Ten Years of Real Change

Chesapeake Climate Action Network has reached its tenth birthday and a lot of progress has been accomplished in this past decade. There have been moratoriums on offshore drilling and the birth of a booming offshore wind economy. Coal plants have been shut down and pipelines have been delayed. We look forward to leading the charge in these crucial next ten years of progress.

 

Continue reading

Friends of CCAN

 

It’s CCAN’s 10th Birthday and all of our supporters are wishing a good tenth. We look forward to growing our network of supporters, friends and fans in the coming decade.

 

Stuart Clarke, Executive Director, Town Creek Foundation

Stuart Clarke and his friends at Town Creek Foundation went above and beyond in wishing CCAN a happy birthday! Watch the video to see their special gift.

Bill McKibben, Author, 350.org founder

Bill McKibben, prolific author and founder of international climate change advocacy group 350.org, has called CCAN “the world’s best regional climate change group.” See what he has to say on the occasion of CCAN’s 10th birthday.

Greenpeace Executive Director Phil Radford

Phil Radford sends CCAN his best wishes in our 10th year.

Congresswoman Donna Edwards

Congresswoman Donna Edwards from Maryland wishes CCAN happy 10 years. Hope to see you at next year’s Polar Bear Plunge, Congresswoman!

Reverend Lennox Yearwood of Hip Hop Caucus

The founder, President and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus encourages CCAN to keep fighting the good fight!

Father Jacek Orzechowski, St. Camillus

Father Jacek wishes CCAN even more success in the next 10 years!

Maryland State Senator Paul Pinsky

Environmental champion Sen. Paul Pinsky congratulates CCAN on 10 years.

Lori Hill, Volunteer & owner of lori hill event productions

Superstar CCAN volunteer and event planner Lori Hill wishes CCAN happy 10 years.

MOM’s Organic Market owner, Scott Nash

Local green business owner and CCAN supporter, Scott Nash, wishes CCAN a happy birthday.

The Keystone XL pipeline Looks to the Past, While Activists look to the future

The push for the Keystone XL pipeline puzzles me. Society is foolishly increasing its dependence on oil by investing more and more in this diminishing dirty resource. Meanwhile, many of the clean and renewable alternatives that our future requires already exist and continue to improve in both efficiency and cost.

The fact of the matter is that we must begin to reorient our entire energy system away from fossil fuels. To that end, there is very exciting news about five new advances coming out of MIT that look to utilize solar energy just about everywhere. In other news there was a great breakthrough in transportation; for the first time a German engineered electric vehicle traveled 1000 miles on a single charge!

While there may be some doubt about current energy conversion rates with solar energy, wind is quite the proven technology for replacing fossil fuels in a very big way. For example, Denmark currently gets about 20% of its total electrical need from wind alone, generating jobs and reducing green house gas emissions all along the way. In the bigger picture, Europe is producing 5.5% of its electricity from wind as of 2010, but has plans for massive investment. According to the European Wind Energy Association, strong EU regulatory framework is guiding 194 billion Euros of investment with the goal of tripling wind energy production to over 15% by 2020.

And here we sit investing in expanding an oil pipeline that already exists. To put it in a wider perspective, the general estimate for the Keystone XL pipeline rings in at around 7 billion. Instead, we should invest that money installing clean, renewable sources of power right near major coastal populations where it is needed most. Or, we can continue to delay the inevitable and invest in a dwindling dirty fuel while ignoring its litany of

Continue reading

The options of a renewable energy future

 

Yes, there are those who still curiously regard fossil fuels as the only realistic energy sources for our world. It is a dead-end if there ever was one; an idea largely propagated by the fossil fuel biz and their political front men and women. Thankfully, for those who understand the inescapable necessity of renewable clean energy, the options just keep growing.

Meet the solar tower, a solar-based energy source that is an intriguing mix of solar and wind energy. A company named “Enviromission” has its sights on Arizona to build this massive tower. It’s essentially an enormous greenhouse that traps air heated by the sun’s rays. Hot air naturally rises, and as the air does so it is funneled through a central point (the tower), the base of which sports an array of fans that are turned by the current just like a windmill.

A detailed description of the tower can be found here including its numerous advantages. For starters, it is low maintenance, continues to work at night, has zero GHG emissions, makes use of essentially useless desert, and the list still goes on. This earlier, smaller version in Spain recently achieved the huge milestone of generating twenty-four hours of uninterrupted supply, proving solar energy can provide power well into the night!

This is just one of many options that are currently available and make the reality of renewable energy all the more imminent. Add some wind energy, solar thermal and solar PV, some geothermal for good measure, and we’re well on our way to a cleaner, sustainable future.

Continue reading

Oh, Canada: The Tar Sands is a disaster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many people have heard that the Tar Sands Project in Alberta, Canada is one of the most environmentally destructive oil projects ever, but it’s hard to appreciate until you hear the details. I can’t imagine what it’s like to see in person. Just how far will we go for crude? Consider this excerpt from a telling article published in National Geographic:

“To extract each barrel of oil from a surface mine, the industry must first cut down the forest, then remove an average of two tons of peat and dirt that lie above the oil sands layer, then two tons of the sand itself. It must heat several barrels of water to strip the bitumen from the sand and upgrade it, and afterward it discharges contaminated water into tailings ponds like the one near Mildred Lake.”

Cutting down forest, moving 4 tons of earth, using lots of water which is heated by natural gas, and then finding somewhere to store all the waste water, and we still haven’t transported it (all this effort for one barrel mind you) to market!

The next phase involves the construction of the appropriately controversial “Keystone XL Pipeline,” which thankfully is drawing disapproval in the wake of the recent pipeline spill in Montana. The project is a proposed extension of existing pipelines that will carry the Tar Sands crude all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.The two pipelines are “very similar,” notes Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) International Program Director Susan Casey-Lefkowitz. The EPA also released a negative critique of the State Department’s analysis of the Pipeline, citing numerous concerns including likelihood of spills (especially as they relate to groundwater), increased refinery pollution, global warming pollution, wetlands destruction, risks associated with migratory birds

Light Bulbs: The latest threat to American Freedom?

In case you had not heard, Republicans recently attempted to push through legislation to repeal a law regarding light-bulb efficiency from 2007. Thankfully, they failed (H.R. 2417). The bill, authored by Texas Republican Joe Barton, was aimed at a modest bit of law mandating a 30% increase in efficiency of incandescent bulbs by 2012. Who could argue with that? After all, many of the more expensive CFL and LEDs are cheaper in the long run anyway. They consume less energy and last much longer. That’s a win-win, right?

Not surprisingly, Republicans cried foul under their time-honored tradition of predictable rhetoric, insisting it’s really about consumer choice and opposing Big Government. Big Government is going to choose your light bulbs for you! No freedom! No freedom to do what? Choose inferior, more wasteful products that are more expensive in the long run?

That such a preference is assumed of us isn’t just insulting to our intelligence, but to our character as well. It expects and encourages consumers to not have any broader sense of responsibility or concern for our resources and environment. We can’t even be bothered to use efficient light bulbs. It’s basically the opposite of a “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” type mentality. Not only are energy-efficient light bulbs better for the environment, but they’re better for the wallet as well. CFLs pay for themselves in about 9 months time, after which they begin saving you money on your energy bills as they use about one-fourth of the energy of a regular incandescent. They typically last about 10 times longer. LEDs use about a quarter of the energy of incandescent bulbs, and can last as much as 25 times longer! How was this even an issue?

Attempts at legislation like this are hardly indicative of leadership in the face of widespread environmental degradation and the mounting challenges of climate change. Much more extensive initiatives are needed to really put a dent in man-made climate change and to improve our long-term energy security. Meanwhile, we have a number of representatives opposed to something as simple as higher standards in light bulbs! As if this uphill battle wasn’t steep enough.

Dangerously Subtle

Lately, the news is ablaze with reports about the wildfires burning out west. Climate scientists, to the chagrin of many climate change deniers, have published studies that indicate how climate change is exacerbating wildfires, as noted recently in the Huffington Post and New York Times, just for starters.

Surely, environmental activists have been repeatedly frustrated by the denial crowd’s steadfast rejection of anything implying a more complicated dynamic in nature than they would allow, as a means of abasing concern and therefore action on environmental issues.

No academics are saying explicitly that global warming caused this fire, that drought, or those tornadoes. In the world of anthrogenic climate change, change happens over time, one subtle increment after another resulting in different long-term trends. And, as we all know by now, in the world of politically tainted discourse, subtlety knows no quarter. Perhaps debating with deniers is a lost cause, but what about the many who are “on the fence” so to speak, and the many more who are simply apathetic to the necessity of renewable energy?

The thing is, for the sake of conveying urgency in climate and renewable energy action, there exists an abundance of not so subtle, perhaps even ridiculous examples of environmental degradation that tie directly into fossil fuel consumption and thus global warming. From entire mountains disappearing in Appalachia and the ensuing toxic runoff, to people apparently being able to ignite their tap water on fire as seen in the 2010 documentary, “Gasland”, to the now infamous Gulf Spill, what exactly does it take to get people to engage?

Unfortunately, a major hurdle appears to be that only when a community is unambiguously and dramatically affected by some form of environmental issue do they take action. But, massive grassroots action is needed immediately to curtail the eventual dramatic consequences of say, a subtle increase in global temperature. Icecaps and glaciers worldwide are already melting at alarming rates, threatening our coastal cities. By the time these cities are inundated and there is no room for apathy, it will be too late. Ideas anyone?

Virginia State Senator Argues for Renewables

Chap Peterson, Virginia State Senator of the 34th Senate District of Virginia, has been a long-time supporter of clean and renewable energy, so it was no great surprise when he attended Saturday’s Northern Virginia Climate Action Network (NOVACAN) meeting. The NOVACAN coalition is made up of a number of environmentally-focused Northern Virginia organizations, including the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, with the aim of educating and empowering Northern Virginians to advocate for policies to curtail climate change.

After the meeting, State Senator Peterson reiterated his thoughts on renewable energy on his blog, reposted below. Continue reading