The International Day Of Climate Action

Uploaded by MSLawdotedu on 13.12.2010

we began here at middlebury college two years
almost three years before that
uh... myself and six undergraduates uh... did a uh...
project we called step it up
across america
and organized
climate change rallies on the same day in the spring of two thousand seven
in all fifty states
they were successful Hilary Clinton and Barack obama changed their climate change policies
within a few days of those
but we understood after that and after watching the arctic melt
that we needed to work on
a global
jim hansen's nasa team really provided the number three fifty that became the
base of our work
and we decided to take that somewhat obscure scientific data point
and see if we could make it a rallying cry around the world to try to help drive the politics
we were pretty successful in a sense
on the twenty fourth of October in two thousand and nine
we managed to coordinate fifty two hundred simultaneous rallies in a hundred and eighty-one
uh... c_n_n_ called it
the most widespread day of political action in the planet's history
foreign policy said it was the largest coordinated global rally of
any kind
it was very beautiful
very powerful it showed among other things that
environmentalists are not rich white people they're mostly black and poor and brown and young
'cause that's what most of the world is
and going into copenhagen
the big climate summit in december of two thousand and nine
it gave us some pretty good momentum
we'd managed to convince eventually
about a hundred and twenty national governments
to adopt this three hundred and fifty target which is pretty remarkable
um... they were the wrong hundred and twenty
the biggest most powerful countries in the world
the u_s_ and china really chief among them weren't yet ready to deal with what
that science meant and the kind of cuts in emissions and things
that we'd require
so copenhagen in many ways ended in failure
but as far as movements go
we finally have one a big global movement and uh...
we continue to press forward at three-fifty dot org
i know that uh... your your most recent piece for the new york times review of books talks
copenhagen and how there was a lot of disappointment among the environmentalists and activists and it gets back
to that point i guess uh...about china and india
and one of the reasons that a lot of people in the united states bristle
at the idea of how we should reduce our emissions while develop quote unquote developing countries
like china and india aren't doing the same thing how do you
suggest getting past that I know you must have dealt with that issue well it's very useful just to try to think
about well let's take china
uh... china last year
passed the u_s_ as the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world
there are four times as many
people in china
as there are in the u_s_
so per-capita basis we still remain far and away the champion
in fact i mean i suppose you could say that
china could solve it's c_o_ two problem just by dividing into four countries
each one
would be the same size as the u_s_ but only emit a quarter as much carbon
problem solved you know
it's also worth remembering that the residence time of the c_o_ two molecule in the atmosphere
is about a hundred years on average we've been pouring c_o_ two into the atmosphere
for more than a century the chinese really for a little more than a decade in significant
hence it'll be
forty years or so before
uh... china passes us
even given it's bigger population as the major source of
the warming that we see around us
uh... so it's ridiculous to scapegoat china or to demand that they move on exactly the
same schedule we do they're not historically responsible
and they are using
their fossil fuel to pull
hundreds of millions of people
out of very dire poverty
there's a reason for them to be doing
what they're doing
not a reason like we need
yet a larger McMansion
yet another jacuzzi or whatever the heck it is we're spending that energy on
that said
clearly china and india and the rest of the developing world are going to have to
figure out other ways to develop and we're gonna have to help make that happen
that cooperation is essential now
because the sheer
growth in their carbon emissions will overwhelm anything we can do close to home
unless we're able to bring them under control soon

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