How to Solve the Climate Crisis through Fiction

How to Solve the Climate Crisis through Fiction

Solving the climate crisis is feasible, as far as technology and economics are concerned. All that is missing to implement climate solutions is progressive leadership and the collective will to do so. Although the stories in this blog are fictional, they were built around real solutions to combat the climate crisis. The framework of the missions the characters embark on is based on solid scientific information, primarily from En-ROADS (Energy Rapid Overview and Decision-Support) policy simulator, Project Drawdown, and many other reputable information sources.

The En-ROADS Climate Change Solutions Simulator uses the best available science and has been extensively calibrated. The simulation model was developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management, Climate Interactive (a nonprofit think tank), and Ventana Systems (a company specializing in complex modeling). Project Drawdown is a nonprofit organization that aims to help the world reach “drawdown”— the future point in time when levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases begin to decline. This organization emerged as a leading resource for information and insight about climate solutions after its book Drawdown achieved New York Times best-seller status in 2017.

The graphs on this page are from Climate Interactive (EnROADS Climate Change Solutions Simulator) showing an overview of what the average global temperature is predicted to be under three different scenarios: 

1. continue with the status quo resulting in an unlivable planet for humans within 80 years

2. implement a wide range of existing solutions explored in this book and barely maintain a livable planet for people

3. implement current technologies plus new technologies to remove carbon and to further limit temperature change 

I encourage to play with the climate policy simulator yourself. It’s very informative! I hope the following stories will bring these critical solutions into daily conversation while providing a sense of urgency, empowerment, and humor that will aid in uniting people to take global action. Without our solidarity, our trajectory is headed straight toward a climate unfit for humans within the foreseeable future. Why is there any hesitation in getting started?

Thank you, in advance, for reading. I look forward to coming together around issues that unite humanity and create a more just, loving, and sustainable world with you.

With love, peace, hope, and solidarity,

Dawn Pape

continue with the status quo resulting in an unlivable planet for humans within 80 years
EN-ROADS predicted temperature change with some solutions implemented
EN-ROADS predicted temperature increase by 2100 with major shifts: fossil fuels highly taxed
No pressure Hollywood, but you’re going to need to step up and save us from ourselves

No pressure Hollywood, but you’re going to need to step up and save us from ourselves

Keith laughing at others

Kudos for Don’t Look Up! But please don’t stop with that movie, Adam McKay and the rest of the entertainment industry. According to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communications, the majority (72%) of U.S. adults recognize climate change is happening— i.e. recognize that the proverbial comet is speeding toward Earth—but only 39% talk about it. With our country’s deep political divisions, 72% is practically unanimous. So, I think people are hungry to learn about solutions—especially if delivered in an entertaining way that is light on the facts and fear. Facts can be disputed and fear pushes people toward depression, denial, distancing, and distraction.

No pressure, but I think it’s up to you (and your colleagues) to save humanity from ourselves by taking the climate narrative a step further. 😉 It’s time to explore SOLUTIONS with a binge-worthy series bursting with colorful characters with diverse backgrounds that everyone can relate to in some way. Overwhelmed people will tune in for the story and learn about the climate solutions by accident. While these are definitely challenging times, this is also an extraordinary time to be on the planet and influence the direction of civilization by tapping into our creativity, solidarity, and innovation.

I know this is a longshot, but I’m a mother of two who will stop at nothing to protect my children’s (ages 10 and 12) futures. So here’s my bold ask. Would you help paint the picture of what a fossil fuel-free society could look like? I’m not famous. I don’t have any connections. But you do.

The story could be anything and you’re the clearly expert here. But in case you’re looking for an idea, one idea could be a story loosely based on “EJECTED—The Story that Solves the Climate Crisis.“* The premise of this book is that people responsible for excessive greenhouse gas emissions are ejected from the planet. In order to return to Earth, the “Ejected” need to decrease emission levels so the world can support them once again. It’s basically a twist on Lost and Gilligan’s Island but instead of people trying to get off an island they are trying to return to Earth.

