Ukraine is a vast and beautiful landscape of arable land, rich in soil nutrients. It is home to an abundance of natural resources buried deep beneath the surface. Ukraine is ranked 4th in the world for highest total dollar value of natural resources, and has 25% of the world’s black soil, which is considered the most fertile soil type. Not only does black soil generate high agricultural yields, it sequesters the most carbon. Russia, on the other hand, has one lone major industry. Fossil fuels.
“Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country.” John McCain
Putin’s horrific slaughter of innocent civilians in this unjust and inhumane war against neighboring Ukraine is an apparent attempt to confiscate Ukraine’s wealth of natural resources, while nations across the globe are racing to transition away from fossil fuels to clean energy.
Ukraine feeds 600 million people each year, most of whom reside in Northern Africa, Southern Asia and China. Ukraine is the world’s largest exporter of sunflower seeds and sunflower oil. It is the number one producer of honey in Europe with approximately 700,000 employed in the honey industry. Ukraine is ranked number 2 in the world for the production of barley, and 3rd in the world for the farming of corn. Ukraine made the list for rye production as well, 5th largest producer in the world, 9th for chicken eggs, and 4th in the world for potatoes.
But Ukraine’s threatened wheat production and export is what is causing so much alarm through Tunisia, Yemen, and Lebanon, and a list of other countries, as the price of bread skyrockets, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Food insecurity creates conflicts between nations as hungry people fight to survive. At COP26, Vijay Prashad, an Indian historian and former professor, eviscerated the West, decrying our indifference to the 2.7 billion people across the globe who were already facing daily food insecurity due to climate change. In the US Army’s Climate Strategy (ACS), it acknowledged that armed conflicts will arise when communities have reduced access to basic necessities, and are undermined by economic and social instability.
The US Geological Survey (USGS) has deemed lithium a “critical mineral resource.” It is one of the key components used in the lithium-ion batteries needed to manufacture EVs. The demand for lithium is expected to leap 130% by 2025 from its 2020 level. Ukraine is sitting on a staggering 500,000 tons of untapped lithium reserves, which is considered one of largest stashes in the world.
Ukraine is home to 30 billion tons of commercial grade iron ore, the largest reserves in the world, and one-fifth of the global supply. Iron ore, along with manganese, is used to manufacture steel. Ukraine is ranked number 2 on the list of countries that have explored reserves of manganese ore. Ukraine is the 3rd largest exporter of iron ore and the 11thlargest exporter of steel.
Ukraine’s additional vital resources:
The updated IPCC Report was released on February 28, 2022, four days after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine. The report sounded another dire warning, that we must act immediately to reduce carbon emissions by transitioning to a green global economy. Billions of people around the world are already feeling the pain of a warmer planet. Eliminating fossil fuels from our lives and our culture is a daily call to action. Russia is aware that cities and towns around the world are rushing to cut fossil fuels by transitioning to clean energy. From Russia’s perspective, it seems that every social media post, every news headline, every IPCC Report negatively impacts the strength and stability of Russia’s economic health and wealth.
“This report is a dire warning about the consequences of inaction,” said Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC, appearing in the IPCC Report. “It shows that climate change is a grave and mounting threat to our wellbeing and a healthy planet. Our actions today will shape how people adapt and nature responds to increasing climate risks.”
Deforestation numbers for January 2022 have just been released and reveal that a staggering number of trees were felled in the Amazon rainforest this winter. This, despite it being the rainy season when loggers usually stay away, and despite the fact that 141 world leaders, including Bolsonaro of Brazil, signed the Declaration On Forests and Land Use at COP26 in Glasgow to end and reverse deforestation by 2030.
This record high 166 square miles of leveled rainforest, is significant in size. It’s a little larger than the land mass of Philadelphia. A shocking swath of biodiversity that has been cut out of the Amazon’s dense wilderness in defiance of existing protections. This has set-off alarm bells for environmentalists and NGOs who are enraged that such a tragedy could occur on protected land, especially sections of the pristine, Indigenous areas of Brazil.
Bolsonaro is no friend of the environment. Since becoming President in 2019, he immediately loosened environmental protections, eyeing Brazil’s rich natural resources as a way to boost the Brazilian economy. Bolsonaro’s world view is that nature should be exploited to reduce poverty.
Bolsonaro is not alone in this Anthropocene perspective. American biologist and naturalist E. O. Wilson, the two-time Pulitzer Prize winning author, wrote about the warped Anthropocene perspective in his book Half-Earth. Wilson cited the work of Peter M. Karieva, former Chief Scientist and Vice President of the Nature Conservancy, who advocates that nature preserves should be opened up for profit. That our remaining wilderness should become “working landscapes.” Karieva never entertained the idea that there would be consequences, despite the immense scientific proof warning of the dire and deadly consequences of destroying biodiversity.
According to NOAA, the Amazon rainforest stores an astonishing 123 billion tons of carbon. Amazon deforestation has brought this massive carbon reservoir to a tipping point, where the large treeless areas of the Amazon are now emitting more carbon than they once absorbed. The imbalance of global carbon emissions rising, and the smaller area of the Amazon storing carbon, is partly what’s fueling the climate crisis.
The force driving the record deforestation of the Amazon wilderness is unchecked global consumption. The forest is primarily cleared to grow cash crops, and raise cattle, as well as harvest timber. According to Stacker, the following are the top 20 consumer products from the Amazon rainforest:
Deforestation in the Amazon has skyrocketed in the past twenty years. The leveled 75 million hectares in the Amazon have now destabilized climate across the globe. Several of the products on the list of 20— bananas, cacao/chocolate, Brazil nuts — generally aren’t harvested on deforested land turned into farms. Soy beans and cattle ranching are the primary drivers of deforestation. But much depends on how the farmers grow their crops. Consumers have to demand information about the farming practices. Are they regenerative, organic, all natural? Do the farmers plow and release all the stored carbon in the soil? Do they use pesticides, have cover crops? All these details matter in determining if the land is storing carbon, like it did when it was forested, or if it’s now emitting carbon and destabilizing the world.
Consumer consumption for these common products must be tempered. We have to become experts at refusing the products that weren’t grown following soil health and biodiversity principles and practices. With climate change bearing down on us, several countries have begun to rethink their destructive path to profit, and have discovered a new solution. Eco-tourism. Restoring their wilderness and sharing the wonder of nature with visitors from all over the world.
In one episode of Sir David Attenborough’s Netflix documentary streaming series, Our Planet, the episode entitled Forests, Attenborough explains the heartbreaking tragedy of deforestation. “Worldwide we have destroyed over half of the forests that once flourished on our planet.” He brought viewers through each of the massive iconic forests so we could see all the life and biodiversity and experience the wonder. “Not only are we losing the animals that once lived in them, we’re changing the climate on the entire globe.”
Attenborough highlighted how resilient forests are, and how quickly they can be restored, showcasing the deserted land surrounding Chernobyl within the Exclusion Zone that has been deemed uninhabitable for 20,000 years. And yet, despite this grim fact, a forest has grown on this extensive hazardous waste sight, and biodiversity has flourished despite the radioactive contamination, proof of nature’s resilience.
We can restore what we have destroyed. All that it takes is the political will. The goal is 30×30 as outlined by the UN. Nations have to act now to protect and restore 30% of our terrestrial land, and 30% of our oceans. It all begins with us. Our vote matters. Our shopping choices matter. We each have to commit to doing our part to make a difference.
“A future with more forests is key to the resilience of our planet.”
Washington (GGM) Analysis | May 8, 2022 by Sarah J. Kings
Many eco-conscious consumers are looking to electric vehicles, EVs, to help combat the climate crisis. EV’s are responsible for much lower emissions than their gas-powered counterparts, and they cost less overall to maintain and drive. Still, with starting prices ranging from $29,000 to upwards of $100,000- depending on the make and model- some people may be hesitant to switch to electric as economic concerns grow.
On July 29, 2020 Ford announced the start of the Ford Promise plan. Under this new initiative, any new financed Ford can be returned without penalty to the buyer, if the buyer loses their job within one year of purchase. Ford is the only major automotive company making this type of commitment to its customers. With this added safety net, getting an EV is more in reach for the average consumer than ever.
Instagram – @wasatchfrontford
Ford offers eight hybrid models on its lineup, but the car to look at is the Mustang Mach-E which Consumer Report‘s 2022 top EV pick, replacing Tesla’s Model 3. The Mustang Mach-E is an all-electric vehicle that has 314 miles of range and can get up to 61 miles of range in 10 minutes when charging with a 150kW DC Fast Charger. Ford boasts the inclusion of FordPass for purchasers— this gives owners of Ford EVs, or Hybrids, access to over 13,500 charging stations nationwide.
Instagram – @ford
This all-electric mustang launched in late 2020. The stylish and sexy design, topped with exciting new tech features, has people lining up to pre-order their own. With substantial federal rebates and the Ford Promise’s added security, owning a 2022 Mustang Mach-E is a viable option for those searching for a new EV. Help combat the climate crisis purchase of this cutting-edge car!
In 2002, San Francisco set its sights on becoming the first waste-free city in the United States. Since then, the Golden City has proven itself to be a national waste management role model. Phase 1 of the city’s masterplan was to divert 75% of its waste by 2010, which it artfully achieved two years early. The speed of San Francisco’s success was likely tied to California’s Integrated Waste Management Act of 1989 which mandated that each local jurisdiction in California divert 50% of its waste materials. California fined cities $10,000 per day if they fell below 50% which led to strong compliance.
Once 75% was reached, San Francisco soon had its eye set on 100% diversion, a true circular economy. The city’s rapid positive results were achieved through a series of strong legislative measures:
The three-stream collection program (green bin for kitchen and yard scraps, blue bin for recyclables, and black bin for everything else which should be very little) is mainstream in most communities in Canada as well as many EU countries. If it’s not mainstream where you live, it means we have to work that much harder as individuals to create a three-stream program in our homes since composting is required if we are to stay below 1.5ºC and cut CO2e emissions 50% by 2030.
San Francisco began its journey to become waste free in 2002, 20 years ago. Despite their early start, they still rushed. We have to hurry that much faster since most US communities are very far behind.
For example, Fairfax County, Virginia, has no plan to mandate composting anytime soon, 2024 or 2025 at the earliest. But there are thousands of residents who are very green and want curbside compost pickup. Most of the schools in Fairfax County compost. The county set-up drop-off locations that are full to capacity at the end of each week, which shows how dedicated so many county residents are to green bins. Legislation would speed things up. Since those of us in Fairfax County know the county plans to wait years, and San Francisco has proven that the only thing that works is legislation that mandates composting with very steep fines, we’ll have to lobby to get the board of supervisors to move more quickly. In the meantime, we’ll have to signup for compost collection on our own.
Compost collection services are popping up in most metro areas across the country. If our towns and cities don’t have drop-off locations, and we don’t have a yard to create our own outdoor bins, we can easily signup for compost collection. Composting is an absolute necessity in saving the human species. Not only does composting cut methane, compost added to our soil boosts carbon drawdown. Putting a banana peel in a paper bag and dropping it at a compost drop-off location is not difficult. Composting is very low hanging fruit.
One third of all the food produced becomes waste, much of which in dumped into landfills. As mentioned, this rich organic material turns into methane. Landfills emit 2 billion tons of methane each year. Methane is 80 times stronger than carbon dioxide. Cutting methane from landfills is the quickest and easiest greenhouse gas to eliminate. If you’re not already composting, you can begin today. Just place all kitchen scraps in a brown paper bag and drop-off at town site each weekend. The bags can be stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready to drop-off.
Most community waste comes from unrecyclable plastic. The vast majority of plastic is manufactured from petroleum and is toxic. The global plastic crisis that has killed millions of ocean species, and according to Sir David Attenboroughis responsible for up to one million early deaths per year, generates mountains of microplastics that are now in our food supply (we eat 100 bits of microplastics per meal, which amounts to one credit card a week, 52 credit cards per year). Recent news about nanoplastics found in the air that we breath, especially those who live and work in our cities, is that much more alarming and should motivate us to refuse plastic. Green sustainability companies have spent years inventing plastic-free alternatives for nearly every plastic-packaged product. Bar shampoo is a great example, laundry detergent sheets is another.
We have to be strong and refuse to buy products if there are no non-plastic alternative. Initially, this wasn’t easy for me. But, I soon found that it becomes easier with practice. Three years ago I took my first step at refusing when I refused to buy ketchup because I couldn’t find an alternative brand packaged in glass. Heinz sells ketchup in glass bottles in Canada, but not the US. So, I switched to barbecue sauce, and haven’t looked back. I also refuse to buy organic margarine because it’s only packaged in plastic. Just this past weekend, I added refusing to buy my absolute favorite salad dressing when the manufacturer switched from a glass bottle to plastic. I had to find a new favorite brand.
Reusable containers or bags instead of single-use plastic is another way to reduce waste. Upcycling is fun and creative and is an excellent way to reduce waste as well. Children love upcycling projects where they can create something new from old scraps, especially gifts for family and friends. The goal is to create a circular economy where nothing is ever thrown away.
Many communities in multiple states are beginning to charge households for the amount of black bin trash they have each month. Blue recycle bins are free. But black bin is pay by quantity. “Pay-as-you-thow” (PAYT) is the common nickname cities give their black bin programs, although it’s typically a purple bag that can be purchased in stores, either a 15 gallon size or 30 gallon. Across the country, cities are finding that once households have to pay for the quantity of landfill trash they have, they drastically cut the amount without any hesitation.
San Francisco is a member of various zero waste and climate action coalitions whose members share ideas and brainstorm solutions:
Being part of a coalition of like-mined, green-action individuals and/or organizations is a very effective way to build momentum within a community to transition to a green lifestyle. Churches are often an effective driver of climate action, especially when they connect with the other faiths in town and form a united force.
The vast majority of initiatives that drove quick change in San Francisco were mandatory with painful consequences for anyone who failed to comply. Voting for climate candidates who truly believe that the best time to act on climate was yesterday will be what makes the difference in getting legislation passed.
Today, the IPCC held a press conference when it released its 2022 findings on the climate crisis. The UN Secretary General, António Guterres spoke first, and very passionately stressed the urgency of action. “Now is the time to turn rage into action. Every fraction of a degree matters. Every voice can make a difference. And every second counts.”
All of us who care must be the voices in our communities that drive our leaders to act immediately and pass the much needed green legislation. If San Francisco can do it, we can all do it.
Leonardo DiCaprio announced on Twitter that he was proud to be a new investor in Champagne Telmont. Telmont’s commitment to biodiversity on its land, use of 100% renewable energy, and determination to “radically lower its environmental footprint” were key factors in DiCaprio’s decision to join the 100 year old Champagne House.
Au Nom de la Terre, “In the Name of Mother Nature,” is the essence of Champagne Telmont. Founded in 1912, this fourth-generation house is located in Damery, near Épernay, France, the center of France’s champagne district Northeast of Paris. Telmont has taken a “pioneering, multi-pronged approach” to addressing the harsh climate change realities. Its objectives read like a combination biodiversity restoration strategy and climate action agenda. With less than 4% of vineyards being certified organic, Telmont has an ambitious goal to become 100% organic by 2025, and to assist its partner vineyards to reach a complete transition to organic by 2031.
But that’s not all. Telmont is already using 100% clean energy. It will forgo air freight for its distribution as well as its supply. It will choose transporters based on their CSR score (Corporate Social Responsibility). No more clear glass bottles made from 0% recycled glass. Instead only classic green champagne bottles which are manufactured using 85%recycled glass. Product labeling has become a very big deal on the climate front. Telmont’s bottles will each be numbered individually and will feature “the detailed composition and production methods of the wine inside.”
“Leonardo DiCaprio’s decision to become a shareholder sends Telmont a strong message of support that will encourage us as we carry out our ambitious plans. We share the same convictions and the same commitment to protecting the environment. The House has one foot in tradition and the other in modernity, but both firmly rooted in the terroir! We aim to act in the name of Mother Nature in everything we do,” said Ludovic du Plessis, Chairman & Shareholder of Champagne Telmont.
DeCipario’s track record as an environmentalist is heavy in action. Additionally, his deep knowledge about how to conserve and restore biodiversity, improve soil health to maintain strong yields while eliminating all pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers, as well as executing a noble and ambitious agenda during challenging climate conditions, will make DiCaprio a valuable addition to the Telmont board of directors.
One of the pages of the Leonardo DeCaprio Foundation reads: “Farming for carbon: why farmers are key to fighting climate change.” The 2020 award-winning documentary Kiss the Ground highlighted how the linchpin to carbon drawdown through farmers and agriculture is tied to improving soil health through regenerative ag practices.
In September 2014, DiCaprio was named a United Nations Messenger for Peace for his environmental activism. He was presented the Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum in 2016 for using his global platform to call attention to the urgent need to address climate change. DiCaprio is a personal friend of Michael E. Mann, a distinguished climatologist and one of the lead authors of the 2021 IPCC Report, referred to as a Code Red for Humanity.
Dicaprio’s significant investment in Telmont’s mission will help create a path for other vineyards and businesses to follow, which will enable swifter climate action in these critical next eight years. DiCaprio joining Telmont is about a lot more than his Great Gatsby champagne meme on Twitter. LOL.
According to People Magazine, The Telmont House first reached out for discussions with DiCaprio in 2019. Covid slowed things down. A Fobes article went on to explain that at the end of 2020, Rémy Cointreau, a spirit portfolio, became majority owner of Telmont. Ludovic du Plessis was the one who shepherded the acquisition and was appointed Chairman and CEO of Telmont. Ludovic du Plessis and Leonardo DiCaprio have known each other for 15 years.
Interestingly, back in the 1600s, King Louis the XIV’s doctor prescribed a daily dose of champagne. Louis went on to drink a glass with every meal for the rest of his life. But, it was actually Marie Antoinette who elevated champagne to be the beverage of choice for celebrations. She threw wild parties in her rustic Versailles hamlet where they frolicked while they drank champagne. It’s been said that he Coupe champagne glass was molded from Marie Antoinette’s left breast. Coincidentally, the Coupe champagne glass is now referred to as the Gatsby glass which is the one in the DiCaprio meme.
Mark your calendars and be sure to place your orders for Au Nom de la Terre early. An organic bottle of Telmont Réserve Brut will start at $90, which is $20 more than the current $70. The higher price is considered a green premiumand should be something we’re eager to pay to support vital carbon-cutting, sustainable practices.
The Trillion Tree Campaign was announced in January 2020 at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos 2020. This bold initiative grew from the Billion Tree Campaign launched in 2006 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). This valiant vision, which will hopefully motivate all nations around the world to participate, has already inspired 193 countries into action, planting 13.6 billion trees. Amazing results, but we’re still a long way off target.
“It’s the little things citizens do. That’s what will make the difference. My little thing is planting trees,” said Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, founder of the Green Belt Movement. With 2.7 billion people who are food insecure across the globe in 2022, choosing native fruit trees to plant in public spaces, will not only store more carbon but also curb hunger through healthy, nutritional means, feeding hungry families, birds and animals. Thinking smarter with our limited time and resources will save many lives. Recommended locations for native fruits trees and berry bushes:
Different types of fruit trees thrive in different regions of the country. It’s wonderful to see families stop and pick wild raspberries on the trails in my county. Here are a few that grow well in the East Coast, South & West Coast Regions:
According to the World Economic Forum video above, there are a number of cities who have jumped in with the dual purpose fruit tree initiative. Not only do these trees cut carbon, they also curb hunger through healthy, nutritional means. When one solution can address two of the world’s most dire circumstances, you know this is money and action well spent.
In the US, grabbing a bite to eat off a fruit tree in a public park has begun taking root. According to TakePart the following cities have such initiatives: Seattle, Boston, Asheville (NC), Madison (WI), and San Francisco. In fact, San Francisco has 25 urban orchards and Wild Food Walks to help residents and visitors find the edibles that abound in the city.
With hundreds of thousands of American youth actively participating in plant-a-tree programs, as well as large corporations joining the effort, it’s time to promote the multiple benefits of scaling up the planting of fruit trees in communities around the country.
Decarbonizing American industry in order to reach our Paris Agreement targets and save humanity has seemed like an impossible mission thus far. The high heat necessary to produce materials like steel, cement, paper, aluminum, plastics, chemicals, etc, which require temperatures above 1000ºC, (steel melts at 1500ºC), haven’t been achievable at a scalable cost. This is an alarming reality considering American industry must eliminate 8 gigatons of carbon (GtC) per year. That’s 8 billion tons of carbon per year by 2050, and 4 GtC by 2030. The steel industry on its own must cut 3 of the 8 GtC, and the cement industry, 2 of the 8 GtC.
Some of the most brilliant minds in the world have been stymied by the endless, insurmountable obstacles that have confronted those in search for a solution to this predicament. Research, testing and more testing, more research, more testing. In 2020, global fossil fuel subsidies were a staggering $5.9 trillion, which has kept the cost of oil, coal and gas artificially low. Meanwhile, the slow adoption of clean energy, and meager subsidies, have kept the prices of renewables artificially high. This bizarre incongruity has made clean energy 5x more expensive than dirty fossil fuel energy at industrial sites.
News broke on February 16, 2022 that Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) along with Chris Sacca’s Lowcarbon Capital and Shell’s venture capital arm committed to invest a total of $50 million in Antora Energy’s innovative tech solution for low cost clean energy storage in thermal batteries, to replace low cost high carbon emitting natural gas boilers that are currently used to produce industry materials that require extreme high heat. Antora’s thermal batteries are zero-carbon.
Antora Energy’s CEO Andrew Ponec shared his exciting vision for the future in a Medium article that outlined Antora’s discovery and purpose. “For the first time in history, zero-carbon power from solar and wind is now cheaper than fossil fuels in many parts of the world and the trend is now accelerating on every continent.” Ponec explained that the transition to renewables has begun accelerating at an astonishing rate.
Such a hope-inspiring statement. Climate scientists must be heaving a collective sigh of relief. But will investors and portfolio managers be able to respond at the same rapid pace?
Antora Energy’s Solution
Antora Energy has “developed a thermal energy storage system capable of turning sunshine and wind into reliable heat and power for heavy industry — cheaper than fossil fuels,” stated Ponec. “Just like fossil fuels, we can create the extreme temperatures needed to generate electricity and supply high-temperature heat to manufacturing processes, and we can do it for cheap. But there’s one key difference: We do it with zero emissions.”
1.Material. What material was Antora able to find that could meet the requirements of durability, cost, performance, and scalability to store thermal energy.
2. Heat Recovery. How was Antora able to turn the stored heat back into useful energy for its customers.
The winning material proved to be carbon itself. Ponec exuded his enthusiasm in his explanation. “Carbon is an extraordinary material. It is available at extremely low cost, it’s virtually unlimited on earth, it has a massive existing supply chain and a long history of widespread industrial use, and it has superlative physical properties. The more we understood about carbon, the more it blew our minds.”
Solid carbon blocks for storage are “derived from a solid carbon feedstock that is a waste byproduct of other industrial processes and one of the cheapest materials on earth.”
30 million tons of carbon blocks are produced each year in the metal industry, which is more than enough to generate terawatt-hours per year of energy storage capacity.
Solid carbon has no toxins, nor does it create environmental justice conflicts, and it has no supply chain limitations.
Antora Energy’s CEO, Andrew Ponec inspires enthusiasm and hope that we will succeed at staying below 1.5ºC. His views are not the ones we usually see on social media. He explained that when he and the co-founders (Justin Briggs and David Bierman) began this journey, they were looking to find a way to create a solution that would generate massive greenhouse gas reduction in an area that not many people were working on. They landed on heavy industries that use significant power and heat. “There is a rising movement of engineers, business leaders, policy makers, financiers, and others dedicated to stopping climate change for the future of humanity. In just the past year we’ve seen a marked shift in the momentum behind climate solutions. People are coming together with new hope and new passion for the teams and technologies that will decarbonize our energy system while expanding its benefits to everyone.”
Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Penn State and climatologist, Dr. Michael E. Mann, provided cold, harsh facts to the House Oversight and Reform Committee in his opening testimony on Tuesday morning February 8, 2022. These chilling details, that were televised live on C-Span across the globe, continued for 3 hours and 30 minutes as Mann and his fellow witnesses (Ms.Tracey Lewis, policy counsel for Public Citizen’s climate program; Ms. Katie Tubb, senior policy analyst for energy and environmental issues, Heritage Foundation; and Mr. Mark van Baal, Founder, Follow This) answered questions posed by each Representative on the Committee.
At issue, Fueling the Climate Crisis: Examining Big Oil’s Climate Pledges. Mann stunned viewers by sharing information that was difficult to process on an emotional level, considering how barbaric and inhumane these revelations are, and that the burning of fossil fuels cause more than 8 million premature deaths each year, that climate disasters have brutalized communities across the globe, and that 2.7 billion people are now food insecure, many of whom are children.
“ExxonMobil’s own scientists, in a secret 1982 report that was never released to the public, made remarkably accurate predictions of both the rise that we would see in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and the planetary warming that would result given business as usual extraction and burning of fossil fuels,” Mann said in a brisk, even pace, seemingly aware of how quickly time flies and wanting to get everything on the record before his five minutes were up. “They even used the word ‘catastrophic’ to describe the potential impacts of that warming. But rather than come forward with what their own scientists had concluded, they engaged in a campaign of denial and delay which continues on today.”
Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) was up at bat at the hearing’s three hour mark. Chevron is headquartered in DeSaulnier’s district in the San Francisco Bay area of Northern California. Additionally, there are four oil refineries in DeSaulnier’s district. He’s been at war with big oil for years and thus has a unique perspective that enabled him to drill down a bit deeper and tap into what might prove to be a winning strategy in light of the well-documented, slick and deceptive, big oil greenwashing delay tactics.
In 2016, Desaulnier, along with his California colleague Congressman Ted Lieu, whose district includes another big West Coast fossil fuel footprint in Torrance, California, south of Los Angeles, requested information through a hearing “on what Exxon had done to obfuscate its role and its knowledge.” This was following an LA Times investigative series into California oil polluters that was conducted in partnership with Climate Action. DeSaulnier and Lieu are still waiting for much of the requested response from Exxon. Nearly 7 years, and still waiting. We only have 8 years left to cut carbon emissions 50% by 2030. There is absolutely no more time for waiting for oil giants to do what they should have done years ago.
Mann also outlined just how dire the climate crisis already is in his opening testimony. “We are now paying the extreme opportunity cost of that delay in the form of withering heat waves, more destructive tornado outbreaks, wildfires, and floods exacerbated by climate change. Whether it’s the apocalyptic wildfires that once again ravaged California and the west this summer, a heat dome over the Pacific Northwest that made parts of Canada feel like Phoenix on the 4th of July, or the devastating floods my state of Pennsylvania experienced as the remnants of climate change-fueled hurricane Ida dumped months’ worth of rainfall in a few hours, it is clear that dangerous climate change is upon us. These events are costing the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars a year and the toll in dollars and human lives will continue to increase in the absence of concerted action.”
DeSaulnier provided quoted assurances from the big oil companies on what they’re busy doing to transition to clean energy:
BP says it will be a very different kind of energy company by 2030 “as we scale up investment in low carbon energy.”
Chevron: “Leadership and innovation to advance a low carbon future.”
Exxon: “Committed to helping form our energy systems in working to reduce emissions in the short term, while also working on advancing decarbonization solutions.”
DeSaulnier brought everyone back to reality by adding, “Contrast that with their financial reports from 2010-2018,” and then outlined the total capital expenditures of each oil giant to underscore that their actions don’t match their words:
BP spent 2.3% on low carbon investments.
Shell spent 1.3% on low carbon investments.
Chevron spent .23%. Gasp! (DeSaulnier stared at the camera in disbelief. “A California company!”)
Exxon spent .22% on low carbon investments.
He continued with additional evidence of successful big oil delay tactics that undermine America’s strength, stability and health. “According to the Low Carbon Disclosure Project, 24 of the largest publicly owned oil companies spent less than 1% of their budgets on low carbon investments between 2010-2017.”
Not only is this morally wrong, but it undermines America’s economic strength, Desaulnier emphasized. There’s a global shift to a green economy and clean energy. Major financial resources are moving in that direction. Fossil fuel’s delay in transitioning means that money is flowing into foreign countries. “So we are in a race to be globally competitive to transition.” China is installing 100,000 charging stations each month. The United States only has 42,000 charging stations total. China has more than 1.5 million total.
With internal anger and frustration churning away in most viewers by this point in DeSaulnier’s five minutes, and these alarming and disproportionate numbers underscoring how far behind the United States is in the transition curve, and how many jobs we’ve already lost because of our delay, DeSaulnier sought answers to several tough questions from two witnesses.
CONGRESSMAN MARK DESAULNIER: So, Dr. Mann, why should we trust them when they say they’re going to transition and work with us?
DR. MICHAEL E. MANN: They’re not going to do this voluntarily. What more evidence do we need for that? That’s why we need policy that makes it necessary for them to move in the direction that we know they have to go.
CONGRESSMAN MARK DESAULNIER: Ms. Lewis, shouldn’t they be accountable legally for the delay they’ve caused us in being competitive and also in meeting our targets in terms of reducing carbon?
MS. LEWIS: It’s very clear they can be held accountable. Congress has done it before. The tobacco settlements. …Mortgage Crisis. Done before. So, it can be done again.
With the answers to his burning questions now on the record, DeSaulnier closed his five minutes by referencing Dr. Mann’s earlier statement regarding big oil companies that are following the same business model that’s been used many times before. Shareholders, investors and corporate officers who leave with “tons of money” (tobacco producers, pharmaceuticals, gun manufacturers) while everyone else has to deal with the crises and immense suffering.
“In my area, the local editorial board once said, ‘We’re addicted to this product. We’re dealing with a drug dealer here. Where we’re trying to extract ourselves from a relationship. Thank you, Madam Chair, I yield back.’”
Viewers were left to bare the heavy truth that we can never trust the climate pledges of America’s oil giants and thus our futures are all in peril.
Today, news broke that Sandy Hook families reached a historic $73 million settlement agreement with gun manufacturer Remington.
We saw legal accountability with Purdue Pharma, as well. After years of extraordinary suicide rates, and millions of young people struggling with addiction to heavily marketed opioids, in 2018, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey became the first to sue Purdue Pharma executives for misleading physicians in the company’s twisted plot to boost their profit. A $4 billion settlement was reached in July of 2021 between Perdue Pharma, Massachusetts and 14 other states.
*The February 8, 2022 House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on the Fueling the Climate Crisis: Examining Big Oil’s Climate Pledges is of such great importance, with dozens of extraordinary moments, Gallant Gold Media will be highlighting many of the representatives’ statements and questions in the upcoming weeks and months.
Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Penn State University
Joint Appointment with the Department of Geosciences
Director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center
One of the Lead Authors of the 2021 IPCC Report
Author of The New Climate War, along with 5 other books
Author of 200+ total peer-reviewed/edited publications
Undergrduate degree Physics and Applied Math University of Applied Math, University of California at Berkley
M.S. degree in Physics, Yale University
Ph.D. in Geology & Geophysics, Yale University
Awards and Honors
2021 Leo Szilard Lectureship Award, American Physical Society
2020 Stephen Schneider Lecture, American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting
2020 World Sustainability Award, MDPI Sustainability Foundation
2020 Ten Most Influential Earth Scientists, Academic
2020 Elected to U.S. National Academy of Sciences
2020 Louis J. Battan Author’s Award, American Meteorological Society (AMS), for “The Tantrum that Saved the World”
2019 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement
2018 Climate Communication Prize, American Geophysical Union (AGU)
2018 Elected Fellow of the Geological Society of America.
2018 Award for Public Engagement with Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
2018 Elected Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, Center for Skeptical Inquiry.
2017 Stephen H. Schneider Award for Outstanding Climate Science Communication, Climate One
2016 Elected Vice Chair, Topical Group on Physics of Climate (GPC), American Physical Society (APS)
2015 Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
2014 Named Highly Cited Researcher, Institute for Scientific Information (ISI)
2014 Friend of the Planet Award, National Center for Science Education
2013 National Conservation Achievement Award, National Wildlife Federation
2013 Bloomberg News list of 50 Most Influential People
2013 Elected Fellow of the American Meteorological Society
2012 Hans Oeschger Medal, European Geosciences Union
2011 Elected Member-at-Large of Section W (Atmospheric & Hydrospheric Sciences), American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
2008 Elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union
2008 Profiled in American Environmental Leaders From Colonial Times to the Present
2008 Website “RealClimate.org” (co-founded by M. Mann) chosen as one of top 15 “green” websites by Time Magazine (April 2008)
2007 Contributed (with other IPCC report authors) to the award of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize
2006 American Geophysical Union Editors’ Citation for Excellence in Refereeing (for ‘Geophysical Research letters’)
2005 Website “RealClimate.org” (co-founded by M. Mann) chosen as one of top 25 “Science and Technology” websites by Scientific American
2005 John Russell Mather Paper award for 2005 by the Association of American Geographers [for article: Frauenfeld, O., Davis, R.E., and Mann, M.E., A Distinctly Interdecadal Signal of Pacific Ocean-Atmosphere Interaction, Journal of Climate 18, 1709-1718, 2005]
2002 Named by Scientific American as one of 50 leading visionaries in science and technology
2002 Outstanding Scientific Paper award for 2002 by NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) [for article: Delworth, T.L., Mann, M.E., Observed and Simulated Multidecadal Variability in the Northern Hemisphere, Climate Dynamics, 16, 661-676, 2000]
2002 Article [Mann et al, “Global-scale temperature patterns and climate forcing over the past six centuries”, Nature, 392, 779-787, 1998] selected for ‘fast moving fronts’ by Institute for Scientific Information (ISI)
2002 Selected as one of 10 ‘Mead Honored Faculty’, University of Virginia
1998 Council of Graduate Schools’ Distinguished Dissertation Award, nominated
1997 Phillip M. Orville Prize for outstanding dissertation in the earth sciences, Yale University
1996 Alexander Hollaender Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowship (DOE)
1989 Josiah Willard Gibbs Prize for outstanding research and scholarship in Physics, Yale University
The formidable US Army, with its massive buying power, arrived on the climate action battlefield this week, armed with its Army Climate Strategy (ACS) and ready for rapid execution. The ACS acknowledges that climate change has destabilized the world, and that the army must move swiftly to stay out in front of our adversaries who are intent on jockeying for an advantage in a climate-altered world.
“The Army will lead by example. We will tap into the creativity, capabilities, and commitment of Army professionals operating on every continent. We will use our buying power to drive change in industry and leverage best practices from many sources. We will engage with local communities and foreign partners to ensure mutual readiness and security in a rapidly changing environment.”
Christine E. Wormuth, Secretary of the Army, in a foreword to the United States Army Climate Strategy (ACS)
Current climate impacts will continue to disrupt the US Army’s readiness, as it combats existing climate change crises that threaten America’s security. The Army’s objective is to build on the momentum it has already established to achieve Army-wide unity with the implementation of the ACS across its 130 Army installations worldwide. The US Army’s long history of excelling at the convergence of modernization and readiness to create a superior armed forces, is woven into the ACS which has outlined three Lines of Effort (LOE):
LOE 1: Installations. Strategic Outcome: enhance resilience and sustainability by adapting infrastructure and natural environments to climate change risks, securing access to training and testing lands into the future, and mitigating GHG emissions.
LOE 2:Acquisitions & Logistics. Strategic Outcome: increase operational capability while reducing sustainment demand and strengthening climate resilience.
LOE 3:Training. Strategic Outcome: prepare a force that is ready to operate in a climate-altered world.
A complete list of intermediate objectives for each of the three LOEs is outlined in the ACS. The following are the top highlights with the corresponding year for deliverables.
Achieve on-site carbon pollution-free power generation for Army critical missions on all installations by 2040
Provide 100% carbon-pollution-free electricity for Army installations’ needs by 2030
Achieve 50% reduction in GHG emissions from all Army buildings by 2032, from a 2005 baseline
Field an all-electric light-duty non-tactical vehicle fleet by 2027
Field an all-electric non-tactical vehicle fleet by 2035
An all-electric fleet of light-duty non-tactical vehicles within 5 years is an example of the kind of urgency climate scientists have been warning is needed to stay below 1.5ºC. The volume of these Army light-duty non-tactical EVs will help drive down EV prices for American consumers as we too transition to electric vehicles within the same 5 years. A massive solar panel investment for microgrid installations is an advantageous accelerator that will drive down the cost of solar for consumers. These hard commitments, with dates and quantities, will drive change.
Analyze all Army supply chain Tier 1 sources and contracts for climate change risks and vulnerabilities by 2025
Develop plans, policies, and contracts to ensure Army supply chain resilience by 2028
Significantly reduce operational energy and water use by 2035
Field purpose-built hybrid-drive tactical vehicles by 2035 and fully electric tactical vehicles by 2050
The army acknowledges that in order to have the future competitive advantage, it must strengthen its operational capabilities as quickly as possible. The LOE 2 list has 12 objectives, most of which have deliverable dates of 2050, which is too far away to accurately evaluate how each will impact consumer prices, if at all. American corporations should follow the Army’s supply chain resiliency strategies in order to navigate around the existing supply chain challenges in consumer markets. The ACS stresses that “the Army sees great promise for sustainment demand reduction through advanced technology, future contingency basing, clean procurement, and resilient supply chains.”
Beginning in 2024, publish climate change lessons and best practices every two years
Update Army programs of instruction for leader development and workforce training to incorporate climate change topics no later than 2028
Ensure that all Army operational and strategic exercises and simulations consider climate change risks and threats by 2028
Develop ways to reduce direct GHG emissions resulting from Army individual and collective training by 2028
The ACS emphasizes that it must simultaneously prepare “a force that is ready to operate in a climate-altered world” while “maintaining the ability to win in combat.” It will have to overhaul training practices to cut its CO2 emissions. Additionally, the Army is evaluating what and how it conducts all of its training. Not only the training of its people and units, but also of its headquarters.
It would be very advantageous for US corporations and cities to review the Army’s Climate Strategy. The organizational structure, LOEs and objectives, as well as the Army’s determined speed, would benefit all. Sharing a climate strategy template can be a starting point for others and can be modified to align with key corporate or government objectives. Ultimately, everyone should be doing the exact same thing at the exact same time. If each and every business, corporation, and city in the US was implementing their climate strategies/climate action plans simultaneously, we’d create country-wide unity and many of the obstacles slowing us down would disappear.
Community supported agriculture (CSA) is an up-and-coming innovative solution for consumers looking for the best way to eat wonderfully healthy, locally grown produce at an economical price while dramatically reducing the carbon emissions associated with our food system (which is 15% of our total annual CO2 emissions in the US, or 9 billion tons per year). “If you want to support regenerative agriculture, and all its benefits, buy produce from a local farmer,” recommends Gabe Brown, a North Dakota farmer who is a soil health pioneer and was featured in the acclaimed documentary, Kiss the Ground.
There are more than 7,600 CSAs in the United States. Most, if not all, have caps on the maximum number of members. Once the CSA has reached its max, they create a waiting list. The average retention rate for CSAs is approximately 45%, with a few retaining as many as 70–80%. But that’s a very small few. These strong partnerships, between farmers (producers) and consumers, were established so that both can share in the benefits and the risks of the farm’s harvest. CSA’s are located primarily in the Northeast, Mid Atlantic, and the Pacific Northwest. Consumers pay a flat fee upfront to become a member, and then receive a weekly share during harvest. This is referred to as cropsharing.
