There are a lot of ideas out there, and many people working on a host of different issues, with a lot of disagreement on overall strategy and what tactics are most effective. Here are some things that are going on:
- Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project is focused on spreading the word, fighting the lies spread by deniers, raising the level of alarm about global warming and demanding that we “put a price on carbon.”
- 350.org, and many other groups are organizing divestment drives – getting universities, pension funds, churches and other institutional investors to dump stocks in coal, oil and gas companies.
- The Citizen’s Climate Lobby is pushing a bill to implement a “revenue neutral” carbon tax.
- The radicals, whose prominent public figures include writers Chris Hedges and Naomi Klein, believe only civil disobedience can make a difference, with direct action tactics like the Flood Wall Street march and sit-in that took place the day after the Climate March. And only by ending capitalism can we stop the fossil fuel pushers from cooking us all.
- There are local groups fighting fracking, pipelines and oil extraction from tar sands. In Seattle local groups, including 350.org Seattle have fought off proposals to build docks for exporting coal.
- Here in Chicago there are citizen groups fighting the Koch brothers, who are choking folks in residential neighborhoods with the dust from piles of petcoke, a carbon-heavy oil refinery by-product that is burned for fuel in some coal-fired plants. There are activists associated with anti-fracking groups and with most of the bigger groups named above.
“So, we are not going to change politics in America unless we, you know, deal with the Koch brothers and the other billionaires who are now trying to buy elections,” said U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who also marched on Sunday, in a recent interview. Then, at a pre-march event, he emphasized that point: “Nothing passes the U.S. Congress without the approval of the oil companies and Wall Street.”
My heart is with the direct action folks, mostly young people, but there’s also a significant number of gray hairs like me still hanging around since the ‘60s and ‘70s and still ready for action.
But my head tells me that there is not a critical mass of people, yet, who will join in or even support this strategy. Seems to me we need to go directly at the problem – fossil fuels – maintain our focus on ways to reduce the burning of carbon. Keep fighting those local battles and continue to link up with others who are doing the same.
And as much as I think we need more resources for public services, I think a revenue-neutral carbon tax might be a good idea.
“Citizens Climate Lobby proposes that a tax be placed on fossil fuels, based on the CO2 content of those fuels, at the first point of sale. Revenue from that tax should be returned to the public as a monthly or annual payment to protect households from rising costs associated with the carbon tax.” The tax would get higher every year.
CCL claims that “A report from Regional Economic Models, Inc., shows that a steadily-rising fee on carbon, with revenue returned to households, will add millions of jobs in 20 years while cutting emissions by half.”
For myself, I’m going to find out what groups are most active here in Chicago and mostly just keep reading and blogging and trying to spread the word: The debate is over; climate change is happening, faster than we ever expected possible; and if we can’t get tens of millions of people demanding action now, my grandchildren are going to live in a terrible world.
It will be hotter, poorer, more warlike, with less food, more droughts and floods, more respiratory problems, more disease, more and stronger hurricanes, rising sea levels that will wipe out low-lying land where billions of people now live and, well, you know the story.
Let’s get to work.
Some more places to go for information:
An article by someone I met on the train about the train and march in the San Francisco Bay Guardian