On December 3, 2018, the United Nations Conference of the Parties 24 (COP) started it’s annual meeting and discussion on Climate Change, this year in Poland, a country which relies heavily on coal for it’s source of energy.

Like a lego set with pieces missing, annual United Nations climate conferences and meetings too often seem like projects that will never be completed with their purposes and goals beyond our imaginations. In fact, COP24 (The 24th Conference of the Parties) may not even be in your lexicon, never mind on your radar. If you live in the United States –  United Nations negotiations on climate change seem to be sliding ever further away from the limelight, even as scientists and our planet tell us we need to have climate solutions front and center, as they have never been more important then they are today.

For our Climate Mamas and Papas who ARE wondering what is happening in Poland,  countries from around the world (including the USA) are attending the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)  in Katowice, Poland  from December 3rd – December 14th.

We wanted to be one of the first to share an interview with you that was recorded in Poland on December 3rd,  with 15 year old Greta Thunberg of Sweden. Greta has taken on the task of reminding her country and the world what is at stake, regardless if the world want to hear it or not.  Get out your handkerchiefs, Greta’s frank comments are not for the faint of heart.

(Check back for a summary of COP24 results, the third week in December.)

Transcript of Greta’s Statement, December 3rd, 2018, Katowice, Poland

For 25 years countless of people have stood in front of the United Nations climate conferences, asking our nations leaders to stop the emissions. But, clearly this has not worked since the emissions just continue to rise.

 
So I will not ask them anything.

Instead I will ask the media to start treating the crisis as a crisis. 

Instead I will ask the people around the world to realize that our political leaders have failed us.

Because we are facing an existential threat and there is no time to continue down this road of madness.

Rich countries like Sweden need to start reducing emissions by at least 15% every year to reach the 2 degree warming target. You would think the media and everyone of our leaders would be talking about nothing else – but no one ever even mentions it.

Nor does hardly anyone ever talk about that we are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, with up to 200 species going extinct every single day.

 Furthermore does no one ever speak about the aspect of equity clearly stated everywhere in the Paris agreement, which is absolutely necessary to make it work on a global scale. That means that rich countries like mine need to get down to zero emissions, within 6–12 years with todays emission speed, so that people in poorer countries can highten their standard of living by building some of the infrastructure that we have already built. Such as hospitals, electricity and clean drinking water. 

Because how can we expect countries like India, Colombia or Nigeria to care about the climate crisis if we, who already have everything, don’t care even a second about our actual commitments to the Paris agreement?

So when school started in August this year I sat myself down on the ground outside the Swedish parliament. I school striked for the climate. 

Some people say that I should be in school instead. Some people say that I should study to become a climate scientist so that I can ”solve the climate crisis”. But the climate crisis has already been solved. We already have all the facts and solutions. 

And why should I be studying for a future that soon may be no more, when no one is doing anything to save that future? And what is the point of learning facts when the most important facts clearly means nothing to our society?

Today we use 100 million barrels of oil every single day. There are no politics to change that. There are no rules to keep that oil in the ground. 

So we can’t save the world by playing by the rules. Because the rules have to be changed. 

So we have not come here to beg the world leaders to care for our future. They have ignored us in the past and they will ignore us again.

We have come here to let them know that change is coming whether they like it or not. The people will rise to the challenge. And since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago.

Posted in Climate Mama News, Climate Mama Video Peek of the Week, Earth Day is Every Day, In The News, Politics, Take a Stand: Action & Advocacy | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

T’is that time of year again! With Thanksgiving falling earlier in the month this year then it often does,  it seems that the holiday season is upon us earlier as well. I don’t know about you, but I actually feel really ready for the holidays this year. We had some early snow on the East coast, and I am  in need of reasons to celebrate – to be in the moment with friends and family and to cherish the quality time that the holidays bring. As Climate Mamas and Papas, there has been too much heartbreak –  with the many climate disasters that have hurt our families and friends, and the urgent reminders for needed action now, shared by the many scientific reports recently released on the impacts of our climate crisis. 

That being said, panic often sets in for me with the holidays fast approaching and my “shopping and to do list”  still missing many check marks. I am good at compartmentalizing, and I would advise you to do the same. I know we never forget the urgency of the day, yet we too must find time to celebrate, to recharge and to share love, kindness and thoughtfulness with one another. Without reminders of what and why we give so much of our time and energy to slow down our changing climate, it would be so much harder to carry on.

Every year during the holidays, I agonize over where to “draw the line.” It is as the saying goes “wonderful to give.” But how best to balance the consumer goods focus, pressure packed, “buy, buy, buy” world which commands us to “shop till we drop,” versus our growing concerns and fears for our future, our planet and ourselves as we live climate change is challenging, to say the least. As my children grow older, and as my “eco-consciousness” pervades our home life, family discussions, and everyday purchases, I feel that the pressure to buy “a lot of stuff” is over, and quality over quantity is recognized as a redeeming virtue.

So, now that I have that off my chest and on the table, I offer up 7 tips to help make your holidays and give giving more sustainable:

 As general rules on gift giving

  1. Try to shop local, support local businesses, buy locally made products and services.
  2. I personally do most of my shopping on line, from the comfort of my office or home; saving on gas and for me the frustration of going to the mall and all that that entails.
  3. Wrap thoughtfully! Most of us love things that are wrapped, but remember that the
    average American throws out 4.5 lbs of garbage a day, most of it in packaging and this is on an average day not even during the holidays. Do you need a big box to put your present in? Won’t that box just go straight into the garbage? Can you wrap the gift with something that is reusable or recyclable, a pretty scarf you never wear any more, a piece of fabric, or the Sunday comics?
  4. On giving back; give a gift this year to a child impacted by climate change, extreme
    weather and man-made disasters. Make sure your kids know you are doing this do; get them involved. Sadly this year we have had too many disasters, in our country and around the world. This is our reality and something that isn’t going away. With the recent wildfires in California and Hurricane Michael, these disasters are very fresh as we approach the holidays. Life is “not normal” for too many families  impacted by these disasters and others that have happened this year, last year and years before; many, many families are still recovering. If you live in the southern California area,  the California Community Foundation, Spark of Love Toy Drive, is a great way to give to kids who have lost their possessions through fires. Check in with your local Community Foundation and house of worship for ways to give back.

On Throwing Holiday Parties

  1. When you invite people to your party, it’s nice to send beautiful invitations that reflect the holiday spirit and festivities. At the same time, wouldn’t it be nice if these invitations, or holiday cards could also be thoughtful and simple reminders of ways to take care of our planet by not create unnecessary waste?  At ClimateMama and personally, I always use online invitations and cards, and our  go to is Paperless Post.
  2. Instead of using paper plates and plastic cups, if you don’t have enough reusable dishes and glasses for your party, suggest that everyone bring one setting or a few glasses, and mix and match your holiday table for a true family experience. Create a new family tradition this year

 Final Tip & Holiday Tradition

For years, our family has been “giving a gift from nature;” something hat each family member creates for one other person in the family “secret Santa” style. Family member assignments are made ahead of time, but not too long ahead of time as the gift is meant to be simple, made to be keep, yet it also must be fashioned in a way that it can also go “back to nature” too, not into the landfill. As an extended family we spend the holidays together in a place where the sun shines most days and it is warm outside, so nature abounds. For my friends in snow covered climes, a homemade creation from things found inside, would serve this idea just as well. This gift exchange, which takes place after the more traditional presents are given, brings laughter, tears and real joy to our celebrations as well as stories and memories shared again and again over the years!

 

Yours,

 

ClimateMama

 

Tree Photo by Thandy Yung on Unsplash

 

Posted in Climate Mama News, Earth Day is Every Day, Holidays, Lifestyle & Fun, Recycling | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

This Thanksgiving, we are going to try to channel the true meaning of Aloha, and we invite you to join us. Most of us hear “Aloha” and think – Hawaiian greeting – a simple expression of hello or goodbye. The deeper Hawaiian meaning is actually much more complex; it expresses the combined notions of compassion, love and peace.

Now more then ever, love, compassion and peace are feelings, hopes and ideals that we need to embrace. Our country and our personal relationships with loved ones, neighbors and friends, must find ways to move forward in a positive and constructive direction.

Social scientists tell us (and it seems evident to most of us) that our nation is in the midst of a cultural, political and emotional upheaval. We are divided in so many fundamental ways on huge issues like race, inequality, religious intolerance, sexual freedoms, gender inequality and of course climate change.

Deciding simply not to “talk about” our differing opinions and views is NOT the way to move ourselves, our families, or our nation forward. Not only do we need to talk about our hopes and our concerns, we need to try our best to hear and listen to different opinions, and let others share their hopes and concerns with us as well. Listening to family and friends and really HEARING the views of those who think differently then us is critical to finding common ground and creating hope.

As such, we wanted to offer 4 broad tips and conversation ideas that resonate deeply with us. We feel that the advice below is useful – not only for Thanksgiving discussions – but also for sharing, thinking and acting on, well beyond Thanksgiving and the holiday season. We have abbreviated the important messages below and pulled them out of longer discussions. We are adding links to the first three posts in their entirety so you can dig deeper as well.

On Climate facts from A Climate Scientist
Richard C.J. Somerville: Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego

Have a civil conversation. In his heart, your “Uncle Pete” would probably admit that everybody is entitled to his own opinions, but not to his own facts. When it comes to facts, we scientists have the high ground. The world is warming. It’s not a hoax. We measure it. The warming did not stop in 1998. All the warmest years are recent years. 2016 will be the warmest year on record. 2015 is second. 2014 is third. The atmosphere is warming, and so is the ocean. Sea level is rising. Ice sheets and glaciers are shrinking. Rainfall patterns and severe weather events are changing. Climate change is real, and serious, and happening right here, right now. And it isn’t natural. Human activities are the dominant cause of the climate changes we have observed in recent decades.

We must act. We can’t dither any longer. If Uncle Pete wants to keep the government from controlling his life and diminishing his freedom–as most all of us do–then we all need to learn about and accept the science. We all need to take the threat of climate change seriously. We all must act wisely, and urgently, to minimize that threat and thereby limit the damage of climate change to tolerable levels.

On Hate & Anger that welled up during and since November 2016 Election

John Pavlovitz: Pastor and writer from Wake Forest, North Carolina

I believe you when you say that you’re not a racist.
I believe you when you say that you’re not a bigot.
I believe you when you say you’re not homophobic.
I believe you when you say you’re not a misogynist.
I believe you when you say you’re not an Islamophobe.
I believe you when you say you’re not an anti-Semite.
I believe you when you say that you don’t condone violence and discrimination and bullying.

