As I write this, we have just finished our first day of training with Climate Reality in Houston, Texas. Yesterday, we heard from a number of powerful speakers to include Climate Reality’s new CEO, Phyllis Cuttino, William Barber III, Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., Dr. Robert Bullard, John Beard and a host of others. The big speech came from Vice President Al Gore who shared the problems we are facing but who ended the presentation on messages of hope.
On October 12, we went to Ft. Myers to scout out areas we and Mission 850 might be able to help with clean up. What we found on the island was incredible. Almost any and all “stick-built” structures were destroyed. Some of the strongly built concrete buildings look fine from the outside, but all had at least three feet of water that had gone though them. Climate change is real and storms are getting worse.
The impact of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on the EPA will be felt around the world. The fight against climate change, declining biodiversity, and pollution is not something that exists in a vacuum. It requires a collective and global effort in order to contain and reverse these harmful effects. I and many people strongly believe the Supreme Court’s ruling will significantly hinder the ability for the US to act and the consequences are legion.
Removing federal regulatory power leaves the responsibility in the hands of Congress and the states. This all but guarantees the problems of regulatory capture and acting on behalf of the fossil fuel industry will continue. Leaving the problem to states will result in a scattered approach at best and will likely see many states fall prey to shortsighted economic interests over the important environmental needs of our society and those of future generations.
But it also undercuts the global fight. The US is one of the greatest polluters on the planet, often ranking in the #1 or #2 spot depending on the specific metrics utilized. By undercutting the ability for the country to cohesively act, we will see the US lag behind in attaining critical climate goals. At best this will leave the US behind as an international pariah, but at worst it will encourage other states to defer from taking action as well. This could lead to a negative feedback loop wherein environmental and climate goals are sabotaged because of a lack of leadership and action by the United States.
Climate change is not going to wait for the political or economic convenience of humanity. It is critical that we take action now to mitigate a disaster that could very well mean the extinction of the human species. Unfortunately, the window of opportunity has closed just a little more in the aftermath of this ruling.
The Climate Action Simulation is a highly interactive, role-playing game for groups to explore the different stakeholders and solutions that need to come together to take action on climate change. It is framed by the En-ROADS simulator, which allows participants to rapidly assess the impacts of different solutions to climate change—like energy supply subsidies, energy efficiency, or land use changes. The game is conducted as a simulated emergency climate summit organized by the United Nations to establish a concrete plan to limit global warming by bringing together government, business, and civil society representatives. This game is a fun format for large groups to explore climate change solutions and see what it would really take to address this global challenge. The Climate Action Simulation was co-developed by Climate Interactive, the MIT Sustainability Initiative, and the UMass Lowell Climate Change Initiative.
If you are interested in simulations and the climate change issue, check out the World Climate Simulation. The World Climate Simulation is a roleplaying exercise of the United Nations climate change negotiations. Through the simulation, participants play the role of country/regional delegates or additional conference attendees such as fossil fuel lobbyists or climate activists. They get to explore the necessary speed and level of action that nations must take to address global climate change. At the heart of the experience is the use of the interactive simulation model C-ROADS, which rapidly analyzes the results of the game play and provides feedback.
Climate change is real and it is impacting people from Florida, to Maine and from South Carolina to California. This article spells out clearly what is happening in parts of Arizona and it will get worse and it will spread. The reality of Climate Refugees is here. I was talking to someone who had come to Florida to visit a friend. He said in Duluth, Minnesota where he lives has a population of 85,000 has about 33,000 homes. A survey found that the reason was partially climate refugees from other parts of the USA. They are short at least 2,000 homes based on current demand. It is a fact of life and the sooner we start doing something, the better.
The under-insulation of homes is a huge problem that has a far-reaching negative impact on climate change and poverty. The North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA) reported that approximately 90% of U.S. single-family homes are under-insulated and are wasting energy and money, as well as decreasing homeowners’ comfort levels. A little over 14% of all energy use in the United States is consumed in homes, and heating and cooling is one of the biggest energy uses in the home. NAIMA estimates that, on average, properly insulating older homes will keep an average of one ton of CO2 out of the atmosphere; this is not a one-time savings but year after year for as long as that house is in use.
So would you like to see how to figure out how well your home is insulated? This tutorial shows clearly one way of calculating the R-Values of any surface and with this knowledge you can decide what you need to do to attack heat and cooling loss in your home or place of business.
With everything going on in the news, it was so easy to miss a major announcement by the Biden Administration last week about renewable Energy. Biden has chosen to activate the Defense Production Act for the purpose of increasing domestic production of clean energy equipment, particularly as it relates to solar energy. Such action could not come soon enough.
As massive heatwaves sweep the nation and many places in the west face a real threat of the loss of hydroelectric sources of electricity production, the dangers of climate change have become far more salient in the day to day lives of millions of Americans. The Department of Defense has long recognized the dangers that climate change would bring for the US, with risks to the electric grid being one among a number of significant problems that must be addressed. One of the biggest threats are the stresses that would be placed upon the electrical grid.
By pushing for a greater degree of production of solar panels and related infrastructure, great steps can be taken to help protect the lives of millions of Americans. Europe saw a loss of over 30,000 people in 2003 during a major heatwave while millions more American’s are living in places at risk for far greater temperatures. A proliferation of renewable energy sources will help mitigate these risks by providing greater electrical capacity for such periods of extreme heat, avoiding the risk of brownouts or rationing. Greater use of renewable energy sources will also reduce the dangers of air pollutants during times of such extreme heat and reduce the number of lives lost by air pollution in the US as well.
In short, this is a welcome step from the administration. But more needs to be done. Renewable energy is a promising source of economic stability and will help make the US truly energy independent. Climate change isn’t waiting for humans to adapt and the sooner we take these critical steps, the better it will be for everyone.
There may still be climate change deniers but the U.S. Army is not one of them. If they have a plan, should each and everyone of us have a plan?
Preparing for climate change often focuses on the steps you can do to mitigate your environmental impact or on what systemic steps will be required to make a meaningful transition away from fossil fuels towards a cleaner energy future. These are important issues, but there is another aspect of climate change that often goes unaddressed that I want to discuss with you all today. How should we prepare for climate disasters?
Natural disasters aren’t anything new. Tornadoes, floods, wildfires, hurricanes, and so many other hazards are an unfortunate part of life. However, climate change is projected to increase both the frequency and intensity of such hazards. This means you might be faced with an unexpected flood or storms far stronger than you have experienced in the past. With this in mind, it is important to take steps to make sure you are safe should one of these hazards strike in your community.
The most important step you can take is to familiarize yourself with what dangerous weather hazards are common in your community. The National Weather Service has many resources that can help one learn about what types of storms or other dangers are common to an area. More importantly, these resources also provide information about how to prepare for such events, what the warning signs might be, and how to protect yourself during and after such an event. I would highly recommend checking out Weather Ready Nation to get more information like this.
In a more immediate sense, it’s also wise to consider what supplies and tools you can have on hand in order to prepare for severe weather. A basic weather radio is a commonly suggested tool for those living in Tornado Alley. It’s also wise to keep a basic cache of essential supplies for times of extreme weather. Bandages, a small store of clean water (jugs are a common choice), some non perishable food, weather proof matches, etc. You never know when you might be out of power or in a bind for a few days, so keeping these basics can really help make a difference.
Lastly, its wise to consider more specialized materials based on the weather hazards you might face. For example, with climate change making hurricanes more severe and frequent, it may be wise to familiarize yourself and your family with hurricane evacuation routes. For those in places prone to tornadoes, practice safety drills may be a good step. Those vulnerable to fire may want to be familiar with their evacuation routes, as with hurricanes, or work on developing a go-back, just in case. Of course, investing in portable solar rechargers for electronics so you can continue to access information is never a bad choice either.
In summary, climate change may make natural hazards more dangerous, but you can still take steps to be prepared. These steps don’t have to come at the cost of personal steps to reduce and recycle either. So keeping these tips in mind can help you both protect the environment, and yourself.