What Can We Do About Climate Change?

A report written in 1992 (reference bottom of article) provides clear insight as to what needs to be done to prevent total destruction of our environment and way of life as we know it. My take on it, for current conditions:

  • Overcome power of vested interests
  • Build strong institutions
  • Improve knowledge
  • Encourage participatory decisionmaking
  • Partnership between developing and developed countries (i.e. bridge resource gap between haves and have-nots)
  • Communicate that protecting the environment will lead to MORE wealth, not less
  • Keep working on programs that reduce poverty (i.e., provide fair opportunities to access resources)
  • Clarify property rights
  • Expand access to education, birth control, sanitation & clean water, and agriculture
POINT ZERO: Agree on a target. We need to get Atmospheric CO2 back to 350ppm. ASAP.

1) Overcome power of vested interests

Who are these powerful vested interests? In the US, money controllers in oil, coal, power-generation companies, and their paid political agents. The Chinese government and others, like the Indian government, are pressured to increase the living standards of their poor to avoid revolution. They are doing this through unchecked environmental exploitation, and the US is complicit in accepting Chinese products at their borders.

What is being done to overcome their power?

Movements such as the Federal and CA Disclose Act are trying to pass legislation that would make money ties more transparent so that voters can better elect true representatives and make more informed votes on referendums.

Nothing is *really* being done to stop the exploitation of resources.

2) Build Strong Institutions

Institutions appear to be failing, as they fall more and more into private hands. Take our universities and medical institutions: Directors are paid insane salaries, bigger and better buildings are built, costs are going up to users exponentially, and less and less value is provided to those who need to use or work in the institutions. We are not getting smarter or healthier in the “old style” of institutions.

New institutions will come from actually creating value for users and workers. This is in infant stages around the country. I think of coworking places like HUB, and local wellness office collaborations and cooperative businesses.

New institutions will need to meet the needs of a mobile workforce, a greater % of poor people, etc.

3) Improve Knowledge

It’s hard to know where to go to find trusted knowledge, with the internet available to us today. Education projects like Coursera are extremely important in passing on information. There are no more trusted centers for information. We seek out experts on our own time, scrutinize them and trust what they say, and who our social networks refer us to. We use review systems like Yelp to help build a trust base for information sources.

4) Encourage Participatory Decision-Making

After moving to California from Montana, I was amazed at how many initiatives/propositions Californians were asked to vote about in local and state elections. Montana is now catching up, from what I hear. But we must find a balance between what the people can vote on and get educated about, and what our elected representatives should do, even nationally. I think when America was founded, it was necessary to send a representative to the White House because we could not instantaneously communicate with the people he would be meeting with nor be informed of all the issues they were considering. We trusted someone to take our issues into consideration. We live in a different world now, and we need to be more individually empowered in decisions of national and social importance. What is being done about this? I don’t know.

Let’s do something!!

5) Partnership between developed and developing countries

Obama has done a lot to improve our relations with the rest of the world. To be honest, this is the main reason I campaigned for his election and re-election. This is so important to keep improving relations at this point in time, no matter what else he has or hasn’t accomplished, it has been worth it to me just for this.

Unfortunately, no one in a position of power is demonstrating the balls/courage right now to step up as a world leader to change their  country’s economic policies enough to discourage carbon use at the rate we need to, to avoid mass poverty, chaos, and destruction on a larger global scale.

We are being told that change on this issue will come from the ground up. That is, developing countries, and those NOT in power will need to initiate change/partnership.

Those with the most to lose may have to band together to be their own heroes this time.

6) Communicate that the right environmental policies will create MORE wealth, not less

I’ve seen smatterings of this, but it needs to be more widely shoved into social media collective mind. How does changing our policies make us BETTER OFF FINANCIALLY?!?

Clean up the messaging and get it out.

7) Keep expanding programs to reduce poverty

This is helping (For example, I was able to escape poverty by means of social programs, BUT the best economic decision available for me out of college was to jump into an oil company). Where are the economic opportunities in things that do not destroy our environment? Yes, keep giving poor kids like me a hand-up. But give us a hand-up into something meaningful and helpful.

Economic advantages (subsidies, tax breaks) for oil companies must be taken away and given to cleaner fuels.

This became really unpopular after it was revealed that  a giant solar company failed with public money authorized by Obama. This is really stupid and underscores the public’s ignorance about entrepreneurship and technology development. THERE WILL BE FAILURE BEFORE THERE WILL BE SUCCESS. WE HAVE TO PAY FOR FAILURE TO GET TO SUCCESS. How many billions of dollars do we waste on worthless failed medical drug research each year, while nobody complains too much about the $600/month the state of California pays health institutions on behalf of EACH OF ITS EMPLOYEES for “health care”, 20-25% of which probably goes to subsidize such failed research. Money motivates ingenuity. Throw a billion-dollar X-Prize at Carbon Alternatives and see what we get, in a very short amount of time.

The public needs to be educated on what developing new technologies will cost them and what they will gain.

8) Clarify property rights

Poverty is forcing the hands of countrymen around the world and property is being whored out to the highest bidder. Countries are giving up their food and water rights along with their property. This is going to result in violence down the road. Buyers and sellers need to learn to relate to each other with some decency and foresight. Who is entitled to what property?

This seems like a government policy thing. Lobby for policy change, or demand property rights at a grassroots level.

9) Expand access to education, birth control, sanitation & clean water, and agriculture

I believe that traditional college learning is going by the wayside. People are getting priced and sized-out. Crowd-sourcing of education (again, Coursera is a pioneer in this, online telesummits, etc.) will be what will truly expand access to education. 30,000 people took a free course I signed up for last summer. This is “access to education” on a meaningful scale.

Even the extremist groups in the US keep threatening to shut down access to services like Planned Parenthood, etc. This is retarded and thankfully Americans see the need. Donate to keep these clinics open if you can. They are really wonderful places, from personal experience.

Sanitation and clean water goes hand-in-hand with poverty. Pollution plays a (small?) part too.

Agriculture seems to be going the way of decentralizing as a trend. People realize how risky it is to depend on megacrops thousands of miles away, and depend on the chaos of centralized, privatized success of megacrops (which comes with side-effects of pollution and greed and speculation profit) and the chaos of failure (which comes with disease and price hikes). Crops are going more local as a trend, but this needs to be done faster.


Inspired by:

“The World Development Report 1992, “Development and the Environment,” discusses the possible effects of the expected dramatic growth in the world’s population, industrial output, use of energy, and demand for food. Under current practices, the result could be appalling environmental conditions in both urban and rural areas. The World Development Report presents an alternative, albeit more difficult, path – one that, if taken, would allow future generations to witness improved environmental conditions accompanied by rapid economic development and the virtual eradication of widespread poverty. Choosing this path will require that both industrial and developing countries seize the current moment of opportunity to reform policies, institutions, and aid programs. A two-fold strategy is required.

* First, take advantage of the positive links between economic efficiency, income growth, and protection of the environment. This calls for accelerating programs for reducing poverty, removing distortions that encourage the economically inefficient and environmentally damaging use of natural resources, clarifying property rights, expanding programs for education (especially for girls), family planning services, sanitation and clean water, and agricultural extension, credit and research.

* Second, break the negative links between economic activity and the environment. Certain targeted measures, described in the Report, can bring dramatic improvements in environmental quality at modest cost in investment and economic efficiency. To implement them will require overcoming the power of vested interests, building strong institutions, improving knowledge, encouraging participatory decisionmaking, and building a partnership of cooperation between industrial and developing countries.”



And of course: An Inconvenient Truth (2006)

Beyond Human

Back again, as though I never left
Still does not compute
Begs a new definition
Is it this?
Is it that?

Why can’t it just be a European romance
No plans and no promises
Things work out so beautifully and perfectly
And you just dance
Until the song ends
Then you part when it stops working
Unceremoniously as it began
And thank God that you had what you had

While someone watching the movie version cries
For things that aren’t forever
And things that aren’t perfect
And things that aren’t safe
Wishing to be,
Beyond human.

Latest Climate Change Data

These are my notes from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory talk last night (prone to errors of interpretation):

The latest intergovernmental climate report will be coming out in January 2014.

2012 was the hottest year on record.

CO2 emissions were steady at 270 ppm before the steam engine. Now they are over 350ppm, haven’t been that high since 3 million years ago. We are on track for 750ppm, haven’t seen that for 34 million years, when Antarctica was created.

Clear link between atmospheric CO2 and temperature rise.

Emissions are 56% higher today than in 1991. Rio Earth Summit held in 1992. Kyoto Protocol in 1997. 2013 was the 18th meeting of parties to discuss climate change. Action is not being taken.

Historical emissions have committed us to warming consequences 25 years out. Effects from changes made now will be seen after year 2035.

California has pleged to not raise its emissions through 2020 as of legislation in effect January 2013, and an order by Schwarzenegger would reduce emissions by 80% in CA by 2020.

Warming planet raises deadly storm frequency and severity, increases both floods and droughts, increase fire danger risk, insect and pathogen outbreaks. As planet warms, permafrost thaw releases even more carbon as organic decomposition takes off. This is not accounted for in climate models, and raises carbon by as much as 20 percent.

Deadly weather, costing dozens of thousands of deaths, has been seen in Europe 2003, Russia 2010, Texas 2011.

50% carbon stays in atmosphere, 25% absorbed by forests, and 25% absorbed by oceans. Oceans are becoming more acidic, which destroys shells of sea creatures and coral reef habitats. Trees are keeping up with their share of absorption, but at what cost?

320 million trees killed in Katrina storm, equal to the net gain in US forests annually.

Climate ecnomist suggests taxing use of carbon minimum $20/ton (some suggest $100/ton) to encourage consumers to leave carbon in the ground and develop smarter alternatives. Get top 20 countries to agree to tax carbon for its real cost.

The top two emitters of CO2 are US and China. China’s coal alone is equal to our total emissions (we export some coal to China).

Geoengineering to cool the planet is like applying a 3,000 year bandaid. Need to leave the carbon in the ground.

There is 4 times more carbon in oil/coal reserves than our trees can soak up. More trees is not the answer.

The risks to our food supply are serious. Crops are growing in ideal conditions. Temp rise as little as 2 degrees can impact yields. Temp is projected to rise as much as 15 degrees with no action taken against carbon.

“If we don’t do something, the major export from some of these hungry countries will be violence.”


For more information, check out Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, or UCTV, where you may find links to a video of the talk with climate scientists.

Lover Diaries

23 year-olds are like puppies: Have to train them and say no to them all the time, but hard cuz they’re so cute and full of energy.

Love that someones calls me “Charlene” and says stuff like, “We’re going to Costa Rica, Charlene.”

Probably had fair warning: “I piss off all the women I date so, no, I don’t have stalkers.” And, nearly every story ending with, “and then they said, ‘You’re an asshole!'”

“I can’t go back to the Mission, people want to kill me there. I’m moving to Portland for a while.”

“All my exes live in the Mission.”

So…I guess I’m finally to that age where you start asking men if they wanna make frozen embryos with you…

Generosity and Welfare

Got the sweetest birthday gift today from our old Ukranian coach that volunteers at SFSU…he was so upset yesterday that he hadn’t known it was my birthday and promised to bring me a gift the next day, despite my objections. A pink, wrapped box of Ukranian hazelnut cognac chocolates, and a birthday card which reads: “Like a great wine, we get better as we get older! Inside: Or rather, as we get older, we feel better with lots of great wine!” And a few servings of his delicious homemade tea, with wild mini strawberries, lemon, strong black Georgian tea, and a touch of cognac. What a perfect and thoughtful gift. I think he receives something like $300/month and wants to earn a bit more, in your seventies with a language barrier in a tech town this is no small challenge. Such a generous heart, it does make you believe in welfare, seriously. What kind of creativity and opportunities can there be for someone in that position? Someone who has lost his wife, has had surgeries, etc., and volunteers his time to keep coaching (and had a runner-up national champion high jumper this winter for State).

Stealing and Rescuing (LML)

I had a most interesting weekend full of stealing, rescuing, and interactions with people and animals.

My St. Patrick’s Day lover came over Friday night as I was drifting off to sleep for my early-rise weekend. I had gone to bed early. I had been meaning to break it off with him, so when I sleepily heard him call my name from outside after I failed to answer the door, I dragged myself out of bed to bring him the nearly-empty tequila bottle he had left at my house, and have a little chat on the front porch. He was halfway through a clear bottle of a Miller Genuine Draft and looked mischievous, as usual, and said he had brought me a present of Kombucha, that he, then, bewilderingly failed to produce from his grocery bag. For being so cute, fun, and charming, he is really just far too young, with work and moral standards leaving much to be desired. Having just revealed to me he had stolen some batteries from Whole Foods for his voice recorder (he couldn’t afford them), and was now in need of a cell phone charger, batting his eyes, I wished him good luck and blew him a hand-kiss, and silently scolded myself for, once again, taking a relationship too far out of sheer curiosity (for, in this case, magic, timing, and novelty). You’ll have to trust me on the upsides to this one, which I won’t go into right now.

Perhaps it was some kind of leprechaun revenge karma then that I got my cell phone and charger stolen three hours away at Chico State University the following day. I left it charging in what I thought was a great spot free from wandering eyes and sticky fingers for a couple hours. Nope. And the kicker was that I had left it just inside what appeared to be a locked batting cage. When I jogged by it briefly an hour in, I noticed people inside. They had just popped a ball out, and asked me to throw it back. I retrieved it for them on my way back, not remembering to check on my phone. I realized later it was most likely them who took the phone. I doubt anyone else would have noticed it. Buggers.


I went to warn a couple groups of people that they were in the travel path of the hammer throw. I have seen someone get hit with a hammer (an 8.8-pound steel ball) at 180 feet out and it is not pretty. A lot of people will falsely assume they are “safe” along the sidelines of a hammer throw competition, even turning their backs, and I know better now. While I was warning this couple I noticed they had the cutest 8-week-old black and white puppy under a blanket, and I got to pet him a few times. They said he had been rescued and turned into a shelter after someone found 7 puppies in a tupperware container on the side of the road. He was already such a loyal pup to his owner, who said they had had him for only one day. He kept crawling into the shade of his owner’s body to get out of the midday sun and falling hard asleep.

Later, I found myself under a tree at the track, and little branches started falling on my head. I look up, and a bird is furiously tearing off little six-inch branches and throwing them down toward me. The bird then seems to find a multi-spoked branch she likes, and flies away, carrying it off in her beak somewhere. Some time later, the bird has made a couple of trips, and I’m sitting on a chair under the same tree and I see a bright green caterpillar drop into the busy footpath. I quickly “rescue” him and take some time letting him crawl on my hand and admiring him before finding him a good branch to live on while he “gets his wings”. Got a few cute shots.

Cute Face

Caterpillar’s New Home

I drove semi-cross-eyed from fatigue back from Chico to San Francisco in the team van, arriving close to 1 a.m. It’s too late to catch the BART, and I decide not to just show up and crash at my old house on the couch in San Francisco like a bum, and instead, take, for the first time, the late night bus back to Berkeley. I already know this will be a minimum 1-hour trip. Thankfully I get a ride to the pickup point, where a different bus pulls up 10 minutes later with a man in it wearing REALLY thick, weirdly misshapen, almost triangular wedge-shaped, eye glasses, thicker in the middle, that appear cracked, foggy, and pointless to the point of being comical. His hair is a little Einsteinian and he is trying to chat up the bus driver, teasing and taking his time, and the driver seems slightly annoyed. It turns from comical to deep as the man gets off the bus with no small frustration and two walking sticks with balls on the ends, and I realize this man is more blind than crazy. It’s nice how, just when you think your life is giving you lemons, someone like this shows up and makes you go, yeah – my problems? Not so bad after all. He asks for help, says his balance is not good, and I help him traverse the island and get across the road to try to find his next bus. He says he’s from LA, and as we pass a sewer manhole he starts going off about how bad the San Francisco sewers smell. Like diapers. And he’s right. Sewers here are particularly repulsive. He says I guess that’s how you know you’re in San Francisco, the sewers smell of diapers, unlike sewers in other cities, he says.

At 1:47am my bus arrives, and I have to leave the blind man alone to depend on another stranger or else I risk waiting 30 minutes for the next bus. I wish him luck and board amidst a cast full of characters. Half an hour in, somewhere in Oakland, a thin young black man gets on and sits next to me. He smells thickly of alcohol and weed, and his music is rapping in his headphones. Ten minutes goes by and he falls fast asleep, leaning toward me, and his head falling notch by notch finally onto my shoulder, where it comes to rest heavily as he knocks out. I decided to just let him rest there. It makes me feel a bit maternal. He has a cute short afro and he has no idea he is leaning so heavily on me right now. Unsure of whether to wake him so he doesn’t miss whatever stop is his, I finally wake him gently after about 10 minutes, a few stops before I have to get off. He smiles apologetically, mostly sleepily, realizing he had probably trespassed my space, but not knowing to what extent, and keeps an upright posture the remaining time.

A nice lady originally from New Jersey sits across from us with her husband, they both appear a little tipsy. They transferred seats after they noticed a noxious odor coming from a rather short and round woman with a small head, her hair wrapped up in a dirty wrap, who after pacing the aisles, decides to sit in front of them. The New Jersey woman has beautiful, loving and sparkling eyes, and a strikingly misshapen mouth where parts of the jaw don’t line up and teeth are missing or not aligned.  She chats me up about being from Montana, and she likes my earrings my friend U made. We talk about family and the pace of life in California versus the east coast (the reason she moved out here). She tells me to be safe as I leave the bus to walk home.

It was actually kind of nice to bump into so many “others” this weekend and have some good exchanges. LML

PS – I got to pet a huge iguana today, named Skippy. He was strapped to his owner’s back, riding on a bicycle down Valencia street during Sunday Streets. Couldn’t get a picture as my memory card went with my stolen cell phone yesterday :-)

Starting Over at 33

I visited Harbin Hot Springs last weekend to “celebrate” my upcoming birthday 4/16. My original plan, conceived 6 months ago, was to take one of those open top tour buses around San Francisco like a tourist, then go out for dinner. I like the idea of treating your city like you don’t live there, sometimes it helps you appreciate it more. This might have been a good time, but somehow, at the last minute, a weekend free from track meet competitions opened up and I decided to cancel my bus celebration and do something that felt way more awesome: get out of town to the country, camp, and soak naked in some hot water out in the fresh air for a weekend.

I’m glad I went. It was perfectly relaxing and lovely. They also sell my favorite chocolate there: Sacred Steve’s Sacred Chocolate – and my friend N. picked out my favorite bar, by coincidence (The Amazonian) to give me for a birthday present.

While I was there, I had a few minutes to read from a book I’ve had a while on organization. I got a couple good ideas (choose my clothes in advance! pack lunches in advance! sort incoming files by “To Do, To Pay, To Read, To File”, etc.). So I was feeling good about coming home and getting more organized. I even chose three pet projects to start working on.

It’s just that….

The teacher/coach who knew me best in high school said something like, “She has a lot of interests and talents and it may take her a while to find her niche in life.” I didn’t understand what he meant at the time, but those words came back to me today as I struggled to put my finger on how to spend my time at the moment.

I think I’m learning a few things about myself:

1) I lead best by doing. I need to be doing what I am teaching. I enjoy teaching after someone asks me a question, or asks me to teach. It’s important to me that someone is hungry for information.

2) While I can initiate activity, I prefer to be attracted into an activity. I think of the friends I had in grade school and high school. I like going along with someone else’s good idea and making it even better.

3) I enjoy creating systems and organizing information and objects.

4) I need to write more.

5) I like starting businesses, but only when I’m truly compelled by the passion of the idea. And even that has led me astray in recent months (passion), so not sure I can trust that as a guide anymore either.

6) I love politics, specifically the discussing of ideas about how to make our lives better and how to make our communities and businesses more aligned with our values. I don’t understand my place in politics however. I do not enjoy lobbying, nor do I have any current affiliation (though I am leaning Green Party), nor do I even have community.

So it really feels like I am “starting over” at 33. Mentally, I feel like I did after graduating high school: looking around for clues as to what to do next.

One of my inner voices is saying: “Stop mulling over it and just get three jobs already like a responsible adult would and pay off your debts.”

One of my other inner voices is saying: “You can’t have the lifestyle you dream of if you continue short-term thinking and take shit jobs that take your time, energy, and creativity away from other more amazing opportunities.”

And I’m not sure which one to listen to. I’m inclined to listen to the second voice because I’ve spent my whole life listening to the first voice. I guess that’s why I’m dragging on my painful indecisiveness so long, and torturing myself with the financial and emotional uncertainty that accompanies inaction.

I’m ready for a wealthy, healthy, thriving phase of life, and I want to make choices in line with that desire.

Pressure and the use of Force

When life starts squeezing you
Uncomfortably tight
The pressure builds
I don’t wanna start a business
I hate that word
I wanna be an artist
I wanna invite love and good things
I wanna start in the flow
No more forcing
No more
Stop forcing me
Stop striving
Stop breathing down my neck
You snake

Not a Party

It’s a beautiful day
And everyone’s depressed
We’re in transition
So over this year
Itching to move on
Something’s not right
It’s a little too hot
Conditions not right
Done helping
Stop fucking asking
Start taking
Start empowering yourself
Once everyone wakes up
It’s gonna be one hell of a party.
One third through one hundred years.
About time I woke up.