I cried in Washington, D.C.
It happened in a narrow opening of time, an eye of the storm between flying in to Reagan International Airport the day before and sitting down for the first Citizens’ Climate Lobby 2014 Conference session that Sunday, June 22 afternoon. I took a morning stroll to find some
spiritual grounding within the architectural and liturgical beauty of the renowned Washington National Cathedral. Strikingly, I found it most profoundly not in the 11 am worship service on the spacious main floor. I found it more in the 1 pm docent led tour discussing the stained glass “Space Window”.
The docent explained the Space Window had been dedicated in 1974 on the fifth anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. In it was sealed a seven gram rock sample from the Sea of Tranquility presented by Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon,
and his Apollo 11 crew mates Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. She added that this, the only Apollo mission lunar rock outside of a museum or
research center, had more recently looked down on Neil Armstrong’s September 13, 2012 memorial service.
And that’s when I cried in Washington D.C..
It was old news, but news received at what became a holy time in a holy place by a man who spent his childhood reading, watching and hoping for all things space-related. I grieved that Astronaut Neil Armstrong, who expressed the positive promise, potential and power of America was dead. I grieved that he, and we, had once embraced the impossible challenge of getting a person to the moon and successfully met it with technological ingenuity, scientific understanding, bold action and unwavering perseverance. I grieved that sadly we had yet to embrace the modern challenge of human caused global warming and of getting our civilization off of fossil fuels.
Yet, as I walked back down tree lined streets to the CCL conference I smiled. We conferees along with many others have embraced our generation’s modern “impossible” challenge. And as the conference unfolded, we along with some of those others made our voices heard.
Who coordinated others to speak out leading up to and during our conference? Who arranged for important headlines to coincide with our lobby day? Was it plan or providence or more likely some of both?
All I know and what matters most is that people are speaking out and acting to address global warming. In particular on Tuesday June 24, 2014 more than 600 of us conference participants swarmed Capitol Hill, pressing our government to embrace the challenge of human caused climate change.
As we did, conservative Republican Henry Paulson’s op-ed “The Coming Climate Crash” buoyed us from the pages of that Sunday’s New York Times by advocating a bold price on carbon emissions. Paulson’s, Michael Bloomberg’s and Tom Steyer’s report “Risky Business: The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States” encouraged us further. Released that same Tuesday, it describes the staggering economic costs and sobering consequences of ignoring the scientific understanding of global warming. Just as importantly for encouraging us to act boldly, earlier in June CCL released “The Economic, Climate, Fiscal, Power, and Demographic Impact of a National Fee-and-Dividend Carbon Tax ” by the non-partisan Regional Economic Models, Inc. It projects that bold national action against global warming will RAISE both GDP and employment and LOWER carbon emissions.
With that news and those reports in mind we CCL’ers asked 500 congressional offices – House and Senate, Representatives and Senators, legislative aides and policy advisors – to support the bold
action of a revenue neutral carbon fee and dividend plan with border tax adjustments. Such a plan collects a fee on fossil fuels at the point of importation or extraction. The fee helps reveal carbon energy’s true cost and sends a market price signal to encourage shifting to clean renewable energy. All money collected goes directly back to the public with none retained by the government. Meanwhile, the border tax adjustments prevent unfair trade that might cause pollution and businesses to leak off-shore.
As these reports and growing evidence shows, continued inaction increases costs and defers benefits. We can meet the modern challenge of human caused global warming and of getting our civilization off of fossil fuels if we embrace it now. We can successfully meet it with technological ingenuity, scientific understanding, bold action and unwavering perseverance. We did it in space before. We are beginning to and can do it on earth now.
REFERENCES: http://www.roadtomajority.com/#scheduleTitle; http://www.roadtomajority.com/RTM_Schedule.pdf ; http://www.space.com/17579-neil-armstrong-memorial-service-national-cathedral-pictures.html ;Funeral Held for Neil Armstrong, first man on Moon, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-19446801 ;The space window at the National Cathedral, http://www.nasa.gov/topics/history/features/spacewindowhistory.html ;
Hank Paulson, The Coming Climate Crash : http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/22/opinion/sunday/lessons-for-climate-change-in-the-2008-recession.html ; Risky Business Report Tallies toll On Economy From Global Warming : http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/24/science/report-tallies-toll-on-economy-from-global-warming.html ; “Risky Business: The Economic Risks of Climate change in the United States.” : http://riskybusiness.org/uploads/files/RiskyBusiness_PrintedReport_FINAL_WEB_OPTIMIZED.pdf ; The RB site – http://riskybusiness.org/ ; “The Economic, Climate, Fiscal, Power, and Demographic Impact of a National Fee-and-Dividend Carbon Tax ” by Scott Nystrom, Regional Economic Models, Inc. : http://citizensclimatelobby.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/REMI-carbon-tax-report-62141.pdf.
(Versions of this post appeared as “Tears, action against global warming, ; p. 9, middleton times tribune, thursday, 7/3/14, vol 122, no. 27 and as “Moon Memories Move Action” at my blog, ClimateChangeHope.wordpress.com, 6/30/14.)