Obama takes a big stand on climate change

U.S. EPA Releases Clean Power Plan Proposal
On June 2, the U.S. EPA released a proposed rule to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants. The Clean Power Plan proposal sets state-specific goals to be met by 2030 and provides guidelines for states to develop plans, building on the work states are already doing to reduce carbon pollution.  By 2030, the EPA expects to reduce carbon emissions from the power sector by 30% nationwide below 2005 levels.  In order to meet that target, this proposal allows states to work individually or in regional groups to meet their respective goals while including flexibility in compliance options.

The proposal includes a timeline for states to follow to meet their respective goals:

  • June 30, 2016:  All states submit initial or complete plans
  • June 20, 2017:  Deadline to submit individual state plans eligible for one-year extension, and progress report for multi-state plans
  • June 30, 2018:  Deadline to submit multi-state plans

The EPA is accepting public comment for 120 days after publication in the Federal Register and will hold four public hearings the week of July 28 in Denver, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Washington, DC. To learn more or to submit a comment, click here.

New Report from the ICCP: “The Polar Bears Are Us”

Since it is Earth Day, I thought it worth noting that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has offered their strongest statement about the threat the climate change represents. Their newest report is grounded in scientific data and outlines the serious consequences of inaction.

I thought that this discussion on On the Media outlines some of the approach taken by the IPCC.

For more information, take a look at this book in the library’s collection Overheated : the human cost of climate change by Andrew T. Guzman.

On the Media: Case Closed (on Climate Change)

Description: A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) not only presents dire evidence of global warming’s impact, it also offers a different narrative about who is at risk, putting humans at the center of the story. Brooke talks with science journalist Cristine Russell about the IPCC’s media-ready case.

So MUCH To Do, APRIL 2014

Happy Earth Month, Y’all!

Everyday is Earth Day, of course, but this is the month we take extra time to celebrate all that is wonderful on this big blue planet, how we can behave to support its health and ultimately our health as communities and individuals.

Check out all the great events happening this Earth Month here at MVCC.

Also, there’s a really cool energy reduction challenge happening in Crawley Hall! You can watch real time energy demand and see how the building users are doing as they attempt to reduce their energy demands!

And here’s a bit from the US EPA on how to stay involved nationally and digitally. They have some pretty cool campaigns this month; definitely worth checking out.

Happy Earth Month from EPA!

April 22 is Earth Day, but we’re celebrating all month, sharing a new tip each day to help you act on climate change.

Below, we’ve listed many ways you can take action yourself and spread the word to your friends and family. Try one or many, but either way, let’s all #ActOnClimate!

Help us get the message out
Please help us share a message at noon on Earth Day, along with the link to a page full of things everyone can do to act on climate. We’re using a new system called Thunderclap to coordinate, so a message will go out from everyone at noon on Earth Day. Here’s the catch: we need 500 people to sign up or the message won’t go.

The message is: “For Earth Day, I commit to protect the climate. Take small actions that add up! #ActOnClimate http://epa.gov/climatechange/wycd/

We need your help, both to send the message and to invite your friends to send it, too. Join the effort or if you want more information about how it works, see our blog post.

Share daily tips through our website and social media
We’ve created 30 daily tips to act on climate, and we’ll post one each day. Help us get them out there:

Join a Twitter chat about climate issues
We’re going to have EPA experts available to discuss various climate issues on our @EPAlive account every Tuesday in April:

  • April 8, 2:00pm EDT – What can I do to act on climate?
  • April 15, 2:00pm EDT – What is EPA doing to act on climate?
  • April 22, 2:00pm EDT – EPA Research and Climate: What does the research show about climate change and what we can do about it.
  • April 29, 2:00pm EDT – Why is climate action important for our water?

How can you join the conversation? Just follow @EPAlive and the #ActOnClimate hashtag on Twitter. Ask us a question or share your ideas, or just read along with the conversation. In addition to using Twitter, we’ll publish a blog post for each chat, and you can ask your questions or send your thoughts as comments on the post. Here’s the first one: http://blog.epa.gov/blog/2014/04/lets-chat-about-how-to-act-on-climate/

We look forward to working with you to #ActOnClimate!

Moraine Valley takes steps to tackle climate change!

HOORAY!!!

Dr. Jenkins agreed to sign the American Colleges and Universities Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), pledging to eliminate Moraine Valley’s net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in a reasonable period of time.

The ACUPCC defines climate neutrality as having no net GHG emissions, to be achieved by eliminating net GHG emissions, or by minimizing GHG emissions as much as possible, and using carbon offsets or other measures to mitigate the remaining emissions.

Through Dr. Jenkins’ leadership, Moraine Valley now joins the other signatories in the necessary cooperative and united action to make positive change for today and tomorrow.

Contact sustainability@morainevalley.edu for more information about this new effort. Please read the formal press release below for more. This is really exciting news!

Moraine Valley President Dr. Sylvia Jenkins signs Presidents’ Climate Commitment

Moraine Valley Community College President Dr. Sylvia Jenkins joined a growing list of university, college and community college presidents across the country who have signed a commitment to eliminate net greenhouse gas emissions from their campus operations before 2050. She signed the American Colleges and Universities Presidents’ Climate Commitment on Sept. 30.

Through this commitment, Moraine Valley agrees to complete an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions; create and implement a climate action plan; reduce emissions while the plan is being developed; integrate sustainability into the curriculum; and make the plan, inventory and progress reports publicly available annually. An important element of this pact is to educate students about climate neutrality—having no net greenhouse gas emissions—and sustainability.

By signing, Moraine Valley joins more than 670 institutions concerned about the growing adverse effects of global warming on people’s health, economy and the environment. This group recognizes the need to reduce emissions by 80 percent by at least mid-century to avert further global disaster.

“I’m pleased that we can join in this effort, and I know that Moraine Valley is fully committed to accepting this challenge and meeting those expectations well before the 2050 deadline,” Dr. Jenkins said. “We have worked hard over the last few years to cut down our greenhouse gas emissions and improve our sustainability efforts. We already have a LEED platinum certified campus center in Tinley Park and have earned a bronze rating from the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System that are testament to our dedication to this cause.”

MVCC president Dr. Jenkins signing climate commitment

PHOTO CAPTION: Dr. Sylvia Jenkins, center, signs the American Colleges and Universities Presidents’ Climate Commitment with members of Moraine Valley Community College’s Green Team as witnesses.

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            For news media inquiries, contact Maura Vizza, Moraine Valley public relations generalist, at (708) 974-5742 or VizzaM@morainevalley.edu.

 

Debating GMO Crops and Supporting Global Populations

I know that my take on organic & local farming varies slightly from that of many folks around MVCC. I also know that my take on genetically modified crops also varies. Here is a lecture from British journalist Mark Lynas who offers support for GMO crops. To me, this is a debate that is very important, because I have concern that the overly-simplistic GMO campaigns (many that were successful in Europe) do not allow for nuance and recognition that there are useful, valuable, and safe forms of GMO that will be necessary to stabilize the increasing world population.

Mark Lynas on his conversion to supporting GMOs – Oxford Lecture on Farming

Your state is polluting my state’s air- what are you gonna do about it?

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments on the EPA’s ability to force state governments to curb local emissions that pollute the air of neighboring states. Under review is the 2011 Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR). The CSPAR requires 28 states to significantly improve air quality by reducing power plant emissions that cross state lines and contribute to ozone and fine particle pollution in other states.

Supporters of the rule say it would avert the loss of nearly 2 million work and school days each year to respiratory illnesses. Business groups say the rule would cost $800 million in 2014 and be otherwise economically harmful.

In a nutshell: States are required to clean their air and keep it clean. But if pollution is coming from some other state, at what point is that state responsible to help clean the impacted state’s air? That’s the question the EPA is attempting to answer with this rule.

The full report can be found here. A quick briefing of the rule is here, plus a quick synopsis of why EPA and others are asking SCOTUS to a previous D.C. appeals court ruling that invalidated it. The wind blows in all directions.   There are also several articles about this, one in the Economist and another here. Both highlight cost perspectives compared to impact. It’s an interesting concept, one I hope to see get some footing and help mitigate air pollution in general.

Is it really THAT radical?

“It may well be true that capitalism is incapable of accommodating itself to the limits of the natural world. But that is not the same question as whether or not capitalism can solve the climate crisis,” writes Christian Parenti in his article A Radical Approach to the Climate Crisis.

Parenti provides a comprehensive yet easy to understand overview of the state of our climate crisis as well as how capitalism and government influence may be the way to getting us out of it. But they can do nothing without, what he calls, radical reform.  I particularly like this piece because his idea of radical reform does not hail to the ideals that we all return to living off the land, eating grasses and raising our own foods.

No, he defines it as: reforms that achieve qualitative change in the balance of power between the classes. And suggests that the only way this will  happen is if we, the people, rise up and demand it. We do so by putting pressure on our government bodies as well as our business entities. The result is a shift in government behaviors which would naturally drive the costs of fossil fuels up and renewables down. I am not going into detail here because Parenti does a very fine job of explaining this in his article, which can be found in the Summer 2013 edition of Dissent Magazine or at  Resilience.org

Plenty of others are in agreement with many of the points Parenti makes, including the idea of charging for polluting (some call it a carbon tax). For example, Severin Borenstein, Bad Incentives For Green Choices, explains, “The near-unanimous view of economists is that the best way to deal with pollution externalities is by pricing them, generally through a pollution tax or cap and trade program. Yet, policy makers still prefer to reward “good” behavior rather than impose costs on bad behavior…”

What happens over the next seven years or so is pivotal. Some might argue it’s too late. Call me a bit pie-eyed, perhaps even quixotic, but I’ll hold out hope for change before 2020.

weather stress, climate change, & < 28 year olds…??

Checking the Weather Channel’s online weather update is usually a quick in and out for me, as I am there mostly to answer one question: what’s the weather going to be like today? But sometimes the site has interesting articles, photographs, videos, etc. that catch my eye. Today was one of those times.

I found a brief article with interactive graphics depicting “what climate change looks like“. It’s a really concise view of the trends of our warming planet. Following the article is also a brief video about “Weather Stress” or the psychological threats climate change poses to our mental health.

Within, I found this fact to be particularly remarkable:

“In fact, according to NOAA’s data set, each month for more than 28 years has had a global average temperature that was above the 20th century average, meaning that anyone younger than 28 years old has never experienced a cooler-than-average month on earth.”

Whoa.

Of course, this Weather Channel’s article covers global trends. Want to see what’s been happening just in the States? ClimateCentral.com has some really interesting graphics (great classroom material!) that depict warming trends for the nation.

Read the full article and watch the video here.

Interestingly, the site has a lot about climate change and health impacts. In fact, there is another brief but informative article here about current climate change health risk factors. It’s not about the future, it’s about the here and now and it’s definitely time to pay attention and take precautions.

 

Changing the future on a…train?

Millennial Trains Project (MTP): 20 participants age 18-34 are set to embark on a fast-paced cross-country journey in the name of sustainability, entrepreneurism and social change.

Ten cities, 10 days, 20 bright young minds on a transcontinental train trip sharing ideas for solving real-world problems — that’s the concept behind The Millennial Trains Project, a sort of mobile think tank that brings together socially minded entrepreneurs to address the challenges of the present and future. Departing Aug. 8 from San Francisco, the train will stop in Salt Lake City, Denver, Omaha, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Washington on its journey of discovery. 

Read more about this project in Mother Nature News reporter Gerri Miller’s interview with Patrick Dowd, the project’s founder and CEO.

All of the projects sound really interesting! There are studies of food waste, energy conservation, health and diversity issues like- living with chronic illness or what it’s like to be an Arab American- and one, not surprisingly, about the use of trains for transit as a sustainable choice. In all, the MTP categorizes the individual projects into ten tracks:

I’ll be very interested to learn more about that last one; it’s Malcolm Kenton’s project. Trains Revitalizing America, is born out of Malcolm’s passion for trains and interest in sustainability and ecology. He’ll be creating a documentary that highlights various reasons that makes train travel a sustainable, efficient and ecologically sound mode of transportation. Cool!

The individual millennials and their project ideas can be found on the Project’s website. They have some really unique and creative stories and ideas. I hope they are able to make great strides and grow their concepts into real, actionable and helpful strategies to shape a better future for us all.

Safe & successful travels, Millennials, Choo Choo!!