Hurricane Predictions? Water Cycles? Delayed Glacial Period? and More

The latest Q&A with our climate science advisors explores hurricane forecasts, the difference between water cycle and water table, whether we could be headed toward a glacial period, and more.

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Review of “Unsettled”

Written by a prominent academic and science policy-maker, “Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What it Doesn’t, and Why It Matters” contends that man-made climate change is indeed occurring, but points out several inconsistencies between what climate science says and what the public perceives.

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May 2021 Climate Change News

Dear Friends,

In May we saw remarkable steps in the fight against climate change from such unexpected corners that the possibility of a tipping point in climate action can’t be ruled out. If that sounds like a hesitant ‘hallelujah,’ it is. Without doubt, there’s cause for celebration. From the boardrooms of Houston to the courtrooms of the Hague, an unlikely collection of shareholder activists, investors, and environmental litigants scored a series of big wins that – separately and together – were hailed as game-changing developments against business as usual.
 
But countervailing winds are blowing, too. For example, we’re tracking the fallout of
a letter from the treasurers of 15 U.S. states to the Biden Administration, threatening to pull the states’ assets from financial institutions that agree to decarbonize their lending and investment portfolios.
 
Helping our readers sort through stories like these is exactly what C-Change Conversations was created to do. We hope our resources educate and inspire you to talk more about climate change, especially with elected officials, and encourage everyone you know to listen to the evidence and heed the logic that some of the world’s most hard-headed business leaders see clearly.
 
The tides
are turning. Let’s not allow this progress to be too little, too late.


Warmly,
The C-Change Conversations Team

Notable Quote

“China is not the only perilous threat to our nation. We are regularly warned of the consequences of climate change. Many of us take the only actions we know how to take: turning down thermostats in winter, buying energy-efficient vehicles, separating our trash. Politicians pass small-bore measures to appease progressive voters. Being more attuned to political advantage than to actual impact, politicians shy away from committing to remedies that have the potential to slow the warming: putting a price on carbon, carbon border adjustment tariffs, nuclear power and direct carbon capture. These, too, would require investment, sacrifice and political courage.”

– Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT), writing in the Washington Post

News of Hope

May 26th saw a veritable hat trick of three portentous scores against the sluggish response of big oil – ExxonMobil, Shell, and Chevron, specifically – to climate change. Stunning defeat [paywall] is how some news outlets described ExxonMobil’s face-off with activist investors in their campaign to elect new board members dedicated to steering the oil and gas giant toward a more climate-friendly stance. The revolt is evidence of the growing strength and willingness of Wall Street firms to push CEOs toward greener policies.
 
On the same day, a Dutch court issued
a landmark decision [paywall] compelling the oil titan Royal Dutch Shell to cut carbon emissions 45% by 2030 – far faster than previously planned. The case was filed by seven activist groups on behalf of more than 17,000 Dutch citizens claiming the company’s business model endangered their lives and human rights. The plaintiff’s lawyer called it a ‘turning point in history’ that could set a precedent in other jurisdictions around the world.
 
And then, an astonishing 61% of
Chevron shareholders voted in favor of a resolution to not only lower its own emissions but also, remarkably, to cut the emissions generated by the users of Chevron’s products.
 
Also from within the industry, the conservative
International Energy Agency issued its own roadmap for achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. This report,  like  other roadmaps we’ve told you about, concludes that net-zero emissions are achievable and, strikingly, that no new fossil fuel supplies will be needed to meet global demand beyond those being tapped today.
 
And remember the ‘Texas freeze’ this winter? Some state lawmakers responded to the deadly storm and the catastrophic failure of the Texas power grid by falsely blaming windmills. Legislation has even been introduced to
target the renewable industry with added charges and responsibilities. But it appears economics may trump politics, as a new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts Texas is on track to rival California as the state with the most utility-scale solar. A full one-third of large solar facilities planned for the next two years will be in the Lone Star State.

News of Concern

While we are hopeful that the surge in shareholder and investor awareness will spark more positive steps in climate action, scientists continue to deliver warnings that 7 of the earth’s climate systems may each be reaching a tipping point – and possibly faster than predicted. Also in May, the Environmental Protection Agency released a report [paywall] that delivered alarming evidence that the U.S. and the world have moved into unprecedented climate territory.
 
