The moral failure of climate incrementalism

David Roberts responds to Andy Revkin’s piece in the New York Times calling the Keystone fight “counterproductive”. I think it’s one of the most important pieces of writing on the climate movement so far this year:

If you want to argue that activists shouldn’t focus on Keystone, you can’t just establish that rallying around and/or blocking Keystone won’t reduce carbon emissions much. So what? Why not try it? Something’s better than nothing, after all. Even if it’s a total waste of time, that may be unproductive, but it’s not counterproductive.

There are benefits to an activated, impassioned constituency and the social and political machinery that brings them together in large numbers. It’s what the right has: an intense core, fighting on behalf of the status quo (using the status quo’s money), that has captured one of America’s two political parties. It’s what the fight against climate change does not yet have: an intense core, fighting on behalf of social and political change, with at least one political party that is scared to cross it…

At some point, dithering over incrementalism in the imaginary center will come to be seen as a failure of moral clarity and judgment. I wouldn’t want to be the last person dug into that trench.

The situation calls for large-scale, rapid, systemic change. That kind of change doesn’t happen when wonks and bloggers agree on the perfect solution and achieve multiple PDFs. It happens when people put their asses on the line and fight. It happens when power shifts.


Bill Mckibben on the ethics of climate change action

Bill Mckibben on why climate change should be your issue too:

Try to imagine this Earth with 20 or 30 or 40 percent fewer calories on it and then see whether you think any of the other things that we worry about—development, war and peace, hunger, women’s issue, all the things we are about and hope about devoutly on this planet—whether any of them will have a chance of getting our attention. I think not…

… at root the most central ethical duty we owe each other, is simply to tell the truth about where we are. I think if everybody understands in the end that we are facing an enormous serious problem that will be hard to deal with, and we just all decide, “It’s too hard, we’re not going to deal with it, forget it”—well, that will be sad, but at least we will have made a decision, a joint, informed, ethical at some level decision that it’s just too hard for us and we can’t go on.

My guess is, if we can get people to understand, then they’ll make the much deeper, more difficult, but more human decision to do all that we can about it.

Will “green jobs” destroy the growth economy?

In a piece arguing for a guaranteed universal income C.A. L’Hirondelle highlights the problem with “green jobs” and economic growth:

Green Jobs are supposed to save both the economy and the environment. However, the number of green jobs can never match the number of jobs created by an economic system based on waste and destruction. There are millions of jobs in the oil and auto sector, the military industrial complex, the processed food industry, and industries that rely on mass consumption of cheap consumer goods. And then there are all the jobs that exist to try to fix the harm created by all the ‘wrecking’ jobs.

An oil spill in the Burrard Inlet would be a surefire Job Creator.

L’Hirondelle points to the other side of the green jobs conundrum:

Conversely, if people follow voluntary simplicity, grow veggie gardens, eat healthy home cooked meals, walk, bike and use public transit, pack homemade lunches, drink homemade beer and wine, live frugally in modest green homes, and become so imbued with happiness that world peace breaks out… this would cause a seismic loss of jobs world wide.

Healthy, happy, people can never create the same number of jobs as a society of unhappy, TV-watching, junk-food eating, booze-swilling, tobacco-smoking, car-dependent, compulsive-shoppers with epidemic diseases, illness and addictions. The current economy is designed as a perpetual wrecking/fixing machine. Very good for jobs, but bad for everyone and everything else.

My research on the contradictions of Vancouver’s Greenest City Action Plan investigated the challenge of reducing Vancouver’s ecological footprint while also planning to grow and globalize its economy. I plan to summarize this work here ahead.

Overcoming this destructive jobs cycle is a key task for this century.

Vancouver Board of Trade hosts secretly funded talk on environmental campaign funding

Krause at Board of Trade, June 5 2012

Vivian Krause is an unofficial communications operative for the fossil industry and its political affiliates. She has built a reputation as an aggressive and conspiratorial advocate for unfettered and unexamined commercial extraction of fossil fuels in Canada, while making mostly rhetorical accusations about the funding sources for Canada’s environmental movement.

In her “first keynote address” to the Vancouver Board of Trade, she spoke to a group of mostly older white men about her findings from “an extensive review of the funding of environmental campaigns”.

In her blogging and writing, Krause is quick to criticize secrecy from the funders of environmental campaigns. Yet, in what should be an hypocritical embarrassment for her and the Board of Trade, the sponsor of her talk is unlisted. Yes, that’s right: the mysterious sponsor of Krause’s talk on secret sponsorship requested that their identity be concealed from the public.

The Board of Trade declined to comment.

This secret sponsorship is very rare for the Board, which offers many public talks each week, nearly always with listed sponsors. There has only been one other talk this year with an unlisted sponsor.

So, who do we think paid for her talk? Perhaps we need the Canadian Senate to look into whether or not it was paid for by Chinese state-owned oil companies?

Beth Hong at the Vancouver Observer has more on this: “Fair question: who paid Vivian Krause to speak at the Vancouver Board of Trade?”