Climate Movement Monday: STOP the Dirty Deal!

Welcome back to Movement Mondays! Today my time-sensitive ask is that you make quick phone calls to your representatives AND/OR send emails regarding Senator Manchin’s side deal portion of the Inflation Reduction Act that would gut environmental regulations (Clean Water Act!) and accelerate the federal permitting process for energy projects. This legislation is a gift to the fossil fuels industry and Manchin’s #1 project priority is the Mountain Valley Pipeline.  [NOTE: more background info and links below.]

Basic message: Vote NO to this side deal that will accelerate the climate crisis and is just a gift to the fossil fuel industry.

CALL
917-791-2257 will give you a brief script then connect you to your Senators (thanks to the People vs. Fossil Fuels Coalition).

202-224-3121 is the Capitol Switchboard where you can ask to be connected to your senators and representative.

You may also, of course, call directly to your representatives’ DC and local offices

EMAIL
If you aren’t comfortable making phone calls, you may use your representatives’ email contact form to send your message.

BACKGROUND INFO:

This action is VERY important and phone calls from constituents carry a lot of weight. PLEASE take the time to urge your representatives: NO to the permitting side deal!

Solidarity! ✊🏽

Climate Movement Monday: in support of farm workers

Today I’m posting to raise awareness about the plight of farm workers who are greatly affected by the climate crisis. They toil in extreme heat in order for us to have food to eat.

             Workers harvest green kale at Ratto Bros. farm west of Modesto, on Friday, July 24, 2020.                                    Photo by Andy Alfaro, Modesto Bee

Here are a few recent updates from agricultural fields in California, via the United Farm Workers’ twitter account.

I lived in Bakersfield for two years and can tell you the San Joaquin Valley is HOT. I struggled living there because of the heat and dusty air, and would not have been able to handle working in the fields. These workers perform back-breaking labor under extreme circumstances (hello, Covid!) and deserve our gratitude, respect, and support.

Right now, there’s legislation waiting for Governor Newsom’s signature. The Agricultural Labor Relations Voting Choice Act (AB 2183) would allow workers to vote for or against a union without interference from their employers.

SUMMARY
This bill amends the Agricultural Labor Relations
Act to facilitate the ability of farmworkers to vote
for or against unionization. The bill expands voting
options for farmworkers by allowing them to
choose if they want to vote at a physical location,
or vote by mailing or dropping off a representation
ballot card to the Agricultural Labor Relations
Board (ALRB) office. Farmworkers would be able to
receive assistance in filling out and returning their
representation ballot card as long as the person
assisting them co-signs it, and it is returned to the
ALRB office in a sealed and signed envelope.

President Biden has come out in support of AB 2183: I strongly support California’s Agricultural Labor Relations Voting Choice Act (AB 2183), which will give California’s agricultural workers greater opportunity to organize and collectively bargain for better wages, benefits, and working conditions. (full statement here)

Some of the workers marched 335 miles last month in blistering heat to gather outside the capitol in Sacramento to urge Newsom to sign the bill. Please call Governor Newsom’s office (916-445-2841) OR email to demand he do right by the people who feed us. Do it for Maria and the others.

Solidarity! ✊🏽

Climate Movement Monday: supporting Jackson, Mississippi

Jackson is the capital city of Mississippi. The population is 82% Black and, for decades, politicians have kicked the “water” can down the road in terms of financial investment to upgrade the crumbling infrastructure. On August 28, heavy rainfall caused the Pearl River to overflow its banks. The water treatment facility failed and 150,000 people are now without water.

No drinking water.
No cooking water.
No bathing water.
No water to flush toilets.
No water to put out fires.

Flooding on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Canton. wjtv.com

This is a classic example of environmental racism. This type of precarious water situation is happening around the country and will continue to happen to frontline communities in the climate crisis. We need an immediate energy transition that is just and equitable!

Right now, we can all pitch in to help the people of Jackson.

