It was spring, 1970. Apollo 13 had just barely made it back safely. We were about to invade Cambodia. The Beatles had just disbanded. Men wore ties so wide you could use them for napkins, mini-skirt lengths were finally coming down. I was 11, a 6th grader, tall, lanky, nerdy, awkward, and really worried about our planet -- already. Fresh memories of the tumultuous sixties lingered in the air, as did the pollution. It hung over DC like stale cigarette smoke. Our assignment was to clip relevant news articles, and be ready to talk about the significance of the first Earth Day in class. I recently unearthed my class project in storage and decided to show-and-tell, 40 years later. Gone are Gaylord Nelson and Ed Muskie, but founding organizer Denis Hayes, bless his soul, is still with us! After an entire career devoted to environmental protection, it's hard not to assess progress, admit defeat. We did manage to get some strong laws on the books (e.g. Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act), raise awareness, but it hasn't been enough. Mother Earth is still choking, dying, it seems. Meanwhile, enviros still hold rallies, polluters still pollute, blatant green-washing still abounds, and we continue to log in more devastation, destruction, degradation. Where is the hope?
As if the climate change yellow brick road weren't hazardous enough, a group of scientists writing for the UK's Royal Society are calling for stepped up research to explore possible links between a warming climate and major geophysical events: earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, tsunamis. Holy Wicked Witch! The common wisdom to date has been "no connection" between major changes in the atmosphere and dangerous activity in the geosphere, as if a protective firewall or something was keeping Father Sky from talking to the underbelly of Mother Earth. But now -- as if the dire potential consequences already on the list aren't enough (inundated coastal communities, drought, famine, ecological breakdowns) -- we got one more big thing to worry about. In the wake of the Haiti earthquake and the fresh black volcanic ash cloud from Iceland roaming over Europe, even a proud atheist has thoughts of the rapture, has to wonder, are we entering an actual apocalypse? Some folks believe the world's gonna end in 2012. I dunno, do we have that long? Or is this all just a bunch of hooey mumbo jumbo crazy talk? I can just hear Rush Out-On-A-Limb-augh now, guffawing at the Royal Society. But....
Massey Energy Company CEO Donald Leon Blankenship is currently a member in good standing of the American Institute for Certified Public Accounts -- the equivalent of the Bar Assocation for CPAs. My father, Gerald A. Polansky, was not only a member of the AICPA and a top executive for Deloitte Touche, he also served as AICPA Chairman from 1991-1992. If not for his accidental death in 1998, he'd likely still be with us today at age 75, and would undoubtedly back me 100% in my view that Don Blankenship's AICPA membership should be revoked immediately, for demonstrating a clear lack of ethical and moral behavior, possibly reckless endangerment, risking the lives of his dedicated employees on a daily basis, knowingly, even arrogantly. My dad's career in accounting embodied and epitomized the highest moral and ethical standards. He couldn't have been a more decent guy, and, if he were still alive and came to dinner tonight to hear me rant and rave about Massey and Blankenship, he'd be on the phone with Richard Harris, AICPA's current Chairman, within the hour, calling for the appropriate censure, and immediate termination of his membership.
Contributors to this DK Greenroots thread seemingly share a passion for Earth's natural systems and a deep concern that human activities are compromising the very livability of our planet. So in our "spare time" we blog about it, hoping the words will reach the hearts and minds of enough people with sufficient impact to make a difference. Do they? It's hard to know.
Another way to express this shared concern is to take direct action, sometimes referred to as non-violent civil disobedience, or NVCD. Think of Rosa Parks, Ghandi, MLK, and Edward Abbey's classic, the Monkey Wrench Gang. Sometimes, the folks putting their bodies between right and wrong - e.g. between a fragile ecosystem and harms way - get arrested and sent to jail, perhaps for trespassing, loitering, gathering without a permit, destruction of property, or accosting a police officer. If covered in the media, the story is usually told poorly: the culprits are labeled as hippies or freaks, angry miscreants or social misfits, and the perpetrators of the moral crimes being opposed are presented as victims. This post suggests one elegantly simple way to shine a new light on these acts of courage and welcomes DK readers to consider an experimental new theme: Crime Scene? vs. Crime Scenery -- a poster show.
