The world’s energy portfolio will get vastly cleaner by the year 2040 – but not clean enough, says a new long-term energy outlook from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).
Why? It seems that fossil fuels will still provide 44% of our power in the projection, as new coal plants come online to provide cheap power in developing nations. The Paris-based International Energy Agency similarly reports the world is on a course to miss the widely-accepted international target of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
This is NOT the news we want to hear. But – by projecting where current trends are taking us, we can take immediate personal actions to protect ourselves, our families and our communities. That doesn’t mean we should “throw in the towel” and resign ourselves to a world filled with disruption and climate chaos. We need to continue to do the work required build a just, carbon-free, sustainable and resilient world, while adapting to an already-changing climate.
Blake Davis teaches about sustainability and facilitates undergraduate research projects the School of Applied Technology at the Illinois Institute of Technology. His students developed the aquaponics facility at The Plant, where he continues to serve as faculty adviser for one of the first vertical farms in the world, in a former meat packing plant in Chicago’s former Stockyards.
Often, the impacts of our changing climate seem far away, and not relevant to our daily lives. But it is relevant and already affecting us. The Union of Concerned Scientists has modeled the effects of climate change in various regions in the U.S. If you live in Illinois, continue reading for a summary of what we can expect in the coming years.
Bringing It Home
The projects that by the end of the 21st century Illinois temperatures will rise 7–13 degrees F in winter and 9-18 degrees F in summer. This dramatic warming is roughly the same as that which has occurred since the last ice age. According UCS, if current pollution trends continue, toward the end of the century Illinois will experience:
Far More Scorching Summers:
Every summer in Illinois would be hotter than 1983—the hottest summer during the historical baseline.
Chicago would experience more than 70 days per summer with highs over 90 degrees Fahrenheit (°F) and a month of days with highs over 100°F.
Chicago would face at least two heat waves per summer like the one that killed hundreds in Chicago in 1995, and one heat wave every other summer like the even deadlier European heat wave of 2003.
Air quality would deteriorate, as hotter weather causes more severe smog problems (assuming similar levels of tailpipe and smokestack emissions). This would have serious consequences for public health, including a greater incidence of asthma attacks and other respiratory conditions.
Heavy rains would become more common throughout the year, leading to a greater incidence of flash flooding.
Winters and springs, when the flood risk is already high, would become more than 25% wetter.
New Threats to Agriculture:
Crops and livestock would face substantially more heat stress, decreasing crop yields and livestock productivity.
Warmer winters and a growing season up to six weeks longer would enable pests like the corn earworm to expand their range.
Crop production would be inhibited by changing rain patterns such as wetter springs (which delay planting and increase flood risk) and almost 15% less rain during the increasingly hot summers.
There Are Solutions!
And the Union of Concerned Scientists says there is still time to avoid the most catastrophic consequence of climate change. Illinois is the sixth largest producer of global warming emissions in the U.S. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there is lots of room for improvement!
For example, the generation of electricity and transportation account for 85% of the state’s emissions. And, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, Illinois generates about 30% more electricity than it uses, exporting the excess to other states.
So what can be done? Here in Illinois we can:
Increase energy efficiency and conservation in industries and homes.
Boost the use of renewable energy resources such as wind, solar and geothermal energy from it’s current 1% of the energy mix.
Improve vehicle fuel efficiency, but more importantly, reduce the number of miles driven.
Reduce heat trapping emissions from current soil tilling and fertilizer application agricultural practices.
These actions not only would lessen greenhouse gas emissions, but also reduce energy costs, create jobs, and enhance air and water quality. That means:
Changing our personal actions and behaviors to consume less and lower our carbon footprints as we lower our demand for energy.
Meet Our Panelists Jerry Mead-Lucero
Jerry Mead-Lucero, former lead organizer with Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform (PERRO). PERRO is a grassroots community group of Pilsen residents that formed in 2004 to fight the disproportionate amount of pollution in Pilsen, a working class, Mexican immigrant neighborhood on Chicago’s south side. Jerry, who lives in Pilsen, was involved in the 2001 initiative to clean up Chicago’s coal plants, and then represented PERRO during the 2009 through 2012 campaign that ultimately resulted in the closing of these plants – two of the oldest and dirtiest in the country.
