Carbon Max 2020: Weekly Activities For Change

7: Justice: Forest Fires and Climate Change

(First published after the Paradise, CA tragedy in November 2018.)

Besides reading an article or two, your action this week is to send a thank you note to first responders or wild land firefighters near you.

Some key facts:

First, fire facts:

1. Hotter years produce more fires.

2. The fire season in the American West is 105 days longer now than it was in 1970 (source)

3. The California drought of 2012-1017 was the worst in 600 years

4. As the air intensifies storms, it also intensifies lightening. Each 1 degree Celsius brings 10-12% more lightening. And over dry forests, that's trouble.

5. From 1992-2012, nearly 84 percent of all US fires were intentionally or accidentally caused by people

6. Forest fires are now happening near and north of the Arctic Circle.

Forest Fires and Climate Change

Justice Facts:

1. Fires and other climate events are making insurance harder to get, especially for poor people.

2. Rich people are paying private fire companies to protect their property and only their property.

3. California uses prisoners on their fire lines at very low wages, but doesn't allow them to be hired by fire companies after they're released.

4. People living on the streets don't have a way to escape the bad air from fires, nor do evacuees who are living in tents. read more

6: Institutional: Contact an Institution

Choose one of your institutions from your Week 2 list, and contact them. Depending on your relationship, you could express your concern based on the IPCC report and:

1. Ask them for their divestment plan and timeline

2. Explain that you’ve decided to only support institutions with a divestment plan, and give them a timeline by which you’ll withdraw your support.

3. Explain that you are moving your support toward institutions with divestment plans, and organizing your friends and family to join you.

4. Instead of contacting the institution, contact your friends and family first, and ask if they’d join you on a divestment letter to a common institution. Use this as an opportunity to bring up the IPCC report to your friends (see the DeRay McKesson blog post about why this matters).

Institutions aren’t acting on climate change because the individuals they rely on aren’t telling them it matters.

5. Personal: Get to Know Your Utility. Then Say Hi.

So you know your carbon footprint. Now it’s time to reduce it. This week, we’re starting with Energy sources.

Your task this week: go find out what the energy sources are for your utility company, in your area. Mine (Xcel Energy Colorado) is pretty terrible, though they’ve announced plans to improve it. 

if you’re fired up/ pissed off about your energy mix, send a note to your utility company. Let them know this is important to you. They aren’t changing in part because they’re not hearing from ordinary people that this is important.

If you can’t figure this out, that says something about how your utilities are run.

If you’re off-grid, educate folks on what you did first.

4. Government: Vote, and Protect Your Right to Vote

When we started this action, this week was voting week in the United States.

But voting matters, so we’ll bring it up here anyway. Vote. Even in your local elections, because they have more say over your immediate environment than you might think. Know where your local officials stand on planet-related issues.

And check on your voting status occasionally. In the United States, there are many states purging voters from rolls. 

3. Justice: Fracking

 Learn about climate justice: fracking. This week, we're spending time educating ourselves about fracking. This was a hot issue in Colorado in Fall 2018, where we voted on a 2500 foot setback for all new fracking pads. Fracking depends on lateral drilling, so the drill itself can run miles horizontally from the pad, but this will protect homes and schools from proximity to the pads going forward.

This is a climate justice issue because fracking sites tend to be located in 'low-friction' areas. For example, in Greeley Colorado, a largely white elementary school had a well-organized parent group fight a pad location near their school, but that meant that the pad moved to a largely Hispanic school, where the parents were more reluctant to speak up in our current anti-immigrant climate. 

Fracking is banned in New York, Maryland, and Vermont. "In the air around drilling and fracking operations and their attendant infrastructure, researchers have measured strikingly high levels of toxic pollutants, including the potent carcinogen benzene and the chemical precursors of ground-level ozone (smog). In some cases, concentrations of fracking-related air pollutants in communities where people live and work exceed federal safety standards." "At least six percent of the population—17.6 million Americans—now live within a mile of an active oil or gas well, a number that includes 1.4 million young children and 1.1 million elderly people.21, 22 About 8.6 million people are served by a drinking water source that is located within a mile from an unconventional well."

Concerned Health NY Report

Yale Study

California Fracking the Poor

Fracking and Health

Methane Leaks

2. Institutional: Know Your Institutions

Make a list of your institutions. We're going to let them know we care about where they invest our money. I'm starting a spreadsheet for all this stuff, so I can put the Week 1 tracking on one sheet and this on another.

So - who do you have influence over that has investment portfolios? 

Your church? 

Your university? 

Your retirement fund? 

Your insurance company? 

Your bank? 

Your clubs, your charity organizations, your local sports team?

This week, all we need to do is make a list. If you're feeling fired up, pick one and send them a letter.

Fossil fuels are a high risk venture. They need money up front in order to speculatively drill for new fossil fuels, they have to get loans financed by banks, and the banks fund those loans through investments. We must stop drilling, so one of the most effective ways to shut it down is to shut off the funding for the speculation. Learn more about the Carbon Bubble.

Go Fossil Free has lists of divested and divesting institutions

1. Personal: Know Your Carbon Footprint

This is an event to share our journey as we make radical changes to our carbon footprints in anticipation of 2020, when we must reach carbon maximum. We will analyze our carbon footprints and then work on both individual and systemic changes. 

We began this work in October 2018, on our Facebook Group, right after the IPCC report came out. You can read more about the report. It says, among other things, that we need to reach our maximum carbon output by 2020, so we started this activity list.

Actions are in a four week cycle:

1. Personal Action

2. Institutional Action

3. Climate Justice

4. Government Action

So, start by getting to know your carbon footprint.

To calculate your carbon footprint, you need to know:

- your utility bills, both electric and natural gas if you have it.

- your transportation, broken down by mode: car, plane, train/bus, etc.

- your food usage - plant vs. meat and dairy, etc.

There are a number of carbon footprint calculators. I suggest trying 3 or so, and averaging your total. 

- If your footprint is less than half of the average for your country or area, focus your actions on systemic change more than personal. 

- If you are in a low-carbon country, like our Sub-Saharan Planet Parents, your actions are going to focus on educating us in high-carbon countries about how to help you more.

Some of these are US only, but do what you can.

© Parents for the Planet, LLC 2015-2019