Select Page

“America the Beautiful” tugs at my heart in summer concerts.    Ray Charles

Yet with spacious skies of fire and smoke, fields besieged by drought and fruits by flood, with heat waves from sea to shining sea, it is Ray Charles’ lyrics that ring in my ears:

Oh beautiful for heroes proved, in liberating strife,
Who more than self, our country loved, and mercy more than life…   


Honor the resilience of courageous folks who step into ‘liberating strife,’ who demonstrate a love of ‘mercy more than life,’ who sing, act and lead from the wisdom of experience: conscientious elders from Great Depression and WW II; seasoned leaders from mid-20th century civil rights, peace, and environmental movements;  aging boomers grappling with the true costs of unbridled consumerism. Gifts of age include an acquired capacity for resilience and a heightened awareness of “we the people” –twin clarion calls for the 21st Century.

“Resilience … is commensurately humble. It doesn’t propose a single, fixed future.  It assumes we don’t know exactly how things will unfold, that we’ll be surprised, that we’ll make mistakes along the way. It’s also open to learning from the extraordinary and widespread…natural world, including its human inhabitants…”  –Andrew Zolli 


Is this the ‘Summer of Love’ for Interdependence?    

I find there is nothing that generates the experience of interdependence within me quite as much as the politics of energy and climate. I was moved this summer to celebrate our 4th of July holiday as a day of interdependence, coming as it did shortly after President Obama’s historic speech on climate change.

Obama on Climate Change Jan 2013Perhaps June 25, 2013, will be required memorization for our grandchildren in history classes. What we do now—in the remaining months of 2013 and on—will determine both historicity of the date and the narrative they will create as future history students.

We write the story with our actions.  Outside of the classroom, they will surely ask, ages and ages hence:  What road did you take, when you knew the climate was changing?

What is your soulful response?

As a highly visible climate change resistance movement,  NO Keystone XL has mobilized protests for at least 30 different events with President Obama and his closest advisers since March.  The message is simple: keeping your promises on climate change means stopping Keystone XL…and thinking about the future.

Relatedly, a recent item Don’t Drink the Fracking Fluids from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) told of contaminated waters from ‘fracking’ entering the drinking stream at federally protected sights impacting humans and other living beings.

On the definite-plus side: President Obama’s pick for EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy  has finally been confirmed. I look forward to her leadership at EPA.


Speaking of water, how about the interface between freshwater resources and energy production?

Beyond concerns about water contaminated by ‘fracking’ as in numerous recent news reports, I must admit to relative ignorance on this subject. I have tended to consider water resources and energy resources in distinct conservation silos.


In mid-July I attended a Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) webinar in which they shared research results from this critical line of inquiry. I had been somewhat aware that fresh water resources are required inputs for electricity/energy production, but not aware of how much this varies by fuel source–coal, oil, natural gas, wind, solar, or others. And on the output side, water exits generating systems at varying temperatures and levels of toxic contamination, both of which affect life outside the power plants.

Renewable energy sources have a positive edge over fossil fuels in the water/energy equation and fossil fuels have variable impacts. Water Smart Power is an accessible report from UCS on this important topic.


Q: Do you remember Keep America Beautiful’s ‘crying Indian’ campaign? 

A: Of course you do—‘twas one of the most effective ad campaigns of all time!

More than 40 years after that success, Keep America Beautiful and the Advertising Council collaborated on the July 2013 launch of a new campaign to promote the benefits of recycling. 

Watch the whimsical videos, narrated by your very own trash items, begging you for new life: hear the plea of your plastic water bottle!

America beautiful recycle AC_hpslider_1

Enjoy this inspiring call to reduce waste through recycling, then pass the link along for others who want these benefits in their lives.


 How Green is Your State?

Speaking of recycling, we are grateful to MPHonline (Master of Public Health online) for their innovative new online tool. How Green is My State? delivers state-by-state data on recycling, as well as mass transit, CO2 emissions, and various energy stats.  There is also an overall ranking for your state.

how green my stateJust in time for the Congressional recess, you can use this tool to assess the current state of your state, along with federal policies and appropriations that are important for greening your state. Then have a meeting with your congressional representative to let them know you need for your aspirations for your state.  We are all in all of these states together!

This item was very popular on our Gray Is Green Facebook page where you can join our expanding network of folks accessing timely items of interest.   


Closing thoughts…

…from Peter Whitehouse:
“Our modern world is challenged by aging demographics, global climate change, political unrest, and economic instability.    Intergenerational approaches to learning and health can foster the kind of long-term inter-generative thinking and valuing that is necessary for human flourishing and even survival in these difficult times.   The answers to the challenges of chronic diseases like dementia will not be found in reductionist molecular biology and genetics, but in the redesign of our communities to serve elders, children, and the environment more effectively.”

Read more in the news release on the Whitehouse article from the Journal of Intergenerational Relationships.   


…from Jim Toedtman:  
“As we peer into society’s future, we — you and I and our government —must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.”

Read the full article from the AARP Bulletin, July/August 2013.