Jerry also is a long-time Chicago labor activist and host of WLUW’s Labor Express radio program. He has worked extensively in the Latin American solidarity movement since the late 1980s, the immigrants rights movement since the mid-1990s, and active in anti-gentrification and environmental justice struggles in Pilsen.
Cheryl Johnson is the Executive Director of People for Community Recovery, located in Altgeld Gardens, in the heavyily industrialized Lake Calumet region on Chicago’s southeast side. In the late 1970’s, Cheryl’s mother, legendary Hazel Johnson (now known as the “mother of the environmental justice movement”) labeled the area surrounding their community the “toxic donut”. Hazel’s research found that Altgeld Gardens was surrounded by 50 landfills, 382 industrial facilities and 250 leaking underground storage tanks, making it the most toxic concentration of wastes in the country. Hazel organized residents to confront corporate polluters to stop their pollution and call on city officials to enforce regulations.
Today, Cheryl continues the legacy of her mother, organizing residents around the issues of the environment, health, housing, neighborhood safety, and economic equity that continue to plaque this region. In 2012, PCR became one of the founding organizations of the Environmental Justice Alliance of the Greater Southeast Chicago. Through Cheryl’s leadership, the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA)agreed to a series of lead reforms and more recently agreed to develop a master plan for the finishing of the Altgeld redevelopment plan. CHA wanted to demolished 648 vacant apartments and now their plans are being reassessed to ensure community participation.
Tom Shepherd currently serves as president at Southeast Environmental Task Force (SETF) on Chicago’s far-southeast side. This is an area where steel once was king, and where there is an abundance of environmental degradation, garbage dumps, and contaminated land. SETF believes that southeast Chicagoland will one day serve as a national and international model for the integration of industrial, residential and natural areas into a productive, green, and environmentally sustainable urban community.
Tom was recruited and groomed beginning in 1999 by local environmental icon, Marian Byrnes, who was one of the Southeast Environmental Task Force founding members.
Through his leadership, SETF has helped lead the fight to get the County’s solid waste ban extended; mobilized the community to fight back against the coal gasification plant that Leucadia proposed; and sounded the alarm on the petcoke piles blighting the neighborhood—and while that fight is far from over, they forced action from City, State and national leaders and pressured the Beemsterboer company to remove petcoke piles next to the 106th Street Bridge.
Organizer from the Niger Delta (TBD)
Nigeria has become West Africa’s biggest producer of petroleum. But oil spills, waste dumping and gas flaring are endemic in the Niger Delta.
This pollution by multi-national corporations such as ExxonMobil and Shell Petroleum Development Co. has affected the area for decades. It has damaged or destroyed the soil, water and air quality of one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems. Gas flaring alone is the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet. “Some children have never known a dark night even though they have no electricity”, wrote one environmentalist after a visit.
Hundreds of thousands of people are affected, particularly the poorest and those who rely on traditional livelihoods such as fishing and agriculture. Clean-up of oil pollution in the Niger Delta is frequently both slow and inadequate, leaving people to cope with the ongoing impacts of the pollution on their livelihoods and health. The human rights implications are serious, under-reported and have received little attention from the government of Nigeria or the oil companies.
About Our Moderator Prexy Nesbitt
The panel will be moderated by Prexy Nesbitt, an educator and labor activist whose influence stretches from Chicago to southern Africa.
In his hometown of Chicago, he worked as a social worker, union organizer, special assistant to Chicago’s mayor Harold Washington, and a senior program officer with the MacArthur Foundation. He fought South African apartheid and the effects of colonialism in Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Namibi from within the US and also during over 100 trips to Africa, including secret excursions into apartheid-torn South Africa.
The author of a number of works, Nesbitt has published the book, “Apartheid in Our Living Rooms,” and articles in 25 international journals. He was interviewed for several documentaries, including “The End of the Nightstick,” a 1993 piece on police brutality in Chicago, and “Soft Vengeance,” a 2014 piece on the life of the South African High Court Justice, Albie Sachs.
Although his own accomplishments are far-reaching, those who know Nesbitt well cite his proudest achievements as working with key figures in civil rights and anti-apartheid movements, including Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela.
Nesbitt teaches African history at Chicago’s Columbia College. He continues to organize cultural and political tours to Africa through Making the Road, an organization he helped found.
This Changes EVERYTHING
Faithful Responses to Climate Change
Today, a majority of Americans believe that the status quo is no longer possible if we are to avert the most devastating consequences of climate change. But how many of us are willing to consider the seemingly impossible – that our changing climate is a result of our fossil-fuel driven, growth-oriented consumer economy? Or, that the changes the climate crisis demands of us today actually may provide the opportunity to to rebuild our broken political and economic systems into alternatives that improve our quality of life; well-being; and connectedness to one another?
Join us for a six week study of Naomi Klein’s newest book “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate”:
Wednesday evenings, 6:30pm to 8:30pm 2/25; 3-4; 3-11; 3-18; 3-25; and 4-1
Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ
615 West Wellington Avenue, Chicago (Lakeview neighborhood)
This interactive series has been designed to test our beliefs about a changing climate and provoke us into actions that can avert the worst impacts of a changing climate by addressing its root causes – our current political and socioeconomic systems, which have stood largely unchallenged for decades. Each evening begins at 6pm with a light meal and fellowship, before moving into discussion. We’ll learn and sing together “Do It Now. Sing for the Climate”; watch short videos that help us understand each week’s topic; participate in the art project “Rolling Away the Stone”; and come away with concrete ideas and actions for systems change that can contribute towards building a more just world.
Session 1 – February 25:
Welcome, introduction to the book and overview of the series. Come prepared to answer these questions: “Why are you here?” “What do you want to get out of this study series?” Led by Pastors Dan Dale and Alli Baker.
Session 2 – March 4:
Part One: “Bad Timing” (Chapters 1-4 ) and “Confronting the Climate Denier Within” (Chapter 5). Led by Pastors Alli Baker and Dan Dale.
Session 3 – March 11:
Part Two: “Magical Thinking” (Chapters 6, 7 and 8). Led by Yuki Schwartz Minister of Theological Formation, and Pastor Alli Baker
Session 4 – March 18:
“Listen to Voices from the Front Lines” The evening will include a panel of representatives from communities on the front lines of the struggle for environmental justice, and selected videos highlighting their work. Prexy Nesbitt, African activist and educator, renowned for his work in the anti-apartheid movement, will moderate the panel. Organized by Pam and Lan Richart, Eco-Justice Collaborative, and Dan Dale, Senior Pastor, WAUCC.
Session 5 – March 25:
Part Three: “Starting Anyway”. Led by Clinton Stockwell, former Executive Director, Chicago Semester, and Dan Dale, Senior Pastor, WAUCC.
Session 6 – April 1:
COLLECTIVE ACTION – Building the social movements that are getting in the way and building the alternative future. Led by Pam and Lan Richart, Eco-Justice Collaborative, and Dan Dale, Senior Pastor, WAUCC.
For more information, contact Pam or Lan at 773.556.3417 / 3418 or Kathy at 773.935.0642
The environmental, social, economic, and public health threats of climate disruption — both in the United States and around the world — require strong action and leadership from the United States. That’s why EJC joined 125 organizations to urge our President to push for more aggressive action to reduce carbon pollution. While we support the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which aims to reduce carbon emissions from electricity generation by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030, we know that far more aggressive action is needed to avert catastrophic climate change. For example:
Emissions targets are not consistent with what climate science demands.
The plan promotes natural gas as an alternative to coal, which would continue our reliance on fossil fuels for decades and incentivizes more investment in dirty energy infrastructure, rather than energy efficiency and renewables such as wind and solar.
Also, the inclusion of nuclear power, “waste-to- energy’, carbon capture and sequestration, biomass incineration and other dirty fuels in the EPA’s proposed plan fails to acknowledge adverse environmental and public health impacts, and there are no provisions to ensure that low-income consumers have access to clean, affordable, reliable electricity.
Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time and programs to avert catastrophic climate change must be proportionate with that challenge and ensure all Americans have access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy and clean air.
New app allows real time tracking of your carbon impact on the planet
For most of us, there is a major disconnect between our everyday lifestyle choices and the impact that they have on the world around us.We might know for example that driving a fuel inefficient vehicle will contribute significantly more carbon to the atmosphere than say riding public transit.But what about those everyday choices we make regarding food, clothing, entertainment, and other goods and services that are not so obvious?And how can we make better choices?
Now a group called Oroeco has developed a new app that will track your carbon emissions in real time using personalized information and life-cycle assessment data developed through independent research.Oroeco has teamed with Intuit owned mint.com to assign a carbon footprint to almost everything you do, tracking it over time and allowing you to compare your progress with others.Along the way Oroeco offers insights and recommendations for further reducing your carbon footprint.
As Oroeco CEO, Ian Monroe says,
The basic idea is that every dollar we spend impacts our climate. The problem is that we can’t see these impacts when we’re deciding what to buy, particularly now that global supply chains have shifted problems half a world away. We are building a tool that automatically connects your purchase data (via Mint.com) to scientific climate impact data so you can track the climate footprint of your groceries, gas, airfare, home energy, clothing, etc. We’re also integrating with Facebook, so you’ll be able to see how you compare with your friends, as well as earn points and prizes for improving.
… On the Handles of Gas Pumps!
The San Francisco Bay Area city of Berkeley is moving forward with plans to put climate-change warning labels on gas pumps in what could be the first such requirement of its kind in the nation.
Scientists know that CO2 emissions contribute to climate change, just as they know that smoking causes cancer. If cigarette companies are required to post warning labels reminding consumers of the risk on their products, why not include warning labels on gas pumps, too?
Berkley’s environmental advisory panel asked the city manager last week to draft an ordinance for the labels. The city’s community environmental advisory commission called on the city manager last week to draft an ordinance for the labels. The city council is expected to vote on the ordinance in the fall
“It’s a perfect opportunity to remind people that there are greenhouse gas impacts and there are alternatives,” said Councilman Kriss Worthington, who sponsored an initial measure but then moved to send it to both commissions to vet “all possible objections” from the petroleum industry.
The design idea for the stickers, which could change, currently includes a statement reminding consumers that California “has determined that global warming caused by CO2 emissions poses a serious threat to the economic well-being, public health, natural resources and the environment of California.”
The idea was modeled on warnings on cigarette packaging and crafted by a grassroots environmental organization known as 350 Bay Area. A San Francisco supervisor is also working with the group to promote similar labeling there. A Canadian organization is moving forward as well.
Targeting All of Us, “the Consumer”
This is exciting, and shows what we can do at the local level. Will it immediately cease purchases at the gas pump? Maybe not. But the point of sale is a great place to have people stop and think about the impact of their purchases. And it is consumers that can drive policy, whether it be higher gas mileage on cars and trucks; a carbon tax; or shift to cleaner sources of energy.
What she didn’t say, is that the people have spoken, and will continue to speak out against industrial-scale hydraulic fracturing in IL.
Gutting Illinois Fracking LawPosted May 27, 2014
The Illinois state legislature has been working hard over the Memorial Day weekend to circumvent the required public process related to rule making for the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has held 5 public hearings, and received over 35,000 comments to date. The IDNR has until November 2014 to complete the rule making process, which includes another round of public comments.
On Friday, May 23, Rep. John Bradley filed amendments to SB649 would completely re-write the Illinois fracking law and would end the public process that is already ongoing to write rules for that would regulate hydrofracking. If adopted, hydrofracking could move forward provided an applicant:
Is registered with the Department,
Has been issued a permit by the Department, and
Has obtained all applicable authorizations required by the Illinois Oil and Gas Act.
The Oil and Gas Act DOES NOT PROVIDE PROTECTIONS against the hazards of modern-day hydraulic fracturing. On Monday, May 26, a House Executive Committee voted 7-4 to advance Bradley’s plan that would speed up hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas in Illinois, despite protests from southern Illinois residents and environmentalists – including those groups who helped write the bill.
This is unconscionable and is a total disregard for the health and well-being of residents of southern Illinois AND our democratic process.
Call Speaker Madigan (217.782.5350 and (773.581.8000) AND your representative today to stop this nonsense and to vote NO on these amendments. Let them know how dangerous hydraulic fracturing is, and ask for a ban. It’s important you take action right away – the Bill could move to the house floor later this week. Click here to find contact information.
“On the heals of a holiday weekend approximately 40 citizens showed up in Marion to make it known that they are extremely unhappy with the recent underhanded actions of Representative John Bradley. The crowd packed Representative Bradley’s office, overflowing out into the hallway and stairs. Signs were held high as people made statements. Passionate pleas for banning fracking were met with cheers. Signs read: “Southern Illinois is not a sacrifice zone”, “We deserve equal protection under the law”, “Why do Chicagoans get protection and we don’t”, “Impeach Bradley”, and “Represent your constituents, not your financiers.”
Not everyone can attend for the full weekend from Friday evening to Monday noon. But that should not prevent anyone from coming for one or two days—or even just an evening. There are workshops, field trips, entertainment, and excellent meals available throughout the weekend. And for this unique offering, the price is very affordable.
For example, for a non-Heartwood member to attend all day from coffee tomidnight on Saturday or Sunday, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner—as well as all the speakers, workshops, field trips and evening entertainment—the price is $44.
To attend for just dinner, speaker, and evening entertainment on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday the price is $25.
To attend for the band alone on Friday or Saturday; or the Heartwood Talent Show on Sunday; the price is $15.
It is worth that just to be in beautiful Camp Ondessonk.
Lodging is available ranging from tent camping for $5 to cabins for $15 to modern suites at St. Noel Conference Center for $35 per person per night.
Our Forests Are Threatened by Resource Extraction … But Why Care?
Global Climate Change is one of the most serious environmental, social, and economic threats the world is facing today.
Did you know that global climate is influenced by changes in land cover? Logging and burning for large scale-agriculture, strip mining, road construction and residential and commercial development accelerate the rate of carbon dioxide release. Gas and oil and biomass extraction, transportation, and incineration immediately add huge volumes of carbon to the atmosphere in a negative feedback loop of accelerating carbon release and increasing climate change.
Heartwood Forest Council’s Forest, Climate and Carbon Campaign ties together all of their strategic programs, recognizing and promoting the forest’s role in mitigating climate change. Each year they host an event that brings together educators, professionals, activists, students and the general public, to continue the ongoing work required to protect the forests in our country’s heartland.
This year’s Forest Council gathering will focus on resource extraction. This is because forests in the heartland are subject to increasing pressures for natural gas drilling, coal mining and timber harvesting, putting our forests and their ability to store carbon at risk.
Join EJC at this year’s event, which will take place in Southern Illinois’ Shawnee National Forest. The weekend will consist of workshops, panels, presentations, field trips, music, merriment and food to fuel the bodies, minds and spirits of folks who want to be active in our fight for the preservation of our cultural and natural heritage. Topics include “forest watch”; baseline water testing; direct action and civil disobedience; and discussions of fighting fracking and coal mining in Southern Illinois and beyond. AND, there will be a Youth Environmental Summit (2014 YES!) taking place concurrently with the Forest Council.
What: Heartwood’s A Climate of Extraction and Youth Environmental Summit
Eco-Justice Collaborative presents on Sunday, May 25, at 2:00 pm. 2014 Online Registration is live now!
More on the Heartwood Forest Council HEARTWOOD is a regional network that protects forests and supports community activism in the eastern United States through education, advocacy, and citizen empowerment.
HEARTWOOD was founded in 1991, when concerned citizens from several midwestern states met and agreed to work together to protect the heartland’s hardwood forest. This region was once blanketed with a majestic hardwood forest containing more than 70 species of hardwood trees. Unfortunately, much of this forest has been cleared and what remains is mostly isolated fragments of public land that nonetheless play a critical role in providing habitat for wildlife, purifying the air and water, moderating global climate change, and offering places of beauty and enjoyment.
Today, their efforts remain rooted in the heart of the central hardwood region, with an emphasis on the “core states” of Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, and Missouri. Over time, Heartwood has branched out to serve areas of need throughout an 18-state region, giving special attention to the “at risk” national forests in Illinois, Michigan, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, West Virginia, North Carolina and Virginia.