The past several months have been full of news about climate change markers (e.g., permafrost and glaciers melting, record-setting heat waves, flooding, crop disruption) that were predicted by climate scientists but were not expected to occur until decades from now. Yet, these events are not eliciting alarm beyond those of us who have already been paying attention. What is it about Western society that is preventing us from taking action?
Epsen Stoknes, a clinical and organizational psychologist from Norway, offers insight into human psychology that outlines barriers to taking action as well as strategies to overcome those barriers.
His first insight is that once people have a basic understanding of the facts about climate change, more facts do nothing to convince most people to change their behavior. Stoknes believes that five (at least) psychological barriers interrupt possible action and that all of these barriers have been purposely triggered by the anti-climate-change movement:
The impact of climate change is at a distance for most Americans. Until there is a direct impact on us or our close family members and friends, we can set climate change outside of our circle of concern.
We are averse to messages of doom and loss. Without an accompanying message of hope and possibility, we feel helpless and shut down our creative abilities.
Much of our lifestyle is complicit in contributing to the problem of climate change, yet we don’t want to feel bad about ourselves or our choices. This creates dissonance, which causes us to downplay our impact.
When we feel fear, guilt or shame, it’s human nature to downplay the cause of those feelings by avoiding, ignoring or engaging in other kinds of denial.
Our social location and identity help to reinforce our beliefs, mores and values. If we take in and adopt information that threatens this sense of who we are and to whom we belong, we risk losing our social position and our identity.
Stoknes then shares strategies to address and dismantle these barriers, including strengthening social ties and community connections, nudging and supporting better behaviors, keeping the messages understandable and pragmatic, using the power of stories, and finding ways to create feedback loops to reinforce preferred climate-friendly behaviors. A few sections of the book are his outlines for new story frames (which did not resonate for me personally), but the book as a whole provides a practical road map for activists who want to have an impact on people’s day-to-day behaviors.
Xtinguish Torch Fest is a community-wide celebration of recovery for the Cuyahoga River–50 years after the river caught fire. That incident played a role in the development and passage of the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Acts and helped to spur the environmental movement overall. We hope all of you will join us. The festivities will take place in downtown Kent on Thursday, June 20, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Music, food, bands, interactive displays, a dragon trash monster, poetry, dedication of a large bronze sculpture near the river, and a passing of the torch from the headwaters through Kent, on to the Falls and then to the mouth of the river in Cleveland. Come and be part of this historic event. See details below:
Juliana v. United States has been working its way thought federal courts since 2015, when it was filed on behalf of 21 children trying to stop the United States from using fossil fuels. The plaintiffs say that fossil fuels are causing climate change, endangering their future, and denying their rights to life, liberty and property. This story was reported by Steve Kroft on the March 3 edition of “60 Minutes.”
Kelsey Juliana, the oldest of the plaintiffs, was 19 when the lawsuit was filed in 2015 in Oregon. Juliana lives in Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, where she has had to deal with droughts and wildfires. She talked on this show about being unable to go outside because the air quality was so bad. She said that scientists have told her it’s bad for health and that the federal government said in its response to the suit that the effects of climate change are already happening, and young people could have to deal with those effects for the long term.
The youngest plaintiff, Levi Drehan, is now in sixth grade and lives with his family on a barrier island in Florida, which is only one mile wide and just barely above sea level. He is afraid he won’t have a house in the future. The other 19 children from 10 states involved in the lawsuit also worry about the effects of climate change on their lives.
While many people did not take the lawsuit very seriously at first, it is still winding its way through the courts, and two motions by the government to delay or dismiss the case have been rejected twice by the U.S. Supreme Court. The plaintiffs have amassed such a huge body of evidence that it will surprise even skeptics and is forcing the government to admit that the crisis is real.
The children are represented by Julia Olsen, an Oregon attorney and director of the nonprofit For Our Children’s Trust. A timeline that goes back 50 years lines the walls of the organization’s office. The timeline shows that for the past 50 years, all government administrations knew about the connection between fossil fuels and climate change and that every president since Lyndon Johnson was aware that fossil fuels were causing climate change. The evidence against the government, said Olsen, totals 36,000 pages and will be used in court. For 50 years, Olsen added, the government was briefed regularly by the national security community and the scientific community about climate change. She noted that government attorneys do not want it to go to trial because they know they will lose, given the evidence that will be presented. Attorneys for the federal government have admitted in court that the government knew the burning of fossil fuels would cause climate change, that the government does not dispute the claim that the planet is in a danger zone because of the effects of climate change, and that the government does not dispute that climate change is a threat to people’s lives and safety. The defendants also admit that human activity, particularly elevated concentrations of greenhouse gasses, is likely the dominant cause of observed warming that has occurred since the mid-1990s and that greenhouse-gases have been at unprecedented levels for at least 2.6 million years-resulting in an unprecedented loss of life, the extinction of many species, an increase in the intensity of hurricanes and severe storms, an increase in precipitation, an increase in the loss of sea ice, and rising sea levels. The government also has acknowledged that the effect of climate change on agriculture will lead to food scarcity.
Olsen said that Juliana v. United States is the easiest case she has ever litigated because she simply is using the government’s own words to prove her case. Olsen said that because the government has failed to protect the country’s air, water, forests and coastlines, the lawsuit is asking the defendants to devise a plan to wean the country off fossil fuels by the middle of this century. In his reporting, Kroft noted that some people say the abandonment of fossil fuels will cause economic disruption, to which Olsen responded, “If we don’t address climate change in this country, economists across the board say that we are in for economic crises we have never seen before.”
Kroft asked Olsen why the federal government was responsible for climate change. Olsen told Kroft the government is to blame because it subsidies the country’s fossil fuel energy systems, allows every aspect of the country’s fossil fuel energy system to exist and allows energy companies to extract fossil fuels from public lands.
Ann Aiken, a federal judge in Eugene, Oregon, denied a motion to dismiss the case, saying that “exercising my reasoned judgment . . . I have no doubt that the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society.” The courts have never before recognized a constitutional right to a stable climate and there is no passage in the constitution that says this, but she believed it was not a stretch. Justice Department briefs have called the lawsuit misguided, unprecedented and unconstitutional. The briefs also argue that energy policy is the legal responsibility of the Congress and the White House and not a single judge and that climate change is a complicated global problem that cannot be solved by the United States alone.
The next oral arguments in the case will be in June in Portland, Oregon. While it is impossible to predict how both storms and lawsuits are likely to end, one environmental attorney notes that courts have been asked the government to do bold things in the past, such as desegregation (Brown v. Board of Education) and that perhaps this case will be similar.
The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate
By Peter Wohlleben
Drawing on groundbreaking new scientific discoveries, Wholleben
tells us about the previous unknown life of trees and their communication abilities.
Much like human families, tree parents live together with their family members,
support them as they grow–sharing nutrients with those trees that are sick or
struggling and creating an ecosystem that mitigates the impact of extremes of
heat or cold for the whole group. Trees in a family or community can live to be
very old. In contrast, solitary trees have a tough time and, in most cases, die
much earlier than those in a group. Wohlleben translates this knowledge into
good forest practices.
Grocery: The Buying and Selling of
Food in America
If you care about why you eat what you
eat, and want to do something about it, you need to read this book that talks
about the growing and marketing of food and its costs to people’s health.
With the noted decline in success of rearing honeybees, many growers and home gardeners have begun to worry about the reliability of counting on honeybees alone for pollination of their crops and gardens. Besides the problems with maintaining hives of honeybees because of loss of habitat, pests and increased use of harmful pesticides, there are several other reasons to look beyond honeybees for adequate pollination of fruits and flowers. Honeybees are good, but not great, pollinators of many flowers. Their time per flower is longer than some bees, and there are bees that carry more pollen per visit than honeybees. Honeybees avoid pollinating members of the nightshade family (Solanaceae), which includes tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and potatoes. Honeybees avoid dim habitats (such as the edge of forests), become disoriented in greenhouses, and take the day off if it rains. Finally, honeybees aren’t fully active until May, although many flowering crops bloom from late March through April. For these reasons, many people are looking for native bee species for crop pollination. Bees that are gentle and easily handled are at the top of the list. Among the best of these native bees for use in Northeast Ohio is the blue orchard bee (Osmia lignaria).
The blue orchard bee (BOB, for short) is a member of the family of mason bees, so named because they lay their eggs in small chambers walled off with mud, just as a mason lays bricks separated by cement. No queen bees here. As with most bee species, these are solitary bees that build individual nests rather than an organized social-colony hive headed by a queen. BOB overwinters in a cocoon, emerging when temperatures reach above 55 degrees Fahrenheit for several consecutive days. The males emerge first, followed in a couple days by the females. The first thing the female BOB does is mate with one or two males. After mating, she spends several days sucking up nectar until her ovaries mature, then she gets down to business of building a nest. She will seek out a nesting site that is a tube-shaped cavity around six inches long and just the right diameter of 5/16 inch. When selecting a nest, the female BOB flies back and forth in front of the hole to make sure she can remember exactly where it is located. She also wants to be sure the correct type of mud–a silt-clay mixture moist enough to be balled up–is in the vicinity to pack into the nest.
building the nest by carrying some mud in her mandibles and packing it at the
back of the nest. Then she forages for pollen and nectar in nearby flowers,
generally within 100 yards of the nest. BOBs prefer Rosaceae–flowers of the
rose family, such as apples, pears, almonds and blackberries. The female BOB can visit as many as 75
flowers in one trip to provision the nest with a mix of pollen and nectar; it
takes about 25 trips to provision one compartment in the nest. She flies from
dawn until dusk, even if it’s windy or drizzly. When the compartment in the
nest is sufficiently provisioned, she lays a fertilized egg and then closes the
compartment with a dollop of mud. Next, she collects pollen and nectar for the
next compartment, lays an egg and closes it off. She builds the nest from the
back to the front but, as she approaches the front of the nest, she lays
unfertilized eggs. Fertilized eggs become females, while unfertilized eggs
become males; the sex ratio in BOBs is two females to three males. When the
nest is complete, she walls it off with a dollop of mud, then begins the
process all over again, seeking a new nesting site and so on. Inside the nest
the eggs hatch. Each larva goes through three molts, then pupates and
overwinters in the cocoon, hatching only when the weather turns from cold to
cool the following spring.
Think about all the flowers the female
BOB visits to complete one compartment of the nest: 75 flowers per trip x 25
trips per compartment = more than 1,800 flower visits, and there are about
eight compartments per nest. And each female BOB builds several nests during
her lifetime, which is only four to eight weeks long. Wow!! BOBs visit more flowers
per minute than honeybees, and they collect more pollen per visit than
honeybees, making them highly efficient, valuable pollinators. They are so
valuable that a cottage industry has sprung up, selling mason bee
“hotels,” which provide the right length and diameter for BOB nests.
But wait, there’s more! You also can buy BOB cocoons and mason bee mud. Mud,
cocoons and “hotels” can then be placed in an orchard or a flower
garden. It has been noted that by encouraging BOBs into an orchard, crop yields
can be noticeably improved. The blue mason bee is active early in the season,
from late March through early June.
Wilson, J.S., & Carril, O.M.
(2016). The Bees in Your Backyard: A Guide to North American Bees. Princeton
University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-16077-1
The acting Environmental Protection Agency administrator and the Trump administration in general continue to support fossil-fuel use and deregulation at the risk of the health and wellness of the people and the planet. Here are some of the actions they have taken:
of Mercury Regulations.
The EPA and the Trump administration have ordered a rollback of mercury
regulations from coal plants. Those regulations have cut mercury emissions from
coal-fired power plants by 85% in the last decade. Environmentalists have
described the regulatory rollback as snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Mercury causes brain damage, learning disabilities, and other health defects in
children and enters the food chain through fish and other items people eat. The
Obama administration projected that mercury restrictions would prevent 130,000
asthma attacks and 11,000 premature deaths in the United States. The rule
change for mercury emissions is in the comment period.
of the Clean Water Act.
