Long Island Climate Solutions Network News Update 6/30/08

Contrary to even the most recent November IPCC (UN) scientific reports – the rate of change in the world is happening much faster than scientists anticipated.  The last few weeks the polar north has been making headlines online and around the world.  Reform efforts on LI and nationally are now accelerating.  Should 350 become a major focus of our attention (see McKibben story, When Words Fail, below)?   – Scott

North Pole to be ice-free this summer? June 30th Newsday

There’s a 50-50 chance the North Pole will be ice-free this summer, which would be a first in recorded history, a leading ice scientist says.

Weather and ocean conditions in the next couple of weeks will determine how much of the sea ice will melt, and early signs are not good, said Mark Serreze, a senior researcher at the National Snow and Ice Data Center and the University of Colorado.

Chances for a total meltdown at the pole are higher than ever because the layer of ice coating the sea is thinner than ever, he said. “A large area at the North Pole and surrounding the North Pole is first-year ice,” Serreze said. “That’s the stuff that tends to melt out in the summer because it’s thin.”

Preliminary February and March data from a NASA satellite shows the circle of ice surrounding the North Pole is “considerably thinner” than scientists have seen in the five years the satellite has been taking pictures, NASA ice scientist Jay Zwally said Friday. He thinks there is slightly less than a 50-50 chance the North Pole will be ice-free.

Last year was a record year for ice melt all over the Arctic , and the ice band surrounding the North Pole is even thinner now. A more conservative ice scientist, Cecilia Bitz at the University of Washington , put the odds of a North Pole without ice closer to 1 in 4.

Babylon leads with Energy Efficiency – June 16

In an innovative move, the Town of Babylon has set up an extensive program to work with citizens to pay for energy efficiency upgrades for every home in the town.  The basic premise of the program is that the town wants to help residents use less energy, so here’s what they plan to do.  They’re going to loan up to $12,000 at the super low interest rate of 3% to pay directly for renovation costs.  Under the program, residents get home energy audits that include recommended actions for renovations, including adding more insulation, changing out the HVAC system, etc.  The town pays for the renovations and the homeowner then makes payments to the town based roughly on the reduction in payments caused by having a more efficient home.  So it’s quite the innovative system.  Homes that go through the program are expected to reduce energy consumption by roughly 20-40%.

Newsday story – http://www.newsday.com/features/lifestyle/green/ny-libaby135725209jun13,0,1352226.story

Story from the Orlando Sentinel – http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/ny-libaby0613,0,3145574.story

4-day work Week? – June 24, 2008 Newsday

Trying to combat rising gas prices, the Suffolk Legislature approved a pilot program that will allow workers to take a flextime four-day work week or take furloughs over the next three months to cut down on commuting. However, Levy questioned such projections: “Those savings could be more than offset if the employee goes 10 miles to play golf, go to the beach or shop at the mall.” Horsely’s package includes a proposal directing the public works department to do a study in coming months to determine if any county buildings could be closed on Friday or Monday, in an effort to curb heating costs for next winter. He also proposed increasing the maximum fines on the county’s gas gouging law to $10,000 to match the penalities imposed by state law.

Net Metering Victory – Newsday, June 21, 2008

Generating green power to sell to LIPA

Businesses and other nonresidential power consumers will be able to sell electricity to utility companies around the state that they generate by solar, wind or other renewable-energy-powered equipment under legislation passed this week by the State Legislature. Gov. David A. Paterson said Thursday he’d sign the package of bills, and the Long Island Power Authority said it would begin implementing the legislation quickly.  About 1,200 Long Island homes generate their own electric power, Law said, and about 227 had surplus power to sell to LIPA last year.

LIPA Poised to Become First Utility in State to Launch Commercial Net Metering to Encourage More Use of Solar Energy.

