New Sustainability Skill Unlocked

Writing Letters to the Editor

I wrote recently about how I’m practicing at writing public comments on environmental regulations, and that this is a key sustainability skill (along with advocacy more broadly). Now that I’ve done a couple more, it’s gotten easier.

The next skill in my sights was writing letters to the editor. This is like writing comments, but comes with the added complication that the editor has to pick your letter and choose to run it.

I’d tried it before without success. Not paper-your-wall-with-rejection-letters levels of trying, but enough for it to feel like a big deal when…

I got published this time! In two local newspapers: Easy Reader and Beach Reporter. You can check out the published versions, and I’ve also included my letter (about cities pledging net zero GHG emissions) at the end of this post.

This is how I feel right now…

LTEs are a relatively low-barrier-to-entry way to make a point.

Indivisible says:

The humble Letter to the Editor has stayed influential in politics even as social media platforms have come and (some) gone.

Indivisible post

The ACLU says:

 In addition to writing letters to your members of Congress, sending letters to the editor are important advocacy goals because they:
– reach a large audience
– are often monitored by elected officials
– can bring up information not addressed in a news article
– create an impression of widespread support for or opposition to an issue

ACLU post

Both of the posts linked above have great tips on how to write an LTE. Let me know if you try it!

Here’s the letter I wrote in full (before shortening it to meet the papers’ word limits):

The recent wildfires and extreme weather in California are an unmistakable signal that climate change has arrived. The time window for incremental improvements has ended, and bold action is required, now.

Our top priority should be to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and protect our ecosystems.

The most basic step toward taking these actions is to pledge our intentions. Our cities need to set science-based emissions targets that will set us on a trajectory to net-zero GHG emissions by 2050.

And yet, only six of the 88 cities in LA county have taken even this most foundational step by joining the UN Race to Zero initiative. These six are Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Glendale, Los Angeles, Lakewood, and Manhattan Beach.

The other 82 cities must step up.

Californians have watched the national developments in climate policy with bated breath, including the recent deal between Senators Schumer and Manchin on climate provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act, and President Biden’s executive actions to invest in renewables. 

However, California, with our well-earned reputation for innovation and progress, must lead the nation by taking action in our own cities. We don’t need to wait for national policy or the least proactive among us to take action.

If you are concerned about the state of the planet we will leave for our children’s generation, you should contact your mayor’s office and demand they pledge emissions reduction targets by joining Cities Race to Zero, and follow through on this plan year over year.

Is your city committed to making the deep changes that this moment in history calls for?

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