Reflections from Judy, June 2022
How have you been experiencing a changing climate of late?
For me, this past May was notable for a number of reasons. I traveled to New Mexico to be part of the Land Trust Alliance training team for executive directors. This was the first time in two-and-a-half years that I had flown. It was, as you might expect, a semi-nightmare as extreme weather caused flight cancellations. It took me almost 36 hours to reach Santa Fe.
Fires were raging, with hundreds of firefighters staying in the area. Every time we saw a firefighter we thanked them.
Then, there was the announcement, per The New York Times, that “the concentration of [carbon dioxide] gas reached nearly 421 parts per million in May, the peak for the year, as power plants, vehicles, farms, and other sources around the world continued to pump huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Emissions totaled 36.3 billion tons in 2021, the highest level in history.
“As the amount of carbon dioxide increases, the planet keeps warming — with effects like increased flooding, more extreme heat, drought, and worsening wildfires that are already being experienced by millions of people worldwide.”
Oy. And that’s just two of many revelations.
There are those who throw up their hands and say, “Whatever…” And I know it’s overwhelming and often frustrating.
I too wonder what difference I am making. Yet we can’t give up.
We have a moral obligation to work together to transition to compatible renewables and find climate solutions that will support the lands, waters, communities, and people we love. We have a window of time to lead, to recognize that old paradigms of what it means to be a land conservationist, or a community member, are shifting.
There is urgency. And there are solutions. There is funding. And there’s opportunity. We just need to knit them together.
Reflections for land trusts, May 2022
Remember the song with the line, “Oh, the weather outside is frightful…“? Yes, it’s from Let it Snow! and it’s been in my head lately. Not because of the snow, but rather the crazy weather we’ve been experiencing.
Here in upstate New York, we’ve had fifty-degree temperature swings in two days. That’s not great if you suffer from migraines that are triggered by pressure differentials; it’s not great for a lot of reasons.
But here’s the thing: an estimated 72% of Americans believe climate change is real. That’s hopeful.
With the growing urgency to transition off fossil fuels — and finding ways for renewables to work with lands and waters, while accelerating land protection, restoration, and natural climate solutions — funding is increasing in various ways.
Check out New Jersey, New York, Illinois, and Minnesota. There are more examples, for sure. Here’s a list of Funding Opportunities from the U.S. Climate Resilience Tool Kit. And agriculture — as one of the highest stressed industries by climate change — is also leaning in. The USDA will invest $1 billion in climate-smart commodities, expanding markets, and strengthening rural America
The question is, how are land trusts helping their communities take advantage of these opportunities? How agile are the conservation groups in your region to shift, grow, adapt, and persuade in a changing landscape?
How might you help elevate new thinking and new approaches to climate solutions to increase people’s commitment to making timely, and impactful, change?
You can start by sharing climate solutions on social media and connecting to what people care about. You might find one of the examples below something that could inspire hope or change.
If you’d like more ideas about solution-based, conservation-related, examples check out hundreds of examples on my website. The reason Kate Belton and I continue to provide this email, and catalog the articles online, is to make it easy for you to share climate solutions and encourage new thinking and leadership from land conservation organizations.
Thanks for caring, and sharing, about how land trusts are working to slow down climate change.
Reflections from Judy, May 2022
This month, I want to share how much I appreciate your efforts to talk about climate change and solutions to slow it down.
The key is to connect around shared values and ensure that the solutions we propose don’t come across as elitist or out-of-touch. Telling stories about why you care, and why you are doing your part, will create a sense of shared purpose and change.
I rely on people like you to give me hope and to spread the word about taking action. Thank you.
Reflections for land trusts, April 2022
I’m noticing that more and more land trusts are “leaning in” and talking about climate change. They’re working to find shared values and positive solutions, and increasingly connecting the urgency of slowing down climate change to save the very things they (and you) love.
For many, that means helping people understand that natural climate solutions are less than half of the solution — and that the success of those natural climate solutions rests on transitioning soon to renewables.
But not just any renewables. Instead, advocating for what I call “compatible” renewables. Those that help pollinators, soil health, farm viability, and water management: those that add dual value.
You’ll find several examples of that type of approach below, with American Farmland Trust working to change the narrative around solar — and demonstrate how it can be beneficial for farmers and farms alike.
Check out the work that these land trusts are doing to encourage new conversations and approaches related to climate solutions. I’m interested to see what resonates with you, and I’d love to hear your thoughts if you have a minute.
Reflections from Judy, April 2022
I hope this email finds you to be OK. Here, in Kinderhook, it’s predicted to be 80 degrees. In April.
All over the country, the weather has been whacky. Flooding. Snowstorms. Hail. Fires. Tornados. Extreme winds. It’s enough to make you run and hide.
It’s no surprise. The recent climate report made it very clear that we are going to have to move away from fossil fuels rapidly and that farms, forests, woodlands, wetlands, and grasslands are an important part of the natural climate solution.
As shared by The Nature Conservancy, “the latest IPCC report shows greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, and current plans to address climate change are not ambitious enough to limit warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels — a threshold scientists believe is necessary to avoid even more catastrophic impacts.”
The key is to remember that natural climate solutions are central to pulling climate polluting gasses from the air (and helping to manage extreme weather events). They can help reduce the impacts of extreme weather. And they can provide for better production of food, assist with plant and animal survival, and improve water quality.
But we must also realize that we will need to support these natural climate change solutions by finding ways to increase energy conservation and move to renewables. Soon.
It will take a dual approach. And it will take leadership to reshape expectations and what is considered conservation work.
Research is documenting the opportunities — and the challenges — of our response to climate change. There is an opportunity to share articles, stories, and vision.
That’s part of the reason I select these articles for you; my hope is that you will share them with others and work them into your own conversations with friends, family, and your community.
Change won’t happen by chance. But neither will land and water conservation. That’s why I know that you know how to lean in — and make the change we need, happen.
Reflections for land trusts, late March 2022
I hope this email finds you well. I continue to grapple with the climate news, the war in the Ukraine, and how they are actually linked.
I don’t know if you’ve been following this line of thinking, but there’s a lot of data on what this means.
There is also the realization that we can turn this around. Check out this post, “Feed People, Power Economies, Foster Peace with Agrivoltaics.”
At a time when it’s important to lean in, and provide hope, land trusts are providing a bright spot in climate action. Many are embracing natural climate solutions, including regenerative agriculture, prairies, older growth trees, and restoration.
Others are realizing that without energy conservation and renewables, those natural climate solutions are increasingly at risk. As a result, they are talking about the importance of well-designed, and scaled, renewables and the dual benefits of land conservation. That’s leadership — because conservation folks haven’t historically seen the urgency of renewables.
There’s recognition that urban, suburban, and rural conservation efforts are intertwined with climate action. Local conservation, and local energy, is now something that can — and should — work together. The saying, “Think globally; act locally,” has a new ring to it in the face of war.
The examples below capture some of this three-pronged approach to climate action: natural climate solutions, energy conservation, and renewables.
That’s very hopeful.
Reflections from Judy, March 2022
Good morning. There has been so much recent press about new climate changes, including an important study, that it was hard to choose what to include for you this week.
I’ve decided to provide you with a variety of articles so you can skim to find what is of interest to you.
The first is a new study that’s stating what you already know. As noted in The New York Times, “the dangers of climate change are mounting so rapidly that they could soon overwhelm the ability of both nature and humanity to adapt, creating a harrowing future in which floods, fires, and famine displace millions, species disappear, and the planet is irreversibly damaged, a major new scientific report has concluded.”
Ack. That’s enough to send me running for the woods.
So, what are we to do?
Stay focused. Stay hopeful. Be creative. And be honest. And don’t give up.
Encourage your local land trust to start exploring how dual-use solar, and elevated solar, can help with farm viability, soil health, and water management. Elevated solar can help with dairy and cattle stress, and erratic markets, too. You already know about solar grazing — and growing crops.
Encourage your local community, and statewide representatives to understand that dual-use solar can help with pollinators — at a time when there is a national crisis due to lack of habitat and pesticides, and climate stress.
Show folks what the future could be — and don’t settle for solar with the sole purpose of producing energy. Gound-mounted solar energy is critical, but it can, and should, be dual-use.
The good news is that there’s lots of evidence that we can make the shift.
Let’s show communities and policy leaders that we can be responsive, creative, and realistic in our efforts to find solutions that will slow down climate change, now, while simultaneously working to enhance the land, waters, and places we love.
Reflections for land trusts, March 2022
With all that’s going on in the world, I’m looking for hope in humanity.
Land trusts are partnering with others to help be part of that change and the examples below show that their creative solutions and ideas are working.
Perhaps you’ll find their work inspiring as well.
Thanks for caring.
Reflections from Judy, February 2022
There’s a lot of interesting research related to the impacts of climate change on land and water — and there are some good insights on how natural climate solutions, coupled with renewables, can help slow them down.
Top of mind, of course, is talking about both the challenge of climate change and the solutions that are here — now — to slow it down. That perspective is increasingly important as we also recognize that pollinators are stressed by lack of habitat, pesticides, extreme weather, and now pollution.
Given the critical nature of pollinators, and their ongoing significant decline, there is an opportunity to talk about the benefits of prioritizing their survival as it relates to human health and well-being as well as the overall landscape.
I thought you’d appreciate the map below related to “Good News” and habitat restoration efforts. The article clarifies how to use the map, and some of the caveats, but it’s an interesting bit of data for you.
Thanks for caring, and for helping to shift the paradigm so that people understand that climate action needs to be now, and that nature and farms need well-designed renewables for their survival.
Reflections for land trusts, February 2022
Happy Groundhog Day.
Whether we will face an early spring or an extended winter, frankly, in defense of groundhogs everywhere, the weather is increasingly hard to predict :-).
We know that climate change is making extreme weather more frequent, while at the same time making “regular” weather more erratic. The impacts on plants, animals, and communities are now widespread, contributing to farming and ranching stress as well as the sixth extinction that is human-driven (here’s a short article about it, and a book you might like).
That’s why one of the goals of the monthly Land Trusts Taking Action (to slow down climate change) issue is to elevate the good work land trusts are doing — and inspire others to follow. It’s not always easy to find these examples, but they’re out there, as you will see below.
Land trusts are recognizing that ramping up the pace of conservation in a changing world is central to the long-term survival of those lands, and the communities that rely on them. So too, folks like you and I are realizing that we need to model the behavior we wish to see — and keep learning, adapting, and sharing new information as it relates to climate action.
If you want, email me your thoughts about the types of efforts you’d like to see land trusts doing more of — and I’ll specifically look for those examples. Thanks for caring.