Solutions quilt in Bakersfield for international day of action

Solutions to Climate Change Quilt in BakersfieldOn October 24th people all over the world came out to demand that the negotiators and governments at the Climate talks in Copenhagen act to cut greenhouse gas emissions and get us back below 350 parts per million CO2. There are some very beautiful pictures of the events – more than 5200 actions in 181 countries – on 350.org. I was in Bakersfield with family, and we were just setting up the quilt when someone came by and was inspired to be in the picture.

Quilt goes to DC for national day of action!

img_69631The Solutions to Climate Change Quilt enjoyed a warm welcome at the national day of action today. I met folks from 1Sky and 350.org, including Bill McKibben, and they were all impressed with the quilt and very happy that I had come out. It felt really great.

After the rally people went to give giant postcards to all the members of Congress, asking them to make climate change a priority in 2009. Unfortunately no one was available at the Obama transition team – apparently they were all out meeting with their respective departments. So 350.org volunteered to bring them the framed photograph of the quilt and letter I wrote to Obama (see Letter to Obama).

It was a very cold and windy day (it snowed a little), and my cousin Micah and his friend got quite a bit of exercise trying to hold it up.

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After the rally was over Micah and I were joking about putting the quilt on the knees of the Lincoln memorial, so we walked over there, and ran into Evo Morales, President of Bolivia.

img_7005He spoke about slavery and the hope for justice for marginalized peoples. It was an amazing day overall.

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After leaving the Lincoln memorial I got a call from a television producer in the Bay Area who wanted to do a segment on the quilt – so I was on live from DC the next morning on “Mornings on 2”. I’ll be posting the video when I get a chance, so you can see my first 4 minutes of fame.

You can sign this quilt – and help stop climate change!

You can help by signing the back of the quilt, and asking your friends to sign. I took the quilt to DC on November 18th, 2008 for a national day of action on climate change with 1Sky and 350.org, and delivered a framed photograph of the quilt together with a letter to President Obama’s transition team. But Im  going to try and give him the quilt on Oprah’s show, so you can still add your name.

To sign the quilt, send me a comment by clicking on the word “comments” below, with your name, and the city and state you live in, and I will write your name on the back of the quilt.

A quilt to help protect life on this planet

img_4664The Solutions to Climate Change quilt has 350 pieces, to represent the 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide (CO2) that NASA climatologist James Hansen has said is the maximum safe level of CO2 in our atmosphere (we’re currently at 383 and rising fast).

We are currently facing the biggest threat to life on earth since the last mass extinction 65 million years (think dinosaurs). That’s the bad news. The good news is that scientists say we can still reverse global warming, if we act soon.

We need to demand that our new representatives in government take this problem seriously and make climate change a priority in 2009. There are also many ways for each of us to get involved, the more the merrier.

Although it seems incredible, the technology exists to fix the atmosphere. That doesn’t mean it will be easy. Stopping dangerous climate change will require a massive effort on the scale of World War II. We need to re-tool our economy so that it is more efficient, start using clean energy, and change our transportation habits. To do so will require significant investment, but will very likely also fix the recession that we are now entering, and create a safer and less polluted world.

The solution to global warming has many different pieces. I have made a quilt that expresses some of the ones that I and many others believe are crucial to fixing the problem. For more information on the ideas expressed on the quilt, see “Solutions to Climate Change” below.

The story of the quilt

I started this quilt in June of this year, when my son was 1 year old. I had recently started learning more about global warming, and realized I needed to do something, for my own sanity, and to help his chances of having a decent future on this planet.

I wrote to friends and family and asked them to make squares, and started bringing my box of craft supplies and a banner to parks and farmer’s markets. It was a lot of fun to talk to people about the project, and to make art with kids. I got a lot of encouragement, as well as lots of lovely square (see Photo Gallery) .

I also went to two quilt groups in the Bay Area to ask for squares (which are really called “blocks” in quilter language), the African American Quilt Guild of Oa kland, and the East Bay Heritage Quilters. I got a few blocks from them, as well as assistance in piecing (sewing the blocks together). Teresa Weyand, owner of Qreative Quilting and a professional quilter in Alameda, CA , generously offered her services for free to longarm machine quilt and bind the quilt. The finished quilt measures almost 8 x 14 feet!
I will be bringing the quilt to President Obama on November 18th. Some national climate change organizations, 1Sky and 350.org have organized a national event to “welcome” our President and new representatives in Congress, with the demand that they make climate change an immediate priority in Washington. I will be showing the actual quilt here in California as well, in November and December. To find out more about showings, send me a message by clicking on “comments” below.

Solutions to Climate Change

We must work to stop climate change. We cannot wait. The solutions exist, but they require us all to take action, now. The new President needs to prioritize climate change in the first 100 days. Our representatives in Congress need to put it on the top of their agenda.

There are many different things we can do to solve climate change, below are a few that I and others believe are crucial pieces of the puzzle.

  • Carbon tax – NO to Cap and Trade!: A carbon tax is the simplest and most efficient way to cut carbon emissions (so says the Congressional Budget Office). It is also the best way to encourage investment in a clean energy economy. Sweden is having great success with it. But most industry prefers cap and trade programs (despite the fact that they have been failing miserably) because some companies stand to make lots of money by trading pollution permits. Governments have so far been pressured by industry – they need to hear from us too. For more information go to http://www.carbontax.org
  • 350 maximum parts per million CO2: The quilt has 350 squares, to represent the 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide (CO2) that NASA climatologist James Hansen has said is the maximum safe level of CO2 in our atmosphere (we’re currently at 387 and rising fast). World governments will be deciding what level to set their sights on in negotiations Copehagen in December 2009. Many governments think it would be OK for CO2 levels to rise to the extremely unsafe level of 450 or 550. For more information go to 350.org
  • Cap carbon at the source: In addition to a carbon tax, it makes sense to put a cap on the amount of carbon dioxide that gets emitted into the atmosphere. And the easiest way of doing that is to use what’s called an “upstream” cap, in other words, to limit the amount of carbon producing substances where they enter the economy: at the point of importation or extraction
  • Green jobs: Green jobs and investment in a green overhaul in the economy are necessary steps toward a sustainable future. Many economists say this could also bring us out of the recession we are now entering. For more information go to http://www.greenforall.org
  • Public transportation/high speed rail: Transportation accounts for 30% of the carbon dioxide emissions in the US. Making public transportation more accessible and affordable is a necessary step in the path towards a sustainable future. High speed rail is more energy efficient than air travel and uses less land than highways do.
  • Energy efficient buildings: Energy use in buildings contributes to about a third of greenhouse gas emissions globally. So making sure that buildings are built efficiently (using LEED – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards) as well as providing funds for retrofitting existing buildings, is an important piece of the puzzle.
  • Renewable energy: There are different ways of producing energy without releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Clean coal is not one of them. The technology simply doesn’t exist yet. Nuclear energy is dangerous and expensive to produce. The renewable energy sources that hold the most promise are wind, solar cell panels, concentrated solar heat, produced using mirrors, and possibly wave technology. Scientific American reported that converting only 2.5 percent of the sun’s radiation in the Southwest of the US into electricity would match the nation’s total energy consumption in 2006.

Our new President and representatives have the power to implement these changes. We have the power to keep reminding them that we care about the future of the planet, and to become involved in these projects ourselves. Together we are strong.

Peace,
Ulla Nilsen