Imagine Life Differently: New Year’s Resolution revisited

Who could’ve thunk it?

GHW Bush lies at the core of a driving motivation in my life.

The eldest President Bush was facing a reelection battle against Bill Clinton, and so advisers persuaded him to attend the world environmental summit in Rio de Janeiro, possibly the most optiistic moment in recent history.  Before he went, however, he told a press conference that “the American way of life is not up for negotiation.”  If that’s true, if we can’t imagine living any differently, then all else is mere commentary.

One thing that should unite us is a drive to imagine a different life, a different world, a better one, a better path forward … and we all, in our own ways, fight to achieve those visions.  

I am imagining life differently. One path terrifies me.   am terrified at the world that we are creating at a head-long pace.  Global Warming … I am terrified at economic prospects in coming years … Peak Oil.  

And, I imagine life differently and it energizes me to fight to Energize America.

The quote comes from the 2006 paperback edition of Bill McKibben‘s The End of Nature. Put simply, The End of Nature should be required reading of all Americans, perhaps as a core part of High School ‘global citizenship’ programs that would help understand the interactions of our lives with those around us (human and otherwise), today and into the future, and how these feed back to affect our own lives (out into the future).  

The End of Nature is about Global Warming. Published first in 1989, it was the first mass accessible book about Global Warming.  “The End of Nature” refers to McKibben’s (convincing) thesis that atmospheric changes due to CO2 (and related GHG) emissions have eliminated the concept of “untouched” wilderness and wrecked the notions of the constants of nature so central to core concepts of the world. (And, if serious in 1989, nearly 20 years later we are in a far worse situation for action as per Bill’s latest article.) McKibben calls on us (US) to think differently to try to avert the consequences he (and many experts) saw looking into the future.

In particular, my “imagine life differently” focus relates to Peak Oil and Global Warming.  My casual concerns over these have (thanks to learning sparked by the likes of Jerome a Paris, Devilstower, Meteor Blades, Chapter1, BruceMcF, APSmith, and so many others) turned to varying levels of fear and utter terror as I try to comprehend the world that we (collectively) are creating for ourselves and the future.  I am learning ever more about the feedbacks and interconnections that are such a part of The End of Nature.

Bill McKibben’s article, Energizing America, appeared in the Sierra Club magazine in January 2007. McKibben, not for the first, time specifically called out the Energize America for praise (page 3)

Since Guillet’s day job involves analyzing the economics of energy projects, he soon expanded his sphere to explaining the basics of the energy crisis. Before long, others on the site interested in the same issues found themselves working with Guillet to produce, revise, and then revise again a detailed 20-point plan they call “Energize America,” a remarkably comprehensive energy strategy that pays full attention to political reality. Currently in version 5.0, the plan proposes ideas ranging from the Passenger Vehicle Fuel Efficiency Act and the Wind Energy Production Tax Credit Act to measures designed to boost telecommuting, experiment with state renewable energy efforts, and put solar panels on 20 million roofs. It’s precisely the kind of full-blown proposal that, if adopted, might fundamentally reorient our energy future.

We are striving to imagine life differently.  

I am a pessimistic optimist.  

My pessimism envisions an extremely bleak future (sadly within far near a term future), with terrifying economic (political, global, and perhaps conflict) havoc from Peak Oil and mass damage from Global Warming capped with a horrible die off to come.

My optimism drives a belief that I (that we) have something to say about this future. That we have the potential to change our path as I said at Yearly Kos II in Chicago, in 2007

I am a CarboHolic.  My last full tank was two days ago, my last plane flight a week ago, and I am beginning to feel withdrawal staved off by the CO2 emitted for the electricity to be on the web.

Let us face facts. … Take a moment to put together a list of the top ten challenges for humanity for the 21st century. Your list might include global economic growth, health issues, hunger, environmental destruction, climate change, water, terrorism and others.  When considering such a list, there is at least one common thread.  All are worsened by a future dominated by an expensive, uncertain, unevenly available, polluting energy system.  And, all will face eased solution with a future dominated by a clean, sustainable, readily accessible, fairly distributed, and reasonably priced (if not inexpensive) power solutions.

At this time, the United States is hurtling toward the cliff like Thelma & Louise, but we’re in our Hummers rather than a convertible. And, we are dragging the world … and future generations … behind us, bound hand and foot by our dangerous habits and shaky energy structure.

My name is A Siegel.  And, I am a CarboHolic.  

Unlike President Bush, however, we are able to get past that first step in a twelve-step. We recognize the problem. And, we recognize that we are not powerless — we have the ability to change, to take control of the situation, to turn ourselves away from that addiction. We decided to figure out what we (as individuals, communities, and country) could do about it.

And, we are acting to seek that change. To end that addiction.  To set the path to Energize America for a sustainable and prosperous energy future.

In my life, From the Home to the Globe, I am striving to do my part to affect this change.  Whether putting insulation in my roof, participating in The Climate Project, or communicating to others (including on Daily Kos), I am striving to turn us away from that cliff.

As part of those efforts, a year ago, I accepted. No, I embraced DannyInLA‘s Challenge.  A year ago, I promised to and repledge to diligently challenge those who seek to maintain a path hurtling over that cliff, whether that is inefficient Christmas light displays, McSUVs, not recyling aluminum cans, challenging astroturf or Global Warming enablers (like Robert J Samuelson). I will CHALLENGE those who threaten a path toward a Prosperous, Climate-Friendly Society.

Dannyinla’s Challenge … I will take up that challenge TO CHALLENGE those here who do not comprehend the reality of the threats that Peak Oil and Global Warming portend for us, US, and the future.  I will take up that challenge TO CHALLENGE thinking about energy and Global Warming threats and opportunities. I will take up that challenge TO CHALLENGE us all to imagine new and better paths forward, in an integrated conception of options to develop something better.

For example, I am absolutely fed-up with all the reactions here at DailyKos about gasoline taxes.  Now, I am not a believer any longer in gasoline tax (I want a Global Warming Impact Fee) but, the American “Way of Life” must be open for ‘negotiation’ or else we are calling into question the potential for even having a ‘way of life’ that is worth living for tomorrow’s Americans (or, the later years of today’s Americans — both are true).  

But, my reaction to ‘gas tax is impossible … is immoral because X, Y, Z’ is “if that is true, if we can’t imagine living any differently, then all else is mere commentary.”  

We must change and a gasoline tax might be part of the package for making the change. We can figure out how to use the revenues to fast convert charities, government, people lower on the economic scale to lower-GHG (better fuel mileage) transportation.  We can use the revenue in many ways, but exemptions; forget it, we want everyone (EVERYONE) to be seeking ways to cut their requirements for GHG-related fuels.  Exemptions cut at that incentive.

And, that same principle applies to pollution permits in a potential Cap and Trade program. Giving away permits (any permits) undercuts, by definition, effectiveness toward achieving a cleaner and survivable future economy.

And, I will be extremely happy to see the end of subsidies (direct and indirect) to oil, coal, etc …

But, I can imagine life differently and I am terrified at the world that we are creating at a head-long pace.  Global Warming … I am terrified at economic prospects in coming years … Peak Oil.  

I cannot any longer leave stand any comment about ‘gasoline taxes are regressive’. Not anymore. Is there any “tax” more regressive than the damage that we are doing to the globe and the dangers it creates for the potential of human life in the years ahead?  Politically inconvenient?  Perhaps — but what is politics about but striving to create a better polity for all, and a better polity that is improving into the future. Without a meaningful confrontation of both Peak Oil and Global Warming, that future will not be better.

Nor can I leave stand comments about ‘this is beyond us’ or ‘we can’t do anything’ or … I refuse. I accept. I embrace Dannyinla’s challenge to Challenge.  

As I contemplate a year’s that has past, a year where I made a quite public pledge to Imagine Life Differently — and a New Year’s Resolution, I can see real successes and failures to live up to my ideals.

In 2007, I

  • Sought to educate others about the threats of Global Warming and Peak Oil and about options to deal with these.
  • Trained  (by Al Gore and others) as part of The Climate Project and have given presentations to a variety of audiences on Global Warming and action paths to change our destiny.
  • Challenged … Global Warming deniers almost daily,  privately, in meetings, via blogging, and in the traditional media (including a letter in the Washington Post). Challenged … in discussions here and elsewhere thinking about Energy and Global Warming. Chalenged …
  • Aided others develop arguments, for publication and otherwise, in dealing with Global Warming.
  • Began working, as part of a team effort, with members of Congress and state legislators to turn blog-developed Energize America concepts into actual legislative action.
  • Formed Energize America as a non-profit as part of our efforts working with Congress and others to develop innovative, holistic energy policies and legislation to support radical change in our energy picture.
  • And, … and otherwise.

Yet, while the failures were there, the to do list grows longer rather than dissipates, the need for action and real achievement intensifies.  There were failures, yet … In my life, I do not know if I have ever made a New Year’s Resolution with such import before last year.  And, I do not know if I’ve ever lived up to a New Year’s resolution so resolutely before.  Thus, at the dawning of a New Year, it is time to pen one’s hopes and plans for 2008.  For 2008, my New Year’s Resolution is clear. I pledge to continue to embrace DannyInLA’s challenge to CHALLENGE.  And, I pledge to.

Imagine Life Differently …Imagine it Better …


Seek to create that better life …

Join me in this pledge.

We can all help make America

Energy Smart.

Ask yourself:  

Are you doing your part to



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