Saturday, December 20, 2008

Wendell Berry and Bill McKibben on Coal

An open letter released recently from Wendell Berry and Bill McKibben...

Dear Friends,

There are moments in a nation's--and a planet's--history when it may be necessary for some to break the law in order to bear witness to an evil, bring it to wider attention, and push for its correction. We think such a time has arrived, and we are writing to say that we hope some of you will join us in Washington D.C. on Monday March 2 in order to take part in a civil act of civil disobedience outside a coal-fired power plant near Capitol Hill.

We will be there to make several points:

- Coal-fired power is driving climate change. Our foremost climatologist, NASA's James Hansen, has demonstrated that our only hope of getting our atmosphere back to a safe level--below 350 parts per million co2--lies in stopping the use of coal to generate electricity.

- Even if climate change were not the urgent crisis that it is, we would still be burning our fossil fuels too fast, wasting too much energy and releasing too much poison into the air and water. We would still need to slow down, and to restore thrift to its old place as an economic virtue.

- Coal is filthy at its source. Much of the coal used in this country comes from West Virginia and Kentucky, where companies engage in "mountaintop removal" to get at the stuff; they leave behind a leveled wasteland, and impoverished human communities. No technology better exemplifies the out-of-control relationship between humans and the rest of creation.

- Coal smoke makes children sick. Asthma rates in urban areas near coal-fired power plants are high. Air pollution from burning coal is harmful to the health of grown-ups too, and to the health of everything that breathes, including forests.

The industry claim that there is something called "clean coal" is, put simply, a lie. But it's a lie told with tens of millions of dollars, which we do not have. We have our bodies, and we are willing to use them to make our point. We don't come to such a step lightly. We have written and testified and organized politically to make this point for many years, and while in recent months there has been real progress against new coal-fired power plants, the daily business of providing half our electricity from coal continues unabated. It's time to make clear that we can't safely run this planet on coal at all. So we feel the time has come to do more--we hear President Barack Obama's call for a movement for change that continues past election day, and we hear Nobel Laureate Al Gore's call for creative non-violence outside coal plants. As part of the international negotiations now underway on global warming, our nation will be asking China, India, and others to limit their use of coal in the future to help save the planet's atmosphere. This is a hard thing to ask, because it's their cheapest fuel. Part of our witness in March will be to say that we're willing to make some sacrifices ourselves, even if it's only a trip to the jail.

With any luck, this will be the largest such protest yet, large enough that it may provide a real spark. If you want to participate with us, you need to go through a short course of non-violence training. This will be, to the extent it depends on us, an entirely peaceful demonstration, carried out in a spirit of hope and not rancor. We will be there in our dress clothes, and ask the same of you. There will be young people, people from faith communities, people from the coal fields of Appalachia, and from the neighborhoods in Washington that get to breathe the smoke from the plant.

We will cross the legal boundary of the power plant, and we expect to be arrested. After that we have no certainty what will happen, but lawyers and such will be on hand. Our goal is not to shut the plant down for the day--it is but one of many, and anyway its operation for a day is not the point. The worldwide daily reliance on coal is the danger; this is one small step to raise awareness of that ruinous habit and hence help to break it.

Needless to say, we're not handling the logistics of this day. All the credit goes to a variety of groups, especially EnergyAction (which is bringing thousands of young people to Washington that weekend), Greenpeace, the Ruckus Society, and Rainforest Action Network. A website at that latter organization is serving as a temporary organizing hub. If you go there, you will find a place to leave your name so that we'll know you want to join us.

Thank you,

Wendell Berry, Bill McKibben

* * *

Here's a link to a recent filmed conversation between Wendell Berry and Bill McKibben.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Pun Pun Movie Available Online

Check out the web documentary show Tangent - there's a two-parter on the Pun Pun Organic Farm and Seed Center in northern Thailand available for download.

Good stuff!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Aqueous Solutions Represented at Methodist Church Alternative Giving Fair

Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church in Huntington, WV recently hosted an alternative giving fair. The fair allows church congregants and members of the greater community to engage with socially responsible forms of giving this holiday season.

Aqueous director of administration Sue Kearns presented a multimedia display of many of our ongoing projects for the fairgoers.

A message from Aqueous Solutions director of outreach, Tim Patterson, about opportunities for socially-responsible giving with Aqueous Solutions this holiday season...

As the financial crisis exposes the instability of economic globalization, the work of building strong, self-reliant local communities becomes more urgent than ever before.

In towns across America families are struggling to pay the mortgage and gas up the car, while villagers in India and Thailand struggle with rising food prices and dangerously contaminated water supplies.

While bankers and corporate executives clamor for government bailouts that may total over one trillion dollars, others work to reduce our dependency on a system that is broken and corrupt.

We recognize how difficult these times are for everyone, but as the holidays approach, we ask you to consider donating to Aqueous Solutions.

The work of ensuring clean drinking water supplies doesn't require billions of dollars. All AQ staff work as volunteers, and the technology we develop and implement is freely available to all.

Like any fledgling organization, however, we could not do this work without support from wonderful people who are willing to invest in a better world. A drop in the bucket can go a very long way.

Best wishes – Tim P.

There are two ways to make tax-deductible donations in support of Aqueous' work:

Give online through our fiscal sponsor, the International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC). Be sure to specify Aqueous Solutions in the "Designation" field. To make a secure online contribution click on the Network for Good icon on the Aqueous Solutions website.

Or, you may send a check made out to "ISEC/Aqueous Solutions" to

PO Box 9475
Berkeley, CA 94709 USA

If you are not concerned that your donation be tax-deductible, then you can send a check made out to "Aqueous Solutions" directly to

Aqueous Solutions
329 Wilson Ct
Huntington, WV 25701 USA

Aqueous is now also using ChipIn for quick, secure online donations that go directly for our most pressing needs – for example, key pieces of scientific field equipment. Use the widgets on the Aqueous website to make an easy, targeted contribution.

Thanks so much for your support!