All Hands On Deck!

Yale Climate Connections: Lithium mining is much less impactful than coal mining. Video presents the Salton Sea as a huge reservoir of lithium in the U.S. Explains how the mining there is less polluting than other mining sites in the world due to how the lithium is geologically structured.

Because Virginia K-12 schools are allowed to purchase third-party solar, they lead in the U.S. for solar power generation. Also see Brighter Future 2022 Report on solar energy use among K-12 Schools nationwide.

Talking Through the Inflation Reduction Act: Volts Podcast: https://www.volts.wtf/p/talking-through-the-inflation-reduction#details

Diving further into the Inflation Reduction Act: Volts Podcast: https://www.volts.wtf/p/diving-further-into-the-inflation-d7e#details

Calculate savings with Rewiring America Calculator: https://www.rewiringamerica.org/app/ira-calculator

From EESI: How the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Work Together to Advance Climate Action – September 13, 2022

Rewiring America; Electrification and the IRA

From RMI: How Contractors and Electricians are Tackling Emissions in US Homes.

New Volts Podcast: What’s up with Manchin’s plan to reform energy permitting. David interviews Abigail Dillen at Earth Justice. 09=07-22

U.S. Department of Energy: Newsroom

Check here for Sept. 8 Webinar re: Careers in Clean Energy

The success of the climate bill depends on states, cities and us.

Come January 1, 2023 citizens will be eligible for tax credits for their homes and transportation. Each citizen can receive up to $2,000 in tax credits for energy saving purchases and installations of a heat pump, insulation, energy saving windows or appliances, and other weatherization costs. Tax credits for purchase of EVs is another investment that citizens can reap through purchase of a clean energy vehicle. The legislation invest in the industries producing the cars and trucks, and the infrastructure (recharging stations, battery production, etc.) to support it.

Axios article about these tax credits.

The tax credits will be refreshed each year for a decade. So, plan ahead: what do you need first, second, etc. Over the decade you may be able to greatly reduce the amount of energy you need to keep your home warm in winter and cool in summer. These improvements will increase the value of your home. By millions of citizens participating, it creates a wave in the right direction: rapid transition to a clean economy. But, we all have to participate for it to work. Spread the word and help neighbors and friend to invest in their homes and transportation.

I suggest also that you subscribe to Volts Podcast on Substack Publishing Platform, moderated by David Roberts. See podcasts 1 and 2 about the details in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) legislation. These are long but worth the listen as it includes estimates through modeling about how likely we are to meet the climate goals to reach carbon pollution reduction to the 2005 level by 2030.

There are still unknowns since each state may handle these funds differently. **If your state is not acting within the spirit of the funding, go to your state reps and local council to make sure they use the funding as it was intended. Call them out publicly, use social media — we have to make this happen. Every hour counts now as to how much we can put the brakes on climate-induced forces that are causing record floods, heat, fires and droughts here and abroad.

As I learn more details I will continue to post information for you and your family to take advantage of these savings programs. **I invite each of my readers to comment back with what they are learning with links if possible.

The success of this legislation is directly dependent on us participating as much as we can. There are provisions for offering communities without the resources to take advantage of these savings through nonprofits and other community programs which will assist families in weatherizing their homes and reducing energy costs.

One more thing: if effective programs to reduce climate risk are in danger of misuse or, not used, due to politics, shout it from the rafters! Generations are depending on us to do the right thing.

HEAT.GOV

New Resource about Heat and Health. Sign up for webinars and links to follow on social media.

Also, check out this article by David Klepper Associated Press on the deleterious impact of climate misinformation.

See below also, my novel about heat and water issues in Tucson, Arizona. Learn how different cultures respond to living in hot places with limited water. Consider the wildlife affected by human induced climate and follow Duma, a jaguar in the Sierra Madre Plateau. We can solve this problem and live better.

Threshold - a Novel about Climate Change in the Southwest
Novel about Climate Change in Tucson and the Southwest

Growing and securing world food supplies during war and climate change …

Most of us do not pay much attention to the geography or politics of food production, trade, and distribution. In western countries in general, we go to shop and the food is simply there on the shelves.

Today, steady and abundant food supplies are not a given for anyone. We’ve already experienced a sharp rise in food prices in the U.S. caused by the rising price of gas and other inflationary conditions such as interruptions in global and national supply chains.

Famine is present in war-torn countries (Syria, Yemen, Ethiopia) and it may become more generally present in countries where dependence on imports of grain can be disrupted by conflicts.

