On Saturday, April 14th, an estimated 250 people from the Palo Alto area took part in the largest day of citizen action on climate change in our country's history.
In the rain!
The event, Step It Up Silicon Valley, held in Mitchell Park, was sponsored by Acterra, the City of Palo Alto, Roche Palo Alto, and Silicon Valley Leadership Group -- all leaders in addressing climate change. We were joined by 1,400 other events throughout the country on Saturday, each calling on Congress to cut carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050.
Why? To combat global warming.
Already, we are seeing the impacts of human contributions of carbon dioxide to the earth's atmosphere. Current CO2 concentrations are higher than any seen in almost a million years Eleven of the last twelve years rank among the warmest years on record. And the rate of global climate change that we are currently experiencing is greater than that during any time since the end of the last ice age!
Since the late 1800s, sea level has been rising by over half a foot per century and is accelerating. This temperature increase has brought with it melting polar ice caps, melting tundra, snow cap loss, rising sea levels, more extreme weather conditions, and changes in species habitation and migration patterns.
Here in California, we're losing the Sierra snowcap, which accounts for much of our water supply. Projections for resulting water loss range from 20-80 percent in the coming decades depending on how much and how quickly we act. Further, observed sea levels off the coast of California have been rising at the rate of about half a foot per century.
If we don't act now to slow the pace of climate change, we are in for more of the same and worse. So what can we do about it?
1. Join the call to Congress to "Step It Up: Cut Carbon Emissions 80% by 2050." Write your Senators and Representatives telling them that you support the goals of Step It Up 2007.
2. Take action in our communities:
• take the lessons learned from leading communities, such as Palo Alto, back to your community.
• connect with others in your neighborhood or city, through neighborhood groups, and organizations such as Acterra, and Sierra Club.
• encourage your community to join Sierra Club's Cool Cities in signing the Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement.
• strengthen the teams addressing this issue in your community by actively participating in your community’s efforts.
3. Take action in our workplaces:
• challenge your place of business to commit to a carbon-reduction target with Sustainable Silicon Valley.
• if your business is located in Palo Alto, challenge it to become a green business, through the Chamber of Commerce's Palo Alto Business Goes Green initiative.
4. Take action at home:
• evaluate your own ecological impact and carbon footprint.
• sign up for Acterra's Green@Home program (if you're in the two pilot neighborhoods, Midtown and Barron Park in Palo Alto) and receive a "house call" in which volunteers will install simple energy-saving devices and help you create an energy savings plan.
• encourage your community to ask Acterra to build on its pilot efforts and operate Green@Home in your community.
Take advantage of the momentum started by Bill McKibbon through Step It Up 2007. Let's begin Earth Week 2007 with a commitment to living more sustainably and taking action to help reduce the threat of rapid climate change.