Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Change We’ve Been Waiting For

We are who we’ve been waiting for!
by Charlie Leck


Someone sent along a series of cartoons from around the nation that were drawn within 24 hours of the announcement that Barack Obama had won the election. It was enjoyable to go through them. One, in particular, has relevance to what I’m writing about today, that is, how anxious – how terribly anxious – many of us are for the big day when Obama will be sworn in and address the nation. He’ll challenge us! I’m betting on that.

The next President of the United States cannot succeed without us. He’ll tell us how much he needs us.

Last night I attended a lovely little dinner to honor Will Steger, the polar explorer, and his foundation. The story about the warming of the polar ice caps is pretty frightening. Is there hope? The talked turned to Obama. There isn’t much time to spare. It would be better if he were installed into the office now. Who will his environmental Czar be? The big dining room was buzzing with excitement about the change in Washington.

It’s been torturous for people like Steger to watch the snail’s pace at which the last administration moved and government, in general, operates. Not only is change needed. Rapid change is needed. Immediate attention is required.

What can we do? Remember, Obama is going to ask us to be involved. He is going to tell us that our hopefulness for the rebirth of America is dependent on us. Is that mere prattle?

Last evening, Steger said it isn’t? It must start with us. Get to know your state representatives and state senators. Call them! Write them! The same with our congressional representative and our U.S. Senators. Make sure they understand that this is an immediate problem. Make sure these people know your name and that the issue is important to you.

Most people guffaw when they hear such things. Talk to your representative! Ha!

Yet, it is absolutely true that we can do that. They’re local folks just like you and I. They have phone numbers and they have home addresses. They go to the grocery store and they have to get haircuts. They put their pants on, as the saying goes, one leg at a time.

If you were to sit down and ask Barack Obama where to begin, this community organizer would tell you to begin in your own community, in your own state legislative districts and then in your own congressional districts. Put the pressure on. Make sure these legislators understand that the issue is a burning one and that their constituencies want action.

Remember when Obama so inspirationally told us that we are who we’ve been waiting for. Does it make sense now?

Wait if you want for the Inaugural Speech, to hear it from our new President, or get going now. You are who you’ve been waiting for. Why keep waiting?

If millions of us begin contacting the offices of our state legislators and our governor – if we make sure they know our names and what we’re concerned about – we can be the change we’re looking for.

The stories out of Washington are exciting. Millions of people will jam themselves into the nation’s capital on Inauguration Day. There isn’t space for all the people who want to hear the new President challenge us. Hotels, motels and B&Bs are fully booked. Rooms in private homes are being rented out. The crowds that will gather for the inauguration will probably be the largest ever to gather in Washington.

Across the nation, people will gather around televisions sets to watch the swearing in of the nation’s first African-American president and then they will listen with hopefulness as he addresses us.

Change is coming. It is surely coming; however, the startling thing we shall learn is that we are the change we’ve been waiting for. Without us it won’t happen.

“Don’t ask what your country can do for you! Ask what you can do for your country!” Those words ring in my ear and pound at my heart as if it were just yesterday, and not 47 years ago, that I first heard them.

Without us Barack Obama will fail. He knows that. He will challenge us to be great.

In a story in today’s NY Times (written by Eric Lichtlau and John M. Broder) Obama says that his environmental initiatives will not be postponed because of the economy. With some urgency, he indicates that we can’t wait.
“Mr. Obama indicated that he intended to move rapidly on one of the most ambitious items on his agenda, tackling climate change. Speaking to a bipartisan group of governors by video, the president-elect said that despite the weakening economy, he had no intention of softening or delaying his ambitious goals for reducing emissions that cause the warming of the planet. ‘Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all,’ Mr. Obama said. ‘Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response.’

He repeated his campaign promise to reduce climate-altering carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent by 2050 and invest $150 billion in new energy-saving technologies. Some industry leaders and members of Congress have suggested that Mr. Obama’s climate proposal would impose too great a cost on an already-stressed economy — having the same effects as a tax on coal, oil and natural gas — and should await the end of the current downturn. A bill similar to Mr. Obama’s plan failed to clear the Senate this year, largely because of concerns about its impact on the economy.

Mr. Obama rejected that view, saying that his plan would reduce oil imports, create jobs in energy conservation and renewable sources of energy, and reverse the warming of the atmosphere.‘My presidency will mark a new chapter in America’s leadership on climate change that will strengthen our security and create millions of new jobs in the process,’ he said.”
Change is coming my friends. It is surely coming.

Please visit the web site of the Will Steger Foundation and find out how you can be involved – how you can be the change you are looking for. At least, be certain to watch this short video in which Will Steger explains the challenge.

Who is Will Steger?
‘A formidable voice calling for understanding and the preservation of the Arctic, and the Earth, Will Steger is best known for his legendary polar explorations. He has traveled tens of thousands of miles by kayak and dogsled for more than 45 years, leading teams on some of the most significant polar expeditions in history, earning him the Lifetime Achievement award from National Geographic Adventure Magazine in 2007.

Will led the first confirmed dogsled journey to the North Pole without re-supply in 1986, the 1,600-mile south-north traverse of Greenland (the longest unsupported dogsled expedition in history) in 1988, and led the first dogsled traverse of Antarctica (the historic seven month, 3,471-mile International Trans-Antarctica Expedition) in 1989–90.

Will has continued his commitment to education and exploration through the Will Steger Foundation. Recent expeditions have included a dynamic online component and have taken Will and his expedition teams to Ellesmere Island and Baffin Island in Canada's High Arctic. From the front lines of global warming, Will Steger is inspiring, educating and empowering people around the world to take action on global warming solutions.”

Pole without re-supply (1986), the 1,600-mile south-north traverse of Greenland (the longest unsupported dogsled expedition in history in 1988), the first dogsled traverse of Antarctica (the historic seven month, 3,471-mile International Trans-Antarctica Expedition in 1989-90), and the first dogsled traverse of the Arctic Ocean in one season from Russia to Ellesmere Island in Canada (1995).

Steger received his B.S. in Geology and M.A. in Education at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN, and taught science for three years at the secondary level. In 1970, he moved from his birthplace in suburban Minneapolis to the wilderness north of Ely, Minnesota. There he founded a winter school and developed innovative wilderness programs for 10 years. In 1991, Steger received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters; University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN and Honorary Doctorate of Science; Westminster College, Salt Lake City, UT. His unique ability to blend extreme exploration with cutting-edge technology, have allowed him to reach millions of people around the world, under some of the most hostile conditions on the planet and be a pioneer in online education. Over 20 million students followed the 1995 International Arctic Project via on-line daily journal entries and the first-ever transmission of a digital photograph from the North Pole.

Steger joins Amelia Earhart, Robert Peary, Roald Amundsen in receiving the National Geographic Society's prestigious John Oliver La Gorce Medal (formerly the Gold Metal) for “Accomplishments in Geographic Exploration in the Sciences, and Public Service to Advance International Understanding” in 1995. This was the first time the Society had presented all three categories. In 1996, he became the National Geographic Society's first Explorer-in- Residence and received the Explorers Club’s Finn Ronne Memorial Award in 1997. In 2006 Steger joined Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Dr. Thor Heyerdahl and Neil Armstrong in receiving the Lindbergh Award. Steger was given this award for "numerous polar expeditions, deep understanding of the environment and efforts to raise awareness of current environmental threats, especially climate change". The same year Steger was appointed by Governor Tim Pawlenty to serve on the Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group, a group charged with recommending a Climate Action Plan to substantially reduce Minnesota’s greenhouse gas emissions. In 2007, Steger received the prestigious Lowell Thomas award from the Explorers Club and the National Geographic Adventure Lifetime Achievement Award for his work on climate change.

A recognized authority on polar environmental issues and ceaseless advocate for the Earth’s well being, Steger has been invited to testify before the United States Congress, as well as, advising world leaders on the environmental protection of Antarctica. Steger’s pioneering work in adventure-based environmental education was pivotal as he founded the Global Center of Environmental Education at Hamline University, St. Paul, Minnesota, and the World School for Adventure Learning at the University of St. Thomas in 1993.

Steger is the author of four books: Over the Top of the World, Crossing Antarctica, North to the Pole and Saving the Earth. [from the Will Steger Foundation web site]

No comments:

Post a Comment