What do Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, South Korea, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, South Africa, Taiwan, Turkey, United Kingdom, Northern Ireland and the USA have in common?
These are all countries where organizing is taking place toward actions on November 4th or, in Africa, on the 11th as part of worldwide International Days of Climate Action. This campaign is building upon successful actions held last year on Dec. 3rd, the first International Day of Climate Action, in about 20 countries. 80,000 participated last year; many more are expected this year. To find out more go to http://www.globalclimatecampaign.org.
The November actions will be taking place at the same time that a major United Nations Climate Change conference is happening in Nairobi, Kenya from Nov. 6-17. By our united actions we will be speaking with one loud voice to demand that the governments of the world accelerate and deepen their commitment to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
For those of us who understand the urgency of the climate crisis, this is very good news. It is a much-needed development, given the disturbing news that keeps emerging of how far advanced global heating really is. Just a few days ago, Reuters reported that “Arctic perennial sea ice — the kind that stays frozen year-round — declined by 14 percent between 2004 and 2005, climate scientists said on Wednesday.” 14% in one year!!
For those of us in the United States, November 4th presents both challenges and an opportunity.
One challenge is for us to step up to the plate and do our part as residents of the country which leads the world in the spewing out of greenhouse gases, 23% of the worldwide total. To make matters worse, the USA, under the mis-leadership of Bush/Cheney, is THE country doing the most to obstruct and frustrate the efforts of other countries to deal with this serious crisis.
We cannot allow ExxonMobil and other oil companies to keep setting energy policy for our country and too much of the world!
But there is also a specific challenge having to do with the November 4th date: it is only three days before a very important national election in the USA. Many activists, in different ways, will be working over the coming weeks to have an impact on those elections, to get a different Congress that is more likely to stand up to Bush/Cheney on energy policy, the war and a whole host of issues.
This will only happen, of course, if we continue to build a grassroots-based progressive movement that brings issue-oriented pressure to bear on whoever is elected.
Which is why those of us who have begun working toward actions on November 4th think that this challenge of closeness to the elections can become an opportunity.
What if, on November 4th, all over the country, in scores of neighborhoods, towns and cities, many thousands of people gathered early in the day to rally in support of the federal government passing legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80%, the amount scientists say is needed to stabilize our climate? Such legislation was introduced this summer in both the House and the Senate: http://www.house.gov/waxman/safeclimate/index.htm and http://jeffords.senate.gov/~jeffords/press/06/07/072006climatebill.html .
What if the local organizers of these rallies figured out a creative approach for them, or lined up people to speak who had name recognition in the area, such that when they did systematic outreach to local media they got a positive response? Then, a few days before the election, millions of voters would be hearing about a national movement, one connected internationally, that is urging voters to only vote for candidates who have good positions on climate issues.
What if after those rallies people went to shopping areas, door to door or busy street corners with literature providing information on the positions of local candidates on climate issues and websites where people could get more information?
And what if this work was continued up until Tuesday, November 7th, such that huge numbers of voters went to the polls with this information fresh in their mind?
Let’s not underestimate our power: we could have a significant impact, short- and longer-term.Recent polling has shown that huge majorities of U.S. Americans-around 70%– are concerned about global warming and want government to take action on it. The fields are fertile for the organizers willing to go out and do the work. Don’t mourn, organize!
You can find out more about how to endorse and organize for November 4th actions, as well as about climate issues, at www.climatecrisiscoalition.org or www.climateemergency.org or by contacting Ted Glick at [email protected], 973-338-5398.