Friday, November 30, 2012

How to Start a Movement

This Ted talk is great.  And I love the summary:

"The biggest lesson is that leadership is was really the first follower that transformed the lone nut into a leader....If you really care about starting a movement, have the courage to follow and show others to follow.  And when you find a lone nut doing something great, have the courage to stand up and join in."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Chasing Ice Director Makes Poignant Comparison Between the U.S. Ending Slavery and the Need to Stop Climate Change

Chasing Ice Director Jeff Orlowski
I had an amazing afternoon in Denver today.  First I went to see Lincoln, then I went to a screening of Chasing Ice where the director, Jeff Orlowski appeared in person for a Q&A after the film.  He made a direct comparison between Lincoln ending slavery and our current need to divorce ourselves from fossil fuels in order to create a more ethical economic model:

"We're facing a similar turning-point to what our country went through a hundred-something years ago (147), when we were using slavery as a form of our economic model.  That was the machine that drove the country economically.  We had companies, industries, that were based on free labor, and we had a debate in this country that cost 600,000 American lives over whether or not this was an ethical thing for us to continue doing. And, ultimately, we made the decision that we were going to move away from this policy that we felt was immoral, and we will deal with the economic consequences, and we are going to shift to something that we really believe in and we can proudly move forward.  I believe that future generations are going to look back at this era with that same mindset, that same perspective.  Just like we look back at slavery.  They're going to say 'The science was clear.  It was known.  It was obvious'...

"We don't want the film to be considered a left vs. right debate.  The issue is not a political issue.  It's been politicized, but this should be an apolitical issue and we really want to embrace bi-partisan support...."

One other thing, Orlowski said before the Q&A that he felt like everything he'd done in his life had led him to make this movie.  That's the thing about working to save our planet's life-support system.  Once you hurl yourself into it, everything that came before suddenly makes a whole lot of sense.  Such is the genius of devoting oneself to a cause so much bigger than ourselves.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Chasing Ice: The Best Way Yet to Break Through to Deniers?

An image from the movie Chasing Ice.
If you haven't seen the movie Chasing Ice yet, see it.  It follows photographer James Balog's quest to capture, mostly through time-lapse photography, the melting of the world's glaciers.

Yesterday, I came across this video on the site Upworthy, showing an interview with a Bill O'Reilly-loving Fox News fanatic who had just seen the film.  Clearly, she had undergone a conversion in the 90 minutes it took to watch the film.

I'd bet that the place where the film got her was when Balog was discussing how he himself had been a climate skeptic until he started studying the ice cores, with their trapped air bubbles, that gave accurate readings of the planet's atmospheric conditions in pre-historic times.  A graph came on screen, showing the relationship between CO2 in the atmosphere and temperature swings over the past 800,000 years.  When CO2 went up the temperatures followed, when it went down temperatures dipped, over and over again consistently through the millennia.  At the end of the graph we reached the past hundred years, where for the first time CO2 levels shot high off the chart.

Other graphs tackled the skeptic's argument that some glaciers are actually expanding.  Balog says, yes, it's true, but the proportion of glaciers expanding set against those receding were minuscule.  And forget the comforting notion that glaciers advance again in the winter months, they're receding even then.

The film builds to a stunning scene near the end where Balog's camera crew records the dramatic collapse of an area of ice the size of lower Manhattan (except the buildings are three times as tall) in the shocking span of 75 minutes.

Rewatching the trailer just now, I was struck by a moment where Balog says "All of that obsession means nothing if it doesn't work".  Same with the climate movement.  This better work.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Climate Monday - The Need for an EVERY DAY Movement

In November of 2010, a climate ally of mine went to the fantastically-named (NOT!) "Pricing Carbon Conference" in Connecticut. The usual leaders of the climate movement were panelists, and over a long weekend conference-goers were continually hammered with just how bad this looming catastrophe will be.

