Tag: Naomi Klein

No signs of intelligent life!

Sometimes one just has to scratch one’s head and wonder about life!

I can’t recall when and where I first heard the muse as to why Planet Earth has not been visited by aliens, but I recall the answer: “Because alien passers-by have not found any signs of intelligent life!

The reason that this comes to mind is that the damage that we are doing to our planet, nay to life on our planet, if we don’t embrace the reality of climate change is truly ‘gob-smacking’!

The evidence for this statement is over-powering.  Just last Friday, I republished a recent essay from Tom Engelhardt under the title of ‘The more it changes, the more it’s the same thing.”  Tom’s essay focused on the lack of any change that came out of the recent Presidential election.  That essay closed, thus:

But stop waiting for change, “big” or otherwise, to come from Washington.  It won’t.  Don’t misunderstand me: as the residents of the Midwestern drought zone and the Jersey shore now know all too well, change is coming, like it or not.  If, however, you want this country to be something other than its instigator and its victim, if you want the U.S. to engage a world of danger (and also of opportunity), you’d better call yourself and your friends and neighbors to the colors.  Don’t wait for a Washington focused on its own well-being in 2014 or 2016.  Mobilize yourself.  It’s time to occupy this country before it’s blown away in a storm.

An inciteful comment from reader Jules was this:

“Don’t count on anyone doing the obvious: launching the sort of Apollo-style R&D program that once got us to the moon and might speed the U.S. and the planet toward an alternative energy economy, or investing real money in the sort of mitigation projects for the new weather paradigm that might prevent a coastal city like New York — or even Washington – from turning into an uninhabitable disaster zone in some not so distant future.”

A pity. Americans can do some things very well, the kind of stuff that merits some of the hyperbole of being the greatest nation, the ability to mobilise a nation and lead the world being one of them. We need heroes maybe it’s time for you lot to don that cape and be one.

Americans have such a potential for positive change – I just can’t imagine why this Nation isn’t leading the world to a more Earth-friendly environment.

This then came into my ‘in-box’ on Friday: Could NDAA be the Death of Biofuels in America?  The article opened thus:

The US military is one of the most important developers of new technologies leading them to a point where they can be released onto the market for public and private use. Currently the Department of Defense, led by the Navy, is attempting to reduce its dependence on oil by as much as 50% by 2020, by producing US-made biofuels.

and the author concluded:

Nicole Lederer, the co-founder of E2, despaired that, “the military often leads major economic transitions in our country. Yet right now in Washington, some shortsighted lawmakers are poised to block a potentially major transformation of our national energy supply – and also hold back the significant economic growth and job gains that would come with it.”

Russ Teal, founder of the biorefinery builder Biodico, warned that, “the military is the biggest driver of the biofuels industry right now. If Congress stops the military from doing what the military knows is best, Congress also could threaten the growth of the Made-in-America biofuels industry.”

By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com

Then more or less the same time as I read the piece above, in came the latest from 350.org, an essay by Naomi Klein.

Naomi Klein: Do The Math, The Fossil Fuel Industry Is Destroying Our Future

Naomi Klein was out in the shattered neighbourhood of Rockaway Park Queens last weekend, participating in the Occupy relief efforts there. In this interview she underscores the importance of both increasing local resilience as a response to our changing climate and addressing the fossil fuel industry’s business model directly. As 350.org’s Do The Math campaign makes clear, the fossil fuel industry’s business plan will destroy the planet. Bill McKibben reminded the “Do The Math”audience in Seattle this month that the global warming math is quite simple: we can burn 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide and stay below 2 degrees of warming. Anything more than that risks catastrophe for life on earth. The only problem? Fossil fuel corporations now have 2,795 gigatons in their reserves, 5Xs the safe amount. And they are planning to burn it all, unless we rise up & stop them.

So is there any hope?  So easy to think not.  But in terms of hope the answer is “Yes, yes and yes!”  Because the decent peoples of the world are way ahead of their politicians.  Take the transition movement.  I used to live in the village of Harberton, just 3 miles from the town of Totnes, Devon, in the South-West of England.

Totnes High Street

Totnes was the site of the world’s first transition movement: Transition Town Totnes.  But as the Transition US website reveals, there are now:

126 official US initiatives
437 official initiatives worldwide
33 US states
34 countries
13 languages

One of the latest has just been formed in the city where Jean and I were living until just a few weeks ago, namely Payson, Arizona.  Here’s a reflection from John Hurlburt in Payson, one of a group of committed citizens who, like so many millions of others around the world, just can’t wait for governments to ‘lead’ and was one of the founding members of Transition Town Payson.

