The topic of this year’s Blog Action Day is climate change, which is convenient for me. In keeping with the spirit of the event, I thought it might be useful to let people know how they can save the world.
Personal conservation is great, but it’s not nearly as great as political activism. Climate change is a global commons problem, and only coordination on a national and international scale will deliver the long-term emissions reductions necessary to avert the worst effects of global warming.
Now is a particularly propitious time to act. Climate change legislation has already passed in the House, and the Senate version is gaining momentum. World governments gather in Copenhagen in little more than a month to lay the groundwork for a new global accord on greenhouse gas emissions. While neither the U.S. climate bill nor the next round of international negotiations represents the end point of this effort, they are both make-or-break moments.
And let’s be clear about this: passage of a climate bill in the Senate is by no means assured. (Neither is a positive outcome in Copenhagen, for that matter.) Until fairly recently, the situation was looking grim, and only recently have the political tides started to turn. **Failure of the bill will be a disaster for both the country and the planet.**
Fortunately, increasing the political pressure for action is easier than changing your light bulbs, easier than bicycling to work, easier than eating locally — easier than just about anything else you can do. Here’s how:
Should take maybe ten minutes. If you’re feeling saucy, customize the letter by discussing a specific provision of the bill that’s important to you, or talk about some of the climate change impacts specific to your state. Or don’t. Just make sure you send the letter. (Yes, you can also use fax or email, but letters are more effective. If you can’t be bothered, this site lists the online contact info for your senators.)
Let’s up the stakes a little bit. Some senators are definitely going to vote no on the bill, and others are definitely going to vote yes. The most important pressure points are the undecided senators. If your senator is on the following list* and you fail to send a letter, then, well, stop complaining about your neighbor’s Hummer.
* Alaska: Mark Begich, Lisa Murkowski
* Arizona: John McCain
* Arkansas: Blanche Lincoln, Mark Pryor
* Florida: George LeMieux
* Indiana: Evan Bayh
* Iowa: Chuck Grassley
* Louisiana: Mary Landrieu
* Maine: Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins
* Missouri: Claire McCaskill
* Montana: Max Baucus, Jon Tester
* Nebraska: Ben Nelson
* New Hampshire: Judd Gregg
* North Carolina: Kay Hagan
* North Dakota: Byron Dorgan, Kent Conrad
* Ohio: Sherrod Brown
* Pennsylvania: Arlen Specter
* South Carolina: Lindsey Graham
* South Dakota: Tim Johnson
* West Virgina: Robert Byrd, John D. Rockefeller
Of course, even if your senator isn’t on this list, you’re not off the hook. You can still write expressing your hope that the Senate passes a bill this year, or that the final bill includes such-and-such a provision. Most of all, just write!
\* This is a broad list of undecideds. Some are probable yes votes, some probable no votes, some in the middle. To make this even more confusing, some of these people may vote yes on cloture but no on the final bill. In any case, all of these votes are important.