1. Waiting for the Next Store

    The FEMA people  were on Cape Cod today   (August 5th)   to  provide training for emergency preparedness. A very good class. I encourage Sierra Club folks to enroll in these programs. Free. Open to all. Good opportunity to meet with emergency services workers, town planners,  and others, who face the here-and-now impact of climate change. Environmentalists have the opportunity to raise environmental concerns.

    At this point, I have the uneasy feeling that we’re waiting for the next hurricane Katrina or Sandy to appear. Maybe August, but, maybe, October. Maybe Texas, or, possibly, Rhode Island or Jamaica. This is what it’s like to live in the world of climate change. One difficulty follows another. The storms that were “once in a hundred years” are becoming “once in every ten years.” The impact of summer storms is greater.

    Bit of irony: Some of the people who I meet in emergency preparedness classes are surprisingly conservative. Some of them may even lean towards the Tea Party. They  don’t agree with the Sierra Club on a long list of topics, and they may even qualify as “climate change skeptics,”  but they know that something is happening in the environment and they want to be prepared for future problems. You may ask, “How do we bring these folks into the climate change discussion?”

    However: I suggest that, in some ways, they’re already involved. Think about the first responders, and the second responders, who respond to floods,  hurricanes,  oil spills,  wildfires, etc. You’ll find emergency services teams in every region.

    On August 17th, our Sierra Club group will participate in Cape Cod’s first  “hurricane preparedness fair.” We’ll talk with local journalists and we’ll distribute lots of Sierra Club literature on health and safety issues.   The Red Cross will collect blood for future emergencies. If  you’re in the area and you would like to contribute to the Falmouth, Massachusetts, blood collection,  please call the Red Cross.Telephone:  1-800-733-2767.

    What’s happening in your region during “the long, hot summer”?

    (submitted by Bob Murphy, who is the chairman of the Sierra Club’s Cape Cod and Islands Group. in Massachusetts.)



    It’s the middle of July and  July, 2013, looks and feels like last July and the July before that. One difficult summer  after another.    

    In the Northeast, we’re experiencing a lot of heat and humidity. Hospital emergency rooms and clinics  are crowded with people who are suffering through the hot weather. Oklahoma has its tornadoes and Arizona has its wildfires. On the coast of New England, we’re waiting for the height of hurricane season.      

    President Obama delivered a nice speech, a few weeks ago, about climate change. Some environmentalists liked the speech, and some environmentalists were indifferent, but, at this point, the Obama speech is  already part of history. The President of the United States said a few words and it was big news for several days. If senior citizens die from the effects of extreme heat, or if  children  suffer because of increased levels of air pollution, or if the drought continues in five rural states, that’s not “news,”  as far as most Americans concerned. This  is how we live during an era of climate change.

    In this situation, keep asking the question, “What can the Sierra Club do that will be helpful?”

    Recently, a billionaire  announced that he  wants to build a  land-based transportation system that will move people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in about thirty minutes. Some environmentalists have already announced that this is “big news.” So, there’s lots of excitement for the moment, although I don’t know what to do with the announcement. Maybe, in some way, the proposed  transportation system will reduce the use of fossil fuel, and, in some way, maybe the reduction of fossil fuel use will reduce the climate change problem. Maybe. Might happen. Who knows?

    As you move into difficult days,  keep asking, “What can the Sierra Club do that will be helpful?”

    This summer, the Sierra Club’s Cape Cod and Islands Group is trying to expand some of its emergency services programs. Our group’s resources are very limited. Still, we’ve been involved in a few events since early June and we have more activities scheduled for the weeks ahead.

    JUNE 14th: We provided some volunteers and Sierra Club literature for a health and safety fair at Falmouth Hospital.

    FOURTH OF JULY: Sierra Club members assisted with a health and safety display at a Native American pow wow on Cape Cod. The Wampanoag chief thanked us for “helping the elders.”

    AUGUST 17th: We’ll be working with community and religious groups  to produce an “environmental health and safety fair” on Cape Cod. As part of this event, there will be a Red Cross blood drive. Lots of Sierra Club literature will be distributed about climate change, chemicals of emerging concern, population issues, etc. Emergency preparedness and access issues will receive much attention.

    Some other activities are scheduled. It’s not a big effort but we try to be helpful  in the here and now.

    I’ve started CERT training. I helped with Cape Cod’s emergency shelters during the big storm in February. Some additional training will be useful. Many Sierra Club leaders already have first aid training and many know how to manage camps. Still, it’s good to be in contact with emergency services teams. The emergency services people like to do background checks, certification, etc., while preparing for future difficulties.

    (submitted by Bob Murphy, chair, Cape Cod and Islands Group, Sierra Club)



    The Sierra Club’s Cape Cod and Islands Group works on climate change  issues with congregations and community groups. Lots of emphasis on human rights concerns. Our group helped to develop a PowerPoint presentation on  May 1st for environmental justice advocates in New England. Since then, the program has been revised a bit and it has been used in several forums.     

    The emphasis is on connecting with  groups - including minorities, senior citizens, religious organizations, health care people, etc.. - that have NOT  been active in  climate change discussions in the past. Lots of emphasis on things like the Americans With Disabilities Act. Polar bears are never referenced.  

    The Sierra Club is mentioned in the credits at the end of the program.

    This presentation is being used as the basis for environmental justice programs in New England during the summer months. We’ll be discussing things like heat waves, droughts, massive power failures, hurricanes, extreme weather events, etc.      “Here and now” stuff.

    (submitted by Bob Murphy, chairman, Cape Cod and Islands Group, Sierra Club.)

  4. Sierra Club -

    The following note from President Obama has arrived. As the climate change problem develops, perhaps notes like this one will become routine  at the start of hurricane season. Although it’s significant that the President of the United States doesn’t use the term “climate change” in his message. One tragedy follows another - droughts,  heat waves, extreme weather events, etc. - but the White House doesn’t acknowledge any pattern or cause.

    I suggest two missions for the Sierra Club.  

    First: Respond to immediate problems. Try to be helpful as the climate change problem comes home.

    Second: Remind national leaders - and our fellow citizens - that there’s a need for some long-term strategies in response to climate change. Don’t be afraid of the term “climate change.”    

    (submitted by Bob Murphy, chairman, Cape Cod and Islands Group, Sierra Club.)


    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has presented its predictions for the 2013 hurricane season. “An unusually wild season is predicted,” commented one government spokesperson. The NOAA people claim to be 70% accurate in predicting the intensity of the season.

    With this information in mind, citizens can do one of two things. We can wait for problems to arrive and, then, maybe, we can react. As an alternative, we can make some preparations during the weeks ahead. We can ask, “How can we be helpful?” What’s needed today?

    A new kind of climate change discussion is needed and I hope that Sierra Club groups will be leaders in the new discussion. Waiting for problems to develop  - and, then, saying “blame it on climate change” - isn’t helpful. We can do more and better to help our neighbors. In the process, we’ll demonstrate our concern for our communities and - who knows? - maybe we’ll build some new alliances to solve the climate change problem.

    (submitted by Bob Murphy, chairman, Sierra Club Cape Cod and Islands Group, in Massachusetts.)

  6. June 1st marks the start of hurricane season. The agencies that provide long-range weather forecasts predict a very difficult season. So, it’s possible that another Hurricane Sandy or Hurricane Katrina will hit the Gulf Coast or the Atlantic Coast before November.

    What can Sierra Club groups do in this situation? On Cape Cod and the Massachusetts islands, Sierra Club people have learned a few things from recent experience. Keep in mind that hurricanes aren’t the only environmental  problems that Americans face during the warm weather season. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, massive power failures, and crop failures are also on the list. The following suggestions may be helpful.

    EMERGENCY SERVICES: If you’re a Sierra Club leader, it’s helpful to know the first aid basics. Red Cross certification means that you’ve completed training that most people understand and respect. Contact local emergency services agencies including the Red Cross. Ask, “How can I be helpful?     What kind of training do I need?” First aid training is useful. Also, volunteer to help with shelter management, during emergencies.

    The important thing is to “be prepared.” Get your training now, before the emergency develops. For security and safety reasons, and other reasons,  agencies like the Red Cross want to know something about their volunteers.    If you volunteer to help with shelter operations, you’ll probably be asked to participate in a criminal records check. You’ll probably be asked to carry a Red Cross photo identification, during your hours of service.

    ANIMAL RESCUE: In your town, who cares for wildlife and domestic animals during emergencies? Check with local agencies. Again, if you want to get involved, there will probably be a need for a background check and some basic training.

    PUBLIC EDUCATION: What’s happening in your local environment? How does climate  change impact on your community? On Cape Cod and on the islands, families are worried about the expansion of Lyme disease season and the arrival of new problems, including the arrival of West Nile virus. We’ve had some community exhibits that include information about what happens as “climate change comes home.” The sign for our exhibit says, “Your Health and Safety in a Changing Environment.” (The message appears in several languages.)

    Taking the information to environmental groups may be helpful. However: At this point, it’s very important to start reaching out to people who, usually, don’t have much involvement with groups like the Sierra Club. Try to connect with senior citizens, religious groups, human services providers, etc.

    Our local Sierra Club group is involved in volunteer trainings on May 29th and May 30th. We work with county health workers and the Red Cross  to prepare for the warm weather season. Also, we’ll have some events in early June that alert people to the start of hurricane season.

    (sumitted by Bob Murphy, chairman, Sierra Club Cape Cod and Islands  Group.)


  7. If the releases of greenhouse gases are the basic cause of global climate change (true I think), then unquestionably the threat is due to activities of mankind.  And no amount of cap and trade legislation, blocking of tar sands pipelines, tweeking of gasoline consumption per mile, etc. is going to accomplish any significant improvement.  If it is people who cause greenhouse gas emissions, it follows that more people on the surface of this planet will lead to even more greenhouse gas emissions. 

    If we can not (or will not) take action to slow down the rate of population increase, we are destined to see even more and bigger storm Sandys in our future.  Completely aside from the issue of global climate change, over population is a root cause of almost every threat to the environmental attributes we hold dear.  Hardly a week goes by that I do not receive a solicitation to “Save the ?????” where ????? is whales, old growth forests, tropical reefs, orangutans, scenic vistas, sea otters, wild salmon, polar bears or ice caps.  In my opinion, a rapidly advancing world population increases the threat to every ?????.

    Lumberjacks and timber barons do not go into old growth forests just to hear the roar of chain saws, they go there because an ever growing population pays them well to do so.  The orangutan is not threatened by a native of Borneo with a new chain saw, he is threatened by the third son of a New Jersey banker who wants a teak deck on his new boat.

    Homo sapiens is the only species capable of developing endangered species lists — and the only species dumb enough to breed ourselves onto an endangered species list.

    Donald E. Proctor

    Sumner, Washington


  8. Our Children Deserve Better

    The droughts in Oklahoma are getting worse each year.


  9. Climate Change, Oklahoma, and the World

    We all need to realize that we are not our own entity separate from nature; our futures are linked. Therefore it is in our best interest to take care of what we have. The only things we have.


  10. Wildlife Conservation, Food and Water Security? Enough said.

    I am a biologist with an invested interest in our planet’s wildlife (as should everyone else on this planet). Climate change is having severe and well-documented impacts on the phenology of many species. We need to slow this thing down fast!


  11. Keep it clean

    I’m concerned with the amount of pollution we are emitting and with water conservation.


  12. Community leaders of developing nations were asking where is the leadership from developed nations while attending the ‘09 U.N. Climate Summit (COP 15)

    I attended the People’s Summit in Copenhagen in Dec. ‘09 and listened to panel discussions/presentations each day. South Pacific Islanders and First Nation People living in mountain regions were rightly asking where is the leadership from the developed world, particularly from the U.S.  to implement a plan to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions. 

    These community leaders had a strong conviction and were speaking from the hearth without being disrespectful to developing nations. 

    Their testimony moved me and has helped me speak with more conviction and passion when I suggest action on climate change.  


  13. Kids signing the card to President Obama at Austin Earth Day. 


  14. Kids at Austin Earth Day signed a “Get Well” Earth card to be sent to President Obama


  15. What changes have you seen? How has climate change impacted you?

    As a child, I took family vacations each summer at the Jersey Shore. Hurricane Sandy literally wiped out dozens of these treasured beach communities.

    Why do you fight climate change? Why is this issue important to you?

    While climate change affects us all, it disproportionately affects the poor and vulnerable. We have a moral responsibility to care for our planet and for each other.