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On September 21 between 300,000 and 400,000 people marched through New York City demanding climate action and climate justice. Here in Seattle anywhere around 2000 people gathered in solidarity with the People’s Climate March in New York to raise awareness of fossil fuel projects that threaten to turn the Pacific Northwest into a fossil fuel export hub. For more information on those projects check out the most recent report the Sightline Institute published on this topic.
The People’s Climate March in New York took place right before a U.N. one-day climate summit and aimed to demonstrate to delegates and policy makers that the time for serious climate action is now.
Climate Action, because, although we have had evidence of human caused climate change since the late 1980s, nothing meaningful has been done about it. While President Obama, acknowledges (for example speaking at the one-day climate summit) that we are the first generation to experience climate change and the last generation that is able to do something about it, his administration continues to promote the use and extraction of fossil fuels. In a 2012 speech at the Rose Garden he proudly announced that his administration had “added enough new oil and gas pipeline to circle the Earth and then some.”
Climate Justice because the people least responsible for climate change are impacted the most. A study by researchers at the University of Hawaii published in 2013 in Nature found that “Unprecedented climates will occur earliest in the tropics and among low-income countries, highlighting the vulnerability of global biodiversity and the limited governmental capacity to respond to the impacts of climate change. Our findings shed light on the urgency of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions if climates potentially harmful to biodiversity and society are to be prevented.” (Mora, C. et al. The projected timing of climate departure from recent variability. Nature 502, 183–187 (2013)).
Scientific evidence strongly suggests that to protect the American people and the rest of the world from detrimental, irreversible climate change, our government must drop its support for the fossil fuel industry. Instead of investing in pipelines, our government should invest in green energy, infrastructure, public transportation, green jobs and job training.
The Climate Knows No Border rally at the Peace Arch Park was a lot of fun with great speakers and an enthusiastic crowd of Americans and Canadians, all dedicated to the protection of the Salish Sea. The People's Climate March continues tomorrow in Seattle starting at 1 pm, Westlake Park.
Over twenty years ago representatives from 154 countries gathered in Rio for a United Nations conference often referred to as Earth Summit. It was the first of many conferences in which participants loosely agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but never formed any concrete and binding agreements that would actually accomplish a reduction in emissions.
Many of the arguments going back and forth focus on whether or not the countries that first industrialized about 200 years ago carry greater responsibility for the current state of the climate and should therefore help developing countries reduce their emissions through technology sharing and financial support. Moreover, China argues that as its emissions are the result of industrial production of goods mainly marketed in other countries, those countries share responsibility for greenhouse gases emitted in China. They do have a point – corporations have outsourced not only jobs but also pollution.
(Photograph: Stringer Shanghai/Reuters, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/jun/10/asia-pollution-emissions)
While over the last twenty years countries have been quibbling about how and who and how much to decrease emissions, emissions have continued to increase. As a result the world is now on track for a 2 degree Celsius (3.6 F) rise in average global temperature.
Two degree Celsius might not sound like much but people all over the world are already experiencing the consequences of our collective inertia. Hurricanes like Katrina and Sandy, and typhoons like Haiyan destroy lives and homes. Droughts and extreme heat waves cause crop failures, famines, and civil wars. The sad irony of climate change is that the places most impacted are home to the people least responsible for the rise of atmospheric CO2.
Next week another UN Climate summit will be taking place in New York City. People from all over the world are coming together on September 21 in New York for the People’s Climate March to demand fast and meaningful action to stop and mitigate climate change. Here in Seattle the rally starts at 1 pm at Westlake Park.
Last Saturday I attended one of the regularly occurring Art Build events organized by Lisa Marcus of 350 Seattle and Backbone Campaign. Quite a few people showed up to color, paint, draw, and cut out letters for large banners that will be displayed at the Climate Knows No Borders rally on September 20 at the Peace Arch Park on the US/Canadian border.
We made a set of stencils of all the letters of the alphabet that will travel with Lisa on the People’s Climate Train (http://peoplesclimatetrain.weebly.com/ ) to New York city where they will be used to make banners. There will be two more Art Builds prior to the People's Climate March events - Peace Arch Park, Sep 20 and in Seattle, Sep 21. The first one will take take place from noon to 3 pm this Wednesday, Sep 3 at the Powerhouse in Fremont. The second one will take place at the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center, most likely from 11 am to 2 pm, before the launch of the Nawt-sa-maat Alliance to protect the Salish Sea.
The Revolving Door threatens our democracy and nothing demonstrates this better than the current assault on Net Neutrality, a national issue that impacts all of us and is important to me, personally. https://www.utexas.edu/lbj/rhodesprp/01_02/divide/dereg.htm The legal basis for Net Neutrality, the concept that Internet service providers cannot discriminate and purposely deliver data from selected sites faster or slower, comes from the original classification of the Internet as a “common carrier” network regulated under Title II of the Communications Act. http://www.commlawblog.com/tags/title-ii/
In 2002 Michael Powell, then chairman of the FCC, classified broadband Internet access as information service, which is not subject to the same protections as common carrier service. His successor at the FCC then proceeded to apply this designation to all Internet access services and, to compensate, issued regulations that were supposed to uphold Net Neutrality.
These rules, however, did not hold up to legal scrutiny and were recently struck down by a federal court. In response, Tom Wheeler, current chairman of the FCC, came out with a regulatory proposal that, while ostensibly aimed to protect Net Neutrality, would allow Internet service providers to charge content providers for faster delivery of their data. In practice this means that large content providers like Netflix can cut deals with, say, Comcast, to ensure reliable delivery of their content, leaving smaller companies with less financial clout behind. In fact shortly after the court ruling Netflix actually did make such a deal with Comcast. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/24/business/media/comcast-and-netflix-reach-a-streaming-agreement.html
Thanks to FCC’s deregulation of the telecommunications industry, all done in the name of promoting competition but resulting in exactly the opposite, Internet access is now controlled by monopolies - just consider how many Internet options Seattle residents have. https://www.utexas.edu/lbj/rhodesprp/01_02/divide/dereg.htm
But this is not enough for corporations like Comcast who would like to be able to gouge the market at both ends: charge us to access the Internet and charge content providers to access us. And the Revolving Door has certainly been helpful to cable companies. Michael Powell, the FCC chairman who classified broadband internet access as information service, thus excepting it from the protection of Title II, now heads the National Cable and Telecommunications Association. Tom Wheeler headed the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association before becoming chairman of the FCC.
What can you do? Leave a comment with the FCC: http://www.fcc.gov/comments under 10-127 Framework for Broadband Internet Service and/or 14-28 Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet. Alternatively, you can send an email with your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or sign the ACLU’s petition: https://www.aclu.org/secure/FCC_preserve_net_neutrality?ms=web_acluaction_netneutrality_140129