Climate Reality with Melodysheep

So excited… Here is a mash up of my two favourite things, Climate Reality, and auto-tune superstar, Melodysheep.

This Earth is the one
we have to care about.
It is the only Earth
that we will ever have,
or love.
This Earth is the one
we have to care about.
It is the only Earth
that we will ever have.

Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy off the Carolinas

Hurricane Sandy has dealt her devastating blow.

She was the largest storm to hit the northeast US.  Ever.

Why are we having 100 year storms, fires, floods and droughts, all in the same year?

Could something else be going on here?

It is time to end climate change silence.

It is happening, it is upon us.  What will it take for us to wake up and take it seriously?  Another record-breaking storm?  Another devastating drought?  More changes to arable land so that we can’t even grow enough food to feed ourselves?

There are forces against these wake-up calls – namely big oil and big corporates that trick us into wanting more, more, more.   They fund political campaigns, they fund television commercials telling us that it is not all so bad, and they change public perception for their own interests.

Much to our own peril, we continue to listen to these corporations instead of the dire warnings of 97% of climate scientists.  We continue to ignore the nagging notion in the back our heart that something is just not right.

Instead, we tell ourselves that our government has it under control, and that they will act in the best interests in the people and our future.

But our governments are not acting.  They are ignoring climate change and its devastating consequences.

Who will have the courage to end their part in climate change silence?

Who among you will start talking about it, writing about it, getting mad about it?

Who will speak for the children who have no voice, yet will inherit this very scary and uncertain future?

Who will start to care?

 

Green Dream

On March 25th, 2011 I had a dream.  A green dream.  It went something like this:

I wake up in the morning, pull back the covers of my organic sheets, slip on my slippers that I knit from local wool, and then jump into a 3 minute luke warm shower to wash my hair using shampoo I made from my own liquid soap, using all natural ingredients. Then I pop into a cute bamboo dress that looks the same as when I bought it 10 years ago and go and wake up my kids. Walking into their rooms I notice their all natural toys, made from sustainable wood or other materials. I help them get dressed, in beautiful clothes made out of hemp and organic cotton, all locally made, some sewed with loving care by me. We trundle down the hall for breakfast. I pull out the local organic oatmeal, top it with some local honey, blueberries from our own bush and slug of local organic milk. We then all eat our breakfast as the sun shines into the kitchen, over the leaves of our indoor herb garden, and talk about what we want to do that day.

We decide to check out our garden first, so we slip on our handcrafted shoes and step outside. First we check the tomatoes, and the kids each pluck off a plump cherry tomato from the vine and pop it into their mouths. We take a look at how the cucumbers and herbs were coming along, before moving onto the raspberry patch. These had mostly been picked already and were now nicely preserved in our house in the form of jam and syrup, with a few extras frozen as well. Next we notice the zucchini, some of which needs to be picked. My son runs and gets the basket, and my daughter carefully twists a few of them off the plant. We decide to pull out some carrots and potatoes also. The peas and beans had all been picked, and the extras are also now preserved in our house. We walk on and notice that the apples will be ready soon. We are still getting some strawberries on our everbearing plants, so we pop a few into the basket, and a few more into our mouths. We stopped to notice the lilies, daisies and corabells, swaying in the gentle breeze. We decide to sit down for a while, and just soak in the sunshine and watch the birds flit about in our great big tree.

Before going back into the house, I look up to our roof, where a series of solar panels are also soaking up the rays. I smile with the knowledge that we are actually producing more power than we are using these days. As we walk around the house to go back in, we walk past our rainwater storage tank, used to water our garden, and vital for an emergency drought situation.

Back inside the kids and I decide to go to the new exhibit at the museum downtown. So I pack a light lunch of sandwiches made from homemade bread, some of our strawberries, some local cheese and water decanter for each. We set off for the bus stop. A hybrid bus pulls up to greet us and takes us off to our destination.

After the museum, we decide to pop into the library to pick out some books we are each interested in. On the bus ride home, we sit together and reflect what we saw and learned at the museum. Once home, the kids go off and do their own thing while I whip up a couple fresh new loaves of bread using local flour, and watch the birds out the window as I knead the dough, back and forth, back and forth. I set the dough to the side to rise for an hour or so, and then wash the dishes by hand using liquid soap I made myself. I then decide to put on a load of laundry into my ultra efficient washer, and use my homemade laundry soap. I hang up the clothes to dry on the line outside, where the sun is just starting to get a bit lower in the sky. I notice and appreciate each article of clothing as it passes through my hands.

My husband comes home, and is carrying a reusable glass jug of organic milk that he picked up on his walk home from the bus stop. I am just pulling the bread out of the oven, and the whole house is filled with the smell of bread goodness. We eat supper together – homemade pizza from local flour, topped with local organic goat cheese, tomato sauce I made last year from garden tomatoes and preserved, as well as other goodies from our garden. My husband and I savour a glass of cherry wine that we made ourselves last fall from our own cherry tree. Later on that evening, we all sit together and play music and talk to each other. I knit a new wool sweater for my daughter – it is a dark cherry red colour, and will be perfect for fall.

The sun starts to go down, so we switch on one LED powered light. The kids go off to bed. We pour another glass of wine and look out the window at the stars.

Our Biggest Challenge

Well it has been quiet here on this little blog for a while… partly because life is busy and partly because I feel overwhelmed by the enormity of it all.  I had to take a step back.

In the meantime, I have found an amazing artist that writes music and produces videos using clips from science based tv shows and documentaries.  He makes science interesting and fun for kids.  He has videos about dinosaurs, quantum physics, space, and the human brain!  There are so many good ones.  He also completed a contract with PBS where he did a remix of each of Mr. Rogers, Julia Childs and Bob Ross.

He is melodysheep on YouTube, and John Boswell in real life.  He has just released his latest video, titled our Biggest Challenge, a video about climate change.  I had to share.

To quote from his lyrics:

We can do this.
We can change the world.
Science offers us answers to these huge challenges.

Path before me

I wonder where this will all go.
Where I will be,
How I will contribute.
Will I be ready if necessary?
Will my children?
How we leave this world?
How will it all end?

Part of me wants to write a book.  Part of me wants to scribe this experience, with the hopes that others will learn from it.  How much value would that add?  Would it even make a difference?

Part of me wants to walk through the halls of higher learning.  I want to understand the issues we are facing in detail.  I want to be an expert.  Perhaps then people will listen to me?  Perhaps then I can divert my full energy to making a difference?

Part of me wants to start a non-profit organization, promoting local food and local artisans.  Perhaps by facing our consumption habits head on, will we realize that true happiness can only be found through connections with others and with nature?

Part of me wants to work for a non-profit organization, pouring my energies into solutions for change, for the good of all, for our communities, for each other.  Can I use my background as a stepping stone to get there?

These are the choices before me.  Which path I will take, I do not know.

English: Path next to the Nutbook Trail

I Hope.

Another year, another time for reflection. Did I accomplish the things I set out to do? In many ways, it was a changing year in my life, where I modified my habits and my thinking and my way of living. I saw the world in a different light. I saw the challenge before us, and stepped forward to make a change. I held on to a desperate hopefulness, that the changes I was making would make a difference, somewhere, somehow, beyond my little life, outside my little house.

So did they? I poured so much effort into these changes. I built a garden, not knowing how, but learning along the way. I started making bread and most other things from scratch. I preserved mountains of food, built a cold room… So many projects, so many brand new experiences, all with one goal, all with one end – to reduce the environmental footprint my household has on this fragile world, with the hope and the dream that I could inspire others to do the same.

Over the last couple days, as my hands were busy with these household tasks – kneading bread, hanging laundry on the line – my mind was free to wander and contemplate it all. Were my efforts effective? Has it been worth it?

