A light has gone out.
Gabriel García Márquez wielded incomparable influence over literature across the world, during his career. His development and mastery of what came to be known as magical realism helped to bring poetry into fiction in ways both blazing and subtle. And his ability to blend the hard facts of life in the human space with sometimes raucous fantasy provided a new way of illustrating the dangerous absurdity of the conventions that dictate much of what we live.
Local Clean Energy to Oppose Carbon Resource Bullying
[ The Note for April 2014 ]
When Russian Federation president Vladimir Putin sent military and paramilitary forces to the Crimean Peninsula, to protect Russian naval interests there, a demand began to spread for Europe and the US to impose sanctions on Putin’s government. This led many to assume that Europe, and Ukraine more specifically, would need an infusion of natural gas supply from North America, to provide an economic cushion against Russia’s use of gas supplies as a bargaining chip. But feeding more supply into the global fossil fuel system that empowers Mr. Putin (and his misuse of needed fuel to impose his will on foreign states) disempowers Ukraine, while prolonging Europe’s reliance on carbon-based fuels. Putin treats Ukraine as both a transit point and a dependent client, a combination that serves to pressure Europe and expand his reach. What’s more, it has been estimated that while such a move would do nothing to reduce Putin’s clout, and might empower him further, it would also cost US consumers and businesses an additional $62 billion over just the first year of the supply transfer.
On March 18, Thomas Friedman called for “a new moonshot”, in his column in the New York Times. Physicist Peter Fiekowsky had suggested the same months earlier, detailing the feasibility, with coordination and commitment from across our society, of transitioning to 100% clean, renewable fuels. Fiekowsky showed this “new Moon shot” could be the unifying narrative that builds not only civic and economic cooperation, but also the technical and scientific knowledge required to build a truly resilient prosperity in harmony with nature’s life support systems. In his column, Friedman showed the transition would provide a real counterweight to the reflexive bullying tactics of petrostate authoritarians.
On Sunday, April 6, 2014, Joseph delivered a lay service at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County. The service brought together poetry, music, spiritual engagement, science and ethics, to talk about our mutual ethical responsibility. Joseph’s sermon explores the global climate system as a web of life supports defined by patterns of reciprocal intention and impact.
Civil Society Spring Meetings, Day 2
Today, the running theme is citizen engagement. My day began with an online video conference with volunteer leaders in Bangladesh. These are smart, creative citizens, working to build awareness, openness to constructive collaboration, and political will for exemplary climate policy. They face a constant struggle against the cynicism most of us conscientiously teach ourselves to accept.
Working with Citizens Climate Lobby, I see people overcome that cynicism every day. The common refrain is: “People can’t change what’s wrong with the world,” “If it were possible to fix this, someone would have done it by now,” or at the personal level, “I don’t matter; what can I do?” Mobilizing citizens to engage in policy-making almost always requires overcoming such illusions.
Civil Society Spring Meetings, Day 1
I am spending a few days at the World Bank Spring Meetings Civil Society Policy Forum, in Washington, DC. It’s cherry blossom season, and trees are in bloom all over town. Delegates from governments, global policy-making institutions and civil society organizations, are gathering to discuss ways to redirect economic policy, to better achieve the central aim of eliminating poverty and building transparent, empowered societies that provide value at the human scale.
As a representative of Citizens Climate Lobby, I am here to engage in conversations designed to steer global policy toward a critical paradigm shift: to understand fully, and then to admit to the fact, that costs externalized to society through the climate and through other environmental mechanisms, are real, hard costs, and cannot be swept under the rug. Winning conscious agreement on that point is the first step to creating policies that tell the truth about cost and benefit, and that don’t build unnecessary harm into the future of affected human beings.
A discussion about climate change with Michael Oppenheimer of Princeton University, Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute, and Michael Mann of Penn State University. Originally broadcast on Charlie Rose, March 30, 2014.
The conversation about climate change is no longer a dispute about what volume of scientific evidence qualifies as abundant and overwhelming; the conversation is starting to focus on which are the best choices for action to reduce the risk.
My work with Citizens Climate Lobby has taught me that only by engaging all people, of all political persuasions, in a conversation about solutions, will we arrive at solutions that emerge from such a conversation. Though it may seem an obvious truth, the necessary work of building trust among people of varied political interest is no easy task.
On Friday, April 11, 2014, at 11:00 am, Citizens Climate Lobby will present a new whitepaper outlining a 2-step global climate solution. The plan will focus on putting carbon pricing first, to transform national and regional energy economies, then creating a more effective funding mechanism for needed climate response and deployment of new technologies.
For Immediate Release: March 18, 2014
Observing Earth: Beyond Hurricane Sandy
Saturday, April 12, 2014, 2:00-4:00 pm
InfoAge Science History Museum
Wall Township, NJ — ‘Observing Earth: Beyond Hurricane Sandy’ is an Earth Month event to update the public on Earth’s changing climate, with a focus on risks and solutions. The event will be held Saturday, April 12, 2014, from 2:00-4:00 pm at the InfoAge Science History Museum in Wall Township, NJ. Last year’s ‘Earth Day Gathering’ event was attended by more than 80 people.
This year’s lineup will include Dr. Alan Robock, Professor II in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University and the lead author of IPCC; Joseph Robertson, Strategic Coordinator for Citizens Climate Lobby and author of the book Building a Green Economy; and Brian Reynolds (host and moderator), who is a 350.org member and certified Climate Reality Project presenter.
[ The Note for March 2014 ]
We are used to thinking of oil, and other hydrocarbon fuels, as highly valuable mineral resources that almost guarantee major profitability. We have been taught to see things that way by a dizzying array of special incentives, protections, direct subsidies and market conditions, that combine to make it possible to cover most of your costs in the fossil fuel business using other people’s money, while the overall framework of our economic activity blocks out meaningful competition. The perception that fossil fuels are “cheap”, that they are the most “convenient” way to access, transport and release naturally occurring energy, and that investors are virtually guaranteed high returns, is a major contributing factor to the dominance of fossil fuels the world over.