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The Great March for Climate Action

December 23, 2013 – Have you heard about The Great March for Climate Action?I just learned about it today.Organizers have determined it will take them 246 days to march from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C.They are looking for 1,000 people – 20 from each state – to participate.The march is stopping in many, many locations along the way so that locals can participate for as little as a day, or as long as they like.
The march is Ed Fallon’s brainchild.Ed, along with most of his staff members, is from Iowa, where he served as a state legislator for fourteen years.He currently hosts a radio program called Fallon Forum.Fallon began his career as a social activist coordinating the Iowa section of the Great Peace March in 1986.  Ed bases his approach on Great Marches of the past.  Women suffragists marched on Washington on March 3, 1913; Gandhi led the Salt March in India on March 12, 1930; Dr. King led the voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery on March 25, 1965; and a Great Peace Mar…

Where We Stand - 2013

December 16, 2013 – The end of the year is a time for taking stock, so that’s what we’ll do today.To a large degree, I will simply be lifting information from an article that first appeared online in Climate Progress. There’s a lot to talk about, and really very little analysis warranted; the facts speak for themselves, and very loudly, too.None of the news is good - we appear to have much in common with the proverbial deer caught in the headlights.
CO2 levels hit 400 ppm– the highest level in recorded history.This fact notwithstanding, Americans rejoice in being told that our country is once again energy independent, thanks to the fracking of oil and gas.At the current pace of increase, there will be 450 ppm within three decades, which will drive catastrophic climate change.
Hotter, faster– In its fifth assessment report, released this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) determines that the world as a whole will be 7 degrees F. warmer by 2100.The United States w…

The Kindest Cut of All

December 10, 2013 – Picking up where we left off last week, businesses at the leading edge of climate change understanding have discovered that the cost of climate change inaction is greater than the cost of grappling with climate change.No surprise to climatologists, this is a concept badly in need of promulgation.The response in Washington is and will always be, but where do we find the money?The answer is simple.No one wants to be the first (or second, or third) to say it out loud, but it has to be said.The money will, and must, be taken out of the defense budget.Smaller percentages will come from entitlements’ budgets.These are all tough pills to swallow, but the alternative is unimaginably worse.
The defense budget currently stands at $530 billion, not including any ongoing wars.That number needs to be cut dramatically, and it needs to be cut right away.Halving the defense budget within five years would afford the United States $265 billion per year with which to mitigate climate …

Mutually-Assured Survival

December 2, 2013 – If such a thing is possible, I think countries have grown bored with their own inertia vis-à-vis slowing climate change.The sense one gets, in reading about the lack of progress at yet another Cop Conference is that, unless the next meeting is held in a place and at a time when a Haiyan-sized typhoon will disrupt the proceedings, very little will get done any time soon.Since climate change is generally perceived as a time-sensitive issue, I present this as further evidence of our world’s self-inflicted dysfunction.
Can businesses do what nations cannot?Peter Bakker, president of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), says that yes, businesses (plural) can and must come together to collaborate on a mutual agenda designed to slow climate change and, simultaneously, develop renewable energy.The Council was much in evidence in Warsaw, sponsoring its own conference of member companies and organizational participants during the Cop Conference.Two h…

Troubling Inconsistencies

November 26, 2013 - Just about a year ago, Bill McKibben took to the road in a sustainably-fueled bus, intent upon provoking actions in the board room and the classroom opposing dirty energy.McKibben told students they had more power than they knew, and could speak truth to power in guiding their institutions of higher learning to divest themselves of shares of stock belonging to petroleum companies.Then he went even further, suggesting to university students that civil disobedience could turn these same companies into a focal point for political action.Did he convince them?
It would appear so.According to Chloe Maxmin, a junior at Harvard and a leader of Divest Harvard, “Students have organized divestment groups on about 400 campuses.”She expressed the conviction that American government has been “taken over by the fossil fuel industry.”Due to that supremacy, “we’re going to pressure the fossil-fuel industry itself.”Sadly, Harvard is first among equals in rejecting the divestment mo…

