Tag Archives: Environmental activism

Deepak Chopra: Does Climate Change Threaten The Survival Of The Human Race?

We’ve all heard the terrifying statistics that predict the fall of civilization with the progressing decline of the environment. At times we might feel too doomed to even change our ways and work toward sustainability.

In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak Chopra addresses climate change and social action. Joined by David Gershon, founder and president of the Empowerment Institute, the two argue that by taking collective action, we can make an impact on the world and on our environment for the better. Gershon addresses some of the key components of social change, which include protest, personal growth, and education.

What do you think? Do you feel inspired or hopeless about the environment? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

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4 Green Technologies That Are Actually Selling

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People are becoming increasingly concerned about their carbon footprint. However, just because we are concerned about this as a society does not mean that all green technologies are selling as well as they should be. In fact, too many of them have gone by the wayside. Luckily, there are still green technologies that are actually selling.

Hybrid Cars

The price of hybrid cars keeps coming down, and the demand keeps going up. As the price comes down, more people can afford them. When buying new cars, one of the biggest things families look at is the gas mileage. The next thing they look at is the overall price of the car. So, if they can get a car that is relatively inexpensive but will give them great gas mileage, they are going to jump on it. This is the biggest reason that these vehicles are selling extremely well.

Cleaning Supplies

Have you walked down the cleaning supplies aisle at the grocery store lately? Take a look around; you’ll see that there’s a lot of “green” products. That’s because these things sell like crazy. No one wants to clean their home with harsh chemicals. Instead, they want to get things clean, but do it as environmentally friendly as possible. Companies that create cleaning products have noticed this and now make green cleaning products that fly off the shelves.

Home Solar Panels

As the solar panel technology is getting smaller and more easily available for home use, it’s also becoming more popular. People are buying solar panels to put on their roofs to power their homes. Some use these to supplement their power, while others bring in so much from their solar panels that they are able to sell back to the power company in their town. In addition, many new homes come pre-installed with solar panels. This is a technology that is becoming almost as common as high-speed Internet in homes – it’s not quite there yet, but give it a few years.

Windmill Farms

One of the biggest sellers for cities and states is the wind technology. In fact, many areas are setting up windmill farms. These expanses of land literally have windmills set up on them, and that’s it. They harvest the power of the wind and use it to produce power. That power takes the place of more traditional power creation methods, lowering the carbon footprint of the city. Plus, many cities that do this are able to sell the excess power they create to other cities or even other states. In addition to larger entities doing this, some individuals are able to set up windmills on their own land. Sometimes the land is rented to larger organizations for the power creation.

There are a lot of green technologies out there. Some have come and gone without much stir in the community. Other technologies have yet to be tested on a larger scale. What are your thoughts on the green tech industry? Do you see potential for economic growth and job creation through these endeavors?

Plugging the Leak One Action at a Time

Since the oil spill in the Gulf began over two months ago, I’ve felt heartsick about the impact on wildlife, the coasts and our precious waters. I use oil. It fills the car. It comprises the raw material for the plastic bottles, containers and bags for groceries that I buy. It makes up the fertilizers used to grow veggies and fruits too. Oil is also an ingredient in detergents and household products. Though it may have had some benefits, the oil intended for making more of these things is now spilling out into our priceless ocean and destroying life and livelihoods.
 
I’ve wondered what can I do to make a difference? How can I stop the flow? The answer is very practical. While I can’t go plug up the well or take off work to clean up a beach, I can cut down on consuming oil. If BP and other companies are pumping it, it’s because I’m using oil and so are millions of others. I can’t change the world, but I can change my habits.
 
Cutting down or eliminating household products made from a petroleum base adds a piece to the puzzle of how to move away from oil. Read the labels. Health foods stores and some environmentally conscious companies offer green products that don’t depend on the oil companies. Read the labels and find out which ones have a good reputation for using environmentally sound standards as well.
 
Think your beauty products are safe from the petro-chemical synthetics? Check the labels. Many are packed with the derivatives of oil.  So are many of the clothing items made from synthetic fabrics like polyester, nylon and acetate. Food also suffer from the same problem. The wax used to give cucumbers and apples a sheen comes from petrochemicals. But there are alternatiaves.
 
