Bill McKibben, The New Republic September 22nd 2016

The future of humanity depends on math. And the numbers in a new studyreleased Thursday are the most ominous yet.

Those numbers spell out, in simple arithmetic, how much of the fossil fuel in the world’s existing coal mines and oil wells we can burn if we want to prevent global warming from cooking the planet. In other words, if our goal is to keep the Earth’s temperature from rising more than two degrees Celsius—the upper limit identified by the nations of the world—how much more new digging and drilling can we do?

Here’s the answer: zero.

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Several council representatives from four cities gathered on Friday at the New Talent Community Center for a Networking Breakfast to discuss efforts, both underway and aspirational, to promote clean energy.  Hosted by Southern Oregon Climate Action Now and Rogue Climate, the breakfast served to allow council members and city staffs who have clean energy efforts underway to share what they are doing with one another and with those cities having an interest in launching such programs.

Recorder Ray Mallette, Mayor Darby Stricker, Mayor John Stromberg, Councilor Jim Lewis, Staff Adam Hanks, Facilitator Morgan Lindsey Councilor Collins; Photo by Allen Hallmark

L – R Recorder Ray Mallette, Mayor Darby Stricker, Mayor John Stromberg, Councilor Jim Lewis, Staff Adam Hanks, Facilitator Morgan Lindsey Councilor Collins; Photo by Allen Hallmark

 

The two hour gathering offered breakfast and an information exchange.  Each city contingent was assigned 6 minutes to for a teaser summary of their efforts or aspirations.  This session was followed by two twenty minute networking sessions where participants exchanged ideas in a more informal conversation.  The morning wrapped up with a discussion of what next steps might help stimulate further clean energy efforts in the Valley.

SOCAN Co-facilitator, Alan Journet served as Master of Ceremonies. Journet welcomed participants by assuring them that although SOCAN and Rogue Climate clearly are interested in promoting climate change action, this breakfast was an effort to promote networking and had no specific agenda of expected outcomes.  In that vein, participants freely discussed what their cities were doing and what they would like to see happen locally. They left with a better understanding of what is happening locally, and with contacts that might help them avoid re-inventing a wheel that had been invented by a neighbor city just down the road.

Mayor Stromberg kicked the morning off with a discussion of the Ashland Climate and Energy Action Plan currently under development and how effectively this is moving forward with enthusiastic citizen input.  Mayour Stricker followed up with a discussion of how Talent has been moving towards renewable energy both in city operations and among community residents.  Mike Quilty then explained how Central Point has been saving money by switching to more efficient city vehicles.  Jim Lewis explained how Jacksonville has become a ‘Green Power Community’ as a result of citizen involvement with Blue Sky program.  Jocie Wall, also from Jacksonville, closed this session with the hope of learning how a Conservation Commission or Committee might be established, and especially how small cities with limited resources might learn from other about developing clean energy efforts and stimulating water conservation.

Attendees generally indicated that this was a valuable first step, and looked forward to ongoing discussions via the personal contacts made or through future gatherings such as this.

Following the event, planning committee chair Journet indicated that although he was disappointed more cities didn’t send representatives, he was happy with the willingness of participants to share what they are doing and the outcome of greater appreciation among participants for what is happening locally.  He also expressed the hope that this first step would lead to future such gatherings to stimulate greater moves towards clean energy and a more sustainable local economy.

Attending the breakfast were Mayor John Stromberg, Councilor Rich Rosenthal, and City Staff Adam Hanks from Ashland, Councilor Mike Quilty from Central Point, Councilor Jim Lewis and Councilor and Mayoral candidate Jocie Wall from Jacksonvillle, and Mayor Darby Stricker and Councilor Christina Collins from Talent.

The Global Monitoring Division of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory has measured methane since 1983 at a globally distributed network of air sampling sites (Dlugokencky et al., 1994). A global average is constructed by first smoothing the data for each site as a function of time, and then smoothed values for each site are plotted as a function of latitude for 48 equal time steps per year. Global means are calculated from the latitude plot at each time step (Masarie and Tans, 1995). Go here for more details on how global means are calculated.

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Jeremy Deaton and Mina Lee, Think Progress, August 25th 2016

The dog days of summer were particularly dogged this year. July clocked in as the hottest month on record, marking the midpoint of what is likely to be the hottest year on record. With sweltering temperatures came a litany of crummy climate news — floods in Louisiana, Zika in Miami, searing heat waves across the Northeast — with dire implications for human health.

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Article by Bill McKibben in New Republic, August 15th 2016

In the North this summer, a devastating offensive is underway. Enemy forces have seized huge swaths of territory; with each passing week, another 22,000 square miles of Arctic ice disappears. Experts dispatched to the battlefield in July saw little cause for hope, especially since this siege is one of the oldest fronts in the war. “In 30 years, the area has shrunk approximately by half,” said a scientist who examined the onslaught. “There doesn’t seem anything able to stop this.”

