They are usually there for two hours, but four o’clock came and went, as did six, and eight, and ten pm. According to a sign posted on the traffic light pole, they were there for “24 hours, because Global Warming is 24 Hours a Day.” Flo and Vera, two vibrant elders at 90 and 79 years, stayed late into the evening, enjoying the music. Flo, as usual, singing softly of peace and justice.
During the night friends and fellow activists came by to hang out, and local folks stopped to learn more and add their own ideas and opinions to the mix, and participated in the programmed events. Anne Porter of NELA Move to Amend lead a discussion on “Psychopaths in High Places.” Our local icon of street music, Dan the Guitar Man, and Harmonica Joe played a rousing forty minute set and stayed to talk about local politics, City Council, Neighborhood Councils, “what is to be done?” Regular protester Gabriel filled the air with his trumpet music until a neighbor politely asked him to stop for the night.
To address alternatives to dirty energy and transportation they watched “Monorail: The Intelligent Alternative” (produced by The Monorail Society) which makes a compelling case that monorails are, in fact, far more flexible; cost-effective; popular; practical; aesthetically-pleasing; and safer, than light rail systems.
NELA Rad believes that human activity, especially the burning of oil and coal for agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, and electricity, are the main causes of the current global warming crisis, and the chaotic weather systems which have caused drought, flooding, and fires all over the planet.
In assessing the circumstances of global warming they make connections between various issues. For instance, they point out that according to Derrick Jensen, environmental researcher and activist, if we all did all the conserving we could on a personal level, changing light bulbs, using re useable bags, bicycling, bussing, reduce-reuse-and-recycling, we could only affect about 22% of our country’s energy usage. Conversely, our military actions use about half of our oil expenditures.
A key point is that the earth’s overall ecosystem functions well with 350 or fewer parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide or CO2 is produced by plants, humans, rotting vegetation, and especially the burning of fossil fuels. Alarmingly, CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere is currently at 400ppm, having risen from 382ppm over the past four years, and continues to rise.
Discussing alternative energy, it was noted that solar, wind, and ocean based hydro-electric plants account for not quite 2% of our current energy sources. While a massive reconfiguration of our energy system seems to be in order, the decision makers, governments and corporations, are disinclined to shift resources in that direction, ever citing the implausibility based solely on the monetary costs.
Another discussion focused on the 2003 the pentagon prediction that global warming would likely cause “massive die-offs (of people) in our cities due to starvation, a result of failing crops. The time line for the start of this devastation was, based on the rate of climate change ten years ago, 2015-2020. Since then the effects of global warming have snowballed and accelerated well beyond their “worst case scenarios.” It was also noted that the pentagon report offered no remedies for this situation. Other discussions included living locally, local food production, and the impact of global warming on employment and health.
When asked why they were doing this they said they cannot in good conscience let their neighbors ignore global warming, “World isn't proceeding normally, so we cannot proceed normally.” After 24 hours NELA Rad felt they had accomplished something. In addition to the program and conversations, they met and talked to people during the night whom they would not have met during their usual 4-6pm vigil.
As part of the “Sponsor a Vigiler” program, (donating $1, $2, or $3 per hour towards an environmental project in honor of a specific vigiler’s commitment) Ross raised money for “www.haitiemergencyrelief.org” an all volunteer Haitian group which helps survivors of the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti 3½ years ago.
NELA Rad is a small but dedicated group of community activists who first came together nearly 11 years ago to oppose the then impending invasion of Iraq. They have since raised awareness regarding many interrelated issues, which are affected by our priorities as a society. These include: education, healthcare, housing, worker rights, global warming, peak oil, truth in the media, peace through justice, democracy, human rights, economic justice, population, health and healthcare.
While they are on the same corner every Saturday, on the second Saturday of each month they focus on environmental issues.
On September 21, in coordination with 350.org they hosted a “Draw the Line” event to protest the Keystone XL Pipeline. About 35 people from all over North East Los Angeles (NELA) converged on the corner to gather signatures to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline. This pipeline would carry one of the dirtiest fossil fuels, “tarsands” oil, from Canada, through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. It would threaten sacred lands, delicate eco systems, precious farmland, and the health of communities along the entire route.
This action, one of over 200 similar actions across the country, was a cooperative effort by local activist groups; North East Los Angeles Radical Neighbors for Peace through Justice (NELA Rad), Tar Sands Action SoCal, and SoCal Climate Action Coalition 350, and in conjunction with word wide global warming education and action campaign: 350.org.
For more information about NELA Rad please call (323) 813-1843, or email NELARad@sbcglobal.net
Photo by Norm Anderson.
Motorists continued passing all night and read our signs. Photo by Norm Anderson.
Photo by Norm Anderson.
Photo by Pearl Anderson.