Now is the Time to Write a Letter to the Editor About the Paris Climate Talks

Have you been meaning to write a letter to the editor about some issue having to do with climate change, but get bogged down with things like where to send it, and whether you have all your facts straight? Well, here are two things to know:

1) The Paris Climate talks are now in full swing, and there will not be a better time to get the public to pay attention to what is going on, nor will there be a better time to put pressure on our representatives in Washington and in Des Moines that the time for doing nothing is over.

2) Citizens Climate Lobby has made it really easy to send a personal letter to the editor of all the newspapers in your geographical area. Go to the Citizen’s Climate Lobby website for more information. This link includes talking points to help you put your letter together.

Iowa City Climate Activists (ICCA) November 18 Meeting Notes

About 14 people showed up, a mixture of regulars and new people, many of whom are UIowa students taking a sustainability class.
• An overview of ICCA, CCL (Citizens Climate Lobby) and Fee & Dividend was presented, followed by going around the room and introducing ourselves. During that process, we ended up going off on various interesting tangents and having interesting discussions. A brief summary:
⁃ The Iowa City City Council will be having a planning session to work on the Strategic Plan on 11/30/15 from 1 pm to around 6 pm. Among the proposals that will be brought up will be one focusing on city issues related to climate change. Jim Throgmorton will report back to us on that planning session.
⁃ Attempts are being made to get the City, the County and the University to meet and work together on issues related to climate change (this is already being done on issues related to economic development).
⁃ We talked about how the Bakken pipeline hearings last week saw a conflict between labor (those who support the pipeline because of the good jobs it will create for pipeline workers, who make a career of so-called temporary jobs like this) and environmental stewardship. It was pointed out that building the infrastructure for alternatives to fossil fuel also provides good construction jobs. In order to learn about and address that perceived conflict, it was suggested that we meet will local labor leaders and hear what they have to say about this issue. Jim suggested Bill Gerhardt, President of the Building Trades Council, and Jesse Case, President of the City Federation of Labor. Jim will invite one or both of them to meet with us in mid-January, perhaps at our January meeting. It was suggested that we meet them at their office/workplace.
⁃ We talked about the Paris Climate Talks coming up, which start November 30. Linda Quinn mentioned that 100 Grannies might be organizing some kind of action around that, but the details are not known yet.
⁃ While talking about sustainability in housing, we noted that landlords of apartment buildings are not motivated to invest in things such as easy recycling, good insulation, quality windows, efficient air-conditioning and heating, etc. In an effort to learn about and, perhaps, eventually, address this problem, Salome Phillman will do some research on how other cities might be approaching this problem, and report back to us at our December meeting if possible. Also, Barbara Eckstein will contact Ely Shepard (currently a student at Grinnell but previously a high school student in Iowa City who was active in this area) to see if he can meet with us and tell us what he knows about this issue. Taking pictures of apartments where these kinds of problems are visible was also suggested.d
⁃ Andrew Guttman suggested we see if the Johnson County Board of Supervisors would approve a resolution supporting Fee and Dividend. Andrew will look into this and report back to us.
⁃ I reminded everyone to please notify me ( or Eric Johnson ( when you send letters to the editor, to any of your representatives, or had an op-ed piece published, both for our own records and to share with CCL, as they like to track these things. Also, notify one of us if you have anything you would like posted on the web page.

We meet the third Wednesday of every month from 7-8:30 pm. Our next meeting will be December 16, location to be announced.

Weather Channel Taking Active Climate Change Stance

Here is a promising sign. This article, distributed by the Associated Press appeared in the “Hollywood Reporter on 6/22/2015”. Here is a link to the Weather Channel Climate 25 videos

The message is consciously designed to reach people who may be doubters about the causes of global warming.
weather_channel_anaridis_rodriguez_-_h_-_2015NEW YORK (AP) — The Weather Channel is looking beyond cold fronts and summer showers with a project featuring the voices of 25 prominent people talking about the need to take action on climate change.

The network says its “The Climate 25” series is about science, not politics. But its message is unmistakable, and is consciously designed to reach people who may be doubters about the causes of global warming.

