Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation 

Working for peace, social justice and principled nonviolence since 1976

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Climate Crisis Strategies for Organizing

Sometimes a creative nonviolent approach can make a point more effectively than merely listing the facts.  Consider the example in this photo and the explanation typed out below it:

Greenpeace and Yes Men posted a bogus billboard about Shell Oil’s drilling in Arctic:  Shell is pushing hard to explore and drill for oil in sensitive areas of the Arctic.  Environmentalists have been sending e-mails and printing ads showing cute polar bears, etc., to move the public and government to stop the exploration and drilling.  Greenpeace and the guerrilla satire Yes Men have teamed up to embarrass Shell by creating a bogus website (www.ArcticReady.com) and bogus billboard (see photo above) that purport to be Shell’s ham-handed public relations (PR) respons.  The billboard that purportedly shows Shell’s reaction to environmentalists with an image of polar bears and the caption, “You can’t run your SUV on “cute.  Let’s go.”  What fun to see the Yes Men and Greenpeace team up for a creative prank that embarrasses a giant oil company with a terrible record on the environment and human rights!  More information:  www.theyesmen.org  

Bill McKibben and 350.org Urge People to “Connect the Dots” that Obama Ignored about Keystone XL and Climate:  Immediately after Obama endorsed Keystone XL’s southern leg, Bill McKibben announced that since our leaders have failed, it is up to us to “connect the dots” and protect the earth from climate disruption.  The organization he founded,350.org, is launching a global day of action to call attention to the extreme weather events and other climate-caused disasters.  Around the world we are seeing ever more flooding, ever more drought, ever more storms. People are dying, communities are being wrecked.  And climate disruptions are only beginning.  McKibben and 350.org call upon everyone to connect the dots between these disasters, the worsening climate crisis, and fossil fuels.  Saturday May 5 will be a global day of action to do just that.  Info:  www.350.org

A carbon tax is a great solution:  The public wants to protect our environment and restore our economy.  A carbon tax would help with both of these.  The climate has been changing badly, resulting in a huge number of devastating storms, droughts, and other natural catastrophes.  We have already spent more than $33.5 billion dollars cleaning up after these storms.  The destruction will continue occurring more and more every year.  We must stop the climate damage by reversing the policies that have caused climate chaos.  Meanwhile, millions of Americans are unemployed.  A carbon tax would be a great solution to send a market signal to the bad economic practices and to fund real solutions and put people back to work.  SEE THIS RESOURCE:  "Carbon Tax Offers Super Powers to Super-Committee"  http://tinyurl.com/6b6yvmq  ALSO, this report identifies $380 billion in environmentally beneficial spending cuts: http://tinyurl.com/3tphujc

Think globally, and act locally:  How to do this?  For a number of years, people have urging that we should “think globally and act locally.”  This means that we should understand the global problems and work at the local level for solutions.  What kinds of practical things can ordinary people actually do to protect our climate?      Stop using big, centralized energy production systems, and convert to small, local ways to meet our energy needs.

New efforts for local electric utility to stop using coal:  Winning 40% of the vote after being outspent 15-to-1 is a great victory for Thurston Public Power Initiative (TPPI), the nonprofit group that formed a year ago to create a county-wide ballot initiative to let the voters of Thurston County WA authorize the Thurston Public Utility District (PUD) to provide electricity.  TPPI will continue informing and organizing the public for a new effort in 2014 or 2016.  This is a great opportunity to reduce damage to our climate by reducing the demand for coal.  Puget Sound Energy (PSE), the capitalist-owned utility that provides electricity for Thurston County, derives about one-third of its electricity by burning coal.  The Thurston PUD, which would be owned by the public and managed by democratically elected commissioners, would likely refuse to use coal at all.  Thurston PUD would automatically qualify for the lowest-cost hydropower from the federal government’s dams.  Also, because the PUD commissioners are elected by the public, they would respond favorably to the public’s demand for more green energy.  TPPI has stopped using the phone number listed on its website, but the organization is very much alive! Info:  www.thurstonpublicpower.org  or 491-9093.

Oil companies are largely responsible, so name storms after them:  Bill McKibben and others are suggesting that we name hurricanes, etc., after the oil companies that make them more severe.  See www.nydailynews.com/blogs/the_rumble/2012/10/name-storms-after-oil-companies-theyre-the-ones-most-responsible-for-climate-chan

Get a free sticker to publicize how Superstorm Sandy raised people’s consciousness about the climate crisis:  Many Americans who were skeptical or undecided were converted by their experiences in Superstorm Sandy, which was made much worse by new climate realities.  Some prominent politicians (Michael Bloomberg , Andrew Cuomo, and others) have spoken out vigorously about the climate crisis.  The nonprofit organization “Forecast the Facts” is offering a free sticker (or packs of 5 or 20 for a donation) about this.  This modest-sized rectangular sticker is good for a car, window, desk, laptop, or other location.  Click here to spread the word with a free CLIMATE CHANGED sticker