On Sunday afternoon questions were opened to the audience, and a young woman got up and said "I get it!  I can see how serious this is!  I'm ready to do whatever it takes to stop this!  But what can I do?  Where can I go?  Where can I go MONDAY?"

The panelists had no answer.

This movement will never get anywhere unless people start devoting themselves to this FULL TIME.  Lots of people can--retirees, young people who haven't yet joined the workforce or who have parents who can support them (don't scoff, the 8 leaders of Serbia's Otpor, who led a movement that overthrew a dictator, were all twenty-somethings who were supported by their parents during the two-year struggle), unemployed and under-employed people, professionals who can take a sabbatical, etc.

Even if, like most people, you can't work on this full-time, you can devote evenings and weekends to the cause!

Nothing is more important, guys!  Let's not look back on this in the decades to come (which should be increasingly dire if the climate continues to precipitously unravel) and think "What was I thinking?!"

Otpor's leaders decided that they had to do this full-time.  They also quickly learned there always had to be something to do or people would stop showing up.  So as a movement we should appreciate what they were able to accomplish and learn from their success!

There's much to be done, of course, but it's all doable and there are templates out there (which I'll be sharing in future posts) that will help us pull this off.

But don't think you can just sit back and wait for President Obama or Bill McKibben to do this.  Part of why they're not pushing for immediate action is they require a vibrant and active movement to make change happen, and we haven't got that yet.  So YOU have to get serious and take matters into your own hands!  Open up your home, find a donated office space, join or create a MeetUp group, or whatever, to start a local nonviolent campaign where activists can create a kick-ass community where there's always something to do and people are always pushing nonviolently to save our futures.

So hopefully soon, when people ask "Where can I go and what can I do?", you can tell them "Come to our place, we have plenty of stuff to do!"


Saturday, November 24, 2012

RNC Flashback: If Puppets are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Puppets!

When we Pissed-Off Polar Bears arrived in Tampa a big part of the plan was to protest using Pete the Pissed-Off Polar Bear.  We were all ready to go on the first day of the convention, but suddenly found a news story about how puppets had been outlawed in Tampa's "event zones" during the convention.

We made the most of it and immediately flew into creative action, making this video.

The whole thing turned out to be a non-issue.  We took the puppet into the streets in front of thousands of police, military, and security agents and  never had a problem!

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Most Effective Climate Activist, by Far, Keeps Ramping it Up

Just read an article about how a group of professors from Columbia University are urging immediate political action on climate change in the next 6-12 months because "Memory fades very fast".

I agree.  I was appalled by how, after the brutal, unprecedented heat of the summer, climate change again fell completely off the map during the campaign season.

And urgent action is critical, but not because people will soon forget about hurricane Sandy (which they more or less will, as they did with Katrina), it's critical because if we don't stop climate change in a hurry it could well become too late to undo it (which of course it might already be, but we don't know that, so let's push for urgent action).

But the thing I'm coming to understand is, Mother Nature will not be backing off anytime soon.  After the unbelievably warm winter and spring we had last year, it was pretty obvious to me we were about to have a ridiculously hot summer, and of course we did.  Then, of course, that was followed by the Frankenstorm Sandy.

And with all these events, more and more people believe in climate change, more and more political will is built up.

The climate movement did next-to-nothing during the campaign season.  We Pissed-Off Polar Bears were determined to make it a major issue in the election, so we protested at both political conventions and all three presidential debates, but were shocked that the movement at large wasn't there with us to force the issue.  The media wouldn't cover it, the politicians wouldn't talk about it, and as the campaign wound down it became more and more apparent that this election would be a lost opportunity.

But then Mother Nature, the greatest climate activist of all, made her voice heard yet again.  Hurricane Sandy put climate change on the map days before the election.  Climate change was the October Surprise.

With the heat and drought and fires, Mother Nature did more for climate awareness than anyone in the movement last summer.  Then she stepped it up again with Hurricane Sandy.  I think the Columbia professors are underestimating her.  People may "forget" Sandy's impact over the coming months, but catastrophic weather isn't going to end with Sandy.  Not by a long shot.  Mother Nature is going to remind us and remind us and remind us again.  The public will not have the luxury of forgetting about climate change.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks for the Earth – While We Still Have It

Everyone who’s ever lived has  been blessed by a gift greater than anything anyone’s ever wished for,  without which we simply wouldn’t be here.  And that’s the beautiful Earth that sustains us.  Our ancestors worshipped this, to them the Earth was sacred, the wind, the water, and all of life.  They were fully aware of the miracle that they lived in the middle of.  

Now we live in a time where the Earth is almost a prop, something we exploit for our convenience but that we really don’t think that much about.  We certainly don’t worship it.  

And yet, imagine, what if it all went away?  They say that perhaps there was a time life could have existed on Mars, what if one day there comes a time when life once lived on Earth?  There’s no guarantee that this rock hurtling through space is going to remain a place suitable for life, let alone home to the perfect conditions of the Holocene Epoch that have fostered the growth of civilization from the Fertile Crescent to the present day.

This is such a gift we’ve inherited, such a miracle.  Let’s revere it again.  Let’s fight to keep it healthy and whole.   Let’s put our priorities in the right place.  Money and markets attract far more of our attention, and far more of our care, than the Earth.  That’s not only misguided, it’s crazy.

Let’s give thanks for the Earth, and do whatever we can to make sure that future generations will be able to do the same.  And who knows, maybe if we do it well enough, our descendants will give thanks for us too.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Earth Guardians, the Best Climate Organization for Youth, Need Funding for a Big Idea!

What I love about the Earth Guardians is they're ALWAYS fighting the climate fight.  Whenever I've swung by their house in Boulder, they are always planning for a demonstration, on their way to a demonstration, or rehearsing a rap show to deliver at their next demonstration.  They've gathered an amazing band of kids who meet regularly and are always involved in activism.  Always.  Recently they've been major players in fracking protests in Colorado.

These kids are in the movement for all the right reasons: to save their future.  They haven't and won't give up on their planet.  As long as there's a chance to save Mother Earth they will fight to keep her healthy.  They "believe" and they are committed to realize their vision.

They also believe in giving other kids autonomy to create their own movements with their own ideas, which is a lot more empowering and fun than being told what to do.  Their message is to get young people "to go out and be leaders of their own Green Revolution".

They've started a fundraiser on Indiegogo to help create little Earth Guardian hubs around the world.  This is the youth organization in the movement that has the right idea: they're constantly working, constantly engaged in activism (rather than groups who raise money so they can once-a-year organize something that gets kids worked up, only to have nothing for the kids to do next, which dissipates the kids' new-found passion into nothing, and actually serves to make kids dejected and cynical).

Earth Guardians need money to implement their effective model in other places.  Please help them out!  They need funds to realize their vision.  It will be money well spent, I can guarantee it!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What We're Talking About When We Talk About Nonviolent Struggle

What we’re facing here is what is called an “acute conflict”.  Acute conflicts are not open to compromise. Politics as usual works best on compromise.  But global warming is not something where compromise is going to work.  We need to make the fossil fuel industry give up on it’s basic business model.  They have to stop forcing us to use the kind of energy that puts heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere (and further seals our doom).  This has to end.  There’s no nice way around it.  That’s why we need a very effective and very determined nonviolent strategy.

When I first started studying nonviolent struggle, I was surprised to learn that it was actually a means of last resort.  You were supposed to exhaust every other avenue of solving the problem before you employ the drastic technique of nonviolent action.  

People don’t really understand what you mean when you say “nonviolence”.  They think it means “Oh, they’re peaceful, isn’t that sweet,” and underneath that they think “They’re naive.  They won’t be effective.  They’re wasting their time.”  So. when I read that nonviolence should only be undertaken as a means of last resort, I couldn’t help but think “Huh?!  How could something that harmless be a means of last resort?”

