Monthly Archives: September 2015

Abundant Safari in Iowa City

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 10.19.25 AMCheck out Backyard Abundance’s restoration projects through their Abundant Safari program in Iowa City, including the Terry Trueblood recreational site:

Terry Trueblood Recreation Area

The Terry Trueblood Recreation Area is located along the Iowa River at the south edge of Iowa City. It was once a sand and gravel quarry and spans over 200 acres. The beautiful lake comprises almost half the area and is home to fish, ducks, and other wildlife.

A paved trail around the entire lake runs through forested and open areas providing opportunities for biking, running, walking, and sightseeing. Many interesting destinations can be found along the diverse lakeshore for canoes and boaters. Sandy dunes and beaches on the lake’s south peninsula will supply hours of adventure.

The long trails and diverse terrain creates a great habitat for children and adults to wade, get muddy, see waterfowl, catch frogs, and enjoy themselves. Boaters, picnicers, bird watchers, insect enthusiasts, and photographers will enjoy a part or full-day trip to the area.

California Climate Refugees?

Source: Stephen Lam/Getty Images

Will Californians displaced by wildfires seek a sort of makeshift “refugee status” in other states, such as Vermont? T. Elijah Hawkes ponders on this after taking a trip to California and seeing citizens whose homes have been burned down by wildfires camping on a racetrack while the fire chief told them the cause of the fire was still under investigation.

Hawkes argues that “climate refugee” is a new term the U.S. will have to adapt to using, especially with droughts and fires most evident in California. Hawkes uses Vermont, his home state, as an example because they still experience the four seasons just by living by mountains. Hawkes concludes that though he is conservative, he will vote for Bernie Sanders simply for his stance on climate change.

Hawkes’ use of the word “refugee” in regards to Californian is controversial according to one of two comments at the bottom of his article. The commentor claims it is unfair to use this term when people on the other side of the world must deal with desertification, a lack of water, and dangerous journies to Europe, though these Californians are also displaced from their homes and will need to seek new ones due to changing climate conditions.

What do you think? How does the U.S. label their own citizens who are displaced? Why are we not telling them what the cause of the fire is? More here on Huffinton Post:


There are 1.73 million known and described species, with and estimated 5-10 million total species on planet earth.
Nikolai Vavilov was a soviet-russian botanist who is credited for discovery the centers of origin on cultivated plants, and as a geneticist worked to end world hunger through the study of corn and other cereal crops. Traveling to 63 countries, learning 16 different languages, and collecting more than 230,000 specimens to create in the worlds first modern seed bank with intent to catalog and preserve genetic diversity of species, Vavilov was president of the All-Union Geophysical Society and the director of the Academy of Agricultural Sciences. The Communist Party endorsed non- mendelian genetics and favored Lysenko’s form of genetic evolution. Vavilov was imprisoned in 1940 and was sentenced to death in 1941 for criticizing Lysenko and his endorsement of subpar science. Vavilov sentence of was commuted to 20 years imprisonment. He died while in prison due to starvation in 1942. During the Siege of Leningrad, scientists at Vavilov’s seed bank held out during the siege and some dying of starvation to save the genetic diversity in this seed bank- all the time thinking that one of these seeds may yet save the world from hunger.

“We are seeds!”- shout protesters outside Lima Climate Conference 2014.

Gary Nabhan recreates Vavilov’s life journey and stresses the importance of preserving these seeds and this genetic diversity that is found within these centers of origin in Where Our Food Comes From. In Some Like it Hot, he brings to light the concept of cultural diets that specific groups have adapted to thrive best on over time. In losing this diversity within our agriculture systems, we lose our identity and food security.
Where are Food Comes From:

Podcast on Vavilov:

Gary Paul Nabhan: Food Web Restoration in the Face of Climate Change

Gary Paul Nabhan is an internationally-celebrated nature writer, food and farming activist, and proponent of conserving the links between biodiversity and cultural diversity. He has been been honored as a pioneer and creative force in the “local food movement” and seed saving community by Utne Reader, Mother Earth News, New York Times, Bioneers and Time magazine.

