social and political action

We plan to publish posts on the following topics in coming months:

  • Animal Protection, Advocacy, and Rescue Organizations
  • How to Protect Your Vote and Everyone’s Vote
  • Green Recovery Plans and Ideas
  • 100% Renewable Energy Cities and Towns  (an update)
  • (Anti) Nuclear Power and Nuclear Weapons Info.  (a resource listing)
  • Land Restoration, Remediation, and Regeneration
  • Promising (and Under-Recognized) Trends and Solutions
  • Recent Films

Check back soon to see some of these posts!  Thank you for reading The Green Spotlight and sharing our posts with others.

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June 17, 2020
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We hope you’ll follow our Twitter account, and also check out and Subscribe to some of the topic-specific lists we’ve compiled on Twitter, featuring other accounts (people and groups) worth following. Note: Click on the “Members” link to see the accounts you may want to follow within each list:

Climate: news, info, groups, leaders, scientists
(also see Katharine Hayhoe’s list of climate scientists)

Nuclear (weapons and energy/power): experts, news, information, anti-nuke groups, disarmament, arms control, etc.

Fracking: anti-fracking groups, leaders, news, and info

Voting / Elections: election information, election protection/integrity, voter education, voting rights

Democracy vs. dictatorship: experts on authoritarianism, autocracy, fascism, dictatorship, oligarchy, kleptocracy, theocracy, tyranny, political science, history

Civil rights / Equality / Black America: racism, bigotry, discrimination, injustice, white supremacists/nationalists, police brutality, etc.

Indigenous / Native: news, info, groups, and leaders

Latino: news, info, groups, and leaders

Immigration and refugees: immigrant, refugee, migrant, and asylum rights and advocacy groups

Women’s rights: Women’s advocacy, representation, equality, bodily autonomy, reproductive rights, equal pay

Economic inequality: economic (in)justice, poverty, the ongoing redistribution of more $$ to the most wealthy, kleptocracy, predatory capitalism, exploitation, unemployment; labor rights, fair/living wage, unions

Veterans: news, info, advocacy groups, and leaders

National security: e.g., foreign policy, war, military, safety, peace

Legal minds: Lawyers / attorneys; legal scholars, analysts, experts; justice, Rule of Law, constitutional law, criminal law, etc.

Sociopathy / DT’s pathology and disorders: experts on Anti-Social Personality Disorders (psychopaths/sociopaths), malignant narcissism, pathocracy

We also have Twitter lists for specific states and regions, e.g. Appalachia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, and North Carolina. We’ll be adding more lists over time, and we also add more accounts (members) to some lists as we discover them.

See all of our Twitter lists here.

You can also follow/”Like”  The Green Spotlight on Facebook for daily posts.

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May 27, 2020
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We’re all going to need to muster up as much resilience, generosity, patience, kindness, empathy, courage, adaptability, resourcefulness, and creativity as we can, to get through the tough times our families, communities, country, and world are facing during this unprecedented crisis. Things are going to continue to get worse in many places for a while, and it’s going to be a long haul with multiple waves and no known end date. We’re not only facing a pandemic (a global infectious disease and public health crisis), but also a Great Depression-level economic crisis of unemployment, poverty, food insecurity (hunger), and homelessness (issues made much worse by the United States’ existing health care/insurance crisis, and by economic inequality, exploitative corporate practices, environmental and institutional racism and injustice, systemic corruption, and the current regime’s authoritarianism), all of which are leaving many people in desperate need of assistance, in every community. (And tragically, the climate crisis will exacerbate all of these problems, and create disasters on top of disasters.) Our society is entering an extended period of great loss, disruption, hardship, and suffering.

Soon, all of us will know at least one person who has been sick with the COVID-19 coronavirus (and many of us will know at least one person who has died from it) as well as numerous people who are suffering financially and emotionally from it. Already, millions of people are struggling to pay their rent (or mortgage) and utilities, exorbitant medical bills, and/or burial costs. Millions of people (record numbers) are now unemployed or underemployed, while healthcare workers and other essential workers are having to work overly long and stressful hours and risking their lives to do so. Most people won’t want to ask friends or family for help, even when they desperately need it (and not everyone has family members or close friends who are in a position to help). So reach out to find out what people you know are going through and what they might need. And if you need help, do reach out to others and to groups that can offer assistance. You are not alone, and there will be people who are able and willing to help you, even if your family and friends are not able to.

