Wisdom Magazine's Monthly Webzine Skip Navigation Links
Wisdom is a web compendium of information with articles, services and products and resources related to holistic health, spirituality and metaphysics.
Home  About  This Month's Articles  Calendar of Events  Classified Listings
 Educational Programs  Sacred Journeys & Retreats  Holistic Resource Directory
 Article Archives  Wisdom Marketplace  Web Partner Links
 Advertising Information
Sue Miller
Karen Clickner
Dancing Heart
Lou Valentino
Elizabeth Joyce
Sue Miller Art
Nancy Johansen
Light Healing
Wisdom Magazine
Alternatives For Healing


by Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss

Dear EarthTalk: How are environmentalists using Instagram to further their causes?
  -- Jason McNeil, Akron, OH

Instagram, the photo-based social network which Facebook bought in 2012 for a cool $1 billion, continues to rack up new users, doubling its base to 700 million monthly active users over the last two years. Environmental groups, activists and photographers have realized that they can get their messages out more effectively by embracing this newfangled communications medium that uses imagery to connect with the world’s increasingly attention-deficit oriented population of Internet users.

At the heart of the Instagram experience is hashtags, which are essentially keywords that Instagram users append to their posts so others can find them through simple text-based search. When someone searches for a particular keyword on the Instagram smartphone app or website, a list of imagery bearing the corresponding hashtag will pop up as results. Users can then choose to “follow” (i.e. subscribe to) any of the Instagram accounts that show up and will then see every new post by that “publisher” accordingly.
Several well-known green groups have active Instagram accounts, so eco-conscious users have many choices for getting their pictorial information. The Sierra Club (@SierraClub), the Center for Biological Diversity (@centerforbiodiv), Inherit the Earth (@inherittheearthorg), The Nature Conservancy (@nature_org), Conservation International (@conservationorg) and Clean Energy Advocates (@netzero.global) are among the better curated non-profit accounts to follow. And the International League of Conservation Photographers (@ilcp_photographers) features some of the best conservation-oriented imagery on Instagram from its network of hundreds of the world’s leading nature photographers.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of Instagram-only “feature” accounts devoted to environmental issues that are worth following. These curated Instagram account select posts from other users to feature on their accounts. Photographers and other users simply append corresponding hashtags to their posts and then these curated accounts can choose to pick them up and feature them for their own followers to see. Some excellent examples include #everydayclimatechange which features compelling imagery highlighting the challenges we face due to global warming. #climatechange is another hashtag sure to satisfy the urge to stay connected with climate activism. Wildlife lovers should be sure to check out @bbcearth from the BBC and its landmark Planet Earth series as well as @WildlifePlanet, which curates some of the best wildlife photography on the web. @Waterlust seeks to inspire scientific curiosity and sustainable products to support marine science research and education.

Likewise, several conservation-oriented photographers have embraced Instagram as a primary means for showcasing their work and inspiring environmental concerns and activism. Camille Seaman (@camilleseaman), Paul Nicklen (@paulnicklen), Sean Gallagher (@sean_gallagher_photo), Brian Skerry (@brianskerry), Mattias Klum (@mattiasklumofficial), James Whitlow Delano (@jameswhitlowdelano), and Arrati Kumarrao (@aratikumarrao) each post jaw-dropping and inspiring photos regularly and are well-worth following if you need inspiration to do the right thing by the planet.

Every day new Instagram accounts with an ecological focus pop up. The best way to stay current is to locate existing feature accounts and then “follow” new photographers as they appear into these feeds. And unlike other forms of media, it doesn’t take much effort to learn about our world from Instagram.

CONTACTS: Instagram, www.instagram.com.

Dear EarthTalk: How does Canada’s newly released “Food Guide” differ from the food recommendations offered up by the U.S. government? -- J. Wheeler, Albany, NY
These days, many countries around the world produce food guidelines periodically to help improve nutrition and encourage healthy lifestyles among their populaces. The most recent update for Americans came in 2013 when the Obama administration released its MyPlate guidelines suggesting that a healthy diet consists of 30 percent grains, 40 percent vegetables, 10 percent fruits and 20 percent protein, the latter including some dairy. In unveiling the MyPlate guidelines, First Lady Michelle Obama suggested that Americans need not measure out exact proportions but instead simply make sure to exercise portion control and fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables and the other half with lean proteins, whole grains, and low-fat dairy.

But earlier this year Canada came out with its own new set of more detailed food guidelines which public health advocates are praising as an improvement over America’s relatively simplistic standards. Indeed, Canada’s new Food Guide incorporates specific recommendations for eating the right foods according to an individual’s age and gender, and also offers tips regarding serving size for each food and preferred cooking methods, as well as suggestions for maintaining a wholesome lifestyle and body weight with daily physical activity.

Based on input from some 20,000 Canadians, Canada’s new Food Guide encourages the intake of plant-based proteins like legumes and soy products rather than meats and dairy (although still advises to give whole milk, low-fat yogurt and cheese to young children). "There’s no more dairy food group, a win not only for public health but also cultural inclusivity, given that up to 90 percent of some non-European ethnicities are lactose intolerant,” says Anna Pippus, an animal rights lawyer and director of Farmed Animal Advocacy at the non-profit Animal Justice. “It’s also a huge win for the cows who really don’t want us to kill their babies so we can steal their milk.” Pippus adds that instead the new guidelines “sensibly advise people to drink water.” 

Canada’s new Food Guide also recommends avoiding fruit juices—even those that are 100 percent fruit—as well as other sweetened beverages and energy drinks, instead suggesting water as by far the best way to stay hydrated. The Canadian guidelines also promotes making food from scratch whenever possible, while acknowledging that frozen, packaged and canned foods can be worthy substitutes if necessary. And in a nod to the interconnectedness of our food systems, Canada’s new guide highlights how the choices we make about what we eat impacts the environment and has serious consequences regarding keeping the planet safe and clean.

While Canada may be far ahead of many countries in promoting healthier lifestyles and smarter food choices, we can all learn a thing or two from our neighbors to the north about how making small changes in our diets can lead to healthier, longer lives. The release of Canada’s new guide also underscores the need for the U.S. to update its own food guidelines accordingly. But regardless of whether or not the Trump administration feels compelled to issue its own dietary updates, concerned Americans can take matters into their own hands by upping the proportion of organic and locally sourced foods on their dinner plates and tempering a balanced diet with moderate amounts of daily exercise.

CONTACTS: MyPlate, www.cnpp.usda.gov/MyPlate; Canada’s Food Guide, www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-nutrition/canada-food-guide/get-your-copy.html; Animal Justice, www.animaljustice.ca.

Dear EarthTalk: What exactly is Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project and how does it work to train activists? -- Kelly G., Washington, DC

The Climate Reality Project (CRP) is a non-profit launched in 2011 by Nobel laureate and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore to address climate change following up on the release of his influential book and documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth. CRP serves as the nerve center of Gore’s advocacy and education efforts to spread the word about the need to ratchet down our greenhouse gas emissions to stave off the cataclysmic effects of global warming.

CRP’s primary focus right now is in training volunteer advocates—so-called “Climate Reality Leaders”—to go out into their communities and educate policymakers and members of the public about the need to take action to mitigate climate change while countering so-called “climate denial” efforts funded by oil companies and perpetuated by right wing think tanks. So far, some 10,000 individuals from 135 countries have participated in CRP training events.

The primary tool these Climate Reality Leaders use to spread the word is a regularly updated slide show created by Gore in 2011 that lays out the facts behind climate change. It details example after example of human-induced global warming wreaking havoc by lashing low-lying areas with massive storms, killing thousands with blistering heat waves and turning human populations already marginalized by war and famine into migratory climate refugees searching for safer places to live.

Meanwhile, CRP’s free “Reality Drop” news aggregator tool collects online news stories about climate change that activists can share on social media channels to dispel myths about global warming to help set the record straight for millions of friends, fans and followers.

Most recently, CRP has supported the creation and distribution of the follow-up to an Inconvenient Truth, a new documentary entitled An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power. The film, released worldwide in July 2017, follows Gore around the world, documenting how global warming is already ravaging the planet. CRP is working to get the film in front of millions of viewers, as it did with the original film, in hopes it will inspire a new generation of citizen activists.

And come December, CRP will host its seventh annual “24 Hours of Reality,” a free, live-streamed multimedia event that showcases what’s being done to fight climate change in each of the world’s top 24 greenhouse gas emitting countries. It aims to show viewers what they can do even if their country’s leaders aren’t as invested in positive change as they could be.

“When you talk, your friends and family listen,” reports CRP. “That’s why it’s so important that every climate activist use their voice to spread the truth about the climate crisis.” Even those who haven’t attended a CRP event can download the free “I Am Still In” action kit which teaches people how to build support for clean energy and other climate solutions at the community level.

“There are many ways to use your voice, and whether you write a letter to the editor of your local paper or call your representative or talk to your neighbors, you can make a difference in sharing the truth and shaping public opinion right when your planet needs you,” concludes CRP.

CONTACTS: Climate Reality Project, www.climaterealityproject.org; Reality Drop, www.realitydrop.org; 24 Hours of Reality, www.24hoursofreality.org.

Dear EarthTalk: Since when did Michael Bloomberg become a great environmentalist?
  -- Jackie Miller, New York, NY

Michael Bloomberg was primarily known as a financier and media tycoon long before he became one of the most beloved mayors in New York City history. But what most people still don’t know about Bloomberg is that he is fast becoming one of the world’s great environmentalists through his work to hasten the transition to renewable energy and mitigate the effects of climate change.

Indeed, working to stave off cataclysmic global warming is nothing new to Michael Bloomberg. In 2005, he represented New York City as a founding member of the C20 Cities Climate Leadership Group (later expanded and renamed “C40”) where the world’s largest cities forged a working agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In 2010, still-Mayor Bloomberg took over as chair of C40 and is credited with spearheading the establishment of measurable benchmarks for success and expanding knowledge-sharing between cities and partner organizations while staging two landmark mayoral climate summits in Brazil and South Africa. During his three-year stint as chair, C40 grew to include 63 major cities.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg has been quietly directing hundreds of millions of dollars toward climate-related environmental causes through his Bloomberg Philanthropies. In 2011, he made waves with the fossil fuel industry by donating $50 million (and later another $30 million) to help the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign close half of all U.S. coal power plants (and replace them with clean energy) within six years.

In late 2013 Bloomberg teamed up with former U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and another billionaire environmentalist, Tom Steyer, on Risky Business, an initiative to assess and publicize the economic risks to the U.S. associated with climate change. Their inaugural report identified the “large and unacceptable” economic risks from unmitigated climate change to American businesses and long-term investors, while a follow-up analysis two years later details how cities and states can respond.

In January 2014, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Bloomberg as Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change. That same month, the Bloomberg Philanthropies went big on oceans, committing $50 million over five years to the Vibrant Oceans Initiative to help reform fisheries and increase marine wildlife populations.

Most recently, Bloomberg led the charge to align voluntary emissions reductions efforts by U.S. cities, states and businesses to meet Paris climate accord goals even without buy-in from the Trump White House. He points out that the closing of dozens of coal plants across the country is already helping to get the U.S. within two-thirds of its Paris targets, and that the last third is within reach if the private sector and cities and states resolve to do it.

Bloomberg then pledged $15 million to help the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change make up for climate mitigation funding it would be losing with the U.S. pulling out of the climate deal. And a good chunk of his subsequent $200 million commitment to back inventive municipal policies to give mayors a stronger hand in national politics is slated to fund climate solutions.

It’s no wonder that environmentalists are among those calling for a Bloomberg presidential bid in 2020.

CONTACTS: Mike Bloomberg, www.mikebloomberg.com; Bloomberg Philanthropies, www.bloomberg.org; Risky Business, www.riskybusiness.org; Vibrant Oceans Initiative, www.investinvibrantoceans.org.

Dear EarthTalk: Could global warming really already be a factor in the evolution of wildlife species? -- Vince Dominick, Camden, NJ

No doubt the quickly changing climate is already triggering various evolutionary shifts in a wide range of species. And while we can’t be sure just how different wildlife species will adapt (or not), scientists are already noticing some surprising changes as a result of rising surface and ocean temperatures thanks to human-induced global warming. 

To wit, a recent study published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal, Global Change Biology, by scientists from the University of British Columbia, found that the body size of larger fish species decreases 20 to 30 percent for every one-degree Celsius increase in water temperature, given their gills’ inability to keep up in our warmer and increasingly oxygen-deprived seas. (The top 2,000 feet of the ocean water column has warmed 0.3 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969, and the speed of the warming is faster than ever.) The researchers add that smaller fish are likely to have an advantage given that their body sizes are less likely to outgrow their respiratory systems. The result could be a profound shift in marine food webs with untold consequences for the health of the ocean, not to mention the state of our dinner plates (nearly a billion people around the world rely on fish as a primary source of protein).

And there’s proof that global warming is shrinking wildlife species on land, too. An October 2014 study by scientists at Durham University in Britain found that chamois mountain goats in the Italian Alps weigh 25 percent less than their same age counterparts did 30 years ago. University of Maryland researchers found that six out of seven species of U.S. salamanders studied have shrunk an average of eight percent overall since the 1950s, with each successive generation shrinking in average body size by one percent. Another example comes from a National University of Singapore study that found that ectotherms (toads, turtles, snakes) are also shrinking around the world in response to hotter climatic conditions.

A February 2017 review of scientific literature on global warming’s broad footprint on wildlife by 17 researchers collaborating from around the world suggests that we may actually be underestimating how much climate change is affecting wildlife populations. The analysis of 130 studies on the ecological consequences of climate change revealed that 47 percent of land mammals and 23 percent of birds—more than 700 wildlife species overall—have already been affected by global warming. “There has been a massive under-reporting of these impacts,” says University of Queensland researcher and study co-author, James Watson, adding that only seven percent of mammals and four percent of birds showing a negative response to climate change are currently listed as “threatened” by the IUCN, which maintains the world’s “Red List” of endangered species.

“We need to greatly improve assessments of the impacts of climate change on species right now, we need to communicate this to wider public and we need to ensure key decisions makers know that something significant needs to happen now to stop species going extinct,” warns Watson. “Climate change is not a future threat anymore.”

CONTACTS: Fish study: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.13831/abstract; goats: www.dur.ac.uk/biosciences/about/news/?itemno=22559; salamanders: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.12550/abstract; broad footprint: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.13831/abstract.
EarthTalk® is produced by Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of the nonprofit Earth Action Network. To donate, visit www.earthtalk.org. Send questions to: question@earthtalk.org

Add Comment

Article Archives  This Month's Articles  Click Here for more articles by Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss
Wisdom Magazine
Nancy Johansen
Light Healing
Elizabeth Joyce
Lou Valentino
Alternatives For Healing
Dancing Heart
Karen Clickner
Sue Miller
Sue Miller Art

Call Us: 413-339-5540 or  |  Email Us  | About Us  | Privacy Policy  | Site Map  | © 2024 Wisdom Magazine