The boys are back in town, as my Token Bros Phil and Mitch Margo join me this week, to discuss the greening of the music industry. Are music venues being more eco-conscious, and are musical artists doing more to promote environmental issues? Both Phil and Mitch drive hybrid/electric cars, reuse and recycle, are doing their part to be more sustainable on a daily basis. Is the peaceful village in The Token’s famous song, The Lion Sleeps Tonight, powered by solar yet? For more information, visit thetokens.com.
It is no secret that mainstream media coverage of environmental issues is slow-moving, and many stories go un-reported in the press. Climate change deniers spout their ideology with reckless abandon. Enter my guest this week, Andrew Nikiforuk, an award winning environmental writer based in Calgary, Canada, who has written a new book about the hydraulic fracturing industry entitled Slick Water: Fracking and One Insider’s Stand Against the World’s Most Powerful Industry. The book traces the saga of Jessica Ernst, and the path she takes to hold Encana Oil and Canada’s environmental government agencies, responsible for secretly fracking hundreds of gas wells around her home, in a rural area northeast of Calgary. A cover-up ensues, which leads Ms. Ernst to take legal action against the various parties for their role in contaminating land, water and air in her community. For more information andrewnikiforuk.com and to amazon.com to check out his new and older works.
By Susan Lutz
Over the past weeks and months, ideas that began at the grassroots movements finally found movement forward in actions by governments and organizations. As consumers who are opening our eyes, becoming more aware, and utilizing our voices to take action, let’s take a moment to absorb the success and change that has happened so far. Here are a few of the big ones:
1. Microbeads Banned – Those tiny microbeads clogging up the waterways and reeking havoc on the ecosystem were finally banned by the U.S. government. The President signed the bill in late December:
“H.R. 1321, the “Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015,” which prohibits the manufacture and introduction into interstate commerce of rinse-off cosmetics containing intentionally-added plastic microbeads…”
2. FDA Issues New Safety Rules: Strides were made with the new FDA standards for farmers. Some farms will be able to coordinate efforts – a victory seen for small farmers and the reality of modern day food growers. Food safety plans must be implemented, and again, smaller farmers will be given the ability to provide smaller plans, a much more realistic goal.
3. France Bars Big Supermarkets from Throwing Out Food: Legislation in France is banning large supermarket chains from throwing out food and is instead enforcing food donations to local charities. Though not the answer to the seed level issue, the act provides some relief to the problem of food shortages and food waste in the country – something to watch and learn from and a good model for other countries.
4. United States Fish and Wildlife Reclassifies Hunting: The USFW put out a report in December 2015 concerning the classification of animals as endangered. Lions in West and Central Africa will now be considered “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act. Lions from other parts of Africa, such as in the south and east, will be regarded as threatened. What does this mean for trophy hunters? For one thing, importing lion body parts will be prohibited. And this is a huge part of the bragging rights of a trophy hunter. The effects these changes have on the population and treatment of lions will need to be monitored. Yet, perhaps it’s a step in awareness plus…
As we roll into 2016, what more can we do? Banning microbeads is important, but yet again, at the seed level how was this allowed in the first place? Without question, there will be so much to watch for in the coming year.
This weeks episode takes us to the Global Women’s Climate Justice Day of Action at the UN, sponsored by the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN). This event was attended by women from over 50 countries. To have such a collection of amazing women in one place, who presented stories of courage and resilience in combating climate change was deeply touching. Women play a key role in adapting solutions to climate change, and it was an honor to speak with WECAN founder Osprey Lake, environmentalist visionary Sally Ranney, as well as Neha Misra founder of Solar Sister, Harriet Shugarman Executive Director of ClimateMama, Executive Director of CELF Katie Ginsberg and student Coreena, and Patricia Gualinga-Montalvo, Indigenous Leader of Ecuador, whose interview was translated by Amazon Watch’s Executive Director Leila Salazar-López. For more information visit wecaninternational.org
By Susan Lutz
Forests are dying. Polar bears starving, ice caps shrinking. The list grows. We’ve spent a lifetime stomping on the planet and now world leaders gather in the hopes of finding a solution before we hit the tipping point. Can we pull back? Can we save ourselves?
I read positive stories: a community garden in Haiti becomes a center of growth and revitalization; the price of solar power is dropping fast and becoming an extremely viable alternative energy source; climate adapted strategies are manifesting and working to stabilize wildlife. Around towns, I see trees being planted, youth conversing about important issues. This is great. And there are many more examples of success and ideas which are moving us forward.
Yet, I read bad news, too: the UK starts to cut millions of dollars from its renewable resources; the threat of disease increases due to insects gaining the ability to live longer and travel farther; the sea level is rising; and of course, we’ve all seen the pictures of the polar bears starving. Some days, it’s hard to read the news. Some days it does seem like we’re just going to tip over and sink.
I recently heard a lecture on the cause and effect of our actions and the impact our choices have on climate change. The most interesting, and most powerful, I thought, was this: What are we willing to give up? In this country, the majority of cars during rush hour consist of single drivers. Bottled water and soda fill our vending machines, and we don’t give a second thought to the short pleasure we get versus the amount of toxins in each bottle. We like our stuff. We like our creams, cars, deals online, new phones, and processed, over-packaged foods.
The summit on climate change brings together world leaders. The model of coming together to talk; understanding our differences; taking note of those suffering the most; and, moving forward with dialogue. Regardless of how difficult the task is, it is one we must implement from the highest of offices to the grass-roots level.
We wait too long to act. We wait to change gun laws until terror steps into our cafes (if even then). We wait to ban trophy hunting and poaching and watch as species become threatened and face habitat loss and even become extinct. We’re slowly melting under the take-the-money-and-run philosophy of getting what we need, now, and forgetting how it will hurt us in the future.
When my son picked up an acorn the other day, he thought it was the grandest of discoveries. I held it up and told him it was amazing. We carried it with us as if it were a piece of gold. Our food supply, our land, our water – they truly are gold. We must realize this now, or we will watch as the world melts and slowly slips away.
“Between its celebrations of privilege, and the angst of its reckonings, human life gathers unto itself a chaos of contradictions… If we are ceaseless tamperers, we are also from time to time unobtrusive, Though we shout, so may we whisper.” (Michael Charles Tobias, quote from his work, After Eden: History, Ecology and Conscience) My guest this week is Michael C. Tobias, President of Dancing Star Foundation, who is a global ecologist, humanitarian, explorer, author, filmmaker, educator and animal rights activist. 195 nations are set to converge in Paris, a city recently struck by incomprehensible acts of terrorism, for the COP 21 (Conference of Parties), with the hopes of reaching an agreement to to set limits on carbon emissions to reduce the detrimental effects of global warming. Rich and poor nations must gather to form partnerships to be agents of change, rather than agents of destruction. Negative ideology has to be redirected, and ethics, compassion and morality, along with science and technology must lead the way to solutions. For more information go to www.dancingstarfoundation.org
By Susan Lutz
Hope seems lost. So often headlines tumble us backwards, forgetting that hope exists. But all is not lost. I found hope, and more, in these stories, these people, and these communities – each bringing rejuvenation to our environment and its communities. Moreover, it’s not just hope that these stories project. Within the actions and hearts of the people in these stories, a deep certainty resides in their power to change not only life for themselves but for others.
- Taking Back Detroit Neighborhoods with the Power of Organic and Community – Urban depression runs through many areas of large cities. Abandoned homes often represent a dark picture of an impossible task: how to bring life back to once vital areas. This Detroit neighborhood is taking back its homes and its community by using YouTube, gardening, and the support of each other to revitalize and reclaim a neighborhood.
- Planting Trees as a Mission – This 103-year-old woman Karnataka has planted not just one, two, or even 100 trees. Saalumarada Thimmakka, from India, has for the last 50 years planted over 400 banyan trees. But that’s not all. She also fights to get a hospital in her community.
- Urban Garden in the Heart of NYC – In a place least expected, the Urban Garden Center sprouted, providing fresh natural food and serving the community through gatherings and education. The Urban Garden Center has forged on, despite many obstacles. Their location houses a two-block stretch of city concrete under part of the railway system. What they do inspires others to bring the beauty and revitalization of greens into city living.
- Empowerment through Fair Trade – The success of companies will no longer be measured in dollars only. Perhaps that never was true success. Some companies achieve empowerment for their community and themselves by giving back. Alaffia is a company in Togo, Africa with a mission to invest in the community. They state that their goal is to end poverty and foster gender equality. They work on things such as educational projects, maternal health, and reforestation, to name a few.
Connecting with the community, demonstrating an organic lifestyle, and helping others through cooperation with the environment, brings forth prosperity, perhaps slowly, but surely. As the large corporations struggle with profits, they now look to the little – though giants in heart – as models for the future. The power of their certainty plants seeds of true change that will benefit all.