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Democracy Now Show Today on Big Greens Standing in the Way of Climate Progress

The buzz created by Johann Hari’s hard-hitting article, The Wrong Kind of Green,  in The Nation magazine is finally generating some much needed attention for the outrageous behavior of some of our leading environmental groups. This morning, Amy Goodman of Democracy now interviewed Johann and me about Big Green groups such as Conservation International, the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense, and The Nature Conservancy – that are endorsing the climate policies sponsored by their corporate donors and allies in Washington. There is just no getting around the fact that the proposals backed by these groups will do little to head off runaway climate change. As Hari pointed out this morning, some of these policies will actually encourage more logging in tropical rainforests, despite ample evidence that we need those trees standing to sop up climate changing greenhouse gases.

Hari was very effective exposing these false solutions but left things on an optimistic note by mentioning the creative nonviolence campaigns climate activists have unfurled in the UK. I wish there had been more time so that I could have mentioned that the real grassroots of US enviornmentalism – not the big national groups that have been coopted by Washington’s deal making mentality and corporate donations – are also experiencing an encouraging growth spirt.

In doing some research for a magazine article and possibly a new book, I’ve been talking to activists all over the country in the last few weeks.  Julia “Judy” Bonds, who has been fighting mountaintop removal coal mining in her Appalachian community for a dozen years, says “you can’t put the genie back in the bottle.” In the last five years, she says a movement has begun to take shape and it’s just a matter of time before it sparks change. She likened the tense standoff between coal miners and mountaintop removal foes like herself to the bloody civil rights struggle started in Selma, Alabama in 1963 that  was widely credited with helping pass the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Author Bill McKibbon is calling for people to take to the streets and join the 350.org civil disobedience campaign he launched. Tim DeChristopher, the guy who threw a wrench in the Dec. 2008 Bureau of Land Management auction of oil and gas leases on public lands, says we have to throw ourselves into the machine that’s threatening our existence.  McKibbon, DeChristopher, Julia “Butterfly” Hill, Mike Rosselle and many other activists have set up small radical groups that are all advocating that people – the average citizens like you and me – take to the streets to demand that President Obama and other lawmakers address global warming.

Considering how little we protest today, it’s hard to image the country will rise up and demand environmental sustainability. But they are doing it in the United Kingdom, so why not here? And if we don’t, who will? Bonds says her activism has shown her that politicians don’t lead, they merely follow the will of the people. It’s time for the people to take their fate into their own hands, she says.

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Greenlines – Climate Diplomacy is Dead, Go Rent a Xmas Tree!

Greetings, this post-blizzard, pre-holiday Monday! It almost feels like a Sunday since so many offices are closed and the roads are still snow clogged.  Let’s start things off with an informal readers’ poll: How many of you have had your street plowed by city crews? Here in Takoma DC, my little block has seen no plowing action but a few neighbors appear to have driven to work this morning anyway.  Encouraging news, for sure.

There is not a lot of DC sustainability news this morning though I did happen upon the website for Weatherize DC, which had a big meeting in Chevy Chase to talk about replacement windows and other “weatherization” options last week.

Beyond the Beltway, the fight to stop mountaintop removal coal mining is getting more volatile. The Associated Press reports: “Fear of violence grows in mountaintop mining fight.” Meanwhile, we’re coming up on a year since the huge coal ash spill at a Tenn. coal-burning power plant created huge damages and made headlines around the world. But ” the battle over potential new rules to protect coalfield communities and the environment from the dangers of toxic coal ash is just getting started,” according to the Charleston (WV) Gazette.

Another story worth checking out is the New York Times coverage about toxins in the nation’s water supply. Here’s a link to the Times coverage. The Washington City Paper also has a post on the story.

BP‘s green luster is finally starting too look gangrenous. The British petroleum company is often hailed for the most successful green advertising greenwashing campaign in history. But the treehugger rhetoric apparently didn’t wash with a federal jury that awarded more than $100 million to workers exposed to toxic fumes at its troubled BP Texas City, Texas refinery that was named by the EPA as the country’s most polluting plant a few years ago. BP officials were quoted saying they were “shocked and outraged” by the verdict but it’s hard to understand why when BP has already paid many millions of dollars in fines and other penalties for failing to meet federal environmental and other laws at the Texas City plant, on Alaska’s North Slope and elsewhere.
It’s official: Copenhagen Summit has been roundly hailed as big-time failure! Check out these cheery headlines:

“A GRUDGING ACCORD IN CLIMATE TALKS”

“CLIMATE SUMMIT HOPES LESS IS MORE”

“AN AIR OF FRUSTRATION FOR EUROPE AT CLIMATE TALKS”

On a lighter note, do you think this rent-a-christmas-tree concept will ever catch on in the District? One can only hope!