RPA Activist Info Masthead
Issue: #105 March 5, 2012
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Facebook: Richmond Progressive Alliance   

Chevron Fire Community Meeting
Dolores Huerta at Sisters in Solidarity
Black History: Honoring Bowens and Jackson
Global Warming Terrifying Math
Patient Safety Richmond Book Party
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Progressive Office
1021 Macdonald, 510-412-2260


Since we don't take corporate money,  our success depends on our ability to use "people power" to promote activities and programs in Richmond. The RPA Activist is one tool we use to put out our ideas. One simple thing that YOU can do is to forward the RPA Activist to friends and acquaintances. Thanks.


Community Meeting
The Chevron Fire,  OSHA Findings of Negligence, CSB  Findings on Causes

What should be done to make RChevron Fireichmond Safe?

At the large community meeting on February 27, a panel presented details on the causes of the Chevron Fire.  The media had published some of these, including the more than 20 "willful" safety violations charged by the State Occupational Safety and and Health Administration.

Union leaders representing workers at the Richmond refinery provided some less-known information. Leaders of the United Steel Workers described situations where workers had asked for dangerous conditions to be fixed but were ignored.

Panel Many speakers pointed out that right now the refinery is run with the priority of increasing profits sometimes at the expense of safety. One example was the decision to try to repair the initial leak without shutting the operation down.  The only way that we can be assured that we will get as safe an operation as possible is if the city uses its "permitting authority" to require safe operation.  And the only way we will get the city to do that is if we have elected leaders who are not in the pockets of Chevron. 

The meeting was sponsored by a Collaborative  including
Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), United Steelworkers (Chevron Workers), Blue-Green Alliance, and supported by the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) and many others.

The groups are planning other activities to provide information to Richmond residents and state legislators on safety problems at the refinery.

Saturday, March 9, 10 am - 3 pm


Sisters in Solidarity 



Featured Speaker  


Dolores Huerta

United Farmworkers Leader and Legendary Activist 


  Sisters In Solidarity

Black History Month Proclamations 

Council Honors Bobby Bowens  and Fred Jackson     

Bobby Bowens Fred Jackson   















As part of the celebration of Black History Month, the Richmond City Council honored two outstanding Richmond leaders who had died in the past two years,  Fred Jackson and Bobby Bowens.


Honoring Bobby Bowens
Honoring Bobby Bowens 

On February 19, the Council presented a proclamation  to Bobby Bowens' wife, Lillian Tamoria,  and his daughter, Leann Bowman.


Bobby was a lifelong activist, working to  change the system and fix the harm that it did.  He was a leader in the Black Panther Party and during the last part of his life he pioneered needle exchange programs as a way to reduce the spread of HIV in poorer communities.  For more on Bobby's work click here




Honoring Fred Jackson
Honoring Fred Jackson  

On February 26, the Council presented a proclamation to Fred Jackson's sister, Dorothy Fox, and his brother, Leo Jackson. 


Fred Jackson had touched so many of us in his years of work for civil rights, against violence and for justice.  For more  memories of Fred's work click here.  



Progressive Offices Renamed  


Bobby Bowens Progressive Center  



There is a new sign over the door at 1021 Macdonald.
The office houses the activity of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, Communities for a Better Environment, Service Employees International Union and  several other organizations that use its community meeting space.

Inside the office is a display showing some of Bobby's activities.  Literature describing Bobby Bowens' life and work will be available soon.  The activity in the office continues the kind of work that Bobby devoted his life to.

Global Warming's Terrifying New Math

Three simple numbers that add up to global catastrophe - and that make clear who the real enemy is

By Bill McKibben 


(The following are excerpts from a much longer article. Please read the full article.)



The First Number: 2 Celsius [less than 4 Farenheit]


The [Copenhagen] accord did contain one important number, however. In Paragraph 1, it formally recognized "the scientific view that the increase in global temperature should be below two degrees Celsius."



...in fact, many scientists have come to think that two degrees is far too lenient a target. "Any number much above one degree involves a gamble," writes Kerry Emanuel of MIT, a leading authority on hurricanes, "and the odds become less and less favorable as the temperature goes up." Thomas Lovejoy, once the World Bank's chief biodiversity adviser, puts it like this: "If we're seeing what we're seeing today at 0.8 degrees Celsius, two degrees is simply too much." NASA scientist James Hansen, the planet's most prominent climatologist, is even blunter: "The target that has been talked about in international negotiations for two degrees of warming is actually a prescription for long-term disaster." At the Copenhagen summit, a spokesman for small island nations warned that many would not survive a two-degree rise: "Some countries will flat-out disappear." When delegates from developing nations were warned that two degrees would represent a "suicide pact" for drought-stricken Africa, many of them started chanting, "One degree, one Africa."    

The Second Number: 565 Gigatons


Scientists estimate that humans can pour roughly 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by midcentury and still have some reasonable hope of staying below two degrees. ("Reasonable," in this case, means four chances in five, or somewhat worse odds than playing Russian roulette with a six-shooter.)



The Third Number: 2,795 Gigatons


This number is the scariest of all - one that, for the first time, meshes the political and scientific dimensions of our dilemma. It was highlighted last summer by the Carbon Tracker Initiative, a team of London financial analysts and environmentalists who published a report in an effort to educate investors about the possible risks that climate change poses to their stock portfolios. The number describes the amount of carbon already contained in the proven coal and oil and gas reserves of the fossil-fuel companies, and the countries (think Venezuela or Kuwait) that act like fossil-fuel companies. In short, it's the fossil fuel we're currently planning to burn. And the key point is that this new number - 2,795 - is higher than 565. Five times higher.


We have five times as much oil and coal and gas on the books as climate scientists think is safe to burn. We'd have to keep 80 percent of those reserves locked away underground to avoid that fate. Before we knew those numbers, our fate had been likely. Now, barring some massive intervention, it seems certain.    


[W]e may have waited too long to start it. To make a real difference - to keep us under a temperature increase of two degrees - you'd need to change carbon pricing in Washington, and then use that victory to leverage similar shifts around the world. At this point, what happens in the U.S. is most important for how it will influence China and India, where emissions are growing fastest. (In early June, researchers concluded that China has probably under-reported its emissions by up to 20 percent.) The three numbers I've described are daunting - they may define an essentially impossible future. But at least they provide intellectual clarity about the greatest challenge humans have ever faced. We know how much we can burn, and we know who's planning to burn more. Climate change operates on a geological scale and time frame, but it's not an impersonal force of nature; the more carefully you do the math, the more thoroughly you realize that this is, at bottom, a moral issue; we have met the enemy and they is Shell.


Meanwhile the tide of numbers continues. The week after the Rio conference limped to its conclusion, Arctic sea ice hit the lowest level ever recorded for that date. Last month, on a single weekend, Tropical Storm Debby dumped more than 20 inches of rain on Florida - the earliest the season's fourth-named cyclone has ever arrived. At the same time, the largest fire in New Mexico history burned on, and the most destructive fire in Colorado's annals claimed 346 homes in Colorado Springs - breaking a record set the week before in Fort Collins. This month, scientists issued a new study concluding that global warming has dramatically increased the likelihood of severe heat and drought - days after a heat wave across the Plains and Midwest broke records that had stood since the Dust Bowl, threatening this year's harvest. You want a big number? In the course of this month, a quadrillion kernels of corn need to pollinate across the grain belt, something they can't do if temperatures remain off the charts. Just like us, our crops are adapted to the Holocene, the 11,000-year period of climatic stability we're now leaving... in the dust.


This story is from the August 2nd, 2012 issue of Rolling Stone.


How Unequal Are We?

Play the Video:
Wealth Inequality in America
Wealth Inequality in America

Saturday, March 16,  4- 8 pm
Richmond Book Party on Patient Safety

Home of Gordon/Early .
747 Lobos Avenue (corner of Western) 
Richmond, CA.  

Beyond the Checklist: What Else Health Care Can Learn from Aviation Teamwork and Safety
Beyond the Checklist: What Else Health Care Can Learn from Aviation Teamwork and Safety

Join us for food and drink at a local celebration of

Beyond The Checklist:

What Else Health Care Can Learn from Aviation Teamwork and Safety 

Richmond resident Suzanne Gordon's new book on patient safety and the need for hospital reform. The book's foreword was written by our fellow Contra Costa County resident Chesley Sullenberger. Since his famous landing in the Hudson River, Captain Sully has become a leading advocate of using aviation teamwork training and safety methods to make hospitals safer--the subject matter of the book. Among the airline industry veterans interviewed in the book is Nancy Burns from Body Wisdom in Pt. Richmond.

For more info on this new Cornell University Press release, see: 

beyondthechecklist.com or

RPA Activist Info

is for Richmond community members who want to be active in taking on the problems of the environment, racism, joblessness, housing, and crime to create a healthy Richmond. We believe that community involvement means more than voting every two years. It means regular communication with the candidates we elect, letting them know our issues and positions, supporting them as they try to take our issues forward. It means we attend meetings, use email, phone our neighbors, or go on marches building an organized movement to create real change.

Comments and columns are welcome. Articles and columns are the views of the author, unsigned text  the views of the editor, Mike Parker, and not necessarily those of the RPA. Send photos, articles, and comments to  RPAactivist@gmail.com or call  510-595-4661. Longer articles of analysis and archives of past newsletters can be found on our website.