Friday, September 30, 2011

"An Open Sewer"


As promised, here is the speech Luke Massman-Johnson delivered last Saturday, September 24th, 2001, behind city hall in Los Angeles:

Hello Los Angeles Climate Activists! Welcome to YOUR LA MOVING PLANET EVENT. Thank you all so much for coming out today to add your voice to 350's international call for action on GLOBAL WARMING. And thanks especially to the younger people here who are a big part of our inspiration for change.
My name is Luke. I'm not a celebrity or politician or climate scientist. I'm just a citizen with a small house in Hollywood. I have a lovely family, my wife is my best friend, I adore my two children and I want the best for their future. So I am passionate about stopping GLOBAL WARMING and CLIMATE CHANGE, and this fight is worth it for me.
I realize there's lots of things you could be doing on a perfect California Saturday. But in a city of 4 million people, you are the ones who made a stand and showed up. And by showing up you have already made a move toward sustainability. You are sending a signal to your fellow citizens, to our politicians here in City Hall, to President Obama, and to leaders around the world. Los Angeles is eager to stop GLOBAL WARMING by moving beyond FOSSIL FUELS and towards CLEAN, GREEN ENERGY and SUSTAINABLE LIFE.
We are in extraordinarily good company. Since yesterday evening, starting somewhere out in the Pacific Islands, literally thousands of citizen actions like this one have been unfolding every hour around the world in the most beautiful, energetic, and powerful ways. After the rally today, you owe it to yourself to see the breathtaking and inspiring images collected at I will be posting pictures of this event, so you might just see yourself!
Andy Warhol said that each of us would get 15 minutes of fame. And I have been advised that a public speech shouldn't be longer than 15 minutes. But I have a lot to say, and I trust that all of you came to hear it, so I'm going to defy both of these suggestions. This is more of a teach-in; while I'm talking I encourage you to make yourself comfortable and sit if you like.
OK, to kick things off today, I am very pleased to say that with us today we DO have someone with certified green credentials. The Sierra Club has been doing some of the most ambitious and effective work on CLIMATE CHANGE in The US. Here to talk about their incredibly successful Beyond Coal campaign, please join me in welcoming the Deputy Press Secretary of the Sierra Club, David Graham-Caso.
[I don't have David's speech...sorry]

Thank you so much David, it's an honor to have you join us. We are all very grateful for your inspiring work.

The Sierra Club and are among our strongest allies in the fight on climate. For those who might not be familiar, let me briefly introduce
350 is the highest safe level of Carbon Dioxide humans can allow in the atmosphere if we are to maintain the balance of life as we know it. For the 20 million years of human evolution, CO2 levels hung around 270.
In the last 200 years since the industrial revolution, our extraordinary burning of fossil fuels have spiked that level to 390. Our current way of life has already exceeded the limits of the Earths atmosphere to correct for our pollution. International efforts to stop GLOBAL WARMING — including the Kyoto Protocol and cap-and trade mechanisms — use 350 as a target to return us to safety. is building a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis. Its organizers and activists push for policies that will get the world back on track to 350. 350's online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions are led from the bottom up by thousands of volunteer organizers in over 188 countries.

The founder of, Bill McKibben, is a true environmental hero. He authored the first book on GLOBAL WARMING for the general public over 20 years ago, and numerous books on climate and activism since then. Every year he coordinates the world's largest rallies on the environment, enrolling 7,000 local events in 188 countries. In short, he is one of this generations most energetic and vocal advocates for stopping GLOBAL WARMING.
Several weeks ago he led a two-week long civil disobedience protest in front of the White House to raise the alarm on the Keystone XL project, and was arrested along side NASA's top climate scientist Dr. James Hansen — the father of GLOBAL WARMING science — and 1200 other activists.
Here's a piece written by Mr. McKibben concerning the White House demonstration entitled "The Keystone Pipeline Revolt:
In fact one of those brave activists returned from that campaign and volunteered to help me put this one together. Where are you, George? Thank you for your commitment.
By coming here to this Moving Planet rally today, each of you are an integral part of this year's 350's worldwide event. And you are also now part of climate activist history! After this event is behind us, if you are looking for more information and inspiration about climate activism, one of the best places to start is at
- - - - -
We are here because GLOBAL WARMING is an urgent and unprecedented worldwide threat. And as a result, catastrophic CLIMATE CHANGE is devastating more and more local communities each year. The science is irrefutable and there is no more debate. For decades now, the top scientists from around the world have been trumpeting a crystal clear warning. As we push the Earth towards multiple global tipping points, the window of opportunity for recovery is closing fast. If we are to have any hope of preventing runaway GLOBAL WARMING, we must ambitiously and urgently move away from FOSSIL-FUELS and toward CLEAN, GREEN ENERGY.
So we are here to help bend the arc of our civilization toward a SUSTAINABLE FUTURE. Despite the short-sighted resistance by the United States, and despite the flagrant denial by a handful of strategists in the fossil fuel industry and their complicit politicians, you sense the importance and urgency of CLIMATE CHANGE and know that NOW IS THE TIME FOR AMERICA TO FINALLY MOVE.
CLIMATE CHANGE can feel overwhelming. The scientific evidence is staggering. The weather events are shocking. The denialists are clever, influential, and extremely well funded. Meanwhile, the suffering around the world – usually by those who are most vulnerable and least responsible – is heartbreaking.
It is easy to be intimidated and to lose hope. You could be forgiven for throwing your hands up.
But you didn't. You showed up today. You are choosing to pay attention, to inform yourselves, to look reality in the eye. You showed up here today and many of you brought your kids. And if ever there was a reason to step up instead of give up, just look into the eyes of the young ones among you.
- - - - -
1. GLOBAL WARMING and CLIMATE CHANGE are real, serious, and urgent
2. The politics on stopping GLOBAL WARMING are very difficult
3. The most important thing you can do on the issue of Climate is to be fully accountable for yourself
- - - - - -
The science on GLOBAL WARMING is so solid that I almost left it out of this speech. But I'm hoping that through these events around the world today, we can touch a broader audience, including those who doubt the seriousness of this issue.
So let me touch on the core science of GLOBAL WARMING and CLIMATE CHANGE.
What is Anthropogenic — or Man-Made — GLOBAL WARMING?
For the past 200 years of the Industrial and Technological Revolutions, humans have been burning fossil fuels at an alarming rate. Burning fossil fuels — coal, oil, and natural gas — dumps excessive carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, trapping more heat from the sun, and over-warming the planet. It's too much too fast for the Earth to correct for. In geological time, it's not just tipping the delicate balance, it is shattering it.
Humans dump 90 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every single day! 90 million tons a day. That's more than 30 Billion tons a year. For those of you who heard from denialists that volcanoes might be the cause of GLOBAL WARMING, know this: all volcanoes worldwide, both on land and under the sea, puff less than 1% of what humans spew annually.
As Al Gore has famously said, "we need to stop treating the atmosphere like an open sewer".
How much CO2 is safe?
The best science says we need to keep below 350 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere. Unfortunately, the world has already exceeded the 350 maximum, back in the early '90s. For almost 20 years since then, we have steadily ratcheted past that critical sustainable threshold, and are now at 390. In other words, we're already in the red and if we stay here or go any farther we're in serious danger.
But there are no signs of slowing down. We all love our freedoms, conveniences, and shiny objects, but they come with a staggering hidden cost: the mining and refining and manufacturing and shipping and packaging and disposing of all our stuff contributes significantly to CLIMATE CHANGE. And as China puts a new coal fired power plant on line every week for the next 20 years to keep up with the world's Westernizing demand for more products, the rate of CO2 emissions are guaranteed to increase.
GLOBAL WARMING overheats the oceans and land. Extra heat in the atmosphere means more hurricanes over the oceans and more tornadoes over land. Extra heat also causes excess evaporation.
Evaporated land means a drought. Evaporated oceans mean more clouds, more storms, heavier rainfall and snowfall.
Heavier rainfall means more flooding. Heavier snowfall means more snowpack in the mountains. Snowpack is nature's water battery, charging in the winter and slowly draining through summer and fall. But GLOBAL WARMING is melting snowpack too early so we have mudslides and floods, followed by contaminated water and drought.
One catastrophic fallout of CLIMATE CHANGE you don't hear about every day is unfolding in South Asia. 3 billion people in 18 nations — almost half the world's population — live in and depend on the watershed of the Himalayas. But as GLOBAL WARMING quickly melts the Himalayan Glaciers, their streams of life have become floods and mudslides, decimating crops and villages and contaminating their only water source.
What is a Tipping Point?
Picture a stack of children's blocks. When it's short it is very stable. But once the tower gets tall it is unstable and starts to sway. If it sways past the tipping point, the tower will fail instantly and
catastrophically. Past the tipping point — which is only a couple degrees off of stable — it's impossible to catch the collapsing pieces and rescue the tower.
The tipping points of nature are called bio feedback loops. The melting of the glaciers, the thawing of the Arctic tundra, the acidification of the oceans, and the desertification of land are all tipping points of GLOBAL WARMING, and all of them are leaning right now. Once they collapse there's no stopping them.
Worse, their collapse causes the fall of other systems.
But enough about the science for now.
- - - - -
Let me give a brief history of how GLOBAL WARMING and CLIMATE CHANGE have been handled so far.
GLOBAL WARMING is not a recently discovered problem. It was first theorized in 1896 — well over a hundred years ago.
And we have had major advances in the international science and politics of CLIMATE CHANGE every 10 and 20 years since then: 1936, 1950, 1958, 1972, 1988.
Fast forward another 20 years to 1992 – almost a century from the first scientific paper on GLOBAL WARMING. The United Nations Framework Convention on CLIMATE CHANGE was formed and began hosting intensive annual CLIMATE CHANGE Conferences. A draft of what became the Kyoto Protocol was immediately signed by 154 countries – 80% of the world.
But not by America.
Outside the United States it seemed as if the world was waking up to meet this incredibly important challenge. But here at home another force was in play:
"... three large American industry groups set to work on strategies to cast doubt on the science of CLIMATE CHANGE. Even though the oil industry’s own scientists had declared ... that human-induced CLIMATE CHANGE was undeniable, the American Petroleum Institute, the Western Fuels Association (a coal consortium) and a Philip Morris-sponsored anti-science group ... all drafted and promoted campaigns of CLIMATE CHANGE disinformation."
The results of these smokescreens are impressive. Despite some 47,000 peer-reviewed scientific
documents by thousands of the very best scientists around the world, which starkly prove the reality of Man-made GLOBAL WARMING, the fossil fuel lobby and a handful of complicit politicians and media have successfully deluded half of the US public. Otherwise intelligent and well-meaning people throughout our country can't imagine that GLOBAL WARMING could be caused by humans, or that it is a serious threat.
And because people doubt, they balk at some of the simplest steps toward living sustainably.
That's exactly where the deniers want us. Apathetic and inert. So we must choose NOT to be apathetic. We must choose NOT to sit idly by.
This is no longer politics. Strategically masking the known threat of FOSSIL FUELS and GLOBAL WARMING is morphing into a crime against humanity — and against every other living thing on Earth, for that matter!
Until the denial is put to rest, until the people in this country wake up en masse and demand a beautiful future of CLEAN, GREEN ENERGY and SUSTAINABLE LIFE, the fossil fuel lobby and their complicit politicians will keep us shackled to the carbon bomb that is already ticking.
This is not the America we want. This is not the America we need. This is absolutely not the America we want to leave the next generation.

To be continued.

No comments:

Post a Comment