Quick Update on Westborough Eight

r600x600

The Keystone XL protesters who used chains and glue to bind themselves together in TransCanada’s Westborough, MA office have all been processed. They are, left to right, Ben Thompson, 22, a PhD student studying Mathematics at Boston University, Dorian Williams, 21, an Anthropology major at Brandeis University, Shea Riester, 22, a recent graduate of  Brandeis University and a student of social movements, Devyn Powell, 20, and International Relations and Environmental Studies major at Tufts University, Emily Edgerly, 20, an Environmental Studies major at Tufts University, Lisa Purdy, 20, an Environmental Studies major at Brandeis University, Alli Welton, 20, a History of Science major at Harvard University, and Ben Trolio an Environmental Conservation Studies major at the University of New Hampshire.

To understand their reasons for doing this, please see their blog and bios.

Most, if not all, are members of Students for a Just and Stable Future (SJSF). (Some have also been active in CASEJ) Around the time of their release SJSF tweeted the following:

“The costs of action are far less than the costs of inaction.” The hope of these youth is to inspire you to fight w/ @350Mass@KXLBlockade

Later followed by:

Wanna hang out with these kids? @350Mass TOMORROW @ First Church Cambridge 11 Garden St Cambridge, MA [ 6 – 7pm potluck, 7 – 9pm meeting ]

This and other actions around the country kicked off an anticipated series of protests against Keystone XL and tarsands that will span the next several days. Now, what will it take for the present leaders to heed the message of the coming generation?

~ Nuevaspora

NOAA: 9 Months in 2012 Capped Hottest Years On Record

Of the 12 hottest 12 month periods recorded in the the US, 9 spanned between 2011 and 2012. That includes all 8 of the top 8 periods. This is according to preliminary data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

These are the warmest 12-month periods on record for the contiguous United States. The December 2011-November 2012 12-month period was the sixth warmest consecutive 12-months that the contiguous U.S. has experienced and the warmest November-October 12-month period on record.

~ NOAA

For more check:

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/2012/11/supplemental/page-2/

 

 

It’s also been pretty dry. For yet more, check: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/

Thanks Climate Progress for the heads up!

~ Nuevaspora

High School Students Explain Significance of Climate Change

On Saturday Oct. 27th, this young woman spoke to the threat and magnitude of climate change before a crowd at the week long Vigil to End Climate Silence in Boston’s Government Center. It would be three days before several elected officials would choose to follow suit, responding the the shocking destruction of Hurricane Sandy. On this election day, voters are still wondering where many candidates stand on this issue.

Recording by Susan R.

Update: Don’t miss this amazing essay, posted today on Climate Progress, from 16 year old climate activist and now Sandy survivor, Maya Faison.

“I am 16 years old and I am currently in my home in Laurelton, Queens.  It is day six with no heat, no power and no gas in my mom’s car to escape.
Trees are down all over my neighborhood and at night it is pitch dark, with only the moon as light. I feel paralyzed with cold.

…Our nation is in danger and my future is in danger.
This is the future I want: a country that is better prepared for climate and environmental disasters, and is working proactively to mitigate global warming. Just like we have fire drills in school, we need to have evacuation plans and disaster preparedness kits.  We must rely less on oil and more on alternative energy, and reduce carbon emissions by any means necessary. We need more preservation of natural resources and less consumption. We cannot continue to provide subsidies to oil and gas companies that are wreaking havoc on our earth.  Science matters, and we must educate the next generation on the realities of climate change so we are all working to promote a better, more sustainable future.”

~ Nuevaspora

Vigil to End Climate Silence ~ Finale

I will not go down under the ground, 
Cause somebody tells me that deaths comin’ round

I have read all their statements and I’ve not said a word
But now Lawd God let my poor voice be heard
Let me die in my footsteps 
Before I go down under the ground

Let me Die in My Footsteps
~Bob Dylan

I would like to sum up the end of the Vigil to End Climate Silence. In the end the silence was broken but it had little to do with the vigil and more to do with the images of destruction all along the east coast. These images mirrored the warnings of the prominent climate scientists and those familiar with their work. Until recently, much of this had been dismissed as alarmist and it was even the fodder of jokes.

However, as the storm barreled towards the east coast the levity stopped and all along the eastern seaboard people bunkered down. By the time it hit land, having maintained much of it’s massive reach, there was little anyone could do but watch, helpless, as electricity went out all along the eastern seaboard and portions of the most populous city in the country were submerged in sea water. The storm has thus far been reported to have killed over 180 people (with at least 113 killed in the US), and has left many others displaced, in some cases indefinitely.

It is important to note that in the midst of the historic failure of our national leaders to minimize the likelihood of such events by effectively curbing green house gas emissions, and despite their present failure to address the situation head on, many citizens have been vigilant.

Vigil to End Climate Silence ~ Wednesday, Oct. 24th, 2012

For nearly the entire week prior, a steady stream of volunteers had been maintaining a Vigil to End Climate Silence in Boston’s Government Center. Over 200 volunteers took on shifts, calling attention to the failure of our national leaders to address the changing climate and take necessary measures for keeping us safe. The vigil was organized by 350MA and other local groups. Volunteers from all over the area came out, and they included several organizers from Occupy Boston. It is important to mention that though the vigil was nominally called off this Monday in the wake of Sandy, it continued none the less.

Two of the volunteers insisted on staying and one, Sage Radachowsky, insisted on staying through the entire night. He was sheltered only by a self made “occupod” tied to a flag pole. (The occupod is a carbon neutral, mobile shelter attached to a bike, designed by Radachowsky and Brian Brown). Another Occupy organizer offered to stay out with him protected by just a rain coat, but was discouraged by Radachowsky from sitting out in the storm without any shelter at all. On one side of the occupod a giant sign read “Denial is Not an Energy Policy”, on the other side was a sign that read, “What’s the use of a fine house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on”.

Vigil to End Climate Silence, as storm approached on Monday Oct. 29th 2012

“I read Thoreau and Peter Gelderloos, and listened to the radio through the night.  Finally, around 9pm, the storm broke and all became silent. There was a quiet peace for half an hour, before all the whirring blowers and fans of the city came back on. I walked to the wharf and looked at the sea” explained Radachowsky.

“I stayed out because I wanted our statement to be fierce, and to make a stand that would be noticed by many people. I didn’t want to throw in the towel just because a hurricane was on the way. The worst that would have happened, most likely, is that the trike shelter would have gotten smashed to bits and my camera and phone gotten wet.  I would have ducked for cover, if that had happened. As it went, I spent many tense hours wondering when the bug gust would come and blow it apart, but the vehicle was resilient, and it bent instead of breaking! Like a birch tree, the walls bent over sideways and then sprung right back up. This made me happy, because I love the quality of resilience, and I think that our energy systems need to have that quality, so to find it in something i built made me happy.”

Despite the battering of the storm, the vigil persisted and was able to meet its target goal, continuing nonstop in Boston’s Government Center from Tuesday Oct. 23 to Tuesday Oct. 30th.

While national leaders continue to refrain from discussing a truly comprehensive energy policy, one that takes our safety into account, ordinary citizens are entering the public discussion and demanding that we end our support of fossil fuels and reduce our emissions now. These are people who are willing to risk their own comfort and safety to protect others. That too is a force to be reckoned with.

~ Nuevaspora

Update: Vigil to end Today at Noon

This just in from Vanessa of Better Future Project and 350MA, re Hurricane Sandy and the Vigil:

Hello all,

After careful consideration, we have decided that the best course of action at this point is to end the Vigil for Climate Silence at noon today, Monday. This storm is predicted to cause dangerous winds, disruptive flooding and power outages and the public transit system may not remain open through the storm. We feel that safety of participants and making sure people don’t get stranded downtown without a way to get home is more important than sticking it out.

Thanks to the people who came out this morning and those who planned to come in later. Thanks to the folks who made it through last night’s night shift. See this great story about the Vigil from WBUR!

We should all feel proud of what we have accomplished in the last week and move forward with resolve and energized for our next effort.   Thank you to all who participated.

We have a ton of video footage and photos that we will be posting in the coming day. Please send any stories, photos and videos to photos@350ma.org.

This storm is further evidence of what we are facing as a result of climate change and why we need to make sure it is part of the public debate. Please take this opportunity to communicate this in the coming days.   Onward!

