It’s Important to Talk to Your Kids About the Climate Crisis

3 hours 30 minutes ago

The climate crisis can be a challenging topic to discuss – especially with younger children.

That’s why it’s so important for parents to understand that in many places, climate change is sometimes not taught in schools at all, just skimmed over, or presented as a theory rather than a fact or as an ongoing scientific debate with two equal and opposing sides.

Which often means the parent or caregiver has to be the first line of defense in their child’s climate education.

Read on for some quick tips on how to get started making sure your child is age-appropriately engaged in conversations about climate change, its impact on the future of the planet, and what they can do to be part of the solution.

AT SCHOOL

Get to know your school’s approach to climate science education. And be sure to advocate loudly in your community for science instruction that includes robust, standards-based curricula on climate change.

“Parents can play a strong role, climate education advocates say, in facilitating the adoption of those standards and development of robust curricula in their states and states across the country,” according to Yale Climate Connections. “Supportive parents also can stand up for teachers who may face political pressures or resistance from parents, the community, and even other teachers and administration, within the school.”

AT HOME

Be sure to turn as much as you can into a teaching experience.

If you’re lucky enough to be able to travel, consider taking your kids to see places and things that you can turn into a climate discussion. For example, few things can bring home the magnitude and power of the ocean better than seeing it – and with the waters lapping against the shore, a quick discussion of sea-level rise may feel more concrete.

As you make energy efficient upgrades to your home – right down to swapping out your old lightbulbs – make sure you’re telling your kids why you’re doing it. The same goes for other everyday things you do to lead a more climate-friendly life, from keeping the thermostat set at a reasonable temperature to buying local produce at the farmers market.

Modeling and discussing these smaller behavior changes for your kids can go a long way toward instilling a strong sense of personal responsibility for the planet as well as helping to make the larger climate solutions we need seem infinitely more achievable.

TAKING THE NEXT STEP

Learn more about how to begin the climate discussion with your child, the appropriate information to share for their stage of cognitive development, and how to play to their existing interests to make your conversations on this important-but-sometimes overwhelming (and occasionally a little scary) topic productive and useful with our free e-book, Beginning the Climate Conversation: A Family’s Guide.

Kids today will face the challenges of a warming world head-on. And as a parent, guardian, and/or caregiver, you have a responsibility to do your best to make sure they’re ready.

Download our free e-book to learn more about how to get started today.

When your child grows up into a responsible, compassionate adult who cares as much about the future of the planet as you do, you’ll be glad you started the conversation.

climate changeclimate crisiskidschildrenEducationschoolhomeefficiencyebookThe Climate Reality Project7 Effects of Climate Change You’re Already SeeingA Dose of Reality: How Climate Change Affects Our Kids, Straight from a Pediatrician3 Tips from the Experts: How to Talk about the Climate Crisis EffectivelyLead: Many parents and caregivers may be uncomfortable and believe it best to leave climate discussions to school science teachers. That’s fair and understandable – and in a perfect world, it would be ideal.facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/important-talk-your-kids-about-climate-crisis?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=generalEmail Subject: It’s Important to Talk to Your Kids About the Climate CrisisTwitter URL: https://bit.ly/2ZyA4PS
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Making Home Solar Happen: Financing and Installation

1 day 3 hours ago

You’ve made the decision to go solar. You’ve determined that your house is a great fit for a home solar panel system. The next step is figuring out who you’ll get to install it – and how you’re going to pay for it.

Luckily, for part two in our home solar series, we have a few great tips for the former – and there are plenty of options for the latter.

You’ll want to begin investigating these two things (financing and installation) in concert for one big reason: The installation company you decide to work with may have a financing product available.

Think about it like a car dealership – if you go to one to buy a car, you can also often get financing through the dealer. But also like a car dealership, you don’t have to do it that way. We’re just saying that since the two go hand-in-hand, you should consider investigating them that same way, which will help you in figuring out the best path forward for you.

But first up, we’re going to start with some very good news:

Many states offer homeowners who install solar panels on their homes incentives to do so. These range from lower-interest loans and grants to tax credits, but the exact details of these incentives vary from state to state. You’ll need to research your own state’s incentive program to see what you qualify for.

There is, however, a big incentive at the federal level for everyone in the US – the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC). The ITC has been instrumental in the successful expansion of home solar.

“The ITC is a 30 percent tax credit for solar systems on residential (under Section 25D) and commercial (under Section 48) properties,” according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “The residential and commercial solar ITC has helped annual solar installation grow by over 1,600 percent since the ITC was implemented in 2006 – a compound annual growth rate of 76 percent.”

There’s a catch, though (isn’t there always with taxes?): To get the full 30 percent tax credit, a project must begin this year. For home solar projects begun in 2020, the credit steps down to 26 percent. It drops to 22 percent for installations begun in 2021.

Now, on to your options for funding your home solar project.

>> Click here to get an alert when the next blog in our home solar series publishes.<<

HOW TO PAY FOR IT

Right up top, we have to state the obvious: If you plan to stay in your home for a while and have the ability to pay for your home solar system with cash, doing so will bring you the greatest and quickest return on investment. You’ll begin to experience energy savings and lower utility bills immediately – and as soon as they add up to cover the cost of the investment, you’ll go on to reap the benefits of likely decades of nothing-but-net utility savings.

If, like most people, you’re not quite able to do that, no problem. There are many other financing options. Here’s a quick overview:

Solar Loans

Solar loans are similar to most other home improvement loans used to complete upgrades or renovations, like re-doing your kitchen or bathroom.

However, there’s one major financial benefit that solar loans have over traditional home equity-type loans: with a solar panel loan, you’re purchasing an asset that also generates financial value. Over the lifetime of your system, you’ll save anywhere from 40 to 70 percent on electricity costs (versus doing nothing) – which kind of makes you want to ask your kitchen renovation, “What have you done for me lately?”

It’s important to note here that to qualify for the ITC mentioned above, you need to own your system outright. By funding your solar panels with a loan, you’ll do just that. If you lease your system (more on that below), you won’t be able to get any tax breaks or other incentives since you don’t own the system.

These loans can be obtained from a variety of sources, including banks and even some solar installers.

Learn more about solar loans here:
 


Solar Leasing

For those without the up-front capital to buy a panel system outright or if you’re unable to secure a solar loan, leasing your home solar panels is a great option.

With a lease, a third party owner will install your solar panels and you’ll pay a fixed monthly lease payment, as part of “an agreement with the solar leasing company that entitles you to the benefits of the system (i.e., the energy that the solar panels generate) for the term of the contract, which is generally around 20 years,” according to EnergySage.

Another benefit: Most leases include maintenance. If you own your system and something goes wrong, you’re responsible for getting it repaired (luckily, solar panels are very dependable, rarely experience technical problems, and typically come with long-term warranties). If you lease your panels, you can call your provider. But since you don’t own them, you won’t be able to get the tax breaks or other state-level rebates mentioned above.

Power Purchase Agreements (PPA)

PPAs are very, very similar to solar leases. But there’s one important difference: With a PPA, you agree to purchase the power generated by the system at a set per-kWh price, rather than pay a fixed monthly rent for the system itself. So you pay for the electricity you use, kind of the way you already do with your utility company, except it’s solar and produced on-site.

But just like a lease, you don’t own the system and will contact the leasing company for maintenance. Also like a lease, when your agreement ends, you can buy the system outright, leave it in place and renew the agreement, or have the leasing company remove it.

CHOOSING A SOLAR INSTALLER

Now that we’ve got you thinking about exactly how you’ll finance your leap to solar energy, it’s time to start thinking about who will make your dream a reality.

But where to start?

Choosing the right solar installer can be challenging. Should the installer be licensed and insured? Should I get quotes from multiple installers? What about references? Do I ask for those too?

Yes. Yes. And yes.

Like you would with any other home improvement project, it’s important to do your research and shop around. This typically begins online with a little background digging. As the conversation transfers to the real world, here are 10 big questions you should ask prospective installers*:

  • Is your company properly licensed or certified and insured? (It should be.)
  • Is your company familiar with local permitting and interconnection processes? (They better be.)
  • Do you have experience working with my utility company? (In a perfect world, you’d like for them to.)
  • How long have you been in business? (The importance here is subjective, but knowing is important. Every new business needs customers to get off the ground, and supporting new solar business is vital to the growth of the industry. But if they are a newer installer, that may impact the number of references they can provide, the timeline of the project, and more.)
  • Can your company provide references from other customers in the area? (The correct answer here should also be yes.)
  • What is the warranty for your solar systems? (Most solar energy systems require little to no maintenance and often run without any problems for decades, but your installer should still have repair and replacement procedures in place in the – again, very unlikely – event that a problem does occur.)
  • How much will I have to pay up-front? (Solar offers and payment structures vary significantly from one installer to the next. But you should know that there are many loan, lease, and PPA options out there where you pay $0 down, as well as “in-between” plans allowing you to pay some amount up-front to save more down the road.)
  • If there are any problems with the system, who should I contact? (Ideally, this will be the installer themselves or an established, contracted repair service. But much like the question above about warranties, the point here is that in the unlikely event of a problem, there is a system in place to fix it.)
  • Does the company offer a production guarantee? (A production guarantee assures you are getting the amount of electricity you were promised by your solar installer. This is a great thing.)
  • Is there a fee for breaking the lease/contract (if applicable) early, say, because I need to move for work? (There are often fees for breaking a variety of leases, from vehicles to apartment rentals, and with solar that sometimes means paying the remainder of the lease if, for example, the person buying your home does not agree to take over the lease. So this is more of a “you need to know the terms” than a “there should or shouldn’t be one” type of question.)

*This list is not meant to be exhaustive. Make sure you do thorough research on your solar installer, check the company’s rating with the Better Business Bureau, and do your best to talk to others – especially those in your area, since solar regulations vary from place to place! – about their experiences with solar installation. For further detailed questions to ask about the solar installation process, visit EnergySage.

>> Making Home Solar Happen: Do Panels Make Sense for My Home? <<

At the end of the day, only you can know what solar financing option will work best for you and your family, and exactly what you need in an installer. But just like the car dealer we mentioned above, you should do your very best to seek out competent professionals – as well as people you actually want to be in business with over the long-term.

Financing and installation are easily the most involved parts of the home solar process. But once they are sorted out, you’re in the home stretch.

Now, all that’s left is turning your system on – though, there’s a bit more to understand there too, including what net metering may mean for you – and keeping your panels up to snuff.

Excited to learn more?

If you want to be the first to get an alert when part three in our home solar series, Making Home Solar Happen: Flipping the Switch and Maintaining Your System, goes live, sign up here.

*/ climate changeclimate crisishome solarsolarsolar energyfinancingloansleasespower purchase agreementsPPAinstallerThe Climate Reality ProjectHow Do We Know Humans Are Causing Climate Change?Is Natural Gas a Fossil Fuel?The Green New Deal Should Be On Wheels Lead: Check out part two in our Making Solar Happen blog series, dealing with solar financing options and what you should look for in a home solar installer. (And be sure to sign up to be the first to get an alert when part three goes live.)facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/making-home-solar-happen-financing-and-installation?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=generalEmail Subject: Making Home Solar Happen: Financing and InstallationTwitter URL: https://bit.ly/2VVXGM4
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Young Climate Activists To Follow On Twitter

6 days 1 hour ago

When did kids become so smart?

For months they’ve been stepping out of school and charging the streets with signs at hand. Not to convince people that climate change is real. (That’s a given.) They’re marching to demand that global leaders act on climate before it’s too late

After all, their future is on the line.

We’re already seeing the effects of rising global temperatures – from severe heatwaves to an uptick in tropical diseases. If adults continue to stumble on solutions, the next generation will live in an even warmer and harsher planet.

Understandably, young people are not staying silent. They’re creating a buzz for climate action – both online and offline. To keep up with the conversation, we’ve created a list of 20 young activists on Twitter.

We’ve highlighted four of them below – but make sure to read on for the full list!

Greta Thunberg

At first glance, Greta Thunberg looks like a normal 15-year-old – blue sneakers, long side braids, and a chunky backpack. But let us tell you, there’s nothing ordinary about her. The young activist has inspired an entire generation to stand up for climate action. The resulting movement, Fridays for Future, has brought a much-needed sense of urgency to the conversations around climate change. Follow Greta on Twitter to see what she’s up to. (Spoiler: She was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize).
 

On the train to the EU Parliament, the Italian Senate, the Vatican and House of Parliament during the Easter holiday. And on Friday I’ll participate in the school strike in Rome. I know it’s a holiday but since the climate crisis doesn’t go on vacation nor will we.#Climatestrike pic.twitter.com/b1dBcSYBxb

— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) April 14, 2019


Jerome Foster II

He may be young, but Jerome Foster II is a powerful voice in the digital world. The 16-year-old is an active supporter of climate action, environmental justice, and civil rights on social media. He also co-founded The Climate Reporter, a blog where climate activists can share news, personal stories, campaigns, and events. He was part of the youth panel at our recent Atlanta Climate Reality Leadership Corps training– and we haven’t been able to look away from his Twitter feed ever since.
 

Hi, my name is Jerome Foster II, I am a climate change activist. I am the founder and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Climate Reporter. I am an intern for Congressman John Lewis, a Climate Reality Leader and member of Zero Hour.

Quote this tweet telling me who you are.

— Jerome Foster II (@JeromeFosterII) April 5, 2019


Jamie Margolin

Activist Jamie Margolin was shocked by the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and appalled by the inadequate response to the victims. Her anger motivated her to launch This is Zero Hour, propelling a new wave of youth climate activism across the globe. A self-proclaimed “proud Hispanic lesbian,” the 17-year-old has since become a leading voice for climate justice on Twitter. (Did we mention Jamie is a Climate Reality Leader? We’re so proud!)
 

My magic crystal ball predicts irreversible climate disaster unless we #ActOnClimate NOW! pic.twitter.com/gZpVt37kd0

— Jamie Margolin (@Jamie_Margolin) March 25, 2019


Leah Namugerwa

It’s hard to ignore climate change when your country is experiencing prolonged drought, desertification, food insecurity, and economic instability. The harsh impacts of the climate crisis in Uganda have driven students to speak up for urgent change. Among them is 14-year-old organizer Leah Namugerwa, who has inspired the entire world thanks to her tweets. In her own words: “I am too young to vote but I’m not too young to make a positive difference.”
 