The beauty of this premise is that it is quite silly, so there’s lots of room for humor, a wide range of characters, creativity, and joyfulness. Another positive aspect is that the solutions presented in the book are based on solid science. If the solutions discussed in the book were actually implemented in the world we live in, we would change the trajectory of the climate crisis and give our kids the world we want them to have. I think the key is creating something that a diverse audience (not just liberals, like me) would binge on.

*Full disclosure: EJECTED is my book but this is NOT a pitch for me to make money or for book promotion. I seriously don’t care about sales. In fact, it’s a free download on this website. Was it a bestseller? Nope. However, it did get reviewed by notable Bill McKibben! I honestly only care about every child’s future and want to help shift the current narrative away from doom and helplessness to clarity, unity, and optimism. I want climate discussion to be in daily conversations.

What I think is unique about this book is that it:

  1. is optimistic 
  2. is [hopefully] a fun and engaging story that weaves complex social and political aspects of climate change together to attract a larger audience. All throughout history, stories—not statistics—have united cultures. People remember and connect with stories because they build familiarity and allow the reader to enter the story wherever they are in their own lives. Stories make people more open to learning and, perhaps more importantly, more open to feeling. Stories also offer multiple ways for people to connect with information.
  3. is a story that doubles as a guidebook and lays out a plan to solve the climate crisis based on science and research (largely Climate Interactive and Project Drawdown)

I would love to hear what you think of my idea and hear if you’re up for the challenge.

Dawn Pape

Mother, Advocate, Fellow Human Being concerned about things beyond my own life

dawn (at) we all need food and water (dot) org

 

Plastic-Free Challenge

Plastics are as awesome as they are problematic. There’s no question that they add comfort, convenience, and even life-saving devices to society. But they also create waste and litter, contribute to climate change, pollute our water, harm wildlife, and have largely unknown health impacts for us. Worldwide, plastic production has skyrocketed since the 1970s, and a lot of the growth has come in the form of packaging and single-use plastics. Most plastics are made from oil and gas—fossil fuels that contribute to climate change. About 4% to 8% of the world’s oil production is for plastics, and most plastics are thrown away after a single use. This feels wrong, doesn’t it?

Be part of the solution to reduce waste, protect water and wildlife, address climate change, and look after the health of ourselves and future generations by joining us and the Hennepin County Plastic-Free Challenge and committing to actions that help create a plastic-free world.

Salt Fish on Your Plate, Not in the Lake!

Salt Fish on Your Plate, Not in the Lake!

The Proper Time to Salt Fish

With the onset of winter around the corner, I say, ‘let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!’ But let’s just skip the treacherous freezing rain, right? Unfortunately, our increasingly warmer winters are resulting in icier surfaces so over the last 20 years, road salt sales have skyrocketed. Certainly there are more roads and parking lots, but there is also a growing expectation by the public that our roads and parking lots are completely ice free. In the name of safety, salt use is on the rise. Faith-based institutions and shopping centers, fearing lawsuits, are known to spread unconscionable amounts of salt after a few flakes of snow. The catch is, more salt doesn’t necessarily translate to less icejust more soil contamination and water pollution.

 

Impacts of Salt

If environmental impacts aren’t reason enough to limit salt use, it is estimated that every $50 of salt applied causes about $750 of damage with burned vegetation, rusted cars and pitted pavements.

Salt is an environmental concern because it gets into our soils. It reaches our waters either by percolating through the soil or a travels directly via storm drains. The problem is pretty simple. Salt accumulates and sticks aroundbasically forever. Consider mixing a glass of water with a spoonful of salt. The salt will eventually settle out, and the water will evaporate, but the salt will remain.

 A water body is considered “impaired” at 230 mg/l. In practical terms, this is one teaspoon of salt per five gallons of water. Even this small amount negatively impacts our freshwater aquatic systems, depletes oxygen levels and even changes how lakes naturally mix. The proper time to salt the fish we eat is probably not when it’s still swimming, but on a dinner plate. There are also negative implications for our groundwater and soil salinity.

