Thursday, February 11, 2016

Creating the political will for effective climate action


"Politicians don't create political will. They respond to it." – Mark Reynolds, Executive Director of Citizens' Climate Lobby.

Are you alarmed about climate change but you are unsure what to do? At some point, you must decide to become part of the solution. You must rise up and take action. The famous quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi famously says, 'You must be the change you seek in the world.'

Wow! That is a very broad statement. But, how are we to be the change? What must we do?

For me, the road map for action with a very complex problem like climate change comes from this quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr:

Martin Luther King, Jr.
Image Source: biography.com
“Through education we seek to change attitudes; through legislation and court orders we seek to regulate behavior. Through education we seek to change internal feelings; through legislation and court orders we seek to control the external effects of those feelings. Through education we seek to break down the spiritual barriers to integration; through legislation and court orders we seek to break down the physical barriers to integration. One method is not a substitute for the other, but a meaningful and necessary supplement. Anyone who starts out with the conviction that the road to racial justice is only one lane wide will inevitably create a traffic jam and make the journey longer.”

The clear message in this quote is that change on any complex societal issue happens with both education and legislation. 

For many years now, I have devoted my energy to educating others to take action on climate change as a park ranger, teacher, public speaker, Toastmaster, co-founder of the St. Louis Climate Reality Meet Up, and Climate Reality Project Leader. On my Climate Reality Project Leader page, I have documented presenting nearly 80 climate change talks and spoke to over 3,000 people since I was trained in San Francisco in 2012. Since 2011, I have been writing this blog and contributing over 200 posts to the website Climatebites.org. You can easily say that I love speaking and writing about climate change.

However, I know this is not enough. As my friend, Larry Lazar, fellow Climate Reality Project Leader and co-founder with me of Climate Reality-St. Louis Meet Up group, once advised me, "We can facebook and blog all we want, but we stand no chance to solve (climate change) unless we accept the fact that we have to change."

Yes, individual actions to reduce your carbon footprint are great. Since November 2011, I have been giving this talk about energy efficiency around the St. Louis area called "It's Easy to Be Green." In this talk, I definitely encourage people to change their light bulbs and give tips our to cut their energy bills. However, this not enough to save us from the worst impacts of climate change.

As Al Gore said in 2008 during a TED talk,

"As important as it is to change the light bulbs, it is more important to change the laws."

Here are two of my biggest heroes, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and former Vice President Al Gore telling me that I am going to have to find a way to change the laws. Gulp. It is so much easier for me to just write and give public talks.

Fortunately, as mythologist Joseph Campbell said about the hero's journey that you don't have to do it alone. You can bring friends, partners, and others along to complete the journey. Success on this journey is a creating the political will to change the laws for a stable climate.


The most effective group I know that is doing this is Citizens' Climate Lobby (CCL). I first blogged about the impact CCL had on my life with the blog posts from January 2013, Want to change the world? Be Persistent! and from November 2013 Want to change to change the world? Then start a climate change group!

Citizens' Climate Lobby's methodology

Around the time of writing that second blog in November 2013, Carol Braford asked me to be the co-leader of the St. Louis group of Citizens' Climate Lobby. With my love of public speaking about climate change, Carol then recruited me to speak at the April 2014 Webster University Sustainability Conference.

The title of my talk was Citizens' Climate Lobby's central mission: Creating the Political Will for a Livable World. CCL creates this political will by empowering individuals, like you and me, to experience breakthroughs in exercising their personal and political power.

My presentation at Webster began by asking the vital question: Do you know who your Congressperson is?

This was a sophisticated, informed audience attending a sustainability conference at a university, so they did not seem to have trouble answering this question. However, this is a crucial question to ask because CCL is "betting the ranch on relationships," as Executive Director Mark Reynolds likes to say.

CCL primary focus is to lobby in support of their Carbon Fee and Dividend proposal by friendly relationships with our federally elected representatives. CCL volunteers and staff achieves this positive rapport with members of Congress and their staff by showing respect, appreciation and gratitude for their service.

Obviously, before you can develop a great working relationship with a member of Congess, you have to know who exactly is your member of Congress.

The Success of RESULTS and Sam Daley-Harris

The methodology of Citizens' Climate Lobby can be traced back to an organization working to eliminate global poverty called Results and its founder, Sam Daley-Harris. To prepare for my Webster talk on CCL, I read Sam Daly Harris' book, Reclaiming our Democracy.  This is book is an excellent resource for those looking for proven models for how to successfully lobby members of Congress to get legislation passed.

Sam Daley-Harris
Image: reclaimingourdemocracy.com
This book is a must read because it is about gaining hope and inspiration to become a fully engaged citizen. The subtitle nails how we overcome the pessimism and despair we feel with our current democracy, "Healing the Break Between People and Government." Sam states early in his own introduction that "Reclaiming Our Democracy' is a book that challenges this civic despair and offers a new model of citizen empowerment and leadership."

It is so easy to become cynical about politics when you turn on the TV news, open up the newspaper, and chat with friends. Sam shares his story how he founded and spent years developing the organization, RESULTS. This organization, founded by Daley-Harris around 1980, created a new model for citizen activism with its dedication to create the political will to end world hunger. The achievements of RESULTS highly motivated citizen volunteers regularly engaged their elected members of Congress is beyond impressive.

According to the RESULTS.org website, over the past 35 years, RESULTS has accomplished:
* Child deaths are down by nearly two-thirds.
• The number of children in primary school has doubled.
• TB deaths have fallen by almost half.
• More than 1 billion people have moved out of extreme poverty.
• Safety net programs cut the U.S. poverty rate nearly in half every year.
• Micro nance programs have reached 114 million families living in extreme poverty.

Image Source: results.org

These results may not have occurred without the founding vision of Sam Daley-Harris guiding this organization from the beginning. We tend to think that great people are somehow different than us. Before he decided to become a citizen organizer, in the late 1970s, Sam was a high school music teacher and a percussionist with the Miami Philharmonic Symphony. Early in the book, Sam shares a quote by futurist and inventor Buckminster Fuller:

"The things to do are the things that need doing, that you see need to be done and that no one else seems to see needs to be done."

