Sunday, September 21, 2014

Climate Change March in New York: There Are Things We Can Do

Tens of thousands of people are supposed to be marching in New York City this morning to let our leaders - in DC and in other world capitals - know that people want them to take action to mitigate global climate change.  From the New York Times:
“We’re going to sound the burglar alarm on people who are stealing the future,” said Bill McKibben, co-founder of the group, which is helping to organize the march, and the author of several books about climate change, notably “The End of Nature,” published 25 years ago.
“Since then we’ve watched the summer Arctic disappear and the ocean turn steadily acidic,” Mr. McKibben said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “It’s not just that things are not getting better. They are getting horribly worse. Unlike any other issue we have faced, this one comes with a time limit. If we don’t get it right soon, we’ll never get it right.”
Why aren't leaders doing anything?  There are a number of reasons, for example:
  • There are organized campaigns to deny that climate change is happening or if it is, that it's caused by human action. 
  • The oil industry and other carbon fuel related businesses and those that maintain their infrastructure all have a short term financial interest in not making changes and keep the pressure on the public and politicians to do nothing.  Much like the tobacco industry did and still does deny tobacco is harmful.
  • While people are starting to feel the effects of climate change - particularly in extreme weather patterns, for example, bringing huge rainfalls in some places and drought in others, the connection to human behavior is not obvious.
  • People who understand it's a problem don't know what to do or think it's too late.

There are solutions.  I joined the Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) because I was so impressed with
  • the information and experts they had
  • their organization and efficiency, and
  • their focus on a revenue neutral (tax revenue is returned to citizens) carbon tax as the most effective and politically viable way to fight climate change.
  • the first Saturday of the month international call in meetings with great speakers and brief but empowering reports on what CCL has accomplished in the previous month.
CCL chapter map - click map to find your local chapter

You can see from the map there are chapters nearby most everyone in the U.S. and Canada.  If you want to be cheered up, rather than depressed about global warming and what can and is being done, go to a chapter near you.  The next meeting is Saturday, October 4.  The national phone call to all the chapters is at 10am Pacific Time.)  In Anchorage we meet at Rasmuson Hall 220 at UAA at 8:30 Alaska Time.

CCL's basic tactic - as the name implies - is to create chapters in every congressional district and have members lobby their representatives and senators.  In the three years I've been going to CCL meetings they've grown from 45 chapters to over 200.  Members bring information to their congress members about the benefits of the carbon tax which will significantly - more than any other option - lower CO2.  CCL members aren't confrontational and bring the latest and best information to their representatives.  You can see from their website that they've got lots of resources.  The goal is to build a relationship of trust over the long term.  Reps come to know that CCL members won't harass them, but will give them straight information. 

A recent report by REMI - Regional Economic Modeling Inc. - commissioned by CCL - looked at the potential economic impacts of the carbon tax they propose.  REMI does economic modeling of various taxes and other projects to see how they will impact a state's or the nation's economy.  States regularly contract with REMI  to determine the economic impact tax and other proposals.  That's what they were asked to do with the carbon tax proposal.    Other studies have already determined that the carbon tax will be reduce CO2.  This was a study to determine what such a tax would do to the economy, because critics claimed it would cost jobs and hurt the economy.  Turns out they were wrong.

The REMI Report's main points on the revenue neutral Carbon Tax:
  • The Fee And Dividend returns money to households, who spend it, which has a positive economic effect
  • Consumer-centric industries tend to be more labor-intensive than the capital-intensive fossil fuel supply chain
  • The border adjustment helps American exporters maintain competitiveness on the world marketplace
  • The United States imports more and exports less but the Fee And Dividend is enough consumer spending that GDP stays positive
From the CCL website, here are some links to the study:
I started this post early this morning, but grandfathering duties intervened.  Here's a more recent New York Times update.  It doesn't say how many people marched, but it does say:
Under leaden skies, throngs of demonstrators stretching as far as the eye could see moved through Midtown Manhattan late Sunday morning, chanting their demands for action on climate change.

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