A confession and an early December article

Do you want the good news or bad news first?
Good news: I just submitted grades for the Fall 2015 semester!
Bad news: The last few weeks were really busy and I have two blogs to post. Ok, that’s not really bad news, that’s Great News! The bad news is, the articles ran in the paper a few weeks ago so there are a few references that are time sensitive, but still some great tips in there. Ok so this one is up first and I’ll post the second one later this week.

And now – “winter break” time for me. Which means tackling a long list of work projects including writing one magazine article, researching and interviewing for two others, preparing my environmental biology online class for next semester, doing a 10 week online training (in hopefully way less time), prepping for next semester in person classes… oh and making my own wedding dress and creating our wedding video invitation. Piece of cake! Let’s start checking things off. 🙂

Building up for an environmental December!
First up, the Conference of Parties (COP21) has started in Paris, and world leaders have made opening remarks. President Obama opened with, ”I came here personally to say the United States not only recognizes the problem but is committed to do something about it.” British Prime Minister David Cameron focused his talk on making sure the agreement is made for the future. “Instead of making excuses to our children and grandchildren, we should be taking action,” Cameron said.

Nearly 150 world leaders will be in Paris through Dec. 11 working on a legally binding and universal agreement on climate with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C. Not an easy task, especially taking into account differing opinions, culture, economics, population numbers and more. Track and support the climate negotiations at cop21paris.org.

In a recent report released by Climate Central, Dallas was given a grade of F in regards to the state’s current level of preparedness for extreme weather events including extreme heat, drought, wildfires, inland and coastal flooding. The Climate Central group made up of climate scientists, journalists and a consulting firm (ICF International), assessed preparations made in transportation, energy, health, water and communities. The report sharply states, “The Lone Star State faces the highest overall threat levels from extreme heat, drought, and wildfires among the lower 48 states and has not undertaken a level of preparedness commensurate with this level of threat.”

We in Dallas and the rest of Texas have our work cut out for us, but the passion is here. Even in the cold and rain this past Sunday, many people joined in on a global climate march at the Continental Avenue Bridge in honor of COP21. They joined more than 600,000 people in 175 countries around the world to encourage world leaders to come to an agreement on combating climate change at COP21. The Paris climate march was cancelled due to security concerns, but marchers sent their shoes instead. Thousands of shoes with handwritten climate messages were set out across Paris, making for a silent inspiring movement. Either way, with an agreement or not, it’s up to us in the community, business leaders, residents, city representatives and everyone in between to lead the way to a sustainable future.

Let’s keep all of this in mind as we enter into the holiday season. We started the buying season with companies like R.E.I. promoting another option for Black Friday, closing their doors for the day encouraging everyone to #OptOutside. It was great to watch the #OptOutside Twitter feed of families opting to spend the day outside no matter the weather, yet thousands still ran to the stores for a materialistic deal.

This holiday season, rethink your gifts. The average American will spend about $700 on holiday gifts this year, rethink where you spend that money; shop small and support local U.S. businesses. How can you give a gift of a meaningful activity? How can you carve out some time to create heartfelt gifts loved ones will cherish? Your gifts, your cards, your tree, your decorations: choose a few ways to lessen your impact on the environment. Vanderbilt University states, “If every American family wrapped just three presents in reused materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.” We as Americans throw out 25 percent more trash during the holiday season than the entire rest of the year. Decorate some brown paper bags for wrapping paper, and recycle the paper after unwrapping.

Let the COP21 talks in Paris drive your decisions this holiday season. Hopefully our international leaders will come up with a solid plan for our world to combat climate change, which threatens the way we live every day. Small changes now can make a big difference in our future. And one last stat to think about: 35 percent of Americans have an unused Christmas present hidden in their closet — me included. To whoever gets the closet perfume from me this year, I adore you, I just hate perfume.

As seen in the Katy Trail Weekly.

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