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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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Climate Deniers: I Do Not Agree

Every now and then, I notice climate deniers using my book, Green, Inc., to justify their views that climate change is “a hoax.”

Just because I question the lavish modus operandi of some of the world’s largest conservation groups and call them out for helping polluting corporations greenwash their image that hardly makes me a member of the deniers’ club. Finding passages from my book quoted on Internet sites devoted to attacking Al Gore and deriding efforts to address climate change is more than a little dismaying.

As a writer, of course, it’s always nice to known people are reading your book. But these bloggers willfully misrepresent my findings. Far from suggesting we don’t have environmental problems, my conclusion, among other things, is that we need our environmental groups today more than ever. If groups such as The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund and Conservation International continue acting like enablers to the world’s largest polluters – industries such as oil & gas, mining and agribusiness – they risk losing all credibility.

It’s particularly peeving to be used by a bunch of climate deniers at a time when environmentalists are losing the PR battle over global warming. A new Harris Interactive poll, reports that Americans increasingly have doubts about global warming, despite mounting evidence – not only that climate change exists – but that our chances are slipping away to head off the worst of it. According to Harris, only 51 percent of Americans agree climate change is real today, compared to 71 percent in 2007, and 75 percent in 2001.

Why do you think people are growing skeptical about climate change?  Somehow, I don’t think it’s the Al Gore-hating sites that have the biggest impact on public views.

CarbonfreeDC Meetup Tonight at the Corcoran


CarbonfreeDC holds a social hour and tour of the photo exhibition “Oil” at the Corcoran Gallery of Art tonight.

Today’s District Green: Hungry Cougars, Low-Gas Locomotives + the Power of Greenwashing

The Washington Post has a story on low emission trains that could seriously reduce pollution around train yards and the risk of cancer, heart and respiratory diseases among those living nearby.
Urban Places and Spaces seems only half-serious when suggesting we import cougars to take care of the region’s overpopulation of deer.
Are “green” energy companies joshing us? After hearing from so many wind power brokers at last weekend’s Energy Expo, his New York Times story is distressing. It asks: When electric utility customers pay extra for “green power certificates,” are they really getting green power?
Borderstan has a wrap up on last week’s “emergency” meeting at the 17th St. dog park.
WaPo also explores how electric car makers plan to address “range anxiety” by rolling out recharging stations.
Nanotechnology has enjoyed years of good press but it looks like a darker side is starting to emerge. E Magazine did an entire issue on human health concerns. Today, Environmental Health News publishes a report about new research showing that nanoparticles can kill and mutate fish embryos.
Tim DeChristopher, a 27-year-old University of Utah student who halted a Bush administration auction of oil and gas leases on federal land last year,  is in a tough legal position. Yesterday, a federal judge ruled that he cannot argue before a jury that he acted out of a necessity to protect the environment.
Greater Greater Washington has a roundup including a few bike and pedestrian news nuggets.
Susie Cambria urges everyone to tune into the DC Council hearings today and kindly provides a link to the webcast.
Finally, there’s a new development in the continuing saga of international climate talks: President Obama, in Beijing on an official visit, and Chinese President Hu Jintao both pledged Tuesday to work together to solve climate change, among other things. Should we dare to hope? Tune in tomorrow for the next installment of as the climate talks turn…