Young Climate Reality Leaders Take Climate Action to the Courts

3 days 23 hours ago

Without a global shift to clean, renewable energy, today’s children and young adults will face a world none of us would wish for them.

No young person would be blamed for feeling overwhelmed, frightened, and helpless looking ahead at that prospect – the prospect of a world with runaway climate change.

And yet, here at Climate Reality, we see at every turn that the fight for action and the case for hope is being led by the youngest among us.

Take, for example, the US federal court case Juliana v. United States.

Back in 2015, a group of young people based in Oregon filed a constitutional climate lawsuit against the US government. The young plaintiffs were assisted by the nonprofit Our Children’s Trust, which was formed by attorney Julia Olson after she became a mother, saw An Inconvenient Truth, and began to seriously consider the world we are leaving for future generations. Olson was inspired to start representing legal cases that charge the government with mitigating climate change under the public trust doctrine.

According to the Our Children’s Trust site, the case filed by the 21 young plaintiffs in Juliana v. US asserts, “Through the government's affirmative actions that cause climate change, it has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources.”

We’re deeply humbled by the courage and tenacity shown by these young people – one of whom was just eight years old when the case began – as they’ve engaged in a drawn-out legal fight with the highest powers in the country.

And we’re honored that five of those plaintiffs can call themselves Climate Reality Leaders. Nick Venner of Lakewood, Colorado was trained in Iowa in 2015. Isaac and Miko Vergun, of Beaverton, Oregon were trained in Seattle in 2017, as was Aji Piper of Seattle, Washington. And Xiutezcatl Tonatiuh M. has performed at Climate Reality events and contributed to 24 Hours of Reality.

Not long after the case was filed back in 2015, it saw the first of what would become many attempts by the defendants to delay and stop it from going to trial.

For two years – as the children grew, lived their lives, and in some cases, fought similar battles at subnational levels – Juliana v. US was held up by various motions and court orders. Eventually, in June 2017, a trial date was set for February 5 of this year.

That triggered a series of increasingly vigorous attempts by the Trump Administration, deploying rarely used procedural tactics, to stop the case.

Administration lawyers started by filing a petition for a writ of mandamus, essentially arguing that the case should have been dismissed for seeking “wholesale changes in federal government policy based on utterly unprecedented legal theories” and arguing that trial preparation would cause the government harm due to the volume of information it would be required to provide.

The plaintiffs filed a response, oral arguments were heard, and though the writ of mandamus was unanimously rejected by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the trial date was put on hold – rescheduled for October 29, 2018.

Over the course of the summer, the government tried several more procedural tactics to avoid trial, all of which were eventually rejected.

The government moved on to the US Supreme Court, petitioning the highest court in the country for a stay to delay the trial – that request, as well, was denied, and the 21 young plaintiffs continued to look to October 29 as their pending day in court.

With the help of the YouthvGov campaign, concerned Americans planned big courthouse rallies across the country for October 29.

But on October 18, just 11 days before trial, the Trump Administration again filed a writ of mandamus petition and application for stay asking to circumvent normal federal litigation procedures.

The US Supreme Court ordered a temporary administrative stay to review the petition and the plaintiffs’ response. The plaintiffs filed that response promptly and requested that the case be allowed to proceed on October 29, pointing out the many mischaracterizations of the lawsuit by the Trump Administration.

The October 29 date came and went.

Then on November 2, the Supreme Court ruled that the case could move forward after all, and the plaintiffs filed a request with a district court in Oregon, asking for a hearing. The excitement was short-lived, however: Just six days later, on November 8, part of the Trump Administration’s request for a temporary stay was granted by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. So while trial preparations are still going ahead following the Supreme Court’s decision, the young plaintiffs must respond to the new procedural ruling within 15 days.

Climate Reality Leader and Chapter Chair Paula Clements, Climate Reality Solutions Associate Kelsey Anderson, and Climate Reality Engagement Director Olena Alec at a YouthvGov rally in Virginia on October 29.

The case is part of a global trend in lawsuits alleging that governments have a responsibility to protect natural resources – including the atmosphere – for their people.

Both Norway and the Netherlands have had to adjust climate policies in response to public-trust based lawsuits, and a similar case is proceeding in Pakistan.

Young Climate Reality Leaders have been involved in similar cases at both the federal and state levels across the US. They includes Alec Loorz, featured in this video, whose case ended in 2014, and Delaney Reynolds, whose case in the state of Florida is also facing delays due to extreme procedural tactics on the part of the government.

Though we must wait to see how Juliana v. US will play out in court, we’re incredibly proud of the young people who are facing their future and choosing not to accept hopelessness as the only way forward.

Aji Piper gave a moving TedX talk on his case, and toward the end of it he talked about what it will mean for the 21 youth plaintiffs if they win – or lose – in court:

“If we win, the day that that ruling is handed down from the courts, it’ll create a feeling of relief and hope that is palpable, you will literally feel it like emanating off of me. And the reason for that is that I will have finally been heard, my generation will have been heard, and then change will start to happen.

“But I want to remind everyone here that at that point the battle for change is not going to be easy. It’s still going to be hard. Because we’ve waited too long without action. And the second question is what if we lose. I don’t believe that a single person in here…wants us to lose. And I know that it’s hard to agree on policy – implementation, policy, regulations, all of that stuff. But you can’t turn a blind eye to the future anymore.”

We couldn’t agree more.

climate realityclimate reality leadersyouthclimatelawsuitJuliana v. United Statesfuturerights Content Components:  Not in the US? 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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. The Climate Reality Project2030 or Bust: 5 Key Takeaways from the IPCC ReportClimate Change and Health: ChildrenGet the Facts: Why Are Sea Levels Rising?Lead: Our Climate Reality Leaders know all too well what the future could look like for today’s young people – and they’re taking action to mitigate the worst of it.facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/young-climate-reality-leaders-take-climate-action-courts?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=generalEmail Subject: Young Climate Reality Leaders Take Climate Action to the CourtsTwitter URL: https://bit.ly/2AW2E3s
ipacha

Don’t Miss Climate’s Big Day

5 days 19 hours ago

Fossil fuels are driving a climate crisis, and the climate crisis is threatening the health of our families and communities. Extreme weather is on the rise. Infectious diseases are spreading. Our food and our water are increasingly at risk. Pollution is choking the air we breathe.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Hosted by former Vice President Al Gore, the global broadcast event 24 Hours of Reality: Protect Our Planet, Protect Ourselves will sound the alarm on the clear and present danger that fossil fuels and climate change pose to the health of families and communities across the planet.

During the broadcast, you’ll hear from experts about how the climate crisis is affecting the health of people around the world. Just as important, Protect Our Planet, Protect Ourselves will show how we can solve this crisis and create healthier, thriving communities by making a global transition to clean, renewable energy.
 


24 Hours of Reality is our groundbreaking live global broadcast event that focuses the world’s attention on the full truth, scope, and scale of the climate crisis. Every year for one special day, The Climate Reality Project unites people around the globe to demand real solutions to the greatest challenge of our time.

Featuring thought-leaders, celebrities, short films, and live appearances, 24 Hours of Reality travels around the planet to places like the United States, China, Mexico, Germany and dozens of other countries, telling the real-world stories of how people around the globe are being affected by the climate crisis – along with the solutions we have at hand to solve these issues.

Sign up here to get the latest news, information, celebrity announcements, and special offers about this year’s 24 Hours of Reality.

Be on the lookout for more details about this year’s live broadcast event, guests, and musical performances soon. In the meantime, here’s a look at what’s in store for 24 Hours of Reality: Protect Our Planet, Protect Ourselves.

*/ 24 Hours24 hours of realityclimate changeclimateHealthhealthyclimate actionAl Goreclimate realityThe Climate Reality ProjectClimate Change and Health: WildfiresClimate Change and Health: Test Your Knowledge (QUIZ)Climate Change and Health: ChildrenLead: We stand at an important moment in the movement for solutions to the climate crisis. facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/dont-miss-climate-big-day?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=24hoursEmail Subject: Don’t Miss Climate’s Big Day Twitter URL: https://bit.ly/2Ow9tfG
ipacha

An Open Letter from Earth to America

1 week ago
 

Withdrawl

It’s not goodbye, it’s see you at the polls. #BeAVoter #StandWithEarth

Posted by Earth for America on Friday, November 2, 2018


My fellow Americans,

My name is Earth and, until last Friday, I was running for Congress (I guess penguins can’t hold public office? Who knew?). But this isn’t goodbye – it’s see you at the polls.

Young people have a bad rap for not showing up to vote, but I have a feeling that this year is going to be different. There are 69.2 million young voters in America. If we all huddled together in voting booths on November 6, we would be the most powerful voice in this country. As a penguin, I know that we can all get through the harshest of storms if we stick together and each one of us does their part.

You can’t vote for me, but it’s still really important that you vote. In every race, across the ballot. (Quick, find your polling place!)

I know, you’re probably thinking, “What’s one vote really gonna do?” But here are the facts:

Your vote matters. Your vote matters. Your vote matters.

I’m not trying to hypnotize you, I’m just being real. It’s one of the easiest, and most impactful ways to make a difference. Do it for Earth. The planet. But me, too.

Whatever you had planned to do on election day, go vote instead. Whatever you believe in, go vote.

Whoever you are, go vote.

Yours sincerely,
Earth

earthpenguinvotecongressclimate changerenewable energyland conservationelection dayNovemberThe Climate Reality ProjectMeet Earth, the Penguin Running for CongressQuiz: How Much Do You Know About Renewable Energy?How Climate Change Is Impacting Different Places Around the USLead: Until last Friday, Earth was the first-ever penguin running for a seat in Congress. She recently withdrew her candidacy because, turns out, flightless birds can’t run for elected office. Read on for an exclusive open letter from the former candidate on how you can make a difference this November. facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/open-letter-earth-america?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=EFAEmail Subject: An Open Letter from Earth to America Twitter URL: https://bit.ly/2DnIli2
ipacha

Will Washington State Go First on Carbon Pricing?

1 week 4 days ago

In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s an election on November 6. And if you listen to the ads on any side, it’s the most important election of our lifetimes.

But if you look past the congressional and governors’ races dominating the media, there’s a quietly critical vote for the climate happening out in Washington State. Because if the vote – to approve Initiative 1631 – succeeds, it means the first state-wide carbon fee system in the US, and the first time a state is taking action on greenhouse gas emissions at this level and working to create a fair energy system that works for everyone.

What Is Carbon Pricing?

If you’re new to carbon pricing initiatives like I-1631, here’s one way to think about it.

Imagine you’re a homeowner and every day, a truck pulls up and dumps a few empty bottles, food scraps, and bits of plastic in your front yard. Then the truck just drives off.

At first, maybe you don’t think too much of it. But before long, the trash starts really piling up. After a week, flies are buzzing and you see rats scampering away every time you open the door. The whole place is starting to smell and your kids are getting sick.

You call the company who owns the truck, asking them to take care of the trash or at least pay for what they’ve done. But they couldn’t care less.

“Sorry, pal. Can’t help you,” the receptionist says, “Just a cost of us doing business.”

On the way home one day, you notice that it’s not just you. All your neighbors have these huge piles of trash outside their houses too. And by now, the whole neighborhood reeks. Plus, almost everyone you pass seems to be coughing.

So you get together and petition the city government. Tell them that this company is making more and more people sick while slowly ruining the community environment. Tell them this company should clean up their own mess or at least pay for the damage they do. If they have to pay for their trash, they’ll start rethinking their business. After all, it’s only fair.

In a way, this is how I-1631 works. Carbon pollution from fossil fuel companies and big utilities is driving the climate crisis, devastating our natural environment while leading to all kinds of health threats from rising cancer risks to more and more dangerous storms, all across the planet.

The thing is, the companies most responsible aren’t picking up the bill. The rest of us are.

Carbon fees like I-1631’s essentially flip that dynamic on its head, charging big polluters for the global warming pollution they produce and encouraging them to shift to more climate-friendly forms of energy like wind and solar.

The idea is that the more you pollute, the more you pay. But if you use clean, renewable energy instead, you pay nothing (and get ahead of the dirty competition).

Which is to say that carbon pricing isn’t just a policy – it’s a fundamentally different way of thinking about energy. One that starts and ends with a belief in fairness.

How Does I-1631 Work?

In a nutshell, I-1631 would charge big polluters (think fossil fuel companies and power plant operators) $15 per metric ton of carbon pollution starting in January 2020. This fee would go up over time until Washington meets its greenhouse gas reduction goals for 2035 (25 percent below 1990 levels) and is on track to meet its 2050 goals (50 percent below 1990 levels).

Who Benefits?

The first and short answer is: everyone. Less carbon pollution means less climate change and a healthier environment for everyone.

The second (read: longer) answer has to do with the structure of I-1631. The initiative would create a carbon fee, not a carbon tax (according to the state’s constitution) and the difference matters.

Why? Because the initiative creates clear guidelines for how the money raised through the fee gets used. We’re talking real money here, with an estimated $2.3 billion coming in the first five years alone.

What I-1631 gets right is that it uses the bulk of this money to accelerate the shift to a low-carbon economy – and do it right. The initiative creates a dedicated fund to invest in key areas of a just transition, including:

  • Clean energy and efficiency projects
  • Low-carbon transit initiatives
  • Carbon sequestration programs
  • Job-training programs for fossil fuel workers
  • Bill assistance for low-income families.

To put it another way, I-1631 isn’t just about ending the fossil fuel economy that brought us climate change. It’s about creating a clean energy future that will bring us a better and fairer future.

The initiative also puts 25 percent of funds to habitat and environmental restoration. Critically, it also directs 5 percent of the money raised to raise awareness and support communities – especially tribal communities – affected by rising seas, wildfires, and other climate impacts.

Who’s in the Way?

Fossil fuel companies (no surprise), which has contributed nearly $22 million to the No campaign on its own, almost double the entire Yes campaign. You’ve seen the resulting fear-fear-fear playbook before.

Didn’t Washington Try to Pass Carbon Pricing Already?

Yes. Twice.

In the most recent legislative session, state legislators tried (unsuccessfully) to bring a carbon pricing bill up for a vote.

The bigger deal was Initiative 732, which was on the ballot in November 2016 and lost 59-41 percent. There are two major differences between I-1631 (on the ballot this year) and last year’s failed I-732.

The first is structure. Without getting too much into the weeds, I-732 was set up as a tax on carbon emissions. Anticipating the initiative might lead to higher fuel costs, the initiative’s backers aimed to soften the blow by designing it to also lower the state’s sales tax from 6.5 percent to 5.5 percent, increase low-income tax credits, and cut Washington’s business and occupation tax to almost zero (0.001 percent).

The initiative’s architects designed it to be revenue-neutral (that is, lead to little if any impact on the state’s overall budget), claiming that the increase in carbon tax revenues would offset sales and business tax losses and even raise the state budget. But other analysts projected it would cut state revenues anywhere from $78—200 million each year.

Which leads to the other big difference between the two initiatives: equity and inclusion. Last year’s I-732 campaign made only late and little efforts to bring voices from low-income and minority communities most affected by climate change into the process. Plus, the real threat of the initiative shrinking the state budget and shrinking services for communities who need them the most meant this was a hard No.

The result was a deeply divided green community, with many environmental justice and clean energy groups like Green for All and the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy opposing it. The overall message boiled down to “We’ve got to do this and cut carbon emissions, but do it right and in ways that work for everyone. This isn’t the way to go.”

So What’s Next?

The I-1631 campaign listened and learned from the mistakes of 2016, building a broad coalition from the outset and designing the initiative specifically to help low-income families and communities on the frontlines of climate change. The result is an initiative that aims not just to stop the climate change we don’t want, but help create the fairer economy we do.

In an October 9 poll, the Yes vote was leading, with 50 percent of respondents supporting the measure and 36 percent opposed (with 14 percent undecided). But a lot can happen in a month in politics. What comes next is up to Washington voters.

Why Is I-1631 Such a Big Deal?

Just to the north of Washington, the Canadian province of British Columbia introduced carbon pricing in 2008 – and instead of collapsing, the province’s economy has grown faster than the rest of Canada’s.

BC isn’t alone. Alberta and Quebec have introduced carbon pricing plans and Canada’s federal government will implement a national plan for all provinces without their own plan starting in 2019. Sweden has cut emissions by 25 percent while growing its GDP by 60 percent with a carbon tax in place.

But in the US, no state has any carbon fee plan like this. And fossil fuel companies would really, really, really like to keep it that way.

One reason that this matters is what we’re now hearing from the world’s top scientists at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Just last month, the IPCC released a report with the punchline that if we want to avert the worst of climate change, we have to limit global warming to about 1.5 degrees Celsius. And to do that, we have to cut global emissions by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030. That’s a big – but doable – ask.

Smart and fair carbon pricing plans like I-1631 are going to be a big part of how we do that. But in the US, someone has to go first. And once one state shows the rest of the country that we can put a price on carbon and do just fine economically, more and more Americans are going to want their state to follow suit.

The result could be a domino effect, with carbon pricing spreading to more and more states until these initiatives are as unusual and remarkable as, well, a trip to the DMV. And that’s exactly what fossil fuel companies are scared of – and why they’re pumping millions into the No campaign.

There’s a lot on the line for all Americans in the November elections. But for Washington, there’s even more. Watch what happens in the Northwest on November 6.

Do you know where you’re voting on November 6? Find your polling place (or in some states, find how you can register to vote) by visiting the Earth for America campaign.

Sponsored by The Climate Reality Project, 750 9th St NW, Suite 520, Washington DC 20001

 

Washington StateWashingtonseattle1631Clean Energycarbon pricingpricing pollutionCarbonpollutionThe Climate Reality ProjectWhat You Need to Know about Carbon Pricing 2030 or Bust: 5 Key Takeaways from the IPCC ReportEthane Cracker Plants: What Are They?Lead: On election day, Initiative 1631 gives Washington State voters the chance to implement the first statewide carbon fee in the US. Here’s what’s at stake and why success in the Northwest could be the start of a turning point on climate across the country.facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/will-washington-state-go-first-carbon-pricing?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=generalEmail Subject: Will Washington State Go First on Carbon Pricing?Twitter URL: https://bit.ly/2JzsMUG
rtaylor

Get the Facts: Why Are Sea Levels Rising?

1 week 6 days ago

Of all the impacts of climate change, sea-level rise may be one of most well-known – perhaps because of its popularity in TV shows and blockbuster movies.

But – surprise, surprise – reality is a little more complicated than the movies. Don’t worry – we’ve got the facts. Here are your questions about sea-level rise, answered.

Sea-Level Rise: Defined

We can talk about sea-level rise in two different ways: relative sea-level rise and absolute sea-level rise. The Environmental Protection Agency (before it was headed up by climate deniers and industry lobbyists, that is) defined it well:

  • Relative sea level change is how the height of the ocean rises or falls relative to the land at a particular location.”
  • “In contrast, absolute sea level change refers to the height of the ocean surface above the center of the earth, without regard to whether nearby land is rising or falling.”

Remember: Our oceans do not work like a bathtub or sink: when you fill up a tub with water, the water rises steadily. But research has shown that seas actually rise unevenly – putting some communities even more at risk than others. Relative sea levels are different because local factors are at play, like land subsidence (or sinking) and wind and ocean circulations.

Change in sea level since 1993 as observed by NASA satellites. (Source)

Why Are Sea Levels Rising?

We can’t overstate this: As our world becomes warmer and warmer, our seas will continue to rise. That’s because the number one cause of sea-level rise is climate change.

Here’s the breakdown:

As humans burn fossil fuels, we add more and more greenhouse gases (like carbon dioxide) to our atmosphere. These gases trap heat sort of like a blanket (or a greenhouse — that’s why it’s called the greenhouse effect) and make our world heat up.

While our globe warms, this added heat directly fuels sea-level rise in two big 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.
Why Is Sea-Level Rise Bad?

Get this: Eight of the world’s 10 largest cities are located near a coast. As sea levels rise, millions of people around the world are affected by increased coastal flooding and coastal erosion, as well as higher storm surges moving further inland.

We’re not talking about something happening in 10 years. We’re talking about something happening right now – and unless we act, the danger will only grow.

According to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, if we can limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (instead of the 2 degree target many policymakers use) by 2100, we’ll see slower sea-level rise and give vulnerable island nations and coastal communities more time to prepare and adapt. We have the power to determine what the future looks like for future generations, and it’s our responsibility to use it.

>> Related: 2030 or Bust: 5 Key Takeaways from the IPCC Report <<

What Can I Do?

Download our free fact sheet on sea-level rise – then, use it to talk to people you know about sea-level rise, climate change, and why we should take action. Our fact sheets are simple and straightforward, making it easy to understand complicated issues quickly.

If you want to branch out, we also have fact sheets covering renewable energy, fossil fuels, and the connections between infectious disease and the climate crisis.

Get the free Climate 101: Sea-Level Rise factsheet now!

Sea-level risesea riseSea Level Risesea level changeoceans risingoceanoceansseasclimate changerising seasglobal warmingislandsisland nationsThe Climate Reality ProjectClimate Change and Health: HurricanesIslands Making Waves [VIDEO]How Climate Change Is Impacting Different Places Around the WorldLead: As our world becomes warmer and warmer, our seas will continue to rise. That’s because the number one cause of sea-level rise is climate change.facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/get-facts-why-are-sea-levels-rising?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=generalEmail Subject: Get the Facts: Why Are Sea-Levels Rising?Twitter URL: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/get-facts-why-are-sea-levels-rising?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=general
John Mitchell

Climate Change and Health: Test Your Knowledge (QUIZ)

2 weeks 5 days ago

Those of us committed to solving the climate crisis all share a common purpose. But each of us also bring our own set of skills (and our own story) to the table.

Some of us are techies with our eyes and ears wide open for the latest advances in efficiency and renewable energy. Others are more focused on the science of climate change itself – always following the latest data point or new scientific study. While others still keep things on a more human level, advocating loudly for justice for the modest-income households and indigenous communities on the front lines of so many climate impacts. 

>> Discover what kind of climate activist you are – take our quiz now! <<

One facet of the climate fight, however, tends to truly rally the masses because it affects us all – regardless of finances or geography, race or education – in the most fundamental way.

When it comes to climate impacts on public health, we all have a stake. And climate change may be the greatest threat to global health we’ve ever known.

From more dangerous extreme weather and spreading infectious diseases to increasing concerns over food and water security, the dirty fingerprints of the climate crisis are all over many major health threats.

But how much do you really know about climate change’s impact on human health? Put your know-how to the test with our quiz below.
 


It’s clear that the climate crisis poses a very real threat to human health across the globe. If no action is taken, millions – perhaps billions – of people are at risk from extreme weather like hurricanes and heat waves, malnutrition, infectious disease, and much more.

So how do we fight back?

By taking action.

When We Protect the Planet, We Protect Ourselves

It’s a fact: Fossil fuels are driving a climate crisis and threatening the health of our families and communities. Extreme weather is on the rise. Infectious diseases are spreading. Our food and water are increasingly at risk. And yet, far too few people are talking about it.

It’s time to break the silence. It’s time to get our leaders and people everywhere talking about this threat.

On December 3-4, join us for 24 Hours of Reality: Protect Our Planet, Protect Ourselves. During the broadcast, we’ll travel across the Earth for 24 hours to witness how fossil fuels and climate change are creating an ever-more dangerous world for all of us.

We’ll speak to thought leaders, policymakers, scientists, and more to learn more about the many health risks this crisis has created or deepened. We’ll also feature musical performances by some of today’s biggest artists, lending their voices to the growing chorus calling for action.

We know that solutions are available today. Protect Our Planet, Protect Ourselves will show how we can solve this crisis and create healthier, thriving communities by making a global transition to clean, renewable energy.

Make sure to RSVP and tune in to the broadcast on December 3-4. You don’t want to miss it!

climate changeclimate crisisHealthQuizpublic healthhurricanesfloodsheatmosquitosThe Climate Reality ProjectClimate Change and Florida: What You Need to KnowAmericans Will Win on Climate (Yes, Really!)How Does Climate Change Affect Georgia?Lead: How much do you really know about climate change’s impact on human health? Put your know-how to the test with our quiz below.facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/climate-change-and-health-test-your-knowledge-quiz?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=generalEmail Subject: Climate Change and Health: Test Your Knowledge (QUIZ)Twitter URL: https://bit.ly/2Am6GSC
ipacha

Meet Earth, the Penguin Running for Congress

2 weeks 6 days ago

Have you met Earth? Climate Reality sat down with the first-ever penguin running for Congress to get to know her a little better. Earth’s platform includes land conservation, electric vehicles, energy efficiency, and green jobs — but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Read on to get to know Earth, and be sure to check out her official website (and find your polling place!)

What got you interested in politics?

Oh, so we’re just going to penguin dive right into this thing?

(That was an icebreaker.)

(So was that.)

In all seriousness, I learned about environmental injustice at a very young age. Our home ice in Antarctica disappeared and my family had to leave. Things don’t get more black and white than that.

Once I was in the US, I saw all kinds of threats. Hurricanes that appear to get stronger every year, pollution filling the air we breathe, pipelines spilling seemingly every day. I couldn’t sit back and watch it all happen, so I got involved in some grassroots efforts. Like, literally—efforts to protect our grass and roots. Land conservation is so important to me.

There’s great work being done in the private and non-profit sectors. But I also believe that governments have a role to play in all these things. So, I’m diving into politics.

What keeps you hopeful?

Seeing how passionate young people have become on all sorts of issues. We’re woke, people. And our generation holds a lot of power right now. If we can rally around protecting the future and get everyone out to vote, we just might save the world. I mean, we saved Twinkies, right? What can’t we do?

What can I say, I’m a fish tank-half-full kinda gal.
 

Earth Endorsement

She’s a penguin of the people and she’s got my vote. Consider this my official endorsement of Congressional candidate Earth for America. Check out her platform at earthforamerica.com and make sure to vote on Nov 6! #StandWithEarth

Posted by Al Gore on Tuesday, October 9, 2018


Can you describe yourself in three words?

Really. Good. Swimmer.

What’s the best part about running for Congress?

Getting to know the constituents! It’s one thing to know the issues, but another to get to know the people they touch. I’ve met a mom of two kids with asthma who has to worry about the air pollution coming from a coal plant in her town. Families in Florida who just lost their homes to Hurricane Michael. And just last week I talked to some super smart college grads who are dying to get out into the renewable energy field.

I’ve loved getting to know each and every one of them. They remind me that these issues aren’t just words in a policy paper or headline. They remind me why I decided to run.

We heard you’re a real fish connoisseur. Would you rather: Never be able to eat fish again or eat fish every day, but it’s smelly and old?

Love a good would-you-rather. I would have to say the second. Week-old pizza is still pizza, ya know? The same goes for fish, at least for me.

What’s your biggest phobia?

The extinction of entire species due to deforestation, pollution, or human activity in general. Oh, and dentists. But I don’t have teeth so I’m usually safe there.

Choose one Chris: Pine, Evans, Hemsworth, or Pratt?

Pine. Obvs. (Chris Paul ain’t bad either, FWIW.) I'm not afraid to stand up for what I believe in and you shouldn't be, either. So register to vote if you haven’t already and show up on November 6.

See you at the polls.

Earth out.

Be sure to visit Earth's site and check out her platform!

  Earth for Americaearthclimate changepenguinvoteglobal warmingEnergy Efficiencyland conservationElectric VehiclesThe Climate Reality ProjectHow Climate Change Is Impacting Different Places Around the USThis Is a Big Deal: California Goes All in on Clean EnergyAmericans Will Win on Climate (Yes, Really!)Lead: She’s a planet lover. An environmental activist. A smoked fish enthusiast. And she’s running for Congress. facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/meet-earth-penguin-running-congress?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=EFAEmail Subject: Meet Earth, the Penguin Running for CongressTwitter URL: https://bit.ly/2PkotSi
ipacha

Ethane Cracker Plants: What Are They?

3 weeks ago

Think of it as the fossil fuel industry’s sneak attack.

Right when all the recent climate-fueled heatwaves, wildfires, and hurricanes should be making everyone jump on the clean energy train as fast as possible, fossil fuel companies are introducing a new tactic to lock us into a dirty energy economy.

That tactic: Building ethane cracker plants.

The name sounds kind of funny, but climate activists are taking them deadly seriously. Especially because – according to the American Chemistry Council – industry is looking to invest over $200 billion on new ethane cracker facilities and projects in order to capitalize on the abundance of cheap natural gas.

Once all those plants get built (alongside all the pipelines and infrastructure to support them), leaving natural gas behind gets a whole lot harder. Politically and practically. No wonder fossil fuel companies are all in on ethane cracker plants.

The worst part is that these plants aren’t just bad for the planet. They’re bad – really, really bad – for our health, spewing all kinds of dangerous chemicals into the air. But before we get there, let’s start with the most basic question: What is an ethane cracker plant anyways?

What Is an “Ethane Cracker”?

Ethane crackers are plants that perform the first step in the process of transforming ethane – a component of natural gas – into plastics products.

First, the plants separate ethane from natural gas to produce ethylene, the building block of plastics and other industrial products. The plants use extreme heat to “crack” the molecular bonds in ethane to produce ethylene. Ethylene is further processed into a resin, which is used to produce plastics products.

At a time when some 10 million tons of plastic already goes into the ocean each year, ethane crackers coming online mean we’re going to see a growth of plastic waste in our landfills, oceans, and waterways.

More Natural Gas Fracking, More Climate Change

Building ethane crackers is a shortcut to creating more demand for natural gas – pure and simple. Ethane crackers depend on natural gas for their ethane supply. They also use natural gas to generate electricity. Plus, building more ethane cracker facilities will increase the construction of fracking infrastructure. All of which slows down the transition to clean energy.

And just in case the wildfires in California, shattered heat records, and climate-fueled storms like Hurricane Florence haven’t made it clear enough, we really need to stop burning fossil fuels. 

Look, facts are facts, and there’s no denying that natural gas emits far less carbon dioxide when burned than dirty coal. But CO2 also isn’t the only greenhouse gas driving the climate crisis – and there are many other pollution concerns related to this bridge to nowhere.

Fracking also leads to emissions of another powerful greenhouse gas, methane. Natural gas drilling, extraction, and transportation through pipelines allow methane to leak into the atmosphere, trapping more heat and driving more climate change.

Research shows that the fossil fuel industry is responsible for up to 25 percent of total global methane emissions. And while methane doesn’t remain in the air as long, it does trap about 84 times more heat than CO2 over a 20-year period, making it an extremely powerful greenhouse gas.

Natural gas isn’t clean, nor is it environmentally friendly. Fracking natural gas requires massive volumes of water, which can seriously strain local groundwater supplies.

Then there’s all the dangerous chemicals that go into our air and water, thanks to fracking. In the process of fracking, water is mixed with chemicals and injected deep into layers of shale underground. When the water is removed from the well, it’s full of highly dangerous volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like xylene, other toxic chemicals, and radioactive materials.

Naturally, this water can’t be disposed of easily. So it’s then taken to Class II injection wells, where it’s pumped at great pressure back into the ground. Not only can this process contaminate groundwater with chemicals linked to serious and lifelong mental impairment in children, but it’s also has been linked to increased seismic activity (aka, earthquakes).

Ethane Crackers and Health Impacts

In addition to their climate and environmental impacts, the construction of ethane cracker plants, pipelines, and other fracking infrastructure is extremely dangerous for the health and well-being of those employed in these facilities and the surrounding communities.

While proponents celebrate the construction of ethane cracker facilities as job creators, people working in petrochemical facilities face significant health risks. Studies show that petrochemical employees that are exposed to toxins tend to have a higher risk of brain cancer compared to employees in other professions.

Remember those VOCs in fracking fluid? Emissions from ethane cracker plants can expose workers and the surrounding community to VOCs like ethylene and propylene, which when combined with sunlight rapidly form ground-level ozone. Ground-level ozone, or smog, has been associated with increased rates of asthma, lung and respiratory infections, and cardiovascular problems.

The danger doesn’t stop there. Ethane cracker plants release a whole host of hazardous air pollutants such as:

  • Benzene (linked to cancer and childhood leukemia)
  • Toluene (linked to brain, liver, and kidney problems in addition to infant mortality and birth defects)
  • Formaldehyde (a known carcinogen).

These facilities can also emit particulate matter, which can pass through the lungs directly into the bloodstream, contributing further to cardiovascular and respiratory disease and lung and bladder cancer.

It All Adds Up to a Bad Deal for the Planet – and a Bad Deal for Our Health

It is clear that there are a vast number of reasons why we should say no to the planned construction of ethane cracker facilities. Not only are they fueling climate change by increasing fossil fuel consumption, but these facilities also pose a great threat to the local environment, public health, and safety.

As we mentioned, ethane crackers are one step in the creation of petrochemical complexes, which require pipeline infrastructure in order to easily transport supplies from fracking wells. For this reason, many of the recently proposed ethane cracker projects are located near existing fracking infrastructure.

Here’s the Good News

Many of these ethane cracker facilities and the accompanying pipeline projects are not a done deal. Construction of fossil fuel infrastructure like ethane cracker plants and pipelines require a variety of permits from local, state, and federal governments. Typically, these permitting processes have multiple opportunities for public input and can be influenced by pressure from activists, politicians, and concerned individuals. 

The bottom line: You can have a voice in whether ethane cracker plants get built in your community. Educate yourself on the issue and join other activists in the community in your local Climate Reality chapter.

Most importantly, speak up. Talk to your friends and neighbors about ethane cracker plants and the danger to community health. Write letters to the editor to counter industry public relations. Make sure the truth gets out. Join the movement and stop these plants from taking over your community with your local Climate Reality chapter today.

 

Photo: Brook Lenker. March 5, 2018. Provided by FracTracker Alliance, fractracker.org/photos.

climate realityclimate changeclimate crisisethanenatural gascracker plantsmethaneHealthThe Climate Reality Project3 Big Myths about Natural Gas and Our ClimateThis is How Local Climate Action Gets StartedClimate Change and Health: Food SecurityLead: Ethane cracker plants are the fossil fuel industry’s latest attempt to lock us into a dirty energy economy, bringing extensive and expensive infrastructure that fills our air and water with toxic chemicals while contributing to the climate crisis and slowing the transition to renewables.facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/ethane-cracker-plants-what-are-they?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=generalEmail Subject: Ethane Cracker Plants: What Are They?Twitter URL: https://bit.ly/2C2DktL
ipacha

Quiz: How Does Climate Change Affect Pet Health?

3 weeks 1 day ago

Climate change doesn't just affect the world we humans live in. Or habitats for wildlife. It also affects the world and health of some of our best friends: the animals like cats, dogs, and turtles we share our lives with.

As just one example, thanks to rising temperatures, disease carrying fleas, ticks, and mosquitos are becoming more widespread pests and causing problems not just several months a year, but year-round in some places. For pet owners, this may mean rethinking how often you administer preventive care like flea and tick repellent and heartworm pills.

Then there’s the question of climate related extreme weather events. Because when storms and floods force people from their homes, so often thousands and thousands of dogs, cats, and more find themselves displaced or alone.

Are you well versed in how climate change can affect the health of your companions? Take our latest quiz below to find out!

It’s clear: climate change is bad for Fido, as well as humans. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Creating a safer world for our best friends starts with understanding what’s happening to our planet – and then taking action to protect it.

During 24 Hours of Reality: Protect Our Planet, Protect Ourselves, we’ll do just that. Over 24 hours, former Vice President Al Gore will be joined by thought leaders, policymakers, scientists, activists, and people just like you as we tell stories from around the globe about how fossil fuels are impacting our health today.

Just as important, we’ll show how people are rising up to the challenge by working hard to build a healthier, more prosperous future powered by renewable energy. (It doesn’t hurt that we’ll have some incredible musical acts, too.)

Sign up for updates about Protect Our Planet, Protect Ourselves and make sure to tune in alongside millions of others across the globe on December 3-4, 2018.

 

climate changepetsHealthdogscatsQuiztrainingsign upThe Climate Reality ProjectWait, Why Is Climate Change a Bad Thing?Climate Change and Health: ChildrenHow Climate Change Is Impacting Different Places Around the WorldLead: Did you know that climate change can affect your pets and their health? Take this quiz to see how. facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/quiz-how-does-climate-change-affect-pet-health?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=generalEmail Subject: Quiz: How Does Climate Change Affect Pet Health?Twitter URL: https://bit.ly/2PCQtNQ
cgould

3 Big Reasons To Fight the Dirty Power Scam

3 weeks 4 days ago
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Here are three simple reasons why the EPA’s proposed replacement for America’s Clean Power Plan is bad news for all of us:

1. The Dirty Power Scam Is Bad for Our Health

Plain and simple, the Dirty Power Scam puts Big Polluters over people. It allows the fossil fuel industry to keep pumping more and more pollution into our atmosphere without meaningful federal limits.

And who pays? American families do – with our health. In fact, according to the EPA’s own analysis, this new rule could mean up to 1,400 more premature deaths and 96,000 more cases of exacerbated asthma every year by 2030.

2. The Dirty Power Scam Is Bad for American Jobs

Again, according to the EPA’s own analysis, the Dirty Power Scam is expected to create zero or negligible net new jobs. And this while solar panel installer and wind turbine service technician top the list of the fastest-growing occupations in the US. The Trump Administration needs to see which way the wind is blowing and create policies that actually help American workers.

 

Fight Back: Add Your Name Now

 

3. The Dirty Power Scam Fails to Address Climate Change

According to the Washington Post, this new rule would allow power plants to release at least 12 times the amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere over the next decade.

Yes, you read that right – 12 times as much carbon pollution. In a time when we see the impacts of climate change all around us, we can’t afford to keep pumping more and more carbon dioxide into our atmosphere.

It’s clear: We need to raise our voices and stand up against the Dirty Power Scam. Thousands of Americans have already spoken up. You can join them by adding your name today.

climate changeenvironmentclimate actionactivismEPAAndrew Wheelerclean power planDirty Power Scamtrump Content Components:  The Climate Reality ProjectClimate Change and Health: ChildrenHow Climate Change Is Impacting Different Places Around the USMajority Rules: American Attitudes on Climate in 7 StatsLead: We’ll cut to the chase: Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is headed up by a former coal lobbyist. And acting EPA Administrator Wheeler is still working for polluters instead of the American people. facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/3-big-reasons-fight-dirty-power-scam?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=majorityEmail Subject: 3 Big Reasons To Fight the Dirty Power Scam Twitter URL: https://bit.ly/2C9KMU0
ipacha

2030 or Bust: 5 Key Takeaways from the IPCC Report

3 weeks 5 days ago

We have to think big and act quickly if we want to keep global warming at levels we can live with.

That’s the inevitable conclusion from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) latest report, Global Warming of 1.5ºC. In case you don’t spend every day deciphering UN acronyms, the IPCC is the voice of the world’s top climate scientists. The organization brings together literally thousands of scientists and researchers working in every related field from atmospheric sciences to marine biology and on every continent to distill what we know about what’s happening to our planet.

To put it another way, if there’s any single organization you can trust to have a clear view of the climate crisis and tell it like it is – without politics, without hype – it’s the IPCC. Which means that when it says we don’t have time to wait, we don’t have time to wait.

The Backstory Matters

Back in 2015, the Paris Agreement committed the world to the goal of “Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

It’s an ambitious goal, no doubt about it. But that 2 degree number first came not from hard science, but an economist – the legendary William Nordhaus back in 1975. Through some twists and turns, it made its way into policy circles and the popular imagination as the limit of safe adaptation and, well, just kind of stuck.

So after policymakers reached the Paris Agreement with the 1.5 and 2 degree targets, the UN commissioned the IPCC to determine what exactly they meant in the real world, studying everything from sea levels to wildlife habitat to poverty alleviation.

More simply, what is the world we’re fighting for? And can we even get there?

What the IPCC found – and the report details – should be a wakeup call to the world. Especially with leaders getting ready to head to Poland for COP 24 to work out how we turn high-level pledges into practical next steps on the ground.

The report covers a lot of ground – a whole lot of ground – but here are the five takeaways that stand out.

1. We’re already at 1 degree – How Much Hotter Is up to Us

The report estimates that since the Industrial Revolution, human activity (i.e. burning fossil fuels) has already put enough carbon pollution into the atmosphere to raise global mean temperatures between 0.8 and 1.2 degrees Celsius. Call it – as the report does – 1 degree.

All the pollution already in the atmosphere will keep trapping heat for years, whatever we do. But on their own, current greenhouse gas levels are unlikely to raise temperatures another half degree or more. Which is to say, how much global warming continues from now is basically in our hands. Starting now.

2. There’s a Big Difference between Today and 1.5 Degrees – and a Huge Difference between 1.5 and 2 Degrees

If you’ve seen the movie Argo, you’ll remember the scene where the CIA agent Tony Mendez – played by Ben Affleck – pitches the crazy we’ll-go-into-Iran-posing-as-a-Canadian-film-crew-and-rescue-the-hostages plan to his boss.

His boss, CIA Director Stansfield Turner, listens with an expression of pure stupefaction and asks, “You don’t have a better bad idea than this?”

Mendez tells him, “This is the best bad idea we have, sir.”

Today, 1.5 degrees is the best bad idea we have for limiting global warming. This is the world we’re fighting for.

The report details a host of likely results of reaching 1.5 degrees of warming: storms growing even more powerful; oceans becoming more acidic and killing off major sections of coral; whole sections of landmasses transforming from one ecosystem to another. Truly, the list goes on and there’s every reason to be very, very concerned.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that 1.5 degrees, while bad, is a world we can live with (with the right planning and adaptation, especially supporting people living in low-lying areas and islands who will lose their homes to rising seas).

Things get outright terrifying at 2 degrees. The report shifts many predictions in this scenario from “high confidence” (science for “the sun will rise tomorrow”) to medium confidence (science for “dropping a tomato off a roof likely gives you ketchup”). But the picture is clear: massive ecosystem loss; potentially irreversible melting of ice sheets triggering sea-level rise affecting millions; species extinction; annual fishery catches declining by up to 3 million tons. This is Halloween movies stuff.

Bottom line one: We don’t want to go there. Bottom line two: 1.5 is the new 2 degrees.

3. It’s 2030 or Bust

Because all the greenhouse gases we emit today have a nasty habit of sticking around like boors at a party – still taking up space and ruining the atmosphere long after everyone else has left – we have only a short window to radically reduce emissions if we want to keep warming to 1.5 degrees.

That window closes – more or less – around 2030.

As the report outlines, if we want to hold the line to 1.5 degrees, we have to slash emissions by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030. Then we have to reach net-zero around 2050. The scenarios for 2 degrees are a little more forgiving, with a lot more devastation as a result: 20 percent by 2030 and net-zero by about 2075.

These are reductions planet-wide. After 2030, all signs point to greater levels of greenhouse gases starting a domino effect of climate risks we can’t accurately predict but are pretty sure no one wants to see.
 

The Degree of Disaster

The worst of climate change was supposed to be decades away, but the world's top climate scientists just came out with a report saying it's closer than we ever could have ever imagined. #YEARSproject

Posted by The Years Project on Wednesday, October 10, 2018


4. It’s a Big Ask

Reading the report, there’s a huge question that doesn’t come to mind as much as take over every inch of your synapses. Namely, how the (four-letter-word) do we solve this?

The IPCC has an answer, in one key passage:

“Pathways limiting global warming to 1.5°C with no or limited overshoot would require rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban and infrastructure (including transport and buildings), and industrial systems (high confidence). These systems transitions are unprecedented in terms of scale, but not necessarily in terms of speed, and imply deep emissions reductions in all sectors, a wide portfolio of mitigation options and a significant upscaling of investments in those options (medium confidence).”

In normal people words, the message is this: We’ve got to move faster and go further than we ever have before. We’ve got to transform every aspect of how we use energy, from how we produce it (i.e. shifting completely to renewable and zero-carbon energy) to how we use it (i.e. rapidly electrify our transportation networks and greatly increase energy efficiency).

And that’s just for starters. And we have to start, well, now.

That’s the stuff we know how to do – because we do. A little farther down, the report drops in one more requirement. To hold the 1.5 degree line, we also need to remove carbon from the atmosphere on a pretty significant scale.

Now if you read that and think, “Oh, that’s great. How do we do that?”, you’re not alone. In fact, you’ve just asked the $69 trillion question (this being the IPCC’s number for carbon removal in a 2-degree world). Because we don’t yet have an answer. Not at least for the scale we need. The good news is that lots of very, very smart people are working on the answer. But we’re not there yet. It’s hard to like this answer, but there you go.

In some ways, the huge changes we need to see by 2030 make the next decade feel like a planet-wide psychology experiment. With the future of the world literally at stake, will we change?

The simple answer is that we have to. Yes, it’s a big ask. Yes, it will be hard. But so was reaching the South Pole in 1911. So was putting a man on the moon. So was eradicating smallpox. The difference this time is that it’s not up to a crack team of explorers or scientists. It’s up to all of us.

5. Paris Is Not Enough

This one is short: Current pledges in the Paris Agreement will get us to about 3 degrees of warming by 2100. Not 1.5, not even 2 degrees. Three degrees. That’s a world none of us want to live in. That’s a world we wouldn’t wish on anyone.

This is one prediction the report makes with medium (think: dropping tomato produces ketchup) confidence, but even if it’s off a little, the general shape is clear and the conclusion is inevitable: We need to radically strengthen Paris Agreements and get to work right away.

With world leaders getting ready to meet in Poland for the UN’s COP 24 climate conference to hammer out the next steps of how countries will meet and strengthen their pledges, the timing of this report couldn’t be more critical.

If hearing about the IPCC report has you a little shook up, well that’s about right. It’s worth repeating that the future of the world is at stake here.

But you should also take away hope. Because the report does have a silver lining. What comes next – and how much our climate changes – really is up to us. Which might be the most hopeful and empowering message of all.

If you’re ready to join the fight for a sustainable future and you’re in the US, join your local Climate Reality chapter and get to work on practical solutions in your own community with others just like you. No matter where you live, sign up to learn about upcoming Climate Reality Leadership Corps trainings where you’ll work with former Vice President Al Gore and field-leading experts learning how you can lead your community in transitioning to clean energy and adopting other cost-effective and proven strategies for reducing carbon emissions.

IPCCclimate change2030policyglobal warmingDisastercrisisparisCOP 24The Climate Reality ProjectHow Do Scientists Know How Hot It Will Be in 100 Years?How Climate Change Is Impacting Different Places Around the WorldThis is How Local Climate Action Gets StartedLead: Holding global warming to the Paris Agreement best-effort target of 1.5 degrees Celsius will be a big ask and require rapid and large-scale transformations of our economies and development paths. We have a short window to hit this goal, but holding warming to about 1.5 degrees is the difference between a world we can adapt to and one threatening life planet-wide.facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/2030-or-bust-5-key-takeaways-ipcc-report?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=RFPEmail Subject: 2030 or Bust: 5 Key Takeaways from the IPCC ReportTwitter URL: https://bit.ly/2ynmpiK
ipacha

Climate Change and Florida: What You Need to Know

4 weeks ago

If you’ve never been, we can’t recommend enough that you set aside some time to visit the great state of Florida.

Picturesque, diverse cities full of colorful architecture, spicy food, and music you can’t help but move to. Thrilling amusement parks that attract visitors from around the world. A 1.5-million-acre World Heritage Site and national park made up of wetlands, coastal mangroves, sawgrass marshes, and pine flatwoods. Legendary race tracks, seemingly endless white-sand beaches, the home of one of the greatest writers ever, the US’ primary launch center for space exploration.

Check, check, and check. The Sunshine State has a little something for everyone – but in our warming world, it also faces many unique threats that put all that history, culture, and natural grandeur in jeopardy.

The scar of damage carved across the state’s panhandle (and deep into the southeastern United States) recently by powerful, climate change-fueled Hurricane Michael threw into sharp relief exactly what’s at stake in Florida – and how in the blink of an eye the impacts of the climate crisis can defy expectations and turn ruinous.

Hurricanes and Tropical Storms

Florida, like so many states up and down the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, has witnessed an increase in extreme weather events as a result of our changing climate. The reason why is fairly simple science. 
 

Hurricane Michael Hits

BREAKING: Supercharged by extra-warm ocean waters, Hurricane Michael slammed into Florida with windspeeds just 2 miles per hour short of a Category 5 storm. #YEARSproject

Posted by The Years Project on Wednesday, October 10, 2018

“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,” world-renowned climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann told Climate Reality late last year. “Whether you get more hurricanes or fewer hurricanes, the strongest storms will tend to become stronger.”

So as sea surface temperatures become warmer, hurricanes become more powerful. In recent years, with temperatures in parts of the Atlantic Ocean running well above longtime averages, we’ve seen how this dynamic can play out across the southeastern United States. And Florida’s geography – that of a relatively flat peninsula, jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico – leaves it especially vulnerable. 

Last year, Hurricane Irma became the first Category 4 hurricane to strike the state since Charley in 2004, precipitating the largest evacuation in the state's history. And while Hurricane Matthew ultimately stayed just offshore, traveling parallel to the Florida coastline, the dirty fingerprints of the climate crisis were all over the speed with which it strengthened, leading to devastation on the Caribbean island of Haiti.

 “It spun up from a tropical storm into a Category 5 hurricane in just 36 hours. That’s extremely unusual,” Climate Reality’s founder and chairman, former US Vice President Al Gore, said of Matthew.

If the scenario described by Vice President Gore last year sounds especially familiar, it’s because rapid intensification has also been a major part of the story of Hurricane Michael, which quickly spun from a tropical storm into a Category 4 monster before crashing into the Gulf Coast of Florida on October 10.

“Hurricane Michael took millions of residents by surprise, intensifying from a tropical storm to a major hurricane in just two days and leaving little time for preparations,” the New York Times writes. “[P]art of the explanation for the intensification was warmer-than-average waters in the Gulf of Mexico, which in some places was up by 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, or two degrees Celsius.”

>> Learn more about how climate crisis-exacerbated hurricanes threaten public health. <<

In addition, changes in overall precipitation patterns are expected more generally as the climate crisis unfolds, leading to more heavy and more sporadic rainfall events, intensifying drought-flood cycles, and further increasing the risk of extreme flooding during major storms like Matthew and Irma.

Sea-Level Rise

Outside the immediate and dire threat of hurricane season, discussions of Florida and climate change often center squarely on the risk posed by our swelling seas. There’s a good reason for that: Florida’s cities, infrastructure, beachfront homes, and natural ecosystems are among the most vulnerable in the world to sea-level rise.

A headline from the Miami Herald this summer says it all: “Florida has more to lose with sea rise than anywhere else in the US, new study says.”

The paper’s article details a Union of Concerned Scientists report that took a flood model from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and applied it to housing information from real estate database Zillow. The findings were alarming.

“By 2045, nearly 64,000 homes in Florida face flooding every other week. Half of those are in South Florida,” the Miami Herald writes.

And a little further down the road, the number of Floridians who could lose their homes to rising seas may explode.

“By the end of the century, Florida’s number of at-risk homes jump from 64,000 to a million. In 2100, the report said, about one in 10 homes in Florida will face flooding every other week,” the paper continues. “That puts the Sunshine State at the top of the list nationwide for homes at risk.”

The findings offer a stark reminder that without prompt, serious action to transition our global economy away from the fossil fuels driving the climate crisis toward clean, renewable energy like wind, solar, and geothermal, hundreds of thousands of people in Florida (and millions more around the world) may find their homes swamped by mid-century.

But coastal real estate isn’t the only thing in Florida threatened by water creeping up the coast. Anticipated sea-level rise in the state will also impact the state’s tourism and fresh water supplies. Florida's massive tourism industry could lose $178 billion annually by 2100.

With sunny-day flooding already increasingly common, particularly in southern Florida, there’s no time to waste in the fight to save the state’s trillion-dollars’ worth of at-risk real estate and status as a go-to vacation destination. 

Extreme Heat

Since 1970, temperatures in the US Southeast have risen by an average of 2 degrees Fahrenheit, with even higher average temperatures striking in the summer months. If current trends continue, temperatures in Florida are “expected to exceed historical records by about 9°F by the end of the century.”

Basically, an already very hot Florida is getting even hotter – with the number of days of truly extreme heat set to increase exponentially.

“Seventy years from now, temperatures in most of the state are likely to rise above 95°F between 45 and 90 days per year, compared with less than 15 days per year today,” according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “Higher humidity will further increase the heat index and associated impacts on health.”

The health consequences of high, long-lasting heat are especially dire. While hurricanes and dramatic flooding often seize the headlines, heat waves are actually the deadliest type of extreme weather.

“Hot days can be unhealthy – even dangerous. Certain people are especially vulnerable, including children, the elderly, the sick, and the poor. High air temperatures can cause heat stroke and dehydration and affect people’s cardiovascular and nervous systems,” EPA continues. “Warmer air can also increase the formation of ground-level ozone, a key component of smog. Ozone has a variety of health effects, aggravates lung diseases such as asthma, and increases the risk of premature death from heart or lung disease.”

Take Action Now

So, that’s what Florida stands to lose.

But there is a solution – and for Florida, in particular, a whole lot to gain.

The renewable revolution is underway all across the country (and around the world). Solutions to the climate crisis are available today, abundant, and increasingly affordable. And solar energy is key to that clean energy future.

It’s clear: The best way to create new jobs and grow the economy, fight climate change, and support a sustainable future for the planet is to invest in renewable energies like solar. It’s that simple.

And it’s not exactly a leap of faith to say the Sunshine State might do pretty well for itself in a, well, sunshine-powered tomorrow.

Ready to learn more about the technologies that will power the future? Download our latest free e-book, How Renewables Work: A Practical Guide to Solar, Wind, and Geothermal.

In it, we offer up the facts – and just the facts. No muss, no fuss.

NOTE: This article was updated on October 15, 2018, to reflect recent impacts and the most current science on the climate crisis' threat to the State of Florida.

climate changeclimate crisisclimate realityfloridaimpactshurricanesSea Level RisesoutheastaffectThe Climate Reality ProjectWait, Why Is Climate Change a Bad Thing?How Does Climate Change Affect Georgia?Climate Change and Health: HurricanesLead: The scar carved across the state’s panhandle recently by powerful, climate change-fueled Hurricane Michael threw into sharp relief exactly what’s at stake in the Sunshine State. facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/how-climate-change-affecting-florida?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=CRinFloridaEmail Subject: Climate Change and Florida: What You Need to KnowTwitter URL: http://bit.ly/1Utyzdi
ipacha

Facing Reality: Firefighters on the Climate Frontlines

1 month ago

Growing up, a lot of kids want to become firefighters. Days spent dressing up in plastic red helmets and yellow jackets and putting out imaginary blazes with the garden hose. Why wouldn’t we? Unlike Superman or Wonder Woman, firefighters are real, in-the-flesh heroes.

At our Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Los Angeles, we were honored to be joined by some of these real-life heroes for a panel, including:

  • Ken Pimlott, Director of California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
  • Martha Karstens, Chief of Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade
  • Ken Thompson, Former Deputy Fire Chief of New South Wales

During the panel, these first responders spoke with former Vice President Al Gore about their experiences on the frontlines – and the connection between climate change and the global rise in deadly, destructive wildfires from California to Australia.

 

Facing Reality: Firefighters on the Climate Frontlines

Climate change is already increasing the risk of wildfires and creating conditions in many parts of the world that make fires more likely and more severe. This live presentation of first responders will explore the connection between climate change and the global rise in deadly, destructive wildfires from California to Australia.

Posted by Climate Reality on Wednesday, August 29, 2018


The panelists covered a lot of ground during their time on stage. Here are three takeaways about climate change straight from firefighters themselves: 

1. Climate Change Is Real

“You can’t help but look at the fires now that are burning and see [climate change] is why.” – Chief Karstens

Every first responder on stage could agree: over the course of their long careers, they’ve seen the nature of fires change in both California and Australia. Above all, firefighters are experiencing the same things scientists are observing: first, that fires are bigger than they used to be and second, that fire seasons are longer than ever.

Climate change literally adds fuel to the fire. Simply, warm weather is coming sooner and lasting longer. Precipitation patterns are changing and drought is coming more often.

Together, these factors mean conditions are consistently dry – creating what Chief Pimlott calls a tinderbox. As he said, “I’ve been doing this for 30 years. The vegetation in this state, in the western United States, is changing. It is so receptive. We call it 100 percent probability of ignition. Which means on any afternoon around the West, any spark that lands has a 100 percent chance of starting a fire. And you put a little bit of wind on that and the fire quickly races away from firefighters.”

And for Chief Karstens, this fact hits especially close to home. After being paged to a fire down the ridge from where she lived, she discovered her own home was surrounded by fire: “When I walked out my front door, it was there… It was devastating to watch your own home burn down.”

And worst of all? This wasn’t happening in the peak of fire season – it was 10 days before Christmas. As she said, “This should not be happening in December… It’s a year-long fire season now in California.”

Chief Ken Pimlott underscored it well: “If you don’t think the climate is changing, you haven’t been on the frontlines.”

2. It’s Bad

“We are facing greater risk… [wildfires] are placing firefighters in jeopardy more and more every day.” – Chief Pimlott

When we fail to act on climate change, we’re putting firefighters at risk. In Australia, Chief Thompson reports that fire season now runs for nine months out of the year. “The climate is changing and we’re seeing the effects of that on the frontline by more and more fires, more frequently, and more severe,” he said.

The bigger a fire is, the greater the risk it poses to the people who fight it. And according to Chief Pimlott, “Fires are spreading at rates unlike they’ve ever spread… It would usually be the exception to the rule to have a fire that was more than a hundred thousand acres now that's common. We've had several already this year.”

In California, six firefighters have already died in 2018. While firefighters understand the risk they take when they take the position, the risks are high enough without climate change making them worse.

3. And We Can Solve It 

“I know that one person can have an impact.” – Chief Thompson

During the panel, Former Vice President Gore asked the panelists, “What can we do to help you?”

The answers touched on both practical and policy matters. First, there were the simple steps that every homeowner can take to, as Chief Pimlott said, “give firefighters a fighting chance.” These include:

  • Removing vegetation and creating a defensible space around your home;
  • Not mowing your lawn or weeds at the hottest point in the day; and
  • Knowing how to use anything with a heat source properly while outdoors.

But we can all do our part to protect firefighters by taking climate action and demanding our leaders do the same. As Chief Thompson said, “The thing I’d encourage people to do, most or first and foremost, is to talk to their politicians and get them to realize that climate change is a real issue and that policies and resources need to be allocated.”

In addition to being a former deputy fire chief, Chief Thompson is a trained Climate Reality Leader. He’s been giving presentations on the reality of the climate crisis for over 10 years and has seen minds and hearts transformed by the time his talks end. “I get so many people that come up to me after those presentations and say to me, ‘Now I get it, now I understand. It didn’t make sense before.’… The vast majority of people, once it’s been explained to them… they act on the message.”

When Firefighters Speak Out on Climate Change, It’s Our Responsibility to Speak Up

If you’re feeling inspired after hearing Chiefs Karstens, Pimlott, and Thompson speak, there are plenty ways you can turn that inspiration into action. Here are three ways you can help solve climate change:

Firefightersclimate changeclimate actionglobal warmingwildfirefirefires California fire seasonAustraliacaliforniaThe Climate Reality ProjectClimate Change and Health: WildfiresWhat People Are Saying about Our Climate Reality Leadership Corps TrainingsHow Climate Change Is Impacting Different Places Around the USLead: “The climate is changing and we’re seeing the effects of that on the frontline by more and more fires, more frequently, and more severe.”facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/facing-reality-firefighters-climate-frontlines?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=CRLCEmail Subject: Facing Reality: Firefighters on the Climate FrontlinesTwitter URL: https://bit.ly/2CKf8gO
ipacha

‘Why I’m Here’: Chapters Are Standing Up for What’s Right

1 month ago

In Chicago, Illinois on October 1, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a public hearing to allow comment on its proposed replacement for America’s Clean Power Plan, called the Affordable Clean Energy Rule (ACE).

At Climate Reality, we refer to ACE by a more-apt moniker: the Dirty Power Scam.

Here’s the reality: Backed by powerful fossil fuel companies, acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler (a former coal lobbyist) has proposed replacing America’s Clean Power Plan with this much, much weaker rule. This new rule would allow Big Polluters to keep poisoning our air and destroying our climate – regardless of what it means for everyday citizens or the future of our planet. 

>> Fight Back Against the Dirty Power Scam <<

Members of our Chicago chapter were on hand at the hearing to speak out against ACE and to testify about the vital importance of strong, good-faith climate action. These friends, neighbors, and colleagues are fighting tooth-and-nail for practical climate solutions in communities from sea to shining sea. They’re on the front lines, making a real difference for our climate when it matters.

Read on to see selected parts of their testimony from the EPA hearing – and to discover what drives everyday people to step up and speak out at this critical moment for our movement!

Rachel Rosner

“I’m here as a parent, a teacher and a citizen. I’m here for my still theoretical grandchildren, for the hundreds of children I’ve been privileged to teach. And for my own kids. … I’m here because, when [my children] Eli and Bella talk about the future, about having kids of their own, I get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. What will their world be like? And as much as I hate to think about what it will be like for my kids and potential grandkids, it will be far worse for many of my students and their families – people in more vulnerable situations who might not have air conditioning, or health insurance or other resources they need to endure what’s coming.”

(Climate activists gather for a rally before the EPA public hearing.)

Jennifer Linton

“I’m here today to look you in the eye as I state that I find the Affordable Clean Energy proposal to be completely unacceptable. This plan asks us to ignore the compounding negative effects of a dirty industry on our health and environment. It represents the status quo at a time when we desperately need change and action. … As a mother, I want to know that we are moving as rapidly as possible to a clean, renewable energy future for our children and future generations — because we must and we can. As a business professional, I know it’s time to cut our losses and pave the prudent path forward to the inevitable future, a ​sustainable​ one that will yet be profitable. As a concerned citizen, I want to be able to trust my government to be protecting our health, safety, and security again.”
 



(Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan speaks at the pre-hearing rally.)

 

Mary Griswold

“Climate disruption is the moral issue of our time. It affects every living thing on Earth. Air respects no borders drawn by humans. It belongs to no one country or state, but to all life on Earth. It can’t be bought or sold, but it can be degraded and polluted – what we humans have been doing by burning fossil fuels. The problem is urgent. A generation has already passed since we’ve known about this. It will only get more costly the longer we delay the decarbonization of our energy economy. An ounce of prevention is surely worth a pound of cure.”

(Mary Griswold testifies at EPA ACE rule public meeting.)

William Reilly

“I am here because climate change is the number one risk we face globally today. …  I believe that this risk, however, presents an exciting opportunity. Clean technology and renewable energy are economic engines for the country. … I am very grateful for the work the EPA has done over my adult life. It was not that long ago that we had to worry about the damage of acid rain on our cars and homes. I used to not want to eat fish out of the Great Lakes – let alone swim in them. It is easy to take for granted the improvements in air and water quality and the reduction of many types of pollution, but I know, it has been the result of laws and regulations brought forth by the EPA to protect human and environmental health. Now is not the time to go backwards. Unfortunately, the Affordable Clean Energy proposal does take us backwards.”

(Members of our Chicago chapter ready to speak out against the #DirtyPowerScam.)

Cynthia Linton

“Three years ago, I traveled all the way to Denver to testify in favor of the Clean Power Plan, because there was no hearing here. That’s how much I care about cutting pollution and greenhouse gases, so my six grandchildren – Bryan, Evan, Sabrina, Abby, Emma, and Julie – and others of their generation could have a chance at a bright future.  I find that’s what motivates many grandparents to care about climate change. We won’t be here for the worst of it, but the kids will, so this is for them. … The Clean Power Plan takes an important step toward cutting the gases that cause climate change. The Affordable Clean Energy proposal is affordable to no one but the companies that are fighting reality and a livable world for everyone, in order to eke out more profits. They are only delaying the inevitable. The world will move to clean energy. It makes economic sense, health sense, and quality-of-life sense.”

(Cynthia Linton testifies at EPA ACE rule public meeting.)

What You Can Do

Climate Reality has chapters across the United States that are fighting for clean energy and practical solutions to the climate crisis. These are parents, teachers, rabbis and pastors, doctors, and more – people just like you who want to make a difference for the future of our planet.

As one of our chapter chairs has said, “I’m excited to be working on climate in my own community. The movement may be worldwide, but real change is happening in our cities and our states, and it’s great to be a part of that.”

Learn more about Climate Reality chapters today (or find one near you!) and be part of something big in your own backyard.

climate changelocalEPAchaptersClimate Reality Leadership CorpschicagoThe Climate Reality ProjectClimate Reality Chapters Are Driving ChangeThis is How Local Climate Action Gets StartedFight Back Against the Dirty Power ScamLead: Members of our Chicago chapter were on hand at a recent EPA hearing in Chicago to speak out against the #DirtyPowerScam and to testify about the vital importance of strong, good-faith climate action. facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/why-im-here-chapters-are-standing-what-right?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=generalEmail Subject: ‘Why I’m Here’: Chapters Are Standing Up for What’s RightTwitter URL: https://bit.ly/2OfUP0L
ipacha

Climate Change and Health: Children

1 month ago

When the world gets warmer, the results impact real people’s lives. It’s a truth that too often gets lost amid data points and science jargon, late-breaking news, and heated political handwringing. But we must not let it.

Real people just like you (and us!) are suffering right now because of our changing climate. And some of us are unfairly impacted more than others.

Those with modest incomes. The elderly. And worst of all, children.

Kids face unique health burdens because of climate change, according to the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP), including “the broad effects of weather disasters, exacerbated allergic and asthmatic diseases, food and water insecurity, and heat-related deaths.”

“As climate change accelerates,” the 67​,000 pediatrician-strong organization writes, “children will continue to suffer disproportionately.”

Children are in the crosshairs for a few reasons. Their immune systems are still developing, leaving their rapidly growing bodies more sensitive to disease and environmental pollutants. They breathe, eat, and drink more for their size than adults, spend more time outdoors, and may not be emotionally mature enough to understand the things happening around them.

You might say it’s a perfect storm.

Allergies and Asthma

“Pediatricians are already seeing the effects of climate change in their patients. Because of climate change, winters are shorter, making outdoor allergy seasons longer and warmer,” AAP writes. “This worsens allergies and increases the chances of asthma symptoms. Ozone Action Days [i.e. municipally declared days when heat, humidity, and/or air stagnation could cause health problems] are becoming more frequent as emergency departments receive more asthma-related admissions each year.”

Rising global temperatures decrease air quality, in part, by increasing the formation of ground-level ozone, the main ingredient in city smog. Exposure to high levels of ozone can lead to shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing, chest pain, temporary decreases in lung function, and lower respiratory tract infections in children.

And that’s before you consider other air quality concerns from this crisis, from the more-than-a-billion cars on the road around the world, most burning gasoline, to powerful wildfires, like those that devastated parts of the American West in 2018.

>> Learn more: Climate Change and Health: Wildfires <<

“Forest fires emit fine particulate matter, which can contribute to respiratory illness, particularly in children,” the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) writes. “Childhood exposure to particulate matter has been associated with respiratory symptoms, decreased lung function, worsening of asthma, and development of chronic bronchitis.”

Psychological Stress

Children are especially vulnerable to both the immediate and long-term impacts of climate-fueled natural disasters.

The imminent threat to children from extreme weather is clear: They’re smaller and less physically capable than adults. They spend more time outside, increasing their exposure to dangerously high heat and more. They often rely on others for decision-making and care, leaving them especially vulnerable during and immediately after emergencies like flash flooding. 

But they also can experience unique mental health concerns.

Surviving a dangerous major hurricane or other extreme weather event and living with the damage it leaves behind can take a very real toll on anyone’s well-being – especially a child’s.

“People coping with severe weather conditions can experience serious mental health symptoms, including posttraumatic stress, depression, and anxiety,” the Union of Concerned Scientists explains.

And depending on their age and development, children may not have the emotional or cognitive tools to understand less tangible climate concerns, leading to extreme distress and other psychological effects.

“The social foundations of children's mental and physical health are threatened by the specter of far-reaching effects of unchecked climate change, including community and global instability, mass migrations, and increased conflict,” AAP notes.

Malnutrition

At the same time, the very carbon pollution that is driving the climate crisis may itself also be making our food less nutritious, jeopardizing the overall health of children all over the world.

When grown under the CO2 levels expected by 2050, many common crops see reductions of protein and key nutrients like iron and zinc anywhere from 3-17 percent, according to recent research featured in the journal Nature. And if emissions continue at the current rate, in many countries, the consequences of these nutrient declines could be dire.

Zinc deficiencies can dramatically impair immune system function, and cause diarrhea, delayed sexual maturation, and eye and skin lesions. Meanwhile, an iron deficiency can lead to muscle weakness, immune system and cognitive problems, and headaches and dizziness. It can also result in anemia.

Pregnant women are especially vulnerable to complications related to iron deficiency.

As for protein: “Few nutrients are as important as protein,” Healthline explains. “Protein is the building block of your muscles, skin, enzymes, and hormones, and it plays an essential role in all body tissues. … Protein deficiency can affect almost all aspects of body function.”

The importance of a diverse, nutrient-rich diet to the healthy development of children cannot be overstated. 

Infectious Disease

As mentioned, children’s still-developing immune systems leave them susceptible to many types of sickness and infection. They simply aren’t always able to fend off illnesses that might give a healthy adult far less trouble. And the climate crisis is exacerbating many of these diseases, bringing them to regions they’ve never previously been or setting up the conditions for them to thrive.  

There are two major categories of climate-related disease: water-borne and vector-borne.

Water-borne diseases spread through bacteria and other pathogens in the water we drink or bathe or even play in. They include some of the most widespread and terrible illnesses that people endure, including cholera, typhoid, and dysentery, which infect millions and cause hundreds of thousands of deaths each year.

The EPA reports that the incidence of water-borne illnesses, like gastroenteritis and infectious diarrhea, increases when outdoor temperature rise or immediately following severe storms or floods. That makes a lot of sense when you consider that extreme weather can inundate and lead to a breakdown of sanitation and sewer systems – and that many bacteria flourish in warmer conditions.

Children are especially susceptible to these types of illness. Approximately 1.5 million child deaths per year globally are attributed to infectious diarrhea, with children in developing nations disproportionately affected.

And the same conditions that allow these bacteria to prosper help to foment the other type of climate-related disease.

Warm standing water left behind by excessive rainfall or storm surge flooding creates more and more habitats that are friendly to “vectors,” typically a biting insect like a mosquito or flea, or a parasitic arachnid like a tick. Vectors carry infective pathogens like viruses and bacteria, and transmit diseases or parasites from one animal to another.

And with average temperatures climbing and winters becoming more mild and lengthening in many places, the ranges for these vectors are also growing.

That’s why diseases like malaria and cholera that were once on the way out could now make a comeback. It’s why the Zika virus that threatens babies’ brains is reaching more parts of the world.

Other vector-borne diseases include Lyme disease, West Nile virus, dengue fever, plague, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and more.

These diseases are becoming more common in the developed world, but they’re hitting developing nations hardest. Modest-income communities, however, often lack the resources to effectively prevent and treat them. Which means that millions already struggling just to get by are now increasingly struggling to stay healthy.

Neurological Concerns

And at the same time, the very fossil fuels driving the climate crisis also present direct dangers to health.

Most people have heard about “fracking” – the process of hydraulic fracturing used to extract natural gas. But most people haven’t heard about the dangerous chemicals like benzene that fracking companies pump right into the earth to get the gas.

>> Learn more: 3 Big Myths About Natural Gas and Our Climate <<

“Given the profound sensitivity of the developing brain and the central nervous system, it is very reasonable to conclude that young children who experience frequent exposure to these pollutants are at particularly high risk for chronic neurological problems and disease,” the Center for Environmental Health’s Ellen Webb, a researcher on the neurological and neurodevelopmental effects of chemicals linked to unconventional oil and gas operations, told the Guardian last year.

And that’s just the start. The carbon dioxide driving climate change isn’t the only pollutant billowing from power plant smokestacks around the world.

Lead. Sulfur dioxide. Ozone. You name it. Exposure to these pollutants can be particularly damaging to both pregnant women and very young children.

When pregnant moms breathe in or drink down these often-invisible chemicals, it goes right to their babies – right when they’re at their most vulnerable. And the danger doesn’t end once they’re out of the womb. The most critical time for brain development for children happens through the first six years of their lives.

Studies show links between fossil fuel pollution and neurological impacts no parent wants for their child. If you don’t want to take our word for it, take the National Institutes of Health’s:

“By impairing children’s health, ability to learn, and potential to contribute to society, pollution and climate change cause children to become less resilient and the communities they live in to become less equitable. … Global pediatric health is at a tipping point, with catastrophic consequences in the absence of bold action.”

What You Can Do

It’s clear that the impacts of the climate crisis could have unique, serious, and potentially alarming repercussions for the health of children all over the world – and in turn, the very future of our planet.

“Given this knowledge, failure to take prompt, substantive action would be an act of injustice to all children,” AAP concludes. “A paradigm shift in production and consumption of energy is both a necessity and an opportunity for major innovation, job creation, and significant, immediate associated health benefits.”

We couldn’t agree more.

The good news is that there’s plenty we can do to both reduce our contribution to future climate change and protect children’s health and well-being.

Get started by joining over 1 million digital activists around the world in working for a clean energy future. Sign up to receive emails from Climate Reality™ now and we’ll keep you posted on the latest developments in climate policy and how you can help solve the climate crisis.

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ipacha

How Land Under Solar Panels Can Contribute to Food Security

1 month 1 week ago

By Frank Jossi. Republished from Ensia with permission.

At a recent solar energy conference in Minneapolis, attendees unwound at happy hour tasting free pints of a local honey-based India Pale Ale called “Solarama Crush.” Minnesota-based 56 Brewing makes the smooth IPA using honey from hives located on solar farms outside the Twin Cities

Honey producers Travis and Chiara Bolton keep bees at three solar farms where developers seeded native plants underneath and around panels. “The advantage to these sites is that they are intentionally planted for pollinators,” says Travis Bolton. “At these sites they’re really trying to get them back to a native prairie, and that’s a benefit to us.”

Native plants have replaced turfgrass and gravel as the go-to bedding for solar gardens in Minnesota, a result of a 2016 state standard that outlines how developers can create pollinator-friendly environments. More than half of the 4,000 acres (1,600 hectares) of solar farms built in 2016 and 2017 feature native plants that not only benefit pollinators but also beautify the site.

 

       
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Although Minnesota may be in the vanguard of encouraging solar farm developers to grow native plants, it is far from the only place studying how solar farms can harvest more than just energy. Universities in the United States, Germany and elsewhere are testing the concept of “dual use farming,” as some advocates call it, where crops grow below canopies of solar panels. They are finding they grow just fine — and, in some cases, better than crops in full sun.

All Kinds of Benefits 

Adding plants to solar farms offers all kinds of benefits to the facilities’ primary aim of reducing carbon emissions and expanding renewable energy. “Solar development is happening on a massive scale as lands are being converted from agricultural land or unused land into solar projects,” says Jordan Macknick, energy-water-land lead analyst with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which funds research on the impact of native and crop plants grown in solar farms. “That represents an amazing opportunity to improve our agriculture and improve our food security while developing energy at the same time.”

Adding plants to solar farms offers all kinds of benefits to the facilities’ primary aim of reducing carbon emissions and expanding renewable energy. And native and crop vegetation can help improve the health of pollinators, which are threatened by habitat loss, pesticide poisoning, poor nutrition, disease, decreased genetic diversity and a host of other factors. As a result, managed honeybee colonies used for honey production declined from 5.7 million in the 1940s to around 2.7 million today. Pollinators have an enormous impact on the economy, too, by annually contributing US$24 billion to the nation’s economy.

With more land being devoted to solar energy production, the idea of making those acres pollinator friendly seems to make ecological and economic sense. “Incorporating habitat into these solar farms across the nation is a good way to promote and protect pollinator health,” says Val Dolcini, president and CEO of the San Francisco­–based Pollinator Partnership, a non-profit organization promoting pollinator environments.

 

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Under-panel native plants benefit not just their immediate solar farm surroundings but nearby cropland. Lee Walston, an ecologist at Argonne National Laboratory, says pollinating insects roam beyond solar installations to other agricultural fields, where they help increase production. Native plantings offer refuge for declining species such as monarch butterflies and rusty patched bumblebees while serving the additional purpose of controlling stormwater and erosion, he adds.

Native gardens and vegetables also offer an aesthetic benefit having nothing to do with panels or agricultural production, advocates say. They offer a more colorful and pleasing visual tapestry rather than the monolithic green of turf grass or the gray of gravel, a feature not to be underestimated at a time when some communities seek to stop solar garden expansion due in part to the uniform monotony of endless rows of panels.

NREL-funded research found growing native plants could reduce land acquisition costs, reduce weed control costs, slow panel degradation and slice permitting charges.

Pilot Projects

Pilot projects in Massachusetts, Arizona, Germany, China, Croatia, Italy, Japan and France look encouraging for mixing crops with solar panels, referred to as “dual use” farms because they offer both agricultural and electrical production. “So far, the pilots have been extremely successful in showing that you can grow crops and make electricity at the same time,” Macknick says.

A dual-use farm operated by the University of Massachusetts­–Amherst grows a variety of plants — peppers, beans, cilantro, tomatoes, swiss chard, kale — below solar panels elevated roughly 7.5 to 9 feet (3 meters) or more above ground to allow for easier harvesting mainly by hand. Project researchers have found that 1- to 1.2-meter (3- to 4-foot) gaps between panel clusters led to crop yields almost the same as what they would have been in full sun sites.

One of the first concepts for mixing solar and agriculture, dubbed “agrophotovoltaics” (APV), was developed more than three decades ago by physicist Adolf Goetzberger. The research institute Goetzberger created — the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems — finally got around to building its own dual-use farm on one-third of a hectare (just over three-quarters of an acre) at an existing farm cooperative a few years ago. The institute elevated 720 solar panels high enough for farm machinery to harvest plants underneath and nearby, according to a 2017 press release.

The researchers planted wheat, potatoes, celeriac and clover grass in the open and under the panels and compared the yields. Solar shading decreased production 5.3 percent to 19 percent. Yet electricity from the panels, which capture both indirect and direct light, was used to power a crop processing plant and electric farm machinery, offsetting those costs and increasing land use efficiency by 60 percent.


Researchers survey the test plot at the UMass Crop Animal Research and Education Center in South Deerfield, MA.
(Image: © 2018 National Renewable Energy Lab/Flickr cc BY-NC-ND 2.0)

While the farm made a profit, the research team seemed a bit wary of claiming the approach could work everywhere at any scale. Project manager Stephan Schindele said in the press release that “in order to provide the necessary proof-of-concept before market entry, we need to compare further techno-economical applications of APV, demonstrate the transferability to other regional areas and also realize larger systems.”

Similarly, agriculture faculty members at the Josip Juraj Strossmayer University of Osijek in Croatia grow shade-happy organic vegetables beneath solar canopies on a local farm operated partly by faculty members. The energy generated goes to power the farm’s irrigation system and farm machinery. In Austria, an entrepreneur created a system similar to APV but using fewer stationary poles by placing panels on a cable infrastructure in an effort to reduce costs and potential accidents involving farm machinery. APV systems are being tested in another part of Germany and in several other countries.

Greg Barron-Gafford, associate professor in the School of Geography and Development at the University of Arizona, has worked on a solar “agrivoltaic” pilot project — basically, the American version of APV — for two years. Tucson public schools with existing solar canopies are being used, as well as the university’s Biosphere 2 research and public education center. Focused initially on reducing the heat island effect of solar panels, the project morphed into one testing crop yields under panels.

 

Plant the seed of knowledge by downloading our free e-book on soil health.

Posted by Climate Reality on Monday, July 23, 2018

 

A first run at a salsa garden of cilantro, pepper and tomato “was awesome,” Barron-Gafford says. Crops grown underneath the panels required only half the water of those growing out in the open and grew well in the microclimate beneath the panels. “The plants seem to love the modulated temperatures,” he says.

Panels protect the plants from frost, allowing a longer season for avocados, cilantro, peppers, tomatoes and mangos. In late spring researchers began harvesting a winter crop of carrots, kale, chard and lemongrass. “It’s really been something to watch,” he says.

The experiment found other advantages to the panels as well. The skin temperature of people harvesting crops underneath the panels was 25 degrees cooler than those working out in in the sun, no small matter in a state with scorching summers. And some claim the shade-grown produce tastes better than conventionally grown crops.

Barron-Gafford would like to try the dual-use concept out in collaboration with a community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm that would involve at least 10 acres of cropland under solar panels, he says. The extra cost of adding a solar canopy over crops could be paid for by the 5 percent gain in power production seen in panels in Arizona, reduced maintenance and premium pricing for solar-grown produce.

Despite the promising results of pilot dual-farm projects the idea of a future where American farms will be covered by solar canopies is not likely anytime soon. Rob Davis is director for the Center for Pollinators in Energy at the nonprofit Fresh Energy in St. Paul. The huge scaffolds holding solar panels cost a great deal of money, he says, and one bad turn by a farm tractor driver hitting a post could bring down hundreds of thousands of dollars of solar panels.

“There are a lot of different ways to design solar arrays that provide significant benefits to agriculture.”
– Rob Davis

In places where agricultural land is tight and electricity prices high, such as Europe, the economics might play out in favor of dual-use farms. In the United States, however, farmland remains relatively plentiful and acres of canopies are unlikely to be feasible unless energy and agricultural markets change, he says.

“There are a lot of different ways to design solar arrays that provide significant benefits to agriculture,” Davis says. “One of those ways that is certainly the most cost effective — and continues the accelerated rate of large scale solar needed to address climate change — is creating pollinator habitat in and around solar projects.”

Native plants have their own challenges, such as the perception of higher up-front planting costs partly mitigated by less required maintenance. Not all a solar farms’ neighbors are in love with natives, either, due to their sometimes less-than-tidy appearance. Yet Davis argues American farmers are on board with more native habitats because without pollinators their livelihoods could be at risk.

“They understand the need to keep pollinators alive and in abundance” to seed the fruits and vegetables they grow, to maximize yields and to avoid more regulation, he adds. “This opportunity unlocks private sector dollars and deploys solar energy capital in investing in high quality pollinator habitat that is urgently needed in agriculture.” 

Editor’s note: Frank Jossi is Minnesota correspondent for Midwest Energy News, an editorially independent publication of Fresh Energy. Rob Davis, who is quoted in the article, is the director of Fresh Energy’s Center for Pollinators in Energy.

Header Image: © 2018 National Renewable Energy Lab/Flickr cc BY-NC-ND 2.0

Solar farmagriculturesolarsolar panelagrophotovoltaicsclimate changeglobal warmingClean Energyrenewablesclimaterenewable energyEnsiaClimate Change and Health: Food SecurityWhat Is the International Solar Alliance? Here’s How It Could Transform Our World What Is the Greenhouse Effect?Lead: Beneath some solar arrays, pollinator-friendly plants, fruits, vegetables and forage are cropping up in place of turfgrass or gravel. facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/how-land-under-solar-panels-can-contribute-food-security?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=generalEmail Subject: How Land Under Solar Panels Can Be Used to Grow FoodTwitter URL: https://bit.ly/2BWEXJk
rtaylor

What You Need to Know about Carbon Pricing

1 month 1 week ago

For years, fossil fuel companies and utilities have been dumping carbon pollution into our atmosphere – all while we pay the cost. Their carbon pollution is warming our planet and making so much extreme weather even worse. Hurricanes hit harder. Droughts last longer. Meanwhile, these polluters make billions.

It’s time to make energy fair for everyone. It’s time to fight climate change and make Big Polluters pay for the damage they do. It’s time for Pricing Pollution.

Climate Reality’s Pricing Pollution campaign advocates for a price on carbon in states across the US. While we don’t expect to see much in the way of federal climate solutions in the near future, states have a unique and critical opportunity to use carbon pricing to slash dangerous greenhouse gas emissions. Remember the old line, “Think Global. Act Local.”? Exactly.

Here’s what you need to know.

What Exactly Is Carbon Pricing?

Burning fossil fuels drives climate change. And climate change carries tremendous costs for all of us, from our tax dollars that go to rebuild communities to the human costs of hurricanes, droughts, and floods made worse by the climate crisis.

All that to say – fossil fuels bring huge profits for oil, coal, and gas companies. But they also bring huge costs to the rest of us – costs these Big Polluters don’t pay. That’s where carbon pricing comes in.

 

 

Carbon pricing is a way of harnessing the power of market forces to tackle the danger of climate change head-on. It uses market mechanisms to put a price on greenhouse gas emissions, and make Big Polluters pay for the dangerous emissions they create.

The principle is pretty simple: The more you pollute, the more you pay. On the flip side, carbon pricing also means that when polluters emit less, they pay less, creating a real financial incentive to clean up their act. Which makes using renewables – which don’t have an extra cost – all the more attractive, helping accelerate the shift to a clean energy economy.

Let’s take a step back, though. There are several ways to put a price on carbon. Here are a few of them:

  • Emissions Taxes are taxes put on emissions, typically carbon, that are paid by either the producers or consumers of the energy source releasing emissions.
  • Emissions Trading Systems, also known as “cap and trade,” set up a market for tradable emissions allowances and then cap the amount of emissions allowed in the system.

    In general, it works like this. The regulator managing the system determines what total volume of emissions all the actors in the market (think companies and utilities, for the most part) can produce together in a given year. This is the “cap” part. The regulator then awards each actor a certain amount of allowances for the amount they can emit on their own. The amount allocated to each company is typically based on factors like the amount of emissions they have emitted in the past (which is often referred to as “grandfathering”).

    When actors reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, but hold allowances that would allow them to emit more, they can sell their extra allowances to any other actor that is looking to emit more (the “trade” part). And for those who do go over without buying extra allowances, there’s typically a financial penalty.

  • Fuel Taxes are direct taxes on a fossil fuel that aim to discourage its purchase and eventual use. Fuel taxes differ from emissions taxes because they focus on the fuel input rather than the emissions output.
  • Hybrid Instruments are plans that combine elements of multiple carbon pricing policies (for example, a country could have both an emissions tax as well as an emissions trading system). The range of hybrid designs is unlimited, and many carbon pricing instruments are actually hybrids. The hybrid system can often have efficiency advantages when it combines features of price setting (tax) and quantity-based (trading system) instruments.
How Will Carbon Pricing Affect Me?

Today, no matter where we are or whether we know it, the climate crisis is part of our lives. So it stands to reason that solutions like carbon pricing should be too.

Done right, the benefits of carbon pricing also go beyond just reducing emissions.

There’s the revenue that carbon pricing can generate, for one. Many carbon pricing laws direct this revenue to local governments, which can use it to build clean energy infrastructure and invest in other climate solutions.

Many carbon pricing plans also allocate some revenue to help modest-income communities with their energy needs. Which – given that the impacts of climate change and fossil fuel pollution often hit these communities the hardest – seems only fair.

Bottom line? By reducing greenhouse gas emissions through carbon pricing, we can help solve climate change, make the energy system fairer, and build a better world for all of us.

>> Related: Why Is Climate Change Bad? <<

Building a Powerful Movement

Even as the US federal government steps down from climate leadership, states are stepping up. More and more are taking common-sense steps to build a fair energy future through climate solutions like carbon pricing. Here’s the best part: Your state can be the next. And you can help make it happen.

Ready to fight for climate solutions in your community? Join a Climate Reality chapter today

Climate Reality created the Pricing Pollution™ campaign to empower regular Americans to push for clean air, healthy communities, and a future free of fossil fuel pollution. The campaign has several core components:

1. Equity. Pricing Pollution™ works with community partners to ensure that carbon pricing policies are designed to bolster economic stability and equity in the transition to clean energy.

Our goal is to ensure these policies prioritize the communities hardest hit by pollution and climate change so that, if a carbon pricing policy generates revenue, they receive a significant share of clean energy and infrastructure investments. This includes supporting workers in the transition to clean energy jobs. We also work to find policy solutions that emphasize financial assistance to modest-income families, making low-carbon energy options realistically available and accessible to all.

2. Flexibility. We know that every place is different, and the way one state or region puts a price on carbon may not work for another state or region. The Pricing Pollution™ campaign empowers local activists working through our chapters to work with in-state partners and legislators to determine what carbon pricing mechanism is right for their home state or region.

3. Partnership. Climate Reality chapters work in partnership with other groups in their own community. We believe that, with so many activists working toward climate solutions, cooperation is imperative. To put it simply, we can get much more done by listening to many voices and working together.

4. Solutions. Climate Reality advocates for climate solutions based on sound science. Our chapters’ Pricing Pollution™ campaigns work with legislators, scientists, and economists to ensure that the policies and regulations we’re working to implement will help significantly reduce carbon emissions.

 

WeCanSolveThis: How A Youth Movement on Climate Change Starts

Millennials are worried about the future of our planet – and they see carbon pricing as a way forward. (via Years of Living Dangerously)

Posted by Climate Reality on Friday, January 26, 2018

 

Where Is Carbon Pricing Already Happening?

Successful carbon pricing mechanisms are being implemented across the world as more and more people see how we can make energy fair for everyone. And despite what’s happening in the White House, this movement is growing in communities and states across the US.  Here’s how a few of our chapters are helping:

  • Washington: In Washington State, local chapters in Seattle, Bellingham, Tacoma, and Snohomish County have joined forces to get carbon pricing on the ballot this fall. In a huge victory, chapter members collected over 15,500 signatures to get I-1631 on the ballot this November.

    If it passes, the ballot initiative will put a fee on the Big Polluters in the state, holding them accountable for the emissions they produce. Revenue from the fee would invest in clean energy infrastructure, clean water and healthy forests, and local communities. Chapter members and people across the state are spreading the word on this historic ballot initiative by canvassing in their communities, giving presentations, and phone-banking to encouraging people to vote and pass I-1631.

    Washingtonians will have the opportunity to vote on I-1631 in the 2018 midterm elections.

  • Oregon: Climate Reality’s Portland, OR chapter has been a powerful force for carbon pricing at the state-level in Oregon. Since 2016, Oregon Climate Reality Leaders have been working to pass the Clean Energy Jobs bill with the Renew Oregon coalition.

    Despite organizing the largest climate lobby day in Oregon’s history for the Clean Energy Jobs bill, the bill did not pass in the 2018 legislative session. However, it became a top priority for legislators in the state. Following the end of the legislative session this year in March, Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney and Speaker of the House Tina Kotek, agreed to form an Joint Interim Committee on Carbon Reduction to support the passage of the bill in the future.

    Following a Joint Committee meeting, Portland chapter leadership member Jane Stockhouse said, "I really do feel confident that we can get some sort of cap and investment (cap and trade) from this session. I'm just hoping it's strong enough."

Here’s How You Can Take Action

*/ carbon pricingcarbon dioxideCO2carbon pollutiondirty energypricing pollutionpollutionpollutechapterspledgecarbon taxcap and tradeThe Climate Reality ProjectCarbon Pricing: Does It Work?Climate Reality Chapters: Taking Climate Action in Your CommunityPricing Pollution: How We’re Pushing for Fair Energy SolutionsLead: You may not hear about it a lot, but carbon pricing might actually be one of the best tools we have to fight climate change, make energy fair, and protect people from Big Polluters. Here are the facts. facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/what-you-need-know-about-carbon-pricing?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=pricingEmail Subject: What You Need to Know about Carbon Pricing Twitter URL: https://bit.ly/2xZliWj
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This is How Local Climate Action Gets Started

1 month 1 week ago
*/

It’s a question we hear all the time: “What can I do?”

That’s why, a little over a year ago, as it became clear that the Trump Administration was determined to undermine climate action at every turn, Climate Reality™ launched local chapters in communities from sea to shining sea to fight back.

These chapters unite friends, neighbors, and colleagues in working to bring clean energy to their towns and showing how we can end this crisis together.

In the heart of Texas oil country, one chapter in particular is set to launch a major campaign to let the sunshine in.

Our Dallas-Fort Worth chapter, chaired by Climate Reality Leader Roger Knudson, is in the early stages of planning a promising campaign that could help bring solar energy to public schools throughout the Dallas Independent School District. We recently talked with Roger about his chapter, why they’re focusing on solar on schools, and their plans going forward. Read on for more.

Getting Started

“We jumped right on the chapter idea a year ago, when Climate Reality finally proposed it,” Roger told Climate Reality™. “In our first chapter meeting, we talked about moving beyond individual presentations to some kind of campaign because it was clear that was what Climate Reality was aiming for with the chapters.”

Deciding exactly what type of work to undertake proved more challenging. Even as Texas continues to recover from climate change-exacerbated Hurricane Harvey, many Texans remain skeptical of climate action. It’s simply “not an easy sell” in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area, Roger says.

But things began to change late this summer, following our largest-ever Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Los Angeles. 

As the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter’s ranks swelled with new, motived members fresh from the training, Roger noticed a renewed enthusiasm for a solutions-centered campaign. Still, deciding exactly what action to undertake remained a challenge. 

“We had an online presentation by [Climate Reality President and CEO] Ken Berlin, some months ago at the beginning of this year, in which he said, very clearly, ‘This is a year in which activism is going to be crucial,” Roger recalled.

And as the chapter began to brainstorm ideas for ways to take action, one in particular came up again and again: “What about solar on schools?”

A Big Idea

Roger knew of only a tiny handful of schools – all very small, parochial, and/or located in wealthy suburbs – in the greater Dallas region that utilized solar and other climate-smart efficiency measures. He also knew that his state was “far behind states like California or Nevada in terms of solar on schools.”

Soon after, Roger was speaking with a local representative and was surprised to find enthusiasm for the idea. “He was all over it – very excited. He said, ‘I want to hear more about this. I want details.’”

So Roger returned to his chapter to get them.

“One of our members owns a solar energy company that develops plans for solar installations at medium-size businesses, as I understand it,” he said. “So he has great expertise in terms of the technology, the financing, the nuts and bolts of installation.

“He said, ‘We’re talking about a campaign. Why don’t we talk about a specific school in the Dallas public schools? Could we turn that into a campaign?’” Roger continued. “Then, I’m back in my chapter chair hat thinking, ‘We’ve got people coming back from LA. This seems, I don’t know if its plausible, but if we can get people on board let’s find out.’”

Together, Roger and his chapter did just that – and quickly found even more valuable allies within their ranks.

One Dallas-Fort Worth chapter member had worked in the city for Teach for America, and her experience in the school system provided unique and valuable insight into how the campaign would need to be run as well as the individuals they would need buy-in from for it to succeed. Yet another member is an attorney with a specialty in energy law who now works for a solar energy company. Roger hopes that together they will be able to help the chapter navigate the often-extensive red tape around dealing with public school systems.

But even with the incredible advantage offered by the expertise of his fellow chapter members, Roger is quick to note that the chapter anticipates an uphill battle… up a particularly steep hill at that.

“Saying that this is a good idea is very easy. We now have to face the reality that this is a very heavy lift,” he added. “Schools in Texas are in terrible financial shape, so external sources of funding will be crucial. These may exist and we plan to find out. But right now, no one knows for sure. And what sort of political pushback we might face from the fossil fuel giants is anyone's guess.”
 


Building a Strong Foundation

While researching how to get the campaign off the ground, Roger made two important discoveries.

First, he learned that while no action was ultimately ever taken, several other environmental groups had considered undertaking a similar solar campaign in Dallas, opening the door to possible future collaborative coalition work.

“This idea has been in the wind in Dallas for some time,” he learned. “As far as I know, no one has actually even tried to mount a campaign. At some point, I am sure we can find collaborators from those groups.”

He also discovered that a Climate Reality chapter in another state was hard at work on something similar, allowing him to easily connect, compare notes, and share contacts and resources with fellow activists working on this same issue.

“I spoke already with John Haycock, chair of the southern Virginia chapter, and he gave me a lot of good ideas based on the work they’ve done,” Roger said. “[He] put me in touch with Gen 180, an organization he called indispensable to his effort in Virginia.”

It’s very early days, for sure, but the chapter is ready to hit the ground running on its solar-on-schools campaign. Indeed, Roger hopes to have the campaign ready to go in time for the major Earth X Expo and Conference in Dallas early next spring.

“My sort of fantasy is that over the next three to four months, if we can make some concrete steps toward an actual proposal for solar on schools, we will introduce it to the broader community at that summit,” he said. “We need to get this thing off the ground. We need to get it out of the realm of just pie in the sky, oh wouldn’t it be nice, which is where I think the other groups seem to have left it. 

“It’s a heavy lift; it looks to me like a very tough thing to manage. But if we can get the plan far enough along, where we have something substantial, then we can go to the other groups and say, we need help in the following areas, if you have members with expertise or time, sign on here, and we’ll get you engaged.”

Your Chance to Take Action, Too

The Dallas-Fort Worth chapter is just one of 82 (and counting) working to bring climate solutions to communities just like yours.

Across the country, committed people like you are joining Climate Reality™ chapters to work together for practical climate solutions and make a real difference for our climate when it matters – and you can too.

Join a Climate Reality chapter today and get active in the fight for a sustainable tomorrow.

climate realityclimate changeclimate crisischaptersschoolssolarcampaignsinterviewThe Climate Reality ProjectQuiz: How Much Do You Know About Renewable Energy?Climate Change and Health: HurricanesFight Back Against the Dirty Power ScamLead: In the heart of Texas oil country, a Climate Reality chapter is about to launch a campaign to bring solar power to local public schools. facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/how-local-climate-action-gets-started?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=generalEmail Subject: This is How Local Climate Action Gets StartedTwitter URL: https://bit.ly/2R9UI4V
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How Does Climate Change Affect Georgia?

1 month 2 weeks ago

Manmade climate change may have the same main cause everywhere you go –burning of fossil fuels – but that doesn’t mean its impacts looks the same everywhere.

Here are five ways climate change is impacting the state of Georgia:

Heat and Health

Fact: “Georgia currently averages about 20 dangerous heat days a year. By 2050, it is projected to see more than 90 such days a year.” (States at Risk: Georgia)

(Image: Climate Central)

One of the most well-known impacts of climate change is rising temperatures. As humans burn more and more fossil fuels, carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gases) trap more and more heat in our atmosphere.

Between 1980 and 2015, the average temperature in Atlanta has risen nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.11 degrees Celsius). And while a few degrees might not seem like a big deal, it absolutely is. If you’re wondering why, consider this from the UK’s independent scientific body, the Royal Society: “Global average temperature during the last ice age was only about 7 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit (4 to 5 degrees Celsius) colder than now.”

The bottom line? Small temperature shifts can have profound changes.

Georgia is one of the slowest-warming states in the US, but that doesn’t mean its residents aren’t feeling the burn –“more than 310,000 people living in Georgia are especially vulnerable to extreme heat.”

There’s no two ways about it: Extreme heat is extremely dangerous. In fact, it’s “more deadly than any other weather-related hazard — on average causing more deaths annually than tornadoes, floods, or hurricanes in the United States.”

Heatwaves are so dangerous because they can overwhelm the human body – especially if it’s both extremely hot and extremely humid. When you combine measurements of relative humidity with heat, you get what’s called the heat index. This index shows how hot it feels to the human body in shade – and note how temperatures don’t have to be sky high to become dangerous or extremely dangerous.

Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Climate Change and Extreme Heat: What You Can Do to Prepare

Extreme heat should concern everyone but it impacts some much harder than others – including the young children, the elderly, and people with preexisting health conditions and who work outside.

We don’t even have to look far to see the terrible proof. Heartbreakingly, in June 2018, a 24-year-old man named Miguel Angel Guzman Chavez died while picking tomatoes in Georgia. The heat index that day was about 104 degrees Fahrenheit.  

>>In depth: Climate Change and Health: Heatwaves <<

Drought

Fact: “Drought will have a big impact on the production of peanuts, pecans, peaches, and the sweet Vidalia onion, all of which grow in Georgia… The historic 2007 drought cost the Georgia agriculture industry $339 million in crop losses.” (States at Risk: Georgia)

Everybody’s gotta eat – and that’s why drought is serious business. While not every drought can be linked to climate change (they happen due to natural factors, as well), most scientists agree that, on a global scale, climate change means more droughts (and more intense ones at that).

It all has to do with the water cycle – because the crops we grow depend on “normal, long-established climatic patterns.” As weather patterns shifts, warmer temperatures mean more evaporation from bodies of water and the ground, and less water for our crops, let alone the changes in precipitation.

In addition to 2007’s historic drought, much of Georgia was affected by severe drought in 2016. Several monitoring stations went at least 72 days without measurable rainfall and, in late November 2016, “extreme-to-exceptional drought covered approximately… 62 percent of Georgia.” Water for livestock had to be hauled in by trailer, and farmers struggled to harvest their peanut crops. 

In many cases, there’s also a strong link between droughts and an increased risk of wildfire. And that’s what’s up next.

>> Get the facts: Climate Change and Drought <<

Wildfire

Fact: “More than 4.6 million people living in Georgia, or 48 percent of the state's population, are living in areas at elevated risk of wildfire.” (States at Risk: Georgia)

A plane dropping aerial retardant to cool the heat of rapidly moving fire during Georgia’s 2017 West Mims Fire. (Image: National Wildfire Coordinating Group)

At its simplest, the recipe for fire is straightforward: fuel, oxygen, and heat. Drier conditions mean more fuel for the fire and warmer temperatures of course mean more heat for it. And we’ve already established that Georgia is getting warmer and has experienced several major droughts this century.

Plus, not only does climate change mean more wildfires – it means bigger and badder fires, and a longer fire season.

Remember Georgia’s historic 2007 drought? By no coincidence, the state also “experienced an unprecedented series of wildfires in 2007.” More than 6,000 people were forced to evacuate, nine homes were destroyed, and nearly $100 million in damages was reported.

You might be thinking that 2007 was an outlier. It was unprecedented – but in 2017, Georgia was ranked fourth in the nation for number of wildfires and by acres burned, with nearly 4,000 different wildfires that year. While it’s hard to determine the role of climate change in each fire, scientists agree that the overall trend is clear: More climate change is fueling wildfires.

In fact, a 2016 study “estimated that human-caused climate change contributed to the burning of an additional 10.4 million acres of forest from 1984—2015 [in the US], nearly double what would have been expected without it.”

Sea-Level Rise and Coastal Flooding

Fact: “Georgia currently has 650 square miles that fall within the 100-year coastal floodplain. By 2050, this area is projected to increase to more than 900 square miles due to sea level rise.” (States at Risk: Georgia)

“Tybee Island at current mean higher high water (left) and with three feet of sea level rise (right).” (Image: NOAA’s US Climate Resilience Toolkit)

We know this: As humans burn more and more fossil fuels, Earth’s climate is changing and the world is getting warmer. The result: glaciers and icebergs are melting. Oceans are expanding – and our seas are rising.

>> Want to know more? Get the details in our free sea-level rise fact sheet. <<

Tybee Island is one of the most illustrative examples of how life is already changing for the people of Georgia as sea levels rise. The town isn’t exactly an island – it’s connected to the rest of the state by a thin strip of land and highway (US 80). As reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2015: “US 80 is the only road on and off Tybee Island and it floods, in spots, about a half-dozen times a year… By 2060, according to Georgia scientists, the road is expected to flood 50 times a year due to climate change and its impact on sea levels.”

The local government is already adapting to climate change today. In fact, Tybee Island was “first Georgia community to officially acknowledge the threat posed by a rising sea and a warmer climate.”

And it’s not just whether or not residents and tourists can get in and out of town. In the next century, the area could see between three and six feet of sea-level rise – the difference between some of Tybee being underwater and most of it. The town has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on tide gates and flood-proofing water wells. And, still, homes are already flooding today.

As Mayor Jason Buelterman said, “I’m a Republican, but I also realize, by any objective analysis, the sea level is rising.” Climate change doesn’t have to be a partisan issue. In fact, seven out of 10 Americans know it’s happening and want action today – the Climate Majority.

Hurricanes

Fact: “Atlantic hurricane season is seeing more major storms.” (States at Risk: Georgia)
 

When River Street becomes more river than street #Savannah #irma pic.twitter.com/0QB2BGete8

— Jennifer Brett (@Jennifer__Brett) September 11, 2017


When we burn dirty fossil fuels, we end up with dirty weather. Hurricanes happen naturally, but climate change makes them more powerful. Think of a hurricane like an engine, and warmer water as fuel. As average global sea surface temperatures rise thanks to climate change, hurricanes can draw on more heat and water, making them stronger and more destructive.

As renowned climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann said in an interview with 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.”

Atlantic hurricane season runs from the beginning of June to the end of November. Georgia has been hit by several hurricanes in the last few years – including Matthew, Irma, and Maria.

Just one of these storms alone – Hurricane Matthew in 2016 – led to 600 reported fatalities across the US and Haiti. Then there were the financial costs. As of January 2017, Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens estimated the loss from Matthew to be around $500 million in Georgia.

And the hurricane itself isn’t the only danger to our lives and economy. Hurricanes cause flooding – which can ruin crops, contaminate drinking water, and help spread water and vector-borne disease.

Ultimately, this is why climate change is a human story – because it affects real people, today.

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

Help Protect Where You Call Home

Whether you live in Georgia or somewhere else, you can take action to fight climate change and build support for clean energy solutions where you live. Here’s how:

climate changeGeorgiaglobal warmingSea Level RisehurricaneswildfirefirefloodsfloodingheatwavesThe Climate Reality ProjectHow Climate Change Is Impacting Different Places Around the USQuiz: How Much Do You Know About Renewable Energy?Climate Change and Health: WildfiresLead: “Georgia. Georgia on my mind.” A state known for its sprawling peach fields, its southern hospitality, and as a gateway to the Appalachian Trail. It was the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the US civil rights movement. More than 10 million people live in Georgia – and the climate crisis is transforming the state they call home.facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/how-does-climate-change-affect-georgia?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=CRLCEmail Subject: How Does Climate Change Affect Georgia?Twitter URL: https://bit.ly/2xTtuGU
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Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Renewable Energy?

1 month 2 weeks ago

Around the world, cities, states, countries, and companies (and people just like you!) are making the switch to clean, renewable energy to help confront climate change – and because it just makes good economic sense.

Everywhere you look, the clean energy revolution is underway. And thank goodness! But how much do you really know about these incredible solutions to the climate crisis, which are available today, abundant, and increasingly affordable?

Take our latest quiz below to find out!
 


It’s clear: The best way to create new jobs and grow the economy, fight climate change, and support a sustainable future for the planet is to invest in renewable energies like wind, solar, and geothermal power. It’s that simple.

Ready to learn more about the technologies that will power the future? Download our latest free e-book, How Renewables Work: A Practical Guide to Solar, Wind, and Geothermal.

In it, we offer up the facts – and just the facts. No muss, no fuss.

Discover more about how solar, wind, and geothermal work, the many benefits of going renewable, and what it takes to make the switch. Download How Renewables Work: A Practical Guide to Solar, Wind, and Geothermal today.

climate changeclimate crisisrenewable energygeothermalsolarwindQuizThe Climate Reality ProjectHow Exactly Does Geothermal Energy Work?How Does Solar Power Work, Anyway?How Does Wind Energy Work, Anyway?Lead: How much do you know about the technologies that take the Earth’s natural processes and turn them into energy? Take our quiz and find out!facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/quiz-how-much-do-you-know-about-renewable-energy?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=generalEmail Subject: Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Renewable Energy?Twitter URL: https://bit.ly/2MY5RT6
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