The Norman Transcript

November 20, 2013

Finding solutions to climate change

By Betty Robbins
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Earth scientists have reported abundant evidence on our changing climate.

The fifth report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for 2013 includes research from 209 leading authors, plus 600 contributing authors from 39 nations. They conclude, “Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reduction of green house gases.”

That claim is not news to anyone. Hearing about solutions is. The same body of world scientists who convened for the fifth report will convene in 2014 to consider “mitigation of climate change.” They will meet in Japan in March, Germany in April and Denmark in October next year. The reports coming from those sessions will be important to every citizen and every country on earth.

We also can consider the actions we are taking now and what more we need to do to stem global warming and to preserve as much as we can of life on the planet. As individuals, we might follow the message of the author, poet, farmer and environmentalist Wendell Berry.

In a recent appearance on Bill Moyers and Co, Berry urged listeners to respond to the question “What does the earth require of us?” He thinks of the phenomenon of “the world and our life in it” as “conditional gifts.” He challenges us all to be full citizens of the earth and to live in cooperation with the space we occupy.

We know there are people working to ameliorate the devastation of warming and who want to preserve the planet and its resources for future generations, just as there are those with little to no regard for the environment who callously plunder those same resources. We are grateful for those proactive citizens who write their representatives to pass environmental legislation, such as the revenue neutral carbon tax incentive.

A recent article in the New York Times identifies another possible source of environmental support that might be mined more fully than politicians. There is a segment of the top 1 percent of the population who give to causes and support healthy, innovative ideas. The article calls that demographic “philanthrocapitalists.” We know who those people and foundations are. We hear the names daily on the TV news.

The article raises an important question for the general population, and not just those grant writers who work to raise money for their organizations.

The article suggests a new strategy to bypass recalcitrant politicians and appeal to those earners in the top 1 percent to fund action for exploring renewable energy, for preserving the oceans, for replenishing deforested areas and for fostering healthy food production, among only a few ways to work with the earth. It is time to consider appealing directly to those philanthrocapitalists.

Berry calls such action “leadership from the bottom.” We can join together to create that voice for future generations and for the planet.

Betty Robbins is a member of Climate Change Lobby of Norman.

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