Newsdesk – January 19

The planetary health diet allows an average of 2,500 calories per day. Photograph: Molly Katzen/Eat Forum

New plant-focused diet would ‘transform’ planet’s future, say scientists. Seeking to draw up guidelines that provide nutritious food to the world’s fast-growing population, the “planetary health diet” was created by an international commission.  The diet is a “win-win”, according to the scientists, as it would save at least 11 million people a year from deaths caused by unhealthy food, while preventing the collapse of the natural world that humanity depends upon.  Unhealthy diets are the leading cause of ill health worldwide, with 800 million people currently hungry, 2 billion malnourished, and further 2 billion people overweight or obese. Industrial agriculture is also devastating the environment, as forests are erased and billions of cattle emit climate-warming methane. Globally, the diet requires red meat and sugar consumption to be cut by half, while vegetables, fruit, pulses, and nuts must double. But in specific places the changes are stark. North Americans need to eat 84% less red meat but six times more beans and lentils – The Guardian

Read moreNewsdesk – January 19

Newsdesk – January 12

Read moreNewsdesk – January 12

Newsdesk – January 5

An Environmentalist Is Iceland’s New Prime Minister. Katrin Jakobsdottir, 41, chairwoman of the Left-Green Movement, will lead the government of the North Atlantic island of 340,000 residents after elections in October that were blighted by scandal and voter mistrust. A democratic socialist, Katrín is viewed as a bridge-building leader that may lead the country towards positive, incremental change. “She is the party leader who can best unite voters from the left and right,” said Eva H. Onnudottir, a political scientist at the University of Iceland, according to the New York Times.  Ms. Jakobsdottir will govern in coalition with parties of very different creeds: the conservative Independence Party and the center-right Progressive Party.  Ms. Jakobsdottir, a former education minister, is often cited by opinion polls as being one of the most trusted and well-liked politicians in Iceland. She had campaigned on pledges to restore welfare benefits and to make Iceland carbon neutral by 2040 – Inhabitat

Read moreNewsdesk – January 5

Newsdesk – December 29

How hard is a low-carbon lifestyle? A Berlin family tells all. For the past year, Karin Beese and her family have been on a low-carbon diet in an effort to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and head off the worst effects of climate change. And it’s changed their lives. When mother of three Karin Beese used to think about climate change, it was more in the context of far away places than in the German capital, where she lives. A baseline measurement showed Beese’s family was producing around 6.5 tons of carbon dioxide per person, per year. Although far below the 2017 German CO2 average of 11 tons per capita, the family decided to set themselves an annual target of just four tons each. To keep track of their progress, they kept an online log of things like food, electricity, heating and transportation. Although they still use their car for certain trips, they do cycle, and because they’re vegetarians, they also scored alright on the food front – Deutsche Welle

Read moreNewsdesk – December 29

Newsdesk – December 15


Climate change: COP24 fails to adopt key scientific report. Attempts to incorporate a key scientific study into global climate talks in Poland have failed. Scientists and many delegates in Poland were shocked as the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Kuwait objected to this meeting “welcoming” the report. With no consensus, under UN rules the passage of text had to be dropped. Many countries expressed frustration and disappointment at the outcome. Scientists and campaigners were also extremely disappointed by the outcome. “We are really angry and find it atrocious that some countries dismiss the messages and the consequences that we are facing, by not accepting what is unequivocal and not acting upon it,” said Yamide Dagnet from the World Resources Institute, and a former climate negotiator for the UK. “I sincerely hope that all countries will fight that we don’t leave COP24 having missed a moment of history” – BBC

Read moreNewsdesk – December 15

Newsdesk – December 8

Alan Burns’ Journey Continues. Memorial service for Alan was held at Charlotte Friends Meeting the evening of December 7.

Last night I got to know my friend Alan Burns by the quality and the grace of the space he left behind. By the people who gathered and the attention they gave to honoring him. His memorial was marked by the artistry and exquisite details provided by his comrades: People who walked with him and fought with him, hoped with him and wrote with him. Quaker Friends held space for the memorial in quiet worship and fond memories. Political figures of Charlotte stood side by side with family and climate activists to honor his life. Poets and orators and heart-stringed instruments sang out his work and his life’s message. The words “quiet” and “strength” were repeated by many who shared grateful remembrances. The sheer length and continuity of Alan’s peaceful conviction is enough to give pause to the frenzied efforts of a modern day lifestyle.

  • “What if I, too, lived with such integrity in what I believe?”
  • “What if I, too, lived in such consonance with the God-whispers in my life?”

These were questions that arose in the sharing and reverberated with many. Voices of Alan’s small grandchildren chattered lightly and joyfully at times in the service and set a tone of the future unfolding – the still present hope. “That’s my dad,” his grown children whispered with teary smiles to their own children. “That’s my dad.” The service was hauntingly ended as we sang in our own voices Alan’s hymn of peace to the music of Finlandia played on the cello. – Anne Klaus.

“This is my song
O God of all the nations,
A song of peace,
For lands a-far and mine…”

Rest In Peace. Your spirit is free.

Program for Alan Burns Celebration of Life

Read moreNewsdesk – December 8

Newsdesk – December 1

FILE PHOTO: Houses are seen submerged in flood waters caused by Tropical Storm Harvey in Northwest Houston, Texas, U.S. August 30, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif/File Photo – RC19280622B0

A Grave Climate Warning, Buried on Black Friday.   In a massive new report, federal scientists contradict President Trump and assert that climate change is an intensifying danger to the United States. Too bad it came out on a holiday.  The federal government published a massive and dire new report on climate change. The report warns, repeatedly and directly, that climate change could soon imperil the American way of life, transforming every region of the country, imposing frustrating costs on the economy, and harming the health of virtually every citizen.  The report is a huge achievement for American science. It represents cumulative decades of work from more than 300 authors. Since 2015, scientists from across the U.S. government, state universities, and businesses have read thousands of studies, summarizing and collating them into this document.  The report is blunt: Climate change is happening now, and humans are causing it. “Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities,” declares its first sentence The Atlantic 

Read moreNewsdesk – December 1

Newsdesk – November 24

Grist / Amelia Bates / Leemage / Corbis via Getty Images

Tribes Have Climate Wisdom – and Good Reason Not to Share It. The Saint Regis Mohawk Reservation stretches for 25 square miles along the United States’ border with Canada. this ecologically rich environment consists of more than 3,000 acres of wetlands along riverbanks, islands, and inlets. But the landscape can’t escape the encroachment of nearby pollution. Tribal members live downstream from several major industrial facilities, hydro dams, and aluminum smelters.  Pollutants from these places have leached into the Saint Regis Mohawk way of life, shifting the range of flora and fauna on which many of their traditional practices rely. These native communities are one of the groups most impacted by a changing climate — and many of the human activities that have precipitated it. They are also a necessary part of the solution, their lands encompassing 22% of Earth’s surface and 80% of the planet’s biodiversity. Disseminating these tribes’ traditions can help to address challenges, like climate change, but indigenous communities have no guarantee that their cultural values, secrets, and traditions will be respected if they offer it. Even when the government taps indigenous groups for input, many of the resulting collaborations don’t show respect for the tribal people or the accumulated knowledge they possess. Still, though, there are a lot of well-intentioned guidelines for asking indigenous groups to share their environmental knowledge with outsiders. The EPA, for instance, considers confidentiality concerns regarding information on sacred sites, cultural resources, and other traditional knowledge, as permitted by law. Despite this help, Amberdawn Lafrance, the Saint Regis Mohawk tribe’s environmental coordinators, thinks that “the EPA was trying to be considerate, but at the same time, it’s like they’re not considering all the implications of us letting that information go,” and “that some people were shocked.” “But some were proud of us for sticking to our guns — and knowing what’s important and who we are.” – Grist Magazine

Read moreNewsdesk – November 24

Newsdesk – November 17

“Many of you know that my husband Alan Burns has been in Europe for the past several months on a pilgrimage to raise awareness about climate change. He and a group of fellow activists were walking from Rome to Katowice Poland in time for the Climate Conference. I received news Sunday morning that Alan had died while the pilgrims were in Slovenia. Please hold Alan, his family, and his friends in the light as we process this transition, and do whatever is in your power to continue his work to avert the worst catastrophe this planet has faced. Alan was a kind soul and a tireless worker for peace, justice, and equality; he lived his life as he hoped others would, and I think died doing exactly what he wanted to be doing – helping to save the world.”

– Liz Burns


“Charlotte friends, I just ran across this incredibly sad news that we lost one of the most dedicated climate activists I’ve ever met, and I’m sure some of you may have known, Alan Burns. He was one of the kindest and open people in the movement. He passed while participating in another one of his pilgrimages to bring attention to climate action, this time across Europe on his way to Katowice, Poland ahead of the international COP-24 meeting there. We first crossed paths now almost 10 years ago, as I myself began exploring and learning about social justice in its many forms.”

– Sebastian Marcin Feculak


“I was dismayed to hear of Alan Burns passing while on a pilgrimage to raise awareness about climate change. Alan was among the first people I met after moving to Charlotte in 2014. I had gone to his house to talk to him about his solar array, when Solarize Charlotte was still in the planning phase. He welcomed me into his home, pulled out a binder of data that he had collected on PV production, and was eager to share any insight he could offer on solar energy. In that first conversation, he conveyed his warmth, sincerity and desire to make change. Over several years, many meetings, van rides to Raleigh, and actions in uptown Charlotte, I saw how wholeheartedly committed Alan was to stopping climate change and making the world a better place. His endearing smile, unwavering activism, and weekly newsletters will be sorely missed. Sending love to his family and community.”

– Hanna Mitchell


“It was so tragic to hear about my friend Alan’s sudden passing this last weekend.
Alan was probably the gentlest, most selfless, passionate, and most aware and concern about climate change human being I’ve ever met.  He was a huge inspiration for me. His  website, Think Global Green will continue his legacy beyond the COP24  in Katowice, and beyond his sad departure.  I for one promise to work on the TGG Newsdesk on days to come, although I know Alan’s contribution could never be replaced…”

– Filip Zembowicz, 14


“So heartbroken to hear of the passing of the incredibly passionate and dedicated climate activist Alan Burns. I met Alan my first days in Charlotte and remember him holding up one of the main banners outside the May 2011 Duke Shareholder Meeting protest despite having a nasty snake bite on his hand. That’s the type of person Alan was. He would always be on the frontline addressing the climate crisis no matter the personal sacrifice, from risking arrest to protest the KXL pipeline in DC, to going without food hosting the Fast for the Climate in uptown and to walking for many, many miles on the months long pilgrimages across the world before the climate summits. Alan inspired action and encouraged us all to walk our talk. Sending love to all the family, friends and folks in Charlotte and around the world that were touched by his brave actions. May we all continue to march forward for climate justice. Rest in peace Alan.”

– Monica Mariko Embrey


“Alan will always be my personal hero and he has inspired all of us to take every step. Alan is one of the most wonderful human beings I have ever had the privilege of knowing. I loved him like a brother and will always hold him in my heart. I am certain all of you feel the loss and you are also all in my heart and in my thoughts. Warm embrace to all of you in Charlotte.”

– Yeb Saño


“Just learned of the untimely passing of Alan Burns, an exemplary, humble, and genuinely kind human being, and a fiercely dedicated advocate for the environment and social justice. His passing is a profound loss for all inhabitants of our ailing, mourning planet. I only interacted with Alan for a short time when I worked at an environmental non-profit organization in Charlotte four years ago. Albeit briefly, it was a privilege meeting Alan, learning from him, and helping to honor him for his work. Rest peacefully, Alan. Thank you for loving Mother Earth the way all of us should. My sympathy to Alan’s family and close friends.

“In Alan’s memory, I urge you to do (or keep doing) your part to help save what’s left of this critically injured earth. As discouraging as it is that our head of state, his administration and many of his supporters deny climate change, just know that a singular man from the United Kingdom, who called Charlotte, NC, home for many years, died in Slovenia during his pilgrimage from Rome to Poland. Although he didn’t make it to Poland for the December 2nd Climate Convention, his legacy and spirit of fighting peacefully, but valiantly, for our planet will be there with his fellow activists. Peace.”

– Leslie Rupracht

Read moreNewsdesk – November 17

Newsdesk – November 8

Jane Goodall remains a bright light of optimism. Photo by blogchef, Creative Commons.

Jane Goodall Isn’t Giving Up.  Faced with mass species die-offs and presidential horrors, the dazzling doctor still finds hope in resiliency. The recent film about her life directed by Brett Morgen, chronicles Goodall’s love affair with Hugo van Lawick, her first husband and the father of her son, and her passion for the chimpanzees and the forests of Tanzania.  Goodall’s talk at the film festival, one statement leapt out. She was asked how she keeps going despite the challenges. In spite of the grim news for the environment from the U.S., and now Brazil, where a newly elected presidential nightmare threatens to sell off the Amazon rainforest and jettison all Indigenous land rights, Goodall argues that there is ample reason for hope. “There is a great deal of optimism, and so many great projects, kindness to animals, people devoting their lives to eradicating poverty, environmental design. It’s important not to give up.” Hers is a love story. Not simply with other creatures – child, husband, chimpanzees – but with the planet itself. Love is a transformational force, and it carries with it the seeds of ongoing, unrelenting change, stubborn as a dandelion – The Tyee

Read moreNewsdesk – November 8