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Archive for the ‘Climate Change’ Category

It’s an unbelievably beautiful morning in Nashville. Crisp, Fall air has arrived along with the sunshine for my birthday. Last night we celebrated under the stars with a Nutella Napoli pizza. I was surrounded by family and everything seemed right with the world.

After all, earlier in the day Bob and I attended a River Talk at the Bridge building. It was hosted by The Cumberland River Compact; for twenty years this non-profit organization has been dedicated to the health and restoration of the river basin, “To enhance the health and enjoyment of the Cumberland River and its tributaries through education, collaboration, and action.”  https://cumberlandrivercompact.org

This particular River Talk was about their latest approach to maintaining the permeable invasive and native plants on the levee. When the Compact took over this job from the Army Corps of Engineers it was pretty wild and had been neglected. After trying a couple of conventional and expensive solutions, they’ve settled on a herd of sheep! A loyal Border Collie named Duggie, slept by his shepherd Zach as we learned all about his sustainable method of property management.

“Sheep are an especially attractive option when clearing steep, rough, swampy or otherwise difficult lots that would pose big obstacles and hazards to human crews with herbicides or motorized equipment.”  http://www.nashvillechewcrew.com

Now y’all know what an animal lover I am, so I was delighted to learn something new about the natural world and how public and private funding can work together in such a beautiful setting. Bob had already met Zach and his sheep on one of his bike rides around town, he spent almost half an hour talking with him and watching Duggie work. Later he told me that I’d love it, that “…it’s an excellent solution to the need!”

Still, when I fired up Twitter this morning after Ms Bean’s walk, I learned that the USNavy Hospital Ship Comfort is still docked in port while less than half of the people in Puerto Rico have potable water. President Clinton had to urge Mr T to deploy the ship, as if he’d forgotten how to govern while Tweeting about footballers #TakingaKnee.

Since then, the call for the Comfort has come to symbolize something larger: A call for the Pentagon to send more.

More food. More water. More generators. More aircraft.

More everything.

My heart goes out to our our friend’s son whose medical education in St Martin has been postponed, to our friends in the French West Indies, and all the people of the British and American Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. To our dear friends in Houston and Florida. This is the exact right time to talk about Climate Change! Our stewardship of the land, sea and air is responsible for such frequent Category 5 hurricanes, and our leader seems to care less about science and more about ratings.

My birthday wish this year is simple. May our grandchildren inherit a healthier planet. Here is the view from the Bridge Building.

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Do you remember your 8th Graders trip to the Nation’s Capital? We lived just three miles away from the ocean, our kids went to Rumson’s middle school where they pretty much lived in shorts and surf tee shorts. But we parents were advised to send our young teens to DC with shirts and ties for the boys, dresses for the girls, because as Mark Twain said, “Clothes make the man (or woman).” The Principal told us that over the years she had found that when students dressed well, their behavior improved…and an overnight trip like this could get a little dicey with all those hormones charging around.

This morning I was reading a list of “Ten Books to read for June” from the BBC website http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20170602-ten-books-to-read-in-june – not that I will be able to read ten books in one month, but I found this title fascinating, “Strange Contagion,” by Lee Daniel Kravitz. “Kravetz gathers research on social contagions – the ways in which others influence our lives by catchable thoughts, emotions and behaviours.” 

Kravitz looked into the Palo Alto suicide clusters of teens throwing themselves onto train tracks in 2009 and again in 2014. I wrote about this and the term “affluenza” in a study published in the Atlantic here: https://mountainmornings.net/2016/01/03/a-study-in-money/

And I’ve had occasion to think about it recently. Not suicide, but social stress, the whole keeping up with somebody syndrome. One friend hires a company to update her closet, and before you know it the whole subdivision is installing custom closets. Men were comparing notes on woodstoves in the Berkshires, in the Blue Ridge they talk about tractors. You’ve heard of the study about how hanging with overweight friends will make you fat, right?

“…the study’s conclusion that if you have heavier friends, family members, and colleagues, it is more likely that you will be heavier, too. The stronger the relationship between the two people, the stronger the link between their weights. But only one of the pathways—number three—explained why people of the same size clustered together. http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-your-friends-make-you-fat—the-social-network-of-weight-201105242666

The three pathways the Harvard study referenced were: 1) Collaboration; 2) Peer Pressure; and 3) Monkey See Monkey Do! So that curious little monkey is responsible for our widening waistlines? How many of us have gone out to dinner with friends and heard, “Well if you’re ordering an appetizer…” or, on the other hand, maybe everyone says “No thanks” to the dessert menu and you refuse it too, even though you’ve been dying for a piece of their famous apple pie!

The need to belong, to fit into a certain cultural place is universal. Whenever we would show family and neighbors the mechanical room in our basement’s “Not so Big” house and its tankless water heater, they would marvel. To think you never run out of hot water, and you save money by not heating up gallons of water that just sits there waiting for you to get into the shower.

I’m hoping beyond hope that social contagion will keep our country on the road to fewer carbon emissions and a sustainable future despite Mr T’s backtracking on the Paris Agreement. I’ve already heard that California and New York are committed to moving forward with green energy, oh and Pittsburgh didn’t like being lumped into Mr T’s speech yesterday either. The NYTimes reports a coalition is forming to proceed anyway, defying Mr T!

The unnamed group — which, so far, includes 30 mayors, three governors, more than 80 university presidents and more than 100 businesses — is negotiating with the United Nations to have its submission accepted alongside contributions to the Paris climate deal by other nations. “We’re going to do everything America would have done if it had stayed committed,” Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor who is coordinating the effort, said in an interview.”  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/01/climate/american-cities-climate-standards.html?_r=0

So catch this thought Mr T, we Americans can dilute your damaging policy and defend Mother Earth. We will not all follow you off that negative/denial cliff, some of us would like to protect our world for future generations. It’s the least and the most we can do. Now if I could just get Bob to buy a Tesla!      IMG_0538

 

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What is your carbon footprint? Do you know what (or who) is the biggest factor in greenhouse gas emissions? This is not a quiz, although this last question was on the GRE I took decades ago.   They are important questions if you are a believer in fact-based science; you understand that human development is responsible for climate change, and climate change is a factor in the migration and extinction of animals, while also contributing to the refugee crisis.

And since you are a believer and want to save the planet, if not for your grandkids then maybe for that condo you bought in Miami, may I suggest you light a candle today in the church of your choice.

Because today Mr T will be signing an Executive Order to dirty the waters around the Clean Power Plan and walk us away from the 2015 Paris Agreement – it’s like Kyoto all-over-again.

President Trump will take the most significant step yet in obliterating his predecessor’s environmental record Tuesday, instructing federal regulators to rewrite key rules curbing U.S. carbon emissions.

The sweeping executive order also seeks to lift a moratorium on federal coal leasing and remove the requirement that federal officials consider the impact of climate change when making decisions.

The order sends an unmistakable signal that just as President Barack Obama sought to weave climate considerations into every aspect of the federal government, Trump is hoping to rip that approach out by its roots.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/trump-moves-decisively-to-wipe-out-obamas-climate-change-record/2017/03/27/411043d4-132c-11e7-9e4f-09aa75d3ec57_story.html?utm_term=.ec3f40a30921

In other words, IF we have any federal regulators left, they will not be asked to look ahead at the big picture when they bring coal back to coal country. This order will also allow drilling on federal land and accelerate fossil-fuel production by lifting President Obama’s cease and desist orders to the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines. Remember all those Native Americans protesting those pipelines, and the Marines who joined them? Well Mr T just showed us what he’s made of, that he values corporate interests over American lives.

When I was growing up in Victory Gardens, we had a coal bin right outside our kitchen. Daddy Jim would shovel the coal into our furnace and toss the ashes outside, somewhere. Whenever we all piled into his little Chevy Impala, I would scream bloody murder to open the windows because both Nell and Jim smoked cigarettes non-stop. Camels I think. That’s probably why I never started smoking, I had been semi-tortured as a child. It’s a wonder my lungs are still functioning at all! Maybe it’s all those rosary beads I kept in my pocket?

It may seem antithetical to think that Evangelicals are also, as a group, big believers in climate change, but they are. In fact, it’s worth mentioning the Canadian climate scientist I follow on Twitter who manages to see no distinction between her Christian beliefs and science – the smart and talented Katherine Hayhoe @KHayhoe

Still, it may come as no surprise that a belief in human assisted climate change has become a political touchstone for our time, with the GOP digging their heads further into the sand of climate denial. Hence, with a stroke of the pen Mr T will take us back in time to America’s glory days of unregulated, polluted power. If you feel that politicizing science is just so 19th Century, you may be shocked by this graph from the Pew Research Center illustrating just how divided we are:  PS_2016.10.04_Politics-of-Climate_1-14

So dear readers, what can we do? Take a good look at your portfolio if you’re lucky to have anything left after 2008. Think about divesting in fossil-fuel companies, and investing in wind or solar. Think about global companies that are fighting the good fight. Use your economic leverage…call your legislators NOW…using your voting leverage. Our town hall tactics have stalled the rush to kill Obamacare, let’s use the same strategy to save our planet from this magalomaniac. Not only is Mr T’s pen poison, his policies are lethal.

And if you pray, this is our Hail Mary pass, in the name of Mother Earth.

 

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“Be Honest Truthful and Warmhearted. Make compassion the basis of your determination”

This is the message that greeted me this morning, after Bob slammed into my still open carry-on at 4 am. It’s a little reminder from the Dalai Lama to keep it real, be mindful, and all that other old/new age stuff. It reminds me of Viola Davis’ performance in The Help. You know the one, where she is holding her young charge full of blonde curls by the shoulders and imprinting these words on her:

“You is Kind; You is Smart; You is Important.” 

Well, Viola introduced Meryl Streep at the Golden Globes the other night, and I thought, ‘poor thing.’ She could barely speak, she had lost her voice and I strained to hear her accept the Cecil B. DeMille Award for her life’s work. You see, Meryl is my age, she grew up in NJ and went to public schools. I’ve always loved and admired her work as an actor. I always thought, There. But. For. Fortune…

They gave me three seconds to say this, so. An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like. And there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that — breathtaking, compassionate work. There was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth.

In her elegant way, she eviscerated Mr T, and she didn’t even have to speak his name.

Bob and I had just seen LaLa Land, and being old musical comedy nerds we adored the movie. Two young people chase their dreams, in a sumptuously saturated set. An actor, playing an actor in Hollywood. A musician finally plays the jazz he loves; and I thought about my son, packing up his life and moving to LaLa Land. The kind of bold determination and passion it takes to pursue art as your career.

The movie dominated the Golden Globes – a pure escape from the reality of this past year. And while this was the backdrop, Meryl called us back to the Here and Now. She called out our POTUS-Elect as a reality-star-in-chief. The kind of juvenile, pompous person who would make fun of a disabled reporter. His electoral victory giving rise to the mean, underbelly of racism and hate still present in our country.

A couple feels free to write “We don’t tip Blacks,” on a waitress’ check in VA.

A number of bomb threats are phoned into Jewish centers in NJ, SC, FL and Nashville

This hits too close to home. This is unacceptable. This is why we march. 

I will not listen to pundits decipher Mr T’s Tweets about Meryl’s acting abilities. I will not read about his appointment of his son-in-law to a West Wing post.

This is why we march.

We believe in loving kindness. We believe in fact-based science. We believe that every person has a story, and we are all equally important.

