People look to put their money where their morals are

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Photo: Klaus-Uwe Gerhardt from Pixabay.

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day to the best of our ability while quarantined in our homes, you may be wondering how you can help reduce the pollution that accelerates climate change and causes respiratory distress. One of the most powerful and immediate steps you can take without leaving the house is joining the movement of people around the world divesting from fossil fuels.

Last Thursday, to help individuals learn more about fossil fuel free investing, Environment America hosted a panel on Facebook Live, moderated by The New York Times contributor Tim Gray, and featuring Bill McKibben of 350.org and Leslie Samuelrich of Green Century Capital Management, our affiliated mutual fund company. …


Why do many Americans go hungry while we waste so much food?

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By Dawn Hudson via Creative Commons 0

My son and I recently spent two hours volunteering at a food bank that helps nourish the community near our Colorado home. While the primary feeling we came away with was gratitude, we also returned to our comfortable home with its fully-stocked refrigerator and pantry with quite a bit of incredulity.

Although the United States of 2020 hosts one of the most well-off societies in human history, about 1.8 million households contain adults who have to go entire days without eating because they lack the money for food — a condition described these days by the strangely sanitized term “food insecurity.” …


Will the wolf survive? It may depend on whether our love of awe and wonder can help us transcend our fears.

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You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen. But do you know this guy?

That’s one of the coyotes that I’ve seen patrolling the other side of my backyard fence about 20 times since I moved into my Colorado home 2 ½ years ago. They more often make their presence known audibly. I hear them howling dozens of nights a year, presumably over a kill. My neighborhood hosts a veritable buffet for dining predators. Prairie dogs, rabbits and squirrels run amok — and those rodents would dominate the ecosystem without coyotes keeping their populations in check.

With their uncanny survival skills, coyotes have become ubiquitous in much of the United States. But if you look at any Nextdoor chat or neighborhood Facebook group, you know that many people, scared for the safety of their families and domesticated animals, want to eradicate the coyote populations nearby. This scenario has played out throughout history whenever people regularly have come face-to-face with predators such as bears, mountain lions, and wolves. …


The Dark Sky movement is winning hearts and minds across the country

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Photo: John Fowler via Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

We “fell back” from daylight saving time to standard time earlier this month. While that may interfere with some outdoor activities such as sports, the extended “night time” means more opportunity to turn your eyes toward the invigorating, beautiful night sky — if artificial light doesn’t blot out your view of the stars.

When we had an agrarian society and a nascent (or no) electric grid, electricity was viewed as a scarce, expensive resource worth saving. …


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Image by Christian Dorn from Pixabay

On the calendar, autumn started in the Northern Hemisphere this year on a typical date — September 23. But throughout much of the world, it will still feel like summer for weeks to come. According to the federal government, we just had the hottest summer since the government began recording that data in 1880, and the five hottest summers on record have occurred over the past five years.

Unwittingly, in our efforts to thrive and survive through increasingly long, hot summers, we have created a vicious cycle that exacerbates the problem. …


by Jesse Torrence, senior director of climate campaigns, and Mark Morgenstein, senior communications manager

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Image by NiklasPntk via Pixabay

Calling today’s youth “Generation Z” has no meaning. But calling them “Generation Climate Change” makes a lot more sense. A CBS News poll released this week shows as public awareness of our climate crisis rises, younger Americans are “more serious, yet more optimistic” about the topic and our capacity to deal with it than any other age group.

This attention to climate change transcends boundaries, even oceans. What began last year as a simple act of protest by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg culminates today in a mass, coordinated global climate strike at 2,500 sites in 137 countries. With some 500 organizations and 1000+ companies supporting them, people around the world are walking out of their workplaces, homes, and schools to demand that leaders act now to restore our once-healthy climate. …


It’s abundantly clear

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Getting gelato near Lido beach in Venice, from Mark Morgenstein

After landing in Italy for a recent vacation, as our train from the Milan airport to Lake Como chugged through the countryside, I noticed an obvious lack of SUVs and pickup trucks on the nearby roads. When we got to the hotel, I saw a gas-can-sized waste basket in our bathroom that wouldn’t contain a day’s worth of trash at home in Colorado. And the tiny scoops of gelato seemed like mere samples from an American ice cream parlor.

Before this trip, I’d left North America only three times — and not since 2003. I don’t remember whether everything overseas seemed so Lilliputian then. …


The tradeoffs between quality of life now and quality of life in the future

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Photo Credit: Creative Commons.

I’m flying to Italy for the first two weeks of August.

I’ve only been to Europe once, in 1998, and I didn’t make it that far south on the continent. My children have never been out of the Western Hemisphere, and I keep telling them this is a “once in a lifetime” vacation.

My generous in-laws are providing us with free lodging and some other experiences such as Italian cooking lessons during the trip. They’re the kinds of gifts — experiences rather than more “stuff” — that my wife and I constantly request for our birthdays and holidays.

We ask for experiences because in our family, we consistently relive a cycle common in more affluent, developed countries. We purchase shiny new objects, which quickly become damaged, boring or unloved stuff. We accumulate that stuff, reclassify it as junk and then throw it out. I feel guilty about wasting things for two main reasons. First, so many people live without the material goods and essentials that we take for granted. Second, it’s bad for the environment. …


How the unintended consequences of progress can adversely offset the benefits

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Image by Gerald Simon from Pixabay

My late Aunt Elsie was at my sister’s wedding in 2011. As I videotaped and photographed the festivities with my iPhone, I asked my ninety-something grand-aunt if she could have imagined such a device when she was young. Or would it have seemed like magic? She chose the latter.

We hear all the time how rapidly technology is changing our world, mostly for the greater good. However, outside of environmentalist circles, Americans rarely discuss how often the unintended consequences of that progress have adversely offset the benefits.

I was born in 1970, just a few months after the first Earth Day. In the ensuing half century, Earth Day celebrations have become more robust, while I have become more rotund. …


Musing on the death of Peter Tork

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1967 trade ad in Billboard in Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

In my elementary school during the mid-’70s, you either went to AM kindergarten or PM kindergarten. I was glad to go to the morning session, because that meant I’d get home to my house or my best friend Kyle’s house in time to eat lunch in front of reruns of Batman, The Brady Bunch and The Monkees.

All three of these critically-panned but much-beloved shows were simple enough for five-year-olds to enjoy. But even to my kindergarten brain, The Monkees’ humor seemed surreal and avant-garde (although I wouldn’t have used those terms then).The cognoscenti looked down on the Monkees because producers had created a prefabricated band out of four obscure people. But time has brought critical appreciation in line with the popular opinion from 1966–1968: Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork were talented comedic actors and singers who brought life to tunes from some of the most prolific pop songwriters of their day, including Neil Diamond, the team of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, and the husband-wife duo Gerry Goffin and Carole King. …

Mark Morgenstein

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