Posts Tagged ‘Climate’

by Rima Mulla, Communications Manager, Second Nature

Found, in the Second Nature archives, evidence that our organizational website once reflected the critical and pivotal nature of our work:

Vice President Gore on the 1998 Second Nature Website
Vice President Al Gore loved it…in 1998.

Vote daily for Second Nature in the Carrots for a Cause contest.
Multiply your vote by recruiting colleagues and friends to support us.

We really need to bring our website up to 2012 standards. Thank you!

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By Dianne Dumanoski, Author and Environmental Journalist
(This article appears in the July, 2011 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The ACUPCCDownload the PDF of the briefing paper.

Even for scientists, the challenge of global warming can be mind-boggling and complex, but the bottom line is both simple and clear. The change is already under way and hitting harder and faster than expected.[1] And what is ultimately at stake is the human way of life we call civilization.

Despite two decades of research and debate, the notion persists that climate disruption is primarily an environmental hazard — a dangerous misconception that continues to be widely perpetuated by those who urge action on climate change to “save the planet.” This plea, repeated even by Nobel laureates and editorial writers in the New York Times, belies the true nature of the danger. Based on what scientists now know about our planet’s eventful history, it is a safe bet that Earth itself will survive fossil fuels and industrial civilization just as it has endured previous calamities —asteroid hits, a catastrophic oxygen pollution crisis, and even the deep freeze of “snowball Earth”.

The urgent question, therefore, is not whether the Earth can survive a different climate, but rather what the changes ahead may mean to human societies. Media coverage of global warming and Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth have highlighted the physical hazards of extreme weather, melting ice sheets, rising seas, and the eventual loss of low-lying areas and coastal cities. But climate disruption poses other grave hazards as well, which may send our societies and the global economy reeling into chaos long before our coastal cities are lost to rising seas. Whatever else is in jeopardy, this is first and foremost a crisis for humans and our current civilization.


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By Nick Braica, Communications Intern, Second Nature

Coming in February, Carbon Nation is “a climate change solutions movie that doesn’t even care if you believe in climate change.” The documentary explores the impact that climate change has on other social, economic, and national security issues, even if you refuse to believe that climate change is something to be concerned about. Carbon Nation also features former CIA director and 2010 ACUPCC Climate Leadership Summit keynote speaker James Woolsey discussing how our nation’s addiction to oil and how it is threatening our national security.

Visit the official movie website at CarbonNation.com to support and learn more about the film.

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Dickinson College receives Second Nature’s 1st Annual Climate Leadership Award for Institutional Excellence in Climate Leadership. Award recipients were recognized at the 4th Annual American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) Summit in Denver, CO on October 12th.

Dickinson College’s Climate Action Plan aims to attain climate neutrality by 2020. Current efforts include the conversion of the central energy plant boilers to burn Viesel, a net-zero carbon biofuel made from filtered waste vegetable oil. The college purchases renewable wind energy credits equivalent to 100% of annual electricity consumption and has installed 84 kilowatts of solar photovoltaics with student assistance and produces 50-100 gallons of biodiesel per week from waste vegetable oil in student run biodiesel shop.

In 2009, Dickinson was awarded a grant from NASA to lead a 3-year project that will train faculty from Dickinson and 10 other colleges and universities to teach about climate change. The NASA funded project is part of a broader initiative to integrate sustainability throughout the Dickinson curriculum, facilitated by the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education (CESE). CESE also participates in a national project of the NCSE that is developing materials for teaching about climate change and in a State of Pennsylvania working group to plan for climate change adaptation.

Dickinson offers a number of courses on climate change and has hosted numerous climate change events, including Focus the Nation, 350.org Day of Action, Climate Conversations Week, and COP15 at Dickinson. Fifteen students attended COP15 as part of a yearlong course “From Kyoto to Copenhagen,” where they interviewed conference delegates for a research project. The students shared their work and experience through organized campus and community events, presented a paper at a Penn State University conference, and participated in a national AASHE webinar.

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The University of Pennsylvania receives Second Nature’s 1st Annual Climate Leadership Award for Institutional Excellence in Climate Leadership. Award recipients were recognized at the 4th Annual American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) Summit in Denver, CO on October 12th.