Well the truth is nonviolent struggle is scrappy and aggressive.  It’s a very confrontational way of engaging an opponent.  It’s not about being nice, it’s not about being passive, and it often requires activists to put themselves in harm’s way.

You do nonviolent action because it’s the fastest, most effective way to get what you need to get done done.

Violence doesn’t work.  When you’re taking on an opponent that has all the machinery of the state behind it, you’re taking on opponents who have the police and the military there to defend it (to say nothing of all the private security forces that money can buy), so any attempt at violence would quickly result in defeat.

Sabotage doesn’t work either.  Basically nonviolent struggles are popularity contests with the public as the judge.  So if your side commits actions that cast your side in a bad light, you’re harming your cause.  

In nonviolent struggle you have to be really smart and careful about what you do.

There are a lot of organizations in the climate movement, and all but one that I can think of are committed to “nonviolence” (Deep Green Resistance put out a book a couple years ago that advocated secrecy and sabotage, which are both no-no’s when it comes to nonviolent action).   But, with only a couple very recent exceptions, the movement hasn’t applied a systematic nonviolent strategy to it’s actions.  (I worked with one organization who never had time to work out an overall strategy, they were always frantically consumed with the very next action – as a means to grow their membership.  That was their goal for the year:  Grow membership.  Not Stop Global Warming.)

You need a strategy, a carefully thought-out strategy.  You need activists that are really committed to doing this.  And you need people with a deep understanding of how nonviolent struggle works.  That’s one of our main goals with this blog.

Gandhi believed nonviolent struggle was a means of matching forces.  This movement needs to create a playing field where we are in a position of advantage that our opponents cannot break.   

Monday, November 19, 2012

McKibben Leads Group of Keystone XL Protesters on March Around White House

Environmental activists protest against the Keystone XL pipeline on 18 November 2012. Photograph:
Yesterday Bill McKibben's led a group of marchers around the White House, hoping to renew pressure on President Obama to block the Keystone pipeline.  The Guardian wrote this piece about the protest.

I was most impressed by the fact that the march was only planned ten days ago.  Probably they needed to see who would be president before they could plan it.  But they didn't let the timeline stop them.  I've met organizers who insist that it takes six months to plan an event, which is fine, and I'm sure if had been calling for this since May they would have had more than 3,000 people at yesterday's event.  But, hey, they had 3,000 people at yesterday's event!  That's awesome.

McKibben is always writing about how amazed he gets at the response he gets to his initiatives.  I'm not.  PEOPLE WANT TO SAVE THE WORLD ALREADY!  For awhile it seemed like whenever McKibben said "Jump", people would respond "How high?" and he'd put his index finger and thumb about an inch apart and say "This high".  Clearly that's changing, but I still wish he'd push harder.

I think people would do a LOT more if he asked.  I think we could have had a huge impact on the November elections, and certainly could have forced the crisis into the discussion during the presidential debates.

Those of us who get how serious this crisis is know how little time we have.  We all should ramp up our sense of urgency.

Still, though, major kudos to Bill McKibben and the 350 team!



Sunday, November 18, 2012

Pete's 1st Podcast/Vlog: The Climate Movement Needs to Nut Up!

Pete the Pissed-Off Polar Bear's first message, about the climate movement and how it needs to change!

(Pete intends to do this every Sunday, and hopefully in the future with pictures, but the bottom line is to post something funny, even if it's just a video podcast!)


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Naomi Klein to Bill Moyers: "If This is an Emergency, We Have to Act Like it"

Last night Naomi Klein sat down with Bill Moyers for the first half hour of Moyers and Company.  The whole piece is worth watching, and the transcript is included with the link, but the definite take-home of the segment is Naomi's summation:

"I don't mean to beat up on the big environmental groups, because they do fantastic work. But I think that part of the reason why public opinion on this issue has been so shaky is that it doesn't really add up to say to the public, you know, "This is a huge problem. It's Armageddon." You know, you have “Inconvenient Truth.” You scare the hell out of people. But then you say, "Well, the solution can be very minor. You can change your light bulb. And we'll have this complicated piece of legislation called cap and trade that you don't really understand, but that basically means that companies here can keep on polluting, but they're going to trade their carbon emissions. And, you know, somebody else is going to plant trees on the other side of the planet and they'll get credits."

