Dirty Coal

How should scientists communicate about climate?


By 1Sky blogger Janelle Corn, Ph.D. See her bio at the end of this post. -- Luis

Alex Bea recently posted a review of a publication (.pdf) that will help us all communicate more effectively about climate change. This led me to consider how I, as an ecologist, might add to the discussion about effective communication.

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Organizing tip: shadowing your senators in August


By 1Sky intern Amy Plovnick. -- Luis

If, like me, you are frustrated and angry that the Senate has failed to pass legislation to address the climate crisis, you might be wondering what you can do about it. Clearly, senators need to hear that it is unacceptable that they did not address the biggest challenge of our time. We need to use grassroots pressure to show our senators that they must do their job on climate – and if they don’t, they will risk facing the consequences. But how can we deliver this message?

One way to put pressure on elected officials is through shadowing them at town halls, candidate forums, and other public events. Shadowing, also known as bird-dogging, involves going to public (and sometimes private) events and asking elected officials questions that will get them to take a strong position on climate or expose their lack of effort on the issue. Throughout the August congressional recess, when members of Congress return to their districts, 1Sky volunteers will be asking them to rise above the influence of Dirty Coal and Big Oil and do their job to address climate change.

Here are some tips for making your shadowing event successful, based on the experiences of 1Sky volunteers:

  • Shadowing is a team effort: A successful shadowing squad involves more than one person asking a difficult but relevant question to their elected official. There are plenty of other ways to be involved in an essential way, such as by contacting the media before the event, making signs, recruiting people, and documenting the event. Which brings me to…
  • Take pictures and video: Recording the event is critical for getting the word out, especially if the elected official says something notorious like this:

    So make sure that you have people assigned to record and photograph the question being asked and the senator’s answer, as well as your group with signs and props. To capture a great, compelling photo, remember to…
  • Use visuals! This August, we will be using the visual of oily hands to convey the scope of our addiction to fossil fuels and show the influence of dirty energy money in Congress. You can also make large signs that convey your message. Make sure that the person or people you have designated to ask the question are not holding signs or visuals, as it might make the elected official less likely to listen to them. When you do get to ask a question…
  • Be assertive, and don’t be afraid to follow up. Practice asking the question beforehand so you feel confident about it. If there is a limited amount of time, be assertive so that you have the opportunity to ask your question. If the elected official tries to give an easy answer ( “I support clean energy”), ask a follow-up question to get them to take a strong position on the issue (“What will you do to make sure that we transition to a clean energy economy and don’t invest in new coal-fired power plants?”).

If you follow these suggestions and come up with creative ideas of your own, your shadowing event is sure to be a success. By keeping the heat on our elected officials, we can turn our anger into action, and our action into a reality in which Congress comes to its senses and addresses climate change.

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Cry for an oil spill

You wonder when we as a country will ever learn.”

That's a quote from blogger John Atchison in his Helium piece on the latest oil spill disaster in our country.

Last week, a million gallons of oil spilled into the Kalamazoo River in southwest Michigan. My wife grew up on that river. She recalls a childhood watching the ducks, egrets, and fish that populated the river just out her back door. We were married right along the river on a warm day in July fourteen years ago. For us, it was a symbol of the flow and continuity of life. My wife sobbed as we watched the news reports about the spill, knowing it may or may not converge into Lake Michigan and that the clean up is expected to take months.

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Poll: 64% of Americans reject Big Oil & Dirty Coal

Wind Turbine 225x188

Now that the true cost of our fossil fuel addiction has become appallingly clear over the last seven weeks, the need for action is beginning to sink in with the American people.

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Guest blog: Michigan activists smack down dirty energy


By Jesse Worker, former 1Sky organizer and clean energy organizer for Clean Water Michigan. -- Luis

Within just two weeks in April, the massive risks of fossil fuel reliance to our security, economy and environment were exposed in two tragic disasters in West Virginia and the Gulf of Mexico. The astounding arrogance in Massey Energy’s disregard for safety regulations and BP’s unwillingness to share information on the extent the Deepwater Horizon leak has rightfully fueled the public outrage at these catastrophes.

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My chat with President Obama: Don’t be stubborn about it -- or we will be! (UPDATED 3-23-10)


Update: Soon after my exchange with President Obama, I sent him this letter urging him to abandon the fantasy of "clean coal." I received a reply by an official from the Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy, to which I replied soon after. Click here to read the exchange.

Last night, I went to hear what President Obama had to say at a Gen44 event organized by the Democratic National Committee (note that I took time off from 1Sky to attend the event because 1Sky is a 501(c)(3) organization and we can’t -- and don’t -- do any electoral work).

Anyway, I happened to catch President Obama on a rope line and decided on the fly to challenge him on the mythology of clean coal since our base has been so concerned about his repeated calls for clean coal (and nuclear and oil drilling) alongside real renewable energy solutions. My partner Louis captured the exchange on his iPhone.

Here is what happened and a transcript as best as I can put it together since the audio isn’t great, especially on my voice -- although Obama comes through loud and clear and we have our work cut out for us!

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Sen. Rockefeller and Rep. Rahall launch another assault on the Clean Air Act


Yesterday morning, while 1Sky supporters made thousands of phone calls to Senate offices showing their support for climate action, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) was busy introducing yet another measure to halt efforts to fight climate change under the Clean Air Act. His new bill (S.3072) would put a two-year freeze on the Clean Air Act enforcement that is needed to reduce global warming emissions from big polluters. Representatives Nick Rahall (D-WV), Alan Mollohan (D-WV), and Rick Boucher (D-VA) also introduced an identical bill (H.R.4753) in the House. The bills would not only prevent regulation of carbon emissions from big polluters, but would also prevent any research or planning relating to such emissions, dramatically blocking the road to a clean energy future.

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