By Robert Perry, Director of Energy Research
“For the world is changing: I feel it in the water, I feel it in the earth, and I smell it in the air.” – Treebeard, from The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien.
For many, 2018’s seemingly endless succession of hurricanes, wildfires, and torrential storms, combined with the latest IPCC climate assessment giving humanity a 12-year deadline made it the year we finally “got it”. We now know there is no more time to contemplate, argue or debate about climate change. We must empower communities across the nation and the globe to develop action plans NOW.
2019 is the year to mobilize. This is the year to generate widespread grassroots momentum in advance of the critical 2020 election. The two most prominent efforts I am actively involved in are The Climate Mobilization and the Sunrise Movement, whose joint advocacy for a Green New Deal has sparked the imagination of every person looking to transform a desire for change into a future reality. Internationally, Extinction Rebellion offers a somewhat more visceral, militant approach.
Co-founded in 2014 by psychologist Dr. Margaret Klein Salamon and journalist/political strategist Ezra Silk, The Climate Mobilization (TCM) is focused on initiating a “City by City” campaign to pass local and state resolutions declaring a Climate Emergency, establishing a Climate Emergency Mobilization Department, and authorizing a comprehensive implementation plan to end local greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2030. In California, TCM is also launching a statewide lobbying campaign directed at newly-elected Governor Gavin Newsom and all state representatives to make California the first Climate Mobilized state. Longtime Academy members should also know that our own Matt Renner is playing an important role in building this movement.
Separately, the Sunrise Movement was formed in 2017 “to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process,” and gained notoriety last year when rising political star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made mobilizing against climate change a central plank of her successful campaign, and she later publicly supported Sunrise protests in Washington, DC. On January 10th, the Sunrise Movement held a conference call to kick off their 2019 campaign “to make a Green New Deal possible and #ChangeTheDebate.” With over 1,500 in attendance, I was extremely impressed by Sunrise’s leadership, all comprised of young 20-something adults, who effectively communicated their talking points and engaged everyone to become part of the climate solution. The first action event is scheduled for February 5th, where watch parties across the country will tune in to a Sunrise livestream, in which they will detail the 2019 Green New Deal Strategy, intended to unite and strengthen communities to make it happen.
For my part, I have joined with other local concerned citizens to form a TCM – Santa Barbara County chapter and will be representing TCM-SB (look for the t-shirt) at the numerous events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Oil Spill. I will also be coordinating with UCSB students and faculty to organize the Mother of All Sunrise Watch Parties on February 5th.
Last but never least, at its next Global Citizens Club meeting on February 19th, the World Business Academy will be hosting a panel discussion moderated by Rinaldo Brutoco, between Dr. Salamon, County Supervisor Joan Hartmann, and a third panelist TBA, concerning the dire need for social mobilization against climate change and environmental injustice. Readers can RSVP here for this seminal event.
In many areas, climate mobilization has already begun. Case in point (as featured in the Academy’s January 18th Solutions News broadcast): In the city of Holyoke, Massachusetts, a town hard hit by the economic collapse of coal and asthma rates twice as high as the rest of the state, community activists forced the closure of its 50-year old coal plant and installed 17,000 solar panels and a battery storage system–the largest in the state. All while securing severance, retirement and training benefits for displaced workers. Now’s that’s mobilization!
I think we all feel like Treebeard: we feel the urgent need for change in our bones and are looking for a way to manifest that feeling into action. These two aligned movements offer an inclusive, optimistic pathway to that realization, and I urge everyone to mobilize now in 2019 so we can secure the survival of future generations. Together, we can make what seems impossible possible.