Search

On January 6th, we were stunned as we watched an angry mob of citizens invade and desecrate the U.S. Capitol.

It was a startling culmination of years of divisiveness, misinformation, and demonization, stoked by pundits and politicians (on both sides). The fabric of our country is torn, and we will have to work hard to repair it.

At C-Change Conversations, we have worked to reduce the divide and help people understand that climate change is an issue that should bring us together rather than push us apart. Why? Because nature does not discern between a liberal or a conservative, or a farmer or a city dweller.


Nature is agnostic – and the changes in the atmosphere that mankind is triggering through greenhouse gas emissions will harm the basic natural systems that enable all of us to live on this earth: adequate water and food, safe temperatures and manageable numbers of natural disasters and diseases. Even though we feel divided, we are all in this together, and our actions with respect to our changing climate will either harm or protect everyone.

I don’t have the road map to help this country heal, but suggest two approaches that have helped C-Change reach across the divide:

1. Respect for trusted sources of information – facts, “truth” if you will, that both groups can find credible. When we allow our pundits and politicians to manipulate facts and recreate their own truth, and then pass that incorrect or heavily slanted information around our blogosphere and our curated news sources until it is mirrored back at us in so many places it feels indisputably real, then we begin to live in separate universes – with no way to find common ground. That’s why C-Change uses non-partisan sources from respected scientific institutions like NASA and NOAA, institutions everyone normally depends on to keep themselves safe, to help people understand why they should take seriously the risks of climate change.

2. Support and appreciation for “bridge builders,” people and institutions that are willing to bring people together across the divide and listen to others and remind them of our common humanity. The dysfunctional tribalism that was created by people and institutions who gain from it prevents many of us from remembering that all Americans want what is best for this country and for future generations. Since we started C-Change Conversations we have met many of these bridge builders, people who invite us to speak in their associations and communities even though they get hate mail or are verbally lambasted for daring to bring up the conversation of climate change. We are proud that we are asked to come in to help them build those bridges, and we are enheartened by the people we have met on our travels who have come to recognize climate change as a human issue, not a political one, and that they are necessary and welcome at the table.

I’ve seen these two approaches work very well. I have traveled to 30 states delivering the C-Change Conversations Primer to challenging audiences over the past three years, and my experience has left me hopeful. In every instance I was struck not only by the courage of our sponsors but also by the engagement from our audiences. A common refrain: “Thank you for helping me understand the science and inviting me in to be part of the solution.” And while not everyone agreed with us when they left, we always treated each other with courtesy and respect, and I truly believe held a mutual appreciation for the interaction we had shared.

Thank you for being part of our C-Change Conversations family and for helping to build those critically needed bridges.



23 views

A step-by-step guide to helping your community address climate change


“What can I do?” It’s a question that we almost always get after presenting the C-Change Conversations Primer. Most of us aren’t likely to invent a new renewable energy source or broker an international agreement on climate, but we can have a big impact on decisions made by our local government. That’s important because cities and towns have the power to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to help their residents adapt to the challenges presented by climate change.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to becoming involved with addressing climate change in your community.

1. Learn How Climate Change is Affecting Your Area

We are already experiencing the negative effects of climate change in many forms, including increasing temperatures, drought, wildfires, and flooding. To learn more about different risks across the country and where you live, click here. If you live near the ocean, data from Climate Central can help you understand flooding risks for your town. How will your town be affected between now and 2050? Is there a conversation you can start or join in your community about how your town will need to adapt to the projected changes?

2. Identify the Sources of Your Town’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Management expert Peter Drucker popularized the saying, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Has your town quantified its greenhouse gas emissions? If you’re not sure, call your town clerk to find out. If it hasn’t been done, creating a greenhouse gas inventory is an important step to recommend to your local elected officials. You can ask for a meeting to suggest it, or start by writing a letter to the editor in your local paper. Understanding the major sources of emissions is the first step toward developing effective reduction strategies. There are many resources available to help your town plan to do a greenhouse gas inventory, such as this one from the EPA.

The chart below is an example of the results of a greenhouse gas inventory from Princeton, NJ. By doing a greenhouse gas assessment, the town was able to see that it needed to focus on reducing emissions from buildings, as well as from cars, trucks, buses, and other vehicles.


3. Advocate for a Climate Action Plan and Help Execute It

Once your town knows what its emissions are, the next step is to develop a Climate Action Plan. The plan provides a roadmap for a town both to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions through a series of clearly identified steps and to protect its residents by planning to adapt to climate change and to become more resilient.

Since 1991, more than 600 local governments have developed Climate Action Plans that include greenhouse gas inventories and reduction targets. Here is a plan developed by Houston, TX that is worth reviewing. Notice that in addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Houston’s plan will result in other benefits to the city including reduced traffic congestion and better air quality.

You should be able to find out whether your town has a plan in place by doing an online search or checking the town’s website. If your town doesn’t yet have a Climate Action Plan, you can attend a town meeting and make a public comment suggesting the need for one. You can also request meetings with your local elected officials and reach out to local conservation groups to see if they will partner with you to support the idea.

If your town already has a Climate Action Plan, there will be many ways to get involved to contribute to its implementation. Can you start a conversation in your community about its Climate Action Plan and how residents can support it?

4. Determine How Climate Change is Affecting Vulnerable Populations in Your Town

People who have time and resources are better able to adapt to the risks and challenges of climate change. It’s important to think about vulnerable communities in your town, how climate risks might impact them disproportionately, and what strategies can be developed to protect them.

Rising heat can be a particular challenge to seniors, for example, and those who live in areas with higher levels of impervious surface and less green space suffer disproportionately when the temperature rises. Can you start a conversation in your community about how your town can protect residents more likely to suffer from the impacts of climate change? Here is an example of how Phoenix, AZ is adding shade trees and taking other proactive measures to address rising temperatures:




Small Scale Focus, Tangible Results

Working on the issue of climate change at the local level can be very satisfying. You can see tangible examples of change happening, like the installation of a solar field, the creation of bicycle lanes, or the development of a neighborhood buddy system that ensures vulnerable members of the community are checked on when there is a power outage. Done right, smart local planning to address climate change can yield a wide range of other benefits: building community, improving the quality of the local environment, enhancing public safety and health, and building resilience.

No matter what steps you take to address climate change, starting and keeping the conversation going is essential. C-Change Conversations is here to help! Please let us know how your community is addressing climate change and how you are getting involved.


Sophie Glovier, a C-Change Conversations team member who has presented the Primer in 5 states. Sophie is the Municipal Policy Specialist at The Watershed Institute where she works with citizens and local government to develop and implement strong environmental policy. She serves as Chair of the Princeton Environmental Commission, is the author of Walk the Trails In and Around Princeton, and is the recipient of D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Donald B. Jones Award and Sustainable Princeton’s Leadership Award.


11 views

Many issues separate. But we can forge consensus around climate.


Dear Friends,

We live in contentious times. This election highlighted how deeply divided we are, with each side clinging to strongly held and passionately argued views of what America means today and what it should look like tomorrow. There are many issues that separate us. Climate change should not be one of them.

Why? Two reasons. First, when we get past the words “climate change,” Democrats and Republicans agree on key policies that will reduce carbon emissions. Second, the old adages against climate action − it will destroy our economy, kill jobs, harm America’s primacy in the world, and diminish our quality of life − have been turned on their heads.

Let’s take a closer look.

While the words “climate change” still garner strong and differing reactions from Democrats and Republicans, there is much greater alignment when they are asked questions about specific energy policies. According to a June 2020 Pew Research Center study, 80% of Americans favor a tax on corporate carbon emissions, 79% of Americans want our country to prioritize developing alternative energy sources, and 71% want stricter emission standards on cars. The majority of Republicans say they would favor each of these policies.

Other studies show why Republicans and Democrats strongly support a transition to renewable energy. Republicans’ top reasons for favoring the transition are to reduce energy costs, increase energy independence, reduce water and air pollution, and provide a better life for their grandkids. Democrats agree, though they also rank dealing with climate change as a primary reason to support clean energy. So, while differences may remain on why we take actions to transition to a cleaner economy, there is great and broad support for those measures that will bring us there.

Importantly, other arguments that used to divide us aren’t valid anymore. Economists, CEOs, investment leaders, and even the Federal Reserve and the US Chamber of Commerce now say it is imperative to tackle climate change to protect the economy. Why? Because our economy is based on nature acting within the norms that have existed since our civilization started. Now, through humankind’s activities, we are pushing nature beyond those boundaries, which will wreak havoc with our food and water resources and supercharge hurricanes, droughts, sea level rise, heat waves, wildfires, disease spread, and rainstorms. This disruption in turn will harm markets, financial systems, communities, and families.

As for jobs, yes, clearly some jobs will be lost − and those workers and communities will need support − but many more jobs will be created as we continue to transition to renewable energy sources. Because fossil fuel production has become so highly automated, every dollar of investment creates many more jobs in the “cleantech” arena than in fossil fuels. And cleantech jobs are not just concentrated in a few locations but are growing across the entire country.

What about the risk that if America moves towards a cleaner economy it will lose its primary position in the world economy? This notion does not seem credible when so many other major economies – including 60 countries representing 49% of the World’s GDP – have already committed to be carbon neutral in the next few decades. This list includes China, Japan, S. Korea, the United Kingdom, France, and many others that we compete with, which all recognize that the costs and pain of climate change will far outstrip the costs of pivoting to a low carbon economy.

Perhaps even more concerning, other countries, especially China, are investing in and developing new low carbon technologies at a much faster and higher rate than the United States. While the United States clings to the fuels of the past, China is positioning itself to be the energy leader of the future.

Lastly, the belief that we must endure great sacrifice or give up our way of life to address climate change has been debunked. Geothermal, wind, and solar energy can power our homes, and an electric car is faster, quieter, more responsive, and cheaper to maintain than a combustion-engine car. Importantly, costs across new technologies have come down. In many parts of the country, solar panels can save you money on electricity, and electric cars are expected to become cheaper to buy than combustion-engine cars within the next five years. Walkable cities and better public transportation will cut down on pollution and improve our health. Smarter land use and agricultural practices prevent flooding, improve water quality, and yield more nutritious food.

We now know that switching to a lower carbon economy will not endanger our way of life, but that continuing to use fossil fuels will. Once enough Americans understand this, climate change will become a topic that pulls us together.

We are not naïve. Transitions are messy, carbon intensive industries will fight to keep the status quo, and political operatives will stir up emotions. Many who understand the threat demand dramatic action, while those who question the threat oppose any action at all. This will not change in the short term.

But if we pull together, and help others understand how much we hold in common and how much we will collectively lose, we can forge the consensus we need to confront this issue. That’s why C-Change Conversations is still hard at work, fostering the understanding that climate change is a human issue, not a political one, and enabling people to come together to address it.

As always, thank you for being on this journey with us. We welcome your thoughts and questions at any time.


11 views

C-Change Conversations is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization (tax ID 82-0839429) under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.

  • Twitter Social Icon
  • Facebook Social Icon

Legal                                                                          Privacy Policy                                                          P.O. Box 1206

Annual Reports & 990                                               Terms of Use                                                Princeton, NJ 08542

Charitable Rating                                                   State Disclosures

 

info@c-changeconversations.org