Words from Andrea

Guest post by: Andrea Ranger

Andrea Ranger lives in Somerville, MA and frets over climate change.  When not actively fretting she volunteers for the Somerville Commission on Energy Use & Climate Change which advises the city ways to reduce its climate impact and anticipate adaptive changes.  She belongs to First Church Somerville, a congregational church on College Ave, which hosted the 2010 Eastern MA Climate Riders.  From buying local food to making energy efficiency upgrades, the church is learning to embrace its role in climate activism.  This year First Church has a brand new vegetable garden to share with those who may not have access to fresh food.

The now renowned Climate Riders descended upon First Church Somerville in their matching orange shirts in the last week of June 2010.  They had just completed the 30 mile ride from Wenham on the first, of what would turn out to be many, hot, sticky days.  Between working with Somerville Climate Action, Groundwork Somerville, First Church and meeting with the mayor, we kept them quite busy, and I’m sure they have posted about all of that.  So, rather than recreate their visit, I’ll take a more personal approach and talk about what their visit meant to me.

On the first day, I made a Climate Rider faux pas and asked Bliss if she needed a ride to the grocery store.  Whoops.  No, thank you.  She informed me that the orange clad team was not allowed to travel by automobile during the extent of their summer journey.  Oh.  At first I thought I was doing her a favor, but, it turns out, she was doing me a favor.  I stopped to think – I need to put my car on blocks for a while and figure out how to travel more sustainably.  I jumped on my bike more.  It felt like I improved my posture in front of the local Ms. Manners.  “I can do better than I’ve been doing.  I can straighten up and be proud of my sustainable choices.”  Thanks, Bliss.

And I saw the Climate Riders at different events all week, watched them talk about the “why” of the New England Climate Summer.  Saw that Sara isn’t one for shoes, Bliss plays a very funny maple tree, and Margaret, at a tender 17, holds a quiet dignity.  Yingying has moved on, but her passion for combatting climate change in China stays with me.

All of the talk, the outreach, the logistics…THE MEANING really hit me when we all hosted and watched the film, “A Sea Change”. A simple, but well-shot and well-edited documentary on the slow but startling changes occurring in our oceans.  Yes, our oceans, the wells of life.  It’s been pointed out that most of Earth is covered with oceans and should more properly be called Oceania.  Well, Oceania is not doing so well.  Long a sink for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (since the Industrial Revolution), the oceans are becoming more acid.  Some of the zooplankton can’t maintain their shells if the water becomes too acidic.  Let me translate here:  The bottom of the food chain is starting to unravel.

The film didn’t have to use graphics, tall tales, ice core samples, just a reasoned, thoughtful older gentleman who took us through the research.  Talked to the scientists.  And even visited a few buildings running on ground source heat pumps and the like.

More than any other facts, horror stories, and warnings, “A Sea Change” made it clear to me that we’ve all got to do a “We Change”.  Not a little later, not incrementally.  A lot. NOW!

Andrea Ranger: living green!

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One Response to Words from Andrea

  1. Bill Wilt says:

    I don’t know whether you’ve seen this YouTube lecture by Colorado U. Prof. Albert A. Bartlett on “Arithmetic, Population, and Energy.” (YouTube Title is “The most important video you’re ever see.”) I haven’t seen Sea Change, but from Bartlett’s lecture it becomes very clear that our (as in humans) constant harping on “economic growth,” and “the economy is growing,” is just plain insane. To just barely survive, we need for “economic growth” to stop, dead in its tracks. And we need a population growth, as well, of Zero. The planet can’t sustain our species if “growth” is continued, because, as Bartlett points out, if you divide the “growth rate” percentage into 70 (something like the log 2 of something), you’ll get the “doubling time” of whatever it is you’d so cheerily wish to be “growing at a steady rate.” Seven per cent growth has a doubling time of 10 years, so if it’s population growing at that rate, say Boston’s population would go from 630,000 (can’t find the actual 2010a census figures) to 1,260,000 in 2020, 2,520,000 in 2030, 5,040,000 in 2040. Fortunately, Boston’s population number seems to be shrinking—a good thing.

    I think it’s a more “blow your mind” lecture than Al Gore’s Climate Change, because this is all about the simple “arithmetic,” he calls it, not math, of exponential functions. Suggesting that we all of us need to do far more than merely change our OWN habits, but rather, take on change in our own villages, cities, states (and nation & the Big Blue(ish) Marble). And/or get busy on developing cosmic telekinetic transportation.

    Here’s the hyperlink to the entire eight-part playlist.

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