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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for me, it’s my kids…

I had the opportunity to share my story on PBS American Portraits recently…just a clip, a short story, based on a prompt..“What Gets You out of Bed Every Morning?”

My short answer: “My kids…”  I imagine for many of our Climate Mamas and Papas it’s the same answer too.  So, at this difficult, emotional and unsettled time, I want to thank each of you, for continuing to join me, as we each make the choice to get out of bed every morning, and fight the good fight…together creating a more hopeful today and tomorrow for all our children.

With love,

Your Climate Mama, Harriet

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On this historic day, November 3, 2020, I reflect, hold my breath and also breath with confidence –  believing with all my heart that America will do right by our children, our planet and ourselves.

To help pass this day, I share with you some excerpts from my book, “How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change, Turning Angst into Action.” The book was released by New Society Publishers in May 2020, and finalized in early January. Rereading what I wrote brings me comfort and also helps remind me that we move forward in giant leaps, and one step at a time. I hope it brings you comfort too.

With love,

Your Climate Mama, Harriet

When casting your vote, do so with the intent of showing 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 connect 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 in the United States and in many other countries around the world. This must change; the present and future requires it.

I have come to the realization and acceptance—through life experience, through the passage of time, and through the joys of birth and the sorrows of death—that our lives truly are fleeting. This fact remains both vividly transparent and at the same time deeply hidden to most of us. Knowing and understanding that, in reality, our walk on this planet is but a blink of an eye makes it doubly hard to accept and acknowledge that we are living in and have helped create, the Anthropocene. We are now at a point where those of us alive today, at the start of the 21st century, have the ability in very real and concrete ways to impact the future existence of our entire species and of many other species alive today. This fact is truly mind blowing; it is weighty and complicated and also incredibly challenging and burdensome to get our arms and minds around. Yet, we must.

One of my primary goals in writing this book is my enduring hope that it will fortify and strengthen your hopes and your resolve. Our shared belief in a positive future, coupled with constant and forward motion will sustain us as we build a livable present and future for our children and for us. We must trust in one another, in our indomitable will to preserve our species as we claim our survival. We must be open to and accept that transformations will happen. Changes will occur—changes that we currently may not yet be able to truly visualize. We must trust in these changes; they are required.

We must also visualize the future we want. Confident and optimistic that by helping this future unfold we will ensure that our children can and will live their fullest lives We must approach this with exuberance and with active, intrinsic, and radical hope, as well as with positive and directed purpose actualized through our actions and our voices.  As 15 year old Autumn Peltier told the United Nations in September 2019: “One day I will be an ancestor and I want my descendants to know I used my voice so that they could have a future.” 

For those of us 18 years and older, who have the right to vote in the USA, join me as we reaffirm for Autumn Peltier, and all of those too young to vote, that we are using our VOTE for them, for their future and their now. 

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Ted Glick, Trenton, NJ 14 day fast 2018

I have known Ted Glick for almost 10 years now. Not only is Ted a colleague – but a friend. Ted is fierce, he is committed to the causes he believes. Through many climate events and actions that I have witnessed over the years – both national and local,  I feel that Ted is regularly selfless. I have learned so much from Ted. He has shown me how someone can truly put the greater good of humanity before themselves. Ted embodies our ClimateMama motto: Tell the truth, Actions speak louder than words, Don’t be Afraid.

Today, I am worried about Ted’s health and his future. As I write this on October 26th, Ted has been on a water-only fast for 24 days.

Below are excerpts from an article Ted wrote on October 24, 2020 about his current fast. Ted’s article in its entirety can be read here. 

Water-Only for 22 Days to Defeat Trump

By Ted Glick

When I began my water-only Fast to Defeat Trump on October 3, I had some idea about how I was going to feel as it progressed. I have done long water-only fasts before, though the last time, on the issue of the climate crisis, was 13 years ago when I was 58 years old. On this one I’m 71. And though I’m a regular long-distance bicyclist and exercise guy, that’s getting up there in years, I know.

This one has been harder than the one in 2007. I remember during that one being pretty active as late as the 22nd or 23rd days. Not this time. I have been weak since day two, the primary symptom I’ve had all throughout. This morning I woke up after a good night’s sleep and found it difficult to get going, with the most weakness since I stopped eating.

But the most important thing about my hunger strike is not how I’m feeling but whether or not there is evidence that it is having its desired result. What is that? It’s the motivation of other people who might not otherwise to vote for the removal of Trump by voting for Biden, and to get involved in the organized efforts by a number of groups to turn out the majority of the American population that opposes Trump.

Like many other commentators, I consider this election to be one of it not the most consequential elections in decades. There’s the issue of democracy and if we’ll still have it if Trump is elected. There’s the issue of Trump’s open egging on and support of violent, white supremacist groups. There’s his total walking away from giving leadership in the fight against COVID-19. There’s his misogyny and ant-lgbt history. There’s his explicit policies of shoveling even more money and power to his fellow oligarchs and the rich. But the ultimate most important one for me is his overt denial of the climate emergency we are in and his repeated moves to prop up a faltering fossil fuel industry.

The way I see it, when the future of life on earth is very literally at stake with this election, it’s more than appropriate for actions that may seem extreme if those actions can have an impact. With every fiber of my being, I pray, and believe, that this action is doing that.

Ted Glick is the author of the recently-published “Burglar for Peace: Lessons Learned in the Catholic Left’s Resistance to the Vietnam War.” More information about Ted can be found at https://tedglick.com  and on Twitter 

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Traditionally, the United Nations General Assembly begins the third Tuesday in September. Having worked for years at the United Nations, I remember the excitement, the anticipation and the hope. This year, with a global health pandemic pulsating throughout the world, the start of the General Assembly seems somehow, less relevant. However, in many ways it couldn’t be more relevant. This year is the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations. An important milestone to mark, to note and to celebrate.

As COVID has shown us, local and regional solutions to global problems, and even individual actions – like mask wearing – can help create solutions and slow down existing and impending crises. We must do the same with the climate crisis – everything we can at every level of action that we can be involved with; from working with our families on how we use energy and what  foods we eat,  to taking actions that have national implications, like voting. However, ultimately and in addition, we know that we must have systemic change and we will  need governments around the world to share ideas, best practices and take action together and apart – therefore the United Nations has and will continue to have, an important role to play. We look forward to celebrating 75 years of the United Nations in 2020 and many more years to come.

In addition to September being the start of the United Nations General Assembly – NYC, where the UN is headquartered –  has also become home to a September  “Climate Week”.  Through this program, events around climate solutions are discussed, devised and debated. This year, with so many things online because of COVID, you don’t need to be in New York City to participate. Check out some of the amazing listing from the Climate Group and use your search engine to search for more @ climate week events.

I have the honor and the privilege of speaking at many events this week around my new book, “How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change, Turning Angst into Action” and more broadly about many of the issues angst raises but that action  helps move forward. Find out where YOUR favorite climate mama is at the author page on our site. Almost all of these upcoming events are free and open to the public.

I am thrilled to be sharing my message of active hope and climate action across the country and around the world. I would love to come and speak to your group, organization, house of worship or company. Be in touch at info@climatemama.com. as days are booking up fast!

 

Your Climate Mama,

 

Harriet

P.S. Through September 22nd, New Society Publishers is offering 40% off of ALL their publications, including How To Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change, Turning Angst into Action. You will find many wonderful titles and subjects at New Society, a publisher who really walks the walk on sustainability. Use code CELEBRATE at check out! 

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When you write a book (like I did recently), you always wonder if others are reading it and if so, was it helpful to them; did they like it? Even when YOU know it provides really useful information (If I do say so myself 🙂 because you know it has the facts, the details and the advice that people have been asking you for –  for many, many years.) So, I was touched and so very pleased to get a note from UK mom Rachael Angela about her experience with my book. In fact, Rachel shared a whole blog post she had written about it that included ways she was putting into practice what she had read. Rachel is an awesome writer, and I will let her words, in her blog post below, speak for themselves. Do check out Rachel’s new website and blog, Navigating Ecological Chaos (where her post below was first published). Subscribe to the blog and follow Rachel on Twitter, she has a lot of wise words and advice to share.

Your Climate Mama,

Harriet

What do We Tell Our Children? Dodging Truth in a “Climate-Aware” Home

by Rachael Angela (First published on NavigatingChaos.org, July 28, 2020)

Some years ago, when my eldest was 11 years old, I broke the news to him about Father Christmas.

He was devastated.

“What about the tooth fairy?’ he asked, wiping his eyes.

I shook my head.

More tears, a long uncomfortable pause and then he asked, “is there anything else you’ve been lying to me about?”

Ouch.

It was going so badly that, had I been fully aware then of the severity of our ecological predicament, I might have been tempted to throw that in too, get it all over and done with.

“Actually, yes, since you ask, we’ve caused the sixth mass extinction and the earth’s pretty much on a death spiral.”

Possibly not the wisest of moves but at least it would have been out there.

As it stands he’s at university now, the planet’s outlook is significantly bleaker and we still haven’t had that conversation – despite going on many protests together, despite my campaigning, despite my involvement with Extinction Rebellion and Friends of the Earth.

Why?

Because it’s painful enough facing ecological truth yourself but to share that with your kids feels unbearable.

Consequently, as well as my eldest at uni – who the conversation is possibly now too late for? – I have two young teens in our “climate-aware” home who I haven’t talked to properly about the true state of the earth.

Just the thought of it sends me into turmoil.

On the one hand I know that “there’s perhaps no greater threat facing the rights of the next generation of children,” and as that next generation of leaders and sufferers they ought to know the full story.

On the other hand, I’m acutely aware that young people today have enough to contend with as it is. They’re already in crisis. Mental illness has been steadily rising in young people for years and according to the WHO, self-harm is the third leading cause of death for people aged 15 – 19. That’s horrific.

What, as a parent, are you meant to do?

So I bought a book this week by Harriet Shugarman (aka ClimateMama) called How to Talk to Your Kids about Climate Change, which set me off on a bit of a journey.

It didn’t start off well for me.

Right there in the preface in a big, grey box it said, ‘Let’s begin by telling our children the truth.’
I read on and discovered that telling the truth is also the first line of the ClimateMama motto. I balked at that. I’m not sure what I expected – maybe an offer to have the conversation for me, perhaps advice to pretend everything is okay? Either way, the book was clearly not heading in the direction I wanted so I went online.

It’s not all doom and gloom.

After some searching I found the recording of an online video conference from April 2020 called Climate of Emotions which involved, among others, a few young activists and a young scientist, speaker and author, Britt Wray. I figured these guys might give me an insight.

They did.

Britt spelled out clearly that telling your child not to worry about the crisis and that ‘everything will be okay’ is a form of abandonment. “That is not being honest and that is not what it means to offer support,” she said.

The honesty thing again.

That told me.

I sheepishly returned to ClimateMama’s book and she pointed out that our children already have some awareness of the crisis anyway. They’re either living it, picking up snippets from friends and teachers or, of course, absorbing things via social media. It’s therefore important to give them the facts about the impacts and causes of the crisis ourselves, in an age-appropriate way, as well as possible solutions.

This was a new one on me. At the risk of sounding stupid, it hadn’t actually occurred to me that solutions would be part of that doom-laden conversation, if ever I instigated it, yet it seems obvious now: the solutions to the crisis and actions being taken are just as real, just as factual, as the numbers of species going extinct and the rising concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere. They’re important too.

Crucial, in fact, because they provide the balance needed to prevent our young people from being utterly traumatised.

I looked for a study I remembered reading a while back, conducted by Maria Ojala on young people and the ecological crisis, and found this:

“It is important to help young people to face the climate problem and bear the negative emotions related to it … in this process one also needs to encourage young people to see positive aspects that can activate hope, a feeling that can transform worry into a constructive, motivational force. Thus hope about climate change is more than an illusion or a solace; it could also be an important path to engagement.”

Of course hope should play a part in the conversation! Why had I not taken that in before? It was, after all, not only what kept me going but what kept me in the fight. I always have Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone’s book, Active Hope, close to hand and Rebecca Solnit’s Hope in The Dark with it. Some days, hope is all there is.

ClimateMama refers to active hope as well as intrinsic hope and radical hope. There’s so much to say about these that it needs another blog post but suffice to say hope is just as important in discussions with our young people as it is in our own activism, probably more.

Honesty – sharing is caring

But what if we don’t feel hopeful ourselves?

Again, honesty.

We have to be honest with ourselves about how we are feeling. As ClimateMama says, we have to get to grips with our own grief first. We might need help with that, or perhaps just the passing of time, but when we are ready we’ll be in a better place to be present with our children.

A better place, not a perfect one, and that’s good enough. It would be unrealistic to expect ourselves to ever be fully in charge of all our feelings regarding the crisis, especially when talking to our children about them.

That’s okay.

The book reminds us that it’s healthy to share with our children how we are feeling. Not only does this give them permission to feel and voice their own feelings but it’s likely to reduce their anxiety too. Our kids are not stupid. They pick up on our emotions whether we voice them or not, just as they sense that all is not well with the world whether or not we’ve laid it out for them, (just as, on discovering out about Father Christmas my eldest must have suspected the tooth fairy wasn’t real before I confirmed it for him).

Having that uncertainty bubbling under the surface is unhelpful.

Acknowledging it helps to move forward, and we do so with our children.

We can share with them how we are dealing with the crisis, what we are learning and what actions we are taking. Not only will this comfort them, it will help them to figure all that out for themselves too.

We also can reassure them, as ClimateMama recommends, that we are working on the crisis along with many, many other people, that successes are happening all the time and that big changes have happened in the past because of movements like this working together.

Why tell them not to worry when we can help them discover actions they can take that will reduce that worry for them?

Why tell them everything will be okay when they will feel far more reassured by our honest declaration that we will never give up?

I think this is the sort of conversation I should have with my two young teens at home soon.

In fact, I think it’s the sort of conversation I’d actually like to have.

Just as soon as I’ve filled them in about Father Christmas.

By Rachael Angela

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Finance Ministers from the G20 (the 20 countries with the largest economies)  meet on 18th and 19th July 2020; they meet several times a year to help set the agenda for the annual meeting of the G20 heads of state (presidents and prime ministers). Parents from around the world have targeted these finance ministers, many of them parents themselves, and are  calling on them  to chart a green recovery from the coronavirus crisis, with their children and ours in mind. We need to remind our leaders, at every level and every step of the way that our climate emergency is here, now and  happening, we are all impacted, but some of us first and worst. Our children’s future and now, rests on the shoulders of us all, but certainly those that can “go big” like our finance ministers, must.

Parents are urging finance ministers not to fuel the climate crisis when developing and deciding on national and global economic recovery packages. We must be smart, we must be wise and we must be thoughtful on how to build stronger and better. We need our leaders to see,  demand, and create this thoughtful recovery too.

In the quotes below, parents from the US, Brazil, South Africa, UK, India and Australia, as part of Our Kids’ Climate and Parents For Future, urge recommendations that are real and lasting to address our climate emergency.  These two organizations  bring parents together worldwide to act on climate for the sake of our children.

Our ClimateMama, Harriet is honored to be including as a voice for these critical calls to action. Please share our demands to action widely.  #justrecovery #G20

Harriet Shugarman, college professor, climate activist with Climatemama and former IMF economist, New York City, NY – and mother of two young adult children (20 & 22) – said:

“Our leaders are meeting at an historic, unique and critical time in our shared and collective history. Charting a sustainable and clearly directed path forward for our planet and our children is within their grasp.  We would urge them to keep the children they know in their minds eyes as they discuss policies and make decisions. Our children’s future will be forever shaped by the recovery they choose at this defining moment.”

