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Articles by Mike Tidwell

Mike Tidwell is founder and director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and the author of The Ravaging Tide: Strange Weather, Future Katrinas, and the Coming Death of America's Coastal Cities.

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In the past three weeks there’s been much debate in U.S. environmental circles over a provocative new paper [PDF] from Harvard University political scientist Theda Skocpol. In it, Skocpol gives the most compelling analysis yet of why the 2009 cap-and-trade bill to fight global warming went down in flames. In sum, Skocpol argues that intense and radical opposition from Tea Party Republicans proved much stronger than the environmentalists’ insider-game, partner-with-business, harness-polls-instead-of-the-grassroots approach.

My added value in commenting here is that I experienced the run-up to — and aftermath of — the failed Waxman-Markey bill from the field. I’ve been a grassroots climate organizer for 10 years, having founded the organization I still direct: the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. CCAN straddles much of the political landscape of America, organizing in the conservative “South” (Virginia) and the liberal “Northeast” (Maryland), while staying very involved in national climate initiatives in Washington, D.C., the geographic center of our region.

I saw from the church-basement view the rise of Tea Party opposition to Waxman-Markey and the in... Read more

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  • Jailhouse Rock: Activists Score Victory Over Police in Tar Sands Pipeline Fight

    If you want to know just how determined activists are to stop the proposed tar sands oil pipeline from Canada to Texas, listen to this: Last Saturday morning, August 20th, more than 50 activists were arrested in front of the White House. They were handcuffed, stuffed into blistering-hot paddy wagons, and informed that they would […]

  • Hot planet to Obama: What’s your Plan B?

    “Never again.” Those ought to be the words coming from the White House right now on global warming. Never again can we tolerate a year like 2009, where attempts to cap carbon pollution experience such profound stagnation. Already this month President Obama has confirmed two painful truths. First: Congress will not complete work on a […]

  • Utilities and coal-state Democrats are wrecking our last chance on climate change

    Utility companies and their coal-state apologists in Congress are wrecking America’s last, best chance to solve global warming. By insisting on free pollution permits, utilities are creating a climate bill that is complicated, unfair, and destined to fail in future years. It’s now up to Congressman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and the House Ways and Means […]

  • Why I'm joining 2,000 people for a global warming mass arrest on Monday

    On Monday, I'm going to get arrested just two blocks from the U.S. Capitol building. I'll peacefully block the entrance to an energy plant that burns raw coal to partially power Congress. My motivation is global warming. My colleagues in civil disobedience will include the poet Wendell Berry, country western signer Kathy Mattea, and Yale University dean Gus Speth.

    Up to 2,000 other people from across the country will risk arrest, too. We'll all be demanding strong federal action to phase out coal combustion and other fossil fuels nationwide that threaten our vulnerable climate.

    This mass arrest might seem symbolic and radical to many Americans. Symbolic because it's purposefully organized amid the iconic images of Washington, D.C. And radical because, well, isn't getting locked up kind of out there? And isn't global warming kind of vague and distant?

    But I live five subway stops from the U.S. Capitol. My home is right here. There's nothing symbolic -- for me -- about trying to keep the tidal Potomac River out of my living room and off the National Mall where my son takes school trips. There's nothing symbolic about fighting for homeowner's insurance in a region where Allstate and other insurers have already begun to pull out due to bigger Atlantic hurricanes. And what's vague about the local plant species like deadnettles and Bluebells that now bloom four to six weeks earlier in D.C.-area gardens thanks to dramatic warming.