Sisters on the Planet United Against Climate Change

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Coastal Women for Change\'s Sharon Hanshaw

A Woman’s Work…

The Governor’s Global Climate Summit ended with Oxfam America’s inaugural Sisters on the Planet Climate Leader Awards. Thanks to Karen Solomon at Opportunity Green, I was able to attend. The event showcased the work that women all over the world are doing to adapt to climate change. Sisters on the Planet is committed to exposing how livelihoods of the majority of the planet’s women are the most severely impacted by climate change. To quote the brochure:

“But if you remember one thing about Sisters on the Planet, make it this: Climate change is already having a disproportionate impact on poor people in the US and abroad, and it’s hitting women hardest.”

Oxfam is working with women all over the world to develop low-cost adaptation techniques relevant to the regions they’re in. Adapting to global warming requires a range of tactics, from helping families in flood-prone regions elevate their homes, build floating vegetable gardens, and store seeds and other necessities safely to helping farmers in drought-prone areas plant trees, drill wells and improve their irrigation techniques. Oxfam’s publication, Adaptation 101, shows the overall cost of some of these projects, and at what level they need to be carried out- in the community or nationally.

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Oxfam America’s Horn of Africa Regional Director Abera Tola was present, and explained that the vast majority of the work they’re doing in his region is adaptation. Developing countries, particularly in Africa, have such a small carbon footprint that mitigation is not the issue. Adapting to the new climate created by the developed world is the order of the day. And for women whose days are filled with farming, walking miles for water and firewood, caring for children, and helping their communities, this can seem like a tall order.

Also honored were:

  • Linda Adams: Secretary of the California EPA, who was the Governor’s lead negotiator on the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.
  • US Senator Barbara Boxer (D) San Francisco: Chair of the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
  • Hilary K. Krane: General Counsel and SVP for Corporate Affairs at Levi Strauss & Co. for her work in engaging Levi’s with BICEP– Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy.

Adapt or Die

We were given a printed brochure of the above-mentioned article, Adaptation 101, which highlighted some of the companies most committed to providing climate change adaptation solutions. Since we’ve already delayed too long to completely avoid a significant temperature increase, prescient organizations have begun working on adapting. After all, the maxim of evolution is “adapt or die.”

Being that the event was held in Los Angeles, on a lovely 80 degree October day, I found it rather disturbing that the hotel which hosted the event was not helping guests adapt, but instead kept the air conditioning at full blast even with doors open onto the patio. What good is talking about adapting if we’re still fighting natural temperatures?

Corn PLA is my New Nemesis

It’s everywhere. I can’t get away from it. And it really bothers me to see tax dollars being used to make food containers out of food (corn products like PLA & ethanol come from the kernel). Ever since corn became the poster child for freedom from petroleum, the price of corn shot up, pricing this food staple completely out of reach for the vast majority of the world’s people. So imagine my dismay when the goodie bag contained a hard plastic mug, proudly proclaiming its status as 100% US Corn!

I know Oxfam cares about the world’s poor. They do tremendous work, both in advocacy and aid. So why are they supporting wealthy, over-subsidized US corporations when choosing gifts? Granted, the mug was also manufactured in the US, so at least it might have a smaller carbon footprint than a ceramic mug from China. It’s a small thing, and I don’t want to detract from the exceptional work Oxfam is doing, but I think it’s important to notice the choices we make, as individuals and as organizations. What are you doing to adapt?

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