Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Live-blogging Al Gore / Repower America National Conference Call

RePower America's prearranged nationwide conference call... off to a late start (scheduled for 8:00 pm, Tuesday, June 23) by a few minutes. Steve Bouchard, veteran political strategist and Repower America Campaign Manager, intro.

Discusses new Waxman-Markey legislation and how overdue it is.

Promos phone poll following call to register support for the bill.

Introduces Vice President Al Gore at 5:08 PT:

AG: Begins with expression of gratitude for all the Repower America members. Ideal timing: Final obstacle for a floor vote on the Waxman-Markey bill has been removed and legislation will come up for a vote this week, Friday, in the US House of Representatives. So this is a timely opportunity for calling members of Congress.

AG: This is the moment. This new legislation is an important first step. It achieves real reductions in carbon emissions... below the levels stipulated for 2020. The vote is on Friday. Refers to the siginificance of the passage of Obama's Green Stimulus Bill. This next bill is another key step toward reducing GHG emissions. (AG) Solicits volunteers to call members of Congress.

Passage sends a signal around the world that we in the United States are indeed serious about reducing GHG emissions. House Energy & Commerce Committe voted 33 to 25 in favor of this bill. Unheard-of success in bringing clean energy legislation to the House floor... unthinkable only 2 or 3 years ago. This is the time to get the House of Representatives fully on board. Hearing from constituents will get house members over their "fear" that this does not have universal support.

(AG) Reality is our strong ally. The opposition has only discredited information and data to use in lobbying against Waxman-Markey. This bill, plus the stimulus investment, will result in 1.7 million new jobs in the green energy and technology sectors.

Launched a new RePower America TV ad last week.

1) Stay on call following this message to record a message to your congressperson;
2) Lobby your friends and family to contact their representatives;

Steve Bouchard, Thank you Mr. Vice President. Press 1 on your phone to volunteer; stay on this line for prompts to leave a message for elected representaive.

I recorded a brief message encouraging my congressional representative, Gabrielle Giffords (D, Az) to vote "Aye" this Friday in support of the Waxman-Markey Clean Energy Bill.

Call or write to your congressional representatives and encourage them to do the same.

UPDATE: This "National Conference Call with the Former Vice President" was, after a night to sleep on it and some reflection, a tad less substantive and inspiring than I'd hoped it would be. Still, glad to have been part of it.

And in case you didn't read through the bill at the link above and are as yet unfamiliar with the tenets of this newly proposed piece of legislation from Senators Waxman and Markey, here's the link again: Waxman/Markey Bill in convenient bullet points.

Do read through it and, please, lend your support.

UPDATE #2: Repower America sign-up link. And a new video message from Vice President Gore:

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Tucson, AZ - Clean Energy Jobs Day - a MoveOn.org event

Last month, I attended an informative, inspiring and very-well-organized event hosted by MoveOn.org featuring four prominent Tucson, AZ business projects - united by the sustainability theme. The event, (essentially a half-day tour) called Clean Energy Jobs Day, began at The Solar Store (one of Tucson's oldest retailers of solar energy products) with short rousing speeches by Southern Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva (D, Az), Tucson Vice Mayor Steve Leal (D), Tucson City Councilwoman Karen Uhlich (D) and Solar Store President Katherine Kent.

Among other things, the event was organized to rally support for additional federal green-jobs legislation (and the stimulus money to fund it) by introducing the local community to diverse, pioneering, successful projects and businesses that have provided significant leadership in green technology, sustainability in architectural design, green cooperative technical trades contractors and even in the food-services business. The tour ended at a fully solar-powered pizza parlor - Brooklyn Pizza - whose rooftop 82-panel PV grid - during the heat of the day - was not only powering the pizza ovens, the air conditioners, the beer coolers and the food-storage freezers, it was doing so while returning .72 kWh of green electrons back into the grid - the net effect of which was to run UniSource Energy's specially-designed feed-in electric meter backwards, providing a cost-saving credit onto the restaurant's electric bill.

Most impressive was the tour of legendary Tucson green pioneer builder/developer John Wesley Miller's award-winning downtown barrio renovation project Armory Park del Sol. Adjacent to - and just south of - downtown Tucson in one of the city's oldest neighborhoods, the project's plat stipulates roughly 100 single family residences, all designed to maximize renewable energy sources - PV electric, solar hot water, thermal mass energy production - to recycle grey water, to optimize insulation and to minimize energy leakage and other forms of waste.

All in all, it was a very impressive tour and an inspiring reminder of both the possibilities and the delights of looking at business and enterprise from the perspective of sustainability using clean, green, carbon free renewable energy.

Look for a follow-up on John Wesley Miller here at Metro Green... coming soon.

In which we at Metro Green salute the courage of those marching in the streets of Tehran. We stand with you and wish you freedom.

Though I'd heard it earlier today, a friend just emailed me the text of Obama's newly-released formal statement on the Iranian uprising. I am particularly moved by his MLK quote: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Obama calls on Iran to 'stop all violent and unjust actions'
Obama directly addresses the Iranian government for the first time after a day of violence in Iran:
"The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights.

As I said in Cairo, suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.

Martin Luther King once said - “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples’ belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness."
By all and any means.

UPDATE: "Clerical Error." Best Iran-related headline to date. (h/t)

UPDATE #2: Thomas Friedman provides a well-crafted explanation/analysis of the current political situation in Iran in his op/ed Bullets and Barrels.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Poetry of Paul Hawken's (Commencement Address)

You Are Brilliant and the Earth is Hiring!

Paul Hawken is a friend of CharityFocus, renowned entrepreneur, visionary environmental activist, founder of Wiser Earth and author of many books -- most recently Blessed Unrest.

In May, when he was presented with an honorary doctorate of humane letters by University of Portland, he delivered this superb commencement address.

Here's just one little gem from this extraordinary speech:

This planet came with a set of operating instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Important rules like don’t poison the water, soil, or air, and don’t let the earth get overcrowded, and don’t touch the thermostat have been broken. Buckminster Fuller said that spaceship earth was so ingeniously designed that no one has a clue that we are on one, flying through the universe at a million miles per hour, with no need for seatbelts, lots of room in coach, and really good food - but all that is changing.

There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn’t bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you what it says: YOU ARE BRILLIANT, AND THE EARTH IS HIRING. The earth couldn’t afford to send any recruiters or limos to your school. It sent you rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint. And here’s the deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done.

A tad later come this:
We have failed bankers advising failed regulators on how to save failed assets. Think about this: we are the only species on this planet without full employment. Brilliant. We have an economy that tells us that it is cheaper to destroy earth in real time than to renew, restore, and sustain it. You can print money to bail out a bank but you can’t print life to bail out a planet. At present we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product. We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing the future instead of stealing it. We can either create assets for the future or take the assets of the future. One is called restoration and the other exploitation. And whenever we exploit the earth we exploit people and cause untold suffering
This is as Metro Green as it gets, and full of the kind of inspirational morality and poetic authority that leads armies into battle.

My favorite of the many, many magnificent notions and turns-of-phrase in this address is Hawken's simple assertion, "Working for the earth is not a way to get rich, it is a way to be rich."

Go ahead. Read the rest. It's a 10 out of 10. (And in case you missed it above, here's the link to Hawken's speech one more time.)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Van Jones on NOW/PBS - Green Collar Jobs

While in Austin, Texas last week, I caught David Brancaccio's NOW segment on PBS. He was interviewing Van Jones, author (The Green Collar Economy), environmental activist, founder of "Green for All," an environmental group dedicated to bringing green jobs to the disadvantaged, and recently-appointed special advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Jones is passionate, articulate and well-versed in the broad lexical vocabulary of sustainability.

Now that he has the President's ear, will Jones be creating a new career frontier for America? Let's hope so.

This is an inspiring and encouraging segment... especially for those eager to transition into the green(er) jobs market: