Somewhere along the way I signed an online petition, and now I’m on every bleedingheart- liberal list that exists. Every day my e-mail inbox is filled with posts from dedicated activist organizations. Some days it feels overwhelming because there are so many worthwhile causes to which I, too, would like to dedicate my life—especially those that support abused women, children and animals or endangered species. In the face of all that dedicated effort, I easily become wracked with guilt and feel like a slacker. It’s OK: Guilt is the price one pays for being a bleedingheart- liberal. I’m used to it.

This week, I’ve been receiving lots of posts about COP15—the UN’s big summit on climate change. The summit began on a day when it rained in Southern California, and for those of us living in a droughtplagued area, any visit from the rain gods is a big deal. We acknowledge them with reverence and gratitude. The desertification of the Southwest region of this country is not something to speculate about. It is happening. Fast. Any lingering denial of this reality is foolhardy in the extreme. It’s not apocalyptic hyperbole to declare that we’ve got a serious crisis on our hands.

But if misery loves company, we can take solace in the fact that we are not alone. The same thing is occurring in India, China, Australia and parts of sub-Saharan Africa. This is a worldwide crisis. So I’m paying close attention to what takes place at the summit because the attendees have the power to insist that strict international laws are imposed to put a cap on carbon emissions.

Both the rain and the summit should be cause for optimism. But are they? Will a day’s worth of rain, or, even, as predicted, an El Niño season’s worth, replenish the soil, the lakes and the rivers sufficiently to get us through another decade? Will the agreement created and signed by the conference attendees provide the necessary panacea to halt the extensive damage already done much less reverse the trend? Most experts (i.e., scientists) think not.

Despite the skepticism, what encourages me to get out of bed in the morning is the grassroots efforts of people like Bill McKibben and his 350 movement; Van Jones and his Green for All organization; Vendana Shiva’s support of sustainable agriculture; and Mohamed Nasheed, president of Maldives, and his pledge to make Maldives carbon neutral within 10 years (the only country to do so). These are just a few of the many individuals who are dedicated to making the world a better place for all of its inhabitants, flora and fauna alike. Not least of whom are the contributors to this magazine and all members of the Edible Communities.

The number of unsung heroes who believe in action, not rhetoric, is legion. As I said, I see evidence of their efforts every day in my inbox. And of course many are in our own back yard—from organic farmers committed to sustainability, to members of the School Board who are dedicated to ensuring that our children have access to nutritious food, to individuals who donate their time to feeding the homeless, to those who walk dogs and clean kennels at the local animal shelter. To individuals like Dulanie Ellis-La Barre, whose enthusiasm for neighbors helping neighbors is contagious.

By the time this magazine goes to the printer, COP15 will be yesterday’s news. But the problems it addresses will still be with us. It’s up to each one of us to pressure our lawmakers to take the crisis of climate change seriously, and to impose strong laws that deal with it decisively. This is not something we can compromise on for “political” reasons.

And while we’re saving the planet, let’s not forget to eat, drink and be merry! My resolutions for the New Year include “drinking the moon” with Lisa Kring, eating lots of raw chocolate with Roxanne Klein and inviting Joline Godfrey to a potluck dinner.

Jane Handel

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