2020 foresight

2020 and the new decade are not off to a very encouraging start: Australia is on fire. So is the Amazon and there was just a huge oil spill in Brazil. Puerto Rico is being rocked by earthquakes even as it struggles to get the relief money Congress appropriated, and which Trump’s racist administration still wont deliver. Trump might start a war with Iran to distract himself from Impeachment. And the blitzkrieg assault on the planet continues apace: with Trump opening new attacks on (another) one of our oldest and most effective environmental laws: the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).

And that’s just the part of the list from the last two weeks; The first of the 2020s — a decade in which we need radical action to stop the climate crisis on a scale rarely seen in the human endeavor.

But there’s good news too: 88 people chipped in just under $1000 to support this project in December – so we’ve got the funds we need to keep writing and emailing you. New coalitions are launching and re-launching with exciting plans for a 72 hour climate strike in April to honor the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and the new generation of climate leaders. And lawsuits are advancing to honor treaty rights and stop Keystone XL, as well as to stop the Atlantic Coast Pipeline from Crossing the Appalachian trail, and much more. Not to mention the 2020 election – with primaries starting in a few weeks.

A famous phrase notes that the opposite of war isn’t peace, it’s creation; And the opposite of fear isn’t courage, it’s action. So with the pre-amble that this is very much a ‘going gets tough’ moment, here’s three key themes of our plans to get going, creating and taking action in 2020:

Redefine radical

One of the big lessons of the last three years is that things that seemed radical now have to become common. Twenty years ago we had time for incremental solutions to the climate crisis – driving less or recycling were appropriate actions for people to take when we ‘only’ needed to cut emissions by 3% a year. Now we need to cut them 15% a year, every year and those actions, any individual action really, just aren’t enough.

What we need now are big changes in big systems – electrify everything, de-carbonize the shipping industry, put millions of people to work building the new energy economy. And we absolutely have to stop building and investing in the fossil fuel projects that are literally killing us all – which means we need to be ready to put our bodies, our lives, and our collective will in the way.

As Rebecca Solnit said in a beautiful essay on the first day of this decade:

I have seen change that was unimaginable until it happened and then became so ordinary-seeming a part of everyday life that people forgot there was a struggle, forgot there was a transformation, forgot how we got here, forgot that we are living in the once-unimaginable. I believe that there are many unimaginables in this moment that will become, must become ordinary, including the end of the era of fossil fuel. Almost no one seems to know that 20 years ago, we literally did not have the solution, because wind and solar were ineffectual and expensive; we have had an energy revolution that now makes it possible to make the transition we need, and it’s not unimaginable now—just unimagined because it’s so overlooked.

https://lithub.com/letter-to-a-young-climate-activist-on-the-first-day-of-the-new-decade/

We’ll try and embody this goal in 2020 by focussing on more & more escalated actions to stop fossil fuels. We’ll still have online petitions for you to sign, from time to time, but we’ll try and pair each and every one with a specific, in-person delivery event. Where possible we’ll also try and have a way for you to participate no matter what zip code you live in. And at big moments like the April climate strikes we’ll focus our attention on the second day of action –

Creation & social media

Another key lesson from the last few years is not to underestimate the value and role of art and creativity in our work, and also the importance of co-creation: of building things together. There’s just something so authentic and powerful about painting a banner together, singing a song together, assembling the lock box together. You’re not just talking about community, you’re literally making it.

By contrast, at the same time we’ve been re-learning the value of creating together, we’ve seen the utter failure of social media as a space for community building. The last few years took us from Tahrir square and digitally-powered movements that toppled dictators, to the Trump administration and the era of paid disinformation as a Facebook ad policy.

As Zeynep Tufekci said in this must-read article from last year:

What is to be done? There are no easy answers. More important, there are no purely digital answers. …The way forward is not to cultivate nostalgia for the old-world information gatekeepers or for the idealism of the Arab Spring. It’s to figure out how our institutions, our checks and balances, and our societal safeguards should function in the 21st century—not just for digital technologies but for politics and the economy in general. This responsibility isn’t on Russia, or solely on Facebook or Google or Twitter. It’s on us.

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/611806/how-social-media-took-us-from-tahrir-square-to-donald-trump/

That article was gutting for me because I spent the last 10 years trying to use tech tools to expand democracy and movement building in the US. The original idea of 198 methods was to update Gene Sharp’s anti-fascist methodology to use modern, digital tools like social media.

But we’re going to try and use Tufekci’s advice in 2020 by building the communities we need, not idealizing the ones we could have had. In particular we’re committing to building a curriculum of direct action training tools online. After 2 years of ignoring Facebook and other big social platforms, we’re also going to take another shot at using it to create authentic, multi-directional conversation through live video chats and Instagram stories. And of course we’ll keep, texting, emailing and continuing to reply to all the messages you write (eventually, and not counting the trolls).

Your vote matters, but it’s not enough

Last thought, since this is a very consequential election year, is about the 2020 election. Like social media, we’re forced to admit that we don’t live in the world we want, or have the things we need. But we also see that we can create them.

Specifically, we’re forced to confront these two facts:

  1. Defeating Trump and his corrupt, climate-wrecking administration in 2020 is incredibly important. No single thing will make as much of an impact on the climate as removing this regime from power.
  2. Our election system is deeply broken: Trump won without the popular vote, and millions of our fellow citizens are already disenfranchised by bogus redistricting, an arrest or incarceration record, and lots of other racist features of our system.

We have to vote. Everyone we know has to vote. And we have to spend time and resources (as best we’re allowed as a non-profit group) making sure people are registered, informed, and able to exercise their right to vote. But that simply can’t be the sum of our work.

No politician can be elected to save us. We have to save ourselves.

Too many things need to happen while the campaign is ongoing – from fighting Trump’s NEPA rollback, to pressing Congress and the Courts to act and hold Trump’s corrupt regime accountable, to building intentional and creative communities of action to stop pipelines.

And no matter who is elected at the end of this year, we need to keep pushing – because we only have this one last decade to make big changes in every part of our society. To change everything, it will take all of us, pushing everywhere.

So that’s our plan for 2020 in a nutshell: take radical action that reflects the urgency of the climate crisis; begin again with the project of using digital tools to build creative, connected action with people; And pay attention to the 2020 election and politics, without getting consumed or distracted by it.

Thanks for being a donor.

If you’re a recent donor or recurring contributor to 198 methods already, I didn’t want to clog up your inbox with yet MORE fundraising emails – so I didn’t send you any this past week.

But I did want to give you a chance to read our two year-end wrap up messages. Click the links to read the 2 articles in our blog, and I’ve made some suggestions for groups to donate to (other than us) if you’re interested too.  Of course, if you’re moved to make an additional gift to 198 methods or increasing your recurring contribution – you’re welcome to do that too. Or click here to donate via paypal.

And if you’re in a giving mood, but have done enough for 198 methods already (and thank you again for all you do) then here’s a few allies and partners to consider supporting:

National partners

Local and regional partners

Of course there are lots of other great groups doing amazing work. This is not intended as a comprehensive list, just a short one of some good friends and frequent collaborators. If you know of other groups for us to work with in 2020 – reply to one of our emails and tell us what’s up.

Thanks, and happy New Year!

2019 in photos

It’s almost 2020 and you look great! Here’s a quick retrospective on the last year of action and work, as told through some of my favorite pictures and memes. Take a gander, and if you’re so-inclined, chip in here to support another year of banner-dropping, Trump-impeaching, arrest-risking, action and fun!

Here’s a little more background on these photos:

January

Emily disrupts the Wheeler hearing
Photo from AJ+

We started the year protesting Trump’s Environmental Record – in this photo my youngest sister Emily is shutting down a hearing with Andrew Wheeler, Trump’s corrupt, climate-denying EPA chief. Ironically this hearing happened during a government shutdown that had furloughed thousands of EPA staff nation-wide. Protesting Trump’s corrupt, climate-denying cabinet is a theme of this year’s actions.

February

A resolution for a green new deal was introduced, call now

Another theme of this year was the Green New Deal – the ambitious proposal to reshape our economy and society in line with what climate scientists tell us are necessary levels of ambition. A resolution was introduced in February by Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen Ed Markey. But we felt it could be stronger, more inclusive – and especially that it needed to tackle fossil fuels. We weren’t alone as hundreds of groups and millions of people rallied to the call for a fossil-fuel-FREE Green New Deal in the coming months.

March

Breaking Tump tries to approve the KXL pipeline, again

February brought an old fight back to the fore – the fight to stop Keystone XL. Trump has been trying to build the pipeline, without success, since he was sworn in in 2017. So far court cases and local permits have kept him at bay – but we’re waiting for the moment when Trump’s fossil-fueled-authoritarian tendencies overwhelm those flimsy buffers and they simply begin lighting the fuse of this carbon bomb without proper permits and paperwork.

March was also the month we kicked off this year’s campaign to undercut the banks and hedge funds who make profit off of climate-chaos. That campaign ramped up a lot in April and May during shareholder season.

April

In April I climbed the three-story awning of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to drop this banner with friends at Beyond Extreme Energy. That campaign, to change FERC into the Federal RENEWABLE Energy Commission (FREC) is ongoing, and if you like it you should chip in to support BXE before the end of the year too!

We fired Zinke and Pruitt, now help block Bernhardt

April was also the month we launched the first of a series of campaigns that targeted David Bernhardt, Trump’s corrupt, climate-denying Interior Secretary. Like Wheeler (see above) he became a recurring character in our fight to stamp out corruption, block pollution, and protect the climate from Trump’s cast of climate conquistadors.

 America Shareholders' Meeting

And finally, I told you it was shareholder season. This photo is a favorite from the Bank of America Shareholder meeting where friends dropped a huge, 2-story call banner telling shareholders the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a financial and climate disaster.

May

Dominion press conference

That shareholder action carried right through into May. Here I am in my home-town of Columbia South Carolina talking to press outside the Dominion Energy Shareholder meeting.

Sign here to support disaster relief for Puerto Rico and all Americans.

May also launched our campaign to get disaster relief for Puerto Rico. This became a recurring theme as Congress would appropriate money for disaster relief, but Trump would refuse to sign or disburse the money – IF, and this is a big if, the people helped by the funding were black, brown, or tended to vote for Democrats. Later in the year we broadened this campaign to include climate refugees from the Caribbean and eventually the whole global south.

We can't fight climate change unless we fix our food and ag sectors

And the mid-year variation on the Green New Deal campaign in May (just in time for planting) was our Green New Deal and Ag work. Agriculture is one of the US’ biggest sources of global warming pollution; And there’s simply no way to fix climate change without addressing our food supply. This campaign also continues today, as we work to get Democrats in Congress to grapple with the entirety of a Green New Deal and climate action, not just the easy bits that don’t offend their donors.

June

Stop Barry Myers NOAA nomination!

One of our most successful petitions of the year was opposing Trump’s nominee to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Barry Myers. It took a while, but Myers eventually dropped out, and NOAA remains a rare bastion of climate research and scientific sanity in the Trump regime. I also really liked this meme of Myers in front of actual NOAA imagery of Hurricane Florence.

July

No More Climate deniers in charge of US climate policy

Less successful was our attempt to block coal-baron Kelly Knight-Craft from being appointed as Ambassador to the United Nations. Our petition and work with partners did generate a lot more “no” votes for her confirmation than normal, but did not succeed in changing the Trump-team’s approach to international climate action.

No rate hike we can't afford more fracked gas

Just a quick one that A) illustrates how a little design and digital recruitment helps local protest campaigns, and B) is solidarity work with allies in North Carolina who are fighting a whole wave of fossil fuel infrastructure including the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, fracked Gas liquefaction facilities, and a corrupt administration that ignores pollution in exchange for big money.

This little meme was made for a rate hike protest in Charlotte near the 4th of July holiday.

August

Trump wants to take away your freedom of Information

Wheeler popped back on our radar this month when he tried to hide government files from public records. I do love using photos of Trump and his Administration cronies against them.

September

Climate Strike! That was the big theme in September as we supported hundreds of Climate Strike events here in the US. Greta Thunberg asked the United Nations “How Dare You” and I personally buckled in as part of two beautifully troublesome actions.

In DC I locked myself into a car to and had to be cut out by police with a special saw as we blocked a key bridge at the Shut Down DC action. And then in New Hampshire I was arrested with dozens of friends and allies signing as we peacefully attempted to remove the coal from the last remaining coal plant in New England without a shutdown date.

October

Hurricane Dorian over the Bahamas

October was when we expanded our work to get relief for those impacted by climate chaos to the Bahamas, which had just been hit by Hurricane Dorian. Trump was denying them visas – in one case leading people to be turned off a boat bound for the US – so we spoke up. Later in the year the campaign expanded again to cover all climate refugees. Again, I love using these NOAA hurricane images to illustrate why we need climate action now.

November

Bernhardt is too corrupt to go on

November brought one more campaign targeting Bernhardt as Congress opened (and considered more) investigations into his corrupt conduct. Like I said, targeting these Trump cronies has been a consistent theme of our work for years – and it feels like we’re getting closer to expelling Bernhardt and Wheeler. Like we already won campaigns to expel Zinke and Pruitt.

One other fun update on that Bernhardt campaign – a few weeks later some friends took out this mobile billboard in DC – Corrupt and Corrupter indeed.

Our Bernhardt Billboard is turning heads

December

Strike with us Dec 6

The winder Climate Strike was smaller – but was important because it was timed to connect with the UN climate talks. Another failure, unfortunately.

Impeach

What wasn’t a failure was our turnout for impeachment eve rallies nationwide, and the vote – FINALLY – in the House of Representatives this month that made Trump just the third President in history to be impeached (Nixon resigned first).

So there you have it! A year in photos and images to illustrate all our work. You can also check out our previous post which covers more of the science and policy on how we’re ending 2019. Next week, after the New Year, I’ll write you a message about our plans for 2020 but you can be sure it will continue a few of these themes:

  1. Holding corrupt Trump cronies like Wheeler and Bernhardt accountable;
  2. Working as part of the global Climate Strike movement to demand bold action from our elected leaders;
  3. Pushing US policy makers to adopt a bold, fossil-fuel-free Green New Deal; &
  4. Bringing you great direct-action powered online campaigns at the local, state, and federal level to demand climate action.

4 charts and a mission

UPDATE: Since I wrote this earlier, I’ve come across two good discussions on the role of “Hope” in the face of these charts and the overwhelming science of climate change.

  1. This interview with scientists and experts contrasts these same 4 charts with what gives them hope.
  2. This really good thread and podcast discussion by The Hot Take co-founder Mary Annaïse Heglar makes the argument that it’s not hope, but resolve, action, and some other things that are necessary in this moment.

I agree with both parts: that we need more hope, and that the antidote to fear is not hope, but action and conviction in the face of uncertainty. If you agree and are able, I hope you’ll  click here to donate.

As has become a tradition, I’m going to tell the story of where our climate and common home is at with a series of charts and graphs. Next week I’ll send you a year in photos so you can look back at some of what we’ve done this year.

But if you’re already all in – here’s the link to donate, and thanks.

Chart 1 – Tipping points ahead

This first one is from a recent report in Nature that finds that we’re coming up – faster than expected – on a series of global tipping points. How these tipping points work and interact is a bit complicated, as you can tell from all the arrows and points on that map. But the key idea is that none of these items is unrelated from each other.

The fires in the Rainforest are both a symptom of climate-fueled draught, and also a cause of the loss of Arctic Sea Ice; which in turn is contributing to slower circulation of the Atlantic ocean current; and on and on.

There are a lot of climate emergencies happening all over the planet, and none of them are un-connected. Wherever you are, you’re likely seeing impacts, and your local impacts and emissions are fueling the crisis somewhere else.

That’s bad news, and really alarming, because these disasters are happening decades earlier than previously predicted, and they’re compounding at increasingly rapid rates. At the same time, it helps to know that we are all truly in this together – just because my coast is flooded and yours is on fire, or vice versa, doesn’t mean we aren’t facing the same problems.

If you’re ready to fund another year of all-in actions to stop the climate crisis however and wherever it shows up, click here.

Chart 2 & 3 – Emissions still going up

This one, which should be familiar to anyone who has been in this movement for a few years, is from the World Meteorological Association and shows that global concentrations of Carbon Dioxide are still going up.

That goes for emissions of methane too – again according to scientists at the WMO. Methane is the key component in fracked gas, and is up to 80 times more potent at warming the climate and created those interconnected tipping points and indicators in chart #1 above. Which is why we spend so much time protesting at gas pipelines and the people who are supposed to regulate them.