While working as a teacher, Sam stumbled across a world hunger presentation from his yoga teacher. He decided to get involved by speaking to hundreds of high school students for the political will to end world hunger. He soon discovered that almost all high school students and adults did not even know their members of Congress. The following chapters then recounts how Sam traveled across the United States and world to recruit people to get involved with RESULTS and form their own local chapters. Sam then writes how he and the RESULTS volunteers continuously lobbied Congress to finally get them to pass funding bills to successfully reduce world hunger.

Carol & Tom Braford
Dedicated former RESULTS volunteers included friends I now know from Citizens' Climate Lobby: retired San Diego real estate broker Marshall Saunders and St. Louis residents Tom & Carol Braford. RESULTS showed such a successful model for citizen engagement to get Congress to pass legislation. Marshall Saunders then used the RESULTS' model with the blessing and mentoring of Sam Daley-Harris to create Citizens' Climate Lobby (CCL).

As a climate activist, this was the group I was the group I was seeking my whole life. From the template of RESULTS, Citizens' Climate Lobby's mission is to "create the political will for climate solutions by enabling individual breakthroughs in personal and political power." CCL borrowed from RESULTS the political will to regularly engage members of Congress with letters, meetings and letters to the editor in their newspapers. When they met with elected officials they would show them respect, gratitude and admiration so the members of Congress would be more willing to listen to the ideas to end global poverty or climate change.

According to Sam, meeting and fully engaging our elected officials is the best way to be an effective citizen advocate. Early in his book, Sam cites "Soul of a Citizen" author Paul Rogat Loeb for this observation:

"those e-mail petitions are counted in Congressional Offices, but they are also discounted. Yes mouse-click advocacy can and does make a difference, but if you are truly passionate about an issue, once the mouse has been clicked, the Facebook friends alerted, and the action tweeted, there is often a feeling of some emptiness, a yearning for something deeper. The real question is 'What can be done to provide that 'something deeper'?"

Whether it is RESULTS, Citizens' Climate Lobby or other advocacy groups, Sam stresses the importance to get connected with a group. He writes, "“People need to find an organization that gives them a deeper level of support, so they can get to 1st grade, 7th grade, 9th grade and college as an activist, rather than hanging around kindergarten all the time.”

Image Source: reclaimingourdemocracy.com
Even more, we need to effectively target our actions as citizen advocates with our letters to the editor and our meetings with elected officials. Thus, he introduced me to the Buckminster Fuller concept of 'Trimtabbing.' A trimtab is the small rudder fround on the back of a larger rudder on an ocean liner or commercial jet airplane. The trimtab is easier to turn. Buckminister Fuller coined this term when he said that if you wanted to turn the ship of state, you shouldn't try to push the ship around the front or even try turning the rudder. Instead, find the trimtab and turn that. Then the rudder and ship will turn more easily.

In Sam's book and his public appearance, effective engagement to influence our democracy starts with healing ourselves. I once Sam say on a YouTube interview, "If the government is broken, we are part of that brokenness and we must engage in healing ourselves too."

Next time you or someone you know feels hopeless that Congress does not respond to citizens, remember Sam Daley-Harris. Since he founded RESULTS in 1980 to end global hunger and poverty, the federal funding for childhood immunizations, reducing poverty, tuberculosis, malaria, and starvation increased from $42 million a year in 1984 to nearly $600 million dollars annually.

If you ask members of Congress, how is that possible? They will tell you it is because of the work of current and past RESULTS volunteers, such as Marshall Saunders.

Marshall Saunders

Like his mentor Sam Daley-Harris, Marshall Saunders shows us that one person can make a difference in the world and generate political will. He is 77 year old retired real estate broker in San Diego, Califonria.

Marshall Saunders,
Founder of Citizens' Climate Lobby
Image Source: citizensclimateeducation.org
Early in his career, he join the Rotary Club. It offers their members an opportunity to learn about the root problems facing the world and the best solutions out there. As a Rotary member, Marshall learned about the problem of global poverty. He also learned about an effective solution of microcredit loans.

Microcredit loans lends people who are so poor in third world countries on one would ever lend them loans of $10, $20, or $50. One woman was lent $50 to buy and fix a broken sewing machine.  She then starts a business to lift her family out of poverty. 98% of these loans are repaid. When these loans are repaid, it goes to the next set of loans for the village. Once this gets started, it has a remarkable impact wherever it is generated.

Marshall then became aware of Mohammed Yunis, winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Yunis  started the modern micro credit loan in Bangladesh when he founded the Grameen Bank. Marshall went to Bangladesh to visit Mohammed Yunis to see firsthand the success of microcredit loans.

When Marshall returned to the US from Bangladesh, he started getting Rotary Club grants to support micro credit loans all over the world.  Because of his efforts, Marshall received the Rotary Distinguished Service Award for 1998-1999. He also started microcredit loan program in Mexico.

Image Source: youtube.com
In 2006, Marshall was retired and he could have just rested on his laurels that he made a difference in the world. However, Marshall went to see the Inconvenient Truth documentary about Al Gore.  It really shook him up when he saw it.

Marshall had this revelation that there are millions of families living in poverty in Bangladesh who lifted themselves out with microcredit loans. Bangladesh is one of the low elevation countries in the world. Any sea level rise jeopardizes their ability to grow crops there. Marshall says to himself: ‘Wow! I generated a million microcredit loans and it could all possibly be wiped out because of climate change.’

That was the moment Marshall decided to spend the rest of his life working on climate change.  In 2007, he asked Al Gore to train him as a Climate Reality Project Leader. Since 2007, The Climate Reality presentation led by Vice President Gore has now trained over 9,200 volunteers worldwide, including Marshall.  In 2012, I became a Climate Reality Leader. After the volunteers are trained, folks like Marshall and me give public talks about the science and solutions to climate change.

Marshall gave 43 presentations in 10 months.

About three presentations in, he started to have serious doubts about what he was doing. He was inspiring people to change their light bulbs, carpool more, be more energy efficient etc. However, one morning he opened up the front page of his newspaper on the kitchen table to see that Congress had just given the oil companies an $18 billion tax break.

Marshall thought, ‘Hmm, I got 23 people to change their light bulbs last night and then oil companies get billions of dollars from the government. How do I match that?’

He then realized that the people he really needed to change were in Congress. That was the bad news.  The good news is that the whole time he had been working on microcredit in a long time volunteer with RESULTS.  This is what RESULTs proves: if you are organized, structured, disciplined, and have volunteer groups set up in Congressional districts, you can get Congress to make a positive and effective actions.

