Tag: Rolling Stone

Shoulder to the wheel.

Today’s post is devoted entirely to a recent email received from Bill McKibben of 350.org


Dear friends,

Once a year or so, I write a piece that I really want people to read.

Last year it was an article called “The Terrifying New Math of Global Warming,” which helped fuel the divestment campaign that is now blanketing the country and even spreading overseas. Now I have a new long piece, also in Rolling Stone, called “The Fossil Fuel Resistance” that I was hoping you would read.

Here’s a quick summary from the article:

After decades of scant organized response to climate change, a truly powerful movement is quickly emerging, around the country and around the world. It has no great charismatic leader, and no central organization; it battles on a thousand fronts, many of them very local and small. But taken together, it’s now big enough to matter, and it’s growing fast.

So you could call it by many names. But for me it’s the Fossil Fuel Resistance.

I hope you’ll spread it around, because I think it will help people understand a few things about the climate movement.

First, it shows that we’re in a much bigger struggle than the fight against Keystone, crucial as that is. Across the country and around the world people are taking on the fossil fuel industry in remarkable ways that are starting to add up.

Second, it’s shows that we’re becoming a much broader movement tactically and organizationally than we’re used to thinking about.

The old-line environmental groups are playing their part, but powerful leadership is coming from all kinds of communities. There are a bunch of profiles that accompany the piece, and they focus on heroes from Indigenous nations, environmental justice organizations, and the clean tech industry, each of people doing amazing work.

What I hoped to do with this article is move past restating the problem, which I think most people understand, and show how we are working together towards solutions.

Those solutions take many forms, and I hope you’ll read about them and share the article around so that we can start to bring more people into this resistance movement.

It’s not all good news, of course. We’re still losing this fight, as the temperature rises. But I want everyone to know that it is going to be a real fight. This piece, I hope will help spread the word, and build our movement even bigger. Click here to read and share: 350.org/Resistance

We can’t outspend the fossil fuel barons, but we can out organize them, if we get to work.

Bill McKibben

P.S. Just a heads up that we’re planning a big push on sending comments to the State Dept. over the next few days. I wanted to make sure you knew that was coming, after these emails about new articles and films.

And now to do something.

The cumulative effect of millions of decisions brings about change!

Yesterday’s Post was about personal change.  It came on the back of a short series that was triggered by the Bill McKibben essay in Rolling Stone magazine that I republished on 31st July.  If you haven’t read it, do yourself a favour and read it soon.

The essay highlighted the challenge of how we change our ways, that is at a personal level, which is why I decided to devote a complete Post to the subject of change.  There was no doubt that the McKibben essay opened our eyes to the need for change, if they weren’t open already.  So being clear about the need for change and how, initially, it can make us feel less sure of ourselves, where do we go from here?  As John Fisher explains, within the change process, there is the stage where things start to happen.  This is what he writes about that stage,

Moving forward

In this stage we are starting to exert more control, make more things happen in a positive sense and are getting our sense of self back. We know who we are again and are starting to feel comfortable that we are acting in line with our convictions, beliefs, etc. and making the right choices. In this phase we are, again, experimenting within our environment more actively and effectively.

Keep this stage in mind as you journey along your individual path towards reducing your impact on the planet.  It really does act as a beacon for you, as a candle in the darkness.

OK, there’s an old saying in business ‘if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it!‘  So let’s start off by calculating the CO2 we are presently responsible for.

There are a number of CO2 calculators available on the Web but this one from The Resurgence Trust website seems as good as any.  Easy to use and it provides a starting point from which to plan your attack!  Make a promise to calculate your present CO2 output, soon!

Then to the plan of action!  A web search on reducing CO2 produces a huge number of results and I recommend that you undertake your own trawl to find the information that ‘rocks your boat’.  But on the Brave New Climate website there’s a summary that caught my eye, especially how it was introduced:

Top 10 ways to reduce your CO2 emissions footprint

Posted on 29 August 2008 by Barry Brook

Solving climate change is a huge international challenge. Only a concerted global effort, involving the governments of all nations, will be enough to avert dangerous consequences. But that said, the individual actions of everyday people are still crucial. Large and complex issues, like climate change, are usually best tackled by breaking down the problem into manageable bits.

