Stop Doing Harm

The Climate Summit is underway. The gathering is supposed to allow all countries equal footing to negotiate the perils of climate change. Once again the fossil fuel industry is driving the agenda to continue the abusive use of coal, gas and oil.  And once again governments, who are the greatest emitters of greenhouse gasses, are refusing to wind down.  Climate justice groups are given little space to talk about the need to stop harmful polluting, while fossil fuel industries set up elaborate booths to sell their products. It’s more than a conflict of interest; it’s death by greed.

The request for financial help to repair the damage caused by large polluters is being sidestepped. The request to “stop doing harm” is going unheard. 

The summit is called COP 27. That means for the past 27 years this spin has continued while our overuse of fossil fuels impacts the climate and adversely affects our health. 

So when I learned about our school district receiving grants and loans to do a makeover, I looked to see if there were plans to use renewable energy. There were none. The plans are for larger spaces that will require more energy. 

And energy costs are rising and will continue to. Taxpayers will foot the bill for the construction AND for the operational costs. That figure was left out the planning as well. 

The Inflation Reduction Act is ready and waiting for makeovers like this one. Switching to renewables in this moment makes total sense.

I can’t be at COP 27, but I can make my voice heard and I did. I will not be voting to approve the plans for the school makeover unless renewable energy is used. It’s time to stop doing harm. We can.

Photo from an article Misconceptions about solar energy

Thanks to Edward Kimmel via Wikipedia Commons for the image of the sign from the 2017 Climate March in Washington, DC. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0

Why do we keep allowing the fossil fuel industry to call the shots?

VANESSA NAKATE to Democracy Now: Well, apparently, we have more than 600 fossil fuel lobbyists at this COP, and yet so many communities and activists from the frontlines of the climate crisis weren’t able to make it here. There is a quote that I read recently that said, “If you’re going to discuss about malaria, do not invite the mosquitoes.” So, for me, it’s a worry that we have over 600 fossil fuel lobbyists in this place. It’s a worry for our future. It’s a worry for our planet. It’s a worry for the people.

“We Should All Be Water Protectors”*

Writing from a hotel after visiting the Welcoming Center in Palisade, Minnesota.

In the wake of destruction, the pandemic opened a door for us to walk into a new day.  Our consumption of fossil fuels is at an all time low. The need for extreme extraction is over. Good by KXL. The pipeline that would have sliced through the Ogallala aquifer is history. And DAPL will be next. The courts are getting ready to end the permits that should have never been granted and for the arrogance of a company that has ignored court orders and kept on pumping. 

This is the last gap of oil. 

And yet Enbridge continues with Line 3 – leaving the older corroded pipeline for us to clean up.  Investors are jumping ship facing the reality that renewables are a far safer alternative. And many of us are coming to the realization that less is more as we leave an abusive relationship with over – consumption behind.  

We have all noticed the pristine skies and the fresher air. And now it is time for the reckoning of corroded pipelines that pierce the land and waterways.  Now is time for everyone to be a water protector as Winona LaDuke reminds us.

So as a water protector what can you do? You can reduce consumption and divest from fossil fuels. You can write letters to Governor Walz, to congress and the new administration. You can support the needs of those on the front lines, as they stand in nonviolent resistance, to end something that should have never gone this far. 

And if you are able as we were to bear witness you can make the trip to 5 or 6 camps that dot the 300-mile pathway of destruction and bring your love, support and the supplies they need to carry on.

Let’s make this just transition for everyone.

*”We should all be water protectors.” – Winona LaDuke

Gut Check

Goldman Sachs has announced it will stop financing oil drilling in the Artic. They are reckoning with something that the United States government has yet to realize.  As the White House rushes to open bidding on 1.5 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Goldman Sachs is refusing to continue to support drilling in such delicate and important reserves.  They will also no longer support coal–fired power plants that do not have carbon emissions technology.

Now we know that Goldman Sachs is devoted to making money, so we can surmise that its stockholders are coming to the truth of this moment: There is no monetary gain in destroying the earth.

As a people we have been divided over the cause of climate change, but as we become witness to the devastation of fires, floods and unprecedented winds, we are acknowledging this: the costs to survive these calamities will continue to be much greater than the costs to mitigate them.

Capitalism is being moved by the bottom line of profit. But make no mistake; the efforts of young indigenous and non-indigenous youth to end the use of fossil fuels have hit their mark. They wisely recognize that profit can no longer lead the way. It must be common sense and respect for the earth and her people that will direct our course.

There is a debate that the personal choice to live free of fossil fuels is not as important as forging a change of laws. But I would argue this: it is those who have the conviction of personal conscience and love of the earth that are driving the changes in laws and perspectives.

The Rights of Nature and the Rights of Indigenous People must continue to take precedent. As human beings on this earth it is time.


Photo is of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge coastal plain, looking south toward the Brooks Range mountains. Compliments of Wikipedia Commons.

Our Mistake with Iran

It appears the king of frenetic energy has done it again. Pulling out of the nuclear “deal” with Iran, President Trump has sent allies and others into frenzy. They are trying to salvage the one step that had promised some semblance of peace to the troubled region. Everyone had admitted there were flaws in the accord – I try to refrain from using the word deal which is better left for car sales and snake oil – but with the US walking out of the efforts to correct the accord, the promise of peace is greatly diminished. When asked if this pull out has brought us closer to war, even right wing pundits admit, “Yes, it has”.

From what I can tell there are two ideologies leading the pack. One is the very old “might is right”. Certain that increased sanctions will force regime change; this out dated wisdom ignores the reality that the people of Iran had already moved toward a more reasoned and modern government. And now with the threat of severe sanctions again impeding their lives, Iranians question the wisdom of creating a new “deal”, which a new president could once again discard. Keep in mind; the Iranians had not broken the accord that President Obama had signed onto.

The second ideology is equally outdated. Our interest in the Mid-east is due to oil. Oil has us selling weapons to the Saudi’s to bomb Yemen. Oil has the world spinning to control Syria. Oil created the “shock and awe” of Iraq and make no mistake, oil is the incentive in destroying Iran.

While Israel, Pakistan and India’s nuclear weaponry sits unquestioned. And only the Saudi’s and Israel are celebrating this hawkish move to disavow the accord, one has to question the sanity of ‘might is right’ and the need for oil.

I once heard that if pigs knew their dung would be used for explosives, they would still be constipated.*

We need to look at our choices. We are implicitly to blame if once again our military or our weaponry are used for regime change. And it will be innocent blood again on our hands. Divest from oil. Call for diplomacy. Humanity is watching and the yet-to-be-born children of the world are begging.



This “Consider This” aired on WDRT, Thursday, May 10. You can catch Consider This every Thursday at about 5:28 pm CST. You can also hear it on Soundcloud.

*Through the decades, Prem Rawat has kept me thinking and has urged me to my humanity. This quip I remember from the 70’s.