Climate Diet #5: Impacting on Social & Political Fronts

In the fifth and final summary offering of the “Climate Diet”, suggestions revolve around systems, policies and educating others about causes you personally identify with. As you’ll see below, small and local action can result in national change.

  1. Be specific. Ask for change within your legislator’s scope of authority. In Washington State right now is SB 5697, a significant bill to overhaul our recycling program and keep tons of plastic out of landfills.
  2. Fight for Racial Justice while fighting for Climate Justice. People of color disproportionately bear climate impacts, from storms to heat waves to pollution. Fossil-fuel power plants are more frequently located in black neighborhoods, leading to poor air quality.
  3. Small and local adds up to big and national. A multitude of impactful climate/environmental policies are made in towns and city councils (remember Lacey City council candidates fighting to restore plastic bags in grocery stores?). Even the PTA and school boards can have impacts. Get to know your local legislators – you can influence them!
  4. Educate when possible. Most policy makers are not expert in all fields. Educate elected officials, be respectful and polite, and give them facts to discuss the vital issues about climate change.
  5. Get personal. The best way to influence lawmakers is to visit them in person. Also, send personal correspondence when you want to influence legislation – tell your story – but briefly. Petitions and form letters that you sign online are better than nothing, but personal stories connected to a specific issue are most effective.
  6. Speak for the trees. We need to protect our old growth forests! A recent editorial in the Olympian spoke about Washington State cutting timber to fund schools but that it is actually a very small part of the budget and would be better to leave the timber alone. This idea is about letting our trees get very old because they store so much more carbon when 50 – 150 years old.
  7. Pay attention to what they do, not what they say. Often what a politician says does not always follow what they do when voting on climate issues. Conservatives might talk more like a climate denier than they are, and Liberals might sound much more climate friendly than they actually are.   Check the rating of The League of Conservation Voters for congressional votes on climate issues.
  8. Donate strategically. Instead of donating $25 to a candidate and expecting action, donate to a large, influential action fund where donations can have a more significant impact. The NRDC Action Fund and the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund are two campaign-financing instruments that offer this kind of donation opportunity.
  9. Focus on the goal rather than the difficulties. It can take years of persistence to close- down or prevent large scale fossil fuel projects. Two large projects (Duke Energy and Dominion Energy and the Atlantic coast natural-gas pipeline and Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes and the Dakota Access Pipeline) were finally killed by persistent opposition.  Hang in there and don’t give up.
  10. Make it for Everybody. Don’t make this a partisan issue. Appeal across the aisle to American innovation and economic strength. We can rev up a green economy with new jobs and technologies which will benefit all of us.

Afterword: This is an unbelievably complex undertaking but the author of “Climate Diet” believes we can achieve it.  That said, a few pointers:

  • Don’t shame – encouragement and education are much more effective than smugness and condescension.
  • Don’t blame the poor and powerless – people cutting down the rain forests in the Amazon are doing so to survive, we must reduce economic inequality while reducing emissions. We need to add economic opportunity to climate initiatives.
  • Make your life your argument – The sight of our actions in action is our best form of persuasion.