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Sierra magazine
Bulletin | News for Members

Keyboard Crusaders | Stars of India | Pope's New Gig | Rocky Road for Fish | Local Updates | Get Involved

Keyboard Crusaders
By Adam Kapp

People worldwide spend more than 3 billion minutes on Facebook each day. Imagine if that time and energy were focused on solving climate change. That's the idea behind the Sierra Club's new social networking site, Climate Crossroads, "a cool place to connect."

Climate Crossroads emulates existing online communities: Users can upload photos, personalize their profiles, join groups, and send messages, as on MySpace or Facebook. But Climate Crossroads also empowers people to do something good for the planet, such as sign a petition to fight coal plants or register for a workshop on how to go solar at home. "The site takes a global problem and makes it easy to get involved on a personal level," says Regan Ranoa, Climate Crossroads' partnership coordinator. Members can download free songs from artists committed to fighting global warming, browse or submit recipes, and review articles on the science and politics of climate change. There's also a blog with commentary on the latest climate news.

As the name implies, Climate Crossroads is a place where many groups congregate. Thanks to partnerships with Sierra Club Green Home and Make Me Sustainable, the site offers a directory of products and services, green job listings, and a carbon-footprint calculator. Users can share opinions about products via Good Guide or seek parenting tips from the EcoMom Alliance.

Climate Crossroads is the first of several interconnected online communities planned by the Club. Coming soon are a Sierra Student Coalition social network; Sierra Club Trails, for those who love to hike; the Sportsmen Network, for anglers and hunters; and the Activist Network, for the Club's more traditional constituencies, who will use it to organize and take action on land use, pollution, and other issues.

ON THE WEB Join the cool new community at climatecrossroads.org.


Stars of India

Because carbon dioxide knows no boundaries, the Sierra Club is enlisting new international allies to help combat climate change. "Simply put, global warming cannot be adequately addressed by the United States acting alone," says Sierra Club international programs director Stephen Mills. "No solution to climate change will be credible or effective without collaboration with India and China, emerging economic powers requiring enormous energy resources."

To that end, the Club has broadened its outreach to India by creating the Green Energy and Green Livelihoods Award, which honored an India-based environmental organization with a $100,000 prize this April in Mumbai. Funding was made possible by contributions from Indian American members and supporters of the Sierra Club.

By bringing public attention to India's environmental community, the annual prize will support Indians' efforts to expand clean-energy technologies and encourage a green economy. Nominees included a group that introduced solar-powered LED lamps as replacements for kerosene lanterns and one that constructed biogas plants to reduce wood-fuel use in isolated areas.

Members of the Club's India Advisory Council hope the award will help unite diverse and dispersed environmental groups. Already, innovations are springing up across India, a country that lacks a proper network to bring them outside the business sector. "Our goal," Mills said, "is to create the networks that will spur a new environmental economy." --Della Watson

Editor's note: Due to the general elections in India, the Green Energy and Green Livelihoods Award ceremony was postponed until July 25.


Pope's New Gig

After 16 years of leading the Sierra Club, Carl Pope will step down as executive director. But this isn't goodbye. Once his successor is in place, Pope, 63, will become the Club's chairman, a position that will enable him to devote his time to political strategizing and fundraising for the Climate Recovery Campaign.


Rocky Road for Fish

Could fly-fishing become a sport of the past in the northern Rockies? According to a new Sierra Club report, Creating Resilient Habitats: Native Fish Recovery in a Time of Climate Change, water temperatures are rising, making mountain streams across the region uninhabitable for trout. This could "lead to the extinction of numerous populations and perhaps entire species," the report says. Using bull trout as a benchmark, the report assesses the overall aquatic health of the area's freshwater ecosystem and lays out ways to protect this fragile environment from global warming and other human activities. --Michael Fox

ON THE WEB Read the full report at sierraclub.org/sierrasportsmen/bulltrout.


Local Updates

WASHINGTON: Rail vs. Road


With new funding from Proposition 1, increased light rail and commuter train operations will soon join Seattle's other transit options, like the privately owned Seattle Center Monorail.
The Sierra Club tasted sweet vindication on Election Day 2008 when Seattle-area voters overwhelmingly passed a $17.9 billion measure to expand light rail, commuter train, and bus service. A year earlier the Club helped defeat an auto-focused regional ballot measure, arguing that roads already had ample funding and that what the area really needed was smarter, greener public transportation. "Groups who are normally allied with us said, 'You cannot pass a transit-only measure--you need roads in the bill,'" says Cascade Chapter chair Mike O'Brien. "We believed otherwise."

Working with the regional transit authority, the Club helped craft a bill that addressed climate change in designing greater Seattle's public transportation system. And on Election Day, 57 percent of voters in the three-county area approved Proposition 1. "The measure's resounding passage cemented the Club's status as the key environmental player on transit issues in the Puget Sound region," says O'Brien. "If people want to pass transit legislation, they talk to us." --Tom Valtin

CALIFORNIA: Showdown in the Sierra
Five California chapters of the Sierra Club have partnered with ForestEthics in a campaign to prevent Sierra Pacific Industries from logging more than a million acres of Sierra Nevada forest over the next 50 years. Marily Woodhouse, a Sierra Club organizer leading the campaign against Sierra Pacific Industries, is all too familiar with the devastation of logging. Over the past decade, the company clearcut thousands of forest acres that had cradled her hometown of Manton, near Lassen National Forest in the Sierra foothills. "There are people who don't like what I do," she says. But it only takes a walk outside to rediscover her resolve. "Have you ever had a flock of wild geese fly directly above you? You can hear the rush of their wings beating. That's what keeps me going." --Melissa Weiss

WISCONSIN: Putting Out Fires
Black signs with bright yellow lettering sprouted in lawns across Wisconsin last fall: "No More Coal." The state's chapter had led a multiyear campaign to halt a coal-fired power plant expansion in Cassville, culminating in November with an unprecedented show of community support to convince the state's Public Service Commission to defeat the proposal. "Folks across Wisconsin spoke up," says Jennifer Feyerherm, the chapter's director of clean energy. Opponents of the coal plant asked the commission to consider a combination of natural gas, solar, and wind energy to meet growing power demands. The group is now working to clean up a dozen state-owned coal-fired plants still active in Wisconsin. Says Feyerherm, "It's time to get out of the business of burning coal." --Jordana Fyne


Get Involved

Make your voice heard on environmental issues! The Sierra Club recommends that you write or call your congressional officials at:

U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

U.S. Capitol Switchboard
(202) 224-3121

To find your representative's name and phone number, visit sierraclub.org/takeaction. For the latest on Club campaigns and how you can help, sign up for our biweekly e-newsletter, the Sierra Club Insider, and other Club e-mails at sierraclub.org/email. Or check out our Action Center on Facebook for more online tools.

Illustrations: iStockphoto/tanika84, iStockphoto/ayzeek, David M. Hogan; used with permission

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