There are devastating fires happening in the Amazon Rainforest right now. Many of these fires have been started by farmers who want to encroach on the land that rightfully and largely belongs to Indigenous peoples. This is happening at a time when we are already teetering on the brink of global catastrophe due to the climate crisis (which is due to the destruction and ongoing harmful practices related to corporate agriculture, fossil fuels, and lax standards for sustainability and preservation of ecosystems and biodiversity).
Some started a hashtag today on Twitter to “pray for the Amazon”. Others immediately responded with a trending hashtag: #ActForTheAmazon. We must act. Prayers are not enough. Many are wondering why there is not an outpouring from billionaires to put the fires out, and establish greater protections for the Indigenous there, as well as the precious habitat and species that are unique to the Amazon — like there was when Notre Dame was on fire. Where are the billionaires now? This is a logical question that reveals the ugly mechanisms of systemic colonialism. To look at this further, here are some informed and responsible social media posts from the last couple days:
I share these posts, because they are coming from a place of informed integrity. They are also providing and encouraging action steps in the face of yet another devastating emergency that could leave people feeling depressed and helpless otherwise.
It is so important to keep in mind that we need to, as much as possible, provide action steps with posts that share emergency and dire situations, such as this. We cannot always do something directly, but there are many ways to effect ongoing change. We can do this through our political actions, choices, petitions, and voting. We can do this through the organizations we uphold and donate to. We can do this through our diets and daily choices, as I speak so often about here.
The Amazon is 20% of the world’s lung capacity right now, and so, this is real devastation when we are already being devastated by lack of action for environment, health, and future…when the US president is rolling back protections for endangered species, air, and water in every direction. More than that, we are losing species unique and precious to this planet due to the putrid greed and violence of industries that objectify and waste life. Not to mention the suffering of factory farmed animals fueling a lot of this greed. This is quite serious in a time of emergency upon emergency. So, please, take the following actions:
Divest from agriculture, logging, and cattle ranching that is participating in destruction and genocide.
Support Indigenous peoples around the world via social media, via organizations, and political action.
See my Resources page for more links to organizations and groups working to protect environment, animals, and people.
If you have other action steps and ideas, and important information not mentioned here, please comment. I am still learning about all the dynamics of this situation, and am doing my best to share accurate and timely information. I appreciate your understanding, and your willingness to learn and do more. Thank you!
I have two very important things to share with you today. The first is a quick call to action by signing a petition (started by Center for Biological Diversity) to the EPA asking for new rules for plastic manufacturing facilities and their impact of devastation pollution in our water and ocean. All pertinent facts are included in the introduction and petition itself. It is known that big plastic producers intend to increase plastic production in the next ten years.
Add your voice to this important movement, and share:
Second, there is a stirring video out by Extinction Rebellion, and presented by Harrison Ford that is everything to me right now. If you watch one thing this week, watch this video, embedded below. If, for some reason you cannot watch the video, there are subtitles, or, I have the transcript of the video below. However, the images and the passion and tenor of Mr. Ford’s voice is not to be missed. He/they speak for my heart and soul at this time.
“If We Don’t Protect Nature We Can’t Protect Ourselves”
by Harrison Ford and Extinction Rebellion, published July 26, 2019
“You are here, I’m here, because we care, not just for today, but we care passionately for the future. We know that we only have the possibility of avoiding a looming climate catastrophe if people like us refuse to give up. The future of humanity is at stake. While you work to meet the challenge of climate change, I beg of you: don’t forget nature. The destruction of nature accounts for more global emissions than all the cars and trucks in the world. We can put solar panels on every house and turn every car into an electric vehicle, but as long as Sumatra burns, we will have failed. So long as the Amazon’s great forests are slashed and burned, so long as the protected lands of tribal/Indigenous people are allowed to be encroached upon, so long as wetlands and bog peats are destroyed — our climate goals will remain out of reach, and we will be shit out of time. If we don’t stop the destruction of our natural world, nothing else will matter. Why? Because protecting and restoring forests, mangroves, wetlands — these huge dense carbon sinks — represent at least 30% of what needs to be done to avoid catastrophic warming. It is, at this time, the only feasible solution for absorbing carbon on a global scale. Simply put — if we don’t protect nature, we can’t protect ourselves. This is what we need to do — we need to: include nature in every corporate, state, and national climate goal; put in place the plans, the timetables to meet those goals; invest in mangroves and tropical forests; in the same way, invest in renewable energy; work to end the destruction of these ecosystems, and commit in the next decade, to secure them for the future; pursue research in reforestation, like we pursue research in carbon capture and storage; set a goal to cut costs and increase scale dramatically; empower Indigenous communities to use their knowledge, history, imaginations, our science, to save their heritage and lands — respect and ensure their rights. Stop, for god’s sake, the denigration of science. Stop giving power to people who don’t believe in science — or worse than that, pretend they don’t believe in science for their own self-interest. They know who they are; we know who they are. We are all — rich or poor, powerful or powerless — we will all suffer the effects of climate change and ecosystem destruction. We are facing what is quickly becoming the greatest moral crisis of our time — that those least responsible, will bear the greatest costs. So never forget who you’re fighting for — it’s the fishermen in Colombia, the fishermen in Somalia — who wonder where their next catch is coming from and why the government can’t protect them from factory fishing from across the world. It’s the mother in the Philippines who’s worried that the next big storm is going to rip her infant out of her arms. People on the East Coast are facing the worst storms in recorded history. It’s our own country, our own community, our own families. This is the core truth: if we are to survive on this planet, the only home any of us will ever know, for our climate, for our security, for our future — we need nature. Now, more than ever. Nature doesn’t need people, people need nature. Let’s turn off our phones. Let’s roll up our sleeves and let’s kick this monster’s ass.