For carbon emissions, this means reducing the COcontribution of each and every one of the six and a half billion people on the planet. But what can you, as an individual person or family, do that will most make a difference to the big picture? Here are my top ten action items, which are both simple to achieve and have a real effect. They are ranked by how much impact they make to ‘kicking the COhabit’.

Then follows ten solid recommendations:

  1. Make climate-conscious political decisions.
  2. Eat less red meat.
  3. Purchase “green electricity“.
  4. Make your home and household energy efficient.
  5. Buy energy and water efficient appliances.
  6. Walk, cycle or take public transport.
  7. Recycle, re-use and avoid useless purchases.
  8. Telecommute and teleconference.
  9. Buy local produce.
  10. Offset what you can’t save.

Each of these recommendations is supported by great web links and plenty of advice.  So don’t just skip through those 10 options, go here and commit to doing something!

And when you are ready to involve others beyond your family, 350.org has a great selection of resources for potential organizers.

We can make a difference!

Changing the person: Me!

It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. – Chinese Proverb

Yesterday, in a post that picked up on the deep implications of Bill McKibben’s chilling essay on where the world is heading if we don’t change, I set out my understanding of what holds us back from that change.  I wrote, “ … the process of change cannot start until we  truly want to change; a total emotional commitment.  And the formation of those emotions, that realisation, requires a new understanding of the world around us, who we are and who we want to be.”

Previously on Learning from Dogs I have quoted Jon Lavin, “The best way to save the world is to work on our selves.”  I remember decades ago when working as a humble office-products salesman for IBM UK the well-worn saying, “Selling is 90% me and 10% the customer.”  Sort of reminds me of Woody Allen’s: “Eighty percent of success in life is showing up.”

OK, enough of these mental perambulations.  Let’s get on with the task of looking at change.  Because make no bones about it, if we rely on ‘them’, on others, to turn mankind back from where we are heading then it’s all over!  It comes down to each and every one of us deciding to change.

Think this is all melodramatic nonsense?  Go and read the first paragraph of Bill McKibben’s article where he states, “June broke or tied 3,215 high-temperature records across the United States. That followed the warmest May on record for the Northern Hemisphere – the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average..

Want more reason to change?  Try this from a recent article on The Daily Impact:

From American Drought to “Global Catastrophe”

Some poet  invented the name “Arab Spring” as a label for the tsunami of public desperation that last year took down the governments of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Poets and Pollyannas saw the events as an upwelling of love for democracy. Realists related them to the spike in world food prices that threatened the survival of whole populations and made them desperate for change — any change.  Now, thanks in large part to events unfolding in the American heartland, get ready for another, worse, spike.

We are running out of superlatives with which to describe the Mid- and Southwestern drought and its effect on this year’s corn and soybean crops. According to this week’s USDA crop update the situation during the previous seven days went from “critical” to, um, worse than that. The drought is the worst in half a century. Of the largest US acreage ever planted in corn (industrial agriculture was crowing about that just a couple of months ago), only one-quarter is still in good condition. (Modest rainfall in drought-stricken areas early this week provided mostly emotional relief; the drought is forecast to continue unabated through October.)

Change really does seem like a ‘no-brainer’!

Here’s a lovely cartoon that summarises the steps of change, the process of transition, for you and me.

That diagram is from John Fisher’s model of personal change, full details of which are here.  It includes a link to the process of transition diagram, show above, here.

The most important thing to note, and this is why so many ‘change’ ambitions fail, is that change is deeply unsettling at first.  When change happens for the majority of us, often ‘forced’ on us as a result of unplanned life events, we are left deeply unsettled; a strong feeling of being lost, of being in unfamiliar surroundings.  Think divorce or, worse, the death of a partner or child, reflect on how many sign up for bereavement counselling in such circumstances.  Big-time change is big-time tough (apologies for the grammar!).

Stay with me for a short while while I reinforce this from my own experiences.

