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Night of the Living Dead, Climate Change-Style: How to Stop the Fossil Fuel Industry From Wrecking Our World

TomDispatch.com, January 19, 2016, By Bill McKibben

"When I was a kid, I was creepily fascinated by the wrongheaded idea, current in my grade school, that your hair and your fingernails kept growing after you died. The lesson seemed to be that it was hard to kill something off -- if it wanted to keep going.

Something similar is happening right now with the fossil fuel industry. Even as the global warming crisis makes it clear that coal, natural gas, and oil are yesterday’s energy, the momentum of two centuries of fossil fuel development means new projects keep emerging in a zombie-like fashion.

In fact, the climactic fight at the end of the fossil fuel era is already underway, even if it’s happening almost in secret. That’s because so much of the action isn’t taking place in big, headline-grabbing climate change settings like the recent conference of 195 nations in Paris; it’s taking place in hearing rooms and farmers’ fields across this continent (and other continents, too).  Local activists are making desperate stands to stop new fossil fuel projects, while the giant energy companies are making equally desperate attempts to build while they still can. Though such conflicts and protests are mostly too small and local to attract national media attention, the outcome of these thousands of fights will do much to determine whether we emerge from this century with a habitable planet. In fact, far more than any set of paper promises by politicians, they really are the battle for the future. ..."

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Obama Rejects Construction of Keystone XL Oil Pipeline

The New York Times, November 6, 2015, By Coral Davenport

"President Obama on Friday announced that he has rejected the request from a Canadian company to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline, ending a seven-year review that had become a flash point in the debate over his climate policies.

President Obama’s denial of the proposed 1,179-mile pipeline, which would have carried 800,000 barrels a day of carbon-heavy petroleum from the Canadian oil sands to the Gulf Coast, comes as he is seeking to build an ambitious legacy on climate change.

“The pipeline would not make a meaningful longterm contribution to our economy,’’ Mr. Obama said in remarks from the White House.

The move was made ahead of a major United Nations summit meeting on climate change to be held in Paris in December, when Mr. Obama hopes to help broker a historic agreement committing the world’s nations to enacting new policies to counter global warming. While the rejection of the pipeline is largely symbolic, Mr. Obama has sought to telegraph to other world leaders that the United States is serious about acting on climate change. ..."

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Exxon Mobil Investigated for Possible Climate Change Lies by New York Attorney General

The New York Times, November 5, 2015, By Justin Gillis and Clifford Krauss

"The New York attorney general has begun an investigation of Exxon Mobil to determine whether the company lied to the public about the risks of climate change or to investors about how such risks might hurt the oil business.

According to people with knowledge of the investigation, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued a subpoena Wednesday evening to Exxon Mobil, demanding extensive financial records, emails and other documents.

The investigation focuses on whether statements the company made to investors about climate risks as recently as this year were consistent with the company’s own long-running scientific research. ..."

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Warming Climate Is Deepening California Drought

Earth Institute, Columbia University, August 20, 2015

Scientists Say Increasing Heat Drives Moisture from Ground

"A new study says that global warming has measurably worsened the ongoing California drought. While scientists largely agree that natural weather variations have caused a lack of rain, an emerging consensus says that rising temperatures may be making things worse by driving moisture from plants and soil into the air. The new study is the first to estimate how much worse: as much as a quarter. The findings suggest that within a few decades, continually increasing temperatures and resulting moisture losses will push California into even more persistent aridity. The study appears this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

 "A lot of people think that the amount of rain that falls out the sky is the only thing that matters," said lead author A. Park Williams, a bioclimatologist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. "But warming changes the baseline amount of water that's available to us, because it sends water back into the sky."

The study adds to growing evidence that climate change is already bringing extreme weather to some regions. California is the world's eighth-largest economy, ahead of most countries, but many scientists think that the nice weather it is famous for may now be in the process of going away. The record-breaking drought is now in its fourth year; it is drying up wells, affecting major produce growers and feeding wildfires now sweeping over vast areas. ..."

http://earth.columbia.edu/articles/view/3258

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Islamic Declaration Blasts Short-Sighted Capitalism, Demands Action on Climate

Common Dreams, August 18, 2015, By Jon Queally

"Just as scientists announced July was the hottest month in recorded history, and ahead of a major climate summit in Paris later this year, an international group of Islamic leaders on Tuesday released a public declaration calling on the religion's 1.6 billion followers to engage on the issue of global warming and take bold action to stem its worst impacts.

Released during an international symposium taking place in Istanbul, the Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change is signed by 60 Muslim scholars and leaders of the faith who acknowledge that—despite the short-term economic benefits of oil, coal, and gas—humanity's use of fossil fuels is the main cause of global warming which increasingly threatens 'a functioning climate, healthy air to breathe, regular seasons, and living oceans.'

The declaration states there is deep irony that humanity's 'unwise and short-sighted use of these resources is now resulting in the destruction of the very conditions that have made our life on earth possible.'

'Our attitude to these gifts has been short-sighted, and we have abused them,' it continues. 'What will future generations say of us, who leave them a degraded planet as our legacy? How will we face our Lord and Creator?'

The declaration by the Muslim leaders follows the widely lauded encyclical released by Pope Francis, leader of the Roman Catholic Church, earlier this summer in which he called for a drastic transformation of the world's economies and energy systems in order to stave off the worst impacts of an increasingly hotter planet. Additionally, hundreds of Jewish Rabbis also released a Rabbinic Letter on the Climate Crisis and dozens of other denominations and churches have joined the global movement to divest their financial holdings from the fossil fuel industry. ..."

http://commondreams.org/news/2015/08/18/islamic-declaration-blasts-short-sighted-capitalism-demands-action-climate

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Temperatures in June set another global heat record

CBS News, July 20, 2015, By Michael Casey

"The world endured record temperatures in June that helped make the first six months of this year the warmest ever, setting the stage for 2015 to be another unprecedented scorcher.

Temperatures across global land and ocean surfaces were 1.58 degrees above the 20th century average and the highest for June since modern record-keeping began in 1880, surpassing the previous record set last year by 0.22 degrees, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's monthly summary, released Monday.

On land, the temperature was 2.27 degrees above the 20th century average, which was the highest for June in the 1880-2015 record, surpassing the previous record set in 2012 by 0.11 degrees.

A similar trend was seen in the world's oceans, with average sea surface temperature 1.33 degrees above the 20th century average. Sea surface temperatures were the highest for June in the 1880-2015 record, surpassing the previous record set last year by 0.11 degrees. ..."

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/temperatures-in-june-were-hottest-on-record/

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New climate report says Earth in hotter water

Al Jazeera America, July 16, 2015, by Renee Lewis

Record land and ocean temperatures highlighted in NOAA's annual ‘State of the Climate’ report

"Sea levels, greenhouse gases and both land and sea temperatures reached record highs in 2014, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s annual 'State of the Climate' report published Thursday.

'This report represents data from around the globe, from hundreds of scientists and gives us a picture of what happened in 2014,' Thomas R. Karl, director of the NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, said in a statement.

'The variety of changing indicators shows us how our climate is changing, not just in temperature but from the depths of the oceans to the outer atmosphere,' Karl said.

The annual report...was published in partnership with the American Meteorological Society. ..."

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/7/16/noaa-releases-state-of-the-climate-report.html

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Internal Documents Expose Fossil Fuel Industry’s Decades of Deception on Climate Change

EcoWatch, July 9, 2015 | Elliott Negin, Union of Concerned Scientists

"... Back in 2007, a Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) report revealed that ExxonMobil—then the world’s largest publicly traded oil and gas company—had spent $16 million between 1998 and 2005 on a network of more than 40 front groups to try to discredit mainstream climate science. Billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, meanwhile, were outed by a 2010 Greenpeace report revealing they spent significantly more than ExxonMobil between 2005 and 2008 on virtually the same groups. Many of those groups and the scientists affiliated with them had previously shilled for the tobacco industry.

Despite their outsized role, ExxonMobil and the Koch brothers are just a part of a much bigger story, according to a new UCS report, The Climate Deception Dossiers. After spending nearly a year reviewing a wide range of internal corporate and trade association documents pried loose by leaks, lawsuits and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, UCS researchers have compiled a broader tale of deceit.

Drawing on evidence culled from 85 documents, the report reveals that ExxonMobil and five other top carbon polluters—BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, coal giant Peabody Energy and Royal Dutch Shell—were fully aware of the reality of climate change but continued to spend tens of millions of dollars to promote contrarian arguments they knew to be wrong. Taken together, the documents show that these six companies—in conjunction with the American Petroleum Institute (API), the oil and gas industry’s premier trade association, and a host of front groups—have known for at least two decades that their products are harmful and have intentionally deceived the public about the climate change threat. ..."

https://ecowatch.com/2015/07/09/fossil-fuel-industry-climate-change/

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Pope Francis: "Bold Cultural Revolution" Needed to Save Planet from Climate Change & Consumerism

Democracy Now! via YouTube, June 18, 2015

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Why we fight for the living world: it's about love, and it's time we said so

The Guardian, June 16, 2015, By George Monbiot

Pope Francis reminds us that our relationship to the natural world is about love, not just goods and services

"Who wants to see the living world destroyed? Who wants an end to birdsong, bees and coral reefs, the falcon’s stoop, the salmon’s leap? Who wants to see the soil stripped from the land, the sea rimed with rubbish?

No one. And yet it happens. Seven billion of us allow fossil fuel companies to push shut the narrow atmospheric door through which humanity stepped. We permit industrial farming to tear away the soil, banish trees from the hills, engineer another silent spring. We let the owners of grouse moors, 1% of the 1%, shoot and poison hen harriers, peregrines and eagles. We watch mutely as a small fleet of monster fishing ships trashes the oceans.

Why are the defenders of the living world so ineffective? It is partly, of course, that everyone is complicit; we have all been swept off our feet by the tide of hyperconsumption, our natural greed excited, corporate propaganda chiming with a will to believe that there is no cost. But perhaps environmentalism is also afflicted by a deeper failure: arising possibly from embarrassment or fear, a failure of emotional honesty.

