How You (and You, and You, and You) Can Stop Climate Change This Summer

Editor's note: This story is part of PolicyMic's Millennials Take On Climate Change series this week.

This summer matters. In the middle of what is shaping up to be another season of climate-fueled unnatural disasters — record heat waves and extreme weather — everyone in power, from Shell Oil to President Obama, is waiting to see if people like us have it within us to carry the climate movement forward. So what you (and you, and you, and you) do this summer will determine whether we turn the tide against climate change. How? 

The president has put forth his second term climate strategy, and he is set to make his final decision on the Keystone XL pipeline "atrocity" soon. Whether or not decisions like these turn out to be the moments when we turned back the tide of climate change depends on whether or not we hold our leaders accountable. Great presidents — from Lincoln to Kennedy — are pushed to be great only by great movements.

Climate change has taken generations to develop, but we only have one generation to stop it. Unlike the massive societal problems that our parents and grandparents faced, climate change is a wicked problem without a single clear or linear step-by-step pathway to move us  from where we are now to where we need to be. We’re not just trying to get a man on the moon; we’re trying to change a complex system with a varied, diverse set of inputs.  

To solve the problem we need all of our diverse networks to buy in on their terms in order to create and define the multiple, cascading set of solutions that will have to occur over time in order to solve the crisis. To do that, we need to be fearless. And we need to start now.

Luckily, as the climate is changing, so is the movement to stop the corporations like Shell, ExxonMobil, and Duke Energy who are fueling the destruction. This summer has the potential to be the moment when the most important progressive movements in the country came together to take our country back. There is a vast network of communities fighting for their lives against the corporate takeover of our country, and we’re all starting to wake up to our shared struggle. No one knows exactly what this movement will look like or exactly how it will behave, but we can see it emerging on the ground in the places we care about right now, from North Carolina to the Powder River Basin, and we have to join together with what we have now before it’s too late.   

The fight to stop climate pollution is integral to the fight to stop the corporate takeover of our democracy. The big money groups fighting citizens in places like North Carolina are the same big money groups fighting across the country to disempower the majority who believe in the rights of communities to be safe and self-determined; the Koch brothers, Art Pope, the NRA, and the ALEC legislative cabal. The values we share with the wider progressive movement are larger — and far more important — than the values we don’t share.

Old economy behemoths like Duke, Exxon, and TransCanada are getting desperate, trying to hold onto all the power they can before demographics and history sweep them aside. They don't divide us into distinct groups. They see us as all one enemy, which is why courageous groups like Mountain Justice, the NAACP, Rising Tide, TarSands Blockade, IdleNoMore, and many others are standing together to escalate the movement against extreme energy.  

An attack by corporate interests against any of us is an attack on the environment too. This summer, Greenpeace will fearlessly stand with our allies to fight this corporate-funded threat. It’s time.

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Phil Radford

Phil Radford is Executive Director of Greenpeace USA.

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