He spoke at Bioneers in Boulder, Colorado on November 9, 2013

Leap Manifesto Challenges the Narrative Around “Radical” Ideas

article-8171-heroPoliticians, and many others, have a history of writing off innovative ideas and agendas as “radical” and “threats to the system.” The recent Leap Manifesto in Canada is challenging this attitude.

“…all the manifesto’s proposed policies – respecting Indigenous rights, debating a guaranteed annual income, taking back public control of energy systems, funding clean transit and public investment in low-carbon sectors like education, health and childcare, promoting sustainable farming or raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy, and scrapping trade deals that prevent governments from banning extreme energy extraction – are more or less within the bounds of classic social democracy. And scientific studies – cited in the manifesto – have shown that a complete and economically-beneficial transition toward renewable energy is feasible within the next two to three decades.”

“So what in fact is the madness? A science-based political agenda, or our current course toward 6 degrees of catastrophic warming? Collapsing a corporation’s right to override environmental laws, or a collapsing global food supply? Rising wages, or rising seas?”

The Leap Manifesto, and the large movement behind it, hope to create changes no matter who comes to power in the coming elections.


Full article from the Guardian here:

More about the Manifesto here:


Climate Change Refugee to be Deported from New Zealand

Source: The Reverend with the petition to help these climate change refugees.

A Kiribati climate change refugee will be deported from New Zealand, along with his family after a four-year legal battle to stay in the country.

Ioane Teitiota believes climate change affects living conditions for his people and also the general welfare of the tiny Pacific island he calls home. His children are all New Zealand-born and will also be deported with Teitiota and his wife Angua Erika. A petition by a Kiribati reverand from Auckland, Reverand Iosefa Suamalie, is to be presented to the parliament. “There is fear in them to go back to Kiribati,” he says of the Teitiota family.

This further demonstrates the lack of care countries have toward refugees of climate change, who in their homelands may face terrible conditions such as dying farming lands, a desecration of the natural environment, and a lack of safety for residents. Being on a tiny island located in a big ocean does not exclude people from the effects of climate change. New Zealand ought to take care of this one family who has sought refugee instead of deporting them on the grounds that fear cannot overtake whatever laws they are trying to use as an argument.

More here:

Study on Climate Narratives in an Age of Climate Cynicism

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 10.01.37 AMCheck out the findings from a new study, “News Media and Climate Politics,” by the Climate Justice Project, led by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) and the University of British Columbia, on effective climate narratives in an age of “climate cynicism.” According to the authors: “It is often said that society is at a crossroads of climate change, and that is particularly true for how journalism will choose to represent climate politics in the future. News media can continue to direct a narrow spotlight upon the failures of governments, political elites and international negotiations. But to capture the full story of climate change, reports of failure could instead be juxtaposed with some of the countless ways in which individuals are coming together in new forms of solidarity, community and action. The path that is chosen may well have a critical impact upon how and if people who are already concerned and alarmed join with their fellow citizens and become active participants in, rather than helpless observers of, the politics of climate change.”

Here are the key results:

1. Success stories about climate politics have a positive impact:When participants read such stories, they were eager to learn more, and their perspectives shifted to become more optimistic.

2. People are especially excited by stories of entrepreneurial activism and everyday heroism — that is, tales of people who, through their own initiative and creativity, open up new spaces for political engagement for themselves and others. These stories provide concrete examples of the connection between individual and collective action. In the absence of this connection, desire for action can default to more familiar but limited ideas of individualized behaviour change (recycling, reducing energy consumption, etc).

3. As people increase their awareness and understanding of political successes, they are more likely to contradict others’ cynicism by bringing up these success stories. This is a strong argument for giving such stories a more prominent place in the mix of news about climate politics.

4. People engage more strongly with localized information about the causes and consequences of climate change, as well as solutions. Such examples make it easier to identify with and understand the issue.

5.Descriptive communication is more powerful than prescriptive: Moral injunctions to “get active” in climate politics are a common feature of environmental communication, and they may have some positive impact. But they also risk increasing feelings of guilt and frustration. On the other hand, news that provides compelling stories about the experiences of people who already participate in climate politics —including not only why they are active but also how that experience affects them — can provide a much easier point of entry into political engagement. People come to understand different forms of democratic engagement as normal activities that people just like them are doing (and enjoying).

