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Climate Protests Escalate Worldwide
Ben Block, 24 Nov 08
Photo courtesy Evergaldes Earth First! Members of Everglades Earth First!, a Florida-based environmental group, block the construction site of a natural gas-fired power plant in February. Lynne Purvis and seven other members face charges next month for trespassing onto the site.
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Lynne Purvis stood apart at a Ritz Carlton cocktail party Thursday night.

Surrounded by coal, oil, and natural gas executives at a Bank of America energy conference in Key Biscayne, Florida, Purvis and her six friends had not been invited. Armed with banners and signs, they still made their presence known.

"Bank of America forgot to put alternative energy into the agenda," Purvis, a member of the activist group Everglades Earth First!, said into her megaphone. "So as the clean energy transition team, we were asked to speak to you all tonight."

The party guests were less than impressed with Purvis's sense-of-humor. One guest allegedly wrestled the activists' banner out of their hands. During the melee, Purvis said, two of her associates were doused with beer.

"We did commit trespassing," Purvis said. "But is trespassing truly a crime as opposed to putting the entire planet in turmoil?"

Climate activists worldwide are raising the stakes, with many turning to civil disobedience to make their voices heard. Actions in recent months have ranged from chaining themselves to coal conveyor belts in Sydney, to forming port blockades in the Netherlands, to scaling smokestacks in the United Kingdom.

The rise in activism reflects growing frustration against the continued, and expanding, use of coal as a source of energy. The fuel, while affordable, is directly linked to climate change and air pollution.

"What I see is - in the last year - it just exploded and went from being a sizable amount of people, several thousands of very active youth all around the country, to just hundreds of thousands of young people," said Brianna Cayo Cotter, communications director for Energy Action Coalition, a network of North American youth climate activists. "I feel like the floodgates are about to open. We have the numbers. We have the skills. We have the passion."

In Europe, where some 50 new coal plants are being planned, Greenpeace is leading a continent-wide campaign [PDF] to halt eight upcoming projects in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. In the United Kingdom, plans are under way to build the country's first coal plant in 34 years. Activists have escalated their opposition to the proposed construction this year.

In the United States, a nationwide fight against 150 proposed new coal-fired power plants that began four years ago has put a serious dent in the coal industry's plans. Through the courts, government lobbying, and acts of civil disobedience, activists have helped cut in half the number of new coal power stations.

The movement achieved a major victory last week. In response to a Sierra Club lawsuit, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ruled that a proposed coal plant in Utah would need a plan for controlling its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions before being granted a federal operating permit. The ruling essentially delays all such permits for the time being. "In the immediate future, no new coal plant will be moving forward," said Virginia Crame, a Sierra Club associate press secretary.

Meanwhile, the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has staged campaigns targeting two of the largest funders of such coal projects: Bank of America and Citibank. Last weekend, RAN and Greenpeace organized more than 50 events across the country to protest the banks' financial support of the fossil fuel industry.

"A lot of people are jazzed up about it because global warming was such an important issue in the election on the state and federal level," said Mary Nicol, the Greenpeace student network coordinator. "The cleanest coal plant is the one that isn't built. The youth generation really understands that."

Environmental author Bill McKibben organized 1,400 simultaneous call-to-action events, known as Step It Up, in 2007. He has since founded 350, an organization that raises awareness of the 350 parts per million of CO2 equivalent that many climate scientists consider the maximum level necessary for a stable climate.

Following a rally at the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 18, McKibben said that plans for a fall 2008 global day of action would be announced at the climate conference in Poland next month. "Hopefully there will be rallies on every corner of the planet. We have organizers working on every continent except Antarctica," he said. "We need people to realize that coal is the dirtiest fuel on our planet."

McKibben also said he expects more acts of civil disobedience in the next year. "It'll happen. Keep your eyes open in D.C.," he said.

The Energy Action Coalition is expecting 10,000 participants at its second annual Powershift, a conference of climate workshops, lobbying, and protests in Washington in February. Similar "climate camps" have been held this past year in London, Hamburg, and Newcastle (Australia).