And just as Republicans in VA feel free to constrain our right to assemble, by introducing legislation upping the charges of not obeying orders by the police – you know that non-violent assembly thing that MLK Jr was so fond of – from a Class 3 to a Class 1 misdemeanor…  http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?171+sum+SB1055

This is why we march.

Because all the world is a stage, and it’s time for all of us to pry the hooks out of our hearts, and pull on our big girl boots. If I am arrested, it will be an honor and a privilege.

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You’ve got to hand it to this Pope. This morning we hear he’d like all divorced Catholics to come back to the fold, opening up the possibility for bishops everywhere to debate the age-old practice of annulment, ie a Catholic divorce. Pope Francis actually called up a woman and told her she should come back to mass and receive the Sacrament.

But what didn’t make most network news feeds was the Pope’s recent encyclical on climate change. It actually took a Twitter exchange for me to come up to speed. Katherine Hayhoe, a climate scientist, recently spoke to a room full of Evangelical Conservative leaders in Portland, all men, in order to enlighten them – or school them I was thinking as I read her Tweet.

Last year, Hayhoe was named one of Time’s Hundred Most Influential People. She is a young professor at Texas Tech, who hails from Canada. She has worked on Showtime’s science documentary, Years of Living Dangerously, and she coauthored a book, “A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions” with her pastor husband. She combines her  knowledge of fact-based science with her evangelical faith – a powerful if paradoxical combination. And this is how she wove the Pope’s message into her talk on Climate Change: http://collegevilleinstitute.org/bearings/climate-change-evangelicals-and-the-pope/?utm_campaign=coschedule&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=CollegevilleIns&utm_content=Climate%20Change

First she told them about how the poor will suffer disproportionately in the future. Compassion for the most vulnerable among us, I’m sure, resonated well in that room last month.

Peppered frequently throughout the Pope’s encyclical are references to the “poor.” For example, in the section on water Francis addresses “water poverty” (¶28), the “quality of water available to the poor” (¶29), and the world’s “grave social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water” (¶30). Evangelicals would have little difficulty affirming words like these: “It is clearly inconsistent to combat trafficking in endangered species while remaining completely indifferent to human trafficking, unconcerned about the poor, or undertaking to destroy another human being deemed unwanted” (¶91).

Hayhoe’s second point, however, may not have struck the same chord. “Free Market Economic Policies Will Not Solve Climate Change!” That almost bears repeating..it harkens back to Obama’s redistribution speech. In other words folks, capitalism won’t cure climate change. Did we hear one comment on this topic at the Trump Show and Debate? Remember, that Donald Show that has devolved into silly sexist semantics. Evangelicals everywhere, who are mostly GOP/Conservative/Christians, will most likely cringe at the Papal challenge to free market economics of the privileged few and their worship of private property..

“In order to uphold “the fundamental rights of the poor and the underprivileged,” Francis puts forward the “principle of the subordination of private property to the universal destination of goods, and thus the right of everyone to their use” (¶93).” The Pope also called for “…a new dialogue” and “a conversation that includes everyone” (¶14); later, he underscores “true wisdom, as the fruit of self-examination, dialogue and generous encounters between persons” (¶47).

Dare we dream to find consensus between Progressive/Feel the Bern/Hillary supporters and the ten men on stage the other night? Only John Kasich, who went to a friend’s gay wedding, seemed to speak from the heart and embody the compassionate conservative viewpoint. If anyone might start that dialogue, I’m betting on Hayhoe. But first, the bloody hands that take money from the NRA, and/or oil and gas companies, need to be washed Lady MacBeth style.

Out, damned spot! out, I say!–One: two: why,
then, ’tis time to do’t.–Hell is murky!–Fie, my 40
lord, fie! a soldier, and afeard? What need we
fear who knows it, when none can call our power to
account?–Yet who would have thought the old man
to have had so much blood in him.

Somali refugees displaced by flooding - Getty Image

Somali refugees displaced by flooding – Getty Image

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