Tag Archives: Bill McKibben

You Must Read—The Parent’s Guide to Climate Revolution

Are you a parent, about to become a parent, or even thinking about having a child in the near future?  Good.  Be prepared to be scared shitless on a daily, if not more frequent basis, as only being a person responsible for the existence of another human being can make you.

9781608684816.jpgSaying that “you must read” Mary DeMocker’s The Parent’s Guide to Climate Revolution is a little misleading.  This is not a book you read cover to cover and take back to the library.  DeMocker admits as much:

Or you might adopt the fortune cookie method—keep the book nearby and, whenever you have a few minutes, crack it open and see what you get.  Most chapters are short enough to fit into the average bathroom breaks parents with young children allow themselves. [xxvi]

This is not a book with a powerful narrative streak built through successive chapters that concludes with a powerful final passage.  We know what the powerful narrative is before we even pick up the book because we are worried that our actions today will create a planet that is unlivable in the future.  The very fate of humanity rests in our hands.

The book is laid out into 100 chapters or fortune cookie moments if you will under broad headings like “Raise Empowered Kids” and “Build a Fossil-Free Future.”  I would quibble it should be a fossil fuel free future because I still want to see fossils at the Field Museum, but I digress.

What were the pieces that I liked best:

  1. Get Clear on Why There is Hope—There is hope. We often forget to message this fact when we are discussing the state of the world with regards to climate change, Donald Trump, Nebraska Cornhusker football…you know, things that seem so dauntingly horrible that nothing will matter. Well, our kids pick up on that vibe and it is our duty to make sure that we convey hope.


  1. Plant Trees!—Trees are amazing. You will find no bigger advocate of trees as a solution to a lot of problems than me. Planting a tree with your kids is one of those teaching moments that keeps on teaching well after the planting.  Through the seasons and as the tree grows your child will be amazed, as they should be, by what the tree they helped plant does.




  1. Be the 3.5 Percent—Apparently, non-violent movements become successful when approximately 3.5 percent of the population or more is involved. All right, let’s get 3.5 percent signed up.



  1. Let Kids Play with Knives—I would like to amend this to also say let kids play with saws and shovels and hammers and what not. We have created a generation or two of children that have little experience with actually making things from bare components as opposed to pre-selected bits with tidy instructions. See what they can do with some potatoes and onions or a few scrap pieces of wood in the garage.




  1. Tame Your Tongue—This one is the hardest for me because in a time when crass political language dominates the only method of communication that seems to break through is to out nasty the nasty. However, we are better served not behaving in such a way and it is my hope that I can follow this advice.



I could have picked a lot more of the one hundred fortune cookie moments, but you get the idea.  You will pick the book up and key in on different moments.   That is the purpose of the book.


Friday Linkage 10/6/2017

This country is messed up in so many ways.  What has happened in the past weeks in Puerto Rico and Las Vegas are horrific reminders of the role our politicians play in responding to disasters and shaping our future.  However, we are saddled with Trump and his merry band of Republican sycophants who care for nothing more than self-adulation, guns, and tax cuts.  In reality, Trump cares only about self-adulation and Republicans really only care about tax cuts but both are willing to use the issue of gun rights to get their desired outcomes.

I do hold out hope that there is a better and more constructive future in the works as the coalition that has propped up the right wing for the past twenty years fractures under its own internal pressures and external demographic realities.

On to the links…

The McKibben Effect: A Case Study in How Radical Environmentalism Can Work—It’s not radical if the end goal is the survival of humanity as a species.  It’s only radical because the forces opposed have deduced that the easiest way to create opposition is to label something as radical in an effort to saddle it with semantic baggage.

Skiing IS Politics—The personal is political and it always has been.

New Era of Solar Power is Now Upon Us—According to the International Energy Agency, two-thirds of the power installed in 2016 was solar.  The same agency predicts that solar growth will be the highest of any energy source through at least 2022.

US Renewables Grew 10% In 1st Half Of 2017—That is a damn good number for the first half of the year given that the number usually spikes in the second half due to large projects coming on line before the year’s end.

Growth of Green Energy Sector Surges in Minnesota—Clean and green energy is producing a lot of jobs in a lot of places.  No one really thinks about Minnesota being a hot spot for solar, but solar is big business now.

What’s Up in Coal Country: Alternative-Energy Jobs—This is what the future looks like.  It is not Trump’s attempt to use clowns like Rick Perry to prop up the coal industry for the benefit of a few crony capitalists.  It is about providing jobs for people in an industry that can help make the world a better place.

Courts are Waking up to the Cost of Climate Change—The guy at the top and his minions—here’s looking at you Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke—may be tools of the fossil fuel industry, but it looks like the rest of the world is realizing the true costs of these fuels need to take into account externalities.

Here are the Actual Tax Rates the Biggest Companies in America Pay—As the debate over tax reform…errr tax cuts heats up in Washington D.C. take note of what is really happening.  American companies do not pay higher taxes than their counterparts in Europe.  However, you will hear this time and again in the coming months.  It is a right wing myth.

