If we learned anything in Copenhagen, it’s that we can’t wait for governments to hammer out a solution to global warming. Bottom-up, community-based approaches seem just as likely to save the day. Which is why hundreds of cities and towns are signing on to the Cool Community campaign launched by David Gershon, founder and CEO of the Empowerment Institute. “Approximately 50 percent of America’s carbon footprint is residential,” he explains. Reducing the carbon output of regular Americans could make a big difference, or at least buy us some extra time.
Gershon's 2006 book The Low Carbon Diet lays out a 24-step program for individuals to shed 5,000 pounds of carbon emissions in 30 days. Those who tried the campaign’s pilot program in Portland, Oregon, reported a 22 percent (6,700 pounds) cut in carbon emissions. Since then, local governments across the country have signed on to get their constituents involved: Rochester, New York, aims to involve 40,000 households, and Massachusetts is taking the program statewide.
To help start more Cool Community campaigns, Gershon is publishing a six-part series on the Huffington Post excerpted from a chapter of his new book Social Change 2.0. With luck and work, communities mobilizing to fight global warming will help change the climate of stagnation in Washington.