At a recent conference of polar scientists, the Arctic Report Card carried the headline: “Arctic shows no sign of returning to reliably frozen region of recent past decades” and a scientific article by NOAA coined the phrase "New Arctic" and began with the words: Shortly after the beginning of the 21st Century, the Arctic began an environmental transition so extensive that it caught scientists, policymakers, and residents by surprise. The extent and duration of these transitions define the New Arctic, characterized by the lowest winter maximum in sea ice cover on record for 2017, the persistent and record warming of sea surface temperatures across the Arctic, and the downward trend in total ice mass of the Greenland ice sheet, just to name a few.
Let that sink in.
In other news, climate change has been dropped from our national security strategy statement (the defining document concerning what threats we worry about as a nation), the mal-administration now recommends you avoid words like ‘evidence based’ if you want to get money for your project from the CDC, and the Interior Secretary humiliated a senior employee for tweeting about climate. But, as Mr Rogers said "when things go bad, look for the helpers." Please vote in 2018.Read more
The right wing of our political system has achieved its goal of a tax cut for the super rich. Regarding clean energy, the details of the language went from extremely bad to just very bad. Still, understanding the impetus for passing such a destructive piece of legislation is important, and sheds light on the opposition to climate fixes. Could the fervor for tax cuts be due to a distorted idea that the rich are deserving of their good fortune and should be protected from the lazy poor, whose status is their own responsibility? Does that rewind to a religious fundamentalism that classifies us into ‘the elect’ and ‘the damned?’ Does the bill align with a magical belief in ‘trickle down’ economics, just as the same wing of the party discounts science and believes that climate change is a hoax? A party that believes the very function of government is at odds with the best interests of the virtuous rich can only be destructive to democracy. Please vote in 2018.Read more
Boston maintains it reputation for forward thinking environmental leadership by banning plastic shopping bags. Kudos to the city and to the activists who fought for this win. Such environmental leadership is part and parcel of the ‘public trust’ that our governments hold. The legal doctrine underlying this idea is central to a court case, in which a group of high-school students claim that the Federal Government has betrayed the public trust by not ensuring them a livable future. The case goes by the name “Juliana V United States.” This is one to watch, with interesting consequence if the kids prevail. Oh, and by the way, Anheuser-Busch and Pepsi are buying lots of Tesla’s electric trucks. How cool is that? Listen in.Read more
Will the end of net neutrality make climate activism harder? Perhaps- groups like 350 have used the open internet to organize globally. Since the tax bill in Congress is so bad for renewables, last Tuesday’s election of Doug Jones might have real consequences for climate if he can be seated soon. Listen in as we discuss.Read more
Wildfires destroy parts of California, while the 45th president destroys a national monument. Listen in as we discuss.Read more
A report that African Americans are more likely to live in toxic neighborhoods near oil installations is our starting point. This unsettling fact leads us to consider an idea from the IEA recognizing the synergy between fair energy availability and carbon pollution reduction, as well as the concept of a circular economy from a UN document. (See the links for our 2015 discussion of the Next System Project.) Of course, all this is at odds with our capitalist/consumerist dogma. Is capitalism the enemy or the savior of our planet? On a happy note, Tesla has released an electric 18-wheeler that can go 500 miles. Watch out, Peterbilt!Read more
The world made more progress on climate at the ‘23rd Conference of the Parties’ in Bonn, putting some meat on the bones of the Paris Agreement. The US gummint was present and unhelpful, but American cities and states were there in force. As evidence of the ‘sub-national’ efforts to say #WeAreStillIn, the state of Virginia moving to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI.) This is encouraging on many levels. This good news is topped off by a new study showing that in many places of the US, it is long-term cheaper to run renewable wind and solar than it is fossil fuel. That is something to be thankful for! Listen in.Read more
This week, we discuss two significant sleeper issues that will influence climate policy for a long time to come, and a few local initiatives for Massachusetts residents.Read more