Americans Have Soured on Junk Food. Don’t Worry, Food Companies Have a Plan.—Americans no longer mindlessly consume ever more Big Macs, Whoppers, and whatever the hell Taco Bell is making today.  Oh, we still consume the veritable shit ton of junk food but the growth has stalled.  On to the developing world the titans of garbage in a paper sack say.

Bicycle Highway in the Netherlands Built Using Recycled Toilet Paper—Leave it to the freaking Dutch to build a bike path out of recycled toilet paper.

This Entire Barley Field was Planted and Harvested without Humans—Automation in farming may happen before automation in our personal automobiles.  I do not know what the positives and negatives are of this development but robotic farming is kind of cool.

Which Is Better for the Environment: Meatless Mondays or #NoRedOctober?—Why not do both?

Friday Linkage 4/7/2017

At what point do we look into the abyss and see nothing but Donald Trump’s searing ineptitude staring back at us?  Every time the man goes to the podium with a world leader to his right he stumbles through a word salad of “very this” and “tremendous that” without ever actually saying something of substance.

Every time he steps to the podium I am reminded of Robin Williams’ line in Dead Poets Society:


Unfortunately laziness is now the currency of the land.

On to the links…

The Question I Get Asked the Most—Take a moment and read the entirety of Bill McKibben’s piece at Resilience.org.  Think about the meaning and do something.

Can Steve King be Defeated? History Says Probably Not—People in his district love Steve King.  He is one of the most embarrassing human beings in politics and the people in his district will reelect him in a walk in 2018.   Why?  They are also the same people who are probably standing behind Donald Trump and Bill O’Reilly.

Why Is Trump Ignoring These Good Heartland Jobs?—Why?  It does not fit his easy narrative and the man is lazy.  It does not matter that renewable energy employs more people than coal and that the renewable energy jobs sector is growing.  It also is a narrative that does not line the pockets of Koch Industries and other Trump lovers.

6 Charts That Show Trump Isn’t Stopping the Renewable Energy Revolution Any Time Soon—I hope the conclusion is right.  I just hope that there is enough inertia to overcome the amazing level of stupidity coming from Washington D.C. right now.

US Coal Production Hits 38 Year Low—Here is the thing.  As coal production volumes fall there is a self-perpetuating cycle of decline that follows because it is a capital intensive business.  As coal gets more expensive to mine it gets more expensive to make coal fired electricity, which leads to utilities closing down coal fired power plants.  This causes coal demand to fall further which causes the price of mining coal to increase.  So on and so forth.

While Trump Promotes Coal, Chile and Others are Turning to Cheap Sun Power—Again, it does not fit his lazy narrative.  Plus, solar jobs don’t allow you put on cool hard hats and gesticulate:


Wastewater: The Best Hidden Energy Source You’ve Never Heard Of—I hesitate to call this renewable energy, so why don’t we go with recovered energy.  Nonetheless, in a system where we are looking for every kilowatt hour that can be generated from non-fossil fuels this is a potential source of goodness.

What Pollutes the Urban Mississippi? Lawns, Dogs and Lots of Pavement Runoff—We may not be able to make rural communities do something about the runoff from farm fields because the rightward lurch of those areas has made progress a daunting task, but there is a lot that can be done in our urban watersheds.

Pot’s Cousin Explored as Viable Crop Option for Minnesota—Illinois is talking about legalization and Minnesota is exploring hemp.  Paying taxes and giving rural communities another crop option is the death knell of federal prohibition.

Ten Cool Facts About Hemp From the NoCo Expo—Did you have an acquaintance in college who spent hours telling you all the cool facts about hemp that “the man” would not allow to become mainstream because reasons?  That person is mainstream now.

Peak Auto? These Charts Point to Industry, U.S. Economy Concerns—We may be “over auto-ed” as a country.  The implications for the economy are fairly dramatic.

The Couple who Coaxed 300 Acres of Barren Farmland Back into Lush Forest—It’s only 300 acres, but it is also only two people.  We have the tools to make the world a better place.  Let’s get cracking.

Friday Linkage 4/13/2012

Friday the 13th always seemed scarier when I was a kid.  Maybe it was too many movies featuring a hockey mask wearing psychopath, scantily clad teenagers of both genders, rusty garden tools, and some kind of cabin in the woods.

I still get a little unnerved turning onto Elm Street though…

On to the links…

9 States Get More than 10 Percent of Power from Renewables–I love stories like these because it shows the progress that renewables have made regardless of the opposition from fossil fuels.  It also shows how much work there is to be done in transitioning from dirty power to clean renewables.

How We Subsidize the Energy Giants to Wreck the Planet–Bill McKibben has recognized the enemy and he is…us!  Okay, we may not really know how we subsidize the burning of our planet.  See how.

