And what to do right after reading it
In December 2019, I had an operation and two parts of my heart were replaced. The operation went well but then some complications developed. I spent a whole day unconscious on a ventilator before the problem was fixed.
Nonetheless, here I am. I’m a lucky guy.
I was concerned — very concerned — about the climate and the future before that operation. But having my chest sliced open reminded me that my time is limited. Some of what I had done before made sense. Attending climate protests was a good thing. So is not owning a car and walking everywhere. I certainly didn’t do everything perfect. For example, I sometimes take trips on airplanes. And living in a house in the United States in the 21st century, I burn fossil fuels.
The question before me was: what will I do with my time left? It may be short, it may be long but I’m older and I have no way of knowing what fate holds for me. Like every other human being on the planet.
What can I do that would make a difference for the young people, for future generations and for the Earth? The answer is — I can’t do much. But WE, that is a large number of people properly motivated and directed — COULD. And this group could start small and grow as their visibility increases and their ideas become known.
So, I thought about these people. Who are they? What are they thinking and feeling? What is in their hearts?
With all the divisions in the world, all the anger, all the fear and all the anxiety, people worldwide also have some common interests and positive feelings. Nearly all parents on the planet love their children. People spend years dedicated to raising and caring for them. Most parents want, more than perhaps anything else, for their children to have good lives, ideally better than their own.
I have no children. My thinking was not from first hand experience. In my view, since I don’t have children of my own, ALL children are my responsibility. Their future is the common future of our species. You don’t need children of your own to care and to act.
I thought about various movements and revolutions and changes that have taken place in the world. A few things struck me about them.
- They are possible. Ordinary people overthrew dictators in Eastern Europe, in the Middle East and elsewhere.
- They are powered by emotion, most often fear and anger.
- All too often, the “success” is less than hoped for and what comes next is a disappointment or even a disaster.
We have a planet we need to save for our children to have a better future. What if our change was motivated and powered by our love for our children? Instead of fear and anxiety and anger? What if we had a clear vision of what we were fighting for? What if that vision was broad enough and sensible enough that literally billions of people would recognize it as a vision of their own hopes? What if there was a short list of world-saving demands that billions of us could get behind? What if, instead of angrily punishing those who did bad things, we simply replaced them with people who would fight for the Earth and for everyone’s children — including the children of failed leaders we had removed from power?
And what if such a thing was driven by the active participation of ordinary people?
I imagined that framework for change, and wrote it down. I ruthlessly cut and edited it until it felt right to me. This idea, A Climate Declaration, provides the outline of what I believe we all want, what is needed, and what needs to be done to get there. It contains no science — it simply states that the details of what to do about the climate must be provided by climate scientists and engineers. But we must demand that the world acts on it.
There is no detailed plan in the Declaration, but there is a broad strategy. It also contains a few tactics for ordinary people to get the ball rolling. A Climate Declaration is, however, light on tactics. It recommends some specific moves that individuals can make. But it also proposes that we create small groups and discuss the Declaration and develop our own tactics, and carry them out.
People are different and have different abilities. We are busy and have demands made on us daily. We all need to do what we can. I am not a genius, but there IS genius out there and some of the tactics generated by people I’ve never met could advance our climate efforts and take the Declaration from an interesting idea to a force that explodes in people’s minds and ultimately forces the changes we need.
Don’t expect too much — or too little. Who started Me Too and forced the resignation of sex abusers in high places? What created the crowds of people standing up to dictators who were unable to stay in power? I am trying to put words to the feelings and thoughts of billions of ordinary people so THEY (meaning WE) have a focus and a place to start.
Our place to start begins tomorrow. Do the thing and we will have the power.
Tomorrow, when A Climate Declaration is published here (and at aclimatedeclaration.com), please read it. If you like what it says, or even if you think is just good enough (because it won’t be perfect), do something based on what it recommends. Do what makes sense for you. Discuss it with others.
On that first day, I’ll be very happy if people simply read it, print it out and post it publicly on walls and telephone polls where others can see it. Post photos of the publicly displayed Declaration on social media. Mail it to your representatives in government. Get something started.
Before our whole planet is on a ventilator, for your children’s sake, let’s start here and now.