I have asked meetings of green-minded people to raise their hands if they became defenders of nature because they were worried about the state of their bank accounts. Never has one hand appeared. Yet I see the same people base their appeal to others on the argument that they will lose money if we don’t protect the natural world.

Such claims are factual, but they are also dishonest: we pretend that this is what animates us, when in most cases it does not. The reality is that we care because we love. Nature appealed to our hearts, when we were children, long before it appealed to our heads, let alone our pockets. Yet we seem to believe we can persuade people to change their lives through the cold, mechanical power of reason, supported by statistics.

I see the encyclical by Pope Francis, which will be published on Thursday, as a potential turning point. He will argue that not only the physical survival of the poor, but also our spiritual welfare depends on the protection of the natural world; and in both respects he is right.

I don’t mean that a belief in God is the answer to our environmental crisis. ...

What I mean is that Pope Francis, a man with whom I disagree profoundly on matters such as equal marriage and contraception, reminds us that the living world provides not only material goods and tangible services, but is also essential to other aspects of our wellbeing. And you  don’t have to believe in God to endorse that view. ...

If the acknowledgement of love becomes the means by which we inspire environmentalism in others, how do we translate it into political change? But I believe it’s a better grounding for action than pretending that what really matters to us is the state of the economy. By being honest about our motivation we can inspire in others the passions that inspire us."

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/16/pope-encyclical-value-of-living-world

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'Climate Is a Common Good': Pope Francis Calls for Justice on Warming Planet

Common Dreams, July 18, 2015, by John Queally

Leader of Catholic Church says the richest owe the poorest a 'great social debt' for creating the climate crisis, ignoring warnings of its dangers, and refusing to act

"A message to leaders and supporters of the Roman Catholic Church by Pope Francis, cataloging the threat of climate change and the moral imperative to act aggressively to combat its root causes, is being heralded around the world on Thursday as a powerful—even 'radical'—statement from one of the world's most recognizable religious leaders.

Released in the form of a 180-page Papal Encyclical (pdf)—a formal letter to all the bishops of the church—the document codifies an official message from the spiritual leader, who makes the case that acting on climate change is not just a matter of decreasing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are fueling global warming, but also involves addressing the inequities and injustices caused by the fossil fuel-driven economy and resulting climate change.

'This home of ours is being ruined and that damages everyone, especially the poor,' reads the pope's message on the environment, climate, and social justice.

The encyclical states:

'The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. At the global level, it is a complex system linked to many of the essential conditions for human life. A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon. Humanity is called to recognise the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it. ... The problem is aggravated by a model of development based on the intensive use of fossil fuels, which is at the heart of the worldwide energy system. Another determining factor has been an increase in changed uses of the soil, principally deforestation for agricultural purposes. ...

Many of those who possess more resources and economic or political power seem mostly to be concerned with masking the problems or concealing their symptoms, simply making efforts to reduce some of the negative impacts of climate change. However, many of these symptoms indicate that such effects will continue to worsen if we continue with current models of production and consumption. There is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced, for example, substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy. ...

The same mindset which stands in the way of making radical decisions to reverse the trend of global warming also stands in the way of achieving the goal of eliminating poverty.'"

http://commondreams.org/news/2015/06/18/climate-common-good-pope-francis-calls-justice-warming-planet

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Religious climate activists energized by pope’s environment encyclical

Al Jazeera America, June 17, 2015, By Sarah Posner

"Pope Francis’ forthcoming encyclical on the environment and climate change is being met with enthusiasm among religious environmental activists, who say it could represent a transformational moment to spur increased faith-based activism and, they hope, break the political gridlock on addressing the climate crisis.

'Given his large platform and the number of people, not just Catholics, he’s speaking to and for, we think it can be one of the most important, game-changing events in the whole discussion of climate change,' said Rabbi Moti Rieber, a coordinator at Kansas Interfaith Power and Light, part of a national movement aimed at mobilizing religious activists to combat climate change.

On Monday a leaked draft revealed the pope’s affirmation of a scientific consensus about 'the presence of an alarming warming of the climatic system.' The final version will be released on Thursday.

For state and local activists like Rieber, Francis’ upcoming visit to the United States in September, during which he will address the United Nations and Congress, will 'make this a visible issue, with the full strength of his office.' Rieber hopes that the pope’s discussion of climate change 'will reach into areas that have not really been reached with climate change messaging — like Kansas.'

Although care for the environment has long been a central tenet not just of Catholicism but also of Judaism, Islam and other faiths, the environmental movement has long been animated largely by secular activism. Religious activists working on climate issues at the grass-roots level are delighted that Francis’ encyclical is expected to support the scientific consensus on climate change, declare a moral imperative to address an urgent crisis and focus on the disproportionate impact of climate change on the world’s poor. ..."

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/6/17/encyclical-pope-climate-activists.html

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One-Third Of The World's Largest Groundwater Sources Are In Serious Trouble: Study

The Huffington Post, June 17, 2015, By Hilary Hanson

"The earth's biggest groundwater basins are being depleted far more quickly than previously believed, according to two new studies by the University of California, Irvine (UCI).

The studies used data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites gathered between 2003 and 2013 to examine the 37 largest aquifers on the planet. Twenty-one of those aquifers have exceeded their sustainability 'tipping points,' meaning they lose more water every year than is being naturally replenished through processes like rainfall or snow melt, said Jay Famiglietti, senior water scientist at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and principal investigator in the two studies.

Out of those 21, eight were found to be 'overstressed,' meaning there is 'nearly no natural replenishment' to restore water used by humans, according to a statement from UCI. Another five were designated 'extremely or highly stressed,' signifying that they are "still in trouble" but have "some water flowing back into them.' ..."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/17/groundwater-depletion-nasa-study_n_7603292.html

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Fix the Soil, Feed the Planet, Save the World: The Power of Regeneration

Common Dreams, June 8, 2015, By Deidre Fulton

"Seeking to elevate sustainable forms of agriculture such as agroecology, holistic grazing, cover cropping, permaculture, and agroforestry over industrial practices that degrade soil, introduce toxins to the food supply—and exacerbate climate change—a group of farmers, scientists, and activists are convening for the Regenerative International Conference in Costa Rica this week. 

The conference, the first of a planned series of similar gatherings around the world, will focus on uniting movements, developing campaigns, and creating a global media plan to communicate specifically how restoring soil health can reverse damage to ecosystems around the world.

'This is new science that’s connecting the food issues with the climate issue, making it more and more clear that by fixing the soil, and fixing the way we produce food, we can fix the climate as well,' said Ronnie Cummins, international director of the Organic Consumers Association..."

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/06/08/fix-soil-feed-planet-save-world-power-regeneration

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How mankind blew the fight against climate change

The Washington Post, June 5, 2015, By Bill McKibben

"If historians someday need to explain how mankind managed to blow the fight against climate change, they need only point to last month’s shareholder meeting at Exxon Mobil headquarters in Dallas.

The meeting came two days after Texas smashed old rainfall records — almost doubled them, in some cases — and as authorities were still searching for families swept away after rivers crested many feet beyond their previous records. As Exxon Mobil’s Rex Tillerson — the highest-paid chief executive of the richest fossil fuel firm on the planet — gave his talk, the death toll from India’s heat wave mounted and pictures circulated on the Internet of Delhi’s pavement literally melting. Meanwhile, satellite images showed Antarctica’s Larsen B ice shelf on the edge of disintegration.

And how did Tillerson react? By downplaying climate change and mocking renewable energy. ...

... Divestment won’t move Exxon Mobil directly — that’s impossible; the company is dug in, and someone else will simply buy the stock when it’s sold. But divestment will undercut the industry’s political power, just as happened a generation ago when the issue was South Africa and hundreds of colleges, churches, and state and local governments took action. In the words of Nobel Peace Prize recipient Desmond Tutu, who helped spearhead the anti-apartheid drive, 'we were not only able to apply economic pressure on the unjust state but also serious moral pressure.' Divestment is one tool to change the zeitgeist, so that the day arrives more quickly when the richest and most powerful can no longer mock renewable energy and play down climate change."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-perils-of-engagement/2015/06/05/1d3392ea-094c-11e5-9e39-0db921c47b93_story.html

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Renewable Energy Will Not Support Economic Growth

Resilience.org, June 5, 2015, By Richard Heinberg

"The world needs to end its dependence on fossil fuels as quickly as possible. That’s the only sane response to climate change, and to the economic dilemma of declining oil, coal, and gas resource quality and increasing extraction costs. The nuclear industry is on life support in most countries, so the future appears to lie mostly with solar and wind power. But can we transition to these renewable energy sources and continue using energy the way we do today? And can we maintain our growth-based consumer economy?

The answer to both questions is, probably not. ...

That doesn’t have to be a bad thing. The globalized consumer society was always unsustainable anyway, and we might be happier without it. ..."

http://www.resilience.org/stories/2015-06-05/renewable-energy-will-not-support-economic-growth

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Women and Biodiversity Feed the World, Not Corporations and GMOs

Common Dreams, May 20, 2015, by Vandana Shiva

Biodiverse ecological agriculture in women's hands is a solution not just to the malnutrition crisis, but also the climate crisis.

"The two great ecological challenges of our times are biodiversity erosion and climate change. And both are interconnected, in their causes and their solutions.

Industrial agriculture is the biggest contributor to biodiversity erosion as well as to climate change. According to the United Nations, 93% of all plant variety has disappeared over the last 80 years. ...

Women have been the primary growers of food and nutrition throughout history, but today, food is being taken out of our hands and substituted for toxic commodities controlled by global corporations. Monoculture industrial farming has taken the quality, taste and nutrition out of our food.

In addition to destroying biodiversity, industrial agriculture is the biggest contributor of greenhouse gases (GHGs) which are leading to climate change and climate chaos. ...40% of all GHGs—including carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and methane—come from industrialised globalized agriculture. And chemical monocultures are also more vulnerable to climate change...

