education

The survival of our democracy—and the survival of a habitable environment and climate—depends on having free and fair elections. This post includes some tips and recommendations of specific ways to help preserve the integrity and security of the election: to make sure that your vote and other people’s votes are counted. (Scroll down to see all of our tips, especially item #4 re. mail-in voting vs. voting in person.)

To get started, I hereby offer up the following resources and tools for getting clear, accurate, official information on the voting options and rules in your state/county (beware of disinformation that’s being spread, particularly on social media, and be aware that each state and county has somewhat different voting rules and options). Further down, I have also listed groups that are involved in helping to counter voter suppression (and disinformation and intimidation) tactics and protect the election (from election fraud, tampering, cyber hacking, manipulation, foreign “interference,” or errors; individual voter fraud is almost non-existent and is readily detected, so it is not a major threat).

Please review, use, and share some of these resources and tools:

The Best Way to Vote in Every State: A comprehensive guide to making sure your ballot gets counted, no matter where in America you live (Slate)

Plan Your Vote. Everything you need to know about mail-in and early in-person voting (state by state) (NBC)

State/County Voting Requirements and Information directory (U.S. Vote Foundation)

State by State Voting Information Links (The Green Spotlight)

How to Prevent Your Mail Ballot from Being Rejected (Washington Post)

State Laws on Early Voting (National Conference of State Legislatures)
[Note: 41 states have some form of Early Voting in place.  Only 9 states—Alabama, Connecticut, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina—do not offer pre-Election Day, in-person Early voting options.]

Tips to Mitigate Threats to Our Votes and Voter Registrations Before November (Jennifer Cohn, Protect Our Votes)

Four Ways to Safely Cast Your Ballot Without USPS (Democracy Docket)

 

Orgs/websites for voting information:

and/or contact your county’s Elections office/department/board/registrar (or your Secretary of State’s elections division) for official, local, up-to-date voting and ballot information.

Orgs/websites re. election protection/integrity/security (including legal action) efforts and safeguards (please click on/follow/share a few, and pick one or two to support/volunteer/join!):

Also follow and share our: 
list of Voting / Elections accounts on Twitter 
and our Twitter posts

 

TIPS & RECOMMENDATIONS:

