Climate Change: Problem and Solution, Lifestyle Changes, Political Action
Note: For a detailed Resource Guide to Sustainable Actions, please see the first page under Climate Change on this website
Climate change has already damaged our planet severely; it will not be the same for thousands of years, if ever—even if we stopped all carbon emissions today. There is no argument about the science. Global warming exists and human cause it. Southern Arizona, like the rest of our planet, must deal with this crisis, right now, right here, not sometime in our grandchildren’s future and not in some poor, foreign country.
Last year, the percentage of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere went up 6%–in one year! That is beyond the worst case scenario projected by climate scientists only four years ago! The International Panel on Climate Change just announced that, yes, all this extreme weather is officially due to climate change. Within the last few weeks, our leading climate scientist, James Hansen, has concluded that the widely-accepted, but not-much-acted- upon goal of holding global warming to an increase of 2 degrees Celsius is too high. Even one degree will doom our species to a planet unlike that in which we evolved. Also recently, leading economists have concluded that we only have a few years, until 2020, max to radically reduce fossil fuel consumption.
For Arizona, this means more and worse temperature increases, forest fires and droughts. Think dust storms every day! Higher temperatures are already killing our pine forests. Food supplies will be disrupted globally, yet Tucson only has 3-5 days’ supply of food on hand. Our average food item is shipped from 1500 miles away—so long as there is fuel to carry it at a reasonable price! The Colorado River won’carry enough water for Los Angeles—much less Arizona! No more CAP! We will be drinking the treated water contaminated with TCE, instead of pumping it back into the ground. Tucson Water is already planning a billion-dollar water desalination plant!
Unfortunately, the United States causes much of the problem. We use the most energy per capita. We refuse international agreements, just this month in Durban, South Africa. We subsidize coal, oil and natural gas along with an agriculture and food system dependent on petroleum products. We subsidize more extreme forms of extracting fossil fuels which cost more and emit more carbon: tar sands, “fracking” natural gas and deep, deep sea drilling. We massively subsidize nuclear energy and refuse to invest in renewable energy.
Arizona State just withdrew from the multi-state Western Climate Initiative. The state’s investor-owned utilities are reducing incentives for solar energy which is killing that industry which we should lead.
Even Tucson does not deal with climate change adequately. The City Council just passed a Sustainability Plan which will only achieve one half of the now far too moderate Kyoto goals set for 2050. A serious plan would reduce emissions by 80%. Tucson business leaders are proposing a “vision” of another million people in Tucson! TEP burns COAL in one furnace on Valencia.
A Useful Perspective—Fixing Climate Change Can Be Fun!
Francis More Lappe reminds us in her new book “Eco-Mind” that we already waste more energy than we need to live well. The steps required to end climate change lead to a fun and flourishing life for all of us, with more time spent on relationships than “stuff.” Please take a deep breath. This can be fun!
Multiple Action Steps at Multiple Levels Are Required
There is no “single” solution to this crisis. Yes, individuals have to change our lifestyles. Yes, we have to come together at the neighborhood level to enable and support those individual changes. However, if every single one of us adopted ALL of the recommendations in Al Gore’s movie th Inconvenient Truth, we would not solve this problem. Therefore, we need new policies at the city, county, state, national and international level. We have to take action at ALL these levels. Tucson and Southern Arizona are blessed with a very large number of groups and organizations working on all these levels. We have highlighted a few.
Individual/Household Level Actions
We do need to change our lifestyles to use less carbon. You can get help on all these steps listed below at the monthly Sustainable Tucson meeting on the first Monday evening. Representatives of many other organizations also attend these meetings. However, you need a group around you to undertake these steps—in your neighborhood.
Buy local natural foods.
Eat at restaurants that serve local natural foods.
Cultivate a backyard kitchen garden.
Make nutrient-rich soil by composting waste.
Cook with solar ovens.
Irrigate landscape with greywater.
