Un-Trump the Climate Talks

Un-Trump the Climate TalksDid you see this? Donald Trump gave a rambling, incoherent, interview to the Washington post in which he (amongst other things) once again denies the science of climate changeincluding the report from his own administration released last Friday which shows that the climate crisis is already hurting and killing Americans.

It’s got to stop. And you can help deliver a clear, unambiguous rebuke to Trump at next week’s climate talks – called the COP24. Here’s how: Trump’s team is planning a sideshow event that actually promotes fossil fuels at world’s biggest meeting on how to fight climate change. While everyone else is talking about the new US and UN reports on climate change and how we only have 12 years to fix the problem Trump wants to talk about how to pollute more and get rich off the resulting death and destruction.

But we’re ready for him – Trump did the same thing at last year’s talks, and a brave delegation of youth, indigenous and frontline climate activists shut him down. Now, that same delegation is headed to the COP24 talks, and they need you to sign on to back them up. Click here to sign on to the People’s Demands for Climate Justice.

These demands have been shaped by people’s movements from around the world that are directly experiencing climate change’s impacts. Early supporters include the Indigenous Environmental Network and Plataforma Boliviana frente al Cambio Climatico.

It’s been years in the making, but we only get one chance to deliver them, and deliver them as a rebuke to Trump’s recent climate denial. We need to show that people everywhere, including in the U.S., widely echo and support these demands – and right now, your name is missing. Can you sign on today so we can deliver your name to the United Nations next week?

3 graphs, a photo from space, and a mission

Last year I wrote a great post about what’s really at stake with climate change, and why I was starting 198 methods to push the fight in the US. It’s still great, and you should go read it if you haven’t already. I sent it out as a fundraiser on GivingTuesday, and got some positive feedback.

This year, I didn’t want to send a Giving Tuesday email for two basic reasons:

  1. #GivingTuesday is kind of a scam. No shade to my brothers and sisters in the non-profit world;  They need your help, so if you found time and a little extra cash to donate to them, I hope you did so. But the whole thing was invented by professional fundraisers as a corollary to BlackFriday – an orgy of overconsumption and a key example of what we’re trying to change about American politics and society. It’s also deeply connected to and dependent on Facebook’s donation platform, which is a scam to get non-profits with strapped budgets to give them billions in advertising revenue while green-washing the reputations of some of the dirtiest corporations on the planet.
  2. There’s actually a lot happening this week – a major Trump Nominee moving through Congress, a fight over the future of the Democratic Party leadership in Congress, And the start of the 24 Conference of Parties talks about how to implement the Paris Climate Agreement and act on the UN’s recent climate report. To name just a few.

But there’s also some exciting new info to share from the last few weeks – so without further ado, here’s an updated take on why you should donate, the state of the climate movement, and why I think that world needs one more non-profit environmental group (this one) — all as told through 3 charts and a big picture. Check it out and if you like it, click one of the links below to donate – and if you’ve saved your payment information, your donation will go through immediately:

One-click Donate: $1.98

One-click Donate: $19.80

One-click Donate: $198

Or donate another amount

Chart #1 it’s still bad

As you’ve probably guessed – the situation hasn’t improved much under the last 12 months of the Trump Administration. When Obama left office, we’d pledged to cut emissions 50% below 1990 levels. That was a good promise, but we weren’t on pace to do it. And that pace is nowhere near what was needed to keep us below the 2° Celsius goal of the Paris climate agreement.

Trump pulled us out of Paris in 2017, but the news actually got worse in the last few weeks when the UN released an updated projection confirming what we’d been saying all along – that we need to actually cut emissions MORE to keep us under 1.5° Celsius. And we need to do it FASTER hitting those decarbonization targets in the next 12 years to get us on pace.

Here’s an updated chart showing where we were last year, and where we are now:

climate goals graph updated

Chart #2 Still hotter too

Then, last Friday (right about the time everyone was getting their #GivingTuesday emails ready) the US chimed in with their second National Climate Assessment. Again, the news here is bad, but not new. Despite the Trump administration’s attempts to suppress climate science, and Trump and his cabinet’s ongoing climate denial, this report from 10 different US agencies confirms the basics above – The temperature is already rising; We’re causing it; And we need to act fast, and very boldly, if we want to stop it.

If we do nothing, the red line is what we can Temperature increase of 6-8° Farenheit (3-5° Celsius) That would make the planet more or less un-livable, at least for most of us. Seas would drive millions of us off the coasts, wildfires would burn dozens at a time across the west, and pollution (ozone in particular) and heat waves would kill tens of thousands of people every year across the midwest.

The blue line is about what the Paris agreement called for: namely aggressive action to cut US emissions and keep us below the 2° C target. The green line shows the very steep cuts it would take to get to 1.5° C or lower.

US emissions projections from 4th national climate assessment

Chart #3 It’s not all bad

Here’s the good news though: Despite all Trump’s posturing, things are already turning around. In the developing world (yucky term but most of the world’s people live in the global south, so hang with me a sec) Installations of wind and solar power are actually happening faster than new fossil fuels. There’s a revolution going on around the world, even if we’re not a part of it here in the US (yet). And it totally dovetails with the message we’ve been delivering to so-called climate leaders since this fall’s Global Climate Action Summit: We already have the solutions we need – and the youngest. poorest, and brownest communities with the most to lose from climate change are already showing what’s possible.

We’re all in this together

Last there’s this photo from NASA of the recent Camp Fire in California that I can’t get out of my head. The fires this year are already the biggest and deadliest in history – and they’re just what was predicted by the UN and US climate forecasts above. But it’s not just towns like Paradise that burned – all of California was blanketed in smoke from the fires. And no matter who you are or where you live, you’re seeing more impacts from climate change right now today that you were a year ago.

That can be terrifying – that the scope of the problem we’re facing is so vast. But it’s also unifying. There’s no more ‘safe harbor’ from climate change in America. You can’t retire to Florida, or emigrate to Canada to avoid it. We will drown, burn, or rise, TOGETHER.

A view of the camp fire from space

So, now what?

And that’s my main hope – that the presence of climate disaster all around us every day will move people to take real actions to fight the crisis. And we have done some things in the past year:

  1. We started the year fighting to DeFund pipelines, and that fight goes on. But just this month a major court decisions set back the Keystone XL pipeline again.
  2. We partnered with the Climate Disobedience Center on the court case for Roxbury activists arrested protesting a gas pipeline and they were all found not-guilty by reason of necessity!
  3. We successfully Fired Scott Pruitt, Trump’s lead man on climate and Environment at the EPA, and now we’re going after his number 2, Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke.
  4. We fought Trump’s plans to open our coasts to offshore drilling, gut the Endangered Species Act, and more! And we stood up, sat-in, and marched alongside pipeline fighters in North Carolina and other states.
  5. And we traveled to California for the #RiseforClimate rally and also put local leaders like Governor Brown on notice that we’re raising the bar on climate leadership.

Sure, Trump will still be crazy: he told the Washington Post this week that  “You look at our air and our water and it’s right now at a record clean.” I don’t know what that means, but I know not to get too hung up on every crazy, false and unreasonable thing he says. I’m focused instead on the things we can do. And, as I noted in an earlier post on the election, I think we’ve got even more opportunities in 2019 than we had in 2018.

In particular, I think now more than ever we need digital support for direct action that centers the climate crisis. We saw that over and over again – from protests in North Carolina where we live-streamed the action so more people could participate, to the Global Climate Action Summit, where we used new media tools to super-charge the call for real climate leadership.

Now, with a new congress coming in, and more pipelines, fossil fuel export terminals, and Trump-nominated Fossil Fools than ever to fight, if you’ve got a little to spare, we’d love to have your support.

Sit in to make Jerry Brown Stand up for Climate

California Governor Jerry Brown likes to talk a good game on climate. He speaks often about climate action and science, and describes himself as a sort of “Anti-Trump” on climate action.

