Thursday, January 3, 2013

STL Climate Change Year in Review - Drought, Cease-and-Desists, and Acción!

Hello everyone.

Have you enjoyed your nice turkey dinners? Have you enjoyed / endured your families? Have you done away with your ironic Christmas sweaters and steeled yourself for the reality of the new year? Time for resolutions and reflection and etc.!

2012 was a bit of a doozy for climate change shenanigans. Globally we had the Doha climate talks and record high carbon emissions, nationally we had many environmentalists nearly weep with joy since Obama was still physically capable of speaking the words "climate change" (acting on it appropriately still a different matter), regionally we suffered from one of the worst droughts in US history, and locally Saint Louis still reigns supreme as CO2 Emissions HQ.

Also locally, concerned groups and individuals have continued to hammer at Peabody Energy, the world's largest coal company, for its unique role as a perpetrator of climate change. Unions and environmental groups took aim at the tax-dodging polluter at its shareholder meeting as part of the 99% Spring. The city-wide sustainable future ballot initiative has taken off, and 2012 also saw the first concerted targeting of institutions in Saint Louis that provide cover for or legitimize what Peabody does. The message is that cities are not havens or playgrounds for powerful, polluting corporate interests.

Lots-o'-laughs, bit of police state and corporate intimidation, and new strong relationships formed ... but what's the point? How do you know you're doing anything useful? Well one way to measure success is by the reaction of the interests you are opposing. Peabody Energy was nice enough to acknowledge in the kindest terms (by way of a cease-and-desist letter) the work that a number of people in Saint Louis have been doing:

It's hard to interpret this cease-and-desist letter as anything other than a glowing review and so we were delighted to accept it. Because they are so supportive, Peabody should know that "disruption of its annual shareholders meeting, vandalism of one of its billboards, ... and an untruthful claim" regarding one of its "philanthropic partners" is just a preview of what's headed their way this year. Until they take the keen business advice given to them by some disruptive shareholders of not existing, then their continued exploitation of people and the planet will be brought to light in potentially unflattering ways.

Of course Peabody is really just a collection of legal documents, folks collecting paychecks, and executives capable of the normal sort of cognitive dissonance-enabled death wishes needed in order to satisfy their shareholders while avoiding reality. The struggle is broader than a handful of corporations, and there will be plenty of discussion to go around on how best to address climate change (see below for such opportunities). Anyone can get involved!

So what's some stuff going on right now??!?....

The STL Sustainable Energy Future Ballot Initiative is on its way to collecting the requisite number of signatures to get on the next ballot for a city-wide vote. No longer will giant extractive industries (or their lobbyists and lawyers) be able to get tax breaks from a city that needs to get its head on straight about who should benefit from such tax breaks. There are signature-gathering caravans heading out regularly so if you'd like to get involved then contact Arielle at

MORE, RAMPS, and BMIS are jointly hosting a Winter Action Camp this month. You can still register for a two-day intensive training open to the public on January 19th and 20th (contact for info). In addition to this intensive training there will be a community-wide discussion on January 21st at 7 PM at the SEUI Office (5585 Pershing Ave) to address what should be done on the ground to confront climate change. This discussion will go beyond the usual suspects of what's generally offered as a solution to climate change and allow for people to get informed and get empowered.

On a personal note, because climate change is the most important issue in my life, I spend a great amount of time trying to figure out how to convey my thoughts on the matter. Am I being too radical or not radical enough? Am I being too preachy or am I not being honest about what I know is at stake? Am I not acknowledging the high amount of privilege I have to be able to say and do things I think are necessary? How should I appeal to every type of person? I really don't like writing, and I hate "messaging."

I don't know what it takes to convince anyone reading this to act for the preservation of the environment. I can relate personal stories, I can give dire facts, I can share what gives me hope, but I don't know what of that will work. And so what I would ask is that you take the time to consider your actions, and constantly reassess what is best for you to do, and to be honest when doing so. I beg that you do this, because so far what we have been doing collectively as a species is not working, and we are running out of time. I have reason to believe that we can succeed, and I know that you don't have to feel powerless. You're not.

1 comment:

  1. A well-written update & review ... Thanks, Chris, for the helpful info, encouragement, and heartfelt call to action !