Tag Archives: ESRAG

Environmental Issues in Understandable Terms

   Our guest speaker this week was Dr. Elizabeth Bagley, Director of Drawdown Learn at Project Drawdown, speaking to us on a pre-recorded video from Sitka, Alaska. Dr. Bagley received her undergraduate degree from UW-Madison as well as her Ph.D. jointly in Environment and Resources and Educational Psychology. She is clearly well suited to teach us about environmental issues in understandable terms.

   “Drawdown” refers to that point at which human-made atmospheric chemicals that support climate change and warming begin to decline. Dr. Bagley offered us a number of ways that we can arrive at this point of drawdown, beginning immediately. These solutions fall under three broad categories: Reduce the Sources of climate change; support the natural Heat Sinks that reduce these pollutants; and help Society make necessary changes. All of these solutions, she argues, are possible right now.

   Drawdown and ESRAG (an environmental group within Rotary International represented here by Paul Riehemann and Karen Kendrick-Hands) advocate planting millions of trees that will reduce carbon dioxide levels of the atmosphere. Support electricity reform such as solar and wind power. Reduce food waste and increase composting. Reduce leaks of harmful refrigerants into the atmosphere where they do their thing: trapping heat. Reform transportation by increasing the use of electric vehicles and bicycles. Heat sinks can be supported by agricultural practices, the planting of trees, and the restoration of damaged ecosystems. Society can be mobilized in the effort by reforming practices in health and education.

Dr. Bagley suggested solutions that are not pie-in-the-sky or wildly expensive, and that are actually already being done in places around the world with support from organizations like Rotary. She grew up on a sheep farm in western Wisconsin and earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from a great research university. The combination has produced an articulate, knowledgeable, and practical worker in the cause of preventing catastrophic change in our atmosphere.   Our thanks to Elizabeth Bagley for her presentation this week and to Rich Leffler for preparing this review article.  If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch it here:  https://youtu.be/zI899HBa4bI.  

Rotary Council on Legislation Vote Today. Unfortunately PE 16-98 was voted down – see “Update 4/14” below

–submitted by Paul Riehemann


The RI Board released a statement opposition two days ago to our District’s Proposed Enactment 16-98.

We have modified our proposal based on their concerns – details here: ESRAG Open Letter to 2016 Council on Legislation Delegates.

We will keep you posted.

In Service,
Paul Riehemann and Karen Kendrick-Hands, Co-Chairs
Going Green Fellowship Group

Update 4/13, 6:15am from Dean Dickinson, District 6250 CoL Delegate:
I have been advised that with the amendment removing the language from the by-laws that the board will not come to the floor with an opposing statement.

Update 4/13, 2:30pm from Dean:
The Council adjourned for the day before it took up PE 16-98 and will resume at 8:00am tomorrow.  Great comments, keep them coming!!

Update 4/14, 2:45pm from Paul:
Dean just emailed.  He introduced the amended enactment.  Immediately an amendment came to bring back Article 25 to the bylaws and was voted down.  [we don’t understand why this amendment was made, this reversed the change we made Monday based on the RI Board’s Statement in Opposition.]  Immediately a motion came to postpone action on amended Enactment 16-98…this was voted favorable… our efforts came to an end.  [there was NO discussion – disappointing; we know many CoL Delegates wanted to make statements in support.]

Thank you Dean for representing this proposal.  You truly put your heart into it, and we appreciate that.

All Is Not Lost / What’s Next

ESRAG and all Rotarians can of course share information and generate dialogue on issues.  We suggest we all act “as if” PE 16-98 passed.  And, although we really wish it had passed because of the strong statement it would have made, the RI Board’s Statement in Opposition included:

“This legislation is not necessary to allow clubs to take this action. There is no current reason or restriction against clubs supporting environmental concerns. In fact, the Rotary Code of Policies Article 8.040.5. encourages clubs to consider environmental projects as part of their community service.”

Please take the time to read all of the smart and impassioned comments on this blog post.  In just the first 14 hours there were 44 supportive comments from Rotarians.

Rotary.  Proactive.

In the comments, Bruce Key from the Rotary Club of Belvoir-Wodonga in Australia made a critical point (paraphrased below) – being PROACTIVE needs to shape Rotary going forward:

There is no greater issue than climate change.  It is largely pointless for Rotary to be providing support for the victims of weather-related disasters, when such disasters worldwide have increased by 300% since 1980 (see chart), without Rotary also attacking the major cause – climate change.

Weather Related Chart

Stated another way –

Who wants to bale water out of the boat when there is a hole in the boat letting water in faster than we can bale?

Aren’t we smarter than this?

We will keep going – ESRAG’s purpose is too important.

ESRAG Purpose

Please keep adding your comments to this blog post!  Thanks.

P.S. – Dean shared later on that three Resolutions dealing with the environment came to the floor, were discussed and were voted down roughly 40-60.


We are not defined by what happens to us,
we are defined by our reaction and forward progress.

We Stand on the Shoulders of Giants


In 1990, under the leadership of then President Paulo V.C. Costa, RI launched ‘Preserve Planet Earth.’  Its purpose was to encourage 1,000 Rotary clubs to organize 1,000 environmental-awareness events that would provide 1,000 solutions to existing ecological concerns affecting their communities.

The Sustainability Trust (United Kingdom) has been working on environmental issues within Rotary for over eight years.  Kudos to them for their successes and many thanks to Peter Sephton and Peter Moralee for partnering with ESRAG.

ESRAG Update

Twenty-five years after “Preserve Planet Earth’…the ESRAG team (15 Executive Officers from 7 countries) submitted ESRAG’s Application for Recognition in August.  RAG applications require at least 25 prospective members from 5 countries.  We are happy to report that the ESRAG application included 600 prospective members from 55 countries and that close to 100 additional prospective members have joined since August!

    ESRAG’s purpose:  Proactively assist Rotarians in planning, implementing and evaluating service projects, building awareness, and inspiring action  toward environmental sustainability.

The Rotary International Board of Directors is considering our application at their meeting this week and we are anticipating good news on October 23 when we learn the Board’s decision.

Party!  (er… we mean fellowship) will be Wednesday, October 28, after work on the west side – stay tuned where & time.

RI Convention – Seoul, South Korea:  ESRAG Breakout Session?
We hope you are planning on attending the 2016 RI Convention in Seoul South Korea and are happy to report that the Co-chair of the Seoul Convention invited ESRAG to apply to present at a breakout session.  An ESRAG Team has submitted our proposal.  We’ll learn in November if our proposal was accepted.

Let’s Grow!
“RAG Membership is open to Rotarians, their family members as well as participants and alumni of all Rotary and Foundation programs.”  (includes Rotaractors of course)  The more members, the more ‘horsepower’ to make a difference.  By Saturday, October 31, please work to have two or more people join ESRAG HERE – takes less than 1 minute.  When everyone does, we’ll have over 2,000 members…


  • Mary Beth Growney Selene (USA), 2013-2015 RI Board of Directors – wisdom, drive and sharing.
  • Christopher Puttock (USA) for volunteering to be ESRAG Executive Director – buckle in Chris!
  • Gordon Crann (Canada) and the District 7070 Environment Committee for joining forces toward our common goal.

In service,
Paul and Karen
Going Green Co-chairs