Last week’s storm gave Boston a little taste of the bitter circumstances in Puerto Rico. We ask how the island can be rebuilt in a sustainable model, especially with the departure of Whitefish Energy Holdings. On a different island, New Zealand considers offering a home to climate refugees. Back in Boston, we consider the implications of a hurricane in Boston proper. Listen in.

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Hard to believe that Hurricane Sandy was five years ago this week. On today’s podcast, we discuss how the devastation from that storm broke the media silence on climate change—and the media seesaw we have been on since then. We celebrate the technical advances in solar and wind power, which have marched forward despite the political obstacles. Ever vigilant toward the continued tragedy in Puerto Rico, we examine the renewable energy access provided to the American protectorate by Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla; and dissect the sketchy deal happening with Whitefish Energy Holdings out of Montana. On an optimistic note, we turn toward the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) in Massachusetts and its recent discussions to reduce transportation emissions. Governor Charlie Baker will be holding listening sessions—an excellent opportunity for climate hawks to have their ideas heard!

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How should we react to the present and future devastation of climate change, and our President’s abject failure to act? What should we do to maintain our spirit and drive? While we mangle a few quotes on the way, it seems Alice Walker sums it up saying “Activism is the rent I pay to live on the planet.” There are no easy answers, but we discuss. What do you think?

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What is the “necessity defense,” why does it matter, and how is under threat? On the flip side, how concerned should we be about the rising popularity of companies using federal racketeering laws to silence opponents? This week we answered these questions in detail. Here is a sneak peek – the necessity defense, alongside the public trust doctrine, are legal constructs that climate hawks should know. Concerned citizens and groups may be able to use these overarching legal principles as mechanisms for making progress on climate issues in the court systems. The necessity defense hinges on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Endangerment Finding, which defines carbon dioxide as a toxic air pollutant. This finding is under threat, with high-powered climate deniers claiming it overreaches and is curtailing economic growth. The Endangerment finding is the backbone for protecting public health from carbon dioxide. The power of the vote is on the horizon. Get involved and add to the blizzard of response that we need to keep the legal system protecting the people.

 

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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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