Where Do We Go From Here?

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Tompkins Weekly 10-06-14

By Nick Goldsmith

On September 21, the world made climate change history. Not in the form of unprecedented CO2 levels.  Not in the form of extreme weather. We’ve experienced those unfortunate events before, and we’ll face them again. When 400,000 global citizens of every race and religion marched on the streets of New York City, joined by tens of thousands more in over 2,600 events around the world, we made climate history – this time in a positive way.

The ripples of this massive climate action are still moving outwards fast, and as I continue my awestruck celebration of the powerful movement that was revealed in full force, I can’t help but wonder: where will those ripples lead? Where do we go from here? Will world leaders in the United Nations climate talks hear the call of the climate movement, or will they continue to drag their feet, and plod towards an inadequate solution?  Will the climate movement grow even larger, building upon this huge success, or will it dwindle as we all return to our lives and the multitude of other issues that demand attention?  Is it possible that we will proudly look back on September 21, 2014, and realize THAT was the moment? THAT was the moment that we gained critical mass. THAT instant of time marked the tipping point in the fight for climate action.  The answer is up to all of us, our huge and – finally! – visibly diverse climate movement.  Now that the world is watching, we’ve got to build on the momentum. The march was just the beginning. Where do we go from here?

One thing is clear: in a world where CO2 levels have reached 400 parts per million, there is no such thing as returning to “business as usual.” Either we change or the climate does, and we can no longer afford to wait for our leaders to act. Overcoming the complex and inter-related challenges of climate disruption and social inequality will require higher degrees of collaboration than we’ve seen in generations. As a sustainability employee at the Town of Ithaca and the City of Ithaca, I feel wholly inadequate to take on the immense challenges we face. But I am not alone. Many, many fantastic individuals and organizations in Tompkins County are working towards a healthy and happy future for our children, a future that balances our social, environmental, and economic needs.

Whether you are a newcomer to the climate movement or a veteran, whatever your background or political leaning, please consider doing something new. Now is the time to take that energy saving action you’ve been considering for years, be it to insulate your home, start taking the bus once a week, or try “meatless Mondays” in your household. We know collective actions can make an impact. Encourage your government, your workplace, and your friends to dedicate resources towards finding solutions. Work together. Consider volunteering for, donating to, or otherwise supporting one of our local nonprofits, businesses or government agencies working towards shared goals. Here are just a few opportunities:

Our small community sent over 400 people to the historic People’s Climate March. Where do we go from here? Let’s use our collective energy to answer that question. Forward, Ithaca!

This article was developed in collaboration with several sustainability leaders in the community. Nick Goldsmith is the Sustainability Coordinator for both the Town of Ithaca and the City of Ithaca. To stay up to date on local sustainability news and events, sign up for the monthly electronic Ithaca Sustainability newsletter at http://tinyurl.com/k486cx6, or contact Nick at ngoldsmith@town.ithaca.ny.us or 607-273-1721.


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