earth day special TIME OF
BY JR RIEGEL e have the privilege of living in an extremely important time for the world. What we do now will determine our lasting impact as a species, and unlike most other significant moments in the planet’s history, we can decide how things go from here. It’s an exciting, challenging time, but the pressure is on! Like any organism, humans have always influenced the ecosystems they live in. However, as we spread across the planet, industrialized, and became big-time consumers, this influence has grown wildly, gone unchecked, and caused all sorts of imbalances.
TAKING ACTION FOR
What we do NOW
WILL DETERMINE our LASTING IMPACT on the PLANET
There have been five mass extinctions throughout Earth’s history. In each of these events, over half of all species on the planet died out. Our impact on the planet is so great that our Holocene era is predicted by some to join this list as the sixth mass extinction. Harvard professor E. O. Wilson forecasted in his 2002 book The Future of Life that at the current rate of human-caused disruption of the biosphere, half of Earth’s higher life forms will be extinct by 2100. Since 2002, per-capita carbon emissions in the US have dropped. While this is certainly a good sign that our efforts are starting to work, the increase in per-capita carbon emissions in China over the same time period more than offset our decrease. Our impact on the climate is only one of the factors in this extinction event, and so there are multiple ways we can try and fight the forecasted 50% loss in species. Mindful Consumption: Deforestation and development have damaged habitats across the globe, with the damage to the Amazon rain forest being the most iconic. Much of the rain forest’s deforestation is the result of increased demand to lower prices at all costs. Current laws,
CITIZENS’CLIMATE LOBBY: HOW WOULD GANDHI APPROACH THE CLIMATE CRISIS? BY MARIA ROTUNDA, SANTA FE CCL here is a story that Mark Reynolds, Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s Executive Director, tells to all new Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) groups that might offer some insight. This story encompasses the essence of CCL’s philosophy and core values.
The story takes place in the early 1900s when Gandhi was living in South Africa and battling apartheid. He visited General Smuts, the leader of the Transvaal Government and Gandhi’s adversary. After a long discussion, Smuts said to Gandhi, “Is there anything more you want to say?” To this Gandhi replied, “Yes, I am going to win.” “How will you do that?” Smuts inquired. “With your help,” Gandhi told him. And years later, that is exactly what happened. At its core, CCL is all about coalition-building and reaching across the aisle, asking individuals to embrace their humanity, evolve, and work together. Creating the political will for a livable world isn’t something we can do alone.
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regulations, and consumer habits allow businesses to hide the true cost of goods by pushing expenses off onto the environment and powerless communities. One of the best things we can do to minimize our impact on ecosystems is to educate ourselves on the products that we buy and the practices that went into making those products. Mindful consumption can even be restorative in certain cases. Healing Habitats: In the case of infrastructural development like roads, housing, and urban environments, involvement in local government can go a long way. New projects cut ecosystems into smaller and smaller pieces, but citizen action and government regulation can help maintain habitat
without compromising our ability to live and work. Wildlife corridors can heal broken habitats, and careful planning of public works can prevent environmental degradation that an area might otherwise experience. Effective zoning laws can allow housing developments that maintain habitat instead of eliminating it. In these cases, the value of civic engagement cannot be understated. Learn From Mistakes: Sometimes damage to a species has already been done. This is sad, but we can still respect that species by learning from our errors and not repeating the mistake again. We had no idea that importing chestnut wood from China would bring about the chestnut blight. Scientists now fight the blight in the last remaining stand of American chestnut with all sorts of innovative methods, but they can’t undo the loss of our previously vast chestnut forests. Fortunately, we’ve learned from the many cases of invasive species over the years. We’re much more careful now, but it’s still important to encourage native species when possible in order to preserve local ecosystems. One great place you can do this is in your own garden, and in our climate growing native species can significantly reduce your water usage as well. Tip of the Melt: This is just the tip of the melting iceberg! Modern extinctions are influenced by so many factors of human activity. Keep an eye on future issues of the Co-op Connection—in the coming months, I’ll be going into detail on various human-caused environmental stresses with an eye toward ideas and solutions to tackle them. We’ve made more than our fair share of messes, but one of the greatest things about being human is our ability to reflect on ourselves and strive to do better than we did the day before.
CCL’s proposal is based on what climate science and economics tell us is the simple, most efficient first step in reducing greenhouse gas emissions: place a gradually, predictably increasing fee on carbon. A steadily-rising fee—starting at $15 per ton of carbon-dioxide—is placed on fossil fuels at the point of import or production, increasing by $10 per ton of CO2 each year. Revenue from the fee is divided up equally and returned to all households. Border adjustment tariffs are placed on imports from nations that do not have an equivalent carbon-pricing mechanism in order to maintain a level playing field for American businesses. Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI), a firm that corporations, governments, and academic institutions turn to for economic forecasting, conducted a study on the Carbon Fee and Dividend proposal. Here’s what REMI found: After 10 years, CO2 emissions would be cut 33 percent and 2.1 million jobs would be added to the economy, primarily because of the economic stimulus of recycling tremendous amounts of revenue into the pockets of people who are likely to spend the money. We believe citizens who are well-trained, organized by Congressional district, and with a good system of support can more than influence the political process. With respect, we build long-term relationships with every member of the House and Senate, regardless of political party, to lobby in support of a Carbon Fee and
Dividend. We know that we will not see this policy implemented without the support of a majority. We write letters to the editor and op-eds, and meet with editorial boards to gain their editorial endorsement. Action Alert If you are looking to do actual work with an organization that is punching far above its weight, there are a number of ways to become involved. We meet on the first Saturday of every month in Las Cruces, Albuquerque, and Santa Fe. Find contact info for your local group here: www.citizensclimatelobby.org/aboutccl/#Chapters If you live outside of these areas, you can join our weekly introductory call, which happens every Wednesday. Calls begin at 6pm Mountain time and last about 1 hour (see information on CCL’s website). BOTTOM LINE: we can adopt policies that will mitigate the climate crisis, if we are willing to work, willing to work together, and willing to stay focused on a good goal. We have a lot of work to do. If you’d rather work than just click; if you’d rather work than just opine on Facebook; if you’d rather work than do anything else, we would love your help. We can get this done, with your help. Maria Rotunda and John McAndrew are coleaders of the Santa Fe CCL Chapter. FOR MORE INFORMATION, contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WASTE IS NO BARGAIN!
KNOWASTE BY JOHN “SKI” SHASKI The historical record is littered with examples of lost cultures and ruined landscapes. Competition for dwindling resources proves the most likely cause. Archaeologists are familiar with the pattern, having documented repeated examples of collapse following extended periods of affluence.
As business owners and community leaders we benefit when we plan and budget for sustainable waste management. Getting educated is the first step. Waste audits and local infrastructure will help you define value for specific materials that you may be discarding without much thought. Thankfully, there are a growing number of recycling pros qualified to assist with this first step.
Convenient collection point design facilitates participation... but still allows for cross-sorted (contaminated = devalued) product. Clever source-separation strategies (sorting materials at the point of generation) transform an individual act of waste to that of recovery and edification. Finally, revised purchasing standards that prioritize reduced packaging and progressive “end-oflife” product design complete the picture. Waste isn’t simply a nuisance, something to be efficiently and invisibly entombed. Waste is a valuable resource, and when handled properly, it can propel economic growth and community health. LOOK FOR KNOWASTE, AT EARTH FEST to help make this event as close to a zero waste event as we can! For more info and consultation on waste recovery, contact John at email@example.com.
La Montañita Co-op's monthly newsletter from April 2015