Month: September 2021

System Change NOT Climate Change | Leaders in Energy

Washington (GGM) Analysis | September 29, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

Can you feel it in the air all around you? The sensory clues that we pick up on just before the season changes. A shift in temperature. A new scent wafting through the air. Displays of seasonal delights appearing in the produce section of the grocery store. We recognize these subtle clues, make a mental note, and slowly begin to shift gears. 

Of course, we know that there will always be a few who wear shorts into November, and flip flops until the first snow. While others are fashion aficionados and can’t wait to slip on designer boots and stylish jeans the day after Labor Day. Adjusting quickly to the changing seasons isn’t foreign to any of us, it’s part of our normal life, our American culture. We may have individual preferences about how long we wear white pants, but none of us will be standing in the middle of Main Street, declaring that we refuse to allow winter to arrive.  

The changing seasons are the same way we’ll shift into this new revolutionary, clean energy “system change” that we’ve been slowly inching toward for awhile now. We had no problem adapting to smart phones. We love our technological innovations and advancements, so we should be thrilled with clean energy solutions.

Global Climate Strike, Washington DC, September 24, 2021.

The truth is, whether we realized it or not, we’ve been making this green shift ever since the turn of the millennium in 2000. Small baby steps at first for many of the most progressive communities scattered around the country. While for other towns and states, the shifting to green living may not have crossed local leader’s minds until an unexpected extreme weather disaster struck. It doesn’t really matter in the big scheme of things, all that matters is an understanding and acceptance of the fact that we are now officially here, and we have to do what we always do. Adapt.

The IPCC Report released on August 9, 2021 made it very clear. Code Red for humanity. There can be no more slow and steady. We now have to rush.

In many regions, the green framework is already built and operational. Green companies and organizations like Northern Virginia nonprofit, Leaders in Energy, a global network of thousands of leaders who work together to “advance clean energy and sustainable solutions for a more sustainable energy system, economy, and greener world,” are on the rise. And Resilient Virginia, an organization that has been working hard to accelerate “resiliency planning in communities across the commonwealth” to help move toward a “vibrant, healthy and equitable community.”

To support the big shift into a green future, with the goal of helping community leaders, businesses, professionals, and families create a path towards resilience, Leaders in Energy partnered with Resilient Virginia to offer a Green Jobs Forum & Career Fair in August 2021. This informative three day event, included an array of workshops and breakout sessions:

  • National and State experts on new initiatives that bolster the transition to a Clean Economy while rebuilding our nations infrastructure 
  • Ensuring equity is a core element for local residency planning
  • Steps needed for infrastructure to both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to climate adaptation strategies
  • Examples from urban and rural communities on approaches to resiliency that include climate risk assessments that lead to economic health and equity consideration
  • Examining the accelerating opportunities for economic diversification and entrepreneurship to bolster a Clean Economy.

With hundreds in attendance, eager to receive the much needed information and incorporate it into planning and projects, the green shift took another step forward. Each and every conference and moment like this one, are additional layers of preparation for the future opportunities that are awaiting us.

“Chance favors the prepared mind.”

Louis Pasteur, Father of Immunology

Founder and Executive Director of Leaders in Energy, Janine Finnell, has been preparing professionals to become leaders in our green future, unofficially since 2012, and officially since its founding in 2017, using its four pillars:

1. Green Jobs

2. Marketplace and Economy

3. Green Finance

4. Multi-generational Leadership

And now thousands of leaders and other professional have prepared minds and are able to act immediately, just as the IPCC Report has urged (in fact, demanded), to harness the opportunities and possibilities that the Build Back Better Bill will bring to communities across the country as we rush to lower our carbon emissions dramatically in an effort to overtake the speed by which the global temperature is now rising.

Let’s get the Build Back Better Bill passed and begin our “fast break” into the future. 

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The Mysterious Deaths of a Young California Family on California Trail Near Toxic Algal Blooms | Who Has the Answers?

Washington (GGM) Analysis | September 23, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

The mysterious deaths of the young California family and their dog while out hiking along the remote Savage Lundy Trail in Devil’s Gulch in Sierra National Forest in Mariposa, California on August 15, 2021, should have us all on high alert as we enter this new high heat era that scientists know very little about. 

