Greetings on a windy autumn day in South Jersey! Villanova University students are spending the week at CFET for an immersion experience over their fall break. 10 students have been with us since Sunday, and they’ve been involved in lots of activities around Camden, including the breathtaking site of the Philadelphia skyline from the amazing Phoenix Park on South Camden’s riverfront. Tonight Cathy Nevins and I are meeting with the group to discuss ways in which each of us, each of them, can become more responsive to the climate disruption that is emerging all around us. It is too bad that the democratic candidates for President didn’t have a similar discussion this past Tuesday night, or that CNN and the New York Times couldn’t find a way to initiate such a discussion. It is profound shame and abdication of responsibility that the adults are leaving it to children, like Greta Thunberg, to be the advocates for our planet and the life it shelters. We must take up our responsibility and ACT. Here are 10 suggestions for every one of us.
- BE INFORMED. Read and listen to people who know what they are talking about when it comes to the science and the public policy around climate disruption. Check out www.livingonearth.org and Environmental Health News.
- VOTE: Register to vote and vote in every election, not just the national ones. Demand that your representatives and those seeking office explain how they intend to address climate disruption. It impacts every area of life, not just the global dimensions. We MUST demand that those who represent us, on whatever level, are committed to supporting policies that are backed up by the best science available and are moving us toward a way to at least mitigate, or at most, stop the worst consequences of climate disruption.
- IMMERSION IN NATURE: Take every opportunity to walk in a public park, to visit community gardens, to sit still in one space and identify the many animals and birds that inhabit that space, to visit museums and nature centers that educate about the animals and ecosystems of your area.
- TRANSPORTATION: Try as much as possible to use public transportation; to plan your car travel so that you hit as many errands as possible with one trip; find ways to carpool to various activities.
- FOOD: Try as much as possible to eat lower on the food chain. Educate yourself about the environmental impact of our food, especially animal products. Try to eat as locally as possible, and to eat seasonally, that is, to eat in tune with what is grown where you live.
- CONSUMER PRODUCTS: This includes our clothes, electronics, etc. Try to use items longer, to put off purchasing a new product until you truly need to.
- REUSE, RECYCLE, REDUCE: Rather than throw clothes away, take gently used clothes to Goodwill. Recycle as much as possible, at home, school and in your business. This means plastics and paper should be recycled as much as possible, even if this means a bit of extra effort on your part.
- HEATING/COOLING: Do we really need to live in the tropics in the dead of winter? Or in an icebox in the depth of summer? Find ways to reduce your use of energy to heat and cool your living and working space.
- ADVOCACY: If your home, school and place of business do not make possible these kinds of practices, especially recycling and reducing waste, then demand it. Are there processes at work that could be accomplished with less paper? Can we position recycle bins in more effective spaces? Can our business sponsor a CSA program for our employees, partnering with a local farmer?
- ACTIVISM: Show up for local actions and marches that are aimed at raising awareness of, and/or demanding action on, climate disruption related issues. Start a Fridays for the Future event at your school or place of business. Show up at your campus events related to climate disruption. Use social media to pass on information and to support efforts.
I am sure there are more things to add to this list, but 10 seems like a good number to begin. Share this with your friends and family, even the skeptical ones. Add to it, and pass your additions back to us here at CFET so we can learn as well. There is only one earth; there is no Plan B. We can act to mitigate the worst consequences of climate disruption, a disruption brought about by human beings in pursuit of resources that are NOT renewable. We have to act, and we cannot allow our children to bear that responsibility alone. Future generations, our children and grandchildren, will wonder where we were when it became clear that climate disruption would have a profound impact on life on earth. Where indeed? Let’s rise to the challenge, each doing his or her bit, for the sake of Earth and the life she shelters, and if not for her, then for our children and grandchildren. Peace, Mark Doorley, Ph.D. Treasurer, CFET Board of Trustees