Editorial - Reclaiming Our Climate Future

We live in a time of great uncertainty that is reflected in the political turmoil and stark choices before us in the coming election.  So far this election cycle the mainstream media and the debates have almost entirely avoided the subject of climate change and how our energy policy needs to radically change.  Republican orthodoxy requires their candidates to deny that climate change is even a problem.  As a parent and grandparent this is a real worry to me, and I know that I am not alone. Imagine the concern young people must have, when they hear what is and is not being talked about by the candidates, as they face this unprecedented and uncertain future.

Can we maintain our optimism, as one month after another breaks world records for the highest global temperature in the history of civilization?   Friday evening in San Rafael we have an opportunity to hear what Bill McKibben, our nations’ most articulate and fervent spokesperson for pulling back from climate disaster, has to say.  McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, somehow manages to discuss this dark problem with a life affirming belief in humankind’s capabilities.  After speaking, he will join a conversation with four young people who are actively studying and working on climate issues.  These millennials will talk about their concerns and the work they are doing in response to those concerns.  Seeing how engaged they have become is always inspiring and a source of renewed hope and energy for us all.

 The importance of our collective response to this challenge is highlighted by a major new study by Oil Change International, The Sky’s the Limit: Why the Paris Climate Goals Require a Managed Decline of Fossil Fuel Production, which lays out a clear, scientific basis for our energy policy choices.  Key recommendations include a just transition for the affected workers and communities, and encouraging the fastest possible growth of the wind and solar industries. 

This study led to a New Republic article, Recalculating the Climate Math, in which Bill McKibben asserts that we are “in a war with climate change,” but that we still have a chance to safely transition our society from fossil fuels to renewable energy.  It remains to be seen if are we going to fight for our children and our civilization, or allow the Exxon’s of the world to keep telling us that an alternative future is not possible and that there is no danger in our current path anyway. 

If we have hope, it is in our hands and those of the younger generation, to expand the growing movement for a massive, “World War II scale,” investment in the development of renewable energy, which McKibben successfully fought to include in the Democratic platform.  He also insists that we must stop all further development of fossil fuel infrastructure and leave existing untapped reserves of fossil fuels in the ground.  This includes halting new projects, like the Dakota Access Pipeline, currently being challenged by united Native American communities across the continent. 

All these ideas will be discussed Friday evening in this timely and thought provoking program, “Reclaiming our Climate Future - Bill McKibben and Bay Area Millennials.”  The program is hosted by 350Marin.org at the San Rafael Community Center Auditorium, 618 B Street, October 21, from 7 to 8:30 pm.

Please be there to learn how we can protect our children’s future.  A minimum donation of $10 is requested and students enter free!

Richard Gray

350 Marin

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