Blunt Climate Change Message Given to Legislature, GOP Leadership Unimpressed. We Have a Response to GOP

The GOP may not be willing to fight for our planet, but Kathleen Dean Moore and SueEllen Campbell had the most powerful list of reasons to fight for this planet that I have ever read. I am sending it to Rep. Townsend who was unimpressed by yesterday’s expert testimony to the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

Kathleen Dean Moore and SueEllen Campbell’s passionate and powerful plea for all of us to unceasingly advocate for our planet is provided at the bottom of this post. It should be read by everyone, as it provides the most compelling reasons for why we must fight for this planet that I have ever read. It is actually hard to read through without breaking into tears. It warrants being shared with everyone you know as not only does it provide a motivation for fighting for climate justice, but for fighting for all forms of justice.  And it provides a clear reason for engaging in the Roundhouse and joining the Statewide Rapid Response Network. Please share this post and JOIN the Response Network.

Compelling Expert Testimony at Roundhouse Leaves GOP Leader Unmoved. We Have a Powerful Response 

Rio Grande in Southern NM, April 2018 and already dry as a bone. Photo by Laura Paskus.

David Gutzler, a professor at the University of New Mexico and member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, delivered unflinching testimony yesterday to the members of the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee. Gutzler told members that:.

  • The mountains outside Albuquerque will look like the mountains outside El Paso by the end of the century if current trends continue,.
  • There will not be any snowpack in the mountains above Santa Fe by the end of the century,
  • We have already seen more land burned by wildfires, partly because of changes in forest management and partly because of climate change,
  • Water supply will be negatively affected in what is already an arid state.

“It’s real. It’s happening. We see it in the data. … This is not hypothetical in any way. This is real and we would be foolish to ignore it,” Gutzler said.

The professor warned lawmakers that the state must get serious about greenhouse gas emissions now by expanding clean energy sources and mitigating the societal costs of moving away from fossil fuels. That cost, though, will be a sticking point for Republicans. Many of them represent southeastern New Mexico and the Four Corners, where oil and mining are big industries.

House Minority Leader Jim Townsend, R-Artesia, questioned what one state of just 2 million people can really do to tackle a global issue. “What we do within our state would have no impact aside from harming our constituents today,” Townsend said, arguing the issue requires global leadership.  Well, Rep. Townsend, we have a response that was written by Kathleen Dean Moore and SueEllen Campbell. It is as powerful and personal an appeal as I have ever read. I am sending the message below to Rep. Townsend. If you care to, here is his Roundhouse email address.

Why do we keep doing this climate work? 

  • Because we are not doomed, as long as we act. A world in which we do everything we can to restrain climate change barely resembles one in which we do nothing. We won’t like the first world, but we might not survive in the second.
  • Because I want to be the kind of person who doesn’t give up on important jobs. You don’t do what’s right because you think it might get you something. You do it because it’s right. That’s what integrity is — doing what you believe in, even if it won’t save the world.
  • Because I won’t walk away from the hurting world any more than I will walk away from my mother as she grows old and frail and sometimes confused. I love her and owe her and have a duty to her and admire her and enjoy her company.
  • Because I promised my newborn children: I will always love you. I will keep you safe. I will give you the world. I didn’t mean, I will give you whatever is left scattered and torn on the table after the great cosmic going-out-of-business sale. I said, I will give you this beautiful, life-sustaining, bird-graced world.
  • Because everybody knows what we have to do. It isn’t as though the world is waiting for some technological breakthrough or divine revelation. We just need to stop setting carbon on fire.
  • Because climate change is unjust. It threatens the greatest violation of human rights the world has ever seen. But injustice is cowardly and fragile; it crumbles when people stand up for what is right.
  • Because we have so much to lose, and so much left to save — everything from birdsong to our own sorry souls.
  • Because we don’t want to be free riders, taking advantage of the actions, often sacrifices, of those who step up. If we avoid planetary ruin, if we find better ways to live, it will be because of the courage of those who act.
  • Because failing to act is worse than neutral. It’s saying that this climate disruption is no big deal — exactly the message fossil-fuel corporations and complicit governments want to convey. If we don’t respond to the emergency, we become part of the storm itself.
  • Because I am wearing my Dad’s rubber boots. They are too big for me, but my own are old and torn. So I am walking in the boots he wore at the edge of all the marshes he defended until the day he died. If you are walking in the shoes of a hero, you can’t exactly turn back.
  • Because I can’t and therefore don’t have to solve the whole problem alone. I only have to help where and how I can. So many good people are in this fight with us — in governments around the world, in businesses, in states and towns and neighborhoods and churches. They are smart and experienced and empowered by a vision of a planet redeemed.
  • Because I believe, and choose to believe, that in this emergency, as in every emergency, more of us will come out to help each other than will rush in to exploit and loot.
  • Because despair is lonely and useless while climate action is full of friendship, satisfaction, and glee — you get to hang out with people who care as much as you do and act with the same remorseless resolve. Taking action is the only real cure for hopelessness. It feels good, and important, like you’re not wasting your life on small things.

