Summer Driving Season, Reconsidered.

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We Need to Keep Fossil Fuels Buried in the Paleozoic Ground.

 Memorial Day Weekend, otherwise known as the start of the Summer Driving Season, commodity speculators and fossil fuel industry executives will be eager to see how prepared drivers will be to incinerate the oil and gas inventory currently flooding world markets – courtesy of, for the time being, Saudi Arabia and intensive US hydraulic fracturing. There is a way to boycott fossil fuels and signal to the oil industry we don’t need their stinking carbon nearly as much as they imagine. But first we have to be a little less obsessed with our cars, our machines and electronic devices say, once a week.


But First, Memorial Day Isn’t About Commerce.

 I remember the pained words watching a news interview of a father whose son was one of the first fatal casualties of the Iraq Invasion. Possibly it was the agony of his statement that explains the odd phrasing. He said his son gave his life for our American “lifestyle”. I believe he wanted to say American way of life. But maybe, lifestyle was what he meant. Under the circumstances it’s hard to find the words. Our lifestyle choices indeed ought to honor those fallen soldiers and align with the only words that ever seem to express the terrible loss;

 “…that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” — President Abraham Lincoln, 1863


 Idle the days not your car’s engine.

 While you’re immobilized in traffic this Memorial Day weekend, encountering the annual accursed madness of our era yet again, remember Albert Einstein’s aphorism that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Assuming most of us are relatively sane it would be difficult not to know we’re idling away the climate simply to escape a maniacal lifestyle. The advisable thing to do when you do arrive at your destination is to just…stop. For the next 24 hours relax. You have just experienced an extreme example of an ancestral problem — not participating in a stop day.

Here’s an epiphany; altering the way you use time will reduce energy use and CO2 emissions. There actually is something you can enjoy doing about this.

This summer, ditch the car and rush-hour commutes. And when you return to the regular workweek, you might want to experiment with a Sabbath Day or Secular stop day — one day a week off the grid. It can free your mind and open all kinds of unimagined creative possibilities. (It takes a little practice).

James Lovelock, the freethinking inventor/atmospheric scientist/ecologist who developed the Gaia Theory of our planet as a self-regulating organism remarked;

“It’s personal action that counts. Any biological activation starts with a single organism.”

He also said this; “You can’t win people round by saying they are guilty for putting (carbon dioxide) in the air.”

Indeed, we overwhelmingly now know just how over our heads we’ve come and can start focusing on the inspired things to do about climate change.

There is on closer inspection an unhurried wilderness of biota, migrations, parks and waterways, in your regional surroundings to explore. From community gardening in Detroit to rewilding our children in nature or, as a trail maintainer working The Long Path told me “We do this so other people can have a better experience”. There are myriad other possibilities of your choosing.

And even if your have one of those clever engines that shut down when stopped, we have much better things to do with our time on Earth.

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The return of cheap oil. This time don’t waste it.

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Courtesy Getty Images

Boycott!

The price of oil tumbles but the devastating human cost remains.

What an astonishing and unpredictable moment. Crude oil prices are tanking and the US, producing 70% more in the last six years, is on the cusp of becoming, in a few months, the world’s largest oil exporter – more than Saudi Arabia!

This is good for consumers and our economy – temporarily.

Instead of decades of the punishing OPEC cartel and petro-state extortion, America has a real chance to get its groove back.

Consumers can send a powerful signal and we will never have quite this opportunity again – to alter the fossil fuel path – definitively.

Fossil fuel divestment is a real part of this change. But OPEC won’t be happy and will be back.

Capitalists praise the power of disruption to foster innovation but prefer inertia and an energy-addicted consumer.

Now it’s up to all of us. The stewards of our future.

24-6 Boycott. One day a week off the grid.

We, consumers all, can send prices even lower, enough to signal multinational corporations and repressive petro-states, that there’s more profit in responsible leadership. And we’re serious.

Help Oil Giants become sustainable Energy Companies.

Support coal miners transitioning to new livelihoods.

Acknowledge oil workers with whistle-blower protection and safer work conditions.

Spend a little time with our families and friends.

Bundle up in sweaters building snowmen.

Marvel at an astonishing Universe under a cold clear sky.

A spectacular sustainable future awaits.

With Big Oil extinction.

Did the Peoples Climate March matter?

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At the time did the various protests for racial equality, women’s suffrage, labor rights, anti-war, bring about change?

Yes — and not completely, immediately or globally.

Although all of these causes, while intolerably endured, even to this day – the marchers recognized a common cause, to take immediate action for a habitable earth.

To say, you had to be there, is more than a saying when the stakes are the demise of the only climate that nurtured Homo sapiens and we have ever known. You can’t just be a bystander.

But what immediate action?

How could it be that we demand political action, corporate leadership, human rights, a scientific certainty and a total remaking of the world’s energy infrastructure – immediately – but not change our own consumptive habits? (Not to discount that all this needs to happen).

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The miles-long march was divided into segments: People most effected, Building the future, Solutions, Who’s responsible, The debate’s over, To change everything we need everyone.

At the climate march I walked behind the large banner of “We Have The Solutions” with my 24-6 Boycott sign. Near me was the only group that suggested individuals do anything to use less energy – Vegetarians. One vocal woman handing out Go Vegan flyers, rightly, but a bit forcefully, proclaimed there is no better way for an individual to reduce atmospheric carbon than to not eat meat. (You had to love their enthusiasm). I goaded her a bit asking if it was ok to just do meatless Mondays. At first she resisted “No, no, no. You have to only eat plants!” But her friends consoled me with “That would be a good start.” and she encouraged that.

That is how 24-6 works. One day a week off the grid. Something we can do immediately to change energy consumption – right now.

It becomes a little through the looking glass epiphany to experience a different possibility. We can all do things – actual fun, joyful, simple, liberating things – this week – just for yourself without waiting for anyone to tell you what to do or wait for anyone else to make it happen.

Heading the opposite way when everyone was heading home I saw only one — one lanky young guy holding his solitary message scrawled on a torn piece of cardboard; “Consume Less”.

I think it was directed to us climate marchers.

Yes we are long past small, individual actions but the banner to wrap up the march stated; “To change everything it takes everyone. My carbon footprint for walking all day in this uber-passionate, carnival of a climate protest, was pretty much zero.

The enormity of the crisis is dispiriting but the possibilities seen in New York City that day were inspiring.

Steve Mitsch