Friday, June 19, 2015

Polis Votes for Fast Track (b/c he's not a Democrat)

polis on three issues that come to mind where he has totally betrayed workers and the community he serves:

education - neoliberal, against workers and anti-community
makes a lot of noise about social issues in education and is part of the "school reform" agenda
supports diploma-mill higher-education policies and embraces goverment guaranteed charter profits in k-12

fracking - neoliberal, against workers and anti-community
takes liberal stance at federal level because that won't go anywhere
where he could have made a difference in Colorado he absorbed the grass roots energy and snuffed it

trade/jobs - neoliberal, against workers and anti-community
makes bold rhetorical claims about the tough worker support he will demand
votes for fast track bill without any worker support

b/c he is an agent of the elite.

should we expect anything different from a tech industry elitist advised by Arthur Laffer?

he has to go.

who will primary this tool of the rich?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Sustainable Justice: The Movement with No Name

Right now, as I speak, there are occupations taking place in this country on the following three issues:

1) Black Lives Matter
2) Fight for Fifteen
3) Fossil Fuel Divestment

Each represents a slice of millennial socio-economic rainbow:

1) African Americans and other people of color
2) The working poor and middle class populists
3) Upper class and educated white liberals

You also have an ongoing struggle for LGBTQ rights. What is interesting to me is that these are the three pillars of sustainability:

1) Socially equitable
2) Economically viable
3) Ecologically resilient

Each group, without much coordination with the others, has managed to make headlines and win real progress.

Imagine if we all saw that our enemies were one in the same and came under a banner of sustainable justice? The three movements above oppose the police state, the commodification of poor bodies, and the decimation of the biosphere. Funny that the same capitalists own the machines that destroy the environment, the businesses that turn nature's bounty into consumption, and the goons that enforce the status quo.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Text of Speech Given to Fossil Fuel Divestment Occupation at CU Boulder, 4/14/2015

Divesting is Less Risky than Supporting Fossil Fuels

Hello everyone, my name is Kelsey Cody and I'm a PhD student in Environmental Studies. My doctoral research focuses on climate change, both its physical and social aspects. I'm here today to express a very simple argument.

If investing is betting - and it is - then an investment in fossil fuels is a bet on the future of fossil fuels; a bet that the money will come back times some percentage. But if we keep making that bet and keep wining, we lose the planet. Period. I don't want to win that bet.

On the other hand, by investing in renewable energy and rapid decarbonization of our economy, we might avert a climate catastophe. That seems like a good outcome. If the planet survives but our investments sour, how badly will we miss the 1 percent of our portfolio? And if we don't avert a climate catastophe, will we really miss that extra 1 percent we could have had if we bet on fossil fuels?

To put things another way, do you think the people on the Titanic cared about the quality of the deck chairs? Or that the astronauts who survived Apollo 13 begrudged the brightness of the sun in their eyes when they finally landed?

That essential argument can be elaborated upon, and since I have another 13 minutes, I will do so. I would also hope we keep in mind that CU Boulder is a public institution with an obligation to improve the general welfare of the people, and that who gets to decide what the fiduciaries consider a "social issue" versus an "economic issue" is a question only of power, not rightness. Furthermore, whether social or economic values best better the general welfare is an open political debate currently settled by those in power. I intend to demonstrate with the reminder of my time that there is a false choice presented to us by the powers that be, and that our investments are always both social and economic; economics is a field of social science, anyhow.

One of the things you can hear in the climate debate are these dates with temperatures attached. "We need to keep ourselves below two degrees Celsius by 2050". You also hear percentage reductions in CO2 emissions attached to years: "We need an 80 percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2050 to avoid catastrphic warming". Apparnelty 2050 is going to be a helluva year. (laugh line) I don't pay much attention to those numbers. They don't mean anything to anyone and they're too easy for politicians to play games with. They're more or less government-grade nonsense, is what I'm saying. What matters to people are people, not concentrations of a waste gas or average global temperatures in the metric system.

(serious) So how about this for a story about people: I'll be 64 in 2050. I hope to have grandchildren by then. Assuming current life expectancies, those grandchildren - who I will know for up to 30 more years - will live well past 2050. If we're serious about what matters in life, then we should be thinking about 2150. And if we are thinking about 2150, then what we have to acknowledge is that those alive in 2150 will be about 150 years removed from our decisions - analgous to how we might regard the civil war.

Considering how destructive that conflict was for our country, wouldn't we want our decisions about climate change - which has the potential to destroy the livelihoods of billions - to reflect our most universal values and aspirations? We can't know what the people in 2150 will want, but we can safely assume they will still be people, and therefore need things like water and food; the supplies of which happen to be dependant on the climate.

Are food and water social issues, or economic ones?

(10 min left)

Now the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) talks about climate in 30 year time scales. This is relevant for human lifespans, but it is not very relevant for the kinds of events that tend to destroy civilizations or mega-cities. Until the use of fossil fuels and our rapid population expansion, those kinds of events would occur on much longer time-scales, 100s or 1000s of years.

But because of fossil fuels, humans are very densely populated, and our systems of exchange highly interconnected. This is especially true for the oil supply, which requires the largest and most expensive military the world has ever seen to protect it, and of disease, where cliamte change is expected to expand where disease occurs and thus expose hundreds of millions more people.

We experience seemingly rare events all the time now, even though most of those events are only marginally influenced by our fossil fuel pollution; it is not yet the climate that has changed much, but us.

Consider the four year dry-spell in California and the 20-year or so drought in the Western US generally. What we are now facing is a drought that is affecting the availability of vegetables across the United States and the prices of milk, wine, weed, and even natural gas. The drought is decimating California’s most vulnerable agricultural workers, but is only a prominent example of the kinds of events that have plagued the Western US throughout history.

