On January 21, 2017, the Anne Arundel County Sierra Club Group presented Phil Favero with an award for achievement in increasing community awareness and knowledge of climate change. These are Phil's comments in accepting the award:
Thank you for this award for achievement in increasing community awareness and knowledge of climate change; I accept it on behalf of the Climate Stewards of Greater Annapolis.
I recall reading long ago about an ancient Chinese curse: “May you live in an interesting time.” For us, how interesting can it get? We live in a time when:
A mass extinction of the Earth’s species, with the loss of about 100 species per day, has begun and is expected to mean the death of 30 to 50 percent of all species by the middle of this century;
Atmospheric carbon dioxide is greater than 400 ppm, higher than it has been for millions of years, and rising at a rate of more than 2 ppm per year;
Scientists reported just this week that 2016, like 2015 and 2014 previously, broke the record for global average annual temperature; and
Carbon in the atmosphere is increasing the risk of coastal flooding, is acidifying oceans, and is leading toward the collapse of food systems, accompanied by the prospect of more violent conflict.
To “manage” these problems, we now have: an American President who has called global warming a “Chinese hoax”; a nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency who has led legal challenges to the mission of that agency; and a Senate Environmental Committee Chairman who brought a snowball onto the Senate Floor to demonstrate the Earth is not warming. The political system is rigged to enhance the interests of the rich, such as titans in the fossil fuel industry, and scientists have been frustrated by their inability to convince more people that global warming is real, human-caused, and dangerous.
We live in a most-interesting time. So what can we do about it? As former President Obama said recently, we can take seriously our roles as citizens, grab a clipboard, lace up our shoes, and become involved in public affairs. The recent election should energize us to become better informed about the issues, to lobby our elected representatives harder, to demonstrate more frequently and in greater numbers, and to engage more creatively and effectively in civil disobedience. We owe this to ourselves, to the Earth’s vulnerable peoples, and to our youth. We are the leaders whom we have been hoping to find.
A good group in which to exercise your leadership skills is the Climate Stewards of Greater Annapolis. The mission of the Climate Stewards has three parts. First, we are political advocates for climate policies at the local, state, national, and international levels. For example, many Climate Stewards were marching and rallying today in Annapolis and Washington. Second, we are educators; and, third, we are learners. While most Americans now agree that global warming is real and caused by humans, they do not yet understand the danger and urgency of our situation. Climate Stewards are working to share scientific facts about the urgency of the problem and policies to solve it, while, at the same time, being respectful of fellow Americans who have not yet made global warming a high priority public policy issue. The science of global warming is complex, however, and knowledge of the problem, while convincing, is imperfect; for this reason, Climate Stewards are learners as well as educators. Our challenge is to be effective advocates while, at the same time, being respectful educators, and humble learners.
Come to visit our group. We hold a monthly business meeting, when we make plans and decisions; and we sponsor educational events, typically monthly as well. Upcoming events scheduled for this winter and spring will be about:
Food and global warming;
Farming to sequester atmospheric carbon;
Adapting the Chesapeake Bay to climate change;
Sea level rise in Anne Arundel County; and
Mass extinction and global warming.
I invite you to join the Climate Stewards. If you provide me with your name and email address, I will add you to our list to receive messages about upcoming activities and events. Our list is approaching 300 people, and you could the person to put us over the top!
Thank you, again, for the award and for all you do to keep Mother Earth a livable home for nature – which, as you know, includes us.