“THE ATLANTA TRAINING: CREATING A ROADMAP TO CLIMATE JUSTICE”
When I signed up for Climate Reality, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. In the months leading up to the leadership corps, a social media group emerged on Facebook to connect attendees. It brimmed with the excitement of attendees in previous years, and the successes citizens have had in their local neighborhoods. I can now confirm that the atmosphere of Climate Reality is one of a kind.
The conference, echoing the theme of environmental justice throughout, was held in Atlanta, Georgia, at the LEED certified Georgia World Congress Center. The South is the perfect setting for environmental equity, given the political and economical turmoil around fossil fuel usage. Moreover, it was a pivotal time to hold the training since next year, 2020, congressional issues for climate change will be up for debate.
“We should set a goal of planting one trillion trees on Earth.” - Al Gore
As Al Gore stated in his keynote to 2300 attendees on day one, we would “draw on the history of the civil rights movement.” Throughout the course of the three days, I fully embraced the diversity of attendees: from architects, engineers, animal rights activists, and scientists, to parents who simply wish to see their children grow up in a better world. At my table sat a retired EPA lawyer who received a buy-out from the Trump administration!
“Early to bed and early to rise, take hell and organize.”
Missed out on the training? Don’t fret. With approx. 100 Climate Reality chapters, and 29 on campuses, it’s easy to find a local chapter to get involved in. Additionally, conference locations rotate each year, both domestically and internationally, so there’s a good chance it will be held close to you!
DID YOU KNOW??
Important messages reiterated by Al Gore + Climate Reality team
The US government often targets rural communities of color. For instance, they have unnecessarily installed compressor stations along gas pipelines to facilitate movement of gas, specifically in these communities! Al Gore: “This pipeline is reckless, racist, and a ripoff.”- Al Gore
Environmental racism: 78% of African Americans live 30 miles or less from a power plant. The death rate of African American children from asthma is twice as high.
Toxic coal ash waste was dumped at a low income community in Uniontown, Alabama. Residents of Uniontown have complained about the health impact of such a landfill, a claim that has NOT been supported by the EPA!
Taxpayers are paying for pipelines, voter suppression efforts and ballot bias for people of color!
Global systems are vulnerable to crisis: food supply, water, global health. This is a trickle down effect that impacts all walks of our life- scary!!
A baby born in Warsaw today will inhale the equivalent of 1,000 cigarettes in the first year of his or her life.
India has the worst air pollution in the world.
Grid parity- when it’s cheaper to install renewable source of energy than to burn fossil fuel.
Wind turbine technician and solar installer —> fastest growing number of jobs in the USA!
Q+A Session: Al Gore + panel take in questions from Climate Reality leaders
1) What are three strategies to fighting climate change?
The IPCC Report states that we have twelve years to mitigate climate change. According to climate scientist Dr. Kim Cobb, “We don’t even have twelve years.”
3 strategies to fighting climate change:
a) Accelerate the decarbonization of the economy with an emphasis on electricity generation and transportation- employ a high percentage of renewables + electric vehicles. Establish a price on carbon.
b) Create a change in land use focused on agriculture and forestry. CO2 sequestered in topsoil is due to the large use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer.
“Stop using fertilizer as a steroid.”
c) Revitalize democracy so that the priorities of people are first.
2) What is the environmental impact of renewable energy technologies- is there a trade off to using nuclear energy?
One complaint about wind turbines is the death of birds. However, when you look at the numbers, bird deaths are not that huge.
Some metals (mercury) used in renewable energy technologies are used in conventional internal combustion engines.
Nuclear energy- Nuclear power plants do cost a lot of $$$, and no one seems to know about it.
3) What individual behaviors will make the most impact?
Do whatever makes you feel empowered- whether it is individually or collectively.
Reduce red meat, food + waste. Buying green/organic sends a message to manufacturers. We need to change our consumption patterns- 5 pounds of waste per person per day, in America!
4) How can we challenge elected officials to listen to people?
Policymakers can alert their constituents.
Get rid of voter suppression efforts.
Did you know? The average congress representative spends FOUR HOURS a day asking for MONEY from special interests + the wealthy!
5) Is there a maximum amount of CO2 that can be sequestered by the ocean?
The absorption of CO2 has caused ocean acidification. Extreme temperatures also threaten ocean. As the ocean gets warmer, it absorbs less CO2.
6) How can we help long term crisis while being sensitive to short term needs?
Emphasize the creation of jobs, put a tax on CO2, and reduce payroll taxes by same amount —> become revenue neutral.
7) What are some best practices for talking about climate change communities?
Know your audience and speak to them from their perspective. Recognize that you may be communicating science to non-scientists.
8) Discuss the role of scientists in the climate movement.
Climate scientists have not risen to the challenge of engaging beyond scenes from partisan attack, and need to evolve their roles to do such!
9) How does Agriculture play a role in emissions, including animal agriculture?
It takes 7 to 8 lbs of plant protein to make 1 lb of beef protein.
Plows devastate the landscape- breaking up soil makes it susceptible to erosion.
Carbon credits + reforestation link- we need a way to build up soil carbon.
“The most powerful technology for taking CO2 out of the air is called a tree.”
10) What is Carbon Pricing?
The solution for bringing down CO2 emissions is to put a tax on them, so that the economy, through all of its operations, integrates signals.
Currently, people are paying more taxes and giving money to fossil fuel companies.
Subsidies to fossil fuel sector are frequently made by China, Japan + Republic of South Korea -> these are subsidies for coal plants. Politics has swayed towards funding for dirty fossil fuels due to selfish interests.