Today, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke received recommendations from his staff to reduce conservation efforts that currently protect the iconic sage grouse and its habitat, risking the survival of this bird and the more than 350 species these same lands support.
Drawdown Offers 100 Uplifting Climate Solutions
If our current administration’s head-in-the-sand approach to climate change leaves you with a sinking feeling, I’ve got just the book to buoy you: Paul Hawken’s Drawdown.
Drawdown leapt onto the New York Times top ten bestseller list in its first week of release, validating Hawken’s belief that a positive approach to this potentially overwhelming crisis is the best way to address it. He characterizes global warming not “as an inevitability, but as an invitation to build, innovate, and effect change.”
The Project Drawdown campaign invites you to join a global community of visionary individuals who’ve got an astonishing range of ideas on how we can tackle our climate crisis, no matter where we live or who governs us.
Even if you just leaf (or scroll) casually through the list of amazing breakthroughs that Hawken and his Drawdown colleagues have so painstakingly compiled and ranked according to their potential effectiveness, you can’t help being inspired and encouraged by all these ‘silver bbs.’ It makes for a surprisingly fun and fascinating read.
Lego (yes, the toy company) is doing wind power in Liverpool. The French have invented photovoltaic pavement. More universal solutions we can all adopt include limiting food waste and embracing a plant-based diet, which Drawdown ranks as the 3rd and 4th most powerful strategies to reduce our emissions. Drawdown provides an extensive list of agriculture-related climate change solutions being developed or already in use all over the world that we can encourage through our food choices.
One of the most unexpected conclusions of the Drawdown researchers was that the empowerment of women and girls through family planning and education rank as the 6th and 7th most effective solutions.
Why is this? In developing nations in particular, women are the “stewards & managers of food, soil, trees, and water.” How we utilize these resources plays an integral role in determining whether we are contributing to, or reducing, our carbon footprint. As Drawdown notes, “the barriers are real, but so are the solutions.”
Hawken thinks framing these challenges as a battle does nothing to engage people who aren’t already on board, and it may even alienate potential allies. How do we enlist people of all political stripes to move us forward?
Drawdown points out that the Latin root of “conserve” means “to keep together.” A true conservative, then, would want to keep the planet we all share from being torn apart by greed, ignorance or fear. Or rendered uninhabitable, as it may be in a few generations if we don’t take action now.
In the book’s introduction, Tom Steyer, the philanthropist and founder of NextGen Climate, describes Project Drawdown as “a road map with a moral compass.” It’s hard to know where this country is headed, but I’d love to see Drawdown steer millions more of us onto Hawken’s hopeful highway. Traffic jam? Bring it on! We could get out of our cars and dance, a la La La Land. Doesn’t that beat feeling defeated?
Fight Energy Waste from Your Phone
Have you noticed stores that keep their doors open while running the air conditioning on hot summer days? Has this bothered you? Now you can do something about it!
Join Keep It Cool, a national campaign mobilizing consumers to help convince retailers to close their doors and stop wasting energy. Participating is easy. All you have to do is spot front doors on shops, and use Facebook Messenger to drop a pin on a national map that tracks all of the stores identified with doors open or closed.
The campaign organizers will recognize shops that “Keep It Cool” with closed doors and reach out to educate retailers who allow energy to escape through their open doors.
“Our Keep it Cool campaign empowers consumers to anonymously have an impact on wasteful behaviors in their own neighborhoods. And it gives retailers the opportunity to do the right thing and showcase their green values. This is good for business, the community and the environment,” said Nate McFarland, director of communications at Generation 180, the nonprofit organizer of the campaign committed to advancing a cultural shift in energy awareness and clean energy adoption.
Retailers that run the air conditioning during hot summer months and open their doors to attract customers drive up costs, waste energy and increase pollution. Just the simple act of closing doors can reduce pollution significantly. On average, each store with a door open wastes about 4,200 kWh of electricity over the summer. Generating this much electricity releases about 2.2 tons of carbon dioxide – the same amount of pollution emitted by a diesel semi-truck driving from New York to Miami.
The success of Keep It Cool depends on you participating and sharing activities with your friends and social networks. Everyone who cares about the environment can join in the effort this summer to help make your community cleaner and smarter.
To learn more visit keepitcool.org and join the conversation by following @Gen_180 and #KeepItCool.
Bee the Change: 10 Simple Steps to Save Bees
Adapted from the Friends of the Earth blog
Bees and other pollinators are essential parts of the food system, and are necessary for about 75% of our global food crops. Honey bees also contribute over $15 billion to the US economy.
That’s why EarthShare member Friends of the Earth was so alarmed to discover that between April of 2016 and March of 2017, beekeepers lost a stunning 33.2% of their bee colonies. This follows a recent trend of alarming bee population decline.
Neonicotinoids, the most commonly used class of insecticides, are a key factor in bee declines. The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for reviewing and evaluating the dangers of all pesticides, but the Trump Administration has proposed cutting the budget for those programs by 20%.
“Without protections from an adequately funded EPA, beekeepers stand little to no chance of getting the help they need, and this dire problem will only get worse,” said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, food futures campaigner with Friends of the Earth. “With bee populations declining at such an alarming rate, the EPA should be getting more funding, not less, to protect our critical pollinators.”
Everyone can do their part to save bees and other pollinators that we rely on for one of every three bites of food we eat. You can take the following eight actions to be a pollinator champion:
- Call Congress. The EPA is tasked with ensuring all Americans have access to clean air and water, is already operating with limited funds. They also regulate the pesticides that are killing bees. Call your members of Congress and tell them to preserve EPA funding.
- Ask your city to pass pollinator protection policies. Friends of the Earth and the Responsible Purchasing Network released a new guide called Buyers Bee-Ware to help you make a difference in your community. Encourage your city to follow the example of places like Eugene, OR that have passed neonicotinoid bans.
- Plant native vegetation to attract pollinators using the Xerces Society’s “Pollinator Friendly Plant Lists.” This step will increase the biodiversity of your yard or garden while providing forage for bees, butterflies and birds.
- Mow the lawn less often to let clover and other flowering weeds grow. These will provide a nutritious habitat for bees and other pollinators. Avoid products that are meant to kill these beneficial plants.
- Grow organic. Avoid fungicides, insecticides and other toxic pesticides whenever possible in your yard. To control weeds, use mechanical methods (like barriers or physical removal) and biological methods (like placing nematodes and other microorganisms in your garden).
- Buy organic. Buying organic products ensures that you are not consuming neonics or promoting their use. Organic farms support up to 50% more pollinators than conventional farms.
- Educate your neighbors. Circulate educational materials to teach your peers why pollinators are so important and encourage others to adopt bee-friendly behaviors.
- Provide nesting sites for bees. Giving pollinators nesting and living space on your property. Ask your local beekeepers association for advice and instructions.
- Relocate (rather than destroy) hives. Contact a removal service or a local beekeeping organization to help with hive removal if it is becoming a safety hazard on your property.
- Advocate for green rooftops in your city. Green rooftops are a great way to create pollinator habitat in urban areas! Ask your city council to provide incentives for residents to make their rooftops diverse, pollinator-friendly habitat to support these critical species.
Rachel Skaar is a Montanan, outdoorswoman and conservationist.