Despite pandemic, pollution and panic, we are making progress.
The first Earth Day in 1970 launched a wave of action. During the 50 years since then, we have made many improvements and learned a lot about what more is possible. The pandemic has forced us to slow down and reconsider what is most important to our hearts and minds. Amid the suffering, there is reason to hope.
For Earth Day 50, let’s focus on good news. Even when it seems that all progress has stopped and the flame has been doused, it is possible to rekindle the fire for change and rebuild our momentum toward a world where we can survive and thrive, one that works for us all.
Good: Landmark environmental laws have been passed in the US and many countries worldwide.
Goal: Use that framework, built by hard-won experience, to tackle our global climate crisis.
Good: Voting age is now 18. Momentum from the first Earth Day spurred ratification of the 26th amendment in record time.
Goal: Register! Elect a government whose priorities align with yours.
Action Ideas: Consider Pogo’s wise words for the first earth day in 1970.
Do you have a climate change “good news” story? Please send us your observations about environmental changes that have taken place in your own life in the past 50 years (or your current age, whichever comes first).
When people think of this beautiful planet threatened by destruction, it is not surprising that hearts fill with sadness. These feelings are painful, but it is possible to learn ways to control and convert those feelings.
Change your attitude: Dismay, yes. Despair, no.
Commonway Institute has provided workshops on global crisis and global solutions for over 30 years. A handful of participants take the challenge each time a workshop is offered, in contrast to the large numbers who sign up for “get rich quick” seminars provided by the guru of the day.
In his November blog article, Commonway’s Shariff Abdullah suggests that there are ways we can shift our focus to enable you to facilitate our coming together to survive and revive our world. The goal of his teachings has always been “a world that works for all”. Spend a little while (or a lot) on his new web site. I hope you will find his ideas inspiring.
Goal 1 for your home: Reduce your personal need for “the grid”.
Many laws and rules still act as roadblocks to making a home energy independent. New terminology in use is now aiming for “Zero Dependence”. Small solar and wind chargers produce only small amounts of power, but you may be able to strategically get enough independent juice to charge your devices, to run your PC, or med equip, or even a small refrigerator.
To prepare for coming blackouts and reduce your dependence on grid
energy, here are your first steps.
Tech devices: Change to battery operated devices for daily use, such as laptop or tablet.
Kitchen: Get a small battery or butane refrigerator and cook top.
Electricity: Add portable solar power options for travel and home.
A place to learn about options: The Prepared (https://theprepared.com) collects free, osessively-researched reviews of “prepper” gear for emergency home protection. This article reviews portable solar chargers.
“We reviewed 25 products and spent over 100 hours scientifically field testing the top 15 portable solar panels to find the best ones for modern survival. After considering price, durability, performance, size, and weight, we recommend the Ryno Tuff 21W Portable Solar Charger.”
Goal 2 for your home: Grow and protect your outdoor space
You can protect your home from climate disaster by changing the way you garden. Reduce your need for resources and help wildlife thrive and be protected by the plants you grow. Fire prevention has become a climate change issue as we have seen during the past few years, particularly in California, Oregon and Arizona.
In order to have your garden certified, your space must do all of the following: provide food, water, cover, a place to raise young, and be maintained in a way that has a positive effect on the health of the soil, air, water, and habitat for native wildlife. As of 2006, the program has certified over 60,000 ‘backyards’. Application and details: https://www.nwf.org/gardenforwildlife
Compelling messages have popped up during October in many surprising places from our parents and grandparents, who survived the 1935 man-made climate disaster called the “Dust Bowl”. Many important lessons can be found in their experiences to help those who face today’s climate crisis.
April 14, 1935 is known as Black Sunday. A dust storm darkened the sky from northern Canada to southern Texas. For those who want to learn historical details, this site has thorough research with lots of references … and photos:
Migration was one typical effect, as we have seen over and over when faced with climate disasters. Reaction to the onslaught of migrants was similar to what we have seen since 2016, except in the depression years of the 1930’s, there really, really were no jobs for anyone.
The Los Angeles police chief at the time was James “Two-Gun” Davis. Beginning in November of 1935, he sent 136 LAPD officers to 16 different California entry points, ones that bordered Arizona, Oregon, and Nevada with orders to turn back any incomers with “no visible means of support.” It was a harsh way to deal with the crisis and one that was not legal.
“By December, these officers had become known as the ‘Bum Brigade.’ They were given specific orders to search all incoming cars, wagons, and trains. Those who had ‘no means of support,’ no train ticket, or were under suspicion for ‘vagrancy’ were told to either leave the state or face jail time. Many choose to turn around and leave.”
Personal Stories of the Dust Bowl
From my own family, we were surprised to discover this story told by Mildred Adams, who migrated to California in 1938.
“We locked up our house and business, left unpaid bills to creditors, and our home for sale. We packed up all our worldly possessions we could carry, and loaded up the car, our 1933 Chevy, including Joann’s crib. I was still wearing a steel brace from my back injury. I really did not want to leave Colorado Springs, but to save Marvin’s life, I consented.” – Mildred Adams. Read the whole story
Out of the Dust: Story of a family who stayed. Some interesting Dust Bowl stories have been written about the experience of children and teens in families who stayed in their farms and homes, and tried to survive. – Karen Hesse: Out of the Dust
The Cyclone Line music tells the story for a new generation
In this beautiful “play with music”, Kat Eggleston’s stories and songs carry a compelling message for the future, packaged in an emotional family drama that everyone can understand. The play is named for the telephone party line that connected several Oklahoma families together. When a storm started up, the neighbors would alert those further down the line that trouble was coming.
Keep your eyes open for a production of this play to come your way. So far it has only been performed on Vashon Island in Washington. Ask her to bring it to your area or to make a film of it for everyone to see and hear.
Here are three songs from the version first performed in November 2016, with Kat’s descriptions below:
“My father was born in Michigan in 1923. When his family moved back to their original home in Oklahoma five years later, dad met kids who had never seen rain. This song is a recounting of his attempts to describe rain and the difference it could make to the dry devastation of the dustbowl. “
“As a kid in the dustbowl, dad used his terrific imagination to color a world that had gone grey. Because of Tarzan and another favorite character in the Sunday comics, he loved to pretend that the landscape around his house was actually Africa. I picture him talking to his youngest sister, trying to bring a sense of adventure to her life. “
THE CYCLONE LINE
“In the Oklahoma dustbowl, the telephone was often called the cyclone line. It was a party line, stretched over the barbed wire fence, and the when cyclones or dust storms kicked up, the neighbors would all get on the line, their voices becoming ghostly and distant as more of them joined in. The image is a powerful one that I use to listen to the voices of the past and bring them forward to our lives today. “
Learn about Latin American Regional Climate Issues
This Spanish language web site provides news and information for people in Costa Rica and Latin America. Here we have translated the introductory paragraphs about their site.
Eye on the climate tries to make climate change easier to understand. Born from the Weekly University of Costa Rica with the mission of providing costa rican and Latin American public with the best scientific and news information about the changes that the Earth experiences, its causes and the solutions within our reach.
Our scientific content is mostly taken from the Fifth Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the scientific body that investigates the issue from the United Nations, but we also include local and regional research, and the platform provides a space for new regional voices.
The FAQ’s are a good place to start in getting to know this site, if you want news about Latin American climate issues. If you want to post articles from their page, they publish under a free license. You are welcome to use their material for non-commercial purposes, as long as you credit them with a link to the cited article.
FAQ: What is global warming?
Global warming usually refers to global warming in the long run. The global temperature shows a clear increase since the late 19th century, with greater intensity from 1970; Earth has undergone a warming of its atmosphere and oceans, causing chain reactions across the planet. This wide range of changes occurring globally is known as climate change.
A damning new report from the United Nations says that the world’s oceans are undergoing drastic, accelerated change. And the risks associated with these changes to the climate are getting ever greater, threatening hundreds of millions of people and the global economy itself.
report, issued by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC), highlights the changes that are happening as a
result of increased emissions from greenhouse gases, including: sea
levels rising by three feet by 2100; significantly fewer fish in the
oceans; stronger hurricanes; and regular flooding in coastal cities such
as New York.
“Global warming has already reached 1 [degrees
Celsius] above the pre-industrial level, due to past and current
greenhouse gas emissions,” a press release issued in conjunction with
the report said. “There
is overwhelming evidence that this is resulting in profound
consequences for ecosystems and people. The ocean is warmer, more acidic
and less productive. Melting glaciers and ice sheets are causing sea
level rise, and coastal extreme events are becoming more severe.”
PLASTIC POLLUTION IN WORLDS’ OCEANS COULD HAVE $2.5 TRILLION IMPACT, STUDY SAYS
report, which was worked on by more than 100 scientists from 36
countries around the world, was approved by the 195 IPCC member
governments. Hoesung Lee, chair of the IPCC, said that all parts of the
globe, from the highest mountains to the deepest parts of the ocean, are
being affected in a faster manner.
“The open sea, the Arctic, the
Antarctic and the high mountains may seem far away to many people,” Lee
said in the press release. “But we depend on them and are influenced by
them directly and indirectly in many ways – for weather and climate,
for food and water, for energy, trade, transport, recreation and
tourism, for health and wellbeing, for culture and identity.”
hundred seventy million people live in high mountain regions, 680
million people are in low-lying coastal zones, 4 million live
“permanently” in the Arctic region and 65 million people live on small
island developing states, according to the report.
“The oceans and
the icy parts of the world are in big trouble and that means we’re all
in big trouble too,” one of the report’s lead authors, Michael
Oppenheimer, professor of geosciences and international affairs at
Princeton University, told the Associated Press. “The changes are
The press release notes that “without major
investments in adaptation,” rising flood risks are likely, some of which
could cause “some island nations” to become uninhabitable “due to
climate-related ocean and cryosphere change.”
NEW YORK CITY COULD SEE ‘ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME’ FLOODS EVERY YEAR 5 YEARS
The changes, which previous reports have said could shrink “virtually all” economies around the globe by 2100, will affect people, plants, food, societies, infrastructure, in addition to the global economy.
The oceans absorb more than 90
percent of the excess heat from carbon pollution in the air, as well as
much of the carbon dioxide itself. The seas warm more slowly than the
air but trap the heat longer with bigger side effects — and the report
links these waters with Earth’s snow and ice, called the cryosphere,
because their futures are interconnected.
“The world’s oceans and
cryosphere have been taking the heat for climate change for decades. The
consequences for nature and humanity are sweeping and severe,” said Ko
Barrett, vice chair of the IPCC and a deputy assistant administrator for
research at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
in the release.
The IPCC report adds to a previous report from the U.N. that some coastal cities and those in the Arctic region will have to adopt. The previous report, published on June 25 from the United Nations Human Rights Council, warned that a potential “climate apartheid” could fracture the global population, splitting the planet between the wealthy and the rest of the world who will be “left to suffer.”
CLIMATE CHANGE WILL SHRINK ‘VIRTUALLY ALL’ ECONOMIES AROUND THE GLOBE BY 2100, STUDY WARNS
report also notes that some of the changes to the Earth’s climate from
human-induced events can no longer be stopped, such as some rise in sea
levels. The report found that seas are now rising at 3.66 millimeters
per year, up from a previous estimate of 3 millimeters.
world’s oceans have already lost 1 percent to 3 percent of the oxygen
in their upper levels since 1970. As warming continues, the oceans will
lose more oxygen.
From 2006 to 2015, the ice melting from
Greenland, Antarctica and the world’s mountain glaciers has accelerated
and is now losing 720 billion tons (653 billion metric tons) of ice a
Arctic June snow cover has shrunk more than half since 1967, down nearly 1 million square miles (2.5 million square kilometers).
sea ice in September, the annual minimum, is down almost 13 percent per
decade since 1979. This year’s low, reported Monday, tied for the
second-lowest on record. If carbon pollution continues unabated, by the
end of the century there will be a 10 percent to 35 percent chance each
year that sea ice will disappear in the Arctic in September.
animals are likely to decrease 15 percent, and catches by fisheries, in
general, are expected to decline 21 percent to 24 percent by the end of
the century because of climate change.
MELTING PERMAFROST IN ARCTIC WILL HAVE $70 TRILLION IMPACT, NEW STUDY SAYS
report is conservative in some of its projections, including the levels
of ice lost in Greenland and Antarctica, NASA oceanographer Josh
Willis, who was not part of the study, told the AP.
done revising our sea level rise projections and we won’t be for a
while,” Willis said, adding that a rise in sea levels of twice the IPCC
projections is possible.
Despite the bleak nature of the report
and it stating that some changes to the Earth’s climate can longer be
stopped, all hope is not lost. It calls on governments around the world
to act and take swift action in an effort to mitigate some of the
“If we reduce emissions sharply, consequences
for people and their livelihoods will still be challenging, but
potentially more manageable for those who are most vulnerable,” Lee said
in the release. “We increase our ability to build resilience and there
will be more benefits for sustainable development.”
“Cutting greenhouse gas emissions will limit impacts on ocean ecosystems that provide us with food, support our health and shape our cultures,” Hans-Otto Pörtner, co-chair of IPCC Working Group II, concurred. “Reducing other pressures such as pollution will further help marine life deal with changes in their environment while enabling a more resilient ocean.”