imagesGetting together at the holidays with family and friends is what many of us look forward to all year long. It also is a time that can be very stressful, where differences of opinions can create family ‘dramas’ which may seem better left to day time soap operas. Many topics we might want to talk about are often left “off the table” and not discussed. We encourage you this year, to take up some of these topics that you otherwise would not, and engage your children, your family and friends.

This guest post, “What Vote?” by New York University student Michelle Aboodi raises many important points and offers some excellent advice about why we all should be exercising our democratic right to vote. This right has been fought for in many wars, and many people have lost their lives so that we can vote. Yet, it seems that, across all age groups, we are not exercising this hard fought for right.

With so many people now taking to the streets over critical issues like equality, climate justice, and human rights, exercising our right to vote so that we ensure that our elected representatives hear us and really represent us, is critical. Take a moment to share this post and bring this important discussion to your holiday table…

Yours,

Climate Mama

What Vote?
By Michelle Aboodi

googleimagesvotingAt the age of ten, we get the glory of being double-digits.  In many cultures and religions, the passage from childhood to adulthood begins at age thirteen. We work to earn the ability to drive at the age of sixteen. At eighteen, in the United States, we have the opportunity to participate in democracy and cast our ballot for the people we want to make countrywide decisions and draft laws for us to follow. Elections impact my future and the future of the people and place I love. Turning eighteen meant that I could be more of an active political participant and I was excited at the possibilities for the future. Continue reading

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Photo ©2014 Julie Dermansky for Earthworks

Photo ©2014 Julie Dermansky for Earthworks

On December 14, 2014 we lost a champion, a warrior and a leader.

Theo Colborn “connected the dots.” She dedicated the last 30 years of her life to “compiling and disseminating the scientific evidence on the health and environmental problems caused by low level exposures to chemicals that interfere with development and function called, endocrine disruptors.’

She made the case that not only by keeping our “eyes wide shut” are we pushing our planet towards climate chaos, but through our reliance and expansion of fossil fuel production, we are creating multiple global health pandemics, and poisoning our children’s bodies forever.

In her last essay dated November 14, 2014, THE OVERLOOKED CONNECTION BETWEEN HUMAN HEALTH AND FOSSIL GASES, Dr. Colborn states: “Over the last 50 years as exposure to chemicals derived from fossil gases has increased so have the number of global pandemics attacking the human endocrine system.”

seenoevilkids“In the US alone, almost half the individuals born today will become diabetic and/or obese; one of every 88 babies born has autism spectrum disorder. For boys it’s one in 54. The cost of treatment and care for these problems along with infertility, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disorders, and hormone driven cancers are in the trillions but are in-estimable because they are increasing so rapidly. All of these disorders have been traced back to prenatal, early life, and/or adult exposure to chemicals derived from these oil and gas condensates that interfere with the normal function of the endocrine system that assures species integrity and perpetuity. Before the 1930s these ailments were rare.”

Take some time today, and learn more about Theo Colborn, mother, scientist, warrior, champion and hero. It’s Do Something Wednesday at ClimateMama, so why don’t you share Theo’s story and good work with someone you know today and talk to the kids in your life about what she was doing on their behalf.

Knowledge is power, and we need all the power we can get to fight AGAINST fossil fuels and FOR a renewable, sustainable future for our children and ourselves.

Yours,

Climate Mama

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10380888_796289300437716_4491939067659815859_nDisappointment, rage, and grief – all of these emotions and more were expressed by delegates at the latest round of United Nations climate negotiations held in Lima, Peru. Many of these negotiators are also parents and grandparents who – on December 14th, 2014, in the waning hours of the latest round of climate negotiations – saw their hopes and ours, dashed.

This isn’t the first time that we have put our hopes in government negotiators, and they have turned up short on solutions and long on talk. Through our work with grassroots organizations in the United States and around the world we are betting on the success of everyday people, in place of national and international climate negotiators, as we all work to solve and find solutions to human created climate change, the greatest challenge humanity will ever face.

Local people, fighting against fossil fuel giants and infrastructure in their own home towns are successfully joining forces and slowing things down, while at the same time pushing, demanding and creating renewable energy options, which scientists are telling us and mother nature is showing us is what we must do. After many years working on the international stage, I do personally recognize that the international treaties and agreements which our governments create and then ratify can be hugely important for us all, in particular as we hold our governments accountable for these commitments. Unfortunately we can’t put all our faith and hope in these agreements; the reality that they will materialize with binding commitments, is extremely slim.

To help visualize this, yet maintain hope in our future, join us and watch a powerful movie trailer of the award winning film on Climate Justice and Climate Change, 2 Degrees, by Jeff Canin. This movie helps us understand clearly the limitations of international climate negotiations while at the same time it gives us hope by introducing us to a community that effectively and successfully takes a stand against fossil fuels and for renewables. We loved this movie so much, that we are helping Jeff share and promote it, in it’s entirety. Through ClimateMama you now have the opportunity to purchase 2 Degrees directly. Watch it and share it with your friends, children, neighbors and community, find out how to do so, by clicking on the link below. Continue reading

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16072800-mmmainOn December 9th, 2014 I attended and testified at the open public meeting of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC). I was truly humbled, awed, and incredibly inspired. Over 50 citizens, from the ages of 11 to 80, testified before the Commission against the PennEast pipeline. The PennEast is a 36 inch fracked gas pipeline that if approved, would travel 108 miles, 87% of which would be within the boundaries of the Delaware River watershed – a watershed which 15 million people rely upon. This pipeline and it’s ensuing compressor stations and associated infrastructure, would travel from the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, to an end point in Mercer County New Jersey.

PennEast is one of a growing number of pipelines that are being pushed aggressively in the northeastern United States by the oil and gas industry. It is also one of the growing numbers of oil and gas infrastructure projects that is facing increasingly vocal community opposition. People are waking up to the local, regional and international threats posed by these projects which are now frequently coming directly through their back yards.

drbcGrandmothers, children, municipal council members, farmers, teachers, art historians, poets, professors and environmental organization and community leaders, one after another took their place at the podium. We all stood just below an iconic photo of George Washington crossing the Delaware; unanimously, each person called on the Commission to reject the project and preserve and protect our rights to clean air, clean water, and a livable and sustainable future. Each person spoke respectfully, intelligently, with thoughtfulness and foresight, and each person added something different and unique to the overwhelming reasons why this pipeline is wrong on so many, many levels.

The PennEast project proposal will be the first pipeline project where the DRBC has acknowledged its jurisdiction over an entire pipeline. This is an important decision, as many regional, municipal and federal bodies, including the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission, regularly segment pipeline projects, such that they only approve a “piece of it” neither considering the cumulative impacts of the project, nor the project in it’s entirety. Continue reading

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ChristmastreerockcenterOne day after “Giving Tuesday” and as you consider ways to make your family holidays and holiday traditions more sustainable, we are happy to share this special guest post by Climate Mama extraordinaire, Tiffany Kresinski with you. Tiffany helps remind us about ways we can make the holidays more simple, meaningful and easier, not just for us, but for our planet too! So today on “Do Something Wednesday” and on any day, take some time to talk to the kids in your life and remind them how and why we can all tread a little more softly on our planet, and why that’s important for us all.

Greeting your Holidays
by Tiffany Kresinski

It’s the holiday season. And once again, before we could even say goodbye to another Halloween and hello Thanksgiving, the holiday season is upon us, jumping out around every corner.

Not that I mind, as I like to soak up as much holiday joy and family time as I can. It’s always amazing how early these days creep up every year. And besides back to school, this is certainly what I consider our busiest time of year as a family. There always seem to be a few extra school functions, vacation days, family get-togethers, and of course, shopping. Between gifts and groceries, I feel like I’m in a constant state of back and forth between my home and my local market.

This year, while I try to make the coming holidays as special as possible for my family, I want to make a conscious effort to remember to really think through my purchase decisions and go about them in the most economical way that I can. This includes environmentally friendly purchases. It’s easy to get careless when we’re making last minute decisions, but with proper planning, we can make smarter choices. As these coming weeks can be truly hectic for many people, I’d like to share a 5 simple ideas with you that can make a big impact this season.

imagesMake it a habit to DIY and Donate

When you write your list of presents to buy this year, it’s important to consider whether you can make something yourself rather than buying a new item. I recommend checking out some DIY clothing and accessories boards for ideas on how to make it your own. Not only can these ideas save you money, you can get your kids involved and spend quality time helping them make gifts for their friends. Re-using the fabric from clothes they have grown out of has endless possibilities for crafts and repurposing. Older children can consider passing their hand-me-down clothes on to younger siblings or cousins. While sometimes this isn’t considered an exciting gift, they could include a letter about why they chose this gift for the recipient to add a special touch. If you find yourself with too much clothing they can’t wear or repurpose, consider donating it to a local nonprofit in need, or recycling the clothes that you can’t donate. It’s a wonderful feeling to see your family able to help others, especially during the holidays.

Shopping local is great to keep in mind all year round, but I’ve found that there are even more options for keeping it local in the fall and early winter seasons, when specialty crafters are circulating. Keep an eye out for craft fairs and holiday markets. Supporting your local economy is the best way to keep profits and growth at home instead of boosting a big corporation. Shop with your kids and help them learn the difference between a “need” versus a “want,” instead of agreeing or refusing to buy a given item. This kind of rational decision-making will serve them well for the rest of their lives.

Clean out your pantry. If you have relatives coming to town or if you need to bring a dish to someone else’s party, you might be surprised to find that you already have ingredients to make something without making a trip to the store. And again in the spirit of giving, you can donate anything that your family won’t use to a local shelter or food bank. Check out Ample Harvest, an organization that helps you find food pantries that accept fresh produce. This is great for gardeners as you finish up harvest season and close the garden before the winter freeze. If you have any surplus, there are certain food banks looking for your donations. And you can check out Feeding America to find a local food bank for your non-perishable items.

When it comes to packaging, think “reuse”
There are two main categories of eco-friendly packaging that you can use to help make your holiday season a little more green: packaging for leftover food and packaging for wrapping presents. Holiday dinners big and small tend to lead to the inevitable leftover meals. You can prepare ahead of time and make sure you have the proper containers on hand for keeping things in your own fridge, for sending food home with guests, and with packing for kids’ lunches if they’re not on a break. This holiday season is a great time to reevaluate your current food storage system. There are lots of options for reusable containers, and some are insulated to keep food warm or cold until lunchtime. Spend some time reading the labels, as many are manufactured without chemicals like BPA or PVC so they can be safely used in the microwave over and over. You can also find fun reusable zip-lock bags with unique designs. Any packaging that you give to relatives could be considered part of your gift to them, or you can always ask that they return it next time you go to see them.

Traditional gift-wrapping paper can be harmful to trees and lead to waste as it often goes straight into a landfill after a one-time use. There are so many alternative ways to wrap gifts, even as simple as buying fabric gift bags. Then you can wrap presents for your kids, collect the bags after they open them, and use them again for years to come. One of my favorite options is using pages from last year’s calendar, since you are almost done with it anyway! I also enjoyed reading The Prairie Homestead’s list of 15 ideas, such as the idea of using plain brown paper, or anything else that you can safely burn in your fireplace after. Pretty packaging that will later keep you warm, and won’t end up in a landfill? Sounds like a winter win-win.

I’ve lately gotten really excited by the concept of “cradle to cradle,” popularized by William McDonough, which essentially means reusing something as closely to its original purpose as possible. If you can use all scraps of material for an article of clothing- let’s say you use some to make a new clothing item and some as gift wrap- then you are getting the full potential of the material without creating waste. This helps minimize costs out of your pocket and costs to the environment. And just as important as helping our earth is talking to your kids about why you’re making the effort. They might be excited to learn that just by bringing a special container to school, they are being kind to the planet.

Keep decorations natural and trees local
When it comes to holiday decorating, one of the best things you can do is use natural materials in addition to the items you already have on hand. It’s easy to fix up old decorations from years past by adding new touches found from your yard or your home. Items like pinecones from outdoors, seashells collected on your last vacation, leftover yarn from a craft project, or last year’s holiday cards can all be used to create something new to spruce up your decorations.

Used with permission: EnviroDAD

Used with permission: EnviroDAD

If you are going to buy a live tree for your home, it’s best to get the tree from a local farm. These farms raise trees specifically for the holiday season, which means that cutting one down doesn’t detract from our natural forests. Also, if you go to a local farm and cut your own, you are helping to eliminate the transportation that goes into bringing trees to retailers. Once the holidays are over, you can bring your tree to a facility that will recycle it into wood chips and mulch.

Overall, when it comes to holiday preparation, my rule of thumb is use what you own or can make, before resorting to buying new. And for anything you can do without, consider giving to other families who could use your donations. Happy green holidays!

Tiffany Kresinski is a wife and mother who blogs about her experiences as she tries to live a more sustainable and economic lifestyle. She’s always looking to share any tips she learns along the way, and learn from other people who share her passion for the planet.

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thanksgiving snowEarly snowfall across many parts of the United States is making Thanksgiving look a lot more like Christmas! Many of our children (and many of us) are already racing outside to play in the snow. When we come back inside, hot chocolate by the wood stove or fireplace is often where memories are made and family stories shared.

Something to think about and talk to the kids in your life: how, where, when and what we burn for heat, cooking or simply enjoyment, can make a significant difference regarding local air pollution and global climate change.

We are therefore thrilled to bring you some important tips from our friends at Clean Air Partners. Share these tips with your family and friends this holiday season.

Clean Air Partners’ Guide to Staying Warm While Being Kind to Your Lungs

woodburningstoveGet Ready: Start the holiday season by choosing an EPA-approved wood burning stove or fireplace insert feature with improved safety and efficiency reduces the amount of toxins released. They produce almost no smoke, minimal ash, and require less firewood. Cleaner wood-burning stoves can reduce your fuel bill in addition to protecting your health. EPA-certified stoves produce only 2 to 7 grams of smoke per hour, as compared to older uncertified stoves that release 15 to 30 grams of smoke per hour. Continue reading

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As Climate Mamas and Papas, sharing information about the climate crisis, the realities we face, and the ticking time bomb that is before us is often on the tip of our tongues. Speaking from experience, however, there are times when my well meaning facts and updates are not only NOT welcomed, but very poorly received, even from my own family members!

IMG_1587With Thanksgiving and the winter holidays around the corner, and the opportunity to talk “shop” with many friends and relatives that may have limited knowledge about the current state of the climate crisis, the dinner table is a unique opportunity to help people see and learn more. But as the saying goes: “presentation is everything.” So to help you set up the conversation, and not fall into any “traps,” we are thrilled to bring you some wonderful advice from one of our favorite California Climate Mama’s, Lisa Bennett. At Climate Mama, we greatly admire and respect Lisa, and appreciate her wise counsel and words of advice. Lisa’s post, “Three Traps to Avoid When Speaking About the Environment,” was first published on her website, LisaBennett.org on October 31st, 2014, we are honored to repost it – in it’s entirety – just in time for the holidays.

Yours,

Climate Mama

Three Traps to Avoid When Speaking About the Environment
By Lisa Bennett

My 15-year-old son is a smart, responsible kid with a very strong sense of right and wrong. But he groans when I remind him to toss his empty can in the recycling, and he rolls his eyes when he hears people talk about climate change.

Given that I’ve spent much of the past decade thinking about the environment (and, because I have children, thinking especially about climate change) his dismissiveness baffled me until I asked him: “Do you think taking care of the environment is stupid?”

“No,” he answered. “I think taking care of the environment is really important. What’s stupid is how people talk about it.”

Oh, right. That. Continue reading

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November 19, 2014 Day 3 of protests at Massachusetts State House

November 19, 2014 Day 3 of protests at Massachusetts State House

With dignity and humility mothers across the United States are standing up, speaking out and even risking arrest; showing their children, neighbors and communities, that actions speak louder then words. Over the past few months, mothers in places like Oakland and Mahwah, New Jersey; Seneca Lake and Minisink, New York; Boston, Massachusetts; Montpelier, Vermont; San Benito, California; Mars, Pennsylvania; Denton, Texas; Longmont and Broomfield, Colorado, and Cove Point, Maryland, to name only a few, are taking strong stands and even risking arrest to bring attention to immediate dangers from the widespread explosion of extreme energy exploration and infrastructure build out, which is threatening our air, water, food, health, economy, security, future and now.

In the northeast where I live, across New Jersey and New York, mothers and concerned citizens are working with their towns and counties governments to pass resolutions to stop the Pilgrim Pipeline, a fossil fuel infrastructure project which would traverse New Jeresy and New York from Albany to Linden, bringing two dangerous oil pipelines near our homes, schools and through our watersheds, creating immediate health and security risks, and perpetuating long term health and climate dangers.

On November 19th, Dr. Sandra Steingraber, mother, scientist, author and cancer survivor was sentenced to serve 15 days in a New York jail for a peaceful act of civil disobedience; this the second time that this mother has served time in jail in the past 1 1/2 years for peaceful civil disobedience.

sandrasenecaBeginning on October 23rd, Dr. Steingraber and many other concerned citizens have held daily protests to bring attention to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reckless decision to expand the storage of methane in crumbling salt caverns that underlie the west bank of Seneca Lake; threatening the drinking supply of over 100,000. Dr. Steingraber stands in unity with her neighbors, united to stop a dangerous plan to turn her community into a “giant gas station for fracking.” These actions can be followed at We Are Senaca Lake.

Sandra Steingraber is my hero, a fighter for truth and justice and fierce protector of children who, as part of The Mothers Project, penned our letter to Mrs. Obama to bring her attention to the crisis we are facing as a result of the production and use of extreme forms of energy. The letter was first published in the New York Times, on Mothers Day weekend 2012.

Yours,

Climate Mama and..
…..Board Member at The Mothers Project

Photo Credit: Mothers Out Front, Massachusetts State House

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640px-Pollinationn“It is useless to attempt to preserve a living species unless the kind of land or water it requires is also preserved. So delicately interwoven are the relationships that when we disturb one thread of the community fabric we alter it all — perhaps almost imperceptibly, perhaps so drastically that destruction follows.” Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, 1962

Often, when I discuss and explain climate change, I keep in mind and regularly share, Rachel Carson’s reminders about the inter-connectedness of our natural world, and how pulling “one thread” can unravel us all. “Connecting the dots” is something we must always do, as siloing climate change as strictly an “environmental issue” sends the wrong message and doesn’t offer broad enough solutions. In a similar way the decline of our pollinators, bees and butterflies, mustn’t be put into a silo, but rather connected to all that is happening around us.

While scientists have yet to pinpoint exactly what is causing the collapse of bee colonies around the world, many reasons are known, and the importance of bees to our food security and our world, is without question. New research released on November 6th, also clearly points to how climate change is contributing to this collapse. Dr Karen Robbirt, University of East Anglia (UEA) said the research, published in Current Biology, is “the first clear example, supported by long-term data, of the potential for climate change to disrupt critical [pollination] relationships between species.” Continue reading

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#askDrHAt the request of Dr. Holdren, Director of The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, we are sharing his letter to us with all our Climate Mamas and Papas. He wants to hear from us all and will try to answer our climate questions – see below for the full text of his November 13, 2014 letter.

Here are our top 3 questions, what are yours?

1. How can we immediately change the “all of the above energy policy” of the White House so that ALL fossil fuels (not just coal) are removed as an acceptable energy option? With 97% of all climate scientists in agreement, their latest IPCC report confirms the facts and sounds the alarm: climate change is here, now and caused by humans, primarily through the burning of fossil fuels. The report goes on to recommend to policy makers to move quickly to renewable energy and to develop policies that keep fossil fuels in the ground. The report tells us that the security and future of the human species is at risk, but that we still have time to act, if we start now. Seem pretty clear that “all of the above” isn’t the right policy course of action.

2. Why are congressional and senate committees still debating the facts of climate change instead of moving immediately to policy solutions? How can we help you help bring this absurdity to light?

Photo courtesy: Protecting Our Children Coaltion

Photo courtesy: Protecting Our Children Coaltion

3. How can we help you bring the latest studies on the health impacts of fracking to light so that a national fracking ban can be established and the precautionary approach be put into place. Americans are being poisoned now, as is the air we breath, the food we eat and the water we drink. How do we connect these dots to the longer term climate impacts of fossil fuel infrastructure and development? The White House Climate Action plan is an excellent step towards addressing and tackling the climate crisis we face. However, it is critical that fracked gas not be an option or a transitional tool. Natural gas is a fossil fuel, period. And to add injury to insult, our children and families are being sickened NOW by fossil fuel infrastructure, in particular fracked oil and gas infrastructure.

Grab the kids in your life, ask them what their questions for Dr. Holdren are, and then you and your kids can share your questions on twitter, vine, instagram and Facebook at #AskDrH. Share your questions with us too so we can share them with other Climate Mamas and Papas!

From The White House Continue reading

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