The Sustainability Movement

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Climate Protection Strategy: Beyond Business-as-Usual

Late in 2010, the global climate coalition 1Sky asked a group of climate leaders to address the question: What is needed over the coming few years if we hope to achieve reductions in carbon emissions at the necessary level?

2010 had been a rough year for those struggling to address the climate crisis. The long-anticipated Copenhagen climate change summit broke down in wrangling and discord. The US Congress abandoned efforts to pass climate legislation. A well-financed effort to deny global warming and block any restriction on fossil fuels seemed to be developing a powerful popular base.

Meanwhile, scientists reported that global temperatures in the 2010 climate year were the hottest since records began a century ago. An ice sheet four times the size of Manhattan broke off the Arctic ice pack. Los Angeles saw its hottest day in history. Continue Reading…

Fighting Doom: The New Politics of Climate Change

I am not an environmentalist. But all I think about these days is the climate crisis.

I admit I have arrived late to the party. Only recently have I begun to realize what others have known for decades: The climate crisis is not, at its core, an environmental issue. In fact it is not an “issue” at all; it is an existential threat to every human and community on the planet. It threatens every job, every economy in the world. It threatens the health of our children. It threatens our food and water supply. Climate change will continue to alter the world our species has known for the past three thousand years.

As an oyster farmer and longtime political activist, the effects of climate change on my life will be neither distant nor impersonal. Rising greenhouse gases and ocean temperatures may well force me to abandon my 60-acre farm within the next forty years. From France to Washington state, oystermen are already seeing massive die-offs of seed oysters and the thinning shells science has long predicted. I can see the storm clouds and they are foretelling doom. Continue Reading…

World Leaders Fiddle While the World Burns: Time for a New Climate Strategy

Obama’s climate czar Carol Browner said last week there will be no U.S. climate protection legislation before the Copenhagen conference and that she doesn’t know if a global agreement on binding cuts in greenhouse gas emissions can be made in Copenhagen.  She added that she had hope for progress because the world’s top leaders recognize global warming is a problem.

As the torturous Copenhagen negotiations and the already-inadequate U.S. climate protection legislation falter, the earth is being imperiled by a failure of its political systems.  We know what needs to be done to halt global warming; we have the technology and resources to halt it; we know the consequences of not doing what we know must be done.  If the “world’s top leaders” recognize that “global warming is a problem” and do nothing about it, they are part of the problem, not part of the solution. Continue Reading…

The Rise of the New Power Co-Op Movement

Breakdown at Copenhagen. Climate legislation stalled. EPA regulation of greenhouse gasses threatened. Is climate protection dead?

Maybe not. Climate protection has gone local. Political leaders may fiddle while the world burns, but grassroots groups around the country are organizing to cut greenhouse gas emissions and build a greener future for their communities. Block by block and using every tool at their disposal, groups are fighting to green schools and workplaces; setting up networks of green job training centers; installing solar water heaters in low income communities; and halting new coal-fired power plants with both political and direct action.

One of the least known but most promising examples of this “localization” of climate politics is the greening of utility co-ops to create affordable and renewable energy, green jobs, and regional green development. These efforts may well represent the beginning of a “New Power Co-Op Movement” that can help jump start the shift to a new green economy. Continue Reading…

[For more of LNS's work on building a Sustainability Movement click here.]