Sometimes, I waver. I wonder if it is worth fighting for, if the story has already been written. Are the forces against us are just too strong, too well-funded, too entrenched? Will it all not matter in the end anyway? After all, the changes require a such a cultural shift. We will need to define ourselves as citizens instead of consumers, as neighbours instead of individuals, and as part of nature instead of against nature.

Are we up to the task? Can we rise to the challenge? Can we transcend our fate?

I hope.

So for this brand new year, I march on.  How can I use my life to make this world a better place?  I have drawn up a list of 10 resolutions, as I did last year:

  1. Learn to make soap with a friend
  2. Crochet clothes for my family – slippers, hats, mittens, scarves, sweaters
  3. Expand the garden – grow more food
  4. Expand food preservation – canning, dehydrating and possibly get a pressure canner
  5. Hatch a plan for making/sourcing gifts throughout the year
  6. Increase insulation of the house and add weather-stripping
  7. Join an environmental organization
  8. Write 26 letters to leaders
  9. Get a bike and ride it
  10. Live for today.

What do you resolve to do this new year? Does it bring positive change to your life or to our world?

I leave you with an inspiring song by the Dixie Chicks – I Hope.

Our children are watching us,
They put their trust in us,
They’re gonna be like us.
So let’s learn from our history
And do it differently.

Happy New Year everyone. J

Kick it old school

I am going to kick it old school on this blog. Since I have been blogging for about a year now, I am going to go back to my roots, where I started with this. I am going to bring it full circle. I am going to talk about going green.

Back in the day, before I even started this blog or woke up to the climate change issue, I used to think only people who were hip and cool were going green. I am not sure why I thought that. Perhaps it was because I saw hip and cool models in magazines, showcasing their hemp dresses and organic makeup. Their hair touched only all natural hair products and their flooring was bamboo. They used artisanal soaps and drank local red wine. They were trendsetters, they were cutting edge. Could I be too?

As I flipped the magazine pages and the TV channels, I maintained a quiet indifference. The products were interesting, they were different, but they are probably more expensive. Was the expense worth it? Nah. I kept flipping.

Well it turns out that going green is not expensive, because it is not about buying new stuff. It is about using the materials and resources that pass through your hands with care. This means using less and consuming less. This means making do with what you have. You bake your own, make your own, grow your own. You live on the cheap, not to save money, but because becoming a non-consumer is about as green as you can get. Seriously.

So I didn’t rush out and buy all the new environmentally friendly products. Mostly I stayed home and learned more about my kitchen and more about the food growing potential of my yard. I slowed down and simplified. I fed my children fresh, local organic food. I baked bread. I made meals from scratch. I showered less. I stopped buying new clothes.

So what does going green mean to you? Does it mean becoming trendy and cool? Does it mean becoming a hippie? Does it mean becoming a Suzy homemaker? Does it mean having greasy hair and old clothes?

I am going to start a new series on this blog called Going Green. Each day I will pick a consumption habit, and describe it in terms of a sliding green scale. Where do you fit in the scale? Are you are dabbler, beginner or a hardcore greenie? The sliding green scale will tell all. I will include a poll with each post where you can indicate your comfortable level of green.

Our first topic will be COFFEE. Stay tuned!

Blogiversary

It is my blogiversary.

One year ago, I posted “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and it was. It was 27°C (-17°F) that night and I had just decided to turn down my thermostat. Brrr.

I wanted to go green and spread green, and thought a blog was one way to do it. I started with the easy changes, ones that require almost no extra effort – reusable coffee cups, reusable bags, turning out the lights. I switched my almost potty trained daughter to cloth diapers at night. I still get search hits on night time diapers from that post….

Then I started really noticing all the garbage around me, the stuff I was creating, the stuff I was responsible for. Toy packaging, Styrofoam, food packaging, napkins, wrapping paper – I made a commitment for each.