LIPA President Law commends Governor Paterson and State Legislature for passing bill to authorize net metering changes statewide – from LIPA press release

Can we Build Carbon Neutral? Networking Magazine, June 2008

Carbon-neutral in 2030 (using no fossil fuel GHG-emitting energy to operate). These targets may be accomplished by implementing innovative sustainable design strategies, generating on-site renewable power and/or purchasing (20% maximum) renewable energy and/or certified renewable energy credits. ­For complete information, see www.architecture2030.org/2030_challenge

NJ Dealing with Solar Policy’s Success – NY Times, June 25, 2008

There is a backlog of more than 700 applications for the rebates, and property owners have to wait months, even years, to get solar panels installed. The program, which is paid for by surcharges on all utility bills, has been shut down several times over the last three years because applications far outpaced rebate money. Some solar installation companies have had to lay off workers while they waited for rebate checks to be sent.

California Offers Detailed Plan to Cut Emissions – NY Times, June 26, 2008

California will introduce a detailed plan on Thursday to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels in 12 years by requiring more energy-efficient appliances and buildings, lowering vehicle emissions and generating 33 percent of its energy from renewable sources.  But the greatest source of reductions would come from capping emissions from utilities, industrial facilities and other businesses, while allowing them to use permits to emit authorized amounts of pollutants. The companies could buy and sell these permits with their counterparts in seven Western states and three Canadian provinces.

NYS moving forward with nation’s first carbon trading scheme. – Newsday, June 7, 2008

As a federal bill to limit greenhouse gas emissions died Friday in the U.S. Senate, New York State moved ahead with plans to participate in the nation’s first regional carbon-trading scheme, which aims to reduce emissions from Northeast power plants.  The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, is a 10-state compact that would require utilities to buy allowances for every ton of carbon dioxide they produce. Emissions would be capped at current levels for the first six years, then scaled back for an overall reduction of 10 percent by 2019. Proceeds from the sale of New York ‘s 64 million credits would pay for energy efficiency and clean energy projects.

LI School District Budgets Dismantled by out-of-control June 25, Newsday. Joie Tyrrell

Over the past year in the Southampton school district, the price of diesel fuel for the district’s 48 buses has more than doubled from $2.09 a gallon to $4.24. It takes 60 gallons to fill up one school bus – in other words, the district now pays more than $12,000 to fill its fleet. At the same time, heating oil has skyrocketed too. “All bets are off. This is unprecedented,” said Maria Smith, assistant superintendent for business in Southampton . This district is not alone. Schools across Long Island are being hit hard with high energy costs, and some predict it’s only going to get worse.

When Words Fail – Bill McKibben in Orion. July/August 2008

But a number works. And this is a good one. Arcane, yes—parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere. But at least it means the same thing in every tongue, and it even bridges the gap between English and metric. And so we secured the all-important URL: 350.org. (Easier said than done.) And we settled on our mission: To tattoo that number into every human brain. To make every person on Planet Earth aware of it, in the same way that most of them know the length of a soccer field (even though they call it a football pitch or a voetbal gebied). If we are able to make that happen, then the negotiations now under way, and due to conclude in Copenhagen in December of 2009, will be pulled as if by a kind of rough and opaque magic toward that goal. It will become the definition of success or of failure. It will set the climate for talking about climate.  So the literary challenge—and the challenge for artists and musicians and everyone else—is how to take a mere number and invest it with meaning. How to make people understand that it means some kind of stability. Not immunity—we’re well past that juncture, and even Hansen says the number is at best the upper bound of safety, but still. Some kind of future. Some kind of hope.

Survey: Schools not energy efficient – June 28, 2008 Newsday

School energy costs have doubled since 2000 and most schools do not have energy efficient equipment in place, according to a survey of 17 Long Island school districts presented by U.S. Rep. Steve Israel Friday at Deer Park High School . Only one district in the survey uses some form of alternative energy, only three are using the most efficient form of fluorescent lighting and nearly half have water heaters more than 30 years old, according to the study conducted over the last two months with National Grid. The survey covered 17 school systems within Israel ‘s congressional district in western Suffolk . That’s why Israel believes the federal government should step in with financial incentives to help schools become more energy efficient and less dependent on foreign oil, he said Friday.

