Tag Archives: Obama

KPFK Earth Watch: Rhetoric versus reality in President Obama’s State of the Union speech

kpfk_logoAnne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project, discusses President Obama’s comments on energy and climate change in Wednesday’s State of the Union address.

You can read Anne’s blog post on the SOTU address here.

Global Justice Ecology Project teams up with the Sojourner Truth show on KPFK radio for a weekly Earth Minute and Earth Watch interview.

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Filed under Climate Change, Earth Radio, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Greenwashing

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

Obama’s green agenda seen through Vermont eyes

Note: Will Bennington, featured in the article below, is Development and Campaigns Associate with Global Justice Ecology Project’s Vermont office.  He is also a volunteer organizer with Rising Tide Vermont.  Bennington has not listened to Obama’s speech, and doesn’t plan to.  Instead, along with GJEP Executive Director Anne Petermann, he went straight to the actual policy document.  Apparently, other environmentalists in Vermont would prefer to chew on the rhetoric instead of digesting the facts, which are more coal, more nukes, more fracking, more industrial biofuels and more false solutions taking us over the climate cliff.

-The GJEP Team

By Joel Baird, June 25, 2013. Source: Burlington Free Press

Energy efficiency isn’t a bold, new idea in Vermont. Nor is the quest for renewable energy and cleaner air.

But Green Mountain environmental activists took keen notice of President Obama’s unveiling Tuesday afternoon of a new, national climate action plan.

Within minutes of the speech’s conclusion, author Bill McKibben, a Ripton resident and founder of the global 350.org movement, issued a single, simple email.

In response to Obama’s remark that approval of the Keystone XL tar-sand pipeline from Alberta, Canada, hinged on its contribution to increases in greenhouse gas levels (a widely acknowledged outcome), McKibben wrote: “This is an appropriate standard that the president appears to be setting.”
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Filed under Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Hydrofracking, Nuclear power, Oil, Pollution, REDD, Tar Sands

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

As international talks stall, Romney, Obama omit climate change from debates

Note: Free Speech Radio News interviewed Executive Director Anne Petermann of Global Justice Ecology Project for this story.  –The GJEP Team

October 23, 2012. Source: Free Speech Radio News

In the final debate between President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney, the conversation veered from Middle East foreign policy to education to the upcoming threat of a budget sequester. But despite a campaign season marked by droughts, natural disasters, resource-driven conflicts and failed global carbon negotiations, both candidates were completely silent on climate change. Some environmental experts say the increasingly unstable climate will impact nearly every major issue the next president must tackle, including key decisions in US foreign policy. FSRN’s Alice Ollstein reports.

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Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, Earth Radio, False Solutions to Climate Change, Independent Media, Posts from Anne Petermann

Climate Agreement Reached (or not…)

Below are my initial impressions upon listening to Barack Obama’s announcement about the so-called agreement reached in Copenhagen.  Tune in tomorrow for a full analysis of the negotiations and the outcomes.

Initial reactions:

* This was a total subversion of the UNFCCC COP process.  The Obama Administration succeeded in throwing aside the legally binding Kyoto Protocol, and the two track process agreed in Bali.

* The agreement reached is not only undemocratic, it is not legally binding, it is voluntary, and its commitments made on a country by country basis.
* Obama made an agreement with “key players” in the game and essentially flipped off the rest–especially the ALBA countries.  The African countries were outraged by the backroom dealings with Ethiopia by Obama and by France–which were carried out in the name of all of Africa without their consent.
Is Global Justice Ecology Project shocked at these developments?  Nope.  It is business as usual, as predicted.  This was the reason we participated in the founding of Climate Justice Action and the organizing of the Reclaim Power action that brought together social movements around the world to begin to discuss what the new world we know we need will look like.
More tomorrow,
Anne Petermann
Executive Director

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Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, Copenhagen/COP-15, Posts from Anne Petermann

Dennis Brutus poem ‘Gull’ (Copenhagen conference)

Below you will find a short video followed by a bio whose limited capacity could not fully capture the life of the South African activist poet Dennis Brutus.

I have included a video of him speaking on his poetry and the Copenhagen climate conference (cop-15) that is fast approaching, and in the words of Dennis Brutus “we have to get ready for the fight for the survival of the planet… and Copenhagen has to be the place where the fight begins.”

Another compelling interview with Dennis Brutus HERE

Dennis Brutus, poet, scholar and famous anti-apartheid activist, shot in the back by the white controlling regime of South Africa, who served time with Nelson Mandela at Robben Island, recently encouraged that we should all ‘Seattle Copenhagen’.

While still in South Africa, Brutus was forbidden to teach, write and publish there.. Sirens, Knuckles and Boots, his first collection of poetry, was published in Nigeria while he was in prison. The book was awarded the Mbari Poetry Prize, awarded to a black poet of distinction, but Brutus turned it down on the grounds of its racial exclusivity.[2]

After he was released, Brutus fled South Africa. In 1983, Brutus won the right to stay in the United States as a political refugee, after a protracted legal struggle. He was “unbanned” in 1990. He is the Professor Emeritus of University of Pittsburgh.[3] He has now returned to South Africa and is based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal where he often contributes to the annual Poetry Africa Festival hosted by the University. He continues to support activism against neo-liberal policies in contemporary South Africa through working with NGOs.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Copenhagen/COP-15

Let’s Seattle CorporateHaven!

by Orin Langelle, Co-Director and Strategist from the Global Justice Ecology Project

Dennis Brutus, poet, scholar and famous anti-apartheid activist, shot in the back by the white controlling regime of South Africa, who served time with Nelson Mandela at Robben Island, recently encouraged that we should all ‘Seattle Copenhagen’.  This is in reference to actions a decade ago when activists shut down the World Trade Organization negotiations in Seattle.