Use native landscape plants.
Use low-flow toilet.
Use front loading washing machine.
Use low-flow faucets and shower heads.
Share rides with others.
Use public transit.
Use electric cars, scooters, and bicycles.
Use bio-diesel made from local feedstock.
Lobby for expanded sidewalks, bike paths, and transit.
Add wall and roof insulation.
Upgrade to insulated windows and doors.
Caulk air leaks.
Use high efficiency air conditioning or coolers.
Install solar-electric panels.
Install solar hot-water system.
Use natural lighting and energy-efficient bulbs.
Shade buildings with trees and shrubs.
Use local materials.
Recycle solid waste material locally for future uses.
Dry clothes in sun.
Social (all of these steps are easier in a group!)
Talk with your neighbors.
Listen to others.
Join groups doing sustainability work.
Help people who need help.
Introduce sustainability into your work and social groups.
Share work projects with others.
Buy Locally. Employ locally.
Spend leisure time in Tucson.
Specific Support for Individual Actions
NIPS has researched specific organizations to help you with each of these steps. Their contact information is listed on our website at www.NIPSPeerSupport.org.
Please let us know how these organizations and companies help you, so that we can update our list.
NIPS is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization registered with the Internal Revenue Service. Contributions to NIPS are tax-deductible. NIPS does not engage in lobbying or elections.
This brochure is produced by the National Institute for Peer Support (NIPS) for its climate change project.
Please return this form to the National Institute for Peer Support: Climate Change Project, 4151 E. Boulder Springs Way, Tucson, AZ 85712.
For more information, please call 520-250-0509 or email JimDriscoll@NIPSPeerSupport.org, Our website is: www.NIPSPeerSupport.org.
Regional Actions: Tucson
- Close the Irvington St. Coal Furnace
- Strengthen Tucson’s inadequate Climate Change Plan.
- Municipalize TEP
Tucson Electric Power has a coal-burning plant on Irvington. NIPS works with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal program (www.beyondcoal.org) and the direct action group 350.org founded by Bill McKibben (www.350.org) to switch this plant to natural gas for which it is already equipped.
The City also just passed a Climate Change program which would achieve only 10% of the carbon reductions needed to reach the widely accepted goal of 350 parts per million. NIPS works with Sustainable Tucson (www.sustainabletucson.org), the Audubon Society(www.Audubon.org) and Progressive Democrats of America www.PDAmerica.org and other local groups who passed the initial plan in order to strengthen the plan immediately. ST is the local member of the international Transition Town movement and has working groups on food, water and other issues. Its website also provides a comprehensive listing of other organizations active in our region.. ST’s next meeting is Monday, Feburary 13, a talk by U of A’s Jonathan Overpeck, 7 p.m., at UMC, 1501 N. Campbell.
Arizona State Actions:
- Raise the renewable goal from 15% to at least 25% by 2030.
- Close all coal plants in AZ.
- Adopt a Green, Energy Green Jobs program to include incentives for conservation and solar and transition funding for affected workers and industries.
The Arizona Governor just withdrew from the regional body dealing with climate change and the Legislature and our powerful public utilities commission (Arizona Corporation Commission) is led by climate change deniers. We need to increase goal for renewable energy sources from the current 15% by 2030 to at least 25%. Most experts say we need to eliminate all fossil fuels by 2030, i.e. 100% real renewable, like solar here in AZ. A majority of the Corporation Commission is up for election this fall. The Arizona League of Conservation Voters is working to elect a pro-solar majority. The Sierra Club has a strong lobbying presence at the State Capital. NIPS is encouraging climate change activists to take advantage of the Clean Elections law and run for the State Legislature. Each candidate can qualify for $45,000 in public funding to raise this issue and help build a stronger movement.
