I attended my first rally ever last night – The Do the Math tour with Bill McKibben. Rumor has it it will be the biggest stop on the tour, filling up (most of) the Orpheum Theatre’s 2700 seats.
The bulk of the rally concerned a recap of the three numbers Bill McKibben talked about in his viral Rolling Stone piece this summer. The numbers are 2, 565, and 27… well, some other large number. Really, I think they are important, but the concepts behind them are better than actually remembering the numbers.
First, that if the global temperature rises about 2 degrees celcius (from what it is now) we’re in for a wildly bumpy ride of horrifying weather patterns that could kill millions and cost billions to clean up and recover from.
The second number (565) represents how much fossil fuel we can burn before we raise the global temperature two more degrees. The third number, which is 5x the size of that second one, represents how much known oil that we have access too (hard or easy to get to) that fossil fuel companies are planning to burn. Already.
What’s the strategy that Do the Math puts out at this point – Divestment.
Stop investing in oil companies. Get your college to stop investing. Get your church to stop investing. Your company. Yourself.
That was the rally (in a nutshell.)
There are two important points I want to make about the rally – one is for do-gooders in general, and one is specifically for Christians.
Do Gooders – No matter how little you drive, how much you recycle, how few things you buy – if there are not structural changes to policy change, business operations, and even the mundane things like investment strategy there will be no progress in this issue.
This is the old “one person” vs. a “group of people” debate. (I love having this debate – even more than I love having the nature vs. nurture one). That is – is it more important to change hearts or is it most important to change policy (ie: group think)? – Trick answer – both! For me, I think it’s most important to change policy in your public life, and hearts in your private life.
Christians. The thing that really gets me about this cause is that the people who will be most affected by climate change are the poorest, most vulnerable people in the world – that is, the people Jesus expressly said to care about. They’re subsistence farmers, desert dwellers – people eking out a living. I know that America is on a shaky recovery, expensive gas… etc etc etc. I know, also, that Christians are some of the most skeptical people about this “climate change hoax” as they sometimes call it. That’s nice. Forget about that, lets talk about how big oil companies still screw over poor subsistance farmers even if there isn’t such a thing as climate change. It’s a win win to protest this if we’re serious about taking care of poor people.
The effects here (in the US) of changing policy hurts first and foremost big business (who can afford it and will innovatively recover, I have no doubt) and secondly people who are poor, but not abysmally poor. The deaths here will not be from starvation – they will be from freak storms. That’s first why I back this movement. (The second reason is of course, the biosphere changes, but I’m not going to go into that (right now).)
Like Bill McKibben said last night (paraphrased) – What we’re asking isn’t radical. We’re just asking for a planet that works as good as it did when we were born.