And Now, For Some 2020 Good Climate News

Get Ready to Make a New Year’s Climate Pledge

Looking for some good news on climate?  Get ready to set some priorities and make some 2021 New Year’s Climate Resolutions.

Recently @GlobalEcoGuy Dr. Jon Foley reminded me (and 60k followers) about the big picture.  Our actions, consumer choices, and habits matter. 

I find clarity in Jon’s blogs about climate.  I’m inspired by his prioritizing solutions including a Personal Action Guide.    And I trust his science.  It is Drawdown science, and Jon is their executive director. 

Jon has clearly stated that to reach drawdown, where greenhouse gas emissions stop climbing and start to draw down, we have to do two things:

  1. stop sending it up 
  2. start sinking it down

“It” being human-generated greenhouse gas emissions.

Look, maybe alot of us don’t know where to focus our efforts, he says, because we literally cannot see what we’re talking about. And then he give us a graph, three actually, in his Three Most Important Graphs in Climate Change

That’s my cue. That’s how I’m going to prioritize my actions and efforts — by using his graph, starting at the top, with a laser focus on the big first two, they are half the problem.  So first Electricity Generation, then Food/Land Use.  Third, fourth and fifth for me will be Industry, Transportation, and Buildings.

And, from the news I’ve been reading this year, it looks like entrepreneurs and governments are jumping into action finally, finally, in ways that will redirect us all from an irreversible, irreparable, climate, wildlife and human life catastrophe.

Electricity Generation – good news

  • 2020 State and Local Ballot Measures Advancing the Energy Transition
  • Here’s a roundup of the Top 11 Clean Energy Developments of 2020
  • The Biggie: We’re rejoining Paris!
  • My Electricity New Year’s Resolution 
  • switch every bulb to LED – I think I did already, but I’m checking again 
  • stop sending it up— turn off, unplug, use less (like the dryer, cd player, anything electric)
  • we installed solar on my mother’s roof, but ours is too shady.  We’d really like a rooftop wind-powered generator, maybe that will be invented soon. 

Food/Land Use – good news

Why are we letting our food choices have such a big impact on the planet? Emitting 24% of greenhouse gases?  The US is one of the most polluting countries due to lifestyle and food choices. These are our choices.

The solution-by-solution path to reversing global warming, outlined in the book Drawdown, lists food solutions as #3 and #4 out of 80.   #3 is reducing food waste, with 1/3 wasted from farm to sale and 70% wasted by households at a cost of $1500 per family a year. If Americans reduced our food waste by 50% we would achieve Drawdown’s goals in the food sector.  Hey, it saves money.  Next is #4 — eating a plant-rich diet and keeping our CAFO red meat to once a week.  Hey, it’s much healthier. Much.

Good to see this trend is happening — products and markets want in on reducing food waste. 

  • Supermarkets Moving Toward Zero Food Waste (and they are responsible for 10% of all U.S. food waste
  • Two Good Yogurt Addresses Food Waste by Launching New Product Line Utilizing Verified Rescued Produce™ in Partnership with Full Harvest
  • Streamlined menus, clean-label food, and umami top the food prediction list for 2021.
  • My Food/Land Use New Year’s Resolution 
  • reduce my food waste better than 50% – I’m going for zero, saving tons by making soups and stocks, and composting what’s left – nothing to the landfill!
  • cooking more with nuts, pun intended, protein-rich fish, shellfish — anything but CAFOs 
  • buying local and reaping all the deliciously-ripe-in-season and fresh-healthy-traceable advantages and benefits
  • stop sending it up — lowering food miles, less plastic packaging, using what I buy, no food to landfills where it just becomes methane
  • start sinking it down— with a backyard compost, keeping an herb garden, going for an all-clover lawn, planting native trees.

Transportation – good news

With electric vehicles we’re starting to make some headway and when EV’s become cheaper than gas in 2 years! the transportation sector is going to make a dramatic shift.

  • Electric Cars Are Estimated to Be Cheaper Than Regular Cars by 2022
  • My Transportation New Year’s Resolution 
  • make a 2 year plan that includes trading our VW in for an EV.
  • lower carbon miles on everything — from fish to Christmas gifts — make it all local. (OK, maybe NYS or within 500 miles)

Industry – good news

There are good news trends in the fashion industry.  They have noticed that we have all noticed — they produce 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions, are the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply, and pollute the oceans with microplastics. The equivalent of one garbage truck full of clothes is burned or dumped in a landfill every second.

  • My Industry New Year’s Resolution 
  • Paul Hawken, founder of Drawdown, said that the magic new-purchase-number is 6.  In other words if we all limit our new purchases to 6 a year, we would reach drawdown in the Industry sector.  My resolution — buy thrift, consignment, recycled, reused, no fast fashion that destroys the planet. 
  • stop sending it up — recycle, give and get from thrift shops.
  • start sinking in down — be on the lookout for regenerative fashion — something that actually helps to regenerate the planet. 

And I’ve saved the best of 2020 for last….

Bee populations are rebounding, up 72% in Maine and that matters to me, besides loving bees in my garden, they pollinate over 100 foods we eat, and have medicinal properties. New research is finding finding Honeybee venom kills aggressive breast cancer cells.

Two newborn whales were spotted off the Florida coast, giving a lift to the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale population, and while you may not be a whale-hugger like some of us, whales boost phytoplankton populations which store 40% of the world’s CO2 and contribute 50% of our oxygen. We need to triple our whale populations!

More on oceans and the arctic: Ocean Cleanup’s efforts to remove plastic from the seas launched this year and Garbage has never looked as cool as these Pacific Garbage Patch sunglasses designed by Yves Behar. One of many new products being designed from recycled plastic. Bank of America promises it won’t fund arctic drilling, joining 5 other major US banks and nearly 30 major banks around the world making it official policy to refrain from financing drilling in the arctic.

And after 12 years of effort, we’ve saved our environmental treasure Plum Island  —  historically Algonquin territory with 227 bird species counted, coastal waters of rare seagrass meadows/fish nurseries and host to grey and harbor seals.  Another step toward reversing our climate and wildlife catastrophe.  East End take a bow. 

May this inspire us all to start good climate lifestyle habits. What’s your Climate New Year’s Resolution?

Happy 2021!

About Mary Foster Morgan

Co-founder, Drawdown East End (DrawdownEastEnd.org), a grass roots group with a mission to inspire our community to actively engage in solutions that reduce greenhouse gases and achieve drawdown. Formerly executive director of the Guggenheim Learning Through Art program in New York, Mary moved from art to science -- working with the Cornell Marine Program on the North Fork helping to launch a community-based aquaculture training and restoration effort (SPAT), and to local food -- helping launch Slow Food East End. Mary has deep roots in the East End, for generations her family lived and farmed in East Hampton. She currently lives in Orient.
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