In 2017 Anna Beale, Kate Beale and I launched the Earth Initiative (EI).
We used a platform that Steve Rockwell built and supported to host our posts. I had been Steve's friend and colleague all the way back to when he founded the Teaming for Technology Project at the United Way of Southeast Pennsylvania (think the Greater Philadelphia Region) - I was a member of his Advisory Board. T4T was an early play in addressing the digital divide. In many ways we had a blast. Many fun memories and stories from that time - including Steve climbing and crawling across rooftops in West Philadelphia ...
In May of 2020 Steve ported a select set of posts form that first phase of EI - to We the People.
In that gap from 2017 to 2020 was the headwinds from the chaotic Trump disaster.
Now we are circling back.
What we hope to bring to the table, and contribute are:
* The View from Here: news and inspiration from our Region and our travels
* Alerts: when we see major news, articles, essays, opinions, podcasts episodes that you might have missed. We have subscribed, for example to Orion Magazine for many years
OrionMagazine.org - a treasure
* Reflections from the growing body of literature on ecology, natural history, earth poetry, and more - when they carry themes and messages that might inspire all of us today
We will work to bring forward local micro-projects that cross our paths, like the Soil Generation coalition in Philadelphia.
We will write to shine a light on marvelous achievements, like the Dunes at Cape May Point, NJ.
We will bring our local perspective to the major Earth related news, as it breaks.
We have plans to launch a podcast too.
We hope to bring value to this budding community, and look forward to learning from all of you too!
My model is to always post here on WeThePeople first, and then to link to each post from my Facebook Page, with a brief subject line on the topic and then "I wrote about this here" - attempting to drive traffic to this site.
The wind and the waves favor the skilled sailor
Originally Posted on March 27, 2017
Thanks to my great grandmother, who migrated from County Cork in Ireland, to being a maid on Philadelphia's Main, Line saving until she could buy a bungalow near the seashore which she said reminded her of her girlhood on the Irish coast - I grew up spending my summers at Cape May Point. #
In a longer piece, I will go into the Point, how it became a world-renowned Bird Sanctuary, how they lost - and then rebuilt their dunes, there will be a steady stream.
But today's post begins with this article in today's Inquirer:
It's the story of how experts and volunteers are working to rebuild the dunes and protect the land all up and down the Jersey Coast. #
This from the article:
- As the beach grass grows, its roots - called rhizomes - form a weave within the sand which in turn forms a core for the dune. The blades of the grass on top of the surface also act to trap windblown sand, allowing the dune to retain the sand and grow naturally.
I have seen this first hand in Cape May Point.
When I was a kid, we were free to roam the dunes. As a young teen, that became forbidden, the dues restricted. I was affronted at the time!
But by now, I'm glad!
The dunes at the Point are, maybe, 100 yards wide at their widest? They run for maybe a mile along the Atlantic side of the town. They are lush, gorgeous, and a delight to fellow creatures ranging from the bunny, to the Autumn passing hawks, to the Monarch Butterflies who can swarm there.
A point I want to make is about the power of diversity there. The Inquirer article rightly sings the praises of the American beach grass - which is prevalent along Cape May Point's dunes, but those dunes also provide a home to scrub pine, bird-friendly poison ivy, golden rod, bay berry, beach plumb - to name just a few.
With this diversity, the resiliency of those dunes is greatly amplified.
A tip o the cap to Jacqueline Urgo, who covers the Jersey Shore for the Inquirer | @JacquelineUrgo Thanks Jacqueline!
Originally Posted on February 19, 2017
#CommonGround - and leveraging that to make sure that we and #OurAmazingWorld survive, and thrive.
Annals of "About Time" - Scientists finding their political voice
This from today's LA TImes:
Natural allies are finding
#CommonGround around the issues of #Climate and #OurAmazingWorld
Originally Posted on January 12, 2017
The Earth Initiative is all about our Environment, the Climate Crisis and Our Amazing World.
It would be impossible for us to move with too much alacrity on so many fronts; the Arctic is melting, we have lost 50 % of our wildlife over the past 40 years, cities in India and China are approaching unlivable given their smog, our Oceans are growing more acidic, ....
