Letter to Bill McKibben | | Hey, have you noticed the climate is changing?

From: Lorna Salzman <lsalzman1>

Date: July 9, 2010 9:57:02 AM EDT

To: organizers

Subject: Hey, have you noticed the climate is changing?


I know it’s a hot summer and you need to stay cool near your A/C, but this is ridiculous. As the oil companies continue to reap in tens of billions of dollars in tax breaks, congress wimps out on a carbon tax, gasoline is one=third what it costs in Europe, and we face a 4 degree celsius increase in average global temperature, you guys are busy wanking about solar collectors on the White House.

You probably saw my Open Letter to Bill McKibben in the May 3rd issue of The Nation. If not, let me reiterate my main points: that considering the anxious tone of McKibben’s books and articles, he still doesn’t think it is important to actually TAKE POSITIONS ON ENERGY POLICY, much less tell his followers what they should do.

McKibben has gotten lots of awards but the one he really deserves is the one for Wussmanship. Here is someone who pretends to be a leader but flops around and wimps out. He hasn’t had one significant thing to say about the scam that passes for energy legislation. He doesn’t say he supports it nor will he say what is wrong with it. All he does is send out emails to justify the grants that dumb donors and funders send him, grateful that he isn’t telling everyone the ugly truth about Obama and the Democrats.

And we all know what’s wrong with this legislation. We’ve known for three years that the Democrats were fussing over where to move the armchair and whether to put the sofa against that other wall, moving the deck chairs around on the Titanic as they say. So let me ask you what I, in my former civility didn’t ask: have the Democrats gotten to McKibben? Has he gotten friendly phone calls from Joe Romm or Rahm Emmanuel or Steve Chu, telling him how great he is, inviting him for a drink at a yuppie wine bar in Georgetown, and buttering him up so he won’t blast their crappy energy bill? Is he in the pay, literally or figuratively, of the Democrats?

If not, then the conclusion is even worse: that McKibben is a 90 pound weakling who is letting the Democrats kick sand in his face on the beach, as they walk away to the bank with hush money from the energy industry. Or maybe he really just doesn’t give a weasel’s butt what happens as long as he can occupy his rarified, remote and ineffective spot as the purported leader of the environmental community.

Which is it,Bill? Will the real Bill stand up? You aren’t a leader. You are an obstacle. Time to retire and tend your garden and stop promoting yourself and as anything but a feel-good virtual campaign that lets you sleep at night instead of worrying how the administration will deal with you should you dare to open your mouth and tell the truth. isn’t “people powered”. It is powered by the methane from Vermonters…and I don’t mean cows.

Lorna Salzman

Dear Friends,

Washington DC is in the grip of an epic heat wave as I write these words. It hasn’t been enough to get our Senators and Congressmen to do anything about the climate crisis, but it is a constant reminder of the sun’s power, going to waste.

We thought we all could do something about that this summer, so today we’re launching a little campaign asking President Obama to put solar panels on the roof of the White House. It’s easy to sign on–just click the following link to add your name.

This new campaign is part of our huge push towards the 10/10/10 Global Work Party, where millions of people in 114 countries (and counting!) have already signed up to do something sustainable in their communities on that October day. We hope the president will join in both the work and the party, and help install those panels–if you agree, we’ve made it incredibly simple for you to send along your invitation. Just click here. And just so you don’t think we’re singling out the president, we’re launching this same campaign today in every other country in the world.

President Obama won’t, of course, be doing much to solve climate change with just that one act alone. We really need him to push for comprehensive laws that put a price on carbon and wean us off coal and oil–push much harder than he has so far. We’re a little worried that the Obama administration will use their new solar panels to claim that they’re sincere about climate change without working to pass the legislation and enact the regulations that really matter–none of us wants to be used for a photo opportunity. That’s why the message we’ll all be sending is: you’ve taken symbolic action, so now get to work on the real thing.

And the symbolic action is important. Solar panels sat on the roof of the White House during the Carter administration, but were pulled down by the next occupant of the building, and never replaced. That sent a simple message: renewable energy didn’t really matter. (Not surprisingly, when the panels came down the subsidies for solar energy also disappeared, and now other nations are leading the way on clean energy).

We need the opposite message: every roof in the country should have solar panels–for hot water and for electricity. Panels on the White House will remind every visitor to Washington of that simple fact–it will do as much good as the wonderful organic garden that the First Lady planted on the South Lawn. (In the year since, the number of Americans with vegetable gardens grew 19%; Burpee Seeds reported sales up by a third!).

Nothing replaces legislation that really cuts carbon.

But one way to build support for those changes is to show how easy it is to start to work. So tell President Obama-it’s time to roll up those sleeves, put solar on the White House and join the Global Work Party!


Bill McKibben for

P.S. Good news arrived just as we were getting ready to launch this global campaign. President Mohammed Nasheed of the Maldives confirmed he’d be up on the roof of his official residence on 10/10/10 putting up a solar array. It’s fifteen degrees cooler today in his capital city than it is in Washington, so there’s every reason to hope President Obama will match his gesture!

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