more dialog re/ climate change etc.


Richard Moore

Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2007 17:01:34 -0400
From: Anna-Maria Galante-Ward <•••@••.•••>
Subject: global warming: talk vs. action
To: •••@••.•••

Dear Richard Moore,

I'm sure your heart is in the right place upholding the spirit of 
debate. But I want to lay my agenda open as a green activist. 
(And you're welcome to post this to your group.)

I am a mom.

I don't see too many other moms cited on your list.

I'm a mom who happened to be trained as a science journalist.

If we can have acid rain, we can have global warming.

After 20 years of unsuccessfully being able to tell the global 
warming story, Al Gore's movie was a relief. It was a relief for 
someone to show average human beings the big picture. I sincerely 
hope he's wrong.

But if he's right, and we don't do something about it, we're going to 
regret it.

Because I care about the people who will come after me on this 
planet, I'm for erring on the side of caution.

I don't care what's happening on the moons of Saturn. We're not 
moving there anytime soon.

I care what's happening right here on Earth.

I am using every network connection, and every opportunity I have to 
urge fellow citizens toward sustainability.

What we're talking about is the survival of our species.

The real danger is not global warming, but that we'll all accept it 
as a "fact of life" and then forget to adapt to it.

If we don't adapt, the options for our species decrease. They sure as 
hell don't increase.

So let's put our precious time and energy toward the best possible outcome.

We've already wasted 20 years yacking.

Let's get the troops out of Iraq.

And let's get the rest of you back down to earth.

She's got something to say to us.

After all, she's a mom.

Sincerely and with respect,
Anna-Maria Galante
Climate Action Now
Nova Scotia, Canada
"It's cold, and we like it that way."
"Windmills? Noisy? What about that freeway?"


Hi Anna-Maria,

Many thanks for writing. I sense the concern and urgency in your 
expression, and I can see you have a good grasp of the scope of our 

      > But if he's right, and we don't do something about it,
         we're going to regret it.

I agree. The question is what we can do that will make a difference. 
What I've been arguing in my posts is that the actions being taken by 
governments, and those proposed by Gore, will not make a difference, 
and in many cases actually make the problem worse. More important, 
such 'actions' may lull people into slumber, thinking the problem is 
'being solved'.

      > I am using every network connection, and every opportunity
         I have to urge fellow citizens toward sustainability.

Yes, and I recycle, don't have a car, turn off lights, etc. 
Unfortunately, none of these individual actions will make a 
significant difference. It's a matter of transforming society's 
infrastructures, food production, economic basis, etc. Unless we 
achieve sustainability, as you suggest, then society remains 
unsustainable, which means that more and more things will start 
running out, including oil, food, energy, and yes, co2 absorption 
capacity. Global warming is just one of the many consequences of 
unsustainability. Even if we actually could deal with global warming 
--perhaps a new technology that sucks co2 out of the air--we would 
still be on the road to ruin from all the other consequences of 

         > What we're talking about is the survival of our species.

Yes indeed. I agree. Being unsustainable is like being on a ship 
heading toward the rocks. Slowing down the ship a bit will only delay 
destruction for a while. The sum of all individual actions can only 
amount to a bit of slowing down. In order to turn the ship onto a new 
course, we need to transform the way in which decisions are made in 
our society, abandon the agendas of economic growth and imperialism, 
and devote our national resources and efforts toward developing 
sustainable infrastructures, agriculture, etc.

There's a very inspiring documentary from Community Solutions, called 
"How Cuba Survived Peak Oil" ( 
When the Soviet Union collapsed, Cuba found itself overnight with 80% 
of its exports terminated, and 80% of its oil imports ended. At the 
same time the US increased its embargoes. There was no diesel for 
tractors, and no money to import pesticides and fertilizers. Organic 
farming was the forced option. Cuba was forced to learn how to become 
sustainable, organic, and self-sufficient. Gardens sprung up 
everywhere, millions of bicycles were imported from China, and people 
began to cope in various ways. There was a very difficult period, 
with not really enough food, and the topsoil had been ruined by 
modern agricultural methods. But after about three years, Cuba had 
made the transition to small-scale organic farming, use of oxen and 
horses, greatly reduced energy consumption, etc. They are now better 
off than they were with Soviet help, with better and more abundant 
food, a healthier and more sustainable economy, and strengthened 

