Click below to read past ConcordCAN columns in published the Concord Journal.



By Debbie Barr

While New England is blanketed by snow, the news of drought conditions from California is dismaying: reservoirs are empty, snowpack is at a record low, and ranchers are culling livestock based on how much water remains. Farmers talk about the onset of a new Dust Bowl in America’s Fruit Basket, and a friend in Santa Barbara reports that residents are buying $8000 truckloads of water for personal use, orchards and animals.

Gary Paul Nabhan, Research Scientist at University of Arizona and MacArthur Foundation scholar, points out that “40% of the nation’s food normally comes from 17 western states experiencing extreme heat and dramatic changes in production”. (NYTimes, 11.13. 2013.) Agriculture is both the victim and solution to peak oil. Only 9.5% of our income goes to food, the lowest percentage in the world. (John Carroll, UNH Professor). We under-invest in our food supply, and may not connect the dots between diet and disease, or climate change, drought and floods.

Scientists describe a natural world in turmoil later this century if we do not take steps now to reduce carbon emissions (Justin Gillis, Nov 11, 2013 NY Times). The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report released in November, 2013, concludes that “rising/extreme temperatures will reduce plant yields by as much as 2% each decade in this century, while demand will soar sharply to 14% per decade” thereby pointing to a global food crisis such as the one in 2008 that led to food riots in more than 30 countries.

It is easy to be overwhelmed with environmental disasters, from snow and ice in Alabama to drought in California. We need fresh approaches to climate change and a way to understand our place within an ecosystem. Frances Moore Lappe, well-known author of 18 books including the three million copy “Diet for a Small Planet", is one such thought leader. She will speak in Concord on March 14 at 7:00 PM at Trinitarian Congregational Church to share her ideas for how best to approach the climate change crisis.

Her most recent work, “Eco-Mind: Changing the Way We Think to Create the World We Want” is the winner of a silver medal from the Independent Publisher Book Awards. Drawing on the latest research from anthropology to neuroscience and her own field experience, she argues that the biggest challenge to human survival isn’t our fossil fuel dependency, heat waves, melting glaciers, or other calamities. Rather, it’s our faulty way of thinking about these environmental crises that robs us of power. Lappé offers “thought leaps” that reveal our hidden power. She assures us “that solutions to global crises are right in front of our noses, and our real challenge is to free ourselves from self-defeating thought traps that keep us from bringing these solutions to life. It turns out that gap between the world we long for and the world we thought we were stuck with can be bridged after all—if we can learn to think like an ecosystem.”

In keeping with her upbeat message, the event will open with the lively music of local singer-guitarist, Tom Yates. There will be a book signing and reception at the conclusion of her remarks. For details; See you there!

Debbie Barr is a member of the ConcordCAN! Steering Committee.