Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether our baptism be that of water or of tears!… We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says “Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.” ~Julia Ward Howe, 1870
From her Mother’s Day Proclamation for Peace

 I wasn’t actually aware of the origins of our Mothers Day celebration, until I was  preparing for a Mother’s Day Rally that I was invited to speak at, hosted by Nova Climate. What became clear to me, is the many synergies and connections between the origins of mother’s day and the growing parent climate movement of today.

Here’s a bit of what I learned.  Following the mother day 1870 proclamation by Julia Ward and her call to action, it would be more than 40 years until Mother’s day became an official national day of recognition in the US.  The holiday was established by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914, at the urging of Anna Jarvis  the daughter of  Ann Reeves Jarvis. Both Julia Ward Howe  and Anne Reeves Jarvis, are credited with being the inspirations for this national day of recognition for Mothers. These two women –  mothers and activists –  through the clarity of motherhood and their unwavering love for their children, created a strong and powerful vision of a safe, healthy and secure future for their children – born out of chaos around them. They acted with an urgency of NOW because of the immediate and upcoming dangers facing their children – at that time this was the double threats of the civil war and the revolutionary war. They recognized the importance of peace as necessary to ensure a safe and secure future for their children and for the children of mothers with different beliefs, on the other side of the conflicts at hand.

Fast forward to now,  2021.  I see many similar sentiments as it relates to our climate crisis, expressed by mothers across our country in both Blue and Red states, and around the world in the global south and the global north. Mothers and fathers are calling for climate reality, climate clarity and climate action that will bring about peace and the chance for a livable future for all our children. As parents, with our eyes wide open to the realities of the climate crisis, while we see and feel the impacts of the damages we also see and feel the tangible opportunities that active hope through climate action can bring for our children and for us.

This is intergenerational in scope, it isn’t something we can, nor should try to do alone, nor is it something we can thrust on the shoulders of our children. To paraphrase Julie Ward Howe and her mother’s day proclamation: We mothers – in one country, in one region, in one state –  must join with mothers across the aisle and across the ocean to protect our children and to secure a safe and hopeful future and now for them. We cannot have true and lasting world peace at the same time as living a climate emergency. As mothers we know that around our own country and around the world, many mothers don’t’ feel safe or secure right now. They and their families live on the frontlines of fossil fuel extraction, in the shadow of power plants and in the harsh path of climate impacts. We are seeing this play out not only from our climate emergency but with the COVID global pandemic.  As we tentatively come out of lockdown in the US,  we know mothers across the world are worried and reeling as they and their children still face the hardships and sickness that COVID brings. So, I ask you to give thought to this, and discuss these inequities with your children today on Mothers Day and also to find time regularly to do this as well. We must call for justice for all and remind our children to do so too. Environmental racism, vaccine inequity, climate injustice, these all go hand in hand. And  for many of us, it is our children who keep reminding us of the intersectionality of it all.

Used with Permission: Artist Anita Bagdi

On a final note, we want to bring attention to NOVA Climate’s call for a redefinition of Mothers Day that becomes, in this year and all future years, a day that honors not only our loving, dedicated, and ever-resourceful mamas but also our bountiful Mother Earth.  In support and along side of this call to action, I want to share a wonderful global Mother’s Day action I am proud to be a part of. This is something you and your families can easily join in on too.  In my work with ClimateMama I have the pleasure of being an advisor to the global climate parent coalition, Our Kids Climate. Over the past few months, leading into Mother’s Day, we have come together globally through art activism and a campaign called #ourothermother. Illustrators, children, poets, eco-preneurs, mamas and papas are creating art and sharing their heart visions using the hastag #Ourothermother. This global action is to remind our leaders and ourselves  that Our Other Mother provides for all of us brilliantly, but like many other mamas, she’s seriously exhausted. With Global climate talks,  COP26, scheduled for this November, we want to show our leaders how much we love and care for our planet. So, with the children in your life, I invite you to join this global campaign, this  mothers day and share your #ourothermother far and wide; share it with us so we too can share it – share it with your family, your neighbors, your friends.

With Love,

 

Your Climate Mama, Harriet

 

Heart Mom Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Bouquet illustration by Anita Bagdi 

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Used with Permission: Artist Anita Bagdi

To all our Climate Mamas and Papas, Happy Earth Day! We know that each of you celebrate, protect and hold dear, #ourothermother, planet Earth, each and every day. Today we are thrilled to share with you a special video collage, put together by our friends at Our Kids Climate  The photos in the video (including the one to the left by the amazing Climate Mama, illustrator extraordinaire, Anita Bagdi, are all part of a special campaign linked together by the hashtag #ourothermother.

Many countries celebrate Mother’s Day in May.  Climate Mamas and Papas across the world are joining in to create a truly international moment as we continue to build a movement.

The #ourothermother campaign and the wonderful illustrations in this video were part of an early launch in the United Kingdom, for Mother’s Day which was celebrated on March 14th in the UK. Stay tuned for more information about the campaign but in its very simplest form, we will be sharing illustrations, photos, poems and stories about our OTHER mother, mother earth with the hashtag #ourothermother. Together we will help the campaign go viral and it will serve as one more reminder to all (especially  to our elected and corporate leaders, who can go BIG on climate) that we are watching what they do while we do all we can to protect our other mother as she works overtime to protect us. There is so much at stake. Begin today by having the children in your life create their own #ourothermother masterpiece. 

Thank you for being our support community and for building our active hope that together we can slow down our climate crisis and create a livable future and now for all our children.

With love,

 

Your Climate Mama

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Used with Permission: Big Dreams Little Footprints

One of the most wonderful things that ClimateMama has brought to me, is the connections, new and old, that I have made across the country and around the world. Meeting Climate Mamas and Papas who understand the climate emergency – and in spite of this have chosen creative and innovative ways to tackle the crisis head on, for their children and all of ours –  gives me hope, strength, courage and keep me going. I am thrilled to introduce you to one of these wonderful people,  a new friend from Scotland, Anya – founder of Big Dreams Little Footprints. Anya has created a simple and fun fashion waste (less) campaign, with a powerful message that is now active, #pollutionispants. Read on, as Anya  explains how the campaign works and how you can join in!

Pollution is Pants:

Hi. My name is Anya and I live in Eastern Scotland with my young family. I’m co-organizing a fashion waste campaign called #pollutionispants between 8th and 25th April in the lead up to Fashion Revolution Week. The campaign focuses on celebrating our collective efforts to keep clothes out of the bin when we buy second-hand, wear our family’s clothes, swap items with friends or get creative and upcycle what we already own. It invites you to tells us the stories behind the clothes you wear.

The campaign is an upbeat, positive one. It celebrates our efforts to reduce our fashion footprint by wearing pre-worn clothes, but crucially, aims to encourage us to do more by politicizing what we wear. Reducing your environmental impact may not be your primary motivation for wearing second-hand clothes but knowing that you, along with thousands of others, are having a modest but important impact when you keep clothes in play, is important to spell out. It will hopefully encourage people to take extra special care of what they own – to be guardians rather than owners of their clothes – and to explore the rapidly expanding online second-hand market before they buy brand new.

I’m guessing that most of us have only been wearing about 1% of our wardrobes over the past year and have long forgotten what we actually own! So you might enjoy, as I have, digging out some old favourites for a bit of a dress-up. The only catch – the challenge! – is that the clothes have to have been worn by someone else before you came to own them. I, along with a bunch of friends, family and perfect strangers have been posting selfies of our favourite preloved clothes since last Thursday and it’s opened up wonderful conversations, across the world, about attitudes towards second-hand clothes.

My line of work is how to raise children to consume wisely; to tackle ‘shifting baseline syndrome’ head on. To get kids on board the ‘lesson’ has to be fun else it won’t be effective. This campaign has proven an effective tool in starting conversations with children about keeping clothes out of the bin because you’re talking about putting underpants on your head! I knew I was onto a winner because it was my 6-year-old who came up with the idea in the first place. She did an entire ‘fashion show’ wearing only my underpants – on her head, around her neck, as backless ‘tops’ and makeshift skirts. I thought – why do kids get to have all the fun?

And of course if you spend less when you wear second-hand, you have more money in your pocket to buy better when you do buy brand new. It’s so important that we raise the next generation to be informed consumers, where wearing second-hand and buying better is the default.

Please join the campaign between now and 25th April. We’d love to see you there – Pollution is Pants — Big dreams, little footprints

Anya Hart Dyke is author of ‘Our throwaway society – raising children to consume wisely’ (2020).

PS: Your favorite ClimateMama has joined the craz…#pollutionispants…wearing fun dress that belonged to my daugHter. xoxo

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March 8th is International Women’s Day and is observed as a national holiday in many countries. I want to take a few minutes now to share with you some of the reasons why this DAY of observance means a lot to me – personally and in particular this year. I want to share some of my thoughts on why I feel that women and girls – through intergenerational collaboration and cooperation – are central to creating a culture that will make, create and facilitate policies and action to successfully slow down our climate emergency and build a livable future, where we and our families will not only survive but thrive.

First though, a little background that you can share with the kids in your life on International Women’s Day. The day was first “established” in the early 1900’s as an opportunity to unite women in the campaign for women’s rights to work, vote, and be trained, to hold public office and to end discrimination. For so many reasons, I feel that we must continue to mark this important day  and to acknowledge and celebrate women. Each year, there is a different theme chosen and this year the campaign theme for International Women’s Day 2021 is ‘Choose To Challenge. “A challenged world is an alert world. And from challenge comes change. So let’s all #ChooseToChallenge.”  If you are able to and interested in joining along on this hashtag, consider taking a picture of yourself or you and your children; raise your hand high to show you’re in. Share on social media using #ChooseToChallenge #IWD2021.

