parisAfter all the back slapping, high fiv’ing, check kisses and congratulatory popping of champagne corks, as 195 countries signed off on the Paris Climate Agreement on December 12, 2015, we must now face our sober reality in the light of day. The Paris climate conference, or COP21, didn’t “solve” global warming – we didn’t even come close – we didn’t come up with a concrete plan and our children’s world and future remains severely threatened. What world leaders did acknowledge, and what is a critically important starting point is: “The sh$%*t has hit the fan.”

What we did in Paris was pull the curtain aside just a little bit more. We all looked out of the same window and we collectively acknowledged seeing the same mega storm brewing. We know it’s at least a category 5 hurricane – and in our heart of hearts we know it is in fact much worse.

What we did in the lead up to Paris and at the conference itself, and what we must do in the conference’s aftermath, is clearly and forcefully continue to stand by the “gauntlet” we have laid at the feet of our world leaders, and we must stand fast – demanding sustained and real action. Paris was about coming face to face with the realities of climate change, acknowledging it is here, now and threatening our survival. The final agreement has been carefully worded and crafted, it lays out hopes for what we should do, it apologizes for what we haven’t done, but what it doesn’t do, is lay out a clear path on how we will get to where we need to go. Will we be able to protect ourselves and weather the storm? Not with this Paris agreement – but it is at least a floor to stand on, which is more than we had before.

Paris was a clear acknowledgment that there is a mega storm off our shores. But instead of racing forward immediately with short term plans to weather this impending mega storm, and with long term programs, policies and plans to deal with the recovery needed, the Paris agreement – after facing reality – gives us too much time to “catch our breath” as we “wait just a little longer” watching the winds howl and blow.

okc2“Tell the truth, actions speak louder than words, and we aren’t afraid.” Our job, post Paris is to live by this mantra and to keep sustained pressure on all our leaders – politicians, business, religious and community leaders – who have taken the first steps by “telling the truth.” Actions must now be put into place – urgently and firmly. We know they are afraid; but we must demand they be fearless. Our children’s eyes – looking into ours, trusting us to protect them – won’t allow for inaction or fear.

Top 5 agreed to outcomes from Paris, what was decided: Continue reading

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IMG_4021After spending 13 years working at the United Nations where I followed global discussions on a range of issues, including climate change…I am a realist. The United Nations can only accomplish so much. The rest as they say…“Is up to us.” We will share our ClimateMama “post COP21 wrap up” early next week, but we wanted to leave you on this last official day of the negotiations with an inspiring reminder of why we cannot and must not give up. Last year at the United Nations Summit on Climate Change, I had the honor of interviewing Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, the young mother from the Marshall Islands who delivered the opening address at the Summit.

Kathy passionately and decisively spoke to our world leaders, sharing a promise she delivered to her 7 month old daughter, Matafele Peinem, who was with her in the General Assembly Hall. Kathy was calm but incredibly forceful when she said that: “we all deserve to do more than just survive, we deserve to thrive.” Kathy made it all seem simple; at the end of the day, would we not all – world leaders included – do whatever it takes to ensure that our children will not only survive, but thrive? Sadly and as we know, it is more complicated than it should be, and we still have a long way to go…even knowing what we know..

Each of us CAN and MUST make a difference. So as we all take stock of what did, and did not get accomplished in Paris take some time this weekend to enjoy your family and to be in nature; cherishing what we have and also recognizing what is at risk. As well, invite your children to join you and listen to Kathy’s message to her daughter and our world leaders..You will be inspired and fortified….

With hope, gratitude and in solidarity,

Climate Mama

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ourkidsclimatephotosDear Tomorrow: “We tried…but no one paid attention.”

Is that what we will tell our children and grandchildren? We tried, but the world was paralyzed. No, we must and we will tell them we stayed the course, and the world changed. In December 2015, world governments, mayors, parlimentarians, environmental and justice organizations, indigenous people from all over the world, moms, dads, and caring and concerned individuals came to Paris for the United Nations Climate Conference. Outside of the main conference rooms where government representatives worked through the night hammering out language for the final conference agreement, all others came to Paris to bear witness – to show our commitment and sustained demands for climate solutions. Those in Paris are supported by millions of us around the world who understand and who are deeply alarmed, concerned and saddened about our future, our today and what is happening to the world.

