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We need a WWII-scale climate mobilization. The Pledge to Mobilize is a political platform and social movement strategy to get us there.



The Climate Mobilization is a growing group of people who know that climate change threatens the collapse of civilization within this century. We believe, along with many well-respected scientists and environmental analysts, that the only way to preserve a climate that is safe, stable, and supportive of human civilization is to fight climate change with a World War II-scale mobilization. 

The attack on Pearl Harbor jolted the United States out of isolationist denial. Once Americans finally realized the gravity of the Axis threat, we mobilized as a society to fight back.

The Pearl Harbor moment for climate change has not yet arrived, and we are running out of time. The Pledge to Mobilize can peacefully and rapidly provoke the massive social and political awakening we need.

For an overview of our strategy and platform, please view our slideshow. For an in-depth explication, read our strategy document, Rising to the Challenge of Our Time, Together

The Pledge is designed to overcome psychological, cultural, and technological barriers to engagement in order to make the climate crisis real for people and bring about a cultural transformation. Signers publicly acknowledge that climate change is a threat to civilization and call on the U.S. Federal Government to to fight back with a WWII-scale mobilization. Signers pledge their support to politicians who have also signed the Pledge, and, critically, promise to spread the Pledge to their friends, family, and communities.

The Pledge to Mobilize powerfully counters denial and passivity. By providing a comprehensive roadmap to a solution on one page, the Pledge channels paralyzing terror about climate change into meaningful action. It combats helplessness by providing a concrete way for individuals to fight a global threat. It also structures an issue that can be overwhelmingly complex. The Pledge to Mobilize will get people talking about climate change and will drive the crisis to the forefront of the national conversation.



Category of the action

Changing public perceptions on climate change

What actions do you propose?

A Climate Mobilization would allow our country “to adapt to what we can’t avoid, and avoid what we can’t adapt to.” As in World War II, all Americans would contribute. Industry would transform to maximize energy efficiency and to produce the hardware needed for our post-carbon energy infrastructure. Universities would research methods to improve existing renewable and post-carbon energy technologies, increase energy efficiency, and maximize the resilience of our energy, transportation and agricultural systems, in anticipation of the coming ecological disasters. Farmers would bind massive quantities of carbon into the soil and learn to implement techniques that are more resistant to floods, droughts and invasive species. Existing government agencies, including the military, would shift their focus toward this super-ordinate goal. Citizens would plant trees, reduce energy use at home and take part in community adaptation and mitigation projects. We would grow community gardens, install solar panels and prepare low-lying areas for increased flooding. We would build bike lanes and paint roofs white to mitigate the summer heat that grows more relentless each year.

Our proposal  does not specify precisely how the Climate Mobilization will be accomplished. We have designed  a tool for a social movement rather than a governmental policy, and decided not to lock ourselves into inflexible policy prescriptions. This allows us to focus attention on the crucial issue: The need for an emergency response to climate change. We hope to avoid a situation in which people of good faith are pitted against each other over traditionally divisive issues, such as whether the future energy mix should include nuclear power, or whether economic growth is an outdated model. The Climate Mobilization will encompass people with a range of viewpoints, and differences can be explored through ongoing discussion. We stand a chance only if we allow our shared purpose — fighting for humanity’s future — to transcend the squabbles that often derail us.

But how do we get there? A society-wide mobilization requires, at minimum, the consent and cooperation of the population. In 1941, Americans were staunchly isolationist, hoping and imagining that it might be possible to avoid the war. The surprise attack at Pearl Harbor, which decimated much of our naval fleet, changed the mood of the country. Isolationism evaporated overnight and Americans threw themselves behind the war effort.

Various writers have held out hope that a catastrophic natural disaster will be the Pearl Harbor of climate change. Yet we have already been struck by Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy, and ravaged by wildfires in Colorado and droughts across California and the Midwest. No spontaneous awakening has occurred. It is up to us to rise to the challenge of our time. Although the government must coordinate the mobilization, the social momentum needed to drive the mobilization onto the agenda will not originate in Washington. Those of us who grasp the extent, immediacy and horror of the threat must build a social movement that wakes Americans up to the necessity of an immediate climate mobilization.

The Pledge to Mobilize

The Pledge to Mobilize is an unblinking declaration of reality, and a platform for a social movement. It is a tool for spreading the frightening truth of climate change from person to person, as well as a means to reclaim our democracy. Wielding the pledge, citizens can demand that elected officials both acknowledge the scope of the climate crisis and mobilize to fight it accordingly. The Pledge states:

Climate change is already causing immense human suffering as well as untold damage to the natural world. It threatens the collapse of global civilization within this century. Preventing the worst effects of this gathering crisis is the great moral imperative of our time. This mission must be our nation’s preeminent priority.

I call on the United States federal government to:

1) Commence a five-year mobilization to preserve a climate that is safe, stable, and supportive of human civilization. This campaign shall be carried out on a scale comparable to the American World War II home front mobilization and shall comprehensively address climate change with the utmost urgency.  

2) Reduce national fossil fuel carbon emissions from current levels by at least 76% in five years.* These reductions must occur at a rate of 25 % per year or greater, and ensure that the United States stays within its fair share of the remaining carbon budget.**

3) Create a Climate Mobilization Corps, tens of millions strong, which will implement adaptation measures and rapidly expand our post-carbon energy infrastructure and agricultural systems.

4) Conduct this mobilization in accordance with the Constitution and ensure that the essential needs of the civilian economy are met during this time of transition.

5) Exert diplomatic and economic pressure to enlist other nations as allies in this heroic fight against social, economic and environmental chaos.

I will:

I) Vote for candidates — on the local, state, and national level — who have signed the Pledge to Mobilize over those who have not.

II) Only donate time or money to candidates who have signed the Pledge.

III) Mobilize my skills, resources, and networks to spread the stark truth of climate change and the hope of this Pledge to others. When I spread the Pledge to Mobilize, I will do so with respect, focus, truth, and courage.  


* National carbon emissions shall be reduced at least 25% each year from the previous year’s emissions level.The United States shall aggressively cut all national greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, as quickly as possible. Deforestation and other carbon-intensive land use practices shall be dramatically curtailed as well.

** “Fair share” is defined as a percentage of the post-2013 global carbon budget no greater than our share of global population on Jan. 1, 2014. This translates to roughly 4.5%, or 5.4 billion tons, of the post-2013 global carbon budget, which is approximately 120 billion tons of fossil fuel carbon emissions, according to Hansen, et al. (2013).If the United States exceeds its share of this budget, then the U.S. federal government shall mobilize with increased urgency and expanded assistance measures to climate mitigation efforts abroad, in order to ensure that humanity does not break this global carbon budget.

Mobilizing Individuals and Communities

The Pledge to Mobilize is designed to spread in a unique way. Individuals are encouraged to take the pledge in person. It also must be given by someone who has already signed it. This requirement will create new ways of interacting around climate change. The Pledge signer will combine the roles of teacher, mentor and missionary. Those who sign the Pledge will approach people they respect and care for, and invite them to sign. When friends and family are dubious, the Pledge signer will engage them in an educational process about the stark reality of the ecological crisis, encouraging them to read articles, watch videos, and attend meetings about climate change. This process is designed to repeatedly disrupt the culture of silence and willful ignorance that allows us as individuals and as a society to minimize and ignore the growing climate crisis.

Though the Pledge will be taken in person, its spread will be registered and tracked through the Climate Mobilization website, which is currently in development. This will allow signers to monitor how many people they have recruited to sign the Pledge, both directly and indirectly.

One of the Pledge’s primary strategic virtues is its flexibility. We hope that signers will use their creative instincts and unique skills to spread the Pledge. Signers can host events at their homes, or in the community. Using, signers can organize local lectures and discussions about the climate crisis and the Climate Mobilization. Religious people can spread the Pledge in their communities of worship, and climate educators can offer the Pledge after their presentations. The Climate Mobilization can have booths at farmers’ markets, staffed by Pledge signers, who will offer frank conversation about climate change, the need for a mobilization and the Pledge as a tool to get us there.

The Pledge to Mobilize is a platform for a collective awakening. It is a platform on which conversations can be initiated and the cultural consensus of denial and passivity can be transformed into a culture that expects active engagement from every individual in response to the climate emergency. It does not preclude the use of other tactics, including demonstrations, lawsuits, Internet memes and local adaptation measures. On the contrary, we hope that signing the Pledge can serve as a launching pad to further engagement. Online discussion forums, as well as local groups, will serve as places where Pledge signers can develop creative, humane ways to respond to the unfolding crisis. For example, Pledge signers could combine political demonstration with direct relief in areas hard-hit by storms; coordinate social media campaigns to pressure journalists to cover climate change with greater seriousness; or plant community victory gardens. Once people pledge to mobilize, they will find myriad ways to effectively channel their energy and talents.

Who will take these actions?

The key actors for signing and spreading the Pledge to Mobilize are American citizens (for now*), including political candidates from any party. The Pledge will spread within a wide variety of organizations including churches, professional associations, businesses, and non-profits.

Local Climate Mobilization groups can form to coordinate local Pledge spreading, focusing on recruiting community leaders and prominent citizens; raising TCM's local profile, and giving weekly public presentations on climate change and the Pledge.

Once the Pledge to Mobilize has successfully vanquished denial and passivity and ushered in an emergency response, the climate mobilization will be coordinated by the U.S. Federal Government. 

*The Climate Mobilization is in the process of expanding internationally by partnering with small groups of climate activists abroad, who are develop politically and culturally appropriate versions of the Pledge to Mobilize for their nations. In theory, the Pledge to Mobilize could be adapted and spread in every country.


Where will these actions be taken?

The Pledge to Mobilize will spread across the United States in a plethora of ways. Pledgers can host events at their homes, or in the community. They can organize local lectures and discussions about the climate crisis and the Climate Mobilization. Religious people can spread the Pledge in their communities of worship, and climate educators can offer the Pledge after their presentations. Pledge signers can indicate their affiliation by posting the Climate Mobilization logo as their Facebook profile. The Climate Mobilization can have booths at farmers’ markets, staffed by Pledge signers, who will offer frank conversations about climate change, the need for a mobilization, and the Pledge as a tool to get us there.

The Pledge can be adapted and expanded to every country, creating a social movement that is both nationally specific and globally connected. 

How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

The overall goal of The Climate Mobilization is a climate that is safe, stable and supportive of human civilization. 

The Pledge also calls on the United States to lead the world in a heroic struggle against climate change, keeping cumulative fossil fuel carbon emissions after 2013 under 120 billion tons. This target comes from James Hansen's 2013 carbon budget, which is right in line with carbon budgets put forward by Meinshausen et al. (~118 billion tons) and the Grantham Research Institute/Carbon Tracker Initiative (~133 billion tons).  

The Pledge to Mobilize calls for the United States to reduce its remissions at least 25% each year for the next 5 years, and to continue the transition to carbon neutrality in order to stay within our fair share of the approximately 120 billion tons of carbon that remain in Hansen's 2013 carbon budget (5.4 billion tons). 


What are other key benefits?

Advantages of the Pledge to Mobilize as a social movement strategy:

*Mass person-to-person education and increased awareness; the Pledge creates a shared understanding that climate change is the most important issue we face.

*Helps every individual overcome their denial and passivity and empowers them to make a meaningful difference to the future of our shared planet and civilization.

*A democracy "reboot" and challenge to the two party system, as Pledgers will agree to vote climate above all else.

*Psychologically and anthropologically designed in order to facilitate a collective awakening to the threat of climate change, the way that Pearl Harbor woke America up to the dangers of the Axis powers.

*A social movement strategy that creatively leverages contemporary technology and ways that society is organized. 


What are the proposal’s costs?

The Pledge to Mobilize is a very cost effective strategy. It will take approximately $20,000 to launch, and approximately $10,000 per year to sustain the campaign (additional funds could be used to hire full time organizers and supporters, but these are not necessary for the Pledge strategy to operate). The Pledge runs on people power.

The Climate Mobilization itself will be an expensive endeavor involving massive public investment. During WWII the United States spent 41% of GDP on the war effort; it was an all-out attempt to preserve freedom and democracy. This massive government intervention also had the effect, however, of accelerating innovation, employing millions of Americans, and shrinking wealth inequality.

One side effect of a full-scale mobilization is that it inevitably limits individual freedoms and pleasures (such as the freedom to consume as much fossil fuel energy as one likes, and the pleasures of cheap jet travel and meat prices). The Pledge to Mobilize ameliorates this problem and risk by demanding that the mobilization be carried out in accordance with the Constitution. Shared sacrifices will inevitably be borne, but we believe that the gains in terms of safety, stability and a sense of common purpose will far outweigh those losses.

Time line

The very short term 6 months:

We will launch and begin spreading the Pledge to Mobilize in the next 2 months. The People's Climate March on 9/21/14 will provide us with an opportunity to spread the Pledge to Mobilize to far flung areas of the United States. We hope to launch in Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada is the next 6 months, and continue adding countries in following months.

The Short Term 5-15 Years:

Within two years, and hopefully less, we hope to unleash an exponential process of transformation that awakens the United States, and the international community, to the crisis we face and to the fact that the only solution is a full-scale societal mobilization - a collective, heroic effort to save civilization.

The mobilization that we are calling for will last five years, an intense period of hard work, emergency preparation, and transition to a post-carbon energy and agricultural system.

Medium and Long term:

The Pledge does not specify what should occur after the five-year period called for by the mobilization, other than that we should stay within the global carbon budget laid out by Hansen et. al (2013). We believe that the global population and elected leaders, once fully awakened to the threat of climate change, will be able to consolidate the gains of the mobilization and maintain the goals of stabilizing the biosphere and civilization as our preeminent social and political priorities moving forward. 






Related proposals

The Climate Mobilization is an umbrella strategy; it provides an overall structure in which myriad other projects can flourish. The Pledge to Mobilize can work synergistically with a wide variety of other organizations.

A few co-lab projects exemplify how this could occur. For example, The Green Spot Project works better data on building energy use would help both city planners and mobilization leaders to coordinate strategy, but also to allow homeowners to better monitor and curtail their own energy use.  We are Ready (WAR) is an exciting, crowdsourced emergency response and assistance platform which could be implemented and elaborated during The Climate Mobilization. Our Horizon's innovative project of putting warning labels of gas nozzles could be incorporated into the public messaging of a climate mobilization. 


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