The sweltering month of July has come to an end, but not before over 2,000 records were broken by high temperatures. The Huffington Post reports that some cities hadn爱上海419
The coastal town of Lincoln City, Oregon, has a lot to lose if nothing is done about climate change. The town sits 11 feet above sea level, and unchecked climate change could erode its beaches or flood the town.
Residents are taking matters into their own hands. "We could ignore it, let the federal government deal with it," Mayor Lori Hollingsworth says. "We’re not willing to do that." Last year Lincoln City committed to becoming carbon neutral through renewable energy, energy efficiency, and offsets.
Communities like Lincoln City have long been ahead of Congress and the White House on climate commitments. Cities first began committing to Kyoto goals in 2005 through the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. Now more than 1,000 cities have signed on. But the community climate movement goes beyond local government initiatives. It’s a cultural shift involving people at all levels of the community, from tiny rural towns in red states to major metropolitan areas.
The Heart of Climate Action
The college town of Berea, Kentucky, one of the fastest growing communities in the state, is seeing its subdivisions expand and its farmland disappear. But one group of residents is making plans to help the community end its reliance on fossil fuels.
"We want to increase the resilience of our community in the face of all the threats—peak oil, climate change, economic contraction, ecosystem decline, population growth—the whole list," says Richard Olson, head of the Berea College Sustainability and Environmental Studies Program.
Berea locals have a goal they’re calling "50 x 25." By 2025, they aim to have the town using 50 percent less energy, deriving 50 percent of the energy it does use from local sources, getting 50 percent of its food from farms and processors within 100 miles of town, and generating 50 percent of its gross domestic product from locally owned, independent businesses.
Berea is one of more than 40 U.S. communities that have become Transition Towns, a movement that started when British communities began looking for ways to move to low-carbon economies. Transition Towns have formed a diffuse, grassroots network led by the individuals who are working to transform their own communities.
"What’s important, and I think different about the transition movement is that it pays attention to the inner transition as well as the outer," says Carolyn Stayton, executive director of Transition U.S. and a member of Transition Sebastopol in Northern California. Many Transition Towns have formed "Heart and Soul" working groups to "keep the community sensitive to the difficulty of making change," says Stayton.
The Transition Town Berea group holds monthly "reskilling" workshops to help locals acquire the know-how to grow their own food, weatherize their houses, and install solar panels. Their projects help neighbors replant lawns with edibles and build raised vegetable beds. They’ve also auctioned rain barrels hand-painted by local artists and organized a "100 Mile Potluck" to celebrate local food and farmers.
From the Ground Up
The Transition Towns movement in the United States is less than two years old, but it came from the seeds of earlier relocalization efforts and other community climate groups and nonprofits. The Towns have become successful by sharing training resources and experiences with existing groups and other communities, and reaching out to local government.
The key is to raise public awareness. "What we try to focus on is developing a positive vision of our preferred future," says Olson.
A lecture on climate change may not appeal to everyone, but you can interest people in things like gardening, Olson says. "We talk to them about heirloom seeds and what their grandparents grew and if they’d like to learn canning. We get them involved without even mentioning transition or sustainability."
Transition Towns across the United States engage people in a variety of community projects—including a local currency project in south Whidbey Island, Washington; a car share program in Louisville, Colorado; a reskilling festival in Ann Arbor, Michigan; and local energy initiatives in West Marin, California.
Interest in climate-readiness is growing as more communities of all kinds realize they are vulnerable to climate change impacts. Austin, Texas, has an ambitious plan to make city facilities, vehicles, and operations carbon-neutral by 2020. Charlottesville, Virginia, is creating a trail system for walking and biking to connect schools, parks千花网论坛
There are a lot of different ways people are responding to the tragic events currently take place in the Gulf of Mexico. Some right wing pundits — including Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh — have been blaming the worst human-caused environmental catastrophe in the nation’s history on, of all people, environmentalists. In a stunning twist of oxymoronic logic, the people whose mantra is “drill, baby, drill” have been placing the fault for this disastrous result of offshore drilling, on those who have opposed offshore drilling.
In his May 17th broadcast, Limbaugh complained: “What the environmental wackos are making us do is drill down 35,000 feet, when there’s oil practically begging to be taken out of the ground in areas that are now off-limits because of U.S. regime regulations.” William Kristol agreed, saying that it if weren’t for restrictions passed “after the Santa Barbara incident 40 years ago,” we would be drilling closer to shore, in shallower water, and everything would be okay.
Such statements make dramatic political theater, but their connection to reality is minimal to nonexistent. According to the federal agency in charge of offshore drilling, the Minerals Management Service, there are today 3,417 active shallow-water oil platforms operating close to shore in the Gulf of Mexico. This is more than 100 times as many platforms as are operating further out, in water depths of more than 1,000 feet.
But Kristol is right about one thing. The “Santa Barbara incident” he refers to did in fact help give birth to the modern environmental movement. That’s because, at the time, people responded to a horrible offshore oil spill not by blaming those who took threats to the biosphere seriously, but by mobilizing to protect the environment.
Here’s what happened: On January 28, 1969, an oil well being drilled six miles offshore by Union Oil Company of California (now part of Chevron) suffered a blowout. It took ten days to plug, during which 100,000 barrels of crude oil poured into the Santa Barbara Channel and onto the beaches of Santa Barbara. As the oil slick grew to cover 800 square miles, there was widespread shock and outrage. One reporter called it a sacrilege, and another said it was like watching mud thrown at the Mona Lisa. Californians were horrified as waves, thick with crude oil, broke on shore with a sinister silence. Many publicly burned their gasoline credit cards in protest.
As anger swept the nation, Congress passed the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which to this day requires environmental impact assessments and statements for all actions involving federal agencies that could have a significant effect on the environment. The following spring, millions of people took part in the first Earth Day. In the two years following the oil spill, more environmental legislation was passed than at any other time in the nation’s history. It was during this period that President Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and signed the Clean Air Act.
But the Santa Barbara oil spill was child’s play compared to what’s happening now. Every single day, the BP catastrophe (also called the Deepwater Horizon oil spill) is vomiting as much crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico as was spilled in the entire duration of the Santa Barbara disaster. This assault against the natural world on which our lives depend has been going on since April 20th, and no one knows when it will stop. The best-case scenario at present is that relief wells may be operative by August, by which time something like five to ten million barrels (210 to 420 million gallons) of oil will have gushed into the ocean. But it is by no means certain that the relief wells will succeed in terminating the flow of oil. Worst-case scenarios, which include the whole seabed of the Gulf collapsing, are so dire that they are difficult to comprehend, with the most extreme rivaling worldwide nuclear war in their apocalyptic implications to life on earth.
There remains a great deal of uncertainty about how bad this will be. What’s certain is that we are now at a far greater turning point in the history of our relationship to oil than we were 40 years ago when the Santa Barbara incident took place. The millions of barrels of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico now add to the other massive burdens that stem from our oil addiction. Climate change, the trade deficit, military entanglements in the Middle East and Venezuela, air pollution in our cities, and rapidly growing rates of asthma among our children are other consequences of our unabated oil consumption. It is no exaggeration to say that how we respond to the current upheaval will help determine the future of this nation, and indeed what manner of civilization our planet can sustain in the generations to come.
The good news is this: Contrary to what might logically be inferred from the pronouncements of some right wing pundits, oil consumption is not akin to a constitutional right. Nor is oil equivalent to the oxygen we need to breathe. Rather, it is an addiction. A formidably tenacious addiction, yes, but an addiction from which we may yet recover.
Weaning our economy from the addiction to oil would certainly mean making fundamental changes in the way we live, and thus far, despite being drawn into war after war in pursuit of oil, we have not been willing to make those changes. But as I describe in my recently published book The New Good Life: Living Better Than Ever in an Age of Less, there are ways to cut down substantially on the amount of oil we consume that can actually improve the quality of our lives. And there is a precedent for the size and speed of the call to action before us.
Prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. resisted becoming engaged in World War II. But after the attack, which took place in December 1941, the country immediately began a massive restructuring of the economy in order to mobilize for the war effort. Less than a month after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt announced the goals, which included immediately producing massive numbers of tanks, planes, and anti-aircraft guns. He met with automobile industry leaders, including the heads of Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, and told them the country would need them to totally redirect their production facilities in order for the nation to reach these arms production objectives. Soon, the sale of private automobiles was banned. For nearly three years, no cars were produced in the United States, other than those for the army, navy, coast guard, and other military services. In addition, highway and residential construction was halted.
When Roosevelt originally announced that the U.S. would need 60,000 planes, experts said it would be impossible to come anywhere close to that number. But as a result of the massive redirection of the country’s productivity, the nation’s needs for planes, tanks, and other military requirements were fully met, and greatly ahead of schedule. In the three years beginning with 1942, the U.S. far exceeded the initial goal, turning out 230,000 aircraft.
The speed and extent of this economic conversion was astounding, as was its impact. Military historians almost universally agree that without it, the Allied Forces would have lost the war.