By Elisabeth Soto, Founder & Director of C4
It's been a tough few months, and not just for environmentalists. This latest winter and holiday season, thinking about the recent shrinking of national monuments, including Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (more info here)—not to mention threats to end the Endangered Species Act —is enough to give anyone the winter blues. For those who care about the environment, the potential harm to renewable energy sector and jobs due to the recent tax reform (i.e. the BEAT tax) was devastating news and it has both clean energy associations and providers reeling. Only time will tell what the full effects of this legislation will be.
On a personal note, I can't quite tell if it's just me, or if there is truly an impalpable, melancholic feeling in the air. As I walk around the New York City streets, Coldplay's Christmas Lights lyrics come to mind.
Doesn't really feel like Christmas at all
Still waiting for the snow to fall
Certainly, wallowing in despair gets us nowhere, even as we genuinely wonder what is to come in the future following earth's hottest year.
At the same time, thinking about recent events plaguing not just the earth, but our country as a whole, brings another man's words to mind. Martin Luther King once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter," and in spite of the challenges, our individual voices continue to ring louder than ever.
Organizations working on pro-climate policies are diligently catalyzing public action like never before. We remain far from silent, but instead, are filled with determination. This was visible in my most recent C4 (Christians Concerned About Climate Change) meeting, a non-partisan group aimed at engaging in environmental stewardship through prayer, discussion, and action through climate change activism. I witnessed individuals who had little prior knowledge about the issue show great concern and vow to take swift action.
That being said, I would like to encourage you to do the same and, if you're like me, to channel your frustration into action, which I detail below.
Why? Because there has never been a more urgent time to do so. That is not alarmist. That is a fact. As a most recent WMO report shows, we are facing irreversible processes: global warming, the acidification of the oceans, the loss of biodiversity, desertification, the death of coastal marine zones and the contamination of water. What does that mean in layman's terms? To start it signifies unprecedented economic loss (i.e. billions of dollars in climate adaptation and extreme weather related costs), reduced oxygen in the world, the spread of disease and so much more. The time to act is now, not three years from now, as some scientists have pointed out is the shrinking time window for the world to lower emissions before the worst effects of climate change become completely irreversible. An article published this last summer from the Guardian points out warnings from recent UN reports:
Avoiding dangerous levels of climate change is still just about possible, but will require unprecedented effort and coordination from governments, businesses, citizens and scientists in the next three years, a group of prominent experts has warned.
The authors, including former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, argue that the next three years will be crucial. They calculate that if emissions can be brought permanently lower by 2020 then the temperature thresholds leading to runaway irreversible climate change will not be breached.
But will the human heart change soon enough for it to wake up to the threat that faces us? Where do you stand?
I read once in a book on prayer by Paul E. Miller that "We can't do battle with evil without letting God destroy the evil that's within us as well." So that is what I did and continue to do, in addition to sharing this message of hope: there are at least 7 things you can do to fight climate change RIGHT NOW. Yes...right now. Ready?