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The most powerful tool you can use to prevent catastrophic climate
change isn't a curly lightbulb, or even a solar panel. It's a ball-point
pen, writing letters to your politicians demanding an emergency
transition to a clean-energy economy.
What You Can Do
"This is about mobilizing humanity. Everything else is a well-intentioned side show."
It's time for action.
You have the power to help bring about the global action that will ensure that our children enjoy the same stable climate that's enabled human civilization to exist. You can do it in an average of only a few minutes a week (less than the time many of us spend watching commercials each week!).
The way to achieve this is to do a simple, two-part action plan:
1.) Contact our leaders to demand strong action on climate
2.) Spread the word, so that others can do likewise
Following this plan will accomplish far more for saving the climate than a lifetime of buying energy efficient light bulbs or driving a hybrid car. In fact, this might be the most important thing you will ever do.
-The Power Of A Hand-Written Letter
-Call Your Leaders On The Phone!
-Email Your Congresspeople Regularly
-Your Action Plan, Part 2: Spread The Word
-Use Social Media To Get The Word Out
-Tell At Least One Person A Week About The Climate Crisis
-Actions That Take A Bit More Effort
-We Can Do It!
Your Action Plan, Part 1: Contact Your Politicians
We need to demand our politicians support strong action on
climate, because government is the only institution capable of
making the massive infrastructure changes at the wartime
speed necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change.
There is only one institution capable of making the massive changes to our energy infrastructure at wartime speed necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change. That institution is government. Regardless of how we feel about the proper role of the public sector versus the private sector in normal times, when we're in a national and international emergency, we need to rely on our government. That is the institution we need to focus our attention on.
As a voter, you have tremendous power over the political process. All politicians are keenly aware that it is the voters who hold the key to their political futures. We need to hold make it crystal clear to them that the voters are demanding strong action on climate.
If our leaders aren't hearing from us, they're going to think it's not important to us. On the rare occasions when (extremely weak, compromised) climate legislation has been up for debate, pro-pollution forces have been so successful at spreading misinformation, that phone calls in many cases were ten to one against action on climate. We need to turn that around. When enough people demand action, it will happen.
Our key demand is a science-based policy to bring CO2 quickly down below 350ppm, with a rapid transition to a clean energy, zero-emissions global economy. Anything less than that, and our children will likely face a very dire situation (to put it mildly). We cannot tolerate delaying tactics, or weak, watered-down plans.
For contacting your politicians, here's a suggested schedule, which averages out to just a few minutes a week:
Every six months: Write letters to your politicians
Every three months: Call their office
Every month: Email them
If we all keep up this schedule, we can make sure they know there is a huge public demand for strong action on climate, and we are watching them closely. Ideally, you should do all of these, and we'll run through how to go about each method. But if you do nothing else, at least send a letter. Read, on, and we'll go through how to do each method.
The Power Of A Hand-Written Letter
What's the most effective way to get this message to our leaders?
Politicians know that the more strongly a voter feels about an issue, the more likely that voter is to remember that issue at election time. So the form of communication that politicians pay the most attention to is the one that takes the most effort.
What that means is that in this age of high-tech, instant communications, the most powerful tool for connecting to your leaders is an old-fashioned, snail-mail paper letter. Preferably hand-written. After letters, the next most powerful method is phone calls, then email.
Here's how to write a letter to your leaders. It doesn't take long: these letters are short, three paragraphs, and you can write pretty much the same text to each politician. (These instructions are tailored for people in the United States, but if you are in another country, please contact your leaders as well!)
Ideally, you should send four letters, one to each of the four people who represent you in the federal government. One goes to your representative in the House, one to each of your two Senators representing your state, and one to the President. (Yes, your letter could be personally read by the president -- he reads ten letters a day.)
To look up the addresses of your Representative and Senators, click here . The address for the President is: The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500.
Here's a template for a letter.
Dear Congressperson Smith,
I am writing as a constituent to ask that you support an emergency program to bring CO2 levels down below 350ppm as quickly as possible. (350 is the maximum safe level for CO2, as determined by peer-reviewed science). This means we need a global mobilization to switch the world entirely off fossil fuels, and onto clean energy sources.
I have two children, and I am concerned about their future in a world of unrestrained carbon emissions. The science indicates that staying on our present emissions path will likely mean a grim future for today's children.
Because of climate lags and feedbacks, waiting to act on climate is an invitation to disaster. We need immediate action. I urge you to show true leadership, by standing up to the fossil fuel interests, and make a rapid transition to a post-carbon economy an urgent priority. I would appreciate a response from you.
Member, VFW Auxiliary
1234 Maple Street
Anytown, NJ 99999
If you can individualize your letter, it will carry more weight. To personalize your letter, click here for lots of ideas*.
Call Your Leaders On The Phone!
Pick up the phone! The second most powerful tool to fight
climate change, after a ball point pen for writing your
politicians, is a phone for calling them.
After a hand-written letter, the next most powerful way to contact your leaders is by picking up the phone and calling them. It's a lot less involved than letter writing, so it's easier to do on a more regular basis. Ideally, you should follow the above schedule, calling them every three months. And again, there are four people's offices to call: your representative in the House, each of the two Senators representing your state, and one to the President.
Now, calling your leaders, especially the President, may seem a little intimidating. Relax, it's very easy and low key.
Here's how it works. You won't be talking to your Senator or the President. You'll talk to a staffer in the office (frequently a college kid doing an internship), who will record your call on a tally sheet of issues voters are calling about. Offices in Washington DC are open from 9 to 5, Eastern Standard Time.
- For your Senators and House rep, click here for their phone number.
- For the President, call the White House comments line at 202-456-1111 (note: it can take a while to get through to the phone operators who answer the White House line. Be persistent!)
Be polite and brief. When the staffer answers the phone, say:
"Hello, my name is ___, I'm a constituent. I'm very concerned about the dangers of climate change and I would like to ask (Representative/Senator/President ___) to support an emergency program to bring CO2 levels below 350 parts per million. 350 is the maximum safe level of CO2, as determined by peer-reviewed science."
The staffer will ask you a for your name and address, to make sure that you are a voter in that politician's district. They may also ask for your phone number or email, which is up to you whether to give (giving your email may lead to being on that leader's mailing list).
They may also ask why the issue is important to you. You can answer that peer-reviewed science indicates it's the most urgent issue facing humanity, or that you've got kids and your concerned about their future, or whatever other aspect of it that's important to you.
And that's it! It's so simple and easy, you'll find yourself wondering if you've really accomplished anything at all. Rest assured, you have. The staff will deliver to the politician a call log summarizing what issues the voters are fired up about. With enough people calling, we'll make sure that strong action on climate is at the top of the call log every day.
The final step, after you've called your politicians, is to write on your calendar to do it again, three months from now. Keep up the pressure on them!
Email Your Leaders Regularly
Sending an electronic message is so easy, that it doesn't carry quite as much weight in political offices as letters and phone calls. But it's a lot easier to do, and they keep a daily tally of the issues that voters are writing to them about.
Congressional offices use a web form for voters to contact them. To send a message to your Congresspeople, enter your zip code here , then look in the "Contact Form" column for each politician. To send a message to the President, click here for the contact form for the White House. Where the form asks you to check off a subject, check "Energy" rather than "Environment".
Since this information will most likely just end up on a tally sheet, there's no need to make it very extensive. Something along these lines should do the trick:
Preventing runaway climate change is the greatest challenge facing humanity.
I am writing to urge you to support an emergency plan to bring atmospheric CO2 levels below 350ppm (the maximum safe level, according to peer-reviewed science). Achieving this means a rapid switch to a 100% clean energy, zero-emissions global economy.
Our children's future depends on what we do right now about the climate crisis. Please stand up to the fossil fuel interests and make this happen. Thank you.
Then, make it a regular habit to do this every month!
Your Action Plan, Part 2: Spread The Word
A big idea can ripple out from person to person, spreading like
a contagious epidemic that can literally change the world.
After contacting your leaders, the other half of your personal action plan is to spread the word to other people, so that they too can can demand action from government, and they can spread the word to yet more people.
Get this: Most people have at least 50-100 or more contacts on social media and email. Suppose you are able to get even just five of those people interested in helping spread the word, and they repost. If each of them is then able to get five people, and if it continues, in ten steps your action will have reached over ten million people. That is the power we have at our hands to quickly and efficiently get this message out.
The biggest reasons people aren't more active on this issue is that they don't know just how serious and urgent the situation is, and they feel disempowered to do anything about it.
Our mission is to challenge both of those reasons head-on. We need to let people know what climate scientists have discovered about the climate situation: it's real, it's serious, and it's extremely urgent, even though the weather around us has only changed moderately so far. The implications of inaction are very serious for our children and grandchildren. But we have the tools to fix it, and in the process, we'll likely create a better world.
Make sure to get across the idea that the most powerful thing they can do to preserve a safe climate is not to change their light bulbs or drive a hybrid car, but to follow the same two-part action plan you're doing:
1.) Demand action from our leaders
2.) Spread the word to others.
(Letters not light bulbs!)
We've designed the Climate Victory website to be a good place for beginners to learn about the climate crisis and how we can fix it, so direct your friends here to get started!
Use Social Media To Get The Word Out
Modern information technology gives us tremendous power to get the word out. Messages can easily go viral, and take the world by storm. In 2011, social media played a key role in bringing down dictatorships across North Africa, in the Arab Spring movement for democracy. With just a few clicks, we can spread the word about the urgent need for action to solve the climate crisis. These little symbols are powerful tools for spreading the word:
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Here's your social media action plan:
Facebook: Hit the "Like" button anywhere on ClimateVictory.org and also on 350.org. Then, post a link to any article you find meaningful on this site. As we put new articles on the site, we'll post a notice on Facebook, which you can share. A personal message helps draw people's attention, for instance: "This is awesome! We can do it. Yes, we can. We just have to. Please hit the 'Like' and 'Share' buttons, and comment."
Twitter Just hit the Tweet button on any page on the ClimateVictory.org website --there's a default tweet for that page ready to go that you can use. Also, following Climate Victory on Twitter keeps you informed, and lets others know this is an issue of importance to you.
Stumbleupon and other sharing sites: Recommend people check out ClimateVictory.org and 350.org.
Email a message to people you think might be receptive. Now that so much communication happens on social media, there aren't as many mass emails being passed around, which makes people more likely to notice an email about an important issue.
Talk To People About The Climate Crisis
There's nothing like a face-to-face conversation for getting an idea across. Wherever possible, try to communicate to others how serious and urgent the climate crisis is, and how they have tremendous power to help fix it by getting involved in contacting our leaders, and spreading the word.
You don't need to convince everyone, just get at least least some people on board, so that they can contact their leaders and keep the message spreading.
One thing to be prepared for: there's a huge slew of misunderstandings about the climate situation out there. Sometimes people will respond with things like, "It's just a natural cycle," or "To stop emissions, we'd have to go back to living like Little House On The Prairie." Each objection is a learning opportunity! We are in the process of setting up the Myths and Misconceptions section on this website to explain the truth about these. For objections about the science, you can already use Skeptical Science's list of what the science really says about these contrarian arguments (also available for I-phone and Android).
Particularly important: If you know anyone in the media, talk to them about the critical importance of covering this issue like the life-and-death crisis that it is. Chances are, the person you know is not a decision-maker, but they might know a decision-maker. (Frequently, people in the media say they'll only cover this issue if they can come up with an "angle". For cryin' out loud, what's a more compelling angle than, "Humanity mobilizes to save civilization from disaster"?)
If we keep it up, the news media will finally figure out that climate change is not a story about "going green", it's the story of the millennium, and the fate of civilization hangs in the balance. Once we can get the media to start talking about this as the most urgent issue facing humanity, that's when things will really get moving.
Actions That Take A Bit More Effort
Climate rallies can be a really fun way to get the word out, as well as to
meet lots of people who are enthused about creating a positive future.
This one's in Denver, Colorado.
For those of us who want to do more, there's plenty we can make happen. Think of these as the "extra credit" actions for making action on climate happen.
Join Or Start A Climate Rally: Periodically, the excellent organization 350.org has worldwide climate rallies to bring the attention of the world to the climate crisis. The idea is for local communities all around the world to stage their own event as part of the global rally to spread the importance of bringing CO2 levels below 350ppm. These rallies are a great way to get the word out, and have a lot of fun and meet new people at the same time.
As far as what to do, the skies the limit. The 350.org website has lots of ideas. A group bike ride is great, perhaps pulling banners and signs. If you get enough people together, it's fun to get everyone where they can be viewed from above, and arrange people to into the number 350, for a group photo. A walk or march is great, perhaps from a local coal-fired power plant to city hall. Chalk on sidewalks? Flash mob?
Events like these can both to get the issue into the news, and to get out the word to curious bystanders. Handing out fliers and directing people to the websites for both ClimateVictory.org and 350.org is an important part of making an event successful.
There's a way to get the message to your political leaders that's even more effective than letter-writing, but it does take more time and effort. You can schedule a face-to-face meeting. This is best done with a group of like-minded voters. The lower on the political hierarchy a politician is, the easier it is to get a meeting with them. For your federal leaders, you can probably arrange a meeting with your congressional representative, and if you're really persistent and lucky, possibly even with one or the other of the Senators from your state.
You can also meet with your local politicians, at the city, county and state level. Up to now, we've focused on the federal government, because the most important changes need to happen at the national and international level. But meeting with your local politicians can be useful, for two reasons. First, it brings their attention to this issue -- they, like most of us, likely don't understand how serious and urgent the climate situation is. Having an understanding of that may influence their decision-making on many issues, like whether to support a proposed coal-burning power plant in the region, or whether to support better public transportation. Also, local politicians frequently have lobbyists in Washington, to lobby the federal politicians about issues of concern to them. By convincing your local leaders of the importance and urgency of this issue, you may be able to get your local politicians to add it to the lobbyists' agenda, for convincing the federal politicians.
Another method is to write letters to the editor of the local newspaper. This ensures that the many people will see your message, and just as important, the editor sees it.
If you want to support the climate movement financially, we suggest you contribute to 350.org. They will make very good use of whatever you can send them. (Note: Climate Victory receives no funding from 350.org, and 350.org is not affiliated with Climate Victory in any way other than that we're working towards the same goal: a stable climate on our planet.)
We Can Do It!
This is how it starts. It's up to you now. If everyone who sees this website follows this action plan, we will make Operation Climate Victory a reality and preserve a stable climate for our children and all generations after them.
Let's make it happen!
*Individualizing Your Letter
First paragraph: identify yourself as a constituent, and state your request: a science-based policy to bring CO2 below 350, and a quick transition to a clean-energy economy.
Second paragraph: Say why this issue is important to you. This can be something like ,"I've got two kids and I'm concerned about their future." "I'm a college student, I want to ensure I'll be living in a decent world." "I care about the future of humanity, and want to prevent the tremendous suffering that unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions will cause."
Third paragraph: There are a variety of things you could include here.
You can ask them to please stand up to the big money of the fossil fuel interests.
You can mention that science indicates that because of lags and feedbacks, we've already created a large amount of climate change that hasn't manifested yet.
You could mention that nearly every national scientific body agrees that global warming is real, we're causing it, and it's going to get a lot worse unless we change direction.
Other things politicians like to hear is that we need them to keep us safe, and that this will create jobs.
This is about the children and their future.
If you are contacting a Republican politician and if you normally vote conservative, it's important to mention that. You might also state that you consider that the most conservative position on climate is to restore CO2 to a level that will enable climate stability, while allowing CO2 levels to rise is a recklessly irresponsible experiment on our planet, children, and future generations.
Close out your letter by saying you would appreciate a response about how they intend to deal with this matter. (Chances are, you will just get a form letter back, but at least asking for a response lets them know that you'll be paying attention to their actions on this issue.) Make sure to include your address, so the staffers can verify that you are a constituent in their district.
There's one final touch you can add to your letter: the way you sign it can indicate that you are a person of influence. Most of us wear many hats in our lives, and one of those might best show you to be in position to influence others. For example, under your name, you could put "Office manager, Smith Corporation" or "Deacon, First Congregational Church", or "Member, Springfield Lions Club".
Last step: write on your calendar to write your leaders again six months from now. Congratulations! You've taken a big step towards bringing about the solution to the climate crisis.Return to letter-writing section.