Local Climate Activist Arrested In Texas KXL Protest

We have just received word that Murtaza Nek, MIT graduate and active participant in 350 Massachusetts and Students for a Just and Stable Future was arrested in a protest against the construction of the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline. Readers may recognize him as the young man who has voiced the importance of climate justice at several Occupy Boston events.

The southern leg of the Keystone XL is presently under construction with the intent to bring tar sands crude from Alberta, Canada to Huston ports. Last year, Dr. James Hansen, prominent climate scientist, head of NASSA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and adjunct professor at Columbia University explained the risk in a New York Times Op Ed:

Canada’s tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now. That level of heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable. Twenty to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk.

The update on Murtaza comes from climate and social justice advocate Dorian Williams, who writes:

Dear fellow proponents of climate justice,

Many of you may know Murtaza Nek as he has been an active participant of 350 Massachusetts and Students for a Just and Stable Future. Recently he took a trip down to Texas to contribute to the Tar Sands Blockade’s fight against the construction of the southern leg of Keystone XL Pipeline.
 
As of 11:50am on January 3rd, Murtaza was arrested in Texas while trying to provide direct support to his friends partaking in a particularly vulnerable tree sit for the Tar Sands Blockade. 
 
You can learn more and see the footage of the arrest here: http://tarsandsblockade.org/15th-action/
 
For those of who have not had a chance to meet Murtaza, he has been an amazingly strong and dedicated ally in this movement. Having accomplished Climate Summer this past year, where he biked from town-to-town across Massachusetts supporting climate action and discussion, Murtaza brought back his organizing and bike power here. Every week, Murtaza would bike from Worcester to Cambridge and back to participate in SJSF and 350MA meetings, helping organize and participate in actions targeting fossil fuels like tar sands and natural gas.
 
Now he needs our commitment and support in return. Please spread the word and consider donating to the legal fund that would enable his release: https://www.wepay.com/donations/tsbdonate.
 
In Peace and Solidarity,
Dorian

Murtaza Nek is one of several protesters who have recently been arrested in protests against Keystone XL’s southern leg. For more information on the tar sands, check out the following links:

Hansen’s TED talk

Photographer Garth Lenz on Alberta Tar Sands: The True Cost Of Oil

~ Nuevaspora

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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

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

 

More $$ for Fossil Fuels?

Last week a local climate organizer lamented that Occupy Boston had little concern for climate change. I told most people associated with the movement were very concerned. “Well then,” he said, “People should be out in the the streets!”

That’s exactly where Occupiers were on August 4th, holding a bake sale for fossil fuel companies with 350 MA. Yes, it was satirical. We were calling attention to the fossil fuel subsidies that already exist. No, it wasn’t covered by mainstream press. It was, however, covered by Steve R. on the Occupy Boston website. Thank you Steve.

A Little Bake Sale for Big Oil

“Can you spare $11 billion for big oil?
Sorry, I didn’t bring my wallet …

On Saturday August 4th, activists from 350ma and Occupy Boston met in Dewey Square, to hold a little fundraiser for big oil. Why a fundraiser? Washington gives big oil, coal, and gas roughly $11 billion in subsidies and tax cuts each year, and there’s talk of trimming some of that back. Cutting these subsidies would be a (nudge-nudge, wink-wink) job killing travesty; so, we went out and canvassed the sidewalks, chatted up people on corners, and panhandled in the street.

But wait … oil is modern day miracle. It’s in everything
I own, right down to my shoelaces.

Don’t get us wrong, we’ve got nothing against people tying their shoes. In fact, we think that tying your shoes is a darn good idea. But we do take issue with petroleum spilling onto our coastline, pollution spreading across out atmosphere, and CO2 warming our planet. Yes, oil is cheap (and heavily subsidized), but it’s also a finite, non-renewable resource. Eventually we will have to find something else to help us get our shoes tied.”

 

Near the Museum of Science, other activists asked people for spare change for the corporations, eliciting more interesting responses:

Later in the day, other protesters protesters preformed a short public performance in Harvard Square, designed to illustrate the true costs of fracking and cheap natural gas. This was specifically in response to the proposed expansion of Spectra Energy’s Algonquin Pipeline. The overall turnout was fantastic with people spread all over the city. However, the question of how to foster deeper dialogue regarding these issues, as well as how to bring them to a larger audience remains. Will we continue to subsidize the wealthiest corporations on the planet at our own expense?

Dear readers, that one is on you.

~ Nuevaspora

[Sorry for the two week gap in posts. Again this is 100% grass roots organizing and volunteering. There is no one to fill in when we are busy. Expect things old and new to come trickling in over the next few days. There have been more actions since then, and maybe some summaries of these will trickle in along with them.]

Pilgrims, Nukes and Refugees

A belated weekly rundown…

10 families in PA barricade themselves to avoid a fracking eviction, reports of 14 people arrested in MA for protesting Pilgrim Nuclear power plant, and it’s just the start of the week.

10 Families in Jersey Shore PA Refuse To Be Displaced for Fracking Operation

In Jersey Shore PA, over 30 families were told that they would have to vacate Riverdale Mobile Home Park to make way for the construction of a water withdrawal site to support hydraulic fracturing. 10 families refused to leave, and are now standing their ground. At least some of these families lack the means to move their homes. Construction was scheduled to start on Friday. What started as a vigil on Thursday night has extended through and past the weekend as people from a myriad of groups and organizations (including OWS) have gone to the park to stand with them. The protest has been peaceful and they have set up barricades preventing vehicle’s from entering. Aqua America, the company that bought the land and initiated the evictions can be reached at: (610) 527-8000.

Riverdale Mobile Home Park, Jersey Shore PA

Fortune has begun to shift at least a little, and the company is scheduled to go into negotiations with residence today.

The water withdrawal its self was permitted in March by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, a water shed management agency. More information can be found on the Save Riverdale blog.

An update on our own Charles River via Michael:

 

 

The New England Regional office of the EPA released its annual report card on the Charles River. EPA water quality data shows that during 2011, the Charles River had an acceptable water quality for boating and swimming. The grade issued this year is a ‘B”. The grade reflects that the river met bacteria-based water quality standards for boating 82% of the time and for swimming 54% of the time. The EPA launched its Charles River Initiative in 1995 when the river received a D for meeting boating standards 29% of the time and 19% for swimming. The EPA has been measuring the cleanup of the Charles River against the objectives set in the Clean Water act of 1972.

The New England Regional Office of the EPA is designated as Region 1 and includes all of New England and the ten tribal nations recognized by the Interior Department Bureau of Indian Affairs. The ten tribes include the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Tribal Council and the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head in Massachusetts, The Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the Mohegan Indian Tribe in Connecticut, The Narragansett in Rhode Island and five tribes in Maine. The tribes in Maine include the Aroostook Band of Micmacs, Houlton Band of Malaseet, Passamaquoddy (Indian Township), Passamaquoddy (Pleasant Point) and the Penobscot.

Source:epa.gov news release 4/21/12

CASEJ:

CASEJ met last night deciding plans for the Summer. This will likely include joining a rally in protest of the re-permitting of the Pilgrim Power Plant on June 7th and another advocating for clean sustainable energy on June 14th.  Details:

Pilgrim Coalition protest at NRC hearing on nuke plants Thursday June 7 at 9:15 a.m. (yes, this Thursday!) at Post Office Square. Bring signs. Why? According to the invite: “While the hearing will be held in Boston, the content pertains to all Mark 1 boiling water reactors in the U.S., which have the same faulty design as the Fukushima reactors.”

On a related note, fourteen people were arrested in Plymouth on May 20th as part of a protest to close the unsafe Pilgrim plant. Some of them will be at the rally. Check out the story in the Boston Occupier.

Lobby Day for Renewables Bill Senate 2214 at State House on Thursday, June 14 (next week).  Meet on State House steps at 11 a.m. next to big banner for Climate Action–Connect the Dots, followed by visits to key legislators with support letter. This is part of an entire week of events with Energy Week Boston. (*Those of us who speak with legislators will be introducing ourselves simply as concerned and active citizens, not as Occupy, Occupy Boston or OB CASEJ.) Whether you want to support it or say that it’s not enough, lets make the clean energy discussion loud!

The full text for Renewables Bill Senate 2214 can be found here.

We will also be training more of our members to tweet, wiki and blog, so watch out!

Young Protester Refusing Eviction From Riverdale Mobile Home Park. Jersey Shore, PA

Sweet Solar Pump!

Talking about environmental problems can get a little gloomy, so here is a link to a lovely design project. It’s a solar charging pump and public seating space designed by Sol Design Lab and SXSW Inc. Sol Design Lab works to “create interactive and inspiring solutions for urban sustainability, public art, and design”. The music in the video is by the band Fool’s Gold (misattributed to their single release Surprise Hotel). I happen to have gone to one of their concerts a few years ago. They were a big group of fun, talented musicians, and it was like watching a traveling party. Nice match for the video…

Some may think that the name “Fool’s Gold” is also a great match for solar and other alternative energies. In fact, there are many people under the impression that these energies simply cost more than they are worth, and that they are ultimately unfeasible at present. I can’t speak to the latter at the moment because, aside from the complication that we subsidized almost all energy in some way (including fossil fuels), it brings up questions of how we distinguish and compare costs, and fundamentally how we judge and determine value. Since that is well beyond the scope of this short post, I’ll just speak to the feasibility. In 2009 Dr. Mark Delucchi, at the Institute of Transportation Studies in UC Davis, and Dr. Mark J Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, published an article in Scientific American outlining how we could rely completely on wind water and sun for our energy by 2030. The brief synopsis of the article explains:

• Supplies of wind and solar energy on accessible land dwarf the energy consumed by people around the globe.

• The authors’ plan calls for 3.8 million large wind turbines, 90,000 solar plants, and numerous geothermal, tidal and rooftop photovoltaic installations worldwide.

• The cost of generating and transmitting power would be less than the projected cost per kilowatt-hour for fossil-fuel and nuclear power.

• Shortages of a few specialty materials, along with lack of political will, loom as the greatest obstacles.

One of the biggest obstacle was a shortage of materials for things like car batteries. However they say that particular issue might be mitigated by recycling the material. This seems to focus on a straight transition to wind, water, and solar energy, without even factoring in the potential for major changes in efficiency and energy use (like increased use of small scale geothermal).

Speaking of materials, researchers are now exploring the use of fools gold, also known as pyrite, as a possible cheap and abundant semiconductor for use in photovoltaics.

Quick heads up: at 7:00 tonight there is an Occupy Boston book swap and potluck on Copley Square Plaza, and at 7:00 tomorrow there will be a meting on the future and direction of Occupy Boston at the Parkman Bandstand in Boston Common. It’s your future and everyone is welcome!

~Nuevaspora