Stop the Global Warming Train


I’m grateful this morning for the weather.  There’s been plenty of rain in the past few days.  The sun is out now, along with the clouds, and there’s a nice, cool breeze.  Mmmmm.  Lovely.

I’m grateful that we have weather at all.  I’m grateful for the exquisitely balanced climate system, which has evolved along with life as we know it over billions of years.  I’m also deeply concerned about the disruption of the climate system and the warming of the earth caused by ever-increasing emissions of greenhouse gases since the beginning of the Industrial Age.

This is no hoax, even though 240 members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted that it is.  How can they believe this?  To whom are they listening?  Not to the majority of scientists, for whom  the debate is over about the two key facts about climate change:  1) Global surface temperatures have increased in recent decades and 2) This trend is caused primarily by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases.  Go to The Consensus Project to find out more.

There is debate and skepticism among scientists about other issues related to climate change, such as climate sensitivity, projected rates of warming and other effects of continued greenhouse gas emissions, analysis of factors leading to short-term fluctuations (such as “flattening”) of the warming effect, what if any action should be taken (nuclear power, fracking, renewables, etc.)  After all, science is a skeptical discipline.  But there is a strong scientific consensus about the above key facts.

Still, the Global Warming Train continues to pick up speed, with CO2 emissions reaching 400 parts per million (ppm) this month.  Those who are driving the train, the policy makers (such as the House members), must not be listening primarily to scientists.  They must be listening to someone else.

In last night’s presentation on climate change, we looked at the controversy surrounding climate change.  For the most part it is a political and ideological controversy.  Climate change skeptics downplay, deny, or dismiss the key facts of global warming based on politics, economics, or ideology.  The popular media in the United States treats the key scientific facts as debatable.  The fossil fuels industry and their supporters, free-market think tanks (such as the Heartland Institute), and anti-science religious associations (such as the Cornwall Alliance) actively work to discredit the scientific consensus on global warming.  No wonder people are confused and feel powerless to take action.

This raises the question of who is actually driving the Global Warming Train.  Policy makers in government have special responsibility.  But when corporations write laws, create industry-funded “studies,” and dominate the media and the political process, they are also driving the train.  Furthermore, policy decisions are made in the context of the global system of unrestrained free-market capitalism, which is based on the values of greed and profit.  Those who are driving the train have a vested interest in keeping the current system in place.

Many people are already getting run over by the Global Warming Train, especially those who live in poor nations that are especially sensitive to climate change, along with poor people everywhere.  Some of us are passengers.  We pay our fare and help support the system by buying gas for our cars, heating our homes, taking airplanes.  Some of us may feel guilty for doing so.  Some of us try to live simply and reduce our carbon footprint, but still the train is accelerating.  What can we do?

Last night we began to answer that question by looking at what we could do as a society if it were politically possible.  Here are a few ideas:

  1. Stop subsidizing fossil fuels and invest in conservation and renewable energy.
  2. Stop subsidizing agribusiness and invest in supporting small organic farms.
  3. Stop using the U.S. military to preserve access to oil.
  4. Engage in good-faith negotiations toward an international treaty with binding limits of greenhouse gas emissions.
  5. Employ a progressive “fee and dividend” approach to lowering emissions.

What we can do and what we must do is change what is possible.  The rest of the presentation covered some of the things that people are doing to bring about positive systemic change.  “Another world is possible” has become the slogan of the global justice movement.

Humanity is captive, on a train towards irreversible, catastrophic climate change.  Those who are driving are debating about how fast we are going, what’s up ahead, what would happen if we slowed down, why we should (or should not) keep going.  They are making policy decisions that affect all of humanity, other species, and future generations.

Meanwhile the train is picking up speed.  We see the signposts as we go by:  350 ppm, 400 ppm.  At what point do we decide to take responsibility for ourselves and our fellow passengers?  At what point do we decide to stop the Global Warming Train?

A Call to Resist

Occupy Wall Street 053

Chris Hedges has again issued a call to conversion, a call to leave behind the moral inertia that the global system of corporate domination instills in its subjects, a call to rise up for the sake of life.  He says, “It is time to build radical mass movements that defy all formal centers of power and make concessions to none.” He goes so far as to say, “Resistance to tyranny saves our souls.”  Read the article here:  We, the Vast Underclass, Must Rise Up Against Global Mafia – or Die.

