By Barbara Kessler
U.S. lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, are poised to enact controls to reduce carbon emissions that would ease global warming…and that’s heating up some serious activism in the United States.
In Vermont, a group of young organizers has decided to seize the moment and push for Congress to take the boldest possible steps on climate change. These Step It Up organizers, a group of 20-somethings energized by a passion for the issue and guided by environmentalist Bill McKibben (author of The End of Nature, an early siren call about global warming) have planned a national day of action for April 14.
And guess what? The grassroots effort is taking off like spring weeds. So far Step It Up has signed up more than 1100 events spread across the United States in cities, suburbs, small towns and at natural landmarks. Demonstrators are expected to make a stand at the levees in New Orleans, at the coastal reefs off the coast of Florida and at the diminishing glacier at Mt. Ranier.
Just while I was talking to one of the organizers, Will Bates, the ticker on the group’s website added two more events. (By the time I finished writing this piece, eight more events had registered.)
“This has been a pretty incredible process to be part of,” Bates said. “We’ve been ecstatic about the kind of response we’ve received.”
The effort is designed to show the breadth of support for taking action on climate change and specifically to ask that Congress set a clear goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050. That’s the necessary level of reduction that is becoming the consensus benchmark among scientists for stabilizing the planet.
Bates says he’s been inspired by the diversity of involvement in the Step It Up action, ranging from church groups planning small get-togethers to cities such as New York, Seattle and Minneapolis, which anticipate large demonstrations. Increasingly, as the movement builds, he said, politicians are planning on attending the gatherings. Should any of them miss their local events, Step It Up is planning on bringing the pictures from across the country to Congress afterward.
To find an action or demonstration in your area check the group’s map of events.
Sure, the little things we do count. Changing lightbulbs is good. But there’s also this mountain that needs moving…
So while you’re cooking up ideas for the venerable 37-year-old Earth Day on April 22, make some time for Step It Up on April 14.
(To see a summary of the five proposed Senate bills aimed at cutting carbon emissions, go to the website Resources for the Future.)