Climate MeetUp – December 2012

I thought I’d post the agenda and some discussion points from our meet-ups for people who attended to comment on and for those who didn’t to catch up. This is my first attempt to do so, so I welcome feedback (below in the comments would be great).

Date/Time: Dec 3, 5pm
Attending: Ginny, Larry, Ann, Carolyn, Mal, Ben, Rachel, Jill, Monica

Introductions: Two truths and a lie! Our intro tool. I (monica) did terrible — I accidentally did 1.25 lies, but everyone else was awesome. Some very intriguing facts came out that I want to know more about.

Hurricane Sandy: We watched a local news story about an Occupy Sandy flashmob documentary event and talked about the hurricane and relief efforts by Occupy Sandy. The 24-minute Josh Fox documentary is available here. We’d be happy to “screen” the film if folks would like to watch it together. Let us know below or email us and we’ll set something up.

Our conversation hit on the following important ideas:

  • It’s dangerous to focus on weather events when we talk about climate, we should focus on increasing temperatures
  • The importance of community as frequency of natural disasters increase. What do we do as a non-frontline community group to support our allies working on the frontlines?
  • Preparedness — we’re not prepared. This disaster illustrated that our cities need to do a lot more to prevent this kind of accident.
  • This illustrates the benefits of decentralized electricity. If energy were decentralized in the Sandy region, communities would decrease the amount of time their citizens were out of power.

Do the Math: Bill McKibben just wrapped up a 20-stop, sold-out tour across the country to explain the math behind climate change. The main point?

It’s simple math: we can burn less than 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide and stay below 2°C of warming — anything more than that risks catastrophe for life on earth. The only problem? Fossil fuel corporations now have 2,795 gigatons in their reserves, five times the safe amount. And they’re planning to burn it all — unless we rise up to stop them.

Our conversation hit on the following important ideas:

  • Will this campaign actually change what companies do? Or will other investors fill in what we pressure entities to divest?
  • UM divestment history? The University of Michigan divested in South Africa as well as more recently in tobacco
  • As a community group, we can help encourage other community groups to divest their investments from fossil fuels.
  • Another role: Education & Outreach — we can teach individuals, including employees of UM, how to understand what their investments are tied up in and what they can do to be more socially responsible.
  • Once we’ve done research, we can publish and share widely.
  • Next steps: Looking into TIAA-CREF, match with Morningstar

Other discussion:

  • Prop 3: Is there a way to pass a resolution that isn’t an amendment to the Constitution? Groups have been working on passing 25% by 2025 legislatively without luck. The goal of the ballot initiative was to illustrate that citizens support increasing renewable energy and — in so many Michigan communities — the initiative succeeded in this regard.
  • Decentralized energy: Real examples of people getting off the grid would be helpful for individuals and neighborhoods to figure out whether/how to do something like this.
  • Lighting: Why is there so much? Why is the UM Stadium lit all night long?
  • What to do in between meetings? How would people like to communicate re: research projects, group activities, flashmobbing, etc. in the times between our monthly meetings?

Future Climate MeetUps: Mondays are OK for folks and 1 hour a month works. We’ll meet again on January 14th at 5pm.

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