Category: Climate Change

It Gets Wetter. A Queer Response to Climate Change

There is movement afoot among LGBTQ folks concerned about global warming. Queers for Climate, a group out of New York City, is trying to creatively communicate the threat of sea rise and flooding in the NY Metropolitan area. New York City will get wetter as lots of other places dry out. Turns out this is what alarms me or than all those poor polar bears stranded on ice flows. It’s easy to ignore those distant white bears, but in this short video in voicing what alarms me, I reveal just how shallow I am .

We are not Gonna Recycle our way out of this Mess

I’m about to piss off some people, but enough already with the recycling.

queer recycle

Not that recycling is a bad thing. It is a very good thing. It is the moral, pragmatic, and responsible thing to do. It feels good too. I love rinsing out the empty baked bean tins, the wine, beer, and gin bottles, and the plastic cleaning jugs. I feel so content sorting them into their appropriate bins, then carting them off to the municipal recycling center where I dump the cans and plastics into larger bins then gleefully toss the glass bottles (hear them smash!) into the dumpsters that correspond to their colors–brown, green, blue, clear. I come home, rinse out my bins, stack them up in my utility room, and start all over again. Recycling feels good. Satisfying.

I feel like I should get a gold star for recycling or a certificate declaring:

Congratulations! You have done your part for the environment.

Recycling seems to have a built-in, feel-good quality to it, one that has been marketed along with the slogan: If we each just do our part, together we will save the planet.

That’s why I think we should stop recycling. Like most products hawked at us, recycling doesn’t deliver on its promise. In light of the colossal changes that our governments and businesses need to make in order to radically reduce greenhouse gases, our individual efforts are about as effective as curing a cancer patient by giving her a gentle pat on the back. It’s sweet, loving, appreciated, but ineffective in saving her life.

Are you feeling defensive? I understand if you are. I am desecrating a sacred rite of modern liberal environmentalism. But the reality is that in the face of the climate crisis that is upon us–the urgent need to force our leaders to act boldly and quickly, the scale of the problem we face–all of our efforts to sort those cans, bottles, plastic jugs, newspapers, glossy print magazines, and flattened cardboard boxes, is about as futile as rearranging the deck chairs on a sinking Titanic. Deny it. Try to negotiate if you must. Get angry with me. Grow depressed. These are the necessary stages of grief many of us need to experience before we come to a place of accepting the shit storm that is upon us.

Of course recycle. It is a good thing. But as you rinse out that tin and sort those bottles and tie up those newspapers so neatly and set out the recycling for pick up or take it yourself, do so with the knowledge that these efforts will not save us. Don’t let the recycling euphoria sooth away the growing urgency to act as your life depends on it–because it does.

Want to do more than recycle? Consider attending the People’s Climate March Sept 21 in NYC and check out the LGBTQ Climate Manifesto. If you can’t get there, attend a regional event that same day or organize one yourself. Have teach-in to educate yourself, your friends, faith community, and neighbors.

Want to do more than just a one-day event? (I’m liking your enthusiasm!) Check out the Citizens Climate Lobby, a group that is assertively looking to place a fee on greenhouse gases as a way to radically cut consumption. They even have a plan to help households deal with the higher energy prices that will come with a carbon fee.

We will not recycle our way out of this crisis, no matter how good it feels. But there is still plenty we can and must do. What’s your next step?

(photo credit for TV Elephant Recycling : CoolFunPic.com)

Climate Criminals, Big Vulnerable Mammals, and A Harbor Garbage Muncher : Prescott’s Climate Links #8

“We know the shit is gonna hit the fan; we just don’t know how much shit and how big of a fan we’re gonna need  to deal with it.” -Marvin Bloom from Does This Apocalypse Make Me Look Fat?

Regularly I provide you with links to just three articles about Climate Change and Climate Action. From hundreds of articles that Prescott Allen Hazelton, one of my team members, sends me,  I pick the ones that help me best understand the problems we face, and articles that give me hope.

In this edition a clever invention that helps clean up trash in the water and harsh words for Climate Criminals in Australia. But first a piece about extinction. Such an awful word. A sad word when I think of wildlife. A terrifying word when I think of the human race.  With extinction, the bigger they are the faster they fall. That is what some researchers are saying about the the mass extinction that we have been witnessing. The winners will be all those little guys–insects, rodents, bacteria. The losers? Elephants and other large mammals

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Stanford biologist warns of early stages of Earth’s 6th mass extinction event by Bjorn Carey for Stanford.edu News. 

extinction_news

Since 1500, more than 320 terrestrial vertebrates have become extinct. Populations of the remaining species show a 25 percent average decline in abundance. The situation is similarly dire for invertebrate animal life.

