This weekend, in advance of a landmark U.N. climate meeting, thousands of people are expected to gather in New York City to attend the worlds largest ever demonstration in support of action against Climate Change. This event is going to be monumental and has the power to change the public policy of nations across the globe. Although i’m not going to be there, I want to say that Nature of Motion stands with those taking part in the People’s Climate March and we will be doing our part to celebrate in Washington State. Over the last few years, the Environmental Movement has evolved to become an extremity of the Human Rights Movement, and while this has been a bit of a confusing road, this reality reflects the truth – Clean air, clean water, a healthy and stable environment: they’re all basic rights shared not only by humans, but by every plant and animal with whom we share our Earth. While the march aims to be something of a turning point, if we’ve learned anything from past marches and Human Rights initiatives, it will really be something of a beginning. The true watershed will be when we adopt the values and morals of an ecologically minded society into our own lives. Now, I’m not saying that world leaders and government officials can’t make a difference, like I said, the People’s Climate march has the potential to shift public policy worldwide, what I’m saying is the march doesn’t end with them making choices and taking actions, it ends with us. There will be supporting marches in major cities around the country, and indeed around the globe, but if you can’t take part in one of these, or the march in NYC, don’t despair, I’ve gathered here a few resources and pieces of encouragement to help you keep the march going every day. Here’s How.
First things first. Watch this movie. In fact, watch every environmentally inclined documentary your library has from the last 10 years. The point of this excursive isn’t to get sad or depressed, it isn’t to make you feel insignificant or hopeless – just the opposite. When you’re watching these films, the point is to get upset, to get angry and frustrated, then – to take action. The world is a big and beautiful place, but terrifyingly, we’re destroying it. This isn’t something to feel hopeless about, remember all the people joining to gather in support of the environment this weekend? There’s lots of us, in fact more every day. The movement for climate justice is growing in many ways, not only through numbers but in awareness and capability as well. We need to create a sense of urgency behind the movement. Soon the clean energy goals we want will become capable of being realized, but there’s more to do.
Action and Energy.
Fighting for clean energy is just one piece of the puzzle. Americans, and indeed developed countries across the world, use an astounding amount of energy every day. Even the medium for this message – The Internet – uses an estimated 80-120 Gigawats of energy every year. Solar panels and windmills don’t fall out of the sky, although the energy they aim to capture does. “Green” energy infrastructure is industrialized, it comes from natural resources that are mined from the earth, often by destructive practices that contribute additional greenhouse gasses and other forms of environmental pollution. Every day, we’re faced with a myriad of opportunities that end up in our using more or less energy, it’s hard to think of anything we do in terms of not having an impact, but in fact I believe that’s exactly what we need to do. Our world is inherently interrelated, often on a far greater scale than we could ever imagine. What this means is that it’s essentially impossible to live outside of the industrialized energy culture. What we can do, however, is limit the amount we burn or consume personally every day. We drive the car, we turn up the thermostat, we buy the Chilean Avocados and Dominican Bananas, and we can choose not to. We can impact our energy use by changing actions related to transportation and mobility, but also with many of our daily habits of consumption and energy usage. That is – we can change our lives. The bottom line is that action isn’t always about building windmills or solar panels, but also about creating a shift in our experiences of habits and routines. As a climber and a cyclist, I believe this starts with changing our concepts of mobility.
Every day American’s use an estimated 366 million gallons of gasoline. Obviously, not all of this is used strictly for transportation, but much of it is, and with a little over 300 million people in America, this amounts to a single gallon for every man, woman and child. Imagine saving each of those gallons – At first, they’re not much – One sits on your floor in a milk-jug, but by the end of a week, you’ve got 7, after a month, nearly enough to fill a barrel. Additionally, when you think about all the other things that could be made with the 19 gallons of crude oil that go into making one gallon of gasoline, well it really adds up. Buses don’t run on happiness, bicycles aren’t built with hope, but if we’re serious about making a difference, every little bit counts – it is, after all, how we got here. Walk, run, bus, ride a bike – every time you don’t drive your car your saving one of those gallons of gasoline.
Today, oil has a dominant position in our energy structure. Not only does it power our transportation and energy infrastructure, but going deeper, we learn it also powers our food systems down to the chemical basis of fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides. Our food system is literally floating on a sea of oil, and it’s our job to make sure it dries up. It’s estimated that the average meal travels some 1500 miles to reach your plate, but as we all know snacking on bananas and peppers in winter, certain items can come from a lot farther away. Food is fuel, if we’re going to have a vibrant, healthy, restorative energy-revolution it’s not going to be powered by oil, wind, water, or the sun, it’s going to be powered by us, that’s right – Human Powered – and we’ll need to be well fed. Really, food is so much more that fuel, it’s nourishment, it’s sustenance and our health, it should be grown with love, care, and fertilized with the manure of animals and plants involved in the ecosystem of the farm. The more we support local and organic food, the shorter that distance every meal has to travel to get to our plate, and the more energy and encouragement we’ll have to make those larger shifts in our mobility.
What it’s all about.
Every time we step into our automobiles we are signing a pledge for the continuation of this dying energy paradigm, – remember – even if you aren’t attending the march this weekend, every day we have the opportunity to turn each of our movements into a show of solidarity for the Climate Movement. Walking or riding your bike just once a week, when you would otherwise drive your car, is going to make a difference. Saving one gallon of gas you would otherwise burn for movement, this is a small success, together, with enough of these small victories, we can change everything.