Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “Greenpeace”

Coal The Other Demon

“Somewhere in America a family will lose a loved one in the next hour as a result of pollution from coal-fired power plants.”

Wow! I saw this headline in an email from Greenpeace that my father-in-law sent me. You might remember that I spent several posts researching nuclear power, seeing this as the real energy demon. Now perhaps it is time to look at coal.

Below is the text and YouTube video that was in the email. I would love to hear what you think about it.

“Pollution from the coal industry isn’t just poisoning our communities. It’s polluting our political process as well. The millions of dollars they spend on lobbying and campaign contributions has allowed them to continue doing business as usual. But that’s changing.

Communities everywhere are standing up to the coal industry and doing what they have to do to keep their families safe and protect their air and water. And Greenpeace is supporting them.”

That’s why we created a new website — www.quitcoal.orgespecially for these activists and for anyone who is concerned about coal. Check out their stories and be one of the first people to see our new site by clicking on the video below.

We feel that this site can serve as a valuable resource by providing a platform for these activists to share their story and connect with other people in the movement and to highlight the work that is being done across the country to build a clean energy future.You’ll be hearing a lot more about the site in the future. Thanks for all you do.Quit Coal,Kelly Mitchell
Greenpeace Coal Campaigner

Please click here to vote.

——————————————————————————————————

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

Nuclear Energy – A Green Goal?

“In the early 1970s when I helped found Greenpeace, I believed that nuclear energy was synonymous with nuclear holocaust, as did most of my compatriots. That’s the conviction that inspired Greenpeace’s first voyage up the spectacular rocky northwest coast to protest the testing of U.S. hydrogen bombs in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. Thirty years on, my views have changed, and the rest of the environmental movement needs to update its views, too, because nuclear energy may just be the energy source that can save our planet from another possible disaster: catastrophic climate change.”

Very credible scientists are wearing this T-shirt.

So begins Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, currently chairman and chief scientist of Greenspirit Strategies Ltd., in an article published in the Washington Post. Mr. Moore goes on to address the dangers of nuclear proliferation (he wrote this article days after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that his country had enriched uranium), and Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island nuclear power plant reactor core meltdown “that sent shivers of very real anguish throughout the country.”

Interestingly, he considers the damage done at Three Mile Island to be a success in terms of its containment and eventual net damage done. This is interesting as I have quoted over the past week or so, other experts who offer the same response in regard to what transpired in Japan.

He also quotes a study (I can’t find the source) that finds that 80% of the people living within 10 miles of the US nuclear plants are in favor of their use. This statistic does not include those employed at the nuclear power plants). I want to assume that these people did their due diligence and didn’t just jump at low house prices (it’s all about location!).

Finally he offers a number of ‘stars’ from the environmental world who support nuclear energy, including British atmospheric scientist James Lovelock, father of the ‘Gaia’ theory, Stewart Brand, founder of the “Whole Earth Catalog,” and the late British Bishop Hugh Montefiore, founder and director of Friends of the Earth. Incidentally, Bishop Montefiore was forced to resign from Friends of the Earth’s board of directors when he authored a pro-nuclear article in a church newsletter.

More bumper sticker wisdom?

Moore does highlight many serious problems with pursuing nuclear power. While I list them below, his article goes into more detail.

– nuclear power is expensive

– power plants are not safe and there is the potential of a natural disaster

– power plants are vulnerable targets for terrorist attacks

– we do not have proven solutions to get rid of nuclear waste

– the move from a nuclear energy program to a nuclear arms program is a short one

Finally, for those of you less interested in plowing through a article, here is a 17-minute talk from Stewart Brand. He actually deals with more than just nuclear power in his speech, but it is fascinating.

Can we envisage nuclear energy as a green source of energy after what happened in Japan?

——————————————————————————————————

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

A Sustainable Chinese Future

In the last month I have posted three times regarding China, whether to protest the imprisonment of Shi Tao or the sad debacle of Liu Xiabo, the Nobel prize winner, currently also incarcerated.

I have heard from people who feel that I am anti-China. I am not. In fact, I spent years studying Tai Chi Chuan and Traditional Chinese Medicine. I embrace a lot of the lessons that emanate from Chinese culture.

In particular, I Look China has posted several times criticizing my choice of  contention. I will agree to disagree. Doing sometime illegal is exactly that and the proponents know what they face. However, non-violent protest is a mark of a society’s maturity and its own personal comfort level with itself.

There are two aspects of China that I feel critical about. The first is human rights and democracy as these previous posts make clear. But I am also worried about the growing and (so I thought) unchecked industrial growth, and in particular, the impact on the environment.


So I was really excited to hear that there is a thriving Greenpeace in China. It is an organization facing a massive expansion, one that dwarfs the industrial United States. I am also quick to recognize that the steps taken here in the US are clearly not enough, and fighting the small rich oligarchy here is incredibly frustrating.

But the knowledge that Greenpeace is established and respected in China offers hope not only for the environment, but also that it is possible to be critical in China.


——————————————————————————————————

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

 

Books that Matter – McLibel: Burger Culture on Trial – John Vidal

McLibel is the story of the remarkable trial wherein McDonald’s sued two young activists for libel in London during the 1990’s and, unlike every newspaper, magazine and TV show, they refused to back down. Due to archaic laws, libel is the one area of law where there is no legal aid offered.

A friend of mine put up what became the first interactive advocacy website at a time when most of us were still using telephones and letter to communicate with each other. Both the David .v. Goliath aspect of what became the longest court case in British history and the role that the website took on, fascinated me.

John Vidal records an accurate account of what transpired in the Royal Courts of Justice in his book – McLibel: Burger Culture on Trial, and there is also a DVD by the same name produced by Geoffrey Giuliano.

KIRKUS REVIEW (McLibel: Burger Culture on Trial)
A lively account of the food fight that became the longest trial in British history. When a flyer entitled “What’s Wrong with McDonald’s” circulated around London, the burger giant took umbrage and sued Helen Steel and Dave Morris, members of London Greenpeace (an environmental group not affiliated with the international organization Greenpeace), for libel… see below for full review.

My latest novel, The Accidental Activist, is a fictional account of the trial. I keep very close to the true time line, but I have substituted an oil company in place of McDonald’s (so as not to get sued for libel myself!). I tell the story from the perspective of the guy who put up the website. I have a common theme throughout my novels to spotlight the transformational potential that we each possess to effect positive change.

A self-absorbed, successful computer yuppie goes out on a few dates with a woman who suddenly gets arrested and charged with libel. He utilizes his talents, initially to help her, but gradually gets more involved in the issues and the need to hold big businesses accountable.

While the court case closely resembles what really transpired, the characters and sex are all from my overactive imagination.

KIRKUS REVIEW – McLibel: Burger Culture on Trial.
A lively account of the food fight that became the longest trial in British history. When a flyer entitled “What’s Wrong with McDonald’s” circulated around London, the burger giant took umbrage and sued Helen Steel and Dave Morris, members of London Greenpeace (an environmental group not affiliated with the international organization Greenpeace), for libel.

Here Vidal, who covered the trial for the London Guardian, recounts some of the issues addressed and the difficulties faced by the two underdogs who, without benefit of a court-appointed lawyer or funds from legal aid, acted as their own attorneys in facing the corporation’s crack legal team in a bench trial (they were denied a jury). British libel law required that Steel and Morris prove the accuracy of virtually every statement made in the flyer.

The company may since have come to regret their suit: The pair, assisted by a network of volunteers, did a very credible job of tracking down information in support of the flyer’s claims. This effort leads Vidal to discussions of the nutritional value of McDonald’s food; whether or not that food contained any beef raised on former rainforest land; the corporation’s treatment of workers; and its reactions to employees’ efforts to unionize.

By the time Vidal is finished with such subjects, the Golden Arches look a little tarnished. But his account would have benefited from waiting for the verdict that was handed down this summer, and from concluding with more rumination on the case and less grandstanding on the evils of multinational corporations. Still, Vidal’s blend of human interest and sheer outrageousness make this a ripping legal yarn. If the case itself hasn’t already given Ronald McDonald indigestion, this book might. (8 pages b&w photos, not seen) — Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

——————————————————————————————————-

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

 

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: