Ode magazine has just made a new issue, all about "The Solutions We Need Now."  This "Special Copenhagen Edition" features an article by 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben.  You can check out Bill’s artice below, and view the full issue here: https://www.solutionsweneednow.org/

October 24, which we called the International Day of Climate Action, failed to solve global warming. However, it did show a number of interesting things about the planet on which we live, and the possibilities for mobilizing citizens to demand change. By day’s end, 5,200 rallies and demonstrations had taken place in 181 countries, which is pretty much all the countries there are. CNN called it “the most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history.” As we watched photos stream in from around the world (there are now about 25,000 in our Flickr account) several things struck me:

1)    The idea that environmentalism is something for rich white people is nonsense. The biggest and most impassioned demonstrations happened in places crowded with non-rich non-white people: 15,000 people on the streets in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; 300 demonstrations across India and another 300 in China; big crowds in Bangladesh, in Quito, in Bujumbura—in pretty much all the places you wouldn’t expect to find them. But only because we’ve become used to the idea that environmentalism is somehow a luxury: in the poorest places in the world, it’s the first absolute necessity. If you derive your daily bread from the physical stability of the earth; if you live near the ocean in a place where you know the government can’t afford to build a seawall; if the river that waters your life is connected to a glacier that’s disappearing—well, climate change is one of the most important things on earth.

2)    The idea that you need to dumb down the science in order for people to understand is nonsense as well. We used a fairly obscure scientific data point—350 parts per million co2—as our global rallying point. People understood what it meant: that we have too much carbon in the atmosphere already, that we need to reduce it quickly, that half-measures are useless. No one needs to know everything about the physics of the upper atmosphere, any more than they need to know all the details of lipid chemistry if their doctor tells them their cholesterol level is too high. But everyone is capable of grappling with  the essential science of climate change—and the idea that people need to be happy-talked, or given a set of innocuous slogans, is simply wrong. We’re smarter than we look.

3)    The idea that you need celebrities to get through to people turns out to be nonsense too. We managed this enormous day of action, by far the biggest global warming protests ever, without a single rock star or movie star. People were moved by other things: by their kids. By the art and music they were making themselves (visit 350.org to see the astonishing collection of public art that people created around the world, using their bodies, using rocks, using ice, using seaweed, using paint, using sand, using fire). Musicians created song after song—3-5-0 turns out to rhyme with lots of things. Churches range their bells 350 times, imams chanted 350 passages from the Koran, yogis did 350 sun salutations. We’re not just smarter than we look—that big brain is connected to a big heart, a big soul.
These myths that we repeat about our species—we won’t act unless our backs are against the wall, we’re too dumb to figure out what the future holds and act on it—get in the way of action. The strange thing about them is, they seem to apply more to our “leaders” than to the rest of us. It’s hard to get a prime minister to pay attention unless you’ve got a rock star on hand, apparently; secretaries of state have a hard time sitting down and really grappling with the science. They’re often looking for the easy way out.

At the very least, they should have the decency to stop blaming the rest of us.

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