Environmental Activism Opportunities

  • .@BeyondCoal via @SierraClub — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: the Sierra Club's "Beyond Coal” Campaign.

    Climate actions and campaigns can seem overwhelming in scope. But while few in the media were paying attention, the grassroots organizing and smart strategizing of the Beyond Coal campaign has made shutting down the dirtiest energy source in the country look almost easy.

    The main goals of the Sierra Club campaign are to keep coal in the ground in Appalachia and elsewhere, move municipalities to clean energy, and successfully retire one-third of the nation’s 500-some coal plants by 2020. Last week, they celebrated the closing of the 200th plant, leaving 323 on their targeted list.

    This is a major victory for both health and optics reasons. Coal is responsible for one-third of US emissions while making us unnecessarily sick. As many as 13,000 premature deaths and more than $100 billion in health care costs annually are attributed to coal. Hitting even just the hallway mark — which is practically around the corner — would make a massive difference in the lives of millions while proving that transitioning from dirty to clean energy is not the impossibility it was once portrayed as.

    Bruce Nilles, ‎senior campaign director for Beyond Coal, explained the importance of last week’s milestone to Kate Sheppard at The Huffington Post:

    "Back in 2009, the prevailing wisdom was that coal was inevitable, that the U.S. would be burning coal for a long time. We set out to show that you can make a lot of progress even without a climate bill.”

    The Sierra Club is still, of course, pushing the administration to follow through on promises to be proactive. Their “Speak Out For a Strong Clean Power Plan” petition — which can be found at SierraClub.org. — is flooding the administration with support ahead of the expected push back on the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan from fossil fuel billionaire. Through the petition page you can sign; tweet to the EPA with the hashtag #ActOnClimate; post the campaign to your other social network feeds; get involved in specific coal plan closing action in your state; and connect to other campaigns.

    Join with Beyond Coal and help push them over the tipping point to achieving an end to our dirtiest energy source.


    SIGN & SHARE: Speak Out For a Strong Clean Power Plan with the The Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign

    Get involved in your state through Beyond Coal’s Take Action Page

    Sources/further reading:

    “United States Phases Out 200th Coal Plant As Momentum For Renewable Energy Grows” via The Sierra Club

    "Iowa Utility Will Phase Out Coal At 5 Plants, In Milestone For Sierra Club” by Katie Sheppard via Huffington Post

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #940 "What we are facing and how we are fighting (Climate)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Ban Fracking on Public Lands via @foodandwater — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Ban Fracking on Public Lands.

    While an outright ban on fracking would probably be the best plan for the environment and our drinking water, managing to pass a ban that prohibits the practice on public lands would go a long way toward curbing its effects.

    Representative Mark Pocan of Wisconsin reintroduced his bill to do just that last week — on Earth Day, in fact. Food & Water Watch is supporting the "Protect Our Public Lands Act of 2015” to both reduce the impact on the climate and to keep the areas around our national parks and monuments from being destroyed.

    According to Food & Water Watch, at the end of 2014 oil and gas companies had leases on over 34 million acres of public land and over 200 million more are being targeted for drilling. Serious damage has already been done; habitat destruction and the potential for damage to parks and monuments is only increasing.

    You can visit FoodAndWaterWatch.org’s “Take Action” tab to add your name and — as always — use ContactingTheCongress.org to let your legislators know you support Rep Pocan’s bill, so they should sign on as co-sponsors.

    California is especially impacted by the water required to fuel the fracking process. The drought and Governor Brown’s mandatory 25% statewide reduction in water use is getting national attention, but most news outlets are missing the exemptions to agriculture and energy. According to Reuters, California used 70 million gallons of water to frack in 2014. DeSmog Blog reports that the oil industry insists it’s a “responsible user of water.” But if things are dire enough to limit household use, perhaps exemptions aren’t prudent.

    Clean Water Action — at CleanWater.org — has a petition calling for Governor Brown to impose a moratorium. If you’re a resident of the state, you can sign on to contact him through the link on their home page. And anyone can use the “contact us” links at CA.gov to let them know what impacts one state effects everyone.


