Monthly Archives: October 2015

Questions for Environmentalists on why do they practice Yoga?

1.When do you do Yoga? What are its benefits?
2. Why are you passionate about environmentalism?
3. Describe how Yoga helps you connect better with the environment around you?
4. What are some of the ways Yoga helps you work in your field and to calmly face tough situations, especially when you’re trying to explain environmental problems to people who do not want to understand them?
5. How can Yoga help us move towards environmental restoration?

Humanitarian and Environmental Crossover

“Caring for the planet, I’ve realized, also means caring for its inhabitants.” Click here for the full article of Katherine Martinko, who writes clearly on the importance of humanitarian issues in the face of environmental issues.

Martinko’s article explores the importance of caring for refugees and the process: refugees are matched with with a certain community based on what resources they need and if the community can supply them, such as ESL classes, medical care, counseling, job marketing, and more. She explains the importance of allowing refugees to resettle (in her article, Canada, but for the purposes of my project, Iowa City). Refugees can offer a lot for a community: new young people and innovations, expanding entrepreneurship, and bringing a sense of cultural diversity that unites people through their differences rather than separates them.

The Wind that Rattles the Branches

With the back drop of a blistering summer swelter in June 1988, climate scientist Dr. James Hansen testified on the imminent dangers of global climate change and unmitigated emissions of greenhouse gasses in front of the congressional committee on Energy and Natural Resources. That was 27 years ago. The call to take action on climate change has been run through the lines of our legislative system and process from this moment forward and has proved all but ineffective. With a record number of Americans now finally acknowledging the issue of global climate change, our legislative bodies have been all too slow to take definitive and decisive action on global climate change. As we enter into diplomatic discussions in the beginning of December in Paris, we we do not have the support of our much of our federal and state legislative bodies to respond and support many of the actions on the table in Paris. This focus on the executive and legislative branches in many of the issues surrounding action on global climate change may be all too over stated in importance. While the necessity for our legislature and executive bodies to take action will remain, our judicial system poses greater potency in this movement towards mitigating the effects of global climate change. The largest litigation effort in our nations history is taking place over this issue. Our Children’s Trust, endowed by the Public Trust Doctrine, set out to sue state governments over their in action on climate change and the ramifications that it will have on public goods and services protected under the public trust doctrine. Filing in 50 states, Our Children’s Trust works with kids from their respective states on mounting a court case against state and local governments with success stories to follow. This frontier in environmental law allows for further angles of litigation and further defends and defines the rights of future generations- my generation- that will have to deal with the effects of global climate change that are already set to our reality. While the case in Iowa over our atmosphere has has been denied its appeal, a petition to change the rule-making process to incorporate the atmosphere under the public trust doctrine is underway. Ways to further support and find out more about Iowa’s case for future rights to our atmosphere on Our Children’s Trust can be found at their website

Check out this video from the Perennial Plate with Diane Ott Whealy, one of the Co-Founders of Seed Savers Exchange. Diane is one of the people I’m hoping to interview, and the story line she mentions in this video is what I hope to personify in my project.


Doctors for Climate Action

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 5.24.30 PM Check out the statement and call for actions from the Doctors for Climate Action:

Peak medical organisations from around the world have come together to call on States at the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) to commit to meaningful and urgent action to combat the adverse health impacts of climate change.

The recently released Second Report of the Lancet Commission on Climate Change and Health: policy responses to protect public health released in June 20151 and the wealth of available evidence demonstrates unequivocally that climate change is a global health issue.

The devastating impacts of climate change on human health across the globe can no longer be ignored. Extreme weather events, disruptions to food and water supply, loss of livelihoods, threats to human security and alterations in climate-sensitive disease distribution and frequency will all be exacerbated by unchecked climate change.1 These have serious consequences for physical and mental health and well-being.

