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

Climate Silence…

I was just down town to thank the folks at the Vigil to End Climate Silence, as they wrapped things up in anticipation of Hurricane Sandy. A couple blocks away from Government Center, the water was nearly level with the doc. With a surge and high waves anticipated, the cars parked a few feet away might be in for a doozy of a flood. For now, the vigil will continue unofficially. Sage and Abe are still down at Government Center with an Occupod.  (It looks like a covered wagon for a bike.) On one side there is a banner that reads “Denial is Not an Energy Policy” and on the other a quote from Henry David Thoreau, “What’s the use of a fine house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on”. Let’s wish them and everyone along the east coast well.

So, what are people talking about when they say “climate silence”, and why are they so worked up? Besides, hasn’t it always been this way?

First, let’s address why this is an issue. The climate is changing. Take oh so topical Sandy, for example. This is a very unusual storm but does that really have anything to do with climate? The long answer gets a little harry (but if you have the time please check out the links below). The short of it seems to be that higher ocean temperatures add energy to hurricanes and the documented increase in sea levels makes the associated flooding worse. Both are expected to increase with climate change. To put it more eloquently consider this quote from Dr. Kevin Trenberth at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research:

“The answer to the oft-asked question of whether an event is caused by climate change is that it is the wrong question. All weather events are affected by climate change because the environment in which they occur is warmer and moister than it used to be….”

Today, it is flying all over the internet. However that discussion is not happening at the national level. At the national level things are getting quieter and this is rather curious. That is because, to answer that second question, it really hasn’t always been this way.

Its no less curious because there is now general agreement in the scientific community that this is happening, that it’s the result of our own carbon emissions, and it is a significant threat to us.

~ nuevaspora

Vigil in the news:

Metro Desk

WUBR

To read more about the political silence read:

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/10/22/1057251/will-this-be-the-first-time-the-debates-are-silent-on-climate-since-1984/

To find our more about climate change and Sandy, check out:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/29/hurricane-sandy-climate-change_n_2038859.html

http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2012/10/hurricane-sandy-climate-science

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/wp/2012/10/29/yes-hurricane-sandy-is-a-good-reason-to-worry-about-climate-change/

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/10/28/1101241/cnn-bans-term-frankenstorm-but-its-a-good-metaphor-for-warming-driven-monster-largest-hurricane-in-atlantic-history/

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

Update on Vigil & Hurricane Sandy

We just got this update on the Vigil to End Climate Silence from Marla. Please let people know that they are out there in the rain, working to break the #ClimateSilence.

Message:

Vigil is on. Playing it by ear. We will update with any changes at 350ma.org/vigil on the 350 Massachusetts facebook page and the vigil event page and via twitter @350Mass and @marlamarcum and @BetterFuturePro.

We have use of Old West Church (where we used to gather for CASEJ meetings at 131 Cambridge Street, Boston, just down the street). People can bring a change of clothes and leave them in the church if they like so they can change into dry clothes after their shifts.

Please be in touch with me, Marla Marcum, if you have questions: marla.marcum@gmail.com

If you cannot join us, please consider committing to be a virtual vigiler by spreading the word that we are out there on social media, calling the Globe News Desk, calling amd emailing other news outlets’ tip lines.

This part of the vigil will be worth the discomfort if we can really show the world that climate silence is an urgent problem that deserves our attention and our voices… Perhaps especially durimg a hurricane (but we WILL NOT endanger people or ask anybody to do anything they think is dangerous)
-Marla

An Update on the Vigil to End Climate Silence

Posted by Occupy Boston:

In Boston’s Government Center, several people are gathered it the midst of a week long vigil through which they are seeking to break what has been popularly termed “Climate Silence”. According to several reports, for the first time in 20 years the presidential debates have not had any direct mention of climate change. (3rd parties, as always, not included.) The Massachusetts senatorial candidates have also been hesitant to say much directly about the climate.

The vigil was spear-headed by Better Future Project, Students for a Just and Stable Future, and 350MA. The later is a local chapter of the 350.org movement, working to build grassroots coalitions that will bring the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere down to the safety threshold of 350 parts per million. (This means that out of every 1 million particles in the atmosphere, 350 are CO2). Anything above can cause problematic warming. We are currently at about 392 ppm.

Read More

 

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