Climate Corner: What Can an Individual Do?

Jul 31, 2021

George Banziger
editorial@newsandsentinel.com

Human-caused climate change is rapping on our collective door with increasing urgency and with palpable visibility—even in the Mid-Ohio Valley. Before this summer we knew about oceans rising, warming, and becoming more acidic, disappearing glaciers (especially in the northern hemisphere), and constantly rising temperatures since the advent of the industrial revolution.  More recently, we have seen triple-digit temperatures in the Pacific northwest, uncontrolled wildfires in the west, and unprecedented floods in western Europe. Summer 2021 is on pace to be the hottest on record in North America. The impact of climate change has now become evident in the Mid-Ohio Valley. Smoke and particulates from the western fires have migrated into the Ohio Valley and have affected our air quality; The Washington County engineer has cited challenges of record rainfall in contributing to the many land slips in that county. My colleague in the Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action team, Aaron Dunbar, has described the warning signs about climate change and the tipping point we may soon be reaching after these several “once-in-a-millennium” extreme weather events.

In the face of all this discouraging news one can feel hopeless and inconsequential as a single individual. But there is an opportunity to take immediate action as a concerned and informed citizen in the current “climate” of the Congress. In the U.S. Senate within the next two weeks senators will be discussing a budget reconciliation bill. A carbon pricing feature will be incorporated into this bill if senators hear from their constituents that it is important to them. Budget reconciliation may be adopted by the senate if 51 of its members agree to certain adjustments in spending and revenue. A price on carbon, that is, a fee assessed on the producer for oil, natural gas, or coal. These fossil fuels are what account for a large share of the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing the climate change that we are all experiencing.

Why a price on carbon, you may ask. First of all, such a move will get us to net zero emissions by 2050 with a blend of renewable fuel sources that provide clean, affordable energy. The move to carbon pricing will send a signal to the economy and to industry to attend to energy efficiency, electric energy from renewables, and carbon capture. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions will save 4.5 million lives over 50 years by decreasing premature deaths due to air pollution. Energy companies will, of course, raise their prices for products like gasoline, but economists have shown that up to 85% of individual Americans can cover the increased costs by the dividend that is provided to them through the carbon pricing program.  In a re-imagined Appalachia that can advance from a dependency on coal and other extractive industries, carbon pricing and increases in investment in renewable energy can bring sustainable good jobs to our region as well as cleaner air and water.  

There may be concerns about the cost of carbon pricing. Consider, as the alternative to the status quo, the long-term costs of the federal government and other insurers to compensate for property and human loss in the events of extreme weather, such as increasingly violent hurricanes, wildfires, flooding, and droughts.

Other ideas for reducing greenhouse gases have been offered in the past including cap and trade, which would create another bureaucracy to administer such a policy. And instituting more environmental rules to respond to climate change would require a complex web of multiple regulations across multiple agencies.

Responding to the climate crisis is popular. Eric Engle of the MOVCA in a previous Climate Corner piece has cited the fact that fully two-thirds of Americans are concerned about climate change.

The Citizens Climate Lobby has arranged a convenient procedure to express your views on carbon pricing to your senators. Simply go to cclusa.org/senate. There you will find some advice about how to word your e-mail and phone message as well as the phone numbers for your senators (Senator Manchin – 202-224-3954 and Senator Capito – 202-224-6472). Please do what you can soon to help save our planet.

Watch for future Climate Corner articles about climate action in the infrastructure bill.

George Banziger, Ph..D., was a faculty member at Marietta College and an academic dean at three other colleges.  Now retired, he is a volunteer for the Mid-Ohio Valley Interfaith, and Harvest of Hope. He is a member of the Green Sanctuary Committee of the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Marietta, Citizens Climate Lobby, and of the Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action team.

Climate Corner: Talking to kids about climate change

Jul 24, 2021

Linda Eve Seth

editorial@newsandsentinel.com

“Never shelter children from the world.” — Roald Dahl

***

Whether you think our changing climate is a man-made situation or just part of a natural cycle, there is no denying that there are increasing numbers of record-breaking high temperatures, low temperatures, hurricanes, droughts, floods, tornadoes, wild fires …

Whether you get your news and information from the TV, a newspaper, the radio, or from an online source (or likely all of the above) the effects of a warming planet and changing climate patterns are in the news daily.

If the young people in your home are paying any attention at all, they may be struggling to deal with the constant barrage of anxiety-provoking news about the environment. Your kids are hearing warnings and prophecies regarding climate change in the news, on TV, online, in science classrooms, maybe even on the school bus. It’s all around them.

The realities of the world today are tough for parents to grapple with. But it’s even more tough for kids. Our youth deserve to be hopeful about their future.

If adults (parents/teachers) ignore the changing environment, they short change the children in their orbits, but teaching kids about such a complex and unsettling issue can be daunting for any adult.

Parents who are nervous about bringing up climate change with their child might prefer to wait for a teacher to raise the subject first. But parents have a distinct advantage over educators because the former know their children’s interests, their emotional intelligence, and how they’ll be affected by news that’s difficult to hear.

There are plenty of ways to talk about what’s happening to the Earth in age-appropriate ways without frightening a child. The key is to lay a foundation for children to appreciate and be curious about the natural world. The first step parents can take is to help their children develop an appreciation of the natural world before trying to explain climate change. That could mean watching a nature documentary together, visiting a wildlife center, growing a garden, or introducing a child to natural habitats like a creek, beach, or forest. Such experiences give kids a sense of why taking care of the earth is important, which ultimately helps them grasp the stakes of climate change — and care about preventing it.

But understanding the underlying science — let alone its many impacts on the effects of climate change on oceans, animals, crops, land, and the air we breathe — is admittedly complicated. So, for a simple second step, consider sharing books about the environment with your kids; LEARN TOGETHER.

The following books give children the facts — sometimes straight up, sometimes wrapped within the story-telling — to help them learn about the rapidly warming, melting, flooding, parching world that their generation is urgently tasked with protecting.

Here are a few titles to get you started:

* Ages 9+ “Rising Seas” by Keltie Thomas

* Ages 10+ “When the Sky Breaks” by Simon Winchester

* Ages 6-10 “A Place For” by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Higgins Bond

* Ages 8-12 “The Global Warming Express” by Marina Weber, illus. J. Whysner

* Ages 7+ “Look at the Weather” by Britta Teckentrup

* Ages 5-6 “Great Polar Bear” by Carolyn Lesser

* Ages 3-7 “The Digger and the Flower” by Joseph Kuefler

There are many more books on the subject. Ask your local librarian or the science teacher at school to recommend some that might suit your child’s age, interests, and intellect.

For more specific suggestions about how to talk to your kids about climate change, watch this column next month for a follow-up piece with a few more detailed ideas.

Until then, be kind to your Mother Earth.

***

Linda Eve Seth, SLP, M.Ed., is a mother, grandmother, concerned citizen and member of MOVCA.

We are in a climate crisis

The bargainhunter.com

Randi Pokladnik

July 18, 2021

For more than 800,000 years, the carbon-dioxide levels on Earth remained below 300 parts per million. However, since the beginning of the industrial revolution in the late 1800s and the burning of fossil fuels, levels have climbed from approximately 280 ppm to a record high of 415 ppm on April 1, 2021.

As the planet heats up at an alarming rate, West Virginia’s Sen. Joe Manchin thinks we are “setting a very aggressive time table” to reach net-zero emissions. Manchin, the chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, told attendees at a recent conference held by the Edison Electric Institute he was worried about coal. It is obvious he’s not worried about the climate.

Neither are most politicians who ignored addressing climate change in the infrastructure bill. The New York Times reported the $579 billion bipartisan bill “does relatively little to fight climate change, an issue that the president has called an existential threat.”

Economically speaking, when it comes to the climate crisis, it is a matter of pay me now or pay me a lot more later. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission said in 2020, “By 2050 the costs from climate-change damages could range from $50 trillion to $140 trillion, yet decarbonizing the U.S. grid in 20 years would cost only $4.5 trillion.”

If we cannot afford the costs of an infrastructure bill that truly addresses climate change, can we afford the market costs (economic) and nonmarket costs (lives) that continue to be lost as a result of a warming planet? Regardless of what some politicians might believe, we are in a climate crisis.

France experienced a devastating cold snap this spring. An unusually warm March caused grapes to bud prematurely only to be hit with frigid temperatures in April. It was estimated over 80% of the vineyards in France experienced damage. The economic loss was estimated at $2 billion. Researchers say these early warming periods are happening more often as a result of a warming planet.

The French Alps appeared to be bleeding this spring. It was not blood making the ice red but an overgrowth of a red algae found in the higher elevations of the mountain range. As carbon-dioxide levels increase and nutrient-rich pollution reaches the mountains, these algae multiply rapidly, similar to the blue-green algae that have caused problems in Lake Erie and the Ohio River.

The algae responsible for causing red snow belongs to the genus Sanguina. Because darker colored algae absorb rather than reflect sunlight, they create a positive feedback loop. The higher the carbon-dioxide levels, the more algae growth, and the more algae growth, the more heat is absorbed.

Just last month the Pacific Northwest was hit with a historic record heat wave killing 116 in Oregon and 78 in Washington. It caused fires to erupt in the region. Scientists determined this heat wave was 150 times more likely because of man-made induced climate change.

The heat wave and subsequent heating of shoreline water along the Pacific Coast was cited as the cause of death of more than a billion sea creatures such as sea stars, clams, snails and muscles. Portland, Oregon reached a record-breaking high of 116 F.

Elsa, the fifth tropical storm of 2021, became a record setter as the earliest named “E” storm on July 1, edging out Edouard, which was named on July 6, 2020. Elsa is the earliest hurricane observed in the Caribbean since Hurricane Alma in May 20, 1970. Elsa arrived a month earlier than the normal start date for the Caribbean storm season, which is Aug. 10.

One would think these climate events and hundreds of others are enough to justify taking definitive and quick action to move the world away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy. Sadly, that’s not the case, especially in the U.S.

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said, “I don’t know about you guys, but I think climate change is bull-(expletive deleted).”

But Dr. Michael Notaro, associate director of the Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research, said data shows Wisconsin’s climate is changing. The months of November, December, March and April now have very little snow. Most of the snow is now compacted into the middle of the winter season in January and February.

The senator might want to consider a report by the Natural Resource Defense Council that shows Wisconsin has a lot to lose economically if they lose their winter season. Winter sports generate $373 million in labor income alone.

Brian Mark, Ohio’s state climatologist, and Aaron Wilson, a senior research associate at the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center, point to examples of climate-change impacts in Ohio. There are longer drought periods, more intense rainfalls, a noticeable lack of snowfall across the state and the explosion of ticks in forested areas. Mark said while we don’t see wildfires like California, we are seeing higher nighttime temperatures where the lows stay in the 80s in the summer and people must run their air-conditioners more often.

Unfortunately, a majority of Ohio’s state politicians and the current governor seem to be ignoring this issue. Instead of encouraging renewable energy, they have done everything in their power to thwart it and promote fossil fuels.

In May of this year, the Scioto Analysis, an Ohio public policy research group, released a study that showed Ohio is vulnerable to climate change. The study also showed if the state were to adopt energy policies such as a renewable portfolio standard, cap-and-trade system or a carbon tax, it could result in substantial economic gains for the state and the world.

If any state in the U.S. is seeing the effects of climate change, it’s Florida, the state that banned their Department of Environmental Protection from using the term climate change. Instead of acting to remedy climate change, Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida, signed into law on June 21 a bill that will prevent cities from shifting away from fossil-fuel sources.

Similar bills have been signed into law in other states, like Texas, a state that saw a record-setting winter storm this past February. The freezing weather and failing energy grid were responsible for the deaths of over 80 people.

Contrary to what Sen. Manchin thinks, we need an aggressive time table to curtail the worst effects of climate change. We cannot afford to remain inactive. Greta Thunberg has repeatedly said, “I want you to act as if the house is on fire because it is.”

Climate Corner: River can’t be sewer, drinking water source

Jul 17, 2021

Randi Pokladnik

  • editorial@newsandsentinel.com

The Ohio River gets its name from the Iroquois Indian word Oyo, meaning great river. It is formed by the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers starting in Pittsburgh. The river is 981 miles long with the deepest point (132 feet depth) being close to Louisville, Ky. The river is home to 20 locks and dams, 49 power generating facilities, and carries over 230 million tons of cargo each year. It is also the drinking water source for over 5 million people.

I grew up close to the river in the 1960s in Toronto, Ohio. My siblings and I could climb up the hill behind our house and get a great view of the river. That view also included the Titanium Metals Corporation as well as Weirton Steel’s Brown’s Island coke ovens. We kids tried to imagine what the river might have looked like when only the First Nation tribes lived along its shores; a time when the water was clean enough to drink without worry.

Sadly, the river is notorious for being one of the most polluted in the nation, receiving pollution from both point and non-point sources. A non-point source is an amorphous source and includes things like run-off from agricultural sources or parking lots. While these sources do impact the river, they are often hard to monitor or control.

In the fall of 2019, an over-300-mile stretch of the river was affected by a harmful algal bloom (HAB) caused in part by non-point source pollution. According to the National Resource Defense Council, “an algal bloom is an overgrowth of microscopic algae or algae-like bacteria in fresh, salt or brackish waters.” Depending on the type of algae, blooms can be benign or toxic. Those, like the one on the Ohio in 2019, are caused by blue-green algae and can produce toxins like microcystin.

Officials blamed the bloom on drought conditions as well as high temperatures, but nutrient pollution plays a big factor in increasing harmful algal blooms. These nutrients (nitrogen and phosphates) are present in precipitation run-off from places like animal feedlots, farms and urban lawns.

Point sources of pollution, sources where one can point to a discharge pipe, are equally as dangerous. Public records reveal that over 6,900 toxic-containing discharges are poured into the river’s watershed. These discharges can be from industrial or municipal sources.

Discharges into the river fall under the Federal Clean Water Act. Some of the initial goals of this legislation were “to eliminate the discharge of pollutants into navigable waters by 1985”and “to prohibit the discharge of toxic pollutants.” This would be accomplished by having facilities obtain a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit (NPDES).

There are over 40,000 active NPDES permits in the Ohio River watershed. Although these permits must allow for public comments, according to Jim Hecker, environmental enforcement director for Public Justice, very few people can actually monitor and comment on permits and it is difficult to know what to even say in a permit comment. This is why only a handful of people or environmental groups comment in each state.

Even then, environmental departments in individual states along the Ohio River have the final say in granting and enforcing permits. A study from Fronter Group and Environment America Research and Policy Center examined NPDES permit data from 2011 to 2017 and found the following: there were 491 major facilities in Ohio and 407 facilities in West Virginia that had exceeded the requirements for their permits; facility inspections were down significantly; fines for violations were minimal at best; and state officials showed a “lack-luster” enforcement of permits.

Since its formation in 1948, the organization responsible for tracking water quality issues in the Ohio River is the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission or ORSANCO. This eight-state federally funded organization is the only watchdog we have to monitor organic and inorganic pollutants in the Ohio River.

Recently, ORSANCO held their Technical Committee meeting online. These meetings are open to the public, and the data is also available on their webpage. Dr. Sherri Mason, a chemistry professor from Penn State, shared her concerns over plastics and microplastics contaminating freshwater sources like the Ohio River. We know from studies that single-use plastic wastes are wreaking havoc with our health and the environment. Yet, there are plans to build more single-use plastics making cracker plants along the Ohio River. The Shell Ethane Plastic Cracker Facility in Monaca, Pa., is scheduled to go online by Spring of 2022.

ORSANCO’s technical staff has no system in place to detect microplastics or the toxic plasticizers used in making plastics. There is currently no baseline data on how much microplastic materials, including fibers and pre-production pellets (nurdles) are in the Ohio River.

There are also plans to build underground storage (Appalachian Storage Hub) for natural gas liquids in salt deposits under the Ohio River. Powhattan Salt Company LLC wants to withdraw over 1,900,000 gallons of freshwater from the Ohio River on a daily basis to create just one of several planned storage caverns. They also plan to store millions of gallons of the resulting salt brine next to the river behind a dam, with the outflow of the dam flowing into the Ohio River.

A network of companies recently announced their intentions to move “millions of gallons of briny, toxic, wastewater from shale gas drilling and fracking operations” via barges down the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers. These wastes can contain high levels of water-soluble Radium-226. ORSANCO does not have the capabilities to test for this isotope.

If the Ohio Valley region becomes the next petrochemical hub of the USA, the Ohio River and its watershed will indeed be severely impacted. The river cannot be both a sewer and a source of drinking water. Mark B. Hamilton, author of the recently published book, “OYO. The Beautiful River,” said of the Ohio River, “a river without water; food we cannot eat; water we cannot drink; a swim we cannot take.”

***

Randi Pokladnik, Ph.D., of Uhrichsville, is a retired research chemist who volunteers with Mid Ohio Valley Climate Action. She has a doctorate degree in Environmental Studies and is certified in Hazardous Materials Regulations.

Climate Corner: Water protectors

Jul 10, 2021

Giulia Mannarino

editorial@newsandsentinel.com

My journey to climate activism began when my husband and I became fossil fuel refugees. We affectionately called our small farm, located in Greene County, Pa., just a mile from the West Virginia state line, “Almost West Virginia.” We lived there for decades, raising our children and their myriad pets as well as sheep, goats, fruits and vegetables. Then we watched in horror as the fossil fuel industry began to frack the Marcellus. We witnessed the destruction of our self-sufficient lifestyle, our community, and our planet as our rural area transformed into a fossil fuel industrial zone. We moved to Wood County.

A Minnesota chapter of Interfaith Power and Light (IPL), sent me an e-mail inviting me to attend the Treaty People Gathering (TPG), an event to be held in early June to protest a pipeline that continues the environmental racism waged against Indigenous people to benefit multi-billion dollar oil and gas companies. All meals would be provided and camping facilities were available. I jumped at the invitation because I love to eat, I enjoy camping and I was fully vaccinated. The more essential reasons were: I love water more than oil and I am deeply concerned about what Earth’s climate will be like when my grandchildren are my age if the production of fossil fuels is not reined in. The climate crisis is not just a tragedy, it is a crime. Big Oil is the most corrupt and dangerous industry on the planet. This industry has known for decades what it would do to our planet and their response has been public disinformation campaigns and lobbying to block climate action. I tried to think of a reason to miss this event but I couldn’t. All of the required elements were available: interest, time, health and money. It seemed important to be among those attending.

Ojibwe/Cherokee is the colonial term for the indigenous people known as Anishanaabe who occupy northern areas of so-called Minnesota. Several treaties were signed with the Ojibwe. In this situation, the Treaty of 1855 is most often mentioned. Pipelines already criss-cross Anishanaabe territory. This particular fight is against Line 3, a pipeline owned by Enbridge, a Canadian company. Enbridge claims that because this project is a “replacement” pipeline, an environmental review is not warranted and Minnesota agrees.

In fact, the leaky section of the pipeline is not being removed at all and will be kept in the ground. The replacement pipeline, which incidentally would expand tar sands oil production by 20 percent, is taking a completely different route through the (one wonders if it is intentional!) pristine Minnesota lakes of the White Earth Reservation, where wild rice grows and has been harvested by the indigenous residents for generations. The legacy of the Anishanaabe involves the prophecy that their people would settle where “food grows on the water.” They see themselves and all who support their movement as “water protectors.” In addition to the continued destruction climate change is causing to the planet, their argument against pipelines is one of treaty rights and the fact that our Constitution recognizes treaties as “the supreme law of the land.”

The TPG included a ride share network and I opt to join a group of ten who will be departing from Philadelphia in a rental van and are willing to stop in Pittsburgh to pick me up. After 2.5 days of travel, we arrive in time to set up camp before the opening ceremony/orientation and the first group meal where attendees line up in categories which include vegan, vegetarian and omnivore. The next day is a “training” day. It starts with speeches (i.e. treaty rights) then activities dependent on the involvement chosen; “red” willing arrest, “yellow” might be arrested and “green” no arrest. All participation was equally important to the three separate events planned for three separate locations the following day. Groups for each of the sites practiced various strategic crowd movements and chants. Our final instructions are to board vehicles at 7:45 a.m. the following morning, Monday, June 7, the Day of Action.

Early the next morning, Enbridge employees voluntarily leave when small groups of protesters peacefully overtake each location. By the time vans later drop off additional protesters, the serious folks had chained themselves to various pieces of equipment. Long-time leader of an indigenous-led anti-pipeline group, Winona LaDuke, a Harvard educated Environmental Attorney and founder of Honor The Earth, gave an inspiring speech at the pumping station as did her good friend Jane Fonda and then both were off to march at the mouth of the Mississippi with Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org.

A few protesters tore down posters proclaiming Enbridges’ concern for the environment, but no one damaged any equipment. The intention was to disrupt the daily operations and bring attention to the general public across the USA and the globe that not only are Treaties being ignored but the climate crisis is urgent and real. Many media outlets were present to cover the events. Throughout the day the protesters chanted, erected barricades, ate snacks and stayed hydrated.

In the evening, three busloads of police, in full riot gear, from both the County Sheriff’s Department and State Police arrive at the pumping station. The remaining protesters, those who planned to be arrested, linking arms and chanting, faced the line of police. A couple of brutal arrests were made. Crews for the police arrived to unchain the 20 or so individuals from the equipment. By the time these individuals had been unlocked, handcuffed and placed in police vans amid the supportive cheers of the crowd, it was twilight and darkness descended quickly. Police cars with lights glaring surrounded the final crowd of about 200 who had linked arms and sat down awaiting arrest. Because County jails quickly filled to capacity, the final group of arrested protesters were handcuffed, received a citation and immediately released.

Please contact President Biden and let him know the people protecting the water are not the criminals in this situation; the real criminals are the government and pipeline company harming the planet.

Climate Corner: Warning signs

Jul 3, 2021

Aaron Dunbar

editorial@newsandsentinel.com

The snow is bleeding.

Yes, you read that correctly.

The typically white snow that covers the French Alps has been observed darkening to a blood red hue, producing a phenomenon known as “glacier blood.” This disturbing trend is triggered by the green microalgae that live in the snow turning red as a response to rising temperatures. What’s more, as the Alps darken they absorb even more sunlight, creating a feedback loop that’s likely to destabilize the entire ecosystem as global warming spirals out of control.

I have to admit I’m a bit of a sucker for these near-biblical portents of climate doom. Another favorite of mine came in the form of a magpie filmed during the 2019/2020 Australia wildfires. The black and white bird can be observed vocally mimicking the sound of the New South Wales fire sirens, so constant and ubiquitous they’d become as flames ravaged the nation.

The warning signs we’re being given are anything but subtle. The natural world is going completely haywire, and it takes a deliberate, concerted effort not to notice that something is very, very wrong.

As I write this, the Pacific Northwest finds itself in the grip of a record-breaking, once-in-a-millennium “heat dome.” The typically moderate climate in Portland has been replaced by 112-degree temperatures, while the state of Washington has surpassed its all-time high record for the month of June, with ground temperatures in Wenatchee reaching a mind-boggling 145 degrees. Such intense, unprecedented heat is actively destroying infrastructure throughout the region, melting electric cables and threatening to disrupt power grids.

If you pay any attention at all to stories about climate change, you’ll quickly notice that such “once-in-a-millennium,” “once-in-a-century,” and “once-in-a-lifetime” weather events, from freak heat waves to monster hurricanes, are taking place more and more frequently with each passing year. Keeping in mind that we’re still in the relatively embryonic stages of the climate crisis, you can expect such disasters to become increasingly common and more deadly with time.

In Florida, meanwhile, a 12-story condominium recently collapsed in Surfside, Miami, causing at least twelve deaths at the time of this writing, with 149 people still missing. Although far from the sole cause, it’s currently being speculated that elevated sea levels played a significant role in the tragedy, prompting further concerns about the inability of coastal infrastructure to handle our rising seas.

One might hope that such concerns over infrastructure in the face of climate catastrophe were being taken seriously. But recent days have also seen our milquetoast corporatist president (who took over $1.5 million in oil and gas money during the 2020 election) reaching an infrastructure “compromise” with Republicans, few of whom even believe that climate change exists, or that Biden himself is even the actual president, for that matter.

Not only did this brilliant negotiating needlessly slash proposed infrastructure spending by more than half, it also scrapped major climate change measures, while simultaneously positioning public infrastructure to be sold to the private sector in order to pay for new infrastructure. This is likely to come at a significant cost to every day citizens, in addition to making it far more difficult to adapt our society to the challenges of climate change.

West Virginia golden boy and hostage taker of the already-toothless Democratic Party Joe Manchin (who’s received a career total of $493,995 in oil and gas contributions) has complained that Biden’s climate goals are too “aggressive,” even as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change steps up its warnings on climate tipping points, beyond which global heating and its myriad of repercussions are likely to become irreversible.

In my own state, corrupt Ohio lawmakers are busy actively working to prevent the expansion of wind and solar projects, essentially destroying the renewable energy sector, as well as badly needed economic growth, in the process.

If all of this seems like a lot of doom and gloom, that’s because quite frankly it is. There is no easy way to put a positive spin on what’s happening at the moment. We are absolutely failing to respond to the climate crisis, and we need to acknowledge that fact.

Our leaders are failing us. We are failing our children, and their children, and their children’s children’s children.

I cannot stress enough the urgency of the situation we’re in, and the scale of the action necessary for us to have even a hope of combating the climate crisis at this stage. Now is the time to act, in whatever capacity you possibly can.

It is absolutely critical that we force our leaders to rise to this threat before it’s too late. It’s clear by now that they will not do so on their own, and it’s up to all of us to hold them accountable.

We no longer have any choice but to radically transform our broken politics, our destructive energy systems, and our fractured society.

We are all firsthand witnesses to the dawn of the climate emergency. We live in it now, and we will live to see our world burn to the ground around us if we fail to take bold and immediate action.

***

Aaron Dunbar is a member of Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action.

Suggested Readings for July

June 2021 MOVCA Selected Media Postings

Compiled by Cindy Taylor

Appearing online in The Parkersburg News and Sentinel:

June 21, 2021 Community News, staff report

“Out MOV invites community to Parkersburg celebration”

https://www.newsandsentinel.com/news/community-news/2021/06/out-mov-invites-community-to-parkersburg-celebration/

June 15, 2021 Local News Article by Brett Dunlap, reporter

“Mountwood Park sees flooding after heavy rainfall”

https://www.newsandsentinel.com/news/local-news/2021/06/mountwood-park-sees-flooding-after-heavy-rainfall/

Appearing on-line in the Charleston Gazette-Mail:

June 23, 2021 Op-Ed by Cindy Rank, Rock Cave, chair the Extractive Industries Cmte of WV Highlands Conservancy

“Cindy Rank: Pipeline needs more inspectors”

https://www.wvgazettemail.com/opinion/op_ed_commentaries/cindy-rank-pipeline-needs-more-inspectors-opinion/article_576e8bc4-811e-51e9-8418-d0b6f1a99d95.html

June 18, 2021 News article by Mike Tony, Staff writer

“Manchin’s influence in infrastructure package talks looms over hopes for sweeping investments in energy transition”

https://www.wvgazettemail.com/news/energy_and_environment/manchins-influence-in-infrastructure-package-talks-looms-over-hopes-for-sweeping-investment-in-energy-transition/article_6f61d29a-159d-5449-829b-16d765302f14.html

Tuesday June 8,  2021  Op-Ed by Eric Engle

“Eric Engle: Manchin’s stance on For the People Act nonsensical”

https://www.wvgazettemail.com/opinion/op_ed_commentaries/eric-engle-manchins-stance-on-for-the-people-act-nonsensical-opinion/article_913da379-c9ed-5b53-92f0-9ad1896e4868.html

Appearing on-line in The Bargain Hunter (Weekly news magazine serving Ohio Counties: Holmes, Tuscarawas, Wayne, and the surrounding area. Stark, Medina, Summit and Cuyahoga):

June 4, 2021  Column by Dr. Randi Pokladnik

“Spills are threat to surface water in Ohio”

https://thebargainhunter.com/news/columnists/ills-are-big-threats-to-our-surface-water-in-ohio

Appearing on-line on Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC) or Hoots and Hollers(blog)  

June 14 , 2021 blog Article

“Talking to EPA on Chemical Plant Safety and Your Community”

June 9, 2021  Blog Article

“Chemical Plants and Protecting Your Community: Speak Up to EPA”

Appearing on-line on Ohio River Valley Institute https://ohiorivervalleyinstitute.org :

June 24, 2021  Article by Sean O’Leary

“FIDdlesticks: Why PTTGC can’t make up its mind”

June 15,  2021  Article by Eric de Place

Fact-Checking Fitzgerald on Fracking

June 14, 2021  Article by Eric de Place

“The Future of the Ohio River Is in Sri Lanka”

June 14, 2021  Article by Ted Boettner

“REGROW Act Could Provide $1.7 Billion to Clean Up Hazardous Wells in Appalachia”

June 7, 2021  Article by Eric Dixon

“Appalachia Could Address Poverty and Build Worker Power by Reforesting Mine-scarred Land”

Appearing on-line in WV Public Broadcasting and WOUB (PBS):

June 24, 2021 Energy & Environment News Article by Shepherd Snyder (text & audio)

“Water Protection Project in Jefferson County Aimed At Environment, Safety, Green Jobs”

https://www.wvpublic.org/energy-environment/2021-06-24/water-protection-project-in-jefferson-county-aimed-at-environment-safety-green-jobs

June 15, 2021 Energy & Environment Article by Eric Douglas. Text and audio

“Rising CO2 Levels Could Change W.Va.”     Interview w. Professor Cartwright, Science & Meteorology at Marshall U.

https://www.wvpublic.org/energy-environment/2021-06-15/rising-co2-levels-could-change-w-va

Friday, June 11, 2021 News Article by Curtis Tate / Ohio Valley ReSource

“West Virginia Coal Plants Need Upgrades. Three States Will Decide Their Fate”

Thursday, June 3, 2021 Energy & Environment News Article by Eric Douglas (text & audio)  

“Book: ‘Holding Back The River’ Looks At American Waterways”

Tyler Kelley interviews Eric Douglas, author of Holding Back The River

https://www.wvpublic.org/energy-environment/2021-06-03/book-holding-back-the-river-looks-at-american-waterways

Wednesday, June 2, 2021 News Article by Liam Niemeyer / Ohio Valley ReSource

“The ‘Beef’ With Beef: Cattle, Climate Change, And Alternative Meat”

Available on-line at West Virginia Rivers:

June 24, 2021 Article and links to WV Stream Watch Training video and other resources

“New WV Stream Watch App Helps Citizen Scientists Document Water Pollution”

June 23, 2021 documentary video by WV Rivers

“Mountain Valley Pipeline: 50 Violations to Water Quality Standards”

June 15, 2021 Article and links for Action to submit comments to WVDEP

“Your comments Needed on Mountain Valley Pipeline – Act by June 22”

Available on-line on ReImagine Appalachia https://reimagineappalachia.org: 

Check out resources available under Local Grassroots at https://reimagineappalachia.org/local/grassroots/

 And resources under Local Officials at https://reimagineappalachia.org/local/officials/

Find the Blue Print and Jobs Studies Policy Briefs for WV, PA, and OH (by the PERI Institute)  for Reimagine Appalachia at https://reimagineappalachia.org/resources/ 

Available on-line on West Virginia New Jobs Coalition  https://www.newjobswv.org 

Link for THRIVE Jobs Report for WV

Appearing on-line Ohio Valley ReSource:

“AppalachAmerica” New Podcast  (began March 26, 2021) Hosted by Jeff Young and reporters at the Ohio Valley ReSource . See episode description and links:

June 14, 2021 “Episode Eight: Imaging A New Appalachia”

May 27, 2021 “Episode Seven: Gas Pains”

May 20, 2021 “Episode Six: The Long Arc of the ARC”

May 6, 2021 “Episode Five: Buried History”

April 29, 2021 “ Episode Four: The Energy Switch”

April 22, 2021 “Episode Three: Major Change for Miners”

April 15, 2021 “Episode Two: ‘Power and Powerlessness’”

April 6, 2021 “Episode One: Climate Change in Coal Country”

March 26, 2021 “Introducing: Welcome to AppalachAmerica

Omitted from May media report:

May 28, 2021  Energy and Environment article by Curtis Tate

“Appalachian Coal Is A Major Source Of Methane, A Potent Greenhouse Gas”

Appearing on National Public Radio (NPR):  

June 24, 2021  Feature by Dan Charles (text and 4-minute audio) Heard on All Things Considered

“For The Climate And Fairness, Take Buses And Sidewalks Before Electric Cars”

https://www.npr.org/2021/06/24/1006225485/for-the-climate-and-fairness-take-buses-and-sidewalks-before-electric-cars

June 23, 2021 Environment Feature by Dan Charles (text and 4-minute audio) Heard on All Things Considered

“Bringing Back Trees To ‘Forest City’s’ Redlined Areas Helps Residents And The Climate”

https://www.npr.org/2021/06/23/1006223328/bringing-back-trees-to-forest-citys-redlined-areas-helps-residents-and-the-clima

June 22, 2021 Environment Feature by Dan Charles (text and 4-minute audio) Heard on Morning Edition

“What’s The Best Way To Help The Climate And People, Too? Home Improvement

https://www.npr.org/2021/06/22/1003382636/home-improvement-could-be-a-1st-step-toward-climate-justice

June 21, 2021 Environment Feature by Dan Charles (text and 5-minute audio) Heard on Morning Edition

“The White House Wants To Fight Climate Change And Help People, Cleveland Led The Way”

https://www.npr.org/2021/06/21/1003227623/cleveland-wants-climate-justice-can-the-biden-administration-help

June 15, 2021 Energy News Article (Associated Press)

“Biden’s Ban On New Oil & Gas Leases is Blocked By A Federal Judge”

https://www.npr.org/2021/06/15/1006948814/bidens-ban-on-new-oil-and-gas-leases-is-blocked-by-a-federal-judge

June 13, 2021 Special Series: Environment and Energy Collaborative. Article by Jeff Brady

“Tackling ‘Energy Justice’ Requires Better Data. These Researchers Are On It”

https://www.npr.org/2021/06/13/1004873139/tackling-energy-justice-requires-better-data-these-researchers-are-on-it

June 8, 2021 Special Series: Environment and Energy Collaborative. Article by Jeff Brady. Audio Morning Edition.

“ ‘Energy Justice’ Nominee Brings Activist Voice To Biden’s Climate Plans”

https://www.npr.org/2021/06/08/1004059950/energy-justice-nominee-brings-activist-voice-to-bidens-climate-plans

Appearing online on Battery Storage News:

June 15, 2021  Solar Article by BATTNEW

“Bill Gates farm in Ohio could become giant Savion solar farm”

National Attention:

Online on NBC News:

June 3, 2021 Article by Sahil Kapur with video link

“’Five-alarm fire’: Liberals use Jan.6 panel blockade as rallying cry to abolish filibuster”

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/five-alarm-fire-liberals-use-jan-6-panel-blockade-rallying-n1269448

  100+  organizations signed Letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer calling on end to the filibuster. MOVCA signed as a member of The Declaration for American Democracy Coalition (DFAD).  

Climate Corner: Making better choices

Jun 26, 2021

Nenna Davis

editorial@newsandsentinel.com

My awareness of human impact on the environment began during a conversation with my grandpa when I was a child. At dinner he was discussing the banning of DDT pesticides and how it was going to have a negative effect on garden production. He understood that the banning of DDT was because it was harming birds. It wasn’t until high school that I understood the greater impact, after reading “Silent Spring,” by Rachel Carsen.

In her book, she writes about DDT … “important studies established the fact that the insecticidal poison affects a generation once removed from the initial contact. Storage of the poison in the egg, in the yolk material that nourishes the developing embryo, is a virtual death warrant and explains why DeWitt’s birds died in the egg or a few days after hatching.” “Silent Spring” was published in 1962, and here we are 59 years later still using insecticides … albeit not DDT. As you likely know, insecticides are not only killing the detrimental insects, but our pollinators, too.

In addition to the loss of our pollinators the use of insecticides is having a deleterious effect on our environment as they contribute to climate change. In an intergovernmental study it was found that 30 percent of emissions that are attributed to climate change can be directly linked to agricultural activities, which includes the use of insecticides. How do they contribute to climate change, you may ask? They contribute to the nitrous oxide in our atmosphere, which is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

A study completed in 2017, by Jamieson, Burkle, Manson, Runyan, Trowbridge, and Zientek and referenced on the U.S. Department of Forest Service website, discusses the negative effects climate change has on plants, specifically the phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are compounds that are produced by plants to help them fight off bacteria, fungi and some viral infections and can be found in fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, etc. These phytochemical changes are believed to be having a negative impact on plant-insect interactions, as well.

So, as an incidental gardener, I am experiencing the negative impact of two variables on my garden as my harvest decreases each year. I have been looking for differing ways of controlling for pests, weeds, and plant diseases that do not have a negative impact.

To solve the problem of insect damage in my garden, I am using an integrated pest management system. There are several components to this system but have chosen the cultural controls and the mechanical controls. Cultural control is the use of crop rotation, tilling, pruning/thinning and using timed planting. My grandpa would tell me that this was important so you wouldn’t “wear out” the soil. The mechanical controls I use are things such as traps, netting, and in some cases hand destruction (picking the naughty culprit off the leaf by hand). Another example for me, is the use of Beetle Bags in June.

To assist with my veggie/fruit pollination, I plant oodles of flowers around and in my garden. I surround my garden with zinnias, butterfly weed, cleome, marigolds and various other flowers. Not only do these plants attract pollinators, provide food and refuge for insects, but they provide a barrier to rabbits and deer who like to munch on my garden for their early morning or late evening meals.

As for my impact on climate change: My goal is to be mindful of my own choices. I was taught at an early age to leave things the way I find them, including to leave the land as I found it or even better.

***

Nenna Davis, B.S Zoology/Botany; MA, Organizational Communication; Master Gardener.

Engle: The house is on fire; will we stop lighting matches? (Opinion)

WV Gazette Mail

6/24/2021

As the White House and Congress discuss infrastructural investments, including green energy and sustainability, and ideas like tax code changes to pay for them, the time to act on the global climate crisis is running shorter than many of us may think.

A draft of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report due out in its entirety by February 2022 recently was leaked to French news outlet Agence France-Presse and came with dire warnings.

“Species extinction, more widespread disease, unlivable heat, ecosystem collapse, cities menaced by rising seas — these and other devastating climate impacts are accelerating and bound to become painfully obvious before a child born today turns 30. The choices societies make now will determine whether our species thrives or simply survives as the 21st Century unfolds,” said the IPCC.

The draft report’s authors continue, “Life on Earth can recover from a drastic climate shift by evolving into new species and creating new ecosystems … humans cannot.”

The draft report also mentions 12 “tipping points,” or points at which irreversible climactic changes set in that have a negative domino effect on global life-support systems and inhabitants. A couple of examples include the drying out of parts of the Amazon rainforest, causing the forest (often referred to as “Earth’s lungs”) to become a grassy savannah, and the melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets, a phenomenon already underway, which causes dramatic long-term rises in sea levels and affects ocean currents, circulations and chemistry.

The good news is, it doesn’t have to be this way, or at least not as dire. According to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency, reported on in The Guardian newspaper, “Almost two-thirds of wind and solar projects built globally last year will be able to generate cheaper electricity than even the world’s cheapest new coal plants.”

The Guardian reported that, “In less than a decade, the cost of large-scale solar power has fallen by more than 85%, while onshore wind has fallen almost 56% and offshore wind has declined by almost 48%.”

The report summary states that, “The trend confirms that low-cost renewables are not only the backbone of the electricity system, but that they will also enable electrification in end uses like transport, buildings and industry and unlock competitive indirect electrification with renewable hydrogen.”

Despite these energy trends, however, our federal government is still subsidizing fossil fuels to an enormous degree. A new analysis from the Stockholm Environment Institute finds that, “The U.S. government added as much as $20 billion a year to the value of new oil and gas projects over the last two decades, amplifying companies’ expected profits during the shale booms in the Bakken, Appalachian, Haynesville, Eagle Ford and Permian basins.” The report also states that, “Subsidies likely played a substantial role in making new gas projects in Appalachia viable, beginning in 2010, when more than 30% of new gas projects may have been subsidy-dependent.”

This is planned obsolescence. How myopic can our elected officials be? We have got to end these dirty energy and product subsidies in the tax code. We also need a price on carbon, to do what economists would refer to as internalizing the externalities (aka making the fossil fuels industries and others pay for the damage their products cause to our bodies and our planet) and to help fund a transition for fossil fuel industry families and communities, as my friend Jim Probst wrote about in this paper recently.

It’s time for all hands on deck. Time is running out. Republicans obviously aren’t interested in addressing any of these issues, so let’s eliminate the filibuster in the U.S. Senate and pass strong legislation that meets the urgency of the moment. And let’s make sure that even Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin understand one thing: No climate, no deal.

Eric Engle, of Parkersburg, is chairman of Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action, a board member for the West Virginia Rivers Coalition and co-chairman of Sierra Club of West Virginia’s executive committee.

MOVCA promotes ‘WV3C’ webinars during transition

Jun 24, 2021 Marietta Times

PARKERSBURG — Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action’s usual Third Thursday programs will resume when protocols for safe, in-person, indoor public programs are clearly established. Until then, MOVCA is pleased to attend and promote the Summer 2021 Fair Transition Webinar Series, “Putting Together the Pieces of a Fair Energy Transition – Leaving No One Behind,” as programming for MOVCA this July and August.

Sponsored by the West Virginia Center on Climate Change (“WV3C”), the WVU College of Law Center on Energy and Sustainable Development, and the WV Climate Alliance, (and supported by the Dunn Foundation and by Rafe and Lenore Pomerance), the series of free, expert-led, live/interactive online hour-long webinars – each with different speakers and panelists – will be offered from 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 13; and Tuesday, Aug. 10. For more information, or to register, go to wvclimate.org/summer-2021-fair-transition-webinars. Post-event recordings will be available to registrants who are unable to attend at the scheduled time.

“The theme of these webinars ties in well with our support for the THRIVE Act and agenda, as well as relating to the goals of our new subcommittee, New Jobs Appalachia.,” said Jean Ambrose, who leads the NJA committee.

Information for webinar on Tuesday, July 13:

Speaker – Chris Hansen, PhD, Co-Founder and Director at the Colorado Energy & Water Institute. He represents District 31 in the Colorado State Senate, where he chairs the Appropriations Committee. He will discuss the “Colorado Just Transition Action Plan” to assist fossil fuel communities in the transition to a clean energy economy

Panelists – Angie Rosser, Executive Director, WV Rivers; Ann Eisenberg, Assistant Professor, University of South Carolina School of Law; Evan Hansen, represents District 51 in the West Virginia House of Delegates and is President of Downstream Strategies.

Information for webinar scheduled for Tuesday, August 10: TBA

Leadership team member Adeline Bailey said, “We are also hoping to schedule some additional programming of our own – either in-person or on Zoom – as well as tabling at events this summer, to be announced.”

At this time, MOVCA’s regular business meetings held on the first Thursday of each month will continue on the Zoom platform. Members and guests are welcome to attend these meetings and get involved in the many activities and projects of the group.

Contact Eric Engle (ericengle85@yahoo.com) to receive the link to access the group’s Zoom meetings.