Mary Ann’s Solar Installation

Here is a description of how I decided to install solar panels.

Mary Ann went with solar power

“Mary Ann’s Solar Installation” by Mary Ann Renz

Tim Tesar, photographer for Mary Ann's solar installation

Photos by Tim Tesar

Mary Ann’s Solar Installation, by Mary Ann Renz.
Photos by Tim Tesar.

Solar WindsEditor’s note: For all the compelling reasons Mary Ann gives for going solar right now, this is a good time for you to contact Sierra Club Michigan Chapter’s solar installation partner Solar Winds Power Systems. And here are more reasons: Solar Winds has been vetted by Chapter. Sierra Club members get a discount on their installation. And Chapter gets a donation.

When I was preparing to sell my house in Mt. Pleasant, the realtor had me fill out a form on which one question was “If you were going to continue to live in the house, what changes would you make to it?” I answered that I might install solar panels. It would have been a difficult venture there, since my house was shaded by large maple trees and the roof was mostly flat, covered with a rubber membrane.

However, my desire to reduce my carbon footprint persisted after my move, and so I was glad to realize that with my house in Kalamazoo, the roof facing south was, for the most part, free of shade, so it could make a pretty ideal space for installing solar panels.

I imagined, however, that it might be too costly for me to take action now. I figured I’d need to wait until I had saved enough money to afford a solar installation.Read more

To do my part in fighting the threat to our planet, I guard against my own rationalizations, and I make sure I repay what I owe to the Earth. So can you. Here’s how.

What I Owe the Earth

What I owe the Earth

“What I owe the Earth” by Ben Brown

Does what I do really matter? I’m just me! How much difference can I make? And, anyway, what debt do I owe to the planet?

Today we face a life-destroying threat, a danger more serious than the asteroid impact blamed for killing off so much life 65 million years ago. Most of us who recognize today’s threat blame a collection of forces beyond our control. I contend that the responsibility falls on all of us – you and me – individually. The longer we believe the current story being fed us, that our individual actions matter little, the more likely our destruction becomes.

Don’t fall for the idea that it’s them. It’s us. We all matter, and what each of us does today creates the future.

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CLIMATE ACTION is the ultimate pro-life movement.

Reclaiming the Narrative

Mary A. Colborn, Climate Action is the Ultimate Pro-life Movement

A few years ago my sister and I cleared away an old forgotten pile of wood on our family farm. As we were moving branch after branch and stacking chunks of wood, we startled a well-camouflaged toad. It responded to our intrusion by creeping deeper into the pile. Each time we shifted the pile and uncovered the toad, we’d call out to each other, “Watch out for the toad. Be careful you don’t hurt him.” Slowly, the pile dwindled and finally there was no wood left and no place to hide. Still the toad made an attempt by covering itself with a cluster of dry leaves. I was ready to wrap up the task, leave the toad where it was and find a new project, when my sister called out to my brother to come over and rake the site. Unfortunately, the first thing he did upon arriving was to make a swing with the rake toward the toad’s leafy hiding place. Together, my sister and I screamed out, “Watch out for the toad.”

I have no idea how the toad fared, because our little outburst set off a three hour rant. Shamed by us, my brother ranted and railed for hours about the “the crazy liberals who care more about the lives of toads than babies.” In confusion, I tried to explain that there were no babies present and certainly none at risk of being harmed. He just went deeper into his rant about abortion, adding insults on my character, focusing on the insane notion that I wanted to kill babies to save animals, like toads. As he continued his rant against “crazy environmentalists,” he grew more and more profane. I finally abandoned the work site for my own safety and left.

I tell you this story, not to share my personal struggles with right-wing family members, but to suggest instead that it is time for those of us who love the Earth to take back the narrative. We must get people to understand that our care for nature includes a deep and defining love for all life in it and upon it. We must make others know that we stand up for clean water, as so many of us did at Standing Rock and in Flint, because we love people. We recognize that people need clean air and clean water, as much as they need a connection to nature.

I say this, because we environmentalists have failed to adequately convey that we believe people matter and all life matters.Read more

Permanent Palisades Shut Down Announcement: For anti-nuke activists, a celebration. Then what?

Is it really a permanent Palisades shut down?

permanent Palisades shut down

In a December 8, 2016, press release, Palisades nuclear plant owner Entergy announced a permanent Palisades shut down effective October, 2018.

Long story short: Executives at Consumers decided their company was paying Palisades too much for electricity. They negotiated with Entergy, owner-operator of Palisades, to knock the last four years off the fifteen-year purchase plan they agreed to when Consumers sold its Palisades plant to Entergy in 2007. Consumers, Palisades’ only customer, will stop buying electricity from Palisades in 2018, not 2022. For thirteen of the twenty extra years Entergy got in 2011 when the plant’s original 40-year license expired, Palisades has no buyer for its uncompetitively priced electricity. So Entergy officials decided on a permanent palisades shut down.

On December 8, Entergy issued a press release saying, “Entergy intends to shut down the Palisades nuclear power plant permanently on Oct. 1, 2018.”Read more

High-Level Nuclear Waste Disposal: Our Eternal Problem

our high-level nuclear waste disposal problem

Our high-level nuclear waste disposal problem: The industry calls it “clean, safe nuclear energy,” but each plant has been manufacturing tons of waste that’s dangerously radioactive for millions of years – forever, as we humans count time.

