the point of this post is? I want to suggest that it is not enough to simply  know about them, what are we going to do about it?

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BPSDB  “…we manipulate the medium … that’s how you control the online dialogue.”

American Majority trainer

This clip exposes one of the many tactics that the right wing is using to control the information that the public gets, the information that you get.

This is how The Machinery of Climate Anti-Science is operationalizing the corporate agenda, just one tactic of many being used to subvert democracy.

The clip is from the documentary (Astro)Turf Wars that was released last October

Trailer for (Astro)Turf Wars:

We are drowning in propaganda, drowning in it. And I’m not speaking figuratively, it’s threatening our lives, it’s cutting off our air. It’s making real democracy all but impossible. It has brought the planet to the point of ecological destruction.” [emphasis added]

Mark Crispin Miller, New York University, (Astro)Turf Wars interview

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BPSDB

Last week John Mashey did an excellent talk on “The Machinery of Climate Anti-Science” at the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions. John is an incurable geek (my highest praise) who has been a tireless bulldog in going after the power networks that support the professional world of climate change denial (and just a really nice guy).

The talk is well worth it, so watch it:

Video of John Mashey’s talk and the pdf of the presentation.

Thanks to Tim @ Deltoid and Deep Climate for the heads up.

Some things to watch for

1) This is not a summary and will not substitute for watching the presentation itself, it’s just a sampling of some of the things he talks about that I have my own agenda for drawing your attention to, so go watch it already ;-)

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Simple people,people who don’t exist,prefer things which don’t exist,simple things.

e.e. cummings; six nonlectures

Al Gore had a few minor errors of no particular consequence in his movie “An Inconvenient Truth“, but his book “The Assault on Reason” was wildly wrong in at least two important respects:

i) The internet has proven to be a far more useful tool for the climate change Deniers than it has for the science fact community. This is undoubtedly because it is easier to tweet simple things such as “If evolution climate change is real, why are there still monkeys snowstorms?” than it is to understand the facts.

Not that the explanation is that complex, just that it takes more than 140 characters to say and a bit of actual thinking to understand.

ii) What we are witnessing is not an “Assault on Reason”, it is the wholesale abandonment of reason. Democracy requires dialogue, a dialogue that simply isn’t happening, and quite possibly cannot happen when one of the camps has chosen paranoid delusions and willful stupidity as their coping mechanisms.

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Machinima is?

BPSDB

a) a technique for video production that progressives barely use;

b) a German cyber-goth band;

c) a name for pit-bull/doberman hybrids;

d) videos produced using computer game engines.

Recently climate blogger (and scientist) Michael Tobis posted Dogs and Deniers, a post illustrating the similarity between a particular Far Side cartoon and real life with the climate change Deniers (with their typical inability to detect irony, a Denier immediately posted comments illustrating the truth of the post). To illustrate his point Tobis had actually used a rather crude Denier produced example of machinima.

Machinima is of course both a) and d), that is it is a technique for film making using computer game engines that progressives barely use.

Machinima apparently began in the 1990s with game players simply screen capturing their play and then distributing it. From there someone had the notion to tell a little story within the game story and have the game characters act it out.

Then someone had the realization that you could control game characters to do more than simply hack and slash and kill everyone within the games’ storyline. If you had them strike a pose and say “To be or not to be, that is the question … ” and then hack and slash and kill everyone, you had Hamlet.

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PSDB On the advice of many Derrick Jensen’s “Endgame” has been on the ‘should read’ list for years, but somehow I have never gotten around to it. More recently a youtube clip of him reading an excerpt was brought to my attention, so I watched that, and then checked out sections of the books that are available online.

The clip in question is a reading of the apparently infamous “The enviromentalist version of Star Wars” analogy (text from book here). Many apparently feel that this is a wonderful encapsulation of all that is wrong with “mainstream environmentalism.” Actually it’s a pretty good encapsulation of all that is wrong with Derrick Jensen’s arguments.

The short version (if you want to save 9 min of your life) is that Jensen uses a Star Wars analogy to mock nonviolent activists. eg:

In a surprise move that will rivet viewers to the edges of their seats, other groups of rebels file lawsuits against the Empire, attempting to show that the Environmental Impact Statement Darth Vader was required to file failed to adequately support its …

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YouTube – Day 42 Message to fasters BPSDB

Bringing Moral Force to COP15

by Anna Keenan

DEC 17 – Copenhagen

1000 people will join fasters who have reached the 42nd day of a hunger strike for climate justice, in a Candlelight Vigil for Survival.

We will gather in the Øksnehallen space for a solemn and powerful event recognising the urgency and gravity of the moment–and urging leaders to rise to the world’s call to action.

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Copenhagen: One World – Keep Us Safe! BPSDB

from Avaaz.org

With 4 days to go and leaders arriving tomorrow, planet-saving negotiations are failing to deliver. Hopes now rest on a tidal wave of public pressure from ALL of us — as Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu said at our summit vigil, “We expect a Real Deal in Copenhagen!”

No-one can now ignore the need for all of us to act — every single name is actually being read out at the summit and we’ll deliver this message directly to leaders there — so let’s join together, sign below and spread the word — and together we can build an overwhelming mandate for change:

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Humanity is Hungry for Survival

BPSDB The Climate Justice Fast activists have been on hunger strike for 40 days in support of climate justice. Now in the closing days of the Copenhagen Conference they are calling on all of us to Fast for one day …


Dear Friends,

by Anna Keenan

This week an unprecedented 115 world leaders will converge in Copenhagen to forge a global agreement on climate change. It is thanks to the efforts everyone concerned about climate change that these decision makers will all be in the same room. However we, together as a global community, need to ensure they make the right decisions.

The bad news is that with only one week left, the international climate negotiations are still deadlocked. The good news is that this is our opportunity to step things up.

The science is clear, and the technological and social tools to reduce carbon pollution are ready and waiting.  Our movement has the moral high ground.  Now, we must unite and make the moral declaration that nothing short of an equitable science-based treaty is acceptable. Humanity is hungry for survival.

We are therefore calling for all people across the world, to join a single global day of fasting - voluntarily going without food, drinking only water – on Thursday 17th December.

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BPSDB CJF Press Conference in Copenhagen – Tuesday 8th Dec

Only Day 6 for me and I am shocked at how lethargic and dull I have become. Is this a passing phase in the bodies response? or does it reflect underlying health conditions? (there is some diabetes in the family history, so maybe?).  Regardless, Anna and Sara seem a lot more energetic and sharp than I currently feel, which I am very glad to see (Sara struggles with her English a bit, but that was true a month ago).

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COP 15 … Incipit BPSDB

Copenhagen marks a beginning, but of what?

Is it to be an era of unprecedented international cooperation to deal with a global threat? That seems unlikely at this point. The last decade can only be described as the Triumph of Ignorance.

So are we then to descend into the kind of world described in the video? Make no mistake, one thing that has already emerged from Copenhagen is The Copenhagen Diagnosis: Climate Science Report, and it’s bad.  More on this later, but for those who want a quick run down here is a good one .

As Dr. Edward Miles of the University of Washington says in the film “A Sea Change“, “Are we screwed? Yeah, to a considerable extent. A world of 500 parts per million is a world of enormous environmental destruction. We ought to recognize that and say it.”

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COP 15 Begins BPSDB

Call to action for the 12th

by Anna Keenan

It has now reached the end of my 28th day of fasting. Four complete weeks without food.

It is perhaps the hardest thing that I have ever done in my life, but then, it has also been incredibly rewarding and eye-opening. A grand test of my self-discipline.

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BPSDBDiane discusses the power of hunger strikes and the impact they have on people.

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by Anna Keenan (CJF Hunger Strike, Day 21) BPSDB

It’s been a little while since I’ve written – been very busy preparing for COP, moving houses in Copenhagen, and so on. But with all this ‘not eating’, it’s encouraged me to reflect on diets and their contribution to the climate problem.

In truth, the indulgent eating habits of many in the over-developed, over-consuming world are amongst our most inequitable daily habits. They are probably also amongst the easiest of our habits to change.

Unlike those other low-carbon lifestyle changes, like ‘stop driving your car and catch the bus instead’ – where the alternatives simply may not exist, or may be really really inconvenient, due to poor government services (get to work lobbying them, people!) – the alternatives to our high-impact western diet are very readily available: just choose the vegetarian option!

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