“If you want civilization to flourish, you must think seven generations ahead.”
On the seventh floor of the Eventbrite headquarters in San Francisco, the screening of Momenta was scheduled. Being above the hustle and bustle of the city streets, there was a feeling of a grassroots movement. The 2014 – 2015 season will historically be up there with the worst winters on record. One of the biggest impacts was felt just east of San Francisco in the Sierras. This showing was eerily like an omen. Almost like these types of winters will become more typical in the near future. That is, unless we make a drastic change.
The crowd mingled and strangers became friends. As a host jumped onto the stage the gathering hushed while he introduced himself. Being a surfer and environmentalist he jokingly remarked that the event needed someone to wear a derby hat and no one else would step up to such a challenge. He thanked the sold out audience for coming and introduced the two people responsible for making the film: Andy Miller and Robin Moore. When both of these environmental stewards found out about the state of affairs in Montana and Wyoming, they used their own money, flew to the coal fields to learn more. With only the trailer filmed, they desperately needed more money to complete the project. The duo turned to Kickstarter and began a campaign in hopes of raising the funds needed for their production. It almost didn’t happen. Most have no idea how close the movie was to not even being made. Thanks to a couple kind hearted generous souls who donated the remaining funds in the final hours, Momenta was a go!
It was apparent from the beginning that this wasn’t a typical documentary. It seemed more like an introduction to the beginning of a revolution. An opportunity to make a stand as a global civilization to start moving forward. In the early part of the film the commentator stated Chief Seattle said, “if you want civilization to flourish you must think seven generations ahead.” This statement personally rocked me to the core. These simple words instantly put things into perspective…Sure, the climate may be ok now, during our time on this planet, but what about future generations? Shouldn’t they have an opportunity to enjoy what we get to enjoy?
Next, the film went into the crux of the current problem. Coal companies are proposing to mine coal in the Powder River Basin in Montana / Wyoming and export it to China where it will be burned. The only way to get it to China is by transporting it through the Columbia River Gorge to the ocean ports in the Pacific Northwest. To get the amount of coal proposed to be mined and exported, twelve ocean ports will need to be expanded to support the volume.
So, why should this matter?
From a global perspective, scientists consider that 500 gigatonnes (GtC) of Carbon released into the atmosphere is the tipping point for global warming. The point of no return. In the Powder River Basin alone, there is enough coal to produce 1,200 GtC. To add another perspective, the dreaded Keystone Pipeline contains only 150 GtC. If you think this is a China problem unfortunately you are wrong. The concentration of Co2 gas in the air is the same around the world. No matter who burns it, it will be bad for EVERYONE.
“There isn’t even a profit to be made for polluting the world?!?”
If this is bad globally what happens locally?
- Current mining operations use a million gallons of water a day… The coal companies have promised to clean up the lands, but instead the aquifers are running dry
- The coal being exported would be run at a loss. There isn’t even a profit to be made for polluting the world?!? How can that be?
- Government provided subsidies.
- Over the course of its journey from the mine to the sea-port each train will lose over 31 tons of coal.
- This means 205,000 tons / year
- The fine ash that is lost in transport in the Columbia River Valley will cause the following issues
- Irritate asthma sufferers and cause respiratory issues
- The ash will end up in the water affecting the carb, herring, and salmon industries
- Negatively affect the tourism, culture, and small businesses
- Once the coal gets to the seaport it will take each vessel over 9 million gallons of crude to transport it to China.
The movie really highlighted the fact this wouldn’t affect the wealthy, but the poor that live by these train lines. It wouldn’t just affect the weather, but also all the businesses… and the overall amount of jobs available would be reduced.
There is hope for planet earth!
After hearing such dismal news, it’s difficult to really feel that we can make a difference. Well, there is hope to fight climate change. At the end of the evening the Q & A session with Andy Miller, Robin Moore, Barbara Weber, and Dyllan Sullivan brought that glimmer of hope. First, the awareness of this issue has reduced the amount of possible seaports to ship coal from twelve to two. Second, Dylan Sullivan from the NRDC, is actually seeing progress being made to combat climate change. Due to the Clean air act being passed for the first time ever, the U.S. has begun monitoring and regulating greenhouse emissions. With this change in mindset and leading by example we were able to secure an agreement with China to reduce their own emissions. This isn’t the only legislation that has passed. There are new laws that are targeting to reduce the air pollution by 1/3. Finally, the biggest in this war is the fact that in 2014 the global greenhouse emissions have not grown. This is the first time ever that this has happened when we were not in a depression. Of course, this doesn’t mean the fight is done, but rather we need to continue to push further as a global community. An example of gathering together is the Protect Our Winters organization. Barbara Weber introduced the company and provided how it started. Jeremy Jones saw that in the 62 billion dollar winter sports industry not a single company was advocating to help fight climate change. This is where P.O.W. began.
What can we do?
This is a big obstacle that affects everyone so how can one person help? Buying a BMW i3 or Tesla won’t solve the problem. The answer is strength in numbers! We all need to get involved in the political process. This means we must vote and push our leaders:
- By signing petitions against things that would affect our climate
- Call your senator and tell them how important global warming is to you
- Finally, join organizations such as Protect Our Winters
There are companies that provide these politicians with large amounts of money, but if enough people stand up and oppose what’s happening, change will occur. It is our duty as Americans and citizens of this world to speak let our voice be heard. Join Protect Our Winters and help fight climate change!