Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

World Turtle Day – You Can Help

pexels-photo-38452Today, May 23, is World Turtle Day, so give some love to the shelled wonders of the world. More than one species of sea turtle is endangered, and all of them need us to be caretakers of the seas to better protect the environment they share with so many species. Saving the integrity of oceans saves land masses as well.

As a kid, visiting touristy places with my family, I had an unshakable fascination with the tiny box turtles with shells painted with pictures of attractions as living souvenirs (Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz, etc–better to buy a postcard or shot glass or thimble or license plate with your name on it). It was undoubtedly an unhappy, and unnaturally short life for the turtles as they scrambled over one another in plastic tanks outside a shop, next to the wind chimes and seashell picture frames. My own reaction shifted to revulsion and my activist blood began to boil when my folks told me that the paint would cause harm and probably kill the turtles. From that point forward, I would refuse to even cross the threshold of any store selling them (care of the tiny turtles is also a fair bit trickier than the tourists of the 1970s likely realized, also guaranteeing an unnecessarily short life for most).

Toward a much better life for turtles, and trying to improve aqua environments, Clean Ocean Access is championing work for cleaner oceans and marine debris solutions. Consider volunteering with their Rhode Island-based projects, not just on World Turtle Day, but any day.

On the opposite coast, in California, Heal the Bay works tirelessly to protect and improve the Pacific oceanscape, and their work has been accomplished with the help of over 100,000 volunteers just like you. Check out opportunities.

Before you book your next volunteering gig with these turtle champions or one of so very many others near you (an internet search for “Turtle Volunteer” yields loads of results), surf over to the website for Greenpeace and send an S.O.S. to world leaders on behalf of turtles everywhere, and all their aquatic neighbors, to protect their homes…and lives.

I’ve been blessed enough to snorkel among honu (the Hawaiian for green sea turtle) and it is simply magical and meditative to glide in the water with them. Making sure next generations can also see them (from a safe and unobtrusive distance, of course) is so important.

HAPPY TURTLE DAY!

Earth Hour 2016 – Turn Off the Lights

digital banner for 2016 Earth Hour for climate changeGeez–we just had to re-set our clocks, switch out batteries in our smoke detectors, and now we’re supposed to turn off all the lights in our homes and workplaces for an hour?! Enough with the household appliances and devices–you’re cramping my style, Good Karma! Back off!

OK, tomorrow I can do this, but if you tell me I have to drive backwards for a week or something similar, we’re going to have to sit down and talk about this. But tomorrow, Saturday, March 19, is Earth Hour, from 8:30-9:30pm your time, in whatever timezone you inhabit. For that hour, join the people of 172 nations and turn off your lights. You won’t be alone–households around the world as well as businesses, landmarks, corporate buildings, and more will all go dark to shed some light on climate issues. One dark hour…and hopefully many, many conversations sparked among your family and friends, about how to make a change.

Your commitment to the planet, and thereby to all of us (thank you) is huge, and easily displayed by this dimming of lights.

Use your power to change climate change.

Watch the videos below for the 2016 campaign and highlights of 2015 Earth Hour.

Being Ahead of Schedule Is Bad – Earth Overshoot Day

earth-spaceOuch

We keep getting more efficient at screwing ourselves up!

Most often, in life, it is beneficial to be ahead of schedule for things–better than the alternative, being late. Well, when it comes to annually using up our world’s resources, the early bird doesn’t get the worm…the early bird probably only gets hungry, and thirsty, and hot, very hot.

Earth Overshoot Day should be sometime in early October, this red-letter-in-a-bad-way day, but this year, 2015, it happened yesterday, on August 13 (six days ahead of last year–a bad trend). Yikes!

Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity has exhausted nature’s budget for the year. The Global Footprint Network measures humanity’s demand for, and supply of, natural resources and ecological services, and at some point on the calendar, we get to the point where we are in a deficit compared to what can be provided, so we are technically drawing down resources and accumulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. We owe the world, and that tipping point date gets earlier every year. In banking terms, we are drawing down the earth’s principal rather than responsibly living off the interest.

Ecological overshoot is a non-sustainable way of life and possible for only a limited period of time before we degrade the system so far that we end up with water shortages, desertification, soil erosion, reduced cropland activity, overgrazing, rapid species extinction, collapse of fisheries, and increased carbon concentration…sound familiar?

