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.

Hope with the Paris Agreement Decision by Trump?

Today is World Environment Day, a day we’re supposed to think about the planet, all that it provides us and how we need to care for its natural resources so we continue to thrive. So, perhaps it bears reason to discuss the President’s decision to leave the  Paris Climate Agreement.

Even though many advised him that was a vacuous move, he did it anyway. Claiming pulling out will help drive the United States economy and job growth, his ideas are unfounded and frustrating to those that understand climate change is real and action must be taken immediately to mitigate it.

The Paris agreement was intended to bind the world community into battling rising temperatures in a united manner. The US is a one of the G7, 7 top world economies, and pulling out sends a really scary message to the rest of the over 150 signing countries– one that says the United States doesn’t give a hoot about the rest of the world. That’s very disheartening.

However, today there was news of a glimmer of hope. A group of the nation’s leaders in business, nonprofits, higher education and political leadership is negotiating with the United Nations to still uphold the United States’ commitment to reducing carbon emissions. This is what being responsible, understanding science and facts, and knowing what the right thing to do looks like.

Their efforts deserve applause and support! You can read about it here:

Bucking Trump, These Cities, States and Companies Commit to Paris Accord

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.

Climate change is threatening to push a crowded capital toward a breaking point.

Mexico City is not unlike Chicagoland. It is a city of neighborhoods and suburbs and houses roughly 21 million people (Chicagoland is actually roughly 10 million). They have a democratic government, elect officials to take care of their constituents, which includes providing schooling, police, and municipal amenities like: clean drinking water. In the Chicagoland region we are lucky to have the Great Lakes and we are not facing serious water issues. However, with climate change the Lakes are threatened.

This interesting article about the issues Mexico City is facing with drought and lack of water paints a picture of what could be a potential future for our region. It is the first of a series of articles that are examining how cities are tackling climate change threats or not, and what are the consequences of not acting.

“A Columbia University report found that where rainfall declines, “the risk of a low-level conflict escalating to a full-scale civil war approximately doubles the following year.” The Pentagon’s term for climate change is “threat multiplier.” “

Many organizations are studying climate change as it relates to the Great Lakes. The EPA has a summary of how lake levels have changed over time and what that means for water supply as well as industry.

“In recent years, warmer surface water temperatures in the Great Lakes have contributed to lower water levels by increasing rates of evaporation and causing lake ice to form later than usual (see the Lake Ice indicator), which extends the season for evaporation. Lower water levels in the Great Lakes forced ships to reduce their cargo tonnage by 5 to 8 percent between 1997 and 2000, which increased shipping costs. Lower water levels can also affect water supplies, the usability of infrastructure such as docks and piers, and shoreline ecosystems. These types of disruptions from low water levels are expected to continue as the climate changes.”

Back in Mexico City water shortages have already reached crisis level.

“…the government acknowledges that nearly 20 percent of Mexico City residents — critics put the number even higher — still can’t count on getting water from their taps each day. For some residents, water comes only once a week, or once every several weeks, and that may mean just an hour of yellow muck dripping from the faucet.”

As more and more are without municipal water, they are forced to buy it from private providers. This cost is often too much for the poor to bear.

“People in rich neighborhoods on the other side of town, “they don’t have to think about water,” she added. “But for us it is something we think about all day, every day.” “

The issues the world faces due to climate change are vast and sometimes too much to comprehend. However, it is important that we try. There are other organizations fighting for climate action. They have great solutions like taxing carbon at its source and then distributing that money back to the people. The idea is that initially the increased costs of using fossil fuels will be put back on the consumer. So the dividend is to help consumers bear the initial increased costs. However, over time it will become too expensive to use fossil fuels and companies will be forced to innovate and use clean energy.

The Citizens’ Climate Lobby is one of those groups pushing this idea. They are a non-partisan organization seeking Carbon Fee & Dividend Legislation. So far, they have 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans in the Senate that have agreed to join the Climate Caucus that is trying to pass this legislation… so there’s hope.

National Park Service Finds Another Way & So Should You!

It is a sad week! President Trump banned the National Park Service from tweeting (Twitter) about climate change, silenced all media relations in the EPA, and began signing orders to move forward with the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. I’m sure many of you already know this. Please don’t stand for this and remember to write, call, tweet your discontent. Everyday, I have been tweeting President Trump @realDonaldTrump, sending letters via the White House website to President Trump, Vice President Pence, and First Lady Melania Trump https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact. I have contacted my Senators and Representative https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm and http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/. I will put the pen to paper today and hand write letters and post on Facebook, which I rarely do because I am not really a fan of it. Please do something! Please encourage others to do something! I was really hoping that all of the hype around President Trump doing much to harm the environment and future generations was just that, hype, but it seems it is not. It has not even been a week under his leadership and he is working quickly to dismantle so much good. Please do not stand for this! Do something! My children thank you!

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.

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.

Will Trump Change His Views on Climate Change? Let’s Hope/Take Action

In recent reports, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon feels that President Elect Donald Trump will have to change his views on climate change (for more on this: http://abcnews.go.com/International/secretary-general-ban-ki-moon-predicts-trump-change/story?id=43547496), and I really hope he is right on this one. Trump said on Twitter and later deleted: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” Please be sure to write to Donald Trump to look at the scientific data on climate change and make advancements. You can write to him here: https://www.donaldjtrump.com/contact.