If you’re not in dire straits (e.g., if you and your family have your health, an adequate income, health insurance, and/or you still have savings to get you and your family through an emergency or an extended rough patch), please consider using at least some of your “stimulus” payment money (or your tax return or savings, if any) to help others who are in need, whether they are friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, friends of friends, strangers, or small local businesses that are struggling.

Alternatively, if you have extra time or skills, services, assistance, or resources to offer, offer those—e.g., food, meals, masks / PPE, plants or seeds, housing (e.g., guest units), babysitting or homeschooling help, etc.

If you can help people directly, do that. Otherwise or in addition, try to support (donate to or volunteer for) some of the established groups that are actively helping people in need, such as these:

What other national groups would you recommend that people support? Please add them in the Comments. Also see the links to additional resources at the end of this post.

Also support (donate to or volunteer for):

  • local Mutual Aid and disaster/emergency response groups and any local relief funds set up by community orgs/foundations or community banks
  • local food banks/pantries
  • your area’s Meals on Wheels
  • your region’s United Way
  • your region’s Red Cross
  • domestic violence shelters and groups
  • child abuse and fostering groups
  • homeless and affordable housing groups; shelters
  • refugee, detainee, and undocumented immigrant protection groups
  • small farmers; farmer’s markets and CSAs
  • reproductive rights/care groups and funds
  • mental health advocacy groups
  • senior centers and support orgs
  • prisoners’ rights groups
  • animal shelters (consider fostering an animal if you have the time and resources)
  • small businesses, and people out of work (including independent/freelance/gig workers and undocumented workers, who pay taxes but can’t collect unemployment)
  • independent bookstores (see IndieBound.org to find stores near you; order books from them online when their stores have to be closed); please do not buy from Amazon, which has put many bookstores and small businesses out of business

And here are additional actions you can take to make a difference:

  1. Offer to pick up groceries (or prescriptions or other essential supplies) for a near-by senior, someone with health conditions or immune system issues, or someone who’s sick.
  2. Reach out to at least one friend, neighbor, or relative each day (by phone, email, FaceTime/Duo, or mail) to see how they’re doing.
  3. Join an existing Mutual Aid group in your area (or consider creating one if there isn’t one already).
  4. Sew masks or make other types of PPE, and give them away (or sell them at cost if need be) to friends, neighbors, healthcare workers, or other essential workers (e.g., grocery workers, domestic workers, etc.). Find out if your area has a local Maker space or other group that is making or collecting/donating masks or equipment.
  5. Plant some food (even if you don’t have any garden/yard space and it’s just a couple of pots on a window sill; start where you are; do what you can). In most areas, garden/farm supply stores are still open during the Shelter-in-Place/Stay-at-Home orders (as food/ag is essential). You can also order seeds online; choose organic seeds. Or plant a fruit or nut tree, if you can. If you have extra seeds or a surplus harvest, share them with neighbors and friends.
  6. Think of any skills, services, items, assets, or resources you can offer (or barter/trade/exchange or lend) to others, e.g., surplus food items, meals, or plants/seeds; babysitting, homeschooling/education, petsitting or fostering, professional services; guest units (including vacation rentals, trailers, studios, etc.).
  7. Build a Little Free Pantry/Library (or just put a “Free Stuff” Box) in front of your house or somewhere in your neighborhood, where people can leave or take non-perishable foods, toiletries, books, or other items. Or if there’s already a Little Free Pantry/Library in your neighborhood, you could leave items in it. You can also donate food to local food banks/drives, and donate needed items to homeless shelters.
  8. Thank essential workers (e.g., healthcare, grocery, restaurant, and delivery workers/drivers, your mail carrier and post office workers, cashiers, etc.), with verbal thanks, thank-you cards, tips or gift cards, or gifts (e.g., masks, soap, hand sanitizer, food, seeds, tea, flowers, etc.). For example, I left a thank-you note, a bottle of hand sanitizer, and a box of tea in our mail box for our mail carrier.
  9. If you’re healthy, donate blood. You can do so through Red Cross blood drives.
  10. If you see or hear questionable or potentially dangerous information (misinformation or disinformation) being spread, check fact-checking sites (e.g., Factcheck.org, Politifact.com, Snopes.com; or reputable medical/health/infectious disease sources and experts) and send/post their links or findings, to share facts and to counter disinformation.
  11. Make sure you’re registered to vote at your current address. Fill out your state’s application to get an absentee/mail-in ballot ASAP (if you live in a state where you don’t currently need an “excuse” or if you have one of their valid excuses to vote by mail; more states will soon make absentee voting easier or even the default), or see if your state allows Early Voting (to avoid crowds and lines). Click here for links to your state’s Secretary of State site and other voting resources. Help young or first-time voters get registered (and make sure they know how to fill out the forms and ballots.)
  12. Fill out your census form now, if you haven’t already. The questions are simple and and it takes less than 10 minutes to answer all of them.
  13. Buy stamps or other supplies from (or send packages through) the U.S. Postal Service via USPS.com, to help keep them afloat until adequate federal funding comes through. The economic shutdown (and the resulting downturn in business shipping) isn’t the only reason the USPS is in trouble; this article explains the other reason: an absurd law that was passed in 2006 that “requires the Postal Service, which receives no taxpayer subsidies, to prefund its retirees’ health benefits up to the year 2056. This is a $5 billion per year cost; it is a requirement that no other entity, private or public, has to make. Without this obligation, the Post Office actually turns a profit.”)
  14. Think about and prepare your official Advance Health Care Directive (AKA Living Will), DNR (if applicable), Power of Attorney and Medical/Health Care Proxy/Surrogate documents, and your last will & testament (including burial/funeral preferences or arrangements). Make sure all of your documents are made legal and official through witness signatures, and notarized when required, and give a copy to your loved ones and your doctor (also post a copy on your fridge, and have someone bring a copy to the hospital if you go to the ER or are hospitalized).

