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Category: Global Warming

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Living Sustainably, Since We May Soon Have N0 Choice

Sustainable Living

We’ve discussed how to live sustainably on this blog plenty of times – just check out the following links to see what I mean:

However, we’ve really only mentioned the ‘Why’ to this question a couple of times, so this week we’ll dig a little deeper on why we recommend working and living sustainably, and just what it means to do so.

What is Living “Sustainably”?

To learn more about this movement and where it first began, we consult the help of UNICEF to explain what sustainable development looks like and how we can achieve it. Check out the link, here: https://www.unicefusa.org/stories/guide-sustainable-living/35821.

The most simple definition I can think of is that ‘Living Sustainably’ involves consuming as little energy via fossil fuels as possible, to undergo your normal daily routines (I specifically mention fossil fuels here because if you use a renewable energy source such as wind, solar, or hydro-power, you can still live sustainably even if you consume a lot of energy).

Why Live Sustainably?

Climate change, climate change, climate change! If you haven’t heard this phrase by now, you must be living in a hole, because newsrooms, science labs, classrooms, and the workplace – have all been inundated with this phrase and the insundry implications that accompany it. Take a look at our previous blog posts on the subject to get an idea of what Climate Change is, and why it’s occurring: https://suntexllc.com/?s=climate+change.

Living Sustainably is Cheaper

Though I’ve worked in green energy for a few years now because of my own personal desires to “make the world a better place,” most people choose to ‘Go Green’ because it’s actually cheaper for them financially! How is this possible? Read the following article to see why, however in many times the simple answer is that you’re using less, and choosing a more efficient means of producing energy for consumption when you do – Eco Friendly Home Improvements.

SustainablyLiving Sustainably is Greener

Of course, as I already mentioned, even if you’re a traazillionaire, and your goals do not include saving money, living sustainably is much greener, and therefore healthier for the environment. By using fewer fossil fuels, or using fossil fuels more sustainably, you’re actually reducing your own carbon footprint, thereby mitigating some of the greenhouse gases and other types of pollution in the environment, all on your own!

How can you measure your own carbon footprint? For the answer to that question, we turn to Nature.org to help us out: Calculating Your Carbon Footprint.

Living Sustainably is Cooler

While I don’t always adhere to the latest trends, I do think it’s important to note that one common reason why people may paint the exterior of their homes, or adorn more and more Christmas lights in their display each year is the idea of “keeping up with the Joneses.” Understandably, this thought might just make you cringe a little – after all, we’re all unique individuals living our own lives, right? Of course it can be a bad thing, if it leads to debt or buying things you don’t need – check out the following article to see what I mean: Keeping Up with the Joneses is a Terrible Pursuit.

However this psychological phenomenon is something we are all guilty of to an extent, and while it can have some negative implications, it’s not always a bad thing. The following article explores where this phrase came from, and what it really means: How the Jones Effect Can Help Brands Better Understand Consumers.

Particularly as it pertains to not buying material goods, but living sustainably and minimally, this trend is one that can be helpful for your pocketbook, as well as de-cluttering your space and mind (see Marie Kondo’s method of de-cluttering your home and your life: https://konmari.com/about-the-konmari-method/), so I for one hope this trend remains for a long time, so that hopefully, we won’t be forced to live sustainably by climate change.

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Climate Change: Oh No! What on Literal Earth Are We Going to Do Now?

ClimatePerhaps you’ve heard this phrase – in particular if you’ve been following this blog I would hope you’ve heard the words “climate change” at least a time or two (see previous blogs, here: https://suntexllc.com/?s=climate+change). Maybe you even have an idea about what it is, or what it will mean for your personal future and the future of those around you. However it’s important to note that this isn’t just a buzz word designed to increase your blood pressure, and it’s not something we can just sweep under the rug either. Climate change is here, and it will get worse before it gets better.

There are lots of ways to determine that climate change is happening – from the flooding experienced all over the world (see London in 2015, https://www.ceh.ac.uk/news-and-media/news/uk-winter-20152016-floods-one-century%E2%80%99s-most-extreme-and-severe-flood-episodes#:~:text=The%20highest%20ever%20recorded%20rainfall,(cubic%20metres%20per%20second)…New York Subways in 2019, https://www.theverge.com/2019/11/21/20976248/mta-floods-test-nyc-subway-climate-change-equipment-flex-gate..Bangladesh, annually, https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20201201-bangladesh-the-devastating-floods-essential-for-life, and the list continues), to raging wild fires that engulfed much of the U.S. (and Australia in 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-50951043) and have devastated several different species of plants and wildlife in the area still recuperating from the last fire season.

