Monthly Archives: September 2015

Introducing the Emergency Climate Movement

I am very pleased that my article, The Emergency Climate Movement has been shared on EcoWatch more than 600 times. I am working to get it posted on other blogs, too, so why not start with The Climate Psychologist 🙂

Introducing the Emergency Climate Movement

We are living in a state of planetary emergency. To have a chance of averting the collapse of civilization and the destruction of the natural world, we must mobilize our society on the scale of World War II to achieve net zero[1] greenhouse gas emissions at wartime speed. The fact that we have already heated the world to such dangerous levels, and show little sign of stopping, is evidence of widespread institutional failure. We cannot expect anyone else to save us. We must organize to save ourselves.

The Mainstream Environmental Movement: Avoiding Climate Truth. The aforementioned truth—while daunting and overwhelming— has the potential to be utterly transformative, for individuals, and for society as a whole. Yet it has been too often soft-pedaled by environmental organizations and communicators who advocate incrementalism over boldness, vagueness over specificity, and personal behavior change over systemic change. These strategies, in an attempt to be palatable and politically “realistic,” are abdicating the climate movement’s greatest strategic asset: the truth. Embracing the truth was at the heart of Gandhi’s Satyagraha campaign, the Civil Rights Movement, the Velvet Revolution, and the vast majority of triumphant social movements through history.

The Emergency Climate Movement: Embracing Climate Truth. In recent months, a new, increasingly powerful segment of the climate movement has been taking shape. A coalition of those who openly recognize the existential threat of the climate crisis and advocate for a solution that is scientifically realistic and morally tenable: emergency mobilization.

The Climate Mobilization (TCM), a one-year old group that I founded and direct, has been a central part of this hopeful shift away from carbon gradualism—slowly reducing emissions while effectively maintaining business as usual. Philip Sutton, a member of TCM’s advisory board, puts this shift in perspective in his excellent paper, Striking Targets:

“Over those last 27 years, while all the research, activism and negotiation has been going on, the climate has actually become dangerous. So, the key goal now must be to provide, at the 11th hour, real protection for the vulnerable people, species and ecosystems of the world. The principal struggle must shift, from the clash between no action and some action, to the crucial struggle between those who want to constrain reform to levels that are not too disruptive and those who want action that will provide highly effective and timely protection.”

In other words, isolated actions such as the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan, putting a price on carbon, or even policies aiming for net zero emissions by 2050, are no longer sufficient. Perhaps if we had implemented these measures 30 years ago, they would have been adequate to maintain a safe climate. But that time has passed. Only emergency action—a mobilization of our entire economy and society—will protect us now. We must stop emissions in years, not decades. It is time to align our demands and language with the truth.

In June, Reverend Lennox Yearwood, Jr. and Tom Weis, leaders in the climate movement, and members of TCM’s advisory board, echoed TCM’s call for zero emissions by 2025 by writing in “America’s Zero Emissions Imperative”:

“Some will no doubt call this bold national goal unrealistic, but they would underestimate the innovative genius and social conscience of the American people. America has a long and proud history of overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds (consider World War II, Apollo program and Abolitionist movement). What is unrealistic is thinking we can put off for decades action that is desperately needed now to ensure our survival as a species.”

Tom Weis followed up on that article by writing an open letter to President Obama, calling on him to set reducing US emissions to net zero by 2025—through an “all hands on deck societal mobilization at wartime speed” – as the US’s commitment in the upcoming UN climate talks in Paris.

This letter is the single strongest display of public support for emergency climate mobilization that has ever been made. Signers include Lester Brown, Terry Tempest Williams, Mark Ruffalo, Ed Begley, Jr., David Suzuki, Winona LaDuke, Tim DeChristopher, Yeb Sano, Josh Fox, IPCC coordinating lead author Ove Hoegh-Guldberg the former chair of the Australian Coal Association, the founder of the Woods Hole Research Center, the founder of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, the founder of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, the former secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency, and the four co-founders of The Climate Mobilization.

The Climate Mobilization: Catalyzing the Emergency Climate Movement

 I developed the idea for the Pledge to Mobilize—a denial-fighting, power-building tool—while earning my PhD in clinical psychology and working as a psychotherapist.  Working with a team of co-founders, allies, and consultants all over the world, we turned an idea into a reality, and formed The Climate Mobilization. The Pledge is a one-page document that any American—and, since we have expanded internationally, anyone on earth—can sign, is a tool designed to help people fully face climate truth, and channel the deep emotions that arise into effective political engagement.

The Pledge is a public acknowledgment that the climate crisis threatens the collapse of civilization, as well as call for the United States to initiate a WWII-scale climate mobilization to eliminate our national net greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 and enlist in an international effort to mobilize off fossil fuels and restore a safe global climate. The Pledge also contains a set of political and personal commitments. Signers agree to support elected officials and political candidates who have Pledged to Mobilize with their vote, as well as time or money, and to spread the truth of climate change, and the Pledge to Mobilize, to others.

The Pledge encourages active hope and political empowerment. Using the WWII metaphor, we illustrate a time in which the United States successfully mobilized against an existential crisis. The Pledge challenges people to grow their awareness, cope with the reality, and become active agents for effective change by spreading climate truth and sharing the Pledge to Mobilize with others.

The Pledge to Mobilize has been signed by more than 2,400 Americans and international allies including Winona LaDuke, Marshall Saunders, the founder of Citizens Climate Lobby; Catharine Thomasson, director of Physicians for Social Responsibility; Randy Hayes, the founder of Rainforest Action Network; Paul Gilding, former head of Greenpeace and author of “The Great Disruption,”

The Pledge has also been gaining momentum with political candidates and elected officials. Recent signers include: Des Moines Mayor Frank Cowie, Iowa Legislator Dan Kelley, San Jose City Councilor Ash Kalra, Des Moines City Councilor Skip Moore, San Fransicso Mayoral candidate Amy Farah Weiss and Florida congressional candidate Alina Valdes. Councilman Ash Kalra and Mayoral candidate Amy Farah Weis can be seen taking the Pledge to Mobilize on video.

We have recently started a Mobilize Iowa campaign in which we take the Pledge to Mobilize directly to the 2016 presidential candidates. Our current nation-wide initiative is the Moral Mobilization, which will run from now—coinciding with the Pope’s visit—through the Paris talks. The Moral Mobilization seeks to amplify and concretize Pope Francis’ message of “ecological conversion.” During Moral Mobilization events, community leaders will read from the Encyclical and publicly Pledge to Mobilize as they call on Congress, the White House, and all levels of government, to do the same.

 The Emergency Climate Movement is just getting started. We understand that everything we love is on the line, and that inaction or insufficient action will lead to unfathomable catastrophe. In response, we are redefining “realistic” to what is necessary and true. We hope you join us.

For a more in-depth version of these arguments, in a beautifully illustrated PDF, see The Climate Mobilization’s Manifesto: The Transformative Power of Climate Truth.

For the scientific case for Emergency Mobilization see RECOUNT by David Spratt and the Case for Mobilization by Ezra Silk and Margaret Klein Salamon.

[1] When I say “Net zero emissions,” I mean that, it may not be possible to eliminate all US greenhouse gas emissions in the short timeline that The Climate Mobilization calls for. If so, the emissions that remain will be balanced out through carbon-negative techniques such as reforestation, permaculture, and biochar. This vision of “net zero emissions” does not include corporate land grabs or schemes in which the US discounts its own emissions through foreign carbon sequestration. Further, it is a stepping stone to the United States becoming net carbon negative, and also eliminating all remaining GHG emissions. For more information, see the Pledge to Mobilize or the Case for Mobilization.

The Transformative Power of Climate Truth: Illustrated (and updated)

I am extremely pleased to announce The Transformative Power of Climate Truth, Illustrated Version!

The main addition here are the beautiful illustrations and formatting are by Katharine Woodman-Maynard, The Climate Mobilization’s lead graphic designer.

Transformative_Cover

This version is updated to reflect recent events in The Climate Mobilization and in the climate movement more generally. The main addition is the description of the recent formation of a new segment of the climate movement, call it the “Mobilization Coalition”—a group of scientists, activists, and religious and community leaders—who are calling for emergency climate action.

I am very proud and excited to say that this essay has helped incite transformation in some readers, helping them become more engaged, more active, more urgent, and more committed to the need for emergency mobilization.

My hope is that this beautiful formatting will draw more readers to this essay, and further spread these personal and political transformations! So please help by sharing with those you care about and respect.

Obama’s Climate Legacy: Open Letter Demands Mobilization

 

 

Here’s the Media Release for the project I have been working on for the past few weeks, ObamasClimateLegacy.com. Add your name! Share widely!

 

Open Letters to President Obama Champion Zero Emissions Goal at Paris Talks. Add Your Name. 

President’s Climate Legacy Hinges on Launching Emergency World War II-Scale Climate Mobilization

CONTACT:

Margaret Klein Salamon, The Climate Mobilization

(734) 476-5169 margaret@theclimatemobilization.org

Tom Weis, Climate Crisis Solutions

(303) 378-1364 tom@climatecrisissolutions.com

 

September 2, 2015 (New York City, NY) – As President Obama witnessed the dramatic effects of climate chaos in Alaska today, a distinguished group of scientists and environmental, faith, civic and cultural leaders challenged him to champion a courageous U.S. goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 at the upcoming climate talks in Paris.

The challenge, issued in the form of an open letter, describes the current U.S. target of 26-28% emissions reductions by 2025 as a “weak” goal “that cannot be described as honest, courageous, or responsible in the face of a crisis that threatens the continued existence of humanity.” The letter also calls on the Obama administration to abandon its “all-of-the-above” energy policy.

Notable signers include authors Lester Brown and Terry Tempest Williams; environmentalists David Suzuki, Winona LaDuke, Tim DeChristopher and Yeb Saño; actors Mark Ruffalo and Ed Begley, Jr.; filmmaker Josh Fox; musician Moby; and scientist Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, a coordinating lead author for the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report.

The open letter references a 2011 letter sent to President Obama – and signed by some of the same leaders – that called for an 80% reduction in emissions by 2020: “Because that urgent call was not heeded, we have lost precious time in the race to save civilization and must now set our sights even higher.”

Urging an “all-hands-on-deck societal mobilization at wartime speed,” the letter states, “It is with a deepening sense of dread over the fate of humanity that we call on you today to use the powers of your presidency to champion a U.S. goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.”

The letter reflects the views of growing numbers of scientists and climate leaders who are advocating dramatic, near-term carbon cuts over the carbon gradualism that has dominated the policy discourse to date. They say the world community has squandered the time available for a leisurely transition, and that an emergency mobilization is now needed to stave off climate catastrophe.

In his groundbreaking 2015 report, Recount, signer David Spratt stated policymakers must recognize that “climate change is already dangerous, and we have no carbon budget left to divide up. Big tipping-point events irreversible on human time scales and large-scale positive feedbacks are already occurring at less than 1°C of warming.”

Signer Yeb Saño, former climate change commissioner of the Philippines, said, “Climate change presents a clear and present danger for us and is already profoundly affecting many vulnerable communities around the world. The only path to climate justice is for the US to embrace the zero emissions paradigm.”

“The Obama administration calls climate change a global threat on the scale of World War II, so why are they not responding with a World War II-scale emergency mobilization?” asked signer Margaret Klein Salamon, founder of The Climate Mobilization. “It is time to treat climate change like the existential threat it is and mobilize off of fossil fuels.

“Seventy years later, it is hard to comprehend the astonishing achievement of America’s World War II mobilization, the sheer level of commitment, innovation and productivity that transformed society and led to the longest period of sustained economic growth in world history,” said signer Marshall Herskovitz, former president of the Producers Guild of America. “In the face of a crisis that now threatens our very existence, we can and must do it again.”

“If we don’t get to zero emissions within 10 years, we are looking at massive destruction and millions of lives lost,” said signer Laura Dawn, former MoveOn.org creative & cultural director. “Finally leaders are telling the truth about the severity of this crisis and the need for a heroic response.”

“After seven years of half-measures and half-truths, the Paris climate talks will finally determine whether Obama’s legacy will be that of a climate champion who rose to the challenge of the climate crisis or a failure who was too scared to offer more than rhetoric and insufficient reforms,” said fossil fuel abolition activist Tim DeChristopher with the Climate Disobedience Center.

The initiator of the letter, Tom Weis, president of Climate Crisis Solutions, concluded, “Photo ops in Alaska will not salvage President Obama’s climate legacy. Climate leaders fight for all that we love, not for all-of-the-above.”

To see the full text of the letter, and for more information, visit ObamasClimateLegacy.com.

 

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