Climate change threatens food supplies much more than war as it is changing the ecosystem functions of land and sea. We do not pay attention to this in our fractious human community, beset by troubles which hold our attention from the fact that food is becoming less obtainable for more and more people.

Read a New York Times Article by Michael J. Puma and Megan Konar where this is discussed as well as actions that governments must make to stabilize prices and availability of food. Not least of these is ending the war in Ukraine, which produces a lion’s share of the grain many nations depend upon.

COP26 Goals

COP26 will begin this coming Sunday in Glasgow, Scotland. Read the major goals of the conference here.

See this informative paper that explains the COP26 and the path to Glasgow. It is a hopeful but realistic summary of where we are and what is at stake now. Good way to get ready for following the gathering of world leaders.

Farmers Could Help Reduce Climate Change Impact

In Threshold, Dr. Carla Connors takes a 2-yr sabbatical from her job as a climate scientist to learn from ethnologists at the Mission Garden in Tucson who are growing heirloom seeds to test for viability in new climate conditions, while demonstrating many previous cultures’ farming practices in their Timeline Garden.

Carla investigates the potential of plants to sequester carbon from the atmosphere and deposit it into the soil. While this is a normal activity of some kinds of microbes in the plants we call legumes (barley, soy, clover), she wants to know if the ways farmers planted, grew, and harvested crops actually may be important clues to how farmers might help stem global warming.

carbon-farming-heroIts called CARBON FARMING. See this article from Modern Farmer, “Carbon Farming: Hope for a Hot Planet” by Brian Barth, March 25 2016.

Scientists now believe carbon framing could become an important and beneficial tool in fighting the rise of carbon dioxide in the air and could potentially reverse it while producing healthier food and enriching top soil.

The New Normal

Novel about Climate Change in Tucson and the Southwest
Novel about Climate Change in Tucson and the Southwest

We hear the expression “the new normal” so often that the phrase has entered the lexicon as a substitute for transformation of something previously thought to be a truth or a given. It means thinking about or doing something differently with a new set of parameters.

The New Normal is a pulse that heralds a significant change so that what is present no longer resembles what was past, and the operating instructions are still under construction.

Tucson’s New Normal” 115 degrees and more?

“Our big heat waves in Tucson won’t be 115, 117. They’ll be 130. And that means we’re going to have more than 100 days, probably pushing 150, 200  days a year above 100 degrees,” [Johnathon] Overpeck said. …What is the new normal we can expect?

“(It will not be) long before we start breaking 120 in Tucson and maybe even 125 or hotter in Phoenix. So that’s the new normal that we have to get used to,” Overpeck said. “(We’ll) probably continue to warm until about mid-century, but slowing down as we reach that point where we stabilize things. And then we’re stuck with that climate for hundreds of years.” ~ From Tucson News Now

READ THE NEW NORMAL FOR WILDFIRES IN THE WEST IN HIGH COUNTRY NEWS – Lindsey Gilpin, 8-13-16

 

Follow the Trees?

From Mt. Lemmon Homeowners Guide: http://mtlemmonhoa.org/plant-information.html
From Mt. Lemmon Homeowners Guide: http://mtlemmonhoa.org/plant-information.html

If we were really paying attention, we’d notice that trees are on their way up the mountains. With increasing drought and heat, soils evaporate more moisture. Trees are gradually found in greater abundance at higher elevations. Lower ranges where trees forested the landscape are turning to grass and woody shrubs.

In Tucson, where my novel, Threshold, takes place, a long term study dramatically revealed this “march up the mountains”.

Richard Brusca and a team of scientists found the lower ranges of mountain conifers and trees had advanced up the mountain over a 60-year period. During that time they also documented a decrease in average precipitation and a 10 degree increase in average temperatures on Mt. Lemon in the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson.

A study conducted in the ’60s established the baseline data for a companion study using the exact same transects and protocol to count the numbers of species in the study area. This allowed scientists to compare and document  changes over time.

The message? Forest communities are undergoing ecosystem change on a large scale and in a relatively short time.

 

 

GRID FAILURE: Are We Ready?

Living on the Gulf Coast I am painfully aware of what its like when the grid goes down. Moist, hot coastal air enveloped residents in Pensacola after Hurricane Ivan. In some areas of the seaside city, residents were without power for two weeks. Life came to a halt: no business could be conducted, no schools could function, only emergency services were available; finding  potable water and food became residents’ daily preoccupation.

But, what if the power grid in the U.S.A. went down? Security would be nonexistent, vulnerable people would perish from lack of cool or heat depending on the season. Markets would be down and silent. No trade could take place. The lifeblood of capitalism would be cut off.

How vulnerable is our grid? An article in the Wall Street Journal, How America Could Go Dark, reviews how substations on the grid are wide open to sabotage:

The U.S. electric system is in danger of widespread blackouts lasting days, weeks or longer through the destruction of sensitive, hard-to-replace equipment. Yet records are so spotty that no government agency can offer an accurate tally of substation attacks, whether for vandalism, theft or more nefarious purposes.

In my novel Threshold, a plot to disable the grid where hydropower is generated along the Colorado River system is discovered. It is designed to deliver a double whammy: loss of power and water. In the Southwest, that could be devastating.

The point is this: life percolates along in the face of climate change and other long-term security problems as long as citizens can turn on their lights and get water from a faucet. We are distracted by what is immediately before us : terrorism and violence and a failed political process that obfuscates the truth. Meantime, we are not paying attention to the trumpets sounding for our action.

Solutions will come at all levels of society. For example, the millions of dollars we need to secure our grid will require governments and business collaborations to make it happen. On the community level, citizens can bring pressure on officials for these reforms, and they can plan on municipal and neighborhood levels to protect people in the event of a grid failure or compromised water supply. See what Tucson is doing to promote neighborhood organizing for the latter.

Can a city make its own energy?

The novel Threshold explores possible outcomes in Tucson, Arizona as climate change continues to dry out and heat up the Southwest.

The National Climate Assessment targets heat, drought, and insect outbreaks among other impacts for the Southwest. Surface water supply is expected to decrease as snowpack and stream flow decrease.

Projected regional temperature increases, combined with the way cities amplify heat, will pose increased threats and costs to public health in southwestern cities, which are home to more than 90% of the region’s population. Disruptions to urban electricity and water supplies will exacerbate these health problems.

Threshold tells a story about characters caught in a spiraling heat emergency and black out that stuns the city. South Tucson, a city within the Tucson city limits, rises to become more self-reliant through a solar field and solar gardens.

Yesterday, Reuters published an interesting review about changes in solar industries, showing how big solar (large scale solar fields for example) are becoming cheaper and more efficient than roof-top solar.

Many trace the tipping point for utility-scale solar to a 2014 announcement by Austin Energy that it would buy power from a new 150 megawatt solar plant – enough to light and cool 30,000 homes – for 5 cents a kilowatt hour. At the time, it was a record low price for solar power. Since then, projects have brought the price below 4 cents a kWh.

In Tucson, the  Bright Solar program offers residents an opportunity to buy blocks of solar power from a solar field. When the grid goes down however, how can residents continue to generate power if they do not have their own home or neighborhood solar panels and battery storage?

It is important to think carefully about these new technologies and the opportunities they offer people for more democratic ownership of common resources. See the concept of Solar Commons.

As solar power becomes cheaper to generate, will everyone benefit? How can a city and utility work to make solar power available to everyone? As the solar industry develops, how can communities make sure their residents have access to new training and skills necessary for employment in the solar power industry?

In Threshold, South Tucson answers those questions and solves another challenge: the high rate of unemployed youth in their community.

 

Excessive Heat: Have We Passed a Threshold?

Threshold book coverAll across southern California and the Colorado River Lower Basin in Arizona as far south as northern Mexico, an excessive heat warning has been declared by the National Weather Service for the next 4-5 days.

Phoenix is expected to reach temps as high as 120 degrees — well above the norm for this time of year.

In my soon-to-be-released novel, Threshold, heat and evaporating water supply are two threatening conditions that impinge on characters. While the book is set in the “very near future”, the plot is contemporary and presupposes what might happen in a metropolitan city like Tucson, Arizona.

The impacts of climate change will be felt differently across a city or region depending on a person’s personal resources, both financial and social. I wrote the story in Threshold to explore what might happen, and allowed characters to tell me what they would do.

Enrique dabbed his grandmother’s face with cold water, but her breathing grew shallow. He ran to fill the tub with water. But when he turned on the faucet, no water came out. In a panic now, he returned to his grandmother. . . It took him a few seconds to comprehend what had happened.

WILL A “NEW NORMAL” SPUR INNOVATION?

The Citizen’s Guide for Resilience to Climate Extremes is a planning guide for neighborhoods to increase their resiliency and to institute climate solutions such as planting trees for shade and making walk-able, bike-able neighborhoods. It is a community-based model any city will find useful to mobilize citizen’s for climate change.

Check back to read Guest Bloggers from Tucson and the Southwestern region.