The BOMA Story

A woman by the name of Kathleen Colson has been leading trips to Kenya for more than 25 years.President of her own company, African Safari Planners, Colson’s ties to the country run deep.In 2005, M.P. Joseph Lekuton asked Colson, a long-time friend, to accompany him on a trip to Northern Kenya.The pastoral homelands in this part of Kenya have been devastated by severe and recurring drought, the result of climate change.Lekuton knew that once Colson had seen the irreparable harm herself, she’d be motivated to act.
Lekuton was right.For the next two years, Kathleen returned time and again to Laisamis District in Northern Kenya, with Lekuton’s aide Kura Omar acting as her guide and translator.His was important work, because Colson was there to listen.In countless villages, she learned about challenges the women faced when their husbands took livestock herds farther and farther away, looking for places to graze.She heard their suggestions, and about previously tried programs that had fai…

Jack's a Dull Boy

September 19, 2013 - I find myself in need of time to air out my brain.  After nearly 5 years of writing this blog, it feels as though I've said everything I want to say.    While I don't think that's really true, I do think a hiatus is just what the doctor ordered.  So I'm going to relax by the fireplace and eat chocolate bon-bon's for awhile.  Take time to harass the Republican of your choice, and never give up.  If you feel like giving up, follow my example and take a break.  It will do you a world of good. - Best, Vicki

Time for a Little Reinvention

September 5, 2013 – Imagine you are a member of a group that consists of 1,300 people.You have all been given an important task to complete.In order to enhance the group’s functionality, you are divided up into smaller groups.A work schedule has been laid out, with small groups reporting to the heads of each group, and small group heads reporting to the director of the entire project.Because group members live in different countries, a great deal of communication is handled via email.Because group members are not paid for their work, it must somehow be fit into already busy schedules.
This is my abbreviated, concocted idea of how the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) works.Every six or seven years, the IPCC is mandated by the United Nations to issue a report defining global climate risks.This year’s report is due out later this month in Stockholm.Partly as a result of their expert analysis, climate changescience is now widely accepted.The overall picture has become much …

A Future with Fewer of Us in It

September 13, 2013 – There are now almost countless articles, scientific studies, and books about climate change, many of them dealing with how the world will have changed as a result of climate change.Many of them give reason for hope, perhaps even more reason for consternation.All are good at describing various causes and effects as if they were happening in isolation from one another.Very few bother to mention that, no matter what life is like in a climatically-changed world, it will be lived in the midst of utterly wretched weather.It’s not that some things will be harder to do.Everything will be much, much harder to do.
When I get out my crystal ball and try to imagine what life will be like during the latter half of the twenty-first century, I feel pretty confident about one thing.While it should be a surprise to no one, it’s hard to put into words, due to its sheer awfulness.Millions of people will die.(You may need to reread that sentence several times.It says so much in so f…

Back to the Future

August 29, 2013 – Since growing green manure makes such great sense, I finally decided to incorporate it into my permaculture approach to growing veggies.Unfortunately, I didn’t know that hairy vetch – my green manure of choice – doesn’t fix nitrogen in the soil until spring.I’ll be piling leaves and pine straw on top of the hairy vetch in November, so this time around I’ll only gain the organic vegetative matter, moisture retaining capacity, and soil aerating qualities of the vetch.Still, I look forward to the day when I can allow the vetch to grow to full maturity.
The reason for that is that cover crops, i.e. green manure, fix enough nitrogen to fertilize one year’s entire crop of even a heavy feeder like corn.In fact, last year the average cover-cropping corn farmer in Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas enjoyed an average yield of 122 bushels per acre, despite the drought.Those not employing a cover crop grew only 106 bushels per acre, on average.That’s according to the Natural …

EPA: The Way It Was

August 26, 2013 – Time was when I thought of the EPA as the good guys.Industry – the bad guys – would once again imperil the water we drink, or the air that we breathe, and the EPA would ride to the rescue.Something happened ( I believe it’s described as the Bush II administration), and the EPA began to excel at twiddling their thumbs, and little else.Though twiddling may have lost its luster, I’m still not sure their hearts are really into protecting the environment.
Case in point: the new regulations issued by the EPA last week that will reduce air pollution created by “fracked” wells.But, you say, isn’t it the EPA’s job to issue those very regulations?Indeed it is, I reply.Everyone knows that’s their job, except – apparently – the EPA.Otherwise, why did the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia have to order them to take action?Yup.You see, the Environmental Protection Agency is tasked by law with reviewing pollution standards once every eight years.I know you’ll find thi…

Congressional Hearing: Whadja Say?

August 22, 2013 – During the past two years, Henry Waxman (D-CA), Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member, andBobby Rush (D-IL), Energy and Power Subcommittee ranking member, have sent 21 letters requesting a hearing on climate change and the latest science bearing on the issue.Recipients Fred Upton (R-MI) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman and Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman, respectively, have steadfastly ignored these requests.The one exception occurred in March of this year, at which time Waxman and Rush received a response.
Upton and Whitfield have now scheduled what is being called a “major hearing” on climate change for September 18.The leaders of 13 federal agencies have been invited to testify, among them Gina McCarthy of the EPA, Ernest Moniz of the Dept. of Energy, Chuck Hagel of the Defense Dept., and State Dept. Secretary John Kerry.Each letter of invitation asks nine questions about the amount of time, money and resources dev…

The Hotter It Gets, The Hotter It Gets

August 19, 2013 – Back in the halcyon days of warnings about a far off event called climate change (as opposed tothe actual occurrence of climate change, which is what we’re stuck with now), Americans were warned that if certain tendencies in the climate asserted themselves, they would encourage the climate’s unpredictability, thereby leading to more change.When an action leads to results that reinforce the original action, a feedback loop has been established.Say, for instance, that a student who dislikes school because he gets poor grades, decides that because of his disliking school he’d rather play soccer with friends than study for a test.The consequences are quite predictable: because he doesn’t study for the test, he performs poorly on the test, leading to an even greater dislike of school.That’s a feedback loop.
In the early days, right after World War II, all that scientists knew was that the earth was warming.Because everyone they told wanted to know why our planet was gettin…

When It Hits the Fan

August 15, 2013 - Our behavior continues to indicate that we believe ourselves to be in control of our world.Not to pick on the president, but he’s just announced plans for updating the electric grid.The reason he’s doing that is that, just as the vast majority of Americans are unable to imagine a world without electricity, neither can he.Or maybe he can, and that’s the problem: people sometimes suffer from “kill the messenger” syndrome, and he absolutely does not want to be the bearer of that particular piece of bad news.
What most Americans want to believe, of course, is that we can have our cake and eat it, too.Burn coal, but not suffer from the consequences of doing so.Eat food made toxic by RoundUp, but not suffer the consequences of doing so.Drive cars, but not suffer the consequences of doing so.Feed farm animals with GMO foods, but not suffer the consequences of doing so.Drill for oil in the Arctic, but not suffer the consequences of doing so.
What will those consequences one da…

Killing Us Slowly

August 12, 2013 – Are you demanding locally-raised, pasture-fed meats?Do you protect yourself and your family by eating animals raised in a non-industrial environment that doesn’t depend upon the constant administration of low levels of antibiotics?If you do, you’ll be relieved that you do after you read this article.If you don’t, I’m about to give you a lot to think about.
Here’s the deal: animals like pigs and lambs and cows generally know what to eat.Pigs, the little darlings, are omnivorous – like us.Lambs and cows are vegetarians.Allowed a general diet, they pick up all the nutrients they need along the way, including trace minerals.They’re healthy, so you’re healthy.What’s inside of them winds up inside of you.Healthy, happy animals make good food.Make sense?
It takes only a little imagination to surmise what the outcome might be when animals are confined in cramped, filthy quarters and fed monoculture diets of genetically modified (GMO) corn and soy.But I never imagined this: cal…

American At Last

August 8, 2013 – It’s getting a little hot in here, don’t ya think?I mean in the United States, because of all the protesting goin’ on.Unless I’m badly mistaken, it’s starting to look like Americans are really getting mad.From California to Maine, citizens of this blessed country are exercising their rights to freedom of association and freedom of expression.The government, whether it’s state, local, or national, is doing nothing about protecting the environment, and we want it to do something.Americans have finally found their voice.
In California, more than 200 protesters were arrested while they were peacefully demonstrating outside a Chevron refinery that caught on fire a year ago.At least 15,000 residents of Richmond, CA went to the hospital for respiratory complications as a result.(You may have heard that Chevron was fined $2 million after months of failed negotiations between the oil company and Richmond’s City Council.)
In Salmon, Idaho, 19 members of the Nez Perce Tribe were a…