CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa– Al Gore held up a T-shirt presented by a youth group from Indiana that said, “Ask me about my future.” The context can be political, even if the presenters intended the question be about the environment.
Gore joked about wearing the T-shirt in Iowa and what it might mean during the run up to the 2016 Iowa Caucuses. During the 28th training of climate activists for The Climate Reality Project, he made clear he was a “recovering politician” and had no plans to run for president again.
Why did Gore pick Cedar Rapids for his first North American training since 2013? Five reasons.
It is partly about influencing the presidential selection process related to Iowa’s first in the nation political caucuses. By training Iowa activists, he hopes to make the voices for climate action heard by candidates for president.
It’s about extreme weather events including the 2008 Iowa flooding and recovery. The conference used space that was under water during the flood and heard from Mayor Ron Corbett about what the city did to repair the damage of the flood.
It’s about bringing a focus on the impact of climate change on agricultural issues in the breadbasket of the world.
It’s about Iowa’s success in development of renewable sources of electricity, wind energy in particular, but solar as well.
It’s about advocating for world governments, including the U.S. government, to make meaningful commitments to climate action at the United Nations 21st conference of the parties in Paris, France this December.
There was a lot to discuss and Gore was generous with his time, speaking multiple times each day of the conference. The significance of its 350 attendees from around the world, 75 of whom were from Iowa, is hard to miss. The movement for meaningful governmental action to mitigate the causes of global warming and related climate change is gaining momentum worldwide.
Here are some takeaways from the conference:
The people at my table, and attendees generally, are already doing a lot to raise awareness of the need for climate action. They are possessed of a high level of energy and are really smart people devoted to taking climate action.
The price of solar electricity is plummeting and installation of photovoltaic arrays is growing exponentially. In some parts of the world solar reached grid parity, and this, coupled with other sources of renewable energy, will drive the end of the era of fossil fuels.
The Iowa Soybean Association had a seat at the table, which a few years ago would not have happened. Christopher Jones, an environmental specialist for the association, said they had begun to change their thinking about global warming during the last year. If this is borne out by their actions, it would be a tidal shift for the big agricultural organizations.
Gore added information about Iowa to his already encyclopedic knowledge of global warming and related climate change. He spoke about everything from extreme floods and droughts that have hit Iowa, solutions implemented here—particularly wind and solar electricity generation, and current political issues, including the eminent domain legislation working its way through the last days of this Iowa legislative session.
A member of Citizen’s Climate Lobby asked Gore why he hasn’t endorsed the fee and dividend scheme they propose. Gore responded he favors putting a price on carbon, there are multiple mechanisms to do so, and he hasn’t finished research to determine which one(s) to endorse.
The political will to take climate action is building worldwide. The election this week of Rachel Notley as provincial premier in Alberta, Canada, where the long ruling Progressive Conservative party was ousted by her New Democratic Party is a prime example. “During the campaign, Notley promised to withdraw provincial support for the (Keystone XL pipeline) project, raise corporate taxes and also potentially to raise royalties on a regional oil industry already reeling from the collapse in world prices,” according to the Guardian.
Finally, there is hope. The solutions to the climate crisis are working. Renewable energy is beginning to take off, gain broader acceptance, and reach toward grid parity. Almost no new coal-fired electricity generating stations are planned for North America and old ones are being shuttered. We are not there yet, but Gore’s training and inspiration made the journey easier for us, and encouraged us to tell our own story about why it is important to take climate action before it is too late.
There is no planet B.
“We couldn’t even evacuate New Orleans as hurricane Katrina approached,” Gore said.
Earth is our only home, and is hanging in the balance. It’s up to us to protect it.
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa– On the first day of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps training founder Al Gore gave his slide show, an updated version of the one used in the film An Inconvenient Truth. It’s the third time I’ve seen him perform in person, and there were differences in emphasis, but the big message of day one came from the panel on renewables and policy.
“Go solar,” said Warren McKenna, president of Farmers Electric Cooperative, Kalona.
In significant ways, these two words sum up what’s needed to meet world energy needs, replace fossil fuels, and move civilization toward sustainability.
In an hour, sun shining on Earth provides enough energy to meet our collective needs for a year. Whether we realize it or not, fossil fuels represent ancient sunlight stored for millennia in the ground. According to multiple speakers yesterday, most of proven reserves of fossil fuels cannot be burned if we seek to retain Earth’s livability.
What makes solar an attractive solution to the climate crisis is the cost of installation is plummeting. At the point solar electricity generation reaches grid parity it will be an easy financial argument to make that fossil fuels should stay in the ground in favor of the less expensive alternative.
Companies such as Berkshire Hathaway Energy (BHE) already like solar, wind and other renewable energy generating capacity.
BHE accounts for six percent of U.S. wind electricity generating capacity and seven percent of solar according to Warren Buffet’s 2014 letter to shareholders.
“When BHE completes certain renewables projects that are underway, the company’s renewables portfolio will have cost $15 billion,” Buffet wrote. “In addition, we have conventional projects in the works that will also cost many billions. We relish making such commitments as long as they promise reasonable returns–and, on that front, we put a large amount of trust in future regulation.”
Solar is not without it’s problems. Natural resources must be exploited to make photo-voltaic panels, and the issue of conflict minerals continuously gets pushed aside. There are manufacturing, labor and transportation issues with solar. Problems notwithstanding, the argument for solar boils down to do we want a future, or not?
What we know is dumping 110 million tons of CO2 pollution into the atmosphere every day is not sustainable, and already we are seeing the impact of global warming and related climate change damage the lives of tens of millions of people.
There are no simple answers to solving the climate crisis. As industry demonstrates the viability of renewable energy, the only thing holding us back is a lack of political will to take unavoidable steps to mitigate the causes of global warming.
The economic argument provided by declining solar electricity generating costs will be a potent weapon in the political fight.
The group is kicking off its North American advocacy effort for firm and substantial governmental commitments to climate action at the 21st United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP-21) to be held in Paris, France on Dec. 11., said Mario Molina, director of the 7,500-member international group of climate activists. Additional trainings are being held this year in Florida and Toronto, Canada to jump-start the effort with 1,000 newly trained climate leaders in advance of COP-21.
They are also here because of Iowa’s first in the nation political caucuses to make sure the need for climate action is heard by the field of presidential hopefuls traversing the state.
On Monday, May 4, State Senator Rob Hogg, a speaker at the training, pointed out in an email that three presidential candidates will be visiting Cedar Rapids this week. He encouraged readers to question the candidates about climate change.
“This gives us an opportunity to tell the candidates that Iowans are concerned about climate change and perhaps even ask the candidates questions about climate change,” Hogg said.
He provided a schedule and possible questions for the candidates.
Tuesday, May 5, 4:30 p.m. – Candidate Ben Carson of Florida (formerly of Maryland and Michigan) will be speaking at the Cedar Rapids Marriott, 1200 Collins Road NE, on Tuesday, May 5, at 4:30 p.m. He will be joined by Congressman Rod Blum. This is a chance to speak with Congressman Blum as well as Carson.
Thursday, May 7, 7:30 a.m. – Candidate Carly Fiorina of California is scheduled to speak Thursday, May 7, from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. at the Blue Strawberry, 118 2nd St. SE, in downtown Cedar Rapids.
Thursday, May 7, noon – Candidate Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, is scheduled to speak at the Pizza Ranch, 2450 Westdale Dr., in southwest Cedar Rapids, on Thursday, May 7, at noon.
Hogg suggested these questions for the three Republicans:
Did you agree with President Reagan’s decision to sign the Montreal Protocol on stratospheric ozone depletion, and if so, would you support similar international agreements to fight climate change?
Are you concerned about climate-related disasters like record flooding in Iowa, record drought in California, and sea level rise, and if so, what would you do about it?
Climate Reality Project founder and former Vice President Al Gore is expected to be present for the three days of training. Part of the training is related to his slideshow about the science and human impact of climate change, an updated version of the one used in the movie An Inconvenient Truth. He is also expected to meet with key political figures regarding the need for climate action while in Iowa.
About 75 of the training attendees are Iowans, so there is hope the need for climate action can be kept in front of politicians during the 2016 election cycle.
To learn more, visit ClimateRealityProject.org.
Dear Friends –
I spoke with State Rep. Bobby Kaufmann today on my talk show and he announced big news on the Eminent Domain Bill:
Tomorrow, Tuesday, April 28th at 12:00 noon in Room 22 of the Iowa State Capitol, a joint House-Senate sub-committee will meet to debate and possibly vote on SSB 1276!
There are three things you can do:
1. COME!! Sub-committee meetings provide one of the few opportunities for average Iowans to speak on and influence legislation directly. I will be there and would love to have a slew of pipeline fighters join me.
2. Share this message and the Facebook Event invite with as many people as possible.
3. Write or call sub-committee members. If you write, carbon copy your own Representative and Senator. To figure out who your Representative and Senator are, and get contact information for them, click Find Your Legislator.
Sub-committee members are:
– Senator Rob Hogg – firstname.lastname@example.org or (515) 281-3371
– Senator Julian Garrett – email@example.com or (515) 281-3371
– Senator Brian Schoenjahn – firstname.lastname@example.org or (515) 281-3371
– Representative Bobby Kaufmann – email@example.com or (515) 281-3221
– Representative Greg Heartsill – firstname.lastname@example.org or (515) 281-3221
– Representative Mary Wolfe – email@example.com or (515) 281-3221
My take is this: The bill needs to be simple and straightforward. All we are saying is that a private, for-profit business that does not provide a public service to Iowans should not be granted the power of eminent domain. My concern is that there is pressure from Big Oil’s friends at the Statehouse to craft a compromise that will weaken this core position.
The bottom line is this: We want the strongest possible bill to come out of sub-committee, as it becomes more difficult to strengthen it later.
Thank you! This is a pivotal moment, and I hope you can take a little time today and tomorrow morning to do what you can. And if at all possible, come to the State Capitol tomorrow (Tuesday) at 12:00 noon!
We want to get our apology in now. We won’t be around a lot longer and it looks like the one thing we had hoped to give you when you reached adulthood was a world that was at least trying to get a grip on its problems so that humans could share the one planet we have in a way that all could survive. If things continue the direction they are going, we will have failed miserably and left your generation in the worst shape of any that inherited the earth.
For the past 35 years the greedy have ruled the planet with money and their own interests in mind. For the most part that meant that they exploited most everything they could. They exploited raw materials around the world where they sowed the seeds of hate and injustice and eventual war in pursuit of that exploitation. They exploited human labor to the very depths they could and bought off government and officials so they would look the other way when they went even lower than was legal.
They exploited the American constitution so they could essentially run the government. Laws were written such that they could exploit American workers and our environment. They used their money and power to influence elections through gerrymandering, through disenfranchising certain segments of voters and also to confuse and intimidate voters. When their candidates were elected they went about the business of changing laws to keep them in power and filling the judiciary with their lackeys so that their view would almost always win in courts.
They exploited and owned the media to its fullest extent. Finding any alternative news source after the presidency of Ronald Reagan was much like looking for Sasquatch. Rumors were that such things existed, but were seldom spotted. We have been given a steady stream of information that tells us that whatever is good for the rich is good for us. This media has led us cheering into war after war. They have led us to believe that the US committing terrorism by drones within foreign countries is good. They have created fear among citizens to the point where we armed ourselves to the teeth ready to shoot strangers at the drop of a hand. And for every drone, every weapon of war, every gun and bullet that was sold the greedy got richer and our society got poorer.
They exploited fear not only of strangers but of an unseen and unprovable entity called a god. They used this god to extract unquestioning loyalty for fear that the exploited would meet some fearful eternity. Using the fear to create a people scared of their own shadows and afraid to question whatever the greedy did.
When people were full of fear and filled with so much misinformation that reality seemed like a fantasy to those people, the greedy then went about destroying the environment that allowed human life to occur on this one lonely planet that we know of. The air became nearly impossible to breath, the water so filthy it could barely be cleaned any more. The temperatures soared and rivers and aquifers dried up in one spot while floods raged in others driving people from their land and eventually covering coastal areas. Food became scarce for many even while food resources were used to feed animals for consumption by the greedy who had money and power.
Your grandmother and I tried to work in the systems of democracy to stop what was going on. Sadly, our letters to people in power, our marching, our phone calls were easily drowned out by the money on influence of the greedy. We were frustrated, but carried on believing that what was best for all would eventually win out. Slowly we learned that a few greedy people with money and power can easily get their way through access, confusion and fear.
And so you inherit a world that is broken. A world where food and clean water are like gold was to many of us. You inherit a world where fear that has been ground into people is one of the driving forces. You inherit a world full of religious prejudice and fear. You inherit a world that is so warm it is nearly impossible to lived in. We are deeply sorry.
We believed that given choices that most people would choose what was best for the greatest number. We were very wrong. We learned that most people will follow what seems to be the crowd, even if it is an artificially produced crowd. Maybe your generation will respond to the crisis we dropped on you, but I fear forces of greed will stop any progress in your time also.
But we will not stop fighting. Mankind is worth fighting for.
by Ed Flaherty
This week we celebrate Earth Day. It is a day to bring into the active areas of our brains the innate understanding that we have only one Mother Earth to live on, and that she needs our care badly.
We can each help in our own individual ways. We can bike, recycle, eat healthy, garden, plant trees, reduce our carbon imprint, etc. But how can we reconcile our own important but small efforts with our blindness to the fact that most of the discretionary budget of the U.S. federal government is devoted to the military? The U.S. military is the largest consumer of fossil fuels in the world. It emits more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than any other organization in the world.
Forget for a moment the disastrous environmental effects of war itself. Forget for a moment the erosion of moral and civil values as we accept the idea of perpetual war.
Ask yourself one question. Why devote most of our discretionary budget to fund the organization that is doing more than any other to destroy the security of the planet? Our splendid democracy should be capable of allocating our resources to efforts to secure our environment, and should be able to induce the Pentagon to adjust its mission to one of helping, not destroying, our only home.
What’s true is there are a lot of posts, articles, books and periodicals that discuss global warming and climate change on the Internet. There will be more along the road to COP-21 in Paris this December. What’s more true is a lot of it is bullshit.
Blog for Iowa recommends the handy climate change BS guide, “How to Tell if the Article About Climate You are Reading is B.S., in Four Easy Steps,” an article on ClimateProgress by Joe Romm.
Romm delineates these four steps:
Skip climate articles by people who think the problem is hopeless or intractable — because it most certainly is not.
Skip articles written by George Will and his ilk.
Skip articles—especially longer climate essays—by authors who don’t explicitly tell you what temperature target or CO2 concentration target they embrace and how they’d go about attaining it.
Skip articles embracing Orwellian terms like “good Anthropocene.”
Check out the entire article here.
Ed Fallon Invites All Iowans to Join Him At Grassroots Speak Out
Former State Rep. Ed Fallon will complete his 400-mile anti-pipeline walk across 18 counties on Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22, and he invites all Iowans opposed to the Bakken oil pipeline to join him at the State Capitol at 5:00 p.m. for a special Earth Day Rally to Stop the Pipeline.
Who: Everyday Iowans
What: Earth Day Rally to Stop the Pipeline
Where: People’s Park at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines, west Capitol lawn, East 7th and Locust St.
When: Wednesday, April 22, 5:00 p.m.
Why: To stop the Bakken oil pipeline and save the planet
From the newsletter of Senator Rob Hogg:
Monday, April 20 – This is the deadline to apply if you would like to attend the Climate Reality training in Cedar Rapids May 5 to 7 with former Vice President Al Gore (see below). This is a unique opportunity for Iowans to learn more about climate change and get more involved in the effort to achieve a sustainable future. For details, or to apply, visit www.climaterealitytraining.org/iowa/.
Wednesday, April 22, 7:00 p.m. – Mt. Mercy University will host David Thoreson, an Arctic sailor and explorer who lives in Iowa, as the Earth Day Speaker at the Betty Cherry Heritage Hall. Although I will not be able to attend due to legislative commitments in Des Moines, I have seen David speak and highly recommend this event.
Saturday, April 25, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. – EcoFest returns to New Bohemia [Cedar Rapids] with an eco-fair, live music, an owl and a hawk from the Raptor Center, tours of Mt. Trashmore, and many other activities. For more details, visit http://www.ecofestcr.org/.
Tuesday, May 5 to Thursday, May 7 – As indicated above, Vice President Gore will bring his Climate Reality training to Cedar Rapids. This training is one of four he will conduct this year, with other trainings in New Delhi, India; Toronto, Canada; and Miami, Florida. You must apply to attend by Monday, April 20 (see above).
An eminent domain bill is emerging in the Iowa legislature. If it becomes law, it would impact both the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Rock Island Clean Line which share the issue of being merchant distribution lines for oil and gas, and electricity respectively.
Whether an eminent domain bill would be sent to the governor is an open question. The Iowa legislature is stymied over K-12 school funding, and the overall budget. Last weekend’s discussion was whether or not to send legislators home while a committee ironed out details.
“I think that’s unwise,” said Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal in an Associated Press interview. “I think everybody’s voice needs to be heard. I think everybody should stay and work. I think it’s time to knuckle down and get to work.”
The legislature is required by statute to finish the budget before adjournment, so April and likely part of May will be a slow grind toward compliance. At this point, the parties can’t agree on a revenue number or on how to spend it. There appears to be time to work on an eminent domain bill while the budget is finalized.
Last Thursday, Ed Fallon completed his walk across Iowa along the route of the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline. In his daily report from the project, Fallon wrote, “eminent domain legislation is coming this week! I was in touch this weekend with two key lawmakers who assured me that, before week’s end, we’ll have companion bills with bipartisan support in both House and Senate. This is very encouraging. Stay tuned.”
The two lawmakers are State Senator Rob Hogg and Representative Bobby Kaufmann, who chair the government oversight committee in their respective chambers. I confirmed the bills were sent to drafters with Kaufmann in a telephone conversation last night. Government oversight is exempt from the funnels that limit introduction of new legislation during session.
On April 10, the Iowa Supreme Court issued a 23-page ruling on Clarke County Reservoir Commission v. Edwin D. and Deloris A. Robins Revokable Trust, in which Justice Thomas Waterman wrote for the majority, “we strictly construe statutes delegating the power of eminent domain and note the absence of a clear legislative authorization for a joint public-private entity to condemn private property.”
Both the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Rock Island Clean Line are such public-private partnerships, so this court decision has ramifications for the projects. Notably, as Fallon described during his pipeline walk, many land owners along the route oppose the pipeline and eminent domain would have to be used to gain an easement. The legislation proposed by Hogg and Kaufmann includes definition of “merchant projects” and “public use,” which if enacted into law could effectively end both projects in their present form.
In Kelo v. City of New London, the U.S. Supreme Court found that projects initiated by private developers could use eminent domain as a tool, finding that “economic development did not violate the public use clauses of the state and federal constitutions.” However, as Kaufmann noted last night, if states have a stricter interpretation of eminent domain and the takings clause of the U.S. Constitution, such state laws would take precedence under Kelo. An intent of the proposed legislation is to create stricter interpretations of public use when used in the context of eminent domain, and to separate eminent domain uses for merchant projects from those of regulated utilities.
An eminent domain bill is emerging. With legislators divided over the Rock Island Clean Line and the Dakota Access Pipeline, and over eminent domain abuses in the state, there appears to be enough support to advance the bill.
For parties interested in eminent domain and in both projects, this will be one to watch.
On Tuesday more than 400 people joined a webinar titled, “Change Starts with You: Becoming a Climate Reality Leader,” hosted by the Climate Reality Project in advance of the May 5-7 training in Cedar Rapids.
The Climate Reality Leadership Corps already has more than 7,000 members from 125 countries since its beginning in 2006. It seeks to add another 3,000 in this year’s North American trainings in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Miami, Florida, and Toronto, Ontario.
Attendees are expected to travel to Iowa from around the globe to be a part of the Climate Reality Project.
“Solving the climate crisis is within our grasp,” said Al Gore, founder and chairman, The Climate Reality Project. “We need people like you to stand up and act.”
I’m following up today from The Climate Reality Project. We are an organization started by former vice president Al Gore and focused on creating a global movement to influence action on the climate crisis. We have an upcoming training opportunity that I believe you and members of your organization will be interested in.
On May 5-7 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, we and Mr. Gore will be hosting a training for new Climate Reality Leaders to help grow the movement. As you well know, United States leadership is critical as we travel the Road to Paris in preparation for December’s COP21. There has never been a better time to engage people in the U.S. and around the world on solutions to one of the world’s most important issues.
The training in Iowa will highlight the U.S.’s important and unique role in the COP21 negotiations, climate impacts on agriculture in Iowa, and Iowa’s ability to be a leader in renewable energy sources such as wind.
Applicants are accepted on a rolling basis with the applications due no later than April 13.
To apply, please visit: http://www.climaterealitytraining.org/iowa/apply.php
Please contact me with any questions or more information. I hope you and your colleagues will want to join the network of over 7,000 Climate Reality Leaders from 125 countries taking action on the climate crisis.
Thank you for your time!
Joseph Moran | Program Assistant-Climate Reality Leadership Corps