Happy New Year!

Like all good resolutions, I’m going to admit I’ve outgrown mine from 2017. No need to laugh and jump and shout, “I told you so!” just yet. I’m not retiring my resolutions. But rather, the act of embarking upon them has brought me farther than any other resolution has ever carried me before. They need a tune up, because I know how to get more milage out of them. Click Here to refresh your memory.

At the start, I imagined I would write a reflection post on how the year went sometime after Christmas: what went well, what I stuck to, what action points I philandered upon. What I’ve learned about all of the damage occurring to our climate, even as I write and you read, is that TIME is something we don’t have to waste if we want to maintain the weather patterns that sustain quality human life.

My resolutions, brought on by fear of my own ignorance of climate change, have catapulted me into becoming a leader on the subject. I need not scratch off original climate action “diet” items off my resolution list and shovel metaphorical petrol-flavored ice cream in my mouth. Instead, I’ve lost those climate-change “five pounds” and carry the knowledge now of how to become even more effectual. I’m not reverting to my old ways. I see them as the platform I dove off from, head first, and rather than belly flopping in the puddle below, sprouted wings and have taken flight.

(side note: I wonder if by sharing these thought I sound a little full of myself? This blog is a bit of a journal for me, so bear with me).

I looked up that song people wrap their arms around each other and slur their words to when they ring in the new year. No wonder I always hum it after the first line! Its not a champagne side-effect after all. Apparently the phrase I muddle through is ‘Auld Lang Syne’ which means ‘old long ago,’ or ‘‘days gone by,’ or ‘back in the day.’

‘Auld Lang Syne’ Lyrics

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
and surely I’ll buy mine!
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

Scholars exist who analyze this Robert Burns song–I am not one of them. Journaling for the sake of this blog, reading and really trying to understand the diction of this poem, I cannot help but adopt this song of friendship and merriment as an anthem to the changing energy revolution in response to the climate reality: Should we forget the past? No, let’s drink together and reunite (I’ve definitely required a glass of wine after some hard-earned climate change facts)! The imagery of mountains and daisies and streams brings to mind existing once on a clean planet, but that we’ve gone astray from being good stewards to our Earth. In fact, climate change is upon us, and, “Seas between us broad have roared.” But we can work together, hand in hand, to fix the problems we face and get back on track.

Here are my new New Year’s resolutions to the climate problem.

  1. Adopt a plant-rich diet, supporting good land use practices. This clause will mean eating less meat altogether. A LOT less meat. Meat I do consume should be local, sustainably produced, with minimal impacts on the environment as a result of land use. Hawken’s Drawdown concedes, “Bringing about profound dietary change is not simple because eating is profoundly personal and cultural. Meat is laden with meaning, blended into customs, and appealing to taste buds” (39). Word. I love steak. But why not go vegetarian or vegan? I might bite you in retaliation, for starters. Instead, I’m going to, “reframe meat as a delicacy, rather than a staple” (40). Meat will be consumed ceremoniously, for special occasions. In a way I guess, I was already practicing this idea of ceremonial eating. I saved the shanks from my butchered lamb for my mother-in-law’s birthday. They are her favorite and we have some serious inside jokes and tales about lamb. It made me feel good to set those aside, just for her. I have one single, solitary (and old now) 1 lb. package of organic ground beef squirreled away in my deep freezer for my traditional Christmas Eve meal. I included “good land use practices” because meat produced on amazon rainforest lands is just as bad as land burned for palm oil production. I am accepting recipes for plant filled vegetarian favorites!
  2. Adopt 100% renewable energy, and encourage others to do the same. Quite simply, shifting to an energy system that is 100% renewable is what we need to do bend the production of greenhouse gas emissions as sharply as necessary to prevent warming to the 2 degree mark. Marin, Sonoma, and the greater San Francisco north bay all have the luxury of purchasing their electricity from a hard fought-for clean energy service provider. Marin Clean Energy is a service that buys renewable energy on your behalf, and works to increase renewable sources of energy in the area. Just because you aren’t burning coal or oil in your home, conventional energy via PGE right now is only about 22% renewable. For a single penny a kilowatt hour (about $3 a month for my home), I can ensure that the electricity I’m purchasing results in zero greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, these renewable energy services advertise for FREE businesses who have opted up into 100% renewable as well. I will encourage businesses I frequent that 100% renewable energy is important to me, and that it is a factor in my purchasing decisions. I cannot underscore enough how EASY it is in our area to buy 100% renewable; the hard work has already been done for us and you don’t even need your PG&E number or solar panels on your roof. #optup today!! Long term goals will be for solar on our property and even a battery microgrid system.
  3. Reduce my transportation emissions. Our cars and their internal combustion engines are a real thorn in my side. I can’t replace them right now. Two electric cars are most definitely in our household’s five-year plan. We took the opportunity to upgrade our electrical panel to be ready for just about any electricity load we may need in the future, so when we are ready for a Volt or Leaf or Tesla or whatever else is out there on the market when the day finally comes we can afford to buy, our electrical panel is up to the task. Its also ready for solar, too! In the meantime, I’m doubling down my efforts for using my cars less. That means more walking, biking, carpooling, public transport, and freeloading from my Prius-owner friends.
  4. Stay political, and shift my focus to the local level changes and initiatives. One thing I learned from the Climate Reality leadership training, is that a lot of change can happen at the county level, where their oversight is on much of the local infrastructure and building codes lie. SB-49 California Environmental, Public Health, and Workers Defense Act of 2017, that I advocated in favor of, I learned is DOA. Apparently the California State Senate is less moderate than a more conservative legislature by comparison. So we need people who are going to write and vote for such initiates as carbon taxing and clean energy bills, and then support them through the legislative process. The current administration may censor scientific data to deny the fact of climate change, but quite frankly, a local, more focused campaign at a household, city, county, and state level will be more effective. Even though Trump announced his intention to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Agreement, we are still on target to achieve what we said we were going to do. What a relief to learn that we don’t need the White House to get the job done. Decision makers also respond to groups of supporters who can come together to show a unified message. Engaging groups and more individuals to project a message will be another way I can be more effective.
  5. Continue to work to reduce food waste. We are already composting and mostly shopping at the local farmer’s market. This practice reduces energy to transport, refrigerate, package, etc. down the whole supply chain of industrialized agriculture. Composting reduces methane production from organic material decomposing anaerobically in our landfill. I do have room to improve and now that our kitchen remodel is over, I can really get organized. In addition to considering plastic packaging, I will look at what a company is doing as a whole when considering my food purchases. For example, Strauss creamery may provide their milk in glass bottles, but I had stopped purchasing my daughters’ favorite yogurt because it came in a plastic tub. Quite frankly, this omission was expensive and ultimately futile because my kids stopped eating yogurt. However, one of the dairies in the Strauss co-op recently installed a methane capturing system on their dairy, and use it to fuel their feed truck with zero emissions. Plastic sucks. Its dirty to make and never goes away. I will still buy alternatives if a non-plastic option is available and continue to encourage plastic-free packaging. But plastic won’t be the sole reason I select a product, especially if a company is working hard to reduce their carbon footprint in other ways.

Happy New year! I do hope that if you like what you are reading, you will email subscribe to our blog. Email subscribers make me do a happy dance!

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