UM Art Students Create Climate Change Posters

In Winter 2017, University of Michigan students in Catherine VanVoorhis’ Drawing II class viewed the film, Before the Flood, a documentary produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio. In this film, DiCaprio travels to five continents and the Arctic to witness climate change firsthand.

The students then did further research about an issue that is featured in the film, and created posters to help others become aware of worldwide problems and possible solutions.

Here are some of the original poster designs that they created.  A selection of these posters are on display in the University of Michigan Union (530 S. State St, Ann Arbor, MI 48109) until October 30, 2017.

Ann Arbor City Council Unanimously Supports Carbon Fee Dividend Legislation

Tom Stedman

During their meeting on August 21st, 2017 the Ann Arbor City Council unanimously passed a resolution supporting carbon fee and dividend (CFD) legislation. The passing of this resolution represents positive momentum for Citizen’s Climate Lobby whose primary goal is to pass CFD legislation on a federal level. It is also representative of the political power that organized and active citizens hold in a democracy. This is more than just a symbolic victory as the city will take action to advocate for CFD legislation. The resolution will be sent to Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters to propose CFD as a viable piece of legislation to mitigate the impact of climate change.

Council Members Chip Smith (D-Ward 5) and Jason Frenzel (D-Ward 1) sponsored the bill and both offered comments expressing their support for this resolution. Frenzel clarified that the resolution is nonbinding and serves primarily as a catalyst to encourage action on both the state and federal levels. He further commented that the resolution was “well liked in business” due to its clear language and lack of ambiguity regarding the fees. Ann Arbor joins a list of around 50 other U.S. cities such as Philadelphia, Portland, and San Francisco in supporting CFD policy. Councilwoman Kailasapathy (D-Ward 1) agreed with the resolution but had a concern over the lack of “action items”. As a result, Councilman Eaton (D-Ward 4) proposed language that included the suggestion from Kailasapathy for sending the resolution to Dingell, Stabenow and Peters, plus language directing the city to come up with a plan for how to advocate for CFD and work to get the plan enacted. This amended version of the resolution was the one passed by City Council.

Although the primary goal remains federal enactment of CFD legislation, the passing of this resolution is a testament to the hard work of CCL and community members to offer pragmatic, bipartisan solutions for monetizing environmental damage caused by fossil fuel consumption.

Huron River Day Tabling

We had beautiful weather and a great turnout for Huron River Day on July 9!

Check out all of these photos which show why CCL is working so hard to solve climate change — there are so many things we love and need to protect.

Ann Arbor CCL is hosting a Solar Power Hour

Want affordable solar?

Want to know more about Ann Arbor’s Climate Action Plan?

Please join the Ann Arbor Citizens’ Climate Lobby as we host representatives from the City of Ann Arbor for a special information session. We’ll hear about the City’s “A2 Solar Club”, a campaign to incentivize solar installations in Washtenaw County by simplifying the process and offering a low price guarantee. We’ll also learn about the City’s Climate Action Plan goals and what actions the City is taking to meet those goals. Join us to learn more about what our local government is doing to act on climate.

The presentation will be on Thursday, August 10, 7:00 – 8:00pm in the basement meeting room of the Ann Arbor Public Library (343 S 5th Ave).

Hope to see you there!

Bipartisan climate caucus is small step to restoring sanity, civility in politics

By Mark Reynolds

They’re shooting congressmen now. That’s the level of insanity we’ve finally reached in our toxic political environment.

Our nation prays for the recovery of Rep. Steve Scalise — still in critical condition with life-threatening injuries as of this writing – as well as the others injured in a hail of gunfire from deranged shooter James Hodgkinson, who was reported to be a supporter of former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders.

Sanders went to the floor of the Senate to say, “I am sickened by this despicable act, and let me be as clear as I can be: Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society, and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.”

Unfortunately, Sanders’ words will not stop the war between our ideological tribes. They won’t stop some people from exploiting this tragedy for political purposes. After a brief respite from partisan bickering in which House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Speaker Paul Ryan made impassioned speeches on the House floor, most Americans expect Congress will return to business as usual. These days, business as usual means savage attacks in which each side depicts the other as evil.

