Climate Action CDA members gathered on Jan 31 to participate in two live events in order to learn about and take action with other climate and science-based campaigns. One was presented by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), and the other by 350.org Fossil Free Fast Campaign.
The first was a national phone conference by the Union of Concerned Scientists to announce their 2018 vision for action. To begin, the values UCS plans to follow are morality, truth, partnership, and activism.
Stressing the positive aspects of their plans, they identified 3 Values to apply to their work and to promote in the US:
- Kindness and decency in public policy. No harm to people.
- Revere facts and science to inform public choices and policies.
- Long-term thinking—pay costs now for pollution and CO2 with regulations and safeguards. Don’t leave these costs to the next generations.
To Connect the Values to Actions, UCS set forth the following goals and projects to address.
- Preserve the current greenhouse gas rules for fuel economy for cars. These are under mid-term review and UCS is working on keeping them in place. The UCS recommended action is for citizens and scientists is write the EPA and car companies stating that you support these important regulations. This is necessary because car companies say they support them, but are working behind the scenes against them.
- Prevent the hollowing out of scientists and science occurring in the Trump administration. For example, oppose deletion of climate change websites and removing scientists from panels and boards., Keep scientists free of political interference.
- Nuclear issues were the original purpose of UCS and are still crucial, especially now. The recent call for more so-called “usable nuclear weapons” is very dangerous, expensive, and not needed.
- In the Pacific Northwest, UCS will work to get Carbon Pricing in place.
On Climate Change, UCS will work on communication efforts to get people to see the urgency of climate change and pressure their politicians. Also, UCS intends to educate the Media about climate change and to get them to link in their news reports the reality of how climate change connects to severe weather events—such as the unprecedented rainfall in Houston during Harvey, Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, and the California fires and mud slides.
Despite the current federal government inaction and attacks on science and climate change that is happening now, UCS believes our action can help by reducing the impacts we experience.
Finally, UCS will oppose the appointment of Kathleen Hartnett White for the White House Environment Office. She is a climate change denier, opposes renewable energy and the Paris agreement, and is not a scientist— her degree is in Comparative Religion and she has had one year of law school.
If you want to get on board with UCS and are not a scientist, you can join their Science Champions—who advocate for the UCS projects by calling, writing, doing Letters-to-the Editor, etc. Professional scientists can also get on board to protect science.
Following that excellent call, some Climate Action CDA folks and others watched the 350.org Fossil Free Fast event that was live streamed from George Washington University in DC. Since it started at 5:00 Idaho time, we watched the recording immediately after. It was an enthusiastic, inspiring rally for the new 350.org campaign to halt fossil fuel production and use immediately. It was opened by the Howard University Gospel Choir and the entire event beautifully linked climate change with environmental justice, immigration rights, liveable wage issues, and social justice.
Bernie Sanders was the opener followed by speakers representing the many groups collaborating on this 350.org campaign. Bill McKibbin and Rev. Lenox Yearwood served as emcees for the event. The first speaker was, Janeka Hodnett, of the Sierra Club, “Ready for 100% Renewable Energy” campaign organizer. She helps activists from low-income, indigenous, and minority communities work for renewable energy use now. Her project provides model legislation and templates to use to get city or county or states to adopt renewable energy plans.
Building on the Sierra Club’s efforts 350.org calls for 3 efforts to become Fossil Free Fast:
- Transition Fast to 100% renewable energy
- End all new fossil fuel projects
- Not one more penny to dirty energy.
Speakers from a broad range of backgrounds addressed these three goals.
From hurricane devastated Puerto Rico, Tara Rodriguez Besosa described the damage in the islands and their fall into 98% food dependency because of that storm. She is an activist who showed how poor countries that have suffered colonization now are affected by climate change in terrible ways. She says climate change is a human rights issue that must be considered in all work on the issue.
Dallas Goldtooth from Standing Rock, is the Keep it in the Ground activist for the Indigenous Environmental Network. EIN opposes all new fossil fuel projects and has a campaign called Promise to Protect, an effort to prepare and call activists to join the protest whenever the XL pipeline resumes construction. Several Climate Action CDA members have signed on.
A powerful activist from the Pacific Northwest, Dr. Adrian Voss-Andreae, a neuroscientist and mother of four, described her involvement in climate change work in Portland. She was worried about all the fossil fuel terminals planned for the ports of Oregon and Washington. She founded a 350.org group in Portland four years ago, and they have achieved remarkable successes. They stopped an export terminal scheduled for the city, they removed climate change denial material from school textbooks, they did a kayak blockade of the Shell icebreaker ship, and they got a ban on new fossil fuel infrastructure. It shows what dedicated activists can do and gives hope to others.
Jessica Lorena Randel, from Houston, explained how Hurricane Harvey and the rains flooded the city putting 39,000 out of their homes. But few paid attention to immigrants, especially undocumented people, who were afraid to call for help during the storm or afterwards. Disaster plans ignore these vulnerable people, while the flooding created a petrochemcal toxic soup to deal with—an environmental justice disaster for poor, minority, and immigrant populations to suffer through alone in many cases.
Wrapping up, Bill McKibbon and Rev. Yearwood called for “changing politics, not light bulbs.” Everyone must advocate for a Green New Deal and use everything to bring it about—art, culture, political action, and activism. Now let’s get started!i