Climate chaos, climate change, global warming—I like to call it global fever. We don’t know how hot it will get or when the fever will break, and while we wait, we suffer the fevers and chills. Summers in the arctic will soon be ice-free and weather will grow increasingly dramatic. We have some uncertainty—we will have to wait it out and adapt to changes no matter what—but the sooner we all act, the better off we will be.
The problem is clear. As Mark Lynas writes, "If we had wanted to destroy as much of life on Earth as possible, there would have been no better way of doing it than to dig up and burn as much fossil hydrocarbons as we possibly could." But I believe we can fix this. We are still alive, aren’t we? Getting depressed about the climate now, Lynas says, “is like sitting inert in your living room and watching the kitchen catch fire and then getting more and more miserable as the fire spreads throughout the house—rather than grabbing an extinguisher and dousing the flames." We wouldn’t do that, so let's not do it now.
The solutions are clear. We have been running on ancient sunlight, fossil fuels, while nature runs on current sunlight, but we will make the switch. We have many alternative energy technologies that just need funding and development. We do not have a technological problem. We have a corporate, political problem. Our government needs to free itself from corporate control and listen to what we want.
The goal of the climate bill now working its way through Congress is to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050, but many scientists now say we need to go further if we are going to avoid catastrophe. Worldwatch Institute founder Lester Brown and his colleagues at the Earth Policy Institute say we need to reduce emissions 80 percent by 2020, and experts and activists with Bioneers are getting behind this goal.
With this sense of urgency, several YES! interns and staff went to a 350 Day of Climate Action in Seattle. Pictures of hundreds of people forming a giant 350 were taken from the Space Needle and from a helicopter.
We all filled out pledges to reduce our carbon footprints and received pins from the 350 campaign. Above, Madeline Ostrander, YES! Magazine senior editor, signs a creative 350 petition. Check out this slideshow and 350.org to see amazing images taken on October 24 from around the world.
As well as all the ways we can live personally sustainable and low-carbon lives, I believe we need the big changes. As we call for 80 percent reductions by 2020 and implement renewable energy sources, these are some of the most important things we can work toward to increase our chances for survival:
- We need to abolish corporate personhood, which gives all the rights we enjoy to giant corporations. If they have all the legal rights humans have, as well as billions of dollars, of course they will hold the power.
- We need campaign finance reform, so we can elect people to government who will work and get things done for the people and the environment rather than corporate profits.
- We need to give legal rights to nature, as Ecuador has done and other South American countries are emulating. The environment should not be considered our property.
- We need to cut back our military. Costa Rica, ranked No. 1 in happiness (the U.S. is 114th), abolished their military.
- We need to clean up the toxins in our environment and consumer products as we cleanse our bodies (every human body tested has toxins).
- We need to stop shipping one country’s food to another country to be processed and then to another country to be consumed. If we all grow more food locally and organically, we will minimize food miles and be healthier and happier.
- We need to value our fresh water as our life-blood. Half of the world's fresh water cycle is polluted. Our watersheds will save us, so we need to save our watersheds.
We need more people in the streets. We need to go out there and make our government get the things we want done.