Unlike traditional farms, organic farms and food companies sometimes forego petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides. Check into the practices of your favorite companies and don’t forget to bring your wicker basket or cloth bag. When I see the recycling bins at the stores brimming with plastic bags, I’m inspired that people are making efforts, but oil is still the basis. Using recycled paper or a bring-your-own bag policy can make a difference. Some companies are beginning to use corn and plant based “plastics” that are entirely recyclable. Encourage them to keep it up.
 
Oil is symbolic of energy. We’re moving from the use of energy that is polluting, toxic and environmentally and economically deadly to a more clean, natural, light energy including sun, water and wind. Keep your heart open to possible ways to introduce this new energy as we phase out oil. And remember that the ocean is made up of many drops of water. Every bit of your effort counts.
 
Bio: Debra Moffitt-Leslie
Debra Moffitt-Leslie’s book,"108 Spiritual Practices for Challenging Times" will be published by Llewellyn Worldwide in 2011.  Read more at  www.debramoffitt.com  Her essays and articles appear in publications around the world and focus on drawing attention to the spiritual in a mostly material-minded world.  She’s on the faculty for The Sophia Institute and gives workshops in the U.S. and Europe.

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / marinephotobank

20 Ways to Make a Difference

When we do what we were made to do, mentoring others and finding volunteer opportunities, we discover that we all have resources to create a personal legacy, using our time, our money, and our ideas. Information on how to give back through charitable donations, involvement in non-profits as a volunteer, and starting one’s own business with the intention of giving something of value back to society. (Charity, environmental, philanthropy, volunteering and mentoring.) Here are 20 ideas to get started…

1. Homeless Shelters and Food Banks
Most people think of helping out during the holidays but homeless shelters and food banks can only survive on the assistance and kindness of others. Cleaning and maintaining the facilities, passing out food, using your business skills to organize their inventory and books are just some of the ways to help out. Local businesses and restaurants help with the donation of food or linens to keep up with the demand.

2. Neighborhood Cleanup
Schools, youth organizations, church groups, businesses, neighborhood associations and others in the community can participate in a community and neighborhood cleanup. Plant trees, eliminate graffiti and water lawns to create a cleaner more peaceful neighborhood. This helps decrease crime by building pride and relationships within the community. It also gives an opportunity for the youth to learn about community service and build character by seeing firsthand the results of destruction of property.

3. Habitat for Humanity
Volunteers help build houses for people in need. Build character and friendships a long the way. You can also learn some great skills in the process. They are international so if you live near a big city, chances are there is one local office near you.

4. Make a Wish
The Make a Wish foundation is nationwide. "It gives and joy to children with life-threatening medical conditions. There are opportunities to volunteer based on skill set. See www.wish.org to learn more.

5. State and City Programs
Many state parks and beaches offer programs, clean up days or places to volunteer your time and talents. Working outdoors with kids or at the nature park are just some of the choices out there.

6. Hospitals
Hospitals offer a lot for interns and volunteering. You can work with kids who need some good cheer or help keep the facilities clean. This can also offer insight into the medical field for those interested in the demanding career. There are hospitals everywhere so this is a great place to start.

7. The Ronald McDonald House
The Ronald McDonald House is a place where families can go if a child is seriously ill. Instead of a hospital the child is treated in a warm home setting. "These programs provide a bridge to accessible health care and allow families more time together, which helps in the healing process." Volunteers can bring activities and fun to the house or help in the clean up and care of the children.

8. Senior Citizens Centers
Senior citizen centers offer volunteer programs to provide friendship and community activities to senior citizens. Friendship and caring is always needed as well as assistance in the health care of residents.

9. Animal Shelters
For all the pet and animal lovers, animal shelters need volunteers to help take care of animals, keep facilities clean and work with the public. Often the amount of public awareness for shelters is the difference between life and death for many animals. Call a local animal shelter for more information.

10. Special Olympics
"The Special Olympics is an international program of year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with mental retardation." The site also describes a wide variety of volunteer activities, including sports training, fund raising, administrative help, competition planning and staffing and many more.

11. Mentoring
"Mentoring is the presence of caring adults offering support, advice, friendship, reinforcement and constructive examples – has proved to be a powerful tool for helping young people fulfills their potential." See mentoring.org for more info and needs near you.

