Federal Climate Change Denial and What to do About It

myron-ebell-1024x607President-elect Trump is putting his team together, and his choice to lead the transition for the Environmental Protection Agency is one more step toward an official Federal policy of climate change denial. Trump repeatedly called global warming a hoax . The man Trump has called on to shape the EPA in his administration is a well-known climate skeptic and a critic of efforts by the Obama administration to address climate change.

The man’s name is Myron Ebell, and here is what you should know.

First, Ebell is against the the popular Paris Climate Deal. In May, he hoped “whoever was elected president would ‘undo the E.P.A. power plant regs and some of the other regs that are very harmful to our economy.’” This puts his views, against international agreements to help curb environmental changes, in the scientific minority. It also raises the specter that the U.S. could pull out of the agreement. NPR’s Susan Phillips wrote a great article summarizing this issue; she hopefully noted that countries gathered at the Marrakesh Conference exhibited “a defiant optimism”.

Second, Ebell is “a well-known and polarizing figure in the energy and environment realm” according to Scientific American. He is the director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute. This institute questions climate change, supports increased fossil fuel use, and opposes initiatives such as the Kyoto Protocol, cap-and-trade, and EPA regulation of greenhouse gasses. In a world imagined by this Institute, our air and water would be less clean, and our efforts to stop the effects of a warming world would be more isolated and less effective. The director of these ideas is now heading the transition to the EPA.

Third, Ebell is not a scientist nor does he have degrees or qualifications in climate science, according to Business Insider. Despite this he works to undermine the work of climate scientists. In interviews conducted by Business Insider, a climate scientist from NASA showed disdain for Ebell and the magazine called Ebell a gadfly whose views scientists had to stoop to acknowledge and whose views had little scientific content.

This is alarming even for us here in Monroe County because the decisions made by this administration will affect our lives and the ways we interact with our surroundings. This sends signals to the way states run their environmental protection activities that business interests trumps beneficial regulations and there is no middle ground or compromise. It also gives credence to conspiracy theories against the reliance on scientific inquiry and data.

This can be discouraging, but stay informed and get active! Read reliable, independent reporting on the environment and contact your elected officials to voice your opinions on environmental issues. You can also stay in touch with this blog which sends out a monthly alert of local green events and issues. Lastly, as the Federal Government goes down the climate denial rabbit hole, the role of state and local governments will increase. This means that local reporting and activism will be increasingly important.

Top 5 Green Events for December

As Monroe County, Indiana heads toward colder temperatures and the new year, there are plenty of winter opportunities to learn about and enjoy local nature. Here are our picks for the Top 5 Green Events in December. For even more, make sure to visit the regularly updated Green Events Calendar.

2013-07-10_lake-monroe_allens-creek_049Lunch with Nature Spend your lunch hour on December 19th on Monroe Lake at their lunch and learn series as they discuss clouds. This is a great excuse to visit one of Monroe County’s greatest resources and beef up your knowledge.

 

8420580460_b12c94fc7d_o-940x626Winter Farmers Market Just because the ground is frozen doesn’t mean there isn’t local food and other goods offered by area farmers. This is a great time to visit Harmony school for meat, greens, and all sorts of other goods. Visit them online at http://www.bloomingtonwinterfarmersmarket.com/ for weekly events at the market.

2208727_10a1826cWinter Solstice Celebration The folks at the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice are holding a celebration of the winter solstice. This free event will feature a celebration with the word, symbol and sharing. Refreshments are even served. It all starts at 6:30pm.

 

cem46902202_117781896774Cemetery History Series December is a great month to learn about local history and the people who helped make our community what it is today. There are two tours on separate Thursdays featuring the cemeteries near Friendship and Chandler. Find more information by clicking on the links above.

rock-river-landing-eagleGoose Pond and Monroe Lake are great places locally to find overwintering birds of all types. In particular, you will enjoy looking for Lake Monroe’s Bald Eagles. Find out more about the Sassafras Audubon Society’s trips at http://www.sassafrasaudubon.org/node/269.

Members of the Monroe County Environmental Commission compiled this list. Their charge includes “educating the community and engaging residents and businesses in supporting initiatives which will help ensure a healthier and more economically viable future for the County.” The public is welcome to attend these meetings the second Wednesday of every month at 5:30pm.

Recommended Update on Environmental Policy

1107_paris-agreement-1000x663There is something big happening tonight and while I should have been posting yesterday, I was phone banking…

Diane Rehm, the award winning radio journalist and author, did a great show earlier this month on the environment. The show can listened to or the transcript can be found online. She and her guests provided an in-depth analysis of recent environmental policy. Update your base of knowledge on issues such as coral bleaching, western Antarctic ice sheet retreat, Miami’s concern about rising sea levels, the Montreal Protocol and the seeming end of CFCs, and the upcoming Paris Agreement talks in Morocco.

The panel of experts is worth following. If you are like me and can’t ever seem to keep up with reliable environmental news, they can help:

  • Amy Harder (@AmyAHarder) is a reporter covering energy and climate policy at The Wall Street Journal
  • Chris Mooney (@chriscmooney) energy and environment reporter, Washington Post
  • Cary Funk (@surveyfunk) associate director of research on science and society, Pew Research Center

Of course, you should add this blog to your rss reader, as we update this page with local information weekly.

Where Local Politicians Stand on Environmental Issues

Early Voting Begins In Iowa For Presidential ElectionWith 2016 elections less than a week away, this is your look at how local races treat environmental issues. Below you’ll find candidates in categories by the seat they seek. While we understand that early voting has been strong in Monroe County, we want to ensure that local candidates stances on environmental issues are well known.

There is a Referendum Question on hunting and we recommend you listen to the October 21st taping of Noon Edition before you step into the voting booth.

Happy voting!

Will the Heat Stay in a Warmer County?

us-climate-zonesInsulation has been a focus of the Monroe County Energy Challenge and for good reason. Proper r-values in your home or office can reduce the amount of energy you consume, increase comfort, and best-of-all save you money. But what will the impact of climate change be on insulation recommendations?

The r-value is a way to measure insulation; energystar.gov defines it as the “insulation’s ability to resist heat traveling through it. The higher the R-Value the better the thermal performance of the insulation”. You can find your recommended r-value by the region of the country you live in; Monroe County is in zone 4 which suggests attics be insulated from r-38 to r-60.

If you are a gardener as I am, you’ll notice that the r-value map looks very familiar to the USDA’s hardiness zone map which helps gardeners and farmers know when to plant/transplant certain seeds.

This hardiness map has not been static. As climate change has impacted our world, the zones have moved. Some areas becoming warmer, some cooler and some there has been no change. But Monroe County became warmer and our hardiness zone changed. The Arbor Day Foundation has a really cool timelapse of this climate change trend that dramatically illustrates this point.

So, as hardiness zones migrate will r-values migrate as well? If Monroe County continues to experience climate change will our current r-values decrease? If we continue to warm will they increase to keep the cool air in? These are intriguing questions that time will tell. As more changes occur due to climate change, it helps to put the changes in focus when it so directly impacts home/office renovation and new construction.

As you ponder those questions, take some time to review these Energy Saving Tips.

Top 5 Green Events for November

As Monroe County, Indiana breezes toward November and Thanksgiving, there are plenty of fall opportunities to learn about and enjoy local nature. Here are our picks for the Top 5 Green Events in November. For even more, make sure to visit the regularly updated Green Events Calendar.

duckdonutDucks and Donuts One of the best named November events, and it got our attention! The Sassafras Audubon Society will host their 7th annual event at the Stillwater Marsh Overlook, off State Road 46, east of Bloomington. They will serve coffee and donuts and hopefully there will be plenty of waterfowl and other birds to look at.  It starts at 8am and finishes at 11am on November 12th.

pieWhite Violet’s Cooking Series This is your way to brush up on cooking skills ahead of the Thanksgiving feast, which you thought would be a good idea to host this year… There are events on cooking basics, cooking with vegetables, and cooking with meat. All these will occur on different nights and is reasonably priced, especially since participants get to eat what they cook!

saunterSlow Saunter and Campfire Join the Indiana Forest Alliance on November 05th for an educational 3 mile hike, campfire meal, and discussion led by University of Indianapolis English professor Kevin McKelvey connecting the ideas of nature and home. This hike is part of the Indiana Forest Alliance’s Slow Saunter hiking series, which aims to inspire protection advocacy for Indiana’s forests, and Indiana Humanities’ Next Indiana Campfires, which connects nature, literature, and the Hoosier bicentennial.

orchardclassFall Planting of Pome Fruit Trees This is your opportunity to grow better. Learn how to plant apple, pear, and other pome fruit trees in fall in order to get a head start on the growing season. In this hands-on class, students learn to select a site, prepare the soil, plant, and stake fruit trees in fall. The class will plant a tree during the class, so please dress appropriately for the weather and for the work. The proper planting of fruit trees is the first step to success and an investment in a future that can span many decades with bountiful harvests. This is a free event and you can find it all on November 05th.

walk2Fossil Bed Hike Celebrate the diversity of Monroe Lake on November 10. The limestone shoreline around the point at Allen’s Creek is so dense with fossils that it’s hard to find “plain” rock! The fossil beds are filled with crinoids and corals, interspersed with geodes – remnants of the shallow sea that once covered Indiana. On a hike to and from the fossil beds, we’ll explore the broader geological story told by the rock layers exposed in the Monroe Lake area. Round-trip hike distance is about 4 miles over moderate terrain and takes roughly 3 hours.

 

Members of the Monroe County Environmental Commission compiled this list. Their charge includes “educating the community and engaging residents and businesses in supporting initiatives which will help ensure a healthier and more economically viable future for the County.” The public is welcome to attend these meetings the second Wednesday of every month at 5:30pm.

Ahead of the Food Curve

local-farms-local-foodIn an ongoing look at sustainability assets in Monroe County, there is one business that has helped shape the way we grow, eat, and learn about food: Bloomingfoods.

Food policy so often focuses on access. In fact, you need only to look at the recent focus on food deserts. There is even a map dedicated to showing how far away a certain residence is to a source of food, and this is important.

But in Monroe County residents have been spoiled by access to good food provided by  Bloomingfoods. Started in 1979, they were incubated by residents who sought food they couldn’t obtain elsewhere. Over the years they have grown throughout Monroe County and have offered local food producers access to a growing market, and in return residents found an increasingly local array of produce. Bloomingfoods also promotes local sustainability through print and online publications and support of local non-profits.

Bloomingfood’s most recent contribution has been to help our region prepare for a seachange in the way we think about groceries in Monroe County. As Bloominfoods expanded throughout the county, new businesses have come to Bloomington to reach households increasingly interested in sustainable agriculture and knowing more about the food they are feeding their families. This has in turn put positive pressure on growers and the evidence can be seen in the produce section of Bloomingfoods, Lucky’s, Kroger, and soon others. The crowds at the Bloomington Farmer’s Market also show this positive pressure. The end result is that interest and consequently knowledge of sustainability is growing in Monroe County.

Members of the Monroe County Environmental Commission composed this post. Their charge includes “educating the community and engaging residents and businesses in supporting initiatives which will help ensure a healthier and more economically viable future for the County.” The public is welcome to attend these meetings the second Wednesday of every month at 5:30pm.