Bold Climate Penguins grill Andrew Yang

Dear Friends,

We kick-off this week’s Fallon Forum with Dara Jefferson and Oliviah Walker of the Meskwakie Tribe, discussing the upcoming National Day of Awareness rally for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. It’s at the Iowa State Capitol, Sunday, May 5 at 1:00. Come stand with our Native allies who are fighting to let people know of this tragedy — and let’s do something about it!

On this week’s Forum, I also talk with Sam Kuhn and Matthew Peirce — two young activists who have been instrumental in the success of Bold Iowa’s Climate Bird Dog campaign. Sam and Matthew share a bit about their backgrounds, what brought them to Iowa, and how they’ve been able to make a difference for Planet Earth through asking questions at presidential candidate events.

Bold Climate Penguins with Andrew Yang: Sheila Knoploh-Odole, Kathy Byrnes, Matthew Peirce, Sid Barfoot, Lysa Fisk and Sam Kuhn.

Well, Sam and Matthew’s work goes beyond simply asking questions. On two occasions, Sam and others have pushed the envelope by displaying “Climate is a Crisis” signs at events where they weren’t allowed. Just this week, Sam, Matthew and nine others launched the Bold Iowa Climate Penguin brigade at an Andrew Yang rally.

Yup. Penguins. Like most of the presidential candidates, Andrew Yang seems to get the urgency of the climate crisis, yet fails to prioritize it. Yang claims that poor people don’t care about climate change, and that their attitude is “the penguins can wait in line.”

So, dressed as penguins, six Bold Iowa members sat in the front row at Yang’s Des Moines rally on Sunday. One penguin — Sid Barfoot — asked Yang if he would prioritize climate change, saying, “Full disclosure, I’m not a penguin. I’m a person with financial struggles dressed as a penguin. Those of us at the bottom, we’re the least responsible for carbon emissions — yet we’re the most vulnerable to the consequences of a changing climate.

Video of Penguins talking with Andrew Yang

“Sure, we penguins would love an extra $1,000 per month. But we just found out that the second largest penguin colony in the Antarctic collapsed due to ice melt. Meanwhile, 150,000 people were displaced last year by the deadliest wildfire ever in California, and just this year, thousands were displaced by the unprecedented flooding in the Midwest.

“Neither people nor penguins have time to wait in line while our next president spends political capital on anything like universal basic income. Our question is, will you adjust your campaign’s focus and make averting climate catastrophe your number-one priority, so that both people and penguins win?”

Besides the penguins, others participating in the action were Todd Steichen and Osric Jamerson holding the sign. Not pictured were Pascha Morgan, Beth Chrzastek and Ed Fallon.

The penguins were supported by other Bold Iowa members throughout the audience, two holding a large banner reading “LET THE PENGUINS SPEAK!” Yang’s answer was, well, less than satisfactory. Bottom line is this: If the next president is serious about reducing US carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 (the target given to us by scientists, not politicians), some version of a Green New Deal will have to be their highest priority.

Also, this action resulted in the mainstream media reporting on climate change, in the Des Moines RegisterWHO TV Channel 13, and a brief mention in Politico.

Also on this week’s program, I talk about the Extinction Rebellion (ER) and the incredible ten days of action that shut down big chunks of London and compelled the political establishment to meet with the movement’s leaders. As ER talks about launching a similar campaign in the US, it’ll be interesting to see how authorities here respond.

Ed

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Join the BIRDS!

Dear Friends,

WANTED: Climate patriots to join BIRDS.

Yup, BIRDS. That stands for Bold Iowa Relentless Dog Squad. We’re assembling a squad of supporters to persistently “bird-dog” presidential candidates about Bold Iowa’s agenda. Voters have a right to know if candidates will:

German Wirehaired Pointer (Bold Iowan) with Ringneck Pheasant (Presidential Candidate). Ok, that’s going too far. (Photo: Steve Oehlenschlager)

— Mobilize for an all-out assault on climate change;

— Oppose the expansion of oil pipelines, fracking, and other destructive fossil-fuel projects;

— Stand with Indigenous communities to defend their sovereignty, land, and water;

— Stop the abuse of eminent domain;

— Push for non-industrial, distributed generation of renewable energy, and

— Support legislation like the Green New Deal, and Carbon Fee and Dividend. (Thanks to The Climate Mobilization, Sunrise Movement, Extinction Rebellion, and Citizens’ Climate Lobby for their national leadership on these initiatives.)

SIGN UP TO JOIN BIRDS TODAY!

Bernie Sanders

I’ve bird-dogged presidential candidates since 1987. It works! Back then, a coalition of Iowa peace groups convinced five of six Democratic candidates to support a nuclear test ban and oppose the dangerous Trident missile system.

More recently, we witnessed the power of bird-dogging in the 2016 presidential election. In November of 2014, Charles Goldman and I asked Bernie Sanders where he stood on the Dakota Access Pipeline. Sanders hadn’t made up his mind. Over the next year, anti-DAPL Iowans bird-dogged him relentlessly. Not only did Sanders eventually come out against DAPL, he ran ads leading up to the Iowa Caucuses touting his opposition.

Trump supporters eye us as we plan a “Rosie the Riveter” action during our work with The Climate Mobilization in 2015. From left: Peter Clay, George McCloskey, Kristy Medo, Miriam Kashia, and Ed Fallon. (Not pictured: Barb Schlachter. Photo: Shari Hrdina)

Whether a candidate is a Democrat or a Republican, bird-dogging is effective. In 2015 at the State Fair, Shari Hrdina filmed my conversation with Mike Huckabee about DAPL and eminent domain. We had similar conversations with Rand Paul and Chris Christy and landed some excellent coverage.

Our most memorable bird-dogging experience in 2015 was when five of us got tossed from a Trump rally in Waterloo after challenging then-candidate Trump to promise to fight climate change.

The 2020 campaign is noteworthy because of the sheer volume of Democratic candidates running or likely to run for president. Iowans who understand the urgency of the climate crisis not only have an opportunity but an obligation to plug into the Caucuses and make our voices heard. There is probably no other forum where our bang-for-the-buck is greater.

So, tell me you’re ready to join BIRDS, and that you’re willing to work with other Bold Iowa supporters in your community to make sure every candidate for president hears from us at every stop they make. Soon, we’ll be offering trainings to get folks up to speed on bird-dog style and content.

Polls show that Bold Iowa’s agenda resonates with a clear majority of Iowans. Let’s make sure the presidential candidates know that, too.

Ed Fallon, director, Bold Iowa

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