. . . on leading the public into emergency mode: a new strategy for the climate movement.’
It has been hard to voice what is going on inside my head since the election. To just do my job at work and help run a house of four was enough to occupy my time while I sorted through my thoughts and feelings to come up with a course of action.
The day after the election this quote was in my horoscope: “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” —William Arthur Ward
A few days later this quote popped up: “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” —Angela Davis
Then this one: “The inspiration you seek is already within you. Be silent and listen.” — Rumi
Eleven days of protests in the streets, signs of a healthy society rebelling against the changes in the tides of the political world.
Since 2004 I have been an educator about green building. Since 2007 I have endeavored to convey the important role the built environment has in our effect on climate change.
In early October, a friend, Nigel Howard (who was Vice President of the USGBC in 2003 when Annie and I met him) posted a link to a paper with a new strategy for the climate change movement on the group for Sustainability Professionals on LinkedIn titled Climate Emergency. This is a link to that paper: http://theclimatepsychologist.com/leading-the-public-into-emergency-mode-a-new-strategy-for-the-climate-movement/
The election does not change anything about our war on climate change except that it defines where we can not look for leadership, the President elect or the legislature.
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. People might not get all they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all they get. Without a struggle, there can be no progress. It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.” – Frederick Douglass
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
“Today, man is still, or more than ever, man’s enemy, not only because he continues as much as ever to give himself over to massacres of his fellow kind, but also because he is sawing off the branch on which he is sitting: the environment.” – Cornelius Castoriadis
“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.” – Chief Seattle 1855.
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” – Buckminster Fuller
If you want to see how much things have already changed look at this YouTube talk by Joe Romm: “Climate Change Solutions : What you thought you knew is obsolete”.
On an upbeat note, word came out the other day that worldwide emissions have remained level for the third straight year. We need to work to start decreasing emissions with a goal of reaching zero soon, but considering that when I started following this data in 2007 emissions were rising at almost 10% a year, so for “us” to bring it down to zero increase is a huge achievement.
Some of the reason our emissions have leveled off is that we are using energy more efficiently, but there is a lot of room for improvement.
When you drive your car or use an appliance, give thanks to Jimmy Carter whose work on energy efficiency and renewable energy brought us the first fuel economy standards, the first energy efficiency and renewable energy tax incentives and the Energy Star program all of which led to a 15% reduction in our nations energy use which led to a drop in the price of oil for which Reagan took responsibility.
The writer of “Leading the Public into Emergency Mode: A new Strategy for the Climate Movement” has formed a non profit called The Climate Mobilization and they are looking for organizations to form local chapters. Since the Alliance is already active on this front becoming a local chapter makes a lot of sense. http://www.theclimatemobilization.org/
Personally, I believe that our response to climate change will be the defining moment when we achieve civilization and it may be that it took the election of Donald Trump to unite us and prepare for the swing of the pendulum in the other direction that is imperative and inevitable for us to survive.
Keep up the fight!
Bruce Wilson, 12/1/2016
Bruce Wilson says
Ten years ago I was doing research for a talk I was to give at Lehigh, an Introduction to Green Building for the Business School students. It was the first talk I wrote myself having used USGBC Power Point presentations for previous talks since 2004.
I looked at our countries energy use and the cost of oil and the health of our economy. I noticed that when oil prices rose our use declined slightly and our economy sputtered, like the first OPEC oil embargo of the 70’s. When the Carter administration focused on energy efficiency and renewable energy our use decline much more which drove the price of oil down since we were the biggest users of oil. At the same time our economy grew steadily. Reagan took responsibility for the low price of oil and the economic growth, but they were started by investments in efficiency and renewable energy.
Since 2007 I have been teaching about the importance of energy improvements to existing buildings because the built environment uses 40% of our energy and produces 40% of our Carbon Emissions. Since most buildings are older buildings the potential for energy savings and making a real dent in our Carbon Footprint while earning a good return on the investment makes energy improvements to existing buildings the most effective short term goal for limiting global warming.
In 2014, to show how important buildings are in our efforts to combat climate change The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change‘s Fifth Assessment report (AR5), focused on buildings.
Quite simply, if you own a building and want to do something to combat climate change get an energy audit and follow its recommendations.
I have done deep energy retrofits where we lowered the buildings energy use for heating and cooling by 80%. What the building owner likes best is the improved comfort.
The one thing Carter got wrong, was he stressed turning down the thermostat and putting on a sweater, with building science we can put the sweater around the house to make it more comfortable instead.