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STILL OUT ON A LIMB

Pipelines, the Environment and War

Over the weekend Elli and I attended a meeting to prevent a new gas pipeline in our backyard. This high pressure line would carry fracked gas across the northern part of Massachusetts through some of our state’s most productive farmland and sensitive eco-systems. The meeting was packed with people from surrounding communities determined to stop a dangerous and environmentally destructive project.

This is not just a local matter. At the meeting we learned that because of the crisis in Ukraine, our government is making it a priority to increase natural gas production and fast-track approval of the infrastructure needed to ship what we produce overseas. On the local level this indicates that the fledgling coalition will face seemingly irresistible forces in its attempt to prevent the pipeline’s construction, but it also has ominous global implications.

The Obama administration’s policy has been to increase gas and oil production to record levels. The reason most often cited is to rid ourselves of dependence on foreign energy sources, but our efforts to build oil and gas pipelines to connect the points of extraction with major ports also appear designed to facilitate fossil fuel exports. Obama seeks, among other things, to counter Russia’s dominant position in supplying Western Europe with natural gas. This is how the proposed local gas-line project is connected to what is happening in Ukraine. Much of the Russian gas is shipped through Ukraine to Europe; if the United States can supply Western Europe with an alternative, our companies will make a lot of money and we will weaken Russia’s international clout.

This brought home that despite rhetoric to the contrary the United States, and Russia, not to mention other fossil fuel producing nations, are competing to produce the most fossil fuel, and therefore, the most greenhouse gases. It is hard to imagine a more dangerous contest when the only sure way to prevent the destruction of the vast majority of life on our planet is to keep as much of the gas, oil and coal in the ground as possible.

It is essential to resist this suicidal competition, but it will be an uphill struggle. The anti-global warming movement needs to find allies to broaden its base of support, and anti-war activists should be prime targets. The environmental and peace movements are natural allies because war is the worst environmental disaster of all, and battles to control fossil fuel resources have become the major cause of military posturing and war.

Environmental activism must confront the fossil fuel industry, but it can’t do this effectively without addressing the industry’s codependence with the military. Simply put, we must publicize and attack the carbon footprint of the military industrial complex. The peace movement, in turn, can expose the environmental destruction, as well as the human suffering, caused by war. It can also sound an alarm about how our worldwide network of bases and the manufacture and fueling of our boats, planes, tanks and other motorized vehicles are degrading the planet.

The international pursuit of more natural gas and oil, and the inevitable confrontations this will spark, are proof that the two struggles need to coordinate their activities. Such coordination may not immediately short-circuit this self-destructive race to poison our planet, but it is a step in the right direction. Read More 
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Too Many People?

Recently I’ve been facilitating two groups studying global warming. (I will send my annotated ten-book syllabus to anyone who asks for it). Our current discussions are based on Alan Weisman’s new book, COUNTDOWN. While the book contains statements indicating it is not so simple, Weisman’s main point is that overpopulation is at the core of our environmental problems.

I’ve also been reading Clive Ponting’s A NEW GREEN HISTORY OF THE WORLD. Ponting concludes that: “The current environmental problems in the world can only be understood in the context of the nature of the world economy produced since 1500.”

At first glance these points of view appear to restate the old argument between Malthus and Marx. Malthus argued in 1798 that food production could never match population growth, and so, the masses were doomed to starvation. Marx, on the other hand, maintained that there would be enough for everyone if the earth’s resources were distributed fairly. He attacked Malthus for placing blame on the victims of capitalist exploitation rather than on the capitalists, who were the real culprits.

Raised by two sets of Old Left parents, and coming of age as a New Left Marxist, I initially rejected all claims that we could eliminate poverty and environmental damage through population control. However, in 1798 when Malthus first staked out his position, there were fewer than one billion people on the planet, and when Marx critiqued him there were no more than 1.5 billion. The world’s population has recently topped seven billion, and is headed for nine or ten billion in the next several decades. Marx was right that when Malthus propounded his theory it was a self-serving defense of inequality, but since then, overpopulation has become a major problem.

I also agree with Ponting that the world’s current unequal distribution of resources is responsible for environmentally-devastating first world overconsumption and mass human suffering. But capitalism’s love affair with increasing population is a key part of the current global economy. More people equals more workers willing to work for less as they compete with each other. More consumers buy more, generating more profit. A system based on perpetual growth serves its principal beneficiaries when individuals consume more AND there are more individuals doing the consuming. Is it possible that Weisman and Ponting are both correct?

Seven billion people are way too many, and ten billion will just hasten disaster. Weisman’s point is well-taken; we must and can bring down the population through universal education, and government assisted family planning programs, and doing so is a necessary condition of controlling global warming. Weisman, laments that all we lack is the political will to do so. He writes: “why [are] health decisions about Mother Nature … made by politicians, not by scientists who know how critical her condition is.” But as Ponting makes plain, the nature of our global economy means that politicians serving multi-national corporate masters will continue to make such decisions. As long as the world’s economy is driven by competition, profit and growth, efforts to reduce substantially either our population or consumption will be ineffective.

It is not a question of one or the other. Both are essential and we must address them in conjunction. Read More 
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Pinnacle of Evolution?

My fascination with weather started the winter I was eight. One day was so warm that I could go outside in my shirtsleeves, but the next day I had to bundle up against the cold. As I grew up this expanded into an interest in our planets’ chaotic climactic history; in college and graduate school I studied of anthropology, geology and evolution. Over the last several decades I have followed with growing alarm discussions of climate change and its potentially disastrous impact on our biosphere, the delicately balanced ecosystem of the Earth and all the plants and animals living on it.

The birth of my first grandchild six years ago profoundly personalized the dangers. The scientific evidence has convinced me that if we continue on our current course, by 2050, when she’s only 42 years old, my granddaughter’s life will become increasingly difficult, perhaps even impossible. I cannot imagine passively accepting what her and younger brother will have to endure. So I’ve worked even more intensively since 2008 to educate myself on the subject and how to reduce its risks.

When Elli mentioned recently that she’d heard Elizabeth Kolbert interviewed on NPR, and that I might be interested in reading her new book, THE SIXTH EXTINCTION, I was skeptical. I didn’t feel that I’d learn anything new, but Elli bought the book anyway. Reading it, I realize that exploring the impact of climate change on our biosphere provides important new insights into how to combat global warming.

I’ve come to understand how deeply our anthropocentric focus impedes our ability to face the challenge. Kolbert explains that in past extinction events our planet has lost up to 90% of all plant and animal families. This may be about to happen again. Perhaps some insect species, other invertebrates, and many single-celled organisms will survive, but our actions are endangering all or almost all of the “higher” life forms.

Are we justified, however, in seeing evolution as the advance from “lower” to “higher” forms of life, with our own species at the pinnacle of this glorious ascent? There has been an evolutionary trend toward increasing complexity, but are more complex organisms really any higher? Viewing humans as the end point of evolution is the modern-day equivalent of believing the sun revolves around the earth. This is a self-serving delusion. Just as the sun does not revolve around the earth, the earth does not revolve around us. We are merely one manifestation of an almost unimaginably complex web of life that has been evolving on our planet for over a billion years.

Placing ourselves at the center feeds our sense of importance and justifies our efforts to dominate our environment. It is, however, a potentially fatal misreading of our current circumstances. The vibrancy of the biosphere is essential to our survival. If our economic system and personal requirements are shredding it, our system, not it, must change. Human beings with our unprecedented capacity can, for a while, act as nature’s master, but the biosphere as a whole holds the trump cards. The mounting torrent of extinction is a warning which we ignore at our peril.

We must place the health of the biosphere at the center of any plan we develop to combat global warming. Understanding that our efforts must not focus on protecting what we have, but rather accommodate the needs of the earth’s natural systems, may be our biggest challenge. Overcoming our species specific myopia will not be easy, but given what is at stake, it is well worth the effort. Read More 
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The Worst of the Worst

Last week NBC news characterized the Sochi Olympics as an inspirational event that promoted healthy competition, international fellowship and good will. Not surprising, given that NBC owns the television rights to broadcast the Olympics, but for me it was the final straw. Even though I’ve enjoyed watching previous winter games, I resolved to boycott the Sochi Olympics. Here’s why:

1. Environmental disaster. Sochi was, until the Olympic steamroller came to town, one of Russia’s most picturesque areas. It is near Russia’s southernmost point; a semi-tropical set of beach resorts on the eastern shore of the Black Sea, with remarkably diverse flora and fauna, and the western terminus of the towering snow-covered Caucasus Mountains as a backdrop. It has been transformed at breakneck speed into a mass of hotels, Olympic villages, plazas, indoor and outdoor stadiums and ski-slopes, all connected by a highway system gouged out of the landscape. The group Environmental Reports on North Caucasus reports this has resulted in 1500 unsanctioned waste dumps in the area. In addition, because almost everyone attending flew there, each one of the tens of thousands arriving in Sochi is responsible for several additional tons of CO2 spewed into our atmosphere. The carbon footprint of this event is calamitous.

