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The Days After the Storm

By Daniel Rosen and Billy Parish, co-founders of Mosaic

First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy. We’ve seen the impacts of climate change in other parts of the world, but with Hurricane Sandy, we saw for the first time the places of our childhood underwater, family members without power. It is as shocking as it is frightening to see the devastation extreme weather can wreak.

We were deeply moved by pictures of firemen and nurses carrying babies in the dark from NYU Hospital out of harms way. Seeing them in action, we were filled with a fierce pride in humanity. When it comes down to it, in moments like these, we rise to extraordinary levels of bravery and sheer force of will.

But we’re also left feeling angry. The irony that the same energy system that brought us climate change and this tremendous storm also couldn’t handle its wrath makes us sick.

Let’s not mince words: The fossil fuel industry is destroying our planet and everything that we love. CO2 in the atmosphere is making our oceans warmer and making our climate unstable. The current energy system is not only bad for the planet, but also is extremely fragile. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, 12,000,000 people went without power for days. Many of them still without power today.

When you awake you will remember ev’rything, You will be. – Bob Dylan

The gravity of the situation is real. Everything is at stake. Families. Homes. Memories. Whole ways of life. All packaged up neatly and for sale to the highest bidding lobbyist The fossil fuel industry has spent $153 Million on this election so far. It’s no wonder climate change didn’t come up once in the three Presidential debates or the VP debate.

Meanwhile, the expected costs of Sandy are upwards of $50 billion. Will Exxon and Shell pay for that out of their $54 billion in profits this year? Will ConEd? Will PG&E? And what about the wildfires this summer? And the droughts across the midwest that have destroyed corn crops and farmers’ livelihoods? What about those costs? Is there math that they have that figures out the value of lives lost in the hurricane? It’s disgusting to even write that, but it begs the question.

So after the storm, what?

An Ambitious Proposal
Like the firefighters who risked their lives, we of all creeds, all ages, and all political stripes, must come together and work with the same tireless strength and courage to replace CO2-producing energy sources with clean energy and smart grid technologies. A world powered 100% with clean energy. If you don’t think it’s possible, watch this talk by actor and activist Mark Ruffalo, Stanford engineer Mark Jacobson, and Executive Vice President of Rabo Bank, Marco Kraepels.

Jacobson’s team has mapped out how New York can make a total transition to clean energy by 2030. Under this plan, electricity would come from a mix of renewables and energy efficiency, reducing statewide power demand by 37%.  And talk about collateral benefits: Air pollution mortality would decline by 4,000 deaths a year. Just the cost savings from reduced air pollution would save the Empire State $33B a year, enough to pay for the needed new 271 gigawatts of renewable power.

Take Jacobson’s plan national and there you have it — clean energy delivered via thousands of decentralized microgrids. It will take planning, coordination and financing by the whole crazy lot of us, from the clean tech sector to utilities to Mosaic investors crowdfunding the next distributed solar power plant. It will take an unprecedented coalition of people and businesses mobilized to make this ambitious vision happen.

ConEd is saying that it will take 10 days to get the majority of its customers their power back, but some may be without power until the end of November. In coming months, Cuomo and others could establish an aggressive state Feed In Tariff, guaranteeing a market for renewables. They could help to structure it to incentivize back-up storage. Each house could be a solar power plant. Every rooftop a place for distributed generation.

Distributed generation (such as wind and solar with backup battery storage) and other decentralized energies would have been far more resilient than our current electricity grid. The advantage of clean power microgrids, besides curbing climate change, is that if one mini-power station goes down, it doesn’t take the whole grid down with it — had NYU Hospital been microgrid-powered, we likely would not have witnessed the grim spectacle of firemen carrying those babies to safety.

Microgrids would offer protection in the inevitable event of future superstorms and in the face of powerful solar storms predicted for 2013 that have the potential to take down the entire US grid. Better still, clean energy would help avert extreme weather events in the first place.