Marshall then said, ‘Piece of cake. All I have to do is find an environmental group using this same methodology and we can get climate legislation passed.’

He then talked to the big environmental groups to see if they were using the RESULTS model. He found a lot of great people doing great things, like the Sierra Club. What he could not find was anyone with a specific and effective plan to get legislation passed.

Thus, in 2007, he started Citizens’ Climate Lobby with one group in San Diego. By the end of the year, there were 6 groups in southern California. Citizens' Climate Lobby philosophy: 'We are going to take a system, an approach, a methodology that has been proven to be successful with Congress. We are then going to apply it to the climate issue.'


The purpose of Citizens' Climate Lobby

Citizens' Climate Lobby (CCL) prides itself on having a dual purpose:

1. To create the political will for a sustainable climate.

2. To empower individuals to have breakthroughs in exercising their personal and political power.

This mission of Citizens' Climate Lobby is a living example of Mahatma Gandhi's quote:
“When the people lead, the leaders will follow.”

Brian Ettling with Dr. James Hansen 
One of the best advocates for CCL is retired NASA climate scientist, Dr. James Hansen, one of the most respected climate scientists in the world. He stated, 

"If you want to join the fight to save the planet, to save creation for your grandchildren, there is no more effective step you could take than becoming an active member of Citizens Climate Lobby."

Citizens' Climate Lobby's Goal: Get Congress to pass revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend.

A tax is placed on carbon-based fuels at the source (oil well, coal mine, or U.S. border).

This tax starts at $15 per ton of fossil CO2 emitted. It increases steadily each year by $10 so that clean energy is cheaper than fossil fuels within a decade.

All of the money collected is returned to American households on an equal basis.

Under this plan 66% percent of all households would break even or receive more in their dividend check than they would pay for the increased cost of energy, which protects the poor and middle class.

A predictably increasing carbon price will send a clear market signal which will unleash entrepreneurs and investors in the new clean-energy economy.


CCL considered this to be the best market based solution to appeal to conservatives in Congress. Carbon fee and dividend does not grow the federal government, taxes, or federal debt. 

1. How is CCL creating the political will for a sustainable climate? 

As citizens, the only way you get members of Congress to respond your cause is strength in numbers.  

When citizen activists met with President Franklin Roosevelt, there are unconfirmed stories that he told one or more of them, 'I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it.'

One way that Citizens' Climate Lobby gets Congress to notice them is the total number of groups nationwide. Over the past six years, the growth of CCL is very impressive. 

In 2010, they had a total of 13 groups nationwide. 2011, 42 groups. When I first got involved in 2012, there was 74 groups. In April 2014 when I gave my talk Creating the Political Will for a Livable World for the Webster University Sustainability Conference, there was 170 groups. As of February 2016, there are now 312 active groups, with four more groups starting soon.

Members of Congress and their staff read the opinion section of the newspapers in their district to understand the views of their constituents. Thus, another benchmark to be noticed by elected officials is published media, as such letters to the editor or opinion editorials written by CCL volunteers in newspapers. Published media also includes official editorial endorsements of CCL written by the newspaper editorial staff. In 2010, CCL had 65 published media. In 2012, CCL had 646 published media. In 2015, CCL had 3,876 published media. 

Several years ago, the e-politics project looked at its first in-depth study of how Canadian MPs use online communication & respond to grassroots campaigns. Even though it is Canadian, I still think lessons can be learned for reaching American politicians. 

In 2009, former and current members of the Canadian Parliament were asked in a survey, 'what motivates you to take action on the based on interactions with your constituents?


As far as personal interactions with constituents, the members of Parliament listed direct meetings with constituents as the best way to influence them. Next was direct phone calls, followed by personally written letters, meetings with organizations, and letters to the editor. 

Thus, a top benchmark for Citizens' Climate Lobby is counting the meetings that CCL volunteers have with Congressional Offices, which includes staffs and/or directly with a member of Congress. For many years now, CCL has also had groups in Canada, so they also include Canadian actions in their statistics. In 2010, CCL had 106 meetings with Congressional or Parliament offices. When I first got involved in 2012, CCL had 534 meetings with Congressional or Parliament offices. In 2015, CCL had 1,273 meetings with Congressional or Parliament offices. 

Included in these yearly statistics, I organized a meeting with the district staff and local CCL volunteers of my Congresswoman, Rep. Ann Wagner on February 12, 2014. The year before I helped establish a CCL group in southern Oregon. Thus, it was a big thrill for me to be part of three meetings in one day that local CCL group had with the district staff of Oregon U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, Senator Jeff Merkley, and Senator Ron Wyden on August 27, 2013. 

Before I joined Citizens' Climate Lobby, I had no idea that I would be meeting with the staff of Congressional offices. As I blogged about last November, I traveled to Washington, D.C. and I lobbied five different Congressional over two days, November 17 & 18, 2015. It was a very empowering experience for me to speak directly about climate change to the staffs of 5 Congressional offices, including the staff my congresswoman, Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri.

Brian Ettling (on left) meeting with the staff of Rep. Ann Wagner in front of her
Washington, D.C. office. Erik Rust, Environmental & Energy Aide for Rep. Wagner,
wearing a red tie, with his intern Sarah. Larry Kremer, another CCL volunteer, pictured on right side. 

It is not just me that Citizens' Climate Lobby empowered me. Another area of growth that makes an impact with Congress are the number of volunteers that come to Washington D.C. directly, many at their own expense, to lobby Congress during the annual June CCL Lobby Day. In June 2010, CCL had 27 volunteers lobby 52 Congressional offices. In June 2015, around 900 Citizens' Climate Lobby volunteers from all across the United States lobbied 487 Congressional offices.

2. Empowering me to have breakthroughs in exercising my personal & political power.

Citizens' Climate Lobby and Sam Daley-Harris encourage climate activists to step outside of their comfort zone because that is where the magic happens. 

CCL encourages its volunteers to build positive relations with newspaper editors and the media to build political will. On December 12, 2012, Steve Valk, Communications Director for Citizens' Climate Lobby, came to St. Louis for a day to meet with our local CCL group. During his visit, volunteers from St. Louis group and I met with the editorial board of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. We met with Kevin Horrigan, Deputy Editorial Page Editor of the Post-Dispatch. During our meeting, we successfully persuaded Kevin to write an official editorial to endorse CCL's carbon fee and dividend. 

