Environmental News & Action Items
"I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use our natural resources,
but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob by wasteful use, the generations that come after us."
— Theodore Roosevelt
"The Iroquois Confederation made their decisions based on the welfare of their children
and childrens' children for seven generations. Will our leaders do the same?"
— Joe Hoff, Chairman, Keuka Citizens Against Hydrofracking
In 2000, the following resolution was submitted and passed at the AAUW-NYS Convention:
Environment and Health
- Branches work in coalition with other community groups to become informed on environmental and health issues;
- Branches advocate legislation at the state and local levels to ensure a clean and healthful environment;
- A workshop on environmental and health issues be included periodically at the New York State Convention.
- Submitted by (the late) Judith Wagner and Ann Heidenreich, St. Lawrence County Branch.
The NC 350 Alliance represents the convergence of a number of groups with a long and rich tradition of activism on behalf of sustainability and social justice. Members and constituent groups have been engaged in campaigns against incineration, fracking, and industrial agriculture, and in the promotion of farmers markets, EBT/SNAP access to local foods, sustainable living and alternative energy fairs, school programs on nutrition, and university programs on sustainability, as well as conferences and demonstrations on climate change. We have brought numerous distinguished speakers to our campuses-- among them Bill McKibben, Michael E. Mann, William Blakemore (of ABC), and the anti-fracking activist Deborah Rogers. We have also sponsored town meetings on local agriculture with Congressman Bill Owens and Senator Charles Schumer.
The North Country 350 Alliance will meet at 7:30 pm on every third Tuesday of each month at the Canton UU Church on East Main Street.
Updated: December 13, 2014
- EPA Releases New Energy Star Tool for Homeowners - The updated Energy Star Home Advisor guides the homeowner through a "do-it-yourself" energy assessment to create an Energy Star home profile. Based on the newly created profile, the Home Advisor provides customized, prioritized recommendations for improvements. From these recommendations, users can create their own to-do lists of projects such as adding insulation to the attic or replacing an HVAC air filter.
- 2014 MAY BE THE HOTTEST YEAR ON RECORD - This year is on track to be one of the hottest, if not the hottest, year on record, a U.N. agency reported Wednesday, citing preliminary estimates.
- Obama Wants Kids to Learn About Global Warming - The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy announced it will launch a new initiative aimed at climate education and literacy that will distribute science-based information - in line with the administration's position on the issue - to students, teachers and the broader public.
- Hottest October on Record Puts Planet on Track for Hottest Year Ever - The National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) of U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that the global temperature in October was the hottest on record.
- What the Midterms Mean for the Climate Movement - This election further demonstrated how intertwined the climate is with issues of economic and racial justice. Here's what organizers need to do about it.
- Weather forecasters predict better services for women - Meteorologists from around the world are meeting with women's rights activists and aid workers in Geneva to develop climate and weather services geared specifically to women. Michel Jarraud, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), said progress had been made in improving weather forecasts and climate services to protect lives and livelihoods. "But if we are to help communities cope with long-term climate change and the anticipated increase in hazards like floods and heat waves, then we need to do more to reach out to women with gender-sensitive services," he said.
- Scotland Produced Enough Wind Energy in October to Power Every Home - According to new numbers published by WWF Scotland this week, wind turbines generated enough electricity in October to power 3,045,000 homes in the U.K. - more than enough for all the homes in Scotland.
- How Global Fossil Fuel Dependence Hasn't Changed In 20 Years - Whilst enjoying the good natured exchanges on this blog concerning the pros and cons of new renewable energy sources I decided to dig deeper into the success of Green energy policies to date. Roger Andrews produced this chart the other day and the low carbon energy trends caught my eye. It is important to recall that well over $1,700,000,000,000 ($1.7 trillion) has been spent on installing wind and solar devices in recent years with the sole objective of reducing global CO2 emissions. It transpires that since 1995 low carbon energy sources (nuclear, hydro and other renewables) share of global energy consumption has not changed at all.
- U.N. Panel Warns of Dire Effects From Lack of Action Over Global Warming - The gathering risks of climate change are so profound they could stall or even reverse generations of progress against poverty and hunger if greenhouse emissions continue at a runaway pace, according to a major new United Nations report. Despite rising efforts in many countries to tackle the problem, the overall global situation is growing more acute as developing countries join the West in burning huge amounts of fossil fuels, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said.
- Fossil fuels should be 'phased out by 2100' says IPCC - The unrestricted use of fossil fuels must end soon if the world is to avoid dangerous climate change. That is the central message of a stark new report from the UN-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report says the world faces "severe, pervasive and irreversible" impacts without effective action on carbon.
- 38 federal agencies reveal their vulnerabilities to climate change - and what they're doing about it - The Obama administration will publish a small library's worth of climate change documents, outlining 38 federal agencies' vulnerabilities to global warming and how they will address them -- as well as a separate and even larger set of new government-wide plans to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions and achieve new targets for sustainability.
- Waterways Restored: The Clean Water Act's Impact on 15 American Rivers, Lakes and Bays - A new report from Environment America details successes of the Clean Water Act passed in the United States 42 years ago. 15 rivers, lakes and bays are highlighted. Notably, the Cuyahoga River, which once was so polluted that it actually caught fire, now supports a healthy fishery.
- Why do people put solar on their roofs? Because other people put solar on their roofs - The research, just out in the Journal of Economic Geography, was conducted by Gillingham along with the University of Connecticut's Marcello Graziano. Using data from Connecticut's Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority, which provides incentives for solar installations, they geocoded the location of 3,843 residential solar photovoltaic units in the state between the years 2005 and the end of September 2013, tying each one to a "block group" as designated by the U.S. Census. (In general, a block group is comprised of between 600 and 3,000 people.) They also recorded the date when the initial application for an installation was made.
- Wind and Solar Create More Jobs When They're Locally Owned, Report Finds - From an economic point of view, it turns out that not all renewable energy is created equal. Locally owned projects are more likely to use local labor and materials, and borrow from local banks. One main difference is between energy generators that are locally owned and ones owned by some faraway entity.
- UN climate change report sees risks of irreversible damage - Climate change may have "serious, pervasive and irreversible" impacts on human society and nature, according to a draft U.N. report due for approval this week that says governments still have time to avert the worst.
- Pragmatism on Climate Change Trumps Politics at Local Level Across U.S. - While politicians are increasingly willing to include environmental messages in their campaigns, many at the national level still steer clear of the politically charged topic of climate change. But in communities across the country where the effects are lapping at the doorsteps of residents, pragmatism often trumps politics, and candidates as well as elected officials across the political spectrum are embracing the issue.
- Exxon: Destroying Planet Necessary to Relieve Global Poverty - The fossil-fuel divestment movement has been on a roll lately to the tune of $50 billion, but one of its biggest successes happened last month: The world's most profitable oil company squirmed. ExxonMobil's vice president of public and government affairs published a critique of divestment that concluded by saying that destroying our planet's climate by recklessly extracting and burning fossil fuel reserves is necessary to relieve global poverty.
- A New Perk: Home Solar Panel Discounts - Expanding the notion of corporate benefits, a group of major companies is set to offer employees access to cheaper solar systems for the home. The program, offered through Geostellar, an online marketer of solar systems, will be available to more than 100,000 employees and will include options for their friends and families in the United States and parts of Canada.
- September Was Warmest on Record, NASA Data Shows - Like August before it, September 2014 was the warmest September on record, according to newly updated NASA data. The warm month makes it even more likely that 2014 will become the warmest year on record. This September was about 1.4°F above the 1951-1980 average temperature for the month, data from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) showed. That makes it the warmest September in GISS records, edging out the previous September record set in 2005. GISS records extend back to 1880.
- 50 Counties with Lowest Environmental Hazard Prevalence - Among the 578 U.S. counties with a population of at least 100,000, those with the lowest prevalence of man-made environmental hazards were Deschutes County, Ore. (Bend metro area), Saint Louis County, Minn. (Duluth metro area), St. Lawrence County, N.Y. , Skagit County, Wash. (Mount Vernon-Anacortes metro area north of Seattle), and Snohomish County, Wash., (Seattle metro).
