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2013 Forum

Global Warming/Energy Committee

     Addressing climate change is Sierra Club’s number one priority.

Awakening the Dreamer

Solar PowerThree-pronged Approach to Avoiding Climate Disaster: Conservation, Political Action, Corporate Change


by Hugh Mitchell, Chairperson, Global Warming/Energy (GW/E) Committee

The scientific facts on the worldwide climate crisis are fully available. They say climate is changing very rapidly and is going to get worse. In fact climate change isn’t the only problem. The world is facing an array of interconnected environmental problems such as overpopulation and water and food shortages. What can we do to avoid a ‘hard crash’? Our GW/E Committee has developed a summary design on how to address necessary changes. We call it a ‘Three Legged Stool’ approach.

     1. Individual Actions: Start with encouraging everyone to practice Energy Conservation by reducing the use of fossil fuel and changing individual consumption habits by home-based energy saving. We recommend an excellent book on how to reduce personal fossil fuel use by David Gershon, Low Carbon Diet: a 30 Day Program to Lose 5,000 Pounds. But, to be realistic, this approach can only go so far if our energy is still produced by burning fossil fuels. As fast as possible, we need to move to carbon free, efficient ways of energy production.

     2. Political Action: Although the federal and state governments are heavily influenced by corporate lobbying funded by such legal fictions as “corporate personhood,” it is still possible for citizens’ voices to make a difference related to the crisis by lobbying for sensible earth-friendly bills which require stringent controls on fossil fuel energy. One approach we are studying is Carbon Tax & Fee, which uses the ‘carrot and stick’ approach to reducing carbon. In this system energy production which releases carbon dioxide is taxed based on the amount of CO2 released. This gives economic incentives to producers to cut back and also rewards citizens with a tax return.

     3. Corporate Change: It’s possible for American corporations to lead the world in both profits and in reducing green house gases. Vastly increased profits can come from corporations becoming truly sustainable and free from fossil fuel costs by the use of alternative power. One approach to encouraging change would be for smaller businesses to prove that sustainability and low cost energy work hand in hand for the long term. Unfortunately, as things now stand, CEO performance and corporate welfare are only measured by a positive quarterly balance sheet. What’s needed for a healthy earth and what’s needed for short term profits often clash.

A harder approach to encouraging corporate change is the use of the boycott. For example, Bill McKibben’s 350. org is having success in persuading universities to divest their holdings in polluting companies. Many people don’t realize how much power they have over big corporations in terms of how they spend their dollars. Companies abhor the negative publicity of a boycott of their product. We hope that corporations will see that their long-term profits and longterm survival require change because, as Prince Charles says, “to continue with business as usual is an act of suicide on a gargantuan scale.”

Global Warming/Energy Resources


What we're up to:


To be announced.


What you can do:

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Chapter Sponsors Environmental Essay Contest for High School Juniors, Seniors

The Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter’s Population Committee has received a grant from Sierra Club National’s Activist Network to offer an essay contest for high school juniors and seniors in New York, challenging them to write essays on the topic:

Are There Limits to Growth? Population, Consumption and the Environment.

The winner will earn $500 (second place, $200; third place, $100) and the Chapter hopes to publish the winning essay. If you teach environmental science, general science, social studies, economics or another relevant subject to high school students, let your students know. Or, if you are a parent of a student who might be interested, or if you’re a student yourself and you would like to submit an essay, get the details at:

The deadline is April 1.

For educational materials on these topics and/or to schedule a classroom visit by a member of the Population Committee, contact Diane Buxbaum at:  and , or Kathy Schwarz at: .