Word from our friends at Green For All is Senator Bernie Sanders is going to offer an amendment on the floor tomorrow to the economic stimulus package, asking for them to add in full funding of the Green Jobs Act. This Green Jobs Act was included in the 2007 Energy Bill but has yet to be funded.
Tell Congress it's time to "GO GREEN AND GO EQUAL in the stimulus package: fund the Green Jobs Act tomorrow and support the Sanders Amendment!"
If possible, please help spread the word, hit your email lists and encourage everyone you know to call their Senator's DC office as soon as possible, ask to speak with the staff person working on the economic stimulus package, and ask that staff person to support the Sanders Amendment to fully fund the green job workforce training program.
With Focus the Nation events tomorrow across the country (!), here's another idea: bring your cell phone and a list of phone numbers for your state's Senator's offices to your Focus the Nation event! Grab people who are jazzed up from Focus and tell them they have a chance to help create thousands of new green collar jobs... all they have to do is take two minutes to call their Senator from your phone (or there's) right now! Just an idea... Time is (very) short, so seize the opportunity and get on the phone!
Here's the skinny:
1. Call your Senator's DC office. Contact info available here...
2. Ask to speak with the Staff person working on the Economic Stimulus Package
3. Ask for your senator to support the Sanders Amendment to fully fund the green job workforce training program.
On a related note: the Senate has included extensions of critical clean energy incentives in their version of the Stimulus Package, heading to the floor tomorrow. If we get the Green Jobs Act funded, we'll have a clean, green stimulus that'll help us on a path to a sustainable, just, and prosperous future! Spread the word!
Green For All!
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Word from our friends at Green For All is Senator Bernie Sanders is going to offer an amendment on the floor tomorrow to the economic stimulus package, asking for them to add in full funding of the Green Jobs Act. This Green Jobs Act was included in the 2007 Energy Bill but has yet to be funded.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
At some point, I'm going to turn this into a longer and better linked post, but this has got to be said. Right now. Again.
The worst thing, the most depressing thing, about global warming, isn't the melting ice cap or the short time horizon. It certainly isn't the current state of our technological advancement or knowledge, which is largely sufficient to the problem. It's the stupidity, inactivity, timidity, shortsightedness and fecklessness of humanity's ruling elites. Really. That's why I think the proper way to refer to it is as a suicide pact, because it's both deliberate and avoidable.
Consider that we've got at present tremendous financial liquidity. The environmentally unsustainable suburbs are emptying out like mad due to wave on wave of foreclosures and debt-ridden consumers mailing their keys to the bank. There's also a large reserve labor force of unemployed, underemployed, and discouraged workers. Fuel is becoming more expensive, but is still cheap and abundant enough that it could be put to use setting the country on a path towards sustainability. Altered land use is one of the largest causes of climate change, and industrialization, deforestation, suburbanization, and a mad paving craze have been exacerbating every single (very expensive) climate-related problem. These crises are making our current system unsustainable, pushing us into financial meltdown in the US and destabilizing world markets, which is going to have the inevitable result of decreasing this society's ability to well address even one of these problems, let alone all of them at once. All together though, I think these issues could solve each other.
Shorter, the scenario: We have a lot of money, people, recently available land, and resources. This is not always going to be true, and if society were better governed, it would be seized as a golden opportunity for positive change rather than an excuse for more of the same.
But what, what, I ask you, is the solution that our brilliant leaders are putting on the table as a necessary part of 'the mix' of fixes? Nuclear power. Which takes years to get online, is unreliable in drought conditions such as those predicted in all the global warming scenarios, is fabulously expensive, and can't be supported in any wise by an open market solution even though it's a fairly mature technology.
So please understand, in all ways, that the greatest tragedy of global warming, this very serious and urgent climate crisis, is inaction. Is a belief in human powerlessness in the face of a problem we ourselves had the power to create. Is the blinkered moronicity that allows leaders to make decisions exactly as if money were edible. Is the trap within which the public is caught that makes it difficult to have the time and resources to do more than buy what they're offered and try to chill out a little bit every evening by the flickering glow of reality television.
And in that frustration, there's the seed of hope. We did this to ourselves. We can't change the inexorable laws of physics that are destabilizing our weather. Yet we can change each other's minds and willingness to act, we can help each other find the way out.
"If one thing could be different, everything could be different." - G.I. Gurdjieff
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Calling all Northwest youth climate activists: don't miss Cascade POWER SHIFT: Mobilizing Youth for Climate Justice, Feb 8-11, Eugene, Oregon!
February 8th-11th, hundreds of Northwest youth will converge on Eugene, Oregon for the Cascade POWER SHIFT summit before storming their state capitols for Cascade Climate Network Citizen Action Day!
Organized by the Cascade Climate Network (with help from friends!), Cascade POWER SHIFT will bring together hundreds of Northwest youth for a weekend focused on solutions to the climate crisis and efforts to build a sustainable, just, and prosperous future for all.
Cascade POWER SHIFT will feature informative panels, skill-building workshops, kick-offs for exciting climate action campaigns, Citizen Action Days in Salem and Olympia and a chance to connect with hundreds of other Northwest students and youth working for a sustainable, just, and prosperous future!
Cascade POWER SHIFT will kick-off the evening of Friday Feb 8th with exciting keynotes and conclude Sunday evening, Feb 10th (click here for an agenda). The weekend summit will be followed on Monday Feb 11th by Citizen Action Days in Salem and Olympia to help push for climate victories in the state legislatures of Oregon and Washington in 2008.
Cascade POWER SHIFT will be held on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene, Oregon. Transportation scholarships and car pool options are available.
It is time! We HAVE to come together, show solidarity, and take ACTION on the climate crisis NOW if we want to thwart a world of greed, hostility, and war and create a world of sustainability, justice and prosperity for all.
Come. Get inspired, get connected, and get active!
REGISTER TODAY and make sure you don't miss Cascade POWER SHIFT 2008!
To register, head to http://cascadeclimate.org/PowerShift/ today. See you in Eugene!
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
You’re thinking, “If only we could get Congress to actually pass some of these policies…” We won’t stop until they do! So far Focus the Nation teams have invited more than 150 members of Congress to participate in dialogs on global warming solutions. 30 Congressional offices have confirmed so far, and we’re getting more every day. Check out who’s coming to Focus the Nation and what’s happening around the country.
The Focus the Nation Choose Your Future Vote is now officially open. “Build Green: Carbon Neutral by 2030” is out to an early lead with “Create Green Jobs” and “Invest in Clean Energy” close behind. What solutions do you want to see? Vote on your top five solutions now!
In other exciting news, Edward Norton will make an appearance on the 2% Solution web-cast along with Senator Bill Nelson and Governor Crist of Florida, Governor Napolitano of Arizona, Van Jones, Hunter Lovins and Stephen Schneider. Check out the trailer with Ed Norton and if you haven’t already, sign up to host a screening in your community.
Wait, there’s more: Project Slingshot, a partnership between Clif Mojo and Focus the Nation, is offering $10,000 scholarships in three categories – Outdoor Fanatics protecting the places they love and play, Artists inspiring their communities, and Innovators challenging our expectations. You all fall in to one of these categories, so apply now!Read more!
Monday, January 21, 2008
[Guest post by Billy Parish]
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was in Memphis 40 years ago, where he was assassinated, to help support the long struggle of the city's sanitation workers for decent jobs and dignity. He was also speaking out against the Vietnam War, organizing a Poor People's March on Washington, and crafting an Economic Bill of Rights, calling for massive government jobs programs to rebuild America's cities. In Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community, the last book he released before he was killed, he wrote:
There is a need for a radical restructuring of the architecture of American society ... Our economy must become more person-centered than property-and profit-centered. ... Let us, therefore, not think of our movement as one that seeks to integrate the Negro into all the existing values of American society. Let us be those creative dissenters who call our beloved nation to a higher destiny.Today, the struggles for economic and racial justice must merge with the struggle to stop global warming. Its worst effects will be visited on the poor, and the great economic opportunity a clean energy future offers should be shared fairly with them. Equal protection and equal opportunity was what King demanded in the 1960s. We should be demanding the same today.
Cross-posted from Grist...
As Congress prepares a giant Economic Stimulus package -- up to $150 billion in emergency spending -- and George W. Bush suggests that it be more tax cuts for the rich, there is no better way to honor Dr. King's memory and continue his struggle than to demand that Congress offer stimulus that is green and economically just. Click here to send a message to your member of Congress:
In considering your economic stimulus package, please work to ensure that all proposed tax cuts and direct spending promote a clean energy economy and opportunities for poor and working class people. Through strategic investments in energy efficiency, mass transit and a Clean Energy Corps, we can not only avoid short-term recession, but also put hundreds of thousands of people to work and create a secure economic and environmental future for all Americans.An ad hoc group of leaders from Van Jones of Green for All to Gillian Caldwell from 1Sky to Joel Rogers from the Center for State Innovation and Jessy Tolkan from the Energy Action Coalition has been working to develop more forward-thinking ideas for stimulus and pressure key members of Congress to build them into the plan. They could use your support.
See also previous post: "Can MLK's Dream be Reborn in the Economic Stimulus Package?"
Sunday, January 20, 2008
When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated forty years ago in Memphis, he was calling for a campaign that would unite the poor and working classes of all races behind a shared economic future. Today, with ever increasing income gaps, rising oil prices, rapid climate change, expanding outsourcing, and economic instability, Dr. King's dream is as necessary as ever.
As we honor King's life and vision tomorrow, it's time for his dream to be reborn, not only to meet the still-lingering challenges from his time but also the unique challenges of ours.
Today, as Congress prepares a giant Economic Stimulus Package, there is no better way to honor Dr. King’s memory and continue his struggle than to demand that Congress go green and go equal in the stimulus.
The economic stimulus package could simply go towards short-term consumer spending that may temporarily prop up our economy, or it could help lay the foundation of prolonged economic prosperity. We could invest in new iPhones or in a sustainable, just, and prosperous energy future. It's up to Congress now to decide which.
Cross-posted at DailyKos...
While crafting a national stimulus package, Congress should develop policy measures that not only help keep our economy out of recession in the short-term, but also make smart investments in longer-term, sustained economic prosperity by moving our nation towards a clean energy economy that provides employment opportunities for all Americans.
In addressing America's current economic difficulties, we have a unique opportunity to not only avoid a recession, but also to address one of the root causes of our current economic woes: high energy prices and our dependence on dirty and depleting fossil fuels. We have an opportunity to act boldly to strengthen American energy independence, invest in the clean, sustainable energy sources that will form the foundation of a new era of economic prosperity, and take aim at global warming - all while putting hundreds of thousands of Americans to work.
More specifically, Congress should ensure that all tax cuts and direct spending measures promote a clean energy economy that provides economic opportunities for all Americans, including the poor and working class. This would mean, for example:
By increasing national energy efficiency, reducing out-of-pocket energy spending, and creating employment opportunities, the measures above will meet basic stimulus goals while furthering national objectives of climate protection, energy security, and economic equity. This year's stimulus package offers the unique opportunity to advance all these aims, and we encourage you to seize it.
A new clean energy economy must provide equal opportunity and equal protection for all. Dr. King was working towards this dream when he was killed. Let us come together now to continue his unfinished work and create a more sustainable, just, and prosperous America. Help spread the word and put pressure on Congress to focus on solutions to the recession that also achieve longer-term economic prosperity, equal opportunity and a sustainable energy economy.
Let the Dream be Reborn!
[Image source: MLKOnline.net]
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Today the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming held a hearing: "On thin ice: the future of the polar bear." The room was full, and there was a fairly good turnout of at least eight Congressmen and women. Children were among those in attendance, their eyes wide as they absorbed the strong words that flew from all sides of the room. Some "polar bears" even made an appearance, positioning themselves for coverage on C-SPAN and holding up signs.
Chairman Markey called the hearing today to press the Department of the Interior about its decision to delay the listing of the polar bear as threatened -- under the Endangered Species Act -- for up to one month, and to simultaneously offer up almost 30 million acres of the Chukchi Sea -- the polar bear's habitat -- for oil and gas lease sales on Feb. 6, before the decision is made. The hearing also provided a forum to learn more about the plight of the polar bear and the potential impacts drilling could have on polar bear populations. Markey called this hearing because people are paying attention; several editorials have been run in major papers in the US (Washington Post, NYTimes, LATimes, etc) regarding the status of this iconic species and our reckless oil habit - - the situation will not continue quietly if such pressure continues. If listed, the polar bear's protection would be linked to the impacts of global warming -- a first in history.
Throughout the course of the hearing it became OVERWHELMINGLY clear that the science surrounding the status of the polar bear is unequivocal. The threats posed to this great creature are tangible, quantifiable and ever increasing as we emit more global warming pollution each day. Congressman Inslee (D-WA) put it the best when he said that the polar bear is the largest canary in the largest coal mine regarding the future of our planet. And it is only with willful ignorance and habitual arrogance that we choose to ignore science for a temporary oil fix from the newly opened northern seas. Not only is drilling in the Chukchi Sea devastating for wildlife, it does nothing to help us move away from our addiction to oil.
Randall Luthi, Director of the Minerals Management Service, spoke in defense of the Chukchi Sea oil and gas lease sale, and Dale Hall, Director of US FWS, spoke in defense of the decision delay. Mr. Hall's own agency received scientific reports which concluded that two-thirds of the polar bears would disappear because of shrinking sea ice by mid-century if steps are not taken to curtail global warming. What additional science does Mr. Hall require, when making the decision about the polar bear? These men offered weak testimony, and attempted to dodge every single direct question posed to them by Congressmen, including questions of oil spill risk and whether the leases would really just be another handoff to the oil and gas industry. Hall further declined to offer Markey any assurance that the decision on whether to list the bear under the Endangered Species Act will occur before the scheduled oil & gas lease sales.
The Department of the Interior is currently allowing our hunger and thirst for oil to surpass all other forms of human value. Dirk Kempthorne - the Secretary of the Interior - has the worst record in history regarding listing species as endangered; he has gone more than 617 days without designating an endangered species, longer than any previous Secretary. His lack of action is not due to a lack of species' needs.
Congressman Markey stated that he will be introducing legislation to delay the Chukchi Sea lease sale until after a decision regarding the polar bear is made...
The bottom line is that Dirk Kempthorne has the power to postpone the oil and gas lease sale decision until after Mr. Hall makes his decision regarding the polar bear. He needs to do this, and he will only do this if enough public attention, and pressure is applied. So please speak up!
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
The polar bear was once the world’s most formidable predator. It now lies on the brink of extinction due to global warming and habitat loss. The bear and its habitat stand to gain some protections under the Endangered Species Act this year, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was due to make a decision about its "threatened" status by this Wednesday. The Service has, however, delayed the listing for up to one month!
This leaves the bear and its habitat unprotected. Coincidentally, one of the largest oil and gas lease sales is set to occur on February 6, in the Chukchi Sea off of the northwest coast of Alaska – a region we will pay more and more attention to as our world warms and the sea opens up for potential large-scale exploration, I mean preservation… The Department of the Interior’s Minerals Management Service announced its plan to offer oil and gas exploration rights in February to 29.7 million acres in the remote Chukchi Sea off the northwest Alaskan coast. There are about 16,000 polar bears in the region. Such exploration would further stress the polar bear, and does nothing for our movement toward a clean energy future.
Both the decision to list the polar bear, and the decision to delay the oil and gas lease sale in the
Friday, January 04, 2008
On Thursday, the nation's attention was on Iowa. There have been hundreds of reports about the results of the Iowa Democratic caucuses, but I want to let you in on some details that were not highlighted in the Associated Press.
The point of the caucus is to decisively choose a candidate. While this seems like a fairly obvious statement, the key word there is "decisively."
