Monthly Archives: November 2014

Action Update #13 – Holiday Edition!

Dear Friend/Neighbor/Colleague/etc.,

The purpose of this email is to help busy people in the Greater Rochester Area find opportunities to join the fight against global warming.  These emails are usually distributed twice per month and include 3-4 actions you can take to help stop climate change, but this holiday edition is a bit different and will be the last update of the year.  Read on to learn how you can quickly and easily do your part to protect the planet.

Quick Climate Fact

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), holiday travel, celebration, decoration, and gift-giving cause a dramatic rise in energy usage at this time of year.  “The volume of household waste in the United States generally increases 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day – about 1 million extra tons.”

Thanksgiving

As the name suggests, Thanksgiving invites us to reflect on and express gratitude for life’s blessings.  Though we all need and enjoy material possessions to some extent, chances are that we value our relationships with friends, family, and other loved ones even more.  We may also be grateful for our natural environment, opportunities to learn and grow as individuals, personal safety and security, or any number of other things.  Talking about these sources of gratitude at your Thanksgiving celebration is a great way to initiate conversation about how your holiday traditions do or do not reflect your values.  This can lead to a fruitful (and hopefully peaceful) discussion of how common holiday activities can contribute to global warming.

Take this opportunity to ask your loved ones to give you “green” gifts (or no gifts at all) and tell them why this is important to you.  You’ll probably need to give them specific examples of what constitutes a “green” gift (see below for more details).  If your Thanksgiving traditions include Black Friday shopping, experiment with alternative activities that are more in line with your values and encourage others to do the same.

Gift-Giving Holidays (Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/etc.)

Sustainable gift-giving does not require sacrifice and deprivation.  On the contrary, it’s likely to result in gifts that are exceptionally meaningful and memorable, precisely because the gift-giver will need to use his or her imagination and step outside the “big box” consumer mindset dominates our culture.  Few gifts are entirely emissions free, but some are clearly worse for the environment than others.  For example, giving experiences and services is typically better for the environment than giving things, with the clear exception of energy-intensive experiences like skydiving.  Experience-based gifts such as tickets to local concerts, visits to local museums, classes at local dance studios, and meals at local (vegetarian!) restaurants are (1) relatively eco-friendly, (2) supportive of your community’s economy, and (3) opportunities for meaningful interaction with the people you care about.  Similarly, services such as massage, housekeeping, and childcare make for thoughtful, sustainable gifts, while also potentially saving you money (if you provide the service yourself).  For more experience and service-based gift ideas (some of which are not at all eco-friendly!), see https://www.datevitation.com.  Other non-material gift options include digital media (e.g., online magazine subscriptions, ebooks, iTunes gift cards) and charitable donations in someone’s honor (e.g., adopt a rainforest or coral reef, or give to a climate-focused organization such as 350.org or Citizens’ Climate Lobby).

If you feel strongly about wanting to give tangible objects as gifts, consider buying them secondhand and/or buying locally produced items.  Rochester has several stores that sell gently used clothing and other items (e.g., Once Upon a ChildPlato’s Closet, and Savers), and on Dec. 5-6, Metro Justice is hosting its 33rd annual Alternative Fair, “featuring thousands of unique fair trade, earth friendly, and locally produced goods that support a strong local economy and a just and sustainable world.”  See their website for more information.  It’s worth buying well-made items that can be used for a long time without falling apart.  Also be cautious of products that are advertised as “green” but are still just useless junk that nobody needs.  Lastly, consider giving gifts that directly educate and raise awareness about global warming, such as climate-themed books and t-shirts.  Just be careful not to accidentally purchase a gift that promotes climate change denialism!  Sadly, there are a lot of those out there.

New Year’s Day

With the start of the new year, commit to some small, regular action or lifestyle change that contributes to the fight against global warming.  For example, you could cut down on how much meat you eat, join a local climate-focused organization and faithfully attend their meetings, or pledge to follow through with at least two of the actions suggested in every Rochester Climate Action update.  The possibilities are endless!  Just pick something that works for you and stick with it.  Future generations will thank you for it!

