Facebook friends of my pal Earth First!, Rainforest Action Network, and Climate Ground Zero Co-founder Mike Roselle have been commenting on the question, Does the climate movement have a leader.
The usual names pop up: Al Gore, Bill McKibben, and Dr. James Hansen. But I don’t see true leadership in any of them. Here are my comments to this question:
Leadership towards what? Al Gore was sent by Bill Clinton to Kyoto to successfully gut that treaty. Bill McKibben has been using the wrong number all along and is probably the worst environmental leader ever. If you are moving towards a cliff, the only thing that truly qualifies as leadership is directing people away from going over the cliff. None of those people mentioned are doing that.
Earth First! True leadership starts with answering the question, what does ecology say we must do? Well, you have to make sure that CO2 stays within the range of natural variability through which our ecosystems have evolved. Species develop tolerances only to conditions they have previously encountered.
For Pleistocene ecosystems, that range for the last 2.5 million years is 170-280 ppm (the chart above shows the last 800,000 years), although it did previously peak at 297 ppm once.
To go back 2.1 million years, please read, “Carbon Dioxide Higher Today Than Last 2.1 Million Years.”
So that means that nothing above 280 ppm is actually ecologically “safe.” Derrick Jensen agrees with me that we must aim for lower than that. I argue that to be the case because every time CO2 got to 280 ppm, it triggered a 100,000 year or so long glacial ice age, which you can see in the graph.
Bill McKibben used the idiotic mechanistic view that we could somehow control the thermostat of Earth and keep it from going above +2 degrees C above preindustrial levels if we got down to 350 ppm. Sorry, unpredictable negative and positive feedbacks preclude humans from being able to manage the entire planet’s average temperature that way.
So, since we are now at double the normal range (last month at 409 ppm), and 18 months ago the curve of CO2 increases started to bend more acutely further upward, it seems we may now be in a runaway greenhouse phase, and the methane-release shithouse is about to hit the fan.
So we need nothing short of a revolution to get off fossil fuels in ten years. In the USA, I’m the only candidate for office, or movement leader, who is calling for that. McKibben has advocated a capitalist reform path and as the central climate leader in the US, by controlling the framing of our movement all these years, he has pretty much doomed the planet–as has Al Gore–as a result.
I’m calling for 280 NOW! No one else is doing the math to come up with political policy. I’m starting an online TV show this week called Ecotopia or Extinction? Reform or Revolution? to explain this path.
So note the turn upward in mid 2015 in the black line of annual avg. CO2 levels. We’re now going up a couple PPM more each year than prior to that, which I think was about 4 ppm per year.
So the second question for leadership is, what kind of revolution must we organize? I argue that we must oust the plutocratic candidates–as many as we can manage–and in the USA get behind a trans-party New Green America agenda to decentralize ours–and the rest of the world’s–economies so that every community meets all of its food, clothing, shelter, transportation, etc. needs from as close to home as possible.
We ca redirect trillions of dollars each year from military and war on drugs budgets, and boost taxes on the rich to the Eisenhower rates of 94% (used to pay off World War II) and send it to local and state governments who decide how to design the reconstruction of their economies around the ecological and carbon dioxide budgetary limits of their bioregions. And of course we have to restore all of our native natural ecosystems to maximize their capacities as carbon sinks.
We also have to commence this year the decommissioning of all the world’s coastal nuclear power plants and toxic waste facilities since they are going to be inundated by the first five feet of sea level rise in about 25 years. In the US, our SAFESTOR decommissioning procedure takes 60 years.
We also have to finally decide what to do with all that nuclear waste so we can remove it from the coasts. So we’re pretty well screwed up if we pursue any path short of what I describe here.