Monday, February 18, 2013

Rally to Find Climate Hope

Before yesterday's climate action rally in Washington, I said that I’m going to DC to make noise about climate change, to urge action, and to show solidarity. 

This was all true in my mind.  But fighting climate change sometimes feels like fighting the seasons.  It all seems so inevitable and out of reach and far bigger than one person, a thousand people, even a million people.  

I went to DC for several reasons but I also went to find hope.  I can't say that I found it.  Certainly not in some obvious, hit-over-the-head manner.  The event was staid, even, and frankly, lacked an edge, perhaps an edge of anger or urgency. 

Maybe there's hope in the number of people who came on a frigid  February Sunday.  It's also possible that hope did not show, scared away by other numbers.  The numbers around climate change tell a grim story of forces that humanity has already put in motion. 

There's a monstrous momentum behind burning fossil fuels to create electricity and run vehicles.  It's as if we started a machine that we cannot stop.  It churns on emotionless, fueled by powerful ideas like money, capitalism, and progress.  How can we even pause it?  How can we even slightly change its course? 
My hope is we can make real change if we play the machine’s game.  That is, create a new industry: the clean energy industry.

The industry can be just as determined to win as the current machine. 
Dive right in, draft a business plan, invest, create wealth, build an international conglomerate, focus on profits, but the product, the product, is clean.  Win by playing their game using their rules.


I'm OK seeing solar become so big it replaces coal in utility scale power generation.  I'm OK for the fossil fuel industry to look at their children and realize that the costs of their pollution far outweigh those of clean energy.  I'm OK with a fat cat CEO making hundreds of millions of dollars on top of a wind energy empire.

There is hope there but it takes a little mind trick to not look at the clock on the wall and as Bill McKibbon says, do the math.  I wonder if that mind trick is denial.  There I go again, dashing hope.

Sure we are running out of time, maybe we have run out of time in terms of stopping climate change from starting, but we can still stop it from killing the planet.  Take action.

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