2. Human rights outrage. There has been a lot of publicity about how Russia has created a 1500 mile long series of check points around the Olympics and has tightened security throughout the region. Security measures include the monitoring of every electronic transmission and patrols of machine-gun touting Cossacks with the authority to stop and question anyone. I’m sure that members of every disfavored ethnic or religious group in the region have gotten a bellyful of this open air Gulag. And then, of course, there is the growing Putin-lead national past-time of gay-bashing.

3. Monumental corruption. Putin’s government has poured more than 50 billion dollars of public money into these Olympics. That’s more than the total spent on all other winter Olympics combined. Russia’s 1% has gobbled up this money in a flood of bribery and shoddy construction that has provided some great comic relief visuals on the internet. Outside of Russia, the 17 members of the International Olympic Organizing Committee (IOC) in charge of these games is a rogues’ gallery whose financial shenanigans and fascist-like political manipulations could fill a book.

4. Personal exploitation. The athletes are not exempt from this cesspool. The government-sponsored training methods of many countries designed to produce record performances by very youthful competitors is, to put it bluntly, child abuse. American Olympic hopefuls don’t have government support. Instead most of them obtain corporate sponsorship and thus, in a parody of amateurism, must dance to their puppeteer’s tune. Here’s how one former competitor described it: “The Olympic rings themselves have been copyrighted by the IOC, reserved exclusively for use by corporate sponsors. As those who generate super profits for sponsors, today’s Olympic athletes are workers. Like any other workers, athletes are limited by their economic vulnerability – in this case control by the sporting hierarchy.”

5. Elitism. Finally, it is an attraction that only those who can afford to shell out $20-25,000/person can attend. And to make sure those attending weren’t bothered by stray dogs, hundreds of the inconvenient animals were slaughtered before any guests arrived. Thus, it is an event paid for with public funds, causing massive environmental damage, vast human suffering and animal abuse, swimming in corruption, presented on site primarily to the wealthy, and generating super profits for the world’s giant corporations. What’s to like?

Calling this multifaceted orgy of degradation a testament to the highest human aspirations is beyond ironic. The least I can do, by boycotting it, is acknowledge all those who have suffered from this worst Olympics since the Nazi-orchestrated Berlin horror of 1936. Read More 
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What’s Your Carbon Footprint?

Two weeks ago I discussed my reluctance to travel by air because of its disastrous impact on the environment. I concluded “If we calculate our carbon footprint and what actions are likely to increase or decrease it, at least we can make more informed decisions. And while I am far from overcoming my own need of flying, for me, confronting this dilemma is a necessary first step. I hope that engaging in a constructive discussion of this issue will provide some insights and I welcome your input.”

A number of you responded. One person pointed me toward an article by meteorologist Eric Holthaus entitled “Why I’m Never Flying Again.” He wrote, “I didn’t comprehend quite how big an impact all those flights were having on the climate until I crunched the numbers with UC Berkeley’s excellent carbon footprint calculator (see link top left). I was shocked to discover that air travel comprised almost half of my household’s emissions last year, or 33.5 metric tons of CO2.”

I took my own advice and with Elli’s help used the UC Berkeley calculator. First, while helpful, I didn’t find it “excellent.” There was no way to determine the impact of our solar panels or honeycomb shades on our footprint, and all we could do was to give best-guess answers to some of its questions. Still, it gave us a better idea than we had before.

It calculated our footprint at 33.7 metric tons of CO2, and I suspect that it overestimated the footprint of our home’s heat and electricity. While this is well below the US average (25.9 metric tons per person or 51.8/couple) reported in THE ROUGH GUIDE TO CLIMATE CHANGE (2011), it is more than triple the 2010 global average of 9.4 metric tons per couple, and above the Western European average. Even though it was not perfect, it focused my attention more on the environmental costs of my lifestyle.

Unfortunately, even if all of us reduce our individual/household carbon footprints, we will do little to reverse or even significantly impede global warming. As Barry Sanders notes in THE GREEN ZONE, “even if every person, every automobile … suddenly emitted zero emissions, the earth would still be headed…toward total disaster…. The military produces enough greenhouse gases, by itself, to place the entire globe, with all its inhabitants … in the most immanent danger of extinction.”