Vanessa

Fact Check: Time to End Climate Silence

The Vigil to End Climate Silence kicked off this evening in Boston’s Government Center. People from all walks of life will be calling for an end to the political silence over climate change. This election year, it was put on the back burner while politicians focused on more pressing matters of the economy and foreign policy. This seems reasonable, so long as one ignores three, apparently inconvenient, things:

1) There is general scientific consensus that the climate is changing right now, that it is affecting us right now, and it will be much easier to deal with now than later.

“However, even with an 80 per cent emissions cut, damages will be large: any impact that occurs below a temperature rise of 1 °C (Figs. 1 and 2) is likely to be unavoidable, even under the most stringent mitigative action. Residual damage will be great unless we invest in adaptation now. Much of the damage could be avoided by adaptation, but again, this would require a much larger effort than is currently planned.”

M Parry, J Palutikof, C Hanson, J Lowe

Nature Reports Climate Change 2008

http://www.nature.com/climate/2008/0806/full/climate.2008.50.html

“ …we can state, with a high degree of confidence, that extreme anomalies such as those in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010 were a consequence of global warming because their likelihood in the absence of global warming was exceedingly small.”

– J Hansen, M Sato, R Ruedy

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 2012

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/07/30/1205276109.abstract

“The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has reaffirmed the position of its Board of Directors and the leaders of 18 respected organizations, who concluded based on multiple lines of scientific evidence that global climate change caused by human activities is now underway, and it is a growing threat to society.”

–  American Association For the Advancement of Science 2009

http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2009/1204climate_statement.shtml

2) A neat separation between climate change issues and economic issues is vanishing. [Check out the sources above]

3) The partition between climate change issues and foreign policy issues is predicted to crumble.

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/10/19/1047081/hillary-clinton-on-energy-and-foreign-policy-we-need-to-address-the-very-real-threat-of-climate-change/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/renee-parsons/climate-change-national-security_b_1929398.html

http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=116192

Gus Speth (who’s many hats have included Vermont Law School Professor of Law, Chairman of the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality, and Keystone XL protester/arrestee) gave a rousing speech, followed by another fantastic one by Craig Altemose of Better Future Project to a small but dedicated crowd of 40 or so people. The vigil was organized by 350MA,  Students for a Just and Stable Future and several other local organizations. The gathering included organizers from Occupy Boston and Veterans for Peace. There are stalwart folks out there as I write this tonight, keeping vigil and stubbornly working to break the silence. They will be there throughout the week and I am sure they would love company.

Link: 350ma.org/vigil 

Tweet: #climatesilence

Benny Benassi, “Eco-Magnation” & Climate Reality

The three videos below, though seemingly unrelated, bear a bizarre connection to each other. Stranger still, our fate may depend upon our ability to understand this. They are presented here in the order of most to least viewed.

The first video may not be safe for work, but bears such a close resemblance to the next that it must be considered as a possible source of artistic, or at least marketing, inspiration. Take note of the shot of the woman with the drill about one minute in.

The second video is a GE add for clean coal set to 16 tons, and tells us that, “harnessing the power of coal is looking more beautiful everyday”. In contrast to Benny Benassi they use both shirtless male and female models to do this. (Readers interested in cultural studies or cinematography should take note of the parallel between the shots 20, 25 and 33 seconds in, and Benassi’s drilling woman.)

Without explicitly using the words “clean coal” they announce their achievement as “another product of pure eco-magination”. Since burning the “250 year” supply of coal will necessarily release huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the air, I’m apt to agree.

This last video takes us out of the fantasy realm of Benassi and the imaginary realm of GE’s, to one much less made-up. It is physicist and climate expert Dr. Joseph Romm trying to inject some statements based on research into the house of representatives. The heat we have been under all summer is slated to soon become mild in comparison to future heat waves. More specifically, it has become clear that if we do not change the way we use energy now, we will rapidly lock ourselves into a future of record breaking wildfires, and droughts described as “multiple, mulit-decade Dust Bowls”.

Whether congress is ready to contend with this reality, given its mortal significance, or whether it will continue to operating under the fantasy that there is still time to safely increase concentrations of greenhouse gasses, remains unclear. However, this is; until Dr. Romm’s message reaches more people than Benassi’s, there will be little pressure on congress to do so, and the stakes are high.

For the full transcript of Dr. Romm’s statement, click here.

~ Nevaspora