Posted by The 350.org Coordinating Team on April 15th, 2008
The Step It Up website will remain online as a memorial to all the incredible movement activity and success in 2007. Yet the Step It Up blog is coming to a close. In no way does that mean, however, that the movement is closing up shop. On the contrary -- the movement, and the blog along with it, is going global. Visit 350.org to check out what's emerging in the global grassroots movement to fight global warming.
Posted by The 350.org Coordinating Team on April 14th, 2008
In honor of the 1 year anniversary of our National Day of Climate Action, here is the e-mail that we sent to Step It Up supporters:
For hard-boiled political organizers, we’re basically nostalgic sentimentalists at heart, and so this week we’re thinking back with great fondness to last April 14, and the 1,400 demonstrations and rallies and events that you organized in all 50 states for the Step It Up National Day of Climate Action It was an awfully sweet day, with powerful results–not only was an urgent call to action issued from every corner of the country, but now it’s not uncommon to hear Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama echo your call for 80% Carbon Cuts by 2050.
And yet global warming continues, so we wanted to bring you up to date with where we are and let you in on the ground floor of our new effort:
* Step It Up has, as you know, joined with lots of other grassroots organizers across the country to form 1Sky.org, which is picking up real speed as one of the centers of the American fight against climate change. Please help them with their efforts—they report that former Step It Up organizers around the country took the lead in a series of 500 visits to Congressional offices earlier this spring. We think that with their leadership we’re very much on track to see significant climate change legislation as soon as President Bush leaves office
* Meanwhile, the science around climate change has continued to darken. We all watched the Arctic melt last summer, and an ice shelf the size of Connecticut crumple in the southern ocean this winter. James Hansen, our foremost climatologist, has just issued the most important scientific assessment of global warming in many years, which you can read here. Basically, it calls for limiting carbon concentrations in the atmosphere to below 350 parts per million. In fact, Hansen says: “If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm.”
* Therefore, our organizing team is launching a new venture: 350.org. The final website won’t be ready for a few weeks, but since you’re family we’re letting you know now. In fact, we hope very much that you’ll visit the preliminary website that we’ve set up and start figuring out how to help.
Here’s our goal: We want to take this number, 350, and spread it all over the world.(more…)
Posted by The 350.org Coordinating Team on April 12th, 2008
350 is starting to make the news already. The USA’s top climatologist Jim Hansen was on the front page of the Guardian for his proclamation that 350 is humanity’s target. Check it out below:
Climate target is not radical enough - Study Says
Nasa scientist warns the world must urgently make huge CO2 reductions
Monday April 7 2008
One of the world’s leading climate scientists warns today that the EU and its international partners must urgently rethink targets for cutting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere because of fears they have grossly underestimated the scale of the problem.
In a startling reappraisal of the threat, James Hansen, head of the Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, calls for a sharp reduction in C02 limits.
Hansen says the EU target of 550 parts per million of C02 - the most stringent in the world - should be slashed to 350ppm. He argues the cut is needed if “humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilisation developed”. A final version of the paper Hansen co-authored with eight other climate scientists, is posted today on the Archive website. Instead of using theoretical models to estimate the sensitivity of the climate, his team turned to evidence from the Earth’s history, which they say gives a much more accurate picture.
Posted by The 350.org Coordinating Team on April 12th, 2008
For more on what 350.org is, visit the new beta website: www.350.org. The gist of it is that we're going global, and we need your help on several fronts. Funding is one of them...
Pulling off an international campaign won’t be easy, and will require a little bit of capital to give it a jumpstart. With your help, we can build a global team of translators, organizers, and storytellers to drive our message home.
To donate, please click here to make a donation to our fiscal sponsor, the Sustainable Markets Foundation. And after you do, shoot us an e-mail and tell us why you chose to stimulate the movement. That way we can thank you properly and (with your permission) share your story with the Project 350 network.
This weekend, I watched a new movement developing right in front of my eyes. As I scanned the faces around me in the plenary room at the Memphis Cook Convention Center, it was impossible to not feel a sense of excitement. We were emerging as a powerful new force for progressive change, one committed to the principle of "Green for All."
Over 1,000 people, myself included, gathered in Memphis for the Dream Reborn conference this weekend to stand upon the shoulders of giants and create a vision for a just and sustainable future. We gathered in the city where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot, on the 40th anniversary of his assassination, to pick up the torch of his legacy of economic justice and carry it in a new direction for a new generation. As we face the social crisis of poverty and the environmental crisis of global warming, are there solutions in sight? The Dream Reborn sought to explore this question — and the answer was an unequivocal "YES!"
Click here to continue reading on the 1Sky.org blog.
Posted by The Step It Up Organizing Team on March 11th, 2008
This is the fourth is a series of posts catching up the blog since our return from Bali…
Many folks have been emailing and asking whether there’s going to be a Step It Up 2008. Well, that’s really up to you…
No, we’re not doing another nationally web-coordinated Step It Up action (at least right now). But that’s not stopping folks from keeping this movement going. Some of the groups that first started organizing for Step It Up a year ago in preparation for April 14, 2007 are still going strong. Not only did they organize amazing Step It Up 2 actions last November and generate thousands of invitations to politicians, letting them know that we mean business, but now they’re raring ahead with new plans and new actions of their own accord.
Many folks have teamed up with 1Sky to keep the pressure on their state’s senators and representatives with the Spring Into Action effort going on this month. Others are ahead with their own local action plans, stepping it up even more. And this is just what we need. Despite all the amazing action and activity around global warming in the last year, Congress is still just limping along, hardly in sight of taking the action we need. Presidential candidates are now talking a good game on climate (mostly). But talk isn’t enough. We need Congress to step it up and take action. The only way to make that happen is to keep the pressure on and escalate this movement.
You might be wondering then, what it is that our team is doing, if not organizing another Step It Up? We haven’t been idle this winter either. Stay tuned for our next plan. And in the meantime, feel free to keep in touch and let us know what you’re working on.
On April 4-6 in Memphis, Tennessee, 1Sky’s allies in Green For All are hosting "The Dream Reborn," a national conference bringing together community, nonprofit, business, and student leaders from across the nation. Together we will commemorate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King on the 40th anniversary of his assassination and celebrate a new generation of visionary leaders. By bringing together green-collar practitioners and advocates, we will exchange our best models and ideas, and we will provide a forum for learning about the new green economy in the spirit of Dr. King’s dream for racial and economic justice.
This gathering has the potential to be a landmark moment in this new movement—with only five weeks to go, Green for All needs your help!
We expect this conference to fill up fast—go to http://greenreg.com/TheDreamReborn to get started. Also get your hotel room TODAY! Memphis will be packed on this historic weekend, and hotel rooms are going fast. On our website are the last hotel blocks available in downtown Memphis, but you must sign up no later than March 13th.
Everyone is welcome to register! Please note that in order to create an equitable green economy movement, Green for All is committed to prioritizing participation from working class communities of color. With that goal in mind, please contact your lists, show your friends the website, and do everything you can to get great people to The Dream Reborn.
1Sky and Green for All understand that working class people of color are the heart and soul of this movement. Amazing people are coming to the Dream Reborn: trainers, policymakers, practitioners, entertainers, scholars, activists, and mentors of every kind. It’s vital that we can bring community leaders and youth of color to Memphis to make the most of this incredible gathering. Yet too often, local nonprofits, community activists, and youth don’t have the resources to pay for travel, lodging, and registration. If you can spare anything to sponsor one of these community leader to come to the Dream Reborn, please lend your support. Green for
All will link you up directly with the people you’re sponsoring, so you can hear about the difference you’re making.
In Memphis, we have the potential to create something incredible: the launch of an unstoppable movement dedicated to fighting poverty and pollution at the same time. In whatever way you can, please join 1sky in working with Green for All to envision and create a green energy economy!
Click here to continue reading updates since Bali.
Posted by The Step It Up Organizing Team on March 10th, 2008
This is the second in a series of posts catching up the blog since our return from Bali…
January and February were more big months for the climate movement. As the presidential campaigns gradually took over all the airwaves amidst the mainstream media, the climate movement has just kept on churning out action.
Focus the Nation on January 31st culminated with over 1,700 events around the country! Way to focus, everyone, and congrats on rounding up such massive numbers. With it’s emphasis on students and solutions, we’re sure to start seeing even more new ideas and energy pouring forth from the youth movement, which is already swelling in incredible ways.
Remember Powershift 2007? Now state-level Powershift conferences are sweeping the country. Some are still in the works, so don’t fret if you thought you already missed out. But students haven’t been sticking to conferences either. There has been direct action, civil disobedience, and more. Take a look at itsgettinghotinhere.org for all the latest dispatches from the youth movement. The next wave of action is planned for April 1, Fossil Fools Day, which will be one of the first ever youth climate efforts coordinated globally.
And it’s not just the students that are continuing to step it up. 1Sky had a successful Valentine’s Day action and is now starting to get down and dirty with keeping the pressure on our politicians. Check out the plan to Spring Into Action and sign up today.
Click here to continue reading updates since Bali...
Posted by The Step It Up Organizing Team on March 10th, 2008
The first in a series of posts catching up the blog since our return from Bali…
In December 2007 our crew shipped off to the UN Climate Conference in Bali, Indonesia. Global warming wasn’t exactly stopped in Bali – the UN international processes have a tendency to live up to their reputation of making snail-paced progress. Looks fun, eh? Fortunately, the ground is being laid for some real breakthroughs down the road, assuming the US will sign on and cooperate with, if not lead, this global effort.
One of our tasks while in Bali was bearing the good news and energy from the US grassroots climate movement. We were most definitely well-received by those willing and interested to talk to a few 23-year-olds at a UN conference. And rest assured, the rest of the world is thrilled to know that all of you all are out there organizing for action in this country. It means a lot to folks that you, we, the grassroots, don’t intend to let this issue slide by without real action. But we still have a long ways to go till all our communities and all our leaders have stepped up to the climate challenge at the appropriate scale. We have to keep the movement moving.
While in Bali, we were also thrilled to meet and learn more about all the great folks building the movement in their own lands. With just a handful of those efforts combined, one petition alone had over 2 million signatures calling for action. The grassroots is a sizeable force.
Youth from around the world, organizations of all sizes and missions – they’re all taking on climate change in their own way. And increasingly large amounts of the worlds attention is turning to the international processes of figuring out how exactly we’re going to collectively address this global challenge. During the conference itself, we teamed up with several of the grassroots groups there to help pull off the great aerial photo calling for action now – just one symbol of how ready everyone is to work together for real action. The grassroots is ready.
And so, despite the slow pace of the UN meeting itself, we left Bali seeing real opportunity, sensing real hope for what can come. More action is brewing.
Now back in the states (aside from finding our new homes, as we headed to Bali homeless), we’re looking into all kinds of ways we might help from our US vantage point to see action through. There’s much to be done. Fortunately, the winter has not been an idle one…
Click here to continue reading updates since Bali.
Most of our crew is still here at the UN climate talks in Bali -- trying to carry the message that the US climate movement -- Step It Up, Power Shift, and countless more -- want to see bold, positive action before countries disperse tomorrow. To convey that message, there have already been a series of energized events and actions taking place inside and surrounding the conference here in Bali.
Every day of the conference there have been youth actions directly engaging conference negotiators inside the UN compound. And the youth, along with CAN International and Avaaz.org, have helped orchestrate the fossil awards of the day -- a dynamic presentation of what countries are doing the worst acts each day.
Furthermore, on Saturday, December 8th, local Balinese NGOs helped pull together a few thousand people taking to the streets as part of the international day of action on climate change. Then on Sunday our crew helped aerial artist John Quigley gather a crowd to form a giant Earth being washed away, and the text ACT NOW (above).
And with just 1 day left of the UN conference the urgent call to ACT NOW is that much more relevant. The countries assembled still have a long ways to go to establish a strong "Bali Roadmap" (as it's referred to here) for the next phase of international agreements to address climate change (to replace Kyoto). So we need your help to send the message that Americans support bold action, despite the disruptive role our government is playing...
Click here to sign a petition (and enter your postcode as 1sky in order to signify your connection to Step It Up and the 1sky campaign -- www.1sky.org -- if you so choose).
Our team will be joining numerous groups from around the world to deliver the names on numerous petitions to the international delegates on their final day here. Please sign today.
You can also click here to sign Al Gore's petition in support of his participation here in Bali. (And once we've all signed these petitions, let's get back to action organizing).
We can see it in Southern California, Georgia, the arctic, New Orleans, and now Bangladesh. And the most recent IPCC report tells us its worse than we thought. On the night of November 15th, Cyclone Sidr made landfall in Bangladesh, flooding villages, destroying crops, killing livestock, and reducing tens of thousands of homes into mud and sticks. Due to an early storm warning many were able to get to shelter during the cyclone, but now many are returning to find their lives and livelihoods decimated. The government estimates 4 million people to have been affected by the storm.
Two days after Cyclone Sidr hit Bangladesh, the IPCC released their 4th and final summary report, declaring that global warming "could lead to abrupt and irreversible climate changes and impacts."The report also stresses that global warming and its effects are happening faster than anyone predicted, as sea levels and extreme weather events are on the rise. Bangladesh is truly a canary in the coalmine in terms of the climate crisis. The combination of rising seas and extreme weather events like Cyclone Sidr will in all likelihood be devastating for a nation with a lot of poverty and little capacity to handle these challenges.
We haven't asked you to do anything like this before, but its becoming increasingly clear that we need to both mitigate future impacts of global warming, and at the same time, help those around the world who are already experiencing the effects. Here are a few sites who are helping with the relief effort in Bangladesh:
Amidst the sobering news of the 4th IPCC report that was released today, there is some reason to feel hopeful. No doubt moved by the efforts of citizens like you all around the country and at Powershift, Henry Waxman (D-CA) announced yesterday his plans to introduce a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants. Congratulations on your great work - together, we can make our voices heard and shut down the possibility of any new coal-fired power plants. Check out the source, here:
Our friend Rev. Fred Small has been on the front lines of the climate change struggle for years. Last week, he gave this sermon about the historic weekend of November 3rd, expressing the hope he feels for the next chapters of this rapidly growing movement. We thought you all might enjoy it...
The New Youth Climate Movement A sermon by Rev. Fred Small
First Church Unitarian, Littleton, MA
November 11, 2007
"And now abide faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."
So wrote Paul the Apostle to close the thirteenth chapter of his famed letter to the Christian community at Corinth. It's still my favorite passage in the Bible, no matter no how many weddings I hear it at. Love is the most important thing, the one essential thing, the most powerful force, I believe, in the universe.
And that's a good thing, because my faith and hope have been taking quite a beating lately. If faith demands confidence in the outcome and hope optimism, then global warming can really do a number on faith and hope.
With accelerating certainty and alarm, the scientists are telling us we're in for some very rocky times, our children even more so.
It's really nice that Al Gore won the Oscar and the Nobel Peace Prize, but in the nearly two years since An Inconvenient Truth premiered, the United States government has done precisely nothing to stop global warming. Instead of inspiring international cooperation to change how we produce and use energy, the melting of the North Pole has incited an international race to see who can exploit its resources the fastest.
As Lily Tomlin likes to say, "Things are going to get worse before they get even worse."
So I'm relieved and a little astonished by the news I bring you this morning. News of love, yes, always, but news as well of faith and hope, even in the same breath as global warming.
Last weekend I joined nearly six thousand young people at Power Shift2007, the first national youth summit to address the climate crisis. One of a handful of middle-aged and elder guests, I sat on a panel on"Faith and Climate" and presented two workshops, "Spiritual Practicein Sustaining Activism" and "Songs and Song-leading for Activists." I felt honored to have been invited, but I felt awed to be in the presence of these dedicated young people as they come into their power, and not a moment too soon.
The new youth climate movement is big, it's diverse, it's savvy, and it's determined.
These young people know they're the first generation ever to inherit a habitat globally damaged by their parents, and frankly they're not thrilled about it. They're not going to settle for political lip service or corporate green washing. These kids are dead serious, they're wicked smart, and they're fired up.
Thousands of teenagers, college students, and twenty-somethingsstreamed to the University of Maryland campus for Power Shift. They came from all fifty states, 300 congressional districts, and more than twenty countries. For three days they listened to speakers like Nancy Pelosi, Ed Markey, Bill McKibben, Winona LaDuke, George Lakoff, and Van Jones, as well as their own youth leaders. They attended panels on environmental justice, human rights, alternative energy, green jobs, communications, lobbying, and voter registration. They jammed classrooms for workshops with titles like "Strategic Tools for Movement Building," "Non-Violent Direct Action 101," "History & Principles of Environmental Justice," "Ecofeminism," "Wind Power on Campus", "Digital Organizing," "How to Be the most Persuasive Person in the Room," and "Preparing for Bali: Effective Youth Engagement in Global Negotiations."
The young people I encountered struck me as idealistic, pragmatic, and eager to learn.
Christians, Jews, and Muslims attending the "Faith and Climate" panel sought scriptural and religious grounding for climate stewardship. Others less religious were curious how faith might support and inform activism. A number were delighted to be introduced to Unitarian Universalism. At the workshop I led on spiritual practice, participants were looking for practical tools to sustain their commitment and avoid burnout. My workshop on songs and songleading, attended by over thirty singers, reviewed the powerful impact of singing in movements past and shared tricks of the trade. Misreading the schedule, I arrived ten minutes late to find the room already filled with song. They were teaching each other!
Power Shift was far and away the most racially diverse environmental gathering I've ever witnessed. Sure, white folks were in the majority, but people of color were everywhere—in the seats, on staff, as presenters, as performing artists, and as keynote speakers. African-American teenagers sported t-shirts emblazoned with the words "Green the Ghetto." Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr. President of the Hip Hop Caucus, fulminated against global warming like a Baptist preacher denouncing fornication. One African-American hip hop artist rhapsodized on "the energy between God, Mother Earth, and me"; another linked polar bears, the evacuees of New Orleans, and detainees at Guantanamo.
Faith Gemmill of the Gwich'in people of Alaska told us of the Porcupine River Caribou Herd, upon which the Gwich'in have depended for subsistence since the dawn of time. Each spring, the caribou cross the frozen Porcupine River to reach their calving grounds in the north. But in 2000, the river thawed early, blocking their migration. The pregnant caribou dropped their calves on the southern bank, but instinct demanded they reach the safe haven of their calving grounds or perish. The mothers plunged into the swollen river, calling their calves to follow. 45,000 calves drowned.
Majora Carter, Executive Director of Sustainable South Bronx, told us global warming is an issue transcending race. "Don't all people want beauty in their lives?" she asked. "Don't we want all of our people to be happy, healthy, and productive people? Everybody needs someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to. If people don't feel that their life is contributing to something, they feel isolated, angry, and alone. Don't we all want to be part of a larger movement to improve the society we share?"
The United States, she lamented, represents just 5% of the world's population, but 25% of the world's greenhouse emissions—and 25% of the world's incarcerated. Her voice broke as she spoke of one in three African-American men facing imprisonment in their lifetime. "I am tired of looking at my brothers and sisters and praying they beat the odds. I am tired of thinking, 'Which one is going to be doing time because of opportunities denied?'" She led thousands of us in a chant: "Green jobs, not jails! Green jobs, not jails!" "I need to hear you say it," she entreated, and who could deny her?
With so many voters in one place, it didn't take long for politicians to come calling. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Ed Markey both appeared unscheduled Saturday night on the main stage.
Congressman Markey spoke first. In full-throated Ted-Kennedy-style rhetoric, he had the crowd cheering his call for youth to lead in against global warming. They cheered again when he called for legislation to increase fuel economy and support renewable energy. But when he boasted the bill would reduce global warming pollution by 40%,the cheers turned into a chant: "We want more! We want more! We want more!" and then "80 by 50! 80 by 50! 80 by 50!" meaning 80% reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2050, which is what the scientists say we'll need to stop global warming. It seemed to me a pretty sophisticated chant for five thousand kids.
Congressman Markey, figuring if he couldn't beat 'em, he'd better join 'em, led a brief chant of "Hey, Hey, What do you say? Global warming stops today!" and swiftly surrendered the stage to Nancy Pelosi.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives immediately endorsed 80%by 2050. She compared the assembled youth to the "magnificent disrupters" who founded the United States of America. The crowd responded positively, although I noticed one young man standing silently throughout her speech holding aloft a human spine (whether real or replica, I couldn't tell) as if in offering.
Later that evening, Bill McKibben, at age 46 the grand old man and reluctant rock star of the climate movement, ascended the stage flanked by the shock troops of the Step It Up campaign a generation younger. "I got to tell you what you guys look like out there," McKibben began, leaning his gangly frame into the microphone. "You look like a movement... This is the next great movement on this planet, and we better get it right or it will be the last great movement on this planet. You can't just change your campus, you've got to change your world. My colleagues behind me in Step It Up have organized 2000 demonstrations in all fifty states of this country. You can see the impact of all this organizing tonight. A year ago 80 by 50 was a radical idea, and tonight the most powerful person in the US Congress was leading a chant with those numbers. In twenty years of working on this, in twenty years of fearing on this, tonight's the most hopeful I've ever been."
On Monday, thousands of young people energized by the conference and trained in lobbying descended on the Capitol, rallied on the steps, and visited hundreds of lawmakers. Many wore green hard hats to dramatize their demand for green jobs, They crammed the hearing of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming(chaired by Congressman Markey).
Among those testifying was Billy Parish, founder of Energy Action, which organized Power Shift. At 26, Billy is now an elder statesman of the youth climate movement. "In four months I will be a father," he told the panel. "I urge you to consider what we say, not as politicians, but as fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters. This is our future. . . . We will solve this [crisis], but we cannot do it without you. And if you do not join us, then find yourself another job. We are in the millions, and we are organizing. We put you in office and we will take you out of office. This is our lives at stake."
When Billy Parish says we solve this crisis, he doesn't know when or at what cost. He doesn't know how much damage already will have been inflicted on our precious earth. He doesn't know how much suffering we will endure before we learn the lesson of ecological and spiritual interdependence.
Neither do I.
In my spiritual practice workshop, I reminded the young people that Mahatma Gandhi had persisted in more than a half-century of devoted activism by heeding the counsel of the Bhagavad Gita: "Action alone is in your control. It never extends to the fruits. Be not attached to the fruits of action nor be attached to inaction."
Who knows what the future holds? Maybe the skeptics are right, and global warming will turn out to be vastly overestimated. Wouldn't that be relief? Or maybe we're already doomed and just don't know it. All we can do is act with courage and integrity on the best knowledge we have.
"As for prophecies, they will come to an end. As for tongues, they will cease. As for knowledge, it will come to an end." Only love never ends.
But like Bill McKibben, in the glow of Power Shift I find myself strangely hopeful. Thousands of young people are taking the information, skills, and contagious energy of Power Shift back to their schools, colleges, and communities, and the movement will multiply. However dire the threats we face, as these young people take up the watch, the earth is in good hands.
The day after Power Shift 2007, a second-year student at New College of Florida named Amy Ortiz posted a blog on itsgettinghotinhere.org, an online forum of the youth climate movement. She captures the spirit of this movement far better than I ever could.
"The whole experience at Power Shift 2007," Amy writes, "was one of such incredible joy and optimism. Unlike most experiences I have had with climate change focused events, it didn't feel like we were facing incredible, insurmountable odds. Instead, I felt empowered, inspired and activated. This weekend, I realized more than ever before, that we CAN do it, and we WILL do it. As youth, we have the vision, passion and inspiration to lead our country towards the just, clean energy future we all dream of."
We've said it before, but it doesn't hurt repeating: this movement needs to keep on moving. Not only that, while we're busy making sure the United States addresses solutions like the 1Sky plan, we need to make sure we're engaging with the climate movement globally as well.
That's why it's good to know that momentum is building both here and abroad for the December 8th international day of action on climate change -- taking place during the United Nations climate negotiations in Bali.
Globally there are already groups in over 75 countries gearing up for action. And here in the US not only are there dozens of groups planning polar bear plunges there are also many groups joining the effort being coordinated by the climate crisis coalition. Visit their website to learn more and get involved: www.climatecrisiscoaltion.org.
This weekend, leaders of all stripes confronted Congress and let them know it's time for leadership at the federal level on global warming. Many of these leaders were all of you, who organized and participated in rallies in your hometowns, who invited your Congressmen to join you there, and tell you how they will be a leader on global warming and address the boldest plans out there. While you were rallying at home, 6,000 students rallied in Washington, D.C. and met with their members of Congress to lobby the on the 1 Sky priorities.
The third prong of last weekend's onslaught on Congress was the last event at the Mayor's Climate Protection Summit in Seattle. Mayor Bloomberg of NYC, Mayor Diaz of Miami, Mayor Nickels of Seattle, and Mayor Palmer of Trenton, NJ all were witnesses in a field hearing for the House global warming committee. According to Grist blogger David Roberts, "Committee hearings tend to be pretty staid affairs, but some sparks flew at this one". After easily debunking the common arguments such as "addressing global warming would drive jobs overseas and hurt the economy", or "what about China and India?", the mayors in attendance drove the point home that they have stepped up in their cities and towns, and now need a federal partner on the issue. You can read more about the hearing on the Grist, here.
Students, citizens, mayors...who else does Congress need to hear from to know this is a priority issue?
Posted by Step It Up Organizers on November 8th, 2007
Former Delaware Congressman Thomas B. Evans, Jr. (R) surrounded by a group of local children at the wind power rally in Rehoboth Beach.
From time to time we feel compelled to spotlight certain local struggles and initiatives. Sometimes, a challenge comes to our attention that seems like critical leverage points in the fight for a clean energy future. The wind project in Rehbooth, Delaware is one such case. Energized by a highly successful action on November 3rd, local organizer Marc Weiss is focusing on mobilizing those in and beyond his community of Rehbooth to support an offshore wind project. In this guest blog, check out Marc's call to action below--and let's stand in solidarity with Marc for clean power!
Delaware can become the first state to build offshore wind power.
Opponents of wind energy want to stop the Bluewater Wind project.
Tell our State Government we want them to complete the agreement and make wind power a reality now in Delaware.
Here’s why we need wind power in Delaware:
The Bluewater offshore wind power project will produce 13 percent of Delaware’s electricity. This energy is clean, safe, independent, non-polluting, non-greenhouse gas emitting, economically stable, cost-efficient, and very dependable over the long-term. Generating offshore wind energy will help prevent the tragedy of global warming and keep our coastal areas from being flooded and destroyed. We won’t need to go to war or pay $90 per barrel for wind power. It will save Delaware citizens $750 million on health care costs currently caused by air pollution from burning fossils fuels.
Send a letter, email, or fax to the following state agencies before November 13. Tell them to keep negotiating with Bluewater Wind until they close the deal:
Delaware Public Service Commission
Arnetta McRae, Chair
861 Silver Lake Boulevard
Cannon Building, Suite 100
Dover, DE 19904
Fax: (302) 739-4849
Email: [email protected]
Controller General’s Office
Russell T. Larson, Controller General
P.O. Box 1401
Dover, DE 19903
Fax: (302) 739-3794
Email: [email protected]
Office of Management and Budget
Jennifer W. Davis, Director
Haslet Armory, Third Floor
122 William Penn Street
Dover, DE 19901
Fax: (302) 739-5861
Email: [email protected]
Department of Natural Resources
John Hughes, Secretary
89 Kings Highway
Dover, DE 19901
Fax: (302) 739-6242
Email: [email protected]
Check out yet another video from this past weekend. On Saturday night, November 3, the Step It Up crew and Bill McKibben addressed a crowd of more than 6000 students. They came to Washington DC as part of the Powershift conference on climate change, and rallied all weekend for the 1Sky solutions. On Monday, they delivered your photos from Step It Up events all across the country to your members of congress. Lets keep this movement united, diverse and moving forward!
There are hundreds of great actions from Saturday to be highlighting, but we couldn't help spotlighting this great video put together by our organizing friends back in Burlington, VT:
Not only that, but as our crew along with the thousands of students taking part in Powershift 2007 delivered Step It Up photos to Congress, we stopped in to talk with Congressman Peter Welch, and he decided to join in the Green Finger Video Project with this new clip:
The energy and optimism that you helped create on Nov 3 at Step It Up events throughout the country is only growing. The Step It Up team has spent the last 24 hours in Washington, D.C. taking part in Power Shift 2007 and printing out thousands of photographs of Step It Up actions that will be hand delivered to Congress tomorrow when thousands of students lobby for global warming solutions.
Check out the latest video from the Power Shift 2007 student conference. And click here to take action and support the students who will be lobbying in Congress tomorrow:
These have been an historic few days for the growing movement pushing for climate solutions and a just, clean energy economy. Yesterday, hundreds and hundreds of actions took place around the country. You showed your leadership in a thousand different ways - whether organizing an action, attending a rally, or taking the time to invite your politicians to come out to Step It Up events around the country.
We are still giddy watching the hundreds of photos coming in from coast to coast. Whether it's a photo of high-school students in Berkeley, California holding a banner with the three 1 Sky priorities or a picture from a town meeting with their member of Congress in Maine, we exercised democracy this weekend and it looked amazing. For too long, the debate over global warming has stayed in Washington and remained the territory of energy companies, corporate lobbyists, and other vested interests. You helped bring it out of the halls of Congress and into city parks, streets, and meeting halls in our communities.
And your voice hasn't gone unheard. Over 80 members of Congress took part in yesterday's events. Tomorrow, we're building on that accomplishment.
Right now, I'm blogging from Power Shift 07, surrounded by thousands of students who are taking part in the first ever national youth summit on global warming. There's an incredible feeling here. Preparations are under way for the largest lobby day in global warming in our country's history. The coal and oil companies may have millions of dollars, but we have thousands of students who will be carrying photos from Step It Up actions around the country. Tomorrow, they'll meet with their Representatives, legislative aids, and other movers and shakers on the hill and demand that Congress enact the 1 Sky solutions: cutting carbon 80% by 2050, creating 5 million new green jobs, and declaring a moratorium on new coal fired power plants.
The weekend isn't over yet and we have already accomplished so much thanks to all of your help. You know us though, we're always asking for more . . . so if you've got a little more inspiration and fire after watching the pictures on our slide-show of Step It Up actions, click here to learn how you can play a key role in supporting the students in the Capitol tomorrow. It's going to be a historic day and we want you to be a part of it.
A new day is here, and we have much reason to celebrate.
We couldn't have imagined a better day yesterday -- this is a real movement we're seeing emerge. What a joy seeing hundreds of action photos and reports streaming in on the website -- and more are sure to come it today as well.
If you haven't submitted photos or videos from your action, please do so right away. Click here.
Though a little rest is extremely appealing right now, we're also immensely energized by all the actions that took place yesterday and our experience of sharing the incoming photos with the thousands of students that converged at the University of Maryland for Powershift (www.powershift2007.org). So we're going to be spending today printing out all the photos from your actions and getting them in the hands of the young people at Powershift. And tomorrow they'll be helping us deliver all these photos directly to members of Congress.
Be sure to add your voice of support by calling in. Click here for more details about Monday's call-in.
Thanks to everyone for helping make Nov 3rd such a great success. Stay tuned for more coverage and updates from yesterdays action. You won't believe the energy from the speakers and crowd at the Powershift event last night -- video coming soon.
I'm writing from backstage at Cole Memorial Field House on the campus of the University of Maryland. There are five thousand college kids out in the stands, cheering lustily at one speaker after another--it's an amazing scene, something we couldn't have even imagined a year or two ago.
But the real scene for us is on the computer screen, where we've been watching pictures flash in from StepItUp actions all across the country. From the gale-lashed shores of Cape Cod to the sunny mid-west and the sunnier still California coast, we've been amazed by what you've accomplished. This is too much fun--we can't thank you all enough.
We're about to go on stage and share your successes with the nation. Rest satisfied, folks--you did your job!
There are few places in America more meaningful than the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. It's message of unity, reconciliation, and courage under the most difficult and challenging of circumstances is as relevant today as any time in our history. As Bill has said, we need a movement as morally urgent and powerful as the Civil Rights Movement to stop global warming and create a just, clean energy economy for all people.
Today, hundreds of people rallied in front of this historic site to launch this new movement. We heard from leaders like Van Jones, who's new organization Green For All is uniting people of all backgrounds behind the message of a clean energy economy strong enough to lead people out of poverty, and Courtney Fryxell, the young woman and extraordinary organizer who pulled the entire event together.
Van had it right when he said, "This is a weekend to remember. The kind of weekend that goes down in history." With hundreds of grassroots events around the country and thousands of young people in Washington, we are building a movement that will change our country.
Take a moment to look through the pictures here on this site from Step It Up actions around the country. Think about all those people in the photos - and all the people who took part in the April 14 day of action - and all the many more who couldn't make either day, but stand in solidarity with us. Reflect on the thousands of students who are here in Washington, D.C. this weekend - each person an agent for positive change, each person a leader in his or her own way. And finally, think about what role you can play in this growing movement.
At the Lincoln Memorial today, we connected with a rich history of social change and took one more step towards a bright, sustainable future. To know that thousands of you were there with us in communities across the country made the moment all the more inspiring.
Coal fired power plants are one of the central causes of global warming pollution in this country and around the world. Coal pollutes our environment, devastates communities in Appalachia and beyond, and threatens all of our collective future.
In Madison, WI today hundreds of people rallied with a "No New Coal!" message front and center at their Step It Up event. Maia Donahue reports:
Last night Bill [McKibben] was in town, and spoke at a film festival and got the troops rallied up.
Over 100 people rallied outside of this ugly little eye sore of a
coal plant, conveniently located in the heart of the University campus.
People wrote a whole lot of postcards to the board of regents, the
Chancellor, and the Governor, urging them to take action (this plant is
currently the subject of a lawsuit by the Sierra Club, so some urging
Keep up the fight Madison! And to the hundreds of people around the country struggling to keep new coal fired power plants out of their communities we send our gratitude and solidarity.
The fight isn't over, but today was another important step forward. Over 80 members of Congress participated in our events today and heard the "No New Coal!" message front and center as one of our three 1 Sky priorities. And Congress will continue to hear that message - on Monday, when thousands of students lobby in D.C., and into the future, as this grassroots movement takes out one coal plant after another. It's time for green jobs, not dirty energy - time to put up wind turbines, not coal plants.
It's time for leadership - and you're showing it in ever corner of our nation.
Revolutionary spirit is alive and well in Concord, Massachusetts! Braving a tropical storm, a good crowd of people from around the area turned out to the Old North Bridge in historical Concord to summon the Revolutionary spirit of ages past. As promised, Sen. John Kerry came out to the event to offer his plans for leadership on global warming. An extra special thanks to the Senator for giving his speech in the rain - now that's commitment!
Kris Erkiletian writes:
This was a fantastic event. I got to meet John Kerry for the first time as well as other local activists in the new environmental movement. VERY INSPIRATIONAL. Lets keep it going.
And Ruby Kalinka reports:
I was very impressed with Jim Marzilli's speech. He was very
inspirational and passionate - all the officials were. It was really
great to see people come, even in the rain, and support an Energy
And we thought a tropical storm would slow you down? No way! Although the wind and rain that slammed into the East Coast this morning got us off to a bit of a bumpy start, the day is shaping up incredibly.
It's a beautiful sight to see: hundreds and hundreds of photos streaming in from around the country. There's one from Sugar Land Texas where Rep. Nick Lampson came out to address the crowd. Lake Placid, NY where a huge crowd gathered. A beautiful photo from Oklahoma City full of local politicians coming together with their constituents. Or this photo on the right from the Groton School in Massachusetts - they did a human version of our logo on the school fields!
We are so proud and honored to be a part of this day. In just two months (for many of you only a few weeks - or days) we have put together an incredibly powerful and inspiring call for leadership.
Stay tuned to the blog and the website as more and more action reports come in. We'll have footage from the Lincoln Memorial soon and hope to have photos from New Orleans coming in before too long.
While hundreds of actions are taking place all across the country, over 5,500+ young people are rocking out at Power Shift 07, the first national youth summit on global warming. Our crew will be there with them tonight to culminate this incredible day of action all across the country with a concert and giant Step It Up rally. Take a look at the video below to get a sense of the momentum, energy, and excitement of this growing movement:
Over the past several weeks, the news headlines have been filled with the drought in the Southeast, the wildfires in Southern California, and today, the news is filled with word of Tropical Storm Noel that is about to bombard the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast Coast. No single weather event can be attributed to global warming, but science does tell us to expect increasingly erratic and dramatic weather events as the world warms. And each one of these recent events have been some of the most extreme in their region's history.
As we speak, many Step It Up organizers in the affected areas are going bravely forward with their actions and figuring out last minute alternate plans, amidst forecasts of several inches of rain and 40mph winds. What do these organizers do when globalwarming prevents them from taking action on global warming? They keep acting! Will our politicians follow their leadership and courage in the face of a changing climate? Today we find out....
Wish your fellow Step It Uppers from the Northeast well as they brave the storm today. Our hearts are with you!
What a day we have ahead. All around the country right now, people are getting up and heading out to hundreds and hundreds of rallies in their communities. Some will be small - just a gathering of friends to reaffirm their commitment to each other and our future. Others will be huge - thousands of people will be flowing into Washington Square Park in NYC this afternoon, thousands more are in Washington, D.C. at Power Shift 07 already, and thousands more will take action in Berkeley, CA later on today.
If you're heading out to an event today, remember, this is a joyous occasion. Enjoy the heck out of your gathering on Saturday. Enjoy the community around you. Enjoy being a player in our political system. Enjoy the sense that you're making a real, palpable difference on the biggest issue our planet faces.
It was only 2 months ago that we rolled out the Step It Up 2 website in phases. We had this thought -- "Wouldn't it be cool if we could flood our politicians with invitations and force them to come face to face with their constituents and address global warming?" And with your help and hard work, the idea worked!
Last April 14th there were 1,400 actions calling on Congress to cut carbon 80% by 2050. And now, we have all collectively issued over 14,000 invitations to our leaders. Talk about participatory democracy. This is a great achievement all on it's own, but not only that, we've also successfully convinced over 80 members of Congress to participate in the day of action. Many thanks, everyone. (Now what should we do that will involve the number 140,000? -- hmmm, this might need to go global for this one).
We can't wait to see the beautiful pictures and videos from the hundreds of actions taking place all across the country tomorrow. Good luck to everyone on the East Coast -- be safe in the nasty weather. And everyone who will have politicians joining your event, be sure to get them on the record addressing the 1Sky solutions.
I've just been to Eugene to speak, and it's hard to tell what the town is more excited about: the upcoming Step It Up rally, or this week's football game, which is the college game of the week and will draw the nation's TV cameras to Autzen Stadium tomorrow afternoon. We're agnostic in the gridiron battle between the Ducks and the Sun Devils of Arizona State, but we know what the greatest halftime show in the country will be. It comes from ace organizer Mary Wood, and is a metaphorical tour de force!:
The Biggest Kickoff in Human History*:
Hi football fans! Here in Oregon we’re known not only for our great football team but also for being the Green State. Let’s show the nation that Duck fans are not ducking the issue of global heating!
Fans, climate crisis is the playoff we just can’t lose. Our home turf is on the line. The points against us will be lost lives and shattered prosperity for generations to come.
The clock is running. We've used up all of our time outs. It's third down and we have a lot of yards to go.
The world's climate scientists have had their huddle and they’ve given us a game plan. We have to tackle carbon emissions. In two years we'll need to cap those emissions and be on our own 10-yard line in 2010. Then we'll keep pushing back those emissions over the decades. The goal is to bring down carbon 80% by 2050.
We will need to break right through that defensive line of deniers and delayers. We will need to run interference on the oil companies, and block new coal plants. We'll have to rely on our receivers for some big plays -- I'm talking about solar receivers!
We want touchdowns, not tipping points! We want stadiums filled with football fans, not hurricane refugees. It’s up to us. We can’t punt this one.
But we need an umpire and referees on this field. We need rules to this game. Where is our government? Where are the officials? We know where they are. They're still back at the tailgate. They're presiding over the biggest barbeque in the history of Humanity. We need to get them out of their fantasy league, onto the real field, now, before the clock runs out on us!
Fans, there's no spectators in climate crisis. We need all of you on this field. We need quarterbacks, line-backers, tackles, and safeties. We need the greatest offense and defense of all time!
We're handing off the ball now to every one of you. Take that ball and run with it. Don't slow down. Make a pitch to others whenever you see an opening. Bring players in off the sidelines. Above all, keep your eyes on the goal.
We are all part of Team Humanity, in it together, and together we're unbeatable, because we're playing to win the biggest trophy of all - climate security for our families, our children, our communities.
So let’s all get behind the biggest kickoff in human history. Go Ducks! Let’s beat those SUN-Devils!
See what we mean about local press? Check out the great coverage of a Step It Up event in Connecticut that'll be taking place tomorrow. It's a perfect example of why you need to call--today--your local newspaper, AP bureau, TV station, and public radio station. It's the megaphone for your efforts! Click here to find some of the media outlets in your town.
A Teen Takes Up the Fight to Help the Environment
by Melissa Pionzio - The Hartford Courant
Emily Rantoul was concerned about the environment. And after the 15-year-old Portland resident and her family attended a lecture featuring primatologist and environmentalist Jane Goodall, Emily became inspired to raise awareness about global warming on a local level.
"She just really showed that she cared. Just by how she spoke, you could tell she just spent all her days [on] this issue," Emily said of Goodall, who discussed Roots & Shoots, an environmental and humanitarian education program.
With her family's help, Emily formed Riverfront Roots & Shoots, which provides information and events that encourage people in Greater Middletown to think about ways to help the environment.
As part of National Climate Action Day, Roots & Shoots will sponsor a walk across the Arrigoni Bridge Saturday to demand green, affordable, rapid transportation. The walkers call themselves GART, she said.
"Middletown and Portland are very close together, but there are very few buses and they don't come frequently enough to be useful," said Emily. "I take a bus from Middlesex Community College, where I am a student, but it only takes me to the transit station, so I have to walk over the bridge to get home to Portland."
Emily said she sees many lone drivers regularly travel over the bridge every day.
"That is a lot of emissions," she said. "We are really trying to get buses to be green, buses that run on vegetable oil or use solar power and more bus rounds and routes."
Participants in the event, which begins at 11 a.m., are encouraged to meet at either the Middletown Transit Depot or the Portland Police Station and walk across the bridge simultaneously. Legislators such as Rep. James O'Rourke have been invited to the march, which is co-sponsored by Stepitup07.org, a national campaign that calls for leadership on global warming. Other community groups such as Transportation Alternatives Middletown (TAM) and ArtFarm will also take part.
"It sounds like a great project that they have taken on and it is certainly something that TAM would be interested in," said TAM representative Beth Emery. "Our mission is to increase awareness and to increase the likelihood of getting more people to consider getting out of their car and getting alternative transportation. It's not just doing that but working toward creating an environment that makes it easier for people to ride a bike to Middletown or take a bus to a job in East Hampton, which right now is very difficult."
Marcella Trowbridge, artistic director for Art Farm, which is dedicated to creating high quality theater with a commitment to simple living, environmental sustainability and social action, said her group will lead the procession from the Middletown side.
"We will meet in the middle and just hopefully generate some more awareness about National Climate Action Day," said Trowbridge. "But also about this focus on affordable, rapid transit. That is something that could really make a difference and could be really, really helpful."
Bernie Sanders is my hero. He was the first politician to come aboard
at the first demonstration that began the Step It Up movement. And he's
been the greatest champion in the Senate of solutions that take the
science seriously. Here's what he said in the Senate yesterday:
Let me congratulate
Step It Up. You are doing exactly what should be done - leading
a strong grassroots movement that will transform our national energy system.
Earlier today, the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Private Sector and Consumer Solutions
to Global Warming and Wildlife Protection approved legislation, often called the Lieberman-Warner bill, crafted to address global warming. I opposed this bill for a variety of reasons. The most fundamental is, that based on the scientific evidence, it would not reduce greenhouse gases emissions enough to stop catastrophic changes in the Earth’s climate. This committee action is the first step of many in a long process in Congress.
Although the legislation is a step in the right direction, it simply does not go far enough to do what scientists tell us must be done to stop global warming. If we are not extremely bold and aggressive, this planet faces dire consequences in the years to come.
During negotiations over the past two weeks, I worked with Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) to strengthen the bill and he should be applauded for his diligent efforts. We did have some success, including the adoption of my amendment that would require automobile manufacturers to improve fuel efficiency. To be eligible for a pool of new funds to produce more fuel efficient cars, auto makers would have to manufacture vehicles that average at least 35 miles per gallon.
Unfortunately, other critical amendments that I authored, and which were supported by all of the major national environmental organizations, were voted down. Incredibly, the bill guarantees whopping sums over a forty year period for coal ($324 billion) and car makers ($232 billion). Yet, an amendment I offered to guarantee substantive resources for solar, wind and other renewable energy sources was turned down. A majority of the members of the committee also blocked an amendment that would
require any new coal-fired power plant to reduce its carbon emissions by 85 percent, an approach which has tremendous support at the state and local levels. The committee also voted down an amendment to make polluters pay for carbon emissions starting in 2026 instead of 2036.
The committee also failed to set a goal of reducing emissions of heat trapping gases by 2050 by 80 percent – the amount scientists say must be achieved if we are to reverse global warming. Sadly, the bill only calls for at most a 63 percent reduction by 2050.
I am proud that we pushed to improve the bill and that it is stronger today than when it was unveiled two weeks ago. Never the less, we have a lot of work to do. I look forward to working with the grassroots to improve the bill so it can meet the global warming challenge.
The American people truly are ahead of Congress in understanding that we need bold action for our planet. The voices of the people need to be heard from one end of the country to the other. I hope that grassroots activists do all that they can to demand that Congress pass a final bill that will really do the job.
Thank you for all that you are doing.
**Opinions expressed in the Step It Up 2007 blog are the opinions of the authors themselves, and do not reflect an official position of Step It Up 2007**
Hey organizers, as you are busily finishing up the final nuts ands bolts for your action tomorrow, check out this SNEAK PREVIEW of what the action report-back tool will look like:
The website is going to transform tomorrow allowing you to view and submit
action reports, and this tool is what you should look for in order to include your
action report, photos, and video on the website. Almost there...
We can just feel the buzz of activity around the country tonight. With only two days left until the big day, we've been fielding calls from coast to coast from organizers, media, and members of Congress. Everyone is looking forward to the big day.
Here in our office, we can hardly tear ourselves away from our computers. From one corner of the room, May yells "We just got another action in New Hampshire!" The phone rings, and Lauren takes a call from California about the actions in San Francisco. We'll be on the phone soon with half our organizing team who are in Washington, D.C. to get the latest update from Power Shift 2007, the first national youth summit on global warming that will be starting tomorrow with over 5,500 youth planning on attending.
And as you can see in the picture, we're also putting the final touches on a banner of our own. It will be hung at our culminating event in Washington, D.C. on Saturday night when Power Shift and Step It Up will come together at a major rally and concert to celebrate our accomplishments and help launch the new 1 Sky campaign (check out their new website to learn more). Pictures of Step It Up rallies around the country will be displayed as students do an action of their own. In our minds, nothing could be more suited to the day’s call for leadership than having thousands of students, our current and future leaders, coming together in the nation’s Capitol.
If you're an organizer or planning on attending an event, now is a great time to make some signs, banners, and materials of your own. It's easy! Just grab some paint or markers, canvas or paper, and get to work. Feel free to express yourself. Which of the three 1 Sky solutions resonates most with you? What's the one thing your voting to protect in next years election? What's the one message you want your leaders to hear?
On November 3rd, we'll have pictures from around the country of rallies big and small, loud and joyous, colorful and extravagant. And with your help, Congress will hear our message: now is not the time for empty rhetoric or back-peddling - it's time for climate leaders!
When Al Gore talks, we listen--and we hope everyone else will too. This
year's Nobel Laureate sent out a special plea earlier today to everyone
on the AlGore.com and Live Earth email lists, which is a lotta lotta
people, reminding them to get to their local rally. And he asked us to
send along a personal thanks to everyone who's participating. Maybe we
should think of it as a giant send-off party for his trip to Oslo!
Let's keep the momentum building - 2 days left until our National Day of Action!
One of the most incredible things to see is the Step It Up events that continue to be registered even in the last days before November 3rd. It goes to show that even great events can be put together in very little time. Just two days ago, we had a new event show up on the site, with quite an incredible back story.
The event is organized by 11 year old Madeleine MacGillivray who is on the path to starting her own non-profit organization SUPERHEROES NEEDED.
Here's a bit of their description of their organizaiton: Superheroes Needed is a new kid founded, kid-powered creative grassroots mission targeting the # 1 environmental challenge – Global Warming. Kids take immediate action to fight global warming, get help where it is most urgently needed, teach big kids about global warming, and activate the next generation of global environmentalists - the green generation – generation g! We take on evil planet destroyers like big oil companies and make changes as kids with the voice we already have, by making smart choices in what we buy, and how we act every day at home, school and in our communities. In 5-10 years, these kids will be voters, and after that, leaders. Superheroes Needed is targeted primarily towards 8-14 year old students who are comfortable with technology—text messaging, podcasting, blogging, surfing the web. Beyond just affecting change on the national scale, these superheroes are taking it international, to help drought-plagued communities in Africa who are already being affected by global warming. To support their cause, visit their website to purchase one of the necklaces they make, the profits of which go to building latrines and water pumps in Africa.
Wow! These kids really get it. This Saturday, Superheroes Needed will be “stepping it up” in the East Village of New York to answer the question “Who’s a Leader” by calling out our leaders exactly one year before the 2008 Presidential election to fight global warming! There will be some celeb guests in attendance to wish the young superheroes well, including Kate Erbe of Law & Order, Ambassador Kick Kennedy, Actress/Environmental Activist Q'orianka Kilcher, and more. Check out their event description to find out more: http://events.stepitup2007.org/november/events/show/2760. Thanks for Stepping it Up, Superheroes!
I know we are beginning to repeat ourselves, but it is hard to put "phones are ringing off the hook" in any other way. There really is no way around it. There is so much excitement here in our office, and it is just a tiny fraction of global warming action going on around the country.
You all are furiously painting banners, calling Senators, and emailing media contacts across the country as you all prepare the awesome events we've been hearing so much about.
Our friends at Powershift 2007, the largest youth conference on global warming ever, are frantically preparing for the arrival of 5,500 youth in College Park, MD.
And the halls of Congress are abuzz with debate about what bold climate policy needs to look like.
As we all prepare for an overwhelmingly exciting weekend, it's always important to remember why we are working so hard to pull all this together. Check out the green finger video again, and think about everything--and everyone-- that we are working so hard to provide a future for.
Wow--the pace sure has picked up! The phone is still ringing off the hook, and we're getting ready to move our headquarters down to Washington, D.C., for a few days to participate in an awesome rally at Powershift. We're hearing from organizers who are getting great local media coverage, and we're even doing some interviews ourselves!
Meanwhile, we're still hearing about great actions. Today we wanted to write about our friend Phil Thornhill over in London. Phil is the National Coordinator of the Campaign against Climate Change, and he is organizing a solidarity event in London. Phil came to visit New England a few months ago, and attended the inaugural party here at our Action Center. So it's an extra special shout-out! Here's his event description:
"A small gathering for a solidarity event around the statue of Franklin
Delano Roosevelt in Grosvenor Square, outside the US embassy, London
UK. With banners for Step it Up and Global Day of Action on the 8th
Just two weeks ago, we still had doubts that our invitation tool was working. Only a handful of members of Congress had agreed to attend events or issue a statement of support. But the invitation counter kept going up thanks to your hard work - 8,000 invites, 9,000 invites, and just a few days ago over 10,000 invitations sent. At the same time, more and more events kept being signed up in communities nationwide. News of local rallies, concerts, marches, and bike-rides kept coming in from around the country.
And guess what? It's worked!
Today, we cruised past over 50 members of Congress participating in Step It Up's national day of climate action this November 3rd. Not all of them will be attending events, which is what we all asked for - but those who aren't are sending statements or representatives. Sometimes we can't blame them: it's probably best that Senator Akaka not emit all the carbon to fly back to Hawaii from D.C. for an event, we'll take a video instead.
Members of Congress will be participating in events all around the country - representatives like Rep. Chris Shays will be attending an event in New Canaan, CT or Rep. Steve Kagan will be at an event in Green Bay, WI. One Congressman is spanning both coasts: Rep. Earl Blumenauer from Oregon will be in Miami at the Rail~Volution Conference that began today.
At each event, members of Congress will be able to meet with citizens in their community who are leading the fight against global warming (that's you!). And in each instance they'll be presented with the 1 Sky priorities that Step It Up is supporting:
Green Jobs Now: 5 Million green jobs conserving 20% of our energy by 2015.
Cut Carbon 80% by 2050: Freeze climate pollution levels now and cut at least 80% by 2050 and 30% by 2020.
No New Coal: A moratorium on new coal-fired power plants.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the campaign thus-far. Keep up the great work - we're almost there!
Our friends over at the Drum Major Institute just announced a brand new website. And you know how much we love websites, but this one is REALLY cool! At TheMiddleClass.org, Drum Major Institute analyzes bills that would have a significant impact (positive or negative) on the squeezed middle class, as well as on the aspirations of low-income Americans who want to work their way into the middle class. One of the issues they track is Energy and Environment. The way they do it is very hip, and worth an introductory visit. But don't take my word for it--click here!
The entire approach resonates with the Step It Up message--
"The Drum Major Institute for Public Policy neither supports nor opposes any candidate for office. Rather, we believe better policy can be created when ordinary citizens – not just political insiders – know how their legislators voted on the issues that matter most to them, and when legislators know their constituents are watching."
On November 3, you get the chance to hear directly from your elected officials on the issues that matter to you! Join an action today!
These past few days, we have all witnessed a pretty incredible display of democracy as thousands of people have been able to interact personally with their politicians through our invitations, building a relationship with our government that will deepen on November 3rd. And, they have heard us, promising to attend events across the country. With Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, a little serendipity and the magic of post-season baseball helped demonstrate that our politicians truly are ready to listen to what we have to say.
I happen to come from a family of devout Red Sox fans, and so couldn't believe it when I found myself with a seat at Game 2 of the World Series in Boston. My sister came all the way from Wyoming (where she is organizing the Jackson Hole Step it Up event!) to join me, and on Thursday night we entered our beloved Fenway Park to begin a night of hot dogs and heckling.
As we reached our seats, I practically bumped into the Senator himself, out to enjoy the phenomenon that is the 2007 Red Sox, taking pictures and chatting with fans. I seized the opportunity (call me opportunistic...) and invited him out to an event as my sister and I snapped a quick photo with him. He was really excited about the whole campaign, and I promised I would follow up with his scheduler.
A few quick emails later, followed by some scheming with Massachusetts organizer Roger Shamel, we finally heard yesterday that the Senator will be attending the Revolutionary Rally at the Old North Bridge in Concord, MA, my hometown! He will join recently elected MA Representative Niki Tsongas, and other great speakers, at what promises to be a great event.
Point being, Step it Up has been filled with funny little moments like these, where we realize that this is what democracy is all about. Our politicians are people, like us, who are ready to listen and ultimately follow our lead. On November 3rd, let's flood these events and demonstrate where we want to go!
Here we go! With just 3 days to the big day, Step It Up is gaining incredible momentum. Have you seen the leader counter up there recently? We are adding members of Congress by the hour. You've helped create an unavoidable call for change - the way things are going right now, Nov. 3 will have more politicians addressing a single topic than in a very long time.
Here's some of the recent highlights:
Video from Florida of Melissa Meehan promoting her event on Fox News (click the player above) - you too can make the news: check out our organizer headquarters for media tips.
Confirmations from politicians around the country, like Congressman Baron Hill in Indiana who will be going to the Bloomington rally that is being put together by all-star organizer Stephanie Kimball.
Word from Power Shift 07 that over 5,000 students are registered for this weekend's conference in Washington D.C.! They'll be doing a major Step It Up action Saturday night and delivering photos of actions from around the country straight to Congress on Monday, Nov. 5
For those of you on the website for the first time - nows a great opportunity to send some final invitations to politicians to get out to Step It Up events. For organizers, keep up the fantastic work - just think, on Sunday you can just sit back and watch the slide-show of events from across the country. And for everyone, help us spread the word - - Nov. 3 is going to be an incredible day and we want to share it with everyone.
Just a few minutes ago, we received a video from Senator Barack Obama's office. Turns out that the more than 500 invitations Step It Up supporters sent to his scheduler did not fall on deaf ears. In addition to the video, he will be sending former Senator Tom Daschle to speak on his behalf at the Step It Up event in Des Moines, IA. Obama heard you loud and clear, and it's up to you to decide whether he's addressed the issues you care about.
He knows that you are the leaders of the grassroots climate movement, so let Barack Obama and the other leaders know what you think (click here to get in touch with him). And keep inviting them to November 3rd events near you so that they know nothing beats an in-person address at a Step It Up event.
We've invited all the candidates to attend rallies or submit videos
to address a broad array of issues affecting climate change, and you
Posted by Beka Economopoulos on October 30th, 2007
Here is a guest post by Beka Economopoulos and our friends over at Project Hot Seat, including new resources for Step It Up organizers:
Step It Up is fast approaching - are you ready for the big day? We can either stand up for what is right - our health, humanity, our planet, or we can sit by and watch while decisions are made that threaten our world and our lives. On November 3rd, the movement to stop global warming will step it up a notch, to hold our leaders accountable.
Whether there's a politician attending your Step It Up event or not, you can still take advantage of this day of action to light a fire under Congress. From collecting signatures for postcards to Congress, to distributing fact sheets, to encouraging people to leave voice mails for elected officials, there's a lot that you can do at your event on Saturday.
Here are some downloadable materials from Greenpeace, True Majority, Step It Up and 1Sky that you can use at your event to educate the public and pressure your Representative to champion strong global warming solutions.
1) Help us send thousands of postcards to Congress. Download postcards here, print and copy them, and then collect signatures at your local Step It Up event. Need tips on collecting signatures? Watch this video, it just takes a minute. Be sure to keep the signed postcards and send them to 702 H Street, NW, Suite 300, Washington, D.C. 20001, or fax them to (415) 255-9201. We'll include them in a bulk delivery event to Congress.
2) Educate the public. Download a Project Hot Seat fact sheet to distribute at your event. With facts about global warming and suggestions for how to shift the climate in Congress, this flyer is a good way to educate and engage the public.
3) Reach out and call Congress. Recruit people to call too! Download a phone call flyer, copy, and distribute it in any public space, put it on car windshields, get creative! Recruit Step It Up participants to use their cell phones on Saturday to call Congress and leave a voice mail urging them to pass strong global warming solutions. We need steep reductions in global warming pollution, and it's going to take every one of us to put Congress in the Hot Seat!
When she RSVPed a few weeks ago, Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand had 6 actions in her upstate NY district, and many committed organizers willing to pick up a phone a give her a call - like Judy Villa-White in Glens Falls. The district offices were so impressed that they took the time to make a YouTube video addressing the entire district! Check it out:
YouToo can become an online video star. Mayors, Governors, Congressmen, Presidential Candidates, Raffi and other noteworthy leaders will be at these events. Be sure to have a camera on hand to document them addressing the three 1Sky Priorities. Ask them to put a little green ink on their finger. But better yet, share it with the world when you're done. With your help, we can make this national day of action as big, fun, meaningful, and moving as it needs to be - a solution on the scale of the problem. Great work everyone!
In Santa Cruz, California, a broad coalition of students, local organizations, business leaders and citizens is planning a great day of action. Event organizers Ellen Farmer and Jeannie Collins had this to say about their event:
"We were inspired to produce our Step It Up! Santa Cruz event after seeing Bill McKibben speak in person at a mid-September conference in Washington DC--Confronting the Triple Threat: Climate Change, Peak Oil, and Resource Depletion, sponsored by the International Forum on Globalization.
We bought the DVD from the conference, got permission to produce a 20-minute piece for local community TV, featuring Bill's speech, then started networking to create our own local event."
People Power, one of the main sponsors, is a community organization promoting bike lanes, bike-to-work days, walking, and accessible public transportation, is working with Local Solutions to Global Problems--a new group working with progressive communities of faith to create climate change support networks--to host the event.
A speaker will talk about mountaintop removal coal mining, addressing the 1Sky No New Coal priority, and they are involving people of all ages, from young skateboarders (check out the cool poster they've deigned!) to families on bikes. Anything that's people-powered!
Neuroscientists estimate that each neuron in the human brain is connected to 10,000 others. That kind of intensely bound network exists in so many places in the physical world—from the balanced ecosystems that make the whole planet function to the intricate cellular structures of plants and animals. Our everyday structures, too, resemble the network of neurons in our brains. Take the internet, for example—just think of a popular website and count how many links there are on one page, and how many links to others there are on each of those pages.
Perhaps the most important kinds of networks are the human ones: friends, families, coworkers, neighbors and everybody else we know. Like neurons in the brain, each of us connects with people each day, becoming something larger and louder than ourselves. The 10,000 people that have used our invite tool over the last few weeks have proven that sharing singular actions with others—part of the intricate web of human relationships—multiplies their power. In a certain way, we’re becoming a web of neurons, interconnected; a brain powerful enough to think a social movement into existence, and make climate change history.
With one week to go before November 3, we expected Monday to be busy. We didn't guess how exciting it would be! Today we learned that Senator Chris Dodd will attend the Step It Up event in Concord, New Hampshire, and Senator Hillary Clinton will send a representative to the event in Des Moines, Iowa. For more information on David Slutzky, her surrogate, keep reading! Congratulations to the event organizers, as well as those of you who sent hundreds of invitations to both senators. Stay tuned to the blog for more updates throughout the day.
David Slutzky is President of E² Inc., an ecology and economics policy think-tank based in Charlottesville, Virginia. Mr. Slutzky is also on the faculty of the Department of Urban and Environmental Planning at the University of Virginia. Mr. Slutzky was elected to the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors in 2005, and serves as the Chairman of the Charlottesville-Albemarle MPO. He has more than 20 years' experience with environmental policy issues in diverse public and private sector contexts.
After working in the commercial real estate and finance industries, Mr. Slutzky began to focus on environmental issues, co-founding a major international environmental consulting firm, Environmental Risk Consultants, Inc. (ERC) and ERRIS, at one time the largest environmental data company in the country. Mr. Slutzky later served as a Senior Policy Adviser on environmental issues in the Clinton White House. He served as Coordinator of the International Task Force of the President's Council on Sustainable Development where he focused his efforts on the environmental implications of international capital flows, sustainable development, urban environmental issues and NEPA issues. Previously, Mr. Slutzky was a Senior Policy Advisor at the EPA, where he served as founding Director of the Urban Initiative, an effort to redefine the relationship of the Agency's programs to the urban landform. This Initiative examined the impact of EPA's program implementation strategies on urban revitalization efforts with the objective of supporting rather than undermining such efforts. Mr. Slutzky later became the Managing Director for McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry where he worked with major corporations to redesign industrial processes to reflect ecological and social equity, as well as economic concerns. He received his Bachelors degree in Political Science in 1977 from the University of Chicago where he also completed coursework toward a PhD in Political Science. He received his J.D. from the Program in Environmental and Energy Law of the Chicago-Kent College of Law at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
**The listing of a public appearance by an elected official or candidate is solely for information purposes. The information is not intended to suggest that such public official or candidate holds viewpoints consistent with or inconsistent with those held by Step It Up 2007 or affiliated organizations. Step It Up 2007 does not rate or track the positions of elected officials or candidates for office.**
...or really, Step It Up crew member Jon Warnow did. Though modest as he is, Jon won the award in the name of the movement, crediting all the Step It Up organizers and friends across the country for the award.
What award? Jon went out to California last week to receive the Brower Youth Award. Check out this great little film that documents some of Jon's role behind the scenes at Step It Up headquarters:
And we're off! With just under a week until the big day, Step It Up actions are already beginning. The feeling of momentum is incredible right now (or is it just the warm glow of a Red Sox World Series win . . . we've got some Boston fans in the office - condolences to our Colorado organizers).
On Saturday, actions kept streaming in as people around the country keep signing up events. And on Sunday, we got some more confirmations from politicians that they'll be attending events, including Rep. Timothy Bishop from New York and Rep. Harry Mitchell from Arizona. It's not too late to rope in your political representatives - today's a great day to give their district offices another call to make sure they've received your invitations.
Then, this morning, we're greeted at the office by a picture from UVA of a Step It Up event they did on October 27! "We called ourselves the 'cutting edge' of Step It Up and we succeeded," writes Cal Trepagnier. The event was part of a statewide conference on climate change and was a major success. Cal reports
Rest assured this year will be very successful if our event is any indicator. We drew 150+ people in U.Va.'s stone amphitheater where we remembered the founder of our university and Founding Father, Thomas Jefferson.
Great work UVA! We're looking forward to receiving hundreds of photos from around the country on Nov. 3rd. Make sure to upload photos from your actions as soon as possible on Saturday - we'll put them up on the website and get them into the hands of thousands of students at Power Shift 07, the first national youth climate summit in Washington, D.C. On Monday, Nov. 5 they'll flood congress with photos from all across the country demanding for climate leadership and 1 Sky! Now that's what we call a movement . . .
Since entering the race for President, and entering our illustrious Leader Counter, Stephen Colbert, has had probably the fastest invitation rate of any leader, surpassing Ron Paul in just 24 hours. Ron Paul fans, where are you? But Colbert hasn't committed to step it up quite yet, so check out this video from a Step It Up organizer, and then send an email to the candidate! Yes, you are America, but are you a Climate Leader? The jury is out, Colbert...
This morning an exciting new action popped up on our website from Waukesha, WI. After a quick celebratory dance, I called up the organizer to hear his plans, which include a human-powered concert that won't only be carbon neutral, but carbon negative. Turns out he had found out about Step It Up months ago, only to forget the name, but he's kept on planning the event regardless. Just this morning, while reading an article on Alternet, he came across the name of Step It Up, and signed it right up! Better late than never, right? Especially in the case of this awesome event! Check out the press their event got in their local paper this weekend to hear how they're really getting his attendees to step it up, get fit, and take action on climate AT THE SAME TIME!
CITY OF PEWAUKEE - City of Pewaukee resident Dan Aukofer jumped on top
of an exercise bike in the middle of his barn on a dreary Friday afternoon
and began pedaling, slowly increasing speed.
Behind him, his friend Dan O’Brien fiddled with knobs on a control
panel, which turned a small light on.
Moments later, Caribbean music began playing and a stage light cast
Aukofer in different colors on his bike. He told O’Brien to turn up the
volume of the rhythmic music and began to pedal faster.
Both the music and lights were being powered by Aukofer’s bike.
"This is something that I have been planning for years," he
said. "Instead of taking from the (power) grid, I’m actually
feeding to the grid."
Aukofer is an environmentalist, fitness fanatic and music lover who
said he tries to live as environmentally friendly as possible. His love
for the environment and preserving precious resources pushed him to
combine his three passions.
The result will be a concert on his farm next Saturday that will have
all electrical aspects of the show powered completely by people riding
bikes in front of the stage.
To pull off the show, Aukofer enlisted the help of Chuck Smith,
president of Current Electric, a leader in the "green"
electricity industry in the state. In order to generate the necessary
power, they built the bikes into what they describe as
We're pleased to be joined by Will Steger for a guest blog - here's a guy who really knows how to Step It Up. Steger has been an eyewitness to the on-going catastrophic consequences
of global warming. A formidable voice calling for understanding and the
preservation of the Arctic, and the Earth, Will Steger is best known
for his legendary polar explorations. He has traveled tens of thousands
of miles by kayak and dog- sled over 40 years, leading teams on some of
the most significant polar expeditions in history.
Global warming is a reality. It threatens both our society and life, as we know it on earth. I have been to both poles; and I’ve seen catastrophic consequences of the climate change. I crossed both the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf in the Arctic and Larson A and B Ice Shelves on Antarctica. All of which, to the astonishment of scientists, abruptly collapsed into the sea in the last decade as a result of climate changes. I experienced firsthand the melting of the sea ice on the Arctic Ocean. The polar sea has lost one fourth of both its thickness and area in the last two decades. Its once reflective surface is now exposing the darker ocean surfaces; because darker surfaces absorb more energy than lighter ones, warmth is accelerated. The summer sea ice is predicted to virtually disappear during the second half of this century, dooming animals like the polar bear and walrus to probable extinction. In 1990, I testified before Congress about the danger of global warming thawing the northern permafrost releasing methane gas, a dangerous greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. This process is now in motion. The record warm summers in the Arctic are advancing the thawing of the high elevations of the Greenland icecap. The loss of ice that we are now experiencing worldwide is the fingerprint of global warming.
The Arctic and the Antarctic regions have been my home for over 40 years. To survive in these lands, I have become intimately familiar with their vast lands, wildlife, and climates. The changes I see deeply affect me in a way neither a scientific study nor a satellite image could. Without action, life in the Arctic faces extinction. With action, we can address the root causes and limit the impact.
How can we act to avert the worst consequences? We must take action.
Action begins with education. Global warming must be an essential topic in the K-12 educational agenda. Because we are dealing with an immediate threat, we must also launch a public education campaign to engage everyone. Congregations, environmental groups, youth organizations, campuses, clubs of all kinds will play a pivotal role informing and engaging their members and moving them towards action. We must expect that our leaders in government, industry, congregations, and schools, are well informed about global warming and its consequences.
The effects of global warming are pervasive. We cannot delay in slowing and reversing this trend. Our economy, security, health, and the environment demand it. Step it up!
To learn more about Polar Explorer Will Steger, the Will Steger Foundation, and Will's next expedition to the Canadian Island visit www.globalwarming101.com
Here is a guest post by Adam Siegel, originally printed in a DailyKos diary:
C02 emissions are growing at ever faster rates, in part, because the oceans are absorbing less CO2 and tropical forests are being devastated. Ecosystems are shifting. Fires are spreading. Droughts continue. And, it is nearly November, the heat has yet to go on. Have we already pulled the trigger?
The latest from a series of updates from Bill McKibben on the Step It Up campaign published on Grist:
This has been the grimmest week in a long time for those of us following the global-warming crisis -- and the best week, too, for those of us at Step It Up who are organizing to do something about it.
Bad news first: It's not just the wildfires in Southern California. It's not just the epic drought in the Southeast. It's not just the bathtub ring in Lake Mead. It's not just the eight inches of rain deluging poor old New Orleans. Those help to tell us how far global warming has proceeded to date, but they don't tell us what more is to come.
That's the job of science, and here's what science told us this week: things are unraveling. Check out the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences to see what I mean. Natural carbon sinks -- the top few meters of the ocean, for instance -- are turning steadily less efficient as the planet warms. They're not performing as well as they have in the past, and so more carbon is accumulating in the atmosphere instead. The natural system is starting to break down.
Not only that, but human systems are breaking down too. Instead of growing more efficient in our use of fossil fuel, the data indicates those improvements have stopped. Economies are growing fast -- China said this week that its economy would soar 11.5 percent this year -- but only by burning cheap coal in ever-larger amounts.
Taken together, the two trends mean we're moving ever farther away from getting carbon emissions under control. As Dr. Corinne Le Quere of the British Antarctic Survey put it, "Only the most extreme climate models predicted this. We didn't think it would happen until the second half of the century."
Momentum works both ways, though, and some of the news is good. As we move into the home stretch for the big Step It Up rallies on Nov. 3, everything is beginning to click. People are issuing a thousand invitations a day through our invite tool to their senators, congresspeople, and presidential candidates. And the politicians are responding -- the number of confirmed speakers for Nov. 3 has doubled in the last 24 hours. We're on our way to having more national politicians addressing a single issue on a single day than at any time since the great national teach-ins of the Vietnam era.
We don't know, in any given hour, whether to hope or despair. The computer screen shows homes going up in flames -- but it also shows hundreds of emails from organizers who are steadily going about the last-minute tasks of inviting reporters, sending out final email invitations, and calling congressional district offices. The TV blares disaster -- but the phones keep ringing with new allies in new parts of the country seeking new ways to help out.
Our endlessly energetic and creative organizing friends down in New York City are up to some excellent work yet again. Here's the latest:
First of all, click here to see their actions elegant new website.
Also, check out organizer John Hunka's latest plan for getting members of Congress to show up to their event:
"On Friday and Saturday, I'm going to jot down short notes to all of our Congressmen and Congresswomen from New York City, and I'm going to put the notes in envelopes with some info about the 1 Sky priorities. Then, on Sunday, I'm going on a bike ride around the city to hand-deliver the envelopes to district offices. We've tried emails, phone calls, and letters, yet we have only one Congressman who has agreed to come. I think it's time to pull out all the stops. As they say, if Moses won't come to the mountain, I'll bring the mountain to Moses."
Not a bad idea, eh? Following-up by phone with congressional schedulers is important, but it doesn't hurt get creative as well.
And speaking of creativity. Check out text message action plan the NYC organizers are implementing. Organizer Stephanie Corrado explains:
"New York City is buzzing with talk of the Step It Up rally that will be held in Washington Square Park. In addition to attending the event on November 3rd and listening to great speakers, bands and participating in eco-projects, Step It Up NYC is giving you the opportunity to take the campaign a step further and become a member of its mobile community. For all those New Yorkers out there, text STEP to 30644 and receive information on how you can STEP IT UP beyond the rally."
Keep up the great work, friends. And everyone in NYC, join the NYC mobile community today.
Those of you who follow Step It Up know how much we believe in the power of distributed action for national change. We're always glad to see when other social change agents rely on it as well. For example, this Saturday is a distributed demonstration about the War in Iraq, coordinated by many organizations and including some our friends and allies, United for Peace and Justice and Code Pink. They've also made a cool video to promote the event.
United for Peace and Justice is helping elevate the issue of climate change by working to promote peace, and director Leslie Kagan told me yesterday that in the pamphlets they've created for tomorrow, they're including educational information about climate change. With the No War No Warming protest on Monday and this on Saturday, we see how more and more groups are working to support each other!
We believe it is going to take a green Marshall plan to rewire our economy for sustainable, clean energy. And as our friend Van Jones says, that means jobs: and lot's of them. Global warming is a crisis, no doubt about it, but it also presents an incredible opportunity to revitalize our economy and create green pathways out of poverty. Step It Up is only one part of a growing effort to create a diverse and powerful movement to fight poverty and pollution at the same time.
Our latest action pushing the Green Jobs for All message is out of Michigan. Co-organized by the Blue Green Alliance and Greenpeace, a rally is planned in Kalamazoo with a simple message: "Real Climate Solutions = Green Jobs for Michigan." The Blue Green Alliance has long pioneered the way in creating a movement that unites labor and the environment and we are honored to have their support this November 3rd.
If you're organizing a rally this November 3rd or are joining an action, think about how you can integrate the message of Green Jobs. Where are the places in your community where work needs to be done? How you help guarantee new, clean energy jobs go to the people who need them most? How can the clean energy economy in your town lift up the people most impacted by our current economic system?
In 8 days, we'll send a strong message to all of our politicians: climate leaders are also social justice leaders.
Here's a guest post by the stellar Step It Up organizer gearing up for action in Seattle and Bellevue, WA.
The impacts of global warming are already being seen here in Washington. Warmer temperatures caused by global warming are leading to reduced snow pack, worsening water shortages that fuel drought and wild fires. The political climate is also heating up. Rep. Dave Reichert from Seattle’s Eastside has been put in the Hot Seat. In the last few months alone over 2,000 constituents of Washington’s 8th District have taken action urging Congressman Reichert to become a champion on global warming.
Since being in the Hot Seat, Congressman Reichert has taken significant steps in the right direction by supporting increased fuel efficiency for vehicles and by opposing liquid coal incentives. However, it’s time Rep. Reichert and the rest of Congress become real leaders on climate change by stepping it up and addressing the 1Sky priorities.
We thought we’d really heat things up in Washington, so we’ve invited Democratic candidate for Congress Darcy Burner to join the conversation on November 3. One year before the election, we are giving Congressman Reichert and Ms. Burner the chance to publicly announce their plan to stop global warming. We want to know who is really going to Step It Up in Washington. We’re hosting a good old-fashioned town hall to hear from both sides of the aisle and to find out who our climate leader is.
Our very way of life is being threatened in Washington and across the globe and we need action now to reduce global warming pollution to ensure a healthy future for the planet. Congress has a choice: It can get to work on real solutions to global warming or be the Congress that did nothing while the Earth grows hotter, more dangerous, and more unpredictable. It’s time we turn the public’s frustration over government inaction into congressional action on global warming. It’s time we tell Congress to Step It Up!
Global Warming Organizer
There are three 1 Sky principles that we are asking each politician to address this November 3rd. But global warming involves many different issues, from agriculture to trade. And we're going to need to address each of them in the coming years. One of those issues is nuclear power. Here's one viewpoint from David Jay who works with Green Guerillas Against Greenwash:
Here's the good news: the harvest is beginning to come in. After years of hard work, this movement is beginning to get the political attention, investment dollars and grassroots support, necessary to address climate change head-on. Events like Step It Up are gathering together the energy that our society will need to make a truly monumental transformation: to transit-based cities, a renewable energy grid and a carbon-free economy.
This presents our movement with a new and interesting dilemma. Now that we're gathering up enough resources to completely transform a society, those resources are bound to attract people who aren't necessarily a part of the solution. I'm talking about greenwashers, about politicians egging for the spotlight, the occasional con artist and some folks whose hearts are in the right place but whose ideas just don't work. To be clear, I am NOT telling you to be afraid. I'm not saying that we need to implement some greenwashing terror alert level. We just need to be smart.
Take nuclear power. Nuclear lobbyists have been working overtime to make sure that they can get a nice big piece of the climate change action. Anytime you hear someone in front of a microphone or TV camera talk about "keeping nuclear on the table," you'll know that those lobbyists have been doing their job. And they are working hard. That's because the green movement that we're leading is their last, best hope for nuclear power in this country.
Let's go back to the birth of nuclear power in this country, a spark made possible by a massive splurge of wartime spending. By 1954 it looked like we were in for a brave, new atomic future, and the american people were promised that, thanks to nuclear power "our children will enjoy electrical energy in their homes too cheap to meter." Eager to jumpstart the brave new atomic age, our government poured hundreds of millions into the nuclear industry and eagerly waited for nuclear energy to make coal-fire power plants a thing of the past.
Decades passed, but nuclear lobbyists kept coming back and asking for more money to prop up an industry rife with huge cost overruns and technical difficulties. By the 1970s, 10 short years after the first commercial nukes came online, the lack of a solution to radioactive waste disposal, as well as coordinated protests across the globe, slowed and then stopped the industry from expanding. Even government (read: taxpayer) funded disaster insurance wasn’t enough incentive to build more power plants.
Washington and Wall Street began to realize that the cry for subsidies would never stop. Nuclear power could not compete in the free market, and by the end of the 1970s, orders for new nuclear power plants stopped coming in. These days, the plants that were started back in the 60s and 70s are getting too old to operate, and for the nuclear industry to build new ones they'll need another massive infusion of cash.
Let's forget for the moment about the generalnastiness of uranium mining, the recentaccidents and near disasters, the fact that nuclear waste is deadly for hundreds of thousands of years and is sitting around in containers that last 20, and the fact that no one has the faintest idea what to do with it. Economically, nukes don't work. While wind, solar, and other renewables are fighting to out-compete fossil fuels, nuclear energy is still mired with resource-intensive mining, bulky facilities and high risks, sucking support that should be going to clean technology and innovation.
Even if it were economically viable, nuclear plants take from 10-15 years to get from licensing to the grid. With climate change, we don't have that kind of time.
On November 3rd, we need to ask ourselves and our leaders to have the vision to create real change. That means having the wisdom to recognize that there are distractions, like nuclear, that we can't afford.
If Hurricane Katrina was a shot across the bow, it seems as if the war has now begun in earnest. A war between people and a planet that no longer behaves in any of the ways we expect. This, it turns out, is what global warming feels like. The great fraying is underway.
You can see it in the fire-ridden canyons of southern California, where the land was drier than it had been in 90 years. You can see it in the cracking earth of the southeast, where Atlanta stands a few weeks away from running out of water. You can see it in the southwest, where bathtub rings line the great reservoirs, and in the Sierras where the snowpack shrivels. You can see it in the streets of New Orleans, where eight inches of rain fell in a few hours the other day.
None of these events can be linked directly to climate change. This isn't CSI; there's no DNA test to prove paternity. But these are precisely the things we expect would happen as the climate changes. Warm air holds more water vapor than cold air, so evaporation increases and we get drought. Once that water's up there, it's got to come down someplace, and we get floods.
Systems on earth have begun to show this same kind of unsettling change. In late August and September Arctic ice melt was setting records. For the first time ever recorded, the Northwest Passage opened. Meanwhile, observers on flights above Greenland reported that meltwater "cascades" the size of Niagara Falls, were pouring water into the bottom of its great ice sheet. A deep lake may now be forming at the base of the glaciers, speeding their slide into the sea.
And according to a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published earlier this week, something even scarier has started to happen: the earth's natural "sinks" for storing excess carbon dioxide have begun to lose their effectiveness. Sea water, for instance, is suddenly absorbing less CO2, because stronger winds are mixing carbon-rich deep water into the surface layer. As Dr. Corinne Le Quere of the British Antarctic Survey put it: "Only the most extreme climate models predicted this. We didn't think it would happen until the second half of the century."
All this, by the way, has happened with just a single degree of global warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which won the Nobel Prize for its work, has predicted that the planet will add another five degrees or so in the course of the century. The great fraying has begun, but it's nowhere near finished.
The only remaining variable is how fast and how well humans will respond. Americans, by far the biggest source of the problem, need to lead the way. So far, Congress has done nothing. At all. Having waited this long, half-measures simply won't do the trick.
A popular movement is finally arising to force that change -- a movement that grows stronger with each passing tragedy. Last spring we at Stepitup07.org organized an historic 1,400 demonstrations in all 50 states; a week from Saturday we'll host another round of big national demonstrations, which will coincide with the largest gathering of college students yet who want to fight global warming.
We know we're not going to prevent all climate change -- it's too late for that. But we cling firmly to the hope that, working together to win rapid federal action, we can slow it down, and keep it from getting completely out of control. We're calling for serious reductions in American carbon emissions -- 80 percent by mid-century -- and for an end to new coal-fired power plants. It's the minimum that scientists tell us makes sense.
Most of us can't go fight the blazes in the hills above Los Angeles. But we can damp down the great central fire of global warming that keeps sparking all these other disasters. It's a fight that seems more necessary with each passing hour.
A few weeks ago we featured a blog by noted thinker on climate solutions Peter Barnes. Peter just released a new "Citizens' Guide to Carbon Capping"which we heartily recommend. It's a very helpful resource and we hope
you get a chance to check it out. Heck, you could even print it out so
people at your action could read it.
The foreword is written by none other than...Bill
McKibben! Also, it is published using a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike license and may be freely
reproduced as long as it is attributed to the Tomales Bay Institute
and distributed free of charge. So share away! While you're at it, you
can learn more about the growing movement to protect our common assets
at Onthecommons.org. Thanks, Peter!
Just a few minutes ago, Step It Up Kennebunkport organizer Jennifer Niese called to let us know that Representative Tom Allen, also a candidate for US Senate from Maine's 1st district, will attend her event. Welcome aboard, Representative Allen!
Kennebunkport is the summer home to two U.S. presidents & also a
low-lying coastal area. Mapping studies of climate change show parts of
the town could be under water as a result of sea level rise.The dramatic rally will be on the town green, and area that could be underwater in the business as usual scenario. RSVP for her event by clicking here.
When we talk about great American leaders, Ella Baker is near the top the list. The highest ranking woman in the NAACP, she went south in 1957 to help found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and then became one of the key adult advisors to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. (Check out Bernice Reagon Johnson's Ella's Song lyrics here). So it's no surprise that one of the finest social justice organizations in America bears her name, nor that its president, Van Jones, is carrying on in her tradition.
The Ella Baker Center will hold a Step It Up rally in conjunction with organizers in Berkeley, CA on November 3, urging Bay Area Senators and Representatives to get behind the three 1Sky priorities. And one of those priorities-a massive Green Jobs campaign-is largely the brainchild of Van and his colleagues, as he explains here:
When we talk about global warming, we often focus on the danger-it's hard not to, when the Arctic is melting like an ice cream on an Oakland summer afternoon. But responding to climate change offers opportunity too-the opportunity, above all, to undo some of the injustice that plagues our economy.
We've done a careful analysis of the Green Jobs that would be created if we moved aggressively to retrofit homes and businesses with insulation and tight windows, if we installed solar panels and windmills, if we took seriously the energy challenge. We're not talking thousands of jobs-we're talking millions of jobs.
But we need to make sure that those jobs go where they're needed the most-to the Americans who have never really had a chance to participate in the American economic dream. We need the kind of job training that will take people from the inner cities and make them pioneers on the frontiers of energy conservation and renewable power. That will take money.
It's money we need to spend, though. Environmental economists have begun to teach us the folly of not counting ecological costs-of pretending that it costs nothing to simply pour carbon into the atmosphere. In just the same way we need to start counting social costs. Sending people to prison because they don't have a job costs big bucks-and it costs us our communities too.
Over the next two years we need to work with allies across the environmental movement to see our small beginnings swell into a green wave, one whose effects can be measured in the atmosphere and also in the streets. Let's Step It Up-together. Ella Baker once said, "give light and people will find the way." We like the metaphor--and in our fight for new energy we take her literally too.
Today's Action Spotlight comes from West Brookfield, MA where on Nov. 3rd the environmental heroes of tomorrow (and today!) will gather at the birthplace of early women's rights activist Lucy Stone. Read on to learn about Lucy's life story, and how Step It Up 2 is proudly following in her tactical footsteps:
Lucy Stone was born in 1818 on a farm in West Brookfield, Massachusetts. In 1847, she was one of the first women to graduate from college (Oberlin). She paid her entire tuition after her father refused because she was a girl. One of the first to do so, she devoted herself to women's rights and made a career as an orator. Lucy Stone was the organizer and leader of the First National Women's Rights Convention, held in Worcester, Massachusetts where Lucretia Mott, Frederick Douglass, and Sojourner Truth were a few of the speakers. Shortly thereafter, Susan B. Anthony joined the cause for women's suffrage from the writings of Lucy Stone. When Henry Blackwell finally convinced Lucy to marry him, it was contingent upon her keeping her own name. She was instrumental in the fight for women's rights and it is interesting to note and of direct consequence on the Step It Up campaign that Lucy Stone "developed a systematic process of petitioning legislators that thereafter became the AWSA's (American Women Suffrage Association) trademark: she polled all the candidates about their attitudes on women's rights and published the names of those who supported expansion of the franchise, encouraging others to focus in on targeted politicians for future petition drives." (xvii,Lucy Stone: Pioneer of Women's Rights by Alice Stone Blackwell)
Lucy Stone is an excellent example of a leader for the Step It Up campaign. She led a grassroots that became a national campaign to make changes in the legislature and in popular opinion. It is with much honor that we tread on the same ground as Lucy Stone did. We are planning a fun afternoon of games, crafts and ideas to spread the green news. If you're in the area, come join us at the Lucy Stone Homesite to learn about ways to be a climate leader and to celebrate the National Day of Climate Action! Come and stand where Lucy Stone was inspired to devote her life to women's rights. We, too, can be inspired to make changes, one step at time, to save and protect our beautiful earth.
Thanks West Brookfield for Stepping it Up, and to organizer Laura MacLachlan for this blog post!
A few days ago we heard the unfortunate news that Kansas Senator Sam Brownback has dropped out of the Republican presidential race. Despite receiving over 40 invitations to attend Step It Up events, Sen. Brownback decided to step away from the limelight, and spend more time in his home state.
Luckily for us, author, journalist, and satirical pundit Stephen Colbert has decided to fill the Brownback void by announcing that he too will be running for president! (in South Carolina). Regardless of his single state candidacy, we think that a leader like Colbert should be welcomed in all 50 states. As with all our leaders, political or otherwise, we encourage everyone to invite respectable public figures of all kinds to your events. Feel free to call, e-mail and write letters to Mr. Colbert, not in place of, but in addition to your local and state representatives. Welcome to the Big List Stephen!
PS- Stephen got about 30 invitations in the first 8 hours he was on our site. If he continues at that rate he will receive over 900 invitations by November 3rd.
As the pace picks up with 10 days left before November 3rd, we're starting to get more confirmations from politicians...
Today Rep. Michael Michaud of Maine (left) and Rep. Joe Donnelly of Indiana (right) both confirmed that they will be attending Step It Up events and coming to address the 1Sky priorities on November 3rd. You might think that 10 days left isn't enough time to keep getting confirmations from politicians. But from all the accounts we're getting, now is the best time to follow-up by phone and ask to speak with schedulers again about November 3rd events near you.
We're approaching the 8,000 invitation mark, and all those invitations are paying off. Now let's make sure our politicians follow through and take the time to meet with their constituents about this most important issue. Onwards...
By now, you probably know that we here at Step It Up HQ are technology geeks. When we see a new and exciting gadget that will help us get the word out, we like to try it out. Well, the newest one we've come across is text messaging on cellphones. So far, people in cities have used text messages to gather large groups of people at specific places and times in what are called flash mobs. We can harness the popularity of text messaging to increase the speed and efficiency of our community organizations and gather people together at a split-second notice.
One group, a friend and ally of ours, has also begun to use text messaging to spread important information to consumers concerned about climate change.
Climate Counts is a non-profit campaign that scores companies annually on the strength of their voluntary actions to reverse climate change. To help consumers get access to scores when they're actually shopping, Climate Counts has partnered with Working Assets Wireless on a mobile phone activism program called Climate Counts On-The-Go.
With Climate Counts On-The-Go, just text "cc" and then the name of the company you're curious about to 30644, and get the Climate Counts ranking of a company delivered right to your phone. Climate Counts is already planning the next phase of the campaign, where people who use it will not just be able to receive climate information but will be able to use their phones to interact with scored companies as well.
Climate Counts is using the new technology of text messages to help people make informed decisions, and in that way, they're broadening the way people relate to the climate movement. If you're in the middle of organizing your own Step It Up event for November 3 and you plan to buy, say, some paper to make posters, or if you're attending an event and plan to buy a snack on the way, use your thumbs to see how the companies you know line up.
Posted by The Step It Up Organizing Team on October 24th, 2007
Though Step It Up headquarters is now in New Hampshire, as Vermont organizer, Johanna Miller, writes in this piece, Vermont was the real place of origin of the Step It Up effort. So it's with great pleasure that we're sharing Johanna's guest post about their plans in Montpelier. This event is a great example of how to combine our focus on national action with more local, state change. Keep it up, VT!
Vermont is blessed with a long, rich history linked to many things threatened by global warming — maple sugaring, magnificent fall foliage, skiing. The Green Mountain State is also blessed with Congressional leaders standing at the forefront of the national discussion and calling for aggressive action now. Vermont’s esteemed Senator Bernie Sanders, in fact, is the lead sponsor of the most aggressive climate change bill currently under consideration in Congress. Senator Patrick Leahy and Congressman Peter Welch are also strong supporters of substantive action on climate change.
Ironically, however, our ‘green’ state is led by a Governor who, in theory, supports action on climate change. In reality, however, Governor Jim Douglas vetoed a promising climate change and energy bill passed handily by the Legislature. Clearly, the Governor needs to STEP IT UP.
That’s why, on November 3 on the steps of the capitol in Montpelier, our Step It Up rally will focus primarily on the governor. We’re employing several fun elements to highlight this glaring absence of leadership. First, we are serving homemade Vermont apple pie and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Why? Because leadership on the most pressing environmental challenge of our time is as American as apple pie and ice cream.
Attendees will also hear from Vermont’s former Governor Phil Hoff, a leader who mustered the courage necessary to tackle the most important issue of his generation — civil rights. Many people attribute Governor Hoff’s leadership, which included starting a Civil Rights Commission in Vermont, with helping to catalyze the success of the civil rights movement nationwide.
Governor Douglas is invited, once again, to attend our Step It Up event and sign a pledge to reduce Vermont’s GHG emissions 80 percent by 2050. We will have a chair onstage for the Governor, which we hope will not remain empty. If it does, we have asked regular Vermonters to help ensure Vermont leads by expressing what they would do if they were Governor. In 250 words or less, we are asking people to put forward their ideas for tackling climate change. Organizers will deliver these testimonials to the Governor (and to area newspapers, as writers allow). Groovy music from the Great Brook Blues Band, including their own call to the Governor, titled ‘Big Boss Guv,’ will be part of the festivities.
As the origin of the Step It Up movement – starting first with a five-day walk across Vermont and, then, seeding the amazing partnership among the Step It Up team – Vermont has a unique place in this movement. While we are proudly leading on one hand, we are falling far behind on the other. We hope hundreds of impassioned Vermonters will stand up and be counted on November 3. Help counter the Governor’s milquetoast response to the climate change crisis by calling real, substantive action. Step It Up, Congress! Step It Up, Vermont! Cut carbon 80 percent by 2050!
Hope to see you there…
(The views and opinions expressed in the blog do not reflect Step It Up's organizational position.)
We just surpassed the moment when 7,000 invitation had been sent to politicians -- and we didn't even manage to blog about flying past the 6,000 invitation mark, we're moving that quickly. Now, don't forget to follow-up your invitations with phone calls to campaign or congressional offices and asking to speak with the scheduler. That's the best way to ensure we'll have some leaders attending events on November 3rd.
And with Power Shift and Step It Up right around the corner, new energy and creativity is bubbling up all around. Check out the latest response to the Green Finger Video posting by some young leaders at Sidwell Friends School in Washington D.C.
Our friend Tom Jackson, being very supportive of Step It Up, is offering organizers FREE DVD copies of his amazing movie Out of Balance. All you have to do is email a description of your Step It Up event, as well as a shipping address, to here. Check out below more information about Out of Balance:
Think Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth and take it one step further. Out of Balance is an expose on the largest, most powerful oil company in the world. Director Tom Jackson clearly points the finger at ExxonMobil for using its immense power to block efforts to wean us from our addition to oil.
Featuring commentary from Bill Mckibben and RK Pachauri, Chairman of
the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), a co-recipient of
the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore.
In its quest for even greater power and wealth, ExxonMobil, rather than help define and defeat the problem of global warming, has used the media to misinform the public, blatantly ignoring the health of our planet and its inhabitants.
A group of scientists, business executives and environmentalists are determined to battle and overcome this greedy Goliath. Out of Balance lends hope by giving solutions which will not only save the ecosystem, but ensure future generations have a livable planet.
We can only watch in a kind of sad horror as flames devastate one of
the richest parts of the richest nation on earth. There's no refuge
from a changing earth anywhere--I've spent the day worrying about my
aunt, who was evacuated near San Diego yesterday. These are, we pray,
temporary environmental refugees, but they're just as scared and
scarred as people around the world who face disastrous change--the UN
says we may see 450 million people fleeing environmental devastation by
Watching from a distance, we can't help put out the
flames or shelter the afflicted. All we can do is try to make it less
likely that these disasters spread, by trying to bring global warming
under some kind of control. That's what Nov. 3 is all about--call it
firefighting on a large scale, at the very center of the blaze. Write
your politicians and tell them you're scared, you're angry, and you
want to see them out on November 3 to explain what the hell they're
planning to do.
The big day is just around the corner, and more and more organizers all across the country are getting their plans together in wonderful ways. Slowly but surely we're hearing back from members of Congress and presidential candidates. Though, it doesn't hurt to give them another follow-up call to speak with a scheduler directly and try to work out the best plan for having them attend an event.
And irregardless of politicians attendance, there are some great plans for fun and truly meaningful actions on November 3rd. Not only that, but a few actions are getting so organized that they have action websites of their own. Check out the ones for Atlanta and Boston:
I figured it was time to introduce myself before it was too late and we all get caught up in the success of Nov. 3rd. My name is Lauren and I’m new to the Step It Up crew and feel very fortunate to be apart this exciting and energetic grass roots movement. I was a local Step It Up organizer, yes one of the 1,400, in my community here in beautiful New Hampshire last April 14th. I really loved the experience of being able to bring several communities together to rally around the same cause, and learned one of the most valuable lessons in my life so far; organizing isn’t hard, it’s actually pretty fun and everyone can do it. If I could throw together an event in about two weeks while trying to graduate and plan for the future, you can still do it too.
For our work this fall, I’ve been focusing on working with candidates to get commitments from them to attend a Step It Up event on Nov 3rd. With many of my interactions with campaigns I’ve been able to see how all the invitations and phone calls that each of us make really has an impact on what the candidates are saying and how they gauge what is important to the people. So if there is anything we all need to do is to keep it up; our most powerful resource is our voice, and collectively we can’t be ignored on Nov. 3rd.
So as I continue to contact these campaigns until they commit, I hope that you will join me, even if you’ve already invited everyone. Being in crunch time with Nov 3rd just around the corner, it’s important to remember what it is that motivates us to put so much time and energy into working for change. For me it’s my family and my little brother’s future. What’s your motivation?
We are really excited about the great event being planned down in New Orleans for Nov 3rd by several motivated Tulane students. In the words of organizer Lauren Sher
“The city of New Orleans, of all places, can attest to the affects of global warming. Katrina was a signal to the world that we can no longer stand on the sidelines. It's time to take a stand and demand leaders STEP IT UP and get serious about our future.”
The event kicks off with a sweet rally that flows into a second line parade down the city streets to the Super Dome where they will join with football fans to take a group picture with a clear message calling for national action on climate change. Among the attendees include City council members, representatives from the Gulf Coast Restoration Network and the Alliance of Affordable Energy and hundreds of New Orleans citizens and Tulane students.
How did it work out that these New Orleans organizers were able to get Edwards at their event? One word: persistence, and maybe some luck. All of our leaders are well aware of Step It Up on Nov 3rd thanks to your thousands of invitations, yet we all need to follow up with them on the phone, more than once, to get that confirmation of attendance. Edwards himself, like many others, has been willing to attend a Step It Up event for quite some time, yet it’s their scheduler that we need to nail down on the logistics. So don’t get discouraged if you haven’t gotten that commitment, courting a candidate to your event can be just like courting a date, it can take several tries with different angles, but at least no flowers or chocolates are necessary.
Georgia10s excellent riposte to Tom Friedman made me think that everyone might enjoy seeing a few pictures--and that they might serve as further encouragement to email everyone you can think of with the Step It Up Invite Tool so that we can get our politicians to actually come out and listen on Nov. 3. These snapshots (there are hundreds more to see at stepitup2007.org) came from our last round of actions on April 14, 2007 when people gathered in 1400 locations--by day's end everyone had uploaded pictures, and here are a few.
Key West--on the mainland's only coral reefs, an underwater demonstration--because those coral reefs will be gone in 30 years.
In lower Manhattan--thousands of people like these in blue, joining hands to form a 'sea of people' to show where the tide line will be in America's most expensive real estate
Out West--multi-day ascents of glaciated peaks, which won't be glaciated much longer
In Salt Lake City--where Mayor Rocky Anderson led the charge
And so on and so on and so on.
The point is, people are already on the move, even if they haven't penetrated the Friedman bubble. There need to be many many more, however--which is why it would be awfully nice if you could spread the word to everyone you know about StepItUp on Nov. 3
p.s.--many Kossacks helped with rallies last time round--post more pics if you got 'em!
This is what we are doing, as Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus put it so simply yesterday afternoon as he addresssed the gathering of seasoned and brand new activists at a Presbyterian Church in D.C.. The church was the site of the preparations for the No War No Warming action today and in the back of the sanctuary, artists finished stenciling signs, and put the finishing touches on banners, paper maiche globes, and several polar bear costumes as Yearwood spoke. Today marks a historic day in the progressive movement, when two important dots are connected --- the war and global warming -- through a dozen or so creative direct actions on Capitol Hill.
With limited time, money, and energy, we often find ourselves becoming wholly focused on one issue, or even one organization, and are often unable to pick our heads up and see that our work and our energy could be strengthened through solidarity with other causes. When more oil is used in combat in Iraq on a single day, than the entire country of Bangladesh (pop. 150 million) uses in a day, we know it is time to connect the dots.
Today over 200 folks demonstrated peacefully, with 70 of them risking arrest to show the urgency of these issues. Through critical mass bike rides, rapping and dancing polar bears on the steps of the House Building, sit-ins on Independence Ave., and many other awesome visuals, they sufficiently caused a ruckus and shut things down for at least a few hours. The action was successful today, both in the attention it drew from media and politicians, and the connections it bridged between these movements. I was happy to be able to be on the ground here today to lend my support from the Step It Up crew as a legal observer to protect those who were willing to risk arrest. But this is just another day in the movement - we have much more work to do- so let's keep it moving! Not too much longer till Nov. 3rd.
Hey Organizers: we've got a great suggestion for you to promote your November 3 event. CNN is set to release a new documentary about climate change, and it airs tomorrow and the day after. You might consider having an event planning meeting and then watching the documentary, or even just sending an email to your co-organizers and encouraging them to watch it. Sometimes it's helpful to watch a film or T.V. program that reminds us why we're doing what we're doing. And those of you reading this who aren't November 3 organizers, well, I'm sure you read between the lines. You can watch this program too; and perhaps it will inspire you to take part in the grassroots mobilization on November 3.
Here's more about CNN's "Planet in Peril":
Planet In Peril is CNN’s new riveting documentary about climate change and its effects happening in real time. Bringing viewers the stories behind the statistics, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Animal Planet host and wildlife biologist Jeff Corwin will focus on four main issues that threaten the planet and its inhabitants: climate change, deforestation, species loss and overpopulation.
Planet in Peril, filmed across four continents and 13 countries, airs over two nights on CNN/U.S. on Tuesday, Oct. 23, and Wednesday, Oct. 24, from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. (ET/PT) and globally on CNN International.
"Before you go, come up to the events platform with me," she said. I jumped up into the air and glided to a landing on the glass platform where a November 3 Step It Up action will be held. I flew there because the platform, decorated with a translucent Step It Up logo and a photo of Al Gore and the IPCC receiving the Nobel Prize for Peace, is suspended a few hundred feet above the ocean, off the coast of Better World, part of the web-based computer simulation world called Second Life.
The organizer of the event, Delia Lake, a virtual high-heeled brunette controlled by a real person staring at a computer screen somewhere, is one of the many Step It Up organizers around the country planning events for November 3. "I have an 8 hour day planned," explained Delia via online text chat. "Since second life has residents from around the world, we have not limited our event to the USA. We are expecting lots of people to come, and in fact 3 of our scheduled speakers are non-US." At 3 in the afternoon, speakers will give way to live music and dancing.
Is a virtual Step It Up event still an event, even if the people attending it are not meeting up face-to-face? Well, as it turns out, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, along with a number of congresspeople have "avatars" (virtual representations of themselves) on Second Life, probably manned by clicking campaigners. Delia, a veteran Second Life organizer, has already invited the virtual candidates to her event.
Before you scoff at Second Life, and picture people in their underwear, staring at bright, buzzing computer screens in dark rooms, flying their avatars around virtual worlds and "attending" events, think about the fact that the online simulation just recently registered its 10 millionth member.
Delia expects more than 250 people to join her Step It Up event on Second Life, a good turnout, real or otherwise. The internet, in all its permutations, nooks and crannies, is an important tool for people to connect with each other, and as long as virtual activism turns into real activism, we're all for it! And who can resist live music and a dance party, even if it is virtual?
We knew we were doing well when Alpha Phi sorority girls sent us a photo from Texas last spring of their whole chapter smiling behind a Step It Up banner. This fall, we're thrilled to be featured in Cosmo Girl. Welcome CG fans - as Jess says, "Green Love and Girl Power!" That's a combo no politicians in their right mind should try and stand against . . . read on for the full post from cosmogirl.com:
Do you ever feel like you want to do something to help the
environment, but you're just not sure where to start? Well, I just
learned that the organization Step It Up
is holding a national rally to curb global warming on Sat., Nov. 3. I
love this cause and the idea that girls everywhere can take a stand
against global warming—on the same day!
In April, Step It Up held a national rally, like this one, with more
than 1,400 events in 50 states, making it the largest global warming
event in U.S. history! Girls from the sorority Alpha Phi at The
University of Texas at Austin supported the cause with a sign that
said, "Hey Congress! Step It Up! Cut Carbon 80% by 2050!"
Check out this speech that Tiffany Cordero gave (in front of 8,000 people!) at a rally in New York City in April.
Would you like to get involved with this awesome organization, and
take a stand against global warming? Check to see if there'll be a Step
It Up rally in your area on Nov. 3 here.
Green love and girl power!
Jess, Editorial Assistant
Here's an great way to help get the word out for November 3...
We need to engage media sources of all kinds, everything from online blogs to local papers. In addition to setting up meetings with the editors and writers of local news papers, a great way to get the message into papers is to write letters to the editor. Check out the letter that Benton, Maine organizer, Linda Woods, had published in her local paper: click here.
Today we welcome guest blogger Deirdre Gill from the blog "Green Guide for Kids" to hear about how to harness kids' abundant energy and idealism for the good of the planet, where to find resources geared towards kids, and her awesome collaborative art project/Step It Up action on November 3rd:
I was nine years old when I learned that human beings were polluting the planet and I remember feeling two things. The first being dismay and the second hope. I was so eager for someone to tell me what I could do to make an impact. My teachers and parents taught me what they knew about the environment and what actions could be taken to help solve the crisis. Having this information and taking small but meaningful actions made me feel like I was part of the solution and helped curb the anxiety I felt.
Watch any five year old for a few seconds and you'll see that kids have a real need to be in constant motion. That urge for kids to get up and go is why kids are such a powerful force to change the world. While most adults stand around and talk about doing things, kids do things.
It is with this in mind that I decided to write a green guide for kids and start a website. My goal is to provide an accessible guide for kids to get the facts on the environment and learn about ways they can take action. I try to make these activities practical so that children can do them on their own without the help of an adult. I also try to encourage kids to develop a relationship with nature so that when they grow up they will continue to take care of the environment.
For my November 3rd action we will be gathering at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn to paint our Step it Up banner. The plan is to start with a long scroll of paper with our main message. Then all participants will color, write, paint, or collage their own messages onto the banner. The scroll can be unrolled on either end to make sure that there is unlimited room for all the inspired contributers. When we hold it up for politicians and entire the country to see, we will have created a message that is personal for all of us.
One of the great joys of working on Step It Up is the opportunity to talk with hundreds of organizers around the country who are pulling together an event for November 3rd. It's a diverse group, from seasoned activists to first-time organizers, grandmothers to high school students, and city-dwellers to people in rural places.
Above all, it's an incredibly hopeful array of individuals and communities - - more than any new technology or scientific report, it's this coming together, what Bill McKibben refers to as the "technology of community," that convinces us we can do something about this crisis.
Just a few moments ago, I talked with Anne Marie Treger who just signed up an event for Summit, New Jersey today. She took part in an event last April 14 with her children and had a great time, but wanted to draw out even more people to the next gathering in Summit. Until recently, however, she hadn't heard of Step It Up's plans for November 3rd. Then, she heard Bill on the radio talking, as he often does, about Step It Up and how this initiative came together - bubbling up from the grassroots and sustained by thousands of people across the country.
With 16 days left until November 3rd and a busy personal life, Anne Marie decided that she had to take action. And before you could say "80% by 2050" she had found a historic place, contacted local speakers, and signed up the event on our website. It can seem intimidating to take those first steps, she told me on the phone, but now she's well on her way to organizing a great action and has already accomplished more than she thought possible in a few short days.
That's exactly the spirit we're looking for - the initiative to take a leap of faith and sign up an event for your community. It's a leap of faith that we're all taking together. There's no guarantee that Step It Up will break through the noise and money in Washington, but we think organizing in our communities, that coming together that Bill refers to, is our best chance to make a difference.
If you haven't yet signed up your event, take the time to do so now - or join up with an event in your community and help chip in to make it a success. There's still plenty of time. And with your help, November 3rd will be another important step in this growing movement to stop global warming.
Step It Up organizer Roger Shamel asked presidential candidate Bill Richardson to attend a Step It Up event on November 3rd. Richardson was rendered speechless. Will he address the 1 Sky priorities at a Step It Up event? Help us get an answer by sending him an invitation here.
You may remember a while back how Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson shot a video addressing every mayor in the country encouraging them to Step It Up, to join the action on November 3rd and commit to supporting the 1 Sky priorities in their cities. Daniel Bell, one of our stellar organizers, used his Iowa charm to squeeze a question about Step It Up into an interview with the mayor of Berkley, Tom Bates in response to "Rocky's Challenge." Check it out:
The City of Berkley has big plans for reducing their emissions. They're leading the way in their State, and they're ready to see some climate leadership at the federal level. Berkley is so psyched about Stepping It Up they'll be hosting 3 November 3rd events within a 5 mile radius of each other! Well done Berkley, and thank you Mayor Bates!
For all of you diligently charging ahead with the nitty gritty of organizing (for November 3rd actions or anything else), here's something you might find to be both an enjoyable and useful, quick break...
We're pleased to announce that the book, Fight Global Warming Now, has just been released. This book, co-authored by our crew here at Step It Up headquarters, was really a collaborative project of all the Step It Up organizers from the April 14th day of action and other climate activists across the country, who shared their stories and insights on organizing in the climate movement.
The sub-title for the book is The Handbook for Taking Action in Your Community, and it is intended to offer a few accounts and tips on how to effectively organize within local communities while also striving for national, even global change. It's a quick read, and you might even find it useful in the last few stages of your preparation for November 3 -- particularly the chapter called "Make It Snappy," which contains a few ideas on how to pull of effective action on short notice.
We're no experts on organizing. We're all young and haven't been doing this sort of thing for long. But with the help of everyone that contributed stories and ideas, the book turned out alright. So a BIG THANKS to everyone that helped us put it together! Enjoy, and then, of course, get out there and organize.
Just two short days ago, we had a mere 4,000 invitations, but NOW, we're half way to quintuple digits! If we can get 1,000 invitations and a presidential candidate confirmation every two days, we'll be set. Keep up the great work! Our phones are ringing off the hook these days with Congressional schedulers calling the office to hear more about your events. We're now approaching a proverbial RED ZONE where schedulers are on the prowl for the best events to send their congressmen to. They want something local powerful, meaningful, and seductive to the media, and our events are perfect. Let's keep calling schedulers, and let those invites flow like wine.
Most of you should hear from us within the next couple weeks as well. We're always working hard to answer your questions and get a better sense of what people are up to. Right now our organizer headquarters is brimming with freshly updated suggestions, anecdotes, and materials. Please take a glance or two, and don't hesitate to e-mail the team with your questions and comments. Rock on!
So I am the newbie around here, and want to take a moment to introduce myself. Like many of us, I just graduated from Middlebury College, spent the summer in New Hampshire with the Climate Summer project, and originally got started doing climate stuff at Middlebury with the Sunday Night Group. However, some might claim that my heart lies in Montana, where I spent the past two months working in Glacier National Park as a boat captain and tour guide for the Glacier Park Boat Company.
Two seasons working in the park has fostered a deep respect for the natural beauty of the area, and anyone who knows me has heard far too much about my time spent there. As a lover of everything mountainous, it’s hard not to fall for the snow-capped peaks, glacially carved valleys and stark landscape. And, of course, it is difficult to avoid thinking about global climate change. With arguably only 19 glaciers left of the 150 evident when the park was established in 1910, the park finds itself in a dramatic state of change. Hiking up to the Grinnell glacier, which struck visitors in the past with its sheer magnificence, tourists are now faced with mere evidence of former beauty. While still striking (after all, it's no fault of the glaciers), the dwindling glaciers are part of a provocative landscape that offers the perfect opportunity to talk about the impact of climate change.
Working as a boat tour guide within this landscape both enables me to educate people about global warming and inspires me to continue the work of getting the U.S. to actually do something about it. And, of course it is not a bad way to spend two months. Yet to now live here in New Hampshire, surrounded by amazing people and hearing about the hard work that you folks are doing across the county, is pretty incredible. Keep inspiring, everyone!
This just in: NY Congresswoman Kristen Gillibrand just accepted an invitation to attend a Step It Up rally. This follows up her in-district appearance last April - welcome back Kirsten! The NY 20th district has 6 Step It Up actions either within the district or along the border. One of our all-star organizers, Councilwoman Judy Villa-White has been in close communication with the local office, which will be sending a field representative to her November 3rd Glens Falls Event. Not only that, but the office will be working on making a Rocky-style YouTube video addressing her constituents in each of the neighboring events, that way they all know how she plans to confront climate change.
This RSVP goes to show that persistence from local organizers is the most effective way to really get your congressmen/women to respond. Keep up the great work!
Yesterday, Bill posted a diary (his first ever!) up on the Daily Kos. Thanks to all the Kossacks who responded and are getting involved in the campaign. With any luck, our Invite Counter will push past 5,000 invites - - and we're having some very promising talks with Congressional and Presidential Candidate's schedulers about attending events. Remember, call your politicians and get them out on Nov. 3rd! Here's the post from Bill:
After several years of constant lurking, and occasionally writing about Kos in the MSM and even getting to speak at Yearly Kos, this is my first post. It's because I want to ask folks to take a few minutes to help us with a project and introduce you to a new tool we've developed to make it happen.
Some of you may remember the Step It Up rallies that we organized in the spring--1,400 rallies in all 50 states that helped make calls for 80% cuts in carbon emissions a standard part of the global warming debate. We're at it again--on Nov. 3 we're holding demonstrations all across the country (well, except in North Dakota, at least so far). This time we're trying to cut the number down a little bit (last time we had a bit of the cannibalization problem that Starbucks must encounter when opening new sites) and instead concentrating on getting politicians to actually come address the issue, head-on no excuses, tell us what the hell you're going to do. (You can see the map of all the rallies so far at stepitup07.org, and it's not too late to organize one in your community.)
To get the politicians out to these gatherings, we've invented (well, not me--I'm not really the software-engineering type) an new little widget that allows you to easily send invitations to both your Senators, your Congressperson, and all 17 presidential candidates, inviting them to the nearest rally. It won't take more than a few minutes.
And it works. We debuted this tool last week, and now people are inviting their politicians by the hundreds every hour. And we're starting to get RSVPs. Over the last few days Edwards, Kucinich, and McCain have all agreed to come on. The word is spreading fast--here's an op-ed in the LA Times this morning, and a post from Grist. But we can make this a juggernaut if everyone will take a few minutes and do some heavy duty clicking.
Look--I've been working on this stuff for twenty years, ever since I wrote the first book for a general audience about global warming. There's finally the start of a real political movement (and the Nobels last week really helped). But at the moment we're losing the race: Arctic sea ice is melting so fast that even scientists are shaken. If they're shaken, then we better be stirred to action. This is the easiest opportunity you're ever going to get to help out (there will be harder ones ahead) Many many thanks!
We need to send hundreds of millions of dollars down to our public high schools, vocational colleges, and community colleges to begin training people in the green-collar work of the future -- things like solar-panel installation, retrofitting buildings that are leaking energy, wastewater reclamation, organic food, materials reuse and recycling.
Since then, Van has been making this vision a reality. His Green For All has been taking off, winning accolades from members of congress and presidential candidates and was recently recognized at the Clinton Global Initiative and highlighted by Bill himself.
"Green Jobs Now" is the first of our three priorities that we want every politician to address on November 3rd. What's their plan to make sure the new energy economy is a just one? How much money are they willing to invest to train people from disadvantaged communities in green jobs? How well do they articulate a vision for the future that values our human resources just as much as our natural resources?
If you're organizing a Step It Up event for November 3rd, think about how you can integrate the message of Green Jobs Now into your rally. How about wearing some hard hats? Or getting a speaker from a local Boys and Girls Club or YMCA to talk about job creation? It can be as creative as putting up a solar panel yourself to as simple as a community discussion - - whatever it is, let's make sure our call for Green Jobs Now resonates loud and clear on November 3rd and into the future.
Together, we can help ensure that the coming green economic wave lifts all boats.
You can advance many great arguments against making Iowa and New Hampshire the bellwethers of our political life: they are pale, unrepresentative, rural, and obsessed with a few issues (the price of corn has doubled in the last year due to the ethanol boom, which in turn is due to the Iowa caucus). But one argument that their backers always make rings true as well: in an America so oversized that politics takes on an entirely abstract feeling, in these two states the presidential candidates actually engage with citizens. The New Hampshire primary and the Iowa caucus offer the only punctures in the airless sphere that is high-level American political life -- the only chance for regular people to get inside for a moment.
What do I mean? Here's what I mean:
At noon last Saturday, a few of us were sitting around the Step It Up 2 offices along Elm St. in Manchester, N.H., eating a lunch we'd carried in from a nearby diner. We looked out the window, and there was Dennis Kucinich peering in at our signs and banners. Lindsay Franklin grabbed the Flip camera and ran out on the sidewalk where she asked him if he'd come to one of the Step It Up events on Nov. 3 and give a talk. Sure, he said -- and with that we had our first commitment from a presidential candidate.
The second came 10 or 15 seconds later, when someone's cell phone buzzed. Ian Hough and Zo Tobi were two blocks down the street, listening to John McCain speak at a forum organized by Clean Air-Cool Planet. When question time came, they stepped up to the mike and asked the senator if he'd come to a Step It Up rally, and he said yes, if he got an invitation. We didn't bother telling him he'd already received several hundred through the invite tool on our website -- ace organizer Roger Shamel simply got up from the audience and handed him a hard-copy invitation. Not only that, but McCain said he might support a moratorium on new coal-fired power as long as we could show him possible alternatives.
Before the day was out, we'd also heard from John Edwards...
Senator John Edwards will be part of Step It Up on November 3! After Stepping It Up last April 14th in Fort Myers, Florida, Senator Edwards is looking forward to taking part again. This time around he'll be in New Orleans for the big day joining in with the Second Line Parade organized by Tulane students and the organization Healthy Gulf. Edwards responded to our collective call for leadership after 120 invitations were sent his way by Step It Up organizers and supporters.
How many invites will it take for other leaders to commit? Senator Hillary Clinton has received 250 to date and Senator Barack Obama has received almost 170.
Now that a handful of presidential candidates have RSVP'd, it's a great time to remind your elected officials about your event. Give them a call today--we've found that calls really make the difference. And while your at it, don't hesitate to call us here at Step IT Up Action Center, we'd love to hear how things are shaping up with your events and inviting your leaders.
So we really like this idea of the green finger - the vision of thousands of green fingers raised around the country on a single day this fall, united together to work on a common cause that day, each with their own reason for being there hidden beneath their index finger. And it wouldn't stop there - all the way through the election, the movement would keep building, people joining in solidarity from all around the country, to post their response of why they were committed to fighting global warming.
But we had no idea if anyone else would think it was cool. Until we got this sweet video from the place where all cool trends start, New York City. Check out what the New York Step It Up organizers made at their last organizing meeting:
Check out this opinion piece by Bill McKibben in today's Los Angeles Times. We're using the internet in new and exciting ways to take real action, and we're more than the sum of our parts.
The power of the click
The Internet is more than a campaign fundraising tool; it's creating a political force.
By Bill McKibben
October 16, 2007
The Internet is a maturing technology now. It's reached the point where
we're figuring out how to do things that don't involve gambling,
shopping or looking at the scantily clad. Politics, for instance.
Politics in whole new ways that might change the balance of power
between politician and citizen.
2004 election cycle saw one breakthrough. Especially on the left,
candidates figured out how to raise money over the Web. Howard Dean was
the pioneer. This time around, it's Barack Obama, who says he has
amassed 300,000 contributors -- one American in 1,000 has given cash to
his campaign, which is pretty remarkable.
For 2008, though,
activists are trying to turn the Internet into something more than an
ATM. We're trying to take the candidates out of their game plans and
make them answer to our concerns, right now, before the votes are cast
and while there's still some leverage. We're trying to use electrons to
pin them down.
Those of us working on global warming, for instance, are focusing efforts this fall on Stepitup07.org.
Last spring, we used this website to coordinate 1,400 simultaneous
rallies in all 50 states calling for deep cuts in U.S. carbon
emissions. On Nov. 3, we're staging another series of gatherings across
the country, this time aimed squarely at politicians, trying to see if
there are some Al-Gores-in-waiting out there, ready to actually lead on
Using a new "widget" -- a small, easy-to-share
Web tool -- we're able to let people issue invitations to their
politicians of choice to speak at these rallies. Since this project
debuted early this month, more than 3,000 people have taken us up on
it, inviting almost every member of Congress and all the presidential
candidates. And some of those politicians are promising that they'll
This is new. In days of yore, if you were concerned
about, say, global warming, you might write a letter to your
congressman. You might research the presidential candidates to figure
out which one was most aggressive about climate change, and then you
might mail him a check. But the chance to work together with people
around the country on a common cause was mostly reserved for
"organizations" -- for environmental groups, say, with big buildings in
Washington, calendars and boards of directors.
In the Internet
Age, though, new models emerge. When we ran those rallies last spring,
we had help from the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council
and many others -- but we also had hundreds upon hundreds of organizers
who had never done anything like it before.
In the course of
six to eight weeks, they were able to parlay their e-mail lists of
friends, family and contacts into geometrically expanding circles of
potential protesters. For $100,000, we ran one of the largest days of
environmental protest since the first Earth Day in 1970 -- and did it
in the districts of members of Congress, not on the Mall in Washington.
Now, with our new "invite tool," you can sit at your computer and in 10
minutes ask every one of your political leaders for an RSVP. It feels
as though we're starting to make them respond to our agenda, not the
other way around.
We're finding, in other words, that a certain
kind of organizing no longer requires years of groundwork. It requires
a good idea and a well-written e-mail. MoveOn.org has been working this
terrain for years; now groups like ours are trying to figure out how to
mix real-world and virtual politics, how to work the system as nimbly
and with as much savvy as the K Street lobbyists. We can't come up with
$1,000 for a plate of dinner, but we can muster 1,000 people in 1,000
different places to demand action.
In certain ways, it's a
lousy time to be coming of age -- those satellite photos last month of
the rapidly melting Arctic ice cap foreshadowed a century that will be
spent trying to deal with the greatest threat to stability that human
civilization has ever encountered.
But the moment has also
given us a new set of tools for connection. The fight against global
warming requires all kinds of technology -- solar panels and windmills,
but also servers and routers.
Bill McKibben, a scholar in
residence at Middlebury College, is co-founder of Stepitup07.org and
coauthor of the just-published "Fight Global Warming Now."
Wow. What a weekend! In less than a week we sent more than a thousand invitations to candidates for federal office, giving us a total of 4,000 personal requests for an appearance at a November 3rd event. These invitations themselves were an astounding feat, but the best part? It's working! Just this weekend, two presidential candidates agreed to join the movement of concerned citizens ready to confront climate change. It just goes to show that politicians really do care about our requests - the fact that communities all across the country are doing something about this problem is a big deal for the leadership of our country. McCain's response in particular goes to show that democrats aren't always the ones leading the way on this issue. Who will step it up next? Who's a leader?
Our most successful efforts so far have come from organizers who called district offices directly, or sent hand written letters. Nothing beats getting a real person on the phone though, so be sure to call, and ask for the scheduler. Be sure to call both Democrats and Republicans- they both want our votes. Let's keep those invites coming, and the RSVPs will surely come rolling in. Great work everyone!
How about this for a double-play? Not only did we receive word from presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich that he would attend a Step It Up event on November 3, but we got one from across the aisle as well. Senator John McCain, a Republican frontrunner in the presidential primaries, committed to attending an event, wherever he will be on that date.
McCain introduced significant climate legislation in the US congress in 2003, but will he address the issues of coal-fire power plants, green jobs and an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050? Climate change is a bi-partisan issue, and we here at Step It Up headquarters feel that any candidate who addresses the issue is on the right track.
We can't compromise on climate, and politicians from the left, right and everywhere in between need to be on board to make sure that we pass bold and comprehensive legislation. Invite Senator McCain to your event on November 3 by clicking here, and ask him to address the 1Sky priorities.
Well, we finally got the first confirmation from a presidential candidate on Friday. We were sitting in our office and saw Congressman Dennis Kucinich walk by our front door, taking a moment to peek through the window before continuing on at a quick clip. Luckily, we spotted him and chased him down to get this video commitment to attend a November 3 Step It Up action.
If you want Dennis to attend your rally, click here to invite him. Let's make sure all of the other presidential candidates follow suit--we want to make sure that every politician addresses the three 1Sky priorities on November 3rd.
It seems quite appropriate that today, on "Blog Action Day", there's going to be some BIG action and announcements on our blog here at Step It Up -- stay tuned later on today.
Blog Action Day is a unique day with 15,000 blogs signed up to write about something related to the environment. That's not too hard for us here at Step It Up (climate being our thing and all), but it's fun to join in such a widespread effort. And our hope is that some of those blogs will write about the exciting work all of you are doing gearing up for November 3, when we'll take our online action to the streets!
So, keep your eyes peeled for interesting environmental news out in the blogosphere today. And stay tuned here for some exciting announcements...
Normally, we'd encourage you to check back and read our blog every day. But tomorrow is a day to take a break and give Mother Earth a rest from the constant drain of laptops, lights, microwaves, and all the other things that require electricity. Get outside (maybe to put up fliers for your Step It Up event?) and celebrate nature as part of "Unplug Day." Read on for an explanation from the crew behind Unplug Day 2007:
The "Unplug America" campaign was introduced by Indigenous Peoples in 1992 in response to the 500 year anniversary of the arrival of Columbus to the Americas. October 13, 1992 was designated as a starting point to look forward to the next 500 years and work to make a sustainable and just world, starting by giving Mother Earth a rest!
Unplug Day is an invitation to all people to show our love and respect for Mother Earth by challenging unhealthy patterns of consumption and the continued production of poisons that destroy our environment. October 13th is a day to unplug – turn off the TV and radio, shut off the taps, and leave the fossil-fuel burning vehicle at home! Instead, take a walk with friends and family, tell stories, do something artistic, and say a prayer for Mother Earth and our communities. It's only one day but also a first step in reducing our carbon footprint, exploring consumer choices and ways of life that are more healthy and sustainable, and acting for future generations.
The news that Al Gore and the IPCC will share this year's Nobel Peace Prize
couldn't have made us any happier (though if we were on the committee
we would have added Jim Hansen to the list). We think the Nobel
Committee is aiming its message squarely at Americans, the last
developed country in the world not taking this problem seriously--and
we think they're saying "the rest of the planet has long since made up
its mind about global warming -- isn't it time you Americans paid a
little more attention?"
Of all the items we've read across the blogosphere this morning about the prize, we liked the one from Josh Marshall at TalkingPointsMemo.com about the best--especially because it ended this way: "Where can we go from here?"
The whole point of our stepitup07.org
efforts is to find the next Al Gores, the politicians who are going to
stand up and actually lead on this issue. Remember, Al Gore was a
Senator when he started this work, a Senator sitting in hearings,
listening to scientists, eventually taking a crucial role at the front
of the parade. He did it without a movement prodding him along--but
he's an exceptional case. It's clear that most of our politicians, who
are going to need to make tough calls in the next two or three years,
badly need to hear from their constituents.
Today, all kinds of people are badgering Gore to
run for president. Which is fine by us. But even if he does, and even
if he wins, he's going to need a lot of committed people in Congress to
get anything done. And if he doesn't, we can't have the rest of the
presidential field just thinking that climate change is 'Al Gore's
issue.' Stepitup07.org is about using people power to create new leaders.
We've got another one! We just got word from Western Massachusetts that Congressman John Olver will be attending a Step It Up event in Lenox, MA. (That's the Congressman, second from the left, in the photo).
We should have known we could count on Lenox to get their Congressman - the organizer of the Step It Up event there is none other than our friend and fellow climate champion Tom Stokes. Tom has been a leading force for pushing the United States to sign the Kyoto Protocol and help build an even stronger agreement that would take us beyond the Kyoto reduction targets.
He is also one of the founders of the Climate Crisis Coalition, a friend and ally of Step It Up that has been on the vanguard of the climate movement for years. Their work has been commended by Al Gore and Pulitzer Prize winning author Ross Gelbspan. Along with supporting Step It Up, the Climate Crisis Coalition is organizing an event called "No War, No Warming" which will be taking place Oct. 21-23.
As you can see, Tom Stokes is a busy guy, and we're especially grateful that he's taken the time to pull together a Step It Up event. It goes to show that busy schedules and climate organizing can go hand in hand - and that it's not too late to put together a Step It Up event in your community. Sign up today and join the movement people like Tom are helping build!
Yesterday afternoon we heard great news from Representative Chris Carney’s
office from District 10 in PA. While he
can’t show up in person on November 3rd, his Regional Coordinator will be
attending the Step It Up Central Susquehanna Valley event and issuing a
statement from the Congressman himself!
If your representatives’ schedulers are telling you they
can’t make it, first of all, be persistent! If they won’t be near your event on November 3rd, let them
know there will be events across the country, and we can help direct them to
the event closest to where they’ll be. If that doesn’t work, let them know they can issue a video statement,
like Mayor Rocky Anderson’s video, or a written statement to be read at the rally. We know we need politicians who are ready to
lead on global warming, and take action scaled to the problem – so this
November 3rd, let’s make sure they let their constituents know where
A few days ago Thomas Friedman wrote on Op-Ed in the New York Times called Generation Q-- as in the "quiet generation." In the article, Mr. Friedman was referring to folks in their 20s, which happens to include all of us here at Step It Up headquarters (except Bill of course -- he's more...mature). Today the Times was kind enough to publish my response...
To the Editor:
Looking for “activism and outrage,” eh? Well, I’m happy to report that there are at least some of us in our 20s working overtime to shake things up.
Before jumping to the conclusion that pointing people to Web sites is proving that our generation is “too online,” take a look at what we’re up to. More than anything we want a movement to take on global warming — to express our outrage and also our hope that we can do better.
We’re not just blogging and harnessing the power of online networks; we’re trying to inspire on-the-ground activism and political engagement. We’re using every tool we have, the Web included.
But we don’t just need more action from our generation. We need everyone to join the movement to fight global warming — now!
Manchester, N.H., Oct. 10, 2007
Click here to read the other letters to the editor responding to Generation Q.
Also, this Op-Ed story seems to be picking up some traffic on blogs and sites beyond the Times -- so much for not being "too online". Click here to read what's being written, but then let's get back to the task of organizing for change.
So, you think we here in Manchester aren't working hard to get candidates out to your events? Think again! Here is a play-by-play of our interaction with Hillary yesterday that proves our devotion to you...
12:30 - The crew leaves from our office, video camera in hand, ready to descend upon a Hillary event in Derry with awesome climate questions, and psyched to invite Hillary herself out to a November 3rd action.
12:45 - Said crew is thwarted by the fire marshall. Apparently, over 200 people can't fit into the Derry auditorium. A tad deflated, we head to lunch. Mmmm…fries and soggy eggplant.
2:00 - We return and our friends at the Hillary campaign manage to sneak us up to the receiving line. Our spirits up, we push ourselves into the chaos of New Hampshire voters clamoring to talk to the Senator.
2:10 - I am next in line, and Jamie is ready with the camera to film our interaction.
2:11 - Quick camera hand-off as Jamie gets shuffled away!
2:12 - I manage to grasp the Senators hand and ask her, personally, to attend a November 3rd event, and remind her that she has already received over 200 invitations. The camera's batteries, however, are dead.
2:13 - "Step it up? Step it Up?" she asks, looking around at her staff, "Do we know about this? Talk to my schedulers, and thank you for the invitation!" Or something like that.
2:14 - I get pushed towards her scheduler, and give him necessary information.
2:15 - But wait! We want Hillary on camera. So, Jamie manages another question down the line. In response to his question about global warming, she says, indicating the importance of the issue, "Well, that's it. That's the whole ball game, isn't it?"
Yes, Hillary, it is. So step it up and get out there on November 3rd!
Libuse Binder, author of Ten Ways to Change the World in Your Twenties, offers this guest post with a fun idea for Nov. 3 actions!
Earth’s current inhabitants have reached a critical juncture. As the world’s population grows, so do environmental and social concerns about such issues as global warming, poverty, and demand for non-renewable resources. However, this is not to say that we live in a society without hope. There are currently thousands of national and local organizations and businesses that are committed to causes such as sustainable living, green energy, fair trade, socially responsible investing, corporate responsibility, and humanitarianism. Ten Ways to Change the World in your Twenties is an organization and book which brings like-minded individuals together and offers tangible ways to make the world we are inheriting a better place.
In addition to describing fresh, easy to implement solutions, Ten Ways offers readers access to others in their local and global communities who share the same concern and initiative. Ten Ways taps into the potential of this energetic, influential generation of leaders and offers clear ideas for creating a world without global conflict, environmental mayhem, or poverty.
Ten Ways to Change the World in Your Twenties is a continual work in progress as organizations and individuals work together to formulate new ideas and strategies. Ten Ways is a friend and ally of Step It Up and asks those that can to throw a party with a purpose on November 3rd. Use your party as a way to gear up for the climate action nearest you or afterward to celebrate the day’s events. Remember your party should reflect your interests, so be as creative as you can! Don’t be afraid to ask your guests to dress up in funny costumes, play dodgeball, or just sit on the couch and talk about what you can do to promote clean energy, efficiency, and responsible business practices.
Choose activities that suit the interests of you and your friends, and everyone will have a great time. If you want to do more than raise awareness, you can even make it a benefit gala to help the Step it Up Team reach their goals. Simply ask your friends to bring a small donation rather than the usual host/hostess gift. Once you throw a party with a purpose on November 3rd, you will never want to throw a regular party again!
Step It Up is focused on getting the U.S. moving on climate change, but we're part of a global movement of citizens working to stop global warming. Check out this latest report from the small Pacific Island nation of Palau!
After learning that Palau’s Minister of Resources and Development, Fritz Koshiba, had recently seen and felt moved by An Inconvenient Truth, Carolyn Barnwell, a friend of Step It Up and a 2007-2008 Thomas J. Watson Fellow researching climate change issues on islands, worked with Tarita Holm from the Ministry to organize a large film screening (in a country with no cinemas). The aim was to give a large group of Palau’s leaders an opportunity to see and understand the possible impact of climate change, and spark discussion and collaboration.
Carolyn spent the last few months focusing on understanding perceptions of climate change in states all around the country of Palau, when she decided it would be worthwhile to affect decision-makers’ perceptions of climate change. On October 5th, the top leaders in the Republic of Palau gathered to watch An Inconvenient Truth by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore at the Ngarachamayong Cultural Center. The event was hosted by Bilung Gloria Salii and Minister Fritz Koshiba of the Ministry of Resources and Development, on behalf of President Remengesau, Jr.
Numerous organizations around Palau (Belau National Museum, Bureau of Public Health, Coral Reef Research Foundation, Ngarachamayong Cultural Center, Palau Conservation Society, Palau Public Utilities Corporation, Palau Red Cross Society, Palau Visitor's Authority, Protected Areas Network Office, Roll'Em Productions and the Nature Conservancy) co-sponsored the event. Having this variety of societal leaders was beneficial because, for example, leaders from Palau’s Olbiil Era Kelulau [Congress] did not know about the Red Cross’ climate change public awareness campaign or disaster relief programs. After the film, House of Delegates Vice Speaker Noah Idechong, who is the chairman of the Committee on Resources and Development, said that the House of Delegates is ready to create an inter-agency working group for climate change.
An excerpt from the Island Times (vol. 2 no. 77) article:
"Ms. Barnwell was the guest speaker at the film screening and luncheon. Scientists, she said, have confirmed that typhoons are getting stronger because of higher ocean temperatures, which means they are more destructive. "Palau has been very lucky in the past, but doesn't mean we will always be. We need to listen to what the scientists are telling us," she said.
She also lauded the government’s efforts in environmental protection and conservation and said she would share the information with the Step It Up movement, a social movement involved in addressing the climate crisis facing the world.
The movement has lobbied the US Congress for the passage of climate change legislation. It held the largest environmental demonstration last April 14, the biggest since Earth Day 1970.”
Paramount Chief Ibedul Yutaka Gibbons said the film made him think seriously on the climate change issue. He said he had heard about it in the past, but he didn't pay much attention to it. He said in the next council of chiefs meeting he will put the enforcement of Traditional Bul protected areas as a top agenda priority.
The momentum in Palau is indicative of the power of An Inconvenient Truth, using visual media to teach people about the climate crisis, and creating time and space for leaders to collaborate about addressing climate change. After last Friday's film screening, President Remengesau urged the nation to play a proactive role in the worldwide problem of climate change. Let’s hope America’s leaders Step It Up on Nov. 3rd !
We just did it! Amazingly, with your help, over 3000 invitations have now been sent to politicians and candidates nationwide. With invitation all-stars like St. Paul organizer Wanda B. (or "Raging Granny" as she refers to herself), North Carolina Reverend Rebecca Booher, or Iowa teen Scott Syroka, who all help top our lists with the most invitations sent, it's easy to see why this day of action will be such a success.
And, as we cruise by this small milestone, it certainly feels like our movement is taking shape and becoming a palpable force that politicians and candidates won’t be able to ignore. Our verbal responses from Sen. Obama and Elizabeth Edwards at events just this week show that the powers that be (namely, politicians and their lovely spouses) are hearing our call.
But, we need to keep them coming! And, more importantly, we still need to paint the country green! Thanks to some awesome organizing from Wyoming that finally puts a dot near the Tetons, North Dakota is the only lonely state left without an action. And, without an action, there can be no invitations sent to our North Dakota senators and congressmen. So give us a hand; call and email everyone you know in North Dakota. Aunts and uncles, sons and daughters, old family friends, college roommates—they are all potential organizers just waiting for the chance to get involved. Let’s keep this movement moving!
Thomas Friedman wrote an Op-Ed for the New York Times today expressing that he is "baffled" by the state of activism today - by the overabundance of mouse clicks and Facebook groups for a cause, and the dearth of politically engaged folks getting out in the streets to "speak truth to power". Here's an excerpt:
"America needs a jolt of the idealism, activism and outrage (it must be in there) of Generation Q. That’s what twentysomethings are for — to light a fire under the country. But they can’t e-mail it in, and an online petition or a mouse click for carbon neutrality won’t cut it. They have to get organized in a way that will force politicians to pay attention rather than just patronize them.
Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy didn’t change the world by asking people to join their Facebook crusades or to download their platforms. Activism can only be uploaded, the old-fashioned way — by young voters speaking truth to power, face to face, in big numbers, on campuses or the Washington Mall. Virtual politics is just that — virtual." Read the rest here.
While Friedman focuses his challenge on the younger generation, all of you involved in Step It Up and the climate movement at large have shown a huge range of ages and backgrounds who are ready to both click their mouse to organize, and then get out in the streets for the cause. So let's all flood Tom with letters today with our stories about how we are both using virtual organizing tools, and getting out on our campuses, in our communities, and in Washington to "light a fire under the country" this November 3rd and beyond. Tell him about your Step It Up event, Powershift, 1 Sky, and all the other initiatives to bring global warming to the forefront of the political realm. You can find the directions for responding to his Op-Ed here: http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/lettertoeditor.html. Then send the article to all your friends and family to urge them to get involved in the movement.
While you're at it, submit your letter to your local newspapers, and send us what you've written! For our sample LTE, click here.
Hey there! My name is Jason Kowalski, yet another new
member of the Step It Up team. I've been hard at work over the last couple months trying to make sure this whole operation flows smoothly, so I guess I might as well share a little bit about myself instead of blogging about all the great stuff other people are doing (there's no shortage of material these days). In the grand scheme of things I'm pretty new to the climate movement outside of campus dining halls and small classrooms, so after graduating from MiddleburyCollege this May I decided to “live green or die” over in New
Hampshire, where I spent the summer working on the movement with friends. As part of Climate Summer I joined up with
students from all over the country to help put on a number of fun climate-related events: a 5 Day
March, parades, teach-ins, and even a few chats about the climate at Nascar
events. One of the coolest actions we organized was called Climb-it
for the Climate where we explored the idea of calling for history-book-caliber
leadership, but from summits thousands of feet above sea level. Many members of the
StepItUpfamily led trips up mountains named after historic leaders, dubbed
“the Presidential Range” in northern New
Hampshire. In the end we had over 175 people scaling the
Presidential Peaks, each bearing a message tailored to their mountain/historic
leader: “What Would Washington do? Cut Carbon 80% by 2050.” (Click here for photos and more costume shenanigans)
course we’ve taken the general leadership idea to the next level with the new
brand of web-based maroon and yellow greatness that is Step It Up 2.0. After stretching
myself thin studying and climateering in college, now I feel very lucky to have
the privilege of organizing around this issue full time. My role on the team is
to be sort of a policy nerd. For some reason I get really excited about the
units, numbers, and policy programs that will drive all the great innovation
we’re talking about. I guess it’s the ideas that all this is so doable that
really gets me psyched. As a matter of fact, it was an economics class
that really sparked my ignition within the climate movement. Nothing beats a
solid graph to get your mind rolling around these epic solutions being proposed. (For some of my favorite bedtime reading, click here).
Of course I've also learned that
reading policy papers is no way to fight global warming NOW. Solving the climate crisis is worth devoting a chunk of your life to regardless of how much scientific/economic/political training you have. Personally, I was trained to study medicine and literature, but luckily for me all you really need to spark a revolutionary social movement is a good conscience and a handful of equally passionate friends. Our movement needs all the intelligence, stamina, and creativity we can get, and I get to sit back and watch that poor in all day long. We've got what it takes to make this happen, all we need to do now is friend our leaders.
Step It Up wouldn't just have been more difficult to organize a few years ago - it would have been impossible. Along with the sweat, passion, phone calls, and general hard work that thousands of people are putting in around the country, there is a key element that makes Step It Up come together: the Internet.
In the final weeks before November 3rd, we need your help putting this so-called inter-web to work. If you're reading this blog post, that means you're on the web right now. At your finger tips is an incredible tool to help make social change, help us put it to work by spreading the word on blogs, social networking sites, email lists - - anything you can think of. Read an article about global warming online? Encourage people to take action by joining us on November 3rd! Find a discussion forum where people are chatting about politics and social change? Tell them about our "Invite the Leaders" tool and challenge them to invite their politicians.
Or, if you've really got the techno-bug, take a minute to work us into your website. Every link helps, from the Sierra Club's "Step It Up" site, to our friends at Lawrence High School in Maine and their "Gang Green" site helping promote their environmental club and Step It Up event. Thanks team!
So, let's take the internet by storm in the coming weeks - you've got the power, use it!
Good news! Representative Nick Lampson of Texas's 22nd district has agreed to attend the Step It Up event in Sugar Land, TX -- how sweet it is (sorry, I had to do it).
We're continuing to turn up the heat on the rest of Congress and presidential candidates by flooding them with invitations for November 3 events -- and it's paying off. We're glad you'll be joining us, Rep. Lampson. And a big thanks to Sugar Land organizer John Preston for his solid work to set this up.
Now who else is going to step it up? It's up to us to follow through with our invitations, get everyone we know to help send invitations, and get our politicians to confirm. Keep us posted on how your efforts go.
Exciting news! We here at the Step it Up Headquarters in Manchester have reason to believe that Sen. Obama will “probably make it to one of the November 3rd events.” What makes us so confident? Those were his exact words about a half hour ago, at an event in Londonderry, in response to a verbal invitation by Nashua, NH Step It Up organizer Zo Tobi. In fact, Senator Obama already knew about Step It Up and our efforts to engage leaders in events across the nation.
So, of course this means that we need to flood his mailbox with more invitations (apparently, 124 have not been convincing enough!). Let’s ensure that he follows up his new energy platform with an official RSVP to a November 3rd action and that he stands strong in his commitment to bold national leadership on climate change.
Obama touched upon his own admiration for Abraham Lincoln in his address today, so perhaps the action in Ottawa, Illinois, where Lincoln famously debated Stephen Douglas, is particularly inviting for the Senator. Whatever action he does end up coming to, however, he has no excuse ; we now have actions in almost every state (Wyoming, Nebraska and North Dakota…come on!)
Down in Miami Beach, communities of faith are uniting to organize a 12 hour day of action and service on November 3rd. Under the banner of FUSE: Faiths United for Sustainable Energy, people of all faiths are coming together to push for lasting change, both locally and nationally. Their action combines common sense business decisions with the moral imperative to reduce emissions, and revolutionize our energy mix. Check out their action description:
"For 12 hours, between 3 p.m. and 3 a.m. Faiths United for Sustainable Energy (FUSE - www.fusenow.org) will be going door to door, making contact with businesses, and speaking with pedestrians, in order to raise awareness about the issues connected with our society's dependence on fossil fuels. We invite everyone: individuals, clergy, elected officials, and families, to join us for the whole event, or just for a small portion. We will be going door to door on South Beach asking businesses to switch their incandescent light bulbs with CFL bulbs, which we will be carrying to be sold on the spot at cost. We will be providing them with information cards showing them the carbon emissions they will save, as well as the financial benefits, for every CFL they use. These cards (printed on recycled paper), will also outline the simple actions they can take to reduce their carbon footprints, along with the phone numbers to call for a free energy audit appointment and to learn about a solar energy program offered in South Florida."
For more information on how people are channeling their faith into the movement, check out the FUSE website.
One of our organizers wrote us an e-mail describing the heat-induced hospitalizations that occurred at the Chicago Marathon yesterday. At 88 degrees and 86% humidity the race was called off at 11:30 am – about three hours in. In the meantime, 302 runners were hospitalized and one was pronounced dead.
Can we blame these deaths and injuries on the changing climate? Not entirely. But we can have strong feelings about the impact of global warming on the changing character of a region. Here’s a comment posted in response to a Chicago Tribune article:
“So very sad to hear about the death of that runner, I am a New Orleans native, "transplanted" here after Katrina devastated our home. One reason I came to love Chicagoland are the actual change of seasons. Today’s heat & humidity (October in Chicago?) remind me of the same we have back home MOST of the year! Does anyone really doubt this global warming phenomenon? I don't see how they could.”
The IPCC stresses the difference between a change in whether and climactic change, but they do note that the “frequency and intensity” of extreme weather will increase as the climate changes. New Orleans weather in Chicago is a perfect example of this shift. While carbon emissions were not solely responsible for the death and hospitalizations in Chicago, they do threaten our notions of geographic identity and our ability to host annual events safely. Will November 3rd be a blizzard? Will we have a November heat wave? Which climate leaders will Step It Up? Stay tuned to find out. And in the meantime, invite your leaders! Call them up. Let them know that extreme weather like this concerns you. Let them know that you care about such extreme weather, and let them know how you think they can Step It Up!
Our team just whipped together this little video--but the idea is that it's a constantly evolving work, waiting for everyone to add their voice to the video. So check out the video, and then post your response--and think about ways to incorporate The Green Finger in your Step It Up Action.
If left unchecked, catastrophic climate change will threaten the things, people, and places we love most. With the Green Finger video, we're asking the question: What Are You Voting to Protect? Why are you committed to stopping global warming? What do you really care about in this world?
We'd love to see what you come up with, so go to our page on YouTube and post your response--it won't take more than a couple minutes. We need people to keep posting responses all the way up to Election Day 2008--even though our National Day of Climate Action will have come and gone by then, other initiatives will continue. One particularly exciting venture is the 1 Sky Campaign, which aims to bring the climate movement together around a central vision and set of priorities.
Just minutes ago, with your help, we blew by 2000 invitations. You all are incredible, turning our map into a rich, beautiful shade of green. These invitations are pouring into our leaders offices from all over the country—and our politicians are beginning to sense that something is brewing. Our phones at our headquarters are ringing off the hook as Congress is getting curious about exactly what is going on November 3rd. But we’ve still only got just 5 confirmations from politicians who are definitely attending November 3rd events, so we’ve got to keep the pressure on. Let’s keep those invitations flowing—be it an e-mail, a phone call, a fax, or handwritten letters. It takes less time to invite your leaders than it does to brush your teeth, so Find an Action and Invite the Leaders!
Check out this great article from Mark Hertsgaard at The Nation--hot off the presses!
The Making of a Climate Movement
by Mark Hertsgaard
Public awareness of the climate crisis has grown enormously in the United States over the past two years, but the government's response lags far behind. Now, however, Washington's sluggish pace is calling forth a surge of activism aimed at persuading the next President and Congress to be far bolder--to advocate and deliver solutions as big as the problem.
"The general attitude in the country now and certainly in Congress is, 'Let's take some steps, make some progress and applaud ourselves.' That is not sufficient." So says Betsy Taylor, chair of 1 Sky, a new initiative that hopes to unite the broad array of groups focusing on climate change into a coherent national movement. "What has happened to the climate in the last twelve months has changed the game," Taylor argues, citing recent studies projecting that the Arctic will be free of summer ice by 2030. "That means we are thirty years ahead of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's worst- case scenario for Arctic melting. But on Capitol Hill, none of the proposals getting serious attention propose anything close to what science says we need--deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and 80 percent cuts by 2050. Our side really needs to up the ante."
Among 1 Sky's backers is Bill McKibben, who in 1989 published the first important book on global warming, The End of Nature. In January McKibben founded Step It Up, following a march across Vermont he organized with some of his students at Middlebury College. "Our slogan was, Screw in the new light bulb but then screw in the new federal policy," he recalls. At the march's closing rally, in front of 1,000 cheering demonstrators, all four candidates for national office from Vermont signed a pledge to support 80 percent cuts by 2050.
Step It Up was founded to replicate that success on a national scale, and in April the group catalyzed 1,400 demonstrations in all fifty states. "A lot of students participated, but most of the actions were done by people with full-time jobs who told us, 'I want to do something besides writing a check,'" says May Boeve, a 2007 Middlebury graduate and the national coordinator of Step It Up. "Contrary to popular belief, asking people to do more actually resulted in a bigger response."
Step It Up plans another set of demonstrations November 3, exactly a year before the 2008 election. This time, the goal is to get elected representatives to respond to 1 Sky's three demands: (1) cut emissions 30 percent by 2020 (and 80 percent by 2050); (2) ban new coal-fired power plants (as part of a larger shift of federal subsidies from fossil fuels to clean energy); and (3) create 5 million "green-collar" jobs.
The same weekend, the Energy Action Coalition is promising to bring thousands of student activists to Washington. With member groups on 200 campuses, the coalition is the national hub of student organizing on climate change. After a weekend conference at the University of Maryland, the coalition hopes to unleash 5,000 students on Capitol Hill the following Monday to lobby for the 1 Sky demands.
1 Sky, which debuted at the Clinton Global Initiative in September, is not so much a new group as a point of convergence for the larger movement, says Taylor. The impetus came from state and local environmental groups and religious leaders frustrated by what was (not) happening in Washington. 1 Sky is reaching out not only to environmental groups but to labor, community development, Latino, African-American and green business organizations, and is having "positive conversations" with Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection. "1 Sky will have a lean campaign staff and primarily invest resources in existing groups," says Taylor. "And we will move into the electoral arena in a big way," with field operations in twelve key states and earned and paid media, i.e., news stories and ads.
The 5 million green-collar jobs 1 Sky is demanding are crucial to appealing beyond the traditional environmental constituency, says Van Jones, a veteran African-American activist and 1 Sky supporter whose new group, Green for All, "aims to spread the benefits of the green energy revolution to all parts of society. Now the implicit assumption is that green means white. When Vanity Fair does its green issues, you don't see many people who look like me in there. Green for All is demanding a $1 billion commitment from the government to lift 250,000 people out of poverty and into the new economy by training them for green-collar jobs."
The emerging climate movement's first skirmish will come in the next months, as Congress considers bills on energy and climate. McKibben says it would be better to pass nothing than to approve a weak bill that gives people the impression the problem has been solved: "Since Bush is going to veto it anyway, there is no reason to make [a climate bill] less ambitious than what science requires. Climate change isn't like other issues. It doesn't do any good to split the difference to reach a deal everyone can live with. Climate change is about the laws of physics and chemistry, and they don't give."
What gets accomplished in 2008, says Taylor, will frame the choices made in 2009 and beyond: "We want to raise the bar of what's possible for the next President and Congress. We want bold leadership commensurate with the scale of the problem." McKibben argues that "with every passing week it is more clear that climate change is the great issue of our time, just as civil rights was in the 1960s." Passing a bill that matches what science says and then securing a similar agreement at the international level "would be two of the hardest policy achievements we have ever had to do," he adds. "And I'm not sure we're going to succeed. But if we are to succeed, I am sure we're going to need a movement just as strong as the civil rights movement was. And that's what we're trying to build."
Some are planning to come: Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Paul Hodes (D-N.H.), and Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) from the U.S. House of Representatives; and from the Senate, Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). They have agreed to speak in Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York. (Rep. Weiner was a big hit at last spring's Sea of People rally in lower Manhattan.) Many more are checking their schedules and getting right back to us, including at least a couple of the presidential front-runners. It will be very useful to know who wants to take this issue on, to hear them speak and see if they plan on being politicians or are willing to be leaders instead.
Click here to continue reading this piece on Grist.
As Thomas Homer-Dixon writes in todays New York Times, science is telling us that our window to do something serious about global warming is closing quickly. Now, more than ever, this country and world needs a movement, strong and united, to take on the challenge of building a clean energy future. He writes:
In response to the new dangers of climate change, we need a similar
mobilization — of mothers, of students and of everyone with a stake in
the future — now.
Take a moment to forward this article to friends, family, and colleagues and ask them to join you in taking action on November 3rd:
A Swiftly Melting Planet
By Thomas Homer-Dixon
THE Arctic ice cap melted this summer at a shocking pace, disappearing at a far higher rate than predicted by even the most pessimistic experts in global warming. But we shouldn’t be shocked, because scientists have long known that major features of earth’s interlinked climate system of air and water can change abruptly.
A big reason such change happens is feedback — not the feedback that you’d like to give your boss, but the feedback that creates a vicious circle. This type of feedback in our global climate could determine humankind’s future prosperity and even survival.
The vast expanse of ice floating on the surface of the Arctic Ocean always recedes in the summer, reaching its lowest point sometime in September. Every winter it expands again, as the long Arctic night descends and temperatures plummet. Each summer over the past six years, global warming has trimmed this ice’s total area a little more, and each winter the ice’s recovery has been a little less robust. These trends alarmed climate scientists, but most thought that sea ice wouldn’t disappear completely in the Arctic summer before 2040 at the earliest.
But this past summer sent scientists scrambling to redo their estimates. Week by week, the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., reported the trend: from 2.23 million square miles of ice remaining on Aug. 8 to 1.6 million square miles on Sept. 16, an astonishing drop from the previous low of 2.05 million square miles, reached in 2005.
The loss of Arctic sea ice won’t be the last abrupt change in earth’s climate, because of feedbacks. One of the climate’s most important destabilizing feedbacks involves Arctic ice. It works like this: our release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases around the planet causes some initial warming that melts some ice. Melting ice leaves behind open ocean water that has a much lower reflectivity (or albedo) than that of ice. Open ocean water absorbs about 80 percent more solar radiation than sea ice does. And so as the sun warms the ocean, even more ice melts, in a vicious circle. This ice-albedo feedback is one of the main reasons warming is happening far faster in the high north, where there are vast stretches of sea ice, than anywhere else on Earth.
There are other destabilizing feedbacks in the carbon cycle that involve the oceans. Each year, the oceans absorb about half the carbon dioxide that humans emit into the atmosphere. But as oceans warm, they will absorb less carbon dioxide, partly because the gas dissolves less readily in warmer water, and partly because warming will reduce the mixing between deep and surface waters that provides nutrients to plankton that absorb carbon dioxide. And when oceans take up less carbon dioxide, warming worsens.
Scientists have done a good job incorporating some feedbacks into their climate models, especially those, like the ice-albedo feedback, that operate directly on the temperature of air or water. But they haven’t incorporated as well feedbacks that operate on the atmosphere’s concentrations of greenhouse gases or that affect the cycle of carbon among air, land, oceans and organisms. Yet these may be the most important feedbacks of all.
Global warming is melting large areas of permafrost in Alaska, Canada and Siberia. As it melts, the organic matter in the permafrost starts to rot, releasing carbon dioxide and methane (molecule for molecule, methane traps far more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide).
Warming is also affecting wetlands and forests around the world, helping to desiccate immense peat bogs in Indonesia, contributing to more frequent drought in the Amazon basin, and propelling a widening beetle infestation that’s killing enormous tracts of pine forest in Alaska and British Columbia. (This infestation is on the brink of crossing the Canadian Rockies into the boreal forest that extends east to Newfoundland.) Dried peat and dead and dying forests are vulnerable to wildfires that would emit huge quantities of carbon into the atmosphere.
This summer’s loss of Arctic sea ice indicates that at least one major destabilizing feedback is gaining force quickly. Scientists have also recently learned that the Southern Ocean, which encircles Antarctica, appears to be absorbing less carbon, while Greenland’s ice sheet is melting at an accelerating rate.
When warming becomes its own cause, we might not be able to stop extremely harmful climate change no matter how much we cut our greenhouse gas emissions. We need a far more aggressive global response to climate change. In the 1960s, mothers learned that the milk they were feeding their children was laced with radioactive material from atmospheric tests of nuclear weapons and that this contamination could increase the risk of childhood leukemia. Soon women organized themselves in the tens of thousands to demand that nuclear powers ban atmospheric testing. Their campaign largely succeeded.
In response to the new dangers of climate change, we need a similar mobilization — of mothers, of students and of everyone with a stake in the future — now.
Thomas Homer-Dixon, a professor of peace and conflict studies at the University of Toronto, is the author of “The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity and the Renewal of Civilization.”
Our friends down in New York City have their creative juices flowing again. Echoing some of what they accomplished back in April, the NYC organizers have more than just a rally being planned for the Big Apple. Art, action, history, and political leaders to boot. Here's what organizer John Hunka has to share about their plans...
The marble arch dominating Washington Square is a powerful symbol of the kind of dynamic leadership we hope to inspire through our rally against global warming. In fact, Washington Square Park itself shows what ordinary people can accomplish through a grassroots movement like Step It Up.
When Robert Moses became the Parks Commissioner in 1934, he embarked on a crusade to fully redesign the park. Local activists began an opposing fight that lasted three decades. In 1952, Moses finalized plans to extend Fifth Avenue through the park. He intended eventually to push it through the neighborhood south of the park, as part of an “urban renewal” project. Area residents, including Eleanor Roosevelt, opposed the plans. The urbanist Jane Jacobs became an activist and is credited with stopping the Moses plan and closing Washington Square Park to all auto traffic.
The activists at our rally against global warming will display colorful flags, banners, signs and costumes. An unusual element of our event will be “collective actions for restorative ecology” led by environmental educator Christopher Lee Kennedy. The objective of Chris’s installations will be to engage bystanders and Step It Up attendees to actually aid in restoring the urban ecosystem of NYC in real-time through collective acts. Chris calls one of his installations a “Terr(alter).” He describes it as a chance for participants “to plant a seed or create an urban terrarium with a message about how to live more simply or about current climate change legislation. The installation will re-imagine the idea of an alter, usually situated within a religious context to be more inclusive of collective healing and restorative actions for the Earth.”
Things are starting to get interesting around here. The weeks of hard work by thousands of people around the country are already starting to pay off in a major way - and we've still got a month to go until our national day of action on November 3rd!
We recently got the word that Rep. Paul Hodes is looking to attend an event in New Hampshire! We're not sure exactly which one yet, but we'll take his word that he'll be somewhere in the Granite State on November 3rd talking with his constituents about how he plans to be a leader on climate change. Maybe local organizers can convince Rep. Hodes to sing one of our Climate Tunes, as well. For those who didn't know already, the Rep. is a rocking musician!
Step It Up 2 is turning out to be better than any game show on television - we really don't know what exactly will happen on November 3rd, but with your help we'll turn out as many members of Congress and presidential candidates to Step It Up events as possible. Keep flooding Washington with invitations - our strategy is working!
We just got an e-mail from Roxie Pauline down in Scranton, PA saying that she personally invited Congressman Paul Kanjorski to her November 3rd event! She happened to be in DC for a peace demonstration, and decided to make an appointment with her congressman (after all, he is down there working for his constituents). Rep. Kanjorsky gladly entertained her questions and comments, which included an invitation to her recently registered November 3rd action in Scranton, PA. Way to go Roxie!
Congressman Kanjorski's has his priorities straight. Not only did he immediately honor the request of his constituents in Scranton, Kanjorsky runs on a platform of "working to clean up the scars of PA's coal mining legacy," and fostering "stable, family-sustaining jobs that create strong communities." Sounds like the perfect transition into a green economy to me. Thanks for RSVPing, congressman!
Now we know that traveling to Washington is a lot to ask, and we applaud Roxie for her efforts, but the most cost/carbon affective way to make sure your elected officials respond to your invitations is to pick up a phone and call them directly. Whether you're the one organizing the action or not, click here to invite the leaders, enter your zip, and then shoot your congressman or congresswoman a quick phone call. Ask to speak to the scheduler, tell them you're doing something exciting, and see what happens. After all, talking to a real person is more fun anyway. Let's keep those invites coming, and let's get more RSVPs!
Just when you thought Vermont might be the only state that would have politicians attending a Step It Up event on Nov. 3 we've just received a new confirmation in New York: Rep. Anthony Weiner will be joining the crew in Washington Square to share his plan on how to deal with global warming. Nice work y'all. It just takes a little persistence, and our politicians will remember that, when asked, they have to come home and talk with us...their constituents. Congratulations New York, and congratulations Congressman for Stepping It Up! This will actually be Rep. Weiner's second time addressing concerned citizens in NYC. The picture above was taken at the epic April 14th event, Sea of People, where Rep Weiner was one of 40 congressmen who answered the call and joined actions across the country in support of "Cutting Carbon 80% by 2050."
But how about the rest of the country? Let's keep that invite counter climbing. Make sure everyone you know has sent invitations to politicians to come to events on November 3. With your help, we can make this a truly historic event!
Read a portion from the artist's statement below to learn about his work:
"I began painting this series of portraits --- finding great Americans
who spoke the truth and combining their images with their words ---
nearly three years ago as a way of to channel my anger and grief. In
the process my respect and love for these people and their courage
helped to transform that anger into hope and pride and allowed me to
draw strength from this community of truth tellers, finding in them the
courage, honesty, tolerance, generosity, wisdom and compassion that
have made our country strong. One lesson that can be learned from all
of these Americans is that the greatness of our country frequently
depends not on the letter of the law, but the insistence of a single
person that we adhere to the spirit of the law."
To Rob, these incredible people, "form the well from which we must draw our future". Who do you draw inspiration from? How will they help form the vision of a brighter future? Sign up an action to honor them on November 3rd, and tell us why we need leaders like them on global warming. No place in your town named after one of these great folks? No problem! Unofficially name your action site after them for the day.
It's October 3rd everybody, which means there is one month to go until Step It Up's big national day of action . . . And things are looking amazing!
Thanks to the hard work of hundreds of organizers all across the country, actions are being planned in almost all 50 states (come on North Dakota, we're counting on you). And, especially exciting, is that confirmations are starting to come in from politicians around the country! Our strategy is working - thanks to your leadership, we're able to challenge our politicians to show some leadership on global warming themselves.
Over the next 32 days we'll be recording on our blog and in our Invite the Leaders tool which members of Congress and presidential candidates have agreed to attend Step It Up events. Your job - keep the invites flooding in! We want to make sure every politician gets invite after invite to attend a rally. Mike Huckabee doesn't want to go to an action in Alaska? No problem - let's send him an invite from Iowa. Hillary Clinton can't make an event in Atlanta? Maybe Rep. John Lewis can.
With a month still to go, there is plenty of time to organize an action in your community and get your leaders to attend. Jump into the movement today and join us in making history on November 3rd.
On Sept 27th-28th, Bush called a meeting of the worldâ€™s biggest polluters to
talk about voluntary caps on carbon emissions. Climate groups were on hand to
proclaim their own message: “George Bush does not speak for us. We want
clean energy now!”
Check out this video of climate activists confronting Bush as he convened this sham climate conference...and then let's get back to inviting all the leaders to November 3rd events and spreading the word.
If you watched the movie, you may notice that some of the activists were arrested. This tactic is not one that we advocate for Step It Up actions. Our actions on November 3rd will be respectful and moving. We're not out to grill our leaders, or get police involved, we just want our priorities addressed in the context of a joyful community celebration.
Today we hear from Frank and Anne Watson who are
organizing an action in their small town of Cheraw, South Carolina.
For their action, they are commemorating early carbon reduction hero,
"Miss Martha" from Cheraw. Tell us who your local environmental hero
is, and honor them with an action this November 3rd!
Cheraw is a small town (10,000) located on the SC/NC border just South of Rockingham, NC and about 50 miles South of Pinehurst, NC. We live in a cottage that is located in a 4-5 acre nature preserve located within the city limits of Cheraw. The women that started the preserve and owned the house, "Miss Martha", was the "tree and garden lady" of Cheraw who made Cheraw a city of trees and was also the first "recycler" in town. On November 3rd, we will celebrate Miss Martha (Martha Duvall of Cherew) as an early leader (1960's) in lowering the carbon foot print! We will invite young and old friends to the nature preserve she developed and discuss the question- "What would Miss Martha do about the carbon situation?" Ideas have started to flow and we e-mailed some folks in Cheraw to see if they were interested in gathering for an afternoon. Since the e-mail we have started conversations with several folks about getting a group together to discuss local actions that we might take.
Independent network LinkTV is currently airing a
special on climate change and the role of independent media in fighting the energy industry's propaganda machine. Check out this excerpt where journalist and author Mark Hertsgaard and Van Jones of the Ella Baker Center talk about green jobs, 1Sky, and give a special shout-out to Step It Up!
This past weekend, Step It Up joined a coalition of organizations lead by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network to protest Bush's "Meeting of the Big Polluters" in Washington, D.C. Hundreds of people gathered in a park near where the meeting was taking place to listen to speakers, talk with the media, and hold sign after sign that said "Bush: Wrong Way on Warming." Along with a non-violent direct action the day before, the event helped raise awareness that Bush's meeting was nothing but a farce - as Van Jones, director of the new Green For All campaign, said, "No, Bush does not get a cookie for admitting global warming is real."
But among the criticism was a bold vision for change and talk about the growing movement for real action on global warming in this country. You're taking part in that movement by joining Step It Up on November 3rd, working with local and regional climate groups in your area, or, if your a student, registering for Power Shift 07, a major youth conference in D.C. from November 2-5.
Both Power Shift and Step It Up are uniting around a single vision for a new path on global warming - 1Sky - a policy platform that represents not only a reaction to the misdirection of the past but a bold new direction towards a clean energy economy that creates millions of new jobs and helps create green pathways out of poverty.
You can learn more about 1Sky right here on our website. We'll be writing more about this ambitious new call for action and how to incorporate it into your action on November 3rd. We want every politician in the country to be exposed to this platform, and then ask them what their plan is to be a climate leader. It's not our place to make comparisons or give a thumbs up or thumbs down - but by stimulating debate about the different ways forward, we hope to emerge with a genuine plan for change from each of our politicians.
The things we'll do to help spread the word about Step It Up and November 3rd . . .
We've been doing our best here at Step It Up headquarters to take advantage of our unique home-base location here in Manchester, NH. As you know, New Hampshire is pulsing with primary pizazz this time of year, with presidential candidates sweeping through the state every few days. When we're not behind our computers helping organizers with actions, bringing on partner organizations, or spreading the word - - well, we're dressing up in snowman suits, I guess, and doing whatever else it takes to make November 3rd a big success!
Check out the latest adventures, with a new video featuring Frosty and George Washington spreading the word at the recent Democratic Debates:
Today, our spotlight focuses in on Bill Goldschein and the Cloisters Community Climate Change Coalition, an ad hoc association with an awe-inspiring ability of alliteration, coming together to organize a Step It Up rally in their community. Read on to hear about the great action they are planning in New York, and for some Revolutionary War history lessons:
Our hope is to gather environmentally aware members of the Cloisters Community (Inwood, Fort Washington, Fort Tryon Park and the Heights) and the greater New York Area in support of the Step It Up Initiative on November 3. The Battle of Fort Washington was fought on November 16, 1776, between 2,900 American Colonial Soldiers and 8,000 Hessian mercenaries. Overwhelmed, the American troops were forced to retreat. The British renamed the fort for William Tryon, the last British governor of colonial New York. The name stuck. The British didn't. Washington and his men lost the battle but won the War. Significantly, the battle included Margaret Corbin, the first American woman to fight and be wounded in the Revolutionary War.
It is impossible to imagine a more perfect or appropriate place for a Step It Up Rally. It serves to demonstrate great leadership and the need to struggle against overwhelming odds and early defeats. Fort Washington/Fort Tryon Park towers above the Hudson River and offers magnificent views of the City, the Palisades and the George Washington Bridge. The Park is one of New York’s great undiscovered treasures. The gardens and terraces are an experience in themselves and should not be missed. We hope to raise awareness in our diverse community of the impact of Global Warming and Climate Change and join other communities in demonstrating our support for Step It Up. We are a small ad hoc committee of concerned citizens and NEED HELP. We plan to begin with a publicity campaign and organizing a series of community meetings culminating in a Rally in the Park on November 3rd. You can contact us by going to our website, www.cloisterscommunity.org.
Thanks Bill and the members of CCCCC for all the great work you're doing to bring together the diverse members of your community to send a strong message to our leaders on November 3rd.
Almost every day in our countdown to November 3rd there is another reminder of why this is such a crucial time to take action on global warming. The latest news comes out of Illinois, where Gov. Rod Blagojevich is giving a green light to at least five new coal fired power plants. Lincoln would not be happy. Blagojevich's announcement comes in the midst of a series of energy saving measures, including a proposal to rid the state of the incandescent light bulb, but none of those steps will matter in the long run if these coal fired power plants are built.
Even if every household in the US changed a 60-watt incandescent light bulb to a compact fluorescent . . . the carbon emissions from just two medium sized coal-fired power plants each year would negate this effort.
Take a second to write the Governor and let him know how you feel - or better yet, get cracking on an action for November 3rd, wherever you are, you can help Illinois and the whole country say no to new coal.
Lucky for us and Illinois, people across the state are busy planning Step It Up 2 actions for this November 3rd and have already invited almost all of their members of Congress (where's the love for Rep. Shimkus people?) In Chicago, you can join a Lead through Education and Action rally at a local high school. Or "Paint Your World Green" at an art exhibit to celebrate the public library in Elgin. Want something a little more historical? Try the rally in Geneva, where citizens will gather on the historic courthouse lawn where JFK once spoke, or the action at Washington Square in Ottawa where Stephen Douglas debated Abraham Lincoln.
Illinois is showing exactly the spirit we're hoping to see on November 3rd. Keep up the great work, Land of Lincoln!
Posted by Step it Up Organizing Team on September 29th, 2007
Our November 3rd national day of action is fast approaching - only 36 days left. But as Bill writes in a column in today's Washington Post, we are right on pace with the urgency of this issue. We simply must take action now. There is plenty of time to still organize an action in your community and invite your politicians to join you there on November 3rd. Don't wait, sign up today. The race is on.
The Race Against Warming
by Bill McKibben
It's the oldest and most cliched of metaphors, but when it comes to global
warming, it's the only one that really works: We're in a desperate race.
Politics is chasing reality, and the gap between them isn't closing nearly fast
Consider the news from the real world, the one where change is measured with
satellites and thermometers, not focus groups: Arctic ice is melting on an
unbelievable scale -- an area the size of Britain
disappeared each week in late summer as the record for minimum ice cover, set
in 2005, was shattered by more than 400,000 square miles, meaning about a 27
percent loss. Forget the Petraeus report -- what historians will note about
September 2007 is that the Northwest Passage was free of ice for the first time
since humans started keeping track. Shaken scientists see every prediction about
the future surpassed by events. As Martin Parry, co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, told
reporters this month, "We are all used to talking about these impacts
coming in the lifetimes of our children and grandchildren. Now we know that
The panel's chair, Rajendra Pachauri, offered the planet an absolute
deadline: We need to be producing less carbon dioxide -- which is to say
burning less coal, gas and oil -- by 2015 at the latest, and after that we
would need "very sharp reductions" or else there is no hope of
avoiding an eventual temperature increase of 2 degrees Celsius and the
accompanying prospect of catastrophe.
Such news has finally begun to penetrate the bubble of denial that has
surrounded Washington for two decades. President
Bush, after ignoring the issue for six years, has convened a conference of
the major carbon-emitting nations to begin considering . . . something. Bush
said in a speech
yesterday that "we acknowledge there is a problem," but few
expect the process to amount to much; cynics see it as a way to derail ongoing U.N.-sponsored
talks for a firm agreement on reducing emissions.
Hill, the situation is a little more interesting. The Democratic majority
is finally beginning to move legislation that would commit the United States to
long-term reductions in carbon dioxide emissions -- the first law Congress
might actually pass in the years since global warming became an issue. But
here, too, the legislative process is backing away from what science demands --
a strong bill put forward by Sens. Barbara
Boxer (D-Calif.) and Bernie
Sanders (I-Vt.) is in danger of being supplanted by half-measures proposed
by Sen. Joe
The problem lies in how one defines reality. Physics and chemistry demand
swift and deep cuts in carbon emissions; political realism says to move slowly.
In that fight, there's really only one choice. The tax code can be amended, but
the laws of nature can't.
The only real hope is for decisive legislation from Congress; activists are
calling for a law that commits the United States to early cuts, closes all
coal-fired power plants and auctions the right to pollute so that we can raise
the revenue to fund the transformation of our energy system. President Bush
won't sign such a law, so it doesn't have to pass this fall; we're working to
set the stage for 2009, when a new leader takes over.
It will take a movement to force that kind of change -- a movement as
urgent, and one to which people are as morally committed and willing to
sacrifice, as the civil rights movement was a generation ago. Last spring, I
worked with six college students to put together StepItUp07.org. In the course of 12 weeks,
with almost no money, we helped put together 1,400 rallies in all 50 states
This fall we're trying again. People across the nation are holding
demonstrations in places that honor great Americans -- the top of Mount
Roosevelt's birthplace; the center named for civil rights pioneer Ella
Baker in Oakland,
Local organizers are inviting not just the presidential contenders but also
every member of the House, every senator -- and every candidate for their jobs.
What we need to know, and soon, is: What does reality look like to you? Can
you close the gap between science and politics? Who will lead on the great issue
of our day?
After 20 years of inaction the race is finally underway. Global warming has
a huge head start; the sprint to catch up is the story of our time.
The writer, a scholar in residence at Middlebury College, is co-founder
ofStepItUp07.organd one of seven
co-authors of "Fight Global Warming Now."
So you know how a lot of Step It Up actions on November 3rd have a big theme of history and leadership? How we're asking people to rally at places of historical significance? Well, a new AP article suggests that American historical landmarks might be wiped out by the very thing we're rallying against: global warming and it's associated rising sea levels. It's seriously disturbing stuff--the map they produced shows large areas of Louisiana, California, and New York underwater. And it's all the more scary when you consider that this is based on a 1 meter sea level rise, a fairly conservative estimate that doesn't take into account the potential collapse of ice sheets in Greenland and West Antarctica. It's articles like this that reinforce the importance and necessity of swift action on global warming--the kind of action we can catalyze on November 3rd with all of your help!
Rising Seas Likely to Flood U.S. History
By SETH BORENSTEIN
AP Science Writer
Ultimately, rising seas will likely swamp the first American settlement in Jamestown, Va., as well as the Florida launch pad that sent the first American into orbit, many climate scientists are predicting.
In about a century, some of the places that make America what it is may be slowly erased.
Global warming - through a combination of melting glaciers, disappearing ice sheets and warmer waters expanding - is expected to cause oceans to rise by one meter, or about 39 inches. It will happen regardless of any future actions to curb greenhouse gases, several leading scientists say. And it will reshape the nation.
Posted by The Step It Up Organizing Team on September 28th, 2007
We've topped 1,000 invitations sent to politicians and candidates for federal office. Many thanks to everyone that's working to put the pressure on our elected officials. And now we have a way to watch that number of invitations rise. Let's keep it going!
It's easy...so long as there is an action in your area (if there isn't click here to start an action), you can invite your federal delegation and all the presidential candidates to events in your area by using the invite tools on our website:
Rocky Anderson, mayor of Salt Lake City, is issuing a challenge to
every mayor in America: "Who will step it up and put on the biggest and
grandest event in the country?" Rocky helped put together one of the
biggest Step It Up rallies back in April featuring Los Lobos and now he's back in action to
organize a huge rally this November 3rd. Which city or town is going
to meet his challenge?
Watch the video and then send it to your mayor to let them know the heat is on to see who can step highest on November 3rd! Many thanks to our friends from Y.E.R.T. (Your Environmental Road Trip) for meeting with Rocky to get the challenge on tape.
In Brooklyn, creative organizers have decided to combine their dreams of a clean energy future with their passion for the stage. They’re bringing on a new economy, while bringing back burlesque! The event will combine satire, humor, performance art, education, and of course, direct climate action. Check out what they have to say about the event:
“On November 3rd 2007, as communities across the nation gather to host climate change awareness events exactly one year before the next presidential election, the Brooklyn-based burlesque dance trio Suspicious Package invites guests to a gritty bar on the Williamsburg waterfront to revel in the depravity, carnality and shocking awe of the changing climate in our decadent lifetime.
The doors will open at 9:00 p.m. to a world in which the full space of the bar is an immersive experience of impending environmental doom. Installations in the venue will be as important as the show itself, weaving together environmentally shocking art - on and offstage.”
This event is a testament to the breadth and depth of November 3rd actions being planned – people with a wide range of interests are throwing every bit of creativity they’ve got into this uniquely historic day. Way to Step It Up Brooklyn!
Interested in performing? Check out their event description for more details.
The Green For All campaign, focused on bringing “green collar” jobs to urban areas, launched yesterday at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, NY. The group, created by Van Jones, co-Founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, seeks to capitalize on the exploding green economy while ensuring that the coming green economic wave lifts all boats.
“It’s time the African American community had a part in the discussion on climate change,” said Jones. “We’re not going to solve global warming just with expensive consumer choices like buying hybrid cars and shopping for organic food. People need to realize that you don’t have to be white or wealthy to benefit from going green.”
The Green For All campaign is a bold effort to harness the growing power of the green economic revolution to fight the war on poverty. By securing job training for 250,000 workers from urban communities for the emerging green job market, the program will provide new avenues of opportunity for those who have traditionally been left behind by the nation's economic growth. It will also give the crusade against global warming a broader social base, extending the green revolution to the neglected streets of cities like Oakland, Detroit, Baltimore and New Orleans.
You can also read more about the launch of Green For All on It's Getting Hot In Here -- the youth climate movement blog.
We couldn't be happier to see the Green For All campaign take off. And real momentum is building around the 1 Sky priorities...get ready for some exciting times in the weeks and months ahead.
It's no midnight ride on horseback, but what better way to step up this movement than a revolutionary bike ride retracing the famous route of Paul Revere. Among the several actions taking place in the Boston area on November 3, Kalman Gacs is organizing a bike ride from Boston to Lexington. Invoking the revolutionary spirit, this ride is a great example of how folks are connecting their November 3 Step It Up efforts to models of historic leadership while calling for climate leaders today.
Actually, their final stop of the day won't be until Concord, MA, where the riders will be joining up with the folks from the Global Warming Education Network (GWEN) for a "revolutionary energy rally." Let's be sure some Massachusetts politicians join in this revolutionary action and step up as climate leaders -- click here to invite federal politicians in MA. And then, just like every other action around the country, let's invite all the presidential candidates so they'll know America demands that they attend an event on November 3.
If you're thinking about starting up an action yourself but you're not sure about ways to invoke these sorts of historical connections don't worry. Connecting Step It Up actions to historic leadership is just a starting point for ways to be involved on November 3. Check out the Organizer Headquarters of the website for more tips and suggestions for how to organize effective, fun, and powerful Step It Up actions.
November 3 is shaping up to be a historic day (in more ways than one). Let's keep the momentum building. Be sure to spread the word and ask everyone you know to help with organizing and inviting the leaders to events. Thanks all.
"Backs against the wall" is not a scientific measurement, but it's right where we are on global warming.
It's the vernacular translation for when the National Snow and Ice Data Center reports that this year the summer Arctic sea ice shrunk to the smallest area ever recorded, about 460,000 square miles less than the previous low point recorded in September 2005. It's what it means when the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change tells reporters, as he did last week, "Wheat production in India is already in decline, for no other reason than climate change. Everyone thought we didn't have to worry about Indian agriculture for several decades. Now we know it's being affected now." He added that a similar shift seems to be underway in China.
And when your back is against the wall, that's when you've got to fight, and fight like you mean it. That's why we're launching Step It Up 2. On Nov. 3, people all across the country are holding rallies to demand action on global warming. Find out if there's one scheduled for your vicinity; if there isn't, then sign up to start one. We can help make it easy -- you're not organizing a March on Washington, just a gathering of your neighbors.
Click here to continue reading this piece in Grist.
Today on the blog we are joined by our new friends, the filmmakers of "Ghosts of Appalachia". Ghosts of Appalachia is a film in progress that bears witness to the effects of mountaintop removal mining on the families and communities of Appalachia. Watch the trailer and read the description below, then add your voice to the national call for No New Coal. Help stop the need for this destructive mining practice, by joining the movement on November 3rd.
"Ghosts of Appalachia" is a feature-length documentary in production about the Appalachian community and its fight against mountaintop removal mining. Through the eyes of one family facing pending mining in the mountains surrounding their home, we learn about the "chain of power," where energy comes from, where it goes, and what the effects of such a drastic rate of energy consumption can be on the people, streams, and mountains of Appalachia. To be in action or to contact the filmmakers, please visit www.ghostsofappalachia.org and their contact page athttp://ghostsofappalachia.org/index.php?option=com_contact&Itemid=3.
Our November 3rd national day of action is shaping up to be an incredibly powerful event. When we came up with our theme for this day of action, "leadership," it was our hope that we would hear stories of individual and community leadership from around the country. And that is exactly what's happening. While much of the focus of November 3rd is on getting leadership out of Washington (because that's where we desperately need action), it will also be a celebration of local leadership as well.
There are many different ways people are taking action in their own communities - from churches improving their efficiency to schools lowers their emissions to individuals cutting their carbon footprint. You can connect with a number of great local campaigns our friends and allies section. I want to take the time to highlight one campaign in particular in this post.
I had the privilege of listening and participating in a call this evening with people all across the country who are taking part in Sierra Club's Cool Cities campaign. These are the people who are working day after day to implement the changes we are fighting for - literally rewiring their cities to become more efficient, pushing for the creation of new jobs in the clean energy economy, and through their work, strengthening their communities. Thank you to everyone who is taking part in this campaign - and thank you for stepping it up on November 3rd. We want Step It Up to be a celebration of your work and a challenge to members of Congress and presidential candidates to follow your example.
If you haven't had a chance to take a look at the Cool Cities website, visit it now. There you'll find information about the hundreds of Mayors who have signed on to U.S. Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement and learn how you can get involved in this dynamic campaign.
And, if you're already involved in Cool Cities, please organize a Step It Up event for November 3rd. There are few better opportunities to draw attention to the work you are doing and build momentum for the fight ahead. Let's continue to strengthen this grassroots movement that is building to take on the greatest challenge of our time. Together, united and loud, we can win.
For those of you with lots of time on your hands (ha!), or just interested in reading some important books, here's an interesting discussion between Paul Hawken, author of Blessed Unrest, Bill McKibben, and Jon Lebkowsky of worldchanging.org about some of their recent books:
Creating sustainable systems means transforming how we think about the world and its different economies -- of money, nature, agriculture, and more. Essentially it means rethinking our priorities. But how do we create these new frameworks, and translate them into community action?
These urgent questions are at the centers of two inspiring recent books: "Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming" (Viking, May 2007) by Paul Hawken, and "Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future" (Times Books, March 2007) by Bill McKibben. These authors have an obvious synergy, so I asked them to join me, along with Randy Jewart (of Austin Green Art), in a discussion to share with Worldchanging's readers.
This conversation took place in email over the first half of September, 2007. If you find it compelling, take action: buy both books in case lots, read them together, and organize groups for discussion and action.
Jon: In comparing your recent books, "Outside" Magazine, referred to you both as "two of sustainability's most visionary champions." Do you see an inherent connection with each other's work? Do you have any formal joint projects?
Bill: Over the years I've followed many of the intellectual paths that Paul has blazed – "Deep Economy," my most recent book, builds on the foundation of thinking that Paul erected years ago. His most recent, and perhaps most important, book, "Blessed Unrest," gives voice to the rising worldwide movement for a planet that's just and durable and worth living on.
My own activist work in recent years, on one issue (global warming) in one country (this one) is a tiny part of that huge movement he's helped to chronicle and build. He's been a great assist with our Step It Up project, and I think his database may prove absolutely essential if we're ever able to take this fight around the world, which is where it needs to go.
Click here to continue reading the interview on worldchanging.org.
Hey everyone! It's only Tuesday and we can already feel the big momentum building this week for Step It Up. Events are being planned all across the country with many more in the works. We're getting reports from California to Maine, Minnesota down to Texas. From an action honoring Sojourner Truth to a celebration in front of Mt. Rushmore, people are rallying in places that highlight the kind of leadership we need our politicians to take on global warming.
And just as exciting - we're hearing back from politicians that they are beginning to receive invite after invite to Step It Up events. Remember: the more invitations a politician receives, the more likely he or she will attend a Step It Up rally. So keep flooding their mail boxes and phone lines - and then email your friends, relatives, co-workers, and anyone else you can think of and encourage them to do the same. We want to send hundreds of invitations to every member of Congress and presidential candidate.
Last April, we shifted the debate in Washington and put a 80% by 2050 cut in carbon firmly in the spotlight. But as Bill McKibben says, a movement has to keep moving and calling for leadership is the logical next step. Now, we're letting politicians know that foot dragging and empty promises are no longer acceptable - it's time for climate leaders!
But to call for leadership, we have to show some ourselves. Step up today and follow the three steps to success: organize an event, invite your leaders, then show them our plan to stop global warming and ask to hear theirs.
We're on pace to make November 3rd a huge success - keep up the great work!
All summer, and now this fall (happy belated equinox!), we've heard countless stories and reports of local communities continuing and intensifying their efforts to fight global warming. In Indianapolis, IN, the April 14 Step It Up organizer, Ed Cohen, is leading the charge to take further action by surveying local candidates for office on their approach to climate change:
Their new website reads: " We, [the Indianapolis Climate Action Network], came into existence on April 14, 2007. Following that event, the big question was, "What do we do next?" It took about 6 weeks, but the decision was made to focus on learning where candidates for the upcoming local election stood on matters of sustainability, stewardship and climate change. With Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson having recently signed the U.S.Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, it seemed obvious to use that as a spring board for our our next effort."
Now, along with our friends in Indianapolis and everywhere, we're gearing up to put the pressure on our federal officials this November 3. Let's keep the numbers on the big list rising and invite all the leaders. Thanks all.
We have all the tools here on the website to assist you with phoning, emailing, and writing to politicians, but you can always do it in person as well. Check out our very own Kelly Blynn inviting presidential candidate John McCain:
Happen to see the lead article on the New York Times website today? Click here to check it out. The international community's efforts to seriously take on climate change are promising, but the Bush administration's response is, well, frustrating, to say the least. If you're in the D.C. area here's a chance speak out and call for real leadership:
September 28: Major Rally to Protest Bush's Disastrous Policies on Global Warming!!
In Downtown DC, Join Mobilized Americans Outside the President's Charade Climate Conference at the State Department
Noontime protest will include music, speakers, street theater and more
Here's the scoop: In a clearly manipulative move, George Bush is inviting top leaders from around the world to Washington, D.C. on Sept. 27th and 28th to officially convey his "deep concern" about global warming. His proposed fix: more useless "voluntary" measures and huge subsidies for "clean coal" and nuclear energy. The event is clearly meant to undermine real international efforts now underway to achieve mandatory greenhouse gas cuts under the Kyoto process.
Here's what you can do: Join other concerned Americans in protesting this cynical conference on September 28th from noon-1:00 p.m. We'll be holding a rally downtown next to the State Department, probably on Virginia Avenue between C and D Streets, NW (permit applied for). For now, simply save the date and register for the rally so we can keep you updated in the coming days.
Top ministers and heads of state from around the world will be attending Bush's conference as well as a great concentration of national and international media. We need to show up and loudly proclaim our own message: George Bush doesn't speak for us! We want real climate action now!
As we've been calling folks and reaching out to friends and allies, we've realized what we thought might be true: the commemorating a historical leader theme can be a bit challenging. At the same time, many local organizers out there are finding inspiring leaders and places in their communities for their rallies--- we'll continue to spotlight these in order to give other organizers out there ideas and inspiration as they brainstorm for their actions for November 3rd. Check out this bit of history from an exciting Step It Up action registered by Krys Cail in Ithaca, NY:
We will be holding our action in the Ithaca area, at Tutelo Park. In addition to having two of the oldest trees in the County, the park also commemorates a Native American village, Coreogonal, that was maintained on or near the spot by the Cayugas in the eighteenth century. In the Haudenosaune language, Coreogonal means "where we keep the pipe of peace," and it was here that the Haudenosaune (Iroquois) welcomed the Tutelo tribe to join them, after the Tutelo were driven from their lands further South by the European settlers. Haudenosaune people gather at Tutelo Park for ceremonies at least annually. This is an historical example of the leadership of a people (the Cayuga) in recognizing that we live under 1 sky with all peoples, and should live in peace. With the help of native peoples in the area, I would hope to have this event serve as an example of how we can care for our brothers and sisters who are in danger of displacement from the effects of climate change.
Thanks for Stepping it Up, Krys!
Keep the history lessons coming, we learn something new about the great leaders of our past every day. Just remember - don't worry if there isn't the perfect place in your community to honor your favorite historic leader. Just by registering a Step It Up action, your community is taking a leadership stance, and putting itself in the perfect position to ask your politicians, "Who's a Leader?" on November 3rd.
One of the many exciting Step It Up communities up in Massachusetts is
celebrating the life of Sojourner Truth, the prominent abolitionist, author,
and slave. Sojourner led a challenging life: she was forbidden to marry the one
she loved, forced instead to have 4 children with an older man, and then once
she was freed, could only keep one of her children. After leading a tough life
as a slave, Sojourner took up the call to preach about abolition – building
community, and challenging oppression. Traveling all over the Northeast, she
used her religious conviction as an avenue for change, appealing to moral
conscious in order to get results.
The citizens of Florence Mass are deriving courage from
Sojourner, whose bronze replica decorates their central green. Given
Sojourner’s devout Christian approach to human rights, it is very fitting that
the organizers (several of which are members of the clergy) chose her as their
"Drawing strength from
this former slave who became one of the leading speakers and preachers for
abolition, we will call our leaders – and ourselves – to face a task that is
even more difficult than the abolition of slavery: the protection of this
planet’s capacity to support life.”
Florence Mass organizers are building upon their rich
local (and national) history to create one meaningful day of action in the
heart of their town. Sojourner would be proud!
Speaking of proud . . . Check out our Big List and Map! We had over 100 invites today - nice job guys!
On September 4, 2007, our crew here at Step It Up headquarter joined more than 1,200 people across the country and around the world who fasted as part of an effort to pressure Congress to take action on climate change.
Two weeks later, 5 are still continuing the fast. Watch the video below to hear Ted Glick's remarks and call to action as he fasts. Our prayers are with you, Ted...
Click here to read more about the fast on the Climate Emergency Council website.
There is momentum building in the movement against new coal fired power plants, but there is still an incredible amount of work to be done. This November, Step It Up is promoting a moratorium on new coal fired power plants as one of the three 1 Sky principles. We've received a few questions about why we have staked out this ambitious stance - for many people and communities, the struggle against coal is not at the top of the agenda and can feel a bit unrelated to the important work of greening one's home, business, or school.
But if we want to make progress on global warming, we must take a stand against new coal development. Take this statistic from a recent advertisement by Architecture 2030:
If every household in the US changed a 60-watt incandescent light bulb to a compact fluorescent . . . The CO2 emissions from just two medium-sized coal-fired power plants each year would negate this entire effort.
There are 151 new conventional coal-fired power plants in various stages of development in the US today. On November 3rd, we hope to give a resounding "No!" to the development of each one and a even more resounding "Yes!" to a clean energy future that will create millions of new, green jobs.
Some of the latest news on coal is out of Utah, where the EPA has granted Deseret Power a permit for a 110 megawatt coal plant in Uintah County. Building a new coal plant in Utah is the wrong move. US Rep. Henry Waxman (CA) is calling the EPA's decision "both illegal under the Clean Air Act and an enormous missed opportunity." (click here to invite Rep. Waxman to a Step It Up event in California).
The picture in this blog post is from a Step It Up action last April in Park City, Utah. The ski industry is one of the many things in the West threatened by continued global warming. This November, we hope to have hundreds of more pictures and videos from across the country of people standing up against coal and for a cleaner, safer, and more prosperous future.
The gals over at Code Pink have had their way with our logo and given it a distinctly rosy new hue! With an emphasis on joy and humor, the women at Code Pink have been on the front lines of the fight for peace, justice, and a better world for us all. Now, not everyone may agree with their rabble rousing approach, but we admire their energy and commitment - its going to take a loud, creative, and diverse movement to take on global warming and Code Pink is a great ally to have on board. You can learn more about Code Pink at their website, read about their participation in Step It Up 1, or find out more about their "extreme politics" in The Nation.
We salute you, pink warriors, and hope to see you out in communities nationwide on November 3rd!
Want to try your hand at our logo as well? Feel free to download it from our site, give it a creative twist, and send a copy to organi[email protected] - we'd love to see what you come up with.
Under low white clouds and an uncharacteristically blue Bay Area sky, a team of local twenty-somethings stood on a roof, raising solar panels. A Raiders sticker on one hardhat and flopping dreadlocks under another gave clues that this group was not a typical construction team. The youth who connected these clean energy panels were benefiting from the green economy -- benefits usually reserved for those putting sacks stuffed with fair trade coffee and organic soymilk into the trunks of their Priuses.
These builders got their know-how from a job training program they completed this summer, the joint effort of a local solar company and a local job development organization. Did you see that “Green Jobs Now” pillar of the 1 Sky campaign and the Energy Action Coalition? This program brings green-collar jobs to life.
Folks whose employment searches face the stiffest systemic difficulties, like low-income youth and the formerly incarcerated, are eligible for the program. Participants learn job skills – everything from traditional construction to interviewing, as well as skills applied to new trades in the emerging green economy: installing solar panels, maintaining wind turbines, growing agriculture organically, and more. An important final step connects local green employers to program graduates through a job fair, lining up real jobs for participants!
A Green Jobs program in Richmond, CA takes the “green pathways out of poverty” concept a step further, identifying low-income homeowners whose homes are used as training sites. A special city loan lets the homeowner borrow money for the solar panels, and doesn’t require full repayment until the house is sold. In the meantime, homeowners who may have never had the chance to invest in solar power get to enjoy watching their electric meters run backwards. How sweet an incentive to choose clean energy!
All communities want more jobs. The green-collar jobs solution not only brings opportunities for work, but also creates cleaner air for our kids to breathe. The green wave is coming -- if cities don’t prepare local workforces to enter the burgeoning green industries, those communities will watch green profits fly overhead toward non-local destinations.
Richmond’s program is not an isolated one. The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights helped win $250,000 to fund the Oakland Green Jobs Corps, making Oakland the first city in the nation to invest in a program designed specifically to create green “pathways out of poverty.” And Green For All is pushing the federal government to grant the cash for a national Clean Energy Jobs Corps by passing the Green Jobs Act.
It’s time to invest in solutions that fight poverty and pollution at the same time. Climate change policy should serve the polar bears grasping at ice floes – but it must also serve cities’ youth looking for jobs.
Here's the word from the physical world: On Sept. 10, scientists studying satellite images of the Arctic reported that sea ice covered 4.32 million square kilometers of the north. The old record, set two years before: 5.34 million square kilometers. Mark Serreze, an Arctic specialist at the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center at Colorado University in Denver, said, "It's amazing. It's simply fallen off a cliff and we're still losing ice." The Arctic has now lost about a third of its ice since satellite measurements began 30 years ago. At the moment, an area of ice the size of the United Kingdom melts each week.
And here's the word from the political world, as it appeared in The New York Times last Thursday: "The prospect of a comprehensive energy package's emerging from Congress this fall is rapidly receding, held up by technical hurdles and policy disputes between the House and the Senate and within the parties."
The technical word for this situation is "gap." As in, there's a slight gap between how much we need to do and how much we are doing. A gap at least as wide as the Northwest Passage, which as of early September was fully navigable.
There's one thing that can close that gap, and it's called leadership.
Which is why, on Nov. 3, Americans will gather at hundreds of sites around the country, places named for great leaders of the past: the top of Mt. Washington, the place where Teddy Roosevelt was inaugurated, the birthplace of Rachel Carson, the site of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, and many, many more.
Click here to continue reading this post on God's Politics blog.
We just put up some new tools on our website--you can check them out to the right of this blog post. The "Invite the Leaders" tool is just a few days old, and already two elected officials have committed to attend November 3 rallies! Congratulations to event organizers in Burlington, Vermont for inviting Representative Peter Welch and Senator Bernie Sanders to their event.
This week both Welch and Sanders committed to attend the Burlington action! Burlington's a beloved town around here--it's the home of Step It Up's old headquarters, it's a buzzing hub of activism, and it's home to webmaster Jon Warnow's crepe restaurant.
We are glad to see that the invitations are making an impact!
This is a great reminder to everyone vising the website today--if you're reading this now, please visit our "Invite the Leaders" page and invite your elected officials to an event in your area. And heck, if there isn't one, please sign up an action today. As always, we'll guide you through the organizing if you need help.
The listing of a public appearance by an elected official or candidate
is solely for information purposes. The information is not intended to
suggest that such public official or candidate holds viewpoints
consistent with or inconsistent with those held by Step It Up 2007 or
affiliated organizations. Step It Up 2007 does not rate or track the
positions of elected officials or candidates for office.
In our last blog post, Kelly repeated the need to make this movement an artistic one. The most successful movements in history have been singing ones, and we're no exception. Check back to our website as we get our "Climate Songs" section back in action. Leading the charge of musicians for the climate is our friend Raffi, read on to learn about "Cool It" his global warming anthem:
COOL IT: The Global Cooling Song
How did this chilling toe-tapper happen?
Ever since David Suzuki’s 1989 reference to Global Warming as “a matter of survival”, GW’s been on my radar. I’ve been a longtime ecology advocate, even recorded an ecology album in 1991 (Evergreen Everblue). The recent Al Gore film reminded me that David, Al and I took part in the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. In the wave of my current Child Honoring focus, I felt the need to do something new.
I set out to write a rollicking call to action, an anthem to urge business, government and citizens to join the great global cool rush. So when the guitar riff suggested rockabilly, the simple singable chorus took form. The song came together quickly. So Into the studio we went—electric guitar, drums, bass, keyboards, harmony vocals and me, on lead and guitar—working fast with live “off the floor” vocals.
For group vocals, how fitting to record the staff of David Suzuki Foundation at their Vancouver offices, with David and Tara among the singers! You can see us rockin’ out in the video below:
Your part? Why not download the song—MP3 and lyrics (both free)—sing it, and pass it on to friends?
Bonus: the free music chart download makes it easy learning for school choirs.
This November 3—for Step it Up 2—let’s make some noise! Sing with me,
sing it loud, have a ball, dance it up. And spread the word: “COOL IT”.
Like the song says, “Do it for the children, do it for yourself”.
After reading the great piece from Alex Steffen that Jon posted a few days ago, I want to follow up to talk about an important part of any social movement or political action: art. In the face of the possibilities of mass destruction and ecological failure Steffen spoke of, we'll need inspiration through art, music, theater, and creative writing in order to express the feelings those possibilities evoke, and to convey a meaningful vision of what's possible, if we do it right. We talk a lot about numbers and percentages and policy points here, but when it gets down to it, these things are not typically what truly inspires political action or sustains the fight within. It is the artists and musicians that often tell the stories of the times in ways that reach to us most deeply and movingly.
Bill McKibben wrote about the need for art in this movement on the Grist a few years ago - now people all over the world are answering. What sparked this blog post was the awesome artwork from the winners of this year's UN Children's Painting Competition on the Environment. Some of the kids are only 6 years old! Crazy. This year's theme was climate change and you can see the winners' works, from all over the world, here:
There are many ways to incorporate art into your action- involve local artists, host a silent auction to raise money for local efficiency projects, hold a children's art competition, see if a professional photographer will donate their time, paint a mural, hold a film festival… the ideas go on and on, but we want to hear yours. On April 14th, we were able to turn a wonky number-filled call to action, into beautiful aerial photography, banners, and more that spoke powerfully to the media and people all across the country. How can we get the message across visually this time? Write us, we'd love to hear your ideas!
Also, stay tuned for ideas about incorporating music into your action...
What do we do fighting warming every day, are we sad because we're on our own? No! We get by with a little help from our friends.
Actually, Step It Up gets by with a lot of help from our friends. Our open source model means that the success of November 3rd rests on the shoulders of individuals and groups nationwide who are stepping it up to help spread the word and organize actions. You can always find a list of friends and allies on our website - we encourage you to explore their work and think about connecting with them, both for November 3rd and ongoing work in your community. Many groups have local chapters in your area, or who knows, maybe they're based in your home town!
We'll periodically be featuring friends and allies on the blog to share the work they are doing with all of you. Today, we want to feature Coal River Mountain Watch, a group fighting mountain top removal coal mining in Appalachia. A recent ruling from the Bush Administration is attempting to enshrine the practice of mountain top removal, blasting off the tops of mountains to get at the coal underneath and CRMW is on the front-lines of a fight to stop it. We stand in solidarity with them and encourage you to take action with them to protect the mountains, streams, and communities of Appalachia. Here are two ways to help:
1. Right now, email the Office of Surface mining opposing the new rulings - a form makes it easy to do: Click here to take action.
2. On November 3rd, take up the call of "No New Coal" in your Step It Up rally. Take the time to learn more about the issue and share what you learn with your friends, family and neighbors. Together, we can build the movement against coal and for a clean energy future in this country.
A big thanks to all of friends and allies for keeping up the fight!
Posted by The Step It Up Organizing Team on September 17th, 2007
While we're working away at inspiring real political action on global warming here in the United States, it's also good to keep in mind the global significance climate change. Bill McKibben helps us think through the global situation in an article in National Geographic:
The CO2 from fossil fuels lingers in the atmosphere, so global warming can't be undone. But catastrophe can still be averted.
Here's how it works. Before the industrial revolution, the Earth's atmosphere contained about 280 parts per million of carbon dioxide. That was a good amount–"good" defined as "what we were used to." Since the molecular structure of carbon dioxide traps heat near the planet's surface that would otherwise radiate back out to space, civilization grew up in a world whose thermostat was set by that number. It equated to a global average temperature of about 57 degrees Fahrenheit (about 14 degrees Celsius), which in turn equated to all the places we built our cities, all the crops we learned to grow and eat, all the water supplies we learned to depend on, even the passage of the seasons that, at higher latitudes, set our psychological calendars.
Once we started burning coal and gas and oil to power our lives, that 280 number started to rise. When we began measuring in the late 1950s, it had already reached the 315 level. Now it's at 380, and increasing by roughly two parts per million annually. That doesn't sound like very much, but it turns out that the extra heat that CO2 traps, a couple of watts per square meter of the Earth's surface, is enough to warm the planet considerably. We've raised the temperature more than a degree Fahrenheit (0.56 degrees Celsius) already. It's impossible to precisely predict the consequences of any further increase in CO2 in the atmosphere. But the warming we've seen so far has started almost everything frozen on Earth to melting; it has changed seasons and rainfall patterns; it's set the sea to rising.
Click here to continue reading this article in National Geographic.
Conservation hero David Brower once said, "People have alleged that I have inspired many young people over the years, but I say, it was just the opposite. In this spirit of inspiration, we present the first of a series of blog posts about the Powershift 2007 conference. Taking place at the University of Maryland the same weekend as Step It Up, organizers of both events are committed to making the weekend of November 3 truly momentous!
Power Shift 2007 is the first-ever national youth summit to solve the climate crisis. Youth of all backgrounds will use their experience from local and state level climate change movements to create a fresh, positive, and inspiring vision of the future, one focused on our potential to overcome the challenges of the 21st century, build a clean energy economy, achieve energy independence, create millions of green jobs, increase global equity, and revitalize the American economy.
Power Shift will take the climate movement to new levels. At this conference, young leaders will share ideas, learn new skills, make new connections, establish a national voice for our generation, and send a united message to our national leaders: we are moving beyond the same old special interests, empty promises, and inadequate results to embrace a new paradigm that leverages our strengths and achieves what is possible for our future.
Another major goal for the conference is bringing a diverse group of youth from different races, religions, incomes, genders, and abilities. In order for this to happen, conference organizers are asking for donations to cover travel scholarships for students who would be under-represented at the conference without aid to attend. If you can help with this, please do so here. Thanks, and stay tuned for more updates!
Here at Step It Up headquarters, we love compact fluorescent light bulbs--they are a perfect representation of the easy, sensible, affordable changes we can make in our day to day lives to chip away at the problem global warming. But we are all too aware that this kind of change isn't enough--not by a long shot. The scope of global warming is so massive, so deeply entrenched in our systems of energy and commerce, that we need to be thinking far bigger than light bulbs and personal actions. We like to say that screwing in a new lightbulb is good, but screwing in a new federal energy policy is far more important. It seems that Alex Steffen of the blog Worldchanging is thinking along the same lines: in his new essay, he argues that it is vital to find ways to go beyond Ghandi's recommendation to "Be the change", that to tackle our most pressing crises we must figure out how to "mass-produce change." His essay is a clarion call for the environmental movement, and it should be an inspiration to the Step It Up organizers around the country are going to use November 3rd to catalyze the mass-production of change in our country. So take a few minutes to read the essay, and take a few more to let its implications sink in. It's good to be reminded that the time has truly come to think massively.
"If our world is really looking down the barrel of environmental
catastrophe, how do I live my life right now?” asked an email I got
I know the standard answer: Be the change.
This motto -- shorthand for Gandhi's instruction that "We must be
the change we wish to see in the world" -- has become ubiquitous. And
while a sensible person will appreciate the essential wisdom behind
Gandhi's words, in the context of sustainability, this shorthand has
become associated as well with another idea: that the being the change
is a lifestyle choice.
In this context, Be the change in fact usually means Buy the change.
It means living a standard consumerist lifestyle, but varying the
products one consumes to include "green" clothes, cars and furniture...
or at best going without a few things you didn't need anyways.
Here we crash headlong into one of the most painful, difficult and
confusing realities of life today: varying our lifestyles will not
create the kind of change the world needs to see. Ensnared in huge
systems whose major by-product is destruction, it is nearly impossible
-- if we're looking at the problem with clear eyes -- to truly be the
It is essentially impossible for an average person with an average
income to live an average North American lifestyle sustainably. It is
only somewhat less difficult for an average European. Personal
sustainability certainly can't be achieved simply by shopping at a
different set of stores.
But that's not the half of it. The very idea that changing our own
lives into models of sustainability will transform the world is
wrongheaded -- in part because it is almost impossible to do without
great wealth or great sacrifice, in part because even when we do it, it
encourages us to believe that problems which demand systemic solutions
can be fixed by personal virtue.
At its worst, making saving the world a personal responsibility drives green posturing that's both meaningless and annoying. But even at it's best -- even when we focus on taking the personal actions that are both actually within our power and at least somewhat effective
-- it is woefully insufficient. As Bill Rees (the inventor of the
ecological footprint measurement) says, "We're all on the same ship and
what we do in our individual cabins is of almost no consequence in
terms of the direction the ship is going."
The privatization of responsibility
for the crises we face is entirely understandable. Making planet-saving
a consumer choice helps sell products. Making it a lifestyle choice
mutes political pressure for change. Making it an individual
responsibility helps deflect attention away from the massive impact,
ethical bankruptcy and extreme profitability of the unsustainable
production, transportation, energy, food and construction systems upon
which we depend and over which we currently have essentially no direct
Why do good people keep advocating lifestyle change? Well, the hope
is that small steps will lead to a big change of heart: that a tipping
point will occur when the crucial can falls into the critical recycling
bin, and people all around the world will awaken to the sustainability
imperative, and then that, in some vague-but-direly-hoped-for way, this
awakening will change everything and all will be well (and everyone
gets a pony!). I think of this theory as betting the farm on the
arrival of a Mythological Universal Conversion Event.
Here's the biggest problem with this theory of social change: we've
been at it for decades, it hasn't worked and it probably never will.
Things are demonstrably worse than they were when we began advocating
recycling and such, and they're getting much worse far faster than any
lifestyle choices can make them better. In the absence of an unlikely
change in the nature of humanity, buying bamboo shirts or sustainable
furniture is like spitting at a forest fire.
Regular people get this. Edward Abbey wrote that "Sentiment without
action is the ruin of the soul." And almost every day we ask those
around us engage in the ruination of their souls. We tell them the
truth -- that an ecological collapse is on its way, and that avoiding
it demands widespread transformation -- and then we suggest that they
take some small steps whose meaninglessness in the face of massive
crisis is self-evident. We ask them to care about everything, and do
We ought instead to ask from them, and demand from ourselves, action
commensurate to the crisis, which is to say heroic action. The world
has never more needed a generation of heroes, and, in the absence of a
better generation, we'd better step up and fight like hell for the
future we want.
I am not really in the business of giving individuals advice. But it
does seem to me that there is one step which applies to everyone: Dream
big. Dream about living your one-planet life in a bright green city on
a sustainable and thriving planet, and dream about it in the near term.
In dreams begin responsibility, as the man said. I think that vision
places on us a burden, that to be able to see the gap between the world
as it is and the world as it must become is to be tasked with trying to
imagine ways of bridging that gap. But in dreams also begin
transformation: having imagined a better future, we gain the ability to
work towards designing, building and spreading it.
We don't need more people living marginally greener lifestyles. We
need thousands of people, millions of people, swarming out of their
lifestyles and leading worldchanging lives: practicing strategic consumption,
sure, but also inventing new answers, changing their companies (or
quitting their jobs and starting better companies), running for office,
writing books and shooting films, teaching, protesting, investing in
change, mobilizing their communities, redesigning their cities, getting
up off the couch and going to the meeting, and in every other way
making it happen. It is time to live as though the day has come,
because it has: tomorrow is too late. One planet, three decades.
Put another way: Don't just be the change, mass-produce it.
We need, through brilliant innovations, bold enterprise and political
willpower, to make sustainability an obligatory and universal
characteristic of our society, not an ethical choice. We need to remake
the systems in which live. We need to redesign civilization.
Hey friends – I’ve been told it's time to introduce myself, so here goes!
My name is Kelly Blynn, one of the newcomers to the Step It Up Organizing Team and I am quite excited to join some of my great friends to work on this exciting campaign for the fall. After graduating from college in VT in the spring, I hopped over to NH to begin work on Climate Summer, a student-led effort to organize a 5 day march across New Hampshire in order to call for national action on climate change in the key primary state. It was great fun, and had quite an impact for all those involved. Now with the long hours of canvassing, permitting, and logistics behind me, I am now ready to hand over my illustrious title of “logistics lackey” or “permit princess” that I earned during the march in order to lace up my organizing boots once again and put on my Step It Up “organizing crown” (see photo).
But I couldn’t be content any other way at this time in my life. With the 2008 election fast approaching, I know we need to be light on our toes (and heavy on the huge wave of grassroots support developing on this issue) in order to make sure we don’t miss our window to address global warming in some meaningful and serious way. As a kid from the unwalkable, highly consumptive burbs o’ Philly, I’ve felt that something was wrong with the way we’re living for quite a while, and hearing from all you inspiring leaders every day through the calls and emails we get makes me feel for the first time like we just may be able to change some things. So keep on Stepping It Up! I’ll be here in the office waiting to hear about all you’re doing, and help out however I can.
Oh, and one more thing then. So I’m working on tapping into this on-line network of some, oh, 7.5 million progressive folks, called Care2, in order to spread the word about Step It Up. Is anyone else a part of this thing? I have 3 friends right now, so its not going all that well, so if you’re a part of the Care2 network, be my friend and join the Step It Up group! Thanks, and nice to meet you all.
Need a little extra inspiration to put in the time to organize a Step It Up event for this November 3rd? Look no further than this new video from our friends over at YERT (or the Your Environmental Road Trip). Remember, Step It Up doesn't support any particular candidates for office and the views expressed in this video don't represent those of our campaign - - except for those voiced by Bill McKibben, we tend to agree with what he says. Watch him and other climate all-stars in the video below:
What is this YERT thing anyway? We'll let them explain:
YERT (Your Environmental Road Trip) is a year-long eco-expedition
through all 50 United States. With video camera in hand and tongue in
cheek, we're exploring the landscape of America's unique approach to
environmental sustainability. We believe that Americans want to do the
right thing - they just don't want to look strange doing it, and they
don't have the time or the means to explore all the options. That's
where the YERT team comes in. Follow us each week as we shamelessly
bathe ourselves in the best (and weirdest) of America's ecological
progress with a mix of outrageous antics, provocative examples, and
thoughtful reporting. Got an idea? Want a clue? Let's get rolling!
Thanks for the video guys, and good luck on the road!
One organizer found a way to combine rich history, past
leaders, climate disasters, and current progress into a great community event. Check
out what Dr. David Kowalski in Buffalo,
NY has to say about it:
In 1901, Buffalo hosted the Pan American Exposition
and people from all over the world visited the city. At night, to the amazement
of all, many buildings were fully illuminated by electricity! People were in awe of the
technology and Buffalo was referred to as the
“City of Light.” Clean, renewable power was provided by the new hydro
facilities at nearby Niagara Falls.
During a visit to the Exposition, President McKinley was assassinated. Vice
President Teddy Roosevelt ended his hiking trip in the Adirondack Mountains to
travel to Buffalo
and become inaugurated as President. A quirk of fate, tied to clean, renewable energy, catapulted the avid outdoorsman into the White House. Teddy Roosevelt
rose to the environmental challenges of his time – it’s time for us to elect a
climate leader in 2008 who will rise to the challenge of climate change!”
Dr. David Kowalski has spent the last 30 years doing biomedical research, and
devotes his spare time to curing the climate crisis. He’s using web-based
mapping tools to help spread the word about his event – click here to check it out!
"We will gather at Roosevelt's Inauguration Site displaying signs and
banners demanding that our new leaders cut carbon emissions while creating
Green Jobs that will support renewable energy initiatives, like Steel Winds and geothermal heating. . . . To draw more
attention to our cause (and have more fun), we'll MARCH from the Roosevelt site to the nearby monument honoring President
The event will pay homage to historic leaders, as well as a
historic climate disaster that ravaged the Buffalo area last October. In a city
known for lake effect snow, the record for October snowfall was 6 inches; however, on October 12th-13th,
2006 the city and surrounding area received over
2 feet of wet snow - before the leaves fell from the trees. The
results were disastrous. Crushed by the out-of-season snowfall, trees fell all over the city, destroying property, disabling utilities, and blocking roads. Dr Kowalski adds: “Hundreds
of thousands of people lost power, many for a week or more, and a "boil
drinking water" advisory was issued.” When fishing for a cause of this weather anomaly, The
National Weather Service stated: “THE
INSTABILITY PARAMETERS ARE ALMOST HISTORIC WITH SUCH A SITUATION WITH A 62
DEGREE LAKE INVOLVED MAKE THIS ALMOST UNPRECEDENTED.” 2006 was the first year on record that Lake Erie
did not freeze entirely. The unseasonably warm water was a key element in transforming
cold air into a historic lake effect storm.
In the wake of the
tree loss some have called “Arborgeadon,” local artists are making the
most of the discarded timber. These artists are using the wood from some of Buffalo’s oldest tees to
carve life-sized statues of historic figures, including many of the local leaders
being honored by Step It Up Buffalo. The statues are currently on display at the Step It Up action site right in the downtown and are being used to encourage efforts to Re-Tree the city. On November 3rd, artists,
meteorologists, scientists, and historians will all have an important place at this
historic call for Climate Leaders. Way to go Buffalo!
in quoted material do not necessarily reflect those of Step It Up 2007.
Posted by The Step It Up Organizing Team on September 13th, 2007
Notice all the weird weather this summer? Paul Loeb, author, helps put it all in perspective, and describes how the time is ripe for real political action:
It's hard to keep up with the crazed weather. As I write, a heat wave has killed over 50 people in the Midwest and South, with temperatures reaching 112 degrees in Evening Shade, Arkansas. Torrential storms have flooded Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, and South Dakota. California has its second largest wildfire ever. Texas and Kansas are battening down for new storms, while still recovering from last month's floods, along with Oklahoma, which is now getting flooded again. A few weeks before, a massive rainstorm closed down the New York City subways. That doesn't count over 2,000 dead and millions displaced in India and Bangladesh floods, runaway forest fires in Greece, the hottest-ever temperature in Japan, or unprecedented melting of Arctic icecaps. Tomorrow the weather will ricochet off the charts someplace else.
This surge of weird weather offers a powerful warning. Placed in context, its lessons could also help us overcome the denial that's prevented the United States from taking action on global climate change. They could give courage to elected representatives who've wanted to act but have been hobbled by timidity. They could create a political opening to defeat prominent elected climate-change deniers whose seats used to seem unassailable and are running for reelection in hard-hit states. They could help the Senate leadership stand strong and call the bluff of those threatening a filibuster or a Bush veto. As Samuel Johnson wrote, knowing you’ll be hanged in two weeks concentrates one’s mind wonderfully. What's happening to our weather just might foreshadow that hanging.
A few years ago, global warming felt remote to most Americans. Although they heard it debated, it didn’t seem real. The media gave “equal time” to deniers and the most respected scientists. Now 84% of Americans view human activity as at least contributing to global climate change, and 70% demand greater government action. Responses have shifted in the wake of Katrina and the succession of local disasters; Gore's Inconvenient Truth; the international IPCC report and similar impeccably credentialed scientific studies; and the start of serious media coverage, from Parade and the AARP magazine to Vogue. Add the impact of so many ordinary citizens speaking out, and Americans are starting to link the disasters they're seeing around them with what's happening to the planet.
When people's communities are hit with exceptional floods, droughts, tornadoes, heat waves, or runaway wildfires, or they see these events on TV, even conservatives who would have once treated them as random "acts of God" start recognizing their deeper roots in the patterns of human action. In a May 2006 poll of South Carolina hunters and fishermen, for instance, 68% agreed that global warming was an urgent problem requiring immediate action, and a similar number said they'd seen the immediate impact of climate change on local fish and wildlife. Even before this summer's parade of calamities, 75% of all Americans said recent weather had been stranger than usual
So our national frame on the weather is beginning to shift. Each new "natural disaster" now reinforces the sense that just maybe not all these disasters are so natural after all. And if we fail to seriously address their roots, similar ones or worse will dominate our future.
Of course global climate change doesn’t cause every extreme weather event. And not all our fellow citizens are quite ready to act on the full enormity of the climate crisis, still resisting much of what needs to be done, such as increasing gas taxes[or support the 1 Sky Priorities]. But most Americans want someone to do something, even if they're ambivalent about paying the costs. The more our warnings resonate with what people see around them, the more they can draw broader links, and the more the Exxon-funded denials ring hollow.
This situation expands political possibilities. While memory of this summer of disasters is still fresh, why not begin now to make a major issue of the rabid global climate change denial of Senators like Oklahoma's James Inhofe, Texas’s John Cornyn, and Oregon's Gordon Smith. Inhofe, who's called global warming "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people," has been considered to have a safe seat. But his approval rating, just after last November's election, was a lowly 46%, and Cornyn's 45%, both lower than just-defeated Virginia Senator George Allen. So they may already be more vulnerable than conventional wisdom suggests. Gordon Smith's race has long been forecast as tight. Instead of writing off the prime deniers as unbeatable, or dismissing global climate change as too complex to make an electoral difference, why not brand them with their stands, juxtaposing their dismissal of the crisis with images of flooded homes and farms?
If the opponents of these officials can really tie them to their words, and keep asking why they'd rather stick up for Exxon than act on this ultimate threat to our common security, who knows how the election could turn? That's particularly true given broader discontent over Iraq, health care, and Bush administration corruption. Defeating just one or two entrenched deniers will significantly strengthen the voices of those in both parties who genuinely want to take action. We might even begin approaching the European situation, where even conservative political leaders, like Germany's Angela Merkel, France’s Nicolas Sarkozy, and British Tory David Cameron, view addressing global climate change as amont their highest priorities.
Even with our existing Congress, the more the temperature keeps soaring and the rainstorms keep pounding, the more political leverage we have. The timidity of elected leaders who've acknowledged the crisis but done little to address it has been nearly as much a barrier as the blindness of those who deny it. So when the weather begins hitting home it gives us a chance to insist our elected officials actually lead.
They have this chance now with a renewed version of a bill that would have reversed oil company tax breaks to pay for $32 billion of incentives for renewable energy production. Given the magnitude of the crisis, that's still far too modest an investment, but it would help. This past June, the Senate leadership dropped the legislation when they fell three votes short of overcoming a threatened filibuster; they also dropped a companion bill requiring all U.S. utilities to get 15 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020, a requirement already law in 23 states. They dropped these measures to be able to pass a larger bill that raised automobile mileage standards, supported biofuels development, created new appliance and lighting efficiency standards, and supported research into fuel-efficient vehicles and carbon sequestration.
Now, the Senate and House are about to take up renewable energy measures incorporating their earlier core proposals. The House and Senate versions have some important differences: The Senate bill contains a dangerous sentence, slipped in by nuclear lobbyists, that would let the Department of Energy underwrite virtually unlimited loans for nuclear construction. But if they can eliminate that provision and combine the best of their two bills, passing them would be a valuable step.
So what do they do about the filibuster? They need to call the bluff of the obstructionists. They have one of the necessary three votes with the return of South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson from his brain injury. Barbara Boxer, who was attending the birth of a grandchild, gives them another. As they need only one more vote, and didn't have the support of ostensible global climate change leaders like John McCain, who opposed rescinding the tax breaks for oil companies, they can begin by denying the opponents the power simply to table the bill by threatening endless debate.
Imagine if opponents filibustered, and instead of just letting them log in and register their vote, the Senate leadership forced them to defend and keep defending their position for the duration of the debate. Suppose they didn't just do it for a single day or two, as with the Iraq timetable resolution, but used the resistance as an opportunity to hold a national discussion—extended as long as needed—on this fundamental issue. If opponents quoted the scientific deniers, supporters could cite the 99.9% of climate scientists who've described this as a human-caused crisis of the greatest magnitude. They could talk about how oil and coal corporations, led by ExxonMobil and Peabody Energy, have used the strategy of the tobacco companies (and even some of the same Thank You for Smoking-style PR firms) to create a strategy of deliberately sowing doubt by supporting these same deniers and the front group institutes that host them. They can talk about how much these corporate interests have given to specific Senators blocking the vote. If the debate goes long enough, the supporters can read the list of political contributions repeatedly, until the links finally begin to register in the public mind. This could even pose an opportunity—before climate change fatigue, like compassion fatigue, sets in—to draw the links between solving the climate crisis and eventual necessity of real campaign finance reform.
After a season of caving until Congressional ratings are now below those of Bush, Democratic leaders in charge of bringing legislation to the Senate floor should welcome a filibuster, not fear it. So should their handful of Republican allies, who want to pull their party back to the "reality-based community." What a chance finally to address core issues, beginning with the costs of doing nothing on climate change. Supporters could discuss the disasters in their own home states and in the states of the legislation's opponents. They could talk of the 200,000 Katrina exiles still dispossessed from their homes. They could describe melting polar icecaps and the potential for a world of climate refugees. They could highlight the value of actually building an American renewable energy industry and moving down a sustainable path. The longer the debate dominated the headlines, the more they could make clear what's actually at stake.
This may not happen on its own. It will likely take sustained citizen pressure. But the floods and droughts signal a world of catastrophe that we've been moving toward, mostly unknowingly, our entire lives. With the scientific consensus on global climate change nearly universal, innocence and ignorance are no longer an excuse. We have an opportunity both to talk about the profound recklessness of our current path and to invest in alternatives that can avert the worst disasters. If we're gong to change America's political culture enough to respond adequately to the crisis, we'll have to link the stories of disaster hitting America's eyes with the root choices that have helped make them happen.
Paul Rogat Loeb is the author of The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear, named the #3 political book of 2004 by the History Channel and the American Book Association. His previous books include Soul of a Citizen: Living With Conviction in a Cynical Time. See www.paulloeb.org. To receive his monthly articles, email [email protected] the subject line: subscribe paulloeb-articles
A big reason for the plans for Step It Up 2 on November 3 is that we need to keep this movement moving. No movement can achieve its goals in one fell swoop, and ours is no different. So while Step It Up will be an amazing and powerful day of action, it is also a relatively quick, 2-month ad hoc operation -- the climate movement will continue on with plans for more action in the weeks and months to come.
On that note...get ready to get wet this December 8! Our friends over at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and the Climate Emergency Council are helping to coordinate the National Polar Bear Plunge on December 8. On this day, thousands of concerned citizens around the country will jump into cold bodies of water -- or ski down slopes in shorts! -- raising money and awareness and making clear demand during this critical election season: Keep Winter Cold! Fight Global Warming!
This will be another opportunity to support the 1 Sky priorities that our national leadership needs to address. And December 8 also marks the 3rd annual international day of action on climate change, coordinated by the Global Climate Campaign. Taking a dive into some cold water this December will be a great way for those of us in the U.S. to show our solidarity with folks all around the globe calling for action on global warming.
We will continue to feature more dispatches and announcements regarding movement activity here on the blog -- and several websites out in the climate world will be featuring the Leapfrog Climate Calendar with all sorts of important events coming up.
This guest post comes courtesy of Peter Barnes, former president of Working Assets and a fellow at the Tomales Bay Institute. He is the author most recently of Capitalism 3.0: A Guide to Reclaiming the Commons.
Now that the debate about the science of climate change is effectively over, the next debate is about what to do about it. The problem is, there’s no broad consensus on what policies will actually work. Hundreds of proposals are floating about, and many of them aren’t very good. It’s quite possible that bad climate policies will be adopted, and that more years will then be lost before real emission reductions occur.
We can’t let that happen. That’s why we need to understand very clearly what different climate policies will do — and, just as importantly, what they won’t do. We also need to know who’s behind the policies, who’d pay for them and who’d benefit.
Consider carbon capping. In theory, a descending economy-wide carbon cap is the single most effective way for the U.S. to fight climate change. Such a cap could decline 2 percent a year for 40 years and get us where we need to go — to an 80 percent reduction by mid-century. But not all carbon caps are the same, and it’s important to understand the differences.
Carbon capping comes in three varieties: cap-and-trade, cap-and-auction, and cap-and-recycle.
In cap-and-trade, permits are given free to historic polluters. This is called ‘grandfathering.’ The more a company polluted in the past, the more permits it gets in the future — not just once, but year after year. As the descending cap raises the price of fossil fuels, everyone pays more, and the companies that get free permits keep this extra money.
In Europe, a carbon cap-and-trade program with grandfathered permits handed billions of Euros in windfall profits to a few large utilities. In the U.S., an MIT study estimates that grandfathering permits to American utilities would give them hundreds of billions of dollars in extra profits every year for several decades.
In cap-and-auction, permits are sold to polluters, not given away free. Permit revenue goes to the government rather than to private companies. What government does with the money is then up to public officials.
In cap-and-recycle, permits are also sold, not given away free. However, the revenue doesn’t go to the government — it goes to all of us, one person, one share. The model here is the Alaska Permanent Fund, which pays equal dividends to all Alaskans from state oil income. This kind of cap is sometimes called a sky trust.
The kind of cap you prefer depends on your starting assumption. If you assume the atmosphere belongs to whichever companies grab it first, then cap-and-trade makes sense. If you assume the atmosphere belongs to government, then cap-and-auction is your choice. If you assume the atmosphere is a gift to everyone, then cap-and-recycle follows.
The appeal of cap-and-recycle is more than philosophical — it’s the only approach that protects our disposable incomes as energy prices rise. That’s because, as the price of carbon permits rises, so will the dividends that come from selling them. This difference will mean hundreds to thousands of dollars every year for every American. And it will assure that the middle class supports a descending carbon cap for 40 years — something it might not otherwise do when energy prices soar.
The right climate legislation hasn’t yet been introduced. But citizens across the country are gearing up to fight for real solutions that are fair to everyone. That fight could culminate in 2009, when a new President and Congress take over. That’s why, if ever there was a time to engage in climate politics, that time is now.
Get a message from Step It Up headquarters on your answering machine this past weekend? If so, you were one of hundreds of organizers who we've been calling over the past few days. From Florida up to Maine, across the mid-west, and over onto the West Coast, we've been ringing up homes and offices to drum up support for November 3rd - the next Step It Up day of action.
And we've gotten a great response, although sometimes it takes a little coaxing. People have mentioned busy schedules, a full semester of classes, and many other challenges. But above all, we've heard that despite these things, there is a driving passion to keep this movement moving. People understand that this is a crucial time - it's essential that we show politicians, one year before the election, that we need more than empty rhetoric on global warming: we need real leadership.
Politicians need look no further than their own communities for examples of that type of leadership. In Florida, networks of organizers are being activated to make the Step It Up a success in the Sunshine State. We've heard of local struggles against coal in states like Indiana and Maine, where communities are taking up the call of "No New Coal." And, perhaps most inspiring, we've talked with young organizers like 11 year old Sonya Kuzminski who organized a rally last April 14 in Cold Spring, NY. She's starting Middle School this fall and has more homework than in the past, but she's thinking about organizing a rally this fall any way (we've offered to help do some of her classwork, but that probably won't fly with her parents).
If you haven't heard from us, feel free to get in touch. We love hearing people's ideas for November 3rd and are happy to answer any questions and help in any way we can. Who knows, maybe we'll even help you out with your math homework.
Here at Step It Up headquarters, we're rolling up our sleeves and getting psyched for the grand opening of our…CLIMATE ACTION CENTER! We're basing Step It Up's national headquarters in the heart of downtown Manchester, NH, and we're opening up our doors to activists and organizations in the area looking to shake things up on energy and global warming.
We're calling our space "The Commons," in the hopes that citizens will share and contribute to this ever-evolving activist hub. We'll have a photo gallery, educational materials, weekly climate movie screenings, and more. As I write this, we're gearing things up for our Office Warming (Cooling?) Party--hanging banners, building furniture, and the like.
Tonight, we'll be kicking things off right with a classic grassroots party, complete with tasty beverages, home-made salsa, and enough carbon jargon to make even the wonkiest want to grab a drink. If you're in the area, swing on by: 931 Elm Street at 7:00pm, Manchester, NH.
Yesterday we received news from Samantha Pearson of PA's Local Action Network about a great new action taking place in Pennsylvania's Central Susquehanna Valley. Although they are not holding their event at a place named for a historic leader, they have figured out a creative way to commemorate their historical leader of choice through film. Organizers have teamed up with a film festival that will be screening footage of the Great Salt March of 1930 in which Ghandi and hundreds of others walked 240 miles from Sabarmati to Dandi in protest of the British Salt Tax. The organizers of the film fest will be screening clips of the march throughout, begging the question, what would Ghandi do, faced with the climate crisis? Perhaps spark a wave of nationwide non-violent protests, much like the Great Salt March did in India? Or maybe he would embark on a long-term fast, just like our friends from the Climate Emergency Fast. Either way, we're pretty sure he would rise to the challenge, and are excited to have an action commemorating such an inspiring historical leader. And now, information on the action from the organizer herself:
We will be holding an Energy Film Festival in cooperation with the Local Action Network, the Otzinachson Group of the PA Sierra Club and the Bucknell University Environmental Center. In keeping with the Step It Up 2 theme, "Who's a Leader?" and inspired by the Rainforest Information Centre's "Climate Change: Despair and Empowerment Roadshow," we will start each screening session with a 60-second excerpt from "Ghandi and the Salt March," and ask ourselves, given all the information in the films we are about to see, "what would Ghandi do?" The films to be aired are Nobility, Wind over Water, The Day the Water Died, Too Hot Not to Handle, Oil on Ice, Crude Impact, Range Wars, and Kilowatt Hours. The first four will be shown at 1, there will be an intermission and then the second four will be shown at 4.
Thanks for stepping it up, Samantha and everyone at the Local Action Network!
It's been a hungry day here at Step It Up headquarters. Why? Well, we're not eating for the day as part of the Climate Emergency Fast: So Others Might Eat. All across the country there are over 1,150 folks that have volunteered to fast for 24 hours as part of the call to action and leadership on global warming. And several of those fasting, including the fast organizer Ted Glick, are commencing multiple weeks of only consuming water.
The fast began today as Congress returned from its summer recess. And it's essential that we continue to remind our politicians that we need action on climate change now. That's why we're fasting today, and why we're going to step it up again this fall demanding real leadership on climate change.
Click here to see media coverage of the fast thus far. And keep your eyes peeled for more news as the fast continues on into September.
Since its first celebration in 1882, communities have
honored the first Monday in September as a day of rest for the “working man.”
This day of rest is a change of pace by many: pools close, school begins, and
you can probably stand to unplug your air conditioners. Our America celebrates Labor Day by
shifting gears, preparing for new challenges, and having a little fun while
we’re at it . . . let's do the same thing with our energy policy.
We’re changing light bulbs, and investing in wind turbines,
but it’s time to start investing in green labor as well. The three men pictured
above are full time employees of Steel Winds in Buffalo NY.
This urban wind project provides green energy for over 7,000 homes, and employs local
workers full time. A Green Jobs Corps will help propel such efforts forward, creating a skilled labor pool ready to support the wide scale investment in infrastructure called for by the climate crisis.
On November 3rd we’ll be calling for a level of
leadership that transforms the way we think about energy, our responsibility to
future generations, and our commitment a more sustainable economy. The only thing
more American than a Labor Day picnic is a clean energy economy strong enough to
lift people out of poverty.
To help us kick-off our push to November 3rd, our friends over at the Energy Action Coalition (more on them later) have already done a Step It Up 2 action! Taking a break from a conference in Detroit, youth climate organizers from around the country gathered at the Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University to commemorate the great labor leader and send a message to our current politicians: it’s time to step up and be a climate leader.
Walter Reuther took a stand on many of the great issues of his time: risking his life to organize auto workers in Detroit (he founded the United Auto Workers), supporting the Civil Rights Movement (he participated in the March on Washington and stood beside Martin Luther King, Jr. when he gave the “I Have a Dream Speech,”), and consistently fighting for better working conditions for many factory workers.
Although he’s less well known for it, Reuther was also an environmental advocate. He wrote one of the first checks to help fund the first Earth Day in 1970. In a speech to a labor meeting that year, Reuther criticized the idea that every American needed their own car and called for more public transit:
“It is asinine (I don’t know of a better word to describe it) to have hundreds of thousands of people all going to the same place at the same time for the same purpose and all of them dragging two ton gadgets with them.”
Reuther was no saint, but when it came to rising to the challenges of his time, he didn’t back away. That’s what we need from our politicians today, not perfection, but the willingness to show some leadership on the challenge of our generation: stopping global warming and creating a clean energy economy that creates millions of new jobs.
A big thanks to the Energy Action team for taking action in Detroit. We’re already getting reports from all across the country of actions being planned commemorating all sorts of leaders, from famous individuals to community heroes. Sign up today to commemorate a leader you admire and remind our politicians: it’s time for climate leaders!
Occasionally our crew here at Step It Up headquarters gets questions regarding how successful Step It Up has been. It's undoubtedly true that we haven't quite stopped global warming yet--and that's precisely why we're stepping it up again on November 3. But recognizing how much further we have to go, and knowing that this moving needs to keep on moving for quite some time, it's great to remember some of the achievements we've seen so far. (And it's always nice to get a few more bits of good news these days).
On top of all the great visibility, education, inspiration, and real political traction that the movement gained back in April thanks to the rigorous organizing of Step It Up organizers all across the country (click here to see all the April action), there were some very concrete local successes as a result of the April actions as well. Earlier this month we received word from the Step It Up organizers in Evansville, IN about the recent outcome of their effort to stop the plans for a new coal-fired power plant north of their community.
One of the organizers there, Wendy Bredhold, wrote in her email to us, "Vectren announced on Wednesday that it is backing out of the plant! The press release said, 'Based upon a review and analysis of its expected electric generation requirements, the demand for energy on its system could be more appropriately satisfied through other alternatives, including natural gas peaking generation, purchased power, renewable resources and increased customer conservation.'" So the Evansville Step It Up rally and march on April 14 not only supported the national effort for real federal action on climate change, but it was also a major part of the effort to save us all from yet another coal plant.
Here's a big THANK YOU to the Evansville organizers, and to the folks at Valley Watch and elsewhere that have been working to stop new coal plants for decades.
And now, let's make sure our actions this November 3 have the same or even larger effect. Nationally, we want to find our who the real leaders are, but locally there's plenty to keep working on as well. Keep it up...
As the country remembers the incredible impacts by Hurricane Katrina that occurred two years ago today, people in Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula are still recovering from the category 5 Hurricane Dean that happened only days ago. Global Warming is rising the temperature of our ocean surface waters, and warmer waters generate more frequent and more powerful hurricanes. As the communities affected by Hurricane Katrina continue to rebuild, we are again reminded about the necessity for taking strong leadership on global warming in order to prevent further accelerating weather related disasters.
In recognizing the effects of global warming on their community, the students at Tulane University in New Orleans are planning a very exciting Step it Up event for November 3rd. The students will join with the community to form a Second Line Parade through the city to promote climate change awareness and energy conservation. In honoring the tradition of celebrating the spirit of life after death, a Second Line Parade customarily occurs after a funeral precession ends. The Second Line Parade being planned for Nov. 3rd will celebrate the spirit and strength behind the movement for clean energy while remembering the reality of global warming.
It is already very hopeful to see all of the unique actions being registered by people all across the nation. Sign up for an event in your community today and join the growing citizens’ movement to find Climate Leaders.
Action ideas for November 3 keep coming in! Yesterday, we learned of this exciting action planned for Pittsburgh. The organizers plan to honor Rachel Carson, a courageous leader who helped inspire the modern environmental movement. This year marks the centennial of Rachel Carson's birth, and many events are planned throughout her home state of Pennsylvania.
As you plan your Nov. 3 action, take a look at the Organizers' Headquarters. There you'll find ideas about where to host an action and how to bring more people into your planning group. Also, as always, if you have questions about how to choose a leader to commemorate, feel free to write us at [email protected]!
We're beginning to get reports of actions being planned around the country for our November 3rd Day of Action. Thanks to everyone who's already signed up to host an event in their community - with you're help we'll make Nov. 3rd the next important step in a growing movement. Here's a report from Kyle Lucas in Olympia, WA. He organized a Step It Up action last April and is planning on an even bigger, more youthful, and more diverse event this time around:
Taking it the next step, the Olympia Climate Action group will host its 2nd Step it Up event on November 3, 2007! We want to build on the immense success of our first event. In taking it to the next step, we intend not only to further challenge our political leaders to step up, we want to seriously engage citizens with particular focus on our youth--the next generation, so we intend to partner with educators and schools on some educational and interactive events that we hope they will not only help to plan but to deliver for the event. We will also work to build greater diversity in those represented in our actions and in these dialogues to ensure that the concerns of our very diverse communities are adequately represented.
Building a diverse and multi-generational movement is essential to our success. As we highlight past leaders and think about our current ones, we should take the time to make sure we are honoring leaders from many different communities. Together, we can help build an unprecedented movement in this country.
Yesterday we heard from fellow Vermonter Kathryn Blume about her plans for November 3. Kathryn is an actor and activist, and she will be performing her play, "The Boycott," in New York City from October 12-November 18. We couldn't be more excited about Kathryn's idea to make her November 3 action a "night at the theater."
Kathryn just let us know that she'll be offering a special discount
on the regular ticket price for Nov 3 specifically for StepItUp folks.
Tickets are normally $30 for adults, $20 for students and seniors. On
Nov 3, tickets will be $25 for adults and $15 for students and
Tickets are available at TheaterMania.com or by calling
866-811-4111. The promotional code for adults is: Stepping. The
promotional code for students and seniors is SteppingSS.
Inspired by the ancient Greek anti-war comedy Lysistrata, "The Boycott" tells the story of Kathryn, a woman trying to fight global warming and save the world by writing a screenplay about the First Lady of the United States launching a national sex strike to fight global warming and save the world.
If you're considering your options for Nov. 3, and happen to be participating in an event you think could have an interesting Nov. 3 component, write us and we'll happily talk about the possibilities!
Posted by The Step It Up Organizing Team on August 24th, 2007
Need a little more inspiration to get started with organizing for November 3? Leonardo DiCaprio's new documentary "The 11th Hour" is opening in more cities all across the country today.
It's by all accounts pretty powerful--there were
good reviews in the New York Times and L.A. Times--and the
best part is that it concentrates on hope and solutions. This is for friends and family and who still don't quite get it (or who
like to look at Leo), or just a good way to get psyched up to organize an action as part of Step It Up 2 this fall.
Check out this quick preview below:
Click here for more information on where the film is playing.
We were a little hesitant at first to do another Step It Up day of action as early as this November 3rd. Was it too soon? Could we really have the same level of impact we did last April 14? Today's news that the Bush Administration is pushing through an order that will allow the expansion of Mountain Top Removal mining is a stark reminder of why this movement needs to keep moving.
From the mines of Utah to the devastated landscape of West Virginia, coal mining is destroying our natural resources and leading our country down a dangerous path. The recent ruling by the Bush Administration to allow mining companies to dump even more waste into the streams of Appalachia is an outrage.
As Joan Mulhern from Earthjustice said today, “The Bush administration just doesn’t give up in its quest to give away more and more legal protections to the mountaintop removal polluters."
Well, we won't give up our fight either. Check back to the Step It Up website for updates on how you can join the movement against mountain top removal mining by supporting community groups in Appalachia and beyond. And sign up now for an action on November 3rd. Together we'll send a strong message to all of our politicians that real leaders wouldn't sell our country to King Coal - they'd stand strong and rise to the challenge of our generation: building a clean energy economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty.
League of Conservation Voters has put together this hip new video to pose a critical question for this year's elections: who will be the first green candidate for president? You can watch the video below and visit their website for more info.
It's clear that global warming is a top priority for Americans from all walks of life. Last April 14, hundreds of thousands of people stepped it up to show their desire for our country to go down a more sustainable path. Our task now is to see which of our politicians will join us in this incredible endeavor. Who is ready to rise to the challenge of our generation: building a clean energy economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty? Who's a leader?
When you organize an event in your local community at a place named after a former leader, remember to invite your current politicians to attend. With your help, we can make sure that every politician in the country explains to us how they plan to be a leader on climate change. Most important, they'll let us know how they will achieve the four key priorities identified by the 1 Sky effort to stop global warming.
The crew over at League of Conservation Voters is right: sometimes it ain't easy being green - it ain't always easy being a leader either. But that's what we need. And on November 3rd we'll get to see who's with us . . . and who's just another politician.
One of our priorities that we are asking candidates to address is coal-generated electricity. There are more than 150 new coal-fired power plants that are slated to be built all across the United States, and not one of them is "clean" in terms of carbon dioxide emissions. Along with transportation, coal electrical generation is one of biggest problems facing this country. Check out this short clip for a slightly hipper look at the issue:
Those of you familiar with the Step It Up 2007 website may remember some blog posts about the New Jersey Climate March last April. The march route ran from Rutgers University to the State House in Trenton. Given the effort and enthusiasm behind that march, we were curious to see what these New Jersey organizers would come up with for Step It Up 2.
We didn't have to wait long to hear! Carlos Rhymer and Ted Glick, two of the main organizers, are planning a Nov. 3 rally to commemorate Thomas Edison. A recent New York Times Magazine article discussed the "green thinking" of Edison, including an off-the-grid home in West Orange, New Jersey. Ted and Carlos aren't yet sure exactly what Edison site they plan to rally at, but are excited to explore the possibilities.
In addition, Ted is helping spearhead the planning for "So Others Might Eat: The Climate Emergency Fast." This will take place on September 4, and if you're interested in joining more than 340 people already participating, register here. Many of us in the Step It Up organizing team participated in a similar fast in Washington, D.C., in July 2005.
The disaster at the Crandall Canyon mine in Utah has been on our minds since the initial collapse last week. The news yesterday that 181 miners are missing and presumed dead after a coal mine flooded in China has left us stunned. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of the miners missing or injured in the disasters, as well as to their families and friends who will continue on above the surface. Mining is a notoriously difficult and dangerous job and we respect those who are willing to risk their safety and health to provide for themselves and their families.
Along with our sadness, however, is an increasing sense of outrage and determination. Our country has been confronted with tragedy after tragedy because of our dependence on coal, from the deaths and injuries of miners, to the impoverishment of rural communities, to the environmental devastation associated with both the mining and burning of coal. The case in China is even worse, where 2,163 have miners have died in accidents this year. And yet, our politicians have done little to nothing, capitulating to King Coal rather than the interests of the American people. And in disaster after disaster, mining officials and the industry refuse to acknowledge that alternatives exist, criticizing those who offer them.
It’s clear that we have the technology available today to transition our economy and the global economy away from the use of coal as an energy source. The safety of miners and the well-being of their families are two of the reasons we have adopted the 1 Sky principles of No New Coal, so we can end our dependence on dirty energy, and a Green Jobs Corps., so that we can help retrain mine workers, among others, in new clean energy jobs.
Almost all of us are connected to the coal industry every day through the electricity we use to power our lives. And we can all help burden the responsibility of moving away from coal.
What if we continue with business as usual, or even increase our greenhouse gas emissions throughout the century? What if freak tropical storms and hurricanes increased in intensity and frequency? What if the nearby Missouri and Snake rivers overflowed their banks, engulfing the Black Hills, and turning the great plains once again to a great inland sea?
Artist Alexis Rockman explores the scarier side of human impacts on nature in his post-apocalyptic paintings of our built environments. From a moss-covered Capitol building in Washington D.C. to a decomposing "Hollywood" sign in Los Angeles, his art, perhaps, can give us insight into both our penchant for building huge monuments to ourselves (humans), and the forces of nature, eternally breaking matter into elements and building biota and geologic features from them.
Scientists would never predict South Dakota under ten feet of water--at least not in 2007. But, perhaps this painting of post-warming Mt. Rushmore, waves lapping George Washington's cheek, can give us a sense of the scale at which we are changing the Earth's climate. Rockman's mere suggestion that this scene is a possibility is shocking enough.
So, anybody want to host an action at Mt. Rushmore before Teddy Roosevelt's moustache becomes host to tadpoles and trout? He, an ardent conservationist, would have, at the very least, recognized the need for bold and comprehensive action on climate change long before it became too late.
Posted by The Step It Up Organizing Team on August 17th, 2007
It's only been a couple weeks since we first launched Step It Up 2: Who's a Leader? And we've already been noticed by some major journalists. Check out this piece by Nicholas D. Kristof, columnist for the New York Times, that he posted on his blog On The Ground. If you have a great idea for an action in your community, or are already planning one, let us know what you're up to by emailing us so we can put you up on the blog too!
Plenty of people remarked on Al Gore’s comment, in my Thursday
column, encouraging young people to engage in peaceful protests to
block new carbon sources. Specifically, he said he was stunned that
people weren’t blocking bulldozers constructing new coal-fired power
There is, in fact, an effort to build more of a protest movement
around climate change. Bill McKibben, an old college classmate whom I
met when we both tried out for the Harvard Crimson in September of our
freshman year, has become a leader in the effort to curb greenhouse
gases. Bill worked about 100 hours a week on the Crimson and is now
directing his vast energy to mixing journalism and activism to keep the
sea level where it is. Bill has started a new website, www.stepitup2007.org, focused on the effort to galvanize a climate protest movement. Check it out.
Opening tonight in New York and Los Angeles, and then around the country: Leonardo DiCaprio's environmental documentary "The 11th Hour." This is for friends and family and who still don't quite get it (or who like to look at Leo). It's by all accounts pretty powerful--there were good reviews in the New York Times and L.A. Times this morning--and the best part is that it concentrates on hope and solutions.
Check out the preview in the customized, Step It Up 11th Hour video player below:
We were thrilled back in the fall when we received words of support from one of our heroes, Calvin DeWitt, who is one of the father's of the religious environmental movement in this country. A great leader to be sure, he's now raring to go with plans for Step It Up 2 on Nov. 3, and here's his call to action to have us all join in:
So you didn't quite take the opportunity in April to Step It Up? Or, you took the step to join the movement in April and now want to really get into it? You REALLY want the Congress to take DECISIVE ACTION on Climate Change???
HERE IS YOUR CHANCE!
November 3 is the date that provides more than just a fine opportunity. It goes way beyond "doing one more thing!" It is an upcoming milestone to re-establish America's leadership on Climate Change. This is the date for your to take a vital and powerful action---an action that joined with many others is critical for driving Congressional action on Climate Change.
You may just have been an avid "follower" until now. But now you have the opportunity to lead---in small ways yes, but more than that! With enough thought about who you know and whom you can influence, you also can lead in BIG WAYS. November 3 is the NEXT BIG DATE. Resolve to lead. Join this great work. And do so with vigor, enthusiasm, and resolve! Use this vital day to develop your leadership, to mobilize folks wherever you can. Join together that first Saturday of November, making it crystal clear that America is moving with conviction, and even urgency, into a position of LEADERSHIP on Climate Change. We must demand that our leaders lead, or step aside as we step it up!
Here at Step It Up headquarters we're doing our best to stay on top of the latest technological advancements in internet based activism.
Last April, we demonstrated the power of distributed grassroots action. Over 1,400 communities were connected through our website by a common goal: cutting carbon 80% by 2050 to stop global warming. For Step It Up 2, we'll be working hard to squeeze and twist the web to wring out it's maximum potential.
And when we say we, well, we really mean you.
Help us go viral, become a meme, and dominate the blogosphere (don't worry, we don't understand it all either) by spreading the word through your online connections.
5. Email, email, email: tell everyone you know about Step It Up
Together we'll conduct an incredible experiment of the web's potential to help create social change. Our opponents may have millions of dollars on their side, but we've got the tools and the people to create a movement like the world's never seen. With your help, we can make it happen.
You probably see him every day, staring right up at you from a one dollar bill: our first president, George Washington. Whether it was leading the Continental Army into victory during the Revolutionary War, presiding over the Constitutional Convention, or becoming president numero uno, Washington was an exemplary leader in many respects.
Take this quote for example: "A slender acquaintance with the world must convince every man that actions, not words, are the true criterion of the attachment of friends."
Washington had it right. Words are all well and good, but when it comes down to doing something important for your friends (like helping save the planet) what you really need to do is take some action. That's exactly what some of our friends down at Dartmouth College are planning for this November 3rd. This summer, they carried a canoe up to the summit of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire and took a picture with a banner that read: "What Would Washington Do? Cut Carbon 80% by 2050!"
For Step It Up 2, they're planning on summiting Mt. Washington again - this time to send a message to our politicians along with tens of thousands of others around the country: it's time for real leadership on global warming.
We're excited to hear about actions that are already being planned around the country for Step It Up 2. Keep 'em coming! And remember, as Washington said, actions speak louder than words.
Check out this great action being planned by Jim Warren, a professor, and some other folks at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, a school named after two of our most significant political leaders. Thanks to these organizers for coming up with a great idea right off the bat.
Located in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Washington and Lee
University has an active program in Environmental Studies and a
multi-faceted Outing Club. Our April 14 Step It Up Rally for Climate
Action was a success, held in the Commons building on campus. The
President of the University was one of our featured speakers, and he
incidentally founded our Environmental Studies Program.
We plan to hold our November 3rd rally in front of Lee Chapel, in
the shadow of Washington Hall. George Washington and Robert E. Lee are
perhaps controversial figures for some modern Americans, since both
were slaveholders. But in many ways both of them were enlightened
leaders of their times. We will consider what a President of the
United States and a President of a prestigious liberal arts college
would say about global warming and the threats to durable ways of
living. We'll ask ourselves what kind of world we want to live in,
what kind we want to leave for our children and grandchildren and
Posted by The Step It Up Organizing Team on August 9th, 2007
There are occasional moments in history when we desperately need leadership, and this is one of them. If we’re going to deal with global warming, then we need to go beyond politicians who say the right words and find champions who will actually do the tough work to transform our energy economy.
And you could play a key role in bringing those leaders to the fore. This is an invitation to take one Saturday this fall and use it to build a movement, a movement strong enough to finally put this issue on the table where it can no longer be ignored.
Here’s the idea. On November 3, a year before the next election, we’re asking people to organize rallies large and small in their communities. Each one should take place in some spot that commemorates great leaders of the past. People have already committed to climbing New Hampshire's Mt. Washington and gathering in Chicago's Lincoln Park. Others will gather at the Rhode Island church where John F. Kennedy was married, or in front of a site honoring Navajo elder and activist Roberta Blackgoat. But we need hundreds more, gatherings in places that bear the names of national leaders or of locally celebrated men and women who did the right thing in a moment of great need. You’ll know the person that makes sense in your city or town—they don't need to be saints, just true leaders, the kind who, faced with the great issues of their day, didn't punt or compromise.
Once you've got your rally registered on our website, we'll help you gather a crowd, and invite the politicians from your neck of the woods. We want to ask every Senator and Representative, and every candidate for those offices, to come to these rallies, along with state and local officials. Once they're there, we'll present politicians with the four "1 Sky" priorities prepared in the last few months by climate campaigners across the country. They are: an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, 10% in three years (hit the ground running), a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants, and a Green Jobs Corps to help fix homes and businesses so those targets can be met. Basically, we want to find out who is simply a politician, and who's ready to be a leader.
We know these gatherings will be effective. In April, with the help ofthousands of people (most of them brand new to organizing) from across the country, we organized 1,400 rallies in places that showed how climate change would affect our lives. Those events were key in putting the demand for real action--80% cuts in carbon emissions by 2050--square in the middle of the Washington debate. But a movement needs to keep moving, and calling for real leadership is the next step.
Don't worry if you've never organized anything before--you're not putting together a March on Washington, just a gathering of scores or hundreds in your town or neighborhood. It needn’t be slick; homemade is just fine. Put your imagination to work: what would Lincoln do? How would Dr. King take on this challenge? This is a celebration of leadership, and a celebration should be joyful—as focused on the new economies and communities we can create as on the threats we must avoid.
These rallies will be local, but they’ll also have national impact. The website will help draw people to your action, and then on Nov. 3, we'll be gathering pictures and video from around the country so that by nightfall we'll have a good online slideshow of how America feels. We'll do our best to make sure that every candidate is firmly on the record about their plans. By the time the day is done, you'll have helped change the political landscape.
The best science tells us we have barely a decade to start the fundamental transformation of our economy and to lead the world in the same direction or else, in the words of NASA's Jim Hansen, we will face a "totally different planet." (He went on to say that the "1 Sky" priorities "describe just the kind of trajectory we need" to start solving the problem). A decade's not very long—we've got to get going.
I know you’ve already done the obvious things, like changing some of the lightbulbs in your house. Screwing in a lightbulb is important; screwing in a new federal policy to deal with climate change is crucial, especially if we’re ever going to regain enough credibility to help lead the world toward a stable climate. November 3 will be a powerful day, and you can play a vital role. Please sign up on the website to start or join an action—and thank you so much for caring enough to be a leader yourself.
Bill McKibben and the StepItUp2007.org team
P.S.One more thing. Please forward this email as far and wide as possible, to anyone you know who might possibly be interested. We’re not really an organization, and we don’t have lists of names—we depend on people like you to take the initiative.
Movements need to keep on moving; once the rock starts to budge you've got to push even harder on the pry bar. It's time to Step It Up once more.
Circle Nov. 3, 2007, on your calendar -- it's the next big date in the
fight to get America to finally do something about climate change.
We're calling it Step It Up 2: Who's A Leader? With your help, by the
time night falls on that Saturday -- almost exactly a year before
election day -- we should have a better sense of who will finally
muster the political will for meaningful action about the biggest
threat we face.
Step It Up 1
happened on April 14 and was the first open-source political protest in
U.S. history. People in 1,400 cities and towns in all 50 states staged
rallies to demand strong climate action. For those actions, we
concentrated on American geography: people picked places (the coral
reefs off Key West, the tide lines in a dozen coastal cities, the
dwindling glaciers on western mountains) that showed what was at stake
from global warming.
This time we're focusing on American history instead. People are
planning rallies at sites that commemorate great American leaders of
the past -- not saints, necessarily, but people who rose to the
occasion and actually dealt with the great questions of their day. Some
are world-famous: we've already heard from people organizing events at
the site of the Lincoln-Douglas debates over slavery, on top of New
Hampshire's Mt. Washington, and even at the church where John F.
Kennedy was married. Other leaders are known in their communities:
there'll be an event in Navajo country, for instance, honoring elder
Roberta Blackgoat, who helped lead the fight against coal development
on tribal land. With any luck, these will be occasions to remind
ourselves what leadership is all about -- and also to have some fun.
(In a country with tens of thousands of people who regularly dress up
to reenact the great battles of American history, the possibilities
should be endless.) Creativity is what we need, and fast.
There's no "group" organizing these protests -- just a few recent
college graduates working from a storefront office in Manchester, N.H.,
to coordinate the actions of volunteers across America. They'll be
making sure all of the presidential candidates
know about the events, of course, but they'll also be helping local
organizers invite senators, congressfolk, and candidates to their
rallies. When they get there, organizers will present them with the
platform drawn up over the summer by One Sky, a new coalition of
climate campaigners from around the country. It calls for a long-term
goal of at least 80 percent reductions in carbon emissions by 2050, an
immediate moratorium on new coal-fired power plants, and a strong
green-jobs program to install all the solar panels and insulation we
could ever use.
We'll make it easy for local organizers to take up this cause, even if
they've never staged a rally before. It needn't be big and it needn't
be slick; homemade is best, in fact. And we can connect you with all
kinds of people in your community who want to take action and just
don't know quite where to begin. Once they've assembled, we'll use the
web to link these rallies together into something larger than the sum
of their parts -- to show our politicians that this is no longer a
second-tier issue, but something they simply have to address.
When we tried this in April, we found out just how eager Americans
really were to start this movement going. In 11 weeks, they created the
biggest day of mass environmental protest since Earth Day in 1970. And
it worked. In the months since, every Democratic candidate for
president has embraced the 80 percent by 2050 goal, and Congress has
passed tougher energylegislation
than many would have predicted. But the movement isn't strong enough
yet to finish the job: President Bush is almost certain to veto any
strong new law, and Congress couldn't quite bring itself to ask Detroit
to increase gas mileage. And the leading Republican candidates for
president have mostly ignored the issue.
That's not all that's changed since April, of course. We've seen the
hottest July in history across a large swath of America, seen record flooding
in the United Kingdom and Asia -- and seen powerful new science
detailing both the threat of global warming and the possibilities for
dealing with it. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported in late spring
that new technologies mean it is both possible and affordable to
transform our energy economy in rapid order. What we lack is political
will -- what we lack is the kind of movement that inspires leadership.
But that kind of energy is a renewable resource. Join us!
We couldn't be more excited to be kicking off another set of Step It Up rallies, and we're already calling all the historical impersonators we know to ask them for help. Sound nerdy? Check out this piece on the Grist: On April 14, many thousands of you showed what it takes to be leaders, and now it's time to see who else will take up the call for action.
And we don't even have to wait long to see the kinds of places where these rallies will take place--a few April 14 organizers are already planning their November 3 actions. Beth Milham, in Newport, Rhode Island, plans to rally in front of St. Mary's Church in Newport. Beth took this photo with her friends last weekend, demonstrating the kinds of places and people November 3 will highlight.
Why St. Mary's? It's the spot where John and Jackie Kennedy were married. There are marks of JFK all over Newport, including his "Summer White House" where the Peace Corps legislation was signed into law. "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" gains whole new meaning when we're talking about leadership. On November 3, we'll all step up to the plate!
As Bill McKibben said today in New Hampshire, this is a movement that keeps on moving. Today, two simultaneous marches in Iowa and New Hampshire ended at the states' capitols. It was a powerful call for real solutions to global warming: 80% by 2050 and much more.
Check out a video from the final rally here in Concord, N.H. and get excited for our next steps as we continue down the road to a clean energy future.
You'll have to forgive us for all the attention we've been giving the March to Re-Energize New Hampshire in the past few weeks. But while much of the country is sweating through the last few months of July or planning a well deserved vacation for a few weeks in August, a crew of over twenty students have been working their butts off to pull off what they hope will be a giant march for climate solutions here in the Granite State. You're faithful Step It Up organizing team has been helping out where we can and we're giddy to see the whole thing about to happen.
The students here aren't alone, momentum is also building over in Iowa, where another group of young people have been planning a similar march. They'll be joined by climate luminary James Hansen, a big supporter of Step it Up, as well. If you're somewhere in the Northeast or Midwest, get on over to one of these marches. For the rest of you, catch some of the flavor in the video above of some last minute organizing (remember this from Step it Up?) and get on over to www.climatesummer.org for more info.
Read on for a full invitation from the March to ReEnergize New Hampshire team:
Imagine this: thousands converging on New Hampshire’s capitol, uniting to demand national action for a clean energy economy and real solutions to global warming.
With all eyes on the Granite State this primary season, we have the opportunity to put global warming solutions in the line of vision. We’ll gather on July 31st in Greeley Park in Nashua, ready to kick off five days of walking to call for the scale of action our country needs. We’ll stay at farms where the bounty has diminished over the warming years and churches whose congregations have found faith in our ability as a community to confront global warming.
We’ll walk beside Bill McKibben, founder of Step It Up and a guiding voice in this movement. Granny D will be there, who - at the age of 89 - crossed the country afoot for a cause of her own. Now at 97, she’s promised us that she’ll be back on the road.
You, your family and friends are invited! RSVP and bring everyone you know:
On the morning of Aug. 5, we’ll gather with thousands as we walk the last mile into the center of Concord and rally on the State House lawn. En masse, we’ll make the loudest call to our leaders yet: we want clean energy, green jobs, and a strong economy to cut our carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050.
We’re writing this because we want you to be there too. We’re just 25 college students who figured tight quarters and long hours was a cheap price to pay for our future.
So please, join us. Sign up to march for one day or all five. Prepare a meal or play a song. Make a few calls, and send this letter to everyone you know. Time is short, but together, we’ve got all the energy we need.
It's clear now that if the revolution won't be televised, it will certainly be seen on YouTube. For Step it Up, we focused on getting pictures in, but we also got flooded with fantastic videos from around the country. We were reminded of these vids when we watched the Democratic YouTube debate a few days back. First off, we wanted to give a shout-out to the brave snowman who asked a question about global warming. If you haven't seen his video, here it is:
But just as Billiam the Snowman is a great spokesperson for the snowmen of the country, we know there are some fantastic Step it Up organizers out there who are great spokespeople for all of us humans too. Don't believe us? Just check out the video below of Tiffany Cordero, one of our heroes in NYC. And go for it and submit a video question for the Republicans on YouTube - Mitt Romney says he doesn't like answering questions from snowmen, so let's give him a couple from all of us.
It was almost 1 year ago that some of us here at Step It Up headquarters were getting ready to launch a plan to walk 5 days across the state of Vermont calling for action on global warming. In many ways it was the success of that action that inspired us to start thinking about ways to join with others in similar efforts around the country, hence the Step It Up actions back in April.
Since that walk across Vermont, others have organized similar efforts walking for 4, 5, or even 8 days, as they did in Massachusetts back in March. And momentum is still building...
Now there's just 1 week to go before hundreds, if not thousands, of citizens will be commencing 5 day marches in Iowa and New Hampshire continuing the call for action on global warming. Through June and July, dozens of students and youth in both states have dedicated their summer to organizing these 5 day marches, dubbed the March to ReEnergize US.
Click here to read the official invitation letter they've put together, and if you are in a state nearby, sign up to join in the action...
Oh, and in case you need a bit more inspiration to get up and walk 5 days, check out and order the documentary film about the walk across Vermont featuring Bill McKibben: www.jancannonfilms.com.
Just when folks might have been thinking that the climate movement might be starting to ease up a bit for the summer, this past Saturday, July 14, students and residents from across New Hampshire took up the call to action in the White Mountains. As part of an effort dubbed Climb It for the Climate, over a hundred folks met at the summit of each of the mountains named after a former president in the White Mountain Presidential Range calling for action on global warming.
The message was fun and powerful...
"What would [president's name] do?
Cut Carbon 80% by 2050!"
Here's some of what the Climb It crew had to say about the action...
"Washington, Adams, Jefferson . . . these hallowed names echo through the centuries of American history. Their leadership, vision, (and incredible hair-styles), continue to inspire us today.
If these men were alive, they would surely take on today's greatest challenge: global warming. Sure, we'd have to brief them on the situation, but once they got the facts their course of action would be clear: follow the advice of leading scientists around the world and Cut Carbon 80% by 2050!"
Click here to see the slideshow from the whole expedition.
And the ascent of these great mountains isn't all that's in store for New Hampshire this summer. In just 2 weeks, folks in Iowa and New Hampshire will be commencing the Marches to Re-Energize US. In New Hampshire we're walking from Nashua to Concord from August 1 - 5, and in Iowa the march will go from Ames to Des Moines from August 2 - 5. Check out climatesummer.org for more information and to sign up. And please help spread the word -- click here to read the official invitation letter for New Hampshire, and please forward it far and wide, especially to folks in the New Hampshire area. Can't wait to see you out there.
You've probably seen lots of articles, TV ads, and blogs about the Live Earth concerts. We wanted to offer an eye-witness account of the goings on, live from the nosebleed section. Thanks to Step It Up Burlington organizer Katey Gordon, we scored some last minute tickets to see Al Gore, Cameron Diaz, Jane Goodall, and Bon Jovi.
Coming from New York City, floods of people headed toward Giants Stadium. We were impressed that the New York City bus station had so many signs stating "Live Earth tickets this way" and such things.
The concert was packed with people fanning themselves in the sun with signs (courtesy of World Wildlife Fund) that said, "I'm Hotter than I Should Be" and commemorative Live Earth bandannas. Yes, it was hot. But fans in Rio de Janeiro were probably hotter.
For those of you who participated in Live Earth house parties, or watched the concerts on TV or online, the excitement of the event probably came through. What couldn't be heard, and in our eyes, the most exciting part, was the crowd's positive energy for change. The tens of thousands of people who came were mainly young people, mainly from New Jersey, and maybe mainly there to catch the music. But plenty of loud applause, standing ovations, and cheers of support rang out in favor of the kind of action we all seek on climate change.
When Robert Kennedy Jr. spoke of the need for leaders to take up the challenge, the crowd roared. When Melissa Etheridge played her song from "An Inconvenient Truth," people were very moved and engaged. And every single time Al Gore took the stage, the crowd roared. And many times rose to its feet.
Coming home on the bus that night, we wondered what kind of action would result from Live Earth, as I'm sure many of you did. This may be a historical turning point, in the way "An Inconvenient Truth" provided so many opportunities for local action. Global audiences turned their attention to this issue in a powerful way on July 7, and, we hope, they will sign Al Gore's pledge and live it as well.
As you all crowd around a TV or computer or a concert venue for Live Earth parties tomorrow, here's a some more good news to add to your celebration:
The movement to fight global warming is a remarkable blend of institutions, individuals, and communities of all kinds, and it is both exciting and inspiring to know that U.S. mayors are with us...
Amidst all sorts of activities at the latest gathering of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, U.S. mayors unanimously passed a resolution calling for 80% carbon emissions reductions by 2050. Woohoo! Check out the official statement...
"BE IT RESOLVED, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors endorses 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2050 as the necessary and appropriate goal for our nation -- and the long-term target toward which our individual communities also should strive.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the U.S. Conference endorses the US Mayors’ Federal Climate Policy Framework, and urges the U.S. Congress and the federal government to incorporate this Framework into the development of all federal policies and programs on climate protection."
Click here to read the full text of the resolution.
This isn't the first time U.S. mayors have taken strong leadership on climate action. Already there are more than 530 mayors across the country committed to the Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. Under that commitment cities are aiming to reduce their emissions 7% below 1990 levels by 2012 -- most definitely a strong start. And its exciting to see mayors step it up and call for bold, scientifically-based emissions targets from Congress.
Despite the troubling news we all hear about the climate, let's remember to celebrate the remarkable movement we are all fueling. Have a great time partying with the planet tomorrow.
Live Earth is coming up and the momentum is growing. Here at Step It Up, we're not sure exactly what to expect with the concerts, but we're definitely looking forward to the party! Concerts on 7 continents, millions if not billions of people tuning in to watch, and some of our favorite bands - - this is going to be good.
One of our worries leading up to Live Earth was that it would lack a clear call like we had on our end for Step It Up. But (thanks in large part to your hard work of rallying our country around strong climate goals), this Sunday, Al Gore came out strong with an editorial in the New York Times and now on the Live Earth site there's a petition for all of us to sign.
We're pumped to see Al calling for cutting carbon 90% by 2050! That's 90% below current levels, which equals 80% below the 1990 baseline (emissions have increased about 10% since then), which is what our Step It Up call was, so we're all shooting for the same thing. But enough about numbers: the important thing is it's a strong call for real solutions to this crisis.
Read on to check out Al Gore's editorial in the Times:
July 1, 2007
Moving Beyond Kyoto
By AL GORE
WE — the human species — have arrived at a moment of decision. It is
unprecedented and even laughable for us to imagine that we could
actually make a conscious choice as a species, but that is nevertheless the challenge that is before us.
Our home — Earth — is in danger. What is at risk of being destroyed
is not the planet itself, but the conditions that have made it
hospitable for human beings.
Without realizing the consequences of our actions, we have begun to
put so much carbon dioxide into the thin shell of air surrounding our
world that we have literally changed the heat balance between Earth and
the Sun. If we don’t stop doing this pretty quickly, the average
temperature will increase to levels humans have never known and put an
end to the favorable climate balance on which our civilization depends.
In the last 150 years, in an accelerating frenzy, we have been
removing increasing quantities of carbon from the ground — mainly in
the form of coal and oil — and burning it in ways that dump 70 million
tons of CO2 every 24 hours into the Earth’s atmosphere.
The concentrations of CO2 — having never risen above 300 parts per
million for at least a million years — have been driven from 280 parts
per million at the beginning of the coal boom to 383 parts per million
As a direct result, many scientists are now warning that we are
moving closer to several “tipping points” that could — within 10 years
— make it impossible for us to avoid irretrievable damage to the
planet’s habitability for human civilization.
Just in the last few months, new studies have shown that the north
polar ice cap — which helps the planet cool itself — is melting nearly
three times faster than the most pessimistic computer models predicted.
Unless we take action, summer ice could be completely gone in as little
as 35 years. Similarly, at the other end of the planet, near the South
Pole, scientists have found new evidence of snow melting in West
Antarctica across an area as large as California.
This is not a political issue. This is a moral issue, one that
affects the survival of human civilization. It is not a question of
left versus right; it is a question of right versus wrong. Put simply,
it is wrong to destroy the habitability of our planet and ruin the
prospects of every generation that follows ours.
On Sept. 21, 1987, President Ronald Reagan said, “In our obsession
with antagonisms of the moment, we often forget how much unites all the
members of humanity. Perhaps we need some outside, universal threat to
recognize this common bond. I occasionally think how quickly our
differences would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside
We — all of us — now face a universal threat. Though it is not from outside this world, it is nevertheless cosmic in scale.
Consider this tale of two planets. Earth and Venus are almost
exactly the same size, and have almost exactly the same amount of
carbon. The difference is that most of the carbon on Earth is in the
ground — having been deposited there by various forms of life over the
last 600 million years — and most of the carbon on Venus is in the
As a result, while the average temperature on Earth is a pleasant
59 degrees, the average temperature on Venus is 867 degrees. True,
Venus is closer to the Sun than we are, but the fault is not in our
star; Venus is three times hotter on average than Mercury, which is
right next to the Sun. It’s the carbon dioxide.
This threat also requires us, in Reagan’s phrase, to unite in recognition of our common bond.
Next Saturday, on all seven continents, the Live Earth
concert will ask for the attention of humankind to begin a three-year
campaign to make everyone on our planet aware of how we can solve the
climate crisis in time to avoid catastrophe. Individuals must be a part
of the solution. In the words of Buckminster Fuller, “If the success or
failure of this planet, and of human beings, depended on how I am and
what I do, how would I be? What would I do?”
Live Earth will offer an answer to this question by asking everyone
who attends or listens to the concerts to sign a personal pledge to
take specific steps to combat climate change. (More details about the
pledge are available at algore.com.)
But individual action will also have to shape and drive government
action. Here Americans have a special responsibility. Throughout most
of our short history, the United States and the American people have
provided moral leadership for the world. Establishing the Bill of
Rights, framing democracy in the Constitution, defeating fascism in
World War II, toppling Communism and landing on the moon — all were the
result of American leadership.
Once again, Americans must come together and direct our government
to take on a global challenge. American leadership is a precondition
To this end, we should demand that the United States join an
international treaty within the next two years that cuts global warming
pollution by 90 percent in developed countries and by more than half
worldwide in time for the next generation to inherit a healthy Earth.
This treaty would mark a new effort. I am proud of my role during
the Clinton administration in negotiating the Kyoto protocol. But I
believe that the protocol has been so demonized in the United States
that it probably cannot be ratified here — much in the way the Carter
administration was prevented from winning ratification of an expanded
strategic arms limitation treaty in 1979. Moreover, the negotiations
will soon begin on a tougher climate treaty.
Therefore, just as President Reagan renamed and modified the SALT
agreement (calling it Start), after belatedly recognizing the need for
it, our next president must immediately focus on quickly concluding a
new and even tougher climate change pact. We should aim to complete
this global treaty by the end of 2009 — and not wait until 2012 as
If by the beginning of 2009, the United States already has in place
a domestic regime to reduce global warming pollution, I have no doubt
that when we give industry a goal and the tools and flexibility to
sharply reduce carbon emissions, we can complete and ratify a new
treaty quickly. It is, after all, a planetary emergency.
A new treaty will still have differentiated commitments, of course;
countries will be asked to meet different requirements based upon their
historical share or contribution to the problem and their relative
ability to carry the burden of change. This precedent is well
established in international law, and there is no other way to do it.
There are some who will try to pervert this precedent and use
xenophobia or nativist arguments to say that every country should be
held to the same standard. But should countries with one-fifth our
gross domestic product — countries that contributed almost nothing in
the past to the creation of this crisis — really carry the same load as
the United States? Are we so scared of this challenge that we cannot
Our children have a right to hold us to a higher standard when
their future — indeed, the future of all human civilization — is
hanging in the balance. They deserve better than a government that
censors the best scientific evidence and harasses honest scientists who
try to warn us about looming catastrophe. They deserve better than
politicians who sit on their hands and do nothing to confront the
greatest challenge that humankind has ever faced — even as the danger
bears down on us.
We should focus instead on the opportunities that are part of this
challenge. Certainly, there will be new jobs and new profits as
corporations move aggressively to capture the enormous economic
opportunities offered by a clean energy future.
But there’s something even more precious to be gained if we do the
right thing. The climate crisis offers us the chance to experience what
few generations in history have had the privilege of experiencing: a
generational mission; a compelling moral purpose; a shared cause; and
the thrill of being forced by circumstances to put aside the pettiness
and conflict of politics and to embrace a genuine moral and spiritual
Al Gore, vice
president from 1993 to 2001, is the chairman of the Alliance for
Climate Protection. He is the author, most recently, of “The Assault on
Get ready! We've mentioned it before, but a quick reminder...
Al Gore is putting together 7 concerts on 7 continents on 7/7/07. Billed as "Live Earth - Save Our Selves (S.O.S.)", these star-studded concerts aim to raise awareness of the climate crisis by broadcasting the concerts to every corner of the globe. In conjunction with the Alliance For Climate Protection, this day of music and action promises to usher in a new era of climate activism.
It's up to all of us to make this new era emerge locally as well. If you aren't headed to one of the major concerts in New York or London or elsewhere, Saturday the 7th is a great opportunity to get together with friends and neighbors (maybe some of the folks you met on April 14) and discuss plans for further climate action.
Folks all over will be gathering for parties, solidarity concerts, and to view the global concerts together on TV. Click here to check out the Live Earth event map to see if there are any gatherings you can join in your area.
If there isn't one yet in your area, you can also register your own event, which can be a concert of your own, or smaller house party, or whatever sort of creative event you can come up with.
So, have a great time on this July 7, and let's keep this movement rockin and rolling.
If you're like me and start every day searching for news on global warming and current energy policy (nothing like a botched bill in Congress to get you going in the morning!), you probably caught the latest opinion piece by Thomas Friedman. This weekend, he wrote about the current energy bill laboring through Congress.
You can read the whole column if you are a Times Select member. Here's a sample to get your pulse moving:
The public wants it. But energy policy gets shaped in the halls of
Congress — where wily lobbyists, legacy industries and politicians
greedy for campaign contributions regularly sell out the country’s
interests for their own. Only when the public really rises up — as it
has finally done against the auto companies — do we even get moderate
change. Don’t look to the Bush team to lead the revolution.
We were hoping for a shout-out to Step It Up, but that's okay. By rising up on April 14, you made an incredible difference by injecting a call for bold and comprehensive solutions like 80% by 2050 into the public debate. Politicians from John Edwards to John Dingell attended events. And together, we catalyzed a movement for change in this country.
And maybe it's something in the air, but I have a feeling we're not done yet . . .
On the 4th of July, Congress is shooting to pass, or at least start moving on some form of real climate legislation. While they're sorting through what action to consider, we need to be reminding them to Step It Up and cut carbon at least 80% by 2050.
And what better time to remind our leaders about the need for real solutions to global warming than our Independence Day? Whether you see the day as a chance to declare your independence from oil or to reaffirm your commitment to your neighbors, friends, and the special places in your community: you've got a reason to add green to your red, white, and blue.
It can be as simple as tying a green ribbon around your wrist or as over the top as painting your whole body green (we're rock, paper, scissoring at the office to see who's going to do that one - - hopefully Bill). As the gang over at Environmental Defense wrote in their Declaration of New Patriotism:
"Today, we recognize that patriotism is not only about love of country.
It is also about a shared commitment to the welfare of our planet."
Let's Step It Up this 4th of July and make this year's colors, red, white, blue, and green.
We've been keeping Step It Up simmering for the last couple of months as we think about next steps - - for those of you ready for action, get ready, 'cause things are starting to heat up again. In the meantime, the climate movement has been in full effect. Check out this blog post from Nina Rizzo about the potential for Green Jobs in Oakland and around the country:
This is what green-blue solidarity can look like. Early Tuesday morning
the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Oakland Apollo Alliance, Urban
Habitat along with concerned citizens and local groups rallied together
in the name of green jobs, not jails. We joined about 150 people
gathered outside the Oakland City Hall in support of the Green Jobs
Corps, which would help create green-collar jobs in Oakland. The rally
directly preceded the City Council meeting where the public works
committee recommended that the council vote to increase funding from
$100,000 to $250,000 to provide specialized job training and paid
internships for people with barriers to employment and this work would
make the city more energy efficient. Where is this money coming from?
The city has $4.17 million from a lawsuit from the California energy
crisis in 2000/2001 to be spent on energy efficiency projects; what we
were there demanding is that this financial resource be channeled to
those who were hurt most and need it most now –our impoverished youth
who can become the backbone of the local green economy we all need to
solve the climate crisis in a just way.
Read the whole post at It's Getting Hot in Here, the blog of the global youth climate movement.
Well, we all talk about creating a climate movement, and many of us are walking the walk already in our own lives. But two of our friends, David Kroodsma and Bill Bradlee, are biking across the country to promote education and action on global warming.
Beginning only a week after April 14th, the Step It Up Day of Action in front of the Old North Church in Boston, the two climate activists took their show on the road. Today marks the 47th day of the ride, and they have already given their presentation 27 times (how about that, Al?) to schoolchildren, reading groups and church congregations just to name a few. They're calling for bold and comprehensive action to deal with global warming in the US.
They've even garnered great media attention, including an appearance, among many others, on the Spanish language channel Telemundo in NJ and NY. We hope their wheels keep spinning and gaining momentum.
Over the next year, and 5,000 miles, David and Bill will be stopping in various locations to give their presentation--click here to find an event near you. To find out more about this great action, go to http://www.rideforclimate.com.
The Step It Up national coordinating team has dispersed from our office in Burlington, VT (sigh). But of course, the movement continues!
Three of us have relocated to Concord, NH to join an amazing crew of youth organizers for the Climate Summer project. There'll be plenty more to come about what these youth are up to for the summer (and all else that's developing in the movement -- stay tuned for more and more in weeks to come). For anyone that's in the area, join Bill McKibben and the whole Climate Summer crew for a kick-off event in Lebanon, NH this Wednesday, June 6 at the Green in Colburn Park.
For others not in the area, the momentum from Step It Up is still bubbling, and it can't be long till things start boiling over. Keep it up!
As Jon said in his last post, here at Step It Up we're often wary of online petitions. But this one from Avaaz, a global community of activists, is really taking off! You can read the post below to find out more about the upcoming G8 summit, but first, check out these words from our friends over at Avaaz (and of course, sign their petition!) Dear climate saver,
In three days, Avaaz's global climate change petition has exploded --
flying past our 200,000-signer goal, with more than a thousand new
people signing every hour!
At the end of this week, Avaaz campaigners will meet with
German Chancellor Merkel's top negotiator for the G8+5 summit - for our
first delivery of the petition. Germany is chairing the summit, and is
leading the many countries who support strong action on climate change.
They tell Avaaz that an unprecedented global outcry from citizens will
strengthen their ability to stand strong against the few countries --
like the US -- that are trying to block an agreement. If we can each
forward this email and persuade just 4 friends to sign, we'll deliver
the largest global climate petition in history to the G8 summit on June
7th! Ask friends to sign up at this link:
Every year, 8 nations (representing over 70% of the world's global warming emissions!) gather for an international forum to discuss issues of mutual or global concern. They are called the "G8," and their 2007 summit is coming up in in about a week. This means that the heads of state of each member nation will get together and try to hammer out some policies that everyone can agree with. Germany is playing host this year, and they've decided to put climate at the top of the agenda.
This is great news--but here's the catch: the US delegation is voicing their strong opposition to the German's approach to tackling the issue. Germany wants all member nations to agree to timetables and targets for greenhouse gas emissions--a position that doesn't exactly jive with our current administration's stance. Naturally, the Bush administration is attempting to derail the whole process.
So now we've got the whole world outraged, and with very good reason. The United States government is being called "criminal" for its plans to oppose the rest of the G8 in taking on global warming. To get the US delegation to wake up, our friends over at AVAAZ.org are putting together the BIGGEST GLOBAL WARMING PETITION EVER. In general, the Step It Up network mobilizes for real action on the ground, but since we can't all go to Germany for this one, we'd love it if you and everyone you know can sign on and send a strong message to our administration: we need everyone on board to tackle the greatest problem humanity has ever faced.
We spend a lot of time here at Step It Up talking about energy independence and clean energy. We think producing energy domestically is an important part of reducing our carbon dioxide emissions. Energy efficiency, wind, solar and other sources of energy can and are being used in the US effectively and economically. Once in a while something comes along under the banner of "energy independence" that just doesn't sound right. Increasing oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) was one of those. The newest and baddest is coal-to-liquids.
A process developed in the 1920s by German researchers Franz Fischer and Hans Tropsch, it was used by the war machine in Nazi Germany and Japan during WWII to get around the problem of petroleum shortages. It goes something like this: You mine the coal, use lots of energy and heat to transform it into syngas, and then finally into synthetic diesel fuel. Sounds great, right?
President Jimmy Carter thought so. In 1979, during the second oil crisis, he helped pass the Energy Security Act that allocated $88 million for coal-to-liquids projects over the next six years. Needless to say, it was a big flop, and was abolished in 1985 after wasting a ton of money.
But 2007 seems to be a year of big ideas so far, and a number of folks in congress want to bring back coal-to-liquids (if at first you don't succeed...) Of course, it's not just any Reps and Senators--it's all those guys from the coal states: Nick Rahall (D-WV), Rick Boucher (D-VA), Jim Bunning (R-KY) and Larry Craig (R-WY). And let's not forget to add Barack Obama to that list (D-IL).
So, yeah, coal-to-liquids is about as secure economically, ecologically and socially as, say, a bike wheel missing a bolt. It's up to us to show the coal-to-liquids people that depending on the black rock is moving backwards: America wants to move towards real security, and a just, clean energy future.
Yes, the title’s a pun, and it’s also the new project of Elizabeth Borelli, an organizer in CA. Elizabeth pulled together Step It Up Santa Cruz, a great event in a local park. Despite the rainshowers, they had a good crowd, with Santa Cruz’s mayor even willing to get wet for the cause. Jay Friedland, reporting back from the action, said, “People got to see solar panels (in the rain), think about local and global policies and just make a difference.”
Elizabeth is continuing to make a difference. Leading off from her Step It Up organizing, she has now jumped full-on into a new project called The Race Against Global Warming that will happen this coming September. Here’s a snippet about the project – a combination online forum and public event:
“The Race against Global Warming is both an actual race and an online resource center for taking action against global warming. The race is a combination a 5K foot race/non-competitive walk, and Global Warming Awareness Event, featuring live music, celebrity key note speakers, activities and information designed to demonstrate ways to address global warming all year round. The online resource center, raceagainstglobalwarming.com, offers information, a calendar of events, news and resources designed to encourage people to take steps toward reducing their emissions.”
One of the key components to Elizabeth’s organizing is tapping into the growing trend around celebrity activism—using the hip trends in an event can definitely help boost the media attraction to an organizing project. She explains, “Such events are part of a worldwide movement backed by high profile activists, politicians and business leaders aiming to reverse the effects of global warming over the next decade by offering the incentive, tools and information to help people of all age groups and backgrounds to connect to the cause.”
So bring on the cameras. The Race promises to be a great many steps forward in the fight against global warming, and true to her organizing history, Elizabeth has promised the event will go on ‘rain or shine.’
In Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York, good news for the climate abounds! Students and U.S. Senators alike are making progress for strong climate action.
New Jersey: During my daily read of the youth climate blog It's Getting Hot in Here, I learned about a citizen lobby day in New Jersey. Last month, we blogged about the New Jersey Climate March which took place April 13-16. Yesterday, the marchers followed up their action at the state capitol. They arrived in support of the Global Warming Response Act, which is making its way through the state legislature. In the words of march organizer Carlos Rymer, "If all this plays out as expected, this June the legislature will vote for passage of this important bill, setting New Jersey as the second state to have a legally-binding 80% by 2050 goal."
New York: Today's New York Times featured on excellent article about a new wind farm in the home of a former steel mill. Steel Winds, as the farm is known, will produce 20 megawatts of electricity each year, enough to power 7,000 homes. According to the project manager, Mark Mitskovski, “A community that has had difficulty moving forward has accepted a technology that leapfrogs other forms of energy generation. Decades of steel-making created this environmental legacy. But that also created the opportunity to take this fallow, contaminated land and reuse it.” Connecticut: Last week, U.S. Senator Chris Dodd, a Democratic candidate for President, announced his energy plan. A linchpin of his plan is none other than 80% carbon reductions by 2050. Here's to yet another candidate joining the race to the top for bold and comprehensive climate action!
Action Alert: for anyone that wants to join an upcoming effort concerning our country's oil consumption check out the following post from Dan Stafford of Environmental Action...
On May 29th, environmental activists are highlighting 'Dependence Day '07'. Given that the U.S. will import close to two-thirds of its oil in 2007, Dependence Day is that day each year when we effectively run out of our domestic supply and are dependent on imports for the rest of the year. Given our increasing addiction to oil, Dependence Day is happening earlier and earlier each year.
But with less than 2% of the world's remaining oil reserves, the reality is that we cannot drill our way to energy independence - we must drastically reduce our use of oil, promote clean alternative fuels, and fund more and better public transit systems.
For Dependence Day 2007, Environmental Action is putting on events in a handful of cities around the country. At these events, activists will gather for one hour to collect signatures on a petition to all presidential candidates encouraging them to support doubling our national fuel economy standard - a move that would save 900 million barrels of oil a year.
The good news is that big change is afoot politically as well. Check out a recent post on The Grist about how Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson is making some serious statements on climate change. (Check out HeatIsOn.org to see what all the candidates are up to.) He's even trying to 1-up us and shooting for 80% carbon emissions reductions by 2040! Alright!
So the political landscape is certainly shifting. But we certainly have our work cut out for us to make sure our communities and elected officials are all thinking big and taking real action to fight global warming. Our crew at Step It Up is working on all sorts of ideas for how to keep the positive momentum from April 14 and other initiatives going, and we know lots of you are too. Keep us posted on the exciting projects you're taking on any level. Onwards...
Little makes us happier than hearing about Step It Up groups continuing to work on stopping global warming in their communities. We've had the chance to talk with a lot of you for the book we've been asked to write on Step It Up. Your stories are inspirational, educational, and show how strong this movement is becoming.
The latest news comes from Nevada City, CA, where Step It Up organizers have helped form a local coalition called APPLE. Their goal: fighting global warming in their community and beyond. This Monday, they'll be hosting a forum called the "Global Cooling Cafe." Good luck guys and keep up the great work!
