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The Planet
Clubbeat: Apocalypse, Evolution, Corruption, and Heroism

The Day After ‘The Day After’: "The Day After Tomorrow," the apocalyptic film in which an ice age slams New York City practically overnight, is over the top with its depiction of global warming. But that didn’t mean the Sierra Club couldn’t seize the opportunity to launch a discussion about the real science and politics of global climate change.

In Boston, Club organizer Jeremy Marin reports that chapter volunteers engaged in street theater on opening night, with appearances by Larry the Light Bulb Guy, who wore a helmet with a compact fluorescent bulb that lit up, and Percy (short for Perspiration) the Polar Bear, who carried a sign that read, "Homeless and hungry due to global warming."

Sheila Scanlon, a teacher in Gilbert, Arizona, plans to use the movie in her high school classes to elevate public awareness of global warming. "The filmmakers got the science wrong, but they did a good job setting the stage," Scanlon says. She plans to show her students the movie and then have them critique it for accuracy. "I’ll clean up the fuzzy science later, but I’m thrilled that my students—future voters—will be informed on the facts so they can deal with this important topic at the ballot box."

"The real fiction about global warming is coming from the Bush administration," says Dan Becker, director of the Club’s Global Warming program. To find out how you can put the heat on the Bush administration, go to sierraclub.org/globalwarming/day_after.

Road Trip, Part 1—One If By Land, Two If By Hybrid: The Sierra Club is playing Paul Revere this summer, kicking off its "I Will Evolve" Hybrid Evolution campaign with organizers driving a Toyota Prius from town to town giving people a chance to get behind the wheel.

"Evolution means getting better," says Brendan Bell, one of the campaign leaders. "Fish evolved gills. Birds got wings. We need to produce energy without destroying the planet." On Memorial Day, drivers started from Key West en route to Portland, Maine, and Chicago to Los Angeles. One set of drivers took the Prius, another drove a Ford Escape, and they’re calculating relative gas mileage and pollution output. To learn more, check out iwillevolve.org.

Road Trip, Part 2—Chasing Reggie the Rig: The "I Will Evolve" folks aren’t the only one taking a hybrid on the road. Sierra Student Coalition members Meighan Davis, Paul Dana, and Katya Hafich are taking turns behind the wheel of Heidi the Hybrid and following "Reggie the Registration Rig," the Republican National Committee’s 18-wheeler. So far, their adventures have taken them to a "Smackdown Your Vote" event at a wrestling arena and a meetup with RNC Chairman Ed GIllepsie. To read their dispatches from the road, see sierraclub.org/roadtrip/heidi.

Expletive Deleted: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has thus far refused to refund any of the $9 billion reaped by energy companies during California’s 2000-01 energy crisis, but newly released documents and tapes of Enron energy traders "in action" may change that.

One videotape aired by CBS News in early June showed an Enron trader saying, "Burn, baby, burn. That’s a beautiful thing," as he watched coverage of a fire destroying a Southern California power plant. Another tape showed a trader praising a colleague for having "f——d California," and yet another showed two traders reveling in the "poor grandmothers" who had exorbitant power rates "jammed right up their a—."

Even more damning (if such thing is possible), in a taped phone call an Enron trader boasted about artificially creating congestion on California’s electricity transmission lines to drive up power prices. "If the line’s not congested then I just look if I can congest it. If you can congest it, that’s a money-maker no matter what." In another, a trader tells a colleague: "Tell you what—you heard this here first—when Bush wins, that [expletive] (former energy secretary) Bill Richardson is gone….Ken Lay’s going to be secretary of energy."

Daltons Honored: Longtime Sierra Club leaders Harry and ‘Becca Dalton of Rock Hill, South Carolina, were honored in Columbia this spring for "Lifetime Achievement" in protecting the environment. The couple met with Governor Mark Sanford, who signed a declaration proclaiming April 22-29 "Sierra Club Awareness Week," and exhorted "all South Carolinians to learn about the benefits of responsible sustainable growth that encourages the preservation of our natural ecosystems." Harry Dalton, a retired industrialist who has held numerous Sierra Club leadership positions, credited ‘Becca with being his "environmental conscience."

Got a noteworthy tidbit about a club member? Let us know at planet@sierraclub.org.


—Tom Valtin and john Byrne Barry




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