Working towards peace and sustainability

Count it All Joy!

Note the following is a personal message from Peaceworks Director Mark Haim

We rally. We march. We walk. We vigil. We demonstrate. We cry out and often it seems no one is listening.

We grieve. We see the violence; the injustice; the fires; the floods; the dislocation; the extinctions; and we cry out, even when it seems our voices have been silenced. As Dylan put it 60 years ago, “I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken”

Truth be told, while our situation is likely worse than many think, our power to make change is far greater than most of us realize. Those who profit from business as usual remain in charge as long as they can keep most of us distracted, divided, disempowered.

My first march or large demonstration was an anti-war gathering that took place in New York City. On April 15, 1967, 400,000 of us gathered in Central Park and marched to the United Nations (see picture below). I was a senior in high school. While I’d already joined picket lines on a few occasions, this was something new and very different.

We were a generation coming of age. We sought a just, peaceful, caring future, but were being handed instead, as Dr. King put it, “a bad check,” and for many of us, along with it, a draft notice. We or our peers were being sent off to the jungles of Southeast Asia, to risk their own lives, to destroy the lives of millions who meant us no harm.

For those of us who were becoming aware of the insanity of the system, gatherings such as this, organized by the Fifth Avenue Peace Parade, gave us a powerful shot of solidarity. Although millions were still going ’round with blinders on—oblivious—there was a culture of resistance growing. We were something new, saying “no” to the system and pressing forward, insisting on peace, justice and a livable future.


“Mark,” you might say, “What’s this got to do with our present situation? It’s 2023, not 1967. What’s this go to do with our current predicament?” My answer is, “Plenty!”

As we prepare to Rally and Walk for the Climate, we are approaching the end of the hottest summer on record. All around the world, humanity is living through unprecedented numbers of extreme weather events. This is truly a Climate Emergency but, the politicians, who could address the crisis, fiddle while the planet burns. And it’s the fossil fuel industry that calls the tunes they play.

Millions of us, young and old recognize the urgent need for action, but, again, the sense of disempowerment holds many of us back. And the doubts many feel as to the value of joining a rally or a climate walk, become self-fulfilling prophecy. Expecting no good to come of it, many feel “why bother?” and when our numbers are small, our impact is less than we hoped and this leads, in turn, to fewer participating.

The reverse, however, is also possible. If even a tiny fraction of those concerned about the climate join in an event like this, the impact will be significant. And, small successes create a sense of empowerment that allows us to leverage even greater successes moving forward.

Why can’t CoMo have 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030? Why not a requirement that all rental properties meet minimum efficiency standards? Shouldn’t we have curbside recycling pick-up back? What about a no-idling ordinance? Fair electric and water rates? The list goes on and getting action on the municipal level is just the tip of the iceberg.

Just as I discovered, some 56 years ago, demonstrations, marches and the like not only hold the potential to create the pressure to enact policies (and ultimately created a climate in which Nixon had to end the war), they also build a shared sense of movement. We are, indeed, a movement for survival; a movement for climate justice; a movement that understands the interconnectedness of climate action and peace action and action for social, racial and economic justice; a movement that unites and empowers us.

And, again, as I discovered, there is joy in this solidarity. It feels good. Sharing the company of dozens, if not hundreds of caring, likeminded people lifts us up. So, bring a friend, a lover, a parent, a child, a neighbor, a co-worker, a fellow student, a member of your house of worship—all are welcome and, if you have no one to come with, bring yourself and meet some wonderful folks when you arrive. Join in the welcoming embrace of some of the nicest people in our community. And, as the singer-songwriter Charlie King puts it, “Count it All Joy!”

Charlie wrote:

“I’d like to sing a song tonight for those with unsung names,
Who face with common decency a world gone insane.
You may think you’re living thankless lives,
But you’re the reason we’re survivin’
So, count it all joy all the same.”

Note: The Walk for the Climate will be held Sunday, Sept. 10. We gather between 1-1:30 p.m. at Courthouse Plaza, 8th & Walnut in downtown CoMo. After a short rally, our 5K walk begins at 2 p.m. Join us for whatever portion of the event you can.

Dangers of Trumpism


Donald Trump may speak in incoherent pseudo-sen­tences that go on and on, never quite reaching completion, let alone a point. You may question how anyone can believe he’s sincere when his primary objective seems to be profess­ing his self-declared greatness. Yet, many people love him. To those people, he represents the strong man who tells the truth, who’s not afraid to be mean, who won’t stand for the libs and their wokeness.

And thanks to a successful propaganda campaign by Trump and conservative media, three of every four Republicans now believe the conspiracy theory that Trump won the 2020 election and nearly half approve of the Capitol riots. Recently, Trump was indicted on several counts, yet his people either don’t believe it or excuse it as a witch hunt.

“Donald Trump has conditioned … a pretty serious majority of the Republican base to believe that any legal critique of him, any external charge made against him is invalid and a product of the ‘deep state’ or a conspiracy of some kind to take him away from Republican voters,” said Rick Wilson, co-founder of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project in a recent interview with CNN. “And … when you accuse Donald Trump of being a criminal, even with all the evidence in the world, their response is, ‘No, he’s not. You’re the one who’s doing this.’”

And it’s not just his base; his Republican colleagues and even primary opponents have either defended him or been silent on the recent indictments. Because to challenge Trump is to put oneself on the chopping block, and no one wants to do that. Such is the power of Trumpism.

What is Trumpism?

According to Open Democracy, “Trumpism is the extreme far-right ideology that attacks democracy and normalizes violence against progressive agendas and liberal cultures, while promoting full market deregulation.”

For the purposes of this article, we’ll say Trumpism is the set of political ideologies, style of governance, programs, policies and beliefs held by, implemented by, or promoted by Donald Trump and his supporters in order to gain and keep control of power.

These are some of the ideas associated with Trumpism: Nationalism, nativism, social conservatism, extremism, polarization, gun violence, brainwashing, conspiracies, white supremacy, anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-trans, homophobia, neo-nationalism, climate change denial, religious bigots, reli­gious zealots, disenfranchisement, extreme gerrymandering, and much more.

Trump’s core constituency is clear: Republican whites, particularly men, and especially those who didn’t go to col­lege. Many of these Trumpists feel aggrieved by the global­ization of manufacturing, the advancement of civil rights for people of color and LGBTQ folks, and the rise in ethnic diversity of our populace. They found in Donald Trump a kindred spirit, one who would not just tolerate their hatred of marginalized groups, but also encourage it, under the guise of freedom of speech.

A component of Trumpism (and a reason so many stand by Trump) is his ability to convey shared grievances to his supporters. Trumpism only works if there’s a sense of being constantly under attack, and being the underdog in that attack, even when reality is quite different. Defensiveness is the implicit justification for everything else. (You don’t have a job? It’s because of immigrants. Democrats want open borders. Your kid goes to school with gender-nonconforming students? Your religious freedom is being trampled, etc.) Trump is a marvelous liar and truth-stretcher, and his base loves the idea of finally “owning the libs” after decades of enduring political correctness.

Here’s what happened while Trump was in office:

As president, Trump pursued sizable income tax cuts (benefiting mostly the wealthy), corporate deregulation, increased military spending, rollbacks of federal healthcare protections, and the appointment of conservative judges consistent with conservative policies. He minimized the separation of church and state by assuring white Christian nationalist evangelicals that he would embrace their agenda.

He also oversaw building or expanding a border wall, separating immigrant children from their parents, imposed tough new immigration restrictions, and a ban on immigrants from specific (Muslim) countries. He ignored Black Lives Matter concerns in favor of a militarized police response. He oversaw a pandemic in which a million people lost their lives, millions more were negatively impacted by an economic recession, and he discredited scientists working on solutions by promoting conspiracy theories.

In addition, he approved gas and oil pipelines, removed protections from federal lands, cut environmental regulations, and backed out of the Paris international climate change accord. He also buddied up with Israel and launched a trade dispute with China.

Under Trump we saw real harm done, especially to marginalized minority groups and low-income people. And even without Trump in power, his influence lives on in the form of extreme policies designed to further a right-wing agenda rooted in racial and religious bigotry.

Following his presidency, and perhaps as a result of what they perceive as Democrats gunning for Trump, state legislators across the country enacted ultra-conservative policies targeting some of our most vulnerable populations: transgender people and women in general. For those of us in states with conservative legislatures, the effect has been a devastating reduction or elimination of our civil rights.

This onslaught is not likely to let up any time soon, especially if we watch passively. The danger will not resolve itself. It will take many of us calling out racism, homophobia, bigotry, misogyny and other forms of discrimination in our government and in our communities. It will take many of us standing up to corporate polluters and climate deniers. It will take many of us working together to create a better world.

Climate Emergency—For Real!


As we write this, new records are being set daily. Sci­entists tell us the Earth is hotter now than any time in the last 125,000 years; this according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). For the whole planet, July was the hottest month observed since we be­gan keeping records.

Intense heat is no fun, in fact it can be deadly. It’s not just hot, however. We’re living through extreme flooding, unprecedented wildfires, severe droughts, crop failures and famine, melting ice, rising seas, skyrocketing rates of extinction, and forecasts as mind boggling as the poten­tial shutdown of the Gulf Stream current in the Atlan­tic. The impacts are global, but sadly, many fiddle, while the planet burns.

What’s needed, of course, is the peaceful, planet-saving equivalent of what our nation did after Pearl Harbor. In a matter of months, factories that had been producing cars and washing machines were making tanks and artillery; not to mention the Manhattan Project which, in just three years, invented and produced the first atom bombs. Declaring a climate emergency would enable a response commensu­rate with the challenge we are facing.

