Eversource is reported to have manipulated natural gas markets, restricting the use of existing pipelines even as they have argued that we need to build more pipelines. What gives? At the same time, Boston is vying for the prize of Amazon’s new headquarters. What would the arrival of another corporate behemoth mean for the clean and sustainable development of our city? Listen in as we contemplate the implications!

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Hurricane Maria slammed into the island of Puerto Rico, an American protectorate, a few weeks ago. While it is no longer making the top news headlines, the island is still in profound distress. Over fifty percent of the people are without clean water and eighty to ninety percent lack electricity for basic needs, let alone communication via cellphones or news access. Puerto Rico had an old, fragile electrical system, and when the hurricane came through it knocked everything down. In a world trying to stop climate change, the island of Puerto Rico is an opportunity to rebuild in a sustainable way. Elon Musk, CEO and founder of Tesla,is in negotiations with Puerto Rico’s governor Ricardo Rosselló to revamp the island’s power grid using solar technology. Musk has rebuilt many smaller islands around the world using renewable energy technologies and says that the processis scalable. We discuss distributed generation—a system of electricity generation that relies on several small systems spread throughout a region vs. one central power station. To restore electricity to Puerto Rico, distributed generation could be coupled with solar and wind power as well as Tesla’s Powerwall battery systems, several of which have already been supplied to Puerto Rico by Musk. Guest speaker Carol Oldham, Executive Director of Massachusetts Climate Action Network, joins the podcast to discuss community choice aggregation and the potential for Boston to implement this as a power option. Listen in for more detail!

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The malevolent administrator of the EPA announced his intent to replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan with a different plan that he will dream up at a later date. Listen in as we discuss.

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This week, two heartening events occurred. The Boston City Council approved a plan for the city to buy its power under a ‘community aggregation’ model that will allow the use of green energy. Also, auto behemoth General Motors has committed to an all electric future. Listen in!

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Question: What do the Las Vegas shooting and this season’s hurricanes have in common? Answer: It is always too soon to discuss the ‘politics’ until it is too late to bother. The common refrain to ‘be sensitive to the victims’ following disasters needs to be challenged. In the immediate aftermath of these events, we can and should focus on the causes and possible responses. One way to do that is to propose bold new ideas, and allow them to move to the mainstream of our national discussion. Listen in!

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We take a deep dive on a recent controversial article in Nature Geoscience. It suggests that we have more time and thus a more realistic chance of keeping global temperatures in check. While climate deniers are holding the article up as proof that environmentalists exaggerate the concern over climate science, it turns out—the concern and urgency is still very real. This article, however, gives us significantly more hope. The basic difference is that prior estimates gave us only a decade to limit global warming temperatures to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels; the new analysis in the article indicates that we have forty years. The authors say that forty years makes the transition formidable, but not inconceivable. Prior to this research, the climate community thought we needed to get to zero in just a few years. That seemed impossible, especially given the current administration’s lack of climate initiative. If this new analysis is correct, there is a chance, though we still need to work like mad to get it done in time. The uncertainty in the science is inevitable. There is a three-fold uncertainty range in the true sensitivity of global temperatures to the greenhouse gases that cause warming. This article uses a better account of past emissions and human-induced warming to predict a forty-year window. Let’s hope this is good news for our work! Tune in for more.

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Climate-assisted hurricanes Irma and Maria have devastated the lives of American citizens in Puerto Rico. Reports tell of an entire American island of three million people without either power or fresh water some six days after the storm. This circumstance has set up a test of our national character. Will we turn our backs on our own citizens, or will we meet the challenge of new climate driven weather patterns? Listen in as we discuss.

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This was a big week for climate news! Cities are leading the way to curb dangerous fossil fuel emissions. Two cities in California, San Francisco and Oakland, are suing five major oil companies to recoup the damage inflicted on their cities by carbon pollution. After the devastation following climate assisted hurricanes Irma and Harvey, we can’t help but wonder - will the cities of Houston and Florida decide to jump on this bandwagon? Boston’s Mayor Marty Walsh announced that the international climate change conference will be held in Beantown sometime in 2018, likely close to the US Conference of Mayors in June.

An article in Commonwealth Magazine discussed the importance of framing, specifically as it relates to carbon pricing. Thoughtful framing has a dramatic effect on how people will perceive carbon pricing and whether they will support it. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) reaped many benefits from their carbon pricing approach, and are ratcheting up their efforts to reduce 132 million tons of carbon by 2030; RGGI has already reduced their emissions by 40 percent over the last nine years. There is bi-partisan support for carbon pricing at the federal level, but history has shown that this support can be wishy-washy, so we are not holding our breath.

The lobbying day on September 19, 2017 was a great success. Thank you to all of those that supported the event!

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Listen in as we discuss the global warming news of the week!

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As our nation contemplates the rebuilding of Houston and South Florida, what principles of sustainability and clean energy should be included? The price tag will be discussed as trillions. Is this a time to push new ways of thinking? Listen in.

 

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