solarcollage2 years ago today, my family woke up with no power, downed trees and fallen power lines. Today, I have new solar panels on my home. On October 29th, 2012 we woke to find ourselves trapped in our dead end street; a mighty oak had fallen across our only way in or out. Today, the sun shines on the solar panels on my home, and I breath deeply..hopeful for my children’s future and their now.

We were lucky. Our Superstorm Sandy story was not a horror story. Our power came back within 2 days, our neighbor took a chainsaw and “freed our street” within hours of daylight on October 29th, and we were able to be a “port in the storm” for the weeks that followed, for our family and our friends. As we now know, many, many others were not so lucky.

This personal “wake up call” for many of us on the East Coast has prompted resiliency planning and reality checks. The facts keep coming in about how we are impacting our climate and hardwiring our connection to continued extreme whether, yet we seem to still be in a fog, talking about “fixing things” but are we all actually doing anything? The answer to this question is as complex as our climate system.

waiting on sandyApproximately one year ago, the first part of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) was released, this week in Copenhagen the final report of this 5 year IPCC outlook on climate, A Summary for Policy Makers, is being discussed and will be finalized on November 2nd. The conclusions of thousands of scientists and hundreds of peer reviewed reports is clear: climate change is here now, human caused, and already having dangerous impacts.

The message to policy makers: if we start now, the outcomes from our changing climate will be survivable. We are at a crossroads. We can choose now to go down a clean energy path where we enjoy economic benefits and manage to adapt to modest climate change, or we can continue to follow a path with increasing greenhouse gas pollution worldwide where severe climate change threatens our societies and derails our economies. Again, the facts are unmistakeable, and the answers and solutions well defined; how we choose to act on them is less certain.

This is a unique moment, a flash point in our human history; it’s happening on our watch and because of our past and current actions.

Here are 3 things we are doing at ClimateMama to take responsibility and action into our own hands.

googleimagesvoting1. Tell the truth – make our votes count. On Election Day, we are voting for our future, our children and our now. At every level, anyone we vote for must have a climate change plan and must agree that they are working to build up resiliency and fight for our now. There is no room for any climate deniers in office, at any level. This means we are supporting candidates that have local solutions including streamlining access to renewable energy, building and fortifying infrastructure, and putting plans in place to reduce our individual and collective greenhouse gases, which we know are the drivers of climate change.

DSC_03622. Actions speak louder then words – fighting for renewable energy and calling out government agencies and individuals that are promoting and allowing fossil fuel infrastructure and development to continue. My own solar panels finally went up! Yet I have been fighting a local ordinance for over a year, that denies mounting solar on the front of a home – because our township committee things they are ugly! I think they are beautiful, and they give me hope for my children’s future and now. I am still fighting to change the ordinance but in the meantime, at least some of our panels are up and in one day we have reduced our personal greenhouse gases by over 44% with a bigger percentage to hopefully follow soon!

customLogo.gifAt ClimateMama, we continue to support, encourage and fight for communities that are working to stop and slow down gas and oil infrastructure and development, so that they too can build and utilize renewable power. The band aid must be pulled off, there is no bridge to a renewable future, we must take the leap and be in all the way, now. Join us November 1-7th, at the Beyond Extreme Energy events taking place in Washington DC and support action to call attention to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and why it’s mandate must be changed and why we need our federal government to be the champion of renewable energy, and put fossil fuel infrastructure and development in the rearview mirror.

IMG_38643. Don’t be afraid. Sometimes it’s fun to scare ourselves. With Halloween around the corner, many people are figuring ways to do this right now! My teenage daughter loves to watch horror films with her friends and telling scary stories around the campfire is part of our family camping traditions. Yet, the current IPCC report being discussed brings horror stories to a whole different level. But we know that this real life horror story is in fact critical to tell, and in many ways very liberating. We know the truth and no one can hide from it. Climate change is here, now, and we are causing it. So it is our duty, our responsibility and our moral imperative to do something.

Too many local, state and national governments and agencies continue to give mixed messages about solutions. Some are pushing rebuilding efforts, which ignore resiliency and the reality of future extreme weather events. The alarm bells are sounding, they couldn’t be any louder, we must act now. It is our job to demand from those in “charge” who want to deny or delay to change their tune, do something, or get out of the way. If they aren’t willing or able to, we must not allow them to be “in charge.” We also must personally take charge, and do what we can at a personal level; using both our words and our actions.

Yours,

Climate Mama

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congressWhy vote? It’s our right; a right that people the world over have fought for, for millennia. As parents, it’s also our responsibility. Yet sadly, for many reasons, here in the United States of America we fall far behind the world average in the percentage of people of voting age, who actually vote. In 2012, according to the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA),only 54.6% of the voting population turned out to vote. USA presidential election years (i.e. 2012) historically get a greater turnout then mid-term elections years; certainly putting into question a good voter turn out for 2014. In 2012, of 169 countries for which the IDEA collects date on voter turn out, the USA ranked 120th of 169 countries. So, while many of us complain and lament that our political system is broken, if we don’t participate in the democratic process, then the blame for these problems must begin with ourselves.

Take a few moments, and share this guest post by Michelle Aboodi with the kids in your life. For the candidates that will be on your ballot this fall, what are their plans for climate action? If you don’t have time to ask them in person, check out their websites; is climate change and climate solutions even discussed? Michelle is a US college sophomore who is definitely voting on election day this year – with Mother Earth and our future, heavily on her mind. Michelle is calling on all our Climate Mamas and Papas to get out and vote too!

Vote for Mother Earth
by Michelle Aboodi

This upcoming midterm election is asking, perhaps even demanding that we turn out to vote for mother earth. In June 2014, the Rasmussen Reports National Survey of 1,000 likely voters shared that energy and the environment were not even in the top 10 of very important issues the government should focus on!

shutterstock_11388127Even after the UN Summit on Climate Change and the powerful People’s Climate March that attracted over 400,000 people, the environment still does not seem to be a priority. The energy of all the people and groups uniting for a cause was impactful and hopeful. For the week, movers and shakers came together in iconic New York City and other urban areas around the world to be heard but when everyone disbanded and went home, the feeling of a unified voice for mother earth quieted and now, just weeks from an election,

I am asking everyone to consider speaking out through your vote for mother earth. Continue reading

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THIS IS THE FIRST IN OUR SERIES OF POSTS ABOUT BEYOND EXTREME ENERGY (BXE)

pcmcollage2I get asked all the time: “What’s next, how can we top 400,000 people in the streets of New York City. What can we do to make world leaders, moms and dads, business leaders and the world, wake up and pay attention?”

There is no simple answer. What is clear though, is that we need to extract ourselves from the Faustian bargain we find ourselves trapped in. This ‘bargain’ is reeking havoc with our natural world in such a way that it is also putting the very existence of OUR species at mortal risk.

crcmAt the same time as we work to stop the madness and slowdown the fossil fuel bullet train which is racing humanity towards a bridge that isn’t there, we need to change tracks and accelerate and build up climate solutions, moving forward with renewable energy ideas and advances. We must put in place energy efficiency solutions and build up our resiliency to the climate chaos that is and will unfold, regardless of what we do today. We must continue to create climate hope, not only for the future of our children, but also for our now.

As part of this drive for climate hope, Climate Mamas and Papas from across the country will be meeting in Washington, DC, November 1-7th, for a week of actions. On November 1st we will be on hand to welcome and honor the original Climate Marchers. Those stalwart and brave souls who in March 2014, left California, to walk across the United States with the purpose and intent of raising attention to the climate crisis.

Starting on November 3rd, actions will take place every day to raise attention to the need to put a full stop to extreme energy and move beyond it, including non-violent direct action where Climate Mamas and Papas will be risking arrest. A big part of the BXE week’s events are to draw attention to the role of the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission (FERC), an independent body of the US government, which overseas the expansion and development of fossil fuel infrastructure across the United States. As a FERC employee told me recently: “In 20 years, we have NEVER said no to a pipeline.” Well, it’s past time that this rubber stamping stopped. More people need to understand that “FERC Doesn’t Work,” period!

To introduce the BXE week of action, we are thrilled to share with you this strong, clear and powerful letter of invitation, from Michael Bagdes-Canning, Pennsylvania Climate Grandpa extraordinaire. Michael sent the letter which follows, to friends, family and colleagues. When we asked him if we could share this more broadly with our Climate Mama and Papa community he immediately told us: “Of course!”

We believe that to be successful in the fight we find ourselves in, we must come at it from all sides and every angle. Many people around the world are joining Michael and using non-violent direct action as an important way to demand changes. As Kathleen Dean Moore tells us in her “rules of the river”, as more of us begin to throw stones into the river of climate chaos, we will create islands which will change the course, the direction and the speed of this dangerous, fast flowing, out of control current we are all now precariously traveling on.

Sustained protests and on-going arrests will continue around the country for the foreseeable future.

Yours,

Climate Mama

Letter from Michael Badges-Canning – Risking arrest for my children and grandchildren. October, 2014.

shutterstock_23911462I have something big to ask you.
But first, though, let me tell you why you’re receiving this. 98% of you know me well enough to recognize my face. Two percent of you may not know me at all – we’re just connected through the Marcellus Outreach Butler mailing list or some other mailing list that I’m on.

But 2%… 98%… I’m writing you because I’m pretty sure that 100% of us share serious concern about climate change and fracking. I’ll save some time and not quote scary facts at you. I know you are already familiar with most, if not all, of what I could tell you.

Often when we read something about tackling big issues, writers emphasize how easy it can be to make a difference. It’s safe to say that this isn’t going to be one of those kinds of letters. In fact, just the other day, one of you reminded me that the simple things (recycling, changing the kind of light bulbs we use, etc) aren’t enough. I’m actually going to invite you to do something that could seem very, very hard. For some, given life circumstances, it may be impossible. But there will be hundreds more whom I hope will consider my request with utmost seriousness. Continue reading

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shutterstock_33812782If you’re like most parents in the U.S.A, you know that teaching kids to save water is a constant struggle. Kids, whatever the age, are fascinated by water, and often don’t understand where water comes from, or that it’s a precious—and finite—resource. In fact, fresh water accounts for less then 3% of all the water on the globe.

I have a teenage son..My son loves to take a shower every morning. According to him, his shower is his “wake up time.” Every morning I end up knocking on his door to tell him to “get out of the shower” because if I didn’t, and when I don’t, he could be under the tap for a half an hour or more! Living in the northeastern United States, while he “gets it” he really doesn’t understand, even as a teenager, that water is a finite resource. We often hear from our Climate Mamas and Papas, even in places like California where record droughts are cause water shortages, that their kids who understand the impacts of climate change often don’t make the connection to water use, and still need to be told to “get out of the shower” as well!

This October, I’m working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense Program to raise awareness about the important issue of water conservation. October is Energy Action Month and by taking action to save water, you will also save the energy that is used to heat and deliver that water to your tub, tap, or shower. Continue reading

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Communitopia, with the help of our ClimateMama extraordinaire, Joylette Portlock has once again “knocked it out of the park” with this great video, “More on Methane Part 1: Taking a Leak.” Grab the kids in your life, watch this video and LEARN something, in a fun and easy way. As with all of Joylette’s video’s you can also learn how to “not just sit there, but do something” to make a difference too.

This video helps us understand that methane, aka natural gas, is a greenhouse gas and is over 80 times more powerful at trapping heat in our atmosphere then carbon dioxide, in the near term (20 years). Joylette also explains that we currently have no national rules for stopping leaks of methane from the oil and gas industry, something our current administration is looking at rectifying and something we should support and encourage. The video also discusses large scale agriculture and how this industry contributes to climate change by producing huge amounts of methane…your pre-teen boys and girls may particularly love these facts!

At ClimateMama, we agree with Joylette – we should support the EPA Clean Power Plan and drastically reduce carbon pollution. As well, we also should support strong regulations on methane. However, our continued concern at ClimateMama, and why we strongly advocate for a fracking ban and a “Manhattan style” program for renewable energy, is that even if we establish the regulations to control leaks, not only don’t we have the independent inspectors to make sure the regulations are being complied with, natural gas is and will always be a fossil fuel. Fossil fuels when they are burned, drilled, fracked and mined, create greenhouse gases and contribute to climate change. They are only safe, when they stay stored within the ground, where nature put them.

We don’t buy into the mantra that “we need fossil fuels for a transition to a clean energy future.” We want to see a revolution and large scale move to renewables now…Fossil fuel production of any kind,and it’s associated infrastructure, slows this down and is NOT okay for our children, their future and their now.

Yours,

Climate Mama

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The Wrath & Costs of Extreme Weather: Decades of Destruction

shutterstock_649593Our friends at the University of North Carolina (UNC) shared the illuminating infographic in this post with us, and asked us to share it with you. So grab the kids in your life, take a few minutes, and talk to your kids about climate change and the costs of storms. Use this great inforgraphic to help get the facts and figures straight.

A “calm” in the number of catastrophic hurricanes to hit the United States in recent seasons has given many a false sense of security when it comes to storms. As Adam Levenson, Community Manager for the Masters of Public Management at UNC shared with us: “While the 2014 hurricane season has been strangely quiet, this info graphic serves as a reminder of the extreme consequences of climate change.”

Take some time and have a close look at this infographic. It looks at the past decade. While we haven’t (fortunately) had a hurricane ranked over a category 3 since 2005, the destruction over the past 10 years HAS been catastrophic and has cost over $310 billion. A variety of reasons comes into play, not least of which is storm surge, ocean temperatures and sea level rise, three factors attributed to climate change impacts, which turned Superstorm Sandy into the deadly, costly and destructive storm that those of us on the East coast suffered from and continue to suffer from.

October 29th is the 2 year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. Look closely at the infographic and at the 10 cities that are most vulnerable and “overdue” for a hurricane. Consider that the federal government spends only $1 on reducing disaster damages for ever $6 it spends on disaster recovery and that local ordinances and the return on investment for reducing and preparing for disasters is very significant. Continue reading

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People power..it works!

Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 6.38.51 AMCongratulations to Greenpeace for leading the charge, and to all our Climate Mamas and Papas around the world who signed petitions, reached out to Lego and helped spread the news. It worked..On October 8th, Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, President and Chief Executive Officer of the LEGO Group announced: “as things currently stand we will not renew the co-promotion contract with Shell when the present contract ends.”

Yours,

Climate Mama

P.S. For more background on the GreenPeace campaign, see our July 9th, July 30th and August 7th posts on this issue. And for more details on the breaking news, check out the October 9th, Guardian article on the issue.

And if you missed the Greenpeace “viral video” that helped make it happen..You can still watch it here.

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Wow, 100,000 is a lot of signatures, so too is 99,567 which is the number of people so far who have signed on to the letter that I and two extraordinary Climate Mamas, Debra and Susan, wrote to Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo and which our friends at The Rainforest Action Network and The Sum of Us have helped us share.

The Open Letter challenged PepsiCo to improve its inadequate palm oil policy before the historic People’s Climate March which was held on September 21, 2014. Unfortunately PEPSICO didn’t respond before the March, nor have they since. As we all now know, more then 700,000 people from around 15125036547_9d5481884a_zthe world – 400,000 of them in New York City – (including Debra, Susan and I) marched to demand climate solutions, and called on powerful leaders, including business leaders, to address climate change, and work toward solutions. While Ms. Nooyi, and PepsiCo haven’t yet answer our call on their palm oil program which lacks time bound commitments and a traceable supply chain, we aren’t giving up and we still hope that they will step up and lead on this critical issue.

As our Climate Mamas and Papas know, palm oil production is a HUGE cause of greenhouse gas pollution which is the number one driver of climate change. In fact, Palm oil production in countries like Indonesia, where PepsiCo gets much of it’s palm oil, has driven up greenhouse gas emissions exponentially. Because of palm oil production, Indonesia is the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, right behind China and the USA.

We want to keep the pressure on and convince PepsiCo to do the right thing, so we are asking you to help us put the number of signatures on our open letter over the top (the top of 100,000 that is!!)

So please sign it now and share it with your friends!

Yours,

Climate Mama

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summit collageI was invited by the UN Foundation to report on the September 23rd, UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit, from inside the United Nations…I was honored, excited, but also more then a little apprehensive…

Coming off a “high” from marching 2 days before through the streets of New York, defiantly and with purpose surrounded by my children, husband, old friends and many new friends – over 400000 give or take a few – I was filled with a sense of hope and renewed possibilities. We were demanded climate action now. We demonstrated that we are more then ready, and expected our leaders in industry, business, and all levels of elected office, to begin decisively using their powers to take action as well. Filling and overflowing the wide avenues of New York City, it felt like we could no longer be ignored. However, because of my past experience as a delegate at the United Nations, I knew that I shouldn’t “get my hopes up too high.” This Summit, with more then 100 heads of state and government, was certainly the most prominent UN meeting I had attended in many, many years, and the first gathering of world leaders to discuss climate change in 5 years. The timing and the urgency of the crisis we faced seemed to present crystal clear opportunities for real change to be announced and put in motion. Continue reading

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Photo Credit: Peoples Climate March

Photo Credit: Peoples Climate March

For many of us who took part in the Peoples Climate March, either in person or by cheering on friends and family who could be in New York on our behalf, the euphoria may have passed, but the urgency to do “something more” remains.

And this is a good thing.

We know that not every day can be so “huge, emotional and powerful.” But at the same time we know that everyday must include something; visible, concrete steps, and actions that move us forward in this fight to protect our future and now. We need some really heavy lifting from our world leaders and local leaders. We need to remind our elected officials if they want us to vote for them, they must have climate solutions as part of their plans.

logoSo while we push and demand these big steps and heavy lifting, we can also take smaller steps in our own homes that added with other small steps can add up to big, big moves. While changing a light bulb won’t change the world, if every household replaced just one light bulb with one that has earned the ENERGY STAR certification, we would save enough energy to light three million homes for a whole year, and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to that of 800,000 vehicles.

In order for energy efficient technologies to truly take hold, people will need to trust products that are reliable and high quality, which is why distinguishing ENERGY STAR certified LEDs from the rest of the market is so important.

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 3.25.18 PMOur friends at Energy Star have launched some funny videos, that remind us to stay away from “dim bulbs” and offer some great suggestions on why we should be switching to LED bulbs. Share these videos with the kids in your life; they will smile, and learn a think or tow at the same time!

Many thanks to our good friend Diane, at Big Green Purse, for always reminding us about great, practical ways we can all make a difference…

Yours,

Climate Mama

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