Love Letters to the Planet

REFLECTIONS AND AN INVITATION TO ACTION FROM MEMBERS OF THE USNF CLIMATE ACTION GROUP

OPENING WORDS
From Oren Lyons (adapted)
I do not see a delegation for the four-footed, or the insects.  I see no seat for the eagles. 
We forget and we consider ourselves superior, but we are after all a mere part of the whole.
We stand between the mountain and the ant, somewhere and there only, as part and parcel of the Creation.
And we must continue to understand where we are. 
It is our responsibility, since we have been given the minds, and the hearts, to take care of these things.

From Molly Hale:  Falling in Love with the Earth

I am in love, wonderstruck, with life on Earth.  It began with fairy villages made of moss, acorn caps and British Soldier lichen…  With imagining rock formations to be Giants’ shoes and baby Giants’ shoes.  At a young age I experienced the exhilaration of being on top of the world on rocky Adirondack peaks, taking in the sweeping expanse of wildness below as we sought nooks protected from the cold, raw energy of the wind.  As a teen I collected wild edibles, paddled Canadian whitewater, and made moccasins from moose hide.

My developing love of Nature was matched by my intense curiosity about how things work.  The more I learned the more awestruck I became.  I am humbled by the bounty of marvelous, stunning, and intricate mechanisms that together result in the cornucopia of life on this planet.

Consider:  the strands of DNA that encode whether we are an amoeba or an elephant; the process by which plants can make carbohydrates from CO2, water and sunlight; frogs that produce antifreeze to survive the winter; the entire community of mites, bugs, and spiders inhabiting a tiny piece of moss; the fact that spiders spin at least 3 different kinds of silk for different purposes, and more and more.

The more I learn, the more I feel enmeshed into the miraculous web of life.  It is part of me and I am part of it.  But the web is unraveling.  My first therapy sessions decades ago were about the grief I felt that the natural world, my spiritual place of reverence and solace, was being drawn and quartered, stamped out, suffocated and defiled.  Back then it was about malls replacing forests, acid rain sterilizing lakes and rainforests being destroyed.  But the combination of grief and connection motivated me to try to live my life with a soft footprint, with moosehide moccasins instead of heavy boots. 

When I became a mother in 1995 my fears and concerns about the environment, and increasingly, about climate disruption, took on a more personal, human-centered focus.  When I learn of new babies now, I am ambivalent.  What kind of dystopia will these precious beings have to endure?  How much worse will it be for anyone born with few resources and opportunities?

Climate destabilization now threatens even the very existence of life on this planet.

It defies comprehension that I—and you, my fellow Earth travelers—are here at this very moment among the billions of years of Earth’s history when our decisions could either rescue or doom the conditions needed for survival by much of the life on our planet.  And honestly, I’m pessimistic that the level and speed of change necessary to halt climate destabilization will be attained.

So what motivates me to work on climate activism despite my pessimistic outlook? 


I know that there’s still a tiny chance, requiring extraordinarily swift reductions in carbon emissions, that we can limit global warming to the limit the Paris Agreement calls for.  That is  only half a degree above where we’re currently at.  I also know that every degree we can keep the earth from warming is one less order of magnitude of suffering that might be avoided. 

On a day-to day basis, what really keeps me going is the camaraderie and shared reality of our USNF Climate Action Group, and connections to a Valley-wide network of folks committed to do what we can.  I’m galvanized as I see more and more people making their voices heard and integrating awareness of climate disruption into all their decisions.  Maybe, we can help achieve a good kind of tipping point, and enough politicians will finally move to enact substantial governmental policies that can avert catastrophe. 

Maybe I’m a foolish lover.  But that’s my hope, and that’s why I do what I do.

From Sarah Metcalf:  Children of the Earth

For Sarah's illustrated reflection, click here: Children of the Earth

From Ed Olmstead:  Love in Action

Hi, my name is Ed Olmstead. I’m part of the Climate Action Group here. As others have said, when I think about the enormity of taking on the task of slowing or reversing global warming, it can feel discouraging. But the truth is, we don’t know where the tipping point is that will change our global trajectory from self-harm toward healing. It could be closer or farther away than we think.

In fact, have been feeling encouraged and even energized. This is partly a personal choice. I have the privilege of being able to make some choices right now. I love this blue green planet and am saddened by the harm being done. I ask myself, what is love telling me to do? The answer: Focus on finding hope. Hope that feeds my energy to act.
In a few minutes we’re going to invite all of you to choose climate actions that you’d like to commit to. I am focusing on legislative efforts you can join. This piece of paper has some suggestions of specific things you can do to join with others in on-going and emerging legislative-related efforts.

We are fortunate to live in an amazing part of Massachusetts where friends and neighbors are enthusiastically contributing their talents, time, and energy to the global effort to move humans away from self-destruction.

In January Climate Action Now of Western Mass joined with other groups across the state to influence the writing of and advocate for co-sponsorship of three pieces of legislation. Up until the last week of January it seemed that the goal of getting a majority of House members to cosponsor this legislation by February 2nd was slipping away. But, through concerted and persistent efforts, SUCCESS! two of the bills gained greater than solid majority of co-sponsors.
 
Now these bills need to make their way through the legislative process, be brought up for a vote, and voted in. This is where you can come in. You can join one of these groups. Your energy is needed and welcomed.
I encourage you write to your Representative to thank them if they co-sponsored any of these bills. On the back of this handout are the names of the representative who supported one or more of the identified bills. There is also the link that allows you to find your representative and their contact information.

What are those three bills? First, An Act to Promote Green infrastructure and Reduce Carbon Emissions (also know as Fair Carbon-Pricing and Rebate bill). The bill puts a fair price on carbon emissions at the source and provides for 30% of the revenue to go for creating green infrastructure. 70% goes back to citizens prioritizing those people and businesses most affected by the increased price of fuel.

The 100% renewable bill, which sets 100% renewable electricity generation by 2035 and 100% in all sectors by 2050 at the latest.
Then, there are two related environmental justice bills that recognizes that low income communities and communities of color have been disproportionately affected by fossil fuel pollution and need more help and more rights in this transition to clean energy.

There are more ideas and more specific information on here about how to get involved, including a list offered at the end of this page. I offer these as doorways to joining others in this work.

From Nick Warren – Invitation to Act

We hope you’ve been moved and inspired by what we’ve shared. The Climate Action Team here at USNF invites all of you to join us as we begin a Year of the Climate: a year of greater personal commitment to fighting climate change and preserving our planet home. 

You may have seen the article in this morning’s NY Times about the value of panic in moving us forward.  The challenge is daunting.  And all of us struggle continuously with decisions about what to do, where to direct our finite energies to most effectively fight climate change.  Today, we have information and inspiration for things that you can do to give yourself courage and hope AND to add weight to the balance, to reach the tipping point where, as Ed said, “we collectively have the will and power to change the trajectory from self-harm to healing."

There are four areas:
Youth Movements             Legislative Actions

Personal Actions                 Local Actions and Groups you can support


We hope each of you will find at least one place to sign your commitment – one new action you can take, one more measure of weight you will add to the balance, to change the trajectory. 

COVENANT

People in the congregation circulated throughout our Great Hall, learning about opportunities for action and commitment, and signing up as and where they chose.  As a congregation, we recited the following covenant:

We will let this be our love letter, and our covenant with the earth and one another:

We will work to understand our place in the web of creation,
even when frightened, or discouraged, or ambivalent. 
We will take up the torch of care for our planet home,
as we can, when we can, as much as we can.
We will respect and support one another in doing this together. 
It is our responsibility to take care of these things.

 

LEGISLATIVE ACTIONS AS OF FEBRUARY 2019

Attend Climate Action Now (CAN) monthly meetings the 4th Monday of each month rotating between Amherst Unitarian Church and First Churches in Northampton.

Attend the next CAN meeting: Monday, February 25, arrive at 6:45 for the 7:00 – 9:00 at First Churches, Northampton and hear how to get involved in the new group on Farms, Forests, and Food Systems.

Or Contact Dave Roitman directly to get involved in the F, F, and FS group at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or C: 413 535 7173.

Get on the Sierra Club phone calling list (generally to make 5 to 10 easy calls in a day or two). Call Lilly Lombard MA Sierra Club Peer Outreach Coordinator at 413-207-5899 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Join the Carbon-Pricing and Rebate Group by contacting Mary Jo Maffei 413-259-1263 or

cell 413-265-6390 and/or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. She will be glad to talk with you about a variety of administrative tasks that can be done as well as direct advocacy work to move this Carbon-Pricing and Rebate bill along the legislative process.

Go the Carbon-Pricing and Rebate Group meeting every other Tuesday from 9:00 to 11:00 at Panera’s in Hadley. Next meeting February 19th.

CAN General Legislative Work Group:

*Join the legislative work group each month on the second Monday of the month at 7 PM at the Amherst Unitarian Church (around to the left side entrance near the back of the church). 

*Sign up with email addresses to join the Group’s Rapid Response Teams for different legislative lobbying efforts including soon going to our Congress people on the Federal level. Turn Over

 

Write Thank You Cards to your representative or senator who sponsored or co-sponsored targeted climate legislation last month. Find you legislator at https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator

Those who cosponsored all 5 (Benson’s Carbon Pricing bill HD 2370; Ehrlich's TCI bill HD 3009; Decker and Garballey’s 100% Renewable Energy bill HD 3092; and the two Environmental Justice bills- Madaro’s HD 3878 and Dubois’ HD 3523) include:

Natalie Blais, Mindy Domb, Carlos Gonzalez, Paul Mark, Lindsay Sabadosa, Jose Tosado

Those who cosponsored 4 of them:

Dan Carey (he cosponsored all except one of the EJ bills)

Those who cosponsored 3:

Aaron Vega (cosponsored Benson bill, 100% renewable energy, and the DuBois EJ bill) John Velis (cosponsored Benson bill, TCI bill and 100% renewable energy bill)

Those who cosponsored 2:

Brian Ashe (Benson bill and TCI bill)

Angelo Puppolo (Benson bill and 100% renewable energy bill)

Those who cosponsored 1:

Smitty Pignatelli (Benson bill)