resource listing

Ever-worsening climate change (which is causing more extreme and prolonged heat, droughts, and thus vast areas of extremely dry vegetation: e.g., trees, shrubs, and grass) is adversely affecting the world’s fire ecology. There have been increasingly widespread fires in most western (and many southern) states in the U.S.  and across almost every region of the world, including the Arctic (e.g., Siberia and Alaska), Canada, Australia, the Amazon/Brazil (where fires are often intentionally started to illegally clear rainforest land for cattle grazing), and in Africa and Europe. Wildfires have always happened to some degree, but the size and intensity, the times of year, and the locations of many of today’s wildfires are unprecedented. Nations, states, municipalities, communities, policymakers, neighborhood groups, builders and designers, land owners, building owners and home owners, and individuals all have a part to play in helping reduce wildfire risks, preventing wildfires from spreading into built environments, and creating more fire-adapted and resilient communities and structures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a resident of the western United States, I have been negatively affected by the worsening wildfires (more frequent and much bigger, hotter fires) and the ever-longer fire seasons that we’ve been experiencing these past 5+ years. The regular and explosive fires that can now happen almost any month of the year, mass evacuations, red flag warnings, hazardous and acrid-smelling smoke in the air (tiny particulates that get deep into your lungs and can make it feel like you’re sucking on a filthy truck exhaust pipe any time you’re outside) sometimes lingering for weeks at a time, apocalyptic burnt-orange/brown skies that block out the sun, sooty ash (including tiny pieces of people’s books/homes/lives) covering every outdoor surface (requiring the use of windshield wipers to clear car windshields), extended power outages, and major disruptions to work and life in general have taken a toll on millions of us. And many of us know people who have lost their homes and their sense of security—and who became climate refugees, facing displacement and years of insurance headaches and PTSD and nightmares—because of these fires. I have some good friends who went through this trauma in 2017; they had to flee a giant wildfire at night and barely got out alive. I helped sift through the rubble and toxic ashes of their destroyed home and work studio; it looked like a large bomb had been dropped on their property, which had formerly been an oak woodland paradise and a sort of refuge. That was an intense and emotionally jarring experience, and it left a mark on me. Last year, after many years of living in a beautiful and beloved but increasingly fiery region (with dwindling water resources), my husband and I moved to a wetter, more affordable area that has less fire risk (less risk for now, though I know conditions will continue to change and no place is safe from climate-related calamities).

When doing this research on wildfire risk reduction resources, I was heartened to discover that there are many experts (e.g., fire ecologists, pyrogeographers, and all types of fire science aficionados and fire safety officials) doing good work, and some smart and positive efforts are underway to lessen the wildfire risks going forward. For example, there is a growing understanding among land managers, fire agencies, policymakers, and state and county staff of the need for some prescribed fires (AKA controlled/managed burns or “good fire”): a once-traditional, indigenous practice to reduce dry and dead vegetation (fuels) and to safely mimic and manage what would occur naturally if most wildfires hadn’t been suppressed over the last century. I’ve been glad to observe that, in some areas at least, prescribed fires have been happening more frequently, despite the permitting hurdles. I’ve also read about prescribed burns (as well as greenbelt buffers) that did, in fact, help protect some neighborhoods from recent fires.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless in the face of the increasing number of catastrophic wildfires fueled by dangerous climate conditions. But we are not helpless. There are numerous actions we can take as a society, as communities, and as individuals/households to prevent or minimize further destruction.

Community-scale wildfire mitigation efforts include policies and practices regarding: state, regional, local, and neighborhood-level land use/management (of public and privately owned lands), e.g., forest management, prescribed fires/controlled burns, greenbelt buffers / Urban Growth Boundaries (for the wildland-urban interface), zoning that restricts building (or re-building) in fire-prone (or flood-prone or other disaster-prone) areas, and the development of fire-resilient infrastructure.

Property/Building-scale policies and practices (for land owners, building/home owners, and residents) focus on sites and structures: e.g., defensible space around residential and commercial structures, landscaping / vegetation management; home/building hardening and protection (design, building, remodeling, retrofitting); and Indoor Air Quality / air ventilation and filtering, for smoke protection and remediation.

