Pollution

Overcoming Fear

girl_sea

Threatening hurricanes like Joaquin churn up waves of speculation. When a doozy of a storm is eminent — dumping boatloads of rain and destruction — I fearfully follow a steady stream of hurricane alerts on social media. Normally, the wild weather choir would swallow me up — especially, since family members literally lost the house in Hurricane Sandy. But lately, my perspective has had a slight shift.

Still squarely aligned with the scientific community, I look to the experts who tell us carbon pollution is the main reason our planet is getting hotter, thus increasing our chances for severe weather.

Having recently spent time outside my little corner of the world at a series of conferences, I’m using a moral rudder to sail beyond fear. Mashable’s Social Good Summit, the Global Women’s Climate Justice Day of Action at the United Nations and the Omega Institute’s Women and Power conference focused heavily on women and climate change.

Gender and Climate Change

“It is terribly unjust that the people paying the most brutal price for climate impact are the ones least responsible.” Women’s Earth & Climate Action Network (WECAN)

Locally and globally, climate change is not gender neutral. This injustice takes aim at women because women encompass a disproportionately large share of the poor — in the U.S. and the rest of the world. Women are the caregivers for children, and those tiny lungs bear the brunt of pollution.

I was shocked to learn, women and children are 14 times more likely to die than men during natural disasters.” And according to the World Economic Forum, women perceive climate change risks more than men.

Yet, the policies of extreme weather are governed mostly by men. This is our political reality. In fact, leading up to Hurricane Joaquin, my newsfeed in the New York metropolitan area focused solely on two decision-making governors tracking the hurricane — Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie.

As Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic, noted in her keynote speech at Omega:

“I meet amazing women who want to do amazing things, but are not doing it. They are not because of fear.”

Empathy, Education and Ethics

There was an overarching theme I heard over and over at these conferences to counteract the powerless fear women feel about climate change — we employ empathy, education and ethics.

To overcome fear, we need to use these weapons and get active. When we started Moms Clean Air Force, we didn’t ask people to donate, we asked them to care – to care about air pollution, to care about how toxic chemicals affect their families, to care about the climate that will impact their children’s future. We discovered once people cared about the issues, they became empowered to activate in their community.

But as Madeleine Albright, the first female Secretary of State of the U.S., said at the Social Good Summit,

“America is a generous country but we aren’t doing enough…given the scale and our own capabilities.”

In the U.S. we call for strong environmental regulations and get pushback every step of the way from polluters who defend their right to pollute and the politicians that protect them. Compromised, we inch forward.

Storm Warning

Globally, the situation is even worse because nature doesn’t regulate. For instance, in the Maldives, the islands off the coast of India, “could become the first state in history to be completely erased by the sea.”

Thilmeeza Hussain, from the Maldives and founder of Voice of Women spoke at the WECAN event about a location that can’t wait for politics:

“We are thinking about our survival, our existence. There’s nothing to negotiate when it comes to global warming.”

Living in a sacrifice zone is no way to live. Many of us care about our relationship to climate change — now we need to reach beyond and help women across the globe move from fear to caring about solutions.

The scientific evidence is settled; global warming is real and climate change is a women’s rights issue. Now it’s time to weather the storm together.

He Gets It.

land_sea_sky

President Obama gets it.

“That bright blue ball rising over the moon’s surface containing everything we hold dear – the laughter of children, a quiet sunset, all the hopes and dreams of posterity – that’s what’s at stake.” ~ President Barack Obama, June 25, 2013

On Tuesday, President Obama told us he gets it — he’s putting the breaks on climate change. Obama is imagining a “cleaner, safer, more stable world,” because he gets it. He gets that humans have created climate change by burning massive amounts of fossil fuels. He gets that these changes will have a devastating impact on people, ecosystems, and energy use. He gets that we must do something about it now.

“Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it’s not going to protect you from the coming storm.”

 “We have to all shoulder the responsibility for keeping the planet habitable, or we’re going to suffer the consequences – together.”

“Our planet is changing in ways that will have profound impacts on all of humankind.”

“We can’t just drill our way out of the energy and climate challenge that we face.”

“I urged Congress to come up with a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one that Republican and Democratic senators worked on together a few years ago. And I still want to see that happen. I’m willing to work with anyone to make that happen.”

“A low-carbon clean energy economy can be an engine of growth for decades to come.”

“Those who are already feeling the effects of climate change don’t have time to deny it – they’re busy dealing with it.”

“While we may not live to see the full realization of our ambition, we will have the satisfaction of knowing that the world we leave to our children will be better off for what we did.”

