President-Elect Trump, Here's Our Climate Call to Action
What can I do? I have been asked this question several times over the last few days by colleagues, friends, and family. I ask myself this very question.
Unfortunately, I don't have all the answers. The division our country faces is unprecedented for a modern president, according to the New York Times. The only other period in American history similar to what we see now is that of the Civil War, when Abraham Lincoln was elected with only 40% of the popular vote. I hope this notion resonates with you.
The current protests are not over President-Elect Trump's win, but over the mysogyny, racism, and blatant disregard to science used as fuel for his race to the White House. This demagogue's behavior has allowed frightening behavior to normalize.
Nonetheless, in the face of adversity, we must not run nor hide. We must rise. An individual's everyday actions or donations may seem futile; but the collective bravery of millions of Americans does matter. It is the difference between losing our planet and saving it.
This post offers specific calls to action to protect environmental regulations. The Trump Administration touts that the EPA and other environmental policies represent "over-regulation." However, the American public disagrees. A recent Gallup Poll indicates that this past spring, only 12% of the public believed that government does too much to protect the environment while 57% through the government does too little. As this is a period of unpredictability, it will remain a living document and will be updated frequently.
- We have got to stay up to date on the legislation moving through Congress.
- First and foremost, familiarize yourself with President-Elect Trump's goals for his first 100 days in office. The official announcement can be found here, as well as a guided explanation from NPR here.
- Secondly, research the legislation that matters to you. And be its loudest advocate. Do you live in a coastal community and care about wetland or oceanic protections? Check out the Clean Water Act and its current status.
- Or are you in a city where air quality is a major concern? Click here to learn more about the status of the Clean Air Act.
- What about environmental justice? President Clinton signed an Executive Order to protect low-income and minority communities from adverse environmental impacts. This could also be at serious risk under a Trump presidency due to the fact that Congress has the power to overturn an executive order by passing legislation in conflict with it. Congress can also refuse to provide funding necessary to carry out certain policy measures contained with the order.
- I also highly suggest familiarizing yourself with the Clean Power Plan. On August 3, 2015, President Obama and the EPA announced this historic and aggressive blueprint for a new era of energy for the United States. In the year since, the legislation has grown exponentially – not in infrastructure, but in paperwork. The Clean Power Plan remains immobile, at least until after the court case West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency is resolved. Click here for a Sustainable Directions breakdown of the legislation and its history.
- And what about campaign finance reform? Prominent Republican leaders used to acknowledge the existence of human-made climate change, and have since changed their tone, drastically. Their polarization coincides with the Supreme Court’s decision in the now-famous Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which allowed energy interests to exert unlimited financial influence in Congress. I highly encourage you to contact your state representatives and let them know that your government should not be bullied, nudged, or swayed any longer. Click here to take instant action by supporting the DISCLOSE Act, which seeks to finally force all officials to disclose special interest funding.
Your call to action: Know your legislation. Know its benefits. And be ready to be its loudest advocate yet. Because every voice matters.
2) Engage in Your Community
- Cities are our solution to mitigating the impacts of climate change.
- They are centers of commerce, culture, creativity, and community.
- And according to C40 Cities, they are also home to today's climate change consequences:
70% of cities are already dealing with the effects of climate change, and nearly all are at risk. Over 90% of all urban areas are coastal, putting most cities on Earth at risk of flooding from rising sea levels and powerful storms.
- Cities are also major energy suckers, accounting for 2/3 of the world's energy usage and responsible for 70% of all greenhouse gases emitted.
- But these are merely challenges for the innovator and the opportunist, because smart development means better living, better health, and higher profits.
- Cities are nimble. I have seen the power of cities firsthand while working under Director Stephanie Stuckey Benfield of the City of Atlanta Mayor's Office of Sustainability. And since President-Elect Trump announced his determination to reduce environmental regulations, Mayor Reed has offered his own rebuttal that climate change will remain a top priority for the City of Atlanta. Similar statements have been issued by the Governor of California and the Governor of Massachusetts.
- Research what your community is doing towards climate change and sustainable development. This includes policies set by your local city council, Mayor, Governor, and elected congressmen and women. Click here to learn more about your local representatives.
- And also VOLUNTEER! Your own streets, towns, and cities are opportunities for you to engage and see your impact firsthand. Look up your community's local environmental chapters and see how you can help. This includes: community gardens, conservation leagues, your regional Sierra Club chapter, co-operative farms, community engagement forums, your state/national parks, and local alternative transportation initiatives.
Here's your call to action: Hold your elected officials accountable and make your own mark within your community.
- In times of crisis, we must seek the counsel of those who know this fight, and know it well. I strongly encourage your donation to an environmental organization equipped with a history of championing environmental protection. A few friends have asked for suggestions:
- Environmental Defense Fund
- With the help of 1.5 million members, EDF takes a pragmatic approach that benefits people and nature. They have a long history of strategizing with both political parties towards implementing smart environmental legislation.
- Right now, the High Meadows Foundation will match your first 12 gifts $2-for-$1, so over the course of a year, your $10 gift amounts to $360 defending environmental progress.
- The Sierra Club
- The Sierra Club has immediately established a "Fight Against Trump" fund, which will help mobilize their campaign against Trump's derailment of environmental policy.
- The Sierra Club is also currently very active on the front-lines with the Standing Rock Sioux Water Protectors, as well as through retiring coal plants, establishing parks and national monuments, and educating youth.
- The Environmental Working Group
- League of Conservation Voters
- The sole purpose of LCV is to educate the public on important environmental legislation - something needed now more than ever.
- By donating, you are supporting their efforts to turn environmental values into national, state and local priorities. They also have men and women deployed to scrutinize every level of government and hold our officials accountable for their votes and actions.
- NextGen Climate
- For college students and young professionals, NextGen is an awesome opportunity to donate with time if you don't have the cash.
- Headed by philanthropist Tom Steyer, NextGen offers volunteer opportunities, internships and fellowships for advocates wishing to join the fight against the most pressing issue of our generation.
- Environmental Defense Fund
In light of last night's unfolding, there is hope.
Although I do not have all the answers, I maintain this: grassroots action, passion, and compassion will catalyze the change we wish to see in the world. And during the midterm elections, let us support the candidates that are inclusive, and that remain strong in their defense of ethics, values, stewardship and leadership.
Today, I hope I can count on you to fulfill each of these calls to action. And during the next two years, I hope you will join me in my fight to reclaim our voice during the midterm elections. Our countdown starts now. Check it out below.
For more information on how to protect things President-Elect Trump could cut, I encourage you to check out this latest post by Refinery 29. It provides comprehensive information and suggestions regarding 1) college affordability and Pell Grants (yup, your ability to go to college is on the line); 2) climate change and science, technology, engineering, arts, and math support; and of course, marriage equality, equal pay, and equality for all.