LAKE MACBRIDE— Spending the weekend with 25 or so environmental organizers and activists kept me busy, and engaged. Meeting new people and matching names with faces is important to any social justice effort, and the weekend did not disappoint in that regard.
Erin Pratt and Patty O’Keefe from Minnesota 350, and Erika Thorne of Training for Change arrived in Iowa Friday night, and led the workshop Saturday and Sunday. The focus of the workshop included planning strategic actions and campaigns, leadership skills, and tools for building a local team. The logistics were well organized, but the stars of the show were the Iowans who participated for part or all of the workshop. Old friendships were renewed, and new ones initiated. It was all good.
That said, it’s Monday, and the recurring, and ever present question, what’s next, needs answering… again.
Is there anyone on the planet that believes something positive will come from COP 19, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference of the parties in Warsaw? The web page on decisions coming from the conference hopefully says, “decisions will be available shortly.” I doubt it.
In order for COP 19 to take substantial steps to mitigate the causes of global warming after Warsaw, the United States and other security council members have to lead. Ours is a country where a significant number of people are pro-life, anti-UN, anti-taxes, and tuned out to most of what the rest of the world does. Because of the influence of this small, but powerful minority view, the chances of the U.S. government leading this year are between slim and none.
A lot of the conversations at our workshop were around political influence to address climate change. Political change is important, but do we have time to implement a carbon tax and dividend, or to amend the U.S. Constitution to overturn Citizens United? Both seem to be good intentioned, but hopeless pursuits. Investing our time and resources in such endeavors occupies bandwidth that could be used for other needed activities, the most important of which is organizing and educating our communities about the existential threat to our way of life represented by greenhouse gas emissions. For me, some part of today will be working toward that end.