The EPA and the Trump administration are attempting to gut the Clean Water Act
by exempting ephemeral streams and wetlands that have no aboveground connection
to larger bodies of water–a move that would leave half or the nation’s
wetlands subject to pollution and destruction. Ohio has already lost 90% of its
wetlands, and the gutting of the Clean Water Act would harm another 50% of what is left. These
intermittent streams, however, are important to the health of the environment.
They filter out pollutants, and the water flows to larger tributaries that
provide drinking water to millions of people. Environmentalists say the
administration’s move favors developers and fails to heed basic science that
shows how these streams and wetlands prevent flooding by absorbing significant
amounts of rainwater and snowmelt that otherwise would reach larger streams and
basic scientific evidence that the streams and wetlands provide habitat for
wildlife and protection from predators. Nationwide, flooding causes $8 billion
in damage every year to property and crops. Agriculture already is largely
exempted from the Clean Water Act (which adds to the problem of algal blooms in
Lake Erie). Industrial rights groups and rural landowners, however, want to
weaken the law further.
Rollbacks. The EPA has proposed rolling back a
regulation to require cutting-edge carbon-capture techniques for new coal
plants to remove what the agency calls “excessive burdens” on the
Up the Coal Industry.
The Trump administration incorrectly blamed the coal industry’s problems on
overregulation aimed at decreasing carbon and mercury emissions and finding
ways to deal with coal-ash disposal issues. The U.S. Energy Information
Administration’s annual energy outlook, however, forecasts a 21% decline in
coal production over the next 20 years–an even steeper decline than expected
two years ago when there was more regulation of the industry. Technology
developments that have led to the shale gas revolution are providing a much
cheaper alternative to coal, and renewables have made faster than expected
technological advances–leaving coal in the dust.
on Natural Gas. The U.S. Gas
Infrastructure Exports Initiative has as its mission to drive sales of American
natural gas by pumping dollars into pipelines and gas-producing facilities
overseas. The organization is a coalition of companies, trade groups, law
firms, a nonprofit think tank, and at least five federal agencies. Launched a year ago,
the organization continues to market liquified natural gas (LNG) as a
“clean” energy source that is clearly in U.S. economic interests. The
organization has funded 13 gas projects in more than 20 countries and generated
more than $1.5 billion in exports. The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (which
describes itself as “an independent agency of the United States
government, established in 1961 to advance economic development and U.S.
commercial interests in developing and middle income countries) is considering
action to fund some of the 40 international gas-related facility proposals it
has received this year as part of its effort to help countries in emerging
markets develop the infrastructure necessary to be long-term recipients of U.S.
LNG exports. The United States has a handful of export terminals now, and plans
call for a dozen more. Environmentalists’ support for LNG as a
“clean” transitional alternative to coal and diesel has eroded
because methane leaks at oil and gas sites are 60% over estimates and because
LNG still emits a significant amount of carbon dioxide. Environmentalists say
it is time to look beyond natural gas to renewables.
States’ Ability to Block Interstate Pipelines. And last but not least for this month, the Trump administration is considering
taking steps to limit the ability of states to block interstate pipelines. This
action is aimed mainly at Northeastern and Midwestern states. New York
successfully blocked an interstate pipeline by denying a water-quality permit.
Pipeline advocates say that states have abused their authority under the Clean
Water Act to block pipelines and that even if Trump tires to use an executive
order to get what he wants, real change may require legislation to alter the
In more hopeful news, the states of
California, New Mexico, New York and Washington have joined conservationists
and tribes to sue coal companies in an attempt to revive former President
Barack Obama’s moratorium on new lease sales for federal lands that hold
billions of tons of coal. The moratorium was issued because coal is a source of
pollution that puts the climate and public health at risk. U.S. District Judge
Brian Morris is expected to issue a ruling in the coming months. The National
Mining Association argues that the moratorium was a voluntary step and that the
Trump administration has the right to end it. Environmentalists want to resume
a sweeping review of the moratorium’s environmental effects.
Also, earlier this year, the U.S. Court
of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the EPA’s delay in
implementing the Chemical Disaster Rule was unlawful. This ruling will expedite
key protections to safeguard the public and first responders from chemical
December 30, 2018; Akron Beacon Journal,
December 7, 2018, December 13, 2018, December 21, 2018, January 22, 2019,
January 26, 2019, January 31, 1019; EarthJustice, October 30, 2018.
When Helen moved from environmentally forward-thinking Boulder,
Colorado, to Kent, she saw no evidence of such consciousness in her new
hometown. That dismay turned to delight when she came across Ruth Meade, Walt
and Nancy Adams, Joan Sturtevant, and Joyce Keller standing by a truck in Acme
Plaza. They were collecting newspapers as part of Kent Environmental Council’s
nascent recycling efforts. She enthusiastically connected with the group,
helping their efforts to clear the Cuyahoga River banks and supporting the
The recycling effort flourished, and a recycling center was built
off Lake Street in Kent, staffed by volunteers. Helen’s first foray into
fundraising began when money was needed to support the fledgling recycling
center. Recognizing that a recycling center might not be of great interest to
many potential donors, Helen conceived and led a fund-raising effort to raise
money for a Kent beautification program that also would provide some funds to
support the recycling center. That effort successfully raised funds to help
beautify entrances to Kent. The eight-year Haymakers Parkway landscaping
project along the State Route 59 bypass netted contributions totaling $70,000
from the community. Helen enlisted the support of her husband, Stanford, to
build an attractive Kent sign at the north entrance to the city on Mantua
Street. That carved wood sign grounded in cement continues to welcome people to
A talented writer, Helen launched a column for KEC in the
Record-Courier titled “Eco-Focus,” which was published regularly for
four years. Her columns covered a wide range of subjects with intriguing titles
Waste not with compost
Try alternatives to
junking junk mail
Thinking ‘green’ good idea
‘Green’ office means
reducing waste stream
It’s time to learn to love
Helen served as chair of KEC in the early 1990s and was member of
the Portage Park District Foundation Board. She also was engaged in other
leadership and service efforts in the community. In 2018, Helen received the
Environmental Conservation Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Portage Park
Helen was a relentlessly positive person, and we will sorely miss
her energy and encouragement.
The Environmental Science and Design Symposium, formerly the Land and Water Symposium, is a multidisciplinary forum that promotes the exchange of ideas related to the resiliency of natural and built systems. This year’s theme, “Complexity of Environmental Legacies”, reflects the challenges of developing sustainable systems in landscapes transformed by decades of modification and contamination. Speakers from a wide range of disciplines (fashion, geology, geography, architecture, and ecology) will address topics related to urban, sustainability, restoration, and the integration of design with biological systems.
All Events in KIVA and Student Center, as indicated below Kent Student Center (On Campus), Kent, OH 44242
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 20, 2019
Keynote Address* Title: Legacy Nutrient Pollution Impacts on Current and Future Environmental Challenges Beth Boyer, Associate Professor of Water Resources, Penn State; Director, Pennsylvania Water Resources Research Center; Assistant Director, Institutes of Energy & the Environment Location: KIVA
Reception Immediately following the address
Reception sponsored by the Cleveland Water Alliance, in the Westfield Insurance Room (204 Kent Student Center) located above the KIVA.