Government has blocked our #ClimateStrike for tomorrow yet we wrote to them in time & followed all procedures. In Uganda one needs to be cleared by police before doing any public event of more than 20 people. I am sad but I won't give up. We'll do to it our way @GretaThunberg pic.twitter.com/uJ5cERySrw

— Leah Namugerwa (@NamugerwaLeah) March 14, 2019


Here’s the full list * of our favorite young climate activists to follow on Twitter with their bios (in no particular order – they all have a place in our hearts):

1. Greta Thunberg

@GretaThunberg

16 year old climate activist with Asperger

2. Jerome Foster II

@JeromeFosterII

Intern for @RepJohnLewis • Founder of The Climate Reporter @ReportOnClimate and TAU VR • #ReportOnClimate • he/him/his • Environmental Activist • DMs Open

3. Jamie Margolin

@Jamie_Margolin

Founder of @thisiszerohour • author • Colombiana • #ClimateJustice Activist & Organizer • student • Future POTUS • @youthvgov • #glg

4. Leah Namugerwa

@NamugerwaLeah

14 Y.O #ClimateChange activist and #FridaysForFuture striker with @Fridays4FutureU #KeepMamaAfricaGreen

5. Oscar Alateras

@AlaterasOscar

Young climate activist and passionate writer

6. Haven Coleman

@havenruthie

Co Executive Director of @USclimatestrike • Organizer, Activist, Speaker • 13 • She/Her • /mom

7. Juan David Giraldo

@JuanDav63205459

Un día tomándome un cafecito en Quindío decidí levantarme a luchar por el país, ¡para volver a disfrutar del café colombiano con más tranquilidad!

8. Lily Levin

@lilylevin_

good trouble. she/her. blm.

9. Gav 

@GJ_Pierce

Young genderqueer climate activist fighting for an inhabitable future. (They/She)

10. isra hirsi

@israhirsi

is your activism intersectional? || @mnhsdemocrats || @mncantwait || @mfolmn ||co exec director @usclimatestrike || she/her

11. Sachin Thapa

@sachinthapa050

G R E E N I E Climate Nerd @commonh050 Environmental Justice  #SDG13 Keep Hope Alive!

12. anna grace

@queenbeetheag

16yeard old youth climate activist | Friday’s for future mn | mn can’t wait | us climate strikes | climate queens co founder

13. Alexandria Villaseñor

@AlexandriaV2005

13 year old #ClimateJustice Activist & Organizer. Latina. She/her. Text YOUTH to 917-310-5275. DM's open.

14. kawika 

@KawikaPegram

Let’s do all we can to make the world a better place | @usclimatestrike Hawai’i State Lead | *insert rest of brag list here*

15. Nadia Nazar

@nadiabaltimore

Artist & Environmentalist Co-Founder, Co-Executive Director, & Art Director of @ThisIsZeroHour #ThisIsZeroHour I like blue whales she/her

16. Robin Jullian

@RobinJullian

16 years old, developer and climate activist with Asperger. I'm a dreamer who work hard to save the world Co-Founder of @positron_net #FridaysForFuture

17. zayne on climate strike

@zaynecowie

9 y.o. New Yorker striking for climate at NYCityHall #FridaysForFuture media inquiries: http://bit.ly/zaynecowie  (account managed by mom)

18. Katie Hodgetts

@KTclimate

Environmental activist : @ukycc / Bristol youth strike @bristolys4c | Tweets about climate change, politics and general sunshine

19. Ian Price

@solo_syn

I’m 11yo. I know climate change is real. I #climatestrike Fridays, since Dec 14. You adults need to stop using fossil fuels. deniers and trolls will be blocked

20. Jean

@jean_hinchliffe

15 year old Australian climate activist, Lead Organiser/International Partnerships for School Strike 4 Climate Instagram- jeanlola.h @strikeclimate #stopadani

WE CAN WIN THIS

If there’s something that these kids have taught us it’s that together we are stronger. If you want to make a difference, join us and the millions using their voices and everyday choices to tackle the climate crisis. Sign up and we'll keep you posted on the latest developments in climate policy and how you can help.

Sign up here!

* The Climate Reality Project does not directly or indirectly communicate about, participate in, or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate or party for elective public office. The views and opinions expressed by these social media accounts are the authors’ own and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Climate Reality Project, including any products or services which may be mentioned.

*/ strikeStudentsclimate changeProtestThe Climate Reality ProjectWhy Are Students Walking out of School on Friday?Climate Reality Leader Haven Coleman Talks Today’s Youth Climate StrikeThis is Zero Hour: Meet the 16-Year-Old Leading the Next Climate MarchLead: Don’t miss a single tweet from the young climate activists teaching adults a lesson: The time to act on climate is now.facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/young-climate-activists-follow-twitter?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=generalEmail Subject: Young Climate Activists To Follow On TwitterTwitter URL: https://bit.ly/2GvThu2
ipacha

Four Real-Life Magical Things the Green New Deal Should Do for Public Transportation

1 week ago

Public transportation is genuinely magical. Only it’s the kind of magic that actually works in real life.

How? It reduces emissions, provides affordable and accessible transportation options, reduces traffic, and can even spark the development of more walkable, livable communities. 

The Green New Deal resolution aims to harness these magic powers with a 10-year campaign to decarbonize transportation in part by investing in “clean, affordable, and accessible public transit.”

It couldn’t come at a better time either, because chronic underfunding of public transportation is leading to maintenance backlogs, service disruptions, and lower ridership. (So before we get to the magic, we must bring our current systems up to a state of good repair – New York City alone needs an estimated $60 billion to achieve this benchmark.)

If done right, the Green New Deal can vastly improve public transportation and make communities stronger, healthier, cleaner, and more affordable while providing better access for all.

>> Climate updates for busy people: Sign up for our email list today <<

Here are four tricks the Green New Deal should conjure to improve the nation’s transit systems:

Magically Make Car Trips More Green

You probably know that trips on public transportation are greener than those in cars.  But did you know that public transit can actually make car trips and other travel greener too?

Public transportation reduces the time cars are stuck in traffic emitting pollution. That’s because the more people taking buses and trains, the fewer cars on the road. Which means the people who do have to drive can get to their destination faster and with less tailpipe time.

Public transit also allows communities to develop more compactly, making some car trips shorter and eliminating others. With sensible policies, rail or bus stations can become focal points for development and revitalize neighborhoods by attracting housing, grocery stores, restaurants, and other businesses where communities come together. Done right, transit investments can create places where people can walk to work or the store and take a bus or train for longer trips.

This not only reduces emissions but also makes neighborhoods more accessible and safer, especially for children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. And any doctor will tell you that when people walk or bike more, they get healthier.

To accomplish this, the Green New Deal should reform the Capital Investment Grant Program to reward communities seeking to make themselves more walkable and livable – and incentivize others to follow their lead.

In New Jersey, for example, the Transit Village program has revitalized downtowns, helped communities become stronger, and provided more people the opportunity to commute by mass transit. It has accomplished this by providing grants and technical assistance to 33 communities seeking to build housing and amenities near existing transit hubs. It’s created the kind of enormous success economically and environmentally that should inspire communities across the country.

Poof! More Housing Will Appear Before Your Eyes

Developers know that people want to take public transportation to work, and merchants and restaurateurs love the foot traffic that hubs create. This is important because many cities have true housing crises.

Ask pretty much anyone trying to find an affordable apartment in New York, DC, Denver, San Francisco – or almost any big US city – and they’ll tell you that rents are rising faster than their paycheck and supply is a million miles from demand. It’s not just big cities either, a clear sign that communities of all sizes need more housing, especially affordable housing.

The Green New Deal should provide new investment to accelerate affordable housing development around public transportation stations and also reward systems if land is set aside for nearby affordable housing development.

These efforts should include measures to require that housing actually be affordable to those living paycheck-to-paycheck and provide protection for longtime neighborhood residents. Because what we don’t want is stations to come in and lead to gentrification that displaces existing communities – we want development that makes what’s already there stronger.

The Next Best Thing to a Magic Carpet: An Electric Bus

Electric buses are here and ready to take over the market.  The Green New Deal should speed the transition.

Diesel buses are the coal of the transportation system, spewing particulate matter and other dangerous emissions near homes and schools.  These dirty buses are compounding health problems in our most vulnerable communities and should be a prime focus of the Green New Deal.  

According to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecast, by 2030 only 28 percent of new cars worldwide will be electric, compared with an astonishing 84 percent of new buses. Why the difference? Three related reasons:

  • Transit agencies spend an enormous amount on fuel and maintenance because unlike cars, the buses are constantly in use and typically accrue three times the mileage of passenger vehicles;
  • Electricity is much cheaper than other fuels; and
  • Maintenance costs are lower on electric buses than on internal-combustion vehicles. 

The Green New Deal should aim for 100 percent electric buses in the US by 2030.

To reach that goal, we need more funding now and a mandate later. Currently, through the Federal Transit Administration’s Low and No Emission Vehicles Program, $84 million is being spent annually on zero-emission buses or the charging infrastructure to support them. If we want to rapidly decarbonize, that number should increase substantially. Then, starting in 2025, any transit agencies using federal money (they also use other funds to purchase buses) should spend it only on zero-emission buses or the infrastructure to support them.

There is also a massive opportunity with school buses because the US has about 480,000 of them, compared to only 70,000 transit buses. School buses also tend to be older and dirtier.

The Diesel Emissions Reductions Act and other federal programs provide some help for school districts looking to clean up school buses, but we need to act quickly. Funding for the emissions reduction act is now under $100 million but needs to be ramped up significantly in the short run if we want a zero emission future. By 2025, a mandate should require that federal money be used to purchase only zero-emissions buses.  

When addressing the climate crisis, we should prioritize areas that also impact public health outcomes, and bus transportation is a crucial part of that strategy.

Mobility for All, Without Any Tricks

According to the Institute on Disability, 6.5 percent of Americans (some 21 million people) have disabilities that impede movement. Public transportation can go a long way toward overcoming the barriers they face – and with new technology, we can go even further, no enchantment required.

One of the less talked about but still important services public agencies provide for people with disabilities is paratransit service – door-to-door (or door-to-transit hub) rides to doctors’ offices, grocery stores, and other destinations.

Unfortunately, there are many well-documented stories of unsafe and unreliable paratransit services. One of the main problems is inefficiency – rides that are not on time, drivers who are not adequately trained, or onerous rules like having to book a trip 24 hours in advance. 

But as Lyft and Uber have demonstrated, new technology can dramatically improve service for everyone, including people with mobility challenges. And while we are at it, we should make these rides healthier by supporting zero-emissions paratransit vehicles.

Some municipalities are starting to require that rideshare services provide access to those in wheelchairs and some transit agencies are starting to fold ride-hailing technologies into their operations. In Arlington, Texas, for example, the city is partnering with ridesharing start-up Via to replace traditional bus service with vans that pick people upon demand, not at fixed stops but anywhere within a given corridor. Passengers can be picked up where they live and wait for rides in the comfort of their own homes. 

Innovations like these could help end the litany of horror stories about sitting in the rain waiting for a ride that never comes. 

The Green New Deal should help fund the use of these technologies and partnerships while requiring some common-sense rules.

The authors of the Green New Deal should look to jurisdictions like the District of Columbia, which is requiring that ride-sharing services adopt aggressive greenhouse gas reduction plans.  Municipalities should also require ride-sharing services to provide a sufficient number of wheelchair-accessible cars, and they should provide financial support for paratransit agencies to deliver on-demand services. And ride-sharing services must be asked to pay their workers a living wage. With such improvements, the transportation revolution could lower emissions while providing mobility to those who need it most.

>> The Green New Deal Should Be On Wheels <<

Public transportation must be front and center in any decarbonization strategy, not only for its emissions-reduction benefits but also because of its magical ability to help so many people in need.

Best of all, it’s the kind of magic we can actually do. Affordably and with the technology we have today.

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climate changeclimate crisisGreen new dealpublic transitpublic transportationbuselectric Content Components:  Not in the US? 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We respect your privacy. To learn more, view our Privacy Policy. html, body, div, span, applet, object, iframe, h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, h6, p, blockquote, pre, a, abbr, acronym, address, big, cite, code, del, dfn, em, img, ins, kbd, q, s, samp, small, strike, strong, sub, sup, tt, var, b, u, i, center, dl, dt, dd, ol, ul, li, fieldset, form, label, legend, table, caption, tbody, tfoot, thead, tr, th, td, article, aside, canvas, details, embed, figure, figcaption, footer, header, hgroup, menu, nav, output, ruby, section, summary, time, mark, audio, video { margin: 0; padding: 0; border: 0; vertical-align: baseline; } /*master control div*/ .form-wrapper-marketo { width: 100%; margin: 20px auto; } /*FORM WIDTH CONTROLLER*/ .form-wrapper-marketo form { width: 100% !important; margin: 0 auto; overflow: auto; } /*CUSTOM LABELS*/ .mktoAsterix { color: #333 !important; } label.mktoLabel.mktoHasWidth { font-family: BrandonText-Medium; font-weight: bold; color: #333; } /*FIELD STYLES*/ .mktoForm input[type=text], .mktoForm input[type=url], .mktoForm input[type=email], .mktoForm input[type=tel], .mktoForm input[type=number], .mktoForm input[type=date], .mktoForm select.mktoField { height:50px !important; 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padding:2%; } .form-wrapper-marketo { width: 85%; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 800px) { .mktoForm, .mktoForm * { -webkit-box-sizing: border-box; -moz-box-sizing: border-box; box-sizing: border-box; -moz-box-sizing: border-box; padding: 10px; } .mktoForm { width: 100% !important; } .form-wrapper-marketo form { width: 100% !important; margin: 0 auto; overflow: auto; } .mktoForm .mktoGutter, .mktoForm .mktoOffset { display: none; } .mktoForm .mktoFormCol .mktoLabel { text-align: left; width: 100%; } .mktoForm .mktoFormCol { float: none; width: 100%; } .mktoForm .mktoFieldWrap { float: none; width: 100%; } .mktoForm fieldset { padding: 0 10px; } .mktoForm input[type=url], .mktoForm input[type=text], .mktoForm input[type=date], .mktoForm input[type=tel], .mktoForm input[type=email], .mktoForm input[type=number], .mktoForm textarea.mktoField, .mktoForm select { width: 100% !important; height: 1.5em; line-height: 1.5em; font-size: 18px; } .mktoForm select.mktoField { height: auto; width: 100%; 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We respect your privacy. To learn more, view our Privacy Policy. Hal Connolly7 Effects of Climate Change You’re Already Seeing3 Tips from the Experts: How to Talk about the Climate Crisis EffectivelyWe Tried to Write a Blog About TV Shows Tackling Climate Change. Here’s What HappenedLead: By Hal Connollyfacebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/four-real-life-magical-things-green-new-deal-should-do-public-transportation?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=generalEmail Subject: Four Real-Life Magical Things the Green New Deal Should Do for Public TransportationTwitter URL: https://bit.ly/2V4J7ZF
ipacha

How Counties Are Taking Climate Action

1 week 1 day ago

In June of 2017, President Trump announced that the United States would begin the process of withdrawing from the historic Paris Agreement. In the absence of federal action, communities stepped up to fill the void. Counties nationwide are coming together as part of the County Climate Coalition to reaffirm their support of the Paris Agreement and take action at the local level to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Members of the County Climate Coalition have all passed resolutions to take results-oriented steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, whether through transitioning to 100 percent renewable electricity or improving sustainability in county operations. By joining forces to do so, member counties have created a nationwide network that can raise its collective voice in support of a healthier, more-sustainable tomorrow.

