Friday, September 22, 2017

US cities are leading the climate effort

Absent the Federal Government's support, US cities are moving ahead anyway on climate actions. Thank you, Steve Schliebs in the City of Sedona, for providing these examples:

Moab Ut, “Congratulations, Moab! Your City Council just voted to make you one of the first cities in the nation to run all of its domestic, commercial and government buildings on 100 percent renewable energy. With time, your resolution will help your community cut its total greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent.”

Santa Fe NM, “Mayor Javier Gonzales wants a study of whether Santa Fe can power all municipal facilities with renewable energy by 2025, a step toward sustainability that would build on previous city moves toward carbon-neutrality and reduced energy consumption in coming years."

Boulder Co, " Last night, the Boulder City Council approved a measure to transition to 100 percent clean, renewable electricity by 2030. The Council considered the move as a major step toward reaching the city’s longer-term goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050."

And here’s an article about Solar Ready Roof in the San Jose Mercury News:
“Home and building owners will not be required to install solar panels, but if they choose to do so, their roof will be ready.”

Bergen, NY
BERGEN – A commitment to cut costs and reduce energy consumption has earned the village of Bergen the designation as a Clean Energy Community by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
According to Mayor Anna Marie Barclay, the designation recognizes Bergen’s leadership in reducing energy use, cutting costs and driving clean energy locally.

Marshfield, Wi

Solar Central Wisconsin, a partnership between Mid-State Technical College, the city of Stevens Point, the city of Wisconsin Rapids, and the MREA, helps Wisconsin home and business owners take advantage of lowered prices for solar energy systems.

Kingston, NY
In addition to being a Climate Smart Community and having a climate commission, the city has a Climate Action Plan and was also named a “Clean Energy Community.”

“I think it’s very, very important in this day and time, with the way things are going in the country, that we show support for this because it’s part of the future,” Alderwoman Nina Dawson, D-Ward 4, said of the resolution. “We’re looking ahead.”

Glen Falls, NY
GLENS FALLS — A new electric car charging station scheduled to be installed on Saturday will allow the city to complete its $50,000 grant application for sustainability projects.

The six-bay electric-vehicle charging station is going in at the city’s Park Street parking garage according to Jeff Flagg, a resident who is a member of the special projects committee working on issues to reduce energy costs and help the environment.

Pleasanton, Ca

Pleasanton is one of two cities in Alameda County that has not signed up to participate in the East Bay Community Energy (EBCE) program.
EBCE, a joint powers agreement to operate a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program was established in December by Alameda County. A CCA allows local governments and some special districts to pool (or aggregate) their electricity load in order to purchase and/or develop power on behalf of residents, businesses, and municipal accounts.
Goals of the program are to promote renewable energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and provide energy at a lower rate.

Traverse City, Mi

TRAVERSE CITY — Meeting a self-imposed goal of powering Traverse City's municipal operations with renewable energy by 2020 will require a yardstick of sorts to measure the city's progress.That's one of several tasks on which the city's "Green Team" is working, said team member and SEEDS Executive Director Sarna Salzman. The 14-member advisory board is also considering a strategy to meet that goal, and invited representatives from other Michigan cities that have pursued environmentally friendly approaches since its formation in December; city commissioners created the team at the same time they adopted the renewable energy goal.

Nederland, Co

On Tuesday, the Nederland, Colo., city council unanimously voted to power Nederland with 100% clean, renewable energy by 2025. The vote came shortly after the cities of Orlando, Fla., and Nevada City, Calif., established similar goals last week.

King City, Ca
By Steve Adams, City Manager, King City
The City Council recently took the first step in an effort that could potentially make King City a future leader of local clean energy production. A contract was approved with Pilot Power Group, Inc. to prepare the feasibility and technical analysis needed to determine the likelihood of success of forming the City’s own Congregated Choice Aggregation Program (CCA).

Salem, Or
With the national leadership denying climate science, and the state not moving on a carbon cap, our city council recently took local action to deal with the growing climate crisis. Thank you, Mayor Chuck Bennett and the Salem City Council for voting unanimously to add an Environmental Action Plan to the city goals.

Hanover, NH
Town Manager Julia Griffin on Tuesday said the board’s stance was a natural offshoot of its past support for ambitious renewable-energy goals for the town. The board and residents at this year’s Town Meeting voted to commit Hanover to attaining 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, with all other energy sectors to follow by 2050.

How to make the US more equitable

The United States isn't the most unequal country. (That honor goes to South Africa.) We are #63, bracketed by Russia and Turkmenistan. In comparison, France is #113, Japan is #120, Denmark is #137 and Iceland is #146. While the goal should not be to make everyone have exactly the same amount of money, extreme inequality destabilizes societies. (Remember the French Revolution?) It also contributes to a host of social problems. In the book, The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better,

The [author] argues that there are "pernicious effects that inequality has on societies: eroding trust, increasing anxiety and illness, (and) encouraging excessive consumption".[5] It claims that for each of eleven different health and social problems: physical healthmental healthdrug abuseeducationimprisonmentobesitysocial mobilitytrust and community life, violenceteenage pregnancies, and child well-being, outcomes are significantly worse in more unequal countries, whether rich or poor.[1] The book contains graphs that are available online.[6]

There are a number of reasons why our society has gotten more and more unequal. This link will take you to a report that discusses them and then explains what we must do to rewire our economic system for fairness. You can choose the 2-page overview, executive summary or whole report.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Climate change and the 2017 hurricane season

According to this article, most damage comes from extreme hurricanes (category 4-5) and those appear to be increasing in frequency, with 1/3 of them in the last 14 years.

There have been only 33 Category 5 storms in the Atlantic since hurricane records began in 1851. Twenty-three of them have formed since 1961; 11 in only the last 14 years. Part of that uptick comes from better weather monitoring equipment, like satellites that help us spot hurricanes before they make landfall. But even since we developed satellite technology, there’s been a measurable increase in major storms.

Amazing charts show greenhouse gas emissions by state

Want to know at a glance where your state's greenhouse gases are coming from, and whether they are growing or declining? These World Resources Institute interactive charts make it easy to find out.

Monday, September 18, 2017

How to be a zero waste city

"Zero waste" isn't exactly zero. Even in nature there is a little leakage (like carbon deposits that led to our fossil fuel bonanza). In industry, zero waste is defined as at least 90% diversion from the landfill. More and more cities are establishing zero waste goals. Check out this article that reveals the strategies they use.

Why would cities want to go for zero waste? We are burying millions of dollars of valuable materials. And some of those materials are a real problem for municipal landfills (like lead in old TV screens) which they then have to manage in perpetuity. And there are jobs in recycling. A Circular Economy is the future.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Climate change is giving carbon a bad rap

Carbon is an amazing element, critical to life. But increasing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere are changing our planet. John Elkington suggests we need to change our relationship with carbon and make some distinctions.

But what is "carbon productivity"? It involves generating radically greater economic, social and environmental value from the carbon we use. Architect Bill McDonough nicely frames the new language of carbon, distinguishing between three types:
·         Living carbon: Organic, flowing in biological cycles, providing fresh food, healthy forests and fertile soil; something we want to cultivate and grow.
·         Durable carbon: Locked in stable solids such as coal and limestone or recyclable polymers that are used and reused; ranges from reusable fibres such as paper and cloth to building and infrastructure elements that can last for generations and then be reused
·         Fugitive carbon: Carbon that has ended up somewhere unwanted and can be toxic; includes carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, waste to energy plants, methane leaks, deforestation, much industrial agriculture and urban development

How cities and states are responding to the climate risk

Cities and states in the US aren't waiting for the Federal government to lead on climate change. They are taking matters into their own hands. Here's a quick summary.

A new survey of more than 100 American cities with at least 30,000 people, released exclusively Sunday to NBC News by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, found that nearly two-thirds of the cities are procuring green-fleet vehicles for city use and public transportation.
About two-thirds of the cities have also made commitments to require energy efficiency in all government buildings, and 63 percent have installed public charging stations for electric vehicles. Another 23 percent said they’re considering programs that would result in the installation.
The survey’s results "indicate the desire of cities of all sizes to do more to meet the challenges of clean energy and sustainable development," Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales and Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski said in a joint statement.
 Forget Trump. The U.S. Storms Ahead on Climate Change Like Never Before - NBC News