shutterstock_11388127Another day, and there is another outrageous and shocking statement made by a politician, business leader or person in a position of power and trust. Another day, and there is another storm, flood, fire or drought that is getting worse and showing us that our planet is hurting, impacted by our actions. As the world turns each day, we also move on to the next day and the next news cycle; with many people becoming numb to the shocking and harmful attacks both on our planet and on us. But, as Climate Mamas and Papas we ARE watching, paying attention, speaking out and fighting back. And therefore we also see, hear and support the many politicians, businesses, and community leaders that are demanding the truth and acting on it.

There are so many ways we can show our children that we have their backs and are working to protect their future and now. A movement is growing which we – by our actions – are all part of. This summer, when as families we have more time to talk, to discuss and to just be together, take time to remind your children why and how we all can make a difference; as we work together to heal our planet and ourselves. Eating healthy foods, supporting companies that produce products designed and manufactured with thoughtfulness and care, are all critical ways that through our individual and household actions we can take control and be part of the solutions for a sustainable future and now.

stonyfield-logo_0As part of the Stonyfield blogger community, a company which we are proud to support, we are regularly introduced to products and companies that are “walking the walk” like Stonyfield is. One of these companies, prAna, is a manufacturer of clothing and accessories that are designed and manufactured with sustainability in mind. prAna also keeps equity and justice issues front and center; it is a holistic company, embodying an approach that we strongly believe other companies should and must follow. Continue reading

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Wiki Media Commons, Nevit Dilmen

Wiki Media Commons, Nevit Dilmen

In my house, most mornings can’t really begin without my “wake up cup of coffee.” Yet, climate change is not only making coffee more expensive, it is threatening coffee crops in virtually every major coffee producing region of the world. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists: “Higher temperatures, long droughts punctuated by intense rainfall, more resilient pests and plant diseases—all of which are associated with climate change—have reduced coffee supplies dramatically in recent years. And, because coffee varieties have adapted to specific climate zones, a temperature rise of even half a degree can make a big difference. A long-term increase in the number of extreme and unseasonal rainfall events has contributed to lower crop yields that are threatening the livelihood of coffee growers all over the world.

So, as we all struggle to get our arms around our growing climate crisis, connecting the dots between our “daily cup of coffee” and taking action to slow down the impacts of climate change can in fact be important dots to connect. I was fortunate to sit down recently with Joe Lamp’l, Creator, Executive Producer and Host of the award winning national PBS series, Growing a Greener World and Founder of joegardener.com. Joe is a tremendous source of inspiration and information and had some practical ideas about ways to “connect the dots” between coffee, the climate crisis, and managing our waste stream. Joe and I talked at length about what has become a ubiquitous item for many households – coffee pods – a “convenient” idea, that perhaps seemed like a good idea at one time. Unfortunately this “convenience” has turned out to be s significant source of waste and a contributor to our climate crisis.

According to Joe: “In 2014, 9.8 billion of those tiny plastic coffee pods were used. To put this into perspective if you lined them up end to end they would circle the globe 11 times. ” Most people put their used pods in their regular garbage, which then goes to a landfill where the coffee pod may never breakdown, contributing to methane gas which is released from landfills. Joe reminded us that methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, which like carbon dioxide is a major contributor to climate change. We know that over a 20 year period, methane is 86 times more potent a greenhouse gas then carbon dioxide, and over 100 years, 34 times more potent. So, not only is our coffee being impacted by climate change, but how we brew our coffee directly contributes to the climate change that is in turn impacting our coffee. “Connecting the dots” and understanding the implications of what we do, is so important. Continue reading

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ourkidsclimatephotosJune 10, 2016. For a Revised analysis of the TSCA Reform bill by Safer Chemicals Healthy Families go to: Key Take Aways from TSCA Reform.

As Climate Mamas and Papas, we may read more labels and be more conscious then other mamas and papas when it comes to the chemicals and lists of ingredients in the personal care, home and health care products we use and buy. Or, we may not be. Regardless, like most Americans, we all want to believe that someone is “minding the store. ” We want to trust that someone is making sure our families are protected from toxic products and chemicals that could make us and our children sick in the short term and/or build up in our bodies over time and make us more susceptible to disease.

The law that has been in place to protect us from toxic substances was enacted in 1976 and by all accounts is one of the weakest environmental health and protection statues we have. And, since 1976 over 80,000 new chemicals have entered the market place, untested and in use, to be proven harmful when and if we ever can. Trying to regulate chemicals in products we are exposed to and use in our homes and on our bodies and those of our children, is not only difficult in many cases it has been impossible. So, with some fanfare, a new Toxic Substances Control ACT (TSCA) will be sent to President Obama for signature once the Senate has decide voted on the bill (see update 5/26 at bottom of post.) Depending on who you listen to it was “an historic advancement,” or “a colossal betrayal;” with not too many folks in the middle.

The Environmental Working Group reminds us that: “the right question is not whether this rewrite is better than current law. The right question is whether this version meets the expectations of reasonable Americans who are increasingly concerned about exposure to hazardous chemicals. Most consumers expect EPA has the power to quickly review the most dangerous chemicals and that the chemicals in their cleaners are at least as safe as chemicals in their food. The new bill fails to meet that expectation.”

Our friends at Safer Chemicals Healthy Families have created a detailed, clear and to the point rundown on the nuances of the bill (as it was written as of 5/21). We are pleased to publish this post, in it’s entirety with permission. It has helped us, and we hope that it will also bring you more clarity too.

The Near – Final TSCA Reform Legislation – A Rundown
Andy Igrejas, Director
Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families

Updated June 10, 2016. Revised analysis of the TSCA Reform bill by Safer Chemicals Healthy Families: Key Take Aways from TSCA Reform.

okc2The new bill, the TSCA Modernization Act, addresses TSCA’s critical flaws. It requires new chemicals to undergo a safety review before coming onto the market. It ensures that experts, not industry executives, decide which chemicals should be regulated. And it guarantees that families have access to vital information regarding chemicals, from health and safety studies. Continue reading

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AITcollageTen years ago my children were in grade school, I had recently moved out of New York City and my “day job” working at the United Nations was coming to an end. As I was settling into a new life in suburbia, I was trying to figure out what my next steps would be, both personally and career wise. Then I saw the movie An Inconvenient Truth (AIT) and I knew my life would be forever changed. It truly was one of those “ah ha” moments for me; my eyes were now wide open and I couldn’t let them shut again. I knew that I had a role and a responsibility to help others understand the extent of the crisis unfolding before us, and I began to figure out how to put this role into action. Six months later I was in Nashville, TN, at one of the first “training” groups of the newly formed Climate Project, now The Climate Realty Project. My marching orders leaving Nashville were crystal clear. Educate, empower and activate my community on the climate crisis.

Ten years later, ClimateMama is a thriving and active community of parents around the United States and in many other countries around the world. Our mantra: “Tell the truth, actions speak louder then words, and don’t be afraid” is empowering thousands of people to take action on the climate crisis and create and demand a livable future for ourselves and our families.

ClimateRealityHSmemeReflecting on a personal note, AIT was my wake up call for finding my voice, my power and my truth. I am a nationally recognized spokesperson on climate change. I have been arrested in Washington DC, I have spoken to national government committees, on state house steps, at rallies, schools, in church basements and in packed auditoriums. I have been featured on national television, on videos, on radio and Webtv. I write for national and regional publications, I am a college professor, a community leader, an organizer and an activist. I help shape government energy policy and organize events to bring the reality and truth about the climate crisis to people around the country. AIT helped me travel from Mama to ClimateMama inspiring me and forever lighting a burning passion and powerful spark to my life long journey of education, exploration and hope.

Al Gore, The Climate Reality Project, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am forever grateful.

Join me in signing the pledge to take action on climate change. Share your truth, tell your story. How has the world changed in the last 10 years, how has YOUR world changed?

