110 New Ambassadors for Climate Justice: Seattle Plant-For-The-Planet

originally published by J. Crapper on Nov 6th  http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/11/06/1251345/-Plant-for-the-Planet-Growing-But-Let-s-Add-Fertilizer

I first wrote about Plant for the Planet back on September 10, 2013.  Since then things have been happening very quickly. On May 24th 2013 in Seattle the first academy on the west coast trained 80 young students from 13 schools  . On Saturday, October 26, 2013 two more academies were organized for students from 26 Seattle area schools.   I volunteered at one of them and it was an uplifting and enlightening experience.

I witnessed:

Students 8 to 14 years old standing up in front of other students of the same age speaking with knowledge, clarity, passion and confidence about climate change.

Speaking with knowledge and confidence.

Kids showing other kids pictures of young people their age in other countries shaking hands with world leaders, pop stars, and famous actors and actresses. Young people showing pictures of themselves speaking in front of city councils, mayors and crowds numbering in the thousands.

I spoke to an eleven year old girl waiting in line to take the stage to present her portion of the presentation.  She looked me in the eye and said, “I’m a born leader.”  She then took the stage and confidently delivered her message to the crowd.

A parent volunteer who told me she at first was not excited about being involved but her daughter’s enthusiasm had convinced her to get involved. She was so thankful.

Young people in the crowd boldly questioning and offering solutions to Washington State Representative Jamie Pedersen who dropped by to show his support and share ideas.

Washington St. Rep., 43rd District fielding questions.

The day brought back fond memories of when I was a Middle School teacher.As a former Middle School teacher, with ten years experience teaching 5th, 6th and 7th grade, this academy reminded me of an elective I was allowed to develop and teach at Ruamrudee International School in Bangkok, Thailand called Teacher’s Aide.  The elective introduced students to the field of teaching, gave them their own students to teach and the responsibility to design lesson plans, develop and administer tests, and give their students a grade entered into their official school record.  All this was under the guidance of me as their elective teacher.  It was extremely successful and both I and the administration were amazed at how mature, dedicated and effective the student teachers were with their own students.

In these Academies, much of the same is going on. Children who have already been trained in previous Academies, give speeches to a new group of children to teach them about the climate crisis and train them as “Ambassadors for Climate Justice”. Through group work and presentations the children are taught about climate justice and they also learn how to present these ideas to others in a confident and exciting way.

Michael Foster is the force behind this rapidly growing organization in the United States.  His main focus is seeding the Plant for the Planet  children’s initiative to other places as quickly as possible.  He argues effectively that children have the most to lose and hold the greatest sway with parents, inducing their involvement in the issue. I’m trying to help him out.  In Michael Foster’s own words:

Six years doesn’t seem like enough time to plant 1,000 billion trees, or to organize wealthy nations into paying impoverished nations for being green. But this volunteer-driven children’s movement is by far the most hopeful thing I’ve come across in 25 years of global warming news. How many environmental organizations have a 3-Point Plan to reverse global warming posted on their website? Simple and clear: 1 trillion trees by 2020, combat global poverty, and end carbon emissions. They’ve counted 12.6 billion trees planted in the last few years. That’s a start! Child Ambassadors hold absolute moral authority because when we grownups are gone, they’ll still be here. These children can change the conversation on climate from ‘whether it is happening’ to ‘What are you doing to protect my future? What are you doing today to stop global warming?’

I want every kid in the USA to have a chance to experience an Academy, to learn to speak out for the future they will inherit, while it’s still possible to make a huge difference.

Today the children need volunteers all across the country. What does it take to host an Academy for 80 students? People. Parents, retired teachers, college students, anybody can organize a day-long workshop for local kids in every town all over the USA. Let’s get a competition going to plant more trees.

We need our kids to tell us, ‘Stop wrecking my planet, right now!’ I know parents will listen when their kids say, ‘We shouldn’t drive that big SUV. I don’t think the earth can afford it. Maybe we should plant a thousand trees instead.’

Parents know we have to change our ways but we don’t want to short-change our children now, so we try not to think about it. But we’re failing our children treat them to a comfy life now, but don’t think ahead for them.

Foster uses the Photo Album test,

Imagine, looking back through a photo album in 20 years. The very things parents do today to privilege our children — pay for big vacations, big toys, a bigger house — these are the very things that our children are going to look back on in horror a few short years from now and say to us, ‘how could you do that, when you knew that Life was at stake?’

History of  Plant for the Planet (adapted from website)

In January 2007, a German boy, 9-year-old Felix Finkbeiner founded The Plant-for-the-Planet Children´s Initiative . While researching a climate project for school, Felix grew inspired by Wangari Maathai, who planted 30 million trees in Africa. In his class presentation, Felix ended by saying that he thought children could plant one million trees in each country of the world.

Since then Plant-for-the-Planet has grown into a worldwide movement.  By the start of 2011 there were children participating in more than 93 countries.  It has trained over 19,000 children from all over the word and that number is increasing rapidly.The United States has been a late comer to this children’s movement but that is about to change.  The ripples Michael Foster started are beginning to feel like waves!  He’s looking for others to assume the role he’s taken on in Seattle.

The program has all the elements to be successful and spread quickly.  Here’s why:

Engaged in the World games.

1.  It involves those most affected by climate change – young people.  It provides them with the knowledge and leadership skills necessary to carry the message to their peers,  parents, teachers, politicians and community business leaders.2.  Peers listen to other peers.  It’s the power of peer pressure put to work.

3.  It involves parents with their kids future and educational development.  It motivates them to get involved in climate change action as a result of that involvement.  It is hard to ignore your children.

4.  It involves teachers always looking for creative and innovative opportunities to engage their students in order to teach them valuable skills such as leadership and public speaking.

5.  It involves politicians.  It is hard to ignore a young person knocking on your door or asking you a question if you are a public figure. They know if they do their parents, whom they need to vote for them, will not forget.

Participants learning about properly planting a tree.

6.  It involves community business leaders always looking for good PR opportunities in order to portray  a caring partner image to their community of customers.

7.  It attracts the press.  Young people doing amazing things always attracts the cameras.

8.  And finally, and most importantly, it gives all involved a tangible, realistic way to get involved and move forward with a feeling of hope and empowerment.

To begin the process of organizing your own Academy the best place to start is at the Plant for the Planet website.  Here are some key places to visit.

1.  Suggested flyer and schedule for Academy (template).

2.  Pictures to choose from for slideshow presentation (power point) (takes some time to load but worth the wait). These pictures are used as visual aides to assist students oral presentations.

3.  Ideas and detailed information on how to get the ball rolling in your community.

Other resources:

1.  Announcement used for Seattle Academies

2.  Seattle Plant for the Planet press kit

3. Seattle Plant for the Planet flyer

This is a YES WE CAN program bubbling with the optimism that only youth can bring to the table.  We need that energy in the environmental movement.  It’s time to Stop Talking and Start Planting.  It’s time we join and assist in any way we can these young Ambassadors for Climate Justice.

Ambassadors for the climate.

Michael Foster: A mental health therapist and father in Seattle. Mike always had an interest in the impacts humans have on the health and welfare of our planet. From his childhood in Texas, where he grew up in the shadow of oil refineries, he has always been aware that we have the ability and the obligation to be positive stewards for the Earth – not just for ourselves, but for future generations.

Mike is a speaker for the Climate Reality project, the Al Gore initiative, and volunteers his time to present “The Slide Show” to any and all interested groups. His particular focus is exploring the ways that families can work together to reverse global warming and create a sustainable future.

Michael Foster is ready to help anybody interested in organizing and conducting their own Academy.

350 “Draw the Line” Ambassadors Slideshow

Ambassadors fists up

The Green Boat by Mary Pipher

 

Mary Pipher's new book is a wonderful description of the trauma, anxiety, joy and comfort of facing the impossible by coming together to take action against the odds.
Mary Pipher’s new book is a wonderful description of the trauma, anxiety, joy and comfort of facing the impossible by coming together to take action against the odds.

