Mark Brodine writes at People’s World:
The really good news: As climate change is escalating, the fightback is escalating as well.
— 350.org is leading two crucial current struggles, the effort to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, and the growing movement of campuses and in cities and states to divest from fossil fuel companies. In one recent innovative effort, activists built a solar-powered barn in Nebraska right in the path of the Keystone pipeline.
— Communities in the Pacific Northwest and anti-coal activists are campaigning against efforts to massively increase railroad traffic and port capacity to ship more dirty coal to China. A totem pole titled “We draw the line” is traveling the country as part of the campaign, carved by members of the Lummi Nation and supported by other Native American tribes and nations. Communities all along the path of the increased rail traffic are mounting local protests, petition drives, and public education efforts. Environmental activists are pointing out, as the “Do the Math’ video demonstrates, that much of the remaining fossil fuel needs to stay in the ground for the future of humanity.
— The scientific community is fighting back. Tired of being a punching bag for right-wing loonies (Ted Cruz’s “wacko bird” caucus), scientists are fighting back with facts, more in-depth studies, more publicity for scientific facts, and are engaging in the public discourse. Many scientists have realized that it is not enough to just have the facts on your side, you also have to join the public battles over what to do with those facts. James Hansen, for example, has gone from just testifying before Congress to getting arrested at a demonstration earlier this year, and regularly writes op-eds for major newspapers and magazines, as does scientist Michael Mann.
— Unions, at least some of them, are recognizing their interest in these battles, and joining environmental organizations as partners. This has been building for several years, with the Blue-Green Alliance, between the Steelworkers and the Sierra Club, campaigning for jobs building a new energy economy. The Connecticut AFL-CIO recently adopted a resolution on climate change.
Environmental organizations, at least some of them, are realizing that they need an alliance with unions and workers in order to win. An appeal to the recent AFL-CIO convention by dozens of environmental groups called on the labor movement to take a leading role in the struggle, in the long-term interests of its members. In a recent speech to a Canadian union convention, Naomi Klein argued for unions to join the environmental battles.
— Many industries and small businesses are confronting the reality of climate change and its impact on their work.
For example, in the Pacific Northwest, oyster farmers have had to open seeding beds in Hawaii, since the traditional beds in Southwest Washington are experiencing too much ocean acidity for the oysters to begin forming shells. Once the oysters have successfully begun the process of shell growth, they are brought to the Northwest. But the traditional practices are no longer working. This brings home to many people in many areas that climate change science is real and we need to act.
Similarly, wine growers are realizing that in the future, the areas of the world that are best for growing wine grapes are going to be moving, and the entire industry needs to adapt, and to recognize that this shift has impacts far beyond just moving vineyards.
Increasingly, it is only the coal and oil industries that refuse to acknowledge the reality of climate change.
— As extreme weather events escalate around the country, from Hurricane Sandy to torrential rains and floods in Colorado, the hypocrisy of Republican anti-science anti-government elected officials is exposed. They are the “Only in My Backyard” caucus, voting against emergency assistance to anyone, except when it is in their own districts and might affect their chances of re-election.
— Fracking is also seeing many battles, as the leaks from processing shale oil pollute the drinking water of local communities, as the harmful chemicals used in the process spread to surrounding areas, and as the claims of safety by the industry are exposed as fraudulent.
— Many cities and states are receiving the results of studies of how climate change will impact them, and as a result there are battles at every level against Republican deniers – as in Norfolk, Va., and other coastal cities.
— With a recent legislative deal in Congress, several Obama appointees who had been unable to get congressional confirmation managed to get around the Republican roadblocks, including Gina McCarthy as director of the Environmental Protection Agency. She has moved aggressively to institute carbon emission limits for new power plants and begin the process for existing power plants. While this is of course not enough by itself, it is a major positive step forward, a down payment on President Obama’s commitment in his inaugural and State of the Union speeches earlier this year, where he promised executive branch action on climate change, saying “We don’t need a meeting of the Flat Earth Society.”