Mid-Missouri

Peaceworks

Working towards peace and sustainability

Peaceworks Truly Needs--and Values--Your Support.

Peaceworks is able to do all you see above, and lots more, primarily due to the active participation of community members. It does, however, take financial support to keep our boat afloat and during this, the closing quarter of the year, we are aiming to raise $30K. To do this will take the generous support of a couple of hundred of our supporters. So, we are asking today for your support.

To learn more, we invite you to CLICK HERE.

To donate securely on-line CLICK HERE.

Or, if you'd rather you can mail your donation to Mid-Missouri Peaceworks, 804 E. Broadway Ste. C, Columbia, MO 65201.

If you'd like to print and fill out a coupon, you can CLICK HERE.

You can also bring your donation to the Peace Nook or call in a donation by calling us at 573-875-0539.

However you give, we really appreciate your support. Your donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.

Support the CoMo CAAP/Responses to Critics


On Monday, June 17 the Columbia City Council will take an historic vote, hopefully adopting the Columbia Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP). Peaceworks encourages members and supporters to attend the Council meeting that evening and to contact your councilperson and the mayor prior to the meeting to share your thoughts on the CAAP.

So far most reactions to the CAAP have been positive and we are hopeful that the Plan will be passed unanimously. We have heard a very modest number of objections or concerns. We’d like to respond to those concerns, but first a little on what the CAAP is and what it is not.

Columbia’s CAAP is a general roadmap to a carbon-neutral future. Drafted as the result of a two-year process with ample opportunities for public input, the plan lays out many steps and broader strategies to achieve net carbon neutrality for the community at large by 2060 and net carbon neutrality for city operations by 2050. The CAAP includes interim targets for the community of reductions from a 2015 baseline of 35 percent by 2035 and 80 percent by 2050. It also calls for a 50 percent reduction in emissions from city operations by 2035.

The CAAP includes sections dealing with energy, housing, transportation, waste, health/safety and natural resources. It includes what are considered Cross-Cutting Strategies and Actions, as well as Sector Specific Strategies and Actions. We encourage everyone to access the CAAP draft on-line.

The CAAP does not enact the needed changes, but rather lays out a general path to get from here to there. Any changes that would be made in city operations or requirements (e.g. changes in building codes, W&L operations, mass transit, etc.) would be done at a later date with input from citizens and action by the Council required.

Framers of the CAAP have done extensive research as to our current situation here in CoMo and also have looked closely to see what other cities have done. The result is a very deliberate, flexible and incremental approach. Some may fault the CAAP for not being ambitious enough, but, given the magnitude of the crisis we face, few would think it too bold.

This said, there are some critics, and some of the concerns they’re raising are due to misinformation or misinterpretation of the facts. So, let us respond:

Climate Change is Real and a Very Real Threat:  There is a broad, international scientific consensus based upon both an understanding of physics and the analysis of data scientifically collected, that the planet is warming and, with this warming is coming significant climatic changes including more extreme weather events (super storms, floods, droughts, etc.) that are causing serious dislocation, damages, crop failures, fires, loss of human life and limb, loss of habitat, species extinction, climate refugees, etc.

Those who deny the reality of these readily observable phenomena are disputing the conclusions reached by virtually every major scientific organization here in the U.S. and around the world, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. They are also denying the conclusions of the National Climate Assessment conducted under the Trump administration.

How Much Warming: Some critics have made claims that we don’t have to worry (or take action) because the world is actually cooling. There is no basis for these claims.  While the National Climate Assessment projects the average increase in temperature by the year 2100 range from 1.5-4.5 degrees Celsius (2.7-8.1 degrees Fahrenheit), the former assumes that immediate and bold action is taken to limit and eliminate emissions, while the latter assumes business as usual.

The implications of the high-end scenarios are truly unthinkable, and it is therefore incumbent upon us in Columbia to join people of conscience everywhere who are taking action to effectively address the crisis.
The Cost of the CAAP:  A major objection raised by CAAP opponents is that effective climate action will be costly. There are two major flaws in these assertions. First of all, they fail to recognize that many of the actions the CAAP calls for will have both costs and savings.

For example, if a house, apartment or other structure has an energy efficiency upgrade, there will be an initial cost and then there will be significant savings in future utility costs, as it will take less energy to heat, cool and otherwise operate the building. Most retrofits pay back the investment in six years or less, which means a 16 percent or better annual return on the investment. And these upgrades generally continue to return such savings for decades to come, long after the initial investment is repaid.

The other flaw is the failure to recognize the existence of very significant costs attributable to our use of fossil fuels that are currently “externalized.” Cost externalities are generally recognized by economists as a major source of market failure. These are costs that are real, but are not included in the prices we pay.

In this case burning fossil fuels pollutes our air and water, significantly impacts the health of our population, and alters our climate, all of which lead to serious costs to society, both today and in the future. But these costs are not currently incorporated into the price of the fuels we purchase. The costs of actions called for in the CAAP will be, in general, more than offset by savings to society at large.

The bottom line on cost is yes, it will cost to mitigate and adapt to climate change, but it will cost even more not to take effective action now.

Costs & Benefits of Home Energy Upgrades:  Some have raised concerns about the cost impact of weatherization and other home energy improvements. According to the Missouri Division of Energy in the Department of Economic Development, following weatherization improvements to a home, on average the occupant will save $435 annually on their energy bills. Additionally, a study done by the C40 association of cities found that even the lowest income quintile was able to increase their disposable income (income after taxes) by 3.1 percent after energy efficiency improvements to their residence.  

Solar and Wind:  Opponents question whether we can meet our energy needs relying primarily on solar and wind power. There is a natural variation in the availability and intensity of these sources, but these are predictable, and, through a combination of wheeling power over the grid, installing storage, and load shifting, we can have a 100 percent renewable electric utility within the CAAP timeline.

Cost of Renewables:  Some opponents have asserted that renewable energy is too expensive. While we understand concerns about costs, the trends are all pointing in favor of renewables. In an article published in Forbes on May 29, 2019, it was reported that “The cost of renewable energy has tumbled even further over the past year, to the point where almost every source of green energy can now compete on cost with oil, coal and gas-fired power plants, according to new data released today.” The article references a study Renewable Power Generation Costs, released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), an inter-governmental body with around 160 members.

Some opponents have cited studies that looked at past costs, but these costs have declined significantly. Columbia Water and Light is already paying significantly less for renewables than it did previously. Purchased wind power is costing our utility less than half the price of coal-generated purchased power, while solar is marginally cheaper than coal, but has the price locked in for 30 years, with no fuel costs.

Wind and Birds:  Some opponents of wind power have raised concerns regarding bird deaths from wind turbines. Of course, no one wants to see birds killed. The number of birds killed by wind generators, however, isdwarfed by those killed by cats, by moving vehicles, by birds flying into buildings and even by conventional power plants. If properly sited, wind generation is not a serious threat to birds, while climate change most definitely is. That’s why many conservation organizations, including most prominently the Audubon Society, which are deeply concerned about birds, are also strong supporters of wind-generated power.

Electric Vehicles:  Some opponents have pointed out that switching to electric vehicles will increase demand for electricity making a renewable energy future much more difficult to attain. What they fail to recognize is that savings from efficiency improvements will offset much of the increased transportation sector demand. Shifting from gasoline and diesel-fueled vehicles to EVs should not require any further reduction in demand for electricity from existing uses. If more electricity is needed, we will simply have to be purchasing more power from wind or solar generation to meet the vehicular demand.

Two pieces of good news: First, the cost of running an EV is a lot less than the cost of using gasoline or diesel. Second, our cars will be able to charge their batteries at times when power is readily available. This can be done overnight, using abundant wind at a time when other uses are low. It also can be done during the day while we’re at work, using solar power available to vehicles charging up in parking lots at our workplaces.

Roll Carts: While some are concerned about roll carts, which were mentioned as a possible option in the original draft. The proposal to use roll carts has been removed from the CAAP.

In closing we would like to thank our Mayor and City Council for having the vision to recognize the urgency of addressing climate change, as well as thank all on the city staff, the Mayor’s Task Force and all members of the public who participated in the process of drafting the CoMo CAAP. We look forward to its adoption and implementation.
Mayor's Climate Action & Adaptation Task Force. We thank them for their hard work to make the CAAP a reality.

Earth Day & Who’s Responsible for this Mess?

If there was no demand for the oil and gas produced by these deep-water drilling rigs, they, of course, would not be operated.

For the 30th consecutive year, Peaceworks is hard at work to put together Columbia’s annual Earth Day Festival. While many people love Earth Day, we also usually hear at least a little bit of grumbling from those who question the relevance of attempting to live more sustainably.

A refrain heard on more than one occasion is “We’re not going to save the world by taking shorter showers.” And, of course they’re correct. Eco-conscious folks simplifying their lives and reducing their impacts are not nearly sufficient. That said, such actions are necessary. They raise awareness and enhance the credibility of the messenger. More on this below.

First, here’s another example you may have seen on-line. In July 2017, the Guardian reported that “Just 100 companies have been the source of more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988, according to a new report.” Without really understanding what was being said, before long people were making memes like this:
This meme is worse than inaccurate, it's just plain wrong and should be called out as such.
While surely well-intentioned, what the meme-maker misses is the fact that those emissions are coming from burning the fuels those corporations are extracting. But the burning is going on in the homes, schools, businesses of consumers, in the power plants burning coal and gas to make electricity and in the various places where the goods we consume are produced.

That’s right, each of us who heats our home in the winter and cools it in the summer, runs appliances, drives cars and flies in planes, consumes food produced by mechanized agriculture and shipped to market, and buys various goods and services that are produced using fossil fuel energy is creating the demand for the fossil fuels these companies extract.

Now the Guardian, and the organization that produced the report understood this. The report author, Pedro Faria, makes it clear that the take home message isn’t that we’re not all responsible for the mess we’re in, but rather that “a relatively small set of fossil fuel producers may hold the key to systemic change on carbon emissions . . .”

So, how can we get these companies to stop producing fossil fuels and, instead, to provide clean, sustainable wind, solar and other renewables? Well, to get these highly profitable companies to stop what they’re making money hand over fist doing is no small feat. It takes political clout and that clout comes through educating, agitating and organizing on a scale akin to—or even greater than—that of the Labor Movement of the 1930s, the Civil Rights Movement of the 50s and 60s or the Peace Movement of the late 60s.

We, of course, have been working for years to develop such a movement and the glass is partly full. We still have quite a ways to go and the time to make the transition is short, so action now is essential.

We will gain clout through a variety of actions from demonstrations and direct actions to boycotts, divestment campaigns, lobbying, engaging in legal interventions, supporting or opposing candidates and, of course, continuously educating. And we’d make progress much faster if more of those now cheering us on would jump into the fray and make their voices heard.

The other piece of the puzzle is addressing our own carbon footprint. As noted above, public policy must be addressed, but taking some personal responsibility is also important. We say this for the following reasons:

  First we lead by example. If we want people to listen to us, change their ways and start being responsible, we are far more credible if we are walking our talk.

 Second, by being a visible role model we encourage others to take steps in a positive direction. If people see that we are enjoying the process of establishing creative, satisfying, sustainable lifestyles they are much more likely to begin the process themselves.

• Third, by demonstrating the feasibility and desirability of a low carbon lifestyle we encourage those who set public policy to recognize that these sorts of changes are good, are well received and will win them support.

  Finally, our collective impact is the sum of all our individual impacts. If we just reduce our personal greenhouse gas footprint we don’t solve the problem, but we do diminish, even if ever so slightly, the harm we collectively are inflicting on the planet.

So, Earth Day is really about both. It’s learning about opportunities to engage locally in essential activism and, at the same time learning to live in a more eco-conscious fashion. The two are not mutually exclusive, as some seem to think. Rather, they are complementary. So, come to Earth Day to learn, to renew your commitment, and also to celebrate the Earth. Hug a tree. Hug a fellow human. Embrace our collective creativity and capacity for change. Together we must rise to the occasion. And together we shall. Happy Earth Day y’all!
While we might not be "the enemy," we are, collectively, responsible for the harm being done to the planet and it is within our capacity to help heal the Earth. This can be done partially through individual action and also through political engagement to change public priorities and policies.

Trump’s Budget: What’s Wrong Here?


In March the Trump administration submitted their proposed Fiscal Year 2020 budget. It lays out their priorities. Peaceworks views their proposal as severely misdirected on multiple fronts.  We invite you to consider their FY20 proposal and our responses and make your own decisions. We also encourage you to make your concerns and preferences known to your U.S. rep and senators.

Social Security:

The Trump budget cuts Social Security by $25 billion over the next decade.

We Say: While this is a relatively minor cut, we need to strengthen, not cut, this critical social insurance program that virtually all retirees depend on. While the system is well funded over the next decade, for long-term sustainability, we should be lifting the cap that allows those with really large incomes to avoid paying their fair share.

Medicare:

Trump campaigned on not cutting this essential program, but is now seeking to cut $845 billion over the next decade.

We Say: This is a major cut and is unacceptable. We should, instead be pursuing Medicare for All, saving billions by removing the for-profit insurance companies, reining in the exorbitant prices that Big Pharma charges us, and gaining efficiency by establishing a single-payer system along the lines of the Canada’s.

Medicaid:

Trump also promised no cuts here, but is now proposing cuts of nearly $1.5 trillion over 10 years. This includes removing all who were added via the ACA Medicaid expansion.

We Say: Medicaid is an essential safety net program and should not be cut. It helps those who have no other way to pay for their healthcare. In addition to serving low-income people of all ages, Medicaid covers nursing home care for those who have no funds left to pay for it.

Environment and Energy:

Trump is proposing slashing the budgets of those agencies that work to address the climate crisis and other threats of our environment. The administration budget calls for a 31 percent cut in the $8.8 billion EPA budget. Likewise, it calls for a 25.4 percent cut in the $20.4 billion non-weapons portion of the Dept. of Energy budget.

We say:  Our security and our very survival depend on addressing the existential threat presented by the climate crisis. The Pentagon recognizes the threat and in their 2018 National Defense Strategy they state: “The effects of a changing climate are a national security issue . . .”

The National Climate Assessment, produced by hundreds of experts with input from 13 federal agencies on Trump’s watch, acknowledges that the climate is “changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization,” that its impacts are being felt and that they “are projected to intensify in the future—but the severity of future impacts will depend largely on actions taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions . . .”

The Trump administration, however, is AWOL; in denial. They are not only failing to address this critical concern, but are pursuing policies that, while they might increase short-run profits for the fossil fuel industry, seriously exacerbate the crisis.

To respond to these threats we need to equivalent of an Apollo Project. That’s exactly what a Green New Deal would be, the investment of hundreds of billions in both public and private funds each year to facilitate the transition to a socially just, sustainable, clean energy-fueled economy. 

Military Spending:

After dramatically increasing the military budget their first two years in office, the administration is back, asking for an additional $34 billion for FY20, an increase of 4.7 percent. This is double the increase the Pentagon had requested. The proposed budget includes a major increase in funds for Overseas Contingency Operations and $104 billion for military research and development. The latter includes hypersonic weapons, artificial intelligence systems (including cyber-warfare and automated battlefield weapons), and “space-based technologies.” They also call for funding a new, sixth branch of the military, a U.S. Space Force.

Trump is allocating $750 billion, 57 percent of the $1.3 trillion discretionary budget into the military and nuclear weapons. This does not include nearly $200 billion funding for Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, intelligence black budget, the State Dept. and international affairs, all of which are part of the national security state. Nor does it include servicing the debt, much of which was incurred through the bloated military spending of past years. When all this is put together, the cost of present, past and future wars incurred this year alone would be well more than a trillion dollars.

We Say:  The military budget should be pruned, not expanded. If Trump’s budget was passed, the U.S. would be spending as much on our military as the 2018 military spending of the next 14 countries combined—China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, India, Britain, France, Japan, Germany, South Korea, Brazil, Australia, Italy, Israel and Iraq. Note that most of these countries are U.S. allies.

Peaceworks opposes a new nuclear arms race. We oppose the weaponization of space. And we support efforts to move toward mutual, verifiable, incremental and universal disarmament. As the nation with the world’s largest military and the track record of being most militarily aggressive, it behooves us to take the lead in moving forward an international system based upon mutual security and the conversion of militaries into defensive, rather than offensive forces during the transition to a world at peace.

Other Cuts:

The administration is proposing cutting almost every other department, in many cases, making very dramatic cuts. These include a 22 percent cut in spending on transportation, a 16 percent cut in affordable housing, a 23 percent cut to the State Department, a 12 percent cut to the Dept. of Education, a 10 percent cut in the Labor Dept. and the list goes on. It also includes a ten-year cut of $220 billion to Food Stamps (SNAP).

We say: Spending on people is more an investment than an expense. A population that has the opportunity to obtain quality education, access to what’s needed to foster good health and to be productive members of our society increases our productivity and makes for a higher quality of life for all of us. Programs such as these benefit society at large, and each of us, directly or indirectly.

The Border:

One other area the Trump administration is aiming to increase funding is border security. They are proposing to spend $8.6 billion in FY20 just on construction of the Trump border wall. This is in addition to funds being spent on agents, technology, incarceration and transportation of migrants and refugees, etc.

We say: We would rather see a Marshall Program for Central America that would address the grinding poverty and violence that is leading to tens of thousands of people to flee each month. A wall will not effectively stop the flow of people headed north. Changing conditions in their countries of origin will. 

Priorities:

Donald Trump claims to be putting America First, but, in fact, he’s putting corporate America and the uber-wealthy first and then aiming to divide and dominate the working people of this country. Peaceworks prioritizes peace, justice and sustainability. We see a positive role for our government to play in leveling the playing field and ensuring abundant opportunity for all, as well as a robust safety net that won’t allow millions of us to fall through and end up in desperate situations. We also recognize that to effectively address the climate crisis we need our federal government to make this a top national security priority.

If you agree with our priorities, we strongly urge you to make your voice heard. We also invite your active participation in our work. Please contact us if you’d like to learn more regarding getting involved. We can be reached via mail@midmopeaceworks.org or 573-875-0539.