July 12, 2008

Conventions pollute the air

Natives help green the Democratic National ConventionPlanners of the Democratic National Convention are limiting the party's carbon footprint through a unique partnership with an Indian-focused environmental business.

The Democratic National Convention Committee began working with NativeEnergy Inc. this spring to purchase carbon offsets for the dozens of convention staff who are flying, driving and otherwise polluting Denver as they carry out the big event.

Party organizers are now asking that delegates, members of the media and other political officials who will be attending the late August gathering do the same.

Delegates to the convention with the highest percentage of members offsetting their carbon emissions will be recognized in their seating section on the floor of the Pepsi Center, the site of the first three days of the event. If they offset their travel, they are also expected to receive a "green item" to distinguish themselves during convention week.
Unfortunately, the carbon-offset movement is fraught with difficulties:

What to do with your carbon emissions...

'Offsets' for travel, meetings are popular but also have criticsOpponents say offsetting gives people the mistaken impression that they can keep on polluting or that such individual efforts can solve global warming, when much more fundamental change is needed.

They also warn that offsetting companies lack oversight and that the environment would be better served by people reducing their own pollution and demanding that governments end the use of carbon-producing fossils fuels.

The carbon neutral trend "tries to make money from tapping into consumers' guilt," said Jutta Kill of SinksWatch, an environmental group that monitors such projects.

"It's worse than doing nothing. ... Those who are in a role-model function like Al Gore do not do the movement for effective action on climate change a favor by promoting carbon offsets."
Comment:  Wanna reduce the carbon emissions of a political convention? Here's an idea: Cancel the political convention. These conventions are totally unnecessary in this era of instant communications. Nothing ever happens at them; it's been decades since they produced any real news. They're media events staged to publicize the candidates with the networks as willing accomplices.


dmarks said...

The carbon offset thing enables Al Gore to live quite extravagently with supposedly less grief and supposedly less guilt.... and all it really amounts to is that he is too lazy and too much of a hypocrite to do any of the "lower carbon footprint" stuff in his travel and personal lifestyle.... as if to Al Gore it is just a lucrative political gig.

If the Dems were serious about reducing the environmental impact of the convention, they would reduce the convention. How much of it is needed in the era of good high-definition spontaneous telecommunications/ Especially when they know who the candidate is already?

And tell this to the protesters who are determined to deny the Dems their free speech and freedom-of-assembly rights. Imagine all the fuel saved if every one of them stayed home and protested by letters, blogging, etc instead of going to Denver to harass Democrats.

Anonymous said...

dmarks: blogging saves fuel? maybe. but where do you think the coltan in your computer comes from? and how do you think letters are delivered? Magic stork?

until the whole system is brought down (or crumbles)... everyone's 'carbon footprint' is virtually the same. a system (civilisation) based on expansion and 'progress' cannot go on forever. and the only way the system keeps going is through violence.

furthermore, if you are being raped (like the great forests in the world)...would you want me to:

1) call the police
2) meditate and send loving thoughts to your rapist
3) hit the rapist with a crowbar


Anonymous said...

Here's the link that was cut off:


dmarks said...

#3, right? That is what you want me to answer, because violence and thuggishness is the best solution?

Anonymous said...

dmark: You can answer however you want. I could do any of those things. Myself, I would choose #3. Would you call me a "thug" if I saved your life in that fashion? If meditating and writing letters would stop the rapist (the culture) I'd be all for it. Sometimes it does work. But so does the other method.

dmarks said...

Just ask the Unabomber how well becoming a violent sociopath to "Stop the Culture" works.

I'm not sure if #3 has ever worked near as well as #1 and #2 when it comes to environmental issues and struggles. The backlash caused by those few who commit violent crimes against people in the name of environmental causes has been significant and counterproductive.

Anonymous said...

Obviously, you don't live on land that you love. You don't love the Crows, Coyotes, and Redwoods in your area. If you did, you'd do anything to make sure they are around. And fuck you for saying that only a "violent sociopath" would defend something they love with any means necessary. I suppose the American Indians should have just let the Europeans rape their land and person. I'm sure they should have just written letters to Custer. That would have changed everything. Custer was a reasonable man, right? They could have all sang happy songs and laughed about their differences. Woooo.

Were Tecumseh and Crazy Horse "thugs" and "sociopaths"?

Please enlighten me as to what works best.

dmarks said...

The subject is now switched from the original thing about becoming a violent sociopath to stop "raping the forest" (whatever that means) aud using violence to stop a "(civilisation) based on expansion and 'progress' cannot go on forever" to Native resistance againt genocide and invasion.

It's a lot more clear cut now (no lumbering puns intended). Crazy Horse, Tecumseh, Bwandiac, Little Crow and others were not much like the "Earth First"-type environmentalist extremist types we were discussing in the first part of the discussion.

"You don't love the Crows, Coyotes, and Redwoods in your area"

Not sure if you are talking about Crow Indians, Coyote the Tricker, or what? Crow birds and coyotes are no where near endangered or threatened.

As for the "what works best" question, the Unabomber and ALF types (who base their fight on way-off misperceptions about "culture") don't end up doing anything but making things a little worse.

As for the Custer example.... writing letters vs killing Custer? A noble fight, an obvious choice. However, for much of this time, the Natives might as well have written letters instead for all the good fighting back did. I'm not faulting them for fighting back, but it did nothing to halt the genocide, treaty-breaking, racism, "sooners" and the rest of it.

Anonymous said...

I can't continue this back-and-forth because it's not going anywhere...

Here's some interesting reading if you're interested: a bit where I'm coming from:


Rob said...

I knew somebody--probably DMarks--would mention Al Gore quickly. ;-)

Didn't I say the Democrats should cancel their convention? That's better than reducing it. But I guess they're not ready to take such a radical step. All they're willing to do is make it more "green."

If anyone's wondering, coltan is "the colloquial African name for columbite-tantalite, a metallic ore used to produce the elements niobium and tantalum." Computers use a tiny amount of tantalum but they don't use coltan, since it's an ore.

My carbon footprint is much less than most people's. That makes me a good environmentalist and proud of it. If you all want, I can give you tips on how to be more like me.

As for what to do about forest rape, I'll go with #4: nonviolent protests, boycotts, and other concerted actions. These techniques worked for Gandhi and King, so they should work for tree-huggers. If they don't, then we can consider hitting the "rapists" with crowbars.

There aren't many crows, coyotes, or redwoods in my neighborhood, but I occasionally kill creepy crawlers in my condo. Unfortunately for them, I've declared my home a nature-free zone. Bugs beware!

Tecumseh's philosophy was something like "peace through strength," so he wasn't a thug, a sociopath, or a warrior type. Crazy Horse was a resistance fighter in an undeclared war against Indians. Of the two, I'd say Tecumseh's approach was better. He came closer to stemming the tide of encroachment.

Of course, Tecumseh was operating in different circumstances some 60 years earlier. If he and Crazy Horse had traded places, they might've traded strategies too. It's impossible to say or know.

As for the Derrick Jensen essay on pacifism (against it), I have my own page titled Winning Through Nonviolence. I think I've countered most of the arguments for violence. Read it and learn.

dmarks said...

kf: Gandhi and King have "street cred" on the philosophy of nonviolence (pro or con). William S. Burroughs really has none.

Much of your article appears to be justification for those who represent the interests of a tiny fanatical few to use bullying, assault, destruction, and murder to force their view on the 99.93% against their interests. Not only thuggery, but selfish thuggery.


Rob, I wasn't saying that the Dems should cancel their convention. I'm just pointing out the fact that their convention, like that of the Republicans, really does not mean a lot at this point. It's a big speech and photo op. Much (not all) of it could be done on-line. Not only that, it short-circults attempts by protesters to harass the Dems and try to cause violence.

I'm inspired by Tecumseh's efforts, but I think it was all like arranging deck chairs on the Titanic when the Indians were faced with the relentless manifest destiny machine and its overwhelming numbers. If Tecumseh had succeeded, it might have been like tiny Chechnya's victory against Russia and short-lived independence from it. This independence ended when the Russians just focused their attention a little more and decided to play hardball.

Perhaps, though, if Tecumseh's confederation had been recognised and supported by a vast foreign power....

As for your article, it seems quite involved and interesting, and that is all I will say on it until I read the whole thing.

Anonymous said...

Rob & dmarks:

I usually look to nature. So if a Mother Grizzly Bear attacks a human who is trying to capture her daughter and put her in a zoo? Is that violence? If I live on land (that I love) and it's certainly not a "nature free zone" -- will I be aggressive in defense of that land? A land where the rivers and trees talk to me. If that selfish to have deep rooted love that I would defend with my life? "Love does not imply pacifism."

Even if you disagree: you still might appreciate the humor in this:



(the dialogue in the comic is from an actual conversation -- sans the "ohh fox-ay" part)

Rob said...

I covered the subject of Was Native Defeat Inevitable? in the posting of the same name. I'd say defeat was always likely but never certain.

Spare us the false analogies, KF. Saving someone else's tree isn't the same as saving your own child. It isn't even the same as saving your own tree.

By the way, are you a Bush supporter? You must've loved his invasion of Iraq. Like you, he thought the end (protecting Americans) justified the means (sending thousands of US soldiers and Iraqi civilians to their deaths).

As for Jensen's Star Wars parody, I'd say it's stupid, not funny. The point you, Jensen, and Bush seem to miss is that there's a range of alternatives between "send love letters to your enemies" and "kill your enemies before they kill you." More recognition of this would make your responses seem more rational.

P.S. You and Jensen may enjoy this posting: "What to do if you happen upon a peace rally by stupid naive hemp-shirt-wearing college idiots...." I think it's a lot more astute than Jensen's screed.

Anonymous said...

Non-Violent Rob,

I'm not interested in saving "my" tree or "someone else's" tree -- just the tree. I don't claim ownership of the tree. I want to protect the tree for it's own sake.

You asked if I'm a Bush supporter. You should have asked: "Do I support the right of Iraqis to fight back against Imperialism?" And I'm not talking about writing letters or blogging. I'm talking about guns. Is that legitimate to you? How would you fight back with planes bombing your house and daily raids? Escape to blog? Or would you fight for the land you love? If you don't love the land: that's a sad state of affairs that many people in the city experience.

And I never said that violence is always the answer. All I ever said, and am saying is: sometimes it's OK to fight back. Using your example of me supporting Bush in Iraq. I could play the same silly trick and ask you about you quoting the Pope. Do you support the Catholic Church's dealings with the Nazis? Their silent consent of the slave trade? The church touching on little boys? I mean, you do quote the Pope as a man of peace. As for Gandhi: he once called his wife a "meek cow" and disowned one of sons (who had converted to Islam and then drank himself to death).

Let me know what you think is "rational" and when it's ok to fight back. And maybe ask the Pope too...I mean, if he's not busy touching little kids and making utterly boring speeches. How anyone could be inspired by such tripe is beyond me. He speaks with no passion. Just like the Dalai Lama (who loves to bow and kiss the hand of Bush). Please, white man, love me! It's weird because you really are disconnected from the universe in your "nature-free" zone that you have no idea what it means to love something with so much passion. Your "rational" brain has blinded you. Trust the brain in your stomach. It works too.

As for your debunking of that frat-kid email: HUH? You're comparing unprovoked attack (punching a protester or US in Iraq) versus self-defense. It's about who has the power. Your analogy doesn't even come close to working. You've simply lumped any "violent" action into a simple paradigm. What about "violence" against objects? Do you disagree in blowing up dams to free rivers? Email the Pope Gandhi Lama III and let me know.

(NOTE: I didn't make fun of MLK cuz I have much respect for him. However, many people would argue that the civil rights movement wouldn't have been as effective without the threat of the "Armed-Black Man" and the Black Panthers. It's debatable, obviously. But there's a reason that Fred Hampton was assassinated like MLK. They scared the establishment - which is a good thing. I doubt anyone's blog or fancy letter would have the same effect. But it's all needed. Letters don't hurt. But let's be serious - no one is shaking in their boots over some blogger's extensive vocabulary)

dmarks said...

"So if a Mother Grizzly Bear attacks a human who is trying to capture her daughter and put her in a zoo? Is that violence?"

It is the unreasoning, instinctive actions of an animal lashing out.

So that is what we should aspire to in social action? Blindly lashing out at those who disturb us? Maiming, hurting, or killing others out of the most base reptilian part of our brains?

dmarks said...

@KF: "However, many people would argue that the civil rights movement wouldn't have been as effective without the threat of the "Armed-Black Man" and the Black Panthers."

Threat? If the desires of the worst of the Panther types had been realized and there had been an outright race war, the small much-less-well-armed minority race would have lost easily and quickly. There was no "threat" at all from them.

The biggest "threat" by far came from Dr. King, and here I mean a threat to really change things. And it was all directly because of his non-violent and deeply Christian worldview.

The Black Panther/etc thugs only made things a little worse (not better) because all they could really cause was a backlash of negative perception among whites/etc to somehow tarnish the entire civil rights cause a little bit.

Anonymous said...

"Reptilian" brain? I don't know what that means. Do bears have that? And what's the base part of a lizard's brain? Another smaller animal? This is too confusing.

Rob said...

For my response to KF, see Should Natives Kill to Save Trees?