If you agree emissions keep going up, and it’s gone on far too long; click here to chip in and fund the fight for us not to be silent any more

Chart 4 – We’re not acting fast enough.

That emissions are still rising is probably not a surprise, nor is the fact that we’re not doing enough to combat the climate crisis. If we were, emissions would be going down, right? But the distance between what we need to be doing, and what we say we are doing is also getting wider.

That was the conclusion of another gut-punch of a report from the United Nations this year, eloquently summed up in our final chart:

So there it is – the state of the climate movement in 4 charts, and it is NOT good.

  • We’re approaching a series of interconnected ‘tipping points’ of climate chaos much faster than expected.
  • That’s because emissions of carbon dioxide and methane are still going up despite years of promises by the world’s governments to reduce them.
  • Most devastating, the gap between what we say we will do, what we need to do, and what we are doing keeps getting wider.

That U.N. report was described as “Grim,” “Bleak” and “drastic” when it came out. But it was not without hope. The authors of the same report on the ambition gap wrote that, “the political focus on the climate crisis is growing in several countries, with voters and protesters, particularly youth, making it clear that it is their number one issue.”

And that’s why I’m asking you to chip in again this year. If you believe, as I do, that while the hour is late and the news is dire, a growing movement of voters and protesters can turn the tide and get us on-track to solve the climate crisis – please consider chipping in $1.98, $1.98/week, or whatever you can afford to keep us fighting.

Next week I’ll be back with a photo and video year in review of some of the amazing work we’e been a part of this year – from challenging Trump’s corrupt, climate denying cabinet; to shutting down DC as part of the global climate strike; and much much more.

Global Climate Strike report: #StrikeWithUs & shut it down

Before the global climate strike week of action, I told you that 198 methods was built for this.

Every petition you signed online, every Trump official we forced to resign, every action we took at FERC, at a bank, at a Governor’s office in NY or NC, it’s been in preparation for this kind of moment.

Now, as the global week of action comes to a close with more than 7 MILLION participants world wide, and major actions all over the US, I want to say THANK YOU; And I want to remind you that this is the beginning of the fight we were built for, not the end.

So as you check out the amazing stories, photos and videos below, I hope you’ll agree that it is worth it to build a community dedicated to the support of non violent direct action for the climate – and chip in what you can to support us.

September 20, around the world, #Strike with us.

Friday September 20 we followed the lead of global youth and took to the streets as part of the largest coordinated international action on climate change, ever. There were more than 1000 events in the US alone, and a record 4 million+ people participated in the strikes.

Check out an album of photos from around the world here. Or check out the wrap up video from partners at 350.org for an overview:

Global Climate Strike: September 20

It was a historic day, and it’s just the beginning. 4 million people all over the world joined the youth-led call for climate action. This week and into the future, we will keep working for justice and an end to the fossil fuel era. https://globalclimatestrike.net/#join-in#ClimateStrike #FridaysForFuture

Posted by 350.org on Sunday, September 22, 2019

September 23 #ShutDownDC

On the Monday after the climate strikes, we began a series of escalations – as called for by global youth leaders. While Greta Thunberg delivered her “How Dare You” speech to the United Nations, we joined more than 2000 people in 24 affinity groups to shut down traffic into capitol hill and K street Washington DC – the metaphorical intersection of fossil-funded climate denial and inaction.

I was part of an affinity group that locked down in two cars to shut down a major bridge into Capitol Hill, and the key Trump Administration agencies. Across town, activists locked themselves to a sailboat to symbolize rising sea levels, while others formed a roving dance party to generate joy and collective spirit in the face of the climate crisis. More than 30 activists were arrested as part of the action, with black, brown and young participants especially targeted.

Check out photos and videos from the action here, or watch this video from partners at Unicorn Riot for an overview:

Activists were back in the Streets of DC by Friday for a march through downtown DC. This time, we focused on a section of Northwest DC where the Trump administration’s corrupt relationship with corporations and polluters is most clear – with stops at the EPA and Trump Hotel, as well as fossil-fuel-financiers Blackrock and Wells Fargo. Our march specifically called for Trump’s impeachment, and an end to fossil fuel fascism. While at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, Congress continued its formal impeachment investigation of Trump’s corrupt polluter regime. Read more about it here.

Calling out NC Gov Roy Cooper’s Climate Hypocrisy.

You remember North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper as the Democrat who promised climate action, but instead approved the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and colluded with Duke energy to mess with our communities and climate. Cooper is a leading example of the climate hypocrisy in the Democratic party.

So when Cooper showed up to claim credit as a climate hero by introducing a so-called Clean Energy Plan at a meeting of the NC Climate Change Interagency Council, we showed up to disrupt with old friends from the state.

The action was the next step in ongoing escalation to focus attention on frontline climate justice issues neglected by the Cooper Administration: Duke Energy’s fracked gas infrastructure development–including the ACP and MVP–and the increase in forest destruction being driven by Enviva.  

Check out some news coverage of the disruption and the plan here, or check out this quick video from partners Friends of the Earth of the disruption:

Shut Down New England’s last coal plant #bucketbyBucket

The Merrimack Generating Station in Bow, NH, is the last big coal fired power plant in New England with no shut down date. It has polluted the air, water, and climate in New Hampshire for decades, but it still manages to steal millions of dollars in taxpayer in subsidies every year to keep running. So on Saturday, Sept. 28, we joined more than 300 activists from across new England to take matters into our own hands to stop climate chaos.

Nearly 70 people, including me, were arrested trying to enter the plant with shovels and buckets in hand. We were prepared to remove coal from the burn pile #BucketByBucket to literally pull fuel from the fires of climate change. Unfortunately, a large police presence including a helicopter, Drone surveillance and state police in riot gear prevented us from reaching the coal and we were arrested just a few hundred yards from our goal.

The demonstration was peaceful, prayerful, and powerful. And we will be back to shut down Merrimack for good. In the meantime, check out all the photos and videos at the website, or watch the epic livestream from our partners at 350 NH below.

We are at the last major coal fired power plant in New England with hundreds of people and we are here to shut it down. #nocoalnogas #climatestrike #bucketbybucketThis is just the beginning. Sign below to join the fight. https://bit.ly/2nClBEp

Posted by 350 New Hampshire Action on Saturday, September 28, 2019

Bad news & why we fight on

Bad news first: This week the Senate confirmed Kelly Craft to serve as Trump’s corrupt, climate-denying ambassador to the United Nations. The vote was mostly along party lines with only five Democrats betraying their principles, values and common sense vote for Craft.

There’s no upside to Craft being approved. But the vote frames two important reasons why we fight, and how we will fight on:

  1. It’s not our last chance to hold Craft accountable, and just like we fought the nominations of Rex Tillerson, Scott Pruitt, and Ryan Zinke – only to eventually get them to resign or be fired later – we need to keep at it until every member of this corrupt regime is impeached, removed, and gone.
  2. The five Democrats who voted for Craft – Sens. Maggie Hassan (NH.), Joe Manchin (WV.), Chris Murphy (CT), Jeanne Shaheen (NH) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) – are still a problem, but they’re a vanishing breed. We need to keep pushing, and to hold these Democratic turncoats accountable.

So thank you to everyone who signed and shared and called and demanded action. We lost this battle, but the war for our future and climate goes on – and I believe that we can win.

If you believe it too, chip in $1.98 or more to support us, and we’ll lay out some of our plans and goals below the fold.

So, Kelly Craft, corrupt owner of coal mines and climate-denier-except-when-she-doesn’t is headed to the UN? Well, so are we. The next UN general assembly is just over a month away, and a lot of eyes will be on New York.

Greta Thunberg, the teenage campaigner whose started the global school climate strike movement is headed there by sailboat. And a global series of strikes and actions are planned for the week of September 20-28, right when Craft will be showing up to work at the UN.

More updates and details are coming soon – this week in fact. So stay tuned for updates and if you can, chip in $1.98 or more to support our organizing.

Just as important, Congress is home in their districts for the next 6 weeks. If you live in NH, WV, CT, NH or AZ, make sure to contact your Senator at a town hall meeting or public forum and tell them you’re sick and tired of Democrats enabling Trump’s climate-wrecking agenda.

Rex Tillerson and Scott Pruitt, two other famously corrupt Trump cronies who eventually resigned or were forced out, received only one or two Democratic votes in confirmation. Which makes Craft’s confirmation a troubling sign of back-sliding in the party.

As this excellent article from Dave Roberts at Vox points out, it’s becoming a bit of a fashion for Democrats to pledge big changes and actions on climate change, but always just far enough in the future that they never have to be held accountable.

They may think they’ve found a way to talk big on climate without any action or consequence, but we know better. Craft’s nomination was hustled through because she’s a long time donor and friend of Mitch McConnell. But when we’ve had more time to organize opposition – like against Barry Myers, or Trump’s climate denying FERC nominees – we’ve shown that we can be effective.

So if you’re game to keep fighting every nomination, every time, and deprive Trump of his enablers, chip in $1.98 or more and help us keep fighting.

Like I said, there’s no silver lining to Craft being confirmed. A corrupt, climate-denying UN ambassador is just a terrible idea, and even worse in practice. But we’ve got more opportunities to fight coming up soon, and when we fight, we can win. I hope you’ll stay in this fight for our climate and common home with me.

Quick, slightly belated, update on Bernhardt

As you probably heard by now – Bernhardt was confirmed by a vote of 56-41 last week, over the objections of nearly 200,000 of us who signed, called, texted, and petitioned to oppose his nomination. The vote was largely along party lines, with three of the same Democrats who voted against the Green New Deal — Joe Manchin (D-WV), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) — voting for Bernhardt, as well as Maine’s so-called Independent Senator, Angus King.

It’s frightening, of course, to have such a dangerous and dirty nominee confirmed to an important post  that oversees so much of our public lands and waters, as well as many of the US Government’s interactions with tribal nations and indigenous people through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. 

But Bernhardt didn’t get away scot-free: He takes is official position under more investigations than most previous Interior Secretaries ever see. And House Democrats will be sure to scrutinize every corrupt rule and racist policy Bernhardt tries to promulgate.

That’s the power of our actions together online – some bad things we can stop outright, and others, like Bernhardt’s nomination, we can slow and make more problematic for the drillers, frackers, and  fossil-fueled cronies Trump appoints.

So thank you for taking action.

I also want to remind you that this isn’t over – nor is it the only thing we’re fighting right now. For those of you who are new to this list – Welcome! The thesis idea here at 198 methods is to use the anti-authoritarian tactics first popularized by Gene Sharp as a non-violent alternative to armed populist revolution, and popularized again in recent books like This is an Uprising and Twitter and Teargas, as a specific model for fighting fossil fuels and climate chaos in the United States.

And if you’ve ever questioned if we’re really living in a fossil-fueled oligarchy or dictatorship – just consider the last week of Trump News: His recent Executive Orders basically direct federal agents (that’s the nationalism part) to overrule local objections to fossil fuel projects and disregard shareholder resolutions opposing climate change. 

Combined with Bernhardt’s dirty, corrupt, partisan confirmation vote, it’s one of the most blatant moment’s of Trump putting the profits of fossil fuel barons ahead of the rule of law, the safety of our communities, and the survival of our climate and common home.

If you want to see more about how we’re fighting back this spring – with actions that strike back at the heart of the fossil fuel and pipeline empires in Washington DC, and take the fight to the shareholder meetings and financiers of climate chaos – check out our blog, and stay tuned!

Talk about the Green New Deal, not this Senate vote

Let’s get one thing clear about this week’s Senate vote on a Green New Deal: Mitch McConnell is a twerp.

The resolution that was voted on this week was not the non-binding Green New Deal resolution introduced by Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), which we’ve talked. a lot. about.

That resolution would need to be referred to committee, where it would have committee hearings and consideration and debate – the kind of stuff that might address the concerns we and others have raised about banning fossil fuels, stopping pipelines, and the like. It also would give time and space to fill in details that are missing.

McConnell doesn’t want that debate, so he introduced this binding resolution making “it is the sense of the Senate” that the Green New Deal should become “the policy of the United States.” Like I said, he’s a twerp.

But Whatever McConnell’s shady motivations, this week’s vote was a slap-in-the-face loss to the climate community. The vote was 57-to-0, with 4 Dems, 1 Independent and every Republican voting “no” and all other dems voting “present.”

That’s especially galling because the oil, gas, & coal industries contributed more than $55 MILLION to senators who voted “no” on the #GreenNewDeal resolution – 11x more than to those who voted “present”.

It’s also hard to swallow because after 3 months of a new Congress, thousands of media stories, hundreds of lobby visits, sit ins, protests, and press conference galore we’ve actually managed to convince a majority of Americans that this is a crisis worth tackling – and tackling this way.

Which is why I’m sticking to my guns on this 198-methods strategy: We need outside action, especially direct action, that slows or stops the buildout of fossil fuel infrastructure. AND we need an inside-strategy that presses politicians and regulators to take actions (like a real, fossil-free, Green New Deal), because only big policy solutions will change the dynamic fast enough.

What’s the big deal?

Don’t get me wrong, the Green New Deal has re-shaped the debate on climate change and gotten politicians to talk about the scope and severity of the crisis in a serious way for the first time in a long time.

But the conversation is still stuck in false assumptions that will not keep fossil fuels in the ground or address the systemic racism and injustice of sacrifice zones. In the House of Representatives (outside Mitch the twerp-turtle’s jurisdiction), at least 3 committees are considering climate legislation. But all those bills, and even the actual resolution from Markey and AOC still talk about “net zero emissions” or set the timeline to end fossil fuels and nuclear power way too far in the future (like 2050 or later).

And I’m not just being a stick-in-the-mud: The decision to leave fossil fuels and nuclear on the table in the Green new Deal is shaping the 2020 conversation already: Beto O’Rourke said he supports a Green New Deal, and fracked gas, when Friends of the Earth questioned him in New Hampshire. A few days later, Sen Cory Booker said “I already support the Green New Deal. This resolution of bold vision is what we need. … And I agree with you. Nuclear has to be part of this solution.”

As a side-note, Booker was at a South Carolina town hall meeting organized by CNN that night. If he’d read the local paper, he might have seen that a few miles away another nuclear waste site was caught leaking tritium into the ground water in Barnwell, SC.

If we leave fossil fuels and nuclear on the table, what we’re really saying is that we’re ok with sacrifice zones. Because if we don’t start phasing out dirty energy NOW then they will keep building them, and people will keep getting sick, having their land stolen, and worse.

The 5 biggest oil companies (BP, Exxon, Shell etc) are planning to spend $110 BILLION on new oil & gas projects THIS YEAR (2019) & just 3% as much on clean alternatives.

Wall Street, the fossil fuel companies, the utilities, every single Republican in the Senate and a shockingly large number Democrats are committed to that same vision: another 20-50 years of drilling, spilling, pipelines, genocide, and ecological devastation.

So, now what?

The Senate vote was a sham and a stunt — not least of all because it distracted everyone (effectively) from the real action in the House where this week Nancy Pelosi introduced HR 9 . to keep the US in the Paris climate agreement.

Paris is not a panacea — It’s non-binding, like the AOC/Markey resolution. But it creates a framework to debate bills that have a lot more force and effect.

It’s like agreeing on the playing field, the rules, and saying that we’re in the game. We still need to do all the things to win (in this case stop climate change before it kills us all). And none of that will be possible if we slash our own achilles’ tendons — which is what building 12 new gas export facilities, millions of acres of fracking and drilling rigs, and millions of miles of new pipelines would do to our chances.

But, it’s a start. So this April we’re encouraging you to work on those two tracks: You can join a local Promise to Protect training stop and learn how you can turn up to stop the Keystone Pipeline, and stay tuned for updates on other actions targeting Dominion and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. At the same time, keep the pressure on Congress to keep debating climate solutions, and make sure they #KeepItInTheGround and say #nonukes as part of those solutions. A great action this week is to call your Senators and tell them to oppose Trump’s choice to lead the Interior Department, David Bernhardt, a former oil lobbyist who is exactly as corrupt as you think he is.

Wheeler, Schumer and a week of action in DC

This has been a busy week for Congress, which means it’s been a busy week for activists. On Tuesday afternoon, Drew helped run a training session at the Friends of the Earth headquarters in Washington D.C. and prepared to take action at Andrew Wheeler’s confirmation hearing. At the training, six of us (including Drew) volunteered to risk arrest by speaking out during the hearing.

