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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Electric Vehicles: Scary Myths vs Enticing Reality, PART 2/Sierra Club

In our two-part blog series on the myths of electric vehicles (EVs), we address misleading myths  that persist and counter these misrepresentations with a clearer picture of reality. In the first blog, we debunked myths around the true cost and experience of driving an EV, and the lie -- largely invented by the auto industry -- that the public just isn’t that into these clean, fun cars. In this blog installment, we’ll dive into the positive social impact that zero-emission vehicles have on our society by addressing some of the more harmful mischaracterizations about EVs not being ethical or equitable alternatives to vehicles that emit harmful pollution.

MYTH: “EVs are just as harmful to our climate as vehicles powered by oil”

TRUTH: This myth persists despite the evidence to the contrary. Analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists shows that, no matter where you are in the U.S., charging an EV is far cleaner than driving a gasoline-powered vehicle. Charging an EV has the same emissions as a car with 50 MPG for 75% of U.S. drivers, and the MPG equivalent is higher in regions that have cleaner power grids: 109 MPG in California and 191 MPG in New York.

Thanks to more renewable sources of electricity in the power sector (carbon-based power is down 28 percent since 2007), the average emissions from our plug-in vehicles is declining and will continue to decline over time.

MYTH: “EVs are the main cause of troublesome cobalt mining”

TRUTH: EV battery makers use cobalt, which is largely mined in the conflict-filled region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. About 15 percent comes from so-called “artisanal” mines that exploit child labor. Fortunately, many companies and scientists are focusing on improving the sourcing, re-use, and disposal of EV batteries -- as well as on reducing cobalt use and increasing energy density overall.

Electric cars actually represent a small percentage of the market for mined cobalt, which is largely driven by the demand for laptops, cell phones, airplanes, medical equipment, and military applications (all far more popular than EVs). Regardless of the small role that EVs play in the cobalt market, efforts are underway by companies, policymakers, and scientists to move in a more ethical direction when it comes to EV batteries.

MYTH: “EVs aren’t within reach for disadvantaged communities”

TRUTH: Some hold the belief that zero-emission vehicles aren’t an equitable solution to climate change -- a particularly harmful myth considering that transportation emissions (the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions) disproportionately harm disadvantaged communities.  

The rise of personal EVs alone is not an accurate representation of the scope of EV adoption and the resulting emissions reductions. The rapid acceleration of zero-emission cars, trucks, and buses -- in addition to electric car shares, e-bikes, scooters, walking and bike paths -- expands clean transportation access for diverse communities. The deployment of electric buses and charging infrastructure is on the rise, and historically disadvantaged neighborhoods are being prioritized. State and local policies are beginning to address clean transportation disenfranchisement in meaningful ways, such as California’s Charge Ahead program, Scrap and Replace program, and Oregon’s used EV program.

Electric transit buses are deployed in many cities, with more coming soon to the streets of San Diego, South Florida and Austin. With the majority of transit bus riders being people of color and 55 percent women, 43 percent low-income, 34 percent elderly, and many with a disability -- a swift transition away from buses that run on fossil fuels and toward zero-emission buses is also a strong move for clean transportation justice.

That said, we must continue to make electric mobility even more affordable and accessible to all. The Greenlining Institute has created a terrific toolkit with strong recommendations to achieve this, and the Sierra Club and Plug In America include a few model equity policies in our model EV policy toolkit.

Do electric cars fail our climate and our most vulnerable communities? Only if you cherry-pick data, rely on discredited information, and ignore carbon reductions. EVs can certainly go even further and be even cleaner and more equitable with the help of smart policies and just programs -- but, regardless if analyses are tweaked or projections are ignored, the truth is that electric vehicles offer a significant positive benefit for everyone. That’s why it’s critical we continue to drive a shared, electric mobility future for our planet and the people living on it.

Mary Lunetta is the campaign representative for the Sierra Club's Electric Vehicles Initiative. 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Electric Vehicles: Scary Myths vs Enticing Reality, PART 1/Sierra Club

Great 2-part series from SC. We'll run the second segment next week:

Electric vehicles (EVs) are at the forefront of a transportation revolution, and evidence shows a mass switch to EVs could help clean the air, slow the pace of climate disruption and, over time, end the era of the internal combustion engine. Thankfully, we’re on our way there -- the U.S. just hit the 1 million mark for EVs on the road this month. Nonetheless, skepticism and myths about EVs persist for a variety of reasons. Corporate polluters like the Koch brothers and Big Oil are known to be behind the spread of misinformation about EVs within our media and public policy. It’s no surprise, given that a switch to electric transportation will lead to less oil use and lower profits. In this two-part series, we look at a few of the most frightening myths about EVs, fueled largely by the fossil fuel industry, and counter them with a clearer picture of reality.

MYTH: “EVs are more costly than vehicles run on oil.”

TRUTH: While many people are under the impression that EVs cost more than internal combustion engines (ICE) vehicles, this is largely untrue, especially if you consider the lifetime costs of the vehicles. It is true that many EV models do have higher sticker prices than those for conventional vehicles; however, federal and state tax credits and rebates help offset the costs of buying or leasing an electric car. EVs also have fewer moving parts, leading to reduced maintenance costs and lower “fuel” costs (electricity is cheaper than gasoline or diesel), making total cost of ownership for EVs far less than for ICE vehicles. In some states, EV owners can fuel their vehicles to capacity for less than a dollar. 

Used EVs are actually some of the fastest selling used cars. Oregon's rebate program includes an incentive for used EVs, and other states are expected to follow suit.

As time goes on, electric cars will become even more affordable as production increases and battery costs decrease. But the data is clear: If you buy or lease many models of electric cars rather than ones powered by gas, you will save a significant amount of money while you drive it.

MYTH: “People just aren’t that into electric cars.”

“Trying to force consumers into less-polluting cars is like trying to make a three-year-old eat vegetables,” said Rhett Ricart, a car dealer in Columbus, Ohio, who serves as regulatory chairman for the National Automobile Dealers Association, a trade association that has lobbied hard against incentives for auto fuel efficiency and EV standards.

TRUTH: The demand for EVs is higher than the supply. One in five Americans wants an electric car, and a survey found that 20 percent of Americans said an EV would be the next car they buy -- up from 15 percent in 2017. A Sierra Club survey found that many auto dealerships make it hard for consumers by often having no EVs on a dealer lot or having salespeople poorly trained on them. Also, the industry is barely advertising the EV models.

Despite that, EV sales shattered previous records in September. The U.S. EV market reached a major milestone last month as automakers reached 1,000,000 EV sales.

MYTH: “EVs could leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere.”

TRUTH: Range anxiety -- the fear that a battery will deplete before a driver reaches a charging station -- remains one of the largest barriers to EV adoption. People don’t want to find themselves stranded on the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere as night falls and coyotes begin to howl....

But studies show that range anxiety is overblown. First of all, plug-in hybrids are able to rely on gasoline after their electric mileage runs out on any given long trip. Also, it turns out that about 60 percent of all vehicle trips in the U.S. in 2017 were under six miles, and average trips are under 40 miles -- far less than the electric range of every full-battery EV on the market. Electric school bus pilot programs are underway in several states, and with ranges up to 100 miles, these buses are able to get school children to and from school safely. Many electric transit buses can travel up to 360 miles per charge.

We’ve seen the acceleration of vehicle charging stations nationwide, and more are coming as a result of the Volkswagen settlement. There are now more than 50,000 charging stations in the U.S., not to mention the home charging that many (though not all) EV drivers are able to do. And just this month, Google Maps now shows where you can charge your electric car. 

Just as any movement for a more just and sustainable world faces challenges and growing pains, so does the movement for clean transportation. Despite real obstacles facing our nation’s swift transition from dirty, polluting engines to clean, zero-emission vehicles, it’s essential that consumers, transit riders, and public officials be informed about what is true regarding EVs and what is invented or misrepresented in a way that only serves to slow the transition to a cleaner transportation future for all. Stay tuned for our next blog in this two-part series addressing other EV myths, including those related to the equity of EVs, the ethical issues regarding their batteries, and whether or not EVs are just as harmful to our climate as conventional vehicles are.

Mary Lunetta is the campaign representative for the Sierra Club's Electric Vehicles Initiative. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

CCNY Study Shows Plastic Waste Can Be Converted Into Energy And Fuels/RNN

Plastic waste is flooding our landfills and leaking into the oceans, with potentially disastrous effects. In fact, the World Economic Forum predicts that if current production and waste management trends continue, by 2050 there could be more plastic than fishes in the ocean.
Why is this happening when there are processes and technologies that can effectively recycle, convert to valuable products and extract the imbedded energy from these waste plastics? According to Science Advances, as of 2015, of the 6,300 million tons of plastic waste generated in the United States, only 9 percent has been recycled, 12 percent has been incinerated, with the vast majority – 79 percent – accumulating in landfills or the natural environment.
The Earth Engineering Center (EEC|CCNY) at the Grove School of Engineering of the City College of New York is on a mission to transform plastic waste to energy and fuels.
A recent EEC study titled “The Effects of Non-recycled Plastic (NRP) on Gasification: A Quantitative Assessment,” shows that what we’re disposing of is actually a resource we can use. The study, by Marco J. Castaldi, Professor of chemical engineering Director of Earth System Science and Environmental Engineering and Director of the EEC|CCNY and Demetra Tsiamis Associate Director of the EEC|CCNY, explores how adding NRPs to a chemical recycling technology called gasification – which transforms waste materials into fuels – adds value.
Adding NRPs to the gasification process helps reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while significantly reducing the amount of waste byproduct to landfill – by up to 76 percent.
In the study, published by the American Chemistry Council, the effects of increasing the percentage of non-recycled plastics (NRPs) are measured at Enerkem, a Montreal-based energy company, in collaboration with the City of Edmonton in Alberta, Canada.
“This study demonstrates that because carbon and hydrogen rich plastics have high energy content, there is tremendous potential to use technologies like gasification to convert these materials into fuels, chemicals, and other products. We were fortunate to engage a couple of students and engineers from our team enabling them to learn about this novel process,” said Castaldi.
Tsiamis added: “Plastics have an end of life use that will be turning waste into energy, which is something we all need and use.”

Recycled Plastic for Wood Plastic Composite Lumber is Continuing to Grow/RNN

As always we bring updates on good technology.

GreenMantra Technologies, a rapidly growing clean technology company that produces value-added waxes and polymer additives from recycled plastics, is introducing its Ceranovus additives for wood plastic composite (WPC) lumber at the Deck Expo 2018 this week in Baltimore.
Ceranovus A-Series polymer additives can provide WPC manufacturers with both formulation and operational cost savings. And since they are made from 100 percent recycled plastics, Ceranovus additives increase the recycled content of a finished product, enhancing its sustainability profile.
“We are excited to offer the benefits of these additives to the WPC market,” said Carla Toth, senior vice president, sales and marketing for GreenMantra. “Industry trials combined with third-party testing validate that Ceranovus polymer additives generate value for WPC manufacturers who are seeking to lower overall formulation costs and improve operational efficiency.”
Ceranovus A-Series polymer additives can provide WPC manufacturers with both formulation and operational cost savings. And since they are made from 100 percent recycled plastics, Ceranovus additives increase the recycled content of a finished product, enhancing its sustainability profile.
“We are excited to offer the benefits of these additives to the WPC market,” said Carla Toth, senior vice president, sales and marketing for GreenMantra. “Industry trials combined with third-party testing validate that Ceranovus polymer additives generate value for WPC manufacturers who are seeking to lower overall formulation costs and improve operational efficiency.”
In WPC lumber, Ceranovus polyethylene and polypropylene polymer additives can:
  • increase strength (modulus of rupture) and stiffness (modulus of elasticity)
  • enable formulation flexibility and broader feedstock selection to offset virgin plastics
  • increase the recycled content and sustainability profile of finished products
GreenMantra’s Ceranovus polymer additives are also used in polymer-modified asphalt roofing and roads as well as in rubber compounding, polymer processing and adhesive applications. The company has received numerous awards for its innovative technology, including an R&D100 Gold Award for Green Technology. Its Ceranovus A-Series waxes and polymer additives are certified by SCS Global Services as being made with 100 percent recycled post-consumer plastics.

Climate change? Global warming? What do we call it?

Climate change? Global warming? What do we call it?

Both are accurate, but they mean different things.
You can think of global warming as one type of climate change. The broader term covers changes beyond warmer temperatures, such as shifting rainfall patterns.
President Trump has claimed that scientists stopped referring to global warming and started calling it climate change because “the weather has been so cold” in winter. But the claim is false. Scientists have used both terms for decades.

2.How much is the Earth heating up?

Two degrees is more significant than it sounds.
As of early 2017, the Earth had warmed by roughly 2 degrees Fahrenheit (more than 1 degree Celsius) since 1880, when records began at a global scale. The number may sound low, but as an average over the surface of an entire planet, it is actually high, which explains why much of the world’s land ice is starting to melt and the oceans are rising at an accelerating pace. If greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked, scientists say, the global warming could ultimately exceed 8 degrees Fahrenheit, which would undermine the planet’s capacity to support a large human population.

3.What is the greenhouse effect, and
how does it cause global warming?

We’ve known about it for more than a century. Really.
In the 19th century, scientists discovered that certain gases in the air trap and slow down heat that would otherwise escape to space. Carbon dioxide is a major player; without any of it in the air, the Earth would be a frozen wasteland. The first prediction that the planet would warm as humans released more of the gas was made in 1896. The gas has increased 43 percent above the pre-industrial level so far, and the Earth has warmed by roughly the amount that scientists predicted it would.

4.How do we know humans are responsible
for the increase in carbon dioxide?

This one is nailed down.
Hard evidence, including studies that use radioactivity to distinguish industrial emissions from natural emissions, shows that the extra gas is coming from human activity. Carbon dioxide levels rose and fell naturally in the long-ago past, but those changes took thousands of years. Geologists say that humans are now pumping the gas into the air much faster than nature has ever done.

5.Could natural factors be the cause of the warming?

