2 years ago today, my family woke up with no power, downed trees and fallen power lines. Today, I have new solar panels on my home. On October 29th, 2012 we woke to find ourselves trapped in our dead end street; a mighty oak had fallen across our only way in or out. Today, the sun shines on the solar panels on my home, and I breath deeply..hopeful for my children’s future and their now.
We were lucky. Our Superstorm Sandy story was not a horror story. Our power came back within 2 days, our neighbor took a chainsaw and “freed our street” within hours of daylight on October 29th, and we were able to be a “port in the storm” for the weeks that followed, for our family and our friends. As we now know, many, many others were not so lucky.
This personal “wake up call” for many of us on the East Coast has prompted resiliency planning and reality checks. The facts keep coming in about how we are impacting our climate and hardwiring our connection to continued extreme whether, yet we seem to still be in a fog, talking about “fixing things” but are we all actually doing anything? The answer to this question is as complex as our climate system.
Approximately one year ago, the first part of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) was released, this week in Copenhagen the final report of this 5 year IPCC outlook on climate, A Summary for Policy Makers, is being discussed and will be finalized on November 2nd. The conclusions of thousands of scientists and hundreds of peer reviewed reports is clear: climate change is here now, human caused, and already having dangerous impacts.
The message to policy makers: if we start now, the outcomes from our changing climate will be survivable. We are at a crossroads. We can choose now to go down a clean energy path where we enjoy economic benefits and manage to adapt to modest climate change, or we can continue to follow a path with increasing greenhouse gas pollution worldwide where severe climate change threatens our societies and derails our economies. Again, the facts are unmistakeable, and the answers and solutions well defined; how we choose to act on them is less certain.
This is a unique moment, a flash point in our human history; it’s happening on our watch and because of our past and current actions.
Here are 3 things we are doing at ClimateMama to take responsibility and action into our own hands.
1. Tell the truth – make our votes count. On Election Day, we are voting for our future, our children and our now. At every level, anyone we vote for must have a climate change plan and must agree that they are working to build up resiliency and fight for our now. There is no room for any climate deniers in office, at any level. This means we are supporting candidates that have local solutions including streamlining access to renewable energy, building and fortifying infrastructure, and putting plans in place to reduce our individual and collective greenhouse gases, which we know are the drivers of climate change.
2. Actions speak louder then words – fighting for renewable energy and calling out government agencies and individuals that are promoting and allowing fossil fuel infrastructure and development to continue. My own solar panels finally went up! Yet I have been fighting a local ordinance for over a year, that denies mounting solar on the front of a home – because our township committee things they are ugly! I think they are beautiful, and they give me hope for my children’s future and now. I am still fighting to change the ordinance but in the meantime, at least some of our panels are up and in one day we have reduced our personal greenhouse gases by over 44% with a bigger percentage to hopefully follow soon!
At ClimateMama, we continue to support, encourage and fight for communities that are working to stop and slow down gas and oil infrastructure and development, so that they too can build and utilize renewable power. The band aid must be pulled off, there is no bridge to a renewable future, we must take the leap and be in all the way, now. Join us November 1-7th, at the Beyond Extreme Energy events taking place in Washington DC and support action to call attention to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and why it’s mandate must be changed and why we need our federal government to be the champion of renewable energy, and put fossil fuel infrastructure and development in the rearview mirror.
3. Don’t be afraid. Sometimes it’s fun to scare ourselves. With Halloween around the corner, many people are figuring ways to do this right now! My teenage daughter loves to watch horror films with her friends and telling scary stories around the campfire is part of our family camping traditions. Yet, the current IPCC report being discussed brings horror stories to a whole different level. But we know that this real life horror story is in fact critical to tell, and in many ways very liberating. We know the truth and no one can hide from it. Climate change is here, now, and we are causing it. So it is our duty, our responsibility and our moral imperative to do something.
Too many local, state and national governments and agencies continue to give mixed messages about solutions. Some are pushing rebuilding efforts, which ignore resiliency and the reality of future extreme weather events. The alarm bells are sounding, they couldn’t be any louder, we must act now. It is our job to demand from those in “charge” who want to deny or delay to change their tune, do something, or get out of the way. If they aren’t willing or able to, we must not allow them to be “in charge.” We also must personally take charge, and do what we can at a personal level; using both our words and our actions.