|Climate Mamas and Papas|
Climate Change so often seems too big to get our hands around. We wonder where we can start and how we can actually make a difference. Each one of us has a different path that we will follow. Some of us cut a wider swath than others, but each of us has a role to play. We would like to introduce you to some amazing individuals, Climate Mamas and Papas who are making a difference, who are, through their daily lives, affecting the lives of all of us. They inspire us, empower us, and challenge us to reach for the stars, to strive to do the best we can to help change the crash course we are currently on with our environment. Lets meet some of these amazing people and find out what inspires them. Meet our featured Climate Mama, Desiree Di Mauro today!
Remember, this site is for all you Climate Mamas and Papas, wherever you call home.
"There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew." -- Marshall McLuhan, 1964
P.S. If you know someone who we should be featuring on this page, please send us their name and contact information, we will do the rest!
Desiree Di Mauro: Climate Mama
Life is full of those "serendipitous" moments, and meeting Desiree was one of those for me. I came across Desiree's blog GreenMomster while surfing the web, something we all do at times; we see something that looks good and we dive in for more. GreenMomster has been a wonderful source of inspiration and information for me. A few months later and independent of our "check ins" with GreenMomster, Desiree began commenting on our ClimateMama blog posts! Desiree was also a participant in our successful national Global "Frackdown" Green Moms fracking carnival. Desiree is a 'super mom' like all our Climate Mamas. She manages 3 children, 3 dogs, various geckos and honeybees, in addition to a being a college professor at two colleges as well as a volunteer at several Virginia State Parks. She also plants and maintains her own butterfly and vegetable gardens! Talk about multi-tasking. So grab a coffee (or a glass of wine) sit back and find out more about Desiree and why we are so happy to call her one of our CLIMATE MAMAS!
Current project/position/adventure: I’m a professor at Northern Virginia Community College and Virginia Tech, teaching courses in biology, ecology, and environmental science.
Parent or Grandparent: I’m a parent of three kids – Noah (13), Sammy (12), and Willow (9)
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, the steps you took, life events, decisions you made, that helped you arrive at where you are at today? I’ve always found animals fascinating, which led me to my interest in ecology. As I look back, I guess my interest in natural resources and endangered species started early -- in elementary school, my “my hero” essay was about Jacques Cousteau. So when my dream of having a career in the Ice Capades didn’t work out (I’ve never taken skating lessons), I was off to college for degrees in biology, environmental management, and environmental science. As I studied ecology and endangered species, it became very clear that climate change will have a major impact on the ecosystems of our planet. Species have evolved over millennia to cycle together; climate change throws many of these cycles out of rhythm as species don’t react at the same speed.
What inspires you to keep going, to keep fighting this challenging battle against climate change? Two things inspire me – the stunning complexity of the natural world and, of course, my children are my inspiration. I don’t believe in the phrase, “our children are our future.” I believe that my parents’ generation handed me my future through education, equal rights policy, medical advances, and new technology. Similarly, we give our children their future. If we properly manage our resources and minimize pollution, we give our children a bright future.
What are the three greatest challenges, and or opportunities you feel the world faces from climate change? Firstly, I feel that one of our biggest challenges regarding climate change is the smooth transition toward renewable energy. Currently, many clean technologies exist, but we have to develop means for providing this energy on a very large scale. I believe that we are 100% able to meet this challenge, but we’ll have to be creative and courageous. As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I believe that meeting the challenge of climate change is our generation’s “Apollo Moment.” Second,I believe that the issue of climate refugees is going to be a huge challenge. And third, biodiversity conservation, both on land and in the oceans, will be a very big challenge (the current rate of species extinction is up to 1000 times the natural rate, thanks to human impacts).
Scientific studies and real world scenarios seem to be pointing to more frequent extreme weather events, a shorter time frame for a warmer planet and all of the negative ramifications that this will bring. Yet here in the US, we still seem to be debating the “reality of climate change.” What can we do to move beyond the “debate" and work towards averting these consequences? Actually, although I see much “debate” in Congress and on talk radio, I believe many folks have already moved beyond the debate. Government agencies, such as DOD, have already begun to move ahead, addressing the reality of climate change. Similarly, I see private industry, including the building industry, as well as local and state governments, addressing the reality of climate change. Why? Because folks who run local and state governments, as well as business people, must look at the bottom line – simply sticking their heads in the sand will cost them money in the long run. Moving to renewable fuels, conservation, and new cleaner processes will save money in the long run.
Do you see any hopeful signs that people are waking up to the dangers of climate change? Definitely! I don’t see it at the national government level, but I see it at the levels of local and state government and private industry. In 2009, the 100th mayor signed the Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. Sustainability programs are cropping up at many major universities and large businesses, all of which I see as hopeful signs that people are waking up to the dangers of climate change.
What advice would you give to other Climate Mama’s and Papa’s, steps they can take both as individuals and collectively to help change the course we currently find ourselves on with climate change? Individually, I think a great place to start is determining your personal “footprint.” Go to Global Footwork Network to see where you can make individual changes. I’d like to encourage everyone to seriously consider eating AT LEAST one meat-free meal per week – reducing your meat consumption can equal the carbon savings we see in switching to a hybrid car! I’d also like to encourage everyone to choose one “uncomfortable” change that he or she can make to limit greenhouse gas emissions. We aren’t going to reverse this ship by just doing things that are easy or comfortable – everyone is going to have to get a little uncomfortable at this point. Just doing the baseline, like using re-useable bags at the grocery store, isn’t going to cut it anymore. We must do more. Collectively, I encourage Climate Mamas and Papas to start writing letters! Your legislators, local businesses, and energy companies need to hear from you. If you’re a very persuasive writer, submit info to the local paper. Don’t be shy!
Other thoughts or ideas that you would like to pass on to our community? Sometimes this environmental and climate change stuff can get a little heavy and depressing. I encourage everyone to spend some time in nature, just enjoying yourself. I really like this quote from Edward Abbey: “One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast....a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.”
Contact information, website, or related story you would like us to link to this article? If you could link to both my web page (www.greenmomster.org) and my facebook page (www.facebook.com/greenmomster), that would be great.
Favorite book or movie? My favorite movie of all time is “When Harry Met Sally,” but if you’re going for an environmental movie I would definitely plug a movie I recently watched, “The Big Year”, about birding. I’ve also enjoyed the documentaries, “Turtle, The Incredible Journey” and “Burning the Future: Coal in America.” Can’t wait to check out the new IMAX, “Flight of the Butterflies” about monarch butterflies, which, yes, are being affected by climate change. As for books, one of my absolute favorites is Life is So Good by George Dawson and Richard Glaubman for its uplifting story and life-changing positive attitude. On the environmental side, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson is a must-read. She fought the Goliaths of her day, and we Climate Mamas and Papas can do the same!