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Two Environmental Books I Love

I read a lot. Sometimes I need to remind myself to stop reading and start writing.

Tonight I compromised: here are my thoughts on two environmental books that have shaped the way I think about and approach the environment and climate problems that humanity faces today.


“Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains are Wired to Ignore Climate Change” by George Marshall

This book is an “easier” read (less dense than the other), but it still asks a lot of its reader, mainly to take responsibility and change your behavior based on what you learn from it. Marshall does a great job laying out a Western psychology-based case for why it is so difficult to generate collective action to improve climate change problems.

He quotes veteran ABC journalist Bill Blackmore saying that

“climate change isn’t the elephant in the room; it’s the elephant we’re all inside of.”

After Marshall explains why climate change is so difficult to accept and take action on, he gives his best suggestions for moving forward. The thing that stuck out the most to me is that the “enemy narratives”, even against fossil fuel companies, will not be enough for collective action because

“Climate change is different. The missing truth, deliberately avoided in these enemy narratives, is that in high-carbon societies, everyone contributes to the emissions that cause the problem and everyone has a strong reason to ignore the problem or to write their own alibi.”

He also says that

“I have been convinced that the real battle for mass action will not be won through enemy narratives and that we need to find narratives based on cooperation, mutual interests, and our common humanity.”

“Nature’s Trust: Environmental Law for a New Ecological Age” by Mary C. Wood

This amazing book begins with the following premise, which is difficult to swallow but critical to accept:

“Despite entrenched presumptions that environmental law remains effective, the proof lies in the health of the ecosystems themselves. Society now violates Nature’s laws not only at the level of species and individual ecosystems but also at the level of atmospheric function, ocean health, and biodiversity – a truly global level.”

Wood has meticulously researched and explained the history of how environmental law has gone astray and become the subject of corruption since the 1970’s.

Then Wood explains that there is a better legal framework based on the Public Trust Doctrine, an ancient legal principle that is part of the U.S. Constitution (as well as the founding documents and laws of many states and countries). An incredibly generalized version of the legal framework goes like this: the natural world and its natural resources form Nature’s Trust, on which the health of society (local, natural, global) depends, and the government is responsible for managing Nature’s Trust with a level of care that restores it and then keeps in healthy for current citizens and future generations of citizens.

The Nature’s Trust principle can be the basis of lawsuits against governments who are not taking proper care of Nature’s Trust, forming new laws that protect the environment and society, and a populist principle that can rally citizens together to create a better world.

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The White Walkers are Climate Change Part 2

About two months ago, on the weekend of the Game of Thrones Season 7 premiere, I published an article laying out my theory that Game of Thrones is an allegory for the Climate Change problem that our world must face now, and that each of the characters (or group of characters) have real-life representatives in the Climate Change realm (a.k.a. our material reality).

I want to write about this because it’s fun for me to think about, and I’m amazed at how well Game of Thrones tracks our Climate Change situation. I don’t have to try very hard to make these comparisons, and doing it helps me smile at a dire situation.

Here is a list of the comparisons that I made in the first article:

Now that Season 7 is over, here are a few comments about how well my theory held up over the most recent seven episodes of Game of Thrones.

  1. The White Walkers are tracking as Climate Change. They are increasing their size and power, just as the increased amount of energy in the atmosphere is fueling more extreme weather events and destruction around the globe. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are the tip of the iceberg and only effect a small percentage of the world’s population. Other storms hit other places just as hard if not harder.
  2. House Stark is doing better than the Democratic Party.
  3. House Lannister is a bit weaker/smaller than Companies that Value Profits Over Everything Else, but otherwise the analogy still applies. I’d like to change the name, though, and call it Organizations that Value Profits and/or Power Over Everything Else.
  4. Women are still matching Sansa Stark quite well, while the Youth are playing out as Arya. Everyone is maturing, and learning to set their own plots and execute their own strategies without being so transparent about it beforehand.
  5. I wish that Technologists were as humble and yielding as Melisandre in Season 7, but nope. There are a lot of Technologists who believe that human ingenuity will save humanity and allow developed countries to continue their over-consumptive lifestyles, but at what cost to life?
  6. Jon Snow is still an Environmental Justice Activist! Jon Snow keeps on building bridges, connecting dots, and inspiring different groups of people to fight alongside one another against the common enemy. I see this happening in the real-life work of Environmental Justice Activists around the world.
  7. Drumroll for the craziest part . . . Daenerys and Beyoncé are tracking one another in unexpected and amazing ways. In Season 7, Daenerys finally sees the White Walkers and loses one of her Dragon children to the Army of the Dead, so she forms an alliance with Jon Snow and commits to defeating the White Walkers before pursuing the Iron Throne. Over the past couple of months, Beyoncé had twins and made a few social media appearances to keep her fans happy, but then Hurricane Harvey, fueled by Climate Change, wreaked havoc on her home city of Houston, Texas. And Beyoncé took action immediately – she even talked about how Climate Change is a social justice issue in a new video. I’m blown away by her response to this disaster (and her ability to connect the dots in her video), and I hope that all of her fans take her message as seriously as I do, because there is real power in numbers committed to facing the problem of Climate Change right now.

