As we begin to experience heat waves, prolonged drought, rising seas, and as natural systems begin to crash, we will see horrible effects ripple throughout our interconnected world. When understood this way, it is clear that climate change will directly impact public health, poverty, economics, national security, and food and water security. Environmentalism is seen as a small special interest, within a spectrum of special interests. Global warming transcends environmentalism.
The best way to achieve this is to put a price on carbon. This is only possible with broad public education and support. Clear evidence of support must be seen before the end of 2015—meaning, citizens must grasp the danger of our carbon path and begin to respond accordingly. To achieve this, CCBI and the Association for the Tree of Life are the organizations calling for and catalyzing large-scale media, education, outreach, and grassroots mobilization efforts. The following are key aspects of our unique, multi-pronged strategy:
And while many organizations engage in climate education, climate news, and grassroots organizing—nothing is being done on the pervasive scale that we propose, and certainly not as part of a unified and coordinated effort that will be far more effective than the sum of disparate actions. Achieving what we propose will require a diverse alignment of grassroots constituencies, going beyond climate and environmental groups.
ATL is the catalyzing organization to bring these elements together within the multi-pronged effort, as described in Section 4.2. We invite organizations to partner with us in ways that suit their missions.
Additionally, we have committed partners who worked to successfully defeat Proposition 23 in California, as well those who conducted a successful nationwide grassroots movement which achieved breakthrough environmental legislation at a massive scale. We have committed partners involved in the integration of climate ethics into faith denominations at the national level.
Finally, we are working with the most acclaimed scientists and energy experts to clearly explain what is at stake and what we must do to address the crisis.
In particular, the San Francisco Bay Area and southern California have the resources and talent to help cut through the cultural inertia and powerful forces that seek to keep us addicted to fossil fuels and engage the public in the type of movement required to transform our system.
Q4.7: Why so much emphasis on philanthropy? Isn’t it then a top-down effort?
A: There are several reasons for the deep support and engagement of philanthropy:
A number of foundations have poured massive funding into efforts to confuse the public and to fight change, tipping the balance in their favor. More than financial support, the active participation of philanthropy is needed.
Philanthropy is the crucial first responder here, given its cultural credibility, legitimacy, and its extensive financial resources. It must actively engage scientists, movement leaders, key societal leaders, and warn the public. Since our elected leaders have largely been silent on the looming climate crisis, philanthropy and influencers must step into this “Paul Revere” role.
The educational curriculum must be engaging, riveting, inspiring, and galvanizing
to action. Photo: TEDx, Brown University / flickr
Philanthropy’s mission is to care for humanity, and at its best, it has led in social innovation.
Large-scale social change efforts need significant funding. In order to execute this effort, the support of substantial financial resources is required.
This strategy was conceived and developed by the grassroots. Funding makes the education, organizing, and mobilizing possible.
Issue 5: Your plan calls for a massive public awareness effort to basically alarm-educate-motivate. An Inconvenient Truth followed the same model, yet it failed to change the consciousness of working class voters, and its impact on college-educated voters faded after a few years.
Q5.1: Since citing alarming scientific facts does NOT effectively stir the public, how will you elicit a significant response?
A: There are a couple of issues here. First, An Inconvenient Truth never called for a carbon price, nor did it organize citizens for a collective response once they understood the risks. Our approach is to explain in close personal settings the reality of our current disaster pathway, and then to organize citizens for collective action. To “motivate” is not enough—more accurately, our model is to alarm-educate-motivate-mobilize.
A well organized “climate doubt and disinformation campaign” measurably eroded the public’s concern through TV and radio ads, faux-science conferences, think tanks, news outlets, interviews, books, articles, rallies and social media—creating the sense that the science is unsettled. Additionally, “elite cues” from leadership have been absent—to the extent that climate was not even discussed during the 2012 presidential election.
Photo: Allen Johnson
Second, scientific facts will stir the public in the right context—that is, with face-to-face personal engagement, delivered by respected facilitators, in easily understood terms, and by connecting the facts with people’s own experiences, values, and sense of moral agency.
Realize that the public has had little exposure to accurate scientific facts. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent to perpetuate climate confusion. Therefore, the presentation of the reality must be an order of magnitude larger, more comprehensive, and saturating. Any realization of a “Pearl Harbor moment” must be created through consistent and sustained effort. Citizens must learn it in a personalized setting, with several sessions of instruction and discussion. Research shows that a majority of Americans can see that they are uninformed about the climate crisis. Seventy-five percent want to know more and 68 percent would welcome a national climate education program.
