Tuesday, October 12, 2010

10/10/10 - ain’t no power like the power of the people

10/10/10 - ain’t no power like the power of the people

October 11th, 2010 11:37 am ET | R.J. Peters

On October 10th, 2010 in approximately 188 countries with over 6,000 events world-wide, young and old alike gathered in solidarity to demand Comprehensive Climate Legislation on this day. Why?

Because over three years ago leading climatologists observed rapid ice melt in the Arctic and other signs of climate change. A series of studies were instituted as a result. These studies showed [the planet faced both human and natural disaster if atmospheric concentrations of CO2 remained above 350 ppm (parts per million)].[1] We are currently up to 393 ppm according to a couple of Greenpeace representatives. And we do seem to be having more than our fair share of natural disasters this year. Rewind to:

Back in July of 2010, hopes for a comprehensive Climate Bill literally fell apart when Democrats announced they were giving up as the Republicans flat out refused to support any such legislation—and then threatened with a filibuster.

So, fast-forward to October when 350.org along with Greenpeace, 1Sky.org, Top Green Magazine, Oceana.org, Blue Climate Solutions and several independents organized to send a message to Congress.

Enough! It’s time for Climate Legislation. And locally over 50 people gathered on South Miami Beach chanting, “Ain’t no power like the power of the people, ‘cause the power of the people won’t stop.” (Among other chants) And I had an opportunity to speak with several reps; one was Renee Hickman a lead organizer for Greenpeace.

I asked Ms. Hickman the purpose of the event. Her response was immediate. “We’re here today to demand that our politicians, our leaders and candidates get to work protecting people and not polluters.” And how are you going to do that, I asked. She informed me that there would be several photos of this day’s event and the photos would be uploaded to the 350 website to show our feelings and to let the politicians know how we feel about what’s going on.

I’m pretty sure if you visit the 350.org or the Greenpeace website you’ll see those pictures and possibly a petition to send to your congressmen and I strongly urge you to do just that.

So, I then found a couple of reps from Top Green Magazine.

Tony Lopez of Top Green Magazine told me he was there ‘to inform and create consciousness’ regarding the environment. The main goal of Top Green, he informed me, was to ban plastic bags. He went on to tell me plastic bags are not biodegradable, they are photo-degradable. Essentially, that means they don’t break down completely; rather they decompose into smaller polymers over an extended period of time—they never really recycle. And this plastic or polymer debris winds up in our oceans. Once there, this disassociated plastic material is mistaken for Plankton by sea life and wind up being consumed, thereby compromising animal DNA and causing countless types of disease. And we wind up eating these animals. You are what you eat, I thought to myself.

Tony went on to tell me people use plastic bags at a rate of 1 million per minute. He also told me according the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) one ton of plastic bags cost $4000 to recycle—then it’s resold into the market-place for ~ $32. He also said that due to the cost of recycling < .05% actually gets recycled. The rest is simply discarded and wind up in our oceans. And aside from killing sea life, these minute particles of polymer rob O2 from our oceans. This in turn can cause dead zones.

I asked Tony what he’d offer as an alternative and he was quite forthcoming, ‘Biodegradable or reusable bags.’ He and his partner Lisbeth Hernandez receive donations of old clothes in good condition that they in-turn craft into reusable bags. And they employ the elderly to help make these eco-friendly bags. Then, Lisbeth showed me some of the jewelry she makes with plastic, silver and crystals. Pretty nifty I thought. And it’s a different approach, one that works, to conventional recycling.

In the near future, Tony plans to collect 15,000 signatures in order to ban the use of plastic bags in our local stores. If you’d like more information on that upcoming project, you can contact him directly at Top Green Magazine.

So, then I made my way over to one of the Oceana.org reps. Her name is Janna Lafferty. She told me Oceana specifically, out of all the environmental groups, represents our oceans. Statistically broken down that’s about 2% out of 100% of all eco-groups. Oceana was there to support 350.org for a global work party—10/10/10. (see picture) I also made my way over to the campaign organizer for Oceana—Katie Parrish.

Part of the goal, I was told, was to ban off-shore drilling and replace it with off-shore wind. Oceana lobbies our Senators & legislators in favor of wind generation in lieu of off-shore drilling—additionally the creation of green jobs; they get my vote any day. Oceana also wanted to thank Senator Bill Nelson of the 35th district here in Florida for his work in support of the ban on off-shore drilling. Kudos to you Bill.

I had one poignant question for the Oceana organizer. ‘Do you believe the BP Liberty Island Project is an Island or deepwater off-shore drilling?’ She laughed and said, ‘It’s a man-made deepwater drill, yeah, I mean it’s a man-made island, it’s not a real actual island.’ So, I asked, if the oil spills, where’s it going to go? ‘Right into the ocean’ she said with completely serious intensity.

At that point we were asked to form the 10/10/10 logo for a photo—while on the way over, I met a man named Steven Lutz. He’s an executive director with Blue Climate Solutions based out of Washington DC. He was there to advance a new concept called ‘Blue Carbon’. This concept is based on the restoration and conservation of coastal eco-systems—involving mangroves, sea-grasses and salt-water marshlands. These fragile eco-systems store carbon or C02 far more effectively than our terrestrial forests he told me. And from my work with Algae, I can tell you, he’s absolutely right. He went on to tell me 11 senators are also signed on behind the movement, including Bill Nelson of Florida—kudos again Bill.

As I was making my way off the beach, I serendipitously ran into Andrea Cuccaro with 1Sky.org. In a battery of questions I had for her, one she answered that made my heart sink. I asked why she’s here. Her answer? ‘We’re here because our leaders have failed to pass a strong climate change bill.’

Now, I have had a chance to check out the 1sky.org website and they offer many more than viable solutions to our energy needs. 1Sky is diligent about getting attention focused on these alternative solutions.

And I think the future leaders of America were on the beach today, looking after our sand and surf in solidarity, sending a strong and potent message to all parts of the world—that no matter how insignificant their efforts may seem today, tomorrow belongs to those who put forth the effort to protect human heritage.

There comes a time when the patterns of Big Business must end and be replaced by energized young people with sincere and daunting talents emerging to protect and cherish our lands. Such was the case today. And so:

I want to say thank you to the dedicated young men and women who were at the 10/10/10 rally in Miami Beach today. I want to especially thank Renee Hickman of Greenpeace for alerting me to the event.

I rode away as I came on my 99.5% green electric NiZn bike, I couldn’t help but think alternative energy isn’t limited to the machines or methods we employ; it lies primarily in the hearts, souls and minds of the youth we will leave behind. Let’s leave them a clean planet folks. And thank you Bill McKibben of 350.org for sponsoring this event.

Thanks for the plug Peter! -Steven