On the other hand, organic farming reduces emissions, and also makes agriculture more resilient to climate change. Because organic farming is based on returning organic matter to the soil, it is the most effective means to remove excess carbon in the air, where it does not belong, and putting it in the soil, where it belongs. Navdanya’s research has shown that organic farming has increased carbon absorption by 55%. International studies show that with 2 tons of Soil Organic Matter (SOM) per hectare, we can remove 10 gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which can reduce the atmospheric concentration of carbon back down to pre-industrial levels of 350 ppm. ..."

http://commondreams.org/views/2015/05/20/women-and-biodiversity-feed-world-not-corporations-and-gmos

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Taking Charge, For The Love Of The Earth

The Vermont Standard, April 22, 2015, By Virginia Dean

"For the last 30 years, local resident and global community activist Anne Macksoud, along with co-worker, filmmaker and Shambhala teacher John Ankele, has devoted her time and energy to crafting new solutions to old but significant problems involving planet earth and its inhabitants.

Describing themselves as wise Tibetan llamas or 'old dogs,' the business duo have become some of the leading voices of ecological wisdom in Western society in recent years, according to several national sources.

'We are … saddened by the suffering we see all around us and moved to take action,' the pair states on their website, www.olddogdocumentaries.org. 'Our political leaders cannot solve the problems of our time. They themselves are too beholden to privileged, powerful constituencies motivated to preserve the status quo. Change must start with ordinary people who understand the interrelatedness of our global community.'

...Macksoud found the perfect vehicle to lend her political voice through the documentary. Indeed, as Macksoud has argued, film is a means to an end, 'a useful tool for opening minds and hearts.' Nowhere is this more evident than in her new film, The Wisdom to Survive: Climate Change, Capitalism and Community...

The solution, Macksoud claims, is not to continue to destroy but to build a 'living economy' from the ground up.' ..."

http://www.thevermontstandard.com/2015/04/taking-charge-for-the-love-of-the-earth/


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Tim DeChrisopher: The Church Should Lead, Not Follow on Climate Justice

EcoWatch, Tim DeChristopher | April 8, 2015

"Recently, there has been a growing discussion of climate change as a moral issue, both in academia and in religious communities. This past fall I spoke at three religion and climate change conferences in as many months, including a conference at Harvard Divinity School, “Spiritual and Sustainable: Religion Responds to Climate Change,” and in June 2015 I will join many global thinkers at a process theology conference on climate change in Claremont, California.

The highly anticipated encyclical from Pope Francis on climate change will undoubtedly contribute and bring attention to this discourse. Frequently, however, the acknowledgment that climate change is a moral issue on which religious people should engage is the end of the conversation. There has not been nearly enough discussion about what it means to engage with this moral challenge. We have not yet answered how and where we should be taking our stand in response to climate change. I argue that when religious people answer the call of the climate crisis, we must bring real moral leadership to the climate justice movement. ..."

http://ecowatch.com/2015/04/08/tim-dechrisopher-climate-change/

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7 must-see films at the 2015 Environmental Film Fest

Mother Nature Network, March 16, 2015, By Michael d'Estries

"This week marks the return of the Environmental Film Festival, the country's largest and longest-running festival dedicated to the genre. Over 60 filmmakers will gather in Washington, D.C., to screen, discuss and celebrate more than 160 films covering everything from species extinction to factory farming to the wonders of nature. This year's theme, Climate Connections, will also explore "the pervasive impact of climate change on our planet" through 40 films and events. ...

The Wisdom to Survive: Climate Change, Capitalism & Community

Featuring commentary by activists, scientists and many other notables, The Wisdom to Survive focuses on economic growth, consumerism, and greed as the biggest obstacles to mankind's ability to tackle climate change. A review last fall by Spirituality and Practice called it 'by far, the best and most inspiring, enlightening, and creative social-issue documentary on climate change.' ..."

http://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/arts-culture/blogs/7-must-see-films-at-the-2015-environmental-film-fest

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Obama Vetoes Bill Pushing Pipeline Approval

"President Obama on Tuesday rejected an attempt by lawmakers to force his hand on the Keystone XL oil pipeline, using his veto pen to sweep aside one of the first major challenges to his authority by the new Republican Congress.

With no fanfare and a 104-word letter to the Senate, Mr. Obama vetoed legislation to authorize construction of a 1,179-mile pipeline that would carry 800,000 barrels of heavy petroleum a day from the oil sands of Alberta to ports and refineries on the Gulf Coast.

In exercising the unique power of the Oval Office for only the third time since his election in 2008, Mr. Obama accused lawmakers of seeking to circumvent the administration’s approval process for the pipeline by cutting short 'consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest.' ..."

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/25/us/politics/as-expected-obama-vetoes-keystone-xl-pipeline-bill.html

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The Children’s Climate Crusade

Moyers & Company, January 1, 2015

The very agencies created to protect our environment have been hijacked by the polluting industries they were meant to regulate. It may just turn out that the judicial system, our children and their children will save us from ourselves, Mary Christina Wood, a legal scholar, tells Bill Moyers this week.

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The Wisdom To Survive: a film to lift your mind and heart

BOWEN IN TRANSITION / Bowen Island Undercurrent
January 1, 2015

"The world will be saved by beauty,” wrote Dostoevsky, who is quoted in the prophetic film, The Wisdom to Survive, the latest film in the Forward Focus Series to be screened on Saturday, January 10 at 7 PM at the Gallery.

A stirring call-to-arms, The Wisdom to Survive juxtaposes the stunning beauty, diversity and inter-connectedness of the natural world, with the soulless, perpetual growth machine of capitalism. It explores how unlimited growth and greed are destroying the life support system of the planet, the social fabric of the society, and the lives of billions of people. It asks the question; “Will we have the wisdom to survive?”

The film is compelling and hopeful at a time when we are bombarded by dystopian visions of the future. Thought leaders and activists in the realms of science, economics and spirituality discuss how we can evolve and take action in the face of climate disruption. Bill McKibben, Joanna Macy and others are featured in this deeply moving and profoundly engaging documentary, which provides visions of how we could live in the midst of massive environmental challenges.
The visuals are stunning. The message is clear: we are connected by our shared grief at what is happening to the Earth and by our shared hope and commitment to the future. “If you want an adventure,” says Joanna Macy in the film, “what a time to choose to be alive. Don’t waste time in self-pity over darkness. Don’t waste time trying to figure out better circumstances that you might like. You were born into this (beautiful Earth) and you are here to love it and to see that it goes on.”

http://www.bowenislandundercurrent.com/arts/the-wisdom-to-survive-a-film-to-lift-your-mind-and-heart-1.1701975

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Pope Francis’s edict on climate change will anger deniers and US churches

The Guardian, December 27, 2014, By John Vidal
Pontiff hopes to inspire action at next year’s UN meeting in Paris in December after visits to Philippines and New York

"He has been called the 'superman pope', and it would be hard to deny that Pope Francis has had a good December. Cited by President Barack Obama as a key player in the thawing relations between the US and Cuba, the Argentinian pontiff followed that by lecturing his cardinals on the need to clean up Vatican politics. But can Francis achieve a feat that has so far eluded secular powers and inspire decisive action on climate change?

It looks as if he will give it a go. In 2015, the pope will issue a lengthy message on the subject to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, give an address to the UN general assembly and call a summit of the world’s main religions.

The reason for such frenetic activity, says Bishop Marcelo Sorondo, chancellor of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, is the pope’s wish to directly influence next year’s crucial UN climate meeting in Paris, when countries will try to conclude 20 years of fraught negotiations with a universal commitment to reduce emissions.

'Our academics supported the pope’s initiative to influence next year’s crucial decisions,' Sorondo told Cafod, the Catholic development agency, at a meeting in London. 'The idea is to convene a meeting with leaders of the main religions to make all people aware of the state of our climate and the tragedy of social exclusion.' ...”

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/27/pope-francis-edict-climate-change-us-rightwing

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"It Is Not Hopeless," says World's Chief Climate Scientist

CommonDreams.org, October 28, 2014, by Jon Queally

As Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change opens meeting to finalize latest report to the world, head of agency says meeting challenge of global warming will not be easy, but that it can be done

"'It is not hopeless.'

That was the key message delivered in Copenhagen on Monday by Rajendra Pachauri, chairperson of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), as the agency met to finalize the findings and language of its pending Synthesis Report, the last installment of its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), designed to provide the world's policymakers with a comprehensive scientific assessment of the risks of human-caused global warming and climate change.

'The Synthesis Report will provide the roadmap by which policymakers will hopefully find their way to a global agreement to finally reverse course on climate change,' said Pachauri. 'It gives us the knowledge to make informed choices, the knowledge to build a brighter, more sustainable future. It enhances our vital understanding of the rationale for action—and the serious implications for inaction.' ...

'We still have time to build a better, more sustainable world. We still have time to avoid the most serious impacts of climate change... But we have precious little of that time.' ..."

http://commondreams.org/news/2014/10/28/it-not-hopeless-says-worlds-chief-climate-scientist

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Beating Climate Change by Retooling the Economy — The Story Begins in Navajo Country

Yes! Magazine, October 17, 2014, by Mary Hansen

A proposed community-owned solar project on an abandoned coal mine in Arizona illustrates how cooperative economics make it possible to stop extracting fossil fuels—without leaving workers behind.

"The story of Black Mesa illustrates a realization that is sweeping through the network of organizations, individuals, and coalitions working to fight global warming: While the burning of fossil fuels causes climate change, simply shutting down these industries leaves workers and their families behind, and often result in a familiar conflict over 'jobs versus the environment.'

Now, many climate justice activists are ... refusing to be limited by the 'jobs or the environment' dichotomy.

'The central solutions to address the climate crisis are not actually going to come from looking up and counting carbon in the atmosphere,' Mascarenhas-Swan [co-director of the Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project and co-chair of the Climate Justice Alliance] said. 'They are going to come from remaking the economy, which is the root of this struggle.' ...

That leadership can been seen back in Arizona, where the Black Mesa Water Coalition is moving forward on a 1- to 5-megawatt solar power plant proposed for the site of the abandoned coal mine. And here’s where new economy ideas come in: The coalition hopes the facility will be owned and controlled by the Navajo people and will provide reliable jobs.

'We were once the battery for the Southwest [with our coal production],' said Roberto Nutlouis, the Black Mesa Water Coalition’s green economy coordinator. 'Why not convert these reclaimed lands into something more sustainable and healthy for our community?' ...

'There’s a deeper way of valuing things, beyond a capitalist way,' Nutlouis said. 'We need an economy that restores the health of our people and the health of our land.'"

http://www.yesmagazine.org/commonomics/beating-climate-change-retooling-economy-navajo-country

 

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Investing in Renewables Can Relieve Our Planet — While Reviving Our Economy

Yes! Magazine, October 16, 2014, by Anthony Giancatarino

Carbon reduction alone cannot solve our climate crisis, because it is continuously fed by our economic crisis. But renewables can be a critical driver in building a healthier economic system, free of the fossil fuel industry.

"In Columbia, South Carolina, Black landowners and farmers asked, “Can we create a solar or wind farm to generate clean energy that can help build our wealth and keep our land?”

In Buffalo, New York, low-income residents of color pushed for energy-efficiency investments to cut energy bills and create jobs.

And, in Richmond, California, Asian communities demanded that Chevron stop polluting their air and that the government invest in community-owned solar projects.

These stories are part of a common and resounding theme of strategies and solutions that communities of color have been advocating for over the years—we must invest in community-owned renewable energy if we want to build our local economy, cut our energy costs, and create cleaner environments for our kids. ..."

http://www.yesmagazine.org/commonomics/status-quo-solutions-to-climate-change-are-not-enough

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Capitalism vs. the Climate: Naomi Klein on Need for New Economic Model to Address Ecological Crisis

Democracy Now!, September 18, 2014

"As the United Nations prepares to hold one-day global summit on climate change, we speak to award-winning author Naomi Klein about her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. In the book, Klein details how our neoliberal economic system and our planetary system are now at war. With global emissions at an all-time high, Klein says radical action is needed. 'We have not done the things that are necessary to lower emissions because those things fundamentally conflict with deregulated capitalism, the reigning ideology for the entire period we have been struggling to find a way out of this crisis,' Klein writes. 'We are stuck because the actions that would give us the best chance of averting catastrophe — and would benefit the vast majority — are extremely threatening to an elite minority that has a stranglehold over our economy, our political process, and most of our major media outlets.'

This video is an excerpt of an extended interview with Naomi Klein. Watch the full segment here: http://www.democracynow.org/appearances/naomi_klein"

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The Time Has Come for Agroecology

Inter Press Service, September 25, 2014, by Geneviève Lavoie-Mathieu

"'It is time for a new agricultural model that ensures that enough quality food is produced where it is most needed, that preserves nature and that delivers ecosystem services of local and global relevance' – in a word, it is time for agroecology.

The call came from Pablo Tittonell of Wageningen University, one of the world’s leading institutions in the field of agriculture science, speaking at the International Symposium on Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition, organised by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The symposium, held at FAO headquarters in Rome on Sep. 18-19, gathered experts from many backgrounds, including scientists, scholars, policy-makers and farmers.

In an open letter ahead of the U.N. Climate Change Summit on Sep. 23 in New York, some 70 scientists and scholars said that in times of climate change, food insecurity and poverty, 'agroecology, especially when paired with principles of food sovereignty and food justice, offers opportunities to address all of these problems.' ..."
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Vandana Shiva, Winona LaDuke & Desmond D'Sa on a Global, Grassroots Response to U.N. Climate Summit

Democracy Now!, September 23, 2014

"Two days after the historic People's Climate March, world leaders are gathering in New York City today for a United Nations summit on climate change. President Obama, along with more than 100 heads of state, are expected to attend. But the leaders of several major polluters, including China, India and Canada, are skipping the talks. The summit is part of a lengthy and so far failed process leading to climate negotiations in Paris next year, when countries will seek a binding deal to limit the emissions that cause global warming. We speak to three leading environmentalists: Vandana Shiva of India, Desmond D'Sa of South Africa, and Winona LaDuke of the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota."

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Voices from the People’s Climate March: Indigenous Groups Lead Historic 400,000-Strong NYC Protest

Democracy Now!, September 22, 2014, interviews by Aaron Maté and Elizabeth Press

"As many as 400,000 people turned out in New York City on Sunday for the People's Climate March, the largest environmental protest in history. With a turnout far exceeding expectations, the streets of midtown Manhattan were filled with environmentalists, politicians, musicians, students, farmers, celebrities, nurses and labor activists -- all united in their demand for urgent action on climate change. Organizers arranged the People's Climate March into different contingents reflecting the movement's diversity, with indigenous groups in the lead. Democracy Now! producers Aaron Maté and Elizabeth Press were in the streets to hear from some of the demonstrators taking part in the historic protest."

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World Council of Churches pulls fossil fuel investments

The Guardian (London), July 11, 2014, by Adam Vaughan

"An umbrella group of churches, which represents over half a billion Christians worldwide, has decided to pull its investments out of fossil fuel companies.

The move by the World Council of Churches, which has 345 member churches including the Church of England but not the Catholic church, was welcomed as a "major victory" by climate campaigners who have been calling on companies and institutions such as pension funds, universities and local governments to divest from coal, oil and gas.

In an article for the Guardian in April, Archbishop Desmond Tutu said that "people of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change" and events sponsored by fossil fuel companies could even be boycotted.

Bill McKibben, the founder of climate campaign group 350.org, said in a statement: "The World Council of Churches reminds us that morality demands thinking as much about the future as about ourselves – and that there's no threat to the future greater than the unchecked burning of fossil fuels. This is a remarkable moment for the 590 million Christians in its member denominations: a huge percentage of humanity says today 'this far and no further'."

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/11/world-council-of-churches-pulls-fossil-fuel-investments


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From Occupy to Climate Justice

There’s a growing effort to merge economic-justice and climate activism. Call it climate democracy.

The Nation, By Wen Stephenson
| February 24, 2014, edition of The Nation

"Anyone who is committed to the hard work of bringing deep structural change to our economic, social and political systems—the kind of change that requires a long-term strategy of organizing and movement-building—is now faced with scientific facts so immediate and so dire as to render a life’s work seemingly futile. The question, then, becomes how to escape that paralyzing sense of futility, and how to accelerate the sort of grassroots democratic mobilization we need if we’re to salvage any hope of a just and stable society.

I don’t know anyone who has all the answers, but I do know a few people who are at least asking the right kinds of questions, starting the necessary conversations and actually working to connect climate and economic-justice organizing across the country. As it happens, more than a few of them were engaged in Occupy. (David Graeber should be proud.) They point to a convergence of movements for economic democracy and climate justice, and show us what a trajectory from Occupy to something new—call it climate democracy—might look like.

Equally important, they’re acting with the kind of urgency, and commitment to civil resistance, that the crisis demands. They know there can be no climate justice without economic justice, but they also know there won’t be any economic justice—any justice at all—without facing up to our climate reality, simultaneously slashing emissions and building resilience. They know the “climate” part of “climate justice” cannot be an afterthought, some optional add-on to please “environmentalists.” Because this shit is real. And the game is far from over. No matter what happens in terms of climate policy in the next few years—and the prospects are not pretty—current and future generations have to live through what’s coming. ...

Rachel is the 26-year-old director of youth and student organizing for the New Economy Coalition, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. ...

It was around this time, in late 2011 and early 2012, that she started talking with Bob Massie, a longtime social-justice and environmental activist, ordained Episcopal priest with a doctorate from Harvard Business School and, among other things, the initiator of the Investor Network on Climate Risk. Massie had recently been hired to head the New Economics Institute, which merged early last year with the New Economy Network to form the NEC. Rachel began to realize ... that the kind of work going on in the “new economy” or “solidarity economy” movement—with things like cooperatives and worker-owned businesses, community-development financial institutions, community land trusts, local agriculture and community-owned renewable energy, as well as efforts to reconceive corporations and redefine economic growth—is challenging the dominant and unsustainable corporate capitalist system. And not simply rejecting that system, she emphasizes, but “creating new economic institutions that are democratic and participatory, decentralized to appropriate scale so that decisions are made at the most local level that makes sense and, rather than only prioritizing one thing—the maximization of profit—prioritizing people, place and planet.”

"New-economy innovations are occurring all over the country, bubbling up,” Massie told me. “What they lack is mutual awareness, mutual support and mutual connectivity.” There’s potential for real transformation, he believes, in providing those connections. “As people become aware of each other, their frame of reference about what’s happening, and what could happen, changes. They realize all these problems are linked—but all these solutions may also be linked.” ...

Jihan Gearon, executive director of the Black Mesa Water Coalition, grew up on the Navajo reservation in Arizona. She told me that their approach to climate is “holistic,” addressing not only emissions as they move away from coal but also adaptation—especially as water becomes scarce—and economic transition. “We are not content with parts per million of CO2 reduced,” she said. “We also want to ensure that we protect health, water and jobs as we reduce CO2.”"

http://www.thenation.com/article/178242/occupy-climate-justice

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Ben Falk, Whole Systems Design

Vimeo.com by Olivier Asselin
Ben Falk is a permaculture designer based in Moretown, Vermont.

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Introducing Bullfrog Communities


Welcome to
Bullfrog Communities

We aim to energize change, and to help local activists broaden their reach.

  • We provide powerful films and all the support materials you need to create an effective community event.

  • We will send out strategic petitions, asking you to sign and send them on to your network, using the power of this medium on behalf of the people and the earth. These will be either national in scope — asking you to join an uproar of opinion, or very local — asking you to add your voice to attain a specific victory, which may provide a watershed — changing the mindset of the people empowered in a community, of multinational corporations' assumptions as to what they can get away with, and of politicians who notice the change in the wind.

  • We will provide a forum for sharing ideas that work and news that can inform action on an issue. We ask for your discussion, suggestions, feedback, and reports of successes in your community.

Please join. Let's see what we can accomplish together.

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Marvelous and Moving. Beautiful Work.
— Fran Korten, Yes! Magazine