By Kermit Hovey
Don’t read this unless you believe that the climate change crisis threatens life on this planet and our country’s promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
If you do believe this, you probably understand that climate change is really happening, really serious, really human-caused, and that we really need to do something about it.
Consequently, I have an important favor to ask. You can of course decline, but I and many others will be extremely grateful if you say yes.
First, let me give you some good news and explain a couple of things. (Or if you are too fired up and eager to find out what the favor is, jump ahead to the last couple of paragraphs of this post.)
Some good news: You are part of not just a national majority, but a global majority. Nationally, the authoritative Yale Program on Climate Communication reports that in the USA, 72% of adults think global warming is happening and 63% are personally worried about it. Globally, the United Nations Development Programme / Oxford University People’s Climate Vote polling finds that nearly two-thirds (64%) of people in 50 countries believe that climate change is a global emergency.
However, being a member of that statistical majority and doing something about it — something to address the climate challenge — are two different things.
Are you doing something about it? What number would you assign yourself on a scale from 1 (“I’m doing nothing”) to 10 (“I’m doing everything I can”)? Please, don’t overthink, just pick a number. Yes, right now. Actually look up from this column, if that helps. Continue with the next paragraph after you do.
Now, with that number in mind, think of a couple of reasons why you did not give yourself a lower number. Yes, right now, pause for a moment and think. Again, look up from the text if that helps and continue when you have at least a couple of thoughts in mind.
OK, what did you come up with? First, congratulations on wherever you placed yourself! Thanks for any and all steps you have already taken and are taking. Wherever any of us want to be, we always have to start somewhere. I bet you recognized that you have already chosen to think, learn, and do one or more things that help address the climate crisis. Again, congratulations and thank you!
I also bet you realized there might be more you could do. Whatever you already do and how much you do it, I assure you fresh opportunities and growing edges await. For instance, as a member of those “climate crisis aware” majorities, you could also more regularly vote, write, call, talk, organize, or otherwise engage politically.
After all, we are citizens of a democratic republic, part of a growing majority that knows we need our governments to act boldly. We owe it to ourselves to express the growing political will these percentages represent.
The worsening climate crisis demands nothing less. For us, the nature and intensity of those demands smash us in the face. Recall recent headlines and tragic images that convey the horrific impacts of global warming. The destructive extreme weather events of climate change touch more and more lives more and more intensely week by week. So let’s act and let’s act together.
And so about that big favor I promised to ask…
If you have time to take one action to address the climate crisis in the next two weeks, please read on and take five minutes to contact your senators at cclusa.org/senate.
Why this and why now? The reconciliation package currently being drafted in the Senate is the best pathway Citizens’ Climate Lobby has seen in over a decade to enact a carbon price. Such a policy has broad support among scientists, economists, and others across the political spectrum. It promises to bring climate, health, and economic benefits to us all.
So please go to the website cclusa.org/senate to write and call your senators now. In as little as five minutes, the site can help you send an email to each of your senators and place a call to their offices using a brief sample script. If you want, you can take extra time to customize your messages. Conveniently, calls can be made at any time of day and will likely be extra quick and easy due to the current reliance on voicemail.
Next, multiply your impact by asking friends and associates to do the same during the next two weeks. This is a critical moment in history, so let’s give everybody a chance to take part.
And after this, please go beyond doing a favor for me. Do a favor for yourself, your neighbors, and your descendants. Stay involved with climate change action, one step, or five minutes, at a time.
Engage through Citizens’ Climate Lobby Madison Chapter, 350 Madison Climate Action Team, or another climate action group. Take additional steps to address the climate change crisis as an engaged citizen.
To stay politically engaged as a citizen of our democratic republic, Kermit Hovey volunteers and leads in various groups including ClimateCaretakers.org, 350Madison.org, Citizens’ Climate Lobby Madison Chapter, Wisconsin Creation Care Ambassadors, and the Middleton Sustainability Committee to advocate for a livable, healthful world powered by clean energy and untainted by dirty fossil fuel pollution.
An earlier version of this post appeared in the Middleton Times Tribune.