In theory, they could be. If the sun were to start putting out more radiation, for instance, that would definitely warm the Earth. But scientists have looked carefully at the natural factors known to influence planetary temperature and found that they are not changing nearly enough. The warming is extremely rapid on the geologic time scale, and no other factor can explain it as well as human emissions of greenhouse gases.

6.Why do people deny the science of climate change?

Mostly because of ideology.
Instead of negotiating over climate change policies and trying to make them more market-oriented, some political conservatives have taken the approach of blocking them by trying to undermine the science.
President Trump has sometimes claimed that scientists are engaged in a worldwide hoax to fool the public, or that global warming was invented by China to disable American industry. The climate denialists’ arguments have become so strained that even oil and coal companies have distanced themselves publicly, though some still help to finance the campaigns of politicians who espouse such views.

Monday, October 29, 2018

TerraCycle Recycles Millions Of Cigarette Butts Nationwide/RNN

Good follow up to our interview with Terra Cycle on this program.

Cigarette butts are the world’s most littered item with nearly 4.5 trillion being tossed each year and last year in the United States, it is estimated 1.69 billion pounds of butts ended up as toxic waste.
TerraCycle, the world’s leader in the collection and repurposing of complex waste streams works with cities and municipalities globally to recycle cigarette butts. Since 2012, when TerraCycle launched its first cigarette recycling program, it has collected hundreds of millions of butts around the world. In 2017, in the United States alone, TerraCycle collected tens of millions of cigarette butts from over 50 cities and six-months into 2018, is poised to exceed those numbers.
“TerraCycle develops innovative ways to recycle hard-to-recycle items,” said Tom Szaky, CEO, TerraCycle. “From diapers, to coffee pods, to cigarette butts, we are actively working to reduce the waste that goes to landfill. In the last six years our cigarette recycling program has grown tremendously and has contributed to cities across the country reducing their cigarette litter.”
A combination of organic material and cetyl acetate plastic traditionally render cigarette butts unrecyclable and destined for landfills. However, through the TerraCycle Cigarette Butt Recycling program, individuals and organizations can place the Cigarette Butt Receptacles in high traffic areas, collect the waste and ship it to TerraCycle for recycling into usable material for new products such as shipping pallets, ashtrays and plastic lumber.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Earth Challenge 2020 re-launched at the UN World Data Forum in Dubai

Another giant step forward--together.

April 22, 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. In recognition of this milestone Earth Day Network, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the U.S. Department of State are launching Earth Challenge 2020 as the world's largest coordinated citizen science campaign.
Earth Challenge 2020 will engage millions of global citizens to aggregate and collect more than one billion data points in areas including air quality, water quality, biodiversity, pollution, and human health. Through Earth Challenge 2020, citizen science volunteers will learn about their local conditions, and leverage information to inspire collaborative action and influence policy decisions.
Want to get involved in the Earth Challenge 2020 movement?
  • Submit a research question. Right now, we invite you to help define the critical research questions that will shape Earth Challenge 2020. What essential question have you always wanted answered? What topic would you like to see researched by millions of potential citizen scientists? Tell us before November 22, 2018! Submit your question using the webform or on Twitter (@Earth_Challenge) using #EC2020.
  • Sign up for Earth Challenge 2020 updates. Join our mailing list to learn more about upcoming opportunities to support the challenge.
  • Partner with us. For Earth Challenge 2020 to succeed, we need the expertise and support of companies, organizations, and institutions around the world. Send an email to if you can connect us with resources and outreach to expand our impact. We'd love to work with you.
For more information, visit the Earth Challenge 2020 site or read the latest press release.
Earth Day Network

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Can Vodka Help to Save The Bees?/RNN

Dixie Vodka announced its most recent flavor innovation this week in a regional collaboration with Savannah Bee Company (SBC): Dixie Wildflower Honey Vodka. Dixie’s newest product uses SBC’s Georgia Wildflower Honey infused in Dixie’s award-winning Dixie Southern Vodka, 6x distilled from non-GMO corn. The result is a delicious flavored vodka with a hint of sweetness, perfect on its own or in a variety of classic cocktails. A portion of proceeds from Dixie Wildflower Honey Vodka benefits The Bee Cause Project, which works to support the health of honey bees in the Southeast by increasing the number of hives in the region and helping to educate the public on their importance.
“As the leading homegrown vodka in the region, it’s a key part of our mission that we work with flavors and ingredients that are core to the southeast,” said Matti Anttila, CEO of Grain & Barrel Spirits and founder of Dixie Vodka. “We want to tell a story about where our ingredients are from and who our partners are. Beyond being a delicious, locally sourced ingredient, honey also tells a critical sustainability story for the region. Healthy bee populations are vital to our everyday lives and we hope we can do our part in working with Savannah Bee Company and The Bee Cause Project to help promote positive awareness for the challenges bees face.”
“Savannah Bee Company strives to live as bees live: symbiotically with nature and in a manner that contributes positively to the world around us,” said Ted Dennard, Founder of Savannah Bee Company and The Bee Cause Project. “Our Georgia Wildflower Honey is made from a variety of nectar sources depending on the whimsy of the bees. It’s the perfect all-around honey. Infused with Dixie Vodka it also makes for one fantastic spirit.”
Rolling out this month, Dixie Wildflower Honey Vodka will initially be available in leading retailers, bars and restaurants in South CarolinaGeorgiaFloridaTennessee and Kentucky, before expanding across the region through the holidays.

