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Warm winters; Why we need the EPA; the latest environmental news
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Hi friends,

This email marks the beginning of a little experiment. I'll start by saying I don't know where I'm going with it. I'm simply committing to getting off the sidelines and stepping into the arena

I've been feeling like a fraud as I go about my busy life while claiming to be an advocate for sustainability. Stepping into the arena means getting engaged and trying to figure out how I can help the cause. I'm sharing this journey because if I'm feeling this way, others must be feeling it too.  

I'm calling this thing The Commons, which is an ode to biologist Garret Hardin's 1968 essay titled The Tragedy of the Commons. Hardin's concept beautifully captures the utter complexity of the environmental struggle.  

If you're into this sort of thing, please help by signing up and sharing.
 
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THE COMMONS

 FEBRUARY 27, 2017 
 

Headliners

The earth set a temperature record for the 3rd straight year

Scott Pruitt began his new gig as EPA administrator. His released emails paint an ugly picture of "just how at war Pruitt was with the EPA and how cozy he was with the industries (oil and gas) he is now charged with policing". 

Two bills introduced in the House propose to severely modify the EPA. One bill, proposed by Matt Gaetz of Florida, would end the agency altogether.

A group of Republicans calling themselves the Climate Leadership Council announced that now is the perfect time to enact a carbon tax. 

The solar and wind industries are rocking it and adding new jobs left and right. Ironically, this revolution is happening in Donald-Trump-voting, small town America

Should I be enjoying this weather?

I'm the guy who spent the last week trying to figure out if I was allowed to enjoy these unseasonably warm temperatures. I mean 75 and sunny, for like an entire week, in February? This must be wrong...but it feels so right! 

Turns out, Jay-Z feels the same way: 
 
Thanks to @bre_lliant for this gem. 
In all seriousness, yes, a vanishing winter is super fucked up and yes, it's okay to enjoy great weather. Preventing yourself from enjoying the present moment doesn't make climate change go away. Being sad is not a solution. 

An article on the Atlantic digs into this moral dilemma a little more and I explore the highlights on my blog.  
Read more on jamesdice.com

Do we need the EPA?

The George Washington Bridge in heavy smog. View toward the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. May, 1973.
All this talk about Scott Pruitt being Satan and abolishing the EPA had me asking one simple question: What was life like before EPA? 

I grew up seeing images of the smog-filled streets of China, but I didn't realize there was a time when our cities once looked like that too. The above picture was taken in New York City in May 1973. If you google your city you'll find similar images. We also poured pollution into our drinking water and built neighborhoods atop toxic waste.

Although the environmental movement and state regulations had already begun as a response to these problems, the 1970 creation of the EPA was and still is monumental in enacting solutions across state lines. Like when Midwestern power plants were causing acid rain in New England forests. Or when the 31 states that feed the Mississippi River can't quite agree on how we should treat it. 
Read More on Scientific American

Quote of the week: 


To sin by silence, when we should protest makes cowards out of men.

- Ella Wheeler Wilcox, via brainpickings.org

Weekly Action

I'm committing to come up with one potent action I can take per email. What's the point of engagement without action? 

This week, my action is to share this with 10 friends and get their feedback on what this movement needs. Care to join?
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