CooperationJackson.org: Donate here.
Immigrant Alliance for Justice and Equity: Donate here.
Mississippi Rapid Response Coalition–Water Fund: Donate here.

Thank you in advance for standing in solidarity with the people of Jackson. ✊🏽

Climate Movement Monday: in support of Healthy Gulf

Today is the 17th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the 1-year anniversary of Hurricane Ida. These devastating storms destroyed Gulf communities that are still struggling to rebuild. The storms were climate-induced, but the negligent government response was 100% man-made. [Note: Below is a Twitter thread re Katrina along with an article that includes profiles of people in Louisiana coastal parishes fighting to rebuild after Ida. I highly recommend reading both.]

Photo by Jerry Brown (HUD) aerial view of impact of Hurricane Katrina 9/12/2005

Healthy Gulf is a coalition of five states along the Gulf of Mexico. Their core values include Environmental Health: We believe that supporting the environmental health and ecosystem richness of the Gulf region is necessary to secure quality of life, sense of place, economic vitality, and social justice within all Gulf communities.

Today’s climate action is to send a letter demanding no new oil and gas leases in the Gulf. As always, the template is there for you to send as-is, or personalize. The most important thing is to lend your name and voice to this fight.

Here’s the link to some background information and the petition.

Thank you in advance for standing in solidarity with coastal communities. We can and must protect them from further needless pollution and catastrophe. ✊🏽

READ BELOW for eye-opening & heart-breaking personal accounts of living through Hurricanes Katrina and Ida.

https://southerlymag.org/2022/08/29/they-want-us-gone-black-louisianans-fight-to-rebuild-a-year-after-ida/

Climate Movement Monday: stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline

Welcome to the first “Movement Monday” post in which I’ll provide info on how to take quick and direct action in support of frontline communities. As I posted here, the Inflation Reduction Act includes “poison pills” that adversely affect poor communities of color and Indigenous people. It’s vital that privileged people such as myself lend support and voice to their fights. I hope you’ll join me.

Today’s quick action is on behalf of Appalachian people in West Virginia and Virginia who are fighting the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). The 303-mile natural gas pipeline is billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule.**

The Mountain Valley Pipeline under construction in Virginia. Courtesy of Wild Virginia

In the past several months, two separate federal permits were revoked, but they’re expected to be resubmitted to Biden for approval. This is where we come in.

Here’s a link for contacting the Biden administration. A draft letter is supplied and you can add your name and send that letter as-is. You can also rework the letter to  personalize it. The most important messages to send:

  • Cancel Mountain Valley Pipeline’s federal permits
  • NO to Mountain Valley Pipeline

Thank you in advance for your time and energy on this! Solidarity!

**More info available from the POWHR coalition (Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights)

Climate & the Inflation Reduction Act

In case you hadn’t heard, this past weekend the Senate voted to approve the Inflation Reduction Act which contains climate policy. There are good components to that policy, but there are also horrific pieces. No surprise there since coal-baron Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and his fossil fuel buddies pretty much wrote the policy that has Exxon, Shell, and BP executives jumping for joy.  A “climate” bill that makes oil and gas happy is not a good deal for the planet.

For instance: solar and wind projects are contingent upon expanding oil and gas drilling . . . millions of acres on and offshore.  That’s right, the very thing driving the climate crisis — fossil fuels –will be expanded.

And who will suffer most? The frontline communities. The people already impacted by fossil fuel projects are completely abandoned by this climate policy. It is absolutely vital that all of us who care about people and planet show up for them in their fights.

So. Starting next Monday, I’m going to institute “Movement Mondays” in which I post a climate action we can take in solidarity with communities around the country. This might be making a phone call or contributing to public comments about a proposed project. Whatever these communities need, we must add our voices to theirs. Everyone deserves clean air and clean water.

If you’ve read this far . . . solidarity! I hope to see you in the fight.

P.S. Here’s a Twitter thread that contains many of the concerns from many of the impacted communities around the country.

