Engaging Methuen Readers

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Climate change: we CAN stop it!

The scientific community agrees that climate change is caused by humans pumping smoke into the air at a breakneck rate, which we’ve been doing since the 1800s. Common sense tends to agree: you can’t dump that much stuff into water or soil without messing it up, so why should the air be any different?

But human beings have trouble dealing with three types of things: things that
are too big to comprehend, things that are invisible, and things that make us feel guilty. Oh, and mortality – that’s a biggie, too. Climate change fits all of those to a T. It’s the perfect storm of stuff we all have a hard time talking about.

That’s why Nevins Library is inviting Jeremy Shakun, an assistant professor at Boston College and climate researcher, to talk us through climate change and what average people can do about it. The talk will take place at our library on July 12 at 7:00pm. This program is free of charge, so please invite as many interested friends and family as you’d like. Jeremy will be answering questions at the end of his talk.

Meanwhile, please write down your questions and feel free to use the library for research. Try the books we recommend below to start. This is a huge, hard issue, but there ARE things we can do to save it, our planet…and ourselves.


Image of itemSix Degrees: our future on a hotter planet by Mark Lynas

The IPCC predicts that burning carbon fuels could raise the planet’s temperature by up to 10 degrees. At one degree, the glaciers will melt and the coral reefs will die. At three, the rain forests and arctic poles will collapse and the American Midwest will become a desert. At six, little of the natural world will be able to support life as we know it. This important book makes a compelling case for ending the practice of burning fossil fuels for power as quickly as possible.


Image of itemThis Changes Everything: capitalism vs. the climate by Naomi Klein

There is one way to stop global warming: make it more profitable to be green. Because if there’s one thing a free market has taught us, there are no problems but economic problems, and likewise no solutions except economic ones.



Image of itemHot, Flat and Crowded: why we need a green revolution — and how it can renew America by Thomas L. Friedman

Going green doesn’t have to be an onerous economic chore. In fact, it probably won’t be: greening America can create jobs and head off the worst ecological disaster in history. And, it could add another point to America’s world-saving resume.



Image of itemThe Sixth Extinction: an unnatural history by Elizabeth Kolbert

Welcome to the Anthropocene: the age of humans. Many animals won’t get out of it alive unless we dramatically change our ways…including, possibly, the one that walks on two legs.



Image of itemMerchants of Doubt: how a handful of scientists obscured the truth on issues from tobacco to global warming by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway

There’s a lot of controversy about climate change in the media – I imagine that there may be some controversy over this very post – but there’s evidence to suggest that some of that divisive opinion may be artificially manufactured.Who doesn’t love a good conspiracy theory when the fate of the world is at stake?



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Save the Earth…With Your Brain!

Climate change is an enormous issue, so large that it’s overwhelming. What can the average person possibly do to change the status quo? Believe it or not, there are lots of little ways that ordinary people like you and I can affect the environment in a positive way.

Step one is to get educated. There are lots of ways to remove soot from the air, just like there are lots of ways to stop sticking it up there through passive support of a psychopathic suicide system. Because the one thing human beings are better at than fire is innovation and problem-solving creativity! Here are some easy-peasy starter points:

1. Think before you buy


If you already feel mildly guilty about driving your gas-powered car to work, you’ll hate how much fuel Amazon uses to ship cheap circuitboards and sippy cups. Luckily, the solution is easy: resourceful reuse! These lessons start right at home. Parents with small children may already be aware of some good play solutions from the famous Earth-Friendly Toys by George Pfiffner. (Incidentally, this is also a great resource if you’re trying to get the kids away from their computer and device screens.) Pfiffner has written several other books in the same vein, as has Rhonda Redleaf in Learn and Play the Green Way. Adults who enjoy shopping more than dolls might find that thrifting is a more enviro-friendly option than ordering new-made items. Al Hoff teaches you all his secrets in Thrift Score, and Sandra Donovan teaches you all of hers in her classic how-to Thrift Shopping. If birthdays and holidays in all their disposable glory have got you down, try Mollie’s tips for making decorations for events of all kinds. For the home decor aficionados, try Upcycle by Rebecca Proctor. Of course, the library has dozens of books on upcycling everything from clothing and decor to art and gardening. And remember: just by using the library, you’re reducing your carbon footprint! One less book bought is one less tree cut, rendered, printed, bound, and shipped using fossil fuels.

2. Use refillable water bottles


Remember, recycling plastic is a process that, in itself, requires tons of carbon fuel. Anyway, why spend a $120 a year on bottled water (assuming you drink one a day and buy the 24-packs) when you can spend $10 on a lasting water bottle once? Lowering your plastic usage is as good for your wallet as for the environment. To start, try Plastic Free by Beth Terry. (She also discusses the social aspects of home environmentalism, and letting go of eco-guilt.) Plastic Purge by Michael SanClements discusses health implications of plastic use, but is also chock-full of great advice on lowering your plastic usage. Of course, if you happen to find yourself with a pile of old bottles around, you could also just make jewelry out of them.

3. Grow things!


Trees, grass, and even algae are natural air purifiers, and part of their job as part of the ecosystem is to clean carbon out of the atmosphere. That’s why planting extra green things, including home gardens, can be great for the planet as well as for your table. Plus, industrial-scale farming involves tractors, fertilizer trucks, and mass quantities of things that need to be transported to the grocery store in gas-powered vehicles. Growing stuff in your backyard eliminates the need for a lot of that heavy-duty gas-guzzling machinery. Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening is a great place to start, and Food Grown Right, in Your Backyard by Colin McCrate and Brad Halm, is a good follow-up. If you happen to live in an apartment, you’ve still got options: try The Container Kitchen Garden by Anthony Atha and The Downsized Veggie Garden by Kate Copsey. Not only will the planet thank you, but you’ll get mad props from your friends when you start distributing fresh zucchini by the handful.

There’s one more thing you and your garden could do for the planet: eat less meat. Not no meat, nor even much less meat, but maybe just a couple meatless meals a week. You’d be amazed at the difference it could make. Rely more on plant protein, whether it’s home-grown or store-bought, and you could help reduce climate change mitigation costs by as much as 50%. For vegetarian recipes, try the work of Mollie Katzen, who founded the Moosewood Restaurant, and Crescent Dragonwagon, who just has the best name. The library has literally dozens of vegetarian cookbooks, so stop by and start changing the world today!


Also Read:

1130546Global Warming and Climate Change Demystified

by Jerry Silver


1609628While Glaciers S
lept: being human in a time of climate change

by M. Jackson



1104297Green Remodeling: your start toward an eco-friendly home 

by John D. Wagner


Also Watch:


Earth: the sequel

from the Discovery Channel


1445369Chasing Ice

directed by Jeff Orlowski


1645558Bill Nye’s Global Meltdown

from National Geographic