Keep it Simple

We share a living planet as a living species. Corporate finance fuels political hate and denial. The divisiveness of global and national politics reflects an unprecedented escalating global crisis. We live in a world of constant sorrow.

Our stubborn ignorance is the greatest threat to the objectives of peace and well-being. We have become so entrenched in the ‘ruts’ of our conditioned opinions that any semblance of balanced responsibility is immediately numbed by the deliberate stupidity of well-paid spin-doctors across a global electronic media.

The recovery process is truly simple. Surrender to the scientific facts of our inclusive reality, clean house, and have compassion for each other.  The good news is that a basic natural instinct of all life forms is to survive through adaptation.

John Hurlburt

So, on reflection, I was wrong to open with the degree of irony in my ‘voice’ that I had.  This is now a world of wonderful and amazing communication channels, many of them directly ‘person to person’.  The views of the world’s peoples are now so much louder than in previous times.  I am confident that right, rather than might, will prevail.

Changing the mathematics of the climate!

An important plea to support a major road tour by the 350.org team.

Bill McKibben

There are a number of key players in the movement to arrest the affects of man on the world’s future climate and one of those is Bill McKibben.  His organisation, 350.org, has been at the forefront of raising the public’s awareness as to the terrible consequences of not changing our ways pretty damn soon.

As Wikipedia puts it,

William Ernest “Bill” McKibben (born 1960) is an American environmentalist, author, and journalist who has written extensively on the impact of global warming. He is the Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College. In 2010, the Boston Globe called him “probably the nation’s leading environmentalist”  and Time magazine described him as “the world’s best green journalist.”

Anyway, something came in to my ‘in-box’ the other day that I wanted to share with all Learning from Dogs readers.  This is what was said,


The reaction to our announcement of our national “Do the Math” road tour has been utterly pheneomenal.

Case in point: the event in Boston sold out in 24 hours. We’re trying to find another, larger venue to seat everyone, but the main point is this: this tour is going to be huge, and you need to be part of it.

Get your tickets here (math.350.org), and please do spread the word to everyone you know.

See you on the road,

Bill for the 350.org team

P.S. If you haven’t gotten a chance to read our first announcement, I’ve included it below.


Dear Friends,

We’re getting ready for our most ambitious venture yet.

From November 7th to December 3rd, I’ll be on the road, visiting 20 cities in 20 nights (with a few days for travel in between) to help bring together the movement we need to make sure this planet has a future that we can all appreciate.

We’re calling it the Do the Math tour, but it’s not (thank heaven) just going to be me standing in front of a microphone.The goal is to jump-start the kind of movement that I discussed in the article I wrote for Rolling Stone about the scary new math of climate change. We will bring together musicians, artists and voices from across the movement to work together on directly confronting the financial and political might of the fossil fuel industry.

If you are near one of our stops, I want to make sure you’re there with us. You’re exactly the people we need to be there — folks who understand the climate math already, have experience in the movement, and are willing to step up to do more.

Click to check out the tour and RSVP

These events will need to be big, and reach beyond our normal circle of friends. That’s why we need to make sure that everyone knows that something big is underway. Can you take a moment to share the Do the Math tour site with your social networks?

Click to share on Facebook                 Click to share on Twitter

Also, just a heads up — we’re going to be putting together a live web event so that everyone who doesn’t happen to be near a tour stop can still get together and get a campaign started in their community. Our team is still hammering out the details for the exact date and time, but please keep an eye out — we absolutely need you in this fight.

I do a lot of talks to big groups, but this is a new kind of undertaking for me, and for 350.org. We’re trying to quickly build up some serious momentum, which is why we’ve gone to great lengths to make this a very different kind of event.

Not only will we have music and guests like Naomi Klein, Jim Hansen, Desmond Tutu, in person and via video, this event is also the kickoff to some serious organizing in your community. This tour will launch our next big mission — a campaign to directly confront the economic power of the fossil fuel industry. Our message will be crystal clear: it’s not OK to sacrifice our future for the sake of one industry’s bottom line. Divestment is one important tool that we’ll discuss, but we’re ready for many other tactics as well.

Over the past few months our planet gave stark warning signs that humans have never seen before. The Arctic melted, breaking every record. The Great Plains sweltered. The West burned. This roadshow is the next big step — but the price of admission, besides the ticket, is a willingness to really go to work to change the world in the year ahead. That’s why we need you this November.

