Happy Valentines Day!

Yes, a holiday made more commercial by companies, but a day none the less to remind those we love, that we do indeed love them.

So, to all our Climate Mamas and Papas, we send you much love and thanks. Thank you for all you do everyday to help move us forward on climate action, one step at a time. We love our Climate Mama and Papa community!

As a Valentines gift, we want to share with you a short primer on the “Green New Deal” by our friends at the Years Project.  

There is a lot being said about the proposed Green New Deal, and already we are seeing and hearing a lot of “push back.” This isn’t something we should be afraid of, nor in our opinion do we feel that it is something we need to get “just right” before we jump in. For us, the main takeaway is that this proposed draft resolution by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Edward J. Markey  – which already has over 70 co-sponsors – serves as a first step “to define the problem and the scope of the solutions;” as Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez reminds us in this video.  The draft, non-binding resolution has already led to serious discussions on the climate crisis and has started more serious conversations about what we all must do to help find ways to build solutions that will include and impact us all. ClimateMama is proud to have been one of the first 600 organizations to sign on to a letter urging our elected officials to support visionary action on climate legislation leading to support for a Green New Deal.

This weekend, take some time with the kids in your life to write”love letters” to our elected officials. You can find the address of your member of Congress here.  

Send them a belated valentines card that asks them to:

  1. Sign on to the Green New Deal and be part of a hopeful future for us all.
  2. Demand that our elected officials put into law sensible gun regulations. Valentines Day 2019  is the first Anniversary of the Parkland shootings. Our hearts still break. We as a nation have already agreed that we need sensible gun laws. Why aren’t these laws in place?

With love,

 

YOUR Climate Mama

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As the California fires from late 2018 fade to distant memories for some, the realities of their destructive forces live on for so many in the impacted region. As with many impacts of our climate crisis, those of us in the USA and other developed countries seem adept at hiding the destruction in “plain sight,” or temporarily “fixing” the immediate problems and moving on. We know that 2018 was the 4thwarmest year since we have been keeping records and 18 of the 19 warmest years have been in this century. Puerto Rico, Houston, Key West, Malibu, Staten Island, just a few of the many places in the USA ravaged by extreme weather events made worse by climate change continue their recoveries out of the media spotlight. Some places like Paradise, CA will never be able to recover.

As Climate Mamas and Papas, we are keenly aware of these facts and our every growing climate crisis. We know it will take all of us – working collectively – to give our children a chance at a livable future where they can also thrive, not just survive. So how do we reach more and more people who can join our collective actions? One way is through music and art.

We were thrilled when singer and songwriter Eric John Kaiser contacted us. Eric is a professional and independent French singer songwriter, originally from Paris, France now based in Portland, Oregon.

In 2017,  the Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia River Gorge area near Portland, OR devastated over 50,000 acres and lasted for 3 months. While the fire was started by a person, the impacts were made infinitely worse because of climate change. Smoke covered the city of Portland for weeks. Many people stayed inside because of the bad air quality. Eric had never experienced anything like this before. It was heartbreaking for him. So, in order to increase awareness and give the climate crisis greater exposure, Eric decided to create a music video that would also serve to raise funds for “The Friends of the Columbia Gorge.”

You can watch the video here:

Eric is an uncle, with several nieces and nephews. He is passionately concerned about their future and now. You can learn more about Eric at his website.

We need a multitude of ways to reach people across party lines, ethnic and cultural identities, regional and national locations. Music and the arts broadly are important avenues for crossing these divides.

Yours,

 

Climate Mama

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“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”

Martin Luther King Jr, Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, Dec. 10, 1964

Today, January 21st, 2019 across the country and around the world, people are gathering to learn, to remember, and to respect the enduring legacy and wisdom of Martin Luther King.

Throughout the year, many of our Climate Mamas and Papas remind me that they are regularly inspired, motivated and emboldened by Dr. King’s words. Dr. King, to many of us, was a Climate Solutions visionary. The problems of our climate crisis where in their infancy, yet his wise words can help us move forward as we build out determination to solve the crisis before us, and give our children a chance at a livable and sustainable future. For me, always pushing me forward, the following words echo incessantly in my head:

“We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now….

Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words:

TOO LATE.”

This photo of my son and I was taken back in the fall of 2011, when as a family, we visited Washington DC  to take part in a non-violent, peaceful demonstration where together with thousands of other families, we  surround the White House which was then under the watchful eye of President Obama and gave it  a “hug” and let him know that we needed his support to stop the Keystone XL pipeline. He did subsequently stop it’s construction, shortly after that event, and it has since then and over the years been an “on again, off again” infrastructure project. It continues to be fought to this day, in the courts and on the ground, on the farms, and particularly by Climate Mamas and Papas standing strong on the land, in  the state of Nebraska.

In honor of Dr. King, We offer a few ideas that we each can take on, as we move forward to advance climate action and build up our collective climate hope. We think that Dr. King would have supported our calls and steps forward on climate action.

  1. On the battle over the Keystone XL, which we have been fighting through non-violent direct action for over 7 years, lets finally and permanently demand that our courts aided by the court of public opinion,  refuse permits for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
  2. Publicly support and advocate for a carbon fee that will generate hundreds of billions of dollars, with provisions to ensure that working families and the poor are not harmed by higher carbon prices; for an end to subsidies to the coal, oil and gas industries; and for substantial subsidies for research, development, and use of renewable, sustainable and jobs-creating clean energy sources.
  3. In honor of Dr. King, call a family meeting tonight, tomorrow or next weekend, and talk to about the reasons your family is demanding action on climate change and what you are going to do directly, whatever your motivations. We all need to “be on board” and demand action now. Our planet isn’t waiting.
  4. With new candidates for President in 2020 stating their intentions to run, almost every day, stand up for your kids, and make sure anyone that wants to be President clearly knows that “tackling the Climate Crisis” as THE priority of so many Americans, and must be at the top of their campaign initiatives. Remind them of Dr. King’s wise words:  “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” Let them know it’s time to “get smart” about the climate crisis. 
  5. As part of your upcoming family meeting, or a subsequent one, have everyone make a Valentines Card, and send it to your newly elected Congressperson, Senator, State Representative or local leaders. Let them know you are interested and will be calling on them to share their climate plan for your town, region, state and for our country. Tell them that solutions to the climate crisis are your priority and you want to know that it is their too. (If it’s your card, as a parent or grandparent, consider including a cute photo of your child or grandchild, as a reminder about why we are asking them to be our Valentines and our Climate Heroes.)

Feel free to also send to us, at info.climatemama.com, your name, home town and zip code and we will add your name to a ClimateMama Valentines Card we are making for both Senator McConnell and Speaker Pelosi, two decision makers who must show leadership and  have climate solutions on their minds, even if it isn’t yet part of  their daily  actions. ‘

We want to end by sharing these wise words from 2014, that Climate Mama extraordinaire, Eli Sparks of Virginia shared with us; they are as relevant and more today!

“Saving the world from pollution isn’t all up to me. I was simply stunned (by the reality of the climate crisis). Stunned and deeply saddened. Personal change is important. I’ve got friends who farm sustainably. Others who ride their bikes everywhere they go. I shop at the farmers market and turn off my lights when I’m not in the room. However, none of these steps will make a difference unless the big players step up to the plate. All of the likely climate heroes have started working on the problem. We need the unlikely climate heroes to emerge and lead.

We need congressmen and women with strong ties to coal, oil, and natural gas. We need politicians connected to the building industry, transportation, manufacturing, and electricity. We need statesmen and women respected by peers in their party. We need them to lead on this most challenging of issues.”

 

Let’s follow Eli’s advice and help our leaders LEAD!

 

Yours,

 

Climate Mama

.

 

 

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At the beginning of every year I think about setting “New Year Resolutions.” Sometimes I write them down. More often than not, while the New Year and new beginnings do always inspire me to think about setting lofty goals; the realities and pressures of day to day life set in immediately, and then my resolutions often quickly become “out of sight, out of mind” the rest of the year.

At the beginning of week two of 2019, I already feel the “pressures of the day” pulling at me. What about you?

So, before things get too far out of control, I want to share my “top 5” thoughts and  plans, hopes and resolutions for 2019.   I will check back in with you later this year and see what has stuck. Hold me too it! I do think that all are things I can work to make happen.

 

My 2019 resolutions are:

  1. Keep my passions alive, stay focused on these and forge ahead.
  2. Pick something hard to do, and make it happen. This past year I have been working on a book project, “Advice from Your Climate Mama.” This year, I want to see it published.
  3. Continue to promote transparency, facts and the reality of our climate crisis, countering the current politics in Washington that are trying to get in the way of science and truth.
  4. Introduce and work to create two new community-wide initiatives that promote environmental sustainability, in my own community.
  5. Hold family and friends close, make time for those who are important, stay in the moment, and treasure this time together.

At the beginning of 2018, we shared 3 goals from one of our favorite Climate Mamas, Climate Scientist Katharine Hayhoe.

Her suggestions remain wonderful and relevant. We are happy to share them again:

  1. Talk about Climate Change – hardly anyone does!
  2. Step on the carbon scales and reduce all you can. I like: Cool Climate 
  3. After reducing, offset what’s left. I like @climatestewards

Happy New Year to all our Climate Mamas and Papas!

Thank you for what you do everyday to give us hope that we will solve the climate crisis and create a livable future for our children.

Have you set any resolutions you want to share? Please let us know!

 

Yours,

 

Climate Mama

 

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United Nations

The climate news from scientists around the world has been dire. As the realities and urgencies of our climate crisis are brought to the forefront in reports like the IPCC Special Report  on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees, and the United States Fourth National Climate Assessment, it seems we are stuck in slow motion, instead of racing forward in high gear.  At the recent United Nations meeting on climate change, the loudest voices and demands for action were from our children (watch this 3 minute speech from COP24 by Greta Thunberg, a 15 year old Swedish climate activist). It seems that world leaders are still moving incrementally, not with the “out of the box thinking” and urgency that science and our planet are demanding.

So, instead of spiraling into hopelessness, anger and despair, let’s remember that there are so many, many good ideas, options and pathways we can take to continue to move forward, one step OR one giant leap at a time. Recently, Climate Mama extraordinaire Hélène, reached out to us to share her idea on advancing climate action with the speed, urgency and excitement it demands. We are thrilled to share this straightforward yet powerful idea with you.

Put simply, Hélène’s idea  is to establish a Climate Nobel Prize; the details of which are spelled out in more detail below. Parents like Hélène give us hope and the unwavering belief that we can and we will create a livable planet for us and for our children, one where we will not only survive, but thrive.

A Climate Nobel Prize

by Hélène Costa

When I read the Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report back in October, I was in shock. I thought myself educated on climate change issues (I started my career working on carbon markets and taking part in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations process). The reality check was hard: we need to reduce our emissions by half by 2030 and the world need to be carbon neutral by 2050, to avoid dire consequences. However, we are completely off-track. For the second year in a row, global emissions are projected to raise by 2,7% in 2018 and our window is closing fast to keep temperatures below 1,5 degree celsius above pre-industrial level.

That was a wake up call for my husband and I. We thought we were doing a great job in how we were keeping our  family carbon footprint in check, but we were wrong. We realized we had to commit and do more. Because if we were to give up, what would be next?” What would be next for our two kids, for our nieces and nephews, for their friends? What would be next for those kids in less privileged countries who will suffer twice, three time more?

So we had been brainstorming for all our date night this evening in early October, discussing how to ramp up our efforts faster, how to make our Family Climate Roadmap more stringent and effective. At the end of our dinner, I was in great angst and needed a break. Fun distraction: the Nobel Prizes were announced! So we chit chatted about the latest laureates. That was serendipitous!

Alfred Nobel in his will created the Prizes to be awarded to “those who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest be nefit to humankind”. Five initial categories were single out by Alfred Nobel: Physics, Chemistry, Medicine and Physiology, Literature, and Peace. When Nobel died on December 10th, 1896, climate change was not yet known nor comprehended. But today? we found asking ourselves. If Alfred Nobel had died today, would he have envisioned the creation of a Climate Prize the same way he wanted to honor the champions of Peace?

We believe he would because there is no greater benefit to mankind than to act against humanity’s most imminent threat: climate change. That’s why my husband and I decided to launch a petition to ask the Nobel Foundation Board to consider the creation a new Nobel Prize for Actions Against Climate Change.

How would this Nobel be different from the Peace Prize shared by Al Gore and the IPCC?

First, this Nobel would focus on actions. The Climate Nobel would reward those who, through exemplary actions or groundbreaking discoveries, are doing the most or best to tackle climate change through mitigation of emissions, removal of historic emissions in the atmosphere or adaptation.

Second, there is a need to keep the issue top of the agenda every year. There is only so much focus the Nobel Committees can put on climate change within the current six disciplines (the Prize in Economic Sciences administered by the Nobel Foundation was added in 1968). We cannot wait 11 years between the Peace Prize to the IPCC and the Economic Prize given to William Nordhaus (for his inclusion of climate change in economic models) this year.

Third, we need to act fast. So this Climate Prize will go back to the roots of the Nobel celebrating recent achievements or discoveries made “during the preceding year” or years.

Willingly or not, we are all in to take the challenge of a changing climate. We believe that a Nobel Prize for Actions against Climate Change, to honor and support those who are leading the way and inspiring all of us, would be the highest distinction humankind could bestow.

If you agree, please consider signing and sharing the petition here 

Hélène is a proud mom of 2 children,  living with her family in Seattle, WA. She is a former carbon markets analyst and former startup co-founder. She currently works at getting 1M signatures for a #ClimateNobel and at scaling up her Family Climate Roadmap 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
So I will not ask them anything.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Climate Mama News, Climate Mama Video Peek of the Week, Earth Day is Every Day, In The News, Politics, Take a Stand: Action & Advocacy | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

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

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

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

 As general rules on gift giving

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

On Throwing Holiday Parties

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

 Final Tip & Holiday Tradition

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

 

Yours,

 

ClimateMama

 

Tree Photo by Thandy Yung on Unsplash

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On Sharing our Sadness and our Hope

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

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

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

Happy Thanksgiving.

Yours,

Climate Mama

 

This post is adapted from a 2017 ClimateMama Thanksgiving post

*Leaf Reflection Photo by Derek Thomson on Unsplash

* Socks and Book Photo by Alex Geerts on Unsplash

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

Used with permission: ErikMcGregor.com

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

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

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

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

Constance Mattison, New Jersey

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

Jane Califf, New Jersey

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

Maria Santiago, New Jersey

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

Rosemary Carey, Massachusetts

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

 Owl, member of the Ramapough Lenape Nation

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

 Jerome Wagner, President 350 NJ-R

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

Ted Glick, Roseland Against the Compressor

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

Jean-Marie Donohue, Assistant Director of WATERSPIRIT

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

Harriet Shugarman, Executive Director, ClimateMama

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

The power of peer-to-peer learning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EllaWIntSchool.jpg

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

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

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

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