resource listing

So many life-and-death issues are on the line in the upcoming election: the speed and scale of climate/planetary breakdown (i.e. the habitability of our planet); protecting women’s lives, personhood, and bodily autonomy; protecting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and affordable health care plans; reducing massacres from gun violence; protecting marginalized and dehumanized groups of people; protecting and expanding workers’ rights and economic justice; the appointment of future Supreme Court justices and other judges whose decisions will have life-changing impacts on our lives; the handling of future pandemics; and preventing the use of nuclear weapons, to name just a few.

I know it seems like people always say “This is the most important election of our lifetime.” In a sense, it’s almost always true, if you just add “…so far.” We can’t go back and change the outcome of past elections, and we don’t know what future elections will look like. But every election is extremely important and every outcome has serious and lasting consequences for our everyday lives—and many issues are becoming more dire over time—so the next election is always going to be the next best chance we have to influence the conditions we will be living under in the short term and the long term.

This election is different from previous elections in some important and disturbing ways:

1) New voter suppression laws are in effect: Since the last Presidential election, some states have passed laws instituting rules that will make it harder for certain groups of people to vote (especially young people and students, people with disabilities, poor and homeless people, and the elderly), which could disenfranchise many of them;

2) Insurrectionists are in office and running for office: This is the first Presidential election since the January 6th insurrection (attempted coup) happened. A number of current elected officials at state, local, and federal levels (and other people who are now running for office) participated in that insurrection in one way or another, or are still actively denying the results of the 2020 presidential election (propagating the Big Lie); and many of them are already saying that they will not accept (or certify) the outcome of an election that does not go their way. We have a patriotic responsibility to vote against insurrectionists and election deniers in a landslide; and

3) AI deepfakes and “cheap fakes” (video, audio, and images) can now easily be manipulated to impersonate candidates or others, or to show excerpted statements completely out of context, to confuse or misinform voters. It can be difficult to tell what is fake or real, and even if they are debunked, last-minute deepfakes before the election could have an effect on how people vote (or whether they vote at all). Intelligence officials are warning that Russia (as well as China and Iran) have been using fake accounts on social media to spread disinformation and sow division in the U.S.  They can do this through many means, deepfakes being one of them.

If the U.S. allows a corrupt, sociopathic, Putin-backed, adjudicated rapist and defamer, convicted felon (with numerous other charges awaiting trial), compulsive liar, grifting conman, and wanna-be dictator (along with his criminal henchmen, “yes men,” and corrupt family) to take power for a second time, it will likely be the end of our long, admirable experiment with American democracy and it will probably be the last legitimate election we have for a generation or more. Many people don’t realize how quickly a country can lose its freedoms and how far it can fall in the hands of an authoritarian. Our democracy is far from perfect now, but things can get much, much worse. Basic rights that we take for granted could suddenly be stripped away. We should learn from the recent experiences of countries like Hungary, Turkey, and Belarus. I can’t overstate or adequately express how much I don’t want to live out the rest of my life under that type—or any type—of anti-democratic, authoritarian, or theocratic rule (and how much you and almost everyone else would hate it and suffer because of it, as well).

Ways to help voters and Get Out the Vote

Elections are decided by those who show up to vote and who vote for one of the viable candidates (in the U.S. system, third-party candidates are not viable at the national level), and particularly by voters in “swing states,” which will determine the Electoral College outcome of the Presidential election (please click here to tell your state representatives to pass the National Popular Vote Law in your state; it has been passed in 18 states so far and is getting close to the threshold needed to go into effect).

Current “swing states” include: Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, Nevada, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Florida. Other “purple” states include: Ohio, Montana, Minnesota, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Virginia, Maine, Iowa, Nebraska, and Missouri, among others.

Here are some ways that each of us can make sure people are able to vote and to protect the election and democracy:

