Daniel Lerch | An Island Press Author

Daniel Lerch

Daniel Lerch is Publications Director of Post Carbon Institute, serving as lead editor and manager of the Institute’s books and reports. He is the author of Post Carbon Cities: Planning for Energy and Climate Uncertainty (2007)—the first major local government guidebook on the end of cheap oil—and was the founding chair of the Sustainable Communities Division of the American Planning Association and a founding co-director of The City Repair Project. Lerch has delivered over 100 presentations to audiences across the United States and abroad, and has been interviewed for numerous media outlets. He has worked with urban sustainability issues for over twenty years in the public, private, and non-profit sectors.
Island Press

Offsetting the Environmental Impacts of Trump

Island Press authors share their creative ideas for offsetting the damaging environmental impacts of the Trump administration.

This summer, three environmentalists banded together to counter Trump’s inaction on climate by planting trees. So far, the crowd-sourced forest is at 840,000 trees pledged and growing.

We asked Island Press authors to reflect on the idea of Trump Forest and offer their own suggestions for offsetting the damaging effects of the Trump administration. Their ideas—from Twitter-based fundraising to more walkable neighborhoods—are below. Have your own creative idea? Share it in the comments.

How about the Trump Military-Industrial Parks Funding Bill: for every dollar that the Trump administration's EPA saves for corporate polluters, a dollar is transferred from the budget for Defense Department and applied to funding for National Parks. 
—Emily Monosson, Natural Defense

BadlandsView3
Badlands National Park in South Dakota, via Wikimedia Commons

Planting trees for—or, more accurately, against—Trump and his policies is a great idea. We know that it’s not going to solve the problem of climate change, although every tree helps a little, and if we plant enough trees they will have a significant effect. But, perhaps just as important in the short term, every little gesture against the awful Donald contributes to the tide of protest by millions of people saying  “we will not accept the attitudes of this president and we will not go along with his agenda."

Continue reading the full post here.
Joe Landsberg and Richard Waring, Forests in Our Changing World

I suggest creating an online platform where everyone who voted for Hillary (all 68 million of them) can sign up and pledge to give 1 cent—which would be automatically deducted from their bank accounts (if they have one)—every time Trump tweets. This money would then go to combating climate change denial organizations/agendas, which are (demonstrably) incredibly well-funded.

If even half of everyone who voted for Hillary did this, we could generate $3.4 million in one day alone. (34 million votes equals 34 million cents multiplied by 10—the amount of times he tweets daily, on average.) The environmental cause he donates to could change every day. Even changing the monetary amount to half or a quarter of a cent for every tweet would still generate a lot of money.” 
—Michael Carolan, No One Eats Alone

The best way to offset the environmental impacts of the Trump administration is to advance smart policy at the state level and be prepared to do the same at the federal level once Trump leaves office… or if he changes his mind while in office! I am very worried that the GOP’s “Obamacare repeal” moment will be repeated in climate policy in a few years, and I speak from experience: 2016’s pioneering I-732 carbon tax ballot measure campaign in Washington State (which I founded and co-chaired) lost in part because of opposition from the “environmental left,” including the Sierra Club and Washington Conservation Voters. The same dynamic played out in California earlier this year, with the Sierra Club and 350.org opposing the extension of California’s cap-and-trade system.

And you can watch it happening again in Washington State as the groups that splintered with the grassroots I-732 campaign are now splintering with each other about a 2018 ballot measure. So: If you’re on the right side of the political spectrum then there’s lots of work to do getting conservatives to pay attention to the risks of climate change (Bob Inglis and his compatriots at RepublicEn are one great resource), and if you’re on the left, well, as the Washington Post editorial board put it, “The left’s opposition to a carbon tax shows there’s something deeply wrong with the left.” Fix it. 
—Yoram Bauman, Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change

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Restaurants on East Rock's main commercial strip in New Haven, CT, via Wikimedia Commons

A good place to plant many of those trees is along the streets of America’s cities, towns, and villages. It’s been shown again and again that a canopy of street trees can significantly lower the air temperature of a block or a neighborhood or a larger area during the height of summer. That makes for more comfortable living. It reduces the need for air conditioning. It encourages people to walk or bike to nearby destinations rather than drive a car. Moreover, street trees make a place more beautiful. They persuade people—at least some people—that living in a somewhat dense neighborhood is not a sacrifice—it’s an advantage. 

Along with planting trees, we should put more emphasis on making the street network safer for pedestrians. Especially important is what happens at intersections, the most dangerous parts of the street network. Some intersections need to be narrowed, to get motorists to slow down and to reduce the distance that pedestrians have to cross. On long or especially busy blocks, segments of the planter strips could be extended into the street, causing vehicles to move at a more reasonable speed and helping people to cross the street safely. 

Follow examples from cities like Portland, Oregon, where centers of many neighborhood intersections have been planted, moderating the speeds on residential streets. In front of some neighborhood shops, encourage merchants to create patios where people can come together, eat and drink, and get to know one another. On Orange Street in the East Rock section of New Haven, Connecticut, where small stores are interspersed among houses and apartment buildings, patios of this sort have been created, giving the neighborhood a more congenial atmosphere than previously existed. 