Spread the Word

  1. Forward this email to friends, neighbors, colleagues, etc.  Don’t be shy!  You never know who might be interested in saving the world.  If someone would prefer not to receive these emails from you in the future, they will let you know.  When forwarding this message to multiple people, enter their addresses using the blind carbon copy function (bcc) to protect everyone’s privacy.
  2. Visit RochesterClimateAction.org, click on “Action Updates,” and use the share buttons to post this newsletter on Facebook and other social media sites.
  3. Become a Rochester Climate Action “frontline contact.”  Frontline contacts receive bimonthly emails directly from us, rather than having to wait for someone else to forward them on.  Frontline contacts who distribute the email to their personal contacts are acting as true leaders in the fight against climate change.  If you’d like to be a frontline contact, simply send an email saying so to rochesterclimateaction@gmail.com.
  4. Talk to people about global warming!  Tell them why you are concerned and politely suggest that they should be too.  Again, don’t be shy.  These are important conversations that we should all be having.

Words of Wisdom from a Local Activist

“What keeps me going?  Just the inconvenient fact that the future of the planet is at stake.  Can I live with myself if I sit this one out?” Charlotte Baltus (engaged citizen) 

This message was written by Abigail McHugh-Grifa on behalf of RochesterClimateAction.org.  Rochester Climate Action is run by a group of local mothers who are concerned about how climate change will affect their children’s futures.  These mothers are unpaid volunteers and are not affiliated with any “green” businesses.  For more information, including other action opportunities, visit RochesterClimateAction.org.  We welcome your feedback on our work.  Please send comments, questions, suggestions, etc. to rochesterclimateaction@gmail.com.

If you no longer wish to receive these emails, just notify the person who sent it to you.

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Action Update #12

Dear Friend/Neighbor/Colleague/etc.,

The purpose of this email is to help busy people in the Greater Rochester Area find opportunities to join the fight against global warming.  These emails are distributed twice per month and include 3-4 actions you can take to help stop climate change.  Read on to learn how you can quickly and easily do your part to protect the planet.

Quick Climate Fact

April 2014 was the first month that the average level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere exceeded 400 parts per million (ppm).  This is the highest concentration of CO2 the atmosphere has held in at least 800,000 years.  Though climate experts agree that we need to keep atmospheric CO2 below 350 ppm in order to avoid catastrophic warming, CO2 levels continue to rise.

Six-Minute Action

Members of your local Citizens’ Climate Lobby chapter have been working hard to educate Members of Congress about the economic benefits of a Carbon Fee and Dividend Plan** (a.k.a., Revenue Neutral Carbon Tax).  Please support them by asking your Senators and Representative to send an aide to the upcoming Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI) study briefing.

Steps to take:

1.  If you’re not sure who your Senators (2) and Representative (1) are, look them up at http://www.opencongress.org/people/zipcodelookup, or…

  • If you live in NY, your Senators are Chuck Schumer (202-224-6542) and Kirsten Gillibrand (202-224-4451).
  • If you live in NY Congressional District 25 (most of the Greater Rochester Area), your representative is Louise Slaughter (202-225-3615)
  • Surrounding districts include NY-27 (Chris Collins, 202-225-5265) and NY- 23 (Tom Reed, 202-225-3161)

2.  Call each office (3 total) and say something like…

“Hi, this is (your name) calling from (your city).  I’d like to leave a message for Sen./Rep. (name), asking him/her to attend a briefing on Nov. [19th or 20th, see below*] about a new study from Regional Economic Models, Inc. about the benefits of a carbon fee that gives revenue back to households.  I’m very concerned about the impacts of global warming and would like to see someone from your office attend this briefing to learn more about the study.  Thank you.”

*The Senate briefing is on Wed, Nov 19th at 10am in room 428A of the Russell Building.  The House of Representatives briefing is on Thurs, Nov 20th at 1:30 in room 340 of the Cannon Building.

** For more information on Carbon Fee and Dividend, see http://youtu.be/pNtgVfNQdQE

Greening Your Home  

Despite rising global temperatures, we’re likely to have some seriously cold days in Rochester during the next few months.  By taking steps to avoid overheating your home, you can reduce your carbon footprint, save money, and maybe even lose some weight!  (See http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/07/17/lets-cool-it-in-the-bedroom/?_r=0 for more details).  If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to program and/or turn down your thermostat.

Programming your thermostat to automatically reduce the temperature in your home during the hours when you are typically at work or asleep “can save you about $180 every year in energy costs,” according to EnergyStar.gov.  Not sure how to program your thermostat?  Consult the instruction manual, which is probably available online if you can’t find it around the house, or ask some tech-savvy person for help.  (You can easily override these settings if you need to.)  If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, it’s almost certainly worth the investment.  If that’s not practical, find some way to remind yourself to lower the heat when you don’t need it.  Keeping the temperature a degree or two lower, does not mean you have to suffer!  Think of this as an opportunity to snuggle up under a warm blanket with your loved ones, while sipping a mug of steaming hot cocoa.  Yum!

Action for Those Who Have a Few Dollars to Spare

The campaign against dangerous gas storage in abandoned salt caverns near Seneca Lake continues.  Protestors have been arrested for blocking the gate into the storage facility as a form of non-violent civil disobedience.  These are not young punks just looking to cause trouble.  These are concerned local residents, ranging in age from 30-90, who want to protect their communities.  Their attempts to address this problem using legal forms of action have been repeatedly ignored by those who have the power to stop the project, leaving them few other options.  You can read their stories here.

Because there are likely to be many more arrests in the weeks and months to come, they need help paying the costs associated with being arrested.  If you can afford it, please contribute a few dollars to the Seneca Lake Defenders Jail Fund.  You’ll find the donate button on the right hand side of every page on their wearesenecalake.com website.

Spread the Word

  1. Forward this email to friends, neighbors, colleagues, etc.  Don’t be shy!  You never know who might be interested in saving the world.  If someone would prefer not to receive these emails from you in the future, they will let you know.  When forwarding this message to multiple people, enter their addresses using the blind carbon copy function (bcc) to protect everyone’s privacy.
  2. Visit RochesterClimateAction.org, click on “Action Updates,” and use the share buttons to post this newsletter on Facebook and other social media sites.
  3. Become a Rochester Climate Action “frontline contact.”  Frontline contacts receive bimonthly emails directly from us, rather than having to wait for someone else to forward them on.  Frontline contacts who distribute the email to their personal contacts are acting as true leaders in the fight against climate change.  If you’d like to be a frontline contact, simply send an email saying so to rochesterclimateaction@gmail.com.
  4. Talk to people about global warming!  Tell them why you are concerned and politely suggest that they should be too.  Again, don’t be shy.  These are important conversations that we should all be having.

Words of Wisdom from a Local Activist

“I started advocating for environmental causes in 1970.  Most of the causes my friends and I fought for resulted in failure or met with only modest success.  This used to be pretty discouraging, but after a while I learned from Joanna Macy that we should not approach the idea of preserving the forest from an ego-based starting point, but from the idea that we are part of the environment and fighting to save ourselves.” Hugh Mitchell (poet, environmentalist, social worker, grandfather of four) 

This message was written by Abigail McHugh-Grifa on behalf of RochesterClimateAction.org.  Rochester Climate Action is run by a group of local mothers who are concerned about how climate change will affect their children’s futures.  These mothers are unpaid volunteers and are not affiliated with any “green” businesses.  For more information, including other action opportunities, visit RochesterClimateAction.org.  We welcome your feedback on our work.  Please send comments, questions, suggestions, etc. to rochesterclimateaction@gmail.com.

If you no longer wish to receive these emails, just notify the person who sent it to you.

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