Climate Change, It May Be Too Late/RNN

We’ve been hit recently with a crazy news cycle with headlines seemingly changing every hour, but, the big one, that is hitting all major news outlets is the one that is giving a “final warning” on the approach of climate change.

The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C was approved by the IPCC on Saturday in Incheon, Republic of Korea. It will be a key scientific input into the Katowice Climate Change Conference in Poland in December, when governments review the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change.

“With more than 6,000 scientific references cited and the dedicated contribution of thousands of expert and government reviewers worldwide, this important report testifies to the breadth and policy relevance of the IPCC,” said Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC.

Ninety-one authors and review editors from 40 countries prepared the IPCC report in response to an invitation from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) when it adopted the Paris Agreement in 2015.

The report’s full name is Global Warming of 1.5°C, an IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty.

“One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes,” said Panmao Zhai, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I.

The report highlights a number of climate change impacts that could be avoided by limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C, or more. For instance, by 2100, global sea level rise would be 10 cm lower with global warming of 1.5°C compared with 2°C. The likelihood of an Arctic Ocean free of sea ice in summer would be once per century with global warming of 1.5°C, compared with at least once per decade with 2°C. Coral reefs would decline by 70-90 percent with global warming of 1.5°C, whereas virtually all (> 99 percent) would be lost with 2°C.

“Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5°C or higher increases the risk associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems,” said Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II.

Limiting global warming would also give people and ecosystems more room to adapt and remain below relevant risk thresholds, added Pörtner. The report also examines pathways available to limit warming to 1.5°C, what it would take to achieve them and what the consequences could be. “The good news is that some of the kinds of actions that would be needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C are already underway around the world, but they would need to accelerate,” said Valerie Masson-Delmotte, Co-Chair of Working Group I.

The report finds that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050. This means that any remaining emissions would need to be balanced by removing CO2 from the air.

“Limiting warming to 1.5°C is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes,” said Jim Skea, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III.

Allowing the global temperature to temporarily exceed or ‘overshoot’ 1.5°C would mean a greater reliance on techniques that remove CO2 from the air to return global temperature to below 1.5°C by 2100. The effectiveness of such techniques are unproven at large scale and some may carry significant risks for sustainable development, the report notes.

“Limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared with 2°C would reduce challenging impacts on ecosystems, human health and well-being, making it easier to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” said Priyardarshi Shukla, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III.

The decisions we make today are critical in ensuring a safe and sustainable world for everyone, both now and in the future, said Debra Roberts, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II.

“This report gives policymakers and practitioners the information they need to make decisions that tackle climate change while considering local context and people’s needs. The next few years are probably the most important in our history,” she said.

The IPCC is the leading world body for assessing the science related to climate change, its impacts and potential future risks, and possible response options.

The report was prepared under the scientific leadership of all three IPCC working groups. Working Group I assesses the physical science basis of climate change; Working Group II addresses impacts, adaptation and vulnerability; and Working Group III deals with the mitigation of climate change.

The Paris Agreement adopted by 195 nations at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in December 2015 included the aim of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change by “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.”

As part of the decision to adopt the Paris Agreement, the IPCC was invited to produce, in 2018, a Special Report on global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways. The IPCC accepted the invitation, adding that the Special Report would look at these issues in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty.

Global Warming of 1.5°C is the first in a series of Special Reports to be produced in the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Cycle. Next year the IPCC will release the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, and Climate Change and Land, which looks at how climate change affects land use.

The Summary for Policymakers (SPM) presents the key findings of the Special Report, based on the assessment of the available scientific, technical and socio-economic literature relevant to global warming of 1.5°C.

The Summary for Policymakers of the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C (SR15) is available at or

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

New Study Shows We’ve Got to Change What We Eat/Earth Day Network

Good follow up to yesterday's report:

With the human population now at 7.6 billion and heading for 9 or 10 billion by midcentury, a new report in the journal Nature asks, how are all these people going to eat?
Their conclusion: Any efforts to keep climate change at acceptable levels can't be successful without a huge reduction in meat consumption. We've got transform our food systems and radically change our dietary habits, and we've got to do it fast.

What will you do? Take our poll.

Current methods of producing, distributing and consuming food are simply not environmentally sustainable. We're damaging our planet and making it less hospitable for human existence.
The Washington Post summed it up this way: "Global warming has typically been linked to the burning of fossil fuels, but food production is a huge and underappreciated factor."
An area equal to North and South America combined is already devoted to livestock or growing feed for animals. That's half the earth's ice-free land. And food demand is increasing fast. Factors like rising income in China mean higher demand for animal protein. The Nature report contends that, without big changes, pressures on environmental systems will increase 50-90 percent by 2050 compared with 2010.
One obvious strategy is to change what we eat. Researchers say meat production, which includes growing livestock and growing food specifically to feed livestock, is an inefficient way to feed people. Moreover, ruminants such as cows are huge producers of methane – a potent greenhouse gas. The report says greenhouse-gas emissions from global food systems could be cut significantly if people reduced meat consumption and followed a diet built around fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes.
This information is not new. For years it has been reported that the emissions caused by the meat industry are a major cause of climate change. "The meat industry creates the same amount of greenhouses gases as all the vehicles in the world," stated the Independent in 2015.

What's different now is that this week's Nature report comes on the heels of the October 8 IPCC report showing just how little time we have to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. We must reduce global greenhouse gas emissions immediately and even more dramatically than we previously thought, because to avoid the worst damage from climate change we must reach net zero emissions by 2050.
Now that we know that meat eating has roughly the same climate impact as driving a dirty gas guzzler, and that if unchecked damage to the environment will most likely thrust humanity into existential crisis by 2050, what will you do?

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

On World Food Day, Take a Holistic Approach to Food Production/Food Bank

Taking a holistic approach to food production includes soil restoration, limited use of water, safer treatment of plants and cutting transportation miles from farm to plate.  And, of course, providing base nourishment for all.

You can help.  Your own diet can better serve your body and planet.

World Food Day is a call for action: how can the TEEBAgriFood framework for fixing the food system inspire you to take part?

Contributing Authors: Emily Payne and Katherine Walla 
October 16 is World Food Day. It can be a day of action, dedicated to tackling hunger and ensuring food security and nutrient-dense diets for everyone. Food should nourish and nurture people, society, and the planet, but in so many ways, the food system is broken.
“Not only have habits changed, but also foods. When was the last time you consumed a potato with the flavor, color, and smell of potatoes? We are not just losing food, we are losing food quality,” says agricultural engineer Dr. Walter Pengue.
Across the world, decreasing soil quality is stripping food of its nutrients: 33 percent of the Earth’s land surface is moderately to highly affected by some type of soil degradation. Food has also become the main driver of human health costs—while almost one-third of all people are undernourished and 815 million people still go to bed hungry, close to 30 percent of all people are overweight or obese and close to 10 percent of all people are actually obese.
And throughout the food system, businesses, farms, and consumers are losing perfectly edible food—approximately one-third of all food produced is thrown away. If food waste were a country, it would rank as the third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the United States.
How do we start on the path towards a more sustainable food system? The answer is in the connections between all these systems.
“The current economic systems do not include or reward the value of social, human, and natural capital in agriculture and food systems. This often leads to the promotion of practices that are harmful to farming, the environment, and people,” says agricultural scientist Dr. Harpinder Sandhu, who helped develop and write a recent report by The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Agriculture & Food, or TEEBAgriFood.
TEEBAgriFood’s new report presents a holistic new framework, which looks at the full range of impacts of the food value chain from a systems perspective—from farm to fork to disposal.
This evaluation framework can support policymakers, researchers, and businesses in making better-informed decisions—decisions that will improve public health, regenerate soils, and nurture people and the planet. TEEBAgriFood recently won the World Future Council’s 2018 Future Policy Award in Vision for this comprehensive framework.
“The only measure of success in current agriculture systems is higher productivity. But such a narrow focus on productivity has left our freshwaters more polluted as there are increases in surface run-offs from farms, loss of biodiversity, degradation of soil, and greenhouse gas emissions,” Dr. Harpinder continues. “This focus also leads to poor health for the farm workers, and consumers as well.”

The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) is applying the framework to two different corn systems in the Mississippi Valley—one organic and one conventional—to detect the positive and negative environmental, biodiversity, and climate impacts of both those systems. How can TEEBAgriFood’s holistic framework support your work towards a more sustainable food system for all? Share your thoughts, questions, and feedback in the comments.


Now we will start to get people to pay attention to our fight to balance the environment and economy:

BEER DRINKERS MIGHT pay more and find less of their favorite beverage as climate change comes for barley. Scientists expect that extreme droughts and heat waves will become more frequent and intense in the regions that grow the grain.
Many farmers are already adapting to the slowly warming planet—with advanced plant breeding techniques to create more drought-resistant grains, for example, and by using more efficient irrigation systems to conserve water—but a new study out today in the journal Nature Plants says that many regions won’t be able to cope with the arid conditions of the future. The work was done by a group of researchers in China along with Steven J. Davis, an environmental scientist at the University of California Irvine.
The team looked at the areas around the world that grow barley, which is turned into malt for beer, and projected what will occur under five different climate warming scenarios by 2100. Using models of both economic activity and climate change, the group made predictions about what will happen to barley production, as well as beer price and consumption.
During the most severe climate events, the study predicts that global beer consumption would decline by 16 percent, an amount about equal to the total annual beer consumption of the United States in 2011. It also expects average beer prices to double. Each country would be affected differently. The price of a single pint of beer in Ireland, for example, will rise by $4.84, followed by $4.52 in Italy and $4.34 in Canada. American tipplers will see beer prices rise up to $1.94 under the extreme events, the study said, and barley farmers will export more to other nations.
Davis, who has published several papers on climate change and the Chinese economy, says many extreme drought and heat events will force farmers to feed barley to livestock instead of selling it to domestic breweries. “When we have these shortages, our models suggest people are going to feed the barley to the livestock before they make beer,” Davis said. “That makes sense. This is a luxury commodity and it’s more important to have food on the table.”
The effects of climate change are already being felt by craft brewers, says Katie Wallace, director of social and environmental responsibility at New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado. In 2014, the US barley-growing region—Montana, North Dakota and Idaho—was hit by an extremely wet and warm winter that caused crops to sprout early, rendering much of it useless. Farmers were forced to tap into reserves in storage.
In 2017 and again this past summer, the Pacific Northwest was hit by severe drought that affected production of hops that give unique flavors to craft brews. Wallace says that climate change is on the minds of all craft brewers as they plan for how to avoid future shortages of both barley and hops. “Its stressful,” Newman said. “We are seeing an increased level of vulnerability and some near escapes in some cases. All of these things have happened periodically, but the frequency is growing.”
The craft beer industry is already planning for the future, says Chris Swersey, a supply chain specialist at the Brewer’s Association, a trade group that represents 4,500 small breweries across the country. Swersey says he is skeptical of the paper’s findings, mainly because it assumes that the amount and location of barley production will stay the same as it is today. He says barley growing is already moving north to Canada, while researchers are hoping to expand barley's range with winter-hardy breeds.
“The industry is already aware that barley production is shifting,” Swersey says. “We need to be thinking ahead and be smart about what is our climate going to look like 50 or 100 years from now.”
It’s not just the little guys who are thinking of climate change. The king of US beer production remains Budweiser, which produces the number 1 (Bud Light) and number 3 (Budweiser) top-selling brands. Budweiser buys barley from a vast network of farmers in the northern US and is investing in new breeds of drought-resistant barley strains, according to Jessica Newman, director of agronomy for Budweiser. “It’s all about getting the right varieties, getting the right mix, and getting the right technology to our growers,” Newman says from her office in Idaho Falls, Idaho.
She says Budweiser’s crop science lab in Colorado is working on new barley strains dubbed Voyager, Merit 57 and Growler. “We are breeding for drought resistance and sprout resistance,” Newman said. “If we see rainfall coming earlier, or if it rains in the wrong time of year, the barley can sprout and it wouldn’t be used. We also want it to use less water and fewer agricultural chemicals.”
Climate scientist Davis says he and his colleagues wrote the study as a thought exercise to perhaps stoke conversation about how climate change affects our daily lives. “A paper on beer might seem a little bit frivolous when it's dealing with a topic that poses existential threats,” Davis said. “But some of us have a personal love of beer and thought this might be interesting.” Climate change won’t just alter the weather; it’ll also hit our grocery tabs and hobbies.

Friday, October 12, 2018

National Drive Electric Week Shatters Records 8th Year in Row/Sierra Cllub

Can we all drive EV's?  No. The current charging infrastructure does not support it.  But, we can commit to using a combination of EV's and hybrids for our driving needs. Here we see records shattered for National Electric Weeks.

NDEW event in Watts

In its eighth annual celebration, National Drive Electric Week (NDEW) broke every record, with more than 180,000 people attending 321 events in three nations and all 50 states.
The huge popularity of this year’s Drive Electric Week across the nation again proves that people from all communities are excited about zero-emission transportation. And why wouldn’t they be? Electric vehicles are fun to ride, easy to maintain and operate, more affordable than gas-powered vehicles, and far better for our climate. Electric-vehicle adoption is also a great way to resist the Trump administration’s rollback of our nation’s major climate protections.
Pastor Dozier talks to KTLA-TV at the NDEW event in Watts, California. Photo by Cory Burns.
"I came to Drive Electric Week last year, which inspired me to buy myself a Nissan LEAF. I am excited to come again to give others a ride in it and inspire them to make a cleaner, greener choice." – Ali K. of Houston, Texas
The biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions -- the main cause of climate change -- comes from transportation, mainly our cars, trucks, and buses. As more drivers, transit agencies, school districts, business leaders, and public officials have a chance to see for themselves the variety of zero-emission vehicles and the many rebates and incentives available, they make the switch to electric.
“I am a paraplegic and the BMW i3 has easy access for a disabled driver. My car is equipped with hand controls, which makes my car unique!” – Henry W. of Houston, Texas
NDEW events are getting bigger and better -- Vermont governor Phil Scott announced the state’s $2.4 million Electric Vehicle Charging Station Grant Program, funded by the Volkswagen settlement that resulted from the automaker’s diesel emissions cheating scandal. Governors Murphy of New Jersey and Sununu of New Hampshire also recognized Drive Electric Week in their states. Andrea Friedman from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection attended the event at Egg Harbor Township and shared information about the state’s new grant program that provides up to $6,000 for EV chargers at workplaces and multifamily dwellings. The governors of Washington State and Connecticut also issued proclamations declaring Sept 8-16 Drive Electric Week in their states.
Retailer L.L. Bean announced plans to host the largest number of charging stations in Maine at its flagship store, and California Governor Brown signed multiple bills to reinforce the state’s fight against climate change and boost the state’s electric vehicle market, particularly among low-income Californians.
In Pittsburgh (event pictured above), Duquesne Light announced at an event that it would be partnering with the Pittsburgh Parking Authority to install eight new charging stations in downtown garages; and Utica, New York had its first event that included a ribbon-cutting ceremony at City Hall for a newly installed EV charging station. Public EV charging installations boost EV adoption because they make it easier for drivers to plug-in while on the go or running errands.
Dozens of mayors attended events in their towns, including San Diego, San Luis Obispo, and Mammoth Lakes, CA; Erie, PA; West Hartford and Hamden, CT; Bellevue and Steilacoom, WA; and Annapolis, Hyattsville, and Poolesville in Maryland -- just to name a few.
“Electric vehicles are being built in 20 states, including Alabama, and the EV industry creates thousands of well-paying jobs in our state and country and reduces our dependence on oil,” said Mark Bentley, executive director of the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition, who attended the event in Birmingham.
Representatives from Juneau, Alaska, were excited to participate in Drive Electric Week this year as the city recently received a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the purchase of an electric transit bus. The city also issued a National Drive Electric Week proclamation and displayed ones of Alaska’s first electric boats.
NDEW event in Santa Cruz
The NDEW event in Santa Cruz, California. Credit to Ecology Action.
The event in San Francisco on Pier 27 was the exclusive ride and drive event of the Global Climate Action Summit, where hundreds of summit delegates and members of the public test-drove several EV models and checked out an e-Lion electric school bus.
“The Hamden event was amazing. I am now convinced going electric is the only option for me. It was extremely informative to speak with actual owners. Their enthusiasm for their cars was tremendous, and they were so willing to share their experiences and advice, taking you out in their own cars to get a feel for the performance. I hope many people were convinced to go electric. I know I was. Thank you!" – Lisa M. in Connecticut
The event in Wilsonville, Oregon, focused on the affordability of electric vehicles, with a local dealership providing test drives on pre-owned vehicles like the Nissan LEAF, Kia Soul EV, and Chevy Spark. Mayor Tim Knapp addressed the crowd, which had a chance to attend a Q&A session on the state’s EV rebate program, including the Charge Ahead program for pre-owned vehicles. With state and federal incentives combined, Oregonians can save up to an impressive $12,500 on the purchase or lease of a new electric vehicle.

The Atlanta event was organized by community group EV Hybrid Noire, which is committed to increasing opportunities for engagement with and connecting diverse communities to EV adoption. Their event featured a proclamation of Drive Electric Week by Mayor Keisha Bottoms, and councilmember Michael Bond spoke to the crowd about the importance of zero-emission vehicle adoption among communities of color.
"We're glad to support Western New York Drive Electric's efforts to build awareness and excitement for electric vehicles. Switching to electric vehicles is a key part of a just and equitable transition to a 100 percent clean renewable energy future," said Sara Schultz, chair of Sierra Club Niagara Group at the Orchard Park event.
At a time when just about every environmental protection is under attack at the federal level, we can be inspired by the increasing momentum of the clean transportation movement across the nation. Powerful and exciting efforts are underway to bring zero-emission transportation to our communities at the state and local level -- from transit and school buses to motorcycles and light-duty personal vehicles. Eight years of successful Drive Electric Weeks have shown that the future is electric -- and that future is much closer than most people think.