Since we’ve discussed these phenomenon in previous blogs, I won’t spend much time focusing on the actual weather effects that climate change is already bringing us each year – instead, I’d like to focus on something that is seemingly much smaller, with a potentially even greater impact: bumble bees.

A few years ago I met someone during my time in the U.S. Peace Corps that kept repeating the phrase, “save the scorpions.” Naturally, I thought she was nuts.

“Scorpions?! Have you ever met a scorpion in real life?! They’re not exactly nice creatures,” I would say, and I think most people would agree we should avoid them at almost all costs. However, having learned a little more about what she was trying to tell us, I understand now what she meant: that human developments can/will/and is already having a devastating impact to many different species, and whether or not we even know what these species do to benefit the earth, we might just wipe them out before we ever even learn about them. Hence her chant, “save the scorpions.”

While they’re only marginally better company, I would suggest that “Save the bees” would be my variation of this chant. You probably learned in first grade or so, that bees are pollinators, but what does this really mean? To engage the experts, I navigated to pollinator.org for a little help; here’s what I found:

Climate Change

Birds, bats, bees, butterflies, beetles, and other small mammals that pollinate plants are responsible for bringing us one out of every three bites of food. They also sustain our ecosystems and produce our natural resources by helping plants reproduce.

Pollinating animals travel from plant to plant carrying pollen on their bodies in a vital interaction that allows the transfer of genetic material critical to the reproductive system of most flowering plants – the very plants that

  • bring us countless fruits, vegetables, and nuts,
  • ½ of the world’s oils, fibers and raw materials;
  • prevent soil erosion,
  • and increase carbon sequestration

This nearly invisible ecosystem service is a precious resource that requires attention and support – – and in disturbing evidence found around the globe, is increasingly in jeopardy.” (https://www.pollinator.org/pollinators). The web article outlines exactly what it means to “pollinate,” and why this is so very important to our lifecycle – keep reading on to learn more.

Which brings us to the main point of this article: bumble bees are disappearing, and rapidly. Check out the following USA Today article to learn more about this phenomenon, and which states are feeling the impacts first: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2021/10/14/american-bumble-bees-disappeared-8-states-face-extinction/8448637002/.

Some of you may be thinking, “but there are plenty in other states, why not simply migrate them over?” and the answer of course is two-fold: 1) bees only live 28 days (https://www.gopests.com/how-long-do-bumblebees-live/#:~:text=The%20Bumblebee’s%20Lifespan&text=Like%20all%20bees%2C%20bumblebees%20don,their%20queen%20can%20last%20longer.)!

So, if you want to help them move to a new home, you’d better be quick about it because they’re not exactly able to wait for the close of escrow before they take to their new hive. 2) the issue is not that they simply don’t enjoy living here, but that they no longer can live in these areas – thanks to rising temperatures (or natural disasters like fires and floods), and in large part thanks to unsustainable fertilizers damaging the environments in which they live.

Maybe it sounds alarmist, but if we run out of bumblebees, we may run out of food, and while I too enjoy the occasional processed food, there won’t be anything at all to process if the bumblebees are all gone. What will you do to make sure the bumblebees stay? Please share your experience in the comments below – you may be our last hope to “Save the Bees!”

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Texas Senate: Following the Bills, Where are we Now?

If you’re an avid reader of this blog, you’ve likely been following along as we attempted to analyze the events of the Texas winter storm in February, and what has been done to mitigate this from happening again in the future. If you need a quick refresher, feel free to check out the following links:

Texas SenateHaving read these posts, as well as a myriad of other news reports from February and the months following, you probably already know two main things: 1) that this winter storm was (hopefully) a once a decade type storm, though the intensity of winter storms, hurricanes, and other weather patterns may continue to intensify as the planet temperature continues to heat up; and 2) that the power outages, and resulting deaths from the winter storms, could have been prevented had the Texas grid been better prepared.

So what’s the government response to this issue?

“Texas natural gas companies will not be “weatherized” for the upcoming winter. Senators say they’re angry over the slow timetable and loopholes that allow the companies to opt out of improvements But those lawmakers OK’d the loophole in the law.” https://www.texastribune.org/2021/09/28/texas-power-grid-loophole/.

Unfortunately, very little is the answer. Weatherizing the grid for winter is expensive, especially when it’s already prepared to handle the extreme heat temperatures we see in the summer time, and thus the major issue Texans face is mitigated since we’re able to keep the air-conditioner on even in the sweltering temps of June, July, and August. However it seems that the price of winterizing that same equipment – which cost over 400 people their lives in February (https://www.forbes.com/sites/jemimamcevoy/2021/05/27/report-finds-hundreds-more-died-in-texas-winter-storm-than-state-says/?sh=7b3a86a352cc) – is just too high of a burden for Texas law makers to bear.

Instead, “some of the legislative moves are targeting renewable energy sources, like wind and solar, which experts and some lawmakers say seems more like a way to protect oil and gas interests than fix problems with the state’s beleaguered power grid” (https://www.texastribune.org/2021/04/19/texas-renewable-energy-oil-gas/).

Senate Bill 3, which was enacted and signed into law in June 2021, reads as follows (as it pertains to natural gas regulation and weatherization, for the full text of the bill, check out the following page, https://capitol.texas.gov/BillLookup/Text.aspx?LegSess=87R&Bill=SB3): 

Texas Congressional Bills

“Sec. 81.073. CRITICAL NATURAL GAS FACILITIES AND ENTITIES. (a) The commission shall collaborate with the Public Utility Commission of Texas to adopt rules to establish a process to designate certain natural gas facilities and entities associated with providing natural gas in this state as critical customers or critical gas suppliers during energy emergencies. (b) The rules must:

(1) establish criteria for designating persons who own or operate a facility under the jurisdiction of the commission under Section 81.051(a) or engage in an activity under the jurisdiction of the commission under Section 81.051(a) who must provide critical customer and critical gas supply information, as defined by the commission, to the entities described by Section 38.074(b)(1), Utilities Code;

(2) consider essential operational elements when defining critical customer designations and critical gas supply information for the purposes of Subdivision (1), including natural gas production, processing, and transportation, related produced water handling and disposal facilities, and the delivery of natural gas to generators of electric energy; and

(3) require that only facilities and entities that are prepared to operate during a weather emergency may be designated as a critical customer under this section.”

Senate bill 3 (SB3) also states:

Texas Senate Chambers“(e) The commission may submit additional [subsequent] weather emergency preparedness reports if the commission finds that significant changes to weatherization techniques have occurred or are necessary to protect consumers or vital services, or if there have been changes to statutes or rules relating to weatherization requirements. A report under this subsection must be submitted not later than:

(1) March 1 for a summer weather emergency preparedness report; and

(2) September 1 for a winter weather emergency preparedness report.”

Full text for SB3 here: https://capitol.texas.gov/BillLookup/Text.aspx?LegSess=87R&Bill=SB3

Alas, natural gas and retail energy providers must provide reports on weatherization and energy generation, however there is still no mandate to actually enact said practices to protect the people of Texas. That decision will still be left to appointed individuals to oversee said reports and decide the appropriate course, much like they did in February – hopefully in the future, these appointed people will make a different decision about what’s needed to properly weatherize the grid ahead of any winter storms.

Hopefully you’re in an area deemed “critical” so that you may turn on your heat if temperatures should dip below freezing and remain there for days at a time.

Hopefully, we will not see massive outages and resulting deaths.

Hopefully, someone will do something this time, before it’s too late to do anything at all.

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Climate Change & the Powerful Role Glaciers play in Cooling our Planet

Glacier National Park

Jackson Glacier, Glacier National Park

I’ve heard before that glaciers are essential in our planet’s cooling cycle, however to be honest I wasn’t sure exactly why or how it worked. Thankfully, there is plenty of information online to help out, and the scientists over at USGS.gov seem up to the task. Check out their information on glaciers and the “hydrological” cycle, here: https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/glaciers-and-icecaps?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects.

This article helps to answer questions such as:

Glacier National Park

Jackson Glacier over time, Glacier National Park

What is a glacier?