We can’t turn this engine of destruction off without transforming our system that requires continuously increasing production and consumption, and a global military presence to procure the resources to fuel it. But we must still do what we can to curb the most destructive aspects of our behavior. As we educate ourselves and our communities to become more acutely aware of our carbon footprints, we are more likely to turn against the voracious consumption at the core of our multi-national corporate controlled economy.  Read More 
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Pete Seeger

I am reposting a blog my Daughter, Jenn, and I posted on the Rosenberg Fund for Children’s website www.rfc.org yesterday.

We woke up Tuesday morning to the news that Pete Seeger had died.

My (Robert’s) first memory of Pete was seeing him and the rest of the Weavers at Carnegie Hall just before Christmas in 1955. I was eight years old. My parents, Abel and Anne Meeropol, who knew the Seegers, took me to visit them at their home in the Hudson River Valley of New York the following year.

I remember that visit. Pete had a way of engaging children. He asked me to get his long neck banjo out of its case in the bedroom and bring it to him. I proudly held it against my chest with its long neck projecting above my head as I marched back to the living room. That’s why I banged the top of it on the door jam. I was mortified, but he didn’t seem to mind. I found out only last year, when talking with one of his grandchildren at Toshi’s memorial, that Pete hadn’t built the doorway high enough, and my accident merely provided further proof.

Not surprisingly, I (Jenn) grew up listening to and singing Pete Seeger's songs. My favorite early Pete memory is meeting him for the first time with my younger sister when she was about 3 or 4. She took one look at him and whispered “garbage, garbage, garbage” (part of the chorus of her favorite Pete song) before hiding behind our mom. He smiled at her and sang the rest of the chorus.

Pete was the headliner at the kick-off benefit concert for the Rosenberg Fund for Children in 1990, and in 1997 performed in another RFC benefit. He and his wife Toshi were original members of our Advisory Board.

We could count on Pete to come to our aid. He joined us again in 2001, when he and his grandson Tao helped us celebrate the RFC’s 10th anniversary. When, in 2003, pneumonia prevented him from joining the RFC’s 50th anniversary commemoration of Ethel and Julius’ executions, he sent a heartfelt, but unnecessary, apology. We knew the only reason he didn’t make it was because it was physically impossible.

Pete was always there for us, our family and our projects. And perhaps the most remarkable thing about him is that this was no exception. For the last 75 years he was there for almost every progressive undertaking you could imagine. There simply was no one else like him.

Robert and Jenn Meeropol Read More 
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Need of Flying

Perhaps the single worst, seemingly harmless, thing we can do to damage our environment is fly on a jet plane. For instance each passenger on a round trip from New York to Los Angeles accounts for a metric ton of carbon spewed high into the atmosphere, where it does a lot more damage than at sea level.

I’ve known this fact for several years, but I still don’t know how to act on that information. In response, Elli and I have significantly reduced, but not entirely eliminated, vacation flying. But my post-retirement part-time work for the RFC includes visiting major RFC supporters while accompanying Elli’s travel to writer’s conferences and on book tour when her next novel is published in early 2015. We’ll take trains or drive when possible; it’s not always possible.

I’m conflicted about even this reduced use of air travel. My primary activism today is to sound the alarm about fast-approaching ecological disasters. I’m motivated for personal reasons: if we don’t change course, the second half of my five and one-year-old grandchildren’s lives will be hellish. I am also compelled by global reasons: our actions are dooming the vast majority of Earth’s animals and plants to rapid extinction.

Before going further, let me back up for a moment. Some of you may believe that my conclusions in the last paragraph are exaggerated, even hysterical. But I know that many of you at least fear that I am right. I don’t want to argue if you think it really isn’t so bad, or if you have faith that we’ll figure a way out of the mess we have created. Instead, I ask you to assume that I am describing the danger accurately and help me figure this out.

