Ted Glick, Trenton, NJ 14 day fast 2018

I have known Ted Glick for almost 10 years now. Not only is Ted a colleague – but a friend. Ted is fierce, he is committed to the causes he believes. Through many climate events and actions that I have witnessed over the years – both national and local,  I feel that Ted is regularly selfless. I have learned so much from Ted. He has shown me how someone can truly put the greater good of humanity before themselves. Ted embodies our ClimateMama motto: Tell the truth, Actions speak louder than words, Don’t be Afraid.

Today, I am worried about Ted’s health and his future. As I write this on October 26th, Ted has been on a water-only fast for 24 days.

Below are excerpts from an article Ted wrote on October 24, 2020 about his current fast. Ted’s article in its entirety can be read here. 

Water-Only for 22 Days to Defeat Trump

By Ted Glick

When I began my water-only Fast to Defeat Trump on October 3, I had some idea about how I was going to feel as it progressed. I have done long water-only fasts before, though the last time, on the issue of the climate crisis, was 13 years ago when I was 58 years old. On this one I’m 71. And though I’m a regular long-distance bicyclist and exercise guy, that’s getting up there in years, I know.

This one has been harder than the one in 2007. I remember during that one being pretty active as late as the 22nd or 23rd days. Not this time. I have been weak since day two, the primary symptom I’ve had all throughout. This morning I woke up after a good night’s sleep and found it difficult to get going, with the most weakness since I stopped eating.

But the most important thing about my hunger strike is not how I’m feeling but whether or not there is evidence that it is having its desired result. What is that? It’s the motivation of other people who might not otherwise to vote for the removal of Trump by voting for Biden, and to get involved in the organized efforts by a number of groups to turn out the majority of the American population that opposes Trump.

Like many other commentators, I consider this election to be one of it not the most consequential elections in decades. There’s the issue of democracy and if we’ll still have it if Trump is elected. There’s the issue of Trump’s open egging on and support of violent, white supremacist groups. There’s his total walking away from giving leadership in the fight against COVID-19. There’s his misogyny and ant-lgbt history. There’s his explicit policies of shoveling even more money and power to his fellow oligarchs and the rich. But the ultimate most important one for me is his overt denial of the climate emergency we are in and his repeated moves to prop up a faltering fossil fuel industry.

The way I see it, when the future of life on earth is very literally at stake with this election, it’s more than appropriate for actions that may seem extreme if those actions can have an impact. With every fiber of my being, I pray, and believe, that this action is doing that.

Ted Glick is the author of the recently-published “Burglar for Peace: Lessons Learned in the Catholic Left’s Resistance to the Vietnam War.” More information about Ted can be found at https://tedglick.com  and on Twitter 

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Traditionally, the United Nations General Assembly begins the third Tuesday in September. Having worked for years at the United Nations, I remember the excitement, the anticipation and the hope. This year, with a global health pandemic pulsating throughout the world, the start of the General Assembly seems somehow, less relevant. However, in many ways it couldn’t be more relevant. This year is the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations. An important milestone to mark, to note and to celebrate.

As COVID has shown us, local and regional solutions to global problems, and even individual actions – like mask wearing – can help create solutions and slow down existing and impending crises. We must do the same with the climate crisis – everything we can at every level of action that we can be involved with; from working with our families on how we use energy and what  foods we eat,  to taking actions that have national implications, like voting. However, ultimately and in addition, we know that we must have systemic change and we will  need governments around the world to share ideas, best practices and take action together and apart – therefore the United Nations has and will continue to have, an important role to play. We look forward to celebrating 75 years of the United Nations in 2020 and many more years to come.

In addition to September being the start of the United Nations General Assembly – NYC, where the UN is headquartered –  has also become home to a September  “Climate Week”.  Through this program, events around climate solutions are discussed, devised and debated. This year, with so many things online because of COVID, you don’t need to be in New York City to participate. Check out some of the amazing listing from the Climate Group and use your search engine to search for more @ climate week events.

I have the honor and the privilege of speaking at many events this week around my new book, “How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change, Turning Angst into Action” and more broadly about many of the issues angst raises but that action  helps move forward. Find out where YOUR favorite climate mama is at the author page on our site. Almost all of these upcoming events are free and open to the public.

I am thrilled to be sharing my message of active hope and climate action across the country and around the world. I would love to come and speak to your group, organization, house of worship or company. Be in touch at info@climatemama.com. as days are booking up fast!

 

Your Climate Mama,

 

Harriet

P.S. Through September 22nd, New Society Publishers is offering 40% off of ALL their publications, including How To Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change, Turning Angst into Action. You will find many wonderful titles and subjects at New Society, a publisher who really walks the walk on sustainability. Use code CELEBRATE at check out! 

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When you write a book (like I did recently), you always wonder if others are reading it and if so, was it helpful to them; did they like it? Even when YOU know it provides really useful information (If I do say so myself 🙂 because you know it has the facts, the details and the advice that people have been asking you for –  for many, many years.) So, I was touched and so very pleased to get a note from UK mom Rachael Angela about her experience with my book. In fact, Rachel shared a whole blog post she had written about it that included ways she was putting into practice what she had read. Rachel is an awesome writer, and I will let her words, in her blog post below, speak for themselves. Do check out Rachel’s new website and blog, Navigating Ecological Chaos (where her post below was first published). Subscribe to the blog and follow Rachel on Twitter, she has a lot of wise words and advice to share.

Your Climate Mama,

Harriet

What do We Tell Our Children? Dodging Truth in a “Climate-Aware” Home

by Rachael Angela (First published on NavigatingChaos.org, July 28, 2020)

Some years ago, when my eldest was 11 years old, I broke the news to him about Father Christmas.

He was devastated.

“What about the tooth fairy?’ he asked, wiping his eyes.

I shook my head.

More tears, a long uncomfortable pause and then he asked, “is there anything else you’ve been lying to me about?”

Ouch.

It was going so badly that, had I been fully aware then of the severity of our ecological predicament, I might have been tempted to throw that in too, get it all over and done with.

“Actually, yes, since you ask, we’ve caused the sixth mass extinction and the earth’s pretty much on a death spiral.”

Possibly not the wisest of moves but at least it would have been out there.

As it stands he’s at university now, the planet’s outlook is significantly bleaker and we still haven’t had that conversation – despite going on many protests together, despite my campaigning, despite my involvement with Extinction Rebellion and Friends of the Earth.

Why?

Because it’s painful enough facing ecological truth yourself but to share that with your kids feels unbearable.

Consequently, as well as my eldest at uni – who the conversation is possibly now too late for? – I have two young teens in our “climate-aware” home who I haven’t talked to properly about the true state of the earth.

Just the thought of it sends me into turmoil.

On the one hand I know that “there’s perhaps no greater threat facing the rights of the next generation of children,” and as that next generation of leaders and sufferers they ought to know the full story.

On the other hand, I’m acutely aware that young people today have enough to contend with as it is. They’re already in crisis. Mental illness has been steadily rising in young people for years and according to the WHO, self-harm is the third leading cause of death for people aged 15 – 19. That’s horrific.

What, as a parent, are you meant to do?

So I bought a book this week by Harriet Shugarman (aka ClimateMama) called How to Talk to Your Kids about Climate Change, which set me off on a bit of a journey.

It didn’t start off well for me.

Right there in the preface in a big, grey box it said, ‘Let’s begin by telling our children the truth.’
I read on and discovered that telling the truth is also the first line of the ClimateMama motto. I balked at that. I’m not sure what I expected – maybe an offer to have the conversation for me, perhaps advice to pretend everything is okay? Either way, the book was clearly not heading in the direction I wanted so I went online.

It’s not all doom and gloom.

After some searching I found the recording of an online video conference from April 2020 called Climate of Emotions which involved, among others, a few young activists and a young scientist, speaker and author, Britt Wray. I figured these guys might give me an insight.

They did.

Britt spelled out clearly that telling your child not to worry about the crisis and that ‘everything will be okay’ is a form of abandonment. “That is not being honest and that is not what it means to offer support,” she said.

The honesty thing again.

That told me.

I sheepishly returned to ClimateMama’s book and she pointed out that our children already have some awareness of the crisis anyway. They’re either living it, picking up snippets from friends and teachers or, of course, absorbing things via social media. It’s therefore important to give them the facts about the impacts and causes of the crisis ourselves, in an age-appropriate way, as well as possible solutions.

This was a new one on me. At the risk of sounding stupid, it hadn’t actually occurred to me that solutions would be part of that doom-laden conversation, if ever I instigated it, yet it seems obvious now: the solutions to the crisis and actions being taken are just as real, just as factual, as the numbers of species going extinct and the rising concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere. They’re important too.

Crucial, in fact, because they provide the balance needed to prevent our young people from being utterly traumatised.

I looked for a study I remembered reading a while back, conducted by Maria Ojala on young people and the ecological crisis, and found this:

“It is important to help young people to face the climate problem and bear the negative emotions related to it … in this process one also needs to encourage young people to see positive aspects that can activate hope, a feeling that can transform worry into a constructive, motivational force. Thus hope about climate change is more than an illusion or a solace; it could also be an important path to engagement.”

Of course hope should play a part in the conversation! Why had I not taken that in before? It was, after all, not only what kept me going but what kept me in the fight. I always have Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone’s book, Active Hope, close to hand and Rebecca Solnit’s Hope in The Dark with it. Some days, hope is all there is.

ClimateMama refers to active hope as well as intrinsic hope and radical hope. There’s so much to say about these that it needs another blog post but suffice to say hope is just as important in discussions with our young people as it is in our own activism, probably more.

Honesty – sharing is caring

But what if we don’t feel hopeful ourselves?

Again, honesty.

We have to be honest with ourselves about how we are feeling. As ClimateMama says, we have to get to grips with our own grief first. We might need help with that, or perhaps just the passing of time, but when we are ready we’ll be in a better place to be present with our children.

A better place, not a perfect one, and that’s good enough. It would be unrealistic to expect ourselves to ever be fully in charge of all our feelings regarding the crisis, especially when talking to our children about them.

That’s okay.

The book reminds us that it’s healthy to share with our children how we are feeling. Not only does this give them permission to feel and voice their own feelings but it’s likely to reduce their anxiety too. Our kids are not stupid. They pick up on our emotions whether we voice them or not, just as they sense that all is not well with the world whether or not we’ve laid it out for them, (just as, on discovering out about Father Christmas my eldest must have suspected the tooth fairy wasn’t real before I confirmed it for him).

Having that uncertainty bubbling under the surface is unhelpful.

Acknowledging it helps to move forward, and we do so with our children.

We can share with them how we are dealing with the crisis, what we are learning and what actions we are taking. Not only will this comfort them, it will help them to figure all that out for themselves too.

We also can reassure them, as ClimateMama recommends, that we are working on the crisis along with many, many other people, that successes are happening all the time and that big changes have happened in the past because of movements like this working together.

Why tell them not to worry when we can help them discover actions they can take that will reduce that worry for them?

Why tell them everything will be okay when they will feel far more reassured by our honest declaration that we will never give up?

I think this is the sort of conversation I should have with my two young teens at home soon.

In fact, I think it’s the sort of conversation I’d actually like to have.

Just as soon as I’ve filled them in about Father Christmas.

By Rachael Angela

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Finance Ministers from the G20 (the 20 countries with the largest economies)  meet on 18th and 19th July 2020; they meet several times a year to help set the agenda for the annual meeting of the G20 heads of state (presidents and prime ministers). Parents from around the world have targeted these finance ministers, many of them parents themselves, and are  calling on them  to chart a green recovery from the coronavirus crisis, with their children and ours in mind. We need to remind our leaders, at every level and every step of the way that our climate emergency is here, now and  happening, we are all impacted, but some of us first and worst. Our children’s future and now, rests on the shoulders of us all, but certainly those that can “go big” like our finance ministers, must.

Parents are urging finance ministers not to fuel the climate crisis when developing and deciding on national and global economic recovery packages. We must be smart, we must be wise and we must be thoughtful on how to build stronger and better. We need our leaders to see,  demand, and create this thoughtful recovery too.

In the quotes below, parents from the US, Brazil, South Africa, UK, India and Australia, as part of Our Kids’ Climate and Parents For Future, urge recommendations that are real and lasting to address our climate emergency.  These two organizations  bring parents together worldwide to act on climate for the sake of our children.

Our ClimateMama, Harriet is honored to be including as a voice for these critical calls to action. Please share our demands to action widely.  #justrecovery #G20

Harriet Shugarman, college professor, climate activist with Climatemama and former IMF economist, New York City, NY – and mother of two young adult children (20 & 22) – said:

“Our leaders are meeting at an historic, unique and critical time in our shared and collective history. Charting a sustainable and clearly directed path forward for our planet and our children is within their grasp.  We would urge them to keep the children they know in their minds eyes as they discuss policies and make decisions. Our children’s future will be forever shaped by the recovery they choose at this defining moment.”

Xoli Fuyani from Earthchild in South Africa and a foster mother to two children aged 12, said:

“We must move away from fossil-fuelled business as usual and set the world on a better path.  In South Africa, a country with high unemployment, renewables have so much potential, and could generate jobs as well as cleaner energy.  We risk handing our children a broken world on the verge of climate chaos.  Every tonne of carbon emitted takes us closer to dangerous climate tipping points.  Our economic recovery from this dangerous pandemic must be the moment we create the world our children deserve.”

Rowan Rylie, a lawyer and mother to two girls aged two and six, and an activist from Parents for Future UK said:

“Our leaders are about to spend significant public money on charting our recovery from this brutal pandemic. This money should be an investment rather than another cost to our children’s future. It must not add to the tremendous environmental debt we are already leaving them. Investing in a green recovery will create more and better jobs for our children, both now and in the future. We urge our leaders to be bold and invest in the climate safe recovery our children need.”

Bhavreen Kandhari, an environmentalist from Parents for Future India, and parent to twin 16-year-old girls said:

“As parents we need to keep an unwavering focus on our children’s future. We demand that governments around the world invest in sectors that are climate friendly and keep our children safe.  Grow clean energy, get rivers de-silted, build rain harvesting structures, and protect trees and forests.  Countries like India must not build back collapsed economies with outdated fossil fuels like coal.”

Clara Ramos from Familias pelo Clima (Parents for Future Brazil) and a mother of two children aged 11 and nine said:

“It is essential that the Brazilian government makes concrete commitments to the environment, reverse the dismantling of the country’s environmental governance structure that took place over the past year and present a plan for a sustainable and socially just economic recovery. In the midst of this crisis, we have a unique opportunity to correct this outdated and self-destructive route that the Brazilian government has chosen. After all, we already know that no economic recovery will be sustainable unless it is green and inclusive.”

“It is also important that a movement towards green recovery does not leave any country behind. The richest countries and their multinational companies must assume their responsibility for the creation of a zero-carbon economy throughout the planet, allowing life and self-support for all, today and in the future.”

Leanne Brummel from Australian Parents for Climate Action and a mother of a teenager aged 16, said:

“We cannot build our way out of one disaster by fuelling the next. Here in Australia, we have seen the impact of the climate crisis and coronavirus this year. The bushfires forced people from their homes, coronavirus saw them confined within them. Our wildlife was burnt in the bushfires and it is feared koalas could become extinct.  In such a heart-breaking year, we need leaders with compassion and vision. Bailing out fossil fuel industries and continuing to export coal and gas will condemn children to more disasters and losses. We must keep them safe. The climate crisis has not gone away, it remains a threat to our children and their futures.”

For interviews with parents on green recovery please get in touch with Rebecca Wynn @ becky.wynn@gmail.com

  1. Our Kids’ Climate is a network of climate-parent groups from around the world, who are uniting for climate action to protect their children. It was established at the Paris Climate Talks in 2015. It represents 56 parent-led organizations from 18 countries.
  2.    Parents For Future was formed in 2019 by a network of parents inspired by Greta Thunberg and the Fridays For Future movement. There are over 130 groups in more than 27 countries worldwide working to engage adults and normalise climate activism at local, national and global levels.

 

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On June 19, 1865, Black communities in Texas finally received the news that they were free.

Juneteenth (June 19th) is a day that honors Black freedom and Black resistance, and centers Black people’s unique contribution to the struggle for justice in the U.S. This Juneteenth is a rare moment for our communities to proclaim in one voice that Black Lives Matter, and that we won’t tolerate anything less than justice for all black lives.

Talk to your kids about Juneteenth, what it stands for, why its important to acknowledge always, and especially today. Check out this  list of book recommendations from the New York Public Library system for kids, on Juneteenth.  Connect the dots for your kids between COVID19, racial injustice and the climate crisis. Ask the kids in your life to share their thoughts, concerns and hopes.

Also, together with the kids in your life, pledge to join the Poor Peoples Campaign on June 20th;  a movement to unite the 140 million poor and low-income people across this country. After you take the pledge you’ll have the chance to take a selfie to join the digital assembly and march. Then make sure to watch the livestream at 10am and 6pm EST on June 20th, and again at 6pm on June 21st.

Remind the kids in your life, that right now, uprisings are taking place in all 50 states, and more than two-thirds of Americans agree that police violence is systemic. The Movement for Black Lives is alive and vibrant.

In response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and countless other Black people who have been killed at the hands of vigilanties or law enforcement, millions have taken to the streets, with a clear and distinct call to end police violence and to defund police. Combined with COVID-19 and four years of Trumpism, Black communities are demanding: justice; accountability; a divestment from policing; and an investment in healthy, sustainable communities.

Join us on the #SixNineteen mobilization on Juneteenth weekend, June 19–21, 2020. Take action in front of the White House, in your community, or at home.

#SixNineteen
#DefendBlackLives
#BlackLivesMatter
#DefundPolice

 

Yours,

 

ClimateMama

 

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SO MUCH: So much hurt, so much anger, so much sadness, so much emotion, so much healing, so much hope?

The following is an expert from my new book:  How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change, Turning Angst into Action,  Chapter 3, pp 52-55. The chapter ends by noting that “one small section of this one chapter cannot hope to, nor does it even attempt to, do justice to a discussion on climate justice. Hopefully, it does raise questions for you. Do seek out more information and more resources so you can have thoughtful conversations with your children about how climate justice is an integral and critical part of all successful climate solutions.”

In a similar way, what I have learned and continue to learn, is that there have been and are so many resources on racism and racial justice and injustice created shared and made available in many forms – we just need to open our eyes. There are so many people to listen to and so much to learn. I hope that the following  adds to your knowledge and that you are encouraged to find more; our children are demanding answers, we must educate ourselves so we can help them learn with us. Our ClimateMama motto stands strong: Tell the truth, Actions speak louder than words, Don’t be afraid.

BOOK EXCERPT:

A just path forward, climate and environmental justice—these are words used and heard often. What do they actually mean? According to the Climate Justice Alliance, a just transition is: “a vision-led, unifying and place-based set of principles, processes and practices that build economic and political power to shift from an extractive economy to a regenerative economy. This means approaching production and consumption cycles holistically and waste free. The transition itself must be just and equitable; redressing past harms and creating new relationships of power for the future through reparations. If the process of transition is not just, the outcome will never be. A just transition describes both where we are going and how we get there.”

Climate justice connects environmental justice—including the right to clean air, clean water, a health environment and food security—to human rights. It recognizes institutionalized and historical injustices that perpetuate and exacerbate poverty through global—national, regional and local—actions that have local implications. Our climate emergency is not color blind, nor is it an equal opportunity crisis.

Just as Black Lives Matter is not the same as All Lives Matter, the impacts of the climate crisis, and the need to ensure a just transition remains critical to our ability to successfully address the crisis at hand. Yes, climate change is happening all around us and impacting us all. Yet, those who can afford to protect themselves from the direct impacts of our growing crisis are still often able to and for the most part, do so. Those that can’t, are already—and, often, deeply—reeling and suffering the consequences.

Why is it that in the United States of America, African Americans are almost three times more  likely to die from asthma-related causes than white Americans? Could there be a correlation between the fact that the vast majority of air-polluting infrastructure, such as power plants, cement and chemical processing plants and incinerators, are more likely to be sited in low income neighborhoods that have historically not been able to gather the community support or the political attention to stop their construction? In fact, a 2016 study by the University of Michigan found that hazardous waste sites are often built in neighborhoods where whites have already been moving out, and poor minority residents have been moving in, for a decade or two before the project arrived. This follows on the seminal 2007 report, “Toxic Waste and Race at Twenty” that found that more than half of all the people in the United States living within two miles of a hazardous waste site, were people of color.

So, as we talk about a range of climate solutions, about jobs in the new green economy, and about infrastructure and public transportation, who gets those jobs and where that new infrastructure is to be built needs careful consideration, thought and planning. As the economic gulf between rich and poor is exacerbated, how we work to close this gap as we build a new and hopeful future, one that isn’t built on resource-extractive, polluting industries, will be key to helping everyone participate and benefit in this new future.

How, too, do our moral and ethical responsibilities stack up with the practical implications of the growing and destructive impacts multiplying over there? Where actually is over there? We must open our eyes to the reality that over there is just as likely to be across town or down the block than it is to be in a country across the ocean. A big question to ponder is, are we willing and able to reconcile the importance of addressing climate justice, along each step of our journey?

The impartiality of the climate crisis will only grow stronger, yet the fact remains that many black, brown and low income communities are the ones that are the least resilient, those least responsible for our climate crisis, and those hit first and worst. These communities cannot easily pick up the pieces.  Maybe they can’t do it at all. Many families in Puerto Rico and in parts of Texas and in Florida are still reeling from Hurricane Maria’s 2017 destructive forces; recovery isn’t equal or just. When a tragic fire struck Notre Dame Cathedral in 2019, billions of dollars were committed to help rebuild it within days of the tragedy. Yet, when Mozambique was struck with devastating cyclones, leaving hundreds of thousands homeless and without food or water, also in 2019, many around the world watched, and most looked away. Resources commensurate with the disaster at hand were not given or even promised. Why?

This reality plays out across the United States on a regular basis. Louisiana, Puerto Rico, Florida, Nebraska, North Carolina and other parts of the US south and Midwest continue to be hit harder and harder with each passing climate-exacerbated disaster. Yet we continue to hide the impacts of climate disasters in North America, even as people suffer daily and recover more slowly, if at all. Conveniently, media attention comes and goes quickly. Building the resiliency needed to protect from our coming storms also isn’t being done in a just manner, even as it is beginning to be put in place in wealthier communities and cities.

All over the African continent, in the Middle East and in Central and South America, if we open our eyes, we can see that climate-induced famines, droughts and wars have created situations in which people are regularly—and with increasing frequency—displaced from their homes. Daily, people are starving; they are living in war-torn areas, often without access to clean water, health care or safe havens. We must remember and remind our children that focusing our lens through justice demands that there be no sacrifice.

Each of us deserves to be treated with dignity, respect and care. This isn’t, however, the world we live in. Our world is unjust, unfair and unequal—and it is becoming more so. Being born into a certain zip code, town or country shouldn’t define your chance at an education or your job success, nor should it be a marker of your ability to be able to be resilient in the face of our climate crisis. However, where you are born more often than not does define these outcomes, in disproportionate, unfair, and unjust ways.

————

What can you do today?

Join:  The Poor Peoples Campaign

Give: A criminal justice expert’s guide to donating effectively right now, VOX article by Dylan Matthews, June 9, 2020

VOTE Make sure you are registered and encourage others to do so too. Turn out for Tomorrow Campaign, Climate Reality Project.

Yours,

Climate Mama

Photo Credits:

#1 Sorry is Not Enough, Mitchell Luo on Unsplash

#2 Youth #BlackLivesMatter Photo by James Eades on Unsplash

#3 Teach Your Children Well Photo by Taylor Simpson on Unsplash

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“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”
― Elie Wiesel

As the United States convulses –  as ugliness, hate and frustration boil over and as waves of sadness, anger and protest erupt around our country over the senseless killing of George Floyd, yet another unarmed black man killed by a police officer –  our children are watching. As parents, our broad responsibilities are to protect our children, to help them make sense of the madness, the fear, the unknown and to bring clarity and calm to the questions they ask us. But what if we cannot reconcile for ourselves what is happening or see a clear path forward? What if we are as angry, as saddened and as frustrated as our children tell us they are? Being a parent is a delicate dance, preparing and at the same time protecting our children. Sometimes it feels like we will never learn the correct dance steps.

As I have shared in my new book, How to Talk to Your Kids about Climate Change, Turning Angst into Action, we must always begin by telling the truth. I try hard to listen deeply to the lifelong stories and struggles of black, brown and indigenous colleagues and friends. I try hard to  truly hear the frustrations, the strong words and the heartfelt calls for all of us who are able to, to speak out and yet to also constantly look inward so as to  understand our own built in prejudices. I try hard to understand my  own place of privilege –  my own blind spots, my own fears, and then to reconcile these with the importance of showing love, showing up, and of creating active hope through my own actions. Am I trying hard enough? I can try harder. I must.

I have wept as I have read the heart wrenching stories from mothers and fathers of beautiful black, brown and indigenous boys and girls; parents who worry each day – beginning from the day of their children’s birth – about the added hardships and injustices their beautiful children will face, solely because of the color of their skin.

I recently re-read an article by Lori Larkin Hutcherson, from October 2017, where she states:  “…… nobody is mad at you for being white. Nobody. Just like nobody should be mad at me for being black. Or female. Or whatever. But what IS being asked of you is to acknowledge that white privilege DOES exist and not only to treat people of races that differ from yours “with respect and humor,” but also to stand up for fair treatment and justice, not to let “jokes” or “off-color” comments by friends, co-workers, or family slide by without challenge, and to continually make an effort to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, so we may all cherish and respect our unique and special contributions to society as much as we do our common ground.”

I remind myself regularly: SILENCE = BETRAYAL

In a May 30th article in the Guardian, Reverend Barber II, founder of Moral Mondays and  co-chair of the Poor Peoples Campaign reminds us: “If we take time to listen to this nation’s wounds, they tell us where to look for hope. The hope is in the mourning…The hope is in the very thing that makes us want to rush from this place.”  He continues by stating that, “It is only if these screams and tears and protests shake the very conscience of this nation …until there is really political and judicial repentance, can we hope for a better society on the other side of this.

Connections abound, systemic racism and poverty exist everywhere across America. People of color are disproportionately being impacted by COVID19, by our climate emergency and by racial injustices. These facts are clear and evident.

Let’s listen and hear, we must bear witness to what is happening; as painful as it may be, we must keep our eyes wide open. We must continue to speak out when the hashtags fades, when the world is gripped by its next upheaval that removes the current one from the front pages of our lives. We must stay the course. It feels like we all can’t breathe. It feels too much. But for those of us that can continue to show how the dots are connected, we must. We must remind our children and ourselves, there is no climate justice without racial justice. It is and will be hard work, but we can’t be successful in slowing the climate crisis unless we bring everyone along with us. We need to take a hard look in the mirror, recognize there is complicated work to do, but that we each can be part of changing the current system and creating a better tomorrow for all of our children.

As I share in my book, acknowledging the truth about our climate emergency is accepting the uncomfortable reality that there is no linear path for making it less worse, nor for solving it in its entirety. In a connected way, there is no linear path forward on racism. Given this, there is plenty of room for us all to be involved  from different places of knowledge, of understanding and of ability. The thing that is the same, is that we all can jump in and be part of change. For me, the protests around the country remind me how important it is now and how incredibly important it will be come November, for us to strengthen and protect our democratic systems;  these systems have been hard fought for, and today have large cracks – they are showing signs not only of wear, but of breakage. We must ensure that people everywhere in the USA have the right, the ability, and the tools to vote.

For me, it seems clear that over the past four years, fuel has been added to the fires of  division and racism in the USA, this fuel now comes from the highest office in the land.  Just as some of us excuse our fathers, aunties or siblings when they express racist or prejudicial comments or jokes, much of the country has made excuses for Donald Trump and his divisive comments and his inciting of hate. But Trump is not your beloved uncle; he was elected as president of the country and expected to lead all people in this country, not just the ones he decides he wants to lead. He has allowed hate to fester and to grow. Other elected officials, by their silence, have perpetrated betrayal and advanced racism and hate. Too many people in positions of power have turned away; ignoring what is happening in this country.  Just as we strive to remove  partisanship, as we demand action on climate, we must make clear that all people – regardless of political party – stand together against divisiveness, racism and hate – partisanship has no place.

With love,

 

Climate Mama

 

Black Lives Matter Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

 

 

 

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In  late fall 2019, I met with an author of a book on the climate crisis to get his advice on marketing, outreach and the like. He was kind and helpful.  One of my strongest memories and takeaways from that day – shared in jest at the time –  was his advice  NOT to launch the book during a worldwide upheaval. (His book was released the week after the 2016 US elections).

Well, here we are; a global pandemic of unimaginable proportions has unfolded around us, and my book, How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change, Turning Angst into Action, is coming out pretty much on schedule the week of May 10th. I hope with all my being that a month from now our country and the world will be celebrating a slow but steady reemergence from our global lockdown – one that is thoughtful, safe, coordinated and puts sustainability and climate recovery at the center. I hope that good news stories will be the stories of the day, instead of the downbeat and sadness that most stories still  carry. But I also know that so many of us will continue to be directly impacted by,  and experience collateral damage from, this crisis for a long time to come. With COVID 19 & with our climate crisis, letting go of what we can’t control and digging in on what we can seems to be the order of the day.

I hope that MY GOOD news today, brings you a small measure of joy; please know that your support, your help and your belief in me over the years, has in large part created this moment and made my  book launch a reality. This book is for you; it shares many of the actions we have taken – sometimes together and sometimes individually, but always supporting one another as we move forward on climate action, climate policy and climate education one step or one giant leap at a time. The book has been released from the printer and is shipping to warehouses in the United States and Canada for distribution immediately. It is also available as an e-book and it will be released soon as an audiobook. I have received my early copies so I know this is happening! I am proud to have New Society as my publisher – an activist, solutions-oriented publisher focused on publishing books for a world of change.

I will not pretend to imagine what you are feeling and experiencing. Each of us is experiencing this collective tragedy in unique and different ways. Some of us are directly impacted – through deep sadness and sickness.  Some of us are overwhelmed and feel completely stuck. Others of us are muddling through as best we can, with circumstances that may be less severe than our neighbors. I know each of you will have your own bandwidth for things outside of your immediate family and the pressures of your daily life. If you have any extra space, or the wherewithal to share the release of my book, thank you –  it would be so welcomed. Please let me know how I can help you. If you don’t, thank you anyway, and know that when it comes to this book, you –  our Climate Mamas and Papas – are my inspiration. Your steadfast support has been my bedrock for the creation and birth of this book.

All my profits from this book will go to climate education and advocacy programs for parents, youth and teachers. We will be launching this program over the summer on ClimateMama. Stay tuned, and let us know if you have some early ideas. New Society also has an affiliate program supporting organizations that are actively working for the betterment of our environment and society – if an organization you are part of wants to sell the book, let us know.

There is a climate action organizing and book club guide as well as a resource section at the end of the book. We can send you the climate action organizing and book club guide directly to get discussions going even without the book. Know that I would also be happy to talk with your book club, your group, organization or company via a dedicated “live” online discussion,  a chat box or through a recorded or written interview or Q&A. Your help in posting a review on Amazon, New Society Publishers or other sites where the book is sold would be appreciated too. The book has already received some very positive early reviews from Library Journal and Forward Reviews, trusted resources for libraries, feel free to share these reviews too. Maybe YOUR local library will purchase the book so it can be shared in your community! And finally, a reminder that many independent book stores are  experiencing great difficulties at this time. Please find yours and support them by ordering my book directly from them.

Thank you for your support, your encouragement and your trust in me over the years. Check in regularly at our new Author Page on the ClimateMama website, for author visits and talks (invite me to talk to your group!) I will be “in” Miami on May 8th and Boston on May 13th.

From one Climate Mama to another, Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother’s Day 2020 – will be one we will not easily forget.

 

 

With love,

Harriet

Mothers Day Card Photo:  by Karolina Bobek ✌ on Unsplash

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As part of our Climate Mama journey, we have been privileged and honored to meet so many amazing and inspiring Climate Mamas and Papas from all around the world. These parents are  working to raise attention to the climate emergency, advance solutions and speak truth to power at any and every opportunity; they do this for their children, and for ours as well. Maya Mailer is one of these extraordinary Climate Mamas.

Our posts this spring have focused on coronavirus coverage. We are sharing stories that compare, contrast and combine our shared and unique experiences, feelings, actions, hopes, and resiliency as they relate to both the coronavirus and climate emergencies. Do you have a story to share? Let us know.

Here is Maya’s Earth Day story, first shared on Parents For Future UK.

This Earth Day, the fight for our shared home has never been more important*

by Maya Mailer

Like so many of us, I have experienced a tumult of emotion in the face of the pandemic and lockdown at home with my young family. In this moment of collective vulnerability, we are reminded what is at stake.