He is on the mark, as the Copenhagen UN climate talks scheduled for this December have been hijacked by corporations.  Copenhagen is no more than a CorporateHaven for trade talks by corporations.

But what does “Seattle Copenhagen” mean?  Well to those who understand our history, it is obvious. But to tell you the truth, I was thousands of miles away when tens of thousands of anti-corporate globalization activists, labor unionists, environmentalists and anarchists halted the march forward of the trade model of neoliberal capitalism in Seattle: a harbinger of modern day resistance.

So where was I when this historic moment occurred?  Why wasn’t I in Seattle, where in the words of friend and songwriter, Jim Page, “Didn’t we shut it down?”  For what it’s worth, I was with other solidarity activists in the Selva Lacandona of Chiapas, Mexico visiting indigenous Zapatista communities of resistance, that had declared their autonomy from Mexican governmental authority. That resistance resonated around the world on New Years day in 1994–the day the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) took effect–when the indigenous resistance movement (EZLN) said “¡Ya Basta!” (enough!) and took control of most of the state of Chiapas, including the municipal offices in San Cristobal and other major cities, freeing political prisoners while while taking control of their land.

Another cry heard from campesinos and indigenous in a resistance movement many years earlier in Mexico  was, ‘Tierra y Libertad’.

Tierra y Libertad.  Land and Freedom.  It all boils down to who controls the land and what it is used for.

But I digress.  Back in 1999, after we dodged the Mexican military on the way out of rebel territory, we returned to San Cristobal (a city of intrigue with many different foreign service observers embedded in the secrecy of obscure hostels and bars) on the day after the shut down in Seattle.  Our Mexican colleagues from the above ground resistance in San Cris saw us and waved the front page of the leftist La Jornada daily newspaper in front of us that showed a photo of U.S. police pointing weapons and spraying tear gas at protesters in Seattle.  Our friends exclaimed, “It’s about fucking time you people in the United States did something for the rest of the world and got off your asses!”  We smiled.  Sometimes in this corporate dominated world something happens that you can really smile about.

Okay, so I’m not a seasoned Seattle veteran. However, two weeks prior to Seattle, a team of us went to Toronto, Canada where one of the first Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) ministerial meetings took place.  The FTAA is a neoliberal scam designed to expand the disaster of NAFTA and control production, land and people from Alaska all the way to Tierra del Fuego–encompassing all of the Americas.  At the Toronto Convention Center where the trade ministers were meeting we unfurled at 600 square foot banner decrying, “Stop the FTAA!”  To us, unfurling the FTAA banner was a warning shot over the bow of a runaway capitalistic death ship headed for oblivion. To us, the reformist notion of rearranging the deck chairs of this Capitalist Titanic is intensely absurd.

So we fired a warning shot with the words, “Stop the FTAA.”  Was it was heard?  Well that’s a matter of bizarre existentialist thought. Seattle was indeed shut down.  Afterwards did the WTO continue?  Sort of– but then in Cancun, Mexico a Korean farmer committed suicide on the barricades during the 2003 WTO ministerial in Cancun  There the cry was “WTO kills farmers.” Where does the does the WTO flounder now?  Ten years after, in Geneva, on the tenth anniversary of the WTO shutdown and a week before the Climate talks in Copenhagen, a limp attempt will be made to revive it.

Did our struggle against the FTAA succeed?   Yes, but… A Miami Model, named for the city that in November of 2003 hosted the FTAA ministerial meeting and saw the police unleash extreme violence against activists.  The Miami Model of repression, still practiced by the U.S. government today, basically denies the right of protest in the U.S. (unless you consider protest an expression “permitted” and/or behind razor wire and cages).  The almost-stop of the FTAA has produced the rash of bilateral trade scams that former U.S. trade representative (and co-author of the Neoliberal blueprint “Project for a New American Century”), Robert Zoellick, now World Bank President, has fostered.

So get ready for CorporateHaven.  This possibly is one of final gatherings where all the players with stakes in their neoliberal trade games will come together again to conduct their high stakes gambling with all of life on earth to squeeze out every final dollar.   As the planet burns, the questions haunts, “which side are you on?”  To me it doesn’t matter if we shut the ‘self appointed governmental-corporate leadership’ out of the climate negotiations or shut them in–what matters is that we take responsibility to ensure the Earth is inhabitable for all with justice. That is our challenge and that is our struggle.

It really boils down to who controls the land and what it is used for, doesn’t it?  Remember, CorporateHaven is only a symptom of the bigger problem.  It is this bigger problem that must be shut down.  We don’t need to go to Copenhagen to solve the big problem, CorporateHaven is in your own backyard.

For more information on what North American activists are planning for the road to CorporateHaven, please visit the Mobilization for Climate Justice http://www.actforclimatejustice.org/

For more information on Global Justice Ecology Project please visit http://globaljusticeecology.org/

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Filed under Climate Change, Photo Essays by Orin Langelle