Fighting Climate Change for Kids’ Sake

We’ve Left it up to the Kids

Children and teenagers have gone on strike this past Friday to protest inaction on climate change. Around the world, young protestors like Greta Thunberg feel that we’ve reached a tipping point and they must take action into their own hands, even though they are not yet out of grade-school.

What they’ve had to say is powerful. Greta’s speech included moving lines like this:

  • “You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes…Because the adult generations have used up all our carbon budget.

What’s the Impact of Inaction?

The IPCC’s climate report gives us ten years to avoid the worst effects of climate change, and it’s had a big impact on these Generation Z activists, who are mostly aged in their mid teens. In ten years’ time, they’ll be in their mid twenties and dealing with the repercussions of older generations’ inaction.

These bleak prospects have a real impact, even beyond the climate. The United States has an aging population, and young people have cited climate change as a concern for having children. Business Insider conducted a poll which found

  • Nearly 38% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 agreed that climate change should be a factor in a couple’s decision about whether to have children. And 34% of Americans between the ages of 30 and 44 agreed.

What Can We Do?

By powering most of the world on electricity that comes from wind and solar and other renewable, carbon-free sources and offsetting things like plane travel that have to use fossil fuel with higher prices and carbon capture, we can put a stop to the worst of climate change.  “It’s 2050 And This Is How We Stopped Climate Change” outlined a clear vision of the future:

  • “This is the foundation of a zero-carbon world: Electricity that comes from clean sources, mainly the sun and the wind, cheap and increasingly abundant. Today, it powers this house; tomorrow, it could drive the world.”

The good news is that we still have a few years to turn things around, and we have the solutions we need to do it – all that’s missing is action.

  • “In order to have impact, timely impact, I figured that I need to leave research and focus on impactful things that I want to do. And fast,” she says.

As consumers and citizens, we can also have a big impact. Voting, both at the polls and with our dollars, combined with individual choices on things like transportation, are powerful ways to combat climate change. One easy switch to make is to support the transition to clean energy through community solar, which is becoming increasingly available in many states.

You can help Fight Climate Change by joining a Community Solar Farm.

LEARN MORE

Ready to go Community Solar?
See if Community Solar is available in your area and schedule an appointment.

SCHEDULE YOUR FREE PHONE CONSULTATION

solar field

Climate Change isn’t the whole problem

So much of the discussion around clean energy currently focuses on climate change and pricing, but we shouldn’t forget another important reason to “go green” – pollution. Fossil fuels and nuclear produce dangerous pollutants which have a direct impact on our health and the sustainability of our planet.

Coal

  • Coal use is declining, but we still get almost 30% of the country’s power from it.
  • Coal extraction uses harmful techniques such as mountaintop removal and strip mining, which pollutes water sources and damages ecosystems.
    • Underground coal mines pose threats to safety from collapse and methane leaks.
  • Burning coal releases heavy metals such as mercury, as well as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulates
    • These pollutants are linked to respiratory illness, neurological damage, smog and acid rain.

Natural Gas

  • Natural gas burns cleaner and more efficiently than coal, but it still emits pollutants and accounts for about 32% of our energy.
  • The extraction of natural gas can be problematic.
    • Laying pipelines to transport natural gas requires clearing land, and when the pipelines leak they release methane, a strong greenhouse gas.
    • Hydrogren sulfide is burned off, or “flared,” when extracting natural gas, which releases varying pollutants
    • Hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as fracking, uses a fluid that contains unknown chemicals – only 28 states require the disclosure of some of the chemicals in fracking fluid. This fluid can leak and pollute water supplies.
  • Fracking has also resulted in earthquakes at wastewater injection sites.

Nuclear

  • Some says nuclear energy could help with climate change, but we should not take the potential health risks lightly.
  • Used nuclear fuel emits dangerous levels of radiation long after it’s used and there is currently no long-term solution on where and how to store this waste.
  • Nuclear meltdowns may be relatively infrequent or unlikely, but when they happen they’re disastrous.
    • Incidents like Fukushima and Chernobyl have a high human cost, and render cities uninhabitable for the foreseeable future.

Solar is a Solution

  • The guaranteed lifespan of solar panels is twenty to twenty-five years, which is much better than many consumer electronics such as cell phones or laptops, and in many cases they can be recycled.
  • Using the sun for energy doesn’t emit water, air, or carbon pollution.

