The United States might not have an international reputation as a leader in the fight against climate change, but on Saturday a few hundred San Franciscans came out to Crissy Field to tell the world that times are changing.
Environmental groups declared December 6th the Global Day of Action, selected, as it has been for the last three years, to coincide with the United Nations climate talks. This year’s talks are currently taking place in Poznan, Poland.
Organized by Greenpeace, the crowd in San Francisco held up a 50 x 30 ft “postcard” that read: “Dear World Leaders, We are ready to save the climate! Yes we can!” against the backdrop of the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.
A helicopter flew overhead at 1 p.m., taking photos of the banner and the crowd. Ben Smith, Greenpeace’s National Organizer for Global Warming, said that the group plans to send the photos to delegates at the talks in Poznan (it’s gotta be cheaper than sending the postcard) as a symbol that despite the last eight years of inaction, Americans are serious about finding solutions for climate change.
“We are at a really significant point in history now, after eight years of the Bush Administration denying global warming and dismantling the UN process for stopping it,” said Smith. “The door has swung wide open, and we have the opportunity to solve the problem.”
Boston, Chicago, San Diego, Palm Beach, and several other cities across the country held similar demonstrations, said Anna Wagner, Greenpeace Global Warming Senior Organizer.
“We are trying to put pressure on our leaders to pass strong science-based solutions to global warming,” said Wagner. “The United States is key to stopping global warming, and we are sending a message to the Obama Administration that this is a number one priority for Americans.”
Many environmentalists are optimistic about Obama’s plans to invest billions in alternative energy and to place mandatory caps on greenhouse gases across the country similar to those already mandated in California. As we have reported here, Obama recently said in his video address to the Governors’ Climate Summit that he will work for “a new era of global cooperation on climate change.”
But some are raising questions about whether Obama’s plans go far enough. A recent article in Time Magazine cites a November 12th International Energy Agency (IAE) report projecting that a $26 trillion investment in power-supply needs will be needed to address a 45 percent increase in the demand for energy between 2006 and 2030, if no new government policies are enacted.
It appears that Obama will promote new policies that may mitigate this scenario but the challenge may be greater than it was a few months ago. With half a million jobs lost last month and regular gasoline at $1.69 a gallon in San Francisco, large scale investment in new low-carbon industries might be a harder sell.