Step It Up this Saturday, April 14

//stepitup07.org April 14 is the National Day of Climate Action in the United States, otherwise known as Step It Up 2007. Unlike many “days of action,” Step It Up is not a massive march on Washington. Instead, it is hundreds of small, creative rallies across the nation. When I last checked, there were 1,349 events planned, with at least one in every state. The slogan of the action is “Step it up, Congress! Cut Carbon 80% by 2050.”

The official response of the United States to the threat of Climate Change (or, perhaps more accurately, Climate Crisis or Climate Chaos) has been negligent at best. Although the Clinton Administration signed the Kyoto Protocol, the treaty was never ratified by the Senate. The Bush Administration, in what will be remembered as one of their worst legacies (among quite a few horrible legacies: Iraq, torture, incarceration without charges, stomping on the Constitution, gutting environmental regulations), has basically done nothing. And when they do something, it is usually something nefarious like censoring scientists or corrupting scientific reports. States, in their traditional role of the “laboratory of democracy,” are starting to act, with California passing a historic law to limit climate changing emissions (signed by a Republican governor) and Northeastern states forming the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to cooperatively reduce their emissions. But it will take a lot of people power to get the U.S. Congress to do something on a national scale.

Author and teacher Bill McKibben got fed up with the inaction in Washington and wanted to do something to change the situation. The idea of a massive march occurred to him, of course, but he wanted a different kind of protest:

…we wanted Congress to know that this came from people in their districts who consider this a top priority issue … The picture in my mind’s eye from the beginning of this, has been that at the end of the day on April 14th there’re going to be pictures pouring in from these hundreds upon hundreds of rallies. We’ll have a kinda cascade of images of people showing their concern in large numbers, you know, when it’s all said and done. But from every corner of this country and those images will somehow make this whole day more than the sum of its parts. I mean it’ll do a lot of good, just community by community, to educate congresspeople. But it is also going to have a kinda national and, and long lived presence on the Web and on all the other ways that we can figure out how to utilize those beautiful pictures. (from Living on Earth)

With over 1,300 events across the country, there is probably one near you. And since this is the Ethicurean, I should point out some of the food- and farm-related events. Three events are planned for farmers markets (Bloomington, IN; Middlebury, VT; and Westford, MA). An event in Boston is concentrating on urban farming — community gardens, urban farms, and rooftop gardens — with an all-day conference. Caretaker Farm is having a Rock the Farm rally in South Williamstown, MA, with demonstrations of energy-efficient technology and a morning of preparing the land for the next farming season. Other events are happening at farms in Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, Illinois, and Nebraska.

It’s not too late to join an event. Visit Step It Up 2007 to learn more, find an event, and sign up.

More McKibben: You can read Bill McKibben’s Dispatches at Grist, or hear more at KQED Forum and Living On Earth.

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