What's it Going to Take to Tackle Climate? 537 Spines.
Posted Jul 22, 2010 by Asher Miller
Today, Democratic leadership in the US Senate abandoned plans to tackle climate legislation before the end of the year. With midterm elections in October likely leading to a narrower majority for Democrats (or even a minority) in Congress, that decision may be an irrevocable one. Time will tell, though time is one thing of which we have very little left. That is if we want to get serious about, you know, making sure this is a planet that can actually support life as we know it. No biggie. There are certainly some politicians in Washington D.C. who share our disappointment, some who get how serious of a *^#$@% mess we're in. But let's be honest, our nation's capitol is in need of some serious backbone. We're not fooling ourselves in thinking that sending some plastic spines is going to somehow save our collective hides. But sometimes a statement just needs to be made. So, if you'd like to add your voice to this campaign, please join us. 200 down. 337 to go. With sadness and anger, Asher
Original date of posting: June 16, 2010
The horrific Gulf oil spill disaster has clearly shown that our nation's leaders need us to show them what it means to have a backbone. So let's do just that - let's send one directly to President Obama, Vice President Biden, and each and every member of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
For every donation of $10 (covers costs only) we will send President Obama or a member of Congress a spine with your name on it.
In his oval office address last night on the BP oil spill, President Obama took an important, though long overdue, step in acknowledging that the days of cheap and abundant energy are essentially over.
"For decades, we have known the days of cheap and easily accessible oil were numbered. For decades, we have talked and talked about the need to end America's century-long addiction to fossil fuels. And for decades, we have failed to act with the sense of urgency that this challenge requires. Time and again, the path forward has been blocked‚ not only by oil industry lobbyists, but also by a lack of political courage and candor."
But the President failed to follow these words with any proposal or plan.
Not since Jimmy Carter has one of our nation's leaders shown the backbone to really take on our addiction to fossil fuels--afraid, perhaps, to suffer the same political fate as Carter--while with each passing day and year we run out of time and resources to avert disaster.
In his recent response to President Obama's speech Post Carbon Institute Senior Fellow Richard Heinberg wrote:
Maybe the Carter Curse is real. Perhaps straight talk about energy is political suicide. But if nobody at least tries - if no one has the courage to make specific proposals that are commensurate with the scale of the challenge that faces us - then the political survival of the current office holder is essentially irrelevant.
Clearly our nation's leaders haven't found the backbone to stand up to Big Oil and break our addiction to fossil fuels, so we're asking you to lend them yours.
Our nation's leaders need 537 backbones. With your help, we'll drop ship a big box of fortitude on Washington D.C.
Along with a toy spine sent in your name, we will also include an optional statement from you, to our leaders, about what you are doing in your life to kick the fossil fuel habit. We'lll be documenting our backbone shipments in pictures and videos that will be uploaded to the PCI Facebook page, so keep an eye out on this campaign's progress.
We need to send 536 spines to Washington D.C. pronto. This means we'lll need help, so please help us spread the word.
Update: in response to questions about the toy spines.
A number of people have asked us what the toy spines are made of and where they are made. While we haven't settled on which exact spine to send to our nation's elected leaders, the truth is:
- They'll likely be made of plastic.
- They'll likely be made in China.
- They'll likely be thrown away after delivery.
That's the straight truth. For many of you, that's a deal-breaker. Understandable. But, like Obama himself likes to say, sometimes "we can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." At least, that's our calculation, in this instance.
We ultimately decided, with clear misgivings, that we need to take action in the real world and, just as maintaining a website or email account gobbles its share of coal and oil, so do our efforts. While we work diligently to curb our consumption, both as individuals and as an organization, there are times when we find transgressing to be for the greater good. This includes this campaign, our limited air travel, our daily vehicle travel (though many of our staff work at home or commute by bike or public transportation - and we mandate one work at home day/week to reduce travel) and various operational challenges.
We're wide open to criticism on this one. And we'll own it. One person's acceptable trade off is another person's unjustifiable action. While we hope you understand, we in turn understand if you don't.
Post Carbon Institute will net nothing from donations for this campaign. Our intent is, with your help, to push our nation's leaders to find the guts (well, we thought it would be easier to send a fake spine than guts in the mail) to face our dangerous oil addiction before it's too late. In a perfect world we could do that without using fossil fuels ourselves or purchasing throw-away junk manufactured in China. But this is not a perfect world.