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We need a plan.

New Jersey doesn’t have a plan for keeping our people safe, our economy strong, and our businesses thriving when the next Sandy hits.

Every state around us does, or at least is far ahead of us.

There’s boatloads of good work going on in towns and counties, but nothing on the coordinated, resource-efficient State level.

Why not? I’d like to ask Governor Christie about the role that Climate Change plays in our hot summers, destructive storms, and rising sea levels. (I believe he’s a smart man and knows perfectly well the risks facing our state.)

Chris Sturm from New Jersey Future wrote this great Sept. 23 editorial for NJ Spotlight. She lays out what NJ is missing and what our neighbors are doing to plan for Climate Change in general, and sea-level rise in particular.

Via njspotlight:

Opinion: It’s time to connect the dots between rising sea levels and rebuilding

In contrast, neighboring state governments offer tools and guidance to their communities to help them protect constituents from sea level rise and other climate impacts. New York State’s Reconstruction Rising offers $25 million in grants and a toolkit for assessing sea-level rise out to the year 2100. Connecticut has released a Climate Preparedness Plan and is creating a climate resiliency research center to help coastal communities. To the south, Delaware has assessed its vulnerability to climate change and offers its communities free climate preparedness training, while Maryland’s initiatives include new sea level rise projections to help decisionmakers plan.

I wrote back in May that the NJ Climate Change Adaptation Alliance has stepped up to fill the leadership and coordination role that I feel the Governor and the NJ DEP should be doing.

This alliance of NJ-focused planning, development, and conservation groups are working together to create a climate change adaptation plan for New Jersey.

There’s lots of strong science, experienced planning and top-notch engineering happening that we can apply to our state’s needs.

I care about our state, and want our State Leaders to take the actions needed to prove they do too.

 

Links for Climate Change Adaptation plans around the country:

Resilience and Climate Change (Via dailykos.com)

NOAA’s Coastal Climate Adapation Plans

 

 

What would you do if your doctor was 95% sure you had a serious illness?

How about if a whole room of doctors said it?

You’d take care of it.

Via the European Commission:

What would you do if your doctor was 95% sure you had a serious illness?

”The issue is not whether to believe in climate change or not.

The issue is whether to follow science or not.

The day when all scientists with 100% certainty warn you against climate change, it will be too late.

If your doctor was 95% sure you had a serious disease, you would immediately start looking for the cure. Why should we take bigger risks when it’s the health of our planet at stake?

The new IPCC report says that climate change is occurring and that is at least 95% certainty that human activities are the principal cause.

OK, got it.

Let’s dig into that 95% number. Seems like there’s some wiggle room there.

But not really. When a scientist says this, he or she is being as precise as possible.

Via AP:

What 95% certainty of warming means to scientists

But in science, 95 percent certainty is often considered the gold standard for certainty.

Let’s put it into some context. Say, the sun.

 “Will the sun come up in the morning?” Scientists know the answer is yes, but they can’t really say so with 100 percent certainty because there are so many factors out there that are not quite understood or under control.

And why is this OK? Because we don’t demand absolute proof on other things before taking steps to mitigate risk. Like car insurance.

George Gray, director of the Center for Risk Science and Public Health at George Washington University, said that demanding absolute proof on things such as climate doesn’t make sense.

“There’s a group of people who seem to think that when scientists say they are uncertain, we shouldn’t do anything,” said Gray, who was chief scientist for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency during the George W. Bush administration. “That’s crazy. We’re uncertain and we buy insurance.”

Give it to me in a more-and-less:

The Associated Press asked scientists who specialize in climate, physics, epidemiology, public health, statistics and risk just what in science is more certain than human-caused climate change, what is about the same, and what is less.

Gravity?

They said gravity is a good example of something more certain than climate change. Climate change “is not as sure as if you drop a stone it will hit the Earth,” Princeton University climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer said. “It’s not certain, but it’s close.”

The age of the universe?

Arizona State University physicist Lawrence Krauss said the 95 percent quoted for climate change is equivalent to the current certainty among physicists that the universe is 13.8 billion years old.

That cigarettes are bad for you?

The president of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, Ralph Cicerone, and more than a dozen other scientists contacted by the AP said the 95 percent certainty regarding climate change is most similar to the confidence scientists have in the decades’ worth of evidence that cigarettes are deadly.

The 95% is solid. Continuing to nitpick is just wasting time.

 

This happened.

http://www.ipcc.ch/

With all the flurry about it, there’s really only 10 words you need to know.

Via Dr. Anthony Leiserowitz  of the Yale Climate Project:

It’s real.

It’s us.

It’s bad.

Scientists agree.

There’s hope.

Let’s get on with it already.

 

Just when you think you’ve got a system, life throws you a curve ball.

Here’s Part 6 of my co-authored series on Sustainability Metrics Pitfalls for Greenbiz.com.

We dive into how Sabremetrics has changed the business of baseball, and come up with practical resources for Sustainability practitioners to keep their eye on the ball.

What “Moneyball” can teach us about sustainability metrics

One theme of this article (and to a degree, the entire series) is to consider what you’re not measuring and the possible relevance to sustainability. Other than the education field, probably nothing shows this more starkly than sports.

So, how’d it go?

Yesterday, new EPA administrator Gina McCarthy and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Ernest Moniz appeared before a House Subcommittee on Energy and Power.

