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Taken from Huffington Post (Apr 25, 2009)

Time for Passion and Strategy on Climate Change


Ok, here's the deal. I remember reading that when President Obama was a community leader, he became somewhat disenchanted with the relatively modest gains he was able to achieve. That's when he decided to go to law school, and perhaps that's when he began seriously considering the importance of politics for enacting REAL change. I understand where he's coming from and although I love being a socially conscious musician, I see that more can be done. That's my main reason for joining forces with CARE, the international poverty-fighting organization, and why I'm REALLY looking forward to taking part in CARE's National Conference which is all about changing U.S. policy to improve marginalized communities around the world. I've seen enough during my world travels to know what works.


During my travels in Iraq, Israel, Gaza, Brazil, Indonesia, Japan, Europe and all over the United States, I have seen and heard the voices of people who want change. They want the stabilization of the economy, education and healthcare for all, renewable energy and an environmental vision with an eye on generations to come. We've got to get this message through to the policy-makers in Washington, DC.


One of the most important issues of our time surely has to be climate change. In case you haven't noticed wherever you are in the world, the weather is changing. In some places, summers are hotter and longer. In other places winters are longer and colder. The rainy season is resulting in flooding the likes of which have never before been seen in some regions of the world. And of course there are the droughts plaguing other regions. All of this has serious implications for agricultural production--literally who eats or doesn't eat. There are consequences for disease. Not only does research prove that prevention and preparedness work, but so does real action and on-the-ground experience. When you invest in community disaster risk reduction during the dry season, you can literally see the difference it makes during the rainy season when the floods come.


Over the past 50 years, changes in the climate have occurred at an alarming rate, above and beyond what scientists consider natural. This is a fact, not a theory. Human activities have resulted in negative consequences. And it is also a fact that while poor people around the world are the least responsible for causing climate change, they are already bearing the brunt. The U.S. has historically been the world's largest contributor to climate change. What we do now will save money down the road, because the longer we delay, the worse it gets.


If we do not change our negative habits toward climate change, we can count on worldwide disruptions in food production, resulting in mass migration, refugee crises and increased conflict over scarce natural resources like water and farm land. This is a recipe for major security problems. Now is the time to act.


It's sort of like when you own a home and you discover that you have termites. You can do nothing but you know those buggers are not going away until you act. They will keep munching at the foundation of your house until it is totally destroyed or way too expensive to even think about repairing.


We can all take pride in the fact that the U.S. has always been a world leader. On this issue we are not out there on a limb by ourselves. Even developing countries like China, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa, have demonstrated willingness to be part of the solution. The U.S. could bring all countries together around shared goals and responsibilities.


When I'm on Capitol Hill next month with several hundred of my fellow advocates at the CARE National Conference and Celebration, we hope to drive home the point to the Congress that they must commit to passing legislation that positively impacts the world's poorest and most vulnerable people. Even if we stopped all emissions today, we still need to deal with consequences of past actions, which have set in motion longer-term changes.


Investing now in safe-guarding people by helping them to adapt to climate change, will help save money and lives while building resilience. History shows that Americans believe in doing the right thing. Collectively, we activists are essential to advancing U.S. policy to help empower marginalized people to lift themselves and their communities out of poverty for good. The world can't have a global solution to climate change with U.S. action alone; and the world can't have a global solution without U.S. action. It's up to us to set the bar.

 
 

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