LICSN member – Jonathan Grindell – “Group hopes LIPA will help its garden grown” Newsday – June 30th

Verizon’s Garden City Hdqrs wins DOE Energy Star Award June 30th

“Fuel Cells powering Verizon” – Largest commercial fuel-cell site of its kind in the country.  People from all over the world have toured” the building, where about 1,000 Verizon employees work, said Jeremy Metz, the telecommunication company’s manager of energy sourcing….The 300,000-square-foot building on Zeckendorf Boulevard – in operation since 2005 – uses seven fuel cells, each about the size of a small tractor. The fuel cells, which cost $1 million each, help reduce the Verizon building’s reliance on commercial electric power and provide a new layer of network reliability in the event of natural disaster, outage or peak commercial power demands.

NY Times: A World Without Nuclear Weapons June 30th

In two opinion articles in The Wall Street Journal, they described a frightening new world of ever-expanding nuclear appetites, in which traditional deterrence no longer works. They argued that the only way for the United States to rally the cooperation it needs to confront such dangers is with a clear commitment to the goal of a world without nuclear weapons.  They called for backing that up with policies that have also long been anathema to hawks: including banning all nuclear testing, taking American and Russian missiles off of hair-trigger alert and agreement on “further substantial reductions” in both countries’ arsenals….Senator Barack Obama has embraced their proposal. Senator John McCain has not, but has called for a revival of arms control negotiations with the Russians and deep cuts in both countries’ arsenals.

Faced with High Gas Prices, Travelers Turn to Mass Transit. By Lena H. Sun, WashPost, June 3, 2008. “Soaring gas prices are pushing more Americans to take public transit, with streetcars, trolleys and other light rail experiencing a 10.3% increase in ridership for the first quarter of the year, according to a report released yesterday by the American Public Transportation Association. Americans took 2.6 billion trips on all modes of public transportation, including subways and buses, in the first three months of 2008, a 3.3% increase, or almost 85 million more trips than in the same period last year, the report said. ‘There’s no doubt that the high gas prices are motivating people to change their travel behavior,’ APTA President William Millar said.”

‘Yale Environment 360’ Magazine Launches Online. Press Release, Yale University , June 3, 2008. “Yale Environment 360, a new online magazine dedicated to covering the global environment, is launching today… Edited by Roger Cohn, the former editor of Mother Jones and Audubon magazines, Yale Environment 360 aims to become one of the leading Web sites for commentary and reporting on the crucial environmental issues of the day. The magazine’s inaugural edition features articles by noted environmental advocate and author, Bill McKibben; New Yorker staff writer Elizabeth Kolbert; climate scientist Richard C.J. Somerville; marine biologist and author Carl Safina; British journalist Fred Pearce; and many other writers and thinkers. The first issue contains reports, analysis, and Op-Ed-style pieces on such issues as climate change, the concept of ‘clean coal,’ the impact of water shortages on global food supplies, and the challenge of crafting an innovative energy policy in the U.S. E360’s initial postings also showcase reporting from China, the Amazon, and Russia and include a thought-provoking interview with Nobel Prize winner Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC.”

Some Climate Books

  • What We Know About Climate Change by Kerry Emanuel, Judith A. Layzer, and William R. Moomaw. 2007. MIT Press.
  • Climate Change: What It Means for Us, Our Children, and Our Grandchildren by Joseph F. C. DiMento (Editor), Pamela M. Doughman (Editor). 2007. MIT Press.

Journalist Perspective

  • With Speed and Violence: Why Scientists Fear Tipping Points in Climate Change
  • by Fred Pearce  2008

One Response

  1. […] ?The last few weeks the polar north has been making headlines online and around the world.http://www.onthewilderside.com/2008/06/30/long-island-climate-solutions-network-news-update-63008/the study says the combination of the two provide a unique fingerprint … … dream matt mousse […]

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