Unfortunately, there are plenty of people who prefer to look the other way (like the aforementioned
consortium of state treasurers). Another example: commercial agriculture enterprises in some 23 nations that haven’t lived up to commitments on deforestation. Governments and corporations promised more than seven years ago to stop clear-cutting the tropical forests so critical to global climate. In that time, however, an area more than twice the size of California has been stripped of its trees – representing a 50% increase in the rate of deforestation.
 
Meanwhile the world’s top meteorologists have
upped the odds to over 40% that global warming will exceed the limits set by the landmark 2015 Paris agreement within the next five years. The repercussions – including crop failures, flooded cities, and more disease – are increasingly predictable. In fact, insurance giant Swiss Re has put a price tag on the economic losses [paywall] we can expect by 2050 from climate change at an eye-watering $23 trillion or 11-14% of global economic output. The company’s conclusions might influence how the industry prices insurance and directs its investments in the coming years.
 
The human costs of climate change are very real and very now. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre reports that
extreme weather displaced some 30.7 million people in 2020. That’s about three times more than the number of people forced to move by conflict and violence.

Notable Graph

Surprising fact: heat kills more people than all types of weather hazards, including hurricanes and tornadoes. Roughly 12,000 Americans die of heat-related causes annually, according to research by scientists at Duke University. Hotter summer temperatures can contribute to poorer air quality and heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses. Baby boomers and older individuals are especially hard hit by summers that have grown hotter because of climate change. So, in addition to doing what you can to curb greenhouse gas emissions, please be extra careful this summer, and check on elders who are alone in sweltering weather.

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Another Way to Honor Our Military

Armed Forces Day

“We face all kinds of threats in our line of work, but few of them truly deserve to be called existential. The climate crisis does. No nation can find lasting security without addressing the climate crisis.”
– U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, April 23, 2021

Today is Armed Forces Day, when we celebrate men and women serving in the U.S. military. Across the country, there will be parades, speeches, and other tributes to our service members.
 
As we honor them, we should remember that climate change is making their jobs more difficult and dangerous. Our military leaders are warning that we need to embrace climate action now to keep our troops safe. Here are their key points:

  • Climate change is causing more conflicts. As climate change disrupts food and water sources, more areas are becoming less habitable – and conflicts over these basic resources are growing. These conflicts often exacerbate human migration and increase terrorism. This will continue to worsen as we move into mid-century and disruptions become more acute.
     
  •  It will be more difficult (and expensive) to train soldiers and keep them safe. Climate change makes temperatures higher and water resources less dependable, which makes it harder, and downright dangerous, for our soldiers to operate in many areas of the world. In addition, hotter, drier conditions at many of our training grounds make it dangerous to practice with live ammunition because of the risk of starting wildfires.
     
  • Billions of dollars of damage to military bases here and abroad has been incurred by rising sea levels and extreme weather events made worse by climate change. Even once we protect the bases, the cities near them are also threatened by sea level rise and must be built up so that personnel can get from their homes to the bases when needed.
     
  • Our soldiers and National Guard will be called on more often for humanitarian help both at home and around the world as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires are made more damaging and dangerous by climate change.

“This has to be everybody’s fight,” says Ron Keys, a retired Air Force general. We hope you will watch and share his video explaining why our military cares about climate change.
 
So please, support our troops and raise your voice. Thanks for helping us keep the conversation going.
 
Warmly,
The C-Change Conversations Team

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Jobs, the Economy & Climate Change

The Star-Ledger has just published an opinion piece written by our founder, Kathleen Biggins, after a conservative pundit lamented that climate action was jobs-killing and would hurt our economy – something that gets repeated over and over but is simply not true. Such statements are a disservice because they only look at one small piece of the equation instead of looking at the sum of all the parts.

Every job is important to individuals and communities but a job saved today that will cost many more jobs tomorrow is a Faustian bargain. It simply makes no sense to save a job today at the cost of new, climate-friendly jobs that bring more economic growth as well as important and valuable benefits like lower health care costs and a cleaner environment.

We have to find a way to reward and protect fossil fuel workers who enabled our economic growth in the past, while pivoting to the new technologies that will ensure our economic viability in the future.

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April 2021 Climate Change News

Dear Friends,

After decades of slow walking and fractious talking about the climate crisis, we see a notable consensus forming across society that climate change poses a real and significant risk. President Biden’s Climate Summit last week underscored both the need for a big and coordinated effort and the difficulties of doing so on a global scale.
 
It’s important to note that the business community and economists are pushing Biden to be aggressive – recognizing the potentially crushing economic losses ahead if we do not act quickly and forcefully enough. Republicans have rolled out their own climate platform, and legacy players from oil giant ExxonMobil [paywall] to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia are adding their voices to the concerned climate change chorus.
 
We applaud the movement, but also ask: What next? Recent news (highlighted below) gives us a hint to the answer as we race to develop new technologies and understand the changes we are triggering in the natural world.
 
Understanding “What next?” makes our mission – to build the consensus across party lines needed for bold action – all the more critical.


Warmly,
The C-Change Conversations Team

Notable Quote

“We are at the point where climate change means systems change – and almost every system will change. That understanding is long overdue, but I don’t think we know exactly what it means yet. It’s a moment of maximum hope; it’s also a moment of high risk.”

Rachel Kyte, Dean
Fletcher School of Business at Tufts University

Notable Innovations

The first mass-produced car that runs on sunlight puts to bed any ideas that non-emitting cars need be dull and fusty: it seems solar batmobiles [paywall] may be the vehicle of the future.

And while watching cement dry may be no one’s idea of excitement, this turned our heads: a new recipe for low-carbon concrete that permanently absorbs and traps greenhouse gases. This is a “Eureka” moment, and something academics thought impossible. Nearly 9% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions come from concrete production already, and with the projected growth of megacities we will need a lot more concrete in the future. This breakthrough provides new hope.

News of Concern

If anybody still needs convincing that we may be losing our race against time, consider this: scientists believe climate change could literally be causing the earth to tilt on its axis. A new study concludes that glacial melt on a massive scale caused by global warming explains why the position of the poles has moved about four meters since the 1980s. Read the plain language summary here.
 
New research also shows that global warming is weakening planetary ocean currents that affect climate on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The changes are expected to cause rising sea levels and change weather patterns across the globe.

Not surprisingly, such galactic shifts could have devastating economic consequences. Nearly three-quarters of economists agree that “immediate and drastic action” is needed to curb emissions. A 300-strong group of major corporate leaders urged Biden to “go big” on emission reductions. Adding to the chorus, a new report by insurance giant Swiss Re warns that $23 trillion could be lost from the global economy by 2050 and concludes starkly: “Climate change poses the biggest long-term risk to the global economy. No action is not an option.”
 
It is therefore deeply concerning to see that global demand for coal [paywall] – the dirtiest fossil fuel – is set to rise by 4.5% as the pandemic recedes. China saw a major increase in coal generation last year.

News of Hope

The growing consensus noted earlier has resulted in tectonic shifts in Washington and beyond. The new administration this month pledged to cut U.S. emissions by 50-52% by 2050 – and there are viable scenarios to achieve that target. A big part of the answer is embedded in the $2 trillion clean infrastructure plan [paywall] that the president’s team unveiled a few weeks earlier.
 
One incredibly promising sidebar for all this comes from the coal miners’ union.  The United Mine Workers announced this month it will back the push to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources if their jobs can be guaranteed.
 
We continue to be encouraged by analyses that show that is possible – as well as by technological breakthroughs may help lead the way. The cost of solar energy, for example, has plummeted since the early 2000s. And the Department of Energy has announced targets to cut costs of utility-scale solar by more than half again by 2030. 
 
And, after decades of unrealized promise: wave power may be on the horizon. The federal government recently approved the first full-scale, utility grid-connected wave energy test site in the U.S. We also note with pleasure a burgeoning carbon market gold rush (or should we say ‘green rush?’) in America’s agriculture industry, as large firms sell “carbon credits” when farmers adopt practices that reduce emissions. 

Notable Illustration

The New York Times has published the beautifully illustrated A Climate Change Guide for Kids, a good introduction to the basics of climate change. It is written for children, but we hope you will read it and share it with people of all ages.

Notable Graphs

Here’s a good visual for understanding the growing consensus around climate change.  While the U.S. is making progress on coming together around this issue, we are still an outlier to other countries.

Solar is the cheapest energy in history, and the Department of Energy aims to make it cheaper.

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April 2021 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

Happy Spring! Just like the daffodils and tulips that are popping up here in Princeton, there’s lots of new activity among our growing team of volunteers. From presenting the Primer to our first international business audience, to our new website, to a great event with one of our climate science advisors, our momentum is on the upswing.

There is still great concern as the science becomes clearer and because so many people are underestimating the risk of climate change and clinging to the status quo. But there are more reasons for hope than in a long time, as new technologies offer answers.

We are hopeful and energized by positive news and developments in addressing the climate crisis. We hope you are too! Staying informed and engaged is an important way to be part of the solution.

Warmly,
Kathleen Biggins
Founder & President

Primer Presentation Highlights

In 2021, our growing team of trained presenters has already delivered our Primer presentation (via Zoom) 18 times to nearly 1,000 people. Here we spotlight two of this year’s Primer events.

C-Change has gone global! In early March we presented our “Climate Change Primer for Business” to our first international audience. Employees of Commonwealth Bank of Australia tuned in from Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, London, Amsterdam, and New York. Here’s what Bill Woodley, the bank’s head of U.S., U.K., and Europe, had to say about the event:
 
“Kathleen Biggins presented the C-Change Conversations Primer to great acclaim to about 200 bankers and business people located across the globe
. The Primer is logically prepared and delivered, giving the audience both the foundational science behind climate change and relating it to issues that matter to everyone. Throughout the presentation, Kathleen weaves in themes such as Jobs and Economy, Health and Personal Security, and Geopolitical Stability, demonstrating how climate change impacts them all. The Primer is pitched as a ‘non-partisan conversation’ on the topic of climate change – designed to push past political preconceptions and attitudes – and it delivers on this promise most effectively. Kathleen’s style is passionate, not preachy, and leads the audience to the conclusion that action is imperative and overdue. Some of the examples of technology-led initiatives are fascinating and show how sustainable business can have positive impacts on our local economies and communities. I would recommend the C-Change Primer as a great investment of time for people of all backgrounds and experience, but particularly to companies that want to ensure their employees understand and can speak comfortably about climate change.”

Sustainable New Jersey’s Climate Summit

Our home state of New Jersey is instituting climate change education for grades K-12 and across disciplines, not just in the area of science. In February, C-Change was pleased to be a featured presenter for Sustainable Jersey’s Climate Summit, where students and teachers participated in virtual sessions to learn about actionable ways to address the climate crisis. Our “Climate Science Primer for Educators” helped the audience of teachers feel more comfortable and confident in their ability to bring high quality and accurate climate change information to their students. Since the Summit, C-Change has met with school leaders and administrators to discuss ways C-Change could support the state’s climate change education initiative and has been invited to present the Primer at another teachers conference in May.

Meet the Team

From Kathleen Biggins –

“I’m on it.”  Those are the most frequent words I hear from Catherine Sidamon-Eristoff, our Treasurer, overseer of Development, and Primer presenter. Her “can do” attitude and impressive skill sets – she’s a talented writer and presenter and is world-class in pulling people together and forging connections – make Catherine a critically important and respected member of our team.

Catherine is on our Executive Committee and helps to drive strategy and develop policy. She is also willing to “roll up her sleeves” and get a tedious, brain-numbing job like overseeing charitable registrations in 50 states not only done, but done well. She exudes competence and professionalism, is unflappable (despite being tested on multiple occasions), and is truly artful in her ability to run meetings. In short, she is one of those people who has and gives it all – a leader and a team player with both great heart and intellect. 

We are so grateful for her many contributions. Learn more about Catherine below.

From Catherine Sidamon-Eristoff –

Why I’m involved with C-Change: I joined C-Change because I believe that climate change is the overriding issue of our time, and we need to heighten awareness of the scientific facts and implications for ourselves, our global economy, and our planet. While I have been involved in environmental education my entire adult life, the C-Change Primer and our other education programs provide exactly the kind of information more people need so they can better understand the challenges and opportunities ahead.

What have you learned about climate change that makes you hopeful? I am hopeful because the dialogue around the issues has shifted from “Is it real?” to “What are we doing about it?”  More and more, businesses, governments, and citizens are acknowledging the risks of climate change and how it affects them. There are myriad creative ways to address these risks, with as many coming from nature and individual action as from technological advances. I am also hopeful because I have seen firsthand that once people understand the science, they are willing to act to affect sustainable change.

Save the Date for “Sips and Stems”

Wednesday, May 19th, from 4:00 – 5:30pm

Please join us for flower arranging and conversation (under a tent) to benefit C-Change Conversations.

Stay tuned for more in-person and virtual events!
Let us know if you’d like an invitation.

Conversation with Bernadette Woods Placky

According to many climate scientists, the biggest impediment to preventing further climate change is the lack of public will to address it. Hope is crucial for inspiring action and is central to our approach to building consensus around addressing climate change. 

And so, in early February we were excited to host “Reasons for Hope,” a conversation with one of C-Change Conversations’ climate advisors, Bernadette Woods Placky. Bernadette is an Emmy Award winning meteorologist and director of Climate Central’s Climate Matters program. She has attended international conferences on climate change and is often featured on national and local broadcasts explaining how climate change is exacerbating many extreme weather events.

Thank you Garden Club of America!

C-Change Conversations was deeply grateful to receive a generous donation along with heartfelt thanks from the Garden Club of America (GCA) for our leadership in climate change education, especially during its 2021 National Affairs and Legislation Conference (NAL) and for the past five years. As noted in our January newsletter, C-Change team members Kathleen Biggins helped to kick off the 2021 conference by moderating a panel of the keynote speakers; Sophie Glovier led a session on how individuals can help their community take action; and Katy Kinsolving educated audience members about the nexus of agriculture and climate change and making wise food choices to protect our planet.

C-Change has presented our Climate Change Primer to  14,000 people in 31 states and overseas, thanks in large part to the support of GCA and its members. About half of GCA’s 200 member garden clubs have hosted Primer presentations in their communities or via Zoom, with new invitations arriving each week. While our organization has grown from four GCA club members to 30 volunteers across the country, and we now present to a wide range of audiences, we will never forget that our work was inspired by an NAL presentation and that garden clubs took a chance on hosting our Primer presentation when we were just starting out. We are so thankful for GCA’s continuing support.

C-Change Launches a New Website!

This month C-Change launched a beautiful new website that reflects our vision, mission, and the scope of our work to improve understanding about the science and effects of climate change and facilitate ongoing discussion and engagement on the issue.

Many thanks to Jo Singer and her team at Howard Design Group and to C-Change team members Pam Parsons and Carrie Dyckman for their patience, creativity, and phenomenal effort behind this important tool for introducing C-Change Conversations to the world. We hope you will check out the new website and visit it often for new resources that will help you learn more and feel comfortable talking about climate change.

ICYMI

  • Our recent Ask a Scientist newsletter includes questions from people like you and answers from our climate science advisors.
  • Check out the latest issue of Curated Climate News, C-Change’s monthly review of both hopeful and concerning news reports on climate change.
  • C-Change co-founder Carrie Dyckman is brimming with optimism about progress on climate change and urges us all to take personal action. Read her blog: Time to Sweat the Small Stuff
  • Wondering how our food choices impact the planet?  Check out this video by Katy Kinsolving, also a C-Change co-founder. She created it for the Garden Club of America’s 2021 National Affairs and Legislation conference. 

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Earth Day 2021

Dear Friends,

C-Change Conversations believes that climate change is not an environmental issue, but a human one. The warming planet impacts each of us personally. Our individual choices matter, as does our willingness to come together to support policy changes at all levels of government and within the business community.

Today is Earth Day, a great day to take a step toward preserving the planet for future generations through the simple act of making better choices about what to eat.

To get started, we encourage you to watch this short video, “Eating for the Planet.” Katy Kinsolving, a C-Change co-founder, created it for the Garden Club of America’s 2021 National Affairs and Legislation conference. Follow Katy through the grocery store, at the farmer’s market, and in the kitchen as she shows us simple ways we all can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by making better food choices – like eating more lentils, beans, and other pulses. 

Looking for other ideas of individual steps you can take to address climate change? Read our recent blog and feel free to contact us with questions.

Happy Earth Day!

Warmly, 
The C-Change Conversations Team

Katy Kinsolving
Co-Founder, C-Change Conversations

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