‘I’m Just More Afraid of Climate Change Than I Am of Prison’ – The New York Times

“On Oct. 11, 2016, Michael Foster and two companions rose before dawn, left their budget hotel in Grand Forks, N.D., and drove a white rental sedan toward the Canadian border, diligently minding the speed limit. The day was cold and overcast, and Foster, his diminutive frame wrapped in a down jacket, had prepared for a morning outdoors. As the driver, Sam Jessup, followed a succession of laser-straight farm roads through the sugar-beet fields, and a documentary filmmaker, Deia Schlosberg, recorded events from the back seat, Foster sat hunched in the passenger seat, mentally rehearsing his plan.

When Jessup pulled over next to a windbreak of cottonwood trees, Foster felt the seconds stretch and slow. For months, he’d imagined his next actions: He would get out of the car, put on a hard hat and safety vest, retrieve a pair of bolt cutters from the trunk and walk to the fenced enclosure about 100 feet away. He would snip the padlock that secured the gate and approach the blunt length of vertical pipe in the center of the enclosure — the stem of a shut-off valve for the 2,700-mile-long Keystone Pipeline, which carries crude oil from the tar sands of Alberta to refineries on the Texas coast. He would cut the chain on the steel wheel attached to the stem, and turn the wheel clockwise until it stopped.

What Foster didn’t expect was that once he’d broken through the chain-link fence, he would be briefly overwhelmed by the magnitude of what he was about to do. He faced away from the biting wind, and allowed himself to cry. He then put a gloved hand on the steel wheel, which was almost three feet across and mounted vertically as if on the helm of a ship, and began to turn it. For long minutes it spun easily, but then both the wheel and the ground below his feet began to shake. Foster had been told to expect this, but still he hesitated. When he resumed turning, he had to throw his body into the task, at times dangling from the wheel to coax it downward. Finally, he could wrestle it no farther, and the shaking stopped. He felt a profound sense of relief. He replaced the lock on the wheel with a new padlock, sat down and, breathing heavily, began to record himself on his phone. “Hey, I’ve never shot video for grandkids that I don’t have yet,” he told the camera, “but I want any grandkids, or grandnephews and nieces or whatever, anybody in any family tree of mine, to know that once upon a time people burned oil, and they put it in these underground pipes, and they burned enough, fast enough, to almost cook you guys out of existence, and we had to stop it — any way we could think of.”

Ten minutes before Foster entered the enclosure, Jessup and another supporter each called the operations center of the pipeline’s owner, the TransCanada Corporation, and described what Foster was about to do. The company called the sheriff. About half an hour after Foster walked away from the valve station, an officer arrived and arrested Foster, Jessup and Schlosberg.What neither the sheriff’s department nor TransCanada knew, however, was that while Foster was closing off the Keystone Pipeline, four other cross-border pipelines — in Washington, Montana and Minnesota — were being shut down, too. Together, the pipelines carry nearly 70 percent of the crude oil imported to the United States from Canada.”

DL: This is a fascinating and complex story. While I care deeply about climate change, and I am impressed that by getting into small boats and blocking oil or coal ships, some polical progress has been made. But attacking the oil pipeline hardware, or turning the valves, doesn’t seem to me to be the most effective way to convince Americans that climate change is a serious problem, and that we need to accelerate our involvement in environmental  awareness and political change. That the main character lost his wife and children, suggests that he was a bit self-absorbed in rightous cause, to detriment of his familial relations.  In terms of political tactics, there appears to be real difference between an illegal but peaceful protest march, as practiced by Ghandi and Martin Luther King, and tresspassing to sabotoge private property, as practiced by these eco protesters.


On Climate- Gov. Murphy Brings a New Voice to New Jersey – The New York Times

“Given the Trump administration’s indifference to climate change, the task of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, the main global warming gas, has fallen largely to city and state governments. It is thus greatly encouraging that New Jersey, under its new governor, Phil Murphy, a Democrat, will join — more precisely, rejoin — the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a consortium of nine Eastern and New England states that has achieved substantial emissions reductions from large power plants since its start in 2009.”

Elon Musk Wants to Rebuild Puerto Rico’s Power Grid With Solar – Ecowatch.com

Ta’u, an island in American Samoa, with 100% sustainable energy grid by Tesla.

“Elon Musk Wants to Rebuild Puerto Rico’s Power Grid With SolarPuerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló responded positively to Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s offer to help restore the island’s hurricane-wrecked power grid with the company’s batteries and solar panels.”Let’s talk,” the governor tweeted to Musk Thursday evening. “Do you want to show the world the power and scalability of your #TeslaTechnologies? PR could be that flagship project.”Musk tweeted back that he would be “happy to talk.” ”

Source: Elon Musk Wants to Rebuild Puerto Rico’s Power Grid With Solar

‘Climate-smart soils’ may help balance the carbon budget | by Blaine Friedlander – Cornell Chronicle

“Here’s the scientific dirt: Soil can help reduce global warming.

While farm soil grows the world’s food and fiber, scientists are examining ways to use it to sequester carbon and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.“We can substantially reduce atmospheric carbon by using soil. We have the technology now to begin employing good soil practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Johannes Lehmann, Cornell professor of soil and crop sciences, co-author of the Perspectives piece, “Climate-smart Soils,” published in Nature, April 6.Decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, sequestering carbon and using prudent agricultural management practices that tighten the soil-nitrogen cycle can yield enhanced soil fertility, bolster crop productivity, improve soil biodiversity, and reduce erosion, runoff and water pollution. These practices also buffer crop and pasture systems against the impacts of climate change.

Currently, Earth’s atmosphere holds about 830 petagrams (1 trillion kilograms) of carbon and humans add about 10 petagrams of carbon to the atmosphere every year, because of industrial and agricultural waste, and fossil-fuel burning vehicles, according to Lehmann. Soils, however, hold about 4,800 petagrams of carbon to a depth of 2 meters, which is six times the amount of carbon dioxide currently in the atmosphere. The good news is that soils have the potential to hold even more, said the scientists.”

Source: ‘Climate-smart soils’ may help balance the carbon budget | Cornell Chronicle

States Dare to Think Big on Climate Change – The New York Times

“The one bright spot amid the generally gloomy news about climate change, and the Trump administration’s resistance to doing anything about it, is the determination of a number of state governments to take action on their own.

California, as usual, has commanded the headlines on this score, having just strengthened its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Now the nine Northeastern states that form the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative have done much the same, in a further rebuke to the know-littles and do-nothings like Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, who are now calling the shots on climate policy in Washington.

The nine states, including Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York, last week agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants an additional 30 percent by 2030, on top of the 40 percent cut they have already achieved since the program began in 2009. R.G.G.I., as the initiative is known, was the nation’s first multistate greenhouse gas initiative. From the beginning (and despite the defection of New Jersey’s Gov. Chris Christie), it has had the backing of governors from both parties. More important, it has quietly achieved substantial emissions reductions at little cost to the states’ economies or to their consumers.”

A Better- Safer Battery Could Be Coming to a Laptop Near You – The New York Times

“SAN FRANCISCO — A start-up company is trying to turbocharge a type of battery that has been a mainstay for simple devices like flashlights and toys, but until now has been ignored as an energy source for computers and electric cars.Executives at Ionic Materials, in Woburn, Mass., plan to announce on Thursday a design breakthrough that could make solid-state alkaline batteries a viable alternative to lithium-ion and other high-energy storage technologies.”

 Climate Lessons from California – by Noah S. Diffenbaugh – NYT

“Stanford, Calif. — California faces serious risks from climate change. Some are already being felt, like the severe heat this summer and recent episodes of extremely low snowpack in the mountains, which the state depends on for much of its water. Those are among the key messages in a new climate science report now under review in the White House. The good news is that California has been working hard to catch up with the climate change that has already happened, and to get ahead of what is still to come.

The past five years have painted a clear picture of what is in store for California, according to numerous scientific studies that underpin the new assessment: Rising temperatures will bring more frequent and severe hot spells, intensifying heat stress; more precipitation will fall as rain rather than snow, increasing storm water runoff; snow that does fall will melt earlier in the year, leaving less for the warm, dry season; and more moisture will be drawn out of soils and vegetation, increasing stress on crops and ecosystems. All of this will lead to more frequent and severe water deficits, punctuated by wet periods with increasing flood risk.”

Students- Cities and States Take the Climate Fight to Court – The New York Times

“Can the courts fix climate change?

Several groups and individuals around the United States have gone to court to try to do what the Trump administration has so far declined to do: confront the causes and effects of global warming.In California, two counties and a city recently sued 37 fossil fuel companies, seeking funds to cover the costs of dealing with a warming world. In Oregon, a federal lawsuit brought on behalf of young people is moving toward a February trial date, though the so-called children’s suit could be tossed out before that. And more than a dozen state attorneys general have sued to block Trump administration moves to roll back environmental regulations.

Efforts in the United States are part of a wave of litigation around the world, including a 2015 decision in which a court in the Netherlands ordered the Dutch government to toughen its climate policies; that case is under appeal. A 2017 report from the United Nations Environment Program found nearly 900 climate litigation suits in more than 20 countries. In Switzerland, a group of nearly 800 older women known as Senior Women for Climate Protection have sued their government over climate change. In New Zealand, a court recently heard a climate case brought by a law student, Sarah Lorraine Thomson; a decision is pending.”

If You Fix This- You Fix a Big Piece of the Climate Puzzle – The New York Times

There’s no single solution for climate change, but there is one that would be more effective than others. What do you think it is?Build more wind farmsEat less meat worldwideImprove air-conditionersSwitch to mass transitIllustrations by Jessia Ma / The New York Times

California Shows How States Can Lead on Climate Change – The New York Times

“California, which has long been a pioneer in fighting climate change, renewed its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions last week by extending, to 2030, its cap-and-trade program, which effectively puts a price on emissions. It’s a bold, bipartisan commitment that invites similarly ambitious policies from other states, and it sends a strong signal to the world that millions of Americans regard with utmost seriousness a threat the Trump administration refuses to acknowledge, let alone reckon with.”

“Attention now turns to the Northeast, where nine states, including New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts, are part of what is known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which, like California’s effort, is a market-based cap-and-trade program that goes beyond state boundaries. So far, R.G.G.I., as it known for short, has helped reduce emissions from power plants in the region by 40 percent between 2008 and 2016, according to the Acadia Center, a research and public interest group. States are now negotiating the future of the program beyond 2020.”