Furthermore, the evidence suggests that countries that contribute the least to climate change are most likely to be severely affected. Many have limited resources to allow them to adapt to climate change and their health services already struggle to cope with the burden of climate-sensitive disease.2

COP21 offers the opportunity to limit the degree of warming to levels where adaptation is still possible. States must commit to meaningful measures to circumvent the adverse health effects of climate change that threaten us all. It is imperative that States commit to investing in climate change mitigation measures and in assisting lower income countries to do so.

Alongside these commitments from States at COP21, as a global health and medical community, we will also commit to promoting measures which will have positive co-benefits for our patients. There are significant immediate health benefits that flow from taking action on climate change at the individual and local level that will result in reduced rates of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular and respiratory disease, improved life expectancy and reduced pressure on health systems.

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Upcoming Iowa City Relief for Syria Crisis

syrian relief

Poster for the event at St. Raphael Orthodox Church in Iowa City.

On Saturday, November 7, St. Raphael Orthodox Christian Church in Iowa City will host an event to promote International Orthodox Christian Charities, or IOCC, humanitarian relief for the Syria crisis, featuring Syrian foods and a discussion following, regarding IOCC relief work in the region and what else can be done in addition to what has happened. It is $25 to attend, and the money immediately goes to relief funds. I encourage anyone who can/is interested in learning more about the situation go (I am not religious and will most likely attend the reception and presentation still).

Iowa City does indeed have a Syrian community. On Thursday, October 29, I will speak with Mousa Abuissa, nephew of Iowa City’s Newman Abuissa–a prominent figure in Syrian and Arab rights and humanitarian relief in the Iowa City community–and doctoral candidate for Pharmacy at the University of Iowa. We will be discussing the current migrant/refugee crisis out of Syria and its implications on the Syrian people as a whole, as well as through a global context. I will be asking him questions like the following:

  • How has living in Iowa City shaped your view on Syria and the Syrian conflict? What is your connection there? 
  • What do you know about current conditions of Syrian refugees relocating to Europe? 
  • How do you see Syrian people’s health changing during the large displacement they are currently experiencing? 
  • What are you currently doing now in Iowa City?
  • Is there a large refugee community here?
  • What can we do to help refugees from here?
  • Do you have a specific stance on climate change?
  • What role do refugees play in the Iowa City co
  • What role can refugees play in regards to a regenerative city?
  • What is the importance of cultural diversity and understanding in light of the Syrian conflict?

Anything else I can add? I’m very excited to talk to Mousa and to meet with my other contacts. I think he will provide a fresh view on the conflict, being Syrian and a graduate student at the University of Iowa, as well as connected to events like these in the general Iowa City community.


Preemptive Ash Tree Removal in Iowa

In Davenport, Iowa, the ash tree removal has begun. In anticipation of the arrival and spread of the Emerald Ash Borer, the city has decided to remove its Ash trees from public property and begin to replace them with other species. Once the trees are removed the city has called in a private contractor to mill the trees into boards as well as build benches to sell. The money raised from the sale goes into the city’s general funds which is used indirectly to purchase new trees. The following are a list of questions that I pondered while reading the article (linked at the bottom of this post) and reaching out to the article’s author. Follow up with the city’s arborist will ensue.

1) Why not directly EAB-with-D-Shaped-Holesuse all of the funds raised from the sale of boards and benches to purchase new trees?
2) Are they going to match or exceed the number trees removed with trees planted in the future? How do you decided what species to plant? 3) Is this tree removal too preemptive? Is it smart to salvage trees before their wood deteriorates or is it denying ash trees the opportunity to become resistant to the Ash Borer?
4) Why are there waves of popular trees to plant at a given time? Ash is prevalent in Bettendorf, IA because at the time the city was growing rapidly and it was a favorite to plant in subdivisions. Moline, IA has an abundance of Silver Maple because after Dutch Elm Disease demolished their Elm populations, Silver Maple was heavily planted. Why is the standard to obsess over one tree type instead of always replanting with a variety?