Utne Blogs > Environment

A Human Movement Against Climate Change

 by Keith Goetzman


Tags: Environment, international, climate change, global warming, Copenhagen, grass-roots activism, Sacramento News and Review, Keith Goetzman,

SN&R 12-3-09It’s clear from the outcome of the Copenhagen talks that the world’s political leaders are not going to lead the way in fighting climate change. What is needed instead, Fred Branfman writes in Sacramento News & Review, is a broad-based “human movement” in which ordinary people recognize the urgency of acting now to avert catastrophe.

Branfman’s essay, “Do Our Children Deserve to Live?,” was in fact written and published in early December, before the Copenhagen summit began, yet the writer boldly—and correctly—predicted the talks would fail. He already recognized that there simply wasn’t enough societal pressure and self-awareness of our grim predicament to effect broad change:

Our basic problem is that the sudden advent of the human climate crisis invalidates our basic beliefs about humanity built up over millennia. We cannot yet see that we are no longer who we think we are. That today:

though we believe we care for our offspring we do not;

though we wish to be remembered well we will be cursed;

though we believe we love life we embrace death;

though we hope to make history we are annihilating it; and

though we seek to contribute to our communities we are destroying them.

Our greatest challenge is to adjust ancient belief systems to the new climate realities that have undone them. If we can break through our fog and clearly see the existential threat we pose to our children, presently unthinkable actions to save them may become possible. But if not, we will remain locked in our cognitive cattle cars, moving inexorably toward the loss of everything we hold dear.

Branfman’s essay, though it unfolds slowly, is ultimately one of the most powerful and articulate calls to action on climate change that I’ve yet seen. It has kicked off a vigorous discussion at the News & Review and at Alternet, where it was reprinted, and Branfman is now exploring ways to actually build the “human movement” he outlined in the piece. (E-mail him at fredbranfman[at]aol.com if you have ideas to share.)

My only reservation is with the child-centric framing of his main point. While I’m a father myself, and “doing it for the kids” is a time-tested method of attracting sympathizers, I worry that it leaves out of the picture everyone who doesn’t have kids—by choice or not—and it might even have the effect of alienating some of them. We need all hands on deck to make the sort of change Branfman is proposing, so I think it’s worth emphasizing that it’s not just about children per se—it’s about the very fate of the whole human race.

Source: Sacramento News & Review

julia_5
2/1/2010 2:05:33 PM

Maybe it just needs to be framed with a quote from William McDonough..."We need to protect all the children of all the species, for all time."


bill peregrine
2/1/2010 11:01:47 AM

I think we are missing a basic and fundamental question, "What do we want our relationship with Nature to look like?" We are floating through space in our own little terrarium and as I experienced in science class in high school, what we do to 1 thing in the terrarium affects the whole. It's hard to swallow that driving my SUV in America is melting ice in polar bear country but that's the reality folks so deal with it. I'm not going to base my decision about how I want to be connected to Nature based on a scientific report... I'm going to go into Nature and ask the question for myself. But that's just me. As Mzee pointed out, we are faced with many difficult environmental challenges. Do I want to support those activities or not?


el burgess_1
2/1/2010 9:09:54 AM

Valerye I agree with you 100% The "sky is falling" crowd like to say that "the science is in" yet every day comes with a new revelation of "science" that is undocumented and patently false. To me and many other thinking and caring people it has become obvious that it is "the fix that is in" I have been a suscriber to MEN most of my adult life however since they have fallen in lock step with those who have lied to and practiced open deception regarding this subject I no longer support them. I canceled my subscription. The sad thing is as the post by Valerye points out so well is that environment areas that are of real concern have been ignored in the hysteria surrounding pronouncements by self-styled and self-serving demagogues that have co-opted the real mover to protect our environment. Where are the articles in MEN that decry the scientific fallacies fostered on the world - in an obvious attempt to manipulate the economic environment. When a fair and honest treatment of the subject is adopted nby MEN I may return - but I am not hopeful - the silence of MEN is deafening.


keith goetzman
1/28/2010 10:56:15 AM

Valerye, If you look into what really happened in the CRU e-mails widely known on the right as "Climategate," you'll find that they don't come anywhere near disproving the broad scientific agreement that climate change is real, human-caused, and a serious threat to life on earth as we know it. "Denier" is an apt word to describe someone like yourself, and your response perfectly embodies what Branfman is writing about: Accepting the reality of climate change would rock your world in such a fundamental way that you simply can't conceive it could be true. Call me a denier of a different sort, for I refuse to believe we are poised on the cusp of a new era of global-warming-caused prosperity and abundance. Keith Goetzman


jwt meakin
1/27/2010 2:42:16 PM

I agree with Valerye in one point: there are great environmental issues over and beyond climate change: deforestation, soil erosion, desertification, aquifer depletion, overfishing, freshwater and ocean pollution,... All these are magnified by the level of human population and made critical by its rate of increase. That's the real problem no politician will address. If you do wish to think yourself concerned about climate change, take note: the single largest element in your carbon footprint is the number of children you have. So in a way you cannot "do it for YOUR children". You can only do it for other people's children by not having any yourself.


valerye
1/27/2010 12:34:26 PM

When will the environmentalist lobby stop treating anthropogenic climate change as fact? Everywhere I turn there is more scare-mongering: Save the earth! Do it for the children! If you love your children, you will embrace Kyoto! The CRU emails that were leaked provide a lot of evidence that the "science" behind man-caused climate change has been tampered with. There are many climate scientists who were well-respected before they came to the "wrong" conclusions about our planet's climate history. Their accusers say they are being paid off by "big oil" and "big industry" while ignoring that the sums received by those reaching the "right conclusions" are being paid exponentially higher ammounts. The hysterical cries of "The sky is falling!" undermines genuine environmental issues we should be dealing with. The proposed solutions have more to do with expanding the grip of governmental control of our lives and less to do with ensuring that we have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink and adequate areas preserved for wildlife. Unfortunately, anyone who doesn't participate in Climate Crisis-thought is usually branded a "denier" and a "hater" of the environment. One last thought - take a look at some of the data on previous warming periods... the Roman warming period and the Medieval warming periods were times when humankind flourished, when the food supply was more abundant and winters were milder. I daresay folks living then thought global warming was good.