As a centerpiece of that plan, Brown has invited governors and Mayors from around the world to California Next month for a Global Climate Action Summit. But there’s a fundamental problem with Brown’s climate talk – he’s never been willing to stand up and stop fossil fuel production in his own state.

California extracts about 200 million barrels of oil per year, and Brown has frequently helps the Oil and gas industry get new permits, and allows them to drill very close (within a few hundred feet) of vulnerable communities – especially children, the elderly and communities of color.

For the sake of the climate, to protect our communities, it’s time to say “Enough!” It’s time to escalate and make our message impossible to ignore. Will you join us on August 20th in Sacramento as we SIT IN to demand that Governor Brown STAND UP to big oil?

Brown’s climate leadership is not sufficient to address climate change in California, and is not a model of leadership for the world, yet. The global warming pollution from existing wells and pipelines will take California far beyond safe climate limits, and Brown isn’t doing anything to stop new wells from being fracked either.

Our allies are leading a non-violent direct action to insist that Brown address our concerns, acknowledge the science around extreme extraction and neighborhood drilling, and enact adequate protections to save our communities.

We are making two urgent, specific demands that Governor Brown has the power to meet right now:

  1. No new permits for oil drilling in California, and
  2. Commit California to a managed decline of fossil fuel production beginning with 2,500 foot setback limits to protect frontlines communities from toxic oil and gas drilling, as part of a just and equitable transition away from fossil fuels.

Event Details: (full details provided upon confirmed sign-up) Sign up to sit in to end climate cowardice!

  • Location:  Sacramento CA
  • Sunday Aug 19 Training at 6pm Location:
  • Monday Aug 20 Training at 9am, Action at 11:30

About to go live in Raleigh for #RiseTogether day 2

I’m about to start another live stream at the Raleigh #RiseTogether rally, so I’ll get right to the point: Can you donate to support these solidarity actions in North Carolina and our ability to help organize them?

Yesterday, I got up super early and drove to Charlotte for the first North Carolina #RiseTogether Action. I’m not a morning person, but it was totally worth it. We marched through downtown Charlotte, a city literally owned by the big fossil fuel banks with a 50 foot inflatable pipeline. We sang and chanted and passed out hundreds of fliers on the doorstep of Bank or America, Wells Fargo, and Duke Energy.

And we tussled (verbally, non-violently) with security at Duke’s headquarters when they forbade us to stand on “their” side of the sidewalk, or even to allow people on “their” side to to take our picture.  But for all the fun and power of this action, it was an entirely volunteer production. So, I have to ask, can you check out the video from day one, and then chip in a few dollars to support our participation in the action and all the time, materials and work that went into it?

Working on this kind of project is exactly why I started 198 methods. Our friends in North Carolina were ready to #RiseTogether in solidarity with our allies in the Gulf. And their participation is so vital! Just as our brothers and sisters in Louisiana are fighting the Bayou Bridge Pipeline (BBP), our friends in North Carolina are fighting the Atlantic Coast (ACP) and Mountain Valley Pipelines (MVP). All of these pipelines threaten our communities, our clean water, and our climate future.

So a diverse coalition of NC activists wanted to organize two major actions – On July 30 in Charlotte, and July 31 in Raleigh. But to do it they needed help – they needed digital tools to help recruit more people and connect a big, global, audience to the local actions and demands. I was happy to work with them, and together we’ve already pulled off one action and have a solid plan for today. You can see the video from day one above, and click here to tune in to day two:

But here’s the plain and simple fact: Part of the reason I work with local groups like NC APPPL and other allies, is that they’re under-resourced. These folks work on the front lines with communities of color, indigenous leaders, the faith community, and any one who will stand with them to fight the pipeline. They’ve shown willingness to risk their safety and freedom to stop fossil fuels- like the time we occupied Governor Cooper’s office for more than 8 hours. Or when we barn-stormed into a BOEM hearing to stop offshore drilling and make the people’s voices heard.

Now, they’re rising together with our allies in the Gulf as part of a big, global movement to stop all pipelines and shut down fossil fuels. Can you chip in to support us?

Our Demands are:

But we literally can’t do it without your support. 198 methods is able to work with local groups and step up to support these actions because of small donations from kind people like you. If you’ve watched one of our live-streams, signed on to support our work, or just been looking for a way to help – now’s the time. Click here to chip in and support the North Carolina #RiseTogether actions. We’ll donate all the proceeds to NC APPPL and local groups. Thanks.

Save the Endangered Species Act.

Donald Trump and his Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke have declared war on the Endangered Species Act. It’s a terrible policy motivated by greed, blood-lust and a disdain for the natural world.

One part of the policy seems designed to support trophy hunters like Trump’s sons, and follows a pattern of Trump supporting the most extreme and cruel forms of sport hunting. But the real reason they’re pushing this rollback to one of the most successful environmental laws in history is to help the fossil fuel industry to a once-in-a-lifetime chance to profit off our planet at the expense of literally every living thing on earth.

We have until September 24 to file comments opposing this dangerous, unethical, backwards plan. Will you help? File a comment with us and we’ll make sure it’s delivered to DOI and the Trump team before the deadline.

For 45 years the ESA has kept plant and animal species in decline from going extinct. It’s credited with saving the hump back whale, the bald eagle, and dozens of other species.

But in the last few years, protecting threatened species like the Sage Grouse have run afoul of the avaricious plans of the oil and gas industry. Fossil fuel companies want unfettered access to mine, drill, frack and despoil every inch of our land and coastline. And the Trump team’s plan gives them everything they could ever want, and more.

The plan put forward by Zinke and his team at Trump’s DOI would end the protection for species that are called threatened, meaning they’re on the cusp of being endangered, but haven’t actually gone extinct and need to be re-populated in zoos or using other extreme measures. It would also give Trump and Zinke the chance to review which plants and animals are protected on a case-by-case basis — sure to result in many fewer protections for a tiny fraction of the species that need it.

In another part of the plan, Trump and Zinke propose to require a cost benefit analysis when deciding what species and habitat to protect. The direction of the policy is clear — if the oil industry can make a buck by driving a species extinct, they’re free to do it. But the idea of saving wildlife for wildlife’s sake is abolished from our laws.

I won’t lie, there’s very little chance Zinke and Trump can be made to listen to reason. We saw in their plan to open up ALL our coasts to oil and gas drilling that the public comment periods they held were less about public input, and more about protecting their deeply corrupt and unethical administration from legal challenges.

But there is a chance to trip them up in procedure, slow down this disastrous plan, and give our allies in Congress (yes, there are some) time to mobilize and block this plan. Submitting comments to the public record is sort of like making a permanent record of our dissent. When we combine it with protests and public outcry in the press and online, it creates a deep and rich story of how the American public is deeply opposed to these policies. That story, in turn, can be used by our allies in the legal system to sue, challenge, delay and block the implementation of this and other parts of Trump and Zinke’s agenda.

Tl;Dr if enough of us speak out right now, we CAN stop this plan. But we’ve got to file the comments right, and right now. Please, we need your help. Send a comment to the Department of Interior telling them you oppose the Trump/Zinke plan to gut the Endangered Species Act.

Last 48 hours to comment on Trump’s offshore drilling plan

Don't let Trump drill our coast!

Apologies if you’ve already submitted a comment opposing offshore drilling in a different way or with a different group. But even if you have, it’s still really important that you submit a comment direct to BOEM using our new form – this will put your message in the fast-lane for BOEM.

This offshore drilling plan is really terrible, and really close to complete. I’ve laid out a bunch of arguments about why we need to oppose it in this earlier blog post​. We’ve also staged actions and delivery events where we spoke out and disrupted BOEM’s process​. And already we’ve helped gather tens of thousands of signatures and public comments opposing the plan.

All that’s missing, as we head into our final 48 hours, is YOU!​ Please click here to send in your public comment now. And if you already have, comment again!

BOEM goes the dynamite – your comments in action

When the Bureau of Ocean Energy management (BOEM) came to my town, there was already a great plan in place with rallies, lobby days,and speak outs planned by partners. But I wanted to make sure we did more than show up and record your comments (and mine) as opposed to the Trump administration’s plan.

