Reinventing Power: America’s Renewable Energy Boom

Power County Wind Farm

As part of the environmental film series, the new documentary Reinventing Power: America’s Renewable Energy Boom will be shown THIS Thursday (11/6) at 6pm in the West Chester University Sykes theater. The documentary “tells the backstory of clean energy from innovation to installation”.

The film will focus on clean energy, but will also cover other themes such as job security, innovation, community benefits, workforce diversity, and much more. If you plan on attending the event, or if you would like to learn more about clean energy, let’s brush up on some fast facts about renewable energy!

Clean Economy

Many people are worried about the cost of switching to clean energy – but actually, in many areas, renewable energy is cheaper than coal and fracked gas (Lazard). Also, the costs of wind and solar power are dropping rapidly.

  • Since 2009, the price of solar has dropped 85%, and the price of wind power is down 66% (CleanTechnica)
  • Solar power is now cheaper than the current cost of utility-provided electricity in 42 of our nation’s 50 biggest cities and in nearly half of all states

People also worry that converting to clean energy will take away jobs from workers in the coal and gas industries. However, there is a predicted 108% growth in wind turbine technician jobs from 2014 to 2024, the largest growth rate of any occupation in the country and double the rate of the second fastest-growing job (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Not only does clean energy create jobs, clean energy jobs can be created anywhere!

Clean Health

A major reason we should convert to clean energy is because fossil fuels pollute our air and water. Large populations of people are impacted by pollution due to fossil fuels, especially in areas of low-income or in communities of color. Once we switch to clean energy, everyone will benefit from cleaner air and water.

  • The switch to clean, renewable energy sources like wind and solar has already prevented 12,700 premature deaths from fossil fuel pollution in the United States in this past decade (Nature)
  • Replacing fossil fuel vehicles with electric vehicles and clean transportation could prevent 10,000 asthma attacks annually (Environment California)

Clean Reliability

Our current sources of energy aren’t always reliable. Coal, fracked gas, and nuclear power fluctuate rapidly in price. Many power plants are decades old, and are starting to become a liability in the industry. Something else to worry about? Coal, fracked gas, and nuclear may fail during heat waves because they require so much water to manufacture. And with climate change on the rise, we will be seeing more extreme weather, and perhaps hotter summer. But when we make the switch, we will be working with much more reliable power.

  • In extreme weather events, like a hurricane, renewables are resilient. During Hurricane Sandy, for example, solar panels both weathered the storm and quickly repowered damaged areas (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Even for other uses of energy, like transportation, renewables come out on top on reliability. For example, electric vehicles require far less maintenance than fossil fuel vehicles, and their drivers avoid volatile gasoline prices (Department of Energy)
  • Emerging resources like energy storage, demand response technologies, and new transmission will create a more flexible energy system to produce even greater amounts of renewable energy

If you’d like to learn even more about clean energy, and how we’re going to get to 100% clean, please join us for the film tomorrow! Again, it is Thursday 11/6 at West Chester University in the Sykes Theater, at 6pm. And here is a quick trailer of the documentary:

For more info, please visit reinventingpowerfilm.org

Study finds that planting trees would be the most effective method to combat climate change

A study led by researchers at ETH Zurich found that forest restoration is our best bet for combating climate change. The study used earth system models to predict how much trees we could plant globally, and how much carbon those trees could store. It turns out that we have enough space for at least 0.9 billion hectares of more trees! If those new forests reached maturity, they would store 205 gigatonnes of carbon – that’s two thirds of the carbon generated by humans since the industrial revolution.

What’s great about this restoration approach is that there are so many benefits. Planting trees requires no new technology or industry, and we get to surround ourselves with more nature. Afforestation also creates more habitat for our furry friends. Habitat loss is one of the leading causes of species loss.

Our results highlight the opportunity of climate change mitigation through tree restoration but also the urgent need for action.

“The global tree restoration potential” Bastin et al

The study also found that more than 50% of the tree restoration potential can be found in only six countries: Russia, United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil, and China. This stresses the important responsibility of some of the world’s leading economies, including the US.

So where do we go from here? The report suggests that “we need better country-level forest accounting, which is critical for effective management and restoration strategies.”

This places ecosystem restoration as the most effective solution at our disposal to mitigate climate change.

“The global tree restoration potential” Bastin et al

“Climate Action and Today’s Youth”

This very interesting forum at West Chester University was organized and moderated by West Chester Green Team summer interns (and West Chester University students) Kara Thorpe and Paige Vermeulen. Panelists were Isaac Harte (Delaware Valley Friends School), Will Bradley (Westtown School), and Sam Silverman (also a WCU student, and coordinator of the WCU Sunrise Hub).

The audience of about 20 first viewed the 11-minute video of a 2018 TED talk by Greta Thunberg, the Swedish student then age 15 who started the worldwide school strike for climate movement. Her intensity and clearheadedness were most impressive. “The climate crisis has already been solved,” she said: we know the facts, but don’t act on them. “The one thing we need more than hope is action.”

The moderators asked a series of questions for the panel, then turned to the audience for discussion.

Why do Americans just carry on as before? In a word, money: many politicians receive financial incentive to deny climate change. Also: many Americans do not yet feel much impact, have more existential issues in their lives, and are often confused by lies. From the audience: we are trapped by convenience, also by discouragement that the problem is too vast to deal with.

What are the barriers between leaders and action? From the panel: it should not be a political question; some politicians are talking about it but many are scared to speak. The “sponsors” rule as usual. From the audience: the youth strike did empower the young; the young have a credibility that seems more reliable than past alarms. The 2018 IPCC report sounded a real and urgent alarm. The non-binding Green New Deal sets out holistic working goals for 100% green energy by 2050 along with the jobs, sustainable industry, and economic equity that can support it.

Is the Green New Deal too ambitious? From the panel: parts of it, maybe; but this is an existential crisis and we do need to do everything at once. From the audience: the GND should include stopping pesticide use, which threatens the environment and our food supply.

Should dealing with the wage gap really be part of the GND? The panel thought yes: wage justice is part of building a better America.

More comments: there is also a water crisis. Lack of education is also a crisis. Earth Uprising, of pre-college students, launches June 14. The Green Schools Alliance encourages schools to commit to 100%. We need to make clear how people can support our efforts. Greta Thunberg effectively dismisses non-science and uses guilt as a motivator. Harrisburg is “black with coal, oil and gas.” The Green New Deal, given the broad crisis, is “ridiculously moderate.”

Displays in the lobby attracted discussion afterwards. Our community needs more events like this, stressing the role of the young in their own future!

Climate action and today’s youth, May 23

Thursday, May 23, 6:30 p.m. displays, 7:00 program: Video of Greta Thunberg, Swedish high schooler who became a world phenomenon by launching a students’ strike for solving the climate crisis, plus a panel of students discussing the video and the Green New Deal movement.

Room 101, Business and Public Management Center, 50 Sharpless St., West Chester 19382. Park across the street in Sharpless Parking Garage. All welcome.

Doors open at 6:30 so come then for environmental and community group exhibits. No refreshments this time but you can fill up your refillable water bottles.

Program presented by the West Chester Green Team, which includes Chester County Citizens for Climate Protection, Ready for 100, Plastic-Free Please, and Don’t Spray Me!

This is the second in the Green Team’s hot button environmental series, addressing issues at the forefront of people’s thinking at this time in our history.

More info about the program: karamarie3@icloud.com

About the Green Team: https://wcgreenteam.wordpress.com/

Climate Change Makes Me Sick!

Physicians for Social Responsibility, 4/13/16

How does climate change increase Insect-borne diseases?

mosquitoes-postcard Mosquitoes carry infectious pathogens and transmit them to humans via biting. As the Earth warms due to climate change, more regions can potentially support disease-bearing mosquitoes.

The increase in heat and humidity boosts mosquitoes’ reproduction rates, lengthens their breeding season, makes mosquitoes bite more, and speeds the development of the disease-causing agents they carry (bacteria and viruses) to an infectious state….

read more at Physicians for Social Responsibility