6. Information about how to engage politically, and the effects of political engagement, is just as important as information about climate change science. While our participants were reasonably well informed about the science of climate change and about national and international climate politics, they had much less understanding of individual and collective political agency. News media could provide more stories about how a single political action by an individual (e.g. voting, joining an organization, participating in a campaign) can, together with the single actions of other individuals, create a collective political force with transformative consequences.

Naomi Klein: Climate Change as Narrative Crisis

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 12.25.47 PM Check out an interesting interview with author Naomi Klein in the Buddhist journal Tricycle, on reconsidering climate change as a “narrative crisis.” Here’s a clip:

Can you say more about climate change as a narrative crisis? What narratives are failing us?

What climate change deeply challenges is the narrative that emerged in the 1600s in the British countryside, which was that the earth is an inert machine—or a prone woman, depending on the metaphor of choice—that could be entirely understood and dominated by the genius of man. This was a new idea at the time, and it displaced a relationship to the natural world that was much more humble and reciprocal. Before, the earth was seen as a living system or as a mother, and we approached nature with humility, reverence, and a healthy dose of fear. Then, because of breakthroughs in science, a new idea emerged. We started to think, We are becoming a god and we will eventually know absolutely everything there is to know. And you can understand why, with these huge breakthroughs in understanding, it seemed as if the momentum would eventually lead to everything being known.

But this idea was just an idea until the commercial steam engine was invented in the 1700s. Before the commercial steam engine and the industrial use of coal, the ships could only sail when the winds blew. The factories had to be built wherever there was rushing water, and even the wealthiest and most powerful people in the new industrial age still had to negotiate with nature; they weren’t the boss of it. If you look at the marketing materials for Watt’s commercial steam engine, you’ll see that it explicitly sold itself with the notion “Now we finally will be free, and we finally will be able to go wherever we want, build wherever we want, whenever we want.” Now we are truly the boss.

It was this very powerful convergence of ideology and technology—the ideology of mastery and the technology of the commercial harnessing of fossil fuels—that created the illusion that we really were able to master nature completely.

Climate change is a narrative crisis because those ideas are what built the modern world. That combination of ideology and technology were major building blocks of modern capitalism. It turns out that all this time that we were telling ourselves we were in charge, we were burning fossil fuels and greenhouse gases that were accumulating in the atmosphere. So now comes the earth’s response of climate change, which is a delayed response but a ferocious one that, frankly, puts us in our place. The response is this: “You’re just a guest here, and you never were in charge. You never were the boss.”

Antibiotic Resistance in Sweden vs. India

gettyimages-3381833_custom-43442f449bc157235e7eab297e0471ba9b6fcacc-s1600-c85Changing climates can lead to increasing frequency of natural disasters and rapidly spreading diseases. With a more unstable future of global health, the resistance to antibiotics is a growing issue that often is not paid its due. While it is easy to blame poor countries for over prescribing and misusing of medications, it is a problem that is uncorrelated to a country’s wealth. Antibiotic drug resistance occurs in countries with varying degrees of poverty. The deciding factor is education of the public. Sweden has take a persistence effort to educate it’s population about how antibiotics function and how resistance can be controlled if we moderate our usage.  The parallel between climate change and medication resistance education is interesting because public opinion often dictates the situation instead of sound science education. Sweden can give us hope because changing public opinion into action can happen through simple public education. It may be an oversimplified argument, but the public can be lead to make reasonable choices if instructed in a simple and direct way.

Find the full article’s text here:

What the Notting Hill Carnival can teach the climate change movement

Clary Salandy, a designer from Britain, visited Iowa City in 2013 to share design ideas with Iowa City’s Carnaval.  Several of her costumes have been inspired by themes related to climate change.  How can we use costume and mask to discuss climate change here in Iowa City?

Here’s a clip from the Road to Paris blog:

The workshops of Mahogany Carnival Design are a menagerie of colour, glitter, fabric, wire and movement. A swan costume left over from an Olympics 2012 display sits by a huge, bejeweled eagle produced for the anniversary of a local Hindu Temple, and giant butterfly wings lean against the wall. Bits of zebras, lions, gazelles, dragons, butterflies and bats are strewn across every surface. They are maybe more than usually dominated by animals this summer, as the theme they’re taking to the Notting Hill Carnival is climate change.