Refugees from Planet Earth

refugeesby Sarah at ProgressiveKid

War, disease, economic devastation, and catastrophic geologic and climate events create refugees every day. According to the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants’  World Refugee Survey 2008, worldwide there are currently over 14 million. An additional 25 million people are displaced internally and so are not considered in refugee totals. In the Democratic Republic of Congo alone, the advances of Tutsi Rebels have displaced 200,000 people since August.

But those are just numbers. And they’re so big, it’s hard to understand what they even mean on a personal level, to the people who are refugees—and to the people who are not. Continue reading

Clean Coal’s Dirty Little Secret

By Sarah at ProgressiveKid

Both President-Elect Obama and his former opponent John McCain endorsed “clean coal” as an important element of their energy plans. But “clean coal” is a fairy tale with a very bad ending, as in the Big Bad Wolf eats and digests Little Red Riding Hood and belches out a black cloud afterward. Continue reading

Beyond Climate Change 101

Discovering a Life of Purpose Along the Way

by Julie Hall at ProgressiveKid

As with all meaningful change, there is no simple fix for our climate change crisis. There is no pill, band aid, 12-step formula, or “expert’s” advice to heal Earth or its life forms. There is no “clean” nuclear power that will preserve our current luxuries without risking even more environmental disaster, no green product that will redeem generations of overconsumption, no fluorescent light bulb that will reverse the excess of our industrialized systems, no recycling process that can restore forests, no zoo or seed bank that can preserve our world’s biodiversity, no replacement planet we can relocate to. For worse and for better we are stuck here with our mess and our weakness, our solutions and our strength. Continue reading

Planet Earth Hung Out to Dry

World Water Crisis and Droplets of Hope

by Julie Hall at ProgressiveKid

Like kudzu and other invasive species, the overgrowth of humans on Earth is a fundamental imbalance that is disrupting long-established physical and biological systems everywhere. When balance is lost, extremes ensue. In the case of our climate, these extremes include flooding, fires, storms, shifting ocean currents, ocean acidification, shrinking glaciers, drying wetlands, depleted aquifers, melting snow pack, rising sea levels, evaporating lakes and rivers, and drought. None of these extremes is good news, but water loss is the scariest, because without water life turns to dust and blows away. Continue reading

Mystery Unclogged Part II

Storm drainby Sarah at ProgressiveKid

(Read Part I of this two-part series on our national wastewater problem.)

In Part I we examined the contents of our wastewater and how the most common wastewater treatment systems work. Now we will examine how well the systems work at keeping those problematic wastewater contents from being released into the environment.

The State of Our Infrastructure

In the American Society for Civil Engineers’ 2005 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, wastewater management in the United States was given a grade of D- (down from a D in 2001). Here is a summary:

Continue reading

Mystery Unclogged Part I

Drainby Sarah at ProgressiveKid

Spoiler alert: If you have maintained any illusions that your drains are magical tubes that “disappear” inconveniences, I’m about to ruin them for you. Look away! Flush and run!

It is more pleasant not to think about what happens to the expired Children’s Motrin you pour down the drain, what the Liquid Plum’r really does, or where the Tide with Bleach Powder goes. But there are so many of us on the planet sharing a shrinking space that we all need to think about what we are dumping and where. Continue reading

Climate of Fear, Climate of Hope

Worryby Julie at ProgressiveKid

Webster’s defines worrying as mental distress or agitation, usually over something impending or anticipated. It stems from fear—fear of what could or might happen but hasn’t yet and quite possibly never will. Worrying can’t actually prevent bad things from happening, and it has a way of spoiling the mood of the worrier and everyone around him or her. What’s worse, worrying has a way of spreading, like stomach flu, and it begs for attention. When we are around a worrier, we usually either take on the worry too or feel compelled to reassure the worrier, neither of which is a very good time. Continue reading