These recent droughts are completely in line with the existing climate record, and that should cause us significant worry.

The drought in California is not as severe as the one that whipped out the extremely resilient Native American civilizations across the American Southwest around 1200CE - that drought started around 900CE and lasted for around 400 years. This is a reminder that in the short span of a century and a half we have built a civilization here - and everywhere - that has had a very narrow range of design parameters. There are many more environments this civilization will be tested in if it is to last, and we are only making it harder for ourselves by promoting the use of fossil fuels.

When people do not have water to drink, or cannot stay warm, or eat or get health care, they leave to find those things, else they perish. And make no mistake, climate change means death - early and preventable death - for hundreds of millions if not billions over the course of the next few centuries. These people will be mostly poor, mostly brown, and mostly women. In fact, it is mostly poor, brown women who are dying at the hands of petrol-funded death squads in Latin America, Asia, and Africa as I speak.

Are orphans and refugees social issues, or economic ones?

(4 min left)

We are in deep trouble. And what the additional death toll attributable to fossil fuels will be - unfortunately since we know so little about it - ultimately depends on the oceans; it is extremely biased to think that our vaporous atmosphere is what matters to the ecology of the planet. The atmosphere of ocean life, or about 90 percent of all life, is sea water, and it is now over 30 percent more acidic than it was pre-fossil fuels.

We’re talking about annihilating the base of the food chain for most living things that have evolved since the last mass extinction; that is, we're biting the hand that feeds us. Scientists call that last mass extinction “the great dying”, where 90 percent of earth’s species perished. By the way, a study just came out attributing "The Great Dying" to the oceans becoming acidic.

(forboding) The hand that feeds us is bleeding, and, liking the taste of blood, we think we are getting a good meal; so, we bite harder.

The question for us, as young people, is: will we keep biting? Or will we seek to feed ourselves?

How will we respond to the fact that, over our lifetimes, we may well see the onset of a continuity of climate disasters that leads to the utter collapse of human socieities, across the globe? In the best case: economic stagnation, social decline, moral decay; in the worst case: pandemic disease, global famine, and war.

Will we shirk this responsibility, fearful of the costs, as so many of our "leaders" do? Will the supposed “increased risks" of taking action, of divesting, overpower the risks of inaction, when we know those risks are unacceptable? Will we cede the false choice of fossil fuel driven economic growth and the general welfare?

(creschendo) Or, will we adapt our society to a future without fossil fuels? Will we invest in the solutions? Will we give our grandchildren the gift of freedom? From this existential threat, at the very least?

We must take action and organize to say no to fossil fuel energy in every way possible. We must act on the conviction that until these fossil fuel companies become true energy companies, unless they begin full-scale transitions to a post-fossil fuel world, it is our conclusion that their model is broken, and we prefer to bet our futures on those energy sources that might provide us with any future at all.


Thank you for your time, and solidarity.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What Do We Do With Our Bodies?

This is a half formed thought, so children and Republicans be wary.

The more I observe the structures of social control, the more I come to understand fundamentally that - at the end of the day - it is behavior that matters. Martin King said it - the law cannot make a man love me, but it can make him stop lynching me. Martin was not talking about "the law" in the sense that lawyers do; he was thinking about it as the people do: as The Man. The Law - that is, the monopolizer of violence - has the capacity to stop lynching. To actually monopolize violence.

So when I walk around CU's campus and I see the "safety and access" railings partitioning public gathering space like Norlin Quad into neat, orderly, rationalized spaces that can be controlled and contained, I see the monopoly of violence. Coercion. Force.

Behavior control. Control; as in the limitation of options. The application of cost to action such that only the desired action is taken.

We are our behavior. I have long ascribed to the idea that I have absolutely no way of knowing what anyone else is thinking, only what they do. As a biologist, I look at the verb "do" and see - literally - every material process that makes up the organism. So, of course, finical transactions and speech and breathing and mitosis are all things that people "do".

So what do the structures - and I use that physically evocative word intentionally - of social control do? How do they behave to restrict human behavior to those actions that reinforce the status quo? This is why the norm violating hippies so frightened these structures. If they were going to behave differently, do different things even within the confines of their bourgeois white privilege, then who knows what other behaviors they would embrace. They might even be for economic democracy. They might even behave as though they owned the means of production - at least in part - and had the right to have to a role in the processes that directed their productive activity.

In the end, the elite know that human behavior has the element of the swarm. They call it a mob, but it is not. The swarm is a complicated thing in human activity, but in the end, I would call a strike a swarm. I would call a sit-in strike a swarm. And once you have a sit-in strike, you're one step away - literally just a condition - from your workers literally seizing the means of production and making demands on power.

This collective action, this adoption of new rules, is a a direct threat to the status quo in that it literally deviates from it. But the behavior of the individuals can still be influenced by coercive methods. Thus, unless The Law is altered to enshrine the new rules, there will be violence.

This is why Democracy has been accepted by the elites, since it actually provides a more efficient mechanism for the maintenance of the status quo and a gradual evolution of the acceptable mechanisms of their repression.

That is why I walk across the grass, whenever possible. To break a social norm and violate the physically imposed rationality of the engineered space. To demonstrate that it is still possible to do things they haven't made easy.

Also because the grass is a waste of water, and wearing it down makes me feel good about myself on my way to teaching 18 year olds who are the product of both NCLB and RTT and have little to no civic awareness. Questions must be asked.

Teachers, sit-in. When education is the product, the means of production are in fact the teachers themselves...