Heart of the matter. There are many toxins in our environment that become more dangerous in high heat, especially extreme high heat with temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. These hazardous chemicals are likely to become airborne in temperatures with a heat index of 90 degrees. Examples of such toxins are the pesticides used on golf coursesas well as conventional farms. These toxic pesticides — typically glyphosate and chlorpyrifos — run off the treated land during heavy rains, and spread far and wide. They’re invisible, and most are odorless, which results in the public being unaware that we’re exposed. A family might live hundreds of yards from a golf course, and not think to attribute a health condition to this unfortunate reality. In fact, doctors might be stumped and unable to quickly identify what is causing an ailment. 

This appears to be the way investigators in Mariposa, California are feeling right now as they try and solve the tragic deaths of John Gerrish, 45, his partner Ellen Chung, 30, their one-year-old daughter, Miju, and dog, Oski, who all died while hiking in the California wilderness on a hot Sunday afternoon when local thermometers hit 109 degrees.

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Important facts.

  • Harmful algal blooms (HABs, also known as cyanotoxins) were in the south fork of the Merced River a couple of miles from where the family was found. The investigators didn’t provide any information about whether the family swam or waded in the toxic water, or drank from it, although apparently they did not, since no evidence of that was discovered during the autopsies, and no information to that effect has been reported.
  • Upon testing the water, high levels of anatoxin-a (ATX) were found. ATX is also known as Very Fast Death Factor that can cause multiple conditions including breathing paralysis and death.
  • In April of this year, scientists found airborne ATX around Capaum Pond on Nantucket and weren’t clear about how it became airborne. They expressed concern: “People often recreate around these lakes and ponds with algal blooms without any awareness of the potential problems.”
  • University of Michigan researchers, Andrew Ault and Kerri Pratt, conducted a study on the shores of Lake Erie and Lake Michigan in 2018 where toxic blue-green algal blooms appear each year en masse in the wake of agricultural run-off. They found that the waves splashing against the algal blooms along the shoreline, resulted in the toxic algal blooms becoming aerosolized. Ault and Pratt were the first to report this finding.
  • The terrain itself may have posed a problem. Steep mountain walls on all sides, with  the four bodies found along the trail on the lower section of the mountain. Hopefully investigators are researching whether thermal runawaywas a contributing factor. Thermal runaway is a condition, where “an increase in temperature changes the conditions in a way that causes a further increase in temperature, often leading to a destructive result.” This likely was not the case, but because the new high heat conditions are foreign to us, scientists don’t necessarily know whether or not it was a contributing factor, and might want to research this possibility. The toxic algal blooms were located at the very bottom of the mountain range in the valley, with towering mountains on all sides. Can thermal runaway cause the toxins to become more potent and rise further in the air?

Next Steps:

  • The Savage Lundy Trail is closed until at least September 26, 2021. Investigators have been very tight-lipped about their investigation, not providing any additional details after they learned about the high levels of ATX in the Merced Rivers due to toxic algal blooms. They did not respond to our request for an update, nor whether the Savage Lundy Trail would re-open after the 26th. 
  • Murder and suicide were ruled out. 
  • Nine out of ten Americans breath polluted air that becomes that much more toxic in the high heat.
  • We all may want to consider wearing facemarks outdoors in the high heat due to the sheer volume of chemicals that become airborne.
No rose without thorns. —French Proverb. 
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School Buses with White Roofs Lower the Heat | Albedo Effect

Washington (GGM) Analysis | September 22, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

Many decision makers in our towns as well as local businesses and corporate office parks are aware of the albedo effectand apply the principles. We can see this with our own eyes as we drive through our towns and cities. Large sports arenas and convention centers seem to glow in the sun, many with their white exteriors and white roofs. I hiked up a mountain over the weekend and was startled to look out and see the bright white church steeples, metallic silver domes covering silos, and a few other gleaming white rooftops on buildings dotting the rural landscape. Another excellent example of the albedo effect principles being applied all around us is the widespread use of white roofs on public school buses in communities across the country. My county in Virginia has white-topped school buses.

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In 1992, Brunswick County, North Carolina decided to run a pilot program to gauge the effectiveness of white roofs on school buses to lower the temperature. They’d learned about the white tops being used in California and Florida. California had begun applying albedo principles to school buses 20 years earlier. The Brunswick County pilot ran from August through December that year. At the conclusion, they found that the white roofs:

  • lowered the temperature by 10 degrees
  • lowered the temperature by 17 degrees during peak hours
  • and only lowered the temperature by 3 or 4 degrees in the winter

Heart of the Matter. Chair of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, Kathy Castor (FL-D) said at a recent hearing, “We are all dealing with the devastating consequences of a rapidly warming planet. In the past 5 years, about 4,000 Americans have died from extreme wether events. Every year we lose about 700 Americans to heat related deaths.” Experts have gone on record stating officially that heat has a direct negative impact on our health.

Chelsea, Massachusetts has taken protecting the health and well-being of school children to the next level. According to WBUR in Boston, Chelsea Massachusetts just finished installing two white roofs on their two public middle schools this past July 2021. Their objective was to lower the heat in the classrooms, as well as the area surrounding the school. Chelsea is an oppressive heat island, North of Boston, across form Logan airport and is considered one of the hottest cities in Massachusetts. In addition to lowering the heat in the classroom for the students, according to WBUR, the Superintendent, Almi Abeyta, is also looking forward to the lower cost of electricity that will free up some money in the school budget.

Chelsea elementary schools are up next for the white roofs. Additionally, the city planner, Ben Cares, explained they also plan to replace the asphalt with a lighter material.

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I’m personally and professionally very excited about the two white roofs reducing carbon emissions and also having two more buildings added to the growing collection around the world that will help reflect the sun’s energy and make up for the shrinking icecaps. August 20, 2021 was yet another alarming global warming red flag. It rained for the first time in recorded history on Greenland’s summit. According to the Sierra Club, 337,000 square miles of Greenland’s ice sheet, experienced surface flooding and 7 billion tons of water flooded the summit.

Active measures such as these — switching to white roofs on buildings and buses, and lighter ground surfaces to reduce deadly heat — are what every community should be rushing to do to save lives in this new high heat era. We have the ability to lower the heat. We must act.

No rose without thorns. —French Proverb. Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

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Top 10 High Albedo Sports Arenas | Lowering the Heat

Washington (GGM) Analysis | September 21, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

High albedo is a vitally important climate solution, that will not only lower indoor temperatures and curb carbon emissions, but will also help reflect the sun’s energy, making up for the decreased sun reflection of our shrinking icecaps. 

The threat of the smaller white icecaps has been highlighted in several powerful recent documentaries, one of which was A Life on Our Planet, in which Sir David Attenborough highlighted that forcers such as smaller white icecaps are now causing warming to increase at an increasing rate, which has scientists very concerned. 

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In light of this looming peril, and following the release of last month’s IPCC Report in which the IPCC warned that we only have 11 years to fix this, Chairwoman of the House Select Committee on the Climate CrisisKathy Castor (FL-D) was recently interviewed and stated boldly and decisively for all to understand: “It’s a call to action. It’s a call to immediate action.”

Sports arenas, as well as many convention centers and hotels in the hottest cities around the country, were developed in high albedo colors and materials, and now serve as great role models in this new era of high heat. High albedo is their rule of thumb. Too many empty seats in steaming hot arenas forced them into action. They responded to the crisis with innovative solutions that reversed the trend. 

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Let’s all do the same. In fact, this is what the IPCC and scientists around the globe are hoping for. That we all rush to reverse the trend with innovative solutions. 

The following is a very subjective list of the Top 10 High Albedo Sports Arenas in US. To be honest, it appears that nearly every sports arena in the world has high albedo which is a bold statement in and of itself.

The list of international high albedo sports arenas is long, but the stunning National Stadium in Singapore, with its massive white dome, is a standout.

What colors do you see when you drive through your county? In Northern Virginia, it’s plainly clear that high albedo is the rule of thumb for hotels, hospitals and large office complexes and appears to be the standard recommendation of developers of large spaces. The Pentagon, which opened its doors in 1943, is a great example of moderately high albedo in its massive complex that employs 35,000 people.

I’m thus confused about the choices made by residential developers who defy these principles and instead choose to nail down black roofs and often use darker materials on exterior walls like red brick. It’s time to turn this around. 

No rose without thorns. —French Proverb. 
Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

Subscribe to Force of Nature to stay connected to the insights we provide in our effort to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, eco-friendly, carbon neutral global community. Click here to subscribe.

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Boosting Albedo Everywhere Is a Climate Solution

Washington (GGM) Analysis | September 19, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

After a summer of unprecedented weather events, with hundreds of deaths and many billions of dollars in damages, the IPCC Report released on August 8, 2021, fell on open ears. We all stopped to process the urgent warnings.

CODE RED for humanity. We must make immediate changes.  These bold and chilling declarations were blasted through the vast major media outlets worldwide, as well as thousands of podcasts, millions of private conversations, and billions of social media posts. Articles such as the one by US New and World Report in July 2021, informing us that climate change already results in an extra 5 million deaths per year, provided real time data of just how forcefully climate change is crashing down on us. 

Get daily climate action tips by joining Act Now for the Earth Cafe and have fun learning the amazing & valuable tips that will help the earth recover from the staggering damage of climate change. Cafe communities are the new big thing. Sustainability is all about community. We’d greatly value you being part of our ecosystem by CLICKing here today and joining the conversation at  Earth Cafe!

And then there were this week’s extreme weather events to drive home the point. This is how traumatic it is at only 1ºC+. But the world is currently on a trajectory of 3ºC. The IPCC recently advised that if we rush and do what’s necessary, we’ll be able to stay below 2ºC. But even 2ºC seems unendurable.

Heart of the matter. “Without the white icecaps less of the sun’s energy is reflected back out to space, and the speed of global warming increases.” —Sir David Attenborough, A Life On Our Planet

The speed of global warming increasing at an increasing rate due to the shrinking icecaps, is motivation to sprint so that we have the time to make the necessary systemic changes to our infrastructure, as well as transition individual daily household and personal behaviors to eco-friendly, sustainable and green behaviors in a circular economy.

At a symposium in London in the spring of 2009, Nobel laureate and President Obama’s Secretary of Energy at the time, Stephen Chu, boldly announced to the crowd that whitening all the roofs and pavements in the world would be the equivalent of removing all cars on the planet for 11 years.  He didn’t mean this literally of course, but rather as a powerful illustration that we’d all be able to identify with.

This cool phenomenon is known as the albedo effect. Albedo is the ability of surfaces to reflect the sun’s energy, just like the polar icecaps. Albedo is measured in increments from 0 to1, with 0 being the darkest colors that absorb the sun’s energy which become quite hot, and 1 being the the coolest colors that reflect the the sun’s energy the best and keep everything cool. 

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Albedo levels:

  • Black – albedo 0
  • Green grass – albedo .25
  • Desert sands – .40
  • Newly poured concrete – .55
  • White – .8
  • Metallic silver – .9
  • Perfect mirror – albedo 1

Stephen Chu emphasized the three main benefits of whitening roofs and pavements:

  • Immediately cools a building’s interior which drives down use of air conditioning.
  • Results in lower energy use, which cuts costs and lowers carbon emissions.
  • White and lighter colors reflect the sun’s energy (which will make up for lost icecaps).

Next Steps:

Stephen Chu’s urgent recommendations were made 12 years ago. Many large convention centers, sports arenas, coliseums followed through exactly as suggested and rebuilt their stadiums applying the ideal albedo colors. We have to do the same on an individual level.

  • Switch roof on our houses to white or a much lighter color, no black.
  • If your normal re-roofing is scheduled for 2 years from now, move it up and re-roof immediately.
  • Is your driveway black asphalt? Quickly transition to concrete or paint it non-reflective white.
  • From now on, go with light colored cars.
  • Form an albedo committee in your town and lobby local government to paint town parking lots white, school roofs, libraries, and all surfaces.

Good Luck! Staying below 2ºC is the most precious gift we can give our children. They’ll never forgive us if we don’t succeed at this.

No rose without thorns. —French Proverb. Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

Subscribe to Force of Nature to stay connected to the insights we provide in our effort to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, eco-friendly, carbon neutral global community. Click here to subscribe.

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