Keeping climate change in perspective

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


“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 .”

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

7 replies on “Keeping climate change in perspective”

  1. Your “three minutes” are spot on. We all have an issue about which we care more deeply than others. But none exist in a vaccuum. Broadening our perspective is the way to improve our lives, our communities and our world.

  2. Today was a great world climate protection sensation that the world has not seen before- for me- a full day of 350 activities in Boston, Cambridge and evening of world music. I am reminded of our commitment to our natural resources and conservation duties. Will’s Silver Maple forest needs more impetus from the legislator himself, his colleagues and all of you, in order to promote the SECOND Bill701 which calls for the acquisition of the forest for 6 million (a figure which will be re-evaluated), with Belmont, Arlington and Cambridge picking up somem of the land cost. Friends of Alewife Reservation will be asking the City of Cambridge to consider their Community Preservation Act open space money for this purpose. While the fate of the silver maple forest is still being considered from 4 DEP hearings by a Judge, the neighbors surrounding the Forest continue to raise money to take the case to the next step. This has nothing to do with what the political steps taken are and will be, but it shows a determination to protect the area from citizens.

    We hope to be able to influence the legislature as our High School Ecology Camp students did this summer with the support of Rep. Brownsberger in the Agriculture and National Resources Committee of the House of Representatives and to support any way possible to pass it through the Sentate We were delighted to learn that the Heareing on 701 passed out of Committee this fall and will be going through the House.

    We hope to continue to hear about this proces from Rep. Brownsberger as the Bill gets closer to passage, and what we citizens can do to lend a hand.

    Ellen Mass
    Friends of Alewife Reservation

    Go to for a wonderful slide show of world events today!!!

  3. Thank you for lifting up the interconnections between climate justice and other justice movements.

    While shrinking our carbon footprint, we’ve got to expand our political footprint, and swiftly.

    Changing a light bulb is good. Changing a senator is better.

    Rev. Fred Small
    First Parish in Cambridge, Unitarian Universalist

  4. I want to make one point in one sentence, by boiling down your excellent three minute speech into its essence by only sculpting its prose.

    Certainly… climate change has the potential to … eclipse all … problems.

Comments are closed.