UPDATE: Last night, I was on MSNBC’s Countdown on the Pentagon, oil use, national security, and Earth Day — with a plug for my new book, “Straight Up.” Lawrence O’Donnell is filling in for regular host Keith Olbermann. Here’s the video:
Coal baron Don Blankenship’s Massey Energy has prevented miners from attending funerals of the 29 victims of the killer explosion at Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, WV. Brad Johnson has the story in this TP repost.
When “millions of environmental activists gathered on college campuses and in major cities 40 years ago for the first Earth Day, the rallies, teach-ins and organizing helped galvanize action on a historic scale — including passage of the Clean Air and Clean Water acts and creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.” Acid rain pollution, ozone-depleting chemicals, and neurological toxins are down because of these strong rules, as the chemical, auto and coal industries now like to trumpet. But the buildup of greenhouse gas pollution, which some climate physicists were worrying about forty years ago, has become a global existential crisis that has mobilized the world’s scientific community.
Center of American Progress Senior Fellow Joseph Romm, PhD, has just published a stiff drink of a book based on his work as the voice of the Climate Progress blog. In Straight Up: America’s Fiercest Climate Blogger Takes on the Status Quo Media, Politicians, and Clean Energy Solutions, Romm distills his best work from the blog and honestly describes the catastrophic path humanity is on — and the clean energy solutions that offer hope for survival.
Here are just a few insights from this wide-ranging book, which clearly separates political and media delusions from physical reality:
— “If those who are counseling inaction and delay succeed, billions of humans will suffer unimaginable misery and chaos, while most other species will simply go extinct.”
“If the U.S. media refuse to make the connection between record-breaking wildfire, drought, and heat waves and human-caused global warming, why would anyone be surprised if the U.S. public doesn’t put it as a higher priority or make the connection itself?”
“The two key questions are, first, will we voluntarily give up fossil fuels in the next couple of decades, rather than being forced to do so helter-skelter after it is too late to stop the catastrophe? Second, when we do give them up, will the United States be a global leader in creating jobs and exports in clean technologies, or will we be importing them from Europe, Japan, and the likely clean energy leader in our absence, China?”
“If every day is Earth Day, then April 22 definitely needs a new name. . . . So let’s call it Triage Day. And if worse comes to worst — yes, if worse comes to worst — at least future generations won’t have to change the name again.”
What makes Straight Up work is what has made Romm such an effective blogger — these pithy quotes are backed up with sweeping policy knowledge and a mastery of the facts, from climate science to clean energy. Although I would have preferred a more deeply edited work that took the collected blog posts and refined their energy and intelligence, Straight Up is a unique resource. If you know anyone who’s ever wondered what “blogs” are all about or is confused why there are people who think global warming is such a big deal, it’s a safe bet this book will help set them straight.
A photo montage and notes of hope and despair
It was spring, 1970. Apollo 13 had just barely made it back safely. We were about to invade Cambodia. The Beatles had just disbanded. Men wore ties so wide you could use them for napkins, mini-skirt lengths were finally coming down. I was 11, a 6th grader, tall, lanky, nerdy, awkward, and really worried about our planet — already. Fresh memories of the tumultuous sixties lingered in the air, as did the pollution. It hung over DC like stale cigarette smoke.
Our assignment was to clip relevant news articles, and be ready to talk about the significance of the first Earth Day in class. I recently unearthed my class project in storage and decided to show-and-tell, 40 years later.
Guest blogger Anne Polansky has a blast-from-the-past repost — her version of “The Wonder Years.”
This week marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, when environmental protection is given the national spotlight. This year, the urgency of addressing global warming will be a key concern. The Latino community has a tremendous stake in this issue””not only in avoiding the most devastating impacts of climate change but also in participating fully in the jobs, investment, and innovation that will be required to rebuild our economy on a foundation of clean energy.
This op-ed, by CAP’s Bracken Hendricks, was first published in Spanish here.
We have created a new planet. Not entirely new. It looks more or less like the one we were born into; the same physical laws operate it. But the changes that have already happened are large enough that if you were visiting our planet in a spaceship, this place would look really different from the outside than it did just decades ago — call it “Eaarth.”
I wrote the preface to my new book EAARTH on a gorgeous spring afternoon in 2009, perched on the bank of a brook high along the spine of the Green Mountains, a mile or so from my home in the Vermont mountain town of Ripton. The creek burbles along, the picture of a placid mountain stream, but a few feet away there’s a scene of real violence a deep gash through the woods where a flood in the summer of 2008 ripped away many cubic feet of tree and rock and soil and drove it downstream through the center of the village. Before the afternoon was out, the only paved road into town had been demolished by the rushing water, a string of bridges lay in ruins, and the governor was trying to reach the area by helicopter.
Twenty-one years ago, in 1989, I wrote the first book for a general audience about global warming, which in those days we called the “greenhouse effect.” That book, The End of Nature, was mainly a philosophical argument. It was too early to see the practical effects of climate change but not too early to feel them; in the most widely excerpted passage of the book, I described walking down a different river, near my then-home sixty miles away, in New York’s Adirondack Mountains. Merely knowing that we’d begun to alter the climate meant that the water flowing in that creek had a different, lesser meaning. “Instead of a world where rain had an independent and mysterious existence, the rain had become a subset of human activity,” I wrote. “The rain bore a brand; it was a steer, not a deer.”
Now, that sadness has turned into a sharper-edged fear. Walking along this river today, you don’t need to imagine a damned thing — the evidence of destruction is all too obvious. Much more quickly than we would have guessed in the late 1980s, global warming has dramatically altered, among many other things, hydrological cycles. One of the key facts of the twenty-first century turns out to be that warm air holds more water vapor than cold: in arid areas this means increased evaporation and hence drought. And once that water is in the atmosphere, it will come down, which in moist areas like Vermont means increased deluge and flood. Read more
Energy and Environmental News for April 22: Charging electric cars in a low-carbon way; Solar power to the people; New energy powers up lobbying
Electromobility makes sense only if car batteries are charged using electricity from renewable energy sources. But the supply of green electricity is not always adequate. An intelligent charging station can help, by adapting the recharging times to suit energy supply and network capacity. Germany aims to have one million electric vehicles — powered by energy from renewable sources -on the road by 2020. And, within ten years, the German environment ministry expects “green electricity” to make up 30 percent of all power consumed.
Kevin Grandia is broadcasting a bunch of Earth Day interviews on ClimateTV starting at noon EDT. You can get the background on this at Desmogblog. I will be on live at 1:30 if my Skype connection works — never done an interview this way before. Here are all of the guests you can see:
Our guest blogger is Van Jones, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress focusing on green-collar jobs.
Forty years after the first Earth Day, we’re now embarking on Earth Day 2.0, with a different kind of environmentalism. Sleeves rolled up, hard hat, lunch bucket — that’s going to become the image of the environmentalist rather than just our beloved tree huggers.
We’re going to see a tug of war now between the interests that want to keep things in the old way and people that want to do things in a new way. Why is it important for ordinary voices to be heard? Because, frankly, if we had a clean energy economy, we would have more work, more wealth, and better health for regular people. That’s what’s not getting through. There are way more jobs putting up solar panels, building smart batteries, making wind turbines, putting them up, than we will ever have again in America in the coal lines. Period.
We need to be moving toward a technology-based job agenda rather than continuing to pull down on our natural resources that we are now beginning to see dwindle here in America. You’ll have more wealth. There are way more entrepreneurial opportunities for new businesses and new products and new services in the clean energy space. Not many people are going to go out and start an oil company tomorrow. But people can go start a solar company tomorrow.
So Earth Day 2.0 now just means straight-up common sense. There’s more wealth to be had for ordinary people in a new economy. And also from a health point of view, the green agenda is about cleaner air, cleaner water, healthier food. And so the stuff that ordinary people are dealing with—the questions around work, wealth, and health—we have much better answers, those of us who are champions for the green economy, than the people who are the champions of the dirty energy economy.
Listen to the podcast with Van Jones.
Interview with Van Jones on ‘Earth Day 2.0′
“It’s going to be a different kind of environmentalism. Sleeves rolled up, hard hat, lunch bucket, that’s going to become the image of the environmentalist rather than just our beloved tree huggers.”
A lot has changed in the past 40 years, and so we asked CAP Senior Fellow Van Jones what he thinks about Earth Day this year and what the modern day environmentalist looks like. His short answer is above. Here’s more:
The dangers of the fossil fuel industry have sadly come into focus again, after an “explosion and fire on an offshore drilling platform” off the coast of Louisiana left “least 12 people missing and seven critically injured.” Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson has the story in this repost.