- January 2, 2017
- I. Climate Change
- II. Fossil Fuels
- III. Water and Food Reports
- IV. Politics
- V. Miscellaneous Items
- VI. Events
January 2, 2017
I. Climate Change
Story from EcoWatch.com, Dec. 20, 2017; BBC News, Dec. 22, 2017.
With disasters like droughts, desertifications, floods, cyclones, and sea level rise already displacing some 26 million people per year (since 2008) the time is now to put in place global agreements on how we’ll deal with human migrations.
- A pro-active approach should be adopted by the UN to get the world onboard for a long-term commitment.
- The G20 nations (U.S. EU, UK, China, Russia, India, Brazil) can do a lot to prepare and recognize who will be displaced and where this will likely happen.
- A research study published in Science Journal shows that asylum seeker numbers are linked to temperature rises in the warmer regions of the world (above 20 C).
Story from Climate Home News, Dec. 14, 2017.
Several provinces have already have their own carbon markets. Now China, the world’s largest CO2 polluter, is launching its awaited national carbon market that begins on Dec. 19. It will be world’s largest carbon market emissions trading system even though it has been scaled back at first to cover only the power sector (46% of China’s total emissions).
- The original plan included eight economic sectors but this conservative start will manage only the power sector emissions which has the best statistical data.
- It will create a cost (permits) for emitting carbon and allow selling credits for under-polluting similar to California’s Cap & Trade system.
- It’s part of their GHG reduction plan and has promise to gradually expand.
- The nation is becoming ever more dependent on nuclear and solar power but is still vastly dependent on coal.
II. Fossil Fuels
Story from EcoWatch, Dec. 29, 2017; THE HILL, Dec. 28, 2017.
Obama set protection standards for hydraulic fracturing on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands in 2015. The Trump administration has taken the steps to repeal and it appeared in the Federal Register Friday, Dec. 29.
- The rule focused on mandating companies disclose the chemicals used, require companies to cover surface ponds holding fracking fluids, and setting well construction standards.
- Arguments pro and con:
- BLM’s opinion is that the rules were “unnecessarily burdensome and unjustified”.
- Environmentalists argue that fracking can be dangerous for groundwater, soil and air.”
Story from The Guardian, Dec. 21, 2017.
Even though France imports 99% of its oil and had already banned fracking in 2011, the announcement is a significant commitment to renewable sources of power. The ban affects the country and all of its territories by 2040.
- The year 2040 is also the year France would like to end the use of gasoline and diesel use.
- It’s largely a symbolic commitment but President Macron wants France to be in the forefront – the world leader in the switch to renewables.
- Macron’s tweets reflect the different philosophies between the U.S. and France (#makeourplanetgreatagain).
III. Water and Food Reports
Story from California Data Exchange Center, Dec. 27, 2017; California Urban Water Agencies, 2017; KQED, Feb. 28, 2014.
While there’s no official drought and very little rain in sight we know that water will be a major issue soon. Here’s some helpful information about where we get our water:
- Here’s a list of the eleven agencies handling about 2/3 of the users in the State of California.
- Where does the Bay Area get its water?
Story from EPA news source, Dec. 18, 2017; Bloomberg Markets, Mar. 14, 2017; Food Democracy Now (FDN.org), Nov. 2016; EcoWatch, Dec. 19, 2017.
Trump’s EPA has reassessed the risk downplaying previous reports regarding the dangers of Glyphosate, the highly controversial weed-killer. The report was done by an EPA scientist, Jess Rowland, who has been written up in the NY Times and in Bloomberg about having “killed” another EPA investigation. Monsanto denied that they could possibly corrupt an EPA employee under Obama. Mr. Rowland retired from the EPA this year.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) have classified Glyphosate a “probable carcinogen” in 2016.
- A study by Food Democracy Now is very extensive and reports the alarming levels of Glyphosate concentration in many of our foods and now in 75% of rainwater samples in the Midwest.
- Not to be confused with herbicides, the EPA is also secretly considering approving a Nicotinoid pesticide Thiamethoxam for widespread use
Story from Court House News, Dec. 22, 2017.
Pruitt claims removing scientists from the scientific research advisory boards and stacking them with corporate-interest ‘scientists’ is in order with his “Strengthening and Improving Membership on EPA Federal Advisory Committees” plan.
- It violates the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972 which halts the revolving door of allowing industry giants onto scientific panels.
- A lawsuit by a group of researchers known as Scientists and Physicians for Social Responsibility was filed on Dec. 21.
- Pruitt claims the panels were “unfair influence on committees which inform public policy”.
Story from inside climate news, Dec. 22, 2017.
While the new tax bill was a big disappointment, it amazingly preserves the tax credits for Renewables.
- The credits will be phased out as planned but will continue through 2025.
- Opening the ANWR for oil production coupled with the lower price of oil is still not the best deal for oil companies at this time.
- The solar industry is likely to triple by 2022 while annually offsetting 100 million tons of CO2.
Story from Washington Post, Dec. 14, 2017.
In an effort to “cut red tap” he promises to get “back below 1960 level, and we’ll be there fairly quickly”.
- 67 Regulations have been eliminated since Oct. 1.
- The effort is to cut regulatory oversite and streamlining projects.
- Public health is at stake.
Story from Friends Committee on National Legislation, Dec. 13, 2017.
The Climate Solutions Caucus is an official bipartisan caucus on climate change – its risks, causes, challenges and to state policies for coping with it and study options. It was founded by two Representatives, Carlos Cubelo (R-FL) and Ted Deutsch (D-FL) and to date has 62 members equally between Republicans and Democrats.
- By rule, a potential new member of one party must find a member from the other party to join.
- It appears that some members join for political reasons and have no interest in dealing with climate change e.g. Darrell Issa (R-CA).
- There’s reason to believe many GOP members are there for their own political reasons.
- Citizens Climate Lobby is having much success with the caucus educating them about CCL’s Carbon Fee and Dividend plan.
V. Miscellaneous Items
Story from EcoWatch, Dec. 29, 2017.
The world’s largest battery storage facility located in South Australia was designed to respond to their frequent power outages and feed into the grid in emergencies. It’s proven to work within milliseconds of outages and has shown to be better than firing up backup generators.
- The real story of making Renewables a solution to ridding ourselves of fossil fuels is making the storage battery a success.
- Elon Musk made a deal with South Australia earlier this year and it’s proving to be a solution to their coal-fired power plant problems.
- The record time (milliseconds) is much better than any heretofore solutions.
Story from The Guardian, Dec. 26, 2017.
The scale of plastic in the oceans and elsewhere in the environment has reached unmanageable proportions. Even as the amount of plastic produced every year is roughly equivalent to the entire weight of humanity, corporations are building new facilities that will ensure at least a 40% rise in plastic production in the next decade.
- Companies like ExxonMobil Chemical and Shell Chemical, who are benefitting from shale fracking, are locking in enough raw materials for more plastic products to ensure massive future productions.
- The American Chemistry Council touts the number of jobs created by the industry while ignoring the impossible existing pollution problem.
Story from New York Times, Dec. 13, 2017.
Vera Katz elected to the Oregon legislature in 1972 served three terms as speaker from 1985 to 1990 and three terms as mayor of Portland (1993-2005), transforming the city into the ‘liberal bastion of visionary urban planning’ that we know today.
- Vera was inspired by Cesar Chavez and Robert F. Kennedy.
- She arrived in the U.S. as a refugee with her family from Nazi Germany, settling in Brooklyn when she was 12.
- And moved to Portland with her husband in 1964.
Story from PRI website (unpri.org).
The United Nations supported organization called PRI was developed by a group of the world’s largest institutional investors to develop socially just investments.
- Six basic principles were developed that take into consideration the implications of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors in ownership or investment decisions.
- The idea is to reward long-term, responsible investment to benefit the environment and society as a whole.
- It hopes to foster good governance, integrity, and accountability in a sustainable financial system by rewarding long-term, responsible investments.
Story from attendance notes, Dec. 8, 2017.
The Advisory Committee is charged with using the funds created by Proposition AA, the San Francisco Bay Clean Water, Pollution Prevention and Habitat Restoration Program (passed in June, 2016). It is specifically charged to use the funds from the $12. property tax mandated by Prop AA to develop projects through a grant process that would allow various municipal, county and non-profit agencies to take part.
- The Advisory Committee’s first round of Requests for Proposals (RFPs) closed out on Nov. 15, 2017, with 22 projects received and $47 million for those projects was deemed appropriate.
- These RFPs are still in reviewing stage but will be granted early in 2018 to get things going on protecting the Bay, preparing for sea level rise, and making the Bay accessible to people.
Story by inhabit.com, Dec. 1, 2017.
Anirudh Sharma from Mumbai, India started the company, Graviky Labs, to capture soot from diesel vehicles and turn the residue into ink used by artists.
- Particulate matter from diesel emissions has many harmful health effects.
- A device called a KAALINK is attached to the exhaust of diesel vehicles and later sent to a lab to be emptied.
- Inks and paints are available in different shades of grey and pitch black with more options to come.
- Here’s the Facebook website with more works of art.
Jan 3 & 17 (1st & 3rd Wednesdays), 7:00pm, Clean Energy Campaign Conference Call
Sunday, Jan 7, 9:30am, UUSF Sunday Forum, 1187 Franklin St.
Saturday, Jan 10, 8:30am, Rally in front of courthouse, 10:00am Hearing, U.S. Courthouse, 450 Golden Gate Ave., SF
Thursday, Jan. 18, 6:30pm (refreshments), 7:00pm (program), Unitarian Universalist Church of San Francisco, 1187 Franklin St.
Thursday, Feb 1, 5:30pm (reception), 6;30 – 8:30pm (program), David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way, Berkeley
Other Sources of Events:
350Bay Area – Includes other 350.org branches in the Bay Area.
Planet Drum – San Francisco bioregion awareness center
David Brower Center – The environmental center in Berkeley
Ecology Center – Berkeley sustainability center
Sunflower Alliance – Bay Area umbrella organization for activism
Sierra Club San Francisco – Bay Area Website