The Only Way to Avoid Extinction Begins Today, In NM

Greta changed the conversation but now some adults, governors, presidents, and CEO’s need to act forcefully and quickly. It will require sacrifice, no doubt. Here is a plan for how NM could be first to lead the way.

In brief–Actions and Events

There are an array of actions and events coming up this week and next including:

  • August 21, 6pm, a 1420 Cerrillos Rd, Santa Fe. Bailamos Unidos (Let’s Dance As One) for Democracy and Immigrant Rights, a benefit for Somos Un Pueblo Unido, Santa Fe Dreamers Project, and the Democratic Party of Santa Fe.
  • August 24, 12:30-2:30pm, EarthCare and the Youth United for Climate Crisis Action Team (YUCCA) is convening a working meeting.
  • Saturday, August 24, 1-4pm. August 24, 1-4pm, Community Solar Now, Central/Unser Library (Just 10 minutes from downtown), 8081 Central Avenue NW, Albuquerque, NM.

For more information on these and other coming events, click here to get to the actions and events page.

We Need $800 in Donations For a Very Specific Purpose

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We are working to develop a statewide organization, but this is impeded by our not being able to reliably stream our meetings to other parts of the state. We are investing in a MEVO camera and Booster that will enable us to stream our monthly meetings live onto Facebook or YouTube. We will also use MEVO to stream panel discussions sponsored by others.

We will change the format of our monthly meetings to offer a series of important speakers, presentations, panels and discussions that then can be broadcast statewide. We will not conduct our Action Team breakouts at the monthly meetings, as that makes including those in other parts of the state impossible and including these breakouts at our monthly meetings limits the scale of presentations we offer while also limiting the time available for breakout discussion.

So, instead Action Teams will meet on their own schedule and use Zoom technology to enable those from other parts of the state to participate. Together these two shifts will enable Retake to stream important information statewide while holding small Zoom meetings to strategize, small meetings that can include people from Taos, Farmington, Las Cruces, Silver City and wherever we have a base. The cost is $800. We don’t like to push for donations. We are all volunteers, operate from homes and so we have no costs that go to salaries or offices. But to build a statewide base will require your investment. Please make a donation today by clicking the “donate” image above left. You can also donate, by sending a check to Retake Our Democracy, P.O. Box 32464, Santa Fe, NM 87594. . Thanks so much. Paul and Roxanne

Join Me on a Somewhat Twisted Path Leading to an Inevitable Conclusion

This thought process began with reading a Facebook post by my son, Jesse, who had been an activist in high school and college but who during his last three years out of college, has fallen away from that activism. In his post, he acknowledged this to his FB friends, acknowledged his feeling guilty, but without saying it explicitly, said in effect, he had lost hope and saw no path forward that made sense.

That was hard enough to read. But then one comment after another from his FB friends stated essentially the same thing. All folks with histories in activism of some sort, all young, all “woke,” but all frozen, feeling no action or sacrifice they could make would make any difference. Until at last one mentioned the Sunrise Movement and took the thread in a more positive direction.

While none of the FB comments said this, I will. These youth and so many millions more are frozen in apathy because they see no one in power doing any of the right things, no one treating the climate crisis like the emergency it is, and hence no point of entry into engaging in struggle. And this is not just Trump and his cronies, but Pelosi, Schumer, Biden, and most everyone in NM Democratic Party leadership. This thought process led me to reflect upon what Roxanne and I are doing, what Retake Our Democracy is doing, what so many other social, racial, economic, and climate justice advocates are doing and what our legislators are doing.

While engaging in efforts to pass a minimum wage increase, advocating for Community Solar and Community Choice Energy and lobbying for abortion decriminalization all are worthy efforts, all of these ultimately mean almost nothing seen from the lens of looming climate catastrophe. We are merely moving the deck chairs around into pretty configurations while the Titanic steams toward extinction. And if you do not think we are on the Titanic, read this excerpt from a Resilience post published just Tuesday morning.

As I see things, there are three broad possible futures that lie ahead:
* This civilisation could collapse utterly and terminally, as a result of climatic instability (leading for instance to catastrophic food shortages as a probable mechanism of collapse), or possibly sooner than that, through nuclear war, pandemic, or financial collapse leading to mass civil breakdown. Any of these are likely to be precipitated in part by ecological/climate instability, as Darfur and Syria were. Or
* This civilisation (we) will manage to seed a future successor-civilisation(s), as this one collapses.Or
* This civilisation will somehow manage to transform itself deliberately, radically and rapidly, in an unprecedented manner, in time to avert collapse.

