People get ready, there’s a train a-comin’
Don’t need no ticket, just get on board
Curtis Mayfield
Article Below by our Green Team Lead: Susan Francis
formatting assist from Joe Heneghan
All A Board the Green DuPage Democrats Train!
DuPage Democrats--a force to be reckoned with in 2019—welcome to the first newsletter of our new Green Team. It is fortunate for us all that our past work has led us to become a formidable force, given this turning point in time.  

As we are all busy, and with the attention span of a twitter post (though undoubtedly better than that of our President), please, do read along though this is a longer piece than those you are accustomed to these days. Skip ahead if need be, but please, stay with us as this is an impactful plan.

As right now, today, we desperately need use our force to slow the uncontrolled climate change train barreling down the tracks, right at us all.  With cars carrying dangerously endangered species, water and soil loss, environmental toxicity and oceanic devastation, all in tow. While the conductor (most of our public and politicians) sits asleep at the wheel.

There is imminent peril.  There is abundant promise. IF we all act urgently within the eleven years the United Nations Climate Team tells us we have left to stop climate catastrophe. If we get on board and use the organizing skills that we have developed, we can still turn that train around to a sustainable destination for us all.  And if you read on, you will see specific ways we in DPDC can make an impact in ways that other groups lack.

Some of you are super savvy green-prenuers or elected officials. Some of you are activists. Some of you simply care deeply but don’t know what to do; some of you are new to planting your toes on green soil but are willing to give it a try. 

Whoever or wherever you are on the green spectrum, in some way, we need EVERY ONE OF YOU, EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.  
THE PERIL
Because our biggest job is to truly grasp, and help others do the same, that we have this eleven years left for the survival of existing life on the planet.  An almost inconceivable threat. Scary to how we live our lives, scary to our country. 

Especially here at home, the problem is that life is sweet in DuPage. Right?!?! Sure we have our flooding, our rain bombs, an occasional tornado or polar vortex and some power outages.

While those are not minor, we are nonetheless fortunate that here, we seldom see utter devastation of entire ecosystems, cities, farms and forests. We do not hear the cries for help, see the animals burned or drowned, watch those who have no water, power, shelter or food for extended periods of time, struggle to survive.  

Our challenge at least for now, is instead to make all of that real to all of us. Before it hits us too. Then get out ahead of the curve of that train to turn around before it is too late for all.

Our deeply codependent, and abusive, relationship with the fossil fuel industry has led us down these tracks. An industry that lied to us about climate change from decades back, much like the tobacco industry, and of late, opioid producers. The difference is that the fossil fuel industry is the wealthiest and most powerful ever to exist on the earth. An industry that spends millions per minute (yup, per minute) on lobbying congressional leaders. That, combined with the Citizen’s United Ruling allowing unbridled influence, has led us to this precarious place, perched on the edge of existence.

THE PROMISE
We do understand, this problem can now seem insurmountable. Especially with Climate-Denier-In-Chief firmly planted in White House soil. But we begin our own journey with that of Greta Thunberg. Our modern Gandhi, Mandala or King, for climate. And proof positive that no matter how small, all of us can make a difference.

Greta’s epic activism, leading the largest global action on climate, was designed to highlight the United Nations meet on climate this week. She shows us, we too can make America Green again… or Greta Again! Because Hillary’s theme “Stronger Together,” is true! And trumps all of those outdated MAGA hats out there.

We therefore begin by stepping further out to look at the global stage, then zoom back in to our DuPage part to play.
OUR INSPIRATION
That sixteen year old Swedish, incredibly savvy, incredibly courageous, Greta Thunberg rode a mighty train (well, actually a solar powered sailboat) to lead climate strikes globally. Drawing out an estimated and unprecedented 4 million around the world, she is succeeding in attracting attention to the utter urgency of the issue.  

At age 15, Greta began sitting alone on the steps of the Swedish Parliament with sign that said a School Strike for Climate!  Alone, and ridiculed still, she persevered. Greta felt there was no reason to study with an apocalyptic future looming.  

Slowly, slowly other Swedes joined her to invoke action there. And then?  Other children, from all around the world, joined in, taking time off school to climate strike in the Fridays for the Future movement. She then went on to enlist environmental organizations, celebrities, politicians and ultimately, the United Nations, in her cause to stop the climate crisis.

