Welcome to our online community created to help you save the places you love. Our focus this year is on what to do about our changing climate since it impacts everything we do. Please see my list of the Top Ten Action For a Cooler Climate. Also please read and share my new book, The Big Melt, which is all about Coming of Age in a time of Changing Climate.
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I have to admit that I thought this was an apt portrayal of different peoples perspectives about climate change when I first saw it. I also realize that some people will react negatively to this as an arrogant perspective of a very complicated challenge. True. So lets take a look at our immediate reactions to this issue of a changing climate a little more deeply. After all we need to find common ground for working together and dealing with the global challenge of a climate gone rogue.
My first reaction to this picture is followed quickly by one that says not all Republicans deny the existence of climate change and not all Democrats believe it’s an important issue. Of course not. Unfortunately, it has been politicized – leading to even more polarization. So lets look at the numbers and start our conversation from there.
According to a climate perspectives study called The Six Americas – see graphic below. -there appears to be about 9% percent of our population who would fall into the “Dismissive” category.
12% are doubtful and 7% are too busy – they are disengaged. In my life I have moved right up this series of perspectives. When I first heard about my impact on the climate I was doubtful. It seemed unbelievable that my actions could have anything to do with the vast atmosphere around the Earth. I ended up studying Earth Science and have had the opportunity to see and peruse some of the data that has been generated. 50 years of testing and assessing the basic assumptions have just made the case stronger.
So over the years I became more and more aware of how our climate was changing, and changing at a rate much faster than normal. Faster than the detailed geologic record (that we have amassed) reveals for climates that have occurred in the past. This rapid warming correlates with the rapid increase in carbon emissions from our Industrial Age. So I am well into the concerned category of the above graph by now.
Going back to the initial cartoon I realize that most of us don’t have all the data. So being at the back of the Titanic might lead to disbelief. It is interesting how people who have been harmed by the negative impacts of our changing climate – those on the front of the ship – are changing their minds. Many of them are not just calling for action to repair their homes and lives but also action to slow down the rate of change. We cannot stop the change very quickly but if we work together we can certainly slow down the warming. So the real question is what are the best ways to do that. I wonder if we can get enough people from all ends of the ship to sit down long enough to agree on a range of approaches that we can deploy now.
It has been fun and rewarding to watch the reviews of my new book, The Big Melt, come in. Here are a few:
Publishers Weekly/BookLife Prize says this
Ned Tillman’s The Big Melt is a fast-paced novel for young readers that advocates taking care of the environment and illustrates the possible negative impacts that might occur if humans should neglect this responsibility. Tillman’s solid prose is appropriate for the target audience
Tillman’s novel is certainly inspiring and unique, melding together a firm call to action for young people to consider the environment and a young protagonist’s decision to protect his town. The fictional events in the novel are bolstered by a list of Earth-friendly actions that readers can utilize in their own lives, as well as a discussion guide to help spark conversation in classrooms and reading groups.
Angie Boyter– Top Amazon Reviewer
The Big Melt is near-future speculative fiction with some charming touches of whimsy, like Joe, Marley’s inner voice, who motivates and encourages him when he needs it most. I will not spoil Tillman’s fun by telling you who Joe is, but I can predict with confidence the identity will give you a laugh.
Despite its very serious subject, there are a number of nice touches of humor throughout the book, like the description of the mess in Ranger Max’s office: “His office paperwork would pile up on his desk until it slid to the floor. It then flowed out the door, where it was read and recycled by a family of fungi living in the soil just beneath the wooden steps.”
Shelley Von Hagen-Jamar– A fable for our times
The Big Melt is a fable about the devastating effects of climate change on a small town. It incorporates information about the threats to our environment in a way that young adult readers can understand, and it is written with enough whimsy and imagination to surprise and entertain all readers. It is a wake-up call for the next generation!
I can’t say I enjoyed reading this book because it’s scary, we have all seen changes to the climate and wonder what will happen when we reach the tipping point! The author presents a scenario in a very interesting way, following this young couple as they become active in their community only to ……
I could not put this book down and read it in two sittings. It seems like it’s aimed at young people but it has a strong message for all of us.
Janene Holzberg wrote a great article about the book in the Baltimore Sunpapers
Have you noticed? There is a big trend toward “glasswashing” in the building industry these days. Just look around and you’ll see a lot of 2 to 20 story buildings covered with glass – thus the term “glass washing”. I don’t think it is a very interesting style of architecture. I would also think it’s not very good for energy efficiency – resulting in higher operating costs. Must be cheaper to build.
In addition to those questions, these glass covered buildings kill a lot of birds. As a result there is a big push to find ways to prevent birds from flying into these windows. The light at night and the reflections of blue sky during the day has lead to a billion birds dying per year from collisions with these buildings. We know these numbers because groups all around the country actually go out and count the dead birds each morning.
So there is a growing push for bird proofing windows. Of course this is cheaper to do in the design/build stage than as a retrofitting effort. And yet it can be done and is being done – such as at the Howard County Conservancy. Here in Maryland there is a push to pass the Maryland Sustainable, Energy-Efficient, Bird-Safe Bulidings Act of 2019 to deal with this problem. Stay tuned.
Bird collisions are also a big challenge in residential settings especially ones with feeders. It’s not just an issue with big buildings – much of the damage happens at canopy level. We all need to retrofit our windows-at home and at work – to cut down on these negative impacts on the birds. The picture shown here is just one of several bird collisions that I have heard this fall. Look carefully at this picture – it is a dramatic angel-like image showing the wings and the body of a bird flying at full speed into a glass window.
This particular bird may have been a little impaired since the crabapples that have been planted all around our community parking lot are dropping their fermented fruit. It seems to be affecting the birds who are eating them in quite a frenzy. Unfortunately some of them end up flying into windows. I will need to treat my windows even more to reduce the carnage. You can too. You can get the necessary instructions and supplies from your local bird store or Audubon Society. It’s something we all can help with.
If you get the chance to read Paul Hawken’s Drawdown, you will see there are many approaches for reducing our carbon emissions. Some are more surprising than others. Many are things we all can start doing today. What I like about his book is that even those of us who are heavily entrenched in industries like fossil fuels can take major steps without necessarily losing the value of their assets. There is no reason to stall or defer our decisions any further and many reasons to take corrective action right away. After all we have been stalling, or “studying” this problem for 50 years.
I am also very interested in Congress’s current effort to float another bill that places a price on carbon. It is a step forward. We could argue it is too little-too late, but we need to be moving on many fronts. See more on my earlier Facebook Post.
The IPCC report last week should be enough to get everyone moving ahead on some action. There are plenty of options for each of us to choose from. Each of us can get moving today on steps at home, on the highways, and in the office. Check out this list: https://savingtheplaces.com/ten-steps-for-a-cooler-climate/.
Now that the elections are over for a few months, we need to double down and make sure government at all levels are pursuing actions that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our transportation, agricultural, waste disposal, industrial, and residential sectors. We need to be relentless and stay on top of this issue every day. We need to look at everything we do through a climate lens. We all need to be climate aware.
This should also apply to our purchasing practices. We have a lot of power to demand from the marketplace more sustainable products. Let’s support the leaders and avoid those firms who do not take this situation seriously. Don’t spend a buck without asking yourself the following questions:
- Do I really need it?
- Is there a more sustainable option?
- What will I do with it when I am finished?
So put on your climate-aware glasses and look into the future. We better act now or that future is not going to be so bright.
Check this out: The leading Cli-Fi (climate fiction) Blog, Burning Embers, is a popular spot to explore the latest in climate fiction. It is hosted by Dan Bloom, who was the first to coin the phrase Cli-Fi as this new genre was just taking off a few years ago. Dan immediately reached out to me when my book was released last week. He has now asked me to submit a guest blog.
The importance of novels like The Big Melt is the subject of this recent guest post entitled: Can novels save the Earth…or at least our climate? You might find it of interest.
I do have a normal life. I play racquetball, take care of my grandchildren about once a week, actively participate with The Horizon Foundation and the Maryland Academy of Sciences, and help other organizations when they ask. Then all of a sudden you drop a book tour on top of that and you get chaos. It’s challenging just trying to keep it all straight. I feel like I need a manager!
But it’s all important. It is what it takes to get a book launched – although I think The Big Melt sells itself. But most people haven’t heard about it yet, so that’s my job – to spread the word.
And that is easier to do with this work of fiction than it was with the two non-fiction books I have written. Most of us are very concerned today and interested in what we can do as our climate continues to change. The book helps all of us, no matter our age, to address that question.
But it still takes a lot of time to reach out. Just take a look at my November calendar below. I will be busy. If anything interests you come join me if you like. The events below with start times are open to the public.
Ned’s November 2018 Schedule – so far!
- November 1 – Watermark Presentation on Climate Change
- November 2 – Friendship Baptist Church High School
- November 3 – Explore Columbia on Foot – Downtown Lakefront at 10am
- November 4 – Forum on Climate Change at Owen Brown Interfaith Center
- November 6 – Vote
- November 7 – Presentation at Poly High School in Baltimore City
- November 8 – Explore Columbia on Foot – Amherst House at 10 am
- November 8 – Hammond High School discussion with students and teachers
- November 9 – Evening of Storytelling at HoCo Conservancy at Mt Pleasant 7-9pm
- November 10 – Storytelling Workshop at Belmont Conf Center from 9 to 1 RSVP
- November 16 – Featured Speaker at the NSTA Annual Mtg at National Harbor
- November 17 – Barnes and Noble in Columbia Mall – Book Signing from 11 to 4 T. (This is a good time to get a personally signed copy of The Big Melt.)
Let me know if you would like me to come to speak to your group, class, business, book club, etc. These are the titles of my normal talks:
- The Big Melt – Coming of Age in a Time of Changing Climates
- Can Fiction Save the Earth (or at least the climate)?
- The Chesapeake: Past, Present, and Future
- The Keys to a Sustainable Future
Enjoy your November and be sure to get outside while the trees hold their color.
Over the past few years we have gotten a taste for how ravaging a run-away climate can be. The damage to homes and infrastructure, the economic and health impacts, and the threats to our national security are significant. These events will not stop until we act to slow down the warming of our atmosphere. We therefore need to get this issue on the table now before the election and then keep it on the table after the election. The problems won’t go away without our full commitment. Our best hope is to elect people who will work together to cool the climate, reduce the suffering, and prevent these weather events from getting worse.
As a businessman, I stay abreast of issues that could affect my bottom line. I was therefore curious about the World Economic Summit in Davos this past year. I wanted to know what they thought were the biggest challenges on the horizon. I was surprised to hear that the greatest fear they had about the future is that people were not fearful enough about some of the most important threats facing our economy. This was unsettling. Here is the list of top concerns from the conference:
Extreme Weather Events
Failure of climate change mitigation and adaption
I think we all would agree that cyber attacks and identify fraud are huge concerns. But for three of the top five risks to our economy to be largely related to and exacerbated by a changing climate is pretty sobering and well worth our full attention. The changing climate is indeed the challenge of the century.
The first two threats are pretty clear – we see them on the news way too often. Our federal government spent 4 to 5 times more money on disaster relief for flood and fire victims last year, some $500 billion dollars. I wish that money had been spent over the past three decades on incentivizing the move to clean energy and a stable climate. A lot of lives, homes, and communities could have been saved if we had acted sooner.
The fifth item on this list of major threats is most striking to me. These corporate leaders are stating that we have to do a lot more to prevent as well as to adapt to a changing climate and their fear is that we might fail. We might not act soon enough or seriously enough to slow down the warming.
As a health advocate I was also struck by a report by the world-renown Lancet Commission on Heath and Climate Change. It concludes that man-madeclimate change threatens to undermine the past 50 years of gains in public health. This is really significant realizing how far we have come in saving lives and preventing disease. The corollary to that statement is that a comprehensive response to climate change could be “the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century”.
My last point is on national security but it also applies to local security issues as well. The Pentagon has released a report calling climate change a threat multiplier – a driver of regional instability from the forced migration of people escaping drought, fire, and flood damaged areas. Mass migrations not only disrupt families and economies but add stress to areas receiving these climate refugees. We have seen this over and over again as families from drought-disrupted parts of the Middle East and Africa flood into Europe, and Americans flee floods, fires, and drought across the country. This instability feeds into the growth of hate groups and terrorists.
These three sectors of our society all realize the importance of slowing down the changing climate. But it sounds like a tall order to most of us. The good news is that there is a lot being done by business, governments, and individuals all around the world (see Drawdown by Paul Hawken). The challenge is that all of us are going to have to do more.
We need to make decisions in our daily life, at work, and in the voting booth that are “climate informed”. We need to elect politicians who willcreate the policies for a healthy future, and who will use their bully pulpits to inspire all of us to make the steps that will be needed to slow down and stop this warming trend. We can’t just sit back and accept the suffering that will result from a 7 degree increase in global temperatures this century.
Ned Tillman is an earth and environmental scientist, a health advocate, and an award-winning author. His new inspirational climate novel, The Big Melt, is available on Amazon. He can be reached at email@example.com.