Part 3 - What can each of us do to reduce GW-
Create EFFECTIVE political pressure on Congress
In the first part I concluded that to reduce the immense amount of GHG emissions in the US we will need enormous efforts, and will require trillions, way above the size of the Second World War.
In the second part I concluded that individual energy reductions are helpful and satisfying, but achieve insignificant reduction in the US GHG emission.
Secondly, to make significant impact on GHG Congress must make many mandatory laws such as conservation laws and also forcing most GHG emitters to reduce their emissions.
We are not creating effective political pressure on Congress at present to make these laws. The House passed bill is a compromised so diluted to attract support, it is ineffective and would not bring us to the targets needed to slow global warming noticeably. The Senate pending bills may be even worse.
Creating effective political pressure requires sophisticated, systematic ways. Experience demonstrates that a relatively small number of active people can create significant counterbalance to the powerful influence of lobbyists on members of Congress. Most of us do not create pressure our Congressional delegation. And the grassroots pressure by environmental groups is ineffective.
How do I know this, I organized pressure on Congress for a decade on another liberal issue. I directed a citizen lobbying effort in several states concurrently as head of a national organization "TARGET CONGRESS" and it was successful when we did it with dedication.
People can influence some of their Congresspersons. Especially those who are on the margin (swings), those that are not yet sure how to respond to GW. We can not wait until the damage to our climate is so obvious that they will finally act. It could be too late.
Let's look at Congress quickly:
Many things that I will be saying here may apply to most members of Congress, obviously not all; some are outstanding.
All politics is local, said the famous leader of the House Tip O'Neill. We need to accept that and build our pressure on that fact.
The most powerful force influencing members of Congress is their desire for power. It is intoxicating. Think about it, each member of the House "represents" the desire of three quarter of a million Americans!
Their desire for power keeps them running for office again and again despite the extremely difficult demands on them and their families.
To retain their seats they will do many things to satisfy the people in power in their region. Congresspeople actually believe that they are doing the best for the majority of their constituents even when they vote for the sheer benefits of the selected few.
Most members of Congress vote according to their needs for reelection. To continue to retain their powerful position.
I have seen it in action; I have met privately with several and talked to the staff of more of them. We all know that, we have seen it again and again.
One of the key tools they need for reelection is the short, 30 seconds TV ads. These ads cost millions and that is why they have to seek vast amount of financial support for their reelection. The extreme Left and Right voters are not influenced much by ads. The targets of these ads are the undecided voters.
Without going further into the complexity of the election process, let's see what pressure is exerted now by us, the people who believe GW is dangerous to humanity.
Here is the limited way many environmental groups are lobbying Congress now:
1. Environmental organizations together have millions of members and have a total budget of hundreds of millions. Considering the potential power we have there we have achieved very little because very few members do any thing politically.
2. Each organization has its own lobbyists that work hard and diligently to educate members of Congress on the energy and global warming issues. But, they are not backed up by noticeable pressure on Congress from their own members.
Environmental organizations are using mass emailing techniques most of the time. They send emails to their supporters and ask them to click to send automatic email to their Congress members. The idea is to make it very easy to supporters to act, since most do not.
Congress members ignore this type of mass emailing since these auto emails are externally motivated and do not represent the individual and ingrained views of their constituents.
When I discussed this with a very high level staff of a national environmental group he justified this ineffective technique by saying that it helps the organization find potential activists and to raise more money.
Sometimes environmental organizations suggest that you use your own words instead of the canned message. It has little impact too since the Congressional staff receiving the messages can easily see that this is an organized effort. These auto emails are better than nothing, but not by much.
And here is a sad example of wasted efforts:
V.P. Al Gore, which I respect and admire, heads an organization: Repower America. What they do lately with great fanfare is putting your views on a common video site. It is personally satisfying but this does not pressure Congress members to action.
There is a significant difference between something sounding good and being good.
Here is what we need to do now:
We must focus our grassroots pressure on our own members of the House and the Senate. We must pressure them by individual methods on a regular basis. Tell them to vote to reduce GHG drastically and soon.
Since very few people are doing it, your combined effort suggested below represent to the Congressional staff the views of a thousand inactive people.
When you get an alert by email, or when it is on your mind, instead of taking the easy way out, force yourself to make very brief personal phone calls to your two senators and House member.
Call their Washington DC office.
And call their district office.
And write a one paragraph letter to these two locations.
And send a brief personal email to their DC and local offices -separately.
They do not correlate all of these messages and will count them as if coming from many people.
Motivate others to do the same.
This 20 minutes effort, once or twice a month, is more effective than the mass emailing and other less political methods we now used.
And that is a little price to pay to fight global warming.
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