“I’m too busy.”
“It’s too cold.”
“I’d have to put my tooth in.”
Those were just a few of the excuses that met my invitations to Saturday’s Step It Up anti-global warming rally. Locally, ours was touted as a gathering of the One Sky movement, an initiative that has identified specific, achievable, science-based priorities for climate change activism—e.g., five million green jobs by 2015, cut carbon 30% by 2020, and no new coal fired power plants. Saturday’s rallies around the nation asked leaders, including the myriad presidential candidates, to step up and commit to these tangible goals essential for saving the planet. Hillary, Mitt, and their ilk were conspicuously absent from the modest event near me, and I haven’t heard yet if they showed up elsewhere. While I’ve not been glued to tv or radio, it seems that most reporters were away covering the crisis du jour—or maybe just wanted to relax at home with their teeth out.
But at least some hometown politicians were there. One talked about how refreshing it feels to be for things, such as alternative energy, mass transit, and simple living, rather than endlessly against oil drilling, highway construction, mindless consumption and the like. ( The positive framing of the issue was the reason I felt comfortable bringing my eight year old with me when other family members backed out. ) But the most inspiring words for me came from a state legislator, one of the greenest pols in Maryland. Liz Bobo captured my attention by praising writer/organizer Bill McKibben, calling the author of The End of Nature a prophet of the climate change crisis (though she didn’t mention his new book, Fight Global Warming Now, a resource-packed guide for individuals and communities).
Then, Bobo talked about a recent poetry reading by Jane Hirshfeld, author of After and other prize-winning collections. Hirshfield’s poems speak of nature’s resilience as well as beauty, offering hope in the face of Al Gore’s most alarming statistics. And her imagery, of the wild animal world watching, perhaps in judgment, as humans despoil our shared planet, resonates with Ms. Bobo as she argues with colleagues in the State House and addresses often-meager crowds of supporters. How grand that a poet’s work strengthens a legislator’s; how fine that together we can achieve the vision of One Sky--if only we decide that we must.