Put your money where your earth is.

shutterstock_64649290-Converted.jpgIf you are fortunate enough to have money to invest in mutual or index funds, including IRAs, you may unwittingly be providing financial support for a host of institutions whose carbon-intensive business models contribute greatly to climate change.  One way to pressure those companies to move towards paradigms that take less of a toll on the environment is to avoid funds that hold those stocks in their portfolio and/or to shift at least some of your investing into “green” instruments.  Green Century, Earthfolio and a host of other “green funds” now offer a way to grow your money with a clearer conscience and several have performed on par with the very hot market over the past 18 months.  Of course, do your due diligence in understanding the fund’s performance, fees and loads.  As a guy who’s pretty tight with a buck (my family is chortling in the background!), I’m making incremental moves in this direction rather than a wholesale shift in strategy.

Aspiration Teams with Sierra Club to offer a Green Investing Alternative

Here’s a really interesting new company that offers two green funds…with a charitable element…and even lets YOU decide what fee they should receive!  I parked a couple of bucks with them…so far so good…I encourage you to check it out.


July was hot…and August hotter.

NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies announced that July, 2017 was tied with July, 2016 for the hottest on record.  Further, an article in Scientific American puts the odds of 2017 finishing up as one of the hottest three years in recorded history as greater than 57%.  Those calculations preceded an insanely hot August, so it would seem pretty certain that we’re in record-setting mode for the fourth consecutive year.  The law of averages would strain mightily to explain that…



One small thing you can do today…

Put at least a token amount of money into a green investment fund.  The more investors these funds attract, and money they control, the more attention they will get from the financial press.  Corporations with carbon intensive business models will take note…as investment inflows they might previously have captured go elsewhere.



Climate Caucus Reaches 50-Member Milestone

The bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus in the House of Representatives added two new members recently, one from each side of the aisle, bringing to 50 the total number of legislators committed to addressing climate change.  Amidst all the disagreement currently roiling Washington, climate change is proving to be the rare subject on which cross-aisle agreement can be forged.  Watch this video of a recent Republican addition to the group, Florida congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen for reassurance that progress can and is being made.

An Inconvenient Sequel in Theaters Aug. 4

The follow-up to “An Inconvenient Truth” opens in limited release this week, rolling out next week to theaters everywhere.  I’ve heard both positive and negative things from folks who saw advance screenings.  But everyone agreed that it is informative and inspirational.

One thing you can do today to combat global warming.

The home solar marketplace is a bit bewildering…and there’s a decidedly used-car schmooze to a lot of the purveyors out there.  But if you get past the slick stuff you’ll find you can legitimately put panels on your home for nothing down if you’re willing to let the vendor collect the state rebate.  Savvy financial advisors will tell you to bite the bullet and pay the roughly $30,000 out-of-pocket if you can afford to…a much better deal in the long run.  But the point is you don’t need to be rich to go solar.  Here’s an informative web resource provided by the state of California.



Can Climate Change Be a Ray of Bi-Partisan Sunlight?

cropped-sunshine-1Forty Eight Congresspeople Seem to Think So…

Climate change is proving to be a rare subject on which Republicans and Democrats are able to  join forces.  The Climate Solutions Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives now numbers 48 congressmen and women…24 from each side of the aisle.  The first Republican to sign on was the representative from the district in Southern Florida that includes Miami, the Everglades and Key West, where rising seas are posing very real problems already.  Still, it takes courage for any Republican to step out on an issue widely perceived as Kryptonite by many in their party.  A bit of information on the caucus here:


An odd couple maybe…but recommended reading for sure.

Former Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope and entrepreneur and former NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg collaborated on a fascinating book proposing a wide range of market driven measures to address the climate crisis.  ClimateofHope_HI-RES_3quarterbook-1I’ve read it and can assure you it is layperson friendly, requiring no special knowledge or background.   And for my money its non-dogmatic, business-oriented approach to the problem can make it much more palatable to folks who prefer practical proposals that won’t harm the economy over heartrending appeals — however well intended — on behalf of the Black-footed Ferret.


One easy thing you can do today to combat global warming.

Recycle.  It’s that simple.  Every time you recycle something instead of chuck it in the trash, you lighten your own carbon footprint just a tidge.  We’re looking for quick wins here…and this one is insanely easy.

And please share this with anyone you know who might be interested.








I’m back with my hat in hand…again.

hat_l_tnbI never thought I’d be this dialed in to legislative stuff.  But I never thought we’d be facing a climate crisis of this magnitude.  There’s a bill called AB 398 that will likely be voted on by the California state assembly TOMORROW that purports to help lower C02.  And I’ve no doubt that it is backed by the very good intentions of both our governor and very many legislators.

But here’s the thing.  In light of the environmentally dreadful posture that has contorted Washington, our best hope of climate leadership in this country is right here in California.  And AB 398 simply doesn’t go far enough.

A competing bill, SB 775 DOES provide the dynamic step forward that we need.  It’s not up for vote yet, but it’ll get there if we put the kibosh on AB 398.

Three minutes can make a difference.

I’ve always promised to keep it simple and quick here in Forest for the Trees.  So I won’t belabor all the reasons why I’m asking you to take three minutes to urge your representative to vote NO on AB 398 (though many of them can be found at this link if you are interested) so we can pursue SB 775 instead.

But I am earnestly asking you to drop a quick note TODAY to your reps by following THIS LINK.  Input your address and it’ll tell you who your assembly member and state senator are (if you ALREADY know, then you are a serious political wonk and I am in awe of you).  Click through to your reps’ pages and they’ll have easy “Contact” forms that will allow you to register your displeasure with AB 398 in favor of SB 775.

As always, I’ve tried to do the homework here so you don’t have to.  But for you gluttons for punishment, this link offers a much more detailed analysis of the matter (look to the “News” column at the right of the page).

Thanks for acting…it means the world to me.


Deadline: July 7. PLEASE join this letter-writing campaign TODAY to protect our national monuments. — Forest for the Trees

President Trump signed an executive order putting 27 national monuments (places like the Giant Sequoia groves for example) up for review for possible size reduction. Many fear this is all about fossil fuel companies jockeying for access to these lands. They may be right. But regardless of the underlying motive, I’m one who believes we […]

via Deadline: July 7. PLEASE join this letter-writing campaign TODAY to protect our national monuments. — Forest for the Trees

The good news: It’ll take a trillion tons of C02 to REALLY ruin our atmosphere.


The bad news: We’re well past halfway there.

Once C02 is emitted into the atmosphere it takes thousands of years to dissipate.  So all the green house gasses released since the beginning of the industrial revolution are (kind of like my mother in law) still hanging around.  Climate scientists estimate a trillion tons of C02 to be a tipping point after which an increase in temperature of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) will be at best a 50/50 proposition.  As this easy-to-understand article explains, we’re about halfway there and must act now to avert disaster.


Seven slides from Nat Geo that sum up the climate challenge in seconds


One easy thing you can do today to combat global warming.

Start running washing machines, dishwashers and other power-thirsty appliances during non-peak hours (depending on your utility company, usually after 8 or 9 pm).  For reasons with which I will not bore you here (I promised brevity and I shall deliver it), you not only save money but actually use less electricity.

Deadline: July 7. PLEASE join this letter-writing campaign TODAY to protect our national monuments.

McNally Fire Threatens Giant Sequoia Trees590d2ef41700001f005a51aa

President Trump signed an executive order putting 27 national monuments (places like the Giant Sequoia groves for example) up for review for possible size reduction.  Many fear this is all about fossil fuel companies jockeying for access to these lands.  They may be right.  But regardless of the underlying motive, I’m one who believes we should be preserving more — not less — of our natural treasures for the common good.

The period for public comment ends on July 7 so it is imperative that millions speak up in defense of our nation’s history of wisely protecting these irreplaceable, precious lands.  I implore you to take five minutes, CLICK THIS LINK and speak out.

After you’ve made your voice heard, PLEASE spread the word to anyone and everyone you can think of asking them to do the same.  Don’t sit on the sidelines…this is not a test.

Here’s a list of all the monuments being threatened.  




Climate change: What did they know and when did they know it?

I was shocked to learn how long ago the earliest alerts about warming occurred.

Climate change due to green house gasses and human activity was first identified in the waning years of nineteenth century.  arrheniusAround 1896 a Swedish physicist named Svante Arrhenius (somewhere a rapper is very jealous about that name!) first theorized that a doubling of C02 in the atmosphere would likely increase earth’s temperature by 5-6 degrees Celsius.  During the 1970’s, scientists working — ironically — for Exon did exhaustive research that corroborated Arrhenius’ prediction.  Take a moment to read about it here.  Then let’s get busy and fix it.


One thing you can do today to make a tangible contribution.

Unless you’re already a vegetarian, there’s an easy win to be had by eating a little (or a lot) less red meat.  Turns out that like dads (according to my daughter), cows fart and belch remarkable amounts of methane.  Seriously.  It’s a big contributing factor to atmospheric warming.  But as it dissipates 25 times faster than C02, significant improvement can be realized much more quickly.

Finding political common ground

Ten minutes.  That’s all it takes here at “Forest for the Trees” to remain engaged about — and begin to contribute to — addressing global warming.

What is the Citizens’ Climate Lobby?

One resource you may want to poke around in if/when you have a bit more time…

Okay, this site is a very dense, but it’s extremely comprehensive.  The thermometer on the left side of the homepage lists scores of common climate denial myths.  Click on one — I guarantee you will learn something valuable.   You may even want to bookmark the site as a resource because virtually every question you will ever have about climate change is answered in great detail somewhere on it.  Plus, you can toggle between a beginner (er, that would be me), intermediate and advanced explanations of many of the topics.


One really easy thing you can do today to make a tangible contribution…

This may seem silly…or irrelevant, but we’re looking for quick wins easily accomplished.  So pick a room in your house, particularly one in which the lights are often on (like the kitchen or a heavily trafficked family room).  Take stock of all the light bulbs in that room.  Next time you shop, buy LED bulbs to replace every one.   Next week, do the same in a second room and continue until your entire house is illuminated by LED.  LED bulb last longer and use up to 80% less electricity than incandescent bulbs.

Forest for the trees.

Over the past year or so, I have grown increasingly concerned about global warming and the environment.  A passing interest evolved into a powerful premonition that my failure to fully engage now might one day be looked back upon by my children with disdain.

I started by reading voraciously.  Everything, including the doubters. Plus, I had the good fortune of meeting a couple of really smart science types — Cal Tech & JPL folks — with whom to consult.  The reality, gravity and finally path to mitigation became clear.

While the world may not be crying out for another shrill blog about climate, a different motive informs this one.  As I explored the topic, I found my email and social feeds EXPLODING with a dizzying array of frantic solicitations for funds, activism, petitions, marches and so on.  Each of the countless well-intended groups had a slightly different mission and I struggled to keep them all straight.  Plus, the news cycle overwhelmed me with additional information, often too complicated to fully understand without spending significant time “studying” it.  Even in semi retirement with more time than most to sort through it all, I got to where I couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

That’s when I decided to try to provide a FAST, weekly summary of the most important news, resources and suggestions related to combating global warming.  In short, I’ll spend my time curating a path to climate understanding and engagement for those of you who are concerned, but may be too busy to wade into the complexities of this profoundly important challenge.  Not intended for experts, the material here will comprise a color-by-number primer for those worried about climate change, but who are at a loss for time, scientific foundation or a concrete sense of how to engage.  I encourage you to forward this to anyone who fits that description.

In furtherance of that mission, this will be the longest post you ever see on this blog.

Take ten minutes today to save the planet for tomorrow.