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Ken Ward's Posts


Is there no organization proud to be environmentalist?

Sotomayor endorsement is an embarrassment

If there was ever a time when the U.S. Supreme Court requires a passionate, articulate and unabashed voice for the environment -- another William O. Douglas -- that time is now. Should Waxman-Markey die in the Senate and the EPA be forced to regulate carbon emissions, the matter will likely land before the Justices and there are any number of other eco-catastrophes being handled as matters of law on which we desperately require the very best advocate the President can appoint. If in the history of the environmental movement there was ever a call for bold, unequivocal and urgent leadership, …

Read more: Politics


Hippies Cast a Long Shadow

Treasure hunting during building demo

Hippies on the Boston CommonPhoto: Nick DeWolfeOne of the joys of demolition (in addition to anger management) is the hunt for treasure. When pulling apart old walls and closets you just can't help dreaming about unearthing a cache of old coins or silverware (I've found both). Mostly pickings have been slim at the JP Green House -- a few fragments of broken china, some old bottles, and a rusty pair of pliers -- but under floorboards in the basement we uncovered a trove of newspapers from 1968, the Summer of Love. My favorite is the May 26, 1968, Boston Globe …

Read more: Cities


problems with assuming a ladder

The Carbon Logic Problem Statement

An acclaimed mountaineer, a Baptist minister and a distinguished economist were stuck in a pit. The mountain climber said, "Stand back boys, I'll have us out in a jiffy," but the walls of the pit were loose shale and she couldn't gain purchase. Then the minster raised his arms high and in a deep sonorous voice called for deliverance but after an hour of prayer he too admitted defeat. Finally, the economist stood, brushed dirt of a shabby Harris tweed jacket and said, "This is easy. First, assume a ladder." Environmentalists are trying to get out of a deep pit …

Read more: Climate & Energy


Showing the Flag

Fourth of July musings on symbols, patriotism, and identity

Sketches of ideas for the JP Green House exterior all include banners, signs, and flags at our request. This reflects our plan to unearth the former corner store that used to be housed in the "flatiron" triangular building. It's also a means of advertising our demonstration project and a good fit with our civic purpose, to serve as a community center and climate campaigning "hub" for The kids will enjoy making their own banners as well -- indeed, their after-camp project today is to design a poster for the JP Green House Kids' $5 Lemonade Stand & Mini-Toboggan Run/Water …

Read more: Cities


(even though it’s the best we can hope for from Congress)

9 damned good reasons why some U.S. environmentalists should heartily oppose Waxman-Markey

Too bad we live in interesting times, it requires much more work. I just read a comment from Randy Cunningham, who said he was torn between supporting Waxman-Markey, based on appeals to his brain, and opposing it, based on what he feels in his heart. I empathize with the feeling of being torn between two less-the-ideal choices, but I think that Randy’s got his organs mixed up. Reflexive anti-corporatist/leftists aside, it seems to me that the only basis on which Waxman-Markey ought to be opposed is sharply reasoned, while a hefty part of supporting Waxman-Markey -- the best we can …


Behind the numbers

350 vs. 450: The heart of the matter

There has never been a civic dispute as precisely quantified as climate. Most U.S. environmental organizations endorse the Waxman-Markey climate bill with the stated goal of keeping atmospheric greenhouse gases below 450 parts per million. The conservative position enunciated by Jim Hansen, advanced by Bill McKibben and, and endorsed by a handful of climate advocates (none of them mainstream environmental organizations) is defined as an immediate return below 300-350 ppm. The two numbers are not staging points on a gradual curve of escalating climate impacts, a fact that does not seem to be acknowledged in the present debate. Each …


Love in a time of cataclysm

Fighting climate chaos with a hammer and a heart

The intro question for the first gathering of activists in Massachusetts early this month was, "How do you feel, personally, about climate change?" Having worked on the agenda, I should have been prepared -- but it still stumped me. When I spoke, it was a distillation of five years of hard thinking and writing; truthful, but packaged. We are offered, I said, but two choices: blind optimism of the sort that Waxman-Markey cheerleaders purvey, or deep despair, the feeling one gets from most climate scientists. I prefer, I said, a resolute hope that comes only in accepting reality -- …

Read more: Cities


The Elephant in the Living Room

Why do U.S. environmentalists remain irrationally committed to a losing strategy?

Watching the remains of a movement strain our every organizational fiber to advance a climate bill we know is a travesty reminds me of G.K. Chesterton’s observation about sex: the pleasure is momentary, the position ridiculous, and the expense damnable. Waxman-Markey ought to be opposed by U.S. environmentalists for obvious and pragmatic reasons -- street arguments, if you like. In the topsy-turvy world of U.S. climate advocacy, however, political lessons wrung from decades of hard experience have been turned inside out, so that down feels like up and wrong is the new right. Our descent into an Alice-in-Wonderland politics took …


We're F*cked

Very interesting, very positive response from 200+ at  American Friends Service Committee conference on the triple threats of security, economy and climate to blunt assessment of the state of climate change and climate politics. Another strong indicator that our organizations are fast losing touch.


Markey/Waxman = Roadmap for Coal

As an upstart state rep from Malden, Mass, Ed Markey had the temerity to support rules reform, which got him kicked him out of his office by Speaker Tom McGee. Markey set up desk, chair and phone in the statehouse hallway and burnished an image of integrity which vaulted him to the top of a crowded Congressional primary field – running under the slogan, “They can tell Ed Markey where to sit, but no one tells him where to stand” – to capture the Congressional seat he still holds. When he hit DC in 1976, his patron, House Speaker Tip …