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Sonoma County Gazette
Savory Sonoma by Stephanie Hiller

No Shortage of
Climate Change Activities


Feb 28, 2018
by Stephanie Hiller


The less the reigning president does about climate change, the more we have to do to attempt to wrestle this bull to the ground.

It is so hard for us to deal with the prospect of our own possible demise that we’d just rather not think about it. It’s too overwhelming.

But the temperature is rising, the carbon load is increasing, and our denial remains the same. We have to end our reliance on fossil fuels, some say by 2030, others by 2050, but either way we better start doing it soon.

Building more freeways is probably not going to contribute much to the solution, not that DT’s infrastructure plan promises much on that front except more costs for commuters, in the form of tolls.

But you know all this of course.

In Sonoma, we’ve been bustling with climate-related activities.

Praxis Peace sponsored a talk last month by Mark Jacobson, the Stanford scientist who has shown that we could, if we would summon the political will, transition to renewables by 2030. Wow. See his website, The Solutions Project, for details.

The Climate Coalition continues to meet monthly on the fourth Thursday at the First Congregational Church, now under the hearty leadership ofJennifer Palladini.

Earthcare, the church’s environmental group, has just offered two dynamic presentations, both by women with roots in Sonoma.

May Boeve, the co-founder of the influential is a graduate of Sonoma Valley High School now living in San Francisco. She spoke on February 13 about the necessity for action on the local level and the many things we can do individually as well to help curtail rising carbon. Earthcare director John Connelly created a one-page list of positive actions we all can take that was well-received.

And February 20, a much smaller group enthusiastically responded to an excellent presentation by attorney Sharon Duggan, formerly of Glen Ellen and now residing in Oakland, who is one of the founders of Our Children’s Trust, an organization created on behalf of (and with) the young adults who are going to be stuck with the mess that lies ahead.

The approach of Our Children’s Trust is legal, based on constitutional law and the doctrine of the public trust:

Rooted in Roman law, the public trust doctrine recognizes the public right to many natural resources including “the air, running water, the sea and its shore.” [It] requires the state, to hold in trust designated resources for the benefit of the people. Traditionally, the public trust applied to commerce and fishing in navigable waters, but its uses were expanded in California in 1971 to include fish, wildlife, habitat and recreation. (Water Education Foundation)

Did you even know? I did not.

Our Children’s Trust is suing the president and the federal government for failure to protect the atmosphere as would be required both by constitutional law guaranteeing the right to the pursuit of happiness and the public trust. A stable environment, says OCT, is essential for a stable social and personal life.

This is extraordinary. Twenty-one children have signed onto this lawsuit. They now range in age from nine to 20, and they are active participants in communicating the urgency of the situation and their plea that the government take up its appropriate role of protecting the public trust.

We’ve been hearing about the commons, another old concept closely related to this issue of the government’s responsibility. Although unfortunately, it derives from feudalism, the idea that the commons belongs to all of us and must be shared poses a radical challenge to our capitalistic modus vivendi. Indeed, critics of the system within which we must live have been asserting that capitalism, with its emphasis on growth, is inherently a root cause of climate change. And certainly if you consider the Republican defense of the rights of fossil fuel companies to keep pumping their product out of the ground, you must agree that our economic system seems to preclude sharing, replaces collaboration with competition, exalts the rich over the poor, and tends to enslave “those less fortunate” – who may be “those less cruel.”

Are we all so addicted to this economic system, which relies so heavily on a thriving tourism-and-wine industry that we cannot conceive of a way of life that does not depend on gobbling up resources like locusts? Perhaps, as Rob Hopkins of Transition Towns claims in the movie Demain, this new way of life, more attuned to relationships with each other and the earth, could be fun! Figuring out how to get there – and draw down all that excess carbon from the sky – is the task before us. Spring forth!



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