Six reasons to feel stoked about climate action
September is here! We survived a hot, wildfire smoke-filled, dry summer. Heat records were broken across the world, from roads melting in India, to thousands of heat-related deaths in places like Pakistan, and wildfires in uncommon places, like Alaska. In terms of the climate headlines, summer has been a bit grim. The more tuned in you are, the more you may feel like you need a hug. But thankfully, fall is near. Hopefully, with the change of seasons we’ll feel some reprieve from drought and wildfire, while also being given a chance to reflect on the progress we’ve made. Here’s some positive climate news from the past month:
- Portland shines as a sustainability leader: In April, Portland adopted new rules requiring owners of commercial buildings over 20,000 square feet to track their energy use and report this information annually. This is seen as an important step in making our city more energy efficient. Buildings are the largest source of carbon emissions in Portland, and this policy will motivate investment in energy efficiency improvements. This month, the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability will finalize rules to implement this new ordinance. This is a concrete example (no pun intended) of something that helps make our city a leader in the climate movement, while creating an example for other cities to follow.
- Renewable energy #winning: In the last month, the price for wind power hit an all-time low and solar power became cheaper than natural gas. Now that clean energy is becoming increasingly affordable, companies and individuals are switching over in order to both save money and help safeguard a healthy, stable climate.
- Public records from another coal bankruptcy shed light on big coal’s dirty tactics: For years we’ve known that big oil and coal companies have actively worked to undermine clean air protections and block clean energy progress. The Guardian published an article recently to reveal a rare glimpse into the industry’s coordinated effort to create confusion around climate change, protect their profits, and even harass scientists urging for climate action. As The Guardian writes, “…the bankruptcy filings of Alpha Natural Resources, a large Virginia-based coal company, provide a rare window into the list of political and advocacy organizations the company has funded. According to the filing, …recipients include the Heartland Institute, which compared climate scientists to the Unabomber, the American Legislative Exchange Council and numerous others.” We’ve long suspected that big oil and big coal will stop at nothing to protect their profits, and now we have concrete evidence to not only confirm our suspicions, but reveal the details of their various tactics to undermine climate action, from harassing climate scientists to creating front groups, and more. Understanding this only helps further the climate movement, while showing the lengths these companies will go to prioritize profits over people.
- A hilarious video points out the ridiculousness of climate deniers: Okay so this may not be “good news” per se, but it’s too good to omit. Girl Pants Productions has created a hilarious video to point out how ridiculous climate deniers sound to normal people. It’s spot on and full of the comic relief to fuel your climate activism efforts for one more day. Watch here.
- Perhaps this has been the summer we woke up to the realities of climate change: Wildfires are no longer a seasonal phenomenon affecting only rural, sparsely populated areas; they are now a harsh climate reality that bring severe smoke and haze into major cities, cause major evacuations, and leave burned homes and severed communities in their wake. With $1.23 billion spent so far this year to fight wildfires, the U.S. Forest Service is approaching its all-time record for firefighting costs ($1.65 billion), meaning this may turn out to be the costliest wildfire season ever. While none of this may seem like good news, many agree that this may finally be the summer we came to terms with the realities of climate change. It’s no longer a picture of a polar bear on a floating iceberg (a sad, but seemingly other-worldly picture to those not involved in climate work.) It’s direct impacts to our local communities and the things we love. And waking up that collective reality to unite for broad climate action would certainly be a positive development in itself. Read more.
But that’s just the good news for this past month. We’ll be back with even more good news to share next month, because progress is happening all around us every single day!
—Devon Downeysmith, Climate Communications & Outreach Manager
Need more good news? Check out this great article in the New Yorker: “The Year Humans Got Serious About Saving Themselves from Themselves.”