- On behalf of Steve Hollier I’d like to wish all his blog readers a very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous 2020, to the Muslims may God’s peace and blessings be upon you. While I personally believe there is no better gift we can receive than Christ’s sacrifice and promise of life eternal with God in Heaven, that Steve Hollier enjoys now, here is a message of good cheer that I hope will warm everyone’s hearts in the face of the growing concern about climate change. I hope it will encourage you and fight off any thoughts of despair about the state of the world now and in the years to come.
A Louisiana Master Naturalist friend shared this information with me and with their kind permission I’m sharing it further. Though some of this news is about changes in Louisiana, USA, much of it is more global. Please feel free to share it too, if you wish!
Awareness of the climate change crisis is growing, but —
The UN Secretary General, António Guterres, has said that he was disappointed with the
COP 25 talks held in early December 2019 in Madrid. What’s to be done to galvanize action on the climate crisis looming before us?
News media have tended to avoid discussing climate change in America but climate related disasters are hard to avoid in the news these days. However there is a major initiative underway to increase coverage and there are plenty of people who are working hard and effectively to avoid climate catastrophe.
Margaret Sullivan, media columnist for the Washington Post, wrote an 8 Oct 2018 column entitled: “The planet is on a fast path to destruction. The media must cover this like it’s the only story that matters.” This led to the “Covering Climate Now” project, initiated the summer of 2019 by The Guardian, the Columbia Journalism Review, and The Nation. The PBS Newshour, USA Today, and many other news organizations have joined the project, increasing their coverage of the urgency of the climate crisis.
The stories of our cultures – and our emotions – move us to act. Telling the story of the climate change crisis through dance, visual art, and literature has been identified as highly important.
Bill McKibben wrote an article for Grist, 22 Apr 2005: “What the warming world needs now is art, sweet art” (https://grist.org/article/mckibben-imagine/). It’s short, only about 1400 words, and includes the following two sentences: “Art, like religion, is one of the ways we digest what is happening to us, make the sense out of it that proceeds to action.” And, “We can register what is happening with satellites and scientific instruments, but can we register it in our imaginations, the most sensitive of all our devices?”
Some examples of the interaction between art and climate change science include the dance, “On the Nature of Things” by Karole Armitage in collaboration with scientist Paul Ehrlich (https://www.huffpost.com/entry/a-whale-of-a-tale-karole_b_6948330), and websites like https://artistsandclimatechange.com/resources/.
Solutions to the challenges of climate change need to be highlighted. Climate Connections, affiliated with Yale University, has a great approach for this.
They provide daily 90 sec broadcast radio programming and original web-based reporting, commentary, and analysis about solutions to climate change challenges (https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/). My friend is working to get our local public radio station to carry Climate Connection’s free content.
Might your local station be interested too?
How can we finance action on climate change?
Recently, a friend who’s educating himself about this, recommended as a resource the e-learning courses from the UN, such as: “Finding the Money – financing climate action” (https://unccelearn.org/course/view.php?id=77&page=overview).
(I’m going to take the course myself).
You might also be interested in some free courses offered by https://learningfornature.org
Young people like Greta Thunberg are shining examples to inspire us.
TIME 2019 Person of the Year – Greta Thunberg (https://time.com/person-of-the-year-2019-greta-thunberg/). She reminds me of a Viking shield-maiden sailing the Atlantic in search of action to prevent climate crises.
Here are some other good examples:
Forward-looking youth responds to climate challenges
William Kamkwamba, of Malawi, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, designed and built a windmill out of recycled and repurposed components to provide sustainable electric power for his home and to pump water. Due to a severe drought and famine in 2002, his schooling was interrupted. He worked to continue studying independently and began to build the windmill. He had only a drawing of a windmill in a textbook in the library of his elementary school and other basic textbooks for guidance. He’s written a memoir covering the famine, building the windmill, and his successful drive for further education, which was made into a feature film in 2019 (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Kamkwamba, and https://movingwindmills.org/williams-story/)
Fionn Ferreira, from West Cork, Ireland, won the 2018-2019 Google Science Fair Grand Prize for his investigation into removing microplastics from water. This is a real concern because if we don’t clean up our behaviours there’ll soon be more plastic than fish in the oceans.
Project title: An investigation into the removal of microplastics from water using ferrofluids. He suggests the method could be used during wastewater treatment. (See https://www.googlesciencefair.com/projects/2018/2c3f6207b15f46cb4bb66a56095bd6d901ccfa42e7e51600c766df7856590c4e, and https://www.businessinsider.com/microplastics-water-pollution-solution-from-google-2019-8)
Felix Finkbeiner. Felix Finkbeiner of Germany, when he was 9 years old in 2007, founded Plant-for-the-Planet, an international youth organization that campaigns for tree planting across the globe. They’ve planted 13.6 billion trees in more than 130 countries.
Felix was inspired by Wangari Maathai of Kenya, winner of the Nobel peace prize in 2004, who started the Green Belt movement, that planted tens of millions of trees. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felix_Finkbeiner, and https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/environment-and-conservation/2017/11/teenager-track-plant-trillion-trees)
Greta Thunberg. Greta Thunberg, from Stockholm, Sweden, is an impassioned spokesperson for urgent action on the climate change crisis. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greta_Thunberg, and TEDxStockholm talk at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2QxFM9y0tY)
(Source: https://electrek.co/2019/09/20/global-climate-strike-pictures-video/). Worldwide climate strikes were held the 20th and 27th of Sept. 2019, including in Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and New Orleans, Louisiana.
Climate change consequences are taken seriously by many groups such as:
U.S. military: Report on Effects of a Changing Climate to the Department of Defense. Issued January 2019. Excerpt: “The effects of a changing climate are a national security issue with potential impacts to Department of Defense missions, operational plans, and installations. Our 2018 National Defense Strategy prioritizes long-term strategic competition with great power competitors by focusing the Department’s efforts and resources to: 1) build a more lethal force, 2) strengthen alliances and attract new partners, and 3) reform the Department’s processes.” (See https://media.defense.gov/2019/Jan/29/2002084200/-1/-1/1/CLIMATE-CHANGE-REPORT-2019.PDF)
Actuaries: 12th Annual Survey of Emerging Risks, Key Findings. Issued March 2019 by the Casualty Actuarial Society, Canadian Institute of Actuaries, and the Society of Actuaries. (See https://www.soa.org/globalassets/assets/files/resources/research-report/2019/12th-emerging-risk-survey.pdf)
Science academies: statements regarding the status of climate change science to help decision makers needing key information for critical policy decisions. For example, from 2014, Climate Change: Evidence and Causes, an overview from the Royal Society and the US National Academy of Science. (http://www.royalsociety.org/policy/projects/climate-evidence-causes)
Religious leaders: The Vatican. (2015) Encyclical Letter Laudato si’ of the Holy Father Francis “on care for our common home”. (See http://www.w2.vatican.va/content/vatican/en.html)
Solutions to challenges of climate change include:
CenturyLink Technology Center of Excellence in Monroe, LA, which has a Silver LEED certification, opened in 2015. The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification includes a set of rating systems for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings, homes, and neighborhoods.
Photo source: http://news.centurylink.com/CenturyLink-Technology-Center-of-Excellence-achieves-Silver-LEED-certification#assets_131:19188.
Energy efficiency includes production and installation of energy-saving products, and services that reduce energy consumption.
It covers manufacture of ENERGY STAR®-labeled products, and building design and contracting services that provide insulation, improve natural lighting, and reduce overall energy consumption in homes and businesses.
Demand for efficient technology and building upgrades has driven expansion across many traditional industries including construction trades and professional services. Nationally, energy efficiency in 2018 produced the most new jobs of any energy sector. (Source: 2019 U.S. Energy and Employment Report, see https://www.usenergyjobs.org)
In Louisiana in 2018, there were 22,152 jobs in energy efficiency, an increase of 6.3% from 2017. (Source https://www.usenergyjobs.org/2019-state-reports)
- Non-emitting energy generation
Sparta Reuse Facility in West Monroe, LA, which processes wastewater to potable grade water, opened in 2012. A municipal solar farm, largest in Louisiana, is to the left. It provides electricity to the adjacent water treatment plant, and off-sets the electricity used by the facility from other sources. Five million gallons of the water produced is supplied daily to Graphic Packaging’s paper mill. Photo credit: courtesy photo, published in the Monroe News-Star (https://www.thenewsstar.com/story/news/2018/02/15/solar-powers-plant-saving-sparta-aquifer/341935002/).
