Ecosia and The Rainforest Site

Trees are among our best allies against climate change: they absorb carbon dioxide and lock it up as wood fibre.  In the process, they produce the oxygen we inhale and purify the air we breathe.

Not everyone has the time or place to plant a tree – but you can support trees and forests every time you browse the internet:

  • Use org as your default internet search engine, because every search helps fund the planting of trees – over 7.5 million so far!
  • Set The Rainforest Site as your web browser default home page. With a simple click, you can preserve one square meter of rainforest each day – a small amount, but last year, enough people clicked to preserve 3600 hectares of rainforest!

And, if you do happen to have the time and space, May is the perfect time to plant or transplant a tree!

Protect your assets from climate change threats

If you think climate change isn’t an issue for investors, think again.  Climate change will bring costly extreme weather events; new rules and regulations; disruptive technology; changed buying patterns and more.

A recent report by the world’s largest institutional fund management company, BlackRock Investment Institute, states, “We believe climate factors have been underappreciated and underpriced.”  The report concludes, “We see climate-proofing portfolios as a key consideration for all asset owners.”

Are your investments and pensions protected?  Here are a few strategies to help ensure they are.

Popcorn, beverages – and something to talk about

Have you seen Leonardo DiCaprio’s new National Geographic documentary, “Before the Flood”?  Released last month, the 95 minute movie offers a great overview of the causes of climate change (and other environmental challenges we face); and then bridges over to the solutions we need.  It features interviews with Barack Obama, Pope Francis, Elon Musk and more.

From the Obama interview, this prophetic exchange:

Dicaprio: “Somebody that comes into office that does not believe in the science of climate change – do they have the capacity and the power to dismantle everything that you’ve already worked for?”

Obama: “Even if somebody came in campaigning on denying climate science, reality has a way of… hitting you in the nose if you’re not paying attention.  And I think that the public is starting to realize the science – in part because it’s indisputable.”

Before the Flood is informative and thought-provoking – a perfect reason for a party-with-purpose.  Watch the entire documentary on YouTube here, and then get talking!

Sunscreen is as much a part of summer as ice cream is. But have you ever paused to wonder just what’s in that stuff you put on your skin? (I’m definitely wondering, given what it does to my shirt collars and sleeves.)

Do a bit of research and you quickly realize that finding the very best sunscreen is a complicated affair. Perhaps the simplest, clearest advice comes from David Suzuki’s Queen of Green: choose a sunscreen that:

  • Is well rated by the Environmental Working Group
  • Offers broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays
  • Is free of toxic materials, particularly oxybenzone and retinyl palmate (a form of vitamin A)
  • Is a cream, not a spray or powder
  • Offers SPF 30 protection (lower is not enough, higher offers negligible extra protection)

(Of course, the best protection comes from covering up with a good hat and clothing, and avoiding the midday sun altogether.)

Enjoy this summer with safe, effective, eco-friendly sunscreen!

‘An Inconvenient Truth’ ten years on

I still get goosebumps when I think back to April 9, 2007.

I had just arrived at the Nashville Hilton to attend a training session led by former US Vice President Al Gore.  Knowing that Mr. Gore would kick things off with a live presentation of his newly-famous slideshow, I claimed myself a front-row-centre seat in the hotel ballroom.

The place was buzzing with anticipation as the MC went through her opening remarks.  Then, with a quick glance to the side of the room, she announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, the Honourable Al Gore” – and in walked the former VP.

For the next 90 minutes, I and 200 other trainees from around the world sat mesmerized as he presented his Oscar-winning slideshow about our climate crisis.  I introduced myself at a reception later that evening, and this photo was taken.  And two days later I came home and changed my life and my career.  For me, it was an epiphanal experience.

Gore
Yesterday, May 24, marked the tenth anniversary of the release of “An Inconvenient Truth”, the documentary that awakened the world to climate change.  Much has happened over the past decade – both convenient and inconvenient – but much remains to be done.

Even as we take heart in the progress made, may each of us face forward with renewed resolve to solve our climate crisis: to make changes in our own lives, and to demand action of our political leaders, regardless of political affiliation.

“Chasing Ice”, a visual treat to move and motivate

If summer is the time for movies, may I suggest Chasing Ice? It was released in 2012, but I’m guessing you haven’t seen it.

Chasing Ice follows photographer James Balog – initially a climate change sceptic – as he captures time lapse images of glaciers in Greenland, Iceland and Alaska. But the result is much more than just pretty pictures.

If you enjoy being visually blown away, hauntingly challenged and deeply motivated, get in front of the biggest screen you can find and watch Chasing Ice. It’s available on Netflix, on iTunes and probably at your local library. Get a taste by watching the trailer.

Three keys

April 28, 2015

The three most important things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint

If you’re like me, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed with the complexities of climate change and our other environmental challenges. And, amid a flood of information, you might be wondering, “Really, what are the most important things I can do to make a difference?” In the spirit of last week’s Earth Day, here are my nominees:

  1. Drive less: every litre of gas we burn is one litre less we can burn if we wish to limit climate change. So walk, bike, take transit, carpool – anything to drive less.
  2. Strive to think ‘Reduce’, the most important of the three Rs, every time you flip a switch, turn a tap, touch a thermostat or operate an appliance.
  3. Contact your elected representatives via phone, mail or email to demand action, because climate-friendly laws and policies are absolutely essential to global solutions.

The Fulfillment Curve

November 25, 2014

It’s well documented that spending on basic necessities gives us lots of fulfillment, and spending on creature comforts gives us some added fulfillment.

But beyond that, the more we spend, the less fulfillment we get. In fact, we actually reach a point where our happiness peaks – and spending beyond that point clutters our lives and makes us less happy. That peak point is called ‘enough’ – check it out in this illustration:

Fulfillment Curve

Most subscribers to this newsletter are, like me, blessed to be living in a land of plenty – and are probably, like me, beyond ‘enough’ when it comes to stuff. Consumerism may be good for our economy, but it contributes to resource depletion, climate change and other environmental challenges. Perhaps worse, consumerism has led us to worship stuff: it seems the more we have, the better. The cost has been an erosion of our spirituality, our relationships and our sense of community.

Perhaps there is a better way – one that involves pondering our own interpretation of what’s ‘enough’.

A sustainability thought on the threshold of Black Friday and the coming Christmas shopping frenzy. (Check out Buy Nothing Day, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buy_Nothing_Day, the countermovement now present in more than 65 countries.)

Thanks to www.uua.org for the illustration.

A resolution of resolve

January 8, 2013

Is climate change a problem of TECHNOLOGY or POLITICS?

Truthfully, it’s probably both – but these days it may be more of the latter.

These days, we have many technologies available to help us solve the climate crisis – from wind, solar, tide and wave energy; to high-efficiency buildings that produce more energy than they use; to real-time ridesharing via smart-phones.

But solutions don’t happen without political will, appropriate policies and strategic funding – all of which seem lamentably scarce these days.

That’s where you and I come in.  As astrophysicist Carl Sagan said, “Anything else you’re interested in is not going to happen if you can’t breathe the air and drink the water.  Don’t sit this one out.  You are by accident of fate alive at an absolutely critical moment in the history of our planet.”

So – please make it your resolution not to sit this one out.  I can’t overemphasize how much your involvement, in ways large or small, is needed.  Here’s more on the ‘why’ plus some simple suggestions for ‘how’.

Happy New Year 2013 – may it be a pivotal year for climate change action.

24 Hours of Reality: The Dirty Weather Report

2012 has been a year of crazy weather extremes: from the devastating drought that scorched much of North America last summer, to the destructive force of Hurricane Sandy, to the 80 mm of rain that caused flooding in my community three weeks ago.

If you’re wondering about the link between weird weather and climate change, tune in to 24 Hours of Reality November 14-15.  It’s a marathon 24-hour program to be livestreamed globally starting November 14 at 8 PM Eastern.  It will feature clear, science-based explanations of the link between climate change and extreme weather; climate news from around the world; and solutions.  The finale will be presented live from New York November 15 at 7 PM Eastern by Hon. Al Gore.

Watch an 80 second promo here; and watch the event itself here (scroll down for the hour-by-hour schedule).  You can watch as much or as little as you like.  And please forward the links to your friends and share on your networks!