- Sweden Is Now Recycling 99 Percent of Its Trash. Here's How - The Scandinavian nation of Sweden has set a new precedent in the world of recycling its trash, with a near zero waste amount of 99 percent. Sweden was already ahead of the game back in 2012, when they were recycling 96 percent of their trash, but the three percent jump in just two years is quite impressive. They have an aggressive recycling policy, which goes in an order of importance: prevention, reuse, recycling, recycling alternatives, and as a last resort, disposal in landfill. As of 2014, only 1 percent of their waste ends up in a landfill.
- Small Grant Competition to Expand Environmental Education - The Captain Planet Foundation is accepting proposals for grants to give students a chance to make real environmental improvements at their schools or in their communities through hands-on, project-based learning. Schools and nonprofit organizations, whose annual operating budgets are $3 million or less, are eligible to apply for the grants that range in size from $500 to $2,500.
- Ocean Health Gets 'D' Grade in New Global Index - The health of Earth's oceans is still ailing although slightly improved, says the latest edition of the Ocean Health Index, issued this week. It gave the planet's waters a score of "D," saying it could be worse and that conservation and protection measures are having a positive effect. The goal of the study, say its authors, is "to encourage decisions that create a healthier ocean and to track progress toward that goal."
- College Leaders Attend Climate Summit - More than 250 college and university leaders from the across the country have gathered in Boston this week for a Climate Leadership Summit. The focus is to strengthen climate action and sustainability initiatives on campuses.
- U.S. Homeland Security moves to tackle climate change risks - The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is increasingly focusing on threats to infrastructure posed by climate change, such as rising sea levels and floods, Reuters reported. Department officials say they are working on providing tools to help cities become more resilient in the face of these changes.
- Navigating to New Shores - Existing systems of water infrastructure and management in the United States are insufficient for continuing to provide economic and social services, according to a new report from the Wisconsin-based Johnson Foundation at Wingspread. The report outlines the results of a 6-year study of solutions to fresh water challenges in the U.S.
- World Wildlife Fund: Earth Lost 50 Percent of Its Wildlife in the Last 40 Years - The number of wild animals on Earth has halved in the past 40 years, according to a new analysis. Creatures across land, rivers and the seas are being decimated as humans kill them for food in unsustainable numbers, while polluting or destroying their habitats, the research by scientists at WWF and the Zoological Society of London found.
- Scientists Find Extreme Weather Events Fueled by Climate Change - It's hard to say for certain that some extreme weather events were caused by climate change but scientists are pretty confident about the connection in other cases. That's the conclusion of a report released today by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, which included 22 studies by 20 research groups who assessed 16 different weather events that took place in 2013.
The Wilderness Act Turns 50: Celebrating the Great Laws of 1964 - The Wilderness Act legislated compassion toward the planet by insisting that we humans must leave certain lands alone and not take anything more from them. This third great law passed in 1964 made a down payment on giving Earth its due.
- Insurers, After White House Meeting, Emerged Worried About More 'Extreme Weather' Events - Five insurance trade groups are promoting stronger building decisions to help counter a sharp rise in losses from extreme weather, prompted by a meeting on climate change between senior White House officials and industry leaders in June. The groups, whose memberships represent a large share of U.S. insurance companies, released a position statement yesterday that expresses their concern about climbing damage from weather events like hurricanes, floods, downpours and wildfires.
- U.S. Homeland Security Moves to Tackle Climate Change Risks - Protecting the infrastructure of American cities from the effects of climate change is rising on the agenda of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, according to a top agency official. "Increasingly, we've moved not only from a security focus to a resiliency focus," said Caitlin Durkovich, assistant secretary for infrastructure protection at Homeland Security, an agency better known for its fight to curb terrorist threats.
- The North Country was well represented at a historic climate march - Over the weekend, roughly 300,000 people-students, activists, concerned citizens-took to New York City streets to pressure those leaders to be tough on climate change. Organizers called it the People's Climate March. At least 200 people from the North Country were in attendance.
- Governor Cuomo Designates Climate Week from September 22-28 - "The new reality of extreme weather means that we must reimagine our state and nation to be cleaner and more resilient than ever before," Governor Cuomo said. "New York has experienced firsthand the devastating effects of a changing climate, but today I am proud to say that we are building back better and stronger, and doing so with the next major storm in mind. As visitors from across the globe gather in New York City to discuss strategies to meet this unique challenge, I encourage all New Yorkers to join in by observing Climate Week and learning more about how they too can help protect our state and the environment."
- Global Analysis - August 2014 - Last week, meteorologists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that this summer - the months of June, July and August - was the hottest on record for the globe, and that 2014 was on track to break the record for the hottest year, set in 2010.
- De Blasio Orders a Greener City, Setting Goals for Energy Efficiency of Buildings - Pledging to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 from 2005 levels, the de Blasio administration plans to overhaul the energy standards in city buildings. New York would become the largest city in the world to make the commitment, according to the city's leaders.
- Heirs to an Oil Fortune Join the Divestment Movement - The family of John D. Rockefeller, whose legendary wealth was built on oil, plans to rid the $860 million Rockefeller Brothers Fund of investments in companies trading in nonrenewable energy.
- Arctic Sea Ice to Reach Sixth Lowest Extent on Record - As summer draws to a close, the Arctic sea ice melt season is coming to an end. And while the season didn't top 2012's astounding record melt, it has still resulted in what will likely be the sixth lowest September minimum ice extent on record.
- Floods, storms and quakes uproot 22 million in 2013, numbers to rise - Almost 22 million people were forced to flee their homes due to natural disasters last year and the numbers uprooted could increase as urban populations grow, a refugee agency said.
- Companies Warn Investors Climate Change Threatens Their Bottom Line - ThinkProgress has a report on big food companies that are at least thinking about the effects climate change could have on their business models. In March, Mexican restaurant chain Chipotle mentioned in its annual report to investors, filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), the possibility that climate change could threaten its guacamole supply. Following up on that story, reporter Emily Atkin found seven more companies that alerted investors to possible climate impacts to their businesses in their latest SEC reports.
- Largest City in Vermont Now Gets All Its Power From Renewables - The 42,000 people living in Burlington, Vermont can now feel confident that when they turn on their TVs or power up their computers they are using renewable energy. Vermont has a statewide goal of getting 90 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2050, including electricity, heating, and transportation. Christopher Recchia, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Service, told the Associated Press that Burlington's achievement shows that they're able to make this transition cost-effectively and "in a way that makes Vermonters really positioned well for the future."
- Ontario Gets 35% of Energy From Renewables As Coal Plants Shut Down - "Ontario is now the first jurisdiction in North America to fully eliminate coal as a source of electricity generation," a press release from its Ministry of Energy said when Thunder Bay closed.
- Federal Judge Says Idaho "Ag-Gag" Law Raises Serious Constitutional Issues, Allows Lawsuit to Move Forward - Idaho's "ag-gag" law against photographing factory farms and slaughterhouses raises serious constitutional issues that need to be evaluated, a federal district court judge recently ruled. That means the lawsuit by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, ACLU of Idaho, PETA, undercover investigators and others is moving forward.
- Cities Prepare for Warm Climate Without Saying So - With climate change still a political minefield across the nation despite the strong scientific consensus that it's happening, some community leaders have hit upon a way of preparing for the potentially severe local consequences without triggering explosions of partisan warfare: Just change the subject.
- Link to Dr. Stephen Bird's podcat on: Hydro-fracking in New York State: What to do?
- AAUW in the News: Recent presentation at Clarkson on the hype and economics of shale gas development now available on YouTube (Nov. 22, 2011)
- AAUW in the News: The Deborah Rogers "Shale Gas: Panacea or Shell Game?" video is now on-line. (Nov. 21, 2011)
- AAUW in the News: Expert speaks at Clarkson about economic anomalies of hydrofracking
Branch Homepage - Public Policy Issues to Watch