Noah Brautigam's action

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Dear Mr. Goodstein,

I am a freshman at Middlebury College, and am lucky enough to be in a first year seminar on global warming solutions taught by Professor Jon Isham. I was aware of global warming before arriving at Middlebury College, and I actively worked to raise awareness and find solutions within my community. However, my experience in Mr. Isham’s class this semester has opened my eyes. After studying the science behind climate change more carefully, I now know the urgency of our situation. The fight against global warming is more than just another crusade for environmentalists. It is not a plant that is in danger—it is our planet and our way of life. This is a movement for every citizen of earth to save themselves, their neighbors, their children, and the places that they love.

This is the message that I believe you must work to spread if you expect to achieve your four major goals. An environmental lobby is not sufficient to enact the drastic policy changes demanded by our situation. I think that your grassroots model for 100 days of action is a great idea, and can be extremely effective if it’s carried out in a powerful manner. At this point I don’t think that it is enough to write letters to our president and our congressmen urging them to take action in response to global warming. We must be the initiators of policy change, and to do this we must be authoritative and articulate.

More than that, we need to reconnect to our local communities and friends, as well as our friends nationwide. Sitting in front of a computer screen and cranking out emails is useful and necessary on some level, but I believe that fostering a sense of community—a sense of place—based around carbon neutrality and stewardship of the earth is more important on a human level. It is difficult for people to motivate themselves to fight the devils of trillions of pieces of particulate matter in the atmosphere, but when they are fighting for their local fishing hole, for the autumn foliage in their mountains, and for their children’s health and futures, they will come together and make a difference.

My proposal is one of basic community building and local involvement. The foundation of the idea is people coming together to have fun, eat good food, and add their voices to the multitudes already demanding action from our policymakers in response to global warming. My vision is of one Sunday nationwide when local community leaders organize meeting places in each of their towns—at the local church, the library, the recreation fields, or the high school. Families will be encouraged to leave their cars at home and walk or bike to the meeting. If the town is too spread out then carpooling can also be an option. At the meeting, local business people and food producers will have put together a local foods buffet alongside of displays for renewable energy options for their area. The details can be left to local organizers, who will have a much better feel for their respective communities and know the best way to reach out to them.

Each gathering will be centered around a few “keynote speakers” (local climate activists), who will share their concerns and their hopes for the new administration. They will also introduce a nationwide petition for the carbon cap-and-share economic model that was devised by Peter Barnes. I have become convinced that the only path towards carbon neutrality begins with putting a price on carbon, and I believe that Peter Barnes’s method is the most socially and economically feasible thus far. Each petition could begin with the line “We the people of ______, believe that America must be a leader in the fight against global warming…etc.” After the gathering these petitions can be sent directly to President Elect Obama, with copies also being sent to the Congressman “Sam” who you allude to in your document for the first 100 days of action.

United communities will prove to be more and more important in the coming years of high fuel prices and reduced travel. The combined voices of thousands of communities from around the nation calling for the same action—and doing so from a place of involvement and joy—will be extraordinarily powerful. This event will be a local building block for PowerShift, and will serve to give it a solid grassroots foundation.

Because this idea is so community oriented, it will also serve to spread the organization workload over many backs. All that your organization would have to do to make this day happen would be to contact local activists nationwide through already existing mailing lists, give them the framework of the idea, and supply them with suggestions and support. The challenge of global warming requires us to think outside of our paradigm for political and environmental action. It demands that we come together from all walks of life to stand unified. We must be more proactive and insistent than any grassroots movement has ever been in order to succeed.

Sincerely, Noah Brautigam