Green Sex for Climate’s Sake (Yes, Green Sex is a shade of green)
There is no single solution for climate change…but separating sex from childbearing represents an under appreciated opportunity to forestall climate disaster…for the climate, family planning’s potential benefits are profound.
Those are the words of my guest this week, Alisha Graves, who is the co-founder of the OASIS Initiative (a project of UC, Berkeley which focuses on reducing population growth and poverty in the Sahel region of Africa). Her recent article, “Green Sex for Climate’s Sake,” debates the link between carbon emissions and population, and the need to educate young women, as well as young men, about contraception, family planning and health. For more information go to: oasisinititative.berkeley.edu and projectdrawdown.org.
Looking up to the sky, I seem so small. “100 Billion Galaxies each with 100 Billion Stars,” said Carl Sagan in the Cosmos episode 7, “The Backbone of Night.”
The power of his message grew with the rise of his own star. Today, many stars lend their voice to our star, planet earth, in hopes of fixing the mess we find ourselves in.
That smallness continues as the dawn breaks, I look around, and wonder how we can do anything to create change. We’re choking on plastic, dumping toxins in rivers, and spewing harmful gasses into the atmosphere. This is just the short list. Again, I look to the stars.
There are a lot of people doing important, tough work for our environment. I’d have to Google their names though because I can’t remember them. The moment a star, a film or literary or political star, begins talking about the environment – that I remember. I sit up and listen, or at least pause, when a star speaks about the work we need to do concerning the environment.
The reality is, a familiar face brings attention to the issue. Leonard DiCapprio spoke to the Pope about the environment. He has his own foundation called, The Leonard DiCapprio Foundation, dedicated to protecting the world’s last wild places. Julia Roberts is Mother Nature in a gorgeous, short video, “Nature is Speaking.”
Woody Harrelson hosts “Ethos,” a documentary looking “into the flaws in our systems, and the mechanisms that work against democracy, our environment and the common good.” Jeff Bridges narrates the video for the Plastic Pollution Coalition, “Open Your Eyes.”
Either I am starry-eyed or I am truly hearing the important message these spokespersons relate. After I saw the video narrated by Jeff Bridges, I felt nauseas at all the plastic I used. And I consider myself an aware person. Though the practice could seem cliché, I see a twinkle of light and hope as perhaps the message breaks through the atmosphere or our messy minds for just a moment. And funny, after hanging with Julia, Leonardo, Woody, Jeff, and even Carl, I feel like a bit of a bigger star. I feel inspired to do more, to and to help, even if it is the smallest of things.
“The main purpose of this piece is to bring to light the many animal extinctions taking place on Earth.”
First, the authors set the scene by describing Earth’s relationship with the universe and then illustrating the history of life on Earth, dating back to one billion years ago. They provide a brief history of humans (Homo sapiens), which especially focuses on the different industrialization eras that took place around the world. Eventually, the book catches up to the present as they contemplate the extinction of modern animals. After spending much time analyzing the extinction of many birds and mammals, the autho
rs discuss the significance of these extinctions. The main purpose of this piece is to bring to light the many animal extinctions taking place on Earth. A handful of solutions are proposed in the final pages of the book.
Several different literary (as well as visual) techniques were used throughout the book, some good, others less effective. Most notably, there were over one hundred photos of wildlife included in the book. The pictures carried great significance and made the text more powerful. However, the few pages that were without any photos were nearly unbearable, as the large chunks of text were quite overwhelming. Even so, the book included important facts on animal extinction when necessary, which proved to be effective. Furthermore, the description of wildlife tragedies were especially influential For example: In [the whale’s] stomach it had a golf ball, surgical gloves, duct tape, miscellaneous plastic fragments, a pair of sweatpants, and twenty plastic bags, among other trash. Plastic cannot be digested and simply clogs the gut, causing death not directly but indirectly, through starvation and disease.” (83) This graphic description leaves readers with a vivid, powerful image and a lasting impression. On another note, I began to notice awkward wording in a handful of instances. For example, the author refers to the Bonobo species as “our sexy living relatives.” Additionally, sometimes the authors seemed to demonize the human race as a whole, rather than pointing out a specific group responsible for poor environmentally sound decisions. Ultimately, the authors make powerful use of certain techniques to illustrate the sad stories of extinction throughout history.
This piece was certainly successful in providing readers with an above average understanding of bird and mammal extinction. I learned many different things, ranging from the importance of biodiversity in the Amazon rainforest to the illegal hunting of elephants for the ivory trade. The use of photography amidst well-written, evocative text throughout the book created an inviting environment to learn and sympathize.
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
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
Can we feed the world without wrecking it? Are we farming ourselves out of food? My guest, Joel K. Bourne Jr. and I delve into those questions on this week’s show. Joel’s new book, THE END OF PLENTY: The Race to Feed a Crowded World, discusses the world food crisis, as it relates to population increase and environmental concerns. Farm land is becoming decimated, as water shortages are spreading globally, thus reducing growth of crops needed to feed the populace. Political unrest and revolutions have occurred in various hot spots around the world, as wheat crops have failed, which has lead to tightening grain supplies. Lives are lost as fights break out over bread. Will 3D printing of food save us? Probably not, but there is hope, as farmers are using innovations in food irrigation, as well as conservation methods to solve some of the problems. A new land ethic must be put into place to feed the world. For more information go to joelkbournejr.com and amazon.com for his book, THE END OF PLENTY.