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Mother Earth News: Action for Climate Change

Mother Earth News: Action for Climate Change

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Learn how drones, rock dust, and rock dust can be used to combat climate change.

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AdobeStock/Scott Griessel


Elders Climate Action currently has 12 chapters across the country that are taking action against climate change through a variety of means.


When a ship has an emergency, the call for “all hands on deck” is put out. With more scientists stating that we do not have a climate crisis but a climate emergency, it is becoming a call for all people to get on board.

Leslie Wharton, spokesperson for Elders Climate Action (ECA), is in the midst of organizing a growing number of “old hands” into a nationwide network of people who, instead of just talking, are getting together and taking action.

“If I were 12 to 20 [years old] right now and looking at our chaotic future, I would be terrified and angry,” Wharton says. “A year or so ago, some of the youth groups started referring to our generation as the ‘boomers,’ in a bad sense: ‘You boomers, you’re the ones who really caused all these problems.’ That sort of thing. We decided to call our group the Boomer Brigade. We are here, as a brigade of boomers, to deal with climate change.”

ECA’s parent organization, Elders Action Network (EAN), is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. In 2014, after attending one of Al Gore’s Climate Reality training workshops, Paul Severance, a member of EAN, started Elders Climate Action, which held its first in-person conference in September 2015 in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with people from other climate activist groups.

“That’s how I got involved,” Wharton says. “I was there in 2015, and it was like, ‘OK, I’m concerned about climate, so what do I do? Maybe I can calm my racing heart and anxiety if I join this conference.’ They were going to lobby on the Hill… I went, and there were 45 to 60 other elder people gathered there. We met with members of Congress, had speakers, training, and had a purpose. I felt so connected, so supported and focused, and such a sense of community. I was asked if I would like to volunteer at the end of the meeting. I said yes.”

ECA members range from their 50s to their 80s, and even into their 90s. However, some are as young or younger than others. ECA’s mission is to reach out to older individuals and get them involved so they can use their expertise, experience, and knowledge to help build a sustainable future. ECA members helped launch a municipal composting system in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Wharton states that there are 12 ECA chapters. Some groups work on a local, state, or federal level. Wharton says, “Very simply, we are doing things to provide the support, incentive, initiative, and the energy to get more and more people out there doing whatever they can do, right where they are.”

For more information, or if you’d like to join or start an ECA group, visit www.EldersClimateAction.org and click “Join Us.”

Note: This article is based upon a Dennis Paulaha and William Ulrich interview with Leslie Wharton. You can view the complete interview on the GlobalConscience.World website.

— Maggie Goldsmith


Drones vs. Climate Change

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Image by AdobeStock/PiLensPhoto

The pine beetle, among other destructive forces has decimated many trees in Canadian forests.

British Columbia, Canada: Wildfires are more common, pine beetles more prevalent, and loggers are breaking agreed-upon limits. The forests of British Columbia have been strained to the point that they’re now a net carbon emitter rather than a carbon sink. The result is a negative loop: Climate change makes the forest more vulnerable, while the decreasing forest increases the climate change impacts. Natasha Kuperman is determined to break this loop.

Kuperman is an ex-realty developer and architect who recently launched Seed the NorthThe mission of the drones is to reseed forests using self-flying drones. Drones are more efficient than traditional gunny sacks stuffed with saplings. Drones can reach remote northern Canada’s hinterlands much faster than conventional guns. They can also access recently burned forests that are too dangerous for humans to enter.

Kuperman stated in an email that her motivation is not economic but ecological. Seed the North plans to plant forests with more diversity than the monocrops often planted by the timber industry. The organization partners with First Nations communities to share their knowledge about local tree varieties. But Seed the North won’t prescribe exactly what grows in the reseeded areas. The idea behind seed pods that contain a variety seeds is that the land will choose what will grow.


Rock the Carbon Away

In 2018, a group of researchers publishing in Nature thought rock dust added to crops might sequester carbon like nobody’s business. But, they write, “Audited field-scale assessments of the efficacy of CO2 capture are urgently required.” Today, researchers are running those field-scale assessments around the world, and some are just starting to collect dirt samples from their test crops.

A Cornell research team is spreading rock dust onto hemp in New York. Another team is doing the same thing in California with alfalfa. The same applies to some lucky cornfields of Illinois and sugarcane in Australia. There are risks and rewards to the work. Some rock dusts may contain heavy metals. Also, dust transportation may prove too expensive due to limited availability. But, hopefully, dirt samples from below fields will show carbon collected from the atmosphere, and plants will see improvements from adding minerals.

Researchers who are interested in this technology’s potential to combat climate change should consider the cost. Rock dust is a plentiful byproduct of mining, but as yet, there isn’t a way for farmers to earn anything back just for sequestering carbon in their land. That’s why researchers at University of Sheffield’s Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation are trying to quantify the carbon sequestration, so that if a market is ever created for “carbon farming,” farmers can get paid to use rock dust.


A Poison Map of America

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ProPublica, a news organization, released a shocking report last November that showed the severity of toxic pollution in American cities. Particularly poor neighborhoods are being poisoned by powerful cancer-causing agents coming from nearby factories.

What ProPublica has done, the report says, is something the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could do but doesn’t: Journalists layered data from different factories onto one map. Each individual factory in an area may fall below the EPA’s acceptable threshold of pollution, but taken together, they create zones of high cancer rates throughout the country, especially in the South, where environmental regulations are weaker. Other factors such as proximity to major roads or industrial farming operations are still missing from the map. Visit ProPublia’s Cancer Causes Industrial Air Pollution Map to explore and find areas impacted by pollution — and identify the industries most responsible.


How to Save Wildlife When Sitting Wind Farms

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Motivated by calls to transition the United State’s grid to cleaner sources, the Biden administration announced in March that it intends to build approximately 2,500 new offshore wind turbines (OWTs). However, OWTs can be harmful to the environment and it can be difficult to decide where they should go. Some researchers are particularly concerned about the impact of OWTs on whales. Enter a new tool by The Nature Conservancy.

The Conservancy’s Marine Mapping Tool is an interactive map with layers of data on marine life to help decision-makers site OWTs wisely. However, when using the tool, it’s difficult to find a stretch of coastal waters that isn’t flagged as habitat for a threatened species, and nearly impossible to find a spot with no life at all. Data can’t smooth out every conflict, but, as spatial ecologist Marta Ribera said in an interview with The Nature Conservancy, “The more people who use this information to understand the vast marine world when making decisions, the better.”

Explore the Marine Mapping Tool.


Butterflies are getting hotter

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Image by AdobeStock/Yuval Helfman

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Since the 1980s, the western monarch population has fallen 99 percent.

Science magazine published new research that shows that butterfly populations in the west have declined by an average 1.6 percent each year over the past forty years. The study used data from citizen and professional scientists. The causes for the butterflies’ decline are many, but researchers were able to single out warmer fall months, which suggests that global climate change is largely responsible.

This study builds upon previous research that has shown declining populations of butterflies around the globe. Recent research from Illinois has shown similar trends in declining butterfly populations. However, some species are more affected than others. In the last 40 years, the eastern monarch has seen a decline of 80 percent. The western monarch has fallen by an astonishing 99 percent. California was home to millions upon millions of migratory birds. However, last year there were only 10,000.

This study’s conclusion that global warming is a culprit is surprising, considering that butterfly populations tend to boom with warmer summers. In the study, researchers write, “This work shows that climate change impacts may be insidious and unexpected in their effects.” While local interventions for the butterflies may help, the need to limit global climate impacts as quickly as possible is clear.

Published Dec 30, 2021


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