A Series of Climate wins via Grist

Since I have proclaimed 2014 the year of the cheerleader, the focus of many of my posts will highlight climate action wins.

If this sounds good to you, you may also want to follow the Series of Climate wins on Grist.

via Series Climate wins | Grist.

 

Lego commits to 100% renewable energy goal

LEGO logo

LEGO logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Superb news!

 

This makes me feel waaayyy less guilty for supporting my child’s Lego habit – a tradition in our family and almost every family I know.

 

Thanks to WWF partnering with Lego, one more giant, recognizable and valued consumer good is having less impact on our planet.

 

Commenting on the new partnership, the LEGO Group’s CEO, Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, said: “We have experienced strong growth for eight consecutive years and, as we grow, we are becoming increasingly aware of the impact we leave on the planet. Partnering with WWF is an important step in our efforts to get the best out of our sustainability initiatives. We are proud to contribute to WWF’s overall vision of 100% renewable energy by 2050 and already now they have played a part in the targets we have set – and how we can achieve them.”

More information about this…

 

For the Sports Fans

I am NOT a sports fan.  Let’s just get that out of the way now.

I love the concept of sports: health, friendly competition, self improvement. I even like to watch the occasional match of almost anything (UFC and probably cricket excluded). I cycle nearly every day (though won’t be caught in fancy branded spandex). I have even lent myself to coaching mini minors soccer and baseball, and to being laughed at on a court/field/pitch for adult purposes occasionally.

However, don’t ask me to recite team names and associated locations or playbook rules.

At most, I could describe a sports figure scandal or two.

My aversion to sports has developed slowly over the last 10 years from watching some people around me lose sight of more important things and sit on the couch for more hours than (in my opinion) are reasonable.

And then there is the “opiate of the masses” concept, in which my field of sustainability, sports has been a detractor from more important things… like rallying around car share coops and community gardens. *Sigh.

But the push for sustainability is slowly being outweighed by the pull. 

Organizations of every size, type and objective are existing on the same planet, in the same human  society myself and friends are trying to save. The truth is, if your clients need mobility, to eat and to have a disposable income, they will need a low carbon and climate resilient community/economy/society.

So join the team. The Green Sports Alliance team.

The Green Sports Alliance is a non-profit organization with a mission to help sports teams, venues and leagues enhance their environmental performance. Alliance members represent over 170 sports teams and venues from 15 different sports leagues.

We’re talking carbon neutral games, partnerships with transit authorities, and competition crushing waste management strategies. *the crowd goes wild*

Here’s the call to action

Friends of mine are organizing a conference (September 26-27, Vancouver) to facilitate peer-based learning about greening sports operations (facilities, teams, matches). If you fit this profile:

  • Athletic directors, administrators, sustainability officers, researchers, recreational programmers, facility managers
  • Professional sport teams, sport venues owners, amateur sport bodies, government and non-government sport organizations, sustainability organizations

Or know someone that does, check out “Think Tank 3 – Sports & Sustainability: Universities as agents of change

If you are a sports team representative of any kind:

 If you work in the world of sports, please join us to share your insights and learn valuable strategies that will accelerate the environmental evolution of professional and collegiate sports.

And for the sports fans:

  • Make your home based sports watching energy efficient
  • Take transit/cycle to live games.
  • Find a local sports team to join/watch and spend your time cheering on your community members.

Go greenies go!

HB

Rising seas will leave their mark. Here’s a preview.

Artistic commentary on life has been an effective means for generating dialogue and spurring change for centuries.

Initiatives like this one make a statement, but they also help people to visualize the future. In our case, the future is to be avoided, at least at the rate we are going. That is, unless, you prefer your favorite shopping district underwater…

Reality Drop: Spread Science about Climate Change, Global Warming

Reality Drop: Spread Science about Climate Change, Global Warming.

YES. YES. YES.

I have saved this to my desktop.

Introducing Reality Drop from Climate Reality on Vimeo.

First Solar and SunPower Surge After Receiving “Buy” Rating From CitiGroup

I’m not well versed in the stock market. I have principles that disagree with the whole structure of it. Not that investments are bad – but distant, “I just want a profit” dollar placement is wrought with ethical dilemma.

And then there is speculation. I was click-happy and stumbled upon “market news” relating to solar. The news was good for some companies, and clearly, investors will react to that.

I’m happy to see support for solar technology companies. But “solar” is just on the surface. And with the emotionally charged issue of energy, I expect rash and shortsighted decisions are more frequent than is healthy.

What I have learned is that the energy landscape is terribly complex. Terribly.

Still, I aspire to have panels on my roof someday. I hope this market news is balanced.

http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/first-solar-and-sunpower-surge-after-receiving-buy-rating-from-citigroup-nasdaq-fslr-1756245.htm

HB

Not surprising: China pushes forward with carbon tax plans

China pushes forward with carbon tax plans – 21 Feb 2013 – News from BusinessGreen.

I’m not surprised, because China proves all the time that they do not suffer from political constipation. They make decisions. They move forward.

