Climate Change Author–Barbara Kingsolver, Urban Tilth, The Center For Earth Ethics, Using Lake Geneva To Cool…Geneva!

by | Mar 9, 2022 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Climate change author, Barbara Kingsolver, plus Urban Tilth. The Center for Earth Ethics, and using Lake Geneva to cool…Geneva!



Doing research on the International Transformation Resilience Coalition led me across the path of The Center for Earth Ethics. It’s a forum for education, public discourse and movement building that draws on faith and wisdom traditions to address our ecological crisis and its root causes.

Founded in 2015 and housed at New York City’s Union Theological Seminary, the Center for Earth Ethics has a vision of a world where value is measured according to the sustained well-being of all people and the planet. The Center operates four programs to achieve its aims. They are Eco-Ministry, Environmental Justice and Civic Engagement, Original Caretakers as well as Sustainability and Global Affairs.

Eco-ministry creates educational opportunities and dialog regarding the relationship of human beings and the rest of the natural world. Its specific focus is on seminary students, faith leaders and local communities. Environmental Justice and Civic Engagement is a program designed to work at the intersectionality of social inequity and climate injustice. Think “overburdened communities.”

The Original Caretakers program supports amplifying and transferring Indigenous knowledge and traditions around the natural world and confronting climate change. It also addresses the Indigenous spiritual aspects toward human-made climate change.

Sustainability and Global Affairs is all about engaging with policy-makers and other leaders in civil society to establish new, circular, economic development goals based upon long-term wellbeing of all life on Earth, and founded on wisdom from faith and Indigenous traditions.

The Center for Earth Ethics has a blog. Check it out at, or click on the links in the Deeper Dive Section of

DEEPER DIVE: CFEE, Mona Polacca, William J. Barber, III



Urban Tilth’s executive director Doris Robinson, says “As humans, we have to re-evaluate our priorities and re-center our culture -including our economies- around what matters most which I believe is the quality of life for all people and the planet.”

This mindset is at the heart of how the Urban Tilth approaches building a more sustainable, healthy and local food system. Says Robinson, “I am not convinced that even under climate change, there will be a lack of actual food, but there will be even more unequal distribution of and access to food.”

Working with seven Richmond, California-area schools, local  community gardens and small urban farms, Urban Tilth employs community members and teaches them to grow, distribute, cook, and finally consume that local produce. Their work is also concerned with building resilience among frontline communities, defined as communities that will face the brunt of the effects of climate change and increasingly frequent and extreme weather events.

Urban Tilth supports youth through its Urban Agriculture Academy (UAA) at Richmond High School. It’s a year-long accredited course, serving 30 Richmond youth each year since 2010. It also offers a Summer Apprentice Program. According to its website, local youth join a dynamic and positive group of their peers for a life-changing summer of intensive urban agriculture training, community engagement, mind-opening field trips, and paid summer employment.

By the end of the apprentice program, among other things, youth will be able to identify invasive, native and edible plants species, install and plan simple drip irrigation systems and run a farmer’s market stand and learn about small business management. Why does Urban Tilth matter to us? The work of Urban Tilth matters because the community structure they’ve built is an important and effective model for other communities to follow.

DEEPER DIVE:  Urban Tilth, Sierra Club, Cooperation Richmond, Our Power



Barbara Kingsolver just may be the most prolific writer you never heard of. At least that was the case for me before one of our listeners, Penny Southgate from Bristol, England, hipped me to Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior. The novel is a heady exploration of climate change, along with media exploitation and political opportunism that lie at the root of what may be our most urgent modern dilemma.

15 million monarch butterflies that have come to roost on the Turnbow property in Feathertown, Tenn. — woods soon to be clear-cut by loggers in order to meet a looming balloon payment, if shortsighted Papa “Bear” Turnbow has his way.

The butterflies have gone off course from their normal wintering site in Mexico because of pollution and climate change, and it’s questionable whether they can survive the cold this far north. Freakish, ruinous rains, flooding and unexpected snowstorms provide a sinister backdrop to Kingsolver’s absorbing tale.

With a scientist’s attention to detail and a writer’s compassion for a diverse array of people, Flight Behavior tracks a young woman whose life morphs and takes flight just as she learns about the very real problems of the world in which she’s spread her new wings.

Set in Appalachia, a region to which Kingsolver has returned often in both her acclaimed fiction and nonfiction, its suspenseful narrative traces the unforeseen impact of global concerns on the ordinary citizens of a rural community. As environmental, economic, and political issues converge, the residents of Feathertown, Tennessee, are forced to come to terms with their changing place in the larger world.

DEEPER DIVE: BarbaraKingsolver, NPR



Using geothermal energy to heat and cool buildings is a well-established concept. But did you know you can also do the same with deep lake water? It’s called hydrothermal technology, and they’re using it in Geneva, Switzerland under the guise of The GeniLac project.

Conceived in 2004 and  launched in 2009, the idea behind the project is simple. Water from Lake Geneva is drawn from a depth of about 150 feet. At that depth the water temperature stays constant all year round. The water is then pumped into an underground reservoir on land where it enters a system of pipes. For cooling, the water goes through a heat exchanger. For heating, the water goes into a heat pump. The cold or hot water is then piped through buildings before returning to the lake. 

Six thousand cubic meters of water are pumped from the lake every hour. That’s over 200,000 cubic feet or 1.5 million gallons. The GeniLac project aims to replace oil and gas-powered air conditioning and heating systems with alternative water powered systems.

By 2035 the aim is to pump six times the current amount of water. The hope is to connect over 350 buildings to the system.Why does the GeniLac project matter to us? Its success proves the viability of deep lake hydrothermal technology, offering deep lakeside communities a viable, net-zero heating and cooling alternative. Also, the closed-loop system of hydrothermal technology keeps the water clean, is highly sustainable and, when used in conjunction with alternative energy to power the various pumps in the system provide 100% net-zero heating and cooling.

The project is moving beyond Geneva. Through funding from the European Commission’s CONCERTO initiative, the hydrothermal system has been rolled out to other areas. 

DEEPER DIVE:  House of Switzerland, Swiss Info, Science Direct