Erb Speaker Series: Peter Sinclair ‘Communicating Climate Science in the Disinformation Era’
Wednesday, Sept. 11, 5 p.m.-7 p.m.
University of Michigan Stephen M. Ross School of Business
701 Tappan Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Free and open to the public.
A primary obstacle climate scientists face in educating the public and decision makers on the realities of global warming, is the well-funded, well-organized and coordinated effort of climate denialists on the internet. One of the most effective social media initiatives to push back against climate denialism has been Peter Sinclair’s “Climate Denial Crock of the Week,” the YouTube series that confronts and calls out climate deniers, deftly dissecting fossil funded disinformation and propaganda.
Sinclair will be receive the Ecology Center’s Herbert L. Munzel Award for Environmental Activism next month at the Fall Dinner featuring James Hansen.
Peter Sinclair is now producing a companion series, “This is Not Cool,” through the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media.
Click here for full event listing
Climate Meet-up featuring Partners for Transit – Sept. 25 at 6pm
At this month’s climate meet-up, we’ll learn about Partners for Transit, a coalition of folks working to improve transit in the county.
We’ll also have updates on issues we’ve been working on — divestment, fracking, 350.org’s Draw the Line event, and more. RSVP here.
Other agenda items? Let us know!
350.org’s ‘Draw the Line’ day of action Sept. 21
For this month’s 350.org day of action, “Draw the Line”, we’re helping Detroit draw the line against tar sands. Our partners in this effort, D-CATS (Detroit Coalition Against Tar Sands), are coordinating logistics and we’re organizing carpools.
The details are still being figured out, but will be posted here once they become final.
If you’re able to drive, please post your ride here to give us a head start on coordinating carpools. Know a better carpool-coordinating tool? Let us know!
Renowned climate scientist James Hansen will headline Ecology Center’s annual dinner
James Hansen, the scientist whose testimony before Congress in 1988 first raised the threat of global warming to national and international attention, will be the keynote speaker at the Ecology Center’s fall dinner on Thursday, Oct. 3 at the Michigan League in Ann Arbor. Tickets are available online.
Read more about James Hansen at aa350.org >>
When the former head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies warns that our current climate change policy isn’t protecting our planet, it’s probably a good idea to listen. In fact, it’s imperative. James Hansen is considered one of the world’s top climate scientists and has spent his lifetime not only observing, but teaching students how the Earth’s environment works at Columbia University’s Earth Institute.
For these reasons and more, the Ecology Center is excited to bring James Hansen to Ann Arbor as the keynote speaker for our fundraiser this October (click here for tickets). Hansen is helping shape an intelligent response to climate change with scientific understanding. Earlier this year, he received the Ridenhour Courage Prize for his continued advocacy despite a backlash from the government and scientific communities.
At the start of his career, Hansen published research connecting human activity with changes in the climate. In 1988, he testified to Congress that these altered conditions will be dangerous for life on Earth, and did the same in 2001 as a scientist on the Bush administration’s Environmental Task Force. These early warnings have become our present problems. The Earth is experiencing greater and more frequent storms, floods, and droughts. And we’re approaching the point where our impact may be irreversible.
That’s why James Hansen has taken to the street to fight for a healthy world, especially against the threat of our continued reliance on carbon-producing energy sources. Over the last few years, he’s partnered with Bill McKibben of 350.org to pressure the government to stop subsidizing fossil fuel companies, reject the Keystone XL Pipeline, and make carbon-producing industries pay for their cost to society. Ensuring a healthy world requires public education and organization. We hope you’ll join us in learning from James Hansen’s experiences this fall.
NOTE: Limited free/discounted tickets are available. If you’re interested in volunteering for 5 hours in exchange for a ticket (4-7pm and 9-11pm — i.e., not during the dinner and speech), contact Jenn Ketz.
Madison Vorva, left, and Rhiannon Tomtishen also took their campaign against the use of palm oil to the White House. Via http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/13/palm-oil-and-scout-cookies-the-battle-drags-on/
Did you know that in 2012, two high school juniors from Ann Arbor won the first-ever United Nations Forest Heroes Award for their campaign to remove Palm Oil from Girls Scout cookies?
These two activists – Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen — have succeeded in winning pledges from GSUSA to pledge to limit the use of palm oil to cases where there was “no alternative.” The long-time Girl Scouts partnered with Rain Forest Action and worked for over 5 years to make the cookies “rainforest-safe”.
One of the students, Rhiannon Tomtishen, will share her experiences and give an update on the campaign at Rainforest Action Network’s Forest Heroes Campaign Kick-off Meeting on September 18th at the Michigan Union.
Here are the event details:
Wednesday September 18, 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Michigan Union: 530 South State Street Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Room D, 3rd Floor
Refreshments provided: RSVP here
The most recent campaign to protect forests from bulldozing to harvest palm oil focuses on the Michigan-based cereal company Kellogg’s – because the company is doing business Wilmar International. Wilmar International has been ranked the least sustainable corporation in the world – worse than Exxon Mobil and Monsanto — in part because they bulldoze rainforests to harvest palm oil.
The resulting deforestation caused by the palm oil, which is then used in Kelloggs’ cereals and snacks, destroys the homes of endangered species like Sumatran tigers, orangutans and other wildlife, and is a top driver of climate change.
We envision a world where rainforests are protected, not destroyed for profit. Changing the practices of companies like Wilmar will go a long way toward achieving that goal. The good news is that Kellogg’s can demand sustainable palm oil, but they’ll only act if they see that their neighbors here in Michigan want them to do the right thing.
Come to the Forest Heroes Campaign Kick-off Meeting to learn how you can get involved and move Kellogg’s to protect the rainforest!
You can RSVP here, and are encouraged to bring a friend!
To learn more about how you can get involved before the meeting, please contact Eva Resnick-Day at email@example.com
A growing number of cities and institutions are committing to divest from fossil fuels (you can see who’s working on it here). Can you help us add Ann Arbor to the list?
At their next meeting on September 3rd, Ann Arbor City Council with consider an ordinance to divest its holdings from the 200 companies that hold the vast majority of the world’s coal, oil, and gas reserves. Scientists tell us that 80% of these reserves need to stay in the ground, but that isn’t stopping fossil fuel companies from burning through them.
Divesting pension funds from these companies gives us the opportunity to reinvest in a way that not only creates a profit, but also benefits our communities and the climate such as energy retrofits and solar companies.
Can you help?
If you would like to provide public comments at the meeting, email us so we can help you sign up and coordinate our message.
Is it making you jealous that so many folks in town have incredible visible/edible gardens? Well, let’s fix that.
Here’s how to start — or grow — your own food garden for next year:
- Location: Do you have a nice sunny spot where you could grow food? Does it have access to water? This could be lawn space on the ground or a balcony because you can always do a container veggie/herb garden.
- Planning: What will you grow? MSU Extension has tons of tip sheets to help you figure out what you can do with the space you have.
If you’re able to put a garden in outside, then contact us about getting a raised bed kit from Growing Hope (here’s an example of a 4′ x 4′ box). It helps to have a drill to install it, but we may be able to help with things like that…and cost, delivery, etc. Email us if you’re interested and we’ll work something out.
This is the perfect time of year to put in a raised bed because you can fill it with grass clippings, leaves, newspaper and a thin layer of compost (this stuff works great) — read: No Digging! — and it’ll be ready to go next year. Depending on how much interest there is, we may be able to host a work day to help folks install and fill their raised bed kits so they’re ready to go next year.
In the wintertime, you can kick back with a cup of tea and daydream about what you’ll grow. Don’t forget to make some calendar notes — different plants start at different times. You can buy and swap seeds, buy or start your own seedlings. The options are truly limitless — and the best part is you’re pretty likely to have fun and grow at least a few things!
This is a great article from TreeHugger if you want to learn more.
We’re proud to be supporters of Partners for Transit (P4T) — a coalition dedicated to the improvement of transit, in the belief that better transit means better communities. P4T works to expand and improve the transit system so that more people can use it and more often.
There’s some argument over who should pay for what when it comes to transit improvements and we think that’s because people don’t get how important transit is. We’re looking for folks to help us spread the word that transit…
…helps build vibrant, livable communities by connecting people to educational, cultural, and recreational destinations such as schools, museums, malls, and concert halls
…makes traveling more efficient for everyone, bus riders and drivers alike, by alleviating traffic congestion and reducing travel delays
…fuels local economic activity by creating new jobs, attracting commerce and investment, and enhancing business profits and productivity
…saves costs for households and businesses and expands the workforce and customer base available to local businesses, promoting regional prosperity
and so much more!
P4T is looking for folks to hang out on buses and bus stops to engage riders and table at local events so community members know how important transit is. We’re open to other skill sets and interests too!
You can attend a volunteer orientation on Thursday, August 15th or contact Martha, Ecology Center’s transit campaign organizer, to get plugged in.
WARM Training Center in Detroit has a program going on right now called MI Solar Works and it might just be the perfect way to get your house solar-powered.
You can learn more about the program and find info about how to apply here: http://www.warmtraining.org/solar/
But to give you the main points, WARM will help you find out if you’re eligible for a loan — with no up-front payments! — that allows you to install either a 3kw system at $10,500 OR a 5 kw system for $15,000.
WARM’s FAQ page is incredibly helpful and it’s where I learned that most residential systems are between 2-10kw and, though it depends on a home’s energy use, an average system is about 5kw and provides 50-75% of a household’s energy. For a 5 kW system (what they typically install), the system would produce over 6,366 kwH of solar energy per year, or an average of 17.44 kwH per day.
I checked my DTE Energy bill and found my home’s average kwH per day estimate right in the middle of the front page under “Monthly Usage” — where it listed this year and last year for comparison. This will give you an idea of how much a 5kw system might lower your DTE bill. The idea behind this program is to re-direct what you pay to DTE for mostly coal-fired power to pay for a solar array. One thing to consider with these estimated figures is that the price of coal is probably going to increase over time.
Here’s some back-of-the-napkin math: The interest rates on the loans WARM would set you up with are capped at 7% so, if you were eligible, you could take out a $16,000 loan to install a 5kw system on your home and pay about $186 per month for 10 years while you save somewhere around $83 per month for a longer amount of time, specifically the life of the panels (which is about 25 years).
This is part of a statewide initiative to make residential solar an affordable option in order to outfit 6,000 Michigan homes with solar panels. The program is funded through the Department of Energy’s “Race to the Rooftops” national challenge.
When President Obama introduced his plan to address climate change, he said, “The question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it’s too late. And how we answer will have a profound impact on the world that we leave behind not just to you, but to your children and to your grandchildren.”
The President has pledged to take action to combat climate change if Congress won’t act. And, in honor of this pledge, the “I Will #ActonClimate” campaign has launched a 21-state bus tour aimed at highlighting local support for the president’s proposals to reduce pollution in our air and water and promote more clean, renewable energy.
Nearly two-thirds of voters (65 percent) support “the President taking significant steps to address climate change now,” according to a February 2013 poll for the League of Conservation Voters.
The “I Will” Act on Climate bus tour (#ActOnClimate) is supported by a diverse set of local, state-based, and national public business, health, and environmental organizations. Organizations across the country are joining in this effort by bringing the ‘I Will’ bus to their local community, highlighting impacts of climate change and opportunities created by climate action, and calling for local action. Local spokespeople will be available for interviews.
Good news: The bus will arrive in Michigan on Monday, August 5! You can show your support for climate action by attending — and spreading the word about — events in Muskegon and Detroit.
The entire journey is being chronicled in podcasts and blogs throughout the trip and can be viewed at http://www.iwillact.us.
The bus at a stop in North Carolina
Will you sign a Pledge of Resistance?
Rainforest Action Network, CREDO and The Other 98% are asking folks to commit - should it be necessary to stop Keystone XL — to engage in serious, dignified, peaceful civil disobedience that could get you arrested. So far more than 68,000 people have pledged to engage in civil disobedience and risk arrest if President Obama’s administration issues a draft approval of Keystone XL. It is a huge and complex undertaking (mass civil disobedience) that many believe is a necessary next step in our movement.
Since the pledge launched, the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide broke 400 ppm and President Obama shared his plan to address climate change.
On August 11 & 12, activists around the country will come together to put pressure on President Obama’s Keystone XL decision. On Sunday afternoon, organizers will host a recommended non-violent direct action training from 2 pm to 5 pm on and a required action and legal briefing from 5pm to 6 pm. The sit-in at the State Department begins at 9am on Monday, August 12th.
You can sign up here. If you’re signed up and interested in carpooling click here.
More than 30 climate-change activists from Ann Arbor joined Bill McKibben and hundreds of others for a July 14 rally to bring attention to Enbridge Energy’s plans to expand the oil pipeline that runs under the Straits of Mackinac.
“Just like the Keystone XL Pipeline, this pipeline threatens efforts to build a renewable energy economy, especially if they use it to carry tar sands oil from Canada,” according to Monica Patel, policy specialist at the Ecology Center and director of the organization’s Ann Arbor 350 campaign.
“But what’s even more scary is the risk that this 60-year-old pipeline will burst, spilling crude or even tar sands oil into the Great Lakes,” Patel said.
In a recent report, the National Wildlife Federation pointed out that pipelines at the Straits carry 20 million gallons of crude oil and natural gas fluids each day from Wisconsin to Ontario.
The pipelines were in the straits in 1953—the year President Dwight Eisenhower took office and four years before the Mackinac Bridge was opened to traffic.
“If either of those pipelines leaked, the resulting oil slick would likely devastate some of the lakes’ most bountiful fisheries, wildlife refuges, and municipal drinking water supplies,” the NWF report said. “A significant rupture would cause an Exxon-Valdez scale oil spill
spreading through Lakes Huron and Michigan, the heart of the largest freshwater seas in the world.”
“Oil and Water Don’t Mix was brought together by Traverse City 350 and
many many allies throughout Michigan; a huge crowd showed up in this fairly remote spot, and stayed for hours,” Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, said in an e-mail after the rally.
“And I got to explain how these local battles fit into the global one: even if that oil doesn’t spill in the Great Lakes, it will eventually spill into the atmosphere in the form of carbon, changing the climate,” he wrote. “In fact, the water level on the Great Lakes is already falling fast because they don’t ice over for much of the winter any more, allowing increased evaporation.”
Slideshow from the event: