Tag Archives: Sierra Club

New Maps Show How Groundwater Affects Lakes and Rivers

100 years of pumping has reduced stream flows by 50 percent in some areas

by Jason Daley, Sierra magazine, 7/2/19

[N.b.: this is the bottom line of West Chester Green Team’s earlier article “Rain gardens / green infrastructure / Stream Protection Fee“: Our community, county and country need to see that water runoff goes back into the aquifer. Chester County does not have a problem right now, due to lots of rainfall; see much interesting data at Chester County Water Resources Authority. But the point is to be ready for any future droughts by getting our water recharging systems in place, as well as reducing excess runoff and toxic matter flowing into streams. And our municipalities do rely on the aquifer for water for human use, whether directly by pumping or indirectly by drawing water from streams.]

Photo by John_Brueske/iStock

On the surface, it’s pretty obvious how humans have altered lakes and rivers over the past century; dams have turned rivers into strings of reservoirs, the Mississippi River is more or less a concrete-lined sluice, and artificial ponds have proliferated by the thousands. Less apparent, but perhaps just as important, is how tapping into the groundwater systems that underlie the United States has impacted those streams and lakes as well. Now, a new detailed study in the journal Science Advances shows how much groundwater pumping has impacted those water bodies, in some cases reducing their flows by half. …

read more at Sierra magazine

Outdoors for All

By Richard Louv, Sierra magazine, Apr 25 2019 [Louv is the author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder]

A nascent global movement proclaims that access to nature is a human right

A FEW YEARS AGO, pediatrician and clinical scientist Nooshin Razani treated a four-year-old girl whose family had recently fled Yemen and settled in the San Francisco Bay Area. The family had received news the night before that members of the father’s family had been killed in a bombing back home. The child was suffering from anxiety. “I was thinking, ‘I have nothing to give to this little girl. What can I give her?'” Razani says. The typical medical response would be to offer the girl some counseling and, if necessary, medication. Razani decided the patient needed an additional, broader prescription. She asked the girl and her parents if they would like to go to the park with her. “The expression on that child’s face, the yearning for a piece of childhood, was deeply moving,” the doctor recalls.

Razani is the founder of the Center for Nature and Health, which conducts research on the connection between time in nature and health and is the nation’s first nature-based clinic associated with a major health provider, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, California. The clinic collaborates with the East Bay Regional Park District to offer a program called Stay Healthy in Nature Everyday. Participating physicians share local park maps with their patients and offer family nature outings–70 of them so far. Often, the physicians will join the outings. Burned-out doctors need these experiences too, Razani says….

read more at Sierra

Local lawmakers, municipal leaders push for renewable energy

Daily Local News, Apr 2, 2019

WEST WHITELAND—Local lawmakers and municipal leaders found out what it will take to transition to 100 percent renewable energy at PennEnvironment and Sierra Club’s Chester County Ready for 100 program in West Whiteland.

More than 150 Chester County residents explored clean energy and energy efficiency at the expo Saturday, and learned how they can transition their homes to cleaner resources to help reduce carbon footprint.

“I am very pleased to see the current focus on our environment and climate change,” said state Rep. Christina Sappey. “We have a responsibility to next generations to take immediate action to protect and preserve what we’ve done right, correct what we haven’t and implement strategies that get us to 100 percent renewable energy. It’s for these reasons I am honored to do whatever I can to work with our environmental advocacy partners towards this goal.”

The event also featured a panel discussion, “Our Clean Energy Future,” which engaged attendees in a discussion about how to push our communities and the state of Pennsylvania to transition away from dirty fossil fuels. The panel featured local elected officials and energy experts who showcased the existing momentum there is to transition away from dirty fossil fuels and how our community can help.

“Climate change is real,” said Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan. “It is happening, and we do cause it. It is something that as a country we, and frankly, a world, we need to deal with as quickly, as rapidly, and as aggressively as we possibly can.”

Houlahan is a cosponsor of The Climate Solutions Act which calls for 100 percent Renewable Energy by 2035 and sets greenhouse gas emission targets to 80 percent of 1990 levels by 2050….

read more at Daily Local News

Why Are People Finally Believing in Climate Change?

By Mukta Patil, Sierra, Feb 19 2019

A climate communication expert talks bad weather, and young Republicans

A record number of Americans—73 percent—now understand that global warming is happening. About 62 percent of them know that humans are mostly responsible. What is bringing this change in understanding? Is it a generational shift? Or just a whole lot of bad weather?

Anthony Leiserowitz is director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC), which is behind this new data. Along with colleagues from George Mason University, the YPCCC has spent the last decade studying American awareness of climate change and how to shift that awareness. Leiserowitz spoke to Sierra about young Republicans, the weather report, and why it’s easier to explain climate change to a person in India than to a person in the US.

Sierra: The most recent survey that YPCCC has done shows awareness of climate change is at its highest since you started collecting data. What is it about right now that is significant?

Anthony Leiserowitz: The number of Americans who think global warming is happening is at an all-time high. We saw an eight percentage point jump in Americans who were very worried about climate change. That’s a big surge. When you do these kinds of surveys twice a year, you’re used to seeing changes that are one, two, or maybe three percentage points. Very rarely do you see that kind of movement.

Questions like “When will climate change start to harm people in the United States?,” “When will it harm you, your family, your community?”—we saw a big jump in those numbers— much more than “How much will it harm future generations or other plant and animal species?,” which are more distant.

We think that in the end, this big jump from March to December 2018 has a few different things that have sort of converged. One is the extreme, record-setting weather—from Hurricane Michael destroying part of the Panhandle in Florida to the terrible wildfires that went on and on in California.

They still have a long way to go, but the media is beginning to use the words “climate change” when they are reporting those extreme events. That’s crucial, because there have always been fires and floods and droughts. Of course, all disasters cannot be connected to climate change, but many can. As the media begins to make that link for people, it helps solidify in people’s minds that this is happening and it’s not some far away, distant thing—it’s tearing apart communities right here, right now, in the United States.

The other thing that happened was the release of two major scientific reports—the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] special report on what it would take to stay within 1.5 degrees of warming, which is a real wake-up call for the global community, saying that we’ve actually got about 12 years to very seriously bend the curves on our emissions if we are to have any hope of staying below 1.5 degrees. That got a fair amount of press coverage….

read more at Sierra

Make Your Grocery Game Zero-Waste

By Mukta Patil, Sierra Club, Feb 4 2019

Five ways to render grocery shopping easier on the planet—and your wallet

Shopping for groceries can be overwhelming. Once you get past the sheer volume of products staring down from the aisles, you’ve got to reckon with their ingredients, prices, and the way the food is packed. For environmentally conscious shoppers, the latter—excessive packaging and the resulting pollution—is especially irksome. Enter the zero-waste grocery store.

These small-but-budding enterprises are increasingly popping up, and they’re promising plastic-free, packaging-free products ranging from grains and produce to detergent and shampoo. The original zero-waste grocery story was the late in.gredients in Austin, Texas, which unfortunately shut down last April after five years of selling exclusively (un)packaged and locally sourced food. In its wake, however, in.gredients hatched a trend. The similarly modeled Package Free Shop cropped up in Brooklyn in 2017. Vancouver’s Nada opened in June 2018. Nada owner Brianne Miller, a marine biologist, says her zero-waste store and cafe was inspired by her research travels, which made her realize just how widespread plastic pollution was. “We want to inspire a better world by changing the way people shop for groceries,” Miller says. “Through these individual actions, we can reduce food waste and plastic pollution.”…

read more at Sierra Club

Against single-use plastic bags

from Sierra Club., Mass. chapter:

“Regulating the Use of Plastic Checkout Bags:
Background information on laws and bylaws proposing a ban on checkout bags.”

Download pdf here: plastic_bags_massachusetts_2018

Noteworthy quotes:

“…the environmental expense of plastic bags far exceeds the cost retailers are currently paying to provide them….”

“The over 100 billion plastic shopping bags used each year in the United States are made from the estimated equivalent of 439 million gallons of oil….”

Sierra Club Applauds Governor Wolf for Setting Statewide Climate Protection Goals

Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter, January 8, 2019

Harrisburg, P.A.– Governor Wolf signed an executive order today committing Pennsylvania to reducing greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050 from 2005 levels, consistent with the 2015 Paris Climate Accord. The executive order also includes a provision re-establishing the Green Government Council, co-chaired by the Department of General Services, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and the Department of Environmental Protection. The goals of the council are to reduce energy consumption in state government by 21 percent, procure 40 percent of state agency energy use from renewables, and replace 25 percent of the state fleet with electric vehicles by 2025.

Pennsylvania marks, at least, the 17th state to commit to goals consistent with the Paris Climate Accord in the face of inaction on a federal level. After President Trump took office, the United States became the first country to withdraw from the Accord’s climate goals, drawing intense criticism internationally, and from many cities, states, and businesses here at home.

In response, Joanne Kilgour, Chapter Director of the Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter, responded with the following:

“The science is clear – climate change is happening all around us and affecting not only communities across Pennsylvania, but around the world. Governor Wolf’s commitment to serious climate action and reinstating the Green Government Council is a bold statement that signals Pennsylvania is going to do its part to curb climate change, which will cut other dangerous pollution and promote job growth across the state. Already, major cities like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have committed to meeting the Paris climate goals, and communities in Chester and Delaware Counties are leading the way by committing to 100 percent clean energy. Sierra Club is excited to support Governor Wolf in implementing this plan to slash carbon pollution. As an organization, we will continue to work for an energy future that is equitable and powered by 100 percent clean, renewable energy.”

Contact: Emily Pomilio, Sierra Club, (480) 286-0401, emily.pomilio@sierraclub.org
Joanne Kilgour, (412) 965-9973, joanne.kilgour@sierraclub.org
Tom Schuster, (814) 915-4231, tom.schuster@sierraclub.or