The plan was to enter in pairs, splitting the roles so that one would stand and read out a story from someone impacted by Wheeler’s dirty EPA policies or by the government shutdown. The other partner would silently hold a sign reading, “Shut down Wheeler, not the EPA.”

protest in the hallway
Photo by Liz Gorman

The stories to be read were compiled from Friends of the Earth members and public reports on the impacts of EPA policy. The goal was to highlight the injustice of Andrew Wheeler’s confirmation hearing while hundreds of people are impacted by the ongoing government shutdown. With so many people unable to pay their mortgages or afford critical medications, why is Congress prioritizing the confirmation of a puppet to the coal industry to lead the EPA?

The next morning, we arrived on Capitol Hill to line up. We had to hide our posters in bags and under coats. But Capitol Police and Republican Senate staffers suspected something – and in an attempt to prevent any kind of disruption, they filled the hearing room with EPA staff and Republican lawyers before the public was even let in. For this reason, Drew and I were the only pair to make it successfully into the hearing room before the doors were closed and those still in line were moved to the overflow space.

Silent protestors hold signs while emily and other FOE friends are arrested for refusing to be quiet

Photo by Liz Gorman

We waited until Wheeler made his opening remarks and allowed him to introduce his family before standing up. I held a sign and Drew shouted out the story a Texas woman who lives near a coal fired power plant that Wheeler wants to allow to pollute more. Capitol Police ushered us quickly out into the hallway where more than a dozen allier were also chanting and holding up posters. Four more friends were ultimately placed under arrest for refusing to stop chanting or disburse from outside the hearing.

The rest of the crowd stood in the hallway outside of the hearing room with their posters in silence until all of us were escorted out. All six of us were released after paying a fine of fifty dollars.

Drew is placed under arrest for disrupting the hearing of Andrew Wheeler for EPA Administrator

Photo by Liz Gorman

Later that same night, we were back at it, attending a meeting with 350 to plan and train folks for an action the following morning at the office of Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer. The plan was for a large group to enter the office of Senator Schumer and read out a letter demanding that he sign on to the Green New Deal. Members of the group would also tell their own stories about how the climate change movement has affected their lives. As we exited the office we would sing protest songs while two floors above, four people would drop a banner over the side of a balcony to be viewed from below.

Banner dropped over Sen Schumer's office
photo by 350

On the morning of the action, we met at Union Station and briefed a larger crowd that had not been able to attend the previous night’s training. Then we walked over to the Capitol to file through metal detectors and security checkpoints before making our way to Chuck Schumer’s office. The stories and testimony insider from impacted young people were powerful. And the songs and chants outside echoed through the hallways and marble lobby of the Hart office building. No arrests were made that day, since our banner team chose to comply with orders by Capitol Police to pull up the banner.

On the lower floor, the larger group continued to sing, and share stories of climate impacts, until we were warned to cease and desist. After a second warning, the whole group together then walked over to the park across the street from the capitol building, where reflections and feelings of hope were shared before one final song was sung.

Emily and our team with the banner after the action at Sen Schumer's office
Photo by 350.org

Small things can change everything in 2019

UPDATE – The Trump shutdown will last at least until January, with Republicans having given up any pretense of governing in 2018. And that makes our plans for 2019 even more timely and important. We’ve done great stuff together this year – firing Zinke and Pruitt, speaking out against the offshore drilling plan, occupying Gov Cooper’s office, FERC’s front door, and various Senate and House offices too. We need   more donations to underwrite our plans. Click here to help.

Today is the first official, business day of Trump’s Government shutdown. And part of me says, “So what”?

We’ve spent a lot of the last 2 years shutting down parts of Trump’s illegal, climate-denying government anyway – getting Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke fired, for example. Or sitting in at FERC, at the EPA, even at Trump’s inauguration to make sure things are shut down in order to open up a conversation about climate action.

But with 12 years to solve the climate crisis, the truth is we need a functional, non-fossil-fascist, US federal government to be part of the solution. So, like a lot of things, this is one of those times where the crisis at hand is also bad for the climate.

It’s also one of those crisi-tunity moments. For in the shutdown the Democrats, about to be newly ascendant in Congress, have finally rallied together as a block. And not just in opposition to Trump’s useless, racist, border wall. Just a few weeks ago every Democrat in the Senate finally voted together to oppose a Trump’s climate denying FERC nominee. That’s raising expectations and hopes that they will stand together and block Trump’s nominees to run the Department of Justice (with far-reaching consequences for the rule of law, environmental and otherwise) and replace Zinke at Interior – among other things. It’s not all awesome, of course. The same month Democrats hung together to oppose Trump on Climate Denial, House leaders opted for a decidedly Milk-toast and polluter-friendly version of the Select committee on Climate Change. Sunrise and the young people who fought so hard on that aren’t done yet (not by a longshot) and we’ll be back in 2019. But still, climate cowardice remains the default position of too many politicians.

A little more than two years ago I started 198 methods to answer a question: Can you use (and update) Gene Sharp’s famous methodology for fighting fascism to fight climate change? I didn’t want to research it or write a book, I wanted to do it and figure out how to do it more.

Two years later, we’ve done a lot of good together. In addition to the federal work linked above, we’ve also supported a bunch of lobby days, sit ins and actions in New York, North Carolina (remember that time in Gov Cooper’s office?), South Carolina and lots more. And we’re not nearly done yet – I’ve got some big ideas and hot plans for 2019. But I need your help. All our ideas revolve around a simple idea: A small group of people, using small interventions – creative direct action tactics backed by cutting edge tech tools and best practices – can actually stop the climate crisis. How small? I’m looking for about 60 people to invest $1.98 a week.

Here’s how

I’ve already got a schedule of actions lined up for January and February. I can’t tell you all the details (yet) because we’re planning some actions where people will risk arrest again. But I can tell you the basic themes are

  1. Pressure Dems even more to stand together and act on climate change. It’s clear that it works and it’s clear they only respond to pressure (polite meetings, getting them re-elected, scientific analysis all may be essential, but have not produced meaningful action.
    1. What’s that mean in the next few weeks? Back to Congress right after they’re sworn in to pressure them to act on the Green New Deal, stop taking fossil fuel money, and continue to investigate and shut down Trump’s fossil-fascist regime in the Administration. We’ll also be working with Sunrise, 350 and other partners on a series of distributed actions (eg, where you live, no matter where you live) in February and into the spring. And, it’s almost time to bring back our debate watch parties and start talking about the 2020 election. Don’t worry, it’s not quite time, yet.
  2. Keep getting in the way. Several major projects have been delayed, blocked in the courts or canceled because people stood up and got in the way. A recent Court order that stopped the Atlantic Coast Pipeline even quoted the Lorax (long-time handbook of all direct action forest campaigners).
    1. What’s that mean in the next few weeks? Well it depends a little on how soon some of these projects are re-started. But I think it’s safe to say you can look for us in the trees and on the rivers of Virginia and North Carolina soon. The Cracks at FERC we helped open up are also deepening, so look for more action on that agency, and potentially a new Trump-nominee to fight in early 2019. We’ll also be back in South Carolina where a Dominion is still trying to buy, bully and cajole its way in.
  3. Keep after the money, but don’t wait for investors to save us. All those delays have also added up to big divestments – At the COP talks in Poland this year they announced a new grand-total just under $8 trillion. That’s good news, but it’s also worth pointing out that big banks and Wall Street Investors are still betting heavily on the climate crisis — investing billions in pipelines, new drilling, new mines and more around the world. Dominion stock had a great day on Wall Street (a rare thing this December) the same day we were thrown out of a hearing shouting about how they were stealing money from South Carolina rate payers – Wall Street didn’t fail to notice, it liked the idea of a fossil fueled monopoly conquering one of the poorest states in America.
    1. What’s that mean in the next few weeks? Keep the pressure on the pipelines, their enablers, and keep naming and shaming the financiers. One of the reasons I’m keen to connect more communications tools to our network next year (see below) is to help people take simple steps that connect the dots – this bank, funds that pipeline, so close your account, which takes money away from the bank, and then take action to slow or stop the pipeline, which creates a feedback loop. Pipelines get harder and more expensive to build, little by little. We can make it as easy as an ap on your phone (almost): tap, swipe, divest, take action, win.
  4. Keep taking action, keep writing and posting and helping others act. The most fundamental thing I can offer you is to keep writing, taking action, and inviting you to take action with us in 2019 and expand into some new formats. This year, we added a lot of video and live video to our actions and reports. Close to 1 million people watched our actions online that way (wow!) and some 60,000 of you took action with us this year.
    1. What’s that mean in the next few weeks? More Blog posts. Most of them much shorter than this (I promise!) and focussed on a specific action you can take to help stop the climate crisis. It also means I’d like to spend some time updating our tech tools, and expanding them so it’s easier to connect you to the stuff we do in real time. Next time we’re live streaming from a lockdown, or updating you on our protest outside a bank, I want to be able to connect you right to the action so you can call the Bank Manager, tell local media to cover climate cowards right, or protect the people on the frontlines risking it all.

I’ve also got a good idea what it will cost us to stay in operation. We need a few simple tools to stay in contact with you, and to dramatically expand our power in 2019 — adding that ability to connect you directly (and only if you opt-in, of course) to direct actions through your telephone, to congress via text message, and more. Here’s what it costs for us to have access to all the tools we need for those tools for email, events, fundraising, calls and texts:

item cost
IRS registration C3 $275.00
Corporate filing fees $159.00
Google tools $23.88
Action network for emails, events, petitions and more. $3,870.00
Toll-free calls @ $.03/minute $3,000.00
SMS messages @ $.016/text $1,600.00
TOTAL $8,927.88

That’s it. The whole operating budget of this project for a year is less than $10,000. And actually, we already have about $3,000 committed from current donors and recurring contributions. Which is why what I’m really looking for is about 60 people to donate $5,000. And the simplest, most efficient way to do it is to chip in $1.98/week. 60 people, donating at that level gets us what we need, though you’re of course free to donate in any amount and in any format you want.

You’ll notice that this doesn’t include direct costs for specific actions – travel to an event, housing and feeding folks who take action, paying bail or legal costs if necessary, etc. We prefer to raise those as we need them, so that your support pays only for what the action requires, and you know that every dollar you donate goes right to the material costs. If we need a pizza, we ask you to help pay for it. Rather than asking you to support a massive endowment or general fund that you can’t see or control the results of.

You might also notice that there’s no money for an office, salaries, or for what other groups call “overhead”. I think that’s a good thing, and part of what makes us different than other climate action groups. Lots of people talk about being nimble, small, and focussed on funding action. We do it. And we keep our whole budget and operation transparent so you can see what’s happening and opt in (or out) anytime you want.

So, if you like the sound of all that. If you’ve taken action with us this year, and you’re ready for more. Or if you’re just like me – and you’ve got $1.98 and you want to fight the Fossil-fascists with it. Please click here to chip in $1.98 a week or whatever you can afford. Thanks.