There are occasional moments in history when we desperately need leadership, and this is one of them. If we’re going to deal with global warming, then we need to go beyond politicians who say the right words and find champions who will actually do the tough work to transform our energy economy.
And you could play a key role in bringing those leaders to the fore. This is an invitation to take one Saturday this fall and use it to build a movement, a movement strong enough to finally put this issue on the table where it can no longer be ignored.
Here’s the idea. On November 3, a year before the next election, we’re asking people to organize rallies large and small in their communities. Each one should take place in some spot that commemorates great leaders of the past. People have already committed to climbing New Hampshire's Mt. Washington and gathering in Nashville's Wilson Mall. Others will gather at the Rhode Island church where John F. Kennedy was married, or in front of a site honoring Navajo elder and activist Roberta Blackgoat. But we need hundreds more, gatherings in places that bear the names of national leaders or of locally celebrated men and women who did the right thing in a moment of great need. You’ll know the person that makes sense in your city or town—they don't need to be saints, just true leaders, the kind who, faced with the great issues of their day, didn't punt or compromise.
A movement needs to keep moving, and calling for real leadership is the next logical step.
Once you've got your rally registered on our website, we'll help you gather a crowd, and invite the politicians from your neck of the woods. We want to ask every Senator and Representative, and every candidate for those offices, to come to these rallies, along with state and local officials. Once they're there, we'll present politicians with the three "1 Sky" priorities prepared in the last few months by climate campaigners across the country. They are: an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants, and a Green Jobs Now mobilizing our society to help fix homes and businesses so those targets can be met. Basically, we want to find out who is simply a politician, and who's ready to be a leader.
We know these gatherings will be effective. In April, with the help of thousands of people (most of them brand new to organizing) from across the country, we organized 1,400 rallies in places that showed how climate change would affect our lives. Those events were key in putting the demand for real action--80% cuts in carbon emissions by 2050--square in the middle of the Washington debate. But a movement needs to keep moving, and calling for real leadership is the next step.
Don't worry if you've never organized anything before--you're not putting together a March on Washington, just a gathering of scores or hundreds in your town or neighborhood. It needn’t be slick; homemade is just fine. Put your imagination to work: what would Lincoln do? How would Dr. King take on this challenge? This is a celebration of leadership, and a celebration should be joyful—as focused on the new economies and communities we can create as on the threats we must avoid.
These rallies will be local, but they’ll also have national impact. The website will help draw people to your action, and then on Nov. 3, we'll be gathering pictures and video from around the country so that by nightfall we'll have a good online slideshow of how America feels. We'll do our best to make sure that every candidate is firmly on the record about their plans. By the time the day is done, you'll have helped change the political landscape.
The best science tells us we have barely a decade to start the fundamental transformation of our economy and to lead the world in the same direction or else, in the words of NASA's Jim Hansen, we will face a "totally different planet." (He went on to say that the "1 Sky" priorities "describe just the kind of trajectory we need" to start solving the problem). A decade's not very long—we've got to get going.
I know you’ve already done the obvious things, like changing some of the lightbulbs in your house. Screwing in a lightbulb is important; screwing in a new federal policy to deal with climate change is crucial, especially if we’re ever going to regain enough credibility to help lead the world toward a stable climate. November 3 will be a powerful day, and you can play a vital role. Please sign up on the website to start or join an action—and thank you so much for caring enough to be a leader yourself.
Bill McKibben and the StepItUp2007.org team
P.S. One more thing. Please forward this email as far and wide as possible, to anyone you know who might possibly be interested. We’re not really an organization, and we don’t have lists of names—we depend on people like you to take the initiative.
Colin Beavan (that's me!) is now leading a conversation about finding a happy, helpful life at Colinbeavan.com. If you want to know how people are breaking out and and finding authentic, meaningful lives that help our world, check it out the blog here and sign up to join the conversation here.