What Happens to Coal if We Don’t Burn It–Brad Plumer really pisses in my Cheerios when he shows how a reduction in coal use by the Western world may not matter because China and India cannot get enough.  Joy.

Americans Throw Away Enough Trash in a Year to Cover Texas–This is the first time I have seen Texas’ size used in a context that I agree with.  Usually it’s “Texas is so big….” fill in the blank with something about being the sixth largest something or the fifth largest other thing.  The idea of a trash covered Texas is slightly humorous and disturbing.  But it is an infographic.

Is an Egg Worth It?–In the name of efficiency we have dehumanized the production of our food so much that it resembles a scene from Dante’s Divine Comedy.  Nothing was funny about that book and nothing is funny about the way our food is commonly produced.

Worst Farm Bill Ever?–Probably not when you consider what some of the farm bills looked like through the 1960s and 1970s.  Earl Butz anyone? Still, the current bill is pretty bad.  Another example of how our farm policies warp our food supply, endanger our lives, and cost us money.

Science Reveals Agriculture’s True Impact–What we grow and how we grow have a huge impact on the planet.  Duh?  Any climate change solutions, therefore, must  include agriculture as part of the problem and solution.

Organic, All-Natural Faux Blueberries–Yep, those little sugar nuggets posing as blueberries in so many box mixes and baked goods can be organic and all-natural.  What’s not to love?  Oh yeah, it’s garbage.

Joel Salatin Rocks–When you get depressed about the current state of food production in the United States take a moment to consider that there are people out there doing the right things.  Joel Salatin, a hero to the food movement, is one of those people. Take a look at his thoughts on the concept of elitism in the food movement.

The “Dark Lord” of Nutrition–It’s short and sweet.  This little video lays out the debate around high fructose corn syrup in an easy to understand way.  Dig it.

Heritage Field Opens Near Yankee Stadium–In what I consider to be one of the greatest scams, the New York Yankees were allowed to build on parkland in the Bronx for their new cathedral to overpriced infielders awaiting roles as DH.  You have to love a country where a private company–the New York Yankees–are allowed to take over a public resource using financing that is tax exempt.  Consider all of this in light of the fact that our children do not get enough time outside to play.  Seems like a good deal.

Don’t Buy a Volt if You Value Your Money–It’s a good chart that shows the relative fuel and dollar savings of a hybrid/electric/high efficiency car over its more traditional counterpart.  I would quibble with the comparison of a Prius and a Camry because it favor the Prius.  A Prius versus a Corolla perhaps.

Friday Linkage 9/16/2011

The weather turned distinctly fall-like in the span of a couple of days this week.  It was 88 and sunny on Monday, but by Wednesday it was hovering in the low 60s and frost was starting to appear in the morning.  With football on the television it is time to make some chili and enjoy the change of the seasons.

Reinventing Fire—The Rocky Mountain Institute has release a detailed roadmap designed to move the United States to a fossil fuel free economy by 2050.  Is it bold?  Yes.  Is it doable?  Yes.  Who is standing in the way?  Lots of people led by Republicans.

Tar Sands Showdown: The Fight Over the Future of Energy—A decent interview with Bill McKibben from Wired about the Keystone XL pipeline project and the associated tar sands projects in Canada.  I think framing this as the future of energy can be a smart move because it is a dystopian future.  Consider that there is no such thing as a leakproof pipeline.

Cars Don’t Waste Fuel, People Do—The cheapest and easiest way to increase the fuel efficiency of the existing fleet is to change the behavior of the people operating the wheel of the cars.  No one is saying we all need to become fanatical hypermilers, but there is a lot of room for improvement.  I think about this every time I see a Toyota Prius blow past me on the interstate at 90 miles per hour.  How efficient is any car going that fast?  Not very.

600 Tons of Compost a Day—In San Francisco, a mandatory composting law has led to the collection of 600 tons of food waste per day!  It is amazing that this much material is being diverted from the landfill and that this material was landfilled in the first place.  The linked video shows how the city’s facility deals with such a high volume of material.

Why “Killing the Electric Car” is a Bad Idea—The debate continues on the viability of the electric car, but this article argues that the electric car is a component of our transportation future because it offers flexibility.  In other words, electric propulsion is part of a portfolio of transportation options.  In portfolio theory, you diversify in an effort to reduce risk.  Therefore, a variety of transportation options becomes the tool with which we diversify away the risk of future energy shocks.

Urban Foragers Live Simply, Cheaply Off the Land—Do you ever see fruit trees in your neighborhood and wonder if anyone eats those apples?  Do you ever see bushes and wonder if someone picks those elderberries?  Urban foragers do.  The landscape is filled with options if only we will open our eyes to the possibilities.

Is a Bike Really More Efficient than a Car?—An interesting take from a very car-centric blog.  It sort of misses the total cost of ownership, embodied energy, etc. of driving a car.  I do agree that sometimes the expense of cycling can become onerous for those of us who love doodads and exotic materials.  Why yes, I would love a commuter bike make of carbon fiber with titanium bits.