Cheers! Winemaker Shows the Future of Farming Lies in the Past

With significant droughts for years on end, Jackson Family Wines is adapting to conditions caused by climate change to save the business, which is one of the biggest family owned wineries in the US. You may have purchases or seen Kendall-Jackson chardonnay. That’s a big seller for the Jackson family. With an attitude of adjust or lose, the winery has a formal sustainability program; tracks energy and water use and greenhouse gas emissions; employs renewable energy sources; and practices many ‘old school’ farming methods. The increased introduction of owls and falcons as predators of the new warmer weather grape obsessed pests decreases the need for pesticides. Energy efficiency of solar and wind power, precise irrigation systems and water reservoirs keeps their energy and water needs down. Jackson Family Wines has become a leader in modern farming applications given climate change and hopes to inspire others in the wine and coffee businesses worldwide. For more details read: http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/05/business/california-wine-climate-change.html.

Money Talks

If you are as concerned about environmental advancements taking a few steps back, perhaps we should worry less. A couple of weeks ago, the New York Times posted an article highlighting the want for large corporations to keep addressing climate change issues instead of the new Presidential administration abandoning the Paris climate agreement and more. Concern over US economic security has these corporations speaking up. At least 365 companies will stick to their own greenhouse gas protections, but urge the new President to honor the direction the US has been heading. Read more at: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/17/business/energy-environment/us-companies-to-trump-dont-abandon-global-climate-deal.html?mtrref=undefined&_r=2.

Aldi Will Rival Whole Foods, But At Less Cost

For someone who knows too much about the way our food is produced, I am super excited by the news that Aldi is making huge strides to rival Whole Foods and make healthier food available to all at a much lower cost. Step by step, Aldi has begun to challenge the ‘whole paycheck’ way of shopping. Some of the newest additions to the Aldi marketplace are: expanding organic choices; banning a number of pesticides from any products; growing the “Never Any!” line of meat, which have no added antibiotics, hormones or other additives; removed artificial colors, partially hydrogenated oils, and MSG from the private-label products (90% of sales); growing the “Simply Nature” line, which has banned more than 125 synthetic ingredients; and sourcing milk, yogurt, sour cream, cottage and other dairy products free of artificial growth hormones. If you are gluten-free, Aldi is your place to shop! There are lots of great choices there especial the “liveGfree” line, and again, at a fraction of the cost. For those that think Aldi doesn’t offer artisan selections, you are off base. I have found lovely cheeses and crackers, smoked salmon, nice wines and delectable chocolates. I have two Aldi stores within a mile and a half from my home and you probably have one nearby as well. Apparently the company plans to open 500 more stores in the next two years. If you haven’t ventured into an Aldi lately, give them a shot. Just remember two things: bring a quarter to borrow a cart (and you get your quarter back when you return the cart) and bring your own bags (which I hope you do regardless). Happy and healthy shopping!

White House Delivers LOUD Msg: Create Jobs- Cut Pollution!

Commitments and Executive Actions Illustrate Federal, State, and Local Leadership to Create Jobs and Cut Carbon Pollution

“The Obama Administration is committed to taking action to combat climate change. As part of that effort, today, the White House is announcing a series of public and private sector commitments and executive actions to advance solar deployment and promote energy efficiency.”

HOORAY!

Last night, I attended a presentation and panel on Climate Change and why our brains tend to ignore it. It was fascinating. I’m looking forward to reading this book by George Marshall, who was leading last night’s conversation: Don’t Even Think About It: How our brains ignore climate change

The presentation was a really terrific conversation, but definitely still left me feeling a bit nervous and like I need way more tools to help others understand the importance of discussing topics of climate change!

My nerves were quieted and my hope, for a near future in which we call stop ignoring this

Major-Global-Will-Affect-Every-Single-One-Of-Us-Issue,

has been reinforced by today’s news from the White House. Here’s more:

“The executive announcements today altogether will cut carbon pollution by nearly 300 million metric tons through 2030 – equivalent to taking more than 60 million cars off the road for one year – and will save homes and businesses more than $10 billion on their energy bills. Those executive actions are:

  • Partnering with up to three military bases to create a veterans solar job training pilot;
  • Investing $68 million in 540 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in rural areas across the country, including 240 solar projects;
  • Proposing an energy conservation standard for commercial unit air conditioners that has the potential to save more energy than any previously issued standard;
  • Supporting funding for clean energy and energy efficiency for affordable housing;
  • Strengthening commercial and residential buildings codes; and
  • Harmonizing the power of national service and volunteerism to tackle climate change and its effects.”

Last night, George Marshall who goes by the twitter handle @climategeorge, said something to the affect:

Climate change is like the big elephant in the room… and right now, we’re INSIDE the elephant. It’s time to get out of the elephant and start talking about it!

So, are you ready to climb out of the elephant, the “let’s all ignore climate change elephant”, and look it square in the eye? YES! Begin to talk about climate change and help lead the discussion for solutions!

Read more about these new climate change addressing actions from the Obama Administration here.

 

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.

Could Solar Roadways Pave The Way To A Clean Energy Future?

You have to watch this to believe it! Truly modern roadways, playlots, driveways, sidewalks, bike paths, and well, you name a surface that isn’t natural and this could be it in a clean energy fashion. These solar roadways would not only create enough energy for the US and then some, but also eliminate the need for snow removal and all of the toxins that go along with that, promote safe driving, create flexible play areas, replace and create jobs, and more.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlTA3rnpgzU

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.