I’m interested in the responses to the basic agreement made in France during COP21.
Compare these two excerpts of emails I read tonight.
Last weekend, negotiators at the Paris Climate Conference wrapped up a landmark global agreement to curb climate disruption by limiting temperature rise to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. Nearly 200 countries committed to reducing man-made emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases and helping developing nations adapt to sea-level rise, catastrophic weather events, and other impacts of global warming. (more)
This time we take to the streets of every major city and smash the post-COP21 complacency. Paris is too little, too late, a toothless deal full of magical thinking. It doesn’t even scratch at the root of the problem: the global system that created the climate crisis in the first place. That’s right—the same failed system that drives the yawning rich-poor gap, the extinction crisis, the doctrine of perpetual war. (more)
Over the past month I’ve watched three documentaries about fracking–Gasland 1 (2010) & 2 (2013) and Fracknation (2013). Here are a few thoughts.
1) No single documentary tells the whole story. Even two is insufficient. And three… | Neither talked about the toxic waste that must be dealt with (see Michigan).
2) Every documentary maker can sell his or her side by only presenting supporting info, disregarding anything that counters or complicates the preferred views. | Fox (Gasland) only looks at people who have had wells fail. McAleer (Fracknation) disregards the stats of how many wells are known to fail. Each makes it sounds like they are 100 percent right.
3) I’m disappointed that both sides weren’t more forth-coming and open. | Fox should have acknowledged that methane has been in some wells before fracking started. McAleer should have acknowledged that some wells didn’t have methane until fracking started. | Also, Fox could have used a better prop for his “contract,” and McAleer should have realized the prop doesn’t matter; what matters is the truth of whether or not Fox received a bid for drilling (and this is a minor point, but media people making a big deal out of small points bothers me). | Fox didn’t note the many environmental guidelines that control fracking. McAleer didn’t note the exemptions from certain guidelines that fracking does enjoy.
4) Truth can be hard to find (see the cigarette industry’s extended efforts to confuse the public about the health risks of smoking). | McAleer’s summary at the end of Fracknation attempts to discount every aspect of Gasland, but he does this in too broad of strokes and without considering the info shown in Gasland 2, info he could have known before that film was released. Resorting to claims that Putin is behind the anti-fracking movement is mind-boggling.
5) Every source of energy has negative consequences. I think that was one of the most honest statements in the three films (from Gasland 1). | Fox looks at only the negatives of fracking, while McAleer only looks at the positives. Then McAleer shines a light on the negative aspects of other “clean” energy sources, ignoring the negative effects of fracking and other sources of energy like fossil fuels. We must admit that all energy sources have positives and negatives, and we need to do the hard work of honestly accounting for each. We know that only renewable energy will be with us moving forward; as far as we’re able, let us strive to invest in energy that is both clean and renewable. And let us reduce our power usage as much as possible, knowing that every source has negative aspects.
In the past month or so I’ve watched two very intriguing documentaries about environmental activists who go to prison for their actions. Readers of this blog know I advocate for nonviolent social action, and I just want to highlight that again in the context of these two films.
The first is If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (PBS, film website, Wikipedia, IMDB, DemocracyNow!) which follows the story of Daniel McGowan. As a member of the ELF, McGowan had participated in arson as a tactic for social and environmental change. The film simultaneously tells the ELF’s story and follows court proceedings against McGowan.
If a Tree Falls is compelling story-telling. It is a provocative look at the sociological, psychological, and political factors that radicalized the local environmental activist community. I appreciated that the filmmakers allowed the activists and the law enforcement personnel to be complex; they weren’t dumbed down to one-dimensional caricatures. These are complex issues with complex actors, and I value that this messiness was allowed to come through.
More recently, I watched Bidder 70, which looks at the actions of Tim DeChristopher relating to conservation and climate change (film website, organization, Facebook, IMBD, Peaceful Uprising). Rather than take a violent or destructive approach like McGowan, DeChristopher interfered with an auction of extraction rights by holding up his bidding number, 70.
I have a deep respect for people who find creative and meaningful ways to live our their values. I respect even more those who dedicate themselves to pursuing this integration of values and living in peaceful or nonviolent ways.
Am I as committed to my values as these two young men are?
To what degree have I integrated my values and actions? What holds me back from doing this more fully?
What sacrifices am I willing to make to live what I believe and to promote my values?
What role did community play in the lives of these two men? How did community influence them before, during and after the actions noted in these films?
In the area of environmental activism, what is needed today? What issues, strategies and tactics are most important at this stage in world history?
Want to find more films that address some of these same themes? Check out the follow twelve films on protest and social action: