Despite the epic failure of the UN climate summit in Copenhagen, I think there are plenty of reasons to be hopeful that 2010 will be a banner year for achieving new and lasting environmental protection. Here are the top 5 reasons why:
5.) The EPA’s official “endangerment finding” on greenhouse gases — the determination that they pose a threat to human health and welfare — obligates the agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. This gives us another tool with which to combat global warming. The climate bill passed by the House of Representatives would actually strip this regulatory capacity from the EPA, however, while the Senate bill so far does not. But still, I think the endangerment finding is a very positive step, as it puts pressure on both houses of Congress to take action, and gives us a fallback option should Congress fail to act.
4.) The call for action is growing louder every day. About halfway through the Copenhagen climate summit, for instance, the global coalition Tcktcktck.org hit the 15 million calls for climate action mark. There are now well over 15 million “Global Citizens for Climate Action” counted by the site. People from all over the globe are realizing that climate change is the greatest threat we face, and are committed to doing something about it. These types of numbers cannot be ignored for long.
3.) As Katherine Goldstein, editor of Huffington Post’s Green page, wrote: “new media, grassroots activists, ordinary people and citizen journalists worked together in inspired ways to get the Copenhagen story out.” This bodes well for future climate action because it is all too often the case that the mainstream media simply swallows and regurgitates the official narrative propagated by those with an interest in preserving the status quo. Who knows how the Copenhagen Accord would be perceived here in the States without these independent journalists, for instance? Citizens and activists are now utilizing the new communications technologies available to them to take the task of reporting into their own hands, providing a necessary counterbalance to the traditional media outlets. Meaning, of course, that the truth will no longer be co-opted by interests vested in rhetoric and propaganda.
2.) Those 15 million citizens for climate action, the grassroots activists, and the independent journalists are not simply content to be voices in the wilderness, of course. They’ve forged unprecedented coalitions that brought massive convergences to the streets of Copenhagen, and they will continue to unite our voices into a resounding, undeniable call for climate action. Check out Tcktcktck.org and Climate Justice Action if you want to get involved.
1.) Because the number one reason why I’m optimistic about next year, and why you should be too, is each and every one of us who are committed to seeing climate action and climate justice done in our lifetimes. The fact that the leaders of the richest nations on Earth are trying to reach a deal on taking action – and trying to spin their poor results as some kind of a meaningful accomplishment – is because they know we’re watching, and they know we’re holding them accountable. They might have locked us out of the Copenhagen talks, but our numbers are growing. We’re already 15 million strong and will soon represent such a massive segment of the population — and a segment of the population representing people from all corners of the globe, no less — that we cannot be marginalized or shut out of the debate next time.
So, if I don’t see you sooner on the streets at a protest, in a spokescouncil meeting, or online, I’ll see you in Mexico at COP16!