  1. Register early (don’t put it off until your state’s deadline), and re-check your registration periodically, including just over than a month before each election to make sure your name hasn’t been purged and to give you enough time to fix any problems. Make sure your registration has your current address and all of the other information is also correct and has not been altered (name, party preference, etc.). Save a screen shot of your registration and bring that or your registration confirmation card/postcard with you as proof (just in case they say you’re not listed on the voting rolls), if you’re voting in-person.If you move more than a month before the election, re-register to vote right away with your new address. If you have to move within the month before the election, find out if your state allows last-minute or Same-Day Registration during Early Voting or on Election Day; or if you’re moving near-by, ask your County elections office if you are still allowed to vote at the poll location for your old address or what your other options are.
  2. Make sure you have the required ID (if any is required in your state). Go to VoteRiders.org or go to your Secretary of State’s elections website or your County’s elections/voter registrar site to find out whether/what ID is required to vote. If you need help obtaining or paying for the correct ID before the election, contact VoteRiders or Spread the Vote for assistance ASAP.
  3. Ask your County elections office/Registrar of Voters whether your County provides Hand-Marked Paper Ballots on Election Day as well as during Early Voting (preferably as the default option, instead of touchscreen/computer voting machines or ballot-marking devices, but at least as an option that you can request instead of the machines), as well as paper pollbooks (lists of voters) as a backup in case their electronic pollbooks malfunction/fail (e.g., Internet connection or power goes out) or are hacked into and tampered with. Ask/demand that your County and State provide: Hand Marked Paper Ballots, paper pollbooks (at least as backup), and no modem/Internet (i.e. hackable) connections for voting machines or ballot scanners; also tell them they must save all ballots and digital ballot images to allow for audits or recounts. Ask them if they will have plenty of local polling places open throughout your County/State so people won’t have to travel far from their neighborhood to vote. Not everyone has a car. (Providing large, centralized voting “centers” is not a good replacement for having many, neighborhood-based polling places. Also, county-wide voting centers will not have paper pollbooks on hand, which can cause serious problems if the e-pollbooks fail.) For more info on these issues, follow @jennycohn1 on Twitter or see ProtectOurVotes.com.
  4. IF your County provides Hand-Marked Paper Ballots (as regular ballots, not just “provisional,” and they are also provided during Early Voting): I’d generally recommend voting in person (preferably during the Early Voting period to avoid lines and any unexpected issues on Election Day), particularly IF you are young and healthy and you feel confident that your daily schedule will allow you to go vote in person. (Also see #8, 9, and 10 below for more on voting in person.) On the other hand…
    IF your County/precinct (only) uses computerized voting machines (e.g. hackable BMDs or DREs), or IF you are elderly or at high risk if you get COVID, or IF you anticipate extremely long lines in your precinct or not having the time to go vote in person for any reason (work, childcare, etc.): it would be better to request a mail-in/absentee ballot if your state allows that [no-excuse absentee voting is currently allowed in two-thirds of the states]. Please follow these steps:
    1) Apply for your absentee ballot as soon as you are allowed to (don’t wait until the deadline); find info on how to do so on your Secretary of State’s elections site;
    2) When you receive the actual ballot, be sure to read and follow the instructions on it very carefully to make sure you fill it out correctly; sign it where requested (which might be on the return envelope) with your typical signature (the same way you signed when registering to vote or on your driver’s license, for potential “signature matching” issues in some states) so they won’t have any cause to reject it (the GOP will be looking for any excuse to challenge/reject mail-in ballots); unfortunately, rejections of mail-in ballots are frighteningly common, especially for inexperienced voters (please contact your County if you have any questions about their instructions, which are sometimes confusing). Note: If you make a mistake on your ballot, contact your county elections office to find out how/where you can bring your “spoiled” ballot in to have it voided and get a new one (or bring the spoiled ballot to your polling place and have them replace it with a clean ballot).
    3) Return your completed ballot as early as possible, ideally dropping it off directly at your County’s elections office or another designated ballot drop-off location/box within your County (since USPS mail service could be significantly delayed and it might not get post-marked or delivered in time). If you mail it, mail it at least two weeks before the election and with as much postage on the envelope as is required. [Note: Some states will not accept ballots that are mailed via non-USPS services such as UPS or FedEx.]
    4) Look up whether your state/county offers a way to track your ballot and confirm that it has been received and accepted/counted. Track its status if you can. If you find out or are notified that it has been rejected, please go in to “cure” (fix) your ballot if you are allowed to (some areas allow this). Be aware that most places will not start counting any mail-in ballots until Election Day, and some ballots will not be received or counted until after Election Day.
    If you don’t receive your mail-in ballot at least two weeks before the election, report that to your County’s elections office (and Secretary of State), and if it doesn’t arrive in time, go vote in person instead, ideally during Early Voting. If it arrives within the last 10-14 days before the election, do not send the completed ballot back by mail, due to postal delays; drop it off at a designated location instead.
  5. Sign up to be a paid poll worker or “election judge” (for Early Voting and/or for Election Day), as there is a shortage of poll workers in many areas due to COVID (in the past many poll workers have been seniors, but they have good reason to sit this one out due to COVID risks). If there aren’t enough poll workers, counties will close poll locations. See WorkElections.com, Power the Polls, or Poll Hero, or contact your County’s elections office directly to find out how to apply. Be sure to wear a face mask and a face shield when working at the polls.
    Or sign up to be a poll monitor/observer/watcher, to help prevent and report any voter suppression or intimidation, correct or report poll workers who may be providing false information, or other problems at the polls; or to observe the counting of absentee ballots. The Republican Party and Trump campaign plan to deploy an “Army” of “poll watchers” (and intimidators, though that is not legal) and they will be looking for any excuse to challenge and reject ballots, so we need to have plenty of poll monitors and count monitors of our own. Contact your state or local Democratic Party, the Biden campaign, or a local candidate/campaign to sign up to be a poll observer.  #WatchTheVote
  6. Alternatively, volunteer with Election Protection / Common Cause’s Protect The Vote program. People with legal experience can contact We the Action for call center and/or field program opportunities.
    Or “consider volunteering with ProtectOurVotes.com to photograph precinct totals (as shown on precinct poll tapes posted outside many polling places when the polls close) and compare them to the county-reported totals for those precincts. If the two don’t match, this suggests that a potentially serious problem occurred with the tabulation and may support an election challenge.” #PhotoFinish
    You could also volunteer with the Scrutineers. To be involved in additional vote protection efforts on election night and beyond (e.g. taking periodic screenshots of election tally results from state or county websites as votes are counted), see item #21 here, and follow @jennycohn1 on Twitter for other suggestions.
  7. Volunteer for or donate to voter outreach/education/registration, and Get Out the Vote (GOTV) efforts (such as texting voters from your computer), through your state or local Democratic Party, a battleground state’s Dem. Party (e.g., PA, AZ, NC, WI, FL, GA, IA, KS, MI, OH, MT, TX, NV, MN, ME, VA, NH, CO; SC, KY, AL, MS), a specific campaign, or a group such as: Mobilize.US, MoveOn, Swing Left, NextGen America, Indivisible, Democrats Abroad, LastElection.org, Sierra Club, Progressive Turnout Project, When We All Vote, Fair Fight, March for Our Lives, Voto Latino, NALEO, Rock the Vote, Black Voters Matter, More than a Vote, Overseas Vote, Nonprofit Vote, DSCC, DLCC, DCCC, NDRC, or All on the Line, among many others. Also, remind all of your friends to vote!
  8. If voting in person, bring your completed sample ballot with you (which should be sent to you in the mail, or you can download one online) to work off of when filling out your real ballot. Also bring a mask, some water/snacks (maybe some to share too), and perhaps a portable chair/stool if there could be long lines. Offer to drive someone to the polls with you (a senior, young person, neighbor, or someone else who might not have a car). Request a paper ballot that you can mark with a pen. And Jenny Cohn says, “If you must use a touchscreen, compare the human readable text on the paper printout (if any) to your completed sample ballot to ensure the machine didn’t drop or flip your votes. Very few voters will notice such dropping or flipping — especially for down-ballot races — without doing this comparison.” Make sure no races, candidates, or other items are missing.
  9. If you encounter any problems or irregularities (or questions) prior to or during voting, contact the Election Protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683 — save that number in your phone and share it with others; it’s 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA for help in Spanish). If problems are not immediately or adequately resolved, you should also report the issues to your County Elections office, your Secretary of State’s elections division, your state Democratic Party, the DNC, local or national media, on social media; and/or to legal groups such as Democracy Docket, the ACLU, and you can also send/post a note to @jennycohn1 on Twitter. Do not give up on voting without first at least contacting Election Protection for assistance, and do not vote a provisional ballot unless you confirm with Election Protection that that is the only way you will be able to vote. If there are long lines, please stay in line. Anyone who is in line at the time that polls “close” must be allowed to vote.
  10. Keep your ballot receipt/stub (if provided), and look up whether your state/county offers a way to track your ballot and confirm that it has been received and accepted/counted. Track its status if you can. (Some states allow you track your ballots through BallotTrax.) And if it isn’t accepted/counted, report that (see the list of groups in the previous item). In highly populated cities, counties, and states, it could take several weeks for all votes (particularly mail-in and overseas/military ballots, some of which won’t arrive until after Election Day) to be counted. Do not expect final or certified election results immediately after the election. Patience is a virtue. Accuracy is more important than instant gratification. (It is wildly irresponsible for any news media to “call” races prematurely, before almost all votes have actually been counted, including mail-in ballots. Please remind media and others about this on social media.) If the reported results differ significantly from recent polls and exit polls, support recount and audit efforts. We must insist on election transparency, security, integrity, and verifiability, especially at a time when Russian operatives are again actively working to manipulate our election like they did last time.
  11. Avoid sending anything non-crucial (or ordering anything to be shipped) through the US Postal Service (except your mail-in ballot, if you can’t drop it off instead) for the three to four weeks preceding the election, up through the day after the election (from at least Oct. 13 – Nov. 4)—to try to enable the USPS to process all of the ballot mail.

 

For additional info and tips, see our previous voting posts:

Also follow and share our: 
list of Voting / Elections accounts on Twitter 
and our Twitter posts

I will be adding some more information and links to this post in the coming days and weeks. So please check back again! And please use and share some of this info with friends. We need all hands on deck to protect and save our democracy.

Vote like your life depends on it and everyone’s future depends on it. Vote for democracy, basic decency, health, sanity, justice, facts and rationality, equality, stability, security, fairness, ethics, and a livable environment.

In solidarity. Thank you.

 

 

 

 

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August 31, 2020
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I have noticed that animal protection and animal rights are issues that unite people of many different backgrounds and political stripes (even more so than a love of nature or a desire to protect the environment). Most people recognize that we humans are animals too, and many people understand that all living beings have inherent value and should have the right to live and thrive.

Personally, I believe that other species have as much of a right to exist, live, and thrive as humans do. I do not feel that my life has greater importance or value than the lives of other creatures. I also do not believe that other animals are here for us; they are here with us (and many species were here long before us), and they are not ours to use, abuse, commodify, cage, or exploit. Since they cannot speak for themselves or defend themselves against people (and our various types of weapons and threats), I do think it is our responsibility to try to protect them from other humans who do them harm.

Animals of all kinds—wild and domestic—face a wide variety of threats (to their survival, health, and well-being) from humans, including:

cruelty, abuse, domestic violence, neglect, exploitation and captivity (for human entertainment), factory farming, inhumane slaughter, over-hunting, poaching, trapping, trafficking, poisoning (e.g., rat poison and pesticides/herbicides; water, soil, and air pollution; plastic waste/pollution; intentional poisoning e.g. cyanide poisoning of elephants’ watering holes), widespread habitat destruction (e.g. from deforestation, development, agribusiness e.g. cattle grazing and crop plantations, mining, and road-building), medical research, animal testing (for products e.g. cosmetics), injury or death from vehicles or buildings (e.g., getting hit by cars or planes, birds flying into windows), and the overarching problem that affects all species including our own: climate change (extreme and volatile temperatures, drought; loss of food sources; extreme storms/hurricanes, flooding, fires, etc.)

Between 1970-2012 (in just over 40 years), humans have wiped out about 60% of the earth’s mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians, according to WWF’s Living Planet report of 2018. (As the human population has increased, wildlife populations have decreased, by similar degrees. Over that same time period (1970-2012), the world population of humans almost doubled, growing by approx. 3.5 billion people to more than 7 billion people. In 2020, we’re now approaching 8 billion.) The WWF study also found that freshwater wildlife populations have decreased by 83%, and extreme deforestation in South and Central America has led to a wildlife decline of 89% in that region. During the past 12,000 years of human civilization, humans have killed almost half of the trees on earth; around 15 billion trees are cut down each year (source). When we destroy animals’ habitat, we are destroying living beings and biodiversity. This not only creates a bleaker world in which to live; we are also destroying our own cousins and our shared life support systems.

 

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. …I hold that the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

Below is a listing of some of the many organizations that advocate for animals. They include animal rights, welfare/protection, conservation, rescue and rehabilitation, and refuge/sanctuary groups. Some are focused primarily on wildlife (including threatened or endangered species, or biodiversity), while others are focused on domesticated / companion animals (e.g. pets) or farmed animals. And a few do work that addresses all of the above. I have mostly included groups with a national (U.S.) or international scope, but there are many local and regional community-based groups for animals (in particular rescue groups that serve a local area), as well. I encourage you to do an online search to identify and support the ones in your region. Also follow our Twitter list of animal protection groups.

Organizations are listed below under the categories: General/Broad-based; Biodiversity; Farm Animals (and Humane Eating); Wild Animal Sanctuaries; Anti-Poaching and -Trafficking; Species-Specific (elephants, wolves, marine animals, primates, donkeys); Disaster Response/Rescue; Anti- Animal-Testing/Research/Experiments; Petitions; Books, Films, Audio, Videos; and Other Resources. And at the end, you will see More Quotations and Related Posts.

Note: This listing is not comprehensive. Also, I cannot vouch for the effectiveness or integrity of every group listed here (i.e., being listed does not necessarily constitute an endorsement). I will periodically add more links to the listing as I learn about other interesting groups. Please feel free to recommend additional groups in the Comments section.

General / broad-based animal rights and welfare groups

 

Biodiversity groups

These groups focus on broad issues that affect wild animal populations, such as habitat conservation, wildlife and endangered species protection, biodiversity, rewilding, and climate.

Also see the Anti-poaching category below.

And see the land/habitat conservation groups listed in our post Sustainable Land Use and Land Stewardship.

Organizations that work to protect and preserve wilderness (including intact forests and other wild lands) are thereby also preserving habitat for wildlife.

 

Farm animal groups and rescues/sanctuaries

There are many animal rescues and sanctuaries all over the country and the world. The following list is just a small selection of them that provide safe places for farm(ed) animals. Do a search to find the ones in your area, and see if you can go on a tour, or donate / sponsor (“adopt”) an animal:

Humane eating/meat standards:

Some would (maybe rightly) argue that there is no such thing as “humanely” raising or slaughtering (or hunting) animals for meat. I have included vegetarian/vegan resources here, as well as information about the various “humane” standards and certifications for meat producers. While I believe the choice to be vegan or vegetarian is admirable and ideal, the reality is that most humans have been and continue to be carnivores (omnivores), and I don’t think that people can be shamed out of meat-eating. Non-dogmatically-presented information and education can help, and more people are moving towards a low-meat, more humanely-raised-meat, or no-meat (or dairy) diet, but those are choices that each person comes to based on their own personal convictions and experiences.

 

Wild/large animal sanctuaries 

 There are many others. To find others, check out this listing of accredited sanctuaries.

Also see the sanctuaries for specific species, e.g., elephants, wolves, donkeys, etc., listed under “Species-specific groups,” below.

 

Anti-poaching, -trafficking, -wildlife-crime groups

 

Species-specific groups

The following is a small selection of the many groups that focus on particular species:

Elephants:

(Also see the Anti-Poaching groups listed above, which help protect elephants as well as other animals. And see the films Love and Bananas, and Last Days of Ivory.)

Wolves:

Marine animals:

Find other marine animal rescue groups here (a listing). And see the films The Cove and Blackfish.

Primates:

Donkeys:

Big cats:

 

Disaster response/rescue groups

Do an online search to find out if there’s some type of Animal Disaster Response group, such as an Animal Response Team (e.g., “State Animal Response Team” (SART) or “Community/County Animal Response Team” (CART)) established in your state, county, or city/town. If there isn’t one, consider organizing people to start one in your area, to help rescue pets, horses, livestock, and other animals during disasters.

 

Anti- animal testing/research/experiments groups

 

Petitions

Many of the organizations listed in the first section and in other sections of this post create their own petitions or letters that you can sign on to. Sign up for some organizations’ mailing lists, and check their websites’ Action-related sections.

Also see these websites:

And you can also check these other petition sites, which sometimes have animal-related petitions.

 

Books, Films, Audio, Videos

Books:

Films:

Audio (natural/animal sounds):

Videos / social media:

 

Other Resources

Find wildlife rescue/rehabilitation centers in your state or county (and here’s another directory) — places that help treat orphaned, sick, or injured wildlife

Find domestic animal rescues/shelters for pet adoption near you

Dog Food Advisor  (including pet food Recall alerts)
Dog Food Analysis

House Rabbit Society

Also see/follow our Twitter list of animal protection groups.

 

A side note: While many (and possibly even most) people support animal rights and protections, most of us do not support or condone the extreme and often counter-productive (alienating or off-putting) approach and tactics of PETA. That group does not represent all or even most animal rights supporters and activists.

 

More Quotations

“We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.”
— Immanuel Kant

“What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from the great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.”
– widely attributed to Chief Seattle (but it actually seems to have been written or adapted by the screenwriter for the 1972 film Home)

“Our task must be to widen our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
— Albert Einstein

“We are forever responsible for that which we have tamed.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery

 

Related posts:

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July 8, 2020
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Here are a few TED Talks that I’d recommend watching, in addition to the talks that I posted in the past (see Part I and Part II).

A Healthy Economy Should Be Designed to Thrive, Not Grow / Kate Raworth

 

How to Turn Climate Anxiety into Action / Renee Lertzman

 

The Shocking Danger of Mountaintop Removal (Coal Mining)—and Why It Must End / Michael Hendryx

 

A Climate Change Solution that’s Right Under Our Feet (Soil) / Asmeret Asefa Berhe

 

How Empowering Women and Girls Can Help Stop Global Warming / Katherine Wilkinson

 

This Could Be Why You’re Depressed or Anxious / Johann Hari (author of Lost Connections)

 

More:

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March 30, 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.

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November 25, 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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The protection of our democracy and the livability of our planet and its climate are dependent on having a more well-informed populace. It is increasingly important for people to be able to identify and combat disinformation, propaganda, smears, lies, dogma, unfounded conspiracy theories, and “fake news” from unreliable sources, in an era when online bots and “trolls” are being weaponized from outside and inside our country to spread misinformation by infiltrating social media groups and political campaigns, to wage personal attacks on candidates and sow discord, division, doubt, paranoia, hatred, chaos, and even violence. Many well-intentioned people have been unwittingly spreading lies because they were duped by cleverly concealed information warfare campaigns (often started by their adversaries or hostile regimes).

“Falsehood will fly from Maine to Georgia, while truth is pulling her boots on.”
– C.H. Spurgeon

To be well informed, you need to feed yourself a healthy, balanced diet of nutritious, fact-based, high-quality information. Avoid ingesting (or sharing) junk. Avoid all tabloids and sensationalist, entertainment-focused media; also avoid watching most cable news (especially FOX “News,” which has essentially become a fact-free outrage machine and propaganda arm of the GOP), panels of shouting pundits, and all Sinclair Broadcast Group-owned news stations. Avoid sharing articles that may not be accurate, or information that comes from highly biased or hyper-partisan publications/sources or from unknown or potentially illegitimate sources. If you’re in doubt about the accuracy of a claim, look it up on the key fact-checking sites (e.g., Factcheck.org, Politifact.com) and do a Google search to see what several reliable sources say about it.

Most importantly, seek out (and share) news from the most truth-seeking, investigative, and reputable media outlets. Of course, some journalists and reports are better than others, and even strong publications will have flawed pieces or flawed fact-checking sometimes. Readers still need to be able to engage in critical thinking, and to be able to distinguish between factual news reporting and opinion pieces (or PR pieces) from commentators, columnists, or pundits. Educators should help teach students these essential skills.

Here are a few media outlets that have regularly produced sound, informative reporting and are widely considered to be reliable, fair, trusted sources of news (though of course no publication, journalist, or human can or will ever be 100% bias-free or mistake-free):

Some additional publications that are also well-regarded and often feature informative articles (but that have sometimes been prone to more criticism or may require a more skeptical eye on certain pieces) include:

The New Yorker, The AtlanticThe New York Timesthe Los Angeles Times, Mother Jones, The Economist, Slate, The New Republic, Bloomberg, Politico, The Nation, and Salon.

Note: This is, of course, not an exhaustive or even comprehensive list of media worth paying attention to. If there are other trusted publications that you regularly read, feel free to mention them in the Comments.

Also be sure to check out the following:

Environment, Climate, Energy, and Science Media

Also see: End Climate Silence  (Twitter page)

Fact-checking Sites

Media Integrity/Watchdog Groups

Press Freedom Advocates

It’s important that those of us who can pay something for real journalism actually do so, so that real news outlets (including local/regional newspapers and local public radio stations) can survive and not be entirely driven out by profit- and ratings-driven, sensationalist media (and lie-spreading, non-journalistic websites). Choose at least one reputable news source to subscribe to as a paid subscriber—ideally at least one local and one national or international publication—to be informed, to show your support, and to help keep them afloat. We can’t expect competent, professional journalists and writers to work for free, and we don’t want news media to be reliant solely on their major advertisers, who might expect them to alter (or censor) their content to serve the advertisers’ special interests.

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March 28, 2019
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The following are some groups of (and/or for) young people who are leading and inspiring positive change and fighting for a livable future. These organizations represent various age groups (from children to teens to young adults / Gen Z and “millennials”), and they are building powerful social movements for climate action, intergenerational and environmental justice, and youth awareness and empowerment. Most of the following groups are based in the United States.

Many of the following groups could fall within any/all of the three categories listed below (environmental/climate action, education, and political/advocacy), but I’ve tried to put each group under the category that might be most applicable:

Environmental / climate action:

Zero Hour
Our Children’s Trust
Sunrise Movement
Fridays for Future
Earth Uprising
Youth 4 Nature
SustainUS: U.S. Youth for Justice and Sustainability
International Youth Climate Movement
Earth Guardians
Defend Our Future
Hip Hop Caucus
Brower Youth Awards
International Eco-Hero Awards (Action for Nature)
Turning Green
ECO2school youth leadership program

Education:

Institute for Humane Education
Alliance for Climate Education
Global Student Embassy
Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots
NatureBridge
Children & Nature Network
Teaching Tolerance
(And for often-informative teen media, see: Teen Vogue, the online magazine)

(Also see: Green Curricula and Environmental Learning Activities)

Political (including voting advocacy):

NextGen America
Rock the Vote
HeadCount
Campus Vote Project
Cap, Gown, Vote!
Alliance for Youth Action
Hip Hop Caucus
Millennial Politics
Young Invincibles
Youth Empower (Women’s March)
March for Our Lives / Vote for Our Lives
Youth Over Guns
Students Demand Action
Young Democrats of America
College Democrats

You can find these and other youth/young-adult-focused organizations in our Twitter list.

What are some other youth-led or youth-focused groups that you think people should know about? Please mention them in the Comments!

Related posts:

 

#ClimateStrike #GreenNewDeal

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December 18, 2018
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I was born and raised in the Midwest (of the U.S.).  Both sides of my family come from the Midwest: from Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio.  So I like to keep up on what’s going on in the Great Lakes region and other parts of the Midwest, and I promote and support good efforts happening there.

[Note: The Midwest is a very large region in the central/upper part of the country, comprising almost one-quarter of the U.S. states. The following 12 states are generally considered to be within the “Midwest” region: Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Missouri.]

Below is a listing of the midwestern environmental organizations (and a few other types of relevant organizations) and websites that we know of, though there are certainly many, many more.  (We don’t know all of these groups well, so being listed here does not constitute an endorsement.)  If you know people who live in these states, please share this listing with them.

What are some of your favorite environmental (or other) groups based in midwestern states?  Please let us know if the Comments!

 

logo2MIDWEST REGION (or beyond)

GREAT LAKES REGIONagl_logo_horizontal_full_color_rgb_1000px

 

ILLINOIS

INDIANA

IOWA

KANSAS

Lake Michigan, MI, Getty ImagesMICHIGAN

MINNESOTA

MISSOURI

NEBRASKA

NORTH DAKOTA

OHIO

SOUTH DAKOTA

WISCONSIN

 

You can also find regional land trusts/conservancies in each state via the Land Trust Alliance’s site.

And you can find other State-by-State Resources here (these listings include groups focused on social and political issues, as well). Also note that almost every state should have its own League of Women Voters chapter(s), Common Cause state chapter, Indivisible chapter(s), and an All On the Line (for fair district maps, anti-gerrymandering) state group.

Related post:

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May 30, 2018
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