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Writer Laura Matthews is heading to D.C. this weekend to lobby for legislation to combat global warming. (photo by Laura Matthews)

SANTA MONICA BLVD — As she did research for her sci-fi novel, “While Rome Burns,” a look at a world devastated by climate change, Santa Monican Laura Matthews discovered a new passion — fighting global warming.

Since then, she has become more active in the movement, spreading the word about the many hazards associated with the rising global temperatures.

This weekend Matthews will be traveling to the Citizens Climate Lobby 2012 International Conference in Washington, D.C., to petition Congress to enact more environmentally-friendly legislation.

“You can look at [global warming] as this really bad thing, but on the other hand we are still this extraordinary human race and we can really turn it around,” Matthews said. “I sincerely believe that.”

Matthews and others from the Citizens Climate Lobby will first advocate for the creation of a revenue-neutral carbon fee. This way if a company decides to spew carbon, they have to pay for it. This would encourage them to find an alternative to this harmful practice, Matthews said.

Other than just asking Congress to enact such legislation, Matthews is also excited to learn from expert speakers and connect with lawmakers.

“The most important thing for me is learning to listen to each other and learning to talk to each other,” said Matthews, who is paying her own way to attend the conference. “There has been such polarization about this issue, people just throw up their hands. Citizens Climate Lobby is committed to creating a dialogue and creating connections.”

In Matthews’ novel the hero gets vaulted back to ancient Rome through time travel and tries to find out what needs to be done to prevent this climate change disaster.

During her initial planning stages, Matthews was trying to figure out what big crisis the protagonist would have to face. She researched global warming, and after learning more about it she realized that she should become an activist.

For the past month, Matthews has been involved with the Citizens Climate Lobby after finding out about them on Twitter.

“I found out about the conference and got this inner ping that this would be a great thing to do,” Matthews said. “Citizens Climate Lobby has 48 or so groups all over the country and it seemed surprising to me that Santa Monica doesn’t have one since we’re so green. I’m hoping to start something here in Santa Monica.”

Matthews sincerely believes that all Santa Monicans should be passionate about fighting climate change, and is especially focused on the idea of self-sufficiency. She said that even though Santa Monica produces most of its own water, it can still go a long way as far as being self-sufficient in electricity.

Being a Santa Monican for most of the 1990s, Matthews missed it terribly when she traveled back east for a job in ’99. After her employment ended, she did everything she could to get back here.

“I love this town, I’m very connected to it,” Matthews said. “I’ve always lived about 10 feet from Santa Monica Boulevard, and there’s an energy here that I would love to preserve.”

Matthews tries to get everything done by foot. She only put roughly 4,000 miles on her car last year. She loves being near the Third Street Promenade, and going to the Los Liones Trail where she can look out at the water all the way to Catalina.

“Santa Monica is a very busy town filled with terrific people and we’re just steps from the most beautiful places on Earth,” Matthews said. “Having lived in New England for many years, I love being able to go outdoors every day.”

Through her work with the Citizens Climate Lobby as well as through her novel, Matthews hopes to inspire other Santa Monicans to take a stand.

“The storytelling technique will fire up people’s imaginations,” Matthews said. “They can’t quite picture it yet. In fiction we can create a picture. So that’s my goal with that, and I hope that people will realize that we need to change what’s happening.”

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