National Level Actions:
* Put a price on carbon
* “Bird-dog” candidates taking fossil fuel $
Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL, www.CitizensClimateLobby.org) advocates a “carbon tax” to limit carbon use, but returns the proceeds directly to every individual taxpayer. CCL has a sophisticated lobbying strategy. The local group meets March 3rd at 11 a.m. at 255 W. University
Global Level Actions
- Negotiate an effective treaty to reach 350 ppm by 2030.
- Insure “universal climate justice” so that developing countries do not have to bear all the burden of moving beyond fossil fuels.
By contrast, the recent Durban conference adopted NO binding limits on carbon and postponed any action until at least 2020. Most of the groups listed here support much stronger international action. The Association for the Tree of Life focuses on climate change by emphasizes justice (www.saveourselvesnow.net) as does the Earth Charter Initiative (www.EarthCharterInAction.org.)
National Peer Support Institute’s Climate Change Activists Program. We at NIPS assume that the problem isn’t picking the ideal solution, but getting more people involved in general. And supporting them! We use the proven tools of peer support to recruit more activists and to help them avoid burnout and be more effective. We teach people to reach out and listen to others, their family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc., One-On-One: “What do you think about Global Warming? I’d like to listen.” We know that listening it the best way to help someone think about a topic and consider taking action. We provide Climate Activists’ Support Groups to avoid burnout and build personal relationships; Topic Groups where we share information as equals and identify problems and Action Groups to work together over time, but to make our own individual decisions. We hold regular Peer Support Workshops and Classes for climate change activists to learn these skills. We know that people must shift our ways of thinking and working together across races, gender, social class and other divisions and that such shifts take ongoing efforts. Tucson is our pilot project for a national program. Let’s use the power of listening to stop climate change!
NIPS also educates climate change activists to consider running for State Legislature using Clean Elections funding as a strategy to educate the public on the climate change issue. Let’s use the money the voters authorized to save AZ! Our next meeting is Feb. 22, Wed., 7 p.m. at the Quaker Meetinghouse, 931 N. 5th Ave.
Reform or Transformation—Let’s Skip That Conversation and Get To Work!
Some people believe that our current market system can solve the problem of global warming by regulating fossil fuels and providing incentives for alternative sources of energy, transportation, agriculture, housing, etc. A “green” capitalism. Others think that the dynamics of markets, always encouraging economic growth and ignoring “externalities” like pollution and the inevitable depletion of resources, cannot get the job done.
Rather than arguing about these alternatives perspectives, it is vital that we get more people, doing more things, more effectively, now–to reduce global warming and resource depletion.
NIPS calls for individuals to come together at the local level and work across organizational boundaries. Large organizations with paid staff in Washington, DC, often limit their specific goals to what is “feasible” or “realistic” given the current makeup of Congress and the editorial positions of the large media. However, both Congress and the media are heavily influenced by those who benefit from the current, fossil-fuel-based economy. Much like the current “Occupy” Movement, with which NIPS works closely, we need grassroots efforts to drive the national agenda. Indeed, many climate change activists believe that the future belongs to local, sustainable communities which rely less and less on national and international inputs. For example, according to some local experts, Tucson could produce all the food we need with the water we currently have—if it is used thoughtfully instead of importing 95% of what we eat while exporting 95% of what we grow!
NIPS believes that we need to provide new peer-support inspired structures (described above) to support each other, to share our thinking and to make decisions. NIPS does all this, not as a substitute for existing organizations, but to expand the membership of all the organizations referred to in this brochure and to make them more effective through the tools of peer support.
We invite you to join us in building a fun and flourish movement to save our planet and our species.
Will you help us save the planet and the species?
/_/ Yes, I will start listening to people one-on-one about Global Warming: “What do you think about Global Warming? I’d like to listen.” I’ll use the NIPS Wallet Guide and coordinate with NIPS for peer support.
/_/ Yes, I will invite people to a Climate Change “House Party” at my home or elsewhere.
/_/ Yes, I would like to learn more about running for office as a Clean Elections Candidate to educate the public about climate change using peer support.