A confession: I'm not doing anything for "Moving Planet" — it's a soggy day here and I've spent the day so far at home with my daughter.
But I wrote two LTEs yesterday hooked on today's theme. I offer them up to you if you want something to steal.
Yesterday evening I sat down to write, and entered the phrase "moving planet news" into my search bar. I got a gratifyingly high number of hits, including quite a few print outlets. Interestingly, the vast majority of articles were in local and regional papers; it seems that positive reporting on locally centered events is largely the prerogative of human-interest reporters for local and regional news outlets.
This is good news; smaller papers receive fewer letters and are thus more likely to print yours.
I sat down to write, but found I needed a few minutes to clarify my thinking.
Environmental disasters make letter-writing easy. See all that oil bubbling into the Gulf? There's a good reason to reduce consumption.
Potential disasters are also excellent. The Keystone XL is a bad idea, because ________.
It's harder to write a useful letter on what is at some level a DFH event (I am a proud member of the tribe). Simply sending a letter saying, "Yay for Moving Planet!" would be insufficient. If I was going to hang a LTE on an article about an M.P. event, I needed to say something that would be both relevant and novel to the newspaper and its readers, or I'd just be relegated to the trash right away.
Eventually, I arrived at a useful underlying question: what are all those participants all over the world actually hoping to bring about, in the fullness of time? While the bicycle parades and environmentally-oriented festivities have a useful effect in that they bring people together in an atmosphere of hope (thereby fostering the community spirit that we're all going to need to beat the worst of the climate crisis), the organizers' motivations have to go deeper.
And so my first letter began to take shape.
Friday's edition of the Milford, MA Daily News carried a sympathetic article on "Moving Planet", leading with these nicely crafted paragraphs:
Many scientists and climate experts understand that 350 ppm (parts per million) of carbon carbon dioxide (CO2) is the amount considered to be the safe upper limit of the gas in the earth's atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere allowing humans to live on earth, but at higher levels leads to global warming.
The bad news is that the earth's atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide are currently at 392 ppm and are increasing by 2 ppm every year. If this trend continues, a tipping point could be reached and irreversible damage done to the planet. The good news is that the planet is still at a point where if changes are made now to significantly reduce the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse emissions, the planet could slowly cycle some of the extra carbon in the atmosphere and get back to 350 ppm. That is the goal of 350.org.
Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org (www.350.org) and author of several books on climate change, says we cannot remain on the wrong side of 350. He organized 350.org as a global movement to bring attention to this vexing worldwide problem. This year, 350.org linked up with Moving Planet to organize Saturday's global day of action, a movement created to continue beyond this date of unity.
My letter was an attempt to elucidate the event's philosophical underpinnings. Was I successful? Do these 150 words make sense to you?
The rationale for the "Moving Planet" action rests in the fact that the biggest culprit in the global warming emergency is not a single individual, or even a single organization. Rather, the steadily increasing concentration of greenhouse gases is brought about by the industrialized civilization within which we all live.
"Top-down" political and regulatory solutions are essential to a viable resolution of the climate crisis, but they are insufficient without a widespread change in our ways of living. While our complex, vibrant informational culture has made worldwide interconnectedness a possibility, it consumes environmental resources far faster than they can be renewed.
We must transform our economy away from consumption and towards replenishment — without losing the planetary sensibility that made modern environmentalism possible. To succeed, this transformation must be both global and local, immediate and long-term — which is why Bill McKibben's vision is so relevant and inspiring. Let's ride.
At that point I wasn't ready to abandon my theme right away. I moved onward through my search results, and found an article in the September 24 Fiji Times, reporting sympathetically on "Moving Planet," complete with a quote from a local beauty queen. As an island nation, Fiji is right there on the front lines of climate change, so their words have particular relevance:
YOU and I have only one planet, one home — if we do not act, we can risk the brunt of a climate catastrophe, says Vodafone 2011 Hibiscus Queen Alisi Rabukawaqa.
Ms Rabukawaqa is part of a campaign called Moving Planet which is a day of global events focused on the need to move the planet beyond fossil fuels.
A statement from Moving Planet-350 Fiji yesterday called on all walkers, runners, cyclists, paddlers and other non-fossil fuel-powered movers to take to the streets on September 24 which has been designated for the event.
"On Saturday, September 24 we join people all over the world in more than 180 countries to show our support for moving beyond fossil fuels and tackling climate change," the statement said.
Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org said, governments all over the world were complacent about the increasing climate crisis.
"This is the day when people will get the earth moving, rolling towards solutions we need," he said.
So I took my previous letter and rewrote it, getting the following:
Bill McKibben and 350.org have taken on perhaps the most daunting challenge in the history of grassroots movements for social change: a long-term campaign to transform our planetary economy away from consumption, and toward renewal and replenishment.
The global warming emergency wasn't caused by any individual, organization or society, but is a byproduct of our complex civilization. While industrialized culture has brought us countless wonders and facilitated global interconnectedness to an unprecedented degree, it also consumes far more of our irreplaceable environmental resources than we replace.
Political and regulatory approaches, while crucial to solving the climate crisis, cannot replace what's really needed: a profound change in our ways of living.
This change must be subtle, yet radical; global, yet local; immediate, yet long-term. With millions of people working collectively across the globe, our chances of success are slim. So why bother? Because shirking this challenge is a guarantee of catastrophe.
What I'm always hoping is that people who read my diaries & letters will be inspired to write some of their own. Perhaps offering two different versions of the same idea can be useful to aspiring LTE writers. If you write something, please let me know.
Recently I was published in the Whittier Daily News (sticking up for Al Gore), the Solomon Star News (in the Solomon Islands!), and in the Cypress Times (CA), (commenting on tea-partiers and their chronic reality-denial problem). Last week was pretty productive; they're not always that good.
If you get a chance, drop in at my blog, where I have a Climate Letter for every day since January 1, 2010 — along with a whole bunch of other stuff.
Okay. That's what I've got for today. How was your Moving Planet?
|MovingPlanet@Kos is a collaborative action with the Moving Planet team, the Global Campaign for Climate Action, WiserEarth, tcktcktck, the Sierra Club, DeSmogBlog, EcoCity Builders, and Transition US. Together, we are launching a 'package' of educational and inspirational writing and art, rattling the twitterverse in a cooperative social media campaign, and sharing some of the most innovative and extraordinary 9/24 events.
Visit the Moving Planet Earthship for updates and links to news and postings as well as all Coverage@Kos.
9 am -11 Enviro Writer
11-1: Jill Richardson
1-3 Kelly Rigg, Global Campaign for Climate Action
3-5 Roger Fox
5-7 Richard Register, Ecocity Builders
7-9 Franke James, Environmental Artist
9-11 Warren S
Saturday, September 24 ALL TIMES EST
9-11 Bill McKibben, 350.org
11-3 Sierra Club LiveBlog
3-5 Peggy Duvette, WiserEarth events around world
7-9 Post Carbon Institute
9-12 Liveblog: Best of Daily Kos Alt Energy Diaries as liveblog for report ins
Sunday, September 25. ALL TIMES EST
Wrap ups and Report ins