Doing these types of useful and helpful things can also help you feel better during this time of stress, worry, uncertainty, and upheaval, which is putting a strain on everyone’s mental and emotional health. You need to take good care of yourself to be able to take care of and support others. So also try to establish some self-care practices and healthy coping mechanisms to maintain some resilience and sanity. Here are a few suggestions of things you could try to do for a least a few minutes each day:

  • Go outside. Walk, or at least sit in the sun. When possible, go be in nature, and when that isn’t possible, at least go on a walk down your street or to a local park.
  • Stretch and breathe deeply. Or meditate.
  • Garden (e.g., plant things or pull weeds).
  • Make/eat a good meal. Try something new. (Eat nourishing things that will give you strength and help keep your immune system strong.)
  • Spend time with animals, when possible.
  • Look for, recognize, create, and share beauty.
  • Watch something comedic, or read something funny.
  • Listen to some music. (You can dance if you want to!)
  • Read helpful advice from wise and calming people (e.g., Pema Chodron).
  • Seek out a therapist for online sessions.
  • Do productive stuff, like cleaning the house or organizing and purging stuff in your house (going through mail piles; organizing your desk, files, closets, drawers/cabinets, garage, shed, etc.). Recycle old papers. Give away items you don’t need or want.
  • Have a cup of tea.
  • And get lots of good, deep sleep. If you aren’t able to get enough sleep at night, take a nap if you’re able to.

Thank you to all of the helpers, of all stripes, everywhere. Let’s all help each other get through this. Be well.

 

Other useful tips, information, and resources:

 

 

Related posts:

Note: Later this year, we plan to add a post on Green Recovery Plans and Proposals.

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April 27, 2020
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Use the links below to find information about upcoming elections in the U.S.: primaries and general elections, as well as any special elections or runoffs for your state, county/municipality, or congressional district.

Please verify that you are still registered to vote via your Secretary of State or your County’s elections office (click on one of the top links under your state name, below). Ideally, check your status at least once before each election, preferably more than a month before election day, so that you still have time to correct any problems. Confirm that all of your registration information (name, address, party preference, SS/ID #) is correct (i.e., it hasn’t been purged or altered). If you have moved since you last registered, you need to re-register to vote.

Also follow the groups listed in this post on social media for ongoing updates, and please share voting links and info. for your state with your friends (online and off). Many states have changed the dates of their primaries (and Early Voting periods), or are changing their rules related to absentee/mail-in ballots. Periodically check for and spread the word about any changes!

To start off, here are some general resources that are useful for people across the United States. For more specific, state-by-state information and links, scroll down to the next section to find your state (listed in alphabetical order).

