Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change, by Guy Dauncey with Patrick Mazza (Gabriola Island, B.C.: New Society Publishers, 2001) Available at www.newsociety.com
This book belongs on the desk of every high school teacher in the country. They teach the future; they should understand the future. This book also makes a superb textbook for science, environment and social studies classes. Donate a copy to your local teenager, your local library, your pastor, your city council member. Read it in your investment or book club. You'll have a good discussion and the book offers many resources for further exploration.
Dauncey, an advocate of positive vision, successfully uses the therapeutic approach of breaking a seemingly insoluble problem into smaller, manageable parts. (Why isn't this done more often?) He divides the book into sections with solutions for individuals, organizations, municipalities, energy companies, nations, etc. This framework shows the reader where responsibility for each proffered solution lies. Instead of feeling helpless, the reader can decide where to make a difference. The reader who follows news can use the framework to see which solutions are being addressed and which ones are being ignored.
Here's some examples of Dauncey's positive actions. On the individual level, you can buy energy-efficient appliances and eat more organic and vegetarian foods. You can encourage your city to plant trees for cooling and plan for smart growth instead of sprawl. You may not be an auto company, but if you're a stockholder you can use Dauncey's solutions to propose shareholder resolutions to "prioritize fuel efficiency," "sell transport, not just cars," and "become an earth-smart company." You may not be a developing nation, but you can send money to support solar projects and help local citizens organizations.
An implicit lesson of Stormy Weather is that we can't leave climate change policy to the environmental groups and expect them to succeed alone. Most groups focus primarily on affecting government policies. But the reforms needed to prevent climate change require citizens' organizations of every conceivable ideology, size and interest. The members of your church can buy green power or form a tree-planting club. You can form a task force of employees to ask your employer to recycle, undergo an energy audit and change its parking policies. You can assist a group in your area that supports expanding public transportation.
The task is daunting. But climate change is already here: Winter is coming later and ending earlier, the Gulf Stream is in danger, and the number of glaciers in Glacier National Park has decreased from 150 to 35 over the last century. The Arctic ice lost half its thickness between 1980 and 2003. And all this with a temperature increase of only 1 degree Fahrenheit in the past century. This century will experience warming of at least 4 degrees F, possibly as high as 10 degrees F.
For the new hotter world, progressives MUST start now to forge the institutions and model the behaviors that will facilitate survival. If we don't, we will lose our country to fascism. The ignorant and the misled will stampede after any politician who offers them physical security. Democracy and the Constitution will fall by the wayside.
Don't be afraid that nobody else is taking action. Climate change is here, it's real and it's going to reshape our environment and our economy in a multitude of ways. The book The Party's Over and the film The End of Suburbia both vividly delineate the imminent changes to our way of life. Stormy Weather shows us what we have to do to make a survivable future real. Read it, and get moving today with others.
Danila Oder is a writer in Los Angeles.