Good News

There is good news in all of this gloom and doom. The key here is to understand that knowledge is power

It’s not that we see different things then those who are ignorant... But once we understand our situation on a deep level, we learn to see the same things in a new light.

We begin to understand that the decisions to choose ‘the easy way’ or follow along with mainstream society runs counter to our deepest feelings of compassion, respect, and connection with our living world.

As our understanding of these issues grows, the idea of treating the natural world as a ‘resource to be exploited’ no longer feels like the moral thing to do. This isn’t often a feeling that people understand on the surface, but it exists within each of us on some deeper level. Eventually we come to understand that consuming beyond our means compromises our own sense of self-respect.

At this point it can’t be understated that we are still within the realm of the possible. The apathy and fatalism to which we’ve all succumbed at some point can be just as dangerous as the climate change denial of the U.S. Republicans. (link)

While researching this essay, I’ve been impressed by the genius which has been showing up on the internet in response to climate change. People young and old, from all over the world, are coming up with awesome solutions to our current shared crisis.

Antonio Vicente bought a patch of land in Sao Paulo and began planting a forest. Over the next 40 years he added 50,000 trees to the hilly area.

These trees have slowed the degradation of the region and brought enormous benefit.
Antonio understood the crucial relationship that trees have with water flow and his land has eight waterfalls and no flooding. (link)

Wang Enlin spent 16 years studying law so that he and his neighbors could sue a chemical company.

In 2001 his home and surrounding farmland were flooded with toxic waste, motivating him to spend his time learning what could be done. In 2015 he and other victims won $119,000 and they are still fighting for stronger controls. (link)

In Jigana, India, over 500 students have come together with the help of coordinator Shashank Sharma to plant thousands of saplings around government schools. (link) Using the Japanese Miyawaki method, the trees have already grown to 3 meters (10ft) tall in only one year.

The students have now gone on to revitalize the Kyasanahalli Lake and Vabasandra Lake areas. As of 2019 the students have planted over 12,000 trees and created habitat for hundreds of animals.

There are hundreds of reforestation projects like this one happening around the world. (link) (link)

The power of creativity shows that we can use our talents for the benefit of the whole world, rather than just for the sake of making a buck.

But instead of sharing news about electric cars, metal straws, or other greenwashing....I’m going to share with you REAL, innovative solutions which have a huge potential to lower our footprint and bring greater harmony with our planet.

(and these aren’t costly items either, they’re either cheap or free).

  • In 1979, Jadav Payeng started growing bamboo on a parched island near Bangalore. He devoted 30 years to the project and has now built a dense forest covering over 550 hectares (1300 acres). With little outside attention, Indigenous groups all over the world have been quietly reforesting their lands over many years. (link) (link) Of course most of us aren’t going to spend that much time, but groups like Friends of Trees and the National Arbor Day Foundation can help you find ways to plant trees around the neighbourhood.

  • William Kamkwamba was a 15 year old boy from Malawi who became famous for building a wind turbine from scrap parts to provide electricity to his village.

  • Imagine building something on the same scale as the Great Wall of China... but out of trees? That’s what Wangari Maathai and the Great Green Wall Initiative is currently developing.

  • The goal is to halt the southward spread of the Sahara desert with trees and native plants.

  • Repair cafes - where people get together as communities and repair, rather than replace, broken items - have been spreading to cities around the world.

  • Vanessa Nakate at 24 years old is already an author, public speaker, and internationally recognized activist speaking for protection of the Congo Basin Rainforest, sometimes called 'Earth's second lung.' Like it's Amazon cousin the rainforest hosts thousands of indigenous tribes and sequesters millions of tons of carbon every year.

  • Food not Bombs is an international group of people who take food that would otherwise be discarded, and turn it into meals that they serve to the public for free.

  • Precycling’ is the term for choosing products with the least amount of packaging, which reduces waste and construction of landfills. Doing this helps to move towards a zero trash life. Katherine Kellog, Lauren Singer and others like them are managing to live comfortable lives while producing no trash at all.