In this article, Hedges likens the global system of unrestrained free-market capitalism to the doomed ship Pequod in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.  He writes, “We are sailing on a maniacal voyage of self-destruction, and no one in a position of authority, even if he or she sees what lies ahead, is willing or able to stop it. Those on the Pequod who had a conscience, including Starbuck, did not have the courage to defy Ahab. The ship and its crew were doomed by habit, cowardice and hubris. Melville’s warning must become ours. Rise up or die.”

This is a call to conversion because Chris Hedges warns not only of the economic, social, and environmental results of corporate domination, but also of the spiritual effects:  “habit, cowardice and hubris.”  He also points a way forward:  “Rebel. Even if you fail, even if we all fail, we will have asserted against the corporate forces of exploitation and death our ultimate dignity as human beings. We will have defended what is sacred.”

I, too, issue this call in Shaking the Gates of Hell:  Faith-Led Resistance to Corporate Globalization.  In the excerpt below, “The Spiritual Effects of the Powers:  A Paralyzed Conscience,” I address the inner, spiritual effects of the Powers, the political, economic, and military institutions that make up the system of global capitalism, and I point to resistance as a way to respond as fully human beings:

“The negative external effects of the Powers at work in the world today are not too difficult to see: environmental destruction, growing inequity, violence, and so on. But the internal effects are what prevent most people from effectively engaging the Powers. These internal effects are apathy and moral confusion.

“At some level we all know that if we do not take responsibility, our children or grandchildren will have to deal with the consequences of our inaction. For instance, at some level everyone must know that society’s addiction to fossil fuels is unsustainable. But people feel powerless to stop, hopeless about significantly changing what seems to be the inevitable course of events.

“The demons of anxiety, apathy, denial, despair, rage, helplessness, and hopelessness are pervasive in our culture. They are the other side of the colorful media images of seemingly endless choices of products and entertainment opportunities. People try to lock out the reality that threatens the future, and the Powers are quite willing to help. In fact, that is what they require of human beings: to become less than fully human and to leave the Powers in control.

“How can we live humanly, enmeshed as we are in a global system that is creating misery, destroying life, and threatening the future? In times when social sin and institutional evil are pervasive, the only way to remain human is to resist.

“Resistance can take many forms. Resistance grounded in faith begins with spiritual struggle. In the words of Jim Douglass, from his book Resistance and Contemplation, ‘In solitude, in the depth of aloneness, lie the resources for resistance to injustice. Resistance arises first from a perception of suffering and from the assumption of one’s own responsibility to seek the transformation of a murderous system into a human society. . . . In the age of genocide, to be human is to resist.’”

Drone Warfare: There has to be a different way

Beale Protest

Yesterday I was interviewed  by Alan Stahler on KVMR about why I engaged in nonviolent direct action and was arrested at Beale last October.  (You can listen to the Podcast below.)  In the interview, Alan said, “Using drones must save American lives.  What’s your objection to them?”  My initial answer:  “It may be that using drones save American lives, but there has to be a different way.”

The U.S. Drone Warfare Program is flouting the rule of law, killing thousands, terrorizing whole communities, and making enemies.  There has to be a different way, a way that can lead to mutual concern and lasting security for people in the United States and in countries around the world.  There has to be a way that can lead to peace.

U.S. drones have killed thousands of people, mostly civilians, including hundreds of children.  Yes, our drones go after alleged terrorists.  We have kill lists, made up of individuals who have been approved by the president or the CIA for targeted killings.  But our drones do not only go after particular individuals.  The majority of U.S. drone attacks are “signature strikes”  based on looser criteria.  In some areas, any man of military age is considered a militant and a legitimate target.

Drone strikes often result in civilian casualties.  Hundreds of children have been killed.  Friends of mine who have traveled to regions under fire by drones describe an atmosphere of fear and terror, children having nightmares, people afraid to gather in groups, go to funerals, or send their children to school.   Whole communities are being terrorized.  We are not only causing great harm to people in the communities we target, but making enemies and creating a cycle of violence that may last for generations.

All of this is taking place outside of both U.S. and international law.   The United States is setting an example that other countries will surely follow.  Over 75 countries now have drones.  Some of these drones have weapons, others are surveillance drones, which can easily be weaponized.  The United States is leading the way toward a global drone arms race.

