Tina Gerhardt

Last Saturday, August 3, a broad coalition of labor, indigenous, health and environmental justice groups marched to the Chevron refinery in Richmond, California, marking the one-year anniversary of the explosion and fire that sent smoke billowing into the air and 15,000 area residents to the hospital with respiratory problems. Nineteen refinery workers were lucky to escape the incident alive.

The California Nurses Association and Physicians for Social Responsibility, including many who treated those affected by last year's explosion, marched.

On June 25, a federal judge approved a subpoena, to be served by Chevron to Microsoft, granting the oil company private Internet and phone data related to 30 email addresses, including those related to environmental nonprofits, activists, journalists and lawyers.

This information forms part of a larger fishing expedition by Chevron to go after those who won an $18 billion judgment against the company in Ecuador in February 2011 for dumping 18.5 billion gallons of highly toxic waste into the streams and rivers in the rainforests of eastern Ecuador.

This afternoon, in a speech delivered at Georgetown University, President Obama laid out his executive plan to fight climate change.

Referencing his State of the Union promise to act on climate change, he said, "I pledged that America would respond to the growing threat of climate change, for the sake of our children and future generations."


President Obama's focus on climate change is a welcome, albeit belated, shift, but will he match words with action?

In his State of the Union address, President Obama brought renewed attention to climate change. He called out skeptics and urged action before it is too late:


The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is suffering backlash from its battle on a new front: renewable energy standards.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) have let their ALEC memberships expire, according to Greenwire (subscription required).

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.

This past week, the President Obama and Congress reached an agreement and ratified a new fiscal deal. What are its implications for environmental politics?

To see the downside, check out Andy Kroll at Mother Jones on the oil subsidies.

Hydraulic fracturing, known colloquially as fracking, is a contentious issue, and Hollywood has not overlooked it.

Promised Land, directed by Gus Van Sant and starring Matt Damon, takes on fracking, which involves blasting millions of gallons of water, sand, and chemicals into rock, often shale, in order to extract the oil and natural gas within the formations. Critics argue that the process wastes colossal amounts of water; contaminates air, soil, and drinking water; and may be implicated in causing earthquakes.

"We need to remember that the work of our time is bigger than climate change.

We need to be setting our sights higher and deeper.

What we're really talking about, if we're honest with ourselves,

is transforming everything about the way we live on this planet.

We don't always know exactly what it is that creates social change.

It takes everything from science all the way to faith,

and it's that fertile place right in the middle


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Helen Caldicott, a co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility, calls this “one of the most frightening books...


This time we’ve got some advantages.

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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