admin | Environmental Watch http://www.environmental-watch.com Keeping an eye on the environment Wed, 17 Jan 2018 15:00:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.2 http://www.environmental-watch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/EW-Logo-400x400-150x150.jpg admin | Environmental Watch http://www.environmental-watch.com 32 32 51908374 Al Gore: “Some Signs Of Progress” Visible In Fight Against Climate Change http://www.environmental-watch.com/2018/01/17/al-gore-some-signs-of-progress-visible-in-fight-against-climate-change/ http://www.environmental-watch.com/2018/01/17/al-gore-some-signs-of-progress-visible-in-fight-against-climate-change/#respond Wed, 17 Jan 2018 15:00:28 +0000 http://www.environmental-watch.com/?p=4197 It was a difficult year for many Americans, and climate change is largely to blame. Between those hit by hurricanes in Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico, and others affected by wildfires in California, there were many who had to deal with hardship brought on by the changing climate. But through it all, one key figure […]

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It was a difficult year for many Americans, and climate change is largely to blame. Between those hit by hurricanes in Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico, and others affected by wildfires in California, there were many who had to deal with hardship brought on by the changing climate. But through it all, one key figure in the climate change conversation remains optimistic.

Al Gore, the former vice president and Democratic presidential nominee whose film, An Inconvenient Truth, thrust climate change into the national conversation, sat down for an interview with USA Today in which he said some “signs of progress” were visible despite the rocky 2017.

Gore, who was at the Palm Springs International Film Festival to screen his new movie, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, said there were plenty of reasons for optimism apparent worldwide. India, for example, is committed to selling only electric vehicles by 2030, and China is beginning a new carbon trading program that will cut pollution. The former VP theorized that 2017’s weather disasters might be remembered as a tipping point that motivated people around the globe to take action.

“We saw it with the marriage equality movement,” Gore said. “We saw it earlier with the civil rights movement. All these movements have bumped along very slowly with an agonizingly slow pace, and then all of a sudden, there’s an inflection, and people say, ‘Oh, I get it.’ We’re at that point now with efforts to solve the climate crisis.”

There is optimism that the events of 2017 could make a difference, as climate change is harder now to ignore than ever before. Federal scientists say that 2017 was America’s third-hottest year on record, and financial losses stemming from climate disasters exceeded $1 billion for the first time. Gore believes that this new evidence will spark a strong response from the United States and from the world.

“People are connecting the dots on their own,” he said.

Wondering what you can do as an individual to fight climate change? Start with these four green New Year’s resolutions.

Photo: txking / Shutterstock.com

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10 More Cities Join Chicago Climate Charter http://www.environmental-watch.com/2018/01/10/chicago-climate-charter/ http://www.environmental-watch.com/2018/01/10/chicago-climate-charter/#respond Wed, 10 Jan 2018 14:00:40 +0000 http://www.environmental-watch.com/?p=4192 The executive branch of the federal government has been stubborn in its opposition to fighting climate change, but at the local level, many U.S. cities are taking climate matters into their own hands. According to The Hill, 10 more cities have joined Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in signing the Chicago Climate Charter, a pledge to […]

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The executive branch of the federal government has been stubborn in its opposition to fighting climate change, but at the local level, many U.S. cities are taking climate matters into their own hands. According to The Hill, 10 more cities have joined Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in signing the Chicago Climate Charter, a pledge to fight climate change in spite of President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris agreement. There are now 67 cities on board.

“While the Trump administration continues to bury their heads deeper in the sand when it comes to climate change, local leaders are confronting the challenge head-on,” Emanuel said.

Louisville, Ky.; San Jose, Calif.; Saint Paul, Minn.; and Boulder, Colo. were among the new cities joining Chicago’s pledge to reduce its carbon footprint. The Chicago Climate Charter has also been endorsed by the leaders of several major cities outside the United States, including Mexico City, Vancouver, and Paris.

Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris agreement in June. At that time, he argued that the climate commitment was unfair to Americans “at the highest level.” This made the U.S. the only country in the world to oppose the agreement; Nicaragua and Syria, two other notable skeptics, ultimately decided to get on board in late 2017.

Even with Trump opposed, leaders of local governments across America have remained optimistic that they can do their part to combat climate change. Crain’s Chicago Business noted that former President Barack Obama has been a key figure rallying support for this movement. In an event in Chicago earlier this month promoting the Chicago Climate Charter, he opined in a speech that cities, states, businesses and nonprofits are the new faces of American leadership on climate change.

Chicago has been aggressive about leading by example when it comes to climate change. Originally, the hope was that Chicago could be procuring 100 percent renewable energy for its municipal electricity needs by 2025. Emanuel has since shortened that timeline to 2022. Additionally, he’s encouraging local government organizations to use cleaner fuels for diesel trucks and buses.

Photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash

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‘Climate Refugees’ Are a Growing Problem http://www.environmental-watch.com/2018/01/03/climate-refugees-growing-problem/ http://www.environmental-watch.com/2018/01/03/climate-refugees-growing-problem/#respond Wed, 03 Jan 2018 14:00:13 +0000 http://www.environmental-watch.com/?p=4185 Thousands of Americans this year have been forced to flee the local areas and communities they once called home due to extreme weather events. Many had to evacuate Southern California this fall when wildfires struck; before that, residents of Texas and Florida had to leave home in the wake of major hurricanes. According to The […]

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Thousands of Americans this year have been forced to flee the local areas and communities they once called home due to extreme weather events. Many had to evacuate Southern California this fall when wildfires struck; before that, residents of Texas and Florida had to leave home in the wake of major hurricanes.

According to The Conversation, such events raise a major question: What will America, and the rest of the world, do about such climate refugees?

Gulrez Shah Azhar, a Ph.D. candidate at Pardee RAND Graduate School, recently made the argument that countries that have the means should be doing more to protect them. He pointed to climate-forced migration as a trend that’s already displacing many, many people worldwide from their homes—700,000 people have to relocate each year because of desertification in the drylands of Mexico, and thousands more have been forced away from home by cyclones, such as in Tuvalu (in the South Pacific) and Puerto Rico. The United Nations estimated that between 2008 and 2015, weather-related displacement affected an average of 26.4 million people per year. So far, though, very few countries have publicly pledged to help such migrants.

While the global community has been fighting for refugee rights for decades—the Refugee Convention came into being in 1951 and was significantly expanded in 1967—climate refugees are not given the same consideration as those fleeing from war. Azhar argued that perhaps they should be. The Paris climate agreement includes no mentions of climate refugees, in part because such a term would be difficult to precisely define.

There are many short-term actions that could help climate refugees around the world. Azhar advocated for major economic powers such as the United States, China, Russia, India, Australia, and members of the European Union to offer temporary protected status to climate migrants on their soil. Additionally, major international policies like the United Nations refugee conventions could be expanded to better protect those affected by climate issues.

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4 Green New Year’s Resolutions for 2018 http://www.environmental-watch.com/2017/12/27/4-green-new-years-resolutions-2018/ http://www.environmental-watch.com/2017/12/27/4-green-new-years-resolutions-2018/#respond Wed, 27 Dec 2017 14:00:20 +0000 http://www.environmental-watch.com/?p=4180 You’ve probably made New Year’s resolutions before, and maybe you’ve found it hard to follow through. Don’t worry; so have millions of other people. But it’s never too late to try again. If you’re interested in reducing your carbon footprint, try making these New Year’s resolutions for a greener lifestyle. Use public transit to get […]

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You’ve probably made New Year’s resolutions before, and maybe you’ve found it hard to follow through. Don’t worry; so have millions of other people. But it’s never too late to try again. If you’re interested in reducing your carbon footprint, try making these New Year’s resolutions for a greener lifestyle.

Use public transit to get to work

Research has shown that people who commute to work by bus or train makes people happier than driving to work. And it’s not surprising—who gets any joy out of fighting traffic every morning and evening when you can sit back and leave the driving to someone else? If you can’t commute by public transit every day, make a New Year’s resolution to use it one or two days a week to start, and see how it works for you.

Cut back on meat

The World Health Organization has concerns about humankind’s rapidly increasing meat consumption. The environmental impact of factory farming, the cost of feeding animals, and the low yield that meat produces, have got people all over the world rethinking how much meat they eat. If you’re interested in going vegetarian or vegan, there are a lot of delicious recipes available to you (you can find quite a few of them on our Pinterest page). But even if you can’t give up meat entirely, make a New Year’s resolution to start by not eating meat one day a week.

Eat sustainable foods

Some crops, such as avocados and almonds, are incredibly water-intensive and stretch the capacity of drought-ridden states like California to sustain both human drinking water and agricultural needs. The best way to eat sustainably is to eat local. Check out your area’s farmers’ market and support the people who make it possible for you to get your fruit, veggies, and meat and cheese sustainably. Another option is to get involved in a community-supported agriculture program in which you get sustainably grown veggies and fruits delivered to your doorstep.

Give up the coffee pods

Not only are those one-cup pods polluting our landfills, they’re significantly more expensive per cup than making your own coffee in a coffee machine or French press. Even though the manufacturers of the coffee pods say the things are recyclable, very few people actually do put them in the recycling bin. Furthermore, since the pods are made of plastic and aluminum, they are a great deal harder to recycle. Instead of making one-cup servings, why not make a New Year’s resolution to make your morning coffee more sustainable? While you’re at it, you can bring some of that extra coffee with you in your own personal cup in order to save money during the work day.

What New Year’s resolutions are you making to create a greener life? Please share them in the comments!

Photo: Shutterstock

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ExxonMobil Will Release New Report on Impact of Climate Change http://www.environmental-watch.com/2017/12/20/exxonmobil-release-report-impact-climate-change/ Wed, 20 Dec 2017 14:00:08 +0000 http://www.environmental-watch.com/?p=4177 Shareholders at ExxonMobil have long been pressuring the corporation to share its research on how climate change could affect future business, and now it appears they’re getting their way. Reuters reported this week that Exxon will be releasing a detailed report that explores “energy demand sensitivities, implications of two degree Celsius scenarios, and positioning for […]

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Shareholders at ExxonMobil have long been pressuring the corporation to share its research on how climate change could affect future business, and now it appears they’re getting their way. Reuters reported this week that Exxon will be releasing a detailed report that explores “energy demand sensitivities, implications of two degree Celsius scenarios, and positioning for a lower-carbon future.”

Scientists have theorized that between 2000 and 2100, the average temperature worldwide will likely rise by about 2 degrees Celsius, leading the planet to a “tipping point” that will dramatically impact the world’s energy needs. Global climate efforts such as the Paris Agreement aim to stave off such a dire situation, but Exxon has nevertheless been pressured to take a stand in the meantime.

Originally, the board of directors at ExxonMobil opposed making any public statement regarding climate change, but they later buckled to outside pressure. More than 50 people, including both shareholders and climate activists, demanded earlier this year that the company begin producing an annual climate report. At Exxon’s annual shareholder meeting in May, 62 percent backed this demand.

Reactions to ExxonMobil’s announcement have been mixed. On one hand, New York state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli told Reuters that the decision is “a win for shareholders and for the company’s ability to manage risk.”

Meanwhile Tim Smith, who runs shareholder engagement efforts for Walden Asset Management, was less optimistic.

“This is giving no detail,” Smith said. “[Exxon’s statement] needs to be expanded to assure shareowners that they’re responsive to last year’s request.”

Exxon’s report is likely to have long-lasting ripple effects. In the short term, it will curry favor with some of the company’s biggest investors—BlackRock Inc and Vanguard Group are both among the major players that backed the May resolution, and they will be encouraged to see a greater focus on climate.

Down the road, the report will have even more impact, as ExxonMobil is being investigated in both Massachusetts and New York for misleading the public about climate risks. The corporation’s findings will surely shed new light on those cases, which are currently still pending.

Photo: An entrance to ExxonMobil’s corporate headquarters in Irving, Texas. Credit: Katherine Welles / Shutterstock.com

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