Welcome to Delicate template
Header
Just another WordPress site
Header

Check out this new two-page fact sheet on NJ and climate change: Understanding New Jersey’s Vulnerability to Climate Change.

It puts all the most important scientific facts in one easy-to-read piece about the three biggest climate change threats facing our state.

This useful tool was developed by the Rutgers Climate Institute and the Georgetown Climate Center. You can share it with your local town council, environmental commission, and school science teams. Use it to write letters to your local papers, or to back up a discussion with a friend.

It’s important to remember that Global Climate change doesn’t cause any single, specific weather event like a hurricane or heat wave. But it does make weather events more likely to happen and more likely to be extreme when they do.

A simple way to think about it is that climate is your personality—who you are a person. And weather is your mood—how you feel on any particular day. If your personality changes, so do your moods.

In the case of our planet, the greenhouse gases that we’re dumping into the atmosphere are raising the earth’s temperature. In other words, we’re changing the earth’s personality. These changes from the generally consistent climate patterns we had for billions of years affect where, when and how weather happens. Those are the earth’s moods.

So here’s the deal: Climate change is making NJ stormier, floodier, and hotter.

1. Threats from Extreme Storms

“Power interruptions due to extreme weather, such as hurricanes, thunderstorms, and ice storms, are 10 times worse in New Jersey today than 20 years ago.”

“Heavy precipitation events in the Northeast have increased dramatically in the past two decades, occurring more than twice as often in recent year than during the past century.”

2. Threats from Rising Seas

“Scientists consider New Jersey a hotspot for sea-level rise, as waters along New Jersey’s coast are rising faster than the global average. Best estimates for sea-level rise along New Jersey’s coast show an increase of 10 inches by 2030 and by 1.5 feet by 2050.”

“Scientists are highly confident that future storms will have greater impacts because of rising sea levels. Storm surge combined with higher water levels will make severe coastal flooding more frequent in the future.”

3. Threats from Extreme Heat

“By mid-century, about 70 percent of summers in New Jersey will be warmer than the state’s warmest summer on record.”

“This extremely hot weather will increase health risks for the elderly and young children, stress rail lines and major roadways, and pose threats to agriculture.”

So now that we know—what are we going to do about it? That’s exactly what lots of people around the state are working on.

This accessible guide gives citizens, planners and policy makers another tool to make better decisions about how our state should spend money and resources.

We don’t have time to waste debating about whether climate science is 100% for-sure or merely 97% sure. It’s time to take action on the family, local, county and state levels.

I’m all-in for climate change action.

But there are plenty of people who don’t agree with me about climate change and what we should do about it (and I count friends among them).

Honestly, this completely baffles me. How can we be so far apart on such an important issue?

Instead of throwing up my hands, I decided to write out the things I’m absolutely, positively sure they are right about. Here’s my list:

5 Things That I Completely Agree on With Climate Skeptics

1. Climate science is complicated and scary

2. We’re all worried about our job/kids/house

3. We all really hate having the same argument over and over

4. No one likes being told what to do/not to do/can’t buy/should think

5. We can and *will* figure it out

This list reminds me that there’s plenty of common ground. From astronomical property taxes to job growth to rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy, we definitely agree on many of the things that need fixing. It’s the how-to-fix-it part where I get stuck. So the first step for me is to learn how to listen better and understand more about where people are coming from.

That’s why I encourage you to bring your friends to North Jersey Public Policy Network’s Feb. 20 event, especially the ones who aren’t sure about climate change or are fed up with it.

It’s called “America’s Future: Communicating with our Neighbors on Climate Change.” It will be a guaranteed friendly, flame-free evening with one of the country’s best-informed researchers on why climate change is so incredibly hard to talk about.

No judgments, no blaming.

The night will start with small group discussions about climate change conversations run by Climate Nexus. And then we’ll hear from Geoffrey Feinberg of Yale University’s Project on Climate Change Communication and other panelists. Dr. Feinberg studies the different ways that Americans think and feel about themselves and climate change. There will also be time for your questions and comments.

NJPPN is hosting this event with the Institute for Sustainable Enterprise at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

I’m committed to bringing 4 friends who don’t feel the same way about climate change and politics that I do. I’m not planning on changing anybody’s mind. But I do hope to hear and understand more about what they’re thinking and why.

The event is free. RSVP at enviro@njppn.org.

Here are the things that caught my eye in 2014.

Some are noteworthy but unnoticed. Others soaked up a lot of well-deserved attention and ink.

All contributed to the growing tide of awareness that climate change action is urgently needed now.

Feb 28
Shell Bets on solar as dominant energy source by 2100, in little-noticed report

Carbon Brief

Mar 19
Pope Francis assumes the Papacy and chooses the patron saint of the environment
as his name
Pope Francis carpools, downsizes, blesses, kisses, lives modestly, and reminds the world to care for the world’s poorest people. In his homily, Francis described the church’s mission as “respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live.”
The Guardian

April 10
Ceres’ Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP) launches the Climate Declaration
Climate Counts

April 18
Carbon Tracker releases its Unburnable Carbon report
New York Times

April 18
Bill McKibben’s 350.org’s fossil fuel divestment group releases “Do the Math”
Good

May 10
Climate hits 400ppm of CO2 for first time in 3 million years
Treehugger

June 25
President Obama announces his Climate Plan
The White House

Aug 19
IPPC report predicts near certainty on human-caused climate change
New York Times

Oct 10
LA Times announces it won’t public climate denier letters
Grist

Oct 24
Acknowleging reality and poking the bear, investors ask oil, coal and power companies for climate risk information
Forbes
Ceres

Nov 7
Super Typhoon Haiyan makes landfall in the Phillippines
Wikipedia

Nov 11
Yeb Sano pleads for climate action at the UN meeting in Warsaw
Youtube

Nov 21
Civil society and environmental groups walk out of UN Climate meeting talks to protest inaction
The Guardian

Dec 6
Signaling a foregone conclusion, 29 companies reveal they are already factoring a carbon price into their finances
Carbon Disclosure Project

Dec 16
Demonstrating momentum for pro-science climate action, Reddit science forum bans climate deniers

Grist

Water is a limited resource.

Here is one assessment of the U.S. state of play from an International perspective.

The United State of Drought

WASHINGTON, Oct 21 2013 (IPS) – As the planet heats up and larger populations demand larger water supplies, the United States will be left high and dry if it fails to address a worsening water shortage.

By 2060, the gap between water supply and demand could grow to nearly four billion cubic metres per year – 10 times the amount of water used by the desert-bound city of Las Vegas.

 

 

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.

 

Are our Earth’s resource finite, or not?

That’s the crux of the question answered by the Planetary Boundaries work done by the Stockholm Resilience Centre.

Their answer is: yes. There are Nine Planetary Boundaries. These limits describe how much we can use, destroy, eat and drink of our planet’s resources until we run the risk of running out. Ruining it for future generations.

This research isn’t comforting to think about. It raises all sort of uncomfortable discussions about fair-shares.

So it’s no wonder that there is a correspondingly robust controversy the role of this science in formulating policy.

Two examples, first one con and then one pro:

Roger Pielkejr, Jr.: “Planetary Boundaries as a Power Grab”

Victor Galaz: “Planetary Boundaries Strawman”

This conversation reminds me of climate change denialism tactics that try to win the argument on semantics over sense.

Since we don’t–and can’t–know for sure that the science is all correct, then we shouldn’t use it to make decisions?

That’s like going after a lion by the tail. Sure, it might look like the easiest place to grab, but you won’t be happy with the results once you’ve got it. Far better to go after the whole lion, if that’s your ultimate game.

“We cannot risk our kids’ futures on the false hope that the vast majority of scientists are wrong.” That’s the sentiment in yesterday’s Climate Declaration announcement.

Besides, what’s the harm if the scientists aren’t entirely right? We’ll have a cleaner, more energy-efficient world?

With the fate of the planet potentially at risk, we can’t waste time on inches and tails. We need to go for the whole lion.

Pay your fair share.

You broke it, you bought it.

Simple enough concepts.

But until recently, natural resource costs and environmental impacts haven’t made it into a business’ bottom line.

Things like: how much do you owe to restore contaminated drinking water sources from your factory’s chemical run-off?

Or: what should you budget to maintain air quality for people who live near your factory?

What’s a forest worth? What’s the value of logging it versus keeping it intact? For whose benefit?

We know how to figure these costs out. It’s called Natural Capital Accounting.

And we really need to start using it. Because we’re running out of Natural Capital left and right. (To be clear, I’m talking about clean air, land and water.)

Greenbiz.com founder Joel Makower lays out the stark realities & challenges ahead here and in the newly released State of Green Business 2013 report.

He has a wowza of a topline finding:

If the global private sector had to pay outright the true cost of their companies’ environmental impacts, it would cut profits by 40 to 50 percent.

Let that one sink in for a second. Half of a company’s profits.

Greenbiz.com contributor Heather Clancy goes over the report in more detail.

Via Greenbiz.com:

The Case for Natural Capital Accounting

Few companies today account in their financial statements for the value of natural capital — resources such as clean water, tillable soil, breathable air and other resources that are often taken for granted or assumed to be free.

But if those costs were tallied globally, the liability would be considerably more than $1 trillion, according to a new index included in the sixth annual State of Green Business report published on Tuesday. Total natural capital costs related to U.S. firms are approximately $351.6 billion.

As an unrepentant optimist, I can’t help seeing the silver lining in this mess.

Natural Capital Accounting gives us a fuller, richer picture of what our actions cost, in terms of dollars, environmental impact, and how our choices hurt or help other people.

I like to believe that when people know better, they do better.

When you can’t afford not to do better, you figure out a way to do better.

Since we must do better, we will.

 

I love this idea a million ways to Sunday.

Harvard Business Review blogger Gretchen Rubin writes about the possibilities born from tight spaces:

Why Innovators Love Constraints

To make choices about how we will expend the resources we do have available to us, to find cheaper, more nimble ways of doing something as a person – and as a corporation. Our perceived limitations may give us direction on where we might play, or want to play. Indeed, if we will let them, constraints can (and will) drive us to disruption.

When it comes to Sustainability, our constraints are very real.

We exist within a finite set of Planetary Boundaries. Nine of them, in fact.

Via guardian.co.uk:

Promise and problems in planetary boundaries

The Nine Planetary Boundaries, the identification of nine limits that cannot be crossed if humans are to avoid catastrophe, were developed by Johan Rockström et al in a 2011 paper in the Nature journal (and a nod to the Club of Rome’s 1972 Limits to Growth), are now being used as the basis for campaigns and policy work by NGOs such as Forum For the Future and WWF.

General Patton famously said, “Pressure makes diamonds.”

Given our constraints, what will we create?

It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.

Right?

Take our planet’s climate crisis. Terrifying.

As in:

“Unless We Take Action On Climate Change, Future Generations Will Be Roasted, Toasted, Fried And Grilled”

(This from a banker, no less.)

On the bright side, the coming on of wind and solar energy, of smart grids and resilient planning, is exciting.

So how we talk about climate change, energy policy, and everything else in the sustainability conversation, really matters.

As a communications person, this is my job:

Help people understand. So they take action.

Surprisingly (or not, if you’ve been there), the first hurdle is getting everyone on the team working together. Muddled messaging wreaks major havoc.

A new article talks about this very issue.

Adam James at American Progress wrote a thoughtful piece about resolving differences of opinion and approach in the new energy community.

Via theenergycollective.com:

Energy Innovation vs. Deployment: Addressing Differences on Communications and Policy

He breaks the problem and solution down into three steps:

1. Get clear about messaging

What can be done? First, separate the communications debate from the policy debate, and try to have a real conversation about the merits of each messaging approach given the outcomes we are trying to achieve.

2. Get clear about messages

Second, discuss the policy agenda outside the context of this conversation about messaging, to isolate the items where there is substantial agreement.

3. Rally around agreement

Third, galvanize around the agenda items where there is significant agreement, and push for those policies based on whatever strategy can be salvaged out of the communications discussion.

As an illustration of the above in action, I’d probably swap the first two points (#1).  So the message drives messaging (#2). But that’s just a quibble (#3).

I firmly believe that when people know better, they do better. As a messenger, it’s my job to help that happen.

Three new Climate Change articles worth your time.

Nutshell: Where things stand, why,  and what to do about it.

1. Where Thing Stand: Worse than we thought

Via grist.org:

Famed climate economist Nicholas Stern: ‘I underestimated the risks’ of climate change

Published in 2006, the “Stern Review Report on the Economics of Climate Change” suggested that climate change would result in a 5 percent drop in the annual gross domestic product in perpetuity, and that stabilizing the climate would itself cost 2 percent — a massive sum.

Last week in Davos, however, Stern suggested that his conclusions were wrong. They were too optimistic. In an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Stern, who is now a crossbench peer, said: “Looking back, I underestimated the risks. The planet and the atmosphere seem to be absorbing less carbon than we expected, and emissions are rising pretty strongly. Some of the effects are coming through more quickly than we thought then.”

“This is potentially so dangerous that we have to act strongly. Do we want to play Russian roulette with two bullets or one? These risks for many people are existential.”

2. Why We Aren’t Doing Anything About It

Via CSRwire.com:

Acting As If Tomorrow Matters: Mapping the Obstacles to Sustainability

Habit-The sheer force of existing unsustainable habits — personal, social, organizational, and governmental — reinforced by both lack of urgency and uncertainty about what more sustainable behavior would entail. Essentially, sustainability requires all of us in all of our roles to do things in different and more sustainable ways. To do that, we need to take the time and effort to change something we have done, probably without much thought, for a while.

Unsupportive or hostile law and governance is the second area of obstacles. As many of us are all too aware, the legal playing field is often biased against sustainable alternatives.  Fossil fuels tend to get sustainable vs unsustainable developmentmore, and more permanent, financial support from the federal government — in the form of tax incentives and subsidies — than renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Politics–Political opposition and the growing influence of other countries. In principle, sustainable development is middle ground because it is does not put the environment over development, or development over the environment, but rather emphasizes both equally. But because it is based on a preference for sustainable development over unsustainable development, fossil fuel interests have funded climate change denial campaigns and political candidates who oppose action on climate change.

In practice, these obstacles reinforce each other.

3. What We Might Want to Start Doing

Via treehugger.com:

Why Environmentalists Need to Talk More About the Basics and Stop Skipping Steps

To Protect Nature, We Have to Be More Convincing
If you consider yourself an environmentalist, or green, or care at all about the life-support systems of our blue marble of a planet, one of the best things you can do to help is to convince others of what must be done. This is simple math. One person, even doing their best, usually cannot achieve as much as a group working together. But bringing others on board can be pretty hard. If you’ve tried before, you’ve probably noticed that people fall into three groups: Those that are already on board on one end of the spectrum, those that for various ideological reasons won’t be convinced even by a mountain of evidence on the other, and a large group of open minded but fairly neutral people in the middle.