Understanding the Challenge

After decades of denial and delay, it’s no surprise that many in decision-making positions, including both Rs and Ds here in the U.S., are failing miserably when it comes to providing climate leadership.

Many are still in denial, while others acknowledge the problem, but are slow-walking the sort of action required to address this urgent, existential threat. And some have embraced a new favorite of the fossil fuel industry. They posit we can solve climate change via a technological solution—most likely carbon capture and storage (CCS)—despite its energy intensivity, prohibitive cost, questionable effectiveness and safety risks.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s leading scientific organization address­ing climate concerns, has warned us over and over again about the urgency in taking action now. Their cries for action include imploring us to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emission in half this decade. Many think this would be too little, too late.

That said, Columbia is a progressive city, and we have a Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP), so we’re doing OK, right? No, in fact not even close. Our CAAP was not ambitious enough to begin with. It calls for a 35 percent reduction by 2035. And, how are we doing toward meeting this goal? The City’s inventory of GHG emissions shows that we’ve managed to reduce emissions by 3.1 per­cent over the past seven years. At that rate … Yeah, you get the picture.

And the state of Missouri is politically in the hands of deniers. Our Governor, Mike Parson, seems to think if we ignore it, it will go away. Try Googling his name and cli­mate. You’ll find virtually nothing. Try searching his State of the State speech text. Again, nada.

On the Federal level, things are only a little better. While President Joe Biden talks the talk on climate, calling it an existential threat, his actions belie his words. His energy policy seems to be an updated ver­sion of Barack Obama’s “All of the Above” non-strategy.

Biden, who had promised not to, has been opening federal lands to drilling for fossil fuels. He’s green-lighted new pipelines and has been championing the use of meth­ane, referred to generally as natural gas. He has embraced the export of compressed natural gas (CNG) and support­ed building new gas export terminals.

While methane produces more energy per unit of fuel burned than coal, and contains less of what dirties our air, it tends to leak and it is a very potent GHG. So, we really can’t afford to ramp up natural gas usage.

But the myth of clean gas lingers, and this allows the fossil fuel industry to push for permits to build new pipelines and other oil and gas infrastructure, knowing full well that they will only make the investments of billions of dollars if they will use it for multiple decades, which is much later than the scientists tell us fossil fuels must be fully phased out.

Climate Emergency 101

The Center for Biological Diversity has taken the lead in advocating for a national climate emergency. They point out that, under several statutes, President Biden has the ability to take actions that would really move the needle on climate; and they can do this without any input from Congress. Their website provides in-depth information on this subject at: https://tinyurl.com/ClimatePrez. Here’s an outline laying out these powers:
Presidential Powers Under the Na­tional Emergencies Act, the Defense Production Act and the Stafford Act:

1. Ban Crude Oil Exports

2. Stop Oil and Gas Drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf

3. Curtail International Trade and Investment in Fossil Fuels

4. Grow Domestic Green Manufac­turing to Speed the Nationwide Trans­formation to Clean Energy and Transpor­tation

5. Direct FEMA to Construct Climate-Re­silient Energy Systems in Frontline Communities

While these are all important powers that we would love to see Pres­ident Biden invoke to reduce emis­sions, an equally critical action that Biden could take, if he’d really like to be a Climate President would be to use the bully pulpit to build a broad social consensus that it is urgent for all of us to take the climate crisis seriously.

We would encourage him to take the appeal for personal action to re­duce carbon footprints to the Ameri­can people, as well as to build popular support for challenging the corporate polluters, insisting that they stop their incessant attack on the climate, and partake, instead, in a collaborative effort to create a much greener, cli­mate-friendly future.

Localize It

While Biden can declare an emer­gency for the entire country, our city councils can take action on the local level. Here in CoMo, there are nu­merous issues that seem to be getting a business as usual response, when we really should be breaking the glass and putting that fire extinguisher to good use.

While we don’t have space here for a comprehensive list, a few items that could be on our agenda include: 100 percent renewable electricity from Columbia W&L by 2030 at the latest; rate structures for electricity, water and trash that strongly incentivize efficiency and conservation; building codes that require efficiency retro­fits for owner-occupied and rental housing; expanding loan and rebate programs for residential efficien­cy; requiring, wherever feasible, for new housing to include solar electric systems; restoring, ASAP, curbside recycling; making recycling man­datory, at least for aluminum; limit vehicular idling to 30 seconds; create incentives for infill development and disincentives for sprawl; invest in the creation of Class 1 bikeways parallel to routes that currently have too much traffic for safe cycling; updating the CAAP to reflect the current scientific consensus that emissions must be cut in half this decade and zeroed out by 2050; and divest any city funds, including pension plans, that are cur­rently invested in fossil fuels.

We need community leaders, including elected officials, academics, clergy, sustainable business leaders, activists of many stripes, and others to promote a powerful community response to the climate emergency. And, we need you, dear reader, to press forward to get Columbia, as well as other cities and towns in the area to recognize the emergency we’re facing and act to address it.