General/Nationwide Resources:

Also see (and subscribe to) our Twitter list of Voting-related groups and experts

Our previous voting posts include additional links and suggestions:

 

State-specific Election/Voting Links:

In addition to using the links provided under your state name (below), be sure to look up your County’s Elections office/Registrar/Board. You can contact them (or your Secretary of State’s office) to verify that you’re still correctly registered, and to ask questions about current voting rules, local polling places, etc. You could also contact them to inquire about serving as a poll worker, and/or to request that the county/state provide hand-marked paper ballots rather than touchscreen voting machines (which are not nearly as secure or accurate).

Also do a search in your web browser or on social media (e.g. Twitter or Facebook) to look up the sites/pages for your state’s chapters of: the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, Indivisible, Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, Democratic Party, ACLU, All on the Line, and any Fair Elections/Fair Maps/Fair Districts/Redistricting (anti-gerrymandering) groups in your state.

Use one of first 3 links under your state name to look up when your state’s voter registration deadlines are (some states allow Same-Day/election-day registration), and to find out if your county/state allows Early Voting (and if so, when/where) or Absentee/Mail-In Ballots so you can avoid any lines, obstacles, or risks on Election Day.

ALABAMA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

ALASKA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

ARIZONA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

ARKANSAS

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

CALIFORNIA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

COLORADO

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

CONNECTICUT

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

DELAWARE

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

FLORIDA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

GEORGIA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

HAWAII

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

IDAHO

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

ILLINOIS

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

INDIANA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

IOWA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

KANSAS

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

KENTUCKY

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

LOUISIANA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

MAINE

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

MARYLAND

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

MASSACHUSETTS

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

MICHIGAN

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

MINNESOTA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

MISSISSIPPI

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

MISSOURI

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

MONTANA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

NEBRASKA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

NEVADA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

NEW JERSEY

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

NEW MEXICO

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

NEW YORK

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

NORTH CAROLINA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

NORTH DAKOTA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

OHIO

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

OKLAHOMA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

OREGON

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

PENNSYLVANIA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

RHODE ISLAND

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

SOUTH CAROLINA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

SOUTH DAKOTA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

TENNESSEE

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

TEXAS

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

UTAH

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

VERMONT

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

VIRGINIA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

WASHINGTON

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

WEST VIRGINIA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

WISCONSIN

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

WYOMING

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

 

Washington, D.C.

Puerto Rico

 

I really hope you will use and share some of the links provided in this post. And please vote in every election. Democracy is not a spectator sport, and our freedoms are not guaranteed. Unfortunately, it’s become painfully clear that if we take our democracy and our rights for granted and we don’t use (and assert) our rights, we are going to lose them. 

 

 

Also see (and subscribe to) our Twitter list of Voting-related groups and experts

Our previous voting posts include additional links and suggestions:

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February 21, 2020
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High-Impact Climate Actions and Choices that Make the Biggest Difference

If you’re not already aware of how dire the climate crisis is becoming (and how much worse it will get if our civilization continues on with “business as usual”), consider this past year’s news of extreme heatwaves, droughts, and massive fires across the Arctic, the Amazon, Australia, California, Africa, and elsewhere; and the increasingly catastrophic storms, hurricanes, and floods that have been happening throughout the world. Also take a look at the graph below of global carbon dioxide levels over time, and seek out more information on climate change from reputable sources (see the links list at the very bottom for several media outlets and non-profits), including articles like these:

What humanity chooses to do (or not do) in the next year or two—and over this decade—to lower greenhouse gas (carbon) emissions will determine how catastrophic things will get in the future and how quickly. The only way we will be able to slow and lessen the climate crisis enough to keep our world habitable and hospitable to life is to make big, bold, powerful, and effective changes rapidly and at scale. While smaller problems also matter and small, incremental changes and solutions are worthwhile and can really add up when many people take them on, it is crucial that we understand and focus on the biggest problems (i.e., planetary-wide crises) we all face, like climate change, and understand which choices, behaviors, actions, and policies have the greatest impact on accelerating vs. slowing climate change. Being aware and informed about which types of human activities are contributing the most to worsening climate destabilization empowers us to make the changes that will generate the most significant results. We’re not actually helpless, even though we may sometimes feel that way. Knowledge is power, and what we don’t know or understand could very well kill us (along with most of the rest of life on earth).

Several studies have been done recently that help identify the practices (at the societal level and at the individual/household level) that contribute to (or mitigate) climate change the most. Something that’s notable about the findings of these studies is that many climate solutions don’t cost much if any money, and many can even save quite a bit of money (whereas climate inaction is already costing all of us a LOT, and the cost of inaction is much higher than the cost of taking significant actions would be. See “Climate change’s giant impact on the economy,” New York Times.) In fact, many climate solutions simply involve making the decision NOT to do something (e.g., not cutting down trees, not wasting food, not eating much meat, not having many kids, not flying often, etc.) rather than actively doing something or having to pay for something.

I.

Project Drawdown is a world-class research organization that reviews, analyses, and identifies the most viable global climate solutions, and shares these findings with the world.”  They organize their solutions into the following categories: a) Electricity Generation, b) Food, c) Women and Girls, d) Buildings and Cities, e) Land Use, f) Transport, and g) Materials.

Most of these solutions require some systemic, societal, institutional (e.g., government policy and industry-driven) changes, but it’s important to recognize that all of us as individuals and as communities can support and promote these types of broad-based changes, through our votes, policy advocacy, education and awareness building, and our own behaviors, habits, and lifestyle choices (which can not only reduce emissions, but also serve as role modeling and as examples and inspiration for others, helping to change the culture and shift consumer demand).

The Top 15 Highest-Impact Solutions identified by Project Drawdown are as follows (click each of the links below for descriptions, details, and cost/savings analyses). Many people are not yet aware that some of these strategies are so important:

  1. Refrigerant Management (leak prevention and proper, careful disposal of HFCs in refrigerators and air conditioners; phase-out of HFC chemicals and and replacement with safer, climate-friendly alternatives)
  2. Wind Turbines [onshore]
  3. Reduced Food Waste
  4. Plant-Rich Diet
  5. Tropical Forests (preventing deforestation, and doing restoration and reforestation)
  6. Educating Girls
  7. Family Planning
  8. Solar Farms (utility-scale solar power plants)
  9. Silvopasture (integrating trees and pastures into a single system for raising livestock)
  10. Rooftop Solar (distributed, small-scale solar PV systems <1MW)
  11. Regenerative Agriculture (practices that enhance and sustain the health of the soil by restoring its carbon content, thereby sequestering carbon; e.g., organic production, cover crops, compost, crop rotation, no-till or reduced tillage, etc.)
  12. Temperate Forests (protection/preservation and restoration)
  13. Peatlands (protection/preservation, fire prevention, and restoration of bogs, which store a lot of carbon)
  14. Tropical Staple Trees (planting perennial crop trees)
  15. Afforestation (growing new forests on land that is not currently forested, especially degraded agricultural, pasture, or mining land; preferably a diversity of native and adapted tree species rather than mono-cropped plantations)

Policy-makers, industry/business and institution leaders, foundations and philanthropists, nonprofit organizations, and all of us as citizens should take these findings into account when deciding which climate strategies we should prioritize and amplify, and the types of projects and programs on which we should focus most of our time, energy, and money.

I recommend taking this short, interactive, online quiz on CNN’s website: “The most effective ways to curb climate change might surprise you.” The quiz is based on Project Drawdown’s findings, and it indicates which changes can be made by individuals/households, by industries, and/or by policymakers. (Note: Many of the changes can be made or influenced by more than one of those.)

Project Drawdown published its research conclusions in a book: Drawdown: The most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming, edited by Paul Hawken.

II.

In addition to Project Drawdown’s useful findings and recommendations, another recent scientific study (from 2017, by Seth Wynes and Kimberly Nicholas) has identified some of the highest-impact personal choices and actions each of us can make/take to reduce our own contribution to climate change:

Climate Mitigation: Most Effective Individual Actions

Their data showed that the following are the highest-impact decisions and actions; sadly, they also found that education and government recommendations (in the US, EU, Canada and Australia) have been failing to focus on most of these (and instead they often mention and prioritize lower-impact actions). We should all aim to achieve at least two or three of these, and ideally all of them:

  1. Having a small family rather than a large one (i.e., having few or no kids). This decision makes a bigger impact than any other we can make as individuals, by orders of magnitude beyond the others. Researchers have found that each additional person (in a developed country) ends up contributing an average of 58.6 tons of CO2-equivalent (tCO2e) emissions to our atmosphere per year. [Note: The carbon footprint of U.S. households is about 5 times greater than the global average, as we Americans consume so much more than people in most other countries. (Source)]
  2. Going car-free (or at least driving as little as possible, and ideally switching to an electric vehicle or a very-low-emissions, high-MPG hybrid vehicle)
  3. Avoiding airplane travel (or flying as little as possible).  [From a New York Times article: “In 2016, two climatologists published a paper in the prestigious journal Science showing a direct relationship between carbon emissions and the melting of Arctic sea ice.” They found that one passenger’s share of emissions on a 2,500-mile flight melts the equivalent of 32 square feet of Arctic summer sea ice. And cruise ships are even worse; “even the most efficient cruise ships emit 3 to 4 times more carbon dioxide per passenger-mile than a jet,” along with other serious air and water pollutants. And container/cargo ships use even filthier fuels.]
  4. Buying/using green, clean energy (e.g., via your utility if they offer this, or by installing solar or wind). [A note from me: FIRST always use conservation and efficiency to minimize any over-use/waste of energy! One of the best ways to do this is to avoid living in a home that is too big for the size and needs of your family. It’s wasteful to have to heat or cool—and furnish—rooms or spaces that you don’t really use.]
  5. Eating a plant-based diet (or reducing your meat consumption)

For more information on this study, see this article/analysis, as well as this concise Grist post and its infographic (shown above), which provides a good visual sense of the relative difference in impacts from each of the choices or actions/inactions. To learn about additional personal actions and decisions that can make a difference, beyond the five identified by the study above, check out the book Cooler Smarter: Practical Steps for Low-Carbon Living, Expert Advice from the Union of Concerned Scientists (Island Press, 2012).

For some of us, the five choices above don’t seem like big sacrifices to make, and in fact many can drastically improve our own lives (as well as everyone else’s). But in our highly individualistic and materialistic culture, many of us are taught that we can (and should) do whatever we want (any costs and harms to our community or society or public health be damned). We are too often conditioned to believe that we are inherently entitled to do anything we want (and buy anything that we can afford), and we are not often encouraged to think about whether or not we should do (or buy) those things. Americans, in particular, often tend to feel entitled to get as large and gas-guzzling a vehicle as we want, and many of us tend to drive and fly as often and as much as we want, and buy as much as we can, acting almost as if this is somehow our inherent, God-given right. Please question the assumptions, expectations, pressures, and social conditioning that you/we have been brought up with. These beliefs are not universal “human nature;” they are culturally taught. Consider the benefits of self-restraint and self-regulation. Think about the concept of “enough.” Think about: “Live simply so that others may simply live.” Consider your neighbors; consider vulnerable populations; consider other species; consider future generations. Consider and be considerate of the common good.

Lastly, always remember (and remind others) that almost any choice or change that you make or that society makes to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions will not only help stabilize the climate; it will also reduce air pollution (as well as water pollution and ocean warming) and thus improve and protect public health and well-being in other very direct and often immediate ways.

 

Related posts:

Related resources:

See our Twitter list of Climate groups, scientists, and leaders

 

These are some organizations focused on the climate crisis and climate solutions:

And these are a few media / news and information sources that provide fact-based information on climate change:

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January 30, 2020
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These are some recently published books that you may want to consider reading and/or giving to someone as a gift:

The Overstory, by Richard Powers  
(This is a novel, and it won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize.)

Erosion: Essays of Undoing, by Terry Tempest Williams

Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?, by Bill McKibben

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, edited by Paul Hawken

Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution, by Peter Kalmus

Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country, by Pam Houston

The World-Ending Fire: The Essential Wendell Berry

Renewal: How Nature Awakens Our Creativity, Compassion, and Joy, by Andres Edwards

Confessions of a Rogue Nuclear Regulator, by Gregory Jaczko

Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises (and Essays), by Rebecca Solnit

Feral: Rewilding the Land, the Sea, and Human Life, by George Monbiot

Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis, by George Monbiot

Our Wild Calling: How connecting with animals can transform our lives—and save theirs, by Richard Louv

Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel, by Carl Safina

I’d also recommend taking a look at other books written by the authors listed above, as well as books by Rachel Carson, Elizabeth Kolbert, John McPhee, Annie Dillard, Bernie Krause, Joanna Macy, and Barbara Kingsolver.

