Advice on how my wife and I can save the country and the world

Last year I retired, and my wife, an educator for 40 years, took a job as a teacher after spending the previous 15 years or so as a school administrator. So as of next Friday, she will have her first real summer off in more than a decade.

We are both worried about the state of our country and of the world and want to use some of our free time this summer do our part to address one or more of the following issues:

  • Voter suppression
  • Electing Democrats
  • Strengthening reproductive rights
  • Enacting gun control
  • Fighting global climate change

Before we moved to Massachusetts last year, we lived in Georgia for three years, and before that in Nevada for five years. In those places it was fairly easy to find underdog Democratic candidates to work for, and we also helped with get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts by phone and postcard. We are proud to have played a small part in getting Lucy McBath elected as our representative in the district that was formerly Newt Gingrich’s, the first non-Dixiecrat Democrat elected to that seat.

However, here in Massachusetts, it’s a foregone conclusion that Democrats will win most elections (except, apparently, for governor), so we don’t have the same options for local activism we had in GA and NV.

Although our income levels have fallen somewhat from previous years, we will be making as many financial contributions as we can, but we’d also like to volunteer for at least a few hours a week to advance the causes mentioned above.

FYI, we are 61 and 66 years old, in relatively good health.

What do you suggest? And what do you think would have the greatest impact?

  • Electing Democrats

From this, everything else on your list has a chance of happening.

If the Republicans get in we all suffer…

Even in a solid blue state, which Democrats get elected matters. I don’t know anything particular about Massachusetts politics, but you may want to get more involved in the party primaries to nominate the candidates most closely aligned with your views.

If you’re more interested in the general election, New Hampshire is hosting a potentially competitive Senate race and both House seats are rated toss ups.

I bet there are phone banks for candidates in Georgia and Nevada that would be happy to have you make calls for them. During the last round of campaigns, one of my friends in Mass. did phonebanking for someone in another state.

You haven’t indicated what your living situation is. But if you own your house, you should consider decarbonizing that. Encourage friends to do the same.

Well, you can always reduce your Carbon Footprint to Zero.

Suggestions for how to do that, or what you’ve done to move in that direction?

The main thing you want to do is to eliminate fossil fuel burning in the house. That usually means natural gas but some houses do burn oil or coal. So

  1. Replace furnace with heat pump. Heat pumps will also do air conditioning, so you can get rid of that too, if you have it.
  2. If your hot water heater and/or clothes dryer use natural gas, replace those with heat pump versions.
  3. Replace gas burning stove/oven with induction stove. You may have to replace your cookware, although you can put steel disks over the induction burners and use your old pots and pans.
  4. Profit! …er… tell the gas company to take a hike and enjoy not paying that bill.
  5. If you really want to go all out, put up some solar panels with battery and run your home off sunshine. Recharge your EV with it too.

OK, all that is not exactly cheap (especially the EV), so you may have to spread these investments out over time.

As far as what I’ve done, I don’t own a house, so I can’t do much there. The place I’m living in now does not have gas, though. But I also don’t own a car and do all my travelling by bicycle.

In addition to de-carbonizing your house (very high on my list of things to do), if you have land with space available for trees, I would plant them. In addition to holding some of that atmospheric carbon, they have a lot of additional benefits, such as shade (reduce cooling costs for your home), habitats for critters, and they look nice.

I realized after posting that I forgot about decarbonizing the lawn. All the powered lawn and garden tools (lawn mower, leaf blower, weed whacker, etc.) have electric versions that work just as well as the fossil fuel version. Furthermore, many of those small ICE motors have 2-stroke engines, which produce lots of other pollutants, so replacing them is ++good.

Thanks for all of this. Fortunately, we have already begun this process, although not specifically for the sake of decarbonizing. We already have a conventional (not inductive) electric range. Last summer we replaced the five window air conditioners with a mini-split (heat pump) system that provides AC and limited heat. That has significantly reduced, but not eliminated our reliance in the winter on the gas-fired furnace/water heater combo. We had no immediate plans to replace that, but we might look into it.

On the negative side, we have been thinking about installing a gas insert for our fireplace. It hasnt burned wood in a long time, and gas would be more convenient for the occasional winter days we feel like having a fire.

I’m hurt and dismayed that you haven’t been following me so closely as to have seen my thread about battery powered lawn tools. :grin: Just in the last few weeks I’ve acquired several new Ryobi 40V and 18V tools: the current inventory consists of a self-propelled lawn mower, string trimmer, leaf blower, hedge trimmer, and orbital sander.

However, helpful as all this has been, the real reason for this thread is not so much to get advice on how to spend our money, as on how to spend our time advancing our causes this summer.

Back to the political side, we are interested in helping specific candidates in the most important races, where our efforts would have the greatest impact, regardless of location. Just because we lived in Georgia and Nevada doesn’t mean we would have to focus there, if we could be more helpful elsewhere. Any thoughts on which races are most critical?

Or we could help GOTV efforts in general or organizations fighting voter suppression.

Every campaign season, there are plenty of GOTV actions in New Hampshire, which is still a battleground state. I have friends who go up there for in-person campaign work.

Also, a lot of GOTV work is dialing, could you still do work in Georgia that way?

Val Demings in Florida would be a good one.