University of Pennsylvania (Penn), President Amy Gutmann champions the environmental efforts and provides senior leadership that complements the grassroots efforts of an engaged campus community. An extensive network of students, faculty, and staff known as the Penn Green Campus Partnership is an umbrella group created to foster a culture of sustainability. For two years, an advisory committee of over 40 campus constituents, led by the Vice President of Facilities, collaborated to produce the Climate Action Plan, an ambitious outline of strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition to the strategies outlined in Penn’s CAP, the university has long emphasized sustainability in its academic mission including but not limited to:

  • The T.C. Chan Center, a partnership with Tsinghua University, brings together students and international experts to research and develop strategies for sustainable environments and high-performance, energy-efficient buildings.
  • Ideas in Action’ courses allow for students to propose projects to senior administrators on the best methods for advancing the University’s sustainability goals.
  • The Office of the Provost created a new sustainability minor and specialized sustainability tracks within several schools, in addition to a series of workshops for faculty.
  • PennGreen, a pre-orientation program offered to incoming freshmen, and provides students with an environmental introduction to Penn and Philadelphia.
  • The Penn Eco-Reps program includes all student college houses and over 100 faculty and staff volunteers who participate in monthly workshops to improve the sustainability of their workplaces and dorms.
  • The Penn Connects campus development plan will increase the amount of green space by over 20%, convert parking lots to parkland, mitigate stormwater runoff, and reduce urban heat island effect.
  • An Energy Reduction Fund has been established to provide schools and centers with incentives to pursue conservation projects.
  • Penn is the largest purchaser of green power among American universities, with over 192,000 megawatts (46 percent of total power used) of wind energy purchased annually.
  • Penn formed the largest university car-sharing program in the country with PhillyCarShare, a 50,000-member nonprofit organization.
  • The Penn Green Fund seeds innovative ideas in sustainability with one-time grants of as much as $50,000.

To learn more about the University’s environmental sustainability initiatives, visit the Penn Green Campus Partnership website.

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University of Montana President, George Dennsion receives Second Nature’s 1st Annual Climate Leadership Award for Outstanding Individual Climate Leadership. Award recipients were recognized at the 4th Annual American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment Summit in Denver, CO on October 12th.

President Dennison has referred to climate change as “the leading global issue of our time” and has shown tremendous leadership in making the University of Montana (UM) a model for sustainability.  On Earth Day 2002, President Dennison signed the Talloires Declaration, rededicating UM to promoting sustainable development and social justice on local, state, national, and global levels. In the same year, President Dennison appointed the Sustainable Campus Committee to guide and document efforts by UM and by campus groups to achieve the goals of the Talloires Declaration.  President Dennison charged the SCC with developing an annual State of the Sustainable UM Campus report to be delivered each Earth Day.  In 2007, President Dennison signed American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) as a charter signatory and in 2009 he endorsed a Climate Action Plan that sets the UM’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2020.

To support these actions, President Dennison has backed the formalization of the Office of Sustainability with the addition of a full-time director, a student-driven Sustainability Center, and student experiential learning opportunities in the UM Forum for Living with Appropriate Technology (FLAT). The FLAT is university-owned housing that students are retrofitting as an example of energy-efficient and sustainable living. UM offers a minor in Climate Change Studies that is available to all disciplines and the UM Green Thread faculty development program works to incorporate sustainability into curriculum. Green Thread is offered to faculty of any discipline and is open to educators from other universities in the Montana region.

More recently, President Dennison saw through the development of UM’s 1st ‘green’ building. The Payne Family Native American Center is the first of its kind in the nation and will achieve USGBC LEED Gold status.

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Unity College Sustainability Coordinator, Jesse Pyles receives Second Nature’s 1st Annual Climate Leadership Award for Outstanding Individual Climate Leadership. Award recipients were recognized at the 4th Annual American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment Summit in Denver, CO on October 12th.

As the Sustainability Coordinator for Unity College, Mr. Pyles focuses on mobilizing student sustainability efforts on campus, and is coordinating the College’s climate action planning process. Among other things, he oversees campus waste, food-growing, and energy assessment work. He sits on the College’s planning and budget committees, is a member of the academic Center for Sustainability and Global Change, and reports directly to President Mitchell Thomashow. Mr. Pyles’ 2010 Sustainability Team includes Dr. Anne Stephenson, a Rocky Mountain Institute Sustainability Fellow, who is focusing on emissions mitigation strategies in campus buildings as well as numerous work-study students working in the areas of recycling, compost, food production, media outreach, and campus buildings.

Mr. Pyles recently completed a road trip along with a group of Unity students and 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben that returned one of President Jimmy Carter’s solar panels back to the White House. The goal of this effort was to encourage President Obama to reinstall solar atop the White House as part of 350.org’s 10/10/10 Global Work Party, and to follow this symbolic gesture with substantial legislative action.

Sustainability is built into the mission of Unity College – it is Mr. Pyles job to help the campus Think Sustainably, Work Sustainably, and Live Sustainably.

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