Tag Archives: Climate Change

Obama’s State of the Union: fantasy, fact, fiction or all of the above?

by Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project

During Obama’s State of the Union address last night the presence of the star of the reality TV show Duck Dynasty might have been the most real part of a very surreal evening.

Of particular note were Obama’s comments on energy and climate change.

While the US Southeast was being hammered by a highly unusual winter storm which stranded thousands in the metro Atlanta area, (no, this does not disprove climate change you nitwits, climate scientists have warned for years that a warming globe means extreme and unpredictable weather) Obama was proclaiming a desire to address climate change so that “when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, [we can say] yes we did.”

This sounds wonderful until we consider the “all of the above” energy strategy Obama touted earlier in the speech, which gives a nod to some of the dirtiest, most polluting and destructive energy sources.  It includes shale oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota–the gas flares of which can be seen from space.  This shale oil is so extremely volatile that in the past year two trains carrying bakken oil have exploded.  It means more coal; it means more deep water offshore drilling of the type that caused the BP oil spill disaster.  It means more nukes, even in the shadow of the ongoing catastrophe at Fukushima.  And it means more fracking.  Obama made a big show of his support for natural gas “if extracted safely,” which it is not.

Obama spent exactly one paragraph on climate change.  He declared it a fact.  That anyone even needs to do that in this day and age, decades after global warming was identified as a problem, after the Northeast US was smashed by not one but two hurricanes in two consecutive years, after Super-Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines, after the record droughts in Australia, Africa and the US Midwest–to name just a few climate-related catastrophes of the past 8 years–is astounding.  However, climate change is not only a fact. In my opinion it is the single greatest threat to future generations of humans and most other species.  Yet it merited only a passing mention.  One paragraph out of a 13 page speech.

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Filed under Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Oil, Political Repression, Pollution, Posts from Anne Petermann

Audio: Will Typhoon Haiyan Affect the Debate on Global Climate Change?

Note: Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project, was featured in a press release by the Institute for Public Accuracy on the link between Typhoon Haiyan, climate change, climate justice and the upcoming UN climate conference in Poland.  The link below is to one of the interviews she gave.

–the GJEP Team

Released on Nov 12, 2013

The typhoon that laid waste to parts of the Philippines last week struck just before the 19th Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change got underway in Warsaw, Poland on Monday.  But while there is general agreement that global climate change is a major factor in the increasing number and intensity of storms worldwide, there continues to be little progress toward limiting the emission of greenhouse gasses.  We speak with Anne Peterman, executive director of the Global Justice Ecology Project.

To listen to the show, go to Left Voices

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Filed under Climate Change, False Solutions to Climate Change, Natural Disasters, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, UNFCCC

Obama’s plan for the climate: Greenwash our way into oblivion

By Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project


Image captured from The Weather Channel

At 1:45 today, President Obama announced his new Climate Action Plan in a nationally televised speech.

He described the emerging climate crisis and its impacts–both past, present and future, while be suffered the heat of an abnormally warm June day in Washington, DC. His arguments for climate action were compelling and hard to argue with.  Unfortunately his actions do not match his words.

Unlike Bill McKibben, I do not believe that “the solutions agenda [Obama has] begun to advance moves the country in a sane direction.” (Did you read the actual Climate Action Plan, Bill?!?)  No, what I read in Obama’s Action Plan was a rehashing of the same old dangerous false solutions that many of us have been fighting for years and years.  But what’s really criminal is that even though Obama clearly understands both the science and implications of climate change, he still pushes an agenda that will drive us all over the climate cliff.

First the plan’s “Case for Action” reiterates Obama’s pledge to decrease carbon emissions by a paltry 17% below 2005 levels by 2020–but only if all other major economies agree to do so as well. Climate scientists are not calling for 17% reductions by 2020. In fact, countries like the US need to reduce our emissions by 80-90%.  And not in seven years, but immediately.  Last year preferably.

The main takeaway from Obama’s greenwashed nonsense? We can continue our unsustainable way of life indefinitely with just a few key tweaks.