Brian Ettling, Carol Braford, Tom Braford, Steve Valk and Lucas Sabalka
after meeting with the editorial board of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 12, 2012.

As a result the Post-Dispatch did publish this editorial on December 27, 2012: Editorial: Save the planet. Save Social Security. Save Medicaid. Tax carbon. Since I had the Post-Dispatch since I was a child, it seemed surreal to me to be meeting with editorial staff inside the Post-Dispatch building. During the meeting, Steve Valk asked Kevin Horrigan if we could submit opinion editorials periodically to be published. Kevin responded very positively that they would fully consider running opinion editorials from us. 

I can personally attest that Citizens' Climate Lobby empowered me to step outside of my comfort zone to experience where the magic happens. In my wildest imagination, I hoped I could write a climate change opinion editorial for the St. Louis Post Dispatch. My CCL volunteer friends challenged me to do this in early April, 2013. That evening, I composed it and submitted it to the Post-Dispatch. It was published on April 19, 2013, For Earth Day, a GOP free-market solution to climate change.

Before I knew it, I was on a roll writing opeds for the next year. On July 10, 2013, I wrote an oped for the Post-Dispatch about coal pollution in the St. Louis area, What keeps me up late at night. Even more, I ended up writing 8 opeds for Oregon newspapers, including the Portland Oregonian, in the autumn of 2013. These opeds were written while I was working that summer as a seasonal park ranger at Crater Lake National Park, Oregon.

The Post-Dispatch published another oped I wrote for Earth Day 2014, For Earth Day: Asking our elected officials to be climate heroes. The print edition even had a beautiful picture of Crater Lake National Park to go with my opinion editorial.


On December 23 2015, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published my latest oped, A GOP market-friendly alternative to Obama’s Clean Power Plan

Before I got involved with Citizens' Climate Lobby in 2012, it is inconceivable to me that I would have written 12 opeds for newspapers across the U.S and numerous letters to the editor. 

You can create the political will for effective climate action 

A favorite source for quotes for Sam Daley-Harris and me, Buckminister Fuller, once said, 

"If the future of all civilization depended upon me, what would I do? How would I be?"

Citizens' Climate Lobby and the model for citizens' engagement Sam Daley-Harris created with RESULTS has really helped me become a much more effective climate change advocate. If you are concerned about climate change as I am, following the example of CCL and Sam can help you create the political will for effective climate action.

To increase your effectiveness, remember what Sam emphasizes: you will need to 'find an organization that gives you a deeper level of support, so you can get to 1st grade, 7th grade, 9th grade and college as an activist, rather than hanging around kindergarten all the time.'

My friend Larry Schweiger, former President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, once wrote, "It's not enough to care; we must link our concern to each other and act collectively."

It is very rewarding to get involved with a group like Citizens' Climate Lobby because you gain friends and a sense of hope.

Image Source: wardrobeadvice.com
Singer and songwriter Joan Baez once said, "Action is the antidote for despair."

Dr. David W. Orr, Professor of Environmental Studies, Oberlin College, Ohio, proclaimed, "Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up."

Former Vice President Al Gore likes to quote this old African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

If you are as concerned about climate change as I am, I challenge you today to commit yourself to take action. Even more, consider joining a group making an impact like Citizens' Climate Lobby which is creating the political will for effective climate change action.

As I like to say, "Think Globally, Act Daily."



Thank you Carol Braford for getting me involved with Citizens' Climate Lobby in 2012. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

My friend David who walked a 1,000 miles to talk about climate change


I am sure you have heard the expression, 'It's not enough to talk the talk, you must walk the walk.' Basically, speaking out about an issue of deep concern is not enough, we must take action.

My friend David Henry did just that. He walked over a thousand miles to talk to people about climate change. From June to August 2013, David walked by foot from Boston, Massachusetts to South Charleston, Ohio. It's a distance of 1,042 miles over 60 days. He kept his belongings inside a large covered cart, which people he encountered thought it looked like a giant mailbox. Hence, the title of the book he wrote, David and the Giant Mailbox.


In 2012, David Henry started feeling restless in his home in St. Louis Missouri that he must do something about climate change. He had read enough news reports about extreme weather and learned enough about the science of climate change from sources like skepticalscience.com. Through his interest in this subject, David learned that climate change is real, caused by human activity currently, it impacting people right now, and we must act fast to reduce the nastiest consequences.

It worried David that people did not seem to care. He then discovered how Americans perceive climate change. He read the September 2012 Yale Project for Climate Change Communication published report, Global Warming's Six Americas. This report based on several public opinion surveys notes that Americans fall into six categories of attitudes on climate change: Alarmed, concerned, cautious, disengaged, doubtful, and dismissive. According to that report, only about 16% of the population was alarmed like David. As far as the other 84% the population, David felt angry they were not as alarmed as him. He wrote,

"I envisioned all of humanity sleepwalking down a narrow path to the edge of a cliff. That made me pissed. I couldn't just sit back and let it happen. I decided it was time to do something."

My Struggle to 'Walk the Walk' 

I can totally relate how David felt in 2012. The same awareness about climate change happened to me working during the winter of 2007-08 in Everglades National Park in south Florida. As I share in my current climate change talks and speeches, I became a naturalist park ranger narrating boat tours in Everglades National Park in 1998. At that time, I knew nothing about climate change. However, park visitors were starting to ask me about this global warming thing and they expect park rangers to know everything.


Thus, I went to a Miami bookstore in 1999 my first book on climate change, Laboratory Earth: The Planetary Gamble We Can't Afford to Lose by the late Dr. Stephen Schneider of Stanford University. I then got hooked reading books and articles about global warming in my spare time. I saw Al Gore's documentary, An Inconvenient Truth in 2006 and it deepened my interest even more. By the winter of 2007-08, I could not sleep at night working in the Everglades. I felt I had to do something about climate change.

To this day, I still work my summer job at Crater Lake National Park. However, I gave up my winter job in the Everglades to return home to St. Louis for the winter. I had no idea what I was going to do in my hometown. However, I knew I had to speak out, write and organize locally to inspire others to take action to reduce the threat of climate change.

Over 8 years later, I am still trying to figure how to take bold action on climate change. The question that still bothers me is: How can I take enough action to create awareness among Americans to inspire them to take effective action on climate change? How was I going to not just talk the talk but walk the walk so all of us would be inspired to reduce the threat of climate change.

Doris "Granny D" Haddock
Image Source: pendemocracy.me
Part of me thought about walking across country like my friend David. I love to travel and see different parts of the United States. For over 20 years, I have driven across country from Oregon to Florida while working in the national parks. The thought has occurred to me to travel across by foot to see the country more up close. It seemed like such dream adventure too. Forrest Gump walked across country in one of my favorite movies. Doris Haddock, known as "Granny D," achieved national fame when she walked over 3,200 miles across the United States to advocate for campaign finance reform. She walked from southern California to Washington D.C. from January 1, 1999 to February 29, 2000. Even more, she did it when she was between the ages of 88 and 90!

This is still a dream of mine to walk across the United States. It would be great to see the changing scenery. At night, I would then speak at college campuses, town halls and public meetings about climate change.

In August 2013, I was a mentor at the Climate Reality Project Training in Chicago, Illinois. While mingling with the other attendees during the conference, I met Zac Heffernen. He was one of the organizers for the 2014 Great March for Climate Action. It was a 3,000 mile march that started March 1, 2014 in Los Angeles, California, and ended on November 1, 2014 when marchers arrived in Washington, D.C.

Image Source: climatemarch.org

In my conversation with Zac, this march sounded like a wonderful idea to raise awareness on climate change while having the safety in numbers and supporting logistics to successfully walk across the U.S. It was very tempting for me to join. Zac was very eager for me to join the march with my experience as a park ranger and climate activist. Despite Zac's besting persuasion, I turned down the march due because I did not want to give up my summer ranger job at Crater Lake Nat. Park. Even more, I was not thrilled with the idea to be away from then girlfriend/now wife Tanya for many months.

Still, I have thought often about 'walking a walk' across the U.S. to raise awareness about climate change and I still may do so one of these days.

Climate Walker David Henry is a lot more courageous than me

Like David's restlessness, I have struggled for years with the question of what bold action should I take on climate change. What brave act should I do to inspire people to take action on climate change? If climate scientists have been warning us that climate change is a very serious threat to our civilization, then what daring act do I need to take as a climate change communicator and activist to make a difference?

Ironically,  I did not think David Henry was so courageous when I first met him a couple of years ago. My impression was that he was friendly, kind, and humble when we met. He introduced himself to me as "the Climate Walker." Sadly, my first impression was 'So what!'

Many of us who are climate activists have given ourselves titles and tag lines. Since grabbing the website domain in December 2009, I have called myself the Climatechangecomedian. I do that to promote myself as a public speaker on climate change that is educational, inspiring and entertaining.



My friend Harriet Shugarman calls herself the Climate Mama, since she is mother concerned about her kids' future living on Earth. Her website climatemama.com focused on informing "Climate Mamas and Papas of all ages from all around the world about the realities of the climate crisis" and inspiring and empowering "Climate Mamas and Papas to work together."

My Canadian friend Rolly Montpellier calls himself the Boomer Warrior. He gave himself this title because "I’m a Baby Boomer and now a Warrior outraged by the kind of world we’ve created." His climate change website boomerwarrior.org aims at "Raising Awareness to the vast challenges we face" and then "Creating a Sense of Urgency to galvanize people into positive activism."

A Facebook friend of mine calls herself CelloMom. Her climate blog CelloMom on Cars is about "The quest for the fuel-efficient car that fits the planet and the budget - and the cello."

Thus, since I knew climate activists besides David who had given themselves titles, I was not that intrigued that with his climate walker title. However, I got to know David over the last two years as were both volunteers with the local St. Louis group for Citizens' Climate Lobby (CCL).

As I got to know him, I was more impressed by his kindness and dedication to take action on global warming. In March 2014, he happily agreed to my request to meet with the energy aide of our U.S. Representative, Congresswoman Ann Wagner of Missouri, about climate change when he traveled to Washington, D.C. on business. Even more, David met with me before the trip so he would have a positive meeting with Rep. Wagner's staff about to lobby them to support CCL's carbon fee and dividend proposal.

David Henry and Brian Ettling at the People's Climate March, November 29, 2015

When David's book was published in December 2015, he asked me to read it and give it a review. With my very positive impression on him, I was very happy to oblige.

I quickly discovered reading David and the Giant Mailbox that David Henry IS a lot more courageous than me.

I may pride myself on giving around 100 climate change talks over the past 5 years. In May 2013, Grand Canyon National Park invited me to give my Crater Lake ranger climate talk to an audience of over 200 visitors at their Shrine of the Ages Auditorium. After that talk and many others, I had a few audience members want to fierce argue with me about the science of climate change. I have also given around 15 speeches to my St. Louis South County Toastmasters Club on Climate Change. After the speech, The Debate is Over, I had a question and answer session with a few of the audience members that you can observed on YouTube who are very hostile to the science of climate change. Local businessman Larry Lazar and atmospheric scientist Dr. Jack Fishman of St. Louis University and I gave a live interview on the St. Louis local NPR station on April 15, 2014.

Guest speaker Brian Ettling at Grand Canyon Nat. Park
May 7, 2013.  

In December 2014, National Journal interviewed me about giving climate change talks in national parks. I did not think it was so bold at the time. However, a conservative blogger wrote a very critical response, A dose of ideology with your National Park vacation? For a couple of weeks, I worried conservative radio and TV shows would find his blog and they would then start harassing me. Fortunately, no other conservatives noticed the National Journal article or the conservative blogger.

Yes, I have take some bold actions to speak out on climate change awareness and promoting action. However, none of my actions are as brave as David Henry walking over a 1,000 miles to talk about climate change.

Reading David and the Giant Mailbox

The book was a fascinating page turner about David's 1,042 mile journey on foot. It may been been over 300 pages long, but it was a very quick read. The chapters, averaging about 5 to 6 pages long, were basically an account of what happened each day. As an aspiring cross country hiker, I quickly learned that a cross county hike is not easy.

David had to confront many busy streets with no sidewalks, intense thunderstorms, sore feet, fatigue near the end, sunburn, trying to find a place to camp each night, flat tires on his cart, etc. With all of the frustrations, he add ask himself multiple times if it was worth it to continue.

Friends warned him to be leery of people. However, David found numerous people willing to help him out on a pinch. In his everyday life, David is more of a quiet and reserved guy. Conversations are not always easy for him. In my past interactions with him, David is warm, generous and friendly, Yet, it felt like he was a private individual, not willing to share more than he absolutely had to share.

