Saturday is give back day in the No Impact Week and the group who just did it decided their way of doing something positive would be to support local farmers by trying to sell out the Union Square farmer's market by 3PM. Join in!
Stephanie, my colleague at the No Impact Project, asked me to draw your attention to the fact that we are having a screening series of No Impact Man during Earth Week in April.
The idea is to bring people together to watch the movie--call it candy--and then to get them to take environmental action--call it saving the planet!
The program is still in the works but we're designing a complete screening action kit to help you do everything from organize the screening to catalyzing your group to meaningful environmental action in celebration of Earth Week.
Yesterday, I read about the deadlock in Congress over dealing with our deficit and I felt just sickened. I twittered:
"I've begun to think that both parties care more about institutional survival than our national and planetary survival."
This, in turn, got fed to my "status" on my Facebook page, where lots of people started commenting. Eventually, a comment came from Joseph Romm, who writes Climate Progress. Joe is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a Democratic think tank started by Bill Clinton's chief of staff, John Podesta.
Here is the comment that Joe left on my Facebook page:
"Uhh, 90% of one party want a climate bill and 90% of the other doesn't
even believe it's a problem. So how can you equate them?!"
But apparently Joe doesn't realize what it looks like to a regular citizen when a party doesn't do something meaningful about something it claims to care about.
Joe doesn't realize how demoralizing it is for the average American citizen to see federal politicians of any complexion making compromises with our planet's future ability to support us well.
He doesn't realize what it is like to hear the words "clean coal"--a term made up by the coal industry lobbyists--on the lips of the party we thought would be aggressive on climate--the Democrats.
So this is what I wrote back to him on my Facebook page:
tell you, Joe, someone who gives you hope and never lives up to the
promise feels more like a betrayer sometimes than someone who never
gave you hope in the first place.
When the Democrats actually
had a chance, when they owned the Senate, they gave us a lackluster
climate bill in the House. One might argue, therefore, since they
*believe* in climate change, that they are more culpable.
believe in it, yet they strived for what they believe is politically
possible instead of scientifically necessary. Where was the leadership
from the White House? The Democrats pandered as the bill worked its way
through the House and you know it.
not saying that individual Democrats didn't bleed to push through a
bill on climate, but as an institution, the Democratic party let us
And honestly, US performance in Copenhagen--where we held
the recent international climate talks--under Democratic leadership?
To say we shouldn't be disappointed in the Democrats
and feel that they don't put the people first and haven't acted as
leaders on this issue because the Republicans would have done worse is
I really respect your work, Joe. I take a lead
on climate from you. But not on politics. You can argue with me, but
you're a party insider. I am a voter who is passionate about saving
this planet's ability support us well. And I am disappointed by the
You can't in good conscience tell me I'm wrong on this because you know I'm right.
the reason it is important to say this out loud is because--while I
will continue to vote for the party with the best climate policy and
suggest others do the same--I also know that we the people have to find
a way to move beyond passive dependence on corporatized federal
The people have to take charge. We have to change
our lives, change our business, change our city governments, change our
state governments, change our culture.
We have to work together
to find and implement a way to have better and happier lives that use
fewer planetary resources. We know now that even a blue flush in the
House, Senate and White House won't do the trick.
We need to
use politics but move way beyond it at the same time. And for a party
insider like you to say otherwise would only prove my point.
And that is why I say that I think the parties care more about their institutional survival than about the people or the planet.
I'm sorry to go on, but the politics of Washington are defunct. The Democratic politicians want to beat the Republicans. The Republican ones want to beat the Democratic ones. They are, like the rest of us, scared for their jobs!
But the American people? We just want to get along with each other and solve problems. We want happy lives and to be kind to our neighbors. We want leaders who care about us more than their own careers.
I'm sorry. I say this as no one special. I'm just another voter. But as another voter, I have to say the politicians of the United States are letting us down.
The good news is that we're better than that. So how do we, the people take charge of our country, fill it with the love we have in hearts and take care of ourselves, each other and the whole world in a way we can be proud of?
A long time ago, someone wrote to me and asked me what I would do if I was wrong about climate change? I answered him like this.
Just the other day someone else wrote to me. He went on about liberals and how they complain and a bunch of other things he doesn't like about them. Then he said:
"But you're right about one thing. We need to take care of our planet. I don't even know if I believe in global warming. But the thing is, if it doesn't exist, it's even more important that we take care of the place we live."
Because we're going to have to live here for a long time.
It's cheap, easy, nutritional and you can do it even if you have no access to other forms of local food. Isabella, my little girl, loves sprouting because she gets to grow sprouts herself and then eats them by the handful.
Start with lentils.
Take a cup or so. Put them in a bowl. Rinse them several times. Drain them but make sure they're still moist.
Next day, rinse them a couple of times and drain them so their moist. Don't let them ever dry out.
After about three days, they're sprouted and you can eat them by the handful.
If there is a Grand Designer or a Universal Intelligence who made this world, it makes sense to me that He, She or It designed the place so that the interests of human beings and the interests of the rest of Creation work in harmony. Let's face it, a Grand Designer who made a planet that put the interests of the people at odds with the rest of the world would have to be either mean or dumb!
Well, it turns out that, in food like nowhere else, the needs of humans and the needs of the planet are entirely in sync. Thanks, Grand, Munificent Designer!
To wit, in theNew York Times, Jane Brody last week wrote about the two fundamental reasons Americans and other Westerners need to change their diet:
One, as [Michael] Pollan [author, most recently, of Food Rules: An Eater's Manual] points out,
is that populations who rely on the so-called Western diet — lots of
processed foods, meat, added fat, sugar and refined grains —
“invariably suffer from high rates of the so-called Western diseases: obesity, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.” Indeed, 4 of the top 10 killers of Americans are linked to this diet...
second fact is that people who consume traditional diets, free of the
ersatz foods that line our supermarket shelves, experience these
diseases at much lower rates. And those who, for reasons of ill health
or dietary philosophy, have abandoned Western eating habits often
experience a rapid and significant improvement in their health
Brody then goes on to quote the single piece of eating advice from Pollan that would help our hearts, minds and bodies AND our planet:
“If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.”
Guess what? That is pretty much the rule for environmental eating too, as long as you add the piece about the food that came from a plant being grown locally, and seasonally. That ensures that your food is fresh, too.
All and all, it's pretty simple, right? Not necessarily easy, since some neighborhoods have many more McDonalds and KFCs than places you can buy fruit and veg, but simple.
Here are some other rules of Pollan's Brody thinks are important:
Nothing sweetened with anything
Avoid refined flour which just like sugar to the body
Cook for yourself so that you control what goes in your body
For snacks, stick to fresh and dried fruits, vegetables and nuts
Eat less, and you can afford to pay more for better foods, like
plants grown in organically enriched soil and animals that are
Eat at a table--not at a desk or in front of TV--so you actually pay attention to how much your eat
Perhaps you know that the No Impact Project, my non-profit effort, has been developing a series of programs to help people discover lifestyle adaptations that are both better for them and the planet. One of the programs is called No Impact Week. You may remember that we ran a virtual version online in collaboration with the Huffington Post.
As we say on the No Impact Project website:
The No Impact Experiment is a one-week carbon cleanse. It is a chance for you to see what a difference no-impact living can have on your quality of life. It’s not about giving up creature comforts but an opportunity for you to test whether the modern “conveniences” you take for granted are actually making you happier or just eating away at your time and money.
Well, now we're developing an in-person, live, community version of the No Impact Week, where participants, who live in the same area, meet every day during the No Impact Week for workshops and other shared learning experiences.
We're running the beta-version of the program here in New York City starting on February 21 and are looking for about 15 people to participate. Want to join in? Write to me at noimpactman[at]gmail.com (don't forget to replace the [at] with an @). Or you can RSVP on Facebook here.
Click here Two years ago we launched the No Impact Project, a charitable effort to get new citizens engaged in the quest for a way of life that is both good for our habitat and for people. As a result, people around the world are getting involved and making an effort. Please click on the link to find out more and to financially support our efforts.