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2020 Climate Change Predictions  

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As we enter a new year and reflect on the last decade, it is clear that was one of the most widely debated topics around the world during the 2010s. Of all the regions hit hardest by the impacts of climate change in the United States, California is the unfortunate frontrunner. From increasing temperatures and wildfires, to droughts and dam breaks, these extreme conditions may only be the beginning signs of what is yet to come in 2020 and beyond. 

2010-2019: California’s Most Notable Weather Events  

Five of the 10 largest and most destructive fires in California’s history occurred after 2010. The state also experienced its driest year on record since 1895. Additionally, the Sierra snowpack, which provides more than one-third of the state’s freshwater supply, reached its lowest level in nearly 500 years. 

Even though wildfires and other natural disasters have been a part of California’s history for centuries, they are worsening and causing more destruction each year. The state has already experienced the effects of , with the state having warmed by nearly 3 degrees as a whole compared to 100 years ago, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  

Environmental scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, A. Park Williams, told the LA Times that the warming that California is experiencing as a result of climate change could account for up to 15% of the drought’s severity.  

Williams and his team have been studying the effects of climate change in California since the drought began to worsen at the beginning of the decade. According to Williams, the drought, fires, and storms that California has been experiencing would have inevitably come to pass – climate change or not. However, climate change and global warming act as a steroid of sorts, escalating and intensifying the natural weather patterns that already exist in the region. 

A Generation Born into Climate Change 

Of the generations most concerned about climate change, Generation Z is at the forefront. According to a Future of Humanity survey conducted by Amnesty International, out of 10,000 surveyed adults ranging from 18 to 25 from 22 countries, 41% say that global warming and climate change is the most important issue facing the world today. 

Scores of climate change advocates worldwide are pushing national governments to view the implementation of effective climate change policies as part of basic, fundamental human rights. Those such as Karin Watson, human rights educator and activist in Chile, believe that the environmental crisis we are experiencing is ultimately linked to a social crisis.  

Ultimately, unless we can work intergenerationally to fight climate change, bringing together all persons and governments to join the right side of the fight, we are headed towards further destruction. 

Climate Change Predictions for the Coming Decade 

By 2100, it is predicted that California’s average temperature could rise anywhere from 5.6 to 8.8 degrees higher than it was in the early 1900s. The severity of this increase will be determined by our ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as how we continue to respond and adapt to climate change in the coming decades. 

Along with rising temperatures as a result of climate change, scientists also predict that changing precipitation levels, melting snow and ice, rising sea levels, acidic ocean water, changing ocean currents, and increases in severe weather worldwide are sure to be seen.  

The University Corporations for Atmospheric Research stated in a release that there are several tipping points, or changes in climate, that indicate large, abrupt changes that cannot be readily stopped or managed, even with drastic measures. These possible tipping points include the collapse of major ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, disruption to the ocean’s circulation processes that govern heat and freshwater fluxes, sudden releases of methane, and CO2 saturation in Earth’s oceans. 

Although climate change anxiety is becoming more common, it is important to focus on problem-solving modalities, rather than succumb to fear. Humankind has suffered and overcome earth-altering events before. Now with advanced climate change tracking and other technologies, we are more equipped than ever before to tackle climate change and halt its worldwide impacts before it is too late. 

Resources: 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/emanuelabarbiroglio/2019/12/09/generation-z-fears-climate-change-more-than-anything-else/

https://www.latimes.com/environment/story/2019-12-26/california-decade-extreme-weather-climate-change-anxiety 

https://scied.ucar.edu/longcontent/predictions-future-global-climate 

A Historic District’s Solar Transformation

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 decided to have 16 installed on the roof of her carport, something her husband did not know about until he came home one day and discovered a trench between the house and carport. Apparently, he referred to the  modification as a gift that will keep giving.  

Back in March, Stahl started her search for a company that would be able to build this solar system. Her Certificate of Appropriateness was approved the following month to install the panels in a historic district.  

Last year, Stahl purchased a Tesla EV and would charge the all-electric vehicle in her carport. She wanted to take things a step further and charge it using the sun – she wanted to go solar. 

Tesla does install solar systems, but not in the area she needed, so she found Alder Systems based in Charleston, South Carolina. Alder installed the panels as well as a monitor that shares how said panels are doing in terms of energy collection.  

 is going to set up a new meter, too. The solar system just needs final approval from the city of and Power. Now, on bright days when the sun is out, they would be absorbing if turned on, as per Stahl.  