Global Power Shift (GPS) seeks to mobilize people worldwide:  This ambitious multi-pronged project is working on this basic plan:

  1. In June of 2013, 500 of us will gather in Turkey -- from leaders to engaged community members
  2. We’ll train in grassroots and digital organizing, share our stories, and chart a strategy for the coming year
  3. Attendees will then return to their home countries in teams to organize mobilizations
  4. These national or regional events will be launchpads for new, highly-coordinated campaigns targeting political and corporate levers of power
  5. Together, we will truly shift the power and spark the kind of visionary transformation we need to fight the climate crisis

For more information – or to apply to go to Turkey for the June 2013 gathering – see www.globalpowershift.org

Factual information convinces some people, but first-hand stories are very compelling for many other people:  Friends of the Earth (www.foe.org) has launched a new website consisting of people’s first-hand stories and videos about the climate crisis.  See www.climatestories.us

Climate expert & activist Bill McKibben urges:  “Time For Outrage On Behalf of the Planet;  It's Time to Fight the Status Quo” – He published this at www.thesolutionsjournal.com/node/1095,  on June 12, 2012, and Common Dreams republished it at www.commondreams.org/view/2012/06/07-2  His solution is to get outraged.  He says that at the global climate conference in Copenhagen, where the US and other polluting nations prevented the world from taking the bold actions that were necessary, people marched under the banner “System Change, Not Climate Change.”  McKibben wrote the first book about global warming 23 years ago, and he is still very active, but much more frustrated because powerful entities (governments, corporations, mainstream media, etc.) have been preventing the bold actions that the world needs.  In June 2012 he wrote that “the scientists who warned us about climate change were absolutely correct—their only mistake, common among scientists, was in being too conservative.  So far we’ve raised the temperature of the earth about one degree Celsius, and two decades ago it was hard to believe this would be enough to cause huge damage.  But it was.”  …  Forty percent of the summer sea ice in the Arctic is gone; the ocean is 30 percent more acidic.  There’s nothing theoretical about any of this any more.  Since warm air holds more water vapor than cold, the atmosphere is about 4 percent wetter than it used to be, which has loaded the dice for drought and flood.  In my home country, 2011 smashed the record for multibillion-dollar weather disasters—and we were hit nowhere near as badly as some.  Thailand’s record flooding late in the year did damage equivalent to 18 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).  That’s almost unbelievable.  But it’s not just scientists who have been warning us.  Insurance companies—the people in our economy who we ask to analyze risk—have been bellowing in their quiet, actuarial way for years.”  McKibben’s entire article is well worth reading!

Stop all tar sands projects, including the Keystone XL pipeline, which would severely damage our climate:  People along the route of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline are protesting vigorously.  Learn about the devastating project and the protests at www.tarsandsblockade.org

Activists Take a Stand Against Coal Exports from Montana:  On August 21, 2012, AlterNet (www.alternet.org) published an article by Scott Parkin that reported on a large gathering of people from across the US who participated in the Coal Export Action.  The article states that 23 of these persons participated in five days of civil disobedience opposing coal companies’ plans to export coal from Montana and Wyoming through port towns in Oregon and Washington to China, India, and other coal-burning nations.  Participants included a number of young people and members of the Blue Skies Campaign and the Cascade Climate Network.  The events were supported by a number of environmental and climate groups like Rainforest Action Network, 350.org, and Rising Tide North America.  It was inspired by the Tar Sands Action called for by writer Bill McKibben at the White House in 2011, which resulted in more than 1,200 arrests. 

Thirteen arrested near Vancouver BC for blocking trains carrying US coal for export:  Canadians are protesting coal trains that would export coal from the US to Asia.  On May 5, 2012, thirteen persons were arrested on the tracks at White Rock (near Vancouver), British Columbia.  On Sept. 21 a public discussion at a Vancouver public library considered whether civil disobedience is necessary to address the climate crisis.  Information is at http://thetyee.ca/News/2012/09/19/Whiterock-Blockade/

When It Comes to Climate Change, Better a Sucker Than a Free-Rider:  Are you reluctant to embrace a more climate-conscious lifestyle because, hey, nobody else is doing it?  Guest blogger Jake Giessman decides that, when it comes to tackling climate change, the right thing to do is to be a sucker rather than a free-rider.  Click this blog posting at the Center for a New American Dream:  http://www.newdream.org/blog/better-a-sucker-than-a-free-rider

New website uses simple language to describe the problem and focus on solutions:  http://www.climatevictory.org/intro.html

Asserting Native Resilience:  Pacific Rim Indigenous Nations Face the Climate Crisis is a new book edited by Zoltán Grossman and Alan Parker, Olympia residents and faculty members at The Evergreen State College  (Oregon State University Press, 2012 http://osupress.oregonstate.edu/book/asserting-native-resilience).  Also see information about the Climate Change and Pacific Rim Indigenous Nations Project at http://academic.evergreen.edu/g/grossmaz/climate.html


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