Last Friday, the League of Women Voters in Hawaii sent Obama back to D.C. on his last day of family vacation in his native Hawaii with a reminder that his action or inaction on addressing climate change will have a great impact on the island's future. The group ran a full-page ad in the local Honolulu Star Advertiser, urging him to take action to address climate change, especially to use existing executive authority under the Clean Air Act, to reduce emissions.

On Monday, a broad coalition of over 70 environmental, civil, health and labor groups signed and sent an open letter to President Obama, demanding he take action on climate change during his second term in office.

They referenced his September 7, 2012, speech in Chicago, when on the campaign trail, when Obama stated, "climate change is not a hoax. More drought and floods and hurricanes are not a joke. They're a threat to our children's future. And we can do something about it."

Discussing the letter, Frances Beinecke, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council, wrote: "When I first started working on climate change a decade ago, we spoke in terms of distant forecasts and long-range impacts. Now we simply look out the window to see what climate change can do to our communities ... We no longer have the luxury of time. We must act now to prevent more Americans from feeling the pain of los jobs, destroyed homes and shuttered businesses."

The groups demanded that President Obama take three steps to curb carbon pollution:

1. Raise his voice. Elevate the issue of climate change and solutions in the public discourse by connecting the dots between carbon pollution and extreme weather;

2. Use his executive authority, in particular, by using the EPA's existing authority under the Clean Air Act to reduce emissions from power plants;

3. Reject dirty fossil fuels, especially when climate science tells us that 80% of the existing fossil fuels need to be kept in the ground.

These steps, the groups delineated, can be taken without the vote of the divided Congress. The groups urged that climate change be put at the "top tier" of his agenda.

In particular the groups stated that the "Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is not in our national interest because it would unlock vast amounts of additional carbon that we can't afford to burn."

Environmental groups are awaiting the final decision on the Keystone Pipeline from the State Department. (The decision lies with the State Department since the project crosses the national border into Canada.) With the nomination of Senator John Kerry as Secretary of State to replace Hillary Clinton, some green groups are optimistic about the administration's commitment to climate change.

In an interview with The Progressive, Bill McKibben, Executive Director of, said, "The first thing President Obama should do is block the Keystone Pipeline. If he does, he'll have a big army of environmentalists ready to help him move forward on other fronts." and the Sierra Club are calling for a national day of action on President's Day weekend to urge President Obama to address climate change. (Day of action: Sunday, February 17; President's Day is Monday, February 18, 2013.) For more information:

Tina Gerhardt is an independent journalist and academic who covers energy policy, climate negotiations and related direct actions. Her work has appeared in Alternet, Grist, The Nation, The Progressive and the Washington Monthly, as well as Business Green, Climate Progress and TreeHugger.

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Forty years ago the UN General Assembly passed a resolution against "hostile environmental modification techniques...

The beauty and the tragedy of everyday life in a war zone.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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