Visit MCJ West for Action, Updates, and More!
CONNECT

enter your email for updates

MCJ on Facebook!
MCJ West on Facebook!
Follow the MCJ on Twitter!




COP15 Gears What happened at the Copenhagen Climate Talks?
Visit Rising Tide North America's
WhatIsCOP15.net



View N30 Actions (U.S.) in a larger map

Browse by Topic

Archive for November, 2009


To jump directly to the controversial research materials from our press packets and to videos of speeches made at the rally by Dr. Hansen, Sheinkopf, and Komanoff, please go here.

Report Back:

On November 30, one week before the UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen open, and on the 10th anniversary of the World Trade Organization (WTO) protest in Seattle in 1999, major demonstrations, teach-ins and civil disobedience took place in cities around the U.S..

Across the nation and in midtown Manhattan, the climate justice movement came alive in these events one week before UN climate negotiations begin in Copenhagen. Hundreds of members of Mobilization for Climate Justice (MCJ) in New York City turned out on a cold wet day to unleash what environmental economist Charles Komanoff suggests is a “rebirth of the environmental movement based on environmental science and economics — and not on deal-making with corporate polluters.”

Mistress of Ceremonies, “the Future of Life on Earth”, opened the rally by declaring: “We are part of a nationwide network of organizations opposed to the climate profiteering behind the Waxman-Markey and Kerry-Boxer climate bills. Proposed U.S. climate policy is a betrayal of the environment and of future generations of life on earth. Our coalition demands equitable, democratic, and science-based solutions to climate change. We call for an end to hydrocarbon extraction and we reject carbon trading.”

The rally transformed into a march from the Bank of America to the offices of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) as activists chanted: “The earth, the earth, the earth is on fire. We don’t need no cap and trade, the market is a liar.”

The NRDC is being targeted by the environmental justice movement because of their membership in U.S. CAP and the pivotal lobbying role they played in shaping the massive Waxman-Markey & Kerry-Boxer climate bills and the even-more-egregious Kerry-Lieberman-Graham bill. The bills called for dangerously low emission reductions, while also creating an lucrative carbon trading market which, when put in place in Europe, has dramatically failed to match its boosters’ promises in reducing GHG emissions there. Many of the largest financial institutions that have been deemed “too big to fail” (Goldman Sachs, Bank of America) are salivating to cash in on what some activists have begun to call a new system of “climate profiteering.”

“Come back NRDC,” yelled out a voice in the crowd. The NRDC has aligned itself with a broader coalition of corporate interests whose goals and benchmarks for reducing carbon emissions are drastically below what is necessary according to prevailing climate science.

The MCJ proposes a range of solutions (including leaving hydrocarbons in the ground and more): http://www.actforclimatejustice.org/.

Please remember to read (and pass on) the controversial research materials we provided in our press packets and to view the videos of speeches given at the rally by Dr. Hansen, Sheinkopf, and Komanoff by clicking here.

Today on the Global Day of Climate Justice Action, a rowdy march in San Francisco made it’s way to Bank of America’s skyscraper (the tallest building in San Francisco), where dozens of activists blockaded the doors all around the building.  Over 200 marched and rallied with at least 22 being arrested in the blockade.

Some locked themselves within the revolving doors to disrupt Bank of America’s business for the day.  Bank of America is one of the largest funders of coal plants, oil and gas in the country.  They also play a leading role within trade associations pushing for cap and trade.
“The world’s largest corporations are blocking an agreement to address the climate crisis that is endangering our common future,” stated organizer David Solnit. “Meanwhile, Bank of America profits from financing dirty energy and carbon trading schemes that subsidize pollution and poverty.” According to Bloomberg, Bank of America is the third largest financier of oil, gas, and coal in the world, and is heavily involved in financing mountaintop removal coal mining.
The activists, organized as The Mobilization for Climate Justice, also targeted carbon traders, and five of the largest contributors to climate pollution: JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Chevron, BP, and American Electric Power.
The Mobilization blames these corporations for contributing to the climate crisis and promoting false solutions such as carbon trading, “clean coal”, nuclear energy and bio-fuels. Through direct lobbying, and support of lobbying institutions like the Chambers of Commerce and the US Climate Action Partnership, these corporations have prevented democratic domestic and international climate negotiations.  Moreover, companies like Chevron, whose Richmond oil refinery is the single largest emitter of climate pollution in California , continue to dump toxic pollution in poor communities with impunity.
This protest marks the 10th anniversary of the massive mobilization in Seattle that effectively derailed the corporate agenda driving the World Trade Organization’s trade liberalization policies. “We cannot allow the world’s largest corporate polluters to continue robbing our children’s future,” stated Carla Perez of Movement Generation, marching with a parade of children and the Raging Grannies carrying clean up equipment. “US corporations have been holding climate solutions hostage, while burdening our communities with ongoing attacks on our health and livelihoods.”
Protestors demand that Bank of America and the other corporations stop polluting the climate and promoting false solutions at the UN and in the halls of Congress.

