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Oh, Here It Is!

Four years after my pleading essay, climate art is hot

That pleading little essay I wrote in 2005? It was probably the last moment I could have written it. Clearly there were lots and lots of people already thinking the same way, because ever since it's seemed to me as if deep and moving images and sounds and words have been flooding out into the world. Bill, built from Flickr pix.Kalman Gacs, 350.org/galleryThat torrent of art has been, often, deeply disturbing -- it should be deeply disturbing, given what we're doing to the earth. (And none of it has quite matched the performance work that nature itself is providing. Check …

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Kicking Congress' ash

Snow doesn't dampen turnout for anti-coal rally in D.C.

The day's scorecard: Largest anti-coal action yet in the United States: Thousands and thousands of people flooding the streets around the Capitol Hill power plant. Largest demonstration in many years where everyone was wearing dress clothes: The point was to stress that there's nothing radical about shutting down coal-fired power. In fact, there's everything radical about continuing to pour carbon into the air just to see what happens. Smallest counter-protest in world's history: By my count, the Competitive Enterprise Institute managed to muster four demonstrators for its "celebration of coal" rally, which is about the right size. (But they were …

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Power for the people

Anti-coal campaign gets some good news, but battle is far from won

We'll still be protesting on Monday in D.C., but it looks like the protest may be half victory party too! Late Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a letter off to the Capitol Architect -- the guy in charge of buildings and grounds, as well as the century-old, mainly-coal-fired power plant that Congress owns and which is located just a few blocks from the fancy dome and the National Mall. The two leaders told him to stop shoveling coal into the power plant's boiler and finish the switch to natural gas. Now, it just …

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Eight years of Bush inaction leave Obama with a near-impossible challenge

Given the sheer number of candidates for "worst legacy of the Bush years," it may seem perverse to pick the hundreds of coal-fired power plants that have opened across China during his administration. But given their cumulative effect -- quite possibly the concrete block that broke the climate-camel's already straining back -- I think they may be what history someday seizes on. And they are emblematic of George W. Bush's utter failure to help the world rein in carbon emissions at what may have been the last possible moment. When Bush first took office, China (and really India as well) …

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It's time to aim low

After Poland talks, a new reality starts to set in, says McKibben; 350 ppm must be the goal

I spent the last few nights of the recent Poznan climate conference sleeping in the By the Way youth hostel, an excellent accommodation filled with excellent young people who had done excellent work at the negotiations. After the final day of deliberations, many of these young people visited the doubtless excellent discotheques of Poznan, returning home beginning about 4 a.m. in various states of excited giddiness. This allowed those of us (well, the one of us) of a more elderly persuasion an excellent opportunity to lie awake, thinking over the events of the days just past. And what I kept …

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Changing climate targets in Poland

Poznan: Least-developed countries present CO2 targets of 350 ppm

The big international climate conferences, at least the ones I've been to in Kyoto, the Hague, and elsewhere, are pretty much the same: caffeinated, adrenalized, endless, chaotic, and incredibly hard to read. Much goes on behind closed doors, and small signals from the big players at the last minute generally make the most difference. I'm not going to Poznan until next week, for the last few days of this conference. And in an odd way, it's been easier to figure out the proceedings from a distance to make out the forest for the trees. The biggest news so far, I …

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Above average

Savvy citizen asks the right question about climate change at debate

Thank heavens for the "average citizen." After approximately 4 million debates over the past year, someone finally asked the right and real question about climate change. Ingrid Jackson, over in Section C of the audience in Tuesday night's debate, didn't ask if the candidates thought global warming was real, and she didn't even ask what they would do to fight it. "[W]e saw that Congress moved pretty fast in the face of an economic crisis," she said. "I want to know what you would do within the first two years to make sure that Congress moves fast as far as …

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The world at 350

A last chance for civilization

This essay was originally published at TomDispatch, and is reprinted here with Tom's kind permission. ----- Even for Americans, constitutionally convinced that there will always be a second act, and a third, and a do-over after that, and, if necessary, a little public repentance and forgiveness and a Brand New Start -- even for us, the world looks a little Terminal right now. It's not just the economy. We've gone through swoons before. It's that gas at $4 a gallon means we're running out, at least of the cheap stuff that built our sprawling society. It's that when we try …

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350 sense

McKibben kicks off 350.org, a new international grassroots climate campaign

If only atmospheric chemistry gave you points for trying. A year ago this week, we were celebrating. I and six college-age colleagues of mine, joined by thousands of organizers across the country, had managed to pull off 1,400 simultaneous demonstrations against global warming in all 50 states. Though we didn't have much in the way of resources, Step It Up day was a success -- and within a week, both the Obama and Clinton campaigns had endorsed our call for 80 percent cuts in carbon emissions by 2050. The glow, shall we say, faded. Within a matter of weeks, the …

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Are you brave enough to say no to a high-stress holiday?

The problem with Christmas is not the batteries. The problem isn't even really the stuff. The problem with Christmas is that no one much likes it anymore. Start thinking outside the cart. Photo: iStockphoto If you poll Americans this time of year, far more of them regard the approaching holidays with dread than anticipation. It has long since become too busy, too expensive, too centered around acquiring that which we do not need. In fact, it's the perfect crystallization of the American economy -- the American consumer experience squeezed into a manic week, a week that people find themselves hoping …

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