“In a way, glaciers are just frozen rivers of ice flowing downhill. Glaciers begin life as snowflakes. When the snowfall in an area far exceeds the melting that occurs during summer, glaciers start to form. The weight of the accumulated snow compresses the fallen snow into ice.”

How do Glaciers impact global sea levels?

“Glaciers store about 69% of the world’s freshwater, and if all land ice melted the seas would rise about 230 feet¹ (70 meters)(NSIDC).”

And perhaps most importantly: How do glaciers impact the earth with regard to climate change?

Glacier Facts

For that answer, we navigate to another link within the ‘Related Science’ tab on the same site, and find that “Mountain glaciers are excellent monitors of climate change; the worldwide shrinkage of mountain glaciers is thought to be caused by a combination of a temperature increase since the Little Ice Age, which ended in the latter half of the 19th century, and increased greenhouse-gas emissions” (https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/ice-snow-and-glaciers-and-water-cycle?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects).

As to the how, the same article from usgs.gov had this to say about it, “Just because water in an ice cap or glacier is not moving does not mean that it does not have a direct effect on other aspects of the water cycle and the weather. Ice is very white, and since white reflects sunlight (and thus, heat), large ice fields can determine weather patterns. Air temperatures can be higher a mile above ice caps than at the surface, and wind patterns, which affect weather systems, can be dramatic around ice-covered landscapes” (https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/ice-snow-and-glaciers-and-water-cycle?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects).

Please do give this link a quick read, since it’s an excellent source of information and even contains a reference to the Grinnell Glacier inside of Glacier National Park. See image above, or click on the direct link to read more about how Glaciers impact Climate Change.

The Absolute Beauty of Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

I honestly thought I would have to travel to Alaska to ever see a glacier, however I now know that’s not quite true. Even while the world seems to have turned upside-down, and things have seemed pretty dire during this pandemic “season” – which has lasted over two years now, even as we head into another fall – I can’t help but feel grateful for the blessings in my life, that I’m reminded of every time I step out into nature.

I am grateful to be able to take the last few weeks of August off from work to do some site seeing; I’m grateful that whether it be a dining room table or a campfire, we’re able to fill it with food to eat; and I’m grateful that in my lifetime, I was able to go to Glacier National Park to see the beautiful sites – as well as the main attraction, Glaciers.

Glacier National Park

The weather in Montana had already turned colder than the day we arrived, however we were also climbing in elevation again, so we had to stop by the local outdoor-outfitters shop and pick up some snow gear to make sure we made it through the night. I guess in hindsight, not realizing that a park with Glaciers year-round would be cold, was in fact, pretty dumb! Alas, we survived to tell the tale, and warn all of you camping and glamping advocates to layer up when visiting Glacier National Park (https://www.nps.gov/glac/index.htm)!

Camping Glacier National Park

Camping with the Family in Glacier National Park

So when we finally started setting up camp – putting down the tarp & tent in the driest location, then setting it up and adding the rain-protector over it; building up our “to-go” kitchen while being mindful of bears; and adding our warmest bedding within the tent – we were just happy it was no longer raining. Since we were pretty cold and tired from all of the travel and camp tear down, we heated up some pre-made tortilla soup (don’t tell my mother I did not make it from scratch), and bundled up as we watched the sun go down over the edge of the mountains.

Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park

Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park

“Surely we’ll see a bear here!” I thought, “…just hopefully not too close”. From time to time all week I would joke that I was going to leave out a little honey to see if they came – to both my husband and my in-laws fear. Alas, I do not want to end up in the news so of course I did not follow through with this plan, however given my strong desire to see wildlife I was definitely on the lookout all week. We stayed in the Apgar Campground near McDonald lake – which certainly did not disappoint. I mean, look at these pictures (see photos on the right and below post)!

Glacier National Park

Apgar Campground, Glacier National Park

The hikes were incredible as well – trekking through the man-made paths through dense pine trees that smelled fresh and hopeful – and trying to keep Earl in check so he didn’t chase any wildlife to his demise. Though we went in August the air was frigid cold most of the time we were there, however it would warm up just enough mid-day to sweat a little so you felt like you had earned your shower each (or every other) night.

On the day we decided to drive across the park to see the whole thing (an hour-long drive into a cloud forest, on top of the mountain range), we finally saw our first Glacier! While driving the “Going-to-the-Sun Road”, through the Rocky Mountain mountains, there is a trail you can take to see one of the closest Glaciers to the road, named Jackson Glacier.

Admittedly, It was somewhat difficult to decipher it from the mountains around it, however it had a much smoother top and looked like it was covered in dense snow, in the middle of August (see photo below)! The sad truth is that this Glacier, among many others in North America (and all over the world), is shrinking – just check out the excerpt below from the hike to see a little bit about the history of this Glacier.

Glacier National Park

Jackson Glacier, Glacier National Park

There’s a lot more to unpack within that statement, so please check out tomorrow’s blog post (https://suntexllc.com/climate-change-the-powerful-role-glaciers-play-in-cooling-our-planet/) to learn more about Glaciers and the role they play in Climate Change.

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On the Road Again…Next Stop, Climate Change

Utah

Now, I’ve only been to Utah a handful of times – once when I was moving to Seattle in my twenties, and this time during our road trip, when going back to visit family – but I have to say, the views are honestly unlike anywhere I’ve ever seen. The red-rocky oasis with mountains, steep plateaus, desert flora and fauna is truly breathtaking, and I would recommend a trip to Utah at least once in your lifetime to truly expand your imagination.

We stopped a few times along the road, even though we were short on time, because we just couldn’t wait to take in the views any longer. Check out what I mean in the photos featured below – Benny and Earl of course scared us to death with their fearless trips to the edge of the mountains, but thankfully we wall survived, and got a nice lunch in too. Utah

We were tempted to stop in Moab on the way to Salt Lake City, and check out the infamous Arches National Park (https://www.nps.gov/arch/index.htm), but tragically, we decided to visit another day when the sky wasn’t filled with smoke from the wildfires in the West.

While I have not so far, nor will I focus much time on the impacts of climate change that changed this journey today from the one we took just a few years ago – traversing the same path – it would be imprudent not to spend some time discussing it here.

Utah

In each state we saw after leaving New Mexico (in order: Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Wyoming, and then back to Colorado), there was at least some part of our journey that was shrouded by smoke-filled skies. Yes, America, we have a “smoke” season now, and it occurs in the west from June-August. This is certainly not to say that this problem was uniquely curated by the states they occur in, however it is happening with more frequency and devastation each year (https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-wildfires).

It’s fair to also note here that we also saw evidence of wildfires that were deemed ‘good’ and were a naturally reoccurring phenomenon of Yellowstone National Park, helping to re-grow the forest and diversify plant life each year (check out more about this process here: https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/nature/fire.htm). However given the statistics on naturally occurring vs man-made fires, I think it’s a fair assumption that the smoke we saw was from near-by fires in California and Montana. A quote I found particularly interesting was this one, from the National Geographic website:

Climate Change

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/wildfires

UtahThe reason I mention this here, was that we agreed we should probably come back to visit Moab (I mean seriously, check it out: https://www.discovermoab.com/) on another National Parks tour in the future – perhaps in June – when we can visit our friends in California and hit up little-known areas like Yosemite National Park (https://www.nps.gov/yose/index.htm), Joshua Tree National Park (https://www.nps.gov/jotr/index.htm), or Tahoe National Forest (https://www.fs.usda.gov/tahoe). Of course, the much larger and scarier implication is that we also need to do everything we can to tackle the major problem that is climate change, which is undeniably hitting our shores. Climate change, more than any other factor, is my main drive in learning about solar, however I am in strong support of any type of energy-saving and/or greenhouse-gas-emission-reducing technique used! This doesn’t imply perfection, simply a reduction in the amount or type of energy we consume, and while that may be a scary concept to some, the really clever and creative among us have already started to develop smarter ways to thrive. All we have to do, is install it.

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Nature vs. Nurture: Earth’s Greatest Hero

We’ve focused a lot on the past two weeks on historical energy heroes – from inventors, to activists, to authors, and political figures but in reality there is one major energy component that is constantly working on maintaining homeostasis for our planet, and that is the planet itself! The science behind how our earth is constantly regulating it’s own temperature, or removing CO2 from the atmosphere through photosynthesis, or how decomposition brings nutrients back to earth so that new plants can grow is nothing short of remarkable.

