My Facebook feed was flooded yesterday with posts from friends and family at the People’s Climate March in New York City. There were more than 300,000 people there, speaking up for action on climate change. I wish I could have been there. There are talks happening today at the UN about addressing climate change, and I eagerly await news from them.
But what’s next? Speaking up and marching for climate action is important, but how can you and I really create meaningful movement to really mitigate the effects of climate change?
There are so many levels to this complex problem, and that means that whatever your comfort level, there’s probably a place you can fit in. Work needs to be done at the local scale (pushing for all manner of more sustainable policies; personally I’m all about smart growth, local economy, and sustainable transportation policy), at the state, regional, and national scales (calling & handwriting letters to your representatives is rarely a bad idea), and even the international scale. Learning more about climate policy is useful (I love David Roberts at Grist) Talking to people who disagree with you about the importance of climate change mitigation is important. Even personal lifestyle changes are useful, though focusing on those to the exclusion of other activism can be a distraction.
The important thing is to keep fighting. The culture leading to our runaway greenhouse gas emissions pervades our whole world. Both calm, insider approaches that strategically negotiate better policy and angry, outsider protests that call for more action are needed. Climate change isn’t a danger to our future, it’s a danger right now, and if we don’t keep working hard until we have a solution, we will all reap the consequences soon, starting with the least well-off.
As John Holdren said in 2007:
“We basically have three choices: mitigation, adaptation and suffering,” said John Holdren, the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and an energy and climate expert at Harvard. “We’re going to do some of each. The question is what the mix is going to be. The more mitigation we do, the less adaptation will be required and the less suffering there will be.”