You can help Fight Climate Change by joining a Community Solar Farm.

LEARN MORE

Ready to go Community Solar?
See if Community Solar is available in your area and schedule an appointment.

SCHEDULE YOUR FREE PHONE CONSULTATION

winter street scene

Global “Weirding:” Cold Weather on a Warming Planet

Many responded to the cold snaps this winter with skepticism towards climate change. How can the Earth be warming if we’re having record low temperatures? But a globe that’s heating up overall doesn’t necessarily mean warmer temperatures everywhere all the time, it may mean more extreme weather and changing weather patterns.

Colder Winters for North America

According to National Geographic, a warmer Arctic will affect larger climate patterns and ironically may likely result in colder winters in North America.

  • “As more Arctic air flows into southern regions, North America can expect to see harsher winters. That was the conclusion of a study published in 2017 in the journal Nature Geoscience.”
  • “A separate study published in March of last year in the journal Nature Communications found the same link but predicted the northeastern portion of the U.S. would be particularly hard hit.

Why Should We Care if the Weather Changes?

Our new weather patterns are not only going to be unusual, they’re also likely to be dangerous.

  • National Geographic went on to warn: “As the air in the Arctic warms, those jet streams slow and prevent normal weather patterns from circulating—floods last longer and droughts become more persistent. One study published in Science Advances last October predicted extreme, deadly weather events could increase by as much as 50 percent by 2100.”
  • The EPA warns that extreme fluctuations in weather and more extreme weather events could have consequences ranging from crop damage, increased spread of diseases, property damage, changing precipitation patterns resulting in drought and flooding, and population displacement.

Some of the impacts of global warming may be difficult to predict, but unusual and extreme weather is one consequence we’re already starting to see. The good news is that it’s not too late to act. Many states are pushing for aggressive carbon offset targets, and coming up with innovative programs to solve climate change. Here in Massachusetts, we have accessible programs like community solar that empower more people than ever to be part of the solution.

You can help Fight Climate Change by joining a Community Solar Farm.

LEARN MORE

Ready to go Community Solar?
See if Community Solar is available in your area and schedule an appointment.

SCHEDULE YOUR FREE PHONE CONSULTATION

The Green New Deal: Can We Both Solve Climate Change and Build the Economy?

Last week Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey released details on the ambitious, if potentially divisive, Green New Deal. Whether you agree with it or not, it is catapulting climate change back into the national political conversation.  

What is “The Green New Deal?”

  • The Green New Deal is a plan to address some the biggest issues facing the US: climate change, social justice, and economic inequality. It’s styled after the New Deal of the great depression era, which aimed to fix an economic crisis with public works projects.
    • The resolution aims to offset enough carbon to meet the deadline set by the IPCC recently to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
    • It calls for heavy investment in clean technology and energy efficiency projects.
    • These efforts would focus on areas of the country that previously relied on fossil fuels, as well as rural and poor areas that have historically suffered from pollution.

What Makes it Controversial?

  • Opponents to the plan argue that it’s too expensive and ambitious.
  • There has also been pushback on the resolution’s focus on a social safety net, including union protections, affordable housing, and universal health care.
  • Defenders of the resolution argue that previous American achievements such as going to the moon were also ambitious and thought to be impossible, but they started with a goal and a timeline.
  • Whether you agree with the scope and goals of the Green New Deal or not, at least it has brought the topic of climate change back into public discussion.

Can we Strengthen the Economy by Fighting Climate Change?

  • Skeptics have long argued that transitioning to “greener” technologies would be prohibitively expensive and harm the economy.
  • But in practice, states investing in clean energy have seen an economic boost.
  • There are practical success stories of clean energy addressing pollution and climate change as well as social justice and economic issues.
    • For example, community solar delivers jobs, offsets pollution, and brings financial saving to the communities where the solar farms are installed.
    • Community solar and programs like it are more accessible to people who are not in an economic position to buy or install clean energy individually.

The Green New Deal may be criticized as divisive and ambitious, but the idea that we can boost the economy, address inequality, and fight climate change may not be so far fetched.

Join a Community Solar Farm. Fight Climate Change.

LEARN MORE

Ready to go Community Solar?
See if Community Solar is available in your area and schedule an appointment.

