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It’s Time for Climate Solutions

by Bob Andrews

When we named ConcordCAN! five years ago, we wanted to be really positive. “ConcordCAN!” stands for Concord Climate Action Network; but we did not want to scream from the rooftops “the planet is burning.” We knew that global temperatures were rising and that that spelled some dire consequences for the planet; but few people were ready to believe that the threat was real, or to look at just how threatening it was! We focused a lot, therefore, on how our community could reduce emission of Greenhouse gases and become more resilient and “sustainable.” We are proud of what has been accomplished.

In just five short years, climate change has become much more real and visible for people around the world; and its devastating consequences are now being recognized and felt. The media are picking up on a rising tide of extreme weather events that are hugely destructive to cities and towns everywhere. It is time that we focus strongly on what can be done about it.

Bill McKibben, through 350.org, has worked unceasingly to inspire and organize global action to address the climate crisis. He has challenged us all to “Do the Math” and understand that the primary goal of meaningful climate action is a large scale and rapid transition from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources.

On May 20, 2013 the New York Times ran an article entitled “Wells Dry, Fertile Plains Turn to Dust.” The article describes what is happening to the High Plains Aquifer, described as “a waterlogged jumble of sand, clay and gravel that begins beneath Wyoming and South Dakota and stretches clear to the Texas Panhandle.” The article points out that although some portions of the aquifer still have very ample supplies of water, the more southern portions are “increasingly tapped out, drained by ever more intensive farming and, more recently, by drought.”

Now working alongside of 350.org is 350MA, a Massachusetts organization that is “a volunteer-led, campaign-focused initiative, connecting and organizing a strong grassroots coalition to address climate change and build a just and secure future beyond fossil fuels.” 350 MA is part of the Boston-based “ Better Future Project,” whose Executive Director is Craig Altemose..

The fossil fuel industries, which are profit-driven and making huge profits from fossil fuel production, are not motivated to support and cooperate with a movement aimed at its early demise. They invest large amounts of money financing political campaigns and legislation that will protect and preserve them as the dominant energy source for all of us. They also invest in propaganda that plays down or denies the climate change threat.

What 350 MA is doing in Massachusetts is driving a whole range of organized campaigns aimed at countering the industry’s grip on the energy marketplace. Briefly, they include:

• Divestment Campaign: challenges individuals and institutions to sell off all stock in oil, gas, and coal producing companies.

• No Gas Mass Campaign: works to make sure that no new natural gas infrastructures are built here.

• Tar Sands Campaign: focuses on stopping a Tar Sands pipeline planned for the Northeastern U.S.

• Carbon Tax Campaign: Aimed at creating the political will for a national carbon tax by the end of 2013.

You can learn all about these campaigns, and more, online by going to 350MA.org/campaigns/. You can learn even more by coming to a special event planned for the evening of October 25 at First Parish in Concord, featuring Craig Altemose, the Executive Director of “The Better Future Project.” Craig will speak on the topic “The Climate Crisis: Why Only a Movement Can Save us.” He will make clear that climate change is real; is worse than we think; and requires a large-scale activist movement.

This event will kick off a new speaker series, entitled “Climate Solutions: Meeting the Challenge.” ConcordCAN! is working collaboratively with several other local organizations to plan the series, which will incorporate activist, scientific, and policy perspectives, and will include both solo speakers and panels. The second speaking event, a panel, is scheduled for November 15. Look in this paper for full details.

Bob Andrews is a Concord resident and a member of the Steering Group of ConcordCAN! .

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