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Posts Tagged ‘Activism’

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

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BPSDB

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.

You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

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It is out of this admiration that I am joining a small group of people who will be participating in a rotational solidarity fast for the length of the Climate Change Justice hunger strike. ” Jess

Genuine political action is deeply personal and transformative. There is something awry if the external struggle with power and injustice is not matched by an equally intense internal struggle. The Climate Justice Fast is no exception.

Laura

I sit in front of my computer, contemplating my own laurahunger strike – a measly 48 foodless hours. I have just watched Anna Keenan and Sara Svensson speaking about their indefinite hunger strike, a notion which is not for the faint of heart.

As I listen to their inspired words, and the conviction in their voices, I think to myself: ‘Has it really come to this?’ Acts of sheer desperation, wrought from the learned hearts of those who care so much – truly, this should be perceived as a bad omen.

Climate change is a complex problem indeed; an issue worthy of thought, actions and solutions if ever there was one. It takes just the tiniest bit of awareness with a smidgen of foresight for each one

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BPSDB

  • Your lying eyes
  • Climate change performance index
  • Climate Safety: In case of emergency…

Your lying eyes

Let’s begin with a simple visual presentation using graphs of where we are with respect to climate change:

Global Temperature (more…)

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bolivia_la_paz_literacy_locBPSDB

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  • This blogs for you
  • What do you want to see?
  • It’s a tool
  • Be a part of it

This blogs for you

Well, yes and no. In trying to address the huge amount of misinformation being spread by the Deniers I kept a collection of links, then created a small wiki, and then this blog.  So it’s a tool to help educate about the facts when responding to Denierism, but a tool anyone and everyone can use.

Seriously – what topics should I cover? Bearing in mind that the goal of this blog is to educate about the misinformation that has gotten popular circulation, are there particular topics you would find useful to have covered? either because you are uncertain about the science, or you would just like a place you can link people to for explanations.

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800px-chengdu-pandas-d13

There is no question that people are very interested in and concerned about species such as pandas, polar bears, penguins and similar species under threat from anthropogenic climate change.

Watching various social networking sites you can see articles about these species quickly become ‘popular’ as they are variously noted, dugg, hugged, buzzed, stumbled, etc (ie voted for by other members). At the same time articles about climate science, educating about climate change, and climate policy generally languish with little attention paid to them.

See the disconnect? (more…)

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“It was called direct action, and it comes to us highly recommended”

Utah Phillips

UPDATE: Fools seldom differ dept – Blockading Global Warming

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The blog I meant to write has already been written, so I will throw you a teaser, link it, and then append a little commentary:

“Does Al Gore think he’s too old for civil disobedience?: Leaving aside whether breaking the law is ever justified, it seems odd that Gore doesn’t seem to include himself in the category of the “young people” he thinks should risk jail to halt global warming. After all, at age 71, Ghandi was arrested and served two years in prison. The US labor organizer Mother Jones was still facing charges of sedition in her 80s. Even TV president Martin Sheen, who is eight years older than Gore, managed to get himself arrested at an antinuclear action in Nevada last year, for what he says is the 65th time.” Read the rest …

Meanwhile, over at Climate Progress: Gore calls for civil disobedience to stop coal. But will he lead like Gandhi and King?

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