Earth Matters: Envisioning a renewable world

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Earth Matters: Envisioning a renewable world
Dr. Hildur Palsdottir

By Dr. Hildur Palsdottir

The final of five live events in the Climate Action Series hosted by Landmark on Main Street and Transition Town Port Washington was titled “ENVISION 2030: Decarbonizing Our Community for a Sustainable Future.” Panelists shared successful transition stories from their communities and practical ways to reduce emissions and become more resilient towards a changing climate. If you missed these events, you can visit Landmark’s YouTube channel to find and enjoy the recordings.

TTPW is committed to assisting our community in the transition to cut emissions in line with President Biden, who declared this Earth Day that he aims to cut emissions by half by 2030. If you feel ready to support the transition away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy sources, you may wonder how to go about it.

First, we must align with the existential and ethical reasons for why we should transition and recognize the direct correlation between greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity and resulting warming climate. In a 2019 national survey by the Pew Research Center, 67 percent of Americans agreed that the federal government is doing too little to reduce the effects of climate change. Two-thirds agreed that we’re not doing enough to protect the environment. Indeed, in the last 50 years we’ve lost two-thirds of wildlife and 40 percent of plant species (we know of) and these numbers are increasing. With the majority of Americans having acknowledged the causes of the climate crisis and demanding governmental support to meet this crisis, where do we go from here?

We must fearlessly examine where we’re at today in order to find the moral incentive to make the necessary changes. We are now measuring above 400 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere, higher levels than at any point in the last 800,000 years. You may wonder what your personal contribution to emissions is. There’s a way to measure your exhaust, commonly referred to as a carbon footprint – a metric expressed as the greenhouse gas equivalent caused by an individual, event, organization, service, place or product. If we understand where we’re at today, we can better guide our choices towards reducing our footprint.

TTPW has partnered with Cure100 (Communities United to Reduce Emissions 100%) which have committed to cut emissions by 100 percent by 2040. Cure100 designed an application to help you calculate your carbon footprint. Visit https://www.transitiontownpw.org/ttpw100 and connect with TTPW volunteers to learn how to use it.

Having acknowledged where we’re at, we take action in cutting emissions and aim to keep it that way. This will require not just personal investment, but also large-scale systemic changes from the government, businesses and industry. Clean energy isn’t hard to find, but the willingness to invest in this transition seems to be the main obstacle. Thankfully will power itself is a renewable resource. With current governmental support we can now wake up to a new dawn, a world that promises a renewable future. Sunlight is a free energy source that drives life on Earth and is now powering my home. Alternatively, wind and waves offer some support, and there are steady supplies right beneath our feet in geothermal energy.

Lastly, to curb this crisis, we can’t just settle for less output going forward, we must also actively capture carbon and keep it in the ground. It turns out some greenhouse gases are long-lived; carbon dioxide released today will continue warming our planet for decades to come. Regenerative farmers know that working with the land to sequester carbon is the cure to the climate crisis.

Regenerating the soil that protects and feeds life on our planet is a critical component in reversing the climate crisis. This includes reversing the degradation of topsoil, providing food security for all, lowering agriculture-related emissions and sequestering carbon in the process. That is a climate action future for all.

The Soil Health and Climate Resiliency Act was introduced in February 2021 in New York state by Sen. Michelle Hinchey (D-Saugerties), Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D-Binghamton), and co-sponsor Assemblywoman Didi Barrett (D-Hudson).

We have until June 10 to pass the Soil Health and Climate Resiliency Act. Please contact your New York state representatives in the Assembly and Senate and encourage them to vote for S4722 in the Senate.

This groundbreaking (or rather ground-making) legislation serves as an incentive for our farmers to improve soil health and create long-lasting conditions for cleaning the air of carbon, offer protection to soil biodiversity and sustain our food supplies. Climate resilient farmers reduce emissions, responsibly manage water and sequester carbon in the process.

Wouldn’t you like to eat food that doesn’t cause climate change, but actually reverses it?

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