Thursday, August 12, 2010

The power of many little successes!

Dear Colleagues

How does society get the action it needs? Clearly politics and decision making in Washington ... or Whitehall or the Quai d'Orsay or Moscow or any of the centers of government around the world is not going to get much decision making right, nor on a pace that I would argue is needed.

Michael Kieschnick of CREDO Action understands this and has proposed an interesting way forward. He proposes many small actions that are practical and possible rather than one big action that cannot get done.

Frustrated with inaction on global warming? Pick these 10 fights Michael Kieschnick, CREDO Action to me

Ten fights on global warming now that the Senate will do nothing ... Beyond the Senate

Dear Peter,

Legislation to explicitly fight global warming is dead — weakened and then killed in the Senate. Environmental groups fought hard to push the bill. A majority of Americans and a majority of senators wanted to do something serious. Not this year. Sen. Harry Reid announced last week that he could not find 60 votes for what had already become a weak, compromised piece of legislation, so no vote would be held. Oil and gas companies and their friends in the Senate- all the Republicans and a number of key Democrats such as Sen. Rockefeller of West Virginia, Sen. Lincoln of Arkansas, and Sen. Conrad of North Dakota — got their wish. No action on global warming.

We know the planet is heating rapidly and that the consequences, already visible, will get much worse for every year we postpone action to slow, and then radically reduce, greenhouse gas emissions. At CREDO, we are enthusiastic proponents of tough action on global warming but had decidedly mixed feelings about all the compromises, backroom deals, special incentives, and loopholes that worked their way into the Kerry-Lieberman attempt to get to 60 votes.

The reality that we must face is that there are not 60 votes in the Senate for even minimally acceptable global warming legislation. Not this year and definitely not in the next few years.

But for us, unlike the Senate, no action is not an option. We have to change the battlefield because we must make progress.

Fortunately, there are a great many fights to be engaged, now that energy and resources are no longer focused on the dysfunctional U.S. Senate. We have compiled a short list — ten for simplicity — of work you can join in right now. You are all needed as each fight below is a tough one-but not as tough as passing strong legislation through the Senate!

You can join with us and other aggressive groups to work beyond the Senate:

1. Defend, at all costs, the ability of President Obama's EPA to regulate carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act either temporarily (as proposed by Sen. Rockefeller of West Virginia) or permanently (Sen. Murkowski). The imminent attack is coming from Sen. Rockefeller. Click here to take action now:

2. Fight FOX News, the leading purveyor of lies about global warming. The blowhards at FOX are confusing tens of millions of people every day. Nobody fights FOX better than Media Matters. Keep up with them at:

3. Decisively defeat Prop 23 in California, the malicious attempt by Texas oil companies-like Valero-to eliminate California's pioneering global warming legislation — which is already in place and much stronger than anything considered by the Senate. This is a national battle. Join the campaign at:

4. Eliminate the Senate filibuster. Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico will propose this in January. Join the fight at:

5. Block all new coal-fired power plants — there is no such thing as clean coal. We love the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign — they are fighting individual plants and changing the rules at:

6. Eliminate the $75 million cap on oil company liability for oil spills and raise the damage fee from its current nickel a barrel to something serious — at $10 per barrel. Ask President Obama to take this bold action at:

7. Urge EPA to adopt tough standards on reducing mercury poisoning from coal — a leading source of brain damage for infants. Join the Sierra Club and submit an official public comment to the EPA to protect communities from mercury in toxic coal ash at:

8. Stop the practice of mountaintop removal mining, which literally blows off the tops of mountains in Appalachia and dumps the waste into streams. We like the approach of Rainforest Action Network — take action at:

9. Block the import of filthy oil produced by the huge Canadian Tar Sands development, which requires a 2000-mile pipeline into the United States. The fine folks at 1Sky are fighting to convince Sec. of State Hillary Clinton not to issue the required State Department approval.

10. Put solar panels back on the White House. Reagan took them down, and neither Clinton nor Obama have restored them. Check out's campaign at:

Okay, so the last one is not as big a deal — but wouldn't it provide a little inspiration if President Obama installed a highly visible solar array on the White House with the components made in the United States? We have a lot of fighting to do if we are going to save ourselves, and every little bit of presidential leadership is welcome.


Michael Kieschnick, CEO
CREDO Action from Working Assets
These ideas are very sensible ... but it is the method that is the most interesting. In some ways the idea of using many small initiatives rather than one big comprehensive initiative is at the heart of the work we have done with community analytics. In the analysis of community performance we recognize that there are many issues to address and not just one ... take the issues one at a time and make some progress. Quite soon the cumulative progress is substantial.

Stay tuned and watch out for lots of little successes!

Peter Burgess

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