The following websites and organizations can help you identify and implement a number of concrete actions that could protect your community or your own family and residence from wildfires:

I. General / Community-Scale Resources

Click here to see brief descriptions of these resources, or to see some more California-specific resources (in an annotated listing I developed for the U.S. Green Building Council’s Redwood Empire Chapter last year).

Also visit our Wildfire and Fire Ecology list on Twitter, which includes many of the above resources and others.

Articles:


 

 

 

 

II. Property & Building-Scale (Site & Structures) Resources

________

Click here to see brief descriptions of these resources, or to see some more California-specific resources (in an annotated listing I developed for the U.S. Green Building Council’s Redwood Empire Chapter last year). Also visit our Wildfire and Fire Ecology list on Twitter, which includes many of the above resources and others.

Doing everything we can to prevent or manage the spread of wildfires and to protect people, animals, and structures from wildfires and from wildfire smoke pollution (for the long term) also requires that we do everything we can NOW to help mitigate and slow climate change, as our fast-changing climate is the primary driver (the accelerant) of these increasingly catastrophic wildfires. See the links below for some other relevant recommendations.

Related posts:

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April 27, 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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While almost all of our posts can be used to inform or educate yourself or others, here are some of our posts that provide some direct resources for learning (for adults or children/youth). Many of the resources in these listings are also very entertaining:

Films and TV Programs

Books

TED Talks (videos)

Other Resources

What are some of your favorite, recommended educational resources on environmental topics? Let us know in the Comments.

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February 23, 2022
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I’ve been wanting to share some links and info. on a few very promising and impactful (but under-utilized) developments, trends, efforts, and solutions that I think more people should know about, spread the word about, and get involved in—namely: 1) land restoration, regeneration, and rewilding; 2) Community Solar; and 3) alternatives to plastics (and to animal leather and meat, etc.)  I may develop more in-depth posts on a couple of these topics in the future.

 

I. Land restoration: remediation, regeneration, rewilding

Check out these sites for some great information on land (and habitat) restoration projects and programs:

Loess Plateau, ChinaEcosystem Restoration Camps: “A global movement of people that is creating an abundant earth. We repair broken ecosystems together and, in doing so, provide humanity with hope and a better future. Our big goal is to have one million people come together by 2030 and restore degraded ecosystems in 100 camps around the world.” Find out where their current camps are here (see map).

Regeneration International: Their mission is “to promote, facilitate and accelerate the global transition to regenerative food, farming and land management for the purpose of restoring climate stability, ending world hunger and rebuilding deteriorated social, ecological and economic systems.”

The Rewilding Institute (AKA Rewilding Earth): Their mission is “to develop and promote the ideas and strategies to advance continental-scale conservation in North America and beyond, particularly the need for large carnivores and a permeable landscape for their movement, and to offer a bold, scientifically-credible, practically achievable, and hopeful vision for the future of wild Nature and human civilization.”

Half-Earth Project: “With science at its core and our transcendent moral obligation to the rest of life at its heart, the Half-Earth Project is working to conserve half the land and sea to safeguard the bulk of biodiversity, including ourselves.”

And for a great story on a Brazilian couple who replanted and restored a 1,500-acre forest, see this article. They have been written up on many other sites, as well, including Smithsonian Magazine. Their organization is called Instituto Terra.

Also related to regenerative land use: I’ll be creating a post about permaculture at some point.

Related posts: Sustainable Land Use and Land Stewardship Posts; and Re-Tree the Worldand Sustainable Agriculture, Farming, Gardening, and Food;and Animal Protection / Biodiversity Organizations and Resources

 

II. Community Solar  

Community Solar is also sometimes known as Shared Solar or Solar Gardens.

“Community Solar refers to local solar facilities that are shared by multiple community subscribers who receive credit on their electricity bills for their share of the power produced. Community solar provides homeowners, renters, and businesses equal access to the economic and environmental benefits of solar energy generation regardless of the physical attributes or ownership of their home or business.” (Source: Solar Energy Industries Association: Community Solar—go to this link for more information on where it’s being implemented)

For more information on how community solar works and its benefits, see:

Solstice: Solar for Every American

Department of Energy: Community Solar Basics

I also plan to write a post about renewable energy micro-grids, as well as solar-wind hybrid systems.

Related post: Municipalities, States, and Countries that are Achieving, Approaching, or Committed to 100% Renewable Energy (in particular, see the paragraph about Community Choice Energy, or Community Choice Aggregation local power programs)

 

III. Alternatives to petroleum-based plastics and other problematic materials

Ecovative Design: This company is making mushroom (mycelium)- and hemp-based (“MycoComposite”) biodegradable/compostable foam-like packaging, mycelium-based leather-like textiles, skin care products, and now also meatless meat.

Other entrepreneurs have made other types of bioplastics (including pleathers) from: banana peels or banana leaves; avocado pits/seeds and peels; agave fibers; hemp; and vegan “leather” from nopales cactus.

Hemp alone is extremely versatile. Its fiber, seeds, and oil can be used to make: fabric/textiles (e.g., clothing, rope); Hempcrete and other building materials; bioplastics; biofuel; foods and drinks (and animal feed); CBD products; paper products; and other products and materials. Hemp has many environmental benefits and advantages over other materials that it can replace. For more information, check out Vote Hemp, the Hemp Industries Association, or other groups.

Related posts: How to Identify Greener Products; and Health Impacts of Toxic Chemicals and Pollutants

 

I hope you’ll check out the links in this post, share them with others, and add any relevant recommendations or information in the Comments. Thanks!

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October 30, 2021
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These are just a few of the many films—with environmental themes—that have come out in the last few years (between 2016 and 2021). The listing also includes a few TV programs. These films and shows (mostly documentaries) touch on all sorts of topics, e.g., food, soil, agriculture/farming, indigenous people, climate change, social and environmental movements, animals, trees and forests, energy, and inspiring leaders and scientists. We’ll continue to add more films to this listing throughout 2021, as we learn of others. We have also posted listings of earlier films (from before 2016); scroll to the bottom of this post to find links to those.

Click on each of the links below (or go to IMDB.com) to see previews/trailers, reviews, and descriptions of each film. Also, educators should note that many of these films are available for free to teachers, and their websites often have educational resources for teachers/students to use.

Dark Waters   (feature movie, based on a true story re. PFAS and DuPont)

Percy vs Goliath (feature movie, based on a true story re. a farmer and Monsanto)

The Condor & the Eagle

Kiss the Ground

Gather

The Biggest Little Farm

The Serengeti Rules

Climate Solutions 101 (Project Drawdown’s 6-part video series)

Before the Flood

Living in the Future’s Past

Being the Change: A New Kind of Climate Documentary

Inside the Megafire

The Story of Plastic

A Plastic Ocean

RiverBlue

Power Struggle

Life Off Grid

Spaceship Earth

Hard Nox (from the Dirty Money TV series)

The Beekeeper (short film)

You’ve Been Trumped Too

Animals:

Love and Bananas: An Elephant Story

My Octopus Teacher

Artifishal: The Fight to Save Wild Salmon

Trees and Plants:

Intelligent Trees

Fantastic Fungi

The Call of the Forest: The Forgotten Wisdom of Trees

The Secret World of Trees (TV series)

Inspiring People:

End of the Line: The Women of Standing Rock

I Am Greta: A Force of Nature

Jane Goodall: The Hope

Rachel Carson

David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet

For other media on inspiring environmental leaders, check out the short videos about Goldman Prize winners.

 

Also check out Ecoflix [NEW] and WaterBear: new streaming platforms dedicated to environmental films and media. And take a look at The Years Project videos and shows, as well as PBS shows such as Our Planet, Nature, Earth: A New Wild, and NOVA, and BBC shows such as A Perfect Planet and Planet Earth.

Are there other relevant, recent (or forthcoming) films or TV programs that you’ve seen and would recommend to others?  If so, please mention those in the Comments section below.

 

Green Film Festivals

These are a few of the annual film fests that I’m aware of; this is not an exhaustive list. Please let everyone know about other green film festivals by contributing a Comment. Many of the festivals’ websites feature video clips and a some even stream entire films (short and full-length films), and they list many additional, new, independent films, beyond what I’ve listed above, including some brand new ones that haven’t been screened widely yet.

