Tag Archives: Climate

We marched for climate!

Saturday, November 21, 2015
On a brisk, sunny November morning, Green Sangha joined hundreds of citizen-activists to march for real action at the upcoming UN Climate Talks. Matt Eremko, Chuck Trumble, and Linda Currie were among the participants. “It was quite a special day to participate in,” said Matt. Here are some of his photos, beginning with the pre-march meditation with the Buddhist Climate Action Network:

Pre-march meditation 2

350.org has been a major leader in climate awareness-raising, and climate actions, from rallies to the carbon divestment campaign.  We enjoyed joining forces with them and everyone there.  Other organizations present included Occupy SF, Environmental Justice Working Group, FrackingPollutesCalifornia.org, and the Party for Socialism & Liberation.

Banners on the street 2

As on Moving Planet Day in SF (Sept 24, 2011), we appreciated the degree of love and goodwill expressed by participants.  As Jonathan Gustin and Diana Winston wrote in the Green Sangha Principles of Activism, “We see in our lives the same greed and confusion that we oppose. This helps us to have compassion for others. We fight the confusion that causes suffering, not the person who is confused. There is no ‘other’ to fight against anyway; we simply meet ourselves.”

Love banner 2

“As we walked toward downtown Oakland,” Matt reports, “the temperature warmed, the sky was blue, and the energy was felt.  There was a marching band, drummers, a portable PA system with chanting of environmental slogans — all together provided a powerful sense of purpose for us all.”

Banners 2

The camaraderie was everywhere, and infectious.  Below, Chuck Trumble (center) and Linda Currie (to his L) had a happy reunion with fellow participants in the 2014 People’s March for the Climate (the T-shirts they are wearing were designed by Linda for their trip across country via Amtrak).

Climate Train reunion 2

In The World We Have (2008), Thich Nhat Hanh wrote: “Our spiritual life is the element that can bring about the energies of peace, calm, brotherhood, understanding, and compassion.  Without that, our earth doesn’t stand a chance.”

Mindful steps required

We hold in our hearts and our hands the miracle of mindfulness in action.  With a deep bow of gratitude, we acknowledge all those who took mindful steps on November 21 on behalf of our home, planet Earth.


Houston, we have a problem

The following article was published January 13 on the Daily Kos:  http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/01/13/1357528/-Houston-We-Have-a-Problem.  The author, Bill Carney, is president of Sustainable San Rafael.  

Apollo 13I didn’t own a TV in 1970, so my knowledge of the Apollo 13 tragedy-turned-triumph is pretty much limited to the Tom Hanks movie twenty-five years after the fact. But as I watch our new Republican Congress assume the controls of climate policy, I find myself repeating, in quiet desperation, “Houston, we have a problem.”

It wasn’t just that I didn’t own a TV back then. It was also that I trusted the spirit, ingenuity and tenacity of the American enterprise to pull through and save the day. That youthful confidence in America turned out to be well founded.

But with climate change, I’m not so sure.

Which is why I’m directing this communication primarily to my friends, relatives and countrymen in Texas—arguably Mission Control for both the oil industry driving climate change and the political climate beclouding effective action to fix this potentially catastrophic malfunction in the human stewardship of spaceship earth.

Paper mill smokestacksAs inside Apollo 13, our main problem now is the build-up of carbon dioxide to life-threatening levels. Just as the metabolism of the three men on board overwhelmed the life-support systems of their craft, the metabolism of our industrial technology—fueled by two centuries of burning coal, oil and gas—is overwhelming the natural systems of our planet.

That carbon overload is trapping sunlight and heating up the atmosphere like a locked car in a hot Texas parking lot. The heat kills directly, 70,000 people during a single European heat wave. Rising temperatures also trigger a cascade of broader failures in planetary functions that are critical to human wellbeing—storms spiraling to immense dimensions; ice caps and glaciers melting; storm surges and inundation teed up by rising sea levels; floods from intensifying rainfall; increasing droughts and wildfires.

