Do you realize most of this world is in water crisis?

The global water crisis that is now leaving much of this world in danger is an issue we don't see covered much if at all. I think the time has come to change all of that...

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What Do Our Choices Mean?

May 13 2006

I have been through anxiety attacks before.  Mostly concerning a final exam worth half my mark the next day, or perhaps a solo violin performance, or maybe meeting a child-hood idol.  But I have never experienced anxiety when booking travel - until yesterday.

Here I am booking travel with a group to a conference on sustainable solutions and all 15 other members from my region decided to hop on a plane.  I am shocked, but then I start thinking about our ability to carbon offset and think of all the times I have flown before, and start to think that it's really not a big deal if I fly again this time.  

Then the voice in the back of my head starts yelling at me and telling me I am a hypocrite for working to slow climate change while flying to a conference on sustainable solutions when I could be part of a sustainable solution by taking the train instead.  Long story short, I decide to take the total of 44 hours on a train and miss two days of classes in order to attend what I hope to be a very educational experience. Why did I feel this way? Millions of people fly every single day. Do I think I am actually going to make a difference by not filling that one seat on the sale-flight on Air Canada that is going to take-off with or without me?

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A Message from the Mayor of Salt Lake City

Several commentators have recently expressed profound pessimism about the possibility of addressing the challenges posed by catastrophic climate change. Some have argued that current technology is insufficient to address the problem, and that we can only hope for an as-yet unknown technological panacea to effectively combat global warming.

Our experience in Salt Lake City shows that individuals, businesses, and governments on every level can employ measures available with current technology to address the serious challenges of global warming. On the eve of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, I committed Salt Lake City to reduce global warming pollution from municipal operations by seven percent by 2012, in accordance with the Kyoto Protocol. Last year, we surpassed our Kyoto goal, seven years early. Salt Lake City's efforts in improving efficiency and sustainability can be easily undertaken by other municipal, state, and federal governments, and lead to significant cost savings.

An op-ed I authored on how climate change can be effectively addressed at the local level, using current technology, appeared in the Arizona Daily Star and other newspapers through the McClatchy-Tribune Wire. The op-ed is available here: The Arizona Star also published an accompanying editorial enumerating effective solutions on the local level to the problem of disastrous climate change, available here:

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Strip-mining the Grassroots (conclusion): Toward a progressive canvass model

bumped - Matt


(This will be the final post in this series. I apologize for the delay -- my time was taken first by YearlyKos and then in preparation for my next series.)

Grassroots Campaigns Inc's canvassers are out in twenty some-odd cities right now, wearing Democratic National Committee t-shirts and asking citizens if they 'want to help end the Republican majority.' They tell people that they are 'working to build support for this November's elections'; they imply that they are part of the DNC's 50 State Strategy, and they claim that a 'big show of grassroots energy' in the x days before the election will ensure victory for the party. Finally, they say the best way to help is with a $100 check made out to the DNC.

This is all rather misleading.

First of all, GCI's canvass campaign is entirely separate from the DNC's 50 State Strategy (more about this separation here, 1/3 of the way down); it's not a field organizing operation, but a financial base-building operation. And as with most base-building operations, most of this money will actually go to cover the canvassers' own overhead -- the DNC's benefit is primarily in the long-term, from the new donors added to its membership rolls. When it comes to influencing the 2006 election, those $100 checks would be far more effective if given directly to state or local parties.

The underlying justification for the campaign is that each donation is an investment that strengthens the donor's bond with the Democratic party. But so far in this series, I have  argued that this is an unhealthy investment relationship. These canvassers are not trained to articulate the Democratic party's message, and they are uninformed about the state and local politics. They are instructed to direct every conversation towards the maximum possible donation, and to cut off conversations that don't appear to be headed that way. The young, passionate management staff works for less than minimum wage, 12 to 15 hours a day, seven days a week, and almost inevitably burns itself out. The result is a system that is efficient at getting names onto a list -- but at what cost?   

This canvass campaign is adopted from the same model (developed by the PIRGs/Fund for Public Interest Research) that has driven much of the non-profit progressive world for decades. Some have argued that this model of activism is a fatal shortcut that has inadvertently helped to strand the Left in a quagmire of civic disengagement. But we need models for effective collective action, now more than ever. This post will look for a way forward, towards a professional, sustainable, progressive model. (It will be specific to the DNC's campaign, but I believe it's an example of the kind of rethinking that is needed throughout the world of this model.)

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Economic Growth IS BAD for the environment

A few weeks ago, Scott alerted us to the anti-environment lies and drivel that Richard Pombo is spreading through the House Committee on Resources website.  The site is disgusting propaganda under the guise of official US policy.

Scott made one comment though which I cannot let pass without more discussion:

Last time I checked, "[e]conomic growth harms the environment" was not one of the chief claims being put forward by the environmental movement. Rather, it seems to me that the exact opposite claim has been repeatedly made by mainstream environmentalists, that development of new, more environmentally responsible technologies can help to grow the economy.

In fact, economic growth does harm the environment and this is beginning to be addressed by ecologists and environmentalists, including The Wildlife Society, for example.

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