Climate Local Now: Climate Change, Meet Carbon Crew

by Brianne Briggman

“The greatest threat to our planet is the idea that somebody else will save it.” — Robert Swan

I first heard this during my third Carbon CREW session. We always started and ended with a quote.

It stuck with me. While there are still a small number of people who don’t believe in anthropogenic climate change, and a bit larger number who think it won’t be as detrimental as scientists warn if left unaddressed, the majority of people are concerned about climate change and view it as an emergency.  

Are You an Early Adopter?

From my own, personal, unacademic and local “survey,” I’ve divided this majority (the early adopters who know climate change is real, something we need to address) into three groups:

1. Nohope-ers — who believe that there’s no hope, it’s too late to fix what’s already been done.

2. Myactionstoolittle-ers — who think that the only real change can come from policy, that their personal actions won’t make a difference (or aren’t contributing significantly enough to solve the problem).

3. Dontknowwhattodo-ers — who want to live more sustainably but don’t know what (else) to do or how to do it.

Do you see yourself here?  Or are you like me, cycling through each of them on a weekly basis? Luckily, I have found that the combination of knowledge, inspiration, and community support are effective antidotes to help drop the negativity and take positive action. 

And that’s why I’m writing to you about CREW. 

The Carbon CREW Project was started a year ago by a handful of North and South Fork women inspired by Paul Hawken’s “Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming” and Damon Gameau’s 2040: A Handbook for the Regeneration,” based on the documentary “2040”. 

The CREW founders put together a straightforward method for individuals to significantly reduce their ecological footprint in a fun, community-building, customizable way. 

CREW stands for Carbon Reduction for Earth’s Wellbeing. Why not do something for your own wellbeing – join a CREW. It’s free!

Join and Reduce

Over the course of five weeks, small groups of 4 to 9 people meet and discuss the assigned reading in Gameau’s beautifully illustrated “2040 Handbook,” and create a self-made blueprint for reducing their ecological footprint. 

For those of you who are Dontknowwhattodo-ers, this is the solution you’ve been looking for.

Carbon CREW is building a community motivated to reduce their carbon emissions. 

It’s from a few individuals that a collective develops. That’s how movements gain momentum! They begin with a few people making a loud enough change that others see, hear and react to it. 

Although the climate crisis is overwhelming and scary, Damon Gameau’s “Join the Regeneration” movement is no different than any other. Just google “regeneration movement” and you will find youth groups in the Baltic Sea region, high school and college student peacebuilders, a global agriculture network, and more. Check out “Regeneration,” Paul Hawken’s latest book, as well for more ideas. 

The 3.5 Percent Rule

 In her Ted Talk from 2013, Erica Chenowith shared her PhD research on civil resistance. She discovered what she calls the “‘3.5 percent rule’ — no government has been able to withstand a challenge of over 3.5 percent of its population without accommodating the movement or (in extreme cases) disintegrating.”

In other words, if we can inspire only 3.5 percent of our population, we can spark the exponential change we need now for our planet to continue to flourish, as Carbon CREW’s vision suggests.

Yes, policy change is necessary for the green future we need, but individual action leading to collective action is the spark to inspire and motivate any policy change.

So, to all you Myactionstoolittle-ers: I quote the conclusions of a UN study: Two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions are a result of decisions made at the household level. What you choose to eat, wear, buy, drive, grow, throw away or even talk about makes a huge and meaningful difference. 

Just as no one person holds the blame for our out-of-control emissions, everyone can play a role (and be held to account) in taking actions that lower greenhouse gas emissions. Think clean energy transportation, low-emissions home heating/cooling and greening your food by lowering your food waste.

And for those Nohope-ers?  Those lacking the necessary level of hope required to motivate action? I can tell you I found hope through my Carbon CREW group. I was so surprised that the further I dug into the problems, the more solutions I unearthed. I found inspiration, legitimate, factual, climate-related hope, a community of like-minded realists, and I’m so glad I signed up. 

To learn more, check out carboncrewproject.org, or send an email to info@carboncrewproject.org.


Brianne Briggmann is a Mattituck native and SUNY Geneseo alumna with a Bachelors in English and a driving passion for sustainability. Her goal is to use words and writings to inspire change, evoke action, and harvest community in the environmental space. Climate Local Now is a partnership between the East End Beacon and Drawdown East End, whose mission is to inspire local solutions to reverse climate change (DrawdownEastEnd.org).

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