At the same time as the Paris Climate Conference is taking place, temperatures hover in the mid-50’s and could reach the mid 60’s in the New York metropolitan area – no snow has fallen yet this holiday season and temperatures have been 10-15 degrees above normal. Many people are thrilled with the warmer than usual weather. The morning news programs talk about the “perfect shopping weather” as people leave their homes in light jackets; their seasonal boots, mittens, winter coats and scarves still stored away in their unopened “winter storage boxes.” The weather isn’t normal, and we must help people connect the dots.

Used with permission; photos by: Joel Lukhovi | Survival Media Agency

Used with permission; photos by: Joel Lukhovi | Survival Media Agency

It isn’t easy though to keep people’s sustained attention on our changing climate and on the critical need for solutions and actions. The big “asks” in Paris and the main hoped for outcomes include: keeping temperature rise to 2.0 or more hopefully 1.5 degrees C above preindustrial levels; and for governments to set a concrete goal, that will allow the world to transition to 100% renewable energy by mid-century. These are critical and extremely important goals for governments to agree on. Once decided, we then can keep constant pressure on at home; holding our governments accountable to these commitments. But for many people, grasping the difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees seems insignificant, and transitioning off of fossil fuels anytime soon seems like someone else’s job and a job for the distant future. Continue reading

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UN Climate Conference Heads of State Paris, 2015 Attribution: UNClimateChange Creative Commons

UN Climate Conference Heads of State Paris, 2015 Attribution: UNClimateChange Creative Commons

There is a lot of talk and hype about the United Nations Climate Conference or COP21 which is taking place in Paris, France, November 30-December 11, 2015. More then 150 heads of state are expected, as are government representatives from over 190 countries. In addition, 10’s of thousands of additional people including representatives of non-governmental organizations, civil society, i.e. social justice and environmental organizations, world media, company representatives, and just “regular folks” will be in Paris for the Climate Conference.

The Conference is touted by many as our “last and greatest hope” for solving the climate crisis. In his address at the opening of COP21 on November 30th, President Obama stated: “Let that be the common purpose here in Paris. A world that is worthy of our children.” Will all our climate problems be solved if countries reach an agreement in Paris? What will the Paris climate agreement really look like and will it truly be “worthy” of our children?

So that you can be “in the know” and have the facts, we have prepared a short “cheat sheet” that answers some basic questions about the conference, including what to expect. We want you to be able to easily share this information with the kids in your life, with your family and with your friends. As Climate Mamas and Papas we know that people look to us to help them understand the facts. Our Executive Director and Climate Mama extraordinaire, Harriet, who worked on and attended many of the meetings on climate held at the United Nations, including the first United Nations Earth Summit in 1992, will help us make sense of what is going on in Paris.

Attribution: Cayce, Creative Commons

Attribution: Cayce, Creative Commons

A KEY point and one to keep in mind when reading anything about the UN Paris climate conference is: We ALREADY know what each country has committed to do to reduce it’s greenhouse gases. County plans from over 150 countries have already been submitted to the United Nations and are publicly available. And we know, because scientists have “added up” these commitments, that as currently written, these plans will NOT get to where we need to be. However, most scientists agree that current commitments are a clear and positive start forward. But, as the saying goes, getting “close” only counts when playing horseshoes. So, we want to reiterate our ClimateMama mantra and remind our world leaders: “Tell the truth, actions speak louder then words, and don’t be afraid.” We must go farther, faster and we must go together….Our future, and that of our children depends on this!

The Paris Climate Change Talks: All You Need to Know

What makes this UN Climate Conference different than previous conferences?
Government representatives, policy folks, scientists, environmentalists and media that cover and attend these meetings, all agree that THIS Climate Conference represents a critical turning point. This Paris Conference is being looked at as a powerful “signal” for real and sustained action. All governments are in agreement about the seriousness of the crisis the world faces, even if they are all not on the same page about the order and magnitude of what needs to be done to slow down the crisis that we all face. In addition it seems that all over the world – “regular people” (and that means us) – in addition to politicians, environmentalists and journalists, have also woken up to the fact that climate change isn’t something of the distant future, but is in fact happening now. Continue reading

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With the holidays upon us, get togethers with good friends, shared family meals and office and colleague parties will be filling up our calendars and lighting up many of our days and evenings.

We all know it’s easy to go overboard at the holidays, not only with what we eat, but also with what we don’t – and therefore with what regularly get’s thrown away. New York Climate Mama extraordinaire, Beth Radow, shares some easy and important ideas to help us ensure that our holidays and times spent together aren’t “wasted.” One of the many hats that Beth wears is that of Endorser of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Food Recovery Challenge, a program that is helping people work towards the national goal of reducing food waste by 50% in the next 15 years.

Grab the kids in your life and watch this short video together; learn a few things from Beth about “food waste” and how to prevent it.

A few take aways from Beth’s video that you can share at your holiday table and parties:

1. 40% of food we produce in the US never get’s eaten.
2. Each one of us throws out 1/2 lb of food, or more, each and every day.
3. The average American family “throws out” $2,225 a year – by “wasting” food.

Follow up by sharing these easy to introduce ideas that can help counter waste, create a more sustainable climate, and help your neighbors and community at the same time.

1. Buy only the food you need.
2. Eat leftovers and what’s in your fridge and freezer before buying new food.
3. Make everyday Thanksgiving by donating to your local food pantry.

Watch and share Beth’s wonderful video which has more tips, suggestions and solutions. What are some of your ideas? Ask your kids for their ideas too and do share them with us.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Climate Mama

Elisabeth—Beth–Radow, Esq. practices law in the areas of real estate, finance and conservation efforts toward environmental, economic and social sustainability. Beth is a Professor of Sustainability Action at Manhattanville College in New York, chairs the Committee on Energy, Agriculture and the Environment for the League of Women Voters of NYS and is a member of the Town of Mamaroneck’s professional volunteer Sustainability Collaborative.

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shutterstock_11256511This is a different kind of post from our usual, but one that I am glad to share with you. We get to meet many wonderful people in our ClimateMama travels; many of whom seem like old friends from the first time we meet. My colleague and Wisdom Bloggers Sisterhood partner, Stacy is one of these people. The Wisdom Bloggers Sisterhood regularly reminds me to open my consciousness in new and unimagined ways.. Quite an introduction right? Read on…

Cheryl S. Bridges new book, Me Myself and I – 28 Days of Creative Self Love, has been one of my new projects this past month. As we at ClimateMama talk with our Climate Mamas and Papas all over the world, trying to make some sense of the senseless tragedies unfolding, and as we work to stay positive and focused on the Paris United Nations Global Climate talks, Cheryl’s advice and reminders of ways to nurture and take care of ourselves, have been very welcomed and relevant. Continue reading

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ourkidsclimatephotosWe get asked all the time: “Tell me what I can do that will make a difference on climate change?” Easy…watch and listen as one of our favorite Climate Papa’s Paul Reale shares his thoughts and ideas with us all. Each of us CAN make a difference…Also, while you are at it, take a minute to sign on to Our Kids Climate petition calling on world leaders to take strong action on Climate Change!

Give it Up for the Planet
Paul Reale

Ten years ago, the threat that the climate crisis posed to the next generation awakened my long-dormant wish to do environmental work. My career change was under way. One of my first roles was as a presenter for what is now the Climate Reality Project. Further roles have included entrepreneur with an energy efficiency start up, a sustainability consultant in the green building industry, a teacher of many subjects in sustainability to real estate professionals, architects, engineers and building operators, and, well, the list goes on. So when people ask me “what do you do”, sometimes I have a hard time being concise.