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Many climate activists, including leading climate scientists James Hansen, argue that nuclear power should be promoted as a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Others argue against such a trajectory.

SOCAN’s position on this issue, along with our position on other climate related issues, can be found here:

3. Nuclear Energy? Acknowledges the potential role that nuclear energy might contribute to the U.S. energy mix on condition that only low risk and low toxic waste technology is promoted and the 1957 Federal Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act is repealed.

The Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act (see, for example here and here) enacted in 1957 was a critical economic element allowing the nuclear industry to develop.  The latest revision and extension until 2025 were enacted as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Under provisions of this bill, the nuclear industry pays into a fund that then indemnifies nuclear facilities in the event of an accident to the tune of some $10 billion – the legislated cap on indemnity. Unfortunately, the cost of nuclear accidents can be 50 times this amount.  This means the public is liable for excess costs over the arbitrarily determined cap.

Additionally, while the generation of electricity from a nuclear facility is greenhouse gas free, the nuclear fuel itself is a non-renewable resources and must be mined and processed, via an energy intensive process.  The nuclear facility itself must also be constructed and, when its life cycle is complete, it must be decommissioned, processes which are themselves energy intensive. And then there is the small matter of nuclear waste.  Though limited in amount, this must be preserved for extensive periods of time.

However, SOCAN is interested in facilitating a rational discussion of this issue.

SOCAN’s September General Meeting will feature a presentation by Charlie Sinclair arguing that the benefits of nuclear outweigh the costs and risks.

Some interesting perspectives on this discussion can be found at the following locations:

New Study Shows How Clinging to Nuclear Power Means Climate Failure
“By suppressing better ways to meet climate goals, evidence suggests entrenched commitments to nuclear power may actually be counterproductive”

As nuclear power plants close, states need to bet big on energy storage
“… due to negative opinion and costly renovations, we are now observing a trend whereby long-running nuclear power plants are shutting down and very few new plants are being scheduled for construction in the United States.”

A safe place for nuclear energy?
“Rewarding existing nuclear power plants for the value of their low-carbon power makes sense, but the nuclear industry has a lot of work to do if it is survive and thrive in the twenty-first century.”

Nuclear power deserves a level playing field
“Today The Conservation offers two expert perspectives on subsidizing nuclear power. These are the argument for and against ongoing support.”

NucCompete or suckle: Should troubled nuclear reactors be subsidized?lear Energy: Key to Climate Fight, or Dangerous Diversion?
“Some back readiness to expand nuclear power, if only as last resort in warming planet. Pros and cons of nuclear energy in context of climate change.”

Nuclear Power Is Losing Money At An Astonishing Rate
“Half of existing nuclear power plants are no longer profitable. The New York Times and others have tried to blame renewable energy for this, but the admittedly astounding price drops of renewables aren’t the primary cause of the industry’s woes — cheap fracked gas is.”

Fail-Safe Nuclear Power
“Cheaper and cleaner nuclear plants could finally become reality—but not in the United States, where the technology was invented more than 50 years ago.”

Can environmentalists learn to love – or just tolerate – nuclear power?
“In June, California utility Pacific Gas and Electric announced plans for phasing out its Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, located on the central California coast. If the current timetable holds, late summer 2025 will see the first time in over six decades that the nation’s most populous state will have no licensed nuclear power providers.”

 

Mt. Thielsen from the Thielsen View Campground

Mount Thielsen from the Thielsen View Campground

SOCAN Co-Facilitators Alan Journet and Kathy Conway escaped the Rogue Basin heat on August 20th to give a presentation at the USFS Umpqua Forest District Diamond Lake Campground Amphitheater. Besides the program, they enjoyed a couple of nights camping at the Thielsen View Campground, hiking, and visiting the waterfalls on Hwy 138.

The talk employed images of Oregon critters to help audience members make the connection between climate trends and projections and the plight of our natural world.

Western Environmental Law Center, August 16, 2016

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) released a new study Monday examining what caused a methane “hot spot” to form in New Mexico. This new study of methane emissions generated by the oil and gas industry in the state’s San Juan Basin is a major step forward in understanding the causes of New Mexico’s methane “hot spot.” It follows up on a 2014 satellite-based study that initially found the “hot spot” and sought to identify its specific causes.

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Nathaniel Berman, AlterNet August 15 2016

As the poet W.H. Auden put it, “Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”

One of the main reasons water is so critical to life processes is that it is the ideal vehicle for transporting critical substances in and out of living cells. “The way they’re bonded together makes water this wonderful universal solvent,” which means that almost every substance can dissolve in water, said Brian Glazer, an oceanographer at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. From regulating body temperature, transferring nutrients into cells and energizing muscles, controlling calorie intake, lubricating joints and flushing waste from the body, water is essential to life.

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John Queally, Common Dreams, August 15 2016

We’re under attack, said author and climate campaigner Bill McKibben, and the only way to defeat the enemy is to declare a global war against the destructive practices that threaten the world’s imperiled ecosystems and human civilization as we know it.

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