The coronavirus crisis is revealing truths about the fragility of our systems, the strength of our communities and what is truly essential. Amid social distancing, countless acts of solidarity are taking root. We are finding ways to be together even though we have never been more physically distant. My ordinarily friendly, but reserved street feels transformed. We are coming together to drop off food for elderly neighbors, singing happy birthday from our front doors, organizing family-friendly ‘pub’ quizzes via zoom, and clapping together for the National Health Service (NHS).

As a parent to three energetic young kids, lockdown can be exhausting and overwhelming. My partner and I seek to reassure, entertain and educate. I miss and worry about the kids’ grandparents and wonder when I’ll next be able to give them a hug – they, in turn, are denied one of their greatest pleasures: cuddles with their little grandchildren. But I have never been more aware of our privilege or felt more fortunate.

We live on the edge of London – our local park backs onto fields and canals. Going to this expanse of green each day has made all the difference. The toddler potters barefoot through the grass, picking daisies. The older two tear around, shaking off the stir craziness.

Almost everything that made up the kids’ daily routine has stopped: no school, playdates, birthday parties, football or visits with beloved grandparents and aunties. But we still have our park. Being out in nature, seeing and smelling blossoms, hearing bird song, spotting squirrels and rabbits is about so much more than the functional activity of ‘daily exercise’. It’s continuity, catharsis, beauty. It is healing and brings quiet joy.

But as the tight spring of anxiety uncoils, feelings of guilt and uselessness are never far away. On every visit to the park, blue flashing lights speed past. While we are out savouring the spring sunshine, people are suffering. NHS medics are battling in the most testing circumstances to keep people alive. There are no words to describe the crushing sense of gratitude to those on the frontline – doctors, nurses, care-workers, porters, pharmacists, supermarket cashiers, teachers, all the key workers – risking their own health, even their lives, while we are called, rightly, to stay at home.

For us, home is a sanctuary, where we laugh, cry, squabble, shout, make up, hug and, no matter what, make a big mess. For too many women, home is prison – a place of cruelty and danger. For too many, the lockdown isn’t merely trying, it’s devastating. While I get exasperated at the endless cycle of meal and snack preparation, there are families close by that don’t have enough to eat as food poverty intensifies in the UK. I think often of a dear friend, a refugee who has been torn apart from his family by the brutal and on-going war in Syria, and now, living alone in London, is unable to see his friends. He is now preparing to volunteer to help others in greater need.

And if rich countries are struggling to cope, imagine the situation elsewhere. As a former aid-worker, I know that in too many places, things that we take for granted – clean water to wash our hands, shelter and the ability to maintain social distance – are luxuries. This crisis could spread and deepen hardship for millions of people around the world.

With the 50-year anniversary of Earth Day on 22 April, I’ve been wondering more than ever what will be left for future generations. Local campaigners are fighting to save Warren Farm, the threatened woodland beyond our park. Our children are inheriting a planet that is polluted, degraded and over-heated. We are breaking the most sacred bond we have towards the next generation: protecting their home and passing it on in a liveable condition.

And just like this pandemic, the climate emergency exacerbates inequality. We are all affected by the coronavirus. We are all experiencing climate breakdown. But some of us bear the brunt much more than others.

Climate breakdown is onion-like in its layers of complexity but at its centre is injustice. The countries that have done the least to overheat our planet are most affected by its consequences. Just 100 companies are responsible for more than 70 per cent of global carbon emissions, yet the same companies spend millions on slick advertising campaigns to deflect their culpability. It is no accident that people of colour and minorities seem to be disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus and have long been on the forefront of the climate emergency – it is the product of ingrained inequality and racism.

We cannot go back to business as usual. Over the last weeks, I’ve been talking to parents in the Our Kids’ Climate and Parents For Future global networks, who are more determined than ever to build a safer future. As a colleague in India said, ‘the dramatic, seemingly impossible reduction in deadly air pollution in Delhi is making us think long and hard about what more we can do to hold the government accountable’.

This isn’t about celebrating temporary drops in carbon emissions. It’s about glimpsing alternative realities. The pandemic is a wake-up call that we live in a physical world where catastrophe can happen. It is a reminder of our interconnectedness. It shows that our current trajectory is not inevitable.

But we need to make the case for a radical change of course. Governments are planning post-pandemic recovery deals. Powerful polluting industries are lobbying for large bail outs and deregulation. Set against this is the realisation that there is a different way: we can create new, green jobs, harness technology, build food supply chains that are resilient, unleash the creativity of community, and re-imagine business.

During these exceptional times, I’ve never felt more connected to my fellow humans, more appreciative of the natural world and more determined to fight for my kids, and all kids. It feels like something is shifting and a window for change is opening. Let us not squander the moment. This Earth Day, in lockdown, we will be more united than ever in our determination to protect our shared home. In a display of collective action, families around the world will showcase earth artwork on windows, balconies and doors – join us.

Maya Mailer is the campaign lead with Our Kids’ Climate  a lead organizer with Mothers Rise Up, a trustee with Asylum Matters and a mother of three, ages 8, 6 & 2.

Connect with Maya on twitter @ mayamailer

 

*This post is published with permission from the author, Maya Mailer. It  was first published on the Parents for Future UK website, April 21, 2020

Child in nature with mask:  Photo by Jan Kopřiva on Unsplash

Onion: Photo by Eric Prouzet on Unsplash

 

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Excerpts from How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change, Turning Angst into Action

By Harriet Shugarman Publication Date May 5th.

Order it today.

As you grow and expand your personal knowledge about the immediate crisis of COVID19,  I trust that the following will inform you. These excerpts from my upcoming book will give you ideas on talking to your children  – as we all work to navigate the rough and uncharted COVID19 waters.  Until recently, most of us hadn’t heard of a coronavirus – and if you are like me, the science around COVID19 remains very murky. Yet, as we learn more, I think that as Climate Mamas and Papas, you will find solace and help in the incredible similarities between the urgency of addressing this novel and new virus and the ways we speak about our climate crisis to our children, to our friends and to ourselves.

Below are excerpts, taken directly from my new book, How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change, Turning Angst into Action, which is available for order now and will be shipped by early May. These are direct quotes from the book. I have put into square brackets the word [Covid19] but otherwise the sentence or paragraph is as it is written in the book.  To me, and I think to you – our Climate Mamas and Papas – it is eerily similar how closely connected the ways we talk about and work through the experiences we are having with the COVID19 crisis and the ways we talk about our climate emergency. How we manage through, and how we share this information and these experiences with our kids feels more than challenging at times, yet at the same time it is  doable – we can and we must.

Excerpts from How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change, Turning Angst into Action:

Some broad advice for you 

I have found that in the midst of the sadness, the grief and the loss that climate change [COVID 19] brings, that taking time and finding ways to connect with what and who we love, can renew our passions and our hopes.

Even in the midst of the climate [COVID19] urgency we face, allow yourself to rest for a moment; remove the weight of the crisis from your shoulders. You are not alone. Take deep breaths, let go of any guilt that you may feel by letting your mind and your heart wander from the crisis for a brief time. Give yourself permission to take the time to appreciate something funny or something mundane. Our lives continue….

Hopefully the following will give you some tools, to add to your parental toolkit.  I have listed 4 examples, thoughts, and ideas for each age group.

For Children of All Ages 

  • Many of your children – like many of us – are angry, confused and frightened. Reassuring your children, when deep down you often feel a hollow pit in your stomach, causing you to wonder if indeed you can keep your promises to them, may seem impossible. So, take a deep breath and do as you tell your children to do: take it one step at time.
  • As a parent, sharing the truth about our climate  [COVID19] crisis is key, as is sharing the reality that we don’t know for sure how quickly actions can begin to help our planet to heal, once put in place. The urgency remains and is something we will live with, but it is carried on the back and in the arms of us all. The depth of your explanation on the reality of the climate [COVID19] crisis, as with many things you discuss with your child, should be geared to the age of your child, and to what you know your child can handle.
  • Over family meals or during quiet times together, chat about the actions you have seen or participated in. Use these opportunities to discuss the importance of justice, fairness, equality and equality and how interconnected and important these seemingly separate concepts are to creating climate [COVID19] solutions.
  • Finding ways to share how we are working to tackle our fears, our concerns and worries head on, will help our children tackle theirs. This will take many forms and involves as many questions as there are answers. Remember too, to ask your children what they think, and learn from them too. The wisest and most honest and direct answers often come from our children. They see things clearly; they are not yet jaded or influenced by nuances and prejudices.

Birth to Preschool

  • Children under 5, in almost all instances, are too young to even begin to comprehend the precarious world they have been born into. Upon bringing a child into the world, your immediate task is to keep them safe, well cared for, well fed and well loved.
  • Starting when they are babies, your love and concern for your children will be shared in large part almost as if through osmosis; as you talk to them, read to them and are truly present with them, they will feel your love and know deeply that you care for them.
  • As we live climate change [COVID19]  – as life itself becomes more challenging in so many ways – feeling loved and giving love take on added importance.
  • If you are a hugger, create more opportunities to give your child hugs. If you’re not, show your love through your looks, words, actions and deeds, and through time spent together. 

Preschool through elementary

  • Sometimes, words and stories create themselves. Sadly, as we live climate change [COVID19] ..its impacts will become more common occurrences in all our children’s lives, through their personal experiences or experiences of family or friends. These events will provide opportunities to discuss climate change [COVID19] directly and should be addressed in an age-appropriate way.
  • Creating a family climate [COVID19] plan or family climate [COVID19] roadmap is a great family exercise that can be expanded, adjusted and discussed…on a regular basis. Make your plan simple but straightforward; it should be a positive way to keep the climate [COVID19] conversation a part of your family’s everyday lives in a proactive way.
  • The resiliency and adaptation side is about how we can build up and protect ourselves from our unfolding climate [COVID19] crisis, and how we want to adapt our lives to deal with the changes that our climate [COVID19] emergency will inevitably bring. In all likelihood, you have a fire emergency plan and a safe place to go in a natural disaster, with emergency numbers and more.
  • As families, we must acknowledge and treat our climate [COVID19] crisis as the emergency it is. We must prepare and be prepared.

Middle school, High school and beyond 

  • As always, make sure to provide the facts and speak the truth, but encourage them to do their own research as well. Then, as they ready themselves to talk more about our climate [COVID19] crisis with their friends, they will be more aware and up to date about the science of climate change [COVID19] and, hopefully, more savvy about how to communicate in a non-partisan, open and direct way.
  • From my perspective, reminding our children through examples of kindness, even as we face our urgent reality, matters more than ever. We mustn’t’ forget, in our haste to take climate [COVID19] action, that the lessons of compassion, kindness, justice, empathy and thoughtfulness, particularly as the world seems to spin out of control, remain our parental responsibility.
  • Inertia and fear must not slow us down….We therefore need to begin imagining what the future we want looks like. We need to talk about this future and regularly share our vision for what it will look like with our children, friends, family and beyond. This will be a vision of something new, something different, something hopeful and yet something concrete – something we can build and create together.
  • For our journey to be truly successful, we must find ways to stand together for climate justice, human rights, and equality, for love and against hate. We must stand together for the full respect of science and for immediate and long-term solutions to the global crisis of climate change [COVID19].

Warmly and with love,

 

Your Climate Mama

How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change, Turning Angst into Action,  is available for order now! 

 

 

 

 

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