You’ve likely heard that trees produce oxygen, but how does it work? An article from National Geographic describes it as follows: “Trees—all plants, in fact—use the energy of sunlight, and through the process of photosynthesis they take carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air and water from the ground. In the process of converting it into wood they release oxygen into the air. In addition to the CO2 that trees capture, they also help soil capture significant amounts of carbon” (https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/how-to-erase-100-years-carbon-emissions-plant-trees#:~:text=Carbon%2Deating%20trees,release%20oxygen%20into%20the%20air). There is a lot to be gained from even planting just one tree in your own back yard, and as it grows and grows it will continue to produce oxygen, contributing to the planet’s supply.

Alternatively, you may have heard the saying that the amazon rainforest produces 20% of the worlds oxygen, however this is a myth! While photosynthesis in plants does consume CO2 and produce oxygen as a byproduct, once the tree dies and decomposes, the process releases CO2 back into the air. According to a Newsweek article published in 2019, James Randerson from the University of California, Irvine, explains the key problems in deforestation as follows: “‘Deforestation and fire-driven forest degradation affect the carbon cycle in two ways. First, there is a direct release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in the conversion process. Second, the loss of forest reduces the ability of the forest as a whole to absorb carbon. More forest fires in the Amazon will accelerate the buildup of greenhouse gases and we will have higher levels of global warming’” (https://www.newsweek.com/how-much-oxygen-amazon-rain-forest-1456274). While both points in his statement are alarming, the second portion is the key – forests, and other plants/bushes/etc, have a unique ability to absorb large amounts of carbon, and in a healthy, growing plant, it will continue to do so over the lifespan of the plant. So, if we burned down all of the trees in the world, we would not lose as much oxygen, as we would gain carbon since it’s no longer being eliminated by photosynthesis.

I won’t even begin to pretend that I understand Earth’s wind cycles and ocean currents, however I’ve come across some very interesting articles on natural planet heating and cooling while trying to learn more about these phenomenon – check them out below!

From volcano ash/sulfur entering the stratosphere and cooling the planet, to El Niño producing rain in the northern hemisphere, there are forces at work in helping to keep the planet’s temperature somewhat consistent. The problem is that these forces are almost negligible in the face of burning fossil fuels, hence the need to offset your carbon footprint as much as possible!

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Climate Change: Activists and Architects, Part 3

Happy Saint Patty’s Day! I hope you’re wearing green and celebrating in style.

Today we’ll discuss the last 50 years of activism in environmentalism – after Earth day and the National Parks were founded, after books like My First Summer in the Sierra or the Silent Spring were published to promote environmental conservation or to prevent companies from dumping harmful pollutants into our drinking water – what happened next? 

In 1988, due to record heat waves, devastating droughts, and new information about global warming that was already impacting our way of life, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was founded. Since the start, the IPCC has provided robust reporting and methodologies on measuring global warming and it’s impact on an ecological, scientific, political, social, and economic level. Today, the IPCC “is a panel of 195 member countries” and their latest report provided the science needed to create the Paris Climate Agreement (https://www.ipcc.ch/documentation/). While this is an impressive body of work, it’s not the only thing countries have been doing to secure a better future. The United Nations (UN), has held twelve major international conferences since the first one which was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992, with the purpose of committing “Governments to address urgently some of the most pressing problems facing the world today” (https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/milestones/unced). These conferences bring together international leadership as well as Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) with the goal of identifying sustainable development all over the world – so it’s not only collecting knowledge on how to slow global warming, but also on how best to tackle development in the near future to mitigate our collective carbon footprint world-wide.