Harrison Ford and Extinction Rebellion, Jul 26, 2019 (transcript for the video, embedded above)
Whether you are just starting out or not, and even though it is about mid-month already — it is never too late to join in on “Plastic Free July”!
Movements like this help to spread awareness, and motivate each of us to do more in response to the crisis of plastic pollution negatively affecting ecosystems; land, water, countless species, and our bodies.
As for me, I have been dealing with a bit of burnout when it comes to facing our environmental and climate emergency. The amount of loss and destruction involved is hard to deal with day in and day out. I have been turning to and leaning on my creativity and spirituality especially at this time, while processing grief and pain associated with our current crisis and reality, which includes a terrible increase in suffering of various life forms, including, but not only, humans. Taking a break from this platform and focus on sustainable living (and all the systemic, connected issues) from time to time is essential for me. At the same time, I am still here and keeping on.
In the past month I have been feeling a new grief. In the past month, I have only seen three bees. Where there would normally be plenty of bees upon flowers, there have been none. About ten years ago, I had noticed a decline in area bees pollinating flowers. Yet, in that time, there have still been bees. This year, they are absent. I am open to this changing for the better. Still, I know that the prolonged and severe winter we experienced caused a lot of hardship. Perhaps the area bees were hit hard. The winter before this last one, it was a very dry winter and cold, then ended with very late snow. That Spring many robins were dying en masse due to the snow and lack of food at a critical time. That summer revealed that many plants and trees were beyond stressed by that winter. My lavender, plum tree, and most of the cherry tree died.
After this last winter, we have had plenty of rain and moisture through the winter. Plants are thriving. And bees are sorely missing. There is a certain heartache to realizing loss and suffering on the grand scale on our planet. This is a part of it.
Meanwhile, I came across an article today that I think can be extremely helpful at this time. The article is: “12 excuses for climate inaction and how to refute them. Using moral clarity to counter defeatism around climate crisis,” by Eliza Barclay and Jag Bhalla (Vox.com, May 24, 2019). I am going to summarize the main points in the form of shorthand notes from the article here, in order to highlight the core thoughts, and to add my thoughts to some of it. In the article, the twelve excuses are something like this:
Talk of human extinction is alarmist
It is too late to prevent a catastrophe
The situation is extremely depressing
It is impossible to escape fossil fuels
One person’s choices probably don’t matter
I have a right to enjoy meat and air travel
Rich and powerful people are at fault, not me
I want one easy thing to do
Our political system is broken and bought out by special interests
Change is too expensive and will harm the economy
“Zero sum” mistakes
Inventions and technological advancements will rescue us
My holistic approach to sustainable living in Recipe For A Green Life addresses every one of these excuses in many different ways: activism, spiritual and emotional self-care, logic, facts, troubleshooting, pep talks, needed perspective, recipes, stories, etc. In my book, some of these are addressed as emotional challenges, some as common pitfalls, and others as realities that block us, which we can find our way around (in some way or another) in order to keep cultivating a sustainable lifestyle on all fronts, and for the long haul. Nevertheless, I appreciate the responses provided in the article, and also, how Greta Thunberg’s work and pivotal quotes were used to highlight and support the direction for “moral clarity.”
The answers to these excuses, from the article’s authors, go something like this:
The consequences we face are real and scientifically verified.
While the consequences we face are real, we can act now to mitigate and prevent ever-increasing levels of disaster. It is not too late to act.
We have a duty and moral impetus to face the pain and loss and disasters, and to act. We can minimize damage and suffering through our commitment to act.
Much like the Civil War and the battle to eradicate slavery, we face a challenge to overcome the immorality of oil companies and special interests that promote destruction and harm.
We all play a part and have impact. Demand for things impacts everyone. Altering our choices can alter the future, with a tipping point of collective actions for the better.
Exploitation and over-consumption is “collective suicide and ecocide”. Many times in the past, ancestors and other benefactors deprived themselves for the betterment of their progeny, and out of respect for the sacredness of life and nature.
This is true. And, those of us living an average modern life do consume too much, especially fossil fuel derived single-use items. In addition, many individuals have power and privilege that needs to be utilized, in order to help change things for the better.
That is the kind of thinking that perpetuates our systemic problems and crisis. It isn’t easy. It is not a one action cure.
This is true, but we must work to change our politics “or face catastrophe”.
The article provides this quote by Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt: “it’s cheaper, and will do less damage to the economy, to let the Nazis win.” It is a good quote. Numbers used by economists are inaccurate and will be “meaningless in a climate-crashed world.”
Economists use abstractions and do not work around a model of true sustainability, or with the mindset that understands that resources are finite. Excess consumption degrades and reduces resources. “”Win-win” growth often hides a very dark logic.” For example, “it means that poverty can only be reduced if the rich make money from it.”
Invention that solves the entire emergency before us is unlikely, and a dangerous gamble to depend on. We have to change our pattern of consumption.
The biggest part for me right now is feeling the need to grieve, and connect to issues from a more spiritual dimension, utilizing my creative abilities over at WildClover.org. Good news is, while I grieve and take time out, I am still acting daily, and mindful of my daily choices and habits. I still make time for political action. Taking action, many kinds (creative, practical, spiritual and political) actually helps to alleviate grief, and gives practical expression to the need to make a difference.
