Letter: Action is the route out of climate despair

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Editor of the Reformer,

On Wednesday evening Bill McKibben spoke at the Centre Congregational Church in Brattleboro. He reminded the room of 320 people (with both glimmers of optimism and bone-chilling clarity) that this year is the year for humans to make the radical changes necessary to keep civilization from collapsing within our children's lifetimes. McKibben said that here in the U.S. we have the great privilege and honor of truly fighting for our planet from a place where we have leverage (a country with a still-functioning democracy and resources). On the question of how to do this, he was very clear: the most important thing we can do is to stop thinking and acting as individuals and start thinking and acting collectively.

The two things we need to do right now in order to keep additional nightmare scenarios (for humans, ecosystems and cultures) from unfolding are: 1) elect a candidate with a bold climate platform (Sanders or Warren); and 2) immediately divest money from the most powerful banks, insurers and asset managers who are currently directly funding the fossil fuel industry. What does this mean for you and me? This means cancelling our Chase & CitiBank and Bank of America credit cards (and switching to local banks and credit unions or one of the other options suggested at greenamerica.org). It means switching invested money, if we are privileged enough to have it, to socially responsible accounts and firms. And it also means getting involved with environmental campaigns, both locally and nationally. I just signed up for stopthemoneypipeline.org, and I am also part of 350 Brattleboro, 350 Vermont, and VPIRG, all of which have ongoing campaigns and actions that need our voices, our bodies and our resources.

McKibben said, "The earth is way outside of its comfort zone; we need to step just a little bit outside of ours." Stepping outside of our comfort zones will look different for each and every one of us, but the important part is that we all do so in some way (great or small) that matches our skills and capacities. McKibben also said, "If we get 4, 5 or 6 percent of the population actively involved in this movement we will win. We're at about 2 percent right now." Will you join us? For the sake of the plants and animals and children of this earth? Action is the most direct route out of despondency and despair. Joy meets us on the other side.

Robin MacArthur

Marlboro, Jan. 17

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