Climate Ideas

Videos I love

Trying out sharing links to videos that really speak to me. The first one is just so perfect about the importance of story telling in the climate crisis.

Green Girl Talk

It’s official! Our podcast ‘Green Girl Talk’ launched this winter and episodes are available on SoundCloud and iTunes. Our goal is to have regular mother-daughter conversations about climate change. In the first three episodes we talk about two celebrities, Woody Harrelson and Ian Somerhalder, a movie, ‘2012’ a documentary series called ‘Years of Living Dangerously’ and food. We will post a new podcast every Monday ( I hope).

Climate Talk

I hope that it was a happy holiday season for you. We celebrated Hanukah, Christmas, New Year’s and my birthday. With so much that is heavy in the world any excuse to celebrate is a good one. I was thrilled to receive so many gifts this holiday season that were exactly what I wanted most, the gift of time. The gift of a long walk with my mother and a promise for one with my oldest son when it is not so bitter cold out. The gift of dinner alone with my middle son – the food was good and the company even better. My daughter surprised me with a gift of time too.

Anna knows how passionately I feel about spreading the message of climate hope. I am always looking for new ways of empowering people with information about climate change, and climate action. Anna developed the concept for a podcast that she and I will co-host called Green Girl Talk. She already knew how to record and edit and quickly learned how to upload recordings to appropriate platforms. She developed the logo and a list of topics we could discuss with an aim of letting people know that climate change is about every decision we make in our daily lives from eating and shopping to transportation and entertainment. Most incredibly she agreed to co-host the podcast with me. In the coming weeks we will record several episodes and hope to release them soon. After the initial few we will subsequently record and release one each week. I will post links to the podcast on this site as soon as available.

As always I would love to hear from anyone reading this page. If you have any ideas for things that Anna and I should talk about on the podcast, or would like to suggest a guest for the podcast, please click on the contact tab at the top of this page.

Climate Art

Jason deCaires Taylor sculpture

I have wanted to write about climate art for some time now. I have mentioned previously that I strongly believe that we can all contribute our own unique talents to climate actions. Art in all its forms has the ability to move us, to stir our feelings in a way that information does not always manage to do. My chosen voice is fictional narrative in my novel Code Blue. Some contribute with performance art in music, dance and theater. Still others contribute with visual arts of all kinds, paintings, murals, and sculptures.

My daughter recently brought one amazing artist to my attention. His name is Jason deCaires Taylor. She came home very excited after having seen his TED Talk in her art class. It is just over 2 years old but I had never seen it before. It does have close to 1.5 million views though so clearly many people have. If you haven’t seen it please, please click the link at the bottom of this post. It’s incredible. It’s eleven minutes long and both the stunning visuals and the artist explanation of why he has been doing this work are incredible. I love it all but one of my favourite pieces is definitely at the 9 minute mark. Mr. Taylor creates one of a kind sculptures which are then sunk in the ocean. Many, but not all, are in the Caribbean. Once the pieces are placed nature gets to work on them transforming them in ways beyond human imagination. People can snorkel or scuba dive to see his work in what is becoming an underwater museum.

In doing this work Mr. Taylor has created new homes for many life forms in the ocean. He has also used his art to draw human attention to the ocean. We need to take better care of the ocean, to realize how valuable it truly is.  Although, as he says, from our usual perspective it appears ‘plain and so enormous’ it is in fact fragile and sacred.

Climate of Giving II

Last week I suggested some ideas for gift giving this holiday season that are environmentally friendly. One of the ideas was charity donations. I have been doing a lot of research on environmental charities this past month as I will be giving all royalties from the first 1000 copies of Code Blue to a charity. I just haven’t quite figured out which one yet.

Here are some very brief descriptions of charities that I either donate to already or  find interesting/important:

  • RAVEN – RAVEN is a small but mighty registered charity with a mission to raise legal defence funds to help Indigenous Peoples in Canada defend their treaty rights and the integrity of their traditional lands and cultures. We stand shoulder to shoulder in support of the rights of Indigenous Peoples, so that we can achieve parity for the people on whose land we live. (Canada)
  • Eco-justice – This organization has been around for over 25 years and has won more the 89 cases. They are 100% donor funded. They go to court to defend nature, combat climate change and fight for a healthy environment for all. (Canada)
  • Ian Somerhalder Foundation- ISF delivers unique programs and services and provides public outreach, education, and grants in support of Creatures, Environment, Youth, and Grassroots initiatives. (USA)
  • David Suzuki Foundation – Through evidence-based research, policy analysis, education and citizen empowerment, they conserve and protect the natural environment to create a sustainable Canada. They collaborate with non-profit and community organizations, all levels of government, businesses and individuals. (Canada)
  • org – 350 uses online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions to oppose new coal, oil and gas projects, take money out of the companies that are heating up the planet, and build 100% clean energy solutions that work for all. 350’s network extends to 188 countries. (USA/International)
  • Omaze – Not actually an environmental charity although some causes they run campaigns for are environmental. I have included this one because it’s fun!!! Your Donation supports an awesome cause, and enters you to win a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It goes directly to the non-profit and helps them create real impact. They also sell original merchandise, like t-shirts, that supports nonprofits. (USA/International)

I didn’t want this post to be too long and there really are so many great charities to support. If you have any favourite environmental charities please, please, please share them with me!

and once again thanks to my amazing sister-in-law Sheila Spencer Photography

Climate of Giving 

Christmas and Hanukah are just a few short weeks away. Some of us may be thinking about what to get our friends and family members, co-workers and others as demonstrable proof of our affection. The more I learn about climate change the more minimalist I have become. Yet I have never been a black or white, all or none, type person. I enjoy giving people gifts even more than I enjoy receiving them but…if this is true for me it might be true for some of the people who want to give me gifts too. So how can I deny them the pleasure of giving me something and reconcile this with being environmentally responsible?

For sure there are lots of companies that sell eco-friendly products, fair trade products, etc…and this is great. I have included a few resources on this topic below. I have neither the time nor the inclination to repeat this important work that others have done. So it left me wondering what do I have to add to the conversation?

The last few years as my kids are older and the family is slowly starting to spread out we have been using an on-line tool to organize our gift giving. Here’s what I came up with for my list this year.


They, whoever they are, say we are happier when we spend money on experiences rather than things and that feels true to me. Whether it’s walks and dinners, live shows and movies, or in person or on-line lessons there are activities for anyone and everyone. Airbnb now also have experiences on their website which is pretty cool. Charity donations are a great gift, whatever the cause, or even let your person choose their own cause at Canada Helps. Books are always on my list, new or used, and are a gift that can keep on giving if you pass them on to others when you are done with them. Gifts that encourages connecting with the outdoors whether through sports (snowshoes or surfboards) or gardening haven’t quite made it on to my list yet…but there’s still time.

Interview with Eric N.

Eric Novak is a father of 4 who also thinks that environmental stewardship is a requisite of parenting. He’s not a professional Dad nor is he an environmental scientist, but he’s someone who gives a damn and is trying to make the right decisions as he lives his life as a father, environmentalist and business owner. To learn more about Eric check out his website

M: How did you get started

interview with Eric
aka Enviro_Dad

E: I grew up in an area that’s up and coming now but back then it was a densely populated area of semidetached houses mixed among manufacturing plants. In the late 70s there was a bit of a citizens uprising. My mom was one of the founders of a community group called the Junction Triangle Environmental Watchdog Committee. With the work that they did common sense prevailed and the factories moved. The initial bits of activism were planted there. Years later I watched ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ and  I remember not being able to sleep because I was pissed off. Mr. Gore started the Climate Project to train individuals to give the same talk that he gave. There was a recruitment process and I got in. From there I became a speaker and an activist.

M: How does the dad angle fit in?

E: Everything about my life completely changed on July 26 2002 when I heard my eldest child’s first cry. This virtual sledge hammer hit me. My entire life going forward is not really about me anymore. There is a proverb that says we haven’t inherited this planet from our ancestors we are borrowing it from our children. The reality of that strikes me every day as I tend to my children. Being a dad is everything. We have a profound role to play, one that is less self centered and more forward facing.

M: What is your message?

E: It’s the idea that sustainability, environmentalism, advocacy is not an alternative way of thinking.  I’m an environmentalist but I don’t own Birkenstocks. I’m an environmentalist and I like granola but it gets stuck in my teeth. If we see everything as changing our habits, as being alternative, that’s only going to appeal to a small segment of the population. If I can make this sound totally normal –  that is the goal.

M: What are some of the wins you have seen

E: There will always be people who refuse to acknowledge what is right before their eyes but the amount of skepticism and denial of climate change is far less today than what it was a decade ago. Part of that is due to continued messaging and outreach and part of that is finally saying ‘These storms are kind of crazy. Have you seen LA today, what’s going on?’ Then if your mind is opening up a little bit you can start to say there is some real truths here about connectivity between carbon we are putting into our atmosphere and events. Another big thing is with so many advances in technology the solutions are becoming more advanced and less expensive. One of the biggest things in the last three or four years is the rapid decline in the cost of renewable energy like wind and solar.

M: Do you have a message for YA?

E: In 45 minutes the sun sends enough energy at the earth that if we captured that and used it as necessary we would have enough energy to meet the demands of our planet for a year. SO why aren’t we doing that? We don’t know how yet. Young scientist wannabes think about this – what if that is your project? What if you figure out the magic formula to make fossil fuels irrelevant? If you figure it out you might become richer than Bill Gates and Warren Buffett combined. One way or another you are going to be involved in this.  You didn’t create this problem but if you ignore it you will suffer so better to own it and make your future as prosperous as it can be by taking ownership of it.

Climate Humour   

Climate change is a real downer. Destruction. Ecocide. Death. Even if you feel optimistic about our ability to mitigate and adapt to the environmental changes we are and will continue to face. it’s still a pretty serious topic. So climate change humour? Really? Yup!

I keep getting tweets with more bad news every day. Here’s an example from yesterday.

I could unfollow but I choose not to. As tempting as it is to live in de-Nile about  (too bad it’s drying up) I don’t really think this is the best answer.  When faced with horribleness one defence mechanism is to shut down. Humour has a way of sneaking past these barricades. And stuff that is funny often has a grain of truth in it which keeps it real. Humour is a great coping mechanism. Many medical studies have proven that it can help you deal with stress and actually improve your health.

Several late night talk show hosts regularly touch on climate change issues like Colbert, Kimmel, and Oliver. I think it’s one example of ‘art activism’ which is a topic for another post. It’s just so clear to me that you don’t have to be a scientist to act on climate change. Whatever your talent is it can be used to make a positive impact!

There are some great videos, cartoons and memes about climate change. I have posted  links to a few below as well as a link to a great article on the topic at Yale Climate Connections. They also happen to have a great podcast which I just discovered last week.

If you have any favourite, funny jokes, memes or videos please share them with me. I don’t know about you but I could use a good laugh.

Climate Movie Review

An Inconvenient Truth came out in 2006 and I saw it for the first time on DVD a year later. It was revolutionary as one of the most popular documentaries on climate change and it won 2 Academy Awards. This summer the sequel came out, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power. I missed it in theaters but I saw it last week on iTunes.

I found it to be quite different from the original in that it felt more focused on politics, especially with COP21 happening while the movie was being filmed. There was a lot less power point and in my opinion, it was less science-y. I was really glad that they edited the film after Trump said he would pull out of the Paris Accord so that was included. It definitely ended on a powerful note. I then watched a music video for the documentary. The music by One Republic is very well matched to the video footage and I found I was almost as moved by this three-and-a-half-minute video as by the ninety-minute documentary. Music often gets to me in ways nothing else can.

I also checked out the website .There is a pledge you can sign to #BeInconvenient which involves promising to take some action on climate change. There is also an action tab which offers links for actions related to use your choice, your voice, and your vote which should make it more practical for people to do more than just click activism. I really enjoyed the brief 15-30 second video testimonials that people posted in ‘how are people speaking truth to power’. Many of these were not about how but why. Still it was heart-warming to see regular people, men and women, of all ages who are so concerned about climate change.  Tim and Katelyn were two of my favourites. I did take the pledge and I will post the video soon.

If you have seen An Inconvenient Sequel I would love to hear your thoughts on it. Please connect with me on social media and happy viewing!

Climate Halloween

photo by Haley McIsaac

I have too many thoughts about Halloween and climate change and will have to save some for next year. For instance, I have very ambivalent feelings about pumpkins as decorations. Not that I am super fond of pumpkins as food but at least that is a way of recouping the energy and water that went into growing them. If they are decoration and then composted I suppose that’s the next best thing. Decoration and then land fill is such a waste of the resources put into them and causes the release of methane a potent greenhouse gas.

Halloween is mostly about costumes and candy these days. And some of the tried and true costumes that children still wear, like zombies and ghosts remind us of Halloween’s origin. Historically. All Hallow’s Eve, was seen as a time when the veil between our world and other worlds, particularly spirit worlds was more permeable. Souls of the dead were thought to visit home on this night. What, you might reasonably ask, has any of this got to do with climate change?

I have a lot of experience with death and dying. One of the comforts to people who are dying may be the sense that they are leaving a legacy behind. If they exist in some form, in some way,  it is also, probably, a comfort to those who have died. This legacy might be a piece of work (a song or a book for example). It might also be their family, children and grandchildren who they return to visit on All Hallow’s Eve. Any legacy that the dying have left for us though requires other people to be alive to appreciate it.

When we worry about climate change we aren’t worried that the planet will cease to exist. Surely this rock spinning in space will continue on its trajectory regardless of greenhouse gas emissions and CO2 PPMs in the atmosphere. We are worried that civilization as we know it will cease to exist. And if that happens who will the dead come to visit on Halloween. If that happens how can any of us rest in peace?

Interview with Morgan

State senior in Zoology

Me: tell me about your major

Morgan: It is a very broad focused major. You can take electives on any kind of animals that you are interested in. A lot of people work with marine animals or zoo animals or become a vet. I really love working with so many different kinds of animals. I have worked with dogs and cats in a veterinary setting, research with lemurs, dolphins and sea lions and I have trained horses. Keeping it broad has allowed me to keep my career options broad. Even as a senior I am discovering so many different opportunities to work with different animals. I will probably take a while to find my niche.

Me: how would you describe your university experience?

M: I took four different chemistry classes and a lot of different biology classes. The study is intense. I have always had a science/math kind of brain so I have excelled at that but what really I have benefitted from in university is the internship experiences. Those more so than the academics have helped to shape what I want to be. When I was younger I thought I would get everything from my classes but it turns out that my internships were just as, or even more important.

Me: why are animals so important to you?

M: whenever I am with any kind of animal every other worry or care leaves. I am in the moment and focused on positive and healthy things. When you are in your own life, for me when I am in school, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. The animals in my life help ground me. They offer so much that I am grateful for.

Me: your future

M: Most likely I would like to do animal training and husbandry in a facility that promotes conservation of different species and education. I want to use my skills and training where I can also help educate the public about different kinds of animals and their plight and participate in research that will help in the conservation and preservation of different species.

Me: What advice do you have for high school students?

M: I would encourage taking AP classes. They got me used to what a potential college level class would be like in terms of the amount of information and the level of difficulty. It also means that  you have more time to take electives. If your interested in working with animals, environment, education, conservation getting experience with animals in high school is really important. And not just something to put on your C.V. It helps you determine what it is you like about working with animals, where your interests are and what you care about.

I encourage high school students to take risks and not to be afraid of trying new things. When I was younger I was really shy and I didn’t like trying new things. I was a worrier and anxious. In high school, there’s a lot of pressure to figure out who you are and where you want to go. It’s a scary world to become an adult. I had an amazing support system. To be honest it’s not always going to be easy but whatever you do you can learn something from it. I encourage kids to get out there and try to discover what their passions are especially through hands on experience because that was really helpful for me.

Climate Change of Seasons

It’s fall now in the part of the world where I live. In addition to back to school, Thanksgiving and Halloween it’s also a very special time for trees. All the deciduous trees are changing from a million shades of green to bright yellows, burnished oranges and brilliant reds. Each year I try to make an effort to notice the trees as the leaves turn. But to be perfectly honest sometimes all the rest of life seems too demanding, too busy, and suddenly it’s done. Then the short, dark, cold days set in and the bare trees remind me of skeletons.

Obviously, trees are super important to the environment and deforestation is a huge problem. I will not attempt any details on this today. What is key to remember is that tress pull out CO2 from the atmosphere (see more info on decarbonization in blog from 2 weeks ago on ).

Hard for me not to be a little political though so here is a great tree initiative to be aware of.  There’s an initiative to meet the targets for carbon dioxide reduction set for the USA in the Paris Agreement Trump by planting trees. Trump Forest was founded in March 2017 by British climate scientist Dr. Dan Price, American PhD candidate Jeff Willis and French-New Zealander Adrien Taylor. Ten billion tress will be needed and so far there are only 766,625 pledged. I’ve just added a hundred with my contribution. If you would like to donate too you can go to  and for more information there’s a link to an article at the bottom of this page.

In celebration of autumn and of trees I am sharing some of my favourite tree-related sayings.

  • The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago, the second-best time is now – Chinese proverb
  • Everyone should write a book, plant a tree and have a child – Jose Marti
  • I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree – Joyce Kilmer
  • Imagine if trees gave off Wifi signals, we would be planting so many trees and we’d probably save the planet too. Too bad they only produce the oxygen we breathe -Tarun Sarafe

If you have any favorite tree sayings please share them with me!


It can be difficult to remain positive these days when there has been so much bad news, from devastating hurricanes to mass shooting and that’s just in our small part of the world. This weekend we will celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving and I am using this as a time to reflect on all of the good in the world. There are many trends to be thankful for such as the falling price of solar panels and fracking bans, to beeswax food wraps and a proliferation of vegetarian and vegan options when dining out. I have chosen to focus today primarily on groups of people rather than specific innovations or trends. It is people who have caused the problems associated with climate change and I believe it is people who will be the solution.

  • Many, many organizations, and all the people who volunteer or work for them that are fighting for action on climate change (links to just a few of these below)
  • Lawyers who are using their unique set of skills to battle industries and governments in the court to help protect our environment
  • Artists, musicians, writers who use their talents to reach out to people about the violence and injustice of climate change
  • Scientists who may each only own a small part of an answer but who when working together and building on knowledge foundations are innovating solutions to climate change
  • Native and indigenous peoples who are standing up for the best interest of the environment
  • Governments, whether municipal, state or federal who are enacting legislature to help protect the environment. ( special shout out to the 170 countries that signed the amendment to the Montreal protocol just about a year ago in Kigali to phase out hydroflourocarbons – this is a big deal!)
  • Every person who is trying, in their own small way, to make a difference, by reducing/re-using/recycling, by using alternate modes of transport, by donating to an environmental charity, by planting a tree, by shopping locally or by eating less meat.

I would love to hear about anything climate related that you are thankful for too! Please consider sharing it with me and with others if you feel comfortable J

Climate – Book Report

Well lots of people have been back to school for a few weeks now so I thought I would try my first book report in, let’s just say many, years. I was lucky enough to get 2 books about climate change this summer (thanks Mom!). The first was Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope’s book Climate of Hope. It’s full of information about how cities are organizing and doing great things to act on climate change. And yes, it is very hopeful !

The second book is called Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to reverse Global Warming and is edited by Paul Hawken. Quite the title, right? It’s not enough to just focus on decreasing carbon dioxide emissions. I mean that’s important, don’t get me wrong, but even if we could get emissions to zero it wouldn’t be enough. We need to re-sequester carbon if we want to improve life on earth for many living beings (including humans). And that is what Drawdown is all about.

This book is a compilation of the work of hundreds of scientists and researchers. They give short reports which must have taken a long time to compile. They review 100 things that are already known and in many cases, are actively being implemented, that can have positive impact on climate change. The book is divided into topics; energy, food, buildings and cities, women and girls, etc… Under each heading many projects are covered, each one in about two pages. The information includes scientific background on why and how the project leads to less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as well as estimates of costs and economic benefits of each project if implemented.

This is the kind of book that you don’t have to read in any particular order. You can easily pick it up and put it down any time you need a dose of hope. Or you can use it as a reference guide. I find myself doing a bit of both. I have already earmarked some pages of ideas for things that will make it into my second novel.

To find out more about Project Drawdown follow the link below.

Interview with Hannah S.

Hannah is entering her final year at NC State University in the Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology Program this year. Below is some of our conversation.

M: What lead you to apply to Conservation Biology studies?

H: I have always been interested in the outdoors. When I started scuba diving it opened my eyes to a new world. We think the ocean is untouchable but once we get down there you see all this loose fishing and diving gear and realize it’s not. At my high school, we participated in community service at local parks and farms. Observing sustainable farming kick started my interest in conservation biology. Seeing people using solutions to leave a smaller carbon footprint in producing food was interesting to me.

M: Tell me about your first 3 years in the program?

H: The first year of college was getting used to college and taking general bio and chem classes, more of a transition year. It really improved during the summer and I participated in a study abroad program in the Bahamas. I spent two weeks surveying over 200 children about their wildlife preferences. From this I published two papers published and presented at multiple conferences. This past summer, I went to Belize and conducted interviews with farmers about their views on sustainable agriculture and forest management.

M: Advice for High school students?

H: Look at all of your options. If you if you enjoy the outdoors and want to conserve it, whether you are interested in science or not, there is probably a job for you. Many unique programs are developing that are focused on conservation. Even if you do not want to pursue science, jobs in education, politics, economics, etc. can all be tied to conservation.

M: Why do you feel that your field is important?

H: Unfortunately, conservation is a political point in many countries, with the debate focusing on the struggle between protecting the environment and growing economies. Many people think these two topics are opposite and can’t coincide. Conservation science focuses on using resources wisely, allowing for both economic development and environmental protections. It’s not about us vs them; it’s about creating solutions so that everyone can benefit. In my major, there are a lot of passionate people who care about the environment; however, they realize the importance of creating solutions that are innovative and benefit all parties involved. Now more than ever, in the age of climate change, we need this type of problem solving. We need to make sure that human interests and environmental interests go together hand in hand.

 Climate Murder

Are we humans killing all manner of living beings? From plants to insects to animals that swim, crawl, walk or fly the answer is obvious – YES! We are killing more and more of them all the time. But Murder? Murder applies to killing other humans (whether you agree with this or not is another issue). Specifically killing another human illegally and intentionally is the definition of murder.

I was shocked to learn that environmental activists are being murdered. This had to be fiction, right? Bad guys planning and killing good guys, seriously?!? If good guys and bad guys sounds naïve I stand by it. What else would you call someone who plans and executes murder? And what else would you call someone who is trying to save animals and forests – who is trying to save the world?

So I dug around for more and have included some of the best links below. Environmental activists are subject to death threats, arrest, sexual assault and murder. In 2016 approximately 4 people died every week defending the earth. The majority of these murders take place in South or Central America or Asia. In North America, where I live, we hardly ever hear about them. The murdered were protesting logging and mining companies and agribusiness. This year is likely to be an even more deadly year with 98 activists killed in the first 5 months.

Many defenders are indigenous and not well resourced. Nevertheless people are starting to notice. There is a global campaign to document what is happening. An organization called not1more is dedicated to supporting environmental defenders with equipment, training and money. The world can be a sad and scary place when the truth is stranger than fiction but we can hope and we can help!

Climate Change on the Big Screen

I lived within an hour of Toronto for over a decade before attending the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) for the first-time last year. This weekend I am excited to be going for a second time. There are the films themselves which are the best of the best from all over. And there are the celebrities’ so familiar from the big screen, and now, for a limited time only, in town & in person!

In 2015 the documentary by Avi Lewis about Naomi Klein’s book ‘This Changes Everything : Capitalism vs the Climate’ was screened at TIFF. Being ignorant of TIFF then I saw it at my local film club and was very moved by it. In 2016 I saw the premier of Before the Flood, Leonardo DiCaprio’s documentary about climate change. I loved it (of course)! The film was available for free briefly on National Geographic channel. It was watched over 2 million times the day after its release. It also won several documentary awards and is now available on iTunes.

I don’t see any environmental films in the 2017 line up (sad). I did see a film on Netflix last week that competed for the Palme D’Or at the Cannes International Film Festival 2017. The film, Okja, is not a documentary. Nevertheless there are some important lessons in it about our relationship to nature.

As far as celebs go I am thrilled that there are so many who have chosen to use their fame and fortune to further the climate action movement. These include, but are not limited to; Arnold Schwarzenegger, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ian Somerhalder, and Mark Ruffalo. Two of my personal favourites, Matt Damon and Emma Thompson, will be at TIFF this year and maybe, if I’m very lucky, I’ll catch a glimpse of them.

Climate Change Goes West

I had the most amazing experience last week. I took a trip to the Blackfeet reservation in Montana with Global Volunteers. My mother(76) and daughter (15) came with me and we met so many warm, welcoming and resilient native people. We also loved meeting the other volunteers from all over the USA and Canada. They were hard working, caring people who represent the best we can be whether we are 10 or 70.

Despite all of this wonderfulness there were times there where I was very, very sad. To begin with there is Glacier National Park. These glaciers have been around for approximately 7000 years. In 1910, when the park was established, there were 150 glaciers. Currently there are only 25 and the projection is that by the year 2030 they will all be gone. It was easy to see the extensive damage pine beetles have done since their ‘season’ is longer with warmer weather. This is something I describe briefly in Code Blue but now have experienced first hand. To see so many trees that could be pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere, instead standing like skeletal sentries bearing witness hurt my heart. Ranchers described to me a 10 year drought the likes of which they have never seen before. Wildfires are the norm. It’s not news. Several nights we were on evacuation alert. We had to stay inside because of the wild animals migrating into town away from the fires.

All of these disasters are caused or worsened by climate change and each one acts on the others to make them worse in a vicious cycle that is not difficult to understand. The beauty of this place is unreal and the rapidly escalating loss of it is unfathomable and unforgivable.


Happy, sad or ambivalent – it’s that time of year again for many folks.

  • Fashion -Don’t forget that thrift shops have kids clothes too. This is a great way to re-use. I was never sure if Macklemore’s song was meant to be ironic or not but I personally have gotten many compliments on outfits that I have purchased at thrift stores. Also, anything you aren’t using any more (like clothes that are too small) can be dropped off for someone else to use.
  • Nutrition – Local food with minimal animal content in re-usable containers sounds like hard word. And for the food it’s not a one-time August or September purchase but something you have to keep up every day/week which makes it even harder. On the other hand, these are good habits for eating at home too. The food part of the equation affects not only the health of the planet but our individual health and our families’ health so for me it’s worth the extra effort (most days). In terms of packing it up anything you can reuse is a great start. If you want to go plastic free which more and more people do there’s metal and glass and many other options. One great product that I just discovered is beeswax wraps – no more Ziploc bags, no more tinfoil for me. Beautiful, reusable, sustainable wraps. You can make these yourself, order them on-line or if you are lucky find a local store.
  • Transportation- walk, cycle, scooter, skateboard, take your EV or bus to school – private cars, especially those idling while waiting to drop off or pick up kids at school drive me absolutely nuts!
  • Education– back to school means less time to enjoy the great outdoors for most of us but the trade-off is that it is a great opportunity to learn more from teachers, books and peers about what each of us can do to act on climate change.

Here are a some of my favorite websites that give great ideas for shopping and beyond when it comes time to go back to school.

Spending Money

A few weeks ago I mentioned one of the things that can be done independently to help mitigate climate change is to shop at second hand stores. I am a big believer in less stuff. Minimalism. Capsule wardrobes. Project 333. Tiny houses. And thrift stores. There are at least 5 in my neighborhood that I visit on a regular basis. Many just have clothes and some even specialize in only upscale clothes. The biggest one has everything; clothes, books, games, household items, etc…If you have never been in a thrift store you really should check it out. There are treasures to be found. Some may have lots of junk but that just makes it more of a challenge to find the hidden gems. If there are no thirft stores near you there are some on-line. and are just two examples but trust me its easy to google and find plenty more. I also make it a habit to drop off boxes of clothes or household items at the thrift stores on a regular basis because I really do appreciate having less stuff and if I am not using something I figure someone else should.So in addition to being excellent for the environment thrift store stuff is almost always less expensive. This means added money in my pocket. SO here are some things I like to spend my savings on:

  • More clothes and stuff from the thrift shop –
  • Local and/or organic produce or products
  • Donations to favorite charities
  • Experiences instead of things – like indoor skydiving or ballroom dance classes
  • Art, music and books – what I can I say I love reading and writing both and I can never resist buying books. I do read them though and then mostly pass them on to others

If you had some extra cash what would you do with it?


It’s summer. It’s hot out. It’s killer hot out. Literally!

  • Heat kills ten times more people in the U.S. than tornados or other extreme weather events. Heat kills thousands of people worldwide. For example, the 2003 European heatwave killed approximately 70,000 people—that’s more than 20 times the number of people who died in the September 11 attacks. Heat exhaustion is caused by elevated body temperature and symptoms include dizziness, confusion, headaches and weakness. Those at greatest risk are the most vulnerable populations, including children, pregnant women, elderly, ill and people in  lower socio-economic sectors.
  • More ‘bad air’ days (smog/air pollution) occur with higher temperatures. This makes breathing worse for everyone. People who already have breathing problems like asthma and COPD are at higher risk of worsening illness and even death on these days.
  • Hotter summers mean increase rates of infectious diseases. These can be food and water borne like cholera and salmonella or from biting insects like Lyme disease and West Nile Virus.
  • Hotter days mean more evaporation of water from plants and from the soil. This makes growing food more difficult. Drought leads to increased cost for food (whether plant or animals which eat plants) and decreased food availability.
  • Wildfires are a bigger problem during hotter summers. Longer fire seasons and more susceptible conditions mean loss of human property and life, loss of animal life and loss of plant life. Sadly too, forest fires destroy tress which could otherwise be pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere and cooling things down.

Record breaking heat is the new normal. Eight of the last 10 years have been the hottest ever on recorded.  This animation gives a great overview of a slightly longer time frame. It’s a visual record of temperatures around the world over the last 116 years.

Interview with Leah Stevenson

Tic Brewer, the hero of Code Blue, is an environmental studies student. I had the opportunity to sit down with Leah Stevenson, a student beginning her second year in Environmental Studies at Suffolk University this fall. Below is some of our conversation:

M: What made you decide to enroll in environmental studies?

L: What helped me to decide was that I have always had a natural ability with sciences, they always made sense to me. During my senior year at high school I became concerned about the impact the political situation would have on things like equal rights and women’s rights. I see the Earth as a living, breathing creature that deserves the same rights that people do.

M: What helped prepare you for your studies?

L: I had taken lots of science courses in high school including AP environmental studies. Mr. Marsh was one of my teachers and he had previously worked for environmental corporations. He had a big impact on me. I also had the opportunity to do an environmental service trip to Costa Rica which helped me to see what possibilities are out there for doing something I enjoy.

M: Tell me more about your university experience

L: In our program you can do a science stream or a humanities stream. I did the intro and required first year courses last year and this year I will take history of environmental movement, and an ethics class and a bio lab. If you don’t like science but care about the environment you can still do this program and take really minimal science courses. I don’t know yet whether I want to do scientific research or environmental law but I have time to figure that out.

Students and faculty in my program are really passionate which makes it feel like a little community. One thing I enjoyed this year, and it’s going to sound super-geeky, but the department bought two drones to use to survey land and we got to play with them a lot. My professor and I bonded over the drones and I got to test fly some of them, it was so cool!

M: Other thoughts?

L: Being eco-friendly is a huge trend right now especially for corporations. I think people in my generation grew up assuming that everything is environmentally friendly so that we don’t worry about it as much. There is a generation just above us who are in their early to mid-twenties who are more ‘earthy’ and ‘crunchy’ but I don’t see people my age being as socially active. As a teenager I looked less to my parents and my teachers and more to people who were slightly older than me and to seeing who was doing things I admired. I think environmentalism just goes with the kind of people I like.

Top 5  Climate friendly Videos

Even though I love to spend time outdoors, especially in the beautiful summer weather, sometimes it’s just too hot (hmm…climate change much?). So I also definitely enjoy a good hang on the couch watching Netflix. Here are my top 5 videos:

  1. The Most Terrifying Video You’ll Ever See: So first of all it’s definitely not! The name is all hype. I hate scary movies/videos etc… real life is scary enough for me. But this is a 9 ½ minute video that I think is worth watching as I found the argument he makes for taking action about climate change to be one that I can remember and use with climate change deniers.
  1. Climate Change Debate – Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: I didn’t really need yet one more video to help deal with climate change deniers but I always need one more video that makes me laugh and this one definitely does it for me.
  1. Nature is Speaking: I love this beautifully done series of videos with well known actors narrating for Mother Nature, the Sky, the Ocean and so on. The content info is not very complex; these are not educational videos. They are however very beautiful to look at and well narrated. They are a great example of how science is not the only discipline that matters when it comes to climate change. Art, which speaks to us at a deeper level, also has a key role to play.

  1. The Soil Story by Kiss the Ground – I like this video because it is short ( 3 ½ minutes) and informational but primarily I love it because it is very positive and I find that to be very helpful.


Years of Living Dangerously – This is a long series as season one has 9 one hour episodes and season two has 8 of them but I know that many people, myself included, are getting pretty skilled at binge watching – and this is definitely worth it.  Season one is available on youtube but if you have Netflix that’s a better way to watch it (in my opinion). In 2014 it won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Documentary. Each episode covers 2 or 3 situations and most have celebrities or journalists learning info along with the viewer. For understandable information with scope I honestly can’t think of anything better than this and have watched many episodes several times.

Also book trailer for Code Blue which my daughter made so I think it’s fabulous and I am not biased much 😉

2017 My Top 10 climate friendly Summer Activities

Usually I limit lists to top 5 because my attention span is THAT short but there are so many great activities to do when the weather is good and my favorites might not be yours so I bumped it up to 10 to try to be more inclusive. In no particular order:

  • Walk or Hike – I’m not quite sure the difference between the two but either way I am outdoors moving at a slow enough pace to notice my environment both man-made and natural
  • Bike, skateboard, rollerblade or get outdoors on any wheels that don’t need gasoline to make them go
  • Canoe, kayak, sail, paddleboard – I like getting on the water without and engine so that I can look, listen and enjoy. Last summer I even tried SUP yoga which was awesome. Nothing beats lying on a paddleboard, your fingers in the water, staring at the sky during shavasana.
  • Swim– I like getting in the water – Whether it’s an ocean, lake or river any natural body of water always makes me feel renewed
  • Picnic(eating), camp( eating and sleeping) or doing other indoor activities outside – here I would also include reading, napping, exercising, playing board games. Anything that I enjoy doing I am likely to enjoy doing even more outdoors.
  • Visit a local, provincial or national park – I feel so blessed that we have these public spaces, like voting I guess, I consider it a privilege not to be taken for granted
  • Visit a farm– there’s something about seeing where food comes from that is elemental and important. I try to show my local farmers some love because I kind of think food is important.
  • Garden – I suck at this one and I can’t get a darn thing to stay alive but I love seeing other people’s beautiful gardens so if you can grow it, go for it!
  • Cook with local fruits and vegetables– fruits and vegetables are so much better for the environment than meat so when I get a chance to have them from local growers ( about 4 months a year here) I grab it.
  • Golf- I have included this one for my husband and have, truth be told spent some time thinking about whether or not it is eco-friendly. I have come to the conclusion that it is, or can be. It provides a green, permeable surface where wildlife can live, usually within a landscape of sprawling suburban concrete.

If you have other eco-friendly summer activities to recommend please share them with me –  I would love to know!


  1. This Changes Everything – Naomi Klein- award winning journalist explores why capitalism is the root cause of climate change. This book is packed full of data and the first 2 sections are quite depressing. I actually had to stop reading at the beginning of the second section and read the third section which is more hopeful and then was able to go back and read the second section. That worked fine as it is not a book that needs to be read strictly in order.
  2. Don’t Even think about it – Why our Brains are Wired to Ignore Climate Change – George Marshall – I found this book to be unique in that it dealt with an important barrier that almost all of us face; even thinking about climate change can feel overwhelming at times.
  3. The Right to be Cold- One Woman’s Story of Protecting Her Culture, the Arctic and the Whole Planet – Sheila Watt-Cloutier- when it’s really hot out even reading about cold places can help take it down a notch. This autobiography was short-listed for Canada Reads 2017 and it’s easy to see why. My only caution here is that the author is so humble it’s too easy to discount the enormity of what she has accomplished but she is truly a real life hero.
  4. Cows Save the Planet – and other improbable ways of restoring soil to heal the Earth – Judith Schwartz –This one has a special place in my heart because it was the first book I ever read about climate change and it made the science of it very accessible. It also has a very hopeful tone and message. I have read it several times and will probably read it again soon.
  5. The Carbon Diaries 2015 –Saci Lloyd – This is the only fiction book on the list although I easily could have picked more. What I liked about this one was that it felt more speculative rather than dystopian. Like Code Blue it has a teenage girl protagonist dealing with the effects of climate change on her current and future life choices. Set in the UK where a new individual carbon rationing program has been introduced Laura deals with issues that really matter: love, floods and pigs.

For lots of other really great suggestions check out

I would love to know what is on your summer reading list. What you have read and would recommend (fiction or nonfiction but with environmental theme).

And I hope that for spring/summer 2018 Code Blue will be on your reading list!


Since we just had July 1st ( Canada’s 150th) and July 4th with all the national pride, flag waving etc… going on and with the G20 this past week I have been thinking a lot about how politics plays into climate action at the national level. This could be depressing given that international climate summits have been going on for decades now and that some countries ( 7 to be exact ) still won’t sign on. But since this blog is called Writing for Hope I am going to list 5 reasons why countries/nations are not the end all and be all when it comes to climate change action.

1) Most obvious one of all is that climate change, rising temperatures, rising sea levels, droughts, floods etc… do not respect whatever lines we have drawn on maps or in the sand saying this is one place and right over there, well that’s another!

2) Leaders who make decisions for countries change every few years, from senators to representatives, to members of parliament and premiers and presidents of countries – sometimes they are motivated when it comes to climate action and other times not but the one thing we can count on is that they will change.

3) Sometimes they say they will do things, take climate actions for instance and then they don’t. Shocking right? for some highlights on this check out to see how cutie Justin T. is doing

4) Some leaders may say they won’t participate in climate action but that doesn’t mean that cities and states can’t and won’t. There are many policies that they are in control of that can have important effects when it comes to climate action. Here are just a few examples but I promise there are lots more.

5)  Relying on countries to take climate action means relying on the status quo. Change is much more likely to come from the ground up and politicians and policies follow. This includes social media which luckily knows no national boundaries so tweet, blog, Facebook, snapchat – it can only help !!!

5 Easy Things You Can Do (Independently) about Climate Change

  1. watch videos to learn more info about climate change and pass these on to others
  2. read books to learn more info about climate change and pass these on to others too
  3. eat less animal products ( especially red meat)
  4. shop at second hand stores ( save money which can be used for so many cool things it needs its own list)
  5. transportation – I personally went overboard on this one. I bought the first and only car I have ever loved, a fully electric Nissan Leaf, but you don’t have to be that extreme. Once a week or once a month make a choice to not get in your own personal vehicle but carpool, take public transport, bike or walk.

For the latest blog update check

For news about Code Blue book check

%d bloggers like this: