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Juliana V. United States – The Fight Against Climate Change: Case Dismissed

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According to plaintiffs in the Juliana versus the United States lawsuit, the rights of young people were violated by the government – how? Because, as per the plaintiffs (and many, many others), there is a right to a climate that is safe. inaction is unacceptable, as is contributing to climate change and environmental concerns. But what was the outcome of this climate change-focused case? 

Let’s start with a quick background. 

The plaintiffs demanded that the government do its part to protect today’s children (and future generations) from damage resulting from inaction against climate change. The plaintiffs believe federal government acts have been perceptively causing harm to the climate system.  

The judges on the panel involved in this case, held in Portland, included Andrew D. Hurwitz of the Ninth Circuit Court of AppealsJosephine L. Staton of District Court for the Central District of California, and Mary H. Murguia of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  

Climate Change Inaction: Where Does Responsibility Fall? 

Unfortunately, the case has been dismissed. In a 2 to 1 ruling by a panel of three judges in the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the lawsuit was dismissed just a few days ago as of this writing. The case, centered around climate change, involved 21 young persons who made the decision to sue the federal government because they believe they are being denied the right to a safe climate, due to inaction against climate change.  

Those fighting to raise awareness for climate change feel this is a huge blow, and that it demonstrates irresponsibility on behalf of the courts and the government.  

But what do the judges think? Are they concerned about climate change? The short answer is yes, they agree that climate change is in fact a threatening, urgent concern. 

However, they believe the plaintiffs did not have standing to sue (note that the plaintiffs were, at the time the lawsuit was filed, as young as 8 years old). The judges claimed the climate change policies need to come from the legislative branch. So, the climate change-centered case needs to be made to the electorate at large or the political branches.  

Circuit Court Judge Andrew Hurwitz acknowledged that climate change risks are increasing and that the ones who are going to suffer the most devastating impacts are young people.  

A senior attorney at the nonprofit backing the youth involved in this lawsuit (Our Children’s Trust), Andrea Rodgers, disagreed with the outcome and her organization has promised to appeal the decision 

More Climate Change Lawsuits Are Coming 

There are other climate change lawsuits making their way through United States courts – Juliana vs. US is just one of them. People are standing up to the fact that politicians are not delivering sufficient climate change policies. Courtrooms are becoming a place to talk about needing to control emissions. There have been suits filed against companies regarding climate change – for instance, Exxon. But the Juliana case is different in the sense that rather than going after fossil fuel companies, it challenged the federal government for inaction against climate change. 

This suit was able to get somewhat far, all things considered. It went through numerous motions to dismiss as well as intervention by the US Supreme Court. To fight climate change, the plaintiffs wanted a government plan to be put together in order to discontinue the use of fossil fuels. According to Hurwitz, unfortunately, this relief was not something within their constitutional power.  

Josephine Staton, , made an interesting comparison. She compared crushing this climate change suit to basically shutting down defenses if an asteroid were to come barreling toward our planet.  

Juliana v. the United States became a high profile climate change lawsuit – as a matter of fact, it has been the most influential lawsuit filed by Our Children’s Trust. Other climate change civil rights lawsuits have been filed by this same group in state courts. 

Climate Change Inaction BattleWhat’s Next? 

More complaints and suits fighting inaction against climate change are being filed. A human rights claim was filed by indigenous tribes in Louisiana at the United Nations. Their argument is that through the US government’s contributions to climate change, their rights have been violated as their lands are being eroded and destroyed.  

might have been dismissed, but this won’t be the last time climate change is discussed in court.  

Sources: 

https://www.vox.com/2020/1/17/21070810/climate-change-lawsuit-juliana-vs-us-our-childrens-trust-9th-circuit 

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/appeals-court-dismisses-kids-climate-case-180974026/ 

 

 

Climate Change Man-Made and Worsening, New Study Finds

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A recent study published in Nature points to man-made influences as being major contributors to worsening . So much so, in fact, that everyday weather patterns can now be linked to climate change. Although there has been plenty of debate over just how much mankind has accelerated climate change, this new study reveals that rising global temperatures are now distinguishable from natural variability. Meaning, there is a human component to climate change and both short- and long-term weather patterns prove it. 

Earth’s Constant Climate Change 

If you have done your research on climate change, you already know that Earth’s weather patterns and climate cycles have always been in a constant state of flux. According to NASA, in the last 650,000 years, there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat. Even carbon dioxide levels have undergone dramatic shifts over the last 800,000 years.  

Earth has never remained in a stagnant state. Climate change has, in some form or another, always existed. A lot of the climate change patterns we are witnessing today are nothing new. The problem is, these changes have occurred at a rapid pace and at such an intensity that there is too much evidence to ignore that man-made climate change is no longer a question of if, but how much. Mankind has aggravated Earth’s natural climate cycles and we finally have scientific data to prove it.  

Today, carbon dioxide levels exceed 400 parts per million, far surpassing levels seen in the 1950s which hovered around 300 parts per million. Additionally, global temperatures have risen by over 1.6 degrees since the 19th century. 2016 was also the hottest year on record to date. 

: “Almost Entirely Human” 

Climate change can not only be seen in the statistics, but researchers are also now saying that climate change can be seen in daily weather patterns. The weather and climate change are now so intrinsically linked that researchers are claiming that the long-term climate trend in global average temperatures can be predicted if you know a single day’s weather information worldwide. 

Essentially, weather has always differed from climate. Weather describes a state of the atmosphere, such as hot, cold, wet, or dry. Whereas climate refers to the weather conditions persistent in a certain area over a long period of time. According to new research, this is no longer true on a global scale. 

Reto Knutti of ETH Zurich, one of the leading researchers on the study in Nature, and his team came to these conclusions by identifying long-term changes in global temperatures. Using machine learning, researchers sought to estimate how temperature patterns and moisture levels on daily, weekly, and yearly timelines compare to two metrics: global average surface temperatures and imbalances on Earth, which are caused by greenhouse gases. 

Through these means, Knutti and his team found that the relationships between these factors points to human-caused climate change. Knutti spoke to the Washington Post stating that “we know from many other studies that the warming in the last 40 years is almost entirely human.” 

Hope for the Future? 

In regard to the study, expert on climate change, Michael Wehner from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, noted that the results are “profoundly disturbing” and that “Earth is on track for significantly more warming in even the most optimistic future scenarios.” 

These findings may come to some as no surprise, but they are nevertheless difficult to digest. Hearing some of the most brilliant scientists from around the world recite dismal sentiments about the future does little to inspire hope. In fact, you will be hard-pressed to find any climate change scientists that don’t link global warming and other events to mankind. 

According to NASA’s statistics, 97% of climate scientists agree that climate change and global warming trends over the last century are more than likely due to human activities.  

The good news is, if mankind is the problem, it means we are also the solution. If we created climate change, it means we can heal it. Unless the global collective of humanity can take full accountability, however, we won’t get very far. 

Resources: 

NASA 

Washington Post 

A Freshwater Solar Project for Montcalm County

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A recent meeting of the Montcalm Economic Alliance saw representatives from a utility-scale developer based in Brooklyn, known as , discussing a “” project proposal. This would entail a large-scale solar farm opening in .   

Freshwater Solar Project 

and , Developers at Ranger Power, went over a concept that would entail 1,200 acres of rural farmland being transformed into a . This farm would be located in northeastern Montcalm Country and would generate roughly 200 MW of energy. According to Vielbig, the freshwater solar project has thus far been well received.  

This past summer, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order that, by changing tax policy, opened more than three million acres of farmland for solar energy development. This clean energy-friendly choice was actually a reversal from a previous decision, which had allowed for cell phone towers and wind turbines to be placed on land; however, if commercial solar leases were desired, farmers would have to end their contracts with the state, which would risk costing thousands.  

Commercial Solar Farms Mean New Income Streams 

Gov. Whitmer’s clean energy-friendly policy is anticipated to create a new income stream for farmers. Ranger Power would like its third commercial-scale solar farm in  to be installed on the property of farmers in Montcalm County. The other commercial solar farm projects are in Shiawassee County (construction began in January on the $250 million “Assembly Solar” project – it should generate enough electricity for roughly 35,000 houses) and Calhoun County. The River Fork Solar project is yet another endeavor in Shiawassee County that will see 750 acres of land covered in solar panels.  

As for Montcalm County’s Freshwater Solar project, land will continue to be secured this year. Construction is expected to start early in 2021, and the farm could be operating by the end of that year.  

Here is some more great news – the local economy would see 300 construction jobs with up to $12 million in estimated earnings. The Ranger Power projects could end up creating 1,000 construction worker jobs throughout the state of Michigan. Wow!  

