5 Reasons to Be Hopeful We Haven't Totally Screwed Ourselves and the Planet ... Yet
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Creating a Movement: 350.org and 1Sky just joined forces and are raising the bar on climate activism and art. Their next big event is Moving Planet on September 24 and it involves bikes, my favorite. Bill McKibben explains, "People will be in motion, much of it will be on bicycles, because the bicycle is one of the few tools that rich and poor both use ... We are not going to wait for the politicians to move, we are going to create the future that we need ourselves. But that movement doesn't just need to be bigger -- it needs to be sharper, too, more aggressive." 350.org is also waging a campaign against the Chamber of Commerce, which spent 94 percent of its over $30 million in donations in the 2010 election to support climate deniers.
Frack Off: One of the most amazing developments in the environmental world has been the organizations that emerged and joined forces in protest to the dangerous natural gas drilling practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. While corporate polluters still get a free legal pass to pollute, thanks to Dick Cheney, fierce opposition has arisen to overturn that and to end fracking altogether. Momentum ignited from the film Gasland and grassroots activism around the issue has helped to spark a ban on fracking in Pittsburg and a temporary moratorium in New York. Groups like Food and Water Watch, Democracy for America, Water Defense, Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, Earth Justice and others are putting the heat on the drilling industry and any politicians dumb enough to have their back.
Ending Corporate Rule: The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund is leading the charge in defeating corporations by helping "communities to draft and adopt legally binding laws in which they asserted their right to self-govern," according to the organization's Web site. Their founder, Thomas Linzey told me, "We think today's contemporary activism is the wrong frame, and in addition it is aimed at the wrong thing. Most of it's federal and state activism. We think those things are pretty much dead. The only place where there is a window to operate is at the local level and then that can be used to upend the state and federal to build a new system of law, which I think our communities are recognizing is needed."
CELDF helps communities fight pollution and corporate control where they live by training them in Democracy Schools to understand the legal loopholes provided for corporations. CELDF then helps communities to draft their own constitutions and ordinances that put the rights of people and nature first.
No More Coal: One of our gravest threats is from coal -- from coal mining and transportation to coal burning. Coal threatens our water, climate, air and our health. An inspiring alliance in Appalachia has been fighting mountaintop removal mining, which is obliterating communities and ecosystems. Appalachian Voices and their coalition partners have brought the fight from the coalfields to the capital, but they need critical mass -- they need the rest of us to get behind their efforts.
And the mining of coal is just the beginning. Groups like the Sierra Club are working to shut down coal-burning power plants and Rainforest Action Network has been targeting the banks that fund polluting projects. We know there are cleaner ways to produce energy and these organizations are trying to end the reign of dirty power and dethrone King Coal.
We Are What We Eat: There is so much going on in the food world, it's hard to know where to start. The local foods movement is gaining steam and the curtain has been pulled back on Big Food -- revealing a broken food system that relies on subsidies for the wrong stuff and and rewards corporations whose products do little else other than spur obesity and fuel climate change. We know we need a different way forward and that path is emerging. Can we get there? If you're overwhelmed by the number of food organizations out there (I am sometimes, there are so many great ones), check out Food Day -- it's a new initiative aiming to make October 24 of this year the biggest organizing day around food, ever. Driven by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Food Day will highlight local solutions to our food crisis, letting people get involved in this important issue right where they live.