Beyond governmental bodies, “student groups in the US and later the UK and around the world began pressuring universities to divest from fossil fuels” (https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/important-moments-climate-history-in-photos/), and they were having some real-world impact, because “by 2014, 837 institutions and individual investors had committed to divestment,” (see original link, along with additional source from the Guardian, here: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/08/fossil-fuel-divestment-a-brief-history). According to this same link, climate change activist have cropped up all over the world – from the largest nations forming landmark agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol in order to “mandate the reduction of greenhouse gases,” to smaller nations such as the “Pacific Climate Warriors from the Marshall Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu, Tokelau, and the Solomon Islands [whom] joined a flotilla blocking boats using the Newcastle coal port in Australia — to highlight the role of Australian coal exports in warming the planet and impacting their lives” to art in Venice and even Fashion week in London (https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/important-moments-climate-history-in-photos/). It seems as though climate change activism is more prolific globally than I’d previously thought! And while there are certainly tons of activists and scientists that deserve recognition, one name in particular stands out among the crowd – Greta Thunberg – whom at the age of fifteen, “went on her first school strike, sitting alone outside the Swedish parliament to protest inaction on the climate crisis” (https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/important-moments-climate-history-in-photos/). She’s certainly made a name for herself in this space, as students around the world also began taking part in the strike, and since then, according to the same link, she “has been joined by the likes of Vanessa Nakate in Uganda, Aditya Mukarji in India, Alexandria Villaseñor in the US, and tens of thousands of others.” For a few more examples of some of today’s youngest global climate leaders, check out the following link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/5-youth-climate-activists-leading-climate-fight-earth-day which outlines how some celebrated Earth Day 2020, even amid the global pandemic!

Though it’s certainly not inclusive of everyone in this field, this long list of environmental activists is truly an inspiration to anyone who has thought of getting involved but wasn’t sure how, or whether their contribution might actually make a difference. Whether you’re conducting a neighborhood cleanup, advocating for protected lands to become a national park, convening with other global leaders to discuss the science behind climate change, or adding solar to your rooftop – your contributions are notable, and greatly appreciated. What are some other ways we could help reduce our carbon footprints? Only time and innovation will tell. 

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Climate Change: Activists and Architects

Global Warming is a buzzword you’ve likely heard before, and may even have an opinion on, but what do we really know about it? Where did it come from, and what does it mean?

According to Global Citizen, the underlying cause of global warming – “the greenhouse effect” – was published in 1965 by “scientists on the US President’s Advisory Committee”, during Lyndon B Johnson’s presidential term, however “it wasn’t until 1975 that the term “global warming” was coined by geoscientist Wallace Broecker – and it took years before the issue reached mainstream understanding” (https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/important-moments-climate-history-in-photos/). For the full report, which covers pollution of air, water, and soil, check it out here: https://www.eenews.net/assets/2019/01/11/document_cw_01.pdf, however if you’re more interested in the information regarding carbon dioxide specifically, see here instead: http://www.climatefiles.com/climate-change-evidence/presidents-report-atmospher-carbon-dioxide/#:~:text=%E2%80%9CRestoring%20the%20Quality%20of%20Our,role%20in%20addressing%20the%20future. In this report, scientists outline how fossil fuel extraction has led to an increase in Carbon Dioxide in the lower and upper sections of the atmosphere, beyond what nature can naturally filter out with rain and trees, and since, according to the report, “carbon dioxide is nearly transparent to visible light, but it is a strong absorber and back radiator of infrared radiation…an increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide could act, much like the glass in a greenhouse, to raise the temperature of the lower air” (page 118, “Restoring the Quality of Our Environment” Report). Hence, the initial foundation for the discovery of “Global Warming” was born. In 1975, in a paper called “Climatic Change: Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?” Wallace Broecker mapped out the effects humans were having by emitting more and more CO2, and while some of his initial findings were off, “Right on cue in 1976, temperatures started ascending, and have continued since then pretty much along the trajectory Broecker laid out” (https://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2019/02/19/wallace-broecker-early-prophet-of-climate-change/).

Even though Broecker is thought of as the first to publish the phrase “global warming,” he is certainly not the first person concerned with the problem of pollution. In 1962 Rachel Carson published the “Silent Spring” in which she outlined the toxic pollution in our air and water due to pesticides, just as several environmental concerns had begun to take center stage as oil spills threatened marine life and rivers that fed city drinking water plants caught fire. Thus, in early 1970, President Richard Nixon “sent to Congress a plan to consolidate many environmental responsibilities of the federal government under one agency, a new Environmental Protection Agency” and the EPA was born (https://www.epa.gov/history/origins-epa).

While these findings are only about 50 years old, it’s important to keep in mind that thanks to innovation, research, activism, and technology, new information about is constantly coming to light. If you’re curious to learn more, stay tuned.

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What To Do If Your Pipes Burst

Hopefully none of you will need this advice, but given what we’ve seen so far during this Texas snowstorm, it’s likely some of you will – check out the following links for what to do to prevent your pipes from freezing/bursting in this weather, and what to do if your pipes do break!

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