And while previous extinctions have been driven by natural planetary transformations or catastrophic asteroid strikes, the current die-off can be associated to human activity, a situation that the lead author Rodolfo Dirzo, a professor of biology at Stanford, designates an era of “Anthropocene defaunation.”

Across vertebrates, 16 to 33 percent of all species are estimated to be globally threatened or endangered. Large animals – described as megafauna and including elephants, rhinoceroses, polar bears and countless other species worldwide – face the highest rate of decline, a trend that matches previous extinction events.

Larger animals tend to have lower population growth rates and produce fewer offspring. They need larger habitat areas to maintain viable populations. Their size and meat mass make them easier and more attractive hunting targets for humans.

Read the whole article here.

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‘Climate Criminality’: Australia OKs Biggest Coal Mine by Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams.
Environmental groups slam decision that will ‘dump on’ Great Barrier Reef, fuel climate crisis

protectthereef

In a decision criticized as “climate criminality,” Australia’s federal government announced Monday that it has given the OK to the country’s biggest coal mine.

The announcement comes less than three months after the state of Queensland gave its approval to the project.

“With this decision,” wrote Ben Pearson, head of programs for Greenpeace Australia Pacific, “the political system failed to protect the Great Barrier Reef, the global climate and our national interest.”

“Off the back of repealing effective action on climate change,” stated Australian Greens environment spokesperson Senator Larissa Waters, referring to the scrapping of the carbon tax, “the Abbott Government has ticked off on a proposal for Australia’s biggest coal mine to cook the planet and turn our Reef into a super highway for coal ships.”

Read the whole article here.

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Solar-Powered Water Wheel Can Clean 50,000 Pounds of Baltimore’s Trash Per Day by Brandon Baker at Billmoyers.com

water2

A large wheel has been strolling the Baltimore Inner Harbor this summer, doing its best to clean the trash that has littered a city landmark and tourist attraction.

It’s called the Inner Harbor Water Wheel, and though it moves slowly, it has the capability to collect 50,000 pounds of trash. The timing for John Kellett’s solar-powered creation is crucial — hands and crab nets simply can’t keep up with the growing amount of wrappers, cigarette butts, bottles and other debris carried from storm drains into the harbor.

“It looks sort of like a cross between a spaceship and a covered wagon and an old mill,” Kellett told NPR. “It’s pretty unique in its look, but it’s also doing a really good job getting this trash out of the water.”

Read the whole article here and check out the cool video of the Inner Harbor Water Wheel.

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Check out previous editions of Prescott’s Climate Links. And Let us know what you are interested in understanding better. Where do you find hope?

(photos come from articles listed)

People’s Climate March Posters

Have you heard about the People’s Climate March in NYC on September 21th, 2014? Are you going??? It’s gonna be big–a massive mobilization of people demanding climate action. On their blog, organizers have lots of information. I’m happy to see that they rely heavily on art to communicate their message. They have designed beautiful and engaging posters that I am featuring here on my blog. Click on the photos to get the full view.

I plan on being at the March in September as part of an LGBTQ contingent, Queers for the Climate. We recently wrote a manifesto: It’s Our Fight Too: An LGBTQ Response to Climate Change, and I am thrilled to have my name on it along with Rev. Nancy Wilson of the Metropolitan Community Church, and artists like Alan Cumming, Justin Vivian Bond, and Lady Bunny. Even if you cannot attend the March, you can sign the manifesto and get the word out.

Creative and Clever Responses to Global Warming — Prescott’s Climate Links #7

It is one thing to be alarmed about Climate Change, but what does one do with all that alarm? As we gain a deeper understanding of how absolutely dire the climate crisis has become, it is essential to see that many people are working overtime to develop creative, clever, and substantial responses to Global Warming. In this issue of Prescott’s Climate Links, we focus on solutions including one you can do on your very own.

Three Climate Solution Stories

hacking-climate-bwHacking the Climate: The Search for Solutions to the World’s Greatest Challenge by John Harte at Grist.

(excerpt) Today, around the world, governments as well as everyday people are taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the primary drivers of climate disruption. They’re finding the results of these actions go far beyond curbing global warming: They are also creating jobs, enhancing water quality, increasing crop yields, reducing waste, and improving health. These are the co-benefits of combatting climate change.

