Bill McKibben

Earth Day 2011- Happy (B)Earth Day!!

I'm a long time reuser & recycler - & since my mind has been otherwise occupied lately & I didn't write up anything new for Earth Day this year, I'm going to give links to a few items I wrote for Earth Day 2009. There is nothing in them that is obsolete, I think. For sure, I no longer live in Deep River, but I'm betting the library there still has all those neat books I recommended in my column for the local paper.

For sure too, there is a good (if not complete) list of good & inspiring things you can watch here.


Another Earth Day comes, & goes. If only, if only, if only! we humans would behave as though every day was Earth Day, hmmm?

Happy (B)Earth Day, whichever way you slice it, & wherever you are!

Here are the items I mentioned:

Earth Day 2009

Earth Day - Happy (B)Earth Day!

Earth Day 2009 - A Photo Essay


P.S. '12 Things YOU Can Do' was not written for Earth Day (can't remember now when I wrote it!?), but it too has some good tips & links. '15 Tips for environmentally friendly & frugal family life' is an oldie - written way back when I still had fond hopes of actually making a bit of $$$ with my writing. The tips are still applicable!!

P.P.S. Hey! Take 15 minutes & allow yourself to be inspired by Activist Extraordinaire Bill McKibben. It's a speech he gave in Washington. SO worth your time!!!

'Quote of the day' with this post: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” ~ Dr. Seuss in The Lorax

If I Had a Million Dollars…

This tune from the Barenaked Ladies song started going through my head a few minutes ago as I was finishing reading the introduction to the book Healing the Planet – One Patient at a Time, by Dr. Jozef J. Krop (published in 2002, in Canada, & with a Foreword by Dr. Rosalie Bertell of the International Institute of Concern for Public Health).

I have a bunch of books I need to read in the next while.

Disconnect, by Devra Davis (“the truth about cell phone radiation, what the industry has done to hide it, and how to protect your family”), published in 2010 (this book was a National Book Award Finalist).

Dodging the Toxic Bullet – How to Protect Yourself from Everyday Environmental Health Hazards, by David R. Boyd, published in 2010….

Eaarth – Making A Life on a Tough New Planet, by Bill McKibben, published in 2010(how the earth has already changed drastically due to human-induced climate change, & what we must do about it).

Healing the Planet – One Patient at a Time, by Dr. Jozef J. Krop (as mentioned).

There’s Lead in Your Lipstick – Toxins in Our Everyday Body Care and How to Avoid Them, by Gillian Deacon, newly published (2011).

And other titles.

So far, Healing the Planet by Dr. Krop has me mesmerized & wishing I had a million dollars – so I could buy enough copies of his book for my two children, at least 5 or maybe 10 or 15 friends I can think of – my ex-husband, even! (He’s a former educator, & Dr. Krop has soooooo much to say about our children & how they are reeling not just from individual family problems & social conditions but also the utterly ubiquitous environmental contaminants.) Plus at least one sibling, maybe 2 or heck, all 3.

And then, of course, enough copies of the other books on the list for various friends, acquaintances, family members & libraries.

There are other books I’d like to buy & distribute around by the caseload too, of course.

Broken Open, by Elizabeth Lesser.

A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle.

& others too numerous to name…

I guess what all these books have in common is that they make clear, brilliant, heartfelt diagnoses of what is “wrong” with our culture – along with kick-ass, practical suggestions for all of us to get off our butts & fix our lives (& health) & that of the entire planet.

No excuses, no lollygagging, no victim nonsense, no “why is this happening to ME” – just clear communications about the nature of our illusions, & our excuses & our apathy & our reliance on broken systems of all kinds – whether these are political, medical, educational, corporate, monetary, or even mostly our own personal mind system! (And, in the case of Broken Open, greatly compassionate & so poignant about how we are all of us in the same darn leaky boat – all of us, every one of us, just another “bozo on the bus.”)

So much of what is wrong is mind-made, as Joanna Macy reminds us.

And we CAN choose to change our minds!

It takes energy, it takes courage – it takes a village, readers!! A great big global village – that’s us; all of us!!

We might have to turn off the TV (& the cell phone, & the computer, & the I-pod, & the I-phone).

We might need to go for a walk every day to clear our heads of all the invasive noise & nonsense & distraction our culture fills them up with.

We might need to read some challenging & provocative articles & books.

And we might need to get off our butts & commit to changing this crazy old hurting world.

Don’t we owe this to our children & grandchildren???

Of COURSE we do! We definitely, definitely do!!


P.S. Thanks to Dorothy & Mary for lending me the Boyd, Deacon & Krop books!!

P.P.S.The Barenaked Ladies song ends, “If I had a million dollars, I’d be rich!” Well, I’m already wealthy (if not rich) – but I sure could use some cash to buy a whole whack of great books for people!!!!

P.P.S. Can’t resist adding a link to the very fun & clever YouTube from last summer – “If I had a billion dollars” – celebrating our wonderful (not) Canadian Prime Minister & his cronies’ decision to build a fake lake in Toronto for the G20 summit attendees. Apparently having lost sight of the fact that our own lovely (if very polluted) Lake Ontario is within easy seeing & walking distance of the summit activities. Ah, politicians, eh? I guess no one expects them to actually make any sense….

‘Quote of the day’with this post: “Lies are infinite in number, and the truth so small and singular.” – from The Lacuna, a wonderful novel by Barbara Kingsolver (pg. 247).

Runner-up quotes: “A book should serve as an axe for the frozen sea within us.” – Franz Kafka & “A politician is required to listen to humbug, talk humbug, condone humbug. The most we can hope for is that we don’t actually believe it.” – Character in P.D. James’ A Taste for Death

Christmas: Book, Music, Film, & Magazine Tips!!

I am a serious book addict – & make no apologies about this. I’d venture to say the world might be more than just a little better off if lotsa folks would sit down more often with a good book & spend a whole lot less time in front of the tube (which my father used to call the “idiot box”).

Under the 'Recommended' tab on this blog are a couple lists of books that I recommend very highly – ‘Books That Could Change Your Life!’ & ‘Books That Could Change the World!’

I just want to very quickly name one super-special, off-the-charts fantastic & utterly timely book, plus one film & one CD & one magazine - any one of which would be a great thing to spend a little of your Christmas cash on. Buy ‘em for yourself, buy ‘em as gifts & share ‘em around…whatever!!

  1. Eaarth – Making a Life on a Tough New Planet – by Bill McKibben. Absolutely essential reading for women, men, children, & human beings of any & all persuasions – but only if you/they give a darn about the fate of this Earth (& our own fate) in the days to come! Read it, gift it, donate a copy to your local library, & maybe give one to a politician you trust (is that an oxymoron??? Not quite, I hope…)
  2. The Louise Hay DVD ‘You Can Heal Your Life’ is a very special one that I have plugged before. I gave copies as Christmas presents one year (& donated a copy to the local library, too). The film is a really fine, healing treasure.
  3. Last year around this time I put in a plug for the CD ‘Amchitka’ that raises funds for Greenpeace. Crazily enough, I still don’t own a copy myself – but I sure do recommend it to anyone & everyone out there! Fabulous music, fantastic group to support.
  4. Tikkun Magazine – a publication of the Network of Spiritual Progressives – is intelligent, thoughtful, insightful, & get-you-off-your-chair inspirational. (The word “tikkun,” btw, means to mend, repair & transform the world.) I wish everyone in the world would join & support the NSP & learn about the group’s ESRA – Environmental & Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, & also their Global Marshall Plan. Check them out at the NSP Web site. (& btw, donating a subscription to a really great magazine to a local library is something I’ve done now in 2 small towns. The library is always very grateful!!)


P.S. on Dec 27th: Another must-read book alert!!! Disconnect, by Devra Davis. "The truth about cell phone radiation, what the industry has done to hide it, and how to protect your family." Thanks to a gift certificate from my buddy Roof - I mean Ruth - I just bought this book yesterday. Yikes!!!!!!!!!! Please please please read it - & spread the word!! (only if U care about your own & your family's health, of course...) YouTube here. Book review here

P.P.S. It is almost painful for me not to also reference Eckhart Tolle & Pema Chödrön & Byron Katie & Joanna Macy & Elizabeth Lesser – whose books & wisdom mean such a great deal to me. & Anne Tyler & Barbara Kingsolver & Kurt Vonnegut (whose books & wisdom I also value greatly) & Alice Miller & Christiane Northrup & her buddy Mona Lisa Schulz – whose books inform & inspire me greatly. & Anne Lamott & Rachel Naomi Remen &, oh dear me….writers far too numerous to list!? (Margaret Atwood & Margaret Drabble also among them….) Do, do, do check out my recommended reading lists at the links provided above!!! (please note that these focus on non-fiction gems. My list of favoured fiction writers is a little too vast to attempt to wrestle with!?!?!?)

