By Wendy Becktold, Sierra magazine, Jan 10 2019
Humanity’s on the brink, but signs are emerging that we’ll pull back
In 2018, hurricanes, floods, fires, and droughts wreaked a level of destruction on the planet that, according to scientists, is just a taste of what is to come. In October, the International Panel on Climate Change issued a report stating that we have about 12 years to avoid catastrophic climate change. Meanwhile, global greenhouse gas emissions reached a record high in 2018. So is it still reasonable to hope that we can wean ourselves off fossil fuels in time to avert global calamity?
As David Roberts of Vox points out, that’s the wrong question. Climate change is happening now, and lots of change for the worse is already locked into place. But, as Roberts puts it, “we have some choice in how screwed we are.” Climate change isn’t a binary—safe or unsafe, screwed or not screwed—but rather a spectrum. That will remain true no matter how we respond to the task of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, or how severe the weather gets. “Yes, it’s going to get worse,” Roberts writes, “but nobody gets to give up hope or stop fighting.” Exactly right. Here, then, are 10 glimmers of hope that humanity will opt for less screwed over more screwed in 2019. …
read more at Sierra
email from Delaware Riverkeeper Network, 12/13/18
Pennsylvania’s constitution contains an environmental rights amendment, or a Green Amendment—Article 1, Section 27—protecting every Pennsylvanian’s right to pure water, clean air and a healthy environment for both present and future generations.
Since its adoption in 1971, legislators and governors have largely ignored it. In 2013, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, and her team won a watershed legal victory that breathed legal life into the constitutional right of people in the state to a clean and healthy environment. But the battle to fully define and defend the environmental rights of the People of Pennsylvania continues.
It’s time for Pennsylvanians to claim that right.
The Delaware Riverkeeper Network, along with the Better Path Coalition, invite you to join our campaign to tell Harrisburg that it’s time to uphold Article 1, Section 27 and be the climate and environmental champions we need.
Here’s how you can get involved!
Sign and share the online version of our petition right now!
Circulate a paper petition in your community!
Plan to join us in Harrisburg on January 27th (1/27) to learn more about our Pennsylvania Green Amendment and to be part of our call to the legislators that it is time to honor their oath to defend our constitutional right to pure water, clean air and a healthy environment.
Text of sample message in a petition for which signatures are being gathered by PennFuture:
Pennsylvania is the second largest natural gas producing state in the nation. Methane pollution, as well as harmful VOCs from this production, poses a serious risk to our climate and our health.
Thank you for adopting crucial oil and gas pollution standards to control methane, VOCs and other harmful pollutants from new and modified natural gas infrastructure. This action was a significant step in cutting climate-warming methane and harmful air pollution across Pennsylvania.
However, there is still a lot of work to do. While the Trump administration attempts to roll back existing federal methane standards, tens of thousands of existing natural gas wells, compressor stations, and auxiliary infrastructure across Pennsylvania continue to leak methane. A recent analysis from Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) estimated that oil and gas facilities in Pennsylvania emit over 520,000 tons of methane annually. That figure is five times higher than what industry self-reports to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
Regardless of the future of federal methane rollbacks, I implore you to direct DEP to develop a comprehensive rule to directly control methane from existing natural gas sources similar to the standards DEP developed for new and modified sources. Controlling VOCs, while excluding methane, will not fulfill your pledge to protect the environment and public health and curb climate change. By directly targeting methane, DEP would ensure the rule covers as many sources of methane across Pennsylvania as possible.
I urge you to continue your record of taking strong action on this issue by ensuring that DEP proposes a comprehensive rule that targets VOCs and methane from existing natural gas infrastructure.
Citizens’ Climate Lobby, 11/7/18
The elections are over, the people have spoken, and now the Democrats control the House of Representatives. In the following statements, CCL Executive Director Mark Reynolds and CCL VP for Government Affairs Danny Richter provide some perspective on what we can expect in this new political landscape.
Mark Reynolds: “Now that Democrats control the House, there is great potential to move bipartisan legislation to price carbon. I emphasize ‘bipartisan,’ because the only way to enact an effective and enduring solution is to have buy-in from both sides of the aisle. We believe a market-based solution, putting a fee on carbon and returning revenue to households, can find the common ground between Republicans and Democrats. With the IPCC warning that we have little more than a decade to take the ‘unprecedented’ actions needed to avoid the worst outcomes of climate change, we can’t kick the can down an ever-shortening road.”
“We also want to thank Carlos Curbelo for his leadership with the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, and we hope he’ll find a way to continue that leadership on climate change outside of Congress. Curbelo’s defeat, however, does not signal the end of the caucus. We’re confident other Republicans will step up to lead, and the existing and potential members are invested in continuing bipartisan work on climate. To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of the Climate Solutions Caucus are greatly exaggerated.”
Danny Richter: “With Democrats chairing committees, we’re likely to see hearings that provide a robust and constructive dialogue on climate solutions, like the carbon fee and dividend policy recently announced in Canada. We’re also wasting no time getting the ball rolling on legislation to price carbon. On Nov. 13, we’ll send 621 citizen lobbyists to Capitol Hill to generate the bipartisan momentum to move forward with a bill in the 116th Congress and make climate change a bridge issue, not a wedge issue. We’ll continue working on both sides of that bridge.”
Read Mark Reynolds’ further thoughts on the future of the bipartisan Climate Solution Caucus in The Hill
From Dr. James Hansen, long a top climate scientist, formerly at NASA, now at Columbia University, in “Ex-NASA Scientist Dr. James Hansen: We Need to Act Now to Preserve Our Planet for Future Generations, Democracy Now!, 10/10/18, asked by Amy Goodman about the connection of global warming to Hurricane Michael and the recent tsunami in Indonesia:
“…when you add the human-caused increase in sea level to the tsunami, it makes it more damaging. That has been actually apparent on the recent hurricanes hitting the United States. The sea level—global average sea level has gone up by 20 centimeters because of greenhouse warming, which is about 8 inches, but along the coast, eastern coast, of the United States, it’s about twice as much. And when you add that sea level rise to the storm surges, it makes them that much worse.
“And, of course, the warming also increases the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere, increases the rainfall totals. And so, the global warming effect has been making hurricane effects significantly larger. There’s also a recent paper by James Kossin which argues that the speed, the translation speed of these storms, in many cases, has been slowed down, and that in the case of the Houston and the Carolinas hurricanes, they moved slowly, and so the rainfall totals were exceptionally large. And this is attributable—the slowing of the speed, in general, can be related to the global warming….”
read the full interview at Democracy Now!.
Astrobiologist Cyprien Verseux and colleagues showed support to the global mobilization from the ever shrinking ice shelves of Antarctica, marching through below zero temperatures. From “#RiseforClimate: 900+ actions on 7 continents,” 350.org, 9/9/18.
For our less snowy Chester County observance, see “Rally for Climate Justice and Environment, West Chester, 9/8/18.”
As the photo caption notes, Antarctic ice sheets are melting. See “Antarctic ice loss tripled – should we be worried?,” Citizens’ Climate Lobby, 7/3/18. Short answer: yes, very. From that site:
(A rise of less than 1 centimeter in 25 years may not sound like a lot, but we need to remember: 1) 1 vertical centimeter is several horizontal feet in a marsh or estuary; 2) the rise is apt to accelerate as ice becomes water around the globe.