    SIGN and share: Ban Fracking on Public Lands! via Food & Water Watch to support Rep Mark Pocan’s legislation

    Use ContactingTheCongress.org to let your legislators know you expect them to support Rep. Mark Pocan's Protect Our Public Lands Act of 2015.

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    SIGN and share: "Tell Governor Brown: Fracking Moratorium now!” via Clean Water Action

    Contact Governor Brown directly: Mail/Phone/Email

    Sources/further reading:

    "The Urgent Case for a Ban on Fracking” via Food & Water Watch

    "Exclusive: California used 70 million gallons of water in fracking in 2014” at Reuters

    "How Much Water Does The California Oil Industry Actually Use?” via DeSmog Blog

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #917 "The water wars start at home (Climate) "

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Cap and Dividend For a Healthy Climate via @CCAN — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Cap and Dividend For a Healthy Climate.

    The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is backing legislation that compliments the usual activism we tell you about. It’s a really neat idea that people should be excited to get behind and draw attention to. Bonus: it’s easy to describe and explain to even the nonpolitical folks in your networks.

    Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland has introduced the “Healthy Climate and Family Security Act of 2015” — or H.R. 1027 for those who like the technical, wonky stuff. It creates what CCAN calls:

    “[A] simple, fair, and built-to-last policy solution to reduce the carbon and other heat-trapping emissions now harming our climate while boosting the income of most American families.”

    By requiring polluters to pay for bringing oil, gas, or coal into the U.S. market, companies are de-incentivized from using dirty energy and revenue which is then paid out to everyone with a valid Social Security number. Think of it the way Alaska pays out oil sharing revenue to its residents.

    Visit ClimateAndProsperity.org where you can sign the petition supporting Rep. Van Hollen’s plan to boost the economy while preserving the climate and call on your representatives to co-sposor the bill. Cosponsors build allyships and pull other representatives into the fight during the current legislative session and beyond — so that’s an important emphasis with a GOP-lead Congress.

    You can also volunteer or get your group or organization involved by signing on as part of the coalition supporting the bill. Current endorsers vary from local to national, environmental and consumer, and social and economic justice-focused groups.

    Corporations clearly don’t respect anything unless it costs money. It’s time they respected climate impact by having to consider the price tag while making decisions on energy-use. Changing the way businesses approach consumption while reducing CO2 by 80% over the next 35 years and raising money for those who need it most would be a cross-category win.


    SIGN: "Tell Congress: Act on Climate by Passing Cap-And-Dividend” via Chesapeake Climate Action Network

    Visit the TAKE ACTION tab at Climate and Prosperity to volunteer or join the coalition.

    Sources/further reading:

    "FACT SHEET: The Healthy Climate and Family Security Act of 2014” via Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)

    "Cap and Dividend Bill Introduced In Congress (VIDEO)” via Green Action News

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #909 "Debunking the doubters (Climate)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Curbing #FactoryFarming via @ASPCA & @UN — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Curbing Factory Farming.

    No matter your dietary needs or preferences, one thing we should all be able to agree on is that factory farms are a nightmare of cruelty and planet destruction. If you believe in science and evidence and facts, the United Nations has pretty much ended the debate on whether a human-friendly climate can handle the rate of animal agriculture we’re attempting to impose upon it.

    Senior UN Food and Agriculture Organization official Henning Steinfeld delivered this unequivocal assessment:

    “Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems. Urgent action is required to remedy the situation.”

    The UN report continues by calling out cattle-rearing specifically as a “major source of land and water degradation.” Not only do humans need to slow down the rate of growth around the world of factory farming, but the UN warns that “[t]he environmental costs per unit of livestock production must be cut by one half, just to avoid the level of damage worsening beyond its present level.”

    If we as progressives are going to yell at hard-line conservatives for not listening to us on the need to build transit, cap carbon, and stop drilling for oil and natural gas, perhaps we should pause to hear what international scientists have been screaming about in unison for almost a decade.

    According to the UN report:

    "When emissions from land use and land use change are included, the livestock sector accounts for 9 per cent of CO2 deriving from human-related activities, but produces a much larger share of even more harmful greenhouse gases. It generates 65% of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2. Most of this comes from manure.”

