Reflections for land trusts taking action to slow down climate change, April 2021
There’s some momentum building. More and more land trusts are taking action to slow down climate change.
In fact, I found so many examples this time that I’ll be including some in the next issue of Land Trusts Taking Action to Slow Down Climate Change in May. With growing urgency to both slow down climate change, and to diversify the partnerships to make that possible, land trusts can — and should be — a central part of the solution.
As you know, talking about climate change is a major part of this work, and sharing examples related to the challenge and possible solutions, is central to making change.
That’s why I include a variety of stories for you to skim in the hope that you’ll find something that resonates with you. I’ve had several people say they are building on the examples from the eNews including sharing the stories on social media or developing related stories and projects of their own.
Inspiration is leading to action.
I hope the same will be true for increasing the pace of inclusive conservation. If all goes well, I’ll be sending out an eNews in June featuring the community conservation/inclusive conservation work being done by land trusts. You can sign up for that HERE if you’d like.
Thanks for caring and for helping to slow down climate change.
Reflections from Judy, April 2021
There’s some new urgency in our work to slow down climate change.
As noted in a recent article, “The global carbon dioxide emissions spiked to a critical record despite the COVID-19 year. The 421.21 parts per million count from Saturday is a grim milestone for anthropogenic climate change. In roughly 200 years, the amount of CO2 has doubled the amount it took billions of years to accumulate. The amount has never exceeded 420 parts per million until now.”
It’s very clear that while natural climate solutions are critical (for a whole host of reasons), they aren’t going to be enough to keep climate change under control.
To get there we will also need to transition to renewables, ASAP.
That means we, as conservationists and people who care, need to help others understand how renewables, energy conservation, and land protection are part of the climate strategy.
You can do that by sharing examples of wind, solar, and geothermal that are compatible with conservation goals. We can also aid with this by talking about how renewable energy and energy conservation incentives are actually critical to land and water conservation. In short, it’s time for us to realize that this energy work is core to our conservation mission—perhaps as much or more so right now as invasive species.
You don’t have to be an expert in energy work. There are a lot of resources, and, frankly, much of this is based on common sense.
I suggest that we embrace renewables while I understand that there is a desire to approach this in a linear fashion. Yet science is making it clear that we can’t wait to do first one and then the other. This has to happen simultaneously.
To that end, there’s good news.
As you will see in the next issue of Land Trusts Taking Action to Slow Climate Change (I will send it out in two weeks), there are a lot of conservation groups integrating conservation and renewables. To do it well, they are helping people face the challenge and identify the solutions already here. That’s why I share the stories and research articles below. I hope something resonates–and that you share it with others. Change happens one day at a time, by sharing and inspiring others.
Reflections from Judy, April 2021
I’m feeling like there’s finally some momentum growing to address climate change.
The current administration, as well as numerous states, are integrating climate into a wide variety of strategic planning. Whether transportation, economic development, or land and water, there appears to be a strong and sincere effort to not only ramp up addressing climate change (and the transition to renewables), but in doing so to provide economic and policy support needed to allow communities to adapt to climate change.
And land conservation, land, and water management are increasingly going to be part of the solution.
That’s why we need to gear up and get ready to seize opportunities when they present themselves.
It means thinking in new and integrated ways. For conservation to be part of the fabric of our communities, and to be seen as a viable part of the solution to climate change and community challenges, we can’t think in silos. We must step back, and scale-up.
I say this knowing that everyone is already busy.
Part of expanding our reach and impact comes from not having to reinvent the wheel every time. That’s why I share examples like those below. You can find more on my website. Through policy, communications, innovative responses, funding, land and community restoration, and farmland viability, land trusts and conservation groups are leading the way—and taking action to show that the time to prioritize climate change is now.
Reflections for land trusts, March 2021
There’s some good news on the climate front.
Did you read that The Nature Conservancy hired Katharine Hayhoe as their Chief Scientist? Dr. Hayhoe will be stepping down as co-director of Texas Tech University’s climate center, but she will still hold an academic appointment while in her new position at the Conservancy. There, she will play a leading role in global climate advocacy; her scientific research has long focused on adaptation and resiliency—two priority areas for The Nature Conservancy.
There’s another piece of good news, in addition to the examples cited below.
It was announced yesterday that 70 bipartisan mayors committed to conserving 30% of U.S. lands by 2030. The mayors represent 29 states and Washington, D.C. Most serve in a nonpartisan or independent office, while 21 are Democrat and four are Republican. Cities represented include Chicago, Miami-Dade County, and Phoenix. The mayors join a number of governors, as well as the Biden administration.
The 30 x 30 initiative is core to what land trusts do. It will also test how well land trusts continue their work on diversity, equity, and inclusion—as well as supporting renewable energy that is compatible with land and water.
I look forward to seeing more examples of how we, as those who care about conservation, can continue to build more bridges and support those most impacted by climate change. To quote Wayne Gretzky, “Skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.”
Reflections from Judy, February 2021
I hope you are doing okay given the challenges of this pandemic and the crazy weather we have been experiencing across the country.
There has been a lot of interesting climate research of late, so much that it’s a challenge to narrow down which articles to share with you.
That said, I thought it was important to elevate the research regarding how climate change is impacting the ability of trees to absorb greenhouse gas pollution, as well as good news that there is a growing effort to invest in farms as part of the climate solution.
I also wanted to share that I’m receiving an increasing number of emails from people expressing both concerns about, and sometimes support for, solar and wind. This is likely to continue as we face what many are seeing as a blight on the landscape.
I’m hearing many folks say that rooftop solar, and brownfield solar, should be installed first (before “open land” is used). While that sounds good, it doesn’t address the reality of both the need and the economic circumstances—and frankly, for many farms, the need to add elevated or dual-use solar as part of their economic strategy for farm viability.
If we are going to save the lands, waters, and communities we love, we are going to need to think holistically.
Natural climate solutions, carbon payments, and land management will continue to get a lot of press coverage, too. Continuing to showcase a wide variety of solutions will be important to achieve the climate goals we need in a timely manner. Land trusts and conservation groups are starting to do just that. I’m interested to see what you think.
Reflections for land trusts, January 2021
I’m feeling encouraged. Land trusts have been reaching out to me asking how they might play a bigger role in slowing down (mitigating) climate change. It’s a really good sign.
Just five years ago, many land trusts didn’t consider climate change mitigation to be central to their work. Yet, today, it’s a different story.
As you might expect, many are focusing on “natural climate solutions” (using land and water to absorb climate-polluting gases like carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane). That often means changing land protection and management strategies, drafting easements that allow for carbon payments or off-sets, and rethinking the roles of soil, grasses, and trees as parts of the solution.
But, even more encouraging is how many land trusts are also facing the reality that as locally-based conservation organizations, they need to help their communities understand and embrace compatible renewables. Without a rapid transition away from fossil fuels, the lands and waters we love—and are working so hard to conserve—will face unprecedented peril.
And so too will our communities.
Addressing the impacts of climate change on marginalized communities, community partners, and a diversity of landowners, is critical. The good news is that land trusts already have the tools to do this—it simply requires merging their commitment to inclusive conservation and strategic partnerships with a responsibility to mitigate climate change, and be part of the solution.
I look forward to continuing to share articles that feature this integrated way of thinking; an approach that recognizes the urgency of climate change solutions to match the accelerating climate challenges ahead.
Reflections from Judy, January 2021
As you may have noticed, I “hit pause” on the climate eNewsletter, as I thought we all had enough on our plates given the holidays and transition to the new year.
I’ve also spent some time thinking about where we can find joy and resilience to move forward, to inspire others, and find our own inner peace.
I’ve been wondering about how to find shared values around kindness, compassion, and empathy—and how we can value those as much as we do the conservation of land and water; how they are linked and intertwined with conservation, yet overlooked and undervalued.
Vladimir Mayakovsky, a Russian poet and playwright, once said, “Our planet is poorly equipped for delight. One much snatch gladness from the days that are.”
He is, of course, right—at least part of the time. But what if we saw ourselves less as “snatchers,” and instead as givers of “delight”—creators of community and place, where there is no need to “snatch,” because there is no shortage of hope, joy, and delight?
What if we saw ourselves as solution-makers, happiness-creators, empowerment-facilitators, and fearless carriers of the truth?
What if the truth was seen as something to embrace rather than fight, because, in part, we met people where they are and listened deeply to their needs, dreams, and concerns?
I think that’s what the future of conservation looks like. We are in the business of hope.
Our hope is truth-based, solution-based, responsive, inclusive, and creative. You can feel it, smell it, and embrace it. It’s real.
The articles below echo that sentiment. I look forward to sharing the challenges and solutions around climate change, conservation, and community with you in the year ahead. It’s going to take all of us, and together we are going to have to weather the chaos and fear that comes along with it.
Reflections from Judy, December 2020
As we head towards the New Year there’s some good news about climate change.
Okay—so maybe not a lot, but let’s take what we can get. I have purposely provided a mix of articles that aren’t all dreary because we need to find some hope, especially this time of year.
Increasingly people are realizing that we need creative, timely, and integrated solutions to the climate crisis. Natural climate solutions are part of that—and are getting more attention all the time.
So, too, is the realization that we must decarbonize our energy system as soon as possible—and help farmers, communities, and community organizations make that shift. Not only will it be cost-effective, but it will play a critical role in the health and vitality of our families and communities in the coming 20-30 years.
As noted in this recent article, “a growing body of economics research documents the tremendous cost savings associated with implementing climate solutions. But it’s critical to recognize that many climate impacts simply cannot be quantified in economic terms: It’s impossible, for instance, to place a dollar value on human suffering as a result of homes lost to floods or fires, or climate-caused famine, or the value lost in species extinctions and declining biodiversity.”
Thinking outside the box, helping others to see how climate change is here, now—and how we have the solutions to address it, now—is critical to encouraging action. We need to keep working together to move climate change from being seen as a political issue to being understood as a moral, ethical, and quality of life issue.
The shift is underway. More and more Americans are looking for solutions that connect with their core beliefs. Thank you for being part of the change.
Reflections for land trusts, November 2020
All over the country land trusts are working to figure out what role they can, and should, play to address climate change. There’s a lot of good news, too.
Their creativity, partnerships, and respectful messaging is starting to gain a lot of traction.
That’s not to say it’s always easy. It can be challenging to figure out how to connect with different members of the community.
Some ways to identify appropriate messages and timely strategies are to listen to local leaders, draw out personal stories from landowners, and participate in conversations with community organizations. However, depending on the breadth of these voices, it may not capture a more widespread perspective.
If that’s something you’re interested in, you might want to check out the Yale Climate Communication website, including the Opinion Maps. They update these a couple of times each year, so they’re a great way to keep an eye on patterns related to climate change in your region, county by county.
You can access these maps, and review the questions they ask, here. Just mouse over the map of the United States, and click on your county of interest. You will then see a list of questions about climate change (they use the term global warming) and estimations of how people feel about the topics and questions.
As this year comes to a close, I’m hoping you will be inspired by the land trusts below. Together, we need to continue to come up with creative solutions to climate change and be willing to think outside the box of traditional conservation approaches.
That’s why I’m thankful for you. With your help, we can inspire the change we need to address climate change and conserve the communities, lands, and waters we cherish.
Best wishes for a safe and happy Thanksgiving.
Reflections from Judy, November 2020
I hope you, your friends, and family are doing okay given the increasing reach of the pandemic. With all that is going on, many of us are finding we need to slow down, get outside, and embrace what we love.
Our personal resilience is more important than ever as we face—on top of everything—accelerating climate change.
Given the growing urgency to take action, I thought I’d share a few articles about natural climate solutions, as well as a video and an article explaining how ground-mounted solar can be installed in a manner that is compatible with agriculture.
Why am I elevating the importance of ground-mounted solar as part of our conservation strategy? Because, while natural climate solutions are critical to absorbing greenhouse gas pollutants, we need to significantly reduce the use of fossil fuels. This will require a marked increase in renewable energy–more than can be installed on rooftops and brownfields (in many areas).
That’s a bit daunting. But there’s good news. Solar installations don’t have to gobble up land nor take it out of production—nor create a conservation “wasteland.”
Well-designed ground-mounted solar projects can be compatible with active agriculture. Indeed, many farmers see properly installed renewables as a way to buffer erratic markets and weather conditions. Depending on the design, solar installations can help increase soil health, allow for food production, increase water absorption, and/or sequester carbon in the soil.
It’s not just for small-scale solar, either. Large-scale solar can also be installed so as to be a “win” for conservation—by helping to keep farms viable and/or create new pollinator habitat.
The challenge (well, one of them) is that many people aren’t connecting the dots. They aren’t recognizing that we have to act now, to dramatically slow down climate change to save what defines our communities, the lands and waters we love, and our way of life.
That’s where you come in.
You can share climate change solutions and talk about the climate impacts you see around you. You can connect to those who care about the same things you care about, and you can help change the paradigm of what is needed (because you know what is at stake.)
It doesn’t have to be hard. Start small. You can always share these articles on your social media feed to get the conversation going. Thank you, and I look forward to sharing what land trusts are doing to slow down climate change when I touch base in a couple of weeks.