Dear EarthTalk: I’m concerned about the impact the new administration will have on the environment, especially the calls to bypass renewables and ramp up fossil fuel production. What can I do as an average citizen to combat harmful environmental policies? — C. Bedrosian, via e-mail
Lots. The sad fact is that while more than two-thirds of Americans want the federal government to do more to protect against global warming and other environmental ills, the Trump administration is pushing forward with plans to gut the Environmental Protection Agency and wriggle out of our Paris climate accord emissions reduction commitments. But the reign of Trump could end up being the greatest thing that ever happened to the environmental movement, by activating millions of otherwise unengaged citizens to make their voices heard in demanding a faster transition away from fossil fuels and a stepped up effort to protect Americans’ air and water quality.
One easy way to get involved is through 5Calls. This free online service provides phone numbers for members of your local Congresspersons and scripts you can use to call them and let them know how you feel on specific timely issues. According to 5Calls, calling members of Congress — even if you just leave a message — is more effective than e-mailing or letter-writing because calls are easier for staffers to tally and the resulting counts inform representatives how strongly their constituents feel about a given issue.
Currently one of the scripts available on 5Calls asks representatives to take action on climate change by opposing HR 637, a bill aimed at preventing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “from exceeding its statutory authority in ways that were not contemplated by the Congress.” If passed, this so-called “Stopping EPA Overreach Act of 2017” would take away the agency’s license to regulate a wide range of harmful pollutants including carbon dioxide, and would otherwise undermine decades worth of progress on the environment, conservation, and climate mitigation.
If you want to do more and start influencing others, consider aligning with grassroots Citizens’ Climate Lobby. The group has chapters across North America and works to educate everyday people about how to contact elected officials to get the message across that we need them to stand up for environmental protections and reducing carbon emissions. The group is pushing for a non-partisan nationwide “carbon fee and dividend” system that would get emissions in line with our Paris climate accord commitments while growing the economy and saving lives.
Another way to get involved is to participate in the upcoming People’s Climate Mobilization in Washington, D.C. on April 29, 2017. Organizers from the non-profit 350.org hope to bring together hundreds of thousands of Americans to show solidarity in efforts to push forward with plans to green the economy and prevent cataclysmic climate change.
“The People’s Climate Mobilization is part of a larger strategy to push back on Trump’s agenda of climate denial and fossil fuel expansion, and then double-down at the local level fighting fossil fuels and lifting up real climate solutions,” reports 350.org. “We see April 29th as the culmination of our work to fight Trump during the first 100 days of his administration and the launch pad for a larger, nationwide movement to fight fossil fuels at the local level.”