Friday, April 13, 2007

Reading While Rallying

I hope that you’ve already heard about tomorrow’s First National Day of Climate Action, a national day of rallies and protests aimed at convincing Congress to cap carbon emissions. Many efforts seek to dramatize the unwelcome changes we’re already facing: scuba divers will be visiting bleaching coral reefs off Florida, and skiers will be schooshing down shrinking glaciers in the Rockies. Around here (Maryland), more prosaic activities are planned, with gatherings, sign-wavings, and hikes of like-minded folks hoping to draw at least a little media attention. The closest group event to me is 20 miles away, though, and it doesn’t seem quite right to drive my minivan (yes, as classic soccer mom, I drive a minivan) to a rally against energy waste. Since other commitments (soccer included) kept me from organizing my own local rally, I needed a Plan B.

So of course I thought of a personal read-a-thon. At first, it seemed ideal to immerse myself in global warming treatises for the day, with the plan to blog about the best next week. After all, activism through books is a major goal of mine. But upon reflection, sitting along doesn’t seem the right way to support the “Step It Up” campaign. The Administration’s been cowering behind the “We need more research” bush long enough. The jury is in. We can quibble over the details of how fast, where, and who, but global warming is happening. What’s a reading activist to do to help stop it?

I know what we’ll do tomorrow. My kids and I will walk to our local park, wearing our “Save the Arctic” t-shirts, and mingle with other families at a planned pet festival. Our message will be quiet and more visual than verbal (wolves and polar bears on the shirts), but maybe it will remind a few people we pass that global warming is part of our regular life, even on Saturdays at the park. More likely, it will remind me to make time in my busy (reading) life to step up and take action. As I walk, I’ll be thinking of more powerful steps my family and I can take, ways to reach out and reach in. My plan for our Climate Action is too small to be satisfying, but maybe that's a good thing. On Sunday, I hope to have the beginnings of a new plan to do more than just read or write. I hope you’ll join me Saturday and beyond.

And if you need more information about the campaign and its founder, Bill McKibben, check out an interview with him at World Changing Magazine. McKibben published the first popular book about global warming The End of Nature in 1989, and initiated the Step It Up campaign just months ago in Vermont. If you insist on reading rather than rallying on Saturday, or are coordinated enough to read while rallying, The End of Nature might be the book to get you started.

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