January 2022 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

What a way to begin the year! With the surge in COVID-19 cases, it feels a bit like the movie “Groundhog Day,” where time keeps looping back over and over. Just when we were supposed to be ramping up and going “full throttle,” presenting on the road, we are returning to Zoom or rescheduling, hoping for a safer time to come together.

That said, C-Change Conversations finished last year “strong” with two events I’d like to tell you about. First: a presentation at a Minneapolis-area country club with a number of skeptics in the audience. It was a large crowd, and we held a lively Q&A and received very positive reviews.

At dinner I was seated next to an atmospheric scientist who thanked me for my presentation, saying that she worries about the world her small children will inherit because she is so cognizant of the immensity of the threat. She was impressed that we were able to get the skeptics there to take pause, listen, and try to understand; to actually look at the graphs and comprehend what the science means; and to ask questions about a subject whose gravity they may not have truly considered before that evening. She even said she had “tingles” during our presentation and was so thankful we exist and are doing what we do.

Needless to say, the C-Change team was both humbled and energized by her comments.

The second event was a Zoom presentation of our Primer to an innovative energy company, Ledger8760, an entrepreneurial start-up that helps companies lower their carbon footprint and save money. We were asked to remind their team “why they are fighting the fight” and of the enormity of what is at stake. Like the skeptics at the country clubs, the president of this young company full of climate change and energy experts said he was very impressed by our approach and learned a lot of new information from our presentation.

Two very different audiences, one very similar result.

So, despite feeling like we are in a “Groundhog Day” fog, these responses give us energy for the challenges ahead!

Here’s to forward momentum in the New Year!

Best,
Kathleen Biggins
Founder & President

Growing Number of Business Leaders Value the C-Change Primer

C-Change continues to expand its offerings to business audiences, building on successful presentations to real estate companies, Commonwealth Bank, and YPO Gold, which is part of a global network and leadership organization for chief executives and business owners.

As noted above, in December C-Change presented an adapted version of our Primer to 50 employees of Ledger8760, a company that provides companies, utilities, and other entities with a carbon tracking platform that measures energy, emissions, and utility information. The presentation covered the science and effects of warming temperatures using a risk assessment framework that is similar to how business people look at risk: how likely is the risk, how dire the consequences could be, and how difficult or costly it could be to avoid the risks associated with climate change.

Scott Mattei, a venture capitalist with United Capital Group, saw the Primer in August and recommended it to Adam Kramer, the CEO of Ledger8760. Scott says:

“The global warming presentation made by Kathleen Biggins with C-Change Conversations opened my eyes in so many ways. She recently presented to my YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization) chapter and to say it was impressive is an understatement. I am not a climate change skeptic, but I did have some unanswered questions. By the end of her presentation, she had answered and/or disproved in a completely non-partisan way any preconceived ideas I had on the subject. I cannot wait to hear her present again and witness how many people’s eyes she can open to the reality of the situation!”

Our original, health, and business Primers are an education tool for employees, suppliers, board members, and other key constituencies who need to understand the basics of climate change to make informed decisions. We hope you will contact us to discuss how a presentation might be helpful to your organization.

C-Change Expands Reach to Influential Audiences

In 2021 we delivered 42 Primers to more than 2,000 audience members. Special kudos to Dallas Hetherington, who delivered 11 of them (9 by Zoom), and Catherine Sidamon-Eristoff, who recently presented in person at one of her alma maters, the Nightingale-Bamford School in New York City.

We were especially delighted to extend our reach to the hallowed halls of Congress. The Conservative Climate Caucus educates Republican Members of Congress and staff on climate policies and legislation consistent with conservative values. It is led by Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah), who feels strongly that Republicans need to be more aggressive in taking a leadership position on climate and helping shape legislation. We were delighted to learn about the Caucus when it launched last summer and excited to have the opportunity for Kathleen Biggins to present the Primer in October to the Deputy Executive Director of the Caucus and Rep. Curtis’s staff. Their response was very positive, and we continue to explore how we might work together to share useful, non-partisan information about climate change with more people.

Virtual Primer presentations to audiences across the country continue as well. In November, from her home in St. Louis, Nancy Ylvisaker presented to the Garden Club of Buzzards Bay in South Dartmouth, MA. Last week, Kathleen presented our Health Primer to a joint meeting of the Garden Club of Chevy Chase and the Perennial Garden Club – both in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC. Late last year she presented the Primer to the Pasadena, Diggers, and Hancock Park garden clubs in the Los Angeles area.

Kathleen Biggins and staff for Rep. John Curtis (R-UT)

Meet the Team

From Kathleen Biggins –

Sophie Glovier is one of those uber-competent people who seem to do everything well. She is a natural leader who gets so many things done – all with a warm smile and a gracious outlook.

We asked Sophie to join us early on to help us with our strategic planning, but she quickly exceeded that mandate, helping us write our bylaws, start our development efforts, deepen our relationship with the Garden Club of America on a national level, and secure highly respected experts for our speaker’s series. She also stepped forward to learn the Primer and became our second presenter – proving that our model of training others to deliver our non-partisan, scientifically-based messaging could work and thereby significantly extending our reach. Of course, presenting is one of those many things Sophie does extremely well!

Sophie has been a leader on environmental issues in the Princeton area for many years, and currently is the Assistant Policy Director at The Watershed Institute. Recently she and I delivered a well-received presentation at the Land Trust Alliance national conference on how climate change will impact our health and personal security. Sophie focused on the many benefits of green infrastructure and the power of local volunteerism and action, highlighting ways that all of us can act and make a difference. To top it all off, she has also written a book called “Walk the Trails In and Around Princeton.”

We are very appreciative to have Sophie’s talents and expertise on our team!

From Sophie Glovier –

Why I’m involved with C-Change: The women who founded C-Change Conversations are an inspiration to me. They had the courage to start talking about the topic of climate change to conservative audiences when that was a really difficult thing to do. And our approach is working. As one of the team members who has presented the Primer, I’ve seen what a powerful tool it is to make audiences aware  and care  about the threat that climate change poses to their health, safety, and the economy.

What have you learned about climate change that makes you hopeful?

I am hopeful because many of the steps that we need to take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will have tremendous “co-benefits” that will make our lives better in a myriad of ways. Our air will become cleaner as fossil fuels are phased out. The use of green infrastructure, like rain gardens, in our cities will help to address the flooding that will be the result of climate change-related increases in precipitation and storm intensity. Urban green spaces have been shown to reduce crime, improve mental health, and provide urban habitat for birds and insects. I also am hopeful because I see more and more people becoming engaged in their local communities, working together to solve the challenges of addressing climate change.

New Jersey Climate Change Symposium Features C-Change Team Member

C-Change co-founder Pam Mount recently spoke at a climate change symposium sponsored by the City of Cape May, New Jersey and organized and moderated by Virginia Hesel, a Rutgers University Environmental Steward.

Dr. Ed Mahaney, a consultant on an array of development and sustainability measures and a former Cape May mayor, invited Pam to participate in the symposium titled, “A Scientific Approach to Global Warming and Climate Change.” In addition to co-founding C-Change, Pam is founder of Sustainable Jersey, owner of Terhune Orchards, and a well-known and respected leader in the sustainability, resilience, and climate adaptation movement.

At the symposium, held at the Cape May Convention Center in November, Pam joined a panel of environmental and health experts, including Dr. Thomas Herrington, associate director of the Urban Coast Institute at Monmouth University, and Dr. Rouzbah (Ross) Nazari, associate professor and co-director of Sustainable Smart Cities Research Center at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. While Drs. Herrington and Nazari focused on the science and impacts of climate change, especially to the New Jersey coastline, Pam spoke about how important it is for everyday folk to talk about climate change and what individuals and communities can do to curtail and alleviate the impact of greenhouse gas emissions. Check out our list of possible actions.

Sustainable Jersey’s programs are a critical piece of municipal leadership in addressing climate change, Pam acknowledged, but she emphasized that we can’t just rely on government programs to solve the issue. Individual choices matter – from how often we drive and what kind of car, to energy use at home, to the way we eat and what we do with food scraps after a meal, said Pam. “It’s like voting,” she said. “If each of us does it, if we all do our part, we can change the trajectory of the most important issue of our time.”

Congratulations, Pam! Thanks for all you do for C-Change and the planet!

C-Change “Heads South” for Upcoming Primers

In person and virtually, we’re heading down the road, across the state lines, and on to the Deep South over the next few months. Upcoming Primer presentation locations include:

  • The Lawrenceville School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey
  • Huntingdon Valley Garden Club and Planters Garden Club in western Pennsylvania
  • Athens, Georgia, where we’re excited to be delivering deliver three presentations over three days to: the Athens Area Community Foundation; the Junior Ladies Garden Club, Heritage Garden Club, and Athens Garden Club; and the Rotary Club of Athens
  • Little Rock, Arkansas Garden Club (by Zoom)
  • Lookout Mountain, Tennessee Presbyterian Church

Of note, next month Catherine Sidamon-Eristoff will present the Primer virtually to OLLI students at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) is a continuing education program within universities in 125 locations in every state and Washington, DC. C-Change also has presented to OLLI programs at the University of California San Bernardino/Palm Desert and University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

Get Involved with C-Change!

We often hear, “How can I help?” Here are a few ideas for supporting our mission of educating more people about the changing climate and hopeful solutions.

  1. Promote our Primers. Do you know of a group or employer who would be interested in a Primer presentation? We offer a Primer on the health impacts of climate change, another for business audiences (see story above), and our original Primer, which provides a 360-degree view of the science and effects of climate change. Our turnkey process makes it easy to request and book an event. Learn more.
  2. Spread the word. Forward this newsletter and encourage friends to sign up to receive this and our other publications, like the monthly Curated Climate News, which highlights news of concern – and hope – and puts it all in context.
  3. Volunteer. C-Change is run entirely by volunteers! You don’t have to live in Princeton to get involved in a range of activities that fit your schedule and skillset. Email Kathleen Biggins to learn more.
  4. Ask a question. There’s no climate question too simple or complex for
    C-Change’s climate science advisors. We field questions from people around the world through “Ask a Scientist” and publish the answers on our website. You can ask a question anytime.
  5. Donate. Your support helps us expand our reach, especially to people and places who aren’t exposed to the full picture on climate change. Every contribution counts! You can make a donation here.

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December 2021 Climate Change News

Dear Friends,

All of us at C-Change Conversations wish you a very happy, healthy holiday season.

What does C-Change Conversations want for 2022?

Peace, goodwill, and a world that finally gets serious about tackling climate change. So if by chance you cross paths with a vacationing member of Congress or the Administration, we hope you’ll hold their feet to the yule log over global warming!

As we saw at COP26, and recently within the U.S., forging smart policy around climate change is tough. But we’ve got to keep trying to find a way because nature doesn’t take a recess. To the contrary, there is growing evidence that global warming and its negative effects may be more apparent in 2022 than we might expect.

Here’s our monthly roundup of recent news that makes us both concerned and hopeful as we greet the new year. Be sure to read to the end and play a fun game, suitable for tweens and older.

Best,

The C-Change Conversations Team

Notable Quote

So ho-ho-ho and all that. Tis the season to be green. But in the words of Mark Carney, a former Goldman Sachs executive and a former governor of both the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England:

“We can’t get to net zero by flipping a green switch. We need to rewire our entire economies.”

News of Concern

Let’s start with the latest science which, fittingly for the holidays, comes from the Earth’s pole – albeit the Southern one.

A highly-regarded international research team announced this month that a cracking Antarctic ice shelf could disintegrate within 3-5 years, starting a chain reaction that would drop a glacier the size of Florida into the Southern Ocean and elevate sea levels as many as two to 10 feet. The increase will happen slowly, beginning in the next decade and accelerating over centuries, but it is a visible reminder we are setting something into motion that we can’t pull back and will change the contours of our coastlines forever.

