“Everything needs to change, and it has to start today.”

Dear Friends,

Click here to join Climate Bird Dogs!

“Everything needs to change, and it has to start today.” Those are the words of 16-year-old Greta Thunberg of Sweden. If even 1 percent of the 8,500 people receiving this email watch Greta’s speech and embrace her call to “change everything,” we’d have another 85 people committed to tackling the climate crisis. What an impact that would have!

So please, invest eleven minutes and eleven seconds RIGHT NOW in this simple ask. Watch Greta’s TED talk. And if you’re as inspired as I was, share it personally with five others. Ask them to take action. Then take action yourself and help us move forward on the path toward climate sanity.

The first challenge is to stop talking about climate as if it’s an issue. It’s not an issue, it’s a crisis, and one that is already wrecking havoc. You would think our leaders would understand this. Yet of all the candidates running for president, not one has made climate change their top priority.

Case in point, watch Congressman John Delaney’s response to my question. Delaney is defensive, saying in so many words that climate change is just another issue. Yet he then outlines a commendable plan to address the crisis. The disconnect is confusing. If Delaney truly understands that climate is different than other challenges, why is it so hard for him and other candidates to take the next logical step and make it the centerpiece of their campaigns?

That’s a question that Greta Thunberg — and the thousands of young people around the world who have embraced School Strike for Climate  — would love to have answered. In Iowa, we have both an opportunity and an obligation to convince people who aspire to the presidency that they must prioritize climate change. Sure, they need to talk about issues like health care, education, money in politics, etc. Yet if climate change renders Earth uninhabitable for our species and most others (yes, that’s the direction we’re headed), issues won’t matter a hill of beans.

For the sake of our children, our grandchildren, and the many species threatened with extinction, let’s compel the candidates for president to prioritize climate. Perhaps then the mainstream media will stop ignoring climate change. Perhaps then other political, business and academic leaders will unite to speak up forcibly and demand immediate action.

Eighty-five people. One percent of those receiving this email. Tell me you’re in, that you’re ready to embrace Greta’s challenge to “change everything,” that you’re willing to join the 91 other Iowans who have already committed to being a Climate Bird Dog (sign up here). Let’s hold the presidential candidates’ feet to the fire, before we pass the small remaining window of opportunity to solve the climate crisis.

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Another win in the courts

Dear Friends,

Whew! Just when I was starting to fret about how we pipeline fighters were going to come up with $900 million, a federal judge swoops in and saves the day. Two years ago, Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) sued a whole bunch of pipeline opponents, seeking nearly a billion dollars in damages!

On Valentine’s Day (for what that’s worth), District Judge Billy Roy Wilson dismissed the lawsuit. This is a big deal and sends the message that big corporations with seemingly bottomless pockets shouldn’t use the justice system to trample on public dissent. Here’s a link to Bold Iowa’s press release.

Christine Sheller and Arlo blocking construction equipment at first BAT action on September 20, 2016.

It’s a testament to Iowa pipeline fighters that Bold Iowa was named in the lawsuit eighteen times, and my writings about Bold’s work were referenced three times. The lawsuit made specific reference to our Bold Action Teams: “Bold Iowa organized and trained ‘Bold Action Teams’ (‘BAT’) which consisted of teams of five people who mobilize repeatedly to prevent construction until the point that the BATs were threatened with arrests.”

Thank you, ETP, for verifying that our campaign to slow down construction was effective.

Bold Iowa didn’t spend any money fighting the lawsuit, though we did invest time and effort responding to the suit. While I hope the court’s message is strong enough to discourage these kind of corporate lawsuits in the future, I’m proud of all the landowners, Native leaders, environmentalists, and farmers who have pushed back — and continue to push back — against ETP during the past four years. Chalk this one as a small but important victory for pipeline opponents and the First Amendment.

Clearly, our movement had quite an impact on ETP’s bottom line. At the same time, any American who values freedom of speech and the right to assemble should find it chilling that a huge corporation can use its financial clout to try to silence dissent through the courts. To the court’s credit, it understood this, and ruled in our favor.

Let’s hope the Iowa Supreme Court also rules in favor of the public good on the landowner / Sierra Club lawsuit.

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Make climate the litmus test for presidential candidates

Dear Friends,

“It’s so easy to look at the big picture and get completely disheartened. … What we need to remember is what is my own personal moral obligation. When I wake up each day thinking about what I might do from that perspective … when I come at it from a deep sense of moral obligation, it really doesn’t matter what the results are. What matters is am I doing the right thing, and am I doing all I can right now at this time of crisis?”

That’s Dahr Jamail, author of The End of Ice, discussing climate change with Amy Goodman this week on Democracy Now. Much of their conversation is, frankly, depressing. When contemplating the irrefutable certainty of sea-level rise, species extinction, and other impacts of climate disruption, it’s easy to see how people might simply give up and wallow in despair.

Yet the moral path — and our path out of despair — is through action. Individual action is important. Collective action is essential. United, we are strong, and our prospects for achieving meaningful reform are greatly amplified.

Like Jamail, the question I frequently ask myself is, “What is the most important thing I can do right now to address climate disruption?” Sometimes, there’s no easy answer. In Iowa in 2019, the answer is obvious: BIRD-DOG PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES!

Sid Barfoot questions Marianne Williamson on her stance on the Green New Deal.

Over the next 12 months, Iowans have a unique opportunity to transform the national conversation on climate disruption. Seventy-five of you already have signed up to bird-dog presidential candidates and make climate change the topic that no longer can be ignored by politicians and the media.

Yet, there are so many candidates, and so many events all across Iowa, that even with 75 volunteers we can’t keep up. Bold Iowa and the other groups grilling presidential candidates on climate need your help!

WE’RE AT 75 CLIMATE BIRD DOGGERS. LET’S REACH 100 TODAY! SIGN UP HERE.

Already, we’ve had an impact. Our bird doggers have talked with and questioned candidates about the urgency of the climate crisis, the promise of the Green New Deal, and the impact of the Dakota Access Pipeline on Native communities, farmers, and our soil and water. Check out some of our candidate interactions:

Andrew Yang
Cory Booker
Elizabeth Warren
John Hickenlooper
Marianne Williamson
Michael Bloomberg
Sherrod Brown

Over the next two weeks, we’re preparing to bird-dog Eric Swalwell, John Delaney, Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, Kamala Harris, and John Hickenlooper. So, yeah, we need your help!

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is lead sponsor of the resolution proposing a Green New Deal.

Regarding the Green New Deal … contrary to what the fossil-fuel-funded talking heads want you to believe, it does NOT ban cows and airplanes. In the process of moving America to 100% clean and renewable energy, the proposal creates livable-wage jobs, assures “that eminent domain is not abused,” and requires the “informed consent of indigenous peoples for all decisions that affect indigenous peoples.”

The resolution also contains language requiring government to work “collaboratively with farmers and ranchers in the United States to remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector as much as is technologically feasible, including by supporting family farming; by investing in sustainable farming and land use practices that increase soil health; and by building a more sustainable food system that ensures universal access to healthy food.”

See, nothing in there about banning cows. That’s not to say there aren’t issues with methane emissions from cattle. But banning cows is not on the table, nor should it be. My hope is that the transition from corn-fed to grass-fed beef accelerates. Cows aren’t designed to eat corn. They’re a lot happier in a field than in a feedlot, and their environmental footprint is a lot lighter in a pasture than when force-fed corn.

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Packing dirt around glaciers to slow climate change?

Dear Friends,

Bold Iowa’s effort to bird-dog presidential candidates on climate change is going well. What’s missing is more people doing it.

SIGN UP TO BIRD-DOG PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES ON CLIMATE CHANGE!

We’re at 54 volunteers, which is a great start. But we’ll need at least 250 climate patriots across Iowa to maximize this tremendous opportunity to shape the national debate.

And “shaping the national debate” isn’t an overstatement. Not even close. In just three weeks, we’ve already seen results from this effort:

— Our questioning of Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper about his support for fracking was picked up by the Denver Post. The video of that conversation received over 1,000 views, and four Colorado climate organizations wrote to thank us.

— Keith Puntenney and Vern Johnson, two farmers along the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), met with US Senator Sherrod Brown and reported that the meeting seemed more like a photo op than a chance for genuine dialogue. Vern and Keith made the news in Ohio and two Iowa tv stations.

— Kathy Byrnes and I talked with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg who, despite his excellent film on climate change, told us he supports DAPL and fracking. Such a disconnect. Go figure.

Bold Iowans speak with Marianne Williamson in Des Moines, Iowa

— In addition to bird-dogging Marianne Williamson at two of her events, Bold Iowa organized a forum for her attended by over thirty people. Click here for a highlights video. We’re eager to organize similar forums for other presidential candidates.

— This weekend, bird-doggers plan to attend five candidate events with Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Tulsi Gabbard.

— Finally, at a cafe last week, Kathy and I questioned Andrew Yang on climate change. Indicative of the disconnect that many politicians and candidates exhibit, Yang spoke forcefully about climate change, calling it “existential threat 1A.” Good, but then he went on to propose solutions that were, to put it mildly, off the wall.

Here’s the video of our conversation with Yang, in which he offers three specific proposals to address climate change:

Andrew Yang speaks in Johnston, Iowa

1. Give every American $1,000 per month, which would move poor people beyond “a mindset of scarcity.” The poor would then begin to care about climate change and the future. Kathy and I found this idea embarrassingly out of touch and, well, demeaning.

2. Pack dirt around glaciers to slow the rate of melt. For real. He said that. Check out the video at minute mark 1:58.

3. Since money in politics is partially to blame for America’s inaction on climate change (we agree), Yang wants to give every American $100 to donate to the political candidate of their choice. I’d love to see the bureaucracy needed to enforce such a bizarre scheme.

We’re just getting started on this, folks. Bold Iowa needs your help! America needs your help! Earth needs your help! SIGN UP HERE TO HELP! Humanity’s time is short to come up with a comprehensive, historic response to the climate crisis. For the next twelve months, Iowans have a huge megaphone — the Iowa Caucuses — which we will use to change the debate on climate change.

Even if you can’t help bird-dog, please help with a contribution. All donations are appreciated. Click here to donate $5, $10, $25, $100 or whatever you can. Thanks! – Ed

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