09/12/2012 06:18 pm ET Updated Nov 12, 2012

Concerned Voices Create Change


Last week, I was over at a friend's house, when I went into her kitchen to get a glass of water. In her trash basket were glass bottles, a newspaper, and an unwashed metal tin from a take-out order. "Don't you separate your recyclables?" I asked her. "No," she replied, without apparent concern. As I went into my environmental rap, she tried to short-circuit the conversation with the rationale, "I don't have to recycle. Someone else will do it."

Unfortunately, whether it is recycling, fighting for clean air, or talking about the importance of climate change, too many people think that someone else is going to take on the task.

Making a change in the environment begins on a granular level. I was excited to see that the college my son is attending as a freshman this fall has an "office of sustainability." He was given a booklet on how to put "sustainable living into action." Residential students act as Eco-Reps, and are on-site to raise awareness and encourage environmentally friendly behavior.

So how do we get those who are set in their ways on board?

It's a continuous struggle, but there are signs that a subtle shift is taking place. Extreme weather conditions this summer has made the public sit up and take notice, and begin to question if perhaps there is something that needs to be done.

In writing for Mom's Clean Air Force for over a year, I have noticed a new trend in readers' comments. Many still want to kick the can down the road on fossil fuel usage or insist that green solutions are anathema to a vibrant economy. However, a majority realizes that there is a bigger picture, and as dramatic as it sounds, it includes the survival of the planet.

Having read my posts for Mom's Clean Air Force, writer and poet Laurence Overmire reached out to me several months ago to blurb his book, The One Idea That Saves The World: A Call to Conscience and a Call to Action. I felt an immediate affinity to his work's premise. He states: "Our world is on fire and on the verge of collapse; what are each of us willing to do about it?" Overmire asks the question of how do we galvanize the community to do what is necessary and right? In his poem, "The House is on Fire," Overmire outlines the differences between citizens and how they react to an opportunity to save the house -- "Mother Earth." Responses include ignorance, indifference, panic, action, opportunism, and malfeasance. He asks, "Which person are you?"

Taking care of the earth is getting picked up by organizations that stress the moral aspect of protecting our environment. Just as Mom's Clean Air has asked the presidential candidates to let the voters know where they stand on eco-concerns, the Friends Committee on National Legislation is encouraging a mobilization around House Resolution 672, introduced by Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.). The resolution calls on House representatives to recognize the science of climate change and that its impacts pose unacceptable risks to the health, safety, and welfare of current and future generations. The call is to enact policies that address climate change causes and consequences.

I spoke with Jose Aguto from FCNL about the initiative. He told me:

"If we don't ask candidates from both parties -- in a nonpartisan fashion and on a moral dimension -- during this election season to address the climate crisis, then what compels them to place it on their agenda? The public is not telling their representatives to address climate change. Yet, as extreme and unusual weather becomes 'the norm' -- that is changing. We need to channel this increasing concern into strong voices to the candidates now, so that the next Congress will address the climate crisis with attention and purpose it deserves."

It's not too late to change a habit, become proactive, or have your voice heard. Don't count on somebody else to do the right thing.

Do it yourself.

This article originally appeared on the website Mom's Clean Air Force