But one role hasn’t changed for over 17 years: Dad. Or to use the ClimateMama vernacular, a “Climate Papa”.

In September I was offered a TEDx stage in New York City, but not just any stage, one at my daughter’s high school. And yes, I spoke about climate change. Perhaps my favorite part, though, is that I am not listed as “entrepreneur” or “environmentalist” or “consultant” or “teacher”, but simply as “Parent”. It was only fitting.

So here’s a link to my TEDx talk. After having given so many talks on climate change about the consequences we’ll face and the solutions to mitigate them, I decided to speak about something different: what we have to give up. On the surface the answer is easy – “fossil fuel infrastructure”. That may seem to be a no-brainer, but once you tally it all up it’s pretty astounding. But perhaps the most important question implied is whether we’re willing to do what it takes to make a year like 2070, a year the Millennials will live to see, a time for which we can feel a strong sense of optimism.

Paul Reale works in applied research at CUNY Building Performance Laboratory, supervises students at City College’s graduate program in Sustainability in the Urban Environment, trains and consults in teaching techniques for Urban Green Council and manages energy efficiency projects.

As the world gets ready for the Paris United Nations Climate Negotiations, and in light of the recent tragic events in Paris, Paul’s words ring even louder and more clear: “We must organize in large numbers, doing so is the only way we will succeed.” While we now know that the French government will not allow large public demonstrations in Paris, around the world more than 2000 events are planned. Check to see if there is an event planned near you, or organize something yourself if there isn’t! Most events will be taking place the weekend of November 28 and 29th, the opening of the UN Climate Conference, or on December 12th, the last day of the Conference.


Climate Mama

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President Obama finally joined us, FOR THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE. After more then 4 long years of active non-violent civil disobedience, by people from all walks of life and from all corners of our country, President Obama, listened and said no more. With serendipity – the decision to reject Keystone was announced on November 6th, four years TO THE DAY that 12,000 of us gathered in Washington to circle the White House and ask President Obama to join our circle, and in say no to Keystone. Well, better late then never as the saying goes!


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To be sure, this isn’t the end and recent revelations that are unfolding on climate – Exxon’s duplicity, destruction of the Amazon rainforest, fires in Indonesia and China’s “miscounting of carbon emissions” are but a few of the events and horror stories that continue to remind us of how dire and precarious our situation is. But for this moment we must stop and celebrate. We held a “line in the sand” with Keystone XL, and those lines are so very hard to hold. We held it, and we didn’t let it get crossed.

My family has been involved in this Keystone fight since the beginning. It has been personal with me – a parent fighting for her children’s future and now, and an Albertan who knows how hard our energy transformation will be. I was one of the 1,253 folks arrested in August 2011 at the Washington tar sands protests. In fact when I first received the call in July, 2011 to come to DC, I was visiting Fort McMurray, Alberta the home of the tar sands. It was “meant to be….”

At Climate Mama we have written about Keystone many, many times and have showcased posts by many Climate heroes – moms and dads fighting for their children’s future and now. Take some time and read a few of these guest posts – Rachel, Desiree and Ted.

Join me and reminisce with your family and friends about this incredible journey we have all been on together. As part of my reminiscing, below you will find my thoughts that I shared with you back in August 2011, the day after I was arrested.

Keystone XL Arrest: My Personal Story

61This week is one for the history books; including my very own personal history book! As of August 24, 2011, close to 300 people have been arrested in the largest civil disobedience action in the American environmental movement’s recent history. I am honored to say I am one of those people. Women and men from all walks and circles of life are “stepping up” and saying no to the XL Keystone Pipeline, which would carry Tar Sands oil from Alberta, Canada to Texas, crossing over and through environmentally fragile zones and important aquifers; threatening our land, our water, our wildlife, and our way of life.

So, you may ask, how does one prepare for an “imminent” arrest in Washington, DC? In my case, carefully and with much help from my friends! My experience with the TarSandsAction support team has been incredibly positive. Not only did they prepare me for what would happen, and be there to support me every step of the way, but they also introduced me to a group of caring individuals from all over the country who are now my friends and jail mates. (Not too many other individuals I know can fall into this particular friend category!) Many of these people, like me, are “middle age” (ouch!) and opening themselves up for arrest for the very first time. We Elders have found our cause and are taking our place along side students and young people who have been holding the “mantle” on environmental protests for us, by themselves, for long enough.

This new page in my personal history book begins at “civil disobedience training” the night before my arrest where we were told NOT to bring anything to the protest that we could NOT afford to loose, including cell phones and wedding rings. Do you know how hard it is to get a wedding ring off your finger that has been there for 15 years? We were also told to “dress dignified” like we were going to a business meeting. I had packed a skirt and top, neither of which had pockets, and didn’t think through how I would carry my ID and $100, the two items we were told TO take to jail – ID, so we could be properly booked, and $100 which was our “get out of jail” card. Our hope and best case scenario was that whatever our charge was, we would be given the opportunity to “post and forfeit” which would allow us to pay a fine and then leave jail that same day.

So, this is where a bra comes in handy, another useful piece of information from my TarSandsAction support colleagues. That morning as I dressed, I put my driver’s license, $120, and a metro card in my bra, which now effectively served as my purse! I did move these items to the waste band of my skirt just prior to my arrest and the handcuffs going on me, so that it would be easier for the arresting officer who frisked me to remove them. Yes I was frisked, in fact several times, and yes I had handcuffs on from the moment of my arrest until my release at the jail. I also road in a “paddy wagon” with a motorcycle escort through the streets of DC past the White House on the way to the Anacostia Jail. Many “firsts” for me to write down in MY personal history book. I am surprised to tell you that I wasn’t afraid. I was with more than 60 of my new “best friends” and we were all in it together, for the planet, for our children, and for ourselves.

President Obama, this is your call. Join Us. Stop the Pipeline! Be part of the movement.


Climate Mama

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Rosemary, Osprey, Harriet-UN Church Center,  NYC, September 29, 2015

Rosemary, Osprey, Harriet-UN Church Center, NYC, September 29, 2015

At Climate Mama, we are inspired every day by the power of people. Our “climate hope” and our hope for our children, their future and now is fortified by the stories and commitment of amazing individuals who make our world a livable place. Climate Mama extraordinare, Rosemary Dreger Carey is one of these special people. We will save her personal story for another time, but we are pleased to share Rosemary’s thoughts and reflections with you now about companies that are leading the way on energy transformation and “smart” buildings. At the heart of all the amazing technological advances, Rosemary reminds us that people and personal interactions are what solidify these changes and what shore up our “climate” hope!

Solar Panels Make Sense,
but Human Connections Make Buildings Smart

by Rosemary Dreger Carey

When people at solutions-based companies like BASF, CopperTree Analytics and GE Solar meet face-to-face with the people who’s job it is to make their buildings energy smart, relationships are forged. Needles move.

That’s the conclusion I formed after observing the recent “Future Facilities Summit,” a three-day Summit organized by FMA Summits, held at the Marriott Glenpointe in Teaneck, New Jersey.

10440652_847828491950463_2622606125860461855_nWearing my green writer’s hat, a profession I chose because of my desire to do what I can to help our warming planet make the fastest possible transition to renewable enegy, I arrived with highest hopes of learning the ins and outs of all manner of smart building technologies.

As I walked the aisles, listened to Powerpoint presentations, and chatted with building owners, facilities managers and smart building solutions providers, my highest hopes were easily met.

I discovered that companies like AES Distributed Energy and GE Solar are poised for an unprecedented surge in demand for solar energy; how an innovative technology from Dolphin WaterCare can render water virtually chemical free while conserving millions of gallons; how the U.S. Department of Energy reports we are wasting $18.5 million in lost energy from compressed air systems, yet Kaeser Compressors, Inc. offers a technology to capture it and use compressed air as a utility.

Revelations like these — which can help companies meet their sustainability goals and conserve natural resources — unfolded by the minute. My hopes for a world free of fossil fuels and a safe climate future for our children were renewed.

But what struck me most was the realization that all of the advanced renewable energy technologies in the world can’t replace the power of substantive, face-to-face conversation between committed professionals seeking to understand each other’s capabilities and needs, and arrive at the right fit.

By conversing with solutions providers at their exhibit tables, a national retailer found much-needed resources as it begins revamping its more than 1,000 showrooms. An operator of a chain of group homes for severely disabled adults discovered building solutions to improve the comfort and safety of its clients and reduce energy consumption. At meals and during breaks, virtually everyone seemed to concur that investing in LED ligting is a sure bet, with astonishingly fast payback, generous rebates and incentives and attractive financing options.

The business of Montreal-based FMA Summits is to connect solutions providers with companies in need of intelligent building solutions. The personal takeway from this writer and climate mama after covering FMA’s New Jersey Summit: we are headed toward future powered by the limitless energy of sun. Authentic, personal connections will get us there.

Rosemary Dreger Carey is a Climate Mama extraordinaire, an environmental activist and green writer at Send Rosemary a message

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okchandsHow do we get people to pay attention to and then to ACT on the climate crisis? This is a question that those of us in the climate movement struggle with daily. At Climate Mama, we feel that we can get people to pay attention and be moved to action, when they hear and see people around them acting, caring and taking a stand; particularly when it come to their children’s future and now. We are honored to share a special post with you, by Climate Mama Kathy Mohr-Almeida. Kathy speaks to us from her heart and her head.

As the mother of a 12 year old climate activist and as a child and family psychotherapist, Kathy asks and answers some important questions. How much do we tell our children about the crisis at hand? Should they or should they not be involved – along side us or in the lead – as we fight for change, for our human species and to protect the world they are growing up in? How do we show them we support their activism?

Empowering our Children
by Kathy Mohr-Almeida

When Regan turned the bulls loose, greed eclipsed everything.

At that time, I was close to my daughter’s age, and I remember discussing seemingly alarmist predictions about environmental degradation. I felt sad about the destruction of the Amazon rainforest and couldn’t imagine the ecological impact of the population explosion. What could I do about these problems? I told myself that world leaders would address these issues when they became critical, that my tiny voice wouldn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, and that finding people to collaborate with would prove too difficult. I had no outlet for action, my life went on as usual, and our collective resources continued to be exploited and ruined.

Kathy and Anna Rose, used with permission

Kathy and Anna Rose, used with permission

Fast-forward 30 years, and the climate crisis has emerged as the single greatest threat to humanity, and it looms ominously close to our immediate lives in the forms of extreme weather and loss of biodiversity. I have a 12 year old daughter living in the midst of these harrowing circumstances. My daughter understands that world leaders have done a very poor job of caring for our planet, and in response, she has chosen to address the problems herself. She participates in climate activism with multiple communities around the world, protests, demonstrates, speaks, and makes art about the climate crisis. She is making an impact on the problem.

As a child and family psychotherapist, I frequently ponder the merits of a carefree childhood, compared to my daughter’s activism-filled experience. I have concluded that my daughter’s way of being is preferential in many ways because she is living in alignment with her passions. She is learning that her voice is powerful, that people recognize her talents, and they support her mission. Further, my daughter directly benefits from her efforts. The skills of collaboration, public speaking, research, writing, and advocacy my daughter is gaining through her activism will serve her throughout her life. Most important, my daughter is learning that she holds power and personal accountability for her life, our democracy, and the well-being of those with whom we share our planetary home.

Like many parents, I believe it is my moral obligation to be the best parent I can be for my daughter. For me this means supporting my daughter’s work on a very human problem, the spiritual illness of unchecked greed. My daughter’s work, along with other outspoken youth, is helping to stabilize the climate and engender social justice. These are not easy tasks to contend with, and our kids are up for the challenge.

Kathy Mohr-Almeida a child and family phsychotherapist, an author, educator and journalist.

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