U.S. Army Gen. Charles Jacoby, Unilever CEO Paul Polman, former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Christine Todd Whitman and former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson are among the participants. The 25 are filmed in black-and-white speaking directly to the camera about their perspectives on climate change.
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Climate change, cancer are surprisingly similar

This Guest Opinion from Barbara Schlachter was published in the Iowa City Press Citizen

schlachterEarth Day and Mother’s Day have come and gone. We can forget about our Mother the Earth for almost a year, if we choose. This year’s observances have been extremely poignant for me. When you are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, you do not automatically assume you will have many more years to celebrate your relationship to our Mother Earth, or your children.

I continue insofar as I am able to be active in action related to climate change, and it has given me pause to realize how cancer and our runaway reliance on fossil fuels are so similar to each other. Cancer is, by definition, cells that multiply against the best interests of their host. They threaten to take over and destroy if not stopped. In spite of other ways we can provide energy to our world, carbon emissions continue to rise, even with the knowledge that their continued proliferation will result in temperatures that will no longer be conducive to many forms of life, including human life. Capitalism and corporate control of our government almost make it impossible to stop the continuation of our mining, transporting and burning every last bit of carbon in the earth, without consideration for what happens next. Globalization and the fossil fuel industry’s heavy influence have put most decisions out of the control of the people most affected by them.

When I received my diagnosis, I was shocked. But thank God, surgery and treatment were offered to me. I am hopeful that they will result in an extended stay on this earth, and so I have endured and will endure whatever it takes for this possibility. If this cancer had asked if it could spread through my abdomen, you can bet I would have said an emphatic “No.” Yet here we are in Iowa with the possibility of the Bakken pipeline cutting diagonally through our precious state, looking somewhat like the weird scar on my abdomen, and we have to go through a long process of protest with no guarantee that it will not be built. It would mean 570,000 barrels of flammable crude oil running through Iowa every day, compromising our soil and our streams.

I wish someone had told me that if you have breast cancer, you have greater odds of getting ovarian cancer. I wish I had been told by my breast oncologist and my primary care physician to watch for certain signs. I wasn’t. I can claim ignorance and bad luck, as one of them put it. But none of us can claim we didn’t know what we were doing to our atmosphere and what would happen if we continued to do it.

Joanna Macy refers to Robert Jay Lifton, the psychiatrist who pioneered the study of the psychological effects of nuclear bombs. The refusal to acknowledge or respond to actual or impending disaster is “part of the disease of our time. … It divorces our mental calculations from our intuitive, emotional, and biological imbeddedness in the matrix of life. That split allows us passively to acquiesce in the preparations for our own demise.”

The words “climate change” have been disallowed in several states, giving it the status of “the C-word,” like cancer used to be when polite people didn’t talk about it or admit to having it. George Marshall, in “Don’t Even Think About It,” refers to Seth Godin, a communications expert who wonders whether calling it “Atmosphere Cancer … might produce more alarm.”

My alarm resulted in action. Hopefully when you read this, I will be halfway through six chemotherapy treatments. The chemo drugs I receive are paclitaxel and carboplatin. They are referred to by those in the trade as “carbotax.” That is pretty ironic considering I have been working for the past four years for Congress to pass a fee and dividend on carbon, often referred to as a “carbontax.” “Make my body a prayerstick for the world,” to quote Meinard Craighead.

The Rev. Dr. Barbara Schlachter is a co-founder of 100Grannies for a Livable Future and a member of the Iowa City Climate Advocates, who are working with Citizens Climate Lobby to pass a fee and dividend on carbon.

Josh Skipworth: AFSC “Bird-dog” Training Video

Following up on the Jenna’s opinion piece published in the Press Citizen (previous post), here is a lightly edited video documenting the March 14 “Bird-dog” training session put on by CCL-Des Moines and featuring Josh Skipworth from the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). “Bird-dogging” refers to the persistent effort to get out to candidates events around the state, ask questions, and get the issue of climate change into the political debate.

Attend events, ask candidates about climate change

This guest opinion by Jenna Hammerich was published in the Iowa City Press Citizen on April 21.

CandidateVisitsmIowans have a unique opportunity to make our voices heard during the election season, thanks to our first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses. With floods and droughts ravaging the Midwest and California’s agricultural system on the brink of collapse, we must use this opportunity to put climate change at the top of every candidate’s political agenda.

How? Easy. Attend a candidate event and ask a climate change question. When candidates hear a chorus of questions and concerns about climate change, they’ll see that the issue is important to voters and make it a plank in their platforms.
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