“Deploy Clean Energy.” Ain’t nothin’ clean about this.  Obama’s “clean energy” plan includes more fracking, more oil, more nukes, more biofuels and “clean coal.”  Yes, Obama wants to stop climate change by screwing over rural communities through promotion of more hydrofracking and increased natural gas exports; expanding domestic oil production–including the hellish Bakken shale oil fields (but don’t worry, it will be clean Bakken oil­–no really, that’s in there); devoting more land to growing feedstocks for plant-based liquid fuels (i.e. less land for biodiversity, growing food or for peasant communities to survive on); protecting forests that store carbon while cutting down trees to burn for electricity production; building more nuclear power plants (apparently never heard of Three Mile Island, Chernobyl or Fukushima); and maintaining the fantasy of that wonderful oxymoron “clean coal.” Sane direction?

Spur Investment in Advanced Fossil Energy Projects. Like “clean” coal, we can burn our fossil fuels and stop climate change too!

Maintain Agricultural Sustainability. For this one, Obama wants us to trust the vehemently pro-GMO US Department of Agriculture to “deliver tailored, science-based knowledge to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.”  ‘Climate ready’ GMO crops anyone?

Negotiate Global Free Trade in Environmental Goods and Services. Right, cuz global free trade has served biodiversity, ecosystems and the 99% so well!

But the most ludicrous item is the last on the menu: “Leading efforts to address climate change through international negotiations.”  (I know, I know, stop laughing)

This section excels in Orwellian newspeak. It highlights the disastrous 2009 UN Copenhagen Climate Conference as “historic progress,” and insists that the secretly negotiated Copenhagen Accord (that was booed even by reporters when Obama announced it late in the negotiations) was a breakthrough in developing “a new regime of international transparency.” Omitted is the fact that this Accord was never actually consensed upon, but merely “noted” by the official body.  Well history is “his story” after all…

The section goes on to trumpet the accomplishments of the equally disastrous UN Climate Conference in Durban in 2011–about which Nature Magazine wrote “It is clear that the science of climate change and the politics of climate change, now inhabit parallel worlds.”

Nnimmo Bassey, Chair of Friends of the Earth International similarly condemned Durban’s outcomes, “developed countries, led by the US, accelerated the demolition of the world’s international framework for fair and urgent climate action. And developing countries have been bullied and forced into accepting an agreement that could be a suicide pill for the world. An increase in global temperatures of four degrees Celsius, permitted under this plan, is a death sentence for Africa, small island states, and the poor and vulnerable worldwide. This summit has amplified climate apartheid whereby the richest 1% of the world have decided that it is acceptable to sacrifice the 99%.”

But Obama’s Climate Action Plan insists Durban was “a breakthrough”–because countries agreed to come up with some kind of new climate agreement that would not go into force until 2020.

Gee, guess who won’t be in office anymore in 2020…

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Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, Copenhagen/COP-15, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Greenwashing, Oil, Pollution, Posts from Anne Petermann, UNFCCC

One hour special on KPFK features GJEP and Indigenous Environmental Network


Featuring the Tar Sands, Hurricane Sandy, climate justice and genetically engineered trees

Global Justice Ecology Project teamed up with the Sojourner Truth show in LA for a series of events in late-November, including the following one-hour in-studio interview featuring Clayton Thomas-Muller, Tar Sands Co-Director with the Indigenous Environmental Network; Orin Langelle, Board Chair for Global Justice Ecology Project, and Anne Petermann, GJEP Executive Director.  They discussed the link between Hurricane Sandy, climate change, social justice and extreme energy.  To listen, click the link below.

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Filed under Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, Indigenous Peoples, Natural Disasters, Oil, Tar Sands

Kent State survivors seek new probe of 1970 shootings

Note: Forty-two years ago today, US National Guardsmen opened fire on unarmed students at Kent State University who were protesting the Vietnam War and its expansion into neighboring Cambodia.  Four were killed and nine wounded.  Justice has never been served to the victims of this atrocity.

Four decades later, the US is sending men and women overseas to fight wars for oil at the same time that the very life-support systems of the planet are on the verge of a complete meltdown from fossil fuel-induced global warming and its resulting climate chaos.  These wars enable the 1% to continue their grossly unsustainable lives of privilege at the expense of the rest.

