What on EARTH?! 🌍

by | December 11, 2020

We’re mixing it up and going back to the original “What on EARTH?!” structure for the Crowdsourcing Sustainability newsletter this week!

For those who don’t know, this was my way of using an acronym to balance the newsletter when I first started writing it in 2018 – each letter in “EARTH” got its own section…as you’ll see below 🙂


💰Financial momentum continues to build

More investors are waking up every day and moving their money out of the destructive economy of the past and into the sustainable economy of the future.

The State of New York just announced they will divest from fossil fuels by 2025 and decarbonize their entire $226 billion pension fund by 2040.

🇺🇸 The US could get a lot done on climate in the next 4 years

A few key things here:

  1. Instead of blocking climate Solutions, the US will now be prioritizing the acceleration of them over the next 4 years. (Quite frankly, it’s pathetic that I find that exciting but here we are. Let’s all recalibrate our standards away from accepting a continuation of the deadly status quo and what we think of as “politically feasible” to demanding what is scientifically necessary.)
  2. The Biden administration has a mandate to act on the climate crisis. He ran on climate action and the people gave him a ticket to do everything in his power on this.
  3. If clear-eyed and strategic about the situation he facesBiden could get a lot done on climate even without the Senate (though those races are winnable and would make a huge difference.)

And though I am infuriated by a cabinet pick like this (Seriously? The guy with deep ties to the fossil fuel industry was picked to liaise with climate activists?), I am also tentatively hopeful because it looks like Biden, on average, is serious about integrating climate action into every facet of government decision making.

But I really can’t shake a nervousness. There are other indications of, in my mind, too much coziness with the fossil fuel industry. This is an industry that, for 50 years now, has demonstrated they will try to thwart any attempt at meaningful climate action. And they invest less than 1% of their capital expenditures in low carbon technologies. So unless and until they start doing 180s, thinking they’re part of the solution is naive at best. On the contrary, their massive subsidies must be removed, and they should be held accountable for doing everything in their power to bring about this crisis. They should not have the ear of people leading on climate.

Personnel is policy. So I hope upcoming choices reflect an understanding that the status quo is deadly, that what has been tried in the past hasn’t worked, and that people coming into the administration should have both the desire and ability to reimagine and rebuild a world that works, first and foremost, for people and the planet.

We’re on a better path now, for sure. But our work is not even close to done here.

So let’s root for this administration’s success on climate. Let’s push them to do what the science demands. And let’s do everything in our power to help make as much positive systemic change as possible at home and around the world with a leader who has repeatedly said he will prioritize this issue.


🔥2020: Don’t think of it as the hottest year in the last 100 years. Think of it as one of the coolest in the next 100.

2020 will likely be the hottest year on record.

Until we start consistently taking more greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere than we’re putting into it, temperatures will keep skyrocketing.

(Credit where it’s due: I’m blending language from Dr. Jaci Brown and Cristi Proistosescu in that headline. Powerful, right? …caught my eye at least.)

🧊 The Arctic in particular is getting cooked.

“[The region is] warmer, less frozen, and biologically changed in ways that are scarcely imaginable even a generation ago.” – Rick Thoman, Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy

Brian Kahn summarized the latest report on the Arctic well in “The old Arctic is gone”. Here are some of the horrifying takeaways:

  • Temperatures were persistently 7.2°F to 10.8°F (4°C to 6°C) above normal over large areas.
  • “Siberian fires this year burned an estimated 23 million acres, an area nearly six times the size of this year’s record blazes in California.”
  • Research earlier this year showed that climate change led to a 600-fold increase in the chances of fires like those seen in 2020 amid staggering 100-degree heat.”
  • “Greenland’s ice melt has also quadrupled over the past 20 years, locking in ever greater rates of sea level rise.”

What we’re seeing unfold is very bad news for many reasons – but it’s especially bad for sea level rise and what that means for coastal communities and cities.

As far as I’m aware, the only way to stop continent-sized ice from melting is to reduce the temperature.

Random quotes 📜

It’s been a while, so here are three!

“If most of us are ashamed of shabby clothes and shoddy furniture, let us be more ashamed of shabby ideas and shoddy philosophies.” – Albert Einstein

“Every truth passes through three stages before it is recognized. In the first, it is ridiculed. In the second, it is opposed. In the third, it is regarded as self-evident.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu

Take sustainable action

Alright, I’ve got two ideas for actions you could take this week.

✍️ Write a Dear Tomorrow letter if you haven’t already.

This is a powerful process. It’s worth it if for no other reason than to be able to tell your own climate story and better understand why this matters to you so much.

For more details or to see my letter, check out the newsletter or podcast episode on this. Here’s the writing prompt:

Think of a person important in your life – your child, a friend, a family member or your future self. Imagine it is 2050 and they receive a message from you written today. Your message shares your thoughts about climate change and your promise to take action to ensure they have a safe and healthy world.

🚶Share where you are on your climate Journey in the Crowdsourcing Sustainability slack group.

If you’re not sure what to do next or how best to make a bigger climate impact, ask everyone for their ideas💡and advice – lots of amazing people in there 🙂

Highlighting awesome leaders

🎧 I recently updated the list of my 14 favorite climate and sustainability podcasts here.

I highly recommend following the two dozen hosts of these shows as well. Here they are on Twitter if you’re interested.

Also, Jan V. recently started a thread in our slack community where people are sharing some of their favorite podcasts as well. So find out what everyone else is listening to and feel free to add your own personal favorites to the list!

This post originally featured in the Crowdsourcing Sustainability newsletter. Sign up for the newsletter below!

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