Reflections from Judy, March 2021
There’s some very encouraging climate change action these days. More and more, I’m seeing an integrated approach to how climate change can, and needs to be, addressed.
The same goes for the urgency.
The 30 x 30 initiative is (not surprisingly) strongly supported by land trusts and conservation organizations. Protecting land is what they/we do. The timing is important as there is increasing evidence that many of the lands and waters we are collectively working to conserve are near, or already at, a tipping point.
This will mean different land management practices that prioritize slowing down climate change as well as bolstering climate resilience. It will also mean conservation-oriented folks supporting community resilience and engagement, reducing the need for energy (energy conservation), and identifying how renewable energy is compatible with land and water. It’s not one or the other; it’s going to take an integrated approach that will entail conservation organizations stretching their perspectives to help pick up the pace and expand their partnerships.
Yet that won’t happen without you. Conservation organizations need to feel supported as they venture into new partnerships, try out new ideas, and tackle new approaches for both slowing down climate change and adapting to changing circumstances. Let them (or organizations you belong to) know you care and that you support an integrated approach. Help to lead.
When you share the challenges and solutions around climate change in a manner that connects with people’s shared values and with their communities you too are part of that change. That’s part of why I include the variety of articles below. Feel free to share them with people and organizations you know. Help them connect the dots. Frame the ideas as part of a solution-based approach.
As people who care, we need to continue to face the reality of climate change—and encourage solutions that will authentically reduce the use of fossil fuels and build healthy, and vibrant, communities.
Weekly Planet: Nature is heart of our recovery
If you’ve had a long relationship with nature, you may wonder “am I seeing fewer fireflies, butterflies, and birds than when I was a kid?” Sadly, the answer is “yes.” Since 1970, butterfly populations have plummeted 35%, amphibian populations have declined by 30% and bird populations have decreased by 29% equating to three billion fewer birds since the year I was born. While these facts are sobering, the good news is that conservation action has solutions. As wildlife populations have been spiraling downward, wetland bird populations have been increasing.
Why? Because tens of millions of dollars have been invested in the protection and restoration of our nation’s wetlands, the same wetlands that help filter and clean our waters, store carbon, and absorb floodwaters—by and large, making our communities healthier and safer…
Climate tip: solar
[Recently, the Peconic Land Trust] celebrated National Cut Your Energy Cost Day with a look at our own energy costs. The Peconic Land Trust has been working to cut its energy costs through the use of solar panels—which is both economically and environmentally friendly. The net cost of solar is significantly lower than the current cost of utility power on Long Island, $0.09/ kWH to $0.21/ kWh respectively.
During the renovation of the Southampton office building in 2017, 32 solar panels were installed on the roof by GreenLogic. Since then, the panels have produced over 45,000 kWh of energy at a savings of more than $10,000! Power on Long Island comes from a combination of sources including coal and natural gas…
Building more resilient human and natural communities
Stronger storms, increased rainfall, and periodic droughts are all part of our new normal. Conservation Trust for North Carolina is rising to the challenge our changing climate brings by partnering with affected communities to identify ways that healthy lands can better support and protect people. Including land conservation in larger plans for reducing the carbon output of our state and lessening impacts to communities, we can build a resilient North Carolina.
Conserving land for climate resilience is a top priority for all North Carolinians. Informed by climate science data, we know that taking steps to protect highly resilient property along the Blue Ridge Parkway is valuable to communities long into the future, even as natural areas, wildlife habitat and species change in response to the climate. We are ready to take this purposeful approach….
How to Solar Now
Land trusts are realizing that they must support renewable energy if we are going to have a chance at saving the plants, animals, and communities from the worst of climate change.
This web-based interactive tool combines mapped information with education and guidance to help your community proactively plan for smart solar energy development. Using Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping layers, the tool identifies communities’ natural resources—such as forests, agricultural lands, and wetlands—and overlays them with important characteristics for solar development, such as gentle slopes and distance to transmission lines. It enables communities considering planning and zoning for future solar development, evaluating proposals by developers or identifying preferred sites for solar to make smart decisions that bring clean energy to residents while minimizing impacts to natural and community assets…
Climate justice: the intersection of climate science, environmental and social justice
The Earth System Science Center has announced the lineup for its spring 2021 Climate Dynamics seminar series. The series will focus on the cutting-edge climate research being conducted in the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute and the Climate Science dual-title graduate program in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences at Penn State. The seminars, which are free and open to the public, take place from 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Wednesdays via Zoom.
You may appreciate listening to the webinar about climate change, environmental and social justice.
Juneau’s climate change solutionists: preserving wetlands and peatlands with Koren Bosworth
While the rest of the world celebrated World Wetlands Day on February 2nd, we in Juneau might wonder if every day is wetlands day, especially when venturing off a developed trail.
We are lucky for it. Our spongy ground might be inhospitable to tromping and building, but it performs a service arguably more important than recreation or development: carbon sequestration.
Juneau’s peatlands and wetlands are carbon sinks, complex biomes that trap carbon in an anaerobic environment, slowing the decomposition of organic material. Coastal wetlands can store five times as much carbon as a tropical forest over time; peatlands store ten times more carbon than other kinds of ecosystems…
Medford Spring Grassland Conservation
“Grasslands store one-third of the Earth’s carbon, and just one acre of grassland can store an estimated 50 tonnes of carbon or more. Yet, in the U.S., over one million acres of grassland are still converted each year, which has the potential to release 50%-70% of the carbon they hold as carbon dioxide (CO₂).
The Medford Spring grasslands in southeastern Colorado are facing an imminent threat of conversion to cropland given its soils are suitable for farming, and cropland rental rates for winter wheat, milo, sorghum, alfalfa, and other row crops, are more than five times pastureland rates in Bent County, CO. A permanent conservation easement will preserve the grasslands and avoid conversion of the land to farming or development. This will prevent an estimated 190,000 tonnes of CO₂ from entering the atmosphere over the next 50 years. This is the equivalent of almost 208 million pounds of coal burned…”
The Climate Action Reserve
“As the premier carbon offset registry for the North American carbon market, the Climate Action Reserve encourages action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by ensuring the environmental integrity and financial benefit of emissions reduction projects.
The Reserve establishes high quality standards for carbon offset projects, oversees independent third-party verification bodies, issues carbon credits generated from such projects and tracks the transaction of credits over time in a transparent, publicly-accessible system.
The Reserve offsets program demonstrates that high-quality carbon offsets foster real reductions in GHG pollution, support activities that reduce local air pollution, spur growth in new green technologies and allow emission reduction goals to be met at lower cost…”
Black Lives Matter in the climate movement
We have come to a time when the United States is having yet another reckoning with racist institutions that have pervaded since its founding. Corporations, sports teams, and brands alike have been publicly re-evaluating their policies to declare how they stand with the Black community.
While preliminary policy changes are a start, what is really needed is a more thorough investigation of what it means to be anti-racist. Especially for corporations, anti-racism should also be incorporated into climate change mitigation efforts. While it may seem that climate change activism has taken a backseat in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter Movement, how we address these issues can help forge a path forward for the climate movement…