Many of us already know enough about Climate Change to start now to reverse it before it is too late to prevent immense loss of life, which many scientists assert may well occur during this century, with grave consequences for our children and grandchildren.
The question is: How we can halt and reverse Climate Change, given the great economic and political power of the two groups of Americans who support it, namely:
- The small percentage of the population who reap immense profits from the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. This includes not only oil, coal and gas companies but also utilities, airlines, car companies, railroads, the defense industry and food (especially meat) companies, as well as virtually all other large companies. After all, their profits are made possible by the burning of fossil fuels, and profit is the be-all and end-all of their lives.
- The great majority of the population, who drive cars, use electricity, fly on planes, eat meat, depend on products moved by trucks, railroads and ships, and in various ways use products and services that depend on the burning of fossil fuels, all of which make their lives comfortable and relatively free of hardship.
Even a brief glance at these two groups reveals the great difficulty of our task:
- American corporations run most of the economic system which determines and shapes the lifestyles of most Americans who want only to see their lifestyles improved, and therefore support the work of those corporations. They use their almost unlimited finances to control all three branches of the federal government, making it difficult for us to persuade our elected representatives to bring corporations to seek the common good. Their control of the federal government includes the military, the FBI, the NSA and the CIA, making it difficult for us to take to the streets in protests. Their ownership of most of the mainstream media makes it difficult for us to place valid information in the hands of the public.
- The primary goal of most of the second group is to enjoy a good life – job, family, friends and home. They are very happy with the fruits of the Industrial Revolution and have no desire to surrender them.
In spite of these obstacles, some of us are acutely aware of the impending catastrophes from Climate Change and are looking for an effective process to avoid them as far as possible.
An essential element of that process is community because community involves the mutual support, trust, exchanges of resources and information and joint action that are needed for persistence and effective action.
One form of community is Small Groups, perhaps 10-20-30 members in each. The Small Group will choose its initial activities, and gradually add on additional ones based on its members’ interests, needs and resources.
The first task therefore for us is to form a Small Group by inviting some individuals we know – relatives, friends, neighbors, business associates – or an existing group e.g. a college or a church or a community group, to get together to discuss Climate Change and to plan a course of action. The Coalition will be happy to suggest ample resources for these discussions.
That Group’s activities will be aimed primarily at grappling with Climate Change, but in alliance with similar nearby Groups it may choose to use some of its time and energy to work toward a more just, caring and democratic society. To achieve both objectives, members of the Groups will:
- Keep aware of current economic and environmental conditions.
- Use their power of the vote to elect and reelect responsive politicians and keep before the eyes of the public the records of politicians’ performance.
- Patronize companies that operate in an economically and environmentally just manner and shun those that do not so operate.
- Start worker-owned companies that operate in an economically and environmentally just manner, the best example of which is the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation in Spain.
- Create self-reliant metropolitan areas with respect to housing, jobs, transportation, energy, food, education, health care and other basic needs.
- Reach out to others to invite them to participate in this effort. They will place in their hands valid and credible information about Climate Change. If those others understand that their very survival is at stake, as well as that of their families, present and future, many of them will listen carefully to this information, take it seriously and respond to the appeal for action in Small Groups.
- Engage in social activities that promote mutual friendship, trust, comradeship and solidarity.
What is required for success is ultimately many Small Groups (ultimately hundreds of thousands) that focus not only on Climate Change, but also on economic injustice, imperialism and lack of democracy. Many Americans are not initially disposed to work on the economy or imperialism or government but will work on Climate Change because it focuses on survival, which virtually everyone values for themselves, their children and their grandchildren. These Small Groups will be interconnected and will work together.
With respect to Climate Change, our primary task is to acquire and use economic and political power to engineer a major reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, through an extraordinary increase in conservation and the use of renewables – solar, windpower, hydropower, geothermal, biofuels.
Saul Alinsky once said that the two routes to power in the U.S. are organized money and organized people. In this case, more than a few organized people, because a few simply don’t have enough economic and political power to change group #1 above and prevail over group #2 above. We’ll never be able to reverse Climate Change until we bring together a great number of caring people in community. Of course, individuals should engage in appropriate personal lifestyle changes, but such actions are far from sufficient to reverse Climate Change.
When several Small Groups have started, we shall invite their members to come together periodically in several regional centers e.g. New York, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Los Angeles etc.
Grassroots Coalition for Environmental and Economic Justice
21431 Marlin Circle Shade Gap PA 17255