THE POWER OF ORGANIZING

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“It took me a long time to realize that the scientists had won the argument but were going to lose the fight, because it isn’t about data and science, it’s about power. The most powerful industry is fossil fuel, because it is the richest. At a certain point, it became clear that our only hope of matching that money was with the currencies of movement: passion, spirit, creativity—and warm bodies.”

Bill McKibben, author and founder of 350.org

We’re here today because we’ve learned—through the books we’ve read, the classes we’ve taken, or what we’ve experienced in our own lives—that our environment is in trouble and big changes are required to save it.

You can guess what kind of big changes we’re talking about.

We’re pumping so much carbon into the air that we’re changing the climate of the planet, and we’re destroying landscapes, making people sick and poisoning our water as we frack for more gas and oil. So we need to shift to clean, renewable energy.

We’re overusing antibiotics in ways that endanger human health. So we need to stop industrial-style factory farms and feedlots from using antibiotics just to fatten animals.

Do we need good science and research to back us up as we solve these problems? Absolutely. Do we need smart policies and well-written laws to actually solve these problems? Definitely.

But the good news is that the environmental movement already has a lot of lawyers, scientists and policy experts working on these issues.

What do we need more of? Organizers—people who understand the power of public support and know how to mobilize it.

There’s no substitute for organizing

Organizing builds the public support that changes the political and economic equations for people in power. So doing the right thing becomes no longer just a matter of principle—it becomes a matter of survival. If our leaders want to win the public’s vote, they have to vote the right way on the environment. If companies want consumers to buy their products, they have to do right by the environment.


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