Sarah Peters

  • Climate Crisis Causing Severe Water Shortages in U.S.

    The United States cannot afford to waste any more time addressing the climate crisis.  It is already drastically impacting the western U.S., particularly California.  The Golden State is in the grips of a drought so severe that U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, has designated 50 out of 58 Californian counties as a primary disaster area.  The snowpack that California depends upon for 30% of its’ water supply has dried up months early.  The state’s 51,000 reservoirs are only at 50% of their average capacity.  Low water supplies will hamper hydroelectric power generation, and increase the severity of this year’s wildfire season.  The lack of water will also devastate the California’s agricultural industry, which in turn impacts the rest of the U.S as California provides two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts, and over one-third of its vegetables.  State officials anticipate that 500,000 acres of agricultural lands will remain unused this year due to water shortages. [1]

    Sometimes, it can be difficult to identify anthropogenic climate change as the specific cause of a natural disaster. However, this is not the case with California’s historic drought.  In 2020, researchers from NASA, Columbia University, University of Idaho, University of California Merced, University of Colorado Boulder, and the Universities Space Research Association examined tree-ring constructions and hydrologic models.  Their research concluded that the southwestern U.S. is experiencing the second worst megadrought since 800 AD.  In addition, the data revealed that 46% of the factors leading to CA’s megadrought were a result of anthropogenic climate change.[2]

    Water conservation is crucial even in regions that are not experiencing drought.  The water supply that can be used for human consumption is not limitless.  Ninety-seven percent of the Earth’s water supply is salt water.  Out of the remaining 3% fresh water, 2.5% is stored in glaciers and ice caps, the atmosphere, and the soil.  That leaves a mere 0.5% of the Earth’s supply readily available for human consumption.  Desalination (removing the salt from seawater) is still prohibitively expensive.  In 2015, a thousand gallons of water from a desalination plant costed up to $5 versus $2 for a thousand gallons from a traditional plant, due to the massive energy requirements.[3]   Researchers are working on improving the desalination process through more efficient membranes and developing better methods of handling the leftover brine.[4]

    Conserving water ensures that the maximum possible amount is available to ecosystems, human communities, and farms.  Critically, it reduces the impacts of droughts and water shortages.[5]  There are also economic benefits to individuals and communities  in conserving water.  Water conservation reduces the costs and energy demands of wastewater treatment, and results in lower household water bills.

    There are many ways that individuals can take steps to conserve precious water.  Some tips from the non-profit “The Water Project” include:[6]

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  • Join Us as We Tell U.S. Banks--"Mitigate the Climate Crisis Now!"

    It is time for powerful politicians and corporations in the U.S. to engage in major actions to address the worsening climate crisis. While there's always been extreme weather, of course, scientists now are trying to explain why the weather has been dramatically amplified in such a short period of time such that records are being shattered. And the often "off-the-charts" weather events in the U.S. have been a huge financial burden to its pandemic-recovering economy.

    Photo: Smoke envelops trees as the Sugar Fire, part of the
    Beckwourth Complex Fire, burns in Doyle, California on July 9, 2021;
    Noah Berger-AP.

    Appropriately, this coming November 1, 2021, the most important international climate talks since Paris will begin in Glasgow, Scotland. Government leaders from the U.S. will attend the meeting and make new climate commitments. In addition, many major U.S. corporations will release their latest plans to reduce climate-pollution emissions. To avoid half-hearted commitments to address the climate issue, it is critical that the U.S. people demand that their nation's business and governmental fully address the unraveling climate. (For event details & to RSVP, scroll down.)

    Towards that, Climate First! and many other groups, all part of the nationwide coalition, Stop the Money Pipeline (STMP), will be organizing many actions in the time leading-up to the Glasgow talks. Specifically, during STMP's country-wide "Week of Action," Sept. 13-17, Climate First! will be running actions in the Washington, D.C. area, calling on the big banks to terminate their financial involvement with climate-wrecking fossil fuel projects such as the Line 3 pipeline. We will also be delivering a STMP petition to them, signed by over 150,000 people, that demands, in part, the same. 

