John McAndrew

With Respect

In environment on November 1, 2018 at 7:33 AM

My friend Jerry Miller of Pennsylvania posted a picture of a climate protest in which he participated 7 years ago. It was with, and he is now also involved with Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL). Both are excellent groups with devoted people working specifically on climate change in the real world.

350 has been working on divesting money, pulling it out of the fossil fuel industry.

CCL has been lobbying ALL members of Congress, not excluding the offices of James Inhofe and Steve Scalise, two of the most infamous deniers of science regarding climate change.

People have been involved in these and other organizations for years. In Jerry’s picture, protesters were dressed as referees, there to blow the whistle on obstruction. We could have solved this problem decades ago. Maybe we still have time to head off the most dire consequences; maybe not. We’ve procrastinated a long time, and our growing population that increasingly consumes more natural resources makes our task more difficult now. It’s as if we’re on a train heading for a cliff, and we’ve added speed and weight after being told of the situation: not very smart.

Along the way, one of the ways of measuring the frustration we’ve felt at our lack of traction has been in the conversations about “Messaging:” how we say what we say, rather than the substance of what we say. I’m sure I’ve tried to figure this out, too, and have made comments along one line or another. It’s natural: we KNOW, beyond any reasonable doubt, that we are in profound trouble, and we know the causes and, to some degree, the solutions. If you know your facts are not at fault, but you’re not making any progress, it’s natural to wonder if you’re making errors in delivery. And so you try this and that, and start an organization like CCL, which does not chest-butt; which treats everyone with gratitude, admiration, and respect; which makes it a point to find common ground, even if on an entirely different subject. And you get 350, which understands that power speaks and, more important, hears only the language of money, and so set about removing money from fossil fuel companies. And you get Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope, who write a book on hope, and the progress being made that may yet – if we can scale it up as fast as our population and consumption scale up – get our bacon out of the frier.

Protests over the years have been earnest, humorous, respectful, creative, and authoritative. Activists have done their homework, and mostly set good examples in their own lives. We have  put on suits and ties and high heels, or walked the long halls of Congress in an orthopedic boot until damned near lame, as one friend of mine did in my company. We’ve stood before members of Congress, presidents, CEOs, mayors, editors, neighbors, candidates, and done our damnedest to be clear, not to exaggerate, not to be too emotional, and to engage people in terms they understand. Even when we have tampered with the infrastructure that powers this industry of mass destruction, we have given notice and asked permission, like the valve turners did.  Young people who are looking down the barrel of a life lived on a hostile planet, rather than taking in hand the destruction of the engines of industry that are ruining their futures, instead have chosen to press their case in court, in a case now stalled thanks to the ironically-named Department of Justice. The one death I know of caused by a member of this movement was his own: David Buckel immolated himself in a park in New York City – and left a note apologizing for the mess he left – as a cri de coeur over environmental destruction. He left a note saying he had used fossil fuel as a metaphor for the damage it is doing to the planet and its people. He hoped his death was “honorable” and “might serve others.”

In the midst of all of these deeply committed people trying to save the world while being abused, ridiculed, or ignored, many have made great efforts to be better understood. The implied message: “It’s not you, it must be us. We’re not being clear and convincing. You’re in great danger. And your children, too. How can we help?”

I’ve been to a few conferences put on by CCL in Washington, DC and regionally in the Southwest. I’m sure others, who have attended conferences put on by other organizations, have had similar experiences: CCL has grown rapidly, and the last time I attended it was with about 1200 other “citizen lobbyists.” It is a profoundly moving, ennobling, and encouraging experience to see these folks who Will NOT be defeated. They give freely and generously of time, money, and their life energy to try to push our species to save itself and those other beautiful, glorious species with whom we are lucky to share this planet.

The only word that has a prayer of encompassing this movement and all its sacrifices, seen and unseen, is that word we’ve attached to that undefinable thing that does not give up, that perseveres, that is not a feeling, but is a commitment recognized after long years of devotion: love. Our species, and this planet – this is going to sound odd, in this context, but here goes – have never been so loved as they/we are right now, by these people. Our species is so flawed, so self-destructive. In our accidental immolation, we’re taking down thousands of species – large and small, known and loved, and unknown and unsung – with us. We are so much like a young man in the throes of an addiction: Meth? Opioids? Nicotine? Fossil fuels in this case, and all they’ve made possible. They make us feel so good, so safe and secure. What biological entity can turn its back  on a situation that comes so close to guaranteeing a long, safe, comfortable life?

The worst of humanity often has the best of humanity for a traveling companion. Who knew that we could cast aside the welfare of our own children so carelessly?


Germ 3: Airlines and Climate Change

In environment, Thoughts on May 30, 2018 at 2:29 PM

Flying creates a LOT of greenhouse gases, especially since we’ve gotten to the point where we can fly anywhere, any time, and do so.

I started by checking out what airlines are already doing, with an emphasis on Southwest, which has been a favorite for a long time.

Southwest already has a relationship with National Forest Fndtn: maybe they could help

Explore tax benefits of improving land by replanting.

Trees around corporate offices: cooling and energy efficiency value, in addition to aesthetics.

Southwest could plant Southwest Forests near each airport they service

Who goes to the Southwest One Report site now? How many visitors? Probably not many. So even those who care about the environment don’t know it’s there. A carbon offset option at ticketing would make their efforts higher profile

People can convert FF miles to the SW Forest Project: would that get them a tax writeoff? Would it get SW a write off?

Napkins on flights can be ads for how green SW is: paper all made of recycled content; promote carbon offset opportunities; plastics can be either made of recycled material or biodegradable corn- or bamboo-based materials; they can drive innovation in packaging of soft drinks and booze, minimize plastics – and in-flight weight – dramatically

Annual report on CO2 emissions, with target for each year.

Solar panels on corporate HQ; let the savings from those panels finance panels on schools, co-funded by states, which will need to pass budgets to finance such things.

How confident are you that you are optimizing efficiency and minimizing CO2e emissions? Then how about soliciting an independent audit of ALL airlines to measure the comparative emissions of each/passenger mile, and publish it annually.

Begin by asking Southwest questions about their hopes and goals for greenery, assuming they’re not just greenwashing. For those who choose to offset their carbon omissions, perhaps Southwest could offer a discount on renting an electric car. Can Southwest put pressure on their car rental partners to offer electric cars? Are there fleet discounts available to car rental agencies for electric cars? Why are consumers reluctant to rent EVs? Can SW or their rental car partners build more infrastructure? Is an EV rental is more economical for both agency and consumer? If not, why not?

Comparisons and competitions

The report, released May 8, 2012 by U.S.-based eco directory site Greenopia, is the fourth in a series of annual reports ranking airlines on various eco credentials, including:

• Fuel conservation practices

• Progress on alternative fuel types

• Recycling programs

• Green food options

• Green building design

• Carbon offsets

In 2015: “the aviation industry represents approximately 2-3% of greenhouse gas emissions, which seems low but we must also be aware of the fact that air traffic doesn’t stop increasing and the aviation industry is the only one not subjected to any international regulation, to the European one yes, but not to a global one!”

“takeoff and landing consume much more fuel than the flight itself”

Re: Alaska Airlines, another favorite: “passenger waste management, supplier transportation and the resources utilized on board of their planes. Their goal is to reduce 20% of their CO2 emissions by 2020 and to increase their biofuel utilization.”

Travel and Leisure: “upcoming United Nations ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) agreement.” This mandates that all airlines cap CO2 and commit to carbon neutral growth after 2020, among other significant measures.”

““Last year, [2014] U.S. airlines burned through 16.2 billion gallons of fuel [or 340 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions],” says Mayerowitz. “

7 Things Passengers can do to limit their footprints:

1. Fly nonstop

2. Fly in a newer plane

3. Lower the window shade (No. Really??)

4. Pack lighter

5. Use Google’s ITA software, Matrix – which can help you compare flights by carbon footprint!

6.  Choose a flight with more seats, using

7. Offset your carbon footprint

United “started utilizing biofuel in 2015. They even plan on reducing CO2 emissions by 50% thanks to this fuel called AltAir.” [see also “The AltAir Fuel project represents the first drop-in liquid biofuel project funded by the ARFVTP program. This is significant because drop-in fuels meet the same product specification requirements of the petroleum products they replace. As such, they can be stored, transported, and used without any change to engines or infrastructure.” COSTS????? CO2e savings????? According to United,  “The AltAir biofuel is expected to provide greater than a 60 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on a life cycle basis when compared to traditional jet fuel.” And in reality????? ]

From United: “Through new aircraft purchases, fleet modifications, operational improvements and other innovations, we have improved our fuel efficiency by 34 percent since 1994.” And “Additionally, United customers can purchase carbon offsets or donate miles toward the purchase of carbon offsets through our Eco-Skies CarbonChoice program. In 2015, we expanded our Eco-Skies CarbonChoice program to enable our corporate customers to offset their United air travel and cargo shipments for their entire enterprise.”

United Eco Skies program.

In 2016: “the industry has managed to double in size in the last 10 years, growing from 369 billion dollars of revenue in 2004 to 746 billion at the end of 2014.  The Aviation Industry however remains plagued by low profit margins and large costs, which means that most —if not all— efforts at sustainability are driven by the desire for cost efficiencies.  Fortunately, reducing fuel consumption meets both of those goals.”

“Fleet age: Newer fleet, more fuel and energy efficient planes. With advances made for newer aircraft, fuel consumption has been cut in recent models by as much as 20% compared to the older models”

“Carbon Ofsetting: Despite concerns about carbon offsetting being little more than a marketing ploy, most airlines today do offer their customers the ability to a) calculate the carbon produced as a result of them flying and b) make a donation to offset it, with donations usually being made to organisations developing sustainable energy sources, often in the developing world.  Notably, a few airlines are working with partners that offset carbon in the ‘home’ country with forestry projects being set up, such as British Airways and ANA.”


Alternative fuel: “KLM in particular is focusing on innovation in this area and is the airline who has conducted the longest test flights using biofuel.”

In 2017:

“according to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, Air France-KLM has been the most sustainable airline group in the world for 12 years running.” “This means the airline uses 15 percent less paint, reducing the fuel drag of the aircraft. The plane can be more easily cleaned using only soap and water, avoiding the use of hazardous solvents.” “Of course, KLM recycles plastic, paper, and aluminum to the extent possible. However, the airline has taken things one step beyond other carriers by using recycled material from its old cabin crew uniforms as part of the carpeting aboard its new aircraft cabins. 

Inflight catering uses products (like coffee and chocolates, for example) that are sustainable and fair trade when possible. Inflight meals avoid mass-produced chicken and eggs in favor of local, farm-raised options.

KLM is among the many airlines to offer a carbon offset program, which allows passengers to pay a donation that relates to the amount of carbon emissions travelers are putting into the atmosphere due to their itinerary. This can reach several hundred dollars for some long-haul flights, and most airlines remain mum on the limited uptake of this voluntary donation. However, KLM claims that some do-gooder passengers pay it.” “This author once heard an announcement on a flight from Tokyo Narita with another airline that, due to extreme headwinds, the flight might have to divert for supplemental fuel. A call to action from gate agents encouraged passengers to use the loo before boarding to help lighten the load on board and perhaps avoid that extra stop. The next time you board a flight, think about the weight you are carrying aboard and what you can do about it. Even with an action as small as using the restroom at the airport, you may just be helping a little.”

Germ 2: Mayo and Rochester

In Uncategorized on May 30, 2018 at 2:07 PM

Mayo Clinic or the city of Rochester, MN:

Birth Tree Parties: plant seedlings in honor of a child’s birth

Memorial Forest: plant trees – perhaps using ashes in the planting – to memorialize those who have died. These could be planted throughout the city, so former residents can beautify and shade their descendants

Recovery/Gratitude Forest Walk/Meditation Garden: plant a tree in gratitude for recovery from injury, accident, or illness. Would provide a good place for “forest bathing,” gathering one’s spirits while seeking healing

Doctors and Nurses’ Grove: for use specifically by doctors and nurses and hospital staff

Work with Audubon and Arbor Day to create bird habitat in these places.

Work with local permaculturists/arborists to choose trees and companion plants

WHY would Mayo or Rochester be interested?

Community asset like the Mayo Civic Center; reduce health effects of climate change; educational oppty about health effects of climate change; oppty to reduce Mayo’s/Rochester’s carbon footprint; can be used for walking, running, biking, X-country skiing, or outdoor fitness stations; treats storm and wastewater: provides value to city and region; food forest could provide food for hospital cafeteria or local food banks; provides needed bee and bird habitat; i distributed neighborhood plantings improve real estate values.

Increase alliances within the city: City of Rochester’s water and climate initiatives; energy conservation/climate initiatives; churches (Catholics and Lutherans are most prominent), mosques, synagogues, temples, zendos – gives them something non-sectarian on which to work together

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