Naomi Klein Makes Moral Case for World Beyond Fossil Fuels

Activist and author, Naomi Klein, praises ‘courageous’ invitation by Pope in face of fossil fuel industry’s power

by Nadia Prupis, staff writer

Author and activist Naomi Klein spoke at the Vatican on Wednesday, calling climate change a “moral crisis” that should unite all people. (Photo: Adolfo Lujan/flickr/cc)

Naomi Klein—activist, author, and self-described “secular Jewish feminist”—spoke at the Vatican on Wednesday where she championed the Pope’s message for global action on climate change and made the case for “the beautiful world” beyond fossil fuel addiction.

Klein, who was invited to speak by the Vatican, gave her speech ahead of a two-day conference to discuss the Pope’s recent encyclical, Laudato Si’, on the environment and the threat of the global economic system—subjects that the author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate knows well.

The encyclical has garnered praise from environmental campaigners like Greenpeace International’s Kumi Naidoo, who called it a “clarion call for bold, urgent action.”

“Pope Francis writes early on that Laudato Si’ is not only a teaching for the Catholic world but for ‘every person living on this planet.’ And I can say that as a secular Jewish feminist who was rather surprised to be invited to the Vatican, it certainly spoke to me,” Klein told reporters ahead of the conference, which is called People and Planet First: the Imperative to Change Course.

She praised what she described as “the core message of interconnection at the heart of the encyclical.”

Klein also expanded on what may appear to be an unlikely alliance with the leader of the Catholic Church.

“Given the attacks that are coming from the Republican party around this and also the fossil fuel interests in the United States, it was a particularly courageous decision to invite me here,” she said, according to the Associated Press. “I think it indicates that the Holy See is not being intimidated, and knows that when you say powerful truths, you make some powerful enemies and that’s part of what this is about.”

“In a world where profit is consistently put before both people and the planet, climate economics has everything to do with ethics and morality.”  — Naomi Klein

“I have noticed a common theme among the critiques. Pope Francis may be right on the science, we hear, and even on the morality, but he should leave the economics and policy to the experts,” Klein said in her speech. “They are the ones who know about carbon trading and water privatization, we are told, and how effectively markets can solve any problem. I forcefully disagree.

“The truth is that we have arrived at this dangerous place partly because many of those economic experts have failed us badly, wielding their powerful technocratic skills without wisdom,” she said. “In a world where profit is consistently put before both people and the planet, climate economics has everything to do with ethics and morality. Because if we agree that endangering life on earth is a moral crisis, then it is incumbent on us to act like it.”

Echoing the Pope’s message to address inequities, Klein said that “our current system is also fueling ever widening inequality.”

But Klein stressed that her appearance at the Vatican did not mean that any one world view was “being subsumed by anyone else’s.”

“This is an alliance on a specific issue. It’s not a merger,” Klein said. “But when you are faced with a crisis of this magnitude, people have to get out of their comfort zones.”

Despite the magnitude of the crisis, Klein stressed: “We can save ourselves.”

“Around the world, the climate justice movement is saying: See the beautiful world that lies on the other side of courageous policy, the seeds of which are already bearing ample fruit for any who care to look.

“Then, stop making the difficult the enemy of the possible.

“And join us in making the possible real,” she said.

The two-day conference, which comes in the lead-up to the COP21 international climate talks in Paris later this year, is being coordinated by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity (CIDSE), an alliance of Catholic development agencies. Alongside Klein, other speakers include Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, pontifical council president H.E. Cardinal Peter Turkson, and CIDSE secretary general Bernard Nils.

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Chuck Muth’s Shockingly Electrifying Untruths

confusedI read Mr. Muth’s solar untruths with dismay in the March 31-April 2 Humboldt Sun.  Mr. Muth appears to be promulgating ALEC propaganda to bias folks against Solar Energy. Homeowners who don’t have solar panels on their roofs are NOT being ripped off by their neighbors who do. The only true statement in his entire opinion piece was:  “When it comes to electricity generation and transmission, I don’t know a kilowatt from J.J. Watt.”  He should have ended it there.

Instead, Mr. Muth went on to claim, “Net Metering is how those with rooftop solar panels are able to cut their power bills at our expense.”  First off, folks with rooftop solar panels technically, do NOT sell their excess generation to NV Energy. In accordance with regulated installation requirements, every KWH generated must be delivered to the grid for NV Energy (NVE) to use as they see fit.  Secondly, those same folks with rooftop solar panels must then purchase every single KWH their household uses.  The “net” meter keeps track of how much power is delivered to NVE as well as how much is drawn from the grid for household usage.  If a household generates more than what is used, the difference is “banked,” as a credit, for later use.

[(KWHG – KWHU) – KWHB] = KWH Net

If KWH Net = $0, then BILL = Min. Monthly Cost to Serve

  KWHG = Kilowatt-Hours Generated
KWHU = Kilowatt-Hours Used
KWHB = Kilowatt-Hours Banked

Mr. Muth goes on to claim “the power company can purchase or generate electricity at far lower prices from traditional power plants than what the government forces them to pay to your neighbor with rooftop solar panels.”  Umm, wrong!  Electricity generated using solar rooftop panels is far cheaper than what it would cost to have to cycle a large coal-fired generator up and down as electrical demands ebb and flow.  NVE’s peak loads occur during the day, when solar generation is greatest. That’s when demand for electricity peaks — especially in the summer when air conditioners are running full tilt.  It’s ludicrous for Mr. Muth to claim that starting up another coal-fired, turbine generator in the middle of the day to cover maybe just a partial load is cheaper. It’s far cheaper to use rooftop solar-generated power that consumes NO fuel, NO chemicals to clean up the stack gases, NO chemical processes to clean up the water needed to make steam, NO maintenance costs, NO plant personnel costs, NO overhead costs, etc.

Further, Mr. Muth claims, “your electric bill is higher than it should be because your power company is forced by the government to pay an ‘above-market price’ for electricity to your neighbors…” Hello? Your neighbor does NOT sell generation to NV Energy at “above-market” prices. Credit for any excess generation is “banked,” not sold.

I’m not rich. I consider my rooftop solar array an investment in the future.  Yes, Congress appropriated money to be used to provide tax rebates to folks who installed rooftop generation. And yes, I took advantage of those rebates, just as anyone would for any other tax rebate. Plus, because I paid for my installation, I own the “alternative energy generation credits (AEGCs).”  In a given year, if NVE has insufficient AEGCs to meet state/federal requirements, they may offer to buy AEGCs from homeowners. AEGCs are not equivalent to KWHs and offers to buy them have no equivalency to “above-market KWH price.”

Please keep in mind that AEGCs do NOT apply to every rooftop solar array. Many of your neighbors didn’t buy or finance their solar installation themselves. They financed it through NVE (Program used by NVE to meet their alternative energy generation requirements).  They may have panels, but NVE owns all AEGCs for that generation.  The homeowner may be able to “bank” excess KWH generated for use against a later bill, but they own NO AEGCs to sell. So, how is it Mr. Muth thinks they receive “above-market” prices for any solar generation?

Lastly, why is it that Mr. Muth, and his friends at ALEC, are so upset with homeowners who’ve installed rooftop solar?  Corporations have also installed rooftop solar, yet he has absolutely nothing to say about corporations, such as Walmart. Corporations have much larger rooftop solar arrays than any homeowner I’m aware of. If they won’t give up theirs, why should I give up mine?


2012-11-25: What I’ve Been Reading

Why Is the Obama FCC Plotting a Massive Giveaway to Rupert Murdoch?
Craig Aaron, Op-Ed: “We can still stop this terrible plan from moving forward. The other members of the FCC can dissent and send this thing back to the drawing board. The dozens of senators who voted against this very policy less than five years ago can speak up again. The Obama administration can think about cross-examining Rupert Murdoch instead of appeasing him. None of that will happen unless millions of people make some noise.”
Hostess: Challenges Facing Unions When PE Doesn’t Deliver
Eileen Appelbaum, News Analysis: Looking at the Hostess situation a union could conclude that negotiations over further concessions by workers to keep the company functioning were fruitless. The union could continue to bargain to try to limit concessions and stand up against the greed and mismanagement of the company’s owners and managers. It could refuse to make further concessions to a company It thinks is asking too much. If its demands on behalf of its members were rejected, it might consider striking.
Poor management, not union intransigence, killed Hostess
LA Times | Michael Hiltzik: Let’s get a few things clear. Hostess didn’t fail for any of the reasons you’ve been fed. It didn’t fail because Americans demanded more healthful food than its Twinkies and Ho-Hos snack cakes. It didn’t fail because its unions wanted it to die.  It failed because the people that ran it had no idea what they were doing. Every other excuse is just an attempt by the guilty to blame someone else.
Boeing Won’t Offer Pension Benefits to Same-Sex Couples Igor Volsky, News Report: Since Slog published its report, Boeing issued a statement promising to reassess the impact of Washington State’s marriage equality referendum on company policy. “Boeing is taking a closer look at how R-74 might impact company policies once it takes effect in December,” the statement said. “Nothing is ever final in negotiations until they’re over,” a company spokesperson told the Slog. “What we said today is that [these pension benefits] are not currently addressed in the contract.”
Fracking the Great Lakes
Lois Gibbs, News Analysis: “My sister and brother-in-law were active in advocating the cleanup of the lakes in the 1970’s. Our family vacationed on the lakes. It was exciting back then to hear that a serious effort from both sides of the boarder would advance to make the lakes swimmable, the fish safe enough to eat and so many other promises. Now more than 35 years later reports are praising the cleanup of historical chemical deposits while at the same time new chemicals are allowed to enter the lakes without protest.”
Many Pro-GMO Corporate Biologists Own GMO Patents, in Bed with Monsanto
Anthony Gucciardi, News Report: “Very few scientists around the globe actually dare speak about these dangers due to the overwhelming political influence Monsanto and other biotech companies have over nations around the globe. We know thanks to 2007 WikiLeaks cables that not only are most if not all U.S. ambassadors on Monsanto payroll, but that prominent U.S. political figures have threatened nations who oppose Monsanto with ‘military-style trade wars’. A threat that has managed to strike fear into many nations who would not risk massive retaliation from the United States.”
Solidarity for Tar Sands Blockade and Climate Justice Spreads Worldwide
Melanie Jae Martin, News Report: Hundreds marched to the U.S. embassy in Manilla last Wednesday to demand immediate climate action, while large numbers of peasants, organized by the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, demanded the protection of natural resources in Jamshoro. The Rwandan Climate Change Network helped spread climate awareness to Rwanda’s rural populations. Meanwhile, in Texas, over 100 people stopped construction of the Keystone XL pipeline on Monday, with four locking down and others setting up a new tree-sit blockade.
The Age of Financial Repression
Edin Mujagic and Sylvester Eijffinger, Op-Ed: Meanwhile, Western central banks are using another kind of financial repression by maintaining negative real interest rates (yielding less than the rate of inflation), which enables them to service their debt for free. The European Central Bank’s policy rate stands at 0.75%, while the eurozone’s annual inflation rate is 2.5%. Likewise, the Bank of England keeps its policy rate at only 0.5%, despite an inflation rate that hovers above 2%. And, in the United States, where inflation exceeds 2%, the Federal Reserve’s benchmark federal funds rate remains at an historic low of 0-0.25%.
Americans Want Leadership Now on Real Cliffs: Jobs and Human Survival
Truthout | Paul Street Op-Ed: "What Americans really want is the truth. They want leadership that says here’s what we need to do no matter how difficult it is, personal accountability on the part of Washington to get something done and then a level of transparency about what’s being done so that people can see progress along the way. That’s the way we do it in business. That’s the way we need to do it in Washington."
How Renewable Energy Is Rescuing Schools from Budget Cuts
Richardsville classroom-SCB-555.jpgYes! Magazine | Erin L McCoy, Report:  When Richardsville opened its doors in fall 2010, it was the first “net zero” school in the nation, meaning that the school produces more energy on-site than it uses in a year. Actual innovations incorporated into it’s design make Richardsville better than net zero. It actually earns about $2,000 a month selling excess energy to the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Why We Need Redistricting Reform
Brennan Center for Justice | Keesha Gaskins & Sundeep Iyer:  On November 7, Americans woke up again to a Republican-controlled House of Representatives. And whether they like it or not, Americans should get used to this leadership. Republican control of the lower chamber could extend well past the 113th Congress, thanks in part to the once-a-decade process of redistricting.  You see, when Republicans won big in the 2010 elections across the country — they had the power to redraw district lines to assure Republican victory after victory for the decade to come.