The caucus allows people to vote for any candidate they please and if that candidate is not viable, they can switch their support to a candidate who is. (Here's a little Cacucus 101: a viable candidate is one who receives at least 15% of the supporters in any given precinct.) When a candidate is not viable, caucus rules require voters to switch to a viable candidate. While this gives many voters the warm fuzzy feeling of voting their conscience while not wasting their vote, it also tends to eliminate those candidates. What support the second tier candidates may have had among voters in the first round of the caucus is not reflected in the final results.
So although the numbers reported Senators Joe Biden, Chris Dodd and Rep. Dennis Kucinich all with less than 1% of support in the caucus, this is not because people didn't caucus for them or think they would be the best candidate. It is that they did not garner 15% of the vote in most precincts and were not allotted delegates. At my precinct, Biden had the highest amount of support outside the top three, with 7% of the voters in the first round, which is fairly close to recent polling results. However, he could not reach that 15% viability, so he did not receive any delegates. The final results reflect the number of delegates, not the level of support for each candidates. Gov. Bill Richardson left the caucus with 2% of the support. This is because he was viable (received 15% of the caucus-goers support) in enough districts to receive 2% of the delegates, not that he only received support from 2% of the voters. The fact that the caucus eliminates the second or third tier candidates is part of the design to be decisive. However, it tends to also eliminate these candidates from the national race since other states tend to follow Iowa's lead.
The delegate system distorts levels of support. In order to find the candidate whom the largest percentage of the state supports, each viable candidate is some of the delegates allocated to each precinct. However, just because a candidate is viable does not mean that they receive a proportional number of delegates. The number of delegates each precinct can allocate is based on turnout, and in Iowa this year this ranged from 1 to 17 delegates per precinct. Where the number of viable candidates was larger than the number of delegates, the delegates went to the candidates with the largest support. Where the number of viable candidates was smaller than the number of delegates, any viable candidate received at least one delegate.
In my precinct, we could allocate 4 delegates. Only three candidates (Obama, Edwards and Clinton) became viable by the end of the night. If the delegates were distributed evenly, each candidate would have needed a quarter of the support. Yet because of viability, all three were guaranteed at least one delegate, and the level of support needed to get that last delegate would have needed to reach 50% support. Obama had far more than 50% of the voters in the room, so he won that last delegate. This almost did not happen.
A group of supporters for the eliminated second-tier candidates attempted to band together in an undecided block, hoping to get an "undecided delegate," in which case they would have decided among themselves who the delegate would be and which candidate he or she would support. If they had succeeded in becoming viable, which they nearly did, they would have taken that last delegate, even though by the numbers Obama still had over 50% of the support. Had they each received one delegate, Obama's 50% + support would have appeared equal to Edwards, Clinton and the undecided's 15-19% support.
The caucus system intentionally creates an amplifier effect. Most people think that the Iowa caucus finished on Thursday. This is incorrect. Once the delegates are determined by precinct, they meet on the county level to determine the levels of support for the candidates at the county level. Each county is allotted a certain number of delegates according to their population. Once the county support is redefined, the county delegates go on to the Congressional district level, redefine their support and from there go to the national convention.* This means that even though Richardson received 2% of the delegates across the state, it is essentially impossible for him to maintain any of that support all the way to the national convention. While the amplifier effect through the delegates generally produces a decisive winner, the allocation of delegates at the precinct level distorts the results.
The impact of the Iowa caucuses go far beyond numbers (and I apologize to all you math-phobes if this post was heavy on the numbers). They ignore the support small candidates receive, which resulted in both Dodd and Biden dropping out Thursday night. They reflect the level of engagement and interest of the general public as a preview of what is to come in November (higher turnout in the caucus will almost certainly result in higher turnout in the general election). And even though the numbers are distorted and the process is not perfect, the caucuses ultimately determine district-wide support and set the tone for the country.
