REVEREND SALLY BINGHAM

Faith-Based Groups Jump on the Climate Change Bandwagon

Text excerpted from the book: PROTECTING THE PLANET-Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change (ISBN 978-1-63388-225-6)

by

Budd Titlow & Mariah Tinger

http://www.buddtitlow.com

In 1998 at Grace Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco, California, Reverend Sally Bingham founded the Interfaith Power & Light (IPL)—a staunchly environmental, faith-based organization.  IPL now has affiliates in 40 states, involving a total of 18,000 congregations. The mission of IPL’s campaign is to be faithful stewards of Creation by responding to Global Warming through the promotion of energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. Their goals are protecting the Earth’s ecosystems, safeguarding the health of all Creation, and ensuring sufficient, sustainable energy for all.

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 29: Reverend Sally Bingham attends The National Audubon Society 10th Anniversary Women in Conservation Luncheon on May 29, 2013 in New York, United States. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images)

In her capacity as President of IPL, Reverend Bingham has brought widespread attention to the link between religious faith and the environment through her work on The Regeneration Project and the IPL Campaign. As one of the first faith leaders to fully recognize Global Warming as a core moral issue, she has mobilized thousands of religious people to put their faith into action through energy stewardship.


In her leadership role at IPL, Reverend Bingham has sparked a growing crescendo of God’s mandate to humans to be faithful stewards of Creation.

In her leadership role at IPL, Reverend Bingham has sparked a growing crescendo of God’s mandate to humans to be faithful stewards of Creation.“Every person of faith should become aware of their moral responsibility to be a steward of Creation.  God put Adam in the garden to till and to keep (Genesis). Every mainstream religion has a mandate to care for Creation. Sometimes [followers] have not thought about it or they have not addressed it, and then they see an opportunity to really be faithful stewards of Creation and they join our program,” she explained in an interview. 

Bingham went on to say, “People who sit in houses of worship and say they love God and their neighbors have a particular obligation to take care of the Earth and each other.  If you sit in a pew on Sunday and say you love God and you love your neighbor, how can you not be taking care of your neighbor’s air and water? They are now starting to recognize that responsibility and act.”

That responsibility is deeply connected to her knowledge that Climate Change is harming the people of the world, and her faith mandates a responsibility to care for them. “[Climate Change] affects every single aspect of life, affects every living thing—starting with the rising sea, the temperature change, the number of long heat days that are causing people to die…the fact that the droughts are more extreme and are disrupting crops…the fact that people are starving because they can’t grow food in an area that has not had any rain in five years…that the storms that are so much more severe than they ever were and are killing people and destroying properties,” says Reverend Bingham with a note of sadness in her voice. She continues, “It is happening because the climate is changing.  Why is the climate changing? Because we are putting too much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.”

One poignant action that she hopes congregations will do is to join the IPL campaign. The IPL is a growing national movement that is completely interfaith, as the name implies. The campaign has brought massive growth and awareness to religious people about their responsibility to protect the climate.  IPL began with an episcopal church in the diocese of California asking its congregations to buy renewable energy for their electricity.  Those congregations served as examples to their communities and it grew rapidly from there. 

IPL began with an episcopal church in the diocese of California asking its congregations to buy renewable energy for their electricity.

Prior to COP21 in Paris, IPL requested its members to take the Paris Pledge to show the world that the faith community in the United States is committed to cutting emissions, creating jobs, and saving money at the same time. Indeed, IPL took an eleven foot long scroll with 4,500 congregations and individual households who pledged to cut their carbon emissions in half by 2030 and be carbon neutral by 2050.

Reverend Bingham knows as well as anyone that the environment has become a political issue. Bingham says, “It is almost universal that if you are a Democrat you are an environmentalist and if you are a Republican you are not. That unfortunately is a big stumbling block for the issue. We don’t believe in our organization that the environment is a political issue, we see it is as an issue of science but in the big picture, it is a moral issue.  Where are our values, what do we care about, what is our responsibility to the future and it’s about how to leave this world to come back to our moral integrity.”

While Reverend Bingham does not offer solutions for solving the politicization of environmental issues, she is enthusiastic about the willingness to think differently on the issues in the religious community. The majority of the people she speaks with are in support of her initiatives, though on occasion she receives push back. “What we have come up against occasionally because our focus has been on Climate Change is that God would never allow anything bad to happen to Creation.  And then we have to do some explanation about how God has given us Free Choice and some of our choices have been harmful to Creation.  Mostly we get the comment that I had never thought about like that before,” she offers. Religiously, she thinks people are really on board with human beings as the species put on planet to keep it safe and healthy for not only ourselves, but the people that come after us.  “There are very few people that would argue with that,” Reverend Bingham asserts.

Pope Francis’ message in his 2015 “Environmental Encyclical” saying, similarly, that this is about the moral values that every person of integrity needs to have.  His Encyclical was not just for Roman Catholics it was for people that have a conscious.  Through IPL, Reverend Bingham has been teaching this for over fifteen years, “and now to have somebody as well known, as famous and as popular as Pope Francis to come out and say the same thing, it has been hugely helpful to our movement” explains Bingham. This message is being received extremely enthusiastically, and people see participation in the IPL program as an opportunity to be faithful stewards of Creation.

Reverend Bingham’s hope for our future comes from the fact that more and more people are involved and concerned.  She believes we are almost a critical mass and soon things will change for the better.  “We stopped smoking almost overnight when enough people were touched by disease due to cigarettes.  We are close to enough people being harmed by climate change now that it can no longer be denied.  People of faith are taking a leading role and once the moral and religious leaders are involved and speaking out the movement will succeed.”


Author’s bio:For the past 50 years, professional ecologist and conservationist Budd Titlow has used his pen and camera to capture the awe and wonders of our natural world. His goal has always been to inspire others to both appreciate and enjoy what he sees. Now he has one main question: Can we save humankind’s place — within nature’s beauty — before it’s too late? Budd’s two latest books are dedicated to answering this perplexing dilemma. PROTECTING THE PLANET: Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change, a non-fiction book, examines whether we still have the environmental heroes among us — harking back to such past heroes as Audubon, Hemenway, Muir, Douglas, Leopold, Brower, Carson, and Meadows — needed to accomplish this goal. Next, using fact-filled and entertaining story-telling, his latest book — COMING FULL CIRCLE: A Sweeping Saga of Conservation Stewardship Across America — provides the answers we all seek and need.Having published five books, more than 500 photo-essays, and 5,000 photographs, Budd Titlow lives with his music educator wife, Debby, in San Diego, California.

Paul Hawken, Natural Capitalism, and Project Drawdown

Paul Hawken—Innovator / Visionary

Text excerpted from the book: PROTECTING THE PLANET-Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change (ISBN 978-1-63388-225-6)

by

Budd Titlow & Mariah Tinger

http://www.buddtitlow.com

When it comes down to personal ingenuity and plans for solving Climate Change, one man stands head and shoulders above all.  Entrepreneur Paul Hawken has parlayed a financial empire built on selling garden supplies and materials—through the once world-famous Smith & Hawken Company which he co-founded—into “Project Drawdown”, the world’s most ambitious undertaking for finding and testing solutions to our climate dilemma.

Let’s step back for a moment now and take a closer look at this Climate Change visionary’s background.  In 1966, Hawken took over a small retail store in the City of Boston in 1966 called Erewhon (after Samuel Butler’s 1872 utopian novel) and turned it into the Erewhon Trading Company, a natural-foods wholesaler. Next with Dave Smith, he co-founded the Smith & Hawken Garden Supply Company in 1979—a retail and catalog business.

Next with Dave Smith, Paul Hawken co-founded the Smith & Hawken Garden Supply Company in 1979—a retail and catalog business.

In 1999, Hawken co-authored a book with Amory and Hunter Lovins entitled, Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution. Natural Capitalism—which has been translated into 26 languages—popularized the idea that Earth’s natural resources should be considered as “natural capital” since they provide “ecosystem services” from which humans derive such benefits as clean water and waste decomposition.  Then in 2008, he co-founded Biomimicry Technologies with biologist Janine Benyus, the author of Biomimicry, Innovation Inspired by Nature

In 2007, Viking Press published Hawken’s New York Times bestseller, Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming. The book is about the many non-profit groups and community organizations, dedicated to many different causes, which Hawken calls the “environmental and social justice movement”.

In an interview with us, Hawken provides this elaboration: “Blessed Unrest describes what I call humanity’s immune response to ecological degradation, economic disease, and political corruption. All three are intimately intertwined with Global Warming. When I was doing the initial research [for this book], our institute was cataloging the more than 2,000 different types of non-profit organizations in the world according to their purpose, and month after month we saw the climate movement emerge, grow, and differentiate.”

Now we arrive at Hawken’s piece de resistance: His “Project Drawdown” is aimed at reducing—not just stabilizingGreenhouse Gas (GHG) concentrations in the atmosphere in order to reverse rising global temperatures. “Drawdown” grew out of Hawken’s frustration with actionable, scalable solutions that would make a meaningful dent in the atmosphere’s growing accumulation of GHG. As he saw it, the solutions that had been put forward over the years were all seemingly out of reach—involving either ungodly amounts of solar and wind energy or the mass adoption of futuristic, unproven technologies.

In a conversation with GreenBiz’s Joel Makower, Hawken recalled, “It made me feel like this is intractable, that it requires such Promethean work by such mammoth institutions—with policy changes that are more than structural,” Hawken recalled. “It made me feel like it wasn’t possible to address Climate Change, rather than giving me hope.” In Climate Change activist Bill McKibben’s seminal 2012 Rolling Stonearticle entitled Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math, Hawken asked, “Why aren’t we doing the math on the solutions? Somebody should come up with a list and see what it requires so you get to drawdown.”

In 2013, Hawken began teaching at San Francisco’s Presidio Graduate School, alongside climate activist and entrepreneur Amanda Joy Ravenhill. “One day we were just riffing, and we started talking about drawdown and we said, ‘Let’s do it. No one else is doing it,” Hawken recounted. Today, Ravenhill is “Project Drawdown’s” Executive Director and—with Hawken—the project book’s co-editor. Together, the two recruited more than 80 advisors, partners, scientists, government agencies, and participating universities—plus another 200 graduate students—to work on the project.

Hawken further described his “Project Drawdown” process in his February 2016 responses to our interview questions: “[In Project Drawdown] we are filling this void by doing the math on the atmospheric and financial impacts of state-of-the-shelf solutions if deployed globally and at scale over the next 30 years. State-of-the-shelf refers to techniques that are widely practiced, commonly available, economically viable and scientifically valid.”

He continued: “In Drawdown we identify solutions that are already in place. But we also describe what we call ‘coming attractions,’ solutions so new and incipient that we cannot as yet fully measure and map their impact. Here we see genius and brilliance and humanity at its best.”

True to Hawken’s nature—he’s not likely to be satisfied with simply creating a book, however ambitious and meticulously detailed.  Instead, “Project Drawdown’s” plans extend in several directions: The solutions and calculations will be contained in a publicly available database—along with the means for individuals and groups to create customized applications. There are also plans for accompanying educational curricula developed by the National Science Foundation. And possibly some media projects based on the work.

For our interview, Hawken provided the following conclusions: “There are many reasons to believe [that Climate Change can be solved].  In “Drawdown”, we identify over 100 of the most substantive solutions that are in place and expanding globally. We see in our models [that] the moment in time when Greenhouse Gases decline on a year-to-year basis in the upper atmosphere is possible within three decades. “Drawdown” is the only goal that makes sense for humanity. And it is eminently doable. By collectively drawing carbon down, we lift up all of life.”

As author Makower concludes in his October 2014 GreenBiz article: “It’s easy, in today’s divisive and toxic political environment, to view “Project Drawdown” as too good to be true—a quixotic quest for an unattainable goal. But there’s something simple and sane about the project’s collective ingredients: unabashed optimism tempered by sharp-pencil calculations, a bold goal undergirded by scientific pragmatism, immediacy coupled with a 30-year horizon, all leveraging the wisdom of a very smart crowd.”


Author’s bio:For the past 50 years, professional ecologist and conservationist Budd Titlow has used his pen and camera to capture the awe and wonders of our natural world. His goal has always been to inspire others to both appreciate and enjoy what he sees. Now he has one main question: Can we save humankind’s place — within nature’s beauty — before it’s too late? Budd’s two latest books are dedicated to answering this perplexing dilemma. PROTECTING THE PLANET: Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change, a non-fiction book, examines whether we still have the environmental heroes among us — harking back to such past heroes as Audubon, Hemenway, Muir, Douglas, Leopold, Brower, Carson, and Meadows — needed to accomplish this goal. Next, using fact-filled and entertaining story-telling, his latest book — COMING FULL CIRCLE: A Sweeping Saga of Conservation Stewardship Across America — provides the answers we all seek and need.Having published five books, more than 500 photo-essays, and 5,000 photographs, Budd Titlow lives with his music educator wife, Debby, in San Diego, California.

The Environmental Justice Movement

Text excerpted from the book: PROTECTING THE PLANET-Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change (ISBN 978-1-63388-225-6)

by

Budd Titlow & Mariah Tinger

http://www.buddtitlow.com

One other notable environmental/social achievement of President Clinton is directly related—by global extension—to the developed nations versus developing nations controversy that is a significant component of today’s Climate Change debate.  By Executive Order in 1994, Clinton decreed that “each Federal agency shall make achieving environmental justice part of its mission.”

The roots of the Environmental Justice Movement—that Clinton referenced in his decree —can be traced back to Warren County, North Carolina in 1982.  With a predominant African-American population, this mostly poor rural county was selected as a site for a polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) landfill that handled some of the deadliest carcinogens ever produced by man. More than 500 people were arrested when the community marched in protest.

While their efforts to stop the landfill failed, these demonstrators succeeded in bringing the issue of environmental racism to the forefront of the American public.  Their claims emphasized that environmental organizations were run by rich, white people advocating for protection of pristine natural resources while ignoring the conditions of the poor minority populations of the nation.

The prevailing attitude was that natural resources were more important than the ethnic minority populations of the US.

The prevailing attitude was that natural resources were more important than the ethnic minority populations of the US.  As a result, many of our nation’s most vile waste products—including radioactive materials—were being deposited in areas predominantly occupied by poor minority homeowners.  The driving theory in this disgraceful practice was that there would be less chance of organized opposition since the residents were less likely to be aware of what was happening to their communities.

Robert Bullard—Originator / Author

Robert Bullard, often called the “Father of Environmental Justice”, uses his expertise and media savvy to garner attention for communities burdened with environmental hazards. He has dedicated his career to protecting minority and low-income communities from becoming toxic pollution dump sites.  Bullard sees environmental justice issues at the heart of everything, in his words, “The right to vote is a basic right, but if you can’t breathe and your health is impaired and you can’t get to the polls, then what does it matter?”

Dr. Robert Bullard is often called the “Father of Environmental Justice Movement”.

Professor Bullard voiced a loud and clear opinion about the disproportionate number of landfills that were cited near predominantly black communities throughout the South, saying “Just because you are poor, just because you live physically on the wrong ‘side of the tracks’ doesn’t mean that you should be dumped on.” His voice was heard and the implementation of the environmental justice movement occurred. 

In 1994, President Bill Clinton summoned Dr. Bullard to the White House to witness the signing of an executive order that would require the federal government to consider the environmental impact on low-income communities before implementing policies.  Bullard co-wrote a report titled Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty, 1987-2007: Grassroots Struggles to Dismantle Environmental Racism which prompted the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to state, “The EPA is committed to delivering a healthy environment for all Americans and is making significant strides in addressing environmental justice concerns.”

Robert Bullard grew up in Elba, Alabama, a small town that kept him closely acquainted with the civil rights movement, as did his parents, activists for the movement.  He earned an undergraduate degree in government from Alabama A&M, a historically black university, and subsequently a Master’s degree in Sociology from Atlanta University.  Two years after completing a sociology Ph.D. from Iowa State University, he began a study to document environmental discrimination under the Civil Rights Act.  Bullard found that, despite a demographic of only 25% African American in Houston, 100% of the city’s solid waste sites, 75% of the privately owned landfills and 75% of the city-owned incinerators were located in black neighborhoods. Since the city of Houston did not have zoning at this time, he knew that individuals in government orchestrated these sitings.  This hooked him into the cause.  

Dr. Bullard worked his way through academia, holding research positions and professorships at a number of universities in Texas, Tennessee, California among others.  He currently holds a position as Dean of the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas.  As with many of our Climate Change Heroes, Bullard works in academia, but turns his attention and voice to political matters and advocates vociferously for his cause.

Bullard’s book, Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class and Environmental Quality was the first tome on environmental justice issues. Bullard believes that sustainability cannot exist without justice.  As he puts it, “This whole question of environment, economics, and equity is a three-legged stool.  If the third leg of that stool is dealt with as an afterthought, that stool won’t stand.  The equity components have to be given equal weight.”  To him, part of the solution is to pair mainstream environmental groups with environmental-justice groups that have the ability to mobilize large numbers of constituents.  This type of grassroots movement will get people marching and filling up courtrooms and city council meetings to kick off conversations about environmental movement. He believes that reality will force collaboration and that the awareness that our actions in the developed world have impacts that are not isolated to just us. While this is a step in the right direction, we need to move it to another level of action and policy and apply the framework that environmental justice has laid out to be used across developing countries.  

Robert Bullard has received countless awards, including: The Grio’s 100 black history makers in the making, Planet Harmony’s African American Green Hero, and Newsweek’s  top Environmental Leaders of the Century. In 2013, he was the first African American to win the Sierra Club John Muir Award, and in 2014 the Club named its new Environmental Justice Award after Dr. Bullard.


Author’s bio:For the past 50 years, professional ecologist and conservationist Budd Titlow has used his pen and camera to capture the awe and wonders of our natural world. His goal has always been to inspire others to both appreciate and enjoy what he sees. Now he has one main question: Can we save humankind’s place — within nature’s beauty — before it’s too late? Budd’s two latest books are dedicated to answering this perplexing dilemma. PROTECTING THE PLANET: Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change, a non-fiction book, examines whether we still have the environmental heroes among us — harking back to such past heroes as Audubon, Hemenway, Muir, Douglas, Leopold, Brower, Carson, and Meadows — needed to accomplish this goal. Next, using fact-filled and entertaining story-telling, his latest book — COMING FULL CIRCLE: A Sweeping Saga of Conservation Stewardship Across America — provides the answers we all seek and need.Having published five books, more than 500 photo-essays, and 5,000 photographs, Budd Titlow lives with his music educator wife, Debby, in San Diego, California.


The Clinton Presidency—High Hopes Dashed

Text excerpted from the book: PROTECTING THE PLANET-Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change (ISBN 978-1-63388-225-6)

by

Budd Titlow & Mariah Tinger

http://www.buddtitlow.com

In November 1992, America elected President William Jefferson “Bill” Clinton – the first democratic leader of the free world in 12 years and most environmentalists breathed a long, deep sigh of relief.  Personally, since I (Budd) was still making a living as an environmental consultant, I indeed felt like a sweet spring wind had just swooshed across the American landscape.  Things surely had to get better now that a left-leaning Democrat was back in the White House.

As president, Clinton had many similarities with his Democratic predecessor—Jimmy Carter from the late 1970’s.  He had a strong southern heritage, a gubernatorial background, status as a Washington outsider, and a brilliant mind.  In fact, Clinton was imbued with a skill that Carter didn’t possess.  He was a great communicator—the Democratic equivalent of Ronald Reagan—with the charisma and savvy to be one of America’s greatest presidents.  But alas Clinton fell victim to the same extreme weakness that has plagued so many other great—as well as not so great—male world leaders.

Alas President Bill Clinton fell victim to the same extreme weakness that has plagued so many other great—as well as not so great—male world leaders.

Unfortunately, one thing Clinton didn’t share was Carter’s high moral ground.  He did much more than “lust in his heart after the fairer sex”—President Carter’s famous quote about how he experienced sexual fantasies.  In fact, it would have been interesting to see exactly how much Clinton could have accomplished in the environmental—as well as other arenas—if he had not fallen prey to the feminine charms of a White House intern named Monica Lewinsky.

From a Climate Change perspective when he first took office, Clinton had an outspoken commitment to reduce CO2 and other GHG emissions.  He proclaimed that Climate Change was a global strategic threat that required bold leadership.  In his first Earth Day address, Clinton announced that he would sign the Biodiversity Treaty and also promised to reduce GHG emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000, both actions that were embarrassingly rejected by President H. W. Bush at the 1992 Rio Earth. Unfortunately, when Clinton left office, GHG emissions were nowhere near the 1990 levels that he promised.

In general, during the Clinton administration, many environmental activists began to be known as “Lite Greens”—they wanted to protect the environment, but not when it would cause any downgrading of their own personal quality of life. While definitely possessing the knowledge base and passion for increasing environmental protection, Clinton immersed himself in the belief that the economy had to come first, above all else.  This was based on his perception that an affluent, acquisitive society was what the American people wanted.

Despite his economic proclivities, Clinton did manage to accomplish some significant natural resource gains—especially during his last years in office.  He use the Antiquities Act of 1906 to make more than 3 million acres of federal land off-limits to development by declaring them national monuments.  These areas included Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante, Arizona’s Grand-Canyon-Parashant, and California’s Pinnacles. He also used his executive power to declare one third of our national forestland—58 million acres in 39 states—off-limits to road building, logging, and oil and gas exploration.

Clinton also took on a variety of commercially complex issues, including restoring the hydrology of the Everglades, restricting flights over the Grand Canyon, banning snowmobiling in national parks, and fighting off congressional attempts to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling. In addition, he made headway in so-called brown issues—including approving new clean air standards for soot and smog, cleaning up 515 Superfund sites (more than three times as many as the previous two administrations), doubling the number of chemicals that industry must report to communities through right to know laws, and setting tough new standards for reducing sulfur levels in gasoline. His administration also took measurable action to protect the nation’s waterways and water quality by launching the Clean Water Action Plan, strengthening the Safe Drinking Water Act, and permanently barring new oil leasing in national marine sanctuaries.

But some of Clinton’s most significant environmental accomplishments came not in the form of what he achieved, but what he staved off.  He faced an aggressive and hostile Congress that worked consistently to dismantle fundamental environmental laws such as the Endangered Species Act and to frustrate the ability of agencies such as the EPA to carry out their regulatory work. Clinton consistently resisted these attacks by vetoing numerous anti-environmental bills, including the package of legislation that was part of the 1995 Congressional leadership’s “Contract with America.”

Soon after taking office, Clinton shifted the bulk of his administration’s environmental watchdog duties onto his Vice President, Al Gore.

Soon after taking office, Clinton shifted the bulk of his administration’s environmental watchdog duties onto his Vice President, Al Gore.  A staunch conservationist, Senator Gore authored the 1992 best-seller, Earth in the Balance, that called for mandating much tougher environmental laws and regulations.  After leaving office, Gore also became one of our Climate Change Heroes—most notably because of his 2006 documentary film and later book entitled, An Inconvenient Truth.  We will talk much more about Mr. Gore—and his substantial influence on the Climate Change arena—later in this chapter plus a detailed biography in Part Four.

Author’s bio:For the past 50 years, professional ecologist and conservationist Budd Titlow has used his pen and camera to capture the awe and wonders of our natural world. His goal has always been to inspire others to both appreciate and enjoy what he sees. Now he has one main question: Can we save humankind’s place — within nature’s beauty — before it’s too late? Budd’s two latest books are dedicated to answering this perplexing dilemma. PROTECTING THE PLANET: Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change, a non-fiction book, examines whether we still have the environmental heroes among us — harking back to such past heroes as Audubon, Hemenway, Muir, Douglas, Leopold, Brower, Carson, and Meadows — needed to accomplish this goal. Next, using fact-filled and entertaining story-telling, his latest book — COMING FULL CIRCLE: A Sweeping Saga of Conservation Stewardship Across America — provides the answers we all seek and need.Having published five books, more than 500 photo-essays, and 5,000 photographs, Budd Titlow lives with his music educator wife, Debby, in San Diego, California.


The Clean Air Act—Regulatory Ambrosia for Climate Change? 

Text excerpted from the book: PROTECTING THE PLANET-Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change (ISBN 978-1-63388-225-6)

by

Budd Titlow & Mariah Tinger

http://www.buddtitlow.com

From a federal regulatory standpoint, one piece of legislation—the Clean Air Act (CAA) —stands paramount to resolving the Climate Change crisis, at least here in the US.  So let’s take a look at this critical legislation in terms of its history of use and effectiveness.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised to read that the CAA has really done its job in terms of protecting the health and environmental quality of the American public.

When Congress originally passed the CAA in 1970, it gave the US EPA the responsibility of protecting the American people whenever scientific studies show that new air pollutants threaten our health or environment.  In 1990, the CAA was revised and signed into law by President George H. W. Bush.  The strong bipartisan support this action received clearly demonstrated that clean air and less pollution were goals shared by Republicans and Democrats alike. 

In summary, during its more than forty-five year history, the CAA has:

  • Cut ground ozone—a dangerous component of smog—by more than 25 percent since 1980.
  • Reduced mercury emissions by 45 percent since 1990.
  • Reduced the main pollutants that contribute to acid rain—sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide—by 71 percent and 46 percent, respectively, since 1980.
  • Phased out the production and use of chemicals that contribute to the hole in the ozone layer.
  • Reduced the lead content in gasoline, which has cut lead air pollution by 92 percent since 1980.

Pretty impressive stuff—right? Now here’s the essential part of the CAA as it applies to our current Climate Change situation: In the final analysis, the US EPA is required to regulate the emission of pollutants that “endanger public health and welfare”. In 2007, the US Supreme Court in a landmark decision (Massachusetts v. EPA) ruled that Global Warming emissions—caused by GHG—are air pollutants and should be subject to EPA regulation under the CAA.

Then in 2009, the EPA released its scientific findings, which concluded that Global Warming emissions present a danger to public health—now known as the endangerment finding.  Citing extensive scientific research, the EPA found that Global Warming pollution is connected with:

  • Hotter, longer heat waves that threaten the health of the sick, poor, and elderly.
  • Increases in ground-level ozone pollution, linked to asthma and other respiratory ailments.
  • Extreme weather events that can lead to deaths, injuries, and stress-related illnesses.

Based on this information, it seems quite clear that the US EPA—operating under the CAA—has all the regulatory authority it needs to immediately and forcefully control the emission of various sources of GHG.  Here’s how the National Wildlife Federation (NWFsummarized this situation“It is time for our nation’s polluters to finally be held accountable for their harmful emissions that contribute to Climate Change. … In passing the CAA, Congress clearly intended it to serve as a living document, in order to ensure that EPA has the tools it needs to respond to new air pollution threats.  The science is now clear: Global Warming pollution poses significant threats to public health and welfare, and EPA is obligated under the law to limit sources of this pollution and address the impacts of Climate Change.”

So—if all the necessary regulatory authority is in place and has been sufficiently vetted why isn’t this happening?  As with anything that is mucked up with strong bureaucratic machinations and purported economic impacts, the answer has been severely complicated by political infighting.

The science is now clear: Global Warming pollution poses significant threats to public health and welfare, and EPA is obligated under the law to limit sources of this pollution and address the impacts of Climate Change.

Polluters and their allies in Congress are using every opportunity to prevent the EPA from protecting our health by reducing Global Warming emissions. Numerous members of Congress in both the Senate and the House of Representatives have announced their intention to introduce legislation that would block or delay the agency from reducing Global Warming emissions under the Clean Air Act. Some members of Congress even tried to attach bills attacking the EPA to other “must pass” legislation, such as federal spending and budget bills.

These attacks on the Clean Air Act pose a grave threat to EPA’s responsibility to protect our health and environment from the impacts of Climate Change. Some proposed legislation would delay the EPA from setting standards to limit Global Warming emissions for several years, while other bills would indefinitely block the EPA from taking any action on this issue whatsoever. Some proposals would even prohibit the EPA from doing any research or analysis on climate science in its efforts to implement the endangerment finding.

A climate change protester holds a banner reading “This Is An Emergency,” during a town hall event with former Vice President Joe Biden, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, not pictured, in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. Biden said for the first time Wednesday that President Donald Trump should be impeached. Photographer: Kate Flock/Bloomberg

In a nutshell, here’s how the NWF explains the conservative backlash to federal regulation of Climate Change:“Polluter lobbyists continue to cry foul at any mention of EPA fulfilling its obligation under the CAA with respect to Global Warming pollution. This is simply the latest in a string of red herrings that industry has raised time and again to avoid complying with laws that are essential for protecting public health.  From seatbelts to catalytic converters to unleaded gasoline, industry falsely claimed that new standards would have devastating economic impacts.  History has shown that these requirements have not adversely affected our economy—to the contrary, they have had substantial benefits in saving lives, improving public health, and advancing cleaner technology.  It is long past time for the EPA to move forward and require the emission reductions necessary to protect America from the most severe environmental threat we have ever faced: Climate Change! ”


Author’s bio:For the past 50 years, professional ecologist and conservationist Budd Titlow has used his pen and camera to capture the awe and wonders of our natural world. His goal has always been to inspire others to both appreciate and enjoy what he sees. Now he has one main question: Can we save humankind’s place — within nature’s beauty — before it’s too late? Budd’s two latest books are dedicated to answering this perplexing dilemma. PROTECTING THE PLANET: Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change, a non-fiction book, examines whether we still have the environmental heroes among us — harking back to such past heroes as Audubon, Hemenway, Muir, Douglas, Leopold, Brower, Carson, and Meadows — needed to accomplish this goal. Next, using fact-filled and entertaining story-telling, his latest book — COMING FULL CIRCLE: A Sweeping Saga of Conservation Stewardship Across America — provides the answers we all seek and need.Having published five books, more than 500 photo-essays, and 5,000 photographs, Budd Titlow lives with his music educator wife, Debby, in San Diego, California.

The Climate Change Debate Takes Off (1988 – 2000)

Global Warming and the Founding of the IPCC

Text excerpted from the book: PROTECTING THE PLANET-Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change (ISBN 978-1-63388-225-6)

by

Budd Titlow & Mariah Tinger

http://www.buddtitlow.com

Beginning in the 1980’s, the global annual mean temperature curve started to rise and climate scientists began correlating this increase with a worldwide warming trend.  The media and the general public took notice and began questioning the previous prognoses of a “New Ice Age” that had been bandied about for the past few decades.   

Near the end of the decade, the global temperature curve began to increase so steeply that the Global Warming Theory began to gain ground fast. Various environmental NGO’s started to advocate global environmental protection to prevent further Global Warming. The media also gained an interest in this idea of a warming atmosphere and it soon became a hot news topic that was repeated around the world. Pictures of smoke stacks were juxtaposed next to pictures of melting ice caps and severe flooding events. Soon, a complete media circus had evolved that convinced many people that we were on the verge of a significant Climate Change event that would have many long-term negative impacts on the Earth.

As an offshoot of this concern, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) formed in 1988 with a primary goal of collecting and processing Climate Change information. Consisting of more than 2,500 scientific and technical experts, the IPCC was charged with predicting the future impacts of the Greenhouse Effect according to existing climate models and literature information.

Established under the auspices of the United Nations and set up at the request of member governments, the IPCC is open to all members of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). IPCC scientists are from widely divergent research fields including climatology, ecology, economics, medicine, and oceanography.

The IPCC routinely produces Assessment Reports that support the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which is the main international treaty on the subject. The UNFCCC’s precisely-stated objective is “stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic [i.e., human-induced] interference with the climate system”.

As the internationally accepted authority on Climate Change, the IPCC produces Assessment Reports that have the agreement of leading climate scientists and the consensus of participating governments.  The IPCC bases each of its Assessment Reports on the published literature—including both peer-reviewed and non peer-reviewed sources. It does not conduct any of its own original research and also does not carry out any in-house monitoring of climate events or phenomena.

Thousands of scientists and other experts—working strictly on a voluntary basis, without pay—contribute to writing and reviewing the IPCC Assessment Reports. For expediency, each reports contains a “Summary for Policymakers” which is subjected to line-by-line approval by delegates from all participating governments—typically representing more than 120 countries. The IPCC’s First Assessment Report—issued in 1990—concluded that the Earth’s temperature had risen during the past century and that human emissions of fossil fuels were likely adding to this rise.

At this juncture with the introduction of the IPCC, we should now discuss the Heartland Institute’s Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC).  As is obvious from its similar name and acronym, the NIPCC was created in 2003 solely to cast aspersions and doubts on the findings and reports of the legitimate climate scientists whose work is covered by the IPCC.

To be as candid as possible here, the Heartland Institute that founded the NIPCC is a non-scientific, doubt-mongering entity supported by the fossil fuel industry and the Koch Brothers—their cohorts in the not so fine art of lying.  Any documents produced by the Heartland Institute and/or the NIPCC have no credibility—scientific or otherwise—beyond casting doubt.

Stephen Schneider—Climate Change Guru

One of the primary scientists on the IPCC when it first formed in 1988 was a man who made the first steadfast predictions about Global Warming back in 1976.  Dr. Stephen Schneider was a recipient of a MacArthur Genius Grantand shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with his colleagues on the IPCC and former vice president Al Gore for their international research on Global Warming. Dr. Schneider was an expert adviser to every presidential administration from Nixon to Obama. He was the Melvin and Joan Lane professor for interdisciplinary environmental studies, a professor in the Department of Biology, and a senior fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University. He was also a National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) scientist from 1973-1996, where he co-founded the Climate Project.

Dr. Stephen Schneider was an expert adviser to every presidential administration from Nixon to Obama.

Founder and editor of Climatic Change Magazine, Professor Schneider authored or co-authored over 500 books, scientific papers, proceedings, and legislative testimonies, and edited hundreds of other books chapters, reviews, and editorials.  He especially emphasized climate-driven Global Warming and its wide-ranging effects, such as a recorded rise in ocean temperatures and the increasing potency and frequency of hurricanes. He also conducted research on the near-irreversible damage of GHG on the ozone layer and theorized how a nuclear war might affect the climate.

“No one, and I mean no one, had a broader and deeper understanding of the climate issue than Stephen,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University. “More than anyone else, he helped shape the way the public and experts thought about this problem—from the basic physics of the problem, to the impact of human beings on nature’s ecosystems, to developing policy.”

Unfortunately, this Climate Change visionary died far too early— at the age of 65—from an apparent heart attack while on a flight landing in London in 2010.  The Climate Change community could certainly use his bold and unflinchingly forthright leadership right now.

NASA’s James Hansen—Yes, Climate Change Is For Real! And The Deniers Respond

On the more fortunate side of the ledger, another esteemed climatologist stepped up in 1988 and made the world aware of the pending perils of Global Warming associated with Climate Change. Dr. James Hansen, National Atmospheric and Space Administration (NASA) scientist reported to Congress that Global Warming was simultaneously melting the polar ice caps and causing extreme droughts throughout the world.  As a climate scientist who made a lasting impression about the potential dangerous effects that Climate Change posed for the world, Dr. Hansen is featured as one of our Climate Change Heroes.  

In 1988, Dr. James Hansen—National Atmospheric and Space Administration (NASA)—scientist made the world aware of the pending perils of Global Warming associated with Climate Change.

Perfectly dove-tailing with Dr. Hansen’s testimony before Congress, 1988 featured both the highest global temperature in 130 years and the worst US droughts since the Dust Bowl Era of the 1930’s. Taken collectively, these findings did manage to give the ongoing Climate Change crisis some cache with the media and the general public.  Unfortunately, the information also alerted the denier network that immediate action needed to be taken to avert the truth. 

Accordingly in 1989, the fossil fuel companies and other US industries formed the Global Climate Coalition (GCC) with a mission of convincing politicians and the general public that Climate Change science was too uncertain to justify action.  The GCC dissolved in 2002 due to membership loss when an IPCC Assessment Report provided massive technical information showing that Global Warming was indeed occurring.

However today—working primarily through the Heartland Institute and the pseudo-scientific NIPCC—the fossil fuel industry is still lobbying Congress that IPCC and other scientific reports showing that severe Global Warming caused by ongoing Climate Change are inconclusive and that the situation requires further study.


Author’s bio:For the past 50 years, professional ecologist and conservationist Budd Titlow has used his pen and camera to capture the awe and wonders of our natural world. His goal has always been to inspire others to both appreciate and enjoy what he sees. Now he has one main question: Can we save humankind’s place — within nature’s beauty — before it’s too late? Budd’s two latest books are dedicated to answering this perplexing dilemma. PROTECTING THE PLANET: Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change, a non-fiction book, examines whether we still have the environmental heroes among us — harking back to such past heroes as Audubon, Hemenway, Muir, Douglas, Leopold, Brower, Carson, and Meadows — needed to accomplish this goal. Next, using fact-filled and entertaining story-telling, his latest book — COMING FULL CIRCLE: A Sweeping Saga of Conservation Stewardship Across America — provides the answers we all seek and need.Having published five books, more than 500 photo-essays, and 5,000 photographs, Budd Titlow lives with his music educator wife, Debby, in San Diego, California.

Chico Mendes—Martyr of the Brazilian Rainforests

Text excerpted from the book: PROTECTING THE PLANET-Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change (ISBN 978-1-63388-225-6)

by

Budd Titlow & Mariah Tinger

http://www.buddtitlow.com

On December 22, 1988, a tragic event occurred deep in the Brazilian countryside that had a stark effect on worldwide natural resource conservation in general and today’s Climate Change situation in particular.  On that day, Chico Mendes—a Brazilian rubber tapper, known as a seringueiro, and land rights leader—became world famous when he was gunned down outside his own home by the son of a local rancher.  During the shooting, two Brazilian policemen—who were assigned to protect Mendes from death threats—sat playing cards at the kitchen table inside his home.  Ironically, just the week before on his 44th birthday, Mendes had ominously predicted that he would not live to see Christmas Day.

The problem was that the local ranchers and others who benefited from wholesale clear-cutting of Brazilian rainforests viewed Mendes as the enemy.  His life inside the Brazilian rainforest had been fairly typical.  He first went to work as a seringueiro when he was only nine years old and did not attend school.  The rubber plantation owners did not want their workers to be able to read and write because this knowledge might expose them as the exploitative employers they were.

Even without the benefit of an education, Mendes had a strong sense of what was right coursing through his blood.  Although Mendes and his colleagues were a tiny, marginalized minority, their efforts brought them to power in parts of Brazil’s Amazon during the 1980’s.  He helped organize the local rubber tappers into a union and developed a technique called an empate—which amounted to blockading rubber tree tracts from ranchers and farmers who wanted to clear the land.

Mendes also pioneered the world’s first tropical forest conservation initiative that was advanced by the forest natives themselves.  In the process, he established the world’s first extractive preserves that protected forested areas that were inhabited and managed by local communities.  In 1987, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) flew Mendes to Washington, DC in an attempt to convince the World Bank and the US Congress to support creation of more extractive reserves

Prophetically, Mendes’ death proved to be a turning point in the war to save the Amazon rainforest.  Now 40 percent—a total 58 million acres—is set aside for protection.  Today, the Chico Mendes Institute for Conservation of Biodiversity (Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade), a body under the jurisdiction of the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment, is named in his honor. Mendes won several other awards for his work including the United Nations Program Global 500 Roll of Honor Award in 1987 and the NWF’s National Conservation Achievement Award in1988.

Also the Chico Mendes Extractive Reserve (CMER) was created in the area where he lived.  The Chico Mendes Reserve has electricity and schools and many students have graduated from university. Some seringueiros now have motorbikes and cars and are employed as forest guides. Trees are sustainably harvested in the CMER, and there is an eco-lodge. Building on this model, 68 other extractive reserves have been established in the Brazilian Amazon, covering more than 33,000,000 acres.

Author’s bio:For the past 50 years, professional ecologist and conservationist Budd Titlow has used his pen and camera to capture the awe and wonders of our natural world. His goal has always been to inspire others to both appreciate and enjoy what he sees. Now he has one main question: Can we save humankind’s place — within nature’s beauty — before it’s too late? Budd’s two latest books are dedicated to answering this perplexing dilemma. PROTECTING THE PLANET: Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change, a non-fiction book, examines whether we still have the environmental heroes among us — harking back to such past heroes as Audubon, Hemenway, Muir, Douglas, Leopold, Brower, Carson, and Meadows — needed to accomplish this goal. Next, using fact-filled and entertaining story-telling, his latest book — COMING FULL CIRCLE: A Sweeping Saga of Conservation Stewardship Across America — provides the answers we all seek and need.Having published five books, more than 500 photo-essays, and 5,000 photographs, Budd Titlow lives with his music educator wife, Debby, in San Diego, California.

The Hazmat Battles Begin—Lois Marie Gibbs and Love Canal

Text excerpted from the book: PROTECTING THE PLANET-Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change (ISBN 978-1-63388-225-6)

by

Budd Titlow & Mariah Tinger

http://www.buddtitlow.com

Despite the slowdown in environmental actions precipitated by the oil crisis, discovery and management of hazardous waste sites made great strides in the last part of the 1970’s under the jurisdiction of the US EPA. First in 1976 came the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) that empowered the EPA to regulate hazardous waste sites“from the cradle to the grave”. Infamously described as “ticking time bombs”, hazardous waste sites were thrust into the general public’s consciousness when multiple locations were discovered throughout the Nation.  

Most notably, in the spring of 1978, a 27-year-old housewife with no scientific training or activist experience stood up and took on the brutishly bullish world of conglomerated chemical companies.   When Lois Marie Gibbs discovered that her child was attending an elementary school built next to a 22,000-ton toxic waste dump that included dioxin—the most dangerous chemical compound on the face of the Earth—she went ballistic.  She immediately set about alerting her neighbors and organizing the Love Canal Homeowners Association (LCHA) in Niagara Falls, New York. 

When Lois Marie Gibbs discovered that her child was attending an elementary school built next to a 22,000-ton toxic waste dump that included dioxin—the most dangerous chemical compound on the face of the Earth—she went ballistic.

For a while, Gibbs listened to the bold-faced bluster of the culprit Hooker Chemical Company (now the international powerhouse Occidental Petroleum Company—OPC) until her face turned blue with repeated rage and anger.  OPC’s team of head muckety-mucks and hired gun consultants—plus their government cohorts—repeatedly lied to cover up the facts that their leaking chemicals were causing abominably abnormal miscarriage, birth defect, and cancer rates throughout the local families.  

Gibbs stood by her guns and in the end result scored a significant victory against the madding oppressive corporate forces.   She succeeded in convincing then President Jimmy Carter to relent and relocate 833 Love Canal families to safer homes outside of the toxic waste dump’s 36-square block cone of influence. 

RCRA was followed in 1980 by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).  CERCLA was better known as the Superfund Act because of the $1.6 dollar trust fund it set up.  And because of her unwavering efforts in finally securing victory at Love Canal, Lois Gibbs was appropriately dubbed as the, “The Mother of the Superfund Act”.

CERCLA enabled the EPA to aggressively pursue the cleanup of abandoned hazardous waste sites.  In the process, the federal agency was able to sue the entities that were responsible and collect, then fund, reimbursements for cleaning up their toxic messes.  

CERCLA also opened the door to a new influx of private consulting firms that specialized in analyzing the contents of the toxic waste sites—including everything from leaking gas storage tanks to entire despoiled mountainsides and contaminated rivers.  

Hiring phalanxes of specially trained geologists, petroleum engineers, and hydrologists, these new businesses literally raked in money by developing and then employing a host of new toxic waste remediation techniques.  It was quite a business model.  For at least 25 years, these hazmat consulting firms could barely keep pace with the number of toxic waste sites that started popping up all over the country like kernels of corn in a pot of hot grease. 

Now let’s get back to Ms. Gibbs and her super-heroic activities.  Once all of her neighbor families had been moved and were safety settled into their new homes, Gibbs’ life changed forever.  While she was fighting her two-year battle for honesty and integrity, she was also contacted by other families across the country who were mired in similar toxic waste “no-man’s-lands”. Determined to help these other distressed people also set up grassroots organizations, Gibbs moved to Washington, DC and created the Center for Heath, Environment, and Justice (CHEJ).  Today, the CHEJ has helped establish 11,000 grassroots groups and—as Executive Director—Gibbs regularly speaks to communities about toxic chemicals and children’s unique vulnerability to environmental exposures.

For her diligent efforts on behalf of the environmentally oppressed, Gibbs has been featured in hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles plus featured on many television and radio shows—including 60 Minutes, 20/20, Oprah, Good Morning America, and Today.  CBS also produced a 2-hour prime time movie, entitled Lois Gibbs: The Love Canal Story. She has also received many awards for environmental accomplishments and was nominated for a Nobel Peace prize in 2003.

Driven by a strong sense of what is just and right in securing a safe environment for both her own family and those of her neighbors, Lois Gibbs provides one of the strongest prototypes for what a single individual can accomplish in the arena of environmental regulation.  She stuck to her cause and didn’t back down even in the face of severe intimidation and death threats from corporate and political power players.  The Climate Change movement needs hundreds of people with the moxie and pure guts of Lois Gibbs to bring our goals to fruition.

Author’s bio:For the past 50 years, professional ecologist and conservationist Budd Titlow has used his pen and camera to capture the awe and wonders of our natural world. His goal has always been to inspire others to both appreciate and enjoy what he sees. Now he has one main question: Can we save humankind’s place — within nature’s beauty — before it’s too late? Budd’s two latest books are dedicated to answering this perplexing dilemma. PROTECTING THE PLANET: Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change, a non-fiction book, examines whether we still have the environmental heroes among us — harking back to such past heroes as Audubon, Hemenway, Muir, Douglas, Leopold, Brower, Carson, and Meadows — needed to accomplish this goal. Next, using fact-filled and entertaining story-telling, his latest book — COMING FULL CIRCLE: A Sweeping Saga of Conservation Stewardship Across America — provides the answers we all seek and need.Having published five books, more than 500 photo-essays, and 5,000 photographs, Budd Titlow lives with his music educator wife, Debby, in San Diego, California.


Author’s bio:For the past 50 years, professional ecologist and conservationist Budd Titlow has used his pen and camera to capture the awe and wonders of our natural world. His goal has always been to inspire others to both appreciate and enjoy what he sees. Now he has one main question: Can we save humankind’s place — within nature’s beauty — before it’s too late? Budd’s two latest books are dedicated to answering this perplexing dilemma. PROTECTING THE PLANET: Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change, a non-fiction book, examines whether we still have the environmental heroes among us — harking back to such past heroes as Audubon, Hemenway, Muir, Douglas, Leopold, Brower, Carson, and Meadows — needed to accomplish this goal. Next, using fact-filled and entertaining story-telling, his latest book — COMING FULL CIRCLE: A Sweeping Saga of Conservation Stewardship Across America — provides the answers we all seek and need.Having published five books, more than 500 photo-essays, and 5,000 photographs, Budd Titlow lives with his music educator wife, Debby, in San Diego, California.

Greenpeace and the Sea Shepherd Society

Text excerpted from the book: PROTECTING THE PLANET-Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change (ISBN 978-1-63388-225-6)

by

Budd Titlow & Mariah Tinger

http://www.buddtitlow.com

For the most part, environmental radicalism never quite achieved the level of mayhem and destruction wrought by Abbey’s Monkey Wrench Gang.  Most of the new NGO’s of the Seventies relied on getting the public’s attention through protest rallies—fueled by media involvement—and peaceful civil disobedience such as bulldozer blockades, treetop sit-ins, and Congressional conservation voting record-tracking.

The primary exception to low-key environmental activism was the organization known as Greenpeace.  Although professed to be nonviolent by its leaders, Greenpeace often employed in-your-facesmash-mouth techniques—commonly referred to as the direct action approach—that would have made Edward Abbey himself blush.

More than any other NGO—before or since—Greenpeace emphasized using the media to gain attention to their causes.   Often described as the most visible environmental organization that ever existed, Greenpeace has always been controversial, even acquiring sea-going vessels for the sole purpose of using them to directly confront and interfere with Russian and Japanese whaling factory ships.  They also became directly immersed in a battle to stop the slaughter of harp seal pups in Newfoundland.  Who can ever forget the public information spot showing an adorable doe-eyed and white-furred harp seal pup one minute and word that they were being bloodily bludgeoned to death for their pelts the next?

Among their thousands of dramatic protests, Greenpeace activists also infiltrated nuclear test sites, shielded whales from harpoons, and blocked ocean-going barges from dumping radioactive waste.  On the downside of the organization’s tactics, the Rainbow Warrior— flagship of the Greenpeace fleet—was sunk in the port of Auckland, New Zealand in 1985 by the French Foreign Intelligence Services.  En route to protect a planned nuclear test in Mururoa in French Polynesia, the ship —when it sank—also claimed the life of Fernando Pereira, a freelance Dutch photographer. 

Depending on who or what you believe, Greenpeace purportedly first came to the light of day in 1971 with an assemblage of hail and hearty souls in the backroom of a storefront in Vancouver, Canada.   Their first mission of note involved chartering an old halibut seiner—The Phyllis Cormack—and plowing through unfriendly seas in the Gulf of Alaska to protest nuclear testing on the tectonically unstable island of Amchitka in Alaska. This led to a face-off in 1971 with a US Coast Guard Cutter, and eventually generated enough public support to force the US to end nuclear testing on Amchitka.

No matter what you may think about Greenpeace or their methods for confronting and stopping highly-damaging environmental activities, the fact remains that they are today one of the world’s largest and most successful NGO’s. Greenpeace now has an international organization with five ships, 2.8 million supporters, 27 national and regional offices, and a presence in 55 countries. Greenpeace’s stated goal is to “ensure the ability of the Earth to nurture life in all its diversity”.

Today, the international chapters of Greenpeace focus their campaigning on such worldwide issues as deforestation, overfishing, commercial whaling, genetic engineering, anti-nuclear issues, and Climate Change.  To keep their noses as clean as possible, the global organization does not accept funding from governments, corporations, or political parties.

Paul Watson and His Sea Shepherd Society

The exact founding structure of Greenpeace has never been quite clear.  To this day, it’s said that you can go into any bar in Vancouver, Canada and sit down next to someone who will tell you they are one of the founders of Greenpeace.  

Certainly one of the most noteworthy—and outlandish—characters to ever make this claim is Canadian, Paul Watson.  Whether or not he was a Greenpeace founder, Watson was an active participant to the point that he got himself banned from the organization and then went out and formed his own rabble-rousing outfit, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.  Watson proceeded to command his ship, The Sea Shepherd, sailing around the world and personally attacking the whaling fleets of Norway, Japan, and—most notably—Iceland, where he actually scuttled and sank two boats while they were at anchor in harbor. Somehow, Watson managed to escape serving any actual prison time. 

After watching his involvement in the documentary A Fierce Green Fire,  it is difficult not to consider Watson a true hero—especially if you love marine mammals.  He certainly did not pull any punches when it came to fighting for exactly what he believed—the life of every sperm whale and harp seal.  In fact, he repeatedly put his own health and safety in harm’s way to protect these majestic and lovely animals.  In the end result—largely due to the disruptive efforts of Greenpeace and the Sea Shepherd Society—the International Whaling Commission (IWC) enacted a global moratorium on whaling with only Japan refusing to sign the pact. Despite this success, the suitability of Watson’s ways are certainly a matter for conjecture and debate within the Climate Change community.

Author’s bio:For the past 50 years, professional ecologist and conservationist Budd Titlow has used his pen and camera to capture the awe and wonders of our natural world. His goal has always been to inspire others to both appreciate and enjoy what he sees. Now he has one main question: Can we save humankind’s place — within nature’s beauty — before it’s too late? Budd’s two latest books are dedicated to answering this perplexing dilemma. PROTECTING THE PLANET: Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change, a non-fiction book, examines whether we still have the environmental heroes among us — harking back to such past heroes as Audubon, Hemenway, Muir, Douglas, Leopold, Brower, Carson, and Meadows — needed to accomplish this goal. Next, using fact-filled and entertaining story-telling, his latest book — COMING FULL CIRCLE: A Sweeping Saga of Conservation Stewardship Across America — provides the answers we all seek and need.Having published five books, more than 500 photo-essays, and 5,000 photographs, Budd Titlow lives with his music educator wife, Debby, in San Diego, California.

Edward Abbey—The Cutting Edge of the Radical Left

Text excerpted from the book: PROTECTING THE PLANET-Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change (ISBN 978-1-63388-225-6)

by

Budd Titlow & Mariah Tinger

http://www.buddtitlow.com

In the minds of many radical environmentalists, Edward Abbey’s outlandish 1975 novel, The Monkey Wrench Gang, set the tone and attitude for how to best get things accomplished. With an emphasis on protesting environmentally damaging activities through the use of sabotage, the term monkey wrenching soon defined any sabotage, activism, law-making, or law-breaking used to preserve wilderness, wild spaces, and ecosystems. Abbey’s main protagonist, George Washington Hayduke, codified the wants, longings, and desires of the average male environmentalist awash in the frustrations of corporate greed and corruption.  Espousing the usually unheard voices of the “little people”, Abbey’s Hayduke justified his unorthodox, costly, and highly illegal actions of environmental mayhem by saying, “… because somebody has to do it.”

Known for his anarchistic rhetoric and sanctimonious wit, Abbey was often at the center of the hip environmental movement.

Known for his anarchistic rhetoric and sanctimonious wit, Abbey was often at the center of the hip environmental movement.  His writings ranged from blatantly outrageous to sublimely poignant and powerful.  While The Monkey Wrench Gang, fomented such radical environmental groups as Earth First!, his non-fiction Desert Solitaire has been favorably compared to Henry David Thoreau’s Walden and Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac.  

Desert Solitaire is a beautifully told non-fiction piece about Abbey’s year as a solitary ranger in the secluded backcountry of Arches National Park. Now often considered a classic piece of natural history writing, this book takes a variety of tones, ranging from a polemic against development and excessive tourism in our national parks to tales about the exhilarating excitement of river running.   As would be expected from those who know Abbey’s writing, Desert Solitaire is also interspersed with extended musings and observations about the dynamics between humans and the desert environment. Also, in many of his chapters, Abbey strongly expresses his deep-seated beliefs about the foibles of modern Western civilization, the unethical gyrations of United States politics, and the rapid disintegration of America’s environment. 

After his death in 1989, Abbey’s family and writing cohorts unceremoniously buried him at night in the Arizona desert wrapped only in a blue sleeping bag near a granite rock famously inscribed with the words, “No Comment”.  The gesture was fittingly apropos for a man who deeply believed that a man’s life should blend as lightly and inconspicuously into the natural environment as possible.


Author’s bio:For the past 50 years, professional ecologist and conservationist Budd Titlow has used his pen and camera to capture the awe and wonders of our natural world. His goal has always been to inspire others to both appreciate and enjoy what he sees. Now he has one main question: Can we save humankind’s place — within nature’s beauty — before it’s too late? Budd’s two latest books are dedicated to answering this perplexing dilemma. PROTECTING THE PLANET: Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change, a non-fiction book, examines whether we still have the environmental heroes among us — harking back to such past heroes as Audubon, Hemenway, Muir, Douglas, Leopold, Brower, Carson, and Meadows — needed to accomplish this goal. Next, using fact-filled and entertaining story-telling, his latest book — COMING FULL CIRCLE: A Sweeping Saga of Conservation Stewardship Across America — provides the answers we all seek and need.Having published five books, more than 500 photo-essays, and 5,000 photographs, Budd Titlow lives with his music educator wife, Debby, in San Diego, California.