To find out more about how counties are leading the way, we asked Santa Clara County, the county that created the County Climate Coalition, and two member counties what they’re doing to address the climate crisis and meet the goals of the coalition and the Paris Agreement? Read what they had to say below.

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA

Carbon neutrality, 100 percent renewable electricity, and collaboration are central to Santa Clara County’s plan for tackling the climate crisis.

In June 2017, at the request of Supervisor Dave Cortese, the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution affirming its commitment to the Paris Agreement. As the originator of the County Climate Coalition, Santa Clara County is not only focused on its own local greenhouse gas reduction targets, but has also offered a vision of what counties across the United States can do together to fight climate change.

Locally, Santa Clara is committed to achieving 100 percent carbon neutrality by 2045. To meet its targets, the county has named renewable energy a top priority.  The county’s board of supervisors has committed to getting 100 percent of its operational electricity from clean, renewable sources by December of this year. It’s also begun a “Renewables for Revenue” (R4R) project, consisting of six ground-mounted and carport solar photovoltaic systems on its properties.

These systems are expected to put an additional 11.24 megawatts of renewable electricity on the grid, and earned the county nearly $3 million in renewable energy credits.

With 100 percent renewable electricity at all county facilities already within near-term reach, the County of Santa Clara is now tackling other sources of GHG emissions. 

In September 2018, the board of supervisors adopted a resolution endorsing Diesel Free By '33, a Bay Area-launched initiative pledging to eliminate diesel fuel from county operations by the year 2033. 

The county is also committed to reducing GHG emissions from transportation. Driving to Net Zero, a county-led multi-jurisdictional project, provides resources to local governments seeking support in the deployment of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and charging infrastructure. Available resources include a best practices guide, interactive siting map, zoning code recommendations, and a GHG calculator and cost effectiveness tool, all of which are publicly available on the county’s office of sustainability website

“To date, the county has converted almost 30 percent of its vehicle fleet to hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles and a transportation demand management study is currently underway to identify additional strategies to reduce employee commuter emissions,” explains Susan Gilbert-Miller, director of the Office of Sustainability for Santa Clara County.

>> Think Global, Start Local <<

WASHTENAW COUNTY, MICHIGAN

In 2018, the Washtenaw County Commission took a step toward addressing the climate crisis by creating the Washtenaw County Environmental Council. The council’s mission includes protection of the county’s air, water, and soil, as well as development of recommendations to achieve net-zero emissions for county operations by 2035. 

Current Environmental Council Chair Michelle Deatrick led the initiative to create the council while she served as a county commissioner.

“Climate change is an alarm clock that’s been going off, ignored by those in power, for years,” she told Climate Reality. “I’m glad that Washtenaw County is taking the lead on this issue. I view the project to achieve net-zero county operations as a pilot for a much broader effort, collaborating with other local and regional governments to achieve the paradigmatic change that’s necessary to save our Earth. Time is running out.” 

The county has also achieved significant energy efficiency improvements under the leadership of its energy coordinator, April Baranek. Over the last eight years, the county has seen its electricity use drop by 24 percent, and it’s using 33 percent less water. The result? A 17 percent drop in its total carbon footprint.

“The energy and sustainable program within Washtenaw County has empowered and inspired our organization to reduce our negative impact on the planet all while saving taxpayer dollars,” Baranek states. “There are multiple benefits that come from practicing and implementing a sustainable business model. Fresher air, cleaner water, and an overall healthier planet can be achieved if we all work together and strive to be more sustainable in our everyday activities.”

These recent efforts build on the county’s longtime commitment to environmental justice. That commitment is embodied in programs that include free weatherization services for income-qualified owners and many renters, green purchasing policies for county operations, such as a ban on plastic straws and some single-use plastics, and a land conservation program protecting over 3,000 acres of natural area and farmland.

LOS ANGELES COUNTY, CALIFORNIA

As the largest county in the United States, Los Angeles County in California is leading the way to address transportation emissions, renewable energy, and environmental justice.

LA County is a founding member of the Transportation Electrification Partnership, a collaboration with the California Air Resources Board, Metro, the City of Los Angeles, and several utilities to accelerate the deployment of zero-emission transportation technology. The county is working to create a pathway to zero-emission technology to be deployed along its I-710 freeway corridor that connects ports on the Pacific Ocean to inland warehouses. Thousands of trucks use this corridor each day, creating one of the most significant environmental justice issues in Los Angeles, and the county is working to eliminate the toxic diesel emissions impacting vulnerable communities along the route.

In a step to modernize their plan to fight climate change, Los Angeles County released a draft of its new sustainability plan, OurCounty, on April 5, 2019. This plan sets a target of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 through ambitious strategies such as getting to 100 percent clean electricity, converting its transportation system to zero-emission vehicles, decarbonizing the building sector, and phasing out oil and gas operations in the county. It has also established the Clean Power Alliance, the largest community choice energy program in California.

As a result of the OurCounty plan, Los Angeles County is conducting an assessment to identify populations and infrastructures that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

“We already know that it is low-income communities and communities of color – as well as the elderly and outdoor workers – that are the most at risk from more frequent, more intense, and longer heat events, as well as from other climate impacts”, says Gary Gero, chief sustainability officer for the County of Los Angeles. “The county plans to identify more precisely the potential impacts to these communities and develop just strategies to reduce these risks and improve community resilience.” 

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Want your county to lead the way in fighting the climate crisis? Join your local Climate Reality Project chapter to get involved in the fight for localized climate action.

Across the country, everyday Americans are joining Climate Reality chapters and working together for practical climate solutions in communities from sea to shining sea.

These friends, neighbors, and colleagues are bringing clean energy to their towns, fighting fracking developments, and so much more. Most of all, they’re making a real difference for our climate when it matters – and you can too.

Through the County Climate Coalition campaign, you and your chapter can gain insight from a growing network of counties nationwide to learn the best ways to urge your own county’s elected officials to take regional action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Learn more now.

climate changeclimate crisiscountieslos angeles countysanta clara countyWashtenaw County100 percent committedrenewablesThe Climate Reality ProjectBeginning the Climate Conversation: A Family’s GuideNatural Gas is Not a Bridge Fuel, But We’ve Got Many AlternativesMaking Home Solar Happen: Do Panels Make Sense for My Home?Lead: Members of the County Climate Coalition have all passed resolutions to take results-oriented steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, whether through transitioning to 100 percent renewable electricity or improving sustainability in county operations.facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/how-counties-are-taking-climate-action?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=generalEmail Subject: How Counties Are Taking Climate ActionTwitter URL: https://bit.ly/2GqFNQk
ipacha

5 of the Best TED Talks about Renewable Energy

1 week 6 days ago

Around the world, cities, states, countries, and companies are making the switch to clean, renewable energy to help stop climate change. Better yet? It just makes good economic sense.

Here are five eye-opening TED Talks that show how renewables are taking over every corner of the world – from Bhutan to Costa Rica, back to Germany, and more.

Tshering Tobgay: “This Country Isn't Just Carbon Neutral — It's Carbon Negative”

 

Quotable Moment: “The point is this: my country and my people have done nothing to contribute to global warming, but we are already bearing the brunt of its consequences. And for a small, poor country, one that is landlocked and mountainous, it is very difficult. But we are not going to sit on our hands doing nothing. We will fight climate change. That's why we have promised to remain carbon neutral.” 

Hannah Bürckstümmer: A Printable, Flexible, Organic Solar Cell

 

Quotable Moment: “This is pointing towards a future where buildings are no longer energy consumers, but energy providers. I want to see solar cells seamlessly integrated into our building shells to be both resource-efficient and a pleasure to look at.”

Amar Inamdar: “The Thrilling Potential for Off-Grid Solar Energy”

 

Quotable Moment: “There’s a revolution happening in the villages and towns all around us here in East Africa. And the revolution is an echo of the cell phone revolution. It's wireless, and that revolution is about solar and it's about distributed solar. Photons are wireless, they fall on every rooftop, and they generate enough power to be sufficient for every household need.”

Monica Araya: “A Small Country with Big Ideas to Get Rid of Fossil Fuels”

 

Quotable Moment: “How do we build a society without fossil fuels? This is a very complex challenge, and I believe developing countries could take the lead in this transition. And I'm aware that this is a contentious statement, but the reality is that so much is at stake in our countries if we let fossil fuels stay at the center of our development. We can do it differently. And it's time, it really is time, to debunk the myth that a country has to choose between development on the one hand and environmental protection, renewables, quality of life, on the other.”

Angel Hsu: “How China Is (and Isn't) Fighting Pollution and Climate Change”

 

Quotable Moment: “China is very much in the driver's seat determining our global environmental future. What they do on carbon trading, on clean energy, on air pollution, we can learn many lessons. One of those lessons is that clean energy is not just good for the environment, it can save lives by reducing air pollution. It's also good for the economy. We can see that last year, China was responsible for 30 percent of the global growth in green jobs.”

Get Familiar with the Facts

Wow, that was kind of like drinking from a water hose, right? Don’t worry – we have a brand-new e-book all about the sunniest type of clean energy: solar. In it, we make the facts about photovoltaics simple and easy to understand.

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about this powerful source of energy, but in our free e-book, we promise to deliver the facts, the whole facts, and nothing but the facts.

One of the most important things you can do to help fight climate change is to learn and spread the facts about solutions like solar. Download the free e-book, Things Are Looking Bright: The Facts about Solar Energy, now.

Header image: © TED Conference/Flickr CC BY-NC-2.0

*/ renewable energytedted talkClean Energyclimate changeglobal warmingrenewablesTED conferenceTshering TobgayHannah BürckstümmerAmar InamdarMonica ArayaAngel HsuThe Climate Reality ProjectTalking Climate and Health: “The Uninhabitable Earth” Author David Wallace-Wells7 of the Best TED Talks about Climate Change It’s a Fact: Wind Farms and Birds Can Coexist PeacefullyLead: Let’s be real: Renewable energy is super cool. Harnessing virtually limitless energy from the natural world? Check. Without releasing dangerous carbon pollution into our atmosphere? Double check.facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/5-best-ted-talks-about-renewable-energy?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=generalEmail Subject: 5 of the Best TED Talks about Renewable EnergyTwitter URL: https://bit.ly/2Ku2h7b
rtaylor

Making Home Solar Happen: Do Panels Make Sense for My Home?

2 weeks 1 day ago

Home solar power is more popular than ever in the United States. Buoyed by a dramatic drop in costs over the last decade, solar installations have enjoyed a 50 percent year-to-year average growth rate – and it shows no signs of slowing down.

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), solar currently produces enough electricity to power more than 12.3 million homes. In 2018, over 10,000 MW of solar was installed in the US – more than double the capacity installed just five years earlier.

Over 1.9 million US homes now feature solar installations, with that number expected to cross the 2 million mark this year. (For perspective, in three short years, home solar has nearly doubled in size – up from 1 million installations in 2016.) It’s expected to hit 4 million by 2023.

And thank goodness.

Solar now annually offsets more than 73 million metric tons of CO2 emissions. That’s equivalent to planting nearly 1.2 billion trees, or taking 15.6 million vehicles off the road. Now, imagine what those numbers will look like when we reach those 4 million home installations in 2023.

The even better news is, we’re only scratching the surface. To get a broader sense of solar’s true potential, consider this: More energy from the sun strikes the Earth in one hour than all of humanity consumes in a year.

Has all this awesomeness got you – like so many people across the country and around the world – thinking about getting in on the action?

Good! But first, you need to do your research. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place.

As part of a three-blog series, we’re going to get into the nitty gritty of home solar, from navigating financing and incentives to choosing an installer and what maintenance you should expect. But first up: Do solar panels even make sense for your home?

>> Click here to get an alert when the next blog in the series publishes.<<

WHAT IS HOME SOLAR?

When we talk about “home solar” what we’re talking about is distributed photovoltaic solar (or PV solar). The National Renewable Energy Laboratory explains the name comes “from the process of converting light (photons) to electricity (voltage), which is called the PV effect.”           

More specifically, PV panels do so “by allowing photons, or particles of light, to knock electrons free from atoms, generating a flow of electricity,” according to Live Science.

In a nutshell, if you have solar on your roof, the panels create electricity and the system’s electrical panel sends power to your lights and appliances.

And there’s never been a better time to think about making the leap: “An average-sized residential system has dropped from a pre-incentive price of $40,000 in 2010 to roughly $18,000 today,” SEIA reports.

We’re with you that $18,000 is no small chunk of change, perhaps especially to a homeowner balancing a mortgage, car payment, and kids’ piano and karate lessons. But that number also doesn’t take into account the many incentives available to solar customers or the multiple new forms of solar financing that have emerged in recent years.

Many of these financing options allow customers to put solar on their rooftops at little or no cost up front. (More on that in the next blog in our series.)

To say nothing of the long-term energy savings and increased property value a home solar system offers.

So, it’s clear: Installing a home solar panel system is a fantastic, fiscally-smart clean energy option. But none of that matters all that much if your home itself just isn’t a good or effective fit for the panels themselves.

SO, WHAT MAKES A HOME A GOOD FIT FOR SOLAR PANELS?

The direction your roof faces.

The position of your house in relation to the sun will determine how much solar energy you can produce – and thus whether it’s a worthwhile investment for you.

In the US, “south-facing roofs are the most productive for solar, followed by west-facing and then east-facing roofs. North-facing roofs are the least desirable for solar, and many people rule them out,” according to the Washington Post.

Be mindful of the total amount of sunlight hours your home receives, in general. Even a south-facing roof will spend a fair amount of the late fall, wintertime, and very early spring in more darkness than light if it’s located in a high northern latitude (think Alaska and perhaps even the most northern parts of states like Minnesota or North Dakota).

And while solar panels do still produce power on cloudy days, obviously the more direct sun they receive the better. If your local weather patterns tend to be truly dominated by very cloudy skies, solar panels will not be as productive for you as they might be for someone in the Great Plains, Sunshine State, or the Nevada desert.

The size and angle of the surface.

The average home solar system is five kilowatts, requiring 20 normal panels. To accommodate a system of this size, you’ll need 500 square feet of space, or about 100 square feet of area per kilowatt of solar capacity.

As for the angle of your roof, 30 degrees is ideal – but solar panels will work on roofs ranging from flat (though they may need to be installed on tilted tracks) all the way up to 45 degrees.

The roof’s construction.

What we really mean here is “age and materials.” How old your roof is and what it’s made of are important to whether solar panels are a smart investment for a few reasons.

Keep in mind that solar panels are built to last – many come with warranties of 25 years or more. If your roof is older or you expect it will need to be fully replaced (versus more typical, piecemeal maintenance or repair) inside that window, adding panels to it now will mean additional expenses because you’ll need to remove them before demolition of the old roof. Later, you’ll have to reinstall the panels on the new one. Best to replace the roof first then install a solar system.

As for materials, asphalt shingles or corrugated metal roofing make for the easiest installation of solar panels.

How long will this be your home?

Like your home itself, a solar panel system should be looked at as an investment.

