Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Credit to Krisy Gashler in the Ithaca Journal (also see Cornell Daily Sun):

ITHACA — Common Council voted Wednesday to support a federal carbon tax, to build a new dock at Stewart Park, to revise the city’s comprehensive plan and to exempt a proposed Lakeview Mental Health residence from property taxes for 16 years. Council passed a resolution urging state and federal officials to pursue a federal carbon tax rather than emissions trading to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The resolution passed 9-0, with Alderwoman Nancy Schuler, D-4th, abstaining.Schuler said some clauses of the resolution were “really just too emphatic because we really don’t know.”

“I certainly support the concept but I had trouble with the 25 ‘whereases’ as a statement,” she said.

Sylvester Johnson, who is a member of the Climate Change Action Group of Central New York and largely wrote the resolution passed by Council, urged individuals who favor a carbon tax to visit his Web site: federalcarbontax.org.



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Global Warming After Gore
By Teryn Norris
Published: Alternet.org, Nov 10th

Al Gore’s Nobel Prize was a momentous event we should all applaud. Now it is time to move on and get smart about the climate movement’s next steps. First, we should deal with some of our own inconvenient truths: global warming continues to rank extremely low among voter priorities, and Congress is going nowhere fast. The question we should ask ourselves is, how can the climate movement retool its politics for the post-Gore era?

It is high time for global warming activists to leave behind their focus on the “planetary crisis” and the regulatory-centered agenda, and embrace an energetic and inspiring vision that captures people’s minds, hearts and votes.

Despite last year’s “tipping point” in public attitudes toward climate change, Pew polls find that it still ranks dead last among voter concerns. It is of little surprise, then, that the Washington Post ran a front-page article on recently titled “Climate Is a Risky Issue for Democrats.” Nor is it surprising that the best provisions of today’s congressional energy bill would still allow U.S. carbon dioxide emissions to grow 22 percent by 2030, effectively making the recommendations of the world’s leading scientists unattainable.

One of the most hopeful signs is young activists, who are already making the breakthroughs necessary to build an expansive climate movement. The Campus Climate Challenge has rapidly grown to include over 500 colleges and achieved hundreds of innovative clean energy policies across the country. Power Shift 2007, the first-ever national youth summit on global warming, drew 6,000 students to Washington, D.C., last weekend and featured guests ranging from Nancy Pelosi to Van Jones. Indeed, the youth movement is quickly becoming the largest and most influential student movement in nearly a half century.

How can young activists best capture the moment? Thomas Friedman offered some ideas in his recent op-ed, “Generation Q.” He said that today’s young adults are “too quiet, too online, for [their] own good, and for the country’s own good.” We’ve got to wake up, he said, and reform our tactics: “Activism can only be uploaded, the old-fashioned way — by young voters speaking truth to power, face to face, in big numbers, on campuses or the Washington Mall.”

But Friedman is mistaken. It is easy to get nostalgic for the ’60s, but the direction of today’s youth movement must be profoundly different from that of the baby-boomer era. Vietnam was about stopping a war. Civil rights were about equalizing freedoms. The energy and climate movement, in contrast, is about creating an entirely new clean energy economy — a fundamentally different undertaking that requires us to transcend the models of the past.

The “old-fashioned” tactics of protest, demand and complaint just aren’t enough. Global warming is one of the most complex challenges the world has ever faced, vastly different from those of the 1960s. It calls upon us to innovate, politically and economically, at an unprecedented scale. Our politics must be retooled, not only to achieve immediate policy changes but to create new and lasting political majorities. And instead of constraining our economy, we need to unleash it, driving our engineers, scientists and manufacturers to hone their skills and knowledge, and put these forces to work toward building the next energy economy.

A powerful climate movement — one capable of capturing the public imagination, defining new political identities and fully unleashing our economy — should put forth an even stronger vision of American greatness than the neoconservatives once offered. It must tap the optimism and can-do spirit embedded in our nation’s history that has driven us to overcome the daunting crises of the past. “A new story of American Power begins by acknowledging what our country is great at: imagining, experimenting and inventing the future,” argue Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, authors of Break Through. “First we dream — and then we invent.”

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The Dynamic Post-Presidental Duo

Though this article focuses on the different campaigns of players on a much larger American scale, the duality in their tactics is something we could all learn from. What kind of approach, or rather, what type of collaboration should we expect of our social activists in Ithaca, and how can we more aptly combine the need to push communities and economies with the larger issue of reforming legislature? This is an excerpt taken from The American Prospect online newsource; full text can be found here.

In their careers since leaving the White House, Bill Clinton and Al Gore have chosen opposite paths to brining about social change. Who’s been more successful?

The problem is that criticism of Clinton’s initiative, or even rigorous evaluation, feels churlish. After all, I’ve never convinced Richard Branson to donate $3 billion for renewable energy research. Nobody has ever come to my living room and announced a sustainable housing community in New Orleans. And yet, and yet, and yet, something feels off about the Clinton Global Initiative. The goings-on are virtuous, but the effort occasionally feels misdirected; the sheer amount of good being done can occasionally obscure the fact that what’s necessary is still stalled in Congress, and stalled in part because honored participants at the conference aren’t fighting for it in that arena.

This was most clearly illustrated during Wednesday’s opening plenary, when Clinton chaired a panel featuring Al Gore. In their post-presidential careers, Gore and Clinton have pioneered almost precisely opposite methods of affecting social change. Clinton has made remarkable strides activating and orienting the private sector toward good works. Gore, who has emerged as a cross between an atmospheric scientist and a folk hero, has sought to lead a post-millennial social movement capable of exerting the intense pressure required to move the government toward collective, even coercive, action to stop climate change.


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Adopted from the Cornell Daily Sun, by myself:

As if it isn’t clear that global warming is being fueled by our use of fossil fuels, the Bush administration is coming up with new rules that will allow coal companies to expand their mountaintop removal activities. Despite major support for a clean energy economy from the public and many in the private sector, the Bush administration has decided to once again ignore the massive public outcry in the hopes of making a few wealthier.

Coal is the main source of global warming pollution by far. The cheapest way of extracting coal, called strip mining or mountaintop removal, has already flattened more than 400 mountains, destroyed dozens of communities, filled up thousands of miles of rivers and streams with toxic waste and eliminated vast areas of forests in the U.S.

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From It’s Getting Hot In Here and Watthead:


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