Silence Into Action

After 45 days, Itzcuauhtli completed his silent strike with 1.5 million people joining his Thunderclap. If you ever needed a reason to smile about climate disruption, listen to his first message after ending a courageous silence.

What does he mean, YOU are the world leaders? Hear more at and become a leader.

This week NY Governor Cuomo banned fracking, President Obama protected Bristol Bay, Alaska from oil and gas, and WA Governor Inslee announced his Carbon plan. Let’s celebrate these HUGE BABY STEPS forward ending the fossil era!

Picture a kid shouldering a fully-loaded backpack before starting up Mt Rainier. That’s us! Balancing that load for the first stand-up moment feels triumphant! It’s the beginning… snap a photo, grab a map, and start climbing that mountain!

Meanwhile climate talks in Peru left the world’s nations in disarray with no hope for a meaningful agreement at the critical PARIS 2015 talks next year. How did world leaders say so much yet do nothing? Here’s an example:

John Kerry at the U.N. climate talks gives his best speech. He cites the world’s best scientists in a call for dramatic personal, social, and political action. he leans way too hard on impoverished, developing nations in a world of killer poverty, to pick up the bill for some of the U.S. pollution we grew wealthy spewing into our air. Nonetheless, he shoulders his responsibility as a statesman-scientist admirably right up until he declares, “We are proud of these [U.S. pollution] targets!”

In a sign of how harmful international talks have become, the climate champion of the last 25 years ignores timetables (from the very scientists he names) on how quickly we must act and asks, “Are we going to do it fast enough?”

According to scientists Kerry names in his speech, U.S. pollution ‘goals’ not only put our own children on course for exceeding 2C warming to disrupt ecosystems enough to unmake Western civilization, but our ‘goals’ also irreversibly eliminate more than half of species on earth, change the face of the planet and disrupt land & marine ecosystems going forward millions of years. Billions of people will suffer needlessly for centuries to come.

Does that sound like something to be proud of? Instead of aiming for climate recovery, the U.S. Secretary of State hikes down the wrong trail with an old map. In his view, if we refuse to get serious, we strand our kids and everybody else halfway up the mountain with zero chance to get back home. Why not check the map?

Money & power. The world’s poor don’t have any. Future generations don’t have any. It’s up to world leaders like you and me to give them the power to live in peace. Because worldwide, yes BlackLivesMatter.

If politics is the art of the Possible, climate recovery is the art of the Necessary, where Science maps our terrain, not politicians. What can you do?

Learn climate recovery science. Then school our climate champions on how urgent this has become for young people. Reduce your footprint, and help your loved ones do the same.

Read James Hansen’s timetable for climate recovery, the one paper every person needs to understand, submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of youth, (including Itzcuauhtli’s brother) who are suing the government for a habitable planet, details a map back to safety that looks something like this,

  • 6% per year decrease in Greenhouse Gas pollution, beginning in 2013 (oops!)
  • coupled with 100GtCarbon CO2 worth of reforestation (or more than 1,000 billion trees)
  • might restore the climate to 350ppm CO2 in the atmosphere near 2100.

In other words, only drastic, liberating action immediately for the next few years keeps our kids chance alive for a climate that protects young people, future generations, and nature.

Half of CO2 we emit today lingers in the air for 25 years, the rest for centuries. Without decisive action starting now, before 2020, we mathematically surrender more and more life centuries from now. Today we hold the right to protect them, the future generations we hear about in every speech on climate. Yet every year we have surrendered more of that right, and have given up on more species. No more.

Who do you choose to lead us? John Kerry a true climate champion, or the people and a boy who is willing to give up something we think we can’t live without “for everybody else’s future”. Go to to take action.

Go to to plant some TREES! If 1,000 billion trees tips the equation in our favor, when you plant for the planet, and you plant for our survival.

Restoring climate balance now is the Wonderland journey of this decade. We take steps together both hard and joyful, beautiful and unbearable. But let’s never forget where we’re headed, a peaceful world for the next seven generations free and equal, just and lush, prosperous and caring, rising up from the killer consumer culture we leave behind.

Want a little music for your journey?

5th Grade Promotion Address

As we start the school year, listen to the incredibly wise words of this graduating 5th grader speaking to his school in June 2013, a transcript sent to me from his teacher along with a simple note:

I thought you might like to read Michael G’s promotion address. Just in case we ever wonder about the impact we have on children, the seeds we help plant or gardens we help cultivate – here’s testimony your effect on him and to the amazing ability of children – this one especially, a gifted  and profound thinker. I hope you enjoy it and thanks for all you do for all of us. –K

5th Grade Promotion Address by Michael G.

All humans are different – or so they say. But really we are more or less the same.
Now, close your eyes. Imagine a cell floating in a vast, empty body of sea water. Then
imagine the cell splitting into two new cells.

This is the foundation for all life on earth- Humans, dogs, cats, birds, the trees in which
the birds perch, even the moss on the curbside, all come from that one cell splitting. But this is
not the only way we are the same.

We share hopes, dreams, fears, promises, strengths, weakness, interests, and a wish for a
better tomorrow. Some of you may remember Michael Foster, the Plant for the Planet guy. He,
along with Islandwood, the PMR fieldtrip, the ISP and even the green team members on their
shifts, taught us that the world needs to be cared for.

Look to the person next to you. Not only does what you do to harm the environment
affect you, it also affects that person next to you. This is how we are all connected.

Team work is what makes humans human. For instance when the first Homo Habilis left
Africa, the team work that they had adapted when they were on the Australopithecus Africanus
stage of the evolutionary ladder helped them out in this new unfamiliar climate. And even back
in their earlier stage they had adapted skills of team work to defend against forbidding threats.
You see how evolution and team work are tied in. Team work is essential for survival. At their
core humans are social animals.

Some of us remember Fun Day, the day where we went to the beach. At first, we
scattered like dandelion seeds in the wind. But at the end of the day, many of us worked together
on an elaborate canal system. No one told us to do it; we just did it as social beings, classmates,
brethren, and friends. We are bonded by our shared past, and our hopes for the future.

I remember the day I came to Lincoln in 4th grade-only knew 4 kids, 2 of them barely.
But because the kids here are so welcoming to new students, I ended up befriending the vast
majority of the 4th graders. I have gotten to know not only today’s 5th graders, but many kids in
other grades. Because kids here at Lincoln stay so open and willing to connect with new comers,
many kids arriving this year have made many new friends like I did.

And as we progress into Hamilton Middle School, keep in mind that we must all be
connected, and must remain so even when we part and go our separate ways. For there are many
challenges along the Road of Life, and you are always going to need someone to help you out
with these challenges.

As a final action in my elementary school career, I would like to thank everyone for
helping my progress, for listening to this speech, and for just enjoying this unique day.
Thank you.

Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Community in an Age of Transition

Excellent video introduction of the book.

Sacred Economics traces the history of money from ancient gift economies to modern capitalism, revealing how the money system has contributed to alienation, competition, and scarcity, destroyed community, and necessitated endless growth. Today, these trends have reached their extreme—but in the wake of their collapse, we may find great opportunity to transition to a more connected, ecological, and sustainable way of being.” –text from the listing. But you don’t need a credit card to read the book Sacred Economics because it’s free.

Walking the talk, Charles Eisenstein, the author, makes his book available to read for free as a gift on his website. If you like it, you can simply pay-what-you-want based on how feel about reading it, a demonstration of Sacred Economics in action.

This is so radical, and nothing new. My mother-in-law makes everyday an incredible example of a giving economy, volunteering, calling neighbors to find out what they need, anticipating demand with a free supply; it puts a smile on her face and makes her heart strong. All the baby blankets she makes and fresh banana bread she bakes, all for thanks, some for friends she doesn’t yet know, given simply because she can, make her the wealthiest woman I know.

She went to sleepaway camp this week near Mount Rainier, a woman over 80 who never went to summer camp as a child herself, having a ball, volunteering with Stanley Stamm to make summer camp possible for special children.

Why can’t we apply that same sense of love and joy and connection to everything we do? What if work simply meant what you do for people? Let’s learn to live life enriching our connections and giving. Let’s make all our connections sacred.

Transition at The Local 101

Yesterday I dropped my daughters off for a week at Grandma’s house in Port Angeles. Driving home I stopped to meet the owner of a burger joint on Discovery Bay located between the ferries and Port Angeles, the perfect distance for an electric car quick-charging station on Highway 101 that could juice up Seattle and Port Angeles electric vehicles everyday, and the government might help pay for it.
It was a giant mistake walking in there… Or was it?
I had spoken to this business owner a few times by phone as an electric car driver who wants to get my kids to Grandma’s house without polluting the air, and needs a place to stop for a quick-charge and a bite. With several thousand Nissan Leaf drivers in Seattle now with the same driving range, the burger joint stands to gain a steady stream of new customers. But when I said the “government can help pay for it” the scary old regular on the next barstool lit into me. And he didn’t quit.
Before the Vietnam veteran finished his anti-government assault on me and the hippies, the customers had taken their burgers outside on the deck to eat. I tried at first to make some points and made it worse. He barked me into listening to him and then when he finished, I asked for my turn, he said “no” and left. As I apologized and walked to the door, the owner called me back and said, “You should talk to Casey down the road. He’s opening up a new place in the old store. He’s into this kind of thing.”
2 minutes later I walked into a gutted building with paint buckets and cabinets all strewn about, where a young fit bearded guy fiddled with a vise. When I said, “electric quick-charger” he lit up, but not like the old veteran. This vibrant young man is building a family-friendly organic produce and fish market/pub/playspace/orchard/outdoor adventure business and a picnic area/bus stop he plans to call “The Local 101, the perfect distance from the ferries for a stop and a stretch, especially with young kids. And the little creek over there has thousands of salmon going up it every year.” He was immediately picturing the place for a quick-charger, “maybe 3!”
 He asked me, “Have you read Sacred Economics? That was the book that changed everything for me, local sustainable community. I’ve got a little kid now, and we’ve got to do everything differently if they’re going to have a good life.”
So he talked to friends and family. They helped him buy a place — 10 acres just up the hill — and the run-down store complex to fix up so he can sell local sustainable goods from the peninsula at a gathering place for locals and travelers. He’s pursuing his dream with lots of help,  “I couldn’t do this on my own, no way! I’d never dream of it, but now we’re doing it! We’ve got to do it. For our kids. I mean really, live into Transition or… what? What other choice is there?”
We had one of the best conversations I’ve had in months, only minutes after one of the worst.  I helped Casey get connected with a quick charger, and he helped me grow my project, Plant-For-The-Planet. While he asked about getting the car chargers, he never asked about electric cars, and before I left I found out why. “I can ride my horse to work.”
Today I mailed a thank you card with an apology to the owner of the burger joint for helping me out instead of throwing me out.
Look for Casey at “The Local 101” opening sometime around April 2014 near the intersection of SR 20. And hopefully you can plug in while your kids enjoy some local delights.

The Green Boat by Mary Pipher


Mary Pipher's new book is a wonderful description of the trauma, anxiety, joy and comfort of facing the impossible by coming together to take action against the odds.
Mary Pipher’s new book is a wonderful description of the trauma, anxiety, joy and comfort of facing the impossible by coming together to take action against the odds.


Living on Earth: Saving Ourselves- The Green Boat

Click on the link above to listen to “Living On Earth” radio interview with Mary Pipher, best-selling author of Reviving Ophelia, as she describes her inspiring journey into activism, and discusses her new book, The Green Boat, Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture. In her interviews, her actions, and in her book, she says it much better than I can, so check your speaker volume and tune in.

A grandmother herself, Mary Pipher turns her attention to the psychological roots of our difficulty in facing and addressing climate change, and to her own struggle against despair, trying to cope with the impending loss of everything we care for, which led her to take action in her community.


Now enjoy Video (below) of the Grandmothers Apple Pie Brigade, a group Mary Pipher helped found with her friends and neighbors to take on the Keystone XL pipeline when it came to her home in Nebraska. An unlikely group of activists comes together to spread a unifying vision of what makes home.

A certain day…

A certain day became a presence to me;
there it was, confronting me–a sky, air, light:
a being. And before it started to descend
from the height of noon, it leaned over
and struck my shoulder as if with
the flat of a sword, granting me
honor and a task. The day’s blow
rang out, metallic–or it was I, a bell awakened,
and what I heard was my whole self
saying and singing what it knew: I can.

–Denise Levertov

iMatter boy

Savor the solstice! and happy summertime.

They Matter (VIDEO)

A beautiful, moving video from the iMatter Earth Day March back in April, reminding us to love our kids, and our only home. Our children have some strong words for us to hear and honor. They depend on us to protect their future.