There’s an important role for direct action in moments like these. First it’s an important way to withhold consent – a critical strategy in the Gene Sharp model of anti-authoritarian organizing we ascribe to.

Second, it helps inspire people to realize they don’t have to obey unjust and destructive dictates from the Trump administration. Across the country, people have been showing up at these BOEM events to speak out and demand a full retraction of this plan. The louder, less orderly, and more disruptive we get, the more Zinke and his team withdrawal. Some in the media are already saying that it looks more like a political stunt than a serious energy plan.

And finally, it helps to correct the media narrative, which tends towards “both side-ism” and false balance by giving drilling opponents, who vastly outnumber drilling supporters, the same amount of coverage as the fossil fuel industry, and paints BOEM as an impartial referee for science. In fact, Trump’s  Interior secretary Ryan Zinke is already ignoring mountains of scientific evidence that offshore drilling is too dangerous for our coasts and economies, and a disaster for our climate. In many cases, they’re ignoring evidence that was just submitted 1-2 years ago as part of the Obama administration process that resulted in a ban on all offshore drilling in the Atlantic and continental Pacific (eg not Alaska) oceans.*

So, when more than 10,000 members and supporters of 198 methods submitted comments opposing the Trump/Zinke offshore drilling plan, we didn’t just want to hand over your names and comments, we wanted to make a ruckus.

And that’s what we did in South Carolina – arguably the Reddest, most Trump-friendly state where BOEM is holding an offshore drilling hearing (and also Drew’s Home turf).  Below is a LONG recap of the day’s events. But if you’re already into our idea to deliver comments in the most loud, non-compliant, media-shattering way possible, then please chip in. There are important hearings happening in the next week in Washington, D.C. and North Carolina that we want to support and play a role in – and we need your help to make it happen.

The Story in South Carolina.

First of all, all respect to the Sierra Club of South Carolina and their Ready for 100% rally and lobby day, which was already planned at the statehouse. This was lead by Minister Leo Woodbury, he’s from the northeast corner of South Carolina. That’s right across the state-line from Robeson county, which we talked a lot about in the live-stream about the ACP and the Rev., in addition to talking a lot about clean power, talked about the dangers of expanding fossil fuel infrastructure including offshore drilling and new pipelines. Here’s a bit of Rev. Woodbury to give you the flavor:

Later in the morning, the big ocean groups- OCEANA, Coastal Conservation League, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, etc – organized a big rally on the statehouse steps that featured equal numbers of democratic and Republican law makers speaking out against drilling. It was a good event, and did a good job highlighting what SC ‘insiders’ view as our most plausible route to stopping drilling in this state: that the issue is so politically toxic, that it might even suppress turnout among Trump’s base voters in 2018. These groups hope that the threat of an electoral back-lash will lead Zinke and team to offer an exemption for SC like they did for FL – but I’m not so sure.

Here’s some video of that rally:

Our local big greens did a great job planning and executing a rally based on conventional political wisdom.  It featured the voices of big politicians like Rep. Mark “Appalachian trail” Sanford and lots of State legislators. But those same reasons, the rally was not very radical  — for example it did NOT connect offshore drilling to pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure, Climate Change was barely mentioned once, nor was an explicit connection to environmental and racial justice made by most speakers (except the Gullah Geechee nation, of course). Still, that was the part of the day that got the most media attention.

After that it was off to the Doubletree — a hotel as far as you can get from downtown and still technically be in Columbia. Seriously, the location has no public transit it sits at the intersection of two interstate highways. Once there it was clear that BOEM was expecting some pushback given the amount of security on site.  To counteract the un-democratic format of the hearing (more on that below) a lot of those same big green groups staged a counter-rally outside the BOEM hearing room, essentially in the ballroom next door. Where the focus of the earlier rally at the statehouse was clearly political – featuring elected officials and politically connected spokespeople – the pre-BOEM rally at the hotel was focussed on the grassroots. Local mayors, business owners, and impacted trade associations like fishermen were the featured speakers. And the clear focus was to get everyone fired up and ready to submit a comment in opposition to the Trump-Zinke plan. Here’s some video of that rally to give you a taste:

About that BOEM process.