12. Red Cross
The American Red Cross helps people in emergencies whether it’s half a million disaster victims or one sick child who needs blood. Volunteer opportunities exist across the country. Contact your local Red Cross for more information.

13. Salvation Army
The Salvation Army provides social services, rehabilitation centers, disaster services, worship opportunities, character building activities for all ages and character building groups and activities for all ages. Volunteer opportunities exist across the country.

14. Go Green
There are many new programs to aide in the clean up and awareness of many environmental issues. Sometimes this work involves beautiful locations and unique animals. Go from energy efficiency production to beach and river clean-up and then save the dolphins. Environmental activism is heroic and worthwhile.

15. Libraries and Literacy
Many libraries need help re-shelving books, running children’s programs, making books available to the community, and so on. Volunteers can assist library staff and the public during the Summer Reading Program. Contact a local library for volunteer opportunities in your area. 

16. Your Talents
We are all unique and have either natural talent or training that can contribute in some way to many organizations. People skills, technical skills and even artistic skills aide in the awareness and reaction to charities. Most people want to give but need to be inspired or notified to make a difference. They need and call to action and a great speech, poster or website often does the trick.

17. Walk for Charity
Many charities have group events and charity walks. This is a great way to utilize your time and meet other people who take action to make changes in the community. Creating groups is a great way to help out and have a good time.

18. Fundraisers
Organize a special event to bring in donations to important causes. Simple fundraisers include cookie sales, car washes and yard sales. Golf tournaments, poker tournaments and dinner parties are also great ideas to bring attention and needed funding to your cause. The more creative the better.

19. Donate
Find the right charity to put your money into. Find a reputable organization that locates charities that fit your needs. Make sure their books are open that the money is getting to the right people. An organization that we believe in is MTDN.com. They connect users to charities and offer businesses the opportunity to sponsor.

20. Start your own group
Schools and community centers provide a great resource to pull people together for a great cause. What cause is important to you? Your ideas and your time are valuable. Use your talents to make a difference and you’ll be amazed at the changes you can make.
 
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Everyone is a Steward of the Planet

As a mom, meduim, shaman and ardent enviromenalist, I have been thinking of how to teach my kids about my beliefs without hitting them over the head with it. How do I impart my love for nature, it’s relationship to our souls, and it’s basis in spiritualism? How do I show them that the earth holds us in an embrace that allows us to soar as spirits as we live here on it’s surface. All that beauty and stillness that reflects who we are inside needs protecting. Are we are able to take little actions that help restore balance, even if it seems unimportant or even silly?

A few weeks ago my family and I drove upstate from NYC to visit friends for the weekend. It was a beautiful day and the kids were excited to be going to the country. As we drove, I started to notice wtih dismay a lot of road kill. I had never seen so many dead animals along the side of the road. Beavers, racoons, a possum, various woodchucks.

We saw four dead deer, a site I had never seen before. Something inside me was very disturbed by that. There is something magical about deer for me. Especially being a city dweller. Deer appear for a moment along the side of the road. If you are lucky, you see them, and then they are gone. Such regal, gentle creatures. To see them along the side of the road, some brutally mangled, was undignified and violent. Even the kids grew very somber as we saw the last one.

We spend a nice two days drinking in the outdoors. As we were leaving on the back country road, we pulled onto a busier main road to get to the NY State Thruway. We hadn’t goen very far when I saw something in the road. As I came up to it, and was about to run it over, I saw that it was a turtle crossing the road. I drove over it without hitting it, but just barely. Everyone in the car had the same thought, “Stop the car Mommy, we’ve got to save that turtle!” I turned around and drove back. My husband Tom, who is usually maddenly slow, jumped out of the car and shepherded the turtle across the road, completely stopping traffic. Interestingly enough, the cars that stopped waited until they saw the turtle reach safety, and then they moved on. Tom waited, afraid that having saved the turtle, it might head back onto the road (he had experience with this). It dissapeared into the tall grass and my kids and I all breathed a sign of relief. He’d made it! Tom got back in the car jubilant, as the kids and I cheered. I only hoped we had actually pointed it in the right direction!

It was amazing that such a small act made us feel so good. It’s as if we righted the wrong of all the dead animals we had seen the day before. The sense of helplessness we had felt seemed to vanish. Instead of continuing on, we all had connected with something inside us that said “act now.” Our intuition had reached through and we all heard it together. That was the lesson right there, just waiting for us on the highway.

Spirit is intertwined with nature in that it’s the simple order of things. In societies where spiritualism is revered, nature ceremonies and a shamanistic viewpoint form the consciousness of community. Most ritual takes place out side and requires a connection with the earth, with a rock, with water. It involves the elements, the sun, the moon, the weather. In nature based societies spirit is imbued in all things. Spirit is as real as everything else that our consciousness holds. The ancestors walk with us, spirit helpers walk with us. And our relationship to the earth is vital. The earth holds the dreamtime, the underworld, the unconscious. If we succeed in destroying it, we destroy all that too.

Lessons in stewardship find us if we are listening. And if we are willing to act, even if it seems small, we can find a connection to spirit in those moments. We can find a connection to our hearts and our souls that can sustain us and help us to take bigger actions, and before we know it, we are changing our selves and we are changing the planet. It all starts with holding it in our hearts to ask the question – How can we take care of our planet? The spirits around are waiting to hear us ask. And we will be shown the way.

Deep Ecology Champion Arne Naess Passes

Amidst the euphoria swirling around this historic inauguration was the passing of Norwegian philosopher, Arne Naess, on January 13. Perhaps best known for coining the term “Deep Ecology,” Naess was one of Europe’s most well respected and prolific philosophers of the 20th century. His writings and lectures spanned Spinoza, the nonviolence of Mahatma Gandhi, and 20th century environmentalism.

I cross country skied with Naess when he was in his mid-80s. On a sunny spring day, we strided and poled three or four miles to the Peter Grubb Hut at the base of Castle Peak, not far from Donner Pass. We stopped occasionally to take in the sweeping views of the Sierra Nevada, and Naess fanatically checked his pulse. At the hut, he insisted on shadow boxing and fooling around with my friend, the outstanding Norwegian skier, Jon Erik Brondmo, and me. In addition to his childlike high energy, I had this feeling that Arne had a special lens onto the world, that he was sensing and relishing in layers of aliveness that the average person could not see or experience.

Perhaps this is what helped him to discern the important differences between “Deep Ecology,” which addresses the root causes of biodiversity loss, and “Shallow Ecology,” that attempts to remediate environmental problems with end-of-pipe fixes. Naess very clearly stated his concerns about the growing human population, the rise of affluence and technology, and the reverence for all of the earth’s species. Among his more notable quotes, I remember him saying that he was a pessimist for the 21st century but an optimist for the 23rd century, when he envisioned that extreme changes in the human population, in ecological and social justice, and other developments would once again turn us toward a more harmonious way of life. But Naess believed in personal responsibility and urgency. “Every week counts. How terrible and shamefully bad conditions will be in the 21st century, or how far down we fall before we start on the way back up, depends on what YOU and others do today and tomorrow. There is not a single day to be lost. We need activism on a high level immediately.”

Below is the 8-Point Deep Ecology Platform drafted by Arne Naess and George Sessions:

1. The well-being and flourishing of human and nonhuman life on Earth have value in themselves (synonyms: inherent worth, intrinsic value, inherent value). These values are independent of the usefulness of the nonhuman world for human purposes.

2. Richness and diversity of life-forms contribute to the realization of these values and are also values in themselves.

3. Humans have no right to reduce this richness and diversity except to satisfy vital needs.

4. Present human interference with the nonhuman world is excessive, and the situation is rapidly worsening.

5. The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantial decrease of the human population. The flourishing of nonhuman life requires such a decrease.

6. Policies must therefore be changed. The changes in policies affect basic economic, technological, and ideological structures. The resulting state of affairs will be deeply different from the present.

7. The ideological change is mainly that of appreciating life quality (dwelling in situations of inherent worth) rather than adhering to an increasingly higher standard of living. There will be a profound awareness of the difference between big and great.

8. Those who subscribe to the foregoing points have an obligation directly or indirectly to participate in the attempt to implement the necessary changes.

NY Times Obituary

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