One of Mosaic’s projects in Oakland funded by 134 people.

The storm waters have gone back to the sea. Now begins the real work of rebuilding. The task in front of us is the most ambitious rebuilding project human civilization has ever undertaken. This is not a top down mandate. The task to transition from a CO2 based economy and energy production to 100% clean and renewable energy is a movement of movements, community of communities, network of networks.

We have the technology to make the transition. We have the know how. We have the people.  We need not wait for another superstorm to underscore our vulnerability, and we need not — must not — wait for politicians and utility executives to lead the charge. As we say at Mosaic, we got this.

Endbridge – Why The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal And All Tar Sands Expansion From Alberta To The B.C. West Coast Will Be Stopped In Its Tracks By The Unity Of Indigenous Nations

Endbridge – Why The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal And All Tar Sands Expansion From Alberta To The B.C. West Coast Will Be Stopped In Its Tracks By The Unity Of Indigenous Nations

If you have ever driven on most of the northern highways in northern Alberta you will be presented with a picture of a tame prairie terrain, with sprawling fields and farms holding cows and the occasional conventional oil pump jack. A few kilometers on any of the gravel access roads however and you will see a much more bleaker picture of out of control industrialization and poisoning of the land. This is unless of course you witness the tar sands machines of death on Highway 63 near Fort McMurray and Fort McKay, or the massive underground mining operations in the Peace River and Cold Lake regions disrupting and contaminating underground water. What most modern thinkers fail to understand is thousands years of history from the ancestors of Cree, Dene, Blackfoot, Nakoda and Metis people. Living nations of people who simply cannot afford the luxury of packing up and moving as settlers when there is no longer work. These lands are home to these nations and are not sacrifice zones. And like a deadly contagious all-consuming disease, what has been done to Alberta by the oil industry cannot be allowed to spread to other parts of the world killing indigenous ways of life and jeopardizing the future for all.

Enbridge, and the expansion of the Alberta Tar Sands Gigaproject, is attempting to retrace the steps taken by the Hudson’s Bay Company with classic colonial strategy. The Hudson’s Bay Company was the first corporation on Turtle Island, here in North America. The Hudson’s Bay Company fur trading forts also became the first settler governments for the British Empire. In Alberta, the first settlement and colonial government in Alberta was in Fort Chipewyan, which would today is seen as the international poster community for a Cree, Dene and Metis community directly impacted by 40 years of out of control open pit tar sands mining. The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline is renewing a pipeline proposal and expansions originally proposed nearly 10 years ago and is supported by the Stephen Harper Conservative Canadian Government.

Just one week after the largest oil pipeline spill in Alberta in 30 years in unceded Lubicon Cree Territory, a spill that took six days for the Alberta government to respond in a half-assed, indifferent manner, starting with faxing a one-page “fact sheet” update about the disaster, a large contingent from the Yinka Dene Alliance from the northwest interior of B.C. were arriving in Calgary to confront Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project and tanker traffic.

On May 11th, 2011, on the traditional territories of the Blackfoot Confederacy in Calgary, Alberta, a historic solidarity statement of opposition to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline proposal was signed by leaders of the Blood Tribe, Alexander First Nation, Lubicon Lake Nation, Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation, Sai’kuz First Nation, Nadleh Whuten, Takla Lake First Nation and the Nakazdli First Nation.

The day after the Enbridge AGM a rally was held in Prince Rupert, B.C. on May 12th, outside a meeting sponsored by Enbridge for the Northern BC Municipalities Convention. With a historic turn-out of over 500 Indigenous and non-Indigenous residents of the island of Lach Kaien, known in the mainstream society as Prince Rupert, publicly and loudly demonstrating their opposition to the Enbridge Gateway Pipeline proposal as well as any tar sands tanker traffic that would support the industry of dirty crude oil and liquid condensate.

Lach Kaien, or Prince Rupert, is known to the Tsimshian as the “Cradle of Tsimshian Civilization,” according to a hereditary chief of the Gits’iis tribe, Sm’ooygit Nisyaganaat. The Prince Rupert Harbor contains the most dense archaelogical sites north of Mexico City and is the second deepest harbor in the world. Lach Kaien is surrounded by Tsimshian communities traditionally comprised of 11 Tsimshian villages, as well as neighboring nations from the Haida, Haisla, Heiltsuk, Gitksan, Nisga’a, Tahltan, and Tlingit. To this day the indigenous population of the town of Prince Rupert is still between 40-50%, with all industries heavily dependent upon the commerce, labor and resources of Indigenous coastal nations.

A few coastal communities however have not yet made a clear position on whether or not to support the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker project and any western tar sands crude oil expansion. These include among the largest of coastal communities of Lach hlgu K’alaams (Lax Kw’Alaams) or Port Simpson, and Gitkxaahla (Kitkatla), where the still active traditional laws and feasting systems of hereditary chiefs is still strong and holds much influence over the non-surrendered tribal territories in the region of Prince Rupert, Hecate Strait, and the Skeena and Nass Rivers.

These are nations still waiting to awaken to take their place and decide for themselves what is allowed into the lands and waters of nations that have lived and thrived on this edge of the world for thousands of years. To uphold the traditional laws and protocols of respect and responsibilities known as Ayaawk and Gugwiltx Yaans and not be steered by any settler government, environmental group, or any funding body with non-Indigenous agendas. Especially is true that Indigenous grassroots leaders are still fighting the oppression of the Indian Act system and the federal Canadian employees of many Band Councils maintaining the silencing of traditional hereditary leadership systems through which the sole jurisdiction of all territories flows through.

Indigenous lands and waters are to be spoken for and by Indigenous minds and communities. Enbridge Northern Gateway, and all tar sands pipelines and expansions such as the Kinder Morgan TMX Northern Leg Extension, the Pembina Pipeline, the PNG KSL Pipeline, the Kitimat and Prince Rupert Liquid Natural Gas Terminals, and the Prince Rupert “New World” Container Ports are just a few of the many modern obstacles in the path of standing up the original structures and ways of life with which to free Indigenous nations on this edge of the world.

Links to the rally and demonstration held in Lach Kaien and declarations of war against Enbridge -

http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/enbridge-pipeline-faces-prospect-civil-disobedience-500-strong-crowd-rallies-outside-1514236.htm

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/arts-and-life/life/greenpage/121784899.html

http://www.muskegnews.com/protest-enbridge0512

http://wcel.org/media-centre/media-releases/coastal-first-nations-tanker-ban-creates-new-legal-risks-and-uncertainty

http://savethefraser.ca/

Statement of Solidarity of Indigenous Nations opposed to Enbridge Northern Gateway -

May 10th, 2011 – Calgary, Alberta, territories of the Blackfoot Confederacy

WE THE UNDERSIGNED INDIGENOUS NATIONS STATE IN SOLIDARITY:
Our Nations are bound together by the water which is our lifeblood. We have protected our lands and waters since time immemorial, each according to our laws and traditions. The waters of Indigenous peoples throughout the lands known as western Canada are being threatened by fossil fuel exploitation and transportation.

We exercise our rights to sustain our cultural and economic well-being. The laws of each of our peoples are deeply embedded in our cultures and practices. These laws have never been extinguished and our authority continues in our lands. Our peoples continue to live by them today.

We have come together on May 10, 2011 in the city of Calgary, Alberta, in the traditional territory of the Blackfoot Confederacy, to declare to the governments of Alberta, British Columbia, as well as Enbridge Inc., all of its subsidiary bodies, and the domestic and international financial institutions supporting Enbridge, THE FOLLOWING:

The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline and tankers project will expose Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities from the Pacific Coast across to Alberta to the risk of pipeline and supertanker oil spills, just as we have seen recently with Enbridge’s massive spill in Michigan, the recent devastating spill in Lubicon Cree territory, the recent TransCanada pipeline spill in North Dakota, as well as the effects of the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon disaster. Tar sands bitumen has been demonstrated to corrode pipelines more rapidly than conventional oil, increasing the likelihood of catastrophic spills. Given the seismic volatility of the region, the recent earthquake in Japan also underlies our grave concerns about the risk of oil spills.

