Mike Tidwell, Director
Mike Tidwell is founder and director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.. He is also an author and filmmaker who predicted in vivid detail the Katrina hurricane disaster in his 2003 book Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana’s Cajun Coast. His newest book, focusing on Katrina and global warming, is titled The Ravaging Tide: Strange Weather, Future Katrinas, and the Coming Death of America’s Coastal Cities. Tidwell’s most recent documentary film, We Are All Smith Islanders, vividly depicts the dangers of global warming in Maryland, Virginia, and D.C.
Tidwell has been featured in numerous national media outlets including NBC's Meet the Press, NPR, the New York Times, the Baltimore Sun, Politico, and the Washington Post.
In 2003, Tidwell received the Audubon Naturalist Society's prestigious Conservation Award. Two years later he received an honorary Doctorate of Letters from Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana. A long-time resident of Maryland, Tidwell lives in Takoma Park with his wife Beth and son Sasha.
The Latest From Mike Tidwell, Director
This piece by CCAN Director Mike Tidwell, Katie Huffling, Program Director for the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, and Joelle Novey, Director of Interfaith Power and Light, was originially published on DeSmog Blog.
Fifty years ago the US Surgeon General’s report on cigarettes and lung cancer changed America forever. Before the report, Americans generally thought smoking was okay – maybe even good for us given ads like, “More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette!” But then the hard evidence – the undeniable facts – came to the surface and we changed.
That’s the good news. The bad news for Maryland is that we have a new “Camel cigarette” problem. For the past several months, a powerful corporation called Dominion Resources has been telling Marylanders that we can light something else on fire – something called “fracked gas” – and that it will be good for public health and the environment.
I've walked thirty miles across Maryland the past three days in the middle of the worst heat wave of the year. The heat index has soared well above 100 each day, causing the corn fields and forests to shimmer in the distance. My feet, meanwhile, are so tender I've literally begun applying duct tape to the balls of my feet to ward off blisters.
And I couldn't be in higher spirits. Why? Because today I get to do it all over again with 60-70 inspiring climate activists from across the country as part of the "2013 Walk for Our Grandchildren." For eight days, from July 19-27th, we are walking 100 miles from the gates of Camp David -- the presidential retreat in western Maryland -- all the way to the White House. Our goal: Tell President Obama to stop the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and accelerate solutions to global warming.
Already, we've walked through the "green tunnels" of the Catoctin Mountains. We've marched across soybean farms and into towns with one stoplight. We camped one night on a Civil War battlefield. What keeps us going with bandaged feet and evaporating pounds are the stories we hear along the way. We met farmer Shelly Wolf who says the weather in rural Frederick County Maryland is unrecognizable compared to when she and her husband bought their farm 58 years ago. The snow back then would shut down their country road for a week at a time. Now it barely snows. And today it's not just the heat waves but the summer humidity! Insufferable, she says. There was nothing like it during her childhood.
This is one in a series of posts sharing the stories of grandparents, parents and young people who are joining the Walk for Our Grandchildren, July 19th-27th.
This week-long, 100-mile walk will bring an intergenerational message of hope from Camp David to the White House to demand that President Obama reject the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline and confront the growing crisis of climate change. You can join us for a day on the trail, or join walkers and thousands of others for a culminating rally at the White House on July 27th. Click here to learn more and sign up.
Sasha Tidwell is 16 years old now. He is an honor student, an Eagle Scout, and a starting pitcher for his varsity baseball team. Before Sasha was born, I thought I knew what happiness was. I had climbed peaks in the Alps, written three books, and shaken hands with the Dalai Lama. Life was pretty full. Then Sasha was born. It was May 30th, 1997.
At that moment I was lifted onto a cloud of joy – far above the old world below – and I have never come back down. I watched him take his first step, read his first book (Berenstain Bears), ride his first skateboard, and – last week – drive his first car. Through all the skinned knees and book reports and muddy shoes on the carpet, I have always known that being with him and being his father made me the happiest person I could ever be. Life was pretty much perfect.
Except for the sadness. Every day, mixed deeply into the joy, is a sadness: Our climate is changing. The seas are rising. Storms are getting bigger.
We now live in a world of veritable science fiction. Last week, scientists reported that our delicate, life-giving global atmosphere has reached a new level of danger: 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide concentration. There hasn't been this much heat-trapping CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere in at least 3 million years, long before human beings evolved. If there was ever a wake-up-call moment on global warming, a time to become really alarmed, it's now!
What might Hurricane Sandy do to New York City? See excerpts below from my 2006 book The Ravaging Tide: Strange Weather, Future Katrinas, and the Coming Death of America’s Coastal Cities (Simon and Schuster/Free Press). It’s a depressing title meant to help shock us into preventing these worst-case scenarios from coming true via global climate change. But it might now be too late for parts of imperiled New York. As you read, keep in mind that as of Sunday night October 28th, the National Hurricane Center was forecasting that the storm could hit anywhere between Delaware and Rhode Island, with a surge tide as high as 11 feet in some places. Even if New York City avoids a direct strike, it is still facing a potentially “worst-case scenario” in terms of surge tides.
I want the major candidates – Obama, Romney, Kaine, Allen – to explain my homeowners insurance mailing last month. Travelers – that friendly red umbrella company – sent me a terrifying color flier with my bill. It depicted an all-American home (two stories, garage) with ominous storm clouds bearing down on it and a full-blown tornado roaring toward a direct strike. Millions of customers like me got this you-could-be-Dorothy-in-Kansas-soon image under this headline: “How the Property Insurance Marketplace is Evolving.”
Evolving? How? Well, next to the twister about to hit the house, Travelers lists some raw stats on the flier: Federal natural disaster declarations set a record in 2011. Thunderstorms alone cost $25 billion, doubling the previous annual mark. And winter storm losses have almost doubled since the 1980s.
What was the hardest part about pedaling a bike 300 miles from Manhattan to Washington, D.C.? The head winds in central New Jersey certainly weren’t a picnic. The horse poop along Amish country roads was a challenge. Then there were the rain-slippery bridges near St. Peter’s Village, PA and the seemingly endless hills of Maryland’s northern horse country.
But honestly, the rural scenery was so stunningly beautiful all along the way that the hardest part was just knowing that this pastoral east-coast landscape is in danger of disappearing – soon – because of the unfolding calamity of climate change.