Tuesday, November 6, 2018

GO VOTE - Our Climate & Future Depend On It!

The results of this midterm election will be pivotal for many reasons. One reason that isn't brought up nearly enough has to do with the destabilization of our climate. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change just published a new report, which essentially gives us 12 years to get our act together as a society before we cross a dangerous threshold. For years, climate scientists have been warning us that the burning of fossil fuels and release of greenhouse gas emissions will warm our atmosphere and oceans, and that this warming will lead to extreme flooding in certain areas, more droughts and wildfires across the West, more intense hurricanes in the Gulf, etc. These predictions are already playing out across the country. Athina and I just spent 3 months on the road interviewing farmers, business owners, and ordinary citizens who are feeling the impacts of climate change, as well as scientists and other experts studying the issue. There is no question we've got a major crisis on our hands that we must urgently address. Click here to view our growing video archive that showcases some of these interviews.

Fortunately, renewable energy technology is available to reduce atmospheric pollution and get a hold of this problem. If you think shifting to renewables will be costly to the economy, consider the cost of inaction. For example, in 2016, 15 major climate-related natural disasters cost the U.S. economy $46 billion. This is 3 times more disasters than the annual average. In 2017, things took a new leap, when 16 major disasters cost the economy over $300 billion! The time to address climate change is now. We cannot keep kicking the can down the road if we wish to hold onto our regular weather patterns. Similarly, we cannot think that "they" will take care of the problem. This problem requires congressional action to remove fossil fuel subsidies and let renewable energy compete. This problem requires that the big polluters pay a fee to release carbon dioxide, much like they do when sending hazardous waste to the landfill. This problem requires YOU and I. Because if we don't vote today to send people to Washington who care to address climate change, then climate change won't get addressed.

Importantly, we don't have forever to get our act together. Once enough glaciers melt and once the oceans warm enough, we don't get to go back. Thus, the actions we choose to take or not take today will have impacts on our society for generations to come. The children and grandchildren of this world will one day ask us, "what did you do to help prevent climate change?" Let us tell them, "I VOTED to protect the future!"

Vote for Who?

Orange County, CA - If you live in OC and have Dana Rohrabacher as your congressman, you have an opportunity to make an important change. Dana has been in office for decades and has been a MAJOR impediment to climate action. I have personally met with him twice in D.C. He makes fun of even the most basic and well understood aspects of climate science and the greenhouse effect. Dana Rohrabacher must go. His opponent Harley Rouda, on the other hand, places an emphasis on the importance of climate change and the protection of our future. Harley gets my endorsement.

I also support Katie Porter in CA District-45 given that her opponent Mimi Walters takes money from fossil fuel corporations and does not have a good track record on the environment and climate change.

Further Reading

For more on climate change and understanding the misconceptions that often surround the topic, pick up a copy of my new book Beyond Debate: Answers to 50 Misconceptions on Climate Change. If you already know the issue, it'll make a great holiday gift for someone who does not!

Dr. Shahir Masri
Air Pollution Exposure Scientist

Saturday, October 20, 2018

New Mexico - Solar Fiesta 2018!

We had a much needed good night of sleep at our hotel, thanks to having covered so much driving (11 hours!) the day before. After a quick breakfast, we were off to Solar Fiesta 1018, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We reached the venue by 930AM. It was a quaint and cute little parking lot area where many venders had already begun setting up. It was a windy morning, but we still set up our banner and booth, using rocks to hold the flyers down. I sold a book right off the bat, to the guy who owned the neighboring booth. A nice start to the day! I was scheduled to be on a science panel at 11AM. The panel went well. I was one of four presenters. We each spoke for 7 minutes, followed by QnA. I lived-stream the talk through Instagram, which was a first for me! Returning to our booth was a joy. We both enjoyed the opportunity to chat with passers-bys about our climate tour and the work we’re doing. Lots of people were excited by our work and very supportive of us. A dozen or so people even picked up a copy of Beyond Debate! At one point, I slipped away to do some video recording of the event. There was great live music and tasty vegan cookies and pizza prepared by a solar cooker. Who could complain!? There was also a cool rainbow colored Tesla, among other electric cars on display. 

We packed up at 4PM. By that time we were quite tired from the sun and many hours talking. We were very excited for our evening’s destination. We were off to Santa Fe, where we would get a long-awaited day of rest and vacation. Arriving to Santa Fe we were greeted by a beautiful sunset. After a quick stop to the hotel to change and relax, we hit the town for dinner. Fall was definitely in the air. A great change from the past couple months of blistering heat we’d experienced! Our night in Sante Fe was fantastic. Athina and I have been very tired in these recent weeks as we’ve headed across the south. Living out of a suitcase, being on stage all the time, and driving long distances can really wear you out. Santa Fe would be our breath of fresh air, and an opportunity to recharge and just enjoy our surroundings!

Click here to learn more about "On the Road for Climate Action!"

-Shahir Masri, Sc.D.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

A Day on The Hill - Meetings with Congress!

What an exciting day! We made our way into the nation's capital for two very exciting meetings. The first was a meeting with Senator Elizabeth Warren's office, and the second was a meeting with Congressman Dana Rohrabocher, our CA representative. As we were walking to the senate building, we noticed a lot of commotion on the streets and in a building to our left. We quickly figured out that we were walking past the Kavanaugh confirmation hearing, as we walked through a protest of pro-Kavanaugh and then through a protest against Kavanaugh's confirmation.

The energy was electric this morning. We met with Courtney, a staffer in Warren's office. We spoke with her about climate policy that Senator Warren is working on. Our most important finding was when Shahir asked how close we are to putting a federal price on carbon. Courtney's answer was a bit disheartening, but at the same time energizing. She said that they are just not feeling sufficient pressure from the public to prioritize the issue of climate change and addressing carbon emissions in Washington. There are not enough phone calls, not enough letters, or people in the street. Therefore, other issues, such as consumer protection, are taking priority. This reinforced our feeling that our "Road for Climate Action" is an important and worthwhile endeavor.

This picture features Shahir, Courtney, and I standing outside of Warren's office.

We had quite a different conversation with our Congressman Dana Rohrabacher at his office. Rohrabacher merely refers to climate change as the "CO2 theory," reluctant to acknowledge the crisis we're facing. He nonetheless listened to our concerns. And although he does not attribute human activity as a cause of the changing climate, he did accept the gift of Beyond Debate that Shahir brought for him. Our two meetings on this day could not have been any more different!

Following this, we traveled to Annapolis where we had a climate talk at the Friends of Annapolis Quaker House hosted by the Climate Stewards of Greater Annapolis, and Citizens' Climate Lobby. It was a great evening filled with insightful questions and conversation. By the end of the day, we were completely exhausted and were happy to hit the hay!

Click here to learn more about "On the Road for Climate Action!"

-Athina Simolaris

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

First Day in D.C.!

Today was the day that we delivered our two Parachutes for the Planet to Barton Rubinstein, co-Founder of the Mother Earth Project. To remind you, we had been carrying a parachute to different Native American communities along our route to add to the intertribal parachute that we delivered to Barton. We also took with us a parachute that Santiago High School had painted. Meeting Barton in person was great! We learned that he is actually a talented sculptor and is doing a lot to bring awareness to environmental causes. Barton has been receiving parachutes from youth from all over the world. Actually, he has received over 200 chutes from as far as Africa! After we met with Barton, we took some time to work on our computers and catch up on as many emails as we could. We also prepared for our meeting with our congressman, Dana Rohrabacher the following day. We made it into the city for dinner and over all had a productive and enjoyable day!

Click here to learn more about "On the Road for Climate Action!"

-Athina Simolaris

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

From Philly to the Nations Capital!

Today we traveled from Philly to the nations capital, Washington D.C.! We had a busy few days working and doing climate talks in Philly, so we figured on the way to D.C. we would take a quick detour to see a bit of the city. We found the Liberty Bell and took a nice stroll through the national park where it lives. Whenever possible we try to see what we can of the sights and history of each city. We had lunch in the historic district in a restaurant which originally opened in 1773! We had to get on the road to D.C. for our afternoon event. The skies opened into a torrential downpour for most
of our drive, and we arrived at our destination, Solid States Bookstore, for our event. The book store was a great space, and our event was hosted by the local CCL chapters in D.C.. Solid State Books even had a happy hour during our event so that attendees could enjoy a glass of wine or local brew. We enjoyed speaking to the community about concerns and questions related to climate change, like electric cars, and melting permafrost. After the event, we stayed with some family friends who made us feel very welcome and even made us dinner. There is nothing like a home cooked meal after almost two months on the road!

Click here to learn more about "On the Road for Climate Action!"

                                                                           -Athina Simolaris

Monday, September 24, 2018

West-Chester University, Pennsylvania

We woke up in Philly and had some free time, which we totally took advantage of! We went for a run around the neighborhood which was lined with beautiful row homes. Then we headed into West Chester, PA, where we had an event later that evening. We found a coffee shop and settled in for a few hours of computer work. This type of time is hard to come by, and when we find a few hours like this, we try our hardest to be super productive! We have had the fortune to work in some really unique coffee shops across the country, and this cute cafe was no exception. We then met some wonderful CCL volunteers who helped organize our event for dinner. It is always great meeting motivated volunteers from all over the country. Our event at West Chester University was great! We had a mixture of students, university staff, CCL volunteers, and individuals from PennEnvironment (an local environmental organization). Interestingly, the campus had a small coal-fired power plant on site. In the last 5 yrs, however, the University made a very responsible and healthy decision. They replaced the coal plant with a zero-emissions geothermal plant. The coal plant was previously the highest source of air pollution for the area, and you can still see the smoke stack in the middle of the campus. The great news is it exists no more. Well done WCU! Shahir also had a chance to video interview the campus director of sustainability. Video interview coming soon!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

NY to Philly!

We woke up tired from all that walking the night before, and packed to head to Philly where we had an evening event. Along the way we stopped for lunch and we stumbled upon a Lebanese cafe. We ate some delicious food that reminded Shahir of home, and had me happily satisfied!

Foul- fava beans, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil
Baba Ghanoush with Fresh Pita


Continuing on, we made it to Philadelphia. Here we stayed with Karen, a CCL volunteer who was very kind and opened her home to us. She organized a pot lock dinner at her home prior to the event. About 10 local CCL volunteers attended, and everyone contributed something delicious, from guacamole, to homemade pumpkin bread, and we felt very fortunate to be welcomed with such delicious eats. The event was held at Summit Presbyterian Church, and although it was a rainy evening, over 20 attendees came out to the event.