  1. Look up your state’s voter registration deadline and share that information with others you know, including anyone who might not yet be registered (or who has moved recently and might need to re-register). In some states, people must be registered more than a month before the election in order to vote in that election, while a few states allow people to register right up to or on Election Day.
  2. Remember to check your registration status at least once a year (including a month or two before each election, when you should still have time to re-register) and remind others to do so, as well. (Go to your state’s Elections/Secretary of State website, or contact your county’s Elections office to check your registration, or go to  Vote411.org.) Some states are doing overly aggressive “purges” of their voter registration rolls to “clean them up” but they could remove people who should not be removed. You should also make sure your registration has your correct address.
  3. Make sure people in your state (and people you know in battleground/swing states) know what types of ID are required for voting there now. In the last year or two, the requirements in some states have gotten much more stringent (for example, some states will not accept student IDs now). Did you know that 11% of American adults (26 million people, including many young people, elderly or disabled people, and low-income people) don’t have a current photo ID? If someone needs assistance with obtaining the required ID or getting it free of charge, they can call or text the VoteRiders hotline: 866-ID-2-VOTE (866-432-8683), or email info@voteriders.org (or contact Spread the Vote/Project ID).
  4. There is a much greater need for poll workers than ever before. Sign up to be a paid poll worker through Power the Polls. It’s important to sign up well before the election so you will have time to get the required training. Because the GOP is threatening to use voter intimidation tactics at some polling places, and because some new poll workers might not always provide correct information to voters, it’s also necessary to have fair-minded poll monitors, or “poll watchers” or “election observers” on hand. Sign up to be a nonpartisan Election Protection volunteer; there are different roles you can choose from, to help on site or from home. (You might also be able to sign up as a partisan poll watcher through your local or state Democratic Party office.) Those who have a legal background (lawyers, paralegals, and law students) can volunteer through WeTheAction.
  5. Support some voting/election-related organizations (or campaigns) now. Please don’t wait until the fall to start helping them; that could be too late to make a difference. Here are some groups to consider supporting (or volunteering for):
  1. There are many different ways you can volunteer to help Get Out the Vote, in your state or in one or more of the swing states that will determine the Electoral College outcome of the election. You could volunteer for a specific candidate or campaign, or with your state or local Democratic party. Or you can do postcarding (or writing letters), texting, or calling voters through groups like:

You can find other ways to be involved in expanding voting access and supporting democracy in the Americans of Conscience Checklist, or through many of the other organizations listed under item #5, above.

 

Important Information to Share

Please share some of the information and links provided above, as well as some of the following articles, on your social media pages, or by email or text, etc.  Many people seem to have already forgotten about so many of the outrageous things that DT has said and done over the years (and how awful it was to live through his first term), and many people are not really paying attention to what he’s saying and doing now. There are so many daily outrages, it’s hard to keep up with all of them or remember many of them. Most of us could use some periodic reminders:

TrumpFile.org: “Chronologically documenting the life, crimes, and corruption of Donald Trump, his administration, and his allies”

Legal cases (thousands) and guilty verdicts against Trump (and the Trump Organization+), from the 1970s until the present

Donald Trump: Three Decades, 4,095 Lawsuits, USA Today

Sexual assault and misconduct allegations (and cases) against Trump, by >25 women and girls

“Trump’s ‘Team of Felons’ (a list of people in DT’s inner circle who have been convicted of crimes)

Charted: Trump world allies sentenced to prison,” Axios

Selections from The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President

A Trump dictatorship is increasingly inevitable. We should stop pretending.” By Robert Kagan, Washington Post

How Far Trump Would Go,” by Eric Cortellessa, Time magazine

The Bloodbath Candidate,” by Timothy Snyder

The People’s Guide to Project 2025, by Democracy Forward

Decoding Project 2025’s Christian Nationalist Language,” by Andra Watkins, Salon

Project 2025 tells us what a second Trump term could mean for climate policy. It isn’t pretty.” By Frederick Hewett, WBUR

Our Diagnostic Impression of Trump is Probable Dementia,” signed by thousands of licensed mental health professionals, on Change.org

Numerous enlightening articles on DT by Chauncey DeVega, Salon

 

Also see: 30 Major Climate Initiatives Under Biden, Legal Planet

We’ll be adding more information to this post soon and in the months leading up the election, and we’re also going to publish another election-related post before November. Stay tuned!

Related posts:

Twitter lists:

 

#VoteReady #GOTV #VotingMatters #ClimateVoter #YouthVote #VoteLikeYourLifeDependsOnIt #DemocracyMatters

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May 9, 2024
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The climate movement has been growing much larger and building power in recent years. The vast majority of people in the U.S. and in the world are concerned about the climate and want to see more climate action. And there’s no shortage of climate-focused organizations. But we do need more people who’ve been sitting on the sidelines to join the existing efforts and turn their climate concern into action, so we can reach a critical mass. There is strength in numbers and in collective action.

strength in numbers

You don’t have to identify as an “activist” to amplify, support, or participate in the work of climate organizations, and you don’t need to wait for an invitation to join or to get involved—but if you’d like one, consider this your cordial, official invitation! All of us in the climate movement welcome you!