The large-scale campaigns rekindle memories of effective grassroots campaigns from the 1960s and ‘70s. But a saturation of information has made it more difficult now for organizers to attract attention, said Paul Wapner, director of the Global Environmental Politics Program at American University.

"There is a changing landscape in which activism in general, not just environmental, finds its expression," Wapner said. "With the Internet and all sorts of media, it's hard to figure out how one makes a difference and not just have their message get lost in the virtual world."

Regardless of whether the world is watching, more activists are risking arrest for the cause, and more support is coming their way.

In the U.K., six Greenpeace activists faced criminal charges this past summer for damaging a coal-fired power station on the Kent coast. With the support of NASA climatologist James Hansen, an Inuit leader, and other environmentalists, the defendants argued that they were acting on behalf of the world - specifically the Pacific island state of Tuvalu, the Arctic ice cap, and China's Yellow River, they said.

The jury ruled that their actions were indeed protecting property in England and across the globe. The activists were cleared of all charges.

In the United States, 11 protesters who formed a human barrier to a power plant construction site in Virginia in September faced 10 criminal charges and a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison, until a plea bargain was reached last month. Hansen again offered his support.

"If this case had gone to trial, I would have requested permission to testify on behalf of these young people, who, for the sake of nature and humanity, had the courage to stand up against powerful ‘authority,'" Hansen said in a prepared statement [PDF].

Next month, Lynne Purvis will appear in court as well. She faces charges of trespassing, unlawful assembly, and resisting arrest following a protest earlier this year against the construction of a natural gas-fired power plant in the Everglades. She, too, requested that Hansen testify on her behalf, but he has yet to respond.

Stories of climate activists who have avoided punishment did not, however, influence Purvis, she said. "I honestly don't pay too much attention to that kind of stuff. My personal motivation is that whatever the consequence, it's better than the massive consequence that will be felt by the entire community and the entire planet."

Ben Block is a staff writer with the Worldwatch Institute. He can be reached at bblock@worldwatch.org.

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Comments

Climate Camp here in the UK has called for 48hours of non violent direct action against EON for next weekend. We cannot rely on governments and big business to save us.....they dont want change. They work together to sponsor Climate Change. People need to get organised and take action!


Posted by: GAYLE on 25 Nov 08

It is about time people in large numbers begin to behave honestly and courageously rather than remain silent and comfortable by choosing to follow greedy leaders who are irresponsibly pursuing a patently unsustainable business-as-usual expansion of the global political economy that is resulting in the massive extirpation of biodiversity, the relentless degradation of our environs, the reckless ravage of Earth's body and perhaps the endangerment of humanity.

Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
established 2001
http://sustainabilityscience.org/content.html?contentid=1176


Posted by: Steven Earl Salmony on 25 Nov 08

Behold a chimera on the far horizon, a paint horse upon which imperious and ignoble GREED rides. This horse and its pin-striped rider are an unexpected front runner, a Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse. The "Four Horsemen" in tandem are following close behind.

Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on the Human Population,
established 2001
http://sustainabilityscience.org/content.html?contentid=1176


Posted by: Steven Earl Salmony on 28 Nov 08

Reuters reports today: GOOGLE IT:

A different KIND of protest, but a protest, yes!

danny bloom

------------

Sue world leaders $1 billion for global warming?

by: aarongray-block

Tags: Environment, climate treaty, crimes against humanity, global warming, greenhouse emissions, international criminal court

In a global stunt, a U.S. environmental activist is poised to lodge a $1 billion damages class action lawsuit at the International Criminal Court (ICC) against all world leaders for failing to prevent global warming.

Activist and blogger Dan Bloom says he will sue world leaders for “intent to commit manslaughter against future generations of human beings by allowing murderous amounts of fossil fuels to be harvested, burned and sent into the atmosphere as CO2″.

He intends to lodge the lawsuit in the week starting Sunday, Dec. 6.

The prosecutor’s office at the ICC, the world’s first permanent court (pictured below right) for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, says it is allowed to receive information on crimes that may fall within the court’s jurisdiction from any source.

“Such information does not per se trigger a judicial proceeding,” the prosecutor’s office hastened to add.

The question is: will or should the prosecutor take on the case?

One might argue in defence that world leaders are in fact trying to impose climate-saving measures. In Vienna last year, almost all rich nations agreed to consider cuts in greenhouse emissions of 25-40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. Talks on a new climate treaty will be held in Poznan, Poland, from Dec. 1-12.

Rajendra Pachauri, head of the U.N. Climate Panel, says the cuts are needed to limit temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius, an amount seen by the EU, some other nations and many environmentalists as a threshold for “dangerous” climate change.

Granted then that there is growing consensus that climate change poses a real threat, is it not only world leaders who are failing to prevent global warming?

Perhaps the global collective of individuals, governments and industry is to blame and the ICC lawsuit a valid publicity stunt in the constant battle to raise awareness and prompt action?

Because it’s action we need — and now, right?

http://blogs.reuters.com/environment/2008/11/28/sue-world-leaders-1-billion-for-global-warming/


Posted by: Danny Bloom on 28 Nov 08


See the "Horsemen of the Apocalypse" ride during "blitz" of Wal Mart in Valley Stream, NY.

"Blitz" lines are a sign of the times. These 'lines' are designed to evince rampaging greed. How many other ploys can you think of that surreptitiously exploit human avarice?

Here and now we behold the chimera, the "paint horse and its pin-striped-suited rider, named GREED" being followed closely by a pale horse ridden by Death.


Posted by: Steven Earl Salmony on 29 Nov 08

Three cheers for Dan Bloom!!! Keep going!!!


Posted by: Steven Earl Salmony on 29 Nov 08

If a culture treats the unbridled accumulation of possessions and filthy lucre as virtuous behaviors, not as vices, then the "paint horse and its pin-stripe-suited rider, GREED," are free to run wild, just as occurred in Valley Stream, New York on Black Friday.


Posted by: Steven Earl Salmony on 29 Nov 08

A culture that defines its very raison d'etre by endless accumulation of material possessions; by the unbounded acquisition of more money, money, money, money; by recklessly overconsuming and relentlessly hoarding limited resources, demonstrably declares to all the world that greed is good.

Are we not members of a culture that worships consumerism? Are the products of greed nothing more or less than the objects of our idolatry?

Are the pin-striped suits, fleet of cars, chauffeur, private jets, McMansions, distant hideaways, secret handshakes and exclusive clubs...... all signatures of success in a culture borne of the 'goodness' of greed?

Consider for a moment what greed has wrought.

Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
established 2001


Posted by: Steven Earl Salmony on 30 Nov 08

Are we suffering from amnesia about the value of the Earth and its environs? Have we been mesmerized by a Tower of Babel?

Perhaps we are forever forgetting about the environment because too many people, especially the economic powerbrokers, their bought-and-paid-for politicians and their minions in the mainstream media, are worshipping a "totem". At least to me, there appear to be many too many people for whom the economy, in and of itself, is the primary object of their idolatry. This behavior is observable, obvious and flagrant. In many instances, these worshippers make what they evidently believe are rational arguments that suggest manmade financial and economic systems are somehow essential to, and an integral part of, God's Creation; that indicate the growth of the global economy will occur from now on, even after the Creation is ravaged and its frangible climate destabilized by unbridled overproduction, unchecked overconsumption and unregulated overpopulation activities of the human species. Aside from the "Economic Colossus" nothing matters to them.

Today, it appears that the financial system of the economic powerbrokers is collapsing like a "house of cards" and the real economy of the family of humanity is threatened. Experts in political economy are saying internally inconsistent and contradictory things. Communications about financials and the economy are generally confused and in disarray. Confidence and trust in the operating systems of finance and the global economy have been undermined by the invention of dodgy financial instruments and unsustainable business models as well as by the promulgation of con games and Ponzi schemes. Transparency, accountability and honesty in business activities have been largely vanquished. A great economic system is being undone by con artists, gamblers and cheats. In such circumstances, does the manmade colossus we call the global political economy remind you in some ways of a modern Tower of Babel?

Sincerely,

Steve

Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
established 2001
http://sustainabilityscience.org/content.html?contentid=1176


Posted by: Steven Earl Salmony on 3 Dec 08

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