And people look at that going, "Okay, if this was a crisis, wouldn't be we be responding more aggressively? So wouldn't we be responding in a way that you have, we've responded in the past during war times, where there's been, you know, that kind of a collective sense of shared responsibility?" Because I think when we really do feel that sense of urgency about an issue, and I believe we should feel it about climate change, we are willing to sacrifice. We have shown that in the past. But when you hold up a supposed emergency and actually don't ask anything of people, anything major, they actually think you might be lying, that it might not really be an emergency after all. So if this is an emergency, we have to act like it."


Boca Raton Flashback: How Humor Works in a Protest

Here's a good example of the effectiveness of using humor in your protests.  When I arrived at this street corner there was one young woman there holding an Obama sign, and she was being showered with a lot of really nasty dehumanizing insults.  Everyone else on that corner were Tea Partiers (and knowing Florida's now-infamous law it's possible that some of them were carrying concealed weapons).

So I walked into the fray with Pete the Pissed-Off Polar Bear, and, as you can see, they were basically good-natured toward me.  You can tell in the video that I'm not looking them in the eye, I'm forcing them to deal with a puppet!  And they can't help but laugh at the absurdity of their predicament.  It's hard to argue with a puppet!



Friday, November 16, 2012

Save Face or Save the Planet

Preventing the worst of climate change is urgent, but psychologically elusive.  Unless the flood, fire, or tsunami is right in your face, it’s almost surreal to consider dramatically altering your life to keep the polar ice caps from melting.  Still, it’s absurd to equate 98% of the world’s climate scientists with “Chicken Little”, and most of us “get it”.  Or do we?

If a “threat meter” were on the planet right now it would be a smoldering orangish red alert.  In contrast mankind is responding with a few scattered protests, mostly drowned out by the silence of CONSENT. 

That’s right CONSENT.  If you are not publicly making it known you are against the insane destruction of our shared life-support system (read: “ecosystems”), then you are CONSENTING to what is happening.  If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

How do you most effectively REMOVE CONSENT?  Stop saving face and start saving the planet.  I don’t think we can do both.  Here’s why.  We don’t have time for rational step-by-step plans; by the time we reason with the unreasonable it will be too late.  In fact it is totally irrational to try and reason with irrational people (read: “oil mafia who are killing off their own children’s habitat”).  

We must REMOVE OUR CONSENT by becoming irrational and yet stay sane.  How?  Comedy, hilarity, weirdness, surprise, silliness, pranks and shenanigans. These are the best weapons we have against corporate thugs. They have all the money and power in their favor, we have the one thing they don’t have…a sense of humor…edgy humor.

Although it is the most powerful non-violent weapon we have, being funny requires the ultimate sacrifice; the ego’s need to look good, be right and save face.  Media-penetrating humor requires us to be laughed at, risk mockery, and feel totally uncomfortable in public.  Without making our “news” entertaining, our protests will go unnoticed and our arrests ignored. 

Maybe our real enemy is our all-consuming need to save face.  If we conquer this inner tyrant, maybe we have a chance of freeing ourselves from the dynasties that are steering us into oblivion.  Will you sing provocative silly songs, do dance mobs and puppetry to save our planet?  Will you bring your kids, play beach ball hot potato and march to a band of kazoos?  It may be the only way to get mainstream media to actually report on our demonstrations. 

For example, we polar bears were the only climate activists that showed up at the Republican National Convention.  During our “Going Away Party for Florida”, we were repeatedly interviewed by the press.

At the Democratic National Convention, again PBS, Washington Post, etc. photographed and/or interviewed us during our “Hunger Strike Against Global Warming – A Taste of Things to Come”, but only Grist actually ran the story.

By the time we got to the first Presidential debate in Denver we nearly did back flips when we saw about 12 other climate activist there too!  Although we love that they came, their efforts went ignored by the media.  We three, silly polar bears, performing for the crowd, did make the Denver Post and the Santa Monica Breeze with this photo

There are more examples from our protests at the final two debates, but the point is we learned that looking foolish works better than standing around holding expensive signs looking smart.  Other benefits of buffoonery are; it kept us fresh and free from burn out, warded off helplessness and depression, and gave us boundless adrenaline.  I am asking you all to get over your resistance to joining us, and SAVE THE PLANET instead of your face.
Rachel Hope

One thing I'd like to add in support of what Rachel has written here.  Ivan Marovic of Serbia's Otpor movement, had a rule: "If you want to say something, you do something on the street, and when journalists show up, you can talk to them."  Otpor overthrew a dictator using, largely, humor.  When they did a street action, good pictures often made the front page.  "A hundred people doing something on the street is not news," Marovic said.  "but a hundred people doing something crazy is a picture". -- Curtis Hannum

Thursday, November 15, 2012

This Blog Is Not About Climate Change, It's About the Climate Movement

There are a lot of climate change blogs.  We know, we’ve been reading ‘em.

There are blogs pretending it isn’t happening at all.  (Never mind them.)

There are blogs proving it’s happening, with great stories about alternative energy sprinkled in.

We’re not here to prove it’s happening, because IT JUST IS.  We appreciate the work the blogs (in the second category) are doing and we keep up with them as best we can.  But we’re mainly concerned with THE CLIMATE MOVEMENT. 

Most people don’t even know there IS a climate movement.  That’s just sad.

We’re here to watch the movement, to push and prod and grow the movement.  That’s what we’re all about: movement building.  We’ve studied nonviolent movements extensively, we’ve become acquainted with the organizations of the climate movement, and we ourselves have been out in the streets doing our best.  (It’s been surprisingly lonely out there…Where is everybody?!)

We’re here to win.  Future generations won’t give a lick how hard we tried, they’ll only care if we leave them a livable planet.  Our aim is to find the fastest and most effective route to success, because life as we know it is depending on us all.



Obama's Not Ready to Act on Climate Yet...How About You?

Yesterday in his press conference the President spoke at length about climate change.  He said he would be engaging in a wide-ranging "conversation" over the coming months and years to see what we can "realistically" do to deal with the problem.

I'm not surprised but I am disappointed.  Hey, there's been a lot of talk since the election that he would make a major push to address climate change, but he himself never said it, as he has about immigration reform and tax reform, so no one should be surprised he's not yet wagering any of his political capital on the issue.

The president went on to point out that climate change had become a "partisan" issue and that it lacks the bipartisan support necessary to pass major legislation.

Not his fault.  It's the climate movement's fault.  They made no noise during the political campaigns, when they could have created quite a stir after the drought and summer heat.

It's also the movement's responsibility moving forward.  In April of 2011, during the Energy Action Coalition's PowerShift conference in D.C., a handful of youth leaders were invited to the White House to talk about the climate.  They thought they would be speaking with some lower-level staffers, but were amazed when the conference room door opened and President Obama came in.  He told them that he cared just as much  about the climate as they did, but he wouldn't be able to get anything done about it unless they created a  groundswell of popular support that politicians could not ignore.  FDR did the same thing in the 1930's, when he told labor activists that he could only deliver on needed reforms if they created popular support.  (They did and he did.)

It's foolish to think that by electing this president our work is done and we can go back to being passive.  In Gene Sharp's The Politics of Nonviolent Action, he writes about a tendency in populations "to avoid responsibility, to seek to delegate it upward and to attribute greater authority to superiors in the hierarchy than is in fact merited".  (This comes from what he calls a "lack of self confidence".)

