Saturday, March 08, 2014

Earth Day 2014: addressing Climate Change, Part 4, the big and small

This is part 4 of a series of essays leading up to a major public discussion of Climate Change in Rochester NY on Earth day. On April 17, 2014 at 7PM, the Rochester Sierra Club will host a community discussion on Climate Change in our region with Mark Lowery, Climate Analyst, and manager of the state’s Climate Smart Communities program. The program is called 2014 Earth Day Forum “Climate Smart Communities:  Let’s Get With the Program." This “Earth Day” event (I know, April 22 is actually Earth Day) will be held at the First Unitarian Church, 220 Winton Road South, Rochester, NY. We hope to reach the entire public—community, faith, and business leaders, students, the unemployed, the employed, young and old, healthy and not so healthy, rich and poor, and folks busy with other stuff —and have an old-fashioned community talk about the world crisis called Climate Change. Join your neighbors in a town hall meeting free from activism, ideology, politics, and denial.

When it comes to addressing Climate Change our politicians tend to only think in terms of what is politically feasible. Our economic leaders focus on the feasibility of solving Climate Change through the lens of an economic system almost blinded by loony budgets, crazy cost analysis, and theories that ignore our environment (unless there are lawsuits to be had involving pollution). Getting at the core of Climate Change is getting our greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations to a sustainable level—anything else, is well …, something else.

The window for doing only small things to address Climate Change has closed. Small things, like changing your light bulbs, driving a fuel efficient car, and weekly recycling, are important only if they result in enough change to quickly bring down GHG’s. Thinking that addressing Climate Change should only be accomplished after all the political and economic hurdles are leapt is an upside down view of reality. It is only by doing things that actually cool things down that we have a chance for our way of life to flourish. Those in Pompeii around the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD would have done well to heed the rumbling warnings of Nature rather than squabbling amongst themselves about politics and economics.

With the Arctic melting and our GHG’s rising at a rate ten times faster than the last ten thousand years, we must shift into a mode where our actions have a speedy planetary effect. Big actions are in order. The small stuff must be added to the big stuff. The Golden Rule for human behavior from now on might look something like this: Act in such a way so that when they are added to the accumulated actions of others it results in the quick and fair resolution to Climate Change.

Here are some of my suggested guidelines on Big Actions to address Climate Change before the window of opportunity closes and we are condemned to environmental tipping points we cannot reverse:
  • Vote. Do not vote a climate denier, or someone without a strong climate policy, into office, regardless of their position on other issues.
  • Encourage all environmental groups, politicians, and countries to advocate for a top-down, worldwide, binding agreement on lowering GHG’s. [See: IPCC - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change]
  • Stop Fracking (a method of using undisclosed chemicals to drill a hole in the ground for more GHGs to send up into our atmosphere) and go 100% renewables. Living off the sun and wind is not insane; it’s a real choice: Read: Examining the feasibility of converting New York State’s all-purpose energy infrastructure to one using wind, water, and sunlight
  • Read and get others to read climate studies; stop listening to media that don’t report reality. Especially read ClimAid if you live in New York. Bumper-sticker talking points on Climate Change are not enough to understand the crisis of our age.
  • Encourage High Speed Rail and Active Transportation instead of throwing more public money at our present transportation infrastructure that’s too fossil-fuel intensive and costly to boot.
  • Get your community to sign up to Climate Smart Communities and come to the 2014 Earth Day Forum "Climate Smart Communities: Let’s Get With the Program", April 17, 2014 5:30pm: Environmental Fair; 7-9pm: Program at the First Unitarian Church, 220 Winton Road South, Rochester, NY. Talk about Climate Change; get engaged with the crisis of our age.
  • Become a citizen scientist to help monitor what’s happening to our environment and help provide more robust data for climate modeling.
  • Conduct more climate studies to fill in holes in our knowledge. Check out these amazing photos of the Finger Lakes with the smaller lakes completely frozen over by this year’s whacky weather. These lakes will be profoundly affected by Climate Change, but few studies exist. Each lake will react differently to Climate Change. There should be a dramatic push to undertake more climate studies on the Finger Lakes and surrounding region.
  • Refrain from nuclear power (which is too hot to for us to handle) and most geoengineering schemes—except planting trees. Plant as many trees as you like. Opportunity Available to Support Conservation Tree Planting in New York State (March 6, 2014) The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)
  • Get your government to get moving on infrastructure fixes and updates geared towards minimizing and addressing Climate Change.
  • Get meteorologists talking about Climate Change. If you think weather prediction is problematic, Climate prediction will be a doozy. It’ll be more than a parade that gets rained on if the projections are wrong. We’re going to have to plan our future based on climate predictions and free it up as much as possible from politics, economic jitters, and ideology, or else our predictions will be completely delusional.
  • Get wealthy Climate Change deniers out of American politics. Move to amend Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and gets some of ‘we the people’ back into it.
  • Stop the XL Keystone Pipeline “Stop the fuse to the largest carbon bomb on the planet.”
  • Morph social media into something useful. If environmentalists were to direct the energy that our youth pour into social media towards Climate Change, instead of inadvertently pushing corporate agendas, we would have a society tuned in to the most important crisis of our age. Corporations, the film industry, and the fashion industry, have learned how to leverage Youth Power and social media to make big bucks for themselves; why can’t scientists and environmentalists get our kids to focus on something important to Generation Like’s continued existence?  Just saying… Think of all this as you watch this insightful program “Generation Like”:  Generation Like | Frontline | PBS 
  • Get politics out of our Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) so that projections of future catastrophes include Climate Change predictions. When your property is destroyed by extreme weather due to Climate Change, you’re going to need a well-funded FEMA to help you pick up the pieces. Get your elected officials to fix this:
FEMA: Caught Between Climate Change and Congress The agency has needed Congress to approve extra disaster relief funds every year over roughly the past decade to handle mounting climate-related damage. Thanks to climate change, extreme weather disasters have hammered the United States with increasing frequency in recent years—from drought and wildfires to coastal storms and flooding. It is perhaps surprising, then, that the U.S. agency in charge of preparing for and responding to these disasters, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), doesn't account for climate change in most of its budget planning and resource allocation or in the National Flood Insurance Program it administers. (January 27, 2014) Inside Climate News

You get the picture. As long as you’re thinking about addressing Climate Change, think big.

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