Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Northern California mobilizes for climate action as Paris talks near

People across Northern California are determined to voice their demand that the U.S. government do the right thing at the COP21 talks beginning in Paris later this month. "COP21" is the 21st annual meeting of the "Conference of Parties" under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Since early summer I've been working with a diverse coalition of labor, social justice, environmental, and faith groups under an umbrella we call the Northern California Climate Mobilization. We're organizing a march and rally in Oakland, California on Saturday November 21st, and we're expecting a tremendous crowd. Details on the web site if you're local to the Bay Area; RSVP on NCCM's Facebook event page.

What do we want? Here are the highlights from the mobilization's Points of Unity:
Challenging climate catastrophe
the Northern California Climate Mobilization demands

A global agreement to implement
dramatic and rapid reduction in
global warming pollution

Keep fossil fuels in the ground!
100% clean, safe, renewable energy!

End all fracking, tar sands mining and pipelines, offshore drilling, arctic drilling.
Stop expansion of the extractive economy. Wind, solar, geothermal power now.
No coal exports or crude-by-rail bomb trains in Northern California.

A dramatic and rapid reduction in global warming pollution is necessary to create:
  • A world united to repair the ravages of climate change
  • A world with an economy that works for people and the planet
  • A demilitarized world with peace and social justice for everyone; where Black Lives Matter; with justice and respect for immigrants and migrants; where good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities belong to all
350.org is calling for a Global Climate March on the weekend directly preceding the start of COP21, Thanksgiving weekend in the U.S. -- and people across the world are mobilizing. (Because we judged it would be harder to turn out a crowd on Thanksgiving weekend, NCCM decided to hold our mobilization the weekend before, on November 21st).

At this stage of global dialog, not to mention current global awareness of climate change induced or inflected crises -- from California's drought to Syria's war and its associated, harrowing migrant crisis -- it's hardly necessary to recap the fact that humans have induced a set of existential threats to our entire biosphere.

But it's probably worth pointing out some of the circumstances and threats that make climate change and climate justice local issues for the Bay Area (cribbing liberally here from a set of talking points that NCCM is developing):

  • The Bay Area, with the rest of California, is enmeshed in a four year drought. Our air has been smoky all summer from wildfires burning through our treasured wilderness, farms lie fallow for lack of water, residents are radically conserving at home (this last is not a bad thing, but its necessity is noteworthy).
  • El NiƱo conditions may relieve the drought by the end of the coming winter, but warming water and storms have already begun to wreak havoc on our offshore ecosystems: dead whales and emaciated seal pups are washing up on our beaches in unprecedented numbers. Untold damage is being done to our fisheries. On October 15th, a "1,000 year rainfall event" dumped torrents of rain on Southern California in an hour, causing a mudslide over Highway 5 (the principal north/south route along the entire west coast of the U.S.) that closed the interstate for 45 miles of its critical length.
  • Transport of volatile crude oil on "bomb trains" to refineries in Richmond California, and a local developer's attempt to railroad the City of Oakland into allowing transport of dirty coal from Utah through Oakland's port, endangers every family who lives in neighborhoods bordering rail routes.
  • We in the Bay Area have families in the Philippines, Pakistan, Africa, Syria, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, New York, Alaska, and other places where extreme weather events are taking lives and displacing people today. Climate change and climate justice are global issues, and everyone is impacted, everywhere.

And so the Bay Area is turning out on November 21st, as COP21 approaches. What's mobilizing where you live?

Related posts on One Finger Typing:
Pope Francis' environmental encyclical in four core themes
Oil trains, coal trains: extractive economics vs. people and place
The fossil fuel industry and the free sump that is our atmosphere: Zing!

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