In this clip T. Boone Pickens asks Al Gore when we are going to get off our butts and start acting instead of chatting about climate change, and Al Gore talks tipping points and ends on an existential point. He asks a rhetorical question about how people find the moral courage to make large changes.
This is the question, isn't it? And the real answer is a drab cliche. Every journey really does begin with a single step--every action is supposed to increase that moral courage. But that's a hard enough concept to wrap your mind around when the goal is local and visible, like losing ten pounds or getting a better job. When the problem is global and conceptual, forget about it!
The first step to finding that moral courage, then, is to remove the specific mental barriers that climate change presents--make the power of small actions local and visible. Visualizing and amplifying the small actions of many people is what 21st Century Plowshare is all about.
I started this project because it's impossible for me to derive any of what Al Gore is calling moral courage out of a choice like driving less when I still drive sometimes and when everyone else is still driving, and the air is still full of soot that I can see and CO2 that I can't. It's impossible to see the impact of my decision--it remains abstract. So I can feel righteous about not driving, and I can feel scorn for drivers. But this is not the same as moral courage. In fact, it's counterproductive.
We've been talking about climate change for decades, and so I imagine that the world is full of all kinds of people who see that this moral courage is at arm's length, and who are willing to throw an afternoon, or ten bucks, or a link, or a thoughtful opinion at bringing it closer for everyone.
This weekend I'll be putting up a formal request for volunteers for the Bed Stuy Meadow. You should be a part of it--there is no action too small. Sure, if you are in the neighborhood and want to plant seeds in April, that's great. But the Meadow's success depends just as much on the people who will do nothing more than post a link on their website, email their friends about it, or give a little money for seeds.
Look forward to details about getting off our butts and doing something!