Today on the Global Day of Climate Justice Action, a rowdy march in San Francisco made it’s way to Bank of America’s skyscraper (the tallest building in San Francisco), where dozens of activists blockaded the doors all around the building. Over 200 marched and rallied with at least 22 being arrested in the blockade.

Some locked themselves within the revolving doors to disrupt Bank of America’s business for the day. Bank of America is one of the largest funders of coal plants, oil and gas in the country. They also play a leading role within trade associations pushing for cap and trade.

“The world’s largest corporations are blocking an agreement to address the climate crisis that is endangering our common future,” stated organizer David Solnit. “Meanwhile, Bank of America profits from financing dirty energy and carbon trading schemes that subsidize pollution and poverty.” According to Bloomberg, Bank of America is the third largest financier of oil, gas, and coal in the world, and is heavily involved in financing mountaintop removal coal mining.

The activists, organized as The Mobilization for Climate Justice, also targeted carbon traders, and five of the largest contributors to climate pollution: JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Chevron, BP, and American Electric Power.

The Mobilization blames these corporations for contributing to the climate crisis and promoting false solutions such as carbon trading, “clean coal”, nuclear energy and bio-fuels. Through direct lobbying, and support of lobbying institutions like the Chambers of Commerce and the US Climate Action Partnership, these

corporations have prevented democratic domestic and international climate negotiations. Moreover, companies like Chevron, whose Richmond oil refinery is the single largest emitter of climate pollution in California , continue to dump toxic pollution in poor communities with impunity.

This protest marks the 10th anniversary of the massive mobilization in Seattle that effectively derailed the corporate agenda driving the World Trade Organization’s trade liberalization policies. “We cannot allow the world’s largest corporate polluters to continue robbing our children’s future,” stated Carla Perez of Movement Generation, marching with a parade of children and the Raging Grannies carrying clean up equipment. “US corporations have been holding climate solutions hostage, while burdening our communities with ongoing attacks on our health and livelihoods.”

Protestors demand that Bank of America and the other corporations stop polluting the climate and promoting false solutions at the UN and in the halls of Congress.

PEOPLE FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

For More Information Contact:

Crystal Metham 416-435-3516

Katelyn Blacisk 647 929 2400

POLICE ISSUE ULTIMATUM TO PROTESTERS ORDERING THEM TO LEAVE BY END OF DAY OR BE FORCIBLY REMOVED

November 30, 2009 (Whitby, Ontario) — Police have issued an ultimatum to the seven climate activists inside Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s Whitby office, stating they must leave by the end of the day or else be forcibly removed. To speak directly to one of the protesters currently occupying the office, the following members of People for Climate Justice can be reached via cell phone:

Paul Mero 514-825-9878

Janet McNeill 647-207-3208

The third of a series of peaceful sit-ins staged by a coalition of concerned individuals targeting elected officials, tar sands financiers, and the coal and tar sands industries began at Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s office today, located at: 701 Rossland Road East- Unit 204, Whitby. Seven members of the People for Climate Justice coalition entered the office just after 9:30 refusing to leave, demanding that the federal government act to combat the climate crisis and stem the millions of deaths and displacements that will result from more inaction.

“While our government stalls, millions of people will die or become displaced due to the climate crisis,” said Greenpeace Climate and Energy Coordinator, Dave Martin from inside the office. “If they fail to reach an agreement the Canadian government is saying it does not care about the lives of those currently and most affected by climate change. Minister Flaherty must put pressure on the Government to act and push for a just, ambitious, and binding deal in Copenhagen with science based targets, that is led by the voices of those who are most directly impacted by the climate crisis.”

Inaction on climate change is already displacing and killing millions, and sending many into poverty.  The UN estimates there will be 150 million climate refugees by 2050.

“Despite the growing crisis, the Harper Government is trying to sabotage efforts to solve this global problem, expanding the tar sands rather than leading the push for and financing of real solutions. We will not let our government delay any further while millions die and are displaced. Their behaviour is unacceptable, we need governmental leadership for climate justice now,” said participant, Indra Noyes.

The individuals inside have multiple affiliations. They presented a letter addressed to Finance Minister Flaherty outlining their concerns and demands (Attached). The sit-in of office is ongoing. The police have been called and there is the potentials for arrests. A group of local and regional supporters have also gathered outside of the Finance Minister’s office.

“Letter writing, rallies, meetings, and phone calls are all important actions, but our Government’s inaction indicates that these tactics are not enough. We must step up the pressure so we are engaging in peaceful civil disobedience, like those before us, to ensure we do our part to solve the greatest environmental threat of our time,” stated former constituent Janet McNeill.

For photos of the action, seehttp://www.flickr.com/photos/canadaclimatejustice

Information about the call for civil disobedience for climate justice, as well as updates on actions set to take place across Canada in the coming weeks is online at:
http://canadaclimatejustice.wordpress.com/

DEMAND LETTER:

Honourable Minister Flaherty:

We are holding a sit-in at in your constituency office today because the Conservative Government is stalling progress to build a just, meaningful, and binding climate treaty this December
in Copenhagen.

Inaction on climate change is already displacing and killing millions, and sending many into poverty.  In Canada, climate change is harming the land and lives of indigenous communities in the Far North.
Globally, recent declines in food production due to climate-catalyzed droughts, is causing food shortages in some poor countries and escalating global hunger.  Climate caused events like floods, melting glaciers, and sea level rise, are forcing millions to permanently flee their homes, from Pacific islanders to subsistence farmers in India. The UN estimates there will be 150 million climate refugees by 2050.

We call on you Minister Flaherty to publicly commit to do everything in your power to meaningfully and fairly address the global climate crisis.

We call on you Minister Flaherty to make sure the Canadian Government supports a just, meaningful, and binding climate treaty this December in Copenhagen.

We call on you Minister Flaherty to publicly commit to pass the Climate Change Accountability Act, which calls on Canada to drastically reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and do its’ part to solve climate change.

Finally, we demand that you publicly commit to sign the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.  Climate change is a human rights issue, and First Nations in Canada are feeling
climate change worst and first.

The global climate crisis is threatening our future, and humanities’ future.  We have passed the time for inaction.  We demand change.

Yours,

People For Climate Justice

CITIZENS OCCUPY RONA AMBROSE’S EDMONTON OFFICE
CALL FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE IN LEAD-UP TO COPENHAGEN TALKS

November 25, 2009 (Edmonton, Alberta) — The second of a series of peaceful sit-ins targeting elected officials, tar sands financiers, and the coal and tar sands industries began at 11:00 am at Labour Minister Rona Ambrose’s Edmonton constituency office (6801 170 St.) today. 10 people entered the office and have staged a peaceful sit-in – refusing to leave until the federal government commits to combating the climate crisis and stems the deaths and displacements of millions that will result from further inaction. The occupation follows a similar occupation that was held on Monday at Environment Minister Jim Prentice’s office in Calgary.

“While our government delays millions of people will die or become displaced due to the climate crisis. By stalling and blocking progress the Canadian government is saying it doesn’t care about the lives of those currently and most affected by the climate crisis,” said Martin Tweedale, one of the people occupying the office. “Rona Ambrose must put pressure on the Government to act and push for a just, ambitious, and binding deal that listens to the science, and is led by those most directly impacted by the climate crisis.”

Inaction on climate change is already displacing and killing millions, and sending many into poverty. The UN estimates there will be 150 million climate refugees by 2050.

“Canada’s economy is being left behind, our environment is being decimated and we are telling those most vulnerable that their lives don’t matter. Rona Ambrose should be investing in green jobs not carbon intensive industries like the tar sands. The US government invested 14 times more per person in renewable energy than Canada last year,” said Keely Kidner. “We’ve held rallies, phone-ins, flash mobs, we’ve written and talked to our MP’s and nothing has changed. Now we are taking the next step, in the tradition of Gandhi and the Civil Rights Movement to do our part to solve the greatest environmental threat of our time.”

The sit-in is still ongoing. The police have been called and there is potential for arrest.

Information about the call for civil disobedience for climate justice, as well as updates on actions set to take place across Canada in the coming weeks is online at:

http://canadaclimatejustice.wordpress.com/

-30-

For More Information Contact:
Keely Kidner: 780 695 9057
Martin Tweedale: 780 490 8015

200 Chicago climate activists returned to the streets today – this time in the financial district in downtown  Chicago – in a colorful demonstration against cap and trade, carbon offsets and other “false solutions” to climate change.  Building on the long-term campaign to shut down the Crawford and Fisk coal-fired power plants in the city, community and environmental groups from across Chicago and beyond have come together to demand just, equitable, and effective solutions to the climate crisis.

The main target of today’s action is the Chicago Climate Exchange, the first and largest carbon market in North America.  Several other “climate criminals” were visited during a march, including JP Morgan Chase, one of the leading funders of mountain top removal coal mining; Midwest Generation, the owner of Chicago’s two coal-fired power plants; and the Board of Trade, which trades in palm oil, one of the leading drivers of rainforest destruction.

VIDEO BELOW!
Read the rest of this entry »

Group calls on the Air Quality Control Commission to deny the Cherokee coal plant’s ‘permit to pollute’

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 30, 2009

Contacts:
Brian Bernhardt; CU Graduate Student; 703-439-0725; brian.bernhardt@colorado.edu
Amy Guinan, CU-INVST; 303-999-6374; amyguinan@yahoo.com

Denver, CO – This morning, approximately fifteen local citizens, representing a diverse coalition of groups, demonstrated at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (DPHE) to demand the denial of the Cherokee coal plant’s permit to pollute. The early morning protest greeted DPHE employees as they arrived for work and called on the department to close down Cherokee. Protestors did a ‘die-in’ in front of the building’s main entrance to highlight the grim consequences that coal has on our lives and those of future generations. At the same time, other activists in hazmat suits roped off the area with “Global Warming Crime Scene’ tape and chanted against coal plants.

“The Department of Public Health and Environment needs to stand up for public health and the environment. They can do this by beginning to phase out coal-fired power plants,” said Kate Clark, a graduate student in Environmental Studies at CU-Boulder.

The DPHE’s Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) recently held a public hearing on the Cherokee coal plant, in which citizens overwhelming called for denial of the plant’s air pollution permit. In addition, over 200 citizens turned out to express their opposition to the Valmont coal plant in Boulder this past July and over 300 participated in a protest of the plant on October 24th. Beyond that, activists, dressed in Gov. Ritter masks and clown suits, demonstrated in Denver calling on the governor to not be a ‘climate clown.’ Today’s action was meant to amplify public opposition to the Cherokee coal plant as the AQCC prepares to make a decision on the future of Cherokee in the coming weeks or months.

“The Air Quality Control Commission has an opportunity to put Colorado on the path for a clean energy future. We hope they have the courage to do the right thing,” said Amy Guinan, a student in the CU-INVST program. Read the rest of this entry »

This post was submitted by Brian Bernhardt.

November 30, 2009 (Whitby, Ontario) — The third of a series of peaceful sit-ins staged by a coalition of concerned individuals who are targeting elected officials, tar sands financiers, and the coal and tar sands industries began at Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s office today, located at: 701 Rossland Road East- Unit 204, Whitby. Seven people entered the office just after 9:30 refusing to leave, demanding that the federal government act to combat the climate crisis and stem the millions of deaths and displacements that will result from more inaction.