The topic: President Obama’s climate change policies.

Here’s what she said:

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy Testimony Before House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power

Chairman Whitfield, Ranking Member Rush, members of the Committee: Thank you for the opportunity to testify today.

In June, the President reaffirmed his commitment to reducing carbon pollution when he directed many federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, to take meaningful steps to mitigate the current and future damage caused by carbon dioxide emissions and to prepare for the anticipated climate changes that have already been set in motion.

How come? Because:

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Based on the evidence, more than 97% of climate scientists are convinced that human caused climate change is occurring. If our changing climate goes unchecked, it will have devastating impacts on the United States and the planet. Reducing carbon pollution is critically important to the protection of Americans’ health and the environment upon which our economy depends.

Fair enough.

And here’s a snip from Secretary Moniz’ prepared testimony.

The threat of a warming planet to our communities, our infrastructure and our way of life is also clear. Rising sea levels and increasingly severe droughts, heat waves, wildfires, and major storms are already costing our economy billions of dollars a year and these impacts are only going to grow more severe. Common sense demands that we take action.

How did the Sub-Committee members like it? Pretty good.

Via The Guardian.com:

Obama climate change plan gets first airing in front of House sceptics

EPA asserted authority to move forward without new laws from Congress at hearing where contrarian views were on display

There was some climate skepticism. Some explaining of science.

And some outright factual falsehoods. Worth the click to see regular people wearing tinfoil hats.

Via thinkprogress.org:

The Five Craziest Arguments at Yesterday’s Climate Hearing

Here are the five oddest things Administrator McCarthy and Secretary Moniz heard from House Republicans at Wednesday’s hearing.

The upshot? Tomorrow, Administrator McCarthy will present the EPA’s next steps to reduce carbon pollution and climate change impacts. She’s expected to announce curbs on new power plant emissions.

Via EPA.gov:

FRIDAY: EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy Speaks at National Press Club Sept. 20

WASHINGTON – EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy will discuss EPA’s priorities in addressing climate change at a National Press Club Speakers’ event on Friday, Sept. 20 at 9 a.m. Administrator McCarthy will highlight the Administration’s commitment to carrying out President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to reduce carbon pollution and address the impacts of a changing climate. She will also discuss her vision for the EPA and challenges the Agency will face going forward.

Yes. Please.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Ernest Moniz will testify before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. EDT at a hearing to discuss President Obama’s climate change policies.

Why does this matter?

Because:

a) This discussion has been a long time coming. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives hasn’t wanted to talk about it.

b) High-ranking Congresspeople who are on record as denying Climate Change will likely, once again, deny that human-caused Climate Change is a problem for our country and the world. That is good, overall. Sunlight disinfects.

So why now?

c) President Obama is set to announce a new EPA Carbon Pollution Standard on Friday. Without Congress’ help. This ruling will limit greenhouse gas emissions from newly built power plants.

So what are we going to do about Climate Change?

We’re going to tell the truth about it. Until people hear it. And then join us in doing something about it.

I’m hearing a lot more truth-telling. Calling out of deniers. Naming names.

Three recent links.

1) Bill McKibben and 350.org. This Salon interview about his Climate Change activism captures some of what I’m feeling.

Via Salon.com:

Bill McKibben: “Being green won’t solve the problem”

But this [Climate Change] is a systemic problem. It’s going to be solved or not solved by a systemic solution. It’s past the point where we’re going to manage to do it one light bulb at a time.

Right. Climate Change is a systemic, global, planetary, issue. Not one or a million of our individual dollars or works will solve it.

Including business.

2) The Guardian newspaper has been knocking it out of the park with dead-on Climate Change coverage. Last week, journalist Jo Cofino covered the Carbon Disclosure Project’s surprising move to call out the names of blue-chip non-reporters. See, CDP can only report on global emissions if the business world give them the information. And if they won’t, how can we know if they are really doing what they say they are doing?

Via TheGuardian.com:

Shame on you, Apple, Facebook and Amazon

There comes a time when naming and shaming is the only way to get some businesses to start taking their responsibilities seriously.

This is why CDP, the respected global NGO, has for the first time compiled and published a list of major companies around the world that are refusing to disclose details of their carbon emissions.

In the US, that includes household names such as Apple, Facebook, Amazon.com, Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Caterpillar and General Dynamics.

Shame on all of you and the other 90 of the 500 largest listed companies in the world that chose not to give CDP the data it requested.

3) There’s been some terrific individual-action climate change coverage on the Daily Kos site recently, including the outstanding Hummingbird blogathon series.

Via DailyKos.com:

Hummingbirds – Hopeful Voices in Our Midst

The “Hummingbirds” Blogathon held this past week was our humble attempt to accentuate the positive and explore what all of us can do as individuals.  After all, successful collective efforts are so deemed because the whole ends being greater than the sum of its parts.  The diaries posted this week were not only inspiring and uplifting, but based on several diary comments I read, opened many eyes.

Why did the blogathon’s writers, journalists, and activists choose a hummingbird?

This is why.

On a visit to Japan, Wangari Maathai learned the story of the hummingbird and the forest fire. While the other animals run in fear or hang their heads in despair, the hummingbird flies above the fire time and again, releasing a few drops of water from its tiny beak.

“Why do you bother?” the other animals shout at the hummingbird. “I’m doing the best that I can,” the hummingbird replies.

That’s all, and everything, we each must do.