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Comment: Taking Back Responsibility

Local communities push ahead on climate action.

‘The truth about the nature and the power of the elite is not some secret which men of affairs know but will not tell. … No matter how great their actual power, they tend to be less acutely aware of it than of the resistance of others to its use.’ C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite

Sometimes our prospects for the future certainly appear bleak, especially when those with access to power refuse to take action on some of the most pressing crises facing humanity today.

Many of them have far too much to benefit from the status quo to care about looming catastrophes, however dire they may be.

This is the painful, yet altogether plain and simple truth why it is such an immense challenge to change or improve the situation, no matter which figurehead is apparently in charge and no matter how terrifying the wildfires get.

Rich and influential characters love to gather for beef steak dinners at illustrious hotels across the world to discuss how “concerned” they are about the green movement and the environment, before taking their private jets to fly back to the oil, arms and big agro companies they oversee that directly destroy our ecosystems.

The hypocrisy pouring forth from the mouths of the greatest purveyors of destruction and violence in the world is not only alarming, it’s also just kind of wearisome.

Well, what if we start looking at this situation a different way?

What we stop waiting for corporations to finally do the right thing?

What if we start building movements from the ground up and forge ahead without waiting around for those who continue to hesitate or idle around while the planet burns?

Bottom-Up Beats Race Down

Recently, some relatively good news came out of California. In August, a slate of climate proposals, which lawmakers had been pushing unsuccessfully for years, were finally made a reality by a slew of activists, youths and civil society leaders who petitioned, marched and protested nonstop to have their voices heard.

After years of raging wildfires, droughts and water-supply issues, this summer might have just been the worst on recordfor those in the Golden State, and it was made official that the time had come to act.

The California government website are proudly calling it a ‘scoping plan.’ In explanation they state that:

‘Local governments have a role to play in helping the State achieve its climate goals. California’s Climate Change Scoping Plan encourages local governments to adopt goals to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 15% below 1990’s levels by 2020, 40% below 1990 levels in 2030, and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. The 2050 target is roughly equivalent to a per capita annual emission target of less than 2 metric tons of CO2e.

Ok, this may not bring about the monumental course-correction we all desperately crave, but at least it’s a start —a little shimmy in the right direction — and the mere hint of searching for solutions on a state, as opposed to a federal level, speaks volumes about how the narrative and the zeitgeist around the climate crisis is shifting.

Lifting Up Communities

California’s commitment to take charge of their own climate policies is not only beneficial for local residents, but also proves to small communities and municipal councils around the world that they too can begin this historic fight.

If things cannot be changed from the top, let’s flip the switch and force change from the bottom. We all know that there is always more than one way to get a job done.

Encouraging the populace to place pressure on state and local leaders will also empower communities to tackle, head on, other matters they care about too, such as wealth inequality, clean water, employment and housing opportunities — the list goes on and on.

I am convinced that people around the globe would only relish the chance to have a say in how their city could improve and how to finally begin to face the enormous issue of climate change without the fear and without the sense of hopelessness that currently surrounds the topic.

Let’s cut out the apathy, cease the lethargy and demonstrate the strength of our determination through the noble integrity of our bottom-up climate initiatives.

This is our world. These are our children. It’s time we start rescuing their future.


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