In other words quit waiting for the "leaders" to lead.  YOU are the leader, with every bit as much power to make change as any president or dirty energy CEO, so own up to it.   We need to lead the leaders.

Gandhi said "The function of a civil resister is to provoke response. And we will continue to provoke until they respond.  They are not in control.  We are."

So it's on us.  If our collective actions are in alignment with the severity of the crisis, then we will be able to create that groundswell.


Update:  Arianna Huffington has a similar post today about how the president said "Only you have the power to move us forward" at his convention speech and made similar comments on election night.  She even included the exact quote FDR issued to the labor leaders: "I agree with you.  I want to do it.  Now make me do it."  Finally, she includes this link to a Guardian UK piece about how progressives need to follow Obama's example and start pushing for change.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Naomi Klein's Message to the "Do the Math" Tour

Naomi Klein couldn't attend the event at UCLA on Sunday (she has a newborn son on her hands), but she prepared a brilliant message delivered to the crowd via a video feed.  Here's a transcript of the second half of her message:

"Again and again we've seen popular movements rise up to fight climate change.  We all get fired up and we start to recycle and we start to bicycle and we work like crazy to elect politicians who promise to build an economy based on green jobs and to pass comprehensive energy reform.  And we invest our hopes in big environmental summits in Rio or Copenhagen.  Again and again, over the past two and a half decades, we have mobilized to make individual changes and demand systemic ones.  And again and again this movement has somehow lost momentum.  Petered out.  

"Why is that?  It's not because deep down in our collective unconscious we really have some sort of death wish.  The problem is that our profound desire to protect life on Earth is a direct threat to Exxon and Shell's desire to remain the most profitable companies in, as Bill (McKibben) puts it, 'the history of money'.  Their stock price is based on always having in reserve as much as they have in production.  And that means the very thing we must do to meet the climate challenge, stop digging, is the very thing they cannot contemplate without the staring in the face of their own demise.  

"And by the way, it's not just corporations.  Entire countries, the ones that heavily depend upon oil revenues, end up waging a wholesale war on truth -- attacking scientists and environmental groups -- simply because the truth challenges their economic paradigm.  Faced with such a serious threat to their bottom line, these forces fight like they mean it.  Every time the climate movement has gotten its act together, the fossil fuel interests have sent powerful lies into the culture and bankrolled their endless repetition--that climate change is a hoax, that climate action will destroy the economy, that you have to choose between good jobs and a healthy planet.  They've bought our politicians and blanketed our airwaves.  They have attacked our movement from all sides.  They have defamed us, infiltrated us, and tried to buy us off.  In short, they have behaved as if they're at war, because they are.  We really do want an end to their business model.  Not because we hate them, but because our survival depends on it.  It depends on keeping 80 percent of their proven reserves in the ground.  

"It's our side that's been kidding itself.  For a long time the environmental movement behaved as if climate change was the one cause that didn't have an enemy.  That it was just a matter of getting the information out or finding the right technical fix and then everyone would realize that we're all in this together.  But here's the thing: We do have an enemy.  We have a few of them actually.  The good news is we know exactly who they are.  And as of right now, we're going after them precisely where it hurts them most.  Remember this moment.  This is when we got serious." 


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

McKibben Issues a "Call to Adventure" on his Do The Math Tour

Sunday night we attended Bill McKibben's Do the Math Tour in Los Angeles.  We were happy to be there, and liked what we heard, including McKibben issuing this Call to Adventure:

"There's really no more important place that you all could be right now.  Very few human beings ever get the chance to say "I'm doing the most important thing I could be doing at this minute.  But if you join in this fight - as you join in this fight - you will be able to say that and it will be absolutely true.  (Climate change) is the biggest thing human beings have ever done... and so standing up to it is the biggest thing human beings can be doing."

We absolutely agree.  This isn't some ordinary issue we decided to get riled up about.  This isn't some "in a perfect world" ideological cause we're making a stand about.  This is about protecting everyone's LIFE SUPPORT SYSTEM before it collapses completely.  

In the words of scientist Tim Flannery, "in the years to come this issue will dwarf all the others combined, it will become the only issue."  

That's it.

We need all hands on deck for this, because nothing, EVER, has been this important. 



Monday, November 12, 2012

Dirty Energy and the "Monolith" Theory of Power

Most people think there's not a whole heck of a lot we can do to stop the dirty energy companies from destroying our climate.  These corporations have all the political power and all the money.  We can keep asking them to be "nice" and quit using all their power and money to stop any progress on climate change, but by now it's pretty obvious they have no intention of doing that.  So they are, in our imaginations, a monolith, huge and indestructible.  

But that's a myth, and it ignores how power really works.  Power, at least political power, is held by men who are actually extremely dependent upon legions of other people.  Take the Koch brothers.  They're just a couple old guys with a lot of money.  Chances are if you were challenged to fight either one of them mano a mano, you'd decline because you'd know it wouldn't be a fair fight and you'd look silly beating up an old guy.  

But we think of them as incredibly powerful!  Their power depends upon thousands of people helping them out.  The people are willing to do it because the Koch brothers pay them, but consider their employees in Wichita, Kansas, and also in Oklahoma, and Texas.  This entire area has suffered through two consecutive summers of devastating heat and drought.  Surely these people are troubled by a nagging realization that climate change is no hoax.  And surely they know people in their communities who are not employed by Koch Industries but who they see going through extreme hardship because of the drought.  

At some point these people are going to realize they're working for the bad guys.  At that point some of them may not be quite as gung-ho about doing their jobs.  Koch Industries might then have a problem on their hands because their system isn't working as efficiently as it had been, it'll hurt their profits, and they'll be forced to reconsider their opposition to climate legislation.

So next time you think about the dirty energy corporations, don't think of them as powerful, think of them as incredibly dependent and needy.  Then think of their enablers.  That's who we need to win over!



Sunday, November 11, 2012

Let's Make the Climate Movement a Mighty Beast!

Rachel, Pete, and Curtis protesting outside the second presidential debate at Hempstead, NY
We're The Pissed-Off Polar Bears, and we intend to do everything imaginable to help the climate movement become a mighty beast that cannot be vanquished!

We were the ONLY climate protesters that were present at the Republican National Convention, the Democratic National Convention, and all three presidential debates.  (Where WAS everybody?  For all the movement caterwauled about climate change not being mentioned in the debates--aside from us--only Whit Jones of the Energy Action Coalition showed up at multiple events!)  (Whit RULES!)

We spent the first half of this year reading up on successful nonviolent movements of the past, and are convinced that the political stranglehold of dirty energy will only be broken if the entire movement utilizes an aggressive and brilliant nonviolent strategy.  ("Nonviolent strategy", by the way, does not just mean being "peaceful", and "nice", and it certainly does not mean being "passive".  Nonviolence done right is provocative and fearless, and it requires intimate knowledge of the history, tactics, and principles of nonviolent struggle.  We will be posting continually about the indispensable lessons of nonviolent action.)

This is an entirely "winnable" contest!  The fossil fuel industry is putting every kid in the world at risk, including their own. They are basically destroying the planet for every other person, and every other business, in every nation on Earth.  And even their own employees will not be able to escape the catastrophe that's coming.  We intend to rally the entire business community, as well as dirty energy's own workforce, and their families, to take a stand to stop the insanity and save our life support system!

Finally, we intend to have a little fun, because, according to Otpor (the movement that overthrew a dictator in Serbia), humor is the ultimate weapon!  Our cohort Pete the Pissed-Off Polar Bear will give regular blogs, podcasts, and videos for you entertainment.

So let's take it to another level--WE'VE GOT A PLANET TO SAVE!

--Curtis Hannum