April 14, 2007


Today is National Day of Climate Action .... 1377 events around the 50 states to mark this occasion. Read the New York Times article (can read essentially the same article via IHT, if you don't have a free NYT subscription) and these two Boston Globe articles for more details about the event. The Sea of People in New York City should be an interesting one!

You can search what's happening near you...and step up and participate.

I plan to be at Boston Commons this afternoon for the "One Earth, One Climate" Rally - one of many events being held in the Boston area. This other event is closer and is starting in 5 minutes but I was indisciplined enough to sleep in this Saturday morning or rather sleep late on Friday night.

Although this is a US-based event, people around the globe are acting in similar ways. On April 8th, some people in Australia launched a 3 Step Climate Change plan to reduce the impacts of global warming, with the mandate to..
1. Take personal responsibility for our emissions
2. Motivate leaders to put in place climate policies
3. Broadcast urgency for climate action

Point is... wherever you are... step up, take responsibility and do what you can (not only today but every day) to help the cause....even if it is something as simple as spreading the word about the effects* that global warming has on the environment and why it is important to safeguard the future of the planet. It is easy to point fingers at other people (eg: blaming people for their excessive consumption habits)... but in the end we all live in one global community and the effects of global warming know no political affiliations or national boundaries (though, admittedly,
some people will be affected much more than others!)

Update - 6pm:

Just came back from the rally in Boston Common... with the highlight undoubtedly being the children choir which joined Chad Hollister and his band in performing some great music at the end of the event. One particular girl ...not more than 10-11 years young (sorry.. cannot remember her name - will try to find it later) sang the first two lines of one of the song.... and ...wow...what a voice! Had my hair on end... such was the power of her voice. You WILL hear of her sooner rather than later some day!

Anyways... I am finally back home tired... (of course, I walked to the train station and back, took the T to Boston Common, was standing for over 2 hours at the event and on the way back even stopped at one of the stations to do my groceries... and walking back home with the groceries is what finally got my back to act up!) .. and will try to write more about this event later.

Update - 7.00pm:

I just learned
from this blog post (I added some links to the sentence below) that Step It UP 07 is ..

..the brain-child of writer Bill McKibben, author of ten books on climate and social issues, McKibben was one of the first to warn about global warming in “The End of Nature” in 1989.

Bill writes eloquently here about why he started this mass movement to raise awareness and halt the devastation caused by climate change. Also read this article he wrote two years ago, titled, 'What the warming world needs now is art, sweet art'

I do not plan to cover details about the event per se. In short, it was a good 2 hour rally though large number of people walked away after the first hour of speeches (a necessary evil, I suppose - someone has to speak up and address and communicate with a gathered crowd or what else will they do!) and unfortunately missed the great music (see below) later. Perhaps 1000-1200 people showed up (though I may be completely off - do not have a good feel for guesstimating sizes of crowds!). I think I had expected more - but its ok.. its not an end in itself..its a means to an end and I think the coverage the day's events are getting in the national news media is a good start.

I rarely lecture on any topic as it is not my nature to impose my views on others...but I have chosen to lecture a bit about this topic today. I avoid doing this because it turns people off when you impose your ideas on others but today I realized that me taking personal responsibility is a good start but the effort will be in vain if more people do not get involved and make a difference in their own lives and do what they can to further the cause.

The events organized today were no doubt necessary and I welcome more events like this to showcase and highlight the issue - because, as one of the speakers said: most change in US society have been effected by the power of numbers - be it abolition of slavery, women's suffrage, or civil rights. Also, like U.S. Representative
Edward Markey, (who is the Chairman of the recently formed 'Select Committee on Energy Independence & Global Warming' which was recently put together by the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi), said at the event, quoting Gandhi -- "We have to be change we want to see in the world."

More power by the way to this
15-member strong Committee as they take on the Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman, Congressman John Dingell, and the vested interests he represents, in the months to come...

Back to my thoughts about the rally. The cynic in me is quibbling that a very very tiny fraction of people in the country changing their lifestyles will not effect the change desired i.e. 80% reduction in CO2 emission by 2050. I got a feeling that the speakers at the event, which included several political and community leaders, were preaching to the choir. Also, while it is true that community leaders and politicians have to show the will to pass legislation to regulate emissions from industries but major change will be difficult to achieve unless a majority of the population believes in this issue and wants to make a change and acts on it by changing the way they live their life and more so by refusing to buy products from greedy rapacious industries that look to further their bottom line with scant consideration of its impact on the environment. Conservationism may be a personal virtue,
per Cheney, but in my opinion is a necessity and unless a majority (not 51% but 70-80-90% maybe!) of the population believes in this, long term changes will not be effected. When people believe, industry reacts...governments change...revolutions happen. Any arguments made about not not spending more and being prey to the allure of consumerism being bad for the economy and hence unpatriotic in some sense is sheer hogwash!

A few hundred (may be up to 1000-1200?) people came to the event... but as I see the local evening news on TV as I type this...there is no mention of the event. They talk about the weather and the effect rain will have on the Boston marathon on Monday, car accidents, the tornado in Texas, a stolen dog, slashed tire crime wave in a suburb..and other inane topics! There was coverage on the network news at 6.30 and we'll have to wait and see if the 11pm local news brings some coverage but I did not see any TV vans at the event - just some press photographers from papers and zines. Maybe I am being overly pessimistic but in my mind a few hundred people getting together for a couple hours in support of an issue, albeit a very important one, just won't even make local news, let alone get the politicians in DC take notice...unless that 'some people' turns into a mass movement of millions of people.

Again.. I am not criticizing the organization of today's events... it HAD to be done and is a good start. And though the larger goal may be to make it a mass movement, which is necessary to effect change.. maybe it is important to remember that every journey starts with a single step. Today, we took the first step and in the days ahead each and every one of us, individually, has to become more and more aware of the issues to glean the truth amid the din of points and counter-points and then make whatever changes we can in our lives... (I realize not everyone of us, me included, can live like the
No-Impact man. Currently, I walk to work, my wife takes public transportation, we avoid the car and walk whenever we can even if it is inconvenient and takes a little longer (I have driven all of 10 miles at the most in the last 3 weeks; though this is unusual and perhaps 25-30 miles a month is normal in the last 6 months), we try to manage paper, heat, plastic, and other perishable consumption as much as we can, and recycle whatever we can (and consequently have very little garbage but 2-3 bins full of stuff to recycle every week!), ....and so on...but obviously can keep doing more!)

Enough said.... for now!

P.S. Also, rather fortuitously, I was standing next to and got a chance to talk to Clara Wainwright, famous quiltmaker, public celebration artist, founder of First Night Boston and the now discontinued but famous once-upon-a-time Great Boston Kite Festival. In my field of work (which should perhaps change!) and my social circle (which I should develop!), I rarely meet artists, musicians, painters, poets, writers and people of that ilk. Today came a golden opportunity, without even going out to seek it, and for that I am really glad I went to the event! At least for those few minutes, I was interacting with a very well known local community leader and celebrated artist, and after the event, I am, at least for the time being, inspired to do more for the community and society around me. You see now why I started lecturing today..

Update - April 15th:
For people like me who were wondering if anyone had noticed... New York Times had a
front-page article and a gallery of pictures from around the country. Also 2000+ pictures from around the nation; including a few pictures from the Boston event. (Lots of creative ideas from people in stepping it up... but this one is neat! :))

Also this article by Thomas Friedman in the NYT today:
The Power of Green
What does America need to regain its global stature? Environmental leadership.

* Reference: My compilation post with various links on
Global Warming and the Environment.

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