The Skywriter

Weekly roundup 9/10/10: Navel-gazing and direct action (and inaction) (VIDEO)


Weekly roundup 9/10/10: Navel-gazing and direct action (and inaction) (VIDEO)


How could a four-day work week after Labor Day and with the Senate in recess still feel so full? Could we possibly have much to talk about? Actually, we always have a lot to talk about, and this week it’s about contemplating the movement, direct action against mountaintop removal, pondering the failure of a comprehensive climate bill, and a wrap on Bill McKibben's excellent solar adventure.

First, I would be remiss in not mentioning that this week marks Liz Butler’s first full week as 1Sky’s Campaign Director. Liz, who comes into the job after three years at 1Sky, is a natural to lead our renewed efforts in taking on Dirty Coal, pushing the Obama Administration towards clean energy solutions, and helping grow the climate movement. Read her post on our next steps and follow her on Twitter. She’ll have a lot to say in the coming weeks on how we’ll be working together to expand the movement.

And the movement needs it because we seem to be caught in this endless cycle of self-analysis on the lack of a comprehensive climate bill from the Senate. Grist had two blogs this week on what the movement needs to do to win: Carrie La Seur’s excellent perspective from the Plains States and rural movements and a piece from the heads of state at our allies at, Greenpeace USA, and Rainforest Action Network on the need for new ideas for the movement. The call for new ideas and direct action hearkens back to our own Grist post on movement building just a few weeks ago. In this recent post, these three groups invite everyone to the table and spell out the sense of urgency for direct action and why you should submit your ideas:

We're making progress, but not as fast as the physical situation is deteriorating. Time is not on our side, so we've concluded that going forward mass direct action must play a bigger role in this movement, as it eventually did in the suffrage movement, the civil-rights movement, and the fight against corporate globalization."

The piece also spells out the great work of “environmentalists in places like the coalfields of Appalachia have been putting these tactics to good use.” Those said activists will be in Washington, DC on August 28th for Appalachia Rising, billed as “the largest mobilization against mountaintop removal and surface mining in United States history.” Tim DeChristopher in his It’s Getting Hot In Here post says it will be important for the movement to get away from "hyper-individualism" and to feel the "powerful force of a united movement":

The more I advocate for stronger and bolder action from climate activists, the more I see the need for real human connections. No amount of social media can match the empowerment of being in the streets with thousands of other people who share our passion. That’s why mass mobilizations that engage in bold action are so important for our movement."

Good call (although I always like to point out that social media is a good means to an end and couples great with direct action, so have your cell phones, cameras, and video cameras out there on when you march this month!).

Washington, D.C. needs some action on coal, clean energy, and climate change, especially after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) basically called climate legislation is done for the year, calling for a "piecemeal approach" for the next go-round. The bloggers at the National Journal think they have the answers to what could come next in the absence of a comprehensive climate bill. Joe Romm lamented on why Obama put health care ahead of climate legislation... and WaPo's Ezra Klein, ThinkProgress' Matthew Yglesias, and Mother Jones' Kevin Carter responded. FireDogLake's David Dayen discusses the movement's lost opportunity in regards to the President and the Senate, stating:

It’s possible to agree that presidents have limits to which they can set priorities in national policy, and to say that this President, with an interest in creating a new energy future, has missed a massive opportunity. The fact that the BP oil spill came and went without a move away from the status quo architecture of the US energy system is a testament to that missed opportunity. However, there probably isn’t even a majority in the massively distorted representation that makes up the Senate for these kinds of changes, let alone 60 votes. The Congress and particularly the Senate deserves much of the blame."

But only the Administration will be to blame for not putting solar panels back on the White House. FOC ("Friend of the Campaign" and 1Sky board member) Bill McKibben and his crew traveled from Maine to DC to return the President Carter-era solar panels back to their rightful place on top of the White House as part of's Put Solar on It campaign. In the end, the White House didn't put solar on it, but Bill and Co. expected that:

As we expected (but secretly hoped wouldn’t be the case), the White House didn’t commit to … well, anything. We tossed them a big, fat soft ball to hit out of the park and they just watched it float on by."

Too bad, but the campaign made its point as the movement pulls together and heads toward the 10/10/10 Global Work Party Day of Action. We need direct action and to make direct connections and create an impact on our leaders for our future.

Maybe Obama officials should have caught McKibben's recent appearance on Letterman. It hit all the climate and enviro blogs last week, but here it is again in case you missed it:

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