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Americans oppose drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

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Americans oppose drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

The tax bills that were recently approved by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives each contain a provision allowing drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The bill now heads for reconciliation by the two chambers, an up or down vote of the final bill by the House and Senate, and then to President Trump for his signature.

How do Americans feel about opening up ANWR to drilling for oil? And how much do opinions differ across partisan lines?

In our most recent nationally representative survey, conducted in late October, we found that a large majority of American voters (70%) oppose drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Those strongly opposed outnumber those who strongly support the policy by more than 4 to 1.

Further, majorities of Democrats (84%), Independents (64%), and Republicans (52%) oppose drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Only 18% of Republicans “strongly support” the policy.

For more information about the survey methodology, please click here.


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15,000 scientists in 184 countries warn about negative global environmental trends

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CORVALLIS, Ore. — Human well-being will be severely jeopardized by negative trends in some types of environmental harm, such as a changing climate, deforestation, loss of access to fresh water, species extinctions and human population growth, scientists warn in today’s issue of BioScience, an international journal.

The viewpoint article — “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice” — was signed by more than 15,000 scientists in 184 countries.

The warning came with steps that can be taken to reverse negative trends, but the authors suggested that it may take a groundswell of public pressure to convince political leaders to take the right corrective actions. Such activities could include establishing more terrestrial and marine reserves, strengthening enforcement of anti-poaching laws and restraints on wildlife trade, expanding family planning and educational programs for women, promoting a dietary shift toward plant-based foods and massively adopting renewable energy and other “green” technologies.

Global trends have worsened since 1992, the authors wrote, when more than 1,700 scientists — including a majority of the living Nobel laureates in the sciences at the time — signed a “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” published by the Union of Concerned Scientists. In the last 25 years, trends in nine environmental issues suggest that humanity is continuing to risk its future. However, the article also reports that progress has been made in addressing some trends during this time.

The article was written by an international team led by William Ripple, distinguished professor in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University. The authors used data maintained by government agencies, nonprofit organizations and individual researchers to warn of “substantial and irreversible harm” to the Earth.

“Some people might be tempted to dismiss this evidence and think we are just being alarmist,” said Ripple. “Scientists are in the business of analyzing data and looking at the long-term consequences. Those who signed this second warning aren’t just raising a false alarm. They are acknowledging the obvious signs that we are heading down an unsustainable path. We are hoping that our paper will ignite a wide-spread public debate about the global environment and climate.”

Progress in some areas — such as a reduction in ozone-depleting chemicals and an increase in energy generated from renewable sources — shows that positive changes can be made, the authors wrote. There has been a rapid decline in fertility rates in some regions, which can be attributed to investments in education for women, they added. The rate of deforestation in some regions has also slowed.

Among the negative 25-year global trends noted in the article are:

  • A 26 percent reduction in the amount of fresh water available per capita
  • A drop in the harvest of wild-caught fish, despite an increase in fishing effort
  • A 75 percent increase in the number of ocean dead zones
  • A loss of nearly 300 million acres of forestland, much of it converted for agricultural uses
  • Continuing significant increases in global carbon emissions and average temperatures
  • A 35 percent rise in human population
  • A collective 29 percent reduction in the numbers of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and fish

Ripple and his colleagues have formed a new independent organization, the Alliance of World Scientists, to be a collective voice on environmental sustainability and human well-being. Scientists who did not sign the warning prior to publication can endorse the published warning by visiting http://scientists.forestry.oregonstate.edu/.

Co-authors of the article include Ripple and Christopher Wolf at Oregon State University and Eileen Crist of Virginia Tech in the United States; Mauro Galleti of the Universidade Estadual Paulista in Brazil; Thomas Newsome of The University of Sydney and Deakin University and William Laurence of James Cook University in Australia; Mohammad Alongir of the University of Chittagong in Bangladesh; Mahmoud Mahmoud of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency in Nigeria.

The BioScience article is publicly available online.


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Rebuilding After the Hurricanes: These Solar Homes Use Almost No Energy

Builders of prefabricated, zero-energy homes built for storm resilience have seen a spike in calls, particularly from the Florida Keys and Virgin Islands.

A quarter of homes in the Florida Keys are estimated to have been destroyed by Hurricane Irma. Credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Modular-home builders have been drawing interest in their net-zero-energy, solar-equipped houses in the aftermath of this summer’s hurricanes. Credit: Vermod

The scope of the damage to mobile home parks and older neighborhoods along America’s hurricane-ravaged coasts is enormous. More than 15,500 homes were destroyed in Texas alone, and the count hasn’t even begun in Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands.

The homeowners who plan to stay face a choice: They can rebuild what they had before, knowing the warming climate will bring more devastating storms, or they can build for energy efficiency and resilience. The decision often comes down to cost, but an innovative type of post-disaster construction is creating new options.

In the Asheville, North Carolina, offices of Deltec Homes—one of several builders of prefabricated, energy efficient houses—the phones have been ringing insistently with questions about the hurricane-resistant, net-zero-energy homes the company manufactures and ships around the world. The homes are designed to reduce energy loss and are built ready for solar panels to allow customers to go off-grid and still power up when the grid goes down in a storm.

The company has seen a rise in interest in the past month, from the Virgin Islands and the Florida Keys in particular, company President Steve Linton said. “It’s an insane jump,” he said.

Nearly a decade ago, net-zero-energy homes were rare, usually custom-built for wealthy homeowners who wanted to incorporate energy efficient appliances and rooftop solar panels. Now, that’s starting to shift: within the last year, the zero-energy home market has grown 33 percent, said Shilpa Sankaran, executive director of the Net-Zero Energy Coalition.

“That’s a tiny fraction of new home construction, but in terms of growth, we’re seeing the kind of numbers solar saw in its early days in 2011 and 2012,” she said.

For that market to really take off, net-zero homes have to become cheaper—particularly in low-income communities, which are disproportionately affected by extreme weather. That’s a challenge companies like Deltec are trying to meet by designing modular, prefabricated, net-zero homes that reduce energy usage, cut costs and can withstand extreme weather and power outages.

“Nobody wants to see a repeat of damage that’s been done [by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria], and scientists said certainly it was worse because of climate change,” Sankaran said. “If that’s the case, not only do we need buildings that won’t exacerbate the problem, but also ones that last longer.”

Vermont’s Zero-Energy Storm Recovery

Prefabricated, zero-energy homes became a go-to storm response in Vermont after Hurricane Irene in 2011.

The storm’s remnants dumped as much as 11 inches of rain in some areas and flooded hundreds of buildings. Mobile home parks were the hardest hit: more than 500 were damaged or destroyed. While they only make up 7 percent of Vermont’s housing stock, mobile homes comprised 15 percent of those damaged during the storm.

After the floodwaters receded, a group of local developers and affordable housing experts launched Vermod, a company that designs and builds affordable zero-energy modular homes, to help low-income communities recover from the storm.

“That storm was a really valuable catalyst to action for these issues simmering in the back of people’s minds, but weren’t taking precedence,” said Phoebe Howe, program coordinator for Efficiency Vermont, an organization that worked with Vermod to finance and design the homes.

Vermod designed zero-net-energy homes after Hurricane Irene for to replace mobile homes destroyed by flooding. Credit: Vermod Homes

Vermod designed zero-net-energy homes after Hurricane Irene for to replace mobile homes destroyed by flooding. Credit: Vermod Homes

Using eco-friendly materials and energy efficient appliances, the company built modest, modular net-zero energy homes to replace 75 mobile homes around the state. An average two-bedroom, two-bathroom home costs around $115,000 if the buyers qualify for certain incentives and tax credits, Howe said.

Last year, Vermod revamped an abandoned mobile home park, building net-zero homes that it rented out to 14 low-income families. It’s also helping a developer in Delaware work on a similar modular home project.

The case for going net-zero is convincing for many lower-income people, who can spend up to 35 percent of their budget on home energy expenses, Howe said. The bigger issue is convincing developers to shift their business models.

Howe said Vermod’s projects are easily transferrable to other states; they’re primarily funded through U.S. Department of Agriculture rural development grants and various housing trust funds. For areas like the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, where entire communities are destroyed and parts of the grid are down indefinitely, that model could be a way to rebuild in a cheaper, more climate-friendly and resilient way.

Tricks to Energy Efficiency in Pre-Fab Homes

With so much need for new housing, net-zero-energy homebuilders are increasing their outreach to hurricane-damaged regions.

Deltec is trying to establish a bigger presence in hurricane-prone areas like coastal Texas. In Lawrence, Kansas, a company called BuildSmart is seeing a higher demand for its prefabricated wall panels, in part because many local builders are leaving to work on projects along the Gulf Coast. Other developers of zero-energy, prefabricated homes have cropped up in the last few years, from California to Minnesota to Florida.

One of Deltec's designs has rounded walls for hurricane resilience. Credit: Deltec Homes

One of Deltec’s designs has rounded walls for hurricane resilience. Credit: Deltec Homes

Prefabricated homes are manufactured in a factory then assembled on-site. In this controlled indoor setting, builders avoid weather that could harm building materials or slow construction time. Windows and corners can be made to fit together more precisely, boosting energy efficiency. And there’s potential to manufacture homes by the hundreds, rather than one at a time.

Cost Comparison for Zero-Energy Modular Homes

Deltec’s prefabricated zero-energy homes have thick walls that reduce the amount of energy lost through windows and cracks — where 25 to 40 percent of a typical home’s energy is wasted, Linton said. Usually, they’re built with passive solar and energy storage systems attached, or wired and oriented to be solar-ready for when a customer can afford to make the jump off-grid. The net-zero collection uses two-thirds less energy than a typical home, with the remaining third provided by solar or other renewable energy production.

“It’s built at a standard that’s going to essentially last for hundreds of years compared to decades for a stick-built home,” Linton said, adding that he hopes the recent hurricanes “wake people up to the realities of what we have to design against.”

Encouraging a Shift to Zero-Energy Homes

To catalyze the growth in energy efficient housing, there’s been a recent push for zero-energy building codes at both the state and city levels: California’s goal is to have all new residential buildings be net-zero by 2020; Massachusetts is requiring all new buildings to be 100 percent net-zero-energy and existing buildings to cut emissions by half by 2030.

Meeting these ambitious climate goals will take an economic and cultural shift, industry experts say. For instance, banks have to be willing to offer home loans to cover the upfront costs of net-zero-energy development, said Joe Emerson, founder of nonprofit Zero Energy Project. Better incentives for rooftop solar and cheaper energy storage will also help make net-zero-energy homes an affordable option.

“It’s absolutely possible to do this in coastal regions and hurricane and earthquake regions,” Sankaran said. “It’s not rocket science, it just needs to be part of the process.”


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UPCOMING EVENT

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Those 3% of scientific papers that deny climate change? A review found them all flawed

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Hard to deny (Reuters/Stringer)

It’s often said that of all the published scientific research on climate change, 97% of the papers conclude that global warming is real, problematic for the planet, and has been exacerbated by human activity.

But what about those 3% of papers that reach contrary conclusions? Some skeptics have suggested that the authors of studies indicating that climate change is not real, not harmful, or not man-made are bravely standing up for the truth, like maverick thinkers of the past. (Galileo is often invoked, though his fellow scientists mostly agreed with his conclusions—it was church leaders who tried to suppress them.)

Not so, according to a review published in the journal of Theoretical and Applied Climatology. The researchers tried to replicate the results of those 3% of papers—a common way to test scientific studies—and found biased, faulty results.

Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech University, worked with a team of researchers to look at the 38 papers published in peer-reviewed journals in the last decade that denied anthropogenic global warming.

“Every single one of those analyses had an error—in their assumptions, methodology, or analysis—that, when corrected, brought their results into line with the scientific consensus,” Hayhoe wrote in a Facebook post.

One of Hayhoe’s co-authors, Rasmus Benestad, an atmospheric scientist at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, built the program using the computer language R—which conveniently works on all computer platforms—to replicate each of the papers’ results and to try to understand how they reached their conclusions. Benestad’s program found that none of the papers had results that were replicable, at least not with generally accepted science.

Broadly, there were three main errors in the papers denying climate change. Many had cherry-picked the results that conveniently supported their conclusion, while ignoring other context or records. Then there were some that applied inappropriate “curve-fitting”—in which they would step farther and farther away from data until the points matched the curve of their choosing.

And of course, sometimes the papers just ignored physics altogether. “In many cases, shortcomings are due to insufficient model evaluation, leading to results that are not universally valid but rather are an artifact of a particular experimental setup,” the authors write.

Those who assert that these papers are correct while the other 97% are wrong are holding up science where the researchers had already decided what results they sought, the authors of the review say. Good science is objective—it doesn’t care what anyone wants the answers to be.

The review serves as an answer to the charge that the minority view on climate change has been consistently suppressed, wrote Hayhoe. “It’s a lot easier for someone to claim they’ve been suppressed than to admit that maybe they can’t find the scientific evidence to support their political ideology… They weren’t suppressed. They’re out there, where anyone can find them.” Indeed, the review raises the question of how these papers came to be published in the first place, when they used flawed methodology, which the rigorous peer-review process is designed to weed out.

In an article for the Guardian, one of the researchers, Dana Nuccitelli points out another red flag with the climate-change-denying papers: “There is no cohesive, consistent alternative theory to human-caused global warming,” he writes. “Some blame global warming on the sun, others on orbital cycles of other planets, others on ocean cycles, and so on. There is a 97% expert consensus on a cohesive theory that’s overwhelmingly supported by the scientific evidence, but the 2–3% of papers that reject that consensus are all over the map, even contradicting each other.”

The Galileo example is also instructive, Nuccitelli points out. The “father of observational science,” championed the astronomical model that the earth and other planets in our solar system revolve around the sun—a view that was eventually accepted almost universally as the truth. “If any of the contrarians were a modern-day Galileo, he would present a theory that’s supported by the scientific evidence and that’s not based on methodological errors,” he writes. “Such a sound theory would convince scientific experts, and a consensus would begin to form.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story refers to the review as new, when in fact it was published in 2015. It also used the wrong pronoun for Dana Nuccitelli.


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Door County Sustainability Fair 9-23-17

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Want to be a Vender at the Event?

Click on the application below:

2017 Sustainability Fair Vendor Application

2017 SUSTAINABLE FAIR WORKSHOPS

TIME PRESENTER WORKSHOP LOCATION
10:15AM Jason Fuller & Lori Jorgensen Carbon Cycle Consulting.   Lecture Hall
11:00AM Elizabeth Moriarty Natural Fermentation & Wild Brew Soda.   Lab
NOON Coleen Bins Corn Husk Dolls.   Lower Level Learning Center
1:00PM Crossroads Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.   Front Garden
2:00PM Elizabeth Moriarty Natural Fermentation & Wild Brew Soda.  Lab
3:00PM Coleen Bins Corn Husk Dolls.   Lower Level Learning Center

 

TIME PRESENTER WORKSHOP LOCATION
ALL DAY John Hippensteel SOLAR Demonstration Parking Lot
ALL DAY Wild Ones What is a native plant?   Front Garden
ALL DAY Steven Umentum Enviroscape Demo. Lobby of Main Building
ALL DAY Climate Change Coalition 1.  The Onion Earth.

2.  Air Quality.  

3.  Palm Oil.  

4.  Be the Change.  

 

Lobby of Main Building
3:00  Climate Change Coalition Movie:

A Time To Choose

Lower Level Learning Center

 

Upcoming Event! Earth Care: A Moral Imperative

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Registration Form PDF
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