When it comes to combating global warming, it all comes down to "the common," says Larry Lohmann, English author and environmental activist.

Speaking Saturday at "The Progressive Agenda for 2008," Lohmann told a gathering at the University of Utah that the struggle to maintain common, or public, space against private development has been going on for centuries.

"People need to see a connection between their struggle and the climate struggle by joining together," he said, pointing to grass-roots efforts against airport expansion in his homeland.

"They are very self-consciously linked to the issue of climate change," he says. "But it's not only about climate change." It's about green space, noise pollution, the local economy.

The Progressive Agenda conference focused on areas ranging from health care to the environment to immigration. Summer Smith, an event organizer and U. student, says it's critical "to get people thinking about what we need to do to advance 2008." Smith hopes people will make a difference, even if it's through small actions such as recycling or using energy-efficient light bulbs.

During his presentation, Lohmann said the struggle needs to also focus on the emerging carbon-trade, which he says does nothing to combat the earth's overall carbon levels.

"What is being privatized is the earth's carbon capacity," he says. "This capacity like land was in a previous age, is being privatized, chopped off and distributed."

Lohmann spoke after a screening of Al Gore's film, "An Inconvenient Truth."

Lohmann credits Gore with presenting a stark description of the evidence for and consequences of global warming. However, Lohmann is critical of Gore's support for the Kyoto Accord, a 1997 agreement, in which the U.S. doesn't participate, that commits countries to lower their carbon emissions.

However, Lohmann says, the accord's allowance for carbon trading doesn't make sense. He equates it like this: "You can continue to take the black stuff out of the ground as long as you plant a lot of trees, for example, and everything will be all right."

For Lohmann the solution involves working together and networking among community groups, advocating from issues ranging from peace to universal health care, across the globe.

"All of these privatization movements are the same thing," he says. "We can't leave things up to the experts, to the politicians, or to the Al Gores any more."

E-mail: dbulkeley@desnews.com