That’s a shame, because as horrible as this incident was, it should provide us with the opportunity for serious introspection. It should shock us into acknowledging that the current public discourse is unsustainable and bad for our nation. It should make us realize that in order to solve the big problems our country faces we must start listening to each other rather than demonizing each other.

The first small steps toward adopting that attitude are now being taken with the issue of climate change, perhaps the most toxic topic in America today. One day after the shooting, South Carolina Republican Congressman Mark Sanford was asked on MSNBC’s Morning Joe how we could return to civility. This is what he said:

“We’ve got to find a way to dial this back. I would give an example of people trying to do that in a small way. There’s a Climate Solutions Caucus here in the Congress, and what they’ve said is that for every Democrat that goes on, you can’t get on unless there’s a Republican that goes with you. And I think there probably ought to be a little more pairing, whether it’s in a caucus form or whether it’s in legislative form here in Washington, and I think people are going to be looking for ways to do just that.”

The Climate Solutions Caucus was started by Republican Carlos Curbelo and Democrat Ted Deutch, both of whom represent coastal Florida districts that have become ground zero – literally – for rising sea levels. It’s predicated on a simple idea: We know our nation is facing big problems with climate change, so let’s have members of Congress from both sides of the aisle come together, listen to one another, and find the common ground to introduce and enact effective solutions.

It’s an approach that many members of Congress appear to be hungry for. Since the start of the year, the caucus has tripled in size to 42 members with equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats. Following meetings that 1,000 climate advocates recently had with 500 House and Senate offices, that number will soon reach 50 and continue to climb throughout the year.

Pennsylvania Republican Brian Fitzpatrick, a member of the caucus who recently received the 2017 Climate Leadership Award from Citizens’ Climate Lobby, said, “We need to get beyond this Hatfields versus McCoys brand of politics.”

He’s right. We have to end this feud, because it’s a war where people are now being shot.

Mark Reynolds is executive director of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a non-partisan advocacy group working to preserve a stable climate.

Tabling at the Ann Arbor Earth Day Festival

CCL volunteers had a lot of fun tabling at the Ann Arbor Earth Day Festival at Leslie Science and Nature Center on April 23!  Like last year, we asked participants to respond to one of two statements, “One thing I love on Earth is…” or “We must act on climate change because…”  Here are all of the terrific responses.

Statewide CCL Meeting on April 8

Please join us for a statewide CCL meeting on April 8 in East Lansing!

This day-long event is open to anyone interested in furthering national climate change policies, whether you are a seasoned CCL volunteer or have no experience at all with CCL.  Register for the meeting here.

Our Climate Advocate Training takes place from 9:00am – noon.  This FREE workshop teaches the background, philosophy and methodology of CCL, and the details of our Carbon Fee and Dividend (CFD) proposal.  You will learn why CFD is a simple, fair and effective climate change solution and what makes it politically feasible.  The workshop will prepare you to be an effective citizen lobbyist.  Sign up here.

Keynote by Kyle Meyaard-Schaap, National Organizer and Spokesperson for Young Evangelicals for Climate Action

The afternoon session begins at noon with lunch and and a keynote presentation by Kyle Meyaard-Schaap, National Organizer and Spokesperson for Young Evangelicals for Climate Action (YECA). Mr. Meyaard-Schaap will speak about Keeping the Faith: Mobilizing Young Evangelicals Toward Climate Action.

Following lunch, the agenda includes a state planning session and training on levers that build political will for climate solutions such as:

  • Lobbying and Communication Skills
  • Media Relations
  • Grassroots Outreach
  • Grasstops Outreach
  • Chapter Development
The statewide meeting is a great opportunity to:
  • Get training on how to create political will for climate change solutions
  • Meet other volunteers who are passionate about addressing climate change
  • Learn what other CCL chapters are doing and share your ideas
  • Get energized and inspired to take action on climate change

We hope you can join us!  Please register here.  The Climate Advocate Training is free.  The afternoon session, including lunch, is $22 (or $10 for students).  We encourage all Climate Advocate Training participants to stay for the afternoon.

Any questions? Contact annarbor@citizensclimatelobby.org.

Guest Post: A Personal Reflection on Climate Change

The following is a guest post by CCL volunteer Brad Sharp


Climate overload. Too much talk. I suggest to anyone reading this, stop now.  This is only an attempt of someone over fifty looking to justify 30 years of what I call Environmental Futurism; fully understanding that human actions are destroying the earth but waiting until the future to do anything about it.

A lot of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s have enjoyed many things such as traveling thousands of miles, living in warm houses and sharing reliable electricity. We were also fortunate to have owned a lot of personal property which mostly ended up in landfills.

Some of us understood that our actions were having a negative impact on the land, air and water and but we never changed our activities other than we began driving compact cars, eating less meat and living in smaller homes. There were others of us who didn’t look at our environmental impact, we just drove large cars, ate a lot of meat and lived in bigger homes. All the time believing the benefit of consumption was a safe, strong economy. Our right. Either way, most of us assumed that the earth was going to absorb the damage from human activities or the earth was going to be saved by some future technologies. We also believed coal, oil, and gas were the only possible sources of reliable energy.

We all lived through the Cold War, Y2K, No Nukes, H1N1 Virus and so many other possible, “End of the World” scenarios. So, it only makes sense that to us we are going to live through “Global Warming” or “Climate Change”.

So what. Why am I crying now? I’ve enjoyed my life. I’m not rich but I’m also not poor. I’m also not someone to stand up in a crowd and yell, “Hey look at me, I got the answers”. However, I did one great thing in my life, I had kids. They are now young adults and asking, “What the hell is going on?”. To them there is no debate as to whether humans are doing damage to the earth’s atmosphere. That debate is long over. Of course we are. The data is everywhere.

“What data?” “Are you sure?” “I’m living the same way I did 30 years ago” is what I thought. Feeling a little embarrassed and very guilty that I have not been paying attention, only a little out of the corner of my eye, I had to respond. How? What? To figure that out, I had to understand the debate for myself. So, I set upon a goal to seek information regarding the climate system and energy management. I did research at least once a day for 30 days. I pulled out a notebook and every day wrote down what one activity I did for that day. The types of activities included: library research, commuting to work with recorded books, conversing with anyone that had an opinion, reading online web sites of environmentalist, climate scientist, government agencies and listening to climate change deniers.  In addition, following my son’s lead, I joined a group, the Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL). Their philosophy made sense to me since the group’s mission is to have both Republicans and Democrats work together on a solution to solve climate change.

My life has changed. The information is everywhere. The results are obvious. Of course, if you don’t want to believe, the Internet is full of opinions. I’m sure some opinions are genuinely-held beliefs but I’m also sure many of the opinions are from people paid to troll in web and cast doubt.

At first, I would sometimes think, maybe I was just predisposed to hear the message and believe. I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors. Plus, I’ve always thought that it made sense that the atmosphere, a contained system, is being influenced by the constant burning of coal, oil and gas. This burning has been going on for over 200 years. At the same time we continue to remove forests that would have absorbed carbon emissions from the atmosphere. Plus now there are over 7 billion people on the planet and most of the people want to live the same life I have had. Not viable. Now I had proof, the science is clear. With this knowledge, there is no way for me now to do what I’ve always done.

At first I was manic. There must be a solution; I must save the world now. This is also not viable. Hit a wall. Swallowed up in depression. Failure. Lost 2 months to holidays, election, work, and family health issues. Thought maybe I should just lie on the floor and curl up. Tired of talking to people that are indifferent, not concerned or just don’t believe there is a problem.

So now I had to take a step back and change the focus of my research. The debate is over. Globally we have had the 3 warmest years in history over the past three years. A lot of people worldwide are paying attention. Surprisingly, there is a lot of talk about what steps can be taken. The solutions are in the efficient use of water, gas and electric as well as the use of clean, renewable energy sources.

The truth is many of us are stubborn and absolutely unwilling to change even though change is inevitable. There are many new ways to power our lives without destroying the planet. We will need to work together. There will need to be a process for the re-training of workers from one job market to another. Very large corporations will need to adapt to the new business realities. Large investments in technology are needed. Neighbors will need to accept the look of solar panels, wind turbines and other renewables. This change is going to happen whether we like it or not. This change to investing in efficient, clean, renewable energy will power our economy. It is going to happen sooner or later.  So why shouldn’t we be the leaders?  Why not start now? We must take action for future generations who will ask “What did we do?”

Fortunately, there are positives everywhere. In Michigan, where I live, there are two great examples. The cities of Grand Rapids and Traverse City have very ambitious sustainability plans.  It’s not about big government, it’s about good government; acting for the future now.

Profile of a CCL Volunteer: Mason Sharp

In December I was able to sit down with one of our younger volunteers, Mason Sharp, to find out what interests him and why he decided to get involved in CCL.  Mason graduated from Michigan State University this past spring, and became interested in CCL around the same time.

After you read the interview, be sure to listen to the song Mason wrote and recorded about climate change, Sound the Alarm (link below)!

Enjoy.


Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Ann Arbor.

Did you go to school through all of the Ann Arbor Schools?
Yeah, I want to Bach Elementary School, Slauson Middle School and Skyline High School.

You recently graduated from college, right?
Yeah.

Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I went to Michigan State for Sustainable and Organic Horticulture.

In any of your classes at Michigan State did they talk about climate change?
Well, they talked about sustainability. And I think people only really hinted at climate change a few times, but it was definitely mentioned, especially in my soil biology class. My teacher presented some shocking information that just took me off guard.

Do you have a favorite book or a favorite movie?
Favorite movie I’d say Princess Mononoke by Hayao Miyazaki. I can’t think of a book off the top of my head.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I like farming, working, I like being busy, I like music.

Listening to music or playing music?
Playing music, and listening to music, live music especially.

What are you most excited and passionate about?
I am passionate about a lower carbon lifestyle.

Do you have a favorite place?
Some of my favorite places are Mackinac Island, The Home Ranch in Colorado, and Frog Holler Farm.

Had you been to Frog Holler before you worked there?
Once, to visit – I was checking out a bunch of different farms to see which one I wanted to work on over the summer and I went to Frog Holler and there was something sort of cool about it… I don’t know, the guy that answered the door came out barefoot, and it was like wintertime, and I was like…

…this is the place for me?
Yeah.

Who are some of your favorite musical artists?
Billy King, The Accidentals, The Raisin Pickers… but I go through fads, so I’m sure they’ll change.

I know that you wrote a song about climate change. Was that inspired by anything in particular? [You can listen to Mason’s song, Sound the Alarm, here]
I don’t know, I think… part of the chorus is “Sound the alarm, we’re causing irreparable harm,” I think I got the phrase “irreparable harm” from James Hansen. Something about when he talks is just very convincing and he’s a really good communicator.

So, was it like, when you heard that phrase you thought that would be good in a song, or was it like you were trying to write a song and that phrase came to mind?
I think the second one, yeah.

What motivated you to act on climate change?
Well I read an article by Bill McKibben and it was like a slap in the face. Because I’d heard about climate change and global warming, and it just didn’t seem like something that was urgent but it was like something that was a reality. But you know it was almost exciting to me, like a changing environment, things are going to get warmer, that’ll make things interesting. But then it was like, oh, wait, this is horrible…

When you read the article?
Yeah.

Do you remember what the article was, or where it was?
It was actually in a book called The Post Carbon Reader, I think that’s what it was called. Because initially I was actually worried about the concept of peak oil, of like running out of oil, and then he had this article in there and I was like oh, wait a minute, this is our top issue, not peak oil.

Why did you end up choosing CCL as an organization to get involved with?
Well, because, once again, I think James Hansen had a huge influence on me, and when he talks about the Carbon Fee and Dividend, he says that this is the best solution because you take the money and give it directly back to the public, as opposed to using it make the government bigger, which is something that conservatives would accept, which is something you need because I think there have been a number of instances where people have tried to put a carbon tax or cap and trade in place, like in Australia, and it ended up having conservative backlash and they got rid of it. And also in Canada they’re trying to do that too and already Saskatchewan and one of the other provinces up there is suing the federal government over them trying to impose it. I think if they did things the right way…

It would be more effective?
Yeah, I’d definitely like to see this particular approach at least attempted, to see if it works the way he thinks it will, and I think it’s got the most promise.

I think you told me you had watched a video by James Hansen?
Yeah, he was being interview by Democracy Now at the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015, and he mentioned the group Citizens’ Climate Lobby in that interview, and it was the only group I had heard of that was doing anything about it. I don’t even think I knew about 350.org at that time. And I realized that if you want to have an impact on something that you think is important or you’re passionate about, you should find people with like minds to work with. And they might already have something going, and so they might be ahead of you, so maybe you should just join that and add on to what they’re doing.

What are some of the things that you’ve done as a CCL volunteer?
I’ve written letters to Debbie Stabenow, Gary Peters and Debbie Dingell and Mike Bishop. And I have met with Debbie Dingell and one of her staffers with some other members of CCL. And I think I’ve done other things.

Didn’t you give some presentations at Frog Holler?
Oh yeah, I did some outreach, I tried to get more people to join the group, and I got a few of my coworkers at Frog Holler to come to one of the meetings.

It seems like you’ve talked to quite a few people about CCL.
Yeah, the bottom line is that CCL has this framework, and its approach, and its really well organized. They have a goal and a series of steps they’ve made to achieve that goal, and they just need people.

What is the most challenging aspect of working with CCL?
That it’s hard to see instant results.

What do you like best about being involved with CCL?
I like the calm, slow but steady approach. It’s not radical, I definitely wouldn’t describe it as some radical organization, its just people taking a common sense approach to the issue, and trying to work with both sides of the isle.

Through your volunteering and activism on climate change, what has surprised you the most?
You’d be surprised at how many people realize how serious the issue is.

What has been the most rewarding?
I think meeting people that legitimately care and people that have probably seen this develop over time, because this issue has been known about since the 1980s. I didn’t really fully grasp this until last year, but people that have seen this develop over time, that probably have all the wisdom that I don’t have. They lived through the Bush Senior era, Clinton, George Bush… it’s crazy how much time has passed.

Has being involved in CCL changed you in any way? How?
Yeah, I wish more people came to these meetings, because I think if they did, they would have more hope. I think if people would have been coming to these meetings for the past 10 years, it kind of breaks that cynicism that nobody cares.

So it has given you some hope?
Yeah, and it’s also educational. You realize… it helps you identify what the problems are. It helps you understand it more, the political side of it.

You participated in a lobby meeting with Representative Debbie Dingell. What was that experience like for you?
It was a little intimidating. But it was impressive to see all the members of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby engaging her in conversation right off the bat, like they felt really comfortable, and I remember David Gurk nodded at me when he wanted me to speak, which was cool, we were like a team there working together. And I think it showed… I feel like Debbie Dingell is a little bit frustrated that she feels like there’s no Republican counterparts… we invited her to join the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus and she felt like there was no chance that any of the Republican members in Michigan would even consider joining the caucus. So it’s like she knows that, she agrees we need to do something but she probably meets with these guys every day and is like, “I’ve tried, believe me.”

Some people in that meeting commented that they were really impressed with the way you were able to talk to her from the point of view of being a young person whose future is the most at risk. Did you feel that you were able to connect with her, or make an impression on her?
I think I understand the science of climate change and I can communicate it effectively, but I think I wasn’t any more articulate that anyone else at the meeting, it’s just that my age… I think its good for members of Congress to see that there are people in their 20’s or younger that are paying attention to what’s going on in Washington.

Yeah, I think that was really valuable.

What’s one thing you hope to save by stopping climate change?
Well, humanity. Or at least some life, so that there’s something that’s still alive on the planet even if we go extinct, it would be nice to see, even if there was some bacteria left that could evolve and eventually we could have a complex ecosystem again.

What is something that gives you hope?
I think that there was a huge backlash after the election. I can see on social media that people who weren’t talking about this issue before the election are now bringing it up all the time, so it’s really bringing the liberals out of the woodwork in some cases, or maybe not liberals but just environmentalists. Maybe this makes it clear that it’s a crisis.

What advice do you have for people who are worried about climate change but don’t feel they can make a difference?
I would say, you need to join a group. Citizens’ Climate Lobby is a good one, and they can point you to other groups…

…that might fit for the kinds of things that you’re interested in?
Yeah. Just being around people that care and share the same ideas that you share is infinitely helpful.