In my own, adopted country of the United States of America, we have broken through a seemingly, impenetrable glass ceiling. This year, we celebrate having a woman Vice President, Kamala Harris, “one beat” away from the oval office. VP Harris, as a woman of color,  carries on her shoulders and through her life experiences – many, many firsts. Her long and storied career, which now places her in the White House, will help  young girls and boys around the country (and the world) be able to see endless possibilities for themselves and for others.  What a difference a year makes! Up until now, we have never had a woman Vice President, and we have  only once had a woman from one of  the two national parties, on the national ballot for President of the USA. It seems pretty clear that this woman – Hillary Rodham Clinton – although highly qualified, was never given a fair chance. Maybe now – moving forward – seeing a woman on the ballot for President and sooner than later successfully filling that office, will no longer be an anomaly but an expected and anticipated reality.

Unfortunately, in too many countries, including the United States,  women  continue not to be paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and in the US and around the world, women’s access to education and health care are not guaranteed nor equal.

This past year, 2020, as we all lived and we continue to live the COVID 19 crisis, women, quietly as well as forcefully have taken center stage. Our underpinning role as frontline health care workers, nurses, store clerks, mothers, caregivers, doctors and first responders is clear and visible to all. What may not be as visible or as talked about is the mental health impacts, the increase in gender violence and the broad stresses, economic inequities and added burdens that COVID 19 crisis has placed, disproportionately, on women in the roles listed above as well as in every role women occupy in society.

Today, I see and feel a light being shown more directly on women, and a real and growing women’s movement demanding change. A movement built on the difficult and mounting challenges that climate change, corporate power, ineffective government and greed are placing on us and our planet is growing and being driven in large part by young women. While this movement is not yet clearly or singularly defined, it is taking shape in many informal and formal places. The movement is and must be, by its nature, intergenerational. The foundations for this movement go back decades but it seems that currently, it is  one that is being powered forcefully by youth leaders, demanding that intersectionality be central to the discussion around and about broad solutions.

In 2020 the COVID pandemic brought into the harsh light of reality the collision and intersection of racism, poverty and inequity.  Moving forward, as we pull out from under the weight of our COVID crisis, we can and we must connect all of these dots to the ongoing threat multiplier of our climate crisis.

This growing women’s movement  is built upon the belief in a bright future for ALL our children.  With the Sustainable Development Goals to guide us, a future and now based on energy justice, access to abundant healthy food, clean air, potable water and social justice for ourselves, our families and for the world community is a reality we all can envision and strive for. Every day I feel excited, exhilarated, passionate and scared. I am part of this movement and I strongly believe that women will be the change agents we need to move us forward successfully.

As we all struggle with the weight that the COVID 19 crisis still holds over us, I feel hopeful that we are finding ways to tame it.  I remind myself, and suggest to you to take time for YOU this week. When you do, also take time to think about and celebrate (loudly or quietly) the women who are important in your life; women who are related, living, friends and even women who you may admire from afar. Remind the youth in your life and explain to them that women’s rights, equity  and equality are not a given in many, many countries, and in many communities and families, even ones that may be just “down the street.”

There are so many women who I could list here, who have inspired me, held me when I was sad, and encouraged me when I felt like giving up. I am celebrating them deeply and feel them in my heart and my soul. I feel so very fortunate to have amazing women who build up my active hope every day and who constantly demonstrate to me that women are making a real and positive difference – leading in the struggles – quietly and loudly – against our climate emergency at the same time as they build positive energy and solutions as they showcase opportunities for us all.

As I shared in my recent book,  “How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change, Turning Angst into Action” we can and must show our children – girls and boys – that leading with their passions will lead to climate solutions.  Our complicated world has put a myriad of opportunities in front of us all and once our eyes are opened, we can’t close them to the realities we face. We can choose to hide our heads in the sand, but that gets none of us, anywhere. Or we can use our passions to create the change we envision and we want. We and our children, are the change we are have been waiting for – so wait no longer!

Yours,

Climate Mama

A similar version of this note was written in 2020, and 2013, more than 8 years ago – things change and yet so much stays the same. I hope that  8 years from now, through the rise and power of so many amazing women, we will have become a true unstoppable force, one that moves us farther and faster; as fast as our mother earth is demanding we move.

Future leader photo: Kiana Bosman, Unsplash

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In our journey to help parents, caregivers and teachers listen and speak with children about the climate crisis, we have been thrilled to learn about some new and wonderful children’s books that help us do so. In a recent post, we share some of our new favorites from 2020 and we will be doing another update soon,  in the lead up to Earth Day. In the meantime, we are thrilled to share this new book and it’s accompanying coloring & activity book, Si’ahl and the Council of Animals co authored by Climate Mama extraordinary, Margie Muenzer and Margie’s sister Jane Reis. Margie is a Climate Reality leader, educator and author and in the post below, she shares with us her story about how the book came to be. We are pleased to share Margie’s story with you!

