86ºF in the Arctic Circle

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It is 30ºC (86ºF) in the Arctic circle as I sit on the air conditioned subway in downtown Manhattan. I am on my way to talk to another community group about climate change and inside I can feel my blood boiling. Every time I turn on twitter these days another apocalyptic weather report pops up, and it is like another layer of hope is peeled away my already depleted stores. And yet here I am – in New York – and heading to another place were people expect hope. They are desperate for hope and I do not to disappoint them, no matter what I feel on the inside.

Often times, I am far from hopeful. Reading that report from northern Finland to me feels like the terrifying hopelessness I experience when my child has a raging fever. It is a sickness in the pit of my stomach. It comes when I have given them all the medicines I can, and still the fever rages on out of control. All I can do is sit and wait patiently to see if the antibodies are strong enough to overcome the infection. I can dampen down the sweats with love, sing lullabies and just pray. Like me, if you have seen your baby so weakened, you find yourself crying out instinctively to a bigger power – hoping, praying, willing that there is someone out there, hearing your cry. You become aware that the forces at work are much larger than you. You try to control what you can and hope for the best.

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With Bill McKibben at the US launch of Climate Generation

I am here in the US to launch my book on climate change and parenthood – Climate Generation. It is my best attempt to dampen down the fever which is gripping the planet. Book launches are generally happy affairs, as Bill McKibben acknowledged at the launch in Boston College. The publication of a book is the culmination of much work and heart ache – many weeks and months stolen away from family and friends. It should be a time to be proud of achievement. Yet this is a bitter sweet affair. If I am totally honest, I would rather be anywhere else. I love writing, I love public speaking and I love America. I have dreamed about this moment – coming to the Big Apple and launching a book, my book. It sounds very glitzy, and I can get giddy about being almost famous, about being on the cusp of something big.

But it wasn’t meant to be like this. The book I have published is a far cry from the Anne of Green Gables style novels I dreamed of writing in my youth. It is not a book for the faint hearted and some have told me it should carry a warning. It is meant to disturb. It is meant to shake people out of a false reality into that shocking truth: it is 30C in the Arctic Circle. Not in the future but right now. That is the truth I now occupy with many others and it sucks. Success to me is when I get an email from a reader who says “Thank you for disturbing my peace.” And for each one of those I receive, I endure those who call me alarmist and caution me about scaring children. “Shame on you – frightening little ones.” I politely tell  them that my book is not for children and I really hope my own children never have to read it.

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With Harriet Shugarman, Founder of @climatemama at the House of Solutions

Hope is never lost forever, but the truth is that it hope and despair co-exist in the climate crisis. Anxiety is never far away. For me, hope springs from the chance encounters which serve to remind me when I least expect it that perhaps there is a larger force at work in our world. That force has been at work in a creative, powerful way, during my trip to the US and elsewhere. I have had so many random, serendipitous, coincidences that these have become the norm. I have met the most amazing people, like the Climate Mamas out on Governors Island, and the many climate activists in socially inclusive parishes like St. Francis Xavier’s and St. Brigid’s in Lexington (below). Such encounters fill me with a glimmer of hope that even at this late stage, humanity has the power to overcome the worst of what we have sown if we join forces. Yet we need to hurry up.

As I exit the Subway onto 6th Avenue the humid heat hits me. The rain is coming and people scuttle around with umbrellas at the ready. New Yorkers live life prepared for what is coming round the corner.  The city is a resilient human hive. The human energy is relentless yet even now it is focused on a model of excessive human consumption which seems from another era. As I walk down 6th Avenue I imagine what might happen if that same New York energy could only be harnessed now in the struggle against climate change. The possibilities are endless.

My New York book tour continues until this Wednesday. Join us for We, the Climate Generation – an intergenerational gathering of climate activists on Wednesday afternoon.

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Climate Generation – US Book Tour Dates

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Here are the dates and information for Boston and New York Climate Generation book events. Hope you can join me for some very inspiring conversation with some of the leading voices on climate action in the USA.

BOSTON – Thursday 6th June

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TICKETS https://www.facebook.com/events/2044642939178689/
4.30pm – 6.30pm – Supper event in Boston college for BCCM members and friends. Informal supper and talk on “living laudato sí” in Ireland. Participants at book launch welcome to join.

Friday 7th June
9.30 – 11am – Book talk event in Lexington with ‘Mothers Out Front’ group.

Climate Generation: Awakening to Our Children’s Future In her new book Lorna Gold, mom, and climate activist, has an important message for parents, grandparents and all who care about the future generation. Endorsed by Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, and Mary Robinson! Fri, Jun 7, 9:30-11 AM, St. Brigid Parish Center Auditorium, 2001 Mass. Ave. Lexington

NEW YORK
7pm – Book Talk on Climate Generation in Pauline Bookshop in Mid-town Manhattan
FREE ENTRY AT DOOR https://www.facebook.com/events/441798073305065/

Sunday 9th June

Book Event Intergenerational Justice and Climate Change – a Mother’s Perspective’ 1pm – 3pm, St. Francis’ Xavier’s Church, Manhattan FREE TICKETS ON THE DOOR
https://www.sfxavier.org/events/lorna-gold-author-of-climate-generation-awakening-to-our-childrens-future

Wednesday 12th June

NOT TO BE MISSED!!!

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You are invited to an afternoon of reflection and discussion on how all of us, young and old, can become the generation that rises to the challenge of climate change. With inspiring contributions from those in the front line of climate action today.
“Hope comes when we act, and only then.” – Greta Thunberg, Climate Striker
“Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great, you can be that generation.” – Nelson Mandela

The UN was founded on the message of ‘We, the Peoples’ after world war had ravaged a whole generation. Now, the world stands on the cusp of an existential crisis due to ecological collapse. The breakdown of the climate, caused principally by human activities, is a key driver of this crisis. A rallying cry needs to go out that we are the peoples’ – we are the climate generation: the first to fully comprehend what is happening to our earth, and the last with time to rescue it.
In advance of the UN Climate Change Summit in September, this event will bring together activists for climate justice of all ages who consider themselves the climate generation. We will inspire hope by sharing stories of how young and old can work together, supporting each other, to bring about powerful change. This will be an event designed to inspire hope that young and old can join together to fight for a safe planet.

Speakers include:

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Dr. Lorna Gold is a well-known Irish author and climate activist. She is vice-chair of the Global Catholic Climate Movement and a member of the Irish Government’s Advisory Group on the national Climate Dialogue.

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Nydia Leaf is a member of the New York City Granny Peace Brigade (GPB), and has worked in Theatre and Education while also advocating for Peace, the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons, Organic Farming, and for addressing the Climate Emergency. The GPB works to oppose the violence of racism, poverty and militarism.

Alexandria Villaseñor is a fourteen year old climate activist. Inspired by Greta Thunberg, she skips school every Friday to strike in front of the UN headquarters to call for world leaders to take immediate action on climate change. Her mother, Kirstin Hogue holds an MA Climate and Society from Columbia University.

Sonia Ingram is an expert in financial management expertise and sustainable environmental and thought leadership. She works with businesses to increase profits, whilst lowering investment risks, implementing carbon dioxide drawdown solutions and new brand marketing strategies. She is an advocate for NYC climate mobilization act and fossil fuel divestment.
TICKETS AVAILABLE
2-3.30 We, The Climate Generation
Salvation Army International Social Justice Commission
221 E 52nd St, New York, NY 10022
4 – 5pm Meeting on Faith-based fossil fuel divestment (same venue)
Resources:
Book Website: https://www.newcitypress.com/climate-generation.html
Interview with Lorna: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clWud-fuGpw&t=271s
Same interview only audio: https://www.spreaker.com/user/11070749/climate-generation
Lorna’s blog: www.lornagold.com

Press Contacts:
Matteo Pota (New City Press) matteo.pota@newcitypress.com
+845 3669031
Lorna@lornagold.com
+353863996132 (whats app)

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All councils must declare a climate, ecological emergency

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Last Friday I was down in Lisdoonvarna, County Clare, for the second global climate strike. I joined in with the children in Mary Immaculate Secondary School who were celebrating their win in the ECO-UNESCO Young Environmentalist competition. The entire town had mobilised – and many were out at nine in the morning in the soft mist to march down the main street with the children demanding climate action.

Following the march, we all crammed in the town Pavillion, together with Seamus Walsh and Evelyn Cusack from Met Eireann, for a morning reflecting on Laudato Sí, which was published four years ago last week, the science of climate change and the impact it is going to have on North Clare. The prize winners presented their excellent project: “Communicating Climate Change in North Clare”. It was a short documentary film – which should be compulsory viewing for everyone – made by the children over the course of the year.

The 15  minute film is based on a thorough examination of the local geography, climate science, as well as local knowledge, and provides a comprehensive overview of the current and projected impacts of climate change on this small, yet extraordinarily unique, part of the West of Ireland.

The film outlines the expected impacts of a projected 3 or 4 C rise in temperature by the end of the century if emissions continue on their current trajectory. These include sea level rise of over one metre, coastal erosion due to more intense storms, flooding of the Burren cave system, to mention a few. One projection saw the complete isolation of parts of North Clare into an island and the loss of low lying towns like Lahinch and Liscannor.

Moreover, the projected damage to a unique Burren habitat was striking – rising temperatures would allow the introduction of invasive species, such as the red lily beetle, and increase the incidence of blue tongue virus in cattle. Many species of wildflower would be wiped out. By all accounts, what the children presented was terrifying, especially for the thirteen and fourteen year olds present.

The presentation struck me as the most stark picture of the climate and biodiversity emergency facing Ireland I had seen. Through a thorough analysis, a group of third year students had done it in a way that brought the issues to life in terms of actual physical places, homes on cliff tops, coastal infrastructure, species, cultural landmarks, and futures all at risk. They brought climate change home. What they presented was not a fantasy – but the science. It is a real emergency. That it was children who had done this did not escape the adults. One of the dad’s who spoke after the film almost broke down in tears: “why is it our children are the ones who have to tell us this truth? I am so sorry – I am ashamed as an adult to be putting this onto you.”

Returning from County Clare, and seeing the upsurge in support for climate action in the local and European elections, I wonder what comes next for Ireland. Weekly climate strikes in Ireland have been going on now for 26 weeks – half a year. On the whole, the weekly strikers are a small but steadfast band of strikers of all ages. Together with the big school protests, these strikes are clearing having an impact as the results of the elections showed. Young people may not have votes, but they have voices – and they have adults prepared to vote on their behalf. The ‘grey green vote’ became a phenomenon in this election, perhaps for the first time. Canvassers reported an upsurge in grandparents who were voting for their grandchildren. They were ‘gifting their vote’.

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Now, however, a step change is needed. In the coming weeks, Minister Bruton will present his All of Government Plan on Climate Action – and expectations are high that it will deliver. The stark reality of the climate and biodiversity emergency, so eloquently articulated by the pupils of Mary Immaculate Secondary School, must be reflected in the thinking and actions of government and every county council across the country. As a start, it would be fitting if each newly elected council started out in June by declaring a climate and biodiversity emergency – and then acting on it. Such declarations are not fanciful or symbolic. They require robust analysis, investment and forward planning. The climate emergency must move to centre stage and shape all levels of decision-making in the next five years.

And the climate protests must grow stronger. There may have been an upsurge in support for green policies, but we remain far behind many European countries in making the hard, but necessary choices for a safe future. Many more people need to engage with the protests, recognising that there are no homes, no jobs and no safe futures in a rapidly warming Ireland. The climate emergency is everyone’s emergency as it is about all our futures. In view of the global general strike planned for 20th September, is therefore essential that the climate movement in Ireland broadens the base and engages many more people, organisations and groups in campaigning for a safe future.

 

 

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No Climate Justice without Social Justice

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In my Reboot Podcast this week we cover a lot of ground. We discuss the reality of climate change, capitalism and the hardwiring of unsustainability and over consumption within the system, the Green New Deal, the links between Climate Change, Inequality, Housing and Health. We also talk about my recent attempts to convince the advisory group to join the protests and reminisce about my early days as an activist in the Global Justice Movement with Rory in the late 1990s.

Finally, we talk about what you can do – the need for citizens to act. The next strike is May 24th – will you be there? You can get a copy Climate Generation HERE.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 47:29 — 21.7MB) | Embed

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Celebrate Earth Day – Have an eco-friendly Easter

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Easter Egg manufacturers are just not getting it…. ridiculous amounts of packaging

This weekend we will consume almost 18 million Easter eggs in Ireland. For a population of 4.7 million, that is a staggering amount of chocolate – and of packaging.

And the packaging on Easter eggs is a pet hate of mine. According to leading recycling company Repak, under half of the packaging will be correctly recycled. Think about it – how much additional landfill waste will be generated!

I actually thought that this year due to the amount of publicity around the ocean plastic problem, that producers would have mended their ways.

It seems, however, that our insatiable appetite for large useless packaging (rather than the quality of the chocolate) still abounds. Over-sized boxes, foil wrapped eggs still line the supermarket shelves.

So as we head out to purchase those last minute eggs, how can we avoid filling our bins and the oceans with plastic this Easter? Here are some top tips….

  • Pick eggs which have as little extra packaging as possible
  • Pick eggs that are not foil wrapped if possible – it cannot be recycled
  • Avoid eggs that have a plastic window in the box. If they do, you need to separate the window and box for recycling.
  • Avoid eggs with soft plastic wrap – it can’t be recycled;
  • Reuse the egg boxes for crafts – they make great houses for small toys!

More information can be found on mywaste.ie.

Eco-friendly fun

Easter is a great community occasion. One of the things I love in Ireland is the local Easter egg hunt tradition. We always have one in our local estate. This year, how about thinking about an eco-friendly idea instead of hiding eggs wrapped in foil? Any eggs that are left can be a danger to animals – as well as an eye sore.

One suggestion is to run a treasure hunt – with an Egg as a prize at the end. We did this last year and it worked a treat! Hide paper clues around the estate with riddles. Each riddle gives a letter – and when you collect them all you unscramble the word. You can then claim your prize! The kids and adults loved it and it created almost zero waste.

Using natural eggs is another option. These can be emptied or hard boiled, painted with food colour and rolled. When I was growing up we had a wonderful egg rolling tradition. We would paint the eggs then roll the eggs from the top of a hill. It marked the symbolism was the stone from Jesus’ tomb. It was great fun. I am not sure how many eggs got eaten, but at least they could be composted! There are more Eco ideas for Easter here.

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Cherry blossoms are beautiful this year – get out and enjoy them on Earth Day

Next Monday is also Earth Day. This is an international day that has been running for 49 years. It is a day when we celebrate our mother earth and try to make changes to protect her. Many celebrations are happening all over the world. You can find a list of what is going on here.

If you can’t get to a celebration, here is my suggestion on what to do to mark Earth Day in your own way! You could spend the day outdoors – go for a walk in the forest or by the beach to appreciate nature together. This time, however, bring re-used plastic bags with you and collect litter as you go (you may want to wear gloves too!) You will be amazed at how much random stuff you find. When you get home, before you dump it, if you can, spread it out and look at what was there. Really powerful way to teach kids about looking after the planet. If you enjoy it, you might check in with 12 year old Flossie and her beach cleaners – they regularly organise beach clean-ups around Dublin.

Join us on the 27 april for more practical family ideas on how to reduce your environmental impact and protect your childs climate future. Sign up here for an exciting free event for families!

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