THURSDAY, MARCH 21, 2019
Title: Real gems of the Emerald Necklace: Reflections on a century of land use and nature’s resiliency Jennifer Grieser, Senior Natural Resources Area Manager — Urban Watersheds, Cleveland Metroparks Location: KIVA
Title: Lake Erie Algal Blooms: An Update and Lessons Learned While Seeking Solutions Chris Winslow, Ohio State (Stone Laboratory); Director, Ohio Sea Grant College Program Location: KIVA
Title: Legacy impacts of coal mining on water resources Elizabeth Herndon, Assistant Professor of Geology, Kent State Location: KIVA
Coffee Break in Kent Student Center Ballroom
Title: Waste to Value: Beneficial Uses of Dredged Material for Resilient and Sustainable Built Environment Rui Liu, Assistant Professor of Architecture and Environmental Design, Kent State University. Location: KIVA
11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Title: Closed Loop Fashion Noël Palomo-Lovinski, Associate Professor of Fashion Design & Merchandising, Kent State University Location: KIVA
Title: An interactive platform for community energy empowerment Bess Krietenmeyer, Assistant Professor in Architecture and founder of the Interactive Design and Visualization Lab (IDVL) at Syracuse University Location: KIVA
Lunch (on your own)
Keynote Address* Title: Art, Propaganda, and the Discrediting of Science J Henry Fair, Environmentalist & Fine Art Photographer Location: KIVA
Panel Discussion with Keynote and Symposium Speakers, moderated by Joseph D. Ortiz, Professor of Geology, Kent State University Location: KIVA
Poster Session, Book Signing with J Henry Fair,** Exhibits, Recruiting; with light refreshments Location: Kent State Student Center
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), on her first day as speaker of
the House of Representatives, said that “[Climate change is] the
existential threat of our time. The entire Congress must work to put an end to
the inaction and denial of science that threaten the planet and the future.” She then proceeded to create the Climate
Crisis Committee to help lead the nation to take decisive action on climate
change. While the committee has no subpoena power and cannot write bills,
acknowledgement from a legislative leader that the climate is in crisis and the
announcement that the house will studying the issue are two huge steps.
According to Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), chair of the new panel, “The
Democratic caucus is unified under the belief we have to take bold action on
the climate crisis.” She sees the committee’s job as taking general
concepts of the Green New Deal (a separate effort) and turning them into a real
policy framework and legislative language and eventually law. The name of the
committee is significant, as it will help to remind people about what is at
stake when the committee reports its findings.
We need to contrast Pelosi’s initiative with action of President Donald Trump’s nominee for administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Wheeler, who did not read the landmark federal report on climate change published in late 2018 that the EPA helped put together. Wheeler does not believe the EPA has the authority to regulate carbon emissions in any significant capacity and proudly supports dismantling the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. To read the Environmental Defense Fund’s case against confirming Wheeler as the permanent EPA administrator, click here.
Climate Reality Check: After several years of little growth, global emissions of carbon pollution were up in 2018. In the United States, the Global Carbon Project estimates that from 2017 to 2018, carbon pollution rose by 2.7%. Fossil fuels still account for 81% of energy use worldwide. The use of coal–the biggest carbon emitter–is rising. Even though countries are using more renewable fuels in an attempt to reduce carbon output, emissions from cars and planes are increasing steadily. If you want to know more about why carbon emissions are referred to as greenhouse gasses, click here for a great summary by the Climate Reality Project.
Increased carbon emissions mean warmer temperatures, but
local cold snaps are not proof that climate change is a hoax. Weather is like a
mood and is fleeting. Climate is like a personality and more long-lasting and
spans continents, hemispheres and the planet. The recent climate report from
the EPA points out that “over
climate timescales of multiple decades, however, global temperatures
continue to steadily increase.” The reports cites numerous studies that
show that 90% of the current warming is caused by humans, with no credible
alternative explanation supported by observational evidence.
The report also warns that “warming charged extremes
have become more frequent, intense, widespread or of long duration.” Think
of California’s catastrophic wildfires and heavy rains followed by mudslides
and massive hurricanes, just to name just two examples. The report says that
damaging weather in the United States cost nearly $400 billion from 2015 to the
fall of 2018. Global warming is changing how and where people live and presents
growing challenges to health, quality of life, the economy and national systems
that support the population. Increased air pollution will cause more heart and
lung problems. Diseases from insects and tropical infections will increase. Deaths
from heatwaves and nastier allergies will increase. The flooding of sewage
system can cause the spread of gastrointestinal disease, and droughts in some
regions can cause food shortages. The ice caps in both the Arctic and
Antarctica are melting much faster than expected (including ice the size of
Idaho that was lost during two weeks in February of 2018 in the Arctic). Two
ice basins in the Antarctic are threatened and, if both collapse, sea levels
could rise by 92 feet, submerging communities around the world. Rising seas and
severe storm surges will lower property values and force people to relocate.
And the list goes on….
According to a recent AP poll, disasters influence 75% of
the public’s thinking on climate change. Their observations of natural
disasters and the weather around them have more impact than stories or
statements from leaders. The public increasingly believes that climate change
is real and is caused by human activity or an equal mix of human activity and
natural causes. Only 1 in 10 attribute climate change to natural causes only.
Cities, states and businesses are moving forward and developing plans to cut
carbon emissions rather than rely on the federal government to take action.
Fortunately, businesses are starting to account for estimated climate change
risks in their financial disclosures. Businesses also are starting to take
climate risks more seriously, although companies concerned with short-term
challenges may not be accurately reporting long-term risks to their
investors–sometimes issuing estimates 100 times smaller than the most
conservative scientific estimate.
Climate scientists from the United Nation’s
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predict that a climate catastrophe
just 12 years away, with many ill effects already evident. One can only hope that the 2018
U.S. Climate Report not only will make it more difficult to ease regulations
but also will spur limits on emissions and more investment in research to
develop clean energy technology. The world came together on limiting the
chemicals that were creating the ozone hole in the atmosphere, and the hole is
disappearing. The world must do the same when it comes to halting climate
change. That action cannot come too soon. We have been warned, and we need to
Sources: Akron Beacon Journal, November 24, 2018, December 6, 2018, December 12, 2018, December 13, 2018, January 23, 2019; Record-Courier, November 24, 2018, February 10, 2019; 314Action, January 9, 2019; Time, October 22, 2018; Climate Hawks Vote, January 4, 2019; The Week, January 11, 2019.
This has been a banner year for seeing the effects of
climate change–storms that contain much greater rainfall than if human-induced
global warming were not occurring; triple-digit temperatures in California that
produced the worst wildfires in the state’s history; statistics that show an
increased number of deaths from floods, fires, heat and asthma–all while the
Trump administration is tries to pull out of the Clean Power Plan and lessen
regulations for the benefit of companies in various industries. Thankfully, the
courts are holding some of this back.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency continues to
promote fossil fuels and the companies that produce them while assaulting the
climate and public health with proposals to weaken the requirements for
monitoring and repairing methane leaks from gas and oil wells and setting no
limits on power-sector carbon pollution. Methane is 86% more powerful than
carbon dioxide at trapping heat over the short run, and methane leaks also emit
other volatile organic compounds, including benzene, a well-known
carcinogen–creating risks to the climate and to people’s health. (The EPA is
accepting comments on the Trump administration’s proposal until October 31,
The EPA also has told the outside scientists who advise the
agency on the health impacts of soot that their service is no longer required
and told individuals being interviewed for a new panel to evaluate ground-level
ozone that the panel will not be formed. In addition, the EPA is trying to
weaken the rules for radiation exposure despite past guidance that says any
exposure to harmful radiation is a cancer risk. The EPA is “turning to
scientific outliers who argue that a bit of radiation damage is actually good
for you–like a little bit of sunlight.” So much for scientific input.
Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke is trying to roll
back the protection of public lands and allow uranium mining there while
limiting the ability of native communities to protest and exposing such
communities to the risk of health hazards such as cancer and kidney damage.
At the same time, Congress is seeking to weaken the
Endangered Species Act by turning over to state and local governments many of
the powers now held by federal scientists. Republican Party supporters say the
change will make the act work better and eliminate obstacles to economic
progress. Wildlife advocates call the proposal the wildlife extinctions
Meanwhile, the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals is ordering a ban
on the deadly pesticide chlorpyrifos, saying that the EPA left the chemical on
the market despite extensive scientific evidence that even tiny levels of
exposure can harm babies’ brains. One of the judges on the panel dissented from
the majority ruling, so the EPA could appeal the court’s decision.
And so the battle goes on–the economy versus the
environment, people and animals.
Sources: Akron Beacon Journal,
August 9, 2018; Record-Courier, September 27,
2018; Friends of the Earth, September 18, 2018; Physicians for Social
Responsibility, September 25, 2018.