Climate Change | WAMC

Climate Change

Two people examine a stream from the top of a paved outcropping in the woods
Josh Landes / WAMC

Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Kathleen A. Theoharides was in Western Massachusetts this week as part of a statewide tour for Climate Week. Governor Charlie Baker’s administration is rolling out three new initiatives, including $11 million in new spending on climate change preparedness programs and over $800,000 on culvert projects.

The massive fires on the West Coast are unprecedented in both their size and impact.  An area larger than the size of New Jersey is now burning in California, Oregon, and Washington.  Those fires continue to rage and the death toll continues to rise.  Hundreds of thousands of Americans are poised to flee their homes as the dangers grow. 

In "The Future We Choose," Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac, who led negotiations for the United Nations during the historic Paris Agreement of 2015, have written a cautionary but optimistic book about the world's changing climate and the fate of humanity.

The authors outline two possible scenarios for our planet. In one, they describe what life on Earth will be like by 2050 if we fail to meet the Paris climate targets. In the other, they lay out what it will be like to live in a carbon neutral, regenerative world.

Tom Rivett-Carnac joined us.

Hurricanes menace North America from June through November every year, each as powerful as 10,000 nuclear bombs. These megastorms will likely become more intense as the planet continues to warm, yet we too often treat them as local disasters and TV spectacles, unaware of how far-ranging their impact can be.

As best-selling historian Eric Jay Dolin contends, we must look to our nation’s past if we hope to comprehend the consequences of the hurricanes of the future.

In his new book "A Furious Sky,"  Dolin has created a vivid, sprawling account of our encounters with hurricanes, from the nameless storms that threatened Columbus’s New World voyages to the destruction wrought in Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria.

With catastrophic global warming already baked into the climate system, today's children face a future entirely unlike that of their parents. How can we maintain hope and make a difference in the face of overwhelming evidence of the climate crisis?

Harriet Sugarman, Executive Director of Climate Mama, Professor of Global Climate Change Policy and World Sustainability, and Chair of the Climate Reality Project is the author of the new book, "How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change," which provides tools and strategies for parents to explain the climate emergency to their kids and galvanize positive action.

Joe Donahue:  In an isolated estate on the Atlantic coast storms are brewing, waters are rising, and the world as we know it is inexorably shifting. This is the reality of Lydia Millet’s new novel, “A Children's Bible”, where a pack of kids and their middle aged parents are coexisting at this summer estate. The novel turns steadily darker as climate collapse and societal breakdown encroach. Millet is a senior editor at the Center for Biological Diversity, who regularly tackles environmental issues in her op-eds for the “New York Times”. She has long foregrounded the costs of climate change in her fiction, and “A Children's Bible” with scenes of quarantine and societal breakdown is no different. She has written 12 works of fiction including “Sweet Lamb of Heaven”, “Mermaids in Paradise” and “Love in Infant Monkeys”. 

Joe Donahue: People prepared for the worst, but they didn't always comprehend how awful the worst could be. The campfire in November 2018, was the deadliest wildfire in America in a century, and the deadliest ever recorded in California history. It burned the town of Paradise, home to 27,000 to the ground, and it was a harbinger of fires to come. In the new book “Fire in Paradise: An American Tragedy”, reporters Alastair Gee and Dani Anguiano of The Guardian tell the story of the destruction wrought by the campfire, creating an account of how the fire happened and why fires like it will happen again. The name of the book is “Fire in Paradise“. 

        The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond.

Today's panelists are:

WAMC's Alan Chartock

Judith Enck - Senior Fellow and Visiting Professor at Bennington College, Founder of Beyond Plastics, former EPA regional administrator.

Jeff Goodell - is a long-time contributing editor at Rolling Stone, where he has been writing about climate change for more than a decade. His most recent book is The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World. Earlier this month he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Elizabeth Kolbert - has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1999 and won a Pulitzer Prize for her book, "The Sixth Extinction."

Jenny Offill's new novel, "Weather," is about a family, and a nation, in crisis.

Lizzie Benson slid into her job as a librarian without a traditional degree, but this gives her a vantage point from which to practice her other calling: she is a fake shrink which sees her advice grow increasingly apocalyptic and unhinged.