 

More isn’t better 

“More is better” is a prevalent attitude, but more salt doesn’t melt ice any faster than the correct amount of saltenough salt to break the bond between the ice and pavement. Consider also that regular salt (sodium chloride) won’t melt anything if the air temperature is colder than 15º Fahrenheit. For cold weather, other deicers containing, magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, potassium acetate or calcium magnesium acetate are better options. Sand provides traction, but poses other environmental problems.

 

Tips to Reduce the Need for Salt

  • Tried and true, it’s effective and a great way to exercise.
  • Timing is everything. If a storm is coming, apply a liquid deicer.
  • 15°F is too cold for salt. Which deicers to use is based on pavement and/or air temperatures. Consider investing in a nifty temperature gun for ($20) to eliminate guessing the pavement temperature.
  • Slow down. Drive for the conditions and leave ample following distance.
  • Be patient. Deicers may not be visible and they take time to work.
  • More salt does not mean more melting. One pound of salt is approximately a 12-ounce coffee mug. Use (less than) 4 pounds of salt per 1,000 square feet. A hand-held spreader helps in applying evenly.
  • Sweep up and reuse extra salt.
  • Become an educated salt product user. Salts range from simple table salt to calcium chloride. Whatever product you chose, make sure you know at what temperature it stops working.

Learn More

The saltsmart.info website is very helpful and so is the Treehugger website.

 

Join us!

Each month we meet for a F.U.N Event, which stands for Future Unfolds Now. These events are free and family-friendly.

salt smart dot info

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Home Farming

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Download a free copy of Ejected—The Story that Solves the Climate Crisis

Download

Is it time to move from a “Me” to a “We” Culture?

Is it time to move from a “Me” to a “We” Culture?

 

What do the COVID-19 pandemic, racial justice, and countless environmental problems such as climate change, water pollution, and controlling invasive species have in common? No single entity can make a dent in solving any of these problems without collective action and cooperation. In other words, we’re all in this together.

Now is the time to examine our culture and consider which aspects will serve us best in the future. Will the United States continue to be the “land of opportunity” without a livable climate, clean air, and clean water? We are facing a pivotal moment in time where the future’s well-being rests squarely on our shoulders in every decision we make right now. We need all hands on deck because the climate impacts everyone’s future although it is very few people’s job descriptions to do something about it.

 

Individualism and Community are Both to American Culture

As a culture, we Americans, value freedom, individualism, and opportunity. We see ourselves as individuals who are in control of our own lives, rather than members of a close-knit, interdependent family, religious group, tribe, or nation. Our history is tied to the cultural legacy of Manifest Destiny. This phrase was coined in 1845 to convey that the United States is destined by God to expand its dominion and spread democracy and capitalism.  We are a nation that believes in pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps in the land of opportunity.

Herbert Hoover further hammered home the idea of “rugged individualism” in a 1928 campaign speech as he described a choice between “rugged individualism and a European philosophy of … paternalism and state socialism.” Rugged individualism continued to show up in mainstream culture in the form of the solo cowboy in “The Lone Ranger,” countless westerns, and even the cigarette icon Marlboro Man.

It’s important to note that the flip side of individualism—community—has also been present throughout our history. In the 18th and 19th centuries, barn raising parties were common. These events brought people together to pool their knowledge and labor and build in a day what might have taken an individual weeks or months to construct. More recently, the anniversary of 9-11 reminds us how important it is to working together to stamp our terrorism and move toward peace, tolerance, and understanding.

 

Pay it forward

Having a livable climate is assumed when people make plans to fulfill their dreams. But in reality, no dreams will come true without a livable climate. How great would it be if people considered taking public transit that took them a bit longer for the good of society?  What if adults, teenagers, and children that want to make a difference “pay it forward” by keeping the street in front of their home free of grass clippings, dirt, and salt to minimize water pollution and carefully checking watercraft to prevent the spread of invasive species. It just may be time to channel our rugged American spirit to preserve this land of opportunity for the next generation because our actions impact one another. We are connected. 

 

Join us!

Each month we meet for a F.U.N Event, which stands for Future Unfolds Now. These events are free and family-friendly. 

five kids arm in arm with solar panels in the background