For this volunteer, CCL and Climate Reality Project go hand-in-hand

Climate Reality

Brian Ettling giving a talk at a Climate Reality Project training event.

For this volunteer, CCL and Climate Reality Project go hand-in-hand

By Steph Zhu

This is a tale of full circles.

Brian Ettling has been a committed CCL member since May 2012. As a former park ranger now living in Portland, Ore., Brian witnessed climate change first hand and got activated. His journey to becoming a climate change warrior led him down a path, discovering the Climate Reality Project and connecting with one of its inspiring Climate Reality Leaders, Dr. Peter Joseph.

When Brian started Climate Reality meetups in his home of St. Louis, Missouri, he found that someone from an organization called Citizens’ Climate Lobby (hey, that’s us!) would attend and encourage him to join the group. He attended his first CCL meeting in May 2012, where CCL Executive Director Mark Reynolds opened with the quote, “Action is the antidote for despair.” This was quoted from none other than Climate Reality Project’s Dr. Peter Joseph. For Brian, this was the universe speaking loud and clear. Since then, he has been an active member for both organizations and has learned something valuable: these organizations complement each other well.

The Climate Reality Project was started by Al Gore in November 2006. In order to reduce the threat of climate change, Gore knew that disseminating accurate information is a key way to inspire change. This project does that by training and empowering Climate Reality Leaders. These leaders span the ages of 7 to 87 and are spread across 149 countries, giving almost 27,500 climate change presentations throughout the world.

With these leaders in place to spread the seeds of climate change activation, Citizens’ Climate Lobby offers a specific, targeted answer. The Carbon Fee and Dividend proposal offers a broad solution to the excess emissions driving climate change and therefore, offers something tangible that people can support. Brian discovered this quickly and began to bridge the two organizations. He went out to the field to Climate Reality trainings and began talking up CCL.

Bringing others along

Climate Reality volunteers

Lucas Sabalka (left) and Brian Ettling

In 2012, Brian met Dr. Lucas Sabalka at one of the trainings. He saw that Lucas was from his hometown of St. Louis, and promptly suggested he attend CCL meetings in St. Louis. His suggestion ended up being fruitful, as Lucas went to the next CCL meeting upon arriving home. This sparked his journey of becoming an active advocate for Carbon Fee and Dividend. Lucas ended up moving to Nebraska in 2013 and took CCL with him. He lobbied to the Congress members of Nebraska for their support, wrote an op-ed in the local newspaper, attended the conference in Washington, D.C., and has continued to be an active member of CCL until this day, six years later.

When they chatted recently, Lucas talked about how he was excited to meet someone from his hometown who shared his passion of helping the Earth. He said, “Global warming can be a depressing and isolating topic, so it’s important to make connections with people around you and support each other.”

In addition to the relationships, Lucas is motivated by his perspective as a professor and scientist. “As a scientist, the logical effectiveness and bipartisan appeal of the [Carbon Fee and Dividend] proposal quickly made sense,” he said. “I’m still involved in CCL today because I think it is the only proposal out there that comes close to matching the size of the challenge we face while growing the economy.”

Quiet connections

Brian is able to spread his passion in a way that inspires others to get involved deeply and strive to impact true change for the climate change movement. Tony Sirna is another tale of someone who experienced Brian’s enthusiasm in a more subtle way and became heavily engaged.

Climate Reality

Brian at a Climate Reality Project training

Tony was Brian’s mentee during a Climate Reality training in Chicago in 2013. During this time, Brian went about his usual efforts to bridge the organizations, and left CCL brochures out. He lost touch with Tony, and everyone resumed their regular lives after the training.

Then, on a fateful day in November 2015, Brian attended CCL’s Congressional Education Day in Washington, D.C. To his surprise, he ran into Tony Sirna working on staff for CCL as their Data and Strategy Coordinator. Out of curiosity, he asked Tony, “How did you end up getting involved with CCL?”

Tony responded, “I saw a CCL brochure at the 2013 Climate Reality training I attended in Chicago. When I got home, I did further research on CCL from the information on that brochure.” Full circles, indeed.

Even though it took time, Brian had the reward of seeing his efforts pay off through these two activated participants of CCL, and many others as well. It goes to show how the effort and intention you put out there into the world will be rewarded. Just like all our volunteers’ diverse outreach efforts, Brian’s efforts with Climate Reality have spread CCL to more people who can enact change and create waves for the movement.

Brian continues to be involved with both organizations, including being a mentor at the Climate Reality training in Los Angeles from August 28-30. This time, Brian will be leading a session that will be seen by all 2000+ volunteers attending this training. And will he continue to spread the CCL love? You betcha! During his talk called “How to customize the Climate Reality presentation and how to find an audience,” he will emphasize joining CCL as a way to network to find audiences to give climate change talks to, and endorse Carbon Fee and Dividend, of course. While not on stage, he will continue to advocate for participation in both organizations. Thanks for your hard work, Brian!

The Climate Reality Corps Action Team

Cathy Orlando, CCL’s International Outreach Manager, and Brian currently co-lead the Climate Reality Leadership Corps Action Team within CCL. The team exists to strengthen and foster the relationship between Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) and Climate Reality Project (CRP) volunteers and organizations, focused on Climate Leaders who are also CCL volunteers in the USA, Canada, and across the world.

The team meets several times per year, and the next call will likely be on Wednesday, Oct. 24. The choices for joining us on Zoom are:

  • Time 1: 6 am PT / 9 am ET
  • Time 2: 6 pm PT / 9 pm ET

Full details are on the team’s CCL Community page: Climate Reality Leadership Corps. If you are a Climate Reality Leader and a Citizens’ Climate Lobby volunteer, we hope you will join us to exchange ideas with folks who volunteer for both organizations.

Steph Zhu joined CCL in February 2018 and is a volunteer in the San Francisco chapter.