Education for a Sustainable and Safe Future / A Catalyst for Understanding

"In this way the first men were made, and soon they filled the far reaches of the earth. But for a long time they did not know what to do with their noble limbs or the divine spirit which had been breathed into them. They saw, yet they did not see; they heard, yet they did not hear. . . Then Prometheus [Forethought] came to their aid."   Gustav Schawab, Die Sagen des Klassischen Altertums, translated by Marx and Morwitz; Pantheon Books


Our First Priority:   Climate change is the most important challenge our world has ever faced.  Understanding climate change and its solutions are the most important educational challenges we have ever faced.

“Our best hope is that the public become informed and get angry”

Dr. Warren Washington, Senior Researcher at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, spoke these words in 2006, at the ASES conference in Denver, Colorado.  That was FIVE years ago -- We are now more than one-half of the way into the ten-year window estimated that we had to make significant changes in our greenhouse-gas emissions. 

It's Time To Get Serious:  On Beyond Footprints. . . . 10 Things That You Can Do*.

My Climate Matters, Does Yours?

#1: Write/Email/Call Your Representatives in Congress.

  1. Write/Call/Email Your Representatives in Congress: If you say you care, they care what you say. Note: those email petitions are good, but individual contact is much better.
  2. Have a Party: A Contact-Your-Representatives party, where everyone writes/emails/calls your/their representatives.
  3. Go See Your Representatives: Going to Washington would be fun, but they also have district offices. Call them, find out when they’ll be home. And they always have aides on staff.
  4. Check It Out: At home, at school, where you shop, the companies whose stuff you buy. In your town - how much energy is consumed? Where does it come from?
  5. Take a Photo: Say, of a “removed” mountaintop, and send it to everyone you know.
  6. Get Creative: Write a song, Draw a cartoon. Be the next Bob Dylan. (Okay, be the next Seth McFarlane.) Make a mockumentary; Start an anti-ad campaign.
  7. Have an Invent-a Bumper Sticker Contest: Put them on all your stuff. (note - bumper stickers aren't just for cars anymore.)
  8. Educate Others: Especially the media ? If you hear, see, or read something misleading, biased, or illogical, complain. Don’t let them parrot nonsense.
  9. Gang Up/Join a Tribe: See what others have planned. Try See what others are doing. Try Siemens' We Can Change the World:
  10. Your Idea Here: You think of something. Post it on your Facebook page.

The preamble explains everything else in the Constitution. And it says: We the People of the United States, in Order to . . . promote the general Welfare . . . do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. If they are going to carry out this purpose, our representatives have to start by protecting the climate and weather systems that we depend upon.
Paying attention to our own carbon footprints is important, but it isn’t nearly enough*; the system itself has to change ? Just like with civil rights in the 60’s.
In fact, one might argue that having a reasonable future is a type of civil right. And just like the civil rights movement, the power to create change is all yours. . . Whatever you do, Let us know: We’ll share. 

AND: IN 2012 DON’T FORGET TO VOTE! (Register first! And take someone with you.)


                         We Need to Cut Our Greenhouse Gas Emissions by More than Half!

Even if every individual cuts their own energy use by 10 or 20%, we have to do much, much more to balance out our CO2 emissions. (Year 2008, from LLNL data:  In fact, using the target of 350 ppm, we have to reduce our green-house gas emissions to less than a fourth of their current level.

To succeed, we have to go where the biggest problems are: We have to stop coal, make transportation more efficient, recapture energy now wasted, exponentially increase our use of renewables.

In other words, we have to influence the society around us.

Think this is hard?  -- Well, many European countries, including Germany and France, are already at half the level per person of the U.S.  (In 2007, U.S. CO2 emissions were 19.3 Metric Tons per person; in Germany they were 9.6; in Sweden they were 5.4!)  See Emissions by Country, World Bank.

Be Informed, But Don't Get Sucked In: The guys in suits want you to believe that this is a “debate”; that being “prudent” means doing nothing.

You don’t have to be the expert. The question is: Who do you believe? ?  A couple thousand climate scientists, or the same PR outfit that worked for the tobacco industry?  Read What’s the Worst that Can Happen?, by Greg Craven.

And Don't Get Distracted:  Ethanol has been blamed for everything from the budget crisis to rising food costs.  (What about oil subsidies, or those droughts and floods?)  “We’re working on tomorrow’s technology.”  (Why don’t we try today’s?)  "It would be bad for the economy."  (China is now way ahead in solar, in wind, and working on high speed rail, how competitive does that make our economy in the future?)

Old magician’s tricks “Don’t look behind the curtain”.

“We have to have cheap energy.” (Why? ? No one else does. We’re just paying for it in other ways anyway.)

When You Talk to Your Representatives, Ask Them: Ask, Do they “believe” in global warming? How serious do they think it is? (If nine brain surgeons said they had a tumor and needed to take action immediately, but their dentist said it was just normal, what would they do?)
How did they vote on the climate change bill? Why? What are they doing about our emissions this year?

If they want to "kick-start" the economy, how worried are they that China and Germany, both much smaller economic systems than the U.S., each are investing much more in clean energy technologies? (See Boston Globe August 18, 2012 and Who's WInning the Clean Energy Race?)

The coal and petroleum industries spend millions on lobbyists (“As the World Burns”, J. Godell, Rolling Stone), but it’s your vote that gets them to Washington. Don’t like their answers? ? replace them.

Check It Out. . . In Your Town: Has your town ever had an energy audit?  Do they have budget constraints?  Go to a town meeting and ask what the total cost of energy is for the town, from fire trucks to school security lights.  Bet they don’t know





© The Foresight Project, 2009. All Rights Reserved
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