This is a long overdue article I wrote after my experience studying with Al Gore and The Climate Reality Project in Texas. I want to thank so many of you who supported this journey and helped make it happen! We are facing new challenges every day, and I’m looking forward to sharing next steps with you as this journey and outreach grows.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart ..
And please, on election day, vote for the climate!
Creative Commons / Center for American Progress Action Fund
“The moment one commits oneself, providence moves also”.
Vice President Al Gore’s words have remained with me since my three-day training in Houston, Texas, as one of the newest members of his ‘Climate Reality Leadership Corps’.
But since I left Texas, I have been fighting a battle between despair and determination. Despair for how far our disregard for Mother Earth has gone – our disregard for ourselves and for our children. And determination to open people’s eyes to a very harsh reality that we do not want to confront. Accepting the reality and scope that climate change will have on most of our lives is daunting and often overwhelming. But if we ignore it, we will surely lose our chance to save ourselves and our children from a planetary tragedy like none we’ve ever seen.
As I was receiving my training, our country was experiencing destruction of epic proportions in both California and Louisiana. Massive flooding in a ‘Five hundred year flood’ in Louisiana (the eighth of its kind in a single year) was pushing over 100,000 people from their homes just as unprecedented storms of fire were pushing 80,000 from their homes throughout the parched lands of California.
(photo by Dave Malkoff)
Meanwhile, I sat inside an air-conditioned theater watching images of methane, a greenhouse gas (that is averaged at 82 times worse that carbon dioxide) bubbling and gushing its way throughout the melting permafrost in Alaska. This is what scientists have been warning us about for years. This is what’s environmentalists have been hoping desperately to avoid. Yet fossil fuel companies have been reaping billions of dollars in profits, while our addiction to their products have set us on a path toward runaway climate change. A path there could be no returning from.
Al Gore reminded us that examples of our ability to transcend great challenges and injustices can be found throughout the history of the world, We have freed masses of people from slavery, we have given women the right to vote, achieved civil rights and legalized gay marriage. Yet never have we confronted a challenge as important or as great as the one we are currently facing. Right now we are fighting for the right to life for every child on this planet. And until we all truly understand how real and urgent this threat is, and what we must all do to solve it, success is but a dream and failure is quite possibly imminent.
While I was on the plane flying back from Texas, I perused a list from the Paris Climate Summit that showed the levels of commitments toward carbon reduction from countries around the world, as well as a list of states in our own country that are actually fighting AGAINST the clean power plan that is intended to help us reach these goals. My frustration mounted as I came to see how far those commitment levels are from where they really must be. The time for incrementalism is over. We are now at Defcon 1. Because Government has failed to protect us.
I would like to think that a governmental commitment to the health and well-being of its citizens would not be difficult to come by. I would like to think that a commitment to the survival of the species would be a given. I would like to think that our right to clean water, our right to clean air, and to the protection of the future of our children would not be difficult to sell to those we have elected to protect us. And yet, somehow, the protection of the people, and of that which gives us life has been a very hard sell in a world that prioritizes profit above people.
The major problem that has gotten us here, at least as I see it, is that Mother Nature doesn’t have a wallet. Beyond the trees that give us oxygen, the water that gives us life, and the air that we breathe, Mother Nature pays a pittance compared to the cold hard cash from the fossil fuel companies.
In fact, the very same people who lobbied on behalf of ‘big tobacco’ have been lobbying on behalf of ‘big oil’ to plant seeds of doubt against mountains of scientific evidence. They are fighting against virtually the entire scientific community. And they are making a bundle. So, while policy makers have been debating whether to act, and while fossil fuel companies have been buying congressional and presidential elections, and while media conglomerates are being paid a pretty penny to air happy smiley messages from the fossil fuel industry, there has been no commitment from government that would actually be close to adequate in saving our children and ourselves from drought, floods, fires, food shortages, heat stroke, sea level rise, massive displacement, extreme weather, global instability, ocean acidification and mass extinctions.
We are now staring down the barrel of a gun, and the finger on the trigger is our own.
So, what do we do about it? We arm ourselves with education, knowledge, and passion. The time for change is now. It is time for the public to stand up and demand action!
Let’s demand a carbon fee for big polluters, let’s abolish the billions in subsidies our tax dollars have been paying to fossil fuel companies, let’s put an end to fracking, and let’s demand legislation that supports the freedom of individuals who want to create their own clean energy for their homes. Let’s truly educate ourselves about who we’re voting for, and what they support.
But, above all, while we wait for government to get its act together, let’s take it upon ourselves to do absolutely everything in our own power. Let’s each look at our own consumption. Let’s all make personal commitments to fuel our homes with clean energy. Let’s pledge that our next vehicle will be electric or at least a hybrid or bio-fuel. Let’s look within to see what more we can do. Turn out those lights, turn off that car engine when we’re not actually going anywhere. Let’s walk more, bike more, take some public transportation when we can. We can also put our money where our mouth is. Divest from fossil fuels, invest in clean energy and become a conscious consumer, an engaged citizen, and above all, a part of the solution.
Because when we all decide to commit ourselves, we just may find that what once seemed impossible, is suddenly possible. And because if there was ever a fight worth winning, this is it.
Do your part by kicking fossil fuels wherever and whenever you can!
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In Solidarity and Perseverance ..