What would 10 feet of sea level rise mean for the U.S.? Previous surveys have calculated that it would swamp more than 28 thousand square miles of land that is home to over 12 million Americans, including large parts of New York, New Orleans, Miami, Boston, and dozens of other major cities.

Rising sea levels, even at smaller levels, will create a very different world for our children and grandchildren. Climate Central’s ‘Picturing Our Future’ interactive graphics show projected sea level rise in iconic places like the Lincoln Memorial and the Sydney Opera House, demonstrating the likely outcomes if we stay on our current emissions trajectory to a 3℃ increase (5.4℉) by the end of this century or pivot to meet international goals of limiting the rise to 1.5℃ (2.7℉). The differences are stark, underscoring how every degree of increase matters.

The devastation would ripple far beyond the sunken acreage. For the first time, the annual report of the Financial Stability Oversight Council warned that climate change is an ’emerging threat’ to the U.S. financial system [paywall]. It spells out how the growing frequencies of fires, floods, and hurricanes will cascade through the entire economy, threatening the welfare of us all. And The Wall Street Journal became just the latest business-focused entity to warn of trillions of dollarsof stranded assets [paywall] due to rising tides of all kinds – elevated sea levels, to be sure, but also growing demands from investors, insurers, consumers, employees, and regulators for urgent action (see more below).

The drip, drip, drip of melting ice and bad news goes on. Another new study projects that mountainous U.S. states may be nearly snowless for multi-year stretches [paywall] after mid-century if warming doesn’t slow. The resulting loss of snowpack will profoundly disrupt the water supply of much of the American West. Despite all this – and despite all the net-zero pledges we told you about last month – the coal industry is set to experience record highs in 2022, according to the authoritative International Energy Agency. Coal, of course, is one of the dirtiest and most carbon intensive fossil fuels in our energy portfolio.

And, at the risk of overplaying the holiday theme, we’re dropping that coal right into the Christmas stockings of the younger generation – in more ways than one. Yet another new study concludes that children born today are statistically likely to experience seven times more extreme weather events [paywall] than their grandparents.

Thwaites Glacier Photo Credit: NASA

News of Hope

Is there a silver lining in any of this? Possibly a little. Those stranded assets that we mentioned above are expected to be partly caused by surging demand for change from stakeholders of all kinds. Morgan Stanley reports that interest in sustainable investing has reached new heights despite the economic uncertainty posed by COVID. A staggering 99% of millennials expressed interest in aligning their investment decisions with environmental values. And a new survey shows that 43% of oil and gas company workers want to leave the sector with more than half – 56% – saying they’re considering employment in renewable energy.

It seems they can hardly move fast enough. This month New York – America’s largest city – became the latest urban area to ban natural gas in new buildings. The move is part of a growing push by municipal governments to drive down carbon emissions.

And in other incremental but far-reaching developments, a new executive order is driving the federal government toward carbon neutrality [paywall] by phasing out gas-powered vehicles and using only renewables to fuel its buildings. Also this month, United Airlines made history by flying a passenger aircraft from Chicago to Washington, DC with 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) – renewable biomass or, effectively, recycled cooking oil.

These trends – on top of a range of other phenomena related to climate, economics, and politics – have added up to heavy headwinds for the gas industry. Whereas gas was until recently considered an important ‘bridge’ fuel to a net-zero energy sector, the impetus to move straight to renewables across the entire economy is growing fast.

Notable Game

C-Change urges all of us to call on our elected officials to act. But just how hard is it to get to net-zero? What are the political, financial, and environmental costs?

See for yourself in this fun game. If you win, you’ll go down in history as the most popular carbon-neutral leader of all time. Lose, and you choke on a cloud of smog.

Good luck!

Read More

November 2021 Climate Change News

Dear Friends,

As we head into Thanksgiving, it seems fitting to ask whether there’s anything to be thankful for with respect to climate change, especially in the wake of COP26 – the much anticipated global conference that ran into overtime before wrapping up in Glasgow, Scotland on November 13th.

As a quick reminder, the primary goal of COP26 was to keep alive the international community’s hope for capping global warming at 1.5℃ above pre-industrial levels. By that minimal standard, the conference succeeded. Hope is not dead.

At the eleventh hour, nearly 200 nations signed on to a new ‘Glasgow Climate Pact’ that, for the first time, targeted fossil fuels as the key driver of climate change and declared carbon emissions must plummet 45 percent by 2030 to maintain the temperature cap of 1.5℃ degrees – above which climate change impacts are projected to become much worse. It also called on governments to reconvene next year to report stronger plans to curb emissions.

The devil, of course, is in the missing details. Many observers who have focused on those absent specifications are bemoaning a half-empty glass. The commitment on future coal use was watered down at the last minute; climate finance pledges risk remaining empty promises; and negotiators kicked the can down the road a year when it came to mapping out exactly how the world will slash emissions almost in half.

But, but, but. There is much good news coming out of the summit, and C-Change would like to dedicate this newsletter to the full half of the COP26 glass. And use it to toast the holidays.

Because, despite the omissions, Glasgow delivered important accomplishments that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. The United States and the rest of the world looked at reality and didn’t shut their eyes. COP26 gave us new building blocks for progress, and the march to net-zero is clearly accelerating.

Here are a few reasons to give thanks and raise a glass on Thanksgiving.

All the best,

The C-Change Conversations Team

Notable Video

Transitioning away from fossil fuels is possible. The capital is mobilizing. The technology is ready. And carbon-free energy sectors are growing fast.

How much of the world’s energy comes from sustainable sources right now? 29% has never looked so thrilling as it does at the hands (and feet and wheels) of Danny MacAskill. Taking to the Skies for Climate Change is a video you’ll want to share with holiday guests. The ending alone will have you gasping and cheering!

News of Hope

First, let’s pause to applaud the return of the United States to a leadership role [paywall] on climate. After years of backtracking, Washington is now committing significant financial resources and real diplomatic muscle to get out in front of global warming.

Of note, a delegation of Republicans was active at the climate summit this year. Led by Reps. John Curtis (R-UT) and Garret Graves (R-LA), the group sought to demonstrate conservative leadership to the global community and address Republican and independent voters who favor climate action.

The turnaround began reaping benefits immediately. Most dramatically, the U.S. and China announced a surprise agreement in Glasgow to boost their climate cooperation. The joint pledge by the world’s top two greenhouse gas polluters to take ‘concrete actions’ on emissions was hailed as a highpoint of the two-week conference.

There were other governmental commitments to cheer, as well. 110 nations signed on to a global methane pledge, promising to cut methane emissions by 30% by the end of this decade. (Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 84 times more potent than carbon.) Also by 2030, another 130 countries agreed to end or reverse deforestation.

But the real game changer may well have come from the corporate sector [paywall]. A proof point is the mobilization of $130 trillion in private capital, announced at Glasgow, to accelerate the global transition to a zero emissions economy. Those are the collective assets of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net-Zero, a coalition of 450 financial institutions from 45 countries, and they come close to matching the estimated $150 trillion price tag for decarbonizing the world.

Two other Glasgow “game changers” were the announcement of the new International Sustainability Standards Board, which will publish mandatory climate reporting standards by the end of 2022 and provide investors with greater transparency and encourage higher levels of investment, and the long-awaited adoption of rules for a new global carbon market. Some six years in the making, the initiative establishes a framework for how companies and countries can trade carbon emission credits across borders.

Notable Quote

Underscoring the observation that COP26 was a high-water mark for business and finance in the climate space …

“Glasgow will be remembered as the turning point when companies from all sectors, en masse, are now turning their attention to developing and driving their decarbonization strategies. It is another big step forward on the pathway towards a net-zero emissions world.”

Keith Tuffley, Global Co-head of Sustainability and Corporate Transitions, Citigroup Inc.

Notable Graph

And with our Thanksgiving toasts, perhaps a little prayer. Although hope is not dead, it is hanging by a thread, as indicated by the Climate Action Tracker’s chart below. According to its calculations, before COP26, policies in place around the world were projected to result in warming between a 2.5-2.9℃ increase (4.5-5℉) above pre-industrial levels. New pledges for long-term binding and net-zero targets, if enacted, would bring us to a 2.1℃ increase (almost 4℉), better, but still significantly above the goal of keeping the increase to 1.5℃ (2.7℉).

Countries still need to do a lot more to reach the bottom line in the chart. Next year’s COP27 in Cairo, Egypt will be the reckoning.

Read More

Finding Common Ground

It is difficult when family members disagree, but C-Change offers a way to find common ground. Recently we were honored to be invited to address the now politically-divisive issue of climate change by the Women’s Alliance of Central Unitarian Church in Paramus, New Jersey as part of their fifth annual Speakers Series. The following is an adaptation of a sermon written and delivered by Katy Kinsolving, a C-Change founding member, on Sunday, October 24, 2021.

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October 2021 Climate Change News

Dear Friends,

The 2021 international conference on climate change is underway in Glasgow, Scotland. It’s a tense moment. Nations have convened annually for 25 years but this year’s meeting is particularly urgent because it is the deadline for countries to present their plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep planetary warming below 1.5℃. If the parties fail to achieve the necessary reductions, the world will blow past that cap and face severe consequences. Scroll down for a compelling graphic that shows what this could mean for the continental United States.

Success won’t be easy. With national negotiators facing glaringly high political and financial hurdles – and with target pledges so easily missed – October saw plenty of bleak forecasts for curtailing greenhouse gas emissions. But that’s not the whole story. October also saw human ingenuity in overdrive. From the U.S. military to U.S. farmers, entrepreneurs, and technologists – and including innovators around the world – we take heart in the emergence of ideas, startups, and prototypes that might have sounded like plots for a new Iron Man movie just a few years ago.

Fueling jet planes from thin air? Race cars running on low-carbon fuel? It may happen sooner than you think. And those are just two of the ideas under development right now, right here. None of them is a silver bullet. Not all will work. But taken together – and sitting on top of enormous strides already made in renewable energy, batteries, and other climate solutions – we’ve rarely felt better about the prospects for thriving in a low-carbon world.

Warmly,

The C-Change Conversations Team

Notable Video

“A Swiss startup has created a giant vacuum cleaner to capture carbon dioxide from the air, helping companies offset their emissions. WSJ visits the facility to see how it traps the gas for sale to clients like Coca-Cola, which uses it in fizzy drinks.” – The Wall Street Journal, October 19, 2021

Watch the video.

Notable Quote

“It doesn’t matter if you believe in climate change; your insurance company does.”

– Nick VinZant, senior research analyst for QuoteWizard, a subsidiary of Lending Tree, the online mortgage company

News of Concern

Let’s face up to the bad news first. The United Nations released a study a few days ago assessing the cumulative impact of all the existing national climate pledges, and the bottom line isn’t good. Collectively, the various promises to cut national emissions add up to just one-seventh of cuts needed [paywall] to stay on the safe side of global warming.

Promises by industrialized countries to support clean energy development in poorer nations also seem to be falling dangerously short. Heading into the Glasgow COP26 summit – and complicating its resolution – 48 countries from ‘The Climate Vulnerability Forum’ are demanding that richer nations meet and now exceed existing promises to provide $100 billion in climate aid yearly. Many commentators worry that the rising costs of buying cooperation will hobble the negotiations.

That’s troubling, especially since evidence is growing daily that climate change is affecting almost everyone and every nation right now, be they rich or poor. New research calculates that 85% of the world’s population already has direct, lived experiences with climate disasters [paywall]. And those disasters have reached 80% of the globe’s land mass.

News of Hope

Despite all the obstacles – including a fair dose of skepticism – it’s hard not to applaud other developments in the climate space. First, let’s pause to praise some surprising new voices in the climate awareness choir. The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia – two major oil exporting nations – have declared net-zero intentions by 2050 and 2060, respectively. And we hear that even natural gas producer Russia is considering a net-zero announcement at the Glasgow summit. By putting their countries’ long-term future ahead of their current income streams, these fossil fuel giants seem to be accepting the need to transition to renewable energy sources.

Few new choristers are more surprising, however, than Report Murdoch’s News Corp, a longstanding megaphone for those intent on downplaying the  risks of global warming. The corporate owner of Fox News and The Wall Street Journal has made a U-turn in its Australian publications, unveiling a comprehensive climate change campaign called ‘missionzero2050.’ It embraces the need to put “Australia on a path to a net-zero future.” Yet another sign of the times.

Back on home turf – or actually, just off shore – we’re also encouraged to see that the U.S. government is moving fast to scale up wind production. Following the big Martha’s Vineyard project we told you had been greenlighted a few months ago, the administration has now announced plans to open up almost the entire national coastline for commercial wind farm leases [paywall]. It’s a big deal: massive wind and solar deployment is America’s best bet with current technology to slash carbon emissions.

Innovation, of course, never stands still, and we are equally excited to see a surge of future-oriented projects taking flight. Some, quite literally. Examples are too numerous to list in this short newsletter, but here’s a sampling of just a few standouts that caught our eyes in October:

Notable Graph

In anticipation of COP26, and to bring the global view down to the local level, Climate Central produced temperature projections to the year 2100 for 246 locations across the United States. This graphic compares a world where emissions continue on their current path and a world with aggressive emissions cuts that stay within the Paris Agreement limits of 2°C of global warming this century. The results show:

  • All 246 locations warmed under both greenhouse gas scenarios by 2100.
  • In the scenario in which emissions are aggressively cut, projected warming would range from 1°C to 2.5°C (1.8°F to 4.5°F relative to 1991-2020) by 2050 and then stabilize.
  • In the scenario in which emissions remain very high, projected warming would range from 3°C to 5°C (5.4°F to 9°F) by 2100.
  • Projections show the strongest warming in the Midwest region and some upper parts of New England.

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October 2021 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

Fall is always a transition time, sandwiched between the languid days of summer and the blurred race of the winter holidays. Our team at C-Change is already off to the races, and our days are blurring by. We’re back on the road doing live presentations, creating videos, showcasing new products, accessing new audiences, and winning new awards.

Why do we do this hard work? Because we know collectively we are all in a race – to come together to slow and manage climate change before it overwhelms us. The race starts right here in our home communities and across our broad and diverse country. And it starts by engaging others who do not understand the risk and inviting them to be part of the solution. Without broad public understanding of the scope and severity of the risk, we cannot have the public will to support action, and we cannot win this race.

Getting back on the road has been exhausting, but so validating. We are reaching discerning and skeptical audiences with tremendous success, from western Pennsylvania to North Carolina to Missouri and Minnesota. The unique way we frame the issue, and our inclusive tone and manner, are opening hearts and minds.

Thank you for your continued interest and support.

Best,
Kathleen Biggins
Founder & President

C-Change Addresses Land Stewards for 2nd Consecutive Year

In early October, C-Change was honored to appear at Rally 2021, an annual land conservation conference hosted by the Land Trust Alliance (LTA). The organization is a national leader in policy, standards, education, and training for the land trust community.

Kathleen Biggins and Sophie Glovier presented Storms and Floods: Talking to Conservatives about Water and Climate” to about 130 members of this influential audience. Land trustees are especially concerned about the byproducts of climate change such as flooding and subsequent polluted run-off and are uniquely positioned to initiate and sustain conversations about their concerns with members of their community.

The presentation focused on the health risks of climate change – especially our access to clean water − and how proven remediation efforts are making a difference. Jim Waltman, executive director of The Watershed Institute, a New Jersey organization of advocates, scientists, and educators helping keep water clean, safe, and healthy, introduced Kathleen and Sophie in the recorded presentation. Kathleen, the founder and president of C-Change, and Sophie, the Watershed’s assistant director of policy and a C-Change team member, answered questions from a live audience following the presentation. This was the second consecutive year C-Change has been invited to present at the LTA conference.

Watch the presentation here.

Biggins Delivers Primer to CEOs at 7-State Business Leadership Conference

Also in early October, Kathleen Biggins joined other distinguished speakers and attendees from seven southeastern states at the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) Southern 7 Gold Chapter Conference in Linville, NC. YPO is a global network and leadership organization for young chief executives and business owners. Kathleen, founder and president of C-Change Conversations, delivered the Primer in person to about 100 YPO members. With at least several climate skeptics in the audience, it was gratifying that many people approached her after the presentation to say they understood the issue better and wanted to learn more.

Award-Winning Website Has Our Name on It!

The C-Change Conversations website, designed by Howard Design Group, was honored with a Silver award in this year’s w3 Awards, winning for “Best Visual Appeal” and “Best Experience.” Congratulations to Jo Singer and the talented team at Howard, and C-Change team members Pam Parsons and Carrie Dyckman, who led the project for us. And thank you!

To Your Health? New Presentation is Sobering but Hopeful

The Health Primer is a new extension of our mission to deliver science-based, non-partisan climate change education. It focuses on how climate change will impact our ability to stay healthy and safe and what we can do about it. Covering the dire health effects of higher temperatures – including threats to our personal safety, food security, ability to manage diseases, air quality, and access to clean water − the Health Primer also explores how to innovate, mitigate, and adapt to a changing climate.

Like the original Primer, it is non-partisan, has powerful visuals, and is based on science from trusted sources. The Health Primer was well-received during several August and September presentations. Please contact Kathy Herring if you would like to learn more and explore booking the Health Primer for your group.

Oncologists Sound the Alarm on Climate Change and Air Pollution

Did you know that air pollution is the second leading cause of lung cancers worldwide? And that air pollution and climate change are closely related? Turns out that not enough health care providers know this either. That’s why Drs. Christine Berg and Joan Schiller – both ardent supporters of the C-Change mission and contributors to our Health Primer – are reaching out to their peers in the medical community and others about how climate change and air pollution impact our health.

On September 7th, C-Change published Joan’s blog, Two Sides of the Same Coin: Air Pollution and Climate Change. Joan also is a trained presenter of the C-Change Primer.

The same week, Christine virtually presented their joint air pollution/lung cancer research at the most well-attended session of the 2021 World Conference on Lung Cancer. The two oncologists found that five European countries − Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Bosnia/Herzegovina, and Poland − had the highest number of lung cancers due to air pollution among those aged 50 to 69. The correlation between burning coal and lung cancer in these countries is clear: Serbia derives 70% of its energy production from coal and Poland, 64%.

Thank you, Christine and Joan, for all you are doing to educate audiences about health risks tied to greenhouse gas emissions and a warming climate.

In-Person Primers Are Back!

Throughout the summer and fall, our team is continuing to deliver the Primer primarily to conservative and moderate audiences, and, gratefully, in person. For example, Nancy Ylvisaker presented the Primer in St. Louis to nearly 80 engineers through the American Public Works Association. Right before Labor Day, Kathleen Biggins delivered the Primer to three audiences (Linville Book Club, Blowing Rock Country Club, and The Grandfather Mountain Club) in the North Carolina mountains. Response was so positive she received invitations from audience members to present in their home cities of Durham, Charlotte, Birmingham, AL, and Vero Beach, FL. Last week, she flew to Minnesota to present to about 90 guests of the Woodhill Country Club on Wednesday and delivered the Primer presentation again the next day to the Minnetonka Garden Club.

Dallas Hetherington presented to members of the Four Seasons 55+ community in Warren, NJ and to about 70 people at the Rolling Rock Club, near Pittsburgh, PA. Dallas shared some of the feedback he received after the latter presentation from Simin Yazdgerdi Curtis, president & CEO of Pittsburgh’s American Middle East Institute. Simin said, “I have never heard (nor seen) such a comprehensive, visually powerful talk about Climate Change as I witnessed from you last night. The extent of the warming of our planet − with such shocking animated graphics − could not have been better conveyed than by your calm, articulate, ‘just the facts, ma’am’ delivery. In short, you are a great communicator and are engaged in an important mission.”

This receptivity mirrors our experience before COVID shut down in-person presentations, and it is reaffirming to see that our audiences value our content and approach.

Sold Out Benefit Supports the C-Change Mission

Our first large benefit, “Wine in the Time of Climate Change,” was a wonderful success. Sipping wine on a beautiful September evening, about 70 new and long-time friends and supporters enjoyed wine and spirits entrepreneur Mark Censits’ informative presentation about how winemakers are adapting to a changing climate and where we can find good wines in the future.

We are incredibly grateful to our sponsors − CoolVines, Otherwise Engaged Events, Skurnik Wines and Spirits, Terhune Orchards, and The Watershed Institute; our partner, Almora Advisors; and the amazing, hard-working C-Change volunteers.

Speaking of which, C-Change Conversations is a non-profit organization, run entirely by volunteers. We hope you will consider supporting us, especially on Giving Tuesday (November 30th) and through our year-end appeal. Please watch your email for these special opportunities to help us reach more people with non-partisan, science-based facts and a hopeful message about climate change.

Meet the Team

Sometimes you meet someone who is so interesting and articulate that time accelerates when you are with them. You look up and hours have passed when it felt like only minutes. Margaret Koval is one of those people. An Emmy-winning journalist with a broad range of interests and knowledge, and an accomplished artist who has lived abroad and travels widely, she always brings a fresh and insightful perspective.

We met when Margaret interviewed me for the “She Roars” podcast at Princeton University in which she showcased the school’s female graduates and professors who are making a difference in the world. We have several team members who are Princeton alumnae, and we were honored to have our C-Change story be included. When we decided to create a monthly newsletter curating climate news for our C-Change family, I immediately asked Margaret to come on board to help us write it, and to our collective delight, she agreed. Every month we wrestle with selecting news of hope and news of concern, including insightful quotes and engaging videos, and then Margaret adds her magic and weaves the story together. Take a look.

Why I’m involved with C-Change: I joined C-Change because it fills an incredibly important gap in the firehose of communications around the issue of climate change. It focuses on people who are unsure what stance to take and recognizes that most are busy, skeptical thinkers who welcome non-partisan  information that is digestible without a PhD in atmospheric science. C-Change also appreciates the importance of economics, business, and jobs – not as part of the problem but as central to any real solution to global warming.

What have you learned about climate change that makes you hopeful? In the last few years, I’ve been deeply encouraged to meet many of the researchers and businesspeople working furiously on the issue of climate change. The biggest blast of hope for me came from a Princeton University study that mapped out five different ‘pathways’ to transform the U.S. energy sector – any one of them could achieve net zero greenhouse gases and go a long way to stop global warming. All of them would result in MORE jobs, more economic opportunity, and better human health compared to doing nothing.

C-Change in the News

TapintoPrinceton, an online community news source, provided wonderful exposure for C-Change in If you think the weather’s wacky, a neighbor can probably explain.” We are so grateful to Richard Rein and Princeton, NJ-area journalists for sharing our story and encouraging more people to support our mission.

Do you know of other news outlets that would be interested in our story of a band of volunteers who offer non-partisan climate education and are opening minds and building consensus about climate change − one individual, one community, one conversation at a time? If so, please contact Kathleen Biggins with ideas for reaching more people with our message through print, broadcast, and online news sources. Thank you!

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September 2021 Climate Change News

Dear Friends,

While it is always difficult to pare down the headlines we share with you, this month has been particularly challenging. From the deadly devastations of storms like Fred, Henri, and Ida to the flurry of activity leading up to the critically important United Nations climate conference starting next month, the news has been fast and furious.

The reality of climate change is setting in across the nation and around the world – thanks in part to the inescapable physical and economic costs that are becoming so apparent. But we are still divided on what we should do about it. Global leaders who recognize the magnitude of the challenge are facing tough choices, scrambling to implement policies that can both keep us safe and pass muster with their various constituencies.

The difficulty of transitioning is further exacerbated by the burgeoning global energy crises, as acute natural gas shortages and escalating prices harm people and economies across the world. There are many reasons for the shortage, but the public outcry could make it difficult for policymakers to deliver on carbon-reduction policies.

The next few months will be incredibly important, both on the domestic and international front, as nations and the international community wrestle with how to meet this challenge. Difficult choices lie ahead.

We can all help. Stay tuned, stay positive, and take action in a way that works for you and your family.

Wishing you well,
The C-Change Conversations Team

Notable Video

We loved this TED Talk about how fossil fuel workers and technology could help us lessen our climate risk by providing clean, geothermal energy all over the world. It seems fracking technology could enable us to dig deeper to capture the earth’s heat and transform it into energy we can use in many more places.

It reminds us, yet again, that there are many solutions unfolding, everyone must be invited to the table, and that we never know where tomorrow’s breakthrough may come. 

Watch the video.

News of Concern

Climate change has been almost everywhere this month, underscoring the stark truth that there is nowhere to hide. Hurricane Ida left nearly a million people without power in Louisiana and Mississippi amid hundred-degree weather that killed more than the hurricane itself.

Over 1,400 miles from Ida’s landfall, the storm dropped so much rain on New York and New Jersey that scores of people drowned in their cars and their homes. Tennessee also saw flash floods kill more than 20, while wildfires ravaged California – forcing thousands to evacuate Lake Tahoe – and yet another deadly heat wave took lives in the Pacific Northwest. All in all, the last few weeks have shown that the U.S. is not prepared [paywall] for our climate reality.

The millions who are directly affected by such climate-linked disasters are only part of the story. The economic fallout of climate change is also battering the finances of individuals, communities, and states far outside the direct line of fire … or the line of heat or water. In a game-changing move, the U.S. government is planning to pull back its subsidies for flood insurance policies in high-risk zones, setting the stage for premium increases for millions of homeowners, with potentially life-changing rate rises coming to tens of thousands. It’s a clear signal to those considering buying or investing in property at low-lying levels, but will hit those with nowhere else to go particularly hard.

Out West, a California moratorium has expired that protected fire insurance policies, putting their owners ‘at the mercy of the market.’ Millions more are at risk of losing policies this year as insurance companies and states try to retool a broken system that inadequately prices risk, leaving taxpayers to cover the real costs for people living in fire- and flood-prone areas. Change is unpalatable but a reckoning is clearly coming. And the cost won’t be measured by individual stress alone. Entire communities are facing insolvency [paywall] in the wake of climate-induced shocks, foretelling yet another body blow to small-town America.

If all this isn’t bad enough, the consensus of more than 230 medical journals is that a range of adverse human health consequences of climate change could be catastrophic if governments can’t manage to avert warming more than 1.5℃ above pre-industrial levels. This is particularly sobering since the United Nations warned this month that warming well above that limit is locked in – even if all the ambitious pledges to cut carbon are met by the global community. The UN says even if every country meets current emission promises, we will still experience a  ‘catastrophic’ rise in global average temperatures of 2.7℃ by the end of the century.

In defiance of that alert, Australia’s government declared the country would continue mining and exporting coal well beyond 2030. Coal, of course, emits more climate-warming carbon into the atmosphere than other fossil fuels. Australia is the second largest exporter in the world.

News of Hope

Clearly, there’s much that keeps us up at night. And yet, many key countries are moving faster and better to get a grip on the climate crisis in the runup to the next UN Climate Conference (COP26) that opens on October 31. While Australia seemingly wants to put its head in the sand regarding coal, this month China made a major announcement to stop funding coal plants around the world.

And as if vying to take the lead after years of American reluctance to act, President Biden announced that the White House will work with Congress to double the administration’s climate finance commitments to $11.4 billion by 2024. Equally important, he asserted that this will enable developed countries to keep a key commitment to the world’s poorer nations to mobilize $100 billion a year to support climate action in the developing world. The failure of developed nations to honor that pledge has been seen as a potential stumbling block for COP26.

More applause is warranted for the recent joint pledge by the U.S. and the European Union to slash emissions of methane – one of the world’s most potent greenhouse gases – by 30% over the next 10 years. Seven other countries have signed on, promising an important collective initiative to dial back the source of about a quarter of global warming to date.

On the domestic front, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a new rule to cut the use of  hydrofluorocarbons – a class of greenhouse gases that are hundreds to thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide and widely used in home refrigerators, air conditioners, and supermarket freezers. The bi-partisan support behind the plan to slash these super-pollutants is viewed as a major achievement.

Also this month, the Biden Administration announced that it will take immediate steps to protect Americans from extreme heat in the wake of a summer of lethal heat waves that killed hundreds of people around the country. Heat is the nation’s leading cause of weather-related deaths and the new initiative will involve multiple agencies.

Finally, we’re intrigued by news that the knowledge and technology behind the controversial practice of fracking (hydraulic fracturing) may power a shift to clean energy for oil companies and their workers.

Notable Graph

This graph speaks for itself, showing the number of disasters costing $1 billion or more per year. Scientists say the rapid escalation in the number and severity of weather-related disasters is due in large part to climate change.

Source: U.S. Global Change Research Program

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Heat Waves, “Hot” Poles, and Why Greenland Used to be Warmer

Your questions answered. Here’s our latest Q&A with climate scientists.

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Two Sides of the Same Coin: Air Pollution and Climate Change

As a physician, I have seen firsthand the devastating health problems that air pollution can inflict: asthma attacks, strokes, heart attacks, lung cancer, and more.

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July/August 2021 Climate Change News

Dear Friends,

In these dog days of August, you may have missed the biggest climate news of the summer, or even the decade: the release of The Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The title may be eye-glazing, but its conclusions are Earth-roasting. This report is a very big deal, with cause for both hope and concern. We’ve summarized what you need to know in our news roundup, below.

For those who prefer their own eyes to government reports or scientific data, however, the evidence of the past few months is equally devastating. At this writing, the Pacific Northwest – known for its temperate climate – is experiencing its second murderous heat wave [paywall] of the summer with temperatures widely topping 100 degrees. Just a month ago, Portland reached 116° and the town of Lytton, Canada clocked in at 121°– before it burned to the ground.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can still change the future for ourselves and for generations to come, by caring about this issue, setting aside politics and raising our voices (especially with our elected officials), and recognizing and investing time and resources in good policy solutions.

The world is getting hotter. How hot is up to us.

With Determination,
The C-Change Conversations Team

Notable Quote

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report “is a code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse‑gas emissions from fossil-fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk. Global heating is affecting every region on Earth, with many of the changes becoming irreversible.

The internationally agreed threshold of 1.5°C is perilously close. We are at imminent risk of hitting 1.5°C in the near term. The only way to prevent exceeding this threshold is by urgently stepping up our efforts and pursuing the most ambitious path.”

–  United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, August 9, 2021
 
A bit of context may be useful here. The IPCC report is an independent analysis of climate science designed to be policy neutral and be the “gold standard” of scientific understanding. It identifies where there is agreement in the scientific community on topics related to climate change and where further research is needed. Thousands of the world’s best scientists from 195 countries contributed to the report.
 
The planet today is 1.1℃ (1.98℉) warmer than it was in the 19th century. Optimists hope we can cap the increase at 1.5℃. Pessimists fear we’re on track to contend with warming of 4℃ or more.
 

News of Concern

As the Wall Street Journal published on its front page [paywall], “The [IPCC] report reflects new scientific methodologies honed in an era of growing climate disturbances. It draws on a better understanding of the complex dynamics of the changing atmosphere and greater stores of data about climate change dating back millions of years, as well as a more robust set of satellite measurements and more than 50 computer models of climate change.”

The report is exhaustive and detailed, but its essential takeaways can be counted on one hand. The science on climate change is crystal clear and human-caused global warming is, indeed, accelerating. We’re on course to reach 1.5℃ of warming by mid-century with weather disasters and rising sea levels to increase with each additional decimal of heat. No place on Earth will escape the effects.

The good news is that the report says the world can still hold the line at 1.5℃. It will take unprecedented international effort and the wholesale transformation of our energy systems – but it is possible. How can it be done? One last IPCC takeaway may help. The report has gone on record affirming that the growing body of science linking climate change to specific extreme weather events is now robust and stronger than ever. Linking local calamities to global warming may be the best tool yet for raising calls to action.

As a case in point, a new analysis from the World Weather Attribution Network says the June heat wave in the Northwestern United States and Canada was virtually impossible” without climate change. Even worse, the authors predict that heat waves like June’s – with temperatures of 116-120℉ – could occur every 5-10 years if the Earth’s current warming trajectory continues.

With sweltering temperatures again in August, it may seem that July offered a respite – but that would be a false impression. Across the globe, July 2021 was the hottest month ever recorded, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). With this news coming just days after the IPCC report, NOAA underscored that the unwelcome new record was part of “the disturbing and disruptive path that climate change has set for the globe.”

All this comes against several disturbing background trends reported this month. First, the International Energy Agency said that global electricity demand is expected to surge this year as the world shakes off the COVID recession – with fossil fuels, particularly Asian coal, supplying more than half the increase. Renewable energy is also rebounding but not fast enough to offset the increase in fossil fuel sources and, as a result, the international community is slipping off its path to carbon neutrality.

The second gust of headwind comes from the Amazon basin – often called ‘the lungs of the Earth’ for its capacious, carbon-eating vegetation. A new study suggests that swaths of the rainforest are emitting more carbon than they absorb [paywall], under the dual assaults of deforestation and rising temperatures.

And third, there are increasing signs that the Atlantic Ocean’s current system – a conveyor belt that regulates the climate of Northern Europe may be demonstrating unprecedented weakening in the face of rising atmospheric temperatures. The system’s collapse would be expected to raise sea levels around the Atlantic and change both temperatures and rainfall on both sides of the ocean.

News of Hope

Against all the bad news in July and August, the hopeful steps towards climate solutions that we want to highlight may look small – even, in some cases, like double-edged swords.

Take Congress. We’re very encouraged to see two bills have passed the U.S. Senate with important climate initiatives intact. The bi-partisan infrastructure bill [paywall] includes about $130 billion for climate initiatives including ‘climate resilience,’ renewable energy, public transit and the largest ever federal expenditure on electric car recharging stations. A few weeks previously, the Senate overwhelmingly passed the Growing Climate Solutions Act to help farmers make money by selling carbon credits. It was a rare upswell in bipartisan cooperation around a climate solution proposal. We’re hoping these examples of bipartisanship in support of climate action will endure and expand in future legislation.

In response to the climate urgency, California regulators are once again in proactive mode – taking steps to alter state building codes [paywall] to require solar power and battery storage in new commercial construction and some large residential projects.

The move is one of many indicators that the economics around energy and climate are changing rapidly – even faster than many business leaders have anticipated. Another sign is in a recent S&P Global Market Intelligence report that the value of fossil fuels is declining as renewable energy deployment accelerates – and concludes some $68 billion in coal and natural gas investment may have to be written off as stranded assets.

Although we don’t relish the prospect of investors and shareholders losing money, we do applaud forewarning – and the drumbeat of evidence that smart money will be pursuing clean energy investments across economic sectors. We note with pleasure that the market for hybrid cars is booming – boding well for electric vehicles – and even lawn care operations in politically conservative areas are shunning gas in favor of electric power.

And if you don’t think that’s innovative enough, we leave you with this: researchers in Oregon are working to make marine algae (aka seaweed) the food source of the future. It absorbs carbon, it grows easily, and it’s nutritious. According to the ‘aquaculturists’ behind the idea, it even tastes like bacon when it’s smoked and fried.

Notable Video

As uncontained wildfires once again destroy communities in California, Canada, and Australia – even the Arctic is burning. Again. Hundreds died in Germany and Belgium last month as lethal flash floods linked to climate change overwhelmed some of the richest and most technologically advanced regions of the world.

Flooding in China killed even more people – some in an inundated city subway line. Watch the video taken by passengers who survived.

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