Saturday, December 27, 2008

Posting from New Orleans

Today I did something for global warming - my husband and I volunteered for a project in New Orleans called Green Lights. We bicycled to two homes where we replaced for free all possible incandescent lights with compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs). In the first house that was 24 bulbs, in the second 18. We were not able to fit dimmer or 3-way lights, and in one house the bathroom lights were decorative and it would have been an aesthetic loss to change those. I probably would have done it in my house but our young client preferred not to. 

It's a good program. We reflected that even thought we believe in CFLs and have replaced many lightbulbs in our own home, we haven't done them all. Having someone come into the home and go through every room changing bulbs is certainly efficient. Green Lights has already done this in something like 5000 houses, churches and schools in New Orleans, enough to reduce CO2 significantly. The local newspaper ran an article on the program today - what a nice coincidence for us. 

Monday, December 22, 2008

The urgency of Climate Change

Most of the time it's very hard to stay in touch with the sense of urgency that the climate change requires of us. Right now in Bethlehem, PA, where I live, we are chilled to the bone, with chill factors in the single digits, the streets icy and forlorn. We might celebrate the decreased traffic if it weren't for the knowledge of thousands of furnaces burning oil, coal and gas, and huge amounts of electric heat from nuclear and coal powered plants. 

How can we keep our focus on global warming when winter freezes our brains? But focus we must. We can turn off lights we aren't using; turn the thermostat down when we go out, keep the temperature at 68° rather than above 70°; consolidate errands and use the car less, perhaps not at all some days. 

I'm trying to learn to dress more warmly indoors: this year I've taken to wearing leg warmers most of the time. I also recommend bathing less frequently - only every two or three days: you'll save on water and heating energy. Our parents to some degree and certainly our grandparents knew about saving energy, keeping warm, turning off lights.

It embarrasses me that I have cold-induced asthma, which limits my ability to walk outdoors in this kind of weather. Because that is what I would recommend: that we face the cold as the generations before us did, walking and playing even in the coldest of weathers. 

As I started preparing for this walk that starts in March, I read Granny D's book, Walking Across America in my 90th Year. A hearty New Englander, Granny D wasn't afraid of the cold, and she actually took to her cross-country skis when a blizzard blocked the roads in the last few weeks of her trek from Los Angeles to Washington, DC. - she was 90 years old at that point. What an inspiration! 

The scientists tell us that chaotic weather patterns result from global warming, and some places will face much colder weather even as the overall temperatures rise on our planet. So keep the focus, don't let down your guard, and lower your carbon footprint every step of the way.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Join me on the walk

See Introduction below, Dec. 13, 2008
Email me:
Call me: 610.865.9050

Today Jaqi informed me that she doesn't think she'll be able to go on the walk because of complications in her life. I'm very sorry to hear this, and I'm holding out some hope that either she'll find she can go after all, or she'll decide to go on a portion of the walk.

But this throws me back to where I started, which was to do this on my own, like Granny D did back in 1999. 

I am also hoping that other people will be able to join me for pieces of the walk, and maybe even for the whole way. Be sure to email or call me if you want to discuss the possibility.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Introduction to the walk

For all the grandchildren -

Perhaps you've seen the flier that describes our walk; if not, check it out below. This walk is our witness and our prayer in face of the threat of global warming to our grandchildren's future. Not only our own grandchildren but all the grandchildren throughout the world face climate changes that could bring about storms and floods, droughts and fires, shortages of water and food, loss of habitat and homes, violence and combat. 

As of today, December 13, 2008, two of us plan to go on the walk from Galveston, Texas, to Rouses Point, NY: Jaqi, who will drive the support van, and Greta, who hopes to walk all of the 1,750 miles. A third potential participant, Adrienne, awaits a decision according to how circumstances play out. Greta's husband Guy will join us along the way when work permits. We expect others to walk with us for part or all of the way. We would welcome a secondary driver so that Jaqi could walk some.

We plan to start from Galveston in the second week of March, walking first along the coast and inland to New Orleans. From there we will follow Route 11 through Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York, ending on the border with Canada at Rouses Point. We hope to talk to people along the way, hand out information, conduct large walks through the cities, and speak to any audiences that will have us. Even when none of that happens, we will walk in the spirit of witness and prayer.

Our support van will provide us with an office, a kitchen and a place to sleep. Additional walkers should plan to bring their own tents and some money for food, as well as enough money to return home. Along the way we will accept offers of lodging and meals, or just a place to park our van, as long as we don't need to go more than a few miles from our route. We will also accept donations for gas, printing and other expenses incurred along the way.

Some will question the use of a gas-guzzling vehicle, and we share this concern. Indeed it seems like a contradiction as we celebrate walking and ask our fellow Americans to drive less. We believe that the support, flexibility and safety provided by the van will end up enhancing the goals of the walk, and Jaqi would be unable to accompany Greta without the vehicle. To make our trip as sustainable as possible we hope to set the van up with one or two solar panels and take along a solar oven for some of our cooking. 

Here's the text from our flier:

We will walk because we want to do whatever we can to make this world safe for our grandchildren. We believe that global warming is one of the greatest threats to life on this planet, with the potential to cause immense suffering to the generations that follow ours: to our children and especially our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

We believe we must cooperate with all efforts around the world to reduce the effects of global warming. We must do our share to reduce carbon emissions by changing our individual consumption patterns, and by enacting and enforcing legislation that will drastically decrease our national output of greenhouse gases.

We are walking to call attention to global warming, and hopefully to inspire people along the way to do whatever they can to fight this danger. We are not scientists or environmental experts. We are grandmothers (and grandfathers, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, neighbors, teachers ...), concerned citizens who love the earth and its creatures. We hope that large numbers of Americans are ready to join in this challenge to change our ways.

What exactly do we need to do? Our success will lie in a combination of good individual efforts, good laws, and good inventions.

It is our belief that the most effective solutions are those that can be mandated by the Government. We know that it is part of the American spirit to resist big government, but it is also part of our spirit to rise to big challenges. This is an extraordinary time when we must demand that our government set radical goals and we must be ready to take on those mandates as our own. So we are walking to urge you to rise to the challenge and act boldly for the sake of all the grandchildren.

You can contact us at