Summer Reading (part II)

Well! I’m reading up a storm this summer, I must say! (& simultaneously not setting the world on fire. Suffering a serious case of very low energy, unfortunately. Oh well. Thank Goddess/the Universe for our world’s profusion of libraries & great books!!)

Memoirs: Since I posted Summer Reading (part I), I finished reading Stones into Schools – Promoting Peace with Books, not Bombs, In Afghanistan and Pakistan, by Greg Mortenson – his follow-up to Three Cups of Tea – One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time (co-authored with David Oliver Relin). If ever there was a human being to personify the word inspiring, Greg Mortenson gets my vote!! His Central Asia Institute has built more than 130 schools in remote (really remote) parts of Pakistan & Afghanistan (do read Three Cups of Tea for the whole story!). Stones into Schools brings you up-to-date & includes the amazing tale of how Mortenson (& his equally inspiring cohorts – what a crew he works with! Hooey!) have even cooperated with the U.S. military along the way in their work to make literacy & education available to thousands & thousands of people & communities that would otherwise have to accept the …hmmm…. rather dubious overtures of the Taliban. This man is a hero – no question whatsoever about that. He & his colleagues in Afghanistan & Pakistan work long hours, sleep & eat very little, tackle bureaucracy & corrupt & violent police fearlessly – or perhaps I should say courageously… Mortenson is surely more than deserving of a Nobel Peace Prize. His book made me both laugh & cry & inspired me beyond mere words. Please read it!!

I just re-read Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes – A Memoir. I marvel at this man’s memory & his brilliant rendering of an incredibly poverty & disaster-stricken childhood in Ireland. His detail! His honesty! Above all else, the strength of his spirit! I spent many years supposing that if there were ever an “I come from a more dysfunctional family than you” contest, I’d win hands down. Hah! My family wouldn’t even make the cut. Bless this man for sheer guts! Like Jeannette Walls (in her memoir The Glass Castle), McCourt is living proof that for some quite special people graced with miraculously strong characters, the “childhood from Hell” can become fodder for fierce strength & motivation in adulthood. (I’ve worked in both psychiatric & correctional fields, btw, & as I’ve grown ever older &, one hopes, a little wiser, I’ve also gained more & more compassion. We mustn’t ever expect all those who survive brutal childhoods to become such marvels – but it certainly is a wondrous inspiration when some do!)

Fiction: I re-read Margaret Atwood’s The Robber Bride (yes, it isn’t new; it was published in 1993), & was again reminded (if I needed to be) of Ms. Atwood’s fierce intelligence, incisive wit, piercing insight into human foibles (in this case reminding readers of the sometimes altogether nasty possible side to female nature, Ahem) – & her humour! Atwood has always been able to make me laugh, bless her! (She is also a supporter of Elizabeth May, my favourite Canadian politician – or maybe my favourite politician, period?? Both of these women have the intelligence (& integrity) of at least 3 of most mere mortals one generally encounters). Very glad I re-read this novel; Atwood is always a delight…

Psychology/Healing: In the pile on the coffee table is a book called Healing the Shame That Binds You, by John Bradshaw. I read this one years ago & took it out of the library just recently, having realized some months ago that I’ve been carrying around some “toxic shame” all my life, as so many of us apparently have, & do. I haven’t gotten far in the book currently, because I seem to be being pulled more to the other 10 or 12 books in the pile. I mention it in case any readers find the title intriguing…

I’m making my way slowly through Awakening Intuition – Using Your Mind-Body Network for Insight & Healing. It’s another I’ve read before, but current life circumstances have drawn me back to it. Author Mona Lisa Schulz is a medical intuitive, M.D. & neuropsychiatrist (yes, she has an M.D. from the Boston University of Science & Medicine, & a Ph.D. from its department of Behavioral Neurosciences). Her understanding of human psychology & brain physiology & human nature & the nature of intuition are…breathtaking. I’ve been wondering lately about my own health (that serious energy deficit), so I’m greatly enjoying Dr. Schulz’s knowledge & insights. I’d recommend this book to any living, breathing human being on the planet. Yup…

Another book in that big pile is neuropsychologist Dr. Paul Pearsall’s Making Miracles – A scientist’s journey to death and back reveals the powerful hidden order behind life’s chaos, crises and coincidences. Seems a lot of people I know are dealing with a variety of challenging medical situations at the moment. Miracles sound pretty appealing right now. I do recall from when I first read this book (10 or so years ago, I think) that Dr. Pearsall has some pretty interesting things to say…

As an environmental activist super-concerned about climate change, I recently picked up a copy of Eaarth – Making a Life on a Tough New Planet, by environmental super-hero Bill McKibben. McKibben outlines the full depth & breadth of the climate change crisis. Since I haven’t yet read the whole book, it’s too soon for me to give it the full treatment here (I’ll likely soon devote a full blog post to it), but please go right on out & buy yourself a copy!! (or borrow it from your local library, &/or donate a copy to your favourite library). This one is for sure on the list of 2010 must-reads. For everyone & her/his cousin.


P.S. I’m also still making my way ever-so-slowly through Philip Simmons’s lovely Learning to Fall – The Blessings of an Imperfect Life, savouring it a chapter at a time. Simmons was living with/dying of ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, when he wrote this lovely, honest book about how we are surely all learning to fall in this life, & how we might all learn to do so with insight, joy & grace. I’ll be reading & re-reading this book for a long while to come, no doubt! I recommend it highly

Climate change: Does anybody care if Bangladesh drowns?

I’m familiar with the concept of ‘climate justice,’ & actually got myself arrested last year because of my own concerns & passion about climate change & climate justice – but I think a lot of people still don’t really “get” it.

Last weekend I attended a conference on climate change in Toronto, where I heard (among many others) 2 excellent speakers who really understand – deep in their hearts & their guts – about climate change & climate justice.(1)

First, I heard Afsan Chowdury, a journalist who produced & directed the short film Climate Change: Does anybody care if Bangladesh drowns?

His talk was very…disturbing.

He pointed out that, in the west, climate change is a lifestyle issue, while in the east, it’s a life & death issue.

Chowdury is from Bangladesh, a country with 140 million people & the place on Planet Earth where climate change is (& has been) causing massive disruption for some years already now. Flooding, salination of rivers – & massive dislocation of the people who live there.

I later bought a copy of his film & watched it, & am very glad I did. It’s not an uplifting story, exactly – but it is about an issue we all need to understand.

The crux of the climate change/climate justice issue is that it is the habits of those of us in the well-off parts of the world (Canada & the U.S. among these, of course) that are causing disastrous impacts in the not-so-well-off countries. (Bill McKibben’s book Eaarth – Making a Life on a Tough New Planet is a must-read, folks!! He explains causes, current conditions, & why we must all learn to adapt to a new world.)

We can ignore this – our role in the fate of millions of our fellow human beings around the world – & go merrily about our lives, never questioning or changing our attitudes & behaviour – &, clearly, many of us do!

I don’t find this works for me. It seems I have an overly-developed conscience(2) – & it won’t allow me to live with it unless I pay attention to these serious, stubborn & sometimes nasty issues.

As it happens, my son-in-law is from Bangladesh. He’s lived in Canada for almost 20 years now, & he’s become very “Canadian” (whatever that means!?)

I’ve been active on environmental issues for 21 years, & particularly passionate about climate change for longer than my son-in-law has been in my life.

But it never hurts to make things “personal,” does it?

Why not watch Climate Change: Does anybody care if Bangladesh drowns?” & then decide for yourself whether you want to live with your conscience, pretending that the way you live doesn’t affect others, & that climate justice is a concept that has no meaning in your life.

(Personally, though, I’m at the point of thinking it’s time we started calling a spade a spade. Maybe we need to say a little more often “Hey! That’s immoral!!”)


p.s. You might like to take a look at the site “Direct Action in Canada for Climate Justice.

p.p.s. & please consider reading the post: ‘Speaking of Speaking up (& not..)

(1) The other one is Bill McKibben – more on him & his latest book elsewhere

(2) As I’ve said elsewhere, conscience is about making the distinction between what’s right & what’s wrong. It isn’t about saying “Oh well, everyone else is doing it, so I guess I will too.” Doing the right thing isn’t always easy, cheap or fun – but it is right – & that brings considerable comfort!


What is a Person to DO??

Just returned from a conference on climate change in Toronto. Excellent workshops & speakers & later also some time spent chatting & strategizing with fellow activists (some of whom I’d known before the conference, plus a couple new acquaintances).

Bought a copy of Eaarth – Making Life on a Tough New Planet, by Bill McKibben – long-time environmental activist/writer & founder of & now major push behind 10/10/10 - "Global Work Party."

If there is one book you really ought to read right about now, it’s this one. It’s chockfull of wildly sobering facts about climate change & what needs to be done about it. McKibben has me thoroughly on-side with his view that from here on in, we must learn to deal with a changed Earth. It simply isn’t the place it used to be – between one thing & another, with climate change in a starring role – & so there isn’t much point in making plans the way we used to, for a place that has changed – & is changing utterly, as we speak.

Also watched a short film called “Climate Change: Does anybody care if Bangladesh drowns?” – & I’ll write more about that another day (you can watch the film free at that link I just gave you, btw...).

The main thing I want to say right now is this:

The question “What is a person to do??” is one that rings inside my own head often. Well, daily. Or even moment-ly, you might say.

Those of us who are activists feel as though we really need to clone ourselves. There is just so very, very much that needs doing. (And still so many folks caught in that deer-in-the-headlights stunned immobility stance.)

As previously referenced, I’m an addictive reader. Another book I gobbled up on the weekend (for relief, I suppose, from the so-sobering facts about climate change), was Grace (Eventually) – Thoughts on Faith, by American writer Anne Lamott, another of my very favourite writers. I’d read this one before, but it was a perfect time to re-read it, & I did, with great enjoyment, amusement, & appreciation.

In the essay ‘Bastille Day,’ Lamott tells about her cool idea (in 2006) for a Bastille Day event.(1) She’d floated the idea on Salon (an entity about which I am ignorant; one can only keep up with so many things, hmm?) & had talked about it some during a book tour. As she put it in the essay, “In the Spring of 2006, I believed that good people who had watched their country’s leaders skid so far to the triumphal right would want to do something. I mean, wouldn’t they? Otherwise, those people’s children would ask them someday, when we would all be living in caves, “What did you do to try to save us?” And the children would be angry, and …”

But when July 14th arrived, as it turned out, Lamott herself really didn’t feel up to the revolution. She’d kind of run out of steam, & besides, hadn’t actually coordinated with any local friends, & so decided to take a pass but after watching CNN for a while, she became “agitated.”

And as she tells it, “And then I did the single most important thing one can do to save the world: I got up off my butt.”

And went downtown & stood on the sidewalk for a few hours with a placard that read “One People. One Planet. One Future.”

God I love reading this woman!! Her writing is brilliant. She is laugh-out-loud funny, wondrously compassionate and searingly honest – about herself, which turns out to mean she exposes the nasty underbelly we all have. And then you don’t feel so bad about your own all-too-numerous faults & failings.

But back, finally, to the question raised by this post.

What is a person to DO?

Why, get up off your butt, of course!


P.S. You could definitely become involved in the 10/10/10 initiative. The idea behind this is to DO some practical things on October 10, 2010, that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions & demonstrate to our “leaders” that we the people (all over the world) are taking action, so we can then ask them “What are YOU doing??” & put their feet to the fire so they start to do what needs to be done!

P.P.S. The 10/10/10 site will give you plenty of ideas. Here are a few that flew right off my pen onto the page as I was drafting this post:

  • Plant a tree (or a whole bunch of them. Maybe 350??)
  • Put up a wind turbine or solar panels
  • Plan & construct a bike path
  • Sell your gas guzzler
  • Buy a transit pass
  • Buy a bike
  • Cut your electricity consumption – at home, at work, at church…wherever!
  • Write to a politician or better yet, politicians at every level of government
  • Become politically active!!!!! Ensure that candidates of integrity are elected
  • Distribute brochures about something to family members if, like me, you’re Canadian & will be seeing family for Thanksgiving dinner on October 10th – I’ll be distributing ones about, from the Ontario Clean Air Alliance (I’ll do other stuff too – but this one is so simple I can’t say no to it!!)
  • Donate money toward groups working to shut down the Alberta tar sands [this post lists & links to numerous short films about the tar sands]
  • Organize a public event…boycott…whatever…

(As you can see, the possibilities here are truly infinite!!)

‘Quote of the day’ w. this post: “If the people lead, eventually, the leaders will follow.” – Source unknown

(1) Inspired by a novel her father had written, The Bastille Day Parade, in which he’d had protesters use the slogan, “Turn off the Lie Machine.” Wow. Gotta love that line!!

Tell World Leaders to Go Solar!

<from Bill McKibben of & 10/10/10 on July 9th> Dear Friends:

As you all know, we're getting to work on 10/10/10 -- all around the world people are preparing climate solutions projects for their communities, their mosques and churches and synagogues and temples, their schools and homes.

We thought our leaders should have a chance to get personally involved too, which is why we're today launching a special campaign <>  aimed just at them. Each one has a roof over their heads -- in India at the Rashtrapati Bhavan; in Mexico they call it Los Pinos, and in Washington it's the White House.

Those roofs need solar panels -- and we hope they'll go up on October 10, just as around the world people are taking practical action in their own communities. It's remarkably easy to send a message to your leader--just click here for instructions: <>

http://www.PutSolarOn.It <>

Those solar panels won't be enough solve climate change, obviously.  But they'll send a strong symbolic message about what the future demand -- and maybe our leaders will see how easy it is to start down a greener path. If they hammer in a solar panel, perhaps they'll feel more committed to hammering out some clean energy legislation.

We're a little worried, of course, that our leaders will use their new solar panels to claim that they're sincere about climate change without passing the legislation and enacting the regulations that really matter -- none of us wants to be used for a photo opportunity. Instead, the message we'll all be sending is: you've taken symbolic action, so now get to work on the real thing.

But the symbolism is important too. Just imagine: 30 years ago the American White House actually did have solar panels on the roof, installed by president Jimmy Carter. But they were taken down by the next administration, and they've never reappeared. That represents three wasted decades when we could have been doing something about the climate crisis -- we'll never get those decades back, but we can start to catch up now.

So while you're rounding up your neighbors for your own 10/10/10 action, invite the person in charge of your nation to join you on that day. Remind them that one answer to our greatest crisis is directly above their heads. Tell them to roll up their sleeves and get to work!

Bill McKibben for the whole team

P.S. Good news already! Just as we're launching this campaign, President Mohammed Nasheed of the Maldives confirmed he'll be up on his roof on 10/10/10, installing a solar array. Who's next?


You should join us on Facebook by becoming a fan of our page at  <> and follow us on twitter by visiting <>

To join our list (maybe a friend forwarded you this e-mail) visit <> needs your help! To support our work, donate securely online at <> is an international grassroots campaign that aims to mobilize a global climate movement united by a common call to action. By spreading an understanding of the science and a shared vision for a fair policy, we will ensure that the world creates bold and equitable solutions to the climate crisis. is an independent and not-for-profit project.

What is 350? 350 is the number that leading scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Scientists measure carbon dioxide in "parts per million" (ppm), so 350ppm is the number humanity needs to get below as soon as possible to avoid runaway climate change. To get there, we need a different kind of PPM-a "people powered movement" that is made of people like you in every corner of the planet.

10/10/10 (R U ready to get to work?)

Bill McKibben was one of the many amazing & super-inspiring speakers at the recent conference of the Network of Spiritual Progressives in Washington, D.C.

McKibben is a household name to environmental activists. He’s an author, activist & the founder of I’ve been a Bill McKibben fan for years.

He’s a great speaker! He comes across as very down-to-earth, modest & plain-speaking. But also intelligent as heck. Very funny, too, which never hurts!!

He told us all about how got going, how it spread globally like a lovely virus, & what a successful phenomenon the October 24, 2009 events proved to be. 5200 events in 181 countries. Not too shabby at all!

The 10/10/10 event this year is to be a “global work party” – on October 10th. On this day (a Sunday), people all over the world will work on projects aimed at tackling climate change.

All over the world, people will do stuff like install solar panels, build bike paths, work on community gardens, etc. etc. etc.

We will say to our politicians “We’re getting busy. Where are you?”

Please plan to take part! But don’t wait until October. There’s no time like the present!!


'Quote of the day' w. this post: Thomas Berry on the environmental crisis: “It is something like being in a lifeboat. There may be problems of distribution of food, there may be people that need medical care, but if something happens to the boat, the boat has to be taken care of immediately or else everything else becomes irrelevant.”

NSP: Hooey!!

What do Bill McKibben, Sister Joan Chittister, David Korten, Lester Brown, Marianne Williamson, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Dr. Margaret Flowers & U.S. Congressmen Dennis Kucinich & Keith Ellison all have in common?

All are members/supporters of the Network of Spiritual Progressives & were recently in Washington, D.C. to give talks at the NSP conference held there from June 11 - 13th.

I was there too, & all the above speakers (along with many others; hooey was this a gathering of amazing people!!) blew me right out of the water.

In fact, until I heard about this conference a couple of months ago from my buddy Sandra, I’d never even heard of the NSP. But when I saw that conference line-up, I knew I had to be there!

NSP is a diverse group of thoughtful, caring, committed activists (in the NSP world, as in my own, of course, activist is NOT a dirty word) from a variety of religious backgrounds.

Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist – & also those of no religious faith – are members of the NSP. (You don’t have to be “religious” to be a spiritual progressive. As it states in the NSP brochure I picked up in Washington, NSP is also “a home for secular people who realize that there are spiritual, ethical and psychological needs that are ignored by the secular left, but that are very important to most Americans.”)

Of course, you also don’t have to be American to care about the things the NSP folks care about!

The NSP has drafted the ESRA: Environmental & Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – & a Global Marshall Plan, & both are well worth a look!!

I personally had an utterly awesome time at the NSP conference. I was repeatedly moved to tears (which is saying something for old tough guy me!) & crazily inspired by the speakers. Never in my life have I seen a speaker line-up like that!!

And btw, all these speakers paid their own expenses to attend the conference & were not paid speaking fees; this is how highly this amazing group of individuals thinks of NSP!

I also met a great array of fellow caring people from all over the U.S. (& a few others from Canada).

We even hung out for a rally at Lafayette Park, in front of the White House, & listened to yet more inspiring speakers.

Our purpose there? To ask U.S. President Barack Obama to “be the Obama we voted for.”

Well. I have lots more to say. This conference inspired a bunch of possible blog postings. But enough for now.

Check out the Network of Spiritual Progressives I promise you; you won’t regret it!!


P.S. For some of us in Canada, NSP is also an acronym for New Society Publishers – an awesome B.C. (i.e., Canadian) publishing company that publishes the very sorts of books that would greatly interest members of the Network of Spiritual Progressives!

P.P.S. The people who attended the NSP conference get that the U.S./our culture/our civilization needs to break its addiction to oil. Both Bill McKibben & Lester Brown spoke to the issue of climate change. Actually, climate change came up over & over again. Clearly, plenty of Americans do get it!!! I’ll be blogging about Bill McKibben & Lester Brown’s talks shortly…

P.P.P.S. I totally forgot to mention here that I had a BLAST while I was in Washington. It wasn't just the speakers who were awesome. I made friends with a bunch of very lovely people, & we not only all got along like a house on fire, we laughed & laughed & laughed! One night at supper I think the group I was with must have shocked the heck out of our fellow diners. Our table of 4 women laughed until the tears ran down our cheeks. Caring about the world (& actually doing stuff about it) is not just challenging & rewarding, it is FUN!!! Only because of the people. People are the best!!

P.S. # 4: Other awesome speakers at the NSP conference: Rev. Graylan Hagler, Paul Wapner, John Dear, Sharon Welch, Gary Dorrien, Rev. James Forbes, Peter Gabel, Rev. Ama Zenya, Jonathan Granoff, Jeremy Ben-Ami, Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Rev. Brian McLaren. There were others who were there as workshop leaders, as well. It was truly the most amazing conglomeration of big thinkers & inspiring leaders I’ve ever had the privilege to take in!!!

Copenhagen: Bill McKibben, Dec. 15/09.

From World News Daily, Information Clearing House (w. thanks to old buddy Larraine for sending me this link. McKibben has been one of my heroes for some years now......) "Copenhagen: Only the Numbers Count – and They Add up to Hell on Earth"

You can find it here

Here is the text:

Climate Interactive's software speaks numbers, not spin – which is where the true understanding of the Copenhagen summit lies By Bill McKibben

December 15, 2009 "The Guardian" - - The Bella centre is a swirl of chatter, the streets of Copenhagen are a swirl of protest. Depending on what hour you listen to the news bulletin, the UN climate negotiations have "come off the rails" or are "back on track" or have "stalled" or are "moving swiftly". Which is why the only people who really understand what's going on may be a small crew of folks from a group of computer jockeys called Climate Interactive. Their software speaks numbers, not spin – and in the end it's the numbers that count.First number to know: 350. It's what scientists have been saying for two years is the maximum amount of carbon dioxide we can safely have in the atmosphere, measured in parts per million. Those scientists have been joined by an unprecedented outpouring from civil society: in late October, activists put on what CNN called "the most widespread day of political action in the planet's history," with 5,200 demonstrations in 181 countries, all rallying around that number. Three thousand vigils last weekend across the planet spelled out the number in candles. Thousands of churches rang their bells 350 times on Sunday, and yesterday the World Parliament of Religions, meeting in Melbourne and representing the "largest interreligious gathering on earth" sent an emergency 350 declaration here to Copenhagen.

The second number: 100. That's (roughly) how many countries are backing a 350 target here at Copenhagen. That's more than half the nations in attendance – unfortunately, they're the small, poor ones. But it's amazing to see them, in the face of enormous pressure, keeping the idea of real action alive. Yesterday Mohamed Nasheed, president of the Maldives, spoke to a roaring crowd of thousands: "We know what the laws of physics say: the most important number in the world is 350."

The third number: 4%. That's how much the US is offering to cut its emissions from their 1990 levels by 2020. Scientists tell us that the developed world would need to reduce by at least 40% to get us back on a 350 track, so the American offer is exactly an order or magnitude off. And they're not alone. All the rich countries, not to mention China, are looking to do as little as possible and still escape here with some kind of agreement they can hide behind.

The fourth number – and the most important one. When the folks at Climate Interactive plug in every promise made at these talks (the American offer on the table, the Chinese promise to reduce "energy intensity", the EU pledges, and so on) their software tells them almost instantly how much carbon they would eventually produce. When they hit the button last night, the program showed that by 2100 the world's CO2 concentrations (currently 390) would be – drumroll please – 770. That is, we would live in hell, or at least a place with a similar temperature.

So that's the scorecard. You may hear a lot of happy talk from world leaders over the next few days as they "reach a historic agreement". But that's how it all adds up.

Bill McKibben is the coordinator of

October 24th: We're ALL Invited!

[This is a column written for my local, small town newspaper in eastern Ontario, Canada.]

Well-known figures Dr. James Hansen, Vandana Shiva, David Suzuki, Bill McKibben, George Monbiot, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Bianca Jagger all have something in common besides the fact that their names are recognized around the world.

All are keen supporters of a new initiative called, whose “mission is to inspire the world to rise to the challenge of the climate crisis -- to create a new sense of urgency and of possibility for our planet.”

This group is planning to encourage lots of “noise” all over the globe on October 24th – and they want all of us to take part.

This December, the United Nations will be in Copenhagen for two weeks of meetings aimed at creating a new global treaty for fighting climate change. The targets they come up with may not be ambitious enough, given the new awareness that climate change is advancing more quickly than previously thought.

From the 350 group’s Web site: “The Arctic is sending us perhaps the clearest message that climate change is occurring much more rapidly than scientists previously thought. In the summer of 2007, sea ice was roughly 39% below the summer average for 1979-2000, a loss of area equal to nearly five United Kingdoms. Many scientists now believe the Arctic will be completely ice free in the summertime between 2011 and 2015, some 80 years ahead of what scientists had predicted just a few years ago. Propelled by the news of these accelerating impacts, some of the world’s leading climate scientists have now revised the highest safe level of CO2 to 350 parts per million. That’s the…safety zone for planet earth. As James Hansen of America’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the first scientist to warn about global warming more than two decades ago, wrote recently, ‘If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm.’”

The 350 group has come together globally to raise awareness among citizens, but most particularly to gain the attention of politicians. Citizen awareness is often considerably ahead of that of the politicians who create the policies we “regular folks” then must live with.

The 350 plan: “In order to unite the public, media, and our political leaders behind the 350 goal, we’re harnessing the power of the internet to coordinate a planetary day of action on October 24, 2009.  We hope to have actions at hundreds of iconic places around the world - from the Taj Mahal to the Great Barrier Reef to your community - and a clear message to world leaders: the solutions to climate change must be equitable, they must be grounded in science, and they must meet the scale of the crisis.  If an international grassroots movement holds our leaders accountable to the latest climate science, we can start the global transformation we so desperately need.”

According to Canadian organizer Aiden of the group planning “100,000 on the Hill,” (yes, Parliament Hill in Ottawa), there are already more than 1000 events planned in 50 countries.

So, we have lots of options! We can plan an event (or events) in our own communities – or we can fill up a busload (or two!) and be part of the 100,000 people crowd at Parliament Hill in Ottawa [Ontario, Canada], letting our politicians know that Canadians do want to take action on climate change. (Contact for more information on that initiative.)

There is a wealth of information on the Web site, from an invitation and short YouTubes you can circulate to friends, family, neighbours and colleagues – to scientific materials and inspirational ideas for fun activities to plan for October 24th.

I saw the phrase “Talk – Action = Zero” used in an ad recently, and that really spoke to me. It’s true, isn’t it?

As the site says: “Will this thing work? Will world leaders listen? Only if we’re loud enough.”

We need to be sure our voices are heard!


Accompanying Quotation: “Almost anything you do will seem insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.” – Mahatma Gandhi