The public needs to know about these co-benefits. And so, with considerable input from journalism faculty at UC Berkeley, I led a follow-up graduate-level course, entitled “Early Solutions: Stories from the frontlines of the battle against climate change,” focused on the co-benefits of taking steps to deal with climate change.

The result is five stories, each exploring the various ways individuals and communities throughout the world are addressing climate change and, in return, enjoying the many co-benefits of their actions.

read more at Grist.org

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Whenever I hear about seed banks, like the powerful story of the seed bank during the Siege of Leningrad or the Svaldard Global Seed Vault in Norway,  I am almost moved to tears. Storing seed for me evokes both belief in the future and the foreboding that things can go terribly wrong. Similarly the following story Prescott shared with me caused me to tear up because of the challenges faced by these farmers and the hopeful strategy to survive.

Indigenous Seed Savers Gather in the Andes, Agree to Fight Climate Change with Biodiversity by Erin Sagen for Yes! Magazine

(excerpt) They came from as far as Bhutan and China, and from as near as the mountain itself. They discovered that their cultures were more similar than they had expected, and that one concern had been troubling all of them: Climate change was making it harder to grow food on the mountains that had sustained them for centuries. They were meeting to do something about it.

During a series of talks held between April 26 and May 2, the farmers forged a unique partnership entailing the exchange of indigenous crop varieties and farming methods, which they hope will protect agricultural biodiversity in the face of climate change. The exchange will begin with potatoes—a sturdy crop that thrives in the mountains of China, Bhutan, and Peru—and will enable the farmers to experiment together from a distance, so they can find the hardiest, most resilient varieties.

Read more here. image-1

 

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Finally a story that hits too close to home. I was a vegan for nearly 10 years, but since moving down to from Hartford, CT to Central Pennsylvania to be with the man I love, I have seen a expansion of my diet (and my waist). My husband, the fabulous writer, Glen Retief, is the slippery slope of omnivore living. We sit down to eat–I with my brown rice and veggies, he with a platter of animal products–when suddenly in his seductive South African accent he coos, You have to try to amazing cheese, and as I open my mouth to decline, he pops the hunk of cheese (or smoked trout or grilled lamb) in my mouth. Now that we have access to high quality, locally raised eggs and animals, I have feel off the vegan wagon.

Our diets do make a difference. A vegetable-based diet usually improves one’s health, contributes to a more peaceful world (with less killer of animals and maiming of meat packing industry workers), and aids the environment. These arguments still move me, and I am not completely happy with my current diet. To make me look at the issue deeper, here come Avatar director, James Cameron and his wife Amis, with a campaign to decrease animal products in our diets.

MPW-49433

James Cameron and wife to launch campaign advocating sustainable plant-only based diet by Jo Confino for the Guardian.

The couple initially quit eating meat and dairy for health reasons and Amis Cameron points to studies coming out of China from doctors and scientists that she says shows a strong connection between the consumption of animal products and major health problems such as heart disease and cancer.

As they delved further into the subject, they recognised that the meat and dairy industry is also the elephant in the room when it comes to climate change.

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Amis Cameron says momentum is starting to build around highlighting the issue and says she is heartened by recent studies in the UK showing the importance of reducing meat consumption. Last week the journal Climatic Change published a major study in the UK which found the dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat eaters were more than twice as high as for vegans.

Read more here

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If you read and enjoy this Prescott’s Climate Links series, please leave a message. Let us know what sort of stories move you and interest you. What do you want to hear more about? What do you want to learn about Global Warming? Check out previous editions of Prescott’s Climate Links.

photos (except Avatar poster) taken from articles above

The Homosexual Agenda vs. the Fossil Fuel Lifestyle

We have been distracted  from reality these past 30 years. Conservatives and Liberals have been caught up in skirmishes about what happens in the bedroom and who has the legal right to be there together. We have fought on the front lines over identity, having to stand up to protect what hold dear. For Conservative Christians it’s been the fear that something valuable and traditional might be lost bringing about horrible consequences. For LGBTQ people its been real loses over and over. As a result we demanded that our basics need be met, the rights to be full citizens with the same legal rights as everyone else, to live openly as who we are with the one we love without retaliation in our homes and families, on our jobs, or in the streets. Fear breeds conflict, and for over 30 years we have lived in a whirlwind of fear soaked cultural wars.