 

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The Animals of Animalia

My podcast begins by saying that I interview people who are “keeping things alive in work and play,” but I more-or-less never bring up the play part.

So this is a fun post that lists out the animals depicted on each letter page of Animalia by Graeme Base. Well, not all the animals, only the ones that are obvious and “real” (not a painting, photo, or statue in the illustration). And I didn’t look any of them up (if I am missing any, which I am, please let me know!).

Continue reading “The Animals of Animalia”

Interview

Podcast Episode 004: Sister Eileen O’Connor Shownotes

The first six episodes of Season 1 of the Keeping Things Alive podcast showcase my interviews with six leaders of the 2015 Rise Up for Climate Justice movement in Buffalo, New York. This movement started a few months after Pope Francis published his Encyclical, On Care for Our Common Home, and a few months before the 2015 Paris Climate Conference. I was fortunate enough to participate in many of the events, and I was so impressed with the diversity and energy of the activists that came together during this time.

My fourth interview is with Sister Eileen O’Connor, who is a Sister of Mercy, organizer for the Interfaith Climate Justice Community, and has given talks on the Pope’s Encyclical throughout Western New York. In this interview we talk about the meaning of social justice, the importance of taking care of the Earth, and how the Sisters of Mercy research their investments and other businesses they use to make sure they are in line with their values.

Here are the shownotes, with links to more information about what we talk about during my interview with Sister Eileen O’Connor:

Interview

Podcast Episode 003: Roger Cook Shownotes

The first six episodes of Season 1 of the Keeping Things Alive podcast showcase my interviews with six leaders of the 2015 Rise Up for Climate Justice movement in Buffalo, New York. This movement started a few months after Pope Francis published his Encyclical, On Care for Our Common Home, and a few months before the 2015 Paris Climate Conference. I was fortunate enough to participate in many of the events, and I was so impressed with the diversity and energy of the activists that came together during this time.

My third interview is with Roger Cook, who is the Chair of the Western New York Working Families Party Issues Committee, Chair of the Sierra Club political committee, former Director of the Western New York Council on Occupational Safety & Health, and Founder of the Ecumenical Task Force of the Niagara Frontier, which advocated for the relocation of Love Canal and Forest Glen residents and built the NYS Labor-Environment Coalition.

Here are the shownotes, with links to more information about what we talk about during my interview with Roger Cook:

Interview

Podcast Episode 002: Jim Anderson Shownotes

The first six episodes of Season 1 of the Keeping Things Alive podcast showcase my interviews with six leaders of the 2015 Rise Up for Climate Justice movement in Buffalo, New York. This movement started a few months after Pope Francis published his Encyclical, On Care for Our Common Home, and a few months before the 2015 Paris Climate Conference. I was fortunate enough to participate in many of the events, and I was so impressed with the diversity and energy of the activists that came together during this time.

My second interview is with Jim Anderson who is a peace activist, the President of Peace Action New York State, the Vice President of the Citizen Action New York Board of Directors, and a founding member of the National Black United Front. In this interview, we discuss the importance of teamwork, his experiences as an activist from the late 1960’s to today, and strategies that progressive groups can implement to be more effective in bringing people into the movement.

Here are the shownotes, with links to more information about what we talk about during my interview with Jim Anderson:

Interview

Podcast Episode 001: Lynda Schneekloth Shownotes

The first six episodes of Season 1 of the Keeping Things Alive podcast showcase my interviews with six leaders of the 2015 Rise Up for Climate Justice movement in Buffalo, New York. This movement started a few months after Pope Francis published his Encyclical, On Care for Our Common Home, and a few months before the 2015 Paris Climate Conference. I was fortunate enough to participate in many of the events, and I was so impressed with the diversity and energy of the activists that came together during this time.

My first interview is with Lynda Schneekloth, who spearheaded the 2015 Rise Up for Climate Justice movement and organized many of the major events. Lynda is the advocacy chair of Western New York Environmental Alliance, Professor Emerita at the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning, former Sierra Club Niagara Group chair, co-founder of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, and a grandmother. We discuss a variety of topics during this interview, including her background, co-founding Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, geothermal energy, and her experience with the 2015 Rise Up for Climate Justice campaign.

Here are the shownotes, with links to more information about what we talk about during my interview with Lynda Schneekloth: