So, look, I've never even met a Congressman before, let alone tried to convince one of anything or hoped to get one to support any policies. So what do I know when it comes to assessing a lobbying visit?
But listen: I walk into Nadler's office and I sit down and I start by explaining where I'm coming from. I say that thanks to the visitors and commenters on this blog, I know that thousands of Americans are voting to do something dramatic about climate change, not just in the voting booth but with their willingness to change how they live.
I say that I know that polls put climate change about tenth in terms of voters concerns. But I add that the League of Conservation Voters did a study that showed that, of 3,302 questions asked of the Presidential candidates by Sunday morning talk-show hosts, only eight of those questions centered on global warming (that's 0.2%, by the way).
I start to say, "Imagine how concerned voters would be about climate change..."
"...if it was getting the coverage," Nadler says, completing my sentence.
I'm like, wait, this guy is on the same page as me. He seems sympathetic.
I'm there, by the way, to ask him to sponsor a "Sense of the House Resolution" asserting that the House of Representatives supports a climate change goal of 350 PPM atmospheric carbon dioxide (read why here and here and get more details on my "asks" here). I'm there to ask that he signs and pledges to work towards the adoption of the 1Sky policy platform (including creating 5 million green jobs and a moratorium on building coal plants). And I'm there to ask him to try to persuade House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to sign on to all these goals, too.
But before I get to the reasons for my visit, Nadler starts doing the talking. He has briefing documents on his desk in front of him and he's looking at them. He already knows what I'm there to ask him for, because his staff have read my blog.
Nadler tells me--and I'm paraphrasing--that there is no use trying to get Pelosi to sign on to the 350 target. He says that if 350 PPM is truly the necessary climate goal then it is Congressmen Waxman and Markey, of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, who need to be convinced. They are the House leaders on climate change. Pelosi and everyone else in the House, Nadler tells me, take their lead from them.
Then, Nadler looks at me and tells me that his staff tells him that 450 PPM is the accepted target for atmospheric carbon dioxide, not 350.
Now, then, if you've never met a Congressman, it's not that easy, I discovered, to contradict him. But, well, what else could I do?
We talked some more and finally Nadler says to me that if I can provide good documentary evidence of the 350 target to his staff (which I am in the process of accomplishing), they would talk to Waxman and Markey's staff and ask them to consider adopting the 350 goal, too.
Then Nadler says the words that make him my hero. He doesn't say we have to satisfy ourselves with what is politically possible. He doesn't say we have to look for compromise. Instead he says that, if 350 is what's scientifically necessary, then that is what we have to aim for.
Then, he looks over the 1Sky Policy Pledge, and without a moment's hesitation, he signs it.
And that is the story of how a Congressman became my hero.
PS Now, it's your turn to visit your own House Representative and press for the 1Sky policy solutions and the 350 goal. Hell, if I can do it, so can anyone.
PPS Thank you, thank you, thank you to the over 1,000 who sent me emails of support. I think the Congressman was truly impressed with the number.
PPPS I'll let you know the winners of the Reverend Billy DVDs soon.
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.