Today marks the start of the 21st yearly session of the Conference of the Parties to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) called COP21. That's TWENTY-ONE years of talking about what to do about catastrophic climate change. Meanwhile, catastrophic climate change has not stopped to wait for us puny humans to decide what to do.
* Sea levels are rising faster than predicted in some parts of the world
* Artic ice levels have dropped dramatically
* This is the hottest year ever
Today's marches around the world are calls for world leaders to get it together and make an agreement that will actually start to turn things around.
That's easy - we march and wave signs. They change.
But what if we have to do more than march and wave signs? What if they can't change?
In the US, there is not one Republican presidential candidate who will even concede that human's are causing the climate to change let alone who has a plan to address it. Republicans, who have majorities in both the House and the Senate, have spent much of their last year tryig to defeat even the modest measures President Obama has taken in Executive Orders. Their current target is the Clean Power Plan. Electing a Republican president in 2016 could unravel everything. So, even if the Obama administration agrees to strong and reasonable goals in Paris, there's no guarantee they will ever come to fruition.
And, then you have the TPP, which Naomi Klein has called, "A grave threat to climate action." The same "green" President Obama working to curb greenhouse gas emissions through the Clean Power Plan is pushing for the Trans Pacific Partnership, which, according to a multitude of environmental groups, will dramatically threaten our ability to combate climate change? Where are the leaders?
Front runner Democratic party candidate Hillary Clinton has not agreed to 350.org's candidate pledge to not take money from fossil fuel interests and in fact her campaign in, according to the environmental blog DailyGrist, "raking in money" from them. Only candidates Bernie Sanders (who is the best candidate on climate change issues according to Climate Hawks Vote), Martin O'Malley, and Green candidate, Dr. Jill Stein have signed that pledge.
So, what if this leaves things to the people? Who is working to make a real difference and how can we join together to amplify our voices and efforts? (And it's going to take more than "liking" a group's Facebook page, too).
National groups are listed at the website of the CLIMATE ACTION NETWORK.
Local groups working on climate change related issues (please email to have your group added to this list):
Citizens Climate Lobby (La Crosse) (email for info) is having it's monthly meeting on Wednesday, December 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist building, 401 West Avenue South.
Coulee Region Sierra Club meets monthly and is connected to the state's John Muir chapter which is working on several climate related initiatives, including its Solar Homes project and Beyond Coal to Clean Energy initiatives.
Coulee Partners for Sustainability - "promoting lifestyles that are environmentally sustainable, economically viable, and socially just."
Friends of the La Crosse Marsh - working to maintain the health of this precious and unique resource and protect it from encroachment and degradation by rail lines, highways, and other endeavors.
Hillview Urban Agriculture Center - "creat[ing] a healthy community by transforming our Coulee Region food system to one that is sustainable, local and accessible."
Houston County Government Accountability Project - This group began with efforts to oppose the wholesale exporting of Houson County via unlimited frac sand mines but has evolve to work on changing and improving local government by mobilizing public outrage, anger and activism.
Frac sand mining issues in Wisconsin, including Trempealeau County, are covered by the Save the Hills Alliance and documented in the blog, Contested Landscapes (this article is particularly good and documenting how local politicians are won over to frac activities and what citizens opposed to frac sand mines are up against).
La Crosse Area Transit Advocates (LATA) - a NEW group FORMING NOW (email if interested) to support the La Crosse Municipal Transit Utility and advocate for more and better public transportation options and service the city and the region. We will affiliate with the Wisconsin Transit Riders Alliance and work with city, county and regional groups and departments. Organizational meeting will be in January 2016.
Livable Neighborhoods (La Crosse) - " to improve and promote the livability of all neighborhoods in the La Crosse area."