It’s spring: Time to save the planet
Upcoming weeks offer several opportunities to join the fight against global warming. And in the age of a Donald Trump administration, the environment needs all the friends it can get.
Trump is proposing to cut the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency by as much as 31 percent. Climate change research and international climate change programs would be eliminated, as would core initiatives to protect air and water quality. A Trump budget would slash the EPA workforce by 19 percent, cutting 3,200 employees. Many regulations affecting fossil fuel industries such as oil, gas, and coal would disappear. After all, budget director Mick Mulvaney considers government funds spent on climate change “a waste of your money.”
We’re not going to change Trump’s climate change-denying ways. But there are many ways to fight for the environment on our own.
We can keep up the pressure with phone calls to lawmakers—if they hear from enough of us, we can kill the EPA cuts just as we killed Trumpcare. We can attend our local representatives’ town halls. We can work within our own communities and states, pressing for local action when we’re not getting any satisfaction on the federal level (the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions offers a blueprint on why and how to promote climate-friendly policies where you live). We can take individual actions, changing our own lifestyles in ways that lower the effects of global warming. And we can take part in group environmental activities such as the marches, teach-ins, rallies, and science fairs scheduled across the country in April.
Think of it as launching our own private war against EPA administrator Scott Pruitt.
The March for Science is on Earth Day, Saturday, April 22. The main march is planned for the National Mall in Washington, D.C., but there are more than 500 satellite marches planned around the world. The nonpartisan March for Science has partnered with Earth Day Network and will hold a science rally and teach-in as part of the Washington event. Astronauts, CEOs of science organizations and environmental groups, and United Nations representatives are among the scheduled speakers at the rally on the National Mall, which will precede the actual march.
Other cities are holding their own educational events, such as a science expo planned at the Field Museum campus on Chicago’s lakefront. The San Francisco march will offer leading scientists from the Bay Area as speakers and an afternoon science fair.
As the March for Science organizers say on their website:
The March for Science is a celebration of science. It’s not only about scientists and politicians; it is about the very real role that science plays in each of our lives and the need to respect and encourage research that gives us insight into the world. Nevertheless, the march has generated a great deal of conversation around whether or not scientists should involve themselves in politics. In the face of an alarming trend toward discrediting scientific consensus and restricting scientific discovery, we might ask instead: can we afford not to speak out in its defense?
People who value science have remained silent for far too long in the face of policies that ignore scientific evidence and endanger both human life and the future of our world. New policies threaten to further restrict scientists’ ability to research and communicate their findings. We face a possible future where people not only ignore scientific evidence, but seek to eliminate it entirely. Staying silent is a luxury that we can no longer afford. We must stand together and support science.
Besides being the 47th anniversary of the first Earth Day, the date of the march also coincides with the one-year anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement. The event’s partners include Greenpeace, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Nature Conservancy, the National Society of Black Physicists, the American Medical Student Association, and many others. Another partner is 314 Action, a group aiming to “elect more STEM-trained candidates to public office.”
The People’s Climate Movement march is one week later, on Saturday, April 29. The main People’s Climate March also will be in Washington, with sister marches across the United States and around the world. It will be the fourth annual such march of the movement that started in 2014. The “week of action” between April 22 and April 29 has activities in Washington ranging from artists’ presentations about climate change to meeting with members of Congress.
More than 50 organizations have banded together on the People’s Climate Movement steering committee. They include environmental groups like 350.org, the Sierra Club, the National Resources Defense Council, and the League of Conservation Voters; several labor organizations such as the American Federation of Teachers and the Service Employees International Union; and many others. There also are 500 more groups as supporting partners.
April 29 was chosen for the People’s Climate March because it coincides with the 100th day of Donald Trump’s presidency. No doubt the media will be taking stock of how much Trump has and hasn’t accomplished. No doubt Trump will be tweeting about “winning.” (Oh, who are we kidding? He’ll be playing golf at Mar-a-Lago.) But while he’s on the links, many of us will be in the streets. Let’s turn the media’s attention to the environment. As the website puts it: “We need to mark that day with a massive demonstration that shows that our resistance is not going to wane or fade away.”
With two major marches only a week apart, many might wonder why the two events weren’t combined. Here’s the answer from the People’s Climate Movement website:
While climate change is a top issue for many March for Science organizers, the March for Science strives to be non-political. The Peoples Climate Movement, however, believes strongly in the need to call out the politicians who threaten our climate, communities, and jobs, and put forward an alternative vision for an economy that works for people and planet. The Peoples Climate Movement cares deeply about science — but social, economic, and climate justice are the heart of our work.
Ultimately, the two marches complement each other. On April 22, the March for Science will stand up for science and help educate the public (and all of us!) about the threat of climate change. For the next week, we’ll organize actions in our communities and in Washington, D.C. to advocate for climate, jobs, and justice. And then on April 29th, the week will culminate in the massive Peoples Climate Mobilization where hundreds of thousands of people will step into the streets together to put forward our own vision that works for our communities and the climate.
Educate, organize, mobilize. It’s a path forward for all of us who care about our communities, climate, and the future we need to build together.
The websites of both the March for Science and the People’s Climate March have links to register for the marches in Washington and other activities. There are links for artwork to use on posters. They also have search capabilities to find a local march near you; the number of sister marches seems to be growing daily.
So all of that is group action. Here are a few actions you can take on your own. A recent New York Times story listed some helpful tips in the fight against global warming. The No. 1 directive that will do the most to help the planet is to drive a more fuel-efficient vehicle (when you’re not taking public transportation, that is).
If vehicles averaged 31 miles per gallon, according to our research, the United States could reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 5 percent. … If every American household drove a vehicle getting 56 miles per gallon, it would reduce U.S. emissions by 10 percent. …
Though the United States has just 4 percent of the world’s population, it is responsible for 14 percent of man-made greenhouse gases that end up in the atmosphere. Transportation accounts for 27 percent of those emissions. And 60 percent result from driving personal vehicles. … Each year in the United States, 214 million drivers (with 240 million registered vehicles) drive 2.7 trillion miles, emitting about 2.4 trillion pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Other suggestions are things we already know, but it’s good to have some numbers to go along with the actions:
- Reduce the distance you drive by 1.2 percent.
- Keep your tires inflated to the recommended air pressure.
- Cut down driving over 70 mph by 25 percent. The same goes for “aggressive” driving, which can use more gas.
- Fly 10 percent less.
- Turn down your thermostat by three degrees for eight hours a day in winter.
- Replace at least one out of five incandescent light bulbs with LEDs.
- Reduce meat consumption by 7 percent, and eat less overall (2 percent food reduction).
- Cut the amount of discarded food by 13 percent.
Originally posted on Daily Kos on April 16, 2017.