Making a greener, more beautiful, more sociable environment benefits people in many different ways.
—Phil Langdon, Within Walking Distance

There's no lack necessary actions we can take. But where to start? Or perhaps better asked: How can I channel my outrage into something that's constructive but also as satisfying as ripping out part of my sink? (After all, outrage is an itch best scratched soon lest you turn into a humorless crank.)

Seed-bombing Trump golf courses with wildflowers and edibles immediately comes to mind, though admittedly that ranks high on "satisfying" and not much else. Punching literal Nazis on the street is constructive, in a way, though it's not a skill I currently possess. Keeping up with my curated Twitter roster of political and environmental experts is more important than it sometimes feels (especially when the underrated Sarah Kendzior has a new post) but it's also far from satisfying.

Of course, anything that makes a whit of difference is generally going to be neither easy nor quick. Meaningful changes take time, time spent in setting intention, executing action, and curating results. I think this holds true whether you're raising a garden, starting an activist organization, or making a footprint-reducing lifestyle change.

Continue reading the full post here.
—Daniel Lerch, Community Resilience Reader

The Community Resilience Reader | Island Press

Community Resilience: Changed Times Demand It

Back in April 2001—a time in-between the contested 2000 election and the 9/11 attacks when the Bush Administration seemed just like a bad joke and not yet a flag-draped war machine—Vice President Dick Cheney quipped, “Conservation may be a sign...

Back in April 2001—a time in-between the contested 2000 election and the 9/11 attacks when the Bush Administration seemed just like a bad joke and not yet a flag-draped war machine—Vice President Dick Cheney quipped, “Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy.” A friend of mine was so incensed by this that he immediately disconnected his bathroom sink from its drain and threw a bucket underneath—the beginnings of what would become a fairly ambitious (and not badly designed) home greywater reclamation project.

It's been clear from the beginning that Trump's Administration is both far more clownish and more dangerous than Bush W.'s—and also much more generous in its supply of outrages that might inspire those paying attention to remedial actions. (If you find yourself bereft of inspiration at the moment, just visit the aptly named website, whatthefuckjusthappenedtoday.com.) There's no lack necessary actions we can take. But where to start? Or perhaps better asked: How can I channel my outrage into something that's constructive but also as satisfying as ripping out part of my sink? (After all, outrage is an itch best scratched soon lest you turn into a humorless crank.)

Seed-bombing Trump golf courses with wildflowers and edibles immediately comes to mind, though admittedly that ranks high on "satisfying" and not much else. Punching literal Nazis on the street is constructive, in a way, though it's not a skill I currently possess. Keeping up with my curated Twitter roster of political and environmental experts is more important than it sometimes feels (especially when the underrated Sarah Kendzior has a new post) but it's also far from satisfying.

"Anything that makes a whit of difference is generally going to be neither easy nor quick."

Of course, anything that makes a whit of difference is generally going to be neither easy nor quick. Meaningful changes take time, time spent in setting intention, executing action, and curating results. I think this holds true whether you're raising a garden, starting an activist organization, or making a footprint-reducing lifestyle change.

Or also, perhaps, writing a book. The 2016 election happened while we were still putting together The Community Resilience Reader. Our authors, some of them midway through writing their chapters, suddenly had to grapple with the "known knowns," "known unknowns," and so forth (to reference another outrage-generating member of the Bush Administration) that Mr. Trump would undoubtedly bring with him to Washington. As the editor, I was already making decisions about the tone of our authors' writing, especially when it touched on the political. I found myself letting authors' sometimes-harsh observations and word choices stand that just months prior I would have suggested they tone down. I soon set an intention to let the book's voice—and our organization's voice—be more subjective, more forthright with what wanted to be said.

Like a garden, if you bring an intention to life in the form of a book but don't tend to it it will wither away and be forgotten. I don't mean book promotion (though that's important) but rather continuing to work with what the book says: talking and writing about it, defending it against criticism, learning from its exposure and seeing where that leads. In my case, it also means continuing with the intention to help communicate what wants to be said, even if it can be uncomfortable to hear. The changed times demand it.

foreword Friday

#ForewordFriday: Community Resilience Edition

Resilience is often conflated with climate change adaptation and infrastructure, but this oversimplification may be limiting our ability to overcome the complex challenges facing our global community. The failure of international efforts to...

Resilience is often conflated with climate change adaptation and infrastructure, but this oversimplification may be limiting our ability to overcome the complex challenges facing our global community. The failure of international efforts to surmount problems of environmental degradation, fossil fuel dependence, economic inequality, and persistent social injustice mean that resilience-building efforts at the community level are needed more than ever. But what does resilience actually mean, and how can it be done in a way that’s effective and equitable?  

New from the Post Carbon Institute, The Community Resilience Reader: Essential Resources for an Era of Upheaval offers a new, practical vision for creating resilience in the 21st Century. In this contributed volume, leaders from a variety of fields including science, policy, community building, and urban design come together to show that building strength and resilience at the community level is not only crucial, but possible. Check out an excerpt from the book below.