How can I hold myself out as publicly devoted to preventing global warming, yet act in a manner that speeds up that process? Mark Lynas, in his book Six Degrees provides a quick summary of individual excuses for inaction (quoted from p. 289):
• The ‘metaphor of displaced commitment’ (‘I protect the environment in other ways, like recycling’)
• The denial of responsibility (‘I am not the main cause of the problem’)
• Condemning the accuser (‘You have no right to challenge me’)
• Rejection of blame (‘I’ve done nothing wrong.’)
• Ignorance (‘I don’t know the consequences of my actions’)
• Powerlessness (‘Nothing I do makes much difference’)
• Comfort (‘It is too difficult for me to change my behavior’)
• And ‘fabricated constraints’ (‘There are too many impediments’)

I’ve heard all these arguments many times. Hell, I’ve even made them. In addition, I believe that capitalism itself is the principle driving force of the problem. Our system is based upon profit, and competition which requires the never-ending growth of economic exchanges. Perpetual growth feeds climate change and causes resource depletion. But does the fact that we can’t avert a global environmental collapse without altering the basic structure of our society absolve me from discontinuing one activity – flying – that will massively reduce my carbon footprint?

We are not helpless. If we calculate our carbon footprint and what actions are likely to increase or decrease it, at least we can make more informed decisions. And while I am far from overcoming my own need of flying, for me, confronting this dilemma is a necessary first step. I hope that engaging in a constructive discussion of this issue will provide some insights and I welcome your input.  Read More 
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The Problem With Snapshots

Last week several local newspapers in Wisconsin and Minnesota carried news stories about the National Weather Service report that the extent of ice on Lake Superior this month is greater than at any time since January 1989. In fact, this winter has seen the second fastest build up of ice in the Great Lakes since they started keeping track in 1978.

How could the ice cover be increasing if the climate is warming?

Project: Ice, a new documentary film about the changing climate of the Great Lakes, tells a different story. “This is the first winter in a long time that we’ve seen ice forming on Lake Michigan in December,” Co-producer Kevin Kusina explained during the Q&A session after a screening of the film. While working on the film he said he found the lack of ice in recent years depressing.

Weather nut that I am, I remember the Great Lakes ice of the past as well. While I was student at the University of Michigan (1967-1971), I vividly recall reports of the annual battles ice breakers had to keep the shipping lanes open in winter.

The recent stories of this year’s increased ice build-up leave the impression that belies recent climate history. The real story is not that there is so much ice, but that there has been much less ice for so long. In other words, the Great Lakes are more ice-choked this year, but prior to 1978 this would not have been so unusual.

I doubt the newspapers are intentionally deceiving their readers. In this sound bite age, with the accompanying erosion of in-depth reportage, a quick-hit three paragraph “snapshot” that reports on a current happening is the standard. The reporters may have had no knowledge of the diminishing ice coverage of the Great Lakes since the 1960’s, and anyone reading this story who is under 40 will be too young to remember.

Those who do not dig more deeply can become easy targets for the climate change denier propaganda machine of the fossil fuel companies. After all, global warming is real bad news, and it is only natural for people to deny such news when they hear it. The snapshot reporting that most people see, hear or read is bound to leave false impressions about the nature, extent and even existence of climate change.

This presents a real challenge for those of us organizing to combat global warming. We don’t have the financial resources to refute the multi-million dollar advertising campaigns of the fossil fuel companies. However, we can, with a letter to the editor or an in-person conversation, reach out to people who may become confused by what they have read in the paper. We need to look beyond the snapshot, be sufficiently educated to understand the complexities, and we must work at crafting answers that take them into account without descending into jargon or burying people in detail. Finally, we should take heart that, since the vast majority of people can see the frightening changes for themselves, our audience is becoming more receptive.  Read More 
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NSA: Spawn of COINTELPRO?

Most of us have heard about the activists who admitted burglarizing the FBI office in Media, PA in March 1971. The internal documents they leaked to the press revealed COINTELPRO, the FBI’s illegal multi-prong campaign to destroy the anti-war and civil rights movements in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s and led to significant civil liberties victories. Many Internet postings have focused on the similarities between COINTELPRO and the NSA spying forty years later, and between the liberators of the Media FBI documents and today’s whistleblowers, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning.

I find the differences between the two situations just as interesting.

COINTELPRO (an acronym for COunter INTELligence PROgram) was designed to undermine the effectiveness of, and in some cases assassinate, activists who were struggling to bring about basic changes in our foreign and domestic policies. The FBI had specific targets, including the Black Panthers, CORE and other Civil Rights organizations, Puerto Rican Nationalists, the American Indian Movement, SDS and the Weathermen. Even though the project was interrupted, COINTELPRO played a powerful role in undermining progressive movements of the late 1960’s and 1970’s.

In contrast, the National Security Administration appears to be collecting massive amounts of data; they want to know everything about everybody. This government spying is ubiquitous and indiscriminate, even sometimes ludicrous. I got a kick out of the stories last month about a mysterious task force of federal anti-terrorist agents who searched a Long Island family’s home after the husband and wife conducted internet searches for backpacks and pressure cookers and their teen-aged son researched the Boston Marathon bombing.

You could describe the FBI tactics as authoritarian (enforcing strict obedience to the government at the expense of personal freedom) and the NSA’s as totalitarian (centralized and dictatorial, requiring complete subservience to the state). I worry that the repeated assaults on progressive dissent from the Red Scare of the 1950’s, to COINTELPRO, and the draconian post 9/11 laws, have finally succeeded in disempowering the activist bulwarks against assaults on our civil liberties. In this manner the earlier authoritarian attacks may have set the stage for our current government’s totalitarian foray, leaving a pacified and frightened population, willing to accept today’s global surveillance in the name of security.

Many commentators have concluded that the problem with these NSA tactics is that they invade our privacy and sweep up harmless innocents. Such analysis reminds me of “Good Night and Good Luck,” the film about Edward R. Murrow during the McCarthy period. The film’s focus on the harm caused to non-communists by McCarthy’s wild accusations might have left viewers wondering if the Red Scare would have been acceptable if its attacks had been limited to real communists.

While the danger posed by blanket surveillance is real and must be resisted, I worry most about targeted authoritarian attacks against those working to shift the balance of power and change government policies. What is most dangerous about both COINTELPRO and the NSA’s spying is not that they destroy our privacy and ensnare the innocent, but rather that they target political dissidents who are essential to maintaining the rich fabric of our freedoms.  Read More 
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Climate Justice First: an open letter to our New Left generation

Each New Year is a time of reflection, of looking forward, of hope. For the two of us, it’s also a time to renew our commitment to progressive activism. Over the decades, this work has involved many of you and has addressed many different issues – antiwar and antinuke, civil liberties and economic justice, gender and racial equality – in our local communities and around the globe. Understanding the close connections and shared causes of these oppressions, we have always believed that activists should support each other as we each work on the issues that fire our passion.

But things have changed. Global corporate-driven industrialization and militarization are, with increasing momentum, driving our planet toward total biotic collapse. The other issues – mass imprisonment and food safety and reproductive rights and a living wage – are as important as ever, but climate change is upon us and we have entered a new and very dangerous territory. We are concerned that so few of our comrades from the sixties are actively engaged in confronting this overriding challenge. We probably won’t live to see global devastation, but we are leaving our children and grandchildren a legacy of hell on earth. If nations and corporations continue to act as they have, it is most likely that we will render significant portions of our planet uninhabitable in the next 50 to 100 years.

This feels both colossal and very personal. Our grandchildren, now one and five, along with their entire generation, will live much shorter and harsher lives unless we stop the corporate-led forces that are at this moment committing terracide.

There are many reasons we are tempted to avoid this fight. Fighting for climate justice compels us to learn a new scientific vocabulary, to redirect our attention to how we interact with the physical elements of our planet, the animals, plants and minerals. It forces us to face, yet again, the greed of corporations and the complicity of governments. It requires us to accept that both major political parties have deep ties to the polluters and their buddies, and cannot be trusted to make the necessary changes. This task is overwhelming, but our grandchildren’s generation is doomed if we don’t take it on.

There is hope. The scientific evidence is strong. The movements for climate justice are growing. We ask you to join us – to read the books and articles if you haven’t already, and to join the climate justice activists. Our collective work against poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia, indigenous rights still matters a hell of a lot. But if we plunge our planet into an ecological abyss, it won’t matter who is on the Supreme Court, who has the right to vote or to marry whom, or what the minimum wage is.

Our generation may be graying, but we can do this. We’ve done it before. We can educate ourselves, set priorities, and work both locally and globally. We can start new groups or join existing ones. (Organizations that don’t call for changing the basic nature of capitalism include 350.org, Sierra Club, Climate Action Now. A Marxist analysis is provided in the Monthly Review and Deep Green Resistance has an even more basic critique.)

It will not be easy; those who profit from the planet-killing industries are powerful. There is no guarantee of success. But we know our friends and comrades can make a tremendous difference if we all put our minds to it. As we enter 2014, we can’t imagine anything more worthwhile than preventing the collapse of the miraculous web of plant and animal life on our majestic and fragile home.

Ellen & Robert Meeropol Read More 
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