The children were protesting the proposal to expand coal exports through Seattle and the Northwest from 2 – 3 trains per day to 18 – 37 trains per day, so Peabody Coal can sell it as quickly as possible to Asia for the next few years. The additional CO2 emissions will more than equal the emissions from the Keystone XL pipeline if allowed.

Our PBS station created a wonderful documentary, COAL. Here’s a preview:

The Divesters!

Pretend you are a Marvel superhero at the climax of the latest summer blockbuster. The evil psychopaths are two minutes away from successfully wiping out life on Earth. Your kids, pets, house, purple mountains, favorite band, everything, sea to shining sea, the whole planet is depending on you. Is there anything you wouldn’t do? Any risk you wouldn’t take? How much would it be worth to you to stop the final annihilation of life on earth?

Silly superhero question: Would you invest part of your retirement portfolio in the villain’s corporation?

Guess what? That’s your choice today. Your superhero task? Change your behavior, starting with your investments, before it’s too late. Ask your superhero self, will I divest from fossil fuels and get everybody else to do the same? Can we leave carbon in the ground to save life on Earth?

You can use a simple toolkit online to divest. Join 300 “Fossil Free” campaigns today at universities, schools, churches, cities, private foundations to eliminate our carbon investments. Divestment successfully draws attention to change a corrupt system. “Today,” one minister recently wrote, “the American economy is as entangled in fossil fuels as it was in slavery in the 1850’s.”

The Carbon Bubble

The fossil fuel industry has 5 times more carbon in reserves currently on the books than we can safely burn. Energy producers must leave at least 80% of reserves in the ground if humans want to survive this mess.

The industry must agree to do business in light of climate science:

•             They need immediately to stop exploring for new hydrocarbons.

•             They need to stop lobbying in Washington and state capitols across the country to preserve their special breaks.

•             Most importantly, they need to pledge to keep 80% of their current reserves underground forever.

Forget the energy renaissance, Arctic drilling, hydro-fracking technology, forget new exploration when you can’t safely burn 20% of the stuff you’ve already got.

Shareholder’s Report

Can we properly value a corporation based on how much carbon they hold and refine, if 80% of that must be preserved underground?

At the rate we’re burning carbon, we can only risk another 16 – 17 years of dirty energy at most. Are you planning on living another 20 years? I am. It’s going to be a different world. Before 2050 a fossil-free world. I can’t wait.

Scientists predict 6 – 8% reductions every year going forward starting in 2013 will get CO2 back to levels for which life is adapted, below 350ppm. Delay until 2020 to start? 15% annual reductions, cost the world trillions more, meanwhile risk runaway climate feedbacks. A morally bankrupt choice, by anybody’s accounting.

I can’t retire on money from the very corporations that, to keep their share prices high, spend millions to increase market saturation and make our children’s future suffering as difficult as possible. Only one industry removes carbon from where it’s been safely stored underground for millions of years. There is no way to drill, frack, strip mine, or blow up mountains sustainably.

I’m a conservative; I want to preserve my planet as it was when I grew up. I teach my kids, “You make a mess, you clean it up.” Simple. Leave the earth living for someone else to enjoy.

Radicals tell the public that you can’t trust greedy NASA scientists. Radicals pay lobbyists to re-write the laws, as if they can break the laws of physics and nature. Radicals accelerate the uncontrolled climate experiment they are running with our only planet. 90 million tons of greenhouse gas pollution every day! That’s geo-engineering!

When will they stop? That completely depends on you and me.

I’m a carbon addict in recovery. Since W left the White House I haven’t purchased gas for my car. Since we heat our home carbon-free, we disconnected the gas line. I eat no meat, drink tap water not bottled, buy local when I can. I won’t ride in a plane. But my individual carbon footprint (20% of an avg American) will only protect my kids once I get you to lower yours too.

Together we can immediately initiate this rapid transition away from carbon, as the International Energy Agency recommended this week in their report, Redrawing the Energy- Climate Map.

Like that superhero in the movie, my actions shape the future of life on Earth. And yours do too! We are re-writing our future. We are the generation that goes into history books for doing something no other generation has ever done: We rescue all life as we know it from certain disaster. We do it by getting everybody on the same team. We’ll do it right now, in this decade, because that’s all the time we’ve got. I know we’ll do it because NOT doing it, NOT giving it everything we’ve got, NOT saving millions of years of biodiversity and thousands of years of human civilization and everything you ever cared about… that’s NOT an option! Humans caused it, humans will stop it.

One way to stop: Join the Fossil Free campaign. Divest all holdings from these fuel corporations whose business success ends life on Earth. Get your church, school, and city to divest, while you can make a difference.

Let’s look at how to live well, not large. Live simply that others may simply live. Give them a future to look forward to, a future they can love. Live a life that gives life, for others. Let’s all leave something behind we can be proud of.

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you never intend to sit.”

Happy Father’s Day!

Climate Reality Leadership Mt Rainier Retreat at Wellspring Spa

climate-reality-leadership-corps-190x240I’ve been very lucky in my life, but one of the luckiest things I’ve ever done is attend a 3-day training event led by Al Gore in August 2012, which is the reason this website exists and explains all the volunteer work that I’ve done this year. The Climate Reality Project is Al Gore’s educational effort, which has trained  over 3,000 leaders in over 50 countries to present Mr. Gore’s powerpoint slideshow made famous in the movie “An Inconvenient Truth” (2006), now customized for our local audiences and continuously updated with new slides and ongoing research. (The Upcoming Events that say Climate Reality or Slideshow are my presentations for local audiences.)

And very lucky again, when this weekend 12 of us Climate Leaders from around Washington and Oregon gathered for a retreat — the first of it’s kind — at a beautiful little place called Wellspring Spa near the entrance to the sacred mountain, Tahoma, Mt. Rainier National Park. The owner is a mom who devoted the last 30 years of her life to creating this unique collection of cabins (and a treehouse). She also hosted Al Gore when he visited Mt. Rainier years ago, and became a Climate Leader with us in 2012.

We spent Friday Saturday and Sunday in a yurt sharing ideas and research, improving our presentations and looking at trends. As a team we were welcomed and ended with a native blessing from our native Climate Leader Dan Carpita, an elder who works with youth and addictions. He shared native ceremony and wisdom  from his experience, helping us feel our Carbon Addiction more fully for what it really is.

The gathering, not only inspiring, underscored the urgency and importance of sharing what we know about climate in our presentations, and also in our interactions with neighbors, friends, and families. Most of the people reading this blog know more than we tell about our current climate crisis and what we need to do in our daily lives. By talking about it, regularly, we can make the “invisible emergency” visible, and the behavioral solutions will become the rule not the alternative, as in “Should I walk to the park or drive?”

Our kids deserve a chance at a habitable future. Let’s do something different each day to make that our new Climate Reality.

Real-Life ‘Man Who Planted Trees’ in India

mulai woodsIf one boy can plant an entire forest on a barren sandbar in a river, then imagine how much we can accomplish working together with that same dedication. Enjoy this story of a man who planted trees!

Way back in 1979, floods had washed a great number of snakes onto the sandbar. When Payeng — then only 16 — found them, they had all died.

“The snakes died in the heat, without any tree cover. I sat down and wept over their lifeless forms. It was carnage,” Payeng told the Times Of India.

“I alerted the forest department and asked them if they could grow trees there. They said nothing would grow there. Instead, they asked me to try growing bamboo. It was painful, but I did it. There was nobody to help me,” he told the newspaper.

Now that once-barren sandbar is a sprawling 1,360 acre forest, home to several thousands of varieties of trees and an astounding diversity of wildlife — including birds, deer, apes, rhino, elephants and even tigers.

The forest, aptly called the “Molai woods” after its creator’s nickname, was single-handedly planted and cultivated by one man — Payeng, who is now 47.

According to the Asian Age, Payeng has dedicated his life to the upkeep and growth of the forest. Accepting a life of isolation, he started living alone on the sandbar as a teenager — spending his days tending the burgeoning plants.

Molai_Payeng IndiaToday, Payeng still lives in the forest. He shares a small hut with his wife and three children and makes a living selling cow and buffalo milk.

According to the Assistant Conservator of Forests, Gunin Saikia, it is perhaps the world’s biggest forest in the middle of a river.

“We were surprised to find such a dense forest on the sandbar,” Saikia told the Times Of India, adding that officials in the region only learned of Payeng’s forest in 2008.

Finally, Payeng may get the help — and recognition — he deserves.

“[Locals] wanted to cut down the forest, but Payeng dared them to kill him instead. He treats the trees and animals like his own children. Seeing this, we, too, decided to pitch in,” Saikia said.

originally posted in Treehugger