Overcoming despair

A-Z of climate anxiety: how to avoid meltdown, The Guardian, Emma Beddington, 12/10/19

Eco anxiety isn’t pathological: it’s a legitimate reaction to the climate crisis.  It’s mentally healthy to feel this way.  It’s a sign of empathy.  The climate crisis is happening to all of us and experts agree the most effective responses to it are collective. When people find out that they are not alone, talking to other people about it, finding like-minded communities, is really powerful.

10 tips on disarming despair, Common Dreams, 11/20/19

Despair lives in isolation, while useful hope arises in connection.  Act now. Act often. To become more courageous, hang out with courage. Humans don’t require certainty in order to act.

Goodbye, American neoliberalism. A new era is here, The Guardian, Cornel West, 11/20/19

For us in these times, to even have hope is too abstract, too detached, too spectatorial.  Instead we must be a hope, a participant and a force for good as we face this catastrophe.

Redefining hope in a world threatened by climate change, Yale Climate Connections, SueEllen Campbell, 7/5/19

Active hope involves identifying the outcome we hope for and then playing an active role in bringing them about. We don’t wait until we are sure of success.  We don’t limit our choices to the outcomes that seem likely. Instead, we focus on what we truly, deeply long for, and then we proceed to take determined steps in that direction. Let’s replace “I hope” with “I resolve to do the work” or “I will be this kind of person, I will live this kind of life.” Hope is not about what we expect. It’s an embrace of the essential unknowability of the world. Hope is not a door but a sense that there might be a door. It’s the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what it may impact, are not things we can know beforehand.  It’s important to emphasize that hope is only a beginning; it’s not a substitute for action, only a basis for it.

Despairing about the climate crisis? Read this, Earth Island Journal, Laurie Mazur, 7/22/19

What’s interesting is that I’ve come to understand uncertainty as a necessary condition for hope. With radical hope you don’t know at all whether the outcome is positive or negative.  It is incredibly hard to look the realities we have created in the eye. The functional part is that we have to keep going regardless.


Americans broadly accept climate science, but many are fuzzy on the detailsWashington Post, Emily Guskin, 12/9/19

Overall, the top sources of greenhouse gases that cause climate change include electricity generation, transportation, agriculture, industrial production and deforestation.

The heat is on over the climate crisis.  Only radical measures will workThe Guardian, Gaia Vince, 5/19/19

It is feasible that there will planetary hearing of 4C by the end of the century. This will render the planet unrecognizable from anything humans have ever experience. We are transforming our world for many thousands of years into the future with millennia of rising sea levels, acidified oceans and intolerable tropical temperatures, just because we weren’t willing to pay the small differential between fossil-fuel prosperity and prosperity fueled by non-greenhouse-gas-emitting energy systems.

5 essential policies to enact the perfect climate crisis planNation of Change, Jackie Filson, 9/6/19

A halt on all new fossil fuel development.  An aggressive timeline for a shift to 100% clean, renewable energy. A federal commitment to public water. A transition away from corporate agriculture. A just, fair, and equitable process.

Twelve years to save Earth? Make that 18 months BBC, Matt McGrath, 8/1/19

If the 45% carbon cut target by 2030 is to be met, then the plans really need to be on the table by the end of 2020. People are demanding significant action, and politicians in many countries have woken up to these changes. The 2020 election will be decisive.

Yes, we can resolve the climate crisis. Common Dreams, David Suzuki, 7/5/19

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns we have less than a dozen years to cut emissions so that they don’t build to a point that puts us on a path to climate catastrophe. It’s time for us all to accept reality and work together to address the challenge.

How do we save this … planet? A 7 point response is giving people hope and some clear answers., Eric Pfeiffer, 8/27/19

Completely overhaul agriculture. Eliminate any non-recyclable single-use packaging or product. Make a World War II-style push to seriously address energy production. Close any waste loops. Utilize known and effective alternative building materials. Reduce protein intake, increase sustainable protein production. Subsidize and incentivize birth control.