All the while, as we have attacked and counterattacked and strategized and raised money, the planet has changed under our feet. LGBTQ Rights are important, no doubt. People need safety, security, and the same rights as everyone else. We need to continue the fight for transgender rights and consider the urgent needs of LGBTQ teens and seniors as we also take part in the global struggle for LGBTQ human rights. But in light of Global Warming, we also need to work together, laying down our arms against each other–Conservatives, Liberals, Radicals, Heterosexuals, Cisgender, and LGBTQ folks, to address the current and growing climate crisis. We all come to the table with lots of skills and experience, some of which we developed as we fought against each other. Now we have to come together to face a common foe, one of our own making. We got ourselves into this mess, and we are going to have to work together to to get ourselves out of it. 

Prescott’s Climate Links #6

Every week Prescott Allen Hazelton, one of my team members who lives up in New England, sends me 20-50 links on climate change. I read through these and handpick just three. This time around I have selected articles about renewable energy. There is a race to develop new technologies and use existing ones so that we can meet our energy needs without burning greenhouse gases. Electricity is essential for most people in the world, well, except maybe my Amish neighbors.

I used to think that if we switched to wind and solar, our energy needs would be completely met by clean renewables, but I didn’t understand about intermittence–the need to fill in the gaps when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining. Natural gas has been filling in some of these gaps, but we need to discover ways to store more energy and find alternative ways of addressing the alternative energy downtimes. (You can learn more here: Intermittent Energy Source)

Although wind and solar are not yet 100% clean sources because of the intermittency issue, they are still a whole like cleaner than burning coal, which is what has been the standard fuel source for many power stations globally. Everyday more and more alternative energy options are expanding. Here are three stories about renewable energy in the US, Denmark, Germany, India, and beyond.

Half of all New Energy Capacity in the US This Year is Renewable

According to the latest  Energy Infrastructure Update from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, solar and wind energy constituted more than half of the new generating capacity in the country for the first half of 2014.  Solar and wind energy combined for 1.83 gigawatts (GW) of the total 3.53 GW installed from January to June.

It’s Our Fight Too: An LGBTQ Response to Climate Change

As a member of the Queers for the Climate group  I will take an active role in the upcoming People’s Climate March on September 21, 2014. This past week I had the privilege to work with a group of others on creating a manifesto which serves as a call to action. Through a consensus process, we developed the following statement. Please consider getting involved over at the Queers for the Climate Facebook page, sign onto the manifesto (details below) and please share this manifesto on your own blog and through your social networks.

 

It’s Our Fight Too: An LGBTQ Response to Climate Change

We are LGBTQ people and we’re standing up to face climate change as the single biggest threat to humanity.

Progress on LGBTQ equality has demonstrated to the world that all people deserve dignity and respect. We must build on our successes to include future generations and those already suffering the impacts of climate changes.

Catastrophic climate change has the potential to further destabilize already stressed societies.Queer people, like many minority or marginalized communities around the world, will be especially vulnerable. We believe that LGBTQ movements have a responsibility to address the climate crisis now, before our community is placed at further risk.

We’ve trained for this fight. We have faced persecution because of who we are and stood up to those who denied our existence. Our communities faced near extinction throughout the early HIV/AIDS crisis. Today we are all facing the grave threat of an unstable climate.

While governments and corporations refused to acknowledge the severity of the AIDS crisis — an eerie parallel to the response to date on climate change — we educated the masses, told our stories, harnessed the media, raised money, and in a very short time moved nations and industries to act on behalf of people living with HIV around the world.

We’ve also made same-sex marriage, once unimaginable, a reality on almost every continent — now we must build on our successes by tackling our generation’s greatest challenge. We’ve already moved mountains, and we will do it again.

Lastly, we recognize that LGBTQ communities share a rich tradition of creative, fun, thought-provoking action. We build powerful alliances across classes, races, gender identities, and nationalities.

This moment is our opportunity to reignite these talents and our shared experiences toward a cause that benefits all people and the planet as a whole.

As a signatory to this letter*, I will do one or more of the below:

*To add your name or your organization to this letter, please email: queers-for-the-climate (at) googlegroups.com or joseph (at) avaaz.org

·      I will join the People’s Climate March on September 21st in New York City, and show my support by marching with the LGBTQ block

·      I will spread the word to my constituents, my business partners, my friends, family and community about the People’s Climate March

·      I will use social media, email blasts and other digital tools to rally support for the march in the weeks leading up to September 21st

Andy Bichlbaum, the Yes Men
Queers for the Climate

Act up global warming

Prescott’s Climate Links #5

Global Warming. Will technology save us? I know many of us hold onto a hope that some great invention will solve all of our climate woes. As you will see in our third link, addressing global warming will take more than just technology. But first, when I think of Global Warming, I don’t typically think of polar bears, bees, or sea coral–not that the threats they face are not real or urgent. I instead think of the people affected by climate change. I can’t help but think of myself and my husband and our friends and family in North America, Europe, and Southern Africa, and things we value that are at risk of being lost forever along with the feelings of fear over the uncertainty of it all.

