This Sunday, September 21st, hundreds of thousands of people from across the country and many thousands more in cities around the world will join together in solidarity to demand action from the UN for its 2014 Climate Summit next week. The event is called the People’s Climate March, and it will be the largest collective demand for climate action in history, fitting for the Summit, which will be the largest gathering of leaders on climate change, with 120 heads of state in attendance.
When I think about climate change, the huge proportions of the problem overwhelm me. My first instinct is to light up, reconnect with Mother Earth, and find some plant-based inspiration for changing the way humans interact with the environment.
I am both a tree-hugger and a pot smoker. And you probably should be too. And, honestly, even though you are only one seven billionth of the problem, you can be part of the solution.
Fans of cannabis generally care more about the planet than the average homo sapien, given that they opt to partake in one of the most natural mind-altering substances available. They realize that the planet is a powerful entity, and she has many tools (and toys) up for grabs.
And why mess with Earth’s bounty? She has been feeding our ancestors since the moment some amino acids decided to get together and make a protein, and smoking us out since some hominid set cannabis on fire and inhaled. If Earth could use language, I’m sure she would have sped up that learning curve.
The point is that we owe everything we have and everything we are to this planet. But, collectively, because of some powerful people who have decided to base the global economy around fossil fuels, we are changing it for the worse. Humans have transformed their environment through their affinity for producing tools that make them more powerful than their own bodies alone. But to what end?
Sure, you can fly from New York to London in seven hours. The industrial revolution has connected our world through the use of petroleum for transportation, production, and (surprise, surprise) warmongering. Of course, this petroleum also makes life more convenient. We can chat with people we love around the world in an instant, and have almost any item you can imagine delivered to your doorstep via online shopping. Petroleum made that possible, but alternatives to petroleum will create the future.
Unfortunately, the removal of the hydrocarbons from the ground and their subsequent, inefficient burning means that substantial amounts of carbon have moved into the atmosphere in the form of greenhouse gases. This fundamental change in the distribution of material in our world means that our weather patterns and natural environment will undergo dramatic changes in the future.
But you know that story. We all do. And it’s depressing. I don’t blame you if you need to take a smoke break. Please just bear with me. It gets happier, I promise.
Right now, the UN is freaking out about climate change. It doesn’t know what to do. And, ultimately, no one knows what is fair for every country, or what a real solution would look like. But environmentalists have created a global effort to unite people from all walks of life — from labor unions to religious groups, Pacific Island dwellers to farmers around the world. Because this is a problem that affects everyone. And every individual who participates makes this effort more powerful.
The march itself has no specific demand, but creating a greener world isn’t very hard. The EU has been a leader in energy policy, relying more and more on renewable sources of energy like wind for electricity. If we can get UN leaders to commit to policies that create carbon taxes, subsidies for clean energy, and programs to cut emissions significantly and rapidly, there is very good reason to hope that we can minimize the harmful changes we are making to our planet.
So I am calling all of you to action. But I won’t ask you to get up from your computer (right now). You’re welcome.
If you live around New York, please make every effort to attend the march. It will be a crowded but wonderful gathering of people who care about our planet. Plus, history in the making is pretty cool to witness, am I right?
If you’re farther away, tell your friends, your neighbors, your dog, and your coworkers about the march and the summit. Chances are that they care, too, and talking about climate change is the first step we can take to push the foot-dragging politicians into meaningful action on climate.
And finally, I encourage you to smoke and take a walk in the most tree-ridden, least human-populated place you can find. Take a good look around and appreciate what you see. Despite humanity’s huge impacts on the world, it retains its beauty. We are not destroying the planet. We are changing it, and those changes are dangerous to us.
So look at the life around you and think about how people one hundred years from now, when the planet is warmer than now, will experience it. The land you live on may be rainier or dryer by then, and will probably be slightly closer to the ocean, but, ultimately, Earth is resilient. I bet that it will still be beautiful in one hundred years. Different, but still beautiful.
My hope is that this march will incite a future that plans for a relationship of mutual benefit between humans and the earth. We are smart (sometimes), and we can plan. We know the basics of what we need to do, and we need to put money and time into doing it.
So as a civically engaged stoner whom I have just inundated with environmental information, you are compelled to create the world you want to smoke in. For more information about the march and what you can do to stop climate change, visit peoplesclimate.org.