Yours,

Climate Mama

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Copyright (c) 2004 Richard Ling

Copyright (c) 2004 Richard Ling

Ruth Mundy is a singer and a songwriter from New Zealand. Her song, “Love in the Time of Coral Reefs” is beautiful, haunting, powerful and sad. Yet at the same time the song is incredibly empowering; daring us and demanding the we take action now. Special thanks to our friends at The Global Call for Climate Action for making sure Ruth’s song is on our radar, so that we can also make sure it’s on your radar too!

Ruth’s song is a reminder of the road we are currently traveling on and how close we are to the “edge.” It also is a call to action, reminding us we must have the resolve and strength to change directions if our children are to have a chance for a safe and sustainable future. Watch and listen to Ruth, and then pledge to take action.

Here are three things you can do today, to take action on climate change:

1. Register to vote so that your voice counts and mare sure you do vote for the climate in all elections. Every person running for public office, at all levels of government must have a climate change plan. Call or visit one of your local representatives and ask them to explain their plan on climate change action to you.

2. Recommit to climate action. Grab the kids in your life and sign The Climate Reality Project pledge to take climate action.

3. Sit down with the kids in your life, and create a family “Climate Action Plan.” Create long term and short term goals, things you can do today, this week, this month and this year. Share your plan with us, so we can share it with others too!

Yours,

Climate Mama

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Used with Permission: The Mothers Project Logo

Used with Permission: The Mothers Project Logo

As we live with climate change and as it relentlessly and incessantly rears it’s ugly head around the world, most people seem to be frozen in time and space, watching in paralyzed horror or ignoring what’s happening all together. Confidently and fiercely, a powerful few are not only rising to the challenges we face but are racing forward, leaping over the roadblocks and reaching backwards to pull us along with them.

We are so pleased to bring you the ideas, hopes and voices of 6 of these powerful Climate Mamas. In recognition of Mothers Day, 2016, these six special Climate Mamas from all over the United States have shared with us their thoughts for finding, walking and leading on “the road less travelled.” We are thrilled to share their wisdom with you. Continue reading

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Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 7.43.26 AMWe get wonderful tips and ideas from our Climate Mamas and Papas everyday, and we try to share and support as many of these great ideas as we can. Join us today on “Do Something Wednesday” and support the Climate Feedback Project.

The Project is made up of a global network of 100+ scientists and counting, specializing in everything from biogeochemistry to oceanography, climate variability to paleoclimate. These scientists are using an open source technology developed by the nonprofit Hypothes.is to annotate online articles so we can read scientists’ insights right on top of the original page. Too often we forget to “check the facts” as we read a post or article. Its critical to get beyond the headlines. We think The Climate Feedback Project is great idea and an important one, we supported it, will you?

Our mantra at Climatemama: “TELL THE TRUTH, Actions speak louder then words, and don’t be afraid.” Help us help amplify the messages from climate scientists who are showing and telling us the truth, so we can demand action on climate change now.

Please check out this Indiegogo Campaign, The Climate Feedback Project, and join us in supporting it.

Yours,

Climate Mama

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Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 3.09.54 PMNational Arbor Day is April 29th. This is a day set aside as a special day for tree planting. As Climate Mamas and Papas, trees are a critical part of our climate hope and for our hope for a sustainable and livable future for our children. We were fortunate recently to get a chance to sit down with Dan Lambe, President of the Arbor Day Foundation and ask him a few questions about his work and about some of the key programs of the Arbor Day Foundation. One program in particular that we were interested in learning more about is Tree City USA, which is celebrating it’s 40th anniversary in 2016. Grab the kids in your life and join us as we learn a few things about trees, tree planting, hope and the Arbor Day Foundation.

As Dan told us, the broad mission of the Arbor Day Foundation is to plant, nurture and celebrate trees; including helping to encourage city and community forestry. Tree City USA recognizes and encourages the good management and care of community forests in cities and towns. Dan shared with us that in furthering it’s mission, the Arbor Day Foundation works with many partners in innumerable ways including with the US Forest Service, with cities and towns across the US, with international partners, with utilities, researchers, universities, students, educators and architects, to name only a few. The Arbor Day Foundation and it’s many partners are always working to find new ways to plant forests, to help people explore nature and to foster our wonder and love for trees and all they are and what they represent.

According to Dan, the Arbor Day Foundation through it’s Tree City USA program, works with “all sizes of cities and towns to incorporate tree care plans, management plans, and strategies to help manage their trees. It has worked with towns as small as Sibley, North Dakota with 28 people and with New York City and it’s millions of people.” It made me wonder how many trees are actually growing in New York City? Believe it or not, there are hundred’s of thousands of trees, and New York is trying to find out exactly how many through an ongoing tree census, where residents help to count the trees. As we Climate Mamas and Papas well know, it’s important to know what you have, so that when it’s no longer there, you know what you’ve lost. More than 3400 cities across the US have the Tree City USA designation. Does your city fly the Tree City USA Flag or have the Tree City sign visible? Find out; and if not, why not?

Dan reminded us that trees do many things, that can help us as we live climate change, including: “reducing storm water run off which slows down flooding, beautifying our neighborhoods, and shading our homes which can help us reduce the need for energy consumption.” Importantly as well, trees help to store and sequester carbon.” Trees are critical if we hope to help our planet restore it’s balance as we fight back against climate change and for a sustainable future and now for our families.

One of our climate heroes at Climate Mama is an amazing woman who is known the world over for planting trees, her name is Wangari Maathai and she is the founder of the Kenyan Green Belt Movement. Arbor Day seems like a wonderful day to remember Wangari Maathai, whom we lost in 2011, and to introduce our children to her and her work, if they do not already know of her. Continue reading

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08 moms birthday show 026Many of us have heard the saying “The solution to pollution is dilution.” Perhaps when the world’s population was significantly smaller and we hadn’t yet invented the toxins and types of pollutants that we have now, this might have been ok. Regardless, at Climate Mama we feel strongly that we need to “clean up our messes” and teach our children to do so as well; so to us, diluting our pollution has never been a clear and obvious way to clean up our messes. Our friends at DIVEin, have created another important graphic for us, “How Ocean Pollution Affects Humans” that helps us understand the extent of the damages we are inflicting on our oceans.

Our oceans are vast and have served for decades as “carbon sinks” hiding our greenhouse gas pollution and slowing climate change. However, everything eventually reaches a saturation point and our oceans are not an exception. As we learned recently, double whammy of a strong El Nino and climate change acceleration, have stressing our oceans and created breaking points. Coral life, an integral component to all ocean life is under extreme duress, with scientists telling us that our oceans are experiencing a massive “die off” with close to 1/3 of all coral in our oceans dead or dying. Too much to bear – for our oceans, for our hearts and for our minds…But, we can’t be paralyzed by the facts, they must instead spur us forward to action.

Let’s remind our kids and ourselves why we must “double down” on demanding solutions to climate change and why we must only support and elect political, business, and community leaders who have a plan for addressing climate change with is at the top of their “to do lists.”

Yours Climate Mama

How Ocean Pollution Affects Humans
By Andrew Dilevics, DIVEin

The ocean is a magnificent and magical environment that is the reason for the
existence of life on earth. The ocean provides over 70% of the oxygen that we
breathe and over 97% of the world’s water supply. The ocean is essential for
mankind and with that said, why wouldn’t we want to bend over backwards to
ensure its protection?

However throughout history, it was assumed that because the ocean is so large
and deep, that it could withstand any form of waste. However, over the past few
decades we have begun to see a sharp decrease in that amount of carbon dioxide
the ocean is able to absorb as well as a decline in the numbers of marine life.
We have so much to thank the oceans for, if you would like to learn more about
ocean pollution and how it affects marine life as well as humankind take a look at
the incredible infographic below, created by the team at DIVEin.com

How ocean pollution affects humans How ocean pollution affects humans – Graphic by the team at DIVE.in

The world’s global ocean is so vast that it covers nearly 71% of the planet’s surface and is the largest ecosystem on earth. The global ocean is the earth’s largest support system. In order for life to survive on earth, we need healthy and prosperous oceans. The oceans provide over half of the oxygen we breathe as well as contains 97% of the world’s water supply and without water all life on earth would not survive. Not only is the ocean essential for us to live and breathe, it supplies a sixth of the animal protein that humans eat. The oceans are also home to the most promising and newly
discovered medicines that can combat cancer, pain and even have potent anti-bacterial properties. We can also thank the oceans for absorbing a huge amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which in turn reduces the impact of climate change.

Whether you live near to an ocean, or in the middle of a city, the ocean has a huge part to play in your daily life. Did you know that ocean-based businesses provide nearly $500 billon into the world’s economy? From the air we breathe, to the food we eat, to the films we watch, to the games we play, we have the ocean to thank, as nearly everything comes from or has been transported by the oceans.

Unfortunately, historically, the belief was that you could never take too much out of the ocean and you could never put too much into the ocean and it is this thinking that has led to the oceans demise. The sheer amount of waste that is put into the ocean and the over harvesting of resources has led to reduction in biodiversity, destruction of marine habitats and large numbers of endangered species. Due to this, we are damaging the very system that keeps us alive.

The ocean is so important to life on earth and has such a relevance to climate change, however it was omitted from the Paris UN climate change conference discussion. This is of great importance as the ocean absorbs over a quarter of man-made carbon dioxide emissions and has taken on over 90% of the heat which has been generated over time, since the industrial revolution. Without the ocean to clean up after us, climate change would be much worse than it is now.

We should all be extremely concerned that due to the acidification of the oceans, it is losing its ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the environment and this could lead to dangerous circumstances. It has been estimated that the absorption rate is likely to drop to just 20% by the end of the century and this could be extremely detrimental to life on earth.

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ff-logo-vert-orangeThe divestment movement began on college campuses several years ago and has quickly spread to houses of worship, individual investment portfolios, state, public pension funds and private company investments. 350.org has been a leading force in driving this movement and defines “Divestment” as the opposite of investment – in the simplest terms getting rid of stocks, bonds, or investment funds that are unethical or morally ambiguous. Specific to fossil fuels, while each campaign is independently run and may bring different emphases and asks depending on their local context, the majority of campaigns are asking institutions to:

• Immediately freeze any new investment in fossil fuel companies;
• Divest from direct ownership and any commingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds within 5 years.

According to 350.org, 515 institutions have made commitments to divest over US $3.4 TRILLION!

The divestment movement has risen up at the same time as social impact investing has begun to surge forward. As Climate Mamas and Papas, how we manage our personal finances and investments from a holistic perspective that takes into account our moral, social and ethical perspectives should be critical and obvious. Our personal investments should reflect how we manage other parts of our lives, who we are, and what we talk about to our kids, family, friends and financial managers too. Unfortunately, as we well know, it’s not that simple, straightforward, or obvious.

With 175 countries signing on to the Paris Climate Agreement on April 22nd, 2016, the signals to keep fossil fuels in the ground and move quickly to renewable energy are strong. Fossil fuel companies and fossil fuel infrastructure companies, seem more and more to be “stranded assets” and bad investment choices.

ParisEffect_Divestment_FINALTiming is “everything” as they say, and the investment signals moving forward seem to be leading to demands for fossil free investment opportunities as the way forward for individuals and institutions. Leading into Earth Week, students at Columbia University in New York City are staging a sit in to demand that Columbia divests from fossil fuels. The New York State senate recently sent a bill to it’s finance committee for consideration calling for NY state to divest it’s pension funds from fossil fuels, and the Rockefeller Family fund announced in early 2016 that they were divesting from ALL fossil fuels. Grassroots movements are effectively stopping fossil fuel projects from moving forward in states across the country and Attorney Generals in more then 19 states have joined forces to put EXXON and other fossil fuel companies on trial for their “crimes against humanity. ” The reality that climate change is impacting our planet faster then anyone ever imagined becomes clearer every day.

In trying to get a better handle on what options are out there from a personal financial perspective, I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Ian Monroe, Co-Founder, President and Chief Sustainability Officer of Etho Capital, as well as the Founder of Oroeco and a Lecturer on climate change and life cycle assessment science at Stanford University. Ian and I share many of the same concerns and hopes for our future, and I was thrilled to learn about many of the practical programs that Ian is working on to make our planet a better place! Etho Capital, which Ian has founded, is a socially responsible investment management company, committed to helping solve climate change by bringing sustainable investing mainstream; an important and up and coming concept that clearly we are all thinking more about.

Ian shared some background and insight on a new product his company has launched – the ETHO ETF, which according to Ian is the world’s first truly fossil free ETF (exchange traded fund). As background, an ETF is a security that tracks an index, a commodity or a basket of assets like an index fund, but trades like a stock on an exchange. ETHO began trading on the New York Stock Exchange in November 2015. ETHO is not only free of fossil fuel companies but it’s also comprised of 400 of the MOST climate efficient US companies.

So it seems the time is now for investment opportunities that really capitalizes on the concept of impact investing and move us quickly to take fossil fuels, which increasingly are becoming stranded assets, out of the mix. Ian has said that the idea behind the ETHO ETF is to empower everyone to invest in climate sustainability and social responsibility while at the same time gaining competitive financial returns. The idea as well is to make this fund accessible to the full spectrum of investors, ranging from large institutions to college students investing for the first time.

Below are some of the highlights from our interview with Ian:

Background: I grew up on a small organic farm where I saw first hand the power of drought and wildfire and how these natural phenomenon are getting worse and worse because of climate change. I know families who have lost homes to wildfires and I began thinking about the linkages between drought, fire, food production, as well as the places and the dozen of countries where my work has taken me and where I now have many good friends. I began to see clearly how climate change is really the world’s biggest social justice issue and racial justice issue exacerbated by the our use of unsustainable energy and agricultural practices.

My work at Stanford is about scaling up climate solutions and it led me to focus on how to do the accounting for environmental impacts, including better lifecycle assessments. I came to appreciate the big gaps that are still there. It’s great to have more science to back up what we already know, great to see how people are becoming more engaged in the climate movement, and great to see the recognition regarding the feasibility that exists to scaling up solutions. But, and this is a big but, there is an important missing piece on how to pay for what is needed and to move us away from the enormous and unsustainable energy and agricultural companies out there and towards the growth of companies that can help move us towards climate solutions.

Etho Capital came out of work I did on ORECO, a company which engages the public around taking action on climate change. ..Two years ago we began gathering climate impact data and looking at total solution dollar investments, looking at carbon efficiency in each industry, and choosing the most efficient companies, and that’s how we established the Etho Climate Leadership Index (ECLI), a true fully fossil free, index. Including oil and gas. From our research the science is clear. While natural gas may have short-term electricity benefits, in the long term methane in general, in agriculture and as a fuel source is a bad investment. Our overall philosophy and mission is to produce investment funds that are the most sustainable possible and which out-perform most indexes in the markets. We want to create products that empower people.

We also see financial advisors as a key bottleneck, so they are important folks to talk to and to help them understand why fossil free investing is so important. This is the biggest area of where change needs to happen. We are trying to do as much as we can and we hope that through the media and environmental blogs, and conversations between individuals and their investment advisors, these changes will begin to happen more quickly.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

At Climate Mama, we see the momentum building and the time for fossil free investing is clearly here. Here is one more recent example to bring to your attention. On April 11th, a NY State Senate Committee took an important step towards long term protection of state pension funds. “The Fossil Fuel Divestment Act (S.5873/A.8011-A) would require the New York State Comptroller to divest the New York State Common Retirement Fund from all holdings in the 200 largest publicly traded fossil fuel companies, as defined by carbon content in the companies’ proven oil, gas, and coal reserves. Divestment from coal companies would be completed within one year; divestment from all other fossil fuel companies would be completed by January 1, 2020.” Getting the bill to the Senate Finance Committee, where it is now, is the beginning of a long road but one that’s critically important if we want to protect our retirement interests from stranded fossil fuel assets.

From where we sit, it would appear that Ian and Etho Capital is on to something really, really important. They are helping to put into our hands more options and critical ways that we can all be part of the solution.

Yours,

Climate Mama

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