On April 14th, 2007, hundreds of thousands of citizens joined forces to send a loud and clear message to Congress: "Step it UP, Congress: Cut Carbon 80% by 2050."
Students joined seasoned activists alongside everyone from soccer moms to hippies at over 1,400 different rallies and events held across the United States as part of the national Step it UP! 2007 day of action.
At city squares and village greens, on the tops of mountains and along threatened coastlines - there were even events underwater (check out this slideshow) - concerned citizens all across the country came together in what became the largest day of environmental protest since Earth Day 1970. We came together to draw a line in the sand and demand action to address the climate crisis.
Step it UP! 2007 gathered national and local media attention. We engaged our elected officials - many of whom made the Step it UP pledge alongside us - and we got a response: all of the 2008 Democratic candidates for president have now adopted the Step it UP! platform of an 80% cut in global warming pollution by 2050. Bills in both the Senate and House would make that call for action a reality and are gathering support and sponsorship.
Most of all, Step it UP! helped build a citizen movement for global warming solutions. And as Bill McKibben, founder of Step it UP! points out, "A movement needs to keep moving, and calling for real leadership is the next logical step."
That's why Bill and the Middlebury College students who successfully organized and kicked off Step it UP! in April are at it again: last week, they announced Step it UP! 2: Who's a Leader', a second round of nationwide protests, rallies and actions scheduled for November 3rd, 2007.
November 3rd is just about one year before the pivotal 2008 elections - an election that will make our break our efforts to tackle the climate crisis and build a sustainable energy future - and the goal of Step it UP! 2, as McKibben summarizes, is "to find out who is simply a politician, and who’s ready to be a leader.”
Here's Bill McKibben's invitation to all of us take one Saturday this fall to join with our fellow citizens to make Step it UP! 2 even bigger and badder than the first version! This is a citizen movement, built from the ground up by you and me, and it's up to us to make Step it UP! 2 a success in each of our communities. Let's keep on movin' on:
There are occasional moments in history when we desperately need leadership, and this is one of them. If we’re going to deal with global warming, then we need to go beyond politicians who say the right words and find champions who will actually do the tough work to transform our energy economy.
And you could play a key role in bringing those leaders to the fore. This is an invitation to take one Saturday this fall and use it to build a movement, a movement strong enough to finally put this issue on the table where it can no longer be ignored.
Here’s the idea. On November 3, a year before the next election, we’re asking people to organize rallies large and small in their communities. Each one should take place in some spot that commemorates great leaders of the past. People have already committed to climbing New Hampshire's Mt. Washington and gathering in Chicago's Lincoln Park. Others will gather at the Rhode Island church where John F. Kennedy was married, or in front of a site honoring Navajo elder and activist Roberta Blackgoat. But we need hundreds more, gatherings in places that bear the names of national leaders or of locally celebrated men and women who did the right thing in a moment of great need. You’ll know the person that makes sense in your city or town—they don't need to be saints, just true leaders, the kind who, faced with the great issues of their day, didn't punt or compromise.
Once you've got your rally registered on our website, we'll help you gather a crowd, and invite the politicians from your neck of the woods. We want to ask every Senator and Representative, and every candidate for those offices, to come to these rallies, along with state and local officials. Once they're there, we'll present politicians with the four "1 Sky" priorities prepared in the last few months by climate campaigners across the country. They are: an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, 10% in three years (hit the ground running), a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants, and a Green Jobs Corps to help fix homes and businesses so those targets can be met. Basically, we want to find out who is simply a politician, and who's ready to be a leader.
We know these gatherings will be effective. In April, with the help ofthousands of people (most of them brand new to organizing) from across the country, we organized 1,400 rallies in places that showed how climate change would affect our lives. Those events were key in putting the demand for real action--80% cuts in carbon emissions by 2050--square in the middle of the Washington debate. But a movement needs to keep moving, and calling for real leadership is the next step.
Don't worry if you've never organized anything before--you're not putting together a March on Washington, just a gathering of scores or hundreds in your town or neighborhood. It needn’t be slick; homemade is just fine. Put your imagination to work: what would Lincoln do? How would Dr. King take on this challenge? This is a celebration of leadership, and a celebration should be joyful—as focused on the new economies and communities we can create as on the threats we must avoid.
These rallies will be local, but they’ll also have national impact. The website will help draw people to your action, and then on Nov. 3, we'll be gathering pictures and video from around the country so that by nightfall we'll have a good online slideshow of how America feels. We'll do our best to make sure that every candidate is firmly on the record about their plans. By the time the day is done, you'll have helped change the political landscape.
The best science tells us we have barely a decade to start the fundamental transformation of our economy and to lead the world in the same direction or else, in the words of NASA's Jim Hansen, we will face a "totally different planet." (He went on to say that the "1 Sky" priorities "describe just the kind of trajectory we need" to start solving the problem). A decade's not very long—we've got to get going.
I know you’ve already done the obvious things, like changing some of the lightbulbs in your house. Screwing in a lightbulb is important; screwing in a new federal policy to deal with climate change is crucial, especially if we’re ever going to regain enough credibility to help lead the world toward a stable climate. November 3 will be a powerful day, and you can play a vital role. Please sign up on the website to start or join an action—and thank you so much for caring enough to be a leader yourself.
Bill McKibben and the StepItUp2007.org team
P.S.One more thing. Please forward this invitation as far and wide as possible, to anyone you know who might possibly be interested. We’re not really an organization, and we don’t have lists of names—we depend on people like you to take the initiative.
So what are you going to do in your community? Let's Step it UP one more time, keep gathering momentum, carry it through Focus the Nation in January 2008, the primary elections in the spring and on through next summer and the 2008 elections. Nothing less than the future of the world as we know it hangs in the balance!