The miracle of Finland: what a tiny northern Minnesota town can teach America. City Pages, Jacob Steinberg, 9/6/19.

How can we live a good life with minimal resources, so that everyone can live on the planet? If a regional system is going to have real teeth to it, it’s got to have all the processes in the production cycle.  There needs to be places that farmers can process their products to get more value out of them.

‘Great example’ of local organizing as Maine AFL-CIO signs onto #GreenNewDeal. Common Dreams, 4/17/19

A coalition of labor, farmers, students, teachers, small business owners, and legislators came together today to roll it out.

Anatomy of a grassroots campaign – Land Stewardship Project.,  Johanna Rupprecht, 3/29/17

How citizens in one Minnesota County put values into action to attain a win for the land and their community. The government works for the people, and we moved right along. By connecting all the people who came together to work for this goal, we made what seemed impossible, possible.  The whole is greater than the sum.

Exploring the future of wind development in Redwood County,, Tara Ritter

When it comes to issues that can be contentious, there are often insufficient forms of engagement to foster respectful conversation and bridge ideological divides.  It is imperative that community members are front and center in conversations about issues that will impact them directly.

Irish youth activists at first-ever climate assembly implore government to listen to science. Common Dreams, 11/15/19

The kids are united. Over 150 young people in Ireland shamed lawmakers and demanded sufficient action to address the climate crisis as they took part in a first of its kind event in the lower house of the parliament.

Businessman transforms vacant lots into farms with help from at-risk young men. 

In Chicago vacant lots are now growing flowers.  There is a high demand for domestic flowers since 80% of flowers are produced overseas.

Here comes the sun: solar schools project launches in central Minnesota.

            A group worked together to plant solar panels on six sites.

Durham residents can get free trees as part of an effort to increase shade in the city.

            Three community organizations are working together to give away free trees.

Republicans tried to rig the vote in Michigan – but political novices just defeated them.

A group called “Voters Not Politicians” succeeded in amending the Michigan Constitution by a 61% majority so re-districting cannot be partisan, that people together are still stronger than the people who occupy political seats.

Thousands of activists protests at three German coal mines to demand bolder climate policies.

            Activists declare that phasing out coal by 2035 isn’t soon enough.

“Green Amendment” movement demands constitutional right to clean environment.

The nation’s menu of environmental laws aren’t working.  Pennsylvania and Montana Green Amendments help fill in the gaps.

Pacific northwest fights fossil fuel industry’s push for fracked gas.

Explore how local communities are fighting the fossil fuel industry’s push for massive fracked gas project in Washington and Oregon.

Los Angeles school board commits to renewable energy after months of grassroots campaigning

This is what can happen when students, parents, teachers and school district leaders work together.

Municipal Actions

Several cities, towns and tribal communities in Wisconsin have already moved climate adaptation and mitigation to the top of their to-do-lists.

Duluth approves 5-cent fee for plastic bags

            The crowd erupted into cheers and claps when the City Council approved the new law.

Italy passes law to send unsold food to charities instead of dumpsters

            The bill received broad support across all political parties.

France declares all rooftops must be topped with plants or solar panels.

What it takes to be carbon-neutral – for a family, a city, a country

Denmark’s newly elected leaders are trying to turn the whole country into a showcase for how to go green without going bankrupt.

Sweden’s central bank dumps Australian bonds over high emissions.

The bank sold off bonds from Australia and Alberta, Canada because greenhouse gas emissions are too high.

Offering a national model, this New England town just banned natural gas and oil in new home construction

Brookline, Massachusetts passed a law by an overwhelming margin that will decrease carbon emissions from buildings by 15% over thirty years.

More solar coming to Mankato’s Northside

            Another large solar array to power 258 Minnesota homes.

RPU eyes agreement with local solar farm

Rochester City Council working with Rochester Solar LLC to use 100% renewable energy by 2030.

Nickel per single-use store bag approved by Minneapolis City Council

            The charge will begin in January, and the point is to get people to bring their own bags.