What I really like about the Vox article’s responses is the perspective. It is true that we are in battle. It is true that it is as dire as fighting Nazis in WWII was, and as fighting to end slavery during the Civil War was. In addition, we don’t let ourselves or anyone else off the hook because: there is still time to improve the situation, each person plays a part and can make a difference, and we aren’t going to believe the lies of economists and fossil fuel moguls.
In addition to all of this, there is a need to make space in life to breathe, to dream, and to connect with nature, not just to ground and center ourselves, but to reach out to nature and the beings there, to see how we can be of help and comfort to it and them. Moreover, we need to understand that all that we may have depended on as “normal” and “stable” is no longer a wise or moral pathway for the future.
Lastly, the charge that we must change our politics is a big one, and it is already happening in many ways, but it is a knock down, drag out, dirty fight for this particular shift. Still, it can happen. Everyone has to get on board. The other half is activism through daily habits, choices, networking, and movements on all levels: personal, local, regional, national and global.
Starving marine life, and everything you need to know about sustainable seafood — if there is such a thing anymore…
CS Sherin, April 29, 2019
There are devastating impacts from overfishing and farmed fish upon wildlife and our marine ecosystems. As we look at these issues, keep in mind that overfishing and factory fish farms (aquaculture) make all the other problems even more stressful and devastating. Sadly, the beautiful ocean of this Earth has become an extremely stressful home for marine life.
While humans may not live in the ocean, our lives depend upon the ocean as well. If the ocean life cannot survive, we won’t be able to either. Seeing all life on the planet as connected and interdependent, as family, is the most accurate viewpoint, when it comes to seeking a healthy future for everyone.
The April 2019 report from Changing Markets on Aquaculture addresses many of the critical issues we now face. Their graphic above contains the following information:
the ocean is sick and severely depleted
overfishing, along with climate change, demand, and pollution (sound, plastic, chemicals, fabrics, waste) are destroying the ocean’s ecosystems
billions of wild fish and crustaceans are used to feed farmed seafood
aquaculture is the fastest growing food production sector
overfishing takes food and livelihood away from the poor who are in countries without food security
the wild fish taken to create fish meal and fish oil (“forage fish”) are key to the food chain, including: plankton, fish, marine animals, and seabirds
the main forage fish within the food chain are: anchovy, sardine, herring, mackerel, and krill
Some carnivore species rely on just one species of food in order to survive, like the orca pod that is starving, in the NW Pacific, who depend on endangered Chinook salmon. It may seem strange, but it is really no different than the monarch caterpillar whose sole food source is milkweed (which is scarce due to heavy use of pesticides in the Midwest). Another example, breeding penguins rely on anchovies off the coast of South Africa. When the anchovies are not there, then babies cannot be born or are weak and may not survive. In South Africa, a ban was placed on catching “forage fish” like sardines and anchovies to help the endangered penguins. Evidence shows that bans like this help the penguins. Forage fish numbers can mean life or death for marine life.
The good news is: we can take steps to speak out against policies and practices that contribute to this kind of overwhelming devastation, and resulting starvation for marine life. It isn’t too late to take a stand with voice, choice, and actions. It is best to start at home, with our own lifestyle — and that goes hand in hand with political action. We can change our demand for food, while we support political and business leadership that upholds what is most ethical and sustainable.
Heartbreaking Impacts: Starving Marine Life
In just the past year or so, if you search the internet for news about overfishing and the impacts of aquaculture, you will find report after report about all kinds of wildlife that are starving to death, with little to no help on the way — like seabirds of all kinds, whales, orcas, dolphins, and sea lions:
These reports are not easy to read, yet it is important that we read them. If we turn away from the difficult news, just because we feel small and helpless about it, or too tender, we will not have the awareness that is necessary in order to make informed decisions. When we are aware of the problems we face, then we are able to respond to them more appropriately and effectively. And, certainly, people are becoming aware, and things are being done — but there is not enough momentum yet, and too much suffering is continuing.
Just this week, I wrote about the ethical issues involved with the Native American Lummi tribe’s call to feed the starving orcas in the bay of Seattle and Bellingham Washington. I do support their call to feed the orcas now. The fact is, aquaculture (factory fish farms) monopolize much of the food that would be in the ocean for our fellow living beings, like the orcas. We need to re-direct what is happening. There is a need to respond to starvation (whether they are human or birds, mammals or other sorts of living beings) by providing food.
Still, we are dealing with difficult problems. Feeding those who are starving leads to heart-breaking questions about a means for survival after the starvation is alleviated — because of other ongoing problems like pollution and ocean warming.
The stark truth is that the starvation tragedies occurring worldwide are due to: loss of habitat, pollution (like plastics and chemicals), loss of food sources due to overfishing and farmed fisheries, ocean warming, and climate change. It would be foolish to think that none of this will affect us humans. What happens to wildlife and nature is surely happening to us as well. However, we can still act to change some parts of this. But first, let’s learn more about the issues of aquaculture and sustainable seafood.
The Problems Of Aquaculture
Farming fish is meant to take the stress off of the oceans, provide a way to supply more sustainable seafood, and give us healthier alternatives to other meats. Instead, farmed fish and aquaculture has not decreased the demand for wild seafood, nor has it decreased the stress on ocean wildlife and fishes.
Why is this? Fish farms need to feed their fish, and that requires huge amounts of wild fish to be taken from the ocean, slaughtered, and turned into feed. In addition, almost all fish farms are filled with wild fish at the start. On top of that, the way in which fish farms are managed is for profit and expansion, not conservation and healthy sustainability.
