Climate Change After Mid-Term Election

Climate Change After Mid-Term Election

The activists, scientists, and policymakers working on slowing (hopefully stopping and reversing, but let’s start with the small steps) climate change, took an enormous hit this mid-term election due to the Senate majority moving into the hands of the GOP. This means the lead climate-change-denier GOP Senator Jim Inhofe is taking over the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

The environment could not have sustained a bigger blow when it comes to the policies we need moving forward. Stephen Colbert’s humorous take on Inhofe’s promotion to the chair takes the edge off — but only slightly.

 

Climate Change: I am not a Scientist and Next Steps

What does the phrase, “I am not a scientist” really mean here? It means politicians don’t even have to pretend to listen to the people who are actually scientists, who are actually conducting research on climate change, and who know without a doubt what needs to happen to slow the onslaught of crises that will come with sitting on our hands claiming innocence of knowledge.

It means they do not have to take action.

There is clear scientific consensus that climate change is real and due to human activities. Congress must act. The EPA must use its authority to limit carbon pollution. The people must educate themselves, each other, and push for better. It is up to us all now.

I have to believe that we fundamentally all have this same common link and recognize its importance…

 

How do you feel about this mid-term election and the role it plays in our environment? Does the outcome leave you searching for actions to take, organizations to support, or other roles? I would love to hear from you!

 

 

 

Breast Cancer, Pinkwashing, and Strength

Chances are, if you are reading this you are aware of breast cancer. You may not know all the details, but you know it can be an incredibly scary diagnosis. By now, you are aware that women should regularly do breast self-exams. You know regular mammograms are important, beginning at age 40 or based on family history (please communicate with your doctor when it is right for you to begin these). You might also be aware that men can get breast cancer.

We are a society full of awareness. Thank goodness for that. In fact, when you see that color pink on products and people, especially in October, what is the first thing that comes to mind?

If you are buying something because you need it and it also happens to have a pink ribbon (plus it doesn’t contain carcinogenic ingredients or hazards; more on that in a minute), then go for it. If you’re buying something simply because it has the pink ribbon? Rethink that pink!

Rethink The Pink - Almost All The Truth

We pledged at ShiftCon to rethink the pink.

Did you know that the largest corporations with their huge pink marketing campaigns spend more money on their pink products, many of which directly and indirectly lead to this very cancer, than on breast cancer research? Even Susan G. Komen has simply become a marketing monolith of pinkwashing. Komen spends more time and money protecting its “for the Cure” phrase, politics, and marketing their pink ribbon for awareness on products than actually raising money for a cure.

There is little in the pink that leads to prevention or cure for breast cancer. What you will find instead are, in partnership with the Susan G. Komen Foundation, fracking drill bits which will help inject possible and known carcinogens into the ground. These then leak into the surrounding environment and water supply. That was this year’s palm-to-forehead product.

I am sure you’ve seen more, from plastic water bottles to endocrine disruptors in fragrances and cosmetics, the list goes on and on what people will slap a pink ribbon on to show their “support.” Often this support costs them little, goes to organizations with little aspirations of prevention and cure, yet reaps huge profits.

Ugh. Can I shake off my disgust for a minute?

It is time to move our focus from awareness and move toward new research on breast cancer cause, prevention, and cure. Luckily there are some great organizations helping us do just that and they need our help to get their names in front of the people.

Have you heard of pinkwashing before? What do you do to make sure you are not supporting it? I especially welcome comments from breast cancer survivors on how they feel about the pinking of October… Please join the conversation!

 

 

Save Us, And The Bees, From Ourselves

Calvin and Hobbes - Meet Giant BeeLike too many things in this world, the bees ought to fear the humans. And we ought to fear ourselves. The good news is there is always hope! No need to wallow in fear when there is work to be done! 

 

Bees are a keystone species?

Many of us grew up thinking of bees somewhere along the spectrum between picnic nuisance and deathly fear of all buzzing pollinators. Unless you lived on or near farms you may not have realized how essential bees are in the agricultural puzzle – $15 billion in increased value and about one in three bites of food we currently enjoy. As a child, I only had a vague idea bees were important to their ecosystem.

Pollinators are what ecologists call keystone species. You know how an arch has a keystone. It’s the one stone that keeps the two halves of the arch together. […] If you remove the keystone, the whole arch collapses.
  

 –May Berenbaum, PhD, Entomologist.

Bees have long suffered from the mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder, but at no other point in history has their decline in numbers and safe havens been so rapid and fraught with controversy and uncertainty of cause or solution. Many studies point to pesticides, neonics (or neonicotinoids) in particular, as one factor of the recent massive bee die-offs, and therefore putting our entire food system in peril.

Living in Oregon, it was hard to escape the horror of the tens of thousands of bees who fell dead to the ground in a Target parking lot. That is the stuff of nightmares. This led the state to issue a temporary ban on the use of the harmful insecticide to determine what plans need to be put in place going forward.

 

What do we know about the role of neonics and bee deaths?

Bee pollinating peach flower
photo credit: “Fir0002/Flagstaffotos”

     

     — We know that neonics cause certain harm, death, to bees under certain conditions. Those conditions are what the scientific community is debating.

     — Although “low level exposures do not normally kill bees directly, [but] they may impact some bees’ ability to foraging for nectar, learn and remember where flowers are located, and possibly impair their ability to find their way home to the nest or hive.” Meaning bees will be harmed one way or another after enough exposure.

     — The European Food Safety Authority, when asked to perform a risk assessment of neonics, found “a high acute risk to honey bees,” as well as both flaws and data gaps in the industry-sponsored studies used as scientific evidence in safety assurances.

     — Bees are exposed to neonics through commercial agricultural uses (dust drift, residues in nectar and pollen, reduction in pollen diversity), commercial landscaping (direct insecticide use for ornamental plants and trees), and home landscaping and garden use (potting soil and direct insecticide use).

 

What can we do about these bee die-offs right now?

E.O. Wilson - Natural World

 

      — Read, learn more. You’ve already read this so we are off to an excellent beginning! Now direct your attention to this lovely Buzz on Bees and Making Your Garden Count Blog Carnival and all the information you can glean from it.

     — Choose neonic-free products. Grow organic plants in organic potting soil. Avoid shopping at the mega-garden centers who sell plants and soil that have already been treated. Avoid neonic-based insecticides for home use.

     — Take action! Call on retailers to commit to stop selling neonics, as well as plants and seeds pretreated with these pesticides. Sign the petition and share it widely!

If these are big steps for you, take your time to learn as you go. Use the wisdom of your locally-owned plant nursery or college extension program. There are a lot of resources to help you continue on your path to creating a better world for the bees around you, but we all need to take the first steps!

Please share any tips on how to make your yard and garden more bee-friendly! Will you take any action today?

400 ppm, What Happens Now?

Almost All The Truth - What Happens After 400ppm?

We just reached what is likely the most important milestone in our climate‘s history, at least as observed through the lens of humankind. What does that convoluted sentence mean? We’ve reached 400ppm concentrations of carbon dioxide. The highest in millions of years.

I’ll let that sink in a moment.

400ppm. This is the number experts have long thought was the point of no return. This is the number that still may be, although some are considering 450ppm to be the new “worst case scenario.” I am not sure raising the bar in this instance is a good thing when we have a lot more data supporting a number which sparked a fantastic organization that stands for environmental activism: 350.org.

So I am thinking we have a few choices here.

Give up. Throw our hands into the air, declare the war won, and wait for the inevitable.

Hole up and listen to Free Bird on repeat. 

Recognize that while the earth may remain, our actions will make sure that our species, along with so many more, will not – stand up and do something!

And I think that includes listening to some of the amazing voices of our time. I was inspired by listening to the Dalai Lama and David Suzuki when they joined our governor and the executive director of Oregon Environmental Council at Portland’s Environmental Summit to discuss what our future can and should look like as our actions change the world for the worse and the better. There are great people who believe we have not passed the point of no return.

Individual actions matter.

Family actions matter.

Large group actions matter.

Policies matter.

We matter.

So what is one small step we can take today to alleviate some of the pressure on our environment? I would love for us all to name one.