Climate Crisis: How Will You Lead
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This is a time of unprecedented danger and opportunity. The climate crisis is threatening homes, livelihoods, lives, and the very existence of life on Earth. Yet it is also presenting humans with what one prestigious scientific body calls “the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century.” We must respond decisively, and we need a U.S. President who will lead the way.
I ask you to join me and Eat for the Earth in petitioning the Democratic Presidential candidates to compel them to make the climate emergency their highest priority, to be honest about all of the major sources of emissions (including animal agriculture), and to lead us with an effective, bold, and inspiring plan of action that averts the catastrophe of runaway global warming. Following are details about the situation and my personal reason for starting this petition. A partial list of sources consulted for the data in this petition follows that.
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Throughout my life I have felt an urge to change the world for the better and have done my best to take action that aligns with that compulsion. As a child growing up in a chaotic and violent family, I came to the conclusion that we could completely transform the world if we could find a way to raise our children well, to make sure their needs were met and that they had effective, peaceful tools for interpersonal interaction. That single, powerful idea became the driving force of my life.
In my teens I began studying the Montessori method of education, and started my first Montessori School in the 1970s when I was in my early 20s. What followed was a rewarding career of many decades in which I supported thousands of children, families, and individuals healing childhood wounds.
Whether as a teacher, school administrator, or later a minister, counselor, program developer, and nonprofit executive director, the primary driving force of my life was to change the world through supporting child well-being and helping people heal their childhood wounds. I felt so blessed to be able to engage in incredibly meaningful activities: teaching young children to meditate, supporting parents in their sacred charge, helping state prison inmates heal their childhood wounds, and so many other worthwhile endeavors.
Four years ago I awoke to the fact that none of that will matter if we lose the habitability of our earth. I felt such a sense of urgency about the climate crisis. I felt galvanized by its disproportional impact on the children of the world, my children. For the first time in human history, the probability that young people can enjoy long, healthy lives on a planet that supports their well-being is being seriously called into question. In response to my epiphany, I quit my leadership position of nearly 20 years in a church I helped to found so that I could focus full-time on the climate crisis.
I started an organization, Eat for the Earth, to work for change in the most neglected issue relative to the climate emergency, that of our diets. Numerous climate scientists and scientific panels have established the fact that animal agriculture is one of the leading sources of greenhouse gas emissions. It has also been soundly demonstrated that we must shift global human diets toward more plants and less animal products if we are to successfully avert climate catastrophe. Even transitioning to carbon-free transportation and energy will be insufficient if we don’t also transform human diets.
During the four years since I quit my job, the situation with our climate has not gotten any better. In fact, it has become even more clear that our global human family and all life on earth are facing a time of unprecedented danger in the form of the climate emergency. Like me, you may have friends or relatives who have lost homes, had their lives disrupted, or even lost loved ones due to fires, floods, hurricanes, and other impacts of the climate crisis. And it’s getting worse.
We don’t have a lot of time to make huge changes in global human activities that are driving this crisis. The United Nations has said we must find a way to limit global warming to well below 2°C, and preferably 1.5°C, by 2030 in order to avoid entering runaway global warming, a point of no return after which no human activities will be able to prevent utter catastrophe. Many scientists think this prediction is overly optimistic.
What’s at stake is the existence of life on earth. We don’t know precisely what will occur if we reach runaway global warming and the intensification of negative feedback loops, but we do know that it will include the melting of the polar ice caps, the flooding of many of the world’s inhabited areas, more huge storms and fires, and catastrophic loss of human and non-human life. The earth system will right itself eventually, as it has during other periods of mass extinctions, but we might not be here on the other side to witness the healing.
Yet, in addition to being a time of unprecedented danger, it is also a time of unprecedented opportunity. If we rise up as a global human family to make the changes that are necessary to avert runaway warming, we will be the beneficiaries of a cleaner, more sustainable, and more just human presence on the earth.
As one of the major political forces on earth and as one of the nations that has caused more than our fair share of environmental degradation, the United States has a key role to play in the global response to the crisis. We need a President who will lead the way.
Our best hope may lie in the Democratic Party. In surveying the platforms of the Democratic Presidential candidates, it is apparent that the candidates have strong commitments to many progressive causes. Health care, wage inequality, justice, education, foreign affairs, immigration, finances, and other issues are critically important, of course, but will be rendered irrelevant if we enter runaway global warming.
We need a President, therefore, who will make the climate crisis their highest priority—not just one of multitudes of competing priorities, but the highest priority.
Most of the candidates have climate plans full of many great ideas. Each of these platforms includes one fatal omission, however.
Even though animal agriculture is one of the leading sources of greenhouse gas emissions and we will not make it without a shift in global diets toward more plants, no candidate has taken that on in their platform or climate action plan.
This is why I am asking you to join me in petitioning the candidates to make the climate crisis their highest priority and to be honest about all of the major sources of emissions.
I cannot rest unless I do my part in this fight. The fate of the children of the world is in our hands. Although I feel grateful for the positive impact of my many years of service to children and families, this good will be rendered irrelevant if we reach the point of no return with our climate.
This is why I am in this fight to preserve life on Earth. This is why I hope you will join me in petitioning the Democratic U.S. Presidential candidates to be the leader we need at this critical juncture in history. And, please, if this cause is as important to you as it is to me, help make this petition spread and grow so that the candidates will take notice and act in accordance with what is right.
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