After the Kent State massacre, students rose up across the country.  Hundreds of colleges and universities were shut down by student protests and outrage.

Today the stakes are higher than ever.  Can we share and  learn from the experiences of the movements from the 1960s and encourage a new era of global direct action–a new era of outrage?

The 1% will not change with niceties, permitted marches or orchestrated mass-arrests.  They will not change through the corporate-owned electoral process.  As Frederick Douglass pointed out:

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

I would add to this that it is not enough merely to demand.  The demands must be backed up by action: action in the form of general strikes, student shut downs and the total obstruction of business as usual.  After all, it is literally our future that is at stake.

–Anne Petermann for the GJEP Team

Cross-Posted from Reuters

FILE PHOTO 4MAY70 - Students dive to the ground as the Ohio National Guard fires on faculty and students at Kent State University in this May 4, 1970 file photo. MMR/AA
 By Kim Palmer

KENT, Ohio | Thu May 3, 2012 11:23pm EDT

(Reuters) – Survivors of the shooting of 13 students by the Ohio National Guard during an anti-war demonstration at Kent State University in 1970 called on Thursday for a new probe into the incident that came to define U.S. divisions over the Vietnam War.

Four students were killed and nine wounded in the shootings on May 4, 1970 that followed days of demonstrations on the campus after disclosures of a U.S.-led invasion of Cambodia that signaled a widening of the war in Southeast Asia.

Kent State was shut for weeks after the shootings and student strikes closed down schools across the nation.

On the eve of the 42nd anniversary of the shootings, four students wounded that day asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate digitally enhanced audio evidence they believe proves an officer ordered the guardsmen to fire on the unarmed students.

A command to fire has never been proven and guardsmen said they fired in self-defense. Criminal charges were brought against eight guardsmen, but a judge dismissed the case. Wounded students and families of those slain later received a total of $675,000 after civil lawsuits.

The shootings also spawned an investigative commission, numerous books and Neil Young’s song, “Ohio,” which became an anti-war anthem. A Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a teenage girl kneeling over the body of one of the slain students became an enduring image of the tragedy.

In 2010, Alan Canfora, one of the wounded students and director of the nonprofit Kent May 4 Center, asked the Justice Department to review the enhanced recording, which was taken 250 feet from the guardsmen when they fired their shots in 1970.

Canfora and other audio specialists say the enhanced recording shows a clear military order to fire seconds before the shooting. The troops fired 67 shots over 13 seconds.

A Justice Department official closed the matter last month, finding the recordings were still inconclusive.

Canfora, and other wounded students Dean Kahler, Thomas Grace and Joe Lewis, asked Holder on Thursday for a new probe, saying anyone involved in the shooting should be offered immunity to provide information. They asked any surviving guardsmen to come forward with information.

“I was an angry young man for a number of years,” Canfora said. “We have to work within the system. I’ve learned a lot since we were younger. I believe they were ordered to shoot us.”

Kahler, who has been paralyzed from the waist down since the shooting, told Reuters: “We want justice in a sense, to have the truth. It would be nice to know what actually happened.

If the United States does not open a new investigation, the May 4 group plans to appeal to the International Court of Justice, the U.N. Human Rights Council or the Inter-American Court of Human Rights Canfora said.

(Reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by David Bailey and Peter Cooney)

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Political Repression

Corporate takeover of UN Climate Conference

Note: The following cross-post is from the March 2012 newsletter, published in London, England  from our friends at the Environmental Network for Central America (ENCA).  I have known ENCA contacts and activists Nick Rau and Sheila Amoo-gottried for over a decade now and they have graciously put me up in their homes a few times in London.  Martin Mowforth, from the School of Geography, Earth & Environmental Sciences at Plymouth University has been sending me the ENCA newsletter for more years than I can remember.  I always am grateful to see it arrive.

I received this edition last evening, opened it immediately and was quite surprised to see the following piece written by ENCA’s Barney Thompson.  I smiled when I read the paragraph that begins, “With a similar outlook to ENCA, GJEP highlights the intertwined root causes of social injustice, ecological destruction and economic domination…”  We’re very honored to be considered in the same vein as ENCA, and appreciate the coverage we receive in the following post.

