(NOTE: A version of this post was earlier published in the Huffington Post)
Yesterday’s election was frightening in many respects. But from an ecological perspective, it is an unimaginable disaster. The United States had recently signed on to the Paris agreement ― the successor conference to which is occurring in Marrakesh as I write — and President Obama recently signed the important agreement on the use of HFCs with President Xi of China. The new president of the U.S. has promised to reverse these agreements, deepen our dependence on coal mining, increase oil drilling in the Arctic, and open the way for environmentally destructive methods such as fracking.
One of the world’s most effective environmental organizations, 350.org, is normally neutral on candidates. The environmental devastation that would follow from a Trump presidency is so great that even 350.org joined the battle to defeat the Trump campaign.
For people who care about the future of the planet and who pay even passing attention to science, last night was a devastating defeat. We believe that, decades from today, people will look back on this election as the moment when the global community may have lost its (already slim) chance to prevent run-away global warming.
Take a deep breath.
Now let’s roll up our sleeves and get going.
There are at least three crucial things we have to do, and we have only four years to get them done:
- We need to redouble our efforts to communicate the planet’s actual situation to voters in North America. We need to show that climate change is a bigger threat to jobs, prosperity, and a secure future than any other threat humanity faces. By focusing on the positive examples of change that are springing up around us — what we call EcoLabs — we bring attention to the first positive steps in the transition to a sustainable civilization.
- We need to walk our talk ― to become positive examples of sustainable modes of living on this planet. A serious environmental movement begins at the grassroots; it begins with people whose actions inspire others.
- Finally, if we cannot influence our own government in the right directions, we need to increase our international focus. It’s now crucial that we help strengthen serious ecological movements around the world. Last night shattered the dream that the United States would take leadership in the move toward an ecological civilization, at least for the next four years. By contrast, in Europe, in Asia, and around the planet, people and organizations are actually taking decisive steps … as individuals, organizations, NGOs, and governments. Even if we cannot bring about change in our own country, we can support the efforts of the people who can make and are making a difference.
At EcoCiv, we are committed to investing mind, soul, spirit — and our resources as well — to assist in the transition to an ecological civilization. Please fight discouragement and despair, the desire to give up now. Our work has only become more important. It calls for a greater investment of time and money than ever before.
Please join us with renewed energy in the fight for the planet. We may or may not be able to avoid an environmental catastrophe and the collapse of economies and social structures that it would bring. Yet in the fight for a deep transformation of society, we can help humanity prepare for ecological ways of living on this earth after the crisis. And if we are successful, perhaps we will avoid the collapse after all.
Philip Clayton, President
Toward Ecological Civilization