Friday, February 15, 2013

Pete Reacts to the Climate Organizations' Presidents' Day Protests: Can't You Find a Better Target Than Obama's White House?

Perhaps you’ve heard the news that the climate organizations this weekend are protesting outside the White House. 

To me, this is like whales protesting the Sea Shepherds!  I mean, the president has come out swinging in his second inaugural address and State of the Union in favor of sweeping climate action. 

Now, some will say they’re doing it for maximum visibility.  No!  They announced this in November, and probably were planning it way longer.  They just have an inability to change their plans.

A young environmentalist once told me it took six months to plan an action.  Bullshit!  Bill McKibben could get thousands of people to do something next weekend if he asked. 

And it’s not like, having asked all these people to come to DC, they have no other targets.  Why not go after the people who have been the biggest obstacles to doing something about the climate?  Go to those Koch brothers’ funded think tanks that are spreading all the disinformation!  You’re not gonna get on TV but, news flash, you’re not gonna get on TV at the White House either!  But at least you’ll be going after the real culprits.  

But if you really want to get on TV, start protesting the major networks, who still aren’t reporting on these huge things.  I mean, yesterday it came out that only a fifth of the sea ice remains from 1980 levels!  This is a gigantic story, with much more long term importance than anything, but the media isn’t reporting it.  So protest the networks, hammer away at the networks!  Maybe they’ll cover you, maybe they won’t, but, start targeting who’s really keeping climate awareness from happening!

The thing about these climate organizations that keeps them from being a movement is they still use “organization think”.  Organizations think it takes six months to plan an action.  Well it doesn’t!

And you’ve gotta be able to react to a changing political landscape.  Last summer all the extreme weather provided a great opportunity for the organizations of the "movement" to really make political hay in the coming elections, but they didn’t do a damn thing! 

Now you’ve got the president standing up to do something about this, and these organizations are still protesting him like nothing has happened over the last month.  Like he was Romney or something!  And if you look forward at what seems to be on the agenda for these organizations this year, it appears to be just more of the same!  They made all these plans of what to do this coming summer before Obama presented them with this golden opportunity.  So do they react to this golden opportunity?  No!  They’ve already made plans! 

What the hell?!

There’s a thing called rapid response and unless these organizations tap into the concept we’re not going to be able to give the president the citizen action that he needs.

Anyway, climate organizations: Throw away your game plans and react to the new reality.  It might just save the planet.

- Pete the Pissed-Off Polar Bear


Monday, February 11, 2013

Pete Highlights Nonviolent Method #3: Declarations by Organizations and Instituions

The third Method of Nonviolent Action that Gene Sharp writes about is Declarations by Organizations and Institutions.  This, too, could help the climate movement when President Obama pushes to get something done about it.

My favorite example came in Nazi-occupied Holland in 1943 when the Dutch Reformed Church AND the Roman Catholic Church came out with a letter that told their congregations it was their RELIGIOUS DUTY to do civil disobedience and to refuse to collaborate with the Nazis.

That drove Hitler’s Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels crazy.  He said it was an “exceptionally insolent letter”.

Oh, right, Goebbels!  It’s INSOLENT for churches not to want to help mass murderers.  “Where do these people who worship the Prince of Peace GET OFF not helping us exterminate people?!  They’re insolent, I tell you!”


Anyway, isn’t it also a RELIGIOUS DUTY to save God’s creation?  I mean, how can it not be?!  “Oh, thanks for creating all this, God, now we’re just gonna use it all up!”  God’s not gonna be cool with that.  Not the human God and not the great mama polar bear spirit, who’s breath of life colors the sky of the Arctic night.

Anyway, more and more churches are realizing they all have a religious duty to protect our planet from climate catastrophe.

In Nazi-occupied Norway, on one Sunday in 1941, one pastoral letter was read from almost every pulpit in the land, then copies of the letter were handed out and posted all over the place.  It would be great if, when the President really needs our help to pressure congress to do the right thing, a letter about saving the climate was read in houses of worship from coast to coast.

All kinds of organizations and institutions can do this, not just religious ones.     Trade groups, business and industry groups, they all should do it because they’re all in line to get hammered by climate change: artists’ unions, educational institutions, school districts, parents’ and students’ groups, athletic leagues and organizations, journalist groups, farm groups, unions, guilds, charities, advocacy groups, animal herds, wolf packs, parties of polar bears hunting in concert.  The list is as long as the sea ice used to be.  There’s all kinds of organizations and institutions, and all of them could help, and they ought to!

If you belong to any of ‘em, you should start workin’ it!  Don’t take no for an answer!  Keep pushing, get allies, get the organization’s leaders and membership to realize how urgent this is!

You can light the spark!

So that’s how declarations by organizations and institutions can work.  Next time we’ll talk about Method #4, Signed Public Statements.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Nonviolent Method #2: Letters of Opposition or Support

Today we’re going to talk about Nonviolent Method #2, Letters of Opposition or Support, as outlined by Gene Sharp, in his seminal tome “The Methods of Nonviolent Action”, which you must buy or I will maul you.  (Nonviolently of course.)  

As lame as letters may sound, they can help the climate movement in lotsa ways. 

Let’s start with the letters of Support concept.  President Obama has indicated that at some point he’s gonna push forward initiatives designed to protect the climate.  If you don’t think he’ll be opposed, you’re living in an imaginary world of unicorns and fairies.  So, people need to make statements in support of him!   These can be private or public.  Suppose you live in a state with a senator who can reliably be counted on to vote against any action on climate change.  Well, parents, students, churches, and businesses, can send said senator letters or postcards of support for what the President is doing. The more the senator gets, the more pressure he’ll feel to do the right thing. 

There’s also Open Letters, which are generally published in newspapers, but popular blogs would work too.  Open letters can be from prominent citizens, like doctors groups, business groups, religious groups; or from pillars of society, like, I dunno, Tom Brokaw.

In Nazi-occupied Bulgaria the Union of Bulgarian Writers sent a letter to their government saying that an anti-Jewish law would “enslave part of the Bulgarian people and blemish Bulgaria’s modern history.”

Inaction on climate change is gonna completely tarnish America’s history.  God, history’s gonna HATE us for it!  Especially if civilization collapses, which it easily could.  (Course, then there’d be no one there to record history, but still….)  Anyway that could be what America’s remembered for, because America’s always been the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases – until just recently – and the biggest political obstacle to international action!  People’d be like: “Yeah, America…they did some cool things with freedom but then they went and destroyed the world!  Idiots.”

Or we could be remembered as the heroes and good guys that led the way to save the planet from catastrophe.  Our choice.

Another thing that would work is using the internet.  Famous people could post youtube messages in support of action on climate change. 

Got that?  I’m talkin’ to YOU Bieber! 

Also, groups could publish full-page ads to pressure network news organizations to do more stories about climate disruption and how serious it is.  Because that’s a HUGE part of the problem, too many people think climate change won’t be a big deal until way off future and then it won’t be all that bad.  Hello!  When the natural feedback loops kick in it will be HORRIBLE EVERYWHERE!  That could be triggered at any time!  But no one knows that cuz the news organizations aren’t doing their JOB of informing the public.

Alright, next installment we’ll talk about Declarations by Organizations and Institutions.  I can feel your excitement.


Friday, February 1, 2013

So at some point this year the President is going to ask us to step up to support his push to do something about climate DISRUPTION.  And we gotta be ready when that happens! 

Currently this movement follows only a couple leaders, and apparently  they don’t have the resources to drum up actions more than a couple times a year.  SO, we all need to use our own creativity, resources, and friends to step in and come up with our own Nonviolent Actions.   So you’re gonna need to know all the nonviolent weapons at your disposal!

In Gene Sharp’s book The Methods of Nonviolent Action, he outlines 198 different methods.
Here’s the list.  Good lord!  Those are just a bunch of words!  Just reading that list is kind of a useless exercise for nonviolent activists.

That’s why Sharp included 300 pages worth of examples of each and every one of them, which gives you a much more tangible feel of how these things work…and a lot of them could work for the climate movement!

Today, we’ll look at Method #1: Public Speeches.

Now, lots of times public speeches are lame!  The Serbian resistance movement Otpor decided right from the get-go that their movement wasn’t gonna do speeches! 

But they can work.  It depends on who’s giving the speech and when and where. 

For instance, if you stand on a street corner and give a speech about climate change, it’s not likely to be effective.

BUT, if you’re, President Obama, and you go on at length about climate change in your 2nd inauguration speech, that would qualify as surprising and therefore effective. 

I mean, everyone was like “Holy crap, he talked more about climate change than anything else!  My God, he really means to do something about it!”

It was also big news when mayor Bloomberg endorsed Obama after Hurricane Sandy hit his city.  It depended on the moment!

One of the guys Gene Sharp talks about was a Catholic Priest in Nazi Germany named Bernard Lictenberg who told his congregation that he wished to share the fate of the Jews who were being sent off to concentration camps.  That was brave.  And the Nazis did send him off to Dachau, and he did share their fate.  But thousands and thousands of people were dying, and he did the only thing he could.

Now, no minister in America is gonna get killed if they speak to their congregations for action on climate change, but a lot of people in those congregations do NOT believe in it and do NOT want to hear about it.  So it would be a great moral stand for a member of the clergy to do that.

Also, Republican politicians would be really brave and would have an eye-opening impact if they stood up in favor of action.  You know they can’t ALL believe climate change is just a hoax. 

I mean they got kids and grandkids and they need to do the right thing for them.  They don’t want those grandkids to one day say “Yeah, grampa was a senator but I don’t want to talk about him”
“Why not?”
“He was a climate denier dirtbag!” 
“Oh, that’s horrible!  Now America is a dried up wasteland”.
“I KNOW!  Stupid grandpa!”

Seriously that’s how they’re gonna be remembered.  (Polar bears already talk about ‘em like that.  It’s brutal!)

So public speeches can work depending on who gives the speech and when and where. 

Tomorrow we’ll talk about Method Number 2: Letters of Opposition or Support.

“Oh wow!  He’s gonna talk about correspondence!  Can’t wait!”

Well tune in anyway, we all need to learn all these methods.