The collective consciousness shift: your monthly dose of climate goodness
It’s that time again. Time to put away our newly-altered Atlas to reflect shrinking ice sheets and turn away from the barrage of stories on drought and wildfires, stories that seem to point to a rapidly changing world. Yet while climate change is certainly a big deal, it’s also true that in the media if it bleeds, it leads. Hence we see the repeated publication of the shocking, the tragic and the scary. That’s why we’ve created a special forum here to, at least on a monthly basis, document the positive when it comes to climate change. The good is there; the movement is building. We just have to dig a little deeper than the headlines to find proof of it:
- Divestment is so in right now: CalSTRS (the largest pension in the U.S. and investment committee of the $190.8 billion California State Teachers’ Retirement System) is actively researching how best to divest from coal companies. They’ve been willing to take this step before: divesting from South Africa in 1986 to take a stand against apartheid, from automatic firearms manufacturers following the Sandy Hook tradegy, from Sudan in response to the war in Darfur, from the tobacco industry, and from Iran. CalSTRS has a history of doing what’s right—even when such bold moves may result in investment losses in the short term. Check out our previous good news posts to see who else is following the fossil fuel and coal divestment trend.
- President Obama and the game-changing Clean Power Plan: President Obama recently unveiled his Clean Power Plan, illustrating how the U.S. will lead global efforts to address climate change by setting the first-ever carbon pollution standards for power plants. The Clean Power Plan sets achievable standards to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. In addition to the greatness of the plan in itself, I’ll just say it: President Obama’s address on the plan was simply beautiful. He went off script at one point, stating, “The kinds of criticisms that you’re going to hear are simply excuses for inaction. They’re not even good business sense. They underestimate American business and American ingenuity.” He later stated, “…our planet is as beautiful as ever. It still looks blue. And it’s as vast, but also as fragile, as miraculous as anything in this universe. …We only get one home. We only get one planet. There’s no plan B.” Watch his full address here.
- Proof that fighting climate change helps the economy: Last month the Analysis Group released a report showing that nine northeastern states have seen significant boosts in their economies, following implementation of a regional program that caps climate pollution from power plants. The report, The Economic Impacts of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative on Nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States, finds that in the last three years the northeastern states have created 14,000 new jobs and saved consumers $460 million on their energy bills, all while cutting power plant carbon pollution by more than a third. This in itself proves that while climate change presents a great threat to our way of life, it also represents a tremendous economic opportunity. And the more tangible examples we have to prove this argument true, the more progress we can make toward safeguarding a healthy climate for all.
- It’s kind of a “duh” at this point—energy efficiency saves: Here at home we’re also reaping the financial benefits of a cleaner economy. The Energy Trust of Oregon’s 2014 annual report shows that energy efficiency and renewable energy programs–funded by a public purpose charge–helped save Oregon customers $6.8 million in 2014 through projects at more than 17,000 locations. “Customers’ energy-saving and renewable power projects put money back into their pockets and also grew Oregon’s clean energy economy by $247 million,” according to a press release from Energy Trust.
So yes, the climate is changing. But so is the climate around climate change. All sorts of communities are taking part in the movement, therein highlighting that we’re part of a unique culture shift, a shift in our collective consciousness. Increasingly, we’re recognizing our role in not just adapting to a changing world, but in mitigating the causes of what warms it in the first place. As President Barack Obama said in his recent address on the Clean Power Plan, climate change is not an issue for another generation—it’s ours. And we seem to be embracing that fact not only because of its urgency, but because of its possibility as well.
– Devon Downeysmith, Climate Communications & Outreach Manager
Have ideas for monthly climate good news? Email me.