I just returned home from 3 days in LA attending Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Training. Anyone can apply to attend and the conference itself is free, you are responsible for lodging and transportation. Jonathan and I both were accepted as I later found out it was the largest training event they had ever hosted. One of us had to stay home and make sure kids went to school, so he offered the opportunity for me to go. My thought process was that this Climate crisis is the most serious issue we face, I needed to do everything I could and possibly even find some hope.
Truthfully, I wasn’t sure that it would be “worth it” in the sense that it would be a significant expense, I wasn’t able to find many reviews from participants, and the brief agenda only listed a few local political leaders, a singing group and a youth poet. Also, I don’t like LA. Maybe because it is a big city and the six or so times I have gone there did not impress me, I just don’t like going there.
As I watched the FB page and a more detailed program was revealed, I started to get more excited. To save money, my mom offered me her Southwest Air voucher, and I booked a hotel room with extra beds at the cool Freehand hotel to share costs. I did decide to come the night before the conference so I would not have a 4am trip to the airport.
My roommate was from San Francisco, and we immediately bonded and went out to meet other Climate Reality people. Up on the trendy rooftop bar at the Standard, I realized there was no way I could read the gray 6 pt type drink menu in the dark- damn those designers- and ordered a cocktail someone was holding that looked good without even seeing a price. The interesting thing about this conference, and I have been to many alone where I know no one, is that we all were very open and willing to connect. Many of us were from out of town and arrived alone with just our shared interests in saving the planet for future generations.
The three days I spent in the cold LA Convention Center were inspiring, depressing, and very illuminating. I felt like I was back in college taking an intensive course with the best professor (Al Gore of course), subsisting on very little sleep due to our “dorm room”, and a lot of socializing and making new friends. Exhausting but completely fascinating. At one point Al Gore gave a 2.5 hour long presentation that was complex, yet simple. Horrifying, yet had hope. Listening to him speak for hours was the best part, and enjoying his intellect and humor.
There were panels and speakers featuring dedicated people ranging from renowned scientists, entertainers, political leaders and even an amazing teenage girl who grew up in poor health, next to an oil field and SHUT IT DOWN. Social justice stories ran deep throughout the sessions and I understand how and why the people most impacted should be involved, and at the forefront to find solutions. And I surprised myself by gaining an appreciation for LA after hearing more about it’s history and everything they are doing as a city to lower carbon emissions.
Animal agriculture was barely discussed, it was touched upon as far as fertilizers polluting the water, but they focused on transportation, building, the energy grid, and manufacturingj as the main culprits. These issues need to be addressed from the top down through our elected politicians. We need to join together collectively as a group to demand they address the climate crisis. We are still part of the Paris agreement until November 2020, and we should still try to reach our goals. Just as tobacco companies lied to people for decades about the risks of smoking, fossil fuel industries are lying to us now by continuing to promote their products. Renewable energy is cheaper and better, and there is no reason we should not embrace it as well as the new jobs they offer. The air we breathe, our children’s futures, these are not partisan issues. If Republicans don’t work on these issues, they will lose. We are currently experiencing the worsening storms, floods, fires and all the changes that we were warned about for decades. It may be too late to escape them, but we can try to slow this down!
Anyone who likes animals, nature, their children, their nieces and nephews needs to understand the urgency we face. This is completely unprecedented and the human mind just can’t really comprehend that anything can really get that bad… like facing extinction. It’s easier to keep putting short-term interests first, pretending that something will change our collision course, or just ignoring it completely.
While our current political administration proclaims “America First”, our skies and oceans don’t have walls and borders for carbon emissions. We are all connected on this blue marble in space and this terrible challenge which threatens all of us could possibly be the one thing that will unite us.