Engaging in Climate Action (II): What We Can Do Together

Introduction: 

The work we undertake, of necessity, needs to be guided and supported at every level by organizations and institutions —from neighborhood associations (like NABB, which seeks to inform and support its residents in their engagement in climate action); to engineers, architects, developers, and contractors; to providers of energy, businesses and professional groups involved in that in energy development, and, of course, to the local, state, national governmental and international institutions that oversee and regulate activity impacting on Global Warming. Therefore, it is vital that we collectively raise our voices and influence to encourage and support–to those many different decision-makers—the critical importance of the climate action work that we, and they, must now take on.

There is no time to waste; global warming is moving inexorably forward, and the greatest danger is that we will do too little too late and run out of time. The race against time is ‘on.’ Now is the moment for decisive, effective, and collective action

It is this panel of experts that has urged nations to work with a heightened sense of urgency to keep climate warming in this century in the range of 1.5 -2.0 Fahrenheit, and no greater, to avoid irreversibly compounding and disastrous consequences for the planet.

While environmental racism and environmental justice has become popular in 2020, work toward environmental justice is not new. BIPOC environmentalists have been working for environmental justice for years. 

Environmental Justice Statement

Robert Bullard, “ran the first study on eco-racism in 1979 where he found that toxic waste sites in Houston, Texas were disproportionately located in Black communities. Bullard is known as “The Father of the Environmental Justice Movement” and is the author of 18 books on sustainability.

Environmental Justice starts today. 

The negative impacts of Global Warming often fall first and heaviest on the people of the world who are the poorest, often minority group members, and invariably the least politically powerful. We are already seeing this trend in the rising migrations of ‘climate refugees.’

Environmental Injustice, however, is not new. The poor among us, and more so if they are minorities, have frequently been the victims of political decisions that have made their neighborhoods less healthy and less inviting to live in. These deliberate choices to route major highways through poor neighborhoods or to locate within their boundaries major industries, major waste disposal sites, and other sources of toxicity in the air, water, and ground. The results are devastating. For example, Black people in the United States are three times more likely to die from pollution-related diseases than White people. It is not an accident.

Slowing down Global Warming anywhere on the earth is a good thing, but ensuring that the work gives priority to communities impacted by environmental injustice is essential. For decades now, Black environmentalists—together with others– have been raising this alarm and calling for action. The alarm is justified, and we must answer the call to action.

 

Things We Will Do Working Together

Transitioning off Fossil Fuels to a Clean Energy Future

This is the biggest challenge of this decade, and of those to follow. Fossil Fuels have been with us for three hundred years, and the economies of the world, developed and emerging, are built on their use. Here is a link to an excellent—if a bit frenetic—animated history of fossil fuels: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJ-J91SwP8w

From Dirty . . .

As indicated, we now have a very short time to pivot off of fossil fuels to clean energy.  The Massachusetts new law,  An Act Creating a Next Generation  Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Action Policy, signed by the Governor in April 2021,  establishes clear goals for the reduction of  Green House Gases:  50% by 2030 and 100% by 2050.

The complexity of this transition from fossil fuels (gas, coal, and oil, mostly)  to clean fuel sourced from solar, wind and hydro is hard to imagine, but it must happen if we are to avert disastrous outcomes within the lifetime of a child born today. And even while special interests groups  will attempt to delay and stop  decisive and immediate action, they  must not be permitted to do so. 

. . . to Clean. We can do it!

Citizens of the Commonwealth can help to advance the state’s Climate Action Policy by doing two things: First, by educating themselves on the issues and remaining informed.  Second, by supporting legislation and regulatory actions that will promote the best ideas for Climate Action as outlined in the Act Creating a next Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts. In both of these areas there is room enough for everyone to do what is possible for them to do at the time—however expansive or small our action.  It only matters that everyone participate in this world-wide effort to slow the pace of Global Warming.

Edmund Burke

“Nobody makes a greater mistake than he who does nothing because he could do only a little.” – Edmund Burke

Staying Informed

One way to remain informed is to get on the mailing list (and financially support) at least one of the many organizations that keep an eye on pending legislation. Three such organizations are:

 Selecting an organization to inform you can also be an invitation to become engaged in their work of advocacy or direct action. You might chose one of the three above, or find one more interesting to you on our Resource List in Section VII. 

 

Becoming Involved in the Public Arena

The way to support climate friendly legislation and similar regulatory action is  fairly simple: Make your citizen-presence known and heard.  Establish a working relationship with those legislators who represent you and do the same with those government officials who work on climate related issues on your behalf.  Whether elected or appointed, these are the people who are making key decisions, so, ideally, get to know them (most elected officials hold ‘office hours’); talk to them in person or on the phone; send emails or letters thanking them for doing what you think is right and urging them on to do more. 

And do this at the national, state, and local level.  Your city councilor or selectperson is making important decisions that will impact on the environment; so also our Congressperson or Senator and the President.  Make sure they know your views.  They actually matter more than most people believe. 

This model of citizen engagement will apply to most of the issues addressed below so use it in the same fashion.  Our democracy works best when we do the work to make it do so. Do not sit back.  Be engaged.

 

Shirley Chisholm, First Black Women Elected to Congress, serving from 1969-1983, and, in 1972, the first African American and first Woman to Run for a major party’s Nomination for President”

 

 

 

You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making our Buildings Energy Efficient and Fueled with Clean Energy

The challenges, solutions, and opportunity exist for Boston to pivot now from its fossil-fueled past and lead the transition to clean energy; this means moving our building designs into the 21st century through a relentless focus on efficiency and cost-effective switches from gas and other fossil fuels to clean, electricity-based heating/cooling. Learn more

 

“Historically, super-tall buildings have focused on structural challenges…The rules have changed, and energy has become the defining problem of our generation.” — Scott Duncan of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill