The End of Magical Snow?

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There’s some kind of magic that happens when my kids are in the snow. They can spend hours building igloos and throwing themselves down sledding hills. They forget about the iPads and video games. They don’t even ask. They cry when I call them in well after it’s way too dark to be playing outside and their little cheeks and fingers are red and frozen. They somehow don’t even feel cold. They just feel like they’re immersed in magic.

I feel that magic when I finally get to the top of the ski resort, when I finally get to ski. I love the quiet. Views all around. No cell phone reception. All I want is to take it all in and make it last longer. To get to go down one more run marveling at my seven year old snow ploughing happily down the hill. He has no fear. Just fun.

Then, the thought creeps in. It happens every year now. I tell the thought to go away, but it nags me and stays with me. So I let it in. Just for a few minutes and then you have to go, I tell the thought.

The thought is this. I can’t loose snow! I want to ski with my grand kids. I want to watch them snowplough down the mountain. I want to build igloos with them. But I know, that might not be the case. The snow season is getting shorter each year. Snow accumulation is beginning later and it’s melting earlier. There simply might not be enough snow to keep the ski resorts open.

As I write I have to resist the urge to insert facts and figures about climate change. I like data, I like proof. I like quoting smart people who say smart things, but I think the thing that changes hearts and minds is a feeling of injustice. That’s how I feel about climate change. It just isn’t right that our children might not have snow.

There is an injustice being done to the next generation and the generations thereafter. Climate change is the most important issue of our time. Nothing compares, but it’s hard to put a feeling to something you can’t see. It’s easy to feel outraged at sexism, racism, poverty or war. It can be captured on film. You can see it.

It’s much harder to see climate change. There’s no face to it.

So I’m asking that you put a face to climate change. Make it your son or daughters face. Your niece or nephew. Your grand children. Picture them in magical snow. Rosy cheeked and smiling. Make that the face of climate change. Maybe if we have a face to go with the facts, then we can make progress.

I have no solutions today. Just thoughts of magical snow.

“It is often easier to become outraged by injustice half a world away than by oppression and discrimination half a block from home.”

– Carl T Rowan, American government official, journalist and author

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Baby Steps To Limiting Greenhouse Gases: Part 1

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I’m not a believer in the theory that every person needs to change the way they live in order to end climate change. I like the way I live and I don’t want to change that. I like driving my minivan and I get all kinds of stuff shipped in cardboard boxes (murdered trees) from Amazon. Despite all this non-green living, I strongly believe that there are things that every person CAN do to limit greenhouse gases and climate change.

(I put the word “limit” in bold because these changes won’t end climate change. Only a revolutionary change to the way we do business as usual will end climate change. This revolution is happening and I’ll write about it in the next article).

What You Can Do Starting Today

Talk about climate change – Ever hear of a cognitive misers? I hadn’t either, but I’m one and so are you. We are all cognitive misers. As humans we are inundated with lots of information. We have to make sense of it all somehow and we are all just a little lazy, so we tend to believe what people we like and respect say. So if you like and respect your brother and your father and your neighbor Bob and they all say that climate change is a hoax, then you are likely to believe that climate change is a hoax. On the other hand, if your sister and your girlfriend and your pastor tell you that climate change is real and it’s a problem for you and your children, then you are more likely to believe them and feel inspired to do something about it.

So where am I going with this? Talk to your friends and family about why you think it’s important to care about the environment and climate change. Keep it simple and respectful. Katharine Hayhoe, a Christian evangelical and climate scientist, wrote about this in the Huffington Post a few weeks ago as well as in an article in TruthOut.org.  Study up on what’s happening (I’ll keep trying my best to break it down here), and then say something (nicely, you catch more flies with honey…)

Drive Less or Drive Electric

You know that driving a gas guzzler is bad for the environment. But if driving less or finding trucks and minivans that are fuel efficient was easy and inexpensive we’d all be doing it. I mention driving less and electric cars only because a list of things you can do to limit greenhouse gases needs to say something about cars, otherwise the green police will get me. Personally I believe the auto industry needs to give us better, greener car choices. This is happening, but the topic is more than I have space for here.

Change What You Eat

Eat less meat (mostly red meat like beef and lamb). Sorry! I know, I love burgers too!! Really. In n’ Out burgers and fries were my dietary staple during both pregnancies. (First of all, I’m not proud of that, and second, my kids turned out just fine!)

Unfortunately…

“Animal-based foods in the American diet accounted for about 85 percent of food-related greenhouse gas emissions in 2009 and about 90 percent of all agricultural land use”, according to a study by Nature and article by Climate Central. “Reducing global beef consumption is critical to keeping global warming to within 2°C (3.6°F) as outlined in the Paris climate agreement.”

Eat more fruits, veggies and grains instead. May I suggest Michael Pollan’s Food Rules? Turns out it’s an earth friendly diet as well as a bikini friendly diet. I’m certainly no vegetarian, but I do try to embrace Pollans ideas on what I eat and feed my family. Basically, I TRY to eat and feed by family real food. Mostly plants, not too much.

The EWG has a great graphic that breaks down how your food choices affect the climate if you’re interested.

Composting (Stay With Me Here)

Ask your garbage collection company to provide curbside composting (and start doing it if your garbage company already provides the service). I’m not asking you to do back yard composting, but by all means do that if you feel the inclination. Personally, I know that I should do back yard composting because food waste that goes into landfills produce methane (a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide) , but it’s gross! It’s stinky and even my husband (who grew up on an actual farm!) refuses to open that nasty composter to put stuff into it.

Fortunately, there’s nothing gross about curbside composting. It’s one more bin to take out, and you need to separate your trash from the food scraps (soon to be compost) but it’s really no big deal when you get used to it. Therefore, you would have three or four bins instead of two or three. 1.) Actual garbage that goes to a landfill and can not be recycled 2.) Recycling 4.) Yard waste (if that goes into a bin) and 3.) Compost – Food scarps, coffee filters, greasy paper etc.

There are so many more things that we can all do to limit greenhouse gases. I’ll cover more in Part 2.