You gotta admit, it's creative. Smack in the middle of the floor of an otherwise sparkly clean lobby of a JP Morgan Chase bank branch in Manhattan sits a big pile of dirt, shaped like a mountain. Atop sits a letter to the CEO of the behemoth bank, Jamie Dimon, begging for mercy on behalf of huge mountains just west of here (DC) being blown to smithereens by the likes of Massey Energy to get at the solid black gold laced throughout, the stuff that powers our homes and quite likely, this blog post. As are an increasing number of us, Reverend Billy and his choir are really ticked off about Mountaintop Removal and show it by ceremoniously carrying plates of "overburden" fresh from the country roads of West Virginia, singing the gospels of mountain beauty and inspiration, inviting the rest of us to join in the righteous indignation. You go, Rev, and keep it up. You speak (and sing) for me, too. Earth-alujah!!!!
This post is part of a new series called E.C.S.T.A.S.Y. — End Consumption, Save The Air & Sea, Y'all! It's a support group and discussion forum for those who want to kick the habits of consumption that are damaging the world we live in.
If you haven't yet heard of Annie Leonard and her very popular online video The Story of Stuff, there's still time to get with it, y'all! Leonard's just released a new book with the same title and.... this is so exciting... she'll be here in DC (!!!) this evening hosting a book signing event, at my favorite independent bookstore, Politics and Prose. That's tonight, Sunday March 14, at 5 pm, Eastern Daylight Time. See below the fold for the coordinates.
Hey, y'all, this woman really gets it, and she tells it like it is so well that everybody else gets it too. In my view, President Obama really goofed up by passing her over as Secretary of Commerce.
He goes simply by Bill when he's not in character, and anyone fortunate or resourceful enough to witness author William Talen wax eloquently about over-consumption and consumerism gone amok in the U-S-of-A will soon realize he has cast a spell that has you cutting up your credit cards in no time flat. Oh, and when he is in character, look out! Donning electric blue preacher's threads (to match his electric blue eyes), his Elvis-like but blonde mane whisks to and fro as he gestures wildly and casts about with a bullhorn, his commanding voice and captivating words invoking the fear of... well... let's put it this way: even Jesus himself would be impressed. Warning of an impending "shopocalypse" and extolling the virtues of a "Life After Shopping" the Rev has conducted exorcisms on cash registers, been arrested on the streets of New York simply for reciting the First Amendment (over and over), has his own traveling 30-person choir, authored several books and even has a documentary movie, "What Would Jesus Buy?" You just gotta check this guy out, if for no other reason than pure entertainment.
Jack Gerard, head of the American Petroleum Institute, has hired away the Nature Conservancy's grassroots organizer to lead a major campaign to "mobilize the 9.2 million people whose jobs rely on the oil and gas industry" according to an API spokesperson who calls this "Jack's vision." Environmental groups are taken aback, as the new hire, Deryck Spooner, is known as a "big dog" in community activist circles with a strong track record of mobilizing the public for a variety of causes. Remember Jack Gerard's PR gaffe (puting it kindly) last summer when he was caught red-handed with a memo urging API member company employees to fake grassroots opposition to climate legislation? Dubbed "astroturfing," the ploy is designed to mimic a true grassroots effort, like the one spreading like wildfire across communities concerned about life in a climate disrupted world. Gerard should take note of the big players (PG&E and Apple) who defected from the US Chamber of Commerce last year, protesting (Chamber President) Tom Donohue's pleistocene-era views on climate change and efforts to curb CO2 emissions. So, will any API members walk when they get the Spooner memo?
At 1:30 pm today, the White House will release a major new report on the implications of global climate disruption for the United States. Go to www.whitehouse.gov/live, and www.globalchange.org/usimpacts Climate Science Watch is blogging on this today. "Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States" is the first climate science report to come out under the Obama administration, and the most significant U.S. climate impacts assessment since the first National Assessment was issued in 2000. It’s time to start making up for eight lost years under an administration that left the federal government AWOL in dealing with this problem. Right now the United States doesn’t have the policies, institutions, and research in place to deal with the consequences of climate disruption. There is a void in the federal system that such a planning and preparedness capability must now be created to fill. The need to jump-start federal action is urgent and should not be delayed by the daunting challenge of enacting major climate legislation.
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