It’s a wonderful relief that in a little more than six weeks Donald Trump will be our ex-president. Joe Biden’s victory gives us a chance to reduce the peril we face from runaway climate change. That’s something to celebrate!
But a presidency in which climate progress is possible will challenge us to actually make it happen. The first hurdle is the battle in Georgia for the Senate. A victory for Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff will make climate legislation possible, but will in no way ensure it. A Republican Senate will present strong headwinds against climate action, but there is much a President Biden can do for good, just as Trump did for bad.
So we want to call on you. We want to ask you to pitch in to show that climate activists are willing to work their tails off, and WILL be heard.
It’s not just Republicans blocking climate action. California, dominated by Democrats, has a reputation as a global leader on the climate. Yet even the state recognizes that our Cap and Trade carbon policy isn’t very effective at bringing down emissions, and does nothing to cut pollution in poor neighborhoods that are often the hardest hit by climate change. But legislators wouldn’t even pass a bill this year (AB 345) to keep oil and gas drilling a safe distance from schools, homes, or hospitals.
It isn’t as if they have a plan, or some special knowledge that an oil well next door to your house is actually safe. The agency that regulates California’s oil and gas industry violated its own rules by approving hundreds of new wells in 2019 without review.
Sierra Club California researched oil and gas donations to 30 key California Democrats (check it out here). What they found — more than two million dollars going from oil and gas titans directly to Democrat legislators and the governor — goes a long way to explain why important bills like AB 345 went nowhere.
When you read that report your blood might boil. The treatment for that condition is to get active with computer, paper and pen, or just your own voice. 350 Humboldt provides the cure at no charge, other than a little of your time.
Choose from our virtual treatments. You can soothe that boiling blood by Zooming into the Sunday evening letter writing party, hosted each week at 7 PM by 350 Humboldt’s Dan Chandler. His prescriptions include things like signing a petition to Gov. Newsom to stop adding oil and gas wells in the heavily polluted San Joaquin Valley. Or, if you move fast (deadline 11:59 PM tonight), you can send a quick email to California’s Air Resources Board. Tell them to approve “Alternative 1” of their options to limit commercial refrigerants — which warm the climate thousands of times faster than CO2.
There are local climate happenings, also, and here’s an opportunity to literally put your voice into action. Many cities across the state are banning or limiting natural gas in new buildings. Arcata may soon join the ranks of those future-thinking places, but every city in the county — and Humboldt County itself, which approves many buildings each year — has council meetings that accept public comment, usually near the start. Remind them that natural gas is a major contributor to climate change and banning it in new buildings is one of the best ways local cities can begin to reduce their carbon footprints. (Reply to this message if you’d like more information about this.)
We’re hoping for great things in the coming year, and in the upcoming presidency of Joe Biden. But we know they won’t simply fall in our laps. In the meantime, my blood still simmers. How’s yours?
Pat Carr for 350 Humboldt