I would say that while Moore and Campbells’s comments are most germane to climate change, they have implications for most all of our MUST PASS bills. Climate justice, economic justice, social justice, racial justice, they are all inter-related just as the elements of this earth are inter-related. There is urgency in addressing all suffering and there is no one but us–or better yet–you who can do this work.

Please share this post with others and encourage them to join the Statewide Response Network.

We can do this because we have no choice.

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne

Categories: Climate Change, Agriculture, Land Use and Wildlife

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10 replies

  1. While I absolutely do not agree with Jim Townsend’s comment, “What we do within our state would have no impact aside from harming our constituents today,” I think there are some important pieces missing from the list of responses above.

    The question is, “What can one small state do?”
    And the answers, in my view, need to include practical solutions, like:
    • NM can provide vast amounts of renewable energy for our own state and beyond
    • NM can use our scientific / research resources to develop stronger energy storage capabilities
    • NM can be a leader in implementing and teaching agricultural practices that promote carbon sequestration in soil–the greatest untapped carbon sink that almost nobody is talking about (yet)
    • NM can develop not only renewable energy, but also renewable/alternative economic models to fund states that rely heavily on oil and gas revenues to fund their governments. (This is still a work in progress, but it’s a necessity that requires the attention of forward-thinking economists.)

  2. Who among us is carpooling? Who among us questions the prescribed burning? Who amony us has changed our energy usage since Greta , the 15 yr old Swede spoke?
    It is easy to condemn big users but unless we change too we are all living a lie.

  3. Thank you Paul and Roxanne for publishing Kathleen Dean Moore’s powerful list. Thank you.

  4. Hi Paul and Roxanne. I just answered a survey from the Union of Concerned Scientists, of which I am a member. One part of the survey allowed for “other” responses than the check-the-box format of the survey. Their survey closely reflects the climate change elephant in the room that your post posits. When it comes to the recalcitrant attitude of certain politicians, who would rather hang onto their one bird in the hand than release the gaggle of geese hiding in the bush nearby, my view of the MOs of almost all deniers is as follows.

    The fundamental semantic at work in most human decision making is ‘The Death by a Thousand Cuts.’ True learning is a messy business. It must be experiential because humans are unable to grasp any abstract without reliance on drama to give the snake some lines. True knowledge must be personalized so it can be validated, or else it stands in the shadows, invalidating catharsis, the primary driver of any ownership of a true thing.

    Climate science is not like the weather (meteorology). Scientific method is not useful during a cloudburst that floats your car and you into an arroyo. If we are very honest with ourselves, we must admit that almost no one in the general public has a clue about how science operates in generating truthful and useful information, let alone using any given phenomenon to extrapolate far back into the past or predict future events.

    So for science to use past and present data, even very well documented and verified ad nauseum, to demonstrate a most certain future calamity, has the effect on most in the public of bumping a shin or scratching an arm on a rose thorn. Science is not a friend of the fast brain, which demands rapidly adjudicated outcomes that beg a satisfactory value. And to learn how science works and how to work it oneself in the pursuit of a valuable truth challenges most human’s slow brain, which has an inherent laziness which must be overcome.

    Now the truth of the matter is that the Earth’s physical and biological systems are dying via a thousand cuts every microsecond. But most folks never see these, or feel these, or smell these or can point to an outcome that has significant negative impact on them personally. They also cannot easily intellectualize the quantum mechanics that demonstrate that all matter, energy, space and phenomenae are interconnected and wholly intradependent.

    So few feel, let alone comprehend, how the death of one Monarch butterfly cuts the skin and creates scar tissue that weakens us all. So for a politico to rush to the defence of the oil industry or an economist to question the payout capability of a Green New Deal is, sadly and tragically, the easiest of decisions to make.

    As the cuts accumulate, the infections persist, the organism experiences physical and emotional depression and distress prevails, the Thousand Cuts will have the day, and the mythological pipedreams of the rapture seekers will be devoured by the very science they worked so hard to deny.

    Our only recourse is to blast through the accumulating oxidation that entraps the human condition. Maybe we will serendipitously find that 13th Monkey that will save the day. You never know. That is a great lesson of science.

    As I see it there is only one unforgivable sin – to choose fear and abandon reverence.

  5. See Vimeo Verchinski and Thoreau. Then take home the list from my photos section on my FB page. Work on it as individuals since government action now is too late.

    Last time I gave a climate talk no one listened in 1992. I called at UNM for a 50 % reduction in fossil fuel consumption to avert greenhouse gas impacts. Both myself and Dr. William F. Kellogg’s requests for action after the talks at UNM went largely ignored. Even a simple change in building codes to save both water and energy soon afterwards on the City of Albuquerque Energy Council was considered too radical. However my vision as a Guest Editor for Alternative Sources of Energy Magazine for where the photovoltaic industry needed to go has come true.

    Back now then to July 2018. I gave the climate talk to the National Green party meeting. Estimated then we had about 10 to 12 years before we seal the fates of the next generations. I called to accomplish the carbon drawdown by an average 7% year over year REDUCTION in all fossil fuel uses including nuclear. (Embedded in nuclear power is about a 66 gms per kWh carbon cost. It is not “carbon free”)

    That said, the Governor implied making 2030 goals or 2050 commitments are frankly, already out of touch with the urgency I listened to in Katowice at COP24 some which note the ticking climate bombs set off in less than 10 years.

    So what are the problems left not addressed in our Governor’s address to the State?

    This states commitment to energy waste and water waste over the years will be an obstacle.

    This state’s inability to have an Environmental Policy Act with carrots and sticks to each County is an obstacle.

    No carbon fee and dividend is an obstacle.

    No commitment to getting corporate rule under control is an obstacle.

    No commitment to eliminating the investor owned utilities (IOU’s) in our state is an obstacle.

    No commitment to divesting ourselves from the military offense Congressional complex is an obstacle.

    The legislature should get on all of these topics or the public should elect people who will prioritize problems that are statewide in scope.

    Stephen Verchinski

  6. Arguing with these people is a waste of energy. They refuse to belief in facts and get their ideas from mass media and fossil fuel think tanks. No one is looking at quantifying the real costs, even here in New Mexico. Acequias were dry last year, at the time they needed water for planting. Our forests were off limits due to fire danger, spreading unease, and effecting small businesses, tourism and wood gathering. Horrific news video of people escaping forest fires in CA, were superimposed on the smelll of wilfire smoke across New Mexico and Colorado. Our reservoirs are empty, and massive amounts of water are needed for fracking, depleting aquifers.

    We paid for a lot of the infrastructure for the oil industry, and we will have to pay for the clean up. The oil and gas industry has acted in a criminal manner here in New Mexico, avoiding any regulation, and describing any concerned citizen as an “extremist.” They have not been acting in good faith, and they have the local media under their thumb. They have also provided funds to academia, to undermine any scientific or objective discusssion.

    Just look at that collapsed hole in Carlsbad, the oil and gas industry tried to get New Mexico residents to pay for the remediation. What the oil and gas industry contines to downplay is the amount of water required for the extraction. The were so innovative, rebranding their toxic waste as “produced water.” We can look at the toxic legacy of the uranim mining on the Navajo Nation, the companies that profited moved on leaving dangerous contimination in their wake. The oil and gas industry does not even go through the pretence, of cleaning up after their activies anymore.

    • So, Mavis, I am just curious. If no one in power can be moved and nothing we do matters, what are we to do. Just go fishing? Is there a strategy that you think might be impactful?

      • Nah! I think we need to look at Extinction Rebellion. We also need to call out BS when it is appropriate. The nauseating Greenwashing as marketing is really irksome. So is playing nice with these smile in your face politicians. The minute you turn your back there is an eye roll. Arguing with people like Townsend is a waste of time, his livelihood depends on not being aware of what is going on. We need to look at the actual costs, when they say, What’s this gonna cost. The media has not been covering the real costs.

        The same with the other issues in this state, like Education, and the rest of it. We have had 8 years of obvious obstruction and dismantling of education, infrastructure and healthcare. We are playing catch up, repairing the damage from the Johnson, Richardson and Martinez bad ideas.

        The oil and gas Industy has not been playing nice, or behaving like a good corporate citizen. They have taken over the federal agencies, and have an interest in misinforming the public. They were also fine with spreading racism, hate and division, as long as they got what they wanted. This area is already seeing massive effects from Global Warming, but the facts are being offset, by the tourism, real estate and oil and gas industries.

        They went after academia too, making funding internships and scholarships dependant on not questioning the corporate agenda. In order to get industry money, for their educations, which the only source anymore, science and engineering students were led to a certain belief system.

        Townsend and his ilk have been denying Climte Change and Global Warming for decades, they are not going to have a come to jeebus moment over any of these kinds responses. He is the darling of our local media, they will elevate him, and amplify his ramblings, as they are already doing. MLG will coninue to placate the industries, and do just enough climate change legislation to appear to be doing her job.

      • Mavis, it is your habit to describe what won’t work. I’d be interested in what you feel is a valuable use of time for the people who do care about the planet and our future.

  7. What I am getting at is we have to challenge the marketing, and media deception. This is a very serious issue, and we should already know what does not work, and why it isn’t working.

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