ECE celebrates new solar array

A new 15 acre site on city land in Cambridge that includes a low-growing, pollinator-friendly meadow.

Sherburne County may require solar farms to be pollinator-friendly, MPR News, Evan Frost, 9/30/19

Several solar companies have voiced support for Sherburne County’s proposal, saying they already routinely plant pollinator habitat.  They noted that native vegetation requires less maintenance and fertilizer than turf grass, and helps keep away noxious weeds.

Wind turbines are the new normal in some rural Michigan counties

Wind turbines have become so much a standard feature, an integral element of local society in some Michigan counties that officials don’t gush much about them anymore. Large tax revenues result from the turbines in a community.


Natural carbon capture and ‘working lands’ are gaining ground in climate-action playbook, MinnPost, Jack Ditmore, 7/15/19

Reforestation, planting cover crops, and limiting conversion of grassland to farmland could mitigate as much as one-fifth of the net annual greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.  A massive global effort to plant trees and to reforest up to 2.5 billion acres could have a significant impact in arresting and reversing climate change.

Re-wilding will make Britain a rainforest nation again

Photographer and his wife plant 2 million trees in 20 years to restore a destroyed forest and even the animals have returned

15% of all greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation.  Two people in Brazil have set an example

Reforesting the UK: trees are the ultimate long-term project

            The UK needs 1.5 billion new trees to tackle the climate crisis.

Planting billions of trees is the ‘best climate change solution available today,’ study finds

            Planting 500 billion trees could remove around 25% of existing carbon.

In just one decade, corporations destroyed 50 million hectares of forest – an area the size of Spain, Common Dreams, 6/13/19


Youth to Adults – Join us in the climate fight, Common Dreams, Bill McGibben, 8/21/19

The first invaluable principle is that solving the climate crisis will involve disrupting business as usual. Even amid the greatest physical crisis human civilization has ever faced, we mostly get up each morning and do the same things we did the day before.  There’s no guarantee that we can still solve the climate problem.  One can be excused for despairing, but not for walking away.  If a kid says help, you help.

“If burning fossil fuels was so bad that it threatened our very existence, how could we just continue like before?  Why were there no restrictions?  Why wasn’t it made illegal? Everyone keeps saying climate change is an existential threat and the most important issue of all, and yet they just carry on like before…”  Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg: ‘We are ignoring natural climate solutions,’ The Guardian, Damian Carrington, 9/19/19

We spend 1,000 times more on global fossil fuel subsidies than on nature-based solutions.  We need to protect, restore, and fund.  We must stop funding the things that destroy nature and instead pay for activities that help it.

The failure of the adults, New Republic, Lisa Featherstone, 12/6/19

During the early twentieth century, American children organized against their onw labor exploitation.  During the civil rights movement, black kids brave enough to integrate white schools drew admiration and sympathy.  Kids shouldn’t have to take political action to stop mass human extinction or keep armed madmen out of their schools. Adults need to join the youth movements and build power alongside them. Children have a rich tradition of taking political action on their own behalf. 


A call for climate-focused agricultural policy

House needs to go big to address climate crisis

The federal House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis will make a report in March on policies to respond to the climate crisis.

Food waste is a huge environmental problem.  Here are 5 ways to reduce yours

If factory farm conditions are unhealthy for animals, they’re bad for people too

How to reduce the carbon hoof-print: how a Minnesota farm family fights climate change, St. Cloud Times, Nora Hertel, 6/13/19

It’s not really my land.  I’m here for a short period of time. Cover crops go in the ground at the end of the regular growing season.  The family sells their products locally.  They implement regenerative agriculture, and sustainable grazing practices.

The secret to winning the Midwest: democrats must fight big agriculture, The Guardian, George Goehl, 9/4/19.

The 1996 Farm Bill stripped away the last remnants of farm programs that used to ensure farmers were paid fairly.  After this bill, farm prices plunged and farmers scrambled to stay on their land. Factory farms profit at the expense of rural communities, displacing family farmers, bypassing main street businesses, and polluting the air and groundwater.  Some candidates have come out in support of a ban on the expansion of factory farms.

From applies to popcorn, climate change is altering the foods America grows, N.Y. Times, Kim Severson, 4/30/19.

Climate change and a new agricultural system, IATP (Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy), Juliette Majot, 9/1/19.

We need to replace our current industrialized system by dismantling the power of large-scale corporate agribusiness to manipulate markets, drive consumer demand, and influence everything from our food safety regulatory system to the rules laid down in international trade agreements. All of the changes require the responsibility of people committed to our civic role in governance, mindful of the stakes, confident in our role’s legitimacy in a democracy, and tenacious in our determination to get it right.

Local farmer finds solar ‘crop’ keeps pollinators happy, Chisago County Press, 8/1/19

We only understand the tip of what bees, butterflies, etc. do in the vast ecology of things, but it’s obvious that when they are not thriving, this can’t be ignored.  The farmer installed an eight acre solar array with native grasses and flowers.

Organic farms are under attack from agribusiness, weakened standards, Nation of Change, Elizabeth Henderson,6/13/19.

Organic farming has brought environmental benefits – healthier soils, freedom from toxic pesticides and herbicides – to 6.5 million acres in the U.S.  Agribusiness has weakened standards to increase their bottom line and steal markets by underselling the farmers who observed the standards faithfully.

Paying farmers fairly could curb climate change and hunger, Nation of Change, Eric Holt-Gimenez & Heidi Kleiner, 6/17/19.

Parity is the notion that family farmers should be paid a fair price for their product.  Farmers had parity in 1914, but lost it.  Then President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the New Deal returned to parity prices. Not anymore. Parity policies today would stop the low-price/overproduction cycle that wastes resources, pollutes the environment, and sends farmers into debt.

Farming in Minnesota:  Climate will change what we grown and how we grow it, Star Tribune, Chris Mosel, 6/17/19.

We need to stop being fixated on equating the worth of farmland with the ability to raise two crops:  corn and soybeans. Farmers could use a cash grain crop at another time of the year, like the fall, and harvest the next growing season, or if it was a perennial grain, it could be planted once and yield year-after-year without tillage or fertilizer.

Climate change and agriculture: a perfect storm in farm country,, 5/22/19.

The industrial model that dominates our nation’s agriculture – a model that neglects soils, reduces diversity, and relies too heavily on fertilizers and pesticides – makes US farms susceptible to climate impacts in several ways.  Rainfall patterns are changing. There are rising temperatures, more extreme heat, fewer sufficiently cool days during the winter, and more frequent cold-season thaws. Floods, droughts, changes in crop and livestock viability, and new pests, pathogens, and weed problems, and degraded soils are upon us. Business as usual won’t protect the future of our food supply, or the well-being of the farmers and communities that produce it. We must invest in local capacity and infrastructure.

Rural politics, climate change and the 2020 elections, Part I, Nation of Change, Dan Sisken,5/30/19.

Rural America is of critical importance for climate change. There is an ongoing crisis of small, family farms: a crisis that is largely due to the emergence of a highly extractive, corporate farming economy that has become increasingly powerful, displacing and absorbing the smaller farms that have always been the foundation for rural communities. As Big Ag has come to dominate the entire supply chain, from inputs such as seeds and fertilizers to products like soy, corn and meat, small farmers have increasingly lost bargaining power, which severely squeezes profit margins and drives many into bankruptcy. The solution is to reverse the balance of power between rural communities – particularly small farms – and the corporate giants that govern them, while promoting economic dynamism to build local wealth and restore the ecological balance to agriculture.

How a closed-door meeting shows farmers are waking up on climate change, Politico, Helena Bottemiller Evich, 12/9/19.

Farmers and ranchers launched a working group to discuss climate change and how agriculture can help.  There is a growing recognition that farmers and ranchers should take control of the issue and make sure that any policy fixes work to their advantage. Food and agriculture companies are scrambling to meet consumer demands for more sustainably grown food. Maryland now leads the country in cover crops.  Farmer-led conversations.