Dec 29, 2019
by Tish Levee
As I write this, it’s December, a season for hope, and there’s a lot to hope about for those of us who care about the climate crisis, even while there’s much that may seem hopeless.
Last month, I had to write about some pretty grim news. There’ll be more like it as the climate crisis accelerates, but I want to shine some rays of light and hope this month.
For all her work in motivating millions of people to care about and strike for the climate, Time named Greta their person of the year. She stressed that she wasn’t alone and talked about other youth leaders, many of whom are indigenous people, including 15 year-old Autumn Peltier, a Canadian First Nations fighter for water conservation; 17 year-old Helena Gualinga, from the Ecuadorian Amazon, who’s been fighting for climate issues her whole life; and several youth leaders in Africa, especially in Uganda where 22 year-old Vanessa Nakate has been striking daily, holding a sign reading, “Green Love, Green Peace; Beat Plastic, Polythene [sic]s, Pollution; Climate Strike Now.”
Locally we’ve many youth activists, too, including Eleanor Jaffe and Annabelle Lampson from Youth vs. Apocalypse, whom I wrote about earlier this year, and Connor DeVane, an organizer with the Sunrise Movement. In 2016, Connor hiked the Continental Divide Trail from Canada to Mexico, interviewing people working towards a more livable future whose stories can inspire us to take local action in building a future not shaped by climate disruptions. Learn more at www.hikethedivide.com/.
Although COP 25 ended in failure, unable to reach an agreement that would limit global warming to 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels, youth activists, led by Greta Thunberg, who sailed across the Atlantic two times in zero emissions’ craft, turned out 500,000 strong to tell the adults at the conference they had to do more—much more!
Governments in the European Union, Australia, Canada, and the US were condemned for a deal requiring far less action than needed to avert catastrophic climate change. Indigenous leaders and environmentalists blasted the UN for marginalizing non-governmental and social movement groups at the climate summit, while welcoming polluters, many of whom sponsored COP 25.
Begun by then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (who incidentally supplied Greta Thunberg with an EV while she was in North America) in 2006, this initiative helped create the largest and most successful rooftop solar market in the world; the solar workforce is now larger than the five largest California utility companies combined. It’s still growing—this year the first 12 days of December saw more solar units sold than all of 2016.
With energy savings Tesla’s solar roofs will cost less than any other roof.
The roofs will be guaranteed for life, and guaranteed to generate power for at least 25 years, when the components may need some repairs.
One of the world’s largest investment banks just declared it won’t fund any new arctic oil explorations. It's also ending investment in thermal and mountain-top removal coal mines and coal-fired projects anywhere in the world. UC’s divestment—largest ever of any public university—includes its $13.4 billion endowment and $80 billion pension fund. Since 2018 the Republic of Ireland has disinvested all public monies from fossil fuels, the first country to do so. They join over 1110 institutions and 58,000 individuals committed to black-listing coal, oil, and gas. As of September, 350.org reports more than $11 trillion are committed to divestment—up from $52 billion in 2014, an increase of 22,000 percent.
Divesting’s helpful in “keeping it in the ground,” but it’s not enough.
In 2018, energy consumption nationally hit a record high, largely due to the growing use of fossil fuels, which provided 80% of total energy use. Natural gas and oil use rose 4%, while renewable energy was up only 3%.
Join the 3 day strike for 50th Anniversary of Earth Day coming in April!
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