Inspiration we can believe in: Global climate action this Sunday for 10/10/10

Our guest blogger is Mike Tidwell, director of Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

After a decade as a full-time climate activist, I’ve come to depend on two potent forces to keep me going. One is the blogging of Joe Romm. It keeps me informed — and mostly bummed out (no offense Joe!) — about the latest climate science and relevant political scuttlebutt. The other force is writer Bill McKibben and his activist group They keep me and millions of others inspired, somehow, against all odds.

This Sunday, those forces come together. On 10/10/10, as part of more than 6,000 “Work Parties” all over the world, the group will be co-sponsoring a rally outside the White House at Lafayette Square. Speakers will include Dr. James Hansen of NASA, Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute, and Dr. Romm himself of

Most of these Work Parties in 187 countries will feature people doing stuff to fight climate change: weatherizing homes, putting solar panels on roofs, planting trees. The point is to show public leaders that real people are getting to work where they live. Now it’s time for politicians to get to work, too, by adopting a global cap on climate pollution.

Two years into his administration, Obama is clearly hearing part of the message. Just this week, the White House announced it would be installing a big set of solar panels soon on the nation’s First Roof. This after a high-profile campaign by this fall urging the White House to do exactly that as an act of powerful symbolism and re-dedication to the cause. 

Symbolism accomplished. Now we need the re-dedication part. Speakers at the White House 10/10/10 event this Sunday will surely point out many of the Administration’s clean-energy accomplishments to date, including $70 billion in green investments under the economic stimulus bill. But we need much, much more. The truth is Obama has led mostly “from the rear” on global warming, not from the front. (See this week’s New Yorker article). It’s time for Obama to finally make global warming and green jobs the top, top priorities of his administration in 2011.

If nothing else, the weather in DC this year should be a motivation. While Russia has burned and Pakistan has flooded, the nation’s capital has seen its share of unbelievable weather. The town shattered all records for snow accumulation this past winter. Then came the appalling thunderstorms and blackouts of the summer. On top of all that has been the relentless heat. Washington just finished its hottest summer on record, by far.

Drawing attention to such warming-driving extreme weather conditions in DC and around the world is part of the point of the 10/10/10 Work Parties this weekend. The solution? Get off the energy from hell. Stop digging up dirty energy from underneath the ground – oil, coal, natural gas – and burning it to create hellish conditions on Earth. Let’s switch instead to the energy from heaven. Energy from the sun. Energy from wind. Energy from our farm fields.  

Now that’s inspiring. Want more? Visit to or

— Mike Tidwell is author of Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana’s Cajun Coast.

9 Responses to Inspiration we can believe in: Global climate action this Sunday for 10/10/10

  1. Joe1347 says:

    Better link to the 10/10/10 rally

  2. Roger says:

    I agree, Mike! And, good for Obama, too, for listening to us!

    We’ve been saying for several years that Obama should be out in front, and that every climate-concerned oganization should work, in unison, to focus our attention on encouraging Obama to do more. He can do much more than he has, though he deserves praise for what he’s done.

    So, everyone, send our emerging climate/energy leader a note of thanks at! (The comment box is in the upper right corner.)

    Warm regards,

  3. James Newberry says:

    Thanks Mike Tidwell. I’ll be at an event this Sunday (Sun Day). I was the permit holder for a city event at last October’s International Day of Climate Action.

    May I make a suggestion for possible improvement of message. The phrase “digging up dirty energy” is somewhat meaningless in a scientific sense, although it has become standard rhetoric in the climate battle. Yet, just as there is really nothing wrong “with the climate,” since it is appropriately responding to very bad human behavior via natural law, the Eaarth does not know of “dirty energy.” What you are referring to might appropriately be defined as toxic, mined, explosive materials that when oxidized (from combustion) become carbonic acid gas which not only contaminates the ocean through acidification but is a powerful heat retaining (radiative forcing) change of atmosphere (or air) leading directly to national and global insecurity on multiple levels.

    The Fraud of Fossil Fools
    All physical phenomena on the planet may be described via the concepts of Matter and Energy. The objects you refer to are not “energy resources,” they are material substances (in the three phases of matter). This failure of concept, and attendant jargon, results in the inconsistencies and perversity of present cultural norms, including historic and present federal policies of providing “cheap fuels” via massive economic subsidies (direct, indirect and external), even as we disregard social/national costs that are far larger than perceived price. These unaccounted costs may, in time, include our nation and our lives.

  4. John Mason says:

    That sounds truly inspirational. I can’t attend myself – there’s an ocean in the way and I don’t fly – but hoping some of the proceedings might be watchable online!

    Cheers – John

  5. Thanks for your post Mike. I don’t know you but have been following some of your posts on Grist. Particularly enjoyed the “Consider Using the N-Word Less” piece. I use that in my teaching all the time.

    Amazing things are happening in Minnesota for 10-10-10. I’m part of a coalition of organizers who are putting on a coordinated festival – celebrating and inspiring local leadership on climate change. Check out our event:

    What’s cool about this is that it really is taking off as a viral network of people working in their own circles to bring people together. I’ve met so many amazing new people with different takes on the “solutions”. It really feels like transformation in that it’s not centrally organized.

  6. fj2 says:

    Great group of advocacy.

    We really have to start making common knowledge the incredible potential of solutions that directly mitigate the rapidly accelerating environmental devastation caused by climate change with intense investment in human capital and natural capital regeneration.

  7. Wit's End says:

    I agree with everything you wrote, Mike, with the HUGE exception of advocacy for producing “energy from our farm fields,” assuming by that you refer to biofuels.

    Aside from the concerns about switching fields from food production, and the pesticides and herbicides based on petroleum, an even more important issue is that there has been almost zero research about the effects of the EMISSIONS on human and vegetative health. The sole scientist I know of who has looked into this topic, Mark Jacobson of Stanford, has indicated in more than one published paper that emissions of biofuels (acetaldehyde, and peroxyacetyl nitrates) are WORSE for both humans (think cancer and chronic, even fatal respiratory complications) and plant life than the ozone from fossil fuels.

    Given that the biosphere is already collapsing – crop yields are shrinking and trees and other plants are dying at a rapidly accelerating and rather terrifying rate – I think it would be sheer idiocy to promote even more widespread use until it is proven safe (which will never happen).

    I’ll be in Washington Sunday, and seriously suggest that everyone who goes there – in fact, everyone who goes anywhere – just take a look at the trees along the way, and try to remember, they are supposed to have leaves turning bright colors right now, not bare branches…and ask yourself, what will a world without them be like?

  8. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I’m with Wit’s End concerning biofuels, an incredible disaster on several fronts. We’ve just got to walk a lot more, I’m afraid, or build mass transit systems. More evidence that ‘market solutions’ are just new dead-ends, new horrors. The only path for human salvation,is, I believe, global co-operation between people to rehabilitate the planet, and to lessen further damage. The latter requires passive sabotage of the neoplastic capitalist economic system, by a radical reduction in consumption, and by localising initiatives like growing your own food in backyard or neighbourhood gardens. It will stuff the system, and cause harm to blameless others, but there is no alternative. If successful, the powers that be will criminalise it, whereupon we will just have to go to gaol. Actually, what is required is akin to what they did in Cuba in the 1990s, when they lost the economic support of the Soviet. The Cubans did it, and I believe that its economy was judged, a few years ago, to be the only ecologically sustainable one on the planet. There’s a rich irony.