Reflections from Judy, May 2023
I’ve been noticing something interesting happening around the topic of climate change.
People are starting to talk about it more, at least in the land conservation community. Granted, many focus on natural climate solutions because it’s what they’re most familiar with.
But the realization is sinking in that if we don’t slow down climate change soon, the nature and farms we are working to conserve are at risk. This calls for innovation and rethinking what needs to happen to save the places we love.
It’s also why climate action needs to be focused on what people can relate to in an authentic way — with solutions they can trust, and to which they can relate.
You might appreciate the report, Climate Change in the American Mind: Politics & Policy, from December 2022. You also may want to check out Dr. Katharine Hayhoe’s video (below) about how to talk climate in a “red” state.
Perhaps most importantly, we need to help people connect the dots between how climate change is impacting them — and the meaningful and creative solutions we already have to slow it down.
I selected the articles below because I think they shake up some standard assumptions and might provide you with a place to start a discussion on the changes that need to happen, at scale.
Thanks for caring. Thanks for taking action.
Reflections for land trusts, May 2023
I thought you might appreciate a bit of inspiration coming from land trusts across the country.
As climate change continues to accelerate, so too are land trusts and their efforts to slow it down.
Sometimes this means raising the issues, sharing solutions, and communicating about how the community at-large can help.
Other times, it means taking direct action by conserving and managing lands, with climate change in mind.
And perhaps most inspiring are the land trusts who are working to change the way they tackle climate change. These land trusts are willing to shake things up, rethink what it means to conserve land for generations, reimagine climate action, reassess how they can inspire others, and challenge their assumptions about land management and renewables given the pace of climate action needed.
These are the community leaders who are inspiring change. They are showing, by doing, that land trusts can address climate change holistically, and authentically, while being respectful of how they bring their community along in this journey.
Reflections from Judy, April 2023
I’ve been having conversations with folks lately about the state of the country and the world. They aren’t easy discussions. In fact, I often find myself relaying the fact that for me, reading about climate change is less stressful than reading about the uptick in hate, racism, discrimination, and poverty.
People are surprised.
Yet to me, we know how to address climate change. The science is clear. We have the solutions. It’s less costly to take action now than to wait. The American public sees it — and feels it.
That’s not true for many of the other challenges we face as communities and as a country.
Reading about the challenges of climate change helps me envision what we need to do — how we need to scale up our actions and think holistically. It’s an opportunity to ensure that people who often feel left out, undervalued, or disrespected, can feel like they are a significant part of the solution. Assuming that we treat them that way.
You’ll find the articles below provide you with opportunities to share insights both to the challenges and the solutions. We face an urgent situation. There is good news.
We face a unique opportunity through the Inflation Reduction Act, state and community momentum, and a collective desire to conserve the places important for generations to come to slow down climate change in a variety of ways.
Clean water, healthy soils, local food, and places to go and relax. Access to special places for our health and well-being. Economic vitality. Lands critical to wildlife who face the climate disaster at no fault of their own. This is what we are working to protect and address.
We are working together to offer solutions, hope, and action. To do so, we are continually learning, adjusting our approaches, and accelerating the pace of the needed change.
We’ve moved beyond thinking in siloes and instead are focusing on the collective impact of action… and inaction.
Which is why I continue to offer this eNewsletter. My hope is that you find an article, webinar, and/or example that resonates — and share it with others.
Thanks for caring. Thanks for taking action.
Reflections for land trusts, April 2023
I’m hoping that you and your community are okay given another spat of extreme weather across the country.
I’ve been thinking about how we continue to help provide climate solutions at a time when folks are fatigued from Covid, other illnesses, economic stress, and erratic (and often severe) weather.
There is a tendency to let our guard down, to succumb to the status quo, and take the path of least resistance. Some might call that “throwing in the towel.” Others could say it’s just a response to being tired.
The challenge is that our voices are needed more than ever.
We need to be honest about the proposed solutions and how they stack up to the pending climate challenges. We need to provide hope — tangible ways people can make changes to slow down climate change and ensure that policies at the local, regional, state, and national levels will move at a pace, and scope, to significantly halt ongoing climate change acceleration.
As a trusted community voice, land trusts can talk (and many are already talking) about climate challenges and how they impact the lands, waters, and communities they serve.
Some are more transparent than others. By conveying how nature-based solutions are both critical and also dependent on slowing down fossil fuel consumption, we build practical action and trust. Without that dual approach to messaging, nature-based climate solutions won’t be able to thrive due to the climate stress they, too, are facing.
As part of the work to provide hope, we also have to provide vision — vision based upon climate science, innovation, changing understanding related to opportunities, community needs, and the reality that nature needs renewables, more than ever, to survive.
The challenge, as you know, is that renewables need to be designed and installed in ways that work with the land, rather than against it — even at “scale.” That’s possible, especially with the Inflation Reduction Act. We just have to make sure we collectively demand it.
Reflections from Judy, March 2023
Have you found that sometimes there’s a disconnect between what we say we want to do around climate change and the actions we are taking?
Which is why this month’s articles help provide solution-based approaches to climate change while addressing some of the inconsistencies.
I think you’ll appreciate Dr. Katharine Hayhoe’s short video (below) on why a few degrees of overall climate temperature change is a big deal — and it might allow you to explain it to others in terms that resonate. I find it useful to share with others, too.
Also, check out the recently announced funding to support agriculture as part of the climate solution.
That’s good news, as many farmers and ranchers want to be part of the solution, and this funding will support them in that transition.
Then there’s the webinar below on innovative agrivoltaics (solar and farming). I’ve signed up, and I hope you will too. If all goes well, they will explain how solar can work with farming to make it more viable, enhance soil health, and manage climate stress.
Talking about this sort of thing (Farmer First Solar) can feel awkward if you haven’t seen it. But it’s real. Sometimes it’s easier to forget to mention that farms, forests, and the lands and waters we love depend on a thoughtful transition away from fossil fuels. But if we don’t talk about it — and demand it — that’s kind of like false advertising, and ultimately, land and water conservation efforts won’t succeed.
Which is why I appreciate you, and why I send out this eNews. Together, we can create the change that needs to happen. Thanks for caring.
Reflections for land trusts, March 2023
I’m wondering if you’ve been talking with family and friends about nature-based climate solutions. Many folks are unaware that nature-based solutions — the farms and ranches; prairies and grasslands; woodlands and forests; and our streams, wetlands, and waterways — can, and often do, play a critical role in slowing down climate change.
A study by The Nature Conservancy and others is often cited as evidence that nature-based climate solutions could slow down climate change by as much as 37% worldwide. That’s assuming we transition off fossil fuels in a significant way within the next 10 years, so as to avoid overly stressing the plants and landscapes that are at the heart of natural climate solutions.
It’s a relationship in which we need nature and farms/ranches — and they needs us — to slow down climate change before it reaches a tipping point.
The good news is there’s going to be significant funding for nature-based climate solutions (that includes farm and ranchlands) and renewable energy.
As land trusts help to lead the way in nature-based climate solutions they are also beginning to provide examples of renewable energy solutions that work with the land, rather than against it.
Solar is a great example. It can boost farm and ranch viability and increase soil health, water management, and economic stability for farmers through designs that allow the land to be actively used for crops, grazing, large animals, and orchards.
Yet timing remains an issue.
Many folks aren’t aware that there is a carbon “budget.” Once we hit that level of climate pollution it will be difficult to scale it back in a manner that will avoid large-scale devastation to many of the plants, animals, farms, ranches — and our communities — as we know them. At the current rate of emissions, this budget would be exceeded in just nine years.
It’s up to us to let people know what the carbon budget is and that we can make a difference together — with personal and policy actions tapping into the technology, research, and know-how we have now.
Reflections from Judy, February 2023
There’s some good news related to nature-based climate solutions as well as research that makes it clear that we need to invest in renewables for nature-based solutions to live up to their full potential.
By nature-based climate solutions, I mean farms and ranches, prairies and grasslands, forests and woodlands, waters, marshlands, wetlands…and urban trees. Soil health is often talked about as an important part of the climate solution — or part of the climate problem.
Below you’ll find a variety of articles including “alley farming”, solar and agriculture, and the importance of urban trees.
You may be interested in a new study regarding how biodiversity can safeguard birds in a changing climate.
But if you only have time for ONE THING, I recommend you watch the short talk by Frank Luntz about words to use or lose when talking about climate change. He’s a GOP communication specialist who is now credited with refining how climate framing can connect with more people. He’ll tell you more about his past when you watch the video.
I’ll be interested in your thoughts. Thanks for caring.
Reflections from Judy, January 2023
I hope this email finds you safe and well. With extreme weather happening regularly throughout the country, it’s increasingly important for us to check in on one another.
I’m hearing and reading about a general sense of fatigue, in part because of climate change. I thought you might appreciate this article, “The Great Exhaustion: Long-Lasting Pandemic Effects.” While the author isn’t thinking about climate change, we will need to factor in what it’s like to live in today’s world and how to remain positive.
So, what can you do?
Find time to be outside, in nature, at parks, and on trails. Local food is another great way to connect with area farmers and ranchers — and make a difference in slowing down climate change.
Reach out to family and friends. Reserve time to be sad and regroup; denial isn’t helpful nor healthy. Look for bright spots of change and solutions.
And talk about climate change in ways that connect to shared values; suggest small personal actions and include community, regional, statewide, and national solutions. Be willing to shift your own paradigms as new solutions come into view.
I’ve dedicated my career to land conservation — that’s why I’m finding it important to link well-designed renewables, including Farmer First solar, to the health and well-being of our communities, farms, lands, and waters.
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA bill) can help increase land and water conservation, as well as nature-based and renewable energy solutions.
For nonprofits, including land trusts, the IRA bill will effectively allow these organizations, such as affordable housing developers, community-based organizations, and state, local, and tribal governments, to receive the benefits of the Investment Tax Credit as an upfront payment rather than a tax credit.
And, of course, the IRA bill has considerable funding for nature-based climate solutions.
Thank you for being part of this change. It’s a team effort. Together we can help share new insights, solutions, and progress in slowing down climate change.
Reflections for land trusts, December 2022
As winter nears (or, in places like upstate New York where over six feet of snow fell in less than two days), we are hunkering down.
I’ve got our bird feeders up.
There seem to be more birds this year than in the past, which might be a good thing given that we’ve lost more than 1/3 of our bird population in North America to climate change, pesticides, and habitat loss.
I think I’m going to ask for birdseed for Christmas as I’m spending mornings before work, lunchtimes, and now a mid-afternoon break watching the birds. It’s cheaper than climate therapy and might be more impactful.
Indeed, birds are not only a gateway to conservation. They are also a healthy antidote to anxiety, depression, social isolation, general grumpiness, and malaise.
As the days grow shorter, finding joy in birds and the future of the lands and waters is important.
Slowing down climate change can’t be in isolation. Part of our work in land conservation is to bring joy, comfort, and solace to those who need it most. Together, we are working towards a new year with healthier lands, cleaner waters, happier people, and welcoming communities.
Reflections from Judy, November 2022
There’s some good news.
We are seeing more discussion of the drivers behind coastal flooding in the south, erratic weather all over the country, and the stress of trying to farm when droughts, floods, and unsettled weather means a “100-year” event can (and likely will) happen multiple times in a decade or generation.
There’s a realization that what we are witnessing is likely just the beginning of what we can expect if we don’t slow climate change down.
That’s actually a refreshing perspective.
We now face a window of time to encourage communities, friends, and neighbors to support natural climate solutions (soil, grasslands, woodlands, forests, wetlands, and streams) and transition away from fossil fuels as soon as possible.
Sometimes we forget the urgency involved, and there’s a desire to move slowly to figure it out as we go along. Or, as often vocalized by land conservationists, a desire to wait to install ground-mounted solar until all rooftops have solar, for example.
That perspective isn’t practical because of the timeline involved in what is called our “climate budget.”
We know we will need nature-based solutions and renewables to slow down climate change in a timely manner. We also know that ground-mounted renewables can work as partners with farmers if designed appropriately.
So, what’s a climate budget?
It’s related to how fast the Carbon Clock is ticking: how much CO2 can be released into the atmosphere to limit global warming to a maximum of 1.5°C and 2°C, respectively.
Check out this interactive website.
With just one click, you can compare the estimates for both temperature targets and see how much time is left in each scenario.
The work we are doing collectively to slow down climate change in a manner that enhances the lives of those who need us most is more timely than ever.
Together, we are giving voice to the need to change our perspectives on how we take action — and how fast we need to do that — to save what we can for future generations.
Thank you for being part of this change.