This week’s episode of 50 Shades of Green Divas/The Many Shades of Green is our holiday special, and it features Joy Rose, founder of the Museum of Motherhood, the Mamapalooza Festival, the Moms Who Rock movement, and music from the band Housewives on Prozac. Green Diva Meg and I bring you holiday cheer, a tune from The Tokens, and some post election thoughts. We discuss the importance of raising one’s voice to be proactive, so that we can help mend the divisions within our nation. So have a Merry, Merry and a Happy 2017! For more info go to mommuseum.org, thetokens.com, thegreendivas.com and themanyshadesofgreen.com. Wishing everyone Peace, Love and Understanding……
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.
By Susan Lutz
Warming up to these 2016 Olympics took awhile. All the reports of the toxic water, Zika threats, and displacement of people from their homes made the Summer Olympics seem superfluous – an extra we might be able to live without or at the very least change?
But the games began. I’ve plopped in front of the television so many times over the years to watch the athletic phenoms, it felt odd to ignore it. The hype is hard to ignore. With kids, I grapple how we can understand what the tradition these games are, yet bring in a balance of the very real costs to the environment and world it can cause.
From the nightly news to social media, reporters highlight the trash in the water or the post a picture of the protests in the street. I want to cheer them on, stand up and do a fist pump when a swimmer gets another gold, and marvel over the mind-boggling gymnasts. Yet the images of cost both environmentally and socially linger in my consciousness while I watch. The hour broadcast delay also adds to the disconnection the larger powers have with the people who play and support the athletes.
Because it is about the athletes, the coming together of nations for a few weeks, in the hopes of putting down hostilities and instead playing some hoops (and all other games). As an athlete that competed at the collegiate and national level, I found inner strength, trained to break barriers (especially my own), and came together day after day with teammates for the purpose of a higher goal. That feeling in the gut, from throwing that pitch, making that shot, nailing that dive, or winning that sprint, those moments represent a long path of people working together and can translate to a deep connection to others. I see it when my son takes a shot in soccer or gets back out there after falling down – he’s rallied around, supported, and finds a strength to continue on. I truly believe these skills help him in his daily challenges.
Yet, we can’t play our games and shoot down others in the process. When the Olympics leave Rio, how will the country change? How will we change? What will happen to the neighborhood once the torch is extinguished? So many Olympic villages rode into town and left behind an empty land. What will we do differently before the next summer – and winter – Olympics return? Maybe it’s time to have one permanent spot for the Olympics. Or a guaranteed plan that the immense building that takes place due to the creation of the Olympic village has a useful, environmentally effective, re-purposed to move a city, state, and its people forward.
I’ve also lived in a country where the site of trash in the waters and along the road was tough to stomach, sometimes literally. Shaming a country from our the screens of our phones casts a quick judgment on the deep challenges a society faces from budget to resources to societal norms. We can embrace the change and ignite other nations by working at change in our homes and villages.
I’m still drawn in by the bottom line of the Olympics. I tell both stories to my children, the challenges and the successes, with the hopes of opening their awareness to the cause and effect we have on our world. I am not sure the world today is better or worse with the Olympics. The cost seems awfully high, but it won’t disappear in the next years. Cities will bid for the right to host until we all decide to change. The Olympics, like us all, are in a process of growth. What I hope is that looks to the future with an eye for making the world better for us all.
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
With the agreement of a landmark accord reached between 196 nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and commit to truly working towards change, the planet has a chance to survive. We have a shot at making it.
Something happened when I heard the news of the accord. I didn’t rush to look up all the details of the agreement. Instead of wondering about the facts, I felt a sense of peace. It was as if what we do on the local level and in our homes really does matter. When nations all over the globe decided to finally get to work on these issues, get our priorities straightened out, and look the problem in the eye, it made the daily tasks I do in my home actually feel like they make a difference.
If the nations had fought to no avail, looked the other way, or ignored the problem, and gone home without an agreement, I think all of us would have felt a little differently. Perhaps in a subtle way, we might have stopped working so hard. We might have lost hope. It is hard to fight such a large battle without the unity of nations and without leadership at the highest levels.
Now, I can look again at my habits that help curb waste, lower greenhouse gases, and bring stability and life into our existence. Sorting out trash and recycling, and using that glass bottle over and over again, doesn’t seem like wasted effort. Taking the bus or carpooling feels like a good choice. Buying less stuff finally feels like it adds up to a real solution.
With acknowledgement at the highest levels, we can now look optimistically towards our future. It’s time to look into new ways to lower my impact on the planet. None of this change is easy, but we’ve spent too much time taking the easy way out. There’s something we can do every day to change things for the better.
Now that the big players are part of the game, we have a chance at winning.
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
How compassionate is the New York State Compassionate Care Act of 2014 legalizing the use of medical marijuana? My guest this week, New York State Senator Liz Krueger, a lead advocate for legalizing marijuana for both medicinal and also for recreational use, gives us some insight into the pros and cons of the current bill, and why it needs to be enhanced to allow coverage for more diseases. Senator Krueger has also sponsored the Fossil Fuel Divestment Act to limit the investment in oil and gas stocks in NYS pension funds. For more information go to: nysenate.gov/senators/Liz-Kruger or send a tweet @LizKrueger