Tag Archives: climate change

Protesting Line-3 in the Twin Cities

“We have 10,000 lakes but do not care about the water that’s in them.”

Two things most people know about the state of Minnesota are the winters, and the number of lakes this state holds—10,000 to be exact. However, is it a lake if it does not have any water? Or worse if it’s contaminated by oil?

Two-thousand people decided to do something to prevent those two situations from happening to our state.

Those people included, “local elected officials, members of Treaty People Walk for Water who walked 256 miles along the pipeline route, and community leaders from across the state.”

These people in our community are protesting to stop the construction of the $3- billion oil pipeline plan called Line 3. This line is a 340-mile pipeline that travels up to Canada and breaks tribal sovereignty and overlaps on land that Indigenous people use to hunt and gather.

So, what’s the solution? To turn a blind eye and sacrifice our lakes or to find a solution that will ensure future generations to have a safe climate to live in.

There might not be an exact solution but there are actions we can take today that could change the outcome. If we turn a blind slide, we are inviting people to believe we do not care about the planet we live on or those who will occupy this place after us.

Things you can do right now:

Share, share, and share. Make sure the people continuing to express their voices in protest are being heard. Nothing gets done if no one knows about, and if no one is willing to work for it.

Get involved. Not only do you have the chance to attend protests to fight this battle, but the opportunity to inspire people in your community to do their part as well.

Resources to help you get started:

https://www.indigenousclimateaction.com/

https://www.stopline3.org/#intro

Tonight’s Clean Grilling Brought to You by Molecules of U.S. Freedom!

To really know me is to know my main three passions: 1) My 12-year-old daughter, she’s my amazing and caring sidekick through life’s adventures – be they picking rocks, working in the yard, or even holding heated political debates with friends and family. 2) Pollinators and fighting everything that is pro-green grass lawn related (including many heated political debates with friends and family. 3) POLITICS! No secret here – I’m as liberal as they come, with an ACLU sticker on my front door (surprise, this also includes many heated political debates with friends and family. And people online. And strangers in line at the store. And on and on and on).

So, let’s talk about that fantastic new clean fossil fuel – Freedom Gas! https://www.energy.gov/articles/department-energy-authorizes-additional-lng-exports-freeport-lng

If you aren’t familiar with the concept, on May 28th, 2019, the United States Department of Energy (DOE), approved a large expansion to the amount of natural gas that the United States (US) exports to the rest of the world. The official release from DOE includes the following (see link for complete statement), “Increasing export capacity…is critical to spreading freedom gas throughout the world by giving America’s allies a diverse and affordable source of clean energy…There’s no doubt today’s announcement furthers this Administration’s commitment to promoting energy security and diversity worldwide.”

My oh my…where to start? Freedom Gas is a methane-based fuel. Methane does have a shorter lifetime than CO2, BUT methane has over 80 times more affect as a greenhouse gas than CO2 – this makes methane a MUCH greater cause of the greenhouse gases which cause climate change.

Natural gas is a “cleaner” burning fuel than oil and coal. In 2004, natural gas emissions accounted for 5.3 billion tons of atmospheric CO2, coal and oil accounted for 10.6 and 10.2 billion tons each respectively. By 2030, at current rates natural gas will be 11 billion tons, while coal and oil will be 8.4 and 17.2 billion tons each (https://www.ipcc.ch/assessment-report/ar4/). Just how “clean” is “cleaner”??

The fact that a non-renewable fossil fuel is being referred to as a clean source of energy in an official US Government document continues to show the current administration’s blatant disregard of scientific facts and its desire to fill the pockets of some of their highest contributing donners – the fossil fuel industries. As an entity that serves to protect our country and its resources, the recent administration’s broad stance has been to roll back as many environmental protections as possible to benefit these large industries. On a side note, the New York Times has just published an updated recap on actions against environmental rules the administration is actively working against: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/climate/trump-environment-rollbacks.html

It is a proven scientific truth that greenhouse gas emissions are causing critical climate change. Having an administration in place that has a goal of making more money for big industry (no matter what the cost is to our world) and rolling it out under the guise of spreading “molecules of U.S. Freedom” is beyond shameful. If you aren’t now, you need to start acting against these politicians. Contacting your representatives is just one small step in the right direction. #resistbot

Honestly – Option A or Option B(ee)?

Seriously…honestly tell me which option sounds better: A) cranking up your smoke belching monster of a mower to keep up with the Jones’s next door to see which of you can create the most greenhouse gases possible, pollute our water supplies, and contribute BILLIONS of dollars to a lawn industry that results in only causing damage to the environment and your pocket book or B) spending the afternoon lounging in your green lawn, feeling the soft carpet of clover beneath your feet, maybe finding a four leaf clover or two, and knowing in the back of your mind that you are making the right decision to keep your property in a pollinator friendly matter that also happens to be a huge benefit in keeping green house gas emissions in check? I know my answer…

In my previous blog post https://mdst485class.wordpress.com/2019/05/21/yep-im-that-neighbor/ , I discussed the importance of switching lawns back to their native prairie status for a variety of reasons. Currently, I am part of a group project focusing on climate change, specifically what behaviors can individuals do to reduce their impact of greenhouse gases on the environment. While researching I came upon this article: https://healthylandethic.com/2012/10/03/the-unbearable-ubiquitousness-of-mowing/. It discusses many of the values of leaving your lawn in a native state. Did you know that Americans use 800 million gallons of gas annually on their lawns alone (the average lawnmower emits as much greenhouse gas as FORTY cars running for just one hour?), over $5.2 billion in fertilizers that come form fossil fuels, and over $700 million in pesticides? Also, two-thirds of the drinking water consumed in the U.S. is used on lawn watering. This doesn’t even go into the damage that lawns do to our critical pollinator populations. A lush “perfect” green lawn is one of the greatest acts of unsustainability that there is.

Please forgive my rant – but these are issues of importance to me. People have often viewed my opinions as being on the outside of traditional lawn ideas. However, things are beginning to change, and individuals are showing an increased desire to preserve pollinators and their habitats (and at the same time make an impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions). An encouraging sign of this has been the State of Minnesota recently passing a spending plan to assist homeowners in restoring their lawns to native habitats: http://www.startribune.com/program-pays-minnesota-homeowners-to-let-their-lawn-go-to-the-bees/510593382/?refresh=true . Full details of how the plan will be allocated are still to be determined, but grants should be available for the spring of 2020.

The Minnesota spending bill is a major step in pushing these issues out into the forefront of the public view. I am involved personally in many local and national pollinator/prairie groups and there is a great interest in the spending bill. There have been tens of thousands of hits, links, comments, and posts online since it passed earlier this week. On an interesting side note, I have received a couple dozen DMs from people I only know as an online ID asking if I have information on the program. Also, as of this morning, over 35 of my personal friends (many of who have accused me of being a bit militant on these subjects), have reached out to me as well about it.

There is still a long way to go, but it feels good on a personal level to see such a sudden burst of interest from the mainstream on a subject I’ve been involved with for a while now. And if you need my answer – option A is the way I go every time (when I’m not working on working on creating more prairie in my yard).

We Should ALL be Feminists

Feminism: the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.

This seems like a simple enough concept yet in many circles the word feminism has become a dirty word. I have read articles that use it as a derogatory term, that have claimed feminism has been the downfall of western civilization, and that have accused feminists of hating men. I have read women claim to not be feminists because they want to stay home with their children, as if feminism means all women have to work and put their kids in daycare. That isn’t what it means. It very simply means that they should have the choice to stay at home or to enter the workforce and that if they do enter the workforce, they should have equality in pay and opportunities for promotion. Inequalities in the United States are not as pervasive as they are in some parts of the world, but they still persist. Below shows the pay gap by state as of 2016.

gender pay gap

Continue reading We Should ALL be Feminists

It’s Time to Save the World

“Is my English OK? Is the microphone on?” asked Greta Thunberg, in one of her most recent addresses. “Because I’m beginning to wonder.”

Laughter from the audience.

It wasn’t a joke. No one seems to be listening.

Nine years ago, when I was Greta’s age, I wasn’t aware. I wasn’t politically, globally, socially, environmentally aware. I wasn’t aware of what our biggest problems were–or that I, as a kid, could do anything about it, even if I did know what was happening in the world.

Nine years ago, I was LARPing (live-action role playing). For those who don’t know, LARP is a game wherein you create a character for yourself, dress up in costume, and run around in the woods at night, fighting faux villains with foam sticks. It’s like playing make-believe in the backyard when you were little, but on a larger scale, with maybe a better production value.

LARP comes in a number of forms, but the game I played was mostly like Dungeons & Dragons. It was a fantasy game. Swords and sorcery. Lightning bolts. Storming the castle. All of that.

While I knew that the events in the game weren’t “real” and that the character I played wasn’t “real,” they always felt important. They felt bigger than the small “reality” I actually lived in. I often felt that my character was better than me. She was stronger, prettier, freer. She had more goodness in her; more to give. I wanted to be like her in real life.

This disconnect–the idea that my character was false and somehow separate from me–affected my growth in a number of ways. I could write a book on it. There’s a lot to unpack. But the point here is that even after I managed to quit the game, I had a hard time developing an idea of who I was without that character.

Recently, with the changing of the seasons, I was hit by a wave of nostalgia. It would be the start of LARP season now, if I was still playing.

I’m still sorting through it, but one of the things that finally occurred to me was that I could be like the heroic character I used to play. I already was like her. She came from me.

But there were still situational differences, systematic differences between that character’s world and mine, dragging me down.

I posted this on Facebook:

larp

And, only days later, the sentiment was echoed by somebody else:

dnd

I’ve been flailing for a solution. Something I could do to help the environment, and reconcile the reality of my apparent helplessness with the idea of once having played at being someone courageous and able to create change.

In this video, Jane Goodall advises people to act locally. “Quite honestly,” she says, “if you think globally, you get depressed.” Break it down, then. Start with what you know you can do. Do something. Even if it might seem small. “We’re all interconnected.”

I’ve been worrying myself sick. I woke up today with a sore throat, and a headache, presumably from my newfangled teeth grinding habit. In an anxious, somewhat dissociated haze, I drove to the store for some groceries, just to get out of the house. Everywhere, meat and dairy. Things packaged in plastic. Delicious things that I only felt bad about craving. I bought one of those chocolate bars that claims to help endangered species, and felt doubtful about its impact, but I hoped.

On my way home, it seemed like all I could see was trash. Scattered along the side of the road, accumulating in the ditches, washed up along the curb. Plastic bags blowing in the wind and caught up in bushes.

Enough is enough.

I found a metal stick–one of those garden hooks for hanging bird feeders or little candle pots–and I filed the end to a point on my dad’s bench grinder. I walked across the street to the park outside my house, and I attacked the garbage in the rain garden. I chased it through the foliage, piercing it with my makeshift rapier, collecting its remains.

Maybe this will help.

57462770_1219316581559526_7888293684960034816_n
Photo by Robert Stuart Lowden

I’m an adventurer. It’s my job.

And for all the shitheads out there who consume without thinking, and leave their trash lying around; for the people who continue to make a mess of the world, I have just one message:

58933430_10218647447926135_8483253600141705216_n

Kids Care…Do You?

My 16-year old daughter texted me this morning letting me know she was likely participating in a walk-out from school. This did not surprise me, she’s walked out to join protests before in support of Black Lives Matter and/or in protest of police brutality. She has taken part in a push for her former middle school to change its name (which it did!) and protested a dress code that she viewed as sexist, leading to discussions with school administration on a more equitable dress code. This time when I asked her what for she simply said, “the environment.” I then heard rumblings at work that students from one of our other high schools were all leaving after 2nd period and heading to the capitol building to participate in the International Youth Climate Strike event. So, I googled exactly what that was.