300px-little_boyThe experts and geniuses put the finishing touches on The Bomb and looked around and said, “What do we do with all this leftover stuff?” The answer was, “Ella-fine-oh. We’ll figure it out later.” Later was a long time ago. We’re in decade number eight of the “Atomic Age” and no one has figured out what to do about high-level nuclear waste disposal.

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Ben’s Tiny House Part 2 – Progress Report

The tiny house house movement will help heal the Earth. “Ben’s Tiny House Part 2” updates the first installment in the story of Kalamazoo Valley Habitat for Humanity’s tiny house pilot project. Part One gave dozens of reasons why a tiny house can be the right choice for many and is the right choice for me.

Ben’s tiny house progress report, September 26

Ben's tiny house - tiny footprint, huge space

Ben’s tiny house – tiny footprint, huge space

The past week has been a whirlwind of activities on the tiny house.

Last Monday September 19th, there was only the insulated foundation and form work that had been supporting it. Tuesday fantastic volunteers from Stryker unloaded the lumber delivery early in the morning. By noon we had organized the deliveries, plus performed dozens of tasks to prep the foundation for the sill plate and wall. The team built the north wall framing and, like a barn raising, we had it up and braced. By that evening the southern entry wall framing was built and raised into place.

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War On Climate Change?

Should World War III really be a war on climate change?

Fred Upton opposes the war on climate change.

Pooh-pooher and ditherer-in-chief Fred Upton has opted out of the war on climate change. In 2009, he called climate change a “serious problem.” As the Union of Concerned Scientists points out, now that Upton heads the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is getting lobbied by – and getting campaign support from – the likes of Exxon and other fossil fuel giants, Upton says the opposite. He is not entitled to his counterfactual opinion. (Photo from Upton Website.)

Climate change? What climate change? I don’t believe it. It’s all a big hoax!

All our lives we’ve heard that “everyone is entitled to their opinion.” Well, not always. No one is entitled to a counterfactual opinion.

When satellite photos and people on the ground see that our polar icecaps are melting and lakes are forming in Antarctica, no one is entitled to the “opinion” that the Earth’s polar ice is not melting. When we see islands disappearing and people fleeing the coasts, no one is entitled to the “opinion” that sea levels aren’t rising. If icecaps are melting and sea levels are rising, no one is entitled to the “opinion” that the Earth is not warming. Rolling Stone, in a report that doesn’t mention melting ice and rising seas but points at floods, droughts, wildfires, and science, says climate change is here. What more do we need? An open letter signed by 375 of the nation’s top scientists, including 30 Nobel Laureates? Well, here it is. The first sentence, says “Human-caused climate change is not a belief, a hoax, or a conspiracy. It is a physical reality.”Read more

Tiny House, a Strategy to Heal the Earth – Part One

Tiny House Part One – Why Consider a Tiny House?

Tiny house photo: HGTV

Tiny house photo: HGTV

Housing, food production, and transportation account at this moment for some 60-70% of irreplaceable damage to the planet. Few individual citizens are asking themselves if they can take dramatic enough steps to reduce their own personal impacts to zero or even reverse their impact on climate change. With current technology, if we do not take huge steps now we can expect large portions of even the US to become uninhabitable within the lifetime of our children. One of these huge steps? The trend toward the tiny house.

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NRC Palisades Review – June 23, South Haven, Michigan

NRC Palisades ReviewHere’s my report on the June 23 NRC Palisades Review. Sorry it took so long. I had a hard time figuring out what to say. I also apologize for my two mess-ups.

My questions about embrittlement at the NRC Palisades Review

The moderator alternated among those who had signed up to talk, people participating by phone, and written questions from audience members who preferred not to speak. He happened to call me to the microphone first. I started by saying I’d have followup questions. I promised my total talking time would stay under the three-minute limit. I said I wanted to learn more about embrittlement.

NRC Palisades Review

My report on the NRC Palisades Review, by Bruce Brown

I asked, “What would happen if inspection and testing were to show that the shell that keeps the nuclear reaction contained – the reactor pressure vessel, or RPV – is too brittle to be safe?”

The moderator introduced Mark Kirk to answer my question. I recognized his name. He’s the NRC official who told MLive about a year and a half ago that “Palisades is one of the most embrittled nuclear reactors in the country.”

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The Fracking Linkletter © – Final Push for Signatures

Hello, Friends –


With just 17 days left to reach our signature goal for the Ban Fracking Initiative, it’s time for our utmost effort. We need all hands engaged, all minds focused.

Resolve to collect an extra 100 or 200 signatures, or to spend an hour or two hours every day petitioning; whatever works best for you. Seek out the places where people gather, and get their signatures.

The Fracking Linkletter © - Earth Week, by Craig Brainard

The Fracking Linkletter © – Final Push for Signatures, by Craig Brainard

Because the truth is this: we cannot collect too many signatures, only too few. And too few would render useless all the hard work of you and every other concerned person who has contributed to this campaign.

Logistics: May 25th is the last day to mail petitions to CBFM, at the address on each petition. Signatures gathered after the 25th will need to be turned in to your coordinator, or at special collection centers in Ann Arbor, Charlevoix, Flint, Grand Rapids or Waterford. Your coordinator should have information on that.

Make sure each sheet is signed and dated by you.

Everyday places like outside post offices, coffee houses, and libraries are great places to petition. Also, farmer’s markets, concerts, sporting events, fairs, festivals, art fairs, runs and races, and school events. For a list of events around the state, go to:

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