Thanks to ENCA for all of their amazing work in Central America and the service they provide by supporting the people who live in that region and for getting the word out to the rest of the world.

¡La lucha sigue!

-Orin Langelle for the GJEP Team

This short article is a summary of the Global Justice Ecology Project Press Release (13 December 2011) ‘GJEP Direct Action and Climate Justice at the UN Climate Talks’, GJEP, Hinesburg, USA.

Summary by ENCA member Barney Thompson

Frustrated by the lack of any significant progress at the recent UN Climate Conference in South Africa, the US based NGO Global Justice Ecology Project (GJEP) took direct action alongside hundreds of African youth activists and civil society representatives. On the final day of the conference they staged a sit-in in the convention centre halls which resulted in arrest, ‘debadging’ and ejection from the event. They were one of the very few organisations there to take any such direct action in protest at the corporate takeover and the dominance of empty rhetoric over binding action that has now become the norm at the UN climate talks.

GJEP is removed by UN security during sit-in occupation Photo: Ben Powless

With a similar outlook to ENCA, GJEP highlights the intertwined root causes of social injustice, ecological destruction and economic domination. They work to build bridges between social and environmental justice groups (including those in Central America) to strengthen their collective efforts. In Durban, GJEP raised awareness of the messages of such climate justice experts and front line community representatives by connecting them with major international media outlets for interviews as well as delivering press releases and conferences. Included in the speakers was Friends of the Earth El Salvador’s Ricardo Navarro, also a friend of ENCA. They also participated in a march for climate justice attended by tens of thousands of people before then deciding in frustration to take more direct action.

GJEP’s Executive Director Anne Petermann was one of those arrested and she released the following statement:

“I took this action today because I believe this process is corrupt, this process is bankrupt, and this process is controlled by the One percent. If meaningful action on climate change is to happen, it will need to happen from the bottom up. The action I took today was to remind us all of the power of taking action into our own hands. With the failure of states to provide human leadership, and the corporate capture of the United Nations process, direct action by the ninety-nine percent is the only avenue we have left.”

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, UNFCCC

This Week’s Earth Minute: EU’s Renewable Energy Target is Destroying Forests & Worsening Climate Change

Global Justice Ecology Project partners with Margaret Prescod’s Sojourner Truth show on KPFK–Pacifica Los Angeles radio show for a weekly Earth Minute on Tuesdays and a weekly 12 minute Environment Segment every Thursday.

Go to the link below and scroll to minute 44:12 to listen to this week’s Earth Minute:

April 3, 2012 Earth Minute

Text from this week’s Earth Minute:

The European Union’s goal of providing 20% of their energy from renewable sources is coming under attack from environmentalists because of the heavy reliance on energy from burning trees.

On 29 March, a call challenging this goal was launched at the European Parliament.  It stated, “We’re paying people to cut their forests down in the name of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, yet we are actually increasing them.”

Because it is mistakenly considered ‘carbon neutral’, wood-based electricity is given numerous government subsidies in the EU, the US and elsewhere.

There is a significant gap in time, however, from when carbon is released from cutting, transporting and burning a tree–to when the carbon is re-stored by a new tree that has grown to the same size.  This carbon gap lasts for decades.

The “carbon neutral” label of wood-based energy is ironically creating intense pressure to cut and burn forests in the US and globally for energy production, threatening massive deforestation at the same time that scientists are emphasizing the crucial role forests play in stabilizing the climate.

For the Earth Minute and the Sojourner Truth show, this is Anne Petermann from Global Justice Ecology Project.

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Earth Minute, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Posts from Anne Petermann

KPFK Weekly Earth Segment Featuring Nnimmo Bassey, Nigerian Environmental Activist

Global Justice Ecology Project partners with Margaret Prescod and the Sojourner Truth show at KPFK Pacifica in Los Angeles for weekly Earth Segments and weekly Earth Minutes.

This week’s Earth Segment features Nnimmo Bassey, Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action in Nigeria, West Africa, on the Niger Delta oil disaster and on the move to replace fossil fuels with biofuels.

To listen to the Earth Segment, go to the following link and click on minute 15:35.

March 29, 2012 Earth Segment on KPFK

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Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Pollution, Water