Politics

John Edwards encourages Americans to give up SUVs

John Edwards told a labor group that if he were president, he would encourage Americans to give up their SUVs. Ballsy!

Fast to stop global warming

September 4th event marks new phase in struggle for the planet

I'm incredibly excited about the September 4th Climate Emergency Fast being organized by the U.S. Climate Emergency Council and others. I've signed up and hope you will too, by clicking here. In one week, the number of fasters has grown from 395 to 795 and continues to multiply. Everyone I've talked to about it is instantly drawn to it; people seem to instinctively understand that we need to move beyond the polite letter-writing, lobbying, and yes -- blogging -- that has characterized response to the climate crisis thus far. In most true crises, people take to the streets if the government doesn't act. What's happening to the planet is a crisis of that scale, but thus far hasn't got the dramatic response it merits. Institutional advocacy just won't cut it; as a recent groundbreaking study by Jon Agnone of the University of Washington shows. As Ken Ward summarized in a recent post here: Protest is significantly more important than public opinion or institutional advocacy in influencing federal environmental law. Agnone found that each protest event increases the likelihood of pro-environmental legislation being passed by 1.2 percent, and moderate protest increases the annual rate of adoption by an astonishing 9.5 percent. Public opinion on its own influences federal action (though less than protest), but is vastly strengthened by protest, which "amplifies" public support and, in Agnone's words, "raises the salience of public opinion for legislators." Protest and public opinion are synergistic, with a joint impact on federal policy far more dramatic than either factor alone. Institutional advocacy has limited impact on federal environmental policy. Coming in the wake of Al Gore's call for civil disobedience against polluters, this fast could be the start of a vital shift in the strategy of the environmental movement -- getting out of the halls of power where it's easy to have demands mollified with half measures and into the streets: the point at which leaders start freaking out and wondering what you'll do next. Of course, it's always important to keep any protests accessible and sympathetic to the average person. It's necessary to do the organizing in advance to ensure that your action has widespread public support and won't provoke a crippling backlash, but I think we're getting to that point in the climate crisis. Already some climate big shots have signed up: Rev. Jim Wallis, Vandana Shiva, Dennis Brutus, Sally Bingham, Bill McKibben, Rev. Bob Edgar, Van Jones, Mike Tidwell, Billy Parish, Brent Blackwelder, Ilyse Hogue and many more. So join me and sign up now!

Do as we say ...

Developed world scolds China for doing what it does

For 200 years the Western world has plundered the world’s oil and fouled its atmosphere, and despite a recent flurry of happy talk to the contrary, it is still doing so. So it’s rich indeed for Merkel to go to China and ask them to please stop. If I were Premier Wen Jiabao, my response would be nothing but a raised middle finger. He’s somewhat more polite about it.

Katrina

A good analysis of the fateful hurricane’s political aftermath

There are lots of Katrina retrospectives floating around today, on the 2nd anniversary. If I were a better man, maybe I’d write one, but thinking back on those events makes me feel sick, helpless rage all over again, and I’m about to head to a picnic with my two boys, so I’m gonna choose to stay happy instead. If you’re looking for smart commentary on Katrina and the political aftermath thereof, check out this from Statfor. See also Chris Mooney’s lessons learned, one, two, three, four.

An interview with Joe Biden about energy and the environment

This is part of a series of interviews with presidential candidates produced jointly by Grist and Outside. Update: Joe Biden was chosen as Barack Obama’s running mate on Aug. 23, 2008. (He dropped out of the presidential race on Jan. 3, 2008.) Joe Biden. Photo: Michael Millhollin Joe Biden says his top priority as president would be “energy security.” “If I could wave a wand, and the Lord said I could solve one problem, I would solve the energy crisis,” he said this spring at a political rally in South Carolina. “That’s the single most consequential problem we can solve.” …

OK, I was bass-ackwards the last 12 times, but now I'm 'moderate'!

Why do documented liars and dummies get taken seriously about climate change?

Hey, Europe, about the whole climate change thing … just calm down already: Curbs needed to fight global warming could be less drastic than a 50-percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 favored by the European Union, the United States’ chief climate negotiator said on Monday. This, of course, echoes the latest right-wing line on climate change, which is: it exists, but hey, it’s not so bad, and we don’t need to do anything drastic about it. Let’s be "moderates," not "hysterics," where moderate = what corporatists are willing to concede at a given point in time. Aside from …

A look at the environmental record of Joe Biden, Barack Obama’s running mate

Updated: 23 Aug 2008 Joe Biden, Barack Obama’s running mate, has earned an 83 percent lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters during his 35 years representing Delaware in the U.S. Senate, voting fairly consistently with environmentalists and the mainstream of his party. In 2007, while running for president, he said “energy security” was his top priority, and argued that he was well-suited to deal with the challenge thanks to years of experience on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he now chairs. Biden is also a big booster of biofuels. Read Grist’s 2007 interview with Joe Biden. Key …

Cali water madness

Interior Dept. plans huge water giveaway to Big Agribiz

Brad Plumer points to this, which tells the story of how the Interior Department is planning to give away gargantuan amounts of water to Big Agribiz in California. If you’d like to dig into the background details, check out some posts we ran by Lloyd G. Carter, president of California’s Save Our Streams council — here, here, and here. It’s mind-boggling.

'Oh, crap ...' says the industrial agrodiesel investor

Small protest may be start of agrodiesel’s biggest nightmare

A link to John Cook's Venture Blog in the Seattle P-I via a post by Glenn Hurowitz brought my attention to a guy named Duff Badgley (not to be confused with Duffman or Ed Begley). Duff is an old-school, grassroots, car-free, long-haired, bleeding-heart, dirty hippie environmentalist. His protests may very well turn out to be Imperium's worst nightmare. From an article about the filing of Imperium Renewables' IPO (initial public offering) where they must, by law, warn potential investors of known potential risks: In its filing, the company said that palm oil is the cheapest feedstock available and noted that shifting public opinion about the use of palm oil could hurt its business. "Unfavorable public opinions concerning the use of palm oil, soybeans and other feedstock, or negative publicity arising from such use, could reduce the global supply of such feedstock, increase our production costs and reduce the global demand for biodiesel, any of which could harm our business and adversely affect our financial condition," the company wrote. An all-important goal in any power struggle is to gain and then hold the moral high ground.

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