    Image: Climate First!'s action vs. various banks in Wash., D.C.; Aug. 13, 2021

    For folks who can't attend Climate First!'s event(s) during the upcoming "Week of Action," stay tuned for future actions. In addition, if you haven't signed it yet, please sign STMP's petition here.

    EVENT DETAILS:
    WHAT:
    We'll do a "bank walk" to/from five large U.S. banks near Dupont Circle, requesting that they stop financing Line 3 and other climate-wrecking projects.
    WHEN:
    Friday, September 17, 2021; 11:30 am to 1:30 pm.  
    WHERE:
    Meet at 11:30 am, "Dolcezza Coffee and Gelato", 1704 Connecticut. Ave., NW, Wash., D.C. The shop is a 5 min walk from north entrance of the Dupont Circle Metro Station (Red Line).  
    WHO: 
    Climate First! is organizing these bank actions. 
    MISC.: We ask that all participants in this event wear masks, & abide by CDC pandemic guidelines. Also, we request that only people that have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 attend the actions. 
    Please note that we will not be engaging in civil disobedience during these events. Bring a sign or two if you can. Also, bring water & snacks, and dress for the weather. Can't come for all five bank actions? Just come for as many as you have time for. PLEASE RSVP BELOW.

    Q's? Contact us at [email protected]

     

    WHEN
    September 17, 2021 at 11:30am
    WHERE
    Washington, D.C.
    rsvp

  • Moving Past Natural Gas for a Clean, Green World

    One of the next major challenges for renewable energy providers is to displace natural gas.  As demand for oil and coal decreases, power generation is frequently being replaced by natural gas.  In the United States, natural gas currently generates about 40% of the nation’s electricity supply, compared to about 20% for renewables.  However, economic forces look promising for growth in renewables.  For example, solar panels can deliver energy at $31 to $111 a megawatt-hour compared to $122 to $162 a megawatt-hour for natural gas.[1] 

    The weight of historical inertia helps explain why natural gas currently has an edge over renewables.  The U.S. already has approximately three million miles of pipeline transporting natural gas between facilities and consumers.  The top five producers are Texas, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Ohio.  One of the major products is liquefied natural gas (LNG), a natural gas that has been cooled to a liquid state at sub-zero temperatures for storage and shipping in areas where pipelines are not feasible.  The U.S. has been a net exporter of LNG since 2017 due to a significant increase in domestic natural gas production.  The majority of LNG exports went to South Korea, Japan, Spain, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.[2]

    Natural gas production has a devastating effect on the environment, particularly the practice of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”).  Fracking is the process of injecting liquid, usually a mixture of water and chemicals, into the ground to force open cracks in order to extract oil or gas.  Fracking requires great quantities of water, and when the wastewater is injected back into the ground, it can cause small earthquakes and contaminate the surrounding area with toxic chemicals.  Another significant impact of natural gas production is methane emissions.  Methane is a potent greenhouse gas.  When compared to carbon dioxide over 100 years, methane is more effective at trapping heat by a factor of 25[3].  According to estimates by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in 2018, methane emissions from oil and natural gas systems, including abandoned wells, were responsible for 29% of total U.S. methane emissions and 3% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.[4]  In 2015-2016, a prolonged leak from a processed natural gas (PNG) well in Aliso Canyon, California was the greatest single accidental release of greenhouse gases in U.S. history. The release prompted the evacuation of 5,790 households.[5] 

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  • Halting the Food Waste Flood: Now More Than Ever

    There is no better time than now to tackle the pervasive issue of food waste in the United States.  As so many of our neighbors struggle to put food on their tables during this pandemic, we can all take steps to reduce food waste.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. wastes 30-40% of its food supply annually.  A snapshot from 2010 reveals that Americans wasted 133 billion pounds and $161 billion dollars’ worth of food in that year alone.[1] The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calculated that in 2018 Americans generated 63 million tons of food waste, contributing to 24% of landfill materials.  Decomposition in landfills contributes significantly to emissions of the potent greenhouse gas, methane – 14.1% of 2017 greenhouse gas emissions, according to EPA estimates.[2]  This figure does not even include the greenhouse gas emissions generated by the production and transportation of food products that end up in landfills.

    Studies by non-profit organizations working on climate change solutions corroborate government studies.  Project Drawdown calculated that reducing food waste could decrease worldwide greenhouse gas emissions by 70 gigatons.  Crucially for ecosystem health, generating less food waste will have a significant effect on stemming the tide of biodiversity loss.  The World Wildlife Fund estimates that 70% of biodiversity loss is a result of converting habitat to agricultural land.  Cutting food waste would mean that we need less land to feed humanity.[3]

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  • International Treaties and Recovery after COVID-19

    On September 27th, 2020, world leaders from 64 nations signed the voluntary Leaders’ Pledge for Nature.  This international agreement committed these nations to addressing the climate crisis, biodiversity loss, and pollution as part of their post-COVID economic recovery plans.  Signatory nations included Bangladesh, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Kenya, Mexico, New Zealand, and the U.K. Conspicuous in their absence were Australia, China, Brazil, India, and the U.S.[1]

    The Leaders’ Pledge for Nature served as a prelude to the U.N. Biodiversity Summit on September 30th.  Nearly 150 nations met virtually to discuss the extensive global loss of biodiversity, and to build political capital for a biodiversity agreement at next year’s Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) meeting.  Interestingly, between September 27th and 30th, ten more nations signed the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature.[2]

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  • COVID-19 and the Rise of Renewables

    July 4, 2020

    The COVID-19 pandemic has likely affected every aspect of our economy, including the construction of renewable energy projects.  However, even a pandemic cannot stop the continued march of renewable energy’s dominance in the U.S. energy market. On May 21, 2020, in a historical and unprecedented moment, renewable energy outshone coal by providing a higher percentage of U.S. energy consumption for 100 consecutive days.  Consumption of renewable energy sources increased 1% and coal consumption decreased 15%.

    Consumer demand in the face of climate change, declining costs, and the increasing imperative for grid resiliency will continue to drive the growth of renewable energy projects.  According to the 2019 Cogent Reports Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™ Residential study, over 40% of U.S. consumers would choose renewable energy over fossil fuels.  In a December 2019 Gallup poll, 55% of U.S. adults ranked climate change as an extremely or very important issue in the 2020 elections.  Deloitte has calculated that the levelized costs of commercial-scale solar projects fell 10% in 2019.  Onshore and offshore wind costs fell 18% and 24%, respectively.  According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the power generation costs of solar photovoltaics and onshore wind decreased 82% and 39%, respectively, from 2010 to 2019.

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  • wants to volunteer 2020-05-06 01:52:25 -0400

    Become a volunteer

    Video: Climate First!'s Virtual Action vs. Chase Bank, April 23, 2020.

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    Why does your involvement matter? Your voice is needed to build the tipping point. 

    Solving the climate crisis requires collective action that comes from a tipping point.  Tipping points happen only when more people, businesses and public agencies persistently demand solutions. To build toward the tipping point:

    • Make a decision right now to act. And continue to act going forward.
    • Run an online strike vs. Chase Bank. Post on social media photos/videos of yourself and others with a relevant climate message. Use these hashtags in your post: “#HealthIsClimateFirst!” & “#ClimateStrikeOnline”. Also, insert "@Chase" and "@ChaseSupport" in your post to get the bank's attention. To find examples of other recent related posts, do a "Google search" of the above hashtags. 
    • Sign up for Climate First!’s emails to learn about our upcoming actions and other events.
    • Share your talents with Climate First!. Volunteer opportunities include sign making, updating website content, photographing, writing press releases, etc. Scroll down to sign-up.
    • Encourage your peers to participate too. Let them know that their participation matters because we win if we reach the tipping point.
    • Tell everyone that the Climate Crisis is your #1 voting issue.
    • When purchasing things from Amazon, you can help Climate First!. Just remember, always start at smile.amazon.com--you'll get the same products, same prices, and same service. And Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to Climate First!. 
    • Donate to Climate First!

     

    Become a volunteer