Set Your Weapons Down


Healing is Difficult

Sia has an album called “Healing is Difficult.” On the cover, those words are scratched into her face. When it comes to healing wounds and forgiving mistakes, I have to agree with her. It’s all difficult.

When I’ve done something wrong, I tend to be stubborn and defensive. I think that’s human nature. I don’t like to admit guilt, especially when my defense is that I was just doing the best I could. I really never meant any harm. I was mimicking what I’ve seen. Working on auto pilot.

I think a lot of people feel guilty and defensive about environmental issues like pollution, climate change and deforestation. It’s hard to look it right in the face, because we know we hold a part in it. We feel guilty, but it’s easier to get defensive than to listen and change. At least it is for me. Until a few years ago, I didn’t know what palm oil was and that it was in almost all processed food and that it’s leading to major deforestation and the near extinction of the orangutans that live in Indonesia and beyond.

Defensive Me

Hey! I didn’t know! It’s not my fault! I didn’t chop down those trees! I’m just doing my best here! Trying to raise my kids and be a good wife. I just want to be able to put on a bikini without bursting into tears. I don’t have time to fix the whole damn world, OK? I just want to get through the day without eating an entire chocolate cake. Is that too much to ask?!

That’s defensive me talking right there, I’ll call her Becki. Becki is pretty feisty, and she’s got her guard up. Becki’s always up for a fight. Unfortunately, she’s also not a great listener. She’s a little bitchy. She thrives in the dark, not in the light. (Becki, incidentally can be fun to hang out with in a bar… or not, depends on the night.)

The Light

Then there’s the part of me that is always reaching for the light. The part that’s a total sucker for my kids when they ask me to lay down next to them to snuggle before bed. OK, just for a minute! They won’t be little forever, and I’ll miss their warm little bodies snuggled up next to mine when they’re all grown up. The smell of their hair. I let God’s light in through them. My defenses come down. I say yes instead of no. I ask what can I do rather than what can I get.

Everyone’s Just Doing Their Best

I think we are all just doing the best with what we have now. I truly believe that. I don’t want my minivan to pollute the environment. I don’t want my burgers to contribute to climate change. I think when we hear these things we put on our metaphorical armor. We raise our weapons, ready to fight for our right to eat burgers and drive minivans! At least I do.

I think it’s time to put the armor down though. To admit guilt. To trust that we did the best we could. To forgive ourselves and each other for harm done. Maybe then we can heal some of the damage we’ve done and move forward in a new direction.


I see a lot of hope in the environmental movement of today. The Montreal Protocol has been largely effective and the ozone layer is expected to heal over the next 50 years. Educating people on the health effects of smoking lowered the number of people who smoke cigarettes from 42% of adults in 1965 to 17% in 2014. So there’s hope that the same can be done for climate change.

Action is urgent. It requires us to be all in. I think that requires that we truly listen to each other. To scientists. To start real conversations with energy companies. To ask politicians to put their metaphorical weapons down. To forgive past mistakes. To decide to move forward together in a new direction.

“Forgiving is not forgetting; its actually remembering–remembering and not using your right to hit back. It’s a second chance for a new beginning. And the remembering part is particularly important. Especially if you don’t want to repeat what happened.”
― Archbishop Desmond Tutu





All Americans First


The Power of Ideas

I became an American citizen in 2011 and it’s the only test I’ve ever enjoyed studying for. Maybe that’s why Trumps An America First Energy Plan is bugging me so much. It leaves a whole lot of Americans out. The America I know and love was built by millions of people who shared and developed different ideas and dreams about what America could look like. Any American energy plan that leaves out renewable energy misses out on what really makes America great, and that’s a diversity of ideas, jobs and people. We use enough energy to justify developing all ideas related to energy, energy efficiency and sustainability.

The plan is short on details, but it leans heavily toward the idea that increasing fossil fuel production will create greater prosperity for Americans and that protecting the environment is holding Americans and businesses back. It focuses on developing shale, oil and natural gas. It does not mention renewable energy at all.

It’s hard to argue against ideas, but I’ll try.

Job Killers

“A brighter future depends on energy policies that stimulate our economy, ensure our security, and protect our health.”

The idea here is that developing fossil fuel production will stimulate the economy but renewable energy will not. That’s not true.

“When renewables start to displace fossil fuels, the direct comparison suggests a net gain, which is confirmed by a look at the broader economy. Filling up a car’s gas tank and use of electricity in a fossil-fuel- or nuclear-based power grid do not generate many jobs, either in the energy sector or among its suppliers. These sectors generate far fewer jobs than average consumption spending does. By contrast, renewables and investment in energy efficiency generate more jobs than demand for other goods and services,” according to the International Monetary Fund.

Real Jobs

I can’t actually quote anything from the plan regarding renewable energy or energy efficiency jobs because they are not mentioned in the plan, but the silence speaks for itself.

Energy job numbers are a total snooze but stay awake and just scan em! The point I’m trying to make with these numbers is that renewable energy and energy efficiency is already a large chunk of the energy jobs in the United States. Any realistic plan needs to include these workers and the contributions they make to America’s energy mix.

  • Energy Efficiency – 2.2 million Americans are employed, in whole or in part, in
    the design, installation, and manufacture of energy efficiency products and services.
  • Oil and Petroleum – almost 516,000 workers nationwide
  • Solar Jobs – Just under 374,000 individuals work, in whole or in part, for solar firms.
  • Wind farms –  102,000 workers
  • Natural Gas – 88,242 workers
  • Coal electrics generation and coal fuels –  160,119 jobs
  • Hydroelectric generation –  65,554 workers
  • Nuclear generation technologies – 68,176 workers
  • Bioenergy electric generation and biofuel sub-technologies – 112,642 workers
  • Corn ethanol fuels – 28,613 jobs
  • Other Biofuels (algal biofuel, syngas, bioheat blends, landfill gas, and advanced biofuels) –  22,504 workers

We Have a Ton of Oil!

Sound energy policy begins with the recognition that we have vast untapped domestic energy reserves right here in America.

There’s the idea that we are not tapping into the energy resources we already have, but the United States is already the worlds biggest oil producer. The US surpassed Russia and Saudi Arabia’s oil and natural gas production in 2014. The largest oil and natural gas deposit ever found in the United States was discovered in Texas in 2016. So yes, we already do have a ton of domestic energy right here in America. From oil, natural gas, solar and wind energy. So lets recognize that…since we are already doing it!

Shale Oil and Oil Shale

We must take advantage of the estimated $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, especially those on federal lands that the American people own.

The US does have a whole lot of “shale oil” (AKA tight oil), making America more oil rich than Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately, shale oil is extracted through fracking. Fracking works by shooting water and sand into rock formations. The environmental impact is water contamination and earthquakes, and of course climate change from carbon emissions. Water contamination and fracking made earthquakes are real environmental bummers.

So yes, we do have a lot of untapped “shale oil,” but that oil doesn’t come without major environmental consequences. Plus, Americans are indirectly subsidizing these oil companies when they pay out of pocket for damage done to their homes through fracking earthquakes as well as polluted well water.

Then there’s “oil shale.” Yes, it’s different from “shale oil.” No, the America First Energy Plan does not specify if it means “shale oil” or “oil shale” which makes it even more ambiguous and ripe for misinterpretations.

“Even a moderate estimate of 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil from oil shale in the Green River Formation is three times greater than the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia,” according to the Oil Shale and Tar Sands Programmatic EIS Information Center.

That’s a lot of oil… but it’s never really that simple is it?

“Estimates vary, but turning oil shale into gasoline or diesel may lead to three or more times as many heat-trapping gas emissions than conventional oil,” according to the “At present, oil shale is not a commercially viable product in most of the world, as the same processes that make it dirty also make it expensive.”

So yes, we have a ton of oil shale and shale oil, but they shouldn’t be lumped together. Neither will lead to energy independence or a sustainable future for our children. Neither is the key to a sound American energy policy.

“Natural” Gas

The America First Plan doesn’t say this, but I do know that there’s the mistaken idea that natural gas is a better choice for the environment. Maybe because it has the word “natural” in it? Despite the name “natural gas” it’s not necessarily any more or less natural than coal or oil. And yes, we have a ton of it, or at least enough to last about 93 years. Natural gas is made up mostly of methane, and methane is a greenhouse gas way more potent than carbon dioxide. Methane leaks during the extraction process, leading to more greenhouse gas emission.

So although natural gas releases less carbon dioxide than coal power plants, it’s not a better solution for the environment. So just disregard the word “natural” when you think about “natural” gas. It’s about as natural as all the other fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are really just ancient plants and animals that turned into “fossil” fuels over millions of years. They’re not unnatural, but they’re also not the great for the environment.

American Energy For All Americans

I agree with the idea that we need to get our energy from right here in the United States. We should be tapping into our resources. I just think we need a long term, sustainable plan that recognizes that fossil fuels are a great source of wealth and prosperity for many Americans, but also that fossil fuels are frying our planet.

In many ways, America itself is just an idea. People all over the world dream of coming to America. There’s room for all American’s ideas and dreams. My big idea is that my kids will have kids one day and they’ll talk about how lucky they are that our generation ended climate change and created a whole lot of prosperity for all Americans. My idea is that we can work out an energy plan that works for everyone. More about that soon… so until then, go outside!


Climate Change & Starving Children

This article about children in Madagascar dying from starvation because of climate change is bothering the heck out of me. How can it be possible that children are starving in Madagascar from the effects of climate change when my children refuse to finish their dinners? The yummy Mac & Cheese that I lovingly prepared with sweet potato mush in order to add some actual veggies to their otherwise pasta-centered diets. These children in Madagascar are eating cactus. Cactus because there’s no actual food to grow because climate change has dried up their land.

“Climate change, disproportionately caused by carbon emissions from America, seems to be behind a severe drought that has led crops to wilt across seven countries in southern Africa. The result is acute malnutrition for 1.3 million children in the region, the United Nations says,” according to


So who really gives a shit? Who gives an actual shit about those poor, starving children in Madagascar? All I really know about Madagascar is that it’s the name of a Disney movie. Disney, right?

Anyway, I don’t really even know where Madagascar is. But the thing is this… I’m a mom and moms stick together. There are moms eating rock soup because there’s no food and whatever food there is you know they are giving it to their children. Because they are moms, and that’s what moms do.

The other thing is this… I’m a mom who has a computer and our family has four iPads. That’s right. Four iPads. I actually don’t feel the least bit guilty for being rich enough to own four iPads, but I do feel incredibly guilty because creating those iPads and the computer that I’m writing on did contribute to climate change. And climate change is starving children in Madagascar. Call me a tree-hugger or do-gooder or niave or trite, but this shouldn’t be considered business as usual. Children should never starve, whether they live in the United States or Africa (according to Google-the-all-knowing, Madagascar is a large island nation off the southern coast of Africa). The way I live my life should not contribute to anyone’s starvation. But it does.

I don’t have any answers, but I hope it bothers someone other than just me. So what can I do for the children in Madagascar? I really don’t know. I can certainly send money to the organization that’s providing food and services to these families. I think I can turn off the LED lights in the rooms that I’m not in and kiss my kids and pray that we can change the course that we are on before climate change dries up the farms that grow all our children’s food.

I hope the Elon Musks and Bill Gates of the world create technology that ends our dependence on fossil fuels. I hope enough moms and dads vote for good leaders who understand that climate change ends at home and in our own communities. I hope my kids will eat their Mac & Cheese so it doesn’t have to turn into methane in some garbage dump.

I’ll continue to educate myself on climate change and try to the best of my ability to make better decisions so more children don’t have to starve in Madagascar because their land is so dry it will only grow cactus. I’ll keep trying, and I’ll keep praying that those beautiful kids on a large island nation in southern Africa called Madagascar will get to eat some real food today.



Opinion: Trump and The Environment

The Day After

It’s the day after the election and I’m feeling a bit nauseated. Maybe depressed is a better word? Grasping for words today. I’m overwhelmed by the thought of a Trump Presidency and all that it might mean. Saddened that so many people felt compelled to vote for him.

But for me, optimism prevails. I love America. Born in Sweden, I could certainly uproot my family and move back there. But running away won’t solve the problems we face. I will not let fear rule my life. Fear is what got us into this mess in the first place. Fear of other people, fear of other peoples opinions and lifestyles. Fear can not get the better of me today.

So lets move forward and work with what we have

A few key bullet points from President Elect Trump’s website:

  • “Make America energy independent, create millions of new jobs, and protect clean air and clean water. We will conserve our natural habitats, reserves and resources. We will unleash an energy revolution that will bring vast new wealth to our country.”
  • “Unleash America’s $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, plus hundreds of years in clean coal reserves.”
  • “Open onshore and offshore leasing on federal lands, eliminate moratorium on coal leasing, and open shale energy deposits.”

As much as I oppose continuing and strengthening an energy policy that is basically business as usual (shale, oil, natural gas and coal) I see why this message appeals to some Americans. Americans want to keep energy jobs in America. I get it. I want energy jobs to stay in America as well. And just for the sake of argument, why not keep getting our dirty energy from American sources instead of importing it from other countries (lets just disregard the environmental impact at this point)? I see the appeal! I know lots of people who agree. Why import what we already have at home? We’re using the energy whether it comes from the middle east, mid west or off the California coast.

Can We All Grow Together?

The question for me becomes, can we keep and grow the business as usual energy jobs that currently exist (cole, natural gas etc) and ALSO grow renewable energy? Whether the Trump administration wants it or not, the solar power industry is booming along with the entire renewable energy industry. So can we all work together to promote green energy jobs while still keeping the jobs that currently exist?

If the Trump administration really, truly wants to “Make America energy independent, create millions of new jobs, and protect clean air and clean water,” then lets do this. Lets all work together to get it done. Democrats and Republicans working together.

Today, I truly hope that Trump will stand by this statement on his own website:

 “We will conserve our natural habitats, reserves and resources. We will unleash an energy revolution that will bring vast new wealth to our country.”

Donald J. Trump’s website

Review: Before The Flood


Interviews Worth Watching and Solutions To Pay Attention To

“Before the Flood” with Leo DiCaprio is streaming free online until November 7th 2016. Although none of the information in the film was new, it was worth watching for two reasons:

1.) The sheer number of interviews DiCaprio had with prominent politicians, business people and scientist was impressive and worth watching.

2.) The solutions the film lays out are right on and in complete alignment with what I hope   to communicate with this site. We need real progress that goes beyond small steps made by some individuals. We need government involvement, significant business investments and citizens willing to embrace new technology and some life style changes.

The film addresses one of the fundamental arguments I see within the environmental community which is: Consumers need to change their habits and consumption vs Government and businesses need to change their policies and products.

Sunita Narain from the Centre for Science and Environment in Delhi argues that America’s consumption is the reason for climate change and the only way to end climate change is for people from the west (mostly Americans) to stop consuming so much.

DiCaprio says to Narain that he agrees that we need to change our consumption, but argues that that’s probably not going to happen (I agree!) He argues that the west must invest in renewable energies such as wind and solar.

An Economy Based on Consumption and Carbon

I absolutely agree that the western lifestyle of consumption and waste is a major driver of climate change. No doubt! But the problem with presenting the idea of reducing or ultimately ending our consumption-waste lifestyle as a solution to the climate issue goes against the only way of life most people in the west know. It goes against every notion of business growth and the social progress we have come to expect in the west.

Everything I see and touch as I write this has come from a carbon producing lifestyle. The computer I work on, the table I sit at, the clothes I’m wearing and the house I live in. I, and I would argue most westerns, feel that we are entitled to a life that has these things, assuming we get educated and have a paycheck and maybe some money in the bank. Very few people want to move backwards to a time when we grew our own food and sewed our own clothes. Humans are wired to move forward, not backwards.

I don’t want trees to be cut down to make my kitchen table or coal to be burned to create the energy that’s needed to make my computers but that’s the reality. Our entire economy is based on consumption. Some things we need, and some things we don’t need but we buy them anyway just because we can. We need food and clothes. We need a roof over our heads. For those of us that have kids we need to buy them all kinds of stuff like back packs and bunk beds and paper and pencils. You can certainly argue that we should all do a better job of limiting our consumption, but most westerns feel these things are essentials and not extravagances. And all these things are produced through energy and right now the majority of our energy comes from fossil fuels which release carbon which causes global warming.

So what can we do so we can still live our lives the way we want to live in the west without frying our planet? Here are the solutions that the film proposes and I agree:

1.) Consume Differently:

  • What you buy
  • What you eat
  • How you get your power

2.) Vote for leaders who will fight climate change by:

  • Ending fossil fuel subsidies
  • Investing in renewables
  • Leaving fossil fuels in the ground
  • Supporting a price on carbon

Although the film does not present new information, the information is presented in an entertaining enough way to keep you watching for the hour and 35 minute run time. The solutions are certainly worth talking about and putting into action. There are certainly more solutions that aren’t outlined in the film. I’ll work on putting together more information on how you can easily implement these solutions in future posts.