Published : Monday, December 17, 2018 | 5:42 AM
Two brothers from Altadena, aged 12 and 10, were at Pasadena City Hall Friday to protest against the causes of global warming and climate change and to encourage people to do everything possible to reduce carbon and greenhouse gas emissions.
Their protest could be the first recorded U.S.-based protest in a movement that started about five months ago in Europe.
Encouraged by their climate scientist Dad, local scientist Dr. Peter Kalmus, who has become well known for refusing to fly, cycling as much as possible, and taking other steps to reduce his personal carbon emissions to two tons per year – when the average American has about 20 tons per year – the boys are starting their own campaign to make people conscious of their own personal contribution to global warming, and to encourage them to act and do something about the problem.
“I want to accomplish awareness about this subject,” Braird Kunde-Kalmus, 12, said.
Braird and Zane are members of Fridays for a Future, a worldwide movement that started in the summer in Stockholm, Sweden with 14-year-old Greta Thurnberg cutting school on Fridays to instead protest about global warming outside the Swedish parliament.
In November, 11-year-old Canadian Sophia Mathur started to strike from school in Sudbury one Friday a month to draw attention to the fact that adults are not doing enough to protect her future.
Two weeks ago, Canadians in Toronto started more Fridays for a Future protests to call on the Canadian parliament to take urgent and just action on climate change.
Last week, the second Friday protest in Canada came about the time the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was happening in Katowice, Poland.
In Altadena, Braird and Zane Kalmus said they are campaigning for “clean energy, and cutting down on anything that uses fossil fuels.”
“Another thing we want to accomplish is we want adults to be aware of this because adults aren’t doing anything. And they’re the ones who are kind of messing it up,” Braird said.
He added that the subject of global warming is discussed frequently in school, but no one does anything.
“We want to raise action too, anything that could help reducing, like not using as much electricity and not driving as much. Then also more protest so that more people are aware,” Braird continued. “We need action from everywhere.”
The boys’ father has authored a book, “Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution,” published by New Society Publishers, which explores the connections between people’s individual daily actions and the collective predicament about “overpopulation, global warming, industrial agriculture, growth-addicted economics, a sold-out political system, and a mindset of separation from nature.”
The book merges science, spirituality, and practical action to develop what is described as a satisfying and appropriate response to global warming. Kalmus says the core message in the book is deeply optimistic: living without fossil fuels is not only possible, it can be better.
Outside of the book, Kalmus is advocating for the adoption of a carbon fee and dividend, a market-based mechanism for reducing the carbon emissions that help to drive anthropogenic climate change. The mechanism is intended to incentivize a shift to low-carbon energy while protecting consumers from any increases in the costs of carbon-based fuels.
“One of the best things that we need to do as a nation is to adopt a carbon fee and dividend, so this makes fossil fuels more expensive, and then that money all gets passed back to every citizen on an equal basis,” Kalmus said. “So low-income and middle-income people and households will actually get more money back in revenue.”
Such a mechanism, Kalmus explains, should make more people aware that they’re “using the atmosphere as an open sewer” and are not paying for it.
“We’re not actually paying the price for it –we’re externalizing the costs of all the damage that we’re doing by emitting greenhouse gases. That shouldn’t be a free thing. We shouldn’t be allowed to basically cause these impacts for free,” he said. “So if you paid more for a gallon of gasoline, that would come back to you as a monthly dividend. But you would have an incentive to use less gasoline so you would have more of an incentive to get that electric car for example. But, yes, the more you fly, the bigger car you drive, the more fossil fuel you use, the more you would pay into this pot.”
Kalmus, who has a doctorate in physics from Columbia University and a BS in physics from Harvard, works as a climate scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
At work, he uses satellite data, in situ data, and models to study the rapidly changing Earth, with a focus on boundary layer clouds.
At home, he explores how dramatically reducing carbon emissions can lead to a happier, more connected life. He grows his own food in the yard and in an Altadena community garden, and enjoys orcharding, beekeeping, and backpacking with his wife, Sharon Kunde, and sons Braird and Zane.
For more about his book, visit www.newsociety.com/Books/B/
To learn more about Fridays for a Future, visit www.climatepledgecollective.