Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

New Habits for our Unwritten Future:

By Jill MacIntyre Witt

After nearly 2 years of the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis and years of inaction to tackle the climate crisis during the last presidency, it’s certainly a good time to take a closer look at our daily habits.

This 2022 Habits Hotsheet is a great place to start.

We all know deep down inside that we can’t return to the way it was. What people refer to as getting back to ‘normal’ is simply not sustainable. In the first half of 2020, carbon emissions fell during the global shutdown. It was exciting to see a glimpse of planetary reprieve and recovery. But that was not what fossil fuel companies wanted. Check out this latest report on the Koch Industries push for herd immunity, in order for corporations to continue as business as usual, at the expense of human lives. And for our species directly, after so much death and illness these past few years, we can begin to see the clear impacts. Reality is setting in…the virus will continue to remain elusive as we navigate our unknown future together. What we do know is that this will continue to raise our stress levels. It’s not going away. And what we also know is that the planet will continue to heat up and climate impacts will continue to get worse. It is up to each and every one of us to grab ahold of what we can to take meaningful climate action as we also take care of ourselves.

Climate anxiety is on the rise. We can get a grip. Let’s start with caring for our personal health and wellness and establish new habits in these new times. Habits for wellness will help sustain us while we take on bolder actions to address the climate crisis. Both wellness and climate action go hand in hand. Our future is for us to write, to navigate – and not just to live through – but also to thrive in. We must take care of our health, while we work towards creating a better world for our children and their children and their children’s children. Our wellness depends on the wellness of each other, not just our neighbors and friends but also those that are affected the most by climate change.

Our moral awakening must include facing the reality that:  how we live grossly impacts those that have done the least to cause the problems we face. We must not turn our backs on the youth of today – their call to act on climate couldn’t be more clear. We can slow climate impacts by reducing our own personal carbon impact and by demanding change from our governments as well as corporations. No more business as usual we can incorporate into our habits. We got this!

To help jumpstart your new year, I’ve created a 2022 Habits Hotsheet. It’s a list of many actions for you to choose…from your health and wellness, to lowering your carbon impact. When you get the Hotsheet, you will be put on a VIP list to be the first to know when the “Climate Anxiety to Action” online course is available. You can also follow us on Instagram @climateactivismlab.

Let’s make 2022 the year where we incorporate climate wellness into our daily lives so we can thrive in the unwritten future we are part in creating. As climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe says, “When you are taking action for the climate, it’s not for climate change, it’s for you, it’s for your family, it’s for everything you love, everyone you love, every place that you love.”

Jill MacIntyre Witt (she/her)
Climate Wellness Coach, NBC-HWC (pending)
UN Top 100 Human Rights Defender – 2019
TEDx Talk: “Climate Justice Now! How?”
Author – Climate Justice Field Manual: climatejusticenow.earth
Founder – climateactivismlab.com

Photo credit of youth: Unsplash by Tom Seger

Posted in Climate Mama News, Do Something Wednesdays, Health & Fitness | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s wave goodbye to 2021, and the many climate catastrophes from this past year that Mother Nature demanded we see, feel, hear and experience first hand. From deadly flooding in Germany, New York City and British Columbia, to fires raging across the Amazon, California, British Columbia, the Arctic, as well as Boulder, Colorado – the realities of living the climate emergency were made crystal clear to us all –  as was our staring role in pushing Mother Nature out of balance. While this reality is critical to realize and to understand, this post is NOT about the fact that the climate crisis is here, this should be a given to all.

THIS post, in the early days of 2022 is a reminder that there are so many things happening  each and every day – in cities, countries, boardrooms and kitchens – that address, come to terms with, and slow down our climate emergency. These actions, projects, programs and events build our resiliency, inside and out, as we learn the skills and find the resources to cope and adjust to the changes around us. We need to find ways to remind ourselves that we can and must have climate hope. Hope can’t manifest itself in a vacuum but it can grow from real life experiences and examples which in turn, build our self efficacy and our agency that moves us forward and wills us to act.

This post is a reminder that people around the world, from all walks and corners of life, are awake to the dangers we face and are facing them head on – more often than not doing so in community, together.

This post is to remind you, so you can remind the children in your life that – around the world –  people are rising up, as they see what is happening and are taking action where and when they can. As well, they are demanding that those who can go big, do so now.

This post is a reminder for you to rise and be part of these collective actions. Together we are strong and together we can and are making a difference.

Where to begin? Look for the successes – below is  a small handful – you will not have to look hard to find fistfuls of your own, from the world over:

  1. On our Climate Mamas and Papas front: Our Kids Climate and Parents for Future joined together this past summer to launch a global parent fellowship. There will be a new program launching in 2022 – an idea for you or someone you know? This program and the growing and loud voices of parents around the world, coming together at key moments (COP26), Mothers Day, Father Days, to raise attention to the reality of the climate emergency and the need for action.
  2. On the importance of free and fair elections: Joe Biden, the US President understands the realities of the climate crisis. Creating and advancing climate policy isn’t easy, but on  his first day in office he showed the world where his priorities for the country are, as he insured that the US rejoined the Paris Agreement. He cancelled the Keystone pipeline, once and for all, and his administration has demanded of all federal government agencies that climate action take priority.  The trillion dollar infrastructure bill passed in the fall, with a razor sharp focus on climate resiliency. How we vote MATTERS, protecting our right to VOTE and the democratic process is critical.
  3. On sharing positive news: The role of indigenous peoples in protecting and caring for our mother earth continues to be amplified and recognized. Rolling out in the fall of 2021, New Jersey began enacting its decision to teach climate change K-12, across 7 cross curricular areas. California passes a bill that requires all businesses and residents to compost, rolling out in 2022~

There are so many, many projects and programs that took flight and grew in 2021, including and related to:  energy efficiency, renewable energy, regenerative agriculture, climate education K-12, systems thinking, divestment from polluting industries, investment in climate action plans, cradle to cradle, donut economics, recognition, reality, and ways to cope with climate/eco anxiety amongst youth and adults and so much more!! All this as the world continued to reel from the COVID crisis. We can do so much when we put our minds, our energies, our hopes, and our dreams toward creating a better future and now for us and for our children.

What are some of your key positive takeaways from 2021 as they relate to the climate emergency? Let’s acknowledge them, champion them, and move them forward into 2022. We can all be witnesses too and participants with the companies, organizations, houses of worship, elected officials, mamas and papas, youth and children, uniting to address our climate emergency, and doing so head on with eyes wide open and arms outstretched!

 

Yours in solidarity,

 

Your Climate Mama, Harriet

 

P.S. on a personal note, in 2021 my book, How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change, Turning Angst into Action, received 3 national book awards. To me, this shows that talking about the climate crisis – more and more – is taking center stage.

 

2021 Photo credit: engin akyurt on Unsplash

2022 Photo credit: Photo by 愚木混株 cdd20 on Unsplash

Parent photo from COP26, Our Kids Climate.

Posted in Climate Mama News, Climate Mamas & Papas, Do Something Wednesdays, Holidays, In The News | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Used with Permission: OKC, COP26 Glasgow

Greetings Climate Mamas and Papas,

Were you tuned in to the United Nations Glasgow Climate meeting? I am sure many of you were staying on top of COP26 which came to a close on November 13th, 2021, and that others were too busy and occupied to follow closely.  This 26th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP), was met with cautious optimism by some, and with disappointment, sadness, and anger by others. I hope the following will provide some insight and pause for thought for those of you who are looking for more information about what took place and what didn’t.

What’s important to remember before we discuss the outcomes in more detail, is what the COP is and what it isn’t. COP is the decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  The UNFCCC is one of the Conventions that came out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (or Rio Summit for short).  The primary aim of the UNFCCC is: preventing “dangerous” human interference with the climate system. (Having spent 13 years working in and around the United Nations, I am pretty good with these UN acronyms!)

Depending on who you listen to, you may be thoroughly depressed by the outcomes of COP26, or perhaps, as I am, you remain cautiously optimistic.

What is important to recognize and be mindful of from the start, is that the UNFCCC and its decision-making body the COP, have no enforcement authority. Let me say that again, and in another way, there is no mechanism for the COP to bind governments to any decisions nor can it oversee enforcement. This is a general rule that applies to almost all UN bodies, they lack any enforcement mechanisms. In the 21st century, and back in the 1940s when the UN was established, the nation state was then and remains today, the supreme authority. We do not have a world government; the United Nations is not that. And yet, as someone who sees the climate crisis as THE threat to the future existence of humanity, the climate emergency would certainly be something where global decisions should be binding and enforceable, but so far that is not the case.

In regards to this COP and in fact all COPs, the meetings represent annual moments in time –  updates from governments on agreed  decisions from previous COPs, mostly related to adaptation and mitigation, and the thorny question of who will pay for these developments. The primary outcomes for COP26, where updates and commitments are stated, can be found in the Glasgow Climate Pact. The Glasgow decisions call on countries to revisit and strengthen their 2030 targets by the end of 2022 to align them with the Paris Agreement’s temperature goals. This moves up the timetable for reporting and puts pressure on governments to show what they are doing in one year’s time. It also asks all countries that have not yet done so to submit long-term strategies to 2050, aiming for a just transition to net-zero emissions around mid-century. For the first time this final COP agreement talks directly about transitioning from fossil fuels, it includes language calling for the need to “phase down unabated coal” and “phase-out fossil fuel subsidies.”  This language is not as strong as many hoped for, nor as strong as science demands.  But words matter, and the words that call for an end to fossil fuels are finally being said out loud and written down and recorded.