The third option, at which XR [Extinction Rebellion] aims, is by far the least likely, though the most desirable, simply because either of the other options will involve vast suffering and death on an unprecedented scale. In the case of (1), we are talking the extinction or near-extinction of humanity. In the case of (2) we are talking at minimum multiple megadeaths. But (2) would obviously be hugely preferable to (1), and thus the ultimate importance for us of getting our societies not only to mitigate but also to adapt, deeply.

The second option is very difficult to envisage clearly, but is, I now believe, very likely. Unless we are incredibly lucky or incredibly determined and brilliant (or almost certainly both) then we are facing, almost certainly, changes around the world which are going to bring an end to this civilisation. So we need to think about what comes after it. We need to think about it now, and we need to start to work toward it; because there are many sub-possibilities within possibility two, and some of them are very ugly.

Why I Say This Civilisation is Finished, by Robert Kaulfuss https://www.resilience.org/stories/2019-08-20/why-i-say-that-this-civilisation-is-finished/

That puts things in frightening perspective. Shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic, indeed. It is time to take a stand for something that might make a difference. Community Solar would be tremendous, Community Choice Energy even better; increased royalties on gas and oil and taxing carbon are like compromising with the enemy to get the best deal short of our own surrender. Even methane capture is a very modest proposal. We can no longer do modest proposals. That we focus on things like the Energy Transition Act and the produced water bill and call those victories should only tell you how misguided our priorities are.

I have been fielding emails from an odd but diverse array of folks over the past two weeks. These emails had been rumbling untethered in my brain until they began to coalesce with the thinking reflected above. These emails were not from leadership of organizations but rather people leadership at environmental organizations would recognize as the advocates who show up at the Roundhouse, at rallies, at Chaco. They write the letters and emails drafted by people like Sierra Club, New Energy Economy, Conservation Voters, and Retake.

They are saying three things: 1) we are in unimaginably perilous times with the window of opportunity closing by the day (as evident in the excerpt above);  2) our democratic state leadership unilaterally feels we can and should drill for another 5-10 years because NM’s impact on the looming climate catastrophe is relatively miniscule when put in global context and gas and oil revenues can be used to address over a decade of neglect for the working families and children of our 50th ranked state; and 3) because of 1 and 2, we need a different plan, an urgent plan for transitioning from gas and oil dependence in NM. And we need to assemble the power to insist this plan is created and used.

Democratic leadership is playing politics, which is what they know how to do. They see the G&O boon as a way to fund every worthwhile project that has been stalled for over a decade. That is understandable under most circumstances. And Speaker Egolf was correct when he stated on a recent Retake radio broadcast, that what NM does by way of ceasing oil production is relatively unimportant in a global context.

But that is true of every single jurisdiction in the world, including India and China. We can only avoid what is laid out in the Resilience article if all of those relatively insignificant jurisdictions in the world pivot 100% almost immediately—with “almost immediately” meaning not in 2030 but now. And someone needs to go first, to lead. Why not NM?

That led me to this thought: What if NM created a plan that:

  • calls for the end of NM gas and oil production by 2025;
  • acknowledges a short-to-mid-term reduction in state revenues of perhaps 30%, a formidable challenge that while daunting pales when compared with extinction;
  • calls for strategic investments from the permanent fund to both backfill our revenue shortfalls and to seed an array of industries whose production will slowly build a new state revenue base that is sustainable and clean; and
  • passed a Memorial for the 2020 session to create a multi-sectoral panel to oversee an 8-month planning process that could produce a road map to a just and immediate transition.

What if?

No, this will not change the global forces that drive the world toward a 2 degree increase. But just as Greta has shown how a single actor on the stage can shift the conversation irreversibly, NM could demonstrate how a major jurisdiction can move beyond conversation and create the requisite plan, the requisite sacrifice, the requisite commitment. We would not be saving the world, but we would be charting a path for how the world could be saved.

Someone, some country, some state, or some province needs to be first, needs to take the step, as Greta did, and say we are prepared to make steep sacrifices and now.

