Monday, October 26, 2009

it works both ways

A public address delivered to those gathered at the 350 International Day of Action in New Bedford, Massachusetts on October 24th, 2009

picture from, New Zealand

Last night, on the other side of the planet, a conscious group of individuals gathered in the mountains of New Zealand to greet the first rays of sunlight to hit the earth on this arbitrary calendar day, October 24th, 2009. They gathered with a very specific intent: to be the first ripple in a wave of heightened awareness to spread across the globe on this day.

Today, people 181 countries are coming together for the most widespread day of environmental action in the planet's history. At over 5200 events around the world, people are gathering to call for strong action and bold leadership on the climate crisis.

Thank you for being part of this amazing event!

Science tells us that we must immediately begin to reduce global atmospheric CO2 to below 350 ppm in order "to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted. " Currently, we’re at 390, and climbing by 2 ppm each year. Most of the economically and politically “feasible” action proposals put forth by world governments consider 450 or even 550 ppm to be acceptable.

The last time the Earth was at 450 ppm, the oceans were 75 meters higher. A coastal city, like New Bedford, would be completely under water. Is that acceptable?

Our global greenhouse gas emissions have been on an exponential curve for decades. Science tells us that our yearly emissions must not only decrease, but they must peak by 2014, and then drop rapidly in order to avoid catastrophic climate change.

It is clearly an amazing, and daunting challenge, and there’s no simple answer. The only thing I know for sure, is that we’re all in this together. And that the only way past this global challenge is to come together as a global family.

Because climate change is about more than just carbon in the atmosphere. It is perhaps the most visible and immediately threatening symptom of a much larger disease. And yet this crisis may be exactly what we need to wake up to this fact. Perhaps we’re ready to realize that at the root of all our problems is a defective and fatal world view.

This idea of kill-or-be-killed,
Of competition over cooperation,
Of systematic oppression and exploitation of people and planet,
the mechanistic worldview of Empire is finally being exposed as the short-sighted failure that it is.

Many of us have heard about the maxim represented by Chinese character for Crisis and Opportunity. The climate crisis gives us an incredible opportunity: an opportunity to reweave the very fabric of our culture, to lay the framework for a truly just and sustainable global society, to redefine the way we relate to each other and the planet.

But the opportunity also works both ways.

Those in power want to remain in power, and are using this crisis towards their own advantage,
They are breeding a new form of colonialism, where rights to pollute our common atmosphere are bought and sold. They’ve fabricated a variety of thinly-veiled programs to maintain the status quo:
Carbon capture and sequestration,
bogus carbon-offsets and carbon markets,
and of course “clean coal”

But as Einstein put it: “The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.”

So quite simply, how can we entrust our very survival as a civilization to the same “free market” forces that brought us to this precipice? (we can’t)

We know that Empire is unsustainable, but they can see nothing beyond their own world view, and seem to be ready to go down with the ship.

But we won’t let them take us with them.

We are here today to demand meaningful action from our so-called “world leaders.” This December in Copenhagen, they must reach an international climate agreement that is Ambitious, fair and binding, that is in line with what Science is telling us, and that prioritizes the interests of people over the interests of the corporations.

But we clearly can’t put all our eggs in this one basket.

We must realize that our future is ultimately in our own hands. And we are writing our future story right now.

In our own communities, we must each cultivate climate solutions which are
decentralized, locally-controlled, bioregionally appropriate and socially just.

We must work to build community resilience, both to mitigate the causes and to adapt to the changing face of our feverish Mother Earth.

And we must work intimately with each other, and within ourselves to heal the initial trauma, the disconnection that brought us here in the first place.

I have an incredible sense of excitement and anticipation for this time which we have entered. We are here for the birthing of new society, the next step in our collective evolution. Don’t get me wrong: things are going to get MUCH worse before they get better. But we are carefully planting many seeds around the world. And like a forest fire, which disturbs the established system of hierarchy and order, our seeds are being activated and given space to grow.

Thank you for being here, for being part of this, and for being ready to brave the coming storm with clarity of purpose, and positive intent.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

We’re all on the same boat! - 350 Day of Action in New Bedford

New Bedford, a coastal city with a strong nautical heritage, is home to a growing and creative movement for social equality, green jobs, and environmental justice. On Saturday, hundreds of concerned individuals surrounded a sailboat placed curiously in the middle of an intersection of downtown New Bedford, with a sail that boldly read: “ The people there were joining thousands of others across the globe as part of the largest environmental action in history. The message: The world is ready for an international climate treaty that is ambitious, fair, and binding, and that follows what science is telling us.

350 may be the most important number in the world. Science tells us that it’s the highest level of atmospheric CO2 that we can maintain if we wish to “maintain a planet like that on which civilization developed.” (We’re currently at 390 and climbing.) I found the sailboat to be an incredibly powerful way to accent the nautical heritage of New Bedford and to highlight its vulnerability to sea level rise. Perhaps most importantly, it symbolizes the importance of community resilience and adaptation in the face of this emerging climate crisis.

When I first heard that Bioneers by the Bay: Connecting for Change was happening the same weekend as the 350 event, I was excited at the possibilities of how these unique and powerful initiatives would combine forces in the city of New Bedford. Bioneers is an inspirational gathering of individuals sharing “visionary and practical solutions for restoring the Earth and its inhabitants.” What a perfect context in which to punctuate the global message of! We have the solutions to avert climate disaster and sustainable communities. We must simply realize that we’re all in the same boat, and make up our minds to act as one.