The 2015 Paris COP was a particularly notable and important conference for setting up expectations on what we need to do to create a safer future and now. One of its monumental accomplishments was the decision that every country which is a member of COP (which is a lot, over 195 countries) would come to the Paris COP with their own Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) or in simple terms, their country’s Climate Plan. The agreement from Paris was such that each country agreed to continue to evolve and tighten up their own country plan and then collectively, the plans when added up would ensure that global temperatures did not reach a rise of more than 2 degrees C from preindustrial levels. The aspirational goal was that temperature rise would be no more than 1.5 degrees C. This aspirational goal, as it should have been in Paris, is now the target. When all the Paris commitments were added up, we were on track for a more than 3.6-degree rise, but since Paris and as of Glasgow, this number is now down to 2.5. Better, but still not good enough to avert climate catastrophe. But, the good news is that countries continue to tighten their “climate belt” and to work to reduce emissions and slow down the climate emergency – the trajectory is in the right direction. The set-up from Paris demands that each country show what they are doing and how they are accomplishing their goals through revisions to their NDC. The “genius” of Paris was the moral suasion and transparency that the NDC process has created. These NDCs are to be formally presented every five years to the COP, and now with an annual update (at least for next year).

Many other things were agreed to at and around COP26, including:

So, from where I sit, I see momentum and progress. Certainly, we must continue to demand that governments go farther and faster. But we also need all multinational corporations – and all big companies, organizations and non-government entities to be working at full speed to accomplish the goals of COP as well. Governments won’t be able to do this alone. And, without a world government that has “teeth” and  enforcement mechanisms, the best we can do is to shine a bright light on what each country is doing and what large organizations and companies are doing too. Civil society groups are successfully doing this each and every day and getting stronger together. We will continue to demand greater transparency, much more actions and much less talk.

Our children’s future and now depends on what happens NOW and we all can have a say and a role in moving a more positive and hopeful future forward.

Lastly but not least, I am so proud and excited about the coordinated efforts of parents globally, brought together through the Our Kids Climate and Parents for Future Global coalitions. Parent voices and demands were heard throughout the halls of the COP and delivered to the highest levels.

Climate Mamas and Papas, let’s keep going. Our voices are being heard and we can tell our children we are working hard, to create a safer, more sustainable and hopeful future for us all.

 

 

With thanks and love,

 

Your Climate Mama, Harriet

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

I have been working in the parent climate space for more than a decade. It has been rewarding, powerful and frustrating. I have often wondered: Are we truly being heard, are our actions being noticed, are we reaching far and wide?  How can we amplify our voices and our actions?

I wonder no longer!

In the fall of 2021, in the lead up to United Nations Climate Conference, COP26,  parents globally are rising, being seen, being heard. There is no doubt. As the days count down to the opening of the COP, parents have united under one clear and visible demand: 

NO NEW FOSSIL FUELS. PERIOD. 

The ask is clear, the demand is strong and powerful. It will take brave leaders to face fossil fuel companies head on and tell them no more – no more tax credits, no more subsidies, no more permits to drill on public lands, no more government assistance –  period.

In 2021, the message from climate scientists is also clear.

In August 2021, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change  in its sixth assessment report, stated that: It is UNEQUIVOCAL that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, oceans, and lands.

The United Nations Secretary General has called it “code red” for humanity.

Together, the global parent climate movement, led by Our Kids Climate and Parents for Future Global is taking a delegation of mamas to COP26. Together, these mamas from India, Brazil, Poland, South Africa, Nigeria, the USA and the UK, representing us all, will demand that world leaders stop all new fossil fuel infrastructure, mining, and more. NO NEW FOSSIL FUELS. PERIOD.

Azaaz has created a petition so we can take millions of voices with us, have your voice heard in Glasgow. Sign on to this petition today.

JOIN US: Sign here.

Share. Share. Share.

Thank you,

 

Your Climate Mama,

 

Harriet

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

As of September 2020, every Italian child, in every grade, is required to learn about climate change and sustainability. In September 2021, New Jersey became the first state in the US to require every child, k-12 to learn about climate change across 7 curricular areas. In countries, towns and districts across the US and the world, the realities of our climate emergency are beginning to be taught in formal educational settings. This is long over due and uneven in its implementation and requirements, but finally, it seems to be taking off on a wider and public scale.

Under Article 12 of the 2015 United Nations Paris Agreement,  the importance of climate change education, training, public awareness, public participation and public access to information, was recognized, and signatories of the agreement were asked “to cooperate in taking appropriate measures.”

On September, 2021, the USA Department of Education took steps to enact the Biden Administration’s  decision to address our climate emergency across every Federal department,  Executive Order 14008  and to see the Paris commitment, under Article 12, through. The US Department of Education’s Climate Adaptation Plan, for the first time includes: “facilities and operational as well as how public-facing programs, guidance, policies, technical assistance, data collection, and civil rights action can be supportive of reducing the footprint of schools across the nation, as well as improving health, increasing climate resiliency, and improving students’ environmental literacy.”  You can review the new Climate Adaptation Plan here. 

Photo credit: Unsplash/KianaBosman

What are your children learning about the climate emergency? We need to equip our children with the knowledge, the skills, the opportunities, and the ACTIVE hope, to be part of our collective response to slow down the global climate emergency we all face. How can you help turn your child’s “angst into action?” What is your school district and your child’s school doing specifically to teach and address the realities of the climate emergency. Get involved, get engaged, get informed.  Let us know, and certainly and firstly, let your children know you are working on this for them!

Warmly,

Your Climate Mama

Posted in In The News, Schools and Colleges | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

I have had the opportunity, the pleasure and the honor to meet, to befriend and to work with people from across the world; an opportunity and a  privilege that I know most people don’t have. Traveling Europe when I was 18, spending 13 years with the International Monetary Fund and working on the climate emergency for the past 15 years with colleagues and friends from across the globe, I have met people from many varied backgrounds, cultures, and countries. Some of these people came into my life for a short time and others for a lifetime. I have learned that in many ways we are all so similar and yet, in many ways so very different too. There is much that we can learn from one another as we build trust, relationships and a way forward –  together.

Over the past year, through my work with Our Kids Climate, I have had the honor of getting to know Herbert Murungi from Uganda. Herbert is an incredibly kind and caring person. He is concerned about our future and now and is doing everything he can to educate youth leaders, contemporaries,  and elders in his country and around the world to do their part too. Herberts storybook, James the Steward was one of our “Top Ten Children’s book for 2020”, and Herbert’s second children’s book Keeper of the Forest, launched in June 2021.

The story below is from Herbert, as told in his words. Herbert lives and has grown up in Uganda where cultural rules and norms, still require that a man pay a “brides price” to marry. For many of us in the West, this may seem both strange and archaic. But for Herbert and his wonderful wife to be Rose, this is their reality. Both of them are reaching out to friends, family and people they don’t know, to share their story, to call for an end of this cultural practice, and to focus attention on solutions to the climate crisis as part of their journey. Please read Herbert’s story below. If you feel inclined, please join me as well in supporting Herbert and Rose’s wedding fundraiser where they will plant 500 trees at local schools in Uganda. Herbert can be reached through RESI and is always happy  to share more about his work, both with school communities and in bringing solar cooking to villages across Uganda.

As we live this time of climate emergency. Finding people who build up and create active hope through their actions is critically important and inspiring. Herbert is one of these people.

Your Climate Mama,

Harriet

500 Trees: The Story of Herbert and Rose

by Herbert Murungi

My name is Herbert Murungi, I’m an environmental scientist, social entrepreneur and a co-founder of RESI (Rural Environmental Sustainability Initiative). I write children’s storybooks about climate and environmental conservation because of the strong belief that anything nurtured at an early age gets embraced easily all through one’s life with value attachment. Our goal is to educate the youth so that they understand, prepare, adapt and fight the climate crisis. I have co-authored 2 children storybooks-James the Steward and Keeper of the Forest. I encourage you to read and get your child a copy.

My fiancée Rose is a civil engineer and takes pride in building excellent homes and schools for children. Her hobby is crocheting. In the fall of 2020, we agreed to get married in 2021.  We thought of wedding ceremonies. We talked about the glitz and glamour of African weddings. We agreed that the pomp of the events carries no significant impact on society and environment. We decided to use our wedding as an opportunity to communicate to young couples of our generation. Our message is simple, the wedding pomp lasts a day, but memories live in our hearts forever. Let us use these life occasions to impact lives around us, and do good to our Earth.

Rose and I will plant 500 trees (fruit and indigenous trees) in 10 schools with children to
commemorate our marriage journey. Each child will plant a tree and give it his/her name.
Together with the school administration we will support every child to ensure that his/her tree flourishes. Trees will be planted in October 2021 and our friend Alan, who holds Master’s degree in Forestry, is guiding us on tree selection and site assessments.

To realize our goal, we need your support towards buying, and taking care of trees in schools. You can support us by contributing $10.00 for a tree. You are encouraged to contribute by buying any number of trees.

Thank you for being part of our story!

Posted in Climate Mama News, Climate Mamas & Papas, Do Something Wednesdays, In The News, Lifestyle & Fun, Schools and Colleges | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Photo credit: H.Shugarman 2021

On July 8th parts of the upper westside of Manhattan were inundated with torrential rains; subways and roadways flooded, as did my ground floor walkup apartment. The week prior, in Alberta, Canada, my mother lived with a week-long heat wave, daytime temperatures reached the high 90’s multiple days in a row. Dead fish ominously washed up on the beaches of our Alberta family lake house, as the oxygen levels in the lake plunged as high temperatures heated up the lake’s shallow waters.  At the same time, my son in Seattle, WA, was googling homemade air conditioners as that city experienced a “heat dome,” bringing temperatures of more than 100 degrees.  My brother in neighboring British Columbia, is seeing, smelling, and breathing smoke, as many in his province are under mandatory evacuation with 100s of forest fires burning.  One family’s lived experience in two short weeks.

In mid July, headlines around the world shared tragic stories and photos of Germans and Belgians impacted by flash floods; hundreds of people lost their homes and hundreds more lost their lives. Around the world –  daily – extreme weather events stocked by the climate crisis, leave people homeless, with food and water insecurities, sickened, injured, hurt and dead. Yet, too often these events are not reported on outside of the region where they occur. The climate emergency is upon us all – wherever we live. Those of us fortunate enough to be born in the global north or in communities and zip codes where we have been able to hide and ignore the impacts of the growing global climate emergency, must use our voices and our power. The deafening calls to action from Mother Nature demand that we open our eyes and that everyone see and hear her. It’s past time to talk about how we should act and lead, we simply must do so, one step or one giant leap at a time; our children’s future and now truly is in our hands.

As the developed world is confronted head on with the realities of the climate emergency  in a visible and direct way, the developing world and low income areas in the global north  have been living with the crisis for decades.  With the United Nations Climate Conference, COP26 on the horizon in November 2021, will those elected to lead us put in place climate action plans that have near term time tables, not plans that sets far off goals for 2050, too many years away?  Will those in corporations with the power to change the way our natural resources are used and abused, finally wake up to the realities humanity has put in place as the products they mass produce accelerate the climate emergency? As parents, we are awake, we are aware, we are terrified and we are angry. We all must demand that those in powerful positions go big – now; the rest of us must keep the drum beat pounding, the demands for actions clear, and faces of our children in our minds eye at all times as we join mother nature’s calls for action.

Photo credit: H.Shugarman 2o21

 

The climate crisis is a crisis of our own making. Science has shown us this. Science also tells us it is still in our power to slow things down. But, science also tells us we must act now.

Are we listening?

Share your story. We must remind everyone, everywhere,  that the climate emergency is personal to each of us. It’s no longer happening “over there” – wherever that is. As it turns out and as many of us have known for many years, “over there” is in our own backyards, across our street, on the  other side of our town, in the front yards of our mother, our brother, our aunt, our uncle and our dearest friend. We can no longer hide nor pretend the climate emergency  isn’t happening now.

Your Climate Mama,

 

Harriet

Postscript: Upon returning July 20th to NYC from a visit with my family on the West coast, we were greeted with hazy skies and the faint smell of smoke. The smoke was sent by Mother Nature from over 2500 miles away where it originated from forest fires in the American west. She is reminding us in New York City not to close our eyes nor get complacent…We are ALL living the reality of our climate crisis. What happens next is up to us.

Posted in Climate Mama News, Disasters, In The News, Nature, Take a Stand: Action & Advocacy | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

As Climate Mamas and Papas, we know we are living a climate emergency. For those living in the Pacific Northwest and the Southwest – or really  pretty much anywhere in the USA at the end of June 2021 – even our youngest children are seeing and feeling extreme weather events. If not directly impacted themselves, our children likely know someone who has been effected by extreme heat, floods or forest fires. Our children hear about our climate emergency on the news, via social media, in school or even as you discuss it at home and with friends and family. When our children come to us with questions, we need to be prepared with answers.

Being able to discuss the climate crisis also requires that we understand it. We must educate ourselves and be prepared for questions and know how to find answers. In a nutshell, we all must get comfortable with the uncomfortable fact that we will be living with the climate emergency for the rest of our lives. This means, I believe, adding climate truth teller to the long list of parental responsibilities we already have.

My book How to Talk to Your Children About Climate Change, Turning Angst into Action, which has now won two national book awards -The IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award and the Nautilus Book of the Year Award, and is a finalist in the Forword Indie Book of the Year – has many of the answers you will need, and references or lists resources to find others.

How can you help your children understand that this climate phenomenon,

  • isn’t going away;
  • isn’t the norm, but that it is now the new norm;
  • that it’s caused by us;
  • and most importantly that we can do something about it.

Regardless of their age, remind them that many caring parents and caregivers the world over are wide awake to the fact of our climate emergency.  That all these people are working hard not only to address the crisis at hand, but to help children – at every age – understand what’s going on and be empowered to take action. These folks include scientists, engineers, teachers, elected officials, and people from all walks of life and political persuasions. Being honest and realistic with our children we can also share with them the incredible opportunities that the unfolding climate crisis presents to all of us. Being alive at this very moment of climate chaos brings with it a role and a responsibility for each of us. Whatever our passion, if we view it through the lens of the climate crisis, we can help build solutions and slow down the runaway train we are on. We need artists, musicians, teachers accountants, biologists, carpenters, engineers – we need everyone and anyone.

Here’s 4 questions and answers that can start the conversation as you talk to your kids about what’s going on.

  1. What is climate change and why is it important?

Climate change is a broad term that refers to long term changes in climate, including average temperature and precipitation.

Global Warming is the increase of the Earth’s average surface temperature, due to a buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

  1. What are the effects of climate change and is this extreme heat part of climate change?

The effects of our climate emergency include extreme weather events (stronger and more powerful storms) sea level rise, rising temperatures, more wildfires, ocean acidification and warming, the wider spread of vector born disease, health impacts like increased asthma and breathing related problems, more powerful  forms of poison Ivy and the spread of Lyme disease. Climate scientists tell us that our extreme heat – breaking day time temperatures with regularity –  and in particular the evening heat records – and the fact that temperatures don’t cool down at night like they use to, are all signs of human created climate change in action. Our planet is overheating and trying to tell us she is out of balance; we need to listen and hear what she has to say. 

  1. Why does an increase of only one or two degrees make a big difference?

To paraphrase climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe, the planets temperature is as stable as that of the human body, and has been stable for thousands of years, since the last ice age; that’s how our human community has been able to develop, evolve and prosper. But we know that if our body’s temperature goes up 1.5-2 degrees, we go to the doctor. If our temperature goes up 3 or 4 degrees we go to the hospital. This is what’ happening to our planet. It is running a fever. That fever is affecting us. It is creating huge changes to our planet, on a planetary scale, and that hasn’t happened before in such a short time period.

  1. Do we have time to fix this?

Scientists, who study climate breakdown tell us we still have time, but that we don’t have a lot of time. The door is closing, it’s spring loaded, so we need to move quickly.

For more detailed answers and options for talking to your kids, order How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change, Turning Angst into Action, today! Find it wherever books are sold, including:

Yours,

 

Climate Mama

For a good explanation of the current heatwave in the Pacific North West, take a look at the June 30th Guardian article by Eric Holthaus, How Did a Small Town in Canada become one of the Hottest Places on Earth which provides some useful background.

Drought Photo by redcharlie on Unsplash

Posted in CLIMATE MAMA FEATURES, Climate Mama News, Disasters, Do Something Wednesdays, In The News, Science | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

On Sunday, June 20th  – Father’s Day in the USA –  an intergenerational gathering of folks from across the country will set off for an 8 day walk  from President Biden’s birthplace of Scranton, PA, culminating on June 28th in his hometown of Wilmington, DE; quite the Father’s Day present for a very powerful father!

The website for the 2021 Walk tells us that:  “In 2013, a multi-generational group of climate activists walked from Camp David, Maryland to Washington, DC – their goal – to tell then President Obama and other policy makers that we must keep the majority of fossil fuels in the ground.

Now, in 2021, many of the same elders are being  joined by young people concerned about the urgency of our climate crisis and are walking again to demand climate action from President Biden.  While recognizing that President Biden has promised bold actions to address the climate crisis, his current proposals, while important, are inadequate to address the scope of our climate emergency.

By walking in the summer of 2021, the participants want to remind the Biden Administration and others that their love for their families and their futures requires a rapid, uncompromising transition away from the unhealthy, unsafe extraction and burning of fossil fuels while embracing renewable energy, especially solar and wind power. A $2-trillion Biden Administration infrastructure and climate action proposal is moving toward a vote in Congress, this summer. Those walking support a much stronger, more realistic approach in the Green New Deal/Thrive Agenda and the developing Red, Black, and Green New Deal promoted by the Movement for Black Lives.”

