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What can you do about it?

TerraPass members are a vocal group, with our past surveys showing that about half of our members have contacted their government on environmental issues.

Recently, I spent some time with some friends who work in environmental NGO circles, and we got to talking about the most effective ways for regular constituents to get attention from their elected representatives. After all, if you’re going to go to the effort of getting in touch, you might as well be heard.

As some long time Footprint readers will recall, a couple of years ago in the heat of the Democratic presidential primary battle, we launched a petition against the ridiculously short-sighted and cynical “gas tax holiday” mooted by both Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Though it was, I’ll admit, quite satisfying to send off the latest signatures every night or two, I’ve never been fully convinced it was the most effective way to get our point across.

So what is that most effective way? As it turns out, that’s a simple question with a straightforward answer – send a letter! Yes, actual snail mail. OK, there’s a bit more to it than that, but rather than walking you through it myself, I’m going to point you to Omar Ahmad, a member of the City Council for San Carlos, California, and his great short TED talk from 2010.

If you follow his advice, it will cost you the occasional stamp, and take a little more time than a simple email might, but you can be at least reasonably sure that someone will take the time to read it and perhaps even respond.

Because despite all the noise and confusion that characterizes our political system, at the end of the day the only way the politicians know what you want is if you tell them. So if you care about climate change legislation, please pick up that pen.

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