Climate Action

In the interest of all of us working together to help each other mitigate the in-progress climate apocalypse, I thought I’d update my list of actions.

Maybe a lot of this will seem tiny and pedantic, it seems that way to me, but I include it because I don’t want anybody else to think anything they can do is insignificant. Some of it likely also will seem huge and daunting; believe me that it felt that way to me before I built up the momentum to make it happen.

It all matters. What you’re doing matters.

Please–and especially if you’re doing something I’m not–would you share your own version of this?

New as of this week:

  • Cooking with meat only one night a week.
  • Using no plastics to wash dishes.

Forthcoming:

  • Using no plastics in dental hygiene.
  • I might have a line on some very local eggs I can get with net zero packaging.
  • More as I think of it.

What I was already doing:

  • Residential rooftop solar panels, 4.2Kw.
  • Electric car, 2017 Chevy Bolt, charging exclusively in my garage, from the solar panels.
  • Two 80 gallon rain barrels, from which I do 85% of my watering.
  • Fractional greywater reuse from dishwashing, shower and basement dehumidifier, amounting to maybe another 5% of my watering.
  • Making all my own bread and yogurt saves on some packaging. Kneading my bread by hand saves some energy.
  • Two apple trees, a cherry tree, an elderberry bush, strawberries, grapes, hops, sunflowers, sunchokes, garlic, raspberries, serviceberries etc, feeding my family and local wildlife as much as I can from our tiny third of an acre.
  • Compost, both using redworms in the basement and a big old compost pile outside.
  • No pesticides, no fertilizer.
  • Homebrewed beer and cider accounts for maybe half of the alcohol consumed in my household, saving some packaging and shipping. Also the electricity for my brew kettle comes from solar, I reuse waste water for cleaning or next batch and compost or bake with spent grains. Also 100% of the apples I use for cider are wildcrafted or home-grown.
  • Biking. To the grocery store, liquor store, garden store, hairdresser, health food store, hardware store, post office, to the woods and fields for foraging. And of course for exercise.
  • Volunteering with my town’s environmental resources committee.
  • Volunteer litter cleanup.
  • Reckoning is a nonprofit annual journal of creative writing on environmental justice, which I founded in 2016 and fund 90% on my own.
  • No plastics for shaving.
  • Buying local as much as I can, less than I could/should, but things like fruit, veg, honey, grain for brewing, beer. I try to buy beer in cans for the reduced packaging, though I’d go back to glass if anybody in this country would reuse beer bottles.
  • Living in a freshwater-locked state (Michigan), I don’t eat ocean fish unless I travel to a coast.
  • Volunteering and donating to Elissa Slotkin, who is running for my local flippable House seat, MI-08.
  • Foraging for herbs, mushrooms, wild fruit. I do this responsibly and small-scale, but it saves having to buy those things, saves packaging and shipping.
  • I wear clothes and shoes until they fall apart. Wife constantly pointing out holes in everything.
  • Human-powered lawnmower. Also human-powered snowblower (shovel), human-powered leafblower (rake), human-powered weedwhacker (sickle/shears).
  • I buy few new books (I use ebooks and the library and buy used and share).
  • My kid has a million toys, a lot of them are hand-me-down, but I do pretty well keeping him entertained with sticks and leaves and stuff around the house. That’s got to mean something.
  • I don’t play video games. Not a judgment, but it’s got to account for some energy use.
  • I carry a travel mug everywhere and use it for tea, coffee, soda, water. I don’t buy bottled water. I don’t use straws.

Areas where I’m not there yet:

  • Gas heat and hot water.
  • I still own one gas car and use it maybe 20% of the time.
  • Electricity I use in excess of solar panel generation (electric car takes up a lot) comes from shitty Michigan power generation, which was still 60% coal last I checked.
  • I take a plane occasionally, though I pack ridiculously light and rarely fly anywhere further than the East Coast. I’d use more trains if there were more.
  • My mental health necessitates I live near woods, so I am farther from things than if I lived in a city.
  • I have one kid. I hear they are resource hogs. Sigh. I do hope and work hard to prepare him to overcome that.
  • If you see something I’ve got a blind spot about, please tell me? Thank you in advance.

Thank you for reading and caring. <3

This Changes Everything

My review of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate, by Naomi Klein.

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Around two-thirds of it I found to be an exhaustive litany of depressing information with which I was already familiar. Capitalism is a bankrupt mythology no more rational than an organized religion and with even more inertia and power. Capitalism is the force that puts fingers in the ears of politicians regarding the obvious and immanent threat of extracting and burning any more fossil fuels than we’ve already extracted and burned. Corporate greenwashing is a hell of a pervasive thing. Oil companies are fucking evil. International climate initiatives have been toothless windbaggery for more than thirty years. International environmentalist organizations, by virtue of their size and need for funding, end up in the pockets of those same corporations, helping with the greenwashing, in some cases even helping with the fossil fuel extraction and burning. Geoengineering is a reckless, shortsighted, stupid idea. The technology to save us (solar) already exists, but the fingers-in-ears, hands-over-eyes capitalist mindset that controls all the money will continue to cock-block its implementation right up until it doesn’t matter anymore.

The depth and focus with which she runs through this litany is impressive and not without value in itself. Reading it I found myself looking back on my past environmentalist actions (solar panels, electric car, permaculture, LCRW 33) and deeming them pathetically inadequate. I found myself looking back at those environmentalist projects I’d left hanging (convincing my family to divest from fossil fuels, starting a nano-nonprofit) and feeling newly motivated to take them up again.

I was a little disappointed to find the book had been written in 2014 and not this instant, now. It indicts the Kyoto protocols, but doesn’t cover the Paris climate agreement. There’s a chapter called No Messiahs: The Green Billionaires Won’t Save Us, but it devotes itself to the ways in which Richard Branson has failed to live up to the promise he made in 2006 to be our Climate Savior™ rather than speculating about whether Elon Musk will fail equally spectacularly at same (luckily, I have the internet for that).

The real value of the book, though, I found in that remaining third, where Klein starts talking about WHAT IS TO BE DONE. The glib answer is revolution. The harder, unavoidable answer is widespread, individual, overwhelming personal commitment, fighting the hard legislative and activist fight, town by town, street by street, taking hard losses every step of the way but gritting through it because it’s that fucking important. The people on whose shoulders the solution squarely rests, unfair though it undeniably is, are the people who are being most hurt. Indigenous peoples whose livelihood is tied to the land. People whose drinking water has been fracked into flammability or poisoned by austerity corner-cutting. People who have to wear masks to go outside. Citizens of low-lying island nations about to disappear. Ranchers and farmers along the paths of pipelines. People who look out their windows every day and see and acknowledge the incredible, beautiful natural resources that will be destroyed if capitalism is allowed to keep on as it has. I count myself among that latter group. And I daresay if you’ve read this far, you do too.

And that’s the thing about Klein’s book, as it turns out: it’s not trying to convince anybody of anything they didn’t already believe. I doubt anybody not on the environmentalist bandwagon could even manage to get through it. What it’s trying to do is galvanize those of us who do believe, to show us the facts, in exhaustive detail, and point to the painfully obvious conclusion some of us (yes, even me) are still shying away from: that it’s time to go all-in. Foot-dragging is not getting it done. Switching to reusable grocery bags is not getting it done. Giving money once a year to the NRDF is not getting it done. Waiting and hoping for the market to correct itself is sure as hell not getting it done.

We have maybe 35 years to get off fossil fuels completely or it isn’t going to matter anymore.

In the past, when something has gotten me this worked up about it, I have exhorted people to DO SOMETHING. I realize that’s no good anymore. It’s time to DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN.

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My ConFusion 2016 Schedule: Political SF; Bespoke Libations

Tomorrow at 10 AM, I’ll be participating in this panel discussion at ConFusion:

Anthologies as Advocacy

All fiction is in some way political and science fiction and fantasy have a healthy tradition of anthologies that seek to open up space for new voices and new conversations. To what extent do an anthology’s political goals interact with other editorial considerations? And how are such books received and reviewed by the field — both politically, and aesthetically?

Michael J. DeLuca, Yanni Kuznia, Mari Brighe, Kelley Armstrong (M), Michael Damian Thomas

Doubtless I will mention this:

lcrw33cover

And maybe this:

And lots of other things, for which I have a bunch of notes. Come on by, it’ll be great.

Then, later, 8 PM that very night, I will be doing this:

Beer Lovers Meet Up

Bring a bottle of your favorite or unusual brew to share with fellow beer lovers in this casual meetup in the consuite.

Joel Zakem, Michael J. DeLuca, Scott H. Andrews, Jim Mann

And boy will there ever be unusual and favorite brew. I just packed the cooler; it contains such magics as Guatemalan chocolate smoked hot pepper stout, orange blossom cyser, two different vintages of spruce beer, two different vintages of mead, a wormwood old ale. And those are just the libations I made myself. Please come help us sample; I doubt we can drink it all ourselves.

Cheers!

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Antlers

Today drops the inaugural issue of Orthogonal SF: The War at Home, which features my story of technopagan populist revolution, “#Anon and the Antlers”. Yes, that’s a hashtag in the title. Yes, I did take leave of my senses a little. Not a little. That hashtag is the tip of the iceberg.

There’s not much I like more than a cautionary tale. This one starts with mad ambition, as I suppose cautionary tales tend to do.

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Remember those solar panels I was all excited about back in January?

About Those Solar Panels Now

Remember those solar panels I was all excited about back in January?

I’ve had them up on my roof putting out clean energy for almost a year now. Eleven months ago today, I generated my first watt, and I’ve been meaning to post about it ever since. The trouble is, for the entirety of those eleven months, until this very morning, I was locked in bureaucratic battle with the electric company to get them inspected, signed off on and correctly wired into the billing system so I could actually benefit by them. That was frustrating. It was Kafkaesque. And it didn’t seem worth posting about until I actually had something to celebrate.

My first day's worth of power - Dec. 30, 2014
My first day’s worth of power – Dec. 30, 2014

Now, finally, I do. Here, then, is a bit of a roundup. This is the laughably short version. More to come, maybe, if you’re interested in the nitty gritty.

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