    The good news is that there are organizations fighting factory farming in virtually every country. If you don’t live in the U.S. or do and are looking for a local group in your city and state, you can search at World Animal.net/directory. And if you are in the states, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals — better known as the ASPCA — has 10 ways to fight factory farming under their “fight cruelty” tab at ASPCA.org.

    Among the suggestions at the ASPCA are:

    “Let Money Talk” by using their guide to finding animal welfare certification labels; if the products are raised ethically, they likely don’t come from a factory farm.

    “Ask Local Grocers and Restaurants to Offer Foods that are More Humanely Raised.” This one shouldn’t be such a tough ask anymore as awareness of the local food movement has made it to most areas.

    “Take Action in Your Community” by starting petitions and letter-writing campaigns or organizing a local group and educating kids on food and farming ethics.

    ...and the increasingly popular: “If You See Something, Say Something.” Factory farm conditions aren’t just unsafe for the climate and the animals, they are often unsafe for workers. You can join up with labor organizers, immigration activists and others who’s constituencies overlap with your concerns about farming practices.

    You can also check out the Humane Society’s factory farming campaign at HumaneSociety.org and sign their “Protect Farm Animals” petition.


    10 Ways You Can Fight Factory Farms via The ASPCA

    Fight Factory Farming via The Humane Society

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Sign: Protect Farm Animals petition from The Humane Society

    Use the WorldAnimalNet directory HERE to find anti-factory farm as well as animal rescue/adoption organizations in your country, state, and city.

    Sources/further reading:

    "Rearing cattle produces more greenhouse gases than driving cars, UN report warns” via the United Nations News Centre

    Farm Animal Cruelty — ASPCA facts on factory farms

    "How to Stop the Next Pandemic: End Factory Farming” by Thom Hartmann via Truthout

    Watch: “Us & The Planet” video from Animals Australia at #MakeItPossible

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #905 "Personal, societal and environmental health (Food System)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Global Divestment Day via @350 - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: 350.org’s Global Divestment Day.

    The typically on-point Naomi Klein sums up the need for this action quite well:

    "Are fossil fuel companies — long toxic to our natural environment — becoming toxic in the public relations environment as well? It seems so.”

    Despite science, despite polling, despite even the Pope getting on board with the need to curb climate change — the prevalence of massive piles of money available to legislators, networks, educational institutions, and publishing outlets is keeping projects like the Keystone XL pipeline at the top of to-do lists.

    Last month the House of Representatives voted 266 to 153 to pass Keystone and the Senate followed last week with a strong, but not quite veto-proof majority of 62-36. Yes, that means some democrats voted in favor of the pipeline. The president has vowed to veto the project — our friends at the NRDC have a letter on their website you can sign asking him to keep his word — but that doesn’t change the amount of time being wasted on this toxic project. Alternative, renewable energy plans and necessary infrastructure bills languish while fossil fuels remain at the forefront.

    It’s clear that the only way to stop the construction of destructive and potentially catastrophic-to-the-climate projects such as Keystone is to make them financially untenable for the billionaire backers. If fossil fuels weren't guaranteed money makers, there wouldn’t be lobbyists pushing legislators to back such a destructive industry; there’d be nothing in it for them.

    Enter: Global Divestment Day. The entire world — six continents and dozens of countries — is participating on February 13th and 14th, joining with 350.org to speak en mass to their powerful institutions.

    The event info states the simple goal:

    "Together, we will show that we are a truly global and growing force to be reckoned with. As the fossil fuel industry throws more money at fossil fuel expansion, we will turn up the volume of our divestment movement. And we won’t stop until we win. Join us for Global Divestment Day on February 13 and 14 and together, let’s make fossil fuels history.”

    GoFossilFree.org and 350.org both link to the plans for the event. You can find an action near you, start your own, download the divestment campaigning toolkit — valuable and valid long past the event next week, and find campaigning and petitioning tools. Each region around the world has its own specific resources including a Step-by-Step Guide to Divestment. 350 and their coalition partners have done all the research for you; just click, join and use the tools they’ve made available at your finger tips.

    This all should be getting less controversial. Even — to the dismay of the conservative Catholics holding 30% of our Congressional seats — the Pope has gotten increasingly vocal on the disproportionate affect climate change has on the poor and our global responsibility to care for those who are without power and resources.

    As detailed by John Abraham at The Guardian, Dr. Michael Naughton, Professor of Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas thinks we haven’t heard the last from Pope Francis on climate change — and he’s guaranteeing an anti-capitalism bent to his position:

    "Francis will no doubt, in his punchy and prophetic tone, draw our attention to a market system that too often treats the environment like a commodity in what he describes as a 'throw away' culture. As he is never tired of repeating, the poor suffer the most from our ecological crisis. He will confront this 'logic of the market' with a 'logic of gift' that views the earth to be shared with all of humanity — a gift in need of great care and attention.

    I couldn’t agree more. I’m here for whatever your motivation might be to get on board with confronting climate change and demanding our institutions divest from supporting fossil fuels. It will take a truly world-wide effort to keep our planet livable for generations to come.


    JOIN with 350.org for Global Divestment Day February 13th

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Add your name to @NRDC’s letter: “Tell President Obama You Stand Behind His Veto of the Keystone XL Pipeline!”

    Sources/further reading:

    "US House passes Keystone pipeline bill” at AlJazeera

    "Senate Passes Keystone Bill” by Alex Rogers at Time.com

    "White House Confirms Obama Will Veto TransCanada's Keystone XL Pipeline” by Carol Linnitt at DesmogBlog

    "The New School Submits Bold Plan to Tackle Climate Change” at The New School

    "Pope Francis plants a flag in the ground on climate change” by Dr. John Abraham at The Guardian

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #895 "Living like the world is ending (Climate)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Get Local on #ClimateChange via @NRDC - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Get Local On Climate Change.

    In a move that will shock no one listening to this podcast, the federal government is in the process of proving that gridlock and living on a razor’s edge remain the preferred state of affairs in Washington. The Senate gave itself two extra days to pass the emergency spending bill the House has sent them and that is fully expected to happen before the extended end of the legislative session. (Likely it will have passed by the time this episode finds its way to your ears.)

    The bill is a nightmare.

    As the website for the anti-money-in-politics organization “The Bulletin” puts it:

    "If you’re a Congressperson looking to sneak through something shady, the omnibus budget bill is the perfect opportunity since 1.) It’s 1600 pages long and very easy to hide things in, and 2.) Congress kind of has to pass it or the government shuts down. Again.”

    Not that we didn’t already know the next two years would — at best — be a wash, but the new Congress isn’t even on duty yet. This is still the group from BEFORE the Republican midterm sweep. Shunning the chance to limit the damage, the bipartisan emergency spending bill — not to be confused with an actual budget, of course — does several awful things. Basically, the only ridiculous thing it DOESN’T do is shut down the government. That possibility is set up for September when the bill runs its course.

    While there WAS room in the spending bill to allocate $479 million for a warplane that the pentagon didn’t ask for, there wasn't room for $93 million of the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program or to fund environmental protections. That pairing makes sense, though, because what goes better with poor nutrition than poor air quality — Am I right?

    If you’re frustrated, there’s good news. You have a governor and state elected officials who actually have to do things like pass budgets and enforce federal regulations from agencies like the EPA. The National Resources Defense Council have an easy fill-in-the-boxes way to let your governor know that despite the federal government’s insistence on gridlock, you’d like them to get on board with the new limits to carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants.

    Local officials have power — typically more power to actually do real things that affect real people than federal officials. Nothing should reinforce that like days worth of Speaker Boehner’s face on cable news above the headline “Possible Government Shutdown Ahead.”

    So, visit NRDC.org and go to their “Act Now” tab to click through and support the campaign. This will take you less than 60 seconds. Governors are typically more busy balancing budgets than contributing sound bites to Sunday morning shows, so we can forget that they are executive office holders who draft and approve budgets for everything from road repair to education to energy. Give your governor their due and tell them clean air matters to the people of your state.


    SIGN to Tell Your Governor to Help Curb Climate Change h/t The National Resources Defense Council

    Sources/further reading:

    "5 Awful Things Congress Snuck Into the Omnibus Budget Deal” via The Bulletin

    "Congress narrowly averts government shutdown” via CNN.com

    "What’s in That Huge, Lobbyist-Driven Spending Bill?” by Joshua Holland at BillMoyers.com

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #883 Put your money where our future is

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #KeystoneXL Under Congressional #Climate Deniers - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached today’s activism segment. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s an update to remind you why you should still be angry about a topic that just won’t go away. Today’s update: Keystone XL Under Congressional Climate Deniers.

    The more we learn about last week's newly elected legislators, the worse things look for liberals. If you’re in the camp that sees the president as a moderate at best, a Republican-run Congress has serious implications. And the most immediate potential problem is a possible approval Keystone XL.

    While the state department has issued a report outlining a conservative, but definitive estimate of the damage Keystone would do to our air, water, and food supplies, the president hasn’t made his position clear. At times making statements that made approval seem imminent, Obama has repeatedly postponed his decision, leaving room for environmentalists to remain hopeful.

    But now the Republicans own Congress. All of it. They’re in charge of introducing legislation as well as passing it and they do this kind of work quickly when they don’t have to reach across the isle for cooperation. This fossil-fuel-backed GOP walks in lock-step over issues like Keystone.

    At Climate Desk, environmental reporter Tim McDonnell briefly profiles the 12 new Congress members who range from ambivalent to outright oppositional on the notion of man-made climate change. Iowa’s Senator-elect Joni Ernst has a particularly playful way of describing her non-commitall attitude on the science. When asked by Iowa Public Radio if she agreed with NASA and the 97% of scientists standing together in a public statement affirming climate change she replied:

    "I haven’t personally seen those reports, so I don’t know that climate change is mainly due to humans.”

    And Ernst’s position — which includes promoting personal responsibility for protecting the environment through activities like recycling — is moderate amidst her party’s Congressional class.

    Seasoned climate reporter Kate Sheppard counts a solid 61 Senate votes in favor of a measure to force Keystone’s approval. For those who were hoping this GOP-run Congress would at rival last term’s inability to get anything done, that’s a filibuster-proof majority. RNC chairman Reince Priebus declared on the morning of election 2014 that passing a Keystone approval bill would be second on the Republican agenda — right behind passing a budget.

    The bill pushing POTUS to approve the project is likely already being written. So. Right now. Stop what you’re doing. Go to the Natural Resources Defense Council’s SaveBioGems.org website to sign their letter to President Obama with the subject line: "The Keystone XL is not in our national interest.”

    Then use ContactingTheCongress.org to find and write, call, and tweet your new — and old — representatives encouraging them to oppose legislation which would approve Keystone.

    Also, check out “Above All Else” — a documentary that premiered at SXSW this year. Recommended by food and environmental writer Tom Philpott, this film is a close-up of the landowners and activists in East Texas who risked their personal safety to stop Keystone from tearing up their land. Personal stories are often the most compelling way to break through an empathy deficit, so sharing visual depictions like “Above All Else” can help people who think Keystone is just a political, “both sides arguing” issue to connect with the real impact of the pipeline.

    Follow-up/new Action!

    Stop the Tar Sands Pipeline! via NRDC BioGems

    Tell President Obama to reject Keystone XL

    Use ContactingTheCongress.org to find your possibly new representatives and let them know you oppose Keystone.

    Additional activism:

    Watch/host a screening for ”Above All Else”: a documentary about the battle over the KXL pipeline in East Texas. h/t Tom Philpott at Mother Jones

    Follow "Above All Else” on Twitter and on Facebook

    Follow Idle No More’s work protecting the land and water in Canada as well as the rights of the Indigenous population there.


    "Senate Now Has Enough Votes To Pass Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Bill” by Katie Sheppard at HuffPo Politics

    "Meet the Senate’s New Climate Denial Caucus: Their views range from tepid acceptance of the science to flat-out rejection” by Tim McDonnell at Climate Desk

    "OMG. They Tell Her That Her Words Are BS Right To Her Face. So Satisfying.” — an amazing short film by AJ+ on the Unist'ot'en Camp founded by members of the Wet'suwet'en Nation to resist the Tar Sands Gigaproject in Western Canada. via Upworthy

    ”Candidate Profile: Joni Ernst via Iowa Public Radio

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #875 "Rising tide of climate change deniers and sea levels (Climate)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

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