Below is a story by one of the walkers, Ted Glick –  a good friend of ClimateMama and one of the Walk organizers. Ted wrote this post on May 28th:

Walking For Our Grandchild

By Ted Glick

A little more than three weeks from now, my wife Jane Califf and I will head west to Scranton, Pa. to join with others in the eight-day, 2021 Walk For Our Grandchildren and Mother Earth: Elders and Youth on the Road to Climate Justice. The Walk begins in Scranton on June 20, Father’s Day, and will end in Wilmington, De. on June 28. On that day we will take nonviolent direct action at a major corporate headquarters of Chase Bank, the world’s leading financial supporter of the fossil fuel industry.

Eight years ago I helped to organize the 2013 Walk For Our Grandchildren, from Camp David in Maryland to the White House via Harpers Ferry. That one ended with about 60 people being arrested at the offices of Energy Resources Management, the greenwashing company that did the KXL oil pipeline’s official environmental impact statement.

Many of the people who I met and walked with in 2013 ended up joining together the next year to take nonviolent direct action at the headquarters of FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, out of which emerged the organization Beyond Extreme Energy. BXE is still going strong, supporting frontline groups fighting new fracked gas infrastructure and advocating with increasing effectiveness for FERC to be replaced by FREC, a Federal Renewable Energy Commission.

For Jane and me this year’s Walk will have one very big difference: as distinct from back then, today we are actual grandparents. Earlier this month, with the pandemic thankfully receding, we spent time in Montana with four month old grandson Rio and our son and daughter-in-law, and unsurprisingly, we fell deeply in love with him.

It helps to personalize why we are working and struggling and fighting, day after day, for a very different future than the one we are facing absent very big societal changes.

Please Visit Ted’s website to read his post in its entirety.

All are welcome to join for a day, an hour or the entire Walk. More information on the schedule and how to join can be found on the Walk website.

Check back with us and follow along on social media, as we and others report on the walkers events and updates under the hashtag #2021walkforourgrandchildren.  If you are on Facebook, you can also keep up with the walkers on the Walk Facebook page  here. 

As Climate Mamas and Papas, we all find our own, unique and powerful ways to bring attention to the climate emergency and the urgency required to address it. Coming together with others who feel the same way as we do is something we have been missing greatly this past year as the global pandemic took hold. As we in the USA are coming out of the COVID 19 crisis, coming together, in person, to raise attention to the ongoing pandemic of the climate crisis feels right and powerful. We know many other parents and grandparents around the world would love to be joining us but are still in the midst and darkness of the Covid pandemic; we do this walk for them and because of them, their children, their grandchildren and of course, our Mother Earth. We at ClimateMama are honored to be supporters of the 2021 Walk for Our Grandchildren and Mother Earth. Please follow along, join in if you can, and also, if you are able to, please support the walkers along the way by donating here.

Yours,

 

Climate Mama

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

Photo Credit: H. Shugarman, 7/2011

My first of more than a dozen blog posts on the Alberta oil sands and the Keystone XL pipeline was written in July of 2011. Since then, close to half a dozen of our posts have begun with:  “Keystone XL is dead.” I’ve heard of cats with nine lives, but pipelines? I do believe however, that the public announcement on June 9th, 2021, by the pipeline company and the Alberta government (which by the way had recently invested over $1 billion dollars in the pipeline) that states that they are formally pulling the plug on the pipeline –  is the final nail in its coffin.  A wide and varied group of activists, environmentalists, indigenous leaders, ranchers, parents, grandparents, scientists and more, have spent over 10 years of concerted efforts to block and stop the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline – never give up has new meaning!!

Here is a quick historical refresher – from my perspective –  about why THIS particular pipeline galvanized the small but growing US Climate Movement in the mid 2000’s and really launched the more than a decade long coordinated anti fossil fuel infrastructure battles that continue actively across multiple states and in communities across the country. This particular  pipeline has served as a “hot political potato” across many presidential campaigns and terms – there by bringing attention to fossil fuel infrastructure that previously had gone under the radar.  President Obama first allowed this particular pipeline to move forward then he “cancelled it” at the end of his second term because of public pressure.  President Trump green lighted this particular pipeline in his first days in office and President Biden cancelled the permit that would have allowed it to be built on his first day in office.

Credit: Creative Commons/Flickr Tar Sands Action

Why did this become such a significant symbol and also a partisan fight over the climate crisis? The Keystone XL pipeline which was to traverse the US – beginning in northern Canada at the Canadian Oil Sands and ending in the Gulf of Mexico at oil refineries in Texas and Louisiana, was the first  nationally coordinated effort by the US climate movement to stop a major fossil fuel infrastructure project. Its success in bringing people together from all walks and corners of life,  served as a launching pad for local actions against fossil fuel infrastructure that continue to this day. Since then, ongoing oil pipeline fights like the current Line 3 fight in Minnesota, the Standing Rock Dakota Access pipeline fight, and the ongoing fight against the Byhalia pipeline have focused a national lens on local actions to fight oil and it’s infrastructure – and often and always the climate justice issues that are glaring and damaging parts of these proposed projects. While some of the oil from these pipelines is to be refined in the US, it is all traded as an international commodity and as such, may or may not even but used as energy within our country – ie the intended export focus of the oil that was to travel through the Keystone XL.

“Serendipity: the phenomenon of finding valuable things not sought for.”

There are many personal stories around the Keystone XL.  Mine began in the summer of 2011, in Fort McMurray, Alberta – the northern Alberta city that is the “gateway” to the Canadian oil sands. Visiting the Canadian oil sands was a birthday gift from my brother and his husband; an opportunity to see for myself the beating heart and the major source of Canadian oil.  I had grown up in Alberta, and everyone I knew growing up had some connection – even tangentially – to the oil industry. The oil industry provided a solid livelihood to many families and energy for millions the world over. Growing up, the connection between Alberta oil and the climate crisis was not discussed, nor its full extent, even realized; even to this day, the connections are muddied, and the reality of the damage being done by the oil mined and shipped from Alberta is underplayed ore in many circle, outright denied.  Back to my story. When I was in Fort McMurray, I received an email from some folks with 350.org, encouraging concerned people across the US to join them in Washington, DC for a “peaceful protest” , and for those who were willing, to take part in a non-violent direct action that could risk arrest. The pipeline was being called the fuse to the biggest carbon BOMB in the world, and there was, at the source. Serendipitous? You tell me?

I decided then and there that I would answer the call and show up in late August in Washington DC to take part in protests that would result in over 1250 arrests over the course of 2 weeks. While I might have thought it possible, I didn’t realize then I would be one of the 60 or so people arrested the third day of the protest actions. At the time, I wondered what I would tell my children, who were then 12 and 13. Did I want my kids to know that I felt so strongly about their future that I was willing to get arrested to protect it? There was only one answer, and that was definitely, YES!

My extended family thinks of me as the “unlikely environmentalist.” I grew up appreciating the outdoors, yet not particularly conscious of my carbon footprint. In fact until a few years ago I have to say I wasn’t really aware of the size of this, let alone what went into calculating it.  While my family and I  work on treading as lightly as we can on our planet, I know that I could spend all my time on this and not change the systemic systems in place that keep us addicted to fossil fuels. I feel my time is best spent doing what I can to elevate the discussion, understanding and demands from those that can go big to do so!  At the time, I hoped that my kids would be proud of me, and that this action would build on my legacy of actions to try to raise awareness to the growing reality of our climate emergency, threatening my children’s future and mine. My hope was to wake up my neighbors, friends, colleagues and total strangers by showing them that a mom of two ‘tweens thinks that these risks are worth whatever it takes. After visiting the oil sands, myself, I realized that stopping production from that end is highly unlikely unless the price of oil plummets or public pressure grows so much that if forces the hands of government to intervene. While it only took 10 years, it seems perseverance pays off!

Here are a few links to posts I wrote at the time of our early protests, both during the two weeks of arrest (including how one prepares for getting arrested) as well as from later that fall, when we returned to DC as a family to join thousands of others and “circle the White House” giving then President Obama a big “hug” and reminding him, parent to parent, how important it was he said no to Keystone. He did do so shortly thereafter; but rather than permanently rejecting it, he effectively “kicked the can down the road.” We continued, and my story with Keystone XL continued over the ensuing years – protests in NYC, in DC, in NJ and in-between.  Clearly “it’s complicated” but we need to make it less so. Science tells us and Mother Nature is showing us we must stop burning and mining all fossil fuels now. We can do this, the transition has begun. We must do this. Our children’s future and now depends on saying no to all new pipelines and fossil fuel infrastructure and managing our transitions to renewables. We must call for a halt to all new fossil fuel infrastructure –  no if’s ands or buts…

Yours in protest and solidarity,

 

Harriet

Posted in Climate Mama News, fracking and pipelines, In The News, Renewable Energy, Take a Stand: Action & Advocacy | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment