Adapting to a Hotter World

The heroes in the next chapter of human survival will come from all walks of life and all branches of disciplines. Don’t give up hope just yet, things can still change for the better. When you give up, you’ve already lost. I’ve tracking climate change for over 25 years. While it is a large and complex problem, don’t let the thought of it overwhelm you. Like any large, complex problem we need to break it down into smaller steps. My advice for anything you try to conquer in life, is to take what overwhelms you and break it down into parts you can handle. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

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I want to make a bold new suggestion. What if we stop trying to fix our current societies “as is” and break the current schema? These small, fragmented patch jobs spread out across sectors and hindered by greed and red tape could quite possibly doom us all. What if we could build a new interwoven framework to create just, regenerative societies? I really love the idea of a “regenerative society.” To heal ourselves, our communities, and the landscapes in which we reside. How though?

Next time you have the opportunity to let your mind wander, I want you to think about what a regenerative society would look like in your eyes.

Feel free to share your ideas in the comment section below, write your own blog post and let me know about it, or email me. Maybe you will come up with ideas that pertain to the work that you and bring fresh ideas to your business, family, and communities. I hope you get promoted for being such a forward-looking thinker. We need you for the future of humanity. If you’re retired, the good news is, you’re not dead yet and there is still so much that you can do within your community! Depression can strike any age, gender and spiritual belief. I’ve always found that being part of something greater than myself gives me peace, passion and  happiness, even as an introvert. Do what feels comfortable to you.

We’re seeing the effects of drought, heatwaves, flooding, and typhoon damage nearly daily. Trying to manage these events as they happen is nearly impossible. The best strategy is to plan for them in advance, which can be difficult when people are stuck in an “out of sight, out of mind” way of reacting to things. As a disaster preparedness geek, I’m always planning one season ahead. In the summer I prepare for Fall, in the Fall I prepare for the Winter and in the Winter I prepare for Spring. Staying one step ahead helps me save money by buying supplies “out of season” and often with more selection. This also gives me the chance to do some research to make sure that what I think I need and what I actually need are the same thing. Sometimes through my research I discover I don’t need to buy anything at all, just reorganize something I already have. I can often create what I need or find someone in my community to help or trade with.

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How can society benefit from planning ahead?

A lot of the research has already been done. Some it has been lost and needs to be rediscovered and/or embraced by a larger segment of the population. Serious mistakes have been made in the past, both on a human rights level and an environmental level. Here in the U.S. there is an urgency to help Indigenous Americans reclaim their lands and rights that were stolen during decades of genocide. The restoration of these lands and rights could help all of us benefit from nearly forgotten practices of land management that are only now being given serious consideration and rigorous academic studies that they deserve.

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Looking beyond national borders also gives us ideas about what works in other areas of the world. The current trend in environmental articles last week have been two-fold. Several articles talk about how trees are important to relieving the “heat island effect” in cities. Once again we see disparities of who gets trees in their neighborhoods, which often tend to be pre-dominantly White, upper class neighborhoods. The trees themselves did not ask to be objectified as status symbols for wealth. Its class systems and social hierarchies who has decided who gets to benefit from nature. I’ll state the obvious, this practice needs to be abolished. Trees and plants for all!

The second common thread of environmental articles these last few weeks had to do with white paint. Famous pictures from Greece, especially from the Cyclades islands depict white building with blue domes. While this white paint is derived from mined gypsum, scientists are exploring other ways to benefit from the properties of the white paint for broader use without having to mine it. One study is focusing on the properties of a beetle, Lepidiota stigma. I believe if we can understand how this works at a molecular level, we can come up with eco-friendly paint formulas in various colors.

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This week I’m researching “Tiny Forests” for next weeks post. Stay tuned. Have a safe and comfortable rest of your week!

Tree Equity Score highlights lack of cover in low-income areas (fastcompany.com)

How cities can avoid ‘green gentrification’ and make urban forests accessible (theconversation.com)

In Cleveland, Better Housing Is Climate Justice : NPR

This whiter than white paint cools buildings (fastcompany.com)

Lighter pavement really does cool cities when it’s done right (theconversation.com)

Why shade trees are hard to find in redlined neighborhoods (nationalgeographic.com)

Heatwave, Restoration and battling Tansy Ragwort

I was working on a different post for this week, but I’m going to save it for next week. Right now I want to tell you about the last few days. I was fortunate to be way up north this weekend in Blaine, Washington. My reservation was made two months ago, but it was the most comfortable place in Washington state to ride out the heatwave. All the talk around here has been about the great Pacific Northwest heatwave and the collapse of a twelve-story building in Surf City, Florida. Both have resulted in a tragic loss of life and are harbingers of things to come. What can climate scientists say? We thought we had more time. We don’t.

Blaine is the last city on I-5 before you reach the Canadian border. Some lucky people living in Blaine have a gorgeous view of Vancouver, B.C.’s skyline! It’s right there, so close! I’d intended to get you a cool picture to prove it, but there was a milkshake incident. I was not the one wearing the milkshake, but let’s just say someone squeezed their plastic cup too hard. Right now, the border between U.S. and Canada is closed. A lot of us on both sides of the border are not happy about it. I miss my British Columbia people and the closure has kept friends separated from their families.

Here’s a picture of a shore habitat restoration project in Birch Bay. Behind it is the sun frying Vancouver, B.C. just a wee bit longer before it calls it a day. Shoreline restoration is important for many reasons. It provides habitat, helps reduce wind-driven erosion and tidal erosion during storms and high tides, in particular, “King tides” which is a non-scientific name for an exceptionally high tide that happens a few times a year.

Shore Restoration Birch Bay

Today was the first day the Pacific Northwest (PNW) got back down to cooler temperatures, though still above average for this time of year. I took the opportunity to work in the yard. There is so much work to be done! It’s a full-time job creating my own “learn as I go” habitat restoration project on 1.39 acres (0.56 hectare). I’ve tried to find experts in the field to help guide me to know avail. I often find that I end up teaching them instead of the other way around. There is a very deep pain etched in this land. It belonged to the Coast Salish tribes before the government of White colonists started dividing it up to be sold and owned.

To conquer and “civilize” the land, non-indigenous plants and crops were brought in, mostly from Europe and Asia. These are the weeds that I now fight today. Some of these plants became very invasive, some of the others were kind and play well with others, not dominating the landscape, like people or words are sometime inclined to do. Still more of them came generations later both intentionally and unintentionally through livestock manure, soil, or other secondary means.

I‘m not alone in my effort to reclaim the native plants that have been trampled on and abused. The stories of these plants are the stories of the indigenous people, who have also been trampled on and abused. They want to heal, they want to restore, and I want to help. We can’t erase the past, we can’t ignore what has already been done, but we can still work together to preserve what’s left.

Tansy Ragwort

The recent heat wave has invigorated the tansy ragwort (Senecio jacobaea) a highly toxic, Class B noxious weed that is threatening to take over my field of restoration. It so terrible that it has to go in the garbage and can’t go in the compost if its got a head on it. So today, in the sun I tried to remove as much as I could. I’ll be back at it again tomorrow, but its already filled up two garbage bags. That’s going to cost me extra in disposal fees. I just can’t let it go to seed though, so in desperation I’ve decided to go with the Queen of Hearts* advice and it’s “Off with their heads!” Then I can circle back around and pull it out from the roots with slightly less urgency.

I know my wars are frequently invisible and never shall I see a parade for my efforts, but this is important, even in small ways. On days when I feel like giving up and moving to a condo in the city, I take a walk and more often that not find a new native friend to greet me. My greatest successes so far has been the return of Western Starflowers and a few Great Camas.

Western Starflower
Great Camas


What is a King Tide? (noaa.gov)

Tansy Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea) – King County Noxious Weed Alert (wa.gov)

Western starflower; Indian potato: Trientalis latifolia – Native Plant Guide (kingcounty.gov)

Great camas (Camassia leichtlinii ssp. suksdorfii) Plant Guide (usda.gov)

*The Queen of Hearts is a fictional character from the book Alice In Wonderland By Lewis Carroll.

What the trees remember

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The day will soon come when my son won’t need me to walk him to school anymore. So last week I worked in one of my mini-nature talks about what the trees remember. I want him to respect the trees as living beings. I want him to recognize their place in the world. Not only as a natural resource from which lumber is made, but that they live and grow and die as we do. They remember the years they had to fight off bugs and diseases. They remember the summers of wildfires where their brethren and maybe they themselves had been burned by fire. The smoke and scars all get trapped up into their growth rings. They bear witness or injury from human historical events as well. Miles of mountain tops from Seattle to the Pacific ocean are barren except for the millions of stumps, like gravestones, that harken the growth of the developing metropolises that became Olympia, Tacoma and Seattle.

Seattle is the original home of the term “skid row.” It was a road or track where logs were pulled down on greased skids towards the sawmill. It also became where the destitute came to live and look for work, especially later during the time of the Great Depression in U.S. (late 1920s and early 1930s.) If you said someone was “on the skids” it meant that they had run out of luck and were sliding into poverty. The term “Skid Row” has since been adopted throughout many English-speaking countries across the world to mean a “poverty-stricken neighborhood.”

During the U.S. Civil War, General Sherman with the Union Army marched from Atlanta to Savannah, Georgia in a campaign called “the march to the sea.” This march was notable for his use of what military agencies call a “scorched earth” policy. It’s as terrible as it sounds. Everything is destroyed in their path. People and animals are killed. Trees, fields, and buildings are burned. Transportation infrastructure such as railroads, roads and bridges are destroyed. For decades after General Sherman’s army had passed burned and living trees alike could be found with railroad ties bent around their trunks in what was called “Sherman’s neckties.”

General Sherman is not alone in employing the “scorched earth” policy, it has been used throughout the world since the beginning of ancient warfare. Many decades later, the Genova Convention of 1977 explicitly calls out for people who are not active participants of a war or conflict to be treated humanely (i.e. not killed). Were I in such a predicament to be facing an army using the scorched earth tactic I would not wait around in hopes they would abide by the conventions.

The threat of global warming in many ways feels like the beginnings of a war to me. The protection of natural resources vs the continuing onslaught of sloppy, lazy, greed. Throughout the U.S. court system corporations have managed to push for themselves the rights of “personhood” by hijacking the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which was meant to recognize the emancipation of Black Slaves after the U.S. civil war.  

This matters, in that it gives corporations undue agency to act in ways that may be counterintuitive to “the common good” or the will of the people in benefit of their community. I give you these examples based in U.S. History due to my stronger familiarity with it, but I assure you that none of these concepts are unique to the U.S. alone.


If you’re reading this from another country, can you think of any natural landmarks, trees or rocks, that have been marked by a significant historical events in your country? If so, I would love to hear about them!


Have you seen a landscape that’s been mined for heavy metals? Or a river sucked dry, poisoned, or otherwise starved of life? I have. I’ve seen it with my own eyes in the US, Canada, and India. I’ve seen communities of people, fish, animals and plants die by what was done on corporate and government properties, hectares of scorched earth, bled beyond it’s borders. So environmentalists are trying a new tactic to protect what they can by arguing for the personhood of river, lakes, forests and land. After all, if corporations can claim it, why not a river?

We must force governments and corporations to be environmentally responsible now and not just talk about doing it 20 or 30 years from now, by then any such architects of their plans will be retired and happy to let someone else deal with it. Corporations are not held to same level of responsibility as an individual person. If you crash your car into someone house, you don’t get the luxury to do something about it thirty years from now.

To be clear, I’m not anti-business. I recognize that there are several companies that are trying to be partners within the communities where they operate. I applaud them for not waiting 20 to 30 years to make substantial changes. In fact, when I see that a company is committed to making environmentally sustainable practices and not just greenwashing, I make a point to remember them and support them if I can. I’ll also write them an email and say, “As a customer, it makes me very happy to see that you use [carbon-offset shipping] practices and [biodegradable packing materials].” If you’re a business owner, please don’t put it upon your customers to do the right thing. I have a bunch of Styrofoam in my garage that I’ve been saving up for years to make it worth the time and gas to drive it to the special recycling center 45 minutes away.

We need to speak up, as customers, employees, and members of the community when we see thing done right, but also when we see that things could be done better. It’s humbling when you look at a tree several thousand years old and think of all that it has lived through. The civilizations that have come and gone while this tree remained standing. I consider the trees and wild animals in my neighborhood to be members of my community. I do not want to see a grand old tree chopped down and made into toilet paper or shipping boxes.

Related Links:

10 Oldest Trees in the World (Updated 2019)

 Yesler Way: the history & origin of “skid row” | The Filson Journal

 Sherman’s neckties – Wikipedia

The History of Corporate Personhood | Brennan Center for Justice

Common good – Wikipedia

Drought-hit California moves to halt Nestlé from taking millions of gallons of water | California | The Guardian

Uganda joins the rights-of-nature movement but won’t stop oil drilling (msn.com)

20 Firms Are Behind Half Of Globe’s Single-Use Plastic Waste : NPR