Our global overshoot has nearly doubled since 1961. According to Global Footprint Network, we are now living large, literally, as it would take 1.6 Earths to actually support our current consumption, and predictions state we would require two entire planets to support our usage trends by mid-century. Only 14% of our world lives in countries with more biocapacity than usage footprint, including Australia, Canada, Finland, Chile, and Brazil. The United States is squarely in the not-so-happy red zone, using more natural resources than we can possibly provide.

TAKE ACTION:

Check out this interactive footprint calculator to discover how much land area it takes to support your own lifestyle, discover your biggest areas of resource consumption, and learn what you can do to tread more lightly on the earth.

Climate Reality Leadership Corps

CRP_logoOK…c’mon now. You simply cannot be part of the breathing human race and NOT know that our climate is shifting in some pretty dramatic ways. OK, maybe an infant. If you are a newborn, I will cut you some slack, but everybody else..unh unh.

Now I am perfectly clear that some of us have different theories or thoughts about what is the cause of the change, but we are definitely not in stasis. Whether it is a human-made crisis or completely natural cycle or some combination of both is not my immediate point. My point is, there are absolutely actions we, as a species, can take to not exacerbate the situation…and there are absolutely actions we can take or are taking that can, in fact hasten changes in a bad way. Taking no action pretty much gets us the latter train speeding up toward a mess scenario as well. I’m all about change, but not in this context. Just ask the bucket in my shower catching all the water as it heats up so I can use it to water some plants…or the brown-lawned park down the road…or the farmers in California’s Central Valley where I grew up…

So Vice President Al Gore–inventor of the interwebs, remember him? He has been running a program for some time that I only recently discovered. At the tail end of last year I was in Boston and met several folks that were a part of this movement, and now is the chance for you to join as well. The Climate Reality Leadership Corps is a group of committed citizens who are dedicated to solving the climate crisis now and for future generations. There is no fee to attend training (and the training is actually a pretty deep dive into the science, both physical and sociological science, of the issues)—the next round is happening in Cedar Rapids, Iowa May 5-7. Young people and adults apply and must be accepted (spots are still available) to go through the training and become members of this august community of global activists.

Once you become a leader, you’ve got some work to do–but it’s really cool:

“Within a year of completing the training with the Climate Reality Leadership Corps you are required to perform ten “Acts of Leadership.” Acts of Leadership come in a variety of forms and can be completed in your local community. Examples of Acts of Leadership include giving a presentation, writing a blog, writing a letter to the editor, organizing a film screening, organizing a climate change-related campaign, meeting with government leaders, and organizing a day of action. Most Acts of Leadership will come from giving presentations, including speaking events you arrange yourself and events arranged for you through requests that come in through Climate Reality. The Climate Reality Leadership Corps will offer as much support as possible but you will be responsible for seeking out opportunities to take action.”

Can you hear this calling to you? I sure can (and subsequent trainings, if this is short notice, will follow in Canada and Florida, later this year)

Earth Day — Deepen Your Connection

mossy trees of rainforestThere are so many ways and avenues to finding a connection with the world and celebrate EVERY day as Earth Day. The fact that the internationally recognized celebration of Earth Day is today, April 22, simply serves as a reminder.

The Pachamama Alliance is deeply committed to each of us finding and owning our profound connection to earth (the wordPachamama means Mother Earth), and their mission is:

To empower indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest to preserve their lands and culture and, using insights gained from that work, to educate and inspire individuals everywhere to bring forth a thriving, just and sustainable world.

PACHAMAMA ALLIANCE

Up To Us

Programs and resources you can access via Pachamama are a fantastic source for earth steward inspiration. The “Up to Us” engagement pathway has in-person and online learning courses available to all of us, to awaken us to the critical earth-focused issues we face today—it’s a great way to get tapped into a high level conversation about taking a stand and making a difference, and it leaves you empowered, not devastated or deflated. There are several ways to engage, beginning with the “Awakening the Dreamer” symposium, and progressing to other opportunites—check them out here.

Pachamama Journeys

This one grabs my heart and imagination and won’t let go–I’ve not yet done a journey with Pachamama, but I absolutely will! These travel opportunities are one-of-a-kind transformative travel excursions to incredibly biodiverse regions of the Amazon and Andes—visits to indigenous communities are AT THE REQUEST of the indigenous partners who invite you to explore and learn and carry their wisdom home.

Amazon Advocacy

Pachamama engages in very specific campaigns of advocacy and awareness in tandem with their indigenous partners in Ecuador. Programs are diverse and make a real difference, like “Jungle Mamas” dedicated to empowerment and health for women and girls; “Rights of Nature” working for recognition of the importance of all species and ecosystems; “Yasuni-ITT” supports protection of Amazon regions; “Sarayaku” seeks justice for human rights violations toward the Kichwa people; and “Indigenous Resilience” empowers people throughout the region.

*****

I have been so fortunate in my own life to be connected to a North American Native American tribe, the Nez Perce in Idaho, and one of my brothers in that community taught me a tenet that is found in so many communities—that of the Seventh Generation. When tribal decisions are debated, examined, and executed—especially those affecting the relationship to nature—elders consider their actions in the context of how they will affect the people seven generations from now. Not for their children or grandchildren, but seven generations out. If we figure that generations are 20-25 years apart, wouldn’t it be amazing if Congress and business leaders who make societal laws and decisions for the masses were thinking of their impact 140-175 years hence? It would certainly change the conversations and take responsibility for how we affect our world.

This Earth Day, are there any actions you can take or plans and commitments you can make that you would be proud to have children of 2190 thank you for and acknowledge your important decision? It’s a beautiful way to think.

Earth Day Volunteering – Sierra Club Outings

man sitting on wall enjoying view of city belowIf you’re looking for a way to honor the planet and all the things living on it for Earth Day (April 22, though, doncha kinda feel like every day is Earth Day?), the Sierra Club has a whole slew of volunteer outings and responsible travel options for you to explore.

The Sierra Club is one of the largest and most effective grassroots environmental organizations we’ve got, and the fact that they lead trips all around the globe with the intent to get people passionate about the world we all share, is our good luck. The trip leaders are incredibly dedicated volunteers who just want to share experiences and expertise with you. The mission of all the organization’s explorations is to explore, enjoy, and protect the planet.

They boast destinations all around the world, in several categories for all ages and experience levels.  Categories for trips include: backpacking, base camp, bicycle, canoe, international, kayak, lodge, raft, sail, scuba, service/volunteer, ski/snowshoe/dogsled, supported trekking, and training events.

Trip descriptions are thorough so you know what you’re in for, and as I am always strongly advising people really investigate the organizations and organizers of volunteer travel, I love the Sierra Club policy of making all their leaders available by message or phone so you can get all your questions answered.

I’ve got my eye on a few amazing trips coming up: Spring Service in Arches National Park, Utah; Farm Service on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts; Trail Repair in Denali National Park, Alaska; Light Station Service in Big Sur, California, and Western Maui, Hawaii eco-service. If I want to explore more than work (and everybody wants that sometimes–we work HARD for our vacation time!) I’m all about Hiking the Hidden Kingdom in Bhutan; Japan Ancient Buddhist Trails, Rainforests, and Volcanoes in Kyushu; and Trekking the Turquoise Coast of Turkey.

I can pretty much guarantee you’ll find more than one trip to pique your wanderlust, and do a little good while making amazing cultural connections. Bon Voyage!

Expanded Spring Clean – Great American Cleanup

highway sign for no litterGot those windows washed and drawers organized with your spring cleaning frenzy? (Sorry East Coast–I know only the calendar says it is spring today, NOT Mother Nature!). Look outside your four walls to the larger picture…America.

Keep America Beautiful is the number one non-profit building green and sustainable communities. This year is the seventeenth annual Great American Cleanup, which will get more than four million of us involved volunteering around the country to take local action for positive change. Willing workers help renew parks, rails, and recreation areas and also clean shorelines and waterways, pick up trash, reduce waste and increase recycling efforts, and plant new trees and community gardens.

Last year’s efforts resulted in the removal of 37 million pounds of litter; cleaned 85,901 miles of roadways, trails, and shorelines; cleaned and renewed 130,497 acres of parkland and public space; collected over 250 million pounds of recyclables; and planted 41,000 trees plus 1.5 million flowers and bulbs.

Come on! You want to be a part of THAT! There are over 40,000 events this year, starting now and continuing through the fall. Seek out programs near you via this website, then grab your work gloves, and go!