See the Green Film Network to find film festivals in many countries.

 

Our previous film posts:

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March 12, 2021
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Cities, towns, counties, states, regions, and countries all over the world are making large strides towards shifting to renewable energy sources (e.g., solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower, biomass, and wave/tidal energy). In early 2018 we published our original post on this topic. This new post provides an update on where things stand three years later, in early 2021:

Within the U.S., the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 program reports that (to date, as of early 2021), more than 170 cities, more than 10 counties, 8 states, and 2 territories have adopted the ambitious goal of 100% clean energy (for at least electricity). Note: This is quite a bit more than just three years ago, when the stats were 50 cities, 7 counties, and only 1 state (Hawaii).  As of this year (so far), the 8 states and 2 territories that have committed to this goal are: California, Hawaii, Maine, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Virginia, Washington, as well as Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico!  The counties that have made this commitment are located in California, Colorado, Idaho, North Carolina, New Mexico, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington state.

Whereas three years ago, only five towns in the U.S. had achieved this impressive goal (generating 100% of their electricity from non-polluting, renewable sources), now five counties (unincorporated county areas) in California, as well as 47 cities and towns across the U.S. have achieved this goal. Most of those cities and towns are in California. The non-California towns are: Aspen, CO; Greensburg, KS; Rock Port, MO; Kodiak Island, AK; and Georgetown, TX. You can use the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 map to see if your city/town/county or other municipalities in your state have committed to or achieved these renewable energy goals.

Worldwide, many other cities and countries are also approaching and even reaching 100% renewable electricity goals. The Global 100 RE Strategy Group says that “To date, 11 countries have reached or exceeded 100% renewable electricity; 12 countries have passed laws to reach 100% renewable electricity by 2030; 49 countries have passed laws to reach 100% renewable electricity by 2050; 14 U.S. states and territories have passed laws or executive orders to reach up to 100% renewable electricity by between 2030 and 2050 [Note: That is more than the 10 identified by the Sierra Club above]; over 300 cities worldwide have passed laws to reach 100% renewable electricity by no later than 2050; and over 280 international businesses have committed to 100% renewables across their global operations.”

Countries that are powered or almost entirely powered on renewable energy (>90%) include: Costa Rica, Iceland, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Norway. Other countries with very high percentages of renewables include Portugal, Germany, Scotland, New Zealand, and Austria. Islands that now have >90% renewable electricity include: Eigg and Orkney (Scotland), Tasmania (Australia), Tokelau (New Zealand), Tau (American Samoa), and Samso (Denmark).

Note: Some of these countries, cities, and islands use primarily hydropower; large dams are controversial, as they are environmentally destructive to ecosystems and habitats. Some biomass (and landfill gas) sources can also be controversial. It definitely does not make any sense or pencil out (climate-wise/carbon-wise or otherwise) to cut down trees en masse (let alone ship their wood or wood pellets across the world) in order to make energy.

Some programs that help cities, regions, countries, and other entities move towards 100% include:

Also see these other resources on 100% renewable energy efforts:

We should all ask the leaders of our cities, towns, counties, states, and countries (mayors, city council members, county supervisors, governors, state legislators, congressional representatives, Senators, and President) to commit to a 100% (or at least 90%) renewable energy goal (as well as carbon-neutral and net-negative emission goals), and to enact forward-thinking policies right away to move rapidly towards those goals. You can share these program links with them, so they will be aware of networks they can join and resources they can use in setting their policies and meeting their renewable energy goals.

One way to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy sources at a local level is to create a county-wide, city-wide or regional Community Choice Energy (AKA Community Choice Aggregation, CCA) program. Per The Climate Center, “Community Choice agencies are local, not-for-profit, public agencies that provide electricity services to residents and businesses. Community Choice introduces competitions and consumer choices into the electricity sector with a focus on local, renewable energy to stimulate rapid innovations in clean energy systems.” According to Local Power, Community Choice energy programs now serve more than 30 million Americans, in more than 1,500 municipalities across the country. As of early 2021, there are 23 Community Choice energy programs established in California alone, serving more than 11 million people, providing more than 3,800 megawatts of new renewable energy capacity, and avoiding 940,000+ metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year! In addition to California, eight other states have also authorized Community Choice programs (so far): Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Virginia.

