Monday, September 10, 2012

Is It Time for a Climate Crisis Summit in Chicago?

On Sunday, September 9, a group met in Chicago to discuss the climate crisis and what people in Chicago can do about it. One focus of the discussion was a possible large-scale event in Chicago in the near future. A follow-up meeting was scheduled for September 23, 2012, from 2-4 p.m. (Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State St., 7th Floor NE study room) and it is open to the community.

POSSIBLE SUMMIT SPECIFICS and organizational issues


Introductions and Sign-in

World Can't Wait initiated this meeting to plan a summit to take place in Chicago (exact location/date TBD). Environmentalists, activists, faith leaders, community groups, human rights organizations, scientists, students, and anyone else committed to stopping global warming will be invited to a grassroots climate crisis summit.

Our proposed framework for the Climate Crisis Summit:
1) What are the causes of the climate crisis we face?
2) What actions are commensurate with this crisis?

Goals for a Climate Crisis Summit:
To present a range of analyses and understandings so we learn from each other
To present a range of action plans and strategies so we can better work together in the future

We believe that a climate crisis summit can attract both activists and (non-activist) people who are concerned - even distraught - about the devastation of our planet but have not seen a way to act to stop it. By coming together, we can form a network in this area and a foundation for coordinated actions, locally and even nationally.

Everyone (groups and individuals) are invited to share your thoughts on these proposals and present your own ideas for speakers, workshops, etc.

Venue and Date for the Summit?

Next Steps?


We had a wide ranging discussion of the causes of the climate crisis:
  • CO2 - from industry - global, industrial farming
  • assumption that man has "dominion" over earth. (Biblical -- and its interpretation by the political Right.)
  • growth and what is definition of "quality living"
  • growth driven by profit and competition
  • economy dependent on growth model (world economy)
  • media blackout on climate change
  • Terminology matters: it's not just climate "change" (which can be neutral); it's climate disruption (which is negative)
  • . . . and it's accelerating
  • message being blocked. (It's not in the weather on TV news.)
  • our inability to see that we're the problem (a sociological problem)
  • little things (high-efficiency lightbulbs) -- are they a distraction? (people make different types of contributions - small okay too)
  • people omit the human contribution to the causes
  • faith in technology - "We'll just invent our way out of this problem!"
  • corporate roots VERY POWERFUL and influence environmental groups


We discussed some possible responses that would be appropriate to the causes of the climate crisis:
  • outreach to environmental groups in Chicago
  • cap on carbon tax
  • what would amplify???
  • a debate needs to happen
  • get into college communities
  • convey the urgency (example: ACT UP!!)
  • pressure from nature groups and public opinion
  • go beyond "politics as usual"
  • build an alternative - radically different - that addresses a crisis
  • overcoming capitalism

POSSIBLE SUMMIT SPECIFICS and organizational issues

At the meeting, we discussed some possible summit specifics:
  • A summit or convocation that could serve as a place to share points of view and mobilize for future actions
  • The formation of a larger movement with many groups acting in unison as opposed to compartmentalized efforts
  • A large-scale Earth Day event (April 22) This would be a mass gathering -- similar to the 150,000 who gathered in Grant Park in 1990? -- commensurate with the crisis that we are facing. All were excited about this idea.
  • A proposal was made to have a climate crisis summit prior to the Earth Day event. The summit would serve the purpose of energizing people for the big Earth Day event and help to educate and mobilize people and to build our network.
  • Have big name speakers for a summit. This would be extremely helpful in attracting people to attend (for example, a speaker like Amy Goodman.) Speakers would be accompanied by workshops and panels and the summit would be an all-day event with dinner and possibly take place at a university.
  • We agreed that our network will be a grassroots network not sponsored by one group but with all participating groups sharing a voice and planning together. Our network could be named "Climate Crisis Chicago".
  • We agreed that we need to set up a website/blog for our network organizers and a listserve.


November 28, 2012, Chicago - Athenaeum Theater - Bill McKibben/Naomi Klein appearance (7 p.m.)

Mid-long term/Global
Jan 6-10, 2013, Austin, TX - 25th Conference on Climate Variability and Change
March 18 - 20, 2013, Hamburg - European Climate Change Adaptation Conference 2013
May 27-29, 2013, Montreal - 3rd Climate Change Conference
Sept. 11 – 13, 2013, Singapore - World Federation of Engineering Associations (WFEO) general assembly conference on “Innovative and Sustainable Solutions to Climate Change” meeting


Chicago/Illinois/Midwest groups connected to climate issues
Alliance for the Great Lakes
Chicago Clean Power Coalition (PERO)
Illinois Environmental Council
Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS)

National/International groups connected to climate issues
National Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
Rainforest Action Network
Sierra Club


Global Warming's Terrifying New Math: Three simple numbers that add up to global catastrophe - and that make clear who the real enemy is - by Bill McKibben, founder of, in Rolling Stone. In this article, which went viral on the Internet during the summer of 2012, McKibben wrote, "We have five times as much oil and coal and gas on the books as climate scientists think is safe to burn. We'd have to keep 80 percent of those reserves locked away underground to avoid that [catatrosphic temperature increases]."

"Is Humanity Pushing Earth Past a Tipping Point?", (Wired) - In "Approaching a state shift in Earth’s biosphere," published June 6 in Nature, Barnosky and 21 co-authors cite 100 papers in summarizing what’s known about environmental tipping points.

"The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic" (New York Times) As a result of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, Richard A. Muller and colleagues conclude that "average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases."

"State of EMERGENCY! The Plunder of Our Planet, The Environmental Catastrophe & The Real Revolutionary Solution" - (REVOLUTION - Special Issue on the Environment) This special issue of Revolution focuses on the environmental emergency that now faces humanity and earth’s ecosystems. This emergency has many dimensions: the destruction and fragmentation of forests and other natural habitats, making the survival of many species of plants and animals impossible; the acidification, degradation and spreading of dead zones (areas in which there is no life) in oceans; a great extinction (wiping out) of species on the lands, lakes and rivers, and in the seas; large-scale pollution and degradation of water, air and soils; and now, the real threat of unstoppable climate change . . . .

Season of Creation — Sky Sunday, by Pastor Erik Christensen, St. Luke's Logan Square, Chicago. "As those who have been given stewardship of the earth, not dominion over it, humanity is both uniquely able and responsible for prioritizing the care and restoration of earth and sea and sky."


  1. The award winning documentary "Chasing Ice" will be playing at the Music Box Theater in Chicago, Nov. 16-20. This film confronts the climate crisis. Its producer made the award winning documentary "The Cove". Below is a synopsis.


    Chasing Ice

    In the spring of 2005, National Geographic photographer James Balog headed to the Arctic on a tricky assignment: to capture images to help tell the story of the Earth’s changing climate. Even with a scientific upbringing, Balog had been a skeptic about climate change and a cynic about the nature of academic research. But that first trip north opened his eyes to the biggest story in human history and sparked a challenge within him that would put his career and his very well-being at risk.

    Chasing Ice is the story of one man’s mission to change the tide of history by gathering undeniable evidence of our changing planet. Within months of that first trip to Iceland, the photographer conceived the boldest expedition of his life: The Extreme Ice Survey. With a band of young adventurers in tow, Balog began deploying revolutionary time-lapse cameras across the brutal Arctic to capture a multi-year record of the world’s changing glaciers.

    As the debate polarizes America and the intensity of natural disasters ramps up globally, Balog finds himself at the end of his tether. Battling untested technology in subzero conditions, he comes face to face with his own mortality. It takes years for Balog to see the fruits of his labor. His hauntingly beautiful videos compress years into seconds and capture ancient mountains of ice in motion as they disappear at a breathtaking rate. Chasing Ice depicts a photographer trying to deliver evidence and hope to our carbon-powered planet.

  2. Fighting Bob Fest: Featured Speaker Bill McKibben

    This Sat., Sept. 15th, is Fighting Bob Fest in Madison, Wisconsin. This is an annual event for progressives. One of the featured speakers will be Bill McKibben. He will also be doing a breakout session on climate change. For details go to
    About 10,000 are expected this year.