Producers develop a strong connection with their members by providing regular farm updates, usually through email, which might include recipes and a newsletter. Many CSAs have a social media presence as well, and also host farm events and offer farm tours. This positive and educational interaction results is a very well-informed consumer which strengthens the consumers’ ties to the farm and local community which is one of the goals of CSA producers.
What are the food miles of the produce in your local grocery store?
When shopping at any of the big super market chains, including Whole Foods, you’ll spot the little colorful signs alerting shoppers to which state or country a specific fruit or vegetable is from. The large grocery chains in my location mostly sell produce from “California,” which is quite far for simple vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers. Too often, we’ll also see Mexico, Peru, Ecuador. Whole Foods has a special “local” section with a small selection of produce and eggs from Virginia or Maryland.
Eliminating the unnecessary amount of carbon emissions associated with food transportation is imperative. According to The Conscious Challenge, food transportation amounts to approximately 4% of the our food system carbon emissions. To stay below 1.5ºC, which must be our goal to prevent catastrophic warming, we’re required to cut 3 billion tons of CO2 from our consumption choices as outlined in An Action Plan for Solving the Climate Crisis Now.
By definition, “locally grown” means within 400 miles per The Food Conservation and Energy Act of 2008. But farmer’s markets, retailers and food organizations, often draft their own definition of locally grown, which may end up being vegetables from as far away as 1000 miles. Additionally, recent studies have shown that the vital nutrient density of fruits and vegetables goes down as the distance traveled goes up.
One Acre Farm
One Acre Farm is an amazing CSA, powered by the sun, located in the DC metro area on the Maryland side. It services all three communities: Montgomery County, Maryland; Washington DC; and Northern Virginians who may work in DC or can easily travel by metro to the One Acre Farm DC pick-up locations. This 34-acre farm (wow, quite a stunning growth spurt, from 1 acre to 34 acres in 15 years), is located in Dickerson, Maryland just a few miles from the Potomac River. It was founded in 2007 and is owned by Mike Protas and his wife Kristin. Farmer Mike, as he is called, has always been a CSA producer and pursued this particular path in the world of agriculture because he feels “it’s very important to have a connection with your community to grow your food with.”
Charlotte Henderson is the One Acre Farm Manager. I was delighted to have an informative conversation with both Mike and Charlotte and hear their passion and excitement for the CSA experience as they were pricing the 2022 annual member fee and calculating how many open spots they have based on heir 2021 retention rate. One Acre Farm has a max of 200 members.
“If we want farms to exist, we have to change our mentality as consumers.”
Mike Protas, Founder and Owner of One Acre Farm
Mike explained how misconceptions about CSAs are really the only thing holding back growth. Traditional small, local farmers who follow conventional ag practices, (that of using pesticides so that their produce looks beautiful at the farmers market), rarely survive. “They may have a few good years, but eventually the pesticides will degrade their soil, and they can’t make it in the long run,” Mike said.
Mike and Charlotte are enthusiastic about their Certified Naturally Grown practices that are very similar to organically grown and regenerative farm soil health practices:
They do not use pesticides.
They do use cover crops to boost soil health and increase water infiltration rate which helps keep the soil moist in high heat.
Compost is applied to the soil which also boosts soil health and crop nutrient density. (One Acre Farm gets their compost from Compost Crew that rents land from One Acre Farm for their composting.)
Mike even adds biochar to the potato field “because potatoes love biochar,” (so does the soil).
It’s very important to Mike that he pay those who work for One Acre Farm a living wage. Mike went on to explain that the upfront commitment is the most important part. Once the 200 members’ are confirmed, One Acre Farm’s annual harvest is paid for, (Mike will happily set up a payment plan if that works best for family budgets; and Individuals who want to become members, can join with a friend and the two can either split each week’s bag or alternate weeks). With the planting and harvesting costs covered from the start, Mike has already sold all the produce that he’ll now spend the year growing. Both the producer and the consumer share in the harvest’s risk.
Once the summer harvest begins, the team walks the fields each week to see which vegetables are “ready.” Mike and Charlotte explained that the farm sends an email to all members at the beginning of the week, letting them know what it “looks like a possibility of” the veggies that might be in their weekly “share.” The morning of their pick-up day, the farm sends out an email stating, “This is what is actually in your share” this week, along with a few recipes.
In my humble opinion, this is the very best part. Vegetables picked fresh from a local farm and placed into a bag with your name written on it, delivered to the local pick-up spot, every single week during the 22-week stretch. Very fresh, which means very delicious. Maximumly healthy. Nominal handling. Very low carbon emissions. And no single-use plastic produce bags. The next best thing might be growing vegetables and fruits on your own property, but many people don’t have the time or patience. So, for the majority, this is as good as it gets.
Charlotte sounded thrilled that their pre-packaged “share bags” worked out so well. This method was a Covid modification. Originally, families picked their selections from bins. But now, the One Acre Farm team fills the bags each week for their members. Charlotte also stressed the value CSA members receive, explaining how there are some weeks in the summer when there is so much produce, families would have ended up paying a fortune at a local store for the same quantity of fresh-picked, certified naturally grown fruits and vegetables.
One Acre Farm also has a corporate client. Each week several of the team members bring a couple hundred mini share bags to the corporate office and pass them out to the employees. Additionally, Manna Food Center is a recipient of One Acre Farm’s weekly share.
I asked Mike and Charlotte if climate change had impacted One Acre Farm, the way it’s impacted farmers in many farming communities out West and in the Northern Plains. Mike sounded really grounded in his perspective. “What we need to do as farmers and humans is help mitigate some of these climate challenges.” He continued with a determined outlook, “What we have done on our farm to help deal with the fluctuations of climate and temperatures and extreme moisture and extreme drought and extreme cold is work on the soil.”
Soil health! Smart. Very, very smart, actually. Soil health just may be the most effective climate mitigation of them all.