Up@dawn 2.0

Friday, December 8, 2017

Radio Free Vermont: A Fable of Resistance

"I hope no one secedes, but I also hope that Americans figure out creative ways to resist injustice and create communities where everybody counts. We've got a long history of resistance in Vermont and this book is testimony to that fact." 
-Bernie Sanders 

A book that's also the beginning of a movement, Bill McKibben's debut novel Radio Free Vermont follows a band of Vermont patriots who decide that their state might be better off as its own republic.

As the host of Radio Free Vermont--"underground, underpowered, and underfoot"--seventy-two-year-old Vern Barclay is currently broadcasting from an "undisclosed and double-secret location." With the help of a young computer prodigy named Perry Alterson, Vern uses his radio show to advocate for a simple yet radical idea: an independent Vermont, one where the state secedes from the United States and operates under a free local economy. But for now, he and his radio show must remain untraceable, because in addition to being a lifelong Vermonter and concerned citizen, Vern Barclay is also a fugitive from the law.

In Radio Free Vermont, Bill McKibben entertains and expands upon an idea that's become more popular than ever--seceding from the United States. Along with Vern and Perry, McKibben imagines an eccentric group of activists who carry out their own version of guerilla warfare, which includes dismissing local middle school children early in honor of 'Ethan Allen Day' and hijacking a Coors Light truck and replacing the stock with local brew. Witty, biting, and terrifyingly timely, Radio Free Vermont is Bill McKibben's fictional response to the burgeoning resistance movement. goodreads

Thursday, December 7, 2017

"The Climate Crisis? It's Capitalism..."

Even casual readers of the news know that the earth is probably going to look very different in 2100, and not in a good way.

A recent Times opinion piece included this quotation from the paleoclimatologist Lee Kump: “The rate at which we’re injecting CO2 into the atmosphere today, according to our best estimates, is 10 times faster than it was during the End-Permian.”

The End-Permian is a pre-dinosaurs era of mass extinction that killed 90 percent of the life in the ocean and 75 percent of it on land. It is also called the Great Dying. Although those who write about environmental change like to add notes of false personalization around this point — “My children will be x years old when catastrophe y happens” — there is really no good way of acclimating the mind to facts of this magnitude.

However, the cause of the disaster that, by all indications, we are already living through should be clearer. It is not the result of the failure of individuals to adopt the moralizing strictures of “green” consciousness, and it is a sign of just how far we have to go that some still believe reusable shopping bags and composting (perfectly fine in their own right) are ways out of this mess.

It is also not the deceit of specific immoral companies that is to blame: We like to pick out Volkswagen’s diesel scandal, but it is only one of many carmakers that “deliberately exploit lax emissions tests.” Nor does the onus fall on the foundering of Social Democratic reforms and international cooperation: Even before the United States backed out of the Paris Accord, we were well on our way to a 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit temperature rise by 2100, “a temperature that at times in the past has meant no ice at either pole.”

(Stone, continues)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Is Climate-Themed Fiction All Too Real?

When extraordinary hurricanes and floods battered parts of the United States and Caribbean this month, Paolo Bacigalupi’s readers started sending him news clips. In “Ship Breaker,” which was nominated for a National Book Award in 2010, Mr. Bacigalupi, a science fiction writer, had invented a monster “Category 6” hurricane.

Now, his readers were asking: Is this what you were talking about?

Climate change presents a peculiar challenge to novelists; it often seems to simmer without a singular moment of crisis. So fiction writers like Mr. Bacigalupi hurtle current science into drought-ravaged, flooded, starved, sunken and sandy futures. Climate-themed fiction, like most science fiction, is extension, not invention.

But as scientists’ projections about the effects of climate change have increasingly become reality, some works of apocalyptic fiction have begun to seem all too plausible. We chose seven climate-themed stories and asked the experts: How likely are they to come true?

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The cost of abandoning the Paris climate agreement

By abandoning the Paris agreement on climate change, the United States risks missing out on up to $23 trillion in climate-smart investment opportunities worldwide, a George Mason University professor said.

That will allow other countries to take advantage of the opportunities that will open in emerging markets by 2030, according to a report by the International Finance Corporation.

“They’re doing everything they can to put their businesses front and center to compete for those contracts in that $23 trillion economy,” Andrew Light said of countries such as China and India. “We’re not, and we’re doing it for ideological reasons.”

Light, a University Professor who from 2013-16 worked for the U.S. Department of State as a senior negotiator on the Paris agreement, said the pullout from the agreement doesn’t preclude U.S. businesses from bidding for those contracts.

“But two things have happened,” Light said. “Reputationally, our businesses are going to suffer because we’re turning our back on the rest of the world. If you look at what happened on climate at the G20, we’re isolated. Only the U.S. didn’t sign on to the action plan on climate change. The second thing that happened is you don’t have a government, as we did under the Obama and George W. Bush administrations, using institutions like the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and all our bilateral programs on energy assistance to grease the tracks, as the Chinese and the European Union and others are doing.”

President Donald Drumpf’s abandonment of the Paris agreement is personal for Light, as well, as both his grandfathers were West Virginia coal miners. Light acknowledged the loss of coal jobs in that state, but said the causes are automation and cheap natural gas, not regulations associated with meeting the goals of the Paris agreement, as Drumpf has suggested.

“He talks again and again about how the commitment to fulfilling its targets under Paris was going to destroy jobs in the United States, and saying we’re leaving the agreement to help those communities in West Virginia,” Light said. “No sir, that’s not how you help those communities. You do not destroy one thing in hopes of saving the other.

“I think we can make the transition to renewable energy in a very just way that also does justice to the legacy of what people have done in the communities where my parents grew up, and then help them find a more sustainable basis for their environment and their economy moving forward.”

Andrew Light, George Mason University
Andrew Light can be reached at 703-993-6530 or alight1@gmu.edu.
From George Mason University:
Climate change is one of the most crucial issues of our time, and one of the most complex. University Professor Andrew Light has captured international attention for his work in helping to create global solutions to this problem. In recognition of his work, the International Society for Environmental Ethics awarded him its inaugural Public Philosophy Award, and announced the award is to be renamed the Andrew Light Award for Public Philosophy.
In naming the award, the environmental ethics group focused primarily on Light’s work inside and outside government in creation of the 2016 Paris Agreement on Climate Change. On leave from George Mason from 2013-16, Light worked at the U.S. Department of State as one of the senior members of the delegation that negotiated the landmark agreement.
Ken Shockley, the Holmes Rolston III Chair in Environmental Ethics and Philosophy at Colorado State University, presented the Public Philosophy Award, noting Light’s extraordinary capacity for working across traditional barriers and boundaries, whether between disciplines or between public policy and academic work.
Light’s work on the Paris Agreement was also recognized in March 2016 with the inaugural Alain Locke Award for Public Philosophy, presented by the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy. In July 2016, the U.S. Department of State awarded him a Superior Honor Award for “contributions to the U.S. effort that made the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris, where the landmark Paris Agreement was concluded, a historic success.”
Light has been at Mason since 2008, and is director of the university’s Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy, in which leading ethicists and political scientists offer expertise on public policy issues, including peace and security, bioethics, climate change and other topics involving environmental sustainability.
One of the originators of the environmental pragmatism school of environmental ethics, Light has authored or edited 19 books and more than 100 articles, book chapters and policy reports. He also is a founding co-editor of the journal “Ethics, Policy, and Environment,” now in its 20th year.
“I’m humbled to be recognized in this way for my own work, but I’ll be really thrilled when I start to see people win this award who are working on issues that are completely different from what I’ve done,” Light said. “Providing important components to improve regional planning issues or working with local communities to establish their own sustainable agricultural systems. There are all kinds of ways in which people can embody what I think this award is trying to celebrate.”
Light defends the Paris Agreement 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

"death knell of the internal combustion engine"

Great news! Another Volvo in my future?
...Volvo Cars on Wednesday became the first mainstream automaker to sound the death knell of the internal combustion engine, saying that all the models it introduces from 2019 will be either hybrids or powered solely by batteries.
The decision is the boldest commitment by any major car company to technologies that currently represent a small share of the total vehicle market, but that are increasingly viewed as essential to combating climate change and urban pollution.
While most major automakers offer hybrids and battery-powered options, none of them have been willing to forsake cars powered solely by gasoline or diesel fuel. On the contrary, United States automakers have continued to churn out S.U.V.s and pickup trucks, whose sales have surged because of relatively low fuel prices.
Yet Volvo’s move may be the latest sign that the era of the gas guzzler is slowly coming to an end. Tesla, which makes only limited numbers of electric cars, this year surpassed Ford and General Motors in terms of stock market value, despite making significantly fewer cars than those automotive giants — a clear indication of where investors think the industry is headed...Continue reading the main sto

"Utopia for a dystopian age"

"...Thomas More’s island "utopia" was an earthly paradise of plenty. No amount of human intervention would ever exhaust its resources. We know better. As the climate is rapidly changing and the species extinction rate reaches unprecedented levels, we desperately need to conceive of alternative ways of inhabiting the planet.

Are our industrial, capitalist societies able to make the requisite changes? If not, where should we be headed? This is a utopian question as good as any. It is deep and universalistic. Yet it calls for neither a break with the past nor a headfirst dive into the future. The German thinker Ernst Bloch argued that all utopias ultimately express yearning for a reconciliation with that from which one has been estranged. They tell us how to get back home. A 21st-century utopia of nature would do that. It would remind us that we belong to nature, that we are dependent on it and that further alienation from it will be at our own peril."

Espen Hammer, nyt Stone