Thursday, October 3, 2019

I can't even with this.

This checklist is played out, environmentalists. WTF. How can the people who scream science all the damn time peddle this shit? Are you not down with math or logic? 

First, the title: Climate Change Mitigation Checklist. You know what I use a checklist for? Groceries. Camping supplies. To help ready my daughter for a sleepover. But let me get this right. We live in a time of unprecedented drought, violent AF unnatural weather events, some countries under threat of being submerged, the populace of other countries walking thousands of miles away from native lands rendered inhabitable because of climate change, increasing numbers of environmental defenders killed (four per week in 2017), and you have a checklist. Yes, please hang your laundry to dry. Check.

Are we defining mitigate in the same way? Because this simply doesn't add up.

Here’s what’s offensive about this list:  

One, who can afford to buy carbon offsets, switch to a 100% carbon free electric company, replace appliances, buy an EV, buy seasonal and local food, live close to work, get solar, get rid of lawn? Who has time to hang laundry, pester politicians regularly, use a scythe, snowshoe to work?

It takes privilege to fulfill this checklist-time, money, resource, access. Further, it is a vapid, insensitive list when you consider that those most vulnerable and have been suffering for decades from climate change don’t have a fraction of the things on the damn list in the first place to change. People in the global south are literally fighting for their lives while global northerners fight for their way of life. 

Two, remember when women were given tips to avoid rape? Walk with your keys between your knuckles, take a self defense class, drive with a cut out of a man in the car, don’t leave your drink unattended, wear modest clothing, don’t jog at night, get a dog (or a recording of one) if you live alone, carry mace, avoid certain places at night, etc. We can see how well that works for women. 

This is environmental patriarchy. Global companies, banks and governments Epstein and Cosby the planet and its inhabitants but you suggest I attend a protest. Tell me again how that mitigates systemic exploitation? Just as those 'protective' measures do not stop women from being victimized by predators, reusing my grocery bag won't mitigate climate change. 

I am not interested in actions that maintain environmental privilege and patriarchy. 


  1. You're right, except for the last sentence.

    1. Thanks, Unknown. Which part of the last sentence?

  2. Hi, Mary, how are ya? You may recognize my name as one of the two at the end of this checklist. Claire created it as a way to track her own efforts to reduce her carbon footprint. She is, like you, a teacher, but of science in high school. She's raising kids, too. She saved up (teachers, as you know, don't make much) and bought a Chevy Bolt a couple of years ago, which saved her all that gas and maintenance money, which helped her to buy a split, which reduced her heating and cooling costs, which has just now helped her buy solar panels for her roof. So the car will be solar-powered. She also leads a local chapter of Citizens' Climate Lobby, which is why lobbying is a part of the list. I'll take credit for the scythe: if you've never used one, it's like walking meditation. You can use it early on a Saturday morning without worrying about waking the neighbors, too. I recommend it.

    So the checklist is meant to stimulate conversation – just like this – not to be a one-size-fits-all panacea for climate change, much less for the patriarchy. And it's intended to get people thinking about what we can DO in addition to holding the right, scientifically-informed view about climate change. Some have suggested adding the use of mass transit, for example, which doesn't exist where Claire is. But the point is to make everyone responsible for and aware of their own carbon footprint, and help them identify the low-hanging fruit in their situation. Almost all of the items on the list are manageable by the average American consumer, whether rich or poor. No, not everyone can afford an EV: but for those who CAN afford and require a car, an EV is a better choice, I think you'd agree. If someone has in their wheelhouse the capacity to end patriarchy and capitalism and replace them with something more just and environmentally benign, that'd be great. But most of us are not gifted with those opportunities.

    I'd be interested in reading what you are doing, in addition to your blog, to reduce your family's carbon footprint and to achieve the goals you see as cornerstones. And if you'd like a better, readable version of the checklist, let me know and I can send you a pdf or jpeg.

    1. Hi John. I wrote a really long response to your response that I intended to share on the Climate Steps page. But I have been banned from it. And I've exceeded my word limit for this reply box. So I'm responding to the group in another blog post if you care to read my response to your responses. I do find it troubling that people who don't tow the party line are summarily dismissed.

  3. I am the originator of the list.

    I wrote it for my own use. Several people wanted to use my list as a template for their own use. My friend John decided to turn it into this jpeg for sharing.

    That is the context.

    Now I will share my philosophy behind it and then I will leave this group.

    I do not think that individual actions are particularly powerful means of decarbonizing our economy. There are a lot of things well beyond our personal control. The source of electricity on the grid that we access at work, at home, in hospitals, in doctors offices...everywhere we go for electricity.

    We do not have control over the carbon decisions made by our local grocery stores or clothing shops or other places we need to go to get the things we need to care for ourselves and our families.

    We may not be able to afford EVs, heat pumps or solar panels.

    And even the choices within our control only decarbonize our little section of emissions.

    So why did I make a list of things I though I could and should do?

    Because it became apparent to me, about six years ago, that I needed to work on moving everyone around me. I needed to become an activist.

    How? I started by lobbying for a carbon tax. I supported then, and still do now, a carbon tax that protects the poor and middle class because I fully recognize that it is the wealthy and corporations are most responsible for climate change because they emit most of the GHGs and they have the most capital to build up the infrastructure we need society wide to decarbonize.

    As I became more involved in lobbying, it became clear that taking personal actions engaged more people in talking about climate and climate solutions.

    Indeed, it became glaring that when people focus on solutions, they become more hopeful and sustain their own engagement longer.

    I started to intensify my own personal actions because I realized THAT PERSONAL ACTION IS NOT MEANT TO DECARBONIZE.


    There is no more powerful way to tell the fossil fuel companies to fuck off than to never buy their stuff. IF YOU BROADCAST WHAT YOU ARE DOING.

    Every personal action to decarbonize tells the world that you care about climate. That you believe we can solve climate and that we are powerful and have agency. And that you are wholly committed to addressing climate.

    Greta Thunberg came here in a racing yacht. She said to the world that she knows few people can do that. But she could. So she did. She raised a lot of awareness with that trip.

    I cannot sail in a zero emissions racing yacht. But I can do the things on my list.

    And I can make damned sure I share these actions with people.

    Meanwhile, the most important part of my list is the advocacy section.

    And the most important part of advocacy is building coalitions and relationships among us all.

    I submit that the blog does not support those ends.

    My list was taken out of context and the author assumed that it was meant as a burden for us. It is not meant to burden anyone. We only have what tools we have. We must seize whatever we can. For some of us, it is racing yachts. For others, it is building community gardens. For us all, it is demanding powerful policies that will allow us all to decarbonize quickly.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Hi Claire. I wrote a really long response to your response that I intended to share on the Climate Steps page. But I have been banned from it. And I've exceeded my word limit for this reply box. So I'm responding to the group in another blog post if you care to read my response to your responses. I do find it troubling that people who don't tow the party line are summarily dismissed.