stepbystep2WITHOUT TRYING TO SOUND ALL HELLFIRE AND BRIMSTONE OR DEEP-FRIED SOUTHERN GOTHIC, I’ve got to share the garish headline spiel I ran across on the back of an early-60s paperback I’m currently engrossed in: “step by step … deed by deed … they fashioned their own destruction.” It bejewels a musty, well-worn copy of Flannery O’Connor’s The Violent Bear It Away, but I was thinking—for Green Dynamind and with the International Day of Climate Action taking place tomorrow—that it’s an appropriate tag for where we’re heading if we keep on our current path of irresponsible and oblivious mega-consumption. And then the new issue of Scientific American arrived in the post, with its upbeat cover story, “A Plan for a Sustainable Future: How to get all energy from wind, water and solar power by 2030,” (more on this in a bit), and I thought, along with all the coordinated noise many will make across the globe tomorrow, maybe we can turn our spiel into “step by step … deed by deed … they fashioned their own salvation.” Now wouldn’t that be something to get excited about?!

350_Banner_VerticalBILL MCKIBBEN, FOUNDER OF 350.ORG AND PRIMARY FORCE BEHIND THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF CLIMATE ACTION, shared in an e-mail this morning that more than 4,000 events are planned to take place tomorrow in over 175 nations in “the single most widespread day of political action about any issue that our planet has ever seen.” The 350 in McKibben’s refers to the parts per million of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere that many scientists consider a safe upper limit which, to avoid catastrophic climate change, we shouldn’t exceed—actually, where we need to get back to, as the current number is 387+. ( has a detailed FAQ that’s as informative as it is sobering.)

It’s definitely not too late to get involved in the International Day of Climate Action and make your voice heard. Action resources include downloadable posters, fliers, sign-up sheets, stencils and organizing guides.’s action map can show you events that are going on in your area. Based here in Portland, Oregon, for instance, my options include “350(+) Pints @ 3:50pm” (Portland, aka Beervana, is a capital-B Beer town, for sure), a Metro Council-endorsed climate action rally at Pioneer Courthouse Square (an aerial photo will be taken at 2:00 p.m. and sent to the upcoming UN Copenhagen Climate Conference), a climate walk from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. along the Portland waterfront, a bike ride + photo op from Portland’s east side to the downtown rally point, an Abundant Harvest Celebration benefitting the ACS (American Center for Sustainability) 2010 Plant Project and lots, lots more. Event photos from all over the world will be projected on big screens in New York’s Times Square and distributed to media and world leaders for top-of-mind freshness at Copenhagen.

And speaking of Copenhagen, home of the United Nations Climate Change Conference from December 7 through 18, concern over conference victories, concessions, agreements and breakdowns continues to spark debate; economics, no surprise, plays a big part. A recent “Road to Copenhagen” New York Times piece by Elisabeth Rosenthal puts the price tag of a new climate agreement at $100 billion by 2020, needed primarily for fast-tracking countries (e.g., India and Brazil) to convert to cleaner technologies as they industrialize; also to help poorer countries, many of whom will first bear the brunt of climate change, deal with drought and rising ocean levels. Rosenthal reports: “But to date there is no concrete strategy to raise such huge sums. There is not even agreement about which nations should pay or in what proportion.” Peachy. Hopefully the United States can step up, acknowledge and take responsibility for its ridiculously outsized culpability (U.S. greenhouse gas emissions account for 29 percent of the world’s total), even at a time when DEBT is a blasphemous four-letter word and “further government fiscal action” is tantamount to apostasy.

Sci Am Nov 09In November’s Scientific American‘s “Keys to Copenhagen” Perspectives, the magazine’s editors rally around a United States that leads “the world to a historic emissions agreement by committing to its own sweeping energy transformation,” which revolves around subsidizing and expanding development of renewable energy sources. The price of fossil fuels also needs to be raised, the editorial asserts, to account for their environmental damage. The pitched battle certain to follow adoption of such a plan is acknowledged: “[O]n the whole, the coal, natural gas and oil industries will not give up the government largesse meekly, so politicians will have to resist intense lobbying from them [emphasis mine].” Okay, SciAm, that sounds like a nice realistic-optimistic-tempered melange and positive spirit to take to Copenhagen, where with “[c]ommitment in Congress and President Barack Obama’s personal attendance … [it] may be enough to prompt nations to seek a meaningful agreement.”

I love the idea of taking personal responsibility (and having the free will to do so!)—scaled up as required to fit the matter in question—as opposed to applying something akin to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s five stages of dying: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Notice how it starts with DENIAL—and ends with DEATH. It brings me back to the “step by step,” “deed by deed” spiel that opened this piece and how actions can speak louder than words; apply that on a global scale, be it the people-powered International Day of Climate Action or the world-leaders-soon-to-be-attended United Nations Climate Change Conference, and we’ve got an actual opportunity for step, and deed, change—wrought extra-large and emphatic, like taking destruction and replacing it with salvation.

So get involved and make some noise tomorrow. Then keep at it, keep at it, keep at it. Help fight widespread obliviousness and the insidious power of denial. How many more opportunities in our lifetime will we have?

NOTE: Keep in mind that the U.S. Senate still must consider the House-passed (albeit watered-down) American Clean Energy and Security Act (Waxman-Markey Bill). Oslo-based energy-consultants Point Carbon puts the chances of the bill passing the Senate before the Copenhagen talks at 30 percent.

And this just in:
Pushing for Energy Legislation, Obama Takes on Critics (from The New York Times): BOSTON—President Obama, taking aim at business interests that have lobbied against an energy and climate bill moving through Congress, called on legislators Friday to rally around the push toward greater use of renewable energy. Read the complete story.

An impressive photo page has been set up on Flickr.


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