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Posts Tagged ‘Political Action’

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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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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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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BPSDB

Dilbert.com

Parse that carefully because it can be too easy to become focused on the “Stupid” part. It’s S-t-u-p-i-d W-h-i-t-e M-e-n.

For completeness we should add “Old”, and “Rich” (and probably some other adjectives as well) because of course in addition to being a race and gender issue climate change is a class and generational one. Having said that, it is a very particular brand of ‘Stupid’ that we are dealing with and it deserves dissection.

Nowhere is this clearer than the recent U.S. Congressional House Energy and Commerce Committee vote that denied the existence of climate change. As has been noted elsewhere, they may as well have voted to deny the existence of gravity. While I have been known to compare climate change Denier‘s intelligence to that of lobotomized rodents it is still breathtaking to see them literally taking it to that level.

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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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BPSDB

The politicians won’t care.

How often have we heard that with reference to some action we are taking? How often has it proved to be true?

Why does anyone think that it matters?

The problem isn’t the tools that we have available for political action don’t work. The problem is that generally we have no idea what it is we are actually trying to do. I do not mean that in terms of our ultimate goals as they relate to a particular issue, but in terms of what we are trying to achieve with a specific action. As a result we do not know how to effectively use the tools we do have.

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Change is now, change is now BPSDB
Things that seemed to be solid are not
All is now, all is now
The time that we have to live

Williams College Joins Worldwide Climate Hunger Strike

At Williams College we have 45 students signed up for a relay fast.”

Jen Rowe

Canberra, Day 3

Truth is real, truth is real
That which is not real does not exist
In and out roundabout
Dance to the day when fear it is gone

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