“While our government delays millions of people will die or become displaced due to the climate crisis. If they fail to reach an agreement the Canadian government is saying it does not care about the lives of those currently and most affected by climate change,” said Greenpeace Climate and Energy Coordinator, Dave Martin from inside the office, “Minister Flaherty must put pressure on the Government to act and push for a just, ambitious, and binding deal in Copenhagen with science based targets, that is led by the voices of those who are most directly impacted by the climate crisis.”
Read the rest of this entry »

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 30, 2009

Contacts: Lacy MacAuley, (202) 445-4692, lacy@massey-media.com

Nadine Bloch, (202) 412-7611, nbloch@igc.org

Morgan Goodwin, (413) 884-5240, morgan.goodwin@gmail.com

Climate justice activists march on polluters and lobbyists in downtown Washington DC

Feisty unpermitted march blocks traffic, marks the tenth anniversary of the WTO shutdown in Seattle, demands “Corporations out of Copenhagen” one week prior to the UN climate summit

Washington DC – Climate justice activists this morning marched through downtown Washington DC to visit climate polluters and the K Street lobbyists who represent them, joining thousands more in cities across the country for actions marking the November 30th Mobilization for Climate Justice. The march occurred just one week before the beginning of international climate negotiations in Copenhagen and marked the tenth anniversary of the historic day when activists converged in Seattle to non-violently shut down the meetings of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

[Click to view a video of today’s climate justice march in Washington DC]

“Oil companies, lobbyists, and banks are driving climate change and using their influence to prevent us from taking swift action to stop climate change. They are accelerating us off of a climate change cliff by promoting business as usual. They’ll just save themselves with their golden parachutes, leaving the rest of the world in free fall,” said organizer Lacy MacAuley, “We are calling for ‘Corporations out of Copenhagen,’ asking businesses and their lobbyists to step aside and let us create meaningful solutions to climate change, solutions that place people before profit.”

Read the rest of this entry »



Greenville, SC Two protestors have locked themselves to the 1.5 million pound generator destined for Duke Energy’s Cliffside coal plant in Rutherford County, North Carolina. Protestors are vowing to prevent the generator, which has been traveling across South Carolina on a 300 foot trailer, from reaching the coal plant. “Our nation has no choice, we must stop burning coal. The only choice that we can make is whether we do that in time to still have breathable air, drinkable water, a livable climate, and standing mountains,” said, Catherine Anne. Protestors also draped a large banner from the top of the generator reading, “Stop Cliffside.”

The controversial Cliffside coal plant would emit over 6 million tons of carbon dioxide ever year in addition to toxic levels of heavy metals such as mercury, greatly exacerbating global warming and our abysmal air quality. Duke Energy is seeking to raise electricity rates in order to pay for the construction of Cliffside at a time when record numbers of families are struggling to put food on the table due to the recession.

This act of civil disobedience comes a week before world leaders meet in Copenhagen to hash out a global climate agreement. “Any agreement made in Copenhagen will be meaningless if the US continues to build coal plants such as Cliffside. It is time to tear down coal plants, not construct new ones,” said Rachel Scarano. There are currently 43 coal plants proposed or under construction in the US, though over 100 others have been canceled due to widespread protests.

Since it was first proposed, there has been massive opposition to Cliffside. In the past year and a half over 60 people have been arrested protesting the plant, and they vow to continue the fight. “Since politicians and corporations refuse to take serious action to stop climate change, citizens must step in to shut down coal plants,” said Attila Nemecz. The protest was organized by Asheville Rising Tide and Croatan Earth First! and is part of a national day of action with dozens of protests around the country including Chicago, New York City, Washington DC, and San Francisco.

Directions to site: From I-85 in Greenville, exit onto US 25/ White Horse Rd. Go South on 25 for 2 miles. Left at Augusta Rd. Protest is .5 miles down the road on right.

Press Contact: Liz Veazey  919-627-7324 ashevillerisingtide@gmail.com
Onsite Contact: Attila Nemecz 919-889-1261www.asheville.risingtidenorthamerica.org

Bulletin Announcement/Press Release
Re: Light a Candle for Hope: Prayer Vigil for International Climate Change Meeting in Copenhagen

Sponsored by: New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light in collaboration with Cathedral Church of St. John Episcopal and other faith communities

When: Wednesday, Dec. 2, 5:00-6:30

Where: Gather at Civic Plaza in downtown Albuquerque and walk in candlelight procession to Cathedral Church of St. John  Episcopal, 318 Silver for interfaith prayer vigil(bring your own candle)

Contact for questions: Sr. Joan Brown,osf, New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light, 505-266-6966, joankansas@swcp.com

New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light will join with faith communities Wednesday, December 2 for a “Light a Candle for Hope” prayer vigil for the International Climate Change Meeting in Copenhagen which begins December 7-18.  The vigil will begin at 5:00 with a candlelight procession from Civic Center the Cathedral Church of St. John Episcopal. Participants are invited to bring their own candle to light the 4 block journey that represents our walking as people of faith with brothers and sisters throughout the planet as we enter the meetings in Copenhagen.

An Interfaith Prayer vigil at the Cathedral will involve leaders from various faith traditions and conclude with a blessing of Sr. Joan Brown, osf who is a religious delegate with Franciscans International to the international climate meeting. All are cordially invited to participate. For questions or to become involved in the work of NM Interfaith Power and Light contact info@nm-ipl.org or call 505-266-6966.

PressAdvisory.doc (23 KB)

This post was submitted by Joan Brown.

Mobilization for Climate Justice

For immediate release November 30, 2009

Global Day of Action on Climate Crisis on November 30

On November 30, major demonstrations, teach-ins and civil disobedience actions will take place in nine cities around the U.S.—in Chicago, New York, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Burlington, VT and two cities in Maine, and Washington DC, as well as several other countries—one week before the UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen open, and on the 10th anniversary of the World Trade Organization (WTO) protest in Seattle in 1999. The Mobilization for Climate Justice, a broad and diverse coalition of organizations working for social, environmental, economic and racial justice is calling for urgent action on the global climate crisis, based on equitable, democratic and science-based solutions.

As world leaders gather in Copenhagen, the people hit hardest by this crisis and the least responsible for its cause—working class, Indigenous and people of color communities around the world—have been systematically excluded and are demanding a voice at the table. Meanwhile, the world’s major corporations have been dominating international and domestic climate policy – as they did in the international trade policy arena. Carbon-trading and carbon offset projects have already allowed these polluters to avoid cutting emissions and expand their markets into poor countries, accelerating corporate take-over of the world’s resources at the expense of local and Indigenous communities.
Read the rest of this entry »

Nasa’s James Hansen was the first to point out the perils of climate change
to the US Congress. Here, he begins a heated debate with experts from around
the world, from China to the threatened Maldives, and argues that our leaders
must be shaken out of their complacency. But will they show enough courage at next
week’s Copenhagen summit to take the first steps to saving the planet?

James Hansen
The Observer,
Sunday 29 November 2009

Absolutely. It is possible – if we give politicians a cold, hard slap in the face.
The fraudulence of the Copenhagen approach – “goals” for emission reductions, “offsets”
that render ironclad goals almost meaningless, the ineffectual “cap-and-trade”
mechanism – must be exposed. We must rebel against such politics as usual.
Read the rest of this entry »

papua

A Declaration produced during a recent meeting in Papua demands that “All forms of activities and initiatives for carbon trade and carbon compensation which do not recognize the rights of adat community in land of Papua should be stopped.” From 19-21 November 2009, more than 200 participants attended the Congress, “Save The People and Forests of Papua”, organised by the Papua NGO Cooperation Forum (Foker LSM Papua). People from seven indigenous territories in Papua, Mamberamo Tami, Saireri, Bomberay, Domberay, La Pago, Mee Pago and Anim Ha, took part, including Indigenous Peoples, Religious Leaders and CSO activists.

The main agenda of the Congress was to discuss research carried out by Foker LSM Papua during 2008 and 2009. The research, titled “Save the People and Forests of Papua”, focussed on the relationship between Indigenous Peoples of Papua and their Forests in seven indigenous territories of Papua. Last year, this research resulted in four short films and a foreword:

Read the rest of this entry »

From TomDispatch by Rebecca Solnit

We’ve just passed through a media celebration of the media’s own role in the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, hilariously parodied on The Daily Show recently; and yet, to this day, few in our world grasp that, while walls were tumbling in the Soviet Empire two decades ago, they were also cracking in the American one.  Our “wall” finally began to crumble in the seasonally appropriate fall of 2008, when our economic system went over a cliff.  (You can watch a version of this, or at least a measure of the human pain it caused, via these mapped U.S. unemployment figures, month by month, from January 2004 to September 2009, knowing that the latest numbers are worse yet.) 

There were, of course, no celebrations, no cheering crowds, no cries of freedom then, and 20 years from now reporters will probably not be proudly or nostalgically recounting just where they were and what they were doing in that grim season when our “wall” fell.  Still, it is far clearer today that the Cold War, that decades-long nuclear stand-off between two mighty imperial powers and their minions, militaries, and assorted spooks, had no winner, only losers.  The other loser of the Cold War, so much stronger than the Soviet Union, remains, as in Afghanistan, intensely reluctant to leave the superpower stage.  Nonetheless, you only have to note the anxiety in this country over Obama’s “bow” in Japan or the anxious, critical reporting of his trip to China to see the intensity of the conflict here between denial of, and acknowledgement of, a new American reality in the world.

TomDispatch regular and author of the remarkable A Paradise Built in Hell, Rebecca Solnit is both an early warning system for, and a chronicler of, the sort of change that goes astonishingly unnoticed until it suddenly startles everyone.  Looking forward to the 192-nation Copenhagen climate change conference, due to open on December 7th, where possibilities seem to be receding, even as global warming speeds up, and back at the unexpected upheavals of the last two decades, she offers a typically surprising view of our world and its possibilities.  (Keep in mind, by the way, that while Congress may be dragging its feet on global warming action, the U.S. Navy is already deep into preparations for an “ice-free Arctic” and the conflicts that might arise as soon as ships can float on those increasingly ice-packless waters.)  Tom    

Learning How to Count to 350
Remembering People Power in Seattle in 1999 and Berlin in 1989
By Rebecca Solnit

Next month, at the climate change summit in Copenhagen, the wealthy nations that produce most of the excess carbon in our atmosphere will almost certainly fail to embrace measures adequate to ward off the devastation of our planet by heat and chaotic weather.  Their leaders will probably promise us teaspoons with which to put out the firestorm and insist that springing for fire hoses would be far too onerous a burden for business to bear. They have already backed off from any binding deals at this global summit.  There will be a lot of wrangling about who should cut what when, and how, with a lot of nations claiming that they would act if others would act first.  Activists — farmers, environmentalists, island-dwellers — around the world will try to write a different future, a bolder one, and if anniversaries are an omen, then they have history on their side.

Read the rest of this entry »

Published on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 by The New Internationalist

A new realism has emerged. Climate change is no longer rejected as a bogus theory the economy can ill afford. Instead, it’s a business opportunity

by Oscar Reyes

A flower blooms under a floodlight. It is projected on to a huge
screen, behind a panel of expensively suited executives. A CNN business
correspondent struts up and down a catwalk, excitedly thanking UN
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the ubiquitous Al Gore. The scene of
this corporate love-in? The World Business Summit on Climate Change.

‘The fact that I flew here to sit on a panel for one and a half
hours, then I´m flying straight back to the US, is an example of our
commitment to environmental sustainability,’ boasts Indra Nooyi, CEO of
PepsiCo, blissfully unaware of the irony of her statement. Her fellow
industry representatives make similar claims about just how
energetically they are saving the planet.

This is the new face of the climate business.

Until recently, many of the globe’s biggest corporations were firmly
in the climate change denial camp – and funding spurious research to
back up their claims. Now a new realism has emerged. Climate change is
no longer rejected as a bogus theory the economy can ill afford.
Instead, it’s a business opportunity.

Back in the days of George W Bush, the ostrich-headed faction of US
industry held sway. Companies like ExxonMobil saw no profits in
‘climate solutions’, so opposed any climate legislation. Now, carbon
markets – the buying and selling of the right to pollute – are at the
heart of proposals for a new global deal at the UN Climate Conference
in Copenhagen this December, and the ‘progressive’ wing of big
business, backed by large US-based NGOs, argues that this market-driven
approach is the only way to secure an international emissions
reductions deal.

The problem is, critics say, that carbon markets are delaying
genuine action on climate change, and shifting attention away from the
fundamental task of rapidly phasing out fossil fuels. How did it come
to this?

The ostrich position

Read the rest of this entry »