But I won’t keep believing you if you remain silent.

On being Sanctimonious
Lisa Bennett: Mom, writer, speaker and communication strategist, California

Opinions may vary but this much seems clear: Suggesting that climate change (or any issue) is more important than all others is simply not helpful. It invites argument. It belies the fact that all big issues are complex and, in many ways, connected. And, perhaps most importantly, it fails to reflect how human beings experience life, which is on a much more immediate and personal level. Last year, for example, when my mother was dying, climate change became a complete abstraction to me. When I’ve been out of work, making money has been the most important thing. When I’ve been sick, getting healthy trumped everything. And people have these kinds experiences every day, which means that every time someone says climate change is the most important issue of the day, they run smack into the objection (repeatedly affirmed by polls) that says: Not to me. At least, not to me right now.

So if you want to avoid the sanctimonious trap, refrain from saying that climate change (or whatever your issue) is the most important issue of our day. Call it important; or better yet, say it concerns you for whatever personal reason it does—and whatever reason you think might be shared by the person you are talking to. Avoid implying that you know better, or in any way are better than others because of what you understand or do about the environment (even if it makes you nervous that they “don’t get it.”)

On Sharing our Sadness and our Hope

Finally, as your Climate Mama, I too want to share my “two cents” about the politicization of climate change and the critical importance of moving forward with solutions.  As I write this, the November 2018 fires in California are still not out, and the physical and emotional destruction across the state is as heavy and thick as the smoke that has been blanketing many parts of the state, including San Francisco. Earlier this week, we in New York City, smelled, saw and tasted the smoke from 3000 miles away. I have many dear friends in the San Francisco bay area, they are far away from the flames of the fires, yet they have been directly impacted as toxic smoke has enveloped their city. My friends have shared photos of themselves in masks, and shared that they have been unable to get out of their homes for days. Several friends have called me incredibly distraught, wanting to share their immense sadness with someone from outside the “impact zone.”  The stark realities of our climate crisis are confronting them in ways both real and raw. There is much written about the connections between wildfires and climate change, I will share just one such reference here. But my point in sharing my sadness for my friends with you now, as we approach this joyful holiday time, is that we must not shy away from talking about our reality. We are living climate change, it is of our own creation, the impacts will only get worse, and we can do something, and scientists and our planet are telling us in no uncertain terms that we must act now; we are out of time.

At our holiday tables and in the rooms where our family, dear friends and loved ones are gathered, we can and we must share our sorrows and concerns. If we can’t talk to those that love us about what we are feeling, hearing and seeing, then our species and our children are in deeper trouble then even we can imagine. There is no one right way to talk to Uncle Bob, Mom, or cousin Bernie. Feel your way, share your personal stories, do your homework, and ask them to share their stories too. There is a way forward and it begins with love, with empathy and with caring.

Do send us your tips and conversation starters. We would love to share them.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Yours,

Climate Mama

 

This post is adapted from a 2017 ClimateMama Thanksgiving post

*Leaf Reflection Photo by Derek Thomson on Unsplash

* Socks and Book Photo by Alex Geerts on Unsplash

Posted in Climate Mama News, Do Something Wednesdays, Food, Holidays, Politics, Take a Stand: Action & Advocacy | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Used with permission: ErikMcGregor.com

From November 7th to November 21st, each work week day,  people have been gathering in Trenton, New Jersey to talk, to sing, and to share their concerns and hopes about our climate emergency. Many of the people gathered in Trenton, as well as many others around the state, have chosen to fast from 1-14 days. Fasting is very personal. Some people may call it radical or extreme. But ever person we spoke to who took part in Climate Fast New Jersey, did so with the determination and with the sincere hope that their actions would help shine a light on the urgency of the crisis we face. The ClimateFastNJ fasters and supporters are calling on New Jersey  Governor Murphy to put in place a moratorium on all new fossil fuel infrastructure. All participants and supporters felt that their actions could help move our elected officials, including Governor Murphy, to take actionable and immediate steps, commensurate with the scale and scope of our climate crisis.

Many New Jersey Climate Mamas and Papas told us they are joining in solidarity with this fast from all around the state, even if they couldn’t be in Trenton in person (see below for a listing of close to 40 New Jersey towns where people are fasting). In addition, people from New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Massachusetts and as far away as England and Ireland are joining the fast in solidarity. Some people are fasting for one day, some are fasting every other day, and others are fasting for 3, 4, 5, 8 or 10 days. Two people are fasting for all 14 days.

We are honored to share some of the thoughts and feelings of those who are fasting. We thank all our fasters for being strong and resolute and for helping to bring the seriousness and urgency of the climate crisis clearly into focus.

“I joined the Climate Fast on November 18, 2018 to help bring attention to the need for change.  As an evolving society, we need to “LOOK UP” for cleaner, life saving energy. We should no longer look down at our feet to outdated dinosaurs. I am reminded of a quote from Steven Hawking, where he said: “Look up at the stars, not down at your feet.”

Constance Mattison, New Jersey

“I am participating in the Climate Fast, which I know is an extreme act, but New Jersey and the rest of the planet face a climate emergency that threatens to make much of our earth a dangerous and uninhabitable place for humans and other living things.  I hope our fast will help the governor see that although he has taken some positive actions to address climate change, unless he declares an end to any new fossil fuel infrastructure, his goal of a clean energy future in our state with be unattainable.  I also hope this action will encourage others to learn more about the climate crisis and to join a group to help build a stronger environmental movement to replace fossil fuels with solar, wind and other sustainable energy sources.”

Jane Califf, New Jersey

“I am fasting with liquids for 3 days for my family, for New Jersey, Puerto Rico and all areas affected by the fossil fuel industry and fracking. I am asking our administration in New Jersey to ban fracking, and to rapidly transition from fossil fuels to clean energy – for the lives of our families and the planet.”

Maria Santiago, New Jersey

“I’m fasting from my home on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The Cape is lovely but at the same time it is basically ground zero for climate change. My town alone has 68 miles of coastline, all showing visible signs of sea level rise and more frequent,  intense storms. I don’t have to tell my Massachusetts or New Jersey friends what climate disruption looks like in a coastal town. But I’m constantly surprised by those who just don’t seem to comprehend the enormity or the urgency of what’s at stake–even in our own front and backyards. So, when my dear New Jersey friends asked for support for their fast against the continued expansion of fracking infrastructure in the Garden State, I had to join in.  Even though I’m fasting for just one day, it’s amazing to me how this exercise stimulates deeper reflection. My main reflection is my love and appreciation for my activist friends and other thoughtful, informed leaders, wherever they are.  They have taught me how to be bold and persistent in our fight for a safe climate, and to never give up. We will win this.”

Rosemary Carey, Massachusetts

“The air and water pollution from our fossil fuel industrial complex is killing us, says Owl. I’ve seen men dying of black lung from coal mining begging for a breath of clean air and babies suffering in the hospital because the air itself, is killing them. New Jersey has a critical role to play in solving this global problem. Governor Murphy can and must lead on climate by declaring a moratorium on all new fossil fuel infrastructure.”

 Owl, member of the Ramapough Lenape Nation

By noon Wednesday November 21st, I will have fasted from food for 10 full days. This has been a voluntary sacrifice. I do this in tribute to the many committed activists working on climate and human rights issues around the world. I do this with awareness of the many victims of environmental damage. I know that Governor Murphy is concerned about environment and climate. He is in a unique position of power. He can change New Jersey’s current course – by breaking fossil fuel entrenchment and improving New Jersey’s resiliency. His power is pivotal at this urgent time. I hope that Governor Murphy will decide to enact  a moratorium on new fossil fuel infrastructure in the State.”

 Jerome Wagner, President 350 NJ-R

“For the governor to call for a shift to 100% renewable energy and then allow his Department of Environmental Protection to approve key permits for new gas pipelines, new and expanded compressor stations, and new gas-fired power plants is totally inconsistent. The first rule when you want to get out of a deep hole is to stop digging. The seriousness of the climate crisis demands that we do just that right now.”

Ted Glick, Roseland Against the Compressor

“I have fasted for the children that cannot breathe and are getting sick and missing school because of the toxic air from fossil fuel pollution and for the millions of displaced families and children from climate changed fueled droughts and extreme storms. Enough is enough, every sane person agrees we should not be building new fossil fuel infrastructure in the State of New Jersey.”

Jean-Marie Donohue, Assistant Director of WATERSPIRIT

“I refuse to accept that my children’s future is predetermined and that climate chaos will envelope our lives. Our mother earth is showing us in so many ways – we are out of time. Those that can “go big” must. During this critical time when we have no climate leadership in Washington, our Governors can and must be climate champions; they can use their power to put in place moratoriums on all new fossil fuel infrastructure. We must act on the reality we face as we live climate change. Governor Murphy, lead the way forward. More fossil fuel infrastructure is directly the opposite direction of where we must go.”

Harriet Shugarman, Executive Director, ClimateMama

You can learn more about Climate Fast New Jersey at https://www.climatefastnj.com

New Jersey participants in Climate Fast live in the following NJ towns:

Englewood Cliffs, Woodcliff Lake, Teaneck, Somers Point, Colts Neck, Newark, Jackson, West Orange, Millburn, Chesterfield, Dumont, West Caldwell, Freehold, Brick, Highland Park, Maplewood, Jersey City, Hackensack, Bloomfield, Little Silver, Neptune City, Trenton, Somerville, Rumson, Montclair, South Orange, Princeton, Lavallette, Wayne, Rockaway Twp, Fort Lee, North Bergen, Shrewsbury, Middletown, Long Branch, Manchester and Wyckoff.

 

Posted in Climate Mama News, Climate Mamas & Papas, Earth Day is Every Day, fracking and pipelines, Take a Stand: Action & Advocacy | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Orchard School 2nd Graders Used with Permission, Earth Charter Indiana

We have many wonderful partners and collaborators at ClimateMama and we LOVE to share their work, their ideas and their passions. Knowing that so many actions are being taken across the country and around the world to slow down climate change,  keeps us positive and moving forward. We wanted to inspire you today, so we are sharing some of the wonderful work being done by our friends at Earth Charter Indiana (ECI).   School children across Indiana, with the help, advice and leadership of ECI are creating climate solutions and teaching these solutions to their peers.

Earth Charter Indiana is lead by Executive Director Jim Poyser, a Climate Reality mentor and leader, and a dear friend and colleague to all of us at ClimateMama.  We love Jim for many reasons, but in particular because he leads with his heart, and as a result his successes are endless.

Jim’s post below speaks for itself. When given the tools, kids can and do lead.  Check in regularly with ECI for similar updates about replicable projects. ECI helps to motivate and  inspire children who then are empowered to inspire other children who show us all how to lead!

The power of peer-to-peer learning

by Jim Poyser, first published on ECI Blog, November 7th, 2018

In the face of information overload when it comes to our unraveling climate, I constantly second-guess myself. Sure, we do a lot of good stuff, all geared toward carbon footprint reduction while encouraging wise choices for consumption, diet, efficiency and renewable energy.

But are we making a difference at the scale that’s necessary?

I beat myself up over this every day, but lately I’ve been thinking ECI might be on to something meaningful: zero waste cafeteriasOh zero waste cafeterias, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways; a zero waste cafeteria:

  1.  Diverts plastic, paper and cardboard waste from the landfill to the recycling system, reducing greenhouse gases in the form of carbon dioxide
  2.  Diverts food waste from the landfill to composting, reducing greenhouse gases in the form of methane
  3.  Rescues safe, edible food from the landfill to share with food insecure (i.e. Food Rescue).
  4.  Promotes youth leadership: They have to convince adults to change the cafeteria system, then the kids are responsible for running the system
  5. . Promotes problem-based, systems thinking learning opportunities. This systems-thinking approach should lead to source reduction — i.e. replacing current materials with materials that are more easily recycled, etc.
  6.  Promotes peer-to-peer learning opportunities.
  7.  Maybe even changes the education system itself to emphasize youth-led, solutions-based action to reduce harm to our environment.

Fortunately, my Climate Camp director Kristina Hulvershorn is connected to IPS School 91, where the zero waste action is taking place here in 2018. Two sixth graders, Sophie (left) and Ella, took this project on, with Kristina’s guidance, and in the process trained nearly 100 fellow students at their k-8 public school.

They required and received support from their principal, Kathy Lause, their cafeteria manager, Mr. Carter, and a host of School 91 administrative and faculty members.

Now, not only are Ella, Sophie and crew reducing their cafeteria waste by 75%, they are also finding lots of opportunities to educate students in other schools who are similarly bit by the zero waste cafeteria bug.

So while there’s an entire list of things to love about this project, let’s concentrate on #6, peer-to-peer learning opportunities.

Last spring, Oaklandon Elementary School visited School 91 to observe how a zero waste cafeteria works. See below:

OakVisits91_1.jpg
 Above, Ella, standing, debriefs the cafeteria project with Oaklandon Elementary students.

Above, Ella, standing, debriefs the cafeteria project with Oaklandon Elementary students.

Since then, Oaklandon has begun to gather data on what they throw away each day in their cafeteria.

In November, students from International School of Indianapolis visited School 91 to study their zero waste tactics. See photo below. They returned to their school to scheme on their own cafeteria project.

EllaWIntSchool.jpg

In November, students from Noble Crossing Elementary in Noblesville saved some travel carbons and skyped with Sophie and Ella. And also in November, student leaders from nearby Christ the King Catholic School visited School 91 to observe.

This is the real power for change, as far as I am concerned: Kids teaching kids. Our roles as adults is to support our young people as they engage in the hard work it’s going to take to repair our damaged environment.

If you are interested in learning more, email me at: jimpoyser@earthcharterindiana.org

*All Photos are used with permission from Earth Charter Indiana 
Posted in Climate Mama News, Earth Day is Every Day, Recycling, Schools and Colleges | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Credit: Flicker – Creative Commons

Vote: Does it sound “old,” “tired,” and “cliche?” I know it does, but voting does truly matter and is something we must not take for granted.

According to the United States Elections Project, in the 2014 United States mid-term elections 143 million eligible voters did not vote. More bluntly: just over 36% of eligible voters actually voted, and almost 2/3rds of eligible voters stayed home and did not vote. The 2014 midterms had one of the most lack luster voter turnouts in nearly 70 years. We must show our children, our neighbors and the world that the 2018 mid-terms are different.

In the 2016 presidential elections, less then 60% of Americans voted. When the 2016 vote is broken out by age range we see a pattern that has existed for some time: just over 40% of those 18-29 voted; in the 45-59 age range, over 65%  voted; and for those over 60, more then 70% voted. While it’s critical that we all vote, young people, a group that traditionally does not vote in large numbers,  needs to be regular, consistent and active voters. On average, young people tend to be more inclusive, more demanding of the truth and less likely to accept outright lies, and quicker to demand change. We need to move quickly and demand change, for we are out of time.

Voting is our right and people throughout history have fought so hard for us to have this right. Yes, it may seem that if you live in California, New York, or New Jersey your vote counts significantly less then someone who lives in Wyoming or Idaho. And yet, in California, New Jersey and New York there are districts and counties where in the 2016 and 2017 elections, leaders were elected by only double digits. Ten people can make a difference, so can one person. Every vote counts.

In Australia, voting is compulsory – required by law. Consistently over 90% of eligible voters do vote. The fine for not voting in a federal election is $20 and there are various local and state fines as well. Perhaps it’s time for mandatory voting in the USA?

At ClimateMama we always remind our Climate Mamas and Papas that to vote without knowing where your candidate stands, or just because she has an R or a D in front of her name, isn’t good enough. You must do your homework. Just as we want our children to show us that they have completed their homework, we need to do the same. Talk to your children about your vote and why someone has earned it. We stand strongly by this advice.

We also want to remind all our Climate Mama’s and Papas, when you cast your federal votes in this 2018 mid-term election, do so with the intent to show our children our country and the world that we completely and utterly repudiated hate,  anger and lies. By not standing up to outright lies, to hate, and for science, currently elected congressional and senatorial leaders are both directly and tacitly giving their approval to President Trump’s agenda and his lies. Among other things, this agenda includes more drilling and mining on public lands for oil, coal and gas; it includes less regulation to protect our children’s health and our water and our air; it fuels hatred by demonizing immigrants, and by making it difficult in many locations across the country to vote. This administration is one that we must stand up to and strongly say: We reject the agenda you are putting forward.

We have no more time. Our planet is showing us this in so many ways. And yet, we need to move forward, one step at a time and not be stuck, frozen, or paralyzed. We must keep going. We must vote, and we must demand that candidates we support show up the each day and follow through on their promises to us and to our children.

 

Yours,

 

Climate Mama

Posted in Climate Mama News, Earth Day is Every Day, In The News, Politics, Take a Stand: Action & Advocacy | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Breaking: From November 7th to November 21st, a water-only fast opposing any and all new fossil fuel infrastructure in New Jersey will be undertaken in Trenton and elsewhere around the state. People  around the country have also committed to fast, to show solidarity with the NJ Climate Fast.  For some participants, the fast will last for as long as two weeks. The fast will be conducted primarily on the sidewalks outside of Governor Murphy’s office.

What we are fasting for: Governor Murphy of New Jersey will announce that the State of New Jersey is declaring A MORATORIUM on all new fossil fuel infrastructure. This will ensure that: no new oil or gas pipelines will be built in the State; no new gas compressor stations will be built and no expansion of existing ones will occur; no new gas-fired power plants will be built; etc. Nothing which deepens the climate crisis will be constructed in the State.

One of the first questions people ask me upon hearing about this fast is: “Why New Jersey?”  Isn’t Governor Murphy “all in” on climate action? Well the answers are both yes, and no. Governor Murphy’s initial steps upon taking office in January 2018 were to respond to the seriousness and the urgency of the climate crisis by publicly reminding New Jerseyans of the need for climate action and by taking positive steps forward, including a commitment to 100% clean energy by 2050. Clearly, those of us across the state are heartened to know that New Jersey now has a leader who understands the climate chaos that could envelop us and what needs to be done to give us and our children more time to prevent the worst case scenarios that might unfold.

Yet, at this moment in time we count 11 proposed fossil fuel infrastructure projects in the State, waiting on permits to begin. New Jersey, under the leadership of the Governor has the authority to stop these projects from moving forward. These projects make achieving 100% renewable energy for New Jersey, by 2050, virtually impossible. We know that the switch can’t be turned off from fossil fuels and on to 100% renewables overnight. But we also know that we need to move further and faster then we ever have, and that we need to lead, not follow. When we meet our energy needs, it must be with renewables and energy efficiency. As a state without easily accessible fossil fuel reserves, New Jersey can be a leader by taking a stand against any further build out of fossil fuel infrastructure. New Jersey can show our country and our world that there is another way; we can put fossil fuels behind us.

We have shared information with our Climate Mamas and Papas about the October 2018 Special Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that highlights the urgent need for actions to sharply reduce fossil fuel use. According to my colleague, climate scientist Katherin Hayhoe of Texas Tech university, The Special Report is like getting a troubling diagnosis from your doctor, “Every possible test has been done and the news is not good,” Hayhoe said in an interview. “The doctor, the IPCC in this case, then explains possible treatment options to ensure our future health. WE (the public) decide which option to follow.” Without the support of WE (the elected) WE the public can’t move forward on our own. Those that we have elected to represent us  need to hear loudly from all of us that we have their backs and that we want and demand that they go farther and faster then they have gone so far, or that others before them have gone. We can and we must. Our planet is telling us we are out of time. Our children are counting on us, their future and now in our hands. We want our elected leaders to follow our Climate Mama motto: “Tell the truth, actions speak louder than words, don’t be afraid.” We can’t just “talk the talk” we all must “walk the walk” and quickly.

Many of us taking part in this fast, for one to 14

Used with permission © Erik McGregor – erikrivas@hotmail.com – 917-225-8963

days, are already involved in efforts to prevent the building of one or more proposed fossil fuel projects in New Jersey. We are undertaking this action together to make clear that in a world rapidly heating and disrupted by climate change, that we need strong leaders in the fight against climate change.  We support the Governor and want to help him move forward on climate action faster and further then he might otherwise go, without our support. We need strong leaders across the country and around the world that are for clean, job-creating renewable energy and energy efficiency. We need strong leaders who will stand for environmental justice communities, for clean air, water, and sustainable food choices and the right to a livable future. How we harness our energy and the impacts of our climate crisis are clearly social justice issues. By undertaking this fast, and raising attention for the need for a moratorium on the build out of fossil fuel infrastructure we are calling on these leaders to “walk the talk,” consistently and right now.

I have been working full time on climate education, advocacy and solutions since 2009 and it has been part of my work in a broad sense for more then 25 years. The good news is that more people, more organizations and more companies understand the realities of what’s happening and what’s at stake. The bad news is our planet is so much sicker then she was 25 years ago, and she is showing us, in no uncertain terms she is mad, and not going to take our abuse much longer.

Join us. Sign up here to be part of our fast. You don’t need to live in New Jersey to support us. Friends from Cape Cod and North Carolina have already signed up to join us from their hometowns. Learn more here on the ClimateFastNJ website.

We will be reporting regularly on our blog about the fast, the people involved, and the response from our elected officials, including the Governor. Join us if you can in person in Trenton, or from wherever you are around the state and around the world.  Let us know you are joining us, so we can support you too. The Climate Fast NJ website will contain a calendar where you can find out more about each day’s activities.

Yours,

 

Climate Mama

Posted in Climate Mama News, Climate Mamas & Papas, fracking and pipelines, In The News, Politics, Take a Stand: Action & Advocacy | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Happy Halloween! We, in North America, have taken the celebration of ghosts, goblins and monsters to an extreme and on October 31st we  ring in this festive and spooky holiday in a myriad of ways. It is an opportunity for fun and fantasy and an opportunity to “be in the moment” and enjoy!

This post contains some highlights from several of our past ClimateMama halloween posts, from our current thinking on climate action, and from some of our “scary” ghosts and goblin stories. Quite frankly these stories aren’t going to go away. So, after some important in the moment time with your kids, please do join us and help us share. Our kids health, future and now is in our hands and Halloween is as good a time as any to  remind us all that we must make climate solutions a part of our lives – every day. In the USA, with the mid-term elections on November 6th,  it is also  a critical time to remind our friends, neighbors, family and grown up children that voting does matter, now more then ever.

What continues to really scare to me, and what remains largely ignored by policy makers, the mainstream media, and many of my friends, are climate science facts shared by the international scientific climate community through their  International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports. Until recently, these “spooky and terrifying REAL life stories” are news one day and forgotten the next. They should be compelling motivators  to move us forward to act on climate now, through both big and small ways. The most recent report, “Global Warming at 1.5 Degrees”, was released in early October and it did get more mainstream media coverage then earlier reports. It tells us that we will surpass a 1.5 C degree rise in temperature from pre-industrial times within twelve years, a temperature point, and a critical indicator that will put our planet at risk of runaway climate chaos and ourselves, our children and our species at mortal risk. Twelve years flies by.

I have shared in  earlier posts how the IPCC, through hundreds of peer reviewed scientific reports that have been reviewed by hundreds of scientists around the world, confirm that:

The world’s climate continues to warm at an unprecedented rate, and that, with more than 95% certainty, scientists are confirming that humans are the primary cause of this warming.

The rate of sea level rise is also accelerating at unprecedented rates and we need to move beyond historical rates to reflect the current changes.

The arctic sea ice continues to melt rapidly and our oceans are rapidly acidifying, as they absorb much of the excess heat and atmospheric C02.

None of this is good, and I have to wonder how many more “nails in the coffin” we need to be presented with before we start not only adapting to the changes we are all experiencing, but actually doing something to stop them.

Following this scary story, let me share a personal, family Halloween story too. Continue reading

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Superstorm Sandy rolled in to the NYC metro area on October 29th, 2012 and hung around for several days. This year is the 6th Anniversary of this iconic storm. However, it’s likely that this anniversary may not be on your radar, as the breaking tragic news of each new day overcome us. Anti-Semitic murders in Pittsburgh, a deranged bomber in Florida, and a President who regularly lies; almost too much to bear. Yet, as the mid terms approach, we must remember Sandy and what has or has not been done as part of our recover and preparedness for the next big storm. How we vote and who we vote for matters more then ever.

In many ways Sandy seems like a lifetime ago  – yet “Michael, Harvey, Maria and Irma” four devastating hurricanes which struck the US and the Caribbean in the past 14 months – bring back stark reminders from that weekend, 6 years ago. Below is a post I wrote a few days after Superstorm Sandy on the eve of the 2012 elections. We have so much work to do to build up our resiliency and prepare for this new “normal” of superstorms. Those of us raising our children on the coasts, are on the front lines. We must make sure our elected officials not only acknowledge the crisis we are in, but help us build, plan and prepare for our future, which is now.

We thought the politicization of climate change was bad in 2012, sadly, things are have only gotten much worse. Climate change is happening whether you are republican, democrat, independent, rich or poor, blue, purple, black or white. We MUST take action. Hiding our heads in the sand, denying reality won’t stop the changes that are already taking place. In this upcoming election of 2018, please do vote; and for our children, challenge those seeking your vote. Ask them: “What are YOU doing about climate change?” If they don’t have a ready answer and a plan, please DO NOT give them your vote. The recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: “Global Warming at 1.5 degrees” reminds us we HAVE NO MORE TIME!

Vote as if our world depends on it, in fact it does….

Yours,

Climate Mama

Climate Change: Making Your Vote Count For Our Kids – Post Sandy

Hurricane Sandy: My Neigborhood 10/30/12

November 2, 2012: As I drink my morning coffee, through my kitchen window I still see homes with no lights, but the noise from generators that punctuated the usual early morning quiet these past few days, is absent. Neighbors are putting their recycling containers on the curb –Tuesday’s pick up has been rescheduled for today. Some normalcy returns. About 1/3 of our town now seems to have power, although on some streets it continues to look like bombs went off and clean up has yet to begin. The shock of Sandy is being replaced by resignation and acceptance, as people who’s homes have had extensive damage are looking for more permanent short to medium term solutions for places to live, and those without power are accepting the fact that it still could be days, or even weeks till they get it back.