All of this has been happening in a setting that let us be scared, and hopeful. Clean power supplied almost all of Germany’s power demand for the first time on a Sunday in May
#Energiewende, California is home to the largest geothermal, wind, solar thermal and solar photovoltaic power plants in the world, President Obama create the world's largest Marine Preserve in August of 2016 only to be topped by the new world largest off the Antarctic in October - and of course there were the Paris Accords.
Then, the election.
Donald Trump has called global warming a “hoax,” insisted while campaigning for the Republican nomination that he’s “not a big believer in man-made climate change,” and suggested that “nobody really knows” if climate change exists.
A disaster. Just as the US had emerged as a leader in protecting
#OurAmazingWorld for future generations - we throw it in reverse (from the Federal Government Perspective at least - more about that below)
Soon after the election, the president-elect flashed some surprisingly hopeful signs.
He met with President Obama and left the impression that he was inclined to keep critical aspects of Obamacare - including protecting people with "prior conditions" (we have a dear on with Cystic Fibrosis - this one strikes close to home).
He and Ivanka (hope here? - her generation more inclined to believe in science?) met with Al Gore to discuss . Mr Gore's take away: "I had a lengthy and very productive session with the president-elect. It was a sincere search for areas of common ground... I found it an extremely interesting conversation, and to be continued, and I'm just going to leave it at that"
But as the Trump Cabinet has rolled out the quote that comes to mind is more the one from Michael Bloomberg; “I’m a New Yorker, and I know a con when I see one”. Many of the key selections who will have the chance to have an impact on our environment have a history of taking in-your-face, anti-environment stands.
On Climate and the Environment, we really do not have the luxury to wait and see!
We have ground that needs to be gained on many fronts, but one measure surely is that we need a roadmap that puts our fossil fuel era in our rear view mirror.
Note: The fossil fuel era has been, on balance, a tremendous boon for we humans. That era is about to dwindle, and come to an end - or we will.
About the candidates for the Trump Cabinet
The Environmental Protection Agency - Scott Pruitt
The Choice of Pruitt, Oklahoma's Attorney General, is indicative of the affront that the incoming administration has with the very concept of protecting the environment. This is a team that is closely aligned with, many have profited from the fossil fuel industry that the EPA is responsible for regulating.
David Goldston, the director of government affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council had this to say, "As far as we can tell there’s literally nothing in his record showing any indication of protecting the environment in any way that matters."
On Climate: “That debate is far from settled,” Pruitt said in May. “Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.”
The truth is, and Scott Pruitt knows it, is that the overwhelming consensus amongst scientists around the world is that global warming in upon us, and the primary driver is the human-driven spike in the levels of CO2 in our atmosphere - and the effects that has on out oceans.
The Energy Department - Rick Perry
This is the same department that Rick Perry wanted to scrap. What Trump & Perry are driving at here, is a totally unregulated US energy sector.
It is noteworthy that Perry famously forgot which Department he wanted to scrap, he could remember there were three ... ""I will tell you, it is three agencies of government when I get there that are gone: Commerce, Education, and — what's the third one there? Let's see,"
I wish this was funny
The Secretary of the Interior - Ryan Zinke
Ryan Zinke was a football player and geology major at the University of Oregon, spent nearly a quarter century as a Navy seal, before entering the Montana Senate in 2009, and the US House last year.
I will lean on Ben Wallace-Wells piece in the New Yorker, to provide the backdrop:
- Zinke’s perspective on public lands has been moderate, at least for the post-Tea Party era. He does not favor selling them off (though he would like to see more extraction). He is convinced that the climate is changing (though he has been more equivocal about the degree of human culpability). “You know, if you go up to Glacier Park and you have your lunch on one of the glaciers, you will see the glacier recede while you eat lunch,” Zinke said last year. For generations, the Interior Department has worked amid the tension between the promise of preservation and the promise of jobs, emphasizing conservation during Democratic Administrations and extraction during Republican ones. But those pressures are more poignant now, when the bleakness of rural places has deepened, when the shale towns provide examples of how a boom can grip a desolate place, and the land is the vector for hope.
Zinke brings a view from the American West - which has always differed from the big cities and back East. But something to work with here.
For the full article: http://www.newyorker.com/news/benjamin-wallace-wells/ryan-zinke-donald-trumps-pick-for-interior-secretary-and-the-rising-american-land-movements
The Agriculture Department - tbd (and that is causing concern ...)
Like fossil fuels, the era of Big Ag and the vast mono culture (single crop) plantings too, will need to pass.
For some insight into where we need to go, and why, see:
Watch for more on this from me.
It is unlikely, at the Federal level we will gain any ground on this under Trump - but the grass roots movement is already under way. May it be.
The Commerce Department - Wilbur Ross
The Commerce Department would be off my radar for this article, except that it contains and funds the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration - NOAA. NOAA does great and important work, focused on the conditions of the oceans and the atmosphere.
Wilbur Ross is a friend and fellow billionaire of Donald Trump. Ross has long railed against bad trade deals and the decline of manufacturing jobs in America. He made his fortune mostly by taking over distressed companies and turning them for a profit.
It seems unlikely that NOAA will be high on his agenda, and that his time and attention will be directed towards forging and amending trade deals - ad finding ways to boost American manufacturing.
The Secretary of State - Rex Tillerson
Rex Tillerson is, of course, the CEO of Exxon Mobil.
The Secretary of State is America's top statesman, in effect our ambassador to the world.
The Climate has risen to a level of concern around the world, that it has become a key diplomatic issue and concern.
As background: as chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson admitted that climate change is real. In January 2009, he said the company was in favor of a carbon tax. And a few years later, Exxon endorsed the Paris Agreement.
In his current Senate hearing for the position, Senator Tom Udall, a Democrat of New Mexico, asked Tillerson to share his “personal view” of climate change. Tillerson replied that after 20 years as a scientist and engineer, he had concluded that “the risk of climate change does exist.” He also believed “action should be taken”
Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee asked “Do you believe that human activity, based on science, is contributing?” Tillerson answered “The increase in greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is having an effect. Our ability to predict that effect is very limited,”
This is not as bad as the president-elect who is against the Paris Agreement and a climate denier - "a hoax", but "our ability to predict that effect is very limited" is far from where we need to be, and meant to be disheartening, discouraging.
Take heart. Have courage.
The Education Department - Betsy DeVos
Normally (ah, that word) I would not have included this office in this article. But these times are not normal, and in this ear of science denial and fake information - the role of education becomes all the more critical.
Although Betsy DeVos is from a fundamentalist Christian background, those who know her told the Washington Post she was unlikely to focus on hot-button issues like creationism or evolution, calling her a “free-enterprise conservative” concerned about the public good. So it seems likely that the science curriculum will be spared.
Let's not go here
I've attached a snapshot of Donald Trump's yacht, The Princess.
I have this nightmare vision of Trump Cruise Lines plying the open Arctic Ocean, while coastal cities around the world are flooded and mostly gone.
From the deck he is Tweeting his line from the Presidential debates, "that's business".
Where is the hope
With Trump as President and Republicans holding the Seated and the House - at the Federal Level, it seems like effective action on Environmental Protections and Climate are likely to be blocked.
Our best hope there is to blunt and slow and shame their retreat from the gains we have made at that level. And to join together around our birthright, the love of the natural world.
But that is just the federal level.
There is a big wheel already turning, and we should keep out shoulder to that wheel, keep that momentum going, gain momentum, together.
We will be exploring this in depth in the weeks and years ahead, and taking action as we go, but here are some seeds of hope:
- California, now the worlds sixth largest economy, has declared their independence and their defiance on issues that include their environment and the worlds Climate
- Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson, NIKE, Inc., Procter & Gamble, Salesforce, Starbucks, Steelcase, Voya Financial, and Walmart joined RE100 in September 2016, pledging to source 100% of their electricity from renewable energy to reduce CO2 emissions and seize the business benefits.
- Burlington, Vermont, Aspen, Colorado, and Greensburg, Kansas, are the first three cities in the country that can say they’re totally powered by renewable energy. Many more have pledged to join that list
- Sustainability Departments have popped up in States, Cities, Companies and Colleges and Universities around the country, finding and sharing innovative and creative ways to reduce waste and get more efficient
- As of March, 2016, there were 44,000 clean energy workers in Indiana
- Texas used wind to generate 18,000 cumulative megawatts of electricity in 2015 - enough to power close to 3 million homes.
The MacArthur Foundation is supporting the Five Great Forests Initiative, which aims to build a global movement to protect the world’s most precious forests.
Located in the Amazon, Congo Basin, tropical Southeast Asia and Melanesia, boreal North America and boreal Russia, the forests are regarded as irreplaceable for their potential contribution to reducing climate change mitigation and preserving biodiversity.
Our nation's move away from coal cannot be reversed - the economics are the driver
The Ross Sea Marine Protected Area, the worlds largest Marine Preserve was created off Antarctica in 2016
Hawaii is now home to an Ocean Reserve twice the size of Texas
The Cubs won the world series :- )
So there is hope.
We at the Earth Initiative will be following the trends and pointing to actions that we all can take - in our homes, our neighborhoods, our towns and cities - in our region.
Join in - just create an account and share your ideas
#OurAmazingWorld #climate #climatechange #earth2trump
Originally Posted on January 22, 2017
... in the real sense, it signifies nothing.
The new President can Tweet out his venom at
#ClimateChange - but Climate Change will not notice
It rolls on:
On the other hand, with the GOP, largely* a gathering of Deniers, in control of our Federal Government - it means that the US Government will stand aside from the work of averting the disater - at least for now.
* Credit where credit is do, there is a Climate Solutions Caucus in the House. In fact this was founded by two members of Congress from the southern tip of Florida - will be amongst the first to go under when there is sea rise - the issue strikes home for them.
As you will see there are currently nine Republican members of the caucus leadership team, tip o the cap to them! Eighteen in all
Perhaps the vision is for a dock from the 2nd floor of Trump tower? Whatever his gameplan - he surely is not concerned.
#Earth2Trump #ClimateHope #OurAmazingWorld #ClimateSolutionsCaucus
Originally Posted on November 16, 2016
In March, 2016, the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication issued this report.
Two key takeaways from the "Taking Action" section of the Report:
* Americans are most likely to say corporations and industry, and citizens themselves, should be doing more to address global warming
* Americans say schools should teach children about the causes, consequences, and potential solutions to global warming
Now, more than ever, right?
Amen to the "doing" and "teaching" recommended above
In the wake of the results of the recent elections in the US, The Earth Initiaive is rededicating our efforts to track efforts being made by
- Federal Government Agencies (voluntarily)
- Non Profits (either their own footprint - or though their Climate related initiatives)
- Apartment complexes
... efforts to increase sustainability, decrease the worst of the impact of the Climate Change that we are now experiencing, and to honor and protect
Track yes, and also to provide a picture of the work already being done across these United States to comply with the Paris Accords; common sense projects with their own momentum, independent of the way the wind is blowing for American Federal Policy.
Stay tuned for more on our
Originally Posted on November 24, 2016
If we love the natural world; if we want it to be there, intact, for us, our children, our grandchildren, for 7 generations ahead - we need to act, togther, now.
It does not matter who you voted for in our recent election - it does not matter who you would vote for if you could do it again - it only matters that we come togehter over this, that we work together to roll back the threats to the natural world.
Recently I attended an evening meeting sponsored by the Sierra Club of Pennsylvania; featuring Chrsitine Knapp, Director of the Office of Sustainabilty of the City of Philadelphia; featuring Aurora Winslade, the Sustainabilty Director at Swarthmore College; hosted by the Center for Business & Industry at that great institution, the Community College of Philadelphia.
Great panel, I arrived excited, wondering how many would be in the room, 50? more?
Closer to 20, it turned out.
The presentations, as I expected, were deeply informative, on point, inspiring. A real peek behind the scenes at the important work being done, the critical work ahead.
This Monday, I signed into a lunchtime webinar; hosted by the Pennsylvania League of Conservation Voters; featuring Josh McNeill from the PA LCV; featuring Matthew Stepp, Director of Policy for PennFuture; featuring Joanne Kilgour, President of the Sierra Club, Pennsylvania.
Again great panel, again I arived excited - turnout this time was 17.
So it was a Wednesday night, a workday - but somehow I felt there was a disconnect. Where were we?
The Action Challenge | The Opportunity
Are a member fo the NJ Audobon Society - bird watch in Cape May
Hike the Appalachian Trail
Are a Susquehanna River Keeper
Belong to Ducks Unlimited
An NRA Member and hunt
Attend talks, join walks, tend trails with the Friends of the Wissahickon
Volunteer for the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary
Make it a point to get out and see Venus when she's the bright Morning Star
If you just love our great outdoors - we need to band together to protect the land, the waters, the life we love.
We must make the demand - together.
We can walk in the path of giants:
- Aldo Leopold
- John Muir
- Rachel Carson
- Teddy Roosevelt
- Sylvia Earle
All of that, important, points in the right direction I feel sure.
Now, how to do it?
This requires a single, broad partnership:
All of us who love
#OurAmazingWorld, that love reinforced everytime we go out into it
Those of us who dedicate their work, their professions to protecting, improving the quality of our natural world
Those of us who dedicate a protion of their time, of their life to public service - who run for and hold office - who influence the tenor and the content of our laws
Earth Intitiative will strive to:
Provide a platform and a space where we can share our stories, our experiences
Provide an Exchange where Action Challenges can be made, and Actions taken
Develop ways to track and measure these actions, and their impact
Provide a platform where the professionals and lobbyists can appeal to us to take the most timely and impactful actions - as a community
Develop ways to ensure that this does not become a constant drumbeat to take every action - help fund every good cause. To find a way, as a community, to arrive at priorities, and work to accomplish them
We have begun this work and we spend a lot of time thinking, together, about what needs to be done, and how best to do it.
But we do not have all the how-to answers. We will need your help with that, too
The Earth Initiative Founding Team
Originally Posted on November 28, 2016
From Today's LA Times Daily Brief:
Originally Posted on December 14, 2016
"Live", from the Whithouse: https://www.facebook.com/WhiteHouse/videos/vb.63811549237/1015503460928
“In this effort, Joe Biden has rallied not just Congress, but he has rallied a tremendous collection of researchers and doctors, philanthropists, patients. He’s showing us that with the right investments and the ingenuity of the American people, to quote him, ‘There isn’t anything we can’t do.’ So I'd like everybody to just please join me in thanking what I consider to be the finest Vice President in history—Joe Biden.” —President Obama signing the 21st Century Cures Act, a bipartisan effort that provides vital resources to address the opioid epidemic, support the medical breakthroughs of tomorrow, and invest in Vice President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot to end cancer once and for all: go.wh.gov/CuresAct
Bravo - I think - thoughts?
Is this a model for Government | Private Sector partnerships?
I for one, would love to see one for our Natural World, Wildlife (we have lost 50% in the last 40 years), and the damage that the spike in CO2 is doing to our climate and oceans.
There is very little doubt about that in the military, the insurance agencies, the corporate world in general, the community of scientists, the world.
We are now tracking through familiar territory - the tobacco industry denying the health effects of cigarettes. See the Cancer section of this
Here is a condensed timeline:
1900s - articles addressing the health effects of smoking began to appear in scientific and medical journals.
1944 - American Cancer Society warns about possible ill effects of smoking
1952 - my Mother was smoking then, Reader's Digest published "Cancer by the Carton"
1954 - the major U.S. tobacco companies formed the Tobacco Industry Research Council to counter the growing health concerns.
With counsel from TIRC, tobacco companies began mass-marketing filtered cigarettes and low-tar formulations that promised a "healthier" smoke. The public responded, and soon sales were booming again.
US tobacco hires paid staff to lie to the public about the dangers of their product - to protect their profits.
To a few, the reaction to that last is "duh" - what else?
To the vast majority of us, the reaction is what the f#ck.
We need to shorten the timeline this time. We can't wait for the Trump Administration to implode or expire.
This from the Washington Post, yesterday, re accelerated warming in the Arctic - warming hits overdrive:
We, the people, need to move on this.
Originally Posted on November 27, 2016
Dave Taft runs a charming, informative seires in the New York Times - NYC Nature. It runs many sundays in the Metroplitan Section - I make it a point to flip through, hoping for the latest.
Dave's writing is always vivid, today I could feel the healthy glow of post Thanksgiving, outdoors, cool, almost cold sunny day - near the great Atlantic.
He also includes locations where sightings are likely, local to NYC. I am sure there is a small corps of denizens who frequently follow his lead and go out in search - just for the love of it.
Each of these essays are short, all dedicated to the natural world
#EI Recommended #OurAmazingWorld
This weeks article includes this, one of those wonders of nature:
"Like other goldenrods, seaside goldenrod hosts a number of insect parasites that lay eggs in the plant’s living stems. As the stem dries in winter, it swells to encase the developing larvae in woody protection. This valuable food source is enormously attractive to overwintering insectivorous birds like downy woodpeckers, which can be observed far from their familiar woodland homes, hammering at the dried goldenrod stems and disturbing the peace behind the dunes, while foraging for a winter meal."
Cycles like this: seaside goldenrod, parasitic larvae, downwoodpecker - always just outside our ken, right? Perhaps miraculous is the wrong word, but doe me it glimmers.
#Climate #EI Recommended #OurAmazingWorld #Local #NYC #NYTimes
Originally Posted on May 15, 2017
It is a cool and sunny Sunday here in Philadelphia - following 36 hours of heavy rain - rain washed - and Mother's Day.
To stop and say to ourselves Mother Earth - is not a cliche - it is a mythic and archetypal truth.
We get the Sunday NY Times and the delivery was late, serendipity I think. I took my coffee and The Drop, the periodic Membership pamphlet from the marvelous (and admirable - such clear and focused thinkers!) SurfRider Foundation . They reminded me, for each of us, there are most important things.
As a founding member of the Earth Initiative team, these two are mine.
One of them is this:
- The Point:
Our Love of the Natural World can bring us together, over all of our modern divides.
If we love the natural world; if we want it to be there, intact, for us, our children, our grandchildren, for 7 generations ahead - we need to act, together, now.
It does not matter who you voted for in our recent election - it does not matter who you would vote for if you could do it again - it only matters that we come together over this, that we work together to roll back the threats to the natural world.
- I wrote about this here: * A Call to Action: Citizen Naturalists | Citizen Sportsmen | Citizens out of doors
The second is that we need to move from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to the Environmental Protection Movement (the EPM)
- We, the humans, need to include and transcend the cycles of Quarterly Profit, Election Cycles, for we the elders even our own mercurial Life Span. We need to ban together to take the Longer View and the Common Good.
- The last election and the current regime have put us on alert - the US Government is subject to the tempests of political resentments and currents. When we have an EPA, we should celebrate, cherish, be grateful. When it is being dismantled, we should resist in every way we can. We should realize that the EPA is not enough, we cannot rely on it for the long run.
- It would require a Great Coming Together (think of the way America came together, sacrificed, in WWII.
- It would mean all of the marvelous organizations, already working hard to cherish and protect out natural world - in our homes and in daily lives, locally, at our schools and workplaces, across our nations, around the world - to all row together.
- Egos would need to be put aside, who would lead this Movement? Where would the funds go? What is the Mission? (a thought - fund new work for professionals who, in frustration, leave the EPA)
Does either, or both of these ideas speak to you?
Have ideas about the path ahead?
Please weigh in (better, way in?)
Our clock is ticking.
#Climate #OurAmazingWorld #Surfrider #Naturalist #Sportsmen #OutofDoors #BeInconvenient