Categories
Climate Education Local Government

Another day, another oil spill

From the Pandora Papers to Facebook and Instagram being down for a number of hours, you may have missed the fact that there’s an oil spill off the California coast. Honestly, news like this mostly gets washed over now days. Oil spills, like the coronavirus, seem to be a necessary evil that we are willing to live with because we either can’t or won’t make the changes we need to stop the problems they bring.

But, there was an oil spill, and it is a big problem.

So let’s talk about it.

On Saturday, a pipe owned by Amplify Energy (based in Houston) somehow failed. What resulted was 126,000 gallons of “post production crude” to be spilled into the ocean. The company has had noncompliance violations in the past, and overall, is operating with equipment decades old. I mean, I’m not sure if you know this, but saltwater corrodes metal quickly. So, failure is not a matter of “if” it’s a matter of “when”.

Damage to wildlife

You may remember that the Pacific Coast already went through a massive heatwave that killed billions of sea creatures. This time, the oil has coated and destroyed ecosystems in a matter of days. One specific reserve impacted is the Talbert Wetlands. Aside from that, wildlife is washing up on the shores of California beaches, and there is an impact to human health as well. This is important, because people often don’t actually understand what “the ecosystem has been destroyed” means, but they do understand “can harm you or make you, personally, sick”. Which, is irritating, but the months since 2020 have really thrown human self-centeredness into sharp relief.

Ok…So What?

Look, this blog is not going to change the oil industry overnight. However, as our climate disaster worsens, and as people look towards new energy, oil is being phased out. However, I predict that spills like this will not only continue to happen, but happen more frequently. Why? Because companies are still trying to make the big money, and they are doing it with less funding and less compliance. I can’t point my finger at any specific thing, but it’s clear that companies may be willing to bend the rules to make money. Shit like “an oil spill has now killed wetlands we’ve been preserving for decades” will keep happening.

And this matters, because we need healthy ecosystems for our world to heal from everything we’ve put it through. If you’re sick, you need time to recover. With that recovery comes a host of other things, diet, sleep, vitamins, medicine. You’re not (or shouldn’t) go out and binge drink the day after you’ve left the hospital.

Except, that’s what this oil spill is. It’s just making our planet sicker than it already is, and it’s happening because of aging and outdated equipment that’s not kept up amidst a declining planet.

So what do you do? I mean, vote right? Do your best to cut back on oil products (that means plastics too my friends). To the best of your ability (I know we are all so tired) stay informed about climate issues. Why climate? Because even the coronavirus came out of human interference on animal life. All this trauma that we’ve experienced since 2020 we can tie to climate change. Honestly, it’s a privilege that some of us have been impacted by it for such a short period of time.

I’ll do another blog post on oil impacts to indigenous lands, but you can also begin educating yourself on this topic.

How do we fix this leak again?

Categories
Climate Education History

Why History Teachers Should Teach Climate Justice

I have a lot of “soap boxes” in my life. One is that history is the most important subject to learn. Another is that we as individuals, communities, nation, and as a world, must make radical changes to save our planet.

Let’s talk about the intersection.

I teach American history to 7th and 8th graders. As part of the curriculum, we delve into the colonization of the Americas, the Triangular Trade, and the enslavement of Africans. My MA is in American history, with an emphasis on colonial enslavement, so these are always some of my favorite lessons to teach. It’s also where those seeds of climate justice can begin to be planted.

Most adults know, at some level, that the colonization of the Americas was a brutal process. 90% of indigenous Americans died as a result of disease and tens of millions of Africans were enslaved and brought to the Americas. However, what’s not often talked about is how brutal colonization was on the land as well.

Turned out, the Americas were perfect for growing cash crops (rice, tobacco, indigo, sugar, cotton, among others). With the indigenous population dying from disease and enslavement, Europeans had more access to fertile land. So what did they do?

They wrecked it.

Europeans forced their enslaved labor to cut down the forests, damed up the waterways, and burned the land, why? Those money making cash crops. They wanted gold and glory, and honestly they didn’t fucking care what it did to the people or the land – as long as they could live how they thought they should live. This goes for any colonizer, by the way. Don’t at me and tell me that the Quakers didn’t like slavery. I fucking know. They still took land and made it their own.

OK…So What?

Colonization is the brutal extraction of resources from the land and the people that live on the land. Which, really, is no different than what hundreds of companies are doing now. This is why history is important and this is why history teachers should intersect their lessons with lessons about climate injustice.

You see, if students understand the motivations of European Colonizers, they’ll also recognize the motivations of oil companies that try to put pipelines on sacred land. If students understand the remaking and reshaping of land for capitalistic purposes, they’ll understand the continued destruction of the Amazon Rainforest. If students understand the enslavement of humans for profit, they’ll understand the use of migrant labor for farming and other industries.

Look, the “other side” (by which I mean the conservatives who think I teach some random version of CRT) try to control what’s taught in history exactly so that effective change is not made. So that the profits continue to roll in – gold and glory and all that. Therefore, it becomes essential to teach real history. The truth. Not a garbled and whitewashed version of it.

History has the power to create radical change makers, and all you have to do is connect the dots from the past to the present.

Probably your sister’s boyfriend’s ancestor.
Categories
Climate Education Haiku Review

Saturday Haiku Review

Activists for Earth

Are being killed at high rates.

While we turn blind eyes

Flooding will not stop

Unless we change our habits

Is that possible?

Mask-less kids roll by

Uh-oh, guess what? They have Covid

No one quarantines.

Categories
Uncategorized

Wildfires and Covid

Actual image of my city blanketed in smoke.

If you live in the west then there’s a good bet that the air outside is almost unbreathable. In my state, our air quality has been so terrible that I can’t see the mountains – which are quite literally 3 miles away from my house. The air is so terrible because of the number of wildfires burning…well…*gestures around*. I’m a runner, and in the last 30 days I’ve maybe had 3-4 green quality air days.

This isn’t anything new, I’ve already talked about the wildfires in the west. However, what you may have missed in the whirlwind of news this weekend is that wildfire smoke is linked to worsened cases of Covid.

Yep. That’s right. The air is killing me, and if I happen to catch Covid, the wildfire smoke that I’ve been breathing has the ability to make my sickness worse.

When there’s smoke in the air, especially this much smoke, you breathe in “fine particulate matter.” You may be familiar with this term, because in the rush to start school, you’re looking into masks that help filter out the “fine particles” (you know, so you don’t get Covid). A recently published study found that “on average a daily increase of 10 µg/m3 in PM2.5 each day for 28 subsequent days was associated with an 11.7 percent increase in COVID-19 cases, and an 8.4 percent increase in COVID-19 deaths.” Which, to me feels a little terrifying.

Ok…so what?

That 11.7 percent increase in Covid cases wasn’t caused by the smoke, but it did make catching Covid worse, which is important. As someone who can look out her window to see smoke…I also don’t really have a solution. You can’t do something about a fire three states away from you. You can’t really do anything about a fire in your state (except don’t be dumb and start one).

What you can do is wear a mask outside. Do you have KN-95’s? Awesome, wear them when you walk around the block. Don’t go running or do heavy exercise when the air quality is bad. Get vaccinated, wear masks to lower your risk of Covid.

But, also…be aware. If the smoke is bad outside, that means you likely have an increased risk of Covid, so do your kids, so does your community. I know it’s an old refrain, but vote. In the past two years we’ve really seen how much local elections matter. Vote for the people who will help enact policies that help ease our changing climate, that protect our communities, and protect our health.

Categories
Uncategorized

Welp…

The great thing about this picture is you can’t see the humans.

With everything going on, you may have missed the IPCC report that was recently published. If you don’t know (and you probably don’t) the IPCC stands for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. According to their website, the IPCC “is the United Nations Body for assessing the science relating to climate change.” You can check them out here.

The IPCC report has determined that climate change has been “unequivocally” caused by humans, and is impacting quite literally every “corner of the planet.” The report indicates that we are barreling toward that 1.5 degree of additional heat, that we will likely reach this level by 2030, and that we are currently on track to heat up by 3 degrees by the end of the century. In fact, to stop warming before the 1.5 degree mark is nearly impossible based on our carbon output.

So, on top of the rest of your existential dread, let me give you an idea of what this means. If we don’t do a shit ton of things (and by we I mean our governments) we’ll surupass that 1.5 degree marker, and hit 2 degrees of warming. That means, among other things, that ecosystems will disappear in 13% of the world. And, if we don’t really do anything, and we hit that 3 degrees of warming … well…that would result in “catastrophe”. That 1.5 – 2 degree range will already result in flooding, droughts, the suffocation of the oceans, famine…the list goes on. So…not super great.

Ok…So What?

To stop ourselves before absolute climate catastrophe the report states that “immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions” would need to be made to our emissions output. Additionally, the report states that “We can no longer assume that citizens of more affluent and secure countries like Canada, Germany, Japan and the US will be able to ride-out the worst excesses of a rapidly destabilizing climate.”

I’ve already written about how our forests are burning, our sea life is dying, and Climate Refugees are on the rise. This is no longer something we can turn a blind eye to.

But what can you do? I mean, let’s be honest, if you do everything in your power to reduce your carbon footprint, it will not stop the change that it coming. It will take mobilization on a massive scale to effect change. It will take everyone pulling together for a common cause, trusting in science, and finding solutions that help remove us humans from the brink of catastrophe.

We’ve seen how well we can do that since 2020….too soon?I

Especially in the midst of the pandemic where we seem to take one step forward and about 100 steps back, it’s hard to be optimistic that anything will actually change. That being said, you also can’t throw your hands up and say “well, I’m not going to make any changes to my personal behavior or habits because catastrophe is inevitable.” No, it’s not inevitable, that’s the point. We can make choices that will get us out of this, becoming complacent won’t help us create change.

So, yes, you should do everything you can do to reduce your personal carbon footprint. But, you should also vote!! VOTE IN EVERY ELECTION, LOCAL AND FEDERAL! Local elections, state elections, federal elections – who are the people in power that will enact climate policies? Vote for them.

It’s a shit solution, but it’s the one we have. Like minded people have to mobilize on a massive scale to elect politicians who will enact smart climate policies. And, we have to hold them accountable to those promises.

That’s the only way.

Categories
Uncategorized

Wobbling Moon

I used to see the way the world could be, but now the way it is is all I see…

There’s a ton going on right now. Schools are back in session with no mask mandate. Vaccinated individuals can be carriers, and the Olympics are still going (were they always this long?).

However, my current existential threat is this wobbling moon we have to worry about.

Alright, alright space nerds, don’t come for me. I’ve read the articles, I know the “wobble” isn’t anything new. I know it’s a perfectly natural phenomenon.

You know what’s not natural? Climate change.

So yeah, this wobbling of the moon, combined with rising ocean waters, will likely lead to intense flooding in the middle of the next decade. Because, as you witches know, the moon and it’s position influences the tide, and always has. It’s why the moon is so important, etherial, and mysterious. And probably why my 13 year old daughter asked if my periods tracked with the cycle of the moon. (No, they don’t).

2035 is not that far away. And yeah yeah, it seems like there are a lot of factors that will cause flooding, but the fact is that our natural cycles of life are going to impede our cycles of life because we refuse to do anything to fix the problem we created. Which, is honestly my current reality, and probably yours if you’re reading this blog.

Ok…so what?

Honestly, I don’t have a huge “ok, so what” today. I mostly just wanted to blog about how the world seems to be falling apart around me, how I am constantly baffled at the selfishness of people, and sometimes I have strange existential panic about it. I’m in a state that has banned masks in schools, where there is a lot of vaccine hesitancy, and where I’m both shamed for not wearing garments and for wearing a mask. Gaslit at every turn!

The moons wobble feels easier to focus on.