Monday, July 6, 2015

Environmental NEWS

Why solar panels won’t solve climate change 
Interview: The environmental movement should shift its emphasis from personal responsibility to political change, says activist Bill McKibben, founder of  

Economists and engineers are ahead in terms of finding solutions, according to McKibben. “Economists – left, right and centre – have been saying we need to put a price on carbon to reflect the damage it does. And engineers have said we need government effort to take advantage of new renewable technologies. Up to now we can’t have these things, because of the power of the fossil-fuel industry.”  

McKibben says that the most important thing people can do is join together with others to fight against large fossil-fuel infrastructure projects and encourage investors to stop giving money to the fossil-fuel industry.

Described by Time magazine as the planet’s best green journalist, and by the Boston Globe as the United States’ most distinguished environmentalist, McKibben made his first visit to Ireland, to speak at Meeting the Challenge of Climate Justice: From Evidence to Action.


Pope Francis, science and government are reframing climate change
The long-anticipated encyclical by Pope Francis to the world on the environment was released mid-June. The Lancet Commission, a distinguished United Kingdom-based health body, the following week released its report on health and climate change.
Pope Francis has already changed the conversation in the Catholic Church by prioritizing issues of justice and mercy. He holds a unique status today as a moral leader not only of Christians but of all peoples of the world. He has used that moral authority to call for a needed moral conversion about what he considers the interconnected issues of the environment, the poor, humanity, global development and peace.

Health professionals and scientists are also changing the conversation by calling attention to the ways in which environmental destruction, such as climate change, threatens human health and well-being. We feel the effects through more severe storms, risks of infectious diseases, food scarcity and more. There is strong evidence that the world’s poor are among the most vulnerable — a common-sense, but often overlooked, fact that Lancet and the encyclical spotlight. The Lancet report shows that combating climate change is an unprecedented opportunity to advance health, equitable development and sustainability.


Two Years After Oil Train Disaster, Profound Scars Remain in Lac-Mégantic
Activists prepare for demonstrations across Canada and US this week to 'Stop Oil Trains'

A week of direct actions across Canada and the U.S. to stop so-called "bomb trains" began on Monday, the two-year anniversary of the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster, when an unmanned train with 72 tankers carrying 30,000 gallons of crude oil careened into a small town in the Canadian province of Quebec, where it derailed, exploded, and killed 47 people.

Decontamination work continues to this day at the crash site, but was suspended at noon for a moment of silence. Later in the day, church bells will ring out 47 times at Lac-Mégantic's St. Agnes Church.

On every level, recovery in the small community has been challenging. 


Thousands March in Toronto, Urge Canada to Turn Away From a Fossil Fuel Economy
 Labor unions, student groups, indigenous communities, and environmentalists joined forces for the Jobs, Justice and Climate march, which activists called the most diverse climate mobilization in Canadian history.

The rally was timed to bring attention to the cause ahead of this week's Climate Summit of the Americas in Toronto, this fall's Canadian federal election, and the highly-anticipated UN Paris climate talks in November, which aim to bring together world leaders in legally-binding climate change solutions. 

Read more at VICE News

The EPA Just Banned the Chemicals That Helped Save the Ozone Layer 
Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) can be as much as 10,000 times as powerful as carbon dioxide when it comes to trapping heat in the atmosphere. 

"This rule will not only reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, but also encourage greater use and development of the next generation of safer HFC alternatives," EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said.

"Tackling HFCs is a no-brainer," said Jason Kowalski, the US policy director of, which advocates for action on climate change. To restrict them is to go after "low-hanging fruit," he told VICE News, adding that the real issue in the climate change fight is the degree to which the Obama administration is willing to battle the fossil fuel industry.  

Read more at VICE News

Letter: How we heat, cool our homes matters 
The recently adopted New York State Energy Plan recognizes that in New York, we generate more greenhouse gases heating our buildings than by generating electricity. Heating and cooling our buildings efficiently with renewable energy will become increasingly more urgent as we address the challenge of climate change.


NY State Tax Incentives to Heat and Cool Homes Efficiently using Heat Pumps 
The potential for widespread adoption of heat pumps (shallow ground-source, aka 'geothermal') in New York was recently boosted by the passage of bills in the State Senate and Assembly. Final approval of these important pieces of legislation is now in the hands of Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Urge Governor Cuomo to cut both energy bills and fossil fuel pollution by signing an online petition. Click Here to go to the petition.

State adds funds to budget in case of coal plant shutdown
 The allocation of $19 million in the state budget that’s designed to help communities affected by retiring coal plants was hailed Monday by the local Just Transition coalition. The coalition has been planning for the possibility of the retirement of the Huntley Generating Plant in the Town of Tonawanda.

Reduced operations at the Huntley plant have resulted in decreased tax revenue received by the town, Erie County and the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda Schools. While environmental advocates urge the transition from coal-powered electrical generation to clean energy, it’s also anticipated that a full shutdown of that plant could have devastating economic impacts on labor and the community.


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