I also think of other people–farmers, women in Subsaharan Africa, and poor and working class people in cities around the world who have always had to deal with more pollution in their communities than their richer neighbors.  Before we look at technology first let’s consider links to two stories that look at people disproportionately affected by climate change–poor communities in California cities and women in Jamaica.

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For the past 18 months the state of California has implemented a carbon cap-and-trade program collecting millions of dollars from companies who pollute. According to the original law, 25% of the revenue is suppose to go towards poorer communities adversely affected by pollution. Because of a budget shortfall last year, Governor Jerry Brown diverted that money (500 million dollars,) but at last these funds are going in the right place.

Under the new budget, about $230 million, or 26 percent, of the $872 million cap-and-trade money will go toward environmental justice efforts. That includes $75 million to weatherize low-income homes and $25 million for transit and intercity rail networks in poor communities. A program called Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities run by the state’s Strategic Growth Council will get $130 million to plan and build new housing and add amenities like public transit to existing neighborhoods.

Calif. Earmarks a Quarter of its Cap-and-Trade Riches for Environmental Justice by Amy Nordrum, Inside Climate News

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Throughout the developing world, women and girls are expected to face a harder time of it because of global warming. A recent series of papers out of Jamaica looks at some of the impacts of natural disasters and drought based on gender.

Apart from hurricanes, water shortages and droughts are also consequences of climate change which impact the poor and vulnerable within the society. Women and children in rural areas often find themselves having to go in search of water for domestic use.

“Women in general make up a large number of the vulnerable in communities that are highly dependent on local natural resources to survive,” said Tesi Scott.

Women said more vulnerable to climate change, Jamaica Observer

 

If you want to learn more about climate change and women, read the UN’s Women Watch page, Women, Gender Equality and Climate Change.

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I find that my mind repels the idea that Global Warming is as serious as scientists say it is. Who can grasp the magnitude of the crisis without denying it in part or negotiating its impacts away? “Well, I recycle,” we say trying comfort ourselves believing that if we each did our part, we will ultimately lick this current crisis. When we realize that our individual efforts do not even begin to come close enough to addressing the problem, we look to science and innovation for a cure, “Surely technology will save us.”

No doubt technology will play a large part in helping us to mitigate and adapt to climate change. We will need to develop all sorts of new technologies to capture carbon and create new energy sources that do not pollute. We are not there yet, and we need to dispossess ourselves of the notion that we can simply rely on technology to pull us out of the climate mess. Doug Struck of the Boston Globes recently wrote about a talk given by a Swiss scientist visiting the US.

“Technology will bring us a long way. But we will need also a change in our lifestyle,” he said. “It’s a grim message, but a true message. Science and technology is useful, but if you want to save the earth, you need also to work on the other side, on reducing our energy use.”

No magic bullet for climate change, Swiss scientist says by Doug Struck, Boston Globe

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If you want to get involved with a group of people working hard to change the way we use energy through a market-driven approach that will curb consumption and encourage alternatives to greenhouse gases, check out the Citizens Climate Lobby.

Now for some Queer Climate Change Memes

I have gotten involved with a new group, Queers for the Climate, which is organizing to take part in the big People’s Climate March on September 20 and 21 in New York City. While lots of LGBTQ people have shown real concern for environmental issues, recycling, and buying eco-friendly products, when it comes to Global Warming, I find that many of my queer peers seem to live on another planet, one that does not see the possible extinction of humans along with a bunch of other species. That is changing, and it is a good thing because we come to the table with lots of experience and skills to help us address Climate Change as the world’s biggest threat to human rights.

We can be funny, irreverent, edgy, and creative in our climate activism. We can also look beyond ourselves to consider the wider world and the intersection of LGBTQ lives affected by the climate change crisis that is upon us.

Here are some memes I created on the theme of Queer Climate Action. Enjoy and share. Yo, Global Warming activism, it’s not just for heterosexuals anymore.

 

gay marriage end of world

drag queen anger

save heterosexuals

penguin meme

chad and lance save world

goats meme