Making Solar Work in a Historic District 

Stahl’s residential solar system is unusual for Augusta. Why? Being a historic district, preservation groups can look down on such panels which could modify views. In Stahl’s case, the solar panels are on a rear-facing roof, so there is less if any concern.  

Senior planner with Augusta Planning and Development Department, has gone through proposals for solar farms for Augusta, but over the last three years had not seen a residential solar application.  

Georgia Power offers flat-rate billing, something Stahl wants to take her family off of – it bills an annual average every month, but Stahl’s bill will drop significantly once her clean energy-focused system is live.  

Solar Savings 

Here’s how things will look when she starts to use her solar power – in 2018 she used almost 13,800 paid kilowatt-hours. The value of this is just under $760. But the paid use is going to decrease to just over 7,850 kilowatt-hours, which translates to just over $325.  

Stahl paid roughly $19,780 for her solar system because of a tax credit – had she been in SC, she would have received additional credits.  

Under Georgia’s net metering, it will take up to 15 years for the solar system to pay for itself, as per the director of residential solar for Alder, Benny Mosiman. Georgia’s net metering lowers billed usage in accordance with solar production.  

Net metering in Georgia, rather than being dollar for dollar, reimburses customers less for solar than they would have spent per kilowatt-hour. But just recently, a change was approved by the Georgia Public Service Commission regarding its solar rate structure, which will enable the first 5,000 customers to receive a credit for slightly more for their solar production, as per Mosiman. A new net metering rate schedule is going to start this year, in 2020.  

Solar-friendly homes can see their value increase on average by 3 percent.  

Of course, in California, new homes are going to be required to have solar panels in 2020. And like California, southern states have promising weather conditions for solar power. While Georgia is ahead of the game when it comes to large-scale solar (for instance, solar panel farms), it has work to do when it comes to small scale projects (such as residential).    

Stahl hopes others will be encouraged to take advantage of clean energy in , Augusta.  Knowing it saves money in the long run is yet another perk to switching to solar power. Keep following solar news because there are always interesting changes being made across the globe – even in historic places!  

Sources: 

https://www.augustachronicle.com/news/20191228/woman-bringing-household-solar-to-augusta-historic-district 

https://www.augustachronicle.com/news/20191225/future-sunnier-for-ga-rooftop-solar 

Solar-Powered Apartments in Utah Now Available to Rent

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A new -powered complex in Herriman, Utah is gaining attention in the solar community. Located about 25 miles from Salt Lake City, the Soleil Lofts consist of 600 units, all operating on solar power. According to its founders, the complex is a testing ground for new technology that manages and stores excess solar energy. 

Rocky Mountain Power and Wasatch Group teamed up with Wasatch Premier communities and other partners to make the a reality. If their final plans for the Soleil Lofts come into fruition, residents can expect 75% of their energy usage to come directly from solar power.  

Utah’s Pollution Problem 

One major incentive for the construction of the Soleil Lofts stems from Utah’s inversion problem. During the wintertime, residents in the Salt Lake City valley have come to expect a thick, massive cloud of dark pollution to hibernate above the city like an immovable, brown bear.  

40% of the unsightly smog found in the valley every year can be blamed on both home and building pollution. The Soleil Lofts are an attempt to help clear Salt Lake City’s hazy skies and mitigate the high pollution statistics.  

Soleil Lofts: The Details 

 William Comeau, Director of Customer Innovations at Rocky Mountain Power, stated that their battery grid management system for the Soleil Lofts acts as a “virtual power plant.” Every apartment has a battery that stores excess solar energy to be used later for outages.  

While this particular solar technique is not unique, Rocky Mountain Power goes a step further by gathering the solar power from the batteries and redistributing it back to the grid during peak energy hours. This process also helps keep the solar grid stable. 

The batteries store nearly 20-kilowatts of energy and last four to five times longer than traditional non-utility scale batteries. Compared to natural gas and electric utility bills, residents at the Soleil Lofts can expect lower monthly payments.  

Residents first moved into the lofts this past September. A final building is set to be completed by December 2020. Although the overall building cost for the solar lofts is unknown, apartments.com has studio apartments listed at just over $1,000 a month and three-bedroom apartments for just under $2,000 a month.  

More Good News for Utah 

Just this past Monday on December 23rd, two Utah cities committed to 100% net-renewable energy use by 2030Coalville and West Valley City now join 18 other cities to make the same pledge, bringing the total to 20 cities. The Community Renewable Energy Act, also known as H.B. 411, was established to help Utah cities move towards this collective energy goal. 

H.B. 411 helps establish a legal framework for cities working towards implementing solar and renewable technologies. Under the act, participating cities will run 100% off solar and other clean energy resources by 2030. California and Hawaii have made similar commitments, only these regions have committed to 100 % renewable resources statewide by 2045. 

Paving the Way for Solar Integration 

Constructing solar-powered apartments is great news for Utahns – and even better news for the region’s air quality. Comeau stated that he believes these solar apartments are the “direction of the future.”  

Comeau is correct. The solar lofts recently won the 2019 Project of the Year from Utility Dive, a news organization that recognizes innovation in the solar and renewable energy realms. Editor-in-chief of Utility Dive stated that, “the people and organizations that win the Dive Awards are trailblazers and leaders in their markets. Their achievements in 2019 are shaping the future of where the latest strategies and trends are going. 

As this year comes to a close, Utah has a lot to look forward to in 2020 regarding solar and renewable energy projects. By 2030, solar lofts and other solar-powered residences are sure to be the norm.  

Take a look at the lofts on their website here: https://www.soleilloftsisyourhome.com/soleil-lofts-herriman-ut/ 

Resources: 

https://www.ksl.com/article/46693523/all-electric-community-in-herriman-becomes-testing-ground-for-new-solar-tech-solution 

https://www.kuer.org/post/20-utah-communities-commit-100-renewable-energy-goals

https://www.sltrib.com/news/environment/2019/08/27/all-electric-home/ 

Andrew Yang Answers Tough Climate Change Question

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Source: https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2017/04/23/19/17/climate-change-2254711_960_720.jpg

A hot topic amongst the Democratic contenders for president for 2020 is, of course, Persons such as , an environmental activist on climate change, have become household names. Protests and climate change strikes are making the news on a regular basis. Clearly, climate change is one hot topic, but what plans do presidential candidates have for the future? What will they do about climate change? 

Climate Change Challenge: Where to Live 

Some of the climate change plans discussed have been incredibly detailed, outlining ways to switch to clean and how to/where to invest in different technology while making sure those who might lose their work in the fossil fuel industry are not left behind. But there is one particular challenge relevant to climate change that some are unwilling to tackle – the fact that people are being displaced due to climate change related events such as wildfires and severe flooding. Of course, relocating people is expensive, but when it comes to the harsh reality of climate change, it is becoming deemed a necessity.  

moderator at the December and chief political correspondent at Politico, asked about climate change related relocation. He mentioned that scientists claim that even if there is carbon footprint reduction all the way to zero in the United States by 2050, damage will have already occurred. Places in America will become unlivable because of climate change. Alberta asked if candidates would back a new federal program to fund relocating American families so they could get away from areas that might become unlivable. Some dodged the question, if you will, such as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who mentioned that the issue is if we are going to save the planet for our children and their future children.  

: Tackling Climate Change Destruction 

One candidate decided to tackle this climate change question head on. Andrew Yang stated that it was obvious we should relocate Americans away from places impacted by climate change. He discussed that this was already being done and that part of his plan calls to move people to higher ground. Yang’s climate change plan calls for billions in loans, grants and subsidies – $40 billion, to be precise – to relocate those in areas most vulnerable to climate change.  

Some are calling Yang’s approach “bleak” as it implies he has accepted that climate change is happening and that we have to deal with its impact. On the other hand, some are more focused on climate change action having optimistic possibilities.  

It is important to think about the fact that wildfires and coastal flooding are, unfortunately, things that are happening, so we need homes and businesses away from vulnerable areas.  

Take Louisiana and the area of Isle de Jean Charles – people have been forced to move away because of the rising sea level. While the government has been helping, there doesn’t seem to be much in place of a synchronized practical strategy – rather, the aid is more in the form of emergency provisions.  

Having plans in place does not mean that there should be less of an effort to fight climate change. We can still work together to take action against climate change in the form of cutting greenhouse gas emissions and taking steps to “go green.”   

A huge portion of the population in the United States is in a coastal county – 40 percent, to be exact. This would mean that sea-level rise resulting from climate change would impact millions of people. Lives and jobs will face serious changes due to wildfires, heatwaves, and drought. The next president will have to consider whether or not people should be relocated or if they should rebuild.  

It is a given that telling people where they can and can’t live is a major challenge, but it is something that must be addressed by candidates as Americans will be looking to them for guidance.  

According to some, Andrew Yang gave the only honest and realistic answer regarding climate change. Regardless of one’s stance, it is frightening to think about the damage already occurring across the United States. Keep following climate change news to stay in the know.  

Sources:  

https://time.com/5753060/debate-live-updates/ 

https://www.vox.com/2019/12/20/21030970/democratic-debate-andrew-yang-climate-change 

 

 

The 2019 UN Climate Conference Was an Unproductive Disappointment  

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The 2019 United Nations convention, also referred to as , wrapped up this past weekend in Madrid. Although the meeting was the longestrunning conference in its history, little was accomplished. The purpose of the climate change conference was to gather world leaders together to discuss various regulations to help nations stay on track with the commitments laid out in the 2015 Paris Agreement. Rather than moving forward in this way, the climate change conference highlighted deep divisions between larger nations and smaller, more vulnerable ones 

Considering surface appearances, the final declaration to wrap-up the climate change conference was positive. It was agreed that there is an urgent need to cut greenhouse gases if Paris Agreement goals are to be met. However, many world leaders and climate change activists found themselves outspokenly disappointed with the end result of the convention. 

António Guterres, Secretary-General for the United Nations, had this to say on his twitter account following the conference: 

The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation & finance to tackle the climate crisis. But we must not give up, and I will not give up. I am more determined than ever to work for 2020 to be the year in which all countries commit to do what science tells us is necessary to reach carbon neutrality in 2050 and a no more than 1.5 degree temperature rise.” 

Vice President of Climate and Economics at the World Resources Institute, Helen Mountford, stated that the “negotiations fell far short of expectations.” She hoped that some of the larger carbon-emitting countries would lead the way for more ambitious goals to fight climate change. Much to the dismay of Mountford and other leaders, it appeared that most larger nations were apathetic and disconnected from the urgency of the climate change situation. 

Extinction Rebellion’s Embarrassing Tactics Escalate 

Climate change activists and protestors were present outside the climate change summit proceedings in Madrid. Most notably, activists from the movement Extinction Rebellion made their presence known in their typical disruptive and immature fashion. Just this past April, Extinction Rebellion activists in London glued themselves to trains, as well as entrances to the London Stock Exchange during one of their protests.  

This time? Extinction Rebellion activists in Madrid dumped piles of horse manure in the streets outside the meeting venue, claiming that the “horse **** stops here,” as a message to political leaders present at the summit.  

Although there is no excuse for world leaders to continue to fund industries that contribute negatively to climate change, it is questionable whether or not Extinction Rebellion and other groups are doing anything meaningful enough to alter climate change for the better. To block city streets with horse manure seems both counterproductive, and frankly, silly. 

The UN’s Latest Report on Climate Change 

All excrement aside, according to a new report released by the UN, it was declared that the “commitment gap between what we say we will do and what we need to do to prevent dangerous levels of climate change,” must be closed. Emission projections are making the goal of reducing to 1.5°C appear increasingly unattainable. The report predicts that we are now “on the brink” of missing our opportunity to limit global warming, as temperatures have already increased by nearly 1.1°C.  

Ten years ago, an emissions reduction of only 3.3% would have made global warming reduction goals achievable. A decade later, the reduction target has more than doubled to 7.6%. By 2025, it is predicted that this number will reach 15.4%, making it nearly impossible for our world to achieve anything less than a 1.5°C increase. 

What is Next for Climate Change? 

Whether you look at data from the UN, or to the protesters in the streets, it is clear that climate change is getting worse. And not just for our planet – but our emotional and social lives. One side of the spectrum is compelled to do nothing by way of willful ignorance, while another is irrationally emotional enough to block city streets with animal waste. Until appropriate action can be taken by the entirety of society, we are sure to witness more disappointing summit outcomes in the future. 

Read the latest UN report on climate change here: https://www.unenvironment.org/interactive/emissions-gap-report/2019/ 

Resource: 

https://www.npr.org/2019/12/15/788241846/u-n-climate-summit-goes-to-extra-time-but-ends-with-major-questions-unresolved