My favorite New Years quote (NYTimes 12/28) comes from Dr. Frank Convery, an economist at the University of Dublin, and refers to the strides made by Ireland to reduce their overwhelming fiscal deficit while creating low carbon emissions with the introduction of a carbon footprint tax. By introducing the tax and changing behavior, Ireland has reduced its emission by 15% since 2008. Dr Convery: “You don’t want to waste a good crisis to do what we should be doing anyway.”
I was reading an interesting article about the decline of the Truffle in today’s NY Times. Seems like this delicacy of the rich is in decline and some believe it is because of hotter summers, little rain and points to change in climate as the culprit-making the harvest small and forcing the price to skyrocket. Interesting enough as it is to read about the decline of the truffle and its price rise to $1,200 a pound, it points to sadder realizations. We are all effected by climate change-but the poor, as usual, are and the ones who will feel it the most. How will someone in the South Pacific start a new life when they have to leave their home because rising sea levels has destroyed their island community? How will the poor deal with the rising rates of malaria and other disease that spike with warmer temperatures. CNN reports that millions will lose their livelihood because of desertification. I am not so worried about the truffle-but it just one more reminder of where we are headed.
Some of us know the terrible feeling of calling for a child in a crowded mall or on a busy street and realizing that your cries or the cries of your child might be drowned out by the noise around us. Now the ocean most precious mammals are sharing our dismay and being drowned out by noise pollution in our oceans, making it difficult for them to find their offspring, mate and prey. And we are to blame.
A recent New York Times article describes the underwater noise as deafening with blasting and gun firing for exploration of gas and oil and roaring noise coming from commercial and cargo ships traversing the seas at an ever more frequent rate. An amazingly distressing photo mapping image from The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows just how much of the area around your coastal waters is an underwater cacophony. NOAA ‘s mapping results highlight the urgency of protecting our ocean inhabitants-from ourselves.
Whilst the Doha Conference on Climate Change focuses on policy-driven initiatives to limit CO2 emissions, an article in this month’s National Geographic demonstrates the importance (and questions) of commercially-driven action.
Fracking, the process of accessing natural gas deposits in shale, has reduced US reliance on dirty fossil fuels, such as coal and oil and helped reduce CO2 emissions by more than 7% since 2005 ( US Environmental Protection Agency).
The picture sounds rosy, except that as CO2 emissions have declined, methane emissions have risen and methane traps at least 25 times as much heat. Just last week the EPA released a study of its final research of hydraulic fracking and its effect on the environment. The Huffington Post published an article with the pros and cons that outlines the risks and the benefits. Could shale gas be worse for the environment than coal? Should we be investing in hydraulic fracking or look to renewable energy to help curb our emissions?
Still, some hope lies in the fact that the capture of methane is a great opportunity to slow global warming, since it is much easier to capture than CO2. Moreover, as a valuable fuel, it raises the possibility of its capture as a commercially-driven prospect rather than policy-driven. One thing that is very clear; there isn’t an easy answer and something needs to happen to protect our already fragile environment and the health of future generations.
Claire Calleawart is a W2O Board Member. She has her Masters in Zoology from Cambridge University. Read more about Claire in the November Board Member Profile
NPR’s Richard Harris’ report about the talks in Doha this month continue to highlight the need for countries to step up efforts to support treaties that will unite nations in the fight against climate change. There are so many complicated issues; can there be a single agreement, how will wealthy nations support vulnerable ones and protect them from loss, damage, disaster or even disappearance because of rising sea levels. 2020 is too late to rein in global warming.
Anne Peacher is a woman on a mission. She is direct, meets your eye and is passionate about her role as advocate for reducing plastics in the Weston Public Schools. You want her on your team-she is clear, driven, and will negotiate her way past any obstacle. A resident of Weston for twenty years, Peacher says that the W2O event, “Plastics in the Ocean, Plastics in You” with Plastic Pollutions Coalition’s Dianna Cohen “jump started her towards advocacy” and encouraged her start of Weston Plastic Free Campuses.
Traveling with her family, she has witnessed first hand how much plastic washes up on once pristine beaches and shorelines. She recommended that her kids give up water bottle usage last year for lent and having her family on board helped her delve further into action. “I have incredible support from the Superintendent of Weston Public Schools, Dr. Cheryl Mahoney and all the principals in the district. I am working alongside the Director of Athletics, Mike McGrath and Head of School Food Services Tess Sousa. This group, along with the tremendous efforts from Students for Environmental Action, helped make changes like replacing plastic milk bottles with cartons, creative pricing of water bottles to discourage usage and including essential “plastic free” items on back to school lists for children and parents. We are using the positive messaging of Reduce, Recycle, Reuse and REFUSE to get the message out to children and we couldn’t do this without a fabulous team of students, faculty and parents.”
Anne is taking the plastic free model one step further-to the entire Weston community. As committee member for the Weston 300 Celebration next year-she is insisting that the events be plastic free! Go Anne!
Maybe it is the bit of her mom’s British heritage that gives board member and head of our Finance Committee Dianne Brown an air of humble responsibility that she calls her “avocation to protecting the ocean.” Land locked in Ohio growing up, you might wonder how she came to be drawn to the ocean and especially her passion, its mammals. “Yes, I love the fish, but its the ocean’s mammals that inspire me to want to leave a legacy of healthy oceans for my children.” That inspiration came from visits to England, hiking with parents and grandparents with a keen sense of responsibility towards the natural world, and time spent on the ocean in Ct and RI, kayaking and learning more about marine ecology with her two girls. She feels that being interested in conservation and especially the ocean is a choice that allows her to help take responsibility for what she believes in, while showing her girls how to make good choices and encouraging them to take leadership roles to educate others on the importance of protecting our oceans and its inhabitants.