River Bend Nuclear Station in St. Francisville, West Feliciana Parish. It provides about 10% of the state’s energy demand and has operated since 1986. Photo source: https://www.entergy-nuclear.com/nuclear-sites/river-bend/.
- Agriculture and Forestry practices
Robbie Howard demonstrating his improved soil health after over 18 years of no-till and cover crop practices on his 2900 acre family farm in East Carroll Parish. His average soil organic matter content initially was 0.5%. Now it’s 2.8%, and 3.7% in some places. Photo source: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/newsroom/features/?cid=nrcseprd1369291.
Pine chips feedstock and biochar, produced in a pilot plant of Cool Planet’s facility at the Central Louisiana Regional Port in Alexandria, LA.
Biochar is formed by pyrolysis. Biomass is heated to a high temperature in the absence of oxygen and thermally decomposes. Pyrolysis is potentially “carbon negative”, taking carbon out of the atmosphere.
Biochar used as a soil amendment sequesters carbon and may improve soil performance.
Photo by Jeff Zeringue, published in the magazine Forests & People, Vol. 69, No. 2, Second Quarter 2019, page 4.
Many sportsmen and women, conservation groups, photographers, and others who care deeply about nature support “natural climate solutions” (NCS). These are conservation, restoration, and improved land management, in order to increase carbon storage or avoid greenhouse-gas emissions in landscapes.
(See https://www.nature.org/en-us/what-we-do/our-insights/perspectives/natural-solutions-to-climate-change/ for the Article: Natural Solutions to Climate Change by Justin Adams (2017), and https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/114/44/11645.full.pdf for the article: Natural climate solutions, by Griscom, BW and others, (2017) published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 114 (issue 44): pages 11645-11650)
Photo credit: John Hoffman, Ducks Unlimited, retrieved from https://www.ducks.org/get-involved/ducks-unlimited-youth-programs/ducks-unlimited-ecology-conservation-and-management-certification.
Green infrastructure describes ecological systems acting as living infrastructure, planned and managed primarily for stormwater control (Source: https://www.esf.edu/outreach/gi/documents/Environmental_Finance_Center_Brochure.pdf).
Restoration Park in West Monroe is a restored wetland that also resolved industrial blight. (Source: “West Monroe works to renew Restoration Park”, by Bonnie Bolden, 12 Jan 2019, https://www.apnews.com/b944b8e735174af89119b18b88a1d773) Photo credit: see website for Restoration Park, West Monroe, LA.
Major flooding events of 2016 in Louisiana, and following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, intensified interest in planning for community resilience. A report from the Urban Land Institute to Lafayette’s municipal government emphasized the benefits of incorporating green infrastructure into plans for revitalizing the downtown. (Source: ULI Advisory Services Panel Report, Downtown Lafayette, Louisiana, posted 8 Aug. 2017; download is available at https://americas.uli.org/advisory- service-panels/downtown-lafayette-la-advisory-services-panel/)
- Companies cutting emissions
63% of Fortune 100 companies have clean energy, &/or energy efficiency, or reduced emissions targets, including Walmart, Google, Apple, and Microsoft. (Source: World Wildlife Fund 2017 report, Power Forward 3.0: How the largest U.S. companies are capturing business value while addressing climate change)
Walmart is especially active in decreasing its impact on climate change: (Source: https://www.greenbiz.com/article/open-letter-cop23-walmart-and-wwf )
- Walmart doubled the efficiency of its fleet from 2005 to 2015, and saved $1 billion.
- Walmart’s Project Gigaton incentivizes its suppliers to reduce their emissions, and thereby cut carbon emissions by 2030 by 1 gigaton (1 billion tons).
The green initiative of the award-winning Monroe Transit Service fleet includes hybrid and biodiesel buses as well as increased ridership. (Source: https://monroela.us/government/departments-divisions/transit)
Finally my thanks to http://clipart-library.com/santa-claus-pictures-images.html for the Santa hat and to the Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge for the handsome young Tom turkey model.