While you’ll begin to experience energy savings as soon as your panels are up and running, it may take some time for your solar panels to “pay for themselves,” so to speak (for your energy savings to cover the cost of the system).

EnergySage reports that the average American family spends a little over $1,335 a year on electricity. And how much your solar panels will save you annually in any given place is likely to vary substantially because utility electricity prices differ from state to state and can be volatile in nature.

Average sunlight in your region and the scale of the system you install are other factors that will impact the amount of electricity your system produces and your attendant annual energy savings.

The final cost of a system is also likely to vary from place to place based on your state and local incentives.

All of which is to say, the length of time it will take for you to see a return on your investment is highly variable. There’s no one answer as to when your system will have paid for itself in energy savings. It could be as little as six or eight years – the “typical solar payback period in the US.” It could be several more than that.

You should keep this in mind before investing in a home solar system. If you do not expect to remain in your home long enough to enjoy the savings solar can offer, you should think hard on whether it’s the best option for you at this time.

(Maybe it still is? Solar panels often add considerable value to a home; you could potentially make up the difference there when selling!)

As you can see with that last one, once the talk turns to money, that’s when things get complicated – isn’t that always the way?

That’s why we’re saving the nuts-and-bolts discussion of solar financing and installation for next time!

If you want to be the first to get an alert when part two in our home solar series, Making Home Solar Happen: Financing and Installation, goes live, sign up here.

climate changeclimate crisissolarsolar energyhome solarThe Climate Reality ProjectWhy Is 1.5 Degrees the Danger Line for Global Warming?We Tried to Write a Blog About TV Shows Tackling Climate Change. Here’s What HappenedNatural Gas is Not a Bridge Fuel, But We’ve Got Many AlternativesLead: As part of a three-blog series, we’re going to get into the nitty gritty of home solar. First up, solar’s great, but are panels even a good fit for me and my home?facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/making-home-solar-happen-do-panels-make-sense-my-home?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=generalEmail Subject: Making Home Solar Happen: Do Panels Make Sense for My Home?Twitter URL: https://bit.ly/2ULgtMO
ipacha

A Dose of Reality: How Climate Change Affects Our Kids, Straight from a Pediatrician

2 weeks 3 days ago

Climate change is not something that will occur in the future – it’s happening right now.

Millions of children are already affected by climate change, around the world and in the US. By virtue of its effect on sea levels, more frequent and severe hurricanes, heatwaves and droughts, air pollution, forest fires, and increases in infectious diseases, climate change is already affecting the way children live. The relentless destruction of ecosystems is depriving our children of experiencing nature’s beauty, clean air, safe drinking and recreational water, nutritious food supplies, and safe shelter.

I see many patients whose lives have been affected by climate change. What I see most frequently are children whose asthma and/or nasal allergies are getting out of control during days of poor air quality, in spite of their parents’ best efforts and compliance with medications.

I see patients whose eczema, a type of allergic skin disease, gets out of control on days of extreme heat or air pollution. Many children already cannot safely play outdoors on days with poor air quality or on very hot days, like those we’re experiencing with greater frequency here in Texas. 

It is heartbreaking to witness how children are starting to live a “new normal.”
 


What happened during Hurricane Harvey is difficult to forget. According to Save the Children, 3 million children were affected by the hurricane. Of the approximately 34,000 people in shelters – an estimated 8,500 were children.

When I volunteered at one of the temporary shelters in Houston, I heard countless stories of rescues, anguish, and fear – many of them similar, each of them unique. There were hundreds of children sheltered in large spaces full of cots, surrounded by people they had never met. 

I’ll never forget the panic-stricken face of a mother when she arrived with her newborn boy at the shelter’s clinic.  His baby blanket got wet with flood water as they evacuated their home. 

But the emotional toll caused by Hurricane Harvey did not end after the shelters were emptied and the houses restored. In the weeks that followed, many of my patients’ parents, after having to abandon their homes and deal with the demands of restructuring their lives and emotions, were faced with the suffering of their children. Many were experiencing anxiety, behavior problems, and nightmares. 

I remember a mother who told me that her nine-year-old boy was experiencing post-traumatic stress after being rescued from their flooded home and did not want to sleep alone. It pained me that all I could offer was reassurance and advise them to trust in the healing power of time, knowing that with unabated climate change, they would likely suffer these tragedies again.

>> Read more: Climate Change and Health: Hurricanes <<

It is hard to imagine the crisis children in Puerto Rico experienced during Hurricane Maria. After the violent winds and rain, every person on Puerto Rico, including over half a million children, woke up to a devastated island. Many trees had no leaves, crested rivers were out of control, and whole houses were blown away by the wind. Living for months without potable water and electricity was a reality nobody there could have ever imagined – and yet it happened all the same. 

As pediatricians, we like to say that children are not little adults. Children often have trouble verbalizing their feelings, depend on adults for their safety, and have immature coping mechanisms to deal with extreme stress and trauma. Their bodies and their minds are not fully developed, and it is difficult for them to tolerate the increasing demands climate change will impose on their emotional and physical health.

The challenge imposed by environmental instability starts before the child is even born.  Exposure to extreme heat, air pollution, and increased rates of infection during pregnancy has been associated with poorly developed lungs, prematurity, stillbirth, brain abnormalities, heart abnormalities, and increased incidence of neurodevelopmental disorders.  

We also know that emotional distress during pregnancy and mood disorders, which can be triggered as women face the uncertainty that climate change brings to their lives and the lives of their families, can affect not only the physical but also the neurological and cognitive development of the unborn child.

Many of a child’s vital organs, such as the lungs and brain, are immature and more susceptible to air pollution. In addition, children breathe more air per unit time, which translates to breathing more polluted air. Since they consume more food and water per unit of body weight too, they can have higher exposure to water and food contaminants, and their “hand-to-mouth behavior” and more time spent outdoors may potentially increase exposure to environmental pollutants and infectious agents.

>> Read more: Climate Change and Health: Children <<

Very small children may be even more susceptible to infections because their immune systems are not fully developed. Newborns and very young children are also more susceptible to illness and even death during heat waves.

Because children and sometimes adolescents do not have the decision-making capacity to protect themselves, they are also more likely to not drink enough fluids or rest enough when they are playing sports or engaged in other outdoor activities. On very hot days, this makes them prone to dehydration and other potentially fatal heat-induced conditions.

We must reflect on the crisis we are facing. Those of us equipped with knowledge and in positions of leadership have the moral responsibility to educate people about climate change and advocate for vulnerable populations. At the end of the day, the very young, the very old, minorities, people without medical insurance, and those living in poverty are the ones that will be affected the most.

As explained by Dr. Susan Pacheco, kids today will face the challenges of a warming world head-on. And as a parent, guardian, and/or caregiver, you have a responsibility to do your best to make sure they’re ready.

In our free new e-book, Beginning the Climate Conversation: A Family’s Guide, we discuss when to start the climate conversation and how to approach the topic with children. It is not designed as a substitute for formal science instruction, but we hope it will offer some insight into how to successfully discuss a challenging topic.

Download Beginning the Climate Conversation: A Family’s Guide now.

*/ climate changeclimate crisisHealthchildreninfectious diseaserespiratoryasthmaneurologicalallergiespollutionpregnancyDr. Susan E. PachecoClimate Change and Health: Food Security3 Big Myths about Natural Gas and Our ClimateClimate Change and Health: ChildrenLead: Dr. Susan Pacheco is a pediatrician and Climate Reality Leader – and she’s made it her life’s work to raise awareness about the impact climate change has on public health, especially the health of children.facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/dose-reality-how-climate-change-affects-our-kids-straight-pediatrician?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=generalEmail Subject: A Dose of Reality: How Climate Change Affects Our Kids, Straight from a PediatricianTwitter URL: https://bit.ly/2ETSpO5
ipacha

Three Great Moments From our Atlanta Training

2 weeks 5 days ago

We’ve held Climate Reality Leadership Corps activist trainings all around the globe – from Brazil to Germany – and every single one of them holds a special place in our hearts. We’re proud to have trained more than 19,000 climate activists through these events and watched them push hard for climate solutions.

But from the early stages, we knew that our Atlanta training  had to be different.

From the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s to the activism of today, the city of Atlanta has long played host to some of the nation’s leading movements for transformative change.  Inspired by this legacy, we went to Atlanta to focus on environmental justice and highlight how the climate crisis is hurting communities and fueling injustice throughout the American Southeast and beyond.

The numbers don’t lie. Communities of color and underprivileged communities are disproportionately affected by fossil fuel pollution. Over 70 percent of the 2 million Americans living within three miles of the top-12 dirtiest coal power plants are people of color. As a result, these communities are facing severe consequences around health and well-being.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Frontline communities are also the least responsible for the climate crisis but are the ones being hit the hardest – and it’s just not fair.

Want to learn more about environmental justice? Take a peek at what happened during our three-day training as we revisit our favorite moments.

1. REAL PEOPLE, REAL STORIES
 

Watch Live: Stories on the Climate Crisis from the Frontlines

Tune in as courageous community leaders share their stories of fighting for climate and social justice at our training in Atlanta. #LeadOnClimate

Posted by Climate Reality on Thursday, March 14, 2019


It’s one thing to read about the impact fossil fuel plants have on the news, but it’s another to witness real people give testimony to how these plants have deeply (and negatively) impacted their lives and communities.

During our training, we bore witness to the harsh realities communities across the South are facing.

One of the most gripping speakers was Danielle Bailey-Lash, who has been battling brain cancer since 2010. She drew connections between her illness and exposure to the coal ash pollution dumped by Duke Energy's Belews Creek power plant in her North Carolina neighborhood.

Danielle’s suspicions were recently reinforced by a report published by the Environmental Integrity Project. Scientists found arsenic, beryllium, boron, cobalt, lithium, molybdenum, and radium in groundwater used by her community.

“Initially we didn’t do anything, because unfortunately, me and so many other people weren’t aware of what was going on. We were swimming in the water, fishing, eating the fish,” she said. Once Danielle became aware of the contamination, she decided to speak out against the dirty power plant – while she also fights for her life.

Danielle is a testament that people and communities who choose to speak out are powerful. On April 1, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality ordered Duke to totally excavate all remaining coal ash in the state, including the site in Danielle’s community of Belews Creek.

2. YOUNG PEOPLE TAKE THE STAGE
 

We're confident about the future of our planet after listening to these amazing young climate activists in #Atlanta: Levi Draheim, Gabrielle Heidrich, @JeromeFosterII and @lilylevin_. #LeadOnClimate pic.twitter.com/q44eXTmKuD

— Climate Reality (@ClimateReality) March 15, 2019


Thousands of students joined the Youth Climate Strike of March 15, and we were (quite honestly) in awe. The global strike took place right in the middle of our Atlanta training, but we wanted to make sure to support these leaders in their unprecedented effort.

So as students took the streets, we invited young climate activists to take the stage.

Among the young activists to address our attendees was Levi Draheim, who is only 11 years old, but has already experienced the climate crisis up close. He lives in Satellite Beach, a barrier island located in Florida in danger of being swallowed by rising seas.

To save his island – and the planet – Levi is suing the federal government for failing to address climate change as part of the lawsuit Juliana v. United States. “I fear that I may not have a home in the future,” he said.  Other young activists who joined the stage included: Gabrielle Heidrich, Jerome Foster II, and Lily Levin.

3. Reclaiming the Moral High Ground
 

Watch Live: A Moral Call to Action on the Climate Crisis

Join us live for an interfaith mass meeting as we explore how diverse faith traditions and common values compel us to respond to the climate crisis. #LeadOnClimate

Posted by Climate Reality on Thursday, March 14, 2019


When it comes to climate change, we often talk about the scientific and technical sides of the issue. However, at our training, we explored a less-considered, but equally compelling idea – that the climate crisis is a moral issue.

Our first-ever interfaith mass meeting – A Moral Call to Action on the Climate Crisis – left no doubt that the scientific evidence and our individual moral values go hand-in-hand as factors compelling us to confront this crisis. 

We tapped into the reality that our inner morality, which exists in each of us in many different forms, drives our understanding of why this fight is important. Family, faith, or future, there are deep drivers inside each of us that push us to win this fight.

“We still have a window of opportunity here to repair our planet. But I don’t have to tell you that that window is closing,” said Rabbi Lydia Medwin, one of the faith leaders to speak at the event.

We’re happy to say that attendees left the meeting with a renewed sense of climate hope.

We’re not sure if it was the venue – the Ebenezer Baptist Church was a second home to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Perhaps it was the ah-mazing choir. Or maybe it was watching multiple faiths come together to tackle one of the greatest challenges of our time.

4. BONUS: A VERY FUNNY GUEST
 

Humor can be a powerful leadership weapon. Especially when the person cracking jokes is Saturday Night Live regular Pete Davidson.

It was all very unexpected – just before Vice President Al Gore presented his famous slide show on the climate crisis, he asked the comedian up on stage to help translate climate facts to a younger audience. Here are some of the highlights from the hilarious convo:

VP Al Gore: “The last five years have been the hottest years on record.”

Pete Davidson: “You know all those Supreme hoodies you got? They are worthless!”

VP Al Gore: “We’re on the right track to beat the climate crisis. But we have to act faster and with more urgency.”

Pete Davidson: “Pretend the environment is a girl you’re in love with. She just got engaged, but there’s still time!”

YOU ARE INVITED: CLIMATE REALITY LEADERSHIP CORPS TRAININGS

We know what you’re thinking right now. That you missed an extraordinary training. The good news is that we have a lot more opportunities for you to become a Climate Reality Leader.

At Climate Reality Leadership Corps trainings, individuals ready to make a difference in our planet’s future spend three days working with former Vice President Al Gore and world-renowned scientists and communicators learning about the climate crisis and how together we can solve it.

Will you join us? Learn more and sign up for updates here.

  */ Atlantatrainingclimate changereligionThe Climate Reality ProjectHow Does Climate Change Affect Georgia?We’re Heading Down Under! Here’s How You Can Join UsHow Climate Change Is Impacting Different Places Around the USLead: We traveled to Atlanta for a very important mission – to highlight the necessary connections between environmental justice and climate justice at our 40th Climate Reality Leadership Corps training. facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/three-great-moments-our-atlanta-training?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=CRinATLEmail Subject: Three Great Moments From our Atlanta TrainingTwitter URL: https://bit.ly/2UpAd9K
ipacha

7 of the Best TED Talks about Climate Change

2 weeks 6 days ago

Imagine being able to invite some of the leading minds of the climate movement over for dinner. You could pick anyone from anywhere. Who would be sitting around your table?

It’s hard to narrow down when there are so many amazing people out there fighting for solutions. (This must have been how Nick Fury felt while he was assembling the Avengers, right?) But, for us, we would try to pick people who are taking on the climate crisis in totally different – but equally incredible – ways.

Think of this collection of TED Talks as our guest list for the world’s most inspiring dinner party on climate. Read on to hear from the leader of the student strike movement, climate scientists, a former president, a trained meteorologist and more.

Greta Thunberg: “Save the World by Changing the Rules
 

Quotable Moment: “The year 2078, I will celebrate my 75th birthday. If I have children or grandchildren, maybe they will spend that day with me. Maybe they will ask me about you, the people who were around, back in 2018. Maybe they will ask why you didn't do anything while there still was time to act.

Dr. Katharine Hayhoe: “The Most Important Thing You Can Do to Fight Climate Change: Talk About It”
 

Quotable Moment: “I truly believe, after thousands of conversations that I've had over the past decade and more, that just about every single person in the world already has the values they need to care about a changing climate. They just haven't connected the dots. And that's what we can do through our conversation with them.”

Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd: “Three Kinds of Bias that Shape Your Worldview”
 

Quotable Moment: “Take an inventory of your own biases. Where do they come from? Your upbringing, your political perspective, your faith – what shapes your own biases? Then, evaluate your sources – where do you get your information on science? What do you read, what do you listen to, to consume your information on science? And then, it's important to speak out. Talk about how you evaluated your biases and evaluated your sources.”

Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson: “Why Climate Change Is a Threat to Human Rights”
 

Quotable Moment: “Climate justice responds to the moral argument – both sides of the moral argument – to address climate change. First of all, to be on the side of those who are suffering most and are most effected. And secondly, to make sure that they're not left behind again, when we start to move and start to address climate change with climate action, as we are doing.”

Dr. Katharine Wilkinson: “How Empowering Women and Girls Can Help Stop Global Warming”
 

Quotable Moment: “Another empowering truth begs to be seen. If we gain ground on gender equity, we also gain ground on addressing global warming… we can secure the rights of women and girls, shore up resilience, and avert emissions at the same time.”

Sean Davis: “Lessons from How We Protected the Ozone Layer”
 

Quotable Moment: “We don't need absolute certainty to act. When Montreal was signed, we were less certain then of the risks from CFCs than we are now of the risks from greenhouse gas emissions… You know, I'll bet those of you who drove here tonight, you probably wore your seat belt. And so, ask yourself, did you wear your seat belt because someone told you with a hundred percent [certainty] that you would get in a car crash on the way here? Probably not.”

Former US Vice President Al Gore: “The Case for Optimism on Climate Change”
 

Quotable Moment: “We have everything we need. Some still doubt that we have the will to act, but I say the will to act is itself a renewable resource.

Feeling Inspired?

It’s not exactly a dinner party, but we do often pull together some of the leading minds in the climate movement – including former Vice President Gore himself – for our Climate Reality Leaderships Corps trainings. (In fact, we’ve had Dr. Hayhoe and Dr. Wilkinson at recent trainings, too!)

Consider this your official invite to our next training. At these events, people ready to make a difference in our planet’s future spend three days working with former Vice President Gore and world-renowned scientists and communicators learning about the climate crisis and how together we can solve it.

Join us and walk away knowing you have the skills, network, and resources to push the needle on climate change where you live. Better yet, you’ll be part of a global, twenty-first century movement for solutions. Learn more and apply to join us today!

Header Image: © 2018 TED Conference/Flickr CC BY NC-ND 2.0

*/ tedted talkAl GoreGreta ThunbergMarshall ShepherdMary RobinsonKatherine WilkinsonSean Davisclimate realityClimate Reality Leadership Corps trainingtrainingleadershipleaderclimate scienceschools trikeThe Climate Reality ProjectClimate Reality Leader Haven Coleman Talks Today’s Youth Climate StrikeTop Climate Experts to Follow on TwitterLocal Meteorologists Are Making the Climate ConnectionLead: These are definitely “ideas worth spreading.”facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/7-best-ted-talks-about-climate-change?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=CRLCEmail Subject: 7 TED Talks Every Climate Activist Needs to WatchTwitter URL: https://bit.ly/2IicKA1
ipacha

7 Effects of Climate Change You’re Already Seeing

3 weeks 1 day ago

It’s coming for your wine, your coffee beans, and your veggies… as well as for your health and safety.

Here are seven effects of climate change you’ve already seen.

1) Longer, more intense allergy seasons.

If you’ve been feeling seasonal allergies for the first time, or more intensely in recent years, it’s not just you.

Warming temperatures in some areas, like the northern United States, are extending the periods when plants release pollen. This affects not only people who already have allergies, but those who don’t.

This means that people who have pollen allergies might experience more intense symptoms, and people who don’t normally have allergies might begin to experience them. Fun.

And if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase through the end of this century, the oak pollen season, in particular, could extend by up to eight days in some areas.

This pollen, which can induce allergic asthma, could increase the number of associated hospital emergency room visits for asthma by 10 percent in the Midwest, Southeast, and Northeast.

2) Foods you love are becoming less nutritious and cost more at the grocery store.

The same CO2 accumulating in our atmosphere thanks to fossil fuels is actually changing the composition of fruits and vegetables that we eat, making them less nutritious. Extra CO2 is speeding up photosynthesis and causing plants to grow with more sugar and less calcium, protein, zinc, and important vitamins.

Not only is food becoming less nutritious, but it could soon cost more too. Beginning in 2006, drought in major wheat-producing countries was a key factor in a dramatic spike in food prices around the globe. And as the world keeps getting hotter, we can expect to see this kind of drought more and more often.

Wheat isn’t the only crop to feel the heat either. Let’s start with your morning coffee, which could soon be more expensive too. Brazil is the biggest coffee producer in the world, but as the globe warms up and more frequent rainstorms hit the region, most of its main coffee-growing areas will be less suitable for growing the crop. 

Sadly, the story doesn’t end there. Scientists project that peaches, coffee, corn, cacao, and other delicious – and important crops – will also become scarcer because of climate change.

<<<  Watch this BuzzFeed video about food scarcity and climate change >>>

3) More common, more severe, and more long-lasting heatwaves.

Extreme heat and heatwaves have happened since the beginning of time. But across the board, climate change is making heatwaves more common, severe, and long-lasting.

Heatwaves can become so intense that our roads actually melt. We’ve seen this happen on the tarmac at Washington, DC’s Reagan National Airport in 2012, during India’s deadly 2015 heatwaves, and most recently, in Australia, where car tires were covered in asphalt nearly three inches thick.

4) Wildfires causing damage to our landscapes and our communities – as well as our health.

Wildfires are devastating communities around the world. From the billion-dollar destruction they cause to the costs of lost plant, animal, and even human life, these devastating natural disasters are scarring our landscapes.

But beyond even the tragic injuries and fatalities that can result directly from major forest fires, these climate-driven events can damage infrastructure, which can:

In 2018 alone, wildfires were pervasive across central and northern Europe, from the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Sweden to Malta, Poland, and Germany. They’re even coming where you might least expect it – the boreal forests that encircle the globe in the Arctic North, for example, have in recent years experienced wildfires at a rate and scale not seen in at least 10,000 years.”

5) Hurricanes are becoming more likely and more dangerous.

Around the world, average sea surface temperatures are rising. As seas get warmer, they add more water vapor and heat energy into the atmosphere. This extra heat and water, just happens to be the perfect fuel for hurricanes and in the right conditions, can make dangerous storms even more powerful.

This can happen very quickly too. So a once-relatively weak tropical storm can cross the right stretch of (warm) water and become a major hurricane in a matter of hours.

This can lead to many people, even those who spend their lives in hurricane-prone regions, being under-prepared for the intensity of the actual hurricane that makes landfall, resulting in greater damage, injury, and even loss of life. Which is exactly what happened with Hurricanes Maria, Irma, and Harvey.

6) More climate-related mass migration.

Climate change is already prompting an increase in migration, with people being forced to leave their homes because of drought, flooding, and other climate-related disasters.

In 2007, for example, water scarcity, crop failures and livestock deaths stemming in part from climate-related drought drove an estimated 1.5 million people to the cities from rural areas in Syria, helping spark the horrifying civil war that displaced millions more.

And since 2013, nearly 15 million people have been displaced by typhoons and storms in the Philippines.

A 2018 World Bank Group report estimated that the impacts of climate change in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America could lead to more than 140 million people leaving their homes before 2050.

7) Diseases are spreading more easily.

What thrives with warmer-than-average temperatures, extreme heatwaves, and heavy rains? You guessed it: disease-carrying insects.

These vectors live longer lives in extended periods of warm weather. Fly into new areas that were previously too cold. And reproduce in water deposits left by the rain.

Climate change is also creating ideal conditions for waterborne pathogens like bacteria, viruses, and protozoa, which flourish in warmer waters.

For example, a recent CDC report found the number of cases of illnesses transmitted by ticks more than doubled between 2004 and 2016 in the US – particularly in Lyme Disease cases.

So, what can you do?

We know a lot about the climate crisis and we know how to fix it – by switching to cleaner sources of energy and reducing carbon emissions.

That’s why we’re training everyday people like you to make a difference and together make our leaders act on climate. Join us by becoming a Climate Reality Leader at one of our upcoming trainings. Learn more now and apply to join us in Brisbane before April 18!

Effects of climate changeclimate changeclimate crisisThe Climate Reality Project3 Tips from the Experts: How to Talk about the Climate Crisis EffectivelyHow Climate Change Is Impacting Different Places Around the WorldFact: Solar Energy Keeps Getting More AffordableLead: Climate change isn’t something that’s happening in 10 or 20 years. It’s happening now. Here are seven effects of climate change you’ve already seen. facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/7-effects-climate-change-already-seeing?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=generalEmail Subject: 7 Effects of Climate Change You’re Already SeeingTwitter URL: https://bit.ly/2OFq9mJ
ipacha

3 Tips from the Experts: How to Talk about the Climate Crisis Effectively

3 weeks 6 days ago

We admit it: we talk a lot about our Climate Reality Leadership Corps trainings. We just can’t help it – they’re pretty incredible. But one thing we don’t talk about enough is what happens after you attend a training. And believe us: a lot happens.

In fact, we have an incredible team (that’s right, a whole team!) dedicated to helping Climate Reality Leaders get real results. That means when you go home as a trained Leader and start working in your community. You have the support, network, and resources you need to make a real difference.

One of those resources? Webinars featuring inspiring people in the climate movement, like scientists, community leaders, media professionals, campaign organizers, and more.

Recently, we were joined by climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann and actor and powerhouse Climate Reality Leader Tim Guinee for a webinar about how to effectively reach audiences who aren’t as familiar with climate change – or even those who don’t accept the science at all.

We typically reserve webinars and other exclusive content like this for trained Climate Reality Leaders, but we wanted to give you a sneak peek into the kind of resources you’ll have access to after being trained. Here are a few things Tim and Dr. Mann had to say on talking to unusual audiences about the reality of climate change:

Tip #1: Emphasize What You Have in Common
 

The golden rule of being a successful communicator: Put your audience first. What are their values? What do they care about? Start there and try to find common ground with your own values and concerns. The way Tim approaches conversations about the climate crisis with firefighters is very different than the way he approaches conversations at the federal prisons he visits – and both are very different than the faith-based conversations he has about climate change.

For example, at a fire station, Tim wears his dress uniform (he’s a volunteer firefighter). He leads the discussion with “the danger that climate change poses to emergency services” because that’s a concern he and his audience share.

Tim described a different tactic he takes when he speaks with people of faith: “I work a lot around the idea that all religions have a basic thing of loving and caring for our brothers and sisters and loving and caring for creation as an idea. That those are really solid, core religious values"

Sometimes it can be hard to figure out the values you and your audience share. During the webinar, Tim talked about a guiding principle he uses across all his presentations about climate change: “We all want love. We all want to take care of the people we love." If you’re struggling to find common ground with someone as you talk about climate change, this universal truth is a great North Star to help guide a potentially difficult conversation.

Tip #2: Focus on the Science – But Don’t Be Afraid to Use Humor, Either
 

Dr. Mann knows a thing or two about communicating climate change in high-pressure scenarios. During the webinar, he talked about how he approached a congressional hearing to the House Science Committee in 2017. At the hearing, he started with one basic fact: “It is important to make clear at the outset that there is extremely broad agreement among the world’s scientists on the basic facts of human-caused climate change.”

During our webinar, Dr. Mann said he did this to “reclaim the role of science in the discussion.” He wanted to make clear that there can be a vital debate about the policies we choose to help solve climate change, but that the science itself is settled.

Keeping a science focus when you talk about climate change, however, doesn’t mean that wit is off-limits. Dr. Mann and Tim both talked to our Climate Reality Leaders about using humor to break through – as Dr. Mann said, “Rather than barging through the front door with facts and figures and numbers, trying to find a side door that might still be open. And that side door often takes the form of humor.”

Tip #3: Find the Approach that Works for You
 

One of the most important things we can all do to help solve climate change is to simply talk about it with people we know. But that doesn’t mean we all should have the same approach when we strike up a conversation. It’s important to be authentic and figure out what works for you.

As Dr. Mann says, quoting his late friend and climate scientist Steve Schneider, “Know thy audience, know thy self, and know thy stuff. And know thy stuff means also, to me, know what you don’t know and be honest about it. Your audience will appreciate that.”

Want More Resources Like This? Become a Climate Reality Leader

At Climate Reality Leadership Corps trainings, individuals ready to make a difference in our planet’s future spend three days working with former Vice President Al Gore and world-renowned scientists and communicators learning about the climate crisis and how together we can solve it.

Join us and gain the skills, knowledge, and network to shape public opinion, influence policy, and inspire your community to act at this critical time. And after the training is over, you’ll have a network of more than 19,000 other Climate Reality Leaders to connect with, as well as hundreds of incredible resources (like our webinar with Dr. Mann and Tim Guinee) to tap into as you fight climate change at home.

Learn about our upcoming trainings and apply today. Give us three days. We’ll give you the tools to change the world.

*/ Michael MannTim GuineeDr. Michael Mann. Dr. MannHockey Stickwebinarclimate realityAl Goreclimate changeclimate actionglobal warmingClimate Reality Leadership CorpsleadershipleadersThe Climate Reality ProjectHow Climate Change Is Affecting Our LivesDr. Michael Mann on Climate Denial: “It’s Impaired Our Ability to Move Forward”Get the Facts: Why Are Sea Levels Rising?Lead: Two experts, Tim Guinee and Dr. Michael Mann, have some tips for talking about the climate crisis with unusual audiences – or even those who don’t accept the science at all.facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/3-tips-experts-how-talk-about-climate-crisis-effectively?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=CRLCEmail Subject: 3 Tips from the Experts: How to Talk about the Climate Crisis EffectivelyTwitter URL: https://bit.ly/2FB3UKH
ipacha

Talking Climate and Health: Queensland Minister for Health Steven Miles

4 weeks 2 days ago

The Honorable Steven Miles MP is minister for health and minister for ambulance services in the Queensland Parliament. He’s also a Climate Reality Leader.

While he and his wife, Kim, were excitedly awaiting the arrival of their first child, Steven began to think more deeply about protecting Queensland's environment, including the Great Barrier Reef, for future generations. So he joined former US Vice President Al Gore at Climate Reality’s second-ever international training, in Melbourne, Australia in 2007, to learn more about the climate crisis and how to inspire communities to take action.

After the training, he developed a national program to teach workplace representatives about the climate change challenge. It was the first of many incredible steps he would take in the years that followed.

He was first elected to the Queensland Parliament in 2015, becoming minister for environment and the Great Barrier Reef. He took over the health portfolio in 2017, and continues to serve the people of Queensland in the position.

Steven has been a proud member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps, and as part of our December 2018 global broadcast event, 24 Hours of Reality: Protect Our Planet, Protect Ourselves, he joined journalist Josh Elliott to discuss climate action in Australia, the health impacts of the record heat waves that plagued the nation late last year, and much more.

Interview condensed and edited for brevity.

Josh Elliot: Minister Miles, it is great to welcome you back to the show. Always great to have you. And for people who might not know, in fact, you've been a part of Climate Reality now for over a decade – 11 years now. Is it fair to say that the work you've done with Climate Reality has actually influenced the work you've done there in Australia?

Minister Steven Miles: G'day, Josh. It's fantastic to be with you again. It's certainly true that I've been part of The Climate Reality Project now for 11 years. I signed up when my wife was pregnant with our first son, Sam, and he's 11 now. Old enough to join the campaign himself. And throughout that whole time, it's really been a common thread in my political activism, trying to make sure that we do as a state and as a country what we need to do to address climate change. We've got two more kids now, but I'm still doing it for them – those three little kids.

JE: Now, just a couple of minutes ago, we heard the vice president detail the innumerable challenges faced there in Australia. But now as the minister of health, what are the health impacts now that you were seeing due to climate crisis in Queensland?

SM: It's already a pretty hot country, Australia, and when you make the planet hotter that flows through here. We're just in Queensland coming to the end of a record heat wave, a record November heat wave, and the biggest impact is in terms of the immediate heat stress that affects the elderly and children, in particular. Many of them have found themselves in our hospitals this last week, this last week or two. The heat though has also led to an extraordinary number of bush fires. At one stage, we were fighting more than 160 bush fires and they bring with them smoke, of course, asthma, other respiratory diseases that are also affecting Queenslanders.

JE: It also then impacts the financial bottom line. What sort of impact are you seeing as it regards health care cost there?

SM: Obviously our first concern is for the health of Queenslanders, but these events are also putting extraordinary pressure on our health system. Over the last week, the demand for ambulance services has literally been off the charts. They've had to change the scale of the graph they use to show me the number of ambulance call-outs each day, and of course, those kinds of health services are very expensive and we're needing many more of them as it heats up.

JE: Then let's turn the glass half-full, if but for a moment. What then can you do? What is being done to combat this?

SM: Our focus very much has been on transferring our economy to renewables and we've been really successful at that in recent years. We've set our goal of 50 percent renewables by 2030 and we're on track to get there, and that's really the best way to change our entire economy is to change the kind of fuel we're using.

Watch the full interview below:
 


JE: And to that point, Australia again is the largest exporter of coal in the world. Obviously, it's been historically vital to the Australian economy. But given that, then, how do you influence, if nothing else, the political attitudes on matters related to the climate crisis, in particular, when those things seem to run at such loggerheads into each other?

SM: Look, it's true that much of the prosperity we enjoy now has been built off the back of those cheap fossil fuels. And that's also meant that when campaigning for climate action, we've come against some very well-resourced, vested interests. But I believe and I know that our state is also the source of some of the best, most-plentiful, cheapest renewable energy, particularly solar but also wind and others, and that can really drive that next wave of prosperity through our state and we're already seeing that change happening.

JE: Given the fact that the prime minister there in Australia is such an ardent supporter of coal [and] fossil fuels, for you personally, how difficult is it then to manage that politically? Again, when your PM holds such view at such the opposite end of the spectrum?

SM: Well, it has been pretty hard to see our prime minister embrace coal the way that he has really aggressively. But I guess the great thing about Australia is our prime ministers don't last too long – and I'm pretty sure we're gonna have one pretty soon who’ll be much more committed to renewables, much more committed to working with us to deliver that transition, and I'm really looking forward to that.

JE: There's so much more that is great about Australia and Dr. Stepven Miles, again, we appreciate your participation for an eleventh year. We are holding you to your twelfth. We will see you in 364-and-a-half or so days from now. We thank you very much.

From June 57, well be in Brisbane, Australia for our next Climate Reality Leadership Corps training. Climate Reality Leaders (like Steven!) are leading the fight for climate solutions in their own nations and around the world.

Come to Brisbane and you’ll spend three days working with Vice President Gore and world-renowned scientists and communicators learning about the climate crisis and how together we can solve it.

Join us and gain the skills, knowledge, and network to shape public opinion, influence policy, and inspire your community to act at this critical time. Learn more now and apply to join us in Brisbane before April 18!

*/ climate changeclimate crisis24 hours of realityclimate reality leadersteven milesAustraliaQueenslandinterviewThe Climate Reality ProjectWe’re Heading Down Under! Here’s How You Can Join UsTrouble in Paradise: How Does Climate Change Affect Pacific Island Nations?Why Is 1.5 Degrees the Danger Line for Global Warming?Lead: “These events are also putting extraordinary pressure on our health system. Demand for ambulance services has literally been off the charts. They've had to change the scale of the graph they use to show me the number of ambulance call-outs each day.”facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/talking-climate-and-health-queensland-minister-health-steven-miles?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=CRinAUSEmail Subject: Talking Climate and Health: Queensland Minister for Health Steven MilesTwitter URL: https://bit.ly/2TBHPR0
ipacha

Fact: Solar Energy Keeps Getting More Affordable

1 month ago

The sun keeps rising and the costs keep falling! According to the financial advisory firm Lazard, the cost to produce one megawatt-hour of solar fell an incredible 86 percent between 2009 and 2017. Better yet, that means the cost of solar in 2017 was less than half the price of coal the same year.
 


Data Source: Lazard Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis 2017. “Levelized” refers to the lifetime costs of a source divided by its energy production.

Bottom line? Solar is a technology, not a fuel. And as technology develops, it becomes cheaper – unlike finite fossil fuels.

And it’s important to remember that the market price of fossil fuels does not reflect the price we all pay as they’re burned. It doesn’t account for the medical costs to treat asthma, the tax dollars to rebuild after a flood, or the human cost of a hurricane strengthened by climate change. This tells Big Polluters that they can dump unlimited carbon pollution into the atmosphere without any consequences.

But when we use clean, renewable solar energy to power our homes and businesses, we protect our health and our climate.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation out there about solar energy. In our brand-new e-book, we set the story straight and give you the facts so you know what to say the next time you hear a Big Polluter talking point about solar power.

In this free resource, we deliver the facts on:

  • How much solar energy really costs
  • Whether solar panels work when it’s cloudy or cold.
  • How long solar panels really last
  • The ways solar industry is putting people to work around the globe.
  • And much more.

Download the free e-book today and get the truth about solar power!

climate realityclimate crisisAl Goreclimate changethe climate reality projectsolar energysolar factssolar powerrenewablesrenewable energyClean Energyclean powercost of solarsolar priceThe Climate Reality ProjectNatural Gas is Not a Bridge Fuel, But We’ve Got Many AlternativesIt’s a Fact: Wind Energy Is Putting People to WorkHow Do We Know Humans Are Causing Climate Change?Lead: Thomas Edison once said, “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/fact-solar-energy-keeps-getting-more-affordable?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=generalEmail Subject: Fact: Solar Energy Keeps Getting More AffordableTwitter URL: https://bit.ly/2UdQQ76
ipacha

Natural Gas is Not a Bridge Fuel, But We’ve Got Many Alternatives

1 month ago

If you’ve followed the news around energy markets over the past several years, you may have seen a notable trend: natural gas is on the rise around the world, especially in the United States. Less than two decades ago, the majority of electricity in the US was coming from coal. Now, that rate has fallen around 30 percent, while the share of electricity coming from natural gas production has doubled over the past 17 years.

As natural gas expanded, fossil fuel companies were also telling the world a story about how it would help us transition to a cleaner, more sustainable economy. The story, of course, was a lie, but it made use of a few important facts to help sell the deception.

These companies told the world that they believed in achieving sustainability, and that they had found the best path forward: investment in lower-carbon-emitting fuels that would help facilitate the transition. By focusing only on how natural gas emits less carbon than coal (but ignoring its other effects), they pitched natural gas as a “bridge fuel” that would help curb emissions while we transition toward renewables.

So, is it? Is natural gas a bridge fuel?

The short answer is no.

The Problem with Natural Gas

The first thing you need to know is that natural gas still emits carbon dioxide, and even though it emits roughly half that of coal, 50 percent is still way too much given our current climate trajectory. On top of that, using natural gas actually adds another greenhouse gas into our atmosphere, one even more powerful in the near-term: methane.

How much more powerful? Well, when methane enters the atmosphere, it’s about 120 times more powerful than carbon dioxide when it comes to trapping heat.

But emissions don’t cover the full scope of damages that natural gas can have on our environment. Extracting it is dangerous. It can pose threats to watersheds, poison drinking water, clog up streams, and pollute the air for miles around. Natural gas also isn’t used exclusively for electrical power – it’s used in the creation of plastics, meaning it poses environmental and public health threats throughout its lifecycle and for many years after.

If natural gas is a bridge fuel, it’s a bridge to nowhere, and we can’t afford to get lost along our way to achieving net-zero emissions.

But Wait… Do We Even Need a Bridge?

No, we don’t.

In that same period that coal was losing its energy dominance in the US and around the world, investors across the planet were funneling money into research and development for actual renewable resources.

And we’re here to tell you that they work. Not only are they cheaper and greener and more efficient than coal, but they represent a legitimate bridge to sustainability. We don’t need to waste our time making a slow transition. The future is here right now. And it features multiple lanes to achieving our climate goals.

Alternative 1: Solar

The clean energy and green tech conversations of the past decade have been dominated by excitement about solar power. If you’ve followed developments in the solar industry at all, this should come as no surprise. Solar power is everywhere these days. Not only have we seen more households with solar panels on their roofs, but many big names and big companies are investing in solar energy themselves.

From Tesla, Ikea, and Jimmy Carter to Germany, China, and Costa Rica (and many more), solar energy seems to be converting more and more believers by the day – and it’s no secret why.

Solar energy is powerful, cheap, and easier to harness than you might think.

It’s a common myth that solar energy will only work when it’s sunny outside. But the truth is, solar panels can harness and generate energy all year long and in all kinds of weather. Because they’re powered by light and not heat, these bad boys will be able to keep producing energy so long as there is a sun above our heads (and we expect that to be the case for a rather long time). Solar panels typically have warranties of 25–30 years and are actually well-known for outlasting them.

If that’s not enough, the impacts of a transition toward solar are estimated to be huge. Solar panels release zero emissions and produce no toxic gases during use. They offer a more direct pipeline between energy sourcing and the buildings that they power, and while their efficiency keeps improving, their price keeps falling – by over 70 percent in the last decade alone. Moreover, estimates suggest it would require just 0.6 percent of the United States’ land to power the entire country on solar alone.

And in case you’re wondering how much energy we could get from solar, more energy from the sun strikes the Earth every hour than humanity uses in an entire year.

Alternative 2: Wind

Another big player in the green energy space is wind power, and just like solar, wind represents another zero emissions alternative to fossil fuel energy sources. Moreover, investments in the wind energy sector are creating tons of well-paid jobs, with enough capacity to power millions of homes.

Although wind hasn’t quite had its moment in the sun like solar, this sector is growing fast. Ironically, the biggest developments in wind energy have taken place in the fossil-fuel industry-dominated state of Texas, where more wind turbines have been built and installed than anywhere else in the country.

Industry experts suggest that wind is on track to provide 20 percent of the energy for the entire United States by 2030 alone.

As the benefits of wind energy continue to attract investment, it’s clear that this sector presents another viable alternative for achieving our climate goals.

Alternative 3: Geothermal

Another serious contender for the prize of “best” alternative to fossil fuels might just come from an unexpected place: beneath the ground.

Yes, yes, we know that’s been our problem for past few centuries, but this time it’s genuinely different. You see, although you may not know a lot about geothermal energy, it packs a lot of heat in the energy debate.

Geothermal energy systems harvest heat energy that’s contained within the Earth’s crust. These systems can be used to generate electricity and to heat homes. In both cases, using geothermal heat as an energy source, shrinks our carbon footprint and is completely renewable.

Very importantly, residential geothermal systems are built to last an incredibly long time and require minimal maintenance. Moreover, although the sticker price for a residential geothermal energy system can look expensive, the savings homes can expect are significant, amounting to an expected average of 30-70 percent on heating, and 20-50 percent on cooling

If that’s not enough, geothermal energy is consistent, available for use 365 days a year without any variability based on the weather or climate.

Alternative 4: A Combination of the Above

Here’s an important truth:

We’re probably not going to find a “Holy Grail” technology that will be our single source of energy for centuries to come. The task we have is to organize and fight for a greener economy that supports our energy needs while protecting people and the planet.

What does that look like?

Well, we expect it to involve a combination of the energy sources listed above – solar, wind, and geothermal energy. It will also involve improvements in small-scale and low-impact hydropower dams, or the use of other green energy sources not discussed in this blog. We’re only starting to explore the horizons of green energy and technology, but what we’ve uncovered and developed so far is incredible.

Coal’s market share keeps falling. And while oil and natural gas companies are working hard to fill the open spaces left by this dying industry, their technology simply cannot beat renewables in terms of long-term benefits.

The problem is that these industries have never cared about helping anyone but themselves.

That’s why we need fight for the changes that we believe in.

You Can Help Us Cross the Bridge to Sustainability

We know we don’t need a broken, dirty “bridge” to cross over toward a cleaner environment and a more viable economy. What we do need is engaged citizens like you who are willing and ready to fight for change.  

If you think these energy sources could be used in your community, you can take all kinds of steps to make it happen. You might look into how you could switch over to clean energy in your own household. Or if you’re thinking big but need help finding a network of other change makers, you can join a local Climate Reality chapter.

We can do this! But we need your help in making it happen.

© 2013 Loren Kerns/Flickr CC BY 2.0

climate changeclimate crisisnatural gasbridge fuelsolarwindgeothermalchaptersThe Climate Reality ProjectHow is the Climate Crisis Affecting the Mid-Atlantic?Coal Will Not Bring Appalachia Back to Life – But Tech and Government Jobs CouldHow Pittsburgh is Taking Climate ActionLead: The fossil fuel industry wants you to think that natural gas will work as a bridge fuel, connecting us to a future of energy independence and sustainability. But if natural gas is a bridge, it’s a broken one, and there are better alternatives already available.facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/natural-gas-not-bridge-fuel-got-many-alternatives?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=HGWEmail Subject: Natural Gas is Not a Bridge Fuel, But We’ve Got Many AlternativesTwitter URL: https://bit.ly/2TKpJ3p
ipacha

We Tried to Write a Blog About TV Shows Tackling Climate Change. Here’s What Happened

1 month ago

TV showrunners have a lot of work to do.

We came into this blog with a pretty simple goal: To write a listicle about the five best TV shows taking on the climate crisis. A little less than a year ago, we created a similar list of must-see movies, and it turned out to be a big hit.

We had no problem putting that blog together; there were plenty of great movies to choose from. So many in fact, that when we turned our attention to the small screen – but importantly, before we began our research – we set up a fun additional hurdle for ourselves: No docu-series expressly about climate change.

That meant fantastic shows like Years of Living Dangerously and Planet Earth II would have to sit this one out on the bench. That’s how confident we were that there’d be more than enough meaty dramas, reality series that touch on climate while being about something else entirely, and perhaps even a great sitcom or two tackling big issues in a lighthearted way (wherefore art thou, The Good Place or Superstore?) to choose from.

We were wrong.

What we mostly found were crickets. There simply are not many TV shows out there incorporating, oh you know, the biggest crisis facing humanity today into their plotlines. And we thought that was pretty strange.

So what did we find that’s airing now for viewers looking for something thought-provoking for their latest binge? Not a ton – but that’s not to say what is out there isn’t pretty great. (And yes, we’re deliberately ignoring Jesse Eisenberg’s cringe-worthy activist cameo on Modern Family for the sake of all humanity.)

Game of Thrones

OK. So right up top, having just gotten done wagging our proverbial finger at the TV industry for its lack of attention to this crisis, we’re the first to admit that it’s kind of incredible that the biggest show on TV is pretty much one great big allegory for the threat we all face from climate change.

Among the myriad fan theories about the political themes in HBO’s Game of Thrones, the one that’s long held the most weight was recently backed up by none other than George R.R. Martin, author of the A Song of Ice and Fire book series on which the show is based. Late last year, in an interview with New York Times Magazine, the writer laid bare the “great parallel” between his fantasy epic and our modern climate crisis:

"The people in Westeros are fighting their individual battles over power and status and wealth. And those are so distracting them that they’re ignoring the threat of ‘winter is coming,’ which has the potential to destroy all of them and to destroy their world. And there is a great parallel there to, I think, what I see this planet doing here, where we’re fighting our own battles. We’re fighting over issues, important issues, mind you — foreign policy, domestic policy, civil rights, social responsibility, social justice. All of these things are important. But while we’re tearing ourselves apart over this and expending so much energy, there exists this threat of climate change… And it really has the potential to destroy our world.”

The good folks at Vox even put together a terrific, concise video explaining the connection:
 


Life Below Zero

This popular (it’s just wrapped up its eleventh season last month) National Geographic docu-series follows the lives of several remote Alaskans as they deal with the daily pressures and very hard work of living a subsistence lifestyle in the Arctic.

Throughout the show’s run, we’ve watched its cast of characters grow and change – special shout out here to Jessie Holmes, who’s gone from struggling to make his way in early episodes to recently placing seventh in the Iditarod – yet, we hear again and again about how the Arctic they call home is also changing… and not for the better.

From melting permafrost, unseasonal warmth, and flooding to the increasingly erratic migration patterns of the numerous animal species they rely on for survival, nearly every character on the show has at one time or another (and often more than once) spoken of the impact warmer temperatures and changing seasons are having on their lives.

These observations hit especially hard coming from native Alaskan Agnes Hailstone, who lives with her husband and their children in Noorvik, Alaska, just a few miles south of the Arctic Circle. When Agnes, an indigenous Inupiaq whose ancestors have fished and hunted the Alaskan wilds for countless generations, worries where the caribou are or why the fish aren’t running like they used to, it’s especially ominous.

After all, her beloved mother (and hers before her on down the line) taught her how to survive in an Arctic that just doesn’t exist anymore.

Occupied

This critically acclaimed Norwegian political thriller – available in the US and many other countries on Netflix – is a set in a near-future “cleantech-minded Norway held hostage by Russian and EU oil interests” (via Grist). That’s one heck of a hook!

The reason for the hostage situation? The newly elected, pro-environment Norwegian government goes all-in on renewables to fight climate change, halting oil and gas production in the North Sea. What unfolds is part high-stakes political drama, part study of gender and power, and part action thriller. And a lot of highly compelling television.

Watching Occupied, we see the Russian occupation become a broader metaphor for the role of fossil fuels in our lives. As the show suggests, we are all living lives occupied by fossil fuels, forcing us into decisions and down paths none of us would have chosen – it’s right there in the title.

But what pushes Occupied over the line from “good” to “great” isn’t just how clearly the series captures the creeping tyranny of fossil fuels. It’s also how every episode makes the tensions between our ideals and actual actions felt at a skin-tingling visceral level, prodding us at home with one simple question: “What would you do?”

Created by legendary Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbø, Occupied (Okkupert, in its native country) is the most expensive Norwegian television production ever. It’s also been renewed for a third season, but a debut date has not yet been announced.

That’s All, Folks

Yep.

That’s all we got.

But luckily, the dearth of shows tackling the climate crisis seems to be changing, if slowly.

TNT is turning director Bong Joon Ho’s brilliant film Snowpiercer – which we included on our list of 6 Must-See Movies About Climate Change – into a TV series. And Apple TV is working on an adaptation of Nathaniel Rich’s New York Times Magazine story, “Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change,” about “efforts by a number of top scientists, activists, and politicians to stop climate change in the 1980s.”

And that’s great to hear, because as Sara Poirier, an educational consultant on television programs, writes for Yale Climate Connections, TV can play an outsized role in helping vast masses of people understand climate change a little better: “Television remains a leading source of informal education. It’s also a promising vehicle for climate change communication as it can place the issue in an entertaining and informal context, while leveraging the power of visuals.”

Indeed, because this crisis touches every one of us – and because we need to take urgent action now to end it – we should be talking about everywhere. On television. At the movies. On podcasts. In books. Everywhere.

But you know where it’s especially important for factual information about the climate crisis to appear?

On the website of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for crying out loud.

Two years ago, in the spring of 2017, EPA erased the words “climate change” widely across its website. Led by a longtime friend of fossil fuels, EPA’s goal was clear: Hide the climate crisis from us so the oil, coal, and gas companies most responsible for it could keep making billions.

But making the words vanish didn’t make the crisis disappear.

And now we’re fighting back.

It’s time to tell EPA to stop trying to hide the truth, and put the facts about climate change front and center on EPA.gov now.

Sign our petition demanding action now.

*/ climate changeclimate crisisgame of throneslife below zerooccupiedThe Climate Reality ProjectWrong Way at EPA: Three Ways the Agency Is Failing Us Is Natural Gas a Fossil Fuel?Local Meteorologists Are Making the Climate ConnectionLead: Here are three great TV shows that have incorporated the biggest crisis facing humanity today into their stories. Why only three? Because that’s all we could find.facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/we-tried-write-blog-about-tv-shows?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=epa19Email Subject: We Tried to Write a Blog About TV Shows Tackling Climate Change. Here’s What HappenedTwitter URL: https://bit.ly/2TDaWYn
ipacha

Why Is 1.5 Degrees the Danger Line for Global Warming?

1 month 1 week ago

Honestly, it’s a great question.

“Why is holding global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius such a big deal?”

Many people think of the hottest days of the summer where temperatures already hit 40 degrees (that’s 104 degrees Fahrenheit) where they live – or hotter. Another degree or two is a little bit more uncomfortable, sure, but hardly feels like the end of the world.

So how does global warming crossing the 1.5-degree line become –  as one reader put it – “an extinction-level event”?

Spoiler alert: it’s not. At least not for humans. But it is right about the point that scientists project we’ll see some of the climate impacts we already see today begin to go from bad to outright terrifying. It’s about the point where we’ll likely see many natural systems begin to cross dangerous points of no return, triggering lasting changes and transforming life as we know it.

To put it another way, we want to do everything we can to keep warming below 1.5 degrees.

To understand why, read on.

Global Warming Is about Average Temperatures

When we talk about 1.5 degrees of warming, we’re talking about the increase in the Earth’s average temperature. We measure this increase from a baseline average temperature in the mid-to-late nineteenth century – when the Industrial Revolution swung into high gear and people began burning fossil fuels on an unprecedented level, jumpstarting climate change.

The important thing to understand is that global warming that comes from burning fossil fuels is not a uniform process. Due to a host of natural factors, some areas – like the poles – are warming much faster than others. So when we talk about preventing 1.5 degrees of global warming, we’re talking about preventing a 1.5 degree increase in the Earth’s average temperature. Some places have already crossed that line.

Temperatures Will Get Much Hotter than 1.5 Degrees

Global warming reaching 1.5 degrees doesn’t mean that average temperatures in some places won’t rise significantly beyond that number. Again – it’s just the global average.

Then there’s the fact that as average temperatures rise, spikes and heatwaves will go much, much higher than just 1.5 degrees.

As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – basically the gold standard for climate science – reported: “Several regional changes in climate are assessed to occur with global warming up to 1.5°C compared to pre- industrial levels, including warming of extreme temperatures in many regions.”

That’s rock-star-scientist-speak for: “If global warming reaches up to 1.5 degrees, the hottest of the hot temperatures will increase and many (more) places will get dangerously hot.”

We got a preview of what “extreme temperatures in many regions” looked like in 2018.

In Pakistan, a May heatwave took temperatures above 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43.3 degrees Celsius) and cost 65 lives in one city alone.

Europe also had a taste of the new normal last summer, with temperatures soaring above 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius) in Portugal. It wasn’t just Portugal either – the same heatwave roasted countries across the continent, breaking records and costing yet more lives.

All of which is to say, 1.5 degrees is not the limit of how much hotter things will get at some points throughout the year. Far from it.

The Climate Crisis Doesn’t Start at 1.5 Degrees – It’s Already Here

Another critical thing to understand about global warming is that it’s not the case that everything up to 1.49999 degrees is rainbows and unicorns and free ice cream for everyone. (But once we cross the 1.5 degrees-line, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse polish off their martinis, look at each other, and say, “It’s go time.”)

That’s because the climate crisis is already here. Today. Higher temperatures are already dragging out droughts and wiping out crops. Himalayan glaciers that provide water to some 240 million people are already melting. Storms like Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Marie are already getting stronger and more devastating thanks to climate change. The list goes on.

All of these impacts (and so many more) involve complex systems. Some overlap. Some don’t. But what they all have in common is heat. Heat is the factor that throws natural systems with their delicate checks and balances out of whack.

The (over)simple version is that the more heat added to the Earth’s climate system, the more out of balance natural systems get. The more out of balance natural systems get the more destruction and suffering we see. And it’s almost always poor families and people of color who suffer the most.

So where does the 1.5-degree number fit in?

Well, at about 1.5 degrees of global warming is right about where there’s enough heat to push many of the natural systems that sustain us past a dangerous turning point.

Think of 1.5 degrees not as an absolute line in the sand, but as a general indicator of where many climate impacts – on balance – go from destructive to catastrophic. It’s the sign on the door that leads to somewhere very dark indeed, somewhere no one wants to go.

The Bad News: Things Get Worse above 1.5 Degrees

So here’s the bad news: Back in the fall, the IPCC (remember, our team of global rock star scientists) released a report comparing best projections for what global warming looks like at 1.5 degrees versus 2 degrees. And at 2 degrees, we start getting into scenarios that make most dystopian horror movies look like children’s coloring books.

The IPCC projects that going from 1.5 degrees of global warming to 2 degrees could mean:

  • 1.7 billion more people experience severe heatwaves at least once every five years.
  • Seas rise – on average – another 10 centimeters (almost 4 inches),.
  • Up to several hundred million more people become exposed to climate-related risks and poverty.
  • The coral reefs that support marine environments around the world could decline as much as 99 percent.
  • Global fishery catches could decline by another 1.5 million tonnes.

Bottom line: Going above 1.5 degrees of warming puts millions more at risk of potentially life-threatening heatwaves and poverty. It all but wipes out coral reefs that entire ecosystems rely on worldwide. Seas swallow even more of our cities. And that’s just for starters.

The Good News: How Much the Planet Warms Is up to Us

The same IPCC report also noted that human activities (i.e. burning fossil fuels, for the most part) have already caused about 1 degree of global warming and that with all the greenhouse gases we’ve already put in the air, average temperatures will keep rising.

But.

But, as the report goes on, “these emissions alone are unlikely to cause global warming of 1.5°C (medium confidence).” Which is to say, we still have a shot at holding the line at 1.5 degrees and keep what is already a climate crisis affecting millions from becoming a climate catastrophe.

But we have to act and – according to the IPCC – basically cut fossil fuel emissions in half by 2030 to do it. Which means moving very, very quickly to leave oil, coal, and gas behind and accelerate the just transition to clean energy underway around the world.

It’s a big ask and a lot to accomplish in less than 12 years. But nothing less than the future of the Earth is at stake. As teenage activist (and inspiration for the school strikes for climate spreading around the world) Greta Thunberg said, “Our house is on fire.” We know what we have to do to put it out.

There is such a thing as moving too slowly.

Learn more about the science of the climate crisis transforming our world and how we can solve it by downloading our free e-book, Climate Crisis 101.

climate crisisglobal warming1.5 degreesclimate changeThe Climate Reality Project2030 or Bust: 5 Key Takeaways from the IPCC ReportHow Climate Change Is Impacting Different Places Around the WorldWrong Way at EPA: Three Ways the Agency Is Failing Us Lead: How a seemingly small change in average temperatures could trigger lasting changes for life as we know it. facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/why-15-degrees-danger-line-global-warming?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=generalEmail Subject: Why Is 1.5 Degrees the Danger Line for Global Warming?Twitter URL: https://bit.ly/2FlO87r
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Climate Reality Leader Haven Coleman Talks Today’s Youth Climate Strike

1 month 1 week ago

Haven Coleman, a Climate Reality Leader from Colorado, is a young woman working for a brighter world for her generation – and generations to follow.

She may be young, but she and a growing movement of other young people are teaching adults a valuable lesson: Global leaders need to take the climate crisis seriously – and they need to start now.

And on Friday, March 15 (that’s today!), their movement will have its biggest day yet.

Thousands of students in over 1,600 locations in 105 countries – including 41 US states – are set to walk out from school, striking to demand real action to solve the climate crisis while we still have time.

We talked to Haven about the strike, the response she’s seen leading up to today, and what they hope to achieve with their walkout.

Read our interview below.

Climate Reality: How did you get involved in the school strike movement?

Haven Coleman: I got involved in the school strike movement by simply just starting to strike outside buildings in Denver at the beginning of January. I had seen Greta Thunberg and the kids in Europe and Australia striking this past fall semester and decided it was time for me to start helping out too.

>> Read more: Why Are Students Walking Out of School On Friday? <<

Why school strike?

I school strike because this is my future, my life. Climate change is and will affect me and my generation for our whole lives. Climate change will be affecting every generation now starting with ours. I fight for not only myself but for millions across the world who need a livable world.

What do you want to achieve with the March 15 event?

I want adults to start acting to the extent we need them to and I want them to enact the political changes needed for the system changes that are needed. Basically, I just want them to fight climate change and stop the worst effects of it so I can go back to being a kid, like now.

What role do youth have in this movement?

One of the only things us kids have that is powerful is our voices. Our role is to use our words and large numbers to influence politicians and other leading adults to make the changes needed.
 

Climate Reality Leaders: Haven Coleman

Meet Haven Coleman, a bold and persistent youngster who’s using her “special powers” as a Climate Reality Leader to change the world.

Posted by Climate Reality on Friday, January 12, 2018


What kind of response have you seen so far?

The response has been surprisingly positive. My school has accommodated my absences and my missed school work because they understand the importance of what I am doing. The responses on the street while striking weekly have been more positive than negative, and people stop to talk with me about climate change, which is cool. The media are very eager to talk about climate change now too because of the climate strikes. Overall school striking and organizing nationally has been a really great and really positive experience.

How can students get involved? How can older generations support them and the event?

Students can get involved with the movement by going to an organized strike, or making a sign and striking outside of their city or state government building. Parents can help by supporting their kids, getting us to our strikes or calling in our absences. Adults of all kinds can support the youth fighting by posting about it on social media, wearing green, or attending a strike near them.

At Climate Reality, we’re beyond inspired by what’s happening. We want to show these young world-changers that people young and old are with them every step of the way.

Join us today – Friday, March 15 – in tweeting to show your support for the school strike and young activists fight for a safe and sustainable future for all of us.

  climate realityclimate changestudent strikeactionHaven Colemanclimate reality leaderThe Climate Reality ProjectWhy Are Students Walking out of School on Friday?Wrong Way at EPA: Three Ways the Agency Is Failing Us Talking Climate and Health: “The Uninhabitable Earth” Author David Wallace-WellsLead: We talked to a student – and longtime climate champion – who is ready to strike to demand action on the climate crisis. Here’s what she had to say.facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/climate-reality-leader-haven-coleman-talks-today-youth-climate-strike?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=strikeEmail Subject: Climate Reality Leader Haven Coleman Talks Today’s Youth Climate StrikeTwitter URL: https://bit.ly/2VZN5PW
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Trouble in Paradise: How Does Climate Change Affect Pacific Island Nations?

1 month 1 week ago

But at least one thing unites all these people and places: the climate crisis threatens their future. That’s why we’re headed to Brisbane, Australia this June to train people from the Pacific islands – as well as Australia, New Zealand, and countries across the Asia Pacific region – to become Climate Reality Leaders and lead the fight for climate solutions wherever they call home.

Different places experience the climate crisis differently. But as Tuvaluan Prime Minister Enele Sosene Sopoaga has said, Pacific islands – which are especially vulnerable to rising seas and all the devastation that comes with them – feel its impacts much more keenly than most places: “Climate change represents the single greatest threat to the livelihoods of the people living on low-lying, vulnerable countries.”

Which Countries Are Pacific Island Nations?

Pacific island nations are considered to be islands located in the Pacific Ocean that are east of both Australia and the Philippines. These islands span as far west as Papua New Guinea and as far east as Easter Island. Sometimes this region is referred to as Oceania – which also includes island continent Australia.

These islands are often grouped into three ethno-geographic regions: Micronesia, Polynesia, and Melanesia. You’ve probably heard of New Zealand, Samoa, and Hawai’i, but (as you can see in the map below), there are many more countries in the region.
 


Rising Temperatures 

Here’s the climate reality: As humans burn more and more fossil fuels, we’re releasing heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. That means we’re experiencing warmer temperatures both above water and below it.

On Land: In 2018, the Oceania region endured it’s third warmest-year on record, with temperatures 2.1 degrees Fahrenheit (or 1.2 degrees Celsius) above average. It might not seem like much, but a small change in temperature can really disrupt systems we depend on to survive. After all, think of the difference between 33 and 32 degrees Fahrenheit (1 and 0 Celsius).

As our world becomes warmer, climate impacts can be seen everywhere you look. Scientists observe (and everyday people experience) things like sea-level rise, longer and more intense wildfire seasons, and devastating droughts.

In the Ocean: Things aren’t just getting warmer above ground as humans continue to burn fossil fuels. Ocean temperatures are also rising, with “temperatures from the surface to a depth of 660 feet rising by as much as 3.6°F” in the Pacific region, according to the US National Climate Assessment.

That’s because our oceans are absorbing much of the extra heat in our atmosphere – with new ocean heat records set again and again. Many kinds of marine life – from coral to fish – struggle to adapt to the warmer water and often die. This has devastating impacts on coral reefs, fisheries, and resources that Pacific Islanders depend on to survive.

According to the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), “Pacific Ocean-based fishing and tourism provide USD $3.3 billion to the national economics of Pacific countries and territories.” Just like on land, ecosystems depend on a stable climate to survive – and our economies with them.
 

Climbing Seas

Here’s the climate reality: Sea-level rise is an undeniable and existential threat for the people who live on islands in the Pacific.

While it’s bad enough that seas are climbing around the world, the Pacific region is seeing seas rise much faster than the global average. There’s a very real threat that these islands could be swallowed up by the sea – in fact, some already have been.

Here’s the stark choice that one low-lying Pacific island nation faces: either relocate or elevate. The Republic of the Marshall Islands (which consists of 29 atolls made up of over 1,200 islets) is considering whether to relocate all 55,000 of its citizens (making them climate refugees) or to build one elevated island and consolidate its population there.

As Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine told former US Vice President Al Gore during the 2019 24 Hours of Reality global broadcast, “[By] 2030, we’re expected to be underwater. So, it is our livelihood. It is the very existence of the Marshall Islands that’s at stake.”
 

 

And the number one cause of sea-level rise? Climate change. As we’ve explained in earlier blogs, rising temperatures are directly linked to rising seas in two main ways:

  • The added heat melts glaciers and ice sheets. This means extra water flowing into our oceans, making them higher than they used to be. Massive ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica – and land ice elsewhere – are weakening, breaking off, and melting. The ice melts and seas rise even more.
     
  • Water expands as it warms. Imagine a pot of water heating on the stove. The volume of that water in the pot expands as it heats up. Now imagine the entire ocean doing that.

>> Related: Get the facts about sea-level rise in our free fact sheet <<

Hurricanes, Typhoons, and Tropical Cyclones

Here’s the climate reality: Climate scientists expect that hurricanes around the world will become more intense due to climate change. Because of geography and sometimes-limited resources, Pacific island nations are already especially vulnerable to these disasters. 

We’ve already established that, on average, sea surface temperatures are climbing across the globe. And as sea surface temperatures become warmer, hurricanes can become more powerful. (By the way, hurricanes, typhoons, and tropical cyclones are all the same weather phenomenon. But different regions generally use different names.)

As climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann told Climate Reality, “For a long time, we’ve understood, based on pretty simple physics, that as you warm the ocean’s surface, you’re going to get more intense hurricanes. Whether you get more hurricanes or fewer hurricanes, the strongest storms will tend to become stronger.” Think of a hurricane like an engine and warm, moist air as its fuel
 


For Pacific island nations, hurricanes (or as they’re known in the region, tropical cyclones) are already a very real threat. In 2015, Tropical Cyclone Pam hit the Republic of Vanuatu and devastated the nation. It’s considered one of the worst disasters in the country’s history and damages cost the equivalent of 64 percent of the country’s 2016 GDP.

This isn’t supposed to happen. As Kiribati’s then-President Anote Tong said in 2015, “When you're on the equator, it's supposed to be in the doldrums. We're not supposed to get the cyclones. We create them, and then we send them either north or south. But they aren't supposed to come back. But for the first time, at the beginning of this year, the Cyclone Pam, which destroyed Vanuatu, and in the process, the very edges of it actually touched our two southernmost islands.”

Many small island nations have limited capacity to respond to and recover from natural disasters like this. As hurricanes are projected to become more intense due to climate change, Pacific island nations will be especially vulnerable to their wrath.

Don’t Forget: There’s Hope

Oof. That felt a little bleak, didn’t it? A lot of not-so-great news. But here at Climate Reality, we believe in climate hope. That’s because we aren’t powerless to stop climate change in the Pacific islands or anywhere else. The solutions to this crisis are available today.

Like you, for one. And thousands of people like you. To date, we’ve trained more than 17,000 people across the globe to fight climate change at home. These people – Climate Reality Leaders – have been instrumental in pushing cities to embrace renewable electricity, organizing national youth climate strikes, and so, so, so much more.

This June, we’re headed to Brisbane to train our latest class of Climate Reality Leaders to take action in Australia, the Pacific islands, and beyond. Will you join us?

Climate Reality Leaders come from all walks of life. But they all share the same desire to make a difference and help create a sustainable future for the Earth. And we want to see you at our next training in Brisbane. Learn more and apply today.

*/ Pacific IslandsOceaniaAustraliaBrisbaneclimate realityclimate changeclimate actionleadersleadershiplead on climateAl GoreSamoaHawaiiPacific Oceanhurricanestyphoonstropical cyclonesSea-level riseThe Climate Reality ProjectWe’re Heading Down Under! Here’s How You Can Join UsHow Do We Know Humans Are Causing Climate Change?Islands Making Waves [VIDEO]Lead: Pacific island nations are home to millions of people and span millions of square miles of ocean. Hundreds of languages are spoken across thousands of islands and each nation has its own unique cultures and traditions. facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/trouble-paradise-how-does-climate-change-affect-pacific-island-nations?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=CRinAUSEmail Subject: Trouble in Paradise: How Does Climate Change Affect Pacific Island Nations?Twitter URL: https://bit.ly/2UA242J
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Dishing Up a Plate of Impact

1 month 1 week ago

They say that the way to someone’s heart is through their stomach. We don’t disagree! At The Climate Reality Project, there’s nothing we love more than serving delicious, local, and climate-friendly food at our Leadership Corps training events.

We’re committed to offering environmentally conscious menus whenever we bring our community together. Whether we’re gathering a group of 20 for dinner or planning a 2,000-person Climate Reality Leadership Corps training, menu sustainability is always top-of-mind for us.

But as you can probably guess, creating climate-friendly menus for 2,000 people takes a lot of effort! Curious how we do it? Read on to see what steps we take to ensure the menus for our trainings have as small a carbon footprint as possible.

MENU DESIGN: KEEP IT LOCAL

We have hosted Climate Reality Leadership Corps trainings all over the world, from Los Angeles and Manila to Johannesburg and New Delhi. Wherever we go, we work hard to make sure our trainings reflect the local community. We tailor our programs to focus on regional issues, feature speakers from the area, and hold our trainings in venues that are easily accessible to the local community.

We also craft menus that showcase local foods. For each training, we work with chefs and catering companies to develop dishes made with ingredients sourced from local farmers and purveyors. Not only does this bring the flavor of our host communities to our trainings, but it also helps drastically decrease the transportation footprint of the meals we serve.

>> If You Build It Green, Climate Reality Leaders Will Come <<

SHRINK YOUR WASTE:  RIGHT-SIZE YOUR MENU

Here, we’re talking about reducing the amount of leftovers by not over-ordering food.

We see it time and time again – event organizers (with the best of intentions) order food for exactly the number of people registered. Yet, at the end of the day a large portion of that food ends up being tossed out due to “no shows” or attendees who are not able to make the event due to illness or other circumstance.

Instead, at Climate Reality, we use a formula to order just the right amount of food, based both on the number of people registered and historic attrition rates.

Another waste minimization strategy we use is to serve food on plates that are slightly smaller than average.

Think about it – how many times have you filled your plate to the brim and ended up being too full to finish? By providing slightly smaller plates, we encourage attendees to take less food for their first serving. If it fills them up, great! If not, there are always seconds to be had.

By ordering as close to the right amount of food as possible and encouraging attendees to take only what they’ll actually eat, we’re able to keep our trainees full while minimizing leftovers.
 


TECH FOR GOOD:  GOODR

The rise of new technologies, combined with a shift in focus from creating purely bottom-line-driven businesses to social enterprises, has given way to a new crop of entrepreneurs tackling some of the oldest environmental challenges in new ways. 

One such entrepreneur is Jasmine Crowe, founder of the Atlanta-based Goodr. Goodr is a food-waste management company that redirects surplus food from businesses to nonprofits that can share it with the homeless and families who are food insecure. By using the Goodr app, companies (including Turner Broadcasting Systems, Georgia World Congress Center, and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport) can signal that they have extra food ready to be collected and dispersed. Goodr provides the packaging and blockchain technology to process the transaction.

Goodr is one of the key reasons we selected the Georgia World Congress Center as our venue for the Atlanta Climate Reality Leadership Corps training

Capturing excess food and implementing a food recovery effort is part of our sustainable event management plan. The Georgia World Congress Center has been working with Goodr as their food donation partner and they shared their impressive results from the fourth quarter of last year:

STICK TO FOOD: REDUCE YOUR PACKAGING

There’s nothing we dislike more than getting ready to dig into a delicious meal…and seeing that it comes with a side of plastic packaging. That’s why we work with our caterers to remove packaging from the catering plan and keep the focus on the food.

One of our favorite meals to serve at trainings is an (un)boxed lunch. In these meals, we serve all the staples of a typical boxed lunch – salads, sandwiches, fruit, sides, and desserts – without the box!

While many caterers are used to serving these items wrapped in plastic and packaged in a disposable box, we work with our caterers to serve them on a buffet platter with reusable dishware and silverware.

And we can’t forget about the extras that help spice up our meals. We serve all condiments – from ketchup and mustard to salad dressing – in bulk, so our attendees can take as much as they want while avoiding individual packaging. Similarly, for all coffee and tea services we provide, the condiments come in bulk.

With an easy change in style of service, we’re able to provide the same delicious meal options while eliminating unnecessary waste.

EAT YOUR VEGGIES: DITCH THE MEAT

We’ve got a beef…with beef. There’s no question about it – a vegetarian diet has a much lower carbon footprint than a diet that includes meat. If everyone in the US cut meat out of their diet for just one day, it would prevent GHG emissions equal to 1.2 million tons of CO2.

At our trainings, attendees are fueled by hearty meals that are entirely vegetarian, with vegan options available. These meals are delicious and keep our attendees energized for three days of learning, skill building, and networking around climate action.

READY FOR ACTION? 

So there you have it – a quick guide to how we create sustainable food plans for our events. 

Tell us how you’re taking action at your green events by using the hashtags #LeadOnClimate and #GreenEvent!

And to learn more about how you can join a sustainable Climate Reality Leadership Corps event, visit our upcoming trainings page.

*/ climate realityClimate Reality Leadership CorpstrainingcateringsustainablelocalJaime NackSpring Into Action: 6 Tips for Climate-Smart Gardening‘Lasagna Gardening’: Grow Healthy Veggies While Taking Climate Action Take Climate Action by Transforming Your Lawn with Edible LandscapingLead: With the right plan, event catering can produce a wave of social and environmental benefits.facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/dishing-plate-impact?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=CRinATLEmail Subject: Dishing Up a Plate of ImpactTwitter URL: https://bit.ly/2TyCq1b
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