policy

Studies have shown that exposure to various environmental toxins—which people can be exposed to via the air, water, soil, or the use of certain products—seem very likely to contribute to the development of a number of neurological and neurodegenerative disorders and diseases (including Alzheimer’s, other types of dementia, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, MS) and can also harm neurological development (e.g., intelligence) in children and babies’ developing brains.

My father died of complications related to Parkinson’s disease, after enduring the myriad physical and cognitive indignities of that disease for many years. So this issue is very personal for me. But everyone should take it very personally that any one of us and many of our loved ones could end up suffering or dying from neurological or other diseases (such as cancers) that are often caused—at least in part—by our typically involuntary exposures to toxic chemicals that should not be manufactured or used or emitted into the environment. My dad was definitely exposed to some of the chemicals and air pollutants that have recently been associated with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s. That makes me angry. It should make everyone angry and motivated to push for changes that protect everyone’s bodies and brains.

Some alarming facts and statistics to consider:

  • At least one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. (It kills more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.) Deaths from Alzheimer’s more than doubled between 2000 and 2019. (Source: Alzheimer’s Association)
  • COVID-19 is causing an increase in Alzheimer’s and dementia. In 2020, COVID contributed to a 17% increase in Alzheimer’s and dementia deaths! (Source: Alzheimer’s Association)
  • Parkinson’s is the second most common neurodegenerative disease, after Alzheimer’s disease. (Source: Parkinson’s Foundation)
  • Globally, disability and death due to Parkinson’s disease are increasing faster than for any other neurological disorder. The prevalence of PD has doubled in the past 25 years. PD is the most common movement disorder. (Source: World Health Organization)
  • Air pollution is associated with approximately 7 million premature deaths every year, worldwide. (Source: World Health Organization)
  • Almost the entire global population (99%) breathes air that exceeds WHO guideline limits and contains high levels of pollutants. (Source: World Health Organization)

While many neurological and other diseases can have genetic risk factors, and some can also be triggered or worsened by certain viruses, or by lifestyle (e.g. diet, exercise) choices, many diseases are more likely to occur when certain environmental exposures are also factors. Public health (and individual health) depend on environmental health. Prevention of these diseases should not just be focused on lifestyle choices, but should focus on protecting all of us by banning the environmental toxins that anyone can be exposed to.

Neurotoxins (toxins that studies have linked to neurological disorders/damage) include, but are not limited to:

  • certain types of pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides (e.g. paraquat, glyphosate/Roundup, maneb, etc.);
  • chemical solvents (e.g., trichloroethylene: TCE);
  • mercury (exposure primarily comes from coal power plant pollution, but it can also come from silver/amalgam dental fillings and from the cremation of those fillings, and from the ingestion of some types of seafood, as well as other sources) as well as lead and other heavy metals;
  • particulate air pollutants from the burning of fossil fuels, via power plants and via vehicles and other forms of transport (as well as particulates from wildfire smoke, which is increasing each year due to climate-driven heat and drought).

These are some recent Parkinson’s-specific articles and resources:

And these are a few articles on environmental risk factors associated with Alzheimer’s, other forms of dementia, and various other types of neurological disorders/brain damage:

Beyond Pesticides has compiled summaries of many recent studies and findings on the various neurological (and other health) effects associated with exposure to various chemical pesticides (and herbicides, fungicides, and related toxins):


ACTIONS

Please sign this petition:
Tell the EPA: Ban Paraquat, an herbicide linked to Parkinson’s disease

And you can sign these other petitions from the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and from Beyond Pesticides.

You could also join the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) study (whether you have Parkinson’s or not) to help further the research.

At the very least, please share the information provided in this post. And buy only organically grown food (and plants/seeds); avoid the use (and unsafe disposal) of toxic chemicals and hazardous products whenever possible; do what you can to reduce air pollution (e.g. minimize how much you fly or drive; and reduce material consumption/purchases); and support policies, public officials, candidates, and companies that promote non-toxic alternatives to the many chemical-intensive and polluting products and industries that are killing so many people and damaging our brains.

______

For additional information on the connection between environmental toxins and public health (and organizations that are focused on these issues and trying to prevent or reduce these problems), please see our past post on:

Health Impacts of Toxic Chemicals and Pollutants

Here’s a small selection of the organizations focused on these issues:

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September 29, 2022
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This is a listing of some legal organizations that I recommend following, learning more about, and potentially supporting. They all use the law to try to serve and support the common good in various ways: to protect humans and human rights, civil rights, and civil liberties; to protect animals and the rights of non-human species; and/or to protect nature, our shared environment, and the livability of our planet.

Many human/societal/commercial/industrial activities and practices that are considered “business as usual” are not only unjust, but are truly ecocidal, genocidal, and collectively suicidal, and really ought to be legally deemed (and prosecuted as) Crimes Against Humanity and the planet. Currently, only some of these existential wrongs can be addressed and enforced through legal avenues. While the law has typically focused on the rights of humans (and human entities, such as companies or organizations), efforts have been ramping up to also establish/enact and secure the Rights of Nature (including rivers, etc.) as well as Non-Human Rights for other species.

In recent years, some countries have amended their constitutions, enacted laws, or issued court decisions recognizing the legal rights of nature. Those countries include: Ecuador, New Zealand, Bolivia, Panama, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, and Bangladesh. And recently, the UN formally declared that access to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment is a universal human right. However, this is a non-binding resolution; the hope is that it will help spur countries to improve their environmental laws and the implementation and enforcement of those laws.

Environmental law/rights

Animal rights

Also see: our Twitter list on Animal rights and protection; and our related post: Animal Protection, Rescue, and Advocacy Organizations

Human/civil/constitutional rights
(including voting rights, bodily autonomy, reproductive rights, etc.)

For additional organizations and legal experts, see our Twitter lists on:

 

Related posts: Posts related to Democracy, Elections, Voting, and Social Change

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August 2, 2022
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The past 5+ years, it’s felt like new, large-scale crises emerge almost every day. It’s hard to focus on or prioritize any one issue, as so many issues are of dire importance.

I wish we could live in a world without any traumatic crises or catastrophes. But given that that isn’t a realistic option: I wish we could focus almost all of our attention and efforts on climate action and environmental protection right now, since climate breakdown (and biodiversity loss) is an urgent and worsening crisis (with new climate-related disasters occurring around the world every week) and it requires a bold and immediate response. But this crisis keeps getting overshadowed and crowded out by other real crises and existential threats: from the ongoing and ever-morphing COVID-19 pandemic, to war and violence—and all of its attendant issues, including senseless death, destruction, brutality, trauma, and suffering; war crimes, humanitarian crises, mass migration of refugees, nuclear security/safety risks (from threats of nuclear strikes to potentially catastrophic damage to active and inactive nuclear reactors/radioactive waste), environmental contamination (crimes against humanity and nature) and animal suffering, oil and gas supply/dependence, food supply risks, and the resulting economic effects—to the ongoing struggle between democracy/human rights vs. authoritarianism, extremism, and political violence (abroad and at home), to increasing attacks on women’s rights, civil rights, and voting rights in the United States. And this, of course, is only a partial list of significant current issues, the vast majority of which are human-caused.

None of us gets to choose which era we’re born into or what types of historical events and cataclysms we have to live through. But we should all try to rise to the moment we’re in and push for shifts in a more positive direction.

We all have so many personal responsibilities and daily struggles and stressors of our own that it can be very hard to take in what’s going on in other people’s lives and in other parts of the world. Many people turn away because they are already overwhelmed and are in survival mode, and simply can’t cope with or absorb any more sad or scary news or more problems that seem intractable; we all go through certain periods of our lives, or parts of our days, when our own problems (or our families’) are all (or more than) we can handle. Taking on the weight of the world can be crushing. Almost none of us are unscathed or truly OK these days, as most of us are facing numerous challenges at societal and individual levels. It’s important to “put your own oxygen mask on first, before helping others with theirs” because you can’t help others unless you are alive, relatively sane and healthy, and able to function. But whenever we do have the capacity, we should strive to be compassionate, stay aware of what is going on outside of our immediate lives and circumstances, and try to make a difference whenever and wherever we can, however small our efforts may seem, on whatever specific issue(s) we feel we can make an impact on. Helping others (and humanity at large) also gives our own lives a greater sense of meaning and purpose.

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” – Edward Everett Hale

To get updates, information, and expert insights on some of the important issues of our time, you may want to visit (and follow) a couple of my curated lists of Twitter accounts. Note: I created a few of these lists recently, and I regularly add new accounts to each list:

And these are some of The Green Spotlight’s blog posts that are related to current issues:

Posts Related to Democracy and Social Change 

Climate and Energy-Related Solutions, Tips, and Resources

COVID Response and Relief

Tips for Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Response

Wildfire Prevention and Risk Reduction

Resilience: Disaster-Resistant and Adaptive Design and Planning

Animal Protection, Rescue, and Advocacy

Wisdom from Hope in the Dark

Great Quotations on Action, Activism, and Change

There are countless organizations doing important and noble work to address many of the issues mentioned above. It’s not easy for me to narrow down a list of only a few to highlight. But I will try. The following are just a few groups that address big, cross-cutting issues; I will be adding more to this list soon. Because so many of humanity’s issues and crises intersect and spring from the same or similar causes or contributors, it’s helpful to use systems thinking to see the big picture, connect the dots, and synthesize messages and actions; doing so can enable us to address multiple problems at once. (While the following are national and international organizations that have a broad scope, more local/regional, decentralized, grassroots groups and efforts are also extremely important and necessary, and big groups should partner up with small and local groups. There are just way too many grassroots groups in every area of the world to attempt to list them here.)

As for Russia’s war on Ukraine (and the many terrible consequences of it), here are a few things you can do to help or to show solidarity with Ukraine (as well as greater Europe, other countries facing conflicts, and our entire, interconnected world):

  1. Support Global Giving’s Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund, other humanitarian aid and disaster response groups, refugee assistance groups, the Clean Futures Fund, or other organizations in the region.
  2. Reduce your use of oil and gas, e.g. by flying less (or not at all), driving less, getting an electric or non-gas-guzzling car (or electric bicycle), supporting renewable energy (via your utility, city, and state), using solar power, switching from gas to electric furnaces and stoves, getting a heat pump, not heating or cooling your home as much, etc.
  3. Lobby/educate against the use (and development) of nuclear power and nuclear weapons, locally, nationally, and globally. Support: the immediate decommissioning of existing nuclear plants and neutralization of nuclear materials, no-first-use nuke policies, nuclear disarmament and arms reduction policies, uranium mining bans, etc.
  4. Reduce your consumption of wheat/grain-based products, and never waste food (Ukraine is an agricultural “bread basket” of the world, and its ability to grow grains and other foods will be severely impacted by the war, affecting the food supply and food prices everywhere ). If you have a little space and a little time, grow some food plants on your land/yard/windowsills—ideally enough that you can share some with others. Support local organic farmers and small farms, as well food banks/pantries and food security and hunger organizations, locally and globally.
  5. Support and amplify pro-democracy, anti-authoritarian groups and efforts, as well as pro-peace, anti-war groups and efforts.
  6. Plant some sunflowers this spring or summer.
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March 31, 2022
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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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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’s election division 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 and current (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 other 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 State and Local Dem groups, and our Twitter list of Voting-related groups and experts.

Our other 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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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, our Twitter posts, and the daily news posts on our Facebook page.

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July 15, 2019
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Each day, we post 1 or 2 morsels of illuminating information or inspiration on The Green Spotlight’s Facebook Page. If you have a Facebook account, we hope you’ll click on the page’s Like button (if you haven’t already “Liked” or “Followed” the page) and Share the page with some friends.

Please visit the Page to get a sense of the various topics that it covers. We hope you’ll share some of our links. To make sure that Facebook will continue to show you our posts on your Facebook homepage/newsfeed, visit our page regularly and give a thumbs-up to (“Like”) your favorite posts.

 

Here’s a sampling of some topics that we’ve highlighted on the page over the last month or so, including both good news and bad:

  • The cost of renewables has plummeted, making renewable energy the cheapest to produce
  • Tips for keeping your house/building cool and saving energy (and money) on hot days
  • State of New York passes bill with most ambitious climate targets in the country
  • Heat waves and droughts are killing people and other animals (and causing widespread misery) in India and other parts of the world
  • China, the U.S., and Russia spend the most on fossil fuel industry subsidies (the U.S. spends more on these subsidies than on the Pentagon budget, and 10 times more than it spends on education)
  • Three former Republican EPA chiefs say the current Administration and Agency are undermining science, an approach that will have “catastrophic” results
  • People are ingesting 50,000-70,000 microplastics each year (a credit card’s worth of plastic each week), as our plastic garbage has broken down into tiny pieces and entered the food chain
  • Large cruise lines’ major pollution and illegal dumping of waste into the ocean (e.g., Carnival’s cruise ships pollute more than all of Europe’s cars combined)
  • Air pollution can cause dementia and neurological problems and can damage every organ in the body
  • Videos, photos, quotations, etc.

 

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June 26, 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, self-determination, bodily autonomy, reproductive 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
– Public health protections, and 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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