Below is a text that I expect to deliver in rough form this afternoon at a rally in Concord for action on climate change sponsored by 350.org.
“I want to make three points in my three minutes.
First, you, standing here in the rain, are to be congratulated for engaging in the politics of climate change. We can make a difference through lifestyle changes — thinking globally and acting locally — but too often this becomes just a way to feel good about doing the things we want to do anyway. I like riding a bike. I prefer vegetarian food. I’m glad to be downsizing to a cozy smaller dwelling with my extended family.
Most Americans just aren’t in a position to radically change their diet, radically cut their auto use and downsize their home. They are stuck somewhere in suburban sprawl eating what the corporate American food system puts in front of them. If we are to control climate change we need to change the grid, not to go off the grid. So congratulations again for being here to speak out.
Second, we need to see climate change in a broad political context. From an American standpoint, by the numbers, substance abuse, obesity, mental illness and urban poverty may each likely account for as much suffering as climate change over the next 100 years. Even from a world standpoint, Islamic fundamentalist terrorism, other local wars, disease, and grinding poverty from failed development may be bigger human issues than climate change. From a biodiversity standpoint, the biggest problem is probably habitat destruction — suburban sprawl, exotic hardwoordlogging and perhaps most tragically, the burning of forest land to create crop monocultures to support livestock to feed a growing population with a growing appetite for meat. It may be that the biggest world environmental issues are actually third world women’s rights and access to birth control — allowing girls to grow up and get a modest basic education rather than condemning them to early childbearing and large family poverty.
Certainly, in the 50 to 200 year time frame, climate change has the potential to magnify and eclipse all of these problems, but my final point is that the only way we will achieve radical action on climate change is by aligning our cause with other compelling causes. Fortunately, an aggressive response to climate change does square well with other critical goals: Green jobs, economic independence from oil price shocks, economic disengagement from regimes that support terrorism, control of suburban sprawl, international leadership to reduce poverty and conflict. Ultimately, we need to envision and create a world community that collaborates around the creation of green technology to replace our present world that is perpetually at war over access to fossil energy, water and other resources.
So, engage in politics! Congratulations again for being here .”