SCHEDULE YOUR FREE PHONE CONSULTATION

climate change

Climate Change Is Current Threat: Shifting Attitudes in the US

According to a recent survey from Yale and George Mason University, National Geographic reports that the attitudes towards climate change are shifting. A record number of Americans are acknowledging it, and those that believed in it before now see it as a more pressing issue.

What Changed?

  • 60% of respondents acknowledged that humans are responsible for climate change, the highest level for the annual survey since its inception in 2008.
  • Recent wildfires, hurricanes, and extreme temperature swings seem to have left an impression – most (76%) cited “extreme weather events as the most influential factor shifting their views.”

Climate Change: A Current Threat

  • Many respondents who had previously believed in climate change now see it as a pressing current issue, rather than a future threat
  • 51% of respondents said they felt “helpless”
  • A mental health phenomenon called “eco-anxiety” or “climate-anxiety” has become common, especially in areas prone to natural disasters

What’s the Solution?

  • The bright side is that we seem to have reached a tipping point; people have acknowledged the problem and are concerned enough to support solutions
  • Surprisingly, 67% of respondents supported a carbon tax, with the proceeds going to conservation and restoration work
  • Although many people report feelings of anxiety, the best antidote seems to be empowerment through action, especially within your social network
  • Rather than adding costs, some climate solutions are now money-savers as well.

Be Part of the Solution

Join a Community Solar Farm. Fight Climate Change.
Get Guaranteed Electricity Savings.
No Installation.  No investment.

LEARN MORE

Ready to go Community Solar?
See if Community Solar is available in your area and schedule an appointment.

SCHEDULE YOUR FREE PHONE CONSULTATION

The Push For 100% Renewables

There’s new blood in the state and federal legislatures, and climate change is at the top of their agenda. Here in MA, fourteen of the twenty four newly sworn in state representatives support aggressive action on climate change. At the federal level, we’ve seen ambitious new proposals and a new committee to address climate change as a top priority.

Massachusetts Fights Climate Change

  • Over half of the incoming state representatives have formed a bipartisan group they’re calling GreenTeamMA
  • The Green Team supports 100% renewable energy sources in Massachusetts by 2050
    • This will be achieved with measures such as carbon pricing and driving up demand for energy sources such as wind and solar
  • They are focussing on a bottom up approach with grassroots action by voters and consumers who are concerned about public health and climate change

The Federal\Climate Crisis Committee

  • The midterm elections saw an infusion of progressive new representatives and a flip to a House controlled by Democrats
  • New members have proposed a “Green New Deal,” an aggressive plan which would combine action on climate change and economic inequality while creating job growth
  • Nancy Pelosi has put together a Climate Change Committee, which has a narrower scope but still emphasizes the importance of preparing for and combating climate change

A key component of all of these plans is encouraging consumers to choose greener options. Legislation is important to level the playing field for clean energy, but there are impactful choices we can make right now to fight climate change, especially here in Massachusetts.

Be Part of the Solution

Join a Community Solar Farm. Fight Climate Change.
Help Make the Electric Grid More Resilient.

LEARN MORE

Ready to go Community Solar?
See if Community Solar is available in your area and schedule an appointment.

SCHEDULE YOUR FREE PHONE CONSULTATION

eco friendly bikes

3 Easy Changes to Help New Year’s Climate Resolutions

2019: The Year to Take Action

Every January we set goals for our new year. With all the news about our environment’s future that came out in 2018, maybe one of your resolutions was to be greener. We’re here with our top picks for easy ways to fight climate change and save money.

1: Say NO to Single-Use Plastic

Plastic pollution is a major concern – from news on single use plastic bans to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, we’ve all heard the scope of the problem. There are many ways we can tackle this.  First and foremost when asked “Paper or Plastic?” at the store, the answer is “Neither.”  Bringing (or buying at the store) your own re-usable bag will help reduce plastic waste. If you have to use plastic bags, try to re-use them and then they can be recycled at most grocery stores.   Another cost effective and easy switch you can make is to buy in bulk. It cuts down on packaging, even more so if you bring your own reusable container to the bulk aisle.

2: Take a Walk (Or Bike)

According to the EPA,A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.” And according to the Energy Information Administration, the average household spent about two thousand dollars on gas in 2017. If you’re able to, committing to walking or biking on trips under a mile will save you at the pump, and as an added bonus you’ll make some progress on your fitness resolutions too.

3: Support the Switch to Clean Energy

Electricity accounts for twenty eight percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, and residents of Massachusetts pay one of the highest rates for it. Often people like the idea of clean energy, but are concerned it’s too expensive or complicated. Community solar is a different way to “go solar,” designed to remove obstacles. By participating in communal fields of panels, residents of Massachusetts can save money, guaranteed and fight climate change with no investment and no installation. And community solar doesn’t conflict with choosing a green electricity supplier.

Get Paid to Keep This New Year’s Resolution:
Fight Climate Change

LEARN MORE

Ready to go Community Solar?

See if Community Solar is available in your area and schedule an appointment.

SCHEDULE YOUR FREE PHONE CONSULTATION

Community Solar: Why it’s Not Too Good to Be True

Being able to choose clean, locally produced power while also saving money sounds too good to be true. But community solar is giving residents of more and more states a way to vote with their dollar for greener power that supports their local economy.

Community Solar – What is it?

  • Community solar, or shared solar, is defined by the Department of Energy Resources as a project that allows “…multiple participants benefit directly from the energy produced by one solar array.
  • It’s a way to make the benefits of solar accessible to those who can’t install rooftop solar themselves.

Community Solar Farms: A New Solar Solution

  • Only twenty percent of the people who would like to go solar have been able to.
  • Massachusetts has a Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2020 which aims for a twenty five percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.
    • This Plan also aims to make the state more energy independent since it lacks other types of energy resources.
  • Even if everyone who could do rooftop solar did, we wouldn’t be on track for the clean energy targets we have.
  • The Department of Energy and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources both have programs in place to encourage the development of more community solar farms.
  • It’s a win-win: solar farms generate jobs, increase energy independence, offset pollution, and provide savings to residents.

That Sounds Great, But What’s the Investment?

There’s no cost to join a community solar farm – you will see savings on day one. Financial obstacles are a major barrier to rooftop solar – many people pay their electric bills every month, and would like a cleaner option, but don’t have the capital to put panels on their roof. Community Solar programs are designed to make solar more accessible.

 

Be Part of the Solution

Join a Community Solar Farm. Fight Climate Change.

Help Make the Electric Grid More Resilient.

LEARN MORE

Ready to go Community Solar?

See if Community Solar is available in your area and schedule an appointment.

SCHEDULE YOUR FREE PHONE CONSULTATION

The True Cost of Fossil Fuels

Skeptics of clean energy often cite high costs and “the need for subsidies” as a reason we shouldn’t or can’t afford to transition away from fossil fuels. But dirty energy has many costs attached to it which are not always readily apparent. Fossil fuel prices can be volatile, and we don’t always use domestically sourced products. Aside from the actual cost to consumers, the fossil fuel industry also receives subsidies, and we pay indirectly for using polluting energy sources in healthcare and pollution cleanup costs. It’s well past time to reframe the conversation around energy costs, and to even the playing field for cleaner energy sources.

While it’s true that most renewable energy sources can have high startup costs, once they’re running they’re inexpensive to keep up – after all, you don’t have to pay for wind or sunshine. In comparison, using fossil fuels for energy means we have to constantly buy oil, gas, and coal at the market rate. And this money doesn’t always stay in the US economy: “In 2007, America spent more than $360 billion importing fossil fuels, with the vast majority of that money spent on crude oil. That money is a direct transfer of wealth from American consumers to oil companies and foreign governments.” Even when we are buying within the country, volatile fuel prices can negatively impact consumers.  In comparison, prices for electricity generated from renewable sources has been shown to be more predictable.  In 2016, we spent $5.6 billion on renewable energy incentives, most of which went to biofuels.  Studies attempting to put a number on subsidies supporting fossil fuels, not including subsidies for things like fuel assistance programs, pegged them at around $20 billion dollars a year including the federal and state levels. The US has been slow to get rid of these subsidies and tax breaks compared to other developed countries, and that’s no coincidence. “In the 2015-2016 election cycle, oil, gas, and coal companies spent $354 million in campaign contributions and lobbying and received $29.4 billion in federal subsidies in total over those same years.” We are already spending a lot to prop up fossil fuels, but it’s taken for granted and doesn’t get much coverage, while any changes to incentives for clean energy are often hotly debated.

While the concrete costs to buy and subsidize fossil fuels are important to look at, arguably more important are the added costs of things like health care for asthma and cancer, cleaning up pollution, and fallout from a changing climate. These are difficult to put a price on, but we do know some of the costs. For example, the BP Deepwater oil spill costed tax payers fifteen point three billion dollars. There has also been impact on agriculture: “A 2007 study by researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Carnegie Institution at Stanford University found that global production of three of the six largest global crops experienced significant losses due to global warming between 1981 and 2002. The study concluded that global wheat growers, for example, lost $2.6 billion and global corn growers lost $1.2 billion in 2002 alone.” Projections are that these costs will sky rocket if climate change is not mitigated.

The price we pay for healthcare on pollution-related illness is difficult to pinpoint, but we do have some studies that have attempted to put a number on it. Sarah Rizk* and Ben Machol of the Clean Energy and Climate Change Office, U.S. EPA Region 9, in San Francisco published a peer reviewed article attempting to put a concrete price per kilowatt hour that we pay in healthcare. They found costs of “…19 to 45 cents per kilowatt-hour for coal, 8 to 19 cents per kilowatt-hour for oil, and 1 to 2 cents per kilowatt-hour for natural gas. “For coal and oil,” Rizk and Machol write, “these costs are larger than the typical retail price of electricity, demonstrating the magnitude of the externality.” This cost isn’t distributed evenly, either – places that are the site of extraction and energy generation pay a higher price in their health.

Clean energy is often dismissed as being too expensive, but really the cost of energy from fossil fuel is artificially low and much of what we pay is hidden or part of the status quo. When you really dig into the numbers, it’s clear that the playing field is uneven. There are many reasons to transition to clean energy, and now we can add the comparative cost of it to the list.

Find out how you can be part of the solution.

Join a Community Solar Farm. Fight Climate Change.
Help Make the Electric Grid More Resilient.

Ready to go Community Solar?

See if Community Solar is available in your area and schedule an appointment.

SCHEDULE YOUR FREE PHONE CONSULTATION 

 

The Benefits of a Green Power Grid

Skeptics of clean energy argue that more technology like solar and wind on the grid would mean instability, higher prices, and economic harm. But moving to a more sustainable power grid hasn’t caused the destabilization or issues critics predicted. In fact, the transition has come with many benefits beyond mitigating climate change. These include lower and more stable energy prices, as well as resilience to natural disasters and other interruptions.

California, Massachusetts, New York, and Colorado are a few of the states that have seen a lot of success with community solar programs. They have overcome some of the obstacles in accessibility like pricing and siting that rooftop solar faces, and community solar distributes the financial benefits of solar more equitably than rooftop solar does.

But it’s not just traditionally “blue” states that have had success integrating clean energy. Texas, Alabama, Iowa, and Idaho have also been leaders in installed capacity. Texas is a great example, it hit a milestone with 18% of its energy coming from wind and solar. “The 18 percent number matters because for years critics of renewable energy have argued that grid costs and reliability will spiral out of control before we hit 20 percent wind and solar. But in Texas, retail electricity prices have actually decreased, coming in well below the U.S. average.” If a conservative state like Texas can make wind work to their benefit, it seems like we should be able to follow suite in other states too.

And all signs seem positive that we can move beyond the twenty percent mark with no ill effects. “…a succession of rigorous studies — including a widely cited two-year study conducted by the DOE itself in 2012 — has found that renewables can provide as much as 80 percent of the nation’s energy supply without disrupting a properly managed grid. And that doesn’t mean that 80 percent is the upper limit of renewables — it indicates only that levels beyond 80 percent weren’t thoroughly investigated.” In fact, there are some aspects of solar and wind generated power that make things more stable. Once a solar or wind farm is built, operating costs are low and predictable, helping to even out electricity prices. They are also less vulnerable to major outages as they are more spread out and “modular,” meaning a natural disaster taking out some plants won’t stop overall production.

As we see more success stories, the reasons are piling up to transition to clean energy. Adding lower prices and more stable service to the benefits of renewable power makes it more broadly appealing; climate change isn’t the only motivator anymore.

Join a Community Solar Farm. Fight Climate Change.
Help Make the Electric Grid More Resilient.

Ready to go Community Solar?

See if Community Solar is available in your area and schedule an appointment.