The film suggests that all of us will be hit by peak oil sooner or 
later, and it presents the Cuban story as a model of how one society 
was able to adapt successfully to that situation. Grassroots 
initiatives and creativity were very important in making the 
transition, but equally important was the role of government. 
Cooperation and self-help at the grassroots level played its part, 
and overall coordination of national resources and agencies played 
its part. The development of small-scale agriculture was central to 
the transition, and that became possible because the government 
provided land free of charge to any family or group that wanted to 
start up a farming business. If they didn't follow up and farm, then 
the land would be given to someone else. The small, private, farming 
sector now thrives, with farmers being one of the best paid 
occupations, and it operates much more efficiently than the previous 
'modern' methods.

This is the scale of the prize upon which we must keep our eyes.  We 
can only move toward sustainability by making that our primary 
national agenda, as citizens and as nations. None of our major 
parties or candidates has any notion of such an agenda. They offer 
token gestures, which might have some marginal benefit, while giving 
their main priority to maintaining what they call economic growth. 
The net agenda, regardless of which party is in power, accelerates 
our ship of state on its way to the rocks.

There are no easy answers here. One can get a headache trying to 
imagine how we might succeed in transforming our national priorities. 
So far, we aren't even able to end a horrific war in Iraq, even 
though almost everyone now seems to be against it. But if we take our 
eyes off the prize, we will end up settling for rearranged deck 
chairs, or to use your phrase, we'll be accepting destruction as a 
"fact of life".

warm regards,

Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2007 01:20:21 -0800
From: X (also a mom)
To: Richard Moore <•••@••.•••>


      X forwarded>>  "And a few days later, German Chancellor and G8
         President Angela Merkel vowed to put climate change at the
         top of the agenda for the G8 Leaders Summit."

      rkm responded>>  Scary. When these idiots say they're going to
         do something about climate change, you can be sure it won't
         be anything helpful.

Dear Richard,

I find your dialogue on climate change interesting, although I know 
that there's been a lot of energy gone into climate change denial so 
it generally feels like a positive thing for people to be taking it 

There is a real danger, I think, that some "cures" could only add to 
our problems and that we will neglect some really important other 
(often related) issues, in fixating ourselves on climate change.

Your dialogue is good in that it is not censored; you went ahead and 
shared some of the scathing criticism people sent you. It's also good 
in that it challenges orthodoxy, and "groupthink" orthodoxy" is 
always something that humans are susceptible too.

Up till now I've been happy to work with the many people around me 
whose efforts I respect on climate change and I'll continue to do so. 
 A lot of what we need to do would tend to decentralize governance, 
energy systems and so on, and that is clearly beneficial not only in 
terms of climate change... I'm curious to see how people will respond 
to your suggestion that urging G8 leaders to do something about 
climate change may actually be counter-productive.

... I, myself, would never refer to "these idiots", if only because I 
really have not been following European politics and don't know if 
they merit such a term. .Also, I do think we need to be wary of 
writing off ideas just because of who puts them forward. .. We also 
need to be wary of people co-opting legitimate concerns and terms and 
using them to promote dangerous agendas. So, there's a tension there.

all the best, X


Dear X,

Thanks for your thoughtful message.

G8 actions might not always be counter-productive, but lobbying the 
G8 will not solve our problems, nor lead toward decentralized 
governance. Indeed, in the course of 'taking action', the G8 is 
likely to use that as an opportunity to increase global 
centralization, further undermining national sovereignty, enhancing 
corporate power, etc.. I call the G8 folks 'idiots' as an expression 
of rage at their misuse of power, but in fact they are unfortunately 
very clever. We can take some comfort from the fact that Russia is in 
the G8, and Russia is increasingly taking an independent stand.

Yes, there are many considerations, and our principles are often in 
conflict with one another. One must develop discernment in order to 
understand what is right action for oneself in the midst of such 
complexity. Part of discernment is having a sense of the big picture 
of the situation. Another part is being able to think forward and 
imagine the consequences of various action choices. My hope is that 
the discussions we are having might be able to aid all of us in 
increasing our discernment levels.

very best wishes,


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