The stakes have never been this high, and I’ve never been more serious.

Please join us: math.350.org

–Bill McKibben for 350.org

So go across to that Tour site, where you will read this,

On November 7th, we’re hitting the road to jumpstart the next phase of the climate movement.

It’s simple math: we can burn 565 more gigatons of carbon and stay below 2°C of warming — anything more than that risks catastrophe for life on earth. The only problem? Fossil fuel corporations now have 2,795 gigatons in their reserves, five times the safe amount. And they’re planning to burn it all — unless we rise up to stop them.

This November, Bill McKibben and 350.org are hitting the road to build the movement that will change the terrifying math of the climate crisis.

and see the link to the Tour locations and dates.


***Click a city to sign up and buy tickets.***

Don’t see your town on the map? You can still get involved by signing up here.


This won’t be your typical lecture.

Each event will be a unique and interactive experience, unlike any talk you’ve been to before. It will pick up where Bill McKibben’s landmark Rolling Stone article left off — and everyone who comes will be asked to join a growing movement that is strong enough to stand up to the fossil fuel industry. Together we’ll mount an unprecedented campaign to cut off the industry’s financial and political support by divesting our schools, churches and government from fossil fuels.

This won’t be easy: we’re up against the most profitable, powerful, and dangerous industry in history. But we have our own currency: creativity, courage and if needed, our bodies.

Never let it be said that we, as in all of us, don’t have the power to change the world.  Oh, and feel free to circulate today’s post.

Rivers of ice

or should that be rivers of tears for our planet!

Our beautiful planet

A chance dip into the BBC News website a few days ago allowed me to come across an article about the vanishing glaciers in the Himalayas.  It just about broke my heart.  Here’s what it said,

Rivers of ice: Vanishing glaciers

Stunning images from high in the Himalayas – showing the extent by which many glaciers have shrunk in the past 80 years or so – have gone on display at the Royal Geographical Society in central London.

Between 2007 and 2010, David Breashears retraced the steps of early photographic pioneers such as Major E O Wheeler, George Mallory and Vittorio Sella – to try to re-take their views of breathtaking glacial vistas.

The mountaineer and photographer is the founder of GlacierWorks – a non-profit organisation that uses art, science and adventure to raise public awareness about the consequences of climate change in the Himalayas.

Rivers of Ice: Vanishing Glaciers of the Greater Himalaya can be seen at the RGS in London until 11 November 2011. Admission free.

All photos courtesy GlacierWorks and Royal Geographical Society. Map copyright Jay Hart. All images subject to copyright.

Music courtesy KPM Music. Audio slideshow production by Paul Kerley. Publication date 11 October 2011.

Then follows a 3:59 film made by David Breashears that is so beautiful as well as so upsetting.  I don’t have a way of linking to the film directly but it’s easy to watch, just click here and be very moved.

David Breashears has his own website, from where one can learn that,

David Breashears is an accomplished filmmaker, adventurer, author, mountaineer, and professional speaker. Since 1978, he has combined his skills in climbing and filmmaking to complete more than forty film projects.

In 1983, Breashears transmitted the first live television pictures from the summit of Mount Everest, and in 1985 became the first American to reach the summit of Mount Everest twice.

In the spring of 1996, Breashears co-directed and co-produced the first IMAX film shot on Mount Everest. When the now infamous blizzard of May 10, 1996 hit Mount Everest, killing eight climbers, Expedition Leader Breashears and his team were in the midst of making this historic film. In the tragedy that soon followed, Breashears and his team stopped filming to provide assistance to the stricken climbers. After returning to Base Camp, Breashears and his team then regrouped and reached the summit of the mountain on May 23, 1996, achieving their goal of becoming the first to record IMAX film images at Earth’s highest point. Breashears has said that if there is a lesson to be learned from the May 1996 tragedy, it is that for him, success that year was not to be found in reaching the summit, it was that everyone on his team returned safely. The film, titled EVEREST, premiered in March 1998.

As was written in that BBC item, David is the founder of GlacierWorks which is full of beautiful, albeit tinged with sadness, images of the glaciers featured in that BBC item.  As the GlacierWorks website explains on the home page,

The Mighty Himalayan Glaciers are Vanishing.

The rate of recession is unprecedented, accelerating and, without some remedy to the problem of climate change, unstoppable. GlacierWorks is a non-profit organization that uses art, science, and adventure to raise awareness about the consequences of climate change in the Greater Himalaya.

Read that first sentence again, “The rate of recession is unprecedented, accelerating and, without some remedy to the problem of climate change, unstoppable.” [my emphasis]

There are a number of videos on YouTube if you search for David Breashears, none up to the beauty of the slide show in the BBC item so don’t miss that at all.  However, the following is also worth watching,

OK, a change of topic but one that connects with the underlying message about the disappearing glaciers.  This was an article in the American The Nation newspaper written by Naomi Klein, following her speech to the demonstrators at Occupy Wall Street.  The article really should be read in full but I wanted to highlight just the following words from Naomi,

The point is, today everyone can see that the system is deeply unjust and careening out of control. Unfettered greed has trashed the global economy. And it is trashing the natural world as well. We are overfishing our oceans, polluting our water with fracking and deepwater drilling, turning to the dirtiest forms of energy on the planet, like the Alberta tar sands. And the atmosphere cannot absorb the amount of carbon we are putting into it, creating dangerous warming. The new normal is serial disasters: economic and ecological.

We all know, or at least sense, that the world is upside down: we act as if there is no end to what is actually finite—fossil fuels and the atmospheric space to absorb their emissions. And we act as if there are strict and immovable limits to what is actually bountiful—the financial resources to build the kind of society we need.

The task of our time is to turn this around: to challenge this false scarcity. To insist that we can afford to build a decent, inclusive society—while at the same time, respect the real limits to what the earth can take.

Thanks to Bill Mitchell of Billy Blog for linking me to the Naomi Klein speech.

We can afford to build a decent, inclusive society and we must – not tomorrow but now.  Start with your local community, think about transition.  Some of our grandchildren will be mountaineers – let them see the beautiful rivers of ice.

The XL pipeline. What comes next?

Full copy of an email just in from Bill McKibben.

Dear Friends—

I’m writing this from the lawn in front of the White House.

In front of me there’s a sprawling rally underway, with speakers ranging from indigenous elders to the great Canadian writer Naomi Klein. In back of me, another 243 courageous people are being hauled away to jail — it’s the last day of Phase 1 of the tar sands campaign, and 1,252 North Americans have been arrested, the biggest civil disobedience action this century on this continent.

But we’ve been just as cheered by the help that has poured in from around the world — today, activists in front of the White House held a banner with a huge number on it: 618,428. That’s how many people around the world who signed on to the “Stop the Tar Sands” mega-petition to President Obama, including many of you in the 350.org network. Check out this beautiful photo of passion and courage on display:

(Photo Credit: Josh Lopez. If you can’t see the photo above, click here to see it and more inspirational photos from DC.)

But this movement does more than sign petitions: many of you stood strong in front of the White House risking arrest, and protesters on every continent have picketed outside embassies and consulates. That makes sense, for global warming is the one problem that affects everyone everywhere.

And the next moment to prove that is Sept. 24 for Moving Planet — the massive day of climate action that will unite people all over the world. We’ve heard news of amazing actions from every corner of the earth -— from a massive bike rally in the Philippines to an incredible eco-festival in Philadelphia. I truly can’t wait to see the pictures pour in.

But here’s why it’s important: we’re not just a movement that opposes things, we’re also a movement that dreams of what’s coming. And we don’t just dream, we also transform those dreams into reality. On September 24, on bike and on foot and on boards, we’re going to point the way towards that future. By days’ end, we’ll have shown why the bicycle is more glamorous than the car, and why the people have the potential to be more powerful than the polluters.

On some days fighting global warming means swallowing hard, mustering your courage, and making a sacrifice — other days it means getting all your friends up in the saddles of their bikes to have some fun and help move the planet forward.

September 24 is the second kind of day; it’s going to be powerful, it’s going to be beautiful, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.  Please find or join a local event to get involved. 


Bill McKibben for the whole 350.org team

350.org is building a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis. Our online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions are led from the bottom up by thousands of volunteer organizers in over 188 countries. You can join 350.org on Facebook by becoming a fan of our page atfacebook.com/350org and follow us on twitter by visiting twitter.com/350. To join our list (maybe a friend forwarded you this e-mail) visitwww.350.org/signup. To support our work, donate securely online at 350.org/donate.

What is 350? 
350 is the number that leading scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Scientists measure carbon dioxide in “parts per million” (ppm), so 350ppm is the number humanity needs to get below as soon as possible to avoid runaway climate change. To get there, we need a different kind of PPM–a “people powered movement” that is made of people like you in every corner of the planet.

Feel free to circulate this as far and wide as you wish.  Thanks, Learning from Dogs