 

 

The Story that Wanted to be Told

by Margie Muenzer

My twin sister Jane and I co-wrote the children’s book Si’ahl and the Council of Animals to start conversations in families about our changing climate.  It all started in early January 2020, when I was visiting Jane in her home in Seattle, WA, having traveled there from my home in Chapel Hill, NC.  We both had been active in climate work, Jane in transitioning to regenerative farming principles at her farm, First Light Farm, and me as an avid outdoors enthusiast and trained Climate Reality Project leader.

Towards the end of my visit, Jane shared with me a remarkable event.  She had been meditating, a daily practice for her.  As she explained it to me, she clearly saw, from start to finish, a children’s story told in animal voices, how climate change was making their (the animals) lives harder, how they reached out to humans who live nearby for help, and how they observed these humans begin to change their actions in response.  This children’s story, she said, would be a way that we could help families face climate change in a positive way, by working together towards improving conditions for all living things.

After telling me all of this, she then said, “and you are going to write it”.  I didn’t take this very seriously, but later, on the five hour plane ride back to North Carolina, I thought I might just make some notes.  To my surprise, the story easily flowed onto the pages of my notebook and I had a rough draft of the first five chapters crafted before the plane touched down in Raleigh. Though I was the main writer, Jane and I collaborated closely about the storyline and its message in the months that followed.

Jane was very clear that it was important to make the animals the storytellers.  This, she said, was the way to speak directly to children’s hearts.  We both have wonderful memories of our mother reading us many of Thornton Burgess’ books, written in the early 1900s, with delightful animal characters who engage in all sorts of adventures, including a good deal of mischief.  That the animals were the storytellers made a lasting impression and is carried into our book.  Jane and I felt that having parents and children talk together about our animal story would be a compelling way to introduce the effects of climate change without provoking anxiety.  The collaboration of the humans and animals in the story would model effective changes for families, motivated by the children’s rightful concern for their friends, the animals.

We set our story somewhere in the Pacific Northwest and, for our main character, chose the name Si’ahl, to honor the wisdom and teachings of Chief Si’ahl (better known to many as Chief Seattle), who led the Duwamish and Suquamish tribes in the early days of colonization of the northwest. Si’ahl & Friends Coloring and Activity Book was created as a companion to our original story, inspired by the intricate drawings of our illustrator, Andrea Hiotis. This second book provides children an opportunity to enjoy coloring the different illustrations, but also to explore with their friends or families learning activities about animal habitats and behaviors, the importance of trees, energy usage and more.

To further engage families, we have a website blog, Climate Busters’ Corner, challenging our young readers to participate in a variety of different activities in their homes and communities.  On our social media sites, we highlight other Climate Busters–people working to make our planet healthy again.  By showing children different ways of doing things, things that can be interesting and fun like learning about the plants and animals in their communities or making an adventure of avoiding plastic at the grocery store, authors, parents and teachers alike are helping them develop good eco-habits for a lifetime.

Margie Muenzer is a retired pediatric physical therapist, wife, mother and grandmother who is keeping busy in retirement learning more about the indigenous value of reciprocity with nature and the possibility of an ecocentric rather than egocentric view of the world.

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In the fall of 2011, my family went to Washington DC. Similar to many families visiting our nations capital, we toured many of the memorials and historical sights including the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial which had just opened in DC earlier that summer, in August, 2011.  We were in Washington, as a family, not only to visit our nations capital, but to join a peaceful protest that was going to “circle the White House” to help convince then President Obama, that he should stop construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. This  proposed oil pipeline was to begin in my home province of Alberta and travel through the US to refineries in the southern US where the oil traveling through it would ultimately be exported to markets around the world. I had visited DC earlier that summer, also with my children, with the purpose of coming to DC to be arrested, to protest this same pipeline (my children would not accompany me at this event) Those stories which you can read about in older blog posts, require more time and space, but I raise them now, for some of the following reasons.

My family, as others from across the country, were called to DC by our convictions and desires to express our concerns and hopes to our elected leaders – freely and publicly and without fear. Americans have been doing this  for decades. The expressed purpose of  our protests and many other public protest events I have been involved with, have followed and adhered to Dr. King’s teachings of peaceful, non-violent protest. For me, there is nothing more empowering and emblematic of democracy as practiced in the United States, than being able to be in our nation’s capital, expressing ones views, beliefs hopes and opportunities – and taking our children with us to see democracy in action.

What happened on January 6th, 2021 is the exact opposite of democracy in action. That day was and will remain a sad and disturbing day, one already forever etched in our nation’s history. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and every day, we must fight for the freedoms our nation stands for.  We are forever a work in progress; democracy is not static, it is always fragile, and “under construction,” by it’s very nature. We can learn from our mistakes and our wrong turns and teach our children, by our examples as we strive for justice, truth, equity, equality and peace – where every person is valued, regardless of the color of their skin, their race or religion.

