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Climate change

Robert Jensen on Media Consumption Crisis

University of Texas Professor Robert Jensen will speak on “Media Consumption Crises.” Jensen will discuss the relationship of hyper-mediated culture and mass-marketed consumption to social and ecological crises. How do contemporary news and entertainment media shape our understanding of self and society? How does contemporary consumerism affect the larger living world? How should we understand the multiple, cascading crises of our time? Jensen, who teaches in the School of Journalism, is the author of Plain Radical: Living, Loving, and Learning to Leave the Planet Gracefully. Location: Austin Community College, Pinnacle Campus, 10th Floor Conference Room, 7748 Highway 290 West, Austin Filmed and Edited by Jeff Zavala and Grace Alfar Austin Indymedia http://austin.indymedia.org

Interview with Robert Jensen on Media Consumption Crisis

This interview features Dr. Robert Jensen with an in-depth look at current societal concerns nationally and on the global stage. University of Texas Professor Robert Jensen speaks on “Media Consumption Crises.” Jensen discusses the relationship of hyper-mediated culture and mass-marketed consumption to social and ecological crises. How do contemporary news and entertainment media shape our understanding of self and society? How does contemporary consumerism affect the larger living world? How should we understand the multiple, cascading crises of our time? Jensen, who teaches in the School of Journalism, is the author of Plain Radical: Living, Loving, and Learning to Leave the Planet Gracefully. Location: Austin Community College, Pinnacle Campus, 10th Floor Conference Room, 7748 Highway 290 West, Austin Filmed and Edited by Jeff Zavala and Grace Alfar Austin Indymedia http://austin.indymedia.org

Resolving America's Largest Problems in 5 minutes with Bernie Sanders!

Vermont's Independent U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speaks along with local community leaders in a Town Hall Meeting in Austin, Texas, on March 31st at 7p.m.. The Town Hall Meeting discussion items includes: How to . . . 1) Overturn Citizens United and Get Big Money Out of Politics; 2) Deal with Obscene Wealth and Income Inequality. 3) Combat Climate Change. 4) Create Democracy NOT Oligarchy. Learn more at: http://BernieSanders.com Videography/Editing by Jeff Zavala and Grace Alfar A Austin Indymedia Production http://austin.indymedia.org

Climate Fail: US Oil Production Surpasses Saudi Arabia


Climate Change Policy Gap between US and Europe Widens as Norway Sets National Carbon Tax

 In the latest example of the widening gap in climate change policies between the USA and Europe, the Government of Norway last week announced the world’s largest new tax on carbon emissions, stating in explicit terms its desire to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate against global warming — just two weeks after the US House of Representatives passed legislation which, to the extreme opposite, explicitly bans the regulation of greenhouse gas.

On October 8, the Government of Norway announced that it would nearly double the carbon tax rate for its offshore oil and gas production in 2013, setting one of the highest carbon tax rates in the world. 

The announcement is part of a comprehensive “Climate Agreement” provision within the national budget plan for 2013. The budget will:  

- increase funding for climate research increase funding for sustainable technology development

- increase energy use requirements in building regulations

- increase funding for public transport

- increase funding to prevent deforestation

- increase funding to assist developing countries to exploit renewable sources “instead of using fossil energy sources”

- prioritize public transport, including increased funding for footpaths and cycle paths

- increase CO2 taxes for passenger vehicles, along with incentives for public transport, in order to “reduce private automobile use”

By contrast, on September 21, the US House of Representatives voted in favor of H.R. 3409, called ‘the worst environmental bill in history,” which proactively seeks to prevent greenhouse gas reduction and any measures to mitigate against climate change.  

The bill is explicit:

- it bans the EPA from ‘taking any action to address climate change”

- it bans CO2 emission regulations from power plants.

- it bans CO2 emission regulations from cars.

- it eliminates the EPA’s authority to regulate coal mining waste

This is in addition to other recent votes in Congress which:

- overturn the EPA’s scientific findings that climate change endangers human health

-eliminate language that acknowledges global scientific concerns about climate change

- eliminate climate change education programs administered by the National Science Foundation.

-eliminate funding for EPA’s greenhouse gas registry

-approve the Keystone “Tar Sands” Pipeline (Nebraska version) with exemptions from environmental concerns

-refuse to pay the EU-wide ‘airline carbon emission tax’ on carbon emissions

-ban the US from providing funding for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

prevent the United States from participating in climate negotiations.

The Norwegian carbon tax is the latest in an international trend to set national tax rates on carbon, due to the inability to achieve an internationally binding global tax. By 2013, 33 nations will have some form of national carbon taxes in place. (Note: Some ‘sub-national jurisdictions’ — taking matters into their own hands as national governments dither — have set their own carbon taxes, including British Columbia and California).

The opposite approaches to climate change policies between Europe and the USA — which means, by scientific definition, how these bodies choose to deal with greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels – must take into account the enormous influence of the fossil fuel industry in the United States Congress. 

One of the leading proponents of banning the EPA from regulating fossil fuel emissions, for example, is Senator James Inhofe (Oklahoma) — the recipient of over $500,000 in contributions from the fossil fuel industries.  The fossil fuel sector (Koch Industries, Murray Energy, et. al). is his single largest industrial financier.

In total, the fossil fuel industries — whose profit margins are directly threatened by increased greenhouse gas regulations — have contributed  hundreds of millions of dollars to US Congressional campaigns, the vast majority (75%, according to the Center for Responsive Politics) going to Republican lawmakers who are, in turn, at the forefront of banning greenhouse gas emission regulations.

The difference between the USA and Europe on climate change policies is illustrated, perhaps most simply, by the very use of language. Here’s what the European Union says about climate change on its official website:

“Preventing dangerous climate change is a strategic priority for the European Union.”

“Europe is working hard to cut its greenhouse gas emissions substantially while encouraging other nations and regions to do likewise.”

“Reining in climate change carries a cost, but doing nothing would be far more expensive in the long run.”

“The scientific evidence shows that the world must stop the growth in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2020″

In contrast, the US House Republicans voted, in March 2011, to eliminate language which stated, simply, that “global warming exists“.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, during the Presidential debates watched by millions, have both proclaimed support for increased fossil fuel production — while the phrases “greenhouse gas” or “climate change” weren’t uttered — one time — by either candidate.

It’s almost as if Europe and the United States live on two different planets, governed by two different laws of science.


Planetsave (http://s.tt/1qlxB)



Keystone Blockade Update: TransCanada Gets Ugly - Seizes Grandma, Detains Press & Pays Local Police to Arrest Protesters

 The Canadian fossil fuel giant Transcanada (net earnings 2011: $1.5 billion) is encountering increased resistance from the “Tar Sands Blockade” in eastern Texas — now in its 18th day of an extensively constructed “tree sit-in.” And it is employing increasingly draconian police measures to prevent any public awareness of the protests and confrontations.


Yesterday (10/11), two journalists from the NYTimes were handcuffed, detained, and then expelled from private property by local police employed as private security by TransCanada. According to eyewitnesses, the journalists were grabbed by the police, physically restrained, and prevented from approaching the blockade site or making any contact with the protesters. The NYTimes issued a statement confirming the detentions.


This is the latest in a series of increasingly repressive reactions on the part of Canada’s largest pipeline manufacturer against the blockade — a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and climate justice organizers seeking to halt construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.


It was previously reported that Transcanada is paying local police $30 per hour to maintain “a police state” at the site of the tree sit-in, including 24/7 surveillance, floodlights, and orders to arrest without question. Senior officers at the site told the protesters that their “mandate from TransCanada is to arrest anyone who sets foot on the Keystone XL pipeline easement.”




On October 10, two independent journalists, Elizabeth Arce and Lorenzo Serna, were arrested after filming Transcanada’s tree-cleareance machinery approaching within 20 feet of the tree blockade — a violation of federal law.  The Transcanada “police” then sealed off the blockade perimeter, confiscated cameras, and are now preventing anyone from setting foot in the area, including journalists.  


Police now surround the tree protesters, and have severed the ropes used to get food and water to the protesters in the trees.


In late Septemeber two blockaders were put in chokeholds, pepper-sprayed, and tasered by the police — while in handcuffs — after chaining themselves to Transcanada machinery.




Aware of the public relations implications, Transcanada is now taking more sophisticated — if cowardly — measures to prevent public awareness of the ongoing blockade, which is now in its second month. On October 2, police erected a screen around the scene before they moved in to arrest blockader Alejandro de la Torre, who had chained himself to an underground capsule to prevent clearing.


In the most high-profile event so far, on October 4, actress Daryl Hannah joined with local property-owner Eleanor Fairchild to put their bodies in the path of encroaching Transcanada clearance machines, in defense of Fairchild’s 300-acre farm — a portion of which was seized by Transcanada against her will via “eminent domain” law. Fairchild, a 78-year-old great-grandmother, along Hannah, was arrested and charged with trespassing — despite it being her own land.


Planetsave (http://s.tt/1pQqe)


Another blockader, Maggie Gorry, was charged with a felony — “Use of a criminal instrument” — for sitting on top of a 40-foot-high timber pole, which delayed clear-cutting operations for two days. Bail was set at $11,000.



Despite the efforts of Transcanada to prevent public awareness, the daily confrontations are being reported by the blockaders themselves at their website: www.tarsandsblockade.org.   


The increasingly draconian measures being taken by one of the world's largest fossil fuel corporations, however, don't seem to be swaying the determination of the blockaders.   They are planning, in fact, to expand their actions - and are organizing a training camp for incoming blockaders, near Dallas, on Oct 12-14, open to the public.


Original article, with edits, here: 

Planetsave (http://s.tt/1pQqe)





Climate Change and the Next U.S. Revolution

 The U.S. heat wave is slowly shaking the foundations of American politics. It may take years for the deep rumble to evolve into an above ground, institution-shattering earthquake, but U.S. society has changed for good. 


Fundraiser, "Dinner with Rocky Anderson: Clean Energy, the path to Clean Water and Clean Air"


Saturday, June 2, 2012
7:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M.

Location: Abel's on the Lake Restaurant
3825 Lake Austin Boulevard  Austin, TX 78703
(512) 904-0570
Website: http://abelsonthelake.com/

Link to the Dinner Menu: http://abelsonthelake.com/menu

Come have a enjoyable dinner on beautiful Lake Austin with Rocky Anderson.  With this scenic lake behind him, Rocky will be going over his positions on such issues as coal-fired power plants, nuclear power, and other energy sources such as solar power, wind power, and geothermal energy and the impact of these types of energy on the air we breathe and the water we drink. Rocky is also interested in hearing your ideas on these subjects. Rocky is not likely to let the evening go by without discussing Climate Change. Rocky Anderson is a strong advocate for the U.S. leading the way in developing solutions to the Climate Change Crisis. Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is a practice that is affecting many areas of Texas and Rocky will share his thoughts  and concerns on that topic as well.

Admission to the Fundraiser is $65.00 dollars per person which entitles you to any entree on the Dinner menu and a standard beverage such as iced tea, coffee, or other non-alcoholic beverage with your meal. If guests wish to order an alcoholic beverage, the drink can be purchased by the guest on a cash bar basis.

See Rocky's position paper on Global Climate Change. http://www.voterocky.org/climate_change
See Rocky's position paper on Water Resources: http://www.voterocky.org/water_resources
See Rocky's position on the Clean Energy Economy http://www.voterocky.org/clean_energy_economy


On the New Revolutionary Tendency of the Socialist Party (RT-SP)


Obama’s Continued Failures on the Environment and Jobs

[Photo: Bridge in Felton, California built by workers in the Works Progress Administration which employed 3.8 million people from 1935 to 1941 and built 11,000 schools, 122,000 public buildings, 77,000 bridges, 285 airports, 24,000 miles of sewer, and 664,000 miles of road. Photo by Liberation News]



Obama’s Continued Failures on the Environment and Jobs

By Steven Argue
On Friday September 2, President Obama directed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator, Lisa Jackson, to withdraw proposed regulations on ground level ozone. Ground level ozone is the main component of smog. Obama’s decision overruled the position of the EPA and the unanimous opinion of its panel of scientific advisors in the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC). Obama’s instructions for the EPA to ignore the findings of the CASAC are a violation of the law as established under the Clean Air Act.   
Scientific American Editor Dave Biello commented on the move saying, “The Obama administration has withdrawn regulations that would have prevented at least 1,500 deaths per year from unhealthy levels of smog in the air.” 
In response to Obama’s illegal action the American Lung Association is reviving its lawsuit against the U.S. government. They had dropped their lawsuit in 2009 due to Obama’s promises to end the violations of the Clean Air Act that occurred under the Bush Administration. Obama’s latest move is exactly the same as Bush’s decision to ignore the CASAC in 2008.   In response, American Lung Association CEO Charles Connor stated, “For two years the Administration dragged its feet by delaying its decision, unnecessarily putting lives at risk. Its final decision not to enact a more protective ozone health standard is jeopardizing the health of millions of Americans, which is inexcusable.” 
In taking legal action, Connor further stated, “The American Lung Association now intends to revive its participation in litigation with the Administration, which was suspended following numerous assurances that the Administration was going to complete this reconsideration and obey the law. We had gone to court because the Bush Administration failed to follow the law and set a protective health standard.”
Obama’s pro-smog decision follows by one week an August 26th ruling by Obama’s State Department that the Keystone XL pipeline would bring "no significant impacts" on the environment. This despite the fact that the 800,000 barrels of tar sands crude that the pipeline will be carrying daily has, according to EPA estimates, 80 percent higher carbon emissions than the average crude oil refined in the United States. Despite fake controversy in American corporate run politics, it is well known in science that carbon emissions are a greenhouse gas causing global warming. Global warming is the single most significant environmental problem humanity is facing, rapidly raising the Earth’s temperatures higher than anything ever experienced by humans and bringing with it all kinds of catastrophes and potentially even ending human civilization. The XL pipeline, despite the lies of Obama’s State Department, will have a significant impact on the environment. This State Department ruling of “no significant impact” also comes despite the fact that the crude oil being obtained for the XL pipeline comes from highly destructive strip mining in Canada.
Despite the clear position of Obama’s State Department in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline, Obama still has the authority to veto the project and over a thousand people have been arrested in civil disobedience protests in Washington DC demanding Obama do so. This kind of visible movement that attempts to embarrass Obama and brings people together demanding action on climate change starts creating needed pressure on the Democrats and could also potentially start building necessary political alternatives to Obama and the Democrats.
When elected Obama repeatedly promised to have the EPA regulate greenhouse gas emissions, but failed to make any attempt to do so. Likewise, Obama failed to take any action on creating a significant jobs program after he was elected, despite having a full two years when the Democrats controlled the House and Senate.
Obama’s excuse for not following the law on regulating smog and not properly regulating greenhouse gas emissions is to allow more economic growth. Theoretically, according to Obama and the Republicans, less regulation will supposedly provide more jobs. Yet, Obama has also extended Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy with the same excuse while those tax cuts do not create anything but more wealth for the wealthy. I contend that like the tax cuts for the wealthy, Obama is not fighting against environmental regulations to create jobs, but instead he is doing it to make more money for his capitalist contributors who got him elected, just as the Republicans do. While condemning thousands of people to painful deaths by violating the Clean Air Act, Obama’s move will save the car manufacturers, electronic companies, and other capitalists $90 billion per year according to EPA estimates. 
While the EPA regulations would have cost big polluters $90 billion to fix the problem, not changing it will, besides killing thousands of people and harming the health of many more, cost an estimated $100 billion dollars in yearly health care costs. Meanwhile, Obama’s unpopular changes to health care mean that many Americans still do not have health care; American health care remains double the price of countries with socialized health care due to capitalist insurance profit in the United States; and insurance capitalists remain in a position to unfairly and illegally decide who lives and who dies by denying payment for needed procedures. Medicare for all would have fixed this problem, but Obama was always opposed to any real solutions on health care. And instead of Medicare for all, Obama has made cuts to Medicare as well. While Obama portrayed those cuts to Medicare and Social Security as the result of a forced compromise with the Republicans, Obama has always been saying that cuts to those programs were on the table in the pursuit of reducing the national deficit.   Meanwhile, the real cause of the national debt is the trillions of dollars that Obama and the Republicans have squandered on war. Obama’s policies are clear. Obama supports the profits of the big polluters, insurance companies, and armament industries over the good health of the American people.
Obama’s illegal instructions to the EPA and cuts to Social Security and Medicare are the same sort of deregulation and cuts to essential social programs that the Republicans also claim create jobs. 
Yet, history shows an entirely different way to creates jobs. In 1935, at the height of another economic depression, the Democrat Party under Franklin Delano Roosevelt carried out a jobs program that improved the condition of the working class. Key components were Social Security in the Social Security Act of 1935, the first minimum wage (40 cents an hour) and the 40 hour work week in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, and jobs organized through the Works Progress Administration of 1935 which employed 3.8 million people from 1935 to 1941 and built 11,000 schools, 122,000 public buildings, 77,000 bridges, 285 airports, 24,000 miles of sewer, and 664,000 miles of road.  
These reforms took place not when there was a massive excess of money to be spared by the ruling rich for the working class majority, but instead in the heights of the Great Depression. So what is different between 1935 and 2011? 
Before 1934 the labor movement of the United States was taking a beating and unable to effectively fight back due to the conservative leadership of the labor unions. It was a situation very similar to today. In 1934 this all changed when socialists took the leadership of three important unions and, unlike the entrenched union bureaucrats, were able to lead successful strikes. These were the San Francisco longshoremen’s union led by the Communist Party, the Minneapolis Teamsters led by the Trotskyist Communist League of America, and the Toledo Auto-Lite Strike led by the left socialist Workers Party. General strikes also took place in San Francisco and Minneapolis.
These victorious strikes were the three most important strikes in U.S. history. These 1934 victories (along with the tactics used) inspired the great labor upsurge that formed the CIO and made many gains against the employers. This is what created the climate that forced one of the parties of the ruling rich, the Democrats, to give the working class the “New Deal”.
Still, left socialists, including Trotskyists, were not satisfied with Roosevelt’s new deal. They fought for far more, and in doing so got the gains that were achieved. Roosevelt, on the other hand, was a racist imperial president who installed the Somoza dynasty in Nicaragua, locked up Japanese Americans in internment camps, sent Jews back to their deaths in Europe, entered the war in Europe only after it was clear that the USSR would win the war, jailed Trotskyists and banned their newspaper during WWII for Trotskyist warnings that the U.S. could go fascist, and ruled over a country where, without Roosevelt’s intervention, the south was a semi-fascist state ruled by the KKK, Democrat Party, and local police who kept Black people in terror and prevented union organizing. American capitalist wealth has been achieved through slavery, the slaughter of American Indians, massive land theft from Mexico, the exploitation of labor, the exploitation of the environment, and the continuation of the U.S. imperialist empire. Roosevelt maintained and expanded U.S. imperialist exploitation of the underdeveloped world where Roosevelt installed and supported murderous dictatorships, like Somoza in Nicaragua, repressive governments friendly to American capitalist interests in cheap resources and labor.
To this day the ruling Democrats and Republicans have little disagreement on the U.S. subjugation and exploitation of the world. For instance, following in Roosevelt’s footsteps, the Obama administration participated in the overthrow of the democratically elected government of President Zalaya in Honduras in 2009 after that government raised the minimum wage and formed friendly relations with Venezuela. The new government the U.S. has helped impose on the people of Honduras murders journalists and union leaders and is generally more friendly to U.S. imperialist interests. Like the Somoza dynasty imposed by Roosevelt, the power of the new death squad government in Honduras is maintained though repression and fraudulent elections with that government’s brute force backed up by U.S. military aid.
Obama is doing the same as Roosevelt to protect U.S. capitalist interests around the world. This is also the true meaning of Obama’s war in Libya where, in the name of protecting civilians, NATO and the U.S. have put racist rebels in power that have committed mass murder against Black Africans and driven 750,000 Black Africans out of the country. 
In addition to opposing the imperialist policies of the Democrats and Republicans, the socialist program is one that can create full employment. It does so by removing corporate / capitalist ownership of the means of production and eliminating private profit. Instead of private profit, in a socialist society public ownership means that production can be geared for the public good to meet human and environmental needs. By eliminating capitalist private profit, a socialist United States will be able to easily provide everyone with a job, housing, health care, an education, and an emergency environmental program on climate change. With the exception of addressing climate change, this was done in the Soviet Union where socialism turned one of the poorest countries in the world into an industrial powerhouse capable of defeating two major imperialist invasions, including that of Nazi Germany, and able to rebuild providing everyone with a job, housing, health care, and an education. What was lacking in the USSR, however, was real workers democracy, an essential component of socialism needed to prevent abuses of power and to give the majority a better say in how society is run. 
The New Deal certainly fell far short of what socialists fought for, but it was enacted largely as a result of socialists and militant workers fighting. Despite falling short, the New Deal and labor contracts won by labor in the 1930s were historic gains of the working class. Yet today, instead of spending money on jobs, social programs, and the environment, Obama, like Bush, squanders trillions on maintaining the U.S. imperialist empire. 
The key difference between now and the 1930’s is that those reforms were enacted at a time when a militant labor movement was forcing the ruling capitalist parties to do so. That militant labor movement contrasts sharply with the present day where house broken labor “leaders” generally refuse to lead effective strikes and refuse to maintain effective strike funds and instead give union dues to the same Democrats who are dismantling the gains of the New Deal as well as other gains that have come since.  
In contrast to Roosevelt, Obama failed to attempt any kind of real jobs program in his first two years in office when the Democrats had control of the House and Senate. Likewise, Obama failed to take meaningful action during that period on the single biggest environmental problem facing humanity, climate change. This despite repeated promises that he would have the EPA regulate greenhouse emissions. Instead of doing anything, however, Obama suddenly dropped the question without taking action. Likewise, the Obama administration expanded drilling to 20 million more acres in the Gulf after the British Petrolium spill, showing Obama’s continued commitment to the oil interests who helped get him elected. 
A meaningful jobs and environmental program, in contrast to the deregulation being given to us by Obama and the Republicans, would include the rebuilding of needed infrastructure and the building of a greener economy, but to make these gains, and possibly more, will take a fight against the Democrats and Republicans. To wage such an effective fight we need to get our unions stop giving our union dues and union support to the Democrat Party. Instead, more money needs to be put into strike funds so that labor will be better prepared to fight like unions did in the 1930s. Also, environmentally minded people need to stop giving money to environmental organizations like the Sierra Club who give support to anti-environmental Democrats, including Obama, helping keep the status quo while ignoring pro-environmental “third party” candidates and by doing so helping keep them out of power. Instead of giving money to that type of organization we should take action building groups in our communities that are pro-environmental and pro-labor and willing to organize mass actions, direct actions, and strikes to effectively fight for change. 
This is an article of Liberation News, subscribe free:
(The next Liberation News article will be on defending of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Don’t miss it.)
Also see the following related articles from Liberation News:
Climate Change is Increasing the Number and Intensity of Hurricanes
Why We Should Oppose the Imperialist War on Libya
The Case for Socialized Medicine in the United States, and the Struggle to Achieve It


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