My previous ex-wife announced in December, 2006 that she was leaving me for a younger model!  It came as a complete surprise.  Subsequently, I was invited to spend Christmas 2007 out in San Carlos, Mexico with Suzann and her husband, Don.  Suzann is the sister of my dear, close friend of many years, Dan Gomez, hence the connection.  There I met Jean, a long-term friend of Suzann living in San Carlos and, coincidentally as I am, another Londoner by birth.  Jean and I fell deeply in love with each other and a year later I moved out from SW England with Pharaoh to Mexico.

Throughout 2008 I suffered from what was eventually diagnosed as vestibular migraine.  It involved partial loss of vision, vertigo, headaches and significant short-term memory disturbances; let me tell you it was pretty frightening!

Eventually, in 2012 well after we moved from San Carlos up to Payson, Arizona, I got so worried that I went to see a neurologist, convinced that I was heading down the road of dementia.  Dr. Goodell examined me thoroughly and said that there were no signs of dementia or early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.  His conclusion: I was showing the normal signs of forgetfulness that any person of my age (now 67) would show having been through similar life changes.  Dr. Goodell went on to explain that back in England 98% of my life was constant and familiar and therefore adjusting to a 2% change was unremarkable.  However, on moving my life out to Mexico and then on to Arizona, it was all reversed: 2% of my life was constant and 98% was change and that was a huge psychological hill to climb with all the associated mental stresses that I had been experiencing.

Interestingly, that diagnosis rapidly set me on the path of feeling so much better!

So, apologies for that personal diversion but I hope it underlined that life-change is a big deal!

In my trawl across the Web looking for change references, I came across a software engineer by the name of Dave Cheong.  Dave writes a blog.  In Dave’s blog was a piece about change.  Change as a result of a merger of his employer.  This is what Dave wrote:

As a result of the merger, lots of change is happening. Some folks are questioning where things are headed, what management have planned, how their lives will change, etc. Most certainly, there will be job losses as the two companies consolidate things, in particular administrative positions.

With the chaos that’s been unfolding, I’ve thought a bit about “change” in general. What is it? Why do people resist it? Is it always a good thing? What should I do?

And later he writes after referring to the Satir Change Process model, named after Virginia Satir, an American author and psychotherapist:

The diagram depicts several stages of accepting change. The first stage is known as Status Quo (Gray Zone), a state where everyone is generally comfortable with the way things are. The second stage is a point in time a Foreign Element, trigger or change agent is introduced. What follows is a period of Resistance and Chaos (Red Zone), personified as a result of people being scared of the uncertainties the change has brought about and how their lives will be impacted.

The level of performance generally drops off and fluctuates more greatly between the Gray and Red Zones. There are various reasons for this – people may reject the change to protect the status quo; are confused with the change and are unsure of what to do; or simply become less competent with the new tools and processes introduced.

This describes why people by nature resist change. They don’t want to become less useful than they already are.

Just reflect on that.  Dave calls it being ‘less useful’ but that downplays the emotional significance of partially losing one’s self-image, one’s self-identity, the undermining of who we think we are.  As I wrote earlier, life-change is a big deal!

Here’s my final example of how dealing with change is all about the self.  It’s from the Best Self Help website, and opens,

Self help, personal development and self-improvement are topics of considerable interest to pretty much everyone on the planet.

In 1975 my life was a total mess. I was depressed, unemployed and my 5 year marriage was ending.

I’m not going to quote it all but it really is worth a read.  However, I do want to quote the conclusion,

Finally, I Got It!!!

In the Western world, we are educated to look outside ourselves for validation. We want more money to acquire “things” with the mistaken belief this is the source of happiness.

The true source of love, health, happiness and financial success cannot be found outside of ourselves – each of these is already within us. The key is learning how to access and activate that which we already possess.

 “True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.” ~Socrates~

So that’s enough for today. If you haven’t got the message about change coming from within, then not sure what else I can offer!  However, if you do want to explore changing the way you impact this beautiful planet (and it applies equally to me) then drop in tomorrow.

Stop, read, reflect and Act!

The latest from Bill McKibben has to be read and shared.


