When it happens at home

by Sara Löwgren
This is a personal story. It is different from our regular blog posts and may present a different perspective.

I have written about the impacts of climate change for years. Seeking to inform, animate, and provoke action, I put words to emotions I did not yet know. I am extremely privileged: I still do not know what it feels like when a drought threatens your family’s daily meal, when your house is washed away in a flood, or when you know that within 50 years, your home nation will be entirely submerged by the ocean. But after a life of feeling safe and protected, climate change is finally knocking on my own, Swedish door. It is not a matter of life and death, but it is happening at home and I am scared.

The other day, my grandfather posted a picture of a patch of sandy, dry soil, remarking that this used to be their lawn. I know that lawn way too well, know that it is green and lush and that you must watch out for chicken poop before you lay down to enjoy it. That’s how it used to be, last year and the all years I can remember before that. Across my green home country, lawns and field are turning brown. Urgent lack of feed is pushing farmers to give their cattle away, or slaughter half their herds prematurely. No machinery is allowed that could heat or drop sparks on the ground; there are already more than 60 wildfires raging across the country, engulfing unprepared properties and fuel-loaded forests as they go.

“We used to call this a lawn.” My grandpa recently posted this picture on Facebook.

Compared to other countries’, Sweden’s recent experience with climate change is harmless. In a way, drought is Sweden even seems fair. When thinking about climate justice, I often wish that polluters would bear the whole burden of their emissions. Easy to say, but how true do I stay to my principles, when it is about my own country? Per capita, Sweden pollutes a lot. But my granpa’s lawn? Rationality and perspective feel far away. I keep wishing for someone else to act; I blame larger countries and capitalism.

As an individual, I sometimes feel overwhelming powerlessness. I study climate change, climate policy, and climate justice, but when climate change is disrupting life at home, I stand helpless. I cannot create rain and stop a drought.

Powerlessness is paralyzing, but we must keep moving. Sweden is taking some steps towards cutting greenhouse gas emissions, steps which clearly must become more ambitious. I believe that as a political and economic unit as well as 10 million individuals, Sweden must internalize the externalities of our import-based economy, put pressure on ourselves and other countries, and cut all unnecessary consumption. The drought is scary, but we can unite over our emotions from the summer of 2018 and let them fuel our necessary revolution of climate change mitigation. Superseding fear and frustration, I feel motivation and hope.


featured image by Christine Ohlsson/TT.


Spilling and Killing: Trump’s expansion of US offshore drilling continues

By Sara Löwgren

In January this year, a frightening press release shook Americans from coast to coast. Trump expanding drilling in offshore waters! In fear and fury, we spoke up. In Augusta, Maine, more than a hundred people attended the public hearing and the alternative public hearing, both hosted on different floors of the civic center. We were all there: students, fishermen, lobstermen, tourism sector, residents, city planners, mothers, fathers… our worries ranged from oil spill to climate change, but our message to the ever-so-friendly representatives was clear: No drilling in Maine waters.

Is Maine off the hook? We don’t know. Much of the country is not.

In one month, leases to federal waters are once again for sale. This time, on August 15th 2018, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is selling leases to offshore Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida for oil exploration and development. The scheduled sale is the third out of 10 planned in the National Outer Continental Shelf Gas and Oil Leasing Program which, during 2017-2022, aims to sell off all federal water in the Gulf of Mexico, an area twice the size of New York State (78 million acres).

Opening such vast areas of federal water to oil drilling is another of the Trump administration’s short-sighted projects. In Implementing an America-first Energy Strategy (Executive Order 13795) on April 27th 2017, Trump ordered the United States to encourage domestic energy production, putting “the energy needs of American families and businesses first and continue implementing a plan that ensures energy security and economic vitality for decades to come” (section 1).

It doesn’t take much to realize how flawed the strategy is. Which American families benefit from offshore drilling? Energy security and economic vitality are uncertain predictions (and how secure is a finite energy resource, anyway?), but the scientific evidence is overwhelming that burning fossil fuels contributes to global warming. Is offshore drilling meant to benefit the upper class, allowing them to drive their private cars for a few cents less per mile? Is it meant to benefit the thousands of households–many marginalized–who already struggle through worsening horrors of sea level rise, frequent storms, droughts, and floods? Families who cannot afford food if a drought year causes prices to fluctuate?

The executive order talks about maintaining American energy leadership. Drilling for offshore oil is more than one step backwards. Across the globe, countries are transitioning toward renewable energy, some driven by governments and some by people. In the United States, governors, experts, and residents on the East and West coast oppose offshore drilling; yet, Trump continues to slash federal marine protection. Offshore drilling may have quieted down in general media, but we must not be silenced.

Keep resisting fossil fuels. Keep struggling for a just energy transition.

To stay inspired and connect with others, check out these two sites:


Rise for climate


The New York Times also offers some helpful graphics.


picture by Arbyred on flickr.com

Climate Change: a post-development and post-colonial exploration

My interest in climate justice has been constant through my four years at College of the Atlantic (COA). During my second, third and fourth years I was part of the COA delegations that attended the UN climate negations. In addition, I did my internship at the National University of Mexico in the Political and Social Sciences Faculty where I did research on different ways to promote renewable energy from a public policy perspective.

While attending these spaces, I realized that many of the so-called “climate solutions” assumed particular economic and political goals. It was easy to identify a strong developmental agenda engrained in the climate projects discussed, proposed, and financed at the UN space. With this in mind, for my undergraduate thesis (Senior Project) I decided to explore the UNFCCC discourse on Climate Solutions through the lenses of post-development and post-colonial theory. Read more…

Drilling the Coast: Trump’s Offshore Drilling Plan

By: Rachael Goldberg

On April 20th, 2010, the world witnessed the largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, when the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig spilled 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Eight years after this devastating disaster, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), under the U.S. Department of the Interior, is in the midst of developing a new five year Oil and Gas Leasing Program.   Read more…

L’eau Est La Vie: “The fight against the Black Snake moves south”

by Matthew Kennedy

L'eau est la vie A

Only months ago, highly explosive crude oil began to flow through the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), or the Black Snake, as it was named by the Indigenous and allied activists at Standing Rock who organized massive opposition to its construction. The pipeline has since then leaked five times along its route. Proposals for dangerous new fossil fuel projects will continue to multiply, per the extremist deregulatory agenda of the Trump administration. But the fierce struggle for Lakota & Dakota territorial sovereignty (and rights for all Indigenous peoples, more broadly), together with the persistent legal confrontation of DAPL and the U.S. government, have left a formidable legacy for the coming years.

One of many testaments to this legacy is a “floating pipeline resistance camp” which has formed “in the swamps of Houma, Chitimacha, and Chata territory” in southern Louisiana to halt the expansion of a related Energy Transfer Partners scheme: the Bayou Bridge Pipeline (BBP). The BPP is the southernmost leg of DAPL. A new stretch of the BBP would carry fracked Bakken crude via Nederland, TX and Lake Charles, LA to terminals in St. James, LA. Anti-pipeline organizers, coming together in June of last year, have named their camp, L’eau Est La Vie, a cajun variation on the Water Protectors’ Lakota, mni wiconi, or “water is life.” An inaugural announcement from the Indigenous Environmental Network read:

Read more…