Next I looked at my energy consumption. I started a spreadsheet and tracked my power and gas usage. I started running the dishwasher at night, changed all my light bulbs and air dried our clothes. My power bills dropped immediately. Saving money was fun!

Then I looked at what I was consuming, in the material sense. I had a mind blowing experience in Wal-Mart. I made New Year’s resolution to buy nothing new for three months. It seemed like it would be really hard but it just… wasn’t. It felt good and I am still committed to it. I use what I have. I don’t waste. TV commercials annoy me now. My bank balance continues to grow…

Then I got started with food. At first it was to the shop the bulk bins to cut down on garbage, and to make it and bake it where possible. Then I learned about local food and the 100-Mile Diet. I was hooked.

I went to the Farmer’s market to buy local food for the first time. I was beaming on the inside. This just felt so right.

Then in the dead of winter, I started planning my first garden. I learned about tomatoes and beans and onions and carrots and how to grow them.

I bought a composter. I made a seed plan, a garden plan, and raised plant babies from seed. I built garden beds. We planted it all outside. It grew. We harvested.

I made jam. I climbed apple trees and made apple sauce. I rescued local fruit hidden in my city through OFRE. I went out to farmer’s fields with my kids and we picked strawberries and raspberries and peas. I built a cold room. I made canned pickles and peaches and strawberries and raspberries and tomato sauce and salsa. I jarred over 150 jars. I froze cherries and corn and peas. I put it all up for the winter.

While doing all this I was reading books and watching documentaries, like No Impact Man, 100-Mile Diet, Tipping Point, The Age of Stupid, Economics of Happiness, Food Inc., Dirt! and Home. They opened my eyes and continue to inspire me.

As the months went by, things started to get a bit political. I was frustrated and things got messy. I felt angry and sad, but defiantly hopeful. I got the greenie blues. I considered free hugs.

Then people all over the world started occupying squares and parks and saying that they wanted a government that did not play into the best interest of corporations before citizens. I saw this as a breakthrough for the climate change issue. We needed to Occupy Earth.

It has been a wild ride, and I thank all of you who have come along with me on this journey to go green and spread green and to build love, hope and optimism for a brighter future.

Cheers.

Home

Everyone who lives on this Earth has a responsibility to watch the film “Home” by Yann Arthus-Bertand.  It will take you for the ride of your life.

It is a breathtaking journey of the splendours our beautiful planet, covering all continents and many countries. We are awed by the images so rarely seen, taken as if from an outside observer from space. Some are so startlingly beautiful, and you can’t quite piece together what you are looking at. All of them are natural wonders, and all of them remind us of the bounty and miracle of the place we call home.

Then reality sets in, as scenes move from untouched wonders, to scarred and battered lands. Splendid wilderness gives way to industrialization, where humans have changed things. The land bears the most obvious visual changes, but we can see it also in the dwindling water. What we can’t see, but is most dangerous, is how we have changed the air.

Near the end of the film enormous weight of the problem hits home. This sacred place in the universe, teaming with life, is under threat. Is it too late?

No.

But we only have 10 years to turn it around.

And turn it around we can. There are changes that are happening in such diverse places as Denmark, Gabon, Germany, South Korea, Costa Rica and Iceland.

I start to cry.

I know the dismal state we are in. I know the hour is late. The film illustrates this with striking artistry and beauty that I have never seen before in my life. I am overjoyed and deeply saddened by it at the same time. Truly knowing what we have, and how close we are to losing it, leaves you on the precipice of hope – for where else can you be?

I cry because of the examples of hope that are provided at the end of the film. Real actions are being taken that have real impacts, big impacts. There is a way out and we have the technology and the knowledge to do it today. So I cry tears of joy, because of the affirmation that it is possible, that change is not just happening in some places, it is happening in many places.

Home.*

We all need to change. We need to act individually, by setting the example for others. But we also need to act together.

We only have one Home.

*many thanks to Only One Earth for posting this video.