Monday, September 21, 2009

The Yes Men Have Done it Again!

As ~1,000 "Earthlings" participated in Oxfam's Human Countdown event yesterday (guided by "tcktcktck" sounds being made by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan), the New York Post was getting ready to release an entire issue on climate change.

Or was it? This morning, The Yes Men and 2,000 volunteers distributed a New York Post look-alike newspaper about climate change entitled "We're Screwed". The paper contains all true facts - except for one: that released a report about climate change. Actually, all the facts in this report are true, too - but didn't write the it. The Yes Men wrote both the New York Post and the pdf report. They're geniuses!

This type of stunt isn't new to The Yes Men. In fact, they've pulled similar stunts on big corporations many times before - and lived to tell about it. You may have seen or heard about their previous move called The Yes Men, but they've recently made a new movie, called The Yes Men Fix the World. Its US release date is October 7. I encourage you to go see it - it's thought-provoking and hilarious! (I saw a pre-screening of it.)

All of this is part of a giant campaign to raise awareness about climate change, occurring in hundreds of cities across the globe from Sept. 20-26, 2009. You can see Climate Week NYC events here.

More about the Human Countdown:
In the Human Countdown, we formed a gigantic Earth inside an hourglass and fell through it like grains of sand, to tell President Obama and the UN that time is running out for us to save our precious Earth from catastrophic climate change. The people in green who represented the land funneled down to form the words "tck tck tck" while those of us in blue (the ocean) became panels on the sides in the bottom of the hourglass. At the end of the 1 min. 11 sec. video made exclusively for this event, we all became clocks counting down from 12:07 to 12:18, to represent the climate change talks in Copenhagen that will occur from December 7 through 18, 2009.

Here's a video by the producers of the Human Countdown describing the purpose of the event.

Here's a cut version of the filming, with interviews

Here's a photo of what it looked like from above.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Be part of history: Stand up for the principles of No Impact Man, and join the Human Countdown!

On Sunday, September 20, 2009, thousands of people will gather in Central Park to make a statement about climate change. The Human Countdown, as it is called, is a campaign being run by Oxfam America in collaboration with tck tck tck as a way to wake up humanity to the devastating effects that climate change is having on the world. In particular, climate change is seriously hurting many people in developing countries (even though developed countries such as the US do most of the damaging). From raising awareness, to on-the-ground fieldwork, to lobbying Congress for increased funding, international adaptation to climate change is one of the main issues Oxfam has decided to focus on. This means that "the US must invest now in adaptation projects, like elevated flood-proof houses and drought-resistant seeds, to help women and families build their resilience to these new and heightened risks." In case you don't know anything about Oxfam - Oxfam America is a part of Oxfam International, which is a "confederation of 13 like-minded organizations working together, and with partners and allies around the world, to bring about lasting change" and combat poverty and injustice. There is a climate change bill being worked on in Congress, and you can bet that Oxfam America is right there doing its lobbying. The US House of Representatives already has its version of the climate change bill written - which has some positive aspects - but we want the Senate to up it a notch when it comes to creating their version of the bill. Oxfam America and its partners are currently working to try and convince the Senate to include these goals in their version:
  • the House bill (HR 2454) has 1% of money allotted for international adaptation funding; we are asking for the Senate bill to include 3%.
  • 1% in HR 2454 is dedicated to Clean Tech Transfer; we want the Senate bill to dedicate 2%.
  • We are also asking for the amounts of money for deforestation prevention (5%), domestic adaptation (1%), and CO2 reductions (17% by 2020 and 83% by 2050) to be maintained in the Senate bill.
This may not seem like a lot of money, but in the scheme of things they are reasonable "asks" - not so much that Congress will just laugh at us. So, tell your Senators you want to see these provisions in the climate change bill. And tell them to become a Sisters on the Planet Ambassador. Because once women like Shorbanu know that the devastation they are facing is man-made, they want us to do something about it.

To learn more about the NYC volunteer arm of Oxfam America and sign up, go to the Oxfam Action Corps NYC blog. (or find an Oxfam Action Corps in your city). Or if you're still in school, start an Oxfam America Club.

To participate in the Human Countdown, sign up here. You can also see the event on Facebook. And if you have access to bell-ringing in a church or other facility, ask for the bells to be rung on September 21 at 12:18 p.m. And if you're around NYC the morning of September 21, join The Yes Men for a stunt they plan on pulling. It's critical that we wake up the world to the effects of climate change, because already, results from the G-20 summit have not been satisfactory. Let's hope they are more satisfactory at the G-20 summit in Pittsburg September 24-25, 2009. It's a shame the United States never signed the Kyoto protocol; let's at least assure we contribute in substantial manner to the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen Dec. 7-18, 2009.

We can make a big difference on an international scale when it comes to climate change by lobbying politicians to make changes that affect everyone. But we can also make an impact by decreasing our own individual carbon footprints. One family that has realized the importance of (and benefits of) decreasing their carbon footprint is the Beavans. Colin Beavan, aka "No Impact Man," spent a year of his life undergoing an experiment making as small an environmental impact as humanly possible while still living in mainstream society. Colin wrote a book about his experience and made a movie about it (using low impact filmmaking, of course) called No Impact Man. He successfully recruited his wife and daughter for the experiment and made it a family event, which will prove to make for an entertaining movie, I'm sure! I've only seen the trailer so far but essentially, they learned to eat locally grown food which helped him lose 20 pounds without going to the gym once and reversed his wife's pre-diabetic condition, did not use transportation that requires fossil fuels, and stopped using electricity (and therefore television), which helped strengthen family ties. It looks like a really good movie, and Colin Beavan is making an entire campaign around it, called the No Impact Project. I encourage everyone to check it out & see the movie, spread the word, and then apply as many principles to your own life as possible! I get upset when I see things in individually wrapped plastic, too.

Oh yeah and don't forget to contribute to Oxfam's international climate change awareness campaign by going out to Central Park next Sunday for the Human Countdown (that is, if you're already in the area! We wouldn't want you taking a plane to get here and waste all that fossil fuel in the process, now would we?).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Obama's speech - guest post by Abe Young

Hey folks,

Here's a guest post by my friend Abe regarding Obama's speech last night. You can check out his blog here.

Obama did a good job in his speech making clear why we--as individuals & as a country--must succeed on health reform now. But since most people already understood that urgent need... even more importantly, his speech succeeded in eliciting exactly what this reform means for 3 categories of people--which together include all Americans:

  1. people already w/ health insurance (majority),
  2. Americans without health insurance (~30 million folks), and
  3. (the following category overlaps onto category #1) those who currently pay the rising bills for the uninsured when they get sick.
Take a look at the speech yourself:
[jump ahead 5:00 min to skip the monotonous clapping]

As I was watched the speech together with a friend--and noticed that in one after another of Obama's statements, precisely 1/2 the chamber stood up and clapped, while the other 1/2 sat stoically across the aisle--she said, "OH that's why I hate politics!"

Agreed. It's as if these Representatives and Senators whom we all elected to act as leaders during this crucial time can't even think with their own brains once in awhile, instead they stick to "party lines" as if those lines were the only hardwired neuronal pathways they owned in their cortex.

Here is 1 suggestion I have to every single person in the health care profession, including myself as a student. The simple fact of our profession not only gives us & those we will serve a bigger stake, personally, in the outcome of health reform; but it also truly bestows upon us an added credence when we have something to say (I've seen the special attention paid by politicians to a doctor or nurse at a phone banking or rally for health care; also, see the YouTube below of the ER doc in the audience at a recent town hall). And what we can say, what we all can absolutely agree upon--but this still is in danger, not because of merit but merely because of political games--is that WE STAND BY THE NEED TO PASS HEALTH REFORM NOW, THIS YEAR. (Click here if you are willing to make this simple statement to your representatives, it will convince hesitant politicians that the will is there, and it will only take you 1 minute)

Aside from the 1 Senator who wants to block health reform because "it will break" Obama, every single leader and expert of all persuasions knows that achieving health reform is crucial for America's health, economy, and sustainability in the very near future. We are on an exponential downward path if we keep our current system and don't act now. And this is another thing Obama got right in emphasizing tonight: that 80% of the components within Health Reform already has bipartisan support (and these include drastic positive reforms such as outlawing insurance companies from denying care based on "pre-existing conditions"--see the last 2 paragraphs of my letter on "Where'd all the fear come from?" below). However, this crucial national effort is still on the verge of being sabatoged by people like that shameless Senator who wants to "break" Obama by breaking health reform.

What I respect about some of Obama's big speeches to date is that he (or his speechwriter) gets the precision to tweak out at the exact point of confusion, of our paralysis, the truer narrative of what has really been happening on a national landscape (he did this in his "Reverend Wright/Race" speech, and he did this to some extent here on health reform): "I will not waste time with those who have made the calculation that it's better politics to kill this plan than improve it."

Agreed. Whatever your political persuasions, whichever your thoughts on the remaining 20% of health reform still in debate, or even if you don't have opinions on either, let's get ALL OF OUR political leaders to work on improving the health care plan and get it passed, rather than kill it.

Click here it'll take you 1 min.