Beyond these problems with fish farming, aquaculture also contains the same dark side that all factory farms have, they are: huge, crowded, have dirty containment with runoff; tons of antibiotics and chemicals, genetic modification, and inhumane cruelty.
Another problem: fish that escape from the industrial fish farms cause chaos and damage the local ecosystem by way of pollution, non-native diseases, and competition. The factory farmed fish that are crowded in nets in the ocean, also cause great peril for marine life. The huge and unethical crowding of the “frankenfish” draws attention from hungry ocean life, who then get entangled in the nets.
In addition, overfishing also takes away the livelihood and food from poorer populations around the world, who are dealing with the effects of climate change, and loss of food sources and clean water.
All of this translates into a massive humanitarian and environmental crisis and disaster. Suffering among the most vulnerable will continue and increase, until major efforts are made to end the corruption, exploitation, and abuses that are going on in our country and world.
A solution that is proposed for the impacts of aquaculture overfishing to feed the fish in their farms, is to depend more on freshwater and plant-based food for the farmed fish.
Unfortunately, plant-based food for farmed fish and other farmed seafood is another empty solution. Fish farms that apply this method, most often depend on massive crops, which demand huge amounts of resources. According to Anthropocene magazine, “demand for freshwater went up by 63%, both land-use, and phosphorus use (for fertilizer) surged by over 80%”.
This translates into increased pollution and stress on freshwater and land resources and ecosystems, due to corporate farming practices. All in all, aquaculture, as it stands now, is not sustainable. Just as factory and corporate farming are not healthy, sustainable, or humane.
Whenever profit and quantity are prioritized over life and collective and environmental health, we will find disastrous results for life and future.
CS Sherin, author of “Recipe For A Green Life”
Many of the major producers of fish meal and fish feed for factory fish farms commit to transparency and sustainability in word only. There are no real disclosures or transparency about the amount of wild-caught fish that are taken, sourcing, or sustainability measures — if any.
Despite all of these serious problems, aquaculture (including fish, shrimp and mollusks) are booming. Yet, most of these harbor all of these dark and dangerous issues, which are threatening the survival of life on our planet.
If we are going to eat seafood, we need to make sure that we are choosing seafood that is healthy and sustainable. With all the marine life dying and starving around the world, we have to really sit with the question: is seafood really ever sustainable anymore?
Let’s start with the big official certification for sustainability. Does the seafood have a certification in sustainability from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)? Then it must be sustainable and good, right? Certainly, it is an important marker. Yet, much like loopholes and other transparency issues that exist with organic certification, this seafood sustainability certification also has problems and challenges regarding transparency and accuracy of claims. The Pew Environment Group thinks it is misleading for the MSC certification to use the word “sustainable”.
Some critically endangered species, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) include: southern bluefin tuna, hawksbill and leatherback sea turtles. Some endangered species include: loggerhead, green, and olive ridley sea turtles, sawfishes, and blue whales. Whale sharks, humpback whales, grey nurse sharks and great white sharks are likely to go extinct if nothing changes. Close to being endangered: stellar sea lion, gaudalupe fur seals and California sea otters. Depleted species include: bottlenose dolphins, spinner dolphins, fur seals, spotted dolphins, and beluga whales. The Marine Bio site explains that the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) cannot give a complete picture of all species in peril. For example, barely any invertebrates are listed. Information for invertebrates is difficult to track. Source: Marinebio.org.
Is Our Seafood Sustainable Or Not?
When thinking about seafood and where to get it, consider the following first:
How is the fish or other sea life caught or farmed?
Is the species being overfished? Is the fish farm dirty, irresponsible, and/or contaminated?
Is the fish or other seafood’s food source (forage fish) being overfished?
Is there an issue of bycatch? Young fish, hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, sea birds, and mammals like whales, dolphins, threatened sharks, and porpoises are victims of bycatch. There are 250,000 endangered sea turtles victim to bycatch yearly.
Shrimp and tuna cause some of the biggest negative impacts of bycatch, and are in high demand in the US.
How much are fossil fuel driven practices a part of the supply of the seafood via ships, farm, and transport?
Consider the source carefully. For instance, some aquaculture is a type of monoculture (like shrimp farms in Thailand) that cause serious pollution and mangrove decimation.
While there is not a lot of research about the long-term impacts of pollution like radiation, crude oil, microfiber and micro-plastic pollution (and the persistent chemicals that are attached) — these are all issues worth keeping in mind.
Guides For More Sustainable Seafood Choices
And finally, here is a short list of guides to help you navigate finding sustainable seafood on a day-to-day basis.
These issues are too important not to talk about, explore, and act on. I hope this has been a helpful and motivating guide for you. If you know of more helpful resources related to this, or good news related to any of it, please do share in the comments.
Environmental news, like a lot of news, can be extremely painful to take in. I have a general rule that I don’t share potentially soul-crushing or viscerally painful news unless there is a way to take action to change the situation in some way — like a petition, call to action, or steps to change things. It is important to avoid battle fatigue, and to avoid feeling triggered, while also feeling helpless about a situation. However, I am going to break my rule for this story. Not that we can’t do anything in response to this story — we can. It just isn’t as simple or straightforward as a petition kind of action. I am compelled to share this because this story is important. It is about our ocean, ocean life, food, and the strength and importance of Indigenous communities. It is about the state of our humanity while we face and respond ethically, and in time, to tragic, hospice-like chain reactions that are occurring because of exploitation, excess consumerism, corruption, fossil fuels and climate change.
What I am sharing with you today contains dynamics that are viscerally painful to me. My heart and body literally ache, knowing this, and similar situations around the world are happening. Yet, within the facts and story, the action being taken by Indigenous humans (in general, and in this story specifically), is the best of what people are meant to be, and can be. While we cannot alleviate all the suffering upon the planet, we can afford time and energy for knowing about and supporting fellow humans who are bravely standing up for the voiceless (who are enduring lengthy suffering and death). We can find ways to do the same, joining Native Americans, and Indigenous around the world, in solidarity.
Orca whales of the Salish Sea (in the Seattle and Bellingham Washington and Vancouver, Canada region) are starving to death.
This has been going on for some time, and right now, it is the worst it has been. For the orcas, their forever home, the Salish Sea, has become a forced hospice room. Forced, because the whales are not sick. They are perfectly healthy. It is their home waters that are polluted, and it is their food source that is gone — greedily taken by over-fishing and excess consumption. Their mainstay, Chinook salmon, are endangered.
Levi Pulkkinen, at The Guardian, reported about this today: in the last ten years the orca population has gone from 200 to 75, the current pod is starving, orca babies are not surviving birth, and those that do are not surviving into adulthood. The ocean was once teeming with Chinook salmon, and now the salmon are endangered. Organizations like the NOAA and Washington state fishery officials are just now beginning to work together to establish salmon in the water, so as to save the remaining orcas.
While that is a little bit of good news that the organizations of the region are acting to do something finally, that is not the amazing part of the news in the article from The Guardian.
The amazing news is that the Lummi Nation (the Native American tribe of that region in Washington state) has made a formal commitment to the orcas of the Salish Sea by way of ceremony. A salmon was released into the water, as a message to the orcas that the Lummi Nation and the orcas are family, and that the Lummi Nation will not abandon or ignore the orcas in their time of suffering and need.
The fish slipped to the orca was both a prayer and a signal to the starving whales that the tribe would not sit back and watch them vanish.
Levi Pulkkinen, “A pod of orcas is starving to death. A tribe has a radical plan to feed them”
I recommend reading the article for the entire account regarding the Lummi Nation and the orcas.
The Lummi are not the only ones sending messages. The orca have been too. Last summer an orca, whose baby had died hours after birth, carried the baby for 17 days. The way that she carried her deceased orca baby was to hold the baby above water, in order for humans to see this. Her pod left her, and she stayed there for weeks, showing humans that what they are doing, and not doing, is wrong. According to Pulkkinen’s article, the Lummi Nation agrees that the orca mother was sending a message.
It is a message they understand very well, and they want to respond to it. The Lummi tribe is calling for a mass movement to actively begin feeding the dying orcas. The orcas have always been a part of the region. The Lummi Nation is seeking immediate action to alleviate their suffering, and to stop the needless extinction.
It seems that the NOAA is not quite supportive of saving the pod’s life in this way, citing that the feeding approach is not sustainable. Other local scientists are evidently divided as to whether to support the Lummi Nation’s call to action or not. One thing that is clear, this is literally life or death for the orca pod at this point.
When it comes down to it, it is not logical to allow a group of beings to starve to death when there are sources of food available that can save lives. Yet, it is not a simple ethical issue. If feeding the orcas prolongs their lives, but they don’t have a healthy enough environment to sustain their lives, death is still imminent at some point. Or, maybe it isn’t. What if a solution can be found by the time the feedings are no longer sustainable? What if a solution comes, but no action was taken, and the orcas all starve and die. Then, we didn’t do enough.
What must we do in emergencies? For any being? We must do the atypical things. We must improvise. We must come together as family. It is a heartbreaking reality we find ourselves facing these days.
The Lummi Nation is acting like First Responders and emergency room care providers. They are trying to get the emergency supplies and actions together, in order to alleviate the emergency situation. This is logical, appropriate, and needed action for the current situation. The NOAA is looking at long-term sustainability, which is also a valid and needed perspective, but it is not as helpful in the emergency room. And otherwise healthy patients dealing with an emergency, a crisis, don’t belong in a hospice, they belong in the emergency room. In the emergency room we have to stop the bleeding, and do the emergency patching. After that, long-term management can be put in place, gradually.
These two objectives, emergency triage and long-term approaches, do not need to be in conflict with one another.
The NOAA needs to give the Native Americans of the region room to do what is right, based on relationships that are older than this United States nation. Then, the NOAA can follow-up with long-term strategies and networking. This is one of the many ways that our systems need to radically change, in order to adapt and mitigate the disasters that are before us because of climate change, consumerism, and all the rest.
“The greater society has to decide whether they’re going to help or not.”
Bill James, Lummi Nation hereditary Chief
It may seem a small act of ceremony, and unlikely movement for the orcas, that the Lummi people are performing currently, but really, it is the most powerful and best kinds of actions we humans can take. It is a major act of courage and active compassion for family and life. It is action based on compassion and solidarity, which is stronger than anything — no matter how bleak things are. Even in the midst of grief and their own severe challenges, the Lummi Nation have a voice, and it is strong. This is the strength, fire, and heart we must act with, and take with us everywhere.
The Lummi Nation are also sending a message to all of us with their words and actions. What will we do? How will we respond?
Take Action For Earth Day At The Bottom Of This Article
CS Sherin, April 22, 2019
Earth Day is today, yet Earth Day needs to be every day. Not one day can be found where we don’t need the Earth. There isn’t a day that we don’t need clean, safe, accessible air, water, and food. Even so, because of the disastrous effects that consumerism, waste, fossil fuels, corporate agriculture, exploitation, and materialistic financial wealth have upon the environment — we set this special kind of day aside — in order to raise awareness and take action.
At its best, Earth Day actions include: taking political action via calling and petitioning our representatives and hopeful representatives, and advocating for the varying urgent needs related to environmental health, sustainability, and climate change. Earth Day is also an opportunity to plan for or begin to plant native trees, plants, and an organic garden for self and/or others, to re-commit to the actions required in our personal lives for sustainability, and invite others to join in. It can be an opportunity to celebrate with meaningful actions and networking that stimulate new inspiration and energy to act.
Yet, too often, this day becomes a superficial tool for commercial interests, both large and small, that greenwash the day for personal gain. Earth Day events too often include: unsustainable waste, single-use plastics, and commercial gimmicks, rather than sincere investment in and commitment to a sustainable, environmental business model, policies, and ongoing actions. Some Earth Day events may contribute to pollution and waste more than they build on sustainable actions, like networking, outreach, activism, and education.
It could be more productive to organize and participate in protests and demonstrations for Earth Day, instead of making it a carnival-like event for profit and advertising.
It can be a day to push for bigger actions and ongoing commitment from big players. Earth Day can be a day for divestment movements, and for asking local venues to stop with the chemicals on the grass and single-use plastics — and to begin (and continue) addressing crucial local issues related to water, air, food, habitats, and climate action.
As climate change is already happening, there are many populations in the US and around the world in emergency situations, who are suffering and displaced because of it.
We need to have started on the radical system change required to mitigate this disaster 10 years ago. We are behind. In addition, the current Republican administration is undermining everything we need to change, in unimaginable corrupt and truly damaging ways.
Dealing with these kinds of harrowing dynamics, and the need for long-term resistance, can lead to emotional and mental exhaustion. It also can lead to anger at celebratory days, like Earth Day, that too often fail to live up to what they are intended to be.
At the same time, it is important to celebrate and appreciate what is good, and what we have left, to protect and restore.
If someone we love is seriously ill, and it is also that loved one’s birthday, it is still a day to celebrate. But, we don’t celebrate by engaging in activities that could get the loved one more sick. We certainly don’t try to profit from their situation and needs. The celebration needs to include plans that care for that loved one’s health for that day, and with their long-term needs in mind as well. Caring for our Earth is no different.
And, just like long-term caregivers, it is important that we take down-time, in order to recharge ourselves, so that we can productively face all of the day-to-day challenges. In states of emergency, there is not this luxury, but in the scope of worldwide populations, those who can, must stop and recharge in order to be more effective for the long haul.
Yes, it is important that we make time to spend time in nature, in order to appreciate and connect with what we are standing up for. Yet, we need to, at least, spend time in nature in a way that causes no harm. And hopefully, we spend time in nature in a way that can contribute to educating, helping, restoring, and preserving health and balance in nature and the ecosystems around us.
The ordinary natural world is miraculous, wondrous, and beautiful. We owe our daily lives to the goodness of this planet. This is what sacred means…it is a valuing and awareness of goodness. Currently, we face a crisis in which too many leaders have forsaken the sacredness of life for profit, power, and greed. If we are going to celebrate and promote Earth day, may it be for Earth day every day, and for preserving the innate sacredness of life over all else in a way that is inclusive, honest, and kind.
Below is a mind map I created to illustrate some of the many connections and proccesses within sustainable living and a holistic approach, which you can find in Recipe For A Green Life.
There could be lines connecting everything to everything else, but I thought that would look too cluttered. Still, everything is connected. Our problems, challenges, and solutions are all systemic. For example, without a minimum wage that is up to date with inflation/current costs of living, most people will not be able to afford organic, Fair Trade, and many other choices that support a healthier planet and life on it. We need to invest in things like solar power and renewable, Eco-friendly infrastructure, but as long as we continue to feed into systems set up for discrimination against minorities and vulnerable populations, the changes that need to happen won’t be widespread or accessible enough.
You get the idea. Every bubble on the mind map is related to every other bubble on the mind map, whether or not a visible line is drawn.
I hope this gets you in a happy brain-storming, inspired type of mood — for making ongoing positive, empowering changes to your daily thoughts, habits, and actions — while inspiring others with your example and enthusiasm.
unprecedented worldwide climate action and positive systemic change
CS Sherin, February 15, 2019, updated 3-26-2019
The Biggest Causes Of Climate Change
In 2010 the UNEP published “Assessing The Environmental Impacts of Consumption & Production”. The report identified that the two biggest problems we face — the two biggest causes of environmental disaster on Earth are due to: the extraction methods and use of fossil fuels (coal, petroleum, crude oil, natural gas) and agriculture paired with excess consumption/demand for meat, dairy, and other animal byproducts.
The report states that negative impacts rise with the level of wealth. There is an urgent need to adapt quickly, changing our systems to renewable, sustainable pathways for people of every financial level of means. Those with greater wealth must contribute to the needed changes especially — rejecting corruption, abuse of power, elitism, waste, and consumerism — in favor of pathways to a healthier, equitable, kinder, sustainable future for species, ecosystems, biodiversity, and humanity.
Methods for extracting fossil fuels (strip mining, mountaintop removal, mining, drilling, pipelines, and hydraulic fracturing) are linked to devastating degradation of ecosystems, species, water/air/soil, and human health. Burning of fossil fuels (heating, electricity, transportation, manufacturing, and production) is a major contributor to Green House Gas (GHG) emissions. Fossil fuel extraction and use is causing climate change.
Petrochemicals (e.g. propylene, vinyl, ethanol, and petroleum), used in countless products (e.g. plastics of all kinds, synthetic clothing/fabrics, medicine, cosmetics, furniture, crayons, candles) is another major branch of fossil fuel use that also has devastating effects on health and environment (e.g. micro-plastic and microfiber pollution, single-use production and waste, and some PBTs and POPs — and their relationship with plastic pollution).
Agriculture, Meat And Dairy
Corporate agriculture and excess consumption of meat, dairy and animal byproducts are a main source and cause of habitat loss, over-fishing/fish endangerment, excessive water use, pollution of air, water, and soil; pollinator and insect endangerment, and climate change. The 2010 UNEP report states:
“Impacts from agriculture are expected to increase substantially due to population growth increasing consumption of animal products. Unlike fossil fuels, it is difficult to look for alternatives: people have to eat. A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products.”
2010 UNEP “Assessing The Environmental Impacts Of Consumption & Production”
“Animal products cause more damage than [producing] construction minerals such as sand, cement, plastics, or metals. Biomass and crops for animals are as damaging as fossil fuels.”
The 2010 UNEP report explains that we need a global shift to a predominantly plant-based diet in order to prevent irreversible and catastrophic changes. Scientists have estimated that a worldwide shift to a vegetarian-type diet would bring GHG emissions down by about 63% by 2050. A plant-based diet would reduce emissions by about 70%.
Monoculture crops, a major component of mainstream and commercial agriculture, ends up depleting soil, causes erosion, and demands huge amounts of water. A monoculture is weakened by a lack of biodiversity, and so, is vulnerable to pests and blight. Because of this, there is heavy use of pesticides and herbicides, which cause damage to underground water, soil, and runoff. Monoculture crops are dependent on fossil fuels. As mostly commercial crops, operations are vast. Harvesting, machinery, storage, packaging, and transportation are all fossil fuel dependent, causing high cumulative GHG emissions. Other negative effects of corporate monoculture crops include: deforestation, and endangerment or loss of animal, plant, and insect populations via chemicals and habitat loss.
Accountability & The Need For Unprecedented Standards And Restrictions
Corporations that manufacture and produce single-use plastic containers, packaging, and synthetic fibers for clothing and textiles are not limiting or putting a stop to any of it.
Major corporations and their manufacturers/producers need to be held accountable for their ongoing destructive impacts upon the environment and collective health, due to their relentless use and production of chemicals, fossil fuels, unethical agriculture, and single-use plastics. Radical change guided by ethical standards and restrictions must be enforced to mitigate and end the damage happening daily due to these unchecked practices, and long-range plans for more of the same.
What Can I Do?
We can do everything we can to divest from fossil fuels, petrochemicals, single use items and packaging, toxins, corporate agriculture, pesticides, herbicides, meat, dairy, and seafood. All of which is needed and important.
Yet, until there are unprecedented restrictions and standards placed upon corporations, manufacturers, and the like — we will not be able to effect the level of change we require now in order to be effective.
Part of the holistic effort involves addressing both the personal and the collective needs, best we can. Therefore, holding decision-makers/the elite/corporations accountable in every way possible, and hopefully divesting from their services on a grand scale, is also important and needed.
I don’t want your hope…I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is.
Greta Thunberg, a teenage climate activist in Sweden addressed some of the people attending the World Economic Forum in Switzerland on January 24th of this year. She highlighted the fact that it is not true that everyone is to blame for the climate crisis, that in fact, the elite, corporations, and decision-makers are to blame for sacrificing “priceless values” in order “to continue making unimaginable amounts of money”. Greta is holding them responsible, face to face, while making a strong and heartfelt challenge that they “do everything in your power to push your own business and government in line with a 1.5 degree world.”
The natural systems of our Earth are out of balance. This is largely driven by the industrial age and consumerism age legacies. Earth is a marvel of natural cycles and patterns of balance, recycling, and interconnected layers of cooperation, which ensure health and balance. The natural response to imbalance, for the Earth, is to shift and respond with great change until a balance is found again.
Biodiversity is being lost, species and habitats are being lost and endangered. Animals and pollinators aren’t finding enough food and safe places. Migration leads them to poor options — nowhere to go, and garbage and plastic as a remaining food source.
This is the painful, thoughtless legacy of greed, consumerism, materialism, elitism, discrimination, obsessive exploitation, and corruption. It is perpetuated by reckless and excess demand for convenience and creature comforts without conscience or ethical checks.
CS Sherin, author of Recipe For A Green Life
Changing weather patterns, late and early storms, extreme weather (including extreme cold and snow) are all a part of climate change, which is caused by global warming. This, along with the effects and damages from fossil fuel extraction and use, micro-plastic pollution and bio-accumulative toxins; mainstream agricultural practices, and the excess consumption of meat, dairy, and animal byproducts — it all combines together into a recipe for needless disaster. The result is chain reactions of loss and collapse — like loss of pollinators and beneficial insects (for crops, gardens, and food sources for birds and other animals) in various regions of the world.
The Earth can survive without humans, but life on the planet cannot survive without insects.
Healthy human communities are rooted in respect and stewardship for the many kinds of diversity and biodiversity. Healthy human communities are ones that have a respect for commonalities and differences, as well as for ethical practices for all life that uphold health and balance for the long-term. There is time to change this pathway to disaster. And we have to begin acting, adapting, and responding to this crisis now. This is the real emergency.
The Urgent Need To Act On The IPCC Special Report Now
Without a doubt, human activities (e.g. fossil fuel extraction and use, petrochemicals and related consequences, corporate agriculture, etc) have already caused between .8 and 1.2 degrees of warming.
Survival of ecosystems, species, and humans with 1.5 degrees of additional warming will still be challenging survival-wise, but 2 degrees of warming would result in catastrophic (likely irreversible) devastation, loss, and mass extinctions.
The report lists the main reasons for concern (RFCs) that we face right now include, in summary:
Extreme weather events increasing (“the new abnormal”) — this includes heat waves, heavy rain, drought, wildfires, coastal flooding, extreme storms (snow, rain, hurricanes, etc)
“Global loss of ecosystems and biodiversity
Increasing threat to biodiversity hot-spots, glaciers, the Arctic and Indigenous people of the Arctic, coral reefs
Large scale events that result in irreversible change to systems — like the deteriorating Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets
Dr. James E. Hansen is a professor at Columbia University, a climate change scientist, and former NASA scientist. He is also a part of the climate change lawsuit Juliana v. United States, led by 21 young people between the ages of 10–21 (Our Children’s Trust), that was filed in Oregon in 2015, approved in 2016, and is currently stalled due to endless blocking tactics on the part of the current Trump/Pence administration.
Dr. Hansen has stated, in not so many words, that the Paris Agreement doesn’t do enough, fast enough to make the difference we need in order to survive. He has recommended that the most effective course of action would be a global tax on CO2 emissions, which is not a strategy stated or committed to in the Paris Agreement.
The IPCC report states that the Paris Agreement, followed as submitted, won’t lead to the 1.5 degree limit in warming that we absolutely need. The IPCC special report explains that the 1.5 degree warming limit can only be achieved if we see emissions decline before 2030 (from 2010 levels, not current ones). The lower we can get emissions by 2030, the better our chances are after 2030.
A worldwide CO2 emissions tax, or something comparable.
A worldwide shift away from fossil fuels to renewable, clean energy sources for electricity, heating, and transportation. The IPCC special report states, “Only 8% of global electricity can be generated by gas, and 0–2% by coal.” Renewable energy (e.g. solar, wind, geothermal, hemp, urine, feces, etc), not any of the fossil fuels, “renewable energy must supply 70–85% of electricity and transportation by 2050”.
Bans on the ongoing reckless production amounts of single-use plastics and synthetic fibers.
A worldwide shift to a predominantly plant-based diet, with minimal demand for only ethical and organic animal byproducts.
Invest (time, energy, resources, money, movement) in Permaculture, food forests, organic, small farms; convert empty lots into community gardens, turn residential and commercial lawns into garden and native landscaping that supports beneficial insects, pollinators, and migrating species.
Invest in movements for fair and equal wages, a living wage minimum, workers’ rights, equality and equity/civil rights, and poverty eradication.
Invest in movements that are counter-cultural — refusing: consumerism, reckless/mindless waste, harmful toxins, excess consumption, cruelty, discrimination, fossil fuel dependence, corrupt systems and exploitation.
Unprecedented mass divestment movements.
Major Change, And It Is Positive
We need to radically change our systems, habits, choices, and approach to our culture, systems, and lifestyles. We need to facilitate and encourage technologies and renewable approaches to become accessible and implemented everywhere.
Will it be expensive? If we don’t do this, we face economic loss and collapse as well as collapse of life. I would put life before economics every time, but for some, perspective has been lost. So, changing everything may be “expensive” but in the long run all of the changes we need to make are ones that are extremely healthy and beneficial for everyone.
Removing our over-investment in weapons/war and for-profit incarceration would be a way clean and clear way to fund many of the needed changes. Changing our general and narrow concept of currency could shift some dynamics as well. This really is a paradigm change we are talking about, and it is necessary. It is important to remember that the changes we need to make are GOOD changes — inclusive, equitable, wise changes for survival and better pathways to future life for all.
What Is Good?
We don’t want to forget all the good that already exists and works.
We already have the ability to employ solar, hydro-, geothermal, and wind power. We may need to adjust some of the techniques and approaches, but it is all solid, as far as being able to generate clean energy.
We already have the ability and knowledge necessary to replace plastics and chemicals with hemp. It needs to be made completely affordable and accessible for everyone now!
We already have the ability to use grey water systems and composting toilets.
We already have the success, wisdom, and efficiency of Permaculture (e.g. organic gardens/farming in small spaces; city community gardens in food deserts, food forests, and restorative companion planting with beneficial “weeds”, insects/pollinators, and animals working together) — we need to employ these proven methods everywhere!
There are more people in the world who want positive change than those working against it. There are plenty of people around the world who have been aware of our challenges and crises for decades, who work tirelessly to deal with some aspects of it. There are inventions and discoveries still to be found and shared. Right now, it is a matter of consolidating our goals into massive movement, with plans to act now, while realistically pacing ourselves for the long-haul of these next pivotal, priceless 10–12 years.
At the same time, we must address and adapt our personal lifestyles — every aspect of what we are supporting and contributing to via our daily/weekly habits and choices. It is good for us to remember that by supporting and putting loving, restorative energy towards diversity and biodiversity we will automatically be addressing nearly everything.
We can reuse, fix, re-purpose, make do-it-yourself recipes, share, donate, collaborate, up-cycle, invent, discover, demonstrate, legislate, petition, protest, educate, change laws, policies and ordinances, and make positive shifts in our homes and personal lifestyle. In addition, we need to realize that we are interconnected and diverse — and that our uniqueness and individuality, with respect, makes us stronger.