Greta is in New York now, intoning, indicting, imploring world leaders to get real, get woke. Because by their own annual UN Climate Report last year have that aforementioned 11 years, maybe, to stop the impending climate catastrophe.  

After that time, scientists tell us it will simply be too late. We all need to get on board her train. Now. Today. Yesterday already.
Why???
OUR PROBLEMS
Many of you know the facts and we don’t want to drown you in statistics. So here are a top six of climate change’s greatest hits from this summer alone:

  • The Amazon burned like never before. The lungs of our planet, up in smoke for reckless cattle farming (to feed our fast food addictions) and more, all while sustainable development is available. Due to the richness of life in the Amazon, plant species went extinct, and an estimated billion animals died, in the most horrible way.
  • Similarly, the Artic burned in places, melted in others, at unprecedented rates. For the first time, there is no sea ice in Alaska this summer, and temperatures in the region hit record highs.
  • July was the warmest month on record. Ever.
  • Hurricanes are forming below an on our coasts almost relentlessly. Hurricane Dorian destroyed parts of the Bahamas permanently and our coastal areas (although note: NOT Alabama!) are taking a relentless beating.
  • A new study from Cornell University found that we have lost a staggering 3 billion birds since 1970. That’s 3 billion less beaks to spread seeds, pollinate plants, eat insects and generally support entire ecosystems. This is a catastrophic loss.
  • More systemically speaking: While temperatures change, fish, birds and mammals are migrating at changing times. Which means that their food sources are not yet in place, the places they reproduce are not prepared and the entire planetary time clock is off, its immune and reproductive systems impaired.
OUR SOLUTIONS
So to bring it back to DuPage fellow Democrats, what then do we do?? How do we be effective in our work in DuPage towards a global crisis? And why have a green team when there are so many other pressing issues: healthcare, gun control, immigration, opioids…?

The first answer is: plenty. We can do plenty, even, maybe especially, at the local level:

  1. We need to get our green candidates elected across the board, top of the ballot to the bottom. Fortunately, we have many excellent choices here! While DPDC is not endorsing anyone during the primaries, we urge you to get to know them, canvas for them, contribute to them, and vote for them.
  2. We can support excellent climate and planet related legislation at every level of our governance.  
  3. We can sign petitions, attend events and act effectively as a group.
  4. We can practice sustainable living in our individual lives. Together, we make an enormous impact.  
  5. We can talk with friends and neighbors.

Fortunately, the tide is on our side.  Have you all seen the latest polling on climate change? A long-awaited sea change is taking place. According to a recent Washington Post Kaiser Family Foundation poll, a surprising 8 in 10 now believe that human activities fueling climate change, and roughly half believe action is urgently needed within the next decade if we are to avert its worst effects. Nearly 4 in 10 now say climate change is a “crisis,” up from less than a quarter five years ago.

Moreover, our DPDC chair, Cynthia Borbas, tells us that DPDC internal polling reflects the same, rating climate change of even more importance than health care here in DuPage.
Next. In answer to why a climate team, not a gun or immigration, etc. team among the DPDC?  First of all, any of those teams would be great! We hope you will engage in those critical issues and more.

The reason, however, to begin with a climate team is this truth: the climate crisis must inform all that we do politically. In all areas. From now on. (Joe can you also box that out somewhere?)

Yet we get overwhelmed. Not only from the endless influence of fossil fuels and our accustomed ways of life. Consider the surveys that all of us have answered: What issue is most important issue to you, the voter, healthcare, guns, jobs, climate, etc. etc. etc.   

The problem with that?  ALL of those other issues only exist within this thin biosphere that sustains all of life on the planet.  

Still, we need, and our candidates need, to understand it is not enough to rejoin the Paris Climate Accords if we democrats are reelected, or to pass climate legislation. As every single department, office and action needs to relate to the climate: agriculture, commerce, health, finance, most certainly homeland and national security and more.  And the same in our personal lives.

The good thing is, this is a wedge issue. All kinds of folks live in DuPage because they like the air, the traffic, the forest preserves. And all kinds of those folks are not (yet) Democrats. If we get our messaging to address their concerns we can reach across the aisle, even in such divisive times.

Point is the more this comprehensive awareness sinks into each of us, the more we can spread that awareness in all that we do and to all whom we speak with.  

WE ARE ALL CLIMATE AMBASSADORS AND ACTIVISTS IN OUR DAILY LIVES, TO POTENTIAL GREAT EFFECT.
OUR POWER SPECIFICALLY AS DPDC
DuPage Dems, we have grown. We now have over 16,000 folks on our newsletter!  With yet more outreach through our increasingly effective social media. plans are in place to expand of all that and more in our outreach heading into 2020.

So now, we are in a unique position. Other excellent organizations like Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, Alliance for the Great Lakes and countless others have skilled staff and large outreach.  

But none of them can equal our membership numbers here in DuPage and so the impact our involvement can make on specific issues here. And in other areas, if our work here catches on to other Democratic chapters.
SPECIFIC CASE STUDY IN DUPAGE
A relatively small but growing group called the DuPage Clean Energy Coalition, has been working to get all of our townships to sign onto resolutions calling for 100% renewable energy by 2030. That date is actually modest and agreed upon by scientific studies. Fortunately, with the help of our numbers and bills now in our state legislature, it is utterly doable.

A handful of devoted folks from a variety townships have made determined progress towards that end. Only to ultimately meet a brick wall somewhere inside city hall.  

But together, WE can change all of that.

Here’s how: let’s remember the excellent organizing done by Irfan Ibrahim, who was a candidate for Forest Preserve Commissioner last fall.  When faced with the construction of an enormous trucking facility to be built right at the rim of Waterfall Glen last year, Irfan hopped on creating effective petitions on Change.org, and then followed by lobbying members of the Darien city council. 

The result?  Irfan had a David and Goliath like victory over this potentially billion dollar investment... an investment that would have come with incalculable consequences.  All with the strength of this our support.

You can see that if many of us sign petitions asking our townships to move to 100% renewable energy, and utilize the support that will be available from pending legislation designed to make Illinois a national leader in clean energy; we can form a force hard to resist. Townships are more likely to respond to requests from 100, 1,000 much less 10,000 residents than they are to a handful of us at the door. Because they have to get elected here in the great USA… at least for now.  Because it will make financial sense. And because we will knock on their doors after we flood them with signatures.

This is but one example of our work on a community level. We also walk our talk in our lives. 

One example, and back to the billions of birds lost: just what you choose to do in your yards this fall can help our perilously endangered birds, our butterflies and our bees. We when all do it we are, once again, a force to be reckoned with.
YOU GREEN TEAM WILL LEAD THE CHALLENGE!
Stay tuned for details! Because as Democrats, we work effectively politically, collectively and as individuals.

Our green team will be doing all we can to inspire and inform your actions, enlist your support and ask what you need. We hope you will do the same in return!

You will be hearing more from us on policy and science, including, though not limited to:
  • what exactly climate change is and why it is so accelerated?
  • what does Cap and Trade mean?
  • What is a carbon tax and just what IS the Green New Deal?  
  • At the state level, what are bills such as the Clean Energy Jobs Act, Ready for 100 and more?

We will bring you top info from our elected officials, our candidates and leading experts in our area and our state. We will bring you tips on what you can do as a community and what you can do alone. Please always remember: WE ARE NOT HELPLESS.

But the time is NOW.  The UN beamed part of Greta’s speech onto their outdoor walls:

We can no longer save the world by playing by the rules. 
Because the rules have to be changed.
We need a system change, rather than individual change.
But you cannot have one without the other.
And so I ask you to please wake up and make the changes required possible.
To do your best is no longer enough.
We must all do the seemingly impossible.
Everything needs to change.
And it has to start today.
WE can do this also seemingly impossible task. We must.

Please. Join us. If you want to tell us what you want to learn about or what you can do, let us know!  Even better, if you want to join the climate team. Please respond to:  greenteam@dupagedemocrats.com, and use DPDC Climate Team in the subject line. Let’s ride this train together and Make America Greta Again!
Paid for by the Democratic Party of DuPage County, who continues the Fight for Economic Justice,
Civil Rights and Our Environment within DuPage & Beyond.