UN Climate Change Conference 2017

The UN Climate Change Conference of 2017 begins today (11/6/2017)! Although President Trump has pulled the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, this is still very exciting. World leaders are converging on Bonn Germany to discuss how to mitigate the negative effects of climate change- globally- with or without US federal support.

Why is this exciting? Because even though the Trump Administration is denying climate change as a major threat to the nation’s security, the nation’s leaders in business, technology, higher education, state and local governments, tribal nations, non-profits, and faith-based organizations are not.

We Are Still In!

“In the absence of leadership from Washington, representatives of cities and states, tribes, businesses, and academia have traveled to Bonn and are standing alongside the international community to make clear that the representation of the United States extends beyond its federal government. With over 2,500 signatories representing more than 130 million Americans and $6.2 trillion of economic output, ‘We Are Still In’ is the largest cross section of the American economy yet assembled in pursuit of climate action. We invite all attendees to join them as they kick off the US non-national presence at COP 23.”

These amazing leaders are going to help the United States stay connected with the international community as we all strive to fight to reduce emissions and stave off the worst of climate change. This isn’t important just for us in the US (but, we should be concerned for our own safety, too), it’s a global crisis that can be solved collectively. To that, we could say: thank you to all of you wonderful leaders for stepping up!

Video from the Washington Post article about the newest US Climate Assessment Report.

Climate Change Opinions

Just came across this tool from Yale, the Climate Opinions Maps- 2016, and its fascinating and disturbing at the same time. Something great about the United States is that we are free to express our thoughts and ideas without fear of persecution. However, that freedom also comes with a responsibility  to be informed, ask questions, seek out truths and remain open-minded, trusting of experts but also learning for yourself.

Two words that are very important: Fact & Opinion.

fact
fakt
noun
  1. a thing that is indisputably the case.
o·pin·ion
??piny?n
noun
  1. a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

Now, back to the Yale tool. These are the opinions of polled Americans. It’s alarming to know how many people still think there is a reputable dispute over climate change being real, that it is or is not caused by humans, and if it’s something to be concerned about. Facts, not opinions, about the science of understanding climate change and its impacts on our quality of life are easy enough to find. NASA is a good place to start.

However, from this Yale tool we see that 26% of those polled still believe climate change is the result of “natural causes”, 32% are not worried about its impact on our health or economy (but maybe they should be!), 40% do not believe it’s already harming people in the US (think Sandy & Katrina or any of the recent droughts, heat waves, crazy blizzards…) and 75% do not hear about global warming in the media at least once a week!

Can that really be true?

The Washington Post, The New York Times, NPR, even Fox News have stories about climate change or its impacts on the world around us at least once a week. The hyperlinks are an example of simple search on each site for the past 7 days.

I find hope in the fact that these opinions are not the majority. And I find even more hope in the fact that there are people in Congress, right now, building a coalition of legislators that are looking at policy changes to help mitigate climate change impacts.

“The Climate Solutions Caucus is a bipartisan group in the US House of Representatives which will explore policy options that address the impacts, causes, and challenges of our changing climate. The caucus was founded in February of 2016 by two south-Florida representatives Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) who will serve as co-chairs of the caucus.

The Caucus will serve as an organization to educate members on economically-viable options to reduce climate risk and protect our nation’s economy, security, infrastructure, agriculture, water supply and public safety,” according to documents filed with the Committee on House Administration.”

This historic undertaking is supported by several groups who care about climate policy. As mentioned, it started with 2 Representatives. Since 2016 it has grown to now 46 members! It is always to be bi-partisan, so when a Republican wants to join, a Democrat must also join and visa versa. To learn more and to be involved the Citizens’ Climate Lobby is a good place to start.
Another thing that provides some hope is even though President Trump has backed out of the Paris Climate Agreement, many other important leaders in the US have not. The “We’re Still In” initiative is a growing body of “mayors, governors, college and university leaders, businesses, and investors [that] are joining forces for the first time to declare that [they] will continue to support climate action to meet the Paris Agreement.”
Check out the Moraine Valley Community College Library and resident Center for Sustainability if you want more academic, scientific-based information on climate change and how to get involved to make positive changes for today and tomorrow.

Earth Month Celebrations!

Earth Month is just around the corner… here are some fun things lined up!

***Please invite your students, colleagues or others you may know that would be interested!***

Campus & Community Events

JoeyFineRhyme is coming April 12!
Taking on our collective eco-challenges requires we each embody an ethos of action. This interdisciplinary and participatory presentation educates students on climate and waste, parallels these crises with other great challenges that have been met, draws inspiration from what previous movements have accomplished, and imparts knowledge to students on what they can do. He has a unique style of free-style rap to help keep the audience engaged!!
Check out Joey’s work here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnDQYVISg3xBamkbNqLArnQ  it’s really amazing and fun!
Library 11AM
Library 12PM
FPAC Menker 4PM

ActOut 2.0 – “Our Common Ground: A Space for Civil Discourse”
April 21, 9-4
Move toward an honest understanding of social issues that bridges the political divide and offers real world ideas for civic engagement and problem-solving action. Attend workshops on Issue and Awareness Building, and Civil Practice and Action. All are welcome! For more information on the workshops and to register, www.morainevalley.edu/actout

GO Green! Club Swap-A-Thon
April 26, from 12 to 3, the G building gym
The gym will be converted into a free-cycle space. All month long there will be boxes for people to make donations- things that are still of good use, but just not wanted by its original owner. Clothing, books and media, school supplies, electronics, etc. will be collected and then organized in the G building gym for anyone to come and take what they can use. Please bring in items you would  normally donate to the thrift stores and help fill the boxes! All items that remain at the end of the day will be donated to local charities.
Partnering with Asian Diversity Club, Student Government Association, ComEd Education Partners and more to ensure we have a diverse and educational event- not just a grab and go!

50th Anniversary Tree Planting – Arbor Day & Tree Campus USA
April 28, S & B buildings at 11AM
In honor of Moraine Valley’s 50th Anniversary, Arbor Day and to celebrate the college’s TreeCampusUSA status, we’ll be planting a tree near between S & B buildings at 11AM. All are welcome to join in the ceremonious event!

Moraine Valley Staff & Faculty Opportunities
ANNOUNCEMENT: Pilot Sustainability Office Challenge
Ongoing
After a small pilot, we’re looking for a few more offices (you determine what constitutes an office- ex. a faculty office, the HR Admin team, all of Institutional Research, etc.) to participate in our Sustainability Office Challenge. The excel sheet is attached. All participants in the Challenge will be invited to an afternoon “celebration” with goodies as well as time to provide feedback on the challenge- what worked, what didn’t, how can it be improved. Plus, you’ll be recognized in our publications and on social media. Any questions, contact Stephenie x5412 or pressellers@morainevalley.edu

CTL Presentations
SmartGrid: What’s That? How Does it Save me Money?
There’s a lot to learn about SmartGrid technology, not just because it’s cool, but because you can save money and energy with this new energy system. Participants will learn about the SmartGrid technology and also about programs that are now in place that can dramatically reduce one’s energy bill and carbon emissions. (Strategic Priority: Program Development)
CTLE-E108-001 W 4/5 12:00p – 1:00p L244
CTLE-E108-002 R 4/13 12:00p – 1:00p L244
CTLE-E108-003 R 4/27 3:00p – 4:00p L244

Finding Hope & How to Talk About Climate Change in 2017
There is a lot of concern about what will happen to climate change policy and actions in 2017 due to the recent election results. This workshop will help participants learn where there are still opportunities to continue moving forward on the progress we’ve made thus far, learn how to talk about climate change issues with their students, and receive resources on how to be involved in making a positive impact for today and the future. (Strategic Priority: Student Success)
CTLF-G102-003 T 4/11 12:00p – 1:00p L244

Questions, comments, feedback- please let me know.

Peace &,
Sustainably yours,
Stephenie

708-974-5412

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. —Anne Frank.

No Mention of Climate Change or Renewables on WhiteHouse.gov

After the inauguration of our 45th President, many changes were made to the WhiteHouse.gov including removing any information about climate change, LGBTQ issues, renewable energy and more. Feel free to search for yourself.

What I did find is this – “An America First Energy Plan” that basically outlines intents to abolish the existing or proposed policies that actually help to make America a great and safe place to live.

I was shocked. Upset. Frustrated. I still am, but I need to focus that energy into making sure we still work for climate change policy and justice. So, I reached out to some friends and asked for help to find hope, to inspire me to keep up the good fight. It worked. Here are a few reasons why:

1, This headline from popular online zine, Vox.com, “Illinois passes huge, bipartisan energy bill, proves democracy still works”

2, This blurb from the The Environmental Law & Policy Center summary of the bill helps explain the positive impact further: “Future Energy Jobs Bill (SB 2814) will improve and modernize the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) by ensuring long-term, reliable funding sources for the purchase of renewable resources into the foreseeable future. The newly updated RPS creates a secure, stable budget of more than $200 million annually for the purchase of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) on behalf of Illinois utilities by the Illinois Power Agency (IPA). It also establishes new community solar, low-income solar, brownfield solar, and distributed generation programs that will lead to diverse and balanced solar market development that is accessible to all Illinois residents.”

3, (summary of a conversation with a colleague) So that means at least IL is not going to kill renewables. Also, even though Illinois allows fracking, the low gas prices have discouraged fracking in Illinois, and as of today no permits have been granted. Furthermore, the economics of renewables have gotten much better and we should expect that to continue. In IL and surrounding, republican controlled states, we have seen movement toward green energy… Texas has one of the largest wind energy programs in the nation!

4, Here is a recording from ELPC Executive Director, Howard Learner talking with Justin Kaufmann from WGN Radio. Learner gives a lot of insight into what we should be concerned about the future of the EPA, but also why we should be hopeful.

5, And another interview with Learner, by Kari Lydersen from the Midwest Energy News: Q&A: Advocate upbeat about Midwest as Trump administration looms 

This interview even more so highlights progress that has been made, bipartisan in fact, on clean energy and why he believes it will continue.

But it will take work. It will take constituents reaching out to their representatives and telling them to support a clean and healthy today and tomorrow for all of us.

Dr. Jenkins Makes Statement on Climate Change Policy

Welcome to Spring 2017!! I thought it’d be good to start the semester off with some good news. So here you go!!

Open Letter on Climate Action from over 230 Higher Education Leaders to Incoming Administration and Congress about Climate Policy

Dr. Jenkins and Moraine Valley Community College, along with over 230 other Presidents and Chancellors from Colleges and Universities, including 35 states in the U.S., have joined together to urge president-elect Trump and the incoming congressional representatives to accelerate progress towards a clean energy future. Through their open letter, organized by nonprofit Second Nature, they call on elected officials to support participation in the Paris Agreement, climate research, and investment in the low carbon economy.

The group of schools expressed their alignment with the business and investment communities in supporting the science-based targets outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement. Moraine Valley has been taking climate action for years, including voluntarily setting carbon neutrality goals and publicly reporting progress through a program called the Climate Leadership Commitments.

Dr. Jenkins, thank you for your support & leadership on this very important issue. 

A full list of the schools supporting the open letter can be found here: secondnature.org/higher-education-climate-action-letter

Interested in learning more about Climate Policy and how to integrate discussions in the classroom? 

I’ll be leading some CTL workshops on the topic. I’m happy to come for a classroom visit. And you can find some good resources here to fight the “doom and gloom” attitude & stand up for good policy changes.

 

MVCC Book Selling / Buying Website

Oh how I love to sell and buy used stuff. This got me thinking about our students selling and buying our books. I wondered how they could do this. Apparently, our awesome student trustee had this brilliant idea created: http://books.morainevalley.edu/swap_main.asp?. The more people that post, the more savings there will be for everyone. Buying a reused book will not only save money, but will prevent unused books from entering the landfill. It is a win for you, the other person and sustainability. Now go and post your books for sale and buy your books for next semester!

Simple Tips (& Why) to Green Your Holidays!

Stores staying open all day on Thanksgiving, Black Friday hype, Christmas ads already blaring… enough! It’s STRESSING me out! And that is not healthy.

I want to relax and enjoy quality time with my family and friends. And I want the experiences to be healthy for me, them and light on environmental impact.

Two things I like to consider to help me be less stressed & promote health for my peeps and my (our) planet: 1. Greening Gifts
2. Greening the Menu

1. On Gifts (and avoiding the crazy, stressful shopping wars!) I’m steering clear of all that hub bub and instead will be home, warm and cozy, preparing my craft room to make my gifts. I love making things! It helps me unwind, plus I know I’m pouring love into the gift and so does the recipient. Win-win!

Not everyone is crafty or inclined to make gifts. But if you are! Here’s a blog with a few ideas I really like and maybe you will, too. 38 DIY Gifts People Actually Want

If you’re not crafty, no problem. You can of course still pour love into bought items, too. And there are plenty of resources out there to help you find the perfect gift for that special someone. It’s perfect because not only do they need the item, it is helpful to them, won’t make them sick and is also created in a way that doesn’t harm the environment. Perfect!

I realize some of us will still want to get out and shop for some great deals… have you heard of Small Business Saturday? A lot of Chicagoland businesses are participating and shopping local is really a great way to encourage local economic recovery!

2. On the Menu: Eating lower on the food chain is a great way to make a difference for your health and the planet. It’s easier than you think, too. Do you have to give up the Turkey? No!! But treating it more like a condiment and enjoying more of your favorite vegetable based sides is a great start. Also, everything doesn’t have to be organic, but I do look out for certain food additives to avoid as well as where and how the veggies or fruit are grown for health concerns.

[On meat: If I did eat meat I would want to buy it from a local farmer where I know the animal was cared for, ate the right foods and slaughtered in a manner that was ethical.]

What’s on my menu? Well, I’m not hosting….but this is what I am bringing
Roasted Brussels Sprouts in a Balsamic Reduction
Kale, Pumpkin Seed, Cranberry Salad
Apple, Turnip, Sweet Potato Saute

Final Greening Holidays tip from me to you… When making your list to give people this holiday season, it helps to consider the following:

  • WHAT will be the impact on the person I’m giving this gift to? Will it improve their live in a meaningful way?
  • WHERE does this gift come from? Is it locally crafted and supporting local economies?
  • WHO made it? Are they paid a living wage and have safe working conditions? WHO profits from me buying this gift? Does it enrich some corporation whose values I do/don’t support?
  • HOW was it made? How does the resource and manufacturing impact on the environment?
  • WHY? Why should I give this gift? What NEED does it fill?

It’s important to consider these questions so that not just at a personal level, but at a global level you are fully aware of the impacts of your gift-giving decisions.

Happy Holidays!

2 World Leaders #ActOnClimate

Woke up to hopeful news this morning!

U.S. President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping coming to agreement to #ActOnClimate Change. Under this new deal, the U.S. would cut its 2005 CO2 emissions by 26-28% before 2025 and China will aim to get 20% of its energy from clean (zero-emission) sources by 2030.

The U.S. and China are two of the world’s top CO2 emissions polluters so this deal is quite significant; it sets a precedent and calls for other countries to also address their emissions in a global commitment to mitigate the most severe impacts of climate change. Perhaps there is hope for the Climate Summit in Paris next year!!

Still have questions about climate change? The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions has a series of podcasts and simple to understand articles that help explain what is climate change; what changes can we expect regionally and globally; what is being done to address these changes (policy and innovations); what else can be done and how can we, individually, act?

Or, Check out Bill Nye the Science Guy explain climate change in less than 5 minutes…

then dig deeper to get wise on the topic. The more we know, the more we can do to make positive change for today and tomorrow.

Nature is Speaking: Are You Listening?

One of the world’s leading organizations driving conservation efforts across the globe, Conservation International, has launched a new series of short films called, “Nature Is Speaking”. Watching them, words like: beautiful, poignant, true and powerful come to mind.

NATURE DOESN’T NEED PEOPLE. PEOPLE NEED NATURE. ~natureisspeaking.org

Here’s one featuring Kevin Spacey. Wonderful.

Kevin Spacey is The Rainforest

See them all here.

#natureisspeaking … are You listening?

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.