Posts Tagged ‘Environment’

Being Ahead of Schedule Is Bad – Earth Overshoot Day


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.


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)

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!

Cruising With a Purpose: Crystal Cruises Creates a Way to Give Back

I’ll admit to a bit of personal prejudice against large ship cruise vacations–and like most prejudice, my opinion is based entirely on ignorance. Never done it, doesn’t sound like my cup of tea (and of course, when I finally DO try a cruise, I’ll probably love it). Part of my unfounded resistance comes from the stereotype of spending all your waking hours by the pool or in line at a buffet, the monotony broken up only by shore excursions with hordes of ugly, uncouth tourists looking for souvenir t-shirts and burgers with fries as they snap flash photos of “colorful” locals–I’d sooner have a root canal. I know, of course, that the reality of cruising is a wide array of possible styles, clientele, and activity levels.

Crystal Cruises has just launched, for their 2011 season, a program I can really get behind, and one that helps me re-frame my bias. Their new You Care, We Care initiative creates volunteer shore excursions on every one of their cruise itineraries in 2011. Unlike so many shore excursions, these You Care, We Care experiences are complimentary for passengers who choose to participate. The goal is for clients, and cruise staffers as well, to have an authentic community experience in the communities visited on the itinerary. Some examples (more rolling out soon) are: working with children at a burn unit in Peru, doing craft projects or sports with the elderly or youth in Colombia, also in Colombia a chance to do urban organic farming, and a Mexico project in Puerto Vallarta where you work on beach cleanup and light construction at a green space. Helping local communities, with projects designed from WITHIN the communities, is a profound experience for us, and truly enhances travel.

So I’m ready to re-evaluate…if I can do some good work AND have a drink with a little umbrella in it when I get back on board…I can definitely increase my tolerance of other passengers in black socks, sandals, and Aloha shirts.

How about you? Are you in?


Pupils from Juja Preparatory School plant trees

Pupils from Juja Preparatory School plant trees

Each year, June 5 is World Environment Day, a day marked by the United Nations to bring global awareness to stewardship of the planet. This year’s theme is “Your Planet Needs You.” No kidding…

If you don’t make every day World Environment Day, you’re letting the rest of us down. This year’s UN event is hosted by Mexico–Mexico City, of course, is one of the most polluted cities in the world, and Swine Flu, drug cartel violence, and several recent earthquakes make Mexico a tough sell these days. When a destination is hardest hit is when we need to roll up our sleeves and work most diligently.

So have you booked your Mexico trip yet?

Part of WED (World Environment Day) is the worldwide “Billion Tree Campaign” and Mexico is taking on getting 25% of those seedlings into the ground.

Click here for a list of daily tips to make small changes in your own life to help the issue of climate change. It is definitely your/our responsibility to help take us off the crash course on which we find ourselves.