How did I not hear about this prior to this morning? Has my head been in the clouds? Have I been too distracted by work, school, and my flooded basement? How has this world-wide strike been coordinated and the first I hear of it is when my teenager texts me that she is joining it? Granted, I do not use Snapchat or whatever other apps the younger generation are using. I am “old,” so I use Facebook. The Guardian is giving live updates showing strikes, marches, and protests from around the world. There is a float of 16-year-old Nobel peace prize nominee Greta Thunberg in Sweden. There are kids in school uniforms protesting outside of parliament in Cape Town, South Africa. The protests in London took local police by surprise as they headed towards Buckingham Palace and chanted “we want change” in front of the Queen’s residence.  You can read the live updates here.

This movement, the way that the strikes were organized, and their central push to create “system change, not climate change” is tied in so well to what Manuel Castells speaks about in his book “Networks of Outrage and Hope.” In this article by Sophie Sleeman she talks about how this social movement is forming via social media and how social movements like this are “redefining political space and challenging the idea that social media platforms are only uncontrollable forces beyond our control.” Instead, she declares, they are being used to change the world.

Students in Ukraine hold signs that say, “Make My Planet Great Again” and “Don’t Burn Our Future.” In Poland, a large polluter, they hold signs that say, “Without plastic it’s fantastic.” In London they went heavy on the signage with some of them questioning why they are being forced to study for a future they will not even have if climate change continues at the rate it currently is.

London school climate strikes

What is it going to take to get the adults in positions of leadership to act with the urgency our youth is demanding? We cannot take small, incremental steps towards change or continue to act like it is something that can wait for the next decade, the next administration, or the next legislative session to tackle. Scientists around the world agree that we are either at or near a point of no return related to climate change. Some argue that we can no longer stop a 2-degree increase in global warming, and instead argue we need to do everything in our power to mitigate going beyond that. Others are still hoping we can stop it at 1.5 degrees although now that the U.S. has pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement, as one of the largest consumers in the world, I am not sure how likely that is.

Our youth, our kids, our grand-kids will be the ones who will see and live through the effects of the decisions that we are making right now. Aside from taking on these tips for reducing our own carbon footprint, we need to consider a person’s views on environmental policy when deciding who to vote for, put pressure on elected officials already in office, and vote those out who are not voting in the best interest of this earth’s future. Saving this planet must start with us, our kids are begging us – will we listen?

 

Self-Preservation Anyone?

In an upcoming report from a United Nations panel about the science of climate change, scientists reiterate that human activity is one of the causes of climate change. For some, the report underscores a message they have been saying for decades: climate change is happening and we need to do something about it.

The report isn’t an isolated discussion of the issue. In a recent HBO / VICE  documentary: The World is Sinking ,  for instance, director Shane Smith and the VICE team looked at some of the problems resulting from climate change.

Sir. Robert Watson, a professor of environmental sciences at Tyndall College at the University of East Anglia and the former Senior Scientific Adviser to the World Bank, discussed the range of consequences with the filmmakers.

“We’re clearly seeing changes in temperature. We’re clearly seeing changes in precipitation patterns with more droughts and more floods, ” he said. ” We are seeing sea level rise. Once you get to half a meter, one meter, one and a half meters; then these are quiet serious events for many parts of the world, potentially displacing large numbers of people in coastal areas, low-laying deltaic areas, small island states, etc. Small island states are really quite threatened.”

The findings of the upcoming U.N. report lend support Sir Watson’s claims. In fact, the consensus of  the mainstream science of climate change agrees on a troubling formula ” If the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere doubles, which is well on its way to happening, the long-term rise in the temperature of the earth will be at least 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, but more likely above 5 degrees.”

It’s important to note that the drafters of this report also had data from outlier science which claimed that “[t]he rise (in temperature) could come in well below 3 degrees.” After reviewing the data, drafters of this report chose to treat the outlier science conclusion as not very credible.

Whatever the case, one thing is certain: climate change is happening. In the interest of self-preservation, humanity better start addressing the issue as soon as possible.

Source:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MX78GPAuOik

www.nytimes.com/2013/09/10/science/a-climate-alarm-too-muted-for-some.html?_r=0

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/20/science/earth/extremely-likely-that-human-activity-is-driving-climate-change-panel-finds.html?pagewanted=all

http://tyndall.ac.uk/people/robert-watson