Blair Horner: New York's "Green New Deal" Begins

Mar 2, 2020

Last year, Governor Cuomo and state lawmakers agreed on ambitious goals to show the nation how to attack the climate crisis here in our own backyard.  It is well-established that the burning of oil, coal and gas has triggered global warming that threatens our habitat.

Dr. James Hansen
https://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/

**We weren't able to conduct the scheduled interview with Dr. James Hansen but leave this post on our site to provide information about the summit.**

The Woodstock Day School and the Ashokan Center have teamed up to co-sponsor The Youth Empowerment & Sustainability Summit (YESS!); a global climate solution and leadership summit for young people who are ready to change their lives and their communities by working towards climate resilience.

The three-day summit is designed to empower students from middle school through college by teaching them to develop solutions-based thinking and civic engagement skills.

Dr. James Hansen, the renowned climate scientist who was among the first to sound the alarm of global climate change.

He delivered the summit’s keynote address this morning at Ashokan Center and tonight he’ll present a “Catskill Conversations” talk sponsored by the Ashokan Center at Kingston High School at 7 p.m. Tonight’s talk is open to the public.

One of two new electric buses joining Burlington's transit fleet
Pat Bradley/WAMC

Vermont officials met at the Green Mountain Transit central garage in Burlington Tuesday afternoon to unveil the city’s first two electric buses that will be deployed for commuter transit.

Vermont Statehouse
Pat Bradley/WAMC

Nearly 30 advocacy organizations outlined a 2020 Climate Action Plan at the Vermont Statehouse this week. The groups say the proposed polices would enact critical environmental policies while strengthening Vermont’s economy.

Ben Downing: Time To Double Down

Jan 16, 2020

In 2008, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (CEC) was created to help develop the solutions, markets and companies to help solve climate change. The hope was Mass would capture the economic benefits of reducing our impact on climate change. The CEC has done just that, supporting the growth of the clean energy industry to 111,836 jobs and helping Mass begin to meet its climate goals. Despite these successes, the future of the CEC is in question, while its mission is more important than ever. 

Photograph of the Earth taken on December 7, 1972, by the crew of the Apollo 17
Public Domain / NASA

Last year was the second-hottest year on record. That was the conclusion at the 100th American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting in Boston, where experts from NASA and NOAA discussed major climate trends detailed in an annual assessment of global temperatures.

As humanity marches on, causing mass extinctions and destabilizing the climate, the future of Earth will very much reflect the stories that Homo sapiens decides to jettison or accept today into our collective identity. At this pivotal moment in history, the most important story we can be telling ourselves is that humans are not inherently destructive.

In "Changing Tides" Alejandro Frid tackles the big questions: who, or what, represents our essential selves, and what stories might allow us to shift the collective psyche of industrial civilization in time to avert the worst of the climate and biodiversity crises?

This week, three Vermont environmental groups outlined climate priorities they believe the Vermont Legislature should consider this session.

The world’s leaders met in Madrid to discuss new steps to combat the threat posed by global warming.  The Conference was convened by the United Nations two weeks ago and finished its work with far too little progress toward curbing a rapidly heating planet.  The Conference wrapped up with a modest agreement, too weak to have any effect on the warming of the planet – a warming that is heating up at a pace that exceeds even the direst predictions from a few years ago.

Bill McKibben
Nancie Battaglia

Author, environmentalist, and activist Bill McKibben will give the Annual Elizabeth and Lawrence Vadnais Environmental Issues Lecture at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, Massachusetts on Thursday, December 5 at 7 p.m.

His 1989 book “The End of Nature” is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change. He is a founder of 350.org, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement, which has organized twenty thousand rallies around the world in every country except North Korea.

The Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, McKibben was the 2013 winner of the Gandhi Prize and the Thomas Merton Prize.

His most recent book “Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?” was published by Macmillan in April.

University at Albany

A three-day conference is underway at the University at Albany on how higher education can help in the preparation, response and recovery from events caused by climate change and extreme weather. RISE 2019, organized by the State and City Universities of New York, includes 90 institutions of higher education along with community leaders and government officials. 

Hudson Valley Vegfest debuted in September of 2017. This year’s Vegfest will take place at BSP in Kingston, New York October 19 and 20 and will feature food vendors, plant-based and innovative products, animal rescues and advocates, educational speakers, films, environmentally friendly businesses, and music, art and poetry of vegan artists.

All proceeds from the two-day event will support the work and growth of The Institute for Animal Happiness in Woodstock, New York.

We are joined by Founder of Hudson Valley Vegfest and Founder of the Institute For Animal Happiness Rebecca Moore and Co-Producer of Hudson Valley Vegfest and Co-Founder of the Institute For Animal Happiness Brian Normoyle.

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger proposes a statewide carbon fee
Pat Bradley/WAMC

Burlington, Vermont’s mayor is proposing a statewide carbon fee that he says would be revenue-neutral and would significantly cut the state’s emissions by 2040.

The United Nations’ Climate Action Week wrapped up with intense speeches, promises and emotional pleas for action.  Here in New York, the battle over how best to respond to the unfolding climate catastrophe is intensifying.

Green leaf with a yellow edge photographed against a black background
Christopher Griffith

LightField Arts aims to use the power of visual art to illuminate environmental and social issues. The organization mounts an annual exhibit in Hudson, New York that showcases the work of photographers and multimedia artists through exhibitions, moderated talks, and educational outreach.

This year’s exhibition is “Photo + Synthesis” and for it, LightField Arts has chosen seven artists to make or exhibit work focusing on the Hudson River Valley and climate change. Alongside these works, LightField exhibits the art produced in its annual Young Photographers Workshop.

We are joined by LightField Arts Director and President Anna Van Lenten and Vice President Saskia Kahn. Kahn runs the Young Photographers Workshop.

LightField Arts “Photo + Synthesis” Opening is this Saturday, October 12 from 5-7pm at Hudson Hall in Hudson, New York. The exhibition is on display through December 21.

Ben Downing: Tiny Ripples Of Hope

Oct 7, 2019

In a speech to students in apartheid South Africa, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy declared, “this world demands the qualities of youth.” As I walked around the Boston Climate Strike last week, I heard those words over and over in my head. I heard those words and thought of the audacity of Greta Thunberg, fed up with adults doing nothing on climate change and choosing to do the opposite. A single teenager on strike, became 6 million people marching across the world. Six million of the “tiny ripples of hope” Kennedy would refer to later in the same speech.  

WAMC, Allison Dunne

New York Congressman Antonio Delgado has his own ideas for addressing climate change. He does not support wide-ranging Green New Deal legislation introduced in February by fellow Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. And that had a few who attended his town hall Tuesday night in Dutchess County wondering why.

Dr. Alan Chartock
Eric Korenman

WAMC's Dr. Alan Chartock discusses the transcript of President Trump's July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and reports that Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire is expected to appear before Congress regarding the recent whistleblower complaint against Trump. 

Josh Landes / WAMC

The Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts is holding a climate change preparedness forum Thursday evening.

Dr. Alan Chartock
Eric Korenman

WAMC's Dr. Alan Chartock discusses reports that President Trump ordered a hold on military aid to the Ukraine before calling the Ukrainian president to discuss former Vice President Joe Biden.

Gilbert M. Gaul has twice won the Pulitzer Prize and has been shortlisted for the Pulitzer four other times. For more than thirty-five years, he worked as an investigative journalist for The Washington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and other newspapers. He has reported on non-profit organizations, the business of college sports, homeland security, the black market for prescription drugs, and problems in the Medicare program.

In his new book "The Geography of Risk: Epic Storms, Rising Seas, and the Cost of America's Coasts," Gaul considers this: Five of the most expensive hurricanes in history have made landfall since 2005: Katrina ($160 billion), Ike ($40 billion), Sandy ($72 billion), Harvey ($125 billion), and Maria ($90 billion). With more property than ever in harm’s way, and the planet and oceans warming dangerously, it won’t be long before we see a $250 billion hurricane.

Why?

Because Americans have built $3 trillion worth of property in some of the riskiest places on earth: barrier islands and coastal floodplains. And they have been encouraged to do so by what Gaul reveals to be a confounding array of federal subsidies, tax breaks, low-interest loans, grants, and government flood insurance that shift the risk of life at the beach from private investors to public taxpayers, radically distorting common notions of risk.

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