In November the Woolsey Fire exploded, roaring through the mountains in which I live. My wife, two year old son and dog jumped in the car with a few family photos and joined over 250,000 others in a mass evacuation, a line of cars chased by a cloud of apocalyptic smoke and the largest fire in the history of Los Angeles.
Now that our atmosphere has more carbon in it than at any time in the last 800,000 years, terrifying weather events are unfolding around the world every day.
We are in the midst of a global climate emergency, and governments are doing far too little to address it.
The good news is that activist groups are starting to change that.
In the UK, Extinction Rebellion gathered protestors who shut down Marble Arch, Oxford Circus, Waterloo Bridge, Piccadilly Circus and Parliament Square in London in a successful effort to get the British government to declare a climate emergency.
Protestors also gathered in New York City to demand a climate emergency be declared — and they succeeded.
“This is not the time to be realistic, this is the time for humanity to completely change course,” Gail Bradbrook, a co-founder, told the BBC. “This is not about fiddling around the edges, and adding a few solar panels to a few roofs; we have left it so late that we have to step up in a semi-miraculous way to deal with this situation.”
Extinction Rebellion’s main demands are that governments “tell the truth about climate change”; zero carbon emissions by 2025; and that government create citizen-led assemblies to oversee climate policy.
The student strikes led by the amazing Greta Thunberg have also caught the world’s attention.
This highly decentralized grassroots movement of mothers, fathers, students, academics, business leaders, government officials and others should be welcomed and applauded. They are a desperately needed wake-up call for a society that seems to be sleep-walking toward climate catastrophe.
And they need funding. That’s where the Climate Emergency Fund comes in.
Soon Aileen Getty, Rory Kennedy, Sarah Ezzy and I will announce the launch of a new fund to catalyze hundreds — if not thousands — of new climate activist groups.
Guided by an advisory board that includes Bill McKibben, David Wallace-Wells the Climate Emergency Fund is already providing grants to activists who are taking a non-violent, disruptive approach to the climate emergency. Grants are available in three levels — for those just getting started (like high school or college groups) and for larger organizations.
The world’s philanthropists need to wake up to the reality that a gradualist approach to the climate emergency is doomed to fail.
The truth is that this is an emergency and philanthropists need to act like that truth is real.