The format of the hearings is always the same, they call it a ‘townhall’ but it’s not the format most of us associate with that description – EG one microphone and people get up one at a time to testify in favor or against on the record. What they have are a bunch of table displays, staffed by career BOEM people about the proposed offshore drilling plan. The displays and staff are not explicitly pro-drilling, but they are there to explain the Trump/Zinke proposal, which is very pro drilling. So the information includes things like “why oil drilling is safer than ever” and “Why is offshore oil important to America’s Economy”. There is no display specifically on climate change or pipelines (which will be needed to get oil from offshore rigs to shore, and then onshore to refineries).

If you want to submit a “public comment” at the hearing, you have to sit down, by yourself at a laptop (provided by BOEM) and type your name, address and other personal information into the approved terminal before being allowed to (in complete silence) type your comment into the system.

I wasn’t having it. So, after a few minutes of letting people sign in and mill around, I pulled out a chair, stood on it, and called BS on the whole process.

I’m using the “BS” frame here as an intentional homage to Emma Gonzalez and her speech in Florida on gun violence. There’s something really powerful about having someone call out a lie, and it’s a similar energy I’m hoping to channel into these remaining BOEM hearings – because they’re NOT OVER YET!

In fact there three more weeks to comment on this offshore drilling plan. So before March 9, tell your friends to comment, share the action online, and if you can please chip in to support us getting to as many of these hearings as possible to shout, disrupt, and make our voices heard any way we can.

Thanks!

* We think the Obama rules should have gone farther, and protected the Gulf of Mexico as well. If it’s too dirty and dangerous for the South Atlantic, why is it safe for the Gulf? Answer it’s not, but the Gulf is treated as a sacrifice zone.  But that’s another story.

Stop Trump’s offshore drilling plan!

Trump wants to repeal the Obama-era ban on offshore drilling, opening more than 90 percent of our coastline to oil and gas leasing.

At the same time, Trump’s allies in Congress are trying to dismantle the worker safety and environmental protections put into place after the Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 people and caused a $60 billion oil spill that destroyed coastal environments and made thousands of people sick.

Nor are spills, explosions and loss of life on oil rigs the only things we’re worried about (though only a fool would not be worried about them). We need to keep at least 80% of known oil and gas reserves in the ground, or risk tipping the climate beyond the point of no return. Adding millions of new acres of oil and gas drilling is not just climate denial, it’s a death sentence for millions of people in coastal communities around the world.

Fortunately, there’s still time to stop Trump’s disastrous plan. You have until March 9 to submit and official comment. Sign with us, and we’ll hand deliver the message at a series of regional meetings over the next few weeks.

Why do we think we can win this time, when the Trump is so clearly bent on service their polluting pay-masters in the fossil fuel industry? Well this time, they might be vulnerable: As usual, Trump’s plan for unlimited offshore drilling was as ham-handed as it was disastrous. Just five days after announcing the new drilling plan, Interior Secretary Zinke did Florida Gov. Rick Scott a huge favor by exempting his state, and ONLY his state, from the offshore ban.

That’s created a huge backlash in coastal states, some of which Trump and his allies in Congress cannot win re-election without. Governors from virtually every state have demanded to be exempted like Florida — including Trump loyalists like Gov. Henry McMaster in South Carolina — but so far only Rick Scott is politically connected enough to get a waiver. The deal many not even be legal, and coasts-state Senators are already holding hearings and demanding answers.

With all this turmoil, now is the moment we can make a difference with simple online actions, backed up by strong in-person deliveries that demand accountability. Can you help? Click here to sign on to our public comment, and we’ll hand deliver it to a BOEM hearing in the next few weeks.

PS – Our friends at 350.org are organizing turnout and supporting local activists in several cities. I’ll be at the Columbia SC hearing next week for the first of our deliveries. Check that page for updates and links to events near you.