For a great many of us, our dog or cat is a dear companion. ¬†
How we care for our pet matters, for the animal’s well-being, of course, and also for the well-being of our planet. ¬†One way our pets impact the environment is through their waste–that’s right, poop. ¬†Our nation’s dogs and cats produce more than six million tons of it a year! ¬†And there are pathogens in these dogs’ and cats’ feces that are transmissible to humans and wildlife.
Dog poop can contain E. coli, Salmonella, Giardia, roundworm, and more. ¬†But cat poop is much worse. ¬†It can contain a parasite called Toxoplasma¬†gondii, a pathogen associated in humans with miscarriages, fatal food poisoning, encephalitis, and even¬†schizophrenia, scientists say. ¬†Toxo is common in urban and suburban soils, where house cats use flowerbeds as litter boxes.
Toxo is also very harmful to wildlife. ¬†In the 1990s, a mysterious die-off of sea otters off the California coast turned out to have been caused by toxoplasmosis. ¬†The parasite could have reached the otters through runoff from the land and also through the flushing of cat poop down the toilet. ¬†While sewage treatment kills many pathogens, it unfortunately does not reliably kill¬†toxo. ¬†Scientists attribute about 16% of current sea¬†otter deaths to¬†toxo.
Toxo has spread through the oceans and has been found in dolphins, walruses, beluga whales, and even polar bears. ¬†The health consequences to these animals is not known.
So how can you manage your dog’s or cat’s ‘output’ in¬†ways that do not harm humans and other animals? ¬†Audubon¬†writer Susan McGrath recommends the following:
FOR DOG OWNERS:
Check online to learn what your local sewage utility wants you to do. ¬†Some utilities call for bagging the poop tightly in plastic and throwing it in the trash. ¬†Don’t bother to invest in biodegradable dog poop bags. ¬†Given the low-oxygen environment of the typical landfill, very little biodegradation can take place anyway. ¬†So save your money and use ordinary plastic bags instead.¬†
If your utility prefers that you flush dog poop down the toilet, you can scoop up the poop in a plastic bag, empty the contents into the toilet, ¬†then tie off the bag and dispose of it.
If you have a small dog, you might consider buying flushable dog poop bags. ¬†These bags are not recommended for use with large dogs because their larger output may be toilet-clogging.
If you’re willing to go to some trouble, you might follow the example of Sharon Slack of Vancouver, British Columbia, who composts her dog’s poop! ¬†She cut the bottom out of an old trash can and bored some holes in the sides. ¬†She then buried the can, to just below the rim, in an out of the way spot in her garden. ¬†With a small shovel, she adds each poop deposit to the can. ¬†Now and then she sprinkles in water and an over-the-counter enzyme product used in septic systems. ¬†When the compost is finished, she spreads it in her garden and starts another batch.
FOR CAT OWNERS:
Because of toxo, do not flush cat poop down the toilet. ¬†Instead, bag it tightly in plastic and put it in the garbage.
Some kitty litters are more environmentally friendly than others. ¬†The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recommends avoiding clay-based silica, clumping, and sand litters. ¬†They are obtained through strip-mining, which is very harmful to land.¬†
Litters EWG considers greener include plant-based products made from wheat, corn, ground corncobs, alfalfa pellets, and recycled newspaper pellets.–April Moore
Starting in June of 2013, I spent a year making weekly visits to the same little spot in the forest on the side of the ridge where I live in the Shenandoah Valley. ¬†During each visit I jotted my observations in a little book. ¬†It was a fascinating experience to notice the changes in one small patch of forest over the cycle of four seasons.
Here, at THE EARTH CONNECTION,¬†I have been, from time to time, sharing some of those observations. ¬†Below are some of my jottings¬†from the months of January and February of last year:
The ground is covered in snow. ¬†And with the leaning tree trunk that always marked the spot now fallen, I have to do some searching to find my ‘spot.’ ¬†I notice quite a few footprints. ¬†Clearly, animals have been making their way across my spot.
Crows call in the distance. ¬†I hear the wind blowing in the treetops, high overhead, but all is quiet on the ground, where I sit on a log.
Subdued winter beauty in all directions. ¬†The snow-covered ground is punctuated with brown twigs poking through the whiteness, angling every which way. ¬†To see some green, I must raise my head and look high into the tops of the giant White Pines.
The air is still, except for a woodpecker, hard at work in the distance.
The forest is mainly brown now, except for a stripe of snow here and there, hidden from the sun in the curve of a log or the lee of a stump.
The wind picks up. ¬†Downed, dead leaves whisper among themselves as they whirl about, disturbed by the wind. ¬†I¬†hear from down the hill a tree creaking under the wind’s push.
Now, toward the end of¬†February, bits of¬†color are¬†starting to emerge. ¬†The tiny, outermost twigs¬†growing from the thin, woody plants in my spot are red! ¬†Just a few of them! ¬†They are even tipped with tiny red buds. ¬†Spring can’t be far off!–April Moore ¬† ¬† ¬†
“We did it! On Saturday over 200 of us braved the elements to make the 10th annual ‚ÄúKeep Winter Cold‚ÄĚ Polar Bear Plunge our biggest yet. Neither the rain nor an incredibly high tide could stop us from jumping, wading and even diving into the Potomac River! Plungers were as young as nine and as old as 85, including students, community activists and Franciscan priests,” reports Mike Tidwell, Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN).¬†
photo by Bruce Rosenthal¬†¬†
Mike is describing last weekend’s CCAN Polar Bear Plunge that I wrote about last week in¬†The Earth Connection. ¬†It¬†was indeed great. ¬†Spirits were high among the crowd gathered to demonstrate our commitment to a healthy climate! ¬†
My friend Diane and I arrived early at National Harbor. ¬†And even though this was to be my fourth Plunge, I felt my familiar ‘pre-plunge jitters.’ ¬†The prospect of stepping out into frigid water on a winter day just doesn’t seem to get easier.
Soon Diane and I were met by our friend Barb, who had brought a most welcome pre-plunge treat–hot chocolate! ¬†And this was not just any hot¬†chocolate. ¬†Barb had made it with a yummy¬†liqueur, and she even brought whipped cream. ¬†Sipping hot chocolate while enjoying the pre-plunge rally¬†somehow calmed me. ¬†I felt warm and centered, ready for the shock that lay ahead.
One rally speaker, Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the Hip-Hop Caucus, inspired the crowd with his updated version of Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous statement: ¬† “One day this generation will say, ‘we are fossil fuel-free at last!’”¬† Who wouldn’t be willing to take the plunge after that!
Another highlight of the rally, for me, was Mike Tidwell’s salute to the 10 ‘Plungers’ who raised the most money, including me as the top fundraiser. ¬†I am thrilled that, thanks to the support of friends and family, I raised¬†more than $4,000 for CCAN! ¬†And CCAN raised more than $82,000 overall, its highest total yet in 10 years of Plunges!
photo by Bruce Rosenthal
A few more speeches, and then the moment was here! ¬†Off to the tents went the Plungers, a women’s tent and a men’s tent, where we all shed our sensible coats, hats, and gloves for–bathing suits! ¬†Aaargh!¬†
Because the water level was higher for this year’s Plunge than for any of the previous nine, there was little beach on which the Plungers could gather. ¬†So instead of all thronging into the river en¬†masse, we plunged in small groups. ¬†As I made my way out of the tent toward the river, I envied a woman who was on her way in, dripping and shivering. ¬†Her¬†Plunge was over!
There we were, some picking our way over the rocks to the water, others wet and moving as fast as they could back to the tents. ¬†Were it not for all the shivering, we could have passed for a bunch of people enjoying a summer dip in the river.¬†
Every year I vow to walk out as far as my shoulders. ¬†But until this year, I had never succeeded; ¬†my feet went numb too soon. ¬†But either the water was warmer this year or I’m more used to it. ¬†I did manage to go out almost up to my shoulders. ¬†
Back in the tent, I could hardly feel my feet. ¬†My friend Diane, kindly and patiently, helped me get dry again and dressed.
Then for the best part. ¬†Diane and I joined the other Plungers¬†and supporters at the adjacent restaurant for the Plunge Afterparty. ¬†Did it ever feel good to warm up and celebrate with longtime friends Diane, Barb, Bruce, and Bonnie, and enjoy a hot lunch and a good visit!¬†
Sitting there in the warm restaurant, I felt deeply happy–for a lot of reasons. ¬†I was glad to have been part of such a rousing event, to have raised so much money for CCAN, to enjoy time with some dear friends, AND¬†to savor the knowledge that I will have no reason to step out into frigid waters again for a whole year!–April Moore ¬†
This is the fourth January that I am doing something crazy. ¬†On Saturday, just three days from now, I will walk out into the Potomac River, wearing only a bathing suit! ¬†Oh yes, and also a fleecy headband to give me the illusion of warmth!
Actually, I’m plunging into the river not¬†because I’m crazy but because I’m passionate. ¬†I’m passionate about the urgent need to address our climate crisis. ¬†And I will not be alone: ¬†I’ll be plunging with more than 100 people, all who feel strongly about protecting the climate.
This Saturday’s Polar Bear Plunge, at National Harbor, near Washington, D.C., is the annual fundraising event for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN). ¬†CCAN works throughout the mid-Atlantic region to enact policies that increase the use of clean, alternative energies, phase out our dependence on fossil fuels, and put us on a path to a stable, healthy climate. ¬†And CCAN is a first rate outfit! ¬†International climate leader Bill McKibben has called CCAN “the most effective regional climate organization in the entire world!”¬†¬†
So spending a few minutes in frigid water is a small price to pay for a strong, well-funded CCAN. ¬†We Plungers ¬†are raising money for CCAN by inviting our friends and family to sponsor our plunge by making a donation to CCAN. ¬†This Saturday’s event will be CCAN’s 10th annual Polar Bear Plunge, and organizers hope it will raise $100,000.
I think CCAN’s Polar Bear Plunge is a brilliant fundraiser. ¬†Many people, when they see that their friends are willing to make a sacrifice for something important, feel moved to make a financial sacrifice of their own for the same worthy cause. ¬†And dramatic acts, like more than 100 people jumping into a frigid river in the middle of winter, attract attention. ¬†So¬†this event, coupled with a media campaign, can help publicize CCAN’s needed work. ¬†¬†
And¬†the Plunge is quite an event! ¬†It always begins with a boisterous rally, which fortifies us Plungers for the ¬† uncomfortable minutes ahead. ¬†Every time I have taken the Plunge, my friend Diane has accompanied me, encouraging me and¬†greeting me with a towel when I return, shivering, from the river.
I have seen Plungers as young as 10 and as old as 80-something. ¬†In fact, one year an old woman relied on her cane to stay upright as she carefully made her way out into the river! ¬†Last year it was so cold that the Plunge organizers had to hack up river ice so that we Plungers could get into the water! ¬†
As a Plunger, I’m afraid I’m not like the young men who energetically dive into the water head first, and then splash wildly as if it were a hot summer day. ¬†Instead, I approach the water as the fairly timid 60+ woman I am. ¬†I ¬†take a deep breath, put one foot in front of the other as I move from the water’s edge out into deeper water. ¬†
It has ¬†surprised me how quickly my feet lose all feeling. ¬†Then my calves. ¬†Then my thighs. ¬†Last year I had planned to go out up to my neck, but because of my fear of falling and being too numb to get myself out, I turned back when the water was just above my waist. ¬†(My friend Kathy playfully demanded half her money back because I didn’t completely immerse myself!) ¬†But I needn’t have been concerned. ¬†A first aid team is at the ready, perched in a boat nearby.¬†
The best part of all, though, is the joyous celebration after the Plunge, when Plungers and supporters all gather at the nearby restaurant. ¬†It feels great to sit inside where it’s warm and visit with my friends who have shown up to support me, and to know that the next Plunge is a whole year away.
By the way, I have set an ambitious personal fundraising goal for this year’s Polar Bear Plunge, $4,000. ¬†If you would like to support my Plunge with a donation to CCAN (we know that constructive climate work anywhere in the world benefits all of us no matter where we live) I would, of course, be grateful. ¬†You can click this link to my personal fundraising page, where¬†you can quickly and easily donate online. ¬†April Moore’s Plunge ¬†
¬† ¬† ¬†A dramatic expansion in genetics research capacity has enabled scientists to learn some surprising things about birds and their evolutionary history.
¬† ¬† ¬†Using new DNA research techniques, scientists have gained knowledge that turns traditional groupings of bird species upside down. ¬†For example, field guides typically grouped bird species by observable similarities like size, color, and habitat. ¬†But the new research shows that living bird species may be far more genetically similar to birds that seem very different than they are to species that seem¬†similar.
¬† ¬† ¬†Recent research reveals that falcons, for instance, are more closely related to parrots than they are to hawks, even though they look much more like hawks. ¬†And flamingoes, it turns out, are more closely related to pigeons than they are to almost all other waterbirds!
¬† ¬† ¬†The new bird research, according to Science News, was conducted by a¬†consortium of 200 scientists from around the world and funded by the Chinese genetics institute BGI and other sources. ¬†Findings suggest that many bird species that appear closely related are not examples of close ancestral relationships after all. ¬†
¬† ¬† ¬†Instead, such bird species’ similarity is the result of convergence over time. ¬†These different species evolved in different parts of the world. ¬†But they developed in some of the same ways because they occupied a similar¬†environmental¬†niche. ¬†With similar environmental forces operating in these species’ distant niches, birds in far distant areas developed some of the same characteristics, even though they are not related genetically.
¬† ¬† ¬†Sorting out which modern bird species are truly related to one another and which are not had long posed a problem for researchers, explains ornithologist Shannon Hackett of the Field Museum of Chicago. ¬†An avian ‘big bang,’ she explains, took place around the time dinosaurs went extinct and sent many lineages ‘flying’ off in different directions. ¬†
¬† ¬† ¬†Before current genetic research techniques became available, it had been hard to figure out which fossils belonged with which emerging group, Hackett explains. ¬†In fact, many scientists believed it would never be possible to sort out which birds were truly most related to which other species.
¬† ¬† ¬†One fascinating aspect of this new research is that parrots, songbirds, and humans, for that matter, have converged on very similar genes involved in vocal learning. ¬†In fact, birds may prove to be a useful¬†species for further insights into human speech disorders. ¬†The usual medical research species–monkeys and mice–don’t learn sounds as birds and humans do.–April Moore¬†
A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to speak about the climate crisis to a group of bright high school seniors.¬† I love speaking to these Virginia Regional Governor‚Äôs School students; ¬†they are intelligent and interested.
¬† ¬† ¬†And instead of feeling crushed by the weight of my message, these students respond with hope and with the confidence that they have¬†what it takes to deal successfully with the problem.
¬† ¬† ¬†But two months after my last gig with these high school seniors, I find still echoing in my mind a question that one young man asked that day.¬† We had spent at least an hour in engrossing discussion about what must be done if we are to avoid a climate catastrophe, the roles for nations, localities, institutions, and citizens.
¬† ¬† ¬†After all of this, the young man, groping for words, asked haltingly, ‚ÄúWell, what if we¬†don‚Äôt¬†do all the things we need to do? ¬†What if we can’t manage to do it? ¬†What do we do then? ¬†What is the. . . . plan?‚ÄĚ
¬† ¬† ¬†I could have wept on the spot.
¬† ¬† ¬†I saw a 17-year old who had not yet grasped that the grown-ups he‚Äôd always trusted to be in charge could completely let him down.¬† He just assumed that the generations running things were making at least the minimum necessary arrangements to ensure that the future would be okay for him and his generation. ¬†Surely there must be some ‘Plan B.’
¬† ¬† ¬†The people in charge could not just sit back and expose us to catastrophe. ¬†Could they?
¬† ¬† ¬†I was so struck by the young man‚Äôs question, I really don‚Äôt remember how I answered. ¬†I wanted to be truthful, but I didn‚Äôt want to puncture his sense of security, his faith in those in charge.¬† As a mom, perhaps, I didn‚Äôt want him to be afraid.
¬† ¬† ¬†As I have continued to think about this student‚Äôs question, I see that he was really speaking for all of us.¬† Even among those who ‚Äėget‚Äô the seriousness of our climate crisis, most don‚Äôt really get how very bad life could get for the generations to come.¬† For one thing, we have never experienced anything like what might well lie ahead if we fail to act decisively.
¬† ¬† ¬†In addition to a natural reluctance to envision how bad life could become, there is the deliberate misinformation campaign on the part of the fossil fuel industry, whose wealth has induced one of our two major ¬†political parties to make it party dogma that the science on climate is to be ignored. ¬†The fossil fuel industry, through its political lackeys, lulls us into inaction with its deceptive message that climate science is a hoax, that we should stay addicted to fossil fuels.
¬† ¬† ¬†I wonder what the people who are running this misinformation campaign would say to their own children if they came to them and asked, “What’s the plan?”–April Moore
You’ll see Christmas trees dying ‚ÄĒ their needles turned brown.
30 million dead trees ‚ÄĒ that’s what you’ll find! “Just some more numbers to boggle your mind.” That’s good old Rick Dungey ‚ÄĒ head of public relations For the¬†National Christmas Tree Association. He fields lots of calls ‚ÄĒ and often they’re dumb, Or perhaps fueled by eggnog with way too much rum. “My tree’s doing great! It’s still taking up water!” The calls start okay, but then they get odder: “Will it regrow roots and continue to live?” “Well, no,” is the answer that Rick has to give.
But there is still hope ‚ÄĒ for all cross the nation There’s a sort of arborial tree-incarnation! When everyone’s done with their¬†O Tannebaum-in’ Rick Dungey explains, “Mulching programs are common.” “But there have been some creative ones out there,” he adds. Some trees get a new life that isn’t half bad.
Near Jefferson, La., volunteers place recycled Christmas trees inside man-made wooden cribs in the shallow water of a local marsh in January 2011. The trees absorb wave action and protect fragile marshland from erosion.
Jefferson Parish Department of Environmental Affairs/AP
Down in Louisiana, where the land meets the ocean. “We place them out in the marsh to combat¬†coastal erosion.” At the¬†Department of Environmental Affairs Jason Smith uses trees to make coastal repairs. The trees trap the soil, and make the waves slow, “And aquatic vegetation can begin to grow.”
At Oakland’s fine¬†zoo, the word “trunk” is a term That applies to both Christmas trees and¬†pachyderms. The beasts lumber past, pining for treats Rooting around for a new thing to eat. Gina Kinzley, their keeper, says they prefer The sweet evergreens. “The noble firs.” The trees are both playthings and part of their diet And they’re not alone, other animals try it. Giraffe and zebra also give it a try “Lions, tigers, the bears!” Oh my! “The elephants really enjoy the bark.” It looks just like Christmas aboard Noah’s Ark.
The¬†fishermen¬†up north in Portland were stumped The¬†fish¬†population has recently slumped. And part of the reason, says Mr.¬†Mike Gentry Is that some of the streams are deplorably empty. Of woody debris for the coho and trout There’s no habitat! So it’s time to branch out. “They need cover from predators.” (to hide out below) “They need a calm place to rest and grow. They also need a food source.” So Gentry and his team Sink dead Christmas trees¬†in their swift local streams.
In the East, Mitchell Mann and Dominic Esposito Are two Jersey boys who live by one credo: “To save the environment, pretty much, being green.” So they drummed up a¬†posse of like-minded teens. They’ll¬†grab all the trees¬†‚ÄĒ every one within reach And they’ll bring them all down to nearby Bradley Beach. “Once the trees are on the beach they’re laid down against a fence.” Where they form the foundation of the town’s defense. “And as the wind blows the trees capture the sand.” And soon dunes will form ‚ÄĒ at least that’s the plan. And in future years, “When a storm comes through It protects all the houses,” and habitat too.
Though their life has been sapped and their trunks have been hewn These trees might form forests in marshes and dunes. And dead groves will grow in the rivers and zoos.
I like the way Frost defends the fir trees growing on his land, refusing to sell them for a pittance. ¬†Frost’s words paint a beautiful picture of “my woods–the young fir balsams like a place where houses all are churches and have spires.” ¬†Frost beautifully describes a December day at his place in Vermont, “where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.”¬†
In reading a little¬†about¬† this poem, I learned something interesting. ¬†For nearly 30 years, Frost worked with a printer, Joe Blumenthal, to produce finely-printed Christmas cards that beautifully and delicately illustrated Frost’s poetry. ¬†Each year, the poet selected a different poem for that year’s ¬†card. ¬†Sent to Frost’s friends, the cards¬†have been described as “probably the most¬†ornate and unique Christmas cards they ever received.”–April Moore¬†
Robert Frost (1920)
(A Christmas Circular Letter)The city had withdrawn into itself
And left at last the country to the country;
When between whirls of snow not come to lie
And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove
A stranger to our yard, who looked the city,
Yet did in country fashion in that there
He sat and waited till he drew us out
A-buttoning coats to ask him who he was.
He proved to be the city come again
To look for something it had left behind
And could not do without and keep its Christmas.
He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;
My woods‚ÄĒthe young fir balsams like a place
Where houses all are churches and have spires.
I hadn‚Äôt thought of them as Christmas Trees.
I doubt if I was tempted for a moment
To sell them off their feet to go in cars
And leave the slope behind the house all bare,
Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.
I‚Äôd hate to have them know it if I was.
Yet more I‚Äôd hate to hold my trees except
As others hold theirs or refuse for them,
Beyond the time of profitable growth,
The trial by market everything must come to.
I dallied so much with the thought of selling.
Then whether from mistaken courtesy
And fear of seeming short of speech, or whether
From hope of hearing good of what was mine, I said,
‚ÄúThere aren‚Äôt enough to be worth while.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúI could soon tell how many they would cut,
You let me look them over.‚ÄĚ‚ÄúYou could look.
But don‚Äôt expect I‚Äôm going to let you have them.‚ÄĚ
Pasture they spring in, some in clumps too close
That lop each other of boughs, but not a few
Quite solitary and having equal boughs
All round and round. The latter he nodded ‚ÄúYes‚ÄĚ to,
Or paused to say beneath some lovelier one,
With a buyer‚Äôs moderation, ‚ÄúThat would do.‚ÄĚ
I thought so too, but wasn‚Äôt there to say so.
We climbed the pasture on the south, crossed over,
And came down on the north. He said, ‚ÄúA thousand.‚ÄĚ‚ÄúA thousand Christmas trees!‚ÄĒat what apiece?‚ÄĚHe felt some need of softening that to me:
‚ÄúA thousand trees would come to thirty dollars.‚ÄĚThen I was certain I had never meant
To let him have them. Never show surprise!
But thirty dollars seemed so small beside
The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents
(For that was all they figured out apiece),
Three cents so small beside the dollar friends
I should be writing to within the hour
Would pay in cities for good trees like those,
Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools
Could hang enough on to pick off enough.
A thousand Christmas trees I didn‚Äôt know I had!
Worth three cents more to give away than sell,
As may be shown by a simple calculation.
Too bad I couldn‚Äôt lay one in a letter.
I can‚Äôt help wishing I could send you one,
In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas.
After years of anguish and suffering–to wildlife and humans–caused by the 2010 BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, I am happy to report some very good news about the restoration work taking place.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the congressionally chartered nonprofit corporation that is receiving and administering the $2.54 billion in fines BP and Transocean have been ordered to pay for remediation, appears to be doing an excellent job. ¬†The Foundation has been praised by many for ensuring that the restoration funds are spent in ways that do the most to remedy harm and to reduce the risk of future harm to natural resources affected by the 2010 disaster. ¬†The NFWF’s work is “an impressive, comprehensive, integrated restoration effort,” noted the Ocean Conservancy in a press release.
For example, in issuing restoration grants, NFWF has adopted a regional, ecosystem-wide approach, funding efforts that build on each other across multiple states. ¬†And NFWF is investing in grants that focus on the marine environment as well as coastal environments. ¬†These two types of environment, though very different from each other, form two halves of a single whole. ¬†The restoration of one half would be incomplete without the other.
As part of a five-year period during which the $2.54 billion will be spent for restoration, the most recent round of grants included 25 projects totaling more than $99 million.¬†The funded projects will: ¬†track the recovery of key fish species like red snapper; ¬†respond to stranded dolphins and manatees; ¬†map the seafloor off the Florida coast to inform sustainable fishing practices; and much more.
“Every American has a stake in restoring the Gulf,” notes U.S. Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ashe. ¬†‚ÄúThe Gulf of Mexico is a national treasure, supporting a vast network of native wildlife and coastal ecosystems while providing jobs and economic growth to millions of Americans,” he explains. ¬†Ashe and others have praised the state governments of Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida for working collaboratively with the Foundation to invest in projects to restore the Gulf.–April Moore¬†
When I was a kid, growing up in the 1950s, I thought of Germany as a Very Bad Country. ¬†After all, the Germans had started not just one, but two¬†World Wars. ¬†And the Holocaust that they created was horrific beyond belief.
¬†In contrast, the United States was truly a great country. ¬†We played a major role in ensuring that Hitler did not ultimately succeed in taking over Europe. ¬†And thanks to our Marshall Plan, we rebuilt Europe and helped restore peace and prosperity to that wartorn continent. ¬†I was proud to be an American, and I had good reason to be.
But things are different now.¬†
When it comes to adequately addressing the climate crisis–the very most important task faced by the world’s governments today–it seems the United States and Germany have traded places. ¬†
Now Germany is in the hero’s role. ¬†More than any other country, Germany has embraced renewable energy sources and reduced its dependence on fossil fuels. ¬†In fact, 37% of Germany’s daily electricity needs are now met by solar and wind power. ¬†And Germany is on track to meet 100% of its energy needs from renewables by 2050!
I wish I could claim that the United States is also a leader in addressing the climate crisis. ¬†My country, formerly an inspiration to the world for what is right and just, is doing next to nothing to ensure a livable world for our children and grandchildren. ¬†In fact, the United States, the country most responsible for the accumulated carbon dioxide pollution in our atmosphere, ¬†just elected a Congress in which both houses are led by people who deny well-established climate science. ¬†
At just the time when we desperately need bold and committed action to bring down our greenhouse gas emissions, many of our national leaders are firmly in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry, working to make sure that nothing gets in the way of huge profits for the wealthiest industry the world has ever seen.
And President Obama, who as a candidate in 2008, admitted the seriousness of the climate crisis, in fact did next to nothing about it during his first term. ¬†Obama has recently begun to take meaningful steps, like his meeting with China’s Xi Jinping, in which both leaders pledged significant action on the climate. ¬†While I applaud this action, it is actually very little, very late, when the window we have available to avert the worst global warming impacts is rapidly closing.
Tragically, the United States has abdicated its former leadership role among the world’s countries. ¬†Currently contributing about a quarter of the world’s daily greenhouse emissions, we are the greatest impediment to warding off ¬†catastrophe.
We should learn from and emulate the actions of our former enemy.–April Moore