Xoli Fuyani from Earthchild in South Africa and a foster mother to two children aged 12, said:

“We must move away from fossil-fuelled business as usual and set the world on a better path.  In South Africa, a country with high unemployment, renewables have so much potential, and could generate jobs as well as cleaner energy.  We risk handing our children a broken world on the verge of climate chaos.  Every tonne of carbon emitted takes us closer to dangerous climate tipping points.  Our economic recovery from this dangerous pandemic must be the moment we create the world our children deserve.”

Rowan Rylie, a lawyer and mother to two girls aged two and six, and an activist from Parents for Future UK said:

“Our leaders are about to spend significant public money on charting our recovery from this brutal pandemic. This money should be an investment rather than another cost to our children’s future. It must not add to the tremendous environmental debt we are already leaving them. Investing in a green recovery will create more and better jobs for our children, both now and in the future. We urge our leaders to be bold and invest in the climate safe recovery our children need.”

Bhavreen Kandhari, an environmentalist from Parents for Future India, and parent to twin 16-year-old girls said:

“As parents we need to keep an unwavering focus on our children’s future. We demand that governments around the world invest in sectors that are climate friendly and keep our children safe.  Grow clean energy, get rivers de-silted, build rain harvesting structures, and protect trees and forests.  Countries like India must not build back collapsed economies with outdated fossil fuels like coal.”

Clara Ramos from Familias pelo Clima (Parents for Future Brazil) and a mother of two children aged 11 and nine said:

“It is essential that the Brazilian government makes concrete commitments to the environment, reverse the dismantling of the country’s environmental governance structure that took place over the past year and present a plan for a sustainable and socially just economic recovery. In the midst of this crisis, we have a unique opportunity to correct this outdated and self-destructive route that the Brazilian government has chosen. After all, we already know that no economic recovery will be sustainable unless it is green and inclusive.”

“It is also important that a movement towards green recovery does not leave any country behind. The richest countries and their multinational companies must assume their responsibility for the creation of a zero-carbon economy throughout the planet, allowing life and self-support for all, today and in the future.”

Leanne Brummel from Australian Parents for Climate Action and a mother of a teenager aged 16, said:

“We cannot build our way out of one disaster by fuelling the next. Here in Australia, we have seen the impact of the climate crisis and coronavirus this year. The bushfires forced people from their homes, coronavirus saw them confined within them. Our wildlife was burnt in the bushfires and it is feared koalas could become extinct.  In such a heart-breaking year, we need leaders with compassion and vision. Bailing out fossil fuel industries and continuing to export coal and gas will condemn children to more disasters and losses. We must keep them safe. The climate crisis has not gone away, it remains a threat to our children and their futures.”

For interviews with parents on green recovery please get in touch with Rebecca Wynn @ becky.wynn@gmail.com

  1. Our Kids’ Climate is a network of climate-parent groups from around the world, who are uniting for climate action to protect their children. It was established at the Paris Climate Talks in 2015. It represents 56 parent-led organizations from 18 countries.
  2.    Parents For Future was formed in 2019 by a network of parents inspired by Greta Thunberg and the Fridays For Future movement. There are over 130 groups in more than 27 countries worldwide working to engage adults and normalise climate activism at local, national and global levels.

 

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On June 19, 1865, Black communities in Texas finally received the news that they were free.

Juneteenth (June 19th) is a day that honors Black freedom and Black resistance, and centers Black people’s unique contribution to the struggle for justice in the U.S. This Juneteenth is a rare moment for our communities to proclaim in one voice that Black Lives Matter, and that we won’t tolerate anything less than justice for all black lives.

Talk to your kids about Juneteenth, what it stands for, why its important to acknowledge always, and especially today. Check out this  list of book recommendations from the New York Public Library system for kids, on Juneteenth.  Connect the dots for your kids between COVID19, racial injustice and the climate crisis. Ask the kids in your life to share their thoughts, concerns and hopes.

Also, together with the kids in your life, pledge to join the Poor Peoples Campaign on June 20th;  a movement to unite the 140 million poor and low-income people across this country. After you take the pledge you’ll have the chance to take a selfie to join the digital assembly and march. Then make sure to watch the livestream at 10am and 6pm EST on June 20th, and again at 6pm on June 21st.

Remind the kids in your life, that right now, uprisings are taking place in all 50 states, and more than two-thirds of Americans agree that police violence is systemic. The Movement for Black Lives is alive and vibrant.

In response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and countless other Black people who have been killed at the hands of vigilanties or law enforcement, millions have taken to the streets, with a clear and distinct call to end police violence and to defund police. Combined with COVID-19 and four years of Trumpism, Black communities are demanding: justice; accountability; a divestment from policing; and an investment in healthy, sustainable communities.

Join us on the #SixNineteen mobilization on Juneteenth weekend, June 19–21, 2020. Take action in front of the White House, in your community, or at home.

#SixNineteen
#DefendBlackLives
#BlackLivesMatter
#DefundPolice

 

Yours,

 

ClimateMama

 

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SO MUCH: So much hurt, so much anger, so much sadness, so much emotion, so much healing, so much hope?

The following is an expert from my new book:  How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change, Turning Angst into Action,  Chapter 3, pp 52-55. The chapter ends by noting that “one small section of this one chapter cannot hope to, nor does it even attempt to, do justice to a discussion on climate justice. Hopefully, it does raise questions for you. Do seek out more information and more resources so you can have thoughtful conversations with your children about how climate justice is an integral and critical part of all successful climate solutions.”

In a similar way, what I have learned and continue to learn, is that there have been and are so many resources on racism and racial justice and injustice created shared and made available in many forms – we just need to open our eyes. There are so many people to listen to and so much to learn. I hope that the following  adds to your knowledge and that you are encouraged to find more; our children are demanding answers, we must educate ourselves so we can help them learn with us. Our ClimateMama motto stands strong: Tell the truth, Actions speak louder than words, Don’t be afraid.

BOOK EXCERPT:

A just path forward, climate and environmental justice—these are words used and heard often. What do they actually mean? According to the Climate Justice Alliance, a just transition is: “a vision-led, unifying and place-based set of principles, processes and practices that build economic and political power to shift from an extractive economy to a regenerative economy. This means approaching production and consumption cycles holistically and waste free. The transition itself must be just and equitable; redressing past harms and creating new relationships of power for the future through reparations. If the process of transition is not just, the outcome will never be. A just transition describes both where we are going and how we get there.”

Climate justice connects environmental justice—including the right to clean air, clean water, a health environment and food security—to human rights. It recognizes institutionalized and historical injustices that perpetuate and exacerbate poverty through global—national, regional and local—actions that have local implications. Our climate emergency is not color blind, nor is it an equal opportunity crisis.

Just as Black Lives Matter is not the same as All Lives Matter, the impacts of the climate crisis, and the need to ensure a just transition remains critical to our ability to successfully address the crisis at hand. Yes, climate change is happening all around us and impacting us all. Yet, those who can afford to protect themselves from the direct impacts of our growing crisis are still often able to and for the most part, do so. Those that can’t, are already—and, often, deeply—reeling and suffering the consequences.

Why is it that in the United States of America, African Americans are almost three times more  likely to die from asthma-related causes than white Americans? Could there be a correlation between the fact that the vast majority of air-polluting infrastructure, such as power plants, cement and chemical processing plants and incinerators, are more likely to be sited in low income neighborhoods that have historically not been able to gather the community support or the political attention to stop their construction? In fact, a 2016 study by the University of Michigan found that hazardous waste sites are often built in neighborhoods where whites have already been moving out, and poor minority residents have been moving in, for a decade or two before the project arrived. This follows on the seminal 2007 report, “Toxic Waste and Race at Twenty” that found that more than half of all the people in the United States living within two miles of a hazardous waste site, were people of color.

So, as we talk about a range of climate solutions, about jobs in the new green economy, and about infrastructure and public transportation, who gets those jobs and where that new infrastructure is to be built needs careful consideration, thought and planning. As the economic gulf between rich and poor is exacerbated, how we work to close this gap as we build a new and hopeful future, one that isn’t built on resource-extractive, polluting industries, will be key to helping everyone participate and benefit in this new future.

How, too, do our moral and ethical responsibilities stack up with the practical implications of the growing and destructive impacts multiplying over there? Where actually is over there? We must open our eyes to the reality that over there is just as likely to be across town or down the block than it is to be in a country across the ocean. A big question to ponder is, are we willing and able to reconcile the importance of addressing climate justice, along each step of our journey?

The impartiality of the climate crisis will only grow stronger, yet the fact remains that many black, brown and low income communities are the ones that are the least resilient, those least responsible for our climate crisis, and those hit first and worst. These communities cannot easily pick up the pieces.  Maybe they can’t do it at all. Many families in Puerto Rico and in parts of Texas and in Florida are still reeling from Hurricane Maria’s 2017 destructive forces; recovery isn’t equal or just. When a tragic fire struck Notre Dame Cathedral in 2019, billions of dollars were committed to help rebuild it within days of the tragedy. Yet, when Mozambique was struck with devastating cyclones, leaving hundreds of thousands homeless and without food or water, also in 2019, many around the world watched, and most looked away. Resources commensurate with the disaster at hand were not given or even promised. Why?

This reality plays out across the United States on a regular basis. Louisiana, Puerto Rico, Florida, Nebraska, North Carolina and other parts of the US south and Midwest continue to be hit harder and harder with each passing climate-exacerbated disaster. Yet we continue to hide the impacts of climate disasters in North America, even as people suffer daily and recover more slowly, if at all. Conveniently, media attention comes and goes quickly. Building the resiliency needed to protect from our coming storms also isn’t being done in a just manner, even as it is beginning to be put in place in wealthier communities and cities.

All over the African continent, in the Middle East and in Central and South America, if we open our eyes, we can see that climate-induced famines, droughts and wars have created situations in which people are regularly—and with increasing frequency—displaced from their homes. Daily, people are starving; they are living in war-torn areas, often without access to clean water, health care or safe havens. We must remember and remind our children that focusing our lens through justice demands that there be no sacrifice.

Each of us deserves to be treated with dignity, respect and care. This isn’t, however, the world we live in. Our world is unjust, unfair and unequal—and it is becoming more so. Being born into a certain zip code, town or country shouldn’t define your chance at an education or your job success, nor should it be a marker of your ability to be able to be resilient in the face of our climate crisis. However, where you are born more often than not does define these outcomes, in disproportionate, unfair, and unjust ways.

————

What can you do today?

Join:  The Poor Peoples Campaign

Give: A criminal justice expert’s guide to donating effectively right now, VOX article by Dylan Matthews, June 9, 2020

VOTE Make sure you are registered and encourage others to do so too. Turn out for Tomorrow Campaign, Climate Reality Project.

Yours,

Climate Mama

Photo Credits:

#1 Sorry is Not Enough, Mitchell Luo on Unsplash

#2 Youth #BlackLivesMatter Photo by James Eades on Unsplash

#3 Teach Your Children Well Photo by Taylor Simpson on Unsplash

Posted in In The News, Politics, Take a Stand: Action & Advocacy | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”
― Elie Wiesel

As the United States convulses –  as ugliness, hate and frustration boil over and as waves of sadness, anger and protest erupt around our country over the senseless killing of George Floyd, yet another unarmed black man killed by a police officer –  our children are watching. As parents, our broad responsibilities are to protect our children, to help them make sense of the madness, the fear, the unknown and to bring clarity and calm to the questions they ask us. But what if we cannot reconcile for ourselves what is happening or see a clear path forward? What if we are as angry, as saddened and as frustrated as our children tell us they are? Being a parent is a delicate dance, preparing and at the same time protecting our children. Sometimes it feels like we will never learn the correct dance steps.

As I have shared in my new book, How to Talk to Your Kids about Climate Change, Turning Angst into Action, we must always begin by telling the truth. I try hard to listen deeply to the lifelong stories and struggles of black, brown and indigenous colleagues and friends. I try hard to  truly hear the frustrations, the strong words and the heartfelt calls for all of us who are able to, to speak out and yet to also constantly look inward so as to  understand our own built in prejudices. I try hard to understand my  own place of privilege –  my own blind spots, my own fears, and then to reconcile these with the importance of showing love, showing up, and of creating active hope through my own actions. Am I trying hard enough? I can try harder. I must.

I have wept as I have read the heart wrenching stories from mothers and fathers of beautiful black, brown and indigenous boys and girls; parents who worry each day – beginning from the day of their children’s birth – about the added hardships and injustices their beautiful children will face, solely because of the color of their skin.

I recently re-read an article by Lori Larkin Hutcherson, from October 2017, where she states:  “…… nobody is mad at you for being white. Nobody. Just like nobody should be mad at me for being black. Or female. Or whatever. But what IS being asked of you is to acknowledge that white privilege DOES exist and not only to treat people of races that differ from yours “with respect and humor,” but also to stand up for fair treatment and justice, not to let “jokes” or “off-color” comments by friends, co-workers, or family slide by without challenge, and to continually make an effort to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, so we may all cherish and respect our unique and special contributions to society as much as we do our common ground.”

I remind myself regularly: SILENCE = BETRAYAL

In a May 30th article in the Guardian, Reverend Barber II, founder of Moral Mondays and  co-chair of the Poor Peoples Campaign reminds us: “If we take time to listen to this nation’s wounds, they tell us where to look for hope. The hope is in the mourning…The hope is in the very thing that makes us want to rush from this place.”  He continues by stating that, “It is only if these screams and tears and protests shake the very conscience of this nation …until there is really political and judicial repentance, can we hope for a better society on the other side of this.

Connections abound, systemic racism and poverty exist everywhere across America. People of color are disproportionately being impacted by COVID19, by our climate emergency and by racial injustices. These facts are clear and evident.

Let’s listen and hear, we must bear witness to what is happening; as painful as it may be, we must keep our eyes wide open. We must continue to speak out when the hashtags fades, when the world is gripped by its next upheaval that removes the current one from the front pages of our lives. We must stay the course. It feels like we all can’t breathe. It feels too much. But for those of us that can continue to show how the dots are connected, we must. We must remind our children and ourselves, there is no climate justice without racial justice. It is and will be hard work, but we can’t be successful in slowing the climate crisis unless we bring everyone along with us. We need to take a hard look in the mirror, recognize there is complicated work to do, but that we each can be part of changing the current system and creating a better tomorrow for all of our children.

As I share in my book, acknowledging the truth about our climate emergency is accepting the uncomfortable reality that there is no linear path for making it less worse, nor for solving it in its entirety. In a connected way, there is no linear path forward on racism. Given this, there is plenty of room for us all to be involved  from different places of knowledge, of understanding and of ability. The thing that is the same, is that we all can jump in and be part of change. For me, the protests around the country remind me how important it is now and how incredibly important it will be come November, for us to strengthen and protect our democratic systems;  these systems have been hard fought for, and today have large cracks – they are showing signs not only of wear, but of breakage. We must ensure that people everywhere in the USA have the right, the ability, and the tools to vote.

For me, it seems clear that over the past four years, fuel has been added to the fires of  division and racism in the USA, this fuel now comes from the highest office in the land.  Just as some of us excuse our fathers, aunties or siblings when they express racist or prejudicial comments or jokes, much of the country has made excuses for Donald Trump and his divisive comments and his inciting of hate. But Trump is not your beloved uncle; he was elected as president of the country and expected to lead all people in this country, not just the ones he decides he wants to lead. He has allowed hate to fester and to grow. Other elected officials, by their silence, have perpetrated betrayal and advanced racism and hate. Too many people in positions of power have turned away; ignoring what is happening in this country.  Just as we strive to remove  partisanship, as we demand action on climate, we must make clear that all people – regardless of political party – stand together against divisiveness, racism and hate – partisanship has no place.

With love,

 

Climate Mama

 

Black Lives Matter Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

 

 

 

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