Of course, this also has its drawbacks at times (i.e. when the balance of power is negligent), but when it comes to recognizing a problem (e.g. carbon emissions, hasty resource development) they get on with solving it… rather than worrying about who gets the credit.

Carbon taxation isn’t the only measure they’ve implemented: China is also using a form of insurance to ensure heavily polluting industries adequately provide compensation for damages.

All this to say, the US and other nations on the verge of considering such measures are feeling the pressure… to not be lame laggards.

via Not surprising: China pushes forward with carbon tax plans.

OMG it’s time for King Tides!

King Tide in Victoria - by Luton on Flickr

King Tide in Victoria – by Luton on Flickr

My exclamation on this  is one part excitement, two parts terror.

The King Tides Photo Initiative came to BC four years ago when my colleague Tina Neale (@elaen_anit) spotted the Australian effort to engage the public and catalogue images of extreme high tides on their coastline. Down under, the Green Cross mobilizes the initiative as part of their effort to “Help people adapt to our changing climate.”

We thought, “what a great way to raise awareness of the threat to our coastal infrastructure and ecosystems from seal level rise due to climate change!” And so the LiveSmart BC King Tides Photo Initiative was born (…or cloned). Thanks to the magic of social media, anyone in BC with internet connection can participate in the photo initiative on Flickr, which you can learn all about here.

After we got the go ahead, the next logical step was to bring along some friends. So we called up our partners in climate action across the border in Washington State, and then they called their friends in Oregon, and California… and before we knew it, we had a North American-wide King Tides movement including New Jersey and Florida! We now have an international working group that includes friends at NOAA and Green Cross Australia, and we share best practices and new ideas for improving our collective efforts.

So, I’m excited about the opportunity to work with these passionate, caring individuals from around the planet. These are people who wish to help their fellow citizens plan for a safe future where sea levels are much higher, storm surges are stronger… and people had the forethought to adapt.

At the same time, we’re not working on marketing the next trend in cell phone covers or even bicycle seat warmers: we’re talking property, ecosystems and lives here. And as much as we focus on setting our home turfs up for minimal impact, we will still witness some major losers. Especially in the early days.

And we’re in the early days.

As the predictions for Hurricane Sandy’s trajectory grow increasingly worrisome as she heads towards a collision with a North Easter and a strong cold front from the West DURING KING TIDES… I can’t help but think “geez, a perfect opportunity for people to witness and photograph the impacts of king tides… if they weren’t seriously getting ready to batten down the hatches!”

Now we’re still half a week away, and the computer models could be wrong, but if Sandy really is a “perfect,” “there’s no comparison on record,” “Franken-storm“, I’m more terrified for friends on the East Coast than excited. Especially as this is the kind of extreme weather we can expect to experience given a warmer, more energetic global atmosphere.

The point of this initiative is to raise awareness of these kinds of future impacts BEFORE they happen… enabling us to prepare.

I hope we have a good turn out in BC. (Pssst: tell your friends!)

HB

UN warns of looming worldwide food crisis in 2013

Percentage of national population suffering fr...

Percentage of national population suffering from malnutrition, according to United Nations statistics. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is the most pressing concern we ALL have right now. Your financial budget (household or corporate),your ability to travel, your investments… all these things and more will change and be stressed as people the world over struggle with food price and/or availability.

Read more here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2012/oct/14/un-global-food-crisis-warning

I know that for many of us in North America (who are well fed)  this is hard to digest (pun in tended… though it is no laughing matter.) It is a big challenge with numerous points of impact. The impacts on our daily lives will be both indirect and direct. For example:

  • The price of meat will be noticeably higher.
  • The “Future Shops” of the world will experience a noticeble decline in sales, leading to lower stocks and lay offs.
  • Local and provincial governments will find their social programs oversubscribed, leading to fiscal challenges.
  • School teachers and administrators will be faced with additional challenges as children lack proper nutrition (low quality foods high in sugar and salt will be favored due to lower cost).
  • Your federal government will face pressure to redirect funds from Canadian-centric programs, to international aid and development (and probably refugee programs), meaning cuts to things like Environmental monitoring.

So what can you or I do? How do we prepare?

  1. Supporting a local food system is one thing we can all do directly. This includes planting your own garden, or getting involved in local agriculture or community gardens.
  2. Support organizations such as Oxfam, which deliver aid to nations most directly impacted.
  3. Support initiatives and organizations that enhance community cohesion, with your time or money.

This third point is critical – the more connected and engaged people are with their communities (the places where they live) the more responsive and nimble we can be in addressing socio-economic challenges that food insecurity will induce.

Every community/neighborhood has  unique circumstances and unique opportunities to create wellness for the people that live there. This is the case with or without food insecurity… but under stress, those opportunities become more visible and valuable.

Organizations like Transition Towns, and an initiative such as Transition Streets is a good example of real action that is demonstrating good results today. About Transition Streets:

We all need to find ways to save money and reduce our energy use these days. And thankfully, on a Transition Street, the two go hand in hand. A Transition Street is a place where neighbours have reduced their household costs and their energy use. It is a place where people are taking steps to transition toward greater self-reliance, at the same time as they are finding ways to live in balance with the world’s diminishing resources. And they are doing it together.

I’ll likely expand on examples of this in future posts… but until then, if you have other suggestions for how we can all prepare for food shortage impacts, I’d love to read about them in the comments section below.

To a new world waiting,

HB

My Climate Action Credibility… exposed (rated PG)

I was pleased to receive a provocative comment from a reader regarding my “credibility” today. It got me fired up a bit, but more importantly, it helped me to reflect and then to blog about my personal credibility.

I think it is very important for anyone trying to create change to disclose their personal efforts (how they are walking the talk), and Steve from Virginia made me realize that I probably haven’t done that enough. Beyond that, it gave me the opportunity to blog about my thoughts on creating positive change for the environment that is at odds with the economy and fossil fuel customs: that extremists don’t relate well to the mass of humanity we need to change.

Sometimes I lament that I’m not stretching every muscle, dollar, brain cell, and second to have the absolute least amount of impact I possibly could have.  And then I realize I would be giving up my entire known life, including the people and places in it. I would also lose my ability to influence those people and places I care about. That would suck.

So Steve from Virginia, thanks for the prompt. I hope you learn something from it too.

On 2012/08/28 at 2:02 am, Steve commented:

Great job Heather …

what kind of car do you drive?

Unless you can say, “None,” you have no credibility

To which I replied:

Hi Steve! Interesting comment – thanks for sharing your perspective. Here’s my story:

I cycle and take the bus every single day it is humanly possible. You can ask any of my friends, family, colleagues, fellow bus riders and everyday commuters I wiggle my buns of steel at during rush hour (rain or shine). Alternatively, I do have the option of working from home, from time to time.

But, I do own a car. My parents gave me their 1998 Honda CRV when I was putting myself through University and had just had my son. And I certainly did rely on that vehicle regularly then, when bus routes did not accommodate. The alternative was to give up juggling work, school and parenthood (work and school were far away from each other, so cycling everyday and transporting a new born in between was prohibitive).

Had I not had a vehicle then, I probably would not have finished university and probably would not be doing what I am for a living (I.e. would not have the credibility of the knowledge I have). It was hard enough with a car. Since then, I have thought of selling it and joining a car coop for those odd grocery runs, hectic days and holiday trips, although, there is another factor in my life.

I married a man that fixes things for a living (a welder). He needs a truck for certain aspects of his business, but otherwise, chooses to drive the fuel efficient Honda (he is also a skilled mechanic and has improved every aspect of fuel efficiency we have been able to afford). And whenever possible, he does quotes via motorcycle. It might be also worth sharing that I married him before I really developed my zeal for climate action… he was NOT the kind of man most, who have gotten to know me recently, would guess I had chosen to marry, because I have changed.

All this to say: I get it. There is the option for my husband to retool and get a desk job, perhaps for us to move closer into the city and benefit from the lower stress life of public transit, walking and bicycles 24/7… why wouldn’t I make him do it if I care so much? I HATE driving. It is costly, inefficient, stinky, destructive, and noisy… not to mention the atmospheric impacts. The reality is that we are part of a society that is transitioning, and even the most passionate climate/humanity/environmental activists are prone to getting caught in the middle. And, not everyone is cut out for a desk job (neither can desk jobs deliver even close to half the needs of society).

If you read my articles (and consider the time a young, working mother put into writing them) you will clearly see how deeply I care, and how credible that care is. So to speak in absolutes, and say that I have NO credibility, well, quite frankly it makes you sound like a dink.

And I mean that in the nicest of ways… honestly. I hope you can learn from it.

Because my story is one of a person who has GROWN to appreciate the imperative for action. Someone with a a standard, upgrade your TV, drive when you can afford it, the earth is “too big for us to break”, but be a good person and don’t litter upbringing that has suffered tears and heart break for choosing to be different… or better… while loved ones and peers made fun, or worse, berated me for daring to suggest they were in the wrong…

My friend, I have learned. Change is #&*ing hard. Economically, personally, socially… and you can’t fault people for struggling through it, otherwise YOU lose your credibility – as someone unable to relate to the majority of humanity. You’ll have your cult following and that. Is. It. And seeming like a bright guy (from the peek I’ve taken at your blog), I’d suggest that would be a shame.

Anything hard has its ups and downs. But it’s worth it. And that is what I am communicating in my blog. Welcome to my climate action ADVENTURES.

Good luck with your endeavors,

Heather

P.S. Regarding my loved ones (including my husband) and their perspectives – partly because of my efforts, and (somewhat) tempered approach to communicating about climate action, they have grown to be much more aware, excited to talk to me about climate change and the environment, and several are making good headway in the low-carbon transition. I have done well not to alienate them because I value them as people and I learn a lot from relating to people that do not have the zeal (yet).

So, what do you think? Am I less credible because I’m not perfect? Should I just shut up and sit down until I am living off the grid and growing all my own food? Or should I blog more about how I am stretching my efforts to make progress towards it (and how I’m learning from my failures)?

To a new world waiting,

HB

 

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