Perhaps you're looking to start a similar coalition in your community? There's a great, new online resource that can help you find like-minded groups in your area. It's called "WiserEarth" and was put together by big supporter of Step It Up, the innovator and activist Paul Hawken. Their site reads, "WiserEarth is a community directory and networking forum for
organizations addressing the central issues of our day: climate change,
poverty, the environment, peace, water, hunger, social justice,
conservation, human rights, and more." Check it out here.
You may have received an email from us a few weeks ago describing the recent writing project that we began shortly after April 14th and Step It Up’s national day of action. We asked for your thoughts, and the response was incredible! We had organizers, participants, and interested individuals sending us all kinds of wonderful insights. Beautiful vignettes from organizing efforts around the country came in, detailing who participated, why, and how they pulled off the incredible success that Step It Up came to be.
To all those who emailed in, a gigantic Thank You for taking the time and sharing your stories. They are proving invaluable as we piece this thing together.
We’re now in the thick of it. Bill McKibben has what seems to be a smattering of off-days here when he’s not running around giving talks and encouraging people forward with their plans to fight global warming. In between finally spending some time again with his family and writing the dozens of other pieces that are his usual load, he’s lending his authorial skills to our youthful energy and not-so-experienced writing hands. Thank goodness.
Reading the stories that came in, speaking to organizers on the phone, and piecing it all together is proving to be an invaluable part of Step It Up. Beyond the point that the anecdotes and insights that you voiced are heartening for us to read and see (that might be somewhat self-indulgent if we weren’t putting it back out for others to read), it’s a perfect way to force ourselves into a brief time for reflection and analysis. Often organizers get on the go with social change work and they just go nonstop. After a length of time without any reprieve, it’s possible for people to either get hemmed into a single way of organizing or else lose track of new developments in the world they’re trying to change.
Having this project for the month or so immediately following Step It Up has pressed the group of us (all of you who contributed included) to take another look at the broader picture. We have the necessary luxury of reassessing our situation and preparing to jump back in fresh and energized, with a better knowledge of what Step It Up accomplished. We can see what worked and what can be changed, and what is needed next.
For anyone that hasn't heard yet, the United Nation's International Panel on Climate Change released its 3rd report this past Friday, this one titled "Mitigation of Climate Change." (Click here to read the Grist's background story on what the IPCC is all about.) So the scientists of the world, after telling us how much trouble we're in, are offering a bit of advice on what we might be able to do now.
I'll let you all dive into the details on your own, but the most basic summary is that the IPCC agrees that we need to cut carbon emissions 50 to 85% below 2000 levels by 2050 -- hopefully far more -- and that doing so will cost 3% of global GDP. Not bad. We can do this thing! Right on. Alright, back to the work of getting us there -- and well beyond...
Can business and strong climate legislation coexist peacefully? Over the past year, big business has begun to put its money where its mouth is in terms of carbon reductions. Wal-Mart and Whole Foods became the largest private consumers of CFL light bulbs and carbon offsets, respectively, while hundreds of other corporations and small businesses began promoting "green" programs. But what does this mean for climate change and the US economy?
Yesterday, a couple of news stories came down the pipeline (no pun intended) that made me stare wide-eyed at the computer screen in both fear and elation. First, Citigroup, one of the largest finance banks in the world, announced that it will invest $50 billion over the next ten years into addressing climate change. A few hours later, the US Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), an environmental/industry coalition, announced that 14 new members, including Shell, Dow, GM and PepsiCo had just joined the group, which is calling for 60-80% carbon reductions and "fair" regulation.
This may all seem promising--and it is--but the details reveal the discrepancies. Citigroup is currently the top financer of oil, gas and coal exploration and drilling, and has no plans to give up the 8.7% of those markets it holds. USCAP is pushing for a cap and trade system, in which the government doles out free carbon credits to polluting corporations and then ratchets down the carbon "cap" in partnership with the companies themselves.
For me, this brings up more questions than answers. The Step It Up day of action on April 14 showed that hundreds of thousands of people around the country are in support of bold and comprehensive climate legislation. But who decides what "fair" legislation looks like, and who benefits?
With all of the recent good news in the world of climate politics, we can't forget that there's still much work to be done.
We all know that cars and trucks spew carbon--the transportation sector alone accounts for about one quarter of US carbon emissions. In a decision that would affect the regulations for tailpipe Carbon emissions for 1/3 of the US Auto Market, the EPA is considering whether or not to grant California the waiver it needs to go ahead with the law.
A public hearing is scheduled for May 22 at EPA headquarters in Washington, and public comments are being accepted until June 15. You can send comments to [email protected] or fax them to 202.343.2804.
Let him know how important it is to allow California to regulate carbon and grant them the waiver they need to fight global warming.
Ever wonder if citizen action really matters? There's no one who can
read public opinion like presidential candidates (they have armies of
pollsters), so please take it as a real tribute to your hard work that
on Thursday both Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton signed on to support
80% emissions cuts by 2050!!!! They did it quietly, signing on as
co-sponsors to the Sanders bill in the Senate which contains that goal.
We'll need them to speak out loud and clear in the months ahead to make
sure that whoever wins the White House has a mandate for big change.
But we're awfully glad that they've followed John Edwards down the 80
by 50 road. When we announced that goal in early January, people said
it was too big, too ambitious. But we knew it was what the science demanded--and now we know that, thanks to you, political reality can
change with lighting speed! Thank you all for a huge victory--and if
you want to send each of the three candidates a note thanking them,
that would probably be useful.
Click here to send a Thank You Note to Senator Clinton. Click here to send a Thank You Note to Senator Obama.
And click here to send a Thank You Note to Senator John Edwards, the candidate first out of the gate to take a bold stand for 80% Carbon Reductions by 2050.
P.S.--If they decided to push the envelope--80% by 2030 anyone?--we wouldn't complain.
People often say that without strong youth leadership, a social movement cannot succeed. And in all of our efforts to build a powerful social movement to confront climate change, we've been amazed by the successes and energy of youth leaders. Here on our blog, we've often written about the efforts of students in planning Step It Up rallies on their campuses.
Now, it's exciting to note what students are planning next to follow up on their successes on the 14th. Yesterday, I poke with Lauren Johnson, a sophomore at Siena College in New York.
Lauren planned a rally at Siena College in New York which included an activities fair for campus clubs, a presentation with speakers, and a march to the meet up with another Step it Up rally in Albany.
Now, Lauren and her friends and planning big things for the coming school year. Here are a few things coming down the line: a light bulb exchange, another April day of action with even more great speakers, and signing up her campus for the Campus Climate Challenge. Next semester is going to be amazing!
All across America, there are students like Lauren who are taking on a challenge which will define their (and my!) generation. The youth climate movement is already an inspirational force in our lives and we can't wait to watch it grow.
Action Spotlight: this piece spotlights not just 1 action -- it's about folks who were out in the streets for more than just one day. People in Massachusetts, Oregon, and New Jersey were out walking for several days, and they achieved far more than just political change...
Our crew has spent much of the last few months sitting behind computers and phones helping to facilitate Step It Up across the country. It's been a tremendously exciting process, though certainly a bit bizarre to know most of you through digital and tele-communications alone. It was certainly not our love for keyboards and screens that originally inspired us to participate in organizing part of this movement. Rather, it was the incredible experience of connecting with friends and neighbors in a local setting that really got us going.
One such experience that dramatically shaped our vision of the potential for community collective action and inspired us to help facilitate more such efforts all across the country was the 5 day walk across Vermont that we helped organize last Labor Day weekend. The numbers of Vermonters that attended (over 1,000 on the final day) and the political outcomes of the walk (all VT political candidates signed a pledge committing to 80% carbon emissions reductions by 2050) were truly inspiring. But equally important to us, was the incredible sense of community that we all experienced over those 5 days of walking.
There's something about walking -- mile after mile, day after day, passing through farms, towns, and all kinds of weather conditions, moving together with shared hopes and visions for a more just world -- that brings people together in stronger and more meaningful ways than just about any other experience.
It's been incredible uplifting to hear countless stories from all kinds of Step It Up actions -- rallies, concerts, film screenings, hikes, and more -- where the spirit of hope and positive change were a dramatic and exciting element of the day. April 14 was a extraordinary day all across the country. It was particularly exciting to hear about two 4 day walks that took place in conjunction with April 14 Step It Up actions. In Oregon and in New Jersey groups dedicated multiple days walking, building community, and calling for action. Just weeks earlier in Massachusetts there was also an 8 day interfaith walk for climate rescue that drew over 1,300 people to a rally in Boston on the final day. And from everyone involved with these actions we hear much the same thing -- the sense of community, the new friendships, or even the spiritual fulfillment of walking together is a profound personal and collective experience just as noteworthy as the political impact of the action.
Click here to watch an inspiring speech by Bill McKibben at the commencement of the Massachusetts walk in March.
Step It Up, with it's web-based, national synchronization allowed folks to both act and connect with their local communities, while simultaneously participate in a powerful national action calling for necessary federal action on climate change.
Now, as the movement continues on in new and creative ways, there will certainly be more calls to join in national initiatives that we can be part of. But I hope you all get the chance to get out and walk, or bike, hike, sail, canoe -- just move -- with your friends and neighbors in ways that will create positive change.
As we look to the future, and consider the 2008 elections, let's examine how building a green economy from the ground up can actually address more problems than just climate change.
Our friends at the Apollo Alliance, in association with Urban Habitat, released a report yesterday entitled Community Jobs in the Green Economy that details the ways in which the green revolution can and must be an equitable revolution. Their vision is of a green economy that benefits all Americans and is strong enough to lift people out of poverty.
The report goes on to detail how increasing investment in energy efficiency, clean energy and other climate neutral technologies can create thousands upon thousands of high-skill, well-paying jobs for people in low income communities. Though they show that the renewable sector may create more jobs than the fossil fuel industry, it will take leadership and forethought to include all communities and constituencies in the new green economy.
Like the diverse communities that took part in Step It Up 2007 events on April 14th, the coming green economy must provide benefits and jobs to all Americans. As Van Jones, an author of the report and President of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights writes, "The only question is: do we have the political will to make government support the transition--and the moral commitment to ensure that the new 'green wave' in fact 'lifts all boats?'"
As premature as it may seem, the 2008 Presidential Race is already picking up some serious speed. That means we’re in for 18+ solid months of stump-speeches, fundraising, and relentless media coverage of most mundane developments of these high-profile campaigns. For climate activists, these 18 months are a golden opportunity to create a groundswell of political advocacy.
Way back in 2004, global warming was barely a blip on the radar screen of the Presidential Race. But it’s clear that we’re now in a new era of awareness and empowerment. Recognizing the need for a true “climate president,” a number groups and projects are making it their business to GUARANTEE that on January 20, 2009, America will proudly inaugurate a President with a bold, science-based, comprehensive plan for tackling global warming. One such project is “The Heat is On” which declares that its focus is “Making Global Warming a Presidential Priority.” Targeting voters, donors, and the media, The Heat is On has a savvy plan to shape the debate.
And here’s the good news: thanks to the countless individuals helping out with these collaborative projects (Step It Up, The Heat is On, Climate Summer, What's Your Plan etc), we are already having an effect on the role global warming will play in the 2008 Race. Need proof? Just check out the video below, in which many the major Democratic candidates talk about their plans to take on climate change. Watch it and you’ll see: we’ve got a long way to go and 18 months to get there, but there’s not a doubt in my mind that we can define the terms of this debate—we already are.
Posted by Jeremy Osborn and Amy McCarthy on April 30th, 2007
Back in January, we posted a blog about Forrest McCarthy's plan to climb Gannett Peak, Wyoming's tallest mountain, and ski down the shrinking Dinwoody glacier on its face to draw attention to the need for federal action on global warming. The idea was to both draw attention through a dramatic and adventurous action as well as point to local concerns. In his earlier blog post here, Forrest said, "People engaged in agriculture in the Wind River Valley to the east
rely on the glaciers for irrigation during the dry summer months. [The glaciers']
disappearance will have significant economic and social impacts to the
residents of Wyoming’s Wind River Valley.
That is why we’re acting now."
Plans were in place, their reasoning sound, and the only real concerns the group had were media and the weather. As you might be able to tell from these photos, however, the latter concern was not a problem. Forrest noted that it was unseasonably cold in the beginning of the trip, but the skies remained clear enough for these fantastic shots and a safe and successful hike up and ski down. The caption to this shot on the left from their Jackson Hole News and Guide article reads:
"In front of a landscape formed by glaciers, Amy McCarthy and her canine companion, Wister, get first tracks Saturday past the Gooseneck Pinnacle on Gannett Peak. The glaciers and associated snowfields here a re shrinking to the point that some climbing guides shun trips up Gannett in August, fearing dangerous talus slopes once cemented by snow. NEWS&GUIDE PHOTO / ANGUS M. THUERMER JR."
In addition to the breathtaking photos, check out Amy McCarthy's report back on the event, detailing some of the adventure, success (even climbing companionship) with the media, and a group of 7th graders who were part of the team. Thanks again to the whole Gannett crew who made this beautiful plan for adventure a reality.
A group of concerned ski mountaineers really STEPPED IT UP on Saturday...all the way to the top of Wyoming's high point (Gannett Peak, 13,804'). The group of six climbers/skiers were joined by the editor of the Jackson Hole News & Guide, as well as a reporter for Wyoming Public Radio for this four-day expedition. The group is from Jackson Hole and they began their journey on 4/12 with a carpool of 8 people (plus one uber-mountain-mutt), including skis, food, backpacks, and camping gear packed into two vehicles.
Departing from the Trail Lake Trailhead in Dubois, WY, the group hiked and skied 25 miles (50 miles round-trip) into the basin where the Dinwoody Glacier is in retreat. Establishing two camps along the way, on Saturday morning the group departed from their high camp at 6:30 a.m. to make an ascent of Gannett peak, skiing both the Gooseneck and Dinwoody Glaciers down.
Upon the summit, we displayed our banner created by a group of engaged 7th grade students from Jackson Hole Middle School who call themselves the "Global Warming Hero League." They are on the path to bring about the change encouraged by Step It Up! We were proud to hold their banner on Wyoming's high point.
After some snacks and photos upon this Wind River summit, we descended via skis down the glacier to establish our last camp along the frozen Dinwoody Creek, each vowing to Step It Up, so that there will continue to be glaciers to ski down and to provide water and beauty for centuries to come.
OK, so I know we blog about Vermont a lot. But our hometown of Burlington turned out in a BIG way for Step It Up on April 14th. Check the YouTube video below for a 3-minute, action-packed report on the day's festivities. And many thanks to everyone in Burlington who made it happen, with a special tip of the hat to the indefatigable Katey Gordon. You all are amazing.
After a couple exhilarating weeks of adventuring through busy DC life as we wrapped up the national coordination process for April 14, our headquarters crew has been settling back home in our Burlington offices in Vermont. It's a treat to be back in this gorgeous state -- a state that turned out in a truly BIG was for April 14. With a population of just 600,000 there still ended up being over 60 actions in the state with hundreds and hundreds of participants at many of the actions. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) joined a total of 4 of those actions over the course of the day, and numerous other state and local officials were involved.
Furthermore, now a group of students in the state, members of the Middlebury College Sunday Night Group, have organized a 40-mile bike ride from Burlington to Montpelier to deliver the photos from Step It Up actions from around the state. The excitement continues!
So aside from taking a day to bike with our friends and neighbors to the state capital, our crew is still taking it all in, following through with all the plans to take the message straight to Congress, and commencing our work on a book project. We greatly appreciate all the feedback we've already received from folks. And if you have more ideas about interesting, effective, and meaningful organizing experiences, by all means send us a note to [email protected] with the subject line "book."
And as soon as this book is wrapped up, well...this movement is just getting going...
Posted by The Step It Up Organizing Team on April 26th, 2007
We've gotten a lot of amazing media coverage in the last couple of weeks--Step It Up really grabbed our nation's attention. And just when we thought the excitement was starting to die down, NBC and Brian Williams decided to come along and run a piece about everyone's amazing efforts across the country on April 14th, the National Day of Climate Action. Check it out in the video below:
Way back on April 13th, 2007 (all of 13 days ago), the National Day of Climate Action was officially launched in New Orleans. The first event was a smashing success--in the city that "tells the story of climate change better than any other" people kicked off Step It Up in fine style. Director of the Gulf Restoration Network Aaron Viles posts this guest blog:
That’s the collective sigh of a dozen organizers who made the SAVE NOLA – STOP GLOBAL WARMING – STEP IT UP kickoff happen. We had a brass band (hear Soul Rebels on myspace here) We had speakers from the National Sierra Club President Lisa Renstrom, to NOLA’s city council President Oliver Thomas. We had 200 people in bright red t-shirts (and 300 hundred disgruntled folks who wanted a bright red t-shirt) sitting on the levee in the lower 9th ward, the levees that we rely on to protect our city from two of the biggest climate change impacts, sea level rise and increased storm severity. What each element had in common was our call for action. It was said again and again in the speeches we heard, and said again in the words we spelled on the levee.
In the city that tells the story of climate change impacts better than any other, and in the city where some of the best global warming solutions are being put in place as we recover from Katrina, we can’t wait any longer. We were honored and excited to kick off the event, the moment that we believe will spark a movement.
While we were the first event, I think we were also the first event to get our message directly to our target (and I’m not talking about the coverage on Saturday’s Good Morning America, though that was cool). This afternoon I was at a convening of the Gulf Coast Recovery fund and saw Senator Mary Landrieu in the hotel lobby! Senator Landrieu has supported minimal action on climate change in the past (the Carper Bill) but hasn’t cosponsored ANY of the climate change legislation currently flooding the Senate. I grabbed my computer, sat down on at her table and fired up our slide show. She saw the speakers, the crowd, and the money shot of 200 of her constituents spelling out STEP IT UP on our levees. The message was to her, and I was able to get it to her immediately. She committed to support capping carbon emissions, acknowledging that voluntary measures won’t cut it. I urged her on behalf of the 500 attendees at the rally, the 15 organizations that cosponsored it, and the IPCC report that names the Louisiana coast as the most at risk area in the continental U.S. to climate change impacts to support legislation that does what we need: cut carbon 80% by 2050.
I know she heard me say it, let’s keep pushing to make sure she hears all you too!
We've already asked you for a lot of help to pull off Step It Up—and now we're going to ask again, this time for your help with thinking both about the past and the future.
Here's the deal: Times Books, a New York publisher, was so impressed with how Step It Up came out that they've asked us to write a quick, small book about organizing against global warming. (The profits, if there are any, will go to support continuing efforts in the climate movement). Because you guys know how the organizing actually got done out in the field, we want to make this a collaborative project. It would be truly helpful if you could send us some stories and anecdotes about the organizing process—here are a few broad questions to guide your responses:
- What did you find most fulfilling about organizing your action? - What were your best strategies for: attracting media, getting supporters, securing permits, diffusing opposition? - What were the biggest challenges in your organizing experience? What might you do differently if you were to do this again? - What sort of relationships and alliances did you develop while organizing your action?
Now future. We've been hearing from all kinds of people with the same question: What next? We've got some ideas we're kicking around here at the headquarters, but in the spirit of collaboration we'd like to open the questions up to you all:
- What, if anything, does the future hold for continuing local action with the group you put together for Step It Up?
- Do you have ideas for coordinated, national initiatives as we move forward?
We want your work to serve as many other people as possible—so e-mail your responses to [email protected] with the subject line: "Book."
And could we say thank you one more time? Now that we've caught up on our sleep just a little, what you all accomplished on April 14 seems even more remarkable and unlikely. This is just the beginning...
Posted by The Step It Up Organizing Team on April 25th, 2007
On April 14th, Bill McKibben, the Step It Up Organizing Team, Frances Beinecke of NRDC, Lisa Renstrom of the Sierra Club and others spoke to a group of over 500 legislative staffers, environmental leaders and Step It Up Washington DC participants. The 40-minute event was webcast for all to see, and here it is again.
Wisconsin produced some of our country's greatest environmentalists, from writer Aldo Leopold to Earth Day organizer Gaylord Nelson. On April 14, the state lived up to its tradition with a number of fantastic Step It Up actions: Greenbay, Ashland, Fort Atkinson, Eagle River, Hudson, and more came in with nearly one hundred people each. People who assume that concern over global warming is limited to the coasts should take a closer look.
One action that we were especially excited about was an event organized by the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters and Clean Wisconsin. On the 14th, over 80 people from Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin showed up at the Sinsinawa Mound Center for a day-long conference on global warming and water issues. Speakers included Jon Foley, director of UW-Madison's Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE) and co-chair of Governor Doyle's Task Force on Global Warming and Mike Tidwell, author, filmmaker and director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.
Global warming is a problem that poses many challenges and water issues are some of the most important. From keeping it clean in Wisconsin to keeping it around in western states, the struggle to protect our nation's water is closely linked to the fight to stop global warming. It's encouraging to see citizens taking the issue up in their community.
One of the conference attendees, Will, reports, "There was great energy from participants and people left motivated to Step It Up and take action in their own lives and push their legislators to Step It Up and take action in Washington, DC."
Posted by The Step It Up Organizing Team on April 23rd, 2007
We can't keep up with all the exciting reports we're getting from 'round the country -- keep 'em coming. Of course you can check out all the inspiring photos here on our website searching by zip code or using the map above, or you can check out thousands of photos on a Flickr slide show. When we can, we'll keep posting exciting clips here on our blog, along with other news and information.
For now, check out the video of the incredible speech by 12-year-old, Tiffany Cordero, at the New York City action in Battery Park...
Posted by The Step It Up Organizing Team on April 22nd, 2007
Earth Day holds a special place in all of our hearts, here at Step It Up headquarters. One of the major reasons is thanks to a member of our crew, Jamie Henn, who was finishing up his undergraduate thesis at Middlebury College up until April 8. His topic? Earth Day 1970. He had to do a lot of stepping it up to finish it in time to share the big day! Thanks to his research, we were constantly hearing historical tidbits about the first Earth Day while we worked with all of you on Step It Up.
We'd like to give a quick shout out to our friends at the Earth Day Network, working hard to keep the spirit strong, and finding news ways to include people in the Earth Day message.
We'd also like to dedicate this blog post to Senator Gaylord Nelson, pictured here, who spearheaded the first Earth Day. He'd be proud to know that there were many incredible Step It Up actions throughout Wisconsin (check out the action reports to see photos from Viroqua, Madison, Hazel Green, and Menomonie), the state he represented.
The great photos keep coming in, one after another! In this shot, we see a crew of intrepid souls about to jump into the cold water of Lake Oswego, in Oregon, as part of Focus the Nation's Polar Bear Plunge.
A photo from this action, and ALL actions, was delivered yesterday in Washington, D.C. We walked along the marble halls of the U.S. Capitol office buildings with envelopes in hand, going door to door to every single Senator's and Congressperson's office. We felt exhilarated and extremely proud to deliver all of the photos, and we know you'll feel the same way when you deliver your photo to your local district office.
If you haven't checked in a while, look at all the action reports--it's truly amazing. You can also check out the sites that some of our friends and allies have put together with Step It Up photos and videos: Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club.
We had high expectations for Seattle, WA. It's been a progressive city when it comes to climate change for a long time and has lead some great initiatives in the past. But we had no idea Seattle would Step It Up in such a major way - - thousands marched through the city last weekend, making it one of our largest events!
We think the major rally in Seattle might have a little to do with our friends and tremendous allies over at Grist.org. They've helped all of us from the very start, keeping us up to date on the latest climate news and spreading the word about Step It Up. Thanks guys, you truly are a "beacon in the smog"!
Check out the fantastic audio slideshow of the movement in Seattle and around the country that Grist put together on their website. Over the next few days and weeks, we'll be brainstorming different artistic ways of arranging the photos from the 14th: collages, videos, montages, flipbooks, you name it. If you've got an idea, go for it and tell us about your creation! Step It Up was a beautiful occasion in every meaning of the word and we'd love to find new ways to share it with the world.
Posted by The Step It Up Organizing Team on April 18th, 2007
Yesterday, eight youth walked into a US House office building and sat down in a meeting of a subcommittee on Natural Resources. We were perhaps a little less well-dressed, and a little less politically suave than our fellow attendees, but we had the words, deeds, and photos of all of you behind us. We were there to support Bill McKibben, who testified for the US House on the outstanding events of this past weekend.
Bill was in fine style. In a panel of incredibly intelligent scientists, Bill answered many questions of the Representatives regarding the rapidly changing political landscape. He began with the words, “Thank you very much for the opportunity to testify before this committee, and for the chance to share with you some very fresh evidence of Americans’ passion for taking strong action on global warming.” That evidence is YOU, and the strong, united voice of all of the actions calling on Congress to Step It Up and cut carbon 80% by 2050. You can check out his written statement here.
Many of the Representatives were receptive, thanking us and all of you for our hard work, and recognizing that real action on global warming means 80% by 2050 at the least. This is an amazing change from even a few months ago! Step It Up has already made an impact, but we want to make sure every member of Congress hears our voice.
We’re working hard to deliver your photos on the Hill in the few last days we’re in DC, and we’ll soon be in touch about how you can do the same in representatives’ home districts – your communities.
Posted by The Step It Up Organizing Team on April 17th, 2007
April 14 was a remarkable success -- a truly historic day. But now is our moment, and the movement is just taking off...
As you read this, the energy of Step It Up is still being carried forward and we’re all taking the message right to Congress. Just this morning (Tuesday April 17) our crew had the honor of joining Bill McKibben as he delivered the Step It Up message to cut carbon 80% by 2050 in person to the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources in Washington D.C. So we now know the conversation has begun on “the hill.”
Members of the committee opened folders containing the images from actions that occurred in their home districts. And sure enough, they were excited to hear from Bill about rising voice of Americans calling for real action on climate change. 80% by 2050 was, in fact, rolling off their tongues at times (though we've got a ways to go before we get full political commitments). The times are changing...
And the photo delivery efforts will go on… The Earth Day On the Hill and NRDC are both helping deliver all the remarkable photos you see in the report backs to each and every member of Congress in DC. Furthermore, every organizer that participated in Step It Up will soon be receiving their action photo in the mail. Now, we encourage everyone involved to set up meetings with all your members of Congress (or their staff) in their home districts, and let them know about the incredible movement we are all building, demanding real political action to cut carbon 80% by 2050.
Soon -- maybe, just maybe, we'll hear exciting news of legislation really moving in Congress. So we've stepped it up. Now we need to keep it up, and take our message to Congress in every way we can, energized by the power of our united efforts on April 14.
And as these photo delivery efforts go on, there are certainly numerous more steps to take to step up this movement. So check out some of the next steps for the climate movement, and let's keep moving...
Posted by Step It Up Team & Amy McCarthy on April 17th, 2007
So many beautiful actions on Saturday across the country from the streets of our towns and cities to the summits of some of our nation's highest peaks. Below is a report from Amy McCarthy on her group's four day expedition on Gannett Peak, highlighting the threat global warming poses to glaciers and our recreational passions. Thanks for all the inspiration!
A group of concerned ski mountaineers really STEPPED IT UP on Saturday...all the way to the top of Wyoming's high point (Gannett Peak, 13,804'). The group of six climbers/skiers were joined by the editor of the Jackson Hole News & Guide, as well as a reporter for Wyoming Public Radio for this four-day expedition. The group is from Jackson Hole and they began their journey on 4/12 with a carpool of 8 people(plus one uber-mountain-mutt), including skis, food, backpacks, and camping gear packed into two vehicles. Departing from the Trail Lake Trailhead in Dubois, WY, the group hiked and skied 25 miles (50 miles round-trip) into the basin where the Dinwoody Glacier is in retreat. Eastablishing two camps along the way, on Saturday morning, the group departed from their high camp at 6:30 a.m. to make an ascent of Gannett peak, skiing both the Gooseneck and Dinwoody Glaciers down. Upon the summit, we displayed our banner created by a group of engaged 7th grade students from Jackson Hole Middle School who call themselves the "Global Warming Hero League." They are on the path to bring about the change encouraged by Step It Up! We were proud to hold their banner on Wyoming's high point. After some snacks and photos upon this Wind River summit, we descended via skis down the glacier to establish our last camp along the frozen Dinwoody Creek, each vowing to Step It Up, so that there will continue to be glaciers to ski down and to provide water and beauty for centuries to come.
Dotcommodity, over at DailyKos, has put together a fantastic photo montage of the day. Let's not forget the excitement of Saturday, folks--this compilation really gets across the diversity of actions we had around the country--go check it out. Thank you all for all that you've done.
Isn't that an incredible slideshow? We here at Step It Up headquarters can't stop staring at it. In the midst of doing that, however, we're preparing another BIG PUSH--the delivery of all of these photos to Congress.
In the coming days, in connection with the Earth Day Network, we're delivering all of these photos to Capitol Hill. Each U.S. Senator will receive a copy of every photo taken in his or her state, and each U.S. Representative will receive a copy of each photo from his or her district.
In addition to that, we're mailing all of our organizers two copies of the photo from their action: one for them to keep, and another to deliver to the national legislator of their choice.
Posted by The Step It Up Organizing Team on April 16th, 2007
These amazing student activists over in Oregon stepped it up to new heights up on the slopes of Mt. Hood. They are part of the Campus Climate Challenge and the growing youth climate movement -- read dispatches from the youth climate movement on the Its Getting Hot In Here blog. Check out their exciting expedition video...
If you're short of things to do today, try entering "Step It Up" and 2007 into Google News. What you'll find is many hundreds of articles, page after page, of stories.
The point is not simply to boast about the great coverage (though we're not above that). It's to see how effectively your case has been made in just the places we most need it to be made. We told you all about the coverage we were getting in the Times and on the Evening News, but the most important press in is in regional and small town daily and weekly newspapers, on the local news, on your area's radio stations. That's what Congressional offices pay attention to, because they know that's where the people who vote to elect them get their news.
And if there are online versions of local media coverage for your action that we might not know about, please share it with us by emailing [email protected].
Your actions were heard across the nation, indeed around the world (BBC World Service carried great audio from several rallies). But most importantly they were heard in your neck of the woods. Thanks so much!
I have a new hobby: scrolling through the action reports that groups around the country submitted after Step It Up Saturday.
From Juneau, Alaska (a rally near the retreating Mendenhall Glacier) to Key West, Fla. (scuba divers holding underwater banners in front of a coral reef), from a contra dance in Belfast, Maine, to an interfaith gathering on Waikiki Beach, people have been posting accounts and pictures of more than 1,400 demonstrations large and small around the country. It's simply lovely to read them, and to realize that each one means many people worked hard and passionately to get something going about climate change. That's what a movement is, and now there is one around global warming.
I started Saturday under bright blue skies in downtown Manhattan, where Ben Jervey and a big crew of helpers assembled a "sea of people" clad in blue to show where the new tide line will someday fall around the Battery. And I ended the day in Washington, D.C., where a big crew of people gathered to "watch the returns" -- 20-foot high images of the pictures flooding in from around the country.
It was a great day -- but incredibly frustrating, since I wanted to be above the waterfall in Spokane, Wash., and in the park in downtown Boise, Idaho, where a thousand people gathered, and in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., where lines of people marked the new storm-surge boundaries. I would have given anything to be up high on Whiteface Mountain in my beloved Adirondacks, or anywhere in my Green Mountain State, where dozens of rallies large and small took place. Or at the Community Christian Church in Kansas City, Mo., where 500 gathered inside to avoid a driving rain, or Gig Harbor, Wash., where a flotilla of people-powered boats spread the message, or Brunswick, Maine, where 400 rallied at Bowdoin College to hear Rep. Tom Allen. I would have loved to go to Carlsbad, Calif., and hear Ralph Keeling tell the story of his how father Charles did the groundbreaking science more than 50 years ago that helped to prove carbon was gathering in the atmosphere, or to Baldwin Beach in Maui, where people spelled out their demands with their bodies, and to Lenox, Mass., to hear the festival of rappers. What I would have given to have been at Middlebury College, where all of this began, and where students started April 14 with a midnight flashlight-powered gathering. And what fun it would have been to be in my hometown, Lexington, Mass., to watch my mother reading a speech to, among others, Rep. Edward Markey, new chair of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.
Posted by The Step It Up Organizing Crew on April 15th, 2007
For weeks we’ve been writing you, asking you to do more: call reporters, call Congressional schedulers, make banners. We’ll ask you to do a few more such tasks in the week ahead, but today all we really want is for you to accept our deepest thanks and bask in the satisfaction of a job well done.
By any measure yesterday was an enormous success. Turnout, press coverage, involvement by politicians—all exceeded our wildest expectations. You can see for yourself at our website and indeed all over the web.
But here’s what charmed us the most: One action report after another from around the country used words like ‘thrilling,’ ‘exciting,’ ‘over-the-moon.’ It seemed as if the, well, climate couldn’t have been better. That’s you guys—that’s all the amazing energy you brought to something that you couldn’t have ever known would turn out to be such a success. We like solar, we like wind—but we like people power best of all! Thanks so much from all of us.
Bill McKibben, Jamie Henn, Will Bates, May Boeve, Phil Aroneanu, Robbie Adler, Jeremy Osborn, and Jon Warnow
Here at Step It Up we believe that a 21st-century low-carbon economy holds the promise of millions of new jobs. We love to hear about businesses that, rather than financial hardship, see economic opportunity in the fight against climate change. Through classic American entrepeneurship and innovation, America can lead the way in transitioning away from the 20th-century fossil-fuel-driven economy.
That's why we were happy to see a business like this start in our own backyard: Bright Planet, founded by two of our Middlebury classmates and a professor close to all of our hearts, Jon Isham.
In solidarity with Step It Up 2007, Bright Planet has launched its website, this weekend after participating in the Middlebury action. Bright Planet is developing new ways for people to be part of the solution to climate change. With their first product, a standard credit card, you earn carbon offsets (purchased according to a public policy) instead of airline miles. It's a good first step for people to work on reducing their carbon footprint, and along with some basic conservation measures, it can put carbon neutrality within reach.
There are so many emerging green businesses and organizations that reflect the same creativity and belief in a more sustainable future that all of you demonstrated yesterday in your actions. Let us move forward on all fronts to achieve this dream of a cleaner and stronger country.
Posted by Step It Up Organizing Crew on April 14th, 2007
Global warming protests begin Saturday
By Verena Dobnik, Associated Press Writer | April 14, 2007
NEW YORK --Americans worried about climate change
gathered Saturday on ski slopes and in cities for a nationwide day of
demonstrations aimed at drawing attention to global warming.
More than 1,300 events were organized in every state under the
banner Step It Up 2007 to push Congress to require an 80 percent cut in
carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.
"When it comes to global warming, I don't exactly think President
Bush is doing such a hot job," said 12-year-old New Yorker Tiffany
Cordero. "A lot of people are thinking just of now. But we won't have a
'now' if we don't focus on the future."
Tiffany delivered a speech for a rally in lower Manhattan's Battery
Park, overlooking New York Harbor, where people dressed in blue -- some
equipped with scuba gear and beach balls -- gathered to form a Sea of
People human line to symbolically mark New York's future coastline.
Scientists say melting polar ice caps and glaciers will cause ocean
levels to rise, although estimates vary. The Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change has projected that ocean levels will rise 7 to 23 inches
this century, but other scientists warn the sea level could rise 10
feet or more, enough to flood Lower Manhattan and other low-lying
The threatened rise in the ocean also was dramatized by a New Coast
Parade in Portland, Maine, one of more than 30 observances in that
state. "The most important things that we have a responsibility to do
in government are to prepare our children for a bright future and to
preserve and protect our natural resources," Maine Gov. John Baldacci
told a gathering in Portland.
The nationwide events were spearheaded by a group of recent
graduates from Vermont's Middlebury College, who organized a campaign
of blogs, e-mail messages and word of mouth communications.
"We see this to be the most pressing issue of our time, and our
generation," said Will Bates, 23, one of six former Middlebury students
who helped organize the event with author Bill McKibben, a scholar in
residence at the college and among the first to write about global
warming, in his 1989 book "The End of Nature."
In Chicago's Daley Plaza, about 500 people listened to speeches from
a panel of environmental experts who called for a reduction in carbon
dioxide emissions. The crowd also waved signs exclaiming "Step it up
Although things are winding down on the East Coast, we're still getting actions streaming in from around the country. Over the course of the day we have gotten photos from almost every state - - we're still waiting for some reports, but we're sure they're coming in. In all, the actions look amazing. They have exceeded our expectations both in their distribution and the number of people who have attended. Simply put, they are incredible.
Here in Washington, D.C. the energy is palpable. We have been getting calls from national and international media all day: everyone wants a piece of this story. We're also hearing reports that a good number of Senators and Congressman attended rallies around the country. We'll be working hard over the next few days to make sure that every member of Congress hears our call: "Step It Up, Congress: Cut Carbon 80% by 2050!"
But the real work is happening on the ground, all across the country. To all our organizers: You have done an amazing job and have so much to proud of! To everyone who took part in action: Thank you for being part of a historic day.
And to Congress: Step It Up! Thousands and thousands of people have spoken today, thousands more will speak before the sun sets on the West coast. And the message is clear: the time for action is now.
Posted by Step It Up Organizing Crew on April 14th, 2007
As the day goes on, we are hearing great Step It Up success stories from around the country. You all are amazing! This day has already been an incredible triumph and it is only getting better as more and more photos stream in.
Here are some quick reports:
In Littleton, MA, families gathered at a park for games popcorn, and a walk in the woods. There was a Recycling Relay Race and, of course, the bubble machine was a big hit.
We got a great picture from Ucross, WY of a group of locals and friends infront of a sign that reads "Ucross: Population 25." Looks like nearly the whole town is Stepping It Up!
And in Boulder, CO, under perfect Colorado blue sky, more than 400 people gathered to march from Scott Carpenter Park to downtown Boulder.
Check out all the reports in our "April 14 Action Reports" section by clicking here.
This is truly a historic day. The photos we are receiving are beauitful and powerful images of a country ready for change. And right at the center of each picture is the exact message that our government needs to hear: "Step It Up, Congress: Cut Carbon 80% by 2050!" And they will hear it. For those of you still at actions, keep up the incredible work. This movement is growing by the hour!
Posted by Step It Up Organizing Crew on April 14th, 2007
Step It Up actions are streaming in from around the country and our message is already being heard by elected officials!
In an official press release, Vermont Congressman Peter Welch says:
"The activism demonstrated by Step It Up events across Vermont and the nation serves as an inspiration for me and a reminder to elected leaders around the country that Americans are serious about taking meaningful action to combat climate change. I am proud of the role Vermonters are playing in stepping up and providing the necessary and urgent leadership to tackle this critical issue."
And in York, PA, Mayor John S. Brenner has declared today as "National Day of Climate Action." In an official mayoral proclamation he writes:
"I encourage all citizens to support a new clean energy revolution, which will benefit workers across the globe and protect both their ability to provide for their families and the long-term health of the environment."
It's not even noon on the East Coast and Step It Up is already turning out to be a tremendous success. Keep up the great work, keep those photos coming, and by the end of the day Congress will definitely have heard our message!
Posted by Step It Up Organizing Crew on April 14th, 2007
The big day is here! It's just morning here on the East Coast and already pictures are beginning to stream in from around the country. And it looks amazing.
Step It Up has already exceeded every one of our expectations thus far and today is no exception. It's impossible to tell how many people are involved in a distributed action like this, but we're confident that if we brought us all together it would be enough to fill the Washington Mall three or four times over.
But instead, we are everywhere across America. Late last night, we got a report of over 500 people demonstrating in New Orleans where participants spelled out "Step It Up" with their bodies. A photo came in from Belfast, ME early this morning from a contra dance the night before: a large "Step It Up" banner was hung over the band.
If you are having trouble loading the slide show above (sometimes it takes a rather speedy internet connection), don't worry! There are pictures streaming in from every corner of the nation.
From all of us here at headquarters, a profound thank you! You all have made this day so much more powerful than we ever thought possible. And guess what? It's just begun . . .
One of the coolest, largest, and most creative actions promises to be The Sea of People in New York City. Beginning with a mass rally at Battery Park at Noon, they'll go on to create an interactive art installation in lower Manhattan. The Sea Of People will take over Lower Manhattan along a 10-foot elevation line or “future sea level” zone —and they need every New Yorker's help to make this line a powerful visual statement. New Yorkers: WEAR BLUE, bring bubbles, scuba gear, beach balls, etc. Have fun with it!
Posted by Step It Up Organizing Team on April 13th, 2007
Step It Up is already underway, with actions beginning to take place around the country. And, guess what? It's amazing. The extent, the depth, and the power of this day is already beyond what we ever could have expected. For all of you who have been working for months on your actions: congratulations. Tomorrow, no matter what happens, is going to be incredible.
If you're not planning on going to an action tomorrow, plan again! You can still join up: just search here for a local action on our website. And if you are going, fantastic. Make sure to check back to our website to see photos from around the country. We'll also be blogging about events throughout the day.
Another great place to check out live updates from Step It Up is on the official blog of the youth climate movement: ItsGettingHotInHere.org.
If you're a young person or want to learn more about the growing movement on campuses, check out the IGHIH blog tomorrow and beyond. But most important, get off your computers and out into the streets, parks, mountains, and streams of this country!
A great day, with far more press coverage and hoopla than we could ever have hoped for. And for me, the incredible pleasure of getting to talk on the phone with organizers in places like Tucson, and Seattle, and Los Angeles. They were doing a great job of describing for reporters their plans for tomorrow, but what I kept hearing was how much they’d already accomplished: the coalitions built in one town after another, the connections made with politicians and businesspeople, and the deep sense that progress was up to us. That the fate of this struggle didn’t rest in someone else’s hands—that we’d figured out we could take the lead.
I know that tonight and tomorrow will bring lots of work—from last minute phone calls to setting up tables to leading songs to cleaning up afterwards. But I have just one additional request: whatever happens in your city or town tomorrow, enjoy! One of the great beauties of this nationwide design is, if it’s raining where you are, know that it’s shining somewhere else. Every one of these gatherings, large and small, is an enormous triumph: if reporters ask, tell them how good it feels to know that people in every state in the union are doing just what you’re doing today.
Beginning tonight, as our brothers and sisters in New Orleans remind us why we need so badly to be doing this work, we’re all of a small part of something big and lovely. I can’t wait to see every picture from tomorrow. Don’t forget to smile!
Posted by Step It Up Organizing Crew on April 13th, 2007
With only eight hours left until April 14th, Step It Up is skyrocketing! Actions have already begun around the country. The Rainforest Action Network
is hosting events today in Boston, New York, Houston, Fort Worth, Detroit,
Sarasota, and more to stop banks from funding climate change. In New
Orleans, demonstrators are walking down to the levees to send their
message to Congress: this is what is at stake, it's time for serious
And with Step it Up about to go into full force, our movement and message is making headlines around the world. Just over an hour ago, we were picked up by the Associated Press and are now featured in (get ready): CNN,
MSNBC, Good Morning America, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The
Guardian, Seattle Post Intelligencer, Houston Chronicle, Detroit Free
Press, San Francisco Chronicle, The Register Mail, Worcester Telgram,
Charlotte Observer, and many, many more.
Back in January,
in a letter on our website, Bill McKibben wrote, "Help us start a
movement." You have done that and so much more. Here in Washington,
Congress is beginning to feel the heat. Tomorrow,
with your help, we're going to amp up the pressure even more.
Posted by Step it Up Organizing Team on April 13th, 2007
Talk about climate action! The latest weather reports are telling us it's likely to be a stormy day in most of the country on Saturday. We've gotten some reports of snow in the Northeast and hail down in Texas (hail! in april! in texas!). Not exactly the sunny skies we had hoped for, but we're not going to let it slow us down.
In fact, let's Step It Up even more this Saturday, no matter the conditions! When you're heading out to your event, make sure to check the forecast and bring along the appropriate outfit for the weather: an umbrella, raincoat, or balaclava if necessary. And just think, no matter where you are, there will be people all across the country braving all sorts of conditions to bring their message to congress - - some of them will even be underwater (you can't get much wetter than that) and up on glaciers (talk about cold)!
And if we all Step It Up on Saturday, then on Sunday we can curl up on the couch with a blanket, cup of hot chocolate, and a computer to watch the images from around the country cascade across the front of our website. It's going to be a beautiful and powerful display, and well worth the effort, no matter the weather.
So pull out an umbrella if you need to, and let's do this!
Posted by Step It Up Organizing Crew on April 13th, 2007
Our organizers in Seattle just forwarded on this press release they've issued about the massive demonstration happening there. Great work team! Remember, organizers, now is the time to be following up with the media and making sure that they are set on attending your rally. You all have been doing amazing work so far, we're getting coverage around the country, but with your help, we'll get even more in the next few days.
SEATTLE – Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth recently won an Oscar at the first climate-neutral Academy Awards. Amajor Seattle event this Saturday, April 14, provides a convenient way to take action to reduce global warming. The event, Step It Up! Seattle: ACall for Global Warming Solutions, is one of thousands across the country that will “spread the message of hope and optimism that we can and will meet the threat of global warming,” said KC Golden of Climate Solutions, one of many organizations planning local activities in conjunction with the national day of action on climate change.
Step It Up! Seattle, the brainchild of author Bill McKibben, brings together a broad coalition of local government leaders, businesses, faith leaders, labor unions and environmental groups to address global warming from varied but complementary perspectives. Event participants will be asked for personal commitments to reduce their global-warming emissions and will learn about opportunities for community involvement and collaboration with public officials.There will be a march, a rally and a fair.
King County Executive Ron Sims is creating a plan to reduce greenhouse gas pollution in King County by 80% by 2050 – a target set by the scientific community in order to stabilize the climate and avoid the worst damage from global warming. “Global warming is the defining challenge of our generation,” says Sims. “We know what we need to do to meet this challenge — end our dependence on fossil fuels by creating a clean energy economy. Let the path begin right here.”
Mayor Greg Nickels will use the occasion to unveil the city’s Neighborhood Matching Fund for Climate Protection to support community-based programs. “The solutions to the climate crisis can be found right here in Seattle and in every community across this nation,’’ says Nickels. “It starts with small steps that conserve energy in our everyday lives like using efficient compact fluorescent lights, saving gas by driving smarter and turning down the thermostat at home. A celebration like Step It Up demonstrates how powerful small actions can be when we all do our part.”
Mayor Nickels spearheads the U.S. Mayors’Climate Agreement through which more than 435 mayors across the country have committed to reducing greenhouse gases 7% below 1990 levels by 2012. Sierra Club National Campaign Director Debbie Sease, who will travel to Seattle to speak at the rally, explains that “’business-as-usual’is not an option. An average 2% per year reduction is very doable, and we have the technology at hand. At every level of government, we must first stop adding to the problem with coal plants and more auto emissions, then drive our pollution down. Washington state has taken bold actions so far, and we look forward to Governor Gregoire’s State Climate Challenge to set the pace.”
“The Puget Sound area has been on the cutting edge of advancements in aerospace, biotechnology, computer software and the Internet,” says U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, who serves on the House Energy and Commerce Sub-committee on Energy and Air Quality and the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. “We have the talent - not to mention the commitment and enthusiasm shown by events like Step It Up! Seattle - to be leaders in the clean-energy revolution too.” Inslee is a leader in the Apollo Project, a comprehensive effort on clean-energy that harkens to President John F. Kennedy’s bold call for a mission to the moon in the 1960’s. Like Kennedy’s vision to win the space race, this initiative would marshal federal resources to solve economic, environmental and security problems caused by our nation’s addiction to fossil fuels. “Labor re-affirms its commitment to the Blue-Green Alliance,” says David Freiboth, Executive Secretary of the Martin Luther King, Jr., County Labor Council. “Environmental responsibility is now more than ever clearly linked to sustainable family wage employment.”
“The problem of global warming is not just for environmentalists,” says Rev. Lisa Domke. “This is an issue of social justice, faith, public health, and economics. We have a moral imperative to step up and be a leader on climate change now, for the sake of our children and future generations."
Posted by Step It Up Organizing Crew on April 13th, 2007
Bill has been busy in New York City the last two days, helping get Step It Up all over the airways and frontpages across the nation.
You can listen below to Bill talk about Step It Up on Democracy Now! (one of our favorite radio programs). Make sure to listen to the end to hear The Gallerists and our theme song. There's also news about actions in San Francisco, electric cars and more.
We'll be keeping you up to date on our blog about media hits throughout the day and into tomorrow, but there's no way we can keep up with all of them. Step It Up is already making news around the country and with your help, we'll be making even more tomorrow and beyond!
Posted by The Step It Up Organizing Team on April 13th, 2007
Sandy Bauer at The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on the "Big Buzz" building for April 14th. Buzz indeed--here at the headquarters, it feels like a veritable roar. Our phones are ringing off the hook with people and media getting geared up for tomorrow--it's going to be one for the record books, folks.
Rallying the masses in support of the Earth Big buzz builds for Step It Up, a nationwide global-warming event tomorrow.
By Sandy Bauers Inquirer Staff Writer
Around the dinner table, they included a few hybrid-car drivers, two cyclists, a walker, a telecommuter.
They've changed their lightbulbs and their lifestyles - one guy even moved in with his elderly mother to reduce his energy consumption - and now they want to change the world.
Posted by Step It Up Organizing Crew on April 13th, 2007
Our blog has highlighted a number of actions that are taking place
around the country this April 14th. This is the bread and butter of
Step It Up, but there are also a number of incredible solidarity
actions from our friends and allies who are unable to organize a Step
It Up event in the U.S.A.
We've gotten emails from around the world
that have sounded a common theme: it is so nice to see that people in
the U.S.A. are stepping it up to take action on global warming.
Botswana, a group of students and community members came together to
take the Step It Up photo in this blog post. Koji Ueyama wrote us from
Japan, where he is working to promote awareness about the effect of
global warming on coral reefs. In Germany, Mexico, Bangladesh, and
Peru, people have heard about Step It Up and our sending their support.
A design firm with offices around the world has signed on too, and sent
us a photo from their headquarters in Paris. And in Canada, there are
solidarity actions planned from Vancouver to Montreal.
Also moving, is
the action being taken by thirteen men on death row in Texas. They are
in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, but on April 14 they will
be conducting a day-long fast and meditation in solidarity with Step It Up. Read on to learn more about their action.
This is all to say that on April 14, the world will be watching. Let's
show them that the U.S.A is standing up and demanding that our
government join the world and take action to combat this global crisis. Everywhere, people are stepping it up!
The men in Texas want their action to draw attention to the
cause of the climate change movement and to emphasize the
interrelationship between struggles for environmental justice, social
justice, racial justice, class justice. In a letter to Step It Up organizers everywhere, they write, "Greetings friends and comrades, it is an honor to be here today (albeit vicariously) in support of what we see as a very noble cause: The defense of our precious environment: the water, the air, the land."
To the left is a picture by Howard Guidry, one of the men, that symbolizes the goal of the action he is taking. In the center is a man meditating in solitaritary confinement. To his left and right, a man and woman meditate in an industrial landscape and a natural one.
Below is a list of the men's names and their address. They would appreciate any letters or reports from Step It Up events. Our friend, Liz Lyon, a long time advocate for social justice who is working with these prisoners, writes, "They can get photos and cards and pictures, and living in a very small box 23 hours out of the day, getting photos and colorful images from 'the outside' is no small thing."
Here is the list of names and address:
Dorsey IV 999359
Paul Guidry 999226
Polunsky Unit 3872 F.M. 350 South Livingston, Texas 77351
It's go time! With one day left until Step It Up's National Day
of Climate Action, things are heating up here at our headquarters and
around the country. To kick off an exciting day, here's a post from
I'm in New York City today, where excitement is building fast.
There's so much media interest we're having to parcel things out--our New York City organizers were on Good Morning America this morning describing plans for the nationwide protests but also their own cool contribution: the blue-shirted Sea of People
that will form at midday in the Battery to show where the new tideline
will soon be. I went to downtown Manhattan to the studios of Democracy Now
for a live interview with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez. Now I'm
batting these words out between endless phone interviews today. If for
some reason you're desperate to hear the sound of my voice, you can
check out Science Friday/Talk of the Nation on NPR
this afternoon, where I will try valiantly to turn talk about my new
book into as many mentions as possible of Stepitup2007.org.
more important than listening to any of this stuff is doing a little
scrambling of your own. You're already coming to a rally tomorrow. But
have you sent one last email to everyone on your list of friends and
family, encouraging them to join you for a day of historic fun? Have
you called and emailed the editor of your local paper, and your local
AP bureau, and your local radio and tv stations one last time to let
them know you've heard about an interesting story that will be taking
place tomorrow? With a democratic desire to share the adrenaline now
rattling my system, I urge you to get to it!--it's actually kind of fun.
The astounding growth and strength of this campaign makes me giggle -- the way one giggles after working on a thesis paper for far too many hours, having reached past the point of tiredness and come out the other side. Our friend and co-coordinator Jamie Henn, who finished his own thesis just this week, can perhaps attest to this feeling (Congrats Jamie!). The sensation is like a second wind where ideas just start flowing and you write even though your head may not be totally in control of what your fingers are doing.
Step It Up has that sense about it as well. This Monday night we watched as Colin Beavan, New York City’s No Impact Man, talked about Step It Up on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report. And I started giggling. The ideas and the drive behind Step It Up are now to a large degree writing themselves. And we, astounded by it all, type away at our laptops, working to make it a cohesive, national voice.
It’s important at this moment I think, and my co-coordinators agree, to root ourselves as we reach for the highest possible aims of this weekend. My roots in this movement come largely from a man named Jon Isham, an Economics Professor at Middlebury College, and it’s his work that I’d like to ground myself in as these final days fly by. He’s a mentor and friend to all of us on the Step It Up crew, and a few of us had the pleasure of being involved in his first grand experiment within the climate movement: a class called “Social Movements and Climate Change,” and a conference called “What Works: New Strategies for a Melting Planet.” The model of the class and conference was incredibly collaborative, built upon ideas that everyone at the table had valuable information and knowledge, and that all could contribute in a vital way to moving the conversation forward. His ideas on how a class should be structured became our ideas for student organizing on our college campus, and those ideas became the foundation for Step It Up.
Jon and colleague Sissel Waage have recently finished another project in the form of a book called, Ignition: What You Can Do to Fight Global Warming and Spark a Movement. The book, like everything that has come before it, is structured collaboratively, including authors like Bill McKibben, Energy Action youth organizer Billy Parish, Greenpeace director John Passacantando, and policy analysts Michael Schellenberger and Ted Nordhaus. Collectively, these authors have moved the conversation on global warming from “Why should I care” (which many people have now resolved in their own minds) to “What can I do?”
Jon’s efforts, like those of Step It Up, call on citizens to engage the system beyond the ever-important Compact Flourescent Lightbulb switch in one’s house. Our call is to spark a national movement and bring the conversation on global warming to the next level. Thanks to Jon for the wonderful education, support, and inspiration he’s provided to us, and for giving us the roots we needed to help build this beautiful action called Step It Up.
Isabelle Charles and Kate Jones and other members of the Park School Chorus practiced yesterday for Boston's rally Saturday. (EVAN RICHMAN/GLOBE STAFF)
Step It Up 2007 is making headlines around the country these days! That's great news (no pun intended) for everyone who is planning a rally - the more coverage leading up to this Saturday, the better - and for all of us who hope that Step It Up will make a big impact on April 14th.
Some of the latest highlights, hot off the presses, include a story from The Boston Globe about the many rallies happening in the New England area. The story is accompanied by the great photo above of Isabelle Charles, Kate Jones, and other members of the Park School Chorus who are practicing for a rally on Saturday. Good luck singers!
Also today, the New York Times featured a storyby Step It Up supporter Kathleen Hughes that mentioned her friend Alexander Lee who is head of Project Laundry List. Alexander will be bringing his laundry revolution to the New Hampshire capitol on April 14; he'll be air-drying an array of t-shirts with climate change messages in front of the state house this Saturday.
There are also stories in local papers around the country, the latest hits include articles in Michigan, Maryland, California, Minnesota, Utah, Illinois, Washington, Virginia and more. This local coverage is just as important as the national and shows the broad extent and deep roots of this growing movement.
Posted by The Step It Up Organizing Crew on April 12th, 2007
Check out this informational post that the New England Nordic Ski Association posted for their members. When we heard about the action, it sounded like an incredible opportunity, but an unlikely chance that many people would be able to find snow. Today, New England finds itself in the midst of a six to twelve inch snowstorm! So, NENSA, get excited about your actions this weekend - looks like you've got a last chance to get out on those skis and support what you love.
New England has suffered through a number of dismal winters in recent years. Now, NENSA is stepping up their efforts to to raise awareness of global warming. Those of us not in New England could use NENSA's program as a model in our own regions.
NENSA - Global Warming Action - Step it Up and Find Snow on April 14!
Here's a chance to take action and raise awareness of global warming. Saturday, April 14 is Step It Up Day ( www.stepitup2007.org ). Thousands of people around the country are organizing actions, and all of these actions taken together will be the largest demonstration yet in the U.S. of concern about global warming.
NENSA skiers are invited to join a New England-wide action on April 14. We challenge you to gather friends and fellow ski club members, find the nearest snow, and, if possible, ski on it!
Worried the snow may all be melted by then? Roll up a huge snowball while you still can, put it in a shady spot, and cover it with a tarp! On April 14, you can roll it out, flatten it, and get out your rock skis for a photo! We'll also post info on www.nensa.net about where there really still is snow on April 14, for those willing to travel to ski. If snow just isn't in the picture, pick another activity - biking, hiking, whatever. It's the participation that counts!
If you'd like to participate, simply register your local action at http://events.stepitup2007.org/signup . On April 14, take a picture to document your April ski and follow directions to upload your photo to the StepItUp2007 website, then let us know so we can provide a link from NENSA's website.
You can also check out other actions in your area and get tapped into local networks of concerned citizens at http://events.stepitup2007.org .
Here in Portland, OR, Step it Up has really taken off: an all day conference sponsored by the mountaineering club, climbers taking the message up Mt Hood, a major downtown rally, a three day march to the state capital of Salemâ€”and a polar bear plunge! What happens on the day after?
Until now, internet politics has involved letter writing campaigns, and coordinated house parties and movie screenings. But the climate movement is now creating, via the internet, a real social movementâ€”and that means physical mobilization: marches, demonstrations, rallies. If the defining moment of the Civil Rights Movement was the March on Washington, then the defining moment of the Clean Energy Movement might turn out to be, in 2008, 50 simultaneous marches on 50 state capitals. Step It Up is an early, huge step in a rapidly growing movement: thousands of students will be converging on DC in the fall, and Focus the Nation is coordinating a national teach-in set for next January 31st. Focus the Nation is not just for colleges, high schools, and other educational institutions. Faith groups, civic organizations and businesses are signing up to hold their own educational events.
Here is a plea to every Step it Up group: after the dust has cleared, and the excitement of the day passes, visit Focus the Nation.org, and commit the same faith or neighborhood organization that sponsored your Step It Up initiative to host a Focus the Nation event. Already, over 400 colleges, universities, places of worship, high schools, middle schools, civic organizations and businesses are on board. With Step it Upâ€™s help, we can triple that to 1500 in a month, and with 10 months of lead time, build a series of events that can engage millions of Americans in a serious, sustained, national discussion of clean energy solutions to global warming, and build a unified national voice for action.
As if we didn't need a greater sense of urgency, last month, Dr. James Hansen, the top US government climate scientist, said this about global warming: "I believe that a business as usual scenario will guarantee future disintegration of the West Antarctic and parts of Greenland". That means business as usual guarantees a global sea level rise of 20-40 feet. We need to change that future.
We are racing against time. The scientific community is telling us clearly that we have only a short window to alter the course of history. But Americans are good at revolutions.
The decisions we make, or fail to make, in the next few years will reshape the maps of the continents, impact the lives of billions of people, and might be the difference between life or death for half of creation.
Seen the truth? Stay committed. Get involved with Focus the Nation-- and whatever comes next.
Kitty Welch of Fort Atkinson, WI describes her Step It Up action on this upcoming Saturday. The event is the kickoff for a four week version of the group's own 'Atkinson Diet' based on shedding carbon pounds of the community's waste-line. It's incredibly exciting for us as organizers to see examples of April 14th actions using the Step It Up day to jump into community organizing around global warming. Good luck Kitty and all in Fort Atkinson!
Fort Atkinson's Step it Up madness began Monday with silkscreening t-shirts (purchased at a local Goodwill) and banners through the not-fair though freely-offered labor of volunteers Cynthia Holt, Eric Stein and Jeremy Pinc.
The Step It Up event itself is relatively simple- a gathering along our picturesque flooded-in-parts riverwalk, which is within view of our Main Street's bridge, and a parade via sidewalk and bike path to a nearby park for a picnic and attendant fun.
It is also the kick-off event for our local campaign in response to global warming- the Atkinson diet, which has a green-built home at www.theatkinsondiet.com. Our citizens' group, Heart of the City, is asking the city and its residents to join us in going on a low-carbon diet to reduce energy usage.
On the site we have set forth a 4-week diet plan to follow, with extra tips for those who are already carbon trim, and we are urging residents (and interested non-residents) to sign up and become part of a community effort. Our goal is to create a community conversation, and, in the long run, a community ethic, about energy conservation. By making it a community effort, we hope to help people view the changes they make in response to the issues of global warming and environmental degradation not as sacrifices, but as beneficial steps toward building community, creating a better world, and making us healthier physically and mentally. We are urging people to share their stories with us as they make changes, and we will post them on our website.
There has been outreach to the surrounding communities through local people involved in the Natural Step study circles. The Natural Step movement, which began in Sweden, uses a science-based systems framework to help organizations, individuals, and communities take steps toward sustainability.
We are looking forward to a solid turnout of solid citizens. Kitty Welch, Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin
Today's action spotlight highlights Shanda Holm, organizer of an action in Leavenworth, Washington.
Welcome to Bavaria, or rather the Cascade Mountain version of Bavaria. We are proud to be stepping it up from the red side of Washington State, and are creatively asking Doc Hastings, Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray to Step It Up too. On April 14th we wanted to offer something for everyone in a community that is still working on embracing climate change as a human issue. So our event will start with a walk through downtown and end with a community gathering at a local city park.
See below for a video about Step It Up Leavenworth produced by Paul Steinbroner and the good folks at Veracity Productions:
My colleagues and I have spent the last ten weeks talking with individuals and businesses in the Wenatchee Valley and have been surprised by the level of support we encountered. I made the false assumption that the majority of my neighbors would pooh-ha the issue, based on the loudest voices I had heard in the local media before March of 2007. I was mildly intimidated to bring it up with individuals I didn’t know. But I have found that people are concerned and do want to talk about the issue of climate change. Even here. Of 76 business owners I have talked with only 3 were not receptive.
What is the outcome of this impromptu survey? I am inspired by my community, know more of my neighbors, and think that maybe, just maybe, Leavenworth will be one of the first communities to make the leap into confronting and addressing our city's carbon footprint. Can you imagine it… a town that depends on 1.5 million visitors a year (Leavenworth.org) and relies on 1000 jobs at a ski area 35 miles away (stevenspass.com) having a zero carboneconomy? I can.
The parade is a fun, but directed, action that will be photographed.
The community gathering is a way of inviting all of our neighbors out
of their homes and into a forum that is positively directed at
generating hope, ideas and solutions. Our walk (with a theme of
nature’s species) will directly ask Congress to cut carbon emissions
80% by 2050. The walk will be followed by a valley-wide, festive event
designed around the idea “Where do we go from here?”
Paul Steinbroner (energyrush.tv) and Charley Voorhis (Voortex Productions) are putting together a video theater that will play a collection of video clips Paul compiled for this event and/or his future film. The video theater provides a venue for our community to gather, be inspired by, and discusses what other people and communities are doing to reduce their carbon footprint. The video clips are available for downloading here.
As we gallop towards April 14, we know everyone has been busy calling
the newspapers, radio, and tv stations in your area. Please don't
forget to also call the nearest bureau of the Associated Press.
The AP is very important—they're how small and medium-sized
newspapers and broadcasters keep track of the news. They're good
reporters and writers, but extremely busy, so it's crucial to get in
contact with them now, and then again on Friday. Someone will answer
the phone at the local bureau, and when they do you need to do two
1) Tell them, concisely, about the cool action you have
planned for April 14, and mention that it's one of several in the area.
(Every organizer should be doing this—they'll start to get the sense
that something big is afoot). Give them details and a contact number,
and then write down their name so you can call them Friday with a
2) Tell them that your action is part of a huge
nationwide event—"the biggest grassroots environmental protest since
Earth Day 1970"—and say you're very eager to see pictures from some of
the other 1,300 rallies around America in your local paper Sunday
morning. Ask them to send word up the line to the national office that
this is going to be a big deal.
Those two things will make a large difference!
And, if you decide to e-mail the AP (or most any other newspaper) be sure to include your press release as text within the e-mail, not as an attachment to the e-mail.
MoveOn.org, the mightiest force in the wide world of cyber-advocacy, has been kind enough to e-mail their members. All 3.2 Million of them.
So, to all new Step It Up visitors, you are cordially invited to join us this Saturday for a little get together in your local community. Chances are, your local organizers could use a hand in pulling together some last minute details. So pitch in--when you find the Step It Up action you want to go to on April 14th, click "E-Mail the Host" on that action's individual event page, and ask what you can do to help. We're all happy to have you aboard.
We just wanted to see if you were paying attention. That statement is actually true, in one way (and maybe two . . .), because The Nation's blog recently featured us. Peter Rothberg wrote an excellent post describing many aspects of the climate movement, including the work of many of our friends and allies.
Here's an action spotlight from Boise, ID organizer Greg Otero. He and the rest of the Boise crew took some time away from organizing the final details of their action to write us a solid blogpost. Thanks to Greg and the team, and good luck on Saturday!
With a great turnout of some incredible volunteers and a fantastic outpouring of financial support from local businesses, we have organized a "Concert for Climate Action,” and it looks like it’s going to be a huge success!
We have reserved the Gene Harris Band Shell at a downtown park right near our beloved Greenbelt which runs along the Boise River. We are encouraging attendees to bring a picnic and walk, bike, bus or carpool to the event. Boise’s Mayor (a signatory of the Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement) will be speaking at the event, along with one of our State Legislators and others. Five local bands have volunteered to play for free, and we have many green businesses exhibiting as well, showing their products and services that help to cut carbon emissions. One solar company will even have a solar powered car for visitors to enjoy.
We have raised close to $5,000 from the community to help us pay for the event. And we are really happy and proud that our local CBS station agreed to sponsor us and is using our event to launch their two-year commitment to focus on climate change in their news broadcasting! They have been running promotional spots about the Concert often and at very good times, and as a result, we are anticipating a very sizable crowd!
The outpouring of citizens to help with this event has been staggering. People want to know what they can do as individuals to have a voice and do something about global warming. These are not your typical "tree-hugging" volunteers - well, not all of them anyway. They are young mothers, high school students, business men and woman, and elderly people. Idaho may be considered a "Red" state, but this has become less political and more of a moral issue than anything else. There’s so much more to say, but I gotta get back to planning this thing! Good luck all!
Posted by The Step It Up Organizing Team on April 9th, 2007
After finishing up our Step It Up conference call just a couple of hours ago, we came back to our house to watch the Colbert Report. It's a nice way to relax after a busy day. He starts off the show talking about "eco-fascists." This typical Colbert-ian language arouses our interest. His first guest is "No-Impact Man," recently featured in the New York Times for his commitment to living without having a damaging impact to the environment. Immediately after No-Impact Man describes his goal, he leans toward Colbert, and offers this plug:
No-Impact Man: "On Saturday, Stephen, you can join with thousands of Americans and take part in stepitup2007.org, a national day of action on climate change."
Stephen Colbert: "Well, I can tell you that I won't."
Despite Colbert's reluctance to participate, we were speechless. Minutes later, we spoke to our web guru, who told us our website had never had more traffic.
Thank you, No-Impact Man, Stephen Colbert, and all the viewers of Comedy Central! Phew!
On one side, there's an energy transformation -- the conversion of the world's fuel economy from coal and gas and oil to something else. It involves decades of work on conservation and then on innovation. There are changes in habit and economy and way of life and attitude.
And on the other side, if we don't get going fast on all those tasks, there's malaria and flooding and drought and sea-level rise. There's the extinction of species -- of whole ecosystems. There's a planet tossed into such chaotic instability that it's hard to know what will emerge.
In other words, we can choose between change and Change.
That choosing starts, for Americans, this coming Saturday, April 14.
The number of national legislators committed to speaking at April 14 rallies has grown an awful lot just in the last two days--it's astonishing how many big political names are already on board, and we'll have a few more big names to add in the days ahead so keep your eyes peeled.
If you click here, you'll see the whole list so far--and one thing to note, for any political junkies out there, is how many of them are freshman Senators and Representatives. (Elections matter!) As you're doing your last round of calls to your own senators and representatives asking them to come to yur actions, make sure to let their assistants know how many of their DC colleagues are joining this day of action. Be polite, but don't worry about offending these guys--remember, they work for you!
And if you get any national legislators to commit to attending a rally, be sure to let us know. Thanks!
A quick word from our friends in Concord, who are using simple imagery to get their point across.
In Concord, NH, Project Laundry List has teamed up with a couple of other StepItUp07 events and combined our efforts into a picnic, walk, and rally. The rally, which will take place in front of the New Hampshire State House, will have a clothesline as a backdrop for the speakers. Speakers will include Doris Granny D Haddock; Sen. Harold Janeway; Rep. Suzanne Harvey (recipient of Governor's Excellence in Energy Efficiency Award); a proclamation from US Rep. Paul Hodes; David Lamarre-Vincent, NH Council of Churches; Nancy Hirshberg, Stonyfield Farm; representatives from Grappone Automotive Group and Sierra Club & Cool Cities Program; Richard Minard, NH Audubon; and Melissa Bernardin, Priorities NH. There will be live music and yogurt and ice cream.
Having grown up in a frugal Yankee household where the clothesline was always in use, where my mother soaked un-cancelled stamps off envelopes, saved bacon grease in a can on the stove, and made sure we turned lights out when we left a room, Project Laundry List was not that much of a leap for me. Project Laundry List uses words, images, and advocacy to educate people about how simple lifestyle modifications, including air-drying one's clothes, reduce our dependence on environmentally and culturally costly energy sources.
Project Laundry List began over eleven years ago, in 1995, when I was a junior at Middlebury College. It was a year before I would drive to the Adirondacks to interview Bill McKibben for my thesis and a few months after Helen Caldicott, MD, gave a speech telling us we could shut down the nuclear industry if we just hung out our clothes and made other simple lifestyle changes. We are lucky to have had both of these people involved for so many years.
In 1995, I and many others around the Northeast in particular, but also David Brower of Sierra Club-fame and others, were in an absolute tizzy about the damming of rivers in Northern Quebec. I remain disturbed that people think of large-scale hydro as sustainable, even though it produces methane by flooding vast vegetated areas and it disturbs, in the case of James Bay, the nesting grounds of migratory birds and the traditional hunting grounds of indigenous tribes. Project Laundry List aimed to take a positive approach to change and challenge people to think about personal energy use.
National Hanging Out Day has been occurring almost as long as Project Laundry List has existed. It is always April 19th and we encourage communities to hang clotheslines out with sheets and T-shirts emblazoned with energy-saving messages: "STOP THE PLANTS, HANG YOUR PANTS." This year, National Hanging Out Day comes just five days after the StepItUp07 activities. I hope you will get involved. Please visit our website at http://www.laundrylist.org and learn about the personal ways that you can help this nation meet meaningful carbon reduction goals.
You may also want to read the recent article "Hanging Out" in The Globe & Mail. Our newsletter, also called Hanging Out, is being ramped up again. A "Right to Dry" bill was introduced in Vermont in 1998 and the language is included again in this year's energy efficiency bill. Right now only Florida preserves solar rights for clotheslines. Fort Lauderdale even went so far as to declare National Hanging Out Day a holiday one year through mayoral proclamation. What will you do to make sure that you and your neighbors are not prohibited from hanging out your clothes?
Posted by The Step It Up Organizing Team on April 7th, 2007
Here is a dispatch from Oneonta Step It Up organizer, Ed Lentz...
Oneonta, NY, is a small, rural community in upstate NY that is embracing Step It Up 2007 in a big way! Step It Up encourages groups to join together in America’s most iconic places and what’s more iconic than Small Town, USA? The whole town is getting involved including schools, colleges, and artists, and Mayor John Nader has issued a strong proclamation indicating his support.
The events begin with a showing of “Who Killed the Electric Car” on the evening of April 13 at a downtown movie theater to be followed by a discussion and reception.
Saturday begins with an educational fair that will run from 10:00 to 3:30. The fair will feature displays and exhibits from local environmental groups, schools, and vendors. Live music will be provided by local musicians: Jeanne O'Dea & Sandy Peever, Marvin Taub, Kathy Shimberg & Katie McKay, and Just Throw Money.
At 1:00, what some would describe as the main event takes off. It's a bicycle parade for enthusiasts of all ages, with prizes for the best-decorated bikes. Prior to the parade itself, a local arts group, the Upper Catskill Community Council of the Arts (UCCCA), is sponsoring a bicycle decorating workshop.
Following the parade, Mayor Nader will kick off a public rally with a reading of his proclamation declaring April 14 Step It Up Oneonta Day and urging all citizens to take action to reduce carbon emissions. The rally will continue with a citizen speak-out featuring community leaders, environmentalists, and schoolchildren.
Then, at 3:30, there will be a public conference on climate change and sustainable living entitled " Climate Responsibility: Developing an Action Plan for Oneonta. After an opening address by Mayor Nader, panel presentations will be given by Dr. Donna Vogler, Associate Professor of Biology at SUNY Oneonta, Dr. Karl Seeley, Assistant Professor of Economics at Hartwick College, and Gene Marner, an expert on peak oil and sustainable living. An pbjective of this conference is to engage community residents in a dialogue about what we can do here in Oneonta to reduce carbon emissions.
Oneonta's Main Street Windows project, spearheaded by activist Cynthia Marsh, will also feature artistic projects relating to climate change. Throughout April, the Windows Project will feature art by local artists and school children.
Finally, the day will end with a showing of "Just Around The Corner" at the Oneonta Teen Center. “Just Around the Corner” is an educational documentary about Global Warming and Peak Oil for and with teenagers made by Emmy Award winning filmmaker John Miglietta. John will be at the movie showing as will several of the persons featured in the documentary.
Step It Up Oneonta is co-sponsored by the Coalition for Democracy of Central New York, The Otsego County Conservation Association, the Office of the Mayor of Oneonta, the Oneonta Environmental Board, GO Local, Pragmeta Networks, UCCCA, and Volcano Editions. Among the numerous volunteers who are making this happen are: Karen Anderson, Colleen Blacklock, Mark Davies, Tom Horvath, Dave Hutchison, Ed Lentz, Karl Seeley, Cynthia Marsh and Ian Austin.
Here's a great blog post from our friend Thomas Hand from Native Energy. Native Energy is donating carbon offsets for Step It Up headquarters and our final celebration. Organizers--you too can offset your events by clicking here. Thanks, NE!
As I take a break from carbon footprint calculations for the StepItUp event in D.C., I can't help but think about the possibilities and great plans our Congress might have waiting for us on the 14th. It's almost like waiting for Christmas! I can barely contain myself! I'm personally hoping for a zero carbon economy promise on the 14th, but I'd settle for a goal to cut carbon emissions 80% by 2050. Actually that's what we want: 80% by 2050! It has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?
In all seriousness, we are truly excited about the many events across the country planned for the 14th. Over the last few months we've been invited to so many more events than we could possibly attend; a wonderful sign of the changing times. For more than 6 years now we've been working with leading environmentally and socially responsible organizations and individuals to help them take real, effective action, to offset their carbon footprints by helping new distributed renewable energy projects get built -- new Native American, farmer-owned, and community based renewable energy projects that create social, economic, and environmental benefits. In the last 6 years you've helped us build more than 20 new projects, from wind turbines in remote Native Alaskan villages, to American Indian reservations, to family farm manure-to-energy projects in Pennsylvania, to the largest solar PV system in NH. All of these projects were made possible because of committed individuals, businesses and organizations who want to help solve the climate crisis. People like you!
We know as you do that we can't stop the climate crisis without serious, thoughtful, bold leadership from Congress, so kudos to everyone planning, attending and supporting a StepitUp action on the 14th. We have all been working very hard for years to bring new renewable energy to life, now its time for Congress to do its part. Step It Up Congress! 80% by 2050!!
(P.S. Congress I'll still take the zero carbon economy if you have one of those lying around Washington)
Posted by The Step It Up Organizing Team on April 7th, 2007
The organizers in the Boston area are gearing up for exciting action on the 14th. Check out this piece by Robin Hauk, which appeared in a prominent Boston-area blog Misstropolis ...
If you thought April 14 was going to be just another Saturday at the dog park, spin class, and a toddler b-day party or two, you have another thing coming.
April 14 is the day you get a chance to step up your commitment to the earth, set a heroic example for your children (or nieces and nephews or neighborhood gang), and rally for environmental action with millions of others across America – from underwater on the endangered coral reefs off Key West, to atop the melting glaciers on Mt. Rainier, to the levees in New Orleans.
Step It Up 2007 is a swelling national movement to raise awareness about climate change and global warning by encouraging “actions” in as many places as possible, all on April 14. The brain-child of writer Bill McKibben, Step It Up 07 has become the biggest environmental movement since the original Earth Day in 1970.
Posted by The Step It Up Organizing Team on April 6th, 2007
Jennifer McCharen of the Step It Up organizing teamin Jacksonville, FL shares with us some of the plans for their exciting and creative action down at Alltel Stadium...
Jacksonville is taking part in Step It Up 2007 in a big way. Saturday morning at 10 the regional office of the National Wildlife Federation is holding a press conference under a suspended power boat at Alltel Stadium. The stadium itself is right at sea level, and will be vulnerable to any rise caused by global warming. Even if those impacts are several decades away, it will be a powerful visual illustration.
In the afternoon the Jacksonville Carbon Neutral Initiative (JCNI) is hosting a public dialogue on climate change at Riverside Presbyterian Church with local experts, including Dr. Stephen Mulkey from the University of Florida, and Jeff Martin from Jacksonville University. The goal is to kick start the conversation about climate change in Jacksonville, and push the community towards action. Right now most people don't know the facts or who to trust. They certainly don't know what they can do to help. JCNI wants to change that.
Following the panelists' presentations and the public dialogue, there will be a reception and concert in Riverside Park across the street which will go on into the evening hours.
Check out next week's issue of Folio Weekly, due out April 10th. They're running a cover story on Jacksonville's response to global warming, and that involves heavy coverage of JCNI and Step It Up 2007. I think there will even be a picture of me in it (yikes!).
Jennifer McCharen is a photographer in Jacksonville. Her photography deals with the built environment, land-use, and our unconscious relation to it as drivers and consumers. She is also involved with JCNI and organizing the movement to fight global warming.
In celebration of this historic moment in global warming activism and awareness, our friends and allies at Toxic Comedy Pictures and Working Films compiled a special activist preview of the hot documentary Everything’s Cool – fresh from its 2007 Sundance Film Festival premiere – for Step It Up organizers and volunteers. The film follows the struggle of dedicated and passionate global warming messengers, including our beloved Bill McKibben, with footage of the historic five-day march through Vermont that inspired him and our comrades to launch Step It Up.
This limited release “activist DVD” of selected scenes and featured characters also includes the Weather Channel’s Dr. Heidi Cullen, whistleblower Rick Piltz – and very cool coverage from Sundance, including news casts and behind-the-scenes footage of the 1000 school kids’ aerial message that kicked off Step It Up – see our media page.
Everything’s Cool will premiere in the Southeast next weekend, April 13, at the Full Frame Film Festival in Durham, North Carolina. After the screening, Step It Up organizers will be inviting the audience to participate in the Raleigh event on the state capital grounds. The filmmakers and Working Films will also present on a panel with "The Inconvenient Truth: Reaching Out on Global Warming" on Sunday, April 15 at noon. They will be ready to share the latest update and news from all your events at this high profile event, covered by national and regional news:
“… Everything's Cool can be downright euphoric in its sense of ordinary people doing their part for the planet.” - Scott Foundas, Variety
"If "An Inconvenient Truth" can be considered one bookend, then "Everything's Cool" can definitely stand as the other. .”- Ashland Daily
Posted by The Step It Up Organizing Team on April 5th, 2007
Here's a wonderful blog post by Franz Ingelfinger about an action in Ipswich, MA. It ran in the Boston Globe North on April 5.
A Life Well Blessed
This picture, taken roughly 90 years ago, is of my ancestors. My grandmother, Sarah Shurcliff Ingelfinger, is at the bow. She would have turned 100 this fall. Today, the scene along the Castle Neck River behind Crane Beach looks much as it did those many years ago. But over the next 90 years, the span of a life well blessed, our sea level is predicted to rise by over 20 feet as a result of global warming.1
Now picture this landscape in the year 2100 – open ocean. Imagine other iconic Ipswich landscapes: the boardwalks at Crane Beach – under water; Argilla Road, Jeffreys Neck, Pavilion Beach – all inundated; downtown Ipswich – the sea; Conomo Point, Essex – Atlantis. In my lifetime I have witnessed the virtual disappearance of the horseshoe crab from the shores of Crane Beach; my children stand to see those very shores disappear entirely. This is the gloom and doom scenario. However, it does not have to be our vision for the future. It is not mine. By taking immediate and drastic measures to slash our emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses, we can help to avert many of the predicted changes to sea level, climate, and the environment. The debate is over. It is time to act.
April 14th is the first national day of climate awareness, organized by Step It Up. Step It Up was hatched by acclaimed author Bill McKibben, who brought together a team of eight talented Middlebury College graduates to inspire community members across America to join together on April 14th for the environment. Over 1,000 demonstrations are planned across the country—including nearly 100 in Massachusetts alone-- calling for Congress to enact immediate legislation to cut carbon emissions by 80% by the year 2050. On the North Shore, The Trustees of Reservations are opening the gates to Crane Beach to provide a compelling venue. I invite you to join your friends, neighbors and other concerned citizens on that Saturday from 1-3 PM to demand that Congress step up to the challenge of global climate change. Together we can take a stand on the sand and send a clear message to Congress.
I look at my grandmother in that bow and wonder what she would do if it were her generation faced with this challenge. The fate of creation and civilization hinges on the actions we take within the next few years; the ramifications will play out over a single lifetime. I believe that my grandmother’s generation would have risen to the challenge. Do not leave our grandchildren to question why we did not. Step It Up!
Posted by The Step It Up Organizing Team on April 5th, 2007
Chances are, there are going to be some folks who attend Step It Up actions who are still a little confused as to what this is all about—how the grand puzzle of global warming fits together. It’s not always easy to understand how personal choices, atmospheric science, and Congress are all connected.
To help clear the air, we’ve teamed up with the fine folks at Topics Education and created some pretty one-page documents that you can print and hand out at a local action. Check them out below!
Posted by The Step It Up Organizing Team on April 4th, 2007
Since week one of Step It Up, we've been urging organizers to invite their members of Congress to their rallies. People all across the country are responding in force! Take a look at these states and the array of Senators and Congresspersons attending events. And heck--if your rally isn't represented on this list, please contact us!
Arizona Tuscon: U.S. Rep Raul Grijalva (AZ-07), U.S. Rep Gabrielle Giffords (AZ-08)
Posted by The Step It Up Organizing Team on April 4th, 2007
You may have noticed that some parts of our action map are more filled in more than others, a reflection, we think, more of how many folks are there than how much the people care. While Iowa and the US heartland might not have quite as many folks around as crowded New England or the west coast, the people there are certainly fired up and stepping it up on global warming. Check out the reports of some the exciting actions going in Iowa...
In Iowa, several events marking National Day of Climate Action are planned. In Des Moines, the public is invited to walk, bike, ride the bus, or carpool to downtown Des Moines for a rally at Nollen Plaza at 4:00. At the rally, people can purchase a copy of Bill McKibben’s new book, Deep Economy, and three copies will be given away to the participant who (1) walked the furthest, (2) biked the furthest, and (3) got to downtown using the most creative means or had the most interesting experience en route. Participants are encouraged to get the most out of their carbon-saving commute by enjoying supper at a downtown restaurant and taking-in one of many evening activities.
In Ames, people will meet at 1:00 p.m. at the power plant on the Iowa State University campus and walk to the Ames Municipal Power Plant, then to Bandshell Park for a rally from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. In Cedar Rapids, the public is invited to walk, bike, take a bus or carpool to the Cedar Rapids Peace Center for an open forum discussion entitled “Local Solutions to a Global Challenge: Creating a Sustainable Community in Cedar Rapids.” Other events are planned for Iowa City, Cedar Falls, Grinnell, Decorah and Coralville.
The following theme, inspired by the work of Bill McKibben, is resonating in communities across the state: With the release this year by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the most authoritative report to date, there is no longer any doubt: the scientific community is united on the reality of global climate change and the role of human activity in causing it. In light of Hurricane Katrina, dramatic loss of polar ice, melting glaciers and other climate-related developments, we need immediate local and national action at the personal and political level to reduce our impact on the problem, with a goal of cutting carbon emissions 80% by 2050.
The news this morning that the Supreme Court has decided global warming is a problem, and the U.S. EPA can't just ignore it, is significant for two reasons. One, it's the law of the land. And two, just as importantly, it's one more sign that the tide has finally begun to turn. Official Washington has spent two decades pretending that the laws of physics and chemistry don't apply inside the Beltway. But now Congress is taking it seriously, and so is the Supreme Court. The White House is the last bunker, and even there people must be turning a bit pale at reports from the front.
That's why it's more important than ever that those of us who know enough and care enough to take action ratchet up the pressure. The oil companies and the coal barons read the newspapers too -- they know that their days of a free ride are coming to a close, and the only question now is how high the fare is going to be.
But the answer to that question will decide the climatic future. You can be sure that they're preparing to sign on to the weakest deal possible -- and announce it as a triumph, the first step forward. CEOs will pose with congressfolk, editorialists will delight. But if the deal stinks -- if it falls short of the targets scientists now tell us are necessary -- than the celebration will be short-lived. Instead of a solution, it will mean only that the lid's been knocked off the pot and the pressure dissipated. This moment won't arrive again for a few years (it's been 15 years since health-care reform disappeared from the congressional agenda) and by the time it finally does, the deepest kind of damage will be done. The White House is in a bunker, but there's another bunker to fall back to, and that's what's so perilous about the politics of the moment.
All that we're up to here at Step It Up builds on the incredible educational work done by Al Gore, the hardest working man in the climate business, who has brought the message home to people across the world. So we were extremely proud yesterday when his office sent an email to their email list of half a million. Amazing!
Unfortunately, the sudden spike in traffic from his dedicated network of climate-concerned citizens was a bit too much for our internet servers to handle--causing our website to run like molasses. Our humble apologies for all who have had trouble with our website in the last 24 hours--it's a hassle, but it's a positive sign of our country's enthusiasm for Step It Up. Not to worry, though--we should be running at full speed by the end of the day.
I may not be a skier (yet), but that doesn’t mean the sad reality that local ski resorts are having some lackluster winters is lost on me. So, in the true spirit of responding to the pathetic with a goofy grin, we at The Orion Society decided to invite folks to come pose for our Step It Up photo-op in full ski gear at Ski Butternut here in the Berkshires. And who knows what the weather will bring? Maybe on April 14, we’ll get to ski on mud.
Seriously, though – Orion’s mission, like Step It Up’s, has always been a hopeful one. Through Orion magazine and our Grassroots Network, we try to glimpse the larger tapestry of all the interconnected work that people are doing to care for the planet and move toward a brighter future.
The fact that climate change is finally making its way back into our national agenda as a clear and present danger may also signal a shift in our global consciousness. The 20th century was dominated by nationalism and conflict over lines on the map; if the 21st century is to turn out differently, then it’s up to us to demand clean alternatives to fossil fuels and bold legislation to back them up, yes – but that also means we’ll need to think harder and more holistically as a global society about our relationship to nature and how we live within the world, not over it. At our event, we'll have an open mic for people to share thoughts on how to move in that direction together.
Our challenge is always to think big, and to make our collective actions become more than the sum of their parts. That’s why Step It Up will work – why it is working. With every action and every photo, we’re weaving a piece of that new tapestry. What better way to send a message calling for a cleaner, more renewable, more beautiful future than to make of it a true work of art?
Peter Viola is an intern at The Orion Society and a youth climate activist.
Posted by Step It Up Organizing Team on April 2nd, 2007
Step It Up features prominently in the current issue of Business WeekMagazine. You'll also read about the efforts of student organizers, including some of your very own Step It Up Organizing Team when they were students at Middlebury College. And speaking of the press, don't forget to submit letters to the editor and op-eds to your local papers this week--a great way to attract more people to Step It Up actions.
The Greening Of America's Campuses
students across the country are fired up about global warming, and
they're gathering online to agitate for change. Is this the next big
It was a crisp September night in northern Vermont, and the
narrow meeting room on the ground floor of a Middlebury College dorm
was packed with students. They had gathered to hear Bill McKibben,
resident scholar, author, and environmentalist, sketch out the future
of climate activism. Persuading the U.S. government to get serious
about global warming would take more than old-style protest marches and
rallies, he explained. It would require a new kind of coordinated
action, making smart use of the Net.
Seven months later, McKibben and a team of newly minted
Middlebury graduates are trying to put this idea into practice. On Apr.
14, they're spearheading a nationwide virtual march on Washington
called Step It Up. The campaign will seek legislation to cut carbon
emissions by 80% by 2050, far beyond the goals in global agreements
such as the Kyoto Accord.
Forcing any such laws through in 2007
is obviously a stretch. But Step It Up's tech-savvy tactics could
produce some arresting results. About 1,100 campuses, church groups,
and green organizations have already signed up on the campaign's Web
site to hold local, climate-related events. One group will ski in
formation down the shrinking glaciers of Jackson Hole, Wyo. Another
plans a diving expedition in Key West, Fla., to document the threat
climate change poses to coral reefs. And at every step, McKibben's
"distributed revolution" will not only be televised but will also be
YouTubed, blogged, and podcast.
If Step It Up succeeds in drawing together climate activists on
campuses across the U.S., it could help catalyze the first mass student
movement since the days of the Vietnam War. The activities planned for
Apr. 14 could coalesce into "the biggest grassroots environmental event
ever," says McKibben. But will it really be more than a green-tinged
digital lovefest? Youthful idealism, after all, is as old as it is
ephemeral. Over the years, generations of young folks have fallen
passionately for issues, only to shove them into the closet with their
demonstration banners as they get distracted by mortgages, day-care
arrangements, and car repair bills. The "no-nukes" movement of the
1970s failed to rid the world of atomic weapons. And Asian sweatshops
and child labor survived the outrage of campus activists in the 1980s.
It is also true, however, that some uprisings fueled by youthful
passion--the civil rights movement and the antiwar demonstrations of
the 1960s--have altered the course of U.S. history. Many social
scientists, politicians, and business leaders say student-led climate
activism could be a third. "It's a significant movement, and the start
of bigger things," says Michael Oppenheimer, a prominent Princeton
Unlike the Earth Day kids of the 1970s, climate activists who belong to
the 80 million-strong demographic bulge known as the Millennials aren't
hard left or anti-business. Sometimes called Gen Y (teens to mid-20s),
they wield a tool kit that includes Excel spreadsheets, administrators'
numbers on cell-phone speed dials, and blogs. And their ranks represent
a wide swath of disciplines and beliefs, from the 3,000-member
Engineers for a Sustainable World to the Evangelical Youth Climate
Initiative to Net Impact, a green business school network with 130
chapters. Student groups at 570 schools signed up to take part this
year in the Campus Climate Challenge, a campaign sponsored by 30
For now, most Millennial activists are trying to hit the levers where
they live, pushing their colleges to purchase renewable energy and
construct green buildings. Students in the University of California
system wrote the rule book, three years ago, when they persuaded
administrators to buy green energy and embed commitments to green
construction in a multiyear, $7.7 billion budget for new buildings.
"BE CYNICAL...OR EFFECTIVE" At most colleges,
students set more modest goals. At Middlebury in January, 2005, two
dozen students founded an activist group that now attracts about 100
students to its weekly meetings. Pressed by this group, Middlebury
agreed to reduce emissions by constructing an $11 million biomass plant
to heat and cool buildings. The group also made presentations to
trustees, including Felix Rohatyn and Lehman Brothers Inc. (LEH
) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Richard S. Fuld Jr. "I am a big
believer in the audacity of hope," says May Boeve, who helped found the
group. "You can be cynical, or you can choose to be effective."
J.P. Plumlee and his fellow activists at the University of Tennessee
shared similar experiences. They floated a plan to adopt an $8 annual
student fee to help pay for purchases of alternative energy, and got
the proposal endorsed by 4,100 students at the Knoxville school--one of
the highest turnouts for any such vote on campus. The students voted to
impose levies on themselves that would be transferred to the university
to help reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. Two other schools in the
area have enacted similar programs, accounting for 24% of the Tennessee
Valley Authority's clean-energy sales. Now, four more are following
suit. "I used to think global warming was my grandchildren's problem,"
says the college's chancellor, Loren Crabtree. "But we need to deal
with it now, and these young people are our leaders."
Sometimes, the force of students' convictions fundamentally alters
institutions. Last year, Stanford University's Graduate School of
Business redesigned its curriculum to emphasize issues linked to the
environment and corporate responsibility. "Students are coming to
school with a much increased awareness of their impact on society,"
says Garth Saloner, a Stanford economics professor who handled the
Now the first wave of Millennials is entering the workplace, and
businesses that want to attract the most qualified candidates say they
must appeal to students' environmental sensibilities. "They're the
future leaders of our company, the future investors, and future
consumers," says Lorraine Bolsinger, vice-president for GE's
Ecomagination strategy. "Gen Y folks think that the environment is
twice as important as the economy. We absolutely have to think about
Over the next 10 years, there will be a major exodus from the work
world as baby boomers retire. By 2012 there will be just one person
entering the workforce for every four who leave, according to Labor
Dept. data. So companies ranging from Whirlpool (WHR
) and Ben & Jerry's (UN
) to Google (GOOG
), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ
), and General Electric (GE
) say they must understand what motivates climate activists.
Corporate recruiters are encountering more and more candidates like
Ananda Baron. When she applied for a job with Pacific Gas &
Electric Co. (PCG
) last year, the 28-year-old student at Northwestern University's
Kellogg School of Management dug deep into the utility's environmental
bona fides. Baron says she was impressed by PG&E's clean-energy
strategy. But before accepting an invitation to attend a final round of
interviews, she set up a 45-minute call with the company's
environmental affairs director in Washington. "Business is going to
play a role in these issues, and I would like to be there to help out,"
says Baron, who wound up accepting the job PG&E offered.
What students want is of great interest to companies that serve student communities. Sodexho Alliance (SDX
), which handles food and cleaning contracts for 900 colleges and
independent schools, is seeing a 20% annual increase in the number of
accounts demanding food that is local, organic, and grown sustainably.
Burning gasoline or jet fuel to haul produce thousands of miles from
where it's grown is especially galling to students, so Sodexho is
finding and partnering with local suppliers and manufacturers.
If Bill McKibben's Step It Up campaign and other such efforts succeed
in rallying students behind a single environmental banner, an
unexpected force could be unleashed. College kids rarely flock to the
polls, but in the past two federal elections their numbers have
rebounded. "This is a powerful political generation," says William
Strauss, a brand consultant and co-author of Millennials Rising.
The youth vote helped swing the 2006 midterm elections for
green-leaning Democrats, with the addition of an estimated 2 million
new, young voters at the polls. In 2008, global warming "has the power
to bring voters out of their dorm rooms," says Steve McMahon, a
It's fair to be skeptical about a green
alliance of politicians, captains of industry, and campus activists.
For every company that commits to going green, a dozen others are
trying to "greenwash" their reputations. Students, meanwhile, rail
against the ungreen acts of government and industry, but can't be pried
from their iPods (AAPL
), made by Apple Inc. (AAPL
), a company that has yet to embrace sustainable manufacturing.
Gwynne Rogers, an analyst at the Natural Marketing Institute in
Harleysville, Pa., also questions whether students can preserve their
enthusiasm. "For a fleeting moment, you care passionately about a given
issue. Then you are exposed to another, and your allegiance changes."
But because the students are part of a broader societal shift and will
bear the brunt of any climate catastrophe, Middlebury's McKibben thinks
climate activism could be one of those movements that makes a
difference. "There are a lot of people who are educated about global
warming and want to figure out what to do," he says. The students,
ultimately, are the mainstream-in-training.