Friday, July 17, 2020

Jumping spider in the works

I’m working on a comic about jumping spiders!  Here is a panel, which I will letter later.


Wednesday, June 3, 2020

For the Love of Woman, Man, and Especially Child, Turn Down the Heat


“Many more people are beginning to grasp that the fight is not for some abstraction called “the earth.”  We are fighting for our lives.  And we don't have twelve years anymore; now we have only eleven.  And soon it will be just ten.”  —Naomi  Klein, On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal, 2019


I made this drawing for a friend in California.  She regularly has nightmares about climate change and awakens in a sweat to visions of raging wildfires.  She cries about climate change, in despair about  protecting her 3-year-old daughter from its consequences.


The dizzying pace of climate catastrophe has made it difficult for me to write a piece to accompany my illustration.  The inferno California wildfire season in 2019 provided much of the impetus for my image.  Then I learned that California has already had at least 1,506 wildfires in 2020.  I had planned to write about the bushfires of Australia in the summer of 2019, when the world gasped at the heart-wrenching scenes of kangaroos fleeing the flames in successive bounds and koalas wrapped in bandages after getting torched.  Then a quick web search revealed that the bushfires had continued into January 2020 (March in some locales).  There was so much smoke in Sydney in December 2019 that their air quality was 12 times the “hazardous” level.  Now, as the world's attention is focused on the Coronavirus pandemic, 2020 is on pace to be the warmest year in history and the western U.S. faces megadrought, quite possibly the worst in 1200 years.  Much of Africa deals with its worst swarms of desert locusts in 70 years.  The locusts devour crops like wildfires do trees.  They thrive in a warmer world.  So do mosquitoes—the deadliest animals on Earth, for their power to spread malaria, yellow fever, and other diseases.


And if we don't take drastic action, this dizzying pace will dramatically accelerate.  According to some models, the Earth’s climate will warm by 4.3 degrees Celsius by 2100 under a business-as-usual scenario.  Journalist David Wallace-Wells summarized predictions by climate scientists for this overheated future in his book The Uninhabitable Earth.  He said, “In a four-degree warmer world, the earth's ecosystem will boil with so many natural disasters that we will just start calling them “weather”: out-of-control typhoons and tornadoes and floods and droughts, the planet assaulted regularly with climate events that not so long ago destroyed whole civilizations.”  Among Wallace-Wells's most frightening passages are those about heat waves: “Since 1980, the planet has experienced a fiftyfold increase in the number of dangerous heat waves; a bigger increase is to come.”  In a four-degree warmer world, “the deadly European heat wave of 2003, which killed as many as 2,000 people a day, will be a normal summer.”  Due to physical limits to the human body’s tolerance to heat and humidity, parts of South Asia and the Middle East are on course to becoming unlivable by the time a child born today turns about 55.


I stayed home for the fiftieth Earth Day on April 22, 2020, showing due diligence to the social distancing order from the governor of New Mexico.  It was hard to miss taking part in mass gatherings for this historic and momentous day.  Nonetheless, the legacy of the first Earth Day in 1970—when 20 million people (including my mother) partook in rallies and marches—lives on.  Earth Day co-founder Senator Gaylord Nelson's words still ring true: “Our goal is not just an environment of clean air and water and scenic beauty.  The objective is an environment of decency, quality and mutual respect for all other human beings and all other living creatures.”


My lofty hope is that the lessons of the Pandemic will prompt us to passionately strive for such an environment.  Our response to the Pandemic and the resultant Great Depression 2.0 has been mixed.  There have been plenty of insanely rich individuals using this disaster to enhance their wealth at the expense of everyone else, following the disaster capitalism model articulated by Naomi Klein.  And yet, national and state governments have made proposals and taken actions for the common good, many unthinkable in the pre-Covid-19 world. 


The slowing of the world's economy due to Covid-19 has caused an estimated 5% drop in carbon emissions for 2020.  This is nowhere even remotely close to the drop needed to stave off the worst effects of climate change, and we obviously do not want to attempt to save the climate by wrecking people's lives and livelihoods.  Generally, the Covid-19 lockdown has not had a major impact on humankind’s long-term ecological footprint.  This indicates the magnitude of the task ahead of us.  We need an ambitious Green New Deal to remake our infrastructure and agriculture to work in harmony with the Earth.  The law professor Jedediah Britton-Purdy explains:


“Why a politics of infrastructure?  Because the world makes hypocrites of us all. There are at least 2,000 tons of infrastructure for every human being—things like roads, buildings, pipelines, and cables. We tap into it for everything we do: getting to work, being with family, finding food, staying warm. As a species, we would hardly exist without this technological exoskeleton. It determines our ecological impact much more than individual choices can. I can choose my route through the city, but the city itself determines my carbon emissions.” 


Luckily, we have the opportunity to refashion our infrastructure for sustainability.  For example, on the energy front, a study by Finnish and German researchers concluded that the world can transition to 100% renewable power by 2050 and create 36 million jobs in the process.  We have the technological knowhow.  The question is whether we have the political will to implement it on a massive scale.


Given the combined crises of Great Depression 2.0 and the climate emergency, a Green New Deal which includes a just transition should be the issue that unites the American left.  In the past few years, the left has begun to unite to face climate change.  Much has changed in between the televised Democratic primary debates for the 2016 election and those for the 2020 election.  For 2016, when asked by a debate moderator about the greatest threat facing humanity, Senator Bernie Sanders was the only candidate who answered with climate change.  When the same question was posed for 2020, many of the other candidates agreed with Sanders.  For 2016, climate change received fewer than six minutes of air time.  For 2020, the candidates participated in a seven-hour climate town hall, a two-day climate forum hosted by MSNBC, and a Weather Channel special.  The international environmental group Greenpeace analyzed the climate action plans of the 2020 candidates and awarded letter grades.  Senator Sanders scored highest with an A, but even Vice President Joe Biden eventually earned a B+.  (Greenpeace awarded a D- to the climate plan that Biden had in April 2019.  After popular news media trumpeted this low score, Biden quickly replaced his initial plan with a more ambitious one.)


Throughout all this, the Republican party led by President Donald Trump continues to deny that anthropogenic climate change is real—an unscientific position on par with saying that the Earth is flat or that viruses don't exist.  The general election is on November 2, 2020.  If we want to prevent the horrific predictions of climate science from coming true, we must vote the Republicans out.  Then use every tool in the toolbox to pressure Democrats to deliver a massive Green New Deal.  When I volunteer to get out the vote, I will be thinking of my friend's daughter, and all the children I know.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Gojira on the beach



Happy Halloween, everyone! My housemates Max and Gabe bought this print of a palm beach sunset for $3 at an auction to support the Pecos Valley Grotto. To give some irradiated life to this beach scene, I painted in Godzilla, King of the Monsters! He now stands proudly on our mantle, risen from the sea and with an appetite for destruction. Artwork © me, Godzilla TM Toho Studios.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

New Comic Book: Follow The Moon, for sale on Etsy



A wise grandmother sea turtle gathers a crew of young mother turtles on the beach, and shares the story of how their kind came to be.  She tells the misadventures of a mischievous land turtle, who learns the hard way about the importance of following the Moon. 

This story was originally published in the anthology Oh Comics! #27: Moon by Back Porch Comics, 2019. I republished it as this mini-comic, which debuted at ABQ Zine Fest 9, in Albuquerque, NM.

This story is partly inspired by my grandmother, Evelyn Wood Moyle, who, in her elder years, frequently told a story about a bird dropping a turtle on her rooftop!

8.5" by 5.5"
8 pages
black and white

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Come see me at ABQ Zine Fest 9



Evidence that comics by me are popular! :)  ABQ Zine Fest 9 will be my singular convention appearance for this year.  Saturday, October 5, 2019, 11 AM - 5 PM.  National Hispanic Cultural Center, 1701 4th St SW, Albuquerque, NM 87102.  Come see me if you can! #ABQZF9, #ABQZineFest

Friday, September 20, 2019

Guest author Raven fights for a habitable earth for her daughter


The Sea is Rising and So Are We

A parent finding hope in a time of climate crisis

by Raven Shade Brookner

Ever since I became a mother, I have been deeply troubled by the horrors of the world in a way I never was before. Before I had my daughter I could easily avoid the news, avoid processing the ills that are often too much for a sensitive person to bear.

When I was in college, majoring in Environmental Studies, I found out about climate change. I can’t forget the way I found out. It’s one thing to hear about it in an abstract way, to read about far away sea level rise, melting icebergs you have never seen or cared about, and imagine this danger will happen after your lifetime. But one particularly descriptive textbook captured the predictions of famine, drought, plague, extreme natural disasters, inescapable heat waves, and pestilence in raw detail. The timeline for extreme damage to begin (2050) was not something I could rationalize away. In response to this information, my eyes went wide, I was scared, shocked, and then… at some point I just kind of shut it away. I let it go, compartmentalized it to an area of my brain reserved for wars, mass shootings, and other disturbing information, so I could move on with my day to day.

Once I had my daughter, those timelines came rushing back. I knew I was bringing a child into a world that wasn’t safe, wasn’t guaranteed—and yes, those are facts for any new parent at any point in history. What makes this different is the scope. We can’t guarantee any life will be fully lived; people die all the time, and all we can do is enjoy our time, be our best selves, and try to minimize suffering by loving each other as best as we are able along the way. But, the now very realistic possibility that our entire species may become extinct in the course of my daughter’s lifetime—the heavy burden on our collective psyches as we head toward the collapse of the ecosystem that allows us to survive—is almost unbearable. It is now highly likely that if this isn’t addressed, we may literally not have enough oxygen to breathe, let alone food and water, by the end of my daughter’s life. I have awoken to nightmares of raging wildfires. I feel like the canary in the coal mine; as life continues on as normal for most people, I struggle to find a sense of calm.

It isn’t my style to proselytize. It’s generally ineffective and counterproductive. I also respect that people are wherever they happen to be upon their own paths, and I don’t like the conflict of political debates. However, I am choosing to make myself vulnerable at this point, about something I feel is worth it. I am doing this because I feel I have to do something and that what I’m doing, while significant, isn’t enough.

I am choosing to reject that fatalist attitude that is so prevalent surrounding climate change. Everywhere I look online, in the comments section, what I hear from people around me is that we’re doomed. It’s too little, too late. You can’t convince them all. Even if we change, they won’t, so why bother? But it is my belief that we shouldn’t go down without a fight, and that however small of a chance we have to mitigate the damage we have already incurred, it is still a chance, it is still possible. We stopped slavery. We pulled away from the tobacco industry. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring stopped pesticide use that was killing insects and birds en masse. We have so many problems; we have so much corruption, but we also have a history of making change. These are small victories compared to what we now face, but the point stands that when people come together, when we say we’re done and demonstrate that with our actions, as a group we can change our fate. We need a radical Green New Deal yesterday. We need a new president with an aggressive plan to combat climate change, in spite of the filibuster that blocks progress in the Senate. We have to stop using fossil fuels. While we do need politicians, lawyers and new infrastructure, I am not content to do nothing while we wait around for other people to solve our problems and clean up our mess. Parents, children and families need to stop it, without waiting for permission. We need to demand change, and risk everything—in order to avoid losing everything. It is the greatest existential threat humanity has ever or will ever face and there is no later, there is only now.

There is so much we can do. My family drives a fully electric vehicle. We shop locally at farmers' markets and in the bulk section. We live in a very small, beautiful home. We plan to keep our family size small. We have gone zero waste, and reject all plastic products unless there really is no acceptable alternative. We eat a plant based diet. We buy non-toxic products made from sustainable materials. We buy less and make more. We started a garden and a compost pile. We offset our carbon use online. We are starting to be more vocal. It hasn’t been easy to change, but it has been rewarding and gratifying to do something. There have been so many unexpected benefits to a lifestyle built around less consumption, like more quality time together, better health, more beauty and more meaning in our lives. Before dismissing these tasks as something you can’t do, consider we were equally convinced we couldn’t do it before we started, and now it’s just what we do. We did one thing at a time, in a positive feedback loop, encouraged by our successes. Lastly, we all have to be activists. I am inspired to see young activists like Greta Thunberg leading acts of civil disobedience. We have to use our unique talents to reach as many people as possible; we have to vote; we have to march; we have to sound the alarm; we have to have hope.




Ross comments: In addition to Raven's suggestions for fighting climate change, I will add: divest from fossil fuels. This means choosing financial institutions, credit cards, and stocks that will not invest your money in fossil fuels. There is no way to completely avoid using fossil fuels in the civilization of 2019. However, investing in fossil fuels is another matter. Investments in fossil fuels are bets that our civilization continues to be powered by fossil fuels far into the future. Such investments work against a rapid transition to renewable energy. Banks like Wells Fargo, J. P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, and Citigroup invest billions in companies that are aggressively expanding fossil fuel infrastructure. From the Dakota Access Pipeline to fracking to mountaintop removal coal mining, these banks have oil and methane and coal and blood on their hands. Luckily, alternatives to these climate-wrecking giants do exist! Many local banks and credit unions do not invest in fossil fuels. Several years ago, after attending some divestment rallies in Asheville, North Carolina, I got rid of my checking account at Chase Bank and replaced it with one at HomeTrust Bank, a local company which does not fund new fossil fuel infrastructure projects. I obtained a Sierra Club Visa and made it my primary credit card. The Sierra Club Visa is one of several types of earth-friendly credit cards available through Beneficial State Bank; these cards fund environmental causes instead of climate-disrupting energy sources. I still have more work to do to fully divest from fossil fuels, but these were important steps, and they were surprisingly easy. Beyond divesting your own money, the next step is to pressure cities, universities, and financial institutions to do the same. In recent years, many institutions—including Georgetown University, the City of Seattle, and the European Union Investment Bank—have committed to divest from fossil fuels, in response to public pressure.

When I attended the Forward on Climate Rally in Washington D.C. in 2013, featured speaker Bill McKibben told the crowd, “you are the antibodies kicking in as the planet tries to fight its fever.” Although the fever is ferocious, the antibodies are stronger and more numerous than ever. The stakes are daunting, but the battle is not over. 



Essay, comment, and illustration copyrighted to their respective authors.
To learn more about saving the climate, 350.org is a good place to start.
#climatestrike, #climateaction, #climatechange, #globalwarming, #science, #nature, #environment, #action, #carbon, #GND, #climatestrike2019 #grettathunberg #sunrisemovement #loveyourmother #fridaysforfuture

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Junior Bat Biologist

Allow me to present Junior Bat Biologist, an all-ages educational activity book, which I had the special honor of contributing to over at that place I work, Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Many park rangers put a whole lot of work and love into this book, with culminating efforts happening in 2018 and 2019. My heartfelt thanks goes to Toni Gould Nelson for roping me into this project. It’s a thrill when we get to make the office into an art studio. We’ll receive our first stack of print copies in August, and you can download the PDF here: https://www.nps.gov/cave/learn/kidsyouth/upload/Junior-Bat-Biologist-reduced-file-size.pdf. Learn the way of the bat!



NPS illustration by yours truly, public domain