In this display of participatory politics (I won't call it participatory democracy, since it is still governed by party affiliation and rules), the voting public interacts with each other, engages in debate and discussion and in general feels a greater sense of personal empowerment than checking a box on a piece of paper does. People enter into discussion about the candidates, their policies and political philosophies. Nowhere else have I seen this level of discourse throughout such a broad section of the population (though my personal travels have been somewhat limited). Sure the caucus system is flawed as is the first-in-the-nation status, and I'm not sure that I prefer it to primaries. Nonetheless it has made politics in Iowa an entirely unique and interesting process.
*If I got any of the details incorrect, please forgive me. I am not an expert on party rules, but I believe I captured the essence of the process.
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
In response to the United States Environmental Protection Agency's rejection of California's application for a waiver to regulate the tailpipe emissions on vehicles, California, five environmental non-profit organizations and fifteen other states are suing the EPA.
Joining California are the states of Massachusetts, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington in one lawsuit and Conservation Law Foundation, Environmental Defense, the International Center for Technology Assessment, the Natural Resources Defense Counsel and the Sierra Club in a separate suit. Both suits are filed with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, CA.
So while the Supreme Court has ruled that the EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, the EPA now claims that the only way we should regulate emissions is through a national plan. EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson stated that the increase in fuel economy that President Bush signed into law will be better than "patchwork" state regulations, even though the combination of both would would be far stronger than anything the Bush administration has proposed.
It seems like the only way to get anywhere with the Bush administration EPA is to sue them to force them to do the right thing. Well, it's a new year and a new lawsuit. Let's keep it going and we may even have the emissions standards in place for 2009, the first model year that the standards affect.
(LTE Published in The Christian Science Monitor Dec 21)
Regarding the Dec. 18 book review, "Newt Gingrich explains why red staters must turn green": I am heartened to see this article (and Mr. Gingrich) touch on the need for cooperation on global-warming policy.
Unfortunately, the political status quo cannot and will not address greenhouse- gas emissions enough to prevent the worst-case scenarios. Never before has an issue required collective action on the scale this emergency demands, and never before has our country been so divided and unable to cooperate. The scientific evidence rolling in is daunting, but I have hope.
The technologies and policies to stop global warming, grow a green economy, and lift people out of poverty already exist. What's missing is the political will in
As a parent, I urge all concerned citizens, journalists, and politicians to help us focus on global-warming solutions together.Read more!
It's finally happened: $100-per-barrel oil is no longer some looming specter, just a dark possibility used by Peak Oilers to frighten little chillun's into driving less.
As we welcome in 2008, the specter of $100 oil has gone from pernicious possibility to fact-of-life reality as oil prices touched $100 per barrel today on NYMEX.
Of course, oil prices didn't stay at $100 for long before the fell back into the "comfortable" $90s.
But consider this: when this blog started in summer 2005, oil prices were trading around $55 dollars, already up about 100% from the $20-30 price range oil hovered at between 2000-2004.
2006 started with oil prices trading around $60/barrel and by the beginning of 2007, prices had topped $75 before falling back down to around $60 to welcome in the new year.
Of course, the brief fall in prices would be just that - brief - and oil prices climbed steadily in 2007, inching towards record-setting heights seemingly every day.
On October 19th, 2007, oil prices topped the $90-per-barrel mark for the first time in history before falling back into the $80s. Crude oil prices jumped by 28 percent just between August and October 2007.
By year's end, $90-per-barrel oil seemed pretty normal and it was only a matter of time before the $100 threshold was breeched. Well, today, our time is up as oil hit exactly $100.00/barrel today on NYMEX before receding into the high $90s.
$100/barrel is clearly a record in nominal prices, but it's also pretty close to - if not exceeding - the inflation-adjusted record price as well. Depending on the adjustment, $38 barrel of oil in 1980, the previous inflation-adjusted record price, would be worth somewhere between $96 to $101 in today's dollars. We're entering uncharted territory in oil prices now.
Anyone want to wager on where oil prices will be by the end of 2008? If so, place your bets in the comments section here (and for a more lucrative prize: a bottle of champagne to the victor I believe, check out this running contest at Jerome a Paris' DailyKos dairy).
[A hat tip to Jerome a Paris at DailyKos]