Category: Climate Change

Let’s Make Climate Solutions CUTE :-)

LISTEN to this post — or read on . . .

So, what wackadoodle stuff happened last week? Let’s see . . .


> Well, I accidentally voted for a climate denier.

> A pretty dire climate report came out from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

> And Donald Trump claimed he would be arrested, and called on his supporters to “protest.” (I assume he meant the ones who aren’t already in jail themselves.)

Which do you think got all the press?

Definitely not the first one, which is why I walked over to my town hall after the polls opened on Tuesday and cast a vote for three people running unopposed: The mayor, a Democrat who was running for re-election, and who I really like. A good friend of mine, a moderate running for re-election as a village trustee, and who has helped me with everything from burst pipes in the basement to getting to urgent care after a dog bit me. And a third guy who I’ve met once or twice, newly running for one of the other trustee positions. I knew he was a Republican, which is not my party, but in little villages like this, positions like village trustee aren’t particularly party-oriented.

I was back home about half an hour later when I got a text from a friend a few doors down:

Hi Deb! (I’ll paraphrase the rest of her text.) Vote for the first two candidates, even though they’re unopposed, but DON’T vote for the third guy, who’s an ultra-right-wing Trumper. Instead vote for the write-in candidate who’s been added to the ballot by some concerned villagers.

Wait, what write-in candidate?

My two neighbors across the street from me knew about this, in addition to another tidbit about the guy on the ballot: that he’s a climate denier and, according to the neighbor, anti-environment. I’m not sure what the latter means, but I was very upset that I’d voted for him. Especially given that really small numbers of people tend to show up for these hyper-local elections, which means that when they say every vote counts, it’s legit real here. So I forwarded the text to a handful of other friends in my village, and waited to hear the results.

# # #

I fixed the cover of the IPCC Report. 🙂

Meanwhile, I checked out the new IPCC Climate Report released on Monday. I didn’t do very well reading the previous report, released in three parts over the last year, but since this one is a “Synthesis Report” (a summary of all three parts — i.e., shorter), I have more confidence in myself this time.

I actually started with the New York Times e-newsletter from that morning, whose opening story was a strong suggestion —practically a demand — that these reports (and the media who cover them) should include the temperatures in Fahrenheit in addition to Celsius, since no one in the U.S. gets how much hotter a few degrees Celsius really is. Because . . . well, why would we? I can barely figure out what I went all the way upstairs for. And Celsius-to-Fahrenheit math does not pop into my mind when I go back down to the kitchen, like my forgotten lip balm does.

Next I perused an article on the Times website, which, sadly, did NOT translate Celsius into Fahrenheit. I know it’s a big newspaper, but I guess the editor didn’t get the memo that morning?

And finally I opened the website for the Report itself, and clicked on “Press Release” to ease my way in. I like the opener . . .

Urgent climate action can secure a livable future for all.

INTERLAKEN, Switzerland, March 20, 2023 – There are multiple, feasible and effective options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to human-caused climate change, and they are available now, said scientists in the latest IPCC report released today . . .

Well, that sounds like pretty good news. Right?

I guess they wanted to suck us in with a positive message at the top, because the rest of the press release is kind of a horror show. Think language like “current plans are insufficient to tackle climate change” and “burning fossil fuels . . . has [already] led to global warming of 1.1°C” and “Every increment of warming results in rapidly escalating hazards” and . . . okay, I’ll stop.

(You can read the release yourself here if you dare.) (Actually, you should read the press release; it’s simply written and very informative.)

And I believe it was during the press conference that the U.N. Secretary-General (and Trekkie?) said this:

We must move into warp speed climate action now.

—António Guterres
“Are we at warp speed?” “Not yet, captain.” “Dammit.”

Humanity is on thin ice, baby. Pun intended. And the new report wasn’t even able to take into consideration Biden’s approval the week earlier of the “Willow” oil-drilling project in Alaska, which could produce up to 180,000 barrels of crude oil each day. EACH. DAY. It’s estimated that the project will add more than 250 million metric tons of CO2 to the atmosphere over the next 30 years.

“Willow.” That’s cute. And yeah, I still don’t know exactly what a metric ton of CO2 looks like, but I do know 250 million of anything is a LOT.

And the solutions to this teetering game of climate Jenga really are all about energy production. How we produce what it takes to run everything we need and want — from keeping our houses warm in the winter to fueling our cars for spring adventures; from making our big-screen TVs to our tiny, supposedly “recyclable” Keurig pods. (I myself refrain from the last two things, but DAMN, my heating oil bill is ridiculous. Had I known, I could have easily covered the cost of installing an energy-efficient heat pump system by now — even as a renter!)

And I’ll explain what’s up with those sneaky little Keurig pods in the Waste chapter of my book, which is coming along.

Resist the pod.

Later that day, I checked on our village election. No results yet. I did come across a video that takes viewers through the new Synthesis Report at a nice pace. Paul Beckwith is a “climate systems” guy in Canada. He’s not Wikipedia level, but he made easy work of reading the report, going quickly through each point it makes.

Beckwith’s monitor. It’s just easier reading along with someone else.

Here are a few entertaining comments from Beckwith on some of the language in the report; his comments are in italics:

On still trying to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius: “Yeah, good luck with THAT.”

[Note from the Editor (that’s me): Temps have already gone up 1.1°C (1.9°F) since the Industrial Revolution, and they ain’t goin’ down. At least not until the next Ice Age, which wasn’t scheduled for another 100,000 years, given the Earth’s slightly varying orbit, and now it’s running an additional 50,000 to 100,000 years late, due to our playing fast & loose with fossil fuels.]

[Oh, and did anyone else but me just get that the 1.5°C (2.7°F) limit we need to pull off is compared to temperatures in the 1800s?? I thought the baseline was now! That means we have less than half a degree Celsius to go until we start to lose some really awesome islands.]

On the “hopeful outcomes” in the report (pictured below left), Beckwith muttered: “These are already becoming fantasies at this point.”

What we need to be doing.
What we are doing.
Nerve-calming cuteness.

On the fact that fossil fuels have very high energy density: “We based our whole society on it. The only thing that has higher energy density, and by far, is NUCLEAR. Perhaps if we went to nuclear power full bore—built nuclear power plants everywhere. Um . . . [brief pause for thoughts of Chernobyl?] Is it possible to replace our whole baseline with solar and wind? Although solar and wind are increasing, fossil fuels—coal, oil and natural gas—are increasing more and more.” (See the aforementioned Willow Project.)

Here’s a helpful hint Beckwith shared: A barrel of crude oil contains 1700 kW hours of energy. A human, doing manual labor, can generate a mere 0.6 kW hours in a given workday. So one barrel of oil is equivalent to 11 years of human labor. I don’t know if that’s based on a 40-hour work week, or if we’re talking feudal system here. I don’t think serfs got many coffee breaks. Also, I did not do the math myself, but I think we’ve got a LOT more renewables to create.

Nearing the end of the report: “You don’t need to go to a horror movie. You can just read this report.” (Pretty sure that’s a comparison I mentioned above.)

Wrapping it up: “There’s no one solution. All of these things can kind of work at the pie, but we’re just not doing it at the moment. Could we change? I dunno. It is what it is.


I’m sleeeeepyyyyy . . . I just want to crawl into bed and check out the Zoe Lister-Jones movie from last year, How It Ends.

Cuteness break!
(This little fluffernutter looks like how I feel.)

So . . . maybe we should colonize Mars after all?

A friend of mine out in Silicon Valley had a conversation recently with a tech bro, who told her that the “tech community” thinks the only way we’ll survive at this point is to find another planet. So that’s what he and his startup are working on. And word has it they’re not the only ones.

These Other-Earthers* kill me. As if it would be EASIER to travel 100+ million miles and turn a lifeless planet into something habitable than just STOPPING the burning of fossil fuels on THIS ONE. Knowing that the tech bros embrace this plan makes it clear to me that they’re also racist (or at least otherist) a-holes, because who else but the rich and privileged could get there?? It makes my blood boil.

*(My term; feel free to make up your own)

Above: Mars now, or the Earth if we don’t do anything?

The Mars-like photo above is actually a rocky crater in Southern Israel, part of a study with six astronauts to simulate a month of living on the red planet. Why don’t we send the tech bros to live there? Regarding Mars itself, space scientists (a very technical term, obviously) have learned from our cute little Martian rover** that landed (courtesy of NASA) in the dry, wind-scoured patch of Martian rock known as the Jezero crater was once a lake fed by an ancient river. But ultimately the lake and river dried out, due to . . . ? Anyone . . . ? Climate change. So why do these tech dumballs think we should start building condos there, instead of preventing the same thing from happening here on Earth? Have at it, bros.

**(Our $2.7 billion rover, named Perseverance)

(Yep, “billion” with a “b.” Again, I ask, how many climate bombs could that have deactivated?)

Perseverance sends us selfies from Mars.
Adorbs, right? Maybe we can anthropomorphize wind turbines, and make solar panels cuter?

How ’bout, instead of moving to Mars, we just learn from it? Because here’s another fun fact . . .

It’s art, Florida man. Biblical, no less.

Some geological detective work was done by scientists who noticed large boulders — shaped by water — in the upper layers of the Jezero crater’s cliffs. Check this out: They suspect the boulders were deposited during massive flash flooding powerful enough to transform the Martian watershed. Intense rainfall, rapid snowmelt, or melting glacier ice could have all sent floodwaters raging. 

We have melting glaciers here on Earth. But it took millions of years for the ones on Mars to melt and then evaporate. Here they’re melting within our lifetimes.

(BTW, the paper, published in the journal Science, says it like this: “The uppermost fan strata are composed of boulder conglomerates, which imply deposition by episodic high-energy floods. This sedimentary succession indicates a transition from sustained hydrologic activity in a persistent lake environment to highly energetic short-duration fluvial flows.” Some cocktail party banter for ya.)

Oh, shoot, I forgot, humans aren’t causing our planet to warm, right? And Michelangelo’s David is porno. (Although I don’t think David would be cast in today’s films, if you get my continental drift.)

OH, and I got the election results! OMG!! We did it! The write-in candidate won!!! The climate denier LOST! Okay, that gives me a wee ray of hope.

And FYI, it was 55 votes to 127 write-in votes. This is what I’m saying.

Hey, why don’tcha subscribe to this blog below for further bonkers updates? And feel free to leave a comment — in all caps if you so desire.

I’m off to my little village cinema for a double feature . . . or to a county meeting of “concerned citizens” who are fighting a solar farm development. I haven’t decided which yet. Stay tuned . . .


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Citizen Deb’s Year-End Recap: The State of the Planet (and My Heart)

New! LISTEN to this blog here. Or just read on . . .
Over and out.

Have I ever mentioned that, a few years ago, as part of a workshop, I created a “possibility” for who I am in the world?

After playing around with various options, I announced to the room:

“I am the possibility of contribution wrapped in fun.”

I often forget that. Or wonder if “contribution” was something I felt I should say. I do like fun, though, and think I’m pretty good at it. And come to think of it, I’m not bad at contributing, either. Some might say that’s an understatement, given my bossy-pants/know-it-all tendencies. At least I can say both come naturally.

I’d already created this blog, as an easily digestable way to help people get their heads around environmental issues, and what to do about them . . . between jobs, dentist appointments, $1 oyster nights at the pub, and so forth. And then I decided to create the book I’m now working on. Which is similar to the blog . . . but longer.

News flash: “Longer” takes longer. But you can read the latest excerpt HERE.

Oh, well, I guess the planet’s not going anywhere. And a new year always feels like a good time to regroup. Especially when December saw your full-time gig end, and your love life go up in flames. (I’ll cover the latter down at the end of this post, if you’re interested. Look for the gas can.)

Meanwhile I’ll take this opportunity to quickly get us all up to speed on the progress, setbacks, and downright insanity of our society’s planetary stewardship (and/or lack thereof), so you don’t have to.

Read More…

Happy Holidays, citizens

Well, my Christmas cards are mailed (not), presents wrapped (also not), and I’m all packed for Christmas with the extended family (not either, although I do have a load of laundry in*, which is a start). I did go to three holiday parties this weekend—Friday, Saturday and Sunday—which may explain some of the above.

But the book is coming along! Especially since my 2-week full-time freelance gig (which turned into a year and a half) is finally over. But you don’t need to know about that. In fact, instead of complaining, why don’t I give you a wee excerpt from the chapter I’m working on? That would be the Climate chapter.

This section is fairly close to the beginning of it, so you can just jump right in . . .

“GHGs.” Raise your hand if you don’t even know what that is. Or if you do know that it stands for greenhouse gases, which make things warmer—but you just want to take a nap.

Maybe some of you are like, If things are heating up, what happened to “global warming”? Why did that term get the kibosh?

And how does [climate change / GHGs / eating cheeseburgers] bring on hurricanes that level entire towns in Florida, flattening trailer parks; and fires in California that annihilate—I’ll just say it—a lot of really nice wine?

Like, is climate change really that bad? How hot exactly is it gonna get, and why I can’t I just enjoy the warmer winters?

All valid questions, I think.

Because this is where it’s all at. The real-life “Is the human species going to survive?” front-page story. It truly is an existential crisis putting future generations in a real pinch.

Trouble is, we can’t keep our eye on the ball, because whenever people around here start to realize it’s become an important enough issue to actually do something about, other people suddenly do stupid shit that pulls focus away from this super-important issue onto other super-important but shorter-term fires that need to be put out. Like a handful of randos in fancy robes taking away women’s reproductive rights. Or folks dismantling our democracy, gathering up the pieces, and pitching them into a giant incinerator. Or firing them into a classroom. Shit like that.

But your girl here has you covered. I’ma explain to you what this science-y, bodiless, scary but easy-to-ignore dull roar in the background actually IS, how it started, whose fault it is, and how we’re gonna stop it so your cute nephew (in my case) doesn’t end up wandering around a real-life Mad Max landscape looking for grubs to stuff into his hungry face. You think I’m kidding.

That said, there are widely differing possible scenarios, depending on a) what we do now as a species; and b) who’s reporting the scenario.

Last week, I saw two conflicting stories:

The first story reported that “Thanks to real progress, we’re headed toward a less apocalyptic future.” Does anyone find “less apocalyptic” . . . comforting?

The headline on the second story was “Climate Pledges Are Falling Short, and a Chaotic Future Looks More Like Reality.”

So . . . the future is less apocalyptic . . . but a chaotic future is more of a reality? Is “apocalyptic” farther down on some scientific flowchart than “chaotic”? Does it go, like, “utopian,” “awesome,” “getting by,” “kinda shitty,” “chaotic,” “apocalyptic”?

And by the way, the two stories were published on the same day. Both in the New York Times. Also, climate activists are throwing mashed potatoes on Monet paintings as I write this, and some guy GLUED HIS HEAD to Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring.”

I’m so confused. And on so many levels.

I’m the cat. (Courtesy

That’s it for now. Like I said, a wee excerpt. My plan is to do a year-end environmental recap here next week . . . so don’t give me anymore eggnog until I’m done with that.


*(I just realized I forgot to put the load of laundry in. Will do that now . . . )