Once it is finished, the Freshwater Solar farm is estimated to last up to four decades — and it could generate more than $20 million in tax revenue during its operation. 

The solar farm will consist of economical solar technology, such as photovoltaic panel tracking systems.  

When the company was looking for a site for its third solar energy farm in Michigan, according to Harris, rural, flat land was important, along with an interconnection to a utility company. The site discovered is, of course, surrounded by farmland.  

Renewable energy has become a major focus of utility companies such as DTE and 

over the years, specifically through new integrated resource plans. In accordance with recent renewable energy standard updates in Michigan, a specific amount of electricity sold by utilities must come from renewable energy, such as solar power. The number for next year, 2021, is 15 percent. By 2025, this number will rise to 35 percent.  

Consumers Energy is forecasted to go above 15 percent, as the company is very interested in solar. In accordance with Harrislarge-scale solar project costs have come down significantly over the last few years – 80 percent – as a result of advanced tools, higher-efficiency solar cells, and resourceful construction methods. 

Harris also discussed how fossil fuel plants that have been used for decades are going to be coming offline soon, so solar energy is becoming even more popular. 

Harris and Vielbig emphasized that there would not be an environmental impact, as some voiced concerns about this potential fear. Quite the contrary, the solar farms are going to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and therefore improve air quality; and they will release no air emissions, ash generation or water emissions. Harris believes that the solar project is a great way to preserve agriculture.  

Clearly, there are an abundance of benefits to these solar farm projects and they should continue to become more feasible. Follow solar news to stay in the know!  

Sources: 

https://thedailynews.cc/articles/project-freshwater-solar/ 

https://thedailynews.cc/articles/wind-farms-knocking-on-montcalm-countys-door/ 

 

Netflix’s New Headquarters Powered by Envelope Solar Panels

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2020 is already proving to be a big year for . In the past decade, we have seen solar panels on rooftops, carports, windows, and organized en masse as solar farms around the world. Now, solar panels are being incorporated into the very structure of newer commercial buildings.  

These building-wrapping solar panels are referred to as ‘.’ One particular building in Los Angeles, appropriately named EPIC, is the first of its kind in the area to implement these innovative solar panels. 

The EPIC building is comprised of 13 stories and by late spring, will house one of the world’s most popular streaming services – Netflix. This otherworldly office building will also include other advanced technologies, including electric car charging stations and mailroom drones.  

Building Integrated Photovoltaics 

The scientific term for EPIC’s envelope solar panels is ‘building integrated photovoltaics,’ or BIPV for short. Rooftop solar panels, solar shingles, and solar skylights are all included in this technology, along with envelope solar panels, which can replace or cover traditional glass windows 

Envelope solar panels are semi-transparent and hardly noticeable when placed over windows. They can even be retrofitted to cover a building’s exterior.  

EPIC was designed by Gensler, in conjunction with developers at Hudson Pacific Properties. The envelope solar panels face the south and east sides of the building, where the most sun exposure can be found. Crystalline solar panels comprise the envelope solar panels. They are hung vertically, connected together by electrical conduits and wires that carry gathered electricity to rooms throughout the building. 

What Makes EPIC Different 

Chris Barton, Executive Vice President of Development for Hudson Pacific Properties, has stated that the initial goals of EPIC were to make it “superior to other buildings in the market – and to make it one of the more energy efficient properties in the market.”  

In line with these goals, EPIC has also been outfitted with special lighting controls and an energy efficient plumbing system in addition to the envelope solar panels. Barton encourages business owners to consider envelope solar panels, despite the initial costs for installation and upkeep. In his perspective, financial incentives should not be the main focus of this kind of pursuit.  Business owners need to see it as, “being forward-thinking, environmentally conscious, and mindful about how they’re building.” 

Using Architectural Design to Increase Solar Access 

Architects and interior designers have been putting their skills to the test by finding ways to integrate solar power into everyday objectsSolar blinds, solar-powered desks, and even solar roadways have been marketed in the last few years. As the solar and renewable energy fields have expanded, so have architectural innovations.  

Instead of solar power being an afterthought, it can now be incorporated right into building design from the start. However, the biggest obstacle to implementing solar-based architecture is the initial cost. Until more homeowners and commercial building owners embrace solar power, prices will continue to remain high. 

Now that big names like Netflix are fully committing to envelope solar panels and other renewable energies, there is a good chance that other businesses will follow suit and pursue similar actions. 

Renewable Energy: What to Expect in 2020 

Based on the latest statistics released by the Solar Energy Industries Association, enough solar power has been installed across the United States to power 13.5 million homes.  

Nearly every quarter in 2019 showed substantial growth in solar integration and market production. Quarter 3 of 2019 was particularly remarkable, with solar energy accounting for nearly 40% of all new electricity-generating capacity.  

California, the state with the largest residential market for solar, broke quarterly records in 2019. The Golden State also continues to hold its position as one of the top solar states in the country.  

New homes built in California in 2020 will require solar panel installation before hitting the market. This is great news for solar advocates and the American population in general. As this new policy is acted upon, we will likely see a positive shift in public perception of residential solar access and implementation. 

Resources: 

https://www.buildings.com/news/industry-news/articleid/22169/title/solar-panels-power-netflix-office 

https://www.seia.org/us-solar-market-insight 

Australia is Burning – Is Climate Change to Blame?

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is facing major destruction. The events that have been happening recently are absolutely devastating. This affluent country is home to millions of people who have long enjoyed its natural beauty. It has been a major seller of coal, and has exported fiber, food, and minerals to Asia. It has seen plenty of growth over the years. But now, climate change destruction is undeniably happening.  

Surely you have seen information on the recent, horrific that are burning this otherwise beautiful place. Millions of acres have burned because of southeast Australia’s brush fires. It has impacted the air in Melbourne and Sydney, forcing many to evacuate. Fires are bombarding the country – did you know that in six months alone, the fires have burned over twice of what was consumed by both the 2018 California fires and 2019 Amazon fires? The damage which can be linked directly to climate change, according to many, has been horrific. Earth’s ecosystems have been battered, as well.  

Climate Change is Leading to Irreversible Damage 

How is it all connected to climate change? Consider the Great Barrier Reef and the fact that in two years, from 2016 to 2018, half of the coral was killed as a result of oceanic heatwaves. These waves ultimately led to the starvation of animals. It can take roughly a decade for coral reefs to recover from this degree of damage. Climate change is occurring quickly, and this can essentially guarantee that more heatwaves will be coming soon. Global warming has to be stopped for the reef to survive long term. Climate change damage must be stopped to prevent irreversible damage.  

What can we do to save places like Australia in the wake of climate change? Can climate change be stopped or halted? There are steps that can be taken when it comes to global – nations can stop focusing so much on coal-burning and begin to think outside the box. Australia is the second biggest coal power exporter on the planet. This is a concern when it comes to climate change. 

Australia is Worried About Climate Change 

Polls show that the majority of Australians are worried about climate change. However, the government has not been able to pass much in terms of climate change policy.  

In terms of a recent political crisis, Prime Minister tried to pass an energy bill that had climate change policy included in it. This ended up prompting him being overthrown. Scott Morrison, the current prime minister, brought something unexpected with him to the floor of Parliament – a lump of coal. He did this in defense of the industry and won an election when he depicted climate change as a worry, if you will, limited to refined city residents. He made climate change policy out to be a threat to cars and trucks for Australians. He focuses on conveying the wildfires as events in line with preceding disasters, somewhat dissolving the link to climate change.  

But Australia’s wildfires are unprecedented. More than 20 people have been killed and more than a thousand homes have been burned as of this writing.    

Climate change is surely intensifying the continuing epidemic – drier and hotter weather leads to problems such as wildfires being more common. Did you know last year was Australia’s hottest and driest year on record? Clearly, there is a problem that needs to be addressed.  

Australia is being threatened and damaged because of climate change, perhaps even more so than other wealthy nations. Historic drought has occurred for much of the 21st century and climate change is threatening its oceans. Rising seas are threatening major cities, again due to climate change.  

Will pro-carbon members of Australia’s Parliament now comply with climate change action? Or will Australia continue to burn? Will climate change be viewed or addressed differently now? Perhaps politics will be pushed in a different direction. Australia is choking and it is devastating to watch. Hopefully what can be controlled, although it might seem minimal at the moment, will be controlled. Continue to follow climate change news to stay on top of what is going on across the globe. 

Sources: 

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2020/01/australia-caught-climate-spiral/604423/ 

https://abcnews.go.com/International/climate-change-supercharge-wildfires-australia-extreme-heat-drought/story?id=68096029