P.P.S. Here’s a bit from Kate Aronoff  in The New Republic:
Multiple things can be true at the same time. The Inflation Reduction Act—the first piece of climate policy to pass the Senate ever—is a historic achievement and vitally important given that Democrats may not get to govern again for a decade. It also consigns more people to living next to more fossil fuel infrastructure for longer; in many cases, that means consigning more people—predominantly poor people, Black people, and brown people—to disease and death. We don’t fully know what the bill will do. The IRA’s passage doesn’t close the book on U.S. climate policy so much as open it. As ever, the best guides to navigating what comes next will likely be the people who won it in the first place, and who’ll have to live the closest to its consequences.

Sunday Confessional: enthusiasm deficit

It’s been a rough day on the heels of other emotionally difficult days this week. Despite ordering one of these Let This Radicalize You (rather than lead you to despair) shirts a few days ago, I confess to tilting heavily toward despair right now. No need for me to list the multiple crises we’re facing because that’ll just make me more sad/angry and give people reason to quit reading.

Instead, I’ll celebrate the fact that I’m no longer withdrawing into myself and am here with a post. HELLO, OUT THERE!

Here’s one of my favorite recent photos:

June 22, 2022

Okay, that’s it for my burst of energy. Sending good wishes to anyone who’s read this far . . . 💚

Independent reading from Haymarket Books

So-called Independence Day is hitting harder than usual today as there are now fewer rights for the people and more rights for corporatists and authoritarians than a year ago. If you’re feeling overwhelmed/angry/scared/powerless, I highly recommend buying a book from Haymarket Books during their “Summer of Struggle” 40% off sale.

Haymarket Books is an independent, nonprofit organization that publishes books for changing the world, and now through August 15, ALL Haymarket books are 40% off. I’ve learned so much by reading Haymarket books and in addition to educating myself, I always feel less alone in the struggle. Do yourself a favor and buy one book. Read that book and expand your worldview, compassion, and commitment to a better life for all people. And if you feel like sharing, I’d love to know what you’re reading.

Solidarity!

Yes I Do Want to Punch

See this squirrel’s clenched paw?

May 15, 2022

That little fist is a result of me tapping on the window to stop it from eating the peanuts we put out for birds* and, for the longest time, I thought it was the same brazen squirrel making a fist at me in response to my tapping. But then I realized it couldn’t be the same squirrel every single day and that ALL squirrels do that. Their immediate reaction to threat is a fist.

I can relate. Maybe I should enlist some squirrels to join me because, Yes I Do Want to Punch / fascists in the face.

*the squirrel food is on the back fence

What’s the plan

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
~ Mary Oliver

June 22, 2022

I don’t know about you, but the events of the past weeks have cranked up my attention-deficit tendencies as my brains thinks “I need to work on that issue which affects this and this issue, and then there’s this other issue which is also connected to this that and the other issue, but they’re all so so important and need immediate attention, so where to focus?”

And that’s how they want it. They’ve intentionally created chaos and hardship in order to grind us down. A whack-a-mole world in which we’re forced to constantly swing our mallets at the problems, diluting our energies and coating us in a thick layer of despair. (Brace yourselves for an upcoming SCOTUS opinion on the EPA and the end of environmental regulations.)

But, as Mariame Kaba says “Let this radicalize you rather than lead you to despair.” [Note: one of the best books I’ve read, ever, is Kaba’s We Do This ‘Til We Free Us]. And as for my ADD thoughts about where to put my efforts, I found this Twitter thread immensely helpful:

The gist is: keep on doing what you’re doing PLUS be intentional about strengthening ties with other organizations/efforts to create more collaboration. Build on what you’re already doing.

Personally, my current plan is to continue revising my middle grade novel that’s a friendship story set against a backdrop of PIC abolition and restorative justice. Doing that work helps me avoid despair. Creativity has always brought me peace and balance, so add a pinch of radicalism in the content plus weave in some of what I’m continuing to learn, and I’m (currently) feeling solid re my focus in this one wild and precious life.

Please, reach out if you think your efforts/interests might align so that together we can build something bigger and stronger. ☀️

Feathered friends

Today the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued what is basically its final warning to governments (“it’s now or never” regarding greenhouse gas emissions), and my heart is pounding as I type those words. We the people need to rise up and demand radical action. Unfortunately, here in the U.S. our so-called leadership is actually talking about ramping up fossil fuel production. It’s insanity.

And when reality gets to be too much, I turn to nature. Today, it’s birds. Here’s a Limpkin I had the honor of communing with at Kapok Park in Florida:

May 6, 2019

Here’s a petite Bushtit outside my Colorado window:

September 24, 2021

Here’s a Turkey Vulture doing its important clean-up work in Cave Creek Canyon in Arizona:

May 15, 2019

Finally, here’s a Common Grackle singing its song in Nebraska clover:

June 2, 2020

And now I’m going to use the energy I’ve borrowed from those wonderful birds and head out for a run on the trails where I’ll drink up more of this glorious world.

Mood

Pretty sure I have Covid right now (while being the most introverted version of my introverted self during this pandemic).

Pretty sure Wildebeest has Covid (while working for starvation wages in the restaurant industry that prioritizes people’s “rights” to dine inside, maskless, while the poor/desperate workers drop like flies).

Positive that Zebu had Covid a couple weeks ago.

Absolutely, positive we should (at minimum) be receiving monthly checks along with a package of N95 masks and testing kits from our government. Not to mention, Biden should issue a patent waiver on vaccines to help the rest of the world’s population.

Equally positive none of that’s gonna happen. We the people are expendable in this equation.

Image by Robin Higgins from Pixabay

Vote MOO no matter who

I vote for this lovely cow to be in charge. Look at those eyes, her calm demeanor as she chews the dry grass, the stylish-yet relatable hair. Ladies and gentlemen, we have our candidate!

December 7, 2021

Remember, vote MOO no matter who.

Bummer Monday

As the Democrats (who currently reside in the White House and hold majorities in the House and Senate) negotiate against themselves to gut Biden’s Build Back Better plan, I encourage you to read this op-ed from Senator Bernie Sanders, published in a West Virginia newspaper on October 15, 2021. It lays out the specifics of the 10-year $3.5 trillion BBB plan. Specifics that are wildly popular and hugely supported by the people, specifics that many don’t know because the Democrats and corporate media have done a miserable job explaining what this reconciliation bill is all about. This plan contains policies that are desperately needed if we are to survive.

The Democrats, with all their power, have an opportunity to do so much good. And yet, here we are. Forced to watch from the sidelines as they eliminate all the good for the people and planet from the bill. This NEVER happens when it’s time to vote on a military budget. When it comes to the military industrial complex, there’s always enough money and zero debate. That’s when Democrats and Republicans join together for a resounding YES!

The powerful elites are making life-threatening decisions while the planet literally burns. Senator Manchin is a coal baron with a massive conflict of interest when it comes to climate policy, but he gets to dictate the removal of the most important piece of climate legislation which, if enacted, would eat into his profits.

This is why people (such as myself) frequently say “I hate it here.”

Dear Democrats

As Congresspeople return from vacation to their well-paying jobs today, there are actions around the country in support of #SealTheDeal for the full $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. Because I’m unable to join the others on the streets today, I want to say this:

and this:

and this:

and remind Congress of this:

Lastly, in regards to the Parliamentarian spewing nonsense about not being able to fund items in that reconciliation bill:

We see you, Democrats.

The more things change

ONE. As Haiti is devastated by another earthquake, I think back to a blog post from 2010 in  which I wrote:

Haiti has always struggled mightily
to survive on her own terms.
She’s strong, I know.
I just wish the universe would quit testing her.

And here the Haitian people are again, facing more death, destruction, and heartbreak.

