Tomorrow, October 24, is a global day of action around climate change, organized by the folks at 350.org. Why 350? That’s the parts per million of carbon that scientists think is the ‘safe’ level that will keep the planet at least somewhat recognizable as the one we’ve grown to know and depend on for our lives. What are we at currently? Something like 390, and climbing! So time is short. With a new round of global negotiations scheduled for Copenhagen in early December, tomorrow’s actions will help build popular pressure on all those politicians to do something real.
We still have a chance to turn the looming disaster into a chance for transformation and balance. We can still build a world that offers abundance, hope, lives of beauty and health and freedom for those who come after us.
But not for much longer. The window is closing. So, wiggle those fingers, press those keys and go to 350.org to find an action near you. Then get out of your armchairs, off the intenet, and into the streets!
Climate change is often framed as your personal problem—you should drive less, consume less, change your lightbulbs. Yeah, you should—all those things are important. But nothing we do individually will solve the problem. We need to work together, to influence policy, not just perfect our own personal eco-karma.
When we take action, we need to know what we want, not just what we don’t want. Confronting climate change can drive people into into despair and apathy. Never just say ‘no’ without also saying ‘yes’—because solutions are out there. We have the means we need to solve the problems, and heal other major wounds in the process. We just need to do it.
Michael Moore has a great list of things to do in his recent article—focused around the financial crisis but also relevant to Climate Change:
Call the President every day: 202-456-1414
Call your Congressperson: 202 224 3121
Call your Senators: 202 224 3121
Check this website to contact Congress online:
What do you tell them? Below is my gift to you—a simple list of climate change do’s and don’t’s—policies we should push for, and against. Feel free to pass it on, reproduce it, make it into flyers, add to it—whatever! If you want more, go to www.earthactivisttraining.org, and click on Resources/Climate Change to download our Climate Change Primer—a good introduction to the terms, the issues, and the spectrum of solutions.
Check back here after Saturday and I’ll tell you how my day went!
Climate Change Policies to Push For: (and Against!)
Say ‘No’ To:
No coal—NASA climate scientist James Hansen says coal is 85% of climate change. No new coal plants, no more mountain-top removal–an environmental disaster even if climate change didn’t exist. Phase out existing coal plants.
No oil—by 2050, we must replace fossil fuels as the basis of our energy system. The U.S. needs to reduce our emissions by 90%.
No forest and wilderness destruction—We need a global ban on the cutting of old growth, the destruction of rain forests, clearcuts and destructive forestry. Trees sequester carbon and turn it into wood—the older and bigger they are, the more effectively they pull carbon out of the atmosphere. New energy projects should not be located in wilderness areas.
No nukes—Nuclear power is not a solution. We still have nowhere to put the wastes, and the dangers of low-level radiation, accidents, and deliberate attacks are too great to risk. We need to reduce emissions now—and nukes take decades to build safely and require huge amounts of carbon emissions in their construction—concrete has an enormously high carbon footprint.
No global energy casino! Cap and trade, offsets, and all the various money shuffling schemes are not solutions. They are proposed as incentives to get companies to limit emissions—but if they create a global carbon market that enriches speculators, they will do more harm than good.
No terraforming! Nix to giant, grandiose, unproven schemes—giant sunshades, chemical seeding of the oceans, mirrors in space, etc.
No to consumerism—our value is determined by who we are, not what we acquire. If we need stuff, let it be longer lasting, better quality, reparable, reusable, recyclable.
Say ‘Yes’ To:
Conservation and energy efficiency: If the U.S. had continued to conserve energy as we did in the 1970s, we’d be energy independent today! Reducing demand is always the biggest bang for the buck—as it requires no new investment of emissions or materials.
Safe and Renewable Energy Sources: Passive and active solar, solar thermal, offshore and onshore wind, microhydro and so many more truly renewable forms of energy production already exist. Make them affordable, widely available, invest in their improvement and production. Invest in an upgraded, decentralized grid that can bring them online.
Research and Investment to improve existing technologies and develop new ones, to improve energy storage and delivery systems.
Social justice: Spend the green bucks to create jobs and offer training to those who have the least resources–inner city youth, workers displaced from old technologies, people from indigenous communities and poor rural areas. Get polluting industries and utilities out of low-income communities.
Localization: Grow our food and make our products close to where we need them. Require enterprises and businesses to be responsible and accountable to local communities.
Global friendships and support systems based on solidarity, not charity. The developed countries need to help the less-developed leapfrog over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and jump directly into the renewable energy systems of the twenty-first century.
The Voices of Indigenous People: Indigenous communities who maintain traditional cultures and ways of life have wisdom to teach us as we strive to regain balance, and many are the most affected already by climate change. They need to be part of any negotiations and climate change agreements.
The Voices of Women: Women are often most affected by drought, poverty, hunger, and other impacts of climate change. Women must also be part of negotiations and forming agreements.
Building Soil: Excess carbon in the atmosphere comes not just from fossil fuels but also from erosion and soil loss. Restoring soil to health sequesters carbon in very stable forms, as the humus which creates soil fertility. Compost, mulch, no-till and low-till forms of agriculture and rotational grazing can build soil quickly, and help reduce desertification, famine, and ecosystem destruction.
Safeguarding Water: Climate change is likely to produce immense droughts and leave billions of people without access to water. Water is a human rights issue, and must be a public trust—not a source of private profit. All means to conserve, protect, recycle, and cleanse water should be encouraged.
Education and training: Build ecological literacy at every level, from schoolyard gardens to adult retraining programs.
Community: We can derive pleasure and sense of worth not from how much we own but from our relationships to one another. We can trade profit and pollution for time to spend with friends and family, on cultivating spirit, fun and creativity, on contributing our gifts to community and serving as active agents of democracy.
Action: Working together, we can stop the destruction and build the solutions.