As Dr. King so eloquently stated: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

It is comforting and also telling that another quote from Dr. King about the moral arc of history bending towards justice also is expected to bear out, when one of the first things President Biden has said he will do, is to stop construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, yet again. Let’s hope it’s for the last time. Without peaceful protests and the voice of the people, this pipeline may well have been built almost 10 years ago, and would have been in operation. Instead, it remains a symbol of hope and of perseverance.

Yours,

ClimateMama

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What do the tragic, maddening, inexplicable and at the same time clearly understandable events that transpired on January 6th at the US Capitol have to do with the climate crisis? EVERYTHING.

The following expert is taken directly from my 2020 book, “How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change, Turning Angst into Action”.

VOTE, VOTE, VOTE (pp 133-137)

Whenever you have the opportunity to vote in an election, on any issue and however insignificant it may seem, do so. Voting and by extension participatory democracies are usually hard fought for and hard earned. We must cherish, foster and protect both. Throughout history, wars have been won and lost, and countless lives have been sacrificed in pursuit of the right to vote and for free and open democracies. Currently, it surely seems that our democracy in the United States is being stretched and bent, perhaps to its limit? We must not allow it to be broken. As we face more and more challenges from our climate crisis, our democratic systems around the world will be threatened to their core.  Understanding this we must be on guard. We need to do what we can to ensure and encourage thoughtful candidates who have clearly defined climate action plans to run for office at every level of government. And, we can and must work on getting people of all ages and from every neighborhood to vote in every election. As voters we must do to our homework, and make sure that the candidate we choose has a ready to implement and well developed climate action plan.

When casting your vote, do so with the intent to show your children, your country and the world that you completely and utterly repudiate hate and lies; and that you stand up for science and for the truth. There is no room for complacency, and no time to prop up elected officials who do not take the crisis at hand with the urgency of action that is required. It is often hard to measure the deliberate and singularly focused act of voting –  with the urgency of our times. But you must remain conscious of the importance of each and every vote, even if it seems like only one small step. Do not allow yourself to  be stuck, frozen, or paralyzed, or to feel so much disappointment or disgust with the system and those running it, that you do not vote. Remind your children of this as well. They may seem young, and far away from voting age, but the importance of casting a vote is developed at an early age. Since the beginning of the 21st century, young people are no longer voting in high numbers; neither in the United States nor in many other countries around the world. This must change; their future and now requires it.

Consider running for office and encourage those that you think would be good leaders to do so too. Remind your children that when they are grown, they may want to run for elected office as well. Gandhi’s words ring loudly: “be the change.” Each level of government – local, regional, state and national –  has a role to play in creating the polices, rules and regulations that can help us respond to our climate crisis. At the same time, if people who dismiss or deny the urgency of our crisis run for office and win, they can slow things down to a point where our future can and will be catastrophic. By voting, and by supporting people who are willing and able to take hard decisions based on a clear understanding of science – hope and change can find footings to not only survive but to thrive. There are no sure answers, but if we envision  a system that can and will react to the harsh and difficult realities we face, we can create it, nurture it and watch it grow.

_______________________ 

On January 6th, 2021 extraordinary things happened; they were predicted but not, in hindsight, surprising.

  1. US democracy was bent, ALMOST to the breaking point.
  2. Also extraordinary, but in hindsight, not surprising, two democratic senators in Georgia were elected in a run-off election – in large part because of YOUNG people, people of color and people all across Georgia, who refused to sit out this election because they cared, they demanded their voices be heard and they recognized the importance, not just for Georgia, but for the entire country that hate and lies MUST be repudiated. They put their trust in the democratic process, and ensured it succeeded and that it worked.

This moment in US history was years in the making. We will be speaking about it and learning about it for years to come. From the ashes, new beginnings and renewed active hope  rises.

Remind yourself and your children of our ClimateMama motto:

  1. Tell the Truth
  2. Actions speak louder than words
  3. Don’t be afraid.

We are entering a period of great transformation in our country and around the world. Systemic change will and must be the driver in slowing down our climate crisis. We have reached the edge of the cliff, figuratively and literally. It  remains up to us to step back and to demand new beginnings; one where together we rebuild trust in our systems and a livable future where our children will not only survive, but where they can thrive.

Yours,

 

Climate Mama

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What a year it has been, one with far too many lows, but incredibly, one with some highlights and silver linings too. This post shares some of our newly found and treasured climate and environmental books from the past year.

For the holidays and for the near future, if we are fortunate enough to be surrounded by loved ones, in almost all instances these gatherings are and will be virtual rather than in person. This is a unique holiday season, in a unique year, that we will always remember. 2020 is already infamous; a global experience etched forever in our individual and collective memories. This year too, even our youngest children will carry memories forward, as we retell the stories of how we built resiliency through our shared concern and by our care and caring for one another.  As Climate Mamas and Papas, we can already envision many ways that – from the darkness of this time – there will be takeaways and learning opportunities that will refresh and renew our commitment to address the climate crisis.