TWO. As the Taliban moves closer to regaining control in Afghanistan, I think back to those days of feeling completely enraged/overwhelmed/defeated by how easily Bush/Cheney & Co fear-mongered the U.S. into invading and occupying Afghanistan. I distinctly remember sitting on my patio, drinking a beer, and laughing/crying as I read David Rees’s GET YOUR WAR ON.**

The one good constant in all this is that my patio table remains the same

The clip-art strips were and continue to be profane, hysterical, and spot-on in the framing of how we lost our collective minds after September 11, 2001. (**Lather. Rinse. Repeat. for the invasion/occupation of Iraq, covered in GET YOUR WAR ON II)

THREE. Once again, I’m feeling enraged, overwhelmed, and defeated. There’s so much good we could be doing for one another on a massive scale and yet, people continue to think the military is the answer to every issue, despite all evidence to the contrary.

FOUR. So here I am (again) turning to nature to soothe my soul.

August 14, 2021

#NoClimateNoDeal

It’s fitting that smoke obscured this photo of a coal plant I took as we drove past on Saturday.

Craig Station. August 7, 2021

We’d been camping at Rifle Falls State Park and woke to the valley filled with wildfire smoke. We quickly packed up and left. Turned out, the entire western half of Colorado was (and continues to be) choked with smoke from wildfires in the northwest. There was no escaping it.

I’ve spent much of the past several days closed off in my bedroom with an air purifier. My climate anxiety was already high and then the UN released its climate report yesterday. (Just typing those words sent a surge of anxiety throughout my system.)

I called my Senators and Representative today, all wealthy white men from Colorado which has been experiencing the worst air pollution in the world, to urge them to drop their incrementalism and vote to save humanity. The Democrats stuck us with a bi-partisan infrastructure bill (something the loathsome yet highly disciplined Republicans would never, ever have done) and we desperately need the reconciliation bill that addresses climate and poverty. The Progressive Caucus in the House is saying #NoClimateNoDeal if climate is stripped from the reconciliation bill and I can only hope they, for once, hold firm. However, I’m not naive enough to believe they’ll use their power to do the right thing. Time and again, they go along with the status quo that’s currently killing us.

Still, I think it’s well-worth a couple minutes of everyone’s time to call their representatives to demand they vote for the people and planet. Demand they keep the reconciliation bill intact. The Capitol switchboard (202) 224-3121
#NoClimateNoDeal

Thank you in advance.

Frogs in boiling water

This morning I woke to Unhealthy air quality due to wildfire smoke and so chose to run inside on the treadmill. The good news is the 25-minute run worked its usual endorphin magic and I felt much better afterward. The bad news is that while we’re clearly and obviously experiencing climate collapse, we’re all just going about our daily lives.

By James LeeFormerIP at en.wikipedia 

The young people of the Sunrise Movement, desperate for a chance at a livable future, worked their asses off to help elect Biden who, compared to Tr*mp, at least gave lip service to climate change. But is Biden really better than a climate denier when his administration boosts a tar sands pipeline that will cross indigenous lands? (While also, by the way, further enriching the already incredibly wealthy Susan Rice, who is an aide to Biden.) You either believe we’re in a crisis and use the enormous powers of your position to enact policy to mitigate the worst effects OR you say all the right things while continuing to coddle the fossil fuel industry.

Boiling frogs.

Zippy and I planned to head to the mountains tomorrow for cleaner air and cooler temperatures (which I recognize is an absolute luxury not available to most people), but now we’re torn. Because does it make sense to drive to Crested Butte when that area is also experiencing Unhealthy air quality? Will we even want or be able to hike out to see the wildflowers?

Apologies for being a downer, but I cannot pretend the climate crisis isn’t happening. This frog wants cooler temperatures.

Climate Collapse

This weekend has been deathly hot in the Pacific Northwest. You know, the part of the country known for moderate temperatures and lots of moisture?

Parts of Michigan are flooded right now after receiving 7 inches of rain yesterday. SEVEN INCHES OF RAIN IN ONE DAY!

Detroit. June 26, 2021

In a sane world, the powers-that-be would be mobilizing to address the climate crisis. They’d be making huge changes RIGHT NOW to minimize climate collapse. I mean, they see these photos. They live on this planet with the rest of us. Sure, they’ve got money and power, but their lives and the lives of their children and grandchildren will be affected. They can’t all take rockets to Mars.

What’re they doing instead? Bowing down to institutional tradition. Bloviating about bipartisanship and preserving the filibuster. They care more about appearances and being the so-called adults in the room than working to ensure a livable future. The Democrats have ALL the power and refuse to wield it.

Why? Because they don’t care.

I loathe the GOP with every fiber of my being, but I give them credit for using their power to advance their agenda. The Dems are just spineless upholders of the status quo. Unfortunately, that status quo is quickly marching us toward an uninhabitable planet.

Signs of hope

I took this photo on April 1, 2020, but the image feels appropriate for today. This afternoon I had a productive phone conversation with an elected official about pending legislation that would greatly reduce jail populations in Colorado. I’m feeling hopeful.

Bulbs planted by neighbor who now lives in Hawaii and undoubtedly remembers exactly what this is.

And what’s more hopeful than brave flowers pushing through the soil, year after year?

Dose 1: mixed feelings

This morning I received my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. While I felt gratitude and relief to be halfway to fully vaccinated, I also felt anger, disgust, and shame. As with everything else in our system that puts profits over people (and planet), the Covid vaccine distribution is unequal. I’ve already blogged about some of the ways access is inequitable here in the U.S. (not to mention incarcerated people’s lack of access), but the situation is even more dire around the world.

Image by Mary Pahlke from Pixabay

The global death toll is currently at 2.77 million. Human decency would dictate that vaccines and vaccine patents be freely shared.  Nope. Big Pharma isn’t satisfied with the billions they make each year. They’re lobbying the Biden administration to clamp down on countries trying to increase production. Read this article and weep. And rage.

As the needle pierced my skin this morning, I thought about this excerpt from that article:

Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer, mocked proposals for sharing intellectual property as “nonsense” and “dangerous” at an industry forum last year. The vaccines are netting drug companies $21 billion this year alone, according to one estimate by Bernstein Research. 

There you have it: Big Pharma scoffing at the the World Health Organization (WHO). Silly WHO, thinking people’s lives matter more than intellectual property.

So yeah, not totally thrilled to get that Pfizer shot in the arm.

Healthcare, schmealthcare rant

As of yesterday, I am eligible in Colorado for a covid vaccine. As of this moment, I’m about to pull out all my hair.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Off and on today, I checked the various sites for vaccine alerts and availability. Every single time, the listings for available appointments were always false. I’d click on the link and get variations of “There are no more appointments at this site.” But just now, I was actually allowed to select a date and time for an appointment and I thought, “This is it!” I made it through the entire process, answering all the questions about allergies, health condition, etc., and then it came time to confirm my appointment. Confirmation? Yeah, right. I got “We’re all out of vaccine.”

I’m very fortunate to be able to commit time to trying to make an appointment. I don’t have an outside job. I have access to a working computer and the internet. If it’s this hard for me to find an appointment, how in the hell are people without my circumstances supposed to get vaccinated?

They’ve had a year to get their acts together on the vaccine roll-out. But the government’s number one priority during this pandemic has been to protect capitalism at the expense of the people, so this vaccine mess shouldn’t be a shocker. I mean, they’re denying us Medicare for All during a freaking pandemic that’s killed 541,000 people so far. People are being evicted and unhoused people living in tents are being harassed by police, all during a freaking pandemic. Our well-being is clearly not the priority.

Still, I can’t help but be appalled how this pandemic has proven (again) that here in the United States, the world’s most expensive health care “system” is the least effective. More than half a million people dead . . . and counting.