They say being superstitious brings you bad luck, but Saturday, 7-7-07, was a day that brought us all good fortune. It was the day that saw hundreds of millions of people from seven continents joining their hearts to confront the biggest challenge humanity has ever faced in modern history, global warming.
And the cement that glued all these hearts together was called Live Earth, a series of concerts, from Rio to Sydney, featuring 150 artists, such as Shakira, Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz, and related activities in 130 countries to raise world awareness about the urgency to tackle this global crisis.
The true impact of this planet-wide fiesta is still being determined, but we already know the massive participation via television, radio and the Internet turned it into history’s biggest entertainment event.
And one has but to think that for the Latino community, events such as this one are especially relevant because, for the overwhelming majority of us, taking care of our Earth is not only a family value but a religious one as well.
As the writer Cintra Wilson said on Salon.com, “By loving the planet, we can love ourselves, love each other — and literally save the world.”
This musical earthquake also made clear that big problems demand big solutions. Let’s not forget that we are betting on the natural legacy that we will leave to our children and grandchildren.
We must get to work, and fortunately, 7-7-07 is not the only piece of good news I have for you because the torrent of positive changes and events about our natural heritage seems to be unstoppable.
Let’s begin in the most unexpected places. The oil giant ConocoPhillips, one of the symbols of the opposition to fighting global warming, has acknowledged that we need mandatory caps on greenhouse-gas pollution.
Kansas City Power & Light has reached an agreement with the Sierra Club not to build any more coal-fired power plants and to reduce its carbon dioxide emission by 20% by 2020. These plants —the worst source of global warming pollution in the US— have already been banned in California and Idaho.
In Washington, meantime, Congress also seems to be energized after passing several brilliant initiatives. As part of a $27.6 billion appropriations bill for the agencies charged with protecting the environment, the House has separated $228 million for the National Park Service. $200 million has been earmarked to fund public lands conservation programs. And finally, the House doubled the initial budget for clean water in communities throughout the nation by helping them build waste treatment plants.
The Latino community would be one of the biggest beneficiaries of this initiative. Now – and we keep trusting our good fortune – we only need President Bush to not fulfill his promise to veto the bill.
State and local governments are also catching this green wave. Cool Cities —a movement of communities from throughout the US that have committed themselves to reduce their global warming emissions to meet the demands of the Kyoto Protocol— has increased its membership to 500. And California, Hawaii, New Jersey and Washington have joined at the state level.
But we must not rest on our laurels. The size of this enterprise is monumental. Each second, the US produces 50 tons of carbon. Our cars and trucks burn 180 billion gallons of fuel each year. And our country, with only 6% of the world’s population, consumes 25% of the planet’s oil production.
But if each one of us reduces his or her energy consumption by 2% every year, by 2050 we will have defeated this challenge called global warming.
“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” Naturalist and Sierra Club founder John Muir gave us those prescient words more than a century ago.
Now it’s our turn to make sure that 7-7-07 was just the beginning of our good collective fortune.