Then come the related disruptions to human systems, agricultural, economic, humanitarian, security. And to our fellow species, precipitating the sixth mass extermination in geologic history.

“Houston, we have a problem.”

The Apollo astronauts were able to solve their atmospheric crisis, with a great deal of help and ingenuity from below, by salvaging a square carbon filter and jury-rigging it to fit onto a round hole. They literally tore apart their instruction manual to get the materials needed to make it work.

That’s the kind of creativity we need to bring to the climate crisis, along with the national teamwork to brainstorm solutions and the discipline to get the job done.

Redwood trailNature already has on board the necessary carbon filters. We can restore and replenish vast carbon-absorbing forests, coastal marshes and agricultural soils. We can also conserve what the Apollo team called “critical consumables”—mainly energy and water—with far greater efficiency and even elegance in the way we live.

But such remedial actions will only work if we simultaneously reduce the root cause of climate change, which is burning fossil fuels. Here we have a huge capability that the Apollo astronauts did not. We are able to change the industrial metabolism that’s emitting all that planet-baking carbon dioxide in the first place.

Again, we can do so with existing technologies and resources. We can convert our power grid from fossil fuels to clean renewable energy like wind, solar and hydro. We can construct zero-net-energy buildings, and ramp up an emission-free transportation network of electric cars and transit.

The challenge is how to harness the power of the marketplace to redirect the economy towards such choices. One ready method would be to gradually gear up a ‘fee-and-dividend’ program—charging the fossil fuel industry for the carbon pollution it emits, while returning the cash to consumers to purchase cleaner alternatives and offset any costs.

This is the kind of approach that conservatives should champion, since it would encourage economic innovation, diversification, and predictability. There are jobs to be created and money to be made.

Apollo 13 Command Module approaches splashdown. 4-17-70.  www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a13

Apollo 13 Command Module approaches splashdown. 4-17-70. www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a13

The final challenge to the Apollo 13 mission was to manually adjust the trajectory needed to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere without burning up or bouncing off. The movie shows the team’s white-knuckled mastery of this near miracle by keeping the craft’s small porthole firmly aligned with the one fixed point available, the earth itself.

That’s exactly the point of reference that we need now to avoid the imminent disaster of a collapsing climate. The way home is to keep the earth clearly in view in all our decisions. Moreover, as the planet quickly warms towards irreversible tipping points, it increasingly looks like we may only get one shot to nudge our trajectory back on course. And it needs to be soon.

The first step is to get our new Congress—the actual Mission Control of climate stabilization—to hear clearly, we have a problem, and then provide the leadership to mobilize the ingenuity and spirit of our nation to return us to a healthy planet.

Bill Carney instructs the troopsBill Carney has organized multiple public events, including lectures and rallies such as Marin County’s contingent for Moving Planet Day in San Francisco on Sep 24, 2011.  As President of Sustainable San Rafael, he has kept Climate Protection and Climate Protection at the top of the agenda for city and county government.

Ten minutes of silence

Have you heard of the book by John Francis, PhD, called Planetwalker: How To Change Your World One Step At A Time?  In 1971, John lived in Inverness, CA.  Like so many coastal residents, he was deeply disturbed when two oil tankers, the Arizona Standard and the Oregon Standard, collided beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, spilling 840,000 gallons of oil into the water and onto the shores. He joined hundreds of volunteers trying to clean the beaches and save marine life.  He wanted to respond in an even deeper way, and decided to stop riding in motorized vehicles. Our cars, after all, were the machines that had led us on the path to the oil spill and so much other pollution.

John’s friends tried to persuade him that his symbolic action would make no difference. He argued with them, but did not like the way he felt after these arguments.  So he decided to keep his mouth shut for a day, and then another day . . . He felt so much better, and found such peace in communicating non-verbally, that he maintained silence for 17 years (with a one-hour hiatus). When he was accepted to graduate school in the Midwest, he wrote back to request a delay in matriculation, since he would have to walk to get there.  As a graduate assistant, he led undergrad seminars without speaking.  Discussions were so lively that there was a waiting list to join his section.  Having mastered the art of silence, he now speaks beautifully.

ItzcuauhtliI thought of all these things when I read this week about an even younger environmentalist, a Native American boy named Itzcuauhtli, who in October took a vow of silence until world leaders do something real about climate change.

On December 10, we will be joining people all over the world, observing 10 minutes of silence in solidarity with this 11-year-old activist.  You may do so at any time of the day, but we especially encourage you to take silence at 3:50 pm PST – a reference to the upper acceptable concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere (350 ppm) and to the group that has done so much to raise awareness of this issue, 350.org.

Here is more detail from one supporter: An 11 year old indigenous environmental activist has taken a vow of silence until world leaders finally act to effectively deal with climate disruption. This young man is not just any 11 year old. He and his 14 year old brother are well-known eco-hip-hop artists who perform at events around the world. In just a few weeks his creative approach to his spiritual despair has impacted tens of thousands of people. And in my imagination, it could blossom into a heartful global shock-wave of silent children, upending business as usual everywhere – as was envisioned by a 1987 political fantasy movie….

Dear friends,
I have been deeply moved by the action of an 11 year old – Itzcuauhtli (Eat-Squat-Lee) Roske-Martinez who stopped talking October 27, 2014 “until world leaders take action on Climate Change.” Itzcuauhtli makes it clear that he thinks all of us are at least as important for climate action – if not more so – as officially recognized world leaders. I will be joining him and thousands of others being silent on December 10 for the same purpose.
But there’s a bigger possibility pulsating behind this simple act by one child. I think a major reason his action struck me so deeply was a movie I saw 25 years ago, “Amazing Grace and Chuck.” In it Chuck, a 12 year old Little League baseball star pitcher, is so upset about the possibility of nuclear war – for some of the same reasons that Itzcuauhtli and I are upset about the potential impact of climate disruption – that he stops playing baseball, an act which reverberates throughout his small Midwestern town, with small but potent ripples reaching national media. A growing number of professional sports players and teams soon join his protest by stopping playing their sports. When his biggest ally, basketball star Amazing Grace, is assassinated in a plane explosion, Chuck takes a vow of silence like Itzcuauhtli’s “until there are no more nuclear weapons.” He inspires millions of children around the world to join him. Pressure builds rapidly for the US and Russian leaders until they finally sign a major disarmament pact. Here are some video clips.
The movie was panned by most professional reviewers as far-fetched – with an interesting exception being Siskel and Ebert, who took it seriously.
Itzcuauhtli says: “Join me in this vow until world leaders: 1) Agree on and implement a Global Climate Recovery Plan to get us back to a safe zone of 350 ppm; 2) Mass[ively] reforest the planet to help absorb all our excess carbon and; 3) Support renewable energy solutions to replace the dirty fossil fuel industry.”
To that he could well have added “become vegetarians” or at least “publicly reduced their meat consumption” since the profound role of meat production in disrupting climate is becoming painfully obvious.
I invite you to explore this remarkable kid – and his 14 year old brother Xiuhtezcatl, both talented eco-hip-hop artists who perform at events around the world – and their family and youth organization Earth Guardians



Coming clean: breaking our addiction to fossil fuels

Clean Energy:  Why we must have it, how it can be done. 

A Green Chautauqua discussion with Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club.  Co-sponsored by Green Sangha and Citizens Climate Lobby, Marin Water Coalition, Sustainable Fairfax, Sustainable San Rafael, 350 Marin, Watershed Alliance of Marin, and more. 

Brune, Michael 8-14Michael is author of Coming Clean: Breaking America’s Addiction to Oil and Coal. He will show us how we can put our convictions into practice to change our nation’s energy priorities. He will offer an inspiring vision of the clean-energy future within our reach.