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.

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.

 

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.

Merry Your Season Be Merry & Green!

Americans generate a lot of waste during the holidays, and one of the big culprits is holiday entertaining. Plastic cutlery can hang around a landfill for thousands of holidays to come, and even paper plates aren’t earth-friendly!

Biodegradable cutlery and plates are one alternative. Better yet:
Use cloth instead of paper napkins. Reusing is always better than recycling! Also you can borrow plates and silverware. If you’re short, ask a few friends to bring a set of each. Here are some other ideas for how to make the party green.

And, here are a few more ideas make sure your holiday has a great impact on hearts but not the planet. Also, note the reminder for the office, too!

Gifts:

  1. The gift of an experience – for those that  have it all and  need nothing, how about movie tickets or tickets to a play or passes to a yoga classes? Check out 30 other ideas here.
  2. Holiday cards are really great to receive! But what do you do when the holiday is over? 18 creative reuse ideas right here– and some would make fun gifts, too!
  3. Wrapping paper is beautiful, but so is fabric and scarfs! Here are 15 ways you can wrap gifts that are fun, sometimes reusable and festive!

Around the Office (whether you work at Moraine Valley Community College or not):

  1. When you leave for the break make sure to unplug everything: tvs, computers and monitors, fridges, coffee makers, and anything else you have plugged in. This saves a tremendous amount of energy and reduces the risks for fire and other issues.
  2. Oh, and please, turn off the lights!

In the spirit of love, happiness and always hope for a bright future- may you and yours have a love filled, safe and happy green holiday!

Sustainably yours,
Stephenie

Hope & What to Do About Climate Change in 2017

A colleague, Clara Changxin Fang, recently posted an article talking about her top Ten Reasons to Feel Hopeful About Climate Change in 2017, https://residenceonearth.net/2016/12/07/hope-climate-change/

I found it to be uplifting in a time where I even more concerned about the future of climate policy and climate change action in the U.S.

Of the 10, I think my top 2 favorites:
1. All power does not reside in the President (remember checks and balances, separation of powers!!)
and her number 10.,
2. The next election is only 2 years away.

That’s right, we’ll have another chance to vote for candidates that will support and fight for solid climate policy.

So, what can we all do about climate change in 2017? Or even right now?

TALK ABOUT IT.

In a recent article from Katherine Kayhoe of the Huffington Post, she wrote “Seventy-two percent of people in the US are cautious, concerned, or alarmed about climate change, according to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication’s Six Americas survey. Yet so few of us talk to our friends and family about it. Why? Because we don’t hear anyone else doing it.” 

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Kayhoe warns to not get into the “Yes it is, No it is not” arguments; they are pointless.

A quote from the Citizen’s Climate Lobby about talking about climate change explains: “Research from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication has found that knowledge about the scientific consensus on climate change serves as a “gateway belief,” making people more inclined to accept the fact that climate change is happening and more inclined to support public policy solutions. Here is the specific wording that needs to be communicated:”

97 percent of climate scientists are convinced, based upon the evidence, that human-caused global warming is happening. (Link to Yale Study: Yale Project on Climate Change Communication.)

Check out Kayhoe’s suggested talking points, or Citizen’s Climate Lobby, or the Yale Project… or, wherever you get your creditable information and start talking about it!

(My favorite of Kayhoe’s: “2. Fort Hood in Texas, the biggest army base in the US, is installing wind and solar. Why? To save taxpayers $168 million dollars. Now that’s what I call green.”)

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!

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.

What Will You Do To Celebrate Earth Day Tomorrow?

Tomorrow, April 22nd, is the 46th Earth Day. Make a commitment to do at least one thing, big or small: write to a legislator and ask them to protect the environment or support a sustainable future, make a pledge to buy less stuff, plant something, recycle something you have been meaning to recycle (computer, old paint), or teach someone else something about the environment. Need some other suggestions? Click here: http://www.greeneducationfoundation.org/nationalgreenweeksub/curriculum-and-activities/activities-ngw/1195-top-10-earth-day-activities.html. What will you do?