WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
The climate crisis affects all of us, but it doesn’t affect all of us equally. Climate change dramatically magnifies inequalities like race, consistently hitting Black, brown, Indigenous, and poor communities first and hardest. Climate justice is inextricably tied to the fights against racism, inequality, and hate.
“Carbon dioxide levels are increasing faster than they have in hundreds of thousands of years. It’s explosive compared to natural processes.”
– Pieter Tans,
lead scientist of NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network
The last time the Earth experienced such a sustained CO2 increase was between 17,000 and 11,000 years ago, when CO2 levels increased by 80 ppm. Today’s rate of increase is 200 times faster. So to put that in perspective, what used to take 6,000 years to increase CO2 by 80 ppm, only took the last 45 years to increase that same 80 ppm amount! So at the highest rate of increase in the past, it would take 75 years to rise 1 ppm. Now, with man-made climate change, it only takes approximately 4 to 6 months to rise 1 ppm. CO2 is rising at a rate of 1 to 2 ppm per year.
Global average concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide in parts per million (ppm).
We have increased CO2 by 46% to the highest concentration in 2 million years thru the burning of fossil fuels!
- 2019 NOV = 412 PPM (Latest – 47% higher than the pre-industrial revolution of 280ppm in 1750)
- 2019 MAY = 411 PPM
- 2018 MAY = 408 PPM
- 2017 MAY = 406 PPM
- 2016 MAY = 404 PPM
- 2015 MAY = 400 PPM
- 2010 MAY = 390 PPM
- 2000 MAY = 369 PPM
- 1990 MAY = 354 PPM
- 1980 MAY = 338 PPM
- 1970 MAY = 325 PPM
- 1960 MAY = 317 PPM
- 1950 = 315 PPM
- 1940 = 309 PPM
- 1930 = 307 PPM
- 1920 = 303 PPM
- 1910 = 300 PPM
- 1900 = 297 PPM
- 1750 = 280 PPM (Industrial Revolution began)
The carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere today are ones that likely haven’t been reached in 3 million years. But if human activities keep committing carbon dioxide to the atmosphere at current rates, scientists will have to look a lot deeper into the past for a similar period. The closest analog to the mid-century atmosphere we’re creating would be a period roughly 50 million years ago known as the Eocene, a period when the world was completely different than the present due to extreme heat and oceans that covered a wide swath of currently dry land.
“The early Eocene was much warmer than today: global mean surface temperature was at least 10°C (18°F) warmer than today,” Dana Royer, a paleoclimate researcher at Wesleyan University who co-authored the new research, said. “There was little-to-no permanent ice. Palms and crocodiles inhabited the Canadian Arctic.”
Latest Sea Level Rise Predictions:
The most recent science including from Jim Hansen, the foremost climate scientist, suggests that we could see as much as, according to his study, meters’ worth [of sea-level rise] — that is nine, 12, 15 and more — as soon as 50 years from his study, which was two years ago.
Another study described by NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which they will be putting out in print soon, they have only described it verbally, calling it an “Oh my God” study, suggesting that we could see nine feet of sea level rise as soon as 2050. So these are sort of two cutting edge studies that converge around the same thing — which is to say we’re looking at catastrophic impacts in our lifetime, not only that every month now we’re setting a new World Almanac record —
Latest Temperature Rise Predictions:
New UN study: Arctic temperatures are still “locked in” to rise 3-5°C by 2050 and 5-9°C by 2080 even if the world meets the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. We’re not stopping global warming any more; we’re fighting like hell for a level that civilizations might survive.
3-5°C (5.4-9°F) by 2050
5-9°C (9-16.2°F) by 2080
LOCAL CLIMATE ACTION VIDEOS
RECOMMENDED CLIMATE ACTION VIDEOS
RECOMMENDED CLIMATE ACTION FILMS
CLIMATE ACTION PLAN EXAMPLES
- City of Worcester – Climate Action Plan – December 2006
- Worcester City Council – Climate Emergency Resolution 20190917
LOCAL CLIMATE NEWS
02/08/19 – Wilder winters ahead for Northeast?
“Massachusetts is committed to combating and preparing for the impacts of climate change, and our Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program is designed to ensure our communities can work together on building resilience with the best planning tools, data and resources from the state,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We are proud that so many of our cities and towns are involved and using their local knowledge and community strengths to partner with the Commonwealth.”
“By becoming a part of the Commonwealth’s new Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program these 71 cities and towns are committed to taking on the challenge of climate change at the local level. Through this partnership our communities will build resilience and prepare for the impacts of climate change while helping our administration design better adaptation solutions across the Commonwealth.”
– Karyn Polito, Lieutenant Governor
As part of the MVP Program, municipalities will work through a community-based workshop process to identify key climate-related hazards, vulnerabilities and strengths, develop adaptation actions, and prioritize next steps. Results of the workshops and planning efforts will be used to inform existing local plans, grant applications, budgets, and policies. One area of focus will be using the process to update or develop local hazard mitigation plans.
“We are thrilled to be able to offer this program to so many communities in every corner of the state. The MVP Program is a critical component of implementing Governor Baker’s Executive Order 569 and by working with so many of our local communities we will be able to create a strong network of cities and towns taking leadership to address climate change. We look forward to working together to better understand the local impacts of climate change and to plan and implement the best strategies to build community resilience.”
– Matthew Beaton, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary
The program, funded through the Five-Year Capital Plan, will be led by an experienced Project Coordinator from the town with a core team of town staff and volunteers representing town planning departments, emergency managers, conservation commissioners, economic councils, the business community and other key stakeholders. Technical assistance will be delivered by state-certified MVP Program providers using a standardized toolkit for assessing vulnerability and developing strategies, and newly developed climate projections and data from the Northeast Climate Science Center at UMass-Amherst. Upon successful completion of the program, municipalities will be designated as a “Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Program Community.”
The following communities will receive funding to complete the planning process and achieve designation status by June 2018:
- Shrewsbury – $22,000
WORCESTER – Representatives of local municipal light plants are protesting their inclusion under a proposed clean energy standard that sets limits on greenhouse gas emissions.
Four people – representing municipal light plants in West Boylston, Holden, Sterling and Shrewsbury – testified Wednesday at a DEP public hearing in Worcester concerning the proposed clean energy standard.
Stemming from an executive order by Gov. Charlie Baker, the Department of Environmental Protection is proposing regulations imposing a clean energy standard to meet those reduction goals, and is including municipal light plants – of which there are 41 in the state – for the first time under the standard.
CLIMATE IN THE NEWS
In the Northeast, the report projects that average annual temperatures will rise between 3.98 degrees and 5.09 degrees Fahrenheit as early as 2036.
Raymond S. Bradley, director of Climate System Research Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said the report once again underscores the need for action to reduce emissions.
With carbon dioxide levels higher that at any point in at least 3 million years, and rising, and doubt now cast over the efforts to curb emissions signed in Paris in 2015, the planet is heading into uncharted waters, he said.
“The further we push the system into unknown territory, the higher the risk of tipping points or unknown responses,” Bradley said. “Any prudent person would take precautions. Unfortunately, we’re now led not by prudent people, but ideologues.”
“The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008 required the state to issue implementation regulations that were designed to ensure the state met an emission limit in 2020,” says David Ismay, a senior attorney at the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF). “Those were supposed to issue on the first of January, 2012, and they didn’t.”
Ismay is alluding to one of the Global Warming Solutions Act’s distinctive features. It didn’t specify exactly how Massachusetts would reach those tough new emissions limits. Instead, it said that the Department of Environmental Protection would “promulgate regulations” to make them a reality. That never happened — so CLF went to court.
“This lawsuit was a bit frustrating — that we had to bring it, and the state wasn’t doing these regulations on their own,” Ismay says.
Both the Patrick administration and the administration of his successor, Governor Charlie Baker, argued that new regulations were unnecessary, and cited three preexisting programs they claimed already had the state on the right track. The dispute made its way to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which resoundingly rejected that argument last year. To reach the 2020 limit, the SJC said, new regulations are essential, and need to include strict caps on multiple emissions sources that decline every single year.
07/13/17 – The Doomsday Glacier
When a chunk of ice the size of Pennsylvania falls apart, that’s a big problem. It won’t happen overnight, but if we don’t slow the warming of the planet, it could happen within decades. And its loss will destabilise the rest of the West Antarctic ice, and that will go too. Seas will rise about 3 metres (10 feet) in many parts of the world; in New York and Boston, because of the way gravity pushes water around the planet, the waters will rise even higher, as much as 9 metres (30 feet). “West Antarctica could do to the coastlines of the world what Hurricane Sandy did in a few hours to New York City,” explains Richard Alley, a geologist at Penn State University and arguably the most respected ice scientist in the world. “Except when the water comes in, it doesn’t go away in a few hours – it stays.”
That report, also written by University of Massachusetts researchers, found that sea levels around the city could, in the worst-case scenario, rise more than 10 feet by the end of the century — nearly twice what was previously predicted. That would plunge about 30 percent of Boston under water. The previous report also found that temperatures in 2070 could exceed 90 degrees for 90 days a year, compared with an average of 11 days now. Changes in precipitation could mean a 50 percent decline in annual snowfall, punctuated by more frequent heavy storms such as nor’easters.
“I tell my students that they’re going to be able to tell their children, ‘I remember when it used to snow in Boston,’ ” said Ray Bradley, an author of the study and director of the Climate System Research Center at the University of Massachusetts. “We’ll have occasional snow, but we won’t have weeks and weeks of snow on the ground.”
“There is no real scientific basis to why global warming of 2 degrees C should be considered ‘safe,’ ” they wrote, noting that “it emerged as ‘the least unattractive course of action’ and has been used as an easily understood, politically useful marker to communicate the urgency of the climate change problem.”
The Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA), signed in August of 2008, created a framework for reducing heat-trapping emissions to levels that scientists believe give us a reasonable chance of avoiding the worst effects of global warming. It requires reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from each sector of the economy summing to a total reduction of 25% below the 1990 baseline emission level in 2020 and at least an 80% reduction in 2050.
Massachusetts Executive Order No. 569 – ESTABLISHING AN INTEGRATED CLIMATE CHANGE STRATEGY
FOR THE COMMONWEALTH
WHEREAS, climate change presents a serious threat to the environment and the Commonwealth’s residents, communities, and economy;
WHEREAS, extreme weather events associated with climate change present a serious threat to public safety, and the lives and property of our residents;
WHEREAS, the Global Warming Solutions Act (the “GWSA”) directs the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Department of Environmental Protection to take certain steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change, including setting statewide greenhouse gas emissions limits for 2020, 2030, 2040 and 2050;
Massachusetts Senate Commonwealth Conversations – A Report on Our Findings – Supporting Healthy Families, Vibrant Communities and a Prosperous Economy
Preserving Our Environment, Securing Our Energy Future, and Addressing Climate Change
As ideals necessary to the common good and welfare of our people, preserving our
natural environment, protecting clean air and water, conserving our natural resources,
securing our energy future, and fighting the impacts of climate change must be
recognized as vital priorities for the continued well-being of our Commonwealth.
From Southeastern Massachusetts to Merrimack Valley and from Greater Boston to
Western Massachusetts, the public conveyed support for positioning Massachusetts as a
renewable energy leader. There were calls for investments in clean energy and
environmental preservation, as well as opposition to expanding pipeline capacity
through protected public land.