Earth Matters: Young ‘climate creators’ make waves; conservation league endorses six Dems for Senate

It’s not easy to remain optimistic in the face of continued bad news about the climate crisis and the unwillingness of too many leaders to seriously address it effectively. What keeps my hope from sinking beneath waves of doomscrolling, however, are other leaders—individuals and groups of the grassroots—who have refused to stay silent about the crisis and have put themselves, sometimes physically, in the path of a fossil fuel industry determined to keep pumping greenhouse gases into our already over-burdened atmosphere until every last drop of hydrocarbons is extracted and burned.

While people of all ages can be found among these activists, it is the younger ones who hearten me most. The stakes are highest for them. Long after I’ve departed for the Great Beyond, they’ll still be dealing with the fallout from climate change. So it’s encouraging to know that they aren’t willing to go along with the official blah blah blah that too often substitutes for action instead of spurring it.

Educating others about the situation and the need to act on it is a crucial aspect of that activism. Especially given the ever-changing propaganda of the deniers, delayers, and deflectors. This week Harvard’s Center for Climate, Health and the Global Environment in partnership with Pique Action took notice of 16 Climate Creators to Watch in 2022. Pique looks at climate solutions and positive action in its campaign to, as Zeina Mohammed writes, “provide a counterbalance to the despair that often can accompany a relentless diet of negative climate news, much of it from social media.”

Genesis Butler and friend

Among them, there’s Genesis Butler, a 15-year-old vegan animal rights, climate, and environmental activist. Two years ago, she founded Youth Climate Save, a global organization that focuses on the link between animal agriculture and climate change. You can read an interview with her about the organization here. Rollie Williams is a Brooklyn-based comedian with a Climate Science and Policy degree who created and hosts the digital comedy series Climate Town, which “has been described as a sort of version of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.” Rollie is also the host of Sweatpants: A Low-Key Climate Podcast. Pattie Gonia is an “environmentalist drag queen” who uses humor and elaborate outfits to spotlight the climate movement to a half-million Instagram followers and build community for “queer people, allies & our planet.” You can read an interview with Gonia here.

Kristy Drutman, 26, started her Instagram page three years ago because she didn’t see great representation of people of color in environmental spaces, especially in her field of science communication.

Now, with a following of more than 58,000 people, she circulates information about green jobs, promotes intersectional environmentalism and breaks down issues such as climate financing. Drutman, who is of Jewish and Filipina heritage, said her page really took off amid racial justice protests in 2020, when people began to search for more diverse and inclusive content creators.

She is also the creator of Brown Girl Green, a media platform and podcast committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in the environmental field. She said her business, as well as her Instagram page of the same name, is about “empowering people to feel like they can also be included in the conversation.”

Drutman says:

“I am motivated to do this work because there are environmental land defenders from countries across the global south being killed protecting and fighting for climate justice. As someone with privilege, a platform, and passion, I feel responsible to provide space, resources, and inspiration to people around the world to take action on climate change. As more lives and communities are at stake, it is imperative for those of us with the means and networks necessary to mobilize and empower people around us to act.”

Last month on her Brown Girl Green YouTube Channel, she interviewed Al Gore. You can read the Arcadia blog’s interview with her here.

weekly green video

YouTube Video

study shows Black neighborhoods face DISPROPORTIONATE AND growing flood threat 

In a study published Jan. 31 in Nature, researchers calculated that the cost of U.S. flood damage will rise 26% over the next 30 years because of climate change alone. Annual flood damage costs are currently estimated at $32 billion. Because people are still building in flood-prone areas, population growth will make the damage four times worse than when only climate change is figured into the total. The authors note at The Conversation:

When we looked at demographics, we found that today’s flood risk is predominantly concentrated in white, impoverished communities. Many of these are in low-lying areas directly on the coasts or Appalachian valleys at risk from heavy rainfall.

But the increase in risk as rising oceans reach farther inland during storms and high tides over the next 30 years falls disproportionately on communities with large African American populations on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Urban and rural areas from Texas to Florida to Virginia contain predominantly Black communities projected to see at least a 20% increase in flood risk over the next 30 years.

Historically, poorer communities haven’t seen as much investment in flood adaptation or infrastructure, leaving them more exposed. The new data, reflecting the cost of damage, contradicts a common misconception that flood risk exacerbated by sea level rise is concentrated in whiter, wealthier areas.

Our findings raise policy questions about disaster recovery. Prior research has found that these groups recover less quickly than more privileged residents and that disasters can further exacerbate existing inequities. Current federal disaster aid disproportionately helps wealthier residents. Without financial safety nets, disasters can be tipping points into financial stress or deeper poverty.

A map of Houston shows flood risk changing over the next 30 years. Blue areas are today’s 100-year flood-risk zones. The red areas reflect the same zones in 2050. 

Mexican town protects forest from avocado growers and drug cartels

For more than a decade, the mostly Indigenous people of the township of Cherán in the Mexican state of Michoacán have successfully battled loggers clear-cutting the area’s pine forests and draining water supplies for downstream farmers in order to plant more avocado plantations. Opposition has often been cowed into silence in nearby towns by violent drug cartels who extort money from avocado growers and don’t want to see this revenue dry up. But Cherán is another story.

One of Cherán’s armed forestry patrolmen

In 2011, out of necessity to protect their lands and lives, the citizens there declared themselves an autonomous government and threw out politicians, police, and loggers often tied to the drug cartels. The community agreed on totally banning all commercial avocado orchards. People are allowed to plant up to 10 avocado trees to supply food for their own families, but no more because, as farmers board member David Ramos Guerrero says, they only bring “violence, bloodshed.” That’s not all. The first thing avocado growers do after the pines are cut is build retainments to collect the water that usually soaks into the spongey carpet of pine needles that stores humidity and feeds the roots of the pines that hold the moisture and soil in place. 

To enforce this ban, they operate armed forestry patrols. Ramos Guerrero says, “We start in a friendly way, by talking [to farmers]. If we don’t reach an agreement, then we use force, we tear up or cut down the avocado trees.” As vicious as the cartels have shown themselves to be, such efforts by local residents require a deep reservoir of courage. 

While this active self-governance has worked in Cherán, elsewhere not so much. Sixty miles away in Villa Madero, activist Guillermo Saucedo sought to imitate the operation of Ramos Guerrero’s patrol. He got 60 or 70 people to participate. But soon several narco-traffickers showed up, threatened him with guns, and abducted him, taking him for questioning by a cartel boss. “They kept beating me until they got tired,” he said. However, unlike the 96 other community, environmental, and rights activists who have been murdered in the past three years in Mexico, Saucedo was released. But his pleas to the federal government for protection were ignored, the patrols were ended, and Saucedo is no longer speaking out.

League of Conservation Voters action fund endorses six for U.S. Senate

Cheri Beasley is one of six non-incumbent U.S. Senate candidates that the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund has endorsed.

The fund, whose mission is electing pro-environment candidates, announced its first round of non-incumbent U.S. Senate endorsements for the 2022 midterm elections Wednesday. Its six choices are all Democrats: Cheri Beasley (D-NC), Charles Booker (D-KY), Val Demings (D-FL), Abby Finkenauer (D-IA), Lucas Kunce (D-MO), and Peter Welch (D-VT). 

“LCV Action Fund is all in to defend and expand the pro-environment majority in the Senate, and we are thrilled to support this diverse group of climate champions for election to the U.S. Senate. We know these leaders will deliver on transformational climate action, clean energy, jobs, democracy, and justice for all communities,” said LCV Action Fund Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld. “It is more important than ever that we have a Congress that prioritizes the health and well-being of communities over polluter profits and fights to protect our democracy. These candidates representing states from across the country – and particularly the south and midwest – have been strong advocates for climate policies centered in equity, and we are so excited to continue working with them as senators to build a clean energy future powered by millions of good-paying union jobs.”

The action fund previously endorsed these Senate incumbents for 2022: Alex Padilla (CA), Michael Bennet (CO), Raphael Warnock (GA), Brian Schatz (HI), Tammy Duckworth (IL) Catherine Cortez Masto (NV) Maggie Hassan (NH) Ron Wyden (OR) Patty Murray (WA). And these House non-incumbent challengers: Nikki Budzinski (IL-13), Karen Carter Peterson (LA-02), Donna Edwards (MD-04), Melanie Stansbury (NM-01), Shontel Brown (OH-11), Allison Russo (OH-15), Summer Lee (PA).

EV Sales hit ‘inflection point’ in China and Europe

In China and Europe, two of the world’s three largest automotive markets, sales of electric vehicles reached their inflection point in the past two years, according to Aleksandra O’Donovan, the head of electrified transport for BloombergNEF. In 2019, EV sales accounted for 4% of new vehicle sales in both. Last year, however, they reached 15% in China, with buyers taking home 3.3 million EVs, and 20% in Europe, where 2.3 million were purchased. This surprised her and other BNEF analysts who had forecast much slower growth. What they realized, she said, is that it’s no longer only public policy on climate change that is driving this soaring sales boost, but also consumer demand. 

“It hit us that these two markets have hit their inflection points,’’ O’Donovan said. “What we know now is that this inflection point happens when consumers get excited around electric cars.” That point comes when 10% or more of new passenger vehicle sales are EVs. Last year, U.S. EV sales hit 434,879, just 3% of the total vehicle sales. But that was an 83% increase over 2020. 


A Landmark Environmental Precedent Was Just Set in Virginia. Thanks to frontline activists and a new law promoting environmental justice, Virginia became one of the first states to recognize the disproportionate impact of pollution on Black, Indigenous, and low-income communities, by Crystal “Red Bear” Cavalier-Keck

Justice at the Heart of Climate Activism. The modern environmental justice movement understands the health of the planet and the wellbeing of people are connected, by Breanna Draxler

Why the Chemical Industry Is an Overlooked Climate Foe—and What to Do About It. It’s time to overhaul the chemical industry—for the sake of fence-line communities and the rest of the planet, by Darvi Minovi

Can we sue our way to climate action? “As climate change becomes a more significant issue in the minds of young Americans, it is critical for us to champion effective ideas. It is just as important for us to remain skeptical of proposals that are impractical, unproductive, or self-interested. This is why I am concerned about the idea of using the courts to address climate change. I worry about the expense and lost time that this approach may entail, with likely no environmental benefit,” by Christopher Bernard

Meet the People Getting Paid to Kill Our Planet. American agriculture is ravaging the air, soil, and water. But a powerful lobby has cleverly concealed its damage. (Video and text.) By Kirk Semple, Adam Westbrook, and Jonah M. Kessel

We All Want to Put Those Damned Power Lines Underground. Burying utility lines can be prohibitively expensive, and it is far from foolproof. There are other ways to accomplish the same goal, including the use of drones and smart grids, by Scott Beyer


Having spent the 5+ years working on coping mechanisms for eco-anxiety & climate distress, let me say unequivocally: no amount of meditation will fix climate change. You’ve to go DO SOMETHING IN COMMUNITY to solve ANY part of it. Don’t ask me to talk if you don’t want to hear it.

— Dekila Chungyalpa (@dchungyalpa) February 2, 2022


Jordan Peterson’s Climate Expert is Science Denier Funded by Oil-Backed Think Tank, by Adam Barnett at DeSmog. “The source for author Jordan Peterson’s recent claim that climate change cannot be modeled was a climate science denier who received money from a libertarian think tank funded by oil companies. The Canadian psychologist was widely criticized for spreading climate misinformation this week after telling the popular Joe Rogan podcast’s 11 million subscribers that climate models were full of errors that increase over time, and that climate is too complicated to model accurately.”

Indigenous Farmworkers Can Show How to Heal Our Burning Planet, by Brooke Anderson. Grape harvesters share traditional ecological knowledge to right our relationship with the land—and each other. Anayeli Guzman: “The wineries treat us like they treat the Earth. There is no respect for us nor for the land. The only thing that interests them is production and money. But if the workers and the land didn’t exist, there wouldn’t be a harvest. There wouldn’t be anything.”

Build solar-energy systems to last—save billions, by Dirk Jordan, Teresa Barnes, Nancy Haegel, and Ingrid Repins. “To withstand extreme weather, rapid innovation, and rock-bottom prices, solar installations need tighter quality control, standards, and testing. […] Here, we set out five steps the solar sector needs to take to assure the dependability of solar energy — including installation checks and training, basic research on materials and system failures, and more robust operations and standards. Solar-energy scientists and engineers, investors, consumers, and governing bodies all have a role.”

Los Angeles Is Building a Future Where Water Won’t Run Out, by Brian Eckhouse and Laura Bliss. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s plan to boost the city’s drought resiliency includes new water treatment and recycling facilities. Heavy investments in water storage, rainwater capture, and reclamation are designed to supply 70% of the city’s water from local sources by 2035.

Amory Lovins

Six Solutions to Battery Mineral Challenges, by Amory Lovins. “A flood of recent articles, whether spontaneous or coordinated, seeks to discredit renewable energy, electric vehicles, and other elements of the climate-saving energy transition. Critiques range from grid reliability to land-use, from economy to equity. Among the most widespread and conflictual claims is that it’s immensely destructive if not impossible to find enough minerals to make all the batteries that a global fleet of electric vehicles (EVs) will need. These mineral concerns are indeed not trivial, but are often exaggerated. I’ll outline here how they can become manageable if we include solutions often overlooked.”

Our intersectional future, by Jennifer Sahn. How to preserve what we love about the West in a way that is fair to all cultures and stakeholders, and that doesn’t leave anyone behind. “I want to talk to you about the land. About how it inspires me, grounds me, makes me feel alive. About how passionately I feel that landscapes and ecosystems and species should be protected. But we can’t talk about the land without also talking about human desires and behavior, equity and justice. Because people—each and every one of us—have both direct and indirect effects on the health of the land, and we are all interdependent with the land.”


• How waste coal is fueling Bitcoin in Pennsylvania • Even Low Levels of Soot Can Be Deadly to Older People, Research Finds • The world’s oldest living land animal? At age 190, it’s Jonathan the tortoise • The California Blueprint: Forging an Oil-Free Future, Become a Global Leader in Clean Energy • What Germany’s Effort to Leave Coal Behind Can Teach the U.S. • Why renters are uniquely vulnerable to climate disasters • Coffee may become more scarce and harder to grow, thanks to changes in weather and temperature • What It’ll Take to Get Electric Planes Off the Ground • Spring arrives in U.K. a month earlier than it did in 1980s • Inside Stephen Breyer’s Clean Water Act legacy