U.S. drone warfare is not making the world more secure, but more dangerous.  Those who are directing U.S. policy on drones are acting out of a vision of the future based on an endless War on Terror waged across borders, under cover by the CIA and Joint Special Forces, using whatever advanced technologies are available in an attempt to dominate the world.  Many of us reject this vision, and are working under the influence of faith in a higher vision, the vision of a peaceful, just, and sustainable world.

Drone warfare?  There has to be a different way.

Pocast of Alan Stahler’s interview with Sharon Delgado

For more information about the impact drone strikes are having upon communities, read the transcript of Farea Al-Muslimi’s testimony in the US Senate.  He claims that rather than fighting terrorism, US drone strikes in his country are fueling it.

Keep up with this court case and other issues by signing up to follow Sharon’s blog.

127 Years is Enough

MTA freeway

All of the issues that I write about are tied together and exacerbated by growing corporate power.  Huge transnational corporations now dominate nature, culture, political systems, and the rule-making institutions of the global economy.  As an antidote, I support the movement to Amend the Constitution to make it clear that corporations should not have constitutional rights.

Last Friday, May 10, Guari and I took a two-hour shift holding freeway banners over the Brunswick Road overpass in Grass Valley.   The signs said “Corporations are not people” and “Money is not speech.”

Our local Nevada County Move to Amend Coalition  created and displayed the banners throughout the day as part of a coordinated action with other Move to Amend affiliates around the country.   The theme of this action was “127 years is enough.”  Groups in over fifty communities displayed freeway banners to commemorate the Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific Railroad Supreme Court case, which was decided 127 years ago, on May 10, 1886.   In that case, corporations argued that they are protected under the 14th amendment, the amendment that was passed to ensure equal protection of African Americans after slavery was abolished.   Since ruling in favor of corporations in 1886, in case after case, the Supreme Court has expanded the constitutional rights of corporations, leading up to the Citizens United case in 2010.

The goal of the Move to Amend coalition is to raise awareness and build momentum toward passing a constitutional amendment to abolish corporate personhood and declare that money is not speech.

For background and a spiritual perspective on this issue, see my article, “Democracy is for People“.   You can also read a related analysis in “If It Doesn’t Breathe, It Doesn’t Deserve Free Speech,” an excerpt from my book, Shaking the Gates of Hell.

To stay informed, to take action, or to find an affiliate group near you, go to Move to Amend.  You can also check out Earth Justice Ministries “Projects and Campaigns” or Nevada County Move to Amend.

A Moment of Profound Choice

Another World is Possible

We are at the beginning of a new era in the earth’s history. Humanity has reached a crossroads, a moment of profound choice between two incompatible futures. One direction seems almost inevitable: the world’s dominant institutions and prevailing ideologies are driving at an ever-accelerating speed toward a market-based future dominated by corporations. The billboards along this multi-lane freeway advertise the benefits of where we are headed: toward a wonderland of accumulated wealth and general prosperity, technological achievement, economic and cultural integration, and peace through U.S. military domination. Most people are simply going along or being forced along for the ride. But increasing numbers of people around the world are choosing to get off the main road, to walk to the side and off the pavement to find another path, one that leads toward a global future of equity, justice, ecological and cultural diversity, and peace through mutual respect and cooperation. People are defending or changing their lifestyles, working within their communities, and creating alternative institutions. Some are even hiking back up to the main road and blocking it with their bodies, linking arms with others, trying to prevent the tragic consequences of a world given over to greed.

Who will decide which road will be taken? We will. We must. This is our right and our responsibility as human beings. We can refuse to take on the responsibility and allow the institutional Powers to make these decisions by default. Or we can exercise our freedom by refusing to collude, by resisting the Powers that would lead us to destruction, and by embodying life-giving alternatives here and now. This is a profound spiritual choice, since it involves shaking off spiritual domination by the Powers.

At this critical moment in earth’s history each of us is called to exercise our human freedom, to choose whether to go along the broad road that leads to destruction or the narrow path that leads to life. As we open ourselves to the Spirit, we create an opening through which change can happen in the world. As we choose, we are part of humanity’s choosing. We are a part of the earth’s passion for life.

This is an excerpt from the Introduction to Shaking the Gates of Hell:  Faith-led Resistance to Corporate Globalization by Sharon Delgado.  Order the book from your local bookstore, directly from Sharon, or from online distributors.