The urgency of global climate change, and the fact that Indigenous peoples are among those most impacted by climate change, also compels us to act.

We have witnessed the Coastal First Nations Declaration banning crude oil tankers on the Pacific North Coast, and the Save the Fraser Declaration banning crude oil transportation through the Fraser River watershed. Each of these Declarations is based in Indigenous law and is an expression of Indigenous decision-making authority.

Enbridge states that it intends to proceed with its Northern Gateway pipeline and tankers, with or without First Nations consent. A decision by Canada to approve this project, without the free, prior and informed consent of affected Nations, will be a violation of our Treaties, our rights, and our laws, and will be in breach of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other international accords.

THEREFORE we stand in solidarity with the Coastal First Nations, and the Nations who have signed the Save the Fraser Declaration, and are united in stating that Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline and tanker project, as well as other fossil fuel development projects including Keystone XL, must not proceed without obtaining the free, prior and informed consent of all affected First Nations.

AND FURTHER if such consent is not obtained, no construction of such projects shall proceed.

SIGNED in the traditional territories of the Blackfoot Confederacy, at the city of Calgary, May 10 2011

Sai’kuz First Nation

Nadleh Whut’en

Takla Lake First Nation

Nakazdli First Nation

Blood Tribe

Alexander First Nation

Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation

Lubicon Lake Nation

Google to the Rescue?

Google For Nonprofits Marketplace
Img. © Google

Just as it has been getting grim for advocates for climate science and small nonprofits everywhere, Google just announced two major initiatives that hopefully put a little wind in the sails for those beating against the tide.

Google has announced their new Google for Nonprofits program that offers a one-stop application for Google Adwords, Apps, YouTube, Google Earth and more. While many of the organizations and campaigns I have worked with over the years rely heavily on Google tools, this is an effort to make it far easier and simpler for organizations to get access and learn how to use them effectively. They also have setup a Google for Nonprofits Marketplace to connect nonprofits with organizations and consultants able to put these tools to work.

If you are reading this and you are thinking of starting a nonprofit, or you are at a small nonprofit and you feel like technology is always a struggle, this really makes it easy. I am helping a few groups go through this process and if anyone needs help, drop me a line, but they are making it easier than ever.

The other initiative is very exciting to people who care about climate science and have watched horrified as climate deniers have abused public relations techniques and tricked the media in generating fake controversy, forestall action, and create a generational divide in the understanding of climate science.

Google.org has brought together a team of 21 climate researchers to communicate on the issue of climate change. The Google Science Communication Fellows are a number of climate scientists who will be provided with training on new media, data-sharing, and communications, SolveClimate reported.

“Google.org, the technology giant’s philanthropic arm, has hand-picked a team of 21 fellows working in climate research to improve the way the science of global warming is communicated to the public and lawmakers through new media. “We are seeing very clearly with climate change that our policy choices are currently not grounded in knowledge and understanding,” said Paul Higgins, a Google fellow and an associate policy director for the American Meteorological Society.”

It is really exciting to Google come out swinging on climate science. Edmund Burke famously once said “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Google is starting to live up to their motto of “Don’t be Evil” by doing something. Now, it is time of us to step up and use these tools for good.

Pittsburgh Tells the Gas Industry, “No Fracking Way!”


Yesterday hundreds of people convened in downtown Pittsburgh to protest the development of “fracking,” a new and untested method of natural gas extraction that is threatening to take over Pennsylvania and neighboring states. Fracking has been shown to pollute water supplies, cause cancer, and destroy the countryside and infrastructure in rural areas. The rally took place during a conference on “Developing Unconventional Gas” which featured Karl Rove. The following is from the Pittsburgh Student Environmental Coalition, who helped organize the rally.

“Thank you Pittsburgh! Thanks to you the rally was a HUGE success. An incredibly passionate and diverse group came out today, young and old, urban and rural, coming from states as far as California and as close as Ohio. We all came together to protect our constitutional right to clean air, pure water, and a healthy environment and to protest the exploitation of our environment and ourselves by the gas companies.


If you weren’t able to make it today then stay tuned because this is only the beginning. There is much work still to be done and yesterday’s election certainly didn’t make things easier, but this an issue that affects everyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, income, or political affiliation and we at PSEC strongly believe that it’s an issue worth fighting for. In the words of Margaret Meade, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

View more pictures at PSEC’s Picasa page.

Watch speeches from the event: by PSEC member Seth Bush and by Gasland director Josh Fox.

Media attention from: The Pittsburgh Post Gazette, University of Pittsburgh’s The Pitt News, WPXI, Pittsburgh Local News Station, West Virginia’s The Intelligencer,

DeChristopher to Utah Governor: A declaration of war against the living will be met in kind

Cross-posted from Peaceful Uprising

On September 14, 2010, Tim DeChristopher addressed the Governors Energy Task Force in Salt Lake City. The public meeting was held to gather input as the state develops its 10-year energy plan. Governor Gary Herbert was in attendance, as well as industry lobbyists and environmental activists.

“But even if the state of Utah chooses to ignore the science of climate change, please understand that there are many of us who do take that threat very seriously. For those of us who do take that threat seriously, a continued focus on the development of fossil fuels is a declaration of war against the living.”

[Transcript] Our concern is that in addition to the many economic reasons that make renewable energy good policy for the state of Utah, when we also factor in the science of climate change, the sole focus on renewable energy becomes an absolute necessity.

Continue reading ‘DeChristopher to Utah Governor: A declaration of war against the living will be met in kind’

“The Politics [on oil drilling] May Have Changed, But the Facts Haven’t”

“…what wouldn’t do a thing to lower gas prices is … to open up Florida’s coastline to Offshore drilling. it would have long-term consequences to our coastlines but no short term benefits since it would take at least 10 years to get any oil… it will take a generation to reach full production and even then the effect on gas prices will be minimal at best” Candidate Obama – June 20, 2008 – Jacksonville, FL.

Young people from Florida changed the course of history when they delivered their state to President Obama in the 2008 elections. They worked hard, knocked on doors, called reluctant family members, all in an effort to elect the candidate that spoke those words. Well, after a year and a half spent doing some really great (but woefully insufficient) things to move us towards a clean energy economy, seems like the President is turning his back on the wise words he spoke on his campaign.

“Today we are announcing the the expansion of offshore oil and gas exploration, but in ways that balance the need to harness domestic energy resources and the need to protect America’s Natural resources… the only way this transition [to domestic fuels] will succeed is if it strengthens our economy in the short run and in the long run”

Many progressive bloggers already challenged the President’s assumption that opening up the Outer Continental Shelf to oil drilling would be politically (or economically) smart, but few provided alternative strategies to drastically, quickly, and efficiently achieving the stated goals of the President’s new initiative.

Making efficient cars more accessible to the general public is something the administration is already doing great work on. In addition to today’s announcement about doubling the efficiency of the Federal Government’s auto fleet (spoken as a sidenote to the oil drilling expansion),  the Obama administration also enacted stricter greenhouse gas limits to newly built car emissions.

Continue reading ‘“The Politics [on oil drilling] May Have Changed, But the Facts Haven’t”’

Media and Messaging: The Multiplier Effect

Who said anything about qualifications?

I never thought I’d be writing a piece on media and messaging. I’m a government major at the University of Maryland going into my final semester as an undergraduate. I’m looking to further my education with a masters in public policy with a specialization in environmental policy. In the student activist group UMD for Clean Energy that I’ve been involved in since the spring semester of 2007, I’ve been the boots on the ground guy getting petition signatures and power vote pledges, the Political Liaison who handled the policy aspects of the campaign like organizing lobby meetings, and last fall I had my first stint as the Campaign Director for the group. Despite my responsibility never being media and messaging, it’s in this area that I feel I’ve learned some of the most valuable organizing lessons.

When applied to our group’s efforts last semester, our new approach to media became one of the most powerful engines for our local campaign on making green issues front and center in our College Park City Council elections, and complimented all of the other aspects of our campaign beautifully. At the end of the semester, core members of UMD for Clean Energy tried to put our finger on how and why media had been invaluable to our campaign, but usually our guesses didn’t go beyond “wow”. This is my imperfect yet necessary attempt to explain what happened, with the hope that other groups can gain from it, and at least so I can convey how important this aspect of the youth climate movement is. By the way, I’ve committed the cardinal sin of making this a longggg post, but it’s worth it so please read.

“This was a lot more efficient than knocking on 20,000 doors” Continue reading ‘Media and Messaging: The Multiplier Effect’

How’s the Blog Doing? (monthly update)

I like numbers, and I also like telling people when they’ve done a good job. So, I’m going to continue what should be a monthly series about this blog itself. This is a big community, and we do amazing work, so it makes sense that we’d want to check in on how we do an even better job of sharing those stories with the world. ItsGettingHotInHere.org is a powerful tool to do that.

In these posts, I’ll do a snapshot of how the blog’s doing overall, and then have a few helpful tips, and finish with the top posts of the month, and other regular stats.

Stats: In the month of November (well, almost, I’ll try and update this when its actually over) the blog was viewed 52,000 times.  That puts us up there with our best months, although no stand-out crises or scandals drove an obscene amount of traffic. I expect December to be the biggest month ever, with all the amazing reporting coming out of Copenhagen.

Read on for more stats, and also how to link IGHIH to your Facebook account and how to read this blog by topic (such as how to read all news about Copenhagen!) Continue reading ‘How’s the Blog Doing? (monthly update)’

“Kyoto: Who’s On Target?”

This is a fabulous image of how close countries are to meeting their Kyoto Protocol commitments.

As David McCandless says, “There’s a lot of talk of a new world climate agreement in Copenhagen in December to succeed Kyoto. I wondered how the signatories of the first one were doing. Make up your own mind.”

Some are completely on track (Greece, Germany, Sweden and England) while others are very close (including Poland, Romania and Hungary). There’s also a fair-sized group that can still meet it if they ramp it up a bit (such as France, the Netherlands, and Belgium).

At the bottom are those who, well… maybe have to re-think their strategy (including Canada, Denmark, and Switzerland).

Enjoy!

Preview: Stephen Harper/Bigfoot to Visit Obama

Action Factory Press Release

‘Carbon Bigfoot’ Harper and President Obama Sip from Dirty Oil Sands Milkshake

Washington DC — During their meeting this Wednesday, President Obama, and ‘Carbon Bigfoot’ Harper will sip from a larger-than-life dirty oil sands milkshake. Harper appears as a hairy and foolish Bigfoot character with no qualms about his enormous carbon footprint. While sipping their fossil fuel shake, Harper and President Obama will discuss their commitments to solving climate change ahead of the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh later this month.

The Action Factory plans to pose as Carbon Bigfoot Harper and President Obama and call for a fair, ambitious, and binding global climate treaty in Copenhagen this December. “So far, none of the developed countries have shown the ambition and leadership necessary to secure a sufficient treaty,” says Julie Erickson, a fellow with Avaaz.org. “Canada in particular has a track record of hindering the climate process more than helping,” she adds. We’re hopeful that some tangible progress on climate finance will come out of the UNGA and G20 meetings next week. Continue reading ‘Preview: Stephen Harper/Bigfoot to Visit Obama’


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