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Episode 26 — Poet and Ecologist Lilace Mellin Guignard, the Great Green Wall, and BlackLivesMatter

We introduce our longer, fuller format and bring you an insightful and moving interview with Lilace Mellin Guignard. As a poet, an ecologist, and a parent, Lilace has been asking big questions about forgiveness, art, and raising children in a time of climate change. We also cover a story from China about the amazing Green Great Wall, a stunning achievement that already is helping at address climate change. Considering the relentless efforts of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement, Timothy Meadows reports from the year 2165 about the success of that movement and the positive effects it has on disaster relief. Climate Stew is always available on  iTunes,  StitcherSoundCloud, or Listen here  on our site.

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Links

Music

  • Over and Over from Five Song Demo by Mark Chadwick
  • Live Action News by Sean Pope
  • Domeneko The Last Show
  • Radj Chill Main Method
  • Chris W. Gray Forever Sky from Without Your Star on Low Sun netlable
  • Dream On on Lush Life by Poldoore
Lilace Mellin Guignard and children

Lilace Mellin Guignard and children

Transcript

Opening

Hello and welcome. I am so glad you can join me for another episode of Climate Stew. Last episode I shared three easy steps for talking about climate change—well nothing is ever simple. But the important ingredient I mentioned was the need to come to the climate conversation as one’s self—speak out of your own experience and make connections in your own life.  Our guest this week is an expert at doing just that. We will hear from Lilace Mellin Guignard—a poet who teaches gender studies and ecology at Mansfield University, she is a renaissance woman and a master of interdisciplinary education. She shares some of her own journey and her poetry with us. Also connecting the dots, Timothy Meadows, reporting from the year 2165 reveals, how a reaction to 911 affected subsequent disaster relief during the 21st Century. But first, out of China comes news of an astounding feat.

News

gingko-trees-near-shanghai

Our one climate news story this episode is about a BIG project, I mean a huge, massive project. One that already helps to address climate change. But like all big projects, this one is complicated.

For years the Gobi Desert in Northern China, has been spreading, gobbling up once futile land and spreading dust, lots of dust.   In addition to the annual dust storms that kick up 2000 square kilometers or 800 square miles of topsoil, China has lost 3,600 square kilometers or 1,400 square miles of grassland to the desert.

(Photo : Reuters) After decades of growth and patience, a massive swath of trees planted across bone-dry northern China nearly 40 years ago is finally starting to reverse the desertification of the region.

(Photo : Reuters) After decades of growth and patience, a massive swath of trees planted across bone-dry northern China nearly 40 years ago is finally starting to reverse the desertification of the region.

In an effort to stop the the expansion of the Gobi desert, way back in 1978 the Chinese government launched the Three-North Shelter Forest Program, the world’s largest ecological engineering project with the aim to plant trees in wind breaking forest strips in order to to stop the desert. Their ultimate goal is construct a wall of forest that will be 4,500 kilometers or 2,800 miles long by the year 2050. To put that into perspective that’s about the distance between New York City and Los Angeles. That’s a lot of trees!  By dropping seeds from the sky in some places and employing local farmers in others, the Chinese government has already planted 13 million hectares or 32 million acres of trees which is about 500 square miles.

The Green Great Wall of China is already credited for making a difference when it comes to climate change both in absorbing carbon dioxide and in slowing the spread of the desert. Yi Liu of Australia’s University of New South Wales says that the carbon storage in Chinese forests increased by almost a billion tons between 2003 and 2012. and “Dr Minghong Tan from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, says the measures are working. “Vegetation has improved and dust storms have decreased significantly in the Great Green Wall region, compared with other areas,”

But some have criticized the scheme in large part because the vast majority of trees planted so far are not native to the area. Large stretches of forest are planted with a single type of tree, either rubber trees or non-native fruit trees, vast monocultures that environmentalists like Jon R. Luoma point out, require large amounts of water, and are prone to disease and pests. Also, birds and other animals are not drawn to monocultures. The forests may help process carbon while no doubt providing food and other products for Chinese citizens and slowing the expansion of the Gobi desert, but they do not encourage biodiversity. Some have warned that this may actually hinder the growth and health of the forest.

The Great Green Wall is due to be completed in 2050, and is expected to contain more than 100 billion trees in band covering more than one-tenth of China.

The Great Green Wall is due to be completed in 2050, and is expected to contain more than 100 billion trees in band covering more than one-tenth of China.

While some have criticized the largest manmade forest in the world for attempting to “control nature instead of following it,” the Chinese government is seeing some benefits from their huge on-going investment, particularly in stopping the spread of the desert.

And there is talk about another desert-stopping Forest Wall, this one on the African continent.  No doubt you will hear more soon about The Great Green Wall of the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative. As we experience the effects of climate change—most notably sea level rise in some places and extreme drought in others, we will likely see more and more walls go up.

Main

Intro: Hi, this is Marvin, Marvin Bloom for Climate Stew. Peterson’s guest today is Lilace Mellin Guignard. He spoke with her last month when He visited Mansfield University in Pennsylvania. Lilace is the Director of Education and Outreach for the Institute of Science and the Environment. She is also the Director of Environmental Studies, and an instructor of Outdoor Recreation Leadership in the Geosciences Department. She also teaches gender studies and is a poet. Okay she sounds amazing. But enough introduction, let’s get to the interview:

Interview with Lilace

Lilace and family

Lilace and family

That Day in Climate History

I am Timothy Meadows. It is Saturday May 18th  2165 and time for That Day in Climate History.

On Bourbon Street in New Orleans' famous French Quarter, paratroopers from Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, patrol nearly deserted streets. nesaranews.blogspot.com

On Bourbon Street in New Orleans’ famous French Quarter, paratroopers from Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, patrol nearly deserted streets.
nesaranews.blogspot.com

Nearly 164 years ago on September 11th, 2001 a group of terrorists attacked the United States. In reaction the US government ramped up its anti-terrorism efforts and started a series of protracted and mostly fruitless foreign wars that did little in the end to bring any lasting peace or stability.

Domestically the US also created a department they called Homeland Security. In addition to protecting the US borders from those who would choose to harm citizens, Homeland Security oversaw FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. With a new emphasis on national security, the role of FEMA expanded and militarized and included protecting property as well as people with disastrous consequences. This was most sharply felt in New Orleans in 2005 in the aftermath of a hurricane called Katrina.

Image Source: Black Lives Matter

Image Source: Black Lives Matter

The federal government responded with military force. As a result, those who did not have a chance to evacuate or chose to stay behind, mostly poor, working class, and Black citizens, experienced human rights abuses at the hands of their own government. What started out as a natural disaster became a man-made catastrophe. The existing prejudices and injustices only magnified with the mega storm.

Nearly 10 years later after a string of incidents in which police officers, mostly white, killed Black citizens during arrest or in custody, the Black Lives Matter movement formed demanding robust changes to policing practice including body cameras for all officers and independent prosecutors to investigate when a law enforcer is implicated in a crime. The relentless efforts of these protesters helped bring about lasting reforms to the criminal justice system including more humane sentencing laws, greater oversight of police forces, and integrated community involvement in decision. These reforms made the country safer for people of color including transgender and queer people who had been unfairly treated by police.

Because of the foundation of justice and fairness laid by the Black Lives Matter Movement, later, in the 2030s, during a string of extreme weather events that rocked the USA, measures were already in place that protected citizens during a time of disaster. While there were storms as big and bigger than Katrina, and still isolated incidents of police brutality and injustice, a systemic change had been made that forever bettered policing practices in the USA. On this day in 2165 we remember That Day in Climate History

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Climate History is brought to you by the Canadian Board of Retreat and Relocation, providing short-term and long-term housing in the beautiful Northern Territories.

Closing

Your host, Peterson Toscano

Your host, Peterson Toscano

Thank you for spending time with us here at Climate Stew. You can find lots of links over at our website Climate Stew dot Com. Learn more about Lilace and her work and find out more about the Green Great Wall of China. Also read more about environmental justice. Special thanks to Lilace Mellin Guignard, Brentin Mock, and Marin Toscano, oh and Joe G.

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Peterson Toscano

Author: Peterson Toscano

Peterson Toscano is a quirky queer Quaker concerned about Climate Change. His website is www.petersontoscano.com

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