Unfortunately, in NM there is currently a lack of political will to achieve this grand vision, this immediate and just transition. But that is what elections are for: selecting leadership that will implement the will of the people. And if protecting a woman’s right to choose is a major issue in NM in 2020, then preserving a future for your children and grandchildren certainly deserves to be on the table, as well.

The needle needs to move and move quickly. We need to demonstrate to the millions of youth who, like my son, have lost faith in us, our institutions, our leaders and their future. We need to give them hope and inspiration, so that they can get them back in the game. In short, we must lead.

My son’s note shook me to the core. It made me realize that I am one of the adults in the world letting him down. I need to demonstrate to him that there are still reasons to continue to fight.

I am not sure where this leads. I have spent much of Tuesday on the phone talking with legislators, advocates, and friends who see the same need for a dramatic, immediate and just transition. And the first step in that process is a transition plan. It seems to me, we need to force our Democratic leadership to create funding for a real plan for that transition and that needs to happen in 2020.

More later, but if you’d like to be part of an effort to make this happen, please let me know: paul@retakeourdemocracy.org. And please share this post with others. The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association will not be happy and they have clout. It is going to take enormous pressure to get this done. You are the pressure.

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne

14 thoughts on “The Only Way to Avoid Extinction Begins Today, In NM

  1. Paul, I understand why individuals find themselves helpless in our current situation. I see those who are employed or elected to be part of our government functioning like cockroaches in a closet, knowing that, at all costs, no light must enter that closet. Even on a state or county level, individuals may feel they can have no effect on government. Several years ago, while attending some of your meetings, I suggested that a course be offered at the community college that will focus on transparency and how you can effect needed change in government. I have a number of years of teaching at the community college level, also grade school and high school. I would like to discuss how a class on transparency can empower individuals to make needed change.

  2. John, that sounds great! people literally not knowing their own rights or how the government works is a big part of the problem.
    Paul, i dropped you a note – I agree New Mexico could and should be the leader here. And as a systems scientists i have a pretty decent idea of how big these problems are – but they are still solvable, as long as we do not cower in fear, disrespect the truth, and refuse to take action. Perhaps it’s time to call another kind of meeting, one that acknowledges our emotional reactions and how they are destroying our ability to react, and present inspiring speakers that can get people moving. I volunteer, starting with how many of the assumptions the Forest Service (and thus the government) is making about our area, and how to be pro-active with them as they seek to destroy the very forests which will mitigate our personal climate. The science is no longer on their side, but people need that information in an understandable way and without the double-speak of the Forest Service.
    Basically, it’s time for some optimism – maybe ask our wonderful community to put together a day of inspiration, support, and solutions, to help draw in those who are scared and confused. If our leaders won’t lead, then #WeTHePeople must. And guess what – we CAN!
    Thanks to you both for your work!

  3. To John’s comment above, I agree and have been advocating for several years that various groups, all groups include in their meeting agenda’s a series of educational efforts by title. I know that Retake is the best in this respect so this is not directed anywhere. The series could be titled Making government work 101, or anything else. These could be short 10 minute presentations led by various presenters on such topics as Sunshine Laws like the Open Meetings Act and the Inspection of Public Records Act. A local government primer on public comment, commissions, boards and departments . Letters to the editor, how to work a room, How to ask a question at a candidates fund raiser. How to look up a statute, important parts of our NM Constitution, like an oath of office maybe. Any way the list is a long one of things most people shy away from because they may seem daunting at first thought.

  4. There is an incredible amount of misinformation, fear and outright lies being promoted by mass media, our politicians and the tech companies and other corporations. This attack on free speech, by ALEC, was not covered by the mainstream news, https://truthout.org/articles/protesters-crash-alec-conference-to-resist-bill-criminalizing-pipeline-activists/ We saw the arrest lies and suppression of free speech right here in Santa Fe, and none of our local politicians spoke up. while the public was silent.

    It is no wonder that young people are in distress or succumbing to apathy. Global Warning and Climate Change is the most defining issue, maybe ever. The media promoted apathy, powerlessness and fear, among people who may have protested. The science is already proven, it is just a matter of where and how we will be impacted. Every day local news touts the windfall from oil and gas without mentioning any downsides.

    What we have is a massive conspiracy, of corporations, politicians and news media. It is like a massive psy ops campaign, against the American people. The media with help from oil and gas propagandists has already labeled anyone who might protest as misguided or “antifa.” We are not immune here, we are seeing the high rates of suicide, addiction, and despair right here. It is all accompanied by lies, propaganda and marketing. In many cases the marketing is seamlessly incorporated in news content.

    They incorporated marketing into a lot of the green movement, undermining and distracting from the problem. It became transactional, while some people were distracted and misled by “innovation.” The “Big Green Groups” rely on corporate funding through foundations that appear well meaning, but actually have another agenda. In New Mexico the focus on economic exploitation of the wilderness, while appearing to benefit the cause, only made things worse. Facts are political and when you are selling something, one has to avoid politics and facts.

    We don’t have any real local leaders, the young people have been programmed into silence. Look at the attacks on Gretta, by mass media across the world. https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/ywagdx/policy-exchange-extinction-rebellion-funding The label will be amplified by big media, and come strait from the horses mouth, in DC. Corporate lobbyists and think tanks and then the media, even our local media. No amount of pleas from well written editorials can counter the extreme version of events, and distractions promoted by the corporations in control.

    Whether it is Global Environmental Collapse, our corrupt and broken healthcare system, or even the gun violence in schools, there is no tipping point where the real people speak up. They have been silenced. There is a corporate false narrative for every issue. A large number of democrats think the system is still working, or that goodness will prevail. They are unaware or in denial about how neo liberalism, has undermined every institution we used to trust. The local news media still presents a fairly tale, about “our voices.” It reinforces the obliviousness of our politicians.

    The Fourth Estate used to be the cornerstone of democracy, but look at it now. It is completely under corporate control. Too many people have given up, or are overwhelmed. The corporations poured a lot of money into this misinformation campaign, while the media always portrays them all in a positive light.

    Here in New Mexico, we witnessed first hand the years long drought, the forest fires, empty acequias, and unpredictable frosts. Our local paper misreported this to benefit oil and gas and the real estate, and tourism industries. Climate change in New Mexico has been or should have been terrifying. Over grazed range land is everywhere, most people don’t understand how that contribute to global warming, disease and environment degradation. The real estate developers don’t want people to know that breathing the dust in daily could cause disease.

    Our politicians are still cratering to the big money interests even as their constituents die, the media has been misreporting that too. They are incapable of even identifying any local issue, instead they turn to a corporate talking point, to describe the poverty and despair in their own districts. Many of them found easy to monetize it all.

    The people I know have been traumatized, government did not work for them. That was even before 2016, as our local politicians remained in denial and chose to side with the corporations, the developers, oil and gas, and the military industrial complex.

  5. Hi Paul and Roxanne. I remember, quite vividly, in about 1970, the EPA or some other socialist agency putting forth the edict that ‘if you are not part of the solution, you are the problem.’ Already, the logic was clear, if not precise, on many contextual levels.

    Many years of reading science fiction and science fantasy, by the great philosophical writers of the post-war age, plus the writings of geologists and paleontologists like Andrews and Eisley, let alone observations of Berry, Muir, Cousteau and Commoner, had re-focused my precocious brain toward logic, fact and reason.

    Like your son, I was stunned, overwhelmed, and basically crushed. I had forgotten my wonder of Nature, gleaned in my precocious youth, wandering the wilds of the watery prairies of Nebraska, the ‘land of braided waters.’ Those wanderings and readings had literally saved me from a most certain life of sociopathy and derision.

    But I had no where to go, and could see nothing to do. Enter Viet Nam. I was the product of the human malaise of NIMBY, not in my back yard. But I saw ‘the other’ backyard. Buddhist monks burning themselves in the streets. Public assassinations in the city square. Overt violence in Chicago and at Kent State. The empty existentialism of Hesse’s Siddhartha. The Brothers Karamasov, No Exit. I did not need to know what to do, just what not to do. The rest, as they say, is history.

    Today, at lunch, I was confronted by a man of my age, a staunch Trump advocate, as I was talking with someone else about the difficulties of most citizens living in this economy. Out of the blue, he ridiculed me for my concern for those in need. I asked him if he was a Trump supporter. Best president ever, he said. I responded, the POTUS in no more than a con man. His reply was that he was the best con man ever. Worthy of worship and obedience. I laughed at him, incredulous that he would admire a thief above all else.

    He then verbally assaulted me with several invectives, including a query about whether I was a member of that ‘dog shit’ organization PETA. I often wear the ball cap with those letters on the front, as I was today. I responded that I absolutely was, with all my heart, and what did he want to do about it. He swore at me again, and so I simply said that we should take it outside and I would deal with him as I saw fit. He went silent, paid up and left. The bartender thanked me and said he had often wished to say the same thing.

    Tell your son, death is in his backyard, and those of his friends. There is No Exit. There is only the fight, to the bitter end. Revolution or Extinction. Neither choice is pleasant, and one is final. If it were only humans, I would be pleased, having lived in a number of bodies for quite a number of lifetimes.

    But I also have lived as many other beings, noble, graceful, elegant, disciplined and wise. I will not betray those other lives and other selves that brought me to this time. Strategy is irrelevant without dignity.

    Talk is worthless; words are poison.

    Mick Nickel

  6. Predictions about the inevitability of human extinction becoming a reality is enough to shake one’s core of complacency and malaise, into igniting the powerful life-force within each of us, to do something. We can no longer sit in silence as we witness the continual degradation of our natural planetary resources, our wildlife, our rivers.

    We are at a critical, planetary crossroad, where NM grassroots organizations have a unique opportunity NOW to come together, as a united front, to share their brilliance and transformational ideas, by creating revolutionary action plans that will both attract our politicos to join forces and inspire our young people to overcome feelings of apathy and fear, to lead a movement for change.

    • We’ve been promoting the planning for Sept 20 and I’ve been at every meeting. Skipping my 50 high school reunion to be there. I’ll look at your link later today. Thanks, Tom.

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  8. I am reminded of this quote my mom sent to me from the Talmud “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. You are not obligated to complete the task, but neither are you permitted to abandon it.”

    We are not obligated to complete the task, but we are not permitted to abandon it either. As I see it, this is our responsibility as human beings who have been given the gift of life and breath. I do not know if we will be victorious over our own greed as a species, but I sure as hell don’t plan to abandon my daughter, and all the other innocent beautiful beings who share the earth with us in their hour of need.

    • This comment hit home and left me in tears. About to become a grampa….. For decades I’d had thoughts of that moment, that sense of passing the baton…..never had I thought I’d feel like I was passing a stick of dynamite instead of a baton. But you are so right, Saraswati, we have an obligation to do all we can to mitigate what is inherited.

  9. A further comment – while I agree with virtually all of everyone’s comments, I have a personal request – could people consciously try (at least briefly) to stop focusing on REVOLUTION (the wheel just turns, new people get on top, same dynamics) and consider instead that we need EVOLUTION – a transformation, rather than a destruction, of the earlier system. An evolving system to meet the future.

    Our system – WE – must evolve our brains, our societies, our rules and laws, and our systems at all scales, to address, not just attack, all of these issues, including climate change.
    I ask you to please keep your eyes and ears open for how much aggression, fighting/attacking/winning/beating language is framing not just our language, but our *thinking*.

    Evolve, support, transform – that is how nature and the world work. Let’s not take our frozen human concepts like ‘first, destroy everything, then rebuild’ – which enables the crashing of civilizations and pollutes a process that we can instead reframe, recast, and optimize into a delightful work/play framework to address our issues. There is no point in us going out or going down in depression – we can use even *this* time to deepen, appreciate, and evolve ourselves as we apply those lessons to the world.

    p.s. i am myself a martial artist/fghter so i have a hard time not thinking in terms of ‘attack’ defend, win, etc – but this has been the male way, the winner-take-all way, the thieving way as well, not just the ‘competiton’ way. Of course we must ‘fight’ those that seek to destroy us, but i ask for your help in coming up with other frames that do not call out our aggression, hatred, etc, but rather the understanding and wisdom we need to solve these problems!

    • Revolution does not mean to destroy, it means to turn, to change direction, to circle the energy out of its current path into a new and higher arc. As a martial artist, this concept of attacking a negative force is paramount. But only when attacked. I also practice self-defense, aikido. When attacked, the defensive strategy is to turn the negative force away from you or something else, use its energy to create an imbalance, and then ground that force into the Earth, until the negative energy is grounded into neutrality. If this is not evolutionary in terms of how humans have always dealt with aggression, I do not know what is. Now, practically speaking, violence is the last and least desired option, so the use of a balanced presence that still says ‘no’ to a hostile force has the strong potential to do what you have suggested.

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