Wangari Maathai, GUTSY WOMAN on Climate Change

Updated: Jan 30

Concerning Climate Change

(by Rosemary Roenfanz)


During this second week of November, 2021, leaders from around the world are still in Glasgow, Scotland for the Climate Change Summit (COP26). Most of them are trying to make pledges for their countries to cut down on fossil fuels (coal usage), to end deforestation, and cut methane emissions. So I’ve been thinking, what are you and I doing to help our planet’s health? What are you and I doing personally as human beings to lessen our carbon footprint? Here’s a quick list of some easy ideas (in case you’re not already doing these) for you:


1.) Take your (recycled) bags with you to the grocery store. (I admit to forgetting once in a while, but happy that Trader Joe’s is finally letting us bring our own again.)


2.) Most everyone is recycling their plastics, I hope you continue to do so.


3.) Cut down on food waste, and eat less meat and dairy. This may not be popular at your house, but TRY IT. Fourteen percent of the world’s greenhouse gases are from livestock, particularly cattle and lamb. Do you realize I grew up on a cattle farm in North Iowa? We ate beef nearly every day of the week! I gave up that habit nearly 30 years ago, though I still eat fish and some fowl along with lots of vegetables. Doing this not only makes for a healthier planet, but makes for healthier humans! Did you know? A portion of the highest-impact vegetable proteins emits less than the lowest-impact animal proteins? Think about that!


4.) Drive less, fly less. We all learned that we could survive during COVID’S shutdown, and many of us have not gone back to a pre-COVID travel pace. Do you car-pool whenever possible? Do you SKYPE instead of jumping on a plane for a meeting? Are you, or can you, arrange to work from home?


5.) Did you know it takes 3,781 litres of water to make one pair of jeans (when you take into account cotton production, manufacturing, distribution and washing)? Think before you Buy. Purchase Less. We all need to take a giant step back from our consumerism. (And yes, I’m talking about Amazon.)


6.) How well is your home insulated? Do you shut off the lights when you leave the room? Do you turn on the ceiling fan or floor fan only when in the room? Do you have insulation tinting on your windows (to keep out summer’s heat)? Or do you put plastic over your windows to keep out winter’s cold? Do you cover-up leaking drafts? These are all common sense things to take care of when you care about your comfort and the health of our planet.


Many of you are already using these suggestions daily. If not, please ask yourself WHY NOT? We must act NOW, today, to save our beautiful Mother Earth.


Information and statistics from BBC News.


Gutsy Woman: Wangari Maathai (1940-2011)



“We all need to work hard to make a difference in our neighborhoods, regions, and countries, and in the world as a whole. That means making sure we work hard, collaborate with each other, and make ourselves better agents to change.” From Wangarai Maathai’s 2010 book “Replenishing the Earth: Spiritual Values for Healing Ourselves and the World.”


I want you-all to meet Wangari Muta Maathai, an environmental and political activist from Kenya. She was born in the Nyeri District of Kenya in its central highlands. Her family were of the Kikuyu tribe which is the largest ethnic group in Kenya.


Wangari was the first woman from Africa to win the Nobel Peace Prize (2004) and the Indira Gandhi Peace Prize (2006). As a student beneficiary of the Kennedy Airlift (Airlift Africa) she earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees here in the United States. Returning home to Kenya in 1966, Wangari was appointed research assistant at the University of Nairobi. When she discovered her position had been given to someone else (Wangari felt this was due to gender and tribal bias), her job search led her to the micro-anatomy section of Nairobi’s new Veterinary Medicine School. From there she traveled to the University of Giessen and the University of Munich to study for her doctorate. In 1972, Wangari was the first East African woman to receive her PhD. in Veterinary anatomy. By this time she had married and would give birth to three children.


Wangari was the first woman in Nairobi to be appointed senior lecturer in anatomy in 1975, chair of the Department of Veterinary Anatomy in 1976 and associate professor in 1977. At the same time, she was campaigning for women’s equal rights at the University, becoming involved in Kenya’s Red Cross, and a member of Kenya Association of University Women. Through all her volunteer work, Wangari soon realized that the root of Kenya’s problems began with environmental degradation. She began connecting her environmental concerns with unemployment concerns, hiring people to help plant her first tree nursery in Karura Forest. In 1977, after speaking at the National Council of Women of Kenya (NCWK), Wangari and the council planted seven trees. This became known as the Green Belt Movement, of which she is most famous, and led to many more trees being planted.


Wangari became known internationally for her struggle for democracy, poverty reduction, human rights, and environmental issues. In 2009, the United Nations’ Secretary General named her UN Messenger of Peace(2009-2011). She authored four books, was given fifteen honorary degrees, and received international awards over 50 times! Wangari was given 1983s Woman of the Year Award, Woman of the World Award in 1989, and a World Citizenship Award in 2007 just to name a couple.


This amazing, brilliant, dedicated, gorgeous woman was divorced in 1979 because her husband felt she was “too strong-minded for a woman” and that he was “unable to control her”. I wish I could have known her–we would have been great friends. May the world be given many more Wangari Maathais. Please!


BOOK RECOMMENDATION:

All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis


There is a renaissance blooming in the climate movement: leadership that is more characteristically feminine and more faithfully feminist, rooted in compassion, connection, creativity, and collaboration. While it’s clear that women and girls are vital voices and agents of change for this planet, they are too often missing from the proverbial table. More than a problem of bias, it’s a dynamic that sets us up for failure. To change everything, we need everyone. All We Can Save illuminates the expertise and insights of dozens of diverse women leading on climate in the United States—scientists, journalists, farmers, lawyers, teachers, activists, innovators, wonks, and designers, across generations, geographies, and race—and aims to advance a more representative, nuanced, and solution-oriented public conversation on the climate crisis. These women offer a spectrum of ideas and insights for how we can rapidly, radically reshape society. Intermixing essays with poetry and art, this book is both a balm and a guide for knowing and holding what has been done to the world, while bolstering our resolve never to give up on one another or our collective future. We must summon truth, courage, and solutions to turn away from the brink and toward life-giving possibility. Curated by two climate leaders, the book is a collection and celebration of visionaries who are leading us on a path toward all we can save.


There is a renaissance blooming in the climate movement: leadership that is more characteristically feminine and more faithfully feminist, rooted in compassion, connection, creativity, and collaboration. While it’s clear that women and girls are vital voices and agents of change for this planet, they are too often missing from the proverbial table. More than a problem of bias, it’s a dynamic that sets us up for failure. To change everything, we need everyone. All We Can Save illuminates the expertise and insights of dozens of diverse women leading on climate in the United States—scientists, journalists, farmers, lawyers, teachers, activists, innovators, wonks, and designers, across generations, geographies, and race—and aims to advance a more representative, nuanced, and solution-oriented public conversation on the climate crisis. These women offer a spectrum of ideas and insights for how we can rapidly, radically reshape society. Intermixing essays with poetry and art, this book is both a balm and a guide for knowing and holding what has been done to the world, while bolstering our resolve never to give up on one another or our collective future. We must summon truth, courage, and solutions to turn away from the brink and toward life-giving possibility. Curated by two climate leaders, the book is a collection and celebration of visionaries who are leading us on a path toward all we can save. With essays and poems by:

Emily Atkin • Xiye Bastida • Ellen Bass • Colette Pichon Battle • Jainey K. Bavishi • Janine Benyus • adrienne maree brown • Régine Clément • Abigail Dillen • Camille T. Dungy • Rhiana Gunn-Wright • Joy Harjo • Katharine Hayhoe • Mary Annaïse Heglar • Jane Hirshfield • Mary Anne Hitt • Ailish Hopper • Tara Houska, Zhaabowekwe • Emily N. Johnston • Joan Naviyuk Kane • Naomi Klein • Kate Knuth • Ada Limón • Louise Maher-Johnson • Kate Marvel • Gina McCarthy • Anne Haven McDonnell • Sarah Miller • Sherri Mitchell, Weh’na Ha’mu Kwasset • Susanne C. Moser • Lynna Odel • Sharon Olds • Mary Oliver • Kate Orff • Jacqui Patterson • Leah Penniman • Catherine Pierce • Marge Piercy • Kendra Pierre-Louis • Varshini • Prakash • Janisse Ray • Christine E. Nieves Rodriguez • Favianna Rodriguez • Cameron Russell • Ash Sanders • Judith D. Schwartz • Patricia Smith • Emily Stengel • Sarah Stillman • Leah Cardamore Stokes • Amanda Sturgeon • Maggie Thomas • Heather McTeer Toney • Alexandria Villaseñor • Alice Walker • Amy Westervelt • Jane Zelikova

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