The Climate Center is also running the Climate-Safe California campaign, to try to push the state to set and achieve the goal of net-negative emissions by 2030 in California. You can read and endorse the platform via that link.

Energy efficiency is also critical. It is as important as shifting to renewable energy sources, because the less energy we need/use/waste (i.e. the lower the demand), the less we have to produce (supply) from any source. Simply adding renewable energy sources to the existing non-renewable sources will not help reduce pollution or slow climate change; renewable sources need to start to replace the existing fossil-fuel-based (oil, coal, and gas) sources. (All types of energy production, even non-polluting renewables, require material inputs and have some impacts.) The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) published a 2020 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, which concluded that “For the first time in four years, California took first place nationwide, edging out Massachusetts, the leader in the Northeast…. Rounding out this year’s top 10, are…Vermont (#3), Rhode Island (#4), New York (#5), Maryland (#6), Connecticut (#7), Washington, DC (#8), and Minnesota and Oregon (tied for #9). …Other regional leaders include Colorado in the Southwest, and Virginia in the South.”

 

This was our previous post on this topic:
Cities and Towns Achieving (or Approaching) 100 Percent Renewable Energy (2018)

Other related posts:

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February 23, 2021
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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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We hope you’ll follow our Twitter account, and also check out and Subscribe to some of the topic-specific lists we’ve compiled on Twitter, featuring other accounts (people and groups) worth following. Note: Click on the “Members” link to see the accounts you may want to follow within each list:

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

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

Forests / Trees: groups stopping deforestation and clear-cutting; supporting reforestation efforts and truly sustainable forestry practices

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

Environmental Justice (EJ): environmental, economic, and social equity-focused groups and leaders; BIPOC green groups, etc.

Animal protection: Animal rights, advocacy, rescue, and welfare/protection groups (for wildlife and for domesticated animals and farmed animals)

Wildfires and fire ecology: Wildfire prevention and risk reduction; land use/management; prescribed/controlled fires, forest/vegetation management, defensible space, building/home hardening; climate change/crisis

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

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

Media, news, facts, information: reputable, fact-based sources of information; journalism; fact-checking; countering disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda

Disaster/emergency response, humanitarian relief: humanitarian aid and emergency & disaster response groups; alerts, rescue efforts, preparedness, planning, recovery

COVID, Long COVID, public health: experts on pandemics, COVID, Long COVID and other chronic/post-viral illnesses, virology, infectious diseases, autoimmune diseases, immunology, epidemiology, vaccines

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

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

Latinos: Latinx news, info, groups, and leaders

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

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

Youth / young adult organizations: Groups of and for young people, students, Gen Z, millennials, etc.

Economic inequality: economic (in)justice, poverty, greed (corporate greed, billionaires) and the redistribution of more $$ to the most wealthy power and corporations, kleptocracy/oligarchy, predatory capitalism, exploitation, unemployment; labor rights, fair/living wage, unions

State and local Dem. groups: State Democratic parties and other groups that support state and local Dem. campaigns and candidates

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

Peace / non-violence: Anti-war, anti-violence, peace-building, and conflict management groups; non-violent action

Veterans: news, info, advocacy groups, and leaders

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

Extremism, political violence: Groups and experts studying and countering hate groups, supremacy, extremism, violence, conspiracy theories and cults (e.g. QAnon), radicalization / disinformation, and terrorism, including domestic terrorism

Sociopathy / pathology and pathocracy: Experts on Anti-Social Personality Disorders (psychopaths/sociopaths), malignant narcissism, pathocracy, con men, cults, brainwashing

Gun Control/Reform: Gun control organizations, trying to enact common-sense and widely supported policies that will help prevent gun violence and mass shootings (massacres)

We also have Twitter lists for specific U.S. states and regions, e.g. ArizonaGeorgiaMichigan, NevadaNorth Carolina, Oregon, PennsylvaniaTexasWisconsin; and Appalachia, as well as for the country of Canada. We’ll be adding more lists (including other state lists) over time, and we also add more accounts (“members”) to our existing lists as we discover them.

See all of our Twitter lists here.

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

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May 27, 2020
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