Photo from the back cover of the book David and the Giant Mailbox.

Therefore, part of the wonder of the book is seeing David break out of his comfort zone and engage people. The cart shaped like a mailbox was an amazing conversation starter or ice breaker for people he encountered. In walking long distances, David got to experience firsthand the Anne Franck quote:

“In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart."

David's quote though was not just to walk to meet people. His big goal was to have a conversation with as many people he could find about climate change. His specific plan was to have at least 100 global warming conversations while he walked across the country. As David shares his stories of the conversations, he provides a great example how to converse with people about climate change.

After folks would approach him about what he was doing, David would gently explain he was walking across to create more awareness about climate change. Some folks took a genuine interest, others just changed the subject, some were disinterested and just a few wanted to argue with David in a hostile manner.

In the few cases where folks wanted to strongly disagree with David, he would completely listen to them in a heartfelt way. He would then quietly to try correct their misconceptions about the science by quoting such sources as the Consensus Project, which affirmed that 97% of climate scientists agree climate change is hapening and it is mostly human caused.

Image Source: mediamatters.org

Through the book's recollection of his conversations, David gives a great lesson to not get angry, lecture, or insult the people when he occasionally met people who wanted to engage him in a hostile way. Although he imagined before and during the walk of wanting to grab someone by the scruff of the neck if they dismissed climate change, he never does that. He always tried to find common ground in every interaction while holding on to his conviction that we must act on the climate crisis.

From his courage of taking this long journey by foot and his open heart when encountering people, it felt like even the most hard core climate contrarians seemed like they still found a way to like, help, and even admire David. He found other ways to relate to folks when the conversation of climate change was a non-starter. His audacious walk and friendly interactions gave climate doubters a positive perspective that they do not experience when global warming is mentioned on TV or the radio. Thus, he does become a good ambassador for caring for our planet during his trek.

Image Source: amazon.com
From his many interactions, David learned a new faith and optimism for humanity. He witnessed enough good, caring, concerned and open minded people like him that we just may avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

David's experience reminded me of a quote from Julia Butterfly Hill. She is best known for having living in a 180-foot (55 m)-tall, roughly 1500-year-old California Redwood tree, affectionately known as "Luna,"  for two years between December 1997 and December 1999. Hill lived high up in the tree the entire time to prevent Pacific Lumber Company loggers from cutting it down. Julia documented that experience in another book I recommend reading, The Legacy of Luna. The second book wrote by Julia, One Makes a Difference, she proclaimed:

"Eternal optimism joined with loving action is the most powerful tool I own."

Even if I not able to personally walk across country, David's bold action gave me optimism that one person (I) can make a difference. Even more, his journey showed that people do have enough good and generosity inside of them that we can reduce the threat of climate change.

David, thank you so much for writing this book.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

'It's time we heard the the voices of indigenous people around the world.'

My friend, Melissa, who is Native American (Apache), with Brian Ettling
I met her while traveling across country in May 2013. 

'It is time that we heard the voice of all the indigenous communities around the world and protected this planet for future generations.' – movie actor Leonardo DiCaprio accepting his Best Actor award at the 2016 Golden Globes on January 10, 2016.

Leo's comment struck a chord with me. For years, I have though it is so important to listen to the voices of native peoples as we think about climate change and how to live on planet Earth.

Conversations with the Earth Exhibit

This realization first happened to me when I visited Washington DC in October 2011. I had just attended an Earth-to-Sky climate change Conference in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. That meeting had been sponsored by NASA and the National Park Service. It focused on NASA scientists providing the best science available for communicating about climate change with national park visitors. For year, my interest was learning and seeing how Climate Change is impacting our National Parks. The thought had not occurred to me how it could be impacting indigenous peoples around the world.

This was my first time visiting Washington DC in 31 years. It was very exciting for me to see the tourist sites: The White House, The Lincoln Memorial, The Vietnam Memorial, The Korean War Memorial, The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, etc. While I visited DC, someone recommended I visit the National Museum of the American Indian, which is only about two blocks from the Capitol.


When I walked inside, I was amazed to see they had a special exhibit Conservations with the Earth. It was about indigenous voices on climate change from around the world. It showcased pictures of native people from USA, Canada, Central & South America, Africa, Australia, Asia, ocean islands, etc. and how climate change impacted each of them.

One of the first images to greet me was Sarah James. She is part of the Gwich'in People, who are a Athabaskan-speaking First Nations of Canada and an Alaska Native people. They live in the northwestern part of North America, mostly above the Arctic Circle. Speaking about climate change, was this quote from Sarah:

"There is a solution. It's not the end of the world yet. One thing we have to do is gain back respect for the animals, for all nature. We pray and give thanks to everything that we use. But if it is going to work, it has to be both Western and traditional. We have be meet halfway---and we need to find balance."

The exhibit then had a sign about "The Price of Carbon." It stated how "Corporations bought the rights to a forest's carbon to offset their emissions, but the locals are paying the cost."

The people caught in the middle are the Guarani, an indigenous people from South America's interior  of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia. The sign stated,

"On the southeast coast of Brazil, American companies with significant carbon footprints are working to preserve 50,000 acres of the Atlantic Forest. The idea is simple: by protecting these trees, which soak up carbon dioxide, the companies hope to obtain carbon 'credits' that will allow them to pollute elsewhere. But, this practice, called avoided deforestation, is controversial, especially in nearby indigenous communities."

The next sign talked about Quara Quara Island, Brazil. It read,

"After centuries of development, just 7% of the original Atlantic Forest remains. While it seems a good idea to preserve the remaining trees by designating them as carbon offsets, avoided deforestation creates many complicated situations.


Between 2000 and 2002, American companies donated millions of dollars to establish a carbon-offset reserve near Quara Quara, the island home of several Guarani families. The companies do not own the land or the trees, but they receive carbon offsets for the emissions the trees absorb, which they can use to offset their own pollution elsewhere or sell to other companies seeking profits."

One specific story from Quara Quara was Antonio Alves. It stated,

"In 2008, Antonio Alves, a fisherman and carpenter, cut down a tree at the edge of the carbon-offset reserve to repair his mother-in-law's home. The Green Police, or For├ža Verde, arreste Alves and put him in jail for 11 days. He was defended by the town's mayor, a lawyer who has represented scores of residents arrested for similar acts."

