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Over 1,000 Climate Rallies Planned This Weekend

Haider Rizvi, OneWorld US
A nationwide grassroots campaign aiming to force the U.S. Congress to take drastic action on climate change is now in full swing.

Come Saturday, activists in all major towns and cities across the United States will be taking to the streets to mark “the National Day of Action on Climate Change.”

During the day-long rallies and sit-ins on April 14, demonstrators will call for Congress to pass a law requiring an 80-percent cut in carbon emissions by 2050.

“People are ready to do something more than change their light bulbs,” said Bill McKibben, a well-known environmental writer and scholar who is among those spearheading the climate action campaign, called “Step It Up 2007.”

“They understand the need for quick and dramatic political action,” he added in a statement, describing the nationwide campaign as a “wake up call” to legislators in Washington.

In persuading the Congress to get serious about climate change, McKibben and other organizers are using innovative campaign techniques, such as making smart use of the Internet for organizing.

“Instead of marching on Washington, which would burn a fair amount of carbon,” said McKibben, “we will have a nationwide rally occurring more or less simultaneously.”
(10 April 2007)
Also at Common Dreams.

This April … Red + Blue Go Green

Bill McKibben, In These Times
Everyone’s got a metaphor, and ours was the potluck dinner. If we were going to build a climate change movement, and we didn’t have any money or any organization, how could we do it? We decided to throw a party. Invite our friends. Have them invite their friends. See what happened. ..

But here’s the shocking part. The newspapers said that the thousand people we’d assembled was the largest gathering that had ever happened in the United States about global warming. Yes, you read that right. Global warming is arguably the biggest problem we now face, and almost nobody in the United States had done anything political about it.

Not because people didn’t care: Everyone we asked to march said yes. It’s that no one had ever asked them before. The climate change movement is peculiar. It has scientists and engineers and economists, all of the wonderful superstructure that a movement requires, but no mass mobilization to support them. That’s what we need to change. Observers have always said that an uprising about climate was unlikely because few Americans were direct victims (yet) and all of us were in some sense beneficiaries of cheap fossil fuel. But what the march in Vermont told us was that the times had changed. ..

In the months that followed, a few of us-me and six newly minted Middlebury grads-began trying to outline a national action. ..

Those actions would take place in city parks and on church steps. And some would be staged in truly iconic places, which would remind anyone who heard about them of what was at stake. We raised enough money to build our rudimentary Web site,, and then, in mid-January, started sending out e-mails. Our fondest hope? That by April 14 there might be a couple of hundred rallies scheduled around the country.

I’m writing these words on March 15. After 10 weeks of organizing, we have more than 900 Step It Up rallies scheduled, a number that increases by the hour.

What happened? We merely sent out invitations to a potluck. But people, desperate to do something, anything, to start stemming the tide of the coming environmental disaster, responded with not only their heads, but their hearts and hands. ..

Bill McKibben is the author of 10 books, most recently Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future. He is a scholar in residence at Middlebury College in Vermont.
(9 Apr 2007)

Worldchanging Interview: Bill McKibben on Creating the Durable Future

Emily Gertz, WorldChanging
…Emily Gertz: You’ve got a lot going on: you’ve been helping to organize a day of nationwide demonstrations for action on global warming on April 14, and you have a new book coming out.

Bill McKibben: To me, they’re the emergency response to the situation we’re in, and the long-term response to the situation we’re in.

EG: Why don’t we start with the emergency response — what’s the Step It Up campaign?

BM: I should say at the beginning that it’s really not my forte, this organizing stuff. I’m a writer; I wrote the first book on global warming way back in 1989. And I’ve watched with increasing despair over the years, as we’ve done nothing in this country.

So, last Labor Day, I organized with a few friends a 50-mile walk across the state of Vermont for climate action. It was entirely successful: we had a thousand people at our final rally, which is a lot in the state of Vermont. The papers the next day said this was the largest rally on global warming that there had yet been in this country, which struck me as pathetic.

So, we decided to see if we could do a modest national campaign. When I say “we,” I mean me, and six Middlebury College students who were getting paid $100 a week. We launched a web site on January 10th, asking people if they would organize rallies in their home communities to fight global warming on April 14th, and told them that we would try to link these all together via the web into some interesting thing. We expected we might get a couple of hundred at most — a hundred, maybe two hundred if we were lucky.

After about just over two months, we had nine hundred and fifty-some rallies scheduled in all fifty states. It’s clearly going to be the largest grassroots environmental protest of any kind since Earth Day 1970.

We’re very hopeful that this is changing some of the feeling about this issue on Capitol Hill; we’re getting a lot of Congress people coming on board. One presidential candidate, John Edwards, endorsed our demand for eighty percent cuts in atmospheric carbon emissions by 2050.

It’s taken off amazingly — not because we’re great organizers, but because people are really ready to try and do something about this problem. They realize that screwing in a light bulb is a really good thing, but they also realize that it’s not solving the problem. You almost feel that as you’re physically turning the light bulb. So they want to figure out how to be active as citizens as well.
(10 April 2007)
Long, wide-ranging interview.

What’s so Funny? (profile of Grist)

Tim Dickinson, Outside
Actually . . . global warming, solar power, baby seals, carbon dioxide-and that’s just for starters. Thanks to the cheeky enviro-news site, greens finally have a funny bone. Now these upstarts want to lead the movement into the mainstream. Seriously.
IMAGINE THAT WRITERS for The Daily Show staged a hostile takeover of Sierra magazine. Earnest reports on climate change and organic foods would get repackaged with devilish irreverence. There would be jokes about Superfund sites, tree huggers, and the plight of endangered species. Al Gore would be a huge fan-and a favorite whipping boy. People under 40 might actually read it.

Which is to say, you’d probably end up with something a lot like Grist.

An online magazine published out of a 1920s high-rise in downtown Seattle, is reshaping green journalism by luring a younger and wider audience with an approach that’s not so much dumbed down as smart-alecked up. The site’s offerings include feature stories, interviews, an advice column, and a blog, though it’s best known for the Daily Grist, which summarizes the top environmental news from the mainstream and alternative press in snackable blurbs.
(April 2007)
Long profile of the up-and-coming environmental site. Grist is just one example of the innovative journalism that’s now emerging. Grist and Gristmill (the associated blog/forum) have become much more sophisticated about energy issues in the past couple of years. They’ve covered biofuels in depth, plus coal, global warming, carbon taxes vs cap-n-trade, etc.

Grist editor David Roberts gives some background on the article, including mentions of staffers who were not mentioned in the article.