If you aren’t already familiar with a bunch of climate organizations, check out the list below. I recommend following at least a few of these (or other) climate organizations online (e.g., on social media) to get to know what they’re about and to get a sense of which ones have an approach or a tone that resonates with you the most. Then sign up to join—or get on the mailing list of—one or more of them. And start sharing their posts and actions with others in your social network.

This list of climate organizations is fairly comprehensive but it is not exhaustive. Most of the following groups are based in the U.S. and have a national or international scope, and most are non-profits. Many of these groups have regional or local chapters. (As I learn about other national/international groups over time, I will be adding more to this list.) Many other climate organizations exist, including local, grassroots groups and projects, all over the world. If you can’t find a local group, chapter, or committee in your town, you could start an informal climate group or project in your community, neighborhood, workplace, school, or religious congregation.

Note: In this first list, below, the organizations that are in bold type are the groups that I am most familiar with and feel most comfortable recommending, but all of these organizations have an important role to play. Are you familiar with some of these?

These are organizations for people in particular professions or demographics:

There are also a number of faith-based (religious) climate groups.

Also, many broad-based environmental organizations include climate issues among the spectrum of environmental issues they work on. After all, climate change affects and is affected by every other environmental (and social) issue.

And many other types of environmental organizations with a specific focus (e.g., environmental justice, youth/young people, health, land/forest conservation, animal/species protection, etc.) often also recognize and address climate impacts in their work.

If you would like assistance with identifying a few organizations that are the best fit for your particular interests or your preferred organizational strategies/approaches (e.g., legal, legislative/lobbying, direct action, education/awareness building, etc.), I’m a climate advisor and I can assist you with that.

If you would like to recommend a climate organization that isn’t on this list, please mention it in the Comments!

 

Climate Resources

The following are information sources—including some media/news sites—that provide science-based, fact-based information on the climate crisis and climate solutions. Most of these are based in the U.S.  These sites can help you get more informed or help you educate others about climate issues:

For other environmental and general news sources, see our post on Reputable and Fact-Based News and Information Sources.

For other types of climate resources, also see our post on Books, Films and TV, and TED Talks.

Other relevant posts:

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February 27, 2024
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Public health (and individual health) depend on environmental health. 

While many conditions—e.g., cancers, neurological diseases and disorders, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes—have genetic risk factors, and some can also be triggered or worsened by certain viruses or by lifestyle choices (diet and exercise), many diseases are much more likely to occur when certain environmental exposures (pollutants) are also present. Prevention of diseases should not just be focused on lifestyle choices, but should also focus on protecting everyone by banning the environmental toxins that many of us are exposed to.

Many known and probable/suspected carcinogens, endocrine disruptors (including “obesogens”), and neurotoxins are in products that we use every day, and we’re also regularly exposed to toxins through polluted air, water, and soil/food.

Industrial, agricultural, and janitorial workers, and people living in low-income (or Industrial Ag.) communities, often suffer the greatest exposures to toxins/pollutants (and therefore, people in these groups often have shorter lifespans). But all of us face these risks to some degree, no matter how “healthy” our lifestyle or how wealthy our neighborhood is. We should all be outraged that any one of us and many of our loved ones could end up suffering or dying from diseases or disorders 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. Our society and regulatory agencies should be using the precautionary principle and keeping harmful chemicals and toxins (including oil, gas, and coal emissions, and petrochemical plastics) out of our environment. We must push for changes that protect everyone’s bodies and brains.

Climate destabilization and global heating are also creating significant problems for public health (and safety and survival), in so many ways: from extreme heat to other climate-driven disasters (wildfires and smoke, flooding, drought, etc.), to the increased incidence and geographic spread of infectious (and mosquito-and tick-borne) diseases, as well as the very real mental health impacts of experiencing and witnessing climate destabilization, traumatizing disasters and displacement. Any time you’re working to mitigate and slow climate change, you’re also working to protect public health.

Here’s a list of our posts that are most directly related to health:

And these are some organizations that are focused on environmental and public health:

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October 11, 2023
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I much prefer focusing on preventive health than on emergency triage. I’d rather be writing about how to prevent climate destabilization and global heating from getting worse (and I’ve been doing that for years and will continue to do that), but tragically, we have entered the age of climate consequences, and adaptation has become necessary. The climate outcomes that scientists have been warning us about for decades are here, now, everywhere, and getting worse every year. Climate instability is already causing widespread suffering, misery, displacement and migration, medical emergencies, and death. If people continue to accept and allow the burning of fossil fuels (and the degradation of our natural environment) going forward, we will get to where we are headed: we will turn our once quite habitable and hospitable Earth into an uninhabitable planet more like Mars. We are creating Hell on Earth.