We live in a world where there’s a great fondness for shortness, whether it’s headlines, soundbites, Twitter length ‘conversations’, text messages, and the rest.  However, I’m introducing an essay from Bill McKibben that is long.  When I use the word long I mean both literally, the essay is a shade under 6,200 words, and subjectively, the essay is long, very long, on meaning.

It was published in the August 2nd, 2012 issue of Rolling Stone.  As Allyse of the 350.org team wrote in a widely distributed email,

Here at 350.org, we do a lot of our internal communication via online chat, and our written shorthand for “YES!” and “totally awesome!” and “you rock!” is “++”. Which is why I say to you: ++ Social Media Team, ++. You all rock.

Bill McKibben’s article in Rolling Stone—which we asked you to spread around the internet last week—has been shared on Facebook almost 100K times and seen by hundreds of thousands of people. Great work. If you haven’t read it yet, please do.

This article really lays out the intellectual framework for much of our work in the weeks, months, and years ahead. We want to keep pushing these ideas out there, especially this one: our objection to the fossil fuel industry is structural—these businesses are in fact planning to wreck the planet!

So we took a quote from Bill’s article and made it into a graphic that’s already been shared almost 2,500 times on Facebook. Will you help us push it past 5,000? Click here to share.

As you know if you’ve read the article, this is really an all-hands-on-deck moment for humanity. Thanks for doing your part—in ways both large and small.



Will you put aside some time, settle down in a comfortable chair, and read the article?  Please do!

It crossed my mind to split it over a couple of days but I decided against that.  But I have inserted a ‘click to reveal more’ about 1,100 words into the article – please do read on when you reach that point.  And just as important, do comment!

Oh, want to see that image on Facebook that has been shared so widely?  Here it is:

A’int that the truth!

Finally, feel free to share this as far and wide as you want.  Thank you.


(Apart from the first image from Edel Rodriguez, all the other photographs have been inserted by me and are not in the original Rolling Stone production – I decided to insert them to make reading the article more visually attractive on a screen.)

Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math

Three simple numbers that add up to global catastrophe – and that make clear who the real enemy is

Illustration by Edel Rodriguez

By Bill McKibben
July 19, 2012 9:35 AM ET

If the pictures of those towering wildfires in Colorado haven’t convinced you, or the size of your AC bill this summer, here are some hard numbers about climate change: June broke or tied 3,215 high-temperature records across the United States. That followed the warmest May on record for the Northern Hemisphere – the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average, the odds of which occurring by simple chance were 3.7 x 10-99, a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe.

Meteorologists reported that this spring was the warmest ever recorded for our nation – in fact, it crushed the old record by so much that it represented the “largest temperature departure from average of any season on record.” The same week, Saudi authorities reported that it had rained in Mecca despite a temperature of 109 degrees, the hottest downpour in the planet’s history.

Not that our leaders seemed to notice. Last month the world’s nations, meeting in Rio for the 20th-anniversary reprise of a massive 1992 environmental summit, accomplished nothing. Unlike George H.W. Bush, who flew in for the first conclave, Barack Obama didn’t even attend. It was “a ghost of the glad, confident meeting 20 years ago,” the British journalist George Monbiot wrote; no one paid it much attention, footsteps echoing through the halls “once thronged by multitudes.” Since I wrote one of the first books for a general audience about global warming way back in 1989, and since I’ve spent the intervening decades working ineffectively to slow that warming, I can say with some confidence that we’re losing the fight, badly and quickly – losing it because, most of all, we remain in denial about the peril that human civilization is in.

When we think about global warming at all, the arguments tend to be ideological, theological and economic. But to grasp the seriousness of our predicament, you just need to do a little math. For the past year, an easy and powerful bit of arithmetical analysis first published by financial analysts in the U.K. has been making the rounds of environmental conferences and journals, but it hasn’t yet broken through to the larger public. This analysis upends most of the conventional political thinking about climate change. And it allows us to understand our precarious – our almost-but-not-quite-finally hopeless – position with three simple numbers.

Continue reading “Stop, read, reflect and Act!”