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 350.org. 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 350.org 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 Climateprogress.org.
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 350.org 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.
— Mike Tidwell is author of Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana’s Cajun Coast.