Globally, this has been the hottest summer on record (which has included the hottest day, hottest week, and hottest month ever recorded)—and it’s not just because of El Niño. The last decade (which included years with a heat-tempering La Niña) has also been the hottest decade ever recorded. Unlike the “heat waves” of the past, we are now experiencing more frequent “heat domes” with unprecedented, sweltering, record-shattering daytime and night-time temperatures, across large swaths of the planet, lingering for longer periods of time. The air, land, oceans and most other water bodies are now hotter than ever, with devastating and cascading consequences for all living things.

When we’re extremely hot, it can be hard to move, hard to work, hard to think, hard to function, hard to cope, and sometimes even hard to stay alive. Heat typically kills more people than any other type of extreme weather event in the U.S.  The number of heat-related deaths is often greatly underestimated, as heat is not usually listed as the “cause of death,” even when heat is what precipitated the organ failure or heart attack or other final outcome. This study estimated that there are approximately 12,000 premature deaths from heat exposure in the U.S. each year, and it projected that that number will rise to 50,000-110,000 premature deaths per year due to increased warming. Another study found that heat killed approximately 61,000 people in Europe during the summer of 2022. Correspondingly, emergency room visits skyrocket during heat waves.

Our bodies (and the bodies of other living organisms) can only survive temperatures within a certain range. High humidity can make it even harder to withstand high temperatures (which is why weather reports typically include a “heat index” or might even talk about the “wet-bulb” temperature.) Air pollution also tends to worsen during periods of excessive heat, which makes heat waves even more deadly. Studies show that the risk of a fatal heart attack may double during heat wave days and fine particulate pollution days.

Prolonged exposure to excessive heat can cause heat cramps, heat rash, dehydration (note: severe dehydration requires immediate medical attention), heat exhaustion, and heat stroke (which also requires immediate medical attention and can be fatal). See the graphic above for tips on how to tell the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and what to do if someone is showing symptoms of these.

Those who are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of extreme heat include: homeless/unhoused people (and their pets), older people, people who work outdoors (e.g., farmworkers, landscapers, construction and road workers, etc.), people who work and/or live in non-air-conditioned spaces, people who live or work in urban areas or “heat island” zones (areas that have a lot of dark and unshaded surfaces, such as asphalt pavement and roofs, and relatively few trees or green spaces), people with pre-existing health conditions or disabilities, infants and young children, pregnant women, incarcerated people, first responders, and athletes, as well as livestock, pets, and wildlife.

Basic tips for survival, health, and greater comfort in high heat:

The following are immediate or short-term steps you can take to protect yourself and other living things during a period of extreme heat. (For preparations you can make before summer heat waves to keep your home/buildings cool, scroll down to the section near the end on “Design strategies, home/building improvements and investments.”)

  • Always stay well-hydrated (i.e., drink plenty of water throughout the day). Keep a water bottle with you wherever you go (but don’t leave plastic bottles in hot cars or sitting in the sun, where the heat will soften the plastic, which will then leach into your water). Also eat foods that are hydrating (e.g. fresh fruits, such as watermelon and cucumber). Avoid drinking alcohol or caffeinated or super-sugary drinks.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothing.
  • Avoid going out into the heat (or exercising, watering your garden, or driving) during the hottest parts of the day (afternoon through early evening). Cancel or reschedule activities as needed. Early morning is the coolest time of day.
  • If you’ve been sweating a lot, drink even more, eat something salty, and make sure you’re getting plenty of electrolytes (potassium, sodium, calcium) and other minerals and nutrients.
  • If you’re feeling too hot, wipe a cold, wet washcloth on your face and body and/or run cold water over your feet and hands or head; or put some water in a spray bottle and spritz yourself as needed; or when you can, take a cool shower or bath. Or you can sit in front of a fan with a cool, damp towel on you or between you and the fan. If someone is over-heating (e.g., showing signs of heat exhaustion), put cold water (or ice/ice water) on the neck, armpits, inner thighs, and other places where heat gets trapped and a lot of blood vessels are just beneath skin, to help cool down the person faster.
  • No one should be left sitting in a non-air-conditioned, stationary car when it’s hot out (especially infants, children, elderly people, and pets). Rolling the windows down does not keep cars cool enough when the sun is beating on them.
  • If you’re outdoors: Stay in the shade as much as possible, and drink extra water. Take regular breaks from any physical exertion, or avoid it if possible. If you have a hand free, use a parasol (or an umbrella) to shade yourself from the sun.
  • If you’re indoors and you don’t have air conditioning or your A/C isn’t working (or doesn’t work well enough in extreme heat)—or if you’re trying to minimize your use of the A/C to conserve energy or money or to keep the power grid from collapsing and causing a blackout: 1) Use fans (or evaporative “swamp” coolers in really dry climates); window fans can be especially helpful. 2) Cover your windows by closing the shades, blinds, curtains, or shutters. If you don’t have opaque or thermal window coverings, you could temporarily put up big sheets of cardboard (ideally white, and make the white side face the outside) or rigid foam/styrofoam—or hang thick blankets or light-colored tarps (or sheets) inside or outside your south- and west-facing windows (for those of us in the northern hemisphere) or your windows that get the most direct sunlight, to keep the heat/sun out. 3) If you have white (or reflective) tarps or old sheets, you could put those on the part of your roof that gets the most direct sun in the afternoons, or cover up part of your blacktop driveway, or cover your grill (or any other large metal or dark-colored objects near your home) with them (or a light-colored canvas carport or other shade structure) to reduce the heat island effect on or around your home. 4) Avoid running the oven, stove, dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer on the hottest days, and especially during the hottest hours of the day. 5) Turn off any lights that aren’t needed (especially any lamps that are still using old incandescent bulbs or halogen bulbs, as they emit a surprising amount of heat). Unplug appliances or electronics that you aren’t using. 6) Any time it’s cooler outdoors than in (which it often will be at night and early morning), open your windows to get a cross-breeze (and give your A/C a break); you could also use a window fan as an exhaust fan to help push the warmer indoor air outside. 7) It can be too hot to share a bed with someone else; if there’s nowhere else to sleep, you might find that sleeping on a floor is the coolest place to be. 8) If you have a basement, that is probably the coolest area in your house.
  • Make sure you have a lot of ice (and/or ice packs) in your freezer and/or coolers, especially in case there is a power outage and you need to use the ice to keep yourself cool until you can get to an air-conditioned space.
  • If your house is too hot and you’re able to go somewhere else near-by, spend some of the afternoon hours in air-conditioned spaces, such as a library, mall/store/cafe, movie theater, or community center.
  • Click here for additional ”Tips from readers on keeping cool without A/C” (NPR).
  • Check on your neighbors and friends, especially elderly or disabled people and people who don’t have air-conditioning (or who are experiencing a power outage). Make sure they are not showing signs of dehydration, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke (see graphic above). If you have air conditioning and a little extra space, invite others who don’t have A/C to come over to your house. Or let others borrow or keep any extra fans you may have.
  • Share information about local cooling centers that are open in your community or county. Print and post/distribute that information at homeless shelters and service centers, senior centers, soup kitchens, food banks, and libraries (and through social media and community websites, e.g., NextDoor). Find out if there are local Mutual Aid groups or others who are helping distribute water or assisting people in need. If your town does not provide a cooling center (or a mobile cooling bus), contact your Mayor or city council or local emergency services department to request one, or help find a location that could serve as one (e.g., community center, church, etc.).
  • You could leave some bottles/gallons of water in front of your house, in a fully shaded area, with a sign letting people know they can take one if they need it. And you could donate non-disposable (and disposable) water bottles (or clean gallon jugs with caps) to a local homeless shelter or organization.
  • On days/nights with particularly extreme heat, if you are able, you could offer to pay for (or you could crowd-fund) an air-conditioned motel room for a homeless person or family or for people who don’t have air conditioning. Or make a donation to a homeless/low-income services group that is assisting people in your area or in a region that is even hotter.
  • Scroll down to the section below on “Design strategies, home/building improvements and investments,” for suggestions on preparations you can make before summer to keep your home cool.

Animals

  • Pets: Do not make pets stay outside (or in a dog house) if it’s cooler in your house. When they must be outside, make sure they can remain in full shade and have plenty of water (you could even fill a small kiddie pool for them to sit in or drink from). Give them extra water indoors, as well. Do not walk dogs on artificial grass or on hot pavement (especially black asphalt, but on any pavement when it’s hot out); it will burn their paws. Do not leave pets unattended in your car without air conditioning running. Click here for information on hot weather safety (and signs of heat stroke) for pets. If you see someone else’s pet in distress or in danger, call 911 or your local Humane Society or ASPCA.
  • Livestock and horses: Give them plenty of water every day (making sure they never run out) and access to shaded and well-ventilated areas (with a good cross-breeze and if indoors, also fans, if possible). If they have no shade trees (or not enough to shade all of them throughout the afternoon without crowding) or a large-enough shade shelter outside, put up some type of shade canopies (e.g. canvas carports) for them. Hose them off with cool water when you can, or provide ice blocks for them to lick, or sprinklers, wading pools, or water misters when possible.
  • Wildlife: Put a bowl of clean water out daily for wildlife in your area (ideally in both your front and back yards); thoroughly wash the bowl out every day, if possible. I like to use a light-colored ceramic (or white plastic) bowl that won’t absorb much extra heat. (Note: Absurdly, many outdoor hoses have lead in them. Buy/use a lead-free hose, or get drinking water directly from a faucet.) Don’t set out deep buckets of water that tiny animals could fall into and not be able to climb out of. You can also leave fruit and vegetable scraps and other healthy food out for wildlife. And if there is no shade in your yard, you could put up a shade canopy/sail or make a temporary shade shelter (e.g., with old sheets or large cardboard boxes). Shade as much of your paved areas as you can to reduce the heat absorption on your property. If you see an animal in distress or in danger, contact your local wildlife rescue group.

Plants & Trees

  • Water plants at their base (near the roots) early in the morning. (On especially hot days, they might also need some water in the evening, but you generally shouldn’t soak plants too much before night-time.) Young or non-native trees (and new plants, planted within the last couple of years) especially will need regular watering during heat waves. Older, established trees may need some water every few days during heat waves.
  • Move potted (portable) plants to shadier areas or cooler areas, especially to protect them from the afternoon/western sun.
  • On especially hot/sunny days, you could put shade cloth (or a lightweight, white sheet) over the most vulnerable plants, or shade them with an umbrella, an easy-up canopy, or other portable shade structure.
  • Put a few inches of mulch (e.g., grass clippings, fallen leaves, wood mulch) around the base of plants (and place mulch several inches away from the base of trees). Do not buy peat.
  • Do not prune or fertilize plants on hot days.
  • Some plants will simply not be able to survive the increase in temperatures, and we’ll need to replace some plants with more drought- and heat-adapted plants over time.
  • Crops can benefit from having solar panels placed between rows for shading.
  • You can find lots of additional tips regarding how to protect plants and trees during heat by doing an online search.

———————————————–

Design strategies, home/building improvements and investments:

These are some design strategies and investments, which require some planning or preparation time to implement:

  • Put thermal/insulated window coverings on your windows (e.g., light-colored thermal “honeycomb” or “cellular” shades, “edge-sealed” shades, thick/lined drapes; or interior shutters), particularly on large, unshaded windows and west- and south-facing windows.
  • Add awnings, shutters, overhangs, exterior window shading screens, and/or shade trees outside of your home (particularly outside of west- and south-facing windows). Also plant trees next to dark, paved surfaces such as driveways and roads.
  • Make sure your home has enough insulation (especially in the attic and walls). This will also help you stay comfortable during cold periods.
  • Conventional air conditioners (especially old window units) use a lot of energy (and are therefore expensive to operate). And every time we use air conditioners to cool interior spaces, we’re heating the planet up even more. Much better air conditioning technologies now exist, and even better ones may be available soon. One option to consider is having a “heat pump” installed (also known as a ductless mini-split system; they provide both heating and cooling). These are much more efficient than traditional air conditioners, and there are tax incentives and rebates that you might be eligible for. Or in very dry climates, many people use evaporative “swamp” coolers rather than air conditioners. Whole-house attic fans can also help reduce the need for air conditioning. (Note: If you are replacing/getting rid of an old air conditioner, make sure that your HVAC company properly recovers and disposes of its refrigerants. A/C refrigerant emissions are a major contributor to global warming!)
  • When it’s time to replace your roof, choose light-colored roofing (and/or solar roofing tiles, or solar panels to shade the roof).
  • When you’re able to get new windows, choose windows that meet or exceed the Energy Star criteria (for your climate zone). They could be eligible for tax credits or rebates.
  • When it’s time to repave your driveway (or pathways), choose a light-colored paving material or pavers (rather than black asphalt paving), or better yet, replace some paved areas with light-colored pervious materials or vegetation. (Also ask your city to use light-colored—and ideally pervious—paving materials on city streets and parking lots.)
  • When choosing a car, in addition to choosing an electric or hybrid vehicle, choose one that’s a light color (e.g., white or silver) so it will not absorb as much heat.
  • Do NOT use artificial turf (fake grass). It becomes incredibly hot, even hotter than black asphalt, in the sun, and it can cause burns. Replace astroturf with native or adapted drought-tolerant plants, trees, groundcovers, or a clover lawn. Replace astroturf sports fields with real (but drought-tolerant) grass.
  • Solar photovoltaic panels can provide shade over roofs, pavement, and between rows of field crops.
  • Consider getting an electric battery backup system for your home; ideally, this would be tied into a solar photovoltaic (or wind turbine) system to keep your power (and cooling) on during extended power outages. You can also get an electric and/or solar generator to use during power outages (or off grid).
  • When designing any new home (or building), designers should incorporate passive cooling techniques. One ancient, passive cooling technique is the “wind catcher” design. And some building materials, such as rammed earth, have thermal properties that help keep homes cool in summer and warm in winter. Find other natural cooling strategies here.
  • Get light-colored shade structures/shelters (or canopies) for any large animals or livestock you have (or pets that have to spend hours outside) that will provide plenty of shade for all of them, without crowding. Also add shade trees to their outdoor areas. Look into water misting systems, sprinklers, or wading pools that you could add to their outdoor areas, and use fans, roof exhaust vents/fans, and open windows to ventilate their indoor areas.
  • Buy organically grown crops and plants (and native/drought-tolerant plants), which have been shown to have greater resilience to heat than chemically-grown (and many non-native) crops and plants. You could get a shade structure/canopy to place on your patio or deck or yard, to shade any potted/portable plants (and it could also shade your grill or other dark-colored or metal outdoor objects, or possibly shade part of your home/windows) from the sun on hot days.
  • There are SO MANY things we can all do (and our society, government, and industry must do) to try to stop global heating from getting worse. Please check out and commit yourself to some of our climate solutions in our other posts.

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Sign this petition:

Urge OSHA to implement immediate heat standards
(Note: These standards also must be enforced everywhere.)

Articles:

Useful resources on heat health/safety:

Related posts:

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July 27, 2023
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So much is at stake in the next election (climate, democracy, Rule of Law, voting rights, women’s personhood, health and reproductive rights, etc.). Please double-check to make sure you’re registered to vote (and your registration information is accurate and up to date), then vote (early—in person or by mail, if those are options where you are), and encourage and help others you know to vote—and to make sure they have the required type of ID—especially young or first-time voters or people who have moved. (If you vote by mail, read all instructions very carefully, sign where indicated, and make sure your signature is representative of your official signature so it should closely match the signature they have on file and is not likely to be rejected. Drop it off at an official drop-off location, or mail it in well before the deadline so it will arrive in time. Make sure you use adequate postage, if postage is required. Then check for verification that it was received and counted.)

Here is a listing of our most recent posts related to voting, elections, and democracy (in the United States):

Key voting resources/websites:

On Twitter, please follow these lists of key groups and experts:

and our lists that are specific to:

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October 17, 2022
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Just left our house at 4:30 AM under a mandatory evacuation order, in the pitch dark, with howling winds, apocalyptic smoke, and ash swirling all around us. I’m quite shaken. We’ll figure out a plan when the sun comes up.”

That was the note that I posted on my Facebook page on the morning of October 27, 2019, once my husband and I were able to pull over in a town further from the fire, where other evacuees were parked. Overnight, gale-force winds from the northeast had started pushing the Kincade Fire rapidly and directly towards our area. (Officials feared it might jump over Highway 101, as the highly destructive and uncontrollable Tubbs Fire had done two years before, when it rampaged across the city of Santa Rosa to the horror and amazement of firefighters and everyone else.) Less than half an hour before I posted that note, we had been awakened by an evacuation notification alert blaring on our mobile phones. I could barely keep my panic at bay as we rushed to load our van up with our blind cat, along with other irreplaceable items and essential supplies that we had been gathering up in bags near our front door over the past few days of evacuation warnings. Our faces were pelted by brittle, wind-driven needles from our parched but magnificent redwood trees, and we had only our headlights and phone flashlights for lighting as we carried our things out to the van. I had to make a conscious effort to keep myself from hyperventilating or bursting into tears as we got into the vehicle and drove away from our home. I was reluctant to look back at it, knowing that when we returned, it might be burned to the ground.

This was one of the most intense days of my life. We were able to stay with friends in another part of the county for four days, until the order was lifted, and we were fortunate to be able to come back to an intact home and neighborhood (because the winds had died down before the fire got to the highway or beyond), though our power remained out for our first day and night back and the house felt like a walk-in freezer. We didn’t know it at the time, but we were part of the largest evacuation ever in Sonoma County history.

Many of us who are residents of the western United States have been personally affected by worsening (more frequent and much bigger and hotter) wildfires and the ever-longer fire seasons that we’ve been experiencing these past 5-10 years. The regular Red Flag “fire weather” warnings, the explosive fires every year, nerve-wracking evacuations and evacuation warnings, hazardous and acrid-smelling smoke in the air (tiny particulates that get deep into your lungs and 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 and making the air quality worse than anywhere else on Earth, being surrounded by other-worldly burnt-orange skies that block out the sun, sooty ash (including tiny fragments of people’s books/homes/lives) covering every outdoor surface (requiring the use of windshield wipers to clear car windshields), extended power outages as well as Internet and cell tower outages, and other substantial disruptions to work and to life in general—these things have taken a real toll on millions of us, and will take a toll on millions more.

Many of us also know people who have lost their homes and their sense of security—and who became climate refugees, facing displacement, years of insurance headaches, 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 in the middle of 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 a hillside oak woodland paradise that felt like a sanctuary. That was an emotionally jarring experience, and it left an indelible mark on me, as did our own evacuation experience after that. And in the years before and after our evacuation, during other catastrophic fires in the region (including the one that destroyed our friends’ home), we were under evacuation warnings and had to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

In 2021, after many years of living in that beautiful but increasingly fire-imperiled and drought-stricken region, my husband and I moved to live near friends in a wetter region, which has less fire risk—less risk for now anyway, though I know conditions will continue to change and no place is safe from climate-related calamities. While not exactly wildfire refugees, we were essentially proactive climate migrants.

Ever-worsening climate destabilization is causing more extreme and prolonged heat and droughts, and thus creating vast areas of extremely dry vegetation: e.g., trees, shrubs, and grasses. And that is adversely changing the world’s fire ecology. In recent years, there have been 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/South America/Brazil (where fires are sometimes 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.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless in the face of the increasing number of wildfires fueled by dangerous climate conditions. But we are not helpless. When doing research on wildfire risk reduction (see the resource links below), 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 or managed burns, or “good fire”): a traditional, indigenous practice to reduce dry and dead vegetation and to safely mimic and manage what would occur naturally (if most wildfires hadn’t been suppressed over the last century).

I’ve been pleased to observe that, in some areas at least, prescribed fires have been happening more frequently, despite 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. (Of course, controlled burns must be done very carefully and in the correct season and weather conditions, to make sure they don’t burn out of control, beyond the intended boundaries.)

There are numerous actions we can take as a society, as communities, and as individuals and households to prevent or minimize further destruction:

  • Community-scale wildfire mitigation efforts include policies and practices for state, regional, local, and neighborhood-level land use and management of public and privately owned lands: e.g., prescribed fires/controlled burns, greenbelt buffers and Urban Growth Boundaries for the wildland-urban interface, forest management, 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 choices, vegetation management; home/building hardening and protection (design, building, remodeling, retrofitting); and indoor air ventilation and filtering strategies, 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

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 that I developed for the U.S. Green Building Council’s Redwood Empire Chapter in 2021). Also visit our Wildfire and Fire Ecology list on Twitter, which includes many of the above resources and others.

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Doing everything we can to prevent or manage the spread of wildfires and to protect people, animals, forests, and structures from wildfires and their 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, destabilized climate is the primary driver—the accelerant—of today’s catastrophic wildfires.

Related posts (which include some specific recommendations):

 

Note: This article is now also published on Resilience.org.

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April 27, 2022
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The past 10 years or so, 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 interconnected, existential threats: from the ongoing and ever-morphing COVID-19 pandemic, 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, 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. 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 and Long COVID: Important Facts and New Findings [NEW]

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 electric/induction stoves (and electric leaf blowers and mowers), 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, gleaning groups, 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

Groundswell: Building community power

Grid Alternatives‘ Energy for All program

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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