Thursday, January 3, 2013
8 Simple Things that Environmentalists and the movement should be doing to improve their chances of stemming global warming damage
1. The environmental movement needs some type of uniform. Uniforms are significant elements in any real modern campaign for they are able to demonstrate strength and commitment in clear and unambiguous terms. Unfortunately the typical environmentalist is still stereotyped as unprofessional, almost “hippieish”, among numerous groups in society no matter how many suits are worn by their leaders. Adopting a uniform will instantly reduce the weight of these stereotypes. The commitment aspect of the uniform is also important for it conveys the power and significance/importance of the message. In most protests various parties are simply standing around in various outfits occasionally chanting something or waving some placard leaving observers to wonder about the involvement and dedication of those protesting. If all individuals were wearing the same shirt then there would be no doubts regarding the unity of the group.
Creating a uniform is simple in that major environmental groups can simply request designers to develop a symbolical and message appropriate t-shirt or long sleeve shirt and select the best one. 20% of profit would go to the designer and 80% of profit would go towards a travel scholarship fund, so that individuals who wanted to attend major protests, but were unable to afford it could apply via email or letter for a travel scholarship, which would provide some set amount for reimbursement. Another option would be to use the money to rent buses that could ferry individuals from nearby locations that were too far for foot or bike traffic to the site of the protest (think massive carpool).
2. Write correspondence to pro-environmental House and Senate members to attempt to initiate climate negotiations between China, India and the United States. The point of this exercise is to develop an agreement structure among the most important emitters even before Congress as a whole is ready to address official negotiations because such preemptive action will save time and resources by eliminating uncertainty, increase trust among all three parties and give each party an understanding of what the others have to do and are willing to do.
Note that these negotiations cannot be relegated to simple quid-pro-quo emission reduction arguments such as if the U.S. reduces its carbon emissions x% China has to reduce its carbon emissions x% also. There is little reason to conclude that either China or India would abide by such arguments because their governments view economic growth as a centerpiece to maintaining political power and order, which is directly tied to increasing energy consumption. At this point in time reducing carbon emissions would result in reducing short-term economic growth due to reduced consistent energy generation creating instabilities in both the economic process as well as the political process; therefore, the argument for reducing emissions must center around how either economic growth can continue in the short-term with a reduction in carbon emissions or how to uncouple political power from economic growth.
3. An environmentalist that genuinely cares about limiting the damage born by global warming needs to accept the fact that unless a miracle occurs, some form of solar radiation management will be required to create a greater time window for successful carbon mitigation (the recent 3% increase in global emissions in 2012 is further evidence that this miracle is not forthcoming). Therefore, strategies must be devised to address the potential detriments that could occur from various geo-engineering techniques instead hiding one’s head in the sand by taking the unrealistic stance that these techniques should never be applied. Overall geo-engineering is not as unknown or high risk as its opponents want to believe; to save the environment more than likely the sky will have to have additional quantities of sulfur and the Arctic will have to oscillate with bubbles for some period of time.
4. Identify every anti-environmental member of Congress then identify those who are up for reelection in 2014 and of those candidates those who only won their last election by 55% or less (i.e. those who are actually vulnerable). Select a pro-environmental candidate who can run against that individual and begin seeding a ground campaign strategy to inform all voters in the given district (House seat) or state (Senate) about how environmental changes will specifically affect the region in which these voters live. In late 2013 start executing this strategy by realistically, objectively and transparently tying together changes in the environment to lifestyle changes to demonstrate the need to vote for the pro-environmental candidate. Basically demonstrate how changes will occur and that mitigation strategies are far superior to adaptive changes.
5. Petition the government to create a federal water management strategy to reduce water waste. The federal water management strategy must entail the conversion of all flood or spray irrigation systems to drip irrigation (small farmers will receive government help, corporate farms have to switch on their own dime) as well as the installation of drip irrigation systems for farms that previously were only rain-fed. Also there must be strict management of nitrates and other fertilizer byproduct runoff to significantly reduce the probability of additional water contamination. Furthermore there must be consolidation between various federal operations concerning water quality to ensure interdepartmental communication reducing waste and improving response time to violations and questions.
Granted these are just a few of the ‘musts’ a federal water management strategy must have. Issues like gray water, desalinization and rainwater collection must also be addressed. Also water boarder conflicts would be ended with finalized terms produced from this federal strategy. The federal strategy would be applicable to all states. If a state fails to abide by the strategy that state would lose all federal funding. If a private citizen or company fails to abide by the strategy there will be a huge fine with repeat offenses leading to serious jail time. Finally this strategy must include the reality of global warming and how precipitation and temperature patterns would change accordingly.
6. Petition the various environmental groups which have a significant presence in the United States: Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, 350.org, Environmental Defense Fund, National Resource Defense Council, World Wildlife Fund for Nature, etc. to organize cooperative lobbying and protest activities. Each organization should create a liaison position to coordinate efforts with other organizations. Basically suppose eight organizations want to get serious about addressing global warming then each organization would establish at least four to seven new liaison positions to coordinate with the other organizations. Contact information for these positions would also be made public so members can give ideas and ask questions concerning coordinated efforts and activities.
7. Create and maintain a user-friendly database website that houses information for individual consumer information pertaining to energy efficiency. For example if a home owner wanted to receive information on how to update the quality of his windows he could go to this website enter his city and state of residence and receive information on all companies in the local area that would install energy efficient windows, the cost of those windows, any government rebates, energy savings versus commonly installed windows and how those windows would function. Also there needs to be coordination with the National Realtors Association so that homeowners are aware of this information when they purchase a new home. Clearly updating federal and state building codes to include these types of improvements before construction would be ideal, but focusing lobbying efforts on such a strategy would be difficult due to its ‘non-sexy’ nature.
8. Similar to number four environmentalists need to begin having a greater presence at a local level. For example two or three times at least 50 major cities should see environmentalists set up information booths to spread the word to the local community about important environmental events and significant environmental news and how these events and news affects individuals in that local community. Basically these campaigns need to make individuals consider the importance of the environment more when voting in local and national elections. A group like 350.org should be useful for this type of strategy, but they appear to absorbed in a “one or two specific super gatherings a year” strategy that has yet to bear any significant fruit.
Overall there are too many environmentalists that seem to want somebody else to fight for the environment and are too passive when it comes to actually getting out in their local neighborhoods and trying to engage other individuals face-to-face. This attitude will have to change if humans are going to move beyond some random chance probability with regards to saving the environment for future generations for too many individuals are too ignorant or intractable to realize the importance of global warming when left to their own devices. Clearly the suggestions above are only a select number of strategies that environments could engage in to promote their agenda, but environmentalists need to start doing more than just making meaningless comments on online message boards.