Saturday, November 25, 2006

By Wayne Sky (Cayuga) at vtweb Posted by Picasa
The Turning

It's beginning, even in advance of the Democratic takeover of Congress. A story on the front page of today's Washington Post: "While the political debate over global warming continues, top executives at many of the nation's largest energy companies have accepted the scientific consensus about climate change and see federal regulation to cut greenhouse gas emissions as inevitable."

The politics is encouraging acceptance of the science. "'We have to deal with greenhouse gases," John Hofmeister, president of Shell Oil Co., said in a recent speech at the National Press Club. "From Shell's point of view, the debate is over. When 98 percent of scientists agree, who is Shell to say, 'Let's debate the science'?"

And these companies are acting: "The companies have been hiring new lobbyists who they hope can help fashion a national approach that would avert a patchwork of state plans now in the works. They are also working to change some company practices in anticipation of the regulation."

In an immediate sense, this began right after the elections when it became known that Senator Barbara Boxer would become the new chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, chaired under the Republicans by the extreme Climate Crisis denier, James Inofe. Boxer immediately made the Climate Crisis her top priority, and an urgent one. Said one story: There's a new environmental policy boss in town, she scowls a lot, and two of her favorite phrases are "global warming" and "extensive hearings."

Then Boxer was joined by two other incoming chairs in the Senate-- Democrat Jeff Bingaman of Energy and Natural Resources, and Independent Joe Lieberman of Homeland Security--in calling on President Bush to support and sign legislation aimed at addressing the Climate Crisis. This happened as UN Secretary General Kofi Anan called out world leaders to give urgent priority to the Climate Crisis.

Then came word that Inofe would not only be replaced by Boxer as chair, but that Senator John Warner would seek to replace him as ranking Republican on the committee, so that Warner could advocate action on the Climate Crisis.

All of this could happen so fast because the Bushites and related Climate Crisis deniers were gradually becoming a small and extreme minority, as the evidence became overwhelming, and political support for change began to grow. When even Exxon Mobil, which in tandem with Philip Morris, financed most of the Climate Crisis denying in the world for the past decade, suggested it might be relenting, resistance began breaking like the Arctic and Antarctic ice. If there are going to be new laws, especially governing new power plants, these companies want to be part of the conversation.

A lot still must happen, a lot of corporate pressure must be resisted on the details, and the Bush administration remains stubbornly entrenched in its denier position. But the Turning has begun. It can't come too soon--not with more warnings that humanity may have a decade or less to institute effective action to save the future, in a world where one report just found that, despite all the global discussion and pledges, the growth in carbon emissions is virtually out of control. When the Turning truly comes, the work can really begin--the work that will absorb the world for the foreseeable future.

The original Japanese film Gojira, a much better and more serious film than the U.S version of Godzilla, is available here for the first time in 50 years. An essay on it now at Soul of Star Trek and (sanitized of Trek references) at The Boomer Hall of Fame. See side panel for links. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 23, 2006

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Save Darfur

The most effective television spot I've seen for a long time is devilishly simple: it is comprised of a number of "people like us"--mostly white, but also Latino and African-American--reading briefly from horrific accounts of black Africans caught in the savagery of Darfur.

To hear a white person say he watched a spouse being raped, and then burned, cuts through the automatic numbness of our inability to understand how this can be happening. The actions are so unbelievable--so foreign to our own lives or even what we can imagine in a place like Iraq--that to see fleeting images of it happening to people we almost never see on our televisions--is incomprehensible. It's too much.

The genocide in Darfur but also in neighboring areas is overwhelming, and we hear almost nothing about it. At times like these, it becomes important to find something we can do.

This simple ad was created for an organization called Save Darfur, which is a coalition of faith-based and humanitarian organizations. Because we have all turned away from seeing this for so long, awareness is the necessary first step to effective international action.

This is a good time, because it seems action is possible. Here are some of the actions you can take, to become a voice for Darfur.

As those of us in the U.S. give thanks for what we have, let us remember that the ripples of injustice, need and violence go far across the seas to a place where great beauty and the worst humans seem capable of coexist in a heartbreaking land. Wearing a wristband, or sending an email isn't much. But it's not nothing.