We are lucky in our neighborhood; damage has been minimal. And as we weep for those that have lost so much, we already are begining to rebuild. But in many towns that difficult question needs to be carefully weighed, away from emotion – as sea level rises and more powerful storms are our future and our reality.

As I venture out in my car, I see gas lines already stretching for blocks and in some cases what looks like miles, as we continue to conserve gas and think about each trip we take in our car – is it a necessity? Will we learn lessons from this disaster? I hope so. We rely too heavily on fossil fuels to keep our house warm and our vehicles moving. Time to look and invest in 21st century energy and technology.

My big wonder and that of many of my neighbors, is now beginning to be: how and will I be able to vote on Tuesday? So far all the local schools, which serve as our polling stations, remain dark. I know there is every effort being made to get them up and running. For tens of thousands of us in the NYC metro area even getting to the polling stations that may be opened will be difficult. Closed streets, limited public transportation, and power outages which may have caused families to temporarily move out of their polling districts may disenfranchise so many…

I will definitely find a way to vote. As the Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg said when he endorsed President Obama on November 1st: “Our climate is changing. And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it may be — given the devastation it is wreaking — should be enough to compel all elected leaders to take immediate action.”

Hurricane Sandy: My Neigborhood

While I try to refrain from bringing politics into our blog posts on ClimateMama, I feel we have no choice but to discuss politics now. Mother nature, through Sandy, says we must and we have to. From my vantage point, I see that the Republican party has been co-opted and taken hostage by many climate deniers who not only won’t put short and long term fixes for climate change on the agenda, but they vehemently deny the fact and reality of man made climate change. Too many in the party are demanding that we continue to invest in fossil fuels and the infrastructure that will keep us reliant and addicted to this form of energy that scientists tell us IS causing our climate to change. This is a path that is leading to “mutually assured destruction,” a concept from the cold war, video games, movies and now once again real life. There is too much at stake not to discuss this on the eve of what may be the most important presidential election of our time. Climate change is not only NOT on the agenda of this Republican party it’s not in the party’s vernacular and has become a dirty word. Or ala Harry Potter it has now become: “he who shall NOT be named.”

Please, for our children’s sake and for our future and theirs…think deeply about your vote and don’t just vote for your “team” a way of “thinking and acting” that has been pushed more and more in recent years as our country has become more polarized. Climate Change needs to be THE focus of the next 4 years, not just an “issue” that should be looked at.

Listening to the radio this morning I heard that there is another storm, a nor’easter coming our way as soon as Wednesday, the day after the 2012 elections…Mother Nature is knocking hard at the door: “I am here, LISTEN AND PAY ATTENTION to me, I NEED your help!”

Yours,

Climate Mama

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Twelve years ago my daughter was seven and my son was eight. Twelve years ago I had recently moved from New York City to New Jersey and ClimateMama was still a dream. I feel like I have hardly aged, and then I look at my children and I see clearly the passage of time. Twelve years ago my father was alive and the cancer that killed him was invisible.  Twelve years seems like a lifetime ago, and yet it seems like it was only yesterday. Time marches on, and it is not on our side.

Greys Anatomy began its television run 13 years ago and the first Harry Potter novel was released in 1997, twenty-one years ago! Time flies.

In early October 2018 the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change told us that we will surpass a 1.5 C degree rise in temperature from pre-industrial times within twelve years, putting our planet at risk of runaway climate chaos and ourselves and our species at mortal risk. Twelve years flies by.

I hope that in twelve years my children have careers they love,  significant others in their lives who love them as much as I do, and that we all have our health and happiness. But, in twelve years, if we do nothing to control our manmade greenhouse gas emissions, we may be living climate chaos.  Extreme weather events will be regular and reoccurring factors and the problems that these events bring will put our lives on a permanent path of chaos.

The compound problem of climate chaos is edging forward, faster then we thought possible but with clear and direct determination, fueled by us and our distractions. As George R.R. Martin, the author of the Game of Thrones books has confirmed, the threat that “winter is coming” is a parallel to our modern day climate crisis; we are living it and it is here and near.

So what do we do?

  1. As Climate Mamas and Papas we must keep talking about the climate crisis and demanding actions, even as the craziness of the day tries to shut us down. We must remind our friends, our families, our children and our neighbors that we are running out of time and what we do, the companies and organizations we support, and how we vote matters.
  2. Check each of the websites of the people who want your vote this November, or call their offices and see if they have an answer to your question: “What will you do about our climate crisis?” If they don’t have an answer or they haven’t thought about climate change, they probably don’t deserve your vote. If your candidate is already in office, what is their environmental voting record? Let the League of Conservation Voters scorecard help you to find out.
  3. Do you have a pension fund, or investments in mutual funds or stocks? You can and you should talk to your broker, or your pension fund manager about divesting those funds from fossil fuel companies and they’re supporting infrastructure. Sign our petition to call for New Jersey to take a lead nationally and divest it’s pension funds from fossil fuel companies. New York City and New York state are already considering doing this too.
  4. Call on your state government to call for a MORITORIUM on all new fossil fuel infrastructure. This includes pipelines, gas, coal or oil power plants and compressor stations and of course any new drilling or mining of fossil fuels.

We need to “get real” we are out of time and our children are counting on us. Their future and now is in our hands.

Vote for their future and ours. Make it YOUR priority –  we have!

Your,

 

Climate Mama

Posted in Do Something Wednesdays, Earth Day is Every Day, fracking and pipelines, In The News, Take a Stand: Action & Advocacy | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments