Reflections for land trusts, June 2019
I’m hoping this email finds you and your community safe. I’m sure you can see it yourself: there has been an increase in extreme weather that is being caused, increasingly, by climate change and the chaos it wreaks. Research continues to clarify that the destabilization of the jet stream, and the warming oceans, are significant factors.
The good news is that slowly, but surely, land conservation groups are realizing that they need to help their communities connect the dots and respond in a way that slows down climate change…soon.
More and more, I find examples of land trusts taking action, as well as the business sector realizing that it, too, has a role to play. It’s encouraging.
You might find this graphic helpful to understand what is happening and what is at stake.
I’m hoping you can encourage your community and local land trust to invest in conservation, energy efficiency, and renewables. We have a limited amount of time to make that happen to keep the lands and waters you love, intact, as you know them.
Reflections from Judy, May 2019
I’ve been thinking about climate leadership.
Greta Thunberg, one of the most effective climate leaders we have yet to see, is just 16 years of age. Her secret? Facing the climate crisis as a crisis, speaking truth in a way that empowers others, using language and metaphors people can relate to, and disrupting the everyday process of “business as usual” by noting that “doing the same” will end the world as we know it.
She understands the science. She understands the urgency. She grapples with climate sorrow. And yet, she is drawing people from all walks of life (and the world’s leaders) together to face the need for change.
I’m hoping that your local land trust—as well as land trusts who work throughout the nation—will follow suit to change course, and soon.
If your land trust took just two hours a week to elevate the need for climate action through partnerships, communications, programming, and team learning, it might be the most important conservation work it does as an organization to save the special places we all care about. Conserving land to minimize development is helpful when conserving important conservation attributes—but we know that it won’t be nearly enough given what climate change, at its current accelerating rate, will do.
Starting now, we have a chance to be part of the solution at a level that matches the risks to the lands, waters, and communities we have pledged to conserve. For Greta, and now thousands of students, this means one day per week. For you? Maybe it’s talking with friends, family, colleagues, or community organizations to help people around you connect the dots. We all have to start somewhere. And I’m here, walking this path with you.
Reflections for land trusts, May 2019
Have you ever asked what the role of the United States is with regard to climate change and how that has played out over time?
You can now watch an animated portrayal of global climate emissions since 1750.
A recent article from Vox notes that “humans are pumping more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at an accelerating rate. But climate change is a cumulative problem, a function of the total amount of greenhouse gases that have accumulated in the sky. Some of the heat-trapping gases in the air right now date back to the Industrial Revolution. And since that time, some countries have pumped out vastly more carbon dioxide than others.”
The animation shows the cumulative carbon dioxide emissions from the top emitters and how they’ve changed over time.
The good news is that land conservationists and people like you (who care), including a lot of those working with farmers and ranchers as noted below, are working to accelerate how they are slowing down climate change.
I’m hopeful that other land trusts will elevate the need to go beyond conservation as we have known it and raise the importance of slowing down climate change while there is still time to retain the plants, animals, water, and communities we cherish.
It will take more than land protection in North America to provide a meaningful climate impact (although it’s a good place to start). Rebuilding soils (forest, prairie, and agricultural), advocating for energy conservation, accelerating renewables, and managing land for long-term carbon sequestration are now part of a future necessary for conservation to thrive.
I look forward to hearing from you about examples of land trusts doing just that. In the meantime, see what you think of the three below.
Reflections from Judy, April 2019
There have been more serious climate warning signs stacking up of late. I’ve been grappling with what I call “climate sorrow,” which has resulted in an increased consumption of chocolate and the realization that we (or at least me) will need to build a stronger sense of community among those in the conservation sector who understand the urgency of the climate situation.
We also need humor, frank conversations, and plenty of encouragement not to give up. Because of that, I wanted to share with you an insight from Vu Le of Nonprofit AF. In his post entitled “If you’re feeling hopeless of late, remember that your work matters and you do too,” Le shares the following:
“With so many things facing all of us, it is easy to fall into despair, to think about giving up, maybe to quit the sector and open a stall at the local farmer’s market or something (though I hear that’s tough too!) If you’re feeling that way of late, know you are not alone, and recognize that the more you care about the world, the more painful your work will be sometimes.
But always remember that you make a difference, that your actions have ripple effects far beyond what you may ever be able to see or know. As Gandhi says:
‘It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.’
When it is so tempting to walk away, and sometimes that’s for the best, thank you for always continuing to do something to make the world better.”
Today—and every day—I thank you for working to slow down climate change as fast as we can. The next 10-15 years will be critical: conservation as usual won’t be enough to save the lands, waters, animals, and communities we cherish.
Reflections for land trusts, April 2019
As spring shifts into gear throughout the country, climate change is increasingly on peoples’ minds.
There is a growing awareness that conserving the places we love will require that we change our approach to conservation. It will take new partnerships and building a more inclusive and responsive “tent for change.” Research currently postulates that natural solutions could play a role of up to 30% in our work to slow down climate change; the other 70% will need to come from switching to renewables and increasing energy efficiency.
This means ramping up natural solutions and thinking about renewables differently—not as something to fight—but instead as a solution we must embrace for long-term conservation. Changing our approach to climate change also means working to find ways to make renewables compatible with the plants, animals, and communities we are working to conserve, to the greatest extent possible.
And, it means bringing others along in the journey of helping to slow down climate change, soon. Unlike other challenges, when we decide to dramatically reverse climate change, things won’t “right themselves.” The impacts we are already seeing will last for generations. That’s why it’s inspiring to see conservation groups and other community groups, take leadership positions while there is still time.
I wanted to relay that the articles below are designed for you to skim and find something relevant to you—or to those you know. You may want to read them all or you may want to read one or two, or just watch the video. That’s totally OK. In fact, it’s expected given how busy everyone is. The good news is that you will be able to refer to them later on my website, should you want to read them again.
Reflections from Judy, March 2019
I wanted to share with you some really interesting research related to the viability of agriculture and wildlife habitat in relation to renewables and solar.
The news related to climate change is getting increasingly grim, with the vast majority of climate scientists (over 97%) stating that the window for action is closing.
That means that you and I—and the conservation groups who have pledged to conserve farms, forests, wildlife habitats, and special places—need to take action and encourage creative solutions to reduce fossil fuels as soon as we can. The longer we wait, the more species are at risk, and the more our communities face economic and health challenges.
Which is why it’s encouraging to see that organizations like The Nature Conservancy, National Audubon Society, and Scenic Hudson are ramping up their messaging to help people like you and me connect the dots—and empower conservation to partner with renewables as part of the solution.
Please join me in thinking about those who are grappling with the extreme weather of late. My heart goes out to them and their communities. I’m hopeful that we can support state and national policies to help provide support to those in need as well as connect the dots in a manner that will clarify the need to slow climate change down.
Reflections for land trusts, March 2019
There is some encouraging news out there in the world of climate change.
Land conservation groups are realizing that they need to rethink what it means to conserve land and water in “perpetuity” (for generations to come). That means that these groups are starting to help their communities understand what they can do to slow down climate change—beyond continuing “business as usual.”
The Nature Conservancy is increasingly helping to lead the way in this area by talking about the importance of renewable energy, energy conservation, and land conservation work for the benefit of plants, animals, and communities.
Smaller conservation groups, like the Taos Land Trust (check out their Facebook feed), are helping to connect the dots. Some groups are working to figure out how they could promote solar farms and wind installations, and partner with climate groups to motivate more people to act.
It’s not as hard as you might think. And it doesn’t require a ton of time. Check out Katharine Hayhoe’s TED Talk, as well as the examples below.
Reflections from Judy, February 2019
I don’t know about you, but here in upstate New York, I’m done with winter. The extreme cold, insane winds, yo-yo temperatures and rains…let’s move on and call it a day. I can’t wait for spring…
But the reality is that unless we slow climate change down—and soon—the weather is going to get increasingly extreme and erratic. That puts stress on farmers and those who make a living on the land as well as everyday folks like you and me. It also puts thousands of species at risk of extinction. We, as conservationists, take the long view and recognize how interconnected our lives are to the lands, waters, and communities we share.
That means we carry an added responsibility to elevate climate change because we know what’s happening. As people who understand and trust science, we see the future risks. We know that we have only 12-15 years to move to renewables…and that means changing our definition of how we approach land and water conservation—and what it needs for generations to come.
It’s a paradigm shift that we have to make. A generation from now, people will ask what you did to help. I think about that almost every day. I’m banking on the fact that together, we can make the change.
Reflections for land trusts, February 2019
The year is starting off in a very hopeful way. Land trusts are beginning to recognize that they can play a key role in slowing down climate change—and they are doing just that. It’s a natural place for land trusts to be.
The timing couldn’t be better as research has documented that climate change is accelerating, with wildlife and agriculture facing an ever-greater threat and communities grappling with more extreme weather.
Land trusts are, by nature, problem solvers. Add to that—they work with communities, have experience in partnerships and lobbying for conservation initiatives, and have pledged to conserve the lands and waters in their region…in perpetuity.
Slowing down climate change in a meaningful way—and fast enough to avoid massive species die-off and tremendous stresses to agriculture, our economy, and way of life—will take all of us.
Below are a couple of examples of land trusts taking action.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you know of other organizations or people who are doing inspiring work, please send me an email.
Reflections from Judy, January 2019
There have been some interesting weather events this week. Australia and New Zealand are literally cooking, and here in the northern hemisphere, we are experiencing crazy-cold weather. That’s not by chance. Science is linking warming oceans, the melting of polar ice, and deep freezes and heat events as related to climate change.
The impact on our communities, wildlife, agriculture, and cultural landscapes can’t be underestimated.
That’s why it’s good news that land trusts and the communities we live in are recognizing the urgency of slowing down climate change—including absorbing carbon pollution via trees and soils, and ramping up our renewables as fast as we can. This work is central to conserving the land and waters we love.
Thank you for caring and for inspiring others to take action. If you have topics you want me to cover on slowing climate change down, let me know.