Politicians discussing global warming," Berlin, Isaac Cordal
"So at this point, success is not stopping global warming. That’s not on the menu. Success is stopping global warming short of the point where we can’t have civilizations like we’re used to. We’ll continue to work very hard. But we’re not going to get out of this anywhere near unscathed." Bill McKibben, Washington Post
I thought I was a smarty-pants
I saw a climate change quiz on CNN last week and took it for fun. I consider myself reasonably well-informed about the issue, so I expected to ace it. Instead, I was humbled, if not humiliated, by my score of 33.6%. I shared it with several folks, and I don't know anyone who made better than 38%. Are you game? Give it a go.
The politics of climate change
IMHO, climate change is the existential issue that must be at the top of every politician's priority list. Everything else - health care, education, the economy, national security, inequality, immigration, infrastructure, you name it - pales in comparison to our literal destruction of the world as we know it and is being affected by it right now. Questions about that? 350.org.
Climate change has NOT ranked as a priority issue for voters historically, but that could change for 2020, as we're seeing and personally experiencing multiple, repeating "100-year-events" - historic wildfires, floods, droughts - all around the country. The climate crisis is directly affecting North Carolina: Climate Reality Project, NCSU.
On the national level
The recently revised and re-introduced Green New Deal is ridiculed by Republicans (see image at the top), who are deft at spreading misinformation about the proposal. Too bad we can't turn back the clock to 1988, when members of both parties supported bills to reduce climate change. Their efforts were derailed "by the oil and gas industry’s campaign to poison any effort to pass climate policy and to question the decade-old scientific consensus; by President George H.W. Bush’s economic council, which had come out in force against emissions reductions; and by right-wing congressional Republicans."
Learn more about the current form of the Green New Deal so you're armed with accurate information about what's proposed and its impact on the economy:
In North Carolina
What is NC doing now, and what can we do now?
- Gov. Cooper issued an executive order in October 2018 affirming NC's commitment to addressing climate change and transitioning to a clean energy economy. It's a first step we can support - and hold him to.
- We could do way more with the support of the Republicans in the legislature, but many of the professionals at the Dept of Environmental Quality are doing as much as they can within the constraints of their budget and existing regulations. There are lots of pages to click through from the DEQ's main climate change page.
- Track current legislation courtesy of the NC Sierra Club and the NC League of Conservation Voters.
- Find out if your legislators serve on these committees. If they do, you have an especially great opportunity to speak up for a healthy planet, as much of the legislative bargaining happens in committee. Check the "Bills" tab to see what they're considering.
- Check out Stronger NC's library of environmental posts. The toolkit provides great federal and state background and overview of current challenges, talking points, and calls to action.
- We have many robust and active environmental protection groups in NC, this list barely scratches the surface.
On a personal level
The reality of climate change is a tough and overwhelming issue. I think about what our children and grandchildren will face. I don't feel honest joy for new babies. For Joanna Macy, that's familiar terrain going back to the 1970s and nuclear proliferation. Her approach emphasizes the need to recognize and honor our personal grief and rage as a starting point. Check out her books, Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We're In Without Going Crazy and Coming Back to Life, and her ongoing project, Work That Reconnects.
Here are some quotes gleaned from a recent New Yorker essay by Rachel Riederer, discussing The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, a new book by David Wallace-Wells:
- Every inch of warming makes a difference — we cannot stop the process of warming altogether, but we can control whether climate change yields a future that is apocalyptic or instead “merely grim.”
- I asked the climate activist and writer Bill McKibben how he was able to keep from falling into depression, given how much time he devotes to thinking about climate change. He answered that fighting is the key—it’s only despairing if you think that you can’t take on the problem. “It’s the greatest fight in human history, one whose outcome will reverberate for geologic time, and it has to happen right now,” he said.
- ... two key factors, which the task force identified as keeping people from taking action, have stood the test of time: one was habit, and the other was lack of control. “Ingrained behaviors are extremely resistant to permanent change,” the group stated. “People believe their actions would be too small to make a difference and choose to do nothing.”
- Salamon stresses the importance of processing climate change as an emotional and personal phenomenon, not just a scientific one. Everyone, she said, needs to grieve for his or her own future, which isn’t going to look the way we thought. It’s going to be more parched, more crowded, more dangerous, and more austere.
- These are the competing truths we have to integrate: a livable world is incompatible with fossil fuels, and fossil fuels made the world we live in.
- My eyes filled with tears as I tracked Wallace-Wells’s climate timelines with the coming decades of my life, or those of the children I might have. But as I read on, in the course of several days, I became acclimated. I could read it with my mind, without my fight-or-flight systems getting in the way. This felt strangely empowering.
Are we willing to open our eyes and hearts to the truth we see before us? Are we willing to dance with our despair, find our joy, change our personal habits & priorities, and demand action from our policy-makers at every level? I am, and I hope you are, too. One breath, one step at a time, we move forward together!
Tags: (Environment, Voter Issue Environment, NCPol, NCGA)
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