As a way of  building and growing our knowledge and finding new paths that move us forward, we have created our: Top 10 list of climate and environment books, for both adults and children. All these books have had releases (or re-releases) in the past year and all of these books have been recommended and shared by our Climate Mama and Papa community across the country and around the world. Consider these books, as you think about thoughtful gifts to share both during the holidays, and in the coming year.

Children Book Titles:  (In no particular order):

Writers on Earth, New Visions for our Planet (for tweens and teens); Young Voices Across the Globe Series, 2019

A collection of reflections, essays, stories and poems written by young writers (13-19) from across the globe. In the face of our climate emergency, these writers find beauty all around them.

 

 

 

What the World Needs Now: Trees (4-8 years) Cheryl Rosebush, 2020

A wonderfully crafted and illustrated story that parents, caregivers and teachers can share with our youngest children to help them understand what we have, what is at stake and how each of us can help. This is the first book in the What the World Needs Now series; we are looking forward to the other books, which are coming soon.

 

Under the Kapok Tree 30th Anniversary Edition 

Lynne Cherry, Reprint 2020

30 years later the Great Kapok Tree is as relevant and accessible as it was when it was first released. A book found in schools and libraries across the globe, Lynne Cherry journeyed deep into the rain forests of Brazil to write and illustrate this gorgeous picture book. When a man exhausts himself trying to chop down a giant kapok tree,  the forest’s residents, including a child from the Yanomamo tribe, whisper in his ear while he sleeps, about the importance of trees and how “all living things depend on one another” . . ..

 

Saving Planet Earthly (4-8 years) Climate Science 2020

The first in a series of free downloads, this story unfolds in Johannesburg, South Africa, following Earthly and her friend to the doctor’s office where they discover that Earthly is sick with climate change! The book explains climate change in a way that is easy to understand, and encourages children to become more environmentally friendly. Looking forward to the other books in the series, which are coming soon.

James the Steward (4-8) Maria Auma Horne, Herbert Murungi, 2020

Set in Uganda, the book tells the story of James and Sarah who, after experiencing an environmental disaster, begin to explore  the relationship between environmental degradation and climate change. The duo begins a journey of transforming fellow children to be nature and climate conscious.

Adult Book Titles:

Facing the Climate Emergency, Margaret Klein Salamon, 2020

Salamon gives people the tools to confront the climate emergency, face their negative emotions, and channel them into protecting humanity and the natural world.

The Future We Choose, Surviving the Climate Crisis, Christina Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac, 2020

Written by the two leaders who led the negotiations for the United Nations during the historic Paris Agreement of 2015–comes a cautionary but optimistic book about the world’s changing climate and the fate of humanity. The authors outline two possible scenarios for our planet.

Climate Crisis and Corrupt Politics, Larry J Schweiger, 2019

This book is an urgent message aimed at parents and grandparents who care about their children forced to live on the edge of an unprecedented climate crisis. This book is also for young leaders who understand that we must act now. Together, we must confront and overcome the many toxic money influences, reverse a failing democracy and retake the reins of government to enact policies that secure our shared future and the future of life on earth.

Emotional Inflammation, Lise Van Sustren & Stacey Colino, 2020

A rising number of people today are troubled by a phenomenon for which they don’t know there’s a name. This condition is called emotional inflammation―a state not unlike post-traumatic stress disorder, but one that stems from simply living in today’s anxious, overwhelming, and tumultuous world. This book presents a breakthrough guide to help ground us and become more resilient in these turbulent times.

How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change, Turning Angst into Action, Harriet Shugarman, 2020

With catastrophic global warming already baked into the climate system, today’s children face a future entirely unlike that of their parents. Yet how can we maintain hope and make a difference in the face of overwhelming evidence of the climate crisis? Help is at hand. This book provides tools and strategies for parents to explain the climate emergency to their children and galvanize positive action.

 

***Please note that while we have provided Amazon links for each book, most of these titles are available at your local independent bookstore. Please join us in supporting your local businesses all year around, including independent bookstores.

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As I explained 5 years ago: The final Paris agreement was carefully worded and crafted, it laid out hopes for what we should do, it apologizes for what we haven’t done, but what it didn’t do, was lay out a clear path on how we will get to where we need to go. 

Five years ago I was not in Paris for the United Nations Conference of the Parties,  the UN meeting that  signed off on what now is broadly known as the “Paris Climate Agreement.”  Over the years, I have attended my share of UN Conferences and events around the world. Five years ago, similar to today,  my job was and it remains to report on what is happening, to be in real time with colleagues and friends on the ground as we  share and explain the giant leaps and the small steps, as they impact us as a world community as well as how Climate negotiations and agreements are being received, perceived and acted upon in the United States. Today, while the UN is meeting virtually  on this 5th Anniversary, as an expert witness my job remains to help us tell the story of our climate emergency, to pull back the curtain and share clearly where we are, where we should be, and what is ahead. Our Climate Mama motto continues to guide me: “Tell the Truth, Actions Speak Louder Than Words, Don’t be Afraid.” 

For those of us closely involved and following along, the success of the Paris Agreement – for better and for worse –  was not the creation of one unified concrete plan. Rather what was created was an open blueprint that could be adjusted and adapted for each country. The overarching acknowledgement by the world community was that we, as a global community, are now living a collective emergency. Sound familiar? Five years later, we are living with and figuring out how to manage through a global pandemic – it is raw, immediate, real and dangerous. Yes, COVID19 is this and more, but so too is the often silent, sometimes visible and always relentless multi-prong attack from the climate crisis – a global emergency that will continue for the rest of our lives. As with many things that are a constant assault, we often become numb to the realities we face.

Five year anniversaries, as a marker of the passage of our lives, are moments to stop and reflect. This year, countries were to come to the UN Conference of the Parties meeting in Glasgow, Scotland, and bring their country plan – their Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) –  that detailed their own climate resiliency, adaptation and mitigation plans. The UN is meeting today – virtually – to see what progress has been made and where we stand as a global community. We are a community made up of individual countries – some in our community are taking action and moving forward, others are not. As a world community, we are at best treading water, and at worst, heading backwards. Does this sound in some ways similar to the what we see, playing out, across the US as reactions and action by individual states to addressing the COVID19 crisis? Or for that matter how various countries around the world are or are not taking action to address our global health crisis? Even as we are on the cusp of the “silver bullet” with vaccines, so much suffering could be lessened, if we took simple, straightforward actions like wearing masks and social distancing. There will be no vaccine for the climate crisis, we can’t hope for one, plan for one, nor expect one. So we must prepare and get comfortable with the uncomfortable reality of the life long journey of constantly working to slow down our climate crisis, with the important recognition of its reality as an emergency, always at the forefront.

ClimateMama, as part of the global parent climate community,  serves as a witness of where we are at and where we must go. As parents, we take the moral high ground on behalf of our children, as we join in raising our voices around the world demanding our governments and all leaders, fight to #MakeParisReal and #FightFor1Point5. We are witnesses to our own inaction and the precarious future and now that our children are living in and will inherit. The climate crisis  is inextricably linked to racism, to our global health crisis and it acts insidiously as a threat multiplier, making everything we face worse.

As the final days of 2020 come to a close, we also stand witness to what will, I believe, be the beginning of a world transition – the inflection point and moment when we begin, in earnest to enact the “great turning, that will be built on active hope” which Joanna Macy has spoken about for years. This 5th Anniversary of the Paris Agreement will serve as the  “marker in time” of this moment of change – I firmly believe this, but only through the passage of time, will we know for sure. Because of so many factors, we can never go back to what was pre-COVID, nor should we want to, that path was only leading to a cliff. Instead, with our eyes wide open, we can leap forward to a new world. We must remind ourselves of the broad goals we set in 2015, at Paris, and 5 years from now, truly celebrate the incredible, difficult and necessary actions we will and are taking to make our climate crisis something we and our children can live through and with – a world where we can and will thrive, not just survive.

What can you do? Beyond being witnesses, join us in support of our children, by signing on to the Fridays For Future “Promise to Fight for 1 point 5”  

Sharing love and ACTIVE hope on this the 5th Anniversary of the Paris Agreement.

Your Climate Mama

Below, for reflection and as a reminder,  is the post I wrote, 5 years ago – as the Paris Agreement was reached. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. We must hold temperatures “WELL BELOW 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees.” The world will likely reach 1 degree C above pre-industrial levels in 2016. Ice caps are already melting, sea levels are rising, and havoc is having a “hey day” messing with our planet and us, as extreme weather events “rue the day.”

2. Much of the world’s remaining reserves of fossil fuels must stay in the ground and can’t be burned. Those who see the “glass half full” see this as a clear signal to fossil fuel companies, investors and financiers, that the age of fossil fuels is over. Those who see the “glass half empty” see this as a warning, but with no clear plan how to move decisively to renewable energy in adequate time to stave off the worst climate impacts.

3. Countries will review their intended nationally determined contributions (their country climate plans) every 5 years, with new and stronger greenhouse gas reduction targets. Our job will be to hold government’s “feet to the fire” plans must be far reaching and much stronger then they are now.

4. Significant and consistent financing must be mobilized, from government and private sources, to help developing countries move to renewable energy now. This remains a critical yet a perennial problem. The financial requirements to implement climate plans and effective solutions in both developing countries and at home, are not being met. This also remains a clear justice issue that calls for moral and ethical acknowledgment and action.

5. “Loss and damage.” This phrase was used for the first time in the official UN text to acknowledge that many countries, particularly small island developing countries, are facing huge and devastating consequences from climate change now, even though they have done little to nothing to contribute to the causes of climate change. The expectation is that those responsible for these devastating damages (the big polluters – USA, China etc) should and must pay.

The critical take away from Paris is the collective acknowledgement that global warming is not only here and now, but that it threatens humanity’s very existence. All countries have acknowledged this, with at least “tacit agreement.” What is also critical, and what must not be left out, is that when we add up all the commitments from all current country climate plans, we don’t go far enough, nor fast enough to stave off the worst impacts of climate change.

 

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Turkey, stuffing and all the fixings? How are YOU feeling this Thanksgiving?  As I woke up to begin the day with my daughter and husband I felt a great ache, missing my son and extended family and friends who are regularly a part of this special day. My first thought was not to celebrate. But celebrate we must, at least that is my choice and my decision for today. I am thankful for so much even as we collectively live this unique, stressful, exhausting and immensely sad year that 2020 has been and will be remembered for, forever.

This Thanksgiving Day feels like a crossroads to me. Which way will we go? Partial lock downs vs  personal freedoms, masks vs no masks, in-person family celebrations vs zoom cocktails and virtual turkeys, the economy vs public health. I have lived these kinds of contradictions and tug of wars in my day job – not only for the past year, but for the past decade and longer. As an educator, author and activist on our climate emergency, I am fully familiar with sayings like: “it’s the economy or.. ” and “the science isn’t settled.” My colleagues and I are dumfounded. We know the science on how to slow down our climate crisis is clear –  through peer reviewed studies and multiple scientific paths, climate scientists are bringing us their reports, studies and data, whether we want them or not. Now, the same is happening with the scientists studying COVID19. The science, in particular on how to slow this health emergency down and protect ourselves, is evident and clear.

Yet in our divided country – because of the news we choose, our families and friends, or the neighborhoods which become the echo chambers we live in –  the science and the facts of our climate crisis and our health emergency, remain muddied, and purposefully unclear.  Once you are on one of these one way conveyor belts, it’s difficult to get off or to try to travel in a different direction.  When it comes to our climate crisis, the longer we don’t begin to slow things down, the more harm there will be –  to our health ,our future, and yes – to our economy. We can only look away for so long before Mother Nature forces our eyes to come back into focus. She is meticulously touching each of us or someone we love, directly.  We are living our future now. Yet, as a country, for the most part, we still want to shut our eyes. It feels easier, even in the moment,  to  rest, to look away. Similarly, with COVID19, if we pretend it isn’t so bad, or that the science isn’t settled, we can close our eyes and forget. Yet, as we close our eyes to the facts, so many are suffering.

My husband is an oncologist. The cancer center where he works has stayed open every single day during the COVID19 pandemic. He and his colleagues are trying so hard to ensure that their patients, who are among the most vulnerable, remain as safe as they possibly can, so that they can continue to see their doctors and get treated; because they must. This past spring, the hospital set up an emergency COVID ward in the staff cafeteria. Many staff members were sick, some died, and most were and remain highly stressed. They, like my husband, continue to worry about their patients, themselves and their families. In our home in the spring, my husband would change his clothes before he entered; his clothes would be washed that day – as if we could wash away the sickness that surround him and all of us. We would say hello when we greeted one another, but we would not kiss or hug as we had done every day, for more than 20 years. My husband felt he was protecting me – and in a warped way, I felt protected too.  We still lived in the same house, ate together, slept in the same room, yet we created an artificial barrier. We now kiss and hug when we greet one another, and he doesn’t automatically change out of the clothes he wore to work. But, with COVID infections rising across the country and our region, I wonder what new hoops we will set for ourselves, as fresh rules are set in our city, in my husband’s place of work,  and in all of our lives. We can be as careful as we can, and things still happen.

No matter what turns our lives take, it is important to point out to our children and to remind ourselves that science matters, telling the truth matters, even if it’s painful. And by not telling the truth we are all suffering in innumerable direct and indirect ways. It’s past time that we demand that our elected leaders, our family members, our colleagues and our friends listen, hear and act on science  – there is too much at stake not to.

A heartfelt and personal note of thanks, from me, to all our Climate Mamas and Papas. I am so thankful for each one of you in our ClimateMama community, for keeping my climate hope, alive and growing.

Be well this Thanksgiving season.  Hold your family close,  even if that means you are holding them from a distance on a zoom call, or feeling your love for them in your heart rather than in your arms. There will be time when we are physically together again, and we will remember this time and make that time more precious.

Your Climate Mama,

 

Harriet

 

Photo Credit: Graffiti Thanks, Samuel Regan-Asante, Unsplash

Photo Credit: In this House, Robin Jonathan Deutsch, Unsplash

Photo Credit: Crossroads,  Justin Luebke on Unsplash

 

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