“Someday, our children, and our children’s children will look at us in the eye and they’ll ask us, did we do all that we could when we had the chance to deal with this problem and leave them a cleaner, safer, more stable world?”

President Obama gets it.

Please join me in telling your representative to do everything in her or his power to support the president’s plan HERE. Thank you.

Watch full speech here. For those visually-inclined (like me), here’s an infographic

Photo: Ben Scott for Bluerock Design

8 Reasons To Love Earth Day

earth_day
Here are a few reasons to love Earth Day and stay committed to protecting the environment:

  1. According to the Earth Day Network, more than 1 billion people in 192 countries celebrate Earth Day.
  2. Climate Central created an interactive graphic that shows a state-by-state analysis of temperature trends since the first Earth Day took place in 1970.
  3. Dominique Browning’s New York Times interview with Brazilian photographer Sebastio Salgado, tells how falling in love with our planet can show us what we stand to lose.
  4. Earth Day inspired Google to create a fun interactive, animated environmental scene.
  5. Joe Romm from Climate Progress says this about Earth Day: “Affection for our planet is misdirected and unrequited. We need to focus on saving ourselves.”
  6. Antiwar activists in the late 1960s rallied across the country to raise environmental consciousness. It led to the creation of the EPA and passage of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. Watch the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970.
  7. Eco-Activist, Beth Terry, author of My Plastic Life and Plastic Freewalks the walk on Earth Day.
  8. Nature is cheaper than therapy.

Image via Tumblr

Why I Marched For Climate Change (video)

rally_2

I joined with nearly 50, viagra 60mg 000 protesters who endured freezing winds to express their fervent desire that President Obama take bold action on climate change. For my husband, viagra Ted and I, the Forward on Climate rally was a culmination of years of living a green lifestyle. It was time to move beyond the recycling bin and compost pile to fight for climate justice. Sunday’s rally gave us an opportunity step up our commitment. It put the wind in our sails to demand urgent action on climate change. We chose on the ground activism because we’re not prepared to accept the inevitability of our children’s future without a fight.

President Obama had strong words to say in both his inaugural address and State of The Union about the need for urgent action on climate change. Before the SOTU, I was interviewed along with other environmentalists and asked what I wished President Obama would convey during his speech. I said it was time for him to address our climate concerns – the people’s concerns, not the oil, coal and gas companies that so many politicians on the Hill are beholden to. I said, “The political is personal.”

It was this singular focus that drove me to take to the streets of DC on Sunday and raise my voice with tens of thousands from all generations. It’s why I took bold action and pushed Ted and my friends, Dominique (who does not like crowds), and Kerry and Matt to join me.

I knew the rally would thrust us out of our comfort zone. I hadn’t protested in the streets since I boarded a bus to DC in high school with a bunch of bell-bottomed teenagers wearing peace buttons to oppose the Vietnam War. We were fighting for our future. I was wearing a tee-shirt my father printed with the slogan, “War is not healthy for children and other living things.”

On Sunday, being part of the climate solution meant going beyond green and marching forward. One of the handmade rally signs summed it up with a photograph of the Earth and these four words: “Too Big To Fail”

View more photos from the Forward for Climate rally HERE and HERE.

Catch a glimpse of the speakers and the energy of the rally in this video:

Photo: Ted Fink

Keep MLK’s Dream Alive

mlk

As we pause to reflect on the ideals of racial equality and social justice Martin Luther King stood for, the convergence of MLK’s dream of non-violence could not be more at a crossroads.

We honor MLK on the same day as the inauguration of the first black president to his second term. Like many of you, I feel a deep privilege to have President Obama lead our country.

MLK urged non-violent activists to transform the strength of their passion and the justice of their cause, into compelling power.” He taught us that we are not powerless — when enough people are outraged, we can put a stop to destruction.

Whether the intersection of plaguing issues are those of the 1960’s — civil rights and anti-war, or the issues that threaten to potentially devastate our future — climate change and gun violence; it’s time to take a close look at those who represent the public good, and demand a better future.

This starts with President Obama, but it also lies with us — the American people. We must remain committed to MLK’s spirit of cooperation and collaboration, and use our voice against those who fight to destroy MLK’s dream of freedom, justice, and equality for all.

As Pres. Obama said in his second inaugural speech, “We are made for this moment, and we will seize it – so long as we seize it together.”

I sincerely believe if we are going to live up to the extraordinary vision of MLK, we must open our hearts to peace and dedicate a portion of our lives to a better future — together.

Credit: MLK Patchwork Portrait by MelindaJonesArt via Apartment Therapy