Notes from the Climate Action Front

Summer Viewing

Screen Shot 2017-07-23 at 3.39.31 PMAl Gore’s new documentary, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, has just been released and it’s a must see, especially if you (like me) are becoming increasingly discouraged about progress on the Climate front. This film does not offer up the shock & awe of the original, but rather focuses on the man and the mission. This may or may not make you somewhat relieved, given the alarming state of the Environment on a global scale.

Gore represents as the beleaguered Sisyphus, muscling that bolder up the side of the mountain. He has been described as “a Zelig, at the center of pivotal events in late-twentieth-century/early-twenty-first-century American politics, history, and environmental concerns. He at once cuts a melancholy figure, schlepping his carry-on roller bag through airport security, and that of a man full of hope and optimism, with the powerful connections to world leaders and business titans to make things happen.”  He does indeed “make things happen” as is shown in the film when brokering a deal with the American solar company SolarCity and India’s Prime Minister Modi, making solar technology available to off-set hundreds of planned coal-fired power plants. The maneuver not only helped to secure India’s role in the Paris Climate Agreement, but simultaneously launched them onto the renewable energy stage with a pledge to cut carbon emissions by increasing clean energy shares – solar and wind – by 40 percent by 2022.

It’s not all sunshine and roses however and candid disappointments and near misses are on full display. But in the end we see the metal that Gore is made of and are left with the inspiring message that an army of organizations – civic, political, and grass roots – of which his Climate Reality Project is a leader, are making great strides and ultimately, a significant difference in the battle for our vulnerable, global ecosystem. I was lucky enough to attend the NYC screening of this sequel documentary and was able to chat with Gore. He is a tireless, generous, and relentless climate advocate. This one viewing helped to put the wind back in my sails.

Me and Al Gore at the NYC screening of An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power

Me and Al Gore at the NYC screening of An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power

The film concludes with the important, inspiring work being achieved by the Climate Reality Leaders Corp. Since the success of An Inconvenient Truth, Gore has been educating and training a global network of activists committed to spreading awareness of the climate crisis and working towards solutions. To attract those who aren’t able to commit to a Climate Reality leadership workshop, Gore has created the Truth in 10 slideshow, a 10-minute presentation that will help you spread a simple message to your community: the climate crisis is urgent, but the solutions are at hand.

Summer Reading

If you are on the quest for even more practical evidence that the fight for our climate is in full swing, check out former NYC Mayor, Michael Bloomberg and former Sierra Club executive director, Carl Pope’s new book, Climate Of Hope. Billed as an “optimistic conversation about climate change and real solutions,” the book begins with the premise: “Each part of the problem of climate change has a solution that can make our society healthier and stronger.” Pope and Bloomberg offer that the alternative to debating the long-term consequences of climate degradation is to narrow the focus to immediate threats – and arguing about making huge sacrifices for the future is unproductive. The example given in the book is that of global disease: “When scientists set out to rid the planet of disease, they don’t attempt to cure every disease at once, and they don’t expect a single research team to come up with all the answers. “

Screen Shot 2017-07-23 at 4.04.05 PMClimate of Hope calls for refocusing the narrative on choices that make market-sense and boost the economy. Bloomberg uses the “war on coal” example of how climate advocates resort to defensiveness and hiding behind technical, climate-science talk that goes well beyond the grasp of your average citizen. Instead, Bloomberg insists that the conversation should focus on the immediate health threat of burning coal and exactly what it costs in lives and dollars. Communicating this way makes the threat suddenly tangible, allowing for engagement that excelerates a path to solutions. “Parts per million” is not readily understandable to the average person. Even the concept of sea level rise is more abstract to someone living in Kansas compared to someone living in Miami. Carl Pope, has come around to Bloomberg’s way of thinking in terms of getting results. Bloomberg Philanthropies provided a fifty million dollar infusion to The Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal initiative and gave it the injection it needed to expand the campaign from 15 to 45 states and develop better data and analytics to help take on the coal industry more methodically.

You might be interested to know that since the launch of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal initiative in 2010, 724 units of dirty coal have been retired with 550 units to go!

“The changing climate should be seen as a series of discrete, manageable problems that can be attacked from all angles simultaneously.”          – Climate of Hope

The belief that fear alone does not galvanize people to fight climate change is one that I have come to accept. People easily disregard facts that are beyond their grasp and/or control. In the case of climate change, reality creeps up incrementally – as the ‘frog slowly boiling to death’ example so aptly demonstrates. To keep yourself informed, inspired and in tune with the positive solutions we are achieving, put both Climate Of Hope & Gore’s, An Inconvenient Sequel on your list as practical antidotes to despondency!

 

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Here at Jenny Green Jeans, by sharing success stories and easy-to- implement tips, I hope to inspire and empower you to continue to make sustainable choices in your life and watch how far the impact goes. Contact me with any questions or suggestions you may have.

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