In late July I was fortunate to have been able to attend Momentum, a social justice conference that brings together donors, academics and activists to engage in “big picture” thinking about emerging issues, strategies and opportunities. This was my first time attending this event, which was at time sobering but mostly inspiring. Each day reminded me that as progressive we have our Achilles heel: ineffective (insider, jargon-laden speak) communications about what we stand for, which leads to failure to move people who do not already profess to believe in our agenda. What gave me hope was the dizzyingly array of smart, savvy and dedicated people working to create a better world yet willing to be self-critical about why we seem to be losing ground as a movement for social change.
Climate change is THE (social justice) issue of our time. Fortunately, we have all the technology that we need to stem the tide of global warming. The essential challenge, however, remains in amassing the political will to respond in a way that just, equitable and strengthens community. My pet peeve: in all this talk about the urgency to respond quickly and with force by harnessing all the technological power we already have, there was not a single mention of an essential strategy to ensure the survival of all living creatures on the planet: population control. Now I know about the checkered past of population control but that does not mean that we should stop the conversation. We must pick up that thread, acknowledging mistakes from the past but forge ahead by placing it front and center in the discourse. When I was a child, I remember learning the term “zero population growth.” (I think I wrote a paper on this topic when I was in the 6th grade.) For progressives to simply remove this concept from a conversation focused on solutions to the problems of sustaining life on this planet is to shirk our responsibility to lead with the combination of smarts and integrity that is required to keep global warming from reaching the point of no return.