Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The major presidential candidates ignore this...

...but Amy Goodman, Bill McKibben, and climate scientist Greg Jones talked about it yesterday on Democracy Now!:

Here's a sample of what you'll hear on the video:
AMY GOODMAN: Bill, you mentioned that the storm is made up of elements both natural and unnatural. What do you mean by that?

BILL McKIBBEN: Well, look, I mean, global warming doesn’t cause hurricanes. We’ve always had hurricanes. Hurricanes cause when a wave, tropical wave, comes off the coast of Africa and moves on to warm water and the wind shear is low enough to let it form a circulation, and so on and so forth. But we’re producing conditions like record warm temperatures in seawater that make it easier for this sort of thing to get, in this case, you know, up the Atlantic with a head of steam. We’re making—we’re raising the sea levels. And when that happens, it means that whatever storm surge comes in comes in from a higher level than it would have before. We’re seeing—and there are a meteorologists—although I don’t think this is well studied enough yet to really say it conclusively, there are people saying that things like the huge amount of open water in the Arctic have been changing patterns, of big wind current patterns, across the continent that may be contributing to these blocking pressure areas and things that we’re seeing. But, to me, that, at this point, is still mostly speculation.

What really is different is that there is more moisture and more energy in this narrow envelope of atmosphere. And that energy expresses itself in all kind of ways. That’s why we get these record rainfalls now, time after time. I mean, last year, it was Irene and then Lee directly after that. This year, this storm, they’re saying, could be a thousand-year rainfall event across the mid-Atlantic. I think that means more rain than you’d expect to see in a thousand years. But I could pretty much—I’d be willing to bet that it won’t be long before we see another one of them, because we’re changing the odds. By changing the earth, we change the odds.

And one thing for all of us to remember today, even as we deal with the horror on the East Coast, is that this is exactly the kind of horror people have been dealing with all over the world. Twenty million people were dislocated by flood in Pakistan two years ago. There are people with kind of existential fears about whether their nations will survive the rise of sea level. We’re seeing horrific drought not just in the Midwest, but in much of the rest of the world. This is the biggest thing that’s ever happened on earth, climate change, and our response has to be the same kind of magnitude.
McKibben's organization, 350.org, is starting a 20-state Do the Math tour to help organize a movement to change human consumption patterns to mitigate climate change before it's too late. Too bad they're not coming to Oklahoma.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Green Party Presidential ticket arrested at debate

This just in. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and her running mate Cheri Honkala have been arrested as they attempted to enter the venue for tonight's debate between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney.  Stein and Honkala issued a statement calling the debate a "mockumentary."

Although Stein has been approved for presidential matching funds and is on the ballot in 38 states, she has not been permitted to participate in the debates. Neither has Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson, who is on the ballot in 47 states. A recent NPR story suggested that Johnson, who is polling at about six percent in national polls, could draw enough votes to affect the outcome of the race. Stein and Honkala's statement claims that they have "polled 2-3% in four consecutive national polls."

The Commission on Presidential Debates might argue that because neither Johnson nor Stein is likely to be elected president in November, they are not relevant to the debates. But this is clearly wrong. Given the structure of the Electoral College, both Stein and Johnson have the possibility to affect the race. It would be good for the country and for voters if Obama and Romney were forced to face a wider spectrum of ideas. Personally, given the doleful state of the economy and the clear and present danger of climate change, I would like to learn more about the Green Party's Green New Deal. While I personally think the economic aspects of the Libertarian Party platform would be disastrous, especially in terms of worker rights, I think the public has the right to hear those ideas.

Given that only Romney and Obama will appear on the Oklahoma ballot on November 6--and there isn't even the opportunity to write in a candidate's name--I will certainly vote for Obama. Obama is clearly the better candidate of the two--even though most of his policies are to the right of Richard Nixon's. I understand that some commentators on the left think it's blasphemous for progressives to even think of voting for Stein. Her voice still needs to be heard.

I have signed a petition calling on the CPD to open up the presidential debates to Johnson and Stein. If you would like to sign that petition, you can do so here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Wow. Walmart workers are striking

Graduate school has eaten my brain, and I almost missed noticing that Wal-mart workers are striking in several locations across the US. As thenation.com's Bryce Covert points out:
It’s not just the workers who walked off the job that have something at stake in taking on Walmart. As these sorts of jobs increasingly dominate our workforce, we’ll be forced more and more to ask not just how many jobs the economy is adding, but what kind of jobs. If Walmart and its ilk supply most of them, families will have little money to rely on, few benefits and chaotic work schedules. All eyes should be on this historic strike and what gains Walmart’s workers are able to make in negotiating higher pay and better benefits.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Goodbye, Columbus Day

Thanks to commondreams.org for reposting this marvelous essay by Dana Lone Hill about all the reasons not to celebrate Columbus Day--and how South Dakota, alone among all the US states, has given up this celebration.

Here's a sample:
I always felt proud that our state didn't honor someone who murdered, enslaved, and raped indigenous people. Considering that it was the beginning of a genocide, this would be like putting a day aside to honor the memory of Hitler and selling sheets at a discount for the role he played in the world. Mickelson's initiative made me feel like we were a little ahead of the rest of the country: this is the same state that remembers the Wounded Knee Massacre, the Occupation of Wounded Knee, and unsolved deaths of our people in the 1973 incident. So, we celebrated Native American Day, not Columbus Day.

Yet, as Lakota people, we have all experienced racism in the state of South Dakota. Every single one of us, many times. My first time was when I was six years old and moving off the reservation. I was called horrible names, but I survived. And that was only the beginning.

Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012