Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Citizens Lobby with Life on the Brink

Life on the Brink ...approaching the vanishing point for climate hope. As emissions hit new record, Citizens Climate Lobby Exec. Dir. Mark Reynolds teaches people to lobby the government for sane policy, like Hansen's "Tax and Dividend". Philip Cafaro on new book "Life on the Brink: Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation." Radio Ecoshock 130313 1 hour.


Listen to/download this Radio Ecoshock show in CD Quality (56 MB) or Lo-Fi (14 MB)

Listen to/download the Mark Reynolds interview (27 minutes) in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

Listen to/download the Phil Cafaro inteview (25 minutes) in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


Kiss your old climate good-bye. That's the word from scientists and measuring agencies on all fronts.

John Vidal of the Guardian was among the first to report that measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere at Hawaii's Mauna Loa observatory hit an all-time new high in February 2013 at 396.8 parts per million.

We are pumping out greenhouse gases as ever faster rates. The increase in 2012 was 2.67 parts per million. That is the second highest on record.

As hope for a "safe" climate "fade away", Mark Reynolds of the Citizens Climate Lobby shows how we can overcome the fossil fuel lobby machine. I didn't believe that either, until Mark explained what they do.

Then a fine new book of essays by environmentalists, some well-known, others new, on the untouchable issue: population. The IPCC knows over-population is one of TWO main drivers of climate change. Why do they only talk about fossil fuels? Why does almost every green group duck talking population (and immigration reform)? Not on Radio Ecoshock, where Philip Cafaro talks about "Life on the Brink".



We are pumping out greenhouse gases as ever faster rates. The increase in 2012 was 2.67 parts per million. That is the second highest on record. The highest was in 1998 at 2.93 parts per million when the Indonesian peat fires made that developing country the third largest emitter in the world.

Scientists used to say we were increasing at 2 parts per million annually. Models were based on that. Now it's heading toward three, and increasing incrementally. The head of the gas measurement program at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Pieter Tans said the increase is from fossil fuel burning, and our chances of staying below the 2 degree C safe level are "fading away".

Other researchers from Oregon State University, published in the journal Science, quote " during the last 5,000 years, the Earth on average cooled about 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit–until the last 100 years, when it warmed about 1.3 degrees F."

Earth is hotter now than it has been for the past eleven thousand years.

So it's on. Should we just cry about it? Probably. But in this program I'll bring you two voices who claim we could still save a livable Earth. They won't give up on the outside chance humanity could turn back toward survival.

Is the fossil fuel lobby too powerful? Start your own lobby. Mark Reynolds tells us how.

Then we'll talk about the unspeakable. Did you know the IPCC admits there are TWO main drivers behind climate change, but only looks at one? Solar power, wind power, carbon capture and storage, nuclear energy, tech, tech, tech, but our guest Philip Cafaro, editor of the new book "Life On the Brink" is ready to face the nasty issues politicians and environmentalists agree should never be mentioned.

Hot Radio for unstable times. I'm Alex Smith. This is Radio Ecoshock.


Mark Reynolds, Executive Director

All the big corporations have lobbyists in Washington. Every Member of Congress has a posse of lobbyists who visit, make donations, or take them on golf vacations in exotic places. And that's not just in America, but in pretty well every country.

When it comes to climate, who lobbies for us? Who will speak for our descendants? Our guest is Mark Reynolds. He's the Executive Director of the non-profit group called the Citizens Climate Lobby.

We find out Citizen's Climate Lobby teaches people how to lobby their political representatives. It's mainly aimed at American legislators, but there is a Canadian chapter as well. This technique could work in any pseudo-Democratic country.

People gather and get a workshop on how lobbying works. It was modelled after the successful "BUILD" lobby blitz, that brought U.S. funding to fight Third World poverty up from practically nothing to many millions of dollars. After the workshop, there are once-a-month conference calls which feature some expert speakers (like Dr. James Hansen of NASA), plus drills in how to get results with elected representatives.

People also learn how to mount an effective campaign of letters to the editor or op-ed writing. Reynolds say politicians really monitor such things. These groups also try to get many different voices on board. Mark suggests someone from the military, or a preacher, may be quite effective when visiting the politician in their home riding. Once a year they do a full blitz on Washington, trying to see every Senator and Congressman about climate change.

Don't just preach to them, says Reynolds. Listen. Find common ground, something you can relate to, before going.

I know my listeners are already asking themselves a lot of hard questions about this. For starters, the people who control the current House of Representatives in America have publicly stated climate change is a hoax, most likely a plot to tax and ruin American freedom. Do climate lobbyists talk to Tea Party denialists?

Indeed they do. The Citizens Climate Lobby has visited climate denier Senator Inhofe from Oklahoma several times. Reynolds has a good story about that in our interview.

What is the Climate Lobby pushing for? Certainly not bogus solutions like carbon trading. They advocate the "Fee and Dividend" approach suggested by James Hansen. People do pay a "tax" on carbon (raising the price of gas for example). But ALL that money is kept away from government. Instead it is paid back to every citizen in a cheque which eases the pain of paying more. I call it bribing people to do the right thing, with their own money.

During the interview, Reynolds mentions "the Pigou club" Find out more on Pigou here, and the club's founder and premise here. Wiki says:

"[Greg] Mankiw has become an influential figure in the Blogosphere and online journalism since launching his blog. The blog, originally designed to assist his Ec10 students, has gained a readership that extends far beyond students of introductory economics. In particular, he has used it as a platform to advocate the implementation of pigovian taxes such as a revenue-neutral carbon tax; to this end Mankiw founded the informal Pigou Club."

Here is an op-ed by Mark Reynolds, explaining how Republicans could support this climate action plan.

I'm so disgusted with politics, I woulnd't believe this lobby idea could work. But Reynolds mostly convinced me this IS a worthwhile effort. Listen to the interview. Check out this workshop with Mark Reynolds on You tube. Then visit citizensclimatelobby.org


Philip Cafaro, Colorado State University

The melting Arctic, that's far enough away. Electric cars or solar cities, that's far enough away too. But talk about fewer babies, those lovable babies, or stopping immigration, and maybe state control of family size - those are bombs that stimulate a kind of self-censorship even greens go along with. Start talking about population control, and even the best listeners start reaching to change stations.

When I add that our guest Philip Cafaro specializes in "ethics", that doesn't help. Ethics is hardly the hot buzzword of the day on TV or social media.

So Philip, we have about thirty seconds to convince our great Radio Ecoshock listeners they need to hear this conversation. Why drag up population, immigration, and birth control, just when we're finally getting the public on board with the reality of climate change?

Personally, I think there is a deep and embedded form of self-censorship at work here. I didn't really look foward to doing this program. The whole issue makes me uncomfortable and unpopular, and that's the point. Stopping climate catastrophe is not all happy thoughts and popularity.

Philip teaches philosophy in Fort Collins, at Colorado State University. He's the co-editor of a new collection of essays called "Life on the Brink, Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation." The contributors are real green leaders, some of them already guests on Radio Ecoshock, like Albert Bartlett, Lester Brown, and Paul Ehrlich. In the book, we hear from the academics, but from activists too, like Dave Foreman of Earth First!, and Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Society.

We start with the contentious issue of immigration. In the United States, new polls show millions of Latinos are concerned about climate change. Now this book seems to be saying we should stop immigration. This is a hot issue not just in the U.S., but in Australia, Canada, the UK, and most developed countries in Europe. Why oh why, would environmentalists get involved in immigration debates? After all, the immigration debate nearly wrecked the Sierra Club of California at one point.

The trouble is: population growth is real and relentless. We can duck it, and the millions more keep coming every month. Earth hit 7 billion humans in 2012, and will be at 8 billion before 2024. The stats are real and undeniable.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says there are TWO major causes of climate change. One is fossil fuel burning, agriculture and deforestation. The other, though they never talk more about it, is population. Pure and simple.

Phil Cafaro, co-editor of the new book "Life on the Brink: Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation" pulls no punches. It's now or never to stop humans from over-running the last of the planet, last stop before die-off.

We could do something about it. It's not quite time to give up. Anyway, giving up is not an option.

Our guest Philip Cafaro is also the president of the International Society for Environmental Ethics, and president of the board of directors of Progressives for Immigration Reform.

The other editor of "Life on the Brink" is Eileen Crist, from Virginia Tech, known for her book "Gaia in Turmoil." The book is published by University of Georgia Press.


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Coming up on Radio Ecoshock: the new wave of low-energy homes, and new waves of rising seas - is it still safe to live near the Coast? Plus a suRprise guest who always puts Earth first.

We'll have to squeeze that in with some powerful talks from the conference in New York City organized by the Helen Caldicott Foundation and Physicians for Social Responsibility on March 11th, 2013, two years after the triple melt down in Japan.

Expect recordings from the conference "The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident" in upcoming Radio Ecoshock shows.

People who subscribe to our podcast should have received a taste with my special news podcast "Poisoned Flag: US Sailors Nuked by Fukushima". Two U.S. sailors tell their stories of being poisoned with radioactivity aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan during the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan.

It's a harrowing tale of being exposed to radiation blowing from Fukushima, over a period of two months, as close as one mile from shore. They were not told of the accident until weeks later, were never properly tested for exposure, received no preventative treatment, and even now get no medical help from the Navy. Allegedly forced to sign waivers releasing the Navy from any responsibility, the pair are among more than a hundred American sailors suing TEPCO, the Japanese nuclear plant operator.

If you missed this 28 minute press briefing from New York, download it here in CD Quality, or in Lo-Fi.

Even CBS News covered it. (Caution: this page can be slow to load, and puts you through an ad first, but still, you get to see the Vets talking Fukushima on TV...)

I don't do many between-shows news broadcasts, but if you want to receive them, click on the podcast symbol at our web site, ecoshock.org. That way you'll be sure to get all our programs, plus the extra podcasts that only go out to subscribers!

At the end of this week's show I squeeze in part of another song from Nimbin Australia. The group is Pagan Love Cult. It's their CSG Song, meaning coal seam gas, also known as fracking methane.

Find some of their music here.

I'm Alex Smith. Thank you for listening.

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