Josh Skipworth: AFSC “Bird-dog” Training Video

Following up on the Jenna’s opinion piece published in the Press Citizen (previous post), here is a lightly edited video documenting the March 14 “Bird-dog” training session put on by CCL-Des Moines and featuring Josh Skipworth from the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). “Bird-dogging” refers to the persistent effort to get out to candidates events around the state, ask questions, and get the issue of climate change into the political debate.

Attend events, ask candidates about climate change

This guest opinion by Jenna Hammerich was published in the Iowa City Press Citizen on April 21.

CandidateVisitsmIowans have a unique opportunity to make our voices heard during the election season, thanks to our first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses. With floods and droughts ravaging the Midwest and California’s agricultural system on the brink of collapse, we must use this opportunity to put climate change at the top of every candidate’s political agenda.

How? Easy. Attend a candidate event and ask a climate change question. When candidates hear a chorus of questions and concerns about climate change, they’ll see that the issue is important to voters and make it a plank in their platforms.
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We can’t afford to delay Carbon Fee and Dividend

Peter Rolnick’s great letter to the editor In response to the Iowa City Press Citizen April 17, 2015 editorial posted below

I agree with the Press-Citizen’s excellent editorial supporting a Carbon Fee and Dividend. I’d like to clarify three misunderstandings.

One, the editorial says “great debate exists as to whether (climate change is) a man-made or natural phenomenon.” That climate change now happening is a result of human activity has been known for years, and is overwhelmingly supported by countless peer-reviewed scientific studies — there is no debate among scientists.

Two, the editorial says “passage of the Carbon Fee and Dividend … might result in very slow change on our climate.” In fact, Regional Economic Modeling, Inc., a non-partisan economic modeling organization, modeled the scenario outlined in the editorial, and showed that, if started in 2016, it will result in a 33 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions in 10 years.

Three, the editorial suggests that climate activists put more effort into preparing ourselves “for the inevitable, so to speak.” The inevitable if we do enact Carbon Fee and Dividend is not pretty, and yes, we should be preparing. The inevitable if we don’t enact a carbon fee soon goes way beyond anything we can prepare for — to think that we can adapt to a temperature increase of 6 degrees or more (which is where we are heading with “business as usual” — think NYC, Miami and New Orleans uninhabitable due to sea level rise) is dangerously misleading.

Peter Rolnick

Iowa City

Iowa City Press Citizen: Support carbon fee to help end climate change

PressCitizenThis editorial appeared in the Iowa City Press Citizen as a result of our meeting with the PC Editorial Board on April 8.

Wednesday is Earth Day, a day that marks the start of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

Of today’s pressing environmental issues — and there are many — the national Citizens’ Climate Lobby group is attempting to garner momentum, support and action on the issue of climate change. CCL is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grass-roots advocacy organization focused on national policies to address climate change. Their goal is to effect change on a broader scale, they say, by doing more than getting individuals to switch to CFL light bulbs.

CCL, which has 257 chapters including Iowa City’s own Climate Advocates group, aims to make climate change part of the political discourse, especially during the upcoming caucus and presidential campaign season. They urge regular citizens to ask candidates a question as simple as “What are you going to do about climate change?”

On a grander scale, this group is lobbying for passage of the Carbon Fee and Dividend, a fee assessed to companies that extract fossil fuels from the earth. The fee would be based on the amount of carbon in a fossil fuel, such as oil, gas or coal.
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Iowa, The United Nations, and Climate Change

JC Forum flyer final
The Iowa United Nations Association announces a community forum to be held Saturday, April 18, 9:30 AM – 2:30 PM at the University Club, 1360 Melrose Avenue, Iowa City, “Iowa, The United Nations, and Climate Change” More information is available at

If you are interested in participating as a panelist on Citizen Activism, please send email to:

Beyond the Anthropocene

Come to the Englert Theatre, Douglas and Linda Paul Gallery (second floor), this Friday, January 30, 5-7 PM for the opening reception of “Beyond the Anthropocene.” This exhibit is a preliminary appetizer for the upcoming Obermann Humanities Symposium “Energy Cultures in the Age of the Anthropocene,” to be held March 5 – 7.

The photographs will be up from January 30 – March 13, but you only get the music and readings to go along with them this Friday.


Tracking the Candidates: Iowa Presidential Caucus 2016

Screen Shot 2015-01-17 at 9.13.40 AMThe American Friends Service Committee has put together a website called “Governing Under the Influence” to track the influence of corporate money in politics. On this site is a database of upcoming candidate appearances in Iowa and New Hampshire. This resource will be invaluable as we try to shape the public dialogue surrounding the upcoming caucus season.