Also remember that at crucial times, transformative leaders and institutions have shifted the culture’s view dramatically, by telling the truth with conviction and eloquence. Currently, with little accurate media coverage or mention by our leaders, the climate crisis is literally out of sight and out of mind. Therefore, philanthropy and influencers must now fill this role (see 4.7).
Q5.2: And, how can people be motivated to take action and to change in the time and at the scale required?
A: First, we must reach far beyond the current choir to validate, motivate, and mobilize the tens of millions who are worried but don’t know what to do. Most people cannot now envision any meaningful response beyond recycling or other small scale, individual actions. Even the most alarmed can see few effective options. They have never been properly organized to collectively demand policies and other systemic changes. The power of effective social movements to catalyze large-scale change must be conveyed, and citizens must be provided with options for taking collective action.
Second, when American society has faced similar challenges requiring all-out effort and cooperation, we have responded rather than given up. Several crucial points provide the plausibility of rapid mobilization:
President Franklin Delanor Roosevelt, December 8, 1941, the day after the Pearl Harbor attack.
“‘Happy talk’ was not the approach taken by Lincoln confronting slavery, or by Franklin Roosevelt facing the grim realities after Pearl Harbor. Nor was it Winston Churchill’s message to the British people at the height of the London blitz. Instead, in these and similar cases, transformative leaders told the truth honestly, with conviction and eloquence.”
—David Orr, “Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse”
The US mobilized nearly overnight for World War II. Just weeks after the Pearl Harbor attack, the US stopped automobile production for almost three years and built planes and tanks instead. We could do the same with wind turbines and solar systems. We can mobilize and demonstrate this same kind of social alignment and mutual cooperation.
Humans can rise above fear to respond. Many in the climate movement mistakenly believe that people would panic, become paralyzed, or fall into depressive resignation if they understood the looming threat of climate chaos. The widespread notion that people panic in disaster situations is not corroborated by experience. Studies of behavior in disaster situations reveal that humans behave cooperatively—even with extraordinary teamwork and collaboration—when given accurate information and constructive options. So awakening citizens to the danger and providing an effective course of action will most likely result in constructive cooperation and mobilization to avert catastrophe.
Citizens could be awakened to properly respond when philanthropy catalyzes the process. Philanthropy can explain why we must respond immediately and then call for a full societal mobilization to phase out fossil fuels. We must first engage philanthropy to act at scale and to fund the breakthrough media, education, and grassroots efforts, as outlined above.
It only takes a tiny minority to catalyze dramatic cultural change. Research finds that transformation requires the active engagement of only 3.5% of citizens. We only need to activate those most concerned about global warming—we do not need to persuade those in denial. Alone we cannot make a difference, but through an organized, committed, and strategic movement comprised of a small minority of the population, positive transformation and policy changes can quickly result.
Earth Day march, 1970, Cleveland State University. The first Earth Day brought out one in ten Americans to call for reforms. Roughly 1500 colleges and 10,000 schools organized teach-ins. Tens of thousands organized local events such as parades, demonstrations and protests. As the result, Republicans and Democrats together passed a portfolio of landmark environmental policies during the Republican administrations of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.
Photo: Van Dillard
Republican President Nixon at William Ruckelshaus’s swear-in as EPA chief, December 4, 1970. After the First Earth Day, in that November’s elections a “Dirty Dozen” in Congress with terrible environmental records was targeted. Seven of the twelve were voted out, including the powerful Chairman of the House Public Works Committee, George Fallon. Despite furious opposition from special interests, the Senate version of the 1970 Clean Air Act, authored by Senator Edmund Muskie, passed unanimously. The House later adopted it on a voice vote. Later that same year, the Environmental Protection Agency was created. What had been considered politically impossible was quickly achieved. Over the next ten years, 23 environmental laws were signed.
Photo: NARA, US EPA
Issue 6: CCBI calls for a price on carbon, which requires an act of Congress. The US Congress can’t get much of anything done—even the seemingly easy stuff.
Q6.1: How will you get something past Congress when recently about 90% of the American public supported strengthening of gun control laws, yet nothing happened?
A: The two issues are fundamentally different. The scale of the climate crisis is magnitudes greater. Everyone worldwide will be impacted directly by climate change. Major disruptions will cut across every country—impacting poverty, economics, public health, national security, and food and water security. Interest in an issue such as gun control is minor compared to this imminent crisis.
We will make the case in an unmistakably personal and visceral way. The US must mobilize as it did during World War II, with the same speed and immediacy. Another mobilization analogy is the First Earth Day in 1970. It was launched not to “get something through Congress. It educated people “all at once” through teach-ins and then due to its influence, Congress passed a suite of major environmental legislation quickly. Politicians became “environmentalists” out of political expediency.
As with the first Earth Day, we realize we can do nothing without the people. Before we engage with Congress, we must educate and mobilize the public.
Q6.2: What is the plan for mustering a Congressional majority for a carbon tax?
A: The policy change can happen despite the political deadlock and the massive influence of the fossil fuel industry. Our political strategies for achieving a carbon price:
Galvanize and organize broad public support. Congress follows the public. Once the public understands what must be done, by when, and why—change can quickly happen. A price on carbon is a natural by-product of public understanding, motivation, and organizing.
Activate and align the business community to send a clear message about the need for the pricing of global warming pollution and other policy measures. Growing numbers of businesses, large and small, are increasingly concerned about climate change’s risk to their bottom line.
Activate and align faith communities for climate advocacy. Congregations can play pivotal roles in hosting moral conversations and public classes in their social halls, and activating their members. Activate and align communities of color for climate advocacy. Latino, African American, and Asian American groups played a pivotal role in the 2010 California’s “No on Prop 23” success.
Activate and align communities of color for climate advocacy. Latino, African American, and Asian American groups played a pivotal role in the 2010 California’s “No on Prop 23” success.
Connect with key leaders and influencers to reach out to key policy makers and to engage further political support by activating their networks.
Issue 7: There are already hundreds or thousands of climate change organizations.
Q7.1: Is it necessary to establish yet another organization with all the associated overhead and infrastructure? Why not just create a new program under the umbrella of an existing organization, to put donors’ dollars to maximum effect?
A: We believe donor dollars are best used in addressing the underlying causes, and not just the symptoms, in order to make the needed change. We welcome the opportunity to partner with other organizations that focus on causes (see 4.2) and embrace the principle stabilization actions we put forward (see 2.2). Does it make sense to put more money into existing efforts that have yet to slow emissions because they are not focused on the central issue and do not engage citizens and resources at the needed scale?
The Cowboy Indian Alliance at the Reject and Protect Rally, Washington, DC, April 2014.
Photo: Mary Anne Andrei, RejectAndProtect.org
Q7.2: How can you unite all these different groups?
A: Winning any new push for national carbon legislation will require diverse coalitions of grassroots constituencies, as with California’s No on 23. Broad coalitions build power and convey that they represent Americans’ concerns.
The effort will be comprised of a coalition of many grassroots and national organizations, coordinated and supported by a coalition staff that continually keeps the movement on message. Participating groups agree to several Principle Actions for climate stabilization (2.2). These principles, along with the overarching grand strategy and national coordination, align and focus the many groups on the central goals, especially the carbon policy.
Without this sort of alignment and entrainment, the effort might disintegrate into a score of competing cacophonies. Yet local groups do have autonomy in how they fulfill the effort’s objectives. The effort is both top-down and bottom-up—operating fully at both the local and national levels. Neither level works without the other.
A good analogy of structure and approach might be President Obama’s 2012 campaign. Its direction, coordination, and consistency were promulgated through the appropriate management, advisors, communications, field organizers, volunteer coordinators, and much more. The main point here is that the climate movement—like the Obama presidential campaigns—should have a well-coordinated leadership, disciplined messaging, quick and efficient information flow, relevant departments, closely cooperating local and regional groups, and similar elements of a successful national campaign. These examples and many more demonstrate that it can be done.
Issue 8: I’ve never heard of CCBI. Tell me about yourselves.
Q8.1: Who are you and how can you get this huge effort accomplished?
A: Our team has a track record of delivering results on climate change campaigns and national environmental legislation.
Michael C. Mielke (Mike), Executive Director, CCBI: Mike is an expert environmental policy advocate, coalition builder and program manager. Mike has extensive experience in conceptualizing partnerships that engage the public and key influencers to address some of the most pressing environmental and community development challenges. He is sought after as a speaker and for engagement on top-level policy matters in the areas of climate change, water, corporate sustainability, and the politics of environmental policy.
Mike lives in Silicon Valley, and has worked with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group for the past six years. As Vice President for Environmental Programs and Policy, Mike has helped conceptualize, design and gain passage of laws and has implemented policies and programs in cooperation with leading technology corporations, environmental NGOs and legislators to improve the quality of life and the environment, and has secured necessary resources to help grow the organization.
Mike has also served on the winning “No on 23” ballot campaign steering committees (see 4.4); launched several non-profit start-ups; empowered communities to meet complex development challenges; and engaged in institutional strengthening and capacity building for local, state and national level government, non-governmental, and community-based organizations. His experience encompasses collaboration with business, non-profits, foundations, local and national governments, and bi- and multilateral donor organizations.
Mike has 19 years experience in the developed and developing world, holding jobs in the non-profit, government, private sectors, with consulting firms, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and the National Estuary Program.
Jean Arnold, Development Director, Association for the Tree of Life: Jean has been a climate and clean energy advocate since 2006. She has raised awareness about energy and climate issues by producing reports, articles, essays, lectures, design of print media, and web development. She has organized community events, actions, and guest speaker engagements. Prior to her co-founding work with ATL and CCBI, she founded and served as coordinator of Post Carbon Salt Lake in 2007. Jean’s focus has shifted from the local to the national level, and towards policy change, system change, and cultural transformation.
Paul Kemp, Consultant to CCBI: Paul Kemp earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in Oceanography and Coastal Sciences from Louisiana State University (LSU) in 1978 and 1986, respectively, while also serving as a NOAA Knauss Fellow in 1984 Senator Ted Kennedy’s office.
In the mid-1980’s, Kemp was a presenting scientist for teach-ins in houses of worship about the need for coastal protection, which generated enormous public support. In 1989, Dr. Kemp co-founded the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL) and became its first Executive Director. CRCL achieved a state constitution amendment within two years, and federal legislation the following year. CRCL remains influential today in driving coastal restoration in Louisiana.
In the mid-1990s, Dr. Kemp returned to LSU as professor with the School of the Coast and Environment, eventually as joint Director of the Natural Systems Modeling Group and Associate of the LSU Hurricane Center. Paul has served on numerous policy-oriented boards and commissions. Especially challenging was Team Louisiana’s forensics investigation of the failures of the New Orleans flood protection system. From 2007-2013, Kemp served as a Vice-President of the National Audubon Society, and secured funding and leadership for a Mississippi River Delta restoration initiative.
Paul currently works as an independent coastal science consultant and serves as an adjunct professor at LSU. He also serves as a Commissioner of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority – East, which oversees more than 300 miles of levees and other flood defense structures.
California Climate Breakthrough Initiative: CCBI is focused on alerting key influencers and decision-makers about the perils of the current carbon status quo path and engaging them in an effort to put a price on carbon in the US, as part of a broader campaign to reduce global emissions. CCBI can engage the public, bring urgent awareness and deliver resources to help avert the crisis. CCBI is a nonpartisan 501c3 nonprofit organization, and a project of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group Foundation.
Association for the Tree of Life: ATL has created a Strategic Plan for averting climate chaos, with a response that meets the scope, scale, and urgency of the climate crisis. To fulfill the objectives of this Plan, ATL is the fulcrum organization to call for and catalyze the broad-based media, educational, grassroots, and political efforts leading to national carbon fee policy. ATL is an independent, nonpartisan 501c3 nonprofit organization. More info can be found at: www.saveourselvesnow.net.
Issue 9: You seem to have a plan and know-how, yet I find this crisis so threatening and depressing.
Q9.1: What can you tell me before I go stick my head in the sand?
A: Many of those now frightened and lost in resignation will recover when they see the first or second wave of movement and mobilization. Those who are currently discouraged do not daunt us. They have not been provided a vision, means, or way out of this life or death dilemma. Until they can see a plausible response to threats to their lives and families, then depression and fear are normal and reasonable responses.
We can win this one; it is a matter of will and mobilization. Affordable renewable energy technology is available to be deployed at scale. The cost of wind energy has plummeted in the US by 43% since 2009. The cost of solar electricity has dropped an average of 20% per year since 2010. On a new-build basis, wind is now competitive with gas and cheaper than coal. Solar is now cheaper than conventional sources in about 15-18% of the electricity market. By no means are we saying this transition will be easy or smooth. However, the cost of inaction far outweighs the cost of action by orders of magnitude.
The transformation from a fossil fuel-based economy to a clean renewables-based economy must be complete by mid-century.
Photos: Left - Michael Light, ExxonMobile Refinery, Torrance, California. Right - Lee Devlin, Wind turbines, Colorado.
Q9.2: Still, what if I cannot conceive of what the world will look like on the other side?
A: This is a normal response, since our energy and economic transformation must be complete by mid-century. Moreover, our culture is not encouraged to envision a positive outcome—news outlets focus on negative developments and movies put forth dystopian and apocalyptic futures. This causes people to suffer from a dismal failure of imagination.
In the face of this, we encourage people to engage in a visioning process for a positive future. It can readily be applied to imagining climate breakthrough and to conceiving of a carbon-free world in 2050 that works for humanity. Far from a Pollyanna-ish parlor game, visioning is a powerful tool for generating possibility and action.
Q9.3: OK, OK, what can I do?
A: First, you can sign on to CCBI’s endorsement page, sign up for CCBI updates, and help spread the word about the work of CCBI and ATL.
Inform people that the following actions must be taken to combat climate change:
Call for real Climate Breakthrough policies:
Use these talking points to write letters to the editor, write op-eds, tweet, and post on Facebook. Discuss these issues with friends, family, teachers, students, colleagues, and through your networks.
Call for, organize, and lead teach-ins:
For more information, go to: www.ccbi.works/act.
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 Everything else – the financial crisis, the social networking revolution, building bridges between the West and Islam, China’s democratization – pales in significance beside the question of whether we managed to stop our climate from radically changing.
 We are currently at a global CO2 level of ~400 ppm (the highest in 3 million years): http://co2now.org/current-co2/co2-now/, rising 2-4% per year: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/mlo.html. Note this does not account for additive CO2e concentrations: http://oceans.mit.edu/featured-stories/5-questions-mits-ron-prinn-400-ppm-threshold.
 Regarding the need for immediate reductions by developed nations, Kevin Anderson, professor of energy and climate change at the University of Manchester notes, this fundamentally rewrites the chronology of climate change from long-term gradual to urgent and radical: http://policydialogue.org/files/events/Anderson_Reframing_Climate_Change_Presentation.pdf. David Roberts notes the “brutal logic” of climate change http://tinyurl.com/brutal-logic.
 Emissions reductions must occur sooner in developed nations, given our historical contribution to the problem and our capacity to innovate and remediate.
 Wikipedia, “California Proposition 23 (2010), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Proposition_23_(2010).
 “Climate Change: Evidence and Causes,” National Academy of Sciences and Royal Society, February 27, 2014, http://nas-sites.org/americasclimatechoices/events/a-discussion-on-climate-change-evidence-and-causes/, and “What We Know: The Reality, Risks and Response to Climate Change,” American Association for the Advancement of Science, March 2014, http://whatweknow.aaas.org/.
 Local impacts of climate change must be included in the curriculum.
 Anthony Leiserowitz, Nicholas Smith, and Jennifer Marlon, Americans’ Knowledge of Climate Change, Yale University. New Haven: Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, 2010, www.tinyurl.com/CCKnowledge.
 Anthony Leiserowitz, Edward Maibach, Connie Roser-Renouf and Jay Hmielowski, “Global Warming’s Six Americas In November 2011, March 2012 and September 2012” Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, March 2012, http://environment.yale.edu/climate-communication/files/Six-Americas-March-2012.pdf.
 A leading text in the field is available to read on line by chapter: Committe on Disaster Research, “Facing Hazards and Disasters,” National Academies Press, http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11671&page=124.
 David Karrigon, “11 Million Americans Can Save the Climate,” TruthOut, January 30, 2014, http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/21554-11-million-americans-can-save-the-climate.
 Andrew Breiner, “ Small Business Owners: Climate Action Will Protect Our Livelihoods,” ClimateProgress.com, June 25, 2014, http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/06/25/3453065/small-business-climate-poll/. 87 percent of small business owners believe climate change could harm their businesses in the future. 65 percent support government regulation of carbon pollution. Josh Israel, “Major Companies Distance Themselves From US Chamber Campaign Against Obama’s Climate Plan,” June 3, 2014, http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/06/03/3444143/member-companies-chamber-climate/.
 Mark Hertsgaard, “ Latinos Are Ready to Fight Climate Change—Are Green Groups Ready for Them?” The Nation, December 24, 2012, www.tinyurl.com/LatinoReadyClimate. Nine-minute film on diversity in “No on 23”: Mark Decena, nine-minute film, “Where We Live: The Changing Face of Climate Activism,” EDGE Funders Alliance, Solidago Foundation and Kontent Films, 2011, www.wherewelivefilm.org/.
 See this 32-minute lecture on visioning by scientist Dana Meadows (in four parts): “Down to Earth,” International Society of Ecological Economics Conference, Costa Rica, 1994, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiUJaliYw5c.