  • A lot of smart people have figured out how to build their own solar panel for super cheap. Here is an instructables on how.

  • Want to heat your house for free? No, I'm not selling anything. But there is a concept, called passive solar heat. It’s actually super easy to make a solar heater out of soda cans. You can look up ‘pop can solar heater’ on youtube, but here is the quickest way that I’ve found.

  • Composting is a great way to turn food waste into healthy soil. If you don’t have a yard or a lot of space, a worm bin is an easy way to do compost right under the kitchen sink. This woman shows you how.

Notice that these ideas don’t involve spending a week’s paycheck or giving money to some online monopoly. We're now moving towards a new era of post-consumerism, where creativity becomes the driving force rather than money.

Beyond taking steps like this in our own life, we can share our new-found understanding with others and be a positive influence for change throughout the community.

So many amazing people have revised their understanding of humanity’s place in nature, taking on a more humble approach in how we relate to the world. As the picture here shows, each time that one of us makes a change it influences friends, coworkers, and family to re-think their own choices and consider the benefits of healthier and more compassionate lives. The benefits soon ricochet all over the world.

Jan Gerdes was a dairy farmer in Northern Germany and recounts how horrible he felt in causing so much suffering to farmed animals.

Jan has since given up animal products, and with his wife they've turned the farm into an animal sanctuary where he now has a healthy relationship with the cows.

Chris Mills worked on a dairy farm for over 20 years. He shares that the pivotal moment for him came when he found a truckload of pigs halted in traffic.

The temperature was -34C and he could clearly recognize the suffering of those animals. Since then he and his family have enjoyed animal-free meals for life. (link)

Christine Mariani Egidio started raising sheep for meat in 2009. “It wasn’t long before she came to understand the reality. “Even though I learned that sheep all have individual personalities, are SMART, and definitely form bonds with one another, show joy, fear, friendship –every human emotion, I still did not make the connection.... that farm animals are no different in their desire and right to live... I was haunted by [the recognition] that the animals don’t want to die." (link)

As we begin to learn and understand the truth behind the curtain, we feel more empowered to choose differently.

Popular films like ‘Speciesism,’ ‘Forks over Knives,’ ‘What the Health,’ and ‘Cowspiracy’ are wonderful tools to help us raise awareness for animal-free diets.

At the same time, influential public figures like sports heroes, politicians, Hollywood stars, and activists are embracing plant-based meals and using their positions to be positive role-models in our culture.

We can be inspired to recognize that we all have the power to embrace compassion and to help our loved ones to enjoy the same.

By the same token, when we redesign our cities to improve the safety of regular people; bus riders, bike riders, and pedestrians; we begin to transform the culture to one in which children, grandparents, the disabled, and everyone else can feel included.

When I was younger, most people viewed cycling as just a ‘weekend warrior’ fringe.

Advertisements reinforced this idea by promoting ‘Lance Armstrong’ stereotypes and hunched over bike styles. But now brilliant people all over the world are showing how to move human-powered transportation into the realm of everyday trips. Not only just for lightweight errands, but even larger grocery trips and urban adventures.

The more that we embrace sensible transportation the more city governments will support it, and vice-versa.

Laurel Irving World News 7

A great many people are working hard to encourage and promote humane cities which can be navigated by regular people just as easily as delivery trucks.

  • Clarence Eckerson Jr. & Streetfilms have created a huge library of videos showing the value of healthy public spaces

  • Adam Conover has created a show called 'Adam Ruins Everything' in which he clears up many mistaken beliefs around "jaywalking" and electric cars.

  • Ciclovias or Sunday Parkways, inspired by former mayor Enrique Penalosa, have helped people experience how wonderfully peaceful carfree places can be.

  • Mayor Hidalgo of Paris is using Coronavirus to take aggressive steps toward returning the city to people.

  • Seville, Spain used to be a standard European town with auto congestion and pollution until Manuel Calvo was given the green light to help rebuild the network, resulting in a 150% increase in bike traffic.

  • Hundreds of brilliant people are making bikes that don’t just carry people, but groceries, pets, refrigerators, or even a bicycle powered mobile building