A few years ago, I wrote an email to several of the newspapers in the Boulder/Denver area stating that almost every day I read something scary in the news about the effects of climate change. I suggested that, instead, newspapers should offer a simple solution of the day on their front page. I followed up four times but got no response.
I am going to try again, and I also encourage anyone reading this to join me in writing letters to the editors and publishers of your newspapers, demanding more discussion about solutions to the greatest threat to mankind we’ve ever seen. I am thinking that it’s time to mobilize, as Bill McKibben's words echo in my mind almost every day: "We're under attack from climate change — and our only hope is to mobilize like we did in WWII." (McKibben is an author and founder of 350.org.)
With all the recent studies, including the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, it’s become apparent we are now in a race against time. While I was hopeful to hear that London has declared a national emergency, thanks to the activism of the group Extinction Rebellion, it is way past time that we, here in the United States, take some drastic measures.
It seems to me that big social-change events, like the People's Climate March of 2014 and the Women's March of 2017, were successful because "everyone" was talking about them at the same time. I propose that all of the "green organizations" mobilize, collaborate and work together in a massive action — 350.org, Al Gore and Climate Reality Project and the Sierra Club, to name just a few.
I don’t know about you, but my email inbox is inundated every day with messages from many different organizations, each asking me to do something different. It’s so overwhelming that I end up deleting most of them. All of these groups have their own agenda and area of expertise, which is great. But my idea is that the leaders of all these organizations get together and have a virtual meeting every month, making a game plan so that they're all on the same page about the same issue. Then that month they would each message all their members and urge media outlets to focus on one simple solution that we can all learn about and take action on.
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I'm sure they'd have no trouble coming up with ideas. Here are just a few: Striving for zero waste; taking your own reusable water bottle and your own coffee cup wherever you go; limiting the use of single-use plastics; turning off the lights (why do so many business leave so many lights on at night when there's no one working?); hanging clothes outside to dry; educating people about “phantom” or “vampire” power (I’ve read that in America, we waste 10 to 20 percent of electricity a year, or 2 to 4 billion dollars on vampire energy — so let's teach folks about how to use power strips to counter this). Of course, transportation could be a big focus, what with all the millions of cars in the U.S. idling at drive-throughs (these should be only for senior citizens and folks with disabilities). I’d also love to see us demand lower prices on energy-efficient cars; bank and shop locally; and divest from fossil fuels and invest in renewable energies. Finally, people need to continue writing their congressional representatives, encouraging them to support legislation to mitigate climate change, such as the Energy Innovation and Carbon Fee Act, a bipartisan bill recently introduced in Congress offering a market-based solution for the country to transition to renewable energy, thanks to the hard work and advocating from Citizens’ Climate Lobby and other groups.
There are dozens of actions that would get folks mobilized into action, and all can be part of the solution. But I think they must be done one at a time, en masse — otherwise it’s all just too paralyzing for ordinary folks. Finally, we need to convince people why taking action is ultimately so important: Our children’s futures depend on it!
Laurie Dameron is a professional musician and an environmental activist. In 2012 she started her project Spaceship Earth: What Can I Do? Multimedia Presentations, and in 2015 she was elected chairwoman of Environmental and Sustainability Development for BPW Colorado and NFBPWC (National Federation Business and Professional Women Clubs).
Westword occasionally publishes op-eds on topics of interest to the Denver community. Have one you'd like to submit? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. And don't miss our recent cover story about Colorado's fight against climate change.