Three Responses to "Climate Reality" Program
January 10, 2018 at MONDO in Summit, NJ
Presented by GreenSummitNJ.org
By Donna Goggin Patel
I came to The Climate Reality presentation at MONDO ready to hear the latest thinking on climate change and the extreme weather events reported so frequently in the news. Ridge Kennedy, a writer, volunteer public educator, and West Orange resident, provided an excellent presentation both on the pace of atmospheric warming and the rapid growth in investment in renewable energy around the globe.
His vivid slides detailing how average temperatures have shifted in the past century - and particularly since about 1980 - were stunning and compelling. The bell curve reflecting temperatures in a given year has not only shifted further to the right (i.e., hotter), but has also lengthened out due to more extreme temperature events on both the cold and hot ends of the spectrum.
Despite the dire statistics, Kennedy's explanations of the economics of solar and wind energy provided hope that humanity can break from the cycle of burning fossil fuels. In particular, the idea that much of the developing world may be able to leapfrog over coal and natural gas technology and initially provide power by solar and wind instead was heartening.
The presentation reaffirmed many of my favorite recent, green reads, such as "The Sixth Extinction" by Elizabeth Kolbert, "The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind" by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, and "Climate of Hope" by Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope. It is by educating ourselves and taking actions that we can effect change.
Personally, I am reexamining my own habits this year and saying "no" to single-use plastics such as straws and plastic bags; reducing my overall trash by opting for less-packaged products; bringing reusable bags for all shopping - not just for groceries; and always taking my own mug for coffee.
Donna Goggin Patel is an attorney, member of Summit's Environmental Commission, and a founding member of GreenSummitNJ.org
By Adam Straight
I attended the Climate Reality presentation on Jan. 10, and found it to be an extremely effective means of educating and engaging citizens at the local level. It is inspiring that individuals are willing to devote personal time and resources to advance the discussion and educate the public on the environmental crisis. There are so many daunting climate issues that must be addressed simultaneously, and understanding how to help as an individual can seem overwhelming and even futile.
But the Climate Reality presentation reinforces that we can actually do a tremendous amount as individuals. Here are a few examples of small changes that have a massive benefit for the planet:
1) Eat less meat and dairy, especially red meat. When you do eat meat, choose the best quality you can, as it’s most likely healthier for you and the environment. Try meat alternatives like Beyond Meat; in many recipes you will have a hard time telling the difference.
2) Support clean energy at home by signing up for renewable energy supply with your utility or a third party supplier. Renewable energy customers often save money or pay only a few extra dollars per month while benefitting the environment.
3) Support politicians who are serious about addressing the climate crisis, and speak out against those who are not. Find out what your representative believes today and let them know that a livable world and life-sustaining environment are important to you. Make sure to find out what your community is doing to benefit the environment and lobby for more!
4) Switch to a hybrid or an electric vehicle if you can; there are generous state and federal ($7,500) tax credits available. Otherwise, opt for a vehicle with the best fuel-efficiency possible.
5) Reduce waste and especially plastics by bringing your own bags and containers to stores and restaurants.
6) Talk with your friends, family and co-workers about warming temperatures, and investigate ways to get more involved in ensuring a healthy environment for future generations.
Adam Straight is Senior Manager for Eagle Creek Renewable Energy and a graduate of Bucknell.
By Marian Glenn
"Climate reality" has battered many parts of the United States in 2017: downpours flooded the Gulf Coast, and fire scorched California as prelude to torrential rain and deadly mudslides. In New Jersey and much of the nation, "climate reality" arrived in early 2018 as a severe arctic freeze.
The Climate Reality presentation by Ridge Kennedy at MONDO in Summit (Jan. 10, '18) helped us understand the broader context for the intense cold we've recently experienced on a planet beset by global warming. It's the swan song of fossil fuels, which provide 80% of the world’s energy, and the last squeeze of extraction is creating more intense pollution than ever before: methane leaks from fracking, ocean oil spills, and mountaintop destruction. There’s no way out of this without rapidly ramping up our carbon-free energy sources.
The good news is that the markets for wind and solar energy are strong, despite the inertia of industrial and transportation systems built on fossil fuels. But we must also deal with their legacy: entrenched habits of "use and toss" plastics, chemically-dependent agriculture, and over-exploited fisheries, which are disrupting ocean ecology, as climate change is disrupting human ecology. We are all in this together, but the onus is on us who have become wealthy through abundant fossil fuels, to correct the unintended consequences in the unbalanced world we have created.
Marian Glenn is Chair of the Rahway River Watershed Association and retired Professor of Biology at Seton Hall University