 

Living on Earth: Saving Ourselves- The Green Boat

Click on the link above to listen to “Living On Earth” radio interview with Mary Pipher, best-selling author of Reviving Ophelia, as she describes her inspiring journey into activism, and discusses her new book, The Green Boat, Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture. In her interviews, her actions, and in her book, she says it much better than I can, so check your speaker volume and tune in.

A grandmother herself, Mary Pipher turns her attention to the psychological roots of our difficulty in facing and addressing climate change, and to her own struggle against despair, trying to cope with the impending loss of everything we care for, which led her to take action in her community.

 

Now enjoy Video (below) of the Grandmothers Apple Pie Brigade, a group Mary Pipher helped found with her friends and neighbors to take on the Keystone XL pipeline when it came to her home in Nebraska. An unlikely group of activists comes together to spread a unifying vision of what makes home.

World Reaches CO2 Milestone: 400ppm

Seasonally adjusted, our global average CO2 is now 395ppm; but May 9th marks the first day in human history when we crossed the 400ppm threshold at Mauna Loa. –M. Foster

The New York Times           May 10, 2013

Heat-Trapping Gas Passes Milestone, Raising Fears

By 
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/11/science/earth/carbon-dioxide-level-passes-long-feared-milestone.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130511&_r=0

The level of the most important heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide, has passed a long-feared milestone, scientists reported Friday, reaching a concentration not seen on the earth for millions of years.

Scientific instruments showed that the gas had reached an average daily level above 400 parts per million — just an odometer moment in one sense, but also a sobering reminder that decades of efforts to bring human-produced emissions under control are faltering.

The best available evidence suggests the amount of the gas in the air has not been this high for at least three million years, before humans evolved, and scientists believe the rise portends large changes in the climate and the level of the sea.

“It symbolizes that so far we have failed miserably in tackling this problem,” said Pieter P. Tans, who runs the monitoring program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that reported the new reading.

Ralph Keeling, who runs another monitoring program at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, said a continuing rise could be catastrophic. “It means we are quickly losing the possibility of keeping the climate below what people thought were possibly tolerable thresholds,” he said.

Virtually every automobile ride, every plane trip and, in most places, every flip of a light switch adds carbon dioxide to the air, and relatively little money is being spent to find and deploy alternative technologies.

China is now the largest emitter, but Americans have been consuming fossil fuels extensively for far longer, and experts say the United States is more responsible than any other nation for the high level.

The new measurement came from analyzers atop Mauna Loa, the volcano on the big island of Hawaii that has long been ground zero for monitoring the worldwide trend on carbon dioxide, or CO2. Devices there sample clean, crisp air that has blown thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean, producing a record of rising carbon dioxide levels that has been closely tracked for half a century.

Carbon dioxide above 400 parts per million was first seen in the Arctic last year, and had also spiked above that level in hourly readings at Mauna Loa.

But the average reading for an entire day surpassed that level at Mauna Loa for the first time in the 24 hours that ended at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Thursday. The two monitoring programs use slightly different protocols; NOAA reported an average for the period of 400.03 parts per million, while Scripps reported 400.08.

Carbon dioxide rises and falls on a seasonal cycle, and the level will dip below 400 this summer as leaf growth in the Northern Hemisphere pulls about 10 billion tons of carbon out of the air. But experts say that will be a brief reprieve — the moment is approaching when no measurement of the ambient air anywhere on earth, in any season, will produce a reading below 400.

“It feels like the inevitable march toward disaster,” said Maureen E. Raymo, a scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, a unit of Columbia University.

From studying air bubbles trapped in Antarctic ice, scientists know that going back 800,000 years, the carbon dioxide level oscillated in a tight band, from about 180 parts per million in the depths of ice ages to about 280 during the warm periods between. The evidence shows that global temperatures and CO2 levels are tightly linked.

For the entire period of human civilization, roughly 8,000 years, the carbon dioxide level was relatively stable near that upper bound. But the burning of fossil fuels has caused a 41 percent increase in the heat-trapping gas since the Industrial Revolution, a mere geological instant, and scientists say the climate is beginning to react, though they expect far larger changes in the future.

Indirect measurements suggest that the last time the carbon dioxide level was this high was at least three million years ago, during an epoch called the Pliocene. Geological research shows that the climate then was far warmer than today, the world’s ice caps were smaller, and the sea level might have been as much as 60 or 80 feet higher.

Experts fear that humanity may be precipitating a return to such conditions — except this time, billions of people are in harm’s way.

“It takes a long time to melt ice, but we’re doing it,” Dr. Keeling said. “It’s scary.”

Dr. Keeling’s father, Charles David Keeling, began carbon dioxide measurements on Mauna Loa and at other locations in the late 1950s. The elder Dr. Keeling found a level in the air then of about 315 parts per million — meaning that if a person had filled a million quart jars with air, about 315 quart jars of carbon dioxide would have been mixed in.

His analysis revealed a relentless, long-term increase superimposed on the seasonal cycle, a trend that was dubbed the Keeling Curve.

Countries have adopted an official target to limit the damage from global warming, with 450 parts per million seen as the maximum level compatible with that goal. “Unless things slow down, we’ll probably get there in well under 25 years,” Ralph Keeling said.

Yet many countries, including China and the United States, have refused to adopt binding national targets. Scientists say that unless far greater efforts are made soon, the goal of limiting the warming will become impossible without severe economic disruption.

“If you start turning the Titanic long before you hit the iceberg, you can go clear without even spilling a drink of a passenger on deck,” said Richard B. Alley, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University. “If you wait until you’re really close, spilling a lot of drinks is the best you can hope for.”

Climate-change contrarians, who have little scientific credibility but are politically influential in Washington, point out that carbon dioxide represents only a tiny fraction of the air — as of Thursday’s reading, exactly 0.04 percent. “The CO2 levels in the atmosphere are rather undramatic,” a Republican congressman from California, Dana Rohrabacher, said in a Congressional hearing several years ago.

But climate scientists reject that argument, saying it is like claiming that a tiny bit of arsenic or cobra venom cannot have much effect. Research shows that even at such low levels, carbon dioxide is potent at trapping heat near the surface of the earth.

“If you’re looking to stave off climate perturbations that I don’t believe our culture is ready to adapt to, then significant reductions in CO2 emissions have to occur right away,” said Mark Pagani, a Yale geochemist who studies climates of the past. “I feel like the time to do something was yesterday.”

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In ‘March Toward Disaster,’ World Hits 400 PPM Milestone

Published on Friday, May 10, 2013 by Common Dreams

Levels of atmospheric CO2 have never been this high in human history; will ‘rise in carbon be matched by rise in climate activism’? – Andrea Germanos, Common Dreams

We did it, and it’s nothing to cheer about.

The world hit the “sobering milestone” of 400 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 on Thursday—a first in human history—marking “a moment of symbolic significance on road of idiocy” the world has chosen, as well as a call for urgent climate action. 

Reaching this level represents a global failure to address the runaway greenhouse gas emissions; as Al Gore wrote today, it shows “we are reaping the consequences of our recklessness.”

Hitting 400 ppm “symbolizes that so far we have failed miserably in tackling this problem,” Pieter P. Tans, who runs the monitoring program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told the New York Times.

And if you’re experiencing a sense of doom that we’ve reached a level of CO2 the Earth hasn’t seen for at least three million years, you’re not alone.

“It feels like the inevitable march toward disaster,” Maureen E. Raymo, a Columbia University earth scientist, warned.

At the Guardian, George Monbiot slams the 400 ppm mark as “a moment of symbolic significance on road of idiocy.” He writes:

The problem is simply stated: the power of the fossil fuel companies is too great. Among those who seek and obtain high office are people characterised by a complete absence of empathy or scruples, who will take money or instructions from any corporation or billionaire who offers them, and then defend those interests against the current and future prospects of humanity.

This new climate milestone reflects a profound failure of politics, in whichdemocracy has quietly been supplanted by plutocracy. Without a widespread reform of campaign finance, lobbying and influence-peddling and the systematic corruption they promote, our chances of preventing climate breakdown are close to zero.

So here stands our political class at a waystation along the road of idiocy, apparently determined only to complete the journey.

Climate change movement 350.org, which has campaigned around 350 ppm being the safe upper limit for atmospheric CO2, created a website to reflect on what this alarming new milestone means, and how we can move forward.

On the site, Payal Parekh, coordinator for Global Power Shift, calls “Crossing the 400 ppm threshold […] a somber reminder that we haven’t taken the action we need. Nevertheless there is good reason for hope—activists all across the globe are fighting the fossil fuel industry and demanding clean, just and affordable solutions to our energy needs.”

Also urging climate action is 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben, who writes that “The only question now is whether the relentless rise in carbon can be matched by a relentless rise in the activism necessary to stop it.”

If we don’t get off this fast-moving greenhouse gas train, Scripps geochemist Ralph Keeling warned weeks ago, we’re on track to “hit 450 ppm within a few decades.”

___________________________

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Real-Life ‘Man Who Planted Trees’ in India

mulai woodsIf one boy can plant an entire forest on a barren sandbar in a river, then imagine how much we can accomplish working together with that same dedication. Enjoy this story of a man who planted trees!

Way back in 1979, floods had washed a great number of snakes onto the sandbar. When Payeng — then only 16 — found them, they had all died.

“The snakes died in the heat, without any tree cover. I sat down and wept over their lifeless forms. It was carnage,” Payeng told the Times Of India.

“I alerted the forest department and asked them if they could grow trees there. They said nothing would grow there. Instead, they asked me to try growing bamboo. It was painful, but I did it. There was nobody to help me,” he told the newspaper.

Now that once-barren sandbar is a sprawling 1,360 acre forest, home to several thousands of varieties of trees and an astounding diversity of wildlife — including birds, deer, apes, rhino, elephants and even tigers.

The forest, aptly called the “Molai woods” after its creator’s nickname, was single-handedly planted and cultivated by one man — Payeng, who is now 47.

According to the Asian Age, Payeng has dedicated his life to the upkeep and growth of the forest. Accepting a life of isolation, he started living alone on the sandbar as a teenager — spending his days tending the burgeoning plants.

Molai_Payeng IndiaToday, Payeng still lives in the forest. He shares a small hut with his wife and three children and makes a living selling cow and buffalo milk.

According to the Assistant Conservator of Forests, Gunin Saikia, it is perhaps the world’s biggest forest in the middle of a river.

“We were surprised to find such a dense forest on the sandbar,” Saikia told the Times Of India, adding that officials in the region only learned of Payeng’s forest in 2008.

Finally, Payeng may get the help — and recognition — he deserves.

“[Locals] wanted to cut down the forest, but Payeng dared them to kill him instead. He treats the trees and animals like his own children. Seeing this, we, too, decided to pitch in,” Saikia said.

originally posted in Treehugger

Plant-for-the-Planet Global Boards need Youth Candidates from the U.S.A.

How would you like to be a leader in a democratic global youth organization that has begun transforming the planet one tree at a time? Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it?kinderboard_2012neu

You have to be old enough: 8 years old and under 21. If you are 7 and a 1/2 you’ll just have to wait a little while. And you have to be elected. Candidates from North America  are sought for the Youth Board, ages 15 – 21.

Here’s an invitation from the Secretariat in Germany. Please pass this along:

Dear students, teachers and supporters of the Plant-for-the-Planet Initiative,

Apply now to become member of the new Global Boards 2013/14. The online-voting for the new Plant-for-the-Planet Global Boards 2013/14 starts on 27th March!

  • ·         Do you want to deepen your involvement with Plant-for-the-Planet?
  • ·         Do you want to take extensive action to fight the climate crisis?
  • ·         Do you want to inspire children worldwide and represent their interests?

Then apply for the Plant-for-the-Planet Global Boards 2013/2014!

Again, there will be two Global Boards: one for the Children’s Initiative, for children aged from 8 to 14 and one for the Youth Initiative, for young people aged from 15 to 21 years. Together they will represent the Plant-for-the-Planet Initiative, which invites everyone around the world to become a member.

In each of the Global Boards there will be 14 members who represent 7 different world regions. You can be a part of it too. Exchange ideas and opinions with people from around the world and help to take Plant-for-the-Planet into the future!

Requirements:

  • trained Climate Justice Ambassador or high level of motivation to lobby for climate justice
  • joy in inspiring children and youth
  • aged between 8 to 14 (children’s Global Board) or from 15 to 21 years (youth Global Board) as of the 1st July 2013
  • availability between the 1st of July 2013 and 30th of June 2014 for the monthly board meetings of the Global Board via the Internet
  • good English skills to participate actively in the monthly sessions of the Global Board (per Internet)
  • one adult coordinator (e.g. a parent) if you are a minor

You have until 22th March 2013 to apply to sit on one of the Global Boards. The candidates be presented on our website, if possible with a video message.  The elections will start on 27th March 2013 online. Every Plant-for-the-Planet member with voting rights has until 19th April 2013 to register their online votes for each of the Global Boards. From these elected board members, the Global Presidents and Vice-Global Presidents will be elected. They are voted for in a second round of voting from 20-27th April 2013.

The new Presidents and Vice-Presidents will be presented at the Plant-for-the-Planet Annual Meeting in Munich. The handover from the old Global Boards to the new takes place in June, and the new Global Board takes office on 1st July 2013.

Apply here online as candidate for the Global Boards

or send us an email with your name and date of birthmembers@plant-for-the-planet.org

The current Global Board members can be seen here.

It would be great if you could forward this invitation to interested students. Thanks a lot!

Best regards!

Pascale Sarah

for the Plant-for-the-Planet Secretariat

Plant-for-the-Planet Foundation

Lindemannstr. 13

82327 Tutzing – Germany

Tel. ++49 (0) 8808 9345

Fax. ++49 (0) 8808 9346

http://www.plant-for-the-planet.org

If you are interested or know a youth who would like to be on the board, please contact me or Plant For The Planet now. I’ll be happy to share more information.

Learn more about the Global Board and how to become a candidate on the “Structure” page at:

http://www.plant-for-the-planet.org/en/about-us/structure/global-board

The Goal and the Countdown Clock

If you are a parent like me you may wonder sometimes, with all the terrible pollution and destruction going on, “Am I doing enough? to protect my kids? to protect nature? Will changing my light bulbs really save humanity?”

Wonder no more. Simply follow the link to the one paper we all need to read, written by the world’s leading climatologists on behalf of young people who are suing the federal government and all 50 states, to win a plan for a habitable planet. This paper scientifically outlines what we need to protect young people and nature from dangerous climate change. It spells out the basics of where we are today and where we have to get to, and our deadline.

The plan spells out what our physical earth demands if it is going to continue supporting life as we know it. In other words, what the children are suing for is nothing less than the planet’s requirements for sustaining life into the next millenia.

In the paper, “Scientific  Case for Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change to Protect Young People and Nature” James Hansen describes reaching a tipping point soon, a “human tipping point” where we will begin to take drastic action to reverse our current path. Thanks for joining me to bring about that human tipping point before our clock runs out.

To protect our children and nature from the worst consequences of changing climate, we need:

  • 6% reductions in greenhouse gas emissions each year,
  • combined with massive reforestation, if we want to avoid the worst consequences for our children and nature, and
  • we might return the planet to a stable state by the end of this century
  • that’s if we start in 2013

Waiting until 2020 to start reducing emissions means the planet will require 15% annual reductions in GHG emissions.

So if 6% per year sounds hard, imagine what it would take to achieve 15% year after year. And waiting to get started means we will suffer more severe consequences in the next few decades than if we start today. We risk triggering “runaway” climate change as the temperatures continue to climb over this century.

Or look at it this way, the light bulb you change today to stop CO2 when we need to reduce 6% a year, counts much more than waiting 7 years and doing the exact same thing when we’ll need 15% reductions. Every little bit we save today grows like money in the bank, clearing the air for our kids’ future. So why not get started?

Have we already missed our opportunity? Possibly.

Does 6% every year seem too hard? Yes.

Doing nothing and complaining while the clock keeps ticking down seems too hard for me. I just can’t Not Do Anything! That’s not an option when my kids’ future is on the line.

I want to look my children in the eye and say, “I’m doing the best I can while there’s still time, and I’m getting everyone else to do the same.”

Because if we all do our best, we will be the generation that stops the clock on global warming. And then we can start turning it backwards!