And check out the books published by Chelsea Green Publishing and New Society Publishers and Island Press, for a wide selection of titles on green/sustainability topics.

Another book I would recommend is the following [disclosure: it was written by a family member]. Though it is not directly related to environmental issues, it does impart important lessons on non-violent dissent (and the folly of violence) that all activists and social movements (including environmental activists and movements) can benefit from:

Looking for Revolution, Finding Murder: The Crimes and Transformation of Katherine Ann Power, by Janet Landman (2019)

 

Note: Please try to buy books from independent bookstores (or Barnes & Noble), rather than from Amazon. There are probably over a dozen compelling reasons not to buy anything (but especially books) from Amazon. Also avoid choosing one- or two-day shipping unless it’s really necessary; overnight/airplane-based shipping has an enormous environmental footprint as well as a serious cost to worker safety.

Do you have favorite books or authors to recommend? Please mention them in the Comments.

Related Posts:

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November 25, 2019
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This is a selected listing of some of our posts on topics that are directly related to social and political action or activism:

 

Also see our Democracy vs. Dictatorship list of accounts on Twitter, our Voting / Elections list, our other Twitter lists, and the daily news posts on our Facebook page.

 

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July 15, 2019
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These are “things” that I care deeply about and that I believe truly matter and are worth standing up for, protecting, and supporting (in addition to one’s own circles of friends, family, and community):

– A life-sustaining climate
– Clean (unpolluted) air, water, soil/land, and food
– Democracy
– Equality
– Liberty, freedom, self-determination, bodily autonomy, choice
– Truth, facts
– Justice, fairness, accountability
– Human rights, civil rights, voting rights, women’s rights, reproductive rights, indigenous rights/sovereignty
– Animal rights
– Wild lands, healthy ecosystems, natural habitat, biodiversity, wildlife, endangered species, rights of nature
– Disabled, ill, vulnerable, afflicted, homeless, or impoverished people
– Empathy, compassion, kindness, mercy (without borders)
– Reducing unnecessary suffering
– Non-violence; non-violent protest and dissent; de-escalation of conflict
– Basic decency and respect: the Golden Rule (“Do unto others…”)
– Integrity, ethics, courage
– Dignity, self-restraint, magnanimity, humility
– Affordable, universal healthcare (including mental healthcare)
– A free/independent press; investigative journalism; an informed citizenry
– Science; and science-based, evidence-based policy and decision-making
– Education, critical thinking, reason, wisdom
– The Common Good

I recommend giving some real thought to your own values and priorities (and desired legacy), and sharing your own mini-manifesto or values/mission statement with others.

As Elie Wiesel so wisely said:

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering…  We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

It’s important for people to show and tell other people what they stand for and will stand up for (and not only the things we stand against).

That said, the opposite of many of the things listed above are things that I stand against, e.g.,:

pollution; the production, use, and dumping of toxins and toxic waste (including nuclear); fossil fuel extraction and burning; authoritarianism, fascism, white supremacy/nationalism, theocracy; hatred, dehumanization, discrimination, racism, sexism, misogyny, patriarchy, anti-semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia; extreme income inequality, exploitation, unequal pay; scapegoating (e.g., of immigrants, people of color, and poor people); violence (including child abuse, domestic violence, violence against women, violence against protestors), war-mongering; police brutality, excessive force, abuse of power, mass incarceration, discriminatory judicial decisions and sentencing, victim blaming; corruption, greed, oligarchy, predatory and exploitative capitalism, money hoarding, wealth redistribution from the poor and middle class to the wealthy, materialism and over-consumption, industry (private profit-driven) influence/control over policies, regulations, and laws; selfish individualism and personal entitlement at the expense of the health or well-being of others (e.g., neighbors, humanity, future generations, other species, etc.); gerrymandering, voter suppression and disenfranchisement, election hacking and fraud, ballot tampering; propaganda, lying, disinformation, misinformation, “information warfare,” smears, anti-science sentiment and policy, disproven conspiracy theories, paranoia, fear-mongering, denial of facts, willful/proud ignorance, hypocrisy, trolls, tabloids, sensationalist media; portraying/covering politics and elections as a game, sport, horse race, or entertainment; harassment, bullying, humiliation, ridicule, personal attacks; animal cruelty, exploitation and commodification, poaching, poisoning, habitat destruction, over-hunting; human supremacy; the contamination and depletion of natural resources.

-ML

 

NEW: Posts related to Democracy, Voting, Elections, Social Change

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May 20, 2019
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The Goldman Environmental Prize is the world’s largest and most prestigious annual award for grassroots environmentalists. Many people refer to it as the “green Nobel.” Goldman Prize winners are models of courage, and their stories are powerful and truly inspiring. “The Prize recognizes individuals for sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment, often at great personal risk. Each winner receives a financial award. The Goldman Prize views ‘grassroots’ leaders as those involved in local efforts, where positive change is created through community or citizen participation in the issues that affect them. Through recognizing these individual leaders, the Prize seeks to inspire other ordinary people to take extraordinary actions to protect the natural world.” 2019 is the prize’s 30th year.

This year’s prize recipients (one from each of the six inhabited continental regions of the world) are:

  • Linda Garcia—Washington, USALinda Garcia organized Fruit Valley residents to stop the construction of the Tesoro Savage oil export terminal in Vancouver, Washington, in February 2018. Her activism safeguarded residents from harmful air pollution and protected the environment of the Columbia River Gorge. By preventing North America’s largest oil terminal from being built, Garcia halted the flow of 11 million gallons of crude oil per day from North Dakota to Washington. (Relevant organizations: Washington Environmental Council, and Stand Up to Oil)
  • Alfred Brownell—Liberia: Under threat of violence, environmental lawyer and activist Alfred Brownell stopped the clear-cutting of Liberia’s tropical forests by palm oil plantation developers. His campaign protected 513,500 acres of primary forest that constitute one of the world’s most important biodiversity hotspots, enabling indigenous communities to continue their stewardship of the forest. For his safety, he is living in temporary exile in the United States. (Relevant organizations: Green Advocates, and Rainforest Action Network)
  • Jacqueline Evans—Cook Islands (South Pacific): Conservationist Jacqueline Evans led a five-year grassroots campaign to protect the Cook Islands’ stunning marine biodiversity. Because of her tireless and persistent organizing, in July 2017, the Cook Islands enacted new legislation—Marae Moana—to sustainably manage and conserve all 763,000 square miles of the country’s ocean territory, including the designation of marine protected areas (MPAs) 50 nautical miles around the islands, protecting 125,000 square miles of ocean from large-scale commercial fishing and seabed mining. (Relevant organizations: Marae Moana Marine Park, and Te Ipukarea Society)
  • Alberto Curamil—Chile: Alberto Curamil, an indigenous Mapuche, organized the people of Araucanía to stop the construction of two hydroelectric projects on the sacred Cautín River in central Chile. The destructive projects, canceled in late 2016, would have diverted hundreds of millions of gallons of water from the river each day, harming a critical ecosystem and exacerbating drought conditions in the region. In August 2018, Curamil was arrested and remains in jail today. Colleagues believe that he was arrested because of his environmental activism. (Relevant organization: Alianza Territorial Mapuche) #FreeAlbertoCuramil
  • Ana Colovic Lesoska—North Macedonia: Ana Colovic Lesoska led a seven-year campaign to cut off international funding for two large hydropower plants planned for inside Mavrovo National Park—North Macedonia’s oldest and largest national park—thereby protecting the habitat of the nearly-extinct Balkan lynx. In 2015, the World Bank withdrew its financing for one hydropower project, and, in 2017, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development canceled its loan to the North Macedonian government for the other. (Relevant organizations: Eco-Svest, and Bankwatch Network)
  • Bayarjargal Agvaantseren—MongoliaBayarjargal Agvaantseren helped create the 1.8 million-acre Tost Tosonbumba Nature Reserve in the South Gobi Desert—a critical habitat for the vulnerable snow leopard—in April 2016, then succeeded in persuading the Mongolian government to cancel all 37 mining licenses within the reserve. An unprecedented victory for the snow leopard, as of June 2018 there are no active mines within the reserve—and all mining operations are illegal. (Relevant organizations: Snow Leopard Trust, and Snow Leopard Conservation Foundation)

Click on each recipient’s name to read a longer profile—and watch a brief video—about their remarkable efforts and achievements.

Here’s the video about Linda Garcia of Washington State (USA):

And here’s the video about Alberto Curamil of Chile:

 

Posts on Goldman Prize winners from previous years:

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April 29, 2019
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