As I was picking up my mail at the local post office yesterday morning I saw two friends of mine talking with one another. They looked at me like they were seeing a ghost and asked how I was doing. I knew they meant more than the usual "how ya’ doing," and I said something like, I’m fine, doing OK, I’m getting nourishment from the liquids I’m taking, thanks much. They looked skeptical. I know they and other family and friends are worried about me as I continue my climate emergency fast, now on the 73nd day without solid foods.
I am getting nourishment. For the first 25 days of water-only I didn’t, but since then I’ve been consuming fruit and vegetable juices and miso broth. Over the past week I’ve added liquid vegetable soups. I also take vitamins and protein powder. And as of the beginning of November, my weight has stabilized at 40 pounds below what it was when I started, down to a little less than what I weighed in college 40 years ago.
I know there’s a risk of long-term damage to my health, but I don’t think it’s a big one, and more importantly, I think it’s worth it. I really do. I am completely certain that we don’t have any time to waste when it comes to the climate crisis, and all of us need to step up what we’re doing on this issue.
Developments in Congress over the last week have strengthened my resolve to continue this fast for, most likely, a few more weeks. There is a possibility that we can actually get an important victory before this Congress adjourns sometime in December. But it will only happen if there’s a flood of calls, faxes, letters and emails to Congress RIGHT NOW demanding that they pass a strong energy bill.
There is every indication that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, undoubtedly inspired and pushed by the thousands of young people who manifested their political power at the Power Shift conference a little over a week ago, are working to get an energy bill passed before Congress adjourns for the year. Two different versions were passed this summer by the House and Senate, and there’s a decided pick-up in momentum toward a vote within days or weeks on a piece of legislation which, hopefully, merges the best of both bills. If it does that, it will be an important first step, a beginning, along the path toward a through-going, clean energy revolution.
A new Zogby International poll, commissioned by the American Wind Energy Association and released just two days ago, indicates the political breadth of support behind this issue. The poll of potential 2008 voters found that 77% of Republicans, 86% of Southerners, 83% of those in military families, 77% of self-identified conservatives, 81% of rural voters, 85% of independent voters and 92% of Democrats agreed that the Federal government should follow the lead of a number of states that now require at least some of their electricity come from renewable sources such as wind and solar.
Despite this, it is possible that important potential provisions of the energy bill may be left out, provisions that mandate a renewable electricity standard for utilities of at least 15% by 2020 and that provide tax credits for the production of renewable energy.
Climate and environmental groups are bringing pressure to demand that these provisions are included. It’s important that the broader progressive movement do the same. Saving our climate is a survival issue!
We need to contact Senators, not just Democrats but Republicans, as well as members of the House to demand that this legislation support renewable energy. It also needs to increase miles-per-gallon requirements for Detroit cars and light trucks to at least 35 mpg no later than 2020, deny subsidies or loan guarantees for coal, coal-to-liquids, oil or nuclear, and establish a strong green jobs program.
Will Bush sign such a bill? The odds aren’t good, but the Zogby poll that shows broad Republican voter support for renewable energy may motivate Republican politicians to put pressure on the White House. If he does veto, pressure can be continued on those in Congress who voted the wrong way and another vote can be taken next year, as is being done with votes on war funding.
Given the mushrooming political support on this issue as the crisis of global warming and energy takes hold, and as serious drought affects 1/3 or more of the country and the price of gas moves toward a possible $4.00/gallon by the spring, it is not out of the question that political dynamics in the 2008 Presidential election year will make a grudging Bush signing of this bill next spring, or a Congressional override of a second Bush veto, a very distinct possibility.
The first step, though, is getting this Congress, in the next few weeks, to pass a genuinely good energy bill.
It would be sweet, very, very sweet, to break my fast up on Capitol Hill in the aftermath of such a development. Much more importantly, such a victory would help to expand and accelerate serious action by the USA and the nations of the world on this huge international issue.
Let’s win a victory for the world!
Ted Glick is the coordinator of the U.S. Climate Emergency Council (http://www.climateemergency.org), where more information can be found on the energy bill. He is also working to build actions in the USA on December 8th, the 3rd International Day of Climate Action (http://www.climatecrisiscoalition.org).