This left a quandary for me. Yes, we do have to protect the last remaining natural areas of the world to reduce the threat of climate change. However, we must do it in a way that respects the local native people and their traditions. They must feel like they are valued stake holders, not intruders, in protecting wilderness areas.

On a sadder note, an exhibit focusing on the Mansus people living in the Manus Island of Papua New Guinea. In the past, the Mansus read the skies to decide when they could fish or travel safely. However, over the last decade, the seas have been rising and scientists and islanders alike report that climate change is becoming evident in the form of chaotic and unseasonal winds, unpredictable rains, and more intense storms. According to resident John Semio of the Mansus people,

"We can't reach our fishing grounds safely. We find it more more difficult to live now."

Nothing in their history prepared the islanders for the unprecedented fury of the 2008 storm they call 'King Tide.' The sign noted that "quick thinking saved most house from the waves – for now."

Unfortunately, I just have a few pictures left from the exhibit that I was able to share above in this blog. If you do go on Conversations with the Earth website, you can find more examples in pictures and videos how climate change is impacting Native peoples across the world.

While touring the exhibit, I spotted a special announcement of an evening reception at the museum with members of the indigenous communities from across the world showcased in the exhibit. I came back to the exhibit that evening. It was amazing to see the native people from Africa, South America, Alaska, etc. in person and in their native costumes. I got to mingle among them in the reception and attend some lectures how climate change impacted them.

It's a mystery to me now why I did not take any pictures of that event. I felt very fortunate to be there.  I felt very lucky since I did not know about exhibit or reception prior to my trip to Washington DC or checking out this museum on a whim. Seeing from the exhibit how climate change impacted some of these native people and meeting them in person, I promised myself I would not forget their stories. I meant to blog about it when I returned to St. Louis, but my mind and writings ended up focusing on other aspects of climate change. Thank goodness for the Leonardo DiCaprio quote to remind me not to forget.

The Pachamama Alliance

The Leonardo DiCaprio quote to hear the the voices of indigenous people also reminded me of the Pachamama Alliance. Around the year 2010, a friend encouraged me to attend a Pachamama workshop, called Awakening the Dreamer Symposium, which are actually held all throughout the United States and world.

Image Source: pachamama.org

The Pachamama Alliance focus is about weaving indigenous wisdom and modern knowledge for a thriving, just, and sustainable world. Its purpose empowered by its partnership with indigenous people, is dedicated to bringing forth an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling, socially just human presence on this planet.

At the Awakening the Dreamer Symposium, participants learn:

* Human beings are not separate from each other or Nature. We are totally interrelated and our actions have consequences to all. What we do to others we do to ourselves. What we do to the Earth we do to ourselves.

* Indigenous people are the source of a worldview and cosmology that can provide powerful guidance and teachings for achieving our vision—a thriving, just and sustainable world.

Image Source: achamama.org/event/awakening-the-dreamer-changing-the-dream

As far as climate change, Pachamama believes:

* If present trends continue, the probable future for life on Earth will be defined by periods of substantial social, environmental, and economic disruption, if not complete collapse.

* Humanity already possesses sufficient resources, technology, and know-how to reverse these trends. What is missing is the sense of urgency and the popular and political will to act.

* Without concentrated human intervention, certain tipping points will be reached that will make our present trajectory irreversible.

The origin story shared during the Symposium is fascinating.

Deep in the pristine Amazon rainforest, spanning the borders of modern-day Ecuador and Peru, the Achuar people have lived and thrived for centuries. With their deep devotion to their land, the Achaur kept had their sophisticated culture and worldview remarkably intact as late as the mid-20th century.

Since the early 20th century, individuals and corporations from the so-called “modern” world have sought to exploit Achuar land for its oil, disregarding its irreplaceable ecological and cultural wealth. From contact with neighboring tribes, the Achuar knew that oil companies were poisoning the rainforest and everything alive in it, steadily moving closer and closer to their home. Thus, the Achuar made the courageous decision to reach out to form partners in the modern world that was threatening their very existence.

Since 1995, the Pachamama Alliance, named for the Kichwa word for "Mother Earth," has collaborated with the Achaur and all of of their indigenous neighbors to preserve their cultures and protect this very biodiverse region of the Amazon basin. The Alliance has empowered these indigenous groups with legal, financial, and technical assistance, including mapping and land titling to secure ownership of their lands. It has also provided trainings and workshops to guide them in asserting their rights and economic development sustainable local products and ecotourism.

For two decades, this partnership has enabled the indigenous people to preserve millions of acres of pristine tropical rainforest. The Alliance's work to include legal rights for nature in Equador's constitution provides a powerful precedent that is now being replicated globally.

Lynne Twist,
co-founder of the Pachamama Alliance
Image Source: lynnetwist.com
According to the co-founder of the Pachamama Alliance, Lynne Twist,

"From the very beginning, the indigenous partners told us that it was really great that we were working in the Amazon with them shoulder to shoulder but that is only half the battle. They told us that if we really wanted to protect their lands permanently, we would need to go to work in our part of the world.

As they put it, we would need to change the dream of the north, the dream of the modern world. A dream rooted in consumption and acquisition, without any regard to the natural world or even to our own future."

Since 2005 hundreds of thousands of people worldwide have attended the Awakening the Dreamer Symposium. Now this interactive program is offered in an online course as well.

The live symposium or online course offers a challenging and inspiring curriculum that exams the root causes of humanity's most pressing issues. It then encourages people to participate in key grassroots movements are can actually making a difference, such as Move to Amend and Citizens' Climate Lobby.

After years of curiosity to attend a Pachamama training, I finally had an opportunity in the summer of 2013. Earlier in 2013, I founded a Citizens' Climate Lobby (CCL) group in Ashland, Oregon. A friend attending the CCL meetings, Lorraine Cook, was also involved with the Pachamama Alliance. She invited to speak at the end of an Awakening the Dreamer Symposium held at the University of Southern Oregon on July 9, 2013. I immediately jumped at this invitation to attend.


The two and a half hour Awakening the Dreamer Symposium was a very positive experience for me. I highly recommend attending if you have a chance. Pachamama's message really connected to me. The symposium focused on hope for the future, emphasis on sustainability, and a belief that humans can take the necessary actions to reduce the threat of climate change. Even more, the goal of this training is to inspire participants to get active with local grassroots organizations like Move to Amend, SOCAN (Southern Oregon Climate Action Now), and Citizens's Climate Lobby.

As a climate activist, I admire how it presented the issue of climate change from an indigenous perspective of caring for our Mother Earth, creation, and healing our natural world that sustains our lives. There was much audience participation so we felt like we were vital participants. It did not feel a dry and gloomy lecture. The symposium offered opportunities to chat with a partner sitting next to us and group discussions to go over concepts we just learned from Pachamama.


At the end of the training, we are awarded a handwoven friendship bracelet. My understanding is that members of one of the South American native groups, especially the Achaur, hand make these bracelets. Another person attending the training ties it around your wrist towards the end of the symposium. We are encouraged to wear the bracelet daily to remind ourselves daily of the symposium. Even more, we wear the bracelet as a reminder of our importance to take action to protect our planet.

Because the training did have a deep impact on me, I have worn it everyday since attending that July 2013 symposium. I even wore it to my wedding. It has been a constant reminder for me to follow my mantra to "Think Globally Act Daily" to climate change. Thank goodness for the Pachmama Alliance Awakening the Dreamer Symposium to reinforce my passion.

Tanya Couture and Brian Ettling at their wedding. November 1, 2015. 

Indigenous People are impacted the most by climate change

Even though I received much inspiration and a broader perspective from Conversations with the Earth and the Pachamama Alliance, it still really troubles me how climate change negatively impacts indigenous people.

Leonardo DiCaprio's quote at the Golden Globes was a reminder for me how native peoples across the world are on the front lines of climate change.

Keep in mind that DiCaprio's speech was criticized for mentioning indigenous people. Slate writer Aisha Harris referred to DiCaprio's speech as "awkward and cynical" and even doubted its sincerity. She wrote,

"The Revenant is only the latest in a long history of major Hollywood studio films featuring indigenous characters that is told from the white male perspective."

Leonardo DiCaprio
Image Source: imdb.com
Even more Harris is critical of the portrayal of the Pawnee tribesman (played by Arthur RedCloud) who later assists DiCaprio's character in his journey home? According to Harris, the Pawnee character is typical of the Hollywood stock Native American character. She wrote, "He's much more a mysterious, kind person of color than any real, flesh-and-bone character."

Fair enough. However, DiCaprio's full remarks at the end of his Golden Globes speech really spoke to me:

"And lastly, I want to share this award with all the First Nations people represented in this film and all the indigenous communities around the world. It is time that we recognize your history and that we protect your indigenous lands from corporate interests and people that are out there to exploit them. It is time that we heard your voice and protected this planet for future generations."

DiCaprio's statement recalled a statement I heard from this YouTube video, Dr. Hayhoe's Keynote Address at the June 2015 Citizens's Climate Lobby Conference. Towards the end of that video, Texas Tech University climate scientist Dr. Katharine Hayhoe refers to a map released by the Washington Post on February 3, 2015 of countries most vulnerable to climate change.

Basically, poor third world and politically unstable countries, such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, North Korea and central African nations are the most vulnerable to climate change.

Image Source: washingtonpost.com

Living in the most vulnerable and even not so vulnerable countries are indigenous people who are the least responsible for creating this problem. Even for those of us do not not have the same culture, religion, values, and traditions as indigenous people, it is still vital that we reduce the threat of climate change for the most vulnerable native peoples as well as our children.

As Katharine Hayhoe argues in that same YouTube talk:

"Why do we care (about climate change) if we're Christians? We care because the number one commandment is to love God and number two is to love your neighbor. We are told to love others as Christ loved us. And, how did Christ love? Sacrificially. Not saying we're equal, but saying 'I am putting you above my own life and I am willing to give my life for your life...When we look at who is impacted, it is in the places where it is not fair. It is not the people who created this problem."

What we do to the Earth we do to ourselves

As we live in modern civilization with all of its luxuries, we forget that all of us are descendants of ancient indigenous people. We live today because of accumulated wisdom over many generations. We discard their wisdom at our peril.

I want to close this blog with the thoughts and wisdom attributed to Chief Seattle. Historians do not think the text below is historically accurate or even something that Chief Seattle said. Even if he did not, these words speak of a wisdom for the ages. They speak of caring for the Earth. Even more, what we do to the Earth, we do to ourselves.

CHIEF SEATTLE'S LETTER
The only known photograph
of Chief Seattle, taken in 1864
Image Source: wikipedia.org

"The President in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. But how can you buy or sell the sky? the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?

Every part of the earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect. All are holy in the memory and experience of my people.

We know the sap which courses through the trees as we know the blood that courses through our veins. We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters. The bear, the deer, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the dew in the meadow, the body heat of the pony, and man all belong to the same family.

The shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water, but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell you our land, you must remember that it is sacred. Each glossy reflection in the clear waters of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people. The water's murmur is the voice of my father's father.

The rivers are our brothers. They quench our thirst. They carry our canoes and feed our children. So you must give the rivers the kindness that you would give any brother.

If we sell you our land, remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life that it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also received his last sigh. The wind also gives our children the spirit of life. So if we sell our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow flowers.

Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the earth is our mother? What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth.

This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

One thing we know: our God is also your God. The earth is precious to him and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its creator.

Your destiny is a mystery to us. What will happen when the buffalo are all slaughtered? The wild horses tamed? What will happen when the secret corners of the forest are heavy with the scent of many men and the view of the ripe hills is blotted with talking wires? Where will the thicket be? Gone! Where will the eagle be? Gone! And what is to say goodbye to the swift pony and then hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival.

When the last red man has vanished with this wilderness, and his memory is only the shadow of a cloud moving across the prairie, will these shores and forests still be here? Will there be any of the spirit of my people left?

We love this earth as a newborn loves its mother's heartbeat. So, if we sell you our land, love it as we have loved it. Care for it, as we have cared for it. Hold in your mind the memory of the land as it is when you receive it. Preserve the land for all children, and love it, as God loves us.

As we are part of the land, you